Log:Back to the Blackboard
The last scenario was painfully distracting for the man with the Pedagogue symbol on his door. He still identifies as Ethan Drake, not Ian Thistle, but the lingering aura of the history teacher from Lake Havasu remains. He saw dead people. All the time. Ghosts were everywhere in his sight, always catching his attention and making the man seem like he wasn't really present. There had been titters among the students that Mister Thistle was really a robot or a golem of some sort, not human. He looked too perfect and acted too detached from humanity.
In truth, he was seeing two worlds at once, the living one, and the dead one beneath it, overlaid. And the spirits of the dead were much more demanding of his attention. He's sitting in his room, on the end of his bed, staring at his chalkboard where he's added new information and removed some older information, still trying to puzzle out this place they are in. He's shunned Thistles sweaters and such, for a dark green tee and sweatpants, barefoot.
Speaking of ghosts that won't leave Ethan alone there's a single knock by Lyle Lucas, or the rake that favors this as first above all faces. He has a tray with food and a carafe of coffee and something that looks like a folded up piece of paper on it.
He still has that posture he had as Lucas like he owns the room and is assessing it and in truth it really obliquely is. The contents of it dear to him and important enough to concern his perennial selfishness with. He is, however, dressed in broken in poressed slacks and a button up shirt folded back to the elbow but no watch. Ethan already has his.R Taking in the site too familiar and in its own way cyclical to the point of being a comfort to find even if the motivations root in a form of distress. Tray is set down and he walks over behind, wraps his arms around his best everything and sets his chin on shoulder closing his eyes. Reprieve. From chaos, from loss of control, to having something he cared about leaving a null in his mind space, this is reprieve and his 'real'.
Ethan sets his hands over Lyle's with a faint, tired smile. "Hey you," he murmurs, turning to press a kiss to the other man's temple. "This last one was really weird, wasn't it?" On the wall of mementos there is a new one, a page from his gradebook, the one for the extra credit and writings from the nature of Evil lesson in his history class. Lucas got a high grade, of course, plus his extra credit.
"Something smells good. What did you bring me?" he asks, turning his pale eyes away from the crazed writings on the chalkboard to focus on Lyle.
The Rogue scopes the names on the page. Yup. It's there. A vague reminder of all the people he extorted and exploited, and the one that forgave him. His eyes close at the kiss giving him a squeeze gently. The smile warms, eyes, grey again, sliding to Ethan "Jaja." Back to his native accent; patient and with consideration for the words he opts for "Something I discovered thanks to Felicity-but-not-Felicity. She's real. And..." His face squirrels away a concerning expression, "yes I really didn't enjoy people trying to turn me into a vampire and hate pizza. Most... disappointing." Standing up he slides a hand to the side of Ethan's face to get a good real look at him, thumb brushing his temple and steals that kiss back. "Missed... you. Uhhh they're calling it dim ...something. I dunno but it's meat and jellies in bread and it's carbs and carnivorous and it loves you. Thought you'd be overthinking all of the new angles. I thought 'brain food'."
Ethan chuckles at the inspection and information. "Dim sum. Steamed filled buns. Cantonese. Don't ask me how I know that because I have no idea. He arches a brow at Lyle. "So there were really vampires? I just couldn't believe it, no matter how hard I tried to. Which is silly, because I was seeing ghosts everywhere. So how could I believe in those, and not other supernatural things." He squints and wrinkles his nose at the irony of that. "It felt more...programmed for me this last time. I feel like I really was just working off an implanted script. Moving me more towards the 'this is all a computer simulation' theory."
He takes one of Lyle's hands. "Sorry I didn't believe you and...Landon? Was that Cillian?" McTavish, his once brother.
The Rogue cracks a wry grin, "Ya know, I never question what you know. While it surprises me somehow Ii'm never surprised." He squeezes the hand back, lifts it, and bits one of the knuckles. one eye squints in sympathy. "Never have I worked so hard to get anyone to believe anything and I impersonated a security officer on a deep space mission."
Were there vampires? He nods slowly and admits, "Ja ja. Landon and I were almost complete drown in that rabbit hole when we'd asked but who is going to believe kids. The one adult that did at first fled and I don't blame him."
The grin widens as Ethan Drake the hungry and knowing is dragged to the food and coffee poured. "Heh yeah your brother now my Twin>? Cillian. Driscoll. The asshole from the boat haus that keeps demanding the Journal. That... was young Landon Marchant."
Ethan moves to the food and takes a sip of coffee with a sound of relief. "And I thought your ghost in Oregon was chatty? The ghosts in Lake Havasu were downright insistent on showing me the ways they all died and talking about their lives. I must have seemed like a total flake, but I was being bombarded constantly."
He shakes his head a little and works on some of the Dim Sum. "Anyway, it felt like those of us who were not in high school this time around, were just blind to everything going on. It was very disturbing in retrospect, but in the moment, we just...couldn't know things."
The Rogue flips a chair around and parks his ass on it and picks out one of the buns even though he was just grazing before he got here. The comparison draws that competitive streak in his forefront, "If it's a competition i will gladly up my haunting skills."
He listens to the adult perspective and processes the greater sum of that. There's a pause and since he needs only one hand reaches over and catches Ethan's knee with the other. "I know... you enough to know how much of a survival net that is pulled away from you. But we're here. better or worse and we can... we can move on. Though... it um, it happened again." His head tilting to the side and he admits, "Be nice to stop losing things I care about so it...helps having you here. Believe me. but hey, you didn't need to hire me to kill anyone this time so we might be improving."
"Who did we lose this time?" Ethan asks, worried. There are people the pair are closer to than any others, and there is always the fear they may wake up here without them. He stuffs a pork dumpling into his maw. Some things don't change, like the appetite of the Bedlam Boys. He can't stop investigating their predicament, no matter how much Lyle asks him to. It's just his nature. But no matter where it leads, he intends to bring the other man with him.
The Rogue takes his hand back but leaves his foot in contact along the side of Ethan's. Some semblance of real, tangible, and reliable. The pause brings him back to the question or perhaps the other way around and the answer is slightly uncomfortable. Well damn. Taking a deep breath he goes to answer...and he's still chewing. Sec. Second more. Swallow. Sip of coffee. Good to go. "We, um... Matthew's door cleared. Our frat brother." Our. Had Lyle lived. It's... it's still his extended clutch. He should have been there and still he tries not to think of it that way. Big toe nudges an ankle. That's for himself. Drawing a breath and steadying himself he says, "Yeah um... Finn, or Angel from the ship." Aaah Martyr. You poor dead bastard. "He died in scenario after we had kinda a low key epic blowout. Saw him here in the caf though. Dunno if he believes I'm not gonna run up on em. we'll be okay but... yeah Matt."
"Shit," Ethan curses quietly, pausing in his eating to grimace and run a hand through his hair. "He was a good guy. I hope he, maybe, is free? Maybe when we do enough good, they let us go? Who knows anymore." He has a lot of bad to make up for in here, clearly. He wonders just how much bad shit he got into in the real world. "Rado? Seb?" he asks. "They ok? Angel should know by now how this shit works. You aren't Lucas Marchant."
The Rogue blinks at Ethan and can't believe that's where his mind went. He shoots down that theory with two words, "Addison. Barrett." His head dips Yes Colorado. Yes Sebastian are okay. "Jaja, and Connor and Jaime. All present." Beast and Loner. Being told he's not Lucas Marchart gets a snort and a cocky grin and the most Lyle answer he can shoot back with, "Fuck no. I'm better looking ad at least 2 years older than him." His head swims shaking hit before he grins with a total look of incredulity. He's better this time than when he put a bullet in his spouse's head though. It fades and he admits, "He lost someone though. Lucas did, but... weirdly I'm grateful? I feel he grew and came out of that...healthier. He was still figuring out how to let himself trust, be loved, but... it worked out for him." Jaw tightening he admits, "Really missed you when I woke up this time. Shaved and everything."
"I noticed," Ethan says about the shaving with a grin. "I missed you too. I was so afraid I'd walk out of my door and you'd be 18 years old and that would be really, really messed up," he admits. "I mean, Bella, Max, she changed. It could happen to any of us, right?"
The Rogue quips back handing his man another steamed bun. "yeah well I was afraid last time you'd still be a priest, so ja. I understand entirely and thankfully I'm not twenty. I swear every time I'm young, mate, I lose the ability to make sound decisions. well... 'cept you." He'll throw that compliment grenade out there.
Attention going up to the wall he considers, "We should give ourselves two wakenings here to work on theory, but promise me you will let me steal you for a break. All theory and no perspective brings bad answers and I can't watch you go through getting stuck in fugue. I did bring some ideas for tests though."
"Oh God, we were such crazy idiots in our youth. Our Oregon youth at least," Ethan admits with a laugh, accepting the bun from Lyle. "We were definitely thinking with our dicks and a whole lot of amped up testosterone, weren't we? I jumped a lake in a fucking Camaro. Still can't believe that worked."
He nods at the bargaining for time away from his research. "Agreed. I'm not going to get real answers if they come from a place of obsession. And besides, we've been apart too much these last few...whatever we want to call them. Scenarios? Lives?"
The Rogue watches the storyteller in Ethan light up a bit with some of the good. "Mid-lives crisises? Psychotic breaks? Loops? Some call them episodes or scenarios. I think lives, journeys maybe? Expeditions I kinda like." Eyebrow arches as he sees what he thinks of that.
The tone is warm still, as much a conspiracy theorist as his partner. They do have to keep one another from falling in too deep though. "Yeah we have a few new pieces to work with. I was thinking do dinner in Oregon later and...look I need to visit the dogs. I need to be around life. Something alive. Not all the walls. We might bring our notes with us and test from there. I'm just wondering if we travel from Havasau to Oregon will we find all the same landmarks."
"Expeditions is close. But I think maybe...Explorations is more appropriate? It feels like we're exploring different times and ages and themes each time." Ethan rubs a finger along his jaw thoughtfully. He nods at the dinner and drive suggestion. "I like that. I need some Oregon time too. We need our family dinner. I am starting to work on a new theory or at least a new question."
He gets up and moves to the chalkboard where he has jotted in one corner a list of book titles, very diverse ones from a children's book to an engineering manual. "The bookshelves in the common area. Anytime we think about a book we want to read and go to them, one is there, which leads me on three paths here." He points to some of his shorthand nearby. "One. Maybe this is a technology beyond our understanding and it has the ability to replicate what we desire in an instant, much like the food delivery. Aliens might be experimenting on is, or a government organization that is ultra-classified and using advanced science that is unknown to the general population."
He looks over his shoulder at Lyle. "Two, this is indeed a program, a sort of AI environment, and we are scripted. So the things we 'desire' are actually things we have been coded to desire to some degree. Lines of code prompting us to read such and such a book, which has been coded into the bookshelf itself."
He sighs then. "Three. We are in a loop of some sort, a living looping life-cycle of previous lives. We have been these lives before and will be them again. The things provided for us are here, because we've asked for them at some prior incarnation of say, Ethan Drake or Nolan McTavish. We've already done this, and we're in new iterations of it every time, maybe with subtle differences. Purgatory? Coma? Who knows?"
The Rogue leans back and just watches crossing ankle up over knee and still nibbling on food. Unlike Beast he can eat forever and ever. "I doooo love it when you hypothesize in front of me." The eyebrows waggle, but amusing as his humor he is listening astutely. As Ethan's attention goes sidelong in gesture he notes the volumes to see if anything new jumps out. The shifts tell a lot. Is there a high school history book? Likely but he doesn't wait forever to find it.
When the theories are listed the first gets a thumb raised. This is number one. "Sooo we're beyond what the Noc had and are far in the future from even Icarus project?" He nods slowly and wonders out loud, "Could be simulation to understand culture lost?"
Then there's two. Index finger goes up and his steady gaze meets Ethan's. Totally watching the board and not his ass. Mostly. Sure. We're focused. "So theory two is we're an algorithm. Different algorithms run in patterns on a collision field in these... explorations to see how the pattern runs when set upon by varied stimuli?" There's a pause and he reminds "I was a security programmer a couple times." He warms a smile that reaches his eyes, plural and amused.
Middle finger extends to join the first two and slowly fingers curl in a ball. The smile fades and he looks away. "This one's always bothered him. There's a murmur from him in those soft vowels, "Four is we're put that way deliberate but I dunno I can believe that. And five is we are all entirely hallucinating this like a bad dream and only you are real. Or maybe me. Hard to say soooo... I think" He draws a deep breath and tries to not let himself short out thinking about this or lose his breakfast. "So I think we should try to make peace with these one by one."
Ethan nods. "Agreed. But for now I think, maybe, a nice long hot shower would do us both good." He begins stripping off his tee as he heads that way, looking over his shoulder. "Coming?" he invites, with a wink.
The Rogue takes a deep breath to hold it trying not to let his mind wander about them being veggies like the damn Matrix. God there's another theory. Fuck fuck fuck why do they have to extrapolate fractal possibilities so damn fast? And then? There's a t-shirt being lobbed past him easily set aside. Lyle stops, and looks back up. It's the invite out of madness from crashing head first into 'the loop' That familiar that brings them back to center of their gravity as he replies casually, "Well it's too much water for one person. And since you are so good at sharing?" He stands and walks after him, "Be a damn shame if I didn't." He pauses and his eyes catch that grading sheet with the names of his peers, friends, and sometimes loved ones that are gone, but looks further over where his handwriting is and back to Ethan still wearing his watch as he heads into the Bedlam Boys patented tiled conference room.
They're okay. Everything's okay right now.
The only task remains, "Well now we gotta figure out what to make for family dinner... after."