Log:Croissants and Considerations
The Addict is curled up in a chair, legs tucked beneath them. They're wearing black leggings and an oversized green sweater than slouches over one shoulder. Their hair is slapped back in a loose bun, and their makeup is restricted to a mere coat of lipgloss. Danny was such a boy, and slipping back into gender fluidity is like putting on a comfortable coat.
They're reading a book about the ancient poet Cattulus, and a cup of tea rests on the side table beside them. They look comfortable here, and there's no sign of distress for all that they've been through.
The Scholar emerges from the Hall of Rooms, dressed in a red, black, and white plaid flannel shirt, denim jeans, and hiking shoes. There's a better-rested, happier air about him, like the darker concerns of the previous wakening have lessened somewhat. Spying the Addict, he angles towards the couch. "Ma--Briar," he says, correcting himself at the last second with a small smile. "How are you doing?" Briar and genderfluid or not, the Scholar still sees his cousin in the person reading Cattulus.
The Addict looks up and smiles. The sweetness of that smile is Martin's influence. He was always a sweet boy. Closing the book, Briar says, "I'm well. It's nice to just be able to rest again and not worry about murderous ghosts." They glance toward the TV. "I've been tempted to peek in, but I thought about it, and I decided it's the past now. I'd rather leave it there."
They take a moment to study Bastian. "I'm glad to see you," they say. They see their cousin in Bastian as well. "The night we lost you, it was bad. I never had the chance to say, but you were kind to me. With the dogs, I mean."
With a sideways glance for the TV, the Scholar says, "I couldn't bring myself to watch. The thought that I might see Colorado dying..." He makes a face, shakes his head. Once was enough for the whole of his existence. "And, it might show our more, intimate, moments as well. I'd rather not intrude on anyone." A small sigh and nod of agreement for the relief. "It was a difficult life in there. I'm glad it's done."
He smiles, faint and apologetic. "Thank you. I'm sorry for abandoning you all like that. I should have been more careful, but I lost my way, I think, when Nails took Max, and..." His voice dies and his gaze goes unfocused. He pulls himself out of that reverie, looks at the Addict again. "Anyways. It's good to see you too. I'm sorry you didn't get to," he gestures, "have a life, with Finn."
The Addict winces and says, "Yeah, that would be rough. Even knowing they'll wake up here, it's hard to see them scared and in pain, I imagine." They takes up their tea and have a sip. "Dare saw me die." Their brow knits, as though they're not sure how they feel about that. With a small smile, they add, "I had fun, but I don't think I could live Danny's life for long. No shame, no sense." They shake their head.
They incline their head as they say, "Thank you. It would've been nice. We're getting along well here, though. For however long we have. I'm just trying to appreciate each day as it happens." In a lower tone, they ask, "How is Max?"
Of the Martyr, Dare, watching, the Scholar says, "Some of them want to watch, so they'll be ready to help. So they'll know and we won't have to say." He sounds unsure of what he thinks of that. His lips twitch in a small, almost-smile. "No shame isn't that bad. No sense, well...he was only, what, twenty? Twenty-one?" He shrugs in a suggestion the Addict shouldn't judge themselves, or Danny, too much for that. "Can't expect him to have much at that age."
He licks his lips, considering the question of Max. "She's managing, I think. At least, I think she is. I hope she is." There's more than a little bit of Sebastian in the response; Roen would have been more blunt and simply said he had no idea. He sighs at his own lack of certainty. "She's been through so much."
"He lived a charmed life," Briar says, "and he gave it in a good cause. I suppose I can't complain too much." They take a sip of their tea and sigh contently. The Factility is safety to them, and calm amidst the chaos of violent lives. "It was fun," they say, "until it wasn't."
On the topic of Max, they listen intently. "She really has," they say. "It was a rough life, and I don't recall Prosperity being any kinder. I wish I knew what I could do for her. Beneath the anger, there's a fierce heart I admire."
The Scholar's mouth flattens briefly. Unfortunately for him, it was never fun; he definitely drew the short straw this time around. There were small moments of respite, though, and he thinks on those instead. He says, "It was good, except when it wasn't," in a sort of orthologous agreement.
Of Creepshow's time in Prosperity, he says, "Yes, Bella had a hard life. I didn't know her very well, Sebastian kept to himself like most of the family. But he heard things, knew what people thought of her." He falls quiet a moment. "Listening seems to help the most," he says, presently. "Accepting who she is, even when it's not easy."
The Coward strolls in on his long-legged stride. The weird thing here is, physically he's still Colorado Jones, twenty five and made of muscles. He's dressed like he was previously in the Facility, simply in jeans and a button-down shirt, cowboy hat, and boots. So it's kind of like seeing Jonesy in somebody else's clothes, but the way he holds his face, the haunted depths in his eyes...those are pure Coward. His gaze searches out Bastian, and he smiles Rado Colton's weary smile at him. "Bastian." He looks at Briar, puzzled. "You seem mighty familiar, miss, but can't place you."
The Addict nods to Bastian. "Yeah, I think I can do that. Listen, I mean. And not take it personally, the way she is. Being Danny helped with that. Not taking things personally. He just didn't." Briar may not approve of all things Danny, but they're sifting through the gems to be found. "Danny liked her because of the way she was." They smile a little at that.
They sit up and turn to look as Colorado steps in. "Oh, no, Colorado. What happened?" Someone hasn't gotten the memo yet that the survivors are straggling in.
"It's maybe less about not taking it personally and more about...acknowledging that her nature is what it is." The Scholar looks out over the parlor, eyes settling on the piano. "We all seem to have them, some kind of core to ourselves that the rest orbits. Hers is a very particular kind, the kind people would rather deny than accept, because it makes them uncomfortable." He might be prepared to go on in this vein, but then the Cowards joins them.
"Colorado," he says, his prior concerns giving way to a warm smile. The Scholar is till equal parts fascinated and amused by the sight of the Coward strutting around as Colorado Jones. Holding out his left hand, the hand wearing the silver and bronze wedding ring, he says, "It's Martin--I mean, Danny," in a low voice.
The Coward's eyes go wide, startled by both the revelation and by Briar's question. "Aw, hell, Danny, I'm sorry! I meant, uh, you're looking, very ...good. Yeah. Very good. Very feminine." He clears his throat. Awkward. "Anyway, we're out. It ended. We got rescued." Sauntering over to the Scholar, he kisses him fondly on the cheek, then slouches his long self down on a couch. "I beat Ethan's dad within an inch of his life, afterwards."
The Addict perks up, and there are dimples with that smile. "That's great!" they say. Then they lower their gaze when Colorado notes their femininity. "Thank you. Danny was such a boy. I'm going for some equilibrium." They take a drink of their tea, settling down contentedly. "I'm glad you all survived. I hope Scott's okay. I hated leaving him all alone, but he does all right."
The Scholar returns the kiss on his cheek with one to the Coward's forehead. His eyebrows go up. "Did you happen to visit Lyle's father too?" Another thing Bastian missed out on by dying: teaching Ethan and Lyle's fathers a well-deserved lesson or three.
He nods towards the dispensers, leaning that way mid-step. Sebastian would have fallen right over, doing this. In fact, Roen might have too, with his vertigo, but the Scholar holds this stance with ease. "Did either of you want anything?"
"Scott was, well, as okay as any of us, I reckon." The Coward rolls his shoulders, easily visible as muscular even under the shirt. "Haven't seen him? Hope he comes out soon. Sometimes we take a while." That's the voice of experience speaking. He smiles at the Scholar's question and it's a smile entirely unlike Jones or Colton. This smile is Bates'. "We went to see Lyle's father first. I was just the getaway driver for that one. Would you bring me ..." he pauses, thinking. "Don't suppose that thing can mix up a proper Malibu Sunset. Maybe just one of those chewy European beers then."
The Addict says, "I can't wait to see him again. He really cared a lot, and I'll always love him for that. I want him to know I'm okay." 'Can't wait' must be a figure of speech, since they make no move to get up our move toward Scott's door. "I'd take another tea," they say to Bastian. "I'm enjoying being sober for what feels like the first time in years."
The Scholar studies the Coward's smile with intense curiosity. It's not a smile he knows. "Glad to hear that was taken care of," he says, tone absent as he ponders the Coward. The question of whether or not the dispenser can produce a proper mixed drink has him furrowing his brow. "It can make food, I don't see why not a mixed drink. I'll try. We'll see what it comes up with." He adds, "It's probably not going to be as good as yours were," in a preemptive apology.
"What kind of tea--herbal? Black? Green?" The Scholar starts heading towards the dispensers, looking back over his shoulder to show he's waiting for a response from the Addict.
The Coward's smile is more bared teeth than a true smile; his eyes don't crinkle. It's a vicious expression, cool and satisfied with someone else's downfall. A moment is all it lasts, before his face relaxes back into the Coward. He raises his eyebrows, considering the issue of the dispenser. "Suppose I could get it to give me the ingredients. That might be fun." He looks with interest at the Addict. "Danny was such a boy," he says, returning to what the Addict said earlier. "Not you."
The Martyr emerges from the room with the anatomically correct heart with a drop of blood carved into it. He is wearing a purple linen poet shirt with a lot of neck and wrist ruffles open to display a bit of pasty chest and tight black on black paisley trousers with purple high top sneakers. The differences between the Martyr and Finn are subtle. He is the same age, with very similar hair, though slightly longer and in a slightly different cut, and is still long limbed and gangling. Though he is still very thin, he is wiry with it instead of borderline emaciated.
On spotting the Coward, he smiles and gives a little wave, "Hey! You made it! Caleb will be so happy to see you!" He approaches Briar and bends to offer them kiss, "You sleep okay?" He looks relaxed. Very, relaxed, "Morning, bstian, how was the Noc?"
"Black," Briar says. "Ceylon, with a little sugar." They smile at Bastian. "Thank you." That Jersey meets Brooklyn accent softens any overly-politeness. They nod to Colorado emphatically. "Such a boy." They say it fondly, though. "As far as boys go, he wasn't so bad." But. Briar just isn't a boy, not like that. When Dare enters the room, they sit up and watch him approach. The kiss is delivered sweetly and mostly chaste, given the public nature of the place."I slept like a baby," they say.
A brief, worried look for that not-smile of the Coward's, but the Scholar doesn't let it deter his mission to the dispenser. "I'll see if I can get it to give me those," he says of the Malibu Sunset's components. He nods at the Addict, holds up a finger to the Martyr in a gesture of 'one moment'.
He putters around among the dispensers for a few minutes, returns with a loaded down tray. It's the kind of thing which Roen could do and Sebastian would have spilled everywhere. There's a series of small glass decanters bearing the theoretical ingrediants to a Malibu Sunset, ice in a bowl, and an empty glass with an ornate glass stirring stick; a teapot, steaming and ready to be poured, with a tiny bowl of sugar cubes; a plate of croissants, with butter and berry preserves; a tall, pint glass of Guinness (in case the mixed drink doesn't pan out); and a glass of faintly amber soda, perhaps ginger ale.
"I'm pretty sure this is what you need," he tells Colorado, setting the decanters out in front of him, followed by the ice and empty glass. "But, just in case..." He adds the Guinness. The pot of tea and sugar he hands off to the Addict, and the rest he keeps to himself, sitting near the Coward, but leaving him enough space to mix his drink. "It was interesting," he says of the Noc. "I'm still not sure what to make of it--if it was real, or, if it was something imagined by the same kinds of people who imagined what we read in books." He tears off a bite of croissant and chews on it thoughtfully.
"Finn!" the Coward says, delighted to see him. "And lookin' so sharp, too." He gets up to afflict the Martyr with a bro-hug, kinda rough and playful. The Coward is still 25 years old and sleek and muscled as a thoroughbred. He looks just like Colorado Jones. Doesn't dress like him, though. "That's a hell of a look, brother. Love it." He smiles at the Scholar and this is Jones' smile, flashy and genuine. "Why thank you darlin'. Let's see if I can still do this."
The Martyr hugs Colorado back, genuinely happy to see him, "It's nice to own more than two shirts again. I never did get to see you mix a drink." He seems not at all distressed by the chaste nature of Briar's kiss. He sits by Briar and sets a hand where it might be taken or might not. He's studying the Coward, intelligent eyes catalogueing changes to be thought abut later. He flashes Bastian a smile and the guesture and definately seems in know hurry. "I would like a look at it at some point, I think."
The Addict takes the teapot with a grateful nod to Bastian. They top off their teacup and stir in a spoon of sugar. Then they set it aside to cool and take Dare's hand, fingers intertwining his. "With you back, Colorado, it finally feels right here. Like home. Having you and Sebastian both." They aside to Dare, "Bastian was my cousin in Prosperity. I would've been lost without him. He showed me around, and seeing him and Colorado together made me realize that kind of love could exist. I would've been a mess without them. They're truly wonderful."
The Scholar smiles at the Addict; despite how it all ended, he can look back on those parts of Prosperity fondly. "Thank you, Briar," he murmurs around a sip of his ginger ale. His attention moves to the Coward, watching as he attempts to assemble the drink, then down to the silver and bronze ring on his left ring finger. After a second of quiet contemplation he sets to tearing apart his croissant and smears pieces of it with butter and preserves, looks askance at the Martyr. "I might be able to generate it myself, now that I've seen it. But, there's something you should all know." He directs what he says next specifically at the Coward. "When we went in there, Max turned into Ramona. The synthetic that she was in that life." He raises his eyebrows as if to check that the Coward is following what he's implying. "She looked like her, acted like her, spoke like her."
The bottles are perfect, not yet cracked. "Too full for tossing 'em," the Coward says, disappointed. "Need my pour bottles. But while they're still sealed--" he plucks up the bottle of coconut rum and flips it into the air, nearly grazing the ceiling. He catches it neatly behind his back. "Whew! There woulda been a mess in here if I dropped that!" he says, laughing. Then he opens the grenadine to sniff it. "Real stuff." That, he pours a couple ounces into the bottom of the glass. First he fills the glass with ice on top of that, then in goes rum and pineapple juice and orange juice. It smells amazing, like what a postcard of Hawaii should smell like. The Coward rapidly stirs it a few times, until it's diluted just enough and there's a handsome gradient of bright orange to deep red. He sips it. "Haven't lost my touch," he proclaims, and toasts the others.
The Martyr flashes Briar a quick, slightly shy smile as their fingers twine. "They certainly are." He teases, "I thought you said you were a brat?" To Colorado he says, "You really were every bit as brave as I thought you could be when we went against Nails. You were amazing." As the implications sink in reguarding Ramona, his eyes search Bastian's face, "I'm not sure how to frame the obvious question." Then he's watching Colorado's performance with some fascination, not having seen anything like it before, "Wow!"
The Addict releases Dare's hand so that they can clap at Colorado's performance. "You've still got it," they say. Then they reclaim Dare's hand and plant a kiss on the back of it. Their attention shifts to Bastian, then. "Are you saying if we go to an established lifetime there, we'll turn into who we were? If Dare and I went to a cafe in Oregon in 1989, would I be Danny?" They glance at Dare to see how he's taking this. "What would happen if we went to a location where we weren't? If I went back to the Noc, for example. That place was before my time."
Though Bastian would have never done such a thing, the Scholar is happy to watch the Coward at work with obvious enjoyment. "We'll have to get a mixology book and you can try to find me the perfect drink," he says. He holds up his ginger ale in a toast as well.
He nods at the Addict. "If you or I go to one of those doors and think of Prosperity, and step into it, we'll look like the people we were there. Be them, maybe." He has some of his croissant. "I was never on the Noc, so I didn't change. If," he nods at the Martyr, "F--Dare, joined us in Prosperity, he'd look like he does here, I think." A sip of ginger ale, then, "And, there are people and animals. They interact with us. Max was even able to bring something from one of them, some flower seeds."
The Coward sketches a little bow, grinning. Pleased as heck. "Why thank you, fellas. And lady." The grin fades off, though, as he returns to the other topics. "Then I'm not goin' on the Noc," he tells the Scholar. "I don't wanna be Bates again. Scaley son of a bitch, he was. You'd hate him. You'd--" 'hate me' is the next obvious statement, but he cuts it off and sips his drink. He takes a minute to savor it, ostentatiously, like he can't possibly finish his sentence he is too busy enjoying this perfectly-made Malibu Sunset.
He does smile at Danny, though this one is subdued. "Rado had to hide his love for men his whole life. Guess we all did, though frankly I don't think anybody was really fooled. When he met Sebastian, he couldn't remember why on Earth he was hiding something so beautiful. I'm...glad we could serve as a good example. Ah, what ought I call you now, I don't feel right callin' you Danny." To Finn, he raises the glass. "Thank you, brother. I'm not usually a, ah, well, have you seen my door?"
The Coward's door has an image of a lanky cowboy, clearly him, cowering behind a rock while a group of heroes fight a dragon. Not flattering.
The Martyr claps with real enjoyment. When his hand is kissed, Dare gets this look of such naked adoration, there and then hidden in a flash. his tone is normal though when he emphatically agrees, "That is amazing, 'Rado. It really is." He looks at Bastian as he answers Briar's question, "I have no idea how to feel about that. Lives we mourned returning. Is it a tempting form of self torure or a kind of mercy?" His eyes are kind as he turns back to Colorado, "Don't go if you don't want to, but don't think we can't understand change." He looks quickly at his lover and back. "I think we will like you whoever you might have been. We are none of us what we were." He shakes his head no, "I'm still learning things like that and no one pointed yours out to me. I'm Dare, by the way, sign of the severed heart." He gives Colorado a warm smile, "I'm glad I came out entirely when I was Finn. I'm glad I lived those last days full throttle. I'm glad you got a chance to do the same. Living the way you did in that time and place was brave. Goingback for Laine and fighting Nails the way you did was brave. It's not really courage if you've never been frightened. That Colorado was a good man whatever you were on the Noc. The Beaver Lake colorado is part of you too." He takes a quick glance at Bastian, "I really did think you were straight that whole time right until you blurted out what you did in the middle of that meeting in front of everyone. I swear, I never said a word about it the whole time I was alive, Bastian, except to you."
"Animals and people?" Briar takes up their tea with their free hand. "I definitely want to check it out." To Dare, they say, "You could meet Martin, or at least see what he was like. Cafe Xenon could have actual waiters." To Colorado, they say, "You changed my life for the better. As for doors, mine is the one with the broken scale and spilled bottle and pills. Who am I to throw stones? You've proven your worth." They sip their tea, then say, "I'm going by Briar these days."
They smile at Dare as they say, "You really let go toward the end. It was nice to see. There was already so much to be afraid of. Who you were shouldn't have been one of them."
The Scholar reaches over to take the Coward's free hand and give it a squeeze. "I wouldn't," he says, voice low and insistent. He seems like he might say more about that, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, he settles for another squeeze of the Coward's hand, this time accompanied by a smile for the memories of their time in Nevada. "At school there wasn't much for Sebastian to hide. No one was really seeking any kind of relationship." His smile turns wry for a moment. "And back in Prosperity there wasn't anyone--at least, no one who'd consider someone who looked like him." His smile warms again. "Until Colorado, of course." A final squeeze, then he's back to decimating his plate of croissants.
He shakes his head at the Martyr. "Thank you, but it's alright. He wasn't upset at you about that. He was never particularly open about anything, even with people he was close to. Lyle and Ethan and Colorado knew, but I don't think anyone else did. Maybe some suspected. But he didn't care if anyone found out, not at that point, given what we were up against." He nods at the Addict, who makes a the same point. "Really, all he had to lose over it was his pension, and I'm not sure her cared about that either."
A moment of silence, then, "I worry it's just a distraction. A way to keep us from looking for an escape, and focused on what was taken from us." The boys Colorado and Sebastian raised, Candice, Olivia--a litany of names. He sighs, shakes his head.
"Pleasure to meet you, Dare of the severed heart, Briar of the...pills," the Coward says with a gracious nod. Cowboy manners, those. "You can just keep on callin' me Colorado if it tickles your fancy. What's the heart mean, do you think? Kinda obscure." The pills, well, that's obvious in combination with Danny's behavior. Politely he doesn't mention it, but he does nod to Briar. "Thank you, honey," he says quietly. He winds his fingers with the Scholar's, and looks at him with a complex expression. Love, sorrow, pain. "Like my new room? A way to keep us comfortable."
The Martyr kisses the top of Briar's head, "It wouldn't be Xenon without the gorgeous wait staff and I would like to meet Martin. It would be an interesting way to get to know you better as you are." More seriously, "Your advise was always good, Briar. It wasn't just talking to the ghosts and coming the rest of the way out. You gave me so many ideas that we used. We were a good team."
Bastian's description of himself in Prosperity honestly confuses him, "I am having trouble imagining a way you could look that would... discourage interest." He gives him a crooked smile, "I am glad you weren't angry after. I respected you so much. Your opinion mattered."
He reaches for a croissant, trying to decide if he should air his likely crazy theory. Dismissing it for the moment, he opts to talk about the signs instead, "Assuming the theory that the sigil's speak to our essence is true...." He studies the folds of cooked dough, gathering words, "Within about half an hour of arriving hear, I'd figured out I couldn't really be Finn. The discovery of the obvious difference in something so essential to who I was led to finding a bunch of smaller ones. The thing that calmed me down was digging deeper to find the things that had stayed the same. I wasn't who I thought I was, but if you eliminate the surface things.... Addisson used to mock me as a bleeding heart. He wasn't wrong despite the tone. I did what I did out of a love so deep and wide it could want to heat a planet. It was in the things I fought for before I stepped out of my car on the island, even if those things weren't the kind of true that Beaver Lake was. It was why I fought so hard to help christine keep us organized. It's why I grudged every life. It was why I was willing to risk and eventually die even though I wanted to live so much. I loved my life, but in the end, I always loved other people's more. If Chance is the one who comforts. I'm the one who rips my own heart out if that's what's needed."
The Addict tells Bastian, "I thought you were handsome in Prosperity. Though I admit, kindness is always attractive, and you were my savior." They incline their head to Colorado. "And you are breathtaking." They curl closer to Dare, resting their head on his shoulder. "In Prosperity, I needed laudanum to function. At Beaver Lake, I was just high all the time because I could be. Whatever our purpose is, maybe that's mine. I don't really feel like getting wasted right now, so maybe this place gives me some reprieve." They smile a little, "or ask me again in a couple hours. I'm just trying to figure out what purpose a pill-popper serves in this experiment, whatever it is."
The Scholar returns the Coward's look, holds his hand that much tighter. "Yes, it's a nice escape of it's own. Protected." Arching an eyebrow at the Martyr, he says, "Another flatterer," in a dry tone, giving the Coward a sidelong glance. He gestures at his eyes and the white in his hair. "It was this. They thought it was a mark of the Devil. It meant I was cursed." He huffs a laugh for how ridiculous that seems now, though in there, it had been all too real. "Thank you, Dare. Though Bastian never said it, he appreciated that you were as supportive as you were. As you can imagine, that's not something he had much of in that part of his life."
He leans back, listening to the Martyr with a distant expression. "Yes, that...sounds about right. My, ah, door's a little more esoteric--a young man sitting in a chair in the wilderness, reading. There's a bookcase behind him, but it's really a dam, holding back a lake." Someone who studies? He shrugs. "It's true that both Roen and Sebastian were naturalists, both focused on studying in some way, though their lives couldn't have been more different." He smiles, ducks his head. "You're too kind, Briar. I want to think anyone would have done you the courtesies Sebastian did. You were his cousin, after all."
His share of the croissants eaten and ginger ale finished, the Scholar stands. "Since there are animals now, I think I'm going to go to a part of Oregon that won't turn me back into Bastian. The coast, maybe--I'd like to see Thor's Well." He looks down at the Coward, still holding his hand, eyebrows up. "It's not a warm and sunny beach like Jones had in Texas, but it's still lovely. At least, it looks that way to those memories."
The Coward listens to Dare so intently, eyes on him, leaning forward. Enraptured. "My God," he says softly. "You're amazing. Now I understand your door. You're like a saint, aren't you? The one who'll sacrifice himself for others. There's a word for that..." he trails off, searching for it. "Can't think of it. Maybe it'll come to me. Thank you," he adds, sincere. "Thank you for sharin' that. It's beautiful."
He stands with the Scholar, looking at him with love and pride. "Sounds just fine to me. Anywhere with you is Paradise. Lead on." And the two of them make their way out.
The Martyr curls an arm around Briar and rests his cheek on the top of their head. "It's been exciting to see what you are like sober, Love, but I think I'll always take you are you are, at least while I'm me and we're here. Experiment or toture or Time Bandit senario, you are essential as far as I'm concerned. You are creative in sideways ways. The way you think is important, maybe that ties up with the laudanum or pot or pills."
He shakes his head no, "Not flattery. Just truth." He studies Bastian, "I had an idea of that. I didn't always know how best to be supportive, but I wanted to be." And then he gives a soft, rueful laugh, "You and your fungus." More seriously, "Holding back the deluge with... thought and study and a strength of will. That does sound like you, Bastian."
And then he is laughing with a hint of self mockery, "I'm not saint, Colorado. I've got plenty of flaws..." he watches them go, trying very hard to make it look less like oggling than it actully is. Definately not a saint.
"Same purpose I serve, I suppose, Briar." That's The Confidant, same ol' tall, redhaired, pale fellow. Those present might notice a change in his accent--a little different from the last time he was seen. It's warm and homey, like a blend of the Midwest and the South. He's appeared in the hallway, leaning against the wall again. He's looking particularly thirst trap-like in low slung jeans and a t-shirt that comes up a little short and a little tight. He watched the departure of The Coward and Scholar and he smiles. "That's what I like to see, you know? People coming together here. Staying together too. Seems like they are filtering in...is it over?"
The Addict says, "Take care, you two." They snuggle into the arm around them. "Maybe there's some value in needing something, being willing to compromise common sense to get it. It requires a different way of thinking." They sound briefly hopeful, but then admit, "Or it could just be that this place chooses to define me by a flaw." They look up at Chance and smile. They're gaze lingers, though with far more subtlety than Danny ever would have shown. "Colorado says they got off the island. It's all over."
The Martyr asks Briar, "Is everyone hotter here than they were when we were alive, or is it just me?" He flashes a smile at Chance who was clearly right about things turning out okay, "I haven't checked since they saved the world either." He is wearing a purple linen poet shirt with a lot of neck and wrist ruffles open to display a bit of pasty chest and tight black on black paisley trousers with purple high top sneakers. He offers Briar his croisant being too busy enjoying the cuddling to actually eat it as it turns out.
The Confidant lets out a little sigh, clearly relieved. He opens his mouth, closes it and then says, "If you two want to be alone, I can leave. I just heard Colorado and I remembered I never spoke to him and...I..." He trails off and seems to realize he might be looking kinda sexy there and wraps his arms around himself. "I kinda inherited Derek's body. Not the height, thank god, but the, uh...cut." Not that The Confidant was ever out of shape. Just not so...tight. And it's bugging the hell out of him. "Anyway, if you don't mind the company...neither do I."
The Addict takes the croissant and nibbles. They're in black leggings and an oversized green sweater that slopes over one shoulder. Their hair is slapped back in a loose bun. "Derek had a lot to recommend him," Briar says in a low tone. "I'm always happy to see you, Chance. You're one of my favorite people." To Dare, they say, "In Prosperity, Chance and I had the chance to bond over our situation. It wasn't a good one, but he talked me through some rough stuff. And, of course, once we were here, he helped me come to terms with being... what was the term? Gender fluid?"
The Martyr give Chance a warm smile, "Come sit. We've had time to get reaquanted and it's good to see you. Would you be willing to explain the gender fluid thing again for me? I want to understand better."
"Gender fluid!" The Confidant echoes, proudly. He then just helps himself to a seat. "See, I come from the future and 2149 doesn't count, by then these things were...nothing. No big deal. No labels. But 2018, my first Go? Big on the label thing. Gender fluid basically means that a person's gender identity was not in stone. Some days you might feel and appear, er, present--more masculine, some days more feminine and others days? Whatever the fuck you want. Fluid, like water, is very mobile. And that's how Briar seemed to me. Or my 2018 brain. I was a paramedic then and I had to take classes on this kind of thing. You know, to understand the clients and so on. Be sensitive and tolerant. But I'm sitting there like, I'm deaf, am I supposed to throw stones at my fellow oppressed? No." He chuckles and blushes slightly. "It's funny how those snapshot memories are. It's a shallow memory but I always seem to remember how I felt more than the moment itself."
"And that's exactly what it's like," Briar says. "I feel more feminine right now because Danny was such a boy. I feel like I need to stretch my wings a little." Though they're only wearing lipgloss today. Smoky eyes take effort, and today is a lazy day. "Some days, I wish I was just born female, then others I'm glad I wasn't. I don't mind the plumbing. I just like to look nice."
They polish off the croissant, then brush crumbs from their sweater. "There's something to be said for us having an essential nature independent of our lives, considering Martin was too scared to express this side of himself and Danny just didn't seem to have it."
The Martyr gets that slightly distant look he gets when he's taking in new information. After though, he gives chance another warm smile and kisses the top of Briar's head, "Okay. That makes sense. Thank you." After a moment he asks Chance, "What's 2018 like? Did they find the cure for AIDS? Did we ever get real equality and was Reagonomics swept into the ash heap of history as it deserved to be?" He gives Briar a gentle squeeze, "You look better than nice, Love. You look fantastic like this. feminine or masculine or in between you are just right."
"No, no cure. But it's not a death sentence anymore." The Confidant says, with relief. "I hadn't thought about that. The 1980s and being...anything but straight and white. Derek lived in New York City during the worst of it. But those are snapshots. I recall fear. Anyway, people live a long time with just HIV by then. Women get married and have children--And there was a medication to take for prevention of transmission but that's really fuzzy. I know that like, three times removed. It's still around and a problem but it's nothing like the 1980s, man. So much better. Socially, by 2018, so much better there too." He regards the Addict now. "You are a stone cold fox, Briar. However you decide to present. But...it's funny. Chance was very straight. Henry wasn't. Had a boyfriend and an ex-wife. Jody wasn't straight either. He knew that but...never spoke a word until Jonah. Derek was straight but gay for pay."
The Addict ducks their head with a pleased, coy smile when Dare and Chance both proclaim them attractive. "Thank you," they say. "It seems like a waste to have this wonderful wardrobe and not use it." They tuck a loose strand of hair behind one ear. "Martin was mostly attracted to men, but he loved his wife. Danny was more attracted to women, but he loved his boyfriend. And he would've shown Derek a good time if he'd had half a chance. I'm more comfortable with men. I'm attracted to women, but shy, I think. They tend to want manly men, and honey, that just isn't me."
The Martyr takes the information in about AIDS with that same distant look, "So much of everything was about AIDS. Always in the background of... Wait, Derek was gay for pay?" His eyes bug out a bit, "I thought he was some rich douche at first, and even when he turned out to be a decent guy later.... wait, Derek spat on me after...? Fuck sake!" He takes a deep breath, "I have nothing against sex work freely undertaken but... I'm having trouble fitting all the peices together. And how could anyone do sex work in NYC in the '80's and not think about HIV all the time?"
And then he listens to his lover's recitation, fitting those peices together. "It's been very weird for me suddenly fnding women attractive. I just felt very little of that when I was finn, and the little I did feel in that one case was a weak thing compared to what I felt with men. I'm not sure what I'd even do with.... It's weird being sort of a virgin again so suddenly and so late witout the... attention and research men attracted to women put in before... I even saw that one time, but I was otherwise occupied and not paying attention. who knew there would be a pop quiz on these things in the afterlife?"
"We aren't in the afterlife." The Confidant says, off-handedly but offers no other explanation. "Oh, trust me. When I say fear, I fucking mean it. Derek landed in New York City after he ran away from his foster parents in Kansas. It's how he lost his sister for a while. He was fifteen or something? Already over six feet tall. And he had no cash to his name. Until he was discovered by a modeling agent, he was homeless and he...did what he had to do. While living in a fucking horror show. Later, when money got tight again, he did body double work and occasionally...gay porn." He shrugs. "Derek was a deep well with a pretty, but flimsy lid. He clung to his facade until it just suffocated and was happy to forsake others to maintain it. Well, not happy. Derek just did what he had to do, whatever it was, for his goals."
"I imagine that kind of life hardens you," Briar says. "It has to, for you to survive. I've had such a charmed existence. Martin was wealthy and provided for, Danny was well-loved and well-off. I'm sorry, sweetheart, that it was so rough." They stroke Dare's hair. "Just relax and be honest with yourself. And if you want to do right by women, go down and plan on staying down for awhile. Danny always figured it was the very least you could do for all the crap they have to put up with in a misogynistic society. His mother was a second-wave feminist."
The Martyr's eyes go wide, "Sh-Wow! I wouldn't have guessed any of that. I'm sorry, man. That's a lot to carry around." He winces at the second wave feminist, because he's well aware of the uglier side of that as well of the good. "I suppose I have reading to do. Not that there are any prospects in the offing beyond yourself, of course."
The Confidant shrugs. "Yeah. Derek was a man of secrets. His memory before he got sick was intact so he didn't even have the benefit of that." He shrugs again. "That was a hard Encounter. Not the hardest in the moment to moment but it's hard to look back at because I remember what he didn't. He forgot he spit on Finn. He forgot he hated Finn but I remember and I'm...having a rough time with it. I know, in a very profound way, that he was disabled and troubled and hurting but...he didn't." He shakes his head and pushes off his seat. "I need a moment, I think. I'm sorry. Four times..." He has been drawing up since he began talking and now he's hugging himself as he rushes back to his room, muttering apologies as he leaves.
The Addict uncurls and rises to their feet. They pad over toward Chance, but he's already leaving. "Chance, sweetheart..." They sigh softly and look toward Dare with the saddest of big brown eyes. "I just want to hug him," They come back over to Dare and insinuate themselves onto his lap, draping their arms around his neck. "Poor thing. We should do something nice for him sometime. He's had a rough time. If you think about it, we've been pretty lucky."
The Martyr's eyes go wide as he takes all of it in and then his face curmples with a profound sorrow. He starts to follow, his own instincts similar to Briar's, but settles back when he sees he's too late, wrapping his arms around them, "I'm sorry. Sh-Darn, it was my fault or pushing. I shouldn't have pushed." He touches his forehead to theirs, "We should. I really like Chance. I came to like Derek too. I just wish I knew what to do.
The Addict kisses Dare's cheek and murmurs, "It's okay to swear. Just don't get too vulgar in front of the ladies." They rest their forehead against Dare's. "You have to be careful here, with pushing. Just let him go, give him some time to put his head on right, and be kind. You don't have to know details. No need to ask questions. Just be kind. We tend to talk when we're ready to talk."
The Martyr nods, "I just wish I were better at all of this sometimes. I should no better than this already. I really pissed of Max the first night and I know how complicated some of the older ones are. I supose some part of me is still a lawyer even if I'm not really anymore."
"This isn't a courtroom, love," Briar says gently, and they sweep back a lock of Dare's hair. "None of these people are on trial, and we're not problems in need of solving. We're all going through the same thing in our own different ways. Since we're in close quarters, I find it's better to give mental and emotional space, if that makes sense? You can ask me whatever questions you want. I give you permission to do that. It might be useful to get used to the phrase 'may I ask, or would you prefer not to talk about it?'"
The Martyr nods and repeats, "May I ask, or would you prefer not to talk about it. Right. Thank you love." Lightly he strokes their cheek, "Want to hang around here and see who eelse comes out or would you... like to introduce me to Martin?"
The Addict glances toward the anywhere room, then slides off of Dare's lap. "Let's go to Prosperity," they say. "It'll still be me, I suppose, but I'll look like Martin. Everyone will think I'm Martin." They pause, then confide, "His family was not well-liked or trusted, with good reason, but we don't have to interact with any people in town. Maybe I'll just show you the estate."
The Martyr reaches for their hand, "I admit, I only have a vague idea what happened there. It was a lot of names I didn't know early on and everything a whirl. I really would like to understand better. Do I call you Martin there?"
"It would make more sense if you did," Briar says as they lead Dare toward the anywhere room. "And remember, this was a time where men didn't have relationships with each other except in secret. Christianity is dominant, and this town has a dark history. Let's be careful. It shouldn't be so bad if we're at the estate, as long as the servants don't see us."