Briar would vehemently deny it if asked, but they did dress up a bit last night thinking Dare might be out in the parlor, and they wanted to make a certain impression. Today, they're more relaxed. Their hair has been slapped back in a clip, and they're dressed in black leggings and an oversized rainbow tunic. They haven't shaved, and that makes them resemble Danny quite a bit more than they did yesterday. As for makeup, just a little lip gloss.
They're sitting on a couch with a cup of tea on a side table beside them. They're reading a book. Howl and Other Poems, by Allen Ginsberg. In repose, they have a fragility to them that Danny lacked, just some sense of vulnerability that wasn't there before.
The Martyr emerges from the room with the anatomically correct heart on the door dressed in his old shreikback shirt and purple and black paisley trousers. The shirt looks suspiciously like the one he left behind in Danny's room when he died, down to the small tear in the left arm. The upper layer of his hair is neatly feathered. He has three books and a notepad with a mechanical pencil threaded into the spiral tucked under his arm.
On seeing Briar, Dare leans in the doorway, studying this person who he doesn't really know, even though he once knew a part of them. Something about their unguarded appearance now moves him visibly and he turns away a momment to compose himself. When his face is under constrol again, he says softly, "I always though Ginsburg was over rated, but one had to pretend to respect one's elders."
The Addict glances up, surprised, and then they smile. Dimples appear on each cheek. Glancing back to the book, they say, "He has his moments." They close the book and trace a fingertip over the cover. "We should always respect those who help pave the way, though, even if they're not to our tastes. Every movement has to start somewhere."
They set the book aside and turn to face Dare, folding their arms across the back of the couch. "How are you adjusting?" they ask. "This place can be confusing at first. It can be confusing after 'at first,' too."
The Martyr steps close enough to touch, but doesn't. Instead he sets one large handon the back of the sofa. "He does and I see his importance. I'm not sorry for the reading of Howl I went to once, but Catullus was always more my taste. He hides the seriousness under the froth." He gives her a crooked smile. The intelligence is still there even if he fills out the familiar shirt a little differently,. He is calm and vaguely self mocking recounting. "I lost it for a while. The first person I saw when I stepped from my room was Cheer. Who I'd beenhallucinating. I thought I'd gone completely mad. She was really kind about everything though. I pretty quickly figured out she wasn't really Kim because the difference is huge and obvious. Which led seconds later to the the discovery of the most obvious and glaring difference in me. That is when I paniced for real. I got good a drunk, and I'm better now." He shrugs, "That part is still the same. I freak out, I feel what I need to feel, and then I'm calm again and start thinking properly. A gift from the Finn I was." He is watching Briar's face the whole time he recounts this.
The Addict rests their cheek on their folded arms and gazes up at Dare. "That's good," he says, "that you have it worked out. I tend to internalize a lot. When I first woke up here, I just wanted to find my wife and daughter, and now I barely remember them, which is its own sort of loss, I suppose."
They consider for a moment, then they sit up and tentatively lays their hand over Finn's. "I'm glad you came here. I don't know what I would have done to lose you like I lost her." They then admit, "I've never read Catullus."
The Martyr's lip curls up a little "Catullus is what would happen if Oscar Wilde had been a poet in the time of julius Ceasar and Cicero." Then he nods, serious again, and confesses, "I was terrified you wouldn't make it back. I kept checking your door in case the sigil disapeared or changed." He closes his eyes and admits in a whisper, "I wasn't sure you loved me when I died. After... I saw you grieving and then I knew. Only by then I'd already worked out that if you really did come back you'd be someone else. So I grieved with you, even as I hoped there might be something good and new and different if we met again. Can't step into the same river twice. I know that." He opens his eyes and searches Briar's face, "I really would like to know you as you are now. I mean that."
The Addict clasps Dare's hand and tugs, trying to entice him to come around the couch and sit beside them. "I would say that Danny's nothing like me, except I'm changed because of him. It'd be more accurate to say he was nothing like Martin, who I was before. He's not entirely gone. I'd like to think I've got the best parts of him."
They bring Martyr's hand to their lips, pressing a kiss there. "Let's get to know each other. Danny loved Finn, and like I said, I think I've kept the best parts of him. There's just more of me to get to know, you know?"
The Martyr is very easily enticed. He sits by Briar, retaining ttheir hand after the kiss. He nods, expression serious. "I've made friends with Caleb. I've seen how different a person might be here and still have the... essential parts of the person I knew. I've been thinking of it like mosaics. The... underlying essentials of someone are like the mortar and the people we are out there are like the titles. Cheer and I are simpler. She's got the best of the kimmy tiles embedded in a larger patten. My finn tiles are making an almost finn design. But add more tiles and the patterns get bigger and more complex. Sometimes the design that reslts is similar and sometimes you get something really different, but if you look all the important parts are still in there." A sheepish smile, "At least that's how I make sense of it. I really would like to get to know this you Martin and mortar and the way they all fit together. And I think you are... beautiful like this. Different, but utterly... fascinating. I still can't look away. I still want to know everything about you."
The Addict tucks their legs beneath them and shifts so that they can lay their head on Dare's shoulder. Though their mannerisms are more fey than Danny's, the body in those genderqueer clothes is very familiar, the planes of their chest masculine despite the softening cut of the tunic. Somehow, they make it work.
"I was worried you wouldn't find me attractive," they admit. "The funny thing is Martin was nothing like this, either. I have no memory of any other life, but this... this self of mine is unique to this place. I'm discovering who I am that's more than an amalgam of Danny and Martin."
They're quiet a moment, then admit, "Martin's father kept him separate from the world, taught him to fear everyone. With Danny's insight, I can tell now he kept him drugged so he could control him. It's a hard pill to swallow, because Martin loved his father. I feel like Danny is who Martin could have been if he'd been born in the late sixties in a commune. It's like I can feel one trying to help the other inside of my mind."
The Martyr curls an rm around them, gently, making it easy for Briar to shrug it off if the touch isn't wanted. "You are stunning. I think I would have found you so even if I really were just Finn still. Danny was very much a guy, but there was this incredibly appealing adrogyny underneath. Something in the way he moved...." He presses his cheek to the top of their head, "As I am now... If you are a trans woman, it won't make a difference to me. As long as we still fit together as we are now, I will be fine. There is no question of me not wanting you as you are now. The sight of you makes me.... I do want you Briar. Not in spite of, but because of whoever you are here and now." He brushes his lips across the top of their hair, "I am sorry the Martin was... raised like a flower under glass, but I am glad that the elements of Martin and Danny are helping each other grow into something more whole."
The Addict leans into the touch and snuggles closer. Their scent carries traces of familiarity, though it's devoid of the telltale smell of pot. Instead, there's scented shampoo that's kind of fruity. "I'm not a woman," they admit. "Not all the time. Some days. Some days I'm a boy. Most of the time, I'm somewhere in between." They smile faintly. "Maybe there was something of me in Danny."
They lace their fingers around Dare's when he says he wants them. "Danny was such a boy though. Martin was repressed, but he was more feminine. He would have been fascinated by you, and terrified." They raise their head to claim a small kiss.
The Martyr himself smells faintly of ivory soap and more strongly of the fougere based men's fragrance Finn was wearing that time he took Danny under the tree, lost when they evacuated the boathouse. Underneath he smells almost like Finn, so close the difference barely matters. He thinks that over, "Okay. I'll likely say some wrong things, but I'm interested in learning so I can get it right and understand better." He bends to kiss Briar, dark eyes open and intent. He kisses Briar like Briar is the most beautiful person in his world.
The Addict slips their arms around Dare's neck and eases onto his lap as they continue kissing him. Their lipgloss tastes like strawberries. When they draw back to catch their breath, they say, "I'll show you so many places. We'll visit Prosperity, where Martin lived. It's a bleak town, but maybe you'll understand his life better. They got a place in the anywhere room that's on a space station. From their time before me. It's crazy. We can go to Xenon, or wherever you wanna go. I'll introduce you to Arthur. You're both so great."
The Martyr holds them one his lap as they kiss, his arms relearning the feel of the Addict's body and is own new strength. There is a sense of not really quite trusting in this luck, that this person is really here and still wants him. There is no hiding from Briar just how much he wants to be holding them right now. he touches forehead to forehead, "Anywhere you want. Anything you want, just as long as I can touch you now and then like this."
The Addict cups Dare's cheek in a hand uncalloused from playing guitar. "Of course," they say. "If you don't think it's too forward, I'd like to invite you to visit me in my room tonight. I'm afraid it's always a little bit of a mess no matter how much I clean up, but it's comfortable. We could just talk, or..." They smile a little. "Maybe not talk all that much."
The Martyr turns into the hand to kiss their palm, "All I've wanted to do since I died was curl around you and bury my nose in your hair and listen to you talk. All I've wanted o do since you stepped out of your room in those heels is... other things. Perhaps some of both, if it's not too forward." He smiles at Briar at this last.
The Addict twirls a lock of hair around their finger, then slides off Dare's lap and takes both his hands in both of theirs. "Let me show you around," they say. They tug Dare toward their room. It's the first one at the front of the hall, opposite The Visionary's door. "I doubt anyone will miss us for awhile," they say, "and I can't think of anything else to talk about just now."
The Martyr makes a soft sound of distress as Briar slides off his lap, but after a moment to organize his ideas, he is up and following, his hand in their newly soft one, a little dizzy from the sudden change of pace, "You definately till have danny in you, Briar."
The Addict looks Dare over, head to toe, and there's enough Martin in them to lean closer to whisper the words instead of just blurting them. "It's more than Danny I've got in mind." Their breath is warm against Dare's ear. Then they pull Dare into their room and close the door. The click of the lock comes after.