Log:Hold it Together
It's quiet up here. The Gilded Cage isn't often /this/ quiet but the waylaid trip to Solaris has some spooked. One thing is clear. People are avoiding Cinder. His fears are well known. A second bad trip into the Wastelands in only six months time should be making him as crazy as his brother. Instead, he's laying in the sleeping area he's been sharing with Maylis. He's got the pallor of one who has donated much blood and has been mostly sleeping, fitfully. Maylis has been staying with him but eventually, she seeks out Phoenix. Maylis' usual warm face is creased with worry as she approaches. "Hello, firebug." She sighs. "Will you sit with Cinder for a while? Keep him company? He's...being himself and not talking about what happened. He won't be a bother. He just rests better with someone close."
Phoenix has been cleaning some of his equipment, wiping some of the chain down and polishing it, cleaning the leather of the straps, and fixing up tears in the fabric of the whips and poi. He glances over in Cinder's direction and then back to Maylis. Of all the people, Phoenix is not usually the one that others come seeking for company, but he gives her a nod and picks up his things, wandering over to where Cinder lies and settles himself nearby, sitting on the floor and continuing his polishing with a rag. He's dressed in his more subdued greys since he's not performing -- black boots, grey trousers, a plain grey shirt. The edges of the thorned tattoos that run down his biceps and over his shoulders can be seen near the collar. He says nothing.
Cinder snorts when Phoenix arrives but he doesn't say anything for a while either. He's dressed for warmth and bundled in a blanket. He stares up at the domed roof. As reserved as Cinder can be, his expressive face gives away more than he thinks. He's tired, literally drained and devoid of anything resembling joy. His blue eyes look particularly dull. Eventually, he sits up and wraps the blanket around his shoulders. "Some hate it here. From here in the Cage to down in the Garage. Many love it. Others are indifferent but all of us accept it. We accept what is decided for us from the moment we are born, nearly. Outsiders like me are exceptions up here but even I had my mind changed for me." He takes a deep breath. "I'm embarrassed for being so useless. They made me useless though. They made use like this." Anger bubbles beneath those words but Cinder pulls it in. "Sometimes, I feel like the only person who knows it can be different."
"You shouldn't be embarrassed for feeling useless. You should be embarrassed for screaming like a child yesterday. What the fuck was that?" Phoenix arches one brow and looks over at him, glancing up from where he continues to polish his equipment. "What's the use in feeling useless? Even if your only use was as a transfusion, you're still giving someone else life." He then smirks and says, "I don't accept shit. I live within the cage, but that doesn't mean I will ever stop finding ways out of it, or that I won't take what opportunities I can find to get what I want while in it."
"I screamed?" Cinder looks confused. "Like, crying or what?" He draws his legs to his chest. "Transfusions aren't...they don't count. I'd give even if it wasn't required. It's what they take. The luxuries of this position aren't lost to me. But the scales aren't even. I don't leave and I want little that Lux can buy. Food and water at will is good but it's only to boost the health of our children. I would rather...rather have my daughters and son with me. I would rather be strong and be able to protect them. Not options. And it's times like these...I feel empty. Hollow. They come more frequently. The hollowness. And I get angry sometimes now. Am I losing my mind?"
"You screamed," Phoenix says, but he elaborates no further than that. Instead he tosses the poi back into the leather bag he carries them in and lays out one of the long whips, cutting free some loose bits of fabric and tucking others back under their wraps to make sure that the entire length is properly attached and won't come loose during a performance. "Your kids are being raised here in Sanctuary, and they're not in a cage. Don't wish for them to be stuck in here. Hope they grow up to be a Savvy or a Monitor if they're lucky, and get what they need, and be able to move where they please." He snorts though and says, "Maybe. Maybe you need to stop moping about feeling useless and figure out something to do that's yours. That wasn't given to you and that isn't taken from you." He shakes the whip in Cinder's general direction. "Nobody gave me the fire. I took it. And when it burns me, I have only myself to blame if I make a mistake. And when it earns me Lux, I earned it, through my work. It's mine. You need to find something that's yours."
"My eldest is a Tattler." Cinder says, with a shake of his head. "She's good at it, unlike her father. But I can't talk to her anymore. My boy is Fortunate but I'm glad. Porter's artistic and fearless. He'll be an Artisan. And I get to talk to him. Aloy is getting close to being caste. She's bright enough to catch the attention of the Savvy but a smart woman is also good breeding stock. The idea of her being here with me while..." He starts to tremble and he pulls his knees in closer. "I could live to see her swallow the same acid I swallow every day."
Cinder looks at Phoenix, soft and with fondness. "You found something you are good at. An outlet. Release. I'm not good any anything. Nothing that matters. I was a star student when we learned psychology. I know people. People trust me. I am a living, breathing den of secrets. And I fuck like I love them. Because I do. In a way. Except a small number of Monitors." He closes his eyes. "I screamed...I think I could be blacking out. Briefly. I have been getting stressed and...poof. I don't know how or why I'm puking off a catwalk." He snorts. "Something that is mine? Mine. That's good advice, Phoenix. Really good advice."
"You're useless to others if you can't get hold of yourself, Cinder. If you want to keep being the one who others tell their secrets to, you can't be the one who is blacking out and out of control of yourself. That's not safe, for them or their secrets," Phoenix says firmly, those pale eyes meeting his steadily. He's never been one to mince words, to spare feelings. His tone is even and unyielding. "So if you think you're losing your grip, you need to find it, and you need to do whatever it takes to find it quick. Because people won't trust you if you can't trust yourself to be stable."
Cinder stopped letting hard truths hurt him long ago. Probably one of many side effects of Phoenix. "Who do...I can't bother Eden. She has enough man problems to deal with." He smirks and looks away. He knows he's her male counterpart in many ways. And that is why he is next up for Patron. "I mean, whatever I did on that trip...the screaming. The blacking out. It'll get back to her anyway. I need a solution before she has to confront me. Or have it fixed. But the mind isn't fixable. It cracks and you patch it up. The scar never goes away." He leans forward, arms folded on his knees. "I need a Me. Someone I can trust. I don't really trust anyone." He admits with a little half shrug. "Not with the acid, at least. Never." He sniffles and looks upward again. "Or I need a new hobby. One besides portraits."
"You need to find someone," Phoenix says. "If not Eden, then someone. Because you can't crack like that. So you better start mending on your own before it gets to that point." He finishes up with one of the whips and takes out the other to begin examining it from one end to the other. "You probably need both," he opines when Cinder mentions also needing a new hobby. "Not that your portraits aren't good. But it's clearly not enough." Phoenix isn't much of a talker. Generally, he's rather quiet. Perhaps those who take him as a companion find him more conversational, but it's difficult to tell. But among the other Fortunate, he tends toward the taciturn. It's more than he usually says, but then, he's been looking out for Cinder since they were kids, so watching him fall apart, for whatever reason, appears to not be something he wants on his agenda.
"You know...I don't even draw for myself anymore." Cinder lets out a dry huff of a laugh. "When I started getting good and people noticed, they began to ask for themselves or their children or lovers. I love it because I love to help people remember the ones they love. Hell, the first good one was my mother. As best I can recall. Blonde hair. Curly like mine...she kept it braided in loops around her head and it was so long..." He sighs. "Then my father. Drak looks a lot like our papa. Red hair. Straight. Always fell in his eyes. They are haunting me, man. My kids are getting older and I..." He stops and takes a deep breath. "I did it. Swallowed the acid. It's like breathing. Or a heartbeat." He falls silent again. Cinder has talked more about himself in the last few months. He was pretty quiet too but he made it look thoughtful and mysterious. "I feel sorry for those born here or raised here since they can remember. There is another way to live with others. With love and unity. My parent's gift to me was that knowledge. My whole tribe too. Do all things from love, you can never go wrong." He lays down again, grunting and groaning. He landed hard in that bus. "You don't have to stay. I'll be fine. Probably. But if you see a Monitor sniffing around for a redhead? Throw my little brother at them."
"You'll be fine whether I stay or I go," Phoenix says with a sort of idle certainty as he finishes up working on his gear and shoves it back into his bag, setting it off to one side. Then, sitting cross-legged, he looks back at Cinder and studies him for several long moments. "I was born and raised here. Don't feel sorry for me." Because he certainly doesn't feel sorry for himself. "Feel sorry for the ones born sick in the Wastes who life a short life of suffering before meeting a violent end if you want to feel sorry for someone." Then he snorts. "Why would I throw your brother at them? If a monitor's looking for either of you, they can do their own damn job without my help."