Log:How to Court a Creepshow
The Scholar is sitting cross legged on the floor of his room, surrounded by a variety of books all sitting open and marked with little sticky tabs. (One of the few benefits of the Facility is how he can make a mess like this researching something and it gets all cleaned up for him while he 'sleeps'.) Half of them appear to be art books; the other half, art criticism books. Possibly he's gone on one of his 'a reference that referenced a reference that referenced another reference' searches, and fallen into a research black hole.
He's wearing a set of black silk pajamas, because why get dressed after your luxurious bath if you don't need to. (Also, they're comfortable, and black is a good color on him.) He's scribbling pointlessly on a notepad, mostly to make his thoughts stick and not because he expects the writing to persist through his next sleep.
The Coward had spent a frankly suspicious amount of time asking the Scholar about flowers, edible flowers, black flowers, what made them black, and how a black rose might come about. *Suspicious*. Then he went off close to 'evening'.
A few hours later he slides the Scholar's door open and wanders inside, looking dazed and grinning the most stupid, ridiculous grin. His hat and vest are off, and he looks rumpled. Well rumpled.
"Howdy, darlin'." The Coward flumps over on the bed.
The Scholar smiles as the Coward comes in; that smile turns to suspicion when he takes in the Coward's current state of affairs. He watches him flop on the bed, bemused. "I take it whatever experiment you were undertaking with the dispensers proved successful?" He has numerous guesses as to what that experiment was. Some sort of strange rose-flavored cocktail that he's just consumed a half gallon of? Hopefully he left enough for the Scholar to try it...
He sets the book on his lap aside and comes to sit on the edge of the bed, rubs the Coward's back. "Did you at least leave some for me?"
The Coward mmmms into the comforter. Not unlike that time Jody got him high on heroin syrup. "T'was." He rolls over. "I talked the damn thing into making a black rose for Max. Not a true black, of course, but it was real pretty nonetheless. Went over to see her. Wanted to talk to her, suss out how she felt, like. Maybe ask her to court, if that went okay." He blinks up at the Scholar. "Guess it went okay."
The Scholar lies alongside the Coward, head propped up on one hand, also not unlike that night when they laid in the Prosperity Hotel's suite because Colorado was far too high to ride home. The first night of the Reaping. The night Sebastian had informed Colorado their relationship was not, in fact, over. (Sebastian did a lot of informing, it was just how he did things, imperious little brat.)
"So you had to seduce the dispenser in order to get a gift to seduce her?" His eyebrows go up, and he laughs. He can't help but tease, "I guess the practice helped, then."
He clears his throat, sobers (somewhat) and looks the Coward over. "Well, you're still in one piece, so it didn't go bad." He hesitates, asks, "How okay is...okay?" He frowns at himself, adds, "Not that I expect you to give me specifics, I don't want to invade your privacy."
"I didn't go over there to seduce her," the Coward proclaims. In fact, he's kind of drunk. "Just to say howdy, be friendly-like, ask if she'd maybe let me come around sometimes. Then she--" He raises his eyebrows at the Scholar like he's still not sure it happened. "Well, she shoved me over and climbed on board. Surprised the hell out of me. Bastian, Roen was a hero in bed from what I just experienced. A *hero*."
The Scholar chokes, laughs, then as the Coward goes on to declare Roen a hero he really starts laughing, long and loud. He laughs until there are tears in his eyes (joyful, amused ones), struggles to get himself under control. It takes him a few tries. Once he's successful, he reaches out to prod the Coward in the ribs. "You don't strike me as the seducing type. Max, on the other hand, doesn't do things slowly. She showed up in Bastian's hotel room. Let herself right in." He raises his eyebrows, suggesting the Coward now knows up close and personal how that played out.
He sighs dramatically, runs a hand through his hair. "And now there's two of you. If we didn't awaken the next day, alive and well, I'm not sure I'd make it three days. Roen certainly wouldn't have stood a chance."
The Coward laughs too, shaking his head. "Good Lord." He lets the Scholar go ahead and get that out of his system...mostly...then hmpfs. "Seduced you, didn't I," he says, smiling wickedly up at the Scholar. "I thought I could save the poetry for the *second* date. Whoooo-ee! She wore me out even like this," he flaps a hand down at himself, all muscular and in peak condition. "Wearin' my regular body, I shudder to think. So I guess she liked the rose."
He gives the Scholar one hell of a sassy look, then. "Why, Bastian, listen to the way you go on. Whatever could you be contemplating, sir?" He leans on the 'sir' to turn it into 'suh', just to Southern the place up.
"You did indeed seduce me, and I enjoyed every minute," the Scholar confirms, reaching out to stroke the Coward's hair. He chuckles, low and appreciative. "You've forgotten how hot these younger bodies burn, I bet. Twenty year old men exhaust themselves given half a chance. But, I think it's safe to say she did."
He reaches out to trace a line from the Coward's belly button to the hollow of his throat. "Me? Contemplating?" He pulls his hand back, gives the Coward a sad, put-upon look. "I'm sure you're too worn out now." A sly grin, then he adds, "And I wouldn't want to suggest anything else too soon. She's still feeling out new ways of being herself. All those lives..." He sighs, shakes his head. "It's hard on her. I don't want to complicate it or make it more difficult."
The Coward rumbles in his chest, arching up under the light touch. "Oh, I don't know about *too* worn out..." The Scholar then has to say something serious, and he sighs in response to the Scholar's sigh. "Poor girl carries around a lot of pain, a lot of grief. No, I reckon complicating things for her is the last thing we ought to do. We talked a lot about you, by the way."
Seriuous topic not withstanding, the Scholar trails his hand up the Coward's neck, runs his thumb ove rhis lips. "Mmmmmm," he says in agreement aobut complicating things. "Maybe in time, if we all get along and settle in alright. Find our footing and a pace that's comfortable." He sounds hopeful for that, even though he knows 'in time' is going to be broken up by unpredictable lives which might do truly horrible things to them.
His eyebrows go up. "Did you? Warned her about all of my bad habits as Sebastian, I assume?" He's joking. Mostly. Lets his gaze travel down the length of the Coward, though it's unfocused. "I hope I can do right by the two of you. Bastian's past experiences not withstanding, I'm worried I'm only setting us up to fail."
"Even though she, ah, made it pretty obvious what she wanted right then, I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to think she and me are in a relationship." The Coward kisses the Scholar's thumb. "I meant it. I want to court her. Learn about her. Show up when she needs me. That sort of thing." His voice quiets. "She warned me, though. Warned me about the urges this place gives her. So I got to expect she'll say something awful to me at some point, and maybe sooner rather than later. That...might be tough."
He takes the Scholar's hand where it's against his lips. "We talked about how we both need you. Her to remember to be Max. Me to know how to be brave. How you don't look at either of us and see a failure or a horror show. You've always done right by me, Bastian. We might fail, but how can anybody be at fault for that when we've got to live in this place, going through what we go through? The real wonder is we made it this far."
Nodding, the Scholar says, "I think you should keep courting her. Make it clear you're not just interested in sex." His eyes meet the Coward's. "That was part of how things happened, with her and Bastian. He talked to her, asked her about herself, about her plans once they got off the island. He made it clear the sex was nice but it wasn't the only reason he hadn't chased her off that night. He let her be herself. If you keep at that, she'll open up to you too." His eyes soften. "Especially you. I think that's part of who you are."
He smiles as the Coward takes his hand. "I suppose that's true," he says of failure and the potential thereof. "And I'm glad I have, so far. I'll keep trying to." He lets out a slow breath. "How could anyone see a failure in you, in a man struggling to come to grips with his fears? Or a horror show in her, a woman living an impossible life? The real horror is that people can't find the compassion to accept our struggles alongside the rest of us." He looks away a moment. "That's what she gave Roen, what you gave Sebastian. If I can give even a fraction of that back, I'll count myself successful."
"She was honest with me," the Coward says, musing. "Told me about how she wants to hurt people, that she struggles mightily to resist. That sometimes, she can't resist. Don't know as she was opening up so much as tryin' to scare me off. Well, I'm scared. Scared of what she might say to me, hell, what she might *do* to me. Or you.
"But her heart, Bastian." He meets the Scholar's eyes. "It's wild and fierce and beautiful, like the high desert. Deadly, like the desert, too. Yet so much flourishes there. Things most people don't understand, because they look at the desert and they just see a wasteland. They don't see the life, the adaptability, that it has a cycle all its own. When the rains come, when the fires come, that's how the desert is reborn. I'm afraid of what might happen if I'm caught in that, I'm only a man. But how can I call the desert terrifying in itself? It's not. It's wonderful."
"And you wonder why I love you so," the Scholar murmurs, tangling his hair into the Coward's hair and planting a kiss on his temple. "To speak of her so truthfully, and so beautifully."
He sighs, leans into the Coward. "She did something similar with me," he says, tone absent. "She managed to rein herself in. I'm not sure what I would have done if she'd gone through with what she came close to doing." He grimaces. "And I'm not certain it would be restricted to verbal violence." His eyebrows lift at the possibilities, lower as he mulls this over. "Maybe we can sort out a way to help her blow off that steam in those rooms."