Log:It's Complicated, Part 2
It's a bit late in the day. Night? In here you can't tell, but it's much closer to when they'll all fall asleep than it is to when they woke up. Creepshow's door is closed, but unlocked.
The Coward hates many things about the Facility and this is just one of them! But a bonus, he guesses, is knowing more or less where to find everybody. He knocks on Creepy's door. "Miss Max?" he calls through it.
There's not a quick answer, but one eventually comes. The door cracks open and Creepy looks up at him through it. "Hey, Rado," she says quietly. "I'm not sure I'm great company right now. S'up?" She looks subdued and glassy-eyed, and he can smell the rum on her.
The Coward raises his eyebrows, sympathy surfacing in his expression. "Aww, Miss Max. D'you wanna talk about it?" He brings his hand to the crack in the door to offer her something. It's a rose, velvety deep red-black on a long stem. "Brought you something, whether you do or not."
Blink. Blinkblink. The door opens a bit more and she reaches a small hand out for the rose. "Where'd you get it? It's..."
A beat as she touches it, stares at it but doesn't yet take it. "It's beautiful."
"Had to talk fancy to the dispenser. Did you know rose petals are edible?" The Coward holds the rose so Creepy can touch it and investigate it without taking it. "Guess it'll be gone by tomorrow, but...thought you'd like it."
"Huh." Creepshow, so eloquent right now. She takes it and turns from the door, padding back towards the bed, studying the flower, but the door's left open so it's probably an invite.
The Coward comes in. Carefully. Passing out would be somewhat less than copacetic at the moment. He takes off his hat, partly to be polite and partly so he can focus on it while he closes the door. "I'd ask how you are, but seems like the answer is 'not so great."
"I'm not a good or nice person," says Creepshow, her tone quiet and flat. "Not in here. Out there? In the stories? Sure, I have my moments. Max was abrassive, but actually gentle and sweet beneath it. Ramona wasn't a real person, but she was kind and friendly aand just wanted to be wanted. Even Bella, who was a murdering monster, was capable of kindness and compassion. Those people are bits of me here, but not me. The me in this place has urges and instincts that are cruel. Vicious. She's a monster. Not because she sometimes has to be, like Bella, or to keep people out, like Max."
She turns and sits on the edge of her bed, still staring at the flower. "She's a monster because she enjoys it. It's what she was made to be."
The Coward sits on the bed. Cautious about that, too. As Jones, he had amazing listening skills, and he's retained at least some of them. "Mmm. Well, I hear you. The other faces, they're like layers on top? Like you're really vicious when those layers are gone?"
"Maybe, yeah," says Creepy. "Out there, it's reversed. I'm usually a person who acts sharp and cruel to cover my softness, my decency. In here, I have to act nice and decent to cover my cruelty. Every instinct I have in here is to hurt others, to make them squirm. To peel away their bullshit and lies they tell themselves and make them face what they're trying to ignore or run from. I was kind andd supportive when Bastian brought you here earlier because I made myself be. It took real effort just to be decent."
"Well, it was an effort for me too. My instincts are to run. Hide. Don't let anybody see me, don't let anybody hurt me. You were made to be a monster, I was made to be yellow-bellied." Colorado fidgets with his hat, turning it over in his hands. "I made myself come in. You helped with that, quite a lot. That don't just go away because it was an effort." He glances at her sideways. "Reckon you might feel the urge to do those things to me pretty strong."
"You... do trigger in me a strong 'kick the puppy' instinct, yeah," Creepshow admits. "And yeah, I get that you made the effort, and that it was difficult. That just shows how strong you really are. So many of us in here don't even bother to try pushing past those urges and instincts we're made of."
The Coward's tone is softer. "I did it for him. He makes me feel like I can do the things I'm shakin'-in-my-boots terrified of doing. You know he sees us both the way we don't see ourselves. He sees the decency in you, and the courage in me. Guess that's why we both love him."
A single nod. Creepshow hasn't looked up at him from her focus on the flower the entire time. "Maybe. I could tell you were doing it for him, so I decided I could, too. I... I made you a promise I probably shouldn't have, and I'm sorry. I van't guarantee I'll never hurt you here. That you can trust me. I want to believe it and make it true, but I can't promise that. When the monster gets riled, I hurt everyone and anyone, myself most of all."
"I feel like I can trust you, is the funny part. You're giving me all this honesty. You could lie to me, tell me everything's fine, lure me in, then--" the Coward waves, to indicate 'all that'. "Instead you're tryin' to tell me that you're dangerous. That I'm in danger. Like a coral snake, bright colors to tell the world 'don't mess with me'. That's how I know you got decency, real decency. Maybe you don't feel it too often, like I don't feel brave too often. But I can see it. And maybe you can't always keep the monster down. In a way, I can trust you to let the monster out. Suppose that ain't flattering, but it's true."
"When she does come out, she doesn't fuck around," says Creepy, finally glancing sidelong at him for the briefest of seconds. "She'll say something horrible. Do something horrble. It's who she is. Who I am in this place. I keep hoping one of these stories I don't wake up. I'd rather be dead, be nothing. Live a life and be gone. It's not being here that I hate, but being me."
The Coward pulls a grimace. "I'm real sorry to hear that." He glances back, then away. He's calm, and yet he's fighting to stay that way while Creepy talks about her urges. Still, he's genuinely sympathetic. "Sounds like you got a lot of hurt to carry. You told me it's not my fault this place made me the way I am. It's not your fault, either."
"Oh I know," Creepshow says easily. "None of us chose it. It seems to choose us. After previous times of waking up from a story, I'd let go of who I had been. They weren't really me, just a costume. A person I'd skinned and wore like a suit. That meant that all I had were the urges and instincts. The monster. But I can't keep being her. It's making me hate myself. So I'm trying to hold onto Max, who she was, what she was like. And Bastian was such a big part of that. That's why I need him. Without him, Max crumbles."
"I liked Max. I like her still." The Coward nods. "That's why I can't take him away from you. Even though, I won't lie, it hurts. I feel like he's a part of me, too. I was literally a part of him, in Prosperity. I figure, though, that when I'm lettin' that coward in me run wild, he'll have you to get him through those times. And you'll have him, to help you through the monster times. It hurts, but it's a good hurt."
"...Does that make us sister-wives?" Creepy muses, smirking faintly. Another sidelong glance.
"I know, it hurts and I'm sorry to hurt you. Thank you for understanding, or trying to. And like I said, he was yours first and a lot longer. I still remember your panic after you and I had died in Prosperity - what if he wasn't one of us? We'd never seen him here before. I know what he means to you."
The Coward smiles down at his hat. "Sister-wives? Oh, somethin' of the sort, I imagine." He looks at her, taking a moment to study her. "He means the world to me. Thank you for bein' honest, and not tryin' to make my life a living hell to keep him to yourself. You could, and you aren't. Don't think I don't notice." The Coward hesitates, then ventures, like he offered the rose, "If you're amenable, I'd like to try courting you. The old way, like in Prosperity."
Blink. "Uh... Not sure how that'll go over?" Creepshow offers honestly. "Max isn't a Prosperity kinda girl. That style of things may not get great results. But if that's what you really want, we can see what happens." It's not a no!
The Coward's smile actually broadens. "Well, if I'm courting Max, that's different. Different altogether. Is that what you'd like?"
There's a headshake. "I just mean I'm holding on right now by clinging to Max, so she's kinda on the surface right now. Not that I'd be her."
The Coward nods, looking interested. "All right. I see what you're saying. In that case..." he holds out a hand, eyebrows up in query, silently asking for her hand. "Maybe we just ought to take it slow and figure it out as we go."
Creepshow lifts a 'brow at the offered hand, lips quirking again. She turns, but not to take it. No, instead she pushes him back onto the bed and moves to climb over him.
"Slow is something else I'm not good at. Neither is Max."
She dips her head to bite lightly at the side of his neck, more playful than painful. Then she trails kisses from the spot down to his collarbone.
The Coward's eyes get real wide in that 'holy shit' expression, and then he's on his back with Creepy on him. "...Oh," he says, blinking at the black ceiling. His reaction is visceral and immediately felt. "Ah, sorry! I'm not used to bein' twenty five..." His sleek, strong arms come up to hold her.
"And Max was a bit younger than I think I am," says Creepshow, straddling him. "I've always put myself in the..." She considers. "The twenty-five to twenty-nine range. Somewhere in there. Max just turned twenty-one a few months before the lodge."
And then it's back to playful nips and gentle kisses.