Log:Just Checking In

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Just Checking In
Characters  •   The Addict  •  The Martyr  •  The Explorer  •  The Penitent  •  The Gambler  •  The Optimist  •
Location  •  Facility Dining Hall
Date  •  2019-05-23
Summary  •  Various people meet over breakfast, including someone new and several who haven't seen ech other since they got back.

It's 'morning' and, even though they stayed together at bedtime, Dare and Briar woke up alone, just like they always do. Briar left a note under Dare's door, though, inviting him to breakfast. In the dining room, at the end of one of the big tables, Briar has set up a little breakfast service. There's coffee, orange juice, strawberries and cream, and a pair of covered dishes. They're in red checkered pajama bottoms and a red camisole, sleepy-eyed and not yet shaven, and they're waiting before they pour their coffee.

The Martyr is in a black long tunic with green leaf embroidered trim today. He hasn't bothered with shoes or trousers, as the side slits aren't high enough to offend modesty. His hair is combed, but he still had an attractive amount of night scruff as he's skipped shaving too. He bends to kiss him, mouth smelling of spearmint. "Good morning, Love."

The Addict returns the kiss and says with a sleepy smile, "Hey, handsome." They pour themselves and Dare each a cup of coffee. There's cream and sugar, and Briar adds a little of the former to their own. "I know it's not the same as waking up together, but we can pretend." Under each of the covered dishes is a still hot Gruyere and potato frittata with roasted pepper. "How did you sleep?"

The Martyr can't help but kiss that smile a second time, fingers lingering in his hair. He sits, where their legs might touch a they eat and adds a lump's worth of sugar to his coffee, stirring it in. "I like to pretend... Ooo! That smells amazing!" he grins, "Like the dead almost, but with fewer dreams and less flaking."

"I slept pretty well, myself," Briar says. They grin at Dare, almost shyly, and take that first, glorious sip of coffee of the morning. "Mmm. I dreamt we were in Eugene, living in a tiny apartment. Only it wasn't Danny and Finn. It was us, you and I. We'd gotten out of here, and that's where we ended up. I woke up when I reached for you, and you weren't there."

The Martyr presses his nose and forehead to Briar's cheek briefly, "If it were 2018, we could marry. I'd likely have to redo law school, but it should be faster this time." He pulls away to enjoy the first sip of coffee, "I think this is much better than what Finn used to drink.... I think that's what I'd like if we ever get out of here. An apartment with a cat in Eugene. What would you study if it happens? You're so bright, you really could do anything."

"I would take your name," Briar says quietly. "I would study... I don't know, maybe sociology. Something that would help me because a more effective activist. It wouldn't really matter as long as I was with you. Maybe I'd go to culinary school and keep you well fed. I could be a house spouse." They lean shoulder to shoulder with Dare. "I'd miss everyone, though. That's part of why I hope we never get out of here. Because we'd go our separate ways."

The Martyr leans back, "I feel the same. It's the people who mattered most to me. I loved last night, us all cuddled up in the bed, talking. I loved that picnic with our lovers on the mountain. I hope... if we do get out, they release us to the same place and time. All of us. Who else but us could really understand us after all we've been through?

"Exactly," Briar says. "Whatever kind of world we're released into, who's going to understand what we've been through except us?" They tuck into their breakfast daintily. "Last night was nice. I figure if I'm going to have that massive bed, we might as well make a cuddle pile. You guys are ridiculous talking about your hamster ball, but I think with an all-terrain, climate controlled vehicle, a dinosaur adventure might be really fun."

The Martyr nods, eating his frittata, and grimly picturing trying to have a relationship with someone from out side to whom he couldn't explain why he's like this. he perks up when Briar expresses conditional approval of the Dinosaur adventure, "Really?" And then he's hugging Briar exuberantly.

The Addict laughs and returns the hug, then kisses Dare on the cheek. "I'll draw up some plans for the vehicle," they say. "Though I'm not really an engineer. We just have to imagine it's something we can operate. We should remember to bring food and something to drink with us in case we're stuck inside the vehicle the whole time."

The Martyr presses cheek to cheek. "Your clever and creative. That's really what's needed for the Anywhere room anyway. Thank you! I think this will be Amazing!

"I just don't want you guys to suffocate or get eaten," Briar says. They're in their pjs and there's a breakfast service set out with coffee, strawberries and cream, and they each have a frittata. "It's not like you won't come back, but those don't sound like great ways to perish. Besides, there was a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at the time, and I don't know how that would affect humans."

A Stranger is cuddling Briar at the breakfast table. He is about Briar's height, classically handsome with dark eyes, tawny skin, and black, curly hair. His features are strongly masculine, with high, aristocratic cheekbones and a cleft chin. A regal nose shadows full lips. He's broad shouldered and muscular, wearing a black mid calf length tunic with green leaf embroidered trim. He hasn't bothered with shoes or trousers, as the side slits aren't high enough to offend modesty. His hair is combed, but he still had an attractive amount of night scruff.

His accent is Pacific Northwest, "I definitely don't want the last thing I see before I die to be the inside of a T. Rex, and I very much would like a normal oxygen CO2 mix to breath. I'm adventurous, not suicidal, Lover."

Seemingly followed by some perpetual cloud of gloom comes the Penitent. Her normal airy, vague an innocent smile and demeanor is nowhere to be seen. Dressed in a blue t-shirt and grey sweatpants, she pads along barefoot into the dining hall, making her way through the space very quickly as she glances only briefly at the couple at the table before vanishing into the dispensary for a quick moment. She comes back with a cup of something hot, sipping at it as she returns, considering the two of them.

"Hello," she offers quietly, staring at Addict mostly, being the familiar face, though there's a brief appraisal of the new face too, considering him thoughtfully.

The Addict smiles warmly when they see Lorraine. The smile dims when they see her expression. "Hey," they say. "Would you like to join us? This is Dare. He came back looking different. A few folks did." Not Briar, though. Same old Danny-esque Briar. "We've got plenty of strawberries and cream if you want some."

The Martyr looks up, dark eyes studying her with real concern, "Have you spoken to Star yet?" It's only when Briar mentions it that he remembers the change. Dare blushes and looks sheepish. He starts to run a hand through a forelock he no longer has, Finnlike, but lowers the hand when he touches his curls, "I really am Dare, who was Finn and Kemen. Osiris. I woke up different."

"Ah," Penny says with a nod of her head, stepping closer and then helping herself to a seat when invited to join the pair. She settles down, hands wrapped around the cup still afterwards as she takes another sip from it. She looks at the fruit with disinterest, staring at it briefly before glancing up. "I heard that there'd been some changes to people, yes. Weird. And yes. I've spoken to ... Star. I still don't think of her by that name." There's a sigh, and she considers. "You two seem rather comfortable still. I don't know how you do it."

The Addict tells Penny, "I tend to have my freakouts in my room. I cry a lot." They do? This isn't something they've shared with Dare before. "When I'm feeling better, I have people come over. I love you guys, and being here with you really does make it better. I'd be lost without you."

A new symbol has appeared on a room door recently. A royal flush of hearts. The occupant has not been seen much, if at all. Today though, she makes an appearance. The Gambler. She doesn't look very friendly at first glance. Her expression has a rather serious case of RBF. Long blonde hair is pulled into a loose ponytail, cool blue eyes surveying the group. She wanders her way over to the dispensary and returns with a large mug of hot cocoa and an oversized blueberry muffin. She sits down right with everyone else. Without a single word. She gives a nod though. So - at least she knows they're there.

The Martyr nods, "Emily then, if it helps. Talking's a good place to start. I know she still very much wants to make things work, and she accepts... the complexities of that. Is there something specific we could help you work through?" he gazes at Briar and strokes there hair, "Love, I won't be offended if you are upset about things, you know that, right? you never, ever have to be perfect for me... Oh!" He summons a welcoming smile worthy of a matinee idol for the stranger, "You must be new! I'm called Dare, though you might hear me also referred to as Finn or Kemen. Most of us have a lot of names. Do you have questions? Anything we can help with?"

The Optimist is the cheery opposite to the Gambler - he just looks bright eyed and bushy tailed. Without the actual tail. And, well, presumably the eyes are bright as he has a pair of dark sunglasses on and a large bronze cross dangling from each ear. A black cotton vest with no shirt, and a striped scarf in gold, brown and pink. He is wearing black trousers trousers and a dark green snakeskin jacket. "Hello, good...whatever it is. Morning? Night? I guess they don't matter," he says, in a warm, neutrally accented voice "Wow, we're still all here. That's something!" HE glances at the Gambler, without recognition "...umn. One of Hodr's people?"

"It is that 'when I am feeling better' part I can't seem to get a handle on this time," Penitent says with a touch of sorrow. "And only one person has come to visit me." Her shoulders lift in a shrug, another mouthful of whatever it is she's drinking, staring into the cup afterwards. "Christine ... Star ... we are fine. We have spoken. She is the one who visited me, of course. I am not sure I can simply just work through being what La Llorona was." A frown, as she stares before finally looking up at the new face.

"New, or perhaps just a recycled person with a new face?" She wonders quietly, tilting her head and arching a brow thoughtfully. It seems to be something better to focus on than her own thoughts, with just a flicker of a glance at Optimist.

The Addict tells Dare, "There are times I just don't know what to say to anyone. After all the blood..." They bow their head and tell Penny, "I don't think I'm ever going to eat meat again." The breakfast their finishing up is a vegetarian frittata. With a shake of their head, they tell Optimist, "Not one of Hodr's." They offer a smile to the Gambler. "I'm Briar," they say. They then wave The Optimist over. "We have too much strawberries and cream. Help us eat it."

The Gambler tears off a piece of blueberry muffin, gaze flitting back to the Martyr as he asks if she has any questions. His cheery disposition does not seem to lighten her mood. "I must be." Is her wry response. Then the Optimist comes in, and she just //stares//. "...The fuck are you wearing?" She says, dressed in a pair of black sweatpants and a black tank top herself. Straightening up a little. "I dunno who Hodr is. Call me..." Thinking a moment. "Lucky." She settles on finally. "I've spent a while trying to figure out what's going on and decided to kinda give up for now and see how things go? How long you all been here?"

The Martyr's eyebrows go up when he sees The Optimist. "Trying something new? We're calling it morning." He nods, studying Penny, "I think a lot of people are mostly hiding, trying to work through things. I'm... not sure who is ready for guests. If you want to talk about things we can." His eyes flick to the Gambler and back, though we may want to do that less publicly. I know I... don't have what you had to deal with, but I think everyone came back with things that are hard to process. I know I did." He curls an arm around Briar's waist and kisses their shoulder, "I can hold you, just hold you if that's what you need, Love. You don't need to say anything if you don't want."

"Lucky is a very good name. Most people have a lot more questions. It's really all right to ask them, though none of us will have all the answers you'r likely to want."

"Oh, if you want a visit, I can come and visit!" says the Optimist to the Penitent "No one's visited me either, but I think that's because they want me to visit them - like Briar here." He eyes the cup, and then he moves across to pat her on the back "I'm sorry. It must be difficult. I admit there's one or two aspects of who I am I need to, um, come to terms with."

He eyes the Addict's fritata "Can you show me how to make one just like - oh, strawberries and cream? Sure!" And he plops himself next to the person, and he says to the Gambler "Clothes. My wardrobe is full of them. Hodr was someone here...hello Lucky. I'm Arcade. I've been _here_ about...in total. A week? Two weeks? But I was away for four years. I was called 'Ouroboras' there."

Staring at 'Lucky' for a few moments, Penitent tilts her head and then gives it a slight shake, answering the question, "As far as we know, or anyone can remember, I was the first person to wake up here. I was here alone until others came, but that only took a few minutes. I have been here for ..." she shrugs. "I am not sure how to measure the time. Five lifetimes, I suppose. I have never picked a name."

She leans back, still just cupping her cup, holding it close. "I am not sure I'm ever going to eat again," she comments dryly on the heels of Addict's statement, shaking her head at the Martyr afterwards. "I don't know where to begin, really. And I know you mean well, but I have been here a lot longer than you. Two or three times through, I was a lot happier I guess. Now I am five people. I think it is okay to hate some of them."

The Addict rises to their feet, gives Dare a kiss, and tells Arcade, "I'll get you one. Does anyone want anything while I'm up?" While they wait for an answer, they rub Dare's shoulders lightly. "I wish I could hate the last one. If I could say 'that's not me' I wouldn't have to feel so gross all the time. But she wasn't all bad, and that complicates things."

The Gambler simply falls into listening for now. No 'nice to meet yous' to anyone. She looks a little perplexed, but clearly not ready to be asking any questions. She would rather process, and eat, and process, and drink her hot cocoa. Honestly? After a short time it might be easy to forget she's sitting there. So. Quiet. Until, abruptly, she stands up with her half eaten muffin and her cocoa. "This place is rather strange. I do not like it." She sounds rather decided in this. "But we will see what comes of it." And then she's walking off again. Strange.

The Martyr is surreptitiously studying the Optimist, trying to work out his mental state. He manages to poker face through Arcade's 'one or two aspects.' He nods to the Penitent, "That makes sense, and I think... you are given some of the harder things to survive for whatever reason. I know I'm young and there are things I can't really understand, but... I think I'm closer. I lived out there for years with pieces of more than a dozen entities in my head. It's not the same, I know, but that leaves it's own kind of mark. The... process of making all those people one person I only vaguely remember, but I am still the end result of that. Not the same, no, but I'm different than I was because of it. I may be better able to understand than I was last time." There is a solidity about him there wasn't before, the end product of an entirely different concept of time, and the layering of ram and bull and an unknown number of corn, death, and fertility Gods as well as an hermaphroditic creator who masturbated the world into being and soupcon of other deities he got overlapped with like Dionysius.

Dare's kiss for Briar is light. "I'm fine, Love." He starts in on his strawberries and cream, but most of his attention is on the others. "I think it is the human in us that strives to find happiness regardless of the brutality of what is going on, and we are all nothing if not complex." His attention turns back to Lucky, "It is definitely strange, but there are a lot of good things about it too. We can show you when you're ready."

"Thank you, Briar," says Arcade, and he pauses, then he says "I don't really feel gross, though. Not about eating people. That bit is just...it's just what happened. I do feel weird about other elements of it all." He sits at the table, watching the Gambler head on out, and he shakes his head a bit "Okay, the thing I think is weird is that I'm no longer the new guy..." And then he eyes the Martyr, brightly, and he pauses "What?" He waits for his food, considering "Has it always been just a radio around? Or were there TVs and Netflix?"

"Martin Munson," Penny says as she glances at Addict, putting emphasis into that name. "I was practically Leviathan this time around. Not exactly, but surely even you can see the similarities between Lorraine and Vie. I guess you didn't really get to know the family benefactors that well." She licks her lips a moment and shakes her head. Staring off after the Gambler a moment, she tilts her head slightly at Martyr's thoughts. "I don't know that my things are harder. I don't know. I think it is just my purpose here to feel guilt. I am always repenting for something. Always. What worries me is that Lorraine is the real me. I always called that image on my door, The Weeping Woman. Before I knew anything about ... the myth."

She considers Optimist, shaking her head a little. "Not always a radio. Once there was nothing, then one 'day' there was a television. It just had a ... digital countdown? And then we were on the space station. After that, it played western movies, and we were in Prosperity. Then MTV and we were at the Eager Beaver Lodge ... then the radio, and the Carnival came ..." She trails off a little, gaze distant and thoughtful. "There's never been anything we can do to choose what the TV shows."

The Addict ducks their head in a way very reminiscent of Martin when Penny addresses them. "I got to know Vie well enough," they say quietly. "I admit, I'm biased, because I care about you regardless, but I can imagine it isn't a comfortable skin to live in, all things considered. And I know it might be an empty platitude to say you weren't her, though. But you weren't. I won't give up hope you're more than that.

They then go to the dispenser, and they bring back a covered dish revealed to be a Gruyere and potato frittata with roasted red peppers. "Here you are," they say. Then they retake their seat beside Dare and slip their hand into his.

The Martyr relaxes a little as the Optimist speaks. To Penny he says, "Guilt is definitely harder than what I do, but I can listen.... What does it mean for you, if you're really her. I don't think I got her story straight in my head. I do think we may not be able to choose our essence and we don't get to choose a whole host of things about our circumstances out there, but in here we really do get to choose who we are and how we deal with things." He looks curious, "I didn't know about the countdown. Thank you." He takes Briar's hand with a quick flash of smile.

"The repent, surely you must have been at fault, and I'm not sure any of us really were. I mean, umn. I wasn't La Lorona, or anything like that," says Arcade thoughtfully "I mean, I guess even when Oh felt down, it never lasted for long - he really _knew_ he could save just about anyone. He knew he could save you all. I do feel kind of sad I never got to do it. I knew I could physically turn myself into a sort of, umn." Arcade looks at Briar and reaches out for the food "Metaphysical reactor, running off solid-state belief. If the person I was with could orchestrate their followers into releasing energy at that point, I could change it's structure into a sort of etheric lancet. And use that knife to perform surgery on the God."

Then he says "I suppose we have to make our own entertainment - that's why people have so many relationships here, I guess." He hesitates "I know I only ate people who Oh thought were bad, but I don't know if he was a good judge. The thing I find, erm, challenging about him, probably no one else does. But he was, I guess, bisexual? And I can't work out how I feel about that."

"I wasn't Vie, no. But I could have been Vie's best friend," Penny says thoughtfully, nodding her head as she continues to think on it further. "I do not think we get to choose much about ourselves in here, either. The true relationships I have tend to be ones that have carried over through from our various selves. With the door images and the way our rooms tell so much about us, there seems to be little choice to be had. And the same running themes through every life."

There's a sad sort of smile there, and she shakes her head. "It's not just Lorraine. It's everything, five lives, and I have always felt like I was at fault, Arcade," she looks up at the man who was a snake. "Even here, I can't shake the sense that I have done something terrible and deserve to be here. I've always felt as though I deserve a prison cell." She tilts her head slightly. "What worries you about the sexuality of Oh? I have been a lot of things. And I don't think there's a way to really describe Lorraine's ... preferences."

The Addict tentatively lays a hand on Penny's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. They have no wise words to make it all better, but they do have a caring presence. Penny may not forgive herself, but Briar has a clean slate for her. "According to my door," they say, "I'm just a junkie. With Martin, it was laudanum, with Danny, it was everything, and with Dia, it was wine. I'm trying to be more than that." They take up their coffee again and take a drink. Mmm, caffeine.

Dare' eyes go wide at Arcade's explanation of the thing he'd been hinting at regarding the ritual when they were out there. he nods, "It shook my world when I woke up here the first time with a different orientation than the one I'd thought I had. It wasn't as extreme as your situation, but it really fucked me up until I came to terms with it."

he studies Penny, "The relationships you carried over. Were they all ones you chose, like you did with Christine or were some of them... preset at the beginning of you arriving there?" he is firm about this next, "I still like and care about you. That hasn't changed Emily or Lorraine or here. I know that doesn't change the guilt, but I still think you're a good person even if sometimes you do ugly things out there." He is fierce when he says, "Briar, you were and always will be more than that."

"You know, I do actually think surfing a Tsunami would be _so_ cool," says the Optimist "And you've already got a board there, so you'd be fine - it'd all turn out great." He might be talking about his own door, which shows him attempting to do precisely that "That must be so difficult, miss. I don't know if something like Buddhism could help you, but they do talk a lot about, um, sins and acceptance, and living through that rather than ignoring it." He picks up a fork, and he starts eating the fritata, tasting it "Actually, I think you are a Shaman," he says to Briar "Two-spirit, kinda. I mean, er, without the whole appropriation thing. But yeah. That's what I think."

He glances at Dare and he says to Penitent "I don't know if the words get used where you come from, since some didn't know them, but I'm what people in my time call asexual, and aromantic. That's part of who I am. I feel like it's been a problem, or hard, or I don't know. I feel like it's an identity thing. So having weird feelings I've never felt before...I don't know what to do with those feelings now, you know? I don't know what I am. Am I straight now? Maybe I am. When there's, like, so little you remember, it feels like they shouldn't mess with our orientation or gender too." He adds "And also, I don't know how the fuck sexual people get anything done ever. Like, focus - what even is it."

"Just a junkie." Penitent murmurs thoughtfully, nodding. "I can't shake this though. I called that woman on my door The Weeping Woman, lifetimes before I ever actually was the Weeping Woman. I don't want Lorraine to be the real me." She tilts her head slightly, considering a little and nodding as the others speak. "Both," she says to Dare, considering. "Some relationships were present for as long as I can truly remember, others developed while we were there, but both have carried over. And I learned a lot about carrying my own sins, certainly," her gaze drifts to Optimist again, nodding. "Especially as Anette, but I woke up in a confusion this time."

There's a slight smile, touched with a mixture of amusement and sorrow as she nods. "I have been a lot of things, as I said. Madison was asexual, certainly, though it wasn't an identity thing for her. She just didn't care, and didn't have time." The smile grows a little. "So she could get a lot of things done. It has never really mattered to me what I am here. I care for who I care for."

"I was confused when I came here for the first time," Briar says. "Because I didn't feel like a man, and I felt like I should feel that way. Chance told me I was gender fluid, and that was that. He's always helping me. I guess I'm kind of into both men and women to some degree, except Dia was pretty hetero. There are women she would've made an exception for, but..." They take a drink of coffee and sigh in contentment, because no matter what else is going on in the universe right now, they have a cup of coffee. "I just can't figure out why this experiment, whatever it is, would need a junkie. That's what throws me."

The Martyr raises his eyebrows at Arcade, impressed at his observations. Then he listens, fork down to the former snake discussing his struggles with the orientation shift. He thinks for a while, "Tossing out out there for a moment, if you are asexual and aromantic here, I don't think terms like straight can apply, unless you've started feeling attraction here. I'm am sorry. It's not fair that you...were given so little chance to build some sort of human foundation for yourself first.

He gives the Penitent a steady look, "So don't choose to make Lorraine the real you. You can't change that essential kernel inside you, sure, but the rest? Here? How you act and who you care about here and in what way and how you... think about who you are? Those you get to pick. That why I took a separate name for me here. It's not a refutation of Finn or Osiris, but an embrace of being bigger than a sum of my parts, and of the choices I make here about who I want to be within the limits of my nature." He sighs, "I think this one was extra rough for a lot of people one way or another." Then he's insisting again, "Never just a junkie. The best ideas Finn had at the Lodge were inspired by Danny. You think creatively in ways that I don't you... You love so beautifully and fiercely it's inspiring. I think I said something about the place we overlap at Zenon, but I think it's something essential. You throw yourself into things all the way. you may or may not take precautions in advance, but when you do a thing you hold nothing back. It not just drugs or wine or whatever. It's music. It's philosophy. It's dinosaurs. It's love. It's defense. It's sacrifice. It's life!"

"I feel confused," the Optimist admits to the Penitent "I don't think I'm actually a human. I think I'm a snake. But I guess this is me now. Except I feel like I should still be a snake. Well, I can wear snakeskin. So that's good." He blinks at the woman "You've experienced it too. Hmm." And he says "Chance?" He does not know who Chance is. "I think it's aliens. We'll find out that we're like, establishing first contact." He makes a few finger guns, and then he listens to the Martyr speak "It's free coffee," he breathes.

The Explorer, looking far less exotic snake dancer-y and much more.. 'supremely comfy jammies-wearing brunette' shuffles into the dining hall, yawning and rubbing some sleep out of her eyes. She doesn't know what time it is. Do any of them, really? Are there clocks around here, save for that one that starts counting down eventually? All she knows is that she just woke up, and just waking up requires...


Full-on zombie shambling goin' on here, folks, as she heads toward the nearest source of piping hot, aromatic french roast.

There's a touch of a smile there for Addict, and the Penitent just shrugs her shoulders. "I don't think it's simply an experiment, obviously enough. I think it's a prison." Then she sets her cup down, leaning forward and shrugging her shoulders. "That worked for me once, Dare. I never chose a name -- never felt the need to -- but I was able to accept each piece of myself. Come back to me when you have three more people knocking around in there, with all their own needs and wants. When you have a mix of memories and very different ways of seeing all the same person, when you think you just might have had one of yourselves murder another of your selves own child." There's an appreciative smile though, and even a hint of amusement breaking through that gloom. "All the best ideas. Psh. Finn also had the great idea of running towards a screaming Banshee trying to kill us and encouraging her to 'move towards the light' -- also an idea inspired by Danny, yes? That could have turned out rather differently." There's a bit of a nod for Optimist, but whatever she might be about to say is cut off by Explorer's own arrival. She considers for a long few moments before just offering probably the most real smile seen at all this particular time. "Senni."

The Addict bows their head and says, "Yeah, that was one of Danny's. When they look up to see the Explorer, they smile a little, tentatively, and says, "We have coffee over here, Senni. If you'd like to join us. We also have strawberries and cream, and I'll get you a frittata if you want." They tuck a lock of hair behind one ear, almost shyly.

A Stranger is sitting at the breakfast table with the others. He's about Briar's height, classically handsome with dark eyes, tawny skin, and black, curly hair. His features are strongly masculine, with high, aristocratic cheekbones and a cleft chin. A regal nose shadows full lips. He's broad shouldered and muscular, wearing a black mid calf length tunic with green leaf embroidered trim. He hasn't bothered with shoes or trousers, as the side slits aren't high enough to offend modesty. His hair is combed, but he still had an attractive amount of night scruff.

Dare finishes his strawberries and cream and waves to the Explorer. "Good morning!" He turns back to the Penitent, "Fair enough. At least... talk to some of the other older ones, all right? Wait, your own child? I'm missing something." To Penitent, "Talking to them came from that idea, though, not perfect, but on the right track."

Senni. That's a name that she remembers. Recognizes as linked, specifically, to her. Unlike others, the Explorer hasn't yet chosen a static name for herself when she's here. Wherever here is. She understands the inclination, of course, but where she's concerned? She just answers to whichever of her previous names people choose to call her. And that list is growing. At the promise of coffee, she turns toward the small group and spots the one who'd initially greeted her immediately. And, just as immediately, she's mirroring the Penitent's smile. Sleepily, granted, but even so! "Hey, sis." Yep. That familial bond is still felt, and it's to the woman she once embraced as 'Nettie' that she goes first, leaning in to offer a one-armed hug.

The other arm is already reaching for a cup. Some people have spirit animals. She has a spirit bean, and its name is Arabica. As her gaze skims across to the Addict, she... okay. Yeah. She giggles. In that way that's so spontaneous that it's quite apparent that she simply couldn't help it. "Ohh, god. What an incestuous little group we're becoming, hmm?" she teases, though there's nothing but affection in her eyes. And finally, she looks to Martyr. "Morning to you, too. I... feel like I know you, but I'm told some people look different."

There's another brief smile, and the Penitent nods in an easy agreement. "It was the right idea. I'm just making fun of Danny really. He had some good ideas, but he had ... some other ideas too," she muses in that teasing tone again, giving a little sigh. "And as for the child thing, it's a very confusing entanglement of memories and something to do with the name Maria that had me feeling a certain kind of dread. Don't ... worry about it for now. Sorting out all the threads just takes longer each time."

The expression falters, but she's there anyway to return the one-armed hug for Explorer, clinging somewhat tightly for a moment, "Hey." She says quietly, looking somewhat ... exhausted, perhaps. Her brows do lift up at that giggle, eyes widening further at at that teasing. "Oh god, it's getting too weird, seriously." A blink. "Oh, yeah. A lot of people are changing for some reason." But not her!

The Addict smiles warmly at Senni. "Yeah, we are," they say, not without humor. "You look lovely." They take a drink of their coffee, then nod to Penny. "Danny just kind of let all the ideas out to see what would stick. Thank goodness enough of them were good." They lean lightly against Dare, shoulder to shoulder. "You don't have to defend my intelligence though, dear. One thing I learned in our most recent whatever is that there's more that matters besides brains. Dia was dumb as a stump, but she had heart."

The Martyr smiles at Senni, "I'm glad you're back. I'm Dare, who was Finn and Kemen. Osiris. People keep asking after you. How are you?" He nods, "I think I'm not good at caring about my own safety if someone else is in trouble. I've got the survival instincts of a lemming, really." He nods and lets the Maria issue drop. "I have a hypothesis, but only three data points so far on the change thing." He kisses Briar's cheek, "That too."

Snagging hold of a chair, the Explorer tugs it around until it's nestled up nice and close to Nettie's, then plops down into it. Sometimes proximity helps, when someone you care about is flailing a bit emotionally. She fills her cup with coffee, and grins over at the Martyr. "Ah! Okay, now things make sense. Dare. And you're.. Briar, now?" she asks of Addict, shifting her focus smoothly. "I talked with Chance, and he mentioned it. I feel like I'm way behind on people's names."

"I can't really say good things about Lorraine's intelligence either. Kind of annoying after being Emily and Anette. Emily had her issues, but she was smart, at least." A huff there from the Penitent, and she shakes her head. "There's almost always something annoying about everyone I've been." There's a brief moment of irritation in her expression before she smiles again at the Explorer, just turning this whole thing into a casual lean. "Makes sense?" She teases lightly. "Not so sure about that. I haven't picked a name though. I already have like, five of them. Seems like picking one just adds to the confusion. I still don't think of you two as Dare and Briar. The other memories are stronger."

The Addict nods to Explorer. "Yeah, Briar, but you can call me anything you want." Is... is Addict trying to flirt? They're not like Danny was, who would just say 'nice shoes, wanna fuck.' "Is it okay if I call you Senni? That's what Chance calls you and... and I remember Llesenia fondly. Did you know Fleur and Martin named their daughter after you?" They clear their throat and glance down at their cup. Yeah, flirting much more like Martin than Danny.

The Martyr nods, "It's all right. I will answer to the old names without being offended." He smiles encouragingly at Briar, then has a drink of his coffee. All right then.

Seeming perfectly content to share in the companionable mutual lean with Penitent, Explorer stirs just a little sugar into her coffee before taking a cautious sip. And, while doing so, eyes Addict over the rim of that cup with vibrantly amused eyes. That's matched by the stirrings of a grin that tugs at the corners of her mouth when she lowers her coffee again, and her head tips just a fraction to one side. "I didn't know that, no. I'm beyond touched," she says softly. "But why not Misty? I mean, you knew me far, far better as Misty." Biblically, even. Ahem.

Penitent falls quiet, giving a brief smile at the mention of Misty, but her gaze remains someone distant and thoughtful. Content enough, apparently, to just remain in obviously listening silence for the moment.

"I adored Misty," Briar says. "Danny wasn't good at making it work, but the love was there. I've always cared about you. Chance calls you Senni, and that name doesn't remind me of how badly Danny bungled things." They pour themselves a little more coffee. "You're also, like, the one woman Dia would've... you know. Aside from when Holden was being Molly." What. Married couples experiment.

The Martyr is suddenly quite busy pouring himself more coffee and stirring in a lump of sugar, giving them conversational space to talk things through.

Senni's lips twitch, as though laughter is trying its damnedest to bubble up to the surface again, but she's holding it at bay. Her eyes are still bright, though, as she nods. "Oh, honey. I would've jumped in bed with you in a heartbeat." She glances briefly toward Dare and Nettie, but then her gaze returns to Briar. A fair bit more soberly, she diverges, "I.. do want to say that I'm grateful to you, though. For loving him so well, and making him happy. As Artemis, I was.." She pauses a moment, trying to think of the right word, then gives up and snickers out, "Well, I was a bit of a twat. And I didn't treat him very well. So, in case there was any concern.. I'm glad you and he found each other. Truly."

The Addict smiles at Senni warmly, and they tentatively give her hand a squeeze. "Thank you," they say. "And I'll tell you what I told him, if you make him happy, then I want you to be with him. I guess one thing I inherited from Danny, or he from me, is that I don't feel jealous. I just want the people I care about to be happy." Dare gets a small smile of gratitude for giving them a moment.

The Martyr can't help but quietly slot this into the mental file with some hints Chance dropped, but he's all poker faced busy drinking coffee. He does flash The Addict a small smile in return for Briar's.

"Mm. I couldn't have said it better," Senni replies, reciprocating the gesture as her fingers curl smoothly around Briar's and squeeze gently. "'Course, I'm still sorely under-caffeinated, so that's sort of a given. But even wide awake, I'm no match for your wordsmithing skills, sweetling." She winks, then draws her hand back and moves to stand. "I think maybe a hot shower will help clear the rest of the haze out of my head. Or if not, another few hours spent sprawled in a certain king-sized bed could never be a bad thing." That, said with a pointed look delivered to Briar with impish eyes. "Dare," she adds, looking over to him, "I really am glad to see you again. Seems like every time we come back here, there are people missing. I'm always terrified to step out of my door for the first time and find out who it might be." As if clogged suddenly by a memory rising to the surface, she swallows lightly. "I'll see you two later, I'm sure." And with that, she starts to pad back out of the dining hall.

The Addict tells Senni, "Flattery will get you everywhere." They smile crookedly. "Take care, beautiful." They then take Dare's hand and tell him, "I'm going to go take a bubble bath. Whether or not I take it alone is up to you." They take a sip of their coffee and regard him quizzically.

The Martyr gives the departing Senni a friendly wave, "It really is good to see you too." He takes the hand and kisses it. Softly he says, "Love, much as I would love to take the bubble bath with you, I think you should go after her."