Log:Love for Sale
The tiny sound of an old-timey radio drifts from the parlour. It sounds like a slightly staticy version of Louis Armstrong singing "Body and Soul." The Martyr is trying to figure out how to dance to it without any real grasp of what sort of steps would go with this type of music. He's trying his awkward best to improvise something out of his vague memories of how they danced in Grease and Saturday Night Fever and from several random musicals starring Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. He is failing miserably, but cheerful about it. The Martyr is wearing a purple linen poet shirt with a lot of neck and wrist ruffles open to display a bit of pasty chest and tight black on black paisley trousers with purple high top sneakers and is wearing some sort of fougere based cologne
"Wow," says the Optimist, as he enters, though his voice is not mocking. Surprised, yes. But not that. He has a bowl in his hands, and is eating some sort of incredibly spicy curry, chili is heavily present within it. A long brass spoon. The man is dressed much as he was before - red vest now! But he still has a vague smile. And glasses, now, that make him look studious, and possibly just a little anxious "Wait, is that thing new?"
The Martyr gives Boots a wave and spins dizzily towards him, "It is. What to dance?" He holds his arms up in the all elbows version of a waltz position even if this is better danced with a swing step.
"I don't know if I can dance," says the man talking to the Martyr "But I might be able to? I don't recognize the music, though." He's a studious, almost serious looking man, with glasses and a bright red vest. Shirt, slacks, neat black shoes. He also gestures to the bowl in his hands "I need to finish this though. Now _this_ is food." He prods a piece of hot chili up and he adds "So...so when did that thing _get_ here?"
The Martyr says, “It smells good. What is it?" He glances back at the new old radio, "I think it replaced the TV during the reset. I thought I should at least try it. There was a theory going around that what played on the TV was a hint about where we are going next. Maybe this is like that. I can't dance either, but I thought, 'Why not try it?" Only I know next to nothing about this kind of dancing."”
She's usually only seen darting down the hall like a madwoman in the first days in the Facility, every time. That, or her usual partner in crime is plowing through her door, usually heaped high in blankets. This time, however, the Visionary drifts out of her room in her usual hippie tent of a tie-dyed dress, barefoot as ever, already carrying a lit clove cigarette in hand. It isn't food she's seemingly after, as the coffee mug she's dangling by a fingertip as she practically dances her way down the hall in time with the music is very obviously empty. She's not all dolled up like Danica was, but it's very clearly the rich bimbo newlywed, easily recognizable from the lodge. On seeing the others, she perks slightly, offering a wave that trails a spiral of smoke behind her hand.
The Optimist lifts his hand. He looks new, unless there is another person from maybe the Republic of Cabo Verde around. He watches the woman with dark eyes, head faintly tilted, his own skin pretty dark even as African Americans go. Likely from somewhere else, as his accent is muted when he speaks to the Martyr "Guisado de percebes, but with extra chili. I always eat it with..." The voice trails away a bit, as he tries to work out _why_ he feels that way. Then he says to the man present "That music, it's not familiar. But I don't really know what kind of music would be. Hello." And he gestures with his spoon to the woman "I'm, ah, calling myself 'Boots'. Because it sounds cheerful?"
The Martyr waves at the Visionary, "You were really brave. I'm sorry my Fireworks idea didn't work out better. I'm calling myself Dare now, but it's okay if you forget. What should I call you?" He studies Boots' dinner with some interest, "I wish writing it down would help for more than a day. I do like trying new things."
The differences between the Martyr and Finn are subtle. He is the same age, with very similar hair, though slightly longer, and in a slightly different cut, and is still long limbed and gangling. Though he remains very thin, he is wiry with it instead of borderline emaciated.
That perpetual look that seems to inquire silently, perhaps of the very universe, if she's left the oven on, has thankfully left her face. "Hey!" The Martyr, she recognizes, even if his face is new to her in this particular place. "I was really stupid and didn't understand the principles of momentum, and I think I actually believed that silly joke about female fantasy armor was maybe a fact." There's a hint of color in her cheeks at that one. "Dare is good," she confirms with a quick nod. The Optimist, on the other hand, is entirely new to her. She doesn't make the connection immediately that he wasn't at the lodge, having not spent as much time out and out, mingling, as she might have done. The introduction brings an open and easy smile to her lips, and the Visionary says, "Cass, here. Cassandra, Cassie. Danica, most recently. Dahlia, Pandora, Angeline, before that. Pick whichever you like, though-" There's a pause, and she clucks the tip of her tongue to the back of her teeth. "-I think there was a Cassandra at the lodge? That's going to be confusing, so. Just pick your favorite?" She still rambles like Danica, but there's a marginally more stable intelligence underscoring her tone. No accent, though. Flawless American broadcast English. Good luck even guessing where she's from. "Boots. I like it. It does sound cheerful." There is a pause, and she cants her head, a single brow arching. "Brand new?" There's some empathy there.
"Dare?" says Boots, with a faint frown, but then he offers the dinner across to Finn "You mean we can't remember things across days easily? That sounds pretty awkward." He wrinkles his nose, and he says "I'm sure we can figure out something. The tattooing didn't work, and neither did hair cutting. Maybe something left inside that." He puts thw bowl down, and looks at the radiator with a curious expression. And then he turns his head towards Cass, and he says "Uhhhh. Mmm. Yes, Boots. Well, it was either that, or 'Yellow'. Or even, Yellow Boots - I think that whole idea is extremely. Positive." He chews the side of his mouth, then nods "Indeed. Very new. But I have so many theories about this place. Frankly, I think it's aliens."
Short and runty, a possibly feminine figure - she's slight, or a young boy - comes down the hall in a red track suit with the hood up and a truly odd Salvador Dali mask on. She offers a wave of a small hand in passing, heading for the dispensary.
The Martyr blinks, "Ah. I just sort of assumed it was a live by the geek die by the geek thing, or maybe a defiant statement about scaring, sort of like all the nude pictures of women who had mastectomies in Baba Yaga's Bookstore near campus." He is remembering the queer bookstore run by two elderly lesbians that was a Eugene fixture in that other life. "Oooooo! Cassandra's a really good choice. I think people referred to you my first night here, but I was really drunk at the time and it was a lot of names at once." He nods, "Lodge Cassandra made it here too. I don' know what she's going to call herself."
He takes a mouthful, not worrying about germs in this place. His eyes go wide, but he seems pleased even if he is sweating a little. "Delicious and interesting, but I'll likely have to work up to the extra chilies. We do remember, but most physical things reset while we sleep. Yellow might have been a little weird, I admit." He waves back at the peculiar figure as if this were completely normal. Louis Armstrong blows his last cord and a tiny voice starts singing "Embraceable You" in the background.
At the mention of Aliens, there's a slight tic around the Visionary's left eye. "Let's... hope not?" There's something in the way she says it that suggests she's speaking from an uncomfortable measure of experience on that particular point. "At least, not the ones we met a while ago." The shudder may be subtle, but it sends those curls of hers into one heck of a flurry. "To call them 'unfriendly' would be an understatement."
She sinks into a lean against the side of one of the couches, and takes a quick drag from her cigarette. "Heya, lady," she calls over to the Creepshow, offering another flicker of a wave. "Well. That, too, I guess. Chuck had this-" Pause. "Did Chuck or Sasha make it?" She sounds so hopeful, but no. "-thing about it, and, well. A sword. Still can't believe I brought a sword to-" There's another pause, and she can't help but laugh at herself briefly. "You ever get the feeling you've got a whole lot to live down all of a sudden?"
The Optimist pauses, as someone heads past dressed up in a completely obscured manner, and he says "Like him. He could be an alien. Or she." Though as the Martyr talks about Baba Yaga's Bookstore, Boots squints again "Hmm. I see. Er. Odd. Wow. I only know, er, Dare here. Well, I've seen one or two others." Then he says "Any weirder than _this_? I like yellow, though. It's the colour of the sign on my door, so it must be cheerful." Instead of the warning sign it actually is. He side-eyes at Cass, and he says "Wait, you've met aliens? What was it like? Were they enlightened?" He finds himself a seat, and then he says "Who's that one there? The one who went past? And...and no. Actually. I don't really feel like I've...lived a life at all?"
"YOU MEAN LIKE ATTACKING FUCKING FISHMEN WITH A COSPLAY SWORD WHILE WEARING A SLAVE LEIA BIKINI?" yells the runty one from a room over.
The Martyr cocks his head, "Was this on the Space station? I'm still piecing all the bits together." The tendency to want to gather and organize information seems more persistent than his French verb lists. he looks sad, "I haven't seen Chuck or Sasha. I'm sorry. People are still turning up though. Fizz and Lulu showed up this morning." He's not sure which one Sasha was, but he remembers Chuck. Oh does he remember Chuck. He blushes rather, "I owe Addison a big apology." He takes a deep breath, "You have nothing to be ashamed of. Danica was valiant." He laughs at Max's response, "That is definitely Max." To Boots, "People who were on the space station have been here a long time."
"They were exploding out of people's faces, when I saw them last," the Visionary explains, ever so slightly green around the gills. "And I think, if I am remembering correctly, the conclusion of the original study team was something in the neighborhood of-"
Then, there is the cringe. Such a tiny little cringe as her head sinks an inch further down in between her shoulders, and she winces. All while trying to not laugh, still. The pain is winning for the moment. "YEP! JUST LIKE THAT!"
"I think bringing the sword into a place with an electro-shock-happy ghost was probably worse. Like bringing a lightning rod to an electricity fight." Her lips wrinkle, and she unclenches just enough through another quick drag from her clove. "The station, yeah. Though I was a robot." She aims a look toward the dispensary, and her lips twist further. "So was Max, actually. Our jobs sucked." Literally, but she's not going to say that part out loud.
"Oz, he's Rafe, here, if you see him. Look for the roving blanket fort, pretty much."
"I'd...have loved to have seen a space station -" Boots starts, before the rest of it comes through, and he inquires, uncertainly "Fishmen?" He looks on the bright side of life, but some things really need a little bit more detail. With an awkward grin, he runs his fingers through his very short hair, and then he says to the woman "Gosh, that sounds sub-optimal. So it sounds as though people are...set into awkward or dangerous situations? And then observed here? What is a blanket fort, anyway?" The nerdy newbie is busy asking questions.
A Staticky version of a tiny voice sings "Embraceable You" in the background as they talk. The Martyr tries to reassure Visionary Cassandra, "We were none of us thinking clearly those last couple days, I think. Don't be down on yourself." He winces, "That sounds horrifying. I'm sorry." He also winces at the robot part, because he knows what that means now. He turns to Boots, "we can if someone shows us. It turns out that room you found with trees and deer can take you pretty much anywhere. The Fishmen were serving that Thing in the Lake we were fighting along with the Murder Ghosts I was talking about when you first arrived. They had... very sharp claws." He looks sheepish, "Sorry Da-Cassandra. It must be horrible remembering."
"Oh," the Visionary suddenly perks, "We can show you the station. It's truly spectacular, and the view?" All the cringing fades off like smoke, and she actually sets her clove-hand to her collarbones with a wistful-sounding sigh. "It's magic. It really is. And some part of me thinks the bikini fits more there, than-" No, the slave Leia bikini doesn't fit anywhere. Her head shakes as she dismisses the thought. "The dangerous situations is accurate, though it's not as if you know it, going in. Everything here?" She gestures to the room around them. "When it starts, you don't remember this. Any of this. You're just... someone living a life. And then everything goes terribly, astonishingly wrong."
"And, I'd say a blanket fort is more or less the answer to waking up and trying to figure out if you're a robot or not, still. Which is even stranger than it sounds, but-" Her shoulders rise and fall in a graceful little shrug. "-at least it's over, now." For the nonce. Her eyes flick toward the Martyr, and her smile remains strangely at ease. "Truth? That death, it-" There isn't an easy way to put it. "-really wasn't that bad?" Which means she has some grounds for comparison, apparently. "Quick, at least. I've gotten off easy, that way. Not everyone has."
"I exploded in my sleep, once. Just woke up here, the first time. Had no idea what was going on, other than thinking, for some reason, waking up naked in a strange bed full of hippie decor, 'This is just like college.'"
"Which is still my first thought every damned time, so I'm really wondering where the hell I went to college, now, more than anything else. Exploded, robot, virgin oracle, ditzy tabloid bait... " That's one hell of a major.
"Oh, well, that's awesome," says Boots, with some enthusiasm, though he wrinkles his nose all over again. Fishmen. Murder Ghosts. "If it can take you anywhere, we should definitely be using it to, er, probably calm down people from all of this weird, distressing things. I mean, that sounds like the right kind of thing to do, so they can succeed the next time, and maybe not even, er, you know, having things go wrong?" Boots rubs his chin "I don't have too many memories," he finds himself admitting "I mean, I speak English, but I speak a few other languages too. English isn't my first one. I'm not sure I've ever _been_ to college. I'm definitely certain I'm not from America. I don't know, you know, the names of the countries in it."
The Martyr nods, "Electricity was pretty quick too. I remember the smell better than the pain at this point. Yours looked bad watching, but it really was brave." The he snorts, "And I thought I might be in a neatniks idea of a haunted mansion themed bro-Nevermind. wait, virgin oracle? That was Prosperity?" To Boots he ays, "Fizz and I were talking about Tahiti just before breakfast, but we didn't go." To Visionary Cassandra he adds, "Danny made it and is Briar now and Fizz turned up for Brunch." he gives a bark of laughter, "Most Americans can't name the countries in the Americas either."
Competitor is still getting used to the Facility. This means she is clinging a little too hard to some of her 1989 memories. Hence, as she walks into the parlor, she is wearing a leotard, leg warmers, and sweatbands around her head and wrists. The glisten of perspiration on her skin suggests she has been doing aerobics. As she sees a group present she offers them a smile and a wave while humming 'Faith' to herself. "Hey, everyone." A curious look at the music in the air. "Catchy. Is it Taco? Loved that 'Puttin' on the Ritz' he did."
Finn/Dare is well known to her. Visionary/Danica/Cassandra she barely met and never got to see the Leia bikini...while Visionary was alive at least. It's not sexy on a mauled corpse. Optimist...she can't remember him from the guest list "Hi, I'm Chr...Star. Named after a chart on my wall." It's an in-joke that makes her laugh at least. "You know what occurred to me while I was trying to remember my Jane Fonda tape...does anyone have a VCR by the way? If you...we...all go to different stories and return here. Wouldn't it be a bastard thing to do to make /this/ place a story? We all think we're back here and safe and suddenly a monster comes bursting through your door." She shrugs. "Food for thought. I need to grab a juice."
"Not just places we've been," the Visionary says with a tiny smile over to Boots. "Or even places that are real. Rafe made Wonderland, back there, from the old story books, once. And I was able to make a few places just by pulling some of the picture books from the shelves, the ones with all the pictures of places from all over the world?"
"So you could go to college, if you wanted to." There's another quick rise and fall of her shoulders, and she glances to her mug briefly. "Back in a moment." But she keeps talking, because it seems she simply doesn't stop once she starts. "Yep, Prosperity! Being a Moreau girl was hell on earth, and let me tell you-" She's already half way through the door to the dispensary when she pops her head back out to say, "-this whole place has a perverse sense of irony, because the virgin oracle had two amazing men fighting for her hand in marriage for months. Seriously." And then she's vanishing through the arch, and there's the sound of tapping on one of the screens, muffled, beneath the blare of the radio, with an equally muffled, "Falling hopelessly in love with two bloody amazingly perfect men is its own special level of hell," under her breath.
It is only a moment before she's visible in the archway, directing her lean there, now, and holding a steaming cup of coffee in place of the clove. "True, that," she says, pointing to the Martyr's observation about the state of education in the States. She wriggles her fingertips in a wave of greeting to the Competitor, repeating, "Star," with a quick nod and the sort of quick and certain smile that seems to indicate she finds it a perfect fit, even without being in on the joke. "Don't give them any ideas." Pause. "Whoever 'they' are."
Out comes the Creepshow from the dispensary, though it isn't clear who she is unless you really know her - she's wearing a red track suit with the hood up and a cooky Salvador Dali mask. And carrying a bowl of brightly colored kid's cereal. She moves to take a seat on the sofa, tucking her lower legs under her and curling up a bit with her bowl of sugary goodness. Only when she has to slide the mask up to eat is it clear who she is, though short and runty aren't terribly common in here.
"Brothel?" finishes the Optimist for the Martyr. And there is Competitor, and he is watching her, cautiously. Right now, he appears to be a neatly dressed man in his early thirties, dark skin, with short cropped black hair and brown eyes. He has a red vest on, and his shoes are well polished. After a moment, he pushes the glasses up on his nose, and he says "Hello, ah, Star. My name is 'Boots'. Or 'Yellow'. Maybe I should go to college? And...ah, to be honest, I'm not sure I have too many ideas, but I'd prefer not to consider dire ones. Given the situation. I mean, we've presumably been kidnapped by. Weirdos."
A particularly clarinet heavy version of "Georgia on My Mind" starts playing on the new old-timey radio. The Martyr gives the Competitor a smile and a wave, "The TV's been replaced with a radio, so I was checking it out. I couldn't find anything modern on it though. It's mostly old fashioned dance music and the Shadow Knows as far as I can tell. No VCR, sorry." He shudders, "That would be diabolical. Let's hope they don't."
"Briar showed me where Martin lived. That place made me itch even the short time I was there. It made Murder Ghosts sound friendly by comparison.
It does take the lifting of the mask before Competitor recognizes Max. Once she does there is another wave...and a narrowing of eyes at that concentration of sugar Max is eating. So many free radicals waiting to happen. Star disappears for a moment to quickly grab a juice. "So much for having everything we want. No VCRs. No video tapes. No movies. Plenty of books. Why aren't books banned?" She can't help but sing along to the song on the radio for a moment before finding the arm of a seat to sit on.
"Boots? Are you a competitive walker. Just a little 'boots are made for walking' joke" Competitor smiles before clearing her throat. "Very little. Nice to meet you, Boots. Surely every situation they put us in is dire. That seems to be the point. You think we've been kidnapped by aliens?" A sip of her juice. "Brothel? This place? That's a new theory. I did ask Nettie if this was a polyamorous knocking shop between 'stories' but I guess it could be someone's idea of a sadistic violence brothel."
The mention of 'brothel' practically summons a spit-take from the Visionary, and it's a hard swallow to get that coffee down. "That's a new spin on it," she confesses through a grin half-hidden behind the rim of her cup, coughing a little to clear her throat.
She raises the cup in a brief salute to the Martyr as she muses, "Ahhh, Chez Munson, the most grandly overwrought sprawl of moldering antebellum 'don't you dare touch anything at all' in the western territories." She seems to know it well. The lean deepens to a visible slouch, with equally visible grumpiness in every inch of the woman's posture, spreading from the twist of a frown down to the tips of her fingers and soles of her feet. "I ended up marrying a Munson. He wouldn't let me in the house. Said he was doing me a favor, and from everything I've heard since?" She huffs mildly. "I think I would have been inclined to kick over a column with a Ming vase on principle." Wait, they can do that now. It's almost possible to see the idea spark up behind her eyes and start to banish the scowl. Field trip!
"Rafe called it a hope-swallowing vortex, or something like that, but truth be told?" She does pause briefly at the Competitor's observation, however, saying only, "I'm a little surprised it hasn't ever devolved into some kind of hot tub orgy, considering, but I'm a little grateful for that at the same time, I have to admit."
"I've worked in a brothel," says Creepy around a mouthful of dayglo cereal. "This isn't a brothel. No customers for one."
Munch munch munch.
"Though, I have fucked and died in my room here multiple times. Huh. Maybe it is like the brothel."
The Optimist says "No DVDs?" He rubs the back of his neck, and he smiles a bit to the Competitor "Thank you. And no, I just liked the name for no good reason at all. Dare here said we should choose one, and...that's the one I chose. I honestly don't know _what_ I think, but I'm sure if we all work together and try hard, we can succeed." He clears his throat at 'polyamorous', though with his complexion, a blush is hard to notice. "Sounds sadistic. Unless people are watching us..." he wrinkles his nose "I don't intend to die," he decides, completely certain of it "But I am going to go back now. I think I need to, ahm. Think about this all." And indeed, off he slides. He does eye Creepy. But who wouldn't?
The Martyr says, “Do you think we could watch movies in the rooms where you could go anywhere? Oh! Star, what was wrong with the Time bandits theory. you have proof it doesn't work?" He blushes, "No one is exchanging goods or services with me." He's happy enough to change the subject, "When I saw the Munson place, all I could think of is 'We have Always Lived in the Castle.'" He gives Boots a little wave.”
Competitor nods to Optimist's comments. "If people pay to watch us live, have sex, die horribly, is that far from a brothel? You died /here/, Max?" A shrug. "At least you got better." A sip of her juice as she waves goodbye to the Optimist. "He seems to want to win. I like that in a person. Oh, yes, your time travel theory. Nettie was telling me about the space station. It seems that the company Weyland-Yuntani were involved...ring any bells? And that the monsters were Aliens. Not the generic word alien but the actual monsters from the films Alien and Aliens. So, if this was time travel, how do we time travel into a world of known fiction? For your time travel to work, the future would have to somehow either pattern itself after a movie or develop in a way that would suggest the movie was written by Nostradamaus." Her brow furrows. "Or someone from the future who knew how it was going to turn out. These are the things that make your brain hurt."
There's another nod to the Creepshow from the Visionary, and a quiet little sigh. She did say the robot job sucked, and she meant it. A swig of coffee, and she proposes, "Could be a voyeuristic thing. I mean. It probably is, in some fashion." Her eyes lower to the contents of the cup briefly, and her lips twist faintly. "I'm pretty sure I'm polyamorous," she admits without any hesitation, "but it's not... really a priority, I guess."
"In case no one mentioned, if you die here? You just wake up in bed again, the next morning." She breathes out another little grumbly sigh into her coffee. "I may have driven someone to test the limits of that theory last go 'round." Definitely not her proudest recollection of this place. "Uhm. That reminds me." Subtle as a trainwreck. She clears her throat delicately. "Has anybody seen film student Kirk around?" The worry on her face is muted, but not invisible.
It's almost an afterthought. "There were better houses in Prosperity. Than that one." The words are quietly spoken. "At least, if I was going to live there."
"You can die in here," Creepy states between bites. "But you have to really be trying. First day here, I slit my wrists. Woke up the next day like nothing happened. Then some others heard me say it, but didn't believe me. So I made one of them kill me again to prove it." Shrug. She shakes her head to Vis. "No. But his door hasn't changed."
It's not Taco, but the Fred Astaire version of "Puttin' on the Ritz" follows. From dare's expression Weyland-Yutani didn't immediately ring any bells, but with the Aliens hint he gets it. "Oh! I did see the first one. I didn't realize it was going to be horror and not Science fiction." He shudders, "I see the problem, but what if it's a parallel universe situation, or something where things in the future sort of leak through if they are bad enough? I'm not saying it is. That does make it less likely, but not impossible. We are time travelers in a sense, after all."
He smiles crookedly, "I was not inclined to exclusivity as long as I can remember, and that seems the only logical way to proceed here where people return with new relationships, but might not want to let go of the old ones." He smiles at Danica Cassandra, "He turned up in boxers during breakfast a while ago, slid through, talked about Sasquatch and left." He eyes go wide, "Shit Max! I'm sorry."
"I heard about the dying and coming back" Competitor nods, "Just didn't realize that people had tried to so much." A frown at Max's suicidal confessions before she looks over to Visionary. "I don't know if /I/ am polyamorous but I think I'm going to have to get used to it in other people at the very least. It seems that whoever put us here, likes to play with our emotions both in and out of the 'stories'. Are /any/ of the feelings we have for others our own or implanted? Maybe this is all an experiment in manipulation? Who can tell the best story or cause the best havoc in the participants." For some reason she smirks at that.
"Oh, the guy with the coffee that had been strained through a homeless person's underwear?" This is how the Competitor remembers 'Kris' after a kitchen meeting at the Facility. "I was sick for hours after that. I may have even died in my sleep and reset. I now understand why no one else would risk drinking it." A shrug at Dare's reappraisal of his time-travel theory. "I hope there are parallel universes involved. Nettie said she was on an island in 2018 and there /wasn't/ a President Christine Lake. Obviously, she was in an alternate timeline." A wink for Dare before she drains her glass of juice. "I better get going too. Grab a shower. It would be a lot easier to do aerobics with a video tape. Nice to see you all again." She rises, pointing at the radio. "That's the one Taco did!" she grins before a hug for Dare and Danica/Cassandra if she wants one. Max she knows to stay clear of. "See you all later."
At least she wasn't the only one who checked, or seemed to notice that pattern, and something about that observation, and the confirmation of her own, from the Creepshow does seem to put the Visionary a little more at ease. "I remember that," she says too soberly. Silence, for a moment, as she looks at the other woman in the red jumpsuit, lost in thought.
The Martyr's description of his appearance earlier does manage to rouse a chuckle, in spite of everything. "He's probably off wrestling bigfoot, to the death," she grumbles against the rim of her cup, shrinking into her skin a fraction further.
"Yeah. They were... somewhat like that. But. Not entirely. The aliens, I mean." She glances up from her coffee, saying, "The aliens have nothing on the ghosts, though, and I'm not talking about the ones from the lodge." She swallows a breath. "I mean the people that don't make it back here. Especially the ones that have, before." Suddenly, that coffee just doesn't have enough liquor in it. "I'll be right back." She's not so quick darting in and out of the dispensary this time. She'll need the booze to answer the Competitor's question.
From beyond the arch, she calls out, "That would be him! Some day, he will figure out coffee. And. I never woke up loving someone, 'cept for the once. Which was fairly convenient, since we've been fucking here since... the alien thing? The alien thing." At least she's honest about it.
A shrug. "Like she said," Creepy replies to Martyr, poking her spoon in Competitor's direction. "I got better. It hurts, but then it's over. Max's death fucking hurt though."
A waggle of fingers for Competitor. "We don't pick who we're related to or already attached to when the story starts, but people we find within the story? I think that's us. That's real."
The Martyr says, “Kirk said he tried it a lot." His limps thin, "I refuse to believe the emotions we feel here or out there are implanted, though I'm willing to believe the ones remember from before we arrived are fake." He winks at Star, "well clearly that's a mistake. I wonder who is president in 2018? Oprah, I bet." He gives Star a hug, "I'm really glad you're here."
He sighs, "That's terrifying. The waiting. I suppose I was lucky this time, but most people weren't." His expression is grave as he gazes at Max, "I am glad you got better." His eyes are trying to say something a little nebulous that he can't find words for. He opens his mouth several times to try, but gives up in the end.”
"I'm glad you're here too" Star replies to Dare as they hug. "And I hope you're right about that, Max" Competitor smiles softly about the relationships within stories theory before calling out to Visionary. "I hope you find him soon then!" Competitor disappears down the hall to her room.
Finally heaving herself away from walls and leans once her coffee is half vodka, as suits the subject at hand, the Visionary swirls out of the dispensary in a rush of hippie silk skirts to tumble into a jumble of limbs on a still vacant couch. She's got a second mug in hand, this one with just a trace of water in it to serve as an ashtray, and the clove? Already lit a fresh one. "Oh, that wasn't hi-" she begins, but her jaw snaps shut, and she offers a little wave. "Yeah, uh, Oz and Danica? Apple didn't fall too far from the tree this time."
The Martyr eyes the vodka coffee, considering, but stays where he's leaning against the sofa back, "Did I get things confused? This place really needs handouts and I always feel like I can't quite catch up."
"Blunt truth?" the Visionary says as she regards her well-spiked coffee, brows arching like a visual mark to the question. "I was hoping I'd wake up this time, and things would feel different. Because, for a while? They do. And, I guess sometimes, they still will?"
"But there's a part of me that wishes things had changed for me, at least. A little." She takes a swig of the very pale coffee, and rolls her shoulders in another shrug. "Oz, Danica's husband? He was Charlie on the station. Isaac Munson -- and, if you'll believe it, Prosperity's answer to Zorro-I-swear-I'm-not-making-this-up."
"We've been bound up pretty tight since the station. He's probably the only reason I'm not still writing notes to myself in binary." But there's a 'but' coming, brewing like a storm all over her face, like clouds darkening before the first hints of rain start spattering down. "Angeline, her momma never taught her shit about men, save for 'don't get attached to one', and well, damn you, momma, for being so precise, 'cause I went and fell ass over teakettle for two." From the lingering sadness in her voice, 'it didn't end well' is easy enough to discern without her having to voice it at all.
"Was hoping like hell that'd be easier, this time."
It is clearly not.
"I've been in relationships in stories that pre-existed," says Creepy. "Bella and Nolan were in love before we started. Had been for a few years. You know him as Ethan. We have something here, but we've also died together three times in a row. Anyway, what I'm getting at is what I feel for Bastian in here is more intense than anything before, even though it was just ten days. I think it's because I actually lived those ten days with him, instead of it being years of postcards and Polaroids for memories."
Vis gets a curious look. "I'm missing something. What happened?"
The Martyr wants the Visionary, doing his very best to understand. With the older ones he is seeing his future at it's desperately important to him to understand and empathize now. "Briar hinted at that a little. What Oz was like as Isaac, but nowhere near as vividly." He pauses, than asks softly, "May I ask, or would you prefer not to talk about what happened to the other one?" He has heard enough here to guess at answers. And then he's making a small 'oh' sound. "I'm so sorry, Cassandra." He raises his arms enough to be an offer of a hug, without being obtrusive about it. To Max he says, "I am so glad you found each other the way you did. You deserve something good and real in the midst of all of this."
There's a tiny groan from the Visionary as she glances over to the Creepshow. "I keep forgetting you missed most of that sister drama bullshit," she says, cringing into her boozy brew. "Angeline was sweet on Isaac from damn near the moment she came to town, but always convinced he wasn't serious in any intention, 'cause how could he be? Then he vanished right at the start of the reaping, being the Munson who gave all of their money away to the poor and needy, and the conclusions there were dark in their implications. And then the sheriff rolled in and-"
GULP. Down goes a whole third of that mug. Wheezing, she finishes, "-I really don't know if I'm proud of or disappointed in Angeline that it took her a whole week to realize that her boss was both hot and amazing, but by the time she figured it out Isaac had turned up again, and-"
The words stop; she just drains the mug. She looks like she needs it. And probably a lot more. She unfolds to her feet to fetch another round while she can still walk, before it actually hits. "They're both utterly amazing, totally different, and somehow perfect, and that? I really wanted that to not be how my brain handled the two of them I woke up again." Grump. "So I feel you on the ten days, sister, I feel you." The sound of the dispenser spitting out more vodkfee flows over her words.
Creepshow nods and shrugs as she listens to Vis. She replies first to Martyr, however.
"Problem is, he already has a true love from Prosperity, whom he married. We'll see how it goes. I'm not jealous, but you never know if others are until you find out the hard way."
"Cool story, bro," Creepy teases Vis. "Go fuck half the people in this place as a sexbot and get back to me."
This will end in hilarity or tears, because when the Visionary appears in a lean against the arch again, she is holding a carafe. Coffee, presumably heavily spiked again, sloshes as she gestures with it toward the room. "This place? This place is made of spite and irony, let me tell you that truth." Oh, here it comes. She gestures airily with her clove before taking a long drag, and it's somehow apt that the smoke coils out around her words like she's become some fire-breathing dragon in the space of a few fickle moody moments.
"You forget," she says ruefully, "I did." She slumps back onto the couch, and pours off some even paler coffee into her mug. "And I got fired because I was so bad at it that's what people are going to remember," she adds, though that sparks an honest laugh, even if it is at her own expense.
"Seriously, though. That man is presently tied with the pony I'm sure Little Cassie asked Santa for when she was five for 'things I'm sad I never got to ride', and this place?" Her features squinch suspiciously. "Made him even better looking."
The Martyr listens to her, all seriousness. It's not the virgin oracle thing is lost on him, just that how she feels about it is more important than the iron. "Feels real is real, I think. I'm sorry, I don't know who you mean, Cas." To Max he says, "He loves you, of that I have no doubt at all. Love isn't zero sum, and I've no doubt at all that you all can make things work if that's what everyone involved really wants.
"Not really," Creepy counters, and there's a faint edge to it. "You didn't work for Venus very long. And a lot of Ramona's patrons were from here. Maybe that's why Max didn't give a shit about taking off her shirt in front of everyone. Nothing they hadn't seen before."
She gets up, cereal finished. "But yeah. Two men trying to sweep you off your feet. Newlywed tabloid star. Rough road." She pads off to put her bowl back for whatever house fairies clean the place up when they sleep.
The Visionary just shakes her head slowly, raising her mug in a brief salute. "I do, in my heart of idiot hearts, believe there's always a way." There's a loosely sober sincerity to the sentiment, or at least as sober a sincerity as she's able to manage. "We don't feel what we feel for no reason. Chance is right about that part; it can't all be for nothing."
"I mean. Maybe that's the ultimate point, even. Of everything. Figuring love out, once and for all." She seems to know it's surely not, but at the same time, it would doubtless take some mechanism as, if not more, convoluted than what they're all enduring to accomplish that aim.
She's still sipping at the coffee, though it's down to sips, now. "It gets complicated, though. Not being able to love someone without hurting someone else you love, too."
"That's the part that hurts." Another sip, and her eyes stray toward the doors to the rooms leading to 'anywhere you like' as she falls silent, thoughtful, though she doesn't argue with the Creepshow's assessment.
The Martyr wraps his arms around himself and looks down. He is quiet a very long time, knowing full well where talking always gets him with Max in the end. Still, he very much wants to try. Finally, he ventures, "I've seen his face. The way he looks when you hurt. I'm new and an idiot and obviously I can't know, but I believe if there's a way to work things out you're both stubborn and clever enough to find it."
"We talked," Creepshow tells Martyr once she's back from the dispensary, a bottle of black rum in hand. "Rado's willing to try sharing. We'll see what happens. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go try to drink myself to sleep before I say a bunch of shit I shouldn't, because that's what this place makes me."
She goes up on tiptoes to hug Visionary with one arm, briefly. "Sorry I'm a cunt, sister." And off she goes.
"He's right, you know," the Visionary says, even if her voice has grown more quiet. "About the stubborn and clever. And the finding a way."
"Which means, I think," she directs her words more directly to the Martyr, now, "you may be new, but you're anything but an idiot." A hint of a smile touches the very corners of her mouth, before her expression is hidden behind another quick swallow of coffee.
"I never saw you together," she admits, eyes tracking back toward the door to the dispensary, then up to the Creepshow as she emerges. "But I want you to be happy, yeah? And you gotta give it a chance." She reaches up an arm to squeeze back, "Not a cunt, dammit."
The Martyr nods, "You know I'll still like you even when you do call me names and curse at me, but I admit, it's nicer when you don't." He gives Max a sad smile, "I just wish I were better at helping."
"Of course you didn't," Creepshow snorts. "You didn't even go looking for me when I got jacked. Fucking Derek did, though. You--"
Deep breath. Rub face. "This is why I apologized for being me, and am now leaving to get wasted. I'm a cunt. The end." She stalks off down the hall.
"You might be surprised," the Visionary murmurs, looking up to the Martyr with a slow cant of her head, though the sudden change in direction in the conversation hits her so abruptly that the mug topples from her hand.
"Hey." That probably should have sounded more angry than it does; maybe it's the alcohol, but it sounds like something else is putting the brakes on any sort of huff. "Dani... " Her chin lowers, and she breathes out sharply through her nose. "...was a fucking coward. And she didn't see past the end of her own nose job a lot."
"Doesn't make you the cunt."
The Martyr calls after Max, "Still like you! You're too late!" He reaches out to squeeze the Visionary's shoulder. After all, he watched her die.
Now wearing a lapful of the world's most flammable coffee, the Visionary leans in to the hug with a look of genuine chagrin plaguing her features. "I really do always fuck this stuff up, you know," she tells him, perhaps too honestly. There's a hint of a sniffle in her voice, and her eyes remain on her sometimes-sister's departing back. "She's right, you know. We were so wrapped up in our hearts and flowers bullshit, we didn't even know, not right away. And then, Oz went looking, and he wouldn't let me go with him, and that-"
She sucks in a breath. "-it really fucked me up. Made him promise anything after that, no matter what, we'd go together."
It's gallows humor, to be sure, but it's there. "Guess we did, in the end."
With an almost malicious turn, the radio starts playing, "Love for Sale." The Martyr shifts to make it a proper hug. "So do I, Cass. So do I. I didn't even know she was gone until we were already at Lakeview for that first raid. That doesn't change how she feels about it and I can't blame her. She's had it so damned hard." The Martyr's shoulders sag and he lets go. "Should I get you a towel?" He is looking away now, trying to hide the tears just starting.
Her eyes roll in the direction of the radio, and if glaring daggers truly was possible, the old time entertainment device would assuredly be studded with them by the dozen. "I don't blame her, either. And." She looks down at herself, slowly shaking her head. "I don't think anyone will even notice, with this dress." It's tragic, but true. She nudges back lightly with a single shoulder, then, strangely enough, asks, "You want to see the best house in Prosperity, some time?" She surely doesn't mean the Munson place, from her commentary before. "It had the best garden."
The Martyr surreptitiously wipes his eyes, and approximates a normal tone, "Whenever you would like. I... really don't like it there, but I need to understand."
"Tell you what," she says, tilting her head a fraction. "Some time later in the day, maybe tomorrow? The island. You should see the island, first. Briar, too, if they haven't yet. Not many people want to go back, but it's where it all started. None of us remember anything from before the island."
"It was beautiful, really. And I never stopped long enough to just... enjoy that."
"May sound strange, but." She sucks in a quick breath. "I think it might be worth it. To see where it began. All the hopes and beauty, there."
"It went sideways, like everything does, of course, but-" She forces up a smile. "It didn't start out badly."
The Martyr squeezes her shoulder again, "I'd really like that. To see what it was before." He watches her face, "I am getting used to the way people are bigger here. On the inside. I don't know if I'll feel that way after the ground has shifted under me a few more times, but I hope I do.
"The second time is always so different," she says, and something in that revelation, and the truth behind it, seems to be the core of whatever unease has been needling at her. "But, hey. Once you have half a dozen people living under your skin, I guess you grow some extra room?" Her brows loft in unison, and she manages to muster up a smile. "I'll see if I can drag Rafe. Oz. He was a stand up comic, there, on the island. I was installing solar panels, and trying to fix the wifi all the time."
The Martyr smiles his eyes soft with the motion of it, "I'm in love with Briar. I loved Danny. I met Martin when Briar took me to Prosperity. I've seen the way the pieces fit together into something more beautiful and strange than anything I could ever imagine. I will hope that my second time will transform me that way instead of leaving me all jagged teeth grinding against each other. I know the latter is one of the options, but I will hope. I have to." He nods then, "I really would like to see that you."
"Briar is one of the best hearts I've met here," she says with the sort of surety she hasn't demonstrated much, or at least not to the degree she does just then. "Martin was, so much so. Truly so. Heroically so. And Danny, too." The Visionary's smile, when it's real, is bright and honest as sunshine. "There are times we wake up very, very broken, Dare," she says, unwilling to hide that truth, either. "But."
"We fix each other in ways you'd never expect. Sometimes the most unlikely, or most unexpected people, too." Her chin tilts down again, but the smile stays. "I like that. 'Bigger on the inside'. Sounds right."
The Martyr says, “It's funny, I barely knew you, but you were there at the moment that Danny and Finn became some thing more than it was or that I thought it could be. I liked you then. I like you better now." He nods, "I've a an idea what bad might look like. What broken might mean. I've been listening, and even if I really wish there was a giant poster of who used to be who and how they all connect up relationship wise, I get the jist, at least. That people come back really fucked up. I was warned specifically and I have imagination. I believe in that healing too though. I've seen that part. I'm not the kind to give up, but I'm also... practical. Or at least this me is and Finn was. We'll see who i turn out to be later, but I have hope."”
"What my sister-" She still refers to the Creepshow as her sister, much as the other woman did regarding her, even if they weren't related at all in 1989. "-seems to not notice, it's something she has in common with Briar. Something I admire in both of them. Much more than I think either of them will ever realize." The two seem to have little in common in many respects, and yet, she seems quite sure of what she's saying.
"They are truly themselves, and willing to be who they are, more than damned near anyone else I've ever met. Rafe, too. And all of them are afraid of it, sometimes," she insists, sucking in a breath, before asserting, "but they still do it. Even when there's a cost, even when it's frightening. Even when it's a great big unknown, like a giant neon question mark floating in the air in front of them."
"And that's the bravest thing I know," she asserts without hesitation. "Braver than any suicide mission, because you're trying to live through it, and keep going, through and after, too."
"Some day, I'll... tell you about being a robot. Maybe show people, if it helps. It may make sense, then."
The Martyr says, “I would appreciate seeing it. I wasn't ready to go when max offered, and I would have felt weird third wheeling it. I can't tell if we're friends again yet.... That is brave and it's beautiful. That kind of courage, I mean."”
"I heard rumblings we're... who we were, then. Not sure if that means I'll be able to open up an arm and show off circuits, but," she offers with a tiny little shrug. "If not, I'll wake up in the morning, and everybody will get to complain about having to watch me bleed on everything like an idiot. I'm strangely all right with that."
"Just... if we have our same programming?" Her brows arch in unison. "I apologize in advance. For everything. Pandora was... different."
The Martyr nods, "Bastian said Max reverted. Briar certainly did, though they had Danny and Briar memories. Briar went all flat and faded. It was hard to watch, but I'm glad we did it. Briar looked and sounded and felt like Martin." He cocked his head, "I can handle different." He gives her a warm smile, "I adapt. I may freak out a little, but I'll adapt. I'll just be looking at a different facet of you."