Log:Made to be Sad
In the midst of emerging from his room, Melancholic neglects to take a thorough look about the hallway before turning, and insodoing manages to collide with Penitent in an accidental shoulder-check. The abrupt contact jolts the man, who recoils and turns with a stagger and an apologetic look to take stock of the victim of his collision. "Sorry!" he interjects, extending his hand to stabilize the Penitent.
Clad in shabby grey sweatclothes, Melancholic has dark rings under his eyes and doesn't appear to have spent much -- if any -- time outside of the confines of his sparse, dark room. The recognition of Penitent, however, manages to bring a bloom of coloring to liven up his pallor, a surefire consequence of his recent propensity for handsiness.
Clearing his throat as he recovers his composure, Melancholic pauses for a second, then manages to rustle up a weak smile that evaporates about as quickly as it appears. "Are you okay?"
The Penitent appears to have been just lingering outside of her room. She to, hasn't spent much time outside of her room. Her cell, as she's taken to calling it. But her attention is firmly locked onto that image on her door as she was set about studying it intently, with a focus that drowned out the other rooms around her. The woman, with her face in her hands, weeping while a village burned in the distance.
The sudden collision has her staggering aside, shifting her feet in an attempt to regain her balance. With the aid from of the stabilizing hand, she manages not to topple, remaining where she is as she finally takes in who managed to bump into her. Dressed in her usual casual sort of ensemble -- a light sky blue t-shirt and grey sweatpants today -- she shifts on the spot as she looks the Melancholic over.
Her usual vague smile isn't so quick to appear this time around, but she does manage to offer something of a slow nod. "I ... think so." She murmurs quietly. "Which I guess means no, not really at all, but I am not sure what can be really done about it." Then, the echo of the question, "Are you okay?"
There's a confused look on the Melancholic's face when his question is initially turned back around upon him, and his brows twitch together in a clear presentation of worry and distress even while he starts to reply, "I'm fi--" only to cut himself off with a pursing of his lips. "Not really," he admits his agreement, bringing one hand up to massage the circles beneath his eyes as he turns to squint back towards his door before taking a look at the image that had been holding his neighbor's attention.
"I guess it's all relative," the Melancholic supposes. "I guess I'm better," he concludes skeptically, before remembering to qualify: "Than I was." He maintains that thoughtful, knit-browed expression while he silently examines the depiction adorning the Penitent's door.
"Jonah and Jonathan both hurt. All the time," he admits. "This time, I sort of... stopped caring. Or pretended as much," he explains with evidently mixed feelings on it. He's silent again, for a time, mulling things over for a while before he wonders: "Are any of the others... happy? We never quite seem to be."
There's a weak smile of her own there. "I got very good at pretending, you know. When here. I sort of just drifted along, all vague and somewhat innocent seeming, as an act. It was ... easier than attempting to think about the reality we're in. It gets harder every time." Her head tilts to the side just slightly, and she considers. "I think I stopped caring too. Sort of. I'm glad you're better."
She pauses there, lifting a hand to run through her hair as she considers that image upon her door further. "I always called her the Weeping Woman. That lady. I never knew anything about ... American and Mexican myths, or their basis in ancient Lamia? And yet ... I do not feel like it is a coincidence." Her gaze lowers to the floor, and she shakes her head slowly. "I have not really seen anyone else. I haven't come out of her room. Nikki -- Christine? Star, I guess, she is calling herself now, came to visit me. She seems to have brushed off the Carnival pretty easily." A pause, and then there's a bitter addition of, "But then, she wasn't a child murderer."
"I'm not so sure the pretending was any better," the Melancholic hedges with a distinct frown as he considers their conversation. "But maybe there's something to be said for accepting the inevitability of tragedy and just focusing on the enjoyment that's right in front of you," he muses ponderously, head tilting a fraction to the side as he weighs the merits with noncommittal skepticism.
At the mention of another's ease of handling the experience, there's a naked look of both envy and disdain on the Melancholic's face, which is quickly enough shattered to pieces by the wince that contorts not just his face, but his entire body, at the mention of child murder. "That wasn't your fault," he declares in recollection of their previous lives. "If..." he trails off with uncertainty. "If it even really happened. I know it feels like it did, but did it? Did it really?" he wonders. "I still--" he silences himself with a frown and a deep swallow, having trouble coming out with his thought, struggling to say the words aloud. "I still have nightmares about what I did to f-- Jack, sometimes."
"Perhaps it wasn't any better." Penitent allows thoughtfully, "But I've always felt somewhat comfortable here. Like I belong. But these burdens continue to just weigh down on me. I carry five people's troubles around with me now." She glances back at him, considering with a tired expression there on her face, a slight frown creasing her lips. "And here there was no trouble, no violence or horror waiting for us. Just warmth and comfort and entertainment."
There's an attempt at a smile at the attempted declaration of reassurance. "I am not sure it matters. As you said, it felt real. Nikki is sticking to that line. That it wasn't real. That we're just method actors and it doesn't matter, once we move on. I do not know how she does it so easily, but I guess she also hasn't had the guilt that I've had to carry every time. I think it's what I'm for."
She reaches out then, at that admission, a hand moving for Melancholic's shoulder, her own attempt at reassurance. "I don't see how that's your fault no matter which way you look at it." She says quietly. "But I understand."
At the mention of Penitent's five burdens, what color remains drains from Melancholic's face. "I don't like it here," he admits for his own part, turning to peer up and down the hall uncomfortably. "It feels like a prison, with nothing to do but wait, and remember, and regret, and suffer," he opines with a grimacing glance at the door from which he'd emerged. "The violence and horror may not be here waiting for us, but it's far from gone," his hand lifts, forefinger tapping at his temple.
His eyes start to water, dewy beads collecting at his lids but not quite reaching the volume necessary for them to fall before he sucks down a lungful of air and then breathes out with a shudder. "I don't think she's the type to carry the guilt, if she's got a reason to have any. Maybe it's better that way. Finding a way to forget about what we've been through, or to wash our hands of what we've done. Even if it's self-delusion, maybe it's healthier than being honest with ourselves," he supposes.
After a noisome sniffle, Melancholic repeats a word that Penitent had spoken earlier, "Entertainment." His lips purse in contemplation. "How do you keep entertained? Warm? Comfortable?" he asks, evidently unfamiliar with all three.
"It does feel like a prison," Penitent agrees with a slow nod, brows lifting up as she hesitantly offers, "That's why I find it comforting. I feel like I deserve such a fate," this is offered quietly, and she glances away, clearly with an expectation of the sort of reaction that statement might bring. Her hand remains on his shoulder, however, and she watches him with a worried gaze again. "I'm going to hug you now," she announces, before stepping closer to do that, to wrap both arms around him. "She's not the type to carry it, I suppose," she agrees quietly. "But I can't shake it. I've always felt like I've done something horrible. And I called my little image the same name as my carnival self. I think she might be who I really am." A soft sigh, and then a slight step back again.
"With people to talk to, books to read and even with the magic rooms able to take us anywhere, there's plenty to do. Though some would say it's just as pointless as anything else ... Maybe it's all just a distraction. I couldn't say."
Shadows gather, returning old paths to darkness.
"Y--" the Melancholic starts to respond to Penitent's shouldering of guilt, before promptly cutting himself off with a bite to his lower lip as he watches her look away. Instead his hand rises to his shoulder, settling atop hers in an offer of comfort only to slip away as she steps in to embrace him.
Melancholic's arms fold around Penitent, holding her close for a while as his head settles over hers. "Nobody deserves this," he finally decides upon his retort while he holds her, though there's a twitch in his brow before he qualifies: "At least, not anybody who cares enough to feel guilty about what they've done -- what they might have done." His arms start to loosen, and his gaze settles on the graphic on Penitent's door, then slowly turns back towards his own.
"Maybe she is," he concedes. "Maybe we're both meant to be sad," he admits with a sigh. "But distraction... that might be welcome. I think that's what I learned, this time."
There's a pause. A long one. Then he adds: "Well. That, and the profound comfort of lounging around in a bathrobe."
"I'm starting to agree," Penitent murmurs on if she may be deserving of this fate or not. "With everyone I've been, it's hard to imagine that this continued onslaught of guilt is really necessary for whatever I've done. Though, if I truly spent lifetimes as La Llorona, maybe it is a deserving fate. I don't know. I don't feel like an all-powerful demoness anymore. I'm just me again."
She follows his gaze towards his own door, licking her lips a moment. "Maybe we are just here to be sad, but that kind of sucks. Look at Roxie's door. She's here to be adored by people or something. Hardly seems fair." There's a small sort of smile. "I don't think I really learned anything. But you were very good at lounging around in that bath robe." She does attempt a small laugh, though it falls a little flat and ends up something of a sigh.
"Typically I've just used the rooms to go to places where I was the happiest. Not that any of my, uh, 'lives', have been especially happy, there's definitely been some moments."
"Happy," the Melancholic echoes after Penitent as though the word were alien to him. "I... don't think I've had that," he confesses. His lips crease in a brief frown, and then he relents. "I guess... Jonah was. When we made it to New Orleans. Then I -- he -- died," he mentions with a narrowing of his brows. "I'm not sure I'd care to relive that."
Slowly, his head turns, swiveling his dark-eyed gaze curiously back onto Penitent, rather than her weeping image rendered unto the door. "Where was the best place you've been? The most beautiful?" he wonders. "Even when we're miserable, it seems there's at least some beauty to appreciate along the way," he opines. "I've heard there was an island. It sounded nice. And awful."
Shifting uncomfortably, one of his arms lifts to present his forearm to the other hand for a clumsy scratching. "I miss the opium," he abruptly declares.
"Yeah. It's hard for some people. Going back to Prosperity is ... easier for me. Anette was the best version of me I've known." Penny offers with sorrow clear in her voice. "And maybe made the hardest choices and was somehow the happiest I've been. But no one seems willing to return there with me. I can't blame them for it, really." Shifting a little, her hand sliding into the pockets of her pants, her shoulders lift in a small shrug.
"The island was pretty nice. All tropical and beaches but I never really got to enjoy it, unfortunately. Being the person running the whole event ... there were problems from the very start." Glancing up, she gives him a considering look. "And the Eager Beaver was pretty nice, too. But I think the best place was the view from the Twin Star Observatory on the Noc. One of the best star views, up on that space station."
There's another small smile as she glances down the hallway. "I know the dispensers have never given out anything like that, but I think you could get whatever you like through those doors."
Quiet, the Melancholic listens as the Penitent describes some of the places from their pasts. There's a gleam in his eye at her description of the tropical island with its beaches, followed thereafter by a skeptical squint turned her way at her description of the Eager Beaver -- evidently, he'd thought it far from 'pretty nice'. But at the mention of the observatory, star view, and space station, he simply grows flummoxed. Then disbelieving. Then awestruck.
"You've... you've been in space?" the man asks incredulously, a hint of suspicion lingering in his gaze and lips pursing together as if still half-convinced she's jesting. "That must have been wonderful," he decides, when he finally seems to swallow the pill and accept the revelation as fact. "And terrifying."
"I've gotten cigarettes from them," Melancholic allows as his gaze swivels down the hallway to follow Penitent's. "Are those the... magic rooms?"
"Yeah. Before Prosperity we were in space," Penny says with something more like her old self, an actual touch of amusement there at his reaction to the whole thing. "It wasn't especially wonderful or terrifying -- I mean we were being hunted down by parasitic alien things, sure -- but you know it was 2149 and I'd been in space for like, most of my life. Kylie was pretty fun." The smile falters a little though, and she nods. "But I guess it was just all ... pretty normal, until it wasn't. Like usual?" She pauses there, looking thoughtful for a moment before gesturing slightly.
"We need a better name than magic door, I guess. But yeah, they're just out in the parlour. Those doors weren't even here the first time I woke up here. They didn't do anything at all until after Prosperity. And whatever you want to be on the other side of them is there. And I just keep using them to go back to places I've already been. I'm not sure if they're a blessing to help us or just another way to torment us."
There's a perplexed, glassy-eyed look on the Melancholic's face as the Penitent describes her time in space, each new detail causing a confused rictus of twitches in the man's dark brows. "Parasitic. Alien. Things," he repeats after her, as though being taken for a ride.
Eventually, though, he manages to accept it all with a sigh and his attention turns back onto the doors. "Have you tried going somewhere... new?" he wonders, frowning faintly as he considers them. "I guess I could go back to my tent... the rest..." he trails off, then shakes his head. "In Prosperity I -- Jonah -- had consumption. Jonathan... not really something I want to revisit."
"Let's try somewhere you haven't been before, the next time we meet?" the Melancholic recommends. "If either of us spend enough time outside of our prison cells to manage it."
"Well." Penny glances down at her feet again. "Yeah. Parasitic alien things. It's still this awful place and there's still gotta be something awful happening to us, right? Shit man, I don't know, I just lived it." Her eyes widen a little and she nods gravely. "Is it any crazier than actual demons demanding a blood debt, or killer ghosts returning to hunt us down?"
"I have ... only gone to other places when other people took me there. Just small things, like a theater. We can try to go somewhere new, if you want. I ... don't really know where to go though. I don't particularly seem to 'want' much for myself out there, you know? Just to return to moments, I guess. Which is probably not the best way to live."
"Have you ever been to Paris?" the Melancholic wonders of Penitent, managing to muster a minute, bittersweet smile. "That was where Jonathan and some of the others went, after we escaped Eager Beaver," he explains. "Before he k--" he starts to finish his thought then shakes his head in dismissal of the idea as that smile disappears. "It was... nice..." he claims unconvincingly.
"But you're right, I think. There's not much to be gained from living in the past. Or worrying about the future," he accedes with a sigh. "Not that I expect to change much. We... we don't really change, do we? It's different. But it's the same."
That thought brings a contemplative purse to his lips and a gloomy furrow to his brows and the Melancholic steps forward to renew his embrace of the Penitent. "I... I think I need to lay down, again. I'll see you soon. Or come knocking," he promises, before breaking away to return to his room.