Log:Matters of Concern
The Caregiver, last known to the Competitor as Laine, she looks the same, but not quite. Because while Laine really never had the circumstances at the Lodge to play dress up, beyond the stage at the first party and a private date with Joshua/Christian for coping and distraction, she was always dressed generally simple pretty or for efficiency. In here, though, she's a radiant little wonder of togetherness and designer style, like she's dressing to presentation form. With her hair longer, it's curled to sleek tumbles of glossy spill and care, and she sits reading, eating and drinking at a table.
She's reading The Phantom of the Opera and seems to be almost finished with it, she's drinking a cup of warm cinnamon apple cider instead of the brandy she was at last time out, and she's wearing a strapless little peach dress with fitted bust and draped crinoline crinkle fall that seems to go to mid-thigh where legs are crossed. It's probably expensive if such matters were a thing here, just like her strappy designer heels.. Her fine features are accented to almost doll-like levels with sweep of eyeliner and accompanying makeup, but it's more decoration and flair of style than a true paint job-- her skin is its own hale flush without the pallor of injury, stress, or fatigue that was common on her at the Lodge, and sometimes at home in that lonely healing time afterwards.
As she sits reading, though she seems quiet and calm and prettily together to picture perfect, one of her hands is lifted to absently knead at tension in the bared curve of neck and shoulder, unwitting tick.
Competitor wanders into the dining room humming one of those tunes from the old radio. She seems to have quite taken to them...though they're obviously not as good as George Michael. Where once she had deep black hair, she is now brunette, and looking slightly older. Her clothes are also designer; though of the gymwear type (leotard, leg-warmers, sweatbands). Competitor has taken to doing aerobics. A lot.
"Laine?" she asks, her curious look quickly becoming a warm smile. "Oh gosh! So wonderful to see you again. You look...fabulous. If I wasn't already gay, you would have turned me" she giggles before moving to hug the former sorority girl. "Where have you been hiding?" Competitor finds a seat opposite. "Phantom of the Opera. In the original French? I guess this..." A wave of a hand to the Facility around them. "...is not new to you."
"Oh, Christine. I'd been hoping to run into you to see how you were faring and adjusting." The Caregiver breathes out with look up from her book before she flips it closed. And honestly, the way she is in this place, she takes the hug with gusto without even really fully settling up who it is at first, because if someone needs or wants a hug here, they're generally going to damn well get it, without the cautious reserve that came with Laine sometimes. It seems reflex, but then, she knows this woman well enough, so it's easy for her to cling with squeeze and a half-laugh at the commentary.
"Tch, I did enough French homework trying to distract myself in Paris in the name of flawless fluency on principle. This is English as hell so I don't have to think while reading." Her chin tips a little and she seems to be amused a touch through all that rich warmth that just floods off of her in the Facility when she's turned that way to feel. And though her eyes were always expressive, everything is written on her face and posture here too, adjusting for that spill of warmth, "You look to be taking out stress Jane Fonda style, good on you." And even though they just hugged, her hand is reaching across the table in short order to reach for a warm squeeze on the Competitor's hand once the other woman is settled.
Then her eyes flit around for a beat, and she curiously asks a question, because Christine as she knew her had an explanation for everything. So she's wondering, now, what this woman makes of the less-deadly, but just as jarring unreal circumstances, "What is it you make of this place?"
"I was going to say that I loved the time Emily and I spent with you in Paris, but, you know, did it really happen?" Christine laughs before returning the squeeze of her hand. "I feel it happened and that's good enough for me." She glances down at her outfit, and the glisten of perspiration on her exposed skin, before nodding. "I have gone so Jane Fonda I feel like Henry Fonda afterwards" she winks. "But then people tell me that we reset every night anyway. Does it matter?"
That last question is a doozy and it causes Competitor to take a deep breath as so many thoughts buzz around in her head. "There have been some interesting discussions about the reality of this place, that's for sure" she nods solemnly. "I'm...adjusting. Thinks are obviously different in some very important respects beyond being in a high-class prison. Emily...I can't even call her Emily anymore. I call her Nettie now. She has so many lives and so many relationships from those lives that we couldn't continue as we were. Which was a shock, me with my one life. But we're figuring it out. We..." A little blush. "...spend time together. She showed me the Noc and she's going to show me Prosperity soon. I can't even begin to comprehend what she goes through every day. I can just be there for her." A little laugh. "But you want to know about this place."
Competitor slowly pulls off the sweatbands on her wrists. "We seem to be an experiment. We all seem to be related to the images on our doors, though I have wondered if we naturally match them, or were made to match them. We go to 'stories', where the setting is given us, but anything that happens after that, there is some 'free' will. Why run an experiment if you program all the reactions first? Program the setting, sure, but not the results. With what happened to Max, I don't even think we can swear that our bodies are real anymore, or just another program to copy minds into." A glance down at her chest. "My programmer likes big boobs. Might be the same one who did Max's new body."
There's a small smile that's vaguely sad as the words 'real' and 'reality' come up for discussion and rumination on the Competitor's part, as requested by the Caregiver, possibly unwitting, because she's awful at having a poker face in here most of the time, made of cares and feelings like she is. And since she asked, she listens without interruption or commentary until the very end, "When you say programmer, do you mean to say that we are computers made for a simulation?" Her pair of lifetimes aren't too technologically advanced, in truth, compared to some of the others, beyond exposure to this place. So while she looks a little disturbed by the concept of it, it's a passing thing, because suddenly she's asking, "Wait. What happened with Max?"
She hasn't been out in public too much while adjusting, so whatever happened, it comes with a curious bat of lashes to match the inquiry, utterly clueless.
"Probably robots" Competitor shrugs. "Or made in vats or something." She's from the late 80s herself but there was some crazy stuff in those sci-fi shows and movies back then. Everything seemed possible. "But that's the thing, even if we are 'made', our minds could be our own. I /look/ like Christine, a lot like her, and hers is the only life I remember, but I'm aware that she is not all of me. What is the rest? No idea. So, if they make bodies for us for each story, it is still /us/ that gets copied in there - albeit altered by setting program and made to forget everything else."
"Whatever is going on, I will beat it. They made a mistake making me the person I am" Competitor winks across the table before looking surprised she hasn't heard about Max. "Oh, I'm sorry. Max was depressed. She didn't like who she was so she tried to end it all by getting, I think it was Ethan, to kill her. In a way, it did end one life and began another. Not a total reset. She still has Max's memories and acts like her but not as...badly? She seems more at peace." A pause. "Oh, and she's now also a voluptuous black woman."
The Caregiver doesn't -like- the idea of being a robot now that she knows what one is in concept moreso than she did with turn of the century knowledge the first Facility go around, but she certainly doesn't have much in the way of answers. Despite the kind of wincing look on her face at the possibility, she admits, "It... would be one possibility, logically, yes. Especially when you consider we're getting recycled in and out of lifetimes like plants. But the way things work in here seem to be more... intuitive than computer logic might allow, at the same time. But then, I haven't had any lives that had future tech in them, either, like some of the others."
She also doesn't seem to like where the Competitor is going with this tale about the Creepshow, but she understands it enough and isn't too surprised given what she's heard and seen from the little female in this place and in lives. At least until she hits the part about Max now being a black woman with big tits! Widening her eyes, the Caregiver settles back against her chair and pulls some of her curled hair over a shoulder to play fingers through with slow and busy fidget, "... she woke up that way when her body put itself back together during the... cycle reset?"
Competitor shakes her head about the reset affecting Max. "No, that's the thing. It was entirely new. Nettie was there and told me that there was a big flash of light and Max was gone and Wendy was there. Wendy is her new name. No one had seen the like before." Then a nod about Laine's earlier comments about being robots. "That's the thing though. We /are/ intuitive humans and we've been put into programmed settings, perhaps even constructed bodies, to see how we react to the situation. To what end?" She points upwards. "You'd have to ask the Watchers."
"Whatever tech they are using is so advanced that it looks like magic to us. Arthur C. Clarke had the same thought. But I still believe that what makes us human is still here and is important to what we are being asked to do." Competitor's nose wrinkles. "Does that make sense? Even if that humanity is copied around, it is necessary. If you think about it, 'they' saw how bad Max was and 'fixed' her so she could continue being of use. They may even care for us in that sense."
"I-- well then. Good gracious, I'm not sure what to think or feel about that. It's one thing to be... reset by self-imposed drastic action, it's another thing entirely to be shifted in appearance on the spot by it as a result. That... I almost had an accident myself, while upset, and it spooks me to think I might have changed myself into someone that doesn't -look- like me unwittingly, as a result. Is she..." There's a few more quick bats of the Caregivers lashes in baffled response to the Competitor's explanation, because as strange as this place is, that's new and disconcerting, and it's clear on her. Her hand pauses in her hair before one hand falls to her lap and the other reaches for the mug of now-cooled cider next to her little biscotti plate set out with it. Most of those are untouched.
After drinking, she knits her brows and sighs a little before wondering in full, "I was going to ask if she was okay, but that's quite a change she wasn't expecting herself, I imagine. Did it set her off more or... does she seem oddly sated by it?"
"It's okay, Laine. Don't be frightened. Max /wanted/ this. Maybe even /needed/ it. It's not going to happen without you wanting it to happen" Competitor tries to assure the other woman. Does she have any proof for her words? None at all but that doesn't mean they're not right. "And, yes, Max...Wendy...is a lot happier now. Well, as happy as she gets. Do you know she has blood on the floor of her room? Like, all the time? As a decoration. It was a good thing for /her/ but I wouldn't want to change either."
"I don't know what's apt to happen or what isn't. I'm just glad... it didn't, I guess. Even if it seems to... sate -her- in some way. I haven't told anyone, especially since I woke this time so... roughly, adjusting to both Eilis and Laine inside me at odds... but I got drunk in the bath the cycle before last, right before the reset happened. And I bled myself with my broken glass to try and..." The Caregiver pulls in a huge breath, because suddenly she realizes what it sounds like aloud, as a confession to the Competitor across the table. And even though she's still not visibly distressed, exactly, there's a creep of guilty unease about it on her features while she tries to explain it.
Wetting her lips, the brunette looks down into her cider while speaking quietly, "My first life, I lived through everything, the demons, the banishings, the terrible that came after when I had to take care of Pierce, my husband, as a shell. He had drugged me before the final battle, with Cillian's help and laudanum to ensure I stayed safe and asleep and to ensure... he would be able to sacrifice himself. My life after wasn't pleasant, but I was pregnant with twin boys. Eilis believed that was how her and Pierce won together with the family curses broken, in the end, knowing those boys would be free. And...she bled out birthing them, at peace and ready to die."
There's a pause, "I had their smell only, mostly, the first time in here. This time it's gone. I thought, drunkenly, while upset about other things, that maybe I could get that one sweet memory back if I was bleeding out and woozy to spur it. I wasn't -trying- to kill myself, but I think I went too far with it and the reset may have been the thing that prevented it happening, in the end. So if I had... mrm."
Explains why she's spooked by the body changing thing after death in the middle of all other weirdnesses. Eventually her eyes lift back up and her shoulders shrug a bit helplessly across the way with a tiny smile at who she remembers as Christine, the expression genuine despite subject matter, "Worked out for the better, though, spooking myself like that." Her eyes catch for a moment on the others moving into one of the Anywhere doors from a distance, though, after they lift, and she squints a bit after invitation is loosely made their way as well.
"You want to see what they're doing in there instead of talking about weird and depressing things?"
Competitor is learning that many of the most horrific stories in this place occur here, rather than in the stories. She listens intently, offering that hand again. "I can't hope to understand. Not yet at least." Does she really want to have multiple terrible lives so she /can/ understand? It seems she is sincere. "But I am here if you need anyone to talk to. /That/ is not the answer. It never is." It sure sounds like a suicide attempt, no matter how Laine tries to explain it to herself.
Competitor looks over at those disappearing into the room before nodding to Laine. "Sure, we can do that." It may help Caregiver feel better. "Oh, what do I call you here? I'm trying out Star. Hokey I know." As she stands she glances down at her clothes once more. "Am I dressed...oh...that's right...it does its own clothes."
"You can still call me Laine or whatever is comfortable. I answer comfortably to any of my names and I don't feel the need to make up a new one... because I'm still every bit who I've been. And though I have a feeling and sense of who I am here, at the core, it's not so very different. I make them, they make me. If I name myself in this life, it means I'm someone else entirely. And I'm not, in my eyes. Others cope differently, though. And Star is pretty. Speaking of the stars, I wonder..." The Caregiver rises up into a stand after taking the squeeze of hand from across the table to return squeeze on with assurances, squaring off her shoulders with some inner mettle before rising, "If that's what they're going to see. Let's go have a looksie."