Log:Rude Awakening

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Rude Awakening
Characters  •   The Soldier  •  The Scholar  •  The Creepshow  •  The Martyr  •  The Addict  •  The Confidant  •
Location  •  The Facility - Parlor
Date  •  2019-02-28
Summary  •  The Soldier's first awakening is less than easy; the Addict's, somewhat more so.

From the direction of the parlor drifts the sound of a piano; the Scholar is seated at the baby grand, playing a Chopin Nocturne. The TV behind him is muted, and no one else is present. Here in the Facility he's the same age as Bastian Roen was at the Lodge, with one key difference: his hair is considerably longer, revealing it to be an unruly mass of black curls. (No wonder Bastian kept it short.) The tell-tale white streak remains, much more prominent with all that extra hair.

He's dressed a little like Bastian would, at least, in a dark green waffle Henley and denim jeans, and hiking shoes. There's a crystal tumbler on the piano with a finger of something clear in it.


From somewhere down the hall of rooms a door swings open, then forcefully slams shut. All is silent for some moments save for the music that drifts down the corridor. Then, there is a patter of footsteps, soft but urgent. The sound initially fades as they head further down the long hall. Then they backtrack, whoever it is. The footfalls are soft but brisk, buoyed by a sense of urgency. They round the corner hunting the source of this music--and suddenly come to a halt, face to face with...

"Roen?" The Soldier frowns, looking almost offended in her confusion. She is virtually the same age as when she was the head of security at Eager Beaver, but her hair falls to her chest now, and is black and straight and tidy where it was once sun-bleached and split-ended with indifference. She looks pale, though. Her eyes are puffed and injected, and her hands clenched into fists. Clearly, this was not an easy awakening.


The Scholar half-turns in response to hearing his recent name, still playing. When he recognizes the speaker as someone Bastian knew yet someone the Scholar hasn't seen before in this place, he stops and stares. Fingers poised over the keys, he says, "Cassandra." Shock gives way to realization, realization to regret. He pulls his hands back, eases off the bench to stand. He doesn't, however, approach her just yet. "You're here with us, then." He swallows. "I--" He risks a glance at the TV, looks back at her. He gives her a more thorough once over, taking in her eyes. "You died, then," he says, tone indicating it's more guess that statement.


The Soldier had recognized that streak of white and the build of his shoulders. They'd known each other for two years working at the Lodge, and that was enough time to learn who someone was simply by the sound of their steps, and certainly by the silhouette of their figure. But it had been an improbable guess when she said his name aloud, because she knew Bastian Roen was dead. He had burned in the wreckage of Lakeview. Of course, she knew that she was dead, too--despite feeling very much alive. She had felt alive when she awoke in the dark quietly crying, muscles burning from the phantom pain of her circumstances in death. And she had felt alive when she had promptly rolled over and dry-heaved spittle and clear liquid onto the floor of her room.

So when The Scholar turns around to meet her gaze, she has no idea what to make of the man in front of her. She is barefoot, dressed in blue running shorts and a black tank top. "Mahoney, he... I..." She can't bring herself to say the words and acknowledge what makes no sense at all. "He-- What... What the fuck are you--?" No complete sentences for her. The Soldier visibly shudders and begins to double over, looking acutely ill.


The Scholar leaves off pretenses of not getting into the Soldier's personal space when she doubles over. At least she knows who he is, so maybe it's acceptable for him to approach her, insane circumstances or not. "I'm sorry, I know this has to be difficult." His voice is low and careful, a tone Bastian used quite a bit, yet it's much less detached than his always was. The Scholar reaches out, hand hovering just short of the Soldier's arm. "Come, let's sit on the couch. I'll tell you what I know. Which," a weak, apologetic smile, "isn't a lot, but then none of us really know much about this place. I can get you a drink, if you think it'll help."


There's a full, wet heave of nausea that The Soldier attempts to muffle with a hand. The other is splayed against the wall, having reached out just in time to stop her from falling to her knees. She's very quiet, here eyes trained on the floor, as The Scholar does his best to calm her frayed nerves. Finally she manages to straighten up, and she really takes a look at him now that he is standing in front of her--taking in his mismatched eyes and unruly mop of hair and his gentle demeanor. There's a sudden flash of anger, pale as she is.

She viciously slaps his hand away and backs up a step. "Get the hell away from me. You're not him." The Soldier reaches for her waist in the same practiced motion that Cassandra always used when she reached for her gun--except there's nothing there.


The Martyr emerges from the hall, eyes red rimmed and face a little puffy from crying. he is carrying a tissue box. is wearing a purple and black striped silk shirt and black parachute pants with purple high top sneakers. 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 is still very thin, he is wiry with it instead of borderline emaciated.

His eyes go wide on seeing cassandra, "You made it! I'm so glad!" He gives Bastian a questioning look.


The Scholar makes no attempt to follow the Soldier when she steps back, accepting the strike at his hand for an appropriate response. Well, Cassandra had been military, after all. Carefully, he says, "You're wrong, but for the right reason. I am the man who was Einar Sebastian Roen. But, I've also been someone else, before." He glances around them, makes a face. "This isn't my first time waking up here after dying."

He looks askance at the Martyr as he comes into the parlor, smiles faintly in a greeting. "She's only just woken up," he says. His tone makes it a warning. He considers the soldier again, bites his lip. "Ask me anything you need to, that only he would know--I'll be able to answer it." He pauses, admits, "I don't have the grenade scars, though. Those didn't stick."


The Soldier looks taken aback when her hand closes around thin air instead of metal, and her eyes dart around their (very calm, very quiet) surroundings with the look of someone waiting to be ambushed. But she recognizes the full name that Bastian--well, the man who looks like Bastian--supplies it, Einar and all, having dug through his records a few months into starting her job at the Lodge. Open confusion slowly begins to seep back through her mask of apprehension."What do you mean, someone..."

Cassandra whips around pressing her back to the wall, visibly spooked when The Martyr emerges behind her. He gets a long look as well, and she takes quite a bit longer to put two and two together. She only ever saw Finn in suits and practical clothes, not like this. "You are..." Finn's name dies on her lips. She looks back to Bastian for the moment, wide eyed as Finn. Sorry to say, she's nowhere near as enthusiastic as The Martyr is in their present scenario.

"Bastian served in Vietnam. Was he decorated?" she asks stiffly.


The Martyr nods to Bastian, then turns to The Soldier, body language as no threatening as he can make it. He sets down the tissue box, so he can stand empty handed. He doesn't aproach her. His tone is calm and sympathetic, "It's my first time too. And you're right we aren't quite us. I completely lost it for a while when I realized I wasn't really me. It was like the ground was constantly shifting under me, but there is solid ground to find. Finn is inside me. Cassandra is inside you. Bastian is definately inside this Bastian. We are just... a little bit more and that makes a difference. I have found that when I looked deep enough there were things at my center that haven't changed. The most important things of all are still there at my core.


Without hesitation, the Scholar answers, "Silver Star and a Purple Heart." He looks askance at the Martyr, nods, continues, "The former for saving several river boat crews from an ambush, and the later for a severe injury from a frag grenade. It took extensive surgery to restore his," he pauses, ducks his head, "my, hearing. And I had vertigo spells for the rest of my life." His mouth twitches in an almost-smile. "I almost fell off the dock into the lake from one of those. Ethan watched me like a hawk after that."

He considers the floor a moment, then the Soldier. "Cassandra was from San Francisco," he says, "and she regretted that there wasn't a decent Chinatown to be found in Oregon." He raises his eyebrows; it was one of their first real conversations, so she might not even remember it.

"As he says, we're not just those people from the Lodge. But we are them. Or, were. Depending on how you want to look at it," he cuts a glance at the Martyr, "because there's really no right way. Just the way that helps you come to terms with it."


The Soldier has a hard time following The Martyr and it shows in the way she peers at him, frowning and lips parted. "I am Cassandra," she states forcefully after a moment, perhaps thinking The Martyr a bit daft for saying that she is inside herself. Of course she is inside herself. She is herself, even if she's not sure that the people standing in front of her are real at all. (There's even the thought that perhaps she's in some apocalyptic nightmare. The counter-ritual failed, Dagon conquered the earth, and everyone is in their own personal hell. This would be her hell, surrounded by people who had died in front of her whom she was helpless to save.) "I'm--" But something feels wrong even as she finishes saying her full name. "Cassandra... Wei." That's odd, her face reads.

The defensive fight in her slowly dissipates as Bastian gives the correct answer to her question, and then some more. Her gaze softens and her fists uncurl. "Okay," she whispers, her voice cracking. "Okay." The Soldier slides down the wall to sit, burying her face in her hands as she takes everything in. "You're alive. Both of you."


The Martyr looks at Bastian as he recounts, expression hard to read. His eyebrows go up at the comment about Chinatowns, "The one in Portland has decent food. At least I thought it did." He nods, then turns back to the Soldier, "I'm calling myself Dare now." He adds hastily, "It's not a rejection of Finn. I loved being Finn so much." A haunted look flits across his face, but is gone, "And I really am mostly Finn, but I'm also clearly not in some areas and calling myself by that name felt like lying."

He winces as she slides, "Do you want a drink? Or pie? Or... I don't know."


With a wry smile, the Scholar says to the Martyr, "We're not Chinese." Still keeping that distance between himself and the Soldier, he follows suit, sinking into a crouch. Folding his hands on his knees, he says, "There's a number of us here. You'll recognize most of them from the Lodge. Guests and staff. Lyle, Max..." He stops short of listing Ethan and Colorado, as they're still alive. And the others, of course, he's never seen here before, so they might not appear. "We don't really know what," he glances around them, "all of this is. We just know that we live these lives--sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a year or more--and then, at some point, we die, or the life stops, and we wake up here."

He pauses there to let her think that over, considers the Martyr's offer. "Yes, how about," he surveys the Soldier, considers her earlier nauseated expression, "some ginger ale, and maybe bourbon. Nothing to eat, yet." A lift of his eyebrows at the Soldier to ask her if those sound like reasonable possibilities.


"Then I guess I actually have certain standards," The Soldier snaps in a juvenile way when The Martyr offers his input, her knees curled up to her chest. She doesn't comment on the rest of his words. It's clear she's listening though, as she minutely shakes her head when he offers some food. "Everything hurts," she replies, more reasonably this time. "It hurts to breathe."

She finally raises her head when Bastian mentions Lyle. Max, she never really knew. But Lyle? "...He's here too?" Her face suddenly crumples and she presses her forehead into the heels of her hands, as if doing so will stop the tears from welling up. Trying to blink them back only causes them to spill over, however.

"Uh..." Her voice is calm, if only just above a whisper. She's trying to stop herself from breaking up. "Ginger ale." After a pause she adds, "Please." There's a tacit agreement in her avoidance of food.


The Martyr makes an expression that implies 'fair enough,' and goes to get a tray with three glasses, ginger ale, and Maker's Mark. "Kim, Misty, and Roxie are here. Lyle looks really different though. It gave me a bit of a turn." He sits crosslegged in the spot where he was standing, no closer and slides the tray into the middle of their triangle.


A wince for the Soldier's reaction to Finn, though the Scholar says nothing about that. He nods at the Martyr, adds, "Ethan and Colorado should join us, once...things are finished. I've known Emily before as well, and Laine and Christian." His mismatched eyes flit down to the tray for a moment, and a troubled expression flits over his features, there and gone in an instant. He clears his throat, regards the Soldier again.

"I'm sorry, I know this doesn't make any sense." He sounds a little more like Bastian just now. "The good news is, you're not alone. Most of us have woken up here, confused, in pain, terrified. The bad news is...we don't actually know what's going on. Not really. We have ideas, theories, but..." He shrugs.


By the time The Martyr makes it back with the tray she has regained some of her composure. This renewed bout of tears hasn't helped her bloodshot eyes, but she's at least opened up her posture to formerly-Finn and formerly-Bastian. "Thanks, O'Neill. I mean--" The Soldier ducks her head and corrects herself. "Dare."

Whatever troubles Bastian she doesn't know or notice. She slowly pours the Maker's Mark into two of the three glasses before taking the ginger ale for herself. She doesn't drink from it yet, hunching over it like an animal guarding its kill.

"That's not very reassuring," she comments quietly to The Scholar. After a pause she simply observes, "I don't even... I don't think my name is Cassandra. But I don't know who else I'd be. Do you even know where we are?" She isn't ready to delve into the idea of lives, multiple, yet. That's too much.


From the flick of Finn's eyes and something about the way his shoulders shift, some of Bastian's information about who has been here before is new to him and a bit of a relief. He nudges the tissue bx forward as well, just in case. he gives The soldier an encouraging smile, "It's all right. It takes practice. I'm still getting used to it. I picked Dare for myself; I'll see if it fits. The new guy picked Boots." To Bastian he adds, "There's a new guy. Sign of the Tsunami warning and guy with a surf board. It fits." He reaches for a glass, and takes a sip, watching bastian out of the corner of his eye, clearly trying to work something out. He gives The Soldier a sheepish smile, "I'm as new as you are. All I have are questions really."


The Scholar settles back so he's no longer crouching, but properly sitting on the floor. He murmurs a thank you, first to the Martyr for the tray, then to the Soldier for pouring the drinks. He sips the bourbon. "Another one," he says, considering his drink. "We had some last time too, ones who'd never been in one of these...whatever they are. Roxie was one. And one of the students." He squints, tries to summon a name, shrugs when he fails to. "Sometimes new people emerge. And sometimes, people we knew in there don't come back." He looks uncomfortable again, chases it away with a drink.

He shifts to the subject of the Soldier's name, draping his wrists over his knees. "It's your name if you want it to be. You were Cassandra in that life, you've a right to that name." He starts to say something else, seems to think better of it, and instead answers her other question. "We don't," he admits. "We just know it's a place we wind up in, either after we die, or after the life we're experiencing ends."


The Soldier glances to The Martyr and gives a small nod at his smile and reassurance. "I'm glad you're getting by, Finn. Dare." It's an earnest remark, softly spoken. She still looks like she's about a single wayward breeze away from losing it, but there's a certain resignation in her eyes as she speaks with these people who are at once familiar and unfamiliar.

Bastian's words come real close to being that wayward breeze, though. She peers at him for a long moment, then to Finn as if looking for confirmation of, What did he just say? Some people don't come back and none of youactually know where this is? "Don't you go outside?" She asks it like it's an obvious question to the both of them, making to stand up.


The Martyr nods, "I admit I am selfish enough to want the people I knew best back." He takes another sip, cautiously Finnlike, Dare or not.


The Scholar gives the Martyr a wry, if also sympathetic, smile. He can relate. As the Soldier starts to get up he reaches out a hand, nowhere near close enough to touch, merely in a gesture that she should wait. "There's no way out. People have been looking since," he pauses, reconsiders how he was going to phrase it, "for a long time. Whatever you'd want to eat or drink you can get--anything--and we each have our own room and bathroom, but we're trapped here." A soft sigh, and he sips from his bourbon. "Lyle calls it a prison. I don't think he's really that far off."


"That's called being a person, don't you think?" The Soldier says to The Martyr. It's hardly a claim that she can back up with experience in the Facility, but perhaps she speaks as Cassandra.

She pauses when The Scholar reaches out to slow her down. "What?" She frowns, not quite believing her ears. Then she stands up anyway. She needs to see this for herself. The Soldier bumps past his hand, stepping over the tray as she makes a circuit around the windowless parlor, opening the two doors that lead to 'anywhere'. To her, from what can be seen, they open up as empty spare rooms. She pulls the doors shut. Then she disappears into the dining room. It's not long until she re-emerges to stare at the two men. She's looking for answers that they don't have. "You're kidding me."

The Soldier abruptly sets off down the corridor. A door opens, shuts. And a few seconds pass before an explosive, if muffled, crack of shattering glass can be heard through the not-entirely-soundproofed door to her room.


The Martyr winces at the slamming of the door and the storming off, then gives Bastoan a sheepish look, "That could have gone better, but it could have gone a lot worse." He runs his hand through the longer hair up top, a very Finn-ish guesture. "I'm sorry about the other night, Bastian. I think I said a lot of things I shouldn't have."


The Scholar watches the Soldier as she makes her circuit checking the rooms, licks his lips when she has what Bastian would have considered an entirely reasonable reaction. He sighs, rubs at his forehead. He slips back into sounding less like Bastian, more like a professor of some sort. "I don't know that it could have gone better. If Bastian had been my first life, I think he'd have behaved much the same."

He has a drink of bourbon, shakes his head. "No need to apologize, at least not to me. It's a painful and terrible thing that's being done to us here, and I don't expect anyone to handle it perfectly. If the worst someone does is tear apart their own room, well, that's more than we've any right to expect, considering."


The Martyr nods, "It does seem reasonable." He sips again, "The new guy took it all eerily well. I'm not sure it's quite sunken in. And I have questions, some of which I'm not sure how to frame just yet. I'm okay though. The waiting is hard, but I'm used to that in a way. This isn't quite the same but it's close enough. "


The Scholar watches down the hall, waiting to see if the Soldier will emerge. When she doesn't, he says, "The new ones, they tend to not have a fixed idea of how things should be. People like us, who experience a life and then wake up here," he grimaces, "especially from a violent death, it's much harder. We have all these thoughts in our minds about who we are, about how things should be, and then...much of it isn't true. Or at least some." A lift of one shoulder and a drink of bourbon. "I'll check on her later, once she's had time to herself." Assuming, of course, he can sort out which room is hers. Well, he can cross that bridge when he comes to it.


The Martyr looks in the direction she disapeared, "I think she'll be all right. Little quakes." He eyes Bastian, "Is it always the end of the World or something big like that? I keep poking at the why of this. And someone said some of the ones who don'tday still come back. How does that work? Do they come back right after whatever it is ends?"


"Yes, I think she will be," the Scholar agrees. He studies his tumbler. "Cassandra was resilient, in there. I can't imagine she won't be here as well." He finishes his bourbon, sets the tumbler down. "My first time, it wasn't the end of the world. We were from a town which had made a pact with demons to make it prosperous. We'd decided to end that pact. They weren't so powerful as Dagon, though." Not even Barbas, for all his boasts and the lives he took, had been a world-threatening power.

He frowns at the other question. "I'm not sure what you mean. You mean, they're not present the entire time?" He thinks back to Prosperity, shakes his head. "I'm not sure I can think of anyone who disappeared early in my life but re-appeared here. It's only been the once, for me, though--others," he clearly has specific people in mind, "have been through this four times."


The Martyr with real admiration heagrees, "She was." Then he sips as he listens, watching Bastian's face. He winces at the 'four times.' With concern he asks, "How's she doing?"


"Seven," says Creepshow as she comes down the hall. "I've died seven times. Four stories. Twice in one story, and twice here." Yes, she's counting.


The Scholar is about to answer when Creepshow speaks for herself, and instead he gives the Martyr a sidelong smile and gestures at the bourbon. "I know it's not rum, but..." He raises his eyebrows.


The Martyr looks up, startled from where he's sitting crosslegged on the floor. "You really know how to make an entrance." His expression is wary. Drunk as he was, he remembers enough from their last encounter to be braced for more.


She stalks over to Bastian, taking the offered bottle and hitting it. "It's okay," Creepshow allows about it not being rum. "But yeah. Seven. Two of them didn't hurt because I wasn't a person. Two didn't hurt that bad. The other three fucking sucked."


"That she does," The Scholar agrees with the Martyr. He grimaces at the description of Creepshow's various deaths. Then his brow furrows. "Not a person?" he asks. After a moment he blinks, realizing he might know what she means.


The Martyr is wearing a purple and black striped silk shirt and black parachute pants with purple high top sneakers. 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 is still very thin, he is wiry with it instead of borderline emaciated.

He is stitting crosslegged on the floor, a glass of bourbon in his hand. His long, pale, vulnerable neck is bowed as he's studying the glass of bourbon in his hands. "What does that mean?"


"It was science fiction," Creepshow says with a shrug. "Y'know, space and shit. I was a synthetic person, not a real one."


The door to the Addict's room opens, and they step out. Considering they just woke up, they're put together rather well in heels, sheer stockings, and an A-line skirt with a white button up and an almost tux-like bolero jacket. The skirt is black, like their heels, and the jacket is silver, accented with a black bow-tie. Their hair is pinned up, with tendrils falling free around their face. Makeup is on point, with dark burgundy lips and smoky eyeliner.

There are traces of Danny there; they have the same physical form, more or less, the same age, roughly. They're not as cocksure, though. There's no swagger when they walk into the room. On the other hand, those who knew them as Martin might notice there's a touch more confidence, though.


The Scholar's seated on the floor near the Hall of Rooms with the Martyr, a tray with a can of ginger ale and an empty crystal tumbler between them. He's dressed a biut like Bastian used to, in a waffle Henley, denim jeans, and hiking shoes. He's about the same age as Bastian as well, sporting the same salt and pepper beard, though his hair's considerably longer, revealing it to be quite the mass of curls.

He nods in response to the Creepshow's explanation, taking it in with a contemplative look. He seems to be trying to think of something to say to that, but is distracted by the Addict's arrival. "I hope their attempt at stopping Mahoney is working," he murmurs, more to himself than anyone else. The Soldier absolutely hadn't been in the shape necessary to answer such a question.


The Martyr peers up at Max and nods, eyes wide, "C3P0 still had feelings. Artificial or not, a person's a person." To Bastian, "Rogue was right, we are going to need all those pies." And then his gaze is moving past Max.

The Martryr sets down the glass without looking and is on his feet in an instant. He takes several steps, looking hopeful, apprehensive, haunted all at once. Then he stops, left hand reaching to clasp his right elbow and he bows his head a little. After that hesitation he says, only just loud enough to carry, "Sorry for leaving you like that, Babe." he takes a deep breath, "I know I'm not Finn anymore, and they tell me you used to be someone called mrtin, but if you still... I'd like very much to see if we still work together. If you want to that is. We.. uh have bourbon." He flashes the addict a sheepish smile and runs his hand through the longer hair at the top of his head in a very characteristically Finn guesture. "I'm Dare now. What should I call you?"


Creepshow, who is short, is standing next to Scholar, leaning against him as he sits. She holds a bottle of bourbon, and wears a gray tanktop and boxers, her Facility usual. "I was a Ramona model synthetic. We were adult companion synths. I was commissioned by a man for the specific purpose of being his snuff toy. Since that was my 'past' when the story started, I don't couunt those deaths. They're all the sort of postcard memories we gett of things 'before' the story."


The Addict takes a cautious look around. They've had a bit of a shock, and while they're calm, they're still getting their bearings. "I hope Sonya got that ritual done," they say. "She was chanting when everything went dark." The Cali boy's voice didn't survive the trip, alas. The Addict drops the 'g' in 'chanting' and 'everything' and the 'r' in 'dark.' Jersey, with a touch of Brooklyn, just like they had last time they were here.

She inclines her head to Scholar and Creepshow, not leering at Creepshow quite like Danny did. No, this version is subtle. They look at Martyr, studying him carefully, head to toe. There's a trace of arrogance that Danny lacked, though there's a small smile playing upon their lips as they say, "Briar. What kind of name is Dare?" Except it sounds like 'bry-uh' and 'day-uh.'


The Confidant is attracted to voices like moth to a flame. His door, cracked open, opens more and he peers out. Familiar faces that go with familiar doors. He spies The Addict and in an act of pure...joy? Joy and relief? The newly minted Briar gets bum rushed and bear-hugged by the tall and broad red haired Chance. He's shirtless, only because he dropped it near his door. But he has pants. Jeans, so, a plus. "Briar is a pretty name. I was going to suggest Danni for you...but with an I. But you've got the name thing handled, I see." He says, quickly, as mostly one word. And then he notes others, puts The Addict down and waves a little. "Hey."


The Scholar watches the Martyr and the Addict's reunion until Creepshow explains her life as a robot in more detail. He blinks up (almost over, considering their relative heights, even though he's sitting down) at her. "That's..." There's a few words he wants to use to describe the life Creepshow had to lead. Eventually, he settles for saying, "That sounds like a terrible thing to be put through," in a low voice.

He nods a greeting at the Confidant from his spot on the floor.


The Martyr looks back at Max with real distress, "Whoever is in charge of this place is a sick fucker and I'm sorry that happened to you. It wasn't right." He glances quickly at Bastian with whom he strongly agrees. He nods, "The person those experiences made is though. I have no words.... I'm sorry."

His eyes snap back to the Addict and he's searching her face for clues, "Briar. I like Briar." A small smile, "What kind of name? Mine until I think of a better one." A shy ducking of his head, "There's a room sort of thing with deer and a forest. If you wanted to, we could talk that walk until we find a hill where we could watch the stars and wait until dawn. If you still want to that is." Another shy smile, "Maybe Xenon's would be better in those shoes. We could eat desserts and watch the ridiculously good looking waiters instead. You look really nice, Briar."

The Martyr gives a quick smile for the Confident, his joy is infectious after all, and the lucky man is getting the hug that he's not sure he has a right to attempt.


A shrug. Creepshow seems to be over it, or does a good job of acting like she is. "The irony was that everything he did with me made me think that dying was the ultimate expression of love, so when he accidentally strangled himself I didn't save him, even thpugh I was programmed to, because I thought he was finally telling me he loved me, too." A little smirk quirks her lips. "Anyway, I was bought by the brothel on the station the story took place on, and got to be a normal hobot. I even made friends and felt love."


The Addict wraps their arms around Chance and utters a delighted squeal when they're pulled into a hug. "Yeah, well, I was a thorn in Mahoney's side," they say, "so it fits." When they're put down, they pat their hair to tidy it, then idly pats Chance's bare chest, because it's there and she's not blind. "I guess we'll find out if it worked," they say.

They glance at Dare, then. "Are you askin' me out?" they say. They walk over to the thin fellow and plant a kiss on Dare's cheek. "Start me off with a bourbon, and we'll see what happens, all right, sweetheart?" They then quiet down, because Max is telling a story, and they give her an apologetic glance.


The Confidant grins and seems to vibrate almost, he's so happy. Did he discover caffeine? Figure out how to make cocaine? But Max's story gives him proper pause. "I knew...about everyone on The Noc. Even if I was fucking crazy...no, that's unkind." He pauses. "Henry was scared of the Bots but...stories like hers were not uncommon. The people Henry sats across. Ugh." The Confidant sounds different to the old timers. A newscaster's blandness has been replaced with something closer to Derek's natural accent. Midwestern American, with a bit of the South. It sounds warm and caring and inviting and given who he is, that is surely the point. He watches the exchange between Addict and Martyr and beams at Dare. He even winks and mouths 'Told you so.' before /now/ realizing he should put on a shirt. So he goes back to get it.


The Scholar smothers a morbid laugh. "A normal one," he murmurs. He sobers a moment later, nods. "All those horrible things Bastian went through don't weigh on me so much, now that they're not...things I personally experienced. I know how he felt about them, how it felt, as him, to have those memories, but that's not quite the same as having been through it." He pulls a face. "Thankfully. Otherwise you'd have to pry me out from under my bed." He thinks of the Soldier, falls quiet a moment as he listens to Confidant. "Is that what the place you were in was called?" he glances up at Creepshow. "The 'Noc'?" He says it like it's a foreign word he's not sure how to pronounce.


The Martyr is quietly horrified on Max's behalf, but pretty sure whatever he says would be wrong, so he just nods.

He listens to The Confidant, disquieted, but his eyes follow The Addict's hand on that chest, before looking away fast. Clearly he's not blind to it's nakedness and impressiveness. The mouthing just earns a confused look. He's of the opinion he completely botcched this.

Dare blushes a little as he bends for the cheek kiss, "Yes, Briar, I am very much trying to ask you out." Max having snatched the bottle, he scoops up his glass and presents it. It's mostly full at least. "So you were right about the afterlife too."

He nods to Bastian, "All those men I watched dying before the island, the lover I held at the last, all that feels unreal, even though they shaped who I became. The Island and this feel very real next to them."


Creepshow just hands the bottle over to Martyr. "The Noc," she confirms. "Tenochtitlan Station. And to be clear, Ramona was the happiest life I've had. She was sweet and friendly and supportive, and she liked being there. She enjoyed working in the club. Making people happy."


The Addict takes Dare's glass of bourbon and knocks it back like a champ. Then they offer the glass back, their voice just a little rasphy as they say, "Thanks, doll. Don't look so nervous. I'll go out with you." Though they do look a little pleased at the nervousness. Just a little. To Max, they say, "That was before my time, but I've heard the stories. I can kind of make more sense out of it now that there's science fiction in my head. Before, it just seemed too fantastical." They loop an arm around Dare's arm, lest he thinks he's going anywhere.


The Confidant gives Martyr the ol' thumbs up as he returns, pulling a plain white undershirt over his head. He seems more comfortable covered up. He saw the eyes and now he's a little pink in the cheeks. "Dare, the uh, ones from just the past, like yourself! Hey! Can find themselves a little put out when the old timers talk about 2018. Or 2149. The past is a really odd place to drop into. I'm personally ready for...well, I have no idea what year it really is so...fuck it. I don't want to go back to the past again, though. Something is always 'off' with me. The past makes that difficult." He muses. "I try not to let things stick to me but I am shaped and formed by the Encounters. How I feel, who I care about...who I miss..." His gaze drifts to the anywhere room's doors. "But it's better here than there. Living in fear and shit." He covers his mouth. "Briar, can I curse now? I've got a potty mouth. I can't help it."


"Tenochtitlan," the Scholar repeats. The proper name is even more foreign to him than the short one. He leans into Creepshow a fraction, murmurs something to her.

He nods at the Addict, saying, "I had to read several of the books in my room before I could wrap my head around it when all I had were Sebastian's memories."

He makes a low, contemplative sound at the Martyr's description. "It doesn't feel unreal to me, so much as...it's not visceral. Painful, definitely, but in the way that hearing about anyone's pain can be." He pauses, shrugs. "A sympathetic pain, rather than a personal wound." But of course, some of them had picked up plenty of the later at the Lodge.

He arches an eyebrow at Confidant's request to curse.


The Martyr takes the bottle, listening, as he pours Briar another, and instead of taking it back takes a good swallow without choking, proof in it's way of not quite Finness. He does perk up a little, especially at the arm looping. He really hadn't taken a warm welcome or even any welcome for granted. He'd been warned about some of the reactions some people have and knows next to nothing about Martin. This Briar is a half a familiar stranger and he's trying his terrible at love best. Lightly he places his other hand on Briar's so they might know he's not planning to bolt as long as they want him there.

Rather out of the blue Dare asks, "What's an emo? It was emo and not emu, right? I know what an emu is." If two of them are from Noc, maybe one will answer. He tries not to look directly at the Confident during the dressing, opting for Bastian as the safer option just now, "I've seen Back to the Future, the Star Wars films, and Logan's Run. I wasn't a big Science fiction person, but I have basic concepts at least. I'm not going to flip out over some of you being from my future. Don't worry. So the place with the demons was the pst then? From me, I mean? Tenochtitlan... kind of ominous in name."


"It's the name of an ancient Aztec city," Creepshow explains. "Owned by a mega-corporation called Penumbra, which was based out of Mexico on Earth. They were big into energy, so the station was a major gas refinery for mining ships, but space tourism was becoming a thing, too, so they opened the first resort and casino in space, with a huge shopping mall. The strip club and brothel was called Total Eclipse. That's where Ramona worked."

"Emo," she confirms for Martyr. "It's an early 21st century music and culture style. Mopey, angsty, oh-woe-is-me. Emotional. Emo."


She nods at what Scholar murmurs to her. "Say when."


The Addict inclines their head to Confidant and says, far more prim than Danny ever was, "It's permitted. I got quite the education in modern senisbilities." Well, modern for the 1980s, anyway. They can't throw stones on morals after spending a lifetime as a frat boy stoner.

Speaking of substances, they take the glass of bourbon offered and this time take a reasonable swallow instead of just downing it.


"Emo! I know this one. Short for Emotional. It's an evolution of goth kids, basically. Same beat, similar clothes, different music. My sister had a phase. Or...Chance's sister, rather." The Confidant takes up a spot leaning against a wall. "Demons were Prosperity, yeah. 1902. Oh, Jody...I didn't think I'd wind up missing him but poor Derek, man..." He can never pick a tense when discussing the Encounters. "Jody had a mind like a steel trap but had a bad leg and an addiction to laudanum." He half shrugs. "That's probably why I don't indulge here. I get plenty elsewhere." He smiles a little at Briar. "I suppose you did. Frat boy musician. Derek thought Danny was so much better looking than him. That guy craved an edge. Still, I'll try and keep the curse count low. Out of respect." He blurts out the next bit, like it escaped before he could stop it. "I wish I could put more distance between me and the Encounters. The people--they go straight to my heart. And I can't make their pain better. No matter how hard I try." He frowns and looks at his bare feet. "Maybe next time, I'll just be missing a few toes..."


"I don't know if distancing yourself from them is the best idea," the Scholar says. "At least, not completely. If you've done things--things you're not proud of, even reprehensible things--I can understand the desire to do so, but it's risky. How long can you do that before you're trying to deny all these people you've been, and become overwhelmed?" A small shrug; he has no answers here, just more questions of his own.

He nods at the Martyr. "We faced the demons in 1902. Waking up in here was a bit of a change."

Then the Scholar stands, holds out his hand to Creepshow. "Lead on," he says.


The Martyr seems to be following Max and Chance okay. He was thinking of hearts being ripped out at the tops of temples. "So like the Smiths." He nods, filing away the term for later. He raises his eyebrows at Briar. The looks away fast, blushing to his ears. He takes another swig. His expression is all empathy for the Confident, "I understand that a little too well. I am sorry." Okay, so Noc is space and propertity is demons in the past. Beaver lake was three. What was Four. You did say there were four, right? And with the space station, were you saving it, like with Prosperity from Demons and the world from Dagon at the Lake? Oh!" He smiles Sheepishly, "Another time with questions perhaps. Sorry."


Creepshow takes the offered hand, blinking. "Okay." Off to one of the twin doors she leads him, and into The Noc beyond. She doesn't say that no one can follow them, should they be inclined.


"Oh, no," Briar says to Chance. "You were a looker. I kept thinking man, I wish this guy would notice me." They look somewhat shy in a way Danny never would but Martin had down to a science. They give Scholar and Creepshow each a nod as they depart, and they give Dare's arm a little squeeze to encourage him. "When I woke up from Prosperity, I had a wife and daughter, but they were gone. There was Arthur, though. I only saw him once this time. I hope he remembers me. I hope we still got a spark." They aside to Dare, "He's not the jealous type. I adore him, though." They take another sip of bourbon, then say, "It's easier, dying, I think. Instead of having a life ripped away from you."


"The first was the Isle, 2018. It was a rich people music festival except with more deformed tribespeople and skeletons and sacrifices. I was Chance. A deaf EMT trying to make some cash to get some hearing back and move out west. I liked Chance...I don't think like him anymore but, I still like the name." He shrugs. "Then the Noc, then Prosperity, then Beaver Lake. I go way back..." He watches the departure. "I believe Max does goes back that far too. We are getting fewer, the old timers. Not sure how to feel about that." He looks to Briar. "This was the second time I died before...the end? The first was a killshot I don't remember but this one? I looked into my sister's eyes as we died. I was so scared and I was in so much pain. I...I prefer living." He pauses. "You two want to be alone? I don't mind..." He is starting to walk away.


The Scholar nods at the others as Creepshow leads him to the anywhere rooms and the nigh-unbelievable (to him, anyways) technological wonder those survivors call 'The Noc'.


The Martyr nods goodbye to The Creepshow and the Scholar, watching Briar now with those clever dark eyes, filing things away. "I never did get to meet Arthur. I've no idea what he looks like even. I'd like too, and I'm not the jealoustype either if... if things go well. At least the way I died was fast. Roast pork and ozone, then nothing. There are definately worse things." He lowers his eyes, "The funeral was beautiful and you were so brave in that kitchen and down in the Hole." He flicks his eyes to Chance, knowing better than to repeat what he said earlier. "I like this you. Max said four, so that would make sense."


"No, Chance, you don't have to leave," Briar says, "I need to go through my room and see if anything changed." Everyone has their priorities when they get back. "It was quick. Mahoney showed up, and I thought someone's gotta protect Sonya, so I stood in front of her, and..." She shrugs a shoulder. "I guess it hurt, but I faded so fast. She was still chanting though, just like a little trooper."

They finish their bourbon, then set the glass aside, turn to Dare, and kiss him full on the mouth. It's not a chaste kiss. Then they say, "I'm glad you're here. Maybe after I finish with my room, we can go on that date." Then they make their way toward the hall of rooms, hips swaying with every high-heeled step.


"I hate to see 'em go but I love to watch 'em walk away..." The Confidant says, watching The Addict switch on away. He looks back at Dare and says, "I told you so! Told ya!" He bobs a little, almost like a happy dance. "The thing about the Encounters, you end up...with anyone. Briar is a good example. Pining over Misty, messing with Finn. Next Go? We could end up snuggling and admiring my missing toes under the stars. Point being...jealousy gets you nowhere here. I..." He looks to the anywhere room. "I've been thinking about those. I wonder...I mean, if you want to see a space station or Prosperity or a tropical island in 2018." He points to the doors. "I would be happy to guide you through Prosperity. We'll get Briar, make a day of it." He laughs softly. "I'm going to inventory my clothes. They seem to change but I reckon Briar's the only one with more clothes. Keep an eye on those doors. They'll be landing soon and I miss them."


The Martyr kisses them back, eyes wide at first from surprisse, but he just melts into it. "I'd really like that." He watches Briar walk with a mix of longing and grief with a hint of hope mixed in. "Oh yes." He gives Chance a shaky smile, "We could go look smetime. Sure."