At least she's awake, even if she's not immediately visible in the room. The dress she often wears is thrown over the bed, which looks like she's slept on top of the covers for a while. There's the sound of sloshing water from the bathroom, with a trail of steam that smells like sandalwood occasionally flowing out from under the arch toward the main room. Also, clove smoke, and a relatively even flow of quiet swearing. The glassy clink of a bottle being set down on tile.
It wouldn't be the first time he heard a one-sided conversation coming out of some part of her room. Pandora's 'owner' is still in her head, from time to time, and no matter how troubling or insane it means she must be, it could be worse.
"Of course I love that place. It was always my favorite. I just didn't expect it to be there. That would be insane." Like talking to the ghosts of mad Weyland-Yutani project leads isn't.
"I know I need to breathe. Everyone needs to breathe." A sigh follows.
"Like I fucking know?" There is a pause. A long pause. "'Don't try to open a window on the space station' would be the kind of thing I would think would go without saying."
The water sloshes; an achey hiss of breath follows. "It will be fine in the morning."
After a time, she appears, stepping out from the tub with a splash of water against the tile. Clove still tucked between her lips, she's only carrying the bottle of rum along with her. No towel, and she sheds water everywhere. The tips of her hair are wet, but the rest is a frazzled tangle of a mess, the curls all askew. There's a brutal-looking bar-shaped bruise across her ribs, just beneath her chest, and it seems to cross along her left arm as well.
Without a word, she crosses toward the glass panels of the cabinet inset into the wall, where all of the things that have followed her back from various lifetimes have been stored. There are three: an old, battered, blood-stained stuff rabbit; a small wire jewelry stand holding a silver chain with a platinum ring hanging from it; finally, a sword belt, holding a an elaborate blade, with a shiny deputy badge with its pin threaded through the leather lacing.
For a long moment, she stares, expressionless, before stretching out a hand to press the glass, popping open the cabinet door. There's an unhealthily long pull from the bottle; she's full on chugging the thing until there's a wince.
Its the sword she takes out, wedging the sheathed blade under her arm, and unpins the deputy badge from the leatherwork with awkward motions of a single hand as the blade bobs around unhelpfully with her movements. Once it's free, she tosses it back into the case, where it lands with a clink.
She pours the remainder of the bottle over the shelf, sloshing it over everything inside for good measure, and just drops it, empty, to the floor.
Another moment to just stare. Her shoulders shake as though she's crying, or huffing with anger; it's surely both.
Then, she turns to set the sheathed blade on the edge of the bed, picks up a pack of matches from the nightstand beside it, and strikes one, holding it and watching the flame flicker for a moment before throwing it into the cabinet, which she then simply closes again, not that it is likely to really contain the flames behind the glass for long. It's rather like the world's most dangerous fireplace, at least for the moment.
"Fuck you all," is all she says before a backward step collides with the edge of the bed, and she sits down, reaching for the cloves to just watch it burn, knowing it will all be back, just as it was, come morning, even if the whole place goes up.
She takes a clove from the pack, reaches over to the nightstand to grab the ashtray, and watches in complete silence.
Far be it from Rafe to not enjoy a good burning of the things that haunt you, but when he's sauntering into her room with a happy hum it turns to a low whistle rather shortly afterwards. The very crackle pop of the flames licking at shelves and mementos, he can't help but tilt his head to the side slightly. Pushing his hair from his face with a hand as he crosses the distance towards the tearful Visionary. No wise cracked jokes, no vein attempts to make her laugh here, he can see the hurt from a mile away and there is only the softly cooed sound of his comforting tone.
His steps finally land him within arm's reach and he's slipping those arms around her, wiry and strong like he didn't leave the days of being a hero behind. He lingers there for a moment, just with his arms looped around her and watching the fire burn. Eventually he will turn to get a better look at her, the bruises, the wet skin, he touches the purple colored skin for a moment, tenderly. "I see you've had a rough few days," he says quietly, "You wanna talk about it, or just drink until it stops hurting first?"
At first, she doesn't even seem to hear him. She's fixated on that blaze for long seconds, everything but the sword and belt rescued from the case going up in a predictable fashion, the metals merely blackening, much to her chagrin. It's only when his arms slip around her that she lets go of the sob she's been holding in, and leans back against him, shaking like a leaf.
"I hate this place, Rafe," is all she can say for long moments. The rest of the words she might have uttered are just horrible noises that, though not language, communicate just as readily. "I fucking hate this place." There's a flinch at the bruises -- they're pretty harsh, but they'll be gone when the place resets, and won't be something she'll have to bear for long, at least, so she doesn't seem to care about them much.
"Ghost sighting," the Visionary says, as if this explains everything. It would explain enough, at least, in their own shared language. "Not like last time. Not just a dream." She's still shaking.
The Fool can tell at the trembling that something is wrong which just makes his hands slide under whatever she's wearing to find her hips and then her back and draw her in tighter. The shaking can be steadied and calmed, the bruises will heal in due time. For now there is the hate to deal with.
A nod comes, "Well sure, this place fucking sucks and it does everything it possibly can to remind us of that, whether with the people or with the actions it takes to haunt us, or fuck with our minds. Yeah I hate this place too, but that doesn't mean we despair, right?" he nudges her nose with his own and kisses her cheek gently. "Ghost sighting..? Not...oh? I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, I'm going to guess not by the looks of it."
"Not. So very much not," she whispers back to him. "It could have been, maybe. But it's not."
She probably doesn't even have to confirm who. "She-" She. Not 'me'. The distance there is a thing understood by those like them who have been here many times before, but she's fixating on driving it home, perhaps particularly to herself in the emphasis on that word. "-really did love him, you know." The words are still hard to get out. "She didn't know how any better than Pandora would have, but she did."
"That confusion, conflict, it wasn't something she was at all prepared for. Didn't understand for shit." The pause comes with a hitch in her voice, a frustrated sound of acknowledged weakness. "Scared her more than any of the fucking demons, in the end. Demons, she understood. Demons, she could handle." It's almost funny, and she knows it. "But her mother always said 'A Moreau will always keep her name,' and I never understood why until then. And then? It wasn't-" Her lower lip trembles. "-it wasn't the priority. Figuring it all out was just something that was getting in the way of the job that had to be done, and the job-"
Her eyes close, and her shoulders slump forward. "-was too important. And it complicated things."
The glass is doing a better job at starving the fire of oxygen than she might have hoped, and already the flames are crackling down to orange embers, but she makes no move to try to set it alight again. Instead, there's just a slump of shoulders at the disappointment at the non-spectacle of it all, and a narrowing of her eyes at the blackened rectangle in the wall behind smoke-smudged glass.
"Found out what those new doors do, though. Dragged his ass through one just in a mad dash to try to explain shit, since there were... so many people." Hard to say if the answer is good or bad.
The Fool shrugs a bit, "I'm sure she did, but sounds like he didn't just want to love and be loved," there's a frown there and he lifts a hand to her cheek. "Which was his choice, and while it effects you, you don't have to let it."
"I mean honestly. These lives we keep living. The "lessons" learned. What lessons? I mean shit, you saved us all on the Island, and you got thanked by being turned into a robot. You figured out love as a creation and this stupid place ripped it away. That's just cruelty. You have got to stop searching for meaning in it," he assures her, "Or you're actually going to go insane," he notes with a flicker of amusement. "The job was important, and, if I can be so bold, you had a suitor. I was furious to find out he'd proposed, but I guess there was something of an pragmatist in my hero's alter ego. I didn't get all huffy, because I didn't want you to lose out on a good friend. But I nearly shot him twice for hogging your attention when I wanted it," he confesses with a twist of a grin.
"Oh? So where do the new doors go?"
"Like the place. Go wherever you need, seems like." There's a quiet laugh with little humor in it. "That observatory, the bar. On the Noc. That's where it went." A pause settles in, and she says, "That time, anyway. Goes other places, for other people. Is other things."
"Like the place knew I needed my favorite place, somehow. Like it would make things easier." She breathes out, and her expression falls in a way that clearly indicates it wasn't any help at all. "Grabbed the bartender's stash from behind the bar, bottle of rum, went up on the platform and tried to explain everything. Who we were, what we know of it all. Who we are-" Clearly meaning herself and Rafe. "Who I've been. That I've loved people before, and they were all just-" She flinches. "-ghosts. That I didn't have any easy answers for him."
"That whatever happens, we'll figure it out. It wasn't going to be that magical second chance he was maybe hoping for, like some happy ever after miracle, starting now. That shit is just... so much more complicated than that, here." A sigh, and she murmurs, "It was his only life, so far. I remember how that was. How it gets... easier? To separate things, later. I told him that."
"It wasn't the same. Different sort of thing, different love? For each of you. I chose you for a reason, but don't pretend the choice was easy, no matter what came before, because it wasn't. Not there, not then." There's a soft, quiet laugh without much humor, and she shakes her head. "Here, there's no contest." She tilts up her chin just enough to press a kiss to his brow. "But there are still feelings there, and they aren't... insignificant."
"Which is especially irritating because apparently no one ever told the son of a bitch that you don't open a window on a fucking space station."
The Fool blinks a bit and tries to process that, letting it sink in a bit before going, "Huh," and then curiously he simply grabs hold of a blanket and throws it over them so they can be decent as he pushes her by the butt towards the door. "Make with the to be showings," he grins and then leans around to nip at her shoulder. Meanwhile he'll roll a few things over in his brain and then nod along.
"I mean, maybe I didn't go make it obvious enough that I was intending you to be my lady? But I can fix that here rather easily, you have a lighter or a knife? Preferably both?" he is a bit manic and totally prone to silly ideas like carving or branding her out of some very Fool-like endeavor to lay his claim. "Hey, I can't pretend to understand, you were holding down the fort with the Sheriff and I was galavanting off while wearing a mask - lemme tell you, swinging from the chandelier? Toooootally as fun as it looks," he grins and gives her butt a little pat.
"I love you, Cass, and I'll love you no matter what our lives end up in this stupid hologram from Hell, just don't remember it, know it. Like I know you love me," he sing songs and then opens the door enough so they can shuffle out in nothing but a couple of shared blankets with the occasional smoke signal rising out from underneath.
With the fire nearly dead, only a few crackling embers remaining, she closes her eyes and tugs at him gently, trying to drag herself along with him with what precious little strength she has left. She's still damp, still naked from the bath, so the blanket sticks in awkward places, but he's able to get her up and on to her feet.
"Pandora deactivated once like that, when she was working with smugglers -- and you all thought I was such a saint." Her laugh is hollow, but more real than any that have come before it. "I still remember it. It was one of the only things she was afraid of; it's a fucking terrible way to die, and less so for a fucking synthetic than a real person. I still remember being in the Eclipse when the sirens went off, and bracing Cole against that fucking wall because if one seal was loose, that whole room would have blown right out into space, and counting down, neither of us breathing."
"So I grabbed for his fucking ankle and slammed up against the glass and, well. Yanked his ass back inside, because I guess he was... trying to kill the man he was that had loved me, somehow."
"Almost killed us both, because I wasn't going to let that shit happen, I couldn't, still couldn't, watch him die, and especially not like that."
She burrows her head in against his neck, and whispers, "I meant it when I said I thought you were dead. And it's when it began. And it didn't stop growing, either, even when I tried to pull it out like a weed, because it was real, too. As real as anything was."
"I don't know how to-" Explain it. Describe it. "Pandora? She loved everyone. There's a part of me that's the same way, and probably always will be." She is, all the same, leading on down the hall toward the mysterious doors all the same. "What I feel for you is so much stronger than anything I've ever felt, and nothing compares to that. I can't imagine that anything ever could, no matter what this place throws at us."
Then, there are the doors. And there, she pauses. "I think I know what I want to show you," she says after a moment, and for the first time since the conversation began, despite some obvious trepidation, there is a small, earnest smile.
The Fool nods, "I remember dying with Mia, she was so sweet, she just kissed me while it all went up in flames and vacuum. Hurt a bit, but not as much as it could have," he smiles some, "Was still you, even if it wasn't," he shrugs and then continues along.
"Wait. So the Dumbass decided to try and airlock jump because why? He wanted to kill the man that loved you?" he stares at her a bit blankly from under the blankets, incredulity thy name is Rafe. Then he's laughing and shaking his head, "You really need to remember the rules of this place, darlin'. Let him space himself, he comes right back all the wiser for having found out what it's like."
He's still chuckling some as he lights up one of the cloves he stole from her with a match that came from no where. Still with the sleight of hand. "I get you, babe, I do. I ain't run into anything as real and tangible as that yet, but who knows I might. Ain't ruling it out, but I'm not going to bank on it either. See, I figure the place keeps doing this to you because it knows it can get a reaction out of you. It's like a big fucking sadist, which is kinda why I get it I think," because he always gets it. "I know you thought I was dead, and that was silly," he winks and then continues along towards wherever she's leading, "What're you gonna show me?"
"Love doesn't come with an off switch, is all I'm saying," the Visionary says, and some part of it sounds like an apology. "I still-" Her head shakes, and she swallows a breath. "I still care about him. That much came through. Still a part of me wants him, maybe just because we were never together there like Isaac and Angeline were, but I couldn't say."
Her chin tilts down, and she murmurs, "Can't pretend it isn't true, and I wouldn't lie to you about that."
"I want to show you something different." But then, she seems to focus, closing her eyes and reaching for the door's handle. Just the span of a few heartbeats, and she flicks the latch, and slowly pulls it open.
On the other side of the door is the truly impossible. It opens onto space, but there's no crush of hard vacuum or endless sprawl of emptiness stippled in distant starlight. Instead, there is a sea of endless light, clouds of dust glowing in every shade of the rainbow that move as if they are alive.
He would have seen something roughly like it before. Since she found the paint, she's tried to paint something like it more than once. Every night, as the room and their bodies and the whole of the Facility resets, it erases itself as though it had never been at all. Eventually, she stopped, frustrated by the repeated loss.
The reality of it is something different entirely. It is something no paintbrush could ever hope to capture. Not the way it moves, not the slow pulsing of the light like a heartbeat, not the vivid, impossible colors that are created as energy collides with light and matter and spins off to become worlds, become life, become solar systems and galaxies, all spinning out from the whirling center like a cornucopia of raw creation.
For all the truly horrible things about the place, all the terrors it has shown them, and all the horrors and trauma it puts them through, there is a part of her that is grateful, now, because she can finally, at last, show someone this.
"It's how Pandora saw love," she says, her voice quiet and reverent. "Kira, and Mia, too. She shared it with them. They had no language for it, and didn't know what it was, really, or what it meant. For me, it was easy. Pandora understood it once she was allowed to hack her brain, but she didn't, not at first."
"It's the other side of a black hole. Where all the light and life goes."
"It's what she would have seen, when she looked at you. It's what I see, when I look at you."
The Fool smiles some to see it finally, peering out from under the blankety cowl he's created as they step only close enough to view that vast infinite space of creation and life. The view is something close to spell binding, but he can't help but smile just a tick. "I asked her about that, how she saw love. And she started to talk about Pandora's vision of it, the cosmos and infinite parts. But when I asked her what she felt when we were together, what she felt about me - she told me," he pauses a long moment and just radiates a little, bright and glowing and content for a moment.
"Lemme see if I can do this?" he offers and tugs them backwards enough, so that he can push in and bring them to something different. This time it's hills, grass and blue skies, there's something serene about it, it's morning and the scent of strawberries wafts on the wind through the grass. It comes on the first breeze of the day, the warmth of which belies the warmth that will come in the afternoon. All of that potential, it's the same feeling but with different music put over it. The sentiment at the end is the same, their love feels like the blossoming and the ending, and the everything in between. And that's just the way he likes it. "Kinda why you got strawberries I think."
Under the blanket, the Visionary simply rests her head against the Fool's shoulder. As the stars vanish behind the closing of the door, she waits, perhaps pleased with herself that she could make them appear there at all. The view that comes into focus as he opens it a second time brings a warm smile to her face, and she looks up at him before pressing a soft kiss to the line of his jaw. "These rooms," she says after a moment, "are pretty cool."
"I wish it was as easy as turning off a switch, Rafe," she murmurs, her head falling to rest against his shoulder once again. "It isn't. And that hurts. Something about it is like that universe: it just... grows. It grows to make more space, more places, all of them unique and distinct and special in their own way, but-" One hand slides down to search for his, threading her fingers through them. "-you're right in the middle, you know."
"Jack's one of those little straggler nebulas, and Cole has a solar system out there by the rim, Heck's that bright, quirky binary star spinning around like mad a bit off to the right."
Turning, she looks at him a moment more, and steps through the door. A deep breath is drawn in, and she's not under the blanket any more at all. Still achey and bruised, she isn't about to run, of course, but she does crook a hand to him, beckoning him inside.
The Fool is a good shoulder to lean on, especially since he's all broad and a little less doughy than before. "These rooms are pretty fucking neat," he agrees with a pretty joyous laugh before he just nudges her on through the door about the same time she's stepping inside. "I know it's not as easy as a switch, I mean if it was it wouldn't be considered a battlefield and shit right? That's the dumb song lyric I swear," he chuckles and then slides inside only leaving the blanket draped over the bushes close to the door again so they don't get lost. In case, yanno, the Facility was feeling especially cruel. Not that this would be a bad place to hang out until the next simulation took place.
"Well I fuckin' better be," he teases before leaning in to kiss at her cheek and nip under her jawline. "Wait. I don't think you ever told me about Jack?" he asks curiously before slipping his fingers into hers to let her lead them further into the intensely wonderful vision that Mia left him with.
There's a tiny groan from the Visionary at the mention of the song lyric, which has assuredly come up in rotation already on the television now only playing 80s music videos. "That is going to earworm me all day now!" she protests with a sudden, honest laugh. Her head shakes, and she says, "Jack was Dahlia's best friend. They'd grown up together, and apparently he was hopelessly in love with her."
"She never realized it, or noticed, or even knew, until he was dead." There's a reason she has a hateful guilt for all her ghosts, to be certain. "He was the sweetest ghost, too. Thoughtful, honest, had the dearest sort of heart." She lets a sigh fall, and says, "He would have followed her anywhere, and unfortunately for him, he did -- right to that damned island."
"He died when all hell broke loose, that first night of the attacks. He went running to their cabin to go get their good luck charm, this stuffed rabbit they had since they were kids. Traded it back and forth whenever one or the other needed the luck, or to fend off feeling scared."
"And he died for it. She sat there in the security trailer for what must have been... eight hours? Just staring at his body on the feed. When she went out to see to him, he had that rabbit in his hand."
She cants her head, and sinks to a seat in the soft grass, looking up at him. "I still feel that loss, you know. It won't ever leave me, I don't think. It doesn't matter that he isn't real."
The Fool shrugs, "All of these things effect us, the echoes and ghosts. Like I put on a brave face sure, but I've cried myself to sleep in my bathtub a night or three." Another casual roll of his shoulders and he's strolling naked through the, "Strawberry fields, forever," just to put another song in her head because he's a cruel bastard! "Ohh, I wish I was paying more attention during that one. I was so fucking scared and trying to just figure out what was happening what was real." Then he grins and finds her shoulder to bite at playfully. "This is real, and that's all I need. Whatever else happens, baby, you got what I neeeeeeed," he's fucking with her at this point!
"I mean, there's nothing he could do that would make how I feel about you any different, or any less, which is what's so frustrating about it all. It's just that he's... here. And that complicates everything so much more. If I didn't think it would have hurt you, I would have kissed the asshole right there." As he speaks of crying over Mia's loss, her brow furrows, and she noses at his cheek lightly. "And it wouldn't have meant I wanted to kiss you less. Or-"
She is far too banged up to be wrestling with him in the grass, but she'll be damned if she'll let him get away with that one without a tackle, even if it is a bit wince-laden and wimpy. Wincing and laughing at once, she rolls atop him, until they're nose to nose. "Want to do this even more." And with that, she kisses him, damned hard, her fingers threading back into his hair. "Because Isaac wasn't my hero. You are."
The Fool exhales a sigh and takes her weight easily, rolling to his back so he can look up at her and the sky, their chests pressed together so heartbeats are shared. "Yeah...I dunno what it is, maybe the Wild West instilled a sense of propriety and jealousy in me, but you're right. That would have sucked to find out about. I, um, thank you," he says and leans up to kiss her lightly in between the talk and then the tackle.
"I..." there's a long moment where he has to process that and then he smiles a little, "That's going straight to the ego, you know that right?" he asks with a laugh and then promptly pulls her hips closer so she's tugged into a straddle over his waist in turn. When that kiss comes with such force he's there for it, meeting her with the vigor and vim she shows him until he's forced to pull back for air.
There's a tiny sigh as she looks down at him, and -- everyone gets a turn with the Hargreave poking finger, apparently she's keeping that -- pokes him lightly in the shoulder.
"Jealousy is stupid. I fucking worship you." Said so matter-of-factly she can't by lying, and immediately she ducks in closer to bite at his shoulder, firmly. "Mine," she rumbles around his skin, staying there long enough that she aims to leave a nice bruise behind. There's even a tiny little growl and a playful jostle of her head before she lets go.
"No matter who you kiss, fancy, favor, flake on, fuck, fuck over, fuck with, or fuck up, you, Rafe, are mine. Forever." Well then. "Because here, no one can take that away from us. Not ever."
The Fool looks down at the finger and then looks back up at her with a lofted eyebrow at the poke, he'll snag that finger and just bite it right on the tip. "I'm not one of your school children, nor am I one of the grown-ass men in the village that need to be mothered," he gives her back with a smirk. "Jealousy is a thing, possessiveness too. I get you first, goddammit," there's a hint of sulk. Then she's biting him and he's squawking a little bit before turning in to bite at her neck in return! "Well I guess I can see how that works, but for now I'm just with you and that's how I like it right now," he says with a kiss to her full lips and a nip there too.
The way her toes just curl as he catches the finger mid-poke baffles her for a split second -- that thing is unstoppable, usually! -- before she rumbles down a purr of noise at him, grinning like a fiend. "Always first," she whispers insistently. "First thing waking, bolting to your door. Every morning. Every time I wake." When his teeth find her neck in turn, she squirms notably, swallowing a quick breath in a hiss through her own teeth.
"And that the idea of hurting you even the smallest bit is all it takes to stop me from doing something?" she says more than she asks, tilting up her head to meet his eyes. "Should tell you all you need to know." She meets that kiss in earnest, as if it's become punctuation to the sentiment behind it.
When it breaks, she looks down at him, face framed by the frazzled mess of her hair, and says, "I hate that we can't wake up together. I got used to that. I loved that. I miss it already. This place can fuck itself on that particular point."
She swallows a sigh and rests her head at his shoulder, nestling in atop him, still not fully recovered from whatever chaos came before. "I'm just as much yours, you know. You do know that, don't you?"
"I had a thought," she whispers against his neck. "And you'll think it's silly." She sucks in a quick breath, and the wrinkle of her smile can be felt against his shoulder. "Everything fades, changes, over night, here. But."
"Chance has been writing on the walls every morning. And it's gone when we all wake up, but he just does it all again. Just like no wound, scar, burn, or tattoo would stay."
There is a more thoughtful pause, then, and she pushes herself up by a fraction to look him in the eyes. "I want something. Something... for every morning. Even if it means doing it again, every morning. Something that comes as close to staying as anything can, here."
"For both of us. Just us."
It's not too far from his own thinking earlier -- a scar, a brand.
"Something everyone can see."
The Fool smiles up at her and nods slowly. "Fine, then, beloved, we are going to do this," and there's that razor that he keeps sharpening every morning, some how always tucked somewhere - probably hammer space knowing the trickster. And he takes her left hand in his and he carves a neat little X, then when that is done he closes each of the end to make a side ways 8 on her ring finger. "Forever, mine." he smiles to her and passes the razor before presenting his wedding ring finger to her like a big old dork.
There's no hiss, no flinch, as he takes her hand and begins to carve the mark there. The shiver is real, and it's impossible to not recollect how he nicked her, that first night, to show her a better alternative to bashing her knuckles raw down to the bone against the door to prove herself human. That night, he showed her something entirely different: his humanity. It never left her, and the memory warms her further, bringing tears to glisten along the line of her lashes. "Forever, yours," she whispers to him, shivering as the final sweeps of the blade close the shape into an infinity symbol.
Taking the razor he sharpens each morning in hand, she looks into his eyes. "First thing, whenever we wake," she confirms. "I'm not just yours first, Rafe. I'm yours any and every time you want me to be. Nothing will ever change that." Her fingers curl gently beneath his hand to brace it, and she takes in a quick breath to steady herself before she begins to carve the same shape, in precisely the same place. She's not as adept as he is at the motion, so it takes her a little longer, but the end result is the same, and she presses a soft kiss to it the moment it is complete, mindless of the sting.