Log:The Face of an Untenable Situation

From Horror MUX
Jump to: navigation, search
The Face of an Untenable Situation
Characters  •   The Caregiver  •  The Defender  •  The Penitent  •  The Scholar  •  The Melancholic  •  The Bravo  •  The Capitalist  •
Location  •  Facility- Parlor
Date  •  2018-12-30
Summary  •  When too many people with heavy tidings on the mind get together, it paints a picture of where they're really all left standing-- a place with no answers. It doesn't settle well with some while others mentally rally against the concept.

The Caregiver sits in the middle of the floor in front of the flat screen television, wearing a bitty sundress the ombre colors of sunset, tied with a halter. She's absorbed in a current video, Total Eclipse of the Heart, like it's a showing of stage itself. Of course, the bottle of wine and glass nearby might have something to help that fascination along. Across her lap, she has a cut length of satin from a piece of something from her closet and she's doing idle needlework with embroidery patterns, though that has slowed considerably for the duration of the flatscreen showing.


Walking into the parlor of the Facility, the Defender is in his standard attire for this place which is black slacks, buttoned up white collared shirt, black shoes, something he has yet to deviate from since the first time he had woken up in this place. Tucked under his arm is a book and in his right hand is a mug of hot chocolate. As he heads to his usual chair to relax and read, he hears that the TV is on and looks over to see the Caregiver once again mesmerized by a music video, an amused smile appearing. He doesn't disturb her just yet, letting the young woman enjoy the video as he slowly settles in on his seat, the hot chocolate placed on the small table at his side.


"Good lord or whatever's damn well holy there, cowboy..." The Eilis spills right out of Caregiver once she does a bit of a double take at Defender settling down nearby, delayed with humming along until the song is done. Then she closes her eyes for a prolonged beat and sits up straighter with a vaguely abashed smile, "You don't mean to spook me, but considering my heart's going to go pounding all the same, well. That's alright. Still just... something to see." Her smile turns somewhat lopsided as one of her bare shoulders hitches inward, reaching to pour refill into her glass with an eye of his steaming cup, "What are you drinking?"

Wiggling her feet back into her strappy black sandal heels, she walks on her knees to come at lean against the man's leg and seat while eyeing it speculatively, "... and do you think people could get cat meat things out of the machines?"


Putting the unopened book on the table, the Defender laughs lightly at the Caregiver's words while shaking his head slightly. He then picks up the mug and takes a quick look at it before shifting his gaze back to the her, "Just regular hot chocolate, nothing special." Certainly nothing like the wine that the young woman is enjoying right now. "What are you making there?" The question asked in regards to her embroidery, though whether it will remain in its unfinished state or back to a ball of yarn when the day carries over is left unasked. The Defender then watches as the Caregiver moves over towards him, a brow arching at her next question, "Cat meat? What do you mean?"

At the moment, the Defender is seated in one of the single occupant, comfortable seats with a closed book he had just put down at the small side table, and in his hand is a mug of hot chocolate. He is wearing his usual Facility attire, white buttoned up collared shirt, black slacks, black shoes. The Caregiver had just moved from the flatscreen TV that was playing Total Eclipse of the Heart and is now seated next to the Defender on the floor. She is dressed in a sundress with the colors of a sunset and tied with a halter.


"Mm, nevermind, probably a joke from someone. And it still kind of throws me, not knowing that the meat isn't coming from the ranch directly. I secretly named all the cows, you know. Or a good portion of them." The Caregiver glances back over her shoulder at where the satin mid-embroidery pattern has been left with the bottle, her wine glass in hand for a long considering sip, "Busywork, my hands wanted to be busy. And that's what I knew how to do to keep them that way. Of course, I never did it with -wine- so it turns out, I get pricked a lot more. But maybe I'm just rusty and need acclimating." After her drink, she puts her head down against the side of the man's seated leg after shifting from her kneel to sit there close, "What are you reading?"


Padding from the hallway of doors comes none other than the Penitent. No shoes as usual, and her outfit is the same as ever. Sweatpants, tank-top, check and check. Though she has found herself a good old wide brimmed cowboy hat. It's not white, like Anette wore, rather a darker thing, but it fits nicely on her head all the same. She's also got a very simple smile at place there on her lips. Though she seems rather amused all the same.

"One thing I did figure out, woman likes busy hands," she says in that Old West drawl that is pure Anette Hargreave. "Ain't nothin' like that gift basket she put together. Still got some fond memories o' those treats." There's a wink and then she's flopping down onto a couch. It's followed by a, "Hi."


At the admission from the Caregiver that she named all the cows, the Defender can only shake his head while sighing, "Eilis, you can't name the cattle. You can't name things that you will end up slaughtering." It is a lesson that Pierce learned when he was very young, though he no longer has a memory of the actual occurrence of how he learned the lesson, the lesson still stuck. After a long sip from his mug of hot chocolate, the Defender puts the mug back down on the table and picks up the book, showing it to the Caregiver, "Of Mice and Men, by Steinbeck."

When the Penitent joins them, the Defender greets her with a smile and nod of his head, and one more in agreement with the other woman's words, "She does indeed. Her meatpies were the best, that is for sure." He adds before looking back down at the Caregiver with a grin, some memories from Prosperity still crystal clear in his head.


"I admit, there's ways to make sure people tend to benefit from my excess energy, might as well make it just so." The Caregiver supposes with a proud little grin between Defender and the Penitent, lifting her wine glass in salute of greeting to the latter. Then after glancing between the pair, her eyes go pensive there from her seated place on the floor near the man in the chair, leaning up from her nuzzling rest against the near leg, "So ah. What are you two inclined to address each other as in here? I guess I've been waiting for the day when someone calls you something else, better as a pinch than a zap if I know it's coming, yes?" field notes has arrived.


"Ain't rightly have any preferences." Penitent continues in that drawl, though a moment is spent afterwards thinking and then she grins, and lets out a bit of a laugh. Slipping the hat from her head, she shakes out her hair and then just sets the hat down beside her. "But seriously. I just ... I told you, I'll answer to any name I've had really."

She does flash a brief smile to the Defender, nodding at his statement but then considering him further. "I'm not sure if you've a name that you prefer over any other. Sometimes it is easier to just go by what we last remember each other as."


It appears as if the Defender has the same feeling as the Penitent when it comes to names, his shoulders shrugging slightly as well, "I answer to any of the names that I've lived through. It's odd, it feels like each life that I've experienced is me, they are all me, impossible it may be. So if someone calls me Anton or Grant, Wolfram or Kinneson, or Pierce... I'd answer without hesitation." There is a slight look of uncertainty in his expressions though as if he is still trying to work it all out in his mind. The Defender does incline his head to the Penitent, "I think that's why I called you Nettie when we went to the island, was out of habit and as you said, it was our most recent life."


The Scholar steps out of one of the anywhere rooms; there's a glance of a concert hall with a piano on the stage just before the door shuts behind him, erasing it. He's dressed casually, in a dark gray pullover and black jeans, and has a portfolio of sheet music in one hand.

He smiles at all the familiar faces, particularly the Defender, whom he knows as Pierce and hasn't come across yet. He's just caught the tail end of what the Defender said, and so addresses him as Sebastian knew him. "Pierce. Eilis said you were here."


"Hmn. Okay." The Caregiver's eyes follow the book back down onto the table near Defender while she listens to him and the Penitent explain, taking a long drink from her wine glass afterwards to drain it. Briefly, her brows knit down and she holds the red liquid in her mouth there for a few heartbeats before actually swallowing. Whatever bother is on her features, though, it erases as the Scholar steps in and addresses the man she sits near, giving him room to shift up with a lean, assuming he wants to rise to greet. She breaks into a soft sigh of content air while watching.


Painstakingly ginger steps carry Melancholic out from the hallway and into the parlor, his movement so slow and uncertain that his entry could easily be missed until he pauses at the piano and lowers his hand to hesitantly play a handful of somber, uncertain notes. It's at the sound of a familiar name that his attention peels up from the instrument and towards those already within the parlor, dark gaze finding familiar faces seated.

"Nettie?" Melancholic, last known as Jonah Hargreave to the others gathered, asks as he starts to make his way towards the group. "Where the hell am I?" he asks, blinking with uncertainty as he turns with recognition to those who were Eilis and Pierce, then towards the emerging Sebastian and the door that... disappears in his wake.


"So I will be any of the three, though I have to admit, I prefer not to be Madison if at all possible." Which shouldn't be a problem for Caregiver, at least! She stretches out on the couch, glancing around as she considers the others. Beaming her smile at the Scholar, she nods briefly. "Hello." Comes the serene greating.

It's when the Melancholic enters the room that she blinks a few times, suddenly rising to her feet. "Jonah! What are you doing here?" She darts over towards him, eyes wide as she kind of just stares at him. "I'm ... so sorry." She says, her voice suddenly small and distressed.


When the Scholar joins them, the Defender can't help but get up from his chair with a grin as the Caregiver gives him space. He is Pierce, but also a bit different than the rugged cowboy that lived through Prosperity. The person here in the Facility has a cleaner edge to him. He's clean shaven, hair cut shorter, and dressed a bit sharper than the western attire. But because of their bond as family with what they lived through, the Defender reaches out with an arm to pull the other man into a quick, brotherly hug. "Sebastian, seems like I can't escape this place if I tried." And then there's Jonah, which the Defender inclines his head in greeting after releasing the Scholar. As for the other man's question on where they are, he looks to the others to see how they would explain it since his own thoughts on this place are still... uncertain at best. The reunion between the Hargreaves though puts any form of answers or explanation at a pause for now.


The Scholar returns the hug, maybe a bit more tightly than he intends. He is Sebastian, if a good dozen or more years on: there's additional strands of white in his unruly, back, curly hair; his face has softened a bit with age; his lankiness is replaced with the solid build of a man in his prime. His eyes are the same mismatched brown and green, though, and that white shock of hair remains, so how could he be anyone else.

"I'm sorry for that, even if I'm also glad to see you." See you up and about, he means; it's in his eyes, if not explicitly stated. Oh, those last memories of Pierce are bittersweet ones indeed.

The Scholar's gaze shifts to the Melancholic as he comes shambling in. He blinks, surprised. "Jonah," he whispers. His expression mirrors the Penitent's tone of voice.


"I realized something the other day when I was talking to Martin. And it's good you're both standing here, maybe, for me to bring it up because it's probably something we all want to alleviate if we can. So after--" The Caregiver looks over at who she knows as Jonah, or well, something like it, stopping her somewhat roundabout telling to the Scholar and the Defender. She looks a little conflicted there for a moment, as if trying to work out the question for herself in a way where she'd be able to answer, which results merely in a push of her tongue against the line of her top teeth and a drop of her lashes to her emptied wine glass. After a push upward from sit, she walks on her knees with little scoots to go refill from the bottle left on the floor in front of the television.


When Penitent rises and darts his way to stare, Melancholic appears mildly confused and indecisive but eventually takes a couple of steps forward to wrap his arms around her. "That..." he starts to reply, face twitching in that rictus of confusion as he releases her and steps back. "That would be... I mean." His brows crease for a second as he struggles to convey his thought. "I don't know where I am, let alone what I'm doing here," he finally comments, taking the question a touch too literally as he blinks at her. He'd last seen Penitent's face after their arrival in New Orleans; she'd last seen his lifeless the next morning. "Is this Hell?" he asks, attention darting back to Scholar at the sound of his name.


Likewise, the Penitent hugs the man that was once her brother. "This is so confusing," she admits after a moment, letting him go in turn and considering him. "Where have you been all this time? Just ... locked up in your room and wondering? That's the worst. And ... I don't know. If it's Hell. Some people have a theory it might be, but I don't believe it really. This is something else entirely." The rest of the room has almost fallen away for her, her attention fixed on the Melancholic.

There's a sigh, and she gestures to the couch. "Thre's a story to be told I guess, and it isn't a quick one in the telling of it. But where we are, well. No one really knows for sure. Some of us are trying to figure that out." Only then does she look around the room to consider the others.


The Defender gives the Scholar an understanding nod of his head, as he was still mentally conscience for six or so days after taking that fateful drink, "There is nothing you have to be sorry about, nothing at all. I can only thank you for being there for Eilis, when I couldn't." He then looks over to the Caregiver, nodding his head as well, as if there are any issues they can iron out, he is willing. However, the question posed by Jonah whether this is Hell or not has the Defender shaking his head, "I don't think so... it's too temperate. What I can say is that no one knows for sure or has the answer to where we are. They may have a theory but that is all it is. Some will say that the lives we've experienced, aren't real, others the very opposite."


The Scholar smiles, ducks his head. "You're welcome. It was our honor to be able to do that for the both of you And to raise your boys." Without realizing it, he falls back to talking like Sebastian did after Prosperity, whe he was two people in one body.

On the subject of hell, he holds up his left hand to show the Melancholic the ring still on it; the one Colorado gave Sebastian when he proposed. Roger Colton's ring. "I don't think I'd have this, if it was Hell. And I agree it's too...comfortable, in the overall, to be Hell. Or of it is, it's no Hell I've ever heard or read of." He grimaces. "Hell would be an easy answer. Unfortunately I don't think this is anything so straightforward."

He lowers his hand, looks askance at Eilis, raises his eyebrows. "What did you want to discuss?"


The relative quiet of the hallway is what draws the Capitalist out from his room. There's no sound of rollerskates or laughing or just overly loud voices. If anything, he always expected to hear the sounds coming from the television, ever since it started playing music videos from the 80's this time around, so that no longer bothers him. On entrance the parlor, while he always seems like he's in some rush and is never really there to make small talk, even as he passes the gathering, he does take note of the faces present if just from out of the corner of his eyes. To those who only know him as Cillian McTavish, he certainly isn't as friendly as the casino hall manager can be.

Dressed more comfortably today, leaving his business suit at home, he wears a somewhat baggy grey sweater on his tall frame and a pair of jeans. Unlike many who wander these halls, he's wearing shoes on his feet, black military style boots to be exact. His hair isn't slicked back the way the Capitalist sometimes wears it, letting the bangs fall into his face somewhat.

Rather than go on with his business without any sort of greeting, the way he tends to do sometimes, he does pause before he enters the kitchen to openly comment, "I'm just grateful for this peace and quiet today." Then he disappears, probably to get his usual cup of joe.


After glancing at her refilled wine glass, The Caregiver takes the emptied bottle to toss with a push to actual walking in her strappy heeled feet, then she picks up her prior embroidery busywork from the floor to put on a side table. While she's flitting around, she offers her glass to Jonah instead of taking out the whole bottle herself, nodding small encouragement with a slight smile and nothing more but that genuine gesture to add. Then she returns to the Defender's side with a drop of her voice to look between him and the Scholar with mild concern, "I want as many memories of the babes as we can say aloud, I think. Because we keep this part. And... what if... the next time, with it already being so foggy and limited... you know, I should have saved this, damnit wine."

There's a moment where she steals a glance over at where Jonah is posted up for an explanation, as if reminded of what she was told with her own waking explanations that makes her visibly uneasy. She mostly keeps it at bay, though. She pulls in a breath, telling Bastian, then, "... I could only tell him about their smell. And names."


"I just woke up in a room," Melancholic doesn't seem quite ready to call it his room. "The door wouldn't open. I'm not sure how long I was there. Then the door opened," he explains quietly. Lifting his left hand, his fingers curl inwards then release -- no longer withered past the point of usefulness. Following Penitent's gaze, he starts to step reticently towards the seating to join the others, though the assorted explanations mostly only aggravate the confused furrowing of his brows. The presentation of the ring still on Sebastian's finger, at least, seems to ease his worried expression after he settles into a seat.

And then Capitalist makes his way through, wearing whatever that amorphously baggy gray thing is. "Cillian?" he comments dryly. The presentation of that wine glass from Eilis brings a more immediate alleviation to that perplexed look plastered on Melancholic's face, which shifts to relieved and then, after he's made the contents of that wine glass disappear, resignation. "How long have you been here?" he asks as he looks to the others in turn.


"I know what you mean," Penny says to the Scholar, nodding her head. "Too much relief for some kind of real idea of eternal torment. Why give us this moment to relax from it all? Though, it's a different sort of torment all on its own. Tedium, and being able to remember what you had. Or almost had. Is that ring really a blessing? I have the ring Cillian gave me, too. I'm pretty sure it's just a reminder of what I don't have." A pause, and she nods to Defender. "But it was all real, I'm sure of it."

Speaking of Cillian, Capitalist comes through right on cue. Huh. Her brows arch up and she peers at him. "Uh huh," she says with that brief grin of hers at his passing comment, shaking her head and looking back to the Melancholic.

Reaching out for that cowboy hat she came in wearing, she just sets it in her lap and considers him. "This is where we end up between, uh, 'Encounters' I guess folk have taken to calling them. Where we forget all about this place and live snippets of other lives. In one of them I was the woman you knew as Anette Hargreave, yes. But I've been other people too. I'm surprised your door wouldn't open though."


"I was never going to have that forever." Indeed, even if Colorado had survived all of the banishings, he'd not have lived more than a handful of years after. If anything, the possession lengthened the time they had together. The Scholar's expression turns wistful. "What we had was strange and odd, but still lovely. I prefer the reminder, the assurance it was, as you say, real. What's harder is the people who aren't here. Olivia, and the children, and..." He stops, sighs. "But I'm lucky. Rado is here, or at least, the man who was him is. And even if he's not only Colorado and I won't remain just Sebastian, we have a way forward."

He gives Pierce and Eilis a small, gentle smile. "Oh, of course. Rado and I don't remember the same things. I think that's because of the possession, we wound up with our own memories." He watches the Capitalist come in, raises a brow at the comment.

"This was my first 'life', if you will," the Scholar says to the Melancholic. "So don't feel you're alone in being disoriented. It took me some time to get myself situated." 'Comfortable' isn't a word he can really use. The Bravo has arrived.


The Caregiver, known to Jonah in Melancholic as Eilis, is wearing a little halter sundress in sunset hues, vibrant with dark hair once more, not at all the ghost shadow of herself either. Much more runway chic than frontier chic, she listens attentively to the others explain to the man and perhaps themselves in turns-- there's a shift of focus away from her own more immediate spoken fears or concerns to both the Scholar and Defender nearby in favor of taking in the more direct conversation matter at hand. Shifting on her heels, she leans in against once-Pierce's side as he stands solid and hale in thoughtful silence, visual attention on the Capitalist for a lingering beat.

Then, piping in after Bastian's commentary, she clarifies for the questioning man she knows as Jonah on her own end, "Mm. Yeah. I thought it was ghosts and demons for a good day or two. Time is funny here, so I don't really... know how long."


In passing, the Capitalist had caught sight of Jonah Hargreave, not recalling having ever seen the man here in the Facility before today. So when he hears that somewhat familiar voice speaking one of the names that he's gone by, while it doesn't keep him from his business, he comes to understand what is going on at the moment, or what the conversation at hand is.

The delicious smell of french fries may alert those in the parlor to what the man had ordered, along with his cup of cappuccino. He obviously had a craving for fries without the burger. So with his plate and cup in hand, he returns to the parlor and only then does he notices that Sebastian Munson was here as well. "Welcome to your new life them." He says in wry jest of their situation from here on out, though it's the Melancholic who he looks to first, making his way towards the seating area, but not taking a seat himself, "You just came out of your room right now? I remember that you died, after we'd left Prosperity." That's not an easy thing to hear, for sure, but its what happened. "How long were you trapped in your room for?" He then sets his coffee down on a nearby table, so that he can pop a lengthy fry into his mouth.


Idly toying with the empty wine glass between his hands, the explanations provided don't seem to do Melancholic much good in bringing him any understanding of their situation, but he seems to simply accept things as they are before him and as they're presented by the people he'd known before.

Finally making some effort to put the pieces together, he supposes: "So this is some sort of... limbo? Between lives?" he supposes, glancing from Scholar to Penitent for confirmation after aiming a flickering smile of gratitude at Caregiver for the wine. He sets the glass aside as he settles into the chair, then brings his hand up to scratch thoughtfully at his jaw.

The mention of his death by Capitalist draws his attention but doesn't seem to surprise him -- he'd been surprised he'd survived as long as he had, after all. "Did we all die?" he wonders to the man he'd last known as Cillian McTavish. "I couldn't say how long I was in the room. After a while it all kind of blurred together. I kept myself busy -- my sketchbook was on the floor."


It's not infrequent that the Bravo stays in her room, or disappears for a whole day into the magical rooms. But this time she's wandered out into the parlor when there were others present, a soft whistle leading the way down the hallway full of doors.

There is a comfortable casualness to what she's wearing, a sign that she might just not have any plans to go anywhere in particular or do anything in particular. A pair of black jeans are worn with boots, a white t-shirt and a black leather jacket. Is there a need for a jacket around here? Not really. But it completes the look, and sometimes that is the most important thing. Clothes can be armor.

The blonde wanders in, pauses, takes stock of those present, and then she just slides right on through to go fetch herself something from the dispinsers.


"Maybe not, but yeah. But I had a life. I even know that I had a daughter, though I can't quite ... remember her. Which is probably for the best, that I can't remember her so well, if we're going to be here anyway." Echoing the Scholar's wistful expression, Penny shakes her head. "My third life." She says, leaning back, toying with the black cowboy hat in her hands, just fidgeting with it really, until her attention is drawn by the scent of those fries.

With that, she gets up. "Mmm, that's made me hungry." She says, reverting to her vaguely innocent and serene like expression. "Yeah, some kind of between lives. And no, we didn't all die. But the lives some of us had started to make were snatched away from us all the same." She looks sorrowfully at the Melancholic, purching that cowboy hat upon her head again as she gets up to her feet. "I'll be right back!" She says as she makes her way to the dispensary also.


The Scholar nods at the Melancholic. "It seems to be, yes. A kind of, liminal space, of some sort. Here we can remember a portion of the lives we lead. Not all of them, and according to the others," his eyes flick from the Capitalist to the Defender to the Penitent, "the amount of time we can truly recall varies. The rest is just ideas, like someone told you it, rather than you lived it." He pulls another face about that. How dare he not remember raising the boys to adulthood. But as the Penititent said, that might also be for the best.

"I did die, eventually, though it was some years later. I think the strain of the possession became too much after a time. I don't really remember it." The Scholar shrugs at that. His mouth twitches in wry amusement. "If Colorado hadn't been here to convince me it was alright, I'd have hidden in my room too. It's full of books, and since we don't seem to be able to starve..."

He dips his head in a greeting to the Bravo, whom he's only seen briefly in passing.


You can't eat just one fry, so after he's had a taste of the first, he's already chewing on the second and so forth. The Capitalist doesn't eat them all in one go, of course, he's had a craving for coffee for an hour or so as it is, or that would be his guess, as it's difficult to have a sense of time in this place.

There's this spark of something in the Capitalist's eyes when he sees the Penitent wearing the cowboy hat, enough to turn his head at least when she wanders pass him to the dispensary where the Bravo was also headed to. Though he can't help but dwell on the woman's words, adding to them, "I've come to believe that those are the worst endings to these stories, these lives. Not being given an entire lifetime. Even when we survive, before we reach our own eventual deaths, we're back here. It's like there's no winning when we can't see through the fruits of our labor, so to speak. Yes, there was happiness and bliss and all of that," He's talking about Cillian's life after Prosperity, "And then it abruptly ends." Setting his plate of fries down, he then picks up his cup of coffee, looking all the more contemplative now, "Then I suppose, the same could be said for everyone who died prematurely, before they naturally would have. Their own futures cut short." With a tilt of his head, he's trying to remember how long after Prosperity he can remember. "At the very least, it was close to a year, not long after..." A pause, "the baby was born."


"I died in childbirth a few months after Prosperity. But I think regardless of when in the life after we passed on, we all kind of started waking up here around the same rough time. Again, it's hard to tell. Because time. Mm." The Caregiver explains to Jonah in her own small brief with bared shoulders rising with their own lift and subsequent fall. After exhaling a puff of air, she rakes a hand back through her hair and doesn't seem to have a lot more to add, her expressive features drawn into a mildly bothered expression. It lingers some before she puts her cheek in against the side of Defender's shirt and smiles some at the Scholar nearby, putting a hand out to briefly touch in reach at dusting touch against the latter man's hand.


Remaining in his chair, Melancholic silently absorbs the others' explanations, blinking and nodding at times and looking perplexed as ever at others. The blonde Bravo's passage through the parlor briefly draws his attention and his inability to place her face elicits a fresh furrowing of his brows and Capitalist's mention of a baby -- presumably his own nephew or niece -- conjures the faintest of smiles which only withers, as Jonah Hargreave's smiles had been wont to do, at the understanding of Capitalist's loss of that life.

After a sorrowful glance at Caregiver at the mention of her own death, Melancholic latches onto an odd detail of Scholar's provision: "Your room is full of books?" The words come equal parts envious and aggrieved, with perhaps a dash of awe. "Mine," he laments, "is dark and empty. Except for my sketchbook."


This is probably the world's strangest, most awkward conversation to walk back in on. People talking about babies. The look on Bravo's face kind of says it all, her brows lifted upwards, eyes slightly wide in that 'omg should I leave' kind of way.

But, well. She doesn't. Instead she raises her cup up to take a slow sip off her own coffee. Which appears to be the only thing she got was a giant fishbowl sized mug of plain old black coffee.

After a suitable amount of time swallowing that precious liquid she lowers the cup, clearing her throat, "While I've got you all here..." She begins, the words heavy, full of some sort of solemn purpose to them. "I just want to say that..." She pauses, considering something, head tilting to the left before she shakes it, "Anyways, no. Hi. Heavy talk, huh?"


Coming from out of the dispensary behind Bravo, Penny slips around here with a brief smile for the woman, returning to her place on the couch. Her outfit is the same as ever, but for the black cowboy hat she found somwhere. She settles in, picking up the threads of conversation once again. "Dark and empty?" She wonders on the Melancholic's room. "If you were to describe it as a type of room, what would you call it?" She just asks that possibly strange question of her other once-brother.

She does glance back at Bravo, nodding. "Heavy, yeah. It seems that another brother of mine," a gesture to the Melancholic, "Has been here all along but was stuck in his room? Which is odd. Anyway this is ... or was, Jonah. Jonah, this is uh. The Actress is the best we've got so far. She wasn't in Prosperity though." She then stares at the Melancholic further. "I'm really sorry that I seriously thought about killing you, Jonah."


The Scholar catches the Caregiver's hand, gives her fingers a small squeeze in shared lament for the children the three of them no longer have except as vague memories. He nods at the Capitalist and Caregiver's comments in turn. "It seems like only those who die before the end of our true memories come here immediately after their passing. The rest of us, we all arrive together," he cuts a glance at the Melancholic, "more or less, if we've lived past some indeterminant time."

His eyes widen at the amount of coffee the Bravo has. He lifts a shoulder in reluctant acknowledgment of the weight of their topic. It can't be helped when a 'new' person (relatively speaking) shows up.

Looking slightly abashed at the Melancholic's reaction, the Scholar says, "Ah, yes, and numerous other things too. Academic journals, field notebooks, scrolls, parchment even..." He shakes his head. "I don't think I'm through a tenth of it yet. Probably nothing we couldn't get from--" he raises his chin at the parlor's library, "--but maybe some of it's unique to me." He blinks. "Oh, but you haven't seen that yet. On those shelves is anything you could want to read." His expression turns thoughtful, and he taps his chin, eyeing the shelves. "I wonder..."


The Capitalist isn't here to make anyone feel bad, not today, at least, and not the Melancholic. So gauging the man's expression, the conversation at hand stirring up his own good, wonderful memories... memories that still leave a part of him feeling empty, he decides not to speak any further about what happened after Prosperity. Now that it's been brought back up again, he can't shake this urge to do everything that he could to remember what his daughter looked like. Cillian McTavish had always wanted to start a family of his own.

Penitent's apology to her brother isn't something that he'd want to touch upon either, for it's an awkward topic, one that has him taking another sip of cappuccinno, before slipping two lengths of crispy golden fries into his mouth. "What would be interesting," He says i a louder tone, "would be to take a tour of everyone's rooms. See what they're like inside." This is followed by another sip from his mug, "Your room, I figured, was some kind of reflection to who you really are."


"Mm, yeah. Happens sometimes. And I don't think so many of us have all been together in the same room for a while, which... calls to mind other gatherings of a kind." The Caregiver comments to the Bravo's commentary and greeting with something like apology, hand falling out of her hair as her other is squeezed by the Scholar. She seems eased out of whatever sticking bother was upon her earlier, at least for the time being, and as he turns eyes to the books to make offer to the Melancholic, she considers the Capitalist's suggestion with a vaguely torn expression.

After a moment, she tells the Melancholic with offer, "I can get you something stronger to drink if you want. Anything you want, really, which is a weird thing too, but you name it and I'll find it for you." She pauses, glancing with squint toward the dispensary, "... assuming I um... I'll probably find it." Then she breaks away to point at the flatscreen television which is being drowned out by conversation as it plays semi-low with the 80's videos, "And look! Pictures in a box." Her enthusiasm for the television probably isn't shared by many of the others standing around.


There's a brief instant within which the dark-haired and -eyed man considers the odd question posed by his former sister, before he cedes to it and starts to answer -- the question is hardly the strangest thing about the situation. "It's..." Melancholic trails off as he searches for a word that encapsulates the nature of his room. It doesn't take him all that long to decide, "Sad." After Penitent's rendered an introduction of sorts between him and Bravo, the man lifts his hand and his lips flicker as if to smile but the expression falters and fails before it fully forms -- like room, like occupant.

"Poetry?" Melancholic supplies a touch hopefully at Scholar's mention of the range of texts available both here in the parlor and the Scholar's own present abode, before turning gravely to Penitent at her apology. His head shakes and his hand extends to give hers a squeeze before withdrawing. "Don't be. You didn't. And even if you had, I would have deserved it. Besides, I was dying either way."

When Caregiver addresses him with the offer of another beverage, he initially looks incredulous but ultimately seems to accept the claim. "Whiskey?" he asks hopefully. Then there's a pause at the pictures in a box. His eyes turn to stare at it and only grow all the more incredulous. "I suppose that makes me sad," he finally concurs with Capitalist's mention of the connection between the rooms and their occupants, sounding entirely unsurprised.


"You're welcome to come to my room any time you want, C." Bravo promptly states after Capitalist mentions wanting to tour everyone's room. She takes another sip from her coffee before she starts to move towards Penny on the couch in search of a place to sit.

"Nice to meet you, Jonah." She states, finding her manners somewhere to finally answer. The other two, Scholar and Caregiver, both also receive smiles of greeting as she finds a place to safely put her coffee, "This place is my first experience, my memories are only from the moment I woke up here to this moment right now." As she finds herself a place to sit, "Would you three be willing to talk to me, in depth, about your experiences?" She glances between Scholar and Caregiver, then to Melancholic, "I'm working on a bit of a project, and it'd be really helpful if I could talk to you all."


Taking a bite from her toasted sandwich, the Penitent shakes her head, overcome by this need to apologise. "No, I'll always be sorry for it." She says sadly, "I'm not sure anyone deserves that." After a moment, she scoots over just a little to make room for Bravo, peering at her from beneath the brim of that hat. She's just thoughtful for a moment as she listens, letting out a soft sigh afterwards.

"Seeing everyone's room could be good, yes. Something about the room and those symbols on the door, they mean something. And having been through this show a few times, certain patterns seem to be emerging even in just who we are, before we even think about reoccuring connections." She nods slowly, another bite from her sandwich as she chews thoughtfully. "Maybe you are sad. Do you know what your symbol on the door is?" This, back to Melancholic.


"Plenty of poetry," the Scholar confirms. He moves to the shelves, scanning them, pulls down a copy of Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul, brings it over to the Melancholic. Against all odds, it looks to be a copy bound by Blake himself. "Which makes me wonder if things like..." He gestures vaguely, "Hypatia's Astronomical Canon are in there. Maybe if I looked long enough."

He glances to the TV when the Caregiver mentions it, studies it for a spell. He's read plenty about it at this point; enough to know that they're only being shown a fraction of what it could be displaying, and that has him wondering. (But what doesn't.)

He nods at the Capitalist. "Though, aside from the bookshelves, there's not much to see in mine." He turns that same easy agreement on the Bravo. "I'd be happy to. Of course, I've only had the one life, and this is my first time here. I didn't arrive here without memories, as you did."

He watches Penitent as she speaks, thinking of how the Coward has described himself so succinctly. His mouth flattens. Absently, he says, "Some of us might not want to know what it means, though."


"I... suppose so. If I seem reticent, it's... the content, not me avoiding a certain... openness about it." The Caregiver considers the Bravo's inquiry for a longer spell than the Scholar, letting him answer first. She lifts a finger to the Melancholic with a tiny flash of a grin at his hopeful wondering on whiskey and poetry, signifying her intent to take care of the other facet of settling him in with small comforts. After a pause in her answer, she explains at more length, "It is odd to hear it out loud, it sounds absolutely... well. Yes." She steals a look up at Defender standing nearby with distraction, then she smiles while announcing, "Going to run and get... a thing... for..."

Eventually, and fairly quick with a triumphant kind of nature to it, the brunette comes out with whiskey and a short tumbler glass for pouring doubles into. It's a premium blend, "You won't be hungover either. Small things, mm?" She makes the low murmur while pouring for the Melancholic.


The Capitalist has barely a clue as to most of what the Scholar says. Okay, he has no clue to anything that the Scholar says. Poetry is nowhere close to being his forte. When the television was pointed out, the Caregiver obviously knows the Capitalist's take on the picture box, though he was probably just giving her a hard time at the moment. An easy grin is flashed over to the Bravo now, finding humor in her invitation, just as he's biting off half of another fry, "I'll try to remember that... neighbor."

It's to the rest that he speaks to now, though he probably should have taken more care to his words, only having just heard the state of Jonah's room. "Learning more about the symbols, the contents and design of our rooms, they may give us more insight, if not to who we are, then to who our Overseers who whoever placed us here, how they see us." There's this shrug of his shoulders, arms loosely crossed before him, "It's something to do and if we can't find our way out immediately, we may as well learn more about ourselves and this place." He's chewing on another fry now, "There are a few of us who have been taking notes either of our past lives and memories or things that we've learned about each other here."

When the Caregiver speaks up again, he notes the hesitation in her tone, something that makes him incredibly curious now. "Which room is yours?" He's obviously talking about which door symbol belongs to her.


"I wanted you to kill me, at the time," Melancholic reveals to Penitent, eyes on the television though the pensive expression suggests his mind is another place entirely. "It would've been easier, really," he admits. "Easier than..." There's a lengthy pause, and his eyes slowly peel away from the television to turn towards his former sister with a sudden snap to the here and now. "Senni?" the name comes hopefully from his lips.

Before he can return to any sort of television-induced reverie, Scholar presents him with Blake's work which redirects Melancholic's focus onto the text after a grateful nod to the source. His fingers caress and stroke the volume's cover and binding, with awe evident in his eyes as they hover over it.

When Caregiver arrives to couple the volume of poetry with that bottle of whiskey, and even reveals that its consumption will come without cost, he shows little restraint or impulse control in consuming the contents, which disappear with as much ease as the wine had previously. "Thank you," he extends raspily to both Caregiver and Scholar. "I didn't look at the front of the door," he admits to Penitent and Capitalist.


"Wonderful, I'd appreciate it." Bravo replies to Scholar, and then also to Caregiver, "I can't promise the answers will be easy, but I think trying to gather all the information together, even those who haven't had multiple lives, is...really an important step forward. I might never figure out any connections." She glances at Penny, adding, "Or patterns. But maybe I will."

She leans over, resting her shoulder lightly against Penny's for a brief moment, a hand moving to give her knee a squeeze before she straightens back up. A smile is flashed towards Capitalist, "I bet you'll do just fine remembering that. And it won't be a far trip to come by, either. Neighbor."


"Believe me, I can relate to not wanting to find the answers." Penitent says to the Scholar, shaking her head. "My first time through here, I didn't want to think about it too hard. Much to the frustration of some," she peers briefly in Capitalist's direction, but then shrugs her shoulders. "But now? Now I think it'd be better to know." She nods vaguely at that statement, finishing up her sandwich in a few more bites.

She does glance back at Melancholic, shaking her head. "It doesn't matter ... I just. I'm sorry." There's a numb looking expression there, followed up with a: "Senni? She's here too, somewhere. I haven't seen her much, but I've seen her. Angeline and Lupe, too. Those two have been here for as long as we can remember, too. And next time you find yourself in the room, check the door image for us?"

Settling her plate down, she glances back over at the leaning from Bravo, the touch of that hand upon her knee. Adjusting the hat, she glances between her and the Capitalist, a vaguely amused and crooked smile creasing at the corner of her mouth as they talk about 'visits'. "Maybe you will," she agrees with Bravo.


The Scholar gives the Penitent a brief, grateful smile for her understanding in that regard. He tells Jonah, "The shelves aren't the least of it. There's two rooms--I came out of one, earlier, if you saw--they can become anywhere you want them to be. No people or animals in them, but otherwise, if you can imagine it, the room will become it." A brief lift of his brows. "And the machines that make the food and drink seem to operate in a similar fashion. If you can describe it, they can create it."

He nods at the Bravo. "I had a bit of an odd end of my life, after Prosperity, so it would be helpful if you spoke to the Coward. We shared a body, and I think our memories wound up split. There might be something useful to examine in that."


"It's... right next to yours too, actually. I suppose I could have mentioned that one of these times, but... distractions, I suppose." The Caregiver smiles some to Bravo and the words before she answers the Capitalist. There's a pause, though, for slightly marveled glance over Jonah not ravaged by consumption while she watches him down the whiskey she brings. Then shifting her weight on her heeled feet, she explains at a little more length after she's blinked off her survey distraction of the Melancholic. "The woman holding the human heart that's... both blooming flowers and wrapped with vines."


"Connections are more difficult to figure out, especially with how they change," The Capitalist says to the Bravo, his attention returning to her again after hearing that teasing tone that she uses. "Before Maata disappeared from this place, I saw her in Prosperity as that new married in Munson." That gaze moves from Bravo to the Scholar now, "Unlike the other memories that I've had," He starts with a shake of his head, "Our connection and relationship would be completely different from anything that I'd had before. To be honest, I don't think I would have really gotten to know her, the way I did before. And then she was gone. Gone from Prosperity and gone from..." There's this deep crease to his brow now as he tries to sort these facts in mind. "She disappeared after our relationship had changed. Not that I think that has anything to do with it." The last sentence is said in a rush.

At the Caregiver's revelation, all that the Capitalist can do is blink. "I guess that makes sense. I've been wondering who actually resided there, but with some symbols changing and others fading from doors altogether... and with all the new faces, it's hard to determine which door belongs to which face."

This talk of sharing a body with someone seems to pique his interest. He recalls it happening in Prosperity, most notably for him, with his cousin taking over Jonah's body. "I never got a chance to ask much about it, but, uh... how did that feel. For either of you?"


Relief washes over Melancholic's face at the revelation that his other sisters are also present, and his head dips in assent at Penitent's suggestion he take a look the next time he find himself in the room. "I will," he agrees.

With the heavier matters out of the way, whiskey down the hatch, and after having taken a second to flash another grateful smile at Caregiver, the man's dark eyes flick back to Bravo apologetically. "I'd be happy to tell you whatever you'd like to know," he belatedly agrees, though the prospect of him being happy to tell it seems dubious at best.

The question Capitalist raises draws his attention with a faint creasing of his brows as he considers it, lips thinning as he calls on his memory of the event and weighs his thoughts before answering: "It was like I wasn't there. Or maybe I was, but not in my body? At the time I had some feeling of what had happened when Nolan had the reins..." There's a pause, before he adds: "But thinking back I can't really recall any of it -- not until he left."


"I've met him....I'll ask him about that." Bravo replies, giving Scholar a quick smile for the tid bit of information before she reaches for the coffee once more, "I don't know if there will be anything to find, but..." She shrugs, perfectly willing to work on the documentation even if it goes no where for her.

She takes a careful sip of the coffee, her hands curling around the cup as she settles back, eyes shifting over towards Capitalist when he mentions that Maata vanished after their relationship changed. She files that little bit of information away for later thought and consideration, eyes and focus then shifting back towards the pair that are being asked about how body sharing felt.

When Melancholic agrees to tell her things she smiles, "Thanks." She does sound sincere about that, though, eyes shifting from person to person before she makes the offer, "When you're ready to come talk, any of you, just...come by my room?" She points towards Capitalist, "It's next to his, the door with the woman strutting across it, complete with an audience." Which seems fitting for the moniker she's somehow aquired.


Eyeing that expression of relief, Penny just shrugs her shoulders. "I don't know if it's better or worse that they're here. But it is nice to be able to see them again." She replies with a slow nod of her head, speaking of the rest of the once-Hargreaves. She glances back and forth at the various threads of conversation, leaning back.

"Other people have vanished too. You know what I think is the most interesting thing that might ... reveal something?" She glances to Capitalist at this. "We have to talk to Angeline. To figure out what she saw when she died. Glenn got her to come back to us, but ... surely there's something there? It's like Ramona, when she shut herself off, she said she was here. Until she was reactivated on the Noc. But Angeline was dead so briefly, I don't know. That, and there's gotta be something to what the Devil said. And the fact he was a bartender."


The Scholar nods to the Bravo. "I will. And if I forget," he says this like he's sure it will happen, "my room has the man reading, with all the books around him. Feel free to knock."

"That's something we all have to bear in mind," the Scholar murmurs, meeting the Capitalist's look with one of his own. "That in one life, we might be bitter enemies, and in another, siblings. We have to sort out a way to reconcile those things."

He nods at the Penitent, says, "Colorado couldn't describe it to me, when he possessed me. He knew he'd gone somewhere, and that it wasn't like anything described as Heaven or Hell or limbo, but that was the most he could say."

He tilts his head, curious about how the Melancholic's description is markedly different than his. Though perhaps the reason for that is obvious. He falls quiet for a spell, picking through his memories of the time in the wake of Mo's banishment with care. Unlike things which came later, these he can remember with stunning clarity. "It was disorienting at first. Awkward, and...heavy. It was almost like in a dream, where I was watching, and I could even think and call out, and Colorado could hear me. Yet, my body wasn't mine." He snorts a laugh, recalls a particularly memorable argument in which Colorado took over so he could yell at Caleb. "It took us some practice, but eventually we sorted out how to trade off who was in control." He smiles to remember all of this, despite how he's describing it. "It was better than losing him. And..." He sighs. "I wouldn't have survived, I think, after Igor, if he hadn't been with me. Something that banishment did to me was too much. But he held me together."


The Caregiver lapses into silence with a return to wandering around while listening, this time making a pass to pick up any leftover dishes or cups needlessly. She seems to be needing the outlet of picking up and flitting around while listening with a likewise keen attention to the conversation. Eventually, though, she stills again with distraction while listening, perching in lean against the arm of Defender's chair with a leg balanced out. Her eyes play over the others in turns while they speak or take their own time to listen, quietly observing as she plays with the cross necklace worn in dangle from her neck.


"I would hope that they were in a better place than we are now." The Capitalist says in response to the Penitent's words, "But of course, we can't be sure. There's an idea that came up that there were other holding cells like this ours. One where those who don't show up here reside in a similar fashion to us, but with their own lives crossing more frequently to one another." Finishing the last of his cooled down coffee, another thought enters his mind, "Or they could be working for the corporation that's keeping us here. Almost like paid actors so that their project isn't a flop when these worlds that we wake up in appear empty. So these extras are there to pad the fantasy." But even he knows that that would be a hell of a lot of extras as many don't show up here. He continues, "What if the worlds that we can create in those mystery rooms, what if they are the sets with us as the actors and the extras and... administrators," He's talking about the familiar baddies that tend to show up more than once, "keep these fantasies, these dreams running for whatever reason. It's a thought."

He can't help but be intrigued by both explanations given when Scholar and Melancholic relay their own thoughts and memories of being possessed by friend and lovers alike. "As strange as this may sound, I almost wished I'd had that experience." His gaze flickers to the Melancholic again, "But whatever happened, I could sense Nolan within you and that was enough to give me the strength that I needed."


"Like the ones you've seen a few times in the stories, but never here." Bravo was there for that conversation, and does recall some of it, "It's still a pretty good idea, that there are other groups, other hallways. Maybe..."

She trails off for a moment, letting her mind wander through that thought for a little while before she shakes her head, "Has anyone ever appeared in the stories, not here...then later on showed up here?" She sits up straighter, leaning forward, her elbows on her knees, "That sounds super confusing now that I've said it out loud, but I hope it makes sense."


"Interesting." Penny comments vaguely on the relaying of experiences in possession by Melancholic and Scholar both, nodding vaguely. "And I don't know, Cillian," she says, reverting to that name out of a casual ease. "If whoever or whatever has done this to us has this kind of power, to wipe out our memories and literally move us through time, or least the perception of it -- look at what they can do with those rooms," a gesture to the anywhere rooms. "Why would they need to have anyone work for them to keep the illusion going when we're out there, living in the moment? I think another holding place like this one is more likely. Though it doesn't explain the Devil, and what he said. But if he was part of the fantasy, wouldn't they watch them to make sure something like what the Devil said wouldn't be said?"

Half turning, she considers Bravo's words. "It's hard to say, honestly," she offers a small apologetic smile. "Because what's stopping someone from just hiding in their room the whole time? I know some were here for the Island, and the Noc, but didn't come out to see us all or this place properly until the second time through."


"Another holding area does seem more likely," the Scholar agrees. "If we assume this is some kind of...experiment that's being observed, maybe an examination of interactions, it would make sense to separate everyone into groups. Cohorts, if you will. So just as we're wondering where Nahimana, or Addie have gone, so they could be in another place, wondering where we are." It's both comforting and not; comforting, to know they might still be out there, not, because who could wish the situation on anyone.

He considers what the Capitalist has said. "I must admit, it was...unique, and I can't blame anyone for wishing to experience it for themselves."

He admits to the Penitent, "Since I'd have done it myself, I'm sure others have." Actually, he knows others have, but he doesn't want to name names. "We may not be able to draw concusions from when someone joins us, except for what memories they have, or," he raises a brow at the Bravo, "don't. That, at least, gives us some point of reference."


It's strange to hear 'Nahimana' uttered at all, but it does help to refresh the Capitalist's memory of the native woman's name as Cillian never quite had it memorized. This does bring back to memory the man that Nahimana was with in Prosperity, something which puts him into a dark mood, if only briefly, as he feels he's been forced to picture Victor's face... no Gabriel Munson's face in his mind.

With everyone else's agreement that there is possibly another holding cell somewhere and when the Scholar mentions that Nahimana and Addie may be wondering where /they/ are now, this does distress the Capitalist a tad. He worries now that Maata is somewhere, lost, and wondering where he is.

The dark cast over his eyes due to thinking about Victor is chased away by this look of concern. "I... I want to write all of this down before I forget any of it." He says, making an excuse for himself. "If anyone wants to kick off this tour of rooms, let me know. You know where to find me." And in case some people don't know which is his room, he states, before he sets off towards the long hallway, "The man counting coins."


"Maybe." Bravo agrees, regarding the rooms and other people and if they are wondering where everyone else is. "But why are there some like me?" She wonders, her hands spreading out to the side, "I mean, none of you remember me...I was never there and just...don't remember? Was I somewhere else, another set of rooms like this before I was here?" She then gets up, hands tucking into the pockets of her jacket, glancing towards Capitalist when he beats a hasty exit. "What if...what if we DO change hallways, but they wipe our memories before hand?"

Which, this thought makes her start pacing, circling around the couch as she starts to think about it, and just listing off ideas, scary, frightening ideas. "I mean, what if there are a bunch of stories that you all weren't in, but I was and...and then when they sent me here, they took all those memories away? Are there people looking for me? Someone...someone missing me?" This is accompanied by a hand that is flung after Capitalist as though to say 'like that'.


"Further to that, if we were just all playing a part, perhaps I could believe that, except for the fact that I feel it so strongly here. That need to ..." Penny considers the words for the moment, and settles on, "Atone. Where you have that reoccuring theme of needing to achieve something, make your life mean something. Even here." This last to Capitalist, and she nods her head thoughtfully as he gets up. She might have a fair idea of what's going through his mind in regards to the name 'Nahimana' being spoken.

There's a soft sigh as he retreats back down the hall of rooms, shaking her head a little and leaning back thoughtfully, adjusting the hat on her head to shade her eyes somewhat as she stares across the way at nothing in particular. "This all just makes me hurt. You see why a lot of people don't bother?" Whoever she's saying that too is unclear, but there's a touch of bitterness to it. "What if there are? What if Lupe's right, and 'they' can just create people of any particular type, and erase them just as quickly? What if there really was no 'before'? What if I was put here to need to feel guilt, and he was put here to need to achieve and build and ... count his successes, his money." She shrugs, sounding rather defeated.


For his part, Melancholic has been quiet for some time, lingering uselessly in his seat with a contemplative expression and his eyes on the book that Scholar had been so kind to bring him. Though he fiddles with the pages, it's clear that he continues listening to the conversation, though he contributes little to nothing of his own. His visage darkens with the turns, and his eyes swivel to track Capitalist's egress as he makes for the hallway.

When Bravo speaks up, his lips tighten for a second, and it's only after she finishes that he speaks, quietly: "Does it matter? If you can't remember, if there's no way for you to remember, is there anything to be done about it?" There's a lengthy pause as he shifts in his seat. "It seems to me there's not much to be had from agonizing over things that are far and beyond outside of our control," he opines. "I love agonizing as much as the next person, and more than most, but it doesn't seem likely to get us anywhere. We just keep doing our best. Aside from that, whatever happens will happen." Evidently he and Penitent are on the same page of defeatism.


The Caregiver continues to watch and listen with a speculative, vaguely bothered expression the whole of the while, hand shifting from pendant captive at play between fingers. It moves to fidget at her dress hem instead with flip and bend, eyes pensive as she doesn't make comment on all the potentials and possibilities. Her eyes follow the Capitalist down the hall for a tick of increasing bother before they swap back to the conversation at hand.


The Scholar winces, not having anticipated that sort of reaction to mentioning Nahimana (as he knows her) directly. He sighs, rubs at his eyes. "It's true, there's not much use to worrying about that which we can't prove and which would only make us feel worse until we knew--and would knowing help, anyways?" He shakes his head. "Gathering information is useful, and coming up with ways to cope with what we feel after we experience one of these 'lives' is, but too much speculation may be more harmful than good." Or so he's been telling himself every time that gnawing worry of where he and others (especially Colorado) will stand after their next 'life' rears its ugly head to take a bite out of him.

In that vein, and looking down the hall after Cillian, he notes, "It may well be our energies are best devoted to sorting out how to keep ourselves together. I think some of these lives will gouge holes in us, and it'll be up to us to sort out how to live with that."


There is a pause in the pacing, and Bravo glances at Penny, brows furrowing just a fraction. For some reason her brand of defeatism just seems to make her very sad for some reason. "We don't know that is what is going on, and we don't know it isn't. But that doesn't mean we should just...not ask the questions. Even if they are scary, or painful questions to ask."

There is a shake of her head before she moves to pick up her coffee, holding it in one hand before she glances at Melancholic, "Of course it matters, because if that were the truth...that I was somewhere else, like this, and then moved, it means those that vanished here might be as well. Just not remembering anyone. That matters...Just because I can't do anything doesn't mean that it doesn't matter, or that there might not be like...some reason behind it. Why would we have been moved? Maybe it's the key to getting out of here."

When the Scholar speaks up she glances at him, a strangely relieved expression crossing her face, "I think you're right...We need to figure out some way to like...remain together. And whole. Without letting anything from these lives break us apart. Not that I've uh...had any of that yet, but I don't want to lose people."


"It matters." Penny says in response to the Melancholic. "Maybe in different ways for each of us, but it matters. I just feel so powerless, and I can't even seem to help the people I care about when it comes to dealing with these things. Because losing people seems to be happening no matter how hard I try to keep things together." She looks up at Bravo, sorrow in her gaze. "It's not the questions themselves that worry me." She offers in a quiet voice. "There's just no answers, and the next thing is holding onto each other, and I can't."


"The existence of others who were, but are no longer, with us could just be fabricated memories like the others, though, couldn't they?" the Melancholic points out languidly to the Bravo with a lethargic blink. "Why should we trust our own memories and experiences when they are, evidently, manipulable?"

After posing that question, his shoulders shift slightly as he looks to Scholar. "It would seem to me that the course you describe is just living. Life tears at our hearts and we do what we can to fill the holes that it makes for as long as we can, and then it's over. That's all there is for us to do, and that's all there ever will be -- or has been. All we can do is make the most of the reality in front of us, as it appears before us." There's a pause as he looks sorrowfully at his emptied whiskey glass. "And preferably as drunkenly as possible."


There's a downward twitch of Caregiver's brows at the 'can't' bit from the Penitent, then she steals a glance of unspoken fear down at Defender where he too sits in observing silence. Her eyes switch to the Scholar next and then Jonah and the Bravo in turns. Then finally she breaks her silence to say, "I think people should count this life too. The one that keeps going. It should go in the count too." She pauses and glances down at her shoes with frustration, as if trying to get out more than she's actually specifically saying, "I notice most tend to think of this state of being as something else, but it's not. It's still life. We're still making decisions here that matter."


"In the face of an untenable situation, isn't living the greatest form of defiance?" the Scholar counters, brows up. "And though I might be describing living, we can't deny that the existences we're leading here are well outside what we would consider normal within these 'Encounters'. We know--if nothing else, through the memories our lives gives--what to expect, and this is," he holds up his hands, "demonstrably not it. So 'living' isn't as simple as it might be otherwise, in fact it presents a terrible challenge."

He nods at the Caregiver. "Precisely. If this is the state that connects the rest, it's here we have as much agency as we ever will. I had no choice to be Sebastian; I had no say in what he did. But here, I can control my decisions. So I should." He gives the Penitent a sympathetic look. "We can't do anything about the people who don't come back. It's true. Bu we can do something about those who do--how we treat them, how we interact for them, how we love them."


There is a frown when Penny mentions that she can't. A very big frown, in fact, and she moves towards her, dropping back down onto the couch before she leans in to give her an unasked for hug. While she's holding onto Penny, though, she points out to Caregiver, "I count this life...it's the only one I have." Which honestly bleeds right into the response she seems to have for Melancholic, "Of course they can't be trusted, but they can't be...not trusted either. That's why you have to question everything."


"I don't discount this life. And if we can't trust our own memories even here, there's there's really no point to anything. All I know is how I feel." Penny says in a strained tone to both Caregiver and Melancholic, managing to get out a little laugh that isn't quite a laugh. There's no mirth to it at all, as it comes at Scholar's statement. "Living in the face of an untenable situation. That was Anette's motto, her plan to not go to Hell was to just damn well live."

When that hug comes, she just kind of sits there a moment, shaking her head at Scholar. "I'm not talking about the people who've vanished." She says quietly, and then is suddenly clutching onto Bravo's arm. "He feels more distant than ever later, after everything, he's just slipping away."


"Then maybe how you feel is all that really matters," Melancholic supposes to Penitent after nodding in apparent agreement with Scholar's rejoinders. "Life itself, it seems to me, is a sort of untenable situation, and persisting regardless is the greatest form of defiance."

When he pushes up to a less than steady footing, Melancholic pauses to place his hand to Penitent's shoulder as much to support himself as to comfort. "For what it's worth, I rather like -- liked -- Anette Hargreave. She was brave, and seeing her stand up and fight for life in the face of everything made me want to be brave, too." And then he pushes off to wander towards the hallway.


Moving her head into a little nod at the Penitent's last words, the Caregiver breathes out a small sigh to herself and glances down along the hallway. Then after a twitch of her brows again with subtle frown, she pushes out of her lean on the chair to leave Defender to linger or go crash out. She murmurs a small excuse me as she goes, "Excuse me..."