Log:The Simple Sorcery Of A Name

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The Simple Sorcery Of A Name
Characters  •   The Confidant  •  The Visionary  •  The Penitent  •
Location  •  The Parlour
Date  •  2019-07-25
Summary  •  "A name can't begin to encompass the sum of all her parts. But that's the magic of names, isn't it? That the complex, contradictory individuals we are can be called up complete and whole in another mind through the simple sorcery of a name." -Charles de Lint, Dreams Underfoot

"I'm going to burn. Just...burn. Will I prepare? Chance had a fucking case of sunscreen. Smart. What if I'm like...Derek?" The Confidant is pouting, talking to himself and eating a massive bowl of Kraft dinner. Well, if you call running your finger around the bowl for the fake cheese goodness eating. This is not Chance's best look but the Spring Break on the television has him transfixed.


For whatever reason, Penitent is currently ... well, almost everyone she's ever been. The outfit is not Penitent Facility Standard, it's Samantha Davies. The crisp lines of Penumbra Corporate grey, everything perfectly in place, including the Project Director's ID badge. Expensive sunglasses from the late 80's represent Emily Reed, and the silver ring on her finger (Prosperity mined and made, of course) is her keepsake from Anette. A multitool from the Noc is clipped to her belt, and an iPhone from 2018 rests right nearby it. On top of all that, she's going around bare foot again, the shiny black shoes that Samantha would have worn left behind. She wanders into the parlour like everything is perfectly normal, beaming that guileless smile at Confident. "Burn? Why!" It takes her a moment to follow his gaze towards the television, staring, before she finally slips the sunglasses from her face to stare at it.


The door to The Visionary's room -- Cass' room -- hasn't changed, but the woman who steps out of it certainly has. She's tall again, but this time, she's leggy, blonde, curvy, blue-eyed, and looks like a younger Nyka. Since her wardrobe hasn't changed one bit in the interim, she's struggling with a grating case of perpetual sideboob she is simply not at all accustomed to, having been a beanpole, then a shrimp. Presumably aware this will come as much as a surprise to others as it did to her, the first order of business is to pin a note to her door, which is the very last before the hallway ends at the parlor. It has a list of her various names on it, from Dahlia Adams to Nyka di Mercurio. That settled, she props her hands to her hips, and looks vaguely satisfied with herself. 'Cass' has been scrawled across her collarbones, somewhat awkwardly, in dark teal eyeliner. The letters are a bit stilted, having been done in the mirror. Whatever works in a pinch?

Turning to face the parlor, she catches sight of the television, and squints at it suspiciously. "Hey, Chance!" she calls over; there's always a smile, that same smile she's always had. At least something's familiar. "What's playing this time?" The Penitent's voice has her spinning on a bare heel, and she pauses to look up, down, up, and back down again, as though the combination is maybe less expected than her own change. "...sis?"


A woman enters and Chance is on his feet. "Sunburn, Sam. I got lucky in Prosperity. My skin wasn't so fair. I tanned. That was nice. Derek was a little more resilient too but still, someone had to remind hi--" And Cass appears and he looks at her for a long time. "Cass? When did you become a blonde?" He says with thin disgust but not /at/ her so much. He follows with. "Blond is so boring. Derek..." He rolls his eyes. "Wait...was with the Carnival? I was blind ninety percent of the time so, I missed a lot of faces." Then he walks over to Cass and just pokes her awkward nametag. "May I?" He twirls one of his infamous black markers in his fingers and smiles.


A nod for Chance's explanation of sunburn, and Penitent is turning slightly when she feels as much as notes the presence of another, and of course hears that call out, the sunglasses come away from her face completely and she gives that simple smile again. "Hey, Cass." She offers with a little finger wiggle of a wave with her free hand while the sunglasses dangle from the other. "I like this you," she decides after a moment, nodding the once.

She watches them both as Chance approaches Cass, and tilts her head slightly, "I decided," she tells them after a moment, "That I think I should be called Penny."


"I'm all pasty and washed out!" The Visionary laments with a sudden bob of her head, and a frustrated snort of a sound. She still has Danica's sprawling lightning scar down her right side, which is all the more visible thanks to her spacer-pale complexion, but she's also gained a tattoo -- Nyka's -- on her left shoulder. "Please, by all means," she says as she spreads her arms, whisking her hair back away from her shoulders as she goes, offering up the patch of skin where she's scrawled her name between the spaghetti straps of her tie-dye tent of a dress. "Not looking forward to the sun, though I guess I won't miss my freckles for long. Is that... " Catching the MTV logo in the corner of the screen, she squints. Then, there's a sudden wince. So Danica was her former life that was right about something?

As for explanations, she doesn't have one. Her arms remain outstretched at her sides as she shrugs, which can't help with the writing much. "I have no idea what was going on with that place. This was 'Kate', the town face, but she was nothing like Nyka. Not even sure how those wires crossed, though for now, I guess I should just count myself lucky Rafe didn't get stuck as a cat or something." Pause. "Though he was awful cute as a cat." Her head cants to one side as she grins back toward The Penitent, and the announcement of a name has the grin growing to immense proportions. "I like it! What prompted the pick?" Rafe may have been the cat, but she's always curious as one.


Chance gets to work by first taking off his t-shirt and using that to wipe the eyeliner off Cass's collarbone. He really did inherit Derek's body without the height. It's so pale. Faintly pink marble. He's self-conscious about it too. He puts the shirt back on and with the marker in his left hand, he begins to write. "Penny? Penny. You could be a Penny. You look happy. Shiny like a new penny." He turns to wink at her. Chance is putting in effort with Cass. "I can't believe people used to watch this shit. Spring Break. It's like...anti-content. It's not just lacking, it's actively taking something from me." He snorts. "I think I hate hints. I get dread and anxiety. I worry at a professional level because I...we. We all know what comes after. But we don't know what will during." That's real old timer talk from Chance.

"There. Go look at it. My door's open." She can see it pretty clear anyway. Big C. Delicate lowercases. Left handed slant. "This was my town face. In the Dust Bowl. I--Holden picked faces of people he knew or thought he did. Faces he could recall. This face? Red hair and shit? It was Thor."


"Pasty and washed out? You don't even know. If Samantha had been at all interested in getting her naughty on, well. Things would probably be a lot more awkward for a moment or five here and now, but I've gotten through awkwarder things." Penny says with a bright little grin there, nodding slowly. "It's MTV again, yes." She twirls the sunnies in her hand and folds them up, slipping them away and shifting a little, peering over at the bookcase.

"Lorraine didn't use other faces much, but she had them. I'm glad I didn't get changed into one though." She's quiet for a moment at the direct question however, turning back to consider them both. "I don't know. I guess I felt a little down how people have identities here and I never have. I've never felt like anyone in particular. Just a collection of the people I've been somehow rolled into one. I could never come up with a name that works. So why not just be everyone? I got the uniform this time," and she just goes ahead and adjusts at her sleeve. "And kind of realized I can wear basically everything I've gotten to keep. And then I overheard Dare talking about having to do penance and it hit me. That's how I feel all the time. You know how I'm always feeling responsible and carrying my guilt. La Llorona was even an incarnation of guilt. I'm Penitent. I'm Penny."


"I like Penny, too." Her grin quirks up at the corners, and she flashes The Penitent a wink. "Oh, you have no idea how many times inviting you down to join in on the chaos came up," she notes in all seriousness to her former sister. "Would have probably done Samantha some good. Or at least been fun before the not fun got so far out of hand. Speaking of which, I seem to have misplaced Nyka's husband, and feel I should track him down sooner rather than later." She glances down over the fine handiwork now penned onto her skin, and she quietly wolf-whistles. "Nicely done. Sometimes I half think I should just get this inked on, 'til I remember it'll get washed away come morning."

"Kept my Pegasus tattoo, though, from Pegasus station?" She dips her head to look down over her left arm. "'I'm pretty good at making bad decisions,' in Esperanto." Her grin skews crookedly, and she leans over to give Chance a one-armed hug in gratitude, if he lets her. "Thank you, that looks a thousand times better."

The explanation catches her off guard enough to dim the smile, even if the warmth beneath it remains intact. "Shit, honey, if we have to do penance for all the things we screwed up over, what... six lives, now?" Another quiet whistle follows, and she aims a mournful glance toward the television. "That is totally Danica's fault, if it makes you feel any better."


Chance always accepts a hug. "I'll write it everyday if you want me to. I'll switch it up from time to time too." He's all smiles for two hot seconds. Then Penny explains her name. Chance looks at Penny with those big blue eyes, wide and expressive as ever. This expression? His brain just hit its event horizon. "What? I..." He has to sit down. "I figured out that we all had roles ages ago. Mira is always searching for something more...else. Briar needs a fix of something. Fucking Dare with his bullshit. Same thing every--he's a motherfucking martyr." He looks between the women. Penny gets this look of deep sadness. "You are...spending each encounter feeling guilty? Holy shit. You should have come and talked to me. I'm always this good listener. Kinda. Vaguely. What the fuck is that?" He's loosing his chill at a rapid rate. And Chance is usually pretty damn chill. He's back on his feet and pacing. "People trust me. They open up. I get a lot of tail with that, by the way. I got spouses now. Plural. What does that make me? I don't understand."

He recalls every face, every person, every door, naturally. He has to process all of this information and you can almost see the blue screen of death scrawl in his eyes. No, he can't work on other yet. "Who am I?" He stops pacing and puts his hands on his hips. His eyes travel up. "I want to go home...I miss Helena." And then, he closes his eyes and plops down right there on the floor. "It's like a curse. I know everyone. And I need them so badly. I need them to need me. That's gross. So gross." Now begins the lamentations.


"Samantha had no interest, no drives at all for that kind of thing. She was entirely asexual, so it likely wouldn't have done her much good," Penny muses, shrugging her shoulders. "But that is kind of flattering. I haven't seen, uh, Bliase, here this time, yet. I forget what he calls himself ..." She does nod a little to Chance, eyes widening a little as she explains further.

"I don't think people really need to do penance, but I've noted it as a recurring theme for myself. Madison made Wyred Fest happen, made the bribes and deals that got that island and put everyone in danger. Kylie was running from her past, she was there on Sevastopol Station when it went to hell and supplies were low, she killed people just to survive. And almost went off the rails again when it started happening on the Noc. Anette -- well, you know her. Actual outlaw, she did some horrible things for all the right reasons, but she still did them. She taught me a lot about what it was to shoulder that kind of burden with strength." She nods a little, a moment of Nettie's own resolve showing in her eyes there.

"Emily was ... fake. A lying, manipulative woman who needed people to approve of her, and she knew it was all bullshit, and it hurt her, how much she hid from everyone and herself. Lorraine, well. I called my door image 'The Weeping Woman' well before I personally became The Weeping Woman. A murderer without a conscience, hunting down children, having drowned her own. And Samantha sent two teams on the Icarus Project, and she let that W-Y synth in. Sometimes I know it's not really my fault ... but I feel it anyway. It's why I'm here. It's why I've always been comfortable here. I belong in a prison. My room is even a cell. It all fits."

She shrugs a little at Chance. "I don't really talk to anyone about it. I'm just doing my time, a model prisoner. And the idea of making someone else upset bothers me more than almost anything else I could imagine. Because I'll feel even more guilt." A pause and she says softly. "I'm sorry about that need. Mostly, I just pretend that ... everything is fine. And worry about the simple things."


"If I'm a something, I... don't know what it is," The Visionary says thoughtfully, though the notion doesn't escape her as uncannily sound. "...Patron Saint of ADD? Flake? A Madwoman? Madame What-ifs-alot?" Her expression grows more serious, which she hasn't managed to not figure a way around looking half like a pout with this face just yet. "Pixie chas-" Pausing, her eyes narrow. "If I'm actually here to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl I'mma shiv somebody." The more somber the mood grows, the more deeply the furrows carve into her brow.

"You don't belong in a prison, Penny," the newly blonde woman notes with all sincerity. "None of us do." On that point, she doesn't seem inclined to be argued with. "We probably all think it from time to time. That we've fucked up, or failed, or-" Sucking in a quick breath, she insists, "-something went wrong, but that's part of being human, and if I learned anything from a brief stint of not being human, it was definitely that."


Chance yells at Penny. "It is my--my f-fucking job!" The words sputter out, tripping over his teeth and tongue. When does Chance raise his voice? He's had one or two screaming returns but never does he holler at someone. He pauses, apologizes. "I'm sorry. But...it's what I do. It's what I am here for to be bothered. Burdened. No one should hu-hurt alone. No one. No one." His heart is breaking for her and it's all over his flushed face and trembling body. He's tearing up but he's mad about that. Wiping his face angrily on his shirt. And yeah, a little bit of teal eyeliner is on his cheek now.

"I'm an emotional packmule. And I'm fine with it. I...I suppose I understand your resignation, Penny. I'm glad to help others. I want to know their stories, hear their problems, help them understand themselves. What am I?" He repeats and gets up again. "Penny, if you are Penitent and you are not allowing yourself the release of those burdens...I haven't done my job." Chance remains the king of fridge horror. Of creeping dread, unnoticed and then reacted upon in grand fashion. "I'm not sure if I am fully capable of self reflection." Damn those two Gos as a psychologist. Damn them to hell. "Oh fuck." He slowly returns to his original place on a sofa and draws up, tight.

"You see the big picture, Cass. Always. Like...well, literally sometimes you can see into the future but even low key? You can see /it/. I mean, you might miss something but only because it was just out of your big wide view. It's not sight. It's vision. Didn't I say that to you, as Danica? I thought it. I thought you had the biggest eyes and grandest sight." Beat. "Visionary." Another beat. "Yeah. I don't know who the fuck I am. I can't see it."


"I've got big ideas, sure, but most of them are totally bonkers," the Visionary says with a slow shake of her head. She meanders toward the arm of the couch, and plants herself on it, stretching out an arm to the Confidant. "C'mere, you." So maybe she's not done being a den mother just yet. There were traces of it in Dahlia, in Angeline. In Urania. Even in Nyka, no matter how well-camouflaged. "I don't know a good word for it, but you're the person we know we can trust. You always have been. Always there for everyone, willing to help hold us up when we started falling down."

The list goes on. "You're that friend that holds our hair when we drank too much, and nobody else is willing to sit there with us while we're throwing up and cursing god for making margaritas taste so good, which they don't, really, but we all tell ourselves that after the third one, right?" A tiny smile starts to curve up at one corner of her mouth. "The person that isn't going to be a judgy asshole when we fuck up -- and let me tell you right now, that person is fucking essential to survival in ways there aren't even words for." She swallows a breath, and reaches out for his arm with a light squeeze. "You know what it feels like to be broken, Chance -- not that I actually think people can be broken, actually, but we sure as fuck feel like we are a hell of a lot -- and it's... " Trailing off, she looks for the right words. "You know how some kids who get pushed around and bullied, they get big, and then they look after all the other kids to make sure nobody pushes them around, 'cause they know how that felt?" Her brows loft in unison. "It's like that."


"...Yeah." Chance says, quietly. So small it sounds from the guy designed to be a broad pillar or somesuch. "Yeah. It's on the tip of my tongue. That kind of person...if feels rare to me but that's because...it /is/ me. It's what I do. With gladness. So much gladness. I am so happy when I know I am helping someone work through a problem. When they trust me. When I am in their confidence--" And the light comes on. "Confidant. Fancy fucking word for sherpa of the feels."

He leans against Cass, still sniffling a bit. "You know...Derek really believed in Danica's crazy shit. He could see the whole world in her eyes." He sniffs. "Our world needs dreamers too. The ones who can look ahead and fucking dare to believe in more." He smiles, sniffles some more. "I'm going to, uh, think. Alone. For a bit. I-I need to be alone. I hate it but medicine isn't always sweet." He gets up again. "See me the next time you need a nametag, yeah?"


There's a soft little sigh from Penitent after a moment, "That's the thing Cass. 'From time to time'. Not for me. It's all the time. Every waking moment in here, I know that I've done something that I have to atone for. Everyone tells me I don't belong in a prison, I've done nothing to be guilty for, but they don't know. Nobody feels it like I do. People see my door image, that woman crying while the village burns behind her, and people think she's upset because her home is on fire. Only I know that she set the fire. I feel like I belong in a prison. If I actually do or not, isn't really the point." Her brows arch up at Chance as he yells at her and she just goes quiet. Complete shutdown. "I'm sorry." She says softly, shifting to wander over to the book case, letting the pair of them have their own little moment.

She's not really looking for anything, just staring at the books. There, but unobtrusive. It's only after some time has passed and he's announced an intention to leave that she notes, "Sorry for bothering you," an echo of that statement. "I ... don't have my own identity here. I have the people that the people I've been have had. We've never been ... close, so." She doesn't know, and she shakes her head. "I'm not suffering."


"Some of my crazy shit is brilliant," the Visionary says with a slow and certain nod, the grin ticking up further at one corner. "Just ask me, I'll tell you." A wink chases the words, like punctuation. "I kinda like 'sherpa of the feels', personally. It's colorful. I feel like I want to paint you a sign with that on it, now."

"I mean, hey. If we get to have any name we want, why not have any titles we want?" She straightens in place, considering this with perhaps more seriousness than it warrants. "Sherpa of the Feels. Atlas of the Heart-Shaped Earth. Holder of Hair, Strong Shoulder of the Long Hall." She gestures to the Penitent, saying, "Lady FretsTooMuch, Collector of Burdens. Font of Completely Unnecessary Apologies." The hand wheels back to herself, and she suggests, "Surfer of Next Week's Wave. Patron Saint of 'What If?'"

"We are who we are enough that there are commonalities. And I don't entirely discount the logic behind it." She eases to her feet, brow furrowing briefly as she glances toward the Anywhere Rooms for a moment. "I started getting my feet under me when I started to accept that, yes, I just might be crazy. I might. I might be off my head all the time, and that... " Her head shakes slowly. "It terrified me. I was terrified of that room, and what it showed me. That for all the shiny things and grand notions, they were always a breath away from complete disaster, because I could simply be mad."

"Nyka was crazy. She was stark, raving, batshit crazy." It's a simple statement of fact, and one that would have been painfully clear in her records.

"She was still right sometimes. She was still a decent enough person, deep down." She swallows another breath, and looks thoughtfully toward the Penitent. "So maybe you did do something terrible, and you need to atone for it. Maybe." Her shoulders rise and fall in a tiny shrug. "There's a lot more than that to who you are, and that someone is still right sometimes, too. Still a decent enough person, deep down, in the very same way."


Before Confidant can throw himself at Penny in apology, Cass is calling him fun names and it seems to break the spell of misery for the moment. He laughs, too loud and too sudden but it's filled with relief. "Atlas of the Heart-Shaped Earth. It's an easy burden for me." He says and looks at Penny intently. "You can do it alone, if you really want to. But know that you do not /have/ to, Penny. Please? I'm here for a reason...like the rest of us. Let me do my job sometimes? No...not job. Calling. It's my calling." He steals another hug from Cass. "I need to learn how to look within. I can't see me. Not clearly. And I think I'm supposed to do that here, in between." He swallows. "Lucky seven coming up. I'm feeling pretty fucking bad about this one." He says, laughing as he heads back to his room. "Door's still open! Just knock."


"Oh, I know that it's ... not all that I am. And I've gotten very good at handling my burdens, you know? Nettie was the first real eye opener there. Before here I didn't even know where to begin." There's a small smile from Penny as she lifts her hand towards Chance, giving a finger wiggle of a wave. "I don't do it alone. But okay. I will come talk to you. Some time." She nods the once, and just lingers there by the bookshelf, her gaze returning to Cass. "Samantha was pretty introspective and I suppose I am too, a bit, now. Maybe that's what got me really thinking about all this. And if anyone was a truly good person, it was her. For all her mistakes. Samantha is probably the best I've ever been." She looks down at herself. "Maybe that's why I decided to keep wearing the uniform." There's a rueful smile. "The unnecessary apologies just sort of happen. It's like a reflex."


Both arms, this time, for a full-on squeeze as Chance heads off toward his room. "Some time soon, we are all going to go to the hot springs from Italy! Don't make me drag you, and bring a towel!" The grin is contagious, even if she slowly shakes her head as she chuckles to herself. "We deserve a break after that, you know?" Another tiny shrug follows, and she says, "Nyka was mad about the houseguests, but frankly, she would have been pissed off if they'd come with cookies, the cure for cancer, a briefcase packed with winning lottery tickets, and an air freshener that caused spontaneous orgasms every three minutes. I get it, though, and-"

"-well, I'm not mad. Not sure if that helps any, but. S'true. Her heart was in the right place, that much was certain. But, you know? It is more often than it isn't with you, sis, and I hope you remember that." She jerks her head toward the pair of doors across the parlor, and notes, "I need to go... process a few things, I think. With a bigger brain." Her nose wrinkles. "Though, really? Fuck space. I forgot that space has its own smell, and I never noticed until I got back this time. But space has a smell, and it's like... slightly-less-depressing hospital."

"Hot springs. Damned soon. They're gorgeous; I found them in one of the books."


"I mean, I'm sorry it worked out badly, but you know. We had ex Weyland Yutani crew as it was. Samantha thought she could maybe convince them to change their ways too. And with her mind slipping away, she was holding onto her morals and ethics extra heavily, you know? If she had of ignored those people, out there, it would have destroyed her." Penny gives a soft sigh and nods. "Most of my selves are okay. Sometimes they can't rise above the guilt, sometimes they can. But the two space people have been ... some of my favourite selves, so. I don't hate space." She beams that simple smile. "I will come to the hot springs, sure. But for now. Ice cream." That simple nod; those simple pleasures. The little things that Penitent chooses to worry about.