Several hours after their reunion, The Addict leads The Martyr by the hand, out of their room and into the parlor. Their hair is tousled and slapped back in a loose bun, and they're wearing a long, red kimono-style robe. "I wonder if I'm still a vegetarian," they say as they look toward the dining hall. "I'll let you know once I figure it out. Not that I expect you to follow suit. You can have whatever you want."
The Martyr is loathe to let go their hand, is loathe to let them out oof his sight to be honest. He keeps looking at them as if they are a miracle. "I was wondering that too. I avoided pork the whole time we were apart and kept my teeth very clean after I ate just in case you arrived. I'll have what you are having. I admit I ate... all sorts of non-pork meat things while you were gone and I'm ready for something different."
"Martin loved crispy bacon," Briar says. "I can't remember what it tastes like. Salty, if I recall." They seem content to keep hold of Dare's hand. "That's very sweet of you," they add. "To think of me like that. Martin was a food snob, and he loved coq au vin. I wonder if Danny's objections would even matter, here. Does the meat come from real animals or is it created on the spot using molecules or whatever? If that's the case, is 'pork' even really tref? If it doesn't come from an actual animal, let alone one that doesn't chew its cud?"
The Martyr nods, "Salty and crispy and soft by turns. I've never had coq au vin. We could get one and if you decide you don't want it, I could eat it. If you do we could share." He's still getting used to the idea of a sober Briar. Of Briar, not Danny. He just keeps looking at them and smiling like his brain may have fallen out somewhere.
The Addict catches Dare's glance and ducks their head a little. "What," they say. Then they kiss Dare's cheek and draw him toward one of the couches. "We can try coq au vin, and if I don't want it, you can have it. I think it'll be fine, though. I'm sure I'll just now get tofu cravings once in awhile. It's actually pretty good if you do the spices right."
The Martyr ducks his head, blushing a little, "I'm just really happy. This may be hell but it doesn't feel like it with you in it." He sits and tries to pull Briar into his lap, "I'd be willing to try the tofu in some thai food maybe. So are you still Jewish, do you think?"
The Addict settles on Dare's lap and drapes their arms loosely around his neck. "I don't think this is Hell," they say. "I'm not sure I believe in Hell anymore. Danny didn't. Martin did. I don't know what this is, but it feels like some in-between place. Maybe this is the nature of life, and we're just living it. I don't know."
As for the question of their faith, they say, "I'm not sure what I am. Martin was a Protestant, but after he arrived in Prosperity, he learned his family were in league with demons. I feel like, you know, the Torah might have mentioned something like this. Or maybe this is the afterlife. It's pretty hush hush about the hereafter. I don't know what I am."
The Martyr curls his arms arund their waist. Dead or not, he craves the physical comfort of touch, "I've been thinking about the why of all this, since the how completely eludes me. There wwere demons in Prosperty and if i understand correctly, you all had to get rid of them, right? And we were trying to save the world from murder ghosts and Dagon. I don't know enough about Noc Station to see if it fits. Didn't he say something about a music festival on an island being attacked? Would it make senseif we're being sent out to... fix things that went wrong somewhere?"
"That's a thought," Briar says. "Maybe they're parallel realities, and we're supposed to fix them. Maybe this is a far-future -- I mean, far future from 1989 -- kind of place. Maybe everything is automated and our keepers aren't even aware of us anymore, and we just keep fixing what's broken throughout time." Their brow knits. "But why? From a far future point of view, it's all past tense anyway. All those lives we saved would be long dead."
The Martyr thinks that over, "Maybe they are outside of time and it's sort of like Time Bandits? Only instead of a group of bumbling Little People, they pull people out of time and... erase their memories and use them to fix the damaged spots."
"Yeah, maybe they're trying to repair history," Briar says. "I don't know why they'd keep that from us, though. Since we don't remember being here from lifetime to lifetime. Wouldn't it make more sense to have us aware? Or does that mess up the, uh, what do you call it? Authenticity?"
Briar sweeps back a lock of Dare's hair and smiles at him. "Maybe we're blind people feeling an elephant, using our unique perspectives which allow us to deduce only what we're capable of deducing. I'll be honest, I never thought about it before, but it's an interesting philosophical exercise."
The Martyr kisses the tip of her nose, "It's that or someone with a realy sick sense of humor is getting their jollies off doing this to people." He guestures at the TV set to symbolize 'the Encounters.' "I'd rather believe it's being done to us for a reaso than that it's a form of torture with no other purpose. Maybe that's why people apear and disapear. We are the people needed for the next problem. The ones who are here now, and the ones who were at Beaver lake were the ones needed for there. Maybe the people who are never sent back here are the... real ones for that time and place. Maybe I arrived later at the Lake than most people was because whoever it was only realized at the last minute they needed... whateer it was I brought to that mess."
"I want to call out the potential narcissism believing we are the ones reality hinges on, but we're obviously remarkable in some capacity. Even if it is as the victims of someone's sick joke." They look around, and they sigh quietly. "I got annoyed at some of the experiments, because they made a mess. Everyone's trying to figure out what it means, and I just like that I can get up when I want, eat when I want, do whatever I want. It's nice not to have to worry about being murdered by a ghost. Even if I do die, I'll just wake up again."
The Martyr says, “You are definately remarkable in every way." He nods, "I just wish we got to wake up where we went to sleep. I... haven't tried it, but I saw how distressed Caleb was to wake up in his own Bunker after falling asleep elsewere. And there's the waiting. It's better now you're here, but there's fizz and Line, and Em and Christine and the rest to wait for. narcissistic or not, you kept coming up with good ideas, like talking to the ghosts. And I know you heped keep people together and fighting, me cheif amoung them."”
The Addict kisses Dare lightly. "Flatterer," they murmurs, but they're smiling. Then they sigh quietly. "It's not great waking up alone. Something Arthur and I would do is I would wake up, get our coffee, and join him in bed. It was nicer than just starting the day alone. Maybe we could make arrangements, and sometimes I could bring coffee to you. It's just a little something to look forward to, you know?"
The Martyr says, “I'd like that. Sort of crawling in with each other first thing. I like your room, Briar. It is a lot homier than mine, I fear. What's Arthur like?" He doesn't sound jealous, just curious. he blushes then, "I owe Addison an apology, but I suspect he'll just throw it back at me. I'm sorry about that, for not trusting your jusdgeement more when it came to him."”
"It's cluttered," Briar says, "but it's comfortable." They toy with a lock of Dare's hair, curling it around a fingertip. "Arthur is extremely good-looking, shameless. He's got white hair, and his eyes are pinkish red. He's stylish, he's sensual. He swept me off my feet in Prosperity, and we're mad for each other. I saw him once at the boathouse, before everything went to hell. Even then, I started to fall all over again."
They sigh softly. "He'll probably sweep you off your feet, and maybe we'll have coffee together." They sweep back Dare's hair and press a kiss to his forehead. "Thank you. Addison was a tough read, but I think he liked it that way."
The Martyr says, “Mine is... sort of the opposite, but surprisingly comfortable." He nods, "He does sound rather my type. Or one of my types anyway. I remember you talking about him the night we went skinny dipping and I was trying so hard not rto show how attracted to you and Scott I was." He runs a thumb lightly acrss Briar's lips, "He was good to you. I wanted... someone to be good to you right then." He looks away, "It was hard being alone here and it was so important to me that you weren't alone there. That you had Scott and Addison. That people were there when you needed them."”
The Addict drops their gaze. "They watched me die." The bite their lower lip, then they say, "It'll be all right. They'll be back here soon enough, and we can find out how it ended. They won't be sad anymore." They kiss Dare's fingertip. "I never lost faith that I'd see you again, but I had no idea it would be like this. I just thought, you know, the soul never dies, and that you wouldn't forget me."
The Martyr says softly, "You saved Sonya and so saved the world, Babe. Addison died brave and screaming standing between two of them and her a little while after they took you." He blushes to his ears, "Bastian doesn't aprove of us watching, but he was lucky to die when Max did. So Caleb and I have been watching so we know when to put out comfort food and strong drink and went to... watch the doors. Only I don't like to mention in front of Bastian and Max. Max is... more prickly then she was towards the end back there, but I think he's softening her a little." He kisses the top of his head, "I can't promise not to forget you when we go out there again, but I'll remember you here as long as I last in this place."
"I know you'll forget me," Briar says. "I can't take that personally. I won't remember you." They glance toward the television. "You could see us?" they ask. They look torn. Clearly, there's the desire to tune in and see what's going on right now. On the other hand, what if the world is ending after all? "Dying was strange," they say. "I don't remember the pain, only the fading. It happened so fast, feeling the life drain out of me. It's not like falling asleep, it's just like falling."
The Martyr nods. "Not... everything. And we wouldn't have watched certain things even if they were on there. I was watching when you and derek were trying to save each other from Mahoney. I saw you die, Love, and that was hard. Fast is best, I think. It was a lot harder on poor Cheer. Dying that way was bad enough. She was alone in here most of a week. She said watching us was the only thing that kept her sane." He lifts Briar's hand to kiss it, "You saved the word, Babe. The ghosts and Micheal destroyed Mahoney. Sonya's ritual undid the Fishmen. I was so proud of you and Scott, fighting on right to the end. It mattered."
The Addict smiles a little at the kiss, and they say, "I heard Mahoney, and the rattle of the chain, and I just knew. I thought 'no, not Sonya' and acted. I wasn't thinking about death or dying or anything. Just: Sonya has to survive. I'm glad she did. That's worth dying for." They sigh softly. "Poor Cheer. I can't imagine being here alone. The people are what make it bearable. We'll have to visit with her soon, let her know there's more of us now."
The Martyr kisses the inside of their wrist, "That's what a hero is, Love. A hero is the one who shows up and does the neccessary thing for the greater good. Sonya survived. Scott survived. Laine survived. Christine survived." He looks up from her wrist, expression more serious, "It looked really bad, the way Addison went. He might need you after all that. Chance seems to have bounced back okay, but the way he and Paige and Oz and Danica went was pretty terrible. I don't know if any of the other three made it back the way Chance did. The ones burning the bodies had a rough time with Mahoney, but mostly survived. Cassandra made it back here. she took it a little rugh, but Bastian and I think she'll be okay once she's had time to calm down. Colorado and Micheal were big damned heroes, like something out of action movies. I wish you could have seen it."
"Chance is so sweet," Briar says. "He's always been so kind." They don't count Derek punching them, apparently. "I'll show extra care to Addison. He went by Dirk, before. We were friends, actually. He was a lot like Addison, to tell you the truth." They glance toward the hall of rooms. "They should start showing up soon. Sometimes they need a little time to readjust, but maybe they'll be up for a little celebration. It depends. Some of them hate this place and it makes them a little crazy."
The Martyr has long forgiven derek for punching Danny and spitting on Finn and is terribly embarrassed for having spit back. "I was warned someone went berzerk once after. I didn't think you would even if I had no idea what you'd be like." He is searching Briar's face, "What do we call each other now, since boyfriend doesn't fit anymore?"
The Addict studies Dare's face in turn. "Lover," they say. "Though if you call me your boyfriend, I won't be upset. I'll know what you mean. I mean, I am a boy, I guess, even if I don't feel like it all the time." They're still getting a handle on what being gender fluid means. They've only lived in 1902 and 1989. "Maybe Chance will know. He's the one who told me I'm gender fluid, and that it's okay."
The Martyr gibes Danny a slow delighted smile, "Lover then. I am proud to be your Lover, Briar." He repeats the phrase 'gender fluid' softly a few times, so he won't forget it. "I like what you are, I think. It's not a term I heard before, but I like the way you carry and present yourself." He palms Danny's cheek, both stubble and softer skin above. "I like the way you move and the way you kiss and the... I'm getting used to how you are now and it suits you. Boy or girl or both at once, this feels right."
The Addict rests their forehead against Dare's. "I'm glad," they say. "I didn't know how you'd respond. None of the times I'm from are very friendly to people like me. I didn't know what to expect." They slide off Dare's lap and say, "Let's go lie down. I don't know when reset it going to happen, but I'd like to be with you until it does."
The Martyr takes their hand and follows, "I think it helps that I've at least got concepts like drag and transgender. I've seen Rocky horror once even. Also, I sort of woke up here bi which was the big giveaway I wasn't really finn. It made me... very aware of the way things that felt immutable back there are more fluid here." He blushes, "Being gay was such a huge part of who I was that it shooke everything when I suddenly wasn't. I know it's not the same. I just... if something as fundamental as orientation can change like that why wouldn't gender. My room yours, Lover?"