Log:Too Many Faces
Dahlia was here the last time, even if she and Adam had only met in passing on the island. She was just one of those people who exploded, really, then, until a few brief conversations in this strange place. Now, it had been his turn to explode. She was definitely there again when the last dip into the surreal played through -- three times over, even.
But she isn't to be seen, at least much, now that all the faces that seem likely to assemble have. Her room isn't empty, no, but she's not emerging from it often. Just once, thus far, swaddled in a ridiculous blanket, to fetch cloves. She wasn't out and about for long, but she did, it would seem, make it back. Not everyone who had been here before had.
The way she chain-smoked the last time, it's amazing she's only been out once, since, but it could explain why the door cracks open now, and a head tentatively peers out into the hallway. There is no way to be sneaky when wearing a blanket that is louder and more bright than a dozen rainbow suns, no, but she still aims to be relatively quiet, and has waited until the hall itself seems relatively quiet to venture out. That meaning: there are no obvious fires, no sounds of breaking furniture, no yelling, no screams.
And so, she silently pads off toward the dispensary for a new pack of cloves. She's not going to starve or dehydrate; the place won't let her. Food isn't much of a concern. The twitching of the fingers holding the blanket up to her chin, on the other hand, is. Her knuckles are red, lightly scabbed, doubtless from punching something until she saw red: the proof she's really a person.
Nothing. Just darkness. There was something different this time. Expectation. There was something niggling at the back of his mind, some echo of a promise he can't quite remember. Screaming comes from his room and then silence, the quiet sobbing of a man who has little sanity left to cling to. All of this is wrong. Adam. Charlie. Who was he, why was he.
Finally the nervous mouse emerges from his hole, the whoosh of the door, the sterile halls all giving him a reason to be afraid again. Clutching to the wall like it might just break off from the rest of the facility and swallow him in a black void of nothingness. Maybe it was the glimpse of her wrapped up in sheets, but for some reason there is an easy level of trust for the girl with the cloves.
He waited, quietly while others walked by or chatted, ducking away from the sounds until he watched her return to her room. She is followed by the derpy nerd with his glasses pushed up high, his oversized sweater and his sweatpants hanging from his hips. There's a stutter, that stammering almost unfamiliar to even him as he croaks out, "I see you," and it's a strange blush that comes to his cheeks, fading in the face of no one but it was certainly there for a moment.
She hears that noise. That scream. She stops dead in the hallway, looking toward the door with a fretful crease of her brow. She's off to the dispensary more quickly and back again, not pausing to greet anyone in the parlor, just in and out with a pause to bend down and scritch the cat that arrived along with the lot of them this time on the top of the head. "Purr-Creature," is all she says, nodding to the tuxedo feline before skittering down the hall with a shuffle of bare feet.
As she's heading back, pack of cloves already ripped clear open across the top at a haphazard angle, that the walking blanket fort sees him, too, and stops dead again. Her expression blanks for an instant, her eyes going owlishly wide. "Rafe?" She remembers. Not just Adam, or Charlie, but here.
And just as suddenly, there's a very ugly quilt apparently attempting to swallow him whole as she rushes in close in an attempt to hug him tightly. "You made it back. You made it," she stammers; she's talking far too quickly, like a peculiar tic, tripping over her tongue half the time. "You made it," she whispers again, and the gratitude for this very fundamental and basic reality is written all over her face. Her eyes even seem to glisten with tears.
Even something in her relief seems terrifying, given thought: apparently, not everyone does make it back.
The man of many names and none just blinks owlishly back at her, even through the blankets he can see her. It's a mystical blush that comes as she remembers his name, but then there's the rushing, the hug. He freezes at first unsure of how to react or really what to do at all.
Then all of a sudden, he breaks. Something about this feels like it should at least, for the first time since he woke up he openly sobs out before his arms nimbly navigate the cross sections of quilts and blankets until he finds her ribs and his fingers crawl around to her back before she's cinched in against him like a life line. Her words manage to get him to think. To break through some of the darkness and there's another intent blush as he manages to croak out, "Promised."
Bonking of heads resumes and there are tears on both sides, maybe a little bit of that not so glamorous dripping snot. A hand snakes up to find her hair, pushing it from her face before just staying there, holding to her while his body processes this nightmare all over again. But at least there was that niggling feeling that has gone from 'we are alone' to 'promise fulfilled'.
There's no hesitation at all, she wraps him right up in the blanket with her, burying the both of them in the hideous patchwork, just as she buries her face in against the side of his neck. She doesn't entirely understand the words, doesn't get what they mean exactly, but he's solid, he's real, and thus far? He's the only real person who has genuinely given half a real damn about her she's run across in this place. She holds him like he's a rock, and the only thing that makes any sense -- even if not everything does.
She remembers what it was like to explode. Just not this time. And she knows they didn't let the Marshals evacuate. She can put some things together.
That they're standing in the middle of the hall makes not a bit of difference to her. She couldn't possibly care. She's not wearing a shred of anything under that blanket, and she doesn't care about that, either. Clothes are for people who give half a damn about social niceties, and for the time she's spent since waking, she's simply not been one of those people at all. If anyone's looking, she doesn't give the first damn.
"Rafe," she uses the name that -- at least for her -- seems the most likely to be grounding, solid. Real. "We're OK. Swear we are." Tears slide down her cheeks, but she manages a smile, even, as she holds up a hand, showing her scuffed up knuckles. "I'm even an actual person again. Isn't that... " Funny? No, nothing at all about it is funny. Nothing about being something other than a person was especially funny. But she can't think of any other word for it. "...so we're all right. Really. Not. Whatever happened, it's not, it wasn't-" But it was real. All of it. Or it may as well have been. "-we're gonna be all right. Promise."
She remembers a lot, but maybe she doesn't remember the other parts of her that were running around. He doesn't know what it all means, all he remembers is a promise, and being right here right now /feels/ like he is fulfilling his end of the bargain, even if he's suddenly red from the tips of his ears to the underside of his throat at finding her naked under there. Why? Because there might be a vague memory of ecstatic pleasure that spikes right before the sharp pain and explosions.
God exploding as a way to die was horrible.
Blinking slowly, he looks at her in the eyes and the hand in her hair grips a little tighter, swallowing back more tears he just keeps climbing further into her personal space and blankets until they are a two-person lumped blanket monster of sobby weeping messes. Well except her, she's doing pretty good. But it's that bit, the part about being a real person that makes him hold her gaze now as he swallows.
"You were a real person already," he whispers.
Looking back up, he mutters, "I want a strawberry."
She remembers exploding. Just not this time. She remembers the impossible heat, then being... here. Just here. As though nothing had ever happened at all. Except that it had.
Her brain is still unpacking all the details, all the fine points. There was too much data poured into her skull for much of it to make sense at all, which probably explains why she's talking so fast, why there are so many fumbles in her words.
It isn't quite the same look. Not quite. There's so much relief there, so much gratitude, and she's so clearly happy to see him, glad to be precisely where and how she is, damn the rest of the world for now.
...but she doesn't get it. The slightly-confused widening of her eyes is so utterly sincere in the way it conveys that she wants, desperately, to know what he means, but she doesn't.
There were three of her. Three. Dammit. It hits her across the back of the head like a real blow, and she seems to try to inhale and exhale at once. So that's what happened to Mia. That's where she went. That's why the last message from her 'sister' sounded, perhaps for the first time, happy and content.
The cloves tumble from her hands and land at her feet as she raises shaking hands to frame his face in turn. There is no way to say it that isn't going to hurt, and she knows it. The sudden redoubling of the volume of her tears has the words catching in her throat.
That she has to ask says it all. "Oh, god," she whispers, suddenly looking completely lost.
Like layering faces over one another with clear film in between them, he can almost see the way each of the sisters has a part in this woman standing in front of him. It didn't need to be her, but it needed to be her.
Still clinging, still a sobbing mess beneath blankets in the middle of the hallway in a facility filled with other lives in limbo, in Purgatory.
He'd gotten things settled kind of, at least he wasn't bawling his eyes out against the naked woman's neck wanting nothing more than to grab onto a shirt she was wearing and cling.
It only takes the one word, that name that managed through the cloud bursts of yellow hot flame. His face stings and the tears start rolling out again staining his cheeks as he searches her face, her memory for Mia and that hand in her hair finally drops. His shoulders slump and he looks more broken than he did before.
"I promised," snurffle.
Stuttered breath in and unsteady exhale has him crashing to the floor whether she comes with him or not, into a pile of muscle and bones without a will. Without the coppertop battery of his drives. "I want strawberries back," he croaks again and then just slumps against her legs, tears streaming to splash against her feet and the floor.
It wouldn't be the first time someone had made the observation that the sisters were so like facets of her, but she could never fault him for thinking Mia the realest of them; she was, to be certain, the very most like Dahlia.
And she can't not know this pain, this one precisely. Twice, now. Once, overlooked; once, simply lost to someone also not there, so far as she knows. There, there to be absolutely certain, is a bond of its own kind, no matter how broken, no matter how tragic.
So she tumbles down with him, slipping down through the arms holding her legs, and throws the blanket over them entirely. Fuck the world, it's the cloak of invisibility, or may as well be, so far as she's concerned. Whether he especially wants her to or not, she drags him close, holding him tightly to her, just whispering senseless noise into his hair, rocking slowly.
"I was just the stupid whore," she eventually confesses, her own voice colored by the sound of her tears. She isn't fumbling too quickly over the words now, not that she could be said to notice. "I wasn't actually... I wasn't actually good for anything." There's a low growl in her throat as she insists, "I could murder Kolv-" But there she stops, because Kolvek doesn't exist, either. She may as well be railing against a ghost, just as they both are mourning them.
Fingers smooth his hair in a gesture so familiar, smoothing it back from his face as she tries to catch his eyes with her own. The light is horribly distorted as it comes through the blanket, making every inch of her a colorful patchwork; apt enough for a girl now made of so many different people. "Come here," she whispers, trying to tug him back up into an embrace.
The door is just there. Just a few paces away. The room she hasn't shown anyone. For the first time, she doesn't even care. "Come with me?" is asked so quietly, but even so, there's real hope in the words. It's the one thing the mythical Pandora had left in that infamous box of hers, and somehow, the woman -- that was Dahlia, was Pandora, calls herself Cassie -- knows it's time that Zeus be damned, it see the light of day.