Everyone wakes up in their room in the Facility in their own way. For the Addict, there's that groggy moment of confusion, where for a moment they could swear they were in 1936, a trans woman married to a Norse god. Then all the memories start flooding in, of life in the Fac, of other lives lived. For a moment, they just need to rest and let it all sink in.
Eventually, they get up and go to their wardrobe. Being genderqueer isn't quite the same as being trans, but there's a lot of wardrobe overlap. No dresses. They're done with dresses for now. Instead, navy blue leggings and an oversized tunic top that's a gradient rainbow in jewel tones.
They take the time to shave, definitely. Their hair is shorter here, only down to their shoulders, and they brush it back. Just a thin coat of coral gloss for their lips, and that's it. They're ready to face the world, or at least the small part of it that's the Facility. They step into the parlor, tentative and watchful. After all the casual cannibalism, this reunion might be more awkward than most.
One moment the scarecrow god, Bik, lurks in a rural cornfield, quietly discussing the nature of existence with a silent owl while the rest of the world sleeps. He blinks... And the next moment, he opens his eyes to find himself lying in a bed. For him, there is no grey muddle between. Being unfamiliar with the sensation of 'waking up', he lies there for quite some time, staring at the ceiling.
Soon enough, he tires of waiting for the answer to come to him, and he sits up. It doesn't take him long to discover that he has feet. Real feet! That leads to a few more minutes spent figuring out that all his 'parts' are there, including all ten fingers and toes. That they are /real/, and not just an illusion to fake out silly mortals. It's a little longer before he can convince himself to be so bold as to try standing, and his first attempt ends in a heap on the floor. But he persists, and by the time the Addict is emerging, he reaches the door.
It opens only a bit at first, but it's enough to show his scrawny self, wearing a set of oversized pajamas. His eyes are open wide, which is only further emphasized by the bed-tousled condition of his hair. Does he recognize the Addict as Diamanto? His expression doesn't really give it away, but he stares at them pretty intently.
A Man steps out of the room with the sign of a bleeding anatomically correct heart on it, steps tentative. He is just barely above average in height, classically handsome with dark eyes, tawney skin, and black, curly hair. His features are strongly masculine, with high, aristocratic cheekbones and a cleft chin. A regal nose shadows full lips.
He is impeccably groomed, freshly shaved, with a lingering scent of citrus and fougere aftershave. He is wearing a black dress shirt, a purple vest with matching tie, and deeply pleated black trousers. His shoes are impecably polished. There is a subtle grace to his walk, despite the tentativeness. He walks past theAnalyst's room withou noticing him, intent on the parlour. His eyes find the person in the parlor, and his face is transformed by delight, for several heartbeats before he remembers. hopeful and trembling in anticipation of rejection, he rasps, "Briar?"
Diamanto turns at the mouth of the hallway and peeks down. Bik is the one they notice first, and their brow knits, much like Diamanto's would when she was perplexed, which was often.
"This is your first time," they say, mostly guessing but quite confident in the guess. "Oh, wow. Okay, this is bound to mess you up." They hold up their hands in the universal gesture for 'I am not going to hurt you.' "Why don't you come have a seat. Do you want something to drink? I'll get you something to drink. Anything you want. Anything at all. The first thing you need to know is that you're safe." Their accent is different here, like New Jersey spent some time in Brooklyn.
Then there is the other guy. They notice the door he comes out of, and a muscle along their jaw twitches. They go still and size him up, toe to tip. Again, their brow knits, and they're guarded as they say, "Who's asking?"
The Analyst does not look /scared/, exactly. Stunned for sure. Lost, too. /So/ confused. But the Addict's comforting words and odd familiarity draw him out. He doesn't move far from the wall and the comforting support provided by leaning one hand against it. "I don't--" he starts, then stops. For a moment, he gets a kind of distant look, opening and closing his mouth a few times, and then his brow furrows. "/Do/ I drink, now? What--" He cuts off again, and turns that round eyed look on the stranger. Suddenly, he's all clammed up again, but at least he doesn't retreat.
The Latino man's voice sounds neither like Finn's nor Kemen's, but the accent is Pacific Northwest like Finn's. His build is similar to Kemen's, and his guestures are a mix. He glances at Bik, then double takes, "Bik? Is that you? you look different without the chair." A sheepish smile, "Not as different as I do I suspect." He ducks hiss head and tries to run a hand through hair that is tghtly curled rather than straight and much shorter than Finn's, but the guesture is that of the much taller man. Another sheepish smile, "I woke up different." He raises his eyes to meet Briar's a whispers, "I'm Dare, Briar. I look different, but I'm still me. Sort of." he looks so terrified and hopeful all at once. "I was Finn and Kemen who was the great god Osiris, but i'm still your Dare if you want me, Love."
Diamanto tucks a lock of hair behind their ear and tells Dare, "You don't look like you." They lift their chin a little. "What happened? Why don't you look like you?" This one is far more coy than Diamanto ever was, and there's a lot more intelligence to be found in their dark eyes.
Turning their attention to Bik again, they say, "I don't know, everyone I know here eats and drinks. You look like someone who would eat and drink." They give Dare another glance over their shoulder, then make their way to the dispensary to see about those drinks.
"Mother of _fuck_," is a voice from the room with the image of the man running towards a tsunami - with a surfboard. Then there is a pause, a crashing sound, and a tinkling noise "_Fuck_! -" comes the voice, louder.
Bik does a jumpy double-take at the stranger who recognizes him. He gives another of those stares, but then gives a tentative little nod to confirm his identity. He leans a little heavier against the wall, his gaze darting back and forth between the two and the uncomfortably personal moment. He squinches his eyes shut while their attention is momentarily preoccupied, but when he opens his eyes to find himself /still there/, he just chews on his lip and gives a worried tug at his hair. He jumps at the sound of another voice shouting obscenities, and then rather abruptly slides down the wall to sit on the floor. "I don't understand /any/ of this," he laments.
Kemen wails, "I don't know! I... used this face when I was trying to pass for human. I'd understand if I woke up Kemen instead of finn, but...this is me know, Briar." He looks between Briar and Bik and the door from which the cursing emerges. He hesitates, then goes to bang on the Tsunami surfer's door, "Boots! Do you need help?" A man looking like this was amoung the rousties. To Bik he says, "A good stiff drink will likely help. we will try to explan what we know. It is normal to be be confused and rather shocked. You have not hit anyone, Bik, so this counts as taking it well. Trust me on this."
Diamanto emerges from the dispensary with a tray, upon which is a teapot, four mugs, milk, sugar, and a flask of whiskey. They bring them to a set of couches and cushy chairs around a coffee table. "Tea always helps," they say, "and tea with whiskey sometimes helps a lot more." They pour a cup for Bik and one for themselves. With a glance toward the hallway, they say, "Someone isn't happy. Don't worry about it. There is literally nothing that can happen to you here that won't be undone come morning."
"Fuck off!" comes the voice from inside the door "No! This is just. No. _Absolutely not_. I refuse to entertain. Any of this. This effervescent. _Bullshit_." The door opens after a moment, and Boots stares hard at Dare, his eyebrows dipping into a defensive scowl. He is wearing a pair of sweatpants, and nothing else "What the fuck. Who are you, what. No. What. _I refuse_." He might recognise him as a roustie, but not as anyone else "What." That keeps being said "What. No. And what. What's wrong with me. Why can't I change. Why have I been captured. Are you working for Radio?"
Oddly, it's Dia's words that finally push Bik from shocked and 'mostly dealing' to utterly freaked out. The shouting from the hallway is probably not helping. "Purgatory is a Christian invention." He climbs to his feet again, leaning against the wall. "There's supposed to be /nothing/. What happened to--" He stops himself, pressing his lips together as he scans the room, taking in everything. His gaze lands on the radio cabinet, his eyes narrow, and he sends a suddenly distrustful look toward Diamanto. Slowly, he takes a step to the side, then another, until he's shuffling back to the hallway. He doesn't stop until he reaches a point somewhere behind Kemen, where he lingers and tries to catch Optimist's eye. If he should succeed, he mouths, "Radio," and points toward the parlor.
Dare's voice is as calm and gentle as Kemen's despite the accent shift, "I'm Dare, Boots... Ouroboras> I was Kemen. Osiris. I just look different. Are you alrght, Opal? You're in the Facility. Take a moment and breath and try to remembeer before you wwere a God." He calls to Briar, "Tea with whiskey sounds amazing, if you'd pour me some, please. I do not want to assume." To both Bik and Ouroboras he says gently, "We aren't sure what this is exactly. I was an atheist before I was a god, so I'm betting not purgaory, though there is much debate amoung the inhabitants as to what's going on. Bik, you could smashthe Radio if it will make you feel better, but it will just be there again in the morning. I am sorry."
Dia, or 'Briar' as they're apparently called, follows Bik's gaze to the radio, then they sigh and say, "No, it's not-- You're not in 1936 anymore. Radio can't hurt you. That thing was there before we ever went off." They doctor their tea with a little whiskey, then they sit down, sigh again, and tilts their head back to look up at the ceiling, "Fuuuck," they groan.
They're quiet a moment, just breathing. Then they lift their head and take a sip of their tea. "Fuck," they say again. Then they set aside their tea and pour a cup for Dare (IF THAT'S REALLY HIM). "What is it with you people and breaking everything?" they call down the hallway.
Optimist - or 'Boots' is missing his scales, and his hair is different, back to being a modern cut. The sweat pants are Nike, ironically. He is still reasonably muscled, but not the sheet athlete he was in the Carnival. The man is recognisably Ouroboras, though - dark skinned, same face, just no scales, and no golden eyes. He looks at Bik, wide-eyed, not really recognising him, then nods, and he reaches towards the radio. And then Briar and Dare are speaking, and finally he says "...I. That was a dream. That time before I was a God. Two or three days, and millenia of being a God. I can't even...really remember it." He reaches for the radio, and then opens the back to shake the batteries out onto the floor, quickly, looking back at Bik "Where's...where's Sekmet. Philomena."
Bik shakes his head, miserably. "I don't know." He shuffles backwards and leaves the Optimist to deal with the Radio. He backs away with those same shuffling steps until he reaches his own door (or at least the door to the room where he woke up). "We can't leave here. Something is very wrong with this place." With a last suspicious look toward the parlor, he backs into the room and snaps the door shut behind him.
The Martyr calls, "They are frightened, Briar! They will listen better when they are calmer. I hope." At least he smells familiar, the natural musk of his body is not that different from Kemen's and the citrus fougere fragrance was what Finn wore before the Lodge evacuation lost him his toiletries, what Dare wore in the Facility before, and is cooincidentally what Kemen wore when he was pretending to be human. He trails after Ouroboras, but settles near Briar, not touching them. He gives them a small, Finnish smile as he takes up the cup. "Thank you. Would you... like to go to Navarro next time? On a date, I mean. If you were still interested. I am willing to court you again from scratch if you like." he calls to Bik, "I am sorry!"
The Addict frowns as Bik darts off. They start to get up to pursue him, then rethink it and settle back. "Eh, he's not going anywhere," they say. Then they watch Oh come over to the radio to remove the batteries. "I don't know if they're awake yet, or if... if Philly will be waking up here." They take another sip of their tea. Tea helps. Tea is magical that way. Their gaze flits to Dare. "Let's go somewhere new," they say. Then, with a lilt of teasing, they remark, "I was married for two years." Her lips twitch at a smile, though.
"I'm not sorry. Fuck this," says the Optimist, who swears a _lot_ more than Ouroboras did "Why can't I change. Why can't I change. Why do I -feel fear-. I didn't before. I couldn't feel this before. What's this. Fucking." He kicks the batteries away under a table and tosses the radio to one side "...thing. What's. Married..." Finally he threads his fingers through his hair and sits down, staring wide-eyed at the floor "This is definitely a trick, trick, trick." And then for the first time he eyes the other two clearly "Who are you both. I mean. What. Who do you _think_ you are?"
The Martyr says, “We could check Sekmet's door." He perks up as Briar's tone changes. He looks all pathetically hopeful again, "Paris. I would like to go to Paris. I've never been." He nods, "You were married and I was... in a complex web of relationships. We did say we'd try not to let what we do out there get in the way of here. I do not know how things will work out with my other commitments, but this is important to me. You will always be impportant to me, whatever face I wear."
He looks up at Ouroboras, eyes wide and sad, "I think I am Dare, who was Finn and Osiris. We are essentially static here, remember? The hair experiments, the tattoo experiments, Death, wounds. They all reset here when we wake."”
"Not entirely static," Briar comments with a glance to Dare. They pours a little whiskey into the untouched cup of tea they'd poured for Bik, and they offer it to Oh. "I think I'm Briar, who was Danny in Oregon and Diamanto in the 1930s. Before that, I was Martin. This is your first lifetime, so it's bound to be confusing."
"I can. Sort of remember Boots. But he was years and years ago. If I was ever him, I was him for days. Three days, four. I have been _me_ for _years_," says the black man, uncertain "I've known what I was for years. I'm not a human. I can hardly remember being a human. I'm a giant monster. Who eats...people." He takes the cup, staring at it for a good long moment "What am I supposed to be now?" he asks the other two "I don't know. I had a whole life there. What do I do with that now?"
The Martyr eyes Briar back, "I woke up different last time too, just not this different. And there is the Wendy precident. So I suppose you are right, not entirely static." He looks up at Ouroboras, expression kind, "I think you will have to decide that for yourself, but in the meantime, would you like a hug?" He takes annother sip, then sets the tea down and opens his arms.
"I don't know," Briar tells Oh. "I don't know what you should do. I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to keep my promise to my boyfriend, that I won't let what happens in these episodes affect how I feel about him." They hold a finger out at Dare, "But I'm still getting used to this face, so give me a moment. Paris sounds great, by the way. And I'm going to have this cup of tea, because I've been through this enough to know there's fuckall else I can do about it."
"Uh. I think. Maybe no," says Boots, still running his fingers through his hair, before he colours up "I don't know how I feel about you," he says bluntly to Dare, as Ouroboras might have, and then _Boots_ looks appalled at himself. He puts the radio on the floor, and he stares at it, almost unblinking. After a moment, he nudges it very cautiously, and then he turns his head to Briar "But what will happen with Holden - Hodr? Or, Kemen, what will happen with you and Sekmet? I mean. What. Do people just, um. Do we decide what happened in that other place is not real? Was it not real?"
The Martyr nods solemnly, "I am still trying to get used to this face, Briar. I did not expect it to be otherwise for you. Paris, then, and time to get used to each other. You look beautiful, by the way, but you always look beautiful, my love." At Boots' coloring, his arms drop and hegets an utterly horrified look on his face as he remembers... things." He too blushes, and gulps his tea, "That's understandable. I...We were none of us... Sorry. Oh Fuck! Sorry!"
The Stranger on the sofa, sipping tea is just barely above average in height, classically handsome with dark eyes, tawney skin, and black, curly hair. His features are strongly masculine, with high, aristocratic cheekbones and a cleft chin. A regal nose shadows full lips. He is impeccably groomed, freshly shaved, with a lingering scent of citrus and fougere aftershave. He is wearing a black dress shirt, a purple vest with matching tie, and deeply pleated black trousers. His shoes are impecably polished. He has Kemen's build, but not his face. He takes a deep breath, "We work things out. On a case by case basis. It is better to keep an open mind and talk things through, I think. I won't... do anything you do not want done, Ouroboras. Or Boots. I am of the opinion that the things we chose count. Thee are things i chose thee and things I chose here. I have to believe they matter."
The Addict shakes their head and tells Oh, "Of course not. I love him. He's the longest relationship I've ever had, and I was in love with him before we ever went there. But I can't tell him that, because what if he doesn't feel the same way? What if, when he comes back, he's ready to just throw in the towel or laugh it off? When I see him, I'll talk to him." They hesitate, then they settle a hand tentatively upon Dare's hand. "I can't just ignore this, though."
The black man in the tracksuit pants in the room is staring at a radio on the ground - which has been divested of batteries. He is staring at it, eyes a bit glazed for a moment, and then he says "Okay." Mostly to Briar, apparently, having listened to them about it all. He scrubs at his face with both hands, sitting there with no t-shirt on - clearly a less muscular, not at all serpentine Ouroboras. Longer hair, in a business cut. Modern voice. Much more modern than some Facility people - Boots is from the 21st century. "I'm not gonna think about that," he adds to Kemen "I don't...I don't get it. I don't understand why I did what I did. I wish I didn't feel. Like I don't know who I am. But I don't. My identity is all messed up. I don't know what I am. I don't know why I thought I should do some things there that I did. I murdered people. A _lot of people_."
A door with a symbol woman running towards the edge of a seaside cliff opens. It opens slowly and a familiar figure steps out. Except that's not what Cheer looked like before. No pale skin and golden curls. Cocoa skin and curled hair, but the color or blackened iron or copper. Her eyes are golden-brown, but lack the feline slits. She is wearing not pink heart jammies but a red, silk robe.
Thrill-Seeker leaves her door ajar as she takes the few steps into the parlor. There she stops, breathing heavily, as she takes in the others there. "I...we...I need a drink," Yup that's cheer. She turns and disappears for less than a minute in her room. Emerging with a bottle of vanilla vodka she moves back and flops onto the arm of the couch near Briar. That stunned expression still on her face as she takes a gulp straight from the bottle. Just in times for Boots' uncertainty to spill out. As she lowers the bottle she looks sympathetically at him and just holds out the bottle. "Yeah...that's pretty normal the first time...but that?!" She almost takes the bottle back for another gulp. Almost.
The Martyr curls his hans the better to take Briar's. He gazes at them as if Briar is still the most beautiful person on earth, "We are different than we were, but my feelings towards you haven't changed. This still matters to me, even with the other things that have happened. It is not as if anything in my experience has inclined me to exclusivity. Rather the opposite. Whatever happens with you and Holden, know that I will do all in my power to work with how things turn out." he tries to lift there hand to his lips for a gentlemanly kiss to the knuckles.
He winces, likely thinking about some of the things the Optimist doesn't want to think about. "All right." He takes a deep breath, "I was a mess my first time too. Do wht you need to do. Yell. Get drunk. Go skydiving. Whatever helps." The Latino man's accent is Pacific Northwest, but thee is a hint of Osiris the peacemaker in the way he delivers his words, a fundamental calm and empathy. he says gently, "That lynch mob eserved it, and you aren't to blame for your appetites in that place." He winces, remembering that time he saw Ouroboras eat part of himself. He takes a deep breath, "You did not choose your particular hunger; whoever is in charge here did. We all do things we are not proud of out there. If we do not forgive ourselves, we will go mad."
Te stranger's face lightens into a grin, "Sekmet! You made it!" He takes a deep breath and says, "I know I do not look ike myself, but I was Osiris and am dare now."
The Addict looks up and smiles, though tentatively. They recognize Sekmet, but the connection between her and Cheer hasn't hit them. Not yet. The way she's drinking, though... "Yeah," they say to Boots, "we all have a lot to live down. I don't think I'll be eating meat again for a long time. A long time." They shudder and shake their head.
Then they give Dare's hand a squeeze, and they smile tentatively at him. "We'll work it out. I'm sure he's had lovers, too. He's had to have had them. He doesn't need to know how I felt before, either. We'll just work out where we stand now."
"I don't understand..." It is something that the more experienced people have heard so often from newcomers. Boots just looks so lost. Unlike Bik, though, there is less actual outright distress, partly because he leans positive no matter what. A big shakeup will still stun him, though. And all that cannibalism, and...other things. He runs his fingers through his hair, and he watches Dare and Briar together "Umn, mnn. How do we go skydiving here? Aren't we trapped - _forever_? Until we get forced into a new weird experiment." He adds, in a weaker, much more nervous voice "I don't, umn. _I_ haven't had lovers. I don't. Identify. As bisexual. Or pansexual. I should probably go to my room. I don't know what name I want to use or anything."
The Thrill-Seeker's attention shifts suddenly and rapidly to Dare. The stunned look clears and a smile slowly blooms. Relief and joy in equal measure war for space. Then she all but launches herself at him. Wrapping her arms around his neck as she buries her face against his neck for a few seconds. Hugging him tightly, breathing in his scent out of habit of story left behind, before she releases enough to sit up awkwardly splayed on his lap. "Hi Briar," She says fondly before turning back to Dare. Now she studies his face intently, the smile not fading.
"I am so glad I didn't wake up all alone again," Thrill-Seeker says, her gaze moving to include the others. Boots gets his own once-over and a chagrined smile. "You weren't the only one with a monsterous appetite...I..." Her nose wrinkles and she rubs a hand across her face. "Nnnngnn...there's so -much-!" She says before looking at Optomist tenderly. "Oh...it's okay. I'll show you how we sky dive. Or we can hang glide..." And then there is more vodka.
The Martyr tells Briar firmly, "No one with any sense would reject a chance to e with you, Briar Love. And I am happy to eat vegetarian food with you. I supspect I'll likely never eat pork in the fac again after the lodge." He shudders, remembering the smell of his own flesh cooking.
He looks at Oh's distress and asks, "Are you sure you do not want a hug? I promise not to touch you anwhere peculiar." He thinks back a couple of years, "Remember the room with the forest in it? It can be pretty much anything." He nods, "When you are ready to talk, come find me and we will work through things together. My room is the Sign of the Bleeding Heart."
He lets go of Briar's hand the better to wrap Cheer in a tight hug. He smells much as dare used to, down to the citrusey fougere that Kemen also favoured when he was pretending to be human. he strokes her cheek, "It's all right, Lovely. I am here and still some aproximation of myself. Do you remember dying? I do not. the last thing I remember is... Yellowstone."
"Get a bottle of vodka and drink yourself to sleep," Briar suggests to Oh, kindly. They then duck their head and tell Dare, "You're just saying that. Okay, now I know it's really you. No one's that corny." They lean over and kiss Dare's cheek, then give Cheer a hug. "That's the last thing I remember, too," they say. "The geyser, and going to sleep in the back of the car."
The Thrill-Seeker watches Boots retreat even as she nuzzles Dare's hand. The hug is happily returned with some limb tangling. The mention of Yellowstone has her grinning a familiar coy grin. "I am -pretty- sure we didn't die?" Then she giggles and winks at Dare. "Didn't feel like dying anyway." the bottle is offered to the both of them. Though she leans in to press a light kiss to Dare's cheek on impulse.
The Martyr eyes Briar, "You think I'm corny?" He blushes, though not the way Finn used to. "It definately didn't feel like dying." He takes a deep breath, "I think I remember boots doesn't... or maybe didn't do sex and romance before." He thinks, "Aromantic? asexual? I can't remember which or if I have the right word." He pauses and whispers, "I do not think I am uite as bright as I used to be before I was a God." He takes a swig of the vodka and hands it back, "In any case, it might be a lot to process for him all by itself even without the murder and cannibalism. I know discovering my orientation had changed really hrew me. This is likely much worse for him.
The Addict rests their head on Dare's shoulder and keeps an arm around Cheer. "I think it's cute," they murmur to Dare, and they smile at him sweetly. Then she sighs. "There was just so much cannibalism. What was that? Were we just the monsters this time around? Is that how it worked? Maybe that's why we didn't die. Maybe all those poor people we killed were the ones trying to stop us."
They pause for a moment, then say, "Man, we really stuck it to them, though, didn't we?" Hey, rah rah rah for the home team.
The Thrill-Seeker considers both points and just makes a face and takes another gulp of vodka. The bottle offered to Briar as she snuggles in with them both. Unfortunately she isn't a cat anymore. "If we were the monsters...Hmph...that would make twisted sense. Right in line with this place. But I'm happy about one thing..." She turns that bright smile on Dare then. "You said next time we'd try to stay together. We did!" And she turns to look at Addict. "Beyond the dietary issues...how are you holding up?"
The Martyr curls an arm around Briar, wildly relieved that she is thawing again. "I did not eat anybody, though I did eat a lot of goat, chicken, and sheep. Weirdly, I am not at all distrecssed at the thought of... the cannibalism and murder I watched, though I think I would...still not do well watching a dismemberment." he does not curl up in a ball or weep or panic or pass out. There is distress, but it's more normal person distress at the thought of watching something like that. He kisses Briar's cheek, "We did, and you were both magnificant. I think... it is going to be hard not being a God anymore, even with the drawbacks." He shrugs, "I think most of the people who were killed deserved it, and I do not feel like the villian. I was trying to make the world better stil, in my own way."
The Thrill-Seeker nods her head slowly. "I really liked being a cat," She admits with a sigh. "Mmm...I think I better go bake cookies for people. Opal...uhh...Boots especially." She pauses in the getting up to kiss Martyr. A little sweet and lingering unless he pulls away. A last squeeze to them both before she is on her feet and heading for the dispensary for ingredients. The vodka left behind for Briar and Dare to enjoy...or perhaps forgotten.
"No one thinks they're a villain," Briar says. "But yeah, we mostly killed bad people. I don't know. I never know what to make of any of this." To Cheer, she says, "I'm doing all right. I want to talk to Chance. We were married for a long time."
When Cheer disentangles herself and heads off, she curls up at Dare's side. "I remember hoping I'd be a straight man, since it was going to be the thirties. I was straight, at least."
The Martyr's fingers are not as long r soft as they were as he touches Cheer's cheek when he kisses her back, but the touch is characteristic as is the kiss. When she is gone, he wraps both arms around Briar and buries his nose in her hair, Finnlike. He gives a bark of a laugh, "You definately were.... It's funny, I kept forgetting you were trans even after I knew. you were just so very clearly a woman. People reacting to you otherwise kept startling me, but the instant I saw you here, you were just so obviously Briar with all that means." He kisses the top of her head, "Can you get used to this, no you think?"
"I think so," Briar says. "It'll take some getting used to, having Cheer just squeeze right in and start making out with you. I'm trying to take this slow." They laugh a little, then sigh. "Guess time's not on my side." Still, they don't move away or go cold again. Cuddling is fairly tame, after all. "I don't know how I feel about public makeout piles. I need to think about this stuff."
The Martyr laughs softly, "I am sorry about that, Briar Love. I will talk to her if you like. We got into the habit of freeness back in the Boneyard Camp." he takes a deep breath, "Do you still want to do the... falling to sleep together thing, or would you rather that and the first waking be Chance? I will understand if you do. you were together a lot longer than we were.""
"I think that, tonight, I want a long bubble bath and to be in my own skin for awhile. Then I'm going to see if he's around and talk. You know I love you, sweetheart. That hasn't changed, not at all. I don't mind sharing you, that hasn't changed either. We just need to negotiate the new landscape. I think I just need to opt in to snuggle piles, and once in awhile I want to be greedy."
The Martyr keeps nuzzling her hair, "You are welcome to be greedy in any way you need to be. I will not take it as rejection and whatever new boundaries we need to negotiate, I am willing to do that. If you need time and space, I will give you that. If you need just you and Arthur time or just you and holden time, I will not begru-wait, was the kelpie Arthur your Arthur?" he takes a deep breath, "If you want me to yourself, I am yours. Love is too big and important to... to not work on things that need to be worked on, and I know that i very much would like to go on a date with just us when you are ready for that."
The Addict smiles softly and says, "Yeah, that was him. Isn't he magnificent? Isn't his beauty the stuff of legends? Even as in love with my husband as I was, Arthur was so captivating to me." She strokes Dare's cheek. "If you want time with your lovers, I won't begrudge you that. You should take them somewhere romantic and give them the attention they deserve. And the time we have will be ours. And, you know, if I'm in the mood for more than one-on-one..." She gives Dare a sly look. "It's not off the table. I'm just getting my bearings, still."
The Martyr sighs, "He is almost to beautiful to be real. You are very lucky, Briar." Then he is chuckling, "I think I would like that, Briar Love, once my feet are under me better. I am... itching because there arent any plants in my room. how silly is that?" He pulls back to better study their face, "May I kiss you?"
The Addict studies Dare's features in turn. So strange, but there's something familiar around those eyes. "Yeah," they say quietly. "I think I'd like that." Then, without waiting, they lean close and plant a kiss on Dare's lips, seeking more familiarity in the gesture.
The Martyr curls his fingers, Finnlike in the Addict's hair and kisses them in a way that shows that years of semeration hasn't changed his love for them in the least. His lps are a different shape, but the man inside still melts when they kiss, still desires Briar down to the marrow.
The Addict relaxes into the kiss and throws their arms around Dare's neck. When they draw away, they say with a soft laugh, "Same Dare I remember." They brush their fingertips over his lips, and there's no more ice left to melt. "Soon, we'll go to Paris," they say. "It'll be a good place to reconnect. We'll go in the morning and spend all day together. I'm sure no one will mind if we take one of the rooms for just a day."
The Martyr grins, touching forehead to forehead, "Not exactly, but I hope you will not mind when we get there." He looks into their eyes, "Time is faster there anyway. I want to see Notre Dame, and sit at a cafe and hold hands and people watch. I want to stand on the Pont Neuf and watch the sn go down over the Seine and watch the dinner boat lights on the water once it is dark. I want to make love to you somewhere we can see the lights of the city. I want to be with you, Love."
The Addict lets their eyes drift closed. They're completely relaxed now, and not just from a few sips of boozy tea. "That sounds fantastic," they murmur. "That's one of the things I like about being here. With those rooms, we can go anywhere." They pause, then say, "I know this might be a weird conversation to have with my boyfriend, but... but I liked Chance all the way back in Prosperity. What if he comes back, and this didn't mean anything?"
The Martyr kisses Briar's neck, "I do not mind, Love, but i need clarification. Do you mean this as in us or this as in his relationship with you wen you were in the carnival?"
"The marriage," Briar says. "What if he comes back and is just like 'wow wasn't that funny old chum' and I'm just pining for him? I know I'd heal in time, but it'll be torture. I'm not the same as Diamanto, but I was in love with hime. Me. And after two years together, I don't know what I'll do if he shrugs it off."
The Martyr strokes their hair lightly with his fingertips, "I think it's unlikely that he will feel that way, Love. I think... there was flirting when we were all here last time. I wouldn't be surprised if he wants to keep being with this you, but ifhe doesn't, I will be there for you while you grieve alone. Whatever he says, I will love and support you, but I think it will be all right, Love, I really do."
The Addict leans into the touch, those big brown eyes vulnerable in a way Dia's just weren't. Dia wasn't one to agonize. Dia would be beating Chance's door down demanding answers. Briar steals another quick kiss and says, "I hope you're right. I mean, of course I'd always be his friend, whatever he decided. I'm just getting worried over nothing."
The Martyr kisses them back, eyes open wide, and not very different from the familiar ones even though so much else has changed, "It's all right, Love. I am just glad you don't have to go through the waiting alone. You really can talk to be about these things, and if there is anything you'd like, an ear to listen, distraction, space, you need only to ask. I really do think it will work out, though."
Oh snuck off earlier, but now apparently he is back. Sneaking - or attempting to sneak - through to the dispensary. He is wearing a bright pink t-shirt which says 'One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor' and he is trying to listen to the others, a bit secretively.
"I can think of ways I enjoy being comforted," Briar says. "That's one thing I think I've taken from Dia. I thought Danny had a sex drive, but man. He was a priest compared to that girl." They slide to their feet. "I'm going to get that bath," they say. Then they steal another kiss before stepping away. "Hello," they say to Oh, like he isn't trying to spy on them. Then they saunter down the hallway, turning into their room.
The Martyr squeezes their hand and smiles up into the kiss, "Enjoy your bath, Love." He watches Briar watch with open apreciation. Then eyes the Optimist, "I do not think I've seen you in that shirt before."
Oh makes his way to where...well. Things are dispensed. He eyes the machinery and then he says "How...how doe this work?" Briar does not get a smile - but they _do_ get a polite nod. Apparently Boots is just too messed up to really be capable of smiling right now. He looks down at himself, and he says to Dare "Have you seen me in any t-shirt before? Can I make this thing distribute drugs?"
The Addict pauses and glances back. No hard feelings to Oh for not feeling up to smiling. "The dispensers don't distribute drugs. You find and do drugs in the rooms that turn into whatever you desire, however once you step out of the rooms, the drug's effects wear off. While you're in the room, though, you can get high." It was the question they were born to answer. Then they fingerwave and continue into their room.
The Martyr rises and follows Oh to the dispenser, "You imagine what you want and hit the button, but it is as Briar said." He flashes them a smile, "If you would like something else, we will have to go to one of the special rooms.... Do you want company?"
"I imagine what I want," says Boots, a little sadly "And I hit the button. And it becomes real. This is because I'm not real, isn't it? This isn't real technology. I'm a...computer game or something. I...what. Uh." He looks at the Martyr and he rubs the back of his neck "Ummn. You know. Really rude question, but are you still. Missing a bit."
The Martyr shrugs, "some people believe it is a game, yes. I perfer the alternate unverse Time Bandits theory to say hell or an experiment, but I think the best thing to do is take what time we have and live as best we can with it." he blushes faintly and looks away, "It is the first thing i checked when I woke up. It... grew back, but not the...way it was. It is normal. For a man. Just not the normal I was used to before...." He winces, "It is fine. Yes. All of my parts are there just not... what i am used to thinking of as mine."
"Because your shape has changed," says Boots "Mine hasn't. I think. But. It has. Because I was a _snake_ and not a person, and I don't have enough 'person' in here. Just snake. This is very fucking wrong." He eyes the machine and he says "Absinthe." And he hits the button, and then he says "Eh, I would not be embarassed. I mean. It's got to be the thing on your mind, right? Umn." He stares as a green bottle appears, and he takes it out "Why can we make some drugs - like alcohol - but not others, in here? Is it because we're socialised about drugs?"
The Martyr nods, still not looking at him, "Because my shape has changed. Yes." he takes a deep breath and looks him in the eyes, "It is very fucking wrong and I'm sorry something so confusing has happened to you. If there is any way at all I can help you adjust, I will do it. Whatever it is you want from me, I will try." He eyes the dispenser, "It is just one more mystery, I fear."
"I don't want anything from you, I don't...really know who _you_ are," says Boots, awkwardly "You're in love with, I don't know - her? Briar? I don't really get it all. I'm not 'woke'," he makes air quotes "I try to not be cruel, or mean, and to look on the bright side - not that I know _why_. But we, ummn. I mean. I think we had a sss...sort of relationship? Sort of? I don't _know_. Was it actually us? Or was it like, umn. Something we just experienced?"
'Woke' flies entirely over Dare's head as most of his existance has been spent in the '30's and the '80's. "Them. Briar is genderfluid and uses they and them pronouns. It is a future thing, but the words are useful." He studies the Optimist, and then says with complete conviction, "I am your friend. I was your friend from the very first day when you woke up here. I was your friend in that place. I chose to be your friend then too, from the moment you walked into my trailer, confused and struggling to... to nearly everything. I was your lover for a while, another thing we both chose." He is deadly serious and his dark eyes are intense, a hin of left over kemen magnatism, "I do not know what is real or true about our situation there or here, but one thing I absolutely believe is that the things we choose for ourselves, the relationships we chose for ourselves are real. When we are thee it is a bit like an alterned state. Sometimes we do terrible things to ourselves and other people that we would not do here, and that can be difficult to deal with." He is very adament about this next, "I chose to be your friend twice. Alterned state or no? Of My FREE WILL. As far as I am concerned I am your friend. Whatever else we might or might not be we need to work out, but my friendship for you is real. My caring for you is real."
"They, okay. I can do 'they'. That's the thing in the LGBTAQ+ system," says Boots, who stares at his drink, and then he opens it, and he says to Dare "I'm not bisexual. I'm not pansexual. I don't have sex with...anyone. I'm Asexual and Aromantic. Do you know what those things are? Like, I dunno - sorry if that's an offensive question, I just don't...know who knows what these days." He frowns a bit, and he says "...I was dying. In that world. I mean, I knew I was dying. Closer to death than the rest of you. But it didn't bother me, I never felt any fear. I knew I could change it all." He colours, and he stares at the bottle "Yeah, terrible things. I know I'm not the only one. But I murdered and _ate_ people. I don't know how to deal with that. I feel like. I should report myself to the police. Oh God. What if we do worse things? What if-" He swallows, pushing it back, and then he says "I'm sure you guys feel like this with new people. That girl. I met a girl here. She was from a hundred years _after me_. I'm from 2019. She's from like 2119."
The Martyr nods, "I didn't, but you mentioned those words last time we were here and I asked the future people to explain them to me. It is a reasonable question, and I'm not offended." He takes a deep breath, "I remembered about your orientation when I woke up. Sometimes these things change, so i could not be sure. Last time I died gay and woke up bisexual, which shok me. I could not be sure until you said it yourself, but I thought it might still be the case. I... will not touch you in anyway you do not want to be touched or without your permission. I will not expect... things we did togetheer to repeat here. It is all right. I still want to be your friend. Yes, even with the cannibalism and murder. I still offer entirely platonic hugs if they will help." He cocks his hea, "Which grl. A bunch of them are from my future?"
Oh says "It doesn't mean I can't be friends with people. And things like that. I mean. You're clearly queer. I'm queer. But I think. Probably just about everyone here is, more or less? I mean, Sekmet thought Diamanto was sexy. Maybe they...have. Maybe we've been altered so much we're all kind of. Elastic." He runs his hand across the back of his neck "I just feel weird because, you know, I have this like. Identity. As who I am. I feel like it's part of me. Except I can _clearly_ remember having sex, and it being...and when Philomena comes out, like. Am I going to upset her. She and I were. You know...ugh. What's wrong with me." He lifts the bottle and he drinks, heavily, throat moving, and wipes his wet mouth, and then he says "I just don't want to be touched, because, no offence, I feel like a fucking. Deviant. It isn't you, it's me. I had like. I was a _snake_. I must be...what if I'm into beastiality. Oh God." His voice is slurring "Oh God." And then he says, vaguely "I dunno, she just sort of reminded me of Brigette?"
The Martyr says, “It is possible that is the case." His face melts with deep understanding, "Being gay wa a huge part of my identity. Nearly everything I did was tied up in it. When i suddenly wasn't, it was like the ground was made of jello and I kept falling through....Of course it's upsetting. Of course you are freaked out and off balance." He says gently, "Nothing is wrong with you. You are having an entirely reasonable rction to an unreasonable circumstance. Getting dunk off your ass is a sensible thing at this point. So is venting." He looks away, "If either of us is the deviant, it is me. You were a snake, after all I... should reasonably have know better, but didn't. at least you were attracted only to humans I... clearly wasn't." He hits the button and a bottle of whiskey pops out. He opens it and takes a swig. "Wendy. Brigette is Wendy. She is one of the olddest of us. Philly... I haven't seen her before and do not know what door is hers or if she is... one of the ones who don't come here after. I am sorry."”
Oh lifts the bottle, saluting the Martyr, and then he clears his throat, and he says "I was in love with a snake that was either my sister or my brother or my _wife_. What is wrong with me. Oh God, what's wrong with me." He loweres his head down, and his tears start to run down his face "I'm a horrible, awful thing. I wish I was...but I can't even kill myself, can I?" He coughs, snotty, rubbing his face "This is just so. It's just so. I don't know what I am. I'm sorry. You've been here longer. This stupid place. It's so awful. I know I need to look on the bright side. I know I do. But I thought people might love me..." He takes a breath, and then tops more off the bottle "It's easier, being Asex. I know no one will love me. But then it was just. Oh God. I'm drunk. Please get drunk and forget what I said, Ke...uh. What was your name again?"
The Martyr drinks, "Both my wife and my mistress had been my sisters. I was literally fucking animals. It made sense at the time." He sees the tears and it steadies him, "Nothing is wrong with you. Opal, Boots, I don't know what to call you, but those things: the murder and cannibalism and the weird incest and bestiality stuff? That was part of the set up. Things that were chosen for us that we couldn't see as wrong when we were in the altered state of the... the place they sent us." Another drink, "Dare. My name is Dare. I do love you. Not romantically. We were never like that whatever else we were, but you are my friend and I have loved you as a friend most of the time I can remember existing except for the cople of weeks I was Finn and didn't know you yet. I know what you did out there and I am still your friend and I'm going to go on caring about you whatever you say and no matter how much we drink."
Oh's voice has slurred, as it would be if one drank about a cup of absinthe "I had sex. Wha...I mean. I've had sex _before_. I know that, you know? But I can't remember any details. I just knew that I could do it, but it didn't make me feel right." He sighs, heavily, and then he says "...I wasn't an animal. Neither was that unicorn - Colorado. Oh God. What's wrong...what's wrong..." He sniffles, and then he wipes at his face, his snotty nose, and finally he leans back and he stares at the ceiling "I've known you for four years. And like. Also no time at all. I don't want this, D...Dare? Can we stop? I mean. Do you think. They could stop fucking with us now? I'm really tired. I wanted to change you all. So I could help everyone realise that we had a future. And you wanted me to help you. I was going to. Even though I knew I wasn't actually gonna be your brother. That woulda been so easy for you..."
The Martyr says quietly, "I think it might be agood idea if we sit down. It will be hard for you to move around easily soon, I think, and I can not help you wth that without touching you. Could you please, please come sit down?" he offers The Optimist his purple pocket square, "For your nose." He takes another drink, "I think this is why they gove us the alchohol. Sometimes we need a good cry and then to be numb.... Wait, what is this about not being my brother?"
"Yeah, that's simple - you were diametrically opposed, that was in your wheelhouse," says Oh, who slumps down next to the Martyr. He stares at him "Even though you were afraid, that was what you _were_. To change to Horticulture, you had to be challenged in an entirely...harder way." Harder. Worse. Apparently Oh had plans "Ahhhmn. Well...why did it stop before I could do it? To show you _exactly_ what your brother wanted, to force you to confront your shadow self? That's just. I worked it all out." He takes the pocket square, and cries into it a bit "I don't want to be touched, I'm just. I. Yes. You know, I bet that's why. They must be sentient."
The Martyr says, “Some people think there is another facility and some of them are from there. At least maybe the recurring ones, like Dini and Erik....Wait, you were going to do What to me? Nevermind." His eyes flick over the Optimist's face, "I think something may have gone wrong. We neither died nor resolved. It was too... in the middle of things."”
"You mean, something interrupted? I wasn't here before - did, ah. What happened. Did things always, you know, finish off?" asks Oh, uncertainly "Or was it like that? I don't have the experience. And I don't know who Dini and Erik are. Were."
The Martyr says, “People who die come here piecemeal as they die. It's why I was here when you arrived originally. The ones who survived the island lived an extra year, then woke up here all at once. Dini was... one of the bad guys back at the Lodge, and Industry when we were in carnival. Erik was one of Leona's people this time. From the cooch tent? He was in the frat back at the lodge. Let's sit down, okay?”
Oh lies on the ground "So the bad people are also. Coming back here. We must have been kidnapped by aliens." He has said that before "And now they are trying to understand us by forcing us to relive things. Or live things. Look. I'm sorry. I don't. Mean to upset you. I'm just. Confused?" He looks up, completely smashed as he has another mouthful "I don't have two dicks any more. And I'm back to being what I am. A just. A just. Weird guy who'll never be accepted by anyone else." He puts his head in his hands "The cooch tent. Man, that's just. A filthy term. Don't you think?"
The Martyr sighs and sits cross legged on the floor with him. "Dini and Erik have never turned up here, only out there." Dare is holding his liquor rather well, though there is a faint flush to his face. The days of lightweight finn are long gone. "We re all confused and I do not mind talking. But is good to have company when you drink, yes?" He blushes again at the mention of the extra snake penis. Still he leans forward and says firmly, "I accept you, remember? Snake or man we are friends. You are not alone. I think you are not the only one who is going to be having a hard time coming to terms with this one, and I also think tthat you will till have friends who care about you and accep you here. many things are wrong, but we still have each other.
"I guess everyone else who ate people is fucked up too," says Boots, who then clutches his head "I got a crush on a horse. _Two horses_. What...what about Colorado and Arthur? I hope they are all right. I want to see them...again. And Philomena." He finally sighs, completely drunk. He has skolled half the bottle of the high proof spirits, and he lies on his back "Yes, it's good to have company. I mean. Even if you are a guy. I let fuck me. Or wanted to fuck me. Or something. Oh was weird. He just wanted someone to want him. He liked it when you did that." He flops, and the bottle starts to leak onto the floor "Yeah, but you guys r'all sexual, and I'm not. Where I'm from, gay dudes fuckin' hate asexual people. Well. They act like it, I guess. I mean. They don't really care about us. But they don't want us to be Queer." He says "...I'ma close my eyes."
The Martyr nods, "It is going to be a mess. I think there will be a lot of pie and alchohol consumed.... I wanted to make that you feel good." He reaches over and carefully sets the bottle upright without touchingBoots. "Not liking you because you are asexual makes no sense at all. Where I am from originally, everyone was dying and the only thing to do was have each other's backs, to take care of each other. The lesbians nursed dying men even though they had no reasons to like us. We are all queer together: You, Me, Briar, and the Lesbians." He takes another swig of his whiskey, "Would you like a blanket and a pillow? Could you lie on your side for me, perhaps? I kow you will come back tomorrow if you die, but I would much perfer you did not, and I can not rll you myself without touching you."
"Nope, this aint' gonna kill me," slurs the Optimist "I'd need a lot more for alcohol poisoning. I am fucked, well and truly, ahhhh. Look. I appreciate that you're not pushin' me. But. Everyone's always felt _sorry_ for people like me, or wanted us t'do sex like, I dunno, I suppose girls have it worse, boys'r just like, you must be gay and -" And he is really out of it, already nodding. He says "OK, I'll lie on my side." And he does it "M'gonna need to piss like a racehorse soon, ok. Why don' you go find that Briar. Hope she don't eat you. Night, man."