Log:Who Are We Here?

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Who Are We Here?
Characters  •   The Martyr  •  The Beast  •
Location  •  Beast's Room
Date  •  2019-10-29
Summary  •  Martyr and Beast sit down to talk about who they've been, who they've been to each other, who they are, and where things go from here.

There's no telling what time it is, as time has little meaning in this place. But for the moment, Beast is in his room. The door possesses the image of a grim and dangerous figure poised for combat, surrounded by the bodies of his enemies. It's really not particularly welcoming at all. Which is probably why he's only ever had two visitors inside it to see what it's like inside.

Inside, the room is surprisingly, perhaps, nondescript. It looks like a hotel suite in a nice enough hotel, with all the standard accoutrements that one might expect to find, with the addition of a closet full of clothing that look like they might belong to a secret agent, hit man, military personnel, security personnel? Something of the ilke, or perhaps all of the above. And there is a surprising number of drawers that contain weapons compartments filled with guns, blades, and the like -- all of them replicas, of course, since there are no real weapons in the facility.


The Martyr knocks lightly. He has Glenlivet in his hand, remembering that first night, which has been on his mind a lot the last few days. He's dressed in the black trousers with the deep pleats, a black dress shirt, a purple tie, and a waistcoat in a matching purple with black musical notation on it. His hair is perfectly combed with citrus pomade he combs the citrus pomade. His aftershave is fougere based with a hint of clove. His tone is carefully casual, hint of Valencia creeping in to Dare's west coast mix, "Thought I'd take you up on your offer."


The Beast is not nearly so dressed up. He is, as he almost always is in this place, in a comfortable pair of jeans, white athletic socks, and a lightweight sweater in a dark green. He is seated in a comfortable chair beneath a reading lamp and has a book open in front of him. He does a lot of reading in the Facility when he's not doing other things, and now is no different. All that's missing is the cup of tea, which he doesn't seem to have at the moment. He glances up when Dare comes in, and he nods toward the chair opposite his and the small table between, inviting him to bring over the bottle. "Make yourself comfortable," he says, the British accent nothing like Mark or Morrison's American accents, or Emory's neutral Common. Connor sounds like a Londoner.


The Martyr nods and pulls up a chair, setting the bottle between them. The accent shift doesn't seem to bother him. Intelligent eyes study him across the table. After a pause, his lips tick up in amusement, "When I met Caleb, he was a terrified kid a was sort of trying to mentor as an adult gay man with a civil rights law practice. When I woke up here, he was about as much older than me than I had been to him a day before and he was helping me adjust to this place. These things can be weird, and I have no idea at all where to start."


The Beast closes the book and sets it off to one side. The titleon it reads "The Moon in Hiding" by Theresa Edgerton. It appears to be some sort of a fantasy novel, not very big or weighty. Every time he is reading, it seems to be something entirely different -- different genres, different authors, different time periods. He studies Martyr across the way and says, "The shifting can be disconcerting, depending on the degree of the changes and the nature of the scenarios in which we find ourselves." He considers and says, "When I first met Caleb, he worked for me on the Hephaestus, a mining ship. Then, he'd hired me to kill his wife, and in return owed me a debt. I ended up being the champion for his family against a demon's curse. Then we were kids at the camp from hell. Coyote and Thunderbird. Then he snuck onto my team on the Icarus. And lastly, my brother."


The Martyr nods, "I thought I'd gotten pretty good at the shifts. At integrating myself. At navigating the ways the relationships change. I think I was wrong." He cocks his head, "I can feel the thread that runs through the bits of you I've seen out there and this you. I still can't figure out how this me and this you relate. There's so much of you I don't know at all. You've seen me both at my worst and my least mature. I suspect you know me better than I know you."


"I think that this situation that we find ourselves in is not the way that life is meant to be," Connor says, nodding vaguely in the direction of the hall. "People were meant to live a life, and move on. I don't think people are meant to switch back and forth between lives and then carry them all in their minds together, needing to make sense of them all. So.. not being quite settled in figuring things out doesn't strike me as particularly.. unexpected?" He settles forward then, leaning with his hands clasped in front of him and his elbows on his knees. "I don't know as I'd presume to know you, the you that you are here. We are.. who we make of ourselves here. I'm parts of all of my previous lives, and parts of what I've decided to be here. I'm not sure that I know you any better than you know me."


The Martyr thinks that over, watching his face, "I think of it as a mosaic. Fragments fitted into an underlying design in ever increasing intricacy. There is a fundamental beauty to it, even though some of those fragments are glazed with blood, tears, and ashes. Natural or not, as bad as it gets sometimes, and I was here when Max destabilized and transformed into wendy, so I've a decent idea of what some of the messiest bits look like, I think we are beautiful. All of us. I don't know what we're evolving towards, but I'm facinated to see what the end point looks like, if there is one."


The Beast studies Martyr and nods, "It's an interesting way to look at it, as an evolution." He considers that and then says, "I have no idea what the end game is, if there even is one, or if this isn't some kind of strange Hell designed for someone else's amusement, or punishment for some wrong none of us can even remember having committed." He smiles faintly, then he reaches for the bottle and opens it, getting up to get a couple of glasses, returning and setting them on the table. He pours a few fingers for each of them, and then offers a glass to Martyr. "So, what has been on your mind?"


The Martyr shrugs, "I don't know, but I'm an optimist. My hope is we're sort of in an alternate universe Time bandits senario. That they are sending us out over and over to save a place, or the world, or humanity. I think the... crurelty is a side effect. They shuffle in the sort of people they need for the work, and trade us out when we don't suit anymore. It fucking hurts when someone we like and care about is shuffled out, and there is a certain amount of PTSD and the like in the survivors when we have a bad one or from the long term wear and tear, but we have each other and enough of us are good at helping the wounded that we mostly do okay. I'm willing to pay an aftermath like I had post Icarus for being hear with the people that matter mot to me in the interstaces." he smiles wryly, "But your older than me. I may see it differently when I've lost more people for good."

Dare takes the glass and sips, watching Connor over the rim, "I like you. I like having you in my life. Working with you was good. Being friends was better."


"Older and younger is strangely relative in here," Connor says, who may actually look a little younger now, than Dare, in their current positions. "I've been through a few more lives, but I'm not sure that makes me any more .. anything, really." He takes a sip from his own glass and then settles back into his chair, holding it in his hands in front of him as he leans forward once more. "It's an interesting theory, that we're somehow being used to save the world. Though, it seems unnecessarily cruel to do it in this particular way. And I'd have to question some of the choices that are made along those lines." He smiles a little bit wryly, and then studies Dare, giving a nod. "I liked Angel. It was hard for Emory to watch what happened to him. He, I, liked him." Then he nods and lifts his glass, taking a sip from it. "Morrison cared about Hector, more than he ever said."


The Martyr smiles crookedly, "I'm not sure whoever it is thought all the implications through for those of us doing the patching. I'm also of the opinion that we're partially wiped copiesof people out there. It would explan why people like Arcade, Fizz, and Cheer woke up here without memories of their lives, but tastes, personalities, place names, and an extra language in Arcade's case. Me waking up with Finn's taste in cologne and alcohol could be explained by memory, but me always picking similar colognes out their and favoring whiskey with my memory wiped and replaced really can't. It might not have occurred to them to think of us as full people until the... whatever it is had been going a while, at which point they tried to revise to help, which explains things like the Anywhere room upgrades and the Max becoming Wendy anomoly. All of this might be a bit ad hoc and revised as they go based on our behavior."

He smiles softly, "Oh, Hector knew. He realised it the day he fucked up with Lucas, but earlier in the conversation when he was explaining to Lucas that we weren't enemies. When he saw that his Morrison was not even close to Lucas'. He was... tunnel visioned the way teenagers often are and had so fucking much to learn, but he wasn't nearly as stupid as he sometimes acted. I that moment, he really got Morrison: what it must cost him be who he was trying to be, the incredible trust he'd placed in Hector in showing so much of himelf. I tried very hard to live up to that trust, to protect... the soft spots in the armour."


"That it is a strange experiment gone awry and constantly being re-iterated wouldn't surprise me," Connor says as he lifts his glass and takes another sip. "It would account for the changes. I keep waiting, watching, to see if there is some sort of loophole, some crack in the wall that shows, that can be exploited, to slip free. But thus far, the experiments don't seem to have yielded much." But he's patient. He can wait, and watch. Then he nods when Dare mentions when Hector realized how different Morrison was with him than with others. "The only one who knew him better was Theodore. And that's because they grew up together."


The Martyr nods, sipping his drink, "I suspected as much. I'm glad you had each other; that you really weren't as alone as you often seemed. I'm glad that I helped with that, even in the small ways I managed." He meets his eyes, "You were good for me in the end, even if I wasn't in a position to see it in the begining. I cared about you a lot in my half cocked Hector way."


The Beast slips in and out of talking about his past lives in the third person and in the first, not seeming to wholly inhabit them, but not seeming not to either. "Not good enough to keep you from flinging yourself in front of a bullet like a damn fool," he says before taking another sip from his glass and regarding Dare over the edge of it. "I couldn't stop. You would have died for nothing if we didn't get everyone free and out of there. If Fran didn't die. But I never forgot you, either. There just wasn't time for mourning until after the place burned."


The Martyr winces, "I can't help, myself, Connor. It's my nature. Love and sacrifice. I have the survival instincts of a lemming. I wanted to live so damned much; I couldn't have done anything other than make that rush. I NEED to be between people and harm, one way or another. Finn and seb used to argue over who got out last after every mission."

He sips his drink, gaze level, "The mission coves first. Saving everyone has to come ahead of a boy who was basically dead when he hit the floor. If our positions had been reversed, I'd have done the same and mourned you later. I think you and I have always been alike in this: We both choose the hard thing because it's right. It's why we were so good together on Icarus, why I finished the mission, then turned my gun in the moment I decided I could be a threat to the bigger goal of saving all we could. It's why you and I were the first running in with makeshift sheilds against guns. We act no matter how much it hurts us personally. I think it's why it feels so good having you at my back when trouble comes. I trust you the way I trust myself to do anything t all for the greater good."


"I think you vastly overestimate my altruism," Connor says with a slight shake of his head after he listens to Dare without interruption. "I ran in there to get Lucas and Lennon out and to stop that bitch Fran from making things worse for my family. I didn't give two shits for the rest of those kids in there. Maybe Jade. But with you dead? I wouldn't have gone back in to save them if they didn't get out when the place burned. Icarus was different. Emory was loyal to his integrity and ethics and the role that he fulfilled, and that meant trying to protect the safety of everyone, including humanity, ultimately, if it came down to it." He leans back in his chair, "But Mark only cared for a small handful of people - his sister, Julian, Matthew, Gus. He threw himself on that ghost and got himself killed so that Julian could get out. Only Julian. He wouldn't have done that for anyone else."


The Martyr cocks his head, "Ah." He sips, thinking, "Similar actions. Different drives. Star who was Ashley and I tend to be like that. Same goal and often same results with similar actions, entirely different motive. You and I define 'us' deferently depending on circumstances. Hector knew that. It's why he mentioned which of your family was going in the nigt of Graduation. It's just in my heart of hearts, I hoped the definition wuld expand under the right circumstances." He flashes him a quick smile, "It's all right. Honest is better. It always will be with me, I think."


"What do you mean, you and I define 'us' differently?" Connor asks, not sure he quite follows what Dare is referring to exactly, and seeming to find this point important. "If you hadn't died, you would have been among the ones that I would have tried to get out. You were part of Morrison's pack, his territory, the people that he considered his and wanted to protect. Even if you weren't blood. Lucas and Landon weren't even blood in the end -- but they were pack."


The Martyr says quietly, "Us in my head when I'm out there is always all of us. Even Addison that first time who was doing his level best to destroy me withoutpersonally drawing a drop of blood.My goal is always every body lives. Then as many peoople as possible live when my first goal inevitably fails. Sounds like Us for you is your pack, however it gets defined big or small. I intuited that when I was Hector, that you'd do your damnedest to keep me safe. that I was on the list of your people, even after things got really bad for youbecause of me. It why the hope you might... expand the definition, but it doesn't change my liking for you, knowing that you didn't."


"I can't choose from here how I will define who or what I am loyal to when it comes down to it in there," Connor says with a slight shake of his head. "The circumstance dictates who needs to be protected, who matters, who should be saved versus not. It's admirable to be altruistic, to want to do things for the greater good, and to consider everyone as part of 'us' every time; but I don't think that's ever who I am in these scenarios. I think Evan came the closest. Evan was a lonely man with nothing. Even his family treated him sort of as an outcast. And yet, in the end, he gave up everything, including his life, to try and save everyone because it was the right thing to do. So, I wouldn't say that I'm incapable of it -- just that it's not always going to be the same in every situation."


The Martyr nods, "We are not in our right minds exactly. Ot here we have perspective. In there we play them as they lay and do our best with what we're dealt." He reaches slowly, so as not to startle and lightly touches the back of Connor's wrist, a hint of Egyptand Sudan twining with his usual west coast American accent, "If you're trying to break it gently to me that next time I may not matter to you, that you might even betray me out there, it's all right. Your nature is your nature. I won't hold it against you here, whatever I think of out there."


The Beast nods, "We're in a right mind, it's just not the mind with the combined experience of the whole. And so we can only be responsible for our actions within the context that we're given." He doesn't move away when Dare reaches toward him, though his gaze flickers from the hand up to the man's eyes, curiously, not accustomed to anyone trying to touch him. But he neither balks nor bites. It's the words that follow that seem to startle him more, both brows raising slightly. "No," Connor says, "That wasn't what I was saying at all. What I was saying is that I think that you have a good heart that well and truly means well in a broad capacity for the good of all, even if in doing so, it leads to foolish things like diving in front of bullets. I wasn't saying anything at all about what might happen in the future." His brow furrows just a little and he shakes his head. "I'd like to hope that when we encounter one another again, that we would be friends." He can't guarantee that, but then, no one can guarantee anything in this place.


The Martyr makes a silent 'Ah." He raises his eyebrows at the Beast's reaction to his touch, but decides not to comment, "I hope the same. That we'll be friends. If we aren't? Well, there's always here." His fingers linger a moment longer before he pulls away to reach for his glass. Casually, casually, "You don't come out much, do you? When we're here. It was good seeing you out in the parlour though. I wouldn't have come here if you hadn't and I always did like talking to you."


It certainly doesn't seem like he minds the touch, and when Dare's fingers slip away and reach for his glass, Connor reaches for the bottle and adds a bit more to his own glass before setting the bottle down again. "I do," Connor says when Dare says that he doesn't come out much. "I read out in the parlor fairly often, actually. Though, I suppose that Theo and I spend a good deal of time in the rooms, too." Meaning the Anywhere Rooms. "So I'm not always out there, no. But I've been there at least for a while every time that we've been back. Though, even Penny, who has been through every lifetime that I have -- I haven't really seen outside of the scenarios until this time. I suppose it's more a timing thing, than anything else." He asks then, "If you'd wanted to talk, why wouldn't you have come?"


The Martyr flashes him a grin, "I wasn't sure which was yours or if you wanted company until you mentioned it out there. I noticed you did it twice." He cocks his head, watching in a familiar challenging way.


"True, I'm not sure that I knew which door was yours, either, until you described it," Connor admits as he lifts his glass once more and considers the liquid within. Then he raises his eyes and meets the challenging gaze. One brow lofts a little. "I did what twice?"


The Martyr takes a drink, "Describe your room and your sigil. Once the first night I saw you there. Once the second. Of course, it might have been meant for thewhole room. I'm still not sure."


"Oh, once it was just for the room since we were discussing people's doors in general," Connor says. "The second time it was for you, specifically, an invitation to come and talk if you wanted to." He sets his glass down on the table again and settles back in his chair, resting his elbow on the arm and his chin on his hand. "I liked talking to you. As Angel, as Hector."


The Martyr's grin widens a little, "I liked that too. As Angel. As Hector particulary. There was just something about the two of us talking and smoking. It felt... right you know? A glimpse of something I wanted that I never even thought to picture. I never could put it into words properly."


"It felt right from the moment we talked at that party, and you came with me to that cliff," Connor says as he watches Dare from across that short distance between them. He shakes his head just a little bit. "The conversation under the bridge, the talk in the park. It was .. comfortable. Even with Lucas, who, don't get me wrong, I loved like the brother he was -- I had to be something for him that was stronger, and tougher, and to some degree, invulnerable."


The Martyr nods, "I knew better than to go with you, tht it could be a tap, but I trusted you from the first moment. I liked your arm around my shoulder and it was exactly right. We were just two guys without all the rest of the baggage. I didn't know what Lester meant. You didn't know I was a Thistle. we could just... be without expections or pretense. It felt so fucking free."


"I didn't know anything about you other than that I liked the way that you looked at me. I liked the way that you were up for an adventure into the unknown with no idea where we were going or what we were going to do, but you were ready to see where the road took you," Connor says as he smiles a little bit. "I never would have pushed you if I didn't know you'd be fine, if I didn't plan on diving in after you. I wasn't going to take you anywhere I wasn't going to go, myself. And when you didn't punch me for it?"


The Martyr closes his eyes, "The cliff thing was so incredibly sexy, you know? And of course you jumped in after. It was exactly right. That whole night was exactly right. The adventure of it. The adrenaline, the way you looked in those jeans and that jacket. There wasn't a chance in hell of me punching you. I wanted to rip your clothes of then and there, cold and wet be damned."


The Beast laughs, "If the hotel hadn't been /right there/ literally, I might not have waited. But I wanted that night to last for a long time. And the cold rocks weren't nearly as conducive to that as a warm room. Not that I wouldn't have stripped naked on the beach if it had come down to it."


The Martyr says, "It was a perfect night. Exactly what I wanted and needed. Wrestling you. taking and being taken."


The Beast nods, and reaches for his glass then, taking another swallow from it before balancing it on the arm of the chair. "Me, too. Aside from Tanner, I hadn't really been with anyone else other than Theo. And Tanner only because of Theo, really. Not until that night."


The Martyr cocks his head, "Who was Tanner?" He gives a bark of a laugh, "I couldn't tell. I really, really couldn't. You were so sure of yourself, you know? I'd mostly been with Cash. That was the summer before and had messsed aroud wth a few people from High School, but... Two people? God! You were this wicked sexy, mysterious older guy and it all just clicked.


"I dated a lot of people," Connor says, "But I'd really only slept with Theo and Tanner. Alex? He was a bouncer at the Kokomo and Theo's friend. The three of us grew up together. Went to high school together. Theo slept with him from time to time. Sometimes the three of us would get together." He shrugs his shoulders, "I mean, I knew what I was doing. I just didn't really want anyone else. Not until that night."


The Martyr nods along until that last. Intense dark eyes meet his, "I was different? I wonder why...."


"Passion," Connor says. "You were.. intense.. in a way that others weren't. You weren't intimidated by me, but you also weren't trying to tame me or make me something I wasn't."


The Martyr remembers his drink and takes a sip, "You definately read that right. I liked your wildness. I liked that we could... keep up with each other. I definately wasn't scared of you, though I was pretty sure others should be if they hurt someone you cared about. I always felt safe with you. Maybe because of the Wildness. Definately not in spite of it."


"And I'll be honest, I didn't care that you were eighteen even when I found out. If I'd known at the beginning, I probably wouldn't have invited you to go out to the cliff -- not because you were a Thistle. Fuck that. Nothing wrong with Thistles. But because picking up high school kids is the kind of creepy shit I didn't want to be accused of. It wasn't something I did. Hell, I didn't even pick up people, in general.. aside from that party." Connor smiles a little wryly, "Which is why I found it a little sadly funny when you seemed to think I just picked up people.. I guess I could understand /why/ you'd think it. But I couldn't make myself come out and tell you that wasn't a thing."


The Martyr nods, "Same. I took you for a year or two olderat most. Firelight and shadow, I guess. I wouldn't have gone if I'd known, but once we'd... Iwas enjoyig myself to much not to keep going. I regretted that thing I said when I was angry about trolling for high schoolers almost as soon as I said it. I knew it was unfair when I said it. I did everything in my power to get people to shut that down when they heard people udsing that nickname." he touches his hand again lightly, "If you had said it, it wouldn't have mattered. I think for ll the things I didn't know or guess, I was responding to you. The inside you, not the outside you from the second our eyes met"


The Beast nods, "I know you did. It did stop eventually. By the end, people seemed to have let it go for the most part, and had moved on to the bigger problems." He doesn't seem bothered by it now, at any rate, even though his British accent had begun to fade a little for Morrison's more familiar speech patterns, and language as he'd gone on talking about the memories. He turns his hand a little bit at the touch, returning it with just a slight brush of his fingertips. "No, it probably wouldn't have mattered, not then, anyway."


The Martyr shakes his head, "No. It wouldn't have by then." He leaves his hand where it is, the two of them touching that tiny bit. He cocks his head, expression open, accepting, "I want you to know that wherever we are now, is okay."


The Beast lifts his glass and takes a long drink from it before he sets it back down off to one side, and he nods his head to what Dare says. "I still feel the things that Morrison feels. It's still all there, fresh, right beneath the surface."


The Martyr smiles crookedly, "I feel the same. It's all still there. They all noticed how I look at you. I just...don't know where that leaves us with your complications and mine."


"Did they?" Connor asks, glancing back toward the hallway, as though he could see the aforementioned 'they', but of course there's nothing but the door, currently closed. He then looks back to Dare and says, "I don't know where that leaves us." He then says, "Theo and I have something here, that we've decided to hold onto. We are together here, regardless of what happens there. Sometimes we come together there, and sometimes.. we haven't. But we always come back to each other here." And not unlike Morrison, it's not something that he's talked about with anyone else, except Dare, now. "We've kept it private, between us. But I don't want there to be any secrets between us. Whatever else there is, I'd like us to be friends."


The Martyr says, "The ones that really know me anyway." There is nthing but sincerity in his gaze, "Whatever else, I want us to be friends." His lips curl up, "I was pretty sure it was something like that with you and Theo. That feels right too. Briar and I were only together once out there, but they always come first with me in here. There are others I love, more each time I return, though sometimes we end up friends and sometimes not." A wry smile, "I'm like that. Once I care about someone, I'm bad at stopping the caring, but the shape of that caring can change. Love or sex or friendship. It's all love in different forms. Love and sacrifice all the way down." Another quick, wry smile, "It's in my nature." A breath, "You and Theo? That's special. Whatever you say about the two of you in here, stays in here. Whatever you say next to me? We're still friends. I just like knowing where the boundaries are.""


"I loved him in our first incarnation together," Connor says. "He was a rock star, a disaster, but brilliant, and kind to me when I was alone on the streets. I became his bodyman, and we made it out of that first scenario together. We were on the plane back to London when we ended up here. We decided that we wanted to try.. something. That we wanted to hold onto something here. This last time.. we finally got to have a life together, where we hadn't before." He looks down into his glass and studies the liquid there before lifting it and taking another swallow. "I do love him. I think of Caleb as a brother. Aside from that, I haven't formed bonds with anyone else here other than Matthew. And Matthew is gone now. Wherever people go when they're no longer here anymore. I miss him. But I don't regret the time that we had together at the Lodge." He says, "And I would miss you, too, if you weren't here." He nods about Briar and says, "It's good that you have each other. We haven't really spoken much, but Mark liked Danny. And Morrison liked Jade."


The Martyr leans forward, really moved, "I'm so damned hppy you got that. You deserved that. I wanted it so bad for you both, that me and this me.... I'm sorry about Matthew." He takes a breath, "I hate the thought of you lonely, Connor."


"It's alright. Matthew and I were a start of something, but I died at the lodge, and whatever we might have been was never realized. It really hit Julian hard. And on the Icarus, Emory and he had a casual thing off and on but.. after the Icarus he was gone. I would have liked more time to get to know him better, but sometimes we don't get that. So we need to appreciate what time we do have while we have it," Connor says. Then he shakes his head a bit, "Aaron was alone, on the Heph. He was more married to his ship and that mining company than to another person. Evan had no one. He was a very lonely and solitary man. Emory had an occasional thing, but nothing serious. And Keme well.. Keme wasn't human. Of the three lifetimes in which I've loved, it's been Theo. I'm not alone. Even if sometimes in the scenarios in which we end up, I am." He lets his fingers slide over Dare's hand and gives it a squeeze. "So don't worry too much for me. It might not be the sort of love that's obvious to everyone around, but I have love."


The Martyr smiles softly, "Oh trust me, I savour every second I have here with the people I ove. I know how lucky I've been to only lose a couple friends." He squeezes back, "That's the important thing. That you have love."


The Beast nods his head to that and he says, "I'm glad that you do. And I'm sorry that you've lost people to. I can only hope that wherever they go, that it's too some better place than this. It feels selfish to want anyone to have to stay here and continue to go through trauma after trauma."


The Martyr smiles sadly, "I've very selfish. I keep telling people. I'm selfish in this."


"Howso?" Connor asks, studying Dare.


The Martyr says, "Well, I die a lot, but more importantly, I want to be here with my friends. Even with all the rauma.""


"I can understand that. I don't want to lose Theo, even if it would mean that he might go somewhere better than here, where he could be free, and happy," Connor says. "That's selfish, too."


The Martyr nods, "Honestly is better, especilly with ourselves." A quick smile, "I won't judge you if you don't judge me."


The Beast shakes his head and says, "No judgment, here." He lifts his glass then in a bit of a salute and takes another sip from it.


The Martyr lifts his glass in salute and drinks, "Hector's life, brief though it was was better for knowing you. I feel the same about, you, Connor."


"I am glad to know you as well, Dare. And I think Morrison's was better for having known Hector, as well. Would that his time not have been as short. I think that they would have stayed friends," he says.


The Martyr smiles softly, "I think so too. He would have loved to see you prize fight, to see the two of you living a domestic life. To show you the kids the three of them wanted to have, to grow older all together as friends."


The Beast looks thoughtful, considering the liquid inside his glass as he listens. He doesn't say anything though, just lifting his eyes to study Dare for a few moments, and then he takes another sip. "So," he says, "What now?"


The Martyr gives him an amused smile, "I think that's entirely up to you, Connor. I'm... incredibly flexible, particularly this version of me. You know best what promises you've made and what you're comfortable with and what you want. I have... very few boundaries where I love. I'll let you know if you hit one, ut this is really about your choice. Do you want a friend? Do you want a friend who has sex with you sometimes? Do you want something else?" His expression is open and he has about him a shadow of the deep agricultural calm he had as a god, the warm patience of a well loved garden or carefully tended feild in the sun. "I have a self. I have a strong sense of self. It's just that my nature fills me and bouys me and warms me right up until that switch gets flipped. For me, the love half of my dulity is like a glowing liquid. It is vast and ever renewed, and I can pour it into a variety of vessels if I want to."


"I'll make my choice," Connor says, "But I'm curious as to what it is that you want, if the choice were up to you?"


The Martyr says, "You in my life." He looks down, "I'm not going to lie that I don't think about sex with you, because Jesus that was good." He looks up again, "I like you for you. I always did. I don't know yet if this is going to be friend love with lust or something more on my end, but here, I can... limit attatchment in ways I never can out there. If you need me to. I'm not eighteen anymore, thank God." He looks him in the eyes, "I think the potential is there for more. I think there was then and I am damned lucky Morrison gave me the boot before I got more attatched, but here...? We're all complicated Beasties after a couple go rounds." He takes a breath, "It might make sense for you to sleep on it. If we really do want to take things further than a drink and a smoke, we might want to talk about some things, given the nature of my entanglements and yours." A fingertip lightly traces a line in Connor's palm, "I do want you, but I never want to hurt you or Theo with my wanting.""


The Beast can't help but chuckle just a little when Dare thanks God that he isn't eighteen anymore. "I'll admit," Connor says, "That while you were attractive at eighteen, I find you moreso now, older." But his expression sobers after that and he nods as he listens. He watches the fingertip that traces lightly against his palm, and he says, "Be my friend. Be in my life. And let's get to know one another here, as we are here, the sum of all those parts and entanglements, and lives. This.. tonight.. was good. I'm glad you came to talk. And I would really like to see the Haunted Mansion combined with a garden sometime, if you'd care to show it to me."


The Martyr squeezes his hand gently, then lets go. His smile is unshadowed, "That sounds really good." He closes his eyes "Hector was really looking forward to... how the friendship would be with a few more years on it." He opens then again. "Let's find out, shall we? Next time? My place." He tosses back the rest of the drink, "Are we hugginging friends or not hugging friends?"


The Beast sets his glass down and then rises from the chair to his feet. He holds out a hand to Dare and says, "Next time, your place. And I will bring the bottle. And we'll let this friendship become something it didn't get a chance to, and figure out what shape that will take as we go along." He then smiles, just a bit wryly and says, "I think that we could be hugging friends," and draws Dare closer by the hand, if he takes it.


The Martyr takes the hand still smiling, "I'd like that." And then he's hugging him, warm and solid and still smelling of citrus, fougere, and clove, his hands in approprite friend hug places, but without reservation.


It's clear that Connor is not used to being hugged, or giving hugs, for that matter. He's a little stiff at first, but then he relaxes a bit and he gives Dare a light squeeze, returning the hug, before he lets him go and takes a step back. "Goodnight, Dare," he says once the hug is over, and then, "Thank you."


The Martyr is a practiced hugger, but the initial stiffness doesn't bother him. he steps back, still smiling when He's done, "Good night, connor. I think I'm going to really like getting to know this you." And then he's gone.