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Devil's Choir; Morning, Day 3
Topic Started: Nov 2 2016, 06:12 PM (1,713 Views)
dmboogie
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((Asha's morning had been less than pleasant.))

Time did what time did best and left them all in the settling dust, and before they knew it the sun had started to set on the second day before Asha and Dot could do anything worthwhile. Rationing their single bag of supplies (she'd let Dot have the lions share) had left her hungry and thirsty; not starving or anything but just feeling like a thousand writhing parasites were wriggling around inside her and eating away at whatever they found without any regard for proper table manners. The least they could have done was serve Asha's heart on a white tablecloth. Her mouth was uncomfortably dry, and having two split sleeping shifts between the two of them had left her tired and irritable.

Oh, yeah, Asha's eyes were kind of red and swollen from crying so much after finding out one of her best friends had been 'stabbed. a lot,' too. Couldn't forget that.

God. Danny. She'd told herself over and over that she was ready for anything, that losing her friends now just meant a short delay before she could see them again, in the best case scenario; but the reality of it, the callousness with which the announcement guy had delivered the news had left her cold and sniveling. She knew that Danny couldn't have been handling any aspect of their new life well. How scared had he been, when he died? Had he been alone, with no one but Isabel to hear him scream? How much of a difference could Asha had made to him, if she'd found him when he was still alive?

Isabel continued to sink to new levels of monstrosity, too. Asha didn't regret letting her go; she'd done the best she could to get everyone out of that situation in one piece. No, all she felt was a sickening sensation in her stomach as she tried to understand the mindset that could have lead Isabel to kill a fellow ballerina. Oh, Asha knew that she'd thoroughly and satisfyingly burned her rickety bridge of friendship to Iz, but she'd always seemed fond of Danny. Did the years they'd spent together really mean that little to her? Asha suspected she already knew the answer to that.

So, when she and Dot had been aimlessly wandering after those fun little revelations, Asha hadn't thought twice before tailing the guy she had seen ducking through the chapel doors; too quick a glimpse to identify him. She couldn't let any other opportunity to help pass her by, so she strolled through the open doors without hesitation; at least before she realized the tense scene she'd stumbled onto.

Upon closer inspection, the guy she'd followed was Brendan, who didn't really register at all to her. Sorry, guy. More important was the person who was holding them both at projectile-point; Min-jae, a cool friend, a stylish goth; and also a killer. That last part didn't bother Asha so much, to be honest. Fuck, she'd given Isabel the benefit of the doubt with much less cause, it was the least she could to do be chill with someone she actually liked.

"So, uh, am I included in this, Jae?" Asha hesitantly asked, hands in the air.
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Asha internally berated herself for not taking a moment to compose herself more before she'd spoken. Her voice had been too weak, playing perfectly into the loose script they were all following; discounting Dot's heroic attempt at a cheery wave. She'd hoped her comment would have deescalated the situation a bit, but no; Brendan was still standing and mumbling with spear in hand, and Jae was still treating the situation with a deadly seriousness. Bless his heart for trying to "protect" them, but she'd really prefer that no one caught a crossbow bolt on her behalf.

Things could be so simple, everyone just had to take a second to breath and it would all work out. Asha liked Jae, it looked like Dot liked Brendan. All they had to do was unite their reunions and they could stop worrying about dying or killing for a while. Now that she got a good look at him, Jae looked... pretty fucked up! All that stress couldn't be good for him, or his complexion.

Time to get to work. All smiles.

"Thought never crossed my mind!" Asha said brightly, nonchalantly shrugging as she lowered her hands to her sides and hoping the gesture didn't look too much like one of Isabel's fucking smug shrugs. Smrugs. She walked closer to Jae, settling down on the back of a pew roughly between the two groups.

"And I mean, Brendan's obviously cool too. If he was a bastard he'd be picking up his shiny award right about now, but he's here instead! Way to stick it to the bad man, Brendan. I'm proud of you," Asha continued, flashing him a grin and wishing she could have seen Isabel's face when she'd learned that she had missed her second chance at being recognized for being a homicidal maniac after killing one of Asha's best friends. She snorted a bit at the thought before realizing that laughter might make her seem just a bit insincere about the whole "congratulations" business.

She hoped she was right about Brendan's intentions, but even if she wasn't; nothing like a good guilt trip to try and force him to be a better person. "So, can we all just calm down? Please?"
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Asha wanted to high-five Dot for her part in their wonderful tag-team of peacemaking cheer. Unfortunately the mood still hadn't calmed enough to allow for that; so she settled for shooting her a grin. Everyone's weapons were down, but so were their spirits, understandably. Asha did feel bad about her choice of words; once Brendan spoke to her he'd made it pretty clear that more guilt was the last thing he needed. Poor guy still seemed to think that anyone who was judging him mattered.

Jae wasn't helping, either, and Asha had glanced back at him and frowned as he pushed the blood-soaked knife deeper into Brendan's skin; irritably tapping a finger on her crossed arms. Unfortunate, but not a surprise. Even under normal circumstances, Jae could be... difficult to deal with. Even if he'd been better recently, well, she doubted that SOTF ever brought people's best natures to the forefront. Now wasn't the time to bat him on the nose with Danya's pamphlet, anyway, not in front of everyone. He'd clearly been through hell; and while she wished he'd be a bit more cooperative she was sure there'd be time to help him later.

In the end, what it came down to was that Jae seemed fine...ish, and Brendan looked like he was on the verge of a breakdown. Much as Asha hated to prioritize, it was pretty obvious what she had to do. She ignored Jae's remark and turned back to Brendan, hoping to distract him before he could fully digest the insult.

"Listen to me for a sec, Brendan. You aren't the reason Jerry didn't get out alive, alright? He was gonna die, no matter what happened, same as the rest of us." Asha would have preferred to cushion her point a little more, but she wasn't sure how long he was gonna stick around, and she needed to make sure he understood that he hadn't done anything wrong.

"You said he was trying to kill a girl? You don't need me to tell you that's fucked up. Like, all you can do in that situation is try and do whatever hurts people the least. The best case scenario obviously would've been everyone getting out alive, but come on, we're fucking teenagers, not superheroes. You didn't kill him just to listen to him scream or some shit like that, yeah? The girl got out alive, you were trying to do the right thing. It could have turned out better, it didn't, oh well." She paused for a second, then smiled. "Look on the bright side. You saved him from being a murderer! I'm sure he wouldn't have been any happier about it."

"In the end, we've all got, what, a week tops of living? Do you really wanna spend it feeling shitty because of something that's not gonna matter in the end? It's just pointless."
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Brendan didn't listen, but Asha was getting used to that. Wayne's smiles and nods had been painted on, and even Dot only stuck around despite Asha's beliefs, bless her heart. No one else had even given her a chance. She wasn't bitter about it, blaming others for not wanting to stick around and be philosophized at would be basically the pettiest thing. It still stung to know that so far, she was the only person who had been at all comforted by nihilistic thought.

Still, she knew that the answer she had found wasn't wrong, it just wasn't right for everyone. People are different from each other, no problem there. She'd contemplated changing her approach a bit, during the many listless hours she had spent alone with Dot the previous day; but ultimately decided against it. Oh, false sincerity might taste sweet at first, but it'd all too soon turn to wretched bone meal in your mouth. If people didn't want to accept their deaths so soon, she'd just have to resort to Plan B; follow Dot's lead by just being generally friendly and adorable.

A plan that also failed in this case, as Brendan rudely rejected Dot's offer of a hug, made his excuses, and ran away. Asha wanted to call out after him, ask how exactly running aimlessly off into the day while ditching a friend would help anyone, either; but he was already gone. Unfortunate, but they'd both done all they'd could. Under different circumstances she would have chased after him, but Jae looked like he was in no condition to go anywhere fast, and ditching him would pretty unambiguously be the wrong thing to do.

Speaking of which. Asha turned around and settled down sideways on the pew proper as Jae spoke, hugging her legs. "Ha. We came from around there too, actually. Dot and I were camped out in the library. We must have just missed each other," she said, idly wondering how differently things would have turned out if they had met. Maybe Jae wouldn't be so fucked up, maybe his name wouldn't have been on the announcements. It was almost funny, if you had no sense of humor and also liked dwelling on how easily you could have prevented your friends from being in pain. Asha only fit one of those categories, thankfully.

She nodded absently as he continued, familiar pout coloring his voice. "Fair enough - sorry, Dot," Asha said, shooting her an apologetic smile. "Got any ideas for what we're gonna do after you're done with your beauty sleep, then?" Before Jae could respond, she heard someone enter the chapel. Asha turned around, hoping it'd be Brendan coming back to cash in that wasted hug, before seeing Al and his blood-stained pickaxe.

Another one? Seriously? Already? Asha almost said, before she caught herself. Other than Dot, the only person she'd met on the whole bloody island who hadn't killed or would soon kill was Wayne, (curse his wretched name, thank god he was still alive, Asha wanted her stuff back and also less human suffering in the world) and it was honestly starting to get legitimately hilarious. Instead, Asha casually waved. "Howdy, Mr. Prospector," she called out.
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Dot didn't look like she was doing too great, (she'd need a hug later) but she still did an admirable job at peacekeeping. Jae kinda ruined that by jumping the gun and trying to pick Al's brain for murdery answers, but whatever, it was still a valid question. Al's reluctance to spreak was perfectly valid, too. Asha could roll with it all. She was about to hop up and over to tag-team in and work on deescalating the situation further when Dot's voice started taking on a harshly unfamiliar tone.

She froze, genuinely shocked, as Dot loudly berated Al. She wasn't shouting, not quite; but her voice was powerful and insistent enough to force even Asha to take a moment to collect herself. She honestly hadn't even considered that Dot could have that sort of anger in her; and was torn between feeling impressed or mildly terrified. Probably a healthy combination of both. The part of Asha that wasn't concerned with the immediacy of raised voices and veiled threats worried that she'd missed some tension in Dot's smiles beforehand, laughed off all the stresses that could have driven her to this outburst.

Asha shot a worried glance at Jae, decided that he wasn't going anywhere, and then hurried over to the others. Not in a run, more like a mildly panicked walk; Al definitely didn't need another stranger rushing towards him at the moment. She also tried to position herself so that she wasn't too close to Dot; didn't want him to feel ganged up on.

"Hey, hey, it's fine, okay? We're cool? We're all cool. Yeah," she said, words coming out in a breathless burst of comforting platitudes while she tried to come up with something good to say. She turned to Al, disarming smile plastered on her face. "None of us are looking for a fight, okay? You don't wanna talk? That's cool! We're not trying to interrogate you or anything, it's just, like... everyone here needs to be comfortable with each other, y'know? We're all kinda stressed out right now."
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Dammit. Making Jae exert himself was literally the opposite of what Asha had wanted to do. She turned around, uncaring that she was exposing her back to Al, and grimaced slightly as she got a clearer look at her friend. She'd gotten a vague idea of it before, but standing up, outlined by the sunbeams that pierced the chapel's windows, Jae looked like a soldier who'd come home from the sort of war where the friendly neighborhood vultures were the only real winners. The crossbow only added to that effect. War had moved on from swords and arrows, but a bolt to the neck would still kill you just as easily today as it would have centuries ago, after all. Death was charmingly timeless.

Asha realized now that she was in sort of an inconvenient position from his point of view, but that suited her just fine. Partially because she didn't want this mysterious murderer getting shot on her behalf either, partially out of spite from Jae trying to order her around. Pettiness aside, she did know what she was doing; even if it hadn't technically worked yet. It was so much easier to have a friendly conversation if everyone wasn't huddled together, shooting suspicious glares at each other. She was tempted to stick her tongue out at him, but erred on the side of not acting like a grade schooler.

If there's one thing she regretted about the situation, it was that she had stored her taser inside of Dot's bag that morning, after the announcements. With it, Asha would have been able to reassure Jae that she still had shit under control in a convenient, nonlethal way. After hearing about Danny, though, she hadn't been able to stomach holding onto a weapon, especially one that now reminded her so strongly of Isabel. She'd have to fish it back out once she had a spare moment.

In the meantime, she smiled and shrugged as Dot started to retreat back towards Jae; turning her full attention back to Al. She had to stop herself from replying 'Same, dude" after Al's sigh. It would have probably been the most sincere "same" ever said, to be honest; summing up the entire situation with a single prolonged exhale. Alas, it was also tonally inappropriate, and not in the way that Asha liked. It would have sounded too much like she was mocking him.

"Well, uh. We're still cool, at least! How about we talk about something else instead? Like, what's your favorite-" Before Asha could fully commit to her disarming inane chatter, someone kicked the chapel door open. Goddamn, it was starting to get a little crowded. New kid looked like he was more spooked than a spooker, at least.

"Either a huge nerd or some sorta action hero. Obvi."
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Shit, Jae was sounding worse and worse each time he yelled, anger becoming tinged with a manic energy. He wasn't just pissed at Asha, he seemed legitimately scared, too. That hadn't been part of the plan. Unfortunately, it was too late to cut her losses and move back now, not without risking either of their new arrivals. She'd have to change her tactics a little; focus on dissolving instead of defusing.

Al bolted under this new round of shouting, but he hadn't seemed like he would have been very receptive, anyway; even with more time and less pressure. A Nancy, not a... hypothetical person who would have listened to Asha. She wished that she could have helped him, but at their current point he was definitely safer outside their oh-so-holy hall.

Michael was much less inclined to leave on his own; instead launching into a surprisingly passionate tirade. Asha found it funny that in his first sentence, he had already talked more than Al had during his entire stay. Aside from that? She wasn't a fan, honestly. She hadn't quite recognized him and connected the Dorothys at first, but once Jae had granted him a 'fuck off', she realized that he was one of the people Brendan had talked about, earlier.

His cavalier attitude in the face of attempted murder reminded her too much of Isabel, and his fairly obvious ploys for sympathy didn't help, either. Fuck, man, Jae was in plain sight; loath as she was to consider the pain olympics, losing your pinky was getting off easy compared to that. Asha's smile tightened a bit around the corners. That was unfair, of course. No one deserved to be compared to Isabel except literal serial killers; which in all honestly would probably just flatter her. (Oh, the monsters that walked their earth were so much less appealing that than real thing. Asha had always tried to stay clear of the tasteless movies that gifted them a bloody spotlight stolen from the trail of corpse they had left in their wake; or even the more 'legitimate' documentaries. Some things deserved to be forgotten.)

In any case, this was a rare time where she did not relish her obligatory friendliness in the least. Keeping Michael around was bad for Jae's mental health and Michael's mortality, so at least it'd be over with quickly.

"Dude, I'd love for us to sit down and talk, but... literally none of us have had a good day, and we kind of just need a chance to breath together? Just us? 'We didn't come here to make friends,'" Asha said portentously; launching into a brief imitation of every reality TV contestant. "It's nothing personal, seriously, but would you mind leaving us alone? The cliffy area north of that asylum is freaking gorgeous, by the way."
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It was around the time that Michael decided to threaten Dot's life that Asha decided he wasn't worth protecting any longer. Sure, Jae wasn't blameless, and everything would have gone down a hell of a lot smoother if he'd just kept his mouth shut for twenty goddamn seconds and let Michael leave; but even from their brief time together Asha could feel that the dude probably deserved every word of abuse that was slung his way. Like, what the hell was he even on about, 'wasn't self defense?' Had he even looked at Jae?

Also, it would have been kind of hypocritical to get mad at him for trying hide behind her, considering that Asha had been actively using herself as a shield this entire time; but it still felt nice that it offended Jae on her behalf.

So while Michael posed and postured and twirled his axe like a drunken ringmaster, out after the bars had closed, still expecting his audience of tired passerby to be very impressed by his flash and lack of substance; Asha inched away towards Dot, putting her in a prime position to rush towards her side when she fell, screaming about Isabel.

"I'll keep you safe," Asha murmured, quickly kneeling down beside her. "Just gotta..." she quickly opened Dot's bag; finding her stashed taser after only a moment of groping. It wasn't hard, considering how empty the bag was, now. Asha's stomach churned for a moment as she grasped the weapon, but she fought the sensation back. There'd be time to work through her emotional shit after everyone was safe.

She lightly hopped back to her feet. Isabel was nowhere to be seen, and devil knew that she wasn't the type to make a humble entrance. Michael, however was all out of sorts; frozen in place like he expected the ballet reaper to be creeping up right behind him, cold breath on his neck, talons reaching to pierce his neck. Good job, Dot. Yet another reason she deserved a hug later.

Time to get to work again. All smiles.

"Hey, Mike? A word of advice," Asha called out, casually pointing her taser at him, waving it a little bit to make sure he couldn't miss it. "If you absolutely have to threaten my life, I'd prefer that you address me while you do it. Why, it almost seems like you don't care about me. That hurts!" She pouted, mock offense quickly giving way to another grin. Oh, how she hated to have her life held hostage to harm one of her friends, treating her as nothing more than a mediocre chess piece.

"Now, let me put it this way. You get two choices," she said, sending his own shitty dichotomy flying right back at him. "One: you leave, peacefully; we stay put, peacefully; and everyone's happy! Two: you do something stupid, like trying to hurt us. I zap you with this taser and pry that pretty little axe from your twitching fingers," she said, savoring those last words, letting them hang in the air, thick with implication.

"And then I'll hold oh-so-tightly onto it and throw it into a corner where it won't hurt anyone. You stand up, feeling shitty. You leave without your toy. Lucky you, either way there's no need for my good friend to shoot you!" She finished loudly, hoping Jae would get the message to behave for once.
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So they ended, their pleasant little confrontations; three-against-one repeated threefold. Asha hated to pick sides, but she loved the side that she had picked. All in all, it could have ended it a lot worse. Nobody got hurt, and everyone would live with that. She stood vigil by the door for a few moments more after Michael blustered one last time and slammed the door shut behind him, making sure he didn't change his mind; or that Iz had gotten the memo that the chapel was a happening place to be after all.

After about a minute, she called it good. Exhaled. Walked over to Dot, casually dropped the taser back in her bag. Said "Good work, Dot," as she hugged her tightly; making sure she held on long enough so they both got a healthy dose of happy endorphins and forget about all the people who had just almost died.

Then she made her way over to Jae, seating herself back on the edge of one of the pews. "So. Good morning!" She said brightly, flashing an apologetic smile. Not for her actions, but for the worry she had caused him. "I'd hug you, too, but I don't wanna hurt you. So just, like, lemme know if you're good for hugging? You look like you need one." They finally had enough peace and quiet to reflect on the terrible things that had happened to them all. Not fun, but acceptance was an important part of grieving.
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"It's okay. We're all okay, for the moment," Asha said, squeezing Jae's hand back. That pretty obviously wasn't true, but forcing him to acknowledge that immediately (especially in front of a stranger like Dot) wouldn't help anyone to feel better. For now, the best that Asha could do was be a warm, reassuring presence for him.

Now that everyone's lives weren't being casually threatened, Asha could finally spare a moment to actually think about what Michael had said. In the end, no matter how Jae felt about it, Michael's demonizing of Brendan hadn't really changed Asha's opinion at all. It'd be one thing if they had been trying to stop Nancy from hurting people, but he said they had clearly been out for revenge - causing pointless suffering on the dead's behalf. She couldn't blame Brendan for trying to make the most of a bad situation.

Was that hypocritical of her, though? When she pictured Nancy in her mind, she thought of the frightened girl with the pretty hair crouching like a feral cat in the corner of the library, half out of her mind. Was that only because Nancy hadn't killed anyone she loved? In some strange way, Asha had been glad to hear that she was still alive, but what separated her from Isabel other than that personal connection; judging a person's entire moral character from a quick snapshot of time? Isabel could have lost her composure, Nancy could have gained hers.

In the end, though, it didn't really matter how Asha thought about the two of them; at least until they broke down the chapel doors. All she could do was, well, do the best she could with the information she had. She wasn't going to forgive Iz, hell no, but she wasn't going to hunt her down, either.

Was it bad that she almost wished that Iz had come when Dot called, just so Jae could finally have a legitimate target to shoot?

Dot's question banished the marauding wraiths of the island and brought Asha back to the reality of the flesh-and-blood friends she cared about. "I mean, we're still alive! Either we're doing something right or they aren't psychos after all. Just a whole bunch of stressed-out kids."

Afterwards, they discussed what to do next. Jae was tired as fuck and not in any condition to go traipsing around the island just yet, so Asha decided that she and Dot could start barricading the front door of the chapel with the pews and other miscellaneous things lying about so he could get some much-needed shuteye. When they were done, Dot decided that she could use a nap, too. Asha stayed up to watch over them, taser accessible but not in hand.

((Everyone settled down for a while.))
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