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Driven And Derided By Vanity; Day 8
Topic Started: Jun 15 2017, 04:10 AM (355 Views)
Zetsumodernista
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escaping the real world to face reality
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
((Asuka Takahara continued from Rivers of Sadness and Mutual Need))

Cass was warm, warm and awkward, and Asuka would've been happy to fall asleep there. She didn't, of course. She was too much a slave to herself to prolong the awkwardness for that long. They'd sat in silence afterwards; Cass drawing, Asuka observing. She'd wanted so badly to talk to Cass, to make something of the sense of warmth she'd felt while clinging to her, to this reminder that yes, there is at least one thing about this existence that was meaningful. But she couldn't bring herself to do it. She didn't want to disturb Cass, and she didn't want to leave her, either, so she'd just sat there until she nodded off.

It was the announcements that woke her up. Jerry was dead.

Huzzah, or something. Thank you for sacrificing your life for the lives of your would-be victims and the sanity of everyone you would've met.

She'd tried to be generous to his memory, she really had, but then again she had trouble conceptualizing him as a real person. Not exactly surprising that she was desensitized towards the death of a kitten-kicker.

She turned to Cass. "Anyone you know who was on there?"

dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
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dmboogie
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(("...Just the guy who stabbed me."))

That was the least of Jerry's offenses, but Cass didn't particularly care to dwell on the rest, not after they had spent much of the previous day trying to capture a still life to honor the life he had stilled. Drawing with Asuka looking over their shoulder had felt like... someone was watching over their shoulder. It had taken several failed attempts before Cass got used to the added pressure, and several more after that before they could make something they were really satisfied with.

The finer details of Trav's face had already begun to fade from Cass's memory. They looked at their portrait of him and wondered how many mistakes they had made, how much of his fading self they had replaced with a vague idea of himself. At least they knew they had gotten the expression right. Easier to imagine him smiling than not. They dared to dream that it summed him up as a person more beautifully than an exacting but cold photograph could. Wasn't that the point?

His face, imperfect a recreation as it might be, reaffirmed to Cass that five days of inaction did not in fact rob them of a lifetime of artistic toil, and the faces that followed came easier. Bernadette. Sandy. Clarice. Asuka, once she fell asleep, many hours later.

After finishing Asuka's portrait, Cass had glanced at her sleeping face and debated the merits of staying up all night to make sure no one crept up to slit both their throats in their sleep; a debate handily solved by them falling asleep ten minutes later.

Back in the present, it was all they could do to stop themselves from bursting out laughing once they heard that Jerry had been hit by a car, of all things. The sheer surreal cartoonishness of it all almost served to drown out the very real hurt he hadn't hesitated to spread. Cass knew that he hadn't deserved it, same as no one else on the island deserved their fates. Their wrist ached, and they also knew that his death was still incredibly cathartic.

"Did you? Know anyone, I mean?"
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Zetsumodernista
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"Mmm. Yeah. The guy who took my gun's dead, now, so I guess that's some weight off my conscience."

Jerry wasn't really worth dwelling on--reality was probably better off pretending that he had never existed--but Audrey hurt. Fiyori too, a little; Asuka hadn't ever gotten closer than observing her from a distance, but there was something admirable there, and seeing that something get destroyed hurt.

"Audrey. I was with her in the basement the day before she died, but things got messy. She was still there when I left last night. Like, I know it's not really my fault, but it still sucks that things would've worked out differently if I made her leave with me, y'know?"

Asuka took a deep breath. Or a half-hearted attempt at a deep breath. "Yeah, still don't feel sad, though. Guilty, yeah. A little bit."

Asuka's eyes landed Cass's portrait of her, then glanced away quickly. Funny, that she still couldn't make eye contact with people even after yesterday's tell-all, not with Cass, not with herself.

"Do you think you'll feel sad when I die? Or will you be sad about the idea of my dying?"

Of course, Cass might die first, but let's not consider that possibility.
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
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dmboogie
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"Yeah. I will be."

Cass hated to treat Asuka's death like an irrevocable truth, but dying before her wasn't exactly a comforting alternative, and they both knew they weren't making it out alive.

They could only hope that they were right. That they would feel, and that feeling would make it mean... something.
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Zetsumodernista
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"...Oh."

A mathematician's answer, given that there had been two questions. Knowing Cass, it was probably intended as a 'yes' to both. Really, what did Asuka expect Cass to say? It's not like she'd tell Asuka that she didn't give a shit about her death, even if it were true.

Don't deny Asuka this, goddammit. Fuck it, she knew she was being emotionally manipulative at this point. But if Asuka's gonna die, she deserves this much. She deserves the only thing she's ever wanted.

Her voice was barely louder than a whisper.

"Then talk to me, goddammit. Do-don't let me die feeling like I'm alone, like I've always been alone. Like, I've spent my whole life talking to shadows, and I know there are people casting the shadows, but I can't see them. I can't die like this. Let me die remembering you as a person, and not as a bag of meat with a person inside who I still haven't properly met. I'm tired of knowing that the world is a meaningful place but not being able to see and experience those aspects of the world. Don't let me die a solipsist."

Close your eyes. Hug the air in front of you, squeeze it tight, tight to the point that your fingernails are drawing blood. Really feel that loneliness, intense as you can make it.

"Truth or dare? Scratch that. Truth or truth."

dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
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dmboogie
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...Oh.

Had this been burning inside Asuka the entire time Cass had been drawing yesterday? The silence that had fallen shortly after their hug hadn't quite been a blanket, but they had thought it had grown to hold at least some measure of comfort. If she had been suffering quietly while Cass indulged their own attempts to self-actualize... Stupid. Selfish. Part of them was frustrated that Asuka hadn't just said it during any of the hours they sat together, but the rest of them understood all too well why she hadn't. It should've been Cass's responsibility to take action, to notice that something was wrong, that someone was unsatisfied.

They still didn't (and probably never really would) know what to say, but they had already wasted enough of Asuka's precious time.

"I'll, uh, go with the second truth. Wait, am I supposed to ask a question first, now, or are you, or..." Cass awkwardly trailed off. Even as they realized that it didn't actually matter in the slightest who talked first, their mind had an annoying tendency to go blank when someone explicitly asked for their thoughts.
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Zetsumodernista
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Who do you love? But Asuka already knew that Cass had loved ones, and a list of names wasn't gonna mean much anyways. Favorite childhood memory? Least favorite childhood memory? But it's not like those tend to be very meaningful, anyways. Asuka couldn't remember any profoundly beautiful, or profoundly ugly, moments from her childhood. Her mood soared when she got candy; it plummeted when she got scolded.

For fuck's sake.

"Favorite artist? Favorite artwork? Favorite artistic movement?"
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
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dmboogie
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Favorite was an annoying word. Cass had admired a lot of art, both new creations and the only remnants left of the dead's time on Earth. How could they ever pick between any of them, compare vastly alien styles and moods? Would it be accurate to choose a peaceful and serene piece over a wonderfully melancholic and bleak landscape, just because the former conjured forth more positive emotions even while they admired the craftsmanship of the latter? To choose whether to be more impressed by colorful stylizations over breathtaking realism, a charismatic face over an impartial but powerful nature? To choose-

Yeah, maybe they should just pick someone they liked and get it over with. "I like, um... Alphonse Mucha a lot. He did a lot of like colorful, really stylized stuff. Lots of really pretty women. My favorite from him's probably 'The Moon'. It's, like, he personified the moon as a human woman? Her dress is made of stars, and she's got a flower crown on her head, and her expression, everything's just... I dunno. Powerful? It feels ancient and kinda timeless at the same time?" Weird to describe a visual medium without any way to look at it, or show Asuka it. Neither of them ever would again, would they? Every time Cass thought they were getting used to the whole 'death' thing something else came up to remind them that living was pretty alright. Most of the time.

They tried and failed to ignore that thought with more words. "My favorite movement, is, uh. Art? Okay this is kind of embarrassing but I've never really, like... studied art history. At all." Cass awkwardly rubbed the back of their neck. They weren't a historian or a scholar or anything, but it still felt like a shortcoming. Even if they had never shied away from looking at older art, didn't being ignorant of its history and context mean they would never fully 'get it'? The most important thing was still judging the art by its own merits, of course, but still.

"Right, guess it's my turn to ask you, uh... what's your favorite book slash favorite author?"
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Zetsumodernista
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"Hmmm...I like On the Road a lot, but Kerouac was kind of an asshole. It's kind of weird because jazzy-sounding writing, spontaneous prose and whatnot, isn't something I see as all that innovative, especially when you compare it to the postmodern stuff that was coming out at, like, almost the same time. But, like, I dunno. It made me feel things, and that's always good. Same goes for Catcher in the Rye. Fuck the haters, fuck the people who can't look at Holden Caufield without rolling their eyes."

"Um...right. Favorite author. Antoine de Saint Exupery, maybe? I kinda cried while I was reading his wikipedia biography. Oh, and I forgot to mention this, but I love Thomas Ligotti's Conspiracy Against the Human Race. It's about how our existence is basically a cosmic horror story."

That's how the theory works, right?

"Are there any questions that I missed? That you wished I asked?"
Edited by Zetsumodernista, Jul 23 2017, 04:03 AM.
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
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dmboogie
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Even when Cass didn't know most (or any, really) of the names Asuka listed, what mattered was what they meant to her. It was a nice feeling to get excited by something just 'cause someone you liked was really into it and had no problems rambling about their feelings about it. Enthusiasm by proxy.

It didn't even feel forced anymore, after the first few rounds of questions. An hour or two passed by in pleasant conversation, not once interrupted by bullet screams. Inevitably, though, their words started becoming harder to find.

Cass shrugged in response to Asuka's question. "...Dunno. Not really used to talking about myself this much. It's pretty hard to like, reach inside my brain and try to figure out if anything in there's worth sharing, y'know?" Aside from the knee-jerk reaction of 'absolutely none of it,' of course.

"You got anything you're dying to say?"
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Zetsumodernista
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"I guess not. I've told you most everything."

...huh. She had, hadn't she?

"I hope I'll see you again, but...probably not. So just in case..."

Asuka balled up a slice of bread and tossed it to Cass.

"Here's a useless piece of bread. Something to remember me by, or something."
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
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dmboogie
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"...You don't have to go, you know. If, uh, you don't wanna." Cass glanced at Asuka's face, locked eyes for a second, then looked back down at the ground again. She knew that, of course. She also had to know that whatever she wanted beyond basic company, she wouldn't be getting it from Cass, however much they tried.

It didn't feel right to just blankly nod and accept that they likely would never meet again, though. Maybe Cass could still remember echoes of Trav's first invitation to stay on the roof, the reassurance that their presence wasn't an unbearable burden. Maybe they just weren't quite ready to return from a companionable silence to a cloistered one.

However selfless or selfish their sentiment, it wasn't enough, in the end.

((In the end, saying "I won't forget you" was the only meaningful sentiment Cass could leave Asuka with.))
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Zetsumodernista
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So long.

Asuka locked eyes with Cass for the last time, and then she was gone. She couldn't be sure that it'd be the last time, but let's not count on getting to see her again. Let's give this the mournful weight of a last goodbye, in case it really was a last goodbye.

...

...

Please, just give her a little more time before it feels like she's just staring at a wooden door.

((Asuka continued in Creature Comforts))
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
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