2018-12-27: No Matter What

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  • Log: No Matter What
  • Cast: Avril Vent Fleur, Rebecca Streisand
  • Where: Ruined Garlyle
  • Date: December 27, 2018
  • Summary: In the aftermath of the Photosphere and all those connected events, Avril is alone with her thoughts. Fortunately, Rebecca won't just let that happen.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    After the Photosphere's collapse and the ensuing fallout from there, the safest place to be had quickly become 'as far away as possible'.
    That had been a part of the rationale behind the trio's departure, and in the end perhaps the more logical of the reasons.
    The other 'reason' had been born of a wish.

    A dangerous one.

    Perhaps it might be possible to visit the Memorial Sanctuary once again. To do so is certainly risky, definitely unwise. It's unlikely it would lend more light to her situation than has already been considerably shed.

    And yet, she has the feeling that she might like to try. This place was important to the Veruni--

    her people

    A strange thought. Familiar/unfamiliar in one.

    ...Perhaps it might be possible to learn more about what she has inherited.

    Now, before they try to search for her again. Soon, it will be wise to head west and hide, but for now it may be acceptable to attempt unwise things.

    She sits now, where they have set up camp just outside the shattered remnants of what-was-Garlyle. It's quiet here.
    More importantly, no one comes here. As she understands it, the people who live in the control zone to the south consider it bad luck to travel this way. A nation that was broken and cast to the winds. ...Elru has seen that story play out time and time again, it seems.

    Crisply, she folds a piece of paper in two, sliding it into an envelope.

    How kind Gwen was, to send a message...

<Pose Tracker> Rebecca Streisand has posed.

Lolithia. Johnny Appleseed. Lord Volsung. You hear them and they're just like words. Names. But they're names of something bigger than me lil ol' Rebecca Streisand and Dean Stark from Capo Bronco. Even thinking on them for just a few minutes and every bit of sense I has tell me I should have took off on my own a long time ago.

Perhaps writing it down would make it easier to articulate how she felt. That's what she'd told herself after hours upon hours of thinking and pacing without any result other than winding herself up in knots. Repriming her quill from her position belly down on her bedroll, she kept scratching it out.

Yet if that's how it is, then what am I doing here in Elru right now? Maybe I told myself it's that Mother threatened all there is, and if we didn't take care of her, I could never go back to pursuing my dreams. Becoming a circus star, getting married, settling down somewhere. Am I just kidding myself though? I keep telling myself - one more trip, one more adventure, then I'll convince myself that Dean's grown up and Avril will be alright and I can finally

Stopping her quill so abruptly, Rebecca found herself only staring at the page for a while, as if writer's block had just seized her. That would be the easy answer. That she just didn't know what to write. "That's not it." Rebecca finally stated, before she wiped her quill off with an ink-blotted cloth, and blew on her diary to allow it time to dry before shutting it decisively.

Turning over instead onto her back and putting her hands behind her head... she found herself just staring at the ceiling for a while.

"You're just scared that if you put it down in writing you'll have a hard time changing your mind."

Rebecca looks at the little points of light around the auroral light of the Moon, repeating to herself.

"Lolithia. Johnny Appleseed. Lord Volsung."

A name that held power, a title she was supposed to claim, a Veruni leader that would kill Dean and her without hesitation to make that come true. After a moment she adds three more, "Avril Vent Fleur, Dean Stark, Rebecca Streisand."

It was a particularly quiet night, which gave her no distraction from a simple fact, and a simpler conclusion.

Laying there for longer and longer, alone with her thoughts, she finally whispered aloud...

"There's not going to be any circus."

The idea of that used to terrify her more than she knew. What frightened her more was how easily she accepted that.


Instead of sleeping, she'd spent a while making a circuitous route around the camp. What she really wanted to do was go out far enough that she could practice her acrobatic shooting and work up a sweat - but right now she couldn't allow the thought of going too far. What happened the last time she did? Dean almost got killed, Avril almost got taken.

Instead she stayed well within sight, within hearing, until she'd paced so long she'd paced herself out. And came back up to find Avril sitting there - all by herself.

Of course she is.

Rebecca thinks. As different as they might be, the two of them had a few things in common. The amount of time spent alone in quiet thought is one of them. Rebecca had her own outlet for thinking while alone. Did Avril though?

That thought stops her short, a distance from her, as she turns her head to watch her quietly for a few moments.

Gosh she was so pretty. She hadn't needed Lord Volsung to announce her heritage for her to know she was a Queen in that respect.

Clearing her throat, she starts to speak, "Maybe it's just my imagination..." Stepping forward in approach, she laces her hands behind her back, "...but you have the look of someone worrying about something all by yourself."

It's easy enough to smile, even if she sometimes had nightmares about herself, executing people as Avril. Just flashes, glimpses.

"Maybe a lot of somethings given... everything that happened. So I was just thinking... how about the two of us have some girl talk?"

She offers as a suggestion, though immediately she's kicking herself. Asking for girl talk with a Queen... even if at the same time she was just Avril to her.

She doesn't take a seat just yet, but simply ends her offer on, "The kind where... well..." She trails off for a moment, before she allows this little rise and fall of the shoulders, forcing her smile to return, "... the kind where neither of us holds anything back."

The idea of it perhaps, felt a lot less terrifying now than it did before.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    There's not going to be any circus.

    She has learned the identity of Johnny Appleseed.

    And... what of Dean's own dream?

    Bit by bit, a cruel reality has made itself evident.

    At least there are still small kindnesses. At least it's enough to take a little comfort that Gwen was so concerned that they might think her actions poor that she wrote them a letter.
    Even in spite of what has happened and what is continuing to happen.

    "I wonder how long it will take this to reach you," she murmurs aloud, gazing at the blank envelope she holds in both hands.

    Then she straightens, rises to her feet.

    "...Rebecca, is that you?"

    She asks that without even turning her head, before Rebecca can say anything.

    "...Dean is not as quiet with his feet," Avril adds after a moment, before turning to face her friend, a slight smile on her lips in spite of everything. "I suppose I must look that way, don't I? ...You are correct. There has been..." She pauses, glancing away -- off, as it happens, towards the ruin of Garlyle -- "Much has happened," she settles for, a diplomat's answer. "I suppose I am still dwelling on it all." Her gaze lands on Rebecca but once, then again shifts away. "I had already guessed that a part of it might be true, but..."

    The envelope in her hands rustles gently.

    "I would like to talk, if you would like to listen. Having another's ear at a moment like this can be helpful, they say."

    Particularly because, at this end she has attained now, she knows not what to do.

    Another pause. "...And I am not the only one with something on their mind, I believe. I would be glad to listen to you, too, Rebecca."

    Because perhaps it's best not to hold anything back anymore.

<Pose Tracker> Rebecca Streisand has posed.

"Who else?" Rebecca answers easily. After all, Rebecca is Rebecca, she's not hiding any real secrets. She isn't the amnesiac Queen of a bygone age or anything... before laughing, "That's true. Dean couldn't sneak up on someone to save his life." Before she laughed at a realization, "Not that I'm uh- sneaking up on you or anything." She was just light on her feet.

Afterwards though, she's mostly quiet, finding herself looking at Avril's eyes even when Avril starts to look away.

Caught in that moment, she doesn't say anything else, until Avril says she'd be glad to listen to her...

"That makes two of us then."

Not just on having something on their minds but... on guessing that part of it might be true.

Taking a few steps closer, she sits down cross-legged and... takes a deep breath.

"We've been inside each other's heads after all. Had our memories all mixed up and..." She stops for a moment. "... I guess at the time I didn't want to say anything because it was like... peaking into your diary or something, even if I didn't mean to. It felt unfair of me to get that glimpse of..." Her expression shifts a touch as she continues watching Avril, "... you." Even if Avril got the same benefit, it doesn't feel like her memories can equal it. She just had normal secrets to keep, normal insecurities.

Leaning back on her palms.

"... but it also felt like I got a little closer to you. That I saw a side of you that most people haven't. So it made me feel..." A pause, a beat, "... happy I guess. To share. If it had been Dean I think... I would have died of embarrassment but..."

There's this slow blink of her eyes, "... but now because we did - the only thing that changes for me is that now it's out in the open - things just feel more dangerous than ever."

'The only thing' she says. Except the only thing has a domino effect. So many other things are collateral damage after the first one falls.

Like parts of her life. Her dreams...

"How are you holding up? I mean even if you'd already guessed... doesn't make how you feel about it... any simpler."

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    In spite of all that has come and gone, Avril giggles, a hand pressed to her mouth. "No, of course you aren't."

    She may be teasing Rebecca. A little bit.

    Rebecca sits, and Avril follows suit, perching again on the rough rounded stone she had used before as seat and desk both. She starts to set the letter down and pauses, as if thinking on something. Leaning over, she picks up a single rock from the path below, and sets it -- atop the letter, so that it will not blow away in a sudden breeze.

    It's quiet after that, once they've both more or less admitted to the difficult part.

    "Yes. I... remember," she hazards, coming to a stop at a word that does not reveal what she remembers.
    Though Rebecca may be able to guess.
    'Like peeking into your diary', is perhaps an extremely apt turn of phrase, given what Avril knows about Rebecca.
    And Rebecca's feelings.

    "...It must have been difficult for you," Avril murmurs, glancing sidelong over at her friend. "I am sorry. I should have said something before, but it was..."
    She shakes her head. "'We are each a ghost continent unto ourselves, with landscapes and features no one else may see'," she seemingly quotes. "Secrets like that are meant to be private. I... have certainly enough secrets of my own, it seems."

    And yet, Rebecca is a little happy that it was her.
    And yet, Avril is a little happy that it was her.

    "...I see. It can be a relief to confess what weighs one's soul."

    'How is she holding up?'

    is the question of the hour, if not the day or week or month.
    Avril closes her eyes.


    Only at length does she speak.

    "It does... not seem real. Like a dream, or a story. 'I am... the Veruni leader.'" Her eyes open, if only to remain heavy-lidded. "Yet, I know that it is so. There are many details that would only make sense should it be so, and I do not think it a mistake of Volsung. I..."

    Her hands, in her lap, entwine.

    "I do not know what you saw when you were in my mind... but perhaps you may have a greater understanding than most when I say this: I know what sort of person I must have been." Avril glances over at Rebecca, then adds, "I still remember nothing. However, there are things that the body understands, if that should make sense?" A little tilt of the head, there. "Things that my body remembers, be it my skill with the blade, or my talent with magic. Some things are familiar, in a way that I wish they were not." She closes her eyes again, breathing out. "She... I was without question the sort of person that Volsung would follow."

    And here Avril lowers her head, as if a weight rested upon her and her shoulders. "I... have a responsibility to them, if I am their ruler. I have a responsibility for what they have done to humans and others."
    She remembers what Lydia had said -- about the enslaved Baskar.
    "Yet, I remember nothing. To attempt to lay claim to that responsibility now would be foolhardy. Until I know more or remember what I have lost of my past, there is little I can do to curtail what has and continues to happen. Still, I..."

    She shakes her head again. All she has to do is think again on that man's smile, the smile that failed to reach his eyes.

    "I know what I have decided to do is the prudent course, yet it still feels painful."

<Pose Tracker> Rebecca Streisand has posed.

It's a little nice to be teased. And in a good way. A way that makes her feel good about herself when it happens.

Rebecca takes a moment to assess the idea of it being difficult for her. It had wound her up, made her anxious about the idea that Avril might spill the beans, yet she hadn't. And in retrospect it seemed silly to worry about it. The quote causes her to tilt her head a little to the side, as if in thought. "That's very pretty..." As she wonders to herself if Avril has written any poetry of her own.

'I am the Veruni leader.' hardly seems real to her, even though Avril has said it. Humans and Veruni couldn't get along. She's been told that for as long as she can remember. That there's a wall that can't be surmounted. Yet here she is, chatting up the Veruni leader like she was her best friend.

Rebecca doesn't seem nervous when she's told she might have greater understanding. In the past perhaps she worried that Avril might become someone else. Now though - after the 'leader' Veruni came for her and she ran, she doesn't fear that anymore.

Instead she just tries to listen. On the idea of taking responsibility for something she doesn't even remember.

When Avril finishes though, confiding it's painful... Rebecca leans her weight backwards, as if the weight of all that Avril said had been added to her own. "Wow. That's real mature of you Avril, to take responsibility for something you don't even remember... no matter how much it hurts..." She says it lightly, in admiration. However she takes a deep breath, "... Yeah. I can hardly remember it clearly just... flashes, glimpses. Of another you - someone who was hard, and cruel... not just to her foes, but to her subjects too."

Pushing up off her palms, she leans forward, "I didn't really get it - at the time I thought - maybe that I didn't want you to get your memory back. But as I really thought about it... there was... something else too..."

There's something a little rueful there, "... and that was the fact that you didn't just like Dean - you loved him." She stops for a moment, "I don't know how to explain it. It was like I could feel how you felt for him sometimes. It was... just something that was there under the surface - it was something real..." After a moment's pause, she articulates it, "... fundamental about you."

After she gets it out, she adds, "So... now hearing you refusing to return, but wanting to take responsibility as soon as you can. I'm definitely a little worried about what you might find doing something terrible to you - sure!" There's a small pause before she adds, "...but I just can't see you ever going back to becoming some guy this Lord Volsung would ever enjoy following. That's... real clear to me."

There's this smile that seems knowing to me, "Not someone who loves Dean like that." There's something like a wistful sigh, like she's preparing to say what she's saying next, "Guess that's something the two of us share too."

There now she'd put it out in the open. Not that she is really fooling anyone but Dean. Still...

"It's kind of a relief just saying that. But... what's more important for me to say is that..." She leans forward even more, this time putting her hands together, poking her pointer finger and pulling it apart, "I guess... now that I've known a little of your pain, I don't mind if you ever want to share more with me - as much as you want - any time it's getting to be too much for you."

Straightening up she says, "Because I like you Avril - and that means all sides of you. Even the ones you can't see right now." There's an almost rueful cast to her smile, "I think... I like you better because of it. It makes you seem more... I don't know... even more human to me?"

It's perhaps not the best word for what to say to the Queen of Veruni, but it's what she has. The idea of 'human' being flawed and imperfect. If Avril had been some perfect saint, she's not sure she would have been able to stand her.

"Which is good because you're my friend - and I don't want that to change now that the two of us are..." There's a glint of something in her eyes, perhaps a tease in and of itself, "...rivals for Dean's heart."

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "Do you think so...? It seemed only right to me. Perhaps I might still remember the burdens of leadership, after a fashion." She glances up, at a gloomy sky. "I've heard it said that one's past makes a mark on them. This may be what they meant. Even if I cannot remember, I have not completely forgotten."

    Avril inclines her head in but a single nod. "Yes. You also saw the way that those Veruni in the Sanctuary reacted to me. It is said that one can rule by love or by fear... to think, that even now that is the way they think of me. Through fear perhaps a stronger loyalty has been bred, particularly for a people who have wandered so far. I may be their last hope." Her hands rest atop her knees. "...Yet, their desperation does not excuse what has been done. And still there is much I have yet to understand. I am certain of that."

    Little is simple in this world. There are hard choices to be made at times... however much Dean may wish otherwise.
    Perhaps it's that attitude that draws her to him, makes her want to protect him.

    "You are not the only one to wonder such a thing. I, too, have wondered at times whether it might not be best to turn from my quest. Yet, I thought that if I were to meet the one named Johnny Appleseed..."

    Only to find out that that person is none other than herself. She has been chasing after herself all this time, like a serpent attempting to swallow its own tail. Was there some reason behind that feeling that she needed to find 'Johnny Appleseed'? It almost seemed a joke.


    'You didn't just like Dean - you loved him.'

    It's Avril's turn now to stare at her friend, as if caught taken aback here in the stillness surrounding the ruins. "Love him... I..."
    Her brow creases, as if she's turning about that idea afresh for the first time. "...Yes. You may be right, Rebecca. Though, I should add that by that measure, I love you as well. You are both my dear friends. Perhaps, even as siblings? I... wonder, if I ever had a sibling..." that brief musing aside, she shakes her head.

    As Rebecca doubles down and admits to her own feelings.

    Avril had of course already known.

    A tale that shows in the silent look she presents to Rebecca. She says nothing: she only smiles.

    "I would like that. To share, that is. If... you already understand that part of myself, then there is little else I have to hide. ...I had confided in Noeline previously, but it still felt... wrong, to keep my feelings from the both of you. Until I could be sure..."
    But now she knows. She knows perfectly well why.

    She glances down, almost shyly, an odd look for someone who usually seems so sure of herself. "...All sides, even the ones I cannot see..." She lifts her head. "...I'm glad to hear that. I... I really am glad to hear that," Avril says, smiling now. She turns her head away, attempting to surreptitiously wipe away at an eye.

    Even if they are now to be as rivals. Or something like that.
    Is it possible for friends to share, she wonders, but here -- for now -- does not ask after.

    "I would not wish it to change either."

<Pose Tracker> Rebecca Streisand has posed.

"Sort of like... scars?" Rebecca has a few. She remembers vividly how she got each of them. However what about someone who lost their memory? Who has forgotten how they received them. The marks still remain, even if they've forgotten how they've received them. "Huh." She doesn't say anything else. Nothing profound. Just ruminating on the kind of scars that being the person Avril once was might have left. Ruminating on the kind of scars the person Avril was might have left on others. It's back and forth. The thought of an Ice Queen oppressing the Veruni to become that way. The Veruni then oppressing humanity in return. Yet at the same time, what made the Ice Queen who she was to begin with?

It feels like she could go on and on forever. In this grasping, in this blame game. It doesn't feel useful to her.

So instead she just sits and thinks on it.

"I don't know... it sounds almost poetic... even romantic to me in a way." Rebecca allows this weak shrug of her shoulders, this tentative smile, "Going off to search for someone who could help you find out who you were, only to find out that person is yourself. Sure it'd be nice if we'd found someone who could have told us all in a gentler way but..."

Rebecca seems almost puppy dog eager now to speak on the subject of their mutual feelings. After all she'd never had anyone to confide in them except paper. And now that they're out it seems less scary to say everything. However... then Avril says... 'I love you as well.'

Rebecca is caught so flat-footed that she's immediately pink from her nose to the tips of her ears, "W-Whuh-" Stammering over the thought as her brain short circuits a little. She'd never had anyone but her parents tell her that. She'd perhaps expected the first person she'd hear it from to be Dean. ... she's just about shifted to the thought that...

However then Avril says as siblings. And that causes the tumultuous shifting within her head to stop smashing about inside of her skull. "Oh!" She exclaims, putting a hand to her mouth. As it turns into an awkward laugh, "Oh that makes sense! I um... always thought it'd be nice if we grew up together ourselves. I think the thought actually came from... Oh right..." For a moment Rebecca looks abstracted. So what is it? Childhood friends? Siblings? What does she want it to be? What changes with each? "...all that with Ida. That led us... to this."

It's like she wants time to sort this out. Yet she doesn't give herself time. When someone puts themselves out there to say 'I love you.' they deserve some response to those feelings right? She can be a big girl and answer them. And so Rebecca finds herself less abstracted and staring at Avril for a few long moments. Before her lips part and she says...

"I love you too Avril."

There's a certain emotion in that makes it hard to decipher whether it's as a friend, or a sibling. Even she doesn't know. All she knows is that she doesn't want to leave her or Dean out in the cold of Elru, to go after some dream of a circus.

There's a slow blink of her eyes after as she shutters them. And there's something happy on her features, despite herself, "... I didn't expect to be saying something like that tonight. I... It's nice." It's different saying the words directly to someone's face.

Rebecca will probably be writing about this for some time to come, to figure this out. Perhaps Avril will get a sense of that.

However then she speaks on holding it back and Rebecca's smile shifts to this sort of awkward look, the girl nibbling on the inside of her lip as she thinks about it. "Sometimes people need time to sort their feelings out before putting themselves out there to people they're close to. I sure don't blame you for that."

The girl slides forward a little closer on her knees until she's adjacent to Avril. Sitting up beside her, so close that at times their shoulders are touching. She catches Avril turning away, but isn't quite certain she's...

"Well... whatever we are to each other..."

...rivals... ...siblings...

"... whatever we become..."

...childhood friends... ...or...

"... I promise you that won't change. No matter what."

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "Like scars..." Avril echoes, pursing her lips as if in thought. "Yes. That does sound like an apt analogy. Or perhaps like a muscle that, once strengthened, retains that capacity. Though, I do think the analogy of 'a scar' seems best."

    A memory that cannot be consciously recalled, which yet remains enduring.
    Perhaps, Avril thinks suddenly, it might be compared to a candle that still burns, though it has been left alone in the dark.
    The dark. Her mind has returned to the darkness again.

    Perhaps it is because she recalls hazily -- as if in a half-remembered dream -- an awakening from the dark and the cold.
    And meeting a gaze that was equally cold. Even then, he wore his hatred like s shroud.

    Volsung. Who was he?

    The best -- and only -- way to find out anything about him might be to ask the Veruni. But, would that be wise...?

    She may want to be as a shadow and attempt to fade into a sort of obscurity, at least until such time that she can learn more. Perhaps the Memorial Sanctuary might be able to provide that. Just...

    It's almost poetic, Rebecca says. "Oh?" Almost romantic. Avril tilts her head a degree to one side, apparently listening in. "...So what you mean is, in a way it suits as a metaphor for self-discovery?" ...She really is an odd duck, unfamiliar with marriage or burial, yet apparently well-acquainted with concepts like this. "Hmm, perhaps so. I wonder if the person I had been had her own doubts. ...At times, I sense a feeling of regret. Might it be that she-- that I regretted what I had done? Perhaps I was in search of what I had wanted, or what I should do now, and thus, I was truly in search of myself." She sighs, shaking her head. "Maybe that might all be a bit much? Still, without knowing more, all I can do is suppose and assume."

    So she says, before Rebecca comes out and admits to a certain something.
    And Avril responds as only she can.

    "...Is something wrong, Rebecca?" She leans towards Rebecca now, eyeing her with grave concern.

    When Rebecca has her realization, Avril blinks, apparently now simply confused.
    Then it's her turn to be a little surprised, a little off kilter...

    Before she smiles.

    "I... have also thought that. If we had grown up together. ...To be honest," she admits, glancing away, her gaze hooded, "I have been a little bit jealous of you and Dean. The both of you have a connection with one another that I could never hope to match. You grew up together. You have shared experiences I never will," she points out, and then, simply smiles in spite of such admission. "...It's a relief to say that and not keep it locked away in my heart. Please be assured, I do not bear a grudge towards either of you. Yet, it is my impossible wish."

    A wish that, briefly, the mirror had brought to life.
    And if she couldn't have that -- wouldn't traveling forever be her choice --
    But even that's impossible. Some day, she will have to attend to her responsibility. And when that day comes...

    For now, though, there's this:

    'I love you too.'

    Of all things, a faint pink -- as if cast from the tip of a water-color painter's brush -- splashes its way across Avril's cheeks.

    "I'm... really happy to hear you say that, Rebecca."

    Really happy -- because she's a friend? Or nearly a sibling? Or...

    That slight smile doesn't depart, not now. Gazing down at her lap, Avril crosses her hands with one another. "I, as well. Yet, I am also glad..."

    After everything that's happened. After everything they've gone through.
    It's wonderful to hear that.
    She can take strength in that -- in this girl who has learned her heart better than most, and still won't turn away.

    "Yes. Nevertheless, with the both of you by my side..."

    She closes her eyes briefly, tilts her head up to the sky. Gazes into the grey expanse.

    "...I know I will find the correct path. Thank you, Rebecca."

    Whatever they are. Whatever they'll become. Whatever might happen. Whatever might stand in their way.

    It won't change. No matter what.

    "Yes... thank you."