2019-08-25: There Has to Be Another Way

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  • Log: 2019-08-25: There Has to Be Another Way
  • Cast: Ivan, Talia, Lydia Seren
  • Where: The Moonflow
  • Date: August 25, 2019
  • Summary: Ivan tries to convince Talia to fake her death and leave Spira to escape Lubov. Lydia offers to sacrifice herself instead. They're left realizing there are no good options.

===============================<* The Moonflow *>===============================

The Moonflow is a large river that bisects Spira's largest island into southern and northern halves. Strange flowers called Moonlilies grow on the Moonflow's banks, attracting pyreflies that gather on its surface at night, making the water sparkle. Although a beautiful area, the weather tends to be overcast more often than not, the souls of the dead providing the most reliable source of illumination.

The primary method of crossing the Moonflow is aboard a shoopuf - an elephantine creature that can swim across the expansive river. The crossing service is funded by the Temple of Yevon and is free of charge.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wcVnJQ-FN4
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia was saved from death thanks to her friends, and the Shadow Dragon Cult sent fleeing. She recovered from being stabbed well enough, but afterward, she did not quite want to just resume a life of adventuring immediately. Instead, she set about the task of helping Ammy repair the Festina Lente.

This includes marveling at the very notion that she has, somehow, a place of her own. She can't say she truly owns the Lente, but it feels increasingly 'hers' in a way that she has never had.

Part of this includes decorating.

Which she is showing Lydia. She stops before a large -- as in, it takes up most of the wall -- painting of a Bomb Flower. The Bomb Flower is in a pot, with green leaves, a shiny grey orb, and6 a crown upon it. Talia bobs her head in appreciation.

"And this, this is the crowning piece, no?" she tells Lydia. She has been showing her most of the house. "This is the portrait of her majesty, Queen Anastasia! This one is not one of Ammy's illusions. I spent 8,000 gil to have this commissioned."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Hooray! Talia was saved from death!

Lydia has wanted to check in on Talia for a while now but with her being asleep for a while, Lydia didn't have much opportunity to really check in on her. Plus after that, she figure Talia would prefer to have some alone time with her girlfriend and then she went on her own soul searching for a bit and well anyway.

"You two really love that Bomb Flower," Lydia is remarking. "But I guess she is pretty cute. Though I have to wonder how a flower evolved into...a bomb?"

She then snickeres briefly. "The crowning piece, huh?" Then her eyes wien when Talia says how much she spent. "8,000 gil? Are you serious?" Her mouth hangs open. "How'd you get that kind of dough?"

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"This is a good question, no?" Talia says.

In a way, this is nice. She could talk to Lydia about the serious things -- about Ivan, about how she almost died, about things she realized after that, and about Ammy. But, in the end, there is a comfort in having a moment that is normal with her best friend.

"Queen Anastasia is wonderful, though! She is very cute." She sits in her corner, a little umbrella over her, and sits there pleasantly. She taps a finger against her chin -- and then she looks sideways at Lydia. How did she get 8,000 gil?

"It was my life savings," Talia says. "To quote the Saga of Dragonmaster Chloe: worth it."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Just then, Ivan bursts in, looking like the world is ending, because as far as he's concerned, it is.

"TALIA!! What are you doing still here? You should be on a boat across the ocean already! I can help you pack!!"

After a few beats, he processes the presence of Lydia, and adds: "Hi Lydia, everything is fine and normal, Talia just needs to leave Spira forever right away."

Maybe he learned of an impending attack? Or the stress of waiting for the Shadow Dragon Cult to make their next move has finally sent him off the deep end...? Either way, he looks harried and frantic, and in his haste to hurry Talia off to the safety of exile, he seems to have forgotten how to communicate properly.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia's expression rapidly becomes horrified as Talia says it was her life savings. And worth it. It's practically zombified.

But thankfully Ivan bursts in like it's the end of the world and honestly this has gotten to be so normal to Lydia that she's frankly relieved to have a distraction from Talia spending all her money on a painting of a flower.

She blinks blankly a few times before looking back to Talia, then back to Ivan. "Umm...can you slow down, Ivan? What's going on? It doesn't, uh, seem like everything is fine and normal."

Talia can't just leave! She spent her life savings on a painting of a flower! She's made her life here!

"Also she spent all her money on a painting so she wouldn't be able to pay for that kind of passage." Lydia adds. "Do you like it? It's their flower."

Pause. "It's a flower."

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

The door burst open and Talia turns to look at Ivan. She blinks at him slowly a couple of times, her own expression confused. "Those message sphere things you sent me," she says, a little flatly. "I saw you tell me that I need to leave Spira."

She tilts her head incredulously, making such a face at him. Though, her eyebrow twitches a little when Lydia admits that Talia spent her life savings on a painting to her brother.

(To give Talia some credit: her life savings were pretty meager. She mostly gets jobs as a sellsword and hasn't built much of an income.)

"She is right," she says. "I cannot leave Spira! Maybe you need a drink, no? Is everything okay, Ivan? Do you need a drink?"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"Yes!! You need to leave Spira! But you didn't! You're still here!" Ivan slumps forward and holds his head in his hands and goes 'aaagh!' and then looks back at them again.

"Talia why did you spend all your money on a picture of your bomb plant when we live in a terrible world where there are various people after your life!"

Ivan has been living in the new reality created by Lubov's message since last night, and it's arguable whether he managed any sleep in the interim. The panicked energy inside his mind has built up to the point where it seems that he may explode, but at least there aren't any literal flames leaping off of him... so far.

Why don't they get it?? Why? Why?

AHA. BECAUSE HE DIDN'T TELL THEM WHAT IS HAPPENING YET!

"Lubov is almost here! Someone saw you and told him you're alive!!"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

JOJO STYLE NARRATOR: Remember! Lydia's fatal flaw is GREED. She can't imagine spending one's life savings on a luxury item like that ESPECIALLY if you don't have a lot of money saved up! In short, the painting of Queen Anastasia has shook Lydia to her core! By being shook to her core, her STAND is--oh wait nevermind.

Ivan getting ahead of himself is probably why Lydia asked him to slow down but it still takes a while before she sems to really get what Ivan's getting at until he practically spells it out.

"Oh! Lubov is almost here!" Lydia says. "That's why you need to run away, Talia."

There is a long pause from Lydia before she adds, "Cool, I'ma hit him with a comet."

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"Vanya, don't ask silly questions! Why don't people spend more money on such things when times are dire! It makes the world a happier place, no?" Talia says, with a slight groan. She puts a hand to her head, in an overly animated sort of way.

This, of course, is something of a joke. A little bit of play acting for Talia, about how terrible the situation is. It shows, because the moment that Ivan mentions that Lubov is here, all of the humor -- and the color -- drains from her face.

Lydia's statement feels like a droplet of calm in a sea of dread and fear. It feels so alien that she doesn't even know how to process it. It feels like, in an instant, a year of living on her own is undone -- like she is suddenly back in the manor again. She feels as if she is waiting to be hurt again.

She swallows, and it feels sharp in her throat.

Her voice is quiet, then. "...He found out I am alive," she says. "He didn't take it well, did he? He--" She stares down at her feet. "...What did he say? Is he coming for me?"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is stopped up short, because he realizes now he rolled right over the part of this where he needed to break it gently to Talia that it's finally certain that their father would truly rather see them dead than free. His tone turns grave, but more quiet.

"...No...he didn't take it well. He took it the way we were always afraid he would. I'm sorry, Talia."

Cool, I'ma hit him with a comet.

Ivan whirls toward Lydia and suddenly catches her hands in his own and looks her in the eyes with a weird, stern intensity. "No. You aren't gonna hit him with a comet. Talia is going to dissappear and be safe, and I am going to go on being his assassin, and you're not going to piss him off and get yourself put on his hit list -- no, it wouldn't even be a hit list, he'd probably see you regrow an arm and want to study you in his lab forever."

He releases her, and looks back and forth between her and Talia. "That's what we're all going to do. Okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia's eyes widen as her hands are SEIZED UP and held by Ivan's. Her cheeks silver predictably and she just sort of freezes in place as Ivan lectures her on not hitting him with a comet and how it's her job to 'not piss Lubov off' and miss one of her closest friends and the guy she has recently confessed to forever.

But she still is slow to comment on any of this because Ivan is holding her hands. And she sort of has the presence of mind to get a good grip on Ivan's hands, thus forcing him to kind of wiggle them free as Lydia is frozen in place. He doesn't try to grab at his hands again but it's a bit of effort to pry oneself free from her.

"Okay, I guess maybe I was looking at this the wrong way, but does Lubov know how to fight? Is he like good at personally hurting people like some sort of super ninja assassin? Like what's his actual for real capabilities? Y'all are more scared of him than friggin' Sin."

She crosses her arms. "I don't like this plan. Cause I don't get to see my bff or my treasure hunting pal who are two people out of a real select crowd that make life as a shambling whatever-i-am bearable. So if you go back to work for him I'm probably gonna do somethin' real dumb." She might do something real dumb anyway. "I don't...know what it is yet, but I can promise you it's really stupid."

She lowers her head a bit before looking back to Talia. "But if you two want to skip town, I've...got a boat. I'll find a way to get the Captain to get you outta Spira to--wherever you want to go. I don't like it, but... I'll figure somethin' out, I guess."

She considers, "Maybe if he captures me and puts me in a lab, Solaris will murder him." She says thoughtfully as stupid plan #1.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

The cold feeling never leaves Talia's stomach. She stares at Ivan without looking at him, her expression blank. She didn't need to ask Ivan how Lubov took it. She already knew how Lubov took it. He had every intention of murdering her -- he told Ivan to kill her, she guesses.

It takes her a long moment to come out of that trance, like ice thawing. She realizes that Ivan is holding Lydia's hands. That, somehow, feels significant.

"Ivan," she says, softly. She realizes that he is right -- that staying here is dangerous. Lydia getting Lubov's attention is a terrible idea. All of that is right, and yet there is so much more.

His name wasn't a preamble to anything. She just wanted to say something. She looks at Lydia, her eyes wide for a moment -- and then she shakes her head. "He has white magic. He is... probably one of the best white mages I've ever heard of. And he has other hirelings. And... a lot of connections."

She swallows, and then she looks down. "...but... I don't want to skip town. I--I have a life here, no? With Ammy, with all of you, and--" She swallows, and doesn't meet any of their eyes. She looks, pointedly, at the floor.

"He took away so much of my life," she says, a little hoarsely. "I'm happy, without reservations. I can't--I can't win a fight against him. But I can't just run away, either!"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"Also, Talia, it would be really helpful if you could leave me something of yours so I could fake like I killed you..." Ivan is saying, before he tunes into the reality of the situation where nobody takes orders from him. "--what do you mean you won't run away, no, you have to! Lydia, you too, don't... do something stupid! What does that even mean, that's terrifying!""

He looks to Talia. "I need to pretend I killed you so he goes away happily, that's the only way this blows over. Maybe you can come back to your life in Spira later, after he clears out. But you can't just stay and hope he doesn't find you here. Even if he doesn't, if I say I failed to find you, there's... there's some stakes that have been added."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia wonders in that moment how you even fight a super powerful white mage. They just heal themselves after you stab them! No wonder they said no stabbing Lubov. Or hitting him with a comet. What is bigger than a comet? Lydia thinks about that for a moment.

She wonders if Lubov would even fall for Ivan's scheme here in the first place "What does what mean?" She asks distantly. "Bff? Best friend forever." She may be misunderstanding Ivan intentionally here.

But she doesn't have any better plan to offer besides 'hit with comet'. Lydia has 'connections' too but Lubov might very well have the Guard. or the Cult on his side.

But Ivan says there's more stakes. "What--stakes are those?" Lydia asks.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"He--he means... if he doesn't kill me, Lubov will either kill him or--or make him wish he did," Talia stammers out. She looks pale, still. Her hand rests on the frame of a doorway in the Lente, and she leans against it more than she would like to. She closes her red eyes, and does everything she can to not hyperventilate.

"And he will kill me, too," she says. "Or--or try."

She doesn't say it like she believes Lubov will only try. Her fear of him runs deep, in ways that she knows aren't entirely rational. Her hand trembles, before she looks up at Ivan. "I--I can't do that. I... I left you behind once, no? I can't do that again. I can't--I can't give up my life here. With everyone here."

She looks at Lydia. That includes her. Then, she looks back at Ivan. "That includes you, too, now, no? There--there has to be another way, Vanya."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"No, no, no, not like that. Just some normal unpleasant consequences for failing. He never said anything about killing or making me wish anything," says Ivan. Which is true, technically, but the message was still pretty clear.

"He'll probably just have somebody punch me a couple of times or something, it's not really that big a deal. If you don't want to pretend to be dead you don't have to, whatever, forget I brought it up."

Ivan sighs exasperatedly. A little puff of smoke may have come out of his mouth as he does.

Why did he tell the truth? Maybe he could have convinced Talia to go on vacation or something if she didn't know she was running away from their father. Now everyone's miserable and Talia isn't safe. Is there some way to fake Talia's death so effectively that Lubov never even notices she's still openly living here while hoping to find a better solution to the whole mess?

Maybe...? But Talia isn't the only reason he's here! He isn't going to just nod and go home after...

Ivan tunes out a bit with his hand over his mouth, staring at the ground as his thoughts whirl unhelpfully in these circles.

"Maybe... ... we will have to keep thinking," he says finally, because it's starting to dawn on him that whatever solution he finds may need to happen without Talia's cooperation. "Sorry I came up with a plan that upset everyone. I panicked a little."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Oh." Lydia says. "This guy's a real piece of work."

She closes her eyes, crossing her arms. There isn't really a good solution she can think of that doesn't involve confronting Lubov and hoping for the best.

Well there's one solution.

"We could escape to Filgaia somehow maybe." Lydia says. "I know there must be some way... But to be honest, um... I think uh..." They're not going to like it. And they aren't going to go along with it, she realizes, but it's seriously the only way for everyone to be happy.

They need to confront Lubov and stop him once and for all, or if not stop him then destroy him, destroy his fortune, destroy his contacts...destroy a whole lot of things.

Ivan tries to deny that Lubov wouldn't kill him but Talia spells it out. Oh no. They can't lie to each other! They know each other too well!! This is the problem with getting to know people, they can call you out on your bullshit!

"I know you don't like it," Lydia says quietly. "But you can't keep living on the run forever. You're going to run out of places to hide. He's either gonna have to murder you from the front or the back and maybe the back is easier since you don't have to risk anything you can just die whenever is convenient for this asshole."

She spreads an arm out. "But if you face him, you might even live! And if you beat him, or even just make him think he's at risk, he'll back off. And you have, at least, time."

She drops her arms. "But you guys don't want to do that. So I can turn myself over to Solaris in exchange for them helping you. They want me back. It's a pretty good deal. One person for two and at the very least they probably won't kill me."

She looks back to Ivan for a bit as he apologizes. She frowns faintly and her hands tighten into fists. She's pissed. She's flippin' enraged. If Lubov was already in Spira she'd be out hunting him.

But seeing such fear in Talia and Ivan's eyes, in their hearts. She hates killing, but she really wants to kill Lubov.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia's eyes are on the floor again, in short order. She has a habit of never looking someone in the eye when she gets nervous, anxious, or awkward. She is probably the most of the first two that she has been in a year, right now. There is a tremor to her hand on the door frame.

If Ivan is worried about upsetting her, there is a reason. She looks terribly upset.

"That--" That isn't what Lubov will do. She looks at Ivan with wide eyes, strained and tense, and her fingers curl tightly into the frame of the door. It doesn't give or bend under her grip. "Vanya, that--that isn't what he will do."

She hears Lydia's words, her hand trembling a little more. If she faces Lubov, she could end it. And yet, if they face Lubov, everything is real. All of the abuse, all of the pain, all of the fear -- it becomes real, and all of the people they care for know how awful their childhood is.

Lydia makes her offer, then, and she stares. "No!" she says. "No--no one is sacrificing themselves for us. No one should do that. I--" She almost says she isn't worth it.

She looks down. "...We just... we just need time to think, no? There... there must be something we can do."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Talia denies Ivan's attempt to dispel the severity of his own situation, and he stubbornly insists. "It is! You didn't hear the message, I did! It's just--" And then, Lydia proposes offering herself to Solaris for them.

Talia and Ivan have in common that they both look at Lydia with shocked stares after her offer. "Aaah is that the 'stupid thing?!' Your plan is even worse than my plan!!"

Ivan sputters. "At least in my plan nobody ends up losing their freedom!" Well, Ivan doesn't come out of it 'free' exactly, but you can't really lose something you've never had. He's already freer than he's comfortable with, anyway.

"Lydia, please don't do that. That's horrible. I don't want you to give up your freedom for us. And I don't want to be bailed out of my problems by some lofty asshole aliens that have nothing to do with any of it."

He doesn't know if that's because he wants to kill Lubov himself if he ever gets the nerve, or if he's uncomfortable with killing his father in general, but he knows that the idea of having the person who's controlled and menaced him all his life casually wiped from existence by some equally horrible third party in exchange for Lydia just leaves him with a weird, empty horror sort of a feeling.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"You lost your freedom!" Lydia points out immediately. "And also like your life probably! And it's ... it's probably inevitable anyway!"

But honestly Lydia doesn't press that plan too hard because her favorite plan is still 'drop a comet on Lubov, but maybe like two in case he heals himself or something.

It's a good plan, she feels like! Maybe stab him a few times for good measure! She simply likes the sacrifice herself plan more than 'never see Talia and Ivan again because they are dead or pretending to be dead' plan or 'Ivan dies because he couldn't find Talia' plan or a lot of these plans really.

"Well, then nobody can sacrifice themselves. Or their happiness."

Talia says they just need time to think. Maaybe they DO have some time to at least try to come up with something.

"And I guess people shouldn't have their plans solved by lofty asshole aliens either." Even in spite of suggesting it she can kind of get the idea of the horror of it all.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia's still looking at the floor. Part of her wants to cry, and she screams at herself in her own mind. What right does she have to cry? She did things that cannot be forgiven -- that no amount of friendship, love, and happiness will make right. All she can do is keep living.

Or...

She keeps looking down. "I... I just..." Lydia identifies the impasse they are at. Can she do something about this? She sees options -- and none of them are good ones.

"...I need time to think, no?" she says. "I--I am going to go to our room." She means hers and Amaranth's. She turns, then, starting towards the stairs. She faces away pointedly -- but the way her hand shakes, as she grabs the stairwell might say a lot.

"I'll be back later, no? Just--just, please. Do not..." Her voice catches in her throat. "...do not do anything rash, Vanya. Lydia. Both of you. Please."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Talia asks for some time for herself. Ivan still doesn't have an answer, and feels a crash of guilt that Talia is being left without hope or a plan and feels terrible enough about it to want to retreat from them so they don't see it. He can see a little of it regardless, as her hand shakes, and he struggles with whether to ask her not to leave, and even reaches his hand out a little, but finally lowers it and gives a soft, "Okay."

He hesitates. "I'll just... ... ... I'll..." he looks at Lydia. He doesn't know if he wants to hide to be with his thoughts as well -- he's already been alone with his thoughts for hours -- or if maybe it would be a bad idea to leave her after the thoughts she was having about Solaris, or what he can do ... it does feel hopeless, like no matter what they do, life as he knows it is going to end in just a couple of days...

He wasn't ready for this. He wasn't ready to make these choices. Does he try somehow to send Lubov away thinking Talia is dead? Does he... face him? Is there any way from keeping Talia and Lydia from taking that risk along with him? Would he be forgiven if he faced Lubov without them?

Would he survive for it to matter if he's forgiven?

He realizes he never finished his sentence and doesn't really remember how he began it.

"...Do you want to sit with me, maybe?" he asks Lydia, quietly.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia doens't stop Talia from leaving. She is asked to not do anything rash, but she only has rash thoughts in her mind. She could stand with being hated by her if it means she was safe and healthy and they could be happy. But maybe they couldn't be happy if she--

--ugh it's not worth rolling around in her head forever.

And Ivan provides an out. Her eyes wide. Her cheeks silver again and she says, "O-oh?"

Pause.

"Yeah. Yeah let's do that!"

Maybe this IS what Talia meant by not doing anything rash. Intense sitting next to each other!!!

She plops down pretty quickly.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia continues up the stairway. She makes it to the door of her shared room with Ammy, then closes it behind her, before she slumps against it. Her eyes close and she bows her head, then. She feels her breath shake in her throat; she feels memories and regrets bubbling up.

Wasn't she supposed to be better than this?

Wasn't she supposed to be getting better, day by day?

And yet, just the knowledge her father is here feels like a crushing set back. She feels herself slip -- she feels the weight of memory, the sensation of blood and rainwater pooling at her feet, and ink running down a page. Talia's hand trembles, and then she slumps. She still slumps against the door, until she sits on her haunches, silently. She was trained well.

It makes it easy, when the tears come, to keep it silent so they won't know.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan sits down beside Lydia, silently taking her hand and lacing his fingers through hers. If he were asked in this moment, with so many larger things at stake, he might even admit that it's for his own reassurance more than Lydia's.

He looks ahead, breathing carefully, so overwhelmed by the fear, and guilt, and uncertainty that it almost becomes a form of numbness. Like the problem is vast enough that he can choose not to see the individual pieces, for a moment.

At least that means there's nothing on his face to hide. Breathe. Breathe.

Don't think about Talia's peace being shattered because you didn't handle the situation on your own.

Don't think about Lydia wanting to sell her freedom to save you, because you blurted it all out in front of her.

Don't think about how you could have left with Talia four years ago if you'd had the nerve.

Don't think about how stupid you were, trading in life after life, thinking eventually you'd prove yourself more then a disposable tool.

The next breath shakes, and he lowers his head, until he can swallow the emotions down.

Yeah. This is fine. He's barely feeling it at all.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

What is Lydia shooting herself down with at this moment?

She doesn't need to be some sort of Ivan and Talia Doctor to know that they're hurting. She knows that she can be of some comfort to the two of them, she can make life a little more hopeful for them, but can she actually help them? She's not sure. Even if Lubov died tommorow, would they be able to celebrate? She's unsure. The damage might always be there, and maybe it will never really heal. Lydia hopes that they could forget or, at least, move on. Only maybe shed a tear once in a while where nobody's looking, but have genuine happy smiles for the rest of their lives.

She's supposed to be light that shines through darkness as thick as space, but right now she feels less than a tiny flickering match that Ivan is holding very carefully to keep warm.

And maybe it doesn't matter what she's supposed to be. Maybe it's foolish of her to try and build a life for herself knowing damn well that with a whisper Solaris might just drag her back into their clutches without a second thought. It could happen tommorow. It could already be happening and she wouldn't even know it.

Her eyes are their eyes.

But it's much more than that isn't it?

But Ivan's holding onto her hand, fingers interlaced with her own and in truth she hasn't held hands like that very many times before. She is selfish and doesn't want to give it up. She gives that hand a bit of a wordless squeeze as if to make sure it's still there.

Like a devious monster, really, because her shaking hands aren't fit for holding.

Because they aren't hands at all.