2021-03-28: Being A Romantic

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  • Log: Being A Romantic
  • Cast: Ethius Hesiod, Lydia Seren
  • Where: Celesti Wastelands
  • Date: March 28, 2021
  • Summary: One of the least open and most guarded people Lydia has ever known decides to touch base with her about relationships, as she continues to work through her own difficulties involving one.

============================<* Celesti Wastelands *>============================

Decades ago, the nation of Celesti ripped itself apart in a vicious civil war. Outside of a handful of settlements, its former territories are lifeless. The remains of trenches, bunkers, and barbed wire lines serve as lingering reminders of the conflict--scars that have yet to heal. The earth is dry and barren, and much of the groundwater has been contaminated by biological or chemical weapons.

Travel through the Wastelands is treacherous. The roads are pockmarked with shell craters, and Reapers have been known to haunt its blasted plains. A handful of functional rail lines cross the wastes, but these travel directly to their final destinations. The shattered remains of ghost towns dot the landscape. Some may yet hold things of value, but experienced travelers know better than to go treasure-hunting on a whim. The war-dead of Celesti do not rest.

Ghosts aren't even the strangest things one can find here. As the war dragged on, both the Congressional Knights and Aquvy Union dug up ancient weapons to aid their efforts--including, it's rumored, ARMs from Zeboim. These rumors draw both the daring and desperate into the wastes, and more often than not, to their end.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The CaraKin is... the CaraKin. Sometimes it feels cut off from the world outside of it, being roomier than it has any right to be by any physical laws of the universe (and other laws of that nature). No matter how arid, turbulent, or even toxic it might be out there... inside the CaraKin, it's home enough for the traveling merchant crew. (Merchant crew, plus menagerie, plus whatever the hell Ethius is.)
     Ethius has found a vulnerability in the CaraKin's security at this hour, which is to say 'its kitchen is unmanned.' Because there is no one in the kitchen, Ethius is in the kitchen. This vulnerability manifests in the form of him... 'cooking.'
     It's innocuous enough. He knows his way around basic preparation. Every utensil is meticulously cleaned within the available 'budget' of clean water, of which Filgaia's is always scarce. (Moreso in a place like this, so blasted by the Civil War that almost nothing can live there any more.)
     Every vial he intends to use is washed, and with that... he slides over a series of ingredients whose identities will be protected in this pose, for he is about to embark on a path he should never be allowed to tread.
     Making 'snacks.'

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren is sometimes in the CaraKin. She makes her way into the kitchen today and walks by Ethius to get out a box of cereal. She takes a bowl down and pours the cereal inside before placing her face in the bowl of cereal and munching on it that way.

There is a long pause, their head jerking up as oats and raisins tumble from their face and they look to Ethius.

"..........Were you..."

"......Always there?" Lydia asks, horrified.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The strange man does not so much disturb Lydia as she comes in and gets her cereal, for he is a master of being obtrusively unobtrusive and this may well be a skill he was born with and not one he was educated in, because... sometimes he is just that oppressively off-frame from what's going on. (On the other hand, what he's making is some kind of stuff that is really gooey and gross so maybe it is just fine the universe does not have its camera on that!!!)
     "Yes." He remarks, flatly, tapping a utensil on the edge of a sink. They should totally set it on fire and throw it out. (The sink, that is. The utensil itself may be too far gone for fire to cleanse.)
     He keeps his back turned to Lydia for a while as he continues down the path of culinary horror, but stops as he lowers his head. He doesn't put a hand to it, though.
     "...How have you been feeling since your break-up?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"................."

Lydia is stunned silent. A mix of wonder and horror appears on her face. What is going on here? Is he trying to be the dad NOW when he steadfastly refused the dad job offer!? Maybe this is just friend interest.

Right. Friend interest. Friends are good.

"It's been rough," Lydia admits. "But I mean, we agreed to stop the whole 'Let's keep some distance for a while' thing which was really the worst part. I still want to go on adventures with him, so we will! Still go on adventures. Eventually? Maybe. I hope."

Her cheeks silver faintly and then thinks for a moment. "ACtually I probably should've asked you why you were interested in case it was some really weird reason first huh."

She looks at Ethius expectantly.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    This man totally did turn down the 'dad' job offer, and in the cruelest way imaginable to someone who struggled to find positive role models in their tragedy-filled life. His head doesn't rise up from its current hunch as he slows down on the eldritch process of Ethius Cooking(tm). (If he stopped cooking at all he'd still be going too fast.)
     "It came to mind from the time you were considering venting out your feelings upon the bookstore in Sylvaland." To date, he's still a little surprised so many people fixated on him looking up something as innocuous as team games and sports. As if somehow Ethius cannot be trusted with the very idea of knowledge of how people come together and play innocent games with ball-shaped objects (this might even be truth and a major tragedy just may have been avoided from due diligence on the part of the Drifter community, great job team)!
     That statement is, at least, partially true.
     Straightening out, Ethius fails to properly wash the utensil (it doesn't matter he gets it looking clean with water, what that thing went through ensures it'll never be clean again) and taps it against the sink before putting it up somewhere.
     "I did rebuke the notion of it prior," he says as he turns to face her at last, hands folded behind his back like he were standing at attention and not talking to a troubled young lady struggling to get on the rebound now that there's that shred of hope of redefining her relationship with Ivan.
     "I would like to discuss that with you - the notion of break-ups and separations - if," there's a pause, as if struggling to find some sort of pre-scripted statement to finish the sentence with, "that... might see you through the worst of it should that happen again."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Oh god.

Lydia says, 'Oh." She lowers her head. "...It was...pretty rough. But, you know, I don't really want to dwell on it? But I'm okay with talking about it." There's a subtle difference there for Lydia it seems. "So if you want to talk about it, we can do that. But I might have to cut it off eventually just because--it is still pretty fresh even if it isn't like 'yesterday' fresh, you get me?"

She seems confused. "Rebuked what notion?" She asks, uncertain what Ethius is getting at there but she doesn't press it super hard. She knows that sometimes Ethius prefers to be vague. It's just sometimes Ethius is ACCIDENTALLY vague and it's hard to tell which is which. But Ethius does seem to have god intentions here at least?

Lydia quirks her head, and then eventually smiles. "...Well... okay."

She leans back. "Let's talk about it. I'm not sure really what will help me get over it. Maybe I'll just get over it eventually but... It's nice of you to offer to talk to me about it. I just--I guess I thought it was going well, but it didn't turn out to be going too well. Or maybe it was, but it wasn't right--because Ivan wasn't actually ready for something like this. Which is fine, you know, it happens?"

"But it does suck." She pauses. "You ever break up with someone before, Ethius?"

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    When Lydia decides to talk about it, Ethius leaves the comfortable confines of standing upright on a hard floor to look over a young woman just enjoying her cereal to go sit down somewhere else close by - and not all that far from her, for that matter, as if allowing himself to get as close as she might be comfortable with. (This is a behavior worthy of an Odessa Clone Check!!!)
     His body language, otherwise, continues to remain as minimal and guarded as ever.
     'You ever break up with someone before, Ethius?' Comes that question. A man like him, who seems to have made it a habit to basically be as huge of a jerk as possible and exploit the kindness of so many as he goes about doing all sorts of awful antisocial things like 'burn this cool thing' or 'rip this other cool thing out of peoples' hands.' Could anyone ever have been in a relationship with--
     "Several times."
     He has his head turned mostly in Lydia's direction as he says this, with as straight a face as anyone who hides the lower half of his face all the time can manage. (It's pretty damned straight.)
     "I do not remember all the details clearly. There are some details I would rather withhold among those that I do," he says still without putting a hand to his forehead, "but I do remember I have had several relationships. I... do remember being strongly encouraged to try them, and keep trying them."
     These last years, though, no one has seen him do anything of the sort - taking those words at face value, from someone like him, might be... strange? Suspect? He hasn't broken eye contact, though.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia nods slowly. "Yeah that's fair," regarding withholding details. Hey, at least there's something she's not intensely frustrated at Ethius's discretion on. "Do you think you might be ace? Or aro? It's cool if you are," Lydia says. "Being defined by your relationships--I mean, we're more than who we like to boink and all that." She manages a smile. "So it'll probably be okay if relationships aren't really your thing. But if they are your thing, well, don't give up on them or anything just cause you had a bunch of bad runs. Even if it didn't work out, my life is a lot better off because I got to know Ivan and Talia. I still love them very much."

"...I still love him." Lydia says. "But it's okay. Sometimes things don't work out. And who knows? Maybe someday we try again. Or not! Relationships aren't like an ancient ruin, they don't last forever and aren't neccessarily filled with traps."

She lowers her head, noticing Ethius staring.

"But it still sucks, you know?"

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius blinks once as Lydia asks the questions. 'You might be ace? Or aro?'
     "As in... ah." As if her saying those words in shorthand catch him off-guard, preventing him from speaking up as Lydia takes out her feelings about relationships and talks about how happy and better off she is for having gotten to know the likes of Ivan and Talia.
     He keeps at eye level until Lydia lowers her head to talk about how it all still sucks, and his head goes to his forehead in a novel, entirely unrehearsed way -
     His hand his now covering both his eyes outright, thumb and fingers splayed for several seconds as if...
     ...actually flustered.
     "...You... appear to have talked yourself the point I was intending... yes." Even his speaking tone of voice has been broken towards something more human and natural-sounding. "...That... that much is true. It... it took me a long while to accept I... didn't have particular interest or pleasure in the physically intimate elements of romance."
     He brings that hand down from his face, slowly, eyes closed and letting it drift down as if trying to remember how to guide that part of his body between that posture and the one he likes to rigidly keep it in.
     "...It... it is never easy. There are things I would have done differently had I been aware of that prior." Back to normal nearly-monotone Ethius, but that emotional mask slipped again. "...I suppose there was no way to have known for sure without having gone through... all of them."
     His eyes open up again. They're not quite as oppressively heavy as his stares tend to be.
     "Relationships are... not a hard science, of any persuasion." Beat. "Nor an easy one, I would say before you take that out of my mouth. It would seem you're... more ahead of the curve than I was prepared for."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Ace is shorthand for 'Asexual' which means you don't want to fuck anybody," Lydia explains, figuring Ethius's problems with remembering things might mean he doesn't recall all these terms. "Whereas aro is short for aromantic which means you're not interested in romance! I think I'm too horny to be ace and I like romance too much to be aro..."

She knows all the hot lingo, Ethius. But Ethius shares a little more of her past and Lydia actually smiles, scootching over a bit to take his hand. Lydia often bemoans her own condition, but when she senses difficult memories and pain in others she can't help but reach out to them. Maybe so long as she acts in this way, she can never really belong to Solaris.

"It's valid, you know? You get to feel how you want about people and if that kind of relationship doesn't do it for you, it's fine. It doesn't make you less of a guy or nothing. I can imagine, like, people telling you you need to be this or that. It's like that a lot of the time, but-- It's your life. Only you get to make that decision. And I hope the folks in your life, once you realized what you were, I hope they accepted it. And if they didn't, they're butts. I'll tell 'em if I ever see 'em myself."

Ethius says she was 'more ahead of the curve' than he expected and Lydia laughs a bit, rubbing at her head. "Well..." She says. "I'm a girl but, like, people used to see me as a guy and I had a body that made people think 'oh that's a guy'--so I had to do a lot of looking into stuff and I learned I was 'trans'. And I learned some other stuff about sex'n'gender in there too,"

She shrugs both shoulders. "But yeah I mean, it's not like I've been in an actual relationship or nothing outside of Ivan, so it's pretty much all book learning and the occassional anecdote from a traveler or two."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius gets drilled on the knowledge of personal identity and the way people relate to one another. For all of his lost memories and how that does (...or doesn't?) affect the way he carries himself, something about all this has him lowering his guard... enough that the dropped hand is within intimate hand-holding range. Enough that he is the one who gets to be told what is or isn't valid (spoiler: all of it is).
     He's motionless throughout all of the explanation and reassurances, as if somewhere, somehow, all of this entire scenario has jumped so afar from whatever script was running through his head that he could be starting to struggle to remember what letters look like, what words they form, and how to identify their existence beyond a specific color of font on the backdrop of a specific color of page.
     He may well be impressed and too paralyzed to think of how to voice that to a young woman who may well be far, far, far more on the ball about all of this than he is, and that may even be with, in theory, the fullest faculties of his memories if he were ever to reclaim them.
     "...I should... apologize, Lydia." Not 'Miss Lydia,' as tends to be his habit. That weird, overly formal use of referring to everyone around him which was always tonally 'off.' His head lowers. "I had deliberated for a while as to whether I... should have broached the topic in your darker moments, in consideration of... previous... disagreements and actions." They both know which ones!
     He hasn't yanked his hand out of her grasp. He may have forgotten it's there. How do you forget your own hand? He may have found out the secret to doing so! A forbidden secret!!
     He clears his throat, at last, as though that might allow him to reassert his usual tone of voice (it does not successfully do so).
     "I have sorely underestimated your emotional resilience in the face of a formative experience such as... this." He's starting to look away.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"...I'm not resilient at all," Lydia says quietly. "It was really hard and, t'be honest, I'm not sure I'm really recovered. Maybe the part of me that needs a relationship--maybe that's part of the problem. I've just thrown my heart at whomever I thought would catch it and I just believed super hard in it even if they warned me they weren't sure they could even do that."

She raises her head. "..." She looks square at Ethius while he's turning his head away.

And then she promptly gives Ethius a big hug. It's just a big ball of emotional honesty today and Lydia is all for it and, honestly, just knowing that Ethius cared to even check in on her--that does a lot. More than he might know. More than Lydia might know.

"So thanks for checking on me, Ethi." She says. "It really means a lot to me. I know I'm kinda prickly and hard to get along with but--" She pulls back. "--Well, thanks for bein' patient with me, usually-like. I'll try to check in on you too. It's only fair."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius receives a hug.
     It's happened several times, but each time, there's always been that one guarded element. That one instinctual, tensed reflex like a part of him is keenly aware of the mortal danger that he could be milliseconds away from succumbing to at a moment's notice. (Demonstrated aptly when OS did the nano-cloud around him and, perhaps unwittingly, turned his Symbological shield spell against him to great effect.)
     There is none of that, in that moment. It is a hug that is met with virtually zero resistance, to the expected amount of give Lydia might expect of someone made of flesh accepting a hug. His lungs deflate a bit to the sound of a quiet sigh, if never quite looking back in her direction through the duration of the hug.
     "...You have a right to be you, however... 'prickly,' as you describe it," he turns his head back somewhere in her direction but never quite that much further into the range of 'sideglance.' "I will... endeavor to be prepared for your periodic check-ups."
     Hopefully prepared to receive it, rather than deflect it with canned dialogue.