|Isobel Brandt \\ Persephone (praxidike) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-09-26 07:56:00
|Entry tags:||charon, persephone|
after all that, we are strangers again
Who: Carver & Isobel.
What: An amnesiac Isobel runs into Carver at the pool.
Where: Pax Letale pool.
When: Backdated to Aug. 28.
Isobel stretched out on one of the provided pool lounge chairs, her towel carefully separating her skin from any potential mishaps with the wicker surface. A green bikini exposed much of her to the late morning's warm sunshine; sunglasses shielded her face, and a book in hand provided much-needed easy entertainment from everything else that was going on.
Others that might have found herself in her position could have chided her for taking a 'break', but Isobel felt she deserved it. Nothing was going to get solved because she was running around wearing herself out, and, if anything, it sounded like too much stress had been the cause of her problems to begin with. So, instead, she focused on nothing at all, letting the words on the page before her swallow her up until she was completely unaware of anyone else who might have entered the scene right then.
And so she missed Carver’s groggy, yawning entrance. Jet-lagged to hell and bleary eyed, he hoped half-heartedly that the cool water would wake him up enough to stay awake until evening and re-adjust his schedule. But sleepiness led to clumsiness, which led to an overenthusiastic entrance into the water--he would have said he tripped, but a bystander may have argued this, especially given his softly uttered, “Cannonball!”
Splashing water heralded his appearance more than his words, and Isobel yelped as she snatched her legs back, curling herself into a ball at the head of her seat. She pulled off her glasses, glaring somewhat unhappily at the man who'd interrupted her otherwise quiet morning. While she didn't necessarily have ownership of the pool, she didn't see why the man couldn't have been a little more polite about his entrance.
Folding her legs into a sitting position, she glanced back down at her book, double checking to make sure that it hadn't been damaged, and then set about readjusting her towel, all the while glancing at the bobbing water for the man's reappearance. When he did, she had no idea what she'd do; if anything, she merely wanted to be prepared more than she had been a few moments prior.
Carver heard Isobel’s yelp just as the water closed over his head. He had, in his sleepiness, thought himself alone, and amusement mixed with chagrin as he did a barrel roll in the water before surfacing. He covered his faint embarrassment with a grin as he kicked over to the side of the pool nearest her chair.
“Mornin', ‘Bell,” he said, a little alarmed at the faint, weary slur of his words, but hiding it by grinning wider. “Thought you looked like you wanted a little shower to wake you up.”
The familiarity was unexpected, but the friendliness offset some of her irritation at being splashed without permission. She sighed, forcing a smile on her face in return.
"Pretty sure I was already awake. I guess the sunglasses fooled you?" She plucked them up from their spot on her towel, waggling them in his direction. Now if there was only a surefire way to short-circuit all these seemingly first time meetings without looking and feeling like a complete idiot... Part of her thought she only had herself to blame, considering the fact that she'd come out here by herself. But she was a big girl, and she'd figured this out so far.
"Looks like it worked wonders on you, though. Having problems sleeping?" The question made her think of Obed, but with the way things were in the apartment, it wouldn't be surprising to find others were having their rest disturbed.
In answer, he yawned broadly, stretching like a big cat before he hooked his elbows along the side of the pool. “On Korean time, I’m afraid. Trying to reset.” He shook his head, again evoking a lionlike image as water spattered from his shaggy yellow hair. “Glad it looks like it’s working more than it feels like it’s working.” A thought fled through him that he hid from both expression and spoken word: you’re tired a lot, lately, aintcha? Could be the old cancer... Sternly, he reminded himself that the doctors had found nothing. Just stress, they said: those funny episodes with Chris, the daytime dreams since.
Dog-earing the page of her book to mark her spot, Isobel nodded, wondering what in the world he'd be doing in Korea.
"Oh? What was out there?" At least the conversation was relaxed; she hoped she could eke a few pieces of information out of him, enough to string something together. At least she wasn't wandering the halls like she had been before, completely uncertain of where she was or how she'd come to be there.
“Oh you know. The boss still has a bee in his bonnet about penetrating the Asian market. Surprised he never talked your ear off about it--ah.” He stopped, looking faintly abashed, water dripping into his eyes. “Sorry, he probably isn’t your favorite subject, unless--” He shrugged, pushing back from the pool side, paddling absently as he drifted gently back. “I haven’t had a chance to catch up with things yet.”
"The...boss?" Isobel had a hard time believing her social circle had become as large as it apparently had, considering how difficult such things had been back in Texas. One hand reached forward, plucking absentmindedly at her towel as she turned her full attention on Carver. She'd never had a head for lying, so her timid steps forward in this conversation were baldly hesitant. "Things have been really, uh, strange around here lately, but I gather that's the general way of things for people living here..."
“The boss, Obed, your ex…?” Carver stilled in the water, cocking his head curiously. “You all right? You seem, I dunno. Distracted. Or… we back to hating each other?”
Isobel just barely managed to keep from visibly gritting her teeth at her mistake. Out of everyone she'd run into, though, she'd lasted a little longer before completely outing herself. She shook her head, her worried gaze pulling her brows together across her forehead.
"I, uh..." She shook her head. "I definitely don't hate you, because I don't even know you, but clearly you know me..." It was never going to stop being awkward, having people re-introduce themselves. "I had an accident, I guess, and... This is going to sound incredibly weird so please don't laugh but... I can't remember anything from however long I've been living here." She unconsciously winced, waiting for his reaction.
He stared at her a long moment. “You’re not fucking with me, right?” He tread water, the splashing of it the only sound for some long heartbeats. “‘Cause, I can take a joke, but--” He stopped, not willing to let the words I’m already losing my mind enough without others fucking with reality for me pass his lips. “--But I’m jetlagged and my sense of humor has gone to shit.”
She shook her head again. "No, not...messing with you," she replied, running a hand back through her hair as she resituated herself on her towel. "I know Obed, I know about... some of the things that happened. So... who are you? Again? And why..." She stopped herself from the barrage of questions already hitting the back of her throat. "Do you want to come sit, up here, and we could talk? Or I can leave you alone, if you came out here to swim. I know this is weird." She sighed. "It never stops being weird," she murmured, more to herself than to him.
The soft aside seemed to convince him, because he nodded, silently, and then pulled himself up out of the water. Water plashed to tile and brick as he stood, dripping, wiping back his damp hair. “Guess not,” he said. “Anyway, I’m Ray Carver. I work for Obed. You….” He sat down on the pool chair nearest her. “What happened? Hit your head or something?”
And Carver being Carver... She could hear Obed's voice in her mind, wondering just what he'd meant in that moment.
"No, at least... I don't think so. I just... I woke up in an apartment on the first floor about two months ago, and it's just been piecing things back together as much as I can. Obed wanted me to see a doctor, but I..." She shrugged, unable to explain why she was so put off by the idea. And if some memory loss was the worst of her injuries, what would be the point? She raked teeth over her lower lip, leaning forward slightly with her hands in her lap.
"So, why am I supposed to hate you?" Her eyes narrowed a little, curious; her voice was cautious, spelling out each word after careful analysis. "Obed did say that... you didn't exactly help things?"
Carver chuckled, leaning elbows on his knees and shaking his head. “Hey. It takes two to tango. Or three. Not like he was helping, either. Just sitting back and watching the shit fly.” He cocked an eyebrow as he looked up at Isobel, his eyes bright. “There was a dinner party, and I asked a bunch of questions you didn’t like, and had some concerns you felt were unjustified, and so we started off butting heads. I’m sure you had reasons--I think you told me some of ‘em later--but we didn’t exactly walk away best friends like Obed was hoping. Though, if you two are back together. I guess some of my concerns stand.” He sat up slightly, briefly wondering if this could be, as he feared originally, more maneuvering to cement her hold on Obed; but he decided to bank this concern for now, just be watchful.
"We're not," she replied. "I don't know what we are, right now. I know what we were, but..." She closed her eyes briefly, one hand coming up to rub the space between her brows before brushing her hair back again over the top of her head. When her eyes opened again, they were fixed levelly on Carver's. "Whatever your concerns were, I guess don't worry about it. I've had a hundred other things to worry about, between apparently having a stalker, a business I owned being burned to the ground, and now not even remembering the last few months of my life." She laughed, dryly. "A relationship is honestly the last thing on my mind right now.
"But Obed's been helpful, really helpful. He..." Isobel paused, unsure how much to explain, or if she should even begin to unpack the whole situation where she'd transformed and Obed explained that this other personality, Persephone, had told him that she was the cause of Isobel's memory lapse. "He wants me to remember," she finished, a little lamely, the gap in her words pointing out her hesitation.
Carver had the good grace to look slightly embarrassed to have added to the weight on her mind. “‘Course he does. The boss is a good man. A really good man.” He nodded solemnly. “So you-- you just passed out? No funny episodes or anything beforehand? Like--” He paused. “Moments lost or anything. Saying things you don’t remember.”
One brow arched, then the pair pulled together across her forehead as she tried to think back to the experience. Isobel shook her head.
"No," she replied, slowly. "It really was just... It was like I went to bed and then, when I woke up, I just couldn't remember anything. Everyone's been wondering if I hit my head or something, but I wasn't hurt, I just..." She shrugged. "Just nothing up here," she finished, reaching up with a hand to tap the side of her head. Worried eyes focused back on Carver for a moment, her brow knitting once more. "That's...very specific, though. Did something happen to you, or someone you know?"
Carver hesitated, and was unable to cover up his hesitation; that left them with an even more awkward pause as he struggled between telling a now-obvious lie, or just spilling the truth to a not-quite-friend before he’d even told Obed. “Well, doc says it’s just being under so much pressure, and all that jet lag doesn’t help either--” he’d blurted, before he even really realized he’d spoken.
Isobel reached out with a tentative hand, brushing the top of Carver's with her fingertips; sympathy for what was clearly bothering him forced the movement before she was even conscious of it. "You know, you're not the only one weird things are happening to, here." She paused, drawing in a slow breath. "Beside the memory loss, I... other things have happened to me, and to other people I know. Knew." She shook her head, withdrawing her touch as she tried to find the right phrasing. "People I still know. Alice. Rafe. Obed..."
She frowned, moreso at the idea of their loss of control than at him. "It must be something about this building, this place." She stopped, wondering if he even wanted to continue down this path. "I just want you to know, you're not alone."
He perked up slightly. “That would make sense. That weird rollerskates chick said a lot of weird shit has been going on here. Maybe there’s, I dunno, something wrong with the air filtration in the building or something. CO2 issues. We oughtta talk to management. Get an inspection done. Something could be making everyone sick.”
She nodded in partial agreement of his suggestion. "It's worth a shot, though... If this has been going on for as long as it seems like, don't you think they'd have done something about that already? At least... you'd think people would have complained.
"Still, it’s worth asking," she added, not wanting to completely dampen the upward slide of his mood. She withheld for a moment, then asked. "This is probably rude, but...what happened?"
“Wasn’t anything big,” Carver said, defensively, sitting up straighter. “Just was having a little conversation and -- I dunno. Guess I had some kind of episode. Said some things I can’t remember. Guy I was talking to got all out of sorts, but honestly, when he told me what I said, didn’t make any sense to me either. I--” Suddenly he flushed slightly. “Anyway I had it checked out, but there isn’t anything wrong with me, just stress, like I said. Hadn’t slept too well and it can mess with you.” He shrugged, like he could shrug off all the questions she could ask or the questions he himself still had.
Isobel nodded, letting go of any further inquiry. It was enough to hear he was having his own memory problems. Knowing that he'd gotten a medical assessment to no avail also helped assuage any guilt she held over refusing to go to the doctor's office herself; clearly there was little help to be found there, even if their situations were different.
"It definitely can. Obed's been having a lot of problems with sleep, too. And me with my memory... This place does a number on you, I guess." She paused, and changed the subject of their conversation slightly. Shifting in place, her hands nipped at the edge of her book, raking through the pages like a deck of cards. "Are you... have you had any weird dreams? Just. I'm sure you've heard other people in the building are dealing with the same thing."
Carver nodded. His gaze grew distant as he glanced at something far behind Isobel. “Some really fucked up dreams for sure. There’s this river… water so black you think you ought to see the light of stars in it. Or maybe it ate the stars. Only it’s thick as blood -- maybe it is blood -- and I’m sailing through it in this shitty little raft. Nah, not sailing. Uh. Pole-ing?” He laughed, returning to her, shaking his head. “You been having ‘em too?”
Isobel's eyes widened at his description; it sounded like he was quoting from a book. It was familiar, in an echo-y kind of way; like sound bouncing off of stone from a long ways off, not something meant for her ears. She could not entirely place the memory, but neither could she shake it entirely from her mind. At first she nodded, and then quickly replaced the action with a shake.
"Not having," she amended verbally. "Had, I guess. So I've been told. I... This is going to sound weird, again, but I guess people have been dreaming about gods?" She scrunched her nose a little, her mouth drawing up into a moue. "Alice told me I had dreams about Persephone. The Greek goddess of spring? She said she was having dreams about a Shinto goddess. And there are others. Does that... Does that at all feel like what you're dreaming about? The... the river?"
“Gods…?” Carver’s voice trailed off; he shuddered, suddenly feeling the chill of the air on his damp skin, a chill not even the sun could get rid of. Something in his mind turned harshly away from whatever Isobel’s words had evoked, refusing to see. “Nah,” he said, too quickly, too firmly. “Nothing like that.” He laughed, rising too quickly too his feet. The sunlight dizzied him. “Just a river. And a journey. I knew the way. I always know just where they need to go.” He shook his head, unsure why he'd said what he'd said. “Sorry. Maybe I oughta get inside. Think I should just give in and crash a while.” He grabbed up his towel, then paused. “But it was nice talking with you. I hope the … uh, memory, gets better.”
Isobel nodded, following his movements with a disappointment she could not completely dispel.
"Thanks," she said, her hands reaching for her book once more. "I hope I'll see you again soon. And that... well, just that things start making more sense. Have a good day." She smiled, not at all feigned, and watched him go for a moment before she turned her attention back to her book. Isobel found herself struggling to focus, her eyes instead drifting up and settling on the gently moving water of the pool, somehow picturing instead a river that was dark and deep and full...of souls.