Jun 23, 2021 8:52 PM
esther and ivy meet the Stage
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"Why would our hallucinations match up so perfectly, then? And why would the hallucinations make so much sense ... except for the parts that don't, I guess."

"Also we weren't even asleep when it started or when it ended."

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"How sure are you that you weren't sleeping during class."

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"I dunno, 90 percent or something? I don't sleep during class, do you?"

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"That's a very personal question to ask." She rises, grabbing a towel from where it's hanging on the edge of an open cabinet door and a caddy of bath products. "Coming to the showers?"

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"Yeah!"

He grabs his stuff and as they walk, he realizes S hasn't said anything mean to him the entire conversation. That must be a new record.

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"So, why were you actually crying on the Stage? I didn't take you for the crying-in-front-of-other-people type, but I guess I was wrong."

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He stops dead in his tracks, and his face heats.

"Is it really any of your business?"

The words come out less sharp than he'd like them to.

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"Judging by your reaction, I'm going to go with yes." She has no intention of letting Zero get pushed around by some cryptic jackass.

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“Look, it was just stressful, okay? That arch fell over and it could have killed people and it was just luck that it didn’t, and then Nana was there and got all up in my space and I’m just frustrated, okay, and there’s the comms problem we’re having—“

He shoves his face back into his hands and makes an unintelligible noise.

”I don’t see what about any of that makes it your business.”

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"You understand that being frustrated doesn't help anything, right? You just look weak."

She snorts, and adds: "And that reflects on me, since I'm responsible for you."

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"... Do you just think I'm stupid? No, being frustrated doesn't help anything, I'm sorry I don't have perfect control of my emotions, also what's this about you being responsible for me? If you want to be responsible for me I'd prefer that you were nicer about it."

How does S know where every single one of his buttons are.

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"You're not being, you know,  particularly smart about this.  Apology accepted for your imperfect emotional regulation though, just, get better at it. I'm responsible for you because you're my roommate, duh." She's not waiting for him on the way to the showers.

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He has possibly never been more uselessly annoyed in his life. S's refusal to ever give, even slightly is -- it's not unfamiliar but nothing annoys him more. He follows, but slowly, hands twisting in his towel and teeth worrying his lip. He will get S acknowledge him as an equal.

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She's never going to see him as an equal unless he does something drastic.

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He’s thinking again about Nana’s words — 6 o’clock. Is it 6 o’clock yet? It can’t be. He can’t talk to S about this, but conveniently, he’s not in a talking-to-S mood at the moment.

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It is. She's waiting.

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Shit, it is. S isn’t looking at him. He can find Storeroom C and if S asks about where he’s gone he can say he forgot something in their room and got lost, or something.

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When Zero finds the storeroom, Nana is standing beneath the bare bulb illuminating a (much smaller) tower prop. She's looking up at the stars, her face in shadow, expression hidden. The bulb flickers and now she's facing the doorway, features still hidden.

"Close the door."

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He closes the door behind him, keeping his back to it so he can keep his eyes on Nana.

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"We should talk about the Stage. What, exactly, do you know? As much detail as possible, please!"

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“I know... not much? I’ve been there a couple times, through mysterious and unclear circumstances both times, and done a bunch of miscellaneous backstage work all the times. Why do you need to know? I can probably give more specifics if you know exactly what you want to know.”

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"It's very, very important to me that you don't mess up the performance. I've worked really hard to get everything and everybody lined up perfectly to make sure the Revue goes off without a hitch! There are a bunch of new people at the school this year, you among them, but I'm not that worried about you. You're trying your best, and I'm sure you'll figure things out with time and my help. I'm mostly concerned about your roommate. No offense, but she really seems like a piece of work! She seems tempted to try and pull a Karen, honestly!"

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“A ... Karen? I can see why you’re worried about S, she’s ... got some stuff to work on, but I think we’ll pull through okay. Why did you need to bring me here to tell me that?”

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There's a glint in her eye as she speaks. "I really don't want to deal with managing her delusions of grandeur, I need her to just play along and do her job backstage. I think you can help me. You want the show to go on, don't you?"

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“... I do. The show must go on, right. What kind of help were you thinking of?”

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