Existential Crisis


chess_icon.gif lynette3_icon.gif

Scene Title Existential Crisis
Synopsis Insomnia loves company.
Date 05/05/18

Benchmark: Common Room

It’s late — past midnight — and most of the Benchmark’s residents, both patient and otherwise, are likely asleep, or at least tucked in their beds and hoping for sleep to come. Chess never seems to be in a bed — the few times anyone’s seen her asleep in the safehouse, it’s been in a chair in an uncomfortable position.

Tonight, she’s not sleeping, but sitting cross-legged on a chair in the common room, reading one of the philosophy books that appeared, magically, after the few comments on philosophy from the reluctant resident. A little notebook rests on the armchair, a pen on top of scrawled writing:

”From the idea that the self is not given to us, I think there is only one practical consequence: we have to create ourselves as a work of art.” ~Foucault.

It doesn’t look like the young woman is enjoying herself — confusion etches lines on her face and she appears more like a student being forced to read, rather than someone reading for enjoyment.

Unfortunately, Chess isn't the only one around here with a poor sleep routine. Lynette comes into the room, a flowery, silk robe giving away that she did try to get some sleep. But seeing as she's here, it seems it was less than successful. At first, she tries not to disturb Chess, seeing as she seems involved. It isn't until she notices that it isn't excitement on her face.

"That bad, is it?"

Lynette crosses over, picking a chair of her own to sit in and letting out a heavy sigh as she does. Coffee was her intention, but it seems to have been abandoned in favor of company. "If you're looking for one dry enough to put you to sleep, I have a few recommendations," she adds, dryly.

Chess jumps, just a little, then lets out a soft, breathy laugh at herself for doing so, shaking her head in apology — after all, it’s she who’s in Lynette’s space, and not the other way around.

She sets the book down. “No, it’s good. I’m just not sure I’m smart enough to get it. It’s…” she glances at the book, then back up at Lynette as the woman settles in the other chair. “Philosophy isn’t my thing, not exactly. I mean, I read it. But I don’t always get it.” She hurries to add, “But thank you for getting the books.” She definitely noticed the addition of the philosophical titles in the room.

“How are you?” she asks. It’s a rare thing, for her to initiate more conversation.

"Sorry," Lynette says with a light chuckle, "I didn't meant to scare you." The apology isn't needed, apparently.

A glance goes to the book, but it's brief. Lynette's attention moves back to Chess as she speaks again. "Of course you're smart enough," she says, as if this part is a given. "It isn't your thing, but you study it anyway. If you're looking for answers, I'm afraid philosophers will only give you more questions to ask." At the thanks, she shakes her head a little. "Already had them, just moved them in here. Philosophy isn't my thing, either. But I still read them," she says with a crooked smile.

Lynette tilts her head at the question, as if needing to consider it for a moment before answering. "Stressed out, but that's fairly normal. And you? Aside from not being able to sleep, of course."

“I’m not really. Looking for answers,” Chess says with a shrug, despite the little notes on her notepad. “Philosophy was someone else’s thing. I read it to feel close to them.” The words are uncharacteristically soft, a little shy.

The past tense is all too apparent.

“How’s Mateo doing? If there’s anything I can do to help…” she trails off. It isn’t a hollow offer, but she’s in hiding herself — more or less. She comes and goes, in dark clothes and hoods, always under the cover of darkness to try to keep herself from being tailed.

"I understand that," Lynette says, the past tense bringing a more sympathetic expression to her face. She doesn't press on the details, though. She only nods toward the notes. "Finding something interesting in there, despite yourself?"

The grief, she lets Chess share or not, as she cares to.

"He's restless. Frustrated. But getting better. If I can keep him from trying to cartwheel down the halls or whatever." Not that he has done that, but plenty of sneaking around to do more than he should be. Which is just as bad, apparently, in her books. "He'd probably appreciate a distraction. Entertainment. Before he really loses it. He keeps calling me Warden." The last is offered with a sense of incredulousness. As if there were no reason for him to think of her that way.

Chess glances down at the notes and breathes out a small laugh of sorts.

“Just, you know, grappling with my existential crisis. Foucault talks about self a lot. I guess I’m doubting mine, my identity and all, so it speaks to me.” She lifts a shoulder.

“It’s hard, staying still,” she adds, sympathy in her voice for Mateo. “You know.”

Because while Lynette hasn’t told her about her past, there are elements of it that are public knowledge — and while Chess might not seem like the type to keep up on the tribunals and recent history, she apparently knows a few things.

“I can visit him,” she adds. “I don’t know how entertaining I am.” There’s a wry smile at that.

"He is good for that. And also tearing down the institutions of modern society, but that may be less useful to your situation." Although, it might explain why his work is in Lynette's collection. Being a former terrorist and all. "When it comes to an existential crisis, I suggest focusing on what you know. Certainties. Something to remind you that you're real, whatever the world might want to convince you of."

The sympathy gets a smile, though, and she nods because she does know.. "And when it's my turn, I'm sure he'll have fun flipping the tables around. I'm a terrible patient. Much worse than he is."

Lynette chuckles lightly at those last words. "Read the Borges. He'll find your thoughts on his work extremely entertaining."

“Been thinking about getting a tattoo,” muses Chess, when Lynette talks about reminding her that she’s real. “Something people would be able to check to make sure I’m really me.”

She rubs her wrist, the same spot that Alix has that IX. “I’ve been thinking about the others — not the ones like Alix but the ones like me. If they’re in danger too. If any of them are still alive.”

The mention to Borges makes her glance at the bookshelf. “I remember reading a story of his in high school. The Book of Sand. It was pretty interesting, but not sure if I have the patience for a lot of that,” she admits. “He’s a bit of a mind fuck.”

"Sort of a painful way to handle that particular challenge, but probably better than a secret word or some such." Lynette smirks a little, there, but it's shortlived as she glances to Chess' wrist and then back to her face. "We could try to find them, see if we can pinpoint them and if they are in trouble. Or if they're going to be trouble. Probably best to know, either way, and perhaps warn them if they're not a part of all this yet."

A strange conversation to have, but perhaps after a few tries they'll figure out a good way to break the news.

"Oh," Lynette says with a laugh, "He would probably be entertained by that particular opinion, too. He did have a strange mind on him. They say it's better to read an author in their original language, but I can promise you it doesn't make Borges any less odd."

“Yeah, I have some thoughts on that,” Chess says, regarding finding her clones — if they still exist. If they ever existed — but she believes it, despite it seeming impossible. Science Fiction.

“It’d take the help of someone in government and…” she shrugs a shoulder, glancing to the door. “I’m not quite ready to go that route yet, and I’m pretty sure Alix will kill me if I do.”

The discussion of reading Borges gets a nod. “I’ve forgotten my two years of high school Spanish so I’ll take your word for it,” Chess says, setting the book she’d been reading on the coffee table, apparently done with it for the time being. “All I remember is how to ask where the bathroom is and how to ask for a beer with lime.” That’s probably an exaggeration, but not by much.

"I know some people in the government," Lynette points out. She pauses, head tilting, then adds, "A couple I even trust. Not that trust is transitive, but if you decide to go that route, I can recommend a name or two."

How Alix might feel about it is put off for the moment. Not because she doesn't care, but because Chess gets to decide how to handle her own lookalikes, at the very least. Probably, if it comes up, she'll let Alix have her say for her own.

"Those are both extremely useful phrases to know," she says with a smirk, "more so than remembering how to ask where the library is." A beat passes and she adds, "Only half useful around here, I suppose."

The offer is met with a nod and Chess is quiet for a moment, eyes falling away and to the side — thinking, it seems, and probably about the benefits and downfalls of how that plan may play out. “Thanks,” is all she says, after a moment. She’s not ready for that option — and the proverbial can of worms it would involve.

She huffs that short, sardonic laugh of hers at the quip Lynette makes, and nods. “I forget where I am sometimes. About asked you if you wanted to have one with me.” She pauses. “A beer, not a library.” She smiles, and rises to her feet, reaching for the bag to pull over her shoulder, and then the journal to tuck into the bag.

“I’ll visit Mateo and let him be entertained by my lack of understanding Borges, maybe tomorrow,” she says with a small smile. “I hope you get some rest, too.”

"The answer to both is always yes," Lynette says, her tone dry. There's no offense taken that she sometimes forgets; this floor isn't particularly dedicated to the same thing the lower floors are. And Chess has had something distracting on her mind.

"Thank you. It helps," she says. Visits. Distraction. "I suspect I'll get some eventually. Probably the same time you will." Which is to say, not much and not anytime soon. But, she's used to it now. As she suspects Chess is, too.

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