The Muse


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Scene Title The Muse
Synopsis Each of the Arts whose office is to refine, purify, adorn, embellish and grace life is under the patronage of a Muse, no god being found worthy to preside over them. — Eliza Farnham
Date January 9, 2011

Greenwich VillageOld Lucy's

Music. A primal artform, the most meaningful expressions of which stem from the exposition of one's soul, of one's emotion. What then does it say about one whose emotions are so afflicted as to be primarily non-existant, when that one is a musician? What happens to that musician's craft?

It suffers.

It suffers greatly. And not in the woe is me, time to write heart-rending ballads of depression and angst sort of suffering — which has a tendency to be appreciated by certain individuals — but the same old dreck one hears on the radio sort. In a word, it becomes heartless muscle memory, an evanescent memory of greater times, times when emotions ran like a raging river, an endless cascade of emotion pouring forth from the soul into the music, bringing about tranquility for others and pleasure for the one playing the music.

Such as it is, Aaron Michaels finds himself seeking himself a new habit to reconnect him with the old one, the one that brought him endless joy until his life was turned upside down by his discovering he was one of the many genetic aberrations of the world — the so-called evolved. Hardly a day goes by when he doesn't think about how his life was prior to all of that, prior to the Bomb, even. Life was simple. It had a very good beginning and was shaping up to have a fine middle. It had direction, something he lost along the way through months of vagrancy after the massive explosion that rocked Midtown in 2006.

He's made his way to Greenwich Village, a place he has not visited in a great length of time. Such a great time that life has once again passed him by. In all of his self-inflicted madness, tragedy has struck that he went entirely unaware of. So he stands in front of the remains of his former place of employment. Old Lucy's, not little more than a pile of rubble. He had thought to go inside, feed on the emotions of the people so that he may feel just a little bit more human. Now, he is almost certain he's better off not feeling.

While some people may be in woe, others have found their passion, their delight, their life. Everything about Samara is excitement, delight, and upbeat enthusiasm. Having safely made it off Staten Island, her joy bubbles through every motion. Every skip. Every bounce. Her brilliant smile, the bounce in her step, and the brightness in her eyes reflects with every subtle motion she makes.

Ironically, while she'd been upbeat and bright before, no one ever reacted to that incredible optimism. No one could see her. No one could catch her smile aside from the occasional ghostly reflection. Now? Now people smile back. They make eye contact. They return her joy and all around good feelings.

With her hands safely tucked away in the large pocket of her black hoodie, Sami finds herself roaming Greenwich Village, enjoying a little down time of quiet. She's being 'safe,' doing her best to avoid any checkpoints, but that is just the way it goes.

Her eyes catch Aaron's form and recognition strikes as she passes old Lucy's, stopping as her eyes fall on them. Her cheeks flush slightly, recalling the first time she met the musician and the situation she found him in. And the countless games of chess the pair had played. With her as nothing more than an apparition. "H-hi…" the word is light, but a little cautious. ALmost believing herself forgotten after so much time apart.

Well, there were some who could see it. Only it appeared as something entirely different. At least, such was the case with Aaron. There was something there, definitely. He was certain of it — hoped for it. And yet nothing. Just an apparition. Or at least, that's what he thought.

The voice goes unnoticed at first, an echo in his head. Just another evanescent memory, certain to fade away into the dark recesses of his mind. It's not a voice he recognizes, certainly it's not somebody addressing him. That would be silly. Who walks up to a perfect stranger and says hello? People have died for less.

But then, he's not exactly a stranger. Or wasn't always. People knew his name at some point. Fans, and the like. Not that he was ever particularly fond of any particular fan, save his beloved. Dead beloved.

His eyes drift from the rubble that was Old Lucy's onto the figure standing near him. Recognition does not initially light his features — if his features can be considered lit. Moreso, his features seem resting, entirely without any particular emotional slant. So it is with a perfectly even tone that he finally does say something when recognition dawns upon him.

"I was beginning to think that you had crossed over. I guess I was wrong." He inclines his head to look at her fully, his eyes appraising her for a moment. "You're certainly bubbly today, Samara."

The little bit of recognition only streams her delight more. Sami twirls in a tight circle as she throws her hands up in the air. "Didn't cross over, but I'm more alive than I've been in years! I mean, seriously Aaron, the whole world can see me!" she beams at him before doing a little bounce on the balls of her feet. "And why no be bubbly? Things may be hard, but they're just as hard as I make them!" Again she does a little bounce on the balls of her feet.

Her lips press together into a thin line for a moment before they twitch upwards again with quiet merriment never quiet spoken. She reaches out to squeeze his shoulder, touch a simple luxury she'd lived so long without. There's another sparkle in her eyes that extends upward along with a slightly softened smile. "And why are you delighted? There might be a lot of cruelty and upset, but I can react well to it."

"Not much to delight in," Aaron remarks, his gaze returning to the remains. He raises his hands towards them. "I used to work here. Didn't even know it went up in smoke." Bright sapphires stare at Samara with a coldness she has likely never seen from him. "Once again life has passed me by, and yet I find myself wondering what it is like to be alive once again after being 'dead,'" he quotes the word dead, "for so long."

There's very little to his voice to make it seem as though he's in any way upset over the matter of his former place of employment being reduced to ash, but he's equally unphased by Samara's sudden appearance, alive and well.

Sami sniffs at the building, her smile faltering some, "I'm sorry you lost it. Loss… is hard." There's no denying that, and the auburn haired woman isn't going to deny the gravity of the situation, "It sucks." Her right shoulder shrugs as she hmmms, "But there's a choice in that loss. Like… you can be angry or upset. Or hurt. Or sad, ooooooooor look for things to delight you."

Her eyebrows quirk up, "Look. Like two months ago I couldn't even talk to you. Like almost no one could hear me. Not have a voice? Or an easy means to live by? It's criminal. It is. But now? Well… I choose delight. I choose to count my blessings and remember everything important to me. Like my family. And friends who I have. And my voice. My ability to dance. Clinging to things that… inspire me." Her head tilts slightly, "You just need to find your muse."

"My muse." Aaron chuckles, though it's forced. "My muse." The word dances on his lips for a moment as he reaches out to touch Samara's hair, inching ever so close. "My muse is a fickle friend of pain or pleasure, delight or torment. It allows me to become anything more than this otherwise lifeless shell that I am right now, but … there is always a catch. For me to feel, I must devour. So you have to ask yourself, is it right of me to devour the thing that makes you, you, just so that I may feel once again?"

His touch brings cold not of bodily sensation but of emotion. Cold, dark, lifelessness. Bits and pieces of the bubbly emotions dwindle down into nothing, leaving behind only vestiges of their greatness and allowing the inner darkness to take greater hold. But he cuts off the flow, leaving behind good emotion still. Clearly, he has no desire to take it all, though from the lustful look in his eyes, it might seem like he'd be more than thrilled to have it all. To take it all. To devour her emotions whole.

"So, should I find my muse?"

The forced chuckle sprouts a vague skepticism from Sam. Her mouth opens to object against the darkness the muse would bring, surely it couldn't be that bad, but the dulling of her own emotions actually sparks an odd anxiety, not overly so, just enough. Enough worry to bring a frown. Her hands, which had formerly been in her pockets fall to her side as she watches Aaron, her lips parting slightly with some unspoken thought that never touches them.

"H-h-ho-how?" she stutters, the reduction of her joy nearly crippling underneath her words. Just enough. "Y-y-y-you n-n-eed a new muse." She swallows hard as her hazel eyes dull slightly, gaze turning downwards as her entire body language falls. The enthusiasm drains from her face, even creating paleness around its sedges. The images from both versions of November 8th ingrain in her memory rather than those things she'd clung to for comfort.

"No shit."

One of the downfalls of emotions: Regret. "God dammit," Aaron curses at himself. The fact that her happy emotions didn't bring about happy emotions in him hasn't been lost on him. An interesting, if flawed experiment. "This is another reason I threw myself in the nuthouse. I thought all this shit was over. Hell, I thought it was the meds at first, but after how blind I had let myself become, I swore I'd keep an open mind and pay more attention, and this is what I came up with. I need emotion to feel emotion."

He reaches a hand out to her, not that he expects her to take it. "I can't put it back but I can take away the bad emotions. It's one of the reasons I told you that you probably weren't dead way back when. I could see your pain in the air. It was fuzzy, but it was where you were supposed to be. It was so strange …" He flexes his fingers, beckoning for her to place a hand in his.

Hazel eyes cut upwards to try meeting Aaron's sapphire ones. Sami forces a smile, an exercise in futility that collapses underneath her stir. A glance is given the hand, more skeptical than anything earlier, the absence of her positivity reducing her level of trust and knowledge of goodwill towards others. Her chattiness has dissipated, a first since she came back to life. Swallowing hard her eyes track back to the hand.

"Where does it go?" she finally asks, refusing to actually take it. "No one should take anyone else's pain." There's a dullness to her voice, wary in its tone and reflection. "It makes us… know when we're happy and when we have something to be happy about."

"I've been doing it for years, but only pain. I've only been able to take happy emotions for a short while. I inderstand it's a curious experience, particularly removing emotional pain. People know they should be pained, but they aren't. Some fight the euphoria with logic, so ingrained was their pain upon their conscious mind that they are unwilling to accept that for a short time they can be happy and without their burdens. Others just ride the wave of euphoria like a drug, losing all inhibitions and essentially becoming completely blitzed.

"Still … others have grown tired of its effects, myself included. Of course, it doesn't work on me the same way it works on others, but suffice it to say, I am never really pleased with how it affects me." Once again, his hand stirs. "Please. At least let me balance things out a bit. You'll feel like shit for a day if you don't."

A single step is taken away from the offered hand. Suspicious at the offer, Sam lies, with monotoned words, "I feel fine." She swallows hard and again tries to force that grin, but it's a humourless farce, a mockery to smiles, joy, and hope, even if it goes through the motions of a smile, there's not mirth here. The world is empty at this moment.

Her teeth graze her bottom lip, "I'm still joyful," the blandness in her voice to the contrary. "Happiness and joy aren't the same thing. Everything… I have every reason to be happy," she reasons. "A brother, a sister, two parents, a best friend better than a sister, a man who loves me…" Nodding a little the logic of how she should feel only makes sense, "Happy just has no elation." There's a metallic quality to the words, empty in a way. "Where do the bad feelings go?" she repeats.

Man who loves her … That sort of stuff always stings Aaron the Single.

"Into the aether? How the fuck should I know? I'm not a scientist or a psychic or anything. They disappear. They leave for a day or two and then come back, just like the good ones do, I suspect." Aaron says, though he wags a finger at his new sort-of-friend. "And really, I can see your emotions swirling around in you like paint. You're not joyful. You're desaturated. And even if I couldn't, you're a horrible actor. Seriously."

He places the hand he was offering on his chest. "Honestly, you can see that even good emotions don't necessarily have a good affect on me, how bad could bad emotions possibly get? They make the withdrawal go away, at any rate. When I get it, anyway. That seems so long ago now. Haven't had so much as a headache in months."

Her lips twitch a little with a vague nod. "So you don't like.. absorb them?" compassionate even in her negative state, Sam wouldn't relent her negativity to weigh on someone else. "There's no reason for you to be hurting because of me." She smiles ruefully, broken even, a crooked alignment to each contour of her face. Even if Aaron is the cause she doesn't want someone else to feel her pain. It's hers.

With a quiet inhalation of breath she lowers her hand. If the offer stands, she'll take the hand. "Withdrawal? Like an addiction?" Her eyes narrow greatly.

"I hurt because of everyone, why should you be any different? Not to say people do things specifically to hurt me, it just turns out that way so frequently what does it really matter?" He reaches his hand out again. "At this point I'm used to it. No, I won't feel your pain, if that's what you're worried about. I've certainly lived through enough to put things into perspective anyway.

"But it's the times I've tried to not consume people's emotions that have been the hardest. Headaches, insomnia, tremors. Hallucinations. My ability has been quite thorough in making sure I can't enjoy peace. Now that I don't seem to need to feed so frequently, I find myself losing my ability to feel. I can't say I always miss it. Once it's all faded, I certainly don't, but I start to miss it when it's still there."

He laughs. "But what peace? Peace doesn't seem to exist in this world any longer. All for the better I shouldn't feel it, I suppose. Only problem is that my music comes from my emotion. My best talent has to stem from emotion, the one thing I could probably live without."

"Because I try to hurt no one, that's why I should be different. Because I believe people are decent and good and should live within that if they can," Sami quips quietly, her eyes seeking his. "Absorbing negativity like a leech, feeding off it and having only that, it… it isn't fair. It wouldn't be fair. And who are you to say that your pain is worse than mine?"

Her thick lashes flutter fiercely as she sniffs again, "There is always peace. If you want it. Like… internally. I think. A person can choose to be at peace when everything else is wrong. You know? LIke maybe that's what you have when you have to emotion. Actual peace. Neither happy or sad. Nothing to spike anything…"

"Never did. Hell, you thought you were dead for four years, who am I to argue?" He turns his hand over, wait for her to take his hand. He won't touch her without consent again. "Peace without emotion I could probably stand. Peace without music … I suppose without emotion to make me miss it wouldn't be so bad, it's the whole having to find something else I'm good at that's a problem. I've made most of my money with music, but I certainly can't compose without emotion, and I can't play without it nearly as well as I can with. So … that makes things complicated."

The notion actually makes Sami hmmm to herself quietly, "That I can actually understand. I'm a dancer. Without feeling, without emotion it would be.." her eyebrows tick up, "dead. Empty. I'm not sure I could move at all. The mechanics would be there but the drive— that which makes me connect to the music would be gone."

She glances at his hand and actually closes her hand before touching it, inhaling a deep breath before completing the motion. She actually gives it a squeeze, a force of habit as she holds her breath, nearly expecting the dispersion of her negative feelings to hurt like some kind of emotion-ectomy.

Aaron only takes a little bit, to balance things out. He only took some of her positive emotions, but a little emotion goes a long way. Certainly, her emotions will be a little blunted for a while, but she should be closer to her normal self than she was after his little flip-out. When he's done, he gives her hand a little squeeze and then releases it.

"Mechanical. The word you're looking for. It would seem mechanical. Just going through the motions. Just like my music."

"Yeah. Mechanical. Robotic. Like a fake." Sami's lips twitch slightly as she manages an easier smile, albeit more sedate than when they first met. "Thanks. Uh. For that." She shrugs slightly before running a hand through her hair, tucking her hair behind her ears. She grins again, a real sense of joy in the feature.

"Well maybe you could take away negative emotions from people— I think most people wouldn't mind that… I mean some of the time. Sometimes it's nice to be sad though. Like… good or something. Cathartic."

"If I do that, then I suffer through my own emotions. Win for the person I'm doing the job for, lose for me. Of course, provided I can still get withdrawal — I don't have any idea how any of this works — it would manage to keep that away, but that's about it." He takes one last gaze at the remains of Old Lucy's, pondering just where Abigail ended up.

"I'm not particularly well-balanced, in case you didn't notice that you first started visiting me in a mental institution." And saw him half-naked. A blush plays ever so slightly on his cheeks from that more than the mental institution part. The fact that he's unbalanced is old news to him. "Besides, some people find it logically disturbing. I'm not entirely sure how that works, either."

"Right," Sami murmurs quietly before shaking her head. "But your craft! And sometimes… pain. Like, when I'm sad or I'm hurting or I'm confused.. I dance. It.. it helps. And I think it helps my dancing too. Maybe?" She shoots Aaron a tight-lipped smile, not sad, just what it is.

"I don't think that means you're unbalanced. I think it means someone else thought you were. Someone else thought you had some unbalance." She hmms at the disturbing part, "And maybe it's just disturbing because they don't know what's going on?"

"I'm the one who put myself there, signed the papers." Aaron clears his throat and then changes the subject. "Old Lucy's, bar," he says, pointing behind him and to the rubble. "The owner, Abigail, she knew what was going on. Found it all to be disturbing as hell if I recall correctly. Hell, she's the one who managed to beat into my thick skull that I was evolved. I gotta tell you, I hated them all for what happened. I was anti-evolved. Never got violent with them, but I wouldn't have done a damned thing to stop one from getting killed. They destroyed my life, see." His words drip with regret.

"But I was one of them. All water under the bridge at this point. Pointless waste of emotion all of that was. Would have been better served trying to clean things up, help save people. I wandered around a vagrant instead." He starts away from Old Lucy's, having had his fill of old memories. "Funny how rarely things change."

"I.. I thought I died in that bomb." Sami recognizes that so many people had felt so much pain because of that, herself included. "Not pointless. It's okay to be angry when there's something to be angry about. But hate that like.. takes time. And energy. Too much of it." With a quiet sigh, she glances at the road ahead of her. "I need to head home. But— " her eyebrows knit together "— I think…" even with everything going on "— look I'll be in touch. I'm around New York again for awhile and.. " even with her random loss of emotions, "I'll be in touch. I swear."

"So do I. Miles to go before I sleep, as the Robert Forst poem goes." He gives her one more glance. A man who loves her. A shame. "I will hold you to that." On that note, he turns on his heel and starts walking back to catch a ride back to the other side of the ruins, where he lives over Central Park, care of roommate Peyton Whitney. Don't ever get him started on how complicated that is.


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