45.4 - Team Moves - Alycia and Aria

She leans back against the cool metal walls. Well that was a total, embarrassing, unprofessional, stupid, weak, mess. Bravo, Alycia Chin.

She tries to feel more angry at herself, but realizes that, for the moment at least, that well is dry, as much as that anger is ever gone from her head. No, she’s just depressed over the whole thing. Her hopes being up over Leo. His proving himself unworthy of that trust, and then worthy again, kind of, sort of. Learning about an existential threat to her, and then being allowed to get rid of it.

If he weren’t the most dangerous man I know, and the most noble, both at the same fucking time, I’d almost be tempted –

She shies away from that thought instant, reflexively.

But it does to the next destination duty is dragging her on to. Though that was supposed to be the easy one. And given how that went, this one is likely to end with the underwater base in flames …

She stands up, brushes a sleeve across her face, and goes in search of Aria.

#Cutscene #RP

author: *** Dave H.
url: Community Forums: 45.4 - Team Moves - Alycia and Aria | Roll20: Online virtual tabletop

Aria is on the way back from checking on the Bot and Pneuma, if the hallway she came from is any indication. She has a strange smile playing on her face, and keeps looking at her hands. It’s not clear why - they look the same as always.

She looks up, and smiles brightly. “Alycia. Welcome back from the Sepiaverse. Good work.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6551854

Alycia pulls up short, nods. “Thanks. Mostly I avoided getting blown up or thrown out of the match, but any mission where you get to drop a building on top of Dr. Infinity should be considered at least a marginal success.” She smiles briefly on that one, with a raised eyebrow to add a whiff of the sardonic to the comment.

But she hurries on, face dropping into neutral. “I – owe you an apology, Aria.” Her voice is low, little of the dramatic snideness or shoutiness that seems to usually accompany her. “You, your sister, your --” She pauses, looking up to the side, judging the word. “-- brother. You’re --” Another pause, but this time there’s no parsing of the correct word, just apparent difficulty in spitting it out. “-- people. I misjudged you, let literal prejudice affect my analysis. I --” And this time there only the barest of pauses. “-- apologize.” She puts fist against palm, and bows.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6551972

Aria looks surprised at first. Her face cycles through a range of expressions as she samples, then rejects, possible responses. Finally the pattern breaks up, and she smiles again.

“I don’t know why you’d say that. Or what changed your mind. I don’t care. I only know it must have cost you something to say it, and it was important to you that you did. So, I accept with gratitude.”

The delay also let her have time to process the other bit of news. “Doctor Infinity, huh? I think I’ve only heard that name connected with Charlotte before, though I know who it is. Well, congratulations. You’ve pissed off someone powerful doing something we thought was right. If you didn’t feel like official Menagerie before, that certainly qualifies you.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6552013

Alycia looks uncertain a moment, as if she were anticipating something that didn’t happen. “I’ll tell you someday – soon – what changed my mind. I just need to process it a bit more. Thank you, for your – graciousness. You’re not just a person, you’re a bigger one than I am.” That gets a bit of the sarcastic tone into it, at last, self-deprecating as itis…

“As to the rest – well --” She leans forward, cupping the back of her hand to her mouth, lowering her voice. “-- pissing people off is my super-power.” She straightens. “Though not one I keep secret, I suppose.”

She draws, lets out a deep breath. “Leo told me what you folk did to Jason. The Jason here. And how. I can’t say I approve, especially right now.” She doesn’t elaborate. “But I’m glad you didn’t have to kill him to stop him. I think. I’m glad I didn’t have to --” She shakes her head. “It’s complicated. I think that qualifies me for the Menagerie, too.”

Her brow furrows a moment. “Can I ask a question? Kind of personal. I just --” She makes a wide gesture with her hands. “With all of this, all the pain, the anger, the things that have been done to – to us. Both of us. Messing with our heads. I mean, you, look at you, Rossum put a goddammed message in your brain, treated you like – and I had --” She shakes her head again, cutting herself off.

“I guess what I’m asking is that you seem to – have it – together. You stay calm. Even cheerful. Positive. You’ve got this relationship with Leo which I am much less squicked out about now. Now that I know it’s not just programming, or an illusion, or a pretense, or a simulation, but … real. I just --”

She shrugs, breaking eye contact. “I just don’t know how you do it.” How I could do it echoes in the corridor.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6552116

Aria listens, patiently, calmly, nodding at intervals. It’s healthy to let someone talk, when they need to. But sometimes they leave silences, and those have to be filled. How do you do it? It’s not easy, but…

Mono no aware,” the girl answers. “It’s a Japanese thing. One of Leo’s mothers taught him. I get the feeling there’s a lot to it, but for me…”

“Imagine I’d been hurt, protecting Leo. If I was flesh, I’d have a scar.” She traces an invisible line along her cheek with an index finger. “It’s part of my history now. It shows where I’ve been. Some people might think, ‘oh, poor thing, her face is damaged now’. But not Leo. He’d know where the scar comes from, and he’d love me all the more for it.”

Mono no aware means that things break, things don’t last, and we should be grateful for them while they’re here. It means scars are beautiful in their own way, because it’s a badge of survival. And it means loving someone who’s broken, and hurting, because love heals.”

“I forgave Rossum to his face for what he did to me. Doing so let me reject his power over me. I accepted what was done, became stronger for it. I couldn’t have done that if I didn’t have people who love me. Leo. Otto. Summer.”

The girl smiles warmly, and openly. “You have people who care about you too, Alycia. I know when it hurts, you want to run, you don’t trust people getting too close, the wound is sensitive, it’ll hurt if they reach you. I even ran from Leo for a time. He was patient - oh god, he was ever so patient with me. Even if you aren’t sure what you want from those people in your life, just go to them and let them work that magic, as fast or as slow as you can take it.”

“At least, that’s what has worked for me. I really hope it does for you.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6552195

“I was raised to great causes,” Alycia says, softly. “Even if my father was a son of a bitch who betrayed what was most important in his – our cause. I look to change things permanently. To make things better for everyone. It’s what I do, what I want to do. Scars are from failure – or from not succeeding yet.” A breath. “I can’t just shrug, say things don’t last, everything break, ‘this too shall pass,’ _lacrimae rerum, _'gather ye rosebuds while ye may.'It’s just not in me.” Her fingers reach up, touch a scar at her right eyebrow, absently.

Then she smiles, only slightly crooked with irony. “But I’m glad it’s in you. And Leo. Maybe you can keep me honest. Grounded in the present, instead of the future. Or the past.”

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6552305

Aria nods slowly. “I guess I can sum it up another way then. Be okay with who you are today. If you can’t do that, look at your friends, the people closest to you. Are they okay with you? If they are, trust their assessment. It’s not a technique, or a skill to be taught. It’s a willingness, and a choice.”

“You have to do what works for you. If my ideas don’t, someone else’s will. Or you’ll find out some other way. Just don’t give up looking. And we won’t give up on you.”

The girl lets out a sigh. “I’m still sore at you for what you said to Summer. But I get the feeling you’re gonna apologize to her. It’s gonna be awkward for you. She’ll smile, and probably give you a big hug. My advice is, let her. So in advance, thank you for that too.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6552317

Alycia snorts, "I suspect you’re optimistic about how many folk are ‘okay’ with me, but that’s fine. Teams don’t have to be besties. They just have to watch each others’ back. I just – " She shrugs.

“And … yeah. I’ll be … talking with Summer.” She looks uncomfortable. “Apologies. And … all that.” She looks at Aria with wide eyes. “You don’t actually think she’ll try to hug me, do you?”

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6552698

Aria thinks for a moment, then smiles again. “Yeah. She definitely will.”

She extends and opens her own arms, not approaching, but clearly willing to if she gets any kind of welcoming signal. “Just once. For practice. And I swear I won’t tell anyone.” There’s no hint of mockery or sarcasm here. The girl before her is clearly not comfortable. Aria remembers her own moments of discomfort, and tries to summon some of Leo’s patience to aid her now. It’s okay. I’m still peeved at you, but I do care. I am okay with you.

Aria is also offering her own Comfort & Support, if you are on board. Not specifically ‘getting hugged’ (though that’s opening up too), but in her acceptance of Alycia’s olive branch and attempts to answer Alycia’s question.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6552923

Alycia stands there, looking at Aria. There’s a clear battle of desire and fear in her gaze.

In the end …

“When --” she holds up her hands. “-- I have to. But …” Her face twists, the fear taking precedence. “I – appreciate – really – sorry --”

Alycia pivots on her heels, heading down the corridor. Not running. But definitely retreating, pulling away, withdrawing from the field.

[Accept the C&S. She really accepts a such as she can. Make the roll.

This, paradoxically, is a Sharing Moment of Triumph – Alycia accepts Aria’s Influence.

My original thought would be the Leo encounter as Triumph, Aria as a weakness. Weirdly enough, the reverse.]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6553244

Aria drops her arms, but not in defeat. She watches the other girl’s back, and smiles to herself. Too soon, I guess, but she’s close. Do your best, sis. You both need friends so very badly.

I personally find it charming and heartwarming that all of Alycia’s best-laid plans go right off the rails when the Newmans are involved. She’s super-capable in the field and clearly intelligent and driven, but then you add people who care about her to the mix and it’s like NOPE. Sooner or later, she’s gonna make that bridge, between her laudable but abstract “I care and want to change the world” and “this is what that feels like when it’s aimed at me”.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6553271

[Agree with all your points / suppositions / observations. Spot on. I hope it works out that well for her. C&S → remove Insecure]

Alycia walks away. It sees almost comedic but the thought of physical contact in such a context (positive, supportive, directed toward her) seem almost unbearably fraught. But … Aria thinks she’s worth such a gesture. She thinks Summer will agree. She thinks the others actually, maybe accept her. It’s sentimental crazy-talk, possibly manipulative, certainly dubious, but … maybe she does have a place on the team.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6553318