Cassiopeia sits on the foldaway bed, toying with a strand of her blue, fiber-optic hair.
Ambiance The room looks like what any high schooler's room would be like if he had his own apartment. There's a small kitchenette, dishes piled high. A full bed is pushed up against the back wall. There's also a futon, currently folded out into a fold-away bed. Clearly this futon is normally used as a couch or something, as there's a TV in front of it.
Cassiopeia Her head moves up as they enter, but she doesn't look in their direction.
Ras Alhague walks up to Cassie, his hand in Merope's, trying to pull her along. "Cassie, this is Merope." He motions to Merope to introduce herself. "Remember, I told you about her?"
Ras Alhague is now crouched down in front of the futon.
Cassiopeia reaches out her hand to touch Ras' face. She spends a few moments feeling his features, until she seems satisfied and drops her hand. To the air, she says "It's you."
Merope stares at Cassie in wonder, and allows herself to be dragged along, not yet knowing what to say.
Ras Alhague takes Cassie's hand and whispers to Merope, "just run with it, okay? she can't see anything." Then he says to her, maybe a bit louder than he should, "This is Merope," and puts her hand on Merope's face.
Cassiopeia allows her hand to be moved, and forwns as she feels around Merope's face. Merope looks uncomfortable.
Cassiopeia "Soft. You moisturise." She traces a finger to Merope's lips. "Do you speak?"
Merope "Um... y-yes?"
Ras Alhague motions to Merope she should say hello, introduce herself, something.
Ras Alhague smiles in approval.
Ras Alhague puts a comforting hand on Merope's shoulder.
Merope recoils slightly from Ras' touch.
Ras Alhague whispers, "I know it's weird. But she needs help. I wasn't just going to leave her on a street corner, you know?"
Cassiopeia finishes her investigations of Merope's face. "You seem pretty, Merope. But lots of things seem pretty on the outside. It's the insides that count." "
Merope "Um... thank you?"
Cassiopeia doesn't seem to acknowedge this response. "Feeling the insides gets messy, though."
Merope looks over at Ras in utter confusion.
Ras Alhague "Cassie, try to get some rest. I'm going to talk to Merope now. Did anything happen while I was out?"
Merope Cassie stares into the middle distance for a moment, and then, as if reciting of some internal list, begins "Ten minutes and thirty two seconds after you left, a dog began barking. It continued to be audible for the next five minutes and fourteen seconds. Twenty-one minutes and four seconds after that, a car was started and drove away..."
Ras Alhague takes Cassie's hand. "Cassie, Cassie, stop. You know what I meant. Anything notable. Anything we should worry about."
Ras Alhague looks at Merope, mouthing 'sorry'.
Cassiopeia "There's always something to worry about..."
Ras Alhague sighs. "Never mind, Cassie." He runs his fingers through her 'hair'. "Just get some rest."
Cassiopeia nods, and moves to lie down. "Okay. Will you hold me this time? I would rest better in your arms."
Ras Alhague "Not tonight. I'm sorry." He shakes his head. "You need to learn how to be alone, anyway. Remember?"
Cassiopeia "I don't want to be alone. I want to be with you."
Ras Alhague "I know you do, Cassie. Remember what that great philosopher Jagger said?"
Cassiopeia falls silent for a bit. "Is that a riddle?"
Ras Alhague "We used to say it all the time when we were kids. You really don't remember?" Ras's face is now broken-hearted.
Cassiopeia "We used to say lots of things when we were kids." She pauses. "You seem to have forgotten what you used to say to me."
Ras Alhague "I remember." He stops, looks over at Merope. "Things are different now. It's not like that anymore. I still love you, but my heart belongs to someone else."
Merope looks astonished. "Wait... you two were...?"
Ras Alhague "Childhood sweethearts."
Ras Alhague "We were 6? 8?" Ras rubs his forehead. "It was a long time ago."
Cassiopeia "It never felt that long to me." Her voice is still flat, as if stating fact. "I think I will rest now."
Ras Alhague He smiles, a bit abashedly. "Sorry, Merry. This wasn't the way I planned to tell you I loved you."
Merope freezes up entirely.
Merope "Y.. you what me?"
Cassiopeia "He loves you. That's what he's saying. It seems pretty clear to me."
Cassiopeia turns over onto her side, facing away from the two of them. "You should talk to each other, then."
Ras Alhague "Nevermind. Forget I said it." He waves it away. "It's too soon, anyway. Right?" He sighs.
Merope "God, Ras... if you were trying to make me feel better about finding your ex in your bedroom..."
Ras Alhague "I brought you here, didn't I? I introduced you. You didn't 'find' her. Maybe I should have introduced you two at the bus station, but everyone else was already there."
Merope "She wasn't... " She pauses. "Wait.... Station Cassiopeia?"
Cassiopeia "...broadcasting on all frequencies.."
Ras Alhague "They were using her."
Ras Alhague clenches his fists.
Merope "What... what did you do?"
Ras Alhague "They had her all wired up to these machines. I know what it's like to be a prisoner. I couldn't let that happen to anyone else I cared about. I'd stop it all, if I knew how."
Merope "Oh God, I need air..."
Merope rushes outside.
Ras Alhague "Merry, wait!"
Ras Alhague runs outside.
Merope is taking a few deep breaths, looking out toward the street.
Merope She tilts her head to look up at the sky. "Why does it always have to be so intense?"
Ras Alhague "Stars burn hotly."
Merope She whirls around. "God, you even sound just like him." She glares at him, fiercly. "I just wanted a normal relationship with a normal guy! Someone cute and sensitive and maybe a little dangerous, someone I could take to prom and get excited about. But no! I've known you three days, and suddenly it's fucking star-crossed lovers and secret conspiracies! Three days, Ras!"
Ras Alhague "You think I don't want a normal life?" The veins in his neck start bulging. "You think I'm happy in this situation? I'd rather have had no Jessup in my life, I'd rather not see my first crush wired to machines and babbling like a crazy child. It's not like I picked this!"
Ras Alhague slams his fist into a nearby wall.
Merope continues to glare for a long moment, breathing steadily. Then she drops her eyes.
Merope "Ras, I like you a lot, I do...."
Ras Alhague takes a deep breath, preparing himself for the blow.
Merope "...I just.... I'm not ready for that yet."
Ras Alhague He lets out a sigh of relief. "I know. And maybe you'll never be. But we can keep trying in the meantime." He sighs. "I've been through too much." He gestures at the open door to his apartment, obviously meaning Cassie. "I've seen people reduced, or dead before they had a chance to live. So I've decided to jump into the fire whenever I can, and if you're not ready, that's okay. Okay?"
Ras Alhague "I mean, I have no expectations. You don't have to burn with me."
Merope "Can't we just... smoulder?"
Merope winces slightly at her own (unintentional) pun.
Merope "I was just hoping we could do this at... you know, the normal speed."
Ras Alhague tries to put another comforting hand on her shoulder. "Whatever speed you need, Merry."
Merope looks uncomfortable again for a moment, but covers it with a smile, touching her hand to his. "Thank you."
Merope "I should go." She pecks him on the cheek. "I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
Ras Alhague "Okay. Take care of yourself. And... don't tell anyone, ok? She's in danger, and you might be if you let anyone know you know."
Merope "There's nothing about tonight I really want to spread around, Ras." She smiles again, weakly, trying to cover for how hurtful that remark sounded as it came out.
Ras Alhague shakes his head, laughing more to be polite than anything. "Yeah, I guess you're right." He pushes her hair away from in front of her face.
Merope "Tomorrow, okay?"
Ras Alhague "Yeah, tomorrow. Sweet dreams, Merope. Keep shining."
Ras Alhague watches her go down the stairs, then heads back into his room.
Cassiopeia "If she doesn't want your heart any more, can I have it?"
Ras Alhague crawls in the bed beside Cassiopeia, holding her. He kisses the back of her head. "It's not that easy, sweetie."