The Art of Flesh

<gumbal1> It had been a while since they talked, hasn't it? At least, that's what Lisa thought as she headed over to room 232. At least, Ellie wouldn't ask questions about any of the things that may be coming off her. Lisa knew that for sure. She also knew the door was near uniformly unlocked while Ellie was present in her room, thought she still knocked. Only polite.
<Nemi> And like Lisa knows, Ellie's customary "It's open!" soon follows. The 'Draw something' whiteboard currently has a picture of a strange deer-like creature.
<gumbal1> Leah. One of the two San Fran painters, and the one who near uniformly wasted her talents on cryptids and other such nonsense (though maybe she was just biased on account of her massive emotional bulldozer for the other one). She steps in quietly, closing the door behind her. "Sorry for never coming around lately. Other things got in the way of that."
<Nemi> "Don't worry about it," says the Ellie lying on the bed, in pajamas but doing naught but lounging with her laptop on her abdomen playing a video about nuclear physics in easily digestible cartoon format. The room is, as ever, nicely composed yet still clearly lived in by a teenage girl who cares a lot about her image. She glances up, then sits up and lets her laptop float up and neatly
<Nemi> out of the way. A grin. "What's up?"
<gumbal1> As opposed to unlived in by a teenage girl who cares a lot about her image. "Oh, nothing. Lisa has been trying to get me to help her with English. I have enough to worry about, unfortunately." Lisa plops down in the comfiest-looking spot available. "…I cannot wait for this lockdown to end so I can properly strangle Bartholomew without regret."
<Nemi> There's plenty of comfy spots. Like the chair! Or the giant foam beanbag thing. Ellie scootches to the edge of her mattress and lets her legs dangle, though she has enough presence of mind to sit with a measure of composure. "I'm sure there's plenty of kids who'd be happy to help. Maybe- Akemi? Or Minami? Either of them are probably good at it. And uh.. Why? He's price-gouging you or
<Nemi> what?"
<gumbal1> "I don't trust Lisa not to start worshipping Akemi, so Aiko will do." Foam beanbag it is. "That's what he always seems to do. I swear if I have to eat any more cafeteria food. And then you girlfriend keeps stealing valuable supplies to made edibles, so I end up depending on old Bart more and more."
<Nemi> "Why not get Maddie to get you something? You know she can just basically go anywhere and do whatever-" A vaguely irritated look passes over Ellie's face for a moment. "And all you need to do is maybe smile at her and get her in some kinda long term abuse thing, no problem."
<gumbal1> Christ these two. Overly protective of the other's feelings, even when they weren't. "I trust you aren't implying something." Yeah, who'd ever be like that?
<Nemi> "Me? Implying anything about her girlfriend? Nooo, not at all. Anywayyyy.." Ellie reaches over to pause the video at last before she lets her eyes flit over and settle on Lisa. "Want a drink? I've got some iced tea made up and I still have all that cocoa my dad sent me last week."
<gumbal1> Roiling starfish again. Why that specific feeling? "Cocoa. I don't trust ice. And…" Hold on, wait. "…do they truly allow parents to send packages?"
<Nemi> "Apparently? I mean, my mom and dad are still in GWU custody since- you know, technically biohazards in the same way I'm technically a biohazard, but .. Yeah?" Ellie meanwhile leans over to fetch one of the several pretty mugs on her windowsill, floating it out the door while she manually digs around for a sealed Tupperware tub of powdered cocoa.
<gumbal1> …how many months has she been here exactly. She…came in May, midway through. And it was…~Six months.~ "…well, it's expedient in your case, then. I'm glad they keep in regular contact."
<Nemi> "Why? You want to get something from your parents sometime? I know we can write /out/ and .. Might be a security level thing. I don't know." Ellie .. Pauses a moment and eyes Lisa. "You feel different. Are you feeling alright?"
<gumbal1> Lisa just kinda…grins, half-heartedly. "So you actually notice. No, I don't know what I'm doing when I do this. I don't know a lot of things about myself. It's a common theme with me, I suppose."

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<Nemi> "I notice a /lot/ of things, Ayame. It's just I don't always say something." Ellie's actually very briefly gone soft, serious, as she says that. The mug comes floating into the room a moment later, steaming with hot milk. The cocoa powder itself flutters over like snow caught in the wind before she seals the tub, the powder soon stirring itself in a swirling vortex into the mug.. And
<Nemi> the mug itself gently lowering itself to easy grasping reach for Lisa.
<gumbal1> Lisa takes it gingerly. "I don't know why I trust you anymore. Even when you don't try, you find more things about me than I'd like. It's almost like I'm becoming soft in the face of this school being alternately filled with horrible people and bastions of light…fuck, my cred will be in tatters, soon enough." Another grin, before Lisa takes a tiny sip. "…so yes, that's me. I also do weird tentacle tricks, in addition to crumbling in the face of
<gumbal1> this blasted lockdown."
<Nemi> Ellie smirks and sits back. "You trust me because I'm the kind of person who knows how to keep her mouth shut, too. Now- horrible, bastions.. Which one am I?" The cocoa's rather tasty! Probably home-made mix. ".. Tentacle tricks. That's a new one."
<gumbal1> Something slides out of Lisa's mouth, dark grey and spotted with white, and into the cup, before retreating as Lisa takes a sip. "It is new, indeed."
<Nemi> Ellie, of course, notices. ".. You're leaking again. So, that's what that was. Learn something new every day, I suppose. You can join me in the cosmic abomination club!"
<gumbal1> "Heh. Always know how to put a fun spin on slow descents into acedia-induced downfall." Another sip. "I've been doing that on accident for far too many birthdays. You know how it can be, don't you?"
<Nemi> ".. Until last month all my last three birthdays were in a hospital and spent spewing black sludge out my mouth and nose and eyes, so, yes, I think I have an idea. How's the cocoa?"
<gumbal1> "It's instant cocoa. They're usually good." More sips. "…I've been wondering. Can you distinguish the mind of a human from the mind of a nonhuman?"
<Nemi> ".. Yes. Pretty easily. Why?"
<gumbal1> "…do you think I should be dead by now? Be honest."
<Nemi> Ellie ever-so-slightly cants her head. "By now? You've been dead for a long time."
<gumbal1> "Hm. Then why do you think I've survived this long?"
<Nemi> "Inertia, mostly. I mean- I'm dead too. Haven't let it stop me." Ellie grins, shrugs at Lisa and leans over to grab a bottle of iced tea from the mini-fridge tucked between her bed and the desk.
<gumbal1> Lisa takes a gulp this time. "That seems all to common at this school. Surviving death…when exactly do you think I died, if I may ask?"
<Nemi> "If I had to guess? Uh, just shy of your birthday, maybe three years back? It's- really weird. Hard to tell since you're carrying all those ghosts with you. I mean, I died sixty years ago, which is extra weird given I wasn't /born/ at the time, but.. Eldritch."
<gumbal1> Lisa…chuckles. "Wait till Katlyn hears that…but no. We may have physically died then. But what keeps a soul bound to a body? One that still seems to grow, even. Granted, well…hmph. I guess my growth spurt is through. But I don't remember Anthiel being nearly as buxom as you are, so I''ll assume it's simulating biological function just fine."
<Nemi> "When you're like us you're more soul than physicality, so.. I think it can be a case of mind over matter, really." Then the 'buxom' comment, and Ellie snrks. SHe gestures to herself with delicate fingers. "Oh, this? Side effect of an old friend's present to me. Do you want to see what I /really/ look like?"
<gumbal1> "No." Short and simple. "…then it should be easy, then, to change myself, if I am but a soul puppeting a dead body."
<Nemi> "It should be. It took a shitload of effort for me to figure it out, but.. I could maybe try to teach you."
<gumbal1> Lisa closes her eyes. "I told you earlier about the tentacles. Do you think that, maybe, I could restructure myself as well?" Her body visibly pales, an amazing feat for the already pale Lisa.
<Nemi> Ellie .. Grins. "You just changed a little. I can't even do colours yet, and you did. After that, well.. Everything else is easy. You just- force the world to remember you as something else."
<gumbal1> Force the world to remember you as something else, but who else. The only Lisa was Lisa. The only Lisa was Lisa. The only Lisa was chalkyLisa. The only wriggling Lisa was Isaka
<gumbal1> A few bits of skin peel off into small, dark strips of wriggling flesh. Some are barbed, some have rapidly blinking eyes. Lisa doesn't seem to notice.
<Nemi> Ellie, meanwhile, watches with some unveiled curiosity. She grins at the barbed tentacles, the blinking eyes. And she /watches/.
<gumbal1> Given enough undisturbed time, more and more skin starts to peel. Even her clothes, for some odd reason, seem affected. As more and more tentacles form, they begin wrapping together into a vague, gangly form, and Ellie can feel something…odd, bleeding off Lisa. If she had to describe it, it was as if…Lisa started generic, and slowly went name-brand. Or something.
<gumbal1> And soon, given enough time, sitting there is a gangly, malformed mess of tentacles, spines, and ever-shifting eyes.
<Nemi> Ellie .. Very gently claps. "How /interesting/. You went branded from over-the-counter. Now what are /you/, I wonder?"
<gumbal1> And very briefly, the form before her blinks into something else. Very much like the old Lisa but…less underweight. Dressed more for a David Bowie concert than a late 2010s high school. Smiling. And radiating something between malice and bemusement…
<gumbal1> …though soon enough, she's back to the Lisa that came into the room several minutes ago.
<Nemi> Ellie has a similar aura, if not much better fashion sense. Somewhere between malice and bemusement, with a little genuine care. "… Maybe more of the physical side of things, like how I can shove my face around until I look like Ernest Borgnine."
<gumbal1> "…I have no idea what just happened."
<Nemi> Ellie twizzles her lips. "I have an idea of it, and instead of going on that route more I'm going to say you should finish your cocoa.
<gumbal1> Which Lisa does, nodding. "…mind giving me an idea?"
<Nemi> "Sure. There's something bigger than just you and your mothers in there." Ellie leans forward, languid but expression sliding a notch toward the serious as she presses a forefinger to Lisa's forehead.
<Nemi> ".. And it's .. Interesting. Curious. Nasty, but not .. Entirely malicious."
<gumbal1> "Just great. I'll have to speak with her about squatting in my body but I'm assuming she's keeping me from going to the next world. So, give her props for that."
<Nemi> "She also reminds me of David Bowie, so, she's also got that going for her."

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<gumbal1> "Which one? He changed styles far too much for his own good."
<Nemi> ".. Kind of Ziggy, really."
<gumbal1> "…hah. My life…and death, for that matter, are a cosmic joke." Aaaaaaand cocoa is done. "Thank you for your time."
<Nemi> "Sure thing. Always like having you visit. I need to get you a late birthday present part two the miniseries anyway, so I'll probably pop by your place soo nmyself."
<gumbal1> "Well." Lisa stands up. "It's been enlightening. I think I'll go lie down and hope I don't have a panic attack at the idea that I'm dead."
<Nemi> Ellie lazily waves. "It's more metaphorical, if that helps."
<gumbal1> "Metaphor or not." Lisa waves, and leaves.

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