It doesn’t usually bother her, except sometimes it really fucking does. It didn’t bother her that whole time, throughout the whole meetup, because she wouldn’t allow it to.
Roxy has this fun ability. Perks of being the god of nothing. She can tuck the thoughts into the void. Very handy. Very good. Really lets her face her friends without the barrage of depression that comes with knowing the versions of them she grew up with are dead, and these versions don’t really know her, and they’re different people.
She mentioned to Jake some little movie the four of them had streamed together. It’s one of her more pleasant memories from being a kid. The carapacians were well fed and she’d just found a tasty supply of orange juice to mix with her vodka (which is depressing in retrospect, yeah) and she was determined to get CRUNK. It was before that was a Problem that everyone knew about, and it makes her cringe now, but it was good at the time, it was fun, they were happy, it was hilarious and risqué and not overtly uncomfortable and depressing, and she didn’t get so drunk she couldn’t follow along with their quips. Dirk had set up voice chat and showed them all how to enable it on their computers. It felt like they were in the same room together. It was amazing, and heaven knows they all needed some fun.
And Jake just stared at her, because this version of him didn’t have that with her.
And the two of them just got really quiet and uncomfortable until Jake set his drink down and hugged her and said they could watch the movie again! Oh, he’s sure it’s just hilarious if it left such an impression on her, they’ll have a grand time.
Tucking that thought away into the void box was tricky, because she didn’t want to tuck too much off and be a total fucking weirdo to them for the rest of the night. Say, Jake walks over, asks her the name of that movie. What movie? The one you were just talking about. What? What, what, why are you so perplexed, would you rather move along from the subject? That would be bad. So she just tucked away the feelings associated with it. Which meant the good ones, too, she hasn’t quite figured out how to get rid of only the unpleasant stuff. She’s working on it, but she’s not there.
And the rest of the get together was fine. When they brought up stuff about the movie, only once, she didn’t have any emotional reaction to it at all, because there were literally no emotions attached to it anymore. Gone! She has the best power. The power of being completely fucking empty whenever she wants to be. Void of meaning, purpose, emotion, desires. Whatever she needs, whenever she needs it. It’s incredible.
And now she’s home, and it’s time to let the emotions out of the box, because she’s figured out if she leaves it in there too long it just fucking vanishes. And she really liked that memory. She doesn’t want it to vanish.
What she really wants is a hug. A patented Callie kind of hug. That fucking thick-skinned, strong-armed, scaly kind of hug that feels just right all up on her soft fleshy human casing. That’d be just the stuff to make this better.
“Hey, Call-o, I’m back,” she calls out, but she doesn’t get an answer. She sees the bathroom light on, and when she listens in she hears the shower running.
Well. She’ll have to save the hug for later. She tucks away the disappointment, too, because she doesn’t feel like dealing with that, either. She realizes she’s having all kinds of feelings. Resulting bad feelings about having to tuck away the movie, too. What a tangled web she weaves. She tucks that away and feels completely, utterly bored. Good.
She turns on the TV and watches it. It’s playing court TV. She used to watch court TV when she was drunk. She sometimes narrated the cases to Dirk. Sometimes they would take their arguments to the People’s Court.
TT: Your honor, the miss Lalonde refuses to stop claiming that my robotics research is “the nasty mackinations [sic] of a dirty mind.”
TT: She’s implying that not only would I build a sex robot, but that I would disguise it as a functional sparring partner. This is character assassination in its purest form and I demand reparations.
TG: dirky u forget one key thing
TG: fuck i mean
TG: ur honor u forget one key thing
TG: dirk totally fuckin builds sex robots and disguises them as sparring partners
TT: The judge demands proof for such claims.
TG: no he fuckin doesnt
TG: the judge has decreed me hella trustworthy and sentences u to 7 years in jail 4 waisting government resources
TT: I have to object.
TG: too late dude u fucked the law and the law fucked you right back
She tucks it away. Not tonight.
Without the memories driving her, the court TV show is boring as hell. Who the hell would watch this shit? What kind of life was she living where- she tucks that away, too.
She changes the channel. Nothing holds her interest, but there’s something soothing about just running through them over and over, pressing the button, watching the colors change. One particular channel seems to be playing something particularly gory, which reminds her of the blood seeping out from the holes in Jake and Jane’s dead bodies, so she tucks that away, too.
She mutes the sound, because the noises are too jarring when they’re played so randomly.
They used to watch movies without the sound on, too. That was harder to manage, but she and Dirk figured out how to account for the cross-world and cross-time lags the four of them had. And then they synced it up with another movie. They were such dipshits. Jane stopped after the first round, and Jake insisted they just watch the films like normal, civilized people, but her and Dirk kept it up. And now he’s dead. Blown up in a dead galaxy.
Tuck that in the box, too.
Nah, know what? Tuck it all in the box. It’s fucking void time. Hell yeah.
When Callie comes out of the shower, she finds Roxy flipping through channels, thinking about nothing. It’s probably her tenth round of this. Nothing provokes any reaction, it’s just colors and shapes.
“Hi, darling!” Callie says cheerily. “When did you get back? I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Oh, maybe 10 minutes ago,” Roxy guesses. She doesn’t know. It could have been longer.
Callie sits on the couch and hugs Roxy. She remembers wanting this, and tucking the emotions of that away, so it doesn’t really feel like much. She works on prying them out. And boy howdy did they get tangled with a bunch of other stuff. It’s impossible to extract just the gratitude for the hug.
She misses her friends. She feels so guilty for not doing more to help them. She hates that she keeps reminding them she’s not their Roxy, and they’re not her Jane and Jake and Dirk. She can’t enjoy hanging out with them because buying into the fantasy means she’s not respecting their deaths and not paying for the role she had in them.
“How was the meetup?” Callie asks. “It’s been a while since you saw them last, just the four of you.” Roxy feels tears dripping down her cheeks. “Oh, Rox, did you do the box thing again?”
“I had to.”
Callie hugs her tighter. It feels really good. It’s exactly what Roxy wanted when she came home. She’s really, really warm, from the shower, and will be for another few hours. She’s wearing her fluffy red robe, which is hot and would probably turn Roxy on if she didn’t feel like such a puddle of useless garbage.
Callie doesn’t tell her it’s okay. It’s not. Callie lost them, too. She lost the people who helped her get through sharing a body with her brother. And these new versions of them don’t know her at all. Roxy doesn’t know if it's better or worse, to have to start completely new. They’ve decided it’s a draw. They both lose.
“Do you want talk about it?”
“You’ll open it up though, right?”
“You have to,” Callie says insistently. “I know it’s very selfish of me, but.” she pauses.
“I don’t want to be the only person in the universe who remembers them,” she says quietly.
Well, the box opens on its own. It does that sometimes. Roxy isn’t always as on top of it as she needs to be. Roxy hugs Callie tighter as the tears pour down her face. At least she’s not sob-hiccupping. Yet.
She’s being a shitlord, tucking it away. Callie can’t tuck it away. Callie just has to excuse herself when Jane asks her something she’d told her Jane a hundred times.
And Callie would probably chide her if she knew Roxy was thinking this. It doesn’t work like that, she’d say. Don’t use me to feel worse about yourself, I want to help.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Callie asks her again.