The Funeral of Corey Jackson

Anonymous

Guest
Copied and pasted from the Discord event:

The scene: The Monroe meeting hall is seeing a fair amount of attendance at this moment. Many people who knew Corey have gathered to pay their respects. Some who didn't know Corey as well have decided to join also - perhaps they knew her in passing, are there to support friends of Corey, or just to pay their respects as citizens. One or two may be there because of the rumor that there might be food served later.

In any case, there's the low murmur of many hushed voices and the soft shift of people mingling with each other. Somehow, someone's managed to find a few pots of flowers - likely Liliana - in the dead of winter, and placed them around the room and on the stage where Terry, dressed in black and gray for the occasion, soon steps out, waiting for the crowd to notice and offer their attention to her. A couple of peacekeepers are present around the room - it's unclear if they're there to pay respects or manage security. Perhaps both. Terry's personal guard Alfred stands somewhere in the back of the stage, overlooking the proceedings and the crowd with calm, keen eyes.

A small group of peacekeepers maintains security outside the building, but none interact directly. Preston is not present.

The news on Levi’s part did nothing but bring him a headache more than anything. Just one more reason for Rutherford to be reckless and end up with a bullet in the head.

The Scotsman hovered about outside dragging his cigarette out while wearing his Sunday Best.

“Beautiful day for a funeral.” He muttered to himself in jest.

Noelle and Alyssa arrived together. The Lange daughters were dressed in dresses of soft colors with their hair neatly tucked in braids. Noelle fussed with the a strand of hair loose on Alyssa head.

“We’re here to pay respects. Okay? When you see Max, tell her you’re sorry for her loss.” Noelle coached the teen.

Alyssa gave a shy nod, looking around the town. “..Aren’t these the people..?” Her words were cut off by a soft shush as Noelle ushered her in.

The younger ranger hangs near the rear of the room, clad in the uniform she had been given, still one size too large. Not like she had much else. At least she'd been able to clean herself a bit and make herself somewhat presentable.

Though she'd met Corey and chatted with her a few times, she never really had the opportunity to befriend her; for her this was more a courtesy than anything else. She was a part of her new unit, and all things considered, she feared coming off as rude.

With arms crossed, she watched people discuss with one another, some smiling, some crying. She watched the peacekeepers, just as intimidating as any older ranger. But most of the time, she watched the casket where the deceased lay.

Gerald stands to the side of the stage, hands clasped before him. He's clearly done his best to make himself presentable today. He's adorned in plain clothing, formal only in that his shirt has buttons and no stains, but it's a far cry from his usual beaten and scuffed guard armor. Someone has absconded with his favorite cap and attempted to tame the tangle of graying hair with limited success. His expression is somber, and it seems a few more lines have been added to his wrinkled brow in recent days. He is focused entirely upon Terry at the head of the room, waiting for the call to action.

Beside him and practically hidden in his shadow, Kaari leans against the wall trying to read a book despite one arm immobilized in a sling. She cleans up far nicer than her protector with a deep ocean blue blouse and a flowing full skirt to match, though the look is tarnished somewhat by the bandages and bruises along her otherwise bare arms. Her many necklaces of wooden and bone beads, feathers, and gems dangle from her neck. Every so often, she nudges Gerald with her elbow to turn a page for her.

Nat sits towards the front, ditching the standard ranger uniform in favor of an old dirty black blazer and a white dress shirt that looks to have seen better days. They are silently just taking in the surroundings of the room, or maybe just lost in thought. They sit by themselves, and does not seem to be too talkative.

Max is sat silently in the very front row of the meeting hall. Her hands are clasped together in her lap. She occasionally shoots a look Terry's way, but for the most part she keeps her gaze focused on the floor. Her entire demeanor is somber. She's in all black--as would be expected. Slacks and a sweater that has definitely been through a scuffle or two. She didn't exactly have very many clothes to pick from. She could have worn her uniform, considering how dark it is, but it didn't feel right. This isn't just some funeral for a stranger. This is for her fiancée.

Noelle moved through toward Max, coming up behind her and resting a gentle hand on her shoulder. Compared to what she’d saw a few nights ago, Noelle had turned around ten fold. Two sad eyes looked down at her.

“I’m here.” It’s all she needed to say to Max to get her message across. Alyssa had her hands clasped together in-front of her. She didn’t speak but it was clear there was sorrow on her face.

Levi on the other hand, had found his way inside and hovered to the back. He was leaning against the wall attempting his best to stay out of the main group to give his respect while still keeping an eye on things.

Max doesn't give Noelle any sort of response, but she does appreciate the sentiment.

All she needs! Noelle and Alyssa will find a seat somewhere.

Texas places himself in the corner of the room. Not really familiar with how funerals like these are supposed to go, but he definitely gets the memo that he's not exactly the most well-dressed individual in the room for this event. His wardrobe sadly doesn't have anything black in it.

Either way, he keeps his distance from the fellow funeral attendees. And most importantly keeps his mouth shut.

Marcie's gaze drifts over to the other members of the unit here and there. Taking a deep breath, she glances behind her towards Levi. "How often uh...how often does this happen?" she asks quietly, looking back at the procession.

The Scotsman looks toward her, squinting his eyes as her surveys the crowd. His attention dividing across everyone.

“Funerals or people dyin’?”

"Funerals." she states nonchalantly, looking back at the people herself. "I don't see them with this many people often..not where I was, at least."

“Guess it depends on the person and place. Seems this one had a lot of people who cared about ‘er. Or Max.”

“Back in California, we’d just burn them and say a few prayers - whoever was with’em when they died. Nothing this.. old school.”

Marcie nods. "About the same up in Toronto and elsewhere there.. Especially when it was a number of people. Not a lot of time..." she rubs her hands together, her gaze lowering to the ground before she exhales. "That's life though."

Levi adjusts his collar and clears his throat, “Ay.” He sighs.

“I’ll bet you a drink someone starts a fight.”

Mulling on that for few moments, she glances back to Levi with a rather faint smile. "I'll take that bet."

“You’re on.” He presses his tongue against his cheek and leans against the wall once more. Nodding for Marcie to turn her attention to the front

With that prompt, she turns back to the front and continues watching the processions.

As the hush of voices dies mostly down and most of the room's eyes are on her, Terry begins to speak.

"Thank you, everyone, for coming." the young Minister says. Her voice is characteristically soft, but clear, her grief purposefully subdued but still unmistakably there. "We're here today to pay our respects and say goodbye to Corey Jackson, who was taken from us this New Years." She pauses, looks momentarily down and clears her throat, before looking up at the mostly dark-dressed gathering again. "Those of us who knew her are very grateful to see how many have come to show their support in this time of grief."

"Gerald Bechet, who has graciously offered to officiate Corey's funeral, will start by saying a few words. Afterwards, anyone who wishes to speak on Corey's life will be welcome to take the stage."

"Finally, we'll go outside and lay Corey's body to rest." She pauses again, and looks over at the Reverend. "Gerald, would you like to take it from here?"

Liliana was dressed suitably in black, a hat with a veil covering half her face. She remained as pleasantly aloof as always, standing off to the side and occasionally making smalltalk with the others. Like the rest, she went quiet for the speeches. It was only proper.

I think Nat is sitting behind Max, trying not to show emotion.

Once Terry finally begins speaking, Max looks up at her. Her eyes are red and puffy, like she's been crying. That's no surprise, though.

"Thank you, Minister Winters," Gerald says with a nod and steps forward. The old preacher looks at home in front of a congregation, and when he speaks it is with a voice full of warmth. "I would like to start by echoing Terry's appreciation for offering your time, your thoughts, and your hearts to this gathering. We've come together to honor the memory of Miss Corey Jackson; to celebrate her life, to mourn her passing, and to reach out to one another and share in the burden of loss."

"I can see some unfamiliar faces, so for those who might not know me my name is Gerald Bechet. I was a man of the cloth back in the day, and I am no stranger to leading a parish through funeral Mass." Gerald turns to regard the coffin, and the picture that rests atop it. The photographer had managed to capture Corey in her most natural state; she seemed pissed off. "Of course, miss Jackson was no devout Catholic, nor even particularly religious. And that's no criticism from my part. The dusty doctrines and dogmas of the old world haven't particularly held up well to the harsh reality we live in, and our beliefs well ought to change as we ourselves do in our daily lives."

Terry steps away to allow Gerald the full attention of the crowd. She remains in the back of the stage, close to Alfred.

"But that leaves me in a state where any sermon or prayer I might conjure up would only ring hollow. Talk of Christ is of little consolation if'n it's just a word that might slip out when you stub your toe on the table," he says with a ghost of a smile. The levity lasts only a moment as he continues, "Those archaic rites and rituals we once had were all a means to .. to try and add some structure to the world. To make sense of it all, even if there ain't any sense to be had. So long as tradition is telling us that life and death follow specific rules, why, we can all rest easy with some comfort in the thought of knowing what's to come." Gerald glances upwards as he muses. "The very idea of Heaven was meant to give purpose to our lives. To .. reassure us that our time here on this earth had meaning. That our sacrifices .. our struggles to be better people .. it would all be rewarded."

His gaze drops back to the gathered mourners. "Well, I've no need to pontificate on some invisible sky kingdom when I've a real and tangible evidence of Corey's life before me now." He gestures widely with open arms. "Each and every one of you, by being here today, are living proof of the impact Corey had. Were I to know nothing else about the woman save how many came together to mourn her passing, how many felt her absence and the need to fill that void with each other's company .. that right there would be enough to know she lived a life of true meaning. Rewarded by the bonds she formed between us."

Gerald holds a hand to his heart, as if he could grip it in his fist. "The friendship. The camaraderie. The love that we shared with her .. it forever changed us. Our shared experiences made us grow as people. Made us more than what we were before we met her. Shaped us into who we are today. And though we feel keenly her loss in our hearts, Corey's influence within us is by no means undone. We will carry the evidence of her life for all time - in our thoughts, and in our actions - until we ourselves live on in the souls of those who come after."

Nikolai enters quietly, taking a seat near the door.

"As for myself," Gerald pauses with another glance at the picture on the coffin, this time with something of a resigned expression to his face. "I regret to say I did not know Corey as well as I would have liked. Oh, we had some cordial exchanges, what with her coming and going from my gate on the regular, but we were hardly close enough to share more than a polite fare-thee-well."

He sighs heavily with a slight shake of his head. "And in this, I feel I was remiss in my duties. Not as a guard of our gates, but as a person. She struck me as a woman of deep internal conflicts, one with personal struggles worn on her sleeve but kept at arm's length, and I admired in her the manner in which she pushed forward in spite of the obstacles in her path."

He turns back to the crowd, gaze sweeping across them. "We all have battles within ourselves we must face each and every day, and Corey faced hers with a strength and determination equal to that which she showed in combat of the physical nature as well. The battlefield is never an appealing prospect in even the best of circumstances, and yet time and again Miss Jackson joined myself and others on the frontlines, putting herself at risk for the sake of those in need."

He smiles fondly. "Why, I remember one time in particular, we were advancing on a Miller outpost to rescue some of our scouts that had been imprisoned. And as we started taking fire, I seen her and Max leaping in front of each other as if they were competing to be the first to take a bullet for the other. Half-reminded me of a ballroom dance, it did, and I might have shouted at the two to get a room, though I can't hardly be sure they heard me over the gunshots."

Gerald chuckles and shakes his head. "Also, I recall she might have accidentally shot Constantine in the back during that scuffle. Though who can say they hadn't thought of doing the same, but still, maybe she could've torn her loving gaze away from her girl for just a minute to aim?" Gerald shrugs. "Y'know, just saying."

Looking down to the ground from her chair as Gerald speaks, her somber expression is briefly broken by a small smile.

He falls back to his somber and reserved expression, all business. "But nevertheless, I did feel more at ease with her at our side. And only now do I realize that I trusted her with my life, but never took the step to involve myself with hers." A flash of regret passes across his face, a twisting of the mouth and crinkle to his brow. "I squandered that opportunity to truly know her, and those of you here fortunate enough to have experienced that bond should know I envy you the join from those cherished memories .. even at the expense of the pain you feel in this moment."

Max manages a small smile as well. As stressful as that night was, it's somewhat comforting to think back on now.

"The happiness we receive from our loved ones is a debt incurred .. to be pained in sorrow when they slip from our grasp .. and that pain we are left with is a symbol of the strength of the good times we shared. Of what Corey gave to us. She .. was a beloved friend to many. And she will be missed."

After a moment of silence, Gerald continues. "A final commendation, the act of committing the body and soul to a peace after death granted for a life well-lived, is not merely meant for the benefit of the deceased but for those left behind. I could not rightfully say what awaits beyond the veil of death, but it is the living who must continue on in the here and now."

Again, he gestures to the crowd. "It is we who must cope now with this new pain in our hearts, and press forward into a new day. Each of us develops some method to cope, in our own way, and I am a firm believer that a burden shared is a burden halved. I would like to invite you all to step forward, to take a moment to reflect on how Corey affected your life. To spread stories of the joy and good times she brought you, and perhaps to offer your own thoughts of how you will greet the morrow. Perhaps it is as simple as to pour one out on her behalf, or perhaps you will find strength from the closeness of others. For me, I could say I've a nebulous faith in an equally nebulous afterlife, but instead I will let Kaari answer for me through a song I've requested."

Gerald beckons Kaari to step forward. She reluctantly puts her book away, slipping silently to his side. At a nod from Gerald, she takes a breath and begins to sing.
"I am a poor wayfaring stranger," she begins, her voice hauntingly low. Absent her usual accent, words like crystal.

"I'm traveling through this world of woe. Yet there is no sickness, toil, nor danger .. in that bright land to which I go." Her pitch rises, eyes closed and engulfed in the music. "I'm going there to see my Father. I'm going there, no more to roam."

Nat frowns and leans back in their pew, still not saying a word, or having any reaction.

"I'm only going over Jordan. I'm only going over home.
I know dark clouds will gather 'round me. I know my way is rough and steep.
But golden fields lie just before me. Where God's redeemed shall ever sleep.
I'm going home to see my mother. And all the loved ones who've gone on.
I'm only going over Jordan. I'm only going over home.

I am a poor wayfaring stranger. I'm traveling through this world of woe.
Yet there's no sickness, toil no danger .. in that bright land to which I go.
I'm going there to see my Father. I'm going there, no more to roam.
I'm only going over Jordan. I'm only going .. over .. home."

Kaari falls silent, nervously rubbing at her bound arm in its sling. She glances over at Gerald and he nods appreciatively. There's a tear to the man's eye.

Levi grits his teeth, trying to wipe the smile off his face. He doesn’t seem to do well under these circumstances.

Similarly, Liliana sat off to the side, expression vacant, occasionally dabbing at dry eyes theatrically with a tissue.

Gerald breaks the silence. " .. if there is someone who would like to say a few words, please do not hesitate to come forward."

Max rises to her feet. "I-I'll, uh--... I'll say somethin'." Since she's in the front row, she's not all that far from the stage. She steps on up and moves beside Gerald.

Terry's eyes find Kaari as she sings, and she keeps her gaze there for the duration. Silently impressed - she didn't know Kaari could sing.

She especially had no idea Kaari could sing in perfect English.

Gerald lays a comforting hand on Max's shoulder before stepping out of the way.

Marcie watches with a deadpan expression, her hands folded one over the other. Be respectful, be respectful.

Alyssa is resting her head on Noelle’s shoulder. Both girls are being very quiet. Noelle seems to have cried to some capacity.

Max swallows a lump in her throat. She's silent for a short while, contemplating what she's going to say. Eventually, though, she speaks.

"When I first met Corey, I-I, uhm... I thought she was really fuckin' weird. She was so insistent on bein' my friend, 'n I never got it. I-I'm so used 'ta people wantin' nothin' 'ta do with me. Thinkin' I'm just some no-good junkie 'n leavin' it at that. But Corey, she--... She didn't see any'a that. I honestly thought it was some cruel fuckin' joke 'n that she was gonna turn around 'n end up fuckin' me over, but she never did." Max pauses, sniffling. "Corey was so fuckin' selfless. She was always doin' everything she could 'ta help others out. I never really thought I'd end up lovin' anyone ever again. Feelings 'n shit have always just led to everyone gettin' hurt. I didn't wanna deal with it no more. But Corey just kept on pushin' 'n pushin', 'n I guess it just sorta... ended up happenin'. Me, Corey, Sunny, Mr. Bubbles, Spitfire--fuck, even Silk. We were a family. I can't even remember the last time I was genuinely fuckin' happy 'fore Corey came into my life. We had our disagreements 'n shit, sure, but at the end of the day we loved each other. I-I still love her. 's really fuckin' hard knowin' I won't get to spend the rest of my life with 'er. 's like I lost a piece'a myself when she died. B-But... Up until the very end, she was just doin' what she had 'ta do to protect me. She may be gone, but I know I've gotta keep on truckin'. For her. I-I ain't gonna let her death mean nothin'."

Max chokes back a sob. It feels like all she's been doing lately is crying. Normally she would never allow herself to get this emotional in front of people--in front of a crowd no less--but that's completely gone out the window.

"F-Fuck... Sorry..."

Terry looks at Max as she speaks, and it gets increasingly harder to maintain that composed and respectful neutrality. Her brow furrows and her eyes water. She feels her pain.

After a little while, she gets up from the chair and walks over to Max. She looks uncertainly at the crowd, then touches Max's shoulder gently and leans towards her, murmuring something in a soothing tone.

Max nods to her then trudges over to the chair Terry just got up from, slumping down in it.


She nods as well and watches Max walk to her seat, giving her shoulder a soft stroke before letting go. As she turns towards the crowd again, she clears her voice and says low, "I, uh, since-...since I'm here, I can say a few words, too."

Her demeanor's changed. It takes a lot of her to muster the Minister persona, a part of her that's still true but still untrained and a deliberate effort. Stepping up in front again, right now, she's just regular Terry. Unsure and with no great love of speaking to crowds. Marked by the grief of the recent loss of her friend. But she speaks, and her words are sincere.

"Corey was...many things." she begins. Almost too low to be heard. She tries to rectify it with the next sentence. "In some ways troubled - but, who isn't these days. What made Corey special...what made Corey Corey...is that she never allowed her troubles to weigh her down. Like lifting weights, she used them instead to strengthen herself, to make herself and the world around her better for them."

"Corey was strong. And not just physically, though...that was definitely true as well. It was...easy to feel small next to her. And yet she....always had a way of making you feel like....like more than you were. Of taking that inner strength of hers, and passing it over....lending it where needed. She did it through stepping up against what she found unjust, in....taking a stand for others and...speaking words of reassurance and comfort. Always like it was the simplest thing for her. Like she always had plenty of her strength to share. Because she did."

"Without that strength, I know I...wouldn't be here today. Likely, I wouldn't be in Monroe at all. And...definitely, I would not have made it to the...the position I now hold. Her strength carried me through some of the darkest moments in my life. Literally and figuratively. And I never-..." Her voice falters. She averts her gaze to gather herself, and there's still a shake in it when she continues. "...never really, truly, got to tell her just how much of a difference she made for me, personally. Just by being who she was, and...being right where she was needed. It's...a regret I'll carry for the rest of my life."

She clears her throat again. Having hardly looked up as she spoke, she begins to do so now - the hesitation leaving her voice by measures. "But...I'm determined to make her memory not one of regrets, but of comfort and joy. The...far too rare and short joys we experience in our lives. Her memory, to me, is one of sitting by the warmth of an old stove when the cold rages outside, of sharing food and company in the inn, of laughing at the...the absurdities of our daily lives, and finding each other when those absurdities became too heavy to bear alone."

She looks up finally, her voice still quietly soft, but with earnest. "Corey Jackson was the kind of person you never forget. And...for the short part of her life that I was in it, I was privileged. I aspire to go on in her memory, sharing with others the strength she once gave me. Like it's the simplest thing. Because it should be. And because I believe that's what she would have wanted." She finishes in a near whisper, and closes with "Thank you."

In the silence that follows, she relinquishes her place in front to whoever else would like to speak, stepping back to stand next to Alfred. He offers his seat, she shakes her head, he makes an insistent gesture, and she finally takes it.

Levi leans his head forward, looking around the room. His bends down so Marcie alone could hear him. He whispers something in her ear, smiling and standing back up.

...Terry's words definitely had an effect on Max, for better or for worse. She's now quietly crying into her hands.

Terry looks over at Max, sitting next to her now that she's taken Alfred's seat. She looks definitely worried that it was for worse.

Max is just a whole mess of emotions all around.

She looks down with a look of shared grief.

Nat looks down at the floor solemnly

Marcie lets out a quiet huff, stifling a small laugh. Wasn't loud. Hopefully didn't get too many glances.

Max definitely doesn't notice.

Liliana sat primly upon her seat unless called. Perhaps for those that knew Lili's and Corey's contentious history, it would not be so surprising.

Texas continues to dwell in the background, away from pesky eyes in order not to be seen crying. If he even is. Granted, he did find a chair to sit on.

Nat looks around the room, trying to figure out if anyone else was taking their turn to speak at the moment

The floor is open, if Nat is interested. Kaari is murmuring something to Gerald, so she might have some plan, but she's clearly not in a rush.

Nat takes a second looking around the room, confirming that nobody was going to get up, before standing, and slowly walking to the front of the room, trying to fix their blazer, and their eyepatch.

When they arrive, Nat looks around the room for a few seconds before clearing their throat. "I......" Nat trails off before taking a deep breathe. "I didn't know Corey long... I don't know if I knew her that well to begin with..." Nat trails off muttering something to themselves. "When I got reassigned to the CPF outpost just outta town, Corey was there for me, she was there for Max. When I broke my leg and then hurt it more tryin' ta carry Carrie out of there, Corey was the one to show up with her horse and help take us back to town."

"When I heard Max and Corey got engaged, I was extremely happy for the both of them, and now...." Nat pauses again "I don't know. To tell the room the truth, this entire situation was just fucked." Nat said "I... I wont go into detail. I will say that 2-15 doesn't forget our fallen. And that..."

Nat takes another breath "Corey n' I had something in common. Carl Miller had murdered those who were close to us." Nat pauses for a second before muttering "Fuckin' Miller..." and raising their voice again. "I guess I have another reason to put a bullet in that cunt, for everyone he's fucking hurt.. Corey included."

Terry looks up at Nat from her vantage at the back of the stage. By now, tears have streaked her cheeks. She doesn't seem to pay it any mind, but only listens.

"Corey, Benedict, Alferez, The people of Monroe, The people of Pittsford and Fairpoint. Corey's father..." Nat trails off after than. "My father..."

Some tears start coming in from Nat's good eye, but they are quick to wipe it off.

Max looks up as well, but her tears definitely haven't stopped. She wipes her face against her sleeve, sniffling.

"I wasn't lacking in reasons to kill those psychos, but..." Nat says "Corey... wherever the fuck you are, I hope you're fuckin' smiling down on us. Maybe havin' a beer or somethin' with St. Peter." Nat pauses to take another long breathe. "When my time is done Corey... save me a beer." Nat steps back from the podium and heads back to their seat.

Nobody else seems to be moving towards the stage, so Kaari mumurs something to Gerald and steps up gracefully. "Hello, I talk now. My name is Kaari'nai and I know of Corey some, but I do not much .. mmmph .. word is .. recognize? Yes, I did not much recognize her." Kaari frowns, looking at the people with almost a pout. "You all look lots the same to me so some of the times I am confused for which is the person." Gerald buries his face in his hands, but Kaari doesn't seem to notice, forging on.

"Corey and Max, they is always together like someone takes the sutures to them. For weeks when I am first here, I know them only as Corey-and-Max. Two peoples but one name. I think I only start to learn of which is Corey and which is Max because Max comes to the clinic again and again with lacerations and punctures and contusions and embedded foreign objects and some of the time those objects are bullets and some of the time they are not and I have to fix her again and again so she does not die."

"It is .. mm .. maybe the second time I think that I do this? Maybe it is the third. But Corey comes to the clinic this night. And I think, oh, she must come to ask for me to fix Max again. Maybe Max is shot. Again. But this is not so. Corey comes to the clinic only for to thank me for fixing and fixing and fixing Max." Her expression turns quizzical. "And I am very confused from this. Because this is what I do, to fix people. Help is what I do. I do not understand the why of the thanks."

"But for Corey, it is important that I understand. She explains, careful and slow because then I am still learning the English. I am not good at it then like my good now." A little pride slips into her voice. "But Corey explains that she is full of thanks from how very much important Max is to her. She talks on and on and on of how important Max is to her. Aaand maybe halfway through, I am thinking to learn English is maybe a bad idea."

"But from her talking, I did learn a thing," she admits somewhat hesitantly. "I .. treat many many patients. Long ago, when I am learning of medicine in the hospital, I treat more patients than I have numbers for. All of the times, all of the days. When there is so many patients, then the patients are .. different from people. They are not people. Patients are only diagnosis, treatment, prognosis. When there is so many numbers of patients, then patients is only numbers."

"I .. did not know that I see them like this. Until Corey talks to me of how happy she is that I fix Max. Not a patient, not a number. Max. Corey teach me that patients are names and not numbers. I think that is good to learn. I will thank Corey for to teach me this."

"For the other thing Gerald says, of the coping. He teach me the song and I do not know what all of the words mean, but the words I know are good." Her face twists like she tasted something sour. "Gerald sings like a horse that gives birth, though. Maybe he is not good at songs, but the songs he chooses is good. It is to go home, and I like this."

"My mother's mother teach that people are three things; ayipiyé, ayói, and oregaté. Reason, skin, and spirit. When you die, your reason," she says tapping on her head, "dies too. Your skin is eaten by the land or the ocean. All then you have left is the spirit, and that travels on the long road to the world of spirits. You live there much is the same as this world, but it is more .. pure? Pure, maybe."

"My people have ways to reach the spirit world, to ask family gone for help. But I do not think they answer much because they have spirit things to do! And we are grown people, adults who should solve our own problems. But when I die, my spirit will also go to the spirit world and I will join my family again and I will have many many stories to tell them." She nods to herself in affirmation. "For me, death is not a thing to be afraid or to be sad from. The dead are not far away and the only thing to miss from the dead is they are no longer here to help with the cooking."
" .. that is all I have to say," she says awkwardly after a moment, sliding back into Gerald's shadow.

Terry's face goes through interesting expressions, occasionally raising a brow or furrowing in concentration in her effort to understand Kaari through her thick accent and interesting syntax. Yet her face soon settles, softens as her gaze deepens in agreement with many of the sentiments that Kaari's speech is based in.

She nods a bit to herself in short contemplation, then raises her gaze to look to the gathering, seeing if anyone else is stepping up.


...By this point, Max is downright sobbing. She tries her best to keep it down, though, so that she doesn't end up interrupting anyone.

Seeing no one else move to take the stage, Terry looks over at Gerald.
 

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Gerald nods and takes the stage again. " .. I thank you all for your words and the memories you shared, and I ask now if there are any who would help me to lift Corey to her final resting place." He stands by the casket, resting a hand on the handles.

Max rises, though there's still some tears streaming down her cheeks. "I-I'll help."

Terry rises slowly a little after Max, and doesn't say anything, but the look she gives Max and then the casket shows that she's ready to help too.

After some silence from the crowd, Marcie pushes her self off the wall and silently starts making her way towards the front of the meeting hall, eyes trained on the group up front.

Texas finally stepped out from his little corner, willing to help, even with one arm. He must have dried up the tears in a hurry 'cuz his eyes are still puffy.

Good lord, this will require some forethought. Gerald makes sure that Texas, Terry, and Max are all on appropriate sides of the casket for their .. distinctive disadvantages. At least Marcie has both her arms, right?

Max has a prosthetic! She's perfectly capable of helping to carry the casket.

Terry is a lefty and Texas is a righty.

Marcie is undisabled.

Lili watches them scramble to put correct sided arms on correct handles.

Levi sighs and follows behind Marcie. Emotional support is apart of his job in some degree. — Noelle pats Alyssa to let her up as she moves over to the casket. She places her hand on it and softly whispers, “I promised Max I’d get the two of you down the isle. Just didn’t think it’d be like this.” And with that, Noelle helps as well.

Ouch.

Even Marcie feels that.

Gerald murmurs his thanks to each, and at a nod the volunteer pallbearers lift in unison to carry the casket out of the meeting hall in solemn procession, with the gathered attendees trailing along behind. The graveyard is conveniently located next to the hall, and a pyre of stacked logs sits on an unused lot. Kaari has already beaten them there, joined by three women in matching dark dresses with lit candles in their hands. Kaari whispers to the shanghaied Refuge choir and they start to sing as the procession arrives to set the casket down upon the mound of lumber and kindling.
Their voices become the backdrop to the further proceedings, as Gerald takes an unlit torch from a collection laid out nearby. He addresses the mourners yet again, holding his torch high. "We commit our friend, Corey Jackson, to her final rest. As she brightened our lives and warmed our spirits, may we find solace in bidding her farewell to this world. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

He walks to the choir and holds out the torch. Kaari graciously reaches out with her candle to light the torch without pausing in her singing, and Gerald carries it to the pyre. He murmurs something to the coffin before setting his torch against the pyre it rests upon. The kindling was stacked such that it burns slowly at first; with each added torch, the flame would spread. Several of the funeral-goers have caught on, collecting a torch of their own to light and add to the pyre with their own personal farewells.

The song is like an hour long though but please don't make Kaari sing that long.

After setting the coffin down, Terry steps back a bit to allow Gerald to say the words. She waits for a bit behind the procession of torch-bearers and setters, stepping along with them after a little while. As it is her turn to set her torch, she does so with a mumble that can't be heard - but it's short, the keen eye able to watch her lips form into a simple "I'm sorry."

Max goes after Terry. Her grip on the torch isn't the most steady, but she manages. She speaks as well, but her words are far more audible. "I-I love you, Corey. More'n anything... A-And I'll see ya again one day. I promise."

This is...very old fashioned. Probably older than even before things changed. As they set the coffin down, Marcie shuffles back, away from the coffin and merely watches as they begin setting it ablaze.

Noelle moved behind Alyssa, wrapping her arms around her and resting her head against hers to hide her tears. Levi has respectfully moved aside as well.

The lack of information of how such things work became irrelevant for Texas. He just did what everyone else did. Following after Max, Texas lit up his own torch and added it to the pyre while struggling to find out what to say in this moment. "...I never got the chance to tell you I got better."

Gerald stands watch as the flame builds with each parting. The townspeople who knew the deceased offer their own contribution as they file past; simple goodbyes, apologies, promises, and unvoiced regrets. One by one, they bid Corey farewell and depart for happier locales. Some pause to offer their condolences to Max or Terry, some thank Gerald on their way out. But soon, the graveyard has dropped from a small crowd of well-wishers to only a few last remnants to bear witness the blaze truly takes off. Kaari and the choir fall silent, and all that remains is the crackle of the bonfire. The funeral, such as it was, was over.

The next person who dies is getting dumped in an alley behind the pittsburger.

You did it too well, Gerald. Even our pet rocks are gonna have funerals now.

Liliana paused by the open grave on her way out. "...Terribly sorry it had to be this way, darling..." was what she offered, before adjusting her hat and veil and heading off to tend to the refreshments and drinks that would be on offer to the mourners. It was simply her way, best to keep one's intent firmly on the living.

Max is going to remain by the bonfire for a bit. She's said her goodbyes but she can't bring herself to leave yet. If there are things going on at the bar, she'll probably be there later.

Nat still sits silently, not really wanting to say anything more. They don't want to make things worse with Max, but also needs time to process

Levi’s following Lili out. Bye.

Noelle and Alyssa have not moved, quietly watching.

"And so it goes, and so it goes." the young woman murmurs, watching the flickering flames as ambers climb up into the sky. She hangs for a few minutes longer as folks shamble off, much like infected in of their own right. She slowly steps forward, pulling out a gold coin and flicking it into the flames.

Terry stays by the fire for a little while as well. After watching the flames in silent thought for a while, Alfred walks up to her and offers Terry her coat, which he then helps put on her. He really is more of a butler than a guard these days. Terry says her thanks to Gerald, gives a long and understanding look to Max, before both her and the aging guard make their slow way towards the inn.

Levi will call out for Marcie to join him. Since he owes her ass a drink.

Nat sits for a bit, waiting for the place to mostly empty, before walking up to the bonfire themselves and taking out their pack of cigarettes, Salem Brand of course, the only brand Nat smokes, and uses the bonfire to light the cigarette.

"Guess this is goodbye." Nat says, looking over their shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

Max is still sitting there, so she probably is.

She glances back towards the call, giving the flames one more glance. "Adieu." she tells the firey body before turning on her heels and making her way towards the bar. The gold coin melts rather quickly against the wood.

She takes out a cigarette herself, but she can light it with her prosthetic! The wonders of Coalition technology.

In that case, Nat would still try not to show emotion, and leaves, taking a drag of their cigarette.

Alyssa slowly approaches Max from behind, “Ms. Rutherford?”

Max was seemingly lost in her own thoughts, definitely not expecting anyone to address her. She's a bit startled, but cranes her neck back to face Alyssa nevertheless. "Uh--Y-Yeah...? Ya need somethin'...?"

Alyssa steps forward more so that Max can see her better. “I.. I never got the chance to thank you for helping me.. with my sister. Especially when you were going through this..”

Alyssa looks to the fire. “Noelle says that when I was a baby, funerals were like this all the time. And.. if that’s true, I want mine to be just like this. Everyone talking about how much they loved me.”

Her attention fell back on Max, “And I wanna be like you one day too. Strong enough to go through this. Noelle says you’re one of the strongest people she’s ever met. That you survive anything. Maybe one day you could teach me how to do it.”

Alyssa is holding something in her hands, extending it out to Max. “I’ve been learning how to sew. So, I made you this. It’s supposed to be a bear but.. it kinda looks more like a horse.” The doll is no bigger than the palm of Max’s hand and is made of different patchwork patterns stuffed with what can only be assumed to be pillow fluff.

Texas takes a moment before vanishing from the scene and back into his safe space fort.

For a while, Max just sort of... stares. Out of all the things Alyssa could have told her, she wasn't expecting that. Condolences, sure, but this was entirely unexpected. She takes the doll, looking it over briefly, and mutters, "I-I ain't sure I'm the one ya really wanna be aspirin' 'ta be like, kid, but... thanks. I 'ppreciate it. This shit ain't easy, 'n if I'm bein' honest with ya I can hardly even manage 'ta keep it together. If I weren't for the others in my unit, 'n Terry, I'd prob'ly be back on my bullshit already 'cause I just--... I-I can't deal with this shit..." She lets out a shaky sigh. "I-I don't wanna bother ya with all that, though. Tell yer sister I told her thanks, too, yeah...?"

“When Jack died, Noelle wasn’t herself for a long time.” The memory seemed to be hard for the teen as she took in a deep breath, “I don’t think she actually came out of her room for like a month or something. I just remember she got really skinny and Dad was worried. But, one day she came out. On her own. And little by little, I got my sister back. So.. I guess what I’m trying to say is that um.. don’t make yourself be better if you aren’t ready to be because a lot of people are here for you when you are. Some stuff just takes time.” Alyssa chewed the inside of her lip.

“Noelle says she could do with being a little more like you. I think I could too.” The girl looked over her shoulder at her awaiting sister.

“I should go. But.. yeah.. that’s all.” She gave her a gentle smile.

"...yeah." It's unclear if Alyssa's words really had much of an affect on Max. "I'll, uh--... see ya around."

And the child bounces off to her sister.

The day wears on and the sun begins to set, casting long shadows across the graveyard and the reverend standing vigil. The pyre burns down to the embers, and in its place is left a solitary marker of cold stone:

Corey Jackson
April 17, 2003 - January 1, 2030
Daughter, Friend, lover.
Stubborn as all hell,
but a heart like no other.
Never truly gone.

 
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