May 30, 2003
I know. Y'all are gonna think this is all I ever do, right? Well okay, so right now that's not far from the truth. I keep meaning to post and fill everyone in on the crap that is my real life right now, but I just don't have the heart. So instead, you get more MUSH logs.
This scene was fun. A lot of fun. Set about four or five months before this scene, my partner in crime,
Is it an unlikely moment? Is it really? Has he ever seen her strip so casually in front of anyone else? If anyone else is around? Has anyone else gotten the same teasing displays of flesh, the same mischievous grins, like a child pushing her limits to see what she can get away with? In truth, she's been pushing and pushing him towards this, ever since...
And what a turning point it turned out to be. I have to admit, as much as I adore all the RP I'm doing right now, this particular bit gives me a lot of the same rush that novel-writing does. So, two excerpts from the conversation in New Orleans.
The two of them are a study in opposites in nearly every respect. She's dressed as casual as casual gets, and he looks exactly like what he is: a hired thug in an expensive suit and mirrored sunglasses. She finds life and vitality in New Orleans, but he finds exactly the opposite, for many reasons. He wants to relax, but it's just not an option.
Samantha's a smart girl. She's been around him long enough to know what he's like, even when he's at his most alert, his most poised. And she knows that a city street, even this one, even now, isn't call for this sort of sharpness, this sort of attitude. She studies him for a long, long time, perhaps gauging the best way to approach him, or even if she should approach him about it at all.
The words bring Karl up short, and this, thankfully, keeps him from stepping in the steaming exhaust from one of the horse-drawn carriages. He carefully takes a step back, onto the curb, and turns to look at Sam, a kind of thoughtful evaluation in his gaze that has nothing at all to do with protecting her.
Placid eyes, calmer than he's used to seeing them, not crackling with stage-energy, not flashing with impassioned anger, just... calm, brown-green like river water, simply watching his face, watching him come to a decision. It's clear that his words surprise her, drawing that arched eyebrow once again. "Dying? Parts of it, sure. All cities go through cycles, really. New Orleans, I think, tends to celebrate its deaths a little more, recognizes the passings... mourns, then rebuilds."
"I haven't," he replies, dutifully following in her footsteps, finding a bench for them. Mildly annoyed at the fact that there's no wall he can put their backs to, no single entrance he can face, he resigns himself to doing a lot of head-turning.
If he had grown a second head that started spouting Esperanto, she could have hardly been less surprised. Would have been less surprised, in fact. She's seen two-headed Esperanto-spouting creatures before. The less said about that the better. She regards him for a long moment. It's not that she doesn't understand what he just said, it's that /he/ said it. That alone means she needs a moment to recoup. Miss All Up In Arms about environmental issues missed something. "I didn't know that," she admits, and it /costs/ her to admit that. Not because he apparently knows something she doesn't, but because she honestly loves this city. It's like being told that an old family friend has cancer.
The candid admission is disarming, and it takes a lot of the wind out of his bellows. He's silent for a time, listening to the haunting music, which greets his ears like a funeral dirge. He doesn't quite look at Samantha, instead looking around him with eyes that are no longer cataloguing threats and assessing dangers. Instead, they're pinpointing guilt for the spots of disease on the elms, wondering how many heavy metals and waste are sitting in the pools of water on the cobblestone streets, waiting to be washed into the delta with the rain runoff. "When you hired me, I told you I had a college degree. I didn't tell you it was a Masters in Environmental Engineering. I was workin on my thesis when they passed a whole bunch of shit legislation here in the late nineties, and it was big news in class. It's all about reclamation and restoration, finally owning up to the fact that we've spent the last two hundred years fucking this place up. Except that some pencilnecks got the arrogance to think they can turn back the clock and stop the river and the sea from eating this city alive. They can't."
Samantha knows that feeling though, that helplessness. Her hands may not be powerful weapons, but they flex that exact same way whenever she considers the social injustice that still constantly raises its head in this, the supposedly most civilized of nations.
The thunder catches her attention for a second as well, before she flashes him a grin. "I see. So a suit only keeps you from changing disposable diapers? What about cloth ones?" She raises her hand, "Wait, don't tell me. Polluting the ground water with the run off it takes to launder them, not to mention the electricity and detergents in the water..." Okay, so she's ribbing him. A little. It's just nice to find out that she's not the only one with weird little fixations and obsessions.
She is indeed teasing, and he's not going to rise to the bait this time. Instead he considers her offer. It's not really even an offer; they'd have to find someplace to duck into to get out of the rain, and it'll be here before they could walk back to the hotel. And as if on cue to his thoughts, the rain arrives like a crescendo, announcing its presence with the kind of suddenness only a Southern summer storm can. Raindrops the size of gumballs, it seems, in sheets that cut visibility to a few dozen feet.
Samantha's laugh is bright, almost child-like, sounding for all the world like a kid who's just been told that recess is going to be fifteen minutes longer. She has no dignity to speak of, or at least, none that she ever really worries about. As the rain pounds down between the elm trees, she leaps up from the bench, impulsive, as sudden as the arrival of the storm itself. Arms outstretched, her face turned into the torrent, she spins in a circle, laughing as the rain soaks through the rainbow of her hair, soaking the light summer clothes and molding them to her.
There is power in rain, Karl knows, and life. Destructive as the forces of erosion may be, they are still a part of the cycle, and for any toxic by-products the fault lies not with the rain, but with the men who put the toxins in its path. Watching Samantha's rain dance, it occurs to him, and not for the first time, that she really is a force of nature. She is primal in some way, and she exhales life the way a tree exhales oxygen.
It's not so different from the way she dances onstage, really. There's nothing planned to it, very little training. Hell, in this case, the only music is the hiss of the rain, the occasional percussion of thunder. The old chestnut about dancing like nobody's watching applies here. Her movements punctuated by laughter, as the worst of the cloudburst passes, slowing to drizzles, she finally comes back to the bench, collapsing, panting but invigorated. The smile on her face is damn near post-coital, satisified and relaxed.
Karl looks like a drowned rat, and he wasn't even the one dancing. No, not a rat--maybe a wombat, or a badger, or something equally nasty. The stoic way he holds himself, back straight, is really unsuited to how drenched he is, tongues of black hair licking at his forehead and chin dripping. He smiles for a moment, a rare ray of sunlight from him, and replies, "I ain't gotta answer that, do I?" The words are flippant, but there is no judgment behind the pale gray of his eyes.
In another impulsive movement, she reaches up and catches the hair on his forehead under her fingers, pushing it back with a decisive motion so it doesn't drip into his face. It isn't a particular gentle touch, just an automatic, unthinking response to visual stimuli. It's also the first thing she's ever touched him in some manner that wasn't strictly business-related.
There passes, at that moment, a charge between them that rivals the natural light show nature put on for them just minutes before. Karl knows it, and he knows she knows it. It causes him to freeze rigidly for the space of a few heartbeats as expression slips away from his face, as he wonders what the fuck just happened.
I know. I needed another set of characters to fixate on like I need another hole in my head. But... they're just so COOL!
May 28, 2003
I don't usually post scene logs, but one of the scenes I played yesterday was cool enough that I feel compelled to share. Not, I have to note, that the other scenes I've done lately haven't been insanely cool, but there's a sense of novelty to this one, both in how it was written and how it came about. I'd been talking to a player on Shangrila for ages, and we finally decided to do a scene together, but instead of using existing characters on the MUSH, we both dragged out older MUSH characters and threw them together.
Heh. So some of you might recognize Samantha, my old CoX mage character.
The coolest thing about this, to me, is how little setup we did beforehand. Samantha's been getting threatening letters from a fan, and Karl is her ever-increasingly more paranoid bodyguard. (All similarities to a Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner movie are completely coincidental.) Oh. And this being Shang, there's sexual tension as well. So anyway, here's the first half of the scene, cut-tagged for your enjoyment.
/I hate this part,/ Karl thinks, the words written plain on his face for a few moments before he once more governs his expression. He peers intently into the crowd, unseasonal sunglasses sparing him from the glare of the light show, watching with trained eyes for what he hopes will never happen. /The hell with a gun, or even a knife. Most of these assholes are wearing enough sharp things on their wrists to gash a hole in her throat if she keeps doing that hand-pressing PR shit they love./ The thoughts are unpleasant, but necessary, and often they're one of the few things keeping him from rushing out there and dragging her off the stage.
By the end of every show, Samantha is invariably wrung out and exhilarated at the same time. An hour and a half of pure, insane, vital energy, alternating between pogoing around the stage and drawing in the crowd with impassioned speeches between songs, heart and soul poured out to educate, to enlighten, as well as to entertain. The last encore's always her favorite, and least favorite part of the show. Ending on a blistering cover of "Killing in the Name Of", Sam feels the overpowering rush of hearing an auditorium full of kids chanting/screaming with her, "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me!" Hair flying in a damp rainbow about her head, she thrashes as the guitarist flies through the last few riffs, then drops to her knees onstage, panting as the crowd cheers.
It takes effort, as always, to watch the crowd instead of her. She's a force of nature, terrible in beauty, like a tornado that founts poetry instead of splintered buildings and a dilapidated Chevy. /And aren't we in a surreal mood,/ he muses, checking his concentration. He doesn't relax until she's off the stage and out of sight, and even then he goes before her, rounding the corners that lead to the dressing room with a wary eye. "Sam, I got a question," he says, running his fingers through his short-cropped black hair as if he expected to find answers in it. "Does you /have/ to get so fuckin close to 'em every time? You was close enough to kiss that one guy, an' I think he coulda impaled you on his hair." There's no antagonism behind the words, just a sense of profound weariness--they've been over this ground before, and the disagreement has only intensified since the threats began.
It's the same old argument all right, but Sam's high enough from the crowd's energy not to be annoyed, not even this can drag her down right now. She laughs, still a little breathless from her performance, watching the shape of his back as he pulls point duty, making sure no wannabe assassin lurks around corners. He can hear the wicked grin in her voice, the teasing sound, "Karl, what bothers you more, that I was close enough to that kid that he could've hurt me or that I was close enough to kiss him?" Pausing just a second to let that sink in, she chuckles. "They're payin' good money for a show. I can't hang back behind a barricade and shut myself away from 'em. That's not the message, and that's not me. You know that. Besides," she adds, a little of the teasing draining away from her voice, "nobody's gonna get to me while you're on the job." Still teasing a little, sure, but there's a strong sense of trust there too.
The first barb sinks in, finds flesh, and won't let go--not until the mollifier she adds afterwards takes hold. His face is stony through both, but it can't remain so for long--her mood is infectious, and she's still one of the only ones who can break Karl out of his on-the-job reticence. "Yeah, yeah," he says, waving his hand as he shuts the door behind them, throwing fast a series of locks that would've impressed the Lone Gunmen. "S'how it works, ain't it. I keep you from gettin capped, an' all I needs is someone to keep me from havin a friggin heart attack every time I think you're gonna go crowd surfin." He takes off the suit jacket and hangs it on a nearby coat rack, the antique wood looking as if it'd break under anything more weighty than a necktie. The straps of his shoulder holster hug his chest and back like a sinuous black snake, a snake with no eyes and a single deadly mouth. He performs his usual ritual of checking the same loads he checked an hour and a half ago before replacing it, talking all the while in a slightly gentler voice. "Look Sam, we been over this. I knows you got a job to do. But I got one too. You don't wanna lose sleep over the shit I dream up--an' lately, I ain't gotta dream it up, not after the last letter." He worries about her. That's plain enough, and perhaps it's bordering on obvious that he worries more than a bodyguard should. But he's worked for her for a very long time, and there are some things that don't need to be spoken. You don't talk about the air, you just breathe.
"Hey," Sam grins, picking up a towel from the cluttered vanity with its series of blinding lights around the mirror thankfully turned off, and starts to wipe her face, never bothering with much makeup on stage for just that reason, "I haven't gone crowd-surfing since that time in Santa Barbara, remember? I keep my promises. How was I supposed to know what was gonna happen?" Teasing him again, trying to make another incident with an overzealous fan into a simple misunderstanding. She sobers a bit at the mention of the letter, dropping the towel back down on to the vanity before starting towards the screen blocking off one corner of the room. Of course, she starts pulling off the tank top well before she gets there, a glimpse of bare back broken only by the fall of her hair and the thin white material of a sports bra, the image soon vanishing behind lacquered wood. Safely hidden, she calls, "There any more leads on how they got the letter into the dressing room at all?"
Karl is thankfully spared the necessity of replying until after she's concealed--he's not sure what his voice might've done if she'd put him on the spot while pulling off her shirt like she did in Denver. "None," he replies, once he's confident his reactions are under control. Aside from certain involuntary ones, that is; fortunately his face and voice are once more a businesslike mask of calm. "But this is Texas we're talkin about. Everyone an' their cousin had keys to that room, an' sometimes they're the same people. Fuckin Texas." The sounds of rustling clothes are, as usual, an exquisite kind of torture. The screen was a concession; the first time, she started to strip in his presence, and then he nearly /did/ have a heart attack. He can still remember the sight of her bared chest, her expression half impish, half surprised at his own reaction as she started to hook her thumbs under the waistband... /stop that, damnit!/ he chastises himself, lost in the visualization that the sounds in the room bring. Aware that he's been silent for a few moments, he adds, belatedly, "But we're workin on it. An' if I finds the sonovabitch who did it..." It's an unspoken threat, but a curiously vacant one; nobody in the band has ever seen Karl use any more force than absolutely necessary--usually his presence alone is enough to make people think twice about crossing the line.
Just to make things a little worse--and is that deliberate, or is she just that unaware?--she peeks around the side of the screen, bare shoulders and arms draped against the wood, still largely modest, but just barely. An imaginative person might think they could see the curve of a breast silhouetted behind a lock of blond and purple hair. "You'll find them," she says confidently, giving him a smile just now starting to fray around the edges, the exhaustion starting to tear through the post-show euphoria. Mercifully, she retreats, Cheshire-cat-like, and after a few more moments of torturous rustling she reappears in a perfectly ordinary, almost boring, flannel robe, wrapped and pulled tight around her body. She sighs a bit. "The promoters weren't happy about me skipping out on the after parties on this leg of the tour, you know." She smiles wryly. "We need to find the bastard writing the letters if for no other reason so that I can get on their good side again."
Karl responds with an anatomically impossible suggestion for the promoters that would likely only be possible with the assistance of the expensive Cross pens on their desks. In the moments where she peeked out, she'd be treated to a brief glutch in his expression, a sudden rush of shit to the heart, and it still recurs every now and then. "Still, business is business," he goes on, pulling out a chair for her in front of the large mirror. "I been thinkin that mebbe what we needs is a trap. We're comin up on Seattle soon, an' I knows a guy at the Paramount who'd be willin to take a bribe if I told him what it was for."
Sinking gratefully into the chair, Sam picks up a hairbrush and starts trying to undo the worst of the tangles brought on by sweaty hours of thrashing, jumping, writhing around on stage. "Darlin', you know somebody in /every/ town," she grins up at him, hazel eyes shading to green in her mischief. "It's enough to make a girl wonder, really." Then she gets distracted, finding a particularly difficult snarl, blue, green, and gold twisted into a hell of a knot. She leans over, spilling her hair off to the side in her efforts. Of course, in the meantime that also exposes the clear white line of her neck, arched and extended, and what it does to the V-opening of the robe is enough to make a lesser man cry. Still, she seems unconcerned, unaware, just a woman brushing her hair. It would take an awfully perceptive person to pick up the slight air of tension rippling around her like heat waves. Perceptive, or someone who just knew her well.
Fortunate, then, that Karl isn't a lesser man. He is, however, a man who's been pushed to the very edges of his limits, and on many levels. More than once during this tour he's had to flex his hands to keep from wrapping them around some asshole fan's throat, and while nobody saw him do it, the boy who tried to grab Samantha while she was signing autographs got more than he bargained for--Karl hadn't really meant to break his finger, it was just a lack of calcium. Similarly, that really is a roll of dimes in his slacks. Standing behind her, he finds himself in a position both merciful and torturous; she can't see him except in the mirror, and even then only above the waist.
Her hand is tiny in comparison. She's not a large woman; she's short and rounded and tough, tough enough to scare off all but the most determined freaks on her own--but she's not large. She stops moving for a second when his hand closes over hers, the spark that leaps almost an audible thing, a little 'pop' of tension in that moment, the moment before she relinquishes the brush. Looking up at the man behind her in the mirror, Sam slowly sits up, a hint of a smile ghosting on her lips. She pushes the still damp, unruly mass of hair to fall down her back once more, sitting very straight, very still. Her eyes never leave him, quiet, curious.
/Well, fuck, now you've stepped in it,/ goes the parade of thoughts behind Karl's eyes. There's actually a few moments of dead silence and stillness as possession of the brush transfers from one smaller hand to a larger one, a few eternal seconds in which his eyes meet her through the mirror, suddenly concealing nothing. He looks down at the brush in his hand, and at the tangle of hair, his heart beating double time in his chest. And then he takes up the knot in his off hand, knuckles grazing against the back of her neck as he feels for the bottom of the knot, easing the brush through the ends. Right. Brushing. How difficult can it be? Seen it done a million times before; just start at the bottom and work your way up. He can't look at her eyes now, and perhaps that's a blessing in disguise, for it keeps that flare from starting up in his gut again. Except now he has to contend with the sight of the back of her neck, the expanse of pale skin revealed by her robe, and the tingle every time his hand brushes up against her neck or shoulder.
The unfortunate thing about him being so close behind her, in such close proximity to her neck, is that he can likely see the flutter of her pulse beating against her neck like a panicked, caged bird. No matter how impassive she might be able to keep her face, how still and schooled her expression--/Yup, this is ordinary, people brush my hair all the time/--the pulse gives her away. The tension radiates from her now, a fine thrum of nerves, the simple act of his powerful fingers patiently working through her hair, tugging it against her scalp, building up into something far more intimate, far more erotic, than she might have been ready to face.
If Karl sees these things, if he notices the quickening of her pulse or the closeness of her scent, the sweat of exertion and fading euphoria--he tries very hard to keep a lid on it. It begins to show in the occasional tremble of his hands. Despite their size, they're surprisingly nimble, as if trained to far more delicate work than breaking faces or being a human riot shield. Inexpertly but patiently he weaves them into her hair, loosening the knots and tangles and eventually using his fingers far more than the brush as he discovers they're more versatile for the task of detangling. Minutes pass in silence, and Karl becomes aware that the tangle she'd been worrying at is long gone, and he's been simply finger-combing her hair, his fingertips raking lightly along her scalp. It gives him pause, a brief flare of panic on his face as his hands hesitate. /Oh, smooth. How long have I been doing that? Never mind, if I have to ask myself, it's been too long./
The first she realizes that things have changed from a simple hair brushing to something else entirely, is when he hesitates. He might have gone on for hours, the soothing motion lulling her into a drowsy-eyed trance, and Sam would have never noticed, never thought anything was amiss--until that moment's hesitation. That moment of hesitation, followed by the deliberate, slow way he resumes running his fingers through her hair, makes her eyes close. She can't hide it. She can't stop it. Somewhere a door just closed--or maybe opened.
Once again, there's a moment of hesitation, a stunned pause in which all time and motion stop, leaving only the evanescent sense of connection where her skin touches his, holds his. He doesn't trust his voice, nor his face, and especially not his eyes--not after that brief eye contact in the mirror before. He doesn't look up, and fixates instead on her slim hand around his, the swarthiness of his skin a striking contrast to her paleness. Vaguely, distantly, he's aware that something important has changed; a line in the sand has been crossed, and if he retreats back across it, he'll die. Or wish he had.
A gasp tears itself from her throat before she can think to control it. The sound, while actually quite soft, sounds like a thunderclap in the stillness of the room. Her spine stiffens, the hair on her head, the hair his hand still curls around, nearly tries to stand straight up on her scalp, galvanized by that single, simple, composure-rending kiss.
The first sigh is like a warning cry, cautioning Karl that perhaps he might've pushed the limits, triggering the remaining shreds of duty in him and causing them to stand up and yell: What the hell do you think you're doing? It's a simple rule. You don't get involved. You don't get attached. And you sure as hell don't fuck the person you're protecting.
The worst thing is, now I wanna know what happens next. Or maybe that's the best thing, I dunno.
May 17, 2003
Finally a purity test for the rest of us...
Ultimate Roleplaying Purity Score
Will kill for XP
|Sensitive Roleplaying||16.46% |
There is no player. There is only.... Zuul.
|GM Experience||44.93% |
Puts the players through the wringer
|Systems Knowledge||90.54% |
Played in a couple of campaigns
|Livin' La Vida Dorka||47.13%|
Has interesting conversations in public
|You are 55.99% pure|
Average Score: 65.6%
May 10, 2003
Warning, game heavy stuff
So, Thursday night, in
Afterwards, I mentioned that she was going back to her dorm room, and made a joke about her having a "sad Slayer montage". (If you've watched many episodes of BtVS, you know exactly what I mean.) As a group, we jumped on that, and spent several minutes detailing the shots and images. It stuck with me, so I decided to try and write it up, a la the campaign trailers I've been doing. (Also, for the truly interested, Charity's in character journal entry about the whole thing can be found here.)
MUSIC: "Do What You Have to Do", Sarah McLachlan (lyrics here)
FADE IN: Fight. Sounds of Mel yelling. Charity plunges a stake into Zach's chest, who promptly dusts (although not the cool dust effect, as has been pointed out, this is only first season).
MEL: He would have just kept coming after us.
CHARITY: I know.
MEL: He was already dead.
CHARITY: I know.
Charity turns and walks away as the music starts. She walks through the darkened Ann Arbor streets as the opening lyrics are heard, "What ravages of spirit conjured this temptuous rage, created you a monster broken by the rule of love..."
Interspersed with a pensive Slayer walking the streets, in flashbacks, are various shots: The girls meeting Zach and Max on moving day, Zach asking Oriel out--repeatedly, always emphasizing Zach, the loner, not quite part of the group. Zach, the day of the truth spell, trying to ask out every girl on the hall. Zach, vamp face, moving through the tunnels under town. ("Fate has led you through it, you do what you have to do...")
By the end of the first verse/beginning of the second verse ("I have the sense to recognize that I don't know how to let you go..."), Charity reaches her dorm. Reaching the top of the stairs, she pauses, glancing at Max's door--should she go in and tell him? She turns away with the lyrics, "The yearning to be near you, I do what I have to do..." As she turns, the scene flashes on Zach's death again: stake plunging in, Zach's startled face, then dust.
Charity's room. The girls seem to be asleep at first, but Charity sees that Oriel is awake. The music fades after another repetition of "I don't know how to let you go."
CHARITY: Zach won't be bothering you anymore.
Oriel looks back for a moment, wordlessly nods. Is it possible she understands? Music comes back up on a repetition of "I know I can't be with you; I do what I have to do..." Close shot on Charity's face, cherry red hair like a stain against her pillowcase. A shaft of light from the window catches her expression at a slant, sorrowful but trying hard to be resolute, as the music repeats, "I don't know how to let you go..." Finally the song ends with no real resolution, it just stops, feeling unfinished.
I love gaming angst, I do.