Win Hands Down

Win Hands Down

Heavy metal's not the job to make your fortune, but if you have the passion and a bit of guts, there's no better way to go. [Full]

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Introduction

With boots on ground
Win hands down!
A giant sound,
Win hands down!
Just maintain
Then drop the reins
And place my crown,
Win hands down!


-Armored Saint, "Win Hands Down"

Summer 2010. Baltimore, Maryland. In the midst of this hot and smelly city, you and your band head into the Studio With No Name. You've been paying your dues for a while already, whether in this band or others. You're ready for evolution, you're ready for the breakthrough. The Good News: It's within your grasp. The Bad News: You gotta work for it. But you're young, scrappy, and hungry...and not alone.

Call it luck, call it fate, call it shitty booking practices, but there's another band in the Studio With No Name. They're like you, unproven, but ready to prove. Do you know them? Do you hate them? Do you care?

One thing's for sure. All of you have your shot. Are you going to throw it away or take it?

~~~~~~

So, out of character. This is a band RP, obviously. It's gonna be pretty small. We'll be having two quartets for the bands, and four players playing two characters each, one main and one side. The two bands are Sturm and Psychosis. Sturm is my group and Psychosis is Lonesome Matsuzaka's group, so PM us respectively if you're interested in discussing the band dynamic and genre for those bands.

Though this is based off previous RP's, we own all of the characters that we are reusing here. That is all. Look forward to seeing your profiles!

....

....

What are you still doing here?

Oh, you need the character skeleton. Right.

Code: Select all
[b]Full Name:[/b] (Character's full name including embarrassing names. Informal name should be in the "name" slot)

[b]Stage Name:[/b] (If any)

[b]Age:[/b] (22-42, approximately)

[b]Birthday:[/b] (Why not?)

[b]Appearance:[/b] (Would prefer description rather than simply slapping a faceclaim down here, though you can use an actor or drawing in the thumbnail, as I do. No animesque faceclaims. Please include some description of your character's outfit on and off-stage)

[b]Role:[/b] (This is two-fold. Firstly, is this character your main or your side? Secondly, what is this character's instrumental role in which band?)

[b]Musical Style:[/b] (Describe how your character plays here. Include their influences and level of instruction. Please keep this realistic; these characters are not virtuosos. Diversity is possible, but inversely proportional to skill level on any one instrument)

[b]Instruments:[/b] (Include the instruments the character plays primarily in the studio. Limit this to three instruments. Please use real instruments. Pictures are preferred for reference. For drums, describing the kit will work fine unless you happen to have a model kit. [b]If you need help with instruments, PM me or Lonesome Matsuzaka[/b])

[b]Personality:[/b] (The importance of this part cannot be overstated. This dictates how the character interacts. At least a good paragraph, please. Include character tics like an accent, a stammer, etc.)

[b]Biography:[/b] (This is also very important. Your character may have been a session musician before, or have been in bands previously. Describe all of that here and more: Their childhood, their adolescence, etc, leading up to when the RP starts. Try to be specific unless the character would not reveal a given piece of information. About a paragraph or two.)

Toggle Rules

1. Conduct yourselves in a civil manner when OOC. No slapfights. Personal conflict is to be resolved in PM. Conflict over characters' actions shall be arbited by Lonesome Matsuzaka or me, if that is necessary.

2. This is a literate RP. Please use proper rules of English grammar in narration and framing dialogue (dialogue may be ungrammatical as suits the character).

3. Overall I would prefer posts to be longer than 300 words. For dialogue with repeated short lines, I recommend collaborating to make a megapost, while sticking with one character's perspective, for ease of reading. If you take this route, please note so in OOC. If you prefer to have a post for each line of dialogue, I can relax the 300-word minimum, but don't overuse this.

4. The GM's shall act as GM's primarily to settle disputes. Primarily, we want to RP with y'all, so just be civil and we'll do likewise. By and large the plot will be character-driven.

5. For the sake of evenness, each player will have two characters. One of these will be your main, the other will be your side. Please play them accordingly.

6. Please have at least some familiarity with your character's main instrument and how music works in general. If you don't know theory that's OK, your character may not have to either.

7. This RP is rated PG-13 in terms of sexual content. Romance is permitted (and all but encouraged for plot's sake), but anything beyond "making out" should be taken to PM. As for language, no words are off-limits so long as they are fitting for the character and situation.

8. Work out all relationships with other members in the OOC topics provided or via PM. Please do not try to force any in-character relationships or statuses. The same applies to the bandmembers' intra-band roles; don't try to force (for example) that your character does all the writing unless you've discussed it previously.

9. As if it needs to be said, PLEASE HAVE FUN. The rules should be simple enough to follow and still have lots of fun! If you've read all of these rules, please put "Rock of Ages" somewhere in your character's profile.

The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 3 authors

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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#, as written by iCakez
For the briefest of moments, her cheeks flushed a pale shade of red. She had known Valentina for a while and knew that she didn’t have the most inviting and welcoming sort of personality. Still, her remark struck something in Ada and she realized that it had actually hurt. And it had been delivered in a monotone, which was unsettling. It had been easier to handle if Val had been angry with her and shouted at her instead. It hurt and angered Ada that Valentina looked away and did not meet her eyes. What did that mean? Did that mean the guitarist regretted what she said? She reminded herself that this woman was incredibly awkward in social situations, but that didn’t help her none. So instead of starting an argument or coming up with a clever retort, she decided to not let it ruin her night. Hell, it’d take a lot to ruin her mood when they’d had a few more drinks. Not to mention, that it might actually be incredibly dangerous to annoy Valentina right now. Ada took a sip of her beer and the red left her cheeks.

“Oh my, someone could do with some good-“ She muttered under her breath, but stopped abruptly. That was exactly the kind of comment she was supposed to refrain from. Ada shot Valentina a sideways glance and in a panic her mind raced to find something to say. “You can’t sit there and tell me life is oh so great and that it’s not fucking depressing. Being human is a condition that requires a little anesthesia.”

While that statement wasn’t particularly uplifting, it was very honest and exactly how Ada saw things. She shrugged and took another sip of her beer, raising an eyebrow. “Besides, we’re in a band because this,” she gestured to their surroundings, not really caring if Val was listening to her by now or if she was going to punch her with that empty bottle she had, “This ain’t enough.”

Having prepared herself for a few moments in awkward silence, Ada instead was slipped a napkin from the bartender as well as a drink. At first, she looked confused as the man did not reveal who it was from, but merely left it in front of her. She dragged it across the bar and placed it so she could see it and read what it said. “TRADE?” A smirk appeared on her face – it was obvious who it was from now. She hadn’t expected the napkin note. Ada didn’t even get the words out before the bartender placed a pen in front of her. She looked at him and though the man looked slightly amused he also looked tired of their note-passing. Ada bit her lip and didn’t write anything. Instead she stood up and turned to leave her seat at the bar.

Maybe someone dressed in L.B Johnson-era clothes might decide to approach Val while I go talk to this guy.

“You god damn kids…” Ada was pushed back into her seat. “Why does everything have to be so,” The man gestured wildly with his hands in front of her face, causing Ada to look very confused. She recognized him by smell and by his swaying. It was the man who’d been sitting next to the napkin guy. It was unsure whether he had actually found the bathroom or if he’d relieved himself in an alley.

“Umm.”

“No, don’t even st-“ The man waved his hands again and hiccoughed. “Start. I know, okay? I know how to say all the right things. I could pick up any woman.” More hand gestures, this time accompanied by twitches at the corner of the mouth. This man really smelled of alcohol and sweat. It made Ada wrinkle her nose.

“Listen, I was just on my wa-“

“I just don’t get why it’s that d-difficult. You should just get going!” He gestured from Ada to the napkin man and looked almost frustrated. “No effort involved anymore. He’s a good lookin’ fella, you’re good lookin’. The pair of ya.” He looked at Valentina and smiled. “The pair of those are good lookin’ too.” He gestured toward Ada’s chest.

Ada moved in her seat and began to turn her back toward the man. But as soon as she did, she felt a hand on her arm. His grip was tight and he probably couldn’t feel how hard he was squeezing her because of the levels of alcohol in his system. “Ow..” Her head whipped around. Ada wasn’t sure how drunk he actually was and if this was normal for him. He seemed like a regular and maybe this was just how he was when he got drunk.

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“That’s it?” Rick said, with not a little skepticism, and the corners of Izzie’s lips quirked ever so slightly into the faintest ghost of a smirk.

“Well,” she began again as folks began to clamber up to their feet. “That solo was ten different kinds of all over the place. Listening to poorly-executed improv is a kind of torture in my book.” Everybody had their off nights, though—and Ted had always been a talented improviser, going back to the Sturm&Drang days. Izzie, who had never been much of a lead guitarist anyway, would spend hours meticulously constructing each composition, making no compromises, hammering every piece out until it aligned note-for-note with what she was hearing in her head. And then Ted would walk in, limber up his fingers, and come up with leads for each composition on the fly. Really, you’d have thought it was a recipe for success.

“That guitar-bass interplay was a thing of beauty, though,” she allowed. “Just about makes up for putting me through the Naraka that was that solo.” She stood up, shrugging her jacket onto her shoulders as she did—she’d left it hanging over her chair—and finished, “You good to get going?”

.

.

.

Valentina stared down the neck of the bottle in her hands as intently as if she were trying to set its contents on fire. All the while, Ada talked—and Valentina pretended she wasn’t listening, that she was letting every word go in one ear and out the other. Didn’t matter. She’d said what she’d said. And she hoped what she’d said had hurt Ada’s feelings, too. She hoped the drummer had concluded that inviting Valentina out tonight had been a mistake. She hoped whatever had prompted her to think it was a good idea in the first place had been thoroughly crushed.

Eventually, Ada joined Valentina in her silence, which meant Valentina could stop pretending to ignore her, and commit some of the energy she’d been putting towards that into more important things, like worrying, and being generally unhappy. She lifted the bottle to her lips gingerly, as if she were handling a live bomb, and took a sip. Ada had been right—it certainly wasn’t the same as just downing the entire thing in one go. For one, she could actually taste the stuff now that she wasn’t acting on impulse. She swallowed, set the bottle down on the bar, stared back down at it again, and decided it tasted horrid. Was this considered good beer? Was there even such a thing as good beer? There had to be, Izzie drank beer. She tried to imagine the kind of beer Izzie would consider good—something with a really long German name, she decided, with a bunch of umlauts, brewed by monks in the remote mountains of Switzerland.

She glanced down at the label on her beer. ‘Budweiser’ probably wasn’t it.

Ada stood up beside her—Valentina heard her stool shift beneath her, saw her stand out of the corner of her vision—and for just a second, Valentina contemplated making a break for it. The prospect was dashed almost before she had a chance to really entertain it. For one, even this disaster of an evening wasn’t going to impel Valentina to walk ten miles back to her place. For another, Ada didn’t actually leave, depriving Valentina of her opening.

When the drummer plopped right back into her seat, a faint glimmer of curiosity managed to cut its way through all the bitterness and irritation, like a sliver of sunlight through clouds. Reluctantly she tore her gaze from the bottle and up to Ada and her… new friend? Whatever he was slurring about sure seemed friendly. Maybe a little too friendly, actually. Since when were drunk people this friendly? She frowned and looked back down at the bar in front of her, but her resolve withered in seconds, and she glanced back up at the pair. The drunk guy had his hand on Ada’s arm—she saw his knuckles go white with how tight he was holding on, and she heard the drummer grunt in discomfort.

Oh jeez. Valentina had seen movies. She knew how this went down. Some meathead who’s had one too many Pabst Blue Whatevers starts trying to get into a lady’s pants, he gets a little handsy, somebody’s got to step in and be a hero. Usually by, I don’t know, smashing a bottle over the asshole’s head. She looked at the bottle of beer in front of her, and tried to imagine herself railing the guy over the head with it. On the cinema screen of her mind, the bottle bounced harmlessly off his noggin, a bouncer came by to dropkick Valentina out of the bar, and she wound up walking ten miles back home. Not an acceptable outcome, for a number of reasons.

So then what? Would threatening to introduce him to the taste of his own liver do the trick? Would he interpret that as some kind of weird sexual innuendo? And then—restraining the urge to look at Ada and see how she seemed to be taking it all, if she seemed amused or afraid or annoyed—the question became, what does Ada want me to do? The frown became a scowl. She never knew what people wanted.

In the end, she sat there, staring at her hands, and didn’t do much of anything.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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Rick couldn't resist grinning at Izzie's expanded commentary. She sounded like a talent scout, or a producer, or a bandleader—which she was, of course. He wondered if she could have been anything else. Could she have played the sidewoman to another? Maybe not with her stature—then again, Dio had played with taller men and never lost command of the stage. He was a born frontman, with a golden throat powered by aetheric lungs that could make the stuff of Michael Whelan covers sound like Renaissance art. And Izzie, in turn, was a born leader, with a clear vision of what she wanted, a keen ear to hear what suited it, and an iron determination to leave behind that which didn't suit it.

Then again, all of that could also apply to a world-class dictator. Perhaps he ought to be more cautious. But for now, there were more important things, like talking shop.

"Good? No, I gotta pay. And talk to the bassist. Hablamos bajista, ¿clara?" 'Bassist-talk' made sense in his head, but not so much out of his mouth. Still, he would stick to it.

It didn't take long to flag down the server for the cheque, and even less time to flag down the bassist, a skinny muchacho who seemed in no hurry to leave. In their low-end discussion, neither of them noticed as the quarter's guitarist quietly made his way to the bar, to a particular young woman with fair hair and a flowing caftan dress.

-------

For a brief moment, Lionel felt a pang of jealousy for Ted, and could not say why. That was a lie: he was jealous because Ted was at a jazz club, the sort of soporific place where people went to relax after a hard day. A bar such as the Anchor, on the other hand, was for a bit of excitement after a long day of modern ennui. Normally that was more Lionel's thing than the jazz club. But this was not a normal situation. The drunk sumbitch was not only drunk and vicariously horny, he was getting violent. With a woman.

This never ended well. Danny had seen that too, if Lionel interpreted his quick bark for "Elliot" correctly. Presumably he meant the large man edging his way through the crowd. Lionel had seen this scene a few times before. Swing and a miss, a forward pitch, then either a strikeout or an intentional walk. And sometimes that happened in the baseball game instead!

Time for a curveball. "Ayo, let her go!"

Drunk Sumbitch froze, still holding the woman's wrist, but his attention on Lionel, bleary eyes narrowed. "Why d'you care?"

"'Cause she don't want none of you, old man!"

Lionel expected that to be a serious aggro-draw, but instead Sumbitch grinned. "Whatcha gonna do about it?"

For the first time that night, Lionel realized he might have fucked up.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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#, as written by iCakez
His grip was hard enough. Ada wasn't going to get out of it easily. She may be a drummer, but she also smoked and drank a lot. And the man was bigger than she was. Her skinny wrist in his clasp seemed almost like a child's. Ada didn't like the way it looked. Looking to Val for help, she realized that she wasn't going to get any. There were a few emotions flickering over her face, though most of them she couldn't quite make out. But it appeared the guitarist was conflicted. Ada wasn't completely sure why. Usually when your friends were in trouble, you helped them out. In her mind, their brief quarrel moments ago had not been so serious as to make Valentina unwilling to help her now. No, it had to be something more than that. Quietly the reality of just how uncomfortable her bandmate was in their current environment crept up on her.

But the time to dwell on that particular issue was not now, however. Ada's eyes shot back to the drunkard. She looked determined. Angry. The muscles that clenched her jaw seemed to unclench as she was about to speak. But someone beat her to it. The bartender had noticed what was going on. As had several other people at the bar. Hopefully, it would deter the drunk from continuing down the path he was on. Napkin guy chimed in as well, and for a few seconds the two of them exchanged less than friendly sentences. Napkin guy's words seemed to do very little, which surprised Ada. The drunkard was such a cliché that she had expected him to let her go, and challenge napkin guy to an exchange not in words, but in punches. Alas he did nothing but keep Ada's wrist locked in his.

"You fucking cliché." Her words rang out low but piercing. She shook her wrist. With disgust painted clearly on her face, she looked him up and down. He seemed to find her resistance amusing.

"Oh, so th-" He paused and blinked asynchronously. "The little girl speaks!"

"You couldn't pick up a five dollar hoe if you had all the meth and money in the world." Now she definitely had his attention. She half expected his grip to tighten even more around her wrist, but that never happened. Instead, a multitude of emotions seemed to wash over his face. He seemed as conflicted as Val had a few moments ago. Anger, frustration, sadness. All represented. Ada had meant what she said. Long ago she had learned that the way she presented herself in most social situations might lead some men on, and with that came those of that gender who had trouble understanding the word no. Still, it annoyed and disgusted her when men thought they could take liberties like this. After a few tense seconds his grip loosened. Perhaps it was the combination of both the bartender and napkin guy speaking up, as well as the attention their confrontation had gathered, that he seemed to back off. The emotions on his face lastly resulted in something that was somewhere between shame and frustration. All of a sudden he didn't seem so dangerous. He even seemed to shrink an inch. In the matter of a few seconds a different man stood swaying on his feet in front of her. Ada felt something in her heart. It was pity. It surprised her.

"Aaaaaah..." He let out, sticking one hand in his pocket and taking a few awkward steps back from Ada. He watched all of them and sighed, shaking his head. "You can all..." It wasn't an easy task to finish sentences.

The bartender looked to napkin guy and then back to the evening's main belligerent. "How about you go home and sleep it off, huh buddy?"

The drunkard waved dismissively. "Aach, go to hell." He let out and stumbled off toward the door.

With a puzzled expression Ada sat and rubbed her wrist. She had not expected him to turn so quickly. It didn't seem like he was such a bad guy now. But he had grabbed her nonetheless and she wasn't prepared to forget that. Turning on her stool she looked at the bartender and nodded. "Thank you." She said and flashed him a smile.

"Don't worry about it." The bartender said, shaking his head.

"What about his tab?" She asked curiously.

The big man chuckled and shook his head. "He'll be back in a few days to close it and start a new one." He said. Apparently this was not the first time something like this had happened. The bartender made it sound like this particular client sometimes did things like this but would always come back. It was a little sad.

Ada nodded and shrugged. She grabbed her drinks and stood from her stool once more. "Thank you." She said once more and then looked at Valentina. "You know... If you can play nice, you're welcome to come over and hang out with us." She pointed at napkin guy and tilted her head. "But only if you can play nice." Ada was there to have fun. Valentina didn't seem like she wanted to take part in that. With those final words, she approached napkin guy.

"Thank you." Were the first she spoke to him. Ada bit her lip and set her drinks down on the table. "So should we start over maybe? I'm Ada."

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Izzie snorted. “Of course,” she answered in Spanish as she raised a hand to flag down a waiter for her check. “How could I forget the time-honored tradition of bassist-talk? Well, just let me know when you’re done. I’ll be outside.” She paid off her tab and headed for the door. She caught a glimpse of Ted in the crowd as folks began to get up and mill around—it wasn’t hard to notice a white guy decked out in business casual on a Baltimore evening—and they made eye contact for just a second.

She raised an eyebrow, as if to say, the coincidences truly never cease, do they? Otherwise, though, she offered only a raised hand in greeting before she turned away and continued for the door, phone in hand.

.

.

.

Just like that, Valentina’s moment of potential heroism came and went—or rather, it was snatched up from right under her nose. She heard the man’s voice—“Hey, let her go!”—but she pointedly refused to look up and identify Ada’s savior. She forced herself to tune out their voices, too, as she stared into the bottle in her hands, peering down the neck at its contents. This stuff was supposed to make you feel better, wasn’t it? Hell, she couldn’t think of any other reason to drink it—least of all the taste.

Like medicine, she supposed. It wasn’t supposed to taste good, but if you stomached enough of it, it wouldn’t matter.

So she drank it like medicine. She closed her eyes, tipped her head back, and drank, and drank, and drank, until the flow of liquid down her throat had subsided and left behind only a dull, rank aftertaste. She set the empty bottle down beside the first, and pressed her hands against the surface of the bar, staring down at the lacquered wood between them. How long did it take for this stuff to work? For that matter, how many would she need to drink before it started to work? Was it already working, or was she just imagining the fuzzy feeling at the edges of her perception?

She wiped the back of her hand across her lips, and glanced up at the bartender. She caught his eye as he turned away from another patron, and wordlessly lifted one of the empty bottles in one hand. With the other, she raised a single finger. He gave her an odd look, but a moment later, a third bottle was sitting uncapped in front of her. She appraised it silently, and then knocked it back as well.

By then, Ada had wandered off—Valentina finally consented to look up from the bar, saw her chatting away with that guy from the band they were splitting the studio with. She felt something churn in her stomach, though she wasn’t sure if it was irritation at being dragged out to a bar only to be left alone, or the consequences of downing three beers in about as many minutes, and directed her gaze squarely back to the bar. When she looked back up, the bartender was standing in front of her, something like concern on his face.

“Everything okay?”

“Oh, I’m super,” she shot back in a monotone. He raised an eyebrow, as if she had imparted some unspoken information through her answer.

“You might want to slow down,” he cautioned, with the tone of somebody who was used to having his advice ignored. “Three beers is a lot for a first-time drinker.”

“Ha,” Valentina droned. “I’m afraid you’ve—misapprehended me, pal. Three beers is my pre-bar routine. That’s my warmup. You’re talking to a pro here.” She pretended not to notice the mingled skepticism and exasperation in his eyes as he shrugged and turned away, leaving her with an odd feeling of something like victory. She grinned, baring teeth at his retreating back, as if she were a predator taunting a defeated challenger.

Without thinking, she glanced back over at Ada, still shooting the breeze with that… one guy. Her smile vanished, but the inexplicable feeling of triumph didn’t. She could salvage things. She was still in the lead. In the lead of… something. That part didn’t matter very much. She turned back to the bar and snapped her fingers at the bartender repeatedly. The sound was drowned out completely by the hubbub of the bar, but he eventually turned of his own accord and saw her trying to catch his attention. Looking rather wary, he approached.

“Get me a glass of your finest alcohol,” she demanded.

“… our finest alcohol,” he repeated, with something between amusement and bemusement.

“Yeah. Like, the Maserati of booze.” She paused, trying to remember just how much money she had in her bank account, and added, “On second thought, make that the BMW of booze. Just get me something that’ll impress without putting me in debt, okay?” She waved him off, drumming her fingertips against the surface of the bar, searing with a nervous, exultant energy.

He returned with a shapely little glass of what looked like exactly one sip’s worth of bronze-colored liquid. She frowned as he set it down in front of her. “One Balvenie Doublewood,” he said, looking like he still couldn’t quite tell if he ought to be entertained or concerned. “The, ah, BMW of booze.”

She lowered her face until it was level with the bar, peering dubiously at the glass and its modest contents. “Is… there supposed to be more?” she ventured from that vantage point. She concluded from his expression there was not. She straightened up and glanced back over at Ada’s little corner of the bar, waiting for the ideal opportunity—waiting for a break in her conversation with that… one guy.

The moment she saw it, she seized it. She cruised straight for the drummer, tapped her on the shoulder, and held up the glass, her other hand at her side mussing about with the fabric of her skirt. “Hi,” she said, feeling strangely light on her feet. “Buy you a drink? I mean, I already did. If you don’t want it, I can find somebody else to give it to.” There was a bizarre note of pugnacity to her usual monotone, as if the words were a dare—maybe to Ada, maybe to herself.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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The woman turned, following Ted's gaze. "Who was that?"

"Friend of a friend, sorta," he responded. He sipped the Blue Moon like a buffering animation, then added, "I told you about the other band in the studio?"

"Yeah?"

"She's their bandleader."

"Bandleader," the woman snorted. "Does that mean you're a bandleader, too?"

"Not the same way," Ted responded, shaking his head. "She's...different."

"Oh. Like...how?"

"She's very exacting. It's her band. Like Maurice, but more so."

The woman scoffed. "Sounds like the kinda guy Jack and I got rid of."

"Not quite," Ted replied, sipping his beer again. "That guy, from what Jack said, wasn't nearly as good as Izzie was. Probably still is."

"Izzie?"

"Isabel Ana-Maria Martinez de la Cruz," he intoned with all the solemnity of an ancient prayer. "Isabel Martinez for short, Izzie for shorter."

The woman chuckled. "She sounds like a character."

Ted smiled too. "You're not wrong, Steph."

-------

The front door of the Anchor slammed, and Lionel released a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. Somehow, Drunk Sumbitch had got told by a chick two-thirds his size, at a generous estimate. The fact was nothing short of astonishing.

"Awright guys, show's over." Elliot's proclamation worked like a geas. No doubt many of the conversations that started up were nervously noting how close that came to a full brawl, but they were still conversations, in the same way that a pacemaker still induces a real heartbeat. The life they brought back to the establishment was no less real for how forcedly they were induced.

Perhaps it was that change in atmosphere that had incited this lor lady to approach him. And thank him, though for what he wasn't sure. Maybe prompting a chance for them to meet? He wasn't sure, but he wouldn't complain. Talking to a cute chick was better than mulling over how close he had almost come to getting his lights punched out.

"You're a badass is what you are," he said before he could stop himself. Making a face, he held up a cautionary finger and took a healthy sip of his cocktail. "What I meant to say is nice to meetcha, Ada, I'm Lionel.

She gave him a wink and a smirk, taking a sip of her own drink as well. Now that she was sitting so close to him, and she wasn’t being semi-molested by a drunkard, Ada was sure that she had been right. He was the guy from the other band. “Likewise.” She said and leaned on her elbow on the bar. She looked down at the wood and shrugged. “Can’t afford to have rumor going around the studio that I can’t take care of myself, can I?” Ada wondered if he had recognized her as well.

“Studio,” he repeated dumbly, putting that together with that feeling of deja-vu from earlier. The realization hit him suddenly. “I thought you looked familiar! You’re one of those peeps in Psychosis,” he concluded. Chuckling to himself at the coincidence, he took a glance past her, at the stone-cold dead serious chick now talking with Danny, three empty beer bottles in front of her. “She with you, right? Somep’n happen?” he asked, indicating her with a half-nod.

His reaction was amusing, but Ada decided not to give him any stick for it not recognizing her. They hadn’t spoken much anyway and besides, she wouldn’t be offended. “Uh…” She began and looked over at Val who was now in conversation with the bartender. “She is… Was.” Ada was unsure and shrugged, but still smiled. “I’m not sure, really. She’s been miserable since the moment we got here.” She took another sip of her drink. “But she agreed to go out, so I don’t know what the deal is.” Ada returned her attention to Lionel. “She’ll come ‘round.”

I hope.

Ada had truly no idea if Val was going to ever stop being mad at her. She had never experienced Val being mad at her ever before. It was frightening, somehow. Not in the same way it was scary when Izzie got mad. No, this was different. It freaked her out. “So how are things going for you guys in the studio?” Conversation would be her best distraction from the graphic images of what Val might do to her once they left the bar. That is, she assumed she would wait that long.

“It’s alright,” Lionel said, taking a sip of his Libre. “We’re gonna start drum tracking tomorrow. Past few days have been mostly writing a new song to fill it out and recording demos.” He left out that their original plan had been to lay down drum tracks earlier that same day, before Ted started “experimenting” with an alternate bridge riff for “Under the Lash”, which was quickly turning into “Under the Uneven Time Signatures”. By the time Lionel and Zack had wrestled him back from that tangent, it was three in the afternoon. Rather than set up for only an hour of tracking, they called it early with intent to start recording tomorrow. Of course, that was granting that Ted didn’t get sidetracked something for “Defiler of the Mind,” but then again, he seemed to hold that song sacrosanct except for his own solo, ever-changing like his others.

Her eyes widened with excitement. Ada loved the grinding you did in the studio. Sure, you practiced until you had yours songs down before you went in, but there was something about recording them. She settled for nothing less than perfect, so it was a lot of work, but Ada found that she learned so much every time she went into a studio.
“Exciting!” She said, genuinely. “Here’s hoping it goes well.” Ada raised her glass, not really bothered that they had both been sipping drinks while chatting. “So are yo-” the brunette trailed off as she felt a tap on her shoulder. “Hmm?” She let out as she set her drink down and turned on her stool.

"Buy you a drink?"

Lionel blinked. Wasn't this the mopey chick Ada had brought with her? Why was she so chipper? Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Danny gesturing. Open-palm thumbs-up, tilt the hand back, then three, then throat-cut. Lionel immediately decided he hated charades. Danny made the gestures again, slower this time. Thumbs up, tilt back...drink? Three drinks? Cut-off?

Oh.

Ohhhh. Great.

"Uh..." Lionel hoped he could help the situation with some half-feigned casual talk. "What's the drink?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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#, as written by iCakez
Sighing with annoyance, she turned on her stool. Ada had no patience for that drunk prick anymore. It was starting to get on her nerves, that he couldn't leave her alone and let her have a good time. Ada had gone out in the hopes of getting buzzed (potentially blitzed) and have fun with her bandmate. One of those seemed unlikely to happen so far. But when she turned and saw Val, her expression turned more curious than anything. There was a smile on her face. Val didn't look like she was on the warpath, no, instead she brought a peace offering. The way she handled the situation amused Ada, but it was also quite endearing. Val was really no good with people.

"Val," The name came out softly. Ada didn't know what to say for once in her life. On her lips was a rare smile. It wasn't flirting and it wasn't because she wanted something. It was just genuine. The way Valentina was fidgeting and messing with her skirt made her heart flutter. Ada was surprised that she had such a reaction to the woman before her, and decided to shake it off. For the past many years she'd been a fast-paced, hard-partying drummer girl with little time for genuine emotion and she was quite content with keeping it that way. There was no idea in pointing out to Val how adorable she was, as she was certain she would never forget that. And they would have to get back into the studio, and Val would still speak in her monotone and be back to her normal self. In her mind, she imagined that the fact that she was witness to the scene unfolding, was like knowing a deep and dark secret about a high-ranking politician. Ada would pay Valentina the respect of keeping it secret. As secret as possible anyway, with Lionel sitting right next to her.

Grabbing the hand that was toying with her skirt, Ada gently pulled Valentina closer. She then accepted the glass of whiskey and locked eyes with her bandmate, as if accepting the dare that was hidden in the undertones of her offer. Ada took a sip. The liquid was sweet on her tongue but burned delightfully in her throat. She liked whiskey and rum, but always faced the issue that she was skinny and would get very drunk, very fast. She held the glass up eye-level and inspected the liquid for a moment before shifting her gaze to Valentina yet again. "Apology accepted." Ada said, though no apology had been offered. Not directly, at least. The glass in her hand would be as close as she'd get and that would have to do.

"Now!" She announced and turned to introduce Lionel. "Valentina this is Lionel, Lionel, Valentina." She set the glass down on the bar. "He's in the other band at the studio." As she spoke, her mind raced to remember the name but unfortunately that was one of her flaws. Ada seized the moment while the two of them greeting each other, to look over at where Val had been sitting to see if she had been drinking any more. Three beers. She looked at her again, trying to gauge if she was drunk.
"So can I buy you another drink? Or are you good?" Ada offered her a smile, pointing past Val toward where she had been sitting. Somewhat mirroring the tone in Valentina's words from before, there was that tone as if she was daring her to have another drink.

If she hurls, what's Izzie gonna think?

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Valentina hadn’t expected this. Really, she hadn’t expected anything, because expectations required thought, and she had absolutely not thought any of this through even a little. She didn’t know what to expect from the way Ada said her name, from the way she looked at her with that weird smile, didn’t know what any of it meant—she also, for that matter, found that she didn’t particularly care. There was an anticipation, a breathlessness, eager and almost aggressive, that chased away any thought of worry or anxiety like an unchained bulldog barreling after a trespasser. Even when Ada reached out to take her by the hand and tug her closer to her, the little jolt of energy that coursed through Valentina’s veins that normally would have converted itself into nervousness instead became more of that vivid, combative fervor that Valentina didn’t have a word for just now.

And then Ada raised the glass to her lips, and she drank, and it was like the release of a bowstring under tension. The same triumphant grin Valentina had hurled at the bartender’s back earlier crossed her face again. She stifled it quickly, reasserted control over the muscles of her face and marshalled them back into neutrality, but the feeling didn’t go away. She’d snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Or, uh, she’d grabbed the jaws of—point was, she’d won. Why bother overthinking it when she could just bask in the sensation of having triumphed?

Heck, she was so pleased with herself that when Ada introduced her to Lionel, she managed to handle it somewhat like a normal human being. “Yeah, I remember you,” she said. She didn’t notice it herself—she wasn’t exactly at her most observant just now—but, three beers down, the southern accent that always seemed to haunt her words was out in nearly full force. “From Sturm. I’m Valentina Diaz.” She stuck out a hand, but Ada turned that strange smile of hers back on Valentina at just about the same time, and if the way Valentina instantly withdrew her hand and turned to face Ada was any indication, she pretty much immediately forgot Lionel existed.

Somewhat like a normal human being.

“So can I buy you another drink?” Ada said—and it didn’t escape Valentina’s notice that Ada’d turned her little dare against her, was challenging her just as she had challenged Ada. “Or are you good?” Valentina turned her head slowly, almost mechanically, to follow Ada’s finger to the three empty bottles at the bar. Then she turned her head, just as slowly, back to Ada.

“Hell yeah,” she droned. “Let’s have another drink.”

A NEW DAY

Later that night, having become far more intimately acquainted with the inside of her toilet than she was comfortable with, Valentina decided she had made a series of terrible mistakes. The skull-fracturing nightmare of a headache that ensued the following day only lent further credence to that assessment.

She sat in the passenger’s seat of Izzie’s car, her guitar case between her legs and her forehead pressed against the headstock, as if in hopes that it could relieve the pain. Her recollections of the night before were hazy at best, and she was confident in saying so, because she’d spent the entire morning in a state of borderline panic racking her brains for embarrassing memories. None had surfaced, which was clearly not evidence that they didn’t exist, because Valentina knew herself, and she knew she was perfectly capable of making an ass out of herself without alcohol lending a helping hand.

Her doldrums hadn’t escaped Izzie’s notice. Hell, it had been damn near the first thing Izzie had asked when she had pulled up in front of Valentina’s apartment building to find the younger Martinez standing out front with an expression of biblical suffering on her face. Even now, as she sat caught between anxiety over last night’s potentially catastrophic events and a pounding headache that seemed determined to occupy her every waking thought, she could see Izzie glancing at her out of the corner of her eye.

“Okay, look, you’re obviously not alright,” Izzie finally spoke up. She’d shown Valentina the tender mercy of sparing her any NWA—or any music at all, for that matter—and Valentina almost didn’t register her voice over the roar of the Chevy’s engine. “Something’s bothering you, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were hungover to hell and back on top of that.”

Somewhere underneath the churning maelstrom of anguish in her head, Valentina felt a muted pang of fear and guilt. She’d managed to wriggle out of answering Izzie the first time she’d asked, but she wouldn’t get away with that again, and she certainly wasn’t going to lie. “I don’t wanna talk about it,” she mumbled into her guitar case without looking up. “Okay?”

“Alright, I’m not forcing you,” Izzie said. “How about this, though—join us for dinner tonight. I’m cooking.”

Valentina forced herself to raise her groggy eyes up to meet Izzie’s. “What’re you making?” she asked blearily, and Izzie snorted.

“I assure you, it’ll be at least on par with the five-star meals you’re accustomed to having for dinner.”

There was certainly a part of Valentina that wanted to demur—a part of her that fully intended to spend the evening curled up on her couch, groaning and moaning and generally trying not to think about Ada and alcohol and Sturm and a myriad of other things. She chose to override that part of herself for a number of reasons, not least of which was that Izzie’s cooking was pretty good, both by normal standards and by Valentina’s ‘Safeway doughnuts for dinner’ standards. “Okay,” she muttered. And then, for reasons she could only attribute to her headache and general state of discord, she added, “Thanks.”

Sure enough, Izzie gave her a weird look. “I’m not doing you a favor. You know you’re welcome any time.” The words brought with them another twinge of anxiety underneath the headache—that familiar old fear, that haunting possibility of a time that she wouldn’t be quite so welcome. She closed her eyes and pressed her forehead back into her guitar case. Why couldn’t she stop feeling like this? For the first time, she found herself missing the way she’d felt the night before.

“Yeah,” Valentina said quietly, as Izzie pulled into the studio parking lot. “I know.”

.

.

.

Christina awoke to a phone call.

That in and of itself was distressing, since the last thing Christina was ready to do right after waking up was talk to people. She liked to take her time waking up—which was to say, she liked to repeatedly reset her alarm and go back to sleep about a dozen times before conceding defeat and dragging herself out of bed. Even then, she didn’t consider herself in a state to be interacting with other human beings until she’d imbibed copious amounts of coffee. In the case of this particular phone call, she’d had the opportunity to do neither—mostly because of the second reason the call was distressing, which was that it woke her up at half past six in the morning.

The third reason made itself manifest when, groaning, she slapped at the bedsheets around her until she found her phone, brought it in front of her (very reluctantly open) eyes, and read the words ‘Rasmus Kjær’.

For just a second, she considered rejecting the call and going back to sleep. Heck, her fingertip was already on its way to doing just that. But no—she’d done that the last couple of times Rasmus had called, and the last time she’d actually accepted one of his calls, he’d taken her to task for it. Frankly, that only made her even less enthusiastic about accepting this call, but after a couple of seconds’ deliberation, she finally bit the bullet.

“Brother dearest,” she intoned pleasantly, doing what she personally felt was a very good job of sounding awake and alert. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I’d say that’s an oddly formal way to greet your twin brother, but you take my calls so infrequently I don’t have much to compare it to.” She could hear the thrum of the occasional car in the background—on his way to or from a meeting, no doubt.

“Yeah, sorry about that,” Christina said. She laboriously heaved herself up to a sitting position, and then hoisted her legs off the bed so she could stand. “Things’ve just been so busy since we started recording the new album.”

“As they always are,” he replied, unconvinced. “You know, Mom and Dad get worried when you don’t return their calls. They start fretting about whether or not you’re making enough money to eat.”

Phone balanced between ear and shoulder as she hopped on one foot and tugged a sock onto the other, Christina rolled her eyes. “Well, Rasmus, I am twenty nine years old and I have been living on my own for the better part of eleven years. While I may not be living the high life like you are, I promise you I’m not at risk of starving to death.”

“Still, if you could bring yourself to take their calls every now and then—”

“Did you call to talk about something or did you just want to lecture me?” she cut in, injecting the words with as much good humor as she could muster. She dug around the piles of clothes arranged around her bed for a clean shirt.

“Mostly to lecture you,” he quipped, earning him a good-natured ‘go to hell’. “But also, I did just want to catch up—ask how the new album’s going, how things have been since we last spoke back during the reign of Frederick IX.”

The chuckle that joke earned him was genuine, at least. “Sure, sure,” she said, putting the phone on speaker just long enough to tug the shirt on. “But look—I was just about to head over to the studio as it is, so it’s not a good time. I’ll ring you later in the evening, okay?” When his only response was a skeptical silence, she restrained the urge to scowl, and added, “Really, I will. As blastbeats are my witness, I promise.”

“I have no clue what that means, but I’ll hold you to that. I’ll even stay up for it. Give me a ring around… six, your time?”

That’d be about midnight back in Aarhus. Man, he really is determined to talk to me, she mused, feeling rather like he was a puppy who wouldn’t stop licking her—annoying and endearing, but mostly annoying. She never liked talking to the same people over and over again. Considering she and Rasmus had grown up as twins without any other siblings, she figured she’d gotten her fill of talking to him in the womb.

“Sure,” she said. “Talk more then. See you!” She hung up, looked down at the clothes she’d just finished putting on, and collapsed back into bed.

The extra sleep helped: she was back to her usual high spirits by the time she arrived at the studio. Ted’s car was already there—couldn’t win every time, she supposed—and so was the big old muscle car that, she had since gathered, belonged to one of the members of Cirrhosis. She parked her Honda next to Ted’s car and headed in to start the studio session off right: with a metric ton of caffeine.

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Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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#, as written by Erik7622
"Nice to meetcha," Lionel said, pondering whether any of this was a good idea. Surely she had a good reason to be getting this drunk—a bad breakup came again to mind. Though perhaps there was something more going on there. They obviously had a connection; their interactions were proof enough of that. Was she in Psychosis, too? He couldn't remember anyone else in that band except the titaness frontwoman. As they resolved to more drinks, the uncomfortable feeling settled that he was interrupting something important.

Fortunately, the game was starting, so Lionel turned his attention back to that. Sometime in the fifth inning, after the ladies had at least two more rounds, Valentina announced she was going to the john. Lionel broke off from the game to watch Ada escort her more-inebriated friend off to the proper facilities, wondering how their conversation might have gone without Valentina's interruption.

Neither of them came back out. The Orioles lost. A bitter cloud hung over Lionel as he took the bus home. Back home, he stayed up a while with a tall glass of water and SyFy. It had really gone downhill since the name-change. Since when was a dragon sci-fi? Or was the "fy" for Fantasy? Who knew?

Even heavily compressed, the opening riff to "Heartwork" was inimitable, which was partly why he had chosen it for his ringtone. The number was unfamiliar. He hit the end button and cast the phone aside. Aw shit, the dragon was poking its head in the bar now. It could set the whole place alight, with all that—there was "Heartwork" again. Grumbling, he picked it up again, ready to turn it off for the night.

It was Ted.

The dragon went on mute. "Yeah?"

"Lionel?"

He frowned. "Steph?" They'd met once, enough that he recognized her soft contralto even when it was marred with distress.

"Yeah. Ted told me to call you. He's in the hospital."

Lionel sat up straight. "The fuck?"

"He hurt his hand real bad. They're working on it now, but I dunno if he's going to be able to make it to the studio tomorrow."

"Well...shit." Lionel sighed, deflating a little inside. "What happened?"

"Tripped, fell, beer glass broke in his hand."

Lionel sucked in a hissing breath. "Fuck that shit. Fuck that. God damn."

"Yeah. He also wanted me to tell you that Izzie should have the place open when you get there, and just explain to her. I might be able to stop by and get you Ted's key tomorrow. Alright?"

"I-uh...erm-Imean, sure?" Lionel didn't really know what else there was to say.

"Kay. I gotta see how he's doing."

Lionel grunted, and the call ended there. There wasn't much else to do but turn off the movie, piss, and go to bed. Which he did, in that order.

A NEW DAY

Zack was giving Lionel a ride into the studio, so Ted felt no compunctions about coming in as early as he wanted. He hadn't slept more than a couple hours with the pain in his hand. He still brought the new guitar (which still needed a name), even though he knew he couldn't play it. The doctor had demurred on when he'd be able to play again.

He left his guitar in the rehearsal studio and went to the kitchen, hoping against hope there would be some damn good coffee. Even that black sludge would be fine if he could get enough milk in it. Rather quickly, though, the difficulties of basic fine-motor tasks like getting a coffee cup left-handed became apparent. This was going to be a long day.

It was the black sludge today. Making some mental calculations based on the smell of it, he poured it to fill the cup by only a third, then would fill it the rest of the way with creamer. This plan worked remarkably well until it came time to pour the creamer. The annoying single-serve cream-cups were bad enough until one had only one hand either to hold the cup or peel the plastic cover. Unable to move his thumb for the wrapping and splint on his wrist, Ted tried balancing it between forefinger and expressive finger, but misjudged the force needed to peel it open and ended up spilling most of it on the counter.

"Dammit," Ted growled, noting that, of course, Christina chose that moment to walk in.

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All looks well. We should be getting this going over the next couple of days.

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Done did it. Let me know if I messed something up. :D

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- second character is up tonight! Tonight means within 6 hours.

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