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Valentina Diaz

Somewhat misanthropic lead guitarist of Psychosis

0 · 505 views · located in Baltimore, Maryland

a character in “Win Hands Down”, as played by Lonesome Matsuzaka

Description

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Full Name: Valentina Martinez-- of no relation to her bandmate, no. To avoid confusion, she just goes by her mother's surname professionally, Diaz. You can call her Val. She can also slit your throat in your sleep and use your blood as an exfoliant. There are many possibilities.

Also, the only reason she allows Izzie to call her 'Mini-Martinez' is because Izzie is the size of a rhinoceros. If you call her that she'll threaten to scalp you.

Age: Twenty two.

Birthday: Born on the thirteenth of sunny, sunny July. To match her personality, you see.

Appearance: Valentina does not cut a very distinctive figure, clocking in at a squarely average five feet and four inches of height with a svelte and somewhat lanky build. Her skin, on the paler end of brown, is largely unmarred by either scars or tattoos (she doesn't do things that result in scarring and... she doesn't do things that result in tattooing). Her wavy brown hair is shoulder length and frequently tied back in arguably the most half-assed bun in human history, and her face is characterised by high, regal features, large heavy-lidded brown eyes, and, almost invariably, an expression that implies everything around her has mildly inconvenienced her. She favours, on and off stage, button down shirts, sweaters in dark colours, skirts or jeans, and sneakers.

Role: Lonesome Matsuzaka's second main, and lead guitarist for Psychosis.

Musical Style: Valentina is Izzie's musical antipode in nearly every respect as a guitarist; where Izzie is a riff-writer through and through, eschewing leads in favour of rhythm, Valentina is an extraordinarily talented and versatile lead guitarist... With zero riff-writing ability whatsoever. She doesn't even bother trying, and will basically just take whatever Izzie writes and come up with leads where appropriate. Her primary influences as a lead guitarist have been Muhammed Suicmez, Trey Azagthoth, Steve Vai, and Marty Friedman. Onset of Putrefaction planted the seed of her love for neoclassical shredding back when she was just getting started out as a guitarist, and though it's been tempered by other influences-- she's not nearly as single-minded as Suicmez was on that record-- you can definitely still hear it in her playing with Psychosis.

Instruments: Her primary weapon of war is a Jackson Warrior to which she has no particular attachment other than that she appreciates the numerous points with which she could hypothetically disembowel a person. Ever the loyal patron, she also owns a Jackson Demmelition, because... yeah, mostly the outrageous shape. She likes extremes.

Personality: Valentina's an oddball. She seems to consider virtually any interaction with people an incredibly taxing ordeal made worthwhile only by the opportunity to play and record music, and those interactions are usually characterised by weird, morbid observations and choice bits of sarcasm delivered in a monotone as flat as a fretboard. It's tough to tell if her macabre disposition is just some kind of odd manifestation of humour or if she's really that maladjusted, but she's not usually outright cruel or malicious. She rarely smiles and when her active attempts to the contrary fail it's awkward and kind of painful to watch.

Biography: The daughter of immigrants from Colombia, Valentina Martinez Diaz grew up with a fascination with extremes, with the morbid and outlandish-- horror fiction, surrealist gore films, violent video games, and, indeed, extreme metal. After years of lackadaisical schooling, a birthday gift in the form of a guitar gave her something she finally felt was worth applying herself to, and apply herself she did, spending hours and hours locked up in her room obsessively mastering her command of the instrument. When she decided she needed tutelage to take things to the next level and asked-- to the astonishment of her parents, who had never known their daughter to actively pursue any sort of human interaction-- for lessons as a sixteenth birthday gift, they purchased the services of a local guitar tutor named Isabel Martinez.

Izzie served as a valuable fount of knowledge and experience for Valentina-- not only in the techniques she taught her, but in the artists and bands she exposed her to, pushing her horizons beyond extreme metal for the first time. Maybe more importantly, and certainly more unexpectedly, Izzie became a confidante to the jaded young woman. When, at eighteen years old, she moved out of her parents' place and could no longer afford the lessons, Izzie simply invited her to put those lessons to good use as her band's lead guitarist. Valentina accepted, of course-- she'd heard Psychosis, and the jarring shifts between ultra-technical noodling and Neanderthal slams, between blisteringly fast and knuckle-draggingly slow, certainly appealed to her love for extremes and contrasts.

She's been serving in that capacity for four years now. She's always been polite at best towards her bandmates-- even Rick, who's been there a little longer than Val has, who's known her since she joined, couldn't quite be called a friend. For the most part, she tolerates them. But Izzie remains, to this day, probably the closest thing she's got to a friend, and even after six years of knowing her, she remains anxious to please and impress the elder Martinez.

So begins...

Valentina Diaz's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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When Val interrupted Izzie's admittedly fun jaunt through "Gilles de Rais", Rick dropped his volume and took the opportunity to adjust his fuzz settings. Briefly he considered gluing the knobs in place like Peter Steele (shit, was he really gone?), but as quickly as the idea came he dismissed it. So absorbed was he in getting the tone that he didn't notice the audience, at least not until Izzie addressed them.

And apparently she knew one member of Sturm, too. Not too unusual, he supposed; Baltimore was only so large of a city. No doubt they had met somewhere. No doubt he would never, ever hear how they had met. Izzie just wasn't that sort of person, which was fine. Just another layer of mystery in that enigma, wrapped in a riddle, encased in a titan.

Heh.

Oh, right, the visitors. The first two looked like salt and pepper. "Pepper" looked younger for his lack of a beard and height, and seemed like a guitarist, if only because the bag slung over his shoulder looked far too short for a bass. Besides, "Salt" looked much more suited to bass, or possibly bodyguard. Jesus he was big, right about Izzie's size.

"Saludos," he said, waving with a free hand. "Rick Silva."

-----

"Lionel," the guitarist responded, trying not to feel intimidated. Psychosis clearly had years of experience on Sturm, and though Lionel wasn't the biggest fan of the brutal-tech sound, he had to admit they had honed it to a fine art.

Patience, he reminded himself. This wasn't a competition. Music never was.

Although to the newly-arrived Christina, maybe it was in one respect. "Yeah, he got lost," Lionel said, almost embarrassed on his fellow guitarist's behalf. "He should be here soon, though. I gotta watch for him." He sidled past Christina, Zack, and an unfamiliar third person, a woman who didn't look like she belonged anywhere near two partial death metal bands. He ignored her and headed back outside, guitar-bag still on his shoulder.

And just in time, for as he walked out, a green Sentra came barrelling down the road. Lionel waved, and the car slowed dramatically, put on its turn signal in time to swing into the lot. It parked next to Christina's Accord, and out came Ted, tall and lean, rumpled sport-shirt buttoned one shy of the collar. He didn't wave to Lionel until after he'd retrieved his guitar case from the back of his car and locked it back up.

"You can stop smirking now," he growled, more annoyed than malicious. "That's Christina's car, isn't it."

Lionel tried to answer, but could only laugh and gesture for Ted to follow him into the studio.

Ted sighed, then asked, "What's with all the other cars?"

"I was aboutta say," Lionel began, quickly sobering. "Short version, we got company. Long version, we got company, and one'a them knows you."

When he got no response, Lionel glanced back. Ted hadn't stopped short like some stereotype of shock, but his face had frozen in confusion. Lionel decided to put off the ride question for later on.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Christina Kjær Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
Zack looked into the room and gazed at their gear, noting what they used. When the setting was right and the people eager to talk, he would readily engage in gear talk. A gear freak when he was allowed to be. He nodded and smirked behind his beard, fixing his eyes on the members of the band that occupied the room. He was quite impressed by the sudden flash of skill from the guitarist of Psychosis. He had no time to comment on it though, before a giant of a woman directed words at them. Zack nodded in reply and looked behind him as Christina arrived.

"You're going to tease aren't you?" He said and smirked. They knew that none of them could tease Ted with that. He wouldn't like it. At all. But maybe Christina could get away with it. If she smiled prettily while she teased it.
Zack pushed those thoughts away and returned to the situation he was currently in. []iShe's so going to tease him...[/i]

He nodded to the man who introduced himself as Rick Silva. Actually, he was the only one to properly introduce himself. Zack figured that he should just go ahead and get it over with himself, then. "I'm Zack." He started. "I play the bass for Ted." Zack fixed his eyes on the giant woman who'd mentioned the frontman of Sturm by name earlier, prior to any introduction. "I take it you know Ted?" He added and smiled.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Introductions were a little slow for her, but they got it overwith. Well, almost. The huge man from Sturm deigned to state his name and role. She watched as Rick did the same, aside from stating his role since that was evident. Ada knew that meeting Psychosis could be a little intimidating. Mainly because of Izzie, but still.

She decided to stretch out her hand and take Zack's. "Hi!" She greeted happily. "I'm Ada." His rather large hand took hers and her small one almost disappeared. Zack smiled and shook her hand. Compared to Zack, Ada was tiny. She felt more normal when looking at the newest arrival, another woman. She repeated her gesture and stretched out her hand. "Hi, Ada." She took a step towards her as she spoke. "You look lovely. Welcome to the studio!" Ada smirked. She could be very open, from time to time. And she hadn't even had her first drink yet! Haha. Hmm.

"Well..." She said as she turned away and walked into the room. "What's up?" Ada called to her bandmates, hoping that the distraction of these new people would make Izzie forget that she'd been a little late. "You all good, Rick?" her small frame approached him and she put a hand on his shoulder, leaning down. "Izzie hasn't promised to disembowel me yet, right? Did she notice I was late?" Val wasn't as approachable as Rick was, Ada felt. She was working hard on that, though. Soon they would be getting drunk together and hugging and all that. That was her goal. She wasn't going to ask Izzie for obvious reasons, so that left Rick.

Ada turned and looked at the members of Sturm again and smirked. She wanted to see how Izzie was going to interact with these guys. That was always fascinating. One of the traits Ada found fascinating and truly liked her for.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva

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"A fair point," Ted replied. "We'll just be rehearsing. Let us know if we're too loud." He turned on his heel as he waved, and started back towards the Sturm Room.

"Nice to meetchuz," Lionel said, following his fellow guitarist to the opposite end of the studio.

As they passed the kitchen, Ted said "Morning Christina," almost as an afterthought. He hadn't registered when, exactly, the drummer had arrived, but if she was late, it wasn't about to harm things any more than his little chat with Izzie. Psychosis' other guitarist was right; there were only so many hours in the day, after all. The best way to fix that wouldn't be one of his stares, but merely getting to work more quickly, and putting in a little bit more effort.

As much as Ted and Lionel considered their axework a team effort, they were definitely different guitarists. Their warm-up routines made this obvious. For one thing, Ted had an earbud in one ear, connected to a metronome. For another, Lionel was playing excerpts from songs rather than exercises.

Each way had its benefits, but Ted preferred more abstract scale exercises to limber his wrist and fingers. Creativity would come later; this was purely mechanical. And a little aural, he admitted, as he turned the amp's treble control down just a tad. Everything fit together in its own way, sonically, mechanically, musically.

-----

Rick, meanwhile, continued his noodling, eventually falling into Wrathchild. At around the bridge he noticed the distinct lack of half of a conversation in his headphones. He had tuned the conversation out once he realized that he wasn't getting an explanation of "Jazzhole" any time soon, but the silence turned out to be more noticeable than the noise.

Though he kept playing, he looked up. There in the booth sat both Martinezes, alone, not looking angry, but not happy to be waiting. Oops.

Best not to keep them waiting. The bassist stopped playing with a sheepish grin. "Did you want another take for Gil?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
"You have that power." Zack said dramatically and smirked. He was quite a bit bigger than Christina. The kitchen blended perfectly with the rest of the studio. Not overly modern, but it had all the necessities. Fridge, small freezer, oven etc. Zack began making Christina and himself a cup of coffee. "So.." He started, but Ted and Lionel appeared in the doorway and greeted Christina. he smirked to himself. Ted was a good guy. So was Lionel. He always made sure to look people in the eye and greet them. It was good for the four way relationship that was this band.

Zack was rarely rushed or hurried upon, so he calmly and quietly handed Christina her cup of coffee and took a sip of his own. Ted and Lionel went to their room and warmed up. Since Christina had almost just landed at the studio, he figured it was fair that she was given some coffeine to get going. "So, did you go out last night or what?" He asked curiously, looking at the drummer over the mug.

Silently he reminded himself that they shouldn't let Ted and Lionel wait for too long. They did pay for their time here.

---------------

That resolved itself pretty nicely. . Ada thought to herself, giving the other band a smile before they left. Valentina had spoken up - which had surprised Ada a little bit - and reminded them all that they hadn't recorded the drums. The pressure suddenly came flooding back into her mind, and the small drummer shuddered a little bit. This was going to take another drink. While she'd enjoyed getting to know the other band, she also knew that Valentina was right. They did pay for their time here, and it wasn't exactly cheap. Actually, Ada didn't know what it cost, she could hardly remember what she had been asked to pay, but she knew recording studios were never cheap.

"I'll be right back, guys." She excused herself and quickly exited the room, hoping that her bandmates didn't notice anything odd. Silently, she cursed her insecurities as well as her face for betraying her.

In the kitchen she found the burly guy and the drummer from the other band. "Hi," she beamed, slightly more composed now. She lingered for a moment and then fished a beer out of the fridge.

"Hello," Zack mumbled in his beard. "Sorry if we occupied precious time back there. We realize that studio work isn't free, we just like to make new friends." His smile was slightly apologetic.

"Oh, don't worry. So do we." Ada thought for a moment. Technically she was pretty sure she and Rick were the only actual social people in the band. Izzie was hard to place. She decided not to say anything though. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I better get back to my guys." Ada said sincerely, before she hurried back.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
He reached over the bass and seized his coffee mug, taking a sip. He’d been up early and had gotten a lot done today. It had left him with plenty of time to fiddle around, and now he was stringing up and adjusting his bass. Zack enjoyed a well-adjusted, newly-stringed bass more than most other things in the world. Some people found that weird – even other musicians. He grumbled in his beard and set the coffee down, tightening the last leg to around where he figured was the right note. He fished out the tuner and plugged it in and began tuning his bass.

A few moments later he was done. Of course, Zack knew that he’d be tuning several times today, but new strings never hurt a recording. He took the bass of the table he’d made specifically for the purpose of working on his instrument, and put it back in its case. Then, just to be sure, he got out his phone and shot Christina a text.

‘Hey. Just checking. You live?’

Zack smirked and turned, grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.

When he reached the studio, he got his things out and went inside – coffee and bass in tow. He walked into their room and offered a couple of nods in greeting, then set his bass down and sat down on an amp. It took a second and another sip of coffee to figure out that Lionel and Ted were staring at something. Or admiring? What were they doing.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Zack asked, a growing excitement spreading in his stomach.

They were staring at something in a guitar case. That had to mean either new guitar or that some improvement had been made. Either way, Zack was curious.


In her less-than-expectedly messy apartment, Ada was still fast asleep. There was a glass of rum & coke next to her bed and her clothes were sprawled everywhere. She had initially decided to go home and have a quiet night in, but as that got boring rather quickly, she had decided to go out on the town. Ada had considered asking her bandmates, but she’d remembered that she didn’t want to die. Izzy might kill her just by having her keep up with her, and Val might just kill her. Ada was even less shy when she was drunk.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
Zack chuckled and nodded as he was looking down at his fingers working on the strings. He played a series of notes that harmonized with something in his head. Something Zack had difficulty getting out through his hands. It was something he’d worked on but not told any of the others about yet – he wasn’t sure if it was stillborn or if it was a riff in the making. It was an ordinary chord progression that dropped and slammed, for the bass at least, into a deep note that’d be countered by the higher octave from the guitar. But there was something missing. Something about the state of this idea dissatisfied Zack.

He stood for a second, letting the note fade and then made a thoughtful noise. He stroked his beard with his right hand and sighed deeply. He was lost in thought and had spaced out for the moment. He registered that Ted was in the room still but couldn’t bring himself out of his own mind just yet.

He eventually decided that he would just wait and when the time was right, present it to the others and progress by their help. He had the feeling that Ted, in all his vast knowledge, could come up with something that fit both the bass and the style of the band. Zack stroked his beard one more time and discovered that he had lost his pick in there a few seconds ago. It made him chuckle as he fished it out. He threw it on top of his amplifier.

“What’s on the schedule today, Ted?” Zack asked without looking up.

He took off the bass and sat on another smaller amplifier that he wasn’t using, and opened a bottle of water.

“I think we may have to add the cost of coffee to the budget, you know.” He added before Ted could answer his first question. They were a lot of people occupying the place and they drank a lot of coffee – Zack knew for sure he held a fair share of the blame for that.




She froze in her tracks. Val had come out the door and into the hall. Ada had hoped that she would have had time to down a couple of sips of coffee before she hit the studio. As fast as she could, she threw on her usual smirk and looked as bright as possible at Val.

The way her bandmate spoke made her nervous. All of a sudden, all her fears came crashing down and plummeted somewhere in her stomach. It also made her acutely aware of just how hungry she was. She’d had a banana. She needed food. The way Val spoke made her afraid of losing her spot in the band. She knew Izzie was pretty decisive about these things. The worst part of it all? It would be entirely Ada’s own fault. None other. In the middle of all this, she realized that she had not answered Val. She had been trapped in her own head by her worries, but at the same time she was taken aback by the apparent worry Val showed. Ada wasn’t used to that. She seemed to be actually sticking her neck out for her. Somewhat, at least.

“N… A little bit.” A blatant lie. She wasn’t on the verge of throwing up, but by no means was she tip-top shape. Ada shook her head and gave her best impression that everything was fine.

She caught the way Val bit her lip in worry. She assumed it was for her and not because she was solely worried that Izzie would be mad.

“Come on, Val. I’m not a nun. We’re allowed to live a little…” Was Ada’s go-to excuse. She was frustrated with her own inability to make out what was going on in Val’s mind, and also with her own weakness and stupidity. Ada reminded herself that having this sort of crisis right now, in the middle of the hall, was not beneficial nor did it put her in a good light or either of them in a good mood.

“Sorry.. I..” She paused and then looked at Val again, smirk returned to her lips. “I’ll just tell her I’m afraid I might be pregnant.” The thought made her chuckle.

Rather than waiting for an answer (partially out of fear of what it might be), she ran a hand through her hair and passed Val and went through the door.

“Hey Izzie! I’m so sorry.” She started and refrained from running over. “I’ve been really sick all morning.” Ada threw on the most convincing queasy face she could. A moment passed as she clutched her stomach. “I fucking hope I’m not preggers.” And for a moment she considered the reality of that thought, and the worry on her face was entirely genuine. “Anyway, I’m really sorry. I know you value being on time and respect and all that..” Ada trailed off, hoping to death that Izzie believed some of it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
He sat on the amplifier and took a long sip of his water bottle. Zack sighed contentedly and set it down next to him when he was done. Vaguely, conversation could be heard from the hallway. His eyes followed Ted's to the tuner, where he watched how his bandmate precisely and meticulously ensured that the guitar was perfectly in tune, the display of the device showing the note of each string. Eventually, Ted answered Zack.

Zack was satisfied with the plan for the day. But then again, he usually was. He nodded at what he heard and stroked his beard - a trademark gesture. The idea of coming up with something new sat well with him. They might as well get as much out of their time here as possible. If the opportunity to create more songs and music arose, he would take it for one.

"Sounds good." He replied flatly, nodding. When Ted commented on what he had just been playing, Zack shrugged. "Yeah, it's a funny little bit I've been doodling. But let's save that for another time, hm?" His expression indicated that he was focusing on what they had at hand instead of coming up with new stuff. Zack had been in plenty of rehearsal rooms where jamming out killed practice and progress more than anything else, really. It simply smothered what was being worked on, because people started jamming new stuff they had been writing.

As Ted began commenting on the coffee they were drinking, he couldn't help chuckling. Zack liked strong coffee, personally, but even this was too much. He took another sip of water, as if to wash the imaginary taste out of his mouth.

"I was surprised it could even run out of the machine." He said. "And I do believe 'sludge' is the correct term?" A wide grin. He looked at Ted's guitar but made no comment. He would refrain from saying anything until he himself had made up his mind. Despite how silly it could sound to some, finding out whether or not you liked an instrument was a rather personal thing. Like picking your favourite pick.




The sound of her scurrying behind her had given Ada the impression that Val wasn't going to say anything. The morning had been strange enough already, as she had not expected Val to react the way she had. Alas, Val was not going to stay quiet. In fact, what she said made Ada turn slightly and give her a look that was part offended disbelief and part amusement.

Fortunately, Izzie bought the explanation. Which in this case was a word that meant 'lie'. Had she not been so nervous and hungover, Ada would have been offended at Izzie's tone. But she had neither the energy or the right, in the situation. She felt lucky to be let off the hook.

"Oh. Rick's tracking and guitars. Nice." Ada said, her usual smile back on her face. She turned on her heel but paused. She looked back at Izzie and cocked her head to the side. "Does that mean I can get pregnant?" A moment passed in silence, Ada wondering if she had been too brave with this joke. "Kidding! Not planning on that to happen. Yikes."

Ada sighed and headed toward the same chair she had occupied the day before. In the corner. In darkness. Where she would be trying to relax and not think about food. She stepped past Val. "... All what?" She asked, indicating Val's comment from before and flashing her a smirk. Ada was interested in what exactly she had meant by that. Well, she was pretty sure she knew, but she was still curious.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
"Huns?" Zack looked up so fast his beard had to settle. Confusion was plain on his face. He was not following at all. He had no idea what that was supposed to mean, but was wracking his brain trying to remember. Then he spotted the grin on Christina's face. He looked at Ted for help, but realized that his bandmate had seemingly shrugged it off.

Ah. Inside joke. At least they arrived at the same conclusion. He wasn't meant to understand what that meant.

"Ouch. Shoot through the heart." He said, as Lionel had quickly been dealt with. He was not allowed to vote. It dawned on him that he had started the chorus of a certain Bon Jovi song, whereafter his face froze as if he had been stricken with fear. As if someone had poured icy water down his shirt. He had never liked that band. Ever. When he was a young child, he had enjoyed the usual bands that every aspiring metal head listen to. Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth to name the 3 most obvious ones. As with most other people he knew who shared his taste in music, it had spiraled from there. There was a few really quite strange bands out there, that he had come across in his life. Those bands that really stick out because the music is just plain weird.

"To clarify, that is not my suggestion!" He said. He really didn't want to play that. "Uh... I don't know, Descent of the Fallen?"

[hr][hr]

She wasn't getting anything out of Val. But Ada was still curious. She sat in the chair in the corner, watching her from behind her phone. She was checking her socials. A few random people who had seen her play were commenting on various photos and Tweets. It was rarely interesting, but she was caught in the trap that was social media, so she scrolled on.

Looking away from Val, she watched as Izzie had cornered Rick. She winced, remembering the few times she had been on the receiving end of that, and realizing that she was going to be so again, later. She sighed, stomach growling. Ada shifted in her seat.

"Am I allowed to smoke in here or do I have to go out?" She asked while Rick got ready. She didn't want to leave the room as she figured that would be disrespectful - especially since she had already been late. Ada smiled brightly. An attempt to ward off any anger or annoyance.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
She had been reading the same page over and over again. She was too distracted to keep up with what was going on. Ada felt silly because it was a comic books she was reading. With an annoyed sigh she threw the comic onto the other side of her bed. The first thing she had done after they were done at the studio and she came home, was to make a cup of coffee and sit down on her bed with a comic book. She loved playing music more than anything, but it was nice with a little time off. She didn't really know what her bandmates were doing this evening, and had been wondering if she should contact them. Ada of course had shenanigans on her mind and she had silently been wondering how to pitch an idea of a night out.

Looking over the edge of her mug, the lips that were resting on the rim pulled into a smirk. She took a sip and then set the mug down, rolling onto her stomach and reaching for her phone that was on her nightstand. Her thumbs easily found way to her contacts and found Valentina's name.

'Hey you
Watcha doing tonight? you're not sitting at home that's for sure
xx'


She pressed send right away. Ada smiled at the idea of having drinks with Val. Silently, she wondered if she was going to have drinks at all. If she didn't, it would not be Ada's fault. She didn't strike her as a woman that took ages to get ready either.

A couple of minutes later, a reply appeared: well i was gonna make a voodoo doll of you and then stick pins in it for the rest of the night A minute later, that was joined by, but thats about it hbu

With a giggle that was more girly than she liked, she replied.
Wouldn’t you need some of my hair or something?
I’m just sitting around reading. I was thinking we should go out
xx


About forty-five minutes passed in silence. And then, finally, came the word, what.

While before she had giggled now she was laughing out loud. She could picture Val’s face as she said that.

oh come ooon!
It’ll be fun. Don’t tell me you have anything better to do


It took Valentina another half an hour to rustle up a response to that.
well maybe i do. like donuts and dead space
And then, a minute later, whatever where do you even want to go

“Yes!”
Do you know the Anchor? I was thinking there...

Another half an hour. And then... fine okay. but only if you pick me up.

sure
i knew you’d warm up
when?


She spent the time between messages cleaning her apartment and laying out clothes to wear for the night. She was excited.




Zack had spent most of his time at home noodling on his bass and watching tv. The large man was considering the time they had spent at the studio so far, and whether or not he was personally satisfied with the results so far. A low rumble emitted from somewhere in the beard, giving voice to thoughts. It wasn’t an annoyed noise. It wasn’t overly pleased either, but it was somewhere in the middle. But most importantly, it was as expected. What they had managed to get done so far was what he had expected they would do. These studio things never blazed a trail of productivity within the first week, in his experience.

He set the bass down and walked into his kitchen, reached into the fridge and took out a beer. Zack was contemplating whether he should stay in or go in this evening, but couldn’t reach a decision so he would push it for now.
“Used to be a time, Zack, where this would be an easy decision.” He took a sip of his beer and sighed, pleased. At that moment, he felt older than his years. And he did not like it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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#, as written by iCakez
“It’s impressive how you can manage to make a drive that short, that awkward.” Ada said as she stepped out of the car. She flashed Valentina a smile and shook her head. She had not even expected the woman to put on a skirt. She had thought… Well she wasn’t quite sure what she had expected. Ada was just glad that they were there. “Come on!” She said, locking the car and walking over to Val, linking arms with her. “You look hot, whether you like it or not.” Ada started them toward the Anchor. She was well aware that this did not help how Val felt about this whole thing, and that was exactly why she did it.

“Ladies.” They were greeted at the door. Once inside, she took a quick look around the place. She saw no one she knew or anyone exceedingly interesting. So, she dragged Val toward the bar and found two seats for them. She ordered two beers without asking what the woman drank and held one up for a toast.

“Santé!” Ada said in perfect French, smirking mischievously at Valentina. Her accent got better and better, and it was rarely that her words were tinged with her accent. It happened when she was drunk, which made her wonder if it was going to come out tonight. She quickly shook the thought from her head and returned to the moment.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque

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There was a difference, Rick would argue, between perezoso and relajado. Perezoso meant letting life pass you by. Relajado, by contrast, was knowing when to let life pass, but also when to take control. When it was wise to speak up and when it was wiser to let the chips fall. It required restraint, yes, and a calm affectation, but more than that it required perception. Hard to seize the moment if you didn't see it, after all.

The above mishmash of Sherlock and Zen was Rick's explanation of how he noticed Izzie's momentary pause. He followed her gaze quickly to the stage; something had caught her eye there. No doubt it was the bright blue Les Paul. It certainly was something unusual. Maybe a custom job? But then its owner would have had the self-respect to get it refinished at some point. Goddam, the light was not kind to that guitar. Then again, he and his bass had been through a lot with Psychosis—to say nothing of Izzie's SG! Perhaps he should not throw stones.

Just after he ordered "Ron's Famous House Chilli[sic]", the lights began to dim. Four men took the stage, two black (trumpet? and drums) and two white (guitar and bass). After a few moments of idle noodling, they began the most famous five-beat in jazz history—maybe all music history.


-------

Meanwhile, over at the Anchor, the talking heads were just getting warmed up. Lionel was nearly halfway through his first drink, and had somehow found himself listening to the man five drinks deeper than he (At six-fifteen! Why‽) debate fashion with Danny.

"I tell you one thing, son," the man said. "You know what I see a lot of, and I'm not sayin' you do it, but I see it a lot, and I just don't get it?"

How to ask a question, clearly, Lionel thought.

"Wuzzat?" asked the bartender, glancing aside to Lionel.

"Well," the tippler began, before taking a deep breath and apparently inhaling the only gnat in the whole damn bar. Lionel snatched his drink as the coughing fit started, just before his fist came down hammerlike on the bar.

"Careful, man!" Danny's hand came down softer but firmer on the man's wrist. "Don't overexert yourself."

Lionel looked up at the television in a vain hope the pre-game would be more interesting, then surveyed the bar again to see if anyone new turned up. He turned just in time to see a chick downing an entire beer bottle. From the look on her face, she probably needed it. Her companion seemed keen to lift her spirits, anyhow. Maybe a bad breakup. Though as he turned back to the tippler, finally ending his coughing fit, he couldn't shake the feeling he'd seen one or the other of them someplace before...

Characters Present

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

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#, as written by iCakez
Valentina was easily the source of half her amusement. Maybe even three quarters. Rarely had she seen anyone so out of place. The fact that her bandmate studied the beer she had ordered for her so warily did not make her look more at ease. About to put the bottle to her lips and take a swig, she paused before her lips met the glass. The brunette opposite her had completed the motion Ada had not and proceeded to down the contents of the bottle in one go. Surprise evident on her face, she lingered for a moment. It seemed both of them had difficulty proccessing what had just happened. Ada snapped out of it and took a sip of her beer (finally) and set it down.

"Do you not drink at all?" She asked, clearly not prepared to believe that Valentina, a musician playing in the quite heavy end of rock, did not drink. Ada took another sip of her beer. The night was young and if this was the tempo Valentina was going to maintain, she was not sure they'd even follow the evening into its adolescence.

Then again, perhaps she's full of surprises.

"You know you can sip it? Like you do soda and.... coffee?" She spoke slowly and with raised eyebrows, as if talking to a child. Or just someone very inexperienced. "Maybe if you didn't skull back everything, the night won't be so awful." Ada grinned and winked at her. Motioning for the bartender to order another beer for Valentina, she noticed a few people sitting further down the bar. One of them quite clearly drunk and the other had drawn the short straw in sitting next to him, having to listen to his drunken rambling.

"What'll it be?" The bartender said with friendly smile, eyeing Valentina and her empty bottle.

"Another beer for my friend, please." Ada said softly, smiling back at him. The bartender paused for a moment before he nodded and brought them another beer. "Oh! Could you bring that guy down there," the bartender followed her eyes. "The one next to the really drunk guy, could you bring him a beer?"

"Sure thing." The bartender chuckled and nodded.

Ada nudged Valentina and then pushed her new beer toward her. "Isn't that the guy who is in that other band at the studio?"
At first, she had considered writing something funny on a note, but she was not quite sure if she was right. But the man looked familiar. "The guy I just ordered a beer for?"

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.

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."

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?

Characters Present

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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"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.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
"Would Doom count as jamming? That has a pretty badass soundtrack, although a little more mainstream than our little shop of horrors here." Ada shot in, taking a sip and looked from one Martinez to the other over the rim of her mug, expression non-revealing. It was one of the very few video games she knew of. Not because she had played it, but because she had been recommended its soundtrack by a friend. Ada enjoyed the idea of video games but she had never had the ability to sit down for long enough to play them. Apparently, it was possible, for a few people, to make a living playing video games nowadays. That had come as a surprise to her.

While entertaining the thought of purchasing a system to play video games on, thus giving her a little hobby aside from playing music and drinking, Rick walked in. Ada looked up and smiled at him. "Speak of the devil." She murmured, sipping doom sludge again. She leaned forward in her seat and sighed. "Anyway, I think this might actually be altering my brain, so run me through what we're doing today again?" As she was quite a distracted person, it was hard for Ada to keep track of what they were doing from day to day, if she wasn't directly involved. She knew that Rick had been tracking, but she was not sure he was done. That was sort of up to Izzie, and Ada was not particularly interested in challenging her authority. The frontwoman was not opposed to any input, but it had been made clear from the moment Ada had joined the band that she was in charge. Which was fair enough, it was easy for Ada that way, though perhaps harder for Izzie as she was so distracted and had such a hard time sitting still for extended periods of time.




"Huh." Was all that escaped through thick beard. Zack was not enjoying the solution to their problem, but he realized that it was their only option. If Ted was so injured that he couldn't play, he shouldn't. But Zack wanted Ted on the record. He wanted to have him play the parts. On the other hand, he was pretty sure Ted would guide Lionel well enough through playing his parts that it would work out fine in the end. "Shit man." The bassist's shoulders slumped, disappointment clear.

Clearing his throat, Zack leaned against the wall next to the door and watched Ted. "Not digging it, but I think you're right. We already have the studio so let's work with what we've got." He said, pursing his lips and nodding. Zack gulped down some of the ridiculously strong coffee. "That stuff aside though, how are you? Can you manage the pain?" He didn't want to dwell on how it was going to go, recording their remaining work. But Lionel didn't seem to be able to help himself. It was hard to blame him, though, as it would probably be him that'd record Ted's material. Zack would have felt pressured as well.

He watched the guitarist head out the door and toward their rehearsal room. "Go easy on him, yeah?" Zack said with a smirk that became a chuckle, now kind of looking forward to see the two of them work together so closely.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Christina Kjaer Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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"Claro, claro," Rick said, both to Izzie's implied request he get set at the console and heading off the little interaction between Ada and Val. Maybe Ada had drummed herself a little too hard the other day, or maybe something else had happened. Izzie wasn't making a problem of it, so neither would he. "What kind of tone we going for on the guitars, jefe?" Psychosis was certainly—and intentionally—not on the sonic cutting edge. Izzie's stubborn insistence on using her old SG for pretty much everything lent their riffs a sludgier quality than most other bands of similar technicality, and sometimes they didn't saturate the tone as much. Last album had been pretty heavily distorted, but not wholly devoid of dynamics.

Izzie had the idea of where she wanted to go with this, what would work best with the clean-but-growling tone Rick had already recorded. He was less an assistant producer than he was an extension of her producer's brain, more ears to listen and more hands to work the desk while her own hands worked the guitar.

Before Izzie could respond to his query, the door opened quietly. Rick turned around, wondering who on Earth could be coming in, and recognized the guitarist from the other band. Both the band's name and the man's name escaped him for the moment, but he could tell the man wasn't in great condition. His right hand was wrapped up in some kind of splint, and he had the distinctive dark-eyed pallor of someone who hadn't gotten much sleep.

"I won't be a bother," the man said quietly. "I just wanted to, uh, watch." His lips quirked in a half-smile as he took the situation in. "Not much changes, eh Izzie?"

-------

Some time later, Ted had explained the situation to his own band, just in time for them to be finishing up the scratch tracks before tracking for real. It was some stupendous timing, if by stupendous one meant horrendous and aggravating. Half of what made Sturm unique (at least in his mind) was the harmonic play between the two guitarists, or more accurately the ornamentation Ted added to Lionel's bedrock. Since Lionel had to sing live, it only made sense that Ted played more complicated parts, but now Lionel would have to play both. And sing. At least it wasn't at the same time.

Christina came to the rescue from that morose tangent with one of her typical quips. It worked for Ted, eliciting a chuckle. His semi-formal style had started in his emigration from jazz clubs, but now he supposed it was as much part of Sturm's image as Zack's mountain-man look on the opposite side of the stage. Under the funny part of the quip, he could tell she was feeling for his pain—hard to miss how she reached across to pat him on the shoulder farthest from his injured hand.

Zack was more conventionally reassuring. "He'll do fine. We'll get through this. It won't sound totally live like I'd hoped, but we'll do what we can." What else could they do?

"Anyway," he said, now addressing the band at large as he took up his coffee and followed Christina following Lionel to the rehearsal room. "If I remember right—and I'm running on maybe two hours of sleep, so maybe I'm wrong—but I think we just had to make a scratch track for Under the Lash with the new instrumental, then we'll be ready to start actually recording. Maybe we can get Christina's drums set up; Psychosis finished up their drum stuff a while ago so there's at least one room free." He smiled to himself. "I've got an idea there, too, but one thing at a time."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Isabel Martinez Character Portrait: Lionel Anderson Character Portrait: Ted Marubini Character Portrait: Valentina Diaz Character Portrait: Rick Silva Character Portrait: Ada Rae Leveque Character Portrait: Zack Walker

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#, as written by iCakez
At Valentina's reply, Ada's eyes widened. She was in quite the mood, the drummer thought but couldn't help smirking to herself. She was hungover and understandably so. Added to that, it was probably a feeling she was not used to. Their little night out had been a mixed experience. It was both very enjoyable and amusing, but at the same time extremely frustrating. Valentina was the most anti-social person she had ever met, but it was fascinating to watch her in social engagements. Ada sat and wondered these things and thought of how she fared when men came up to her. If that ever happened. Firstly, it required that Valentina went out which was already unlikely. Ada was pretty sure she was either here or back home playing Halo or something. Secondly, the guitarist was the inventor of the resting bitch face. Valentina would also have to speak to whoever dared come up to her. Ada realized that most men would probably be much too intimidated to make a pass at her bandmate. She pitied the poor guy who'd asked her to go to prom. Ada stifled a laugh.

It was always good fun to listen to Izzie - or any of her bandmates - track her stuff. Ada could listen along and in her mind she would always think of drum-parts, fills, blasts and other little things that she thought would add to the song. She rarely added any of them to the finished version, but saved them for their live shows. In the studio, she usually did what Izzie asked her to do. Their supreme leader was not impervious to suggestions, but Ada knew not to launch too many at her all at once. She'd only suggest something if it was thought through and something she really wanted to try out. When they played live, she didn't ask permission so much. It hadn't been a problem so far. If Izzie didn't like it, Ada had no doubt she would let her know.

Her head turned as the door opened. She remembered meeting him and the rest of his band when they arrived at the studio, but his name failed her. Ada's eyes followed him as he entered, a curious and intrigued smile on her face. She picked up a drumstick from the table to her left and began twirling it through her fingers. She didn't feel like trying her luck anymore with Valentina, so this new arrival was a fresh opportunity to engage in conversation. Rick and Izzie would be busy enough and she knew better than to disturb. "You know each other?" The question was obvious, though perhaps Ada was the only one inclined to ask. If she had been informed of how the two of them were acquainted, she couldn’t remember. But then again, she had issues remembering what they were tracking today as well, so perhaps that didn’t really say much.




Despite the gravity of his situation, Ted didn’t seem completely thrown off. It was a big problem and it was worrying to think what the doctors would tell him next Tuesday, but for now they would manage. There was nothing else to do. Zack followed his friends into their rehearsal room and leaned against an amp. He ran a hand over his beard and took a sip of coffee and listened to what Ted had to say.

He nodded along, agreeing with what he said. “Sounds right.” He said, voice coarse. He cleared his throat and sipped the coffee again, unsure if that would help or make it better. It was good to know that Psychosis were done, so that Sturm could get to work. Being able to lay down some drums meant that they have plenty of work to do, but most importantly it meant progress. So far it had worked out, sharing the studio with the other band. Initially, he had been worried if they would get in the way of each other, but it had gone pretty smoothly. But since that was not an issue, fate decided to maim Ted and cause them trouble on that front instead.

“Come on.” Zack said, shaking his head in mock disappointment. “You can’t tease stuff like that.” It was always interesting whenever Ted had ideas, especially when they came to him after the original framework of the song had been hammered out. Zack himself often had ideas, but was very critical in choosing which ones to present. But that was part of the whole creative process in the studio. Everyone had ideas for songs and so it was their job to figure out which to implement. And they wouldn't know if they had chosen wisely until the record was done.