if i had a fraction of the talent these men had

The One With the Baby Fever

Another one shot coming ‘atcha!! also, side note, I am like so in tune with Brie and Daniel’s baby stuff. Like I watch the youtube videos and stuff, and I’m just so excited for them. and I don’t even know them??

this was roughly 16 pages in my notebook? so  i’m pretty sure this is the longest thing I’ve ever wrote. and I wrote in a bit of Dean’s pov so be aware of that *finger guns*

Dean Ambrose x Reader

While meeting Brie Bella’s new baby, Dean starts to feel some type of way.

There is now a part two!!! this is going to be a mini series.

Originally posted by stellarollins

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misawa; mafia au

There is palpable tension in the room when Sawamura enters. It feels like he can cut it with a knife and serve it on a plate; it runs thick and dark and he swallows his nervousness back in an attempt to look composed.

It is his first job after his training and it is sending him right down the rabbit hole. He had been specifically inquired after, his coach had said, after being explicitly recommended for the position.

“It’s your character – your loyalty and your resilience,” his coach had explained and Sawamura had agreed because he is the last person to ever back down on a difficult job. This is how he ended up under the same roof with no one else but Miyuki Toku, one of the most powerful and intimidating men of the modern business world.

When the door clicks shut behind his back, he isn’t spared even a glance.

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The Nanny

Dr. Melinda May has been looking to hire a nanny. But between her and her daughter, Daisy, Melinda is starting to think she won’t be able to find anyone who can make both of them happy. When she hires Phil Coulson to do the job, however, Melinda finds out just how untrue that belief had been.

A Philindaisy au.

Also on AO3.


Melinda closed the door behind Nanny Candidate #14 before turning around and letting out a short sigh.

Another failed attempt.

Each person she interviewed seemed so promising in the beginning, but none turned out to be a good fit. She was too protective of her four-year-old to leave her with just anybody, and Melinda’s gut instincts told her she hadn’t found “The One” just yet, even though she’d given several a chance. As if Melinda wasn’t picky enough herself, Daisy hadn’t liked a single one of the potential nannies that had watched her for the past month either. Between the two of them, Melinda was starting to think there was no one in the world who would make both of them happy.

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Snippet: Secret Agent Yugi AU

So @teppa-is-sonic-trash (btw, you’re awesome and I hereby dedicate this to you :3) and I made up an AU, in which both Yugi and Atem are secret agents. Atem works for KC and has more of an office job. Yugi is on the other side and gets in on all the James-Bond-like action in his position. ;D

Situation: A month ago Atem met Yugi who seduced him in order to get certain information. With the help of said info Yugi and his team now attacked KC. They have the situation under control and so Yugi decides he wants to spend some time alone with Atem.

It’s a little NSFW but nothing too explicit! Contains sassy, seductive Yugi. ;D

The two men shoved Atem into the office and made him sit down on a metal chair. They tied his wrists behind the back rest. Atem twisted his mouth in pain. The two men left and closed the door behind them.

Yugi was taking off his backpack, gun holster, and headset, and placed them on the desk before him. He knocked off a sign with “Seto Kaiba, CEO” in the process. Yugi wore a catsuit, boots, and fingerless gloves, all in black leather. He adjusted his hair and approached Atem. His steps were slow and elegant like that of a tiger, ready to pounce on its prey. Atem gulped.

“It doesn’t matter what you will do to me! I won’t talk!”, Atem said. Though the reason for that was his lack of knowledge rather than actual bravery. Yugi had stepped behind him now. Atem felt the hairs on his neck bristle. Was Yugi pulling out a knife from his boot? Was he calculating the right angle to ram it into his head? Was he aiming for a painful or quick death?

“Who said anything about talking?”, Yugi said. Atem gasped when arms wrapped around him from behind. Gently. “I missed you, you know?”

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My Boys Drabbles - Elevator Ride

Hey guys. I wrote this story a couple of days ago and it probably deserved more decent editing by me. Since I’m on a train to Scotland doing basically nothing, I’ve decided to post it. :)

Thank you @jia911​ for your reliable support and proofreading!

This story is from the series My Boys Drabbles but it can also be read as a independent one shot.

  • The Prompt:

The lovely @bluebelle18 asked to write a story about Owen getting really angry at Amelia.

  • Timeline:

This happens before they had kids, after ‘Sunburn’ and ‘Pest Infestation’.


 
My Boys Drabbles – Elevator Ride

“Hey, Jim!” Amelia barged in the radiology room where the neurosurgery team usually gathered every Tuesday morning to discuss cases. “How was the weekend?” She playfully asked, suggestively giving her colleague a pat on the shoulder and a dirty gaze. “Yeah, look at that womanizer face you got there… I bet you had some fun!”

Jim Nelson gave her one mortified look that made Amelia crack up laughing. She loved to tease the other attending and that was no secret. Seeing her colleague’s usual lack of response, Amelia was about to add another teasing comment when her husband stormed into the room.

“I need you, ER, now,” He demanded, without offering any explanation.

Amelia frowned and looked puzzled from Jim Nelson to the door, but Owen had already left. Without much of a choice, she excused herself and followed his trail, wondering what in the world could justify Owen being in a hurry like that.

.

“You stay close and make sure you have your kits on you all the time,” Owen commanded, pacing back and forth to make sure the whole team was properly geared up. “Don’t forget to add the appropriate tags so patients can be removed after they were assessed,” He reinforced for the third time, taking one last look at the team of five doctors who were in the transport with him.

Owen made individual eye contact with each one, receiving affirmative nods in return. It was no surprise people were following his lead, considering his entire background. Owen Hunt was good in critical situations and everyone knew that. To have a strong, imposing leader like him inspiring trust and confidence was comforting for the team of surgeons who were just about to take big risks in a massive accident location.

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Fifty Pounds, or the MMFD Cabaret Fic

Inspired by Moulin Rouge, a fantastic drag show I recently attended, that one Christina Aguilera Burlesque movie, and 200 pounds of beauty, I present the MMFD Cabaret fic. 

Let’s pretend that it takes place in mid-2000s, mostly so I can get away with having cool technology and, well, internet. Also the song choices are completely irreverent of time. This is mostly because I’m lazy and don’t feel like looking listening to a bunch of 90s music.

**

“C'mon now, Finnley, don’t look so put out, you grumpy sod.” Chop nudged Finn in the side, nearly knocking him out of his chair and into the path of two scantily clad waitresses, who tittered flirtatiously before wagging their feathered behinds at him. Finn cleared his throat and turned away, taking a long sip from his wine glass.

“’M not put out,” Finn grumbled, “Just tryin’ to figure out why I’ve spent twenty quid on a table at this…” He looked around and made eye contact with a woman with her eyebrows drawn in in spirals, “…establishment when I could’ve gone to the pub for free.”

“The birds, Finn, the birds,” Chop proclaimed. “Aren’t they lovely?”

“Plenty of nice-looking women at the pub,” Finn said, even while his eyes lingered on a particularly busty waitress’ ample bosom. Embarrassed, his eyes cut away, and he looked down sourly into his drink. 

The Grand Theatre had gained notoriety in Lincolnshire as the first cabaret club to open in the sleepy county, and despite the protests from the more stuffy denizens about how it was degrading the moral standing of Stamford, attracted large crowds of well-looking gentlemen and ladies every night. The performers were said to be the greatest beauties in Europe, talented, lithe creatures who could sing and dance a man’s coin right out of his pocket. All of the singing was done live, and apparently the stunts were real, too. Chop had been badgering Finn about the club for the last two weeks, trying to convince him that the performance was the kind of once in a lifetime experience he could give up a day’s wage for. He’d finally given in, and thus far, he was not convinced it’d been worth it.

“They don’t sing for you in the pubs though, do they now?” Chop said with a wink and a grin so wide it nearly split his face in two.

“Chop,” Finn said darkly. “I hear girls sing all the time. It’s my job to hear ‘em sing.”

Chop pouted at him. “Come now, you know that don’t count-” the lights dimmed, and Chop’s grin returned in all of its shining glory. “The show’s startin’!”

A voice rang from through the room, it’s owner invisible for the time.

“Welcome to the Grand Theatre, ladies and gents! Prepare your eyes-”

The spotlight swung off stage for a fraction of a second to somewhere near the ceiling, where they briefly caught sight of a heavily made-up woman flashing her gold-lined eyes open from amongst the curtains. 

“And your ears-”

It swung again to a barrister on the side of the room, where three of the waitresses with large, brightly colored feathers in their hair and behinds clustered together and sang out a high, lingering note together, then to another girl in the center of the room who added to the sound with a seductive little shake. 

“…For the most captivating show on Earth! With your charming host, The Great Archibald!”

The spotlight swung at last to the stage, where an attractive blond man in a top hat, waistcoat, monocle, and leather high waisted corset now stood. He was quite shirtless under the coat, and his straight pants were at least a size too tight. The women of the audience, and some of the men, positively lost their minds, throwing the provided carnations up onto the stage. 'The Great Archibald’ snatched one of the flowers out of the air, then bent on one knee on the stage and took the hand of the nearest woman, kissed her knuckles, and tucked the carnation behind her ear with a roguish wink. The woman gave a high, keening moan that could almost be heard over the raucous applause and hoots from the crowd, and the Great Archibald clambered back to his feet.

“Good to see such a positively lovely crowd this evening,” The Great Archibald proclaimed, though with the light in his face it was highly unlikely he could see anyone at all. “I’m sure we’ll have a,” he smiled beatifically, “truly beautiful time together tonight.”

There were several wolf whistles directed at the stage. Finn wondered whether the entire night would be wrought with sexual innuendo, or more than. He’d heard of burlesque shows in cinema; he wondered whether this was what the Grand Theatre was, a hyped-up burlesque show. That cost twenty fucking quid a seat.

With time and some wine, though, Finn started to enjoy himself. The acts that he’d first thought were too over the top soon became artful, and he found himself shouting along with the crowd as a fiery redhead in a multicolored, silk dress slid into a split while singing a Lana Del Ray song in a pixie-like voice. The stage was transformed entirely with every act, and Finn marveled at how they managed to turn moonlit cityscapes into African Savannas out of cleverly draped fabrics, colored lights and carefully cast shadows.  There’d been some pretty memorable outfits, his favorite currently belonging to a blonde who’d come in dressed like a peacock, with billowy royal blue sleeves and a tail that fanned out when she pulled a string at her waist. Their voices hadn’t been half bad either, with good range, though most of the songs chosen wouldn’t have been particularly challenging for anyone who could carry a tune. Chop had been right- it was an experience.

The last act was announced, and Chop sat up straighter in his seat, jostling Finn’s shoulder.

“This one, she’s supposed to be a sight. Loveliest of them all, and could sing a mockingbird out of its profession! Reckon even you might be impressed.”

“We’ll see,” Finn said. He’d been told some iteration of 'this voice will blow your socks off’ enough times to know that it usually meant his socks would stay decidedly on. He’d given his life to music; he could make an opinion for himself.

“Please put your hands together and give your most enthusiastic welcome to the Belle of Lincolnshire, nay, the Beauty of All England…the lovely Aphrodite!”

The woman who came on stage truly was a sight to behold, with bright, slightly wide set eyes and a figure that managed to be both willowy and curvaceous. Her backdrop was markedly simpler than her predecessors, a night sky full of glittering lights, and her dress seemed to be made from stars. She positively glowed from head to toe, and the audience seemed awed into silence, transfixed on the sight of the woman before them. She licked her lips almost shyly, then flashed a small smile before bringing both hands to rest on her bosom. It was clear she was being marketed differently from the other performers, who had all been gaudy, over the top, and constantly in motion. Aphrodite almost seemed shy.

Then she opened her mouth, and the sound that came forth sent a jolt through Finn’s body. 

it’s been seven hours and fifteen days

Since you took your love away

He’d never heard anything like it. Her voice was sultry and steady, unwavering and strong even when soft. And when she reached the chorus and her voice rose to a belt, he could feel her words beating against his chest, forcing him to pay attention, demanding that he hear them.

He’d seen talent. The flow of hopefuls who came through the recording studio where he worked as a producer was almost endless, and he’d seen the entire gambit, from delusional boys in badly named bands to future starlets with voices smooth as silk. But he’d never heard anything like this. His fist was curling against the chair. How was this woman performing in a seedy little cabaret club when she could have been gracing the cover of every magazine in the country? How could the world have completely missed her, when hundreds of denizens flocked to The Grand Theatre every week? Introducing her to his bosses might get him on their good graces. Maybe they’d let him get a single out, at least, prove himself marketable. His heart began to race; he’d found his meal ticket, this beautiful girl with a voice of a warrior angel, who’d slain him in his seat after only a few bloody notes.

Before the song was over, he knew he had to meet her. He turned to look at Chop, jostling his shoulder. 

“Wha’?” Chop whispered harshly, tearing his eyes reluctantly from the stage. “Give it a second, mate.”

“We’ve got to meet her,” Finn said. “Aphrodite. We’ve got to meet her.”

Nothing compares

“Finn. Fuckin’ put a sock in it.”

Nothing compares to you

Nothing compares

Nothing compares to you 

The applause was thunderous, and Aphrodite gave a small, graceful curtsy, as if she’d performed a stiff waltz across stage instead of blown everyone’s minds away by singing a Sinead O'Connor song better than fucking Sinead O'Connor. Finn didn’t bother paying attention to Archibald’s closing remarks, instead leaned down into his chair with his head in his hands and wondered just how much money he’d have to part with to bribe someone into letting him meet her.

He waited until most of the patrons had started to clear out of the dining and entertainment section and into the adjoining dance floor before calling over a waitress. Chop looked at him in disbelief, but also with a bit of smugness- he’d been right of course, Finn had enjoyed himself in the end, maybe too much. 

“'Scuse me,” Finn said, “But would it be at all possible to… meet Aphrodite?”

The waitress smiled with bright white teeth that contrasted sharply with her dark skin, which in turn contrasted with her thick, gold lipstick. 

“I get asked that question every weekend,” she said, a touch of condescension in her tone. “Sorry, but Aphrodite doesn’t do all that.”

Finn furrowed his brow when he realized what she was insinuating. “No, um, that’s not what I meant, I just thought…” Then he paused, set his mouth in a line. “Fifty pounds. Just to meet her once. And other people can be there, whatever.”

Chop sucked in his breath behind him. The waitress raised her bedazzled eyebrows. She looked him over once, and then seemed to reconsider.

“I’ll…go ask. Be back in a minute; you stay put.”

Before her turquoise feathers were out of sight, Chop leaned over and put his arm over Finn’s shoulders.

“Love at first sight,” he sneered, one eye closed in an extended facsimile of a wink. “Told ya.”

“Nah, s'not like that at all-” Finn was protesting, but the waitress was already sauntering back, a bemused expression on her face.

“Sir,” she said, stopping some ways away from him in the center of the room. “I’m gonna need you to come over here.”

Throwing a look at Chop, Finn shrugged and walked up to her. The waitress positioned him carefully, placing her hands on his face to straighten his head. She stepped back a step, then peered out toward the stage as though waiting for something.

About thirty seconds later, a green stage light flashed three times, and suddenly Finn understood - he was being appraised.

“All right, I’ll take you to the back to meet her. Show me your cash first, though.”

Finn dug his hands into his pockets, pulling out his wallet and producing the 50 pound note. He’d withdrawn it in case of an emergency- namely, in case he drank too much and couldn’t get himself home- but this seemed to count. 

The waitress seemed to find this satisfying, and set off toward the stage. Finn followed, throwing Chop a thumbs-up before he disappeared behind the curtain.

**

“So what’s your name?” The waitress asked as they walked down a set of stairs that Finn assumed led to the performers’ dressing rooms. 

“Erm…Finn,” he responded. “Yours?”

“Samira,” she said simply. She’d unclipped the large neon feather from her hair the moment they’d stepped backstage and had been steadily removing her bobby pins, and with her hair loose and fluffy, she looked more real and less like a Grand Theatre apparition.

Samira looked at him from the corner of her eye, one perfectly penciled eye raised. "So, Finn. Love at first sight, then? Witnessed the 'lovely Aphrodite’ on our old stage and knew you’d seen your soulmate?“

It hadn’t even been ten minutes, and he’d heard that same nonsensical phrase twice. Love at first sight. What a load of bollocks. "It’s honestly nothing like that,” he insisted.

The waitress shrugged. “Wouldn’t judge you for it. She’s a beautiful woman, you wouldn’t be the first guy who wanted to get to know 'er after curtain call. She usually don’t let anyone come back though.” Her eyes flicked back to him again. “Good for you that you’re fit. If ya don’t mind me sayin’.”

She didn’t seem to be hitting on him, so Finn took the compliment graciously. 

“Don’t get me wrong, Aphrodite is a good-looking woman, but I promise ya that’s not why I want to meet her.”

“Why else, then?” Samira asked. They were getting close, Finn could tell- they’d passed a number of curtains that he assumed were makeshift dressing rooms.

“I’m in the music business. And she…she’s got this incredible voice, so–”

Before Finn could continue any further, Samira whipped around to face him. Her eyebrows rose comically, and then she burst out into loud, unbridled laughter. It had been the last reaction Finn had expected, and he blinked back at her, too alarmed to be properly offended.

“Was there a joke?” He said, when she finally seemed to be catching her breath. 

Samira wiped the corner of her eye, her shoulders still shaking.

“You’ve got no idea.” She jerked her thumb at the next curtain, labeled, quaintly, “Gemmel.” Then, she knocked, hard, on the narrow strip of wall separating one curtain from the next. “Chloe! Your…fan is here!”

Finn winced; Samira may as well have announced to the entire entourage cast that he was some creep. Sure enough, a few other curtains parted, and a handful of other performers surfaced from behind them, barely recognizable with half of their makeup washed away, their clothes half in disarray. He noted, bizarrely, that the peacock girl was amongst them, lounging against the wall in just her bra and panties, only recognizable for her plum lipstick and blond hair. A few feet away, he caught sight of a girl who looked rather out of place among all of the glitter and glamour- she was tall and sturdy, dressed in jeans and a band tee one wouldn’t go clubbing in. They made eye contact briefly, and she pursed her lips before glancing away sharply and disappearing down the hall.

Then, without preamble, Aphrodite…or Chloe, it seemed, stepped out of her dressing room.

She was a little taller than Finn had imagined, and though far less otherworldly in her purple bodycon dress, no less beautiful. She snuck a disapproving smile at Samira, and then scowled at their audience.

“You lot have nothing better to do with yourselves than nose about other people’s business, then? Piss off!”

Her impassioned words had exactly no effect on her costars, except to make a few of them chuckle. Finn cut his eyes away from her, not so much embarrassed to be in her company as he was to be so much under the spotlight.

“Not all of us have got fans like you,” the peacock girl said, rolling her shoulders. She looked directly at Finn and tilted her hips toward him salaciously. “'Specially not ones who look like him.”

“Piss off, Stacey,” Chloe spat at the peacock girl. Then she turned to Finn, her smile suddenly beatific. “Now, what’s your name?”

Finn introduced himself awkwardly, heat rising to his ears. “I…erm…I was blown away by your performance,” he explained. “And I wanted to ask you…if you’d ever thought about a music career, beyond the Grand Theatre?”

He sounded like a gigantic prat, and he knew it, but did they really all have to laugh at him?

Chloe’s smile wavered for a split second, and when it resurfaced, it didn’t meet her eyes.

“A music career? I…erm… I don’t know too much about that. Much more of a performer, myself.”

That made no sense; on stage, she’d done the least amount of performing.  She’d quite literally stood there and let her voice and dress do the work for her. Finn furrowed his brow. 

“Really?” He said, “but I heard you up there. Your voice…you sounded amazin’! And I’m not just some arsehole comin’ here to…to salivate over you or anythin’- I work at a record company.” He reached into his back pocket and produced his card, showcasing the Zero for Starters label.

Chloe turned white, barely glancing down at the card.There were snickers from the other women in the dressing room. Stacey in particular barked out a very self-satisfied “ha!”

“All right,” Finn said, exasperated. “I’m obviously missin’ somethin’. Any of you lot wanna fill me in?”

The hall went eerily silent, and even Samira, who’d been watching the whole spectacle with an entertained grin on her face, looked away bashfully. 

It was Stacey who broke the silence, her lip curled spitefully.

“What if,” she sneered, “Miss Aphrodite here can’t sing a tune to save her life?”

Now You See Me

Bucky x Reader

Request: Hiya. Can you do a buckyXreader imagine where the reader is one of the avengers’ sister and she is really small. So she always gets underestimated. Thanks

Warnings: none

Word count: 1204

Originally posted by wolf-in-themoonlight

Your small stature meant you were often underestimated as an opponent. Although at first this had irritated you, you had since learned to use this fact to your advantage. As Thor’s younger sister, everyone just assumed you could maybe pack in a decent punch or at least take a few hits before being inevitably taken down. It was no different the first time he took you to meet the rest of the avengers.

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Mad Max: Not Your Fight, Not Your Victory

The following is a guest essay/review/ramble about the Mad Max series by my fiancé Ryan Stevenson, a teacher/writer/filmmaker with a lot of thoughts about the movies that he mostly keeps to himself. He free-wrote his thoughts today after our viewing of Fury Road, and I thought they turned out to be substantial enough to warrant a place on the internet somewhere, so, here they are. 

-Lauren Wilford

You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

-The Bhagavad-Gita

Fury Road plays your sympathetic nervous system like a slide guitar. Fury Road makes every fiber of your body scream GO! for exactly two hours on the dot. Fury Road is somehow both wild, indulgent excess, where everything goes obscenely beyond what is necessary, and a razor-sharp, drum-tight, whistle-clean cinematic machine without an ounce of fat on its bones.

Needless to say I loved it. A few students and friends urged me to go see it, and asked what I thought of it, and Iʼm still processing it, so Iʼm writing it all out here. I havenʼt read any reviews yet, and a lot of this is probably stuff other people have already said better than I will. I donʼt know where to start so Iʼll just list some stray observations at first. Itʼs going to ramble a bit because Iʼve got limited time (and have been reading a lot of David Foster Wallace, which is probably rubbing off on me).

Tension

As much as I love unexpected eye-of-the-storm scenes—sudden, surreal slacking of tension for a moment of sanctuary and introspection and mystical sights—I love that this movie has precisely zero of those scenes. It has moments of quiet, but these intensify rather than assuage the anguish and urgency. The image of Immortan Joeʼs horrid Car-mada shimmering through the heatwaves on the horizon, while Max and Furiosa stare each other down in a grunting, grudging standoff, provides a textbook example of how to take tense stillness and ratchet it up into nightmarish paralysis. Again, you could feel a hundred people straining against plush seats and silently screaming GO! JUST GO!

Madness

Tom Hardy is arguably the first to put the “Mad” in Max. Mel Gibson can do arguably the most effective crazy-eye of any leading man in the history of cinema. But until now, Mad Max has been an ironic nickname—no matter how crazy his eye or his hairstyle, Gibsonʼs Max seems almost frustrated to keep finding himself one of the sanest men in a world gone utterly nuts. The opening lines of Fury Road hit this nail right on the head for us, leaving the rest of the film for Max to go full-Macbeth-mad, half-blinded by the squeak and gibber of sprites showing what was, is, and shalt be.

(I wonder if Iʼm the only one wishing Hardy had been cast as the tortured king instead of Michael Fassbender. Then again, Iʼm guilty of wishing every leading role today would go to Tom Hardy.)

All that being said, thereʼs also a part of me that wishes that aging, wild-eyed, socially- disgraced Mel Gibson had been brought back to play Max again in this film—his prodigious talent and prodigious baggage would have both made this new, tortured Max even more fascinating, and his transformation even more powerful.

Motion

Ridley Scott et al. have already authored the handbook on how to adjust the shutter for expressionistic effect, not just illusory deceit, in action scenes. Undercranking/fast motion has, like shutter angle, been used for years to subtly and imperceptibly add speed and spice to combat. But as far as I can tell, itʼs always been surreptitious “movie magic” (boy do I hate that expression), an under-the-table, wink-wink, I-wonʼt-tell-if-you-wonʼt transaction with the viewer, a pact to suspend disbelief and give the filmmakers a break. Old cinema hands appreciate the sleight of hand and feel superior about it, wide-eyed rubes donʼt even know itʼs happening.

Fury Road is the first film Iʼve seen, outside of Chaplinesque comedy, where fast motion is used without apology and without disguise. Because the whole apparatus of cinematic motion is an illusion anyway, right? Time is always being manipulated in an action movie, in order to throw our metabolism into high gear for a few hours, to give us a rush. Usually this is pulled off through quick cutting (which there are some stunning examples of here). Miller has just taken this to the logical conclusion, and rather than trimming out unnecessary shots, heʼs just giving us a fraction of the frames weʼre used to seeing. Because thatʼs what we want, right? We want things to go fast? Here you go. Things go fast now. Itʼs brilliant. Itʼs metacinematic. And it works like gangbusters. Your nervous system doesnʼt care that itʼs unrealistic, even if your thinking brain notices the trick.

Modernism/Sincerity

So much nonsense is spread around film schools and critical circles about “taking people out of the moment,” “ruining the illusion,” and so on by calling attention to the camera or the cutting or the film style. Fury Road shows just how little that matters. Itʼs an art film, really, because like all modernist art it demands, at all times, that you think about it as a movie, as an illusion, as the handiwork of a team of humans behind the curtain. Your brain knows that the whole time, and it doesnʼt matter one bit to your body. Youʼre still all-in and amped-up.

The nearest recent analogy here is Joe Wrightʼs Anna Karenina, which pulls off the same trick of intellectual meta-artistic alienation and simultaneous total emotional investment.

Maybe this is going to be one of the great productive problems of 21st century art and letters, actually. How do we learn the lessons of modernism and postmodernism, and stop hiding our tools and authorship, while letting go of some of the wry irony and cynicism of the late 20th century and using art sincerely again, for emotional and moral catharsis, even while acknowledging the artifice of the medium?

Music

The score! Itʼs like George Crumb on crack, Philip Glass on methamphetamine, Terry Riley with tachycardia. The minimalist repetitions are less like an entrancing mantra and more like tweaking out, scratching a compulsive itch. Itʼs more intense than any score Iʼve heard lately, but it doesnʼt overpower, interrupt, announce itself like Hans Zimmerʼs score to, say, Interstellar (or anything really). Itʼs just barely keeping up with the frenetic image track. Anything less would be left in the dust by the rip-roaring editing and the titanic framings. It wails and dips, shrieks and shivers, moans and cackles, whispers compulsively and shouts profanely, judders around like a rusty wind-up toy or a daddy longlegs on a bad trip. Iʼm writing this while I listen to it, which is probably why my prose is all over the place.

Limits/Creativity/Ambition/Expectations/Standards

At the end of the movie, Lauren turned to me and said something to the extent of “that was amazing” (or something, but it was more eloquent than that, clearly my poor memory of this exchange has something to do with the fight-or-flight state we were both in). And I said something like, “yeah, it was certainly pretty good” (or something, but it was no more eloquent than that).

Iʼm trying to figure out why I said that. Obviously my expectations were already really high, and I think itʼs because Fury Road didnʼt completely blow my mind and shatter my sense of cinemaʼs potential. And I think there are two reasons for that.

First, I think itʼs because I had seen the previous three Mad Max movies this week and Fury Road, to me, seems like no more or less than the natural destination for that uneven, weird and wonderful journey, the culmination of Dr. Millerʼs decades of brilliant, twisted, often-abominable, frequently doomed-to-failure experimentation in film form and content.

Fury Road is not an exception or a reinvention or an improvement to the original Mad Max movies, so much as a Mad Max movie where all the parts actually work, and thereʼs enough money to pay for all the gear and manpower it needs. Where the Marlovian over-reaching hubris of George Miller, deliberately denied its demands for decades, instantly gets everything it always wanted and knew it deserved.

Students and colleagues know that I have a self-imposed limitation for myself, sort of like one of Lars von Trierʼs Rules of Chastity. I never want my resources to exceed my skills, or my technology to exceed my talent. I want to make sure I earn, with years of frustrated labor, every bit of upgraded gear I buy. I want to struggle against, and even hate, the limits of the equipment I have, so that Iʼm forced to be creative with it, use it for unwarrantied, off-label applications, and generally make the most of it, suck every ounce of life out of it, and drive it into the ground before I graduate to the next thing. Iʼve found that this makes me a poorer technician, and often poorer crew worker, because Iʼm never up to date, but a better artist because it stretches me.

After watching this series, Iʼm tempted to call this the George Miller Path to Artistic Excellence. Every one of the original Mad Max movies has the deck stacked against it, either by circumstance or money or the constraints of the medium or by knowingly- unreasonable directorial ambition. That is, if the deck wasnʼt stacked against Miller from the get-go, it seems like he restacked it until it was. Every time, I think he looked at his gear, his budget, his crew, and his own talent and expertise, and said to himself, not “what can I do with this,” but “what can I just barely NOT quite manage to do with this,” and then tried to do that. Thatʼs how I work, too.

I think the second reason I wasnʼt totally overwhelmed is because I saw Snowpiercer last year, which already elevated my expectations of what an action movie could do, artistically and imaginatively and narratively and rhythmically and neurochemically and socio-politico-morally. Fury Road pulls off the same stunt a second time, and helps establish that the first experiment wasnʼt a fluke, that the results are valid because theyʼre repeatable. The greater reach and success of Fury Road (I think? Seems like itʼs more well-known, anyway) means that no one can claim they didnʼt get the memo on the new standards for action filmmaking. It sets the bar a whole lot higher for everyone. I dearly hope this provides the competition, check, and corrective the superhero industry so badly needs. I hope it lights a fire under Marvel, in particular—makes it get off its butt and hustle to keep up.

Watching The Avengers: Age of Ultron this week was actually the perfect palate cleanser. Hereʼs the best that mainstream action-adventure movies, as we know them, can offer in 2015. Now hereʼs Fury Road.

Lauren rightly observed that Fury Road makes The Avengers look like a TV show with a generous effects budget. Except a few sort of obvious hey-all-the-protagonists-are-in-the-same-frame-right-now moments, thereʼs not a lot of powerful iconography generated within the the eighteen-hours-or-whatever running time of Age of Ultron. In Fury Road, thereʼs not a frame wasted on anything that isnʼt a perfectly-composed, never-before-seen image that takes full advantage of the complete toolkit of cinema, both historic and modern, practical and intellectual.

If thereʼs anything that separates movies from TV these days, I think thatʼs probably it. The extent of the deliberate cinematic craftsmanship of each moment thatʼs expected of a film—in addition to writing and storytelling, which a TV show can do as well or better. (And it probably means that a lot of TV shows are really more like cinema—The Knick being my favorite example—and a WHOLE lot of movies, indies especially, are really more like TV episodes. Itʼs probably a flawed definition in the first place, but those are my feelings, in this year of my life at least.)

Urgency

And not to keep bashing The Avengers, but the theme of last nightʼs conversation was how come we donʼt care what happens to Iron Man really, but are apoplectic with fear for the fate of Furiosa and four or five girls weʼve only known for fifteen minutes. I think this is because getting to know and love a character over time offers, in the end, a weaker jolt than the more purely mechanical effect of clearly establishing real danger and real stakes in the script.

It’s because the Marvel movies are basically just cartoons, and because we know that even supporting characters probably wonʼt meet with difficult or unhygienic deaths, and because we know that the main characters are going to be fine because theyʼre starring in movies we already know the names of, to be released five or ten years from now. This led Lauren and me into a digression about Game of Thrones killing its lead characters without warning, etc., which I think actually helps establish a more ethical, decentralized, community-minded view of the world for the viewer, etc.

Iʼd say the same thing about Fury Road. Max might not die, but he might, and everyone else is absolutely fair game. And above all, fates that are physically and existentially much worse than death are very plausibly advertised to, and visited upon, lots of characters in this movie and in this series. We REALLY donʼt want those things to happen, and our brains are straining pretty hard to will those things not to happen.

And thatʼs not just a thrill ride for us to enjoy, but a pretty damning moral exercise, because itʼs impossible not to step out of this movie and realize that to a greater or lesser degree, the exaggerated torments of the post-apocalyptic world are actually happening, on micro and macro scales, in our own neighborhoods. I donʼt know if we really have global supervillains like Loki or Hydra or Ultron to worry about in our immediate daily lives (some of my libertarian friends will likely disagree with me there). But in our own immediate local communities, we do have dangerous patriarchal fallacies, and sexual abuses on a wide scale, and toxic narratives about war and combat and the glories of “Valhalla” and manning up, and itʼs all surprisingly recognizable even in a fabulous, allegorical format. Itʼs all stuff that, like Max, we slowly realize weʼre standing right in the middle of. The moral spotlight is on us, weʼre not anonymous, weʼre not bystanders who are just passing through. And we actually can, and therefore must, do something about this stuff, about the behavior of the very people we know immediately around us.

The particular moral trumpet-call for each viewer is probably different, but the thing that spoke to me most directly was the character Nuxʼs storyline. As someone who works with a lot of adolescent guys, caught between notions of boyhood and manhood (and to make matters potentially more confusing, growing up in a world teetering slowly and very unevenly from patriarchy towards feminism as the prevailing ideology), Nux struck me as a very accurate portrait. A passionate, impressionable, sincere young guy who takes the more habitual, or sensible, or involuntary conservatism of his elders, and whips it up into partisan extremism, dark anger, and shows of machismo, feeling that itʼs his ticket to the adultsʼ table. To see Nux fired up, broken down, and relearning what heroism can and should look like in a freer, healthier world is inspiring stuff. Itʼs particularly reassuring for an educator to see that guys like this can—and do, and will— grow up and turn out OK.

The tremendous amount of sympathy and dignity Fury Road offers Nux, while still revealing the immaturity and insufficiency of his view of the world, sets it apart from being just a hateful feminist screed against manhood qua manhood (I think fewer of these exist than a lot of people fear, but whatever), and makes me take the movie much more seriously as a work striving for total empathy (which is what I’d say drama is ultimately for).

Passivity

On the subjects of dark anger and shows of machismo, though: I havenʼt read it yet, but I understand that thereʼs an article out there written by a Menʼs Rights Activist-type (or possibly Christian Complementarian Godly-masculinity type) who is mightily cheesed off about Fury Road. Specifically, that Mad Max himself is routinely playing second fiddle to Imperator Furiosa, and is practically a guest-star in his own movie, and spends most of his time getting put in unpleasant binds, literally and figuratively, rather than kicking a lot of ass.

Iʼm not going to dignify this with a lot of comment about why female characters deserve as much agency in films as men do, because everyone knows I think that and everyone I know thinks that and we should hold that truth to be self-evident by now.

But I do think itʼs a point worth addressing, not only from a feminist-standpoint, but from a Mad-Max-standpoint—which I think any purported fan of Mad Max, feminist or not, should be able to get behind.

Messiness

Iʼll backtrack a little to build up to this argument. This week I saw all three original Mad Max films for the first time. In spite of what you may hear about Fury Road standing alone, I do strongly recommend seeing the first three first (if youʼre over 18 and/or have a particularly strong stomach for gore and grotesquerie).

The movies are just nuts, theyʼre all over the place, theyʼre a mess, and I feel a very tender affection for them. The first one barely makes narrative sense at all and is better enjoyed as if it were a Godard film or something. The second, The Road Warrior, (aka “the one people have actually seen,” I guess) is self-evidently strong on its own merits without me needing to point them out, but is also deeply weird and unsettling and misshapen in subtle ways. (The preponderance of leather chaps and dearth of pants, for one. Lauren calls this installment Ass Max.) The third, Beyond Thunderdome, didnʼt even start out as a Mad Max story on the page, Max just got grandfathered in (which, I think, is significant).

Theyʼre all three pretty weird. Itʼs hard to know who theyʼre meant for—kids? adults? The third in particular gets infected with Spielberg-Goonies-1980s childish whimsy in its action scenes, but forgets to clean up the gore and existential body-horror that would make such a change remotely appropriate for young audiences.

In the end, theyʼre, objectively, maybe not very good, and certainly wildly inconsistent, both intra- and inter-movie. But they remind me of the many other crazy, probably not objectively-always-great, undeniably-visionary series I love, series that also have no consistency, no polish or professionalism, and too many wild aspirations for artistic greatness.

The Mad Max movies are certainly heirs of Sergio Leoneʼs Dollars Trilogy, evident in their wandering, taciturn protagonist, stunning desert cinematography, etc. (and Beyond Thunderdome cribs from Lawrence of Arabiaʼs visuals a lot, on that note). But also in the way the cast and characters get recycled, transmogrified, redeployed out of context. Bruce Spence is an aircraft pilot in the third Mad Max movie who both seems like he sort of is but then definitely isnʼt the same pilot from the second movie, like Lee Van Cleef playing the pretty menacing ultimately-good-guy Mortimer in For a Few Dollars More but then playing the fascinating but-wholly-bad Angel Eyes in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Gian Maria Volonté does the same thing with two wholly unrelated main characters in the first two Dollars movies.

And in the way that Clint Eastwoodʼs Man with No Name is actually a man with three names (Joe, Manco, Blondie), one for each film, and may or may not be the same continuous personality from movie to movie. In a way, the three movies make more sense if heʼs just a repeated concept of a character who gets into three similar but ultimately non-continuous adventures in three parallel universes or something (which are evidently populated by various Lee Van Cleefs and Gian Maria Volontés).

I like to think that Mad Max is might be a similar stock type, played three times by Mel Gibson but maybe not entirely the same character each time, getting into various scrapes in three separate instantiations of what post-apocalyptic Australia might look like. And as if to cement this interpretation for Fury Road, Miller follows Leone in recasting the primary antagonist from the first movie, Hugh Keays-Byrne, as a totally different primary antagonist in the fourth film.

The Mad Max movies also resemble the Alien series, in that each movie works hard to undermine the world built by the director of the last movie and replace it with something that the current director finds more applicable to the problems of our time. Except that Mad Max is all directed by the same guy who just keeps changing his mind and gets more money to work with each time. (Another similarity with the Alien series.) And like the Alien movies, Miller seems to struggle each time to figure out who his movie is for, what genre it belongs in (if any), what contemporary trends it should imitate (theme songs? saxophones? slapstick? kiddie stuff? Tina Turner?), whether it should be darkly funny (like Alien 4) or or somberly meditative (Alien 3) or horrific (1) or straight-up action-packed (2), and so on and so forth.

As many of my students and colleagues know, I love any movie thatʼs a big awful mess, where the seams and patches are showing, because that prompts me to think about the process of creation, about ambition, about intention and execution, about vision, about art frankly. Mad Max movies offer these meditations in spades, and on top of that are exciting and visually breathtaking and above all, a little like many other things, but ultimately like nothing else. Which is another way for an artwork to earn its place in the canon, for me—if nothing else is quite like it.

Passivity 2

But perhaps the thing I love most about Mad Max is that “a Mad Max movie” means not so much that Mad Max is the protagonist, or that heʼs even on screen very much, but that it takes place in a certain world (or rather, one instantiation of a certain type of world). And Mad Max himself is, increasingly as the series goes on, merely one citizen of that world, a world that he keeps discovering is bigger than he imagined.

And it becomes clear, slowly, that Maxʼs place in that world is both more important and less important than he might think. I think this makes a great statement about cinema— about narrative, about the whole notion of protagonists in the first place—and about what individual human action is and isnʼt worth in the real world.

In the first movie, Mad Max is barely there (much less Mad, a description he only gets a minute from the end credits) for probably the first forty minutes, a fact that most summaries of the film conveniently forget when they recount the fifteen-minute quest for revenge that provides the most memorable (because most nearly intelligible) straightforward plot in the film. In the second film, The Road Warrior, Max is a jaded self-serving survivalist who happens to wander into a conflict between townsfolk and bandits, and gradually becomes enmeshed in it, until itʼs obvious that neither circumstance nor conscience will allow him to stand idly by. Itʼs very much a samurai story or gunslinger story or Han Solo story. Importantly, though, even after he does his (significant but not irreplaceable) part in saving the townsfolk, he cannot be part of their world, and disappears into the sunset like so many of his archetypal forbearers. In the end, we even realize that it was never his story—the opening voiceover belongs to an unexpected character, and we were really telling the story of this character and his people, not Max himself, the whole time.

In the third film, heʼs hailed as a possible savior by two very different communities—one ruthlessly mercantile and industrial, one primitive and tribal—but is reluctant to take on either messianic mantle, neither of which turn out to be a good fit anyway. In the end, his actions manage to help steer both communities towards safety and stability, but sort of by accident, and the real peace comes from the actions of two complex, visionary women (Tina Turner and that tribal girl who provides the end narration) who each pull civilization up by its bootstraps and reinvent history itself.

Both The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome are classical epics, really, each concerned with the founding and fate of a nation, led by an extraordinary, visionary hero. But Max is never this hero, nor is it his nation. And he plays an even less active role in Beyond Thunderdome than in The Road Warrior, left more and more to nurse his own psychological wounds, and marvel at the ingenuity and fortitude of mankind, which continues to survive and thrive produce new heroes in spite of his action or inaction.

(Meta-cinematically, behind the scenes, Beyond Thunderdome was a story Miller wanted to tell, about the tribe of feral youngsters reinaugurating the cycle of human history, and Mad Max himself was, as much as anything, a convenient and financially-viable pretext to tell that story. He literally stumbles into the tribeʼs story and stumbles out of it again. He realizes that nothing thatʼs happening is ultimately for, or about, him, as much as it might appear to be at first. And, appropriately, the film itself was never really meant to be about him anyway.)

On-screen, over the course of three films, Max comes to realize simultaneously that no man is an island (in spite of his efforts to withdraw from civilization entirely, the moral demands of the world come find him and force him to give a damn about other people if he wants to survive) while simultaneously coming to the uncomfortable realization that he is not special or indispensable.

This is why, for me, Fury Road is the perfect culmination of Maxʼs arc (again, allowing for the fact that this particular postapocalyptic Australia-or-wherever might not be precisely the same as before, and this Max neither comes before nor after Gibsonʼs but might exist parallel to him. That is, Fury Road must come after Beyond Thunderdome in the myth cycle, but may not have any specific relationship to it on an ordered, linear timeline. Itʼs hard to precisely date, or even order, any installment. (The Dollars trilogy has the same fascinating problems.)

By Fury Road, Max is even more psychologically scarred, even more withdrawn and focused on survival at any cost, and even less the savior everyone expects. He spent much of Beyond Thunderdome trapped, bound, hanging from chains, held at gunpoint, and otherwise powerless and incapacitated, and Fury Road takes his sufferings and indignities to new levels.

Max has always been a character that things happen to, rather than a character who makes things happen. Heʼs perhaps the most consistently passive action hero I can think of. The fact that he plays second fiddle to Charlize Theronʼs Furiosa is not so much some sinister feminist coup as a natural continuation of this tendency.

As in The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome, thereʼs not much Max wants in Fury Road besides his freedom, his relative physical safety, and a vehicle fast enough to help him maintain these. But as in the earlier movies, the road to independence and safety merges unavoidably with the path towards altruism and duty, and Max finds himself traveling on both for a few miles before realizing that community is its own kind of freedom, and duty is its own reward. When the time comes, he neglects to take the exit ramp to solitary safety, and throws in his lot with the community for a little while.

This means, though, that Max is always arriving a little late to the party. His arrival definitely changes things, and when he throws his resources into the pool, it suddenly makes possible certain risky schemes the community was cooking up before his arrival. “Hereʼs a guy who could help us drive the gasoline rig and break Humungusʼ siege.” “Hereʼs a guy who could defeat Blaster in the Thunderdome and undermine the pig- plant strike.” “Hereʼs a guy who could lead us to Tomorrow-Morrow land and back to civilization.” “Hereʼs a guy who could co-pilot the war rig while I deal with the bikers so we can get the wives to the Green Place. Max might be the man for the job.” (In at least half of these situations, Max is actually not quite the right man after all.)

In any case, the communities are far from powerless before Max arrives. He doesnʼt take any time to enlighten their savagery or perform feats they were too weak or naive to accomplish. He just pitches in, usually after much cajoling and bargaining. And when the community succeeds, itʼs not about Max. Itʼs their victory, because it was their suffering, their plan, their bravery, and their struggle and sacrifice that pulled it off.

True, Max did what was asked of him (usually a little less)—initially for reward, but ultimately because he acknowledged some inner sense of fellowship, empathy, conscience, humanity.

But this admission of common humanity is not a supererogatory heroic feat deserving of accolades and parades. Itʼs whatʼs asked of everyone equally. Itʼs the debt everyone owes everyone else from the moment weʼre born. Youʼre not special for doing it. Youʼre just doing your duty.

Thatʼs what the series is about, if you ask me.

By Fury Road, Max knows this drill. He doesnʼt expect to have to go through it again (privately, he really would rather be left alone with his own demons). But heʼs game. And it would be pretty senseless, tactically, for him to barge in and pretend he knows better than the people who designed the operation in the first place. (I guess I should go ahead and say “mansplain” here.)

I guess this is all to say I donʼt know what alternative the mens-rights or complementarian types would propose which wouldnʼt be, from a military standpoint, pretty dumb.

I think these guys are upset that it seems like itʼs almost Furiosaʼs movie, even though itʼs called Mad Max. They feel like they didnʼt get what it said on the package label, and didnʼt get what they paid for. What they paid for, they think, was a movie in which a man named Max is mad, and drives a dangerous car.

The fact is, though, it seems like itʼs almost Furiosaʼs movie because it IS Furiosaʼs movie. The same way Mad Max was Jim Gooseʼs movie as much as anything, and The Road Warrior was the Kidʼs origin story, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is a sort of positive spin on Lord of the Flies written by George Miller that just happens to borrow the name Mad Max, and had to borrow Max himself along with it.

In other words, no Mad Max movie is ultimately about Mad Max. “Mad Max” is just what we call movies about duty and community set in a post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland with skinheads driving souped-up murder cars.

Allies

With all this in mind, it occurs to me that Fury Road could be the closest thing we have to a handbook for how men should relate to the feminist movement (or white people to racial equality movements, and so on). Itʼs your fight, but remember that itʼs their fight. Itʼs on you, but itʼs not for you. Their victory will be good for you, too, in the end, but you donʼt do it because itʼs good for you. Do it because itʼs good for them. And do it because itʼs just how things should be.

Along the same lines, Fury Road is the perfect antidote to the bad aftertaste left by white savior fantasies like Avatar.

And really, the whole series is great for this stuff—again, The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome do exactly the same thing. To my mind, the only shortsightedness of the feminist hoopla surrounding Fury Road is that the Mad Max series has pretty much always had a great track record with this sort of thing, and Fury Road both is and isnʼt something special to celebrate.

It maybe just took Fury Road to make us realize that allyship—which I guess Iʼd define, in this case, as consenting to the dawning moral realization that you should, and must, subject your own needs and privileges and rights to fight for something that will not chiefly benefit you, and for which moreover you deserve no special credit for helping to bring about—is what Mad Max has always been about, to greater and greater extents as the series goes on.

(As I write this, I have just gotten into a short discussion with world-class barista and notoriously hard-to-please cinephile Lucas Alvarez, who gives Fury Road a 6 out of 10, partly because he doesnʼt feel the Max of Fury Road fills the shoes left by the Mel Gibson Max of the Road Warrior. I just told him what Iʼm trying to tell you, and he sees my point. But I guess this means the decentralization of Max as protagonist strikes other viewers as strange and unduly passive, even if theyʼre not menʼs-rights or complementarian types. Lucas, a feminist, also doesnʼt see why Fury Road gets so much press for being a feminist work when thereʼs a lot more feminist work out there and Fury Road could certainly be a lot more explicitly feminist than it is. My point is mostly that if a movie thatʼs pretty much just straight action scenes for can still manage to speak to concerns about patriarchal society and give its female characters agency and independence, without breaking a sweat, then that certainly sets the bar a lot higher for movies that have the luxury of long dialogue scenes and whatnot. I think whatʼs most feminist about Fury Road is that itʼs pretty ordinary and commonsensical in its treatment of male and female characters. If that looks hyperfeminist, that says a lot about the regressiveness of the films being released alongside it, and about us as consumers, who have been blithely accepting such films for so long. It sure makes Marvelʼs whole “hey we have Black Widow weʼve got lady concerns in our movies too” gambit look pretty paltry in comparison.)

(I guess Iʼd say that Fury Road is a feminist film insofar as itʼs the sort of story that would be more or less standard mainstream entertainment if we lived in a more equal society. The fact that we think itʼs really weird and wild and original in its treatment of gender just shows how unequal our society still is.)

Combat

This is a side point about female action heros and such, another thing Fury Road handles remarkably well. Nowadays at least, it tends to read pretty well when female characters have to fight a bunch of male antagonists (in films like Kill Bill, for example). We understand it as both a narrative necessity (bad guys prevent heroine from getting what she wants or needs, threaten her physical safety, she deals with them accordingly) and as a productive thought-provoking metaphor for the state of gender relations at large (in which bad guys stand in for forces of oppression and heroine stands in for the struggles of all women to be themselves, achieve personal goals, etc.)

But what to do when male characters must fight women? Doesnʼt this get tangled up with issues of violence against women, domestic violence, and so on? Isnʼt it irresponsible to put such a thing on screen?

Itʼs a problem thatʼs often invoked, in good faith, by feminists, and in bad faith by patriarchal male thinkers. (I call it bad faith because itʼs not so much that they care about the question itself, but because they chiefly want to find as many reasons as possible why we shouldnʼt have female action heros, or female soldiers in real-world combat, or women taking martial arts lessons, or whatever, and they think this is one of them.)

The most explicit unpacking of this conundrum Iʼve seen lately was in the climax of 22 Jump Street, although they didnʼt offer many progressive solutions to it, and ended up being paralyzed by the charactersʼ regressive attitudes. And there are other films that have male heroes engaged in combat with female villains, or female characters engaged in combat with male characters for other reasons (I feel like Black Widow in the Marvel films fights some superhero at some point). But every time Iʼve seen it, the film has made some effort to call attention to the fact that the character is a girl, and that that means violence against her is in someway a transgression of proper boundaries (even if itʼs a necessary one from a plot standpoint).

In all cases, the film goes way out of its way to show that the hero is conflicted about having to punch a lady, because sheʼs fragile and it would be unchivalrous, and so on. The film also goes way out of its way to show, and tell, that the woman is a woman, in case somehow you missed that part. Sheʼll have some wisecrack about being a girl, sheʼll break a nail and get upset, sheʼll be wearing some hyperfeminine (usually highly sexualized) outfit, or sheʼll just make a lot of yelps and whimpers at key moments to make the audience worry that the evil damsel is in too much distress. Or the whole business is played for comedy, which is usually worse in the end.

Iʼm trying to think of other examples, but none come to mind: Maxʼs fistfight with Furiosa might be the ONLY time Iʼve ever seen a male protagonist fight a female combatant on screen without hearing the filmmakers tee-heeing about it from behind the camera. Without the female character in some way being framed as a victim and the male one as a transgressor. Without the female character appearing waiflike or fragile or histrionic or hormonal, or alternatively, brutish and horrifying and somehow abominable because sheʼs too much like a man or something. Without the filmmakers implying that the male characterʼs very manhood is on the line if he either wins too unchivalrously, or loses too abjectly.

But this is a lot of patriarchal crap, so Miller just ignores it and barges through it. By staging and shooting this fight straight, impartially, and above all, well, Miller manages to neither apologize for nor sidestep the issue. He reveals it to be fundamentally a non-issue. Max fights Furiosa because he wants the truck, and because she canʼt let him take it. So they beat the tar out of each other. Thereʼs no chivalry, thereʼs no quarter, thereʼs no quipping, thereʼs no hand-wringing, thereʼs no irony, thereʼs no apology, thereʼs no allegory, thereʼs no sexual tension. And it makes us wonder why any of us felt we needed any of that in the first place.

(Once again, though, the groundwork for this was laid pretty well in Beyond Thunderdome, when Max decides he needs to knock out the young female leader of the tribe of children. Thereʼs a brief twinge of uncertainty on Maxʼs face, as though heʼs just realized sheʼs a girl, and is embarrassed to even be in such a situation where heʼd have to punch a girl, but then he sort of shrugs himself out of it, as if to say, well, I was already about to knock this person out, why does it make any difference to me that sheʼs female?)

Romance

On the subject of sexual tension, this is another thing I totally love about the Mad Max movies: except for his wife in the first film, Max never has a love interest. The movies never even play up a will-they-or-wonʼt-they tension between Max and a female character.

This is not to say that we as the viewers donʼt automatically think that any time we see a reasonably attractive female character on screen, Max is likely to notice her and weʼre likely to have some flirty banter coming up. But he never does, and it never goes anywhere. And we quickly realize that there were never any cues for a romantic liaison anywhere onscreen other than “thereʼs a pretty lady,” and weʼre so conditioned to expect any and all pretty ladies to get matched up with our male protagonists that we assume this one is headed straight for Maxʼs bedroom one way or another. We make up our romantic suspense out of whole cloth, and the joke is completely on us if weʼre expecting such a thing to happen.

I donʼt think this is just my male gaze talking, since while we were watching the original trilogy, Lauren was just as strongly expecting Max to hook up with one of the female characters whenever they showed one. “Oh hey, this must be the babe,” sheʼd say, predicting the next step in the 80s-action formula.

Afterward she astutely summed up the sexual dynamics of the complete series as “Mad Max: No Time to Bang.” The most explicit visual articulation of this comes in The Road Warrior, when a soldier of the besieging scavenger army and his lady friend are caught au naturel and in flagrante when their makeshift tent gets blown away by a passing vehicle. But thatʼs pretty much the reality for everyone in the Mad Max universe, and rightly so: this is not a story where characters have a lot of leisure to check out and chat up an attractive fellow survivalist while theyʼre barreling down the blacktop and bombarded by exploding spears thrown by mohawked hooligans.

The reason Max and Furiosa arenʼt flirting isnʼt that theyʼre reminding themselves to be polite and respect professional boundaries. Itʼs because theyʼre cognizant of the buzzsaw-wielding berserkers on the roof. Max isnʼt being gentlemanly, heʼs just not stupid enough to wonder whether a woman driving a tanker truck at a hundred miles an hour might be doing so for his attention or arousal. And vice versa for Furiosa. And when you think about it, very rarely should there be time for such a thing in our own workplaces, either, even though so many men decide to take time out of their (and their female coworkersʼ) busy schedules for it. We would all do well to remember that frankly, there is just no time to bang.

Fluids

I just think it was cool how we devolved from gasoline as the rare, universally-desired McGuffin commodity of The Road Warrior, to methane and pig poop and, by extension, pig bodies as the commodities of Beyond Thunderdome, to human bodies as the commodity of Fury Road. Fluids like milk, blood, and so on, treated with the same dispassionate utilitarianism as we treat gasoline today. Dante would have gotten a huge kick out of the opening scenes where Max undergoes the ultimate contrapasso-style infernal punishment, paying for his old lust for gasoline by becoming the “gas tank” for a demonic fiend. And his redemptive decision to undergo the same indignity to save another human soul at the end. We could theologize all day about this one.

Based on the ideas of passivity and duty and sacrifice-without-reward above, a section could be written called The Universal Donor, considering Maxʼs blood type as an allegory for his character arc, but thatʼs actually the extent of my observation just now.

Kinship

From The Road Warrior on, but especially after Fury Road, I have to feel that Jodorowskyʼs sprawling microbudget ultra-violent surrealist-religio-humanist epic El Topo was an artistic touchstone for George Miller, and that makes me happy.

Particularly the heroʼs descent from active to passive, selfish to self-sacrificing, and (most sacrificially of all) from protagonist to supporting character.

As I learned from reading the A.V. Club, the other spiritual sibling of Fury Road circulating in todayʼs zeitgeist is, get this, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And theyʼre right. Females are strong as HELL. Thereʼs even a mashup on YouTube.

A Court of War and Starlight: Part 56

(Read: Part I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | XIII | XIV | XV | XVI | XVII | XVIII | XIX | XX | XXI | XXII | XXIII | XXIV | XXV | Nessian I | XXVI | XXVII | XXVIII | Elucien I | XXIX | XXX | XXXI | XXXII | XXXIII | XXXIV | XXXV | Elucien II | XXXVI | XXXVII | XXXVIII | Nessian II | XXXIX | XL | Feyrhys I | XLI | Elucien III | XLII | XLIII | Elucien IV | Nessian III | XLIV | XLV | XLVI | Elucien V | Azriel I | XLVII | XLVIII | XLIX | L | Elucien VI | Moriel I | LI | LII | LIII | LIV | LV | LVI | LVII | LVIII | LIX | LX | LXI | Nessian IV | LXII | LXIII | LXIV | LXV | LXVI | LXVII | LXIII | LXIX | LXX | LXXI | LXXII | LXXIII | LXXIV | LXXV | Epilogue )

CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX

When I returned to the bedroom we’d been given, I picked up the note I’d written from the table beside where Elain and Lucien slept curled against each other, his nose buried in her hair. I was startled for a moment by just how right they seemed together. And for an awful, wonderful moment, I felt my mate’s hands wrapping around my waist, his lips against my neck …

He was coming for me. That was what the Suriel had said.

The Suriel had said many things.

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Ask a Stupid Question

Title: Ask a Stupid Question
Fandom: Haikyuu!!
Pairings: Ennoshita Chikara/Futakuchi Kenji
Summary: Captains Futakuchi, Ennoshita, Yahaba, and Shirabu are interviewed for a TV spot. Futakuchi has a little too much fun. (Datekou Week Day 5: Time)
Word Count: 1975

AO3 Link

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anonymous asked:

I have a Steggy AU prompt, if you're taking them: Peggy is a wartime singer (ala Vera Lynn) but dreams of joining the army and Steve is the quiet soldier who admires her from afar, and whom she notices when no one else does. So kind of like a gender-swap, really. I was listening to Vera Lynn today and I just thought it would make a good AU. We're always in need of more Steggy AUs. Especially happy ones. :)

Sorry for taking so long to get to this, Anon. I had to think quite hard about this one, so I hope this is the sort of thing you had in mind.

He heard her voice long before he ever saw her.

The first time was huddled around a fire with some of the guys from the 107th, trying desperately to stay warm in a North European winter, static in the background as someone fiddled with the wireless radio in the hope of connecting to home somehow. Then the static gave way to her singing and Steve felt his heart stop. Her voice was rich and smooth, and he would have sworn that he could feel it sliding over his skin like silk, raising goosebumps over his flesh. He wasn’t the only one to stop short at the sound.  Heads turned, and before long a whole crowd was gathered around the radio.

They started tuning in every night for the chance to hear her sing. It was noticeable that everyone’s moods were improved, more cheerful, on the nights her song played. Someone must have written home about it, because one night the presenter introduced her as the Sweetheart of the 107th. A cheer went up when their commanding officer announced that she was coming to the front to perform for them.

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at the gala

((i have once again arrived with a ficlet that no one asked for. this one has the Dreemurr trio at an art and culture exhibition for monsters. the three of them are about 18-20. if you wanna know what Chara looks like here, look at this wonderful art by the amazing paychiri. hope you all enjoy this! thanks!))

((EDIT: so paychiri drew this incredible piece for this fic and i’m tearing up they’re so awesome))


“It was a really great performance,” Asriel commented casually. Chara took a small sip of their tea, nodding in thanks to Asriel. “I especially liked the part where the old senator from Maine was trying to figure out if you were monster or human.”

Chara nearly spit out their tea, but they barely managed to contain themselves. “A-are you serious?” Small laughs escaped them no matter how hard they tried to keep a straight face. “Is it because I look scary?”

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The General

Here. Have another random drabble (this was supposed to be short but well my mind just kind of took off). I dunno if anyone reads these lol but I like sharing them regardless haha.

Oh and this one is not part of the ‘Who are you’ thing I got going on. This is completely different :D


Elsa was silently reading over a few trade documents until a knock was heard at her door. She breathed a sigh of relief for the interruption.

“Enter.”

The door opened to reveal a heavily armored man who looked to be in his late thirties. The crocus symbol of Arendelle was engraved deeply into his chest plate and she smiled slightly at the sight.

“Thank you for coming Captain Warhol,” Elsa spoke. She had never met the Captain of the guard before but she knew there was gratitude to be had from her end. He approached the desk she was seated behind and gave a low bow.

“It is an honor to finally meet you in person your Majesty.” He stood back to his full height and gave a warm smile. “I must say you are the spitting image of your mother working on documents in such a manner.”

Elsa gave a light laugh and smiled in return. “So I have been told.”

“I assume you have not summoned me here for minor chit chat,” he chuckled then continued, “So how may I be of service to you my Queen?”

The Queen stood from her chair and walked over to the window overlooking the courtyard where the stables were located. She spotted a familiar redhead riding her horse, Lars, in the training grounds. Elsa smiled at the carefree look her sister had. Her happiness increased as she watched Anna laugh openly, braids whipping around freely this way and that. For a brief moment of observation, Elsa’s heart fluttered at the attire her sister sported.

She certainly does wear that tunic rather well. Elsa blushed at her improper thoughts and suddenly realized that she was not alone in her study to ponder further on them. She coughed in her hand and brought her attention back to the Captain who didn’t seem fazed by her daydreaming. If anything, he merely looked curious.

“C-” her voice squeaked but she quickly remedied it by clearing her throat, “Captain Warhol, I just wanted to personally thank you for overlooking Arendelle’s army. I have been looking at certain documents from my earlier days of…seclusion before I became Queen and I must say I am thoroughly impressed at how far our borders have expanded while in your command. I also had the privilege of walking through the army barracks and was astonished at how talented our soldiers are.”

The Captain proudly smiled, “The men work hard for their country and they are talented no doubt. We are lucky to have such a good core.”

“Indeed we are,” she replied. “Anyways, thank you Captain for all your hard work overseeing everything and ensuring our victories. I am relieved to know we have a good man in command of the military affairs.”

What Elsa expected was a simple ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘it’s no problem’ but the reaction she received was completely the opposite. He gave her a slightly confused look at her thanks but then began to rub his chin while looking up into space. The Captain was pondering on something but what…she was not sure. The blonde woman decided to wait it out and sure enough it wasn’t long before he looked her way again.

“I see you have not been informed yet,” he mused. “You have been Queen for quite some time now and yet…”

Informed of what?

“I apologize I don’t seem to follow…” Elsa trailed off confused.

“For starters,” he gave a light laugh averting his look to a vase that held a few sunflowers that were gifted from her sister. He didn’t bother to look away from the objects before continuing, “I am not the correct person to be thanking. I merely follow instructions from our General.”

Elsa eyes widened a fraction. General? She had not read any accounts on a so called General within her ranks. As far as she knew, the Captain held the highest title in the army. There was no proof of any documents anywhere that signified someone higher than Captain Warhol.

“I was not aware we had a General, Captain. I have not read or seen anyone by the title,” she calmly said trying not to be annoyed at not knowing this bit of information. Her eyes wandered back outside to the sight of her sister. This seemed to calm her somewhat.

“Well…she–”

Elsa whipped her head around, “She?”

He finally looked away from the flowers to Elsa and once again offered an apologetic smile, “Yes, she requested that she work from behind the scenes for now – ‘Off the books’ as I remember her saying. Though I must say, she is probably one of the better leaders in the military this country has ever had. Especially at her age! The young woman definitely takes after her father in social military affairs as well as on the field.”

“What is the name of her father? Maybe I have come across him in court before.” She realized she should have just asked upfront for the name of this womanly General but it was a bit late for that. Her musings were cut short when she noticed the Captain go quiet for a moment. He seemed conflicted about answering but in the end it seemed he gave in and sighed. The older man quietly mumbled something about ‘making me do the dirty work’ but she ignored it.

“Her father’s name was Agnarr,” he spoke as Elsa waited with bated breath for him to finish, “King Agnarr to be more specific in title.”

Elsa stared at him in shock and he looked on at her with a tiny hint of amusement. She tried to reel in the information but failed. “I know for fact that I’m not commanding any army so if what you say is true then surely you can’t mean…”

“I surely do mean who you are referring to your Majesty. She has been overseeing military affairs for some time now and is a natural at what she does.”

Elsa swiftly turned to the window to look for her sister. She was perched up on a fence feeding apples to Lars. Anna made silly faces and laughed before her horse nudged her off the back causing her to tumble ungracefully backwards. The redhead shot up from the ground and started flailing her arms around. She was…arguing with her horse, Lars. Elsa put her hands over her heart feeling a bit taken aback at the new information.

This is just too impossible to wrap my head around. Anna, my quirky and fun sister Anna, is the General of Arendelle? As if the Captain heard her thoughts, he spoke up.

“Princess Anna rarely leaves the castle for the tasks she assigns us but…” he trailed off and Elsa tore her eyes away from her sister to study him. His demeanor had turned serious and his lips seemed to form a grim line. “From what I have seen from the times the General does accompany us, I would never want to be on the receiving end of her blade.”

This…I can’t–

“I see,” she whispered trying to reel it all in. An image of her sister wielding a sword danced across her vision, as she sat saddled on her noble steed. The Queen straightened up and brought her hands to clasp in front of her. She turned to the other man. “As it stands, I still thank you for serving Captain Warhol. I appreciate all that you’ve done for Arendelle and hope you continue to serve our nation proudly.”

This time he responded appropriately and bowed, “It is a pleasure to serve for Queen and country. I will continue fighting as long as Arendelle shall have me.”

Elsa felt a genuine smile form, briefly forgetting that her sister was running the military. It was a good feeling to see the sincerity and loyalty in someone. They were rare attributes to come across these days – especially among her councilmen and nobles.

She brushed those thoughts aside for now. “Thank you Captain. I believe that will be all.”

“Your Majesty.” He gave a small bow before turning around to exit out the door, leaving Elsa alone once again in her study.

She sighed and turned back to watch her sister once more. Instead of the goofy persona the redhead showed earlier, the young woman displayed a different side that Elsa rarely ever saw. Back straight and head held high, she brought her horse into a slow, controlled canter. She sat atop Lars in a posture that exuberated nobility and power. Anna was not smiling this time around but rather held a stern expression.

Powerful beauty, Elsa thought as she watched her sister for a few more fleeting moments before heading back to her desk. As she sat down, she regarded the sunflowers in the corner of her desk.

You and I, General, are going to have a long talk tonight about your secret military affairs.

Broadway pt6

Nino fidgeted with his tie only for his hands to be gently swatted away.

“Nino you’re making it crooked.” Alya stated glancing at the offending piece of clothing. Nino only gave a sheepish smile attempting to fix the damn thing only to ruin the knot further. Alya audibly sighed but a small smile was present on her face as she stopped them both to fix Nino’s tie.

“Why did you even chose a Broadway show for a date when you can’t even stand a suit for longer than five minutes.” Alya teased as they continued on toward the theater’s entrance.

“Well I hear chicks dig suits and artsy crap so I was like a fancy dinner then Broadway would be perfect date.” Nino explained with a self satisfied grin.

“Wow how very perceptive of you,” Alya stated a bit too sweetly, “I’m sure the fact that the tickets were free had nothing to do with your decision.” Nino flinched meeting Alyas knowing smirk.

“Your friend offered you tickets to?” He asked sighing when Alya nodded her head, “Well i’m not going to lie the tickets being free didn’t hurt but come on don’t deny the fact that you didnt also want to come and support your friend.”

“Maybe, but no freebies next time.” Alya stated offhandedly as they entered the theater lobby.

“Next time?” Nino grinned excitement bubbling in his chest.

Alyas eyes widened a fraction a faint blush making its way onto her face, “ Don’t act so satisfied two dates isn’t much.” Alya explained regaining control of the situation.

“If you say so,” Nino shrugged the smile still present on his face as he gave a slight bow toward the doors of the theater foyer, “After you your highness.”

Nino was ready to shoot himself. It seemed like the play had started hours ago and Nino still had yet to see any sign of Adrien.

Alya glanced at him as he got up to go to the “bathroom” for the fifth time that night but Nino just gave her a weak smile. Luckily for him their seats were right next to the aisle or else Nino wouldn’t have been able to escape so frequently. Once out of sight he let his shoulders sag and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He shuffled into the lobby and with an exaggerated groan plopped upside down into one of the many cushiony seats an arm tossed over his eyes to block out the light.

“Not a fan of Les Mis?” A voice questioned. Nino peeked out from under his arm to see a dark haired man with a full goatee sitting a few seats away. Nino righted himself giving a sheepish smile.

“Looks like the jig is up,” Nino joked,“ Im more of headphones and jeans kind of guy.”

“Prefer listening in the comfort of your own home.” The man smiled kindly.

“Well listening is nice but I’d rather be making my own beats than listening to someone else’s.” Nino explained, pride bubbling in his chest at the mans impressed expression.

“Do you do lyrics?” The man questioned leaning forward in his seat.

Nino scratched his cheek his face pensive, “Well I do a bit of freestyling but not much else.”

The mans face brightened,“ Would you be willing to do a bit of back and forth with me? I’m having trouble with some lyrics of mine.”

“Why not. I’m not exactly looking to go back in yet” Nino shrugged. The man gave an excited nod before beginning to tap a steady beat on the armrest of his chair.

“You’ve invented a new kind of stupid.” The dude began before pointing to Nino.

“A Damage you could never undo kind of stupid” Nino continued making sure to keep in time with the beat.

“Open all the cages in the zoo kind of stupid.” The man shot back.

“Clearly you didn’t think this thr-”

“Nino!” Nino whipped around to see a annoyed Alya standing close to the theater doors. “Adrien and Marinette are gonna be on soon. Come on.”

“I’ll be there in a sec.” Nino promised.

“Sorry I got to go it was cool meeting you um…” Nino trailed off realizing he never got the mans name.

“You can call me Manuel and its fine,” the man got up offering a handshake to Nino. “ It was a pleasure meeting you, you have some real talent.” Nino only smiled

“Thanks if you ever want to do another round of freestyling just hit up Club Miraculous and ask for Nino.” Manuel nodded his head before saying goodbye the two men going their respective ways.

Nino made his way back to his seat offering a small apology to Alya who merely waved him off.

“It’s fine the plays putting me to sleep to.” Alya whispered as she dug around in her bag Nino glanced at her curiously but turned his attention back toward the stage. Adrien’s childhood friend, chloe,and some older bearded guy were walking across the stage as other various actors bustled about almost blocking a familiar blonde head.

“Yo Adrien!!!” Nino yelled hopping up in his seat to get a better view of the stage, “Babe look look it’s my boy.” Nino said excitedly as he swatted at Alyas shoulder.

“Nino sit down you’re gonna get us kicked…” Alya started only to jump to her feet as well before she could finish her sentence camera in hand, “Marinette WOOOOHOOO!!! You go gurl!” Both adults waved excitedly trying to get their best friends attention.

“Madame Sir I’m going to have to ask you to settle down or you will be removed from the theater.” A voice calmly stated from the aisle. Nino gave the guard a thumbs up before giving one last “whoop” and dragging Alya and himself back into their seats.

“Did you get a good shot of them?” Nino asked trying to see Alyas camera. Alya nodded showing Nino a picture of the moment Adrien saw Marinette.

“If a picture could tell a story this one would be an award winner.” Alya whispered her voice full of pride. Adrien gazed at Marinette adoringly a hundred watt smile on his face while Marinette met his gaze head on with a softer smile but her eyes held just as much adoration as Adriens .

From that point on Nino felt nothing but pride as Adrien pranced and sang his way across the stage. Nino was rather invested in the plays love story “Marius” doing a fantastic job of playing a love sick fool and “Cosette”, the ever charming and infatuated love interest. It was all fine and dandy till Cosette had to go and get shot. Nino watched in teary mortification as Cosette died in Marius’s arms the only kiss the two ever sharing being a tender kiss to her forehead after she died.

“What the hell.” Nino whispered loudly poking Alyas arm, “What’s going on you said Cosette and Marius live happily ever after?” Nino accused.

“Yeah they do.” Alya whispered back confused at the look of betrayal on Ninos face.

“Bruh I don’t know if we’re watching the same thing but Marius’s one true love just died.” Nino deadpanned. Alya stared blankly at Nino before realizing he was being completely serious.

“Nino Marinette is Eponine not Cosette, Marius is in love with the blonde rich girl.” Alya explained slowly shocked at Ninos obliviousness .After a minute of watching the gears in Ninos head turn the poor man sank into his seat defeated.

“Adrien’s not a very good actor.” Nino pouted.

———

Nick burst into the theater running up onto the stage where various actors stood getting their costumes touched up. The actors gazed curiously at the out of breath producer who was doubled over trying to catch his breath.

“You okay Nick?” Marinette asked looking up from the hem of Adriens pants.

“The reviews are in” Nick wheezed holding up a wrinkled Newspaper. At his words all the actors not getting their costumes tailored rushed to Nick talking excitedly. Marinette would have continued fixing Adriens pants if the man hadn’t started twitching obviously eager to hear the review as well. Marinette sighed but pinned the pants quickly and got up.

“Come on.” Marinette grabbed Adrien and pulled him toward the crowd.

Nick had just caught his breath when Marinette and Adrien joined the crowd, Nick cleared his throat and began to read,“Over the weekend I had the privilege to go to the opening of one of the most famous Broadway plays "Les Miserables”. The play as most know follows the life of a man by the name Jean Valjean during a time of rebellion in France. Like always the music was-“

"Skip to what they thought about the actors.” Someone called from the crowd getting a small murmur of agreement.

Nick gave a small huff of annoyance but obeyed skimming the article for the desired details,” Though both the music and overall plot obviously hold a spot in any Broadway enthusiasts heart it was the actors that sealed the deal. Every actor became their character making it seem like the audience was watching a real piece of history. Some of the more commendable character interactions included the palpable tension between Jean Valjean and Javert… as well as the madame and monsieur Thenardier their presence and dialogue ever a joy bringing a sense of comedy into a more serious plot… but the characters with the most chemistry were…“ Nick read before trailing off his brow raised an amused smile on his face as he continued to read silently.

"Interesting.” Nick muttered turning away and walking over to the ever patient Mr. Fu who sat off to the side while the the actors took a small break. Nick offered the paper to the older man pointing to a specific paragraph. After a minute a smile made its way onto Mr. Fus face his eyes sparkling with mirth.

“What’s so interesting?” Chloe demanded haughtily walking over and trying to snatch the paper away. Nick avoided her hands glancing up at his audience meeting Marinettes and Adriens eyes an impish smile making its way onto his face as he continued reading,“….the characters with the most chemistry were none other than Eponine and Marius. One of the most common aspects of this play is the unrequited love between Eponine and a certain revolutionary. Yet the actors for Marius (Adrien Agreste) and Eponine (Marinette Dupain-Cheng ) seemed to have a different interpretation. From the moment Eponine stepped on stage Marius whole demeanour changed. While Marius did seem infatuated by Cosette his dreamy look was quickly overshadowed by the radiant smile that overtook his face the moment Eponine came into view. There were never any grand proclamations of love but no one could deny the obvious romantic tension between the two…..” Nick finished letting everyone take in what he had just read.

“How dare someone write su-such SLANDER!” Chloe screeched stomping away Sabrina following closely behind yelling compliments to try and pacify the fuming girl. The crowd watched Chloe go but once she was out of earshot the actors erupted into conversation excited they weren’t the only ones who saw what was going on between the two young actors.

“It’s going to be a long day isn’t it?” Marinette groaned looking at all the knowing glances being thrown her and Adriens way. Marinette spared a glance at Adrien to see how he was taking the news. Despite a slight blush Adrien didn’t seem all that embarrassed in fact he looked a little pleased.

“You know when i first met you Marinette, you did look familiar.” Adrien said aloud tapping his chin pensively thoroughly confusing Marinette with his words and getting the attention of the surrounding crowd who all leaned in eager to hear what he had to say.

“Yeah didn’t we have a class together,” Adrien snapped his fingers his eyes widening in recognition though Marinette saw the mischievous twinkle in his eyes, “I could have sworn we had chemistry.”

The room was dead silent Adrien shooting finger guns at Marinette a goofy open mouth smile present on his face waiting for her reaction. Marinette opened and closed her mouth but couldnt find anything to say with an annoyed huff she spun on her heel and walked away.

“Aw Marinette come on I ZINC you’re over reacting!” Adrien yelled chasing after Marinette.

“Don’t even start Agreste.” Marinette called back.

Everyone watched as the two young adults disappeared backstage one yelling puns the other yelling threats. The other actors shook their heads in exasperation or chuckled to themselves going back to what they were doing. Nick watched in amusement chuckling along with Mr.Fu

“Well those two seem to balance each other out nicely.” Nick grinned looking to Mr. Fu who smiled.

“Yes it seems as if they were made for each other.” Mr. Fu stated matter of factly.