part of the new stage

A New Beginning 2/?

Next part - and welcome Tony to stage. About 6k words, so watch for the cut.

Part One

Music poured onto the street, a thumping base and a higher sputter of melody that made Steve’s heart rate pick up. Steve hesitated on the sidewalk, eyeing the long line to get into the club. His throat tightened and he swallowed hard, trying to loosen it. The tightness spread down to his collarbone, and into his sternum, making his chest ache. He felt the ache in his shoulders, his elbows, his hips, his ankles. It was a fever-ache, and no position was comfortable – even standing still sent throbbing pulses up his legs and wedged a deep pain in his lower spine.

The people in line added to the thrum of the music. They were a constant tug on his attention, a radiating warmth that made him shiver. His teeth ached, and his mouth flooded with saliva.

He moved a hand over his stomach, even though he wasn’t that kind of hungry. He was frustrated and unhappy, restless in his own skin.

“Hey, buddy!”

Steve looked up. The bouncer had one end of the velvet cord in hand, his eyebrow twitched up his forehead, chin tilted slightly down, but chest thrust out. It was the curious mix of subservience and dominance that a man in his position had to take on.

“You coming in, or what?”

Steve transferred his gaze to the long line of patrons waiting to get in and then cocked his head questioningly at the bouncer. He pried a hand out of his jacket pocket to gesture to the waiting crowd. “There’s a line.”

“Not for you, hotcakes. Come on.” He gestured into the darkened interior and gave Steve an obligatory smile, turned down slightly at the edges. He didn’t meet Steve’s eyes.

Normally, Steve would have gotten in line with the rest of the patrons. He glanced over at them again, expecting anger and annoyance. There was some of that, but more of them were eyeing him in either trepidation or lust. He ducked his head, kept his eyes away from theirs, and slid sideways into the depths of the club.

Steve hated the noise, the crush of bodies, the mingled scents of sweat, colognes and perfumes, the dry ozone of the fog machines, the sharp tang of dust burning on the lights. He’d always hated clubs, but the ache started fading as soon as he’d stepped down to the floor. He’d gone with Bucky the first few times, watching his friend work his magic among the patron that flocked to Steve’s side. It had been miserable with their hands on him stacked against the knowledge that he could Seduce any of them and they wouldn’t be able to say no if he didn’t want them to. So he started going alone, huddled against the bar for as long as he could get away with being alone, and just soaked up the energy of the room. When the ache got bad enough, he would move into the crowd and stand among the strangers to feel their skin brushing against his.

He let out a slow breath, felt his shoulders start to unknot. His entrance did not go unnoticed, and fingertips ghosted over his shoulder and down his spine as he passed through the crowd. His skin jumped, and his throat tingled at the contact, but he shied away from the hand and pushed his way to the bar.

“Stupid,” he hissed to himself. Contact was what he’d dragged himself into the club for in the first place.

A long-limbed nymph slid down the bar. She was just over seven feet tall, with pale green skin and luminous yellow eyes, her hair caught up in a tall violet swirl atop her head that added another foot to her height. Her neck seemed too slender and too long to hold her head up, but she leaned down to the bar top with a graceful swoop.

“What can I get for you, lover?” she asked.

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Venture~Second Part~

“A stage of new revelation…”

“You don’t understand me at all, Umi!! All I want was to spend my times with you!” Maki shouted as she suddenly rose up from her seat and glaring at the blue-haired girl

“I know, Maki. Me too. Please understand, okay? Both of us need to finish our tasks first, right? Don’t be a spoiled little girl all over again.” Well, Umi herself was a little bit irritated by the red-haired girl

“Wha-? Spoiled little girl?” her eyes suddenly seemed empty and she concluded the whole fighting conversation “Fine, then. I will do as you wish, Umi.” Umi tried to hold Maki back, but the junior wouldn’t care at all at this point and she just went straight to the door, leaving Umi alone there, confused.

Maki’s mind was too occupied with Umi’s not-so-harsh words and from that point onwards, she always avoid seeing her senior. Obviously she also rejected all calls she got from her, so did she ignored all the messages. At first, even Eli tried to reconcile both of her juniors, but to no avail. She knew it too well that dealing with Maki plus Umi took more than just a status of her as their senior. After Maki said that she would end their fight soon, Eli stopped meddling with their affairs. Kotori also said to Eli, if both Maki and Umi were fighting, it’s best to leave them alone because they would reconcile all on their own. Well, the senior accepted the theory in the end.

It took almost a month after the fight they had at their usual café. No reply and no call whatsoever. “She was really mad at me, huh?” mumbled Umi as she stared at her coffee. “I know it’s my fault for saying things like that, but it’s almost took a month and she didn’t even had a will to reconcile? Am I that worthless to her now?” her tears started to fall slowly as she tried to calm herself before everyone in the café realized she was crying there alone.

Calming down was successful and when Umi was about to leave, someone she knew approached her. It was Mika, her fellow students back in Otonokizaka who took her study at Maki’s university. And by the way, she knew about her relationship with Maki. With that in mind, she happily greeted her long-time-no-see friend and said that she was really envious of Umi and Maki who would go to Uchiura tomorrow. At this point, Umi was confused. She was in the middle of her fight with Maki, so there’s no way her junior would invite her. But since it would do nothing good if she revealed that fact to her excited friend, she acted happy in front of Mika. After the talk, she went back to her house as fast as she could.

“Tomorrow, huh? Uchiura… Ah, Yoshiko-chan’s place. But she might be overreacting if she knew I want to go there. Oh, Riko-chan! Yes, Riko-chan!” as if a wondrous idea visited her mind, Umi took her cell and called the girlfriend of her cousin. When Umi told Riko about her predicament here, the younger girl happily accepted the request and said that she would find her teacher for Umi. Right after the call, Umi started to prepare for her sudden trip tomorrow. Even if Riko didn’t find that hard-headed lovely girl she would find her herself.

Morning came but there’s no call from Riko. “Wait a little bit more, then…” said Umi to herself as she fidgeted and walked around her room with uneasiness. Hours passed and it’s already 2. “If only I didn’t pissed her off that day we might be heading to Uchiura together right now…” she blamed herself almost the same way as her junior did in Uchiura. She waited and waited while she held on the tears of worries that might fell at any moment now. Luckily, after an hour of constant dilemma, Riko called her. And much to her delight, she confirmed that Maki was there in Uchiura. So, without a moment’s hesitation, Umi went out from her house and told her parents that she’s heading to Numazu to help Yoshiko with her study so she might spend the night there.

Meanwhile, in Uchiura Riko was having a trouble. A big one, that is. After the call earlier, she finally took a glance at her phone and realized that the number of missed call from her girlfriend was exceeding 50. “What should I do? What should I do? She might be crying right now…!! Uwaaaaaaa” Riko talked to herself, worrying about the chance that Yoshiko might be coming to Uchiura right now because of her. And not long after her premonition, the fallen angel really did came to her house. After a series of acting like she’s not home, Riko finally surrendered to her fate and let Yoshiko inside (Riko’s parents were not in home).

“Where have you been, Riko!?” Yoshiko’s tone was drenched with the visible anger and sadness in her eyes

“I-I was at Mari’s place just now, Yocchan…” Riko realized that Yoshiko didn’t call her Lily and it must be a big wave of scolding not long after this

“Is that so? Then why didn’t you answer my call?” Yoshiko’s eyes started to seem teary and slowly tears fell

“I-I left my phone at home just now, Yocchan. Forgive me, okay?” hoped for simple forgiveness

“Here you are playing happily with others while I was really worried there!! What if something happened to you!? Can’t you understand that I’m really afraid of losing you, Riko!?” Yoshiko no longer hold down and so she scolded her senior

In her head, Riko had no way of escaping anymore. If she wanted this matter with her girlfriend to end well, she needed to sacrifice Umi-san. But if she did so, she might be punished later on by the older girl (she got one hell of a scolding when she was yelling at Yoshiko half a year ago when they were supposed to be alone together until suddenly Umi arrived at Yoshiko’s place). Then again, if she had to choose between the two girls, it’s obvious whom she’s going to choose. So, with that in mind, she hugged her girlfriend, forcing the junior to hear all of her real reasoning.

“Yocchan, calm down and listen to me!” she hugged Yoshiko

“No, I’m leaving!!” refusal

“Please!! I will tell you what actually happened, okay?” she tried

“No, I don’t want to!!” another refusal

“C’mon, it’s also involved Umi-san!” and after Riko’s words, Yoshiko stopped her struggling to leave Riko’s arms

“T-Then, explain it to me…” Yoshiko stopped her crying and now her ears are willing to hear the whole story

So Riko explained about the request she got from Umi. At first Yoshiko was surprised that her cousin didn’t contact her and instead called her girlfriend, but when Riko said that her cousin wanted to avoid getting caught heading there by her own girlfriend, Yoshiko accepted it. Well, she knew she’s almost in euphoria state every time she knew her cousin was going to her place. And after a series of apology kisses from Riko, Yoshiko finally calmed down and thus they waited for Umi who’s heading to their place.

About an hour later, Umi called Riko and said that she was close so she needed Riko to pick her up. So, Riko and Yoshiko left to wait for the bus in front of the bus station near her house. A few minutes it took and there was Umi getting out from the bus and Yoshiko suddenly ran and hugged her there. Well, Umi squeezed her cheeks and said that if she’s going to be a bother then she would never accompany her again in Tokyo. And so, with Riko’s visible jealousy and Yoshiko’s acceptance, the three of them went to Chika’s inn.

Knowing nothing about her girlfriend was just a few meters away from her, Maki was currently resting herself inside her room after a series of people (actually, just two of them) falling unconscious when they saw her. She was a bit surprised that after all these five years, their group was still famous and considered to be a legend. Well, it did make her happy. Then, Chika knocked her door.

“Maki-san, are you there?” confirming

“Ah, yes. Wait a moment.” Maki stood and went to open her door “What is it, Chika-chan?”

“There’s someone who came to meet you.” Chika was warned to not the fact leaked that it was Umi who came for Maki

“Who?” Maki did wanted the one who came for her was Umi but her hope soon died as Chika answered her question

“It’s my friend, Riko-chan. Sakurauchi Riko. She came from Tokyo, too. And she also said that you are her teacher back in there. Is that true?” not exactly a lie, right Chika?

“Ah, I know Riko-chan. Well, that’s true. By the way, where is she waiting for me?” said Maki as she remembered the girl who was really exceled at piano back then

“This way, Maki-san.” Said Chika as she led the older girl to the girls who waited for her

So, as soon as Maki and Chika reached the lobby of the inn, the red-haired girl was surprised by the sudden appearance of a girl she thought was giving up on her. There she was, the girl of Sonoda, running to her as fast as she could and immediately hugged her in front of the younger girls around them.

“U-Umi…, what are you doing here?” Maki was confused but the warmth she really longed for was there engulfing her and soothing her loneliness

“I missed you so much, Maki!!!! Why did you left me alone? Why did you reject all my calls and ignore all my message? I’m really worried about you! I was really afraid of you leaving me, Maki!!” well, the blue-haired girl instantly cried as she enjoyed the smell of her beloved junior

“I thought you were the one who would leave me because of my childishness. I-I was afraid I might hurt you again, Umi. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Umi…!” Maki tightened her hug

“There’s no way I would leave you, you fool! I love you so much, Maki!” Umi locked her gaze now solely on the eyes of her beloved junior in front of her

“Me too, Umi! I love you so much!!” Maki also declared her deep affection for her beloved senior

Then, after You-chan’s voice who was looking for Chika surprised the couple who hugged there, Umi then kissed Maki right there and said that she would visit her again tomorrow. Well, at first Maki insisted they spent the night together in her room, but after remembering about how bad the situation would be if she started pushing her idea again, she accepted her girlfriend’s wish and waved goodbye as the blue-haired girl left the inn with Riko and Yoshiko. Chika and You-chan were in awe of the kiss they saw just now. Maki smiled and then said good night to the duo there before going back to her room, her mind filled with joy and expectation of a great tomorrow.

Know Your Fusion

Oh man I have been hype as hell for this episode since we first got a hint of my flawless elegant stage wife’s return!

So Steven and Amethyst want to surprise and impress Garnet and Pearl by showing off Smoky Quartz. There’s really very little preamble to that, and we get a little nod to the fact that Garnet doesn’t ask questions, which continues to be the bane of my Garnet-writing experience. But that’s a rant for another time. On with the show!

Sardonyx prevents Smoky from destroying the house. Their use of the yoyo indoors is no good and they need a bigger stage, in part for their big new fan. Sardonyx reveals that her room in the Temple is a TV show set, which she presumably absorbed through Garnet, because Pearl sure doesn’t watch TV on her own. Smoky is severely dwarfed by Sardonyx’s presence and fairly quickly starts to feel insecure. 

It’s a testament to how unified Steven and Amethyst are in that respect that being profoundly uncomfortable and put on the spot doesn’t break their Fusion.

Sardonyx misses this entirely because it’s a completely foreign concept to her. She continues to miss while making callbacks and showing off to her new favorite young Fusion, who may well be the only other Fusion Sardonyx has ever gotten to interact with, unless Smoky Quartz Prime was a thing. From this episode, I’m thinking Rose and Amethyst may not have Fused before.

Sardonyx is hilarious and tries to keep things light, but Smoky has trouble with Sardonyx’s tests, which are no doubt meant to be aced, but just… aren’t tailored to them in any way. It’s interesting that Smoky registers juuuuust about at Garnet’s level on the Sugilite Scale. 

As Smoky gets more vocal about their discomfort, Sardonyx realizes her error. She’s gotten so carried away with being excited for and about Smoky that she’s completely upstaged them, which… is a very real thing that people do! Sardonyx has all of the excitement and love and support that Garnet and Pearl share, but isn’t actually close enough to Steven or Amethyst (or Smoky) to understand them.

Pearl and Garnet unfuse… which destroys the room they were in, inside the Temple! They’re too far apart to reach each other to re-Fuse, and Smoky has to save them with their yoyo, including some new moves they didn’t get to use before. 

Steven apologizes for the disaster that their showing off inadvertently almost caused, but Garnet and Pearl are thrilled. Pearl praises Amethyst for being a good influence, proving that some of that out-of-touch from Team Mom is not limited to Sardonyx. The episode ends with Pearl and Garnet finally being able to give Amethyst and Steven their full attention to hear all about the fight with Jasper.

I really, really appreciate the crew’s handling of Sardonyx coming undone. Because that’s a very real thing people do; get too carried away over someone else’s success and start throwing out a dozen questions and talking over them until someone in the conversation feels terrible. And it’s completely unintentional on Sardonyx’s part, which is refreshing. But especially her realizing what she’s doing and immediately stopping, no questions, was well done. 

Overall very good episode. More Stage Wife.

Why Reading is The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Life and Career

I was asked a fun question the other day: what is your top advice is for new college graduates? On CNBC, several of us answered the question, and my advice was simple: read as many books as possible. If you want to be interesting, interested, successful, and happy, then there is no substitute for reading.

Let’s explore a few reasons why reading books matters more than ever.

Solving Your Puzzle

Creativity is a surprisingly simple process. Moments of creative insight are simply the recognition of a new pattern among old parts. Therefore, there are two stages that matter: 1) collecting old parts and 2) finding new relationships between them.

There is no better way to collect old parts than reading a variety of great books. If you collect the ideas found in books, you will have the pieces to create new and interesting combinations. The number of possible combinations rises the more ideas you collect. And the potential quality of those combinations rises the more differentthe ideas are from one another.

Creativity is a puzzle. The desired insight—your eureka moment—is the image. But there is no puzzle box to guide you, no predefined edges to help you isolate your creative image. The more puzzle pieces you collect, the better the odds you’ll recognize the image–your idea. Pieces come in lots of forms, and they are scattered everywhere. The sooner you start collecting, the better.

Distilled Wisdom

Regular “table” grapes—the kind you’d buy at the supermarket—are plump, thin skinned, and have a light amount of sugar content; their flavor fades quickly. They are grown hanging under vines, which limits exposure to the sun but maximizes the volume and quantity produced.

Wine grapes are much smaller, with thick skins and more flavor (sugar content).  They are grown to maximize exposure to the sun, which makes them more concentrated in every sense. Each vine of wine grapes yields just one-third as much volume as each vine of table grapes.

Most of what there is to read—articles, news, blogs—are like table grapes. But books are like wine grapes.

Having written a book, I can attest that what ends up in a book is a small subset of what is originally written or considered by the author. I scrapped entire chapters, and jettisoned at least 20 sources which I first thought would be integral to the book. A good book is the distilled wisdom of the author, refined down to the most what is most useful and interesting (non-fiction) or beautiful and enthralling (fiction).

It takes roughly 75 gallons of water to create one gallon of wine, and it probably takes each author a few hundred other books to create one book of their own. It is fun to sit down with a glass of wine and a great book and think about how much has gone into the production of each.

Feeling Alive—Even Immortal

The third and final reason is pure enjoyment. The level of joy one experiences when reading compounds as you read more and more. For me, it feels like a runner’s high—that feeling of invincibility when everything else falls away. It is a kind of bliss.

The more books you read, the more associations you will find, and the more you will realize that people through history have had all the same struggles and all the same joys. Experiencing those ups and downs vicariously is invigorating.

You begin to feel a connection that approaches ecstasy when you read again and again about people through history all making the same journey. As you read more, you begin to identify with a sense of unity that binds us all together and that renders anxiety and fear inert.

Here is an example of the type of associations which spring up as you read more and more. It is a quick journey from 1944, to 5,000 B.C.E., and back to 2006.

This was written in 1944 in a brilliant novel called The Razor’s Edge:

“I wish I could make you see how much fuller the life I offer you is than anything you have a conception of. I wish I could make you see how exciting the life of the spirit is and how rich in experience. It’s illimitable. It’s such a happy life. There’s only one thing like it, when you’re up in a plane by yourself, high, high, and only infinity surrounds you. You’re intoxicated by the boundless space. You feel such a sense of exhilaration that you wouldn’t exchange it for all the power and glory in the world. I was reading Descartes the other day. The ease, the grace, the lucidity. Gosh!”

The title The Razor’s Edge derives from the Katha Upanishad, which was (by historians’ best guess) written 7,000 years ago. The Katha is a conversation between a young boy and the god of death. I remember reading the Katha for the first time and being completely blown away:

See how it was with those who came before,
How it will be with those who are living.
Like corn mortals ripen and fall; like corn
They come up again.

May we light the fire
That burns out the ego and enables us
To pass from fearful fragmentation
To fearless fullness in the changeless whole.

Above the senses is the mind, above
The mind is the intellect, above that
Is the ego, and above the ego Is the unmanifested
Cause. And beyond is Brahman, omnipresent,
Attributeless. Realizing him one is released
From the cycle of birth and death.
He is formless, and can never be seen
With these two eyes. But he reveals himself
In the heart made pure through meditation
And sense-restraint. Realizing him, one is
Released from the cycle of birth and death.

Fast forward once again 7,000 years. Given that we are all artists in our own way, this passage from Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost, written in 2006, is a fitting way to end this ode to reading books.

Certainly for artists of all stripes, the unknown, the idea or the form or the tale that has not yet arrived, is what must be found. It is the job of artists to open doors and invite in prophesies, the unknown, the unfamiliar; it’s where their work comes from, although its arrival signals the beginning of the long disciplined process of making it their own. Scientists too, as J. Robert Oppenheimer once remarked, “live always at the ‘edge of mystery’—the boundary of the unknown.” But they transform the unknown into the known, haul it in like fishermen; artists get you out into that dark sea… Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.

OK, I got a little carried away there, but you get the idea! Winston Churchill said, “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” The emperors of the future will be those who read voraciously and then use the ideas which they have collected to build new wonders, small and large. So for new graduates—hell, for anyone—the best advice I ever received was to read read read, and it’s the best advice I can offer.

P.S. if this wasn’t a good advertisement for joining a book club, I don’t know what would be! I run one which sends out 3-4 books each month—you can learn more and sign up here.

The Pet Goldfish: Chapter 4

Heyyyy guess whose back to writing fics? not me. really nope. not at all. this took way too long to write and only exists because i’m procrastinating on studying.

Okay, seriously though. 

this is not anything to do with the actual plot or the storyline of TPG, this is extracts from Rae’s book. If you dont remember at the start of Chpt 1 Rae has written a book, and then it flashes back two years. These are small extracts from that book, which in the long run will help show the development of Rae’s character in TPG but right now they will mean nothing to you because they have no Rinn in it. Literally none. But it doesnt take a mastermind to read between the lines, if you know what i mean.

i was originally going to put these with the other chapters but they dont fit right at all so heres a whole chapter of the extracts together. Please dont hate me :/ im sorry that its not what you might be hoping for

Severe TW: depression, self harm, abuse, anorexia.

Chpt 1 Chpt 2 Chpt 3

tags are at the bottom for a reason - long speech for some of you guys. and as always if you want to be removed/added just ask :) xxxxx

Extracts from Broken Glass and Feigned Expressions by R. Nelson

Chapter 38

Before I met him, everywhere I went, a thought would seep its way inside of me. A very simple, small thought. Only a few words. Yet those words were powerful. And this thought was; “I want to go home.”

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The search for the perfect actor to play Jon was spearheaded by David Caparelliotis, who from the very beginning urged us to see a young actor named Raúl Esparza. Raúl had recently arrived from Chicago, where he had played mostly non-singing dramatic roles. We flipped over his audition and begged him to leave the show in which he was currently performing to join us. It would be his first leading part on a New York stage and we knew he would draw attention.
—  Robyn Goodman, “Tick, Tick… BOOM! The Complete Book and Lyrics”.