versus and co

Mae Gjallarfjall & Co. VERSUS: Mae "Perfected". Or: The Time the Magic College Dropout Aced the Final.

Context: So, Mae Gjallarfjall back at it again pissing off my GM with my ridiculous damage power and high rolls. We’re assaulting a Maciedon fortress set up in Gaeleaed (this world’s equivalent of Ireland) with the goal of eliminating the evil “perfected” versions of ourselves and the forest spirit Ferauna. I bashed the gate down and vaporized the guards at the front gate with a well placed Fist of Havoc. We bust inside, and get to my character’s evil clone. We had 4 of our members at the start, but at this point it was just me and Tim the Magician.

GM: So you are in a perfectly square room, with four support pillars holding up the ceiling. Evil Mae turns to look at you and says “I knew you’d come. You can’t resist a fight.”

Me: You’re not wrong, you’re just a bitch.

GM: She screams at you in anger. Roll Initiative for combat order.

Me (OOC): *crits* So that’s a crit. I get three questions. First: What’s her base Bare Knuckles and Block?

GM: Her base is 7, but she gets a -2 to hit rolls and a +2 to damage rolls, so her base is actually both 5 and 9. Her block is a 6.

Me (OOC): What’s her HP?

GM: 140.

Me (OOC): Do I currently, due to my time charging up during the Freedman encounter, have a Fist of Havoc ready?

GM: Yes you do.

Me (OOC): Alright, so I’m going to start this shit off by spending two Fate Chips. First I’m going to activate Honor Guard at the ultimate level *rolls for Persuasion and passes check* That gives me and Tim a +3 to my Initiative, Combat stat, and Block for the first 10 turns of combat. I’m then going to run up to the bitch and spend another Fate Chip to activate Ward of Dawn at the ultimate level, which immediately grants me +2 Armor and Damage in the bubble, as well as for 3 turns outside the bubble. And for my last action this turn, I activate Fist of Havoc.

GM: *generic shocked stammering* fucking okay roll Fist of Havoc.

Me (OOC): *rolls my first 40 damage Fist of Havoc* Hey GM, you’re going to hate my guts. That’s a 40. 45 total due to my damage buffs.

GM: Jesus… Alright so you slam Evil Mae for 45 points of damage immediately out the gate. She’s now rolling to punch you. Initiative.

Me (OOC): That’s not a -4, so I notice. Rolling Block. That’s a 6.

GM: You take grazing damage. *rolls* Nevermind, she critfailed the damage roll. She hits your helm and winces in pain from her knuckles hitting your armor.

Me: Looks like all of the brains AND all the brawn went to me.

GM: She screams at you, furious.

Me (OOC): She can be pissed all she wants.

*a couple turns later*

GM: Tim! What are you doing?

Tim (OOC): To what extent am I allowed to interfere with your fight?

Me (OOC): Deal a single point of damage and I will punch you after this fight is over.

Tim (OOC): I want to walk over to Evil Mae and tap her on the shoulder.

GM: She screams in your face after turning to face you.

Tim: Would you like to see a magic trick?

GM: Roll that Magic.

Tim: *crits*

GM: So you reach behind her ear and pull her entire suit of armor out from behind her ear. She looks down in horrified shock to see she no longer has armor. She also has a serious Initiative debuff.

Me: Hey bitch. Rule three of Fight Club: never take your eyes off your opponent. (OOC): I spend another Fate Chip to instantly take Fist of Havoc off cooldown, and Smash her again. *rolls 25 damage*

GM: She looks up, beaten and bloodied. Meta here, she’s 4 points from death. 

Me (OOC): I end her with an uppercut. *11 contact, 7 damage*

GM: Jesus…

Hubble's tale of two exoplanets: Nature vs. nurture

Is it a case of nature versus nurture when it comes to two “cousin” exoplanets? In a unique experiment, scientists used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to study two “hot Jupiter” exoplanets. Because these planets are virtually the same size and temperature, and orbit around nearly identical stars at the same distance, the team hypothesized that their atmospheres should be alike. What they found surprised them.

Lead researcher Giovanni Bruno of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, explained, “What we’re seeing in looking at the two atmospheres is that they’re not the same. One planet – WASP-67 b – is cloudier than the other – HAT-P-38 b. We don’t see what we’re expecting, and we need to understand why we find this difference.”

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6

I’ve watched Versus Zoom (exams, what exams?) and I have feelings. I need to talk about something.

I’ve always paid close attention to Cisco’s family issues and this episode hit hard. It’s sad seeing people use family as a way to manipulate Cisco. It’s even sadder Barry does it this time.

Under the cut because spoilers and I guess it’s not exactly a popular opinion.

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New Year’s Eve Ficlet

A companion piece to this christmas fic.  Both rated Mature.

Happy New Year, everyone.  You’ve all been a great part of this one for me.  Thank you.

* * * * * * *

He doesn’t even think to call her until well after ten.  It’s not that he doesn’t like the holiday, or that he doesn’t wish her well, just that he doesn’t know if it’s his place to wish her anything.  He’s been given no rules to follow on this holiday – it doesn’t bring to mind family, or church, or children, or office parties.  The holiday that doesn’t belong to anyone.

This year, it belongs to him and his television.  He’s splayed out on the couch with a tray of bad cookies on his chest, watching a movie, when he thinks of her and convinces himself it’s appropriate, even funny, to call now.  He dials with the intention of blaming this movie forever if he’s wrong.

She answers on the second ring and he hears voices, festivity.  He licks his lips, holds his breath, torn between the anger that she didn’t invite him and the guilt of interrupting.  She assures him quickly that it’s the TV and then they have a moment of silence as his anxiety leaves him.

“I think we’re watching the same thing,” she says and he can hear her smiling.

“Well, it’s this or Dick Clark.  Not a lot of options.”  He doesn’t know why he’s downplaying the serendipity of it, the romance, when he was the one who picked up the phone, he was the one who thought of her as Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal pretended to themselves not to be in love.

“Did you see it in the movie theater?” he asks.

“On a date.”  He can feel his eyes light up, though there’s a scowl in his chest.  He doesn’t know why her whereabouts in July of 1989 should produce either reaction.

“How’d that go?”

“We made out a little in the dark, but we got into an argument afterwards and I never saw him again.”  He lowers the cookie in his hand back to the tray.

“You made out?  In the movie theater?”

She laughs a barely audible hiss of a laugh.  How little you know me, it says, how little you understand, how right Nora Ephron is about the friendship between a man and a woman.

“Scully,” he admonishes, but he’s sat up at attention in the sinking ship of his leather couch.  It’s cold in the apartment tonight and he’s brought in so many extra blankets he might have to throw himself overboard at some point.

“It’s not like we had sex in a playground, Mulder.  It’s the movies, it’s a date, people do it.”

“How far?”

“Oh, stop it.”

“Tell me.”

“I’m not going to tell you that.”

“This is so unfair,” he barks.

“What, like we had some kind of appointment for me to share my darkest secrets?  You called me.”

“This isn’t your darkest secret, Scully.  We have darker secrets in our office than this.”

“He put his hand up my skirt.”

All his body parts go into conservation mode, freezing as they preserve energy for survival past this moment of crisis, except his eyelashes, which blink excessively, as if to process the image more quickly and be free of it. She doesn’t cover up the silence, doesn’t try to make him more comfortable, and fair enough since he’s the one who pushed the issue.  He comes to his senses, relaxing a bit as the scene begins, the one he was thinking of to begin with, when Harry and Sally are split-screen, watching the same movie while on the phone in their beds.  Suddenly, he realizes he doesn’t know if she’s in the kitchen, or on her couch or…

“Too bad you don’t have a bed.  Then this would really be cute.”

He’s grateful to have moved past the movie theater thing, though this newer image, he soon finds, is not much easier to handle.  Is she in her satin pajamas?  A big t-shirt like the one she was wearing that first night he asked her to go for a run?  A robe with nothing underneath… she reads his mind again.

“So, Mulder, what do you think?”  He instantly panics, his stomach lurching, his hand frantically adjusting his shorts as if she can see his hard-on through the phone.  

“I don’t – I was – “

“You know, can men and women really be friends?”  She doesn’t have to add the rest, the without sex interfering part of the movie’s hypothesis.  He doesn’t know how to tell her no, no he doesn’t think so, since he’s sitting here picturing a woman he has never intended to seduce in her underwear, picturing a woman who gets spinach stuck in her teeth at lunch in nothing but a robe so sexy he doubts she even owns it, doubts any woman actually owns it.

“Sure, they can be friends,” he lies instead and the inflection of the humming noise she makes tells him she doesn’t quite believe it either.  Last year, he would have expected for her to swear that friendship and sex were separate.  But ten days ago, she took him by the tie and kissed him, really kind of kissed him, at a corny office Christmas party, so he’s not sure what to think.

“So how come no plans?” she asks.

“I never make plans on New Year’s Eve.  Wouldn’t even know where to begin.”

“It always seems like such a setup for disappointment,” she agrees, though he gets the idea that maybe she doesn’t fully believe that either.  She’s humoring him, making believe she shares his melancholy, because that’s the kind of friend she is, even when he’s being an asshole picturing her naked, she’s that kind of friend.  He remembers this part, the friend part, and decides to tell her something he has never told anyone.

“I’d like to have a real one like the one in this movie someday.  You know, girl all dressed up, Auld Lang Syne playing, kiss at midnight.”

“Don’t forget the big speech.”

“I can do a big speech.”

“You do them every morning.  With slides.”

He chuckles.  A minute passes, two, as they both watch the film.  He hears a rustle of bedding he recognizes from crummy hotels across the nation and knows she’s getting tired.  She yawns.  She’ll be hanging up now, any minute, he thinks, and feels sad, the kind of sadness he usually avoids by not making plans on this night, not setting any of those wicked expectations.

“You wanna just stay on till midnight passes?” she asks.  He could almost cry at the gesture of kindness.  

“Sure,” he says, persuading himself of his nonchalance by dusting a crumbled Fig Newton off the couch.  Then they’re both quiet until the credits are rolling and his neck is stiff where it’s crooked around the heavy plastic of the phone.  He thinks maybe she’s fallen asleep but doesn’t want to be the first to hang up…

“Happy New Year, Mulder.”

“Happy New Year.”

*

It’s easy to forget things out here in the middle of nowhere; that’s what they liked about the house in the first place.  They had a lot to forget then, and they wanted to be forgotten. So it’s no surprise to him that in the time she’s been gone, Scully has forgotten some things - the zip code, where he keeps the toothpicks, the paper clips, or how the soup bowls only fit when they go in a certain way.  What today is.

He does remember what today is. He’s been anticipating it since she decided to stay the night after fucking him on the living room floor.  It’s the anniversary of their first kiss – not counting that mistletoe kiss that one year – the only anniversary they’ve ever really been able to mark.  He’s considered giving her a gift, making dinner like he always did, but to acknowledge the date would mean discussing how long she’s been here (seven nights).  It would mean finding out what this duration of stay means, or more worrisome, that it means nothing.  So he doesn’t mention it, goes about the day like it’s any other day when the woman he loves has come home.  Carefully. Anxiously.  Happily.

She runs errands during the day as she’s done frequently the past week. He would offer to do it for her, but he knows she doesn’t need anything other than to be part of the world.  That was part of the problem the first time around. It’s something they’ll have to address if they - if she – no, he won’t do that to himself, won’t imagine packing up his stuff with her, arguing about condos versus co-ops, planning what to keep, what to get rid of, how to start over together.

She stashes her shopping in the bedroom and they eat a pleasant but uneventful dinner.  She says she’s heading to take a bath and read.  He normally follows her up when he hears the word bath, responding like Pavlov’s dog to the tune of the faucet.  He pads in quietly, slips a hand into the bubbles to watch the slow, expectant smile cross her face without her eyes ever opening. Tonight, he stays and waits ‘til she’s safely out of earshot to put Dick Clark on.  He wants to see the year pass, needs it.  It was a year without her.

He hears her footsteps at ten minutes to twelve, amidst the canned energy of the pre-taped show ramping up and the real energy of Times Square contained only by the confines of the box in his living room.  He taps the remote, but the batteries are low, and it doesn’t respond on the first try, the second, the third.  And anyway, by the third, he’s not even aiming correctly because he’s turned around and found her coming down the steps in a short blue cocktail dress.

Navy blue or maybe it’s green.  Low and heart-shaped on her breasts, ruffled from the hip down.  At first he thinks he’s seen her in it, or seen it in her closet, it seems so familiar.  But it looks nothing like her, nothing like the classy, cap-sleeved black dresses he can so easily picture her in.

“It’s the closest I could find,” she says and he immediately remembers the scene in the movie – Meg Ryan’s pale shoulders, Billy running in, the weight of a happy ending weighing heavy on his shoulders.  There’s no crowd here, no lighting, but Scully is pretty enough to make up for all of that - her hair pulled up messily from the treachery of bath water, her blue eyes rimmed in runny mascara, her cheeks still rosy with heat and maybe more than just that.  She reaches the end of the staircase and bends, slings a pair of satin high heels off her fingers and onto her feet.  “I didn’t want you to hear me coming down.”

He’s on his knees on the couch now, elbow locked and leaning, his jaw nearly thudding the wood planks of the floor.  He turns slowly, a carousel on its last round, following the swing of her hips as her shoes slowly clip-clop to the space between him and the TV.

“I’m not dressed for the occasion,” he says and she glances at the clothes he hasn’t changed out of today – a flannel shirt, a pair of old jeans – and nods. It’s true, Harry only realizes at the last second that he loves Sally; he doesn’t have time to get dressed for it. Mulder wonders how many years Scully has been waiting to do this just to truly catch him by surprise.  

He swings his legs out from under him, puts his feet on the floor as she sidles up, her knees between his knees, her bony ankles slightly wobbling against his in the unfamiliar heels.  She lifts his chin.

“Go ahead, make your speech,” she says.

“I didn’t have time to prepare…”

“You had twenty years.”  

“You are everything to me,” he blurts.  She playfully bobs her head from side to side – good start.  “This past seven nights have been so –“

“Eight, now.”  He grins and sputters on, wishing he had his projector and slides to rely on.

“It’s been so amazing.  Please don’t go.”

“I’m all dressed up, I have to go to the party.  You’re going to have to try harder to make me stay.”

He puts his hands around her waist, the funny, shiny material itchy between his fingers, and pulls her closer, kisses the cluster of freckles above her cleavage – this is one of the things Harry would have mentioned had he been in love with Scully instead of Sally.  But Mulder’s already told her about it hundreds of times.  He can’t really think of anything he hasn’t told her a hundred times and silently applauds Harry’s creativity.

“I didn’t mean tonight,” he whispers.  “I meant don’t go ever.”

“Oh,” she says with mock surprise, a teacher hearing about an overambitious science project.  “Then you’re really going to have to try hard.”

He glances at the TV, the clock visible in the upper right hand corner. He has seven minutes, so he gets right to it, slides his hand up the inside of her leg, pushes the stretchy, lacy panties to the side and cups her in the heel of his hand.  Her body tilts forward in it, the carriage of a ferris wheel passing low, letting him climb in.

These seven minutes that have seemed so long every other year from couches and barstools seem positively fleeting with his fingers inside her and his mouth wide around her breast, then narrow around her nipple, the green-blue prom dress scratching the scruff of his chin.  This, he realizes, is how one is supposed to pass those last minutes. He’s been doing it wrong all these years, everyone has.

She comes sooner than he expects, with one minute to go, and he wonders if she was paying attention to time.  He would not be surprised to find out she could calibrate an orgasm that well, not after the things he’s seen, but there are still things he doesn’t know about her, there always will be.  He pulls her dress up back over her breast and the weight of her body sinks against him to wait.

When the countdown begins, his face is between her hands, her chest rising and falling beneath his nose.  The last things he smells this year are his saliva and her bubble bath, popcorn butter and peppermint.  They both listen like this, not moving, as if straining to hear something very quiet, eavesdropping on a revelrous crowd of five hundred thousand.

She kisses him at precisely midnight, with a smile against his teeth when the screaming comes.  She points into the empty air of their old house as Auld Lang Syne begins to play, as if to say her plot is complete, as if to say she’s plotted every New Year’s celebration since that song was written.  He presses his ear to her chest and wraps his arms around her, all of her, a hand around her neck and one around a calf.  He thinks of how much he loves her, how much he has missed her, but also of her tits and the color of her underwear, and he knows even all these years later, he cannot just be her friend.

“Happy New Year, Scully.”

She reads his mind like always, taking off her underwear (black) as she answers the rest of his questions aloud.

“Happy anniversary, Mulder.”

This holiday has always belonged to her, they all have.

Scott Walker tricked into posing with $900 million Koch Brothers check.

Ultimate troll level complete.  Everyone else can give it up and go home now.  This whole circus is so ridiculously entertaining, I almost don’t mind the fact that these Republican candidates exist in the first place.

(Almost.  Let’s not get crazy, they are still terrible and will ruin the country *slash* entire planet if given enough rope.)

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Colin O'Donoghue speaks to Tubridy, June 24, 2015

Interviewer: “So you then swashbuckle your way onto it last week for me. Cause you know I’m on season 2. Then there you arrive. And I think, ‘This is great.’ You have a huge part in it. You’re very charming and dashing and bold and mischievous in it. “

CO: “Yeah I decided to make him very different from me, so. [laughs]”

Interviewer: “Yeah, did you have much of a say in how to go with Hook?”

CO: “I did actually. Well. When I met with the guys they’d written this Captain Hook that they wanted to be different from the original Captain Hook and I sort of went in with a very very clear thing in mind as to how I wanted to play him. And, you know, because Pirates of the Caribbean was so big and stuff at the time.”

Interviewer: “Yeah.”

CO: “I think when I was coming in, the first season, the show was getting something like - I think - 25 to 30 million people a week were watching it.”

Interviewer: “It was?”

CO: “Yeah. It was a huge huge thing. And I just decided - right - this is the way I’m gonna play him. And I was trying to figure out what it was that sort of made people- I wanted him to be a bad boy who people actually really just wanted to hang out with. Do you know what I mean?“

Interviewer: “Yeah, you have that sort-”

CO: “And so it was kind of, ‘How do you do that?’ I think, I think it’s -.Well I’m still in the show so I guess they’re happy.”

Interviewer: ”You could have gone down the kind of Pirates of the Caribbean, the cheeky roguish type, versus Dustin Hoffman-”

CO: “He was kind of written- When I first - He was written sli- Not written like that, but you could have tried to do a Johnny Depp impersonation, do you know what I mean? Because I think at the time that’s what people were doing with pirates and stuff like that. So I was very clear that I wanted to go the opposite direction. You know, and sort of make him very kind of suave and sophisticated as opposed to-”

Interviewer: “Yeah. He’s not grimy and sleazy.”

CO: “-as opposed to aloof and funny and stuff, which is fantastic, but that’s just the way I wanted to do it.”

Interviewer: “And how are you coping with your hook and the whole thing?”

CO: “I’m used to it now. Yeah.”

Interviewer: “You’re an amputee essentially.”

CO: “Basically yeah. I’ve managed to figure out ways to use the hook now instead. So I literally use it as a cup-holder. It’s great. It’s the perfect size for a coffee cup.”

[…]

Interviewer: “This series is attracting big names like Robert Carlyle who’s been there from the beginning as Rumpelstiltskin. He’s super. I prefer him as the baddie because he’s just so ridiculous.”

CO: “He’s fantastic. Yeah, It’s great. He actually came over- He very kindly gave us tickets to the game against Scotland and so Bobby came over for the game so we were there and, uh-”

Interviewer: “You went together did you?”

CO: “Yeah. We went together. We were at the game together. So, the story behind that is that when Ireland were playing Scotland, previously, they were beaten one-nil, obviously by Scotland, and I walked into my trailer and there must have been maybe 300 tiny little one-nil stickers everywhere in my room.”

Interviewer: “By him?”

CO: “By him. They were in my - they were in the cistern of the toilet so when you flushed the toilet little one-nil would come in. They were everywhere, yeah.”

Interviewer: “That’s quite an extravagant joke to crack on somebody.”

CO: “Yeah. It must have taken him probably an hour to do.”

Interviewer: “Have you been able to get him back for that? Or..”

CO: “I was hoping that we were gonna win the game. I was hoping that that would be the thing, but-”

Interview: “…One-nil back….“

CO: “Unfortunately it didn’t work out.”

Interviewer: “Is it crack on the set- Is it fun to film OUAT or is it very much a working project for you?”

CO: “No. It’s absolutely brilliant. At this stage we’re now all like a family. So um. We kind of all hang out. And people will come, because obviously we’ve had a baby we can’t really get out that often. So we’ve got a lot of friends from the show and stuff who’ll call round and we’ll have pizza and a beer on saturday night. and all that kind of stuff.”

Interviewer: “Slightly more sober reality with the child isn’t it?”

CO: “But it’s great because, like you know, cause now coming into the fifth season, everyone knows what they’re doing. Everybody…it’s like a well oiled machine really you know?”

[…]

Interviewer: “What about the fact that you - Hook - your character came on for really an incidental moment or two but they just liked you so much they said ‘no I gotta keep this going?’”

CO: “What happened was that I was supposed to be a guest star for a few episodes and then they, sort of, before my first episode aired, they took up the option to keep me on as a series regular. So. Which is great, I was delighted. The response to the character’s been, yeah, pretty good.”

Interviewer: “To say the least. You’re very humble, but obviously the success speaks for itself. So, what next, Colin are you thinking about next or -?”

CO: “Well what happens next is in two weeks we start shooting the fifth season, so that’s next, and then..”

Interviewer: “Broadly speaking after all that?”

CO: “I’m due to do a movie as a well, in between, which I can’t talk really talk about at the minute but, um, I very excited if we can.”

Interviewer: “It’s a big movie obviously.”

CO: “It’s just. It’s got a big cast. So…”

Interviewer: “Okay and how are you feeling about that?”

CO: “If we can make it work then it will be fantastic. But you know I’m contracted to the show and I’m having a blast on OUAT, so you know, whatever happens next I kind of just I’ll take everything as it comes.”

June 24, 2015