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Loretta's Shitposts
LPing Liberal Crime Squad? Nice.

Ceremony
"I'll be there."

Roderick watched her go, and by the look she shot him before walking off and the way she walked he suspected she intended him to do just that, then turned to make his own way through the party. Music droned on and the smell of stale beer danced around him, someone called to him and asked where he was off to but he waved them off and claimed to need a bit of fresh air. Not entirely false, that.

He ignored drunken revelling and a Cochise baseball player making out with some blonde on the sofa. Half-trashed seniors tossed darts at a board with teachers' pictures taped to it, a beer pong game earned a second look only because Roderick was surprised that was actually a thing, and awkward dancers shuffled away just as awkwardly when he moved right through their midst. None of them mattered right now. The world was his footsteps inaudible over the music, and his single-minded march to the door, slowed only when a couple nervously shouldered past him to slip through the exit first.

They left the door open for him and he relaxed a little the moment he was past the threshold, closing the door behind himself and taking a deep breath of crisp air. Kingman was still the desert, but it could get a refreshing chill in the late hours. Shoes crunched wet grass underfoot as he cut through the lawn to get to his car, parked just by the driveway like he said. The white paint seemed to gleam in the moonlight. Pitbull faded away while he took a seat on the bonnet, feeling the car shift just a little with the sudden weight, and looked down to Kingman.

This house was a little towards the edge of town and looked down on the "city" from a hill, a winding road leading towards the lights and sounds of what nightlife this place had. He'd spent enough evenings driving around just to drive around that he could probably get onto West Beale Street or Ella's Place within five minutes, then just coast by Locomotive Park or the Mohave Museum and there they were. Easy enough, especially with what little traffic he'd find, and with his route already taken care of he could just relax under the stars and wait, visualising the coming outing with Nadia as best he could.

The couple who'd cut past him had slipped into a car parked a little down the way from his, and he heard it begin rocking back and forth. He did the gentlemanly thing and pretended not to notice.

Na’iidzeeł
"I could drag it back home, worst case scenario."

That was a joke. He was strong, but probably not lift a car strong. As far as he knew though, the battery was fine and would continue to be fine for quite some time. If she thought she had enough though, she thought she had enough. For sure, they probably couldn't top the look on her face when she looked at that last photo, and the thought of her being disappointed by future attempts tasted foul to him.

His engine hummed contentedly along, and the stars continued to shine down. He allowed himself to enjoy the clear sky and the night's wind a moment longer before looking back to her.

"What next? There's still a lot of night left."

V6 Podcast
I'm up for helping with the thing sometime.

Na’iidzeeł
To say Roderick was reluctant to let Nadia go would be like saying a starving man was happy to see a hot meal in front of him. Nevertheless, they parted, reality settling back in on the edges of his consciousness after the embrace while she went over to examine her handiwork. He watched her for a few moments, then came over to her side, letting her look long and well at the preview before he glanced at it himself.

Nadia's gasp of surprise warmed his heart, and although he didn't quite see everything she did when she showed him the photo, lacking her trained eye, it was a good shot made even better by knowing how much she loved it. She wanted to blow it up and he found himself offering a firm nod of agreement.

"Make a couple copies of it, maybe send it in for publication too. This is really good."

Ceremony
"Yeah, I'm parked out front. Right by the driveway."

His Challenger would be hard to miss, white with a black stripe down the middle. It was a year old and Roderick had it lovingly washed every week, allowing the white to practically shine for a while before the dust and sand started to obscure it again. Certainly nicer than a beat up pickup truck or whatever, but more importantly it was his. Any time he wanted he could just hop in and hit the road.

It was a freedom he hardly ever felt he had in Kingman, when he wasn't running or practising.

New V5 Reduced Activity Notices
Just passing fair warning to people I'm in threads with: Not going to be up for much posting tomorrow because I'm going down to Boston to look at places. I have to find a place and move by like, Sunday, so I probably shouldn't be focussing much on posting at all for a bit, but hey.

Ceremony
"Sounds good to me, and I'm sure there's a few places. I think Mr. D'z is open for a while longer if you're in the mood for a shake or anything."

The party had been going on for a couple hours but wasn't quite 8:30, so the diner would be open and it was no Denny's. Denny's was for people who'd given up, or stoners, or people up at 3 AM who had a great aching maw in their stomach that demanded immediate unconditional satisfaction. There was quite a bit of overlap between those categories. Oprah had eaten at Mr. D'z and loved it, not that Rod cared about Oprah; if you could ignore the bright pink and teal paint job, and didn't mind that the decor was a big old neon sign advertising that Kingman still thought it was 1959, the food was honestly really good there.

It didn't hurt that the people running it had been nice to him even before he'd become state champion. Nice enough he'd even let them talk him into giving them a little endorsement quote, one of his equivalents to Nadia's pizza commercial he supposed - hopefully those requests wouldn't snowball completely out of hand. Roderick was more of a home-cooked dinner guy, but some of the team liked to swing up that way after a hard practise, and the diner was used to the sight of Cochise athletes - plus, when something was good, it was good, and he wasn't ashamed to admit when he liked something. So while Roderick didn't go every day, he at least gave the place some consideration when he felt like eating out.

The best part? No beer or Pitbull.

Na’iidzeeł
He barely even saw them when he peeked at the photo, two silhouettes wreathed in white light with the black of the sky and red of the earth just faintly visible on the edges. Were they going into the light, or coming out of it? It worked either way. Going in or coming out, they were going together and that was the important bit. At least Nadia liked it, and with the light he couldn't see how he'd fought not to flinch or blink.

If it was good enough for her, it worked for him. She was the photographer, and as long as she was happy he'd be all right. She barely left time for her words to enter his ears before turning and running his way, catching him mid-step. With a little exhale, he placed his foot back on the ground and balanced himself while his arms wrapped around her. The world was her nestling her head on the upper part of his chest towards his collarbone, the softness of her body against his, the heat from her skin and her breath, the way her hair tickled him and moved with the air flowing in and out of his lungs.

Somewhere infinitely far away, her camera beeped and went off. He didn't bother to acknowledge it. This could keep going for as long as she wanted to, all night if part of him had its way. School, college, wrestling, photography, what was any of that next to the two of them right now?

The couple in that Woodstock photo she mentioned, tried to emulate, was still together. He remembered her mentioning that once. Would they be, when this photo was as old as the Woodstock photo was now? He hoped so, right now, but who could tell the future? Even though lately any time he dreamed of taking the gold in Tokyo, five years in the future, those dreams included her watching him in the stands.

He kept holding her and didn't bother counting the seconds. When the embrace had gone on for a while, he slowly, tenderly pressed his lips against the top of her head. Just for a second, softly enough it could almost be mistaken for a breeze.

This time he didn't need to ask how the picture turned out.

Na’iidzeeł
He'd done shoots with Nadia before, out here in the desert and around Kingman's streets, but never washed in the light like this and never with his eyes closed. He could feel it shining through his eyelids, turning the darkness a white not painful yet still irritatingly bright enough to make him grimace just a little. Nadia's voice and hands were his guide, as she instructed and positioned him, and his hand squeezed hers lightly when she took it. How kind of her to only want to take one picture, so he wouldn't strain his eyes.

That meant only one chance to get it right, though. One chance not to fuck up Nadia's moment. He'd worked under pressure every single time he stepped onto a wrestling mat, of course, but winning a match was less daunting a thing than having one and only one shot at his girlfriend's picture being perfect. His muscles tensed up and his breathing slowed as if he didn't dare so much as twitch while he waited for her command. Eyes remained squeezed shut through her test photo and onwards in the face of his headlights while he remained grateful the high beams weren't on.

Seconds passed like hours, while Roderick's mind conjured an imaginary referee's whistle to signal a match. It was the same tense wait. Not fear, but being a little anxious, ready to hit the ground running as soon as you heard things start off, that was good.

One.

Two...

beep

"Now!"

Roderick flung his eyes open and spears made of photons immediately stabbed through both of them and his world was bright white while he fought down the urge to blink or recoil or look startled. Dignity, always remember dignity. There was a flash somewhere in the white, and he felt Nadia relax, so he closed his eyes again and turned away to massage them with thumb and forefinger, willing the dots dancing around in the darkness to go away.

One blink, two blink, red blink, blue blink. Nothing he couldn't handle, it wasn't the nervousness and slight camera shyness of Nadia's very first shoots with him, but those few seconds had not been comfortable. He stepped away from the headlights' piercing gaze as Nadia said she was going to check the picture out and prayed he hadn't messed it up.

When normal vision returned, he looked back to the car and his eyes followed her, tracing over her curves and lingering on her backside as she fiddled with her camera. He gave her a few moments to look things over with her trained eyes, then trotted over with hands in pockets, trying to peek past her shoulder.

"How'd it look?"

Benjamin Lichter's social circles
Any time Roderick sees Ben, he feels compelled to suplex him

Kidding, kidding. I'm not sure either of my lads would necessarily go out of their way to interact with him, or be particularly aware of him for that matter, but there's not much reason either wouldn't be decent to him if they did cross paths. Cris might be vaguely aware of Squirrel's existence if he knows Cicada's Ben, with the whole teammates thing, plus the fact the baseball team practises (and plays home games) at Sumac Park.

Hello! I can draw something for you if you'd like
Why so much blank white space before the heads?

Ceremony
"Thought you'd never ask. Any ideas?"

Some of the people here were okay, but not okay enough to keep subjecting himself to the tedium. There wasn't much for him here, if he hated the ear-stabbing music and the thought of filling himself to the brim with booze. Frankly, he'd rather be running a few miles or spending a couple hours drilling takedowns, but something about what all work and no play did to Jack came to mind. Nadia was on to something, they both deserved better than whatever anybody currently at this party had to offer them, so why not go find their own fun?

With an exhale that sounded like a little "hup," Roderick pushed off the wall and looked to her, his gaze sweeping down her body for about half a second before he caught it and stopped those thoughts about what "finding their own fun" entailed cold. At least until it wouldn't be disrespectful to think them. As if nothing had happened, he made a sweeping gesture with his hand and gave her a grin, as if to say, "after you".

Ceremony
"Same here. You're one of the only interesting people who showed up tonight."

Hopefully the past tense didn't mean she was bored of him. Forget the rest of 'em, even if it wasn't some huge affair the party had picked up just by Nadia showing herself. Let the swirling masses do what they wanted, as much as he liked being around people their idea of fun just didn't really match up with his. How many of them knew anything about a hard day's work, anyway? About chasing down a goal you held so dearly it kept you awake at night and set your nerves afire? At least Nadia here didn't look at him like was crazy for wanting more out of life than he had already.

"Stop me if it sounds silly, but it kind of made coming out here worth it."

ROAD TRIP!
Anyone who's still interested in this as a memory etc., I made a discord server to discuss it and make plans and such. Join it here: https://discord.gg/4Y9BZ

I Know What My Fortune Is
"Not wrong. How bad was Darius?"

Darius? Darius. Hm. Oh, right, that irritating little gremlin that bugged Raina a lot. Cris had considered teaching the kid a lesson, on and off, but Raina seemed to have things in hand or at least had never asked him to step in. She knew how to reach him if she ever changed her mind on that, and she knew he was willing. Depending on how Junko answered, he might have to consider scaring Mr. Anime Goblin a little next time they met.

At least she was good company, the fire was still roaring, and not everyone was gone. Just enough life left to make coming out here not a total waste of his time. The crackle of kindling and embers filled his ears and heat burrowed its way into his bones, while firelight made shadows dance across her body. A campfire seemed questionable in the desert heat, but even Kingman could get chilly late enough into the night. Cris stood there, giving Junko a tiny smile of his own to reply to hers, and took a quick glance around them at the other figures around the fire.

"Sorry I was so late."

Ceremony
"We'll see. I try not to think too much about 'what if it doesn't work out' but I have a few ideas."

Second-guessing himself was the way to failure, and besides, if he didn't get into 2020 or didn't get the gold he'd just try again next time. He'd only be what, 24 when he (hypothetically) headed to Tokyo? Not the youngest wrestler ever but still well into his athletic prime. She was right though, at least insofar as he needed to have some idea of what he wanted to do beyond wrestling. Wrestlers couldn't make it their lives like baseball players or footballers could, the support system just wasn't there. For now, anyway.

By now either the party was starting to fade or he'd just shut it out entirely, because he couldn't hear the music any more over the two of them. Good. He stood there next to her for a moment, just taking in what ambiance remained, before glancing her way again with a little smile of his own.

"I won't give up on my wrestling, so you don't give up on your modelling. Sound like a deal?"

A little joke, but at its core, ambitious people trapped in Kingman needed to cheer each other on.

Na’iidzeeł
"Worth a try."

Why not, right? He wasn't sure how well it would turn out, especially if they were standing in the path of the light, but she was the one with photography experience. Their guest had vanished to rejoin its pack and Roderick turned away from the hill, sand clinging to his sneakers with every step back to the Challenger. The driver side door popped open and he leant in, sitting on the seat without bringing his legs - and the sand - into the vehicle. The switch was easily found and his headlights sprung to life, lancing into the darkness before them. His task done, he trotted back up to Nadia with a little grin after shutting the door behind him, offering her his arm.

Dismantle, Repair
"'Sup?"

The wave was better than just sneaking over to the table and waiting for her to notice him there. He wasn't terribly in the mood for such antics and there was a certain seriousness to the air between them anyway. At least she got him to give her one of his rare smiles, a quick little upwards turn at the corners of his mouth that even showed a hint of teeth. She was often able to get at least a little one out of him, surprisingly enough; maybe that was part of why he kept seeing her. For someone so interested in the universe, and surely aware of how useless a spec in it they all were, she seemed so interestingly hopeful compared to him.

Cris planned to order one of the items he always ordered when they came here, so he didn't bother looking at the menu as he took a seat across from Raina, resisting the urge to slouch comfortably while settling in. He could take this seriously.

New General SOTF Discussion Thread
That's actual Kingman though, not Seattle with more sand which we have here in v6. :P