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V4 Read-A-Thon: The Reboot
My internet situation renders me unable to put much real time into reading Hilary. I can still try, but if you want to put her back on the list I'd understand.

Away
Handler: The Burned Handler
Dates Away: 27th September - ?
Days Away: Unknown
Reason for Away: Internet and phone are down, making posting near impossible
Characters: Michael Eastmund

I can get online at the college, but I'm busy with school stuff, not here all day and privacy is at a minimum, so while I can try to post it's going to be difficult to impossible. At the least, unless something happens we're without internet for two weeks.

Unto the Breach
"Practically a record. I know how it can be; I was the little brother myself."

Mike barely had much chance to reply to Mrs. Bachelor, as the slam of a door drew his eyes up to the stairs. Despite his effort, his eyes stayed there, following the newcomer on their way down. His lack of words was probably for the best, as the sight of Amy all dressed up and ready dried his mouth. Her hair done up at the back as it was proved an interesting look, but it was the dress that caught his attention first. For one, it wasn't very... prom-y; he couldn't complain, but a strapless green dress with an enticingly short hemline hadn't been what he'd expected.

That was part of knowing her, though. Expect the unexpected. Part of him wanted to stare, to relax and let his eyes just wander around, but now wasn't the time to be crude. Just to be safe, he looked at her earrings as she almost ran down the stairs, minimising the risk of getting flashed or anything in favour of studying how the light glinted off the silver leaves. In a matter of moments, she was in front of him and he found himself giving her a broad grin. He really had got lucky.

"Thanks," he managed, making himself keep eye contact. At least her demeanour was a good sign. She'd seen him at his worst, bruised and scraped up and in serious need of a shower; sharp attire and plenty of time to get ready couldn't have failed him. For a split second, a corner of his mind noted how the dress emphasised her already impressive bust. "You look beautiful."

Not quite how he'd meant it to come out, with that unspoken "as always" hanging at the end, especially with Amy's mother right there, but there were worse ways to put it, and it was true. Amy'd always been pretty hot, and seeing her like this could get a man thinking ungentlemanly thoughts. Thoughts that could wait. He gave her an easy little smile to play it off, hoping it wouldn't blow up in his face. Before he really had time to worry about it, though, the Bachelor women were discussing pictures.

Was he okay with taking a picture? They still had plenty of time, after all. He wasn't sure he really did pictures, though; sure, he rarely outright hated how they came out, but he was never quite sure how to stand for them, how to look and smile and hold himself. One way, too stiff, next too lax, and always feeling like he was the only one who didn't get it for sure.

But what the hell, it was prom and like hell he was going to be rude to people who were being so nice to him. Just one thing...

"Sure, could it just wait one second, Mrs. Bachelor? Had something I didn't want to forget." With Mrs. Bachelor's leave, if given, Mike would turn to Amy again and reach into his pocket with a little bow of his head, fishing out a little protective case. Opening it up, he gently fished out the lovely green corsage he'd picked out, the colour matching her dress. Apparently guys tended to bring their date along to pick out the corsage and boutonniere together, but he'd wanted to surprise her.

Okay, he'd also wanted to spare himself the embarrassment of having taken a bloody long time settling on anything. He could tell someone the very best place to pick up a pair of boxing gloves in this city, but picking out flowers wasn't something he was used to, and like hell he'd have let Amy see him fumbling around on something he wanted to be special for her.

"I got this for you," he explained, holding it out to Amy a little. "If I may...?"

God but this could blow up on him in so many ways. Steeling himself, he would slip it on Amy's wrist once she gave the okay.

The Prom Planning Thread
Michael Eastmund is going with Amy Bachelor. Got to finish other characters 'fore I figure out their dates.

The Realism Litmus Test Revived
We've done this test for a few characters in chat. Heather Pendergast from v1 got 56, Mariavel Varella from v2 got 72 and Alexia Morgan got 86.

Edit: We have a winner! Reiko Ishida at 92.

Edit 2: Josh Goodman takes the crown at 160!

Luis Ortega
(Posted with permission from Elena, checked over and approved by Ricky)

Name: Luis Ortega
Position: Criminal Law teacher
Gender: M
Age: 48

Appearance: Luis might be heading into middle age, but he still appears to be in the best shape of his life. He stands at 5’11”, and though it’s not obvious under his formal attire, he is a very muscular 190 pounds. His body is lean but powerful, with broad shoulders, big arms and strong back and leg muscles, and he has a rich tan, looking a bit golden-skinned. His face is a little worn, but still fairly handsome; he has hooded, deep brown eyes, a somewhat broad nose, high cheekbones, fuller lips and a square jaw. He has black hair that’s beginning to show a few signs of grey, which he keeps in a neat high fade. Luis dresses sharply and keeps himself inspection-ready, usually wearing neatly pressed dress shirts, nice black slacks and dress shoes to school.

Biography/Personality: Mr. Ortega is something of a bulldog in court and the classroom, having come to Aurora five years ago to teach while continuing his law practise, and he brings almost twenty years of experience as an attorney to his students. He’s had a somewhat eventful past, as he served with the US Army Rangers - and later the Green Berets - to put himself through law school. Luis took part missions all over the world during his service, such as the invasion of Grenada, but he doesn’t like to talk about it and will often advise his students against going into military service. He can be a little stern and humourless, but his passion for the law is undeniable; he took his job with the school to make the younger generations aware of just how important the legal profession is, and encourage interest in the field.

While he has little tolerance for nonsense, he’s a fair teacher who likes to encourage discussion and thinking outside the box, and out of class he can be quite friendly if someone gets on his good side. He also enjoys helping students out with personal and professional problems, though he’ll often remind people that he can’t really act as legal counsel to them due to conflicts of interest. Outside of class and his work, he can often be found in the school’s weight rooms, or supervising extracurricular events.

Unto the Breach
D'aww, cute kid.

Ahem. Mike followed Mrs. Bachelor inside, taking a look around as he ducked through the doorway. The place was kind of messy, but not in a neglected way, more what one would expect when small children are running around. He had to step over a couple odds and ends, nodding politely at Mrs. Bachelor's explanation and trying to hide a little smile. He'd known Amy for a good amount of time now, and that was definitely like her. It could get annoying sometimes, but that unpredictability kept him on his toes.

It also set his heart racing again. Was she having second thoughts? She'd seemed surprised when he got up the nerve to ask. Maybe taken aback? They hung out often enough, talked what seemed like all the time, yet for one long moment he'd almost thought he'd offended her. What if she'd just said yes because nobody else had asked? What if he was just the guy who was brought along so she didn't have to go alone? Hell, what about Owen? It wasn't hard to guess why the man had been so frosty to him of late, and with Amy's reaction, had he intruded on something?

He should've come in the limo. Who didn't come in the fucking limo at prom?! "Posh bullshit" he'd called it, but it's prom and she was probably expecting a limo! His Buick was nice, really nice in that old school way, but it wasn't a goddamn limo. Owen would've brought the limo.

Okay. Shut up about Owen. About Buicks, and limos, and dresses and how she took him asking her. She said yes, and had she ever not been genuine with him? He had to relax; he was over the trench now. He could run into the fire and get to some cover, or run back and get cut down for sure. He went over mitt drills in his head to calm down. One, one-two, two-three-two, two-three-two-three-two, one-six...

"Don't worry about it," he said on the note of the mess, covering up the sudden anxiety. "I really like your place, and it's nice meeting you, Mrs. Bachelor."

It wasn't a lie. He'd heard good things about the Bachelors, and the house was no cave or hoarder lair. It had a lived-in look that rang truer to Michael than a lot of fancier places, with the sterile perfection in every room, more museum piece or "I'm richer than you" showcase than actual home. This place was messy, yeah, but it was also real.

That it was the "correct" answer didn't really have any bearing, at least not consciously. If Lilly looked over at him, she'd get a little wave and a, "hi there".

Sports Team and Club Members (WAIT 48 HOURS AFTER APPROVAL TO POST HERE)
Michael Eastmund is a fullback on the football team.

I Hate Free Study
Every student had that one dreaded class, the hour of the day that's a complete slog, tolerated because it's in the way of more interesting classes than anything else. The one thing - on its own or of many - that sapped away all will to carry on. Anyone who said there wasn't at least one part of the day where they'd rather be anywhere else was a liar, or insane.

For Michael, it was his free study period. He could understand why prep was a thing, not everyone had the time or energy to always be right on top of things, and sometimes people just needed a bit of a break, but his homework was always underway the moment he was back from football and boxing. That was at the latest, too; usually he'd have found at least a bit of time to take care of things before then. What often ended up happening was he'd come to that part of the day with nothing needing doing, so he'd blaze through some of the assigned work from earlier classes and find himself having a lot of time left to kill.

Today was one of those days, as Mike closed his Chemistry book with a heavy sigh. At least that class made him think instead of sitting around waiting for the next bell. Prep happened at the same time as the gym and weight room were being used by other PE classes, and nowhere off campus was really close enough to go there and come back before the free period drew to a close, so getting up and leaving was out. Pity, if he'd made a run for it there would've been some exertion involved.

Minute after minute dragged on as he busied himself with going over some already-completed assignments, but the words soon started blurring together in his mind, and his head went into his hands with a groan.

Stop being so dull, already...

Unto the Breach
We're going to be working late on some cases tonight. Call when you're home and if anything goes bad, but have fun. Nothing I wouldn't do.

-Dad


Michael looked away from the phone and blinked a few times, his eyes readjusting to the dark after the screen's light slashed through it. The headlights helped, not as bright as his phone but illuminating the back of a car he'd pulled in behind, providing middle ground. The slightly duller light provided less of a contrast, giving his mind more to work with. Vision asserted itself again better than going from bright white to total dark. The Buick rumbled quietly, a cool little shell against the Seattle air, against the traps and expectations of prom night. All the little minefields that could make this the best or worst night of a teenage life. They hadn't shown him a damn rulebook when they suddenly decided he was one of the popular kids.

He couldn't think like that, though. Going into the ring with doubt in your head was suicide. Hadn't he got the hard part over with by asking somebody, getting dressed up and driving out here? He'd almost expected to get laughed off, yet here he was. And he'd look like a damn fool if he chickened out after his folks were obviously giving him some privacy for after he got home. The unspoken assumption was something he tried not to think about.

Instead, he took a moment to take inventory, pulling down the visor above his head and opening up the mirror. Contacts were fine, face and hair had been washed, teeth brushed...

He looked down at himself. Tuxedo could probably use a smoothing down once he was out of the car, but it looked just as good as the past five times he'd checked it. The fabric stretched taut across his muscles, though the jacket had a bit of a slimming effect, and the red rose boutonniere on his lapel actually looked pretty classy. Mike'd be lying if he said it wasn't a good outfit.

Didn't mean he liked it, necessarily. Adjusting the bow tie, he wondered how it was his father could always be walking around in suits and tuxes. Didn't the man need to breathe every now and then? Mike preferred something he could allow to get dirty, that he could run around in, work and play, hit and get hit. Something that could be covered in dirt, sweat and blood and still be salvageable. Dressing up for the sake of dressing up felt like putting himself in a cage.

Well, nothing to be done about it, was there? Stalling wouldn't help anybody, and God help him if he were late to prom. The visor snapped shut, the headlights went off and a deft turn of his wrist silenced the groaning car as he stepped out, smoothing himself down a little before closing the door. Yeah, he would just have to start everything back up again in a few minutes, but better to save the fuel.

The largeish red brick house loomed over him as he came up the way, welcoming but appraising, as if looking for even the smallest hint of weakness. Of unworthiness. He tried to force the thought down - as long as it didn't start firing lasers at him or something, he wasn't going to be scared off by some house. Steering clear of the trike and jump rope left on one of the slabs that made the walkway, he eventually made his way to the door.

Here goes nothing.

Ding dong, the bell is rang.

V4 Read-A-Thon: The Reboot
I finished Robert Herrmann the Stupidly Spelled, but there's nothing really to work with there. He went inactive pretty much immediately, then Elena killed him off.

Next.

MurderWeasel's Post Clinic
If it's not too much a bother I'd like to see what you think of Mike's first post in the locker room thread. Sorry it's short and stuff.

The locker room. A place of blood, mud, sweat and hijinks.
(Mike Eastmund starting)

The door swung open, and Mike walked in like some conquering king, a wave of heat and building steam washing over him in a wave. Some of the soreness in his muscles vanished, flowing away in the tide as a blanket of warm air wrapped around him, congratulating him on a job well done. Boisterous greetings met him in the locker room, and somebody slapped him on the back. The hand stuck a forming bruise from a big hit he'd taken, and he winced, but he wasn't going to let on to that. No fear, no pain.

His locker showed up at some point in the gauntlet, and he gladly shed his uniform, pausing only to fish a small note from a pocket. Somehow, getting chatted up by a cheerleader and having her leave her number had stopped scaring him or making him suspect it was some kind of trick. The phantom of a kiss on his cheek was a pleasant little memory, rewarding him for his success in battle.

The rest? Well, that would have to wait for later, wouldn't it? He stashed the note in a pocket on his athletic shorts before anyone could see, could make some dumb comment guaranteed to turn him red, and peeled off the sweat-drenched UnderArmour shirt as well. Not only did it smell horrible, it felt like it was constricting him, squeezing the air out of lungs in serious need of a break.

Various marks and bruises were bared to the world around him, but he didn't mind. They had been well-earned out on the field, covering the quarterback and pushing hard on offence. He'd even scored a touchdown on a handoff from Cody, driving right through the centre of the opposing line. It had been glorious, the team moving as one to part the line before him like the Red Sea and give him one perfect opportunity to smash through - after that, the Pelicans had just been mopping up.

He looked over, a small smile touching his lips, and speak of the devil, there was the junior quarterback chatting with Miles Strickland. The smile faded slightly; the situation with those two was an interesting one. A few years ago he would have hated Cody, and it still surprised him that he'd grown to trust the quarterback as much as he had, and as for Miles... try as he might, he wasn't sure he ever quite liked the boy. They had known each other since they were kids, mostly because his father was good friends with the owners of Strickland-Bell, but the attitude Miles carried with him always put his hackles up. People who acted like they were better than everyone else because of what they were born with made Mike's knuckles itch.

That said, he might as well be polite, and there was still a pleasant warmth in his chest after their win, so he ambled over to the pair with a lazy little wave, leaning his back against a locker. The cool metal woke him up nicely, and felt good against the bruise.

"Surprised the whole team didn't beat me in here."