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Never Known Questions
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Was Kaitlyn actually taking him seriously? Did that Lili girl actually take his offer at face value? Kid, when someone makes you that kind of offer, you're supposed to offer back something stupid or epic or something. Like, Alan was attached to his lightsaber and shit. He didn't want to give it up for literally nothing. That was a dumb idea. Lili was supposed to offer back two bars, or her weapon, or a piece of grass she found on the ground or something. It was like a game. A good game, not this shitty game.

He tossed two bars and his lightsaber over to Lili.

"Now give me a bar and a penny. If you gimme a rusty dime I will throw it at you."

Except he did get something from Lily. Loyalty and shit, right? He'd shown her some goodwill, hadn't he? And, fuck, maybe she wouldn't be much use to his upcoming Rebel Alliance, but at least she could keep watch or something, right? The Rebellion would need every fucker it could get, and it should get every fucker it could get. Doing otherwise would betray the cause or something.

Hell, this was a pretty good-sized group assembled here right now.

Alan cleared his throat.

"Alright, here's the dealio. I'm not playing, and I don't think any of you are. If you are, then, like, fuck yourself and all, but I don't feel like wasting time doing an eval on you."

It was dumb not to vet people or something, but eh........fuck it. Nobody had an actually good weapon anyways to backstab someone with.

"Anyways, if you wanna join a badass Rebel Alliance or something, I'm putting the offer on the table now. Except Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn's required to join so she doesn't go off on her own and contribute to societal collapse or something."

There. That got the right message across. Plus she was the only one here who would definitely be fun to talk to. That was something.

Twin Infinitives
We're really talking now.

Asuka pulled her hood down, adjusted her glasses. Palms open. Lean forward, like therapists were supposed to. Cuz that's what this little talk was about, right? It was about being therapists for each other. Hopefully she was doing this right.

So this girl was capable of some self-awareness. Not like Asuka had assumed she wasn't. She wasn't a hypocrite, remember? And yeah, it was hard as hell not to resent people sometimes, hard as hell to remember that they have feelings and they're complex and shit when they don't do anything to let you relate to them.

Yeah. Says the girl who literally never talks or shares secrets or opens up to anyone. And here she was, assuming that no one else ever thought about this shit, assuming that she was so fucking special for thinking that everyone's special. That's the thing, though. It didn't have to be like this if people would talk about the flaws and vulnerabilities and all that shit that made them special. But nobody sees a thing, and nobody sees that anyone else is looking. That's why everything was a fucking tragedy.

So this, well, this was a dream come true. Melodramatic, probably untrue, but she'd take what she could get.

"I feel ya. It's like, what even is the point, you know? No one to talk to, and, like, why the fuck am I studying this hard, you know? When I don't give a shit about money, I mean. Like, learning for learning's sake is cool and all, but other than that I don't want any of the stuff I'm working for. And, like, I care about the people around me on a conceptual basis but I don't care about any of the shit I do with them because we don't do shit worth doing together. So I might as well get away from all that".

Damn, she'd almost forgotten about the concert. She really cared more about talking with this girl, would've skipped the whole thing to talk to her if she could, money be damned. But Lili actually seemed invested in this concert, and they wouldn't get anywhere if she wanted to get back to the concert the whole time. So Asuka shrugged her shoulders when Lili said to move to the front.

"Fine by me."

It Belongs in a Museum
Jennifer met her gaze, acknowledged her, turned back to talking with the other guy. Good. That was as it should be, that was as Asuka had envisioned it.

And then the other guy started talking and all of Asuka's plans for the afternoon went to hell, because people are opening up people are being vulnerable and hell yeah let's get Asuka out of her head for a little bit. She'd been spending the whole day there.

So. Um. Physical problems weren't exactly Asuka's forte, and, truth be told, she had a lot more empathy for people with mental disorders. Like, she felt sorry for them and all, but you could deal with a broken leg or arm or hell, even something more permanent like diabetes way more easily than with something like social anxiety or depression. God, Asuka hoped she wasn't being ableist or trivializing disability or something. She really hoped she wasn't.

But it's not like she could be blamed for that, could she? Like, she'd dealt with mental stuff before, so no shit she was able to relate to mental illness better. Plus, she'd done way more research on mental illness and stuff, so there's that.

Don't make excuses for yourself, Asuka. Hold your goddamn cowardly self accountable.

Okay. So this guy's physical condition had mostly social implications. That was something Asuka could talk about. Thing was, she wasn't really sure how to go about this. Was he telling her in confidence? Doubtful. Still, it'd suck if she fucked up this little interaction and made the guy uncomfortable. She wasn't going to be that one kid who always ruined a good moment. But still, she couldn't sit this one out.

No advice. Asuka hated it when people tried to give her advice for her shit. It was always really obvious and irrelevant and seriously, did these assholes think she was an idiot? Of course she'd tried that already. You would've if you've been there. You weren't there, man. You just weren't there.

Fuck, she was overthinking this. Except she wasn't, was the thing. Nothing she'd thought of so far was a valid way to enter the discussion. So just quietly take a seat nearby, nod and listen and look friendly, and maybe she could join later in a way that doesn't fuck this up.

"Ah, that sucks. That really sucks, man."

Well that sounded stupid and forced and insincere. But she had to say something. She already knew how this was going to go, how this was going to end, if she didn't say something.

Never Known Questions
Candy bars, huh? You offering Alan a nice tasty candy bar for his beautiful-as-shit badass lightsaber and yeah how about a no thank you on that. He should-- he should hold them up now. With his fucking toy lightsaber. It was for the greater good, right? Because if you don't hold them up for all their food, you hurt your chances of stopping grey goo and grey goo trumps fucking everything, and shit Alan go fuck off with this shit. Go fuck off with this shit before you actually convince yourself because hey Alan was a pretty persuasive guy, right? He was like really smart at making stupid stuff sound smart and shit you gotta control yourself man. Or at least until he had an actual plan or idea or something about how to rebel, but Alan doesn't do plans, does he?

Alan Banks doesn't control himself. You do not tell him to control himself. He is a force of nature. An agent of chaos. He is a-- oh, fuck it with the superlatives. Alan was going to think whatever he damn well pleases.

Hey Alan that girl's offering you something for nothing. She's pretty cool. Pretty chaotic. Bringing down capitalism and all that, yeah? And that other girl, Kaitlyn something, she's pretty cool, right?

Turn to the Asian girl. Say something. Say something epic back.

"Really? Cool. Hey, as a thank-you gift or a token of good will or some shit, I'll give you a free candy bar. For free."

Because fuck waiting until he was finished taking down the terrorists, he was gonna stick it to the man right now. The man. The fucking system. Burn it all down now. Send it all tumbling and crashing down. Like, he might not have the chance later, right?

"And Kaitlyn, I don't know but this place has some pretty sick deals on candy bars right now. So I'll give it a, um, C+ for effort. And, like, it's all your fault for getting put here, anyways. It's the government's punishment for libertarians."

Yeah. She'd love that.

Okay, so she won't but at least it'll make her stop being a fucking libertarian. Or at least make her become a better libertarian.

Oh wait she was a different kind of libertarian wasn't she.

Aww, fuck.

A World Of Sadness
They were ignoring her.

Oh well. Asuka was too used to being ignored to mind. She'd spent a lifetime being ignored, even gotten to like it a little. She'd gotten rather good at staying invisible, at stepping lightly and leaving a light touch on everything she touched, because fuck do things go wrong when she leaves a heavy impact. And it was better to be invisible than to be hated.

Fuck, Asuka hoped these kids didn't hate her guts. That was totally, like, up to them though. It wasn't like she could tell people how to think or anything. But still.

Of all the times to cry about being lonely. Of all the reasons to cry when you're stuck on Hellmurder Island. No, it's not getting a rename. Asuka chuckled a little through her sniffles. God, this was pathetic.

Could've been worse though. She could've started full-on bawling or something. Except Asuka didn't think she could do that even if she watched someone get killed. That was pitiful in its own way, probably.

Shh shh stop your sniffling, get a hold of yourself, little girl. You only look towards yourself for validation, don't you? That's right. The hell with what other people think about you, your perspective, the things you care about. But, fuck, she needed to talk to someone about it. Needed to get it out there, because talking to herself all the time got her stuck inside her head and made her lonely.

It made her a nihilist and a solipsist. It made her go and dream the day away, because there was nothing that could be said or done that was worth saying or doing. So get your head out of your head, or put the outside world into your head, or whatever. Say your piece and live the dream.

And here she was getting her hopes up that maybe, just maybe, when most everyone was about to die, they'd all be able to find some common ground and set aside all the petty shit. Talk, listen, live and let live and all that. Die peaceful and happy and content. Together. That's what we all want, right?

Right?

And it looked like she was right. Because there was Penelope asking if Brendan was okay, and there was Brendan asking Penelope to take care of herself. See? It was glorious. It was beautiful.

Asuka needed to say her piece. Not as a speech, though. You don't shove the theme or message or whatever down the audience's throat. Yeah, it'd make them understand, but it wouldn't deliver that warm and fuzzy feeling that was the whole point of her message. It wouldn't work quite the same as seeing some doomed kids actually hug each other.

So as the boy bolted out the door and disappeared into the distance, Asuka turned to the remaining girl, Penelope, this girl who was scared of her for some reason, and she dropped her gun on the floor, and she said, between short sobs, "I'm sorry, I'm so, so, so sorry about all this, but right now I really need a hug."

There. That'll convey something approaching the right message.

And also Asuka really needed a fucking hug right now.

Never Known Questions
They just had to fuck around with grey goo.

((B045: Alan Banks: Start))

I mean like sure it takes quite some mental gymnastics to link this to grey goo and like I'm sure there's easier stuff I mean whole bunch of kids are dying so yeah. That impact not good enough for you? No? Ok ok here's how it works. Constant terrorist attacks lead to increase in government military spending lead to advancements in nanotech. Which leads to grey goo. Fucking grey goo, fuckers.

Hey Alan you okay there?

Everything's okay, everything's fine, as long as he keeps thinking about grey goo everything will be fine OH CHRIST fuck no fuck why you just had to become self-aware there for a second. You just had to be self-aware for a second and now all your lovely plans for staying happily deluded are just

Yeah.

Okay. Showtime. This was like some movie shit, huh? The terrorists-- okay, terrorism is a loaded term and needs to stop getting thrown around but maybe just this once it's actually justified so fuck yeah he can call them terrorists-- had trapped them in some movie shit. Can you kill your best friend? Can your best friend kill you? Ooh aah scary and deep and all that. So you put on a fucking show. You put on your badass cape and your badass trenchcoat and hold up your badass gun and say some badass words and then, well, and then

You already know what to do with this narrative.

And yeah, maybe a part of him was whispering something to him. Something like: Hey Alan uh you know the terrorists just want a good show right. You know rebels are pretty popular and entertaining in show biz right. You know this plays into their hands. Their fucking gloved machine-gun-wielding cybernetically-enhanced mystical magical ringwraith terrorist hands.

Hey voice uh how about you fuck off before Alan thinks he's schizophrenic and shit. Because fuck it if Alan was going to sit around and be some boring kid. That'll be some rebellion. No, Alan was going to rebel and he was going to make the terrorists laugh like kids in the candy store and then the candy was going to have fucking poison in them. Because this rebellion was going to fucking work.

So how do you do lead a rebellion without a badass gun, right?

Okay okay this is easy. You walk up to someone and ask for their gun. And they give you their gun, because you're a trenchcoat badass rebel guy and they're so in awe they give up their gun to fight for the cause. And if they're assholes and they don't believe well then, well then! Then you get to hold them up with your badass fucking lightsaber. Yeah, Alan had been itching to use the thing, he really had.

Keep your lightsabers away guys the market's in town.

Alan was fucking in.

"Hey, um, no cigarettes here, but I got like a lightsaber if you wanna deflect bullets and stuff."

Badass rebels need no swords.

Twin Infinitives
So that's what happens when you get your hopes too far up.

All of a sudden Asuka wanted nothing more than to sit down against the wall, put her head in her lap, and drift off to sleep like that. What a shame, what a fucking shame. The conversation was gonna be interesting and the concert was gonna be inspiring and she was gonna get shit done and then Lili drops one line and poof, oh look, there goes her entire pyramid of hope crumbling down because really you gotta be a dumbass to keep grasping at straws like this. Great job, Lili, great job.

There's a lot to say here, like the fact that categorically dismissing mainstream music made you just as blind as the so-called sheeple, that assuming that everyone was as shallow as they appeared made you the shallow one, that you don't get anywhere by being mean. Yeah, Asuka could feel a whole rant here. Fucking judger. Let people like what they like.

Yeah. Like you're not judging the fuck out of her right now. Of course Asuka never would've made her rant. It would've made her a hypocrite. Yeah. That was why. Sure, she was too shy to rant even if she hadn't caught that, but this, this was definitely the main reason.

Asuka's tongue was totally frozen.

"Um...yes, and no."

Cop-out answer. Bet that makes her think you're plastic. But it wasn't like Asuka could pull a perfectly eloquent response off the top of her head. And it wasn't a cop-out answer after all, because it was true, because everything was shades of grey and if you ever answered in absolutes you were delusional. Hell, Asuka should answer every question with yes and no. That would get her some friends. But she had an answer now, and maybe she hadn't worked out all the wording and all the stuff she wanted to say and even all the ideas that were faintly buzzing around inside her head, but she needed to say it right now, or she never would. The other girl would start talking again and the conversation would move on and the words and ideas would die out and all this would've been wasted.

Asuka chanced a glance at Lili. She was no good at reading faces, that she knew, but if she had to guess, Lili was feeling...hopeful? Yeah, that was it. And truth be told, Asuka wasn't about to rain on her hope parade, exactly. Crushing put-downs just weren't her style. They weren't a style at all, really. All those assholes who kick verbal shit around because they were blunt, they were brutally honest and the fact that they didn't sugar-coat was a sign of respect because it meant they weren't bullshitting you, whatever floated their boat. Fuck those guys. Asuka wasn't gonna join them. Though she had to admit it made for more interesting conversation than what she was doing now.

Okay.

"So. What I mean is that, like, people who seem fake do annoy me? They do, kinda. But it's not really fair for me to be annoyed at them, because I don't see much. Like, everyone seems shallow, but that's because I can only see the surface or something. Like, to me it looks like they automatically dismiss it, instantly dismiss it, whatever. But they actually put some thought into it that I didn't see. And maybe they're not going baring their hearts to me and explaining exactly how they feel and what they think, and I wish they would, but at the same time, they're not exactly being...phony? Plastic? Yeah."

God, that came out terribly. No way was that comprehensible. Please let that not be comprehensible. Please let Asuka rinse her mouth, clear her brain, and make a second non-shitty run at this talking thing.

Still, this was progress, right? She was talking, and maybe she was fucking it up, but she was actually saying things that she wanted to say. That was good. Fucking right it was. Optimism. Silver linings. She was really fucking good at this game.

New V5 Reduced Activity Notices
Moving in for college tomorrow. Will be pretty busy with moving in, adjusting, having schoolwork again, etc.

V6 Roll Call
dat discordian kid is ready. he'll fight the rng and the rng will win

A World Of Sadness
((Asuka Takahara continued from It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)))

Asuka didn't know where she was going. Oh, she'd checked her bag, alright. She knew she had a map. The map didn't have a fucking thing to do with it. She didn't know where she was going because she didn't care where she was going, so everyone who thought that she was careless enough to forget about the map or clueless enough to get lost using it could shut up and go home.

Okay, so she would've gotten totally lost if she'd used the map. But semantics are important and shit, and so long as she wasn't trying to get somewhere, she couldn't be lost, right?

Yeah. Tell her she's incompetent. Go ahead. Tell her. She was gonna stick it in competency's face.

Asuka had rifled through her bag before coming over, of course. That's what competent people do. Competent people also think check their surroundings when they don't have cover, but Asuka didn't give a fuck. She'd thought of it, so what if she didn't actually do it? It was the thought that counted.

Food. Water. First-aid kit. To be expected. Also a WWI-era German gun, which would've been pretty fucking sweet if Asuka was actually gonna kill with it. Still, it'd be good for self-defense or something. Fuck the prepper community and all that, but Asuka could abide by their ideas now that she was actually living in a prepper's nightmare.

Not her nightmare though. Yeah. Her nightmares were better. She gazed into the abyss and shit. Seriously. Draw a comparison chart, you'll see who comes out on top. This nightmare was a fucking cakewalk, and to hell with her stupid shaking body and its stupid fear of death for saying otherwise.

So Asuka had stopped, taken a deep breath, picked a random direction, and walked. A lesson to her body, to show who was fucking boss. Walked across a bridge without cover, headed over to the gym without cover. Kept her gun out, because okay, she wasn't planning on dying this early even if fearing death was for dumbasses. That would suck. That would really really suck.

She stopped at what must have been the front of the gym. Her hand shook as she raised it to push the door open. Goddammit.

A moan of pain emanated from inside the place. Like that was going to change her mind. She was going to have to take some risks if she was going to be talking to people, and she was going to fucking talk to people because Asuka had stuff she needed to say, really meaningful stuff, and she was damned if she was gonna only soliloquy to the cameras. No. Fuck that. Go take a risk. Take it now. Present tense. Take it now.

Asuka pushed open the door.

There was a boy doubled over and a girl cowering in a doorway. Well. It wasn't like she wasn't expecting an anticlimax. And besides, an anticlimax is good here. An anticlimax is excellent. Shut up, disappointment. Relief's better than you.

It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Oh, fuck.

Come on, think it like you mean it. You're entitled to swear just a little more than usual, given, well...everything.

Oh, fuck.

Yeah, it's still sinking in, isn't it?

((G056: Asuka Takahara: Start))

Asuka Takahara sat up slowly, stretched, stood. It was cold. A little windy. Normal, in a surreal kind of way. She had been lying in the overgrown grounds of a...lighthouse? No. Bell tower.

So. She was pretty sure this wasn't a dream, but she sure as hell didn't feel like she was all there. Otherwise she'd be trying to find something better to do. Ok. Focus. We're stuck on Hellmurder Island-- ok, not very original, but this hellhole deserves a lame name and where are your priorities Asuka where are your fucking priorities. You're on Hellmurder Island and your biggest concern is that you're not actually concerned enough. It'd be funny if it wasn't actually a pretty big fucking problem.

Sit back down. Take inventory. That's the rational thing to do. That's the thing rational people would do if the wanted to survive and were actually willing to confront the situation so that's what she was going to do, and maybe she was being very detached in thinking about playing the game-- well, not playing playing, probably maybe not-- moralize later, you have to focus!-- but at least she was getting her head in the game, right? She was strategizing and being strategic and, and

Oh, fuck it. Asuka lied back down. Closed her eyes.

Even overcast, the sky seemed unnaturally bright.

It didn't feel like Survival of the Fittest. Yeah. That was it. That was most definitely fucking it. It didn't feel like her classmates would be killing each other, would be dead and rotting in a matter of hours. It didn't feel like she would probably be dying, no, definitely be dying, because face it, five foot two and ninety-something pounds wasn't gonna cut it even if it had muscle.

"You're going to die," she whispered to herself.

Still nothing. But she already felt tired and wanted to take a nap, so maybe this had negatively affected her mental state after all. Good.

If she ended up feeling like the emotional equivalent of watching paint dry on walls the whole time she was here, it'd be pretty fucking ironic. Okay, so yeah, she'd half-wshed about being on SOTF, back in the days when she'd felt drained and empty for days on end and she wanted it to stop and she didn't give a fuck about living and if watching her classmates get killed made her feel something and made her cry then that was real fucking good. Karma was a bitch. Now she was literally living as though she could die today, and it was supposed to be all inspiring and meaningful and she was supposed to savor every breath and be in every moment and go out and do something that was all inspiring and meaningful or some shit, right?

So the day was banal and empty as fuck so far. She could work with that. It was ironic, yes, but it was beautiful kind of irony-- there's some feels there, right? Maybe she could feel some ennui over how even when she's thrown into a game of life and death she still doesn't feel truly alive and oh yes that's a nice thought hang on to it because here come the feels. And Asuka was giggling hysterically, almost frantically, because goddammit she'd just thought about fucking ennui on fucking Survival of the Fittest and no matter what happens Asuka Takahara would still be a pretentious little fuck, so stay that way because that's how you keep ticking that's how you stay in business.

So. Asuka was in business now. What do people in business have? A plan. A plan would be positively DELICIOUS to have. Okay, so she's still not entirely focused, but this is the good kind of unfocused. Yeah. Let's go with that. And a plan needs a goal. So get a fucking goal.

Winning was out of the question, of course, been over that already. Escape...yeah, you'll need a group for that, and even then it probably wouldn't work, because look at these things they put on our necks, they're practically a black box. Totally seamless.

That left dying.

Asuka was surprisingly okay with that at the moment, all things considered. You figure, well, living's highly unlikely, might as well go out doing meaningful shit instead of clawing at survival like an animal. Where are your priorities, Asuka, where are your fucking priorities, why don't you value your life a little more.

Asuka was a realist. Well, wasn't that a fucking good excuse.

Thing was, living and dying meaningfully, she thought she could do, yes. This was Survival of the Fittest, and now that it felt like Survival of the Fittest, lots of meaningful shit was going to go down. Oh, yes. Definitely. I mean, say what you will about terrorists, but when they screw people's lives up, they screw them up meaningfully. You could flip out, kill someone, try to escape, off yourself, and really the possibilities were endless and no matter what you did it'd prove something profound about human nature or something. It was genius. They were demented manic pixie dream girls, the lot of them. She should, she should

Fuck them all.

She could out-pretentious them all. Animals? You think you look cool and all by turning us into animals? Fuck you. Animals are boring. They're simple. So show that we're still human. And you'll need to be something more complex than a sociopathic villain. Like, you'll need to seem like a real person for people to believe that you're human. No shit. You're gonna have to show your real self to them.

She shivered.

Her real self. Her Holden Caufield self.

Right.

Asuka took off running.

((Asuka Takahara continued in A World of Sadness))

Twin Infinitives
Now she was talkative. Well. At least Asuka wouldn't have to contribute to the conversation too much. And besides, this was going interesting places, right? She wanted to find out some more, get a little more info than what was online, so she was getting that now. And she'd wanted to talk about personal stuff, vent a little with a stranger, and hey, she hadn't responded, but it's not like Asuka expected better anyways. Strangers don't tell strangers about their feelings. Strangers don't inquire into strangers' feelings, even if Asuka had left the door open on that. But this was okay. This was exciting. There was stuff to get interested in, there was stuff to care about and stuff to do and shit maybe this will make her come alive and get interested in stuff and care about stuff and do stuff and

It was raining outside.

It was raining outside, and around her it was all cheap darkness and mumbling strangers and the droning white noise that permeated through everything and made everything numb.

Oh. So that's how this goes. Big surprise.

Well this sucks. But she nodded her head, shuffled her feet forward, because you don't let strangers know you're not okay. And, like, who knows, maybe something will come in the next couple of minutes to drown out the white noise. She could hope. It was silly, but she believed it. Kinda. Not really.

She believed it enough, apparently.

Asuka really didn't have the energy to wade into the crowd, but she could dig deep. And then she'd dig a little deeper, and a little deeper, and then she'd either give out and sit down or pass out or whatever, or she'd hit a big reserve, and then everything would be just perfect. Asuka was fine either way. Really. Either way it was a way out, and if she had to fucking break down for that to happen, so be it.

The girl was talking some more. It was just a little hard to register what she was saying.

"Name's Asuka, I'm a sophomore."

Um. Fuck. What's she supposed to say next again?

No. No need to say anything. Just sit back and let Lili ramble a little and maybe get a little hyped. Asuka could wait a little before saying the dumb things she kinda wanted to say. She was good at waiting. Used to it. Did it all the time, in fact, to the point that she never stopped waiting. So she was done with waiting. But she could afford to wait a little more.

Come to think of it, she should really talk this shit over with her mom or a counselor or something instead of some kid she vaguely recognized from school. That'd force her to wait just a little more.

Meh.

You're an idiot, Asuka.

It Belongs in a Museum
Asuka hated sweat. Fuck you, human body, for not developing a cleaner, less sticky cooling mechanism. Or fuck you, human mind, for finding stickiness and dirt uncomfortable.

Asuka groaned and snapped her sketchbook closed. So much for that idea. Her sweat-soaked shirt was practically melting onto her body, and she'd only been drawing out here for, what, ten minutes? Fuck that shit.

Asuka was all for romance, all for sitting outside all serene and zen with her pencil scratching out line art of whatever inspirational thing happened to be sitting in front of her, looking all enlightened and in one with her surroundings and all. Yeah, that would've been nice. But if Kingman insisted on being the place where romance goes to die, well, she could roll with that.

Yeah. That was just fine. Being the place where romance goes to die was, in its own way, kinda romantic. You could stick the phrase on a sign, hoist it into the air, and people would pour in to marvel at the place. Kingman was an ideal, of sorts. She just needed to fuck up her perspective a little. It's all a matter of perspective, romance is a social construct, everything is a social construct, hell could be heaven and heaven could be hell, so on and so forth, right? And lo and behold, everything's fine again. Everything's golden.

Like that one time Asuka had gone to a party-- booze, drugs, loud music, screaming, the works. Normally she hated parties, but she'd wanted to go that time-- remember? Yeah, remember that? She'd actually wanted to go that time, she'd wanted to feel overwhelmed and overimulated, alienated and melancholic, and, holy shit, it had worked. It was beautiful. It'd been heaven.

Not that Asuka had tried any of the booze or drugs. She hadn't quite reached that point yet.

So drawing out here was out of the question, but having a nice draw session wasn't. Sweat was disgusting-- objectively disgusting-- but Kingman was only subjectively unromantic.

Stand up, Asuka. Walk across the street. The museum let you sketch their stuff, right? That'll be nice. That'll be an alright consolation prize.

Bump the doors open. Oh, hell yes. A/C. All hail A/C. And fans. All hail fans. The door boomed behind her as she came in, her footsteps echoing up and down the building.

The museum was big and quiet and empty. Good. She wouldn't have to deal with feeling self-conscious while drawing, wouldn't have the words they're judging you, they're judging you echoing around inside her head and frying her brain.

Oh. So there are people here. That's fine, they're keeping to their own thing. Drawing, like she was. And one of them, now that she was looking a little more closely, was Jennifer Wallace. That was good. Of course the other guy smelled like fish-- didn't seem likely to be Jennifer, with that wrinkled nose-- but hey, don't judge a book by its cover, right? Asuka wouldn't. Asuka was a nice non-judgmental person who would never avoid a person just because they smelled like fish, right? No, she was going to go off to draw by herself regardless of who was there, because she was a shy quiet person who wanted to be alone with her thoughts and sketchpad. The fish smell was entirely incidental.

Asuka waved. Goddammit.

She'd meant that wave. She'd really really wanted to just be alone, but still, she'd meant that wave.

Hi and stuff.

Twin Infinitives
There was a girl coming Asuka's way. Fuck. So much for not getting noticed. Asuka wasn't sure if she knew this girl, wasn't even sure if the girl was approaching her or just wandering her way randomly, but no worries. No need to panic. Asuka raised her hands, gave a pathetic excuse of a half-wave, then immediately adjusted her glasses. It'd be nice if the girl didn't notice, didn't interpret anything meaningful from the little twitch her wrist made as it made its way towards her face, but if this girl was dead set on meeting her she might as well say hi and be nice and stuff. She wouldn't be able to brush her off and ignore her all night, not without making the whole affair stressful and tense, and Asuka did. Not. Need. More. Stress. Or. Tension.

The girl stopped a few paces away. Well then.

Asuka took a deep breath, looked at the girl more closely. Bowl cut. Glasses. Asian. Asuka knew all the other Asian kids at Cochise by face, if not by name-- misplaced tribalism, Asuka knew, but she couldn't help it, couldn't stop her eyes roving around for other members of her tribe. Yeah, she's seen this girl. Didn't know much about her, though. Um. Freshman. Band geek. Apparently a pretty big fan of this group, seeing as she had their T-shirt even though they were both literally and symbolically obscure.

Asuka sighed. Ok. Fine. She could talk to this girl. Someone with weird, obscure taste in music couldn't be half bad to talk to, right? Right. Barring the now non-existent possibility of going the night without talking, this was going to be about as good as it gets when it comes to conversation. Someone in the know, and in the know for something that was actually kind of interesting, though if Asuka was being honest with herself, it probably wasn't quite interesting enough to make her actually better at not sucking at everything, at getting out of bed, at actually getting shit done, at actually giving a shit about the things she used to give a shit about.

Don't think about that now, Asuka. You can berate yourself later. For now, it'll just ruin whatever chance this evening has of actually cheering you up.

The girl started talking, all shy and awkward and uncertain. That was good. Asuka didn't like confidence, didn't like people who were so sure and assured about things. Bastards haven't realized that the only thing they know is that they know nothing, and all that.

Asuka shrugged. "Yes to the first, no to the second. Just a little tired. You're from Cochise, right? I think I've seen you around there. You into this stuff?"

She paused.

Yeah. This wasn't so bad. Banal question, followed by banal answer, leading back into banal question. And, with luck, it'll actually go somewhere interesting. Please please please go somewhere interesting. Asuka was dying to find something interesting.

"Not too familiar with them myself, to be honest. Avant-garde music's one of those things that I always wanted to be into, but never actually got around to. I'm just here to check things out, recharge a little. Y'know, get away from life for a little bit."

There. Door's open now.

Twin Infinitives
The Kingman night was warm and fuzzy and embracing and there were honks here and there and everything was kinda golden, bathed in the streetlights and all, and if Asuka stopped and closed her eyes and listened carefully and held her breath she could maybe barely, just barely, pretend she was in a real city.

Yeah. Big city. Small girl. See where your dreaming gets you when you use the night before your big paper's due to go to a fucking concert and I mean sure you can pull an all-nighter but seriously, Asuka, stop. Stop, turn around, walk home, and rethink your life.

Asuka had spent the past month lying in bed and rethinking her life and it had really been a profoundly dumb idea. If she hadn't been thinking so hard about how important it was for her to finish her project, the damn thing would've been done by now. So Asuka was gonna take a break from all that because ok look if she'd stayed home and tried to work, maybe-- she wasn't sure on this, buy maybe-- she'd actually dig up some willpower, and she'd look at the assignment, actually look at it for once, and then she'd keel over and that'll be that but hey maybe this avant-garde thing would give her the spark for her motivation to dance dance dance back into her life and they'll have a lovely tear-filled reunion party and everything will be all peachy and she'd write the damn paper and it'd be brilliant, it really would.

Yeah, nobody's buying it, but the economy's in the tank and this is the only hope vendor in town, kid.

Asuka opened her eyes.

Heh. Some city.

Trudged her way over to the door, went in, cuz hope's sold out everywhere but here and you gotta, man you gotta hope it's not sold out here too.

Asuka flipped her hood up. It's not like she was noticeable anyways, but it made her feel more comfortable. When you're this pathetic, best no be seen. Yeah, Asuka needs help and all that. She just really doesn't need anyone to tell her.

V6 Roll Call
Asuka Takahara, ready to get destroyed. I'll update once my other character(s) actually exist.