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The Dynamo of Volition; open and stuff yo
Topic Started: Mar 3 2016, 12:36 PM (662 Views)
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[ *  * ]
((Melanie Beckett: Pregame Start))

That was right about when Mel walked up and plopped herself in the contested chair, her backpack unceremoniously landing on the floor next to her.

Hey, you snooze, you lose.

"Astrid!" She glanced over a bit, grinned. "What's up, Maxim? Funny finding her in a library instead of out and about, right?"

She didn't say more for now. They seemed to be in the middle of a conversation and she wasn't feeling like butting in too much without some context. She'd always thought of them both as tall and standoffish - although if she figured him right, Maxim was more just quiet than unfriendly - so this was unlikely to be idle talk. Not Sadies talk, obviously, but that didn't narrow it down much.

Mel bent down, opened her backpack, and then leaned back in the chair and began to peel the banana she'd retrieved.
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"Not a bad idea, y'know?" Mel traced the back of the chair with one fingernail, taking a bite out of her banana as she did so. Chewed. Swallowed. "Could carve my initials - go all Zorro on it. Swish!"

That was a joke, of course. She was probably breaking enough library rules already.

To be honest, she didn't remember Maxim asking for the chair in the first place, but hell, she hadn't been listening. She wasn't going to complain when the sanctity of dibs was on the line, despite anything Astrid said.

That glare, by the way? Made dropping in totally worth it. She'd never known exactly why Astrid always seemed so annoyed with her - but this was all in good fun. Maybe someday she'd get to the bottom of it all, discuss some soccer, broker a peace. Maybe not.

Right, right, the chair.

Mel stood up, walked a few steps... before plopping her rear end down on the other side of the table, on the table itself. She wasn't picky.

"Go ahead," she said, pivoting to face the two of them again.

As for Astrid's tattoo, she had to admit that caught her attention. For the briefest of moments, Mel leaned in, her free hand impulsively lifting as if to brush aside the strap of Astrid's top just a little bit to get a better look - then she thought better of it. She sat back, eyes still on the tattoo, her banana almost forgotten in her grasp.

"That's a sweet tattoo." She had never felt the urge to get one for herself, mostly because of their tendency to give a negative impression in the job market, but she appreciated the artistry, the ink. Tattoos got a bad rap sometimes. Perhaps the cause was the perceived low status of its customers, or the unskilled efforts that were publicly seen and mocked. In some ways, though, she thought it shared similarities with watercolor in that tattoo artists' challenges were in many ways unique - to work directly on human skin, to create something that lived and breathed in time with the person that wore it. "It really is. Like, I wouldn't even complain about staying in if that's what you get in return."

Mel paused, her eyes flitting to Astrid's wrist and back again, catching only momentarily on the tissue wrapped around one of the other girl's fingertips. "The guy's the same artist that did your other one?"
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"It's so arbitrary," Mel said, swinging her legs a couple of times. She stopped when the table shook under her. "I mean, it's just dumb that people are always telling others what they can or can't do. Like we should all be the same or something."

It was funny that Astrid seemed more civil right now than almost anytime else, just from getting a little buttered up. Then again, Mel couldn't imagine anyone reacting badly to a compliment unless they thought it was mockery, and it was clear enough that her interest had been genuine. Her mouth usually said what it wanted with little input from her brain, anyway.

She hadn't given thought to deliberately complimenting Astrid before. Maybe it was something to try in the future - give her some time, let her forget about this, then slip under her guard once it was down... It'd be amusing, at the very least.

As for Maxim, he seemed to have disengaged from everything to sink into his book. She could respect a good book enough, especially one with a fancy looking skeleton on the cover, not to interrupt him to ask what it was about.

"I wish my brother was interested in artsy stuff. Actually, no. Then I'd have to teach him, and that'd be a hopeless cause- anyway, he talks about your sister sometimes."

Mel grinned, left it vague for a long moment.

"Nothing weird, though."
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Mel furrowed her brow, any semblance of a smile disappearing off her face. Her mostly eaten banana shifted from her left hand to her right, and then found its place back in her backpack again, in a pocket where it was less likely to smear over everything. If she thought really hard, or even not that hard at all, she could guess why Maxim had left. They all had different priorities. The guy was nice enough, but he had just wanted to read his book in peace, or go somewhere he'd forgotten to go, or avoid being witness to a murder. She wasn't much confused or annoyed about that. All it did was provide her with a few more opportunities.

"Whatever it was, I must've missed it too. No... wait a sec." She locked eyes to eye with Astrid. "I bet it's some sort of lesson - trying to show you that everyone will vanish from your life one day. They'll graduate, move across the country. They'll stop responding to your texts. They'll go and build a colony on the moon."

"And the worst part is, like him, they probably won't even tell you when they're gonna-"

Mel hopped off the table, dipped to grab her backpack, slung it over her shoulder, and made for the door.

But only to wheel around a couple seconds later and plop back into Maxim's vacated chair.

"Except for people who you aren't getting rid of that easy," she said. The smile slid back onto her face. As far as her mind and mouth were concerned, she could do this all day, nudging at the alternating, rising tides of confusion and indignation that Astrid was prone to. "What're you reading, anyway?"
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Well, now Astrid was just acting like a deflated balloon. Any bigger of a sigh and Mel would have drawn the conclusion that if she pushed Astrid's buttons enough, Astrid would flip from workaholic to sensitive artistic soul. But hey, maybe it was part of a scheme - to weaponize a general aura of resignation, in order to succeed where angry death glares had failed (not to say that Astrid wasn't still trying the latter).

What Astrid was reading did surprise her, though. History. On top of that, it was history that wasn't particularly relevant to what Mel had figured Astrid's interests to be.

Perhaps it was to maintain her grouchy attitude towards the world? Mel could buy that. Nine hundred years had passed, and followers of a god were still murdering each other over holy sites and differences in their texts. The actual conflict between the religions was almost certainly more subtle than that, not to mention more serious than she was willing to think about right now, but she had never paid enough attention in Sunday school to have any chance at remembering the details. In any case, once Astrid finished the book, she'd be fully recharged on misanthropy, and could then go around eyeing people suspiciously for signs of wanting to put on heavy armor and kill others to regain access to Jerusalem.

It was a decent theory for why Astrid had chosen this particular book. Its only flaw was that it wasn't grounded in reality at all.

She supposed she could just ask.

"Is this for a report?" Mel squinted at the book. "The next thing I know, you'll be telling me that Robin Hood doesn't exist."
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"Sounds like you," Mel said. "The slaughtering part, anyway."

She had not missed the blush that marked that Astrid had been talking about something she really cared about - more than arguing with others over the right way to do things, maybe even more than glaring. Mel filed it away in her tiny two-inch by two-inch mental folder that contained Astrid's softer moments, and then continued on with her needling.

"Astrid of Locksley," she mused, her grin reduced to a softly curving smirk. "Legend, folk hero... Without dashing, roguery, or tights. Like, to be honest though, I think you should at least keep the clothes on."

Even just thinking about her willful misinterpretation of Astrid's explanation was suddenly far too amusing. Stealing from the rich, keeping it, and doing it all while bare naked - that was an alternate history of Robin Hood she could subscribe to. It'd look great in the history books. In movies.

Mel Brooks' Men in Tights? Old-ish comedy movie, not for kids. Mel Beckett's Men Out of Tights? Definitely not appropriate for younger audiences.

"I mean- I'm sure Robin must have cut a... striking figure when he burst through the trees- hahaha!"

She tried hard to stifle the laughter - she really did - since they were in a library and all, but every time she tried to compose herself, she caught a glimpse of the mental image or Astrid's face and burst straight out in giggles again. She almost laughed herself off the chair before she could even stand up.

Tears in her eyes, she gave Astrid a wave and trotted herself out of the library before the librarian could round on her for the dual crimes of eating in the library and disturbing the peace.

((Melanie Beckett continued elsewhere))
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