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I love me some Ryan Adams, who has what I think of as an Ian vibe on a lot of songs, but "Kindness" off Ashes & Fire was the first that came to mind.

https://open.spotify.com/track/1xtHl1KBKOpTbZOsNSJyzf

"If you're so kind

Can you let down your hand

Can you let down your hand

If you're so kind

If you're so strong

Can you shelter the weak

Will you listen as the strangers speak

Bring them calm..."

- Kade Player

Ian:

Color - Finish Ticket

We grow as we learn to let go / Pushing through the black and white / See in color

https://open.spotify.com/track/2HNnYRJIlsM1JHn1Nq8qU7


Vega:

Heads Will Roll (Remix) - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

The men cry out the girls cry out / The men cry out, oh no / Off, off with your head / Dance, dance 'til you're dead / Heads will roll

https://open.spotify.com/track/0vBpyfpW2lARGh3AZFtWRi

A Light That Never Comes (Remix) - Linkin Park

Nah, you don't know me / Lightning above and a fire below me / You cannot catch me, cannot hold me / You cannot stop, much less control me / ... / 'Cause I know what it's like to test fate / Had my shoulders pressed with that weight

https://open.spotify.com/track/0MatNW1EGwMFpSB6wXw0RC

"Things Are Looking Up" - Blues Travellers

https://open.spotify.com/track/1Rhuie797ZYsoxoHD7fBe1

This had a really Kade vibe to me in the mix the dirty blues/rock & roll sound (which I can picture him strutting down the street to) and the 'fuck it and let it roll' lyrics. There is a lot of where he is currently in his story in it, fighting his way back into something he wants to be despite being in not the best situation, and keeping rolling.

//The sting reminding me//

//At least it seems to be//

//That I am fiery//

//And must be burning burning//

Good Feeling -- Flo Rida

I get a good feeling, yeah / The mountain top, walk on water / I got power, feel so royal / One second, I'mma strike oil

https://open.spotify.com/track/2LEF1A8DOZ9wRYikWgVlZ8

Matrimony -- The Avett Brothers

Things didn't work out like they should / Farther from how you thought they would /... / Matrimony... / Holy plans and holy gifts / Holy shit what did we get

https://open.spotify.com/track/336KlwcHenPiFtBtuIkVHi

"Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar is very obvious and on nose for Irene. So of course I could not resist posting it.

https://open.spotify.com/track/7nrtHjt4Vk4Z5jMHOwaS8F

- Kade Player

/Cause I'm a lost river that'll never reach the sea/ /When you're not here with me, when you're gone/ /I'm sick to my bones, I don't feel natural/ /Without you I'm not whole, when you're gone/

Gone - Bebe Rexha https://open.spotify.com/track/4UNpjLezzEtPXqkm5d09M8


/And if you complain once more/ /You'll meet an army of me/

/You're alright/ /There's nothing wrong/ /Self sufficiency please!/ /And get to work/

Army of Me - Bjork https://open.spotify.com/track/0pXQWCgKlh9ZiXcIE6wwC4

Two songs!

"Stranger/Lover" - Ibeyi This song kind of gave me a sense of how I've seen you use/Huruma use empathy and her shifting personas in and out of people's lives. It's that in between of where she is and where you want to take her in growth, straddling perceptions. https://open.spotify.com/track/5NvppEC4jgMAfFMhdDuX8O

'Mothercreep' - FKA Twigs Own your little bit of other, girl. (I love it. :D ) https://open.spotify.com/track/23x0FMZTXNrEJ73rkA4yEW

I really like the modern sounds of these, and the subject matter is pretty cool. I also really love new female vocalists! :D Thank you!

Hu Songs! Well, song. Nina Simone's "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" has a vibe I think fits. A want to belong and rebuild, behind a face of ultra-cool strength.

https://open.spotify.com/track/5CKHhg31HcYYhwUeeGqvhq

"I wish I could give / All I'm longin' to give / I wish I could live / Like I'm longin' to live / I wish I could do / All the things that I can do / Though I'm way overdue / I'd be starting anew."

- Kade Player


  • Ciel really seems to revel in using her powers (and seemingly lacks the angst about them a lot of mutants have) but is there anything she'd change about them if she could, or that she regrets being unable to do?
  • Kade and Ciel have known each other for a long time, but mostly in a work friends/fellow agents capacity. Is there anything that's surprised her about him, since they started hooking up (or just since they got reacquainted when he came to NYC, for that matter)?

- Kade Player

Ciel really seems to revel in using her powers (and seemingly lacks the angst about them a lot of mutants have) but is there anything she'd change about them if she could, or that she regrets being unable to do?

OH BOY IS THERE. Ciel has a different perspective on mutation than many PCs for two main reasons: her upbringing and her actual mutation, which has no real ability to harm anyone by accident. Her mom was a mutant, with a mutation she loved, and many of (although not all of) the other members in their al-Sahra had minor mutations of some shade or another. She grew up with a LOT of it, and there was always, from day one, the expectation that she'd be a mutant, too. If she hadn't been, I think she'd have been devastated.

And then she moved in with Jean-Paul, who also took great joy in his mutation and made a career out of it. And most of their family friends were mutants. She had exposure to mutations in a positive way for almost all of her life, which is why being thrust into the Real World post-X-Force hit her so damned hard. It's not just about not being a superhero anymore, but about finally having to confront a world that doesn't like what she is.

And none of that answers your question. Oops.

Ciel loves her mutation. She prides herself on using it well and creatively (I wish I got to do more of this on camera - SOMEDAY) and honing her reflexes to be able to do ridiculous and crazy and useful things with them. On camera this has mostly been like, hopping from place to place, but when I conceived her power, that wasn't the focus of it - it's based off the ridiculous fun of Blink's powers in Days of Future Past, and that's the sort of thing XF would have seen a lot of. I am RIDICULOUSLY pleased that I got to use them this way in our Staten Island flashback.

I also don't play with her flight very much, and with her speed so little that most people probably DON'T EVEN KNOW SHE HAS IT. Which is because she's not really a speedster, she just kinda finds it easy to go faster than most people. And finally I get to her regret.

Which is that she's not a bonafide Beaubier.

Jeanne-Marie and Jean-Paul had this super-close, super-entwined, super-dependent relationship for much of their lives, and that included their mutation. They were mirrors, not exactly the same, but a good likeness. Jeanne-Marie talked about Jean-Paul a lot, specifically about how much she missed flying with him. Ciel spent most her life assuming she'd grow up to be able to skim the clouds like her mom did. When she went to Jean-Paul, that assumption stayed in place. Flying was a joy for both of them, this sort of amazing escape that Ciel yearned for, especially after her life went to shit.

And she can fly. But she can't fly fast, and she's never going to get over wishing that she could (and tbh, some of her dislike of Richard is related to the fact that he can). It puts annoying limits on where she can go and how she can get there. It means that she lacks the truly Beaubier reflexes that might allow her portals to do even more ridiculously awesome things, like jump in front of bullets (I'm not sure she'd be able to do that even then, but she can DREAM). But most importantly, it means she can't just fly fast. It's kind of silly, really - 20mph feels plenty fast in the 'wind against your face' sense, and her portals actually take her much, much faster than that in terms of travel time - but it feels like such a disappointment to be going so slow, to always have to be the one Jean-Paul slows down for.

Nevermind that he can't create portals, you know? Ciel is often about the things that are out of her grasp and not the things she has in her hands. In some ways I think she'd be more at peace if she couldn't fly at all than having to fly at a snail's pace while her uncle does laps around her. Then at least she could've been good at her own thing, instead of being a failure at Beaubiering.

Kade and Ciel have known each other for a long time, but mostly in a work friends/fellow agents capacity. Is there anything that's surprised her about him, since they started hooking up (or just since they got reacquainted when he came to NYC, for that matter)?

Much of Kade is unsurprising, which sits well with Ciel. Although she craves drama and excitement and adrenaline in much of her life, she's had the relationships that contain these sorts of things, and it turns out they kinda suck. At her heart, Ciel wants (maybe needs) a firm sense of footing, a grounding to keep her sane while she chases after those other things in other aspects of her life. She's had several major upheavals in her life, and they tend to leave her reeling. X-Force was grounding for her, in that it provided safety and security and routine even while also handing her adrenaline and action. Contrast that with India, which was all adrenaline and action, and no grounding.

All of that is to say, Ciel finds Kade very grounding, and part of that is because she knows what to expect. And she likes what to expect. His competence, his dorky sense of humor, his idealism, his mellowness, his balance of action and thought. He's trustworthy and reliable, and he gives her a sense of steadiness that she hasn't had since X-Force disappeared. Between Kade and Lexie, she's gotten a lot of her footing back.

I'm really bad at answering your questions instead of angling off into tangents. SORRY.

The thing that DOES surprise Ciel about Kade pretty consistently is his thoughtful, romantic streak. It's not something she's had a ton of in her life (or ever thought she wanted), but it's also not something she'd peg him with. Especially because she was the one who was gung-ho for this thing, while he was-- you know. Walking out on her the morning after. The idea that he's now sort of all-in takes her consistently by surprise, to the degree that sometimes she's not entirely sure what to do with it. It's not that she doesn't think him capable of thoughtfulness or planning - she does, and these are both things she's attracted to. It's more this idea that they're in the sort of relationship where he buys her a rose and cheesecake for Valentine's day and gets all nervous about giving her a key. It's more committed than she expected given their start, and she's sort of used to being the one who wants things when it comes to Kade, without getting them. So getting them before she even thought to want them is this sort of a constantly pleasant shock. And it's so freaking normal, in a way she has never really been before. Some days she's not quite sure what to do with any of it.

Going from working in an organized organization to the loose life of a contract hire to the light touch of X-Factor is a huge transition. How does Ciel feel about X-Factor so far? Are there things she'd like to change or develop given the chance?

We haven't caught a scene a while... but what are Ciel's current feelings on Ian? You've said she feels a little protective of him before.

If Ciel could have a different power, what would it be?

Going from working in an organized organization to the loose life of a contract hire to the light touch of X-Factor is a huge transition. How does Ciel feel about X-Factor so far? Are there things she'd like to change or develop given the chance?

Ug. UG. That's what Ciel has to say about the matter. Even merc work was pretty organized, because she worked for a giant organization, and was always employed. She didn't have to find her jobs, they found her. She went where she was told, did what she was told. In all truth, if Ciel didn't have an issue with who she was shooting and why and the general ideals of the people she was working for, the life probably would have suited her pretty well.

Ciel is smart and flexible and dedicated and competent, but she really wants (needs?) someone to point her in the right direction and tell her to go.

So neither PIing nor XFS are a super great fit for her. Being a PI uses her skills and feels worthwhile at least some of the time, which helps scratch an itch. Working for XFS lets her flex her mutant muscles and see some occasional action, which scratches another.

But what she's craving is -- well. Basically to be a superhero. To do something that matters in a group of people who care about doing something that matters. To trust the people making decisions. To have someone who tells her what to do. These are all things she'd love to see XFS be - but that it almost certainly never will be. I don't know if there will ever be a place for Ciel to have that again, in the way that she wants that.

All that said, she does like X-Factor. She admires what Jeremy's trying to do, and she hates hiding as a mutant and approves of anything that allows other people to avoid a closet, and she thinks that mutants are damned useful and that ignoring their skills is stupid.

She just wants it to be something it's not, in her heart of hearts.

We haven't caught a scene a while... but what are Ciel's current feelings on Ian? You've said she feels a little protective of him before.

Man, we really need to RP. It's been like two months.

I'm kind of having a hard time answering this in part because we haven't RPed in a long time and a lot's happened with Ciel since then, and in part because we sort of made up a relationship on the fly at the beginning that, to my mind, was colored a lot by the chemistry they clearly had early on, and we haven't explored all of that either.

So feel free to correct me if any of my assumptions are wrong.

In my mind, Ciel has been familiar with Ian for a long time - almost as long as she's been in New York. She comes in sometimes, he patches her up, they crack a few jokes, at some point they start this tradition of coloring the streak of hair she used to keep dyed. There's sort of a low-key chemistry neither one of them pushes much, though they definitely enjoy a casual flirtation, and Ciel finds herself attracted to lots of things about Ian. Mostly to his goodness, to his idealism and his willingness to put his work where his words are, to do something worthwhile with his life. Ian has a clear purpose that Ciel admires and envies.

He's also got this gentleness and wonder that really appeals to her because it's not something she encounters often in her life.

So anyway, current feelings. Things have changed in little ways - she's stopped dying her hair (not because of Ian, but because of Harrison's comments about her mother at Christmas), and she's stopped flirting, or at least dialed way back on it. She is not entirely unaware that Ian had a bit of a crush on her. I mean, it was mostly reciprocated. It's just that neither one of them felt it enough to push it further - and Ciel's got this bigger, older thing looming over her attention in the form of Kade.

So now she feels a little awkward, and she kind of deals with it by ignoring it, mostly. The last couple of scenes we had highlighted Ian's first real encounter with Mutant Town violence, and Ciel sort of went 'oh, shit, I haven't been a very good friend because I've been super preoccupied' (something she will probably also do in her next scene because TWO MONTHS). She gets very caught up in drama and action, which she loves, but she feels like she should love doing something more like Ian - something steadfast and steady and consistently helpful. I think there's a bit of her JM/al-S issues in this.

So yes, she feels protective of Ian. He's doing this good, needed service, and he does it without complaint, with dedication - he does A LOT OF THINGS without complaint. And she knows that he's kept himself apart from the nastier side of Mutant Town. He doesn't press about where you got that knife cut or that black eye, he doesn't mess with the kids dealing drugs, he doesn't know the details of 18th Street. So she's sort of got this thing in her mind where Ian is pure and maybe a little noble and definitely naive and he shouldn't have to deal with this shit. Because he doesn't want to, and because he works hard, and because he's a good guy. She wants to protect that gentleness she sees in him. Possibly (probably) to an unhealthy degree, actually.

It would probably be pretty interesting to poke at this, come to think of it.

If Ciel could have a different power, what would it be?

Ciel really, really likes her powers, and I'm not sure she'd willingly give them up for something else, but if she could make a change, it'd be her speed and her reflexes. She'd like to be able to beat Jean-Paul in a mid-air sprint.

Talk to me about Ciel and Richie. How is she dealing with seeing him on the regular/working with him? Would it be different if he hadn't decided to bro pal/stan for/i'm not sure what verb to use here Ro?

Talk to me about Ciel and Richie. How is she dealing with seeing him on the regular/working with him? Would it be different if he hadn't decided to bro pal/stan for/i'm not sure what verb to use here Ro?

Most of our interaction has been in large groups where it's pretty easy for Ciel to just ignore Richie, which she is plenty comfortable doing. She is cool with just letting Richie hang out and pretend he's not fucking the boss and stuff in a different corner of the bar.

Every once in a while they get thrown together, though, and that's harder.

The issue here is that Richie is actually a really smart, capable, dedicated guy, the sort of guy Ciel has respect for and loves to work with. I mean, this is not surprisingly - she is a character who has a lot of Isabel in her, so.

There have been a few instances when they've both been in uber work mode (I think especially with the Ruskies, though I can't remember exact examples) where she's completely forgotten that she hates him and (BRIEFLY) really appreciated what he brought to the table. I'm pretty sure she had a scene with Kade where they talked about this, even - how much easier it was to just hate Richie before he was a real person with real skills and real feelings and stuff that didn't suck (AH HA I FOUND IT. 2046-01-18_Hangover).

I don't know how much Rohan plays into it. I feel like her issues with Rich are a lot bigger than Rohan, and although she doesn't agree with his assessment, she's kind of glad Rohan's at least building some friendships that don't rely on her. I don't think his picking on her for checking in really made things worse or anything.

What really does tick her off, though, is that Rich sometimes gives her attitude when she tries to be slightly less dick-ish. In Ciel's mind, any shit she's given Rich is well and truly deserved, and so any effort she makes to engage in any way beyond hating his guts is like. A big favor on her part. I mean, she's being a really big person, you know? And Rich for some reason doesn't seem to love that (and I suspect doesn't even recognize it, because Ciel's means of connecting often comes across as judgmental even when she doesn't mean to, because that's just how her brain works), and then she gets really pissed when he doesn't take her half-assed olive branch. So then she goes back to hating him.

At the end of the day, I don't think she honestly blames him for X-Factor's collapse. I think she knows, intellectually, that she's using him as a scapegoat because she needs somewhere to direct her rage. I think that she does blame him for opening that portal, but more in a-- like. 'You really fucked up' way than 'you directly killed all these people' way. If that makes sense? I'm not sure if it does, but. It's sort of the way she'd hold someone responsible if they really screwed up an important mission. This is a bit of a change since he's shown up on her doorstep, and she's seen a bit of his own guilt. I think there was a time when her blame was more direct. Kade's had something to do with her loosening up over this as well, because he's much more sort of forgiving about the whole thing. And also just because he's someone she can, and has, talked about the situation with, which I think has given her some of the closure she needed to move beyond just really hating on Richie.

Lexie and Ciel are interesting because they started as a definite big sister/little sister dynamic, what with Ciel being an adult and Lexie being a teen. And they still have that a bit, but it's definitely shifted to much more like peers. How has that shift been for Ciel? Is it ever tough to let Lexie do her own thing? Did she hit a point where she was like "shit this is weird, Lexie's an adult now"?

Lexie and Ciel are interesting because they started as a definite big sister/little sister dynamic, what with Ciel being an adult and Lexie being a teen. And they still have that a bit, but it's definitely shifted to much more like peers. How has that shift been for Ciel? Is it ever tough to let Lexie do her own thing? Did she hit a point where she was like "shit this is weird, Lexie's an adult now"?

I don't think it's been super weird. I mean, there was probably a little weirdness when she showed up in New York to crash into Lexie's life, and Ciel was the one who needed putting back together and Lexie was the one who had her ducks in a row. But there was a pretty significant gap between the big/little sister thing and that moment. We haven't really talked about it much, but I sort of presume that their families saw a lot of each other in these tiny little snapshots through much of her XF career. A cook-out here, a party there, family friends hanging out. Enough so that it was all 'Ciel's working for the government now' and 'Lexie's moving to New York', that sort of vague catch-up you do with grown-up cousins or something.

And then there was this giant gap where Ciel ran away from everyone and Lexie got her life together and started her own business and became this really competent person. So when Ciel showed up on Lexie's doorstep, I think that the roles were so thoroughly reversed for a while - Lexie was so firmly grounded and Ciel so very broken - that it eased that awkwardness and left room for them to build something new. It's definitely a peer relationship now, and a friend relationship, and one of the things I enjoy about them is that they're actually super different people (more different than I think we intended them to be - Ciel's Beaubier streak ended up being a lot stronger than her pseudo-Devi streak), but with a few things so in common that they work well together. They have this history, these shared family and friend ties, but also this fierce loyalty, this strong work ethic, and this dedication to being who the fuck they are, especially when it comes to mutations. Ciel's more serious than Lexie, and Lexie more outgoing than Ciel, but I think they balance and support each other in ways they might not have if they'd been as similar as I'd initially envisioned.

Anyway, because of the circumstances of Ciel's return to Lexie's life, I don't think she's really struggled to let Lexie do her own thing. She's very aware that she's sort of borrowing the life Lexie built for herself. There may be a few times when she thinks she can do an aspect of the job better, but that's more about XF training than older sister - and I think she also probably recognizes that Lexie's way better at the people stuff than she is. They have some really clear strength/weakness stuff that I think probably makes them really successful together.

  • Ciel is Judgy McJudgerson Judgeypants (you know she is). When it comes to some people, she seems to have a habit of fitting them into a certain definition, and dealing with them accordingly. Which people most surprise her by trying to wiggle out of her definition of what they are? Do you think she might relax in the future, or is she always going to be judgey? How does she judge herself or what box does she put herself into?
  • Oh, someone had to ask it. Go ahead and talk about Ciel and Rohan.

Oh, someone had to ask it. Go ahead and talk about Ciel and Rohan.

ASK ME A QUESTION and I will. I know I ramble but this is still way too broad man.

FINE MAKE ME THINK DAMN YOU

Some specific questions: You've talked a little about this in the past, but how did his leaving her in India affect her?

And, to flash forward, how is she feeling about him now? He's been trying--admittedly clumsily and a bit inconsistently--to establish some sort of friendship going forward; does she hoping for the same or would rather he just disappeared?

You've talked a little about this in the past, but how did his leaving her in India affect her?

Pretty much broke her in half. India was a wild, last-ditch effort to feel like she was still relevant, and her powers were still relevant, and she could do something. But it turned out that the things you do as a merc don't matter, except when they matter in a really bad way. Ciel had a very love/hate relationship with her job in India. She got this wild thrill from the action, and from being good at the action, and from working in a team that she knew and valued and who knew and valued her. Rohan was, near the end, the epitome of this. He knew what she could do, he trusted her, she trusted him. They'd saved each others' lives a few times. They had that foxhole bond.

So when he broke that, she lost that last little bit of glue that was holding things together. When that trust was broken, it became impossible to ignore all the other dirty things she didn't want to face. That they weren't really a team. That she wasn't doing good - and may be doing bad. That nothing she was doing mattered except to people making money. That the thrill wasn't enough anymore. He was her last lifeline, and vanishing sent her reeling. It wasn't even about the breaking of their relationship so much as it was about this last thing that made it impossible for her to pretend that this was anything like X-Force, that anything could be like X-Force, that she was doing something acceptable with her life. She spent three months trying to convince herself otherwise, but even if he'd come back, I'm not sure it would have worked. It'd already been broken, and I think she knew that she had to make a change.


And, to flash forward, how is she feeling about him now? He's been trying--admittedly clumsily and a bit inconsistently--to establish some sort of friendship going forward; does she hoping for the same or would rather he just disappeared?

She's feeling mostly okay. Better now that he's not trying to convince her she's his one true love. In many ways, I think her dating Kade was the best thing that could have happened to their relationship, because for a while he was honestly not just pissig her off, but freaking her out. His intensity was dialed up to 11, and he seemed unable to take a step back from that. Kade sort of forced that step back, and the breathing room it's given her has helped her remember that she did actually enjoy his company at one point.

I mean, it's still sort of complicated. There are still things that make her really, really angry. I don't know what she'd choose if she had two doors, one labeled 'friendship' and one labeled 'disappeared entirely'. But I do know that since he is here and is entwined in her life and her work and her friends, she'd rather be on friendly terms than not. She finds it hard to legitimately hate Rohan, even if she sometimes thinks she should. And she's coming to understand that his life was not as simple as he made it seem, just as hers wasn't, and that some parts sucked, and she feels sorry for him. She at least always had a place to run back to, a home that would take her. She's aware that she's lucky for that.

So. She's feeling mostly okay. For the moment.

Ciel is Judgy McJudgerson Judgeypants (you know she is). When it comes to some people, she seems to have a habit of fitting them into a certain definition, and dealing with them accordingly. Which people most surprise her by trying to wiggle out of her definition of what they are?

She is. She comes by it very honestly! Both her mom and her uncle were this way. Some of it's a Catholic thing, but a lot of it is just-- that's how they do the world. Boxes, superiority, labeling. Etc.

She's not completely inflexible, but it can be difficult to move out of the box she's assigned you. Sometimes this is good as well as bad - Kade, for example, benefits from the box she put him in very early on. And despite what he may think, so does Rohan, who was labeled 'a merc but not like all those other mercs'.

Rich is the obvious surprise - and of course he's a surprise because she knew him not one single iota before putting him in a box. Beyond that-- um. Honestly, Rohan has been a surprise, but in the unpleasant way. He was in a pretty positive box that turned extremely negative. He wiggled into 'I guess he really was like all those other mercs'. The fact that he started somewhere else is probably the reason that she cannot bring herself to cut him out of her life - or even want to - despite the fact that he legit freaked her out for a while with his intensity early on in his return.

I don't know that anyone else has wiggled out of a box. Sometimes her boxes shift shape a little, but that's not quite the same thing. A Beaubier's judgement is in fact sometimes very flexible in order to avoid ever admitting that it was wrong.

Do you think she might relax in the future, or is she always going to be judgey?

I will keel over in shock if she ever stops being judgemental. It is a fundamental character trait, and the one that is so deeply ingrained that it sort of overwrote some of the other ones I intended her to have (like 'outgoing' and 'friendly'. I know. But at least she's more viable than Via was!). It is basically the core of who she is, because of where she comes from, and who she comes from.

How does she judge herself or what box does she put herself into? She judges herself a LOT. I think her judgement of herself is more complicated than a box, because she judges her motivations as well as her actions, and she knows what she wants to be but not always what she is.

The box she wants to be in is superhero. I mean, straight up, Ciel wants to help save the world. Every ounce of her was built for this. Her mother preached it, her father preached it, and her uncle lived it. She spent her whole adult life doing work that she felt was, in fact, making the world a better place.

A huge part of Ciel's story revolves around the fact that she's been forced out of this box and she can't figure out how to get back into it. She has a lot of criticism for her choices after XF dissolved, from going to India in the first place to the work she did to the guy she slept with. Part of her feels like her box is now 'failure' and even 'sinner'. She hates that feeling. She runs from it. Also, 'pointless' and 'has-been'. Sometimes 'coward'.

This is why she's having more religious conflict than she has in a long time. It's the one box she knows she could actually tackle if she had the guts to. If she could really decide that she wanted to. But it's a whole mess of worms, and really, truly doing it would mean giving up some other things, and she isn't going there. Yet.

I am asking another question because the answer to Lexie's reminded me.

  • Do you consider Ciel an introvert or extrovert?

- Kade

Do you consider Ciel an introvert or extrovert?

Introvert who I totally meant to be an extrovert when I built her. Oops.

I actually think she's probably pretty borderline. She has no issues being social, and likes it on occasion, and can definitely be outgoing, but at the heart of it she's more the sort of girl who reacts to stress or wants to unwind by curling up with a book or a movie or work. She likes having a couple of people she can count on and who don't mind sharing space in silence. She especially likes working in the company of someone else also working doggedly. She likes having someone around to bounce stuff of off, but who understands the importance of shutting up sometimes.

How does Staten Island weigh on Ciel? She's talked a lot about the repercussions of the event rather than the event itself in terms of closing X-Factor but seems distanced from the event itself. Is there another event in her personal work history that was more of a struggle or simply more of a defining one?

What kind of music does Ciel like to listen to?

How does Ciel feel about the people she works with at X-Factor? Is there anyone that she didn't know before who stands out to her or who she'd be interested in working/training with?

She's pretty fascinated by powers/capabilities as a tactical character. If there was FANTASY MUTANT FOOTBALL/MISSION - who would she team up?

  • We've talked about this a little, ages ago, but how has Ciel changed since Staten Island? As a person, and in how she deals with other people? Has she gained anything positive over the years since, even if she's not entirely aware of it?
  • What were Mikhail's parents like? Does he ever think about trying to contact them, now that he's broken away from the mob?
  • Beyond his family, is there anything Mikhail misses about Russia? Culture, food, whatevs.

- Kade Player

What were Mikhail's parents like? Does he ever think about trying to contact them, now that he's broken away from the mob?

Busy and warm. They have five kids and a bakery, and a lot of Mikhail's later childhood is filled with memories of things like taking care of his younger siblings and helping out at the bakery by sweeping floors or restocking. His family was close, but in that super busy way large families often have, where everyone is always doing something and there's never enough attention to go around.

He does think about his family, but the matter is complicated by several things:

  • He's in the country illegally and shadily, and while he misses his family, he doesn't really want to go back to Russia. He's a little scared of rocking the boat when it comes to that.
  • It's been seven years. That isn't to say that Mikhail no longer misses them, but the ache isn't really raw anymore. His little brothers and sisters are all grown up. His family has surely moved on without him. Would he even fit with them anymore? They wouldn't know him, not really. He wouldn't know them. I think that a subconscious part of him needs to hold on to them as they were, for fear of losing even that part of himself.
  • He's been part of the mafia for seven years. No, he wasn't the guy shooting people or stealing things. But he was the guy making that possible. He was the guy who helped his tiny branch grow from nothing to something substantial enough to try to grab territory in the middle of Manhattan. He talks like he was a slave, and he was, but at the end of the day, he still feels responsible. He second guesses all the things he didn't do, or didn't know how to do, to stop it. There's a lot of guilt that's burrowed deep in his soul. If he contacted his family, he'd have to admit to what he's been all these years.
  • He talks about being confident in his escape from the mafia, but the truth is that he's still terrified (this is part of what his power exploration is about), and he knows that he's a prize big enough to cause trouble for. When he was taken the first time, before he even knew what he was, he was with his younger sister. It seems very likely that contact with his family could result in real trouble for them. They're within the reach of the larger organization in a way he's currently not.

Beyond his family, is there anything Mikhail misses about Russia? Culture, food, whatevs.

Sure. I mean, he misses the familiarity of the food, of conversations in his native language, of the shape and feel and smell of his old apartment. It's crazy what you can be nostalgic for.

He misses Vitaly. He misses the man himself - his only real company for several years - and the things they used to do together. They played a lot of games, talked about books, watched movies together. Mikhail had a more than little crush on him. He still does. He worries about him.

He misses the surety of knowing that everything around him in genuine and not a response of his powers, although his opinion on that is fast changing. He's starting to think genuineness is maybe overrated.

Mikhail has had a rough (if fascinating) life so far. Is there anything about normal(er) life in particular that catches him really off guard or he has trouble adjusting to?

If he could have any other power - what would it be?

Mikhail has had a rough (if fascinating) life so far. Is there anything about normal(er) life in particular that catches him really off guard or he has trouble adjusting to?

Yes, although I'll be honest, I'm often kind of terrible about playing them. Mikhail had a really weird life in that he was exposed to very, very few people, but a lot of media, which means he's 'seen' a lot of the outside world but experienced very little of it. He also was a prisoner, but a prisoner of value, which means that he was restricted in some ways an indulged in others.

So the things he struggles with: Crowds in which he's meant to be a person instead of a shadow (X-Factor gatherings are often overwhelming for him), people who don't react according to his expectations (born from both movies and his increasing experience with his persuasive power), his own emotions.

He's turning into quite the little mood-swinger, and part of that is, I think, about the fact that he's never had to deal with many of these emotions before - or if he did, they were smaller and simpler. He simply didn't have that many people in his life to get angry at, or frustrated with, or happy with, or to be attracted to, or do be disappointed in.

Sometimes the choices overwhelm him, too - places to go, things to do, food to eat - but mostly he just loves that aspect.

If he could have any other power - what would it be?

Telepathy, hands down. Although if he thought about it too much, I'm not sure he'd exchange luck for telepathy. Telepathy is more powerful in that it controls actual actions. But luck can influence a lot of things beyond people's intentional choices. But telepathy is one of the few things that makes him legitimately terrified in a guttural sense, so having the same weapon to slash back with would be awesome.

Why you so into Lexie, Mikhail?

Why you so into Lexie, Mikhail?

There are several factors at play here. The first is that she was one of the first people he saw after his escape, and she's a hot girl. That's kind of a great first impression.

She's also one of the very few people to directly offer him sympathy, or even talk about it at all. In their first meeting, she looked right at him and told him she was sorry that happened to him. I'm not sure anyone else has done that for him, and it struck a deep and lasting cord.

She also did a lot of just general-- like, if you reread that scene (This one!), you'll see all sorts of lifelines that she throws him. She tells him the things he made the mafia lucky for weren't his fault. She asks about his family. She asks him what he wants for himself.

All of these things stuck with him in a very real way. Most of the other people he's met have barely acknowledged his years as a prisoner, if they do at all. And most the time he'd rather that, because it's awkward and horrible, but there's something to be said for the one or two people who know something of that aspect of him. Lexie saw him early on, and she talked to him about it, and it created this sort of false intimacy and yearning in Mikhail.

And she's really hot, you know? And clearly into Russians, so.

Mikhail and telepaths. TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS. He's very reactive, yet there are ways in which his mutation manipulates other people that are not dissimilar from telepathy. Is he aware of that?

How does Mikhail feel about working with XFS?

Mikhail and telepaths. TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS. He's very reactive, yet there are ways in which his mutation manipulates other people that are not dissimilar from telepathy. Is he aware of that?

Mikhail's telepathy aversion comes from the fact that a telepath is the person who took him and controlled him, and thinking about this carefully, it seems to me that early on, Eva must have done some broad and sloppy complete rewriting of Mikhail's own desires. She's not a very good telepath and never had a teacher, which means that getting him to do what she wanted - or not do what she didn't want - was clumsy and heavy handed and probably really terrifying.

Later on, she stepped out of that role both because Vitaly came on board and because she no longer trusted her ability to consistently overpower Mikhail's unless she was always, constantly on watch.

Mikhail is terrified of telepathy because that, plus nullifiers, are basically the only mutations he can think of that sort of checkmate his own. Telepathy means loss of control and loss of self and loss of autonomy.

The similarity is not lost on ME. There is definitely an element of becoming the thing you fear in Mikhail's journey. The combination of terror and sudden freedom and lots of power is a very heady thing, and Mikhail is young and has been repressed for much of his life.

As for Mikhail, I think he'd argue harder. He's aware that aspects are the same - he wrote about it some in his last journal - but he's pretty sure he can't make someone do something they absolutely don't want to do. Although now that I type that, I think he goes back and forth depending on what he wants. For example, he wants Lexie to want to kiss him, and so he angsts about it. But he doesn't care whether Luka wants to help him or not, so no angst.

But anyway, tipping someone toward something they're kinda inclined toward anyway isn't nearly as evil as completely rewriting their desires, or shutting down something they're trying or thinking. He doesn't create things, he just makes them more likely. Totally different.

Telepaths are definitely the worst.

How does Mikhail feel about working with XFS?

He barely does, to be honest. He makes most of his money these days through nefarious means (by which I mean gambling) and a little through bussing tables. He does just enough for XFS to stay on the payroll because XFS makes him feel safe, and they're the only people he really knows, and after so long with only a few people in his life, he feels clingy. So he hangs out at the office a lot more than he actually does jobs - it feels like a place he can maybe be safe and comfortable.

He needs what familiarity they provide, especially people like Kade and Lexie. Even at XFS, he often feels like an overwhelmed outsider, but at least they're a fairly small group who kind of know where he came from.

He has no particular feelings on what XFS does - he spent half of his life in such a bubble that he's kind of outside this 'use or do not use your mutation' debate. It just doesn't resonate with him. But he likes the people, and he is grateful to the people, and he likes that many of them seem to be, y'know, less terrible than the Russian mob, what with taking them down and all.

What does Mikhail find most interesting or enjoyable about his new life? (LOOK A HAPPY QUESTION.)

What does Mikhail find most interesting or enjoyable about his new life? (LOOK A HAPPY QUESTION.)

I feel like maybe 'freedom' is a too-easy answer, but in many ways, it's the only right one. Mikhail enjoys being able to wake up in the morning and leave his apartment. He enjoys deciding whether to turn left or right. Whether to have pizza or hotdogs. Whether to see a movie or go to the park. Whether to speak to someone or make them ignore him.

He enjoys choices.

He enjoys having things to choose from. He enjoys variety, in food, in entertainment, in people. He enjoys new experiences.

He also enjoys power - the power that comes with being able to choose, when you almost always get the thing you choose. Probably a little too much. Maybe a lot too much.

What did Mikhail occupy himself with while in the Russian's captivity? That kind of experience of being kept in a single place can breed interesting hobbies.

The whole world is open to Mikhail now - does he have any idea's what he'd like to do with his new found freedom? There's been a sense in some of the recent scenes of him playing with his newfound power.

What do you think he might have gravitated towards if the Russian's hadn't taken him?

Unrelated sidenote: We should scene him and Ian together again. Their first encounter was really interesting and basically left Ian worried about the kid. What did Mikhail think of the random act of kindness?

So Lexie and Maxim seem to have fallen hard. How typical is this for Lexie? If it's not, what's different about this time?

Lexie's kind of a wild child, but at the same time, she's built up this company that does pretty okay for itself. How do these two sides of her mesh, or conflict?

If Lexie could change one thing about her roomie, what would it be?

So Lexie and Maxim seem to have fallen hard. How typical is this for Lexie? If it's not, what's different about this time?

I think -- yes and no? Hah hah that's contradictory. I think that Lexie throws herself into things, and she's been burned by it before. Which isn't to say that she's stopped, because she's Lexie and she's still stubborn and brash and fuck broken hearts the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. (Her dad would be horrified.) I've name-dropped shitty exes in scenes -- with you, actually! -- kind of at random to try and indicate that Lexie is someone who has ended up in shitty relationships because of how hard and fast and hot she tends to do things.

So yeah, I think it's typical in one way. But what's different is this: Maxim.

Lexie tends to go in fast and hard with other people who also do fast and hard. Maxim, while having fallen very hard, isn't really the same. There's something a lot more steady and deliberate about him in general. And there's a devotion that she finds entirely disarming and also totally terrifying. In some ways, Lexie is not really sure what to do with Maxim. Part of her thinks she's gotten in over her head, because oh my god he said he loves her and she doesn't know what to do with that. Because Lexie rushes into things, but I don't know if she loves so immediately. She lusts fast and hard, and she certainly likes fiercely and loyally (cough cough) and protectively. I think she's probably poly at heart and that's going to be a thing, and I think part of her maybe knows that. But she already dove in headfirst, which maybe wasn't the wisest, and it's hard to backpedal. It's hard to look at someone who is saying that you're their world and say 'but what if my world had more than one person.'

We'll see.

What are all the kinds of vehicles that Lexie can drive having grown up with a mechanic dad? What's her favorite? (Besides her baby).

Lexie is this mix of very brash and incredibly focused and thoughtful. Where does that come from? It's a very unique kind of personality and I wonder which side is more sincerely her. Or is it both?

If Lexie could get away with ONE CRIME what would it be?

What are all the kinds of vehicles that Lexie can drive having grown up with a mechanic dad? What's her favorite? (Besides her baby).

ALL THE KINDS. Like, I'm sure she's driven a ton of different stuff. As far as her favorite BESIDES HER BABIES, I think probably there's a super awesome bike that's gone through the shop that she probably loved a lot. She likes motorcycles a lot. But really, anything with an engine that roars. I don't know enough about cars. I do think she likes more of the vintage muscle cars rather than sleeker sports cars (like Lamborghinis).

Lexie is this mix of very brash and incredibly focused and thoughtful. Where does that come from? It's a very unique kind of personality and I wonder which side is more sincerely her. Or is it both?

I have actually considered many times that Lexie might have medicated ADHD; maybe I should really sit down and look into it and commit to it. She has this sort of explosive energy sometimes that I think has probably caused issue at various points in her life. She has a real drive and creativity and ability to make connections that is of real professional benefit to her, but it also means she sometimes has to struggle to focus.

I don't think either side of the "real" her. The focus and thoughtfulness isn't a part of a mask, although sometimes they may require her to exert a little self-control and kind of direct herself rather consciously where she needs to go. But it's not fake.

If Lexie could get away with ONE CRIME what would it be?

Oh man, I don't know. Criminal mischief because it has the best name? (Sao told me that's vandalism-type things.) Stealing something big from rich assholes?

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