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2046-10-19 Patterns of Behavior

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Patterns of Behavior
Date Posted 2016/10/19
Location East River Promenade - Mutant Town
Participants Valerie, Richard
Summary Valerie and Richard talk about their (Richard's) history and current situation.
 
ValMorning.jpg Riquiet.jpg
Although Valerie generally likes to make things /look/ effortless, her ability to wear skintight and otherwise revealing clothing does not, in fact, come without effort. The Promenade is an excellent location for a run, with a long, winding path that follows the curve of the river. She's been here long enough to work up a sweat - not that you can tell, because the last five minutes have turned the threat of rain into reality. It's not hard enough to provide an actual soaking - yet - but it's enough to send most pedestrians reaching for their umbrellas or their hoods.

It's rather difficult to avoid the rain when you're literally flying. It's hardly the first time Richard's been caught in the rain, however, and he's clearly been through worse. He spots Valerie more by accident than anything else, and after a moment's (damp) consideration, he drops down from the sky overhead. He doesn't drop to the ground, but rather flips upside down and appears at her side, keeping pace with her job in a smooth glide (until he runs into something because he's not looking where he's going). His shirt ends up slipping down his abdomen a bit because of -- well, gravity. "Hi," he says, like none of this is weird at all.

Valerie nearly stumbles at Rich's appearance, and it takes her a moment to find her footing and a steady pace again. Maybe it's the surprise. Maybe it's the slip of his shirt across his smoothly muscled stomach, an event that claims more than a little of her attention. Her gaze drifts unashamedly downward, settling nowhere near his eyes as might be polite as her lips curve into an inevitably flirtatious smile. "Hey there, sugar," she says. "Enjoying yourself?" She has plenty of skin on display as well, from the tight shorts she's still wearing despite the cooling weather to the tight cling of her shirt, damp from sweat and rain.

From Richard's grin, it's clear that her near-stumble is at least mildly gratifying. "Well, it's kind of wet out," he answers her. "I don't know if you noticed. It's not actually my favorite, unless I'm flying high enough to avoid it. Sometimes it looks pretty cool close up, though." His gaze mostly manages to stay steady on her face. He has more restraint than she does; that is to say, he puts effort into restraint while she ogles him.

Valerie drags her gaze upward in a lazy, appreciative trail to meet his grin with one of her own. "And today?" she asks, slowing her pace to better converse as she settles into a lazy jog. "How's the view?" From the smirk that curves on her lips, there is no chance at all that the double entendre was unintended.

"Well, if it starts really storming I might be able to go up and see the lightning brewing in the clouds," Richard says, like he's never heard of a double entendre. "Unless you're fishing for compliments." Okay maybe he has heard of a double entendre.

"Me?" Valerie says, arching her brows in faux innocence. "From you? Never, sweet thing. I wouldn't want to stretch you too far." Her grin reappears, and her steps slow further still until she's walking. The rain is picking up, but it's still largely light enough to ignore. "I know you're delicate like that."

"/Delicate/." Richard frowns at her. It doesn't look as frownish upside-down, and maybe that's why he finally flips around. He still doesn't touch down, though; it takes less effort to keep pace with her this way. "I'm not delicate."

"No?" Valerie's smile is easy and loose as she says, "Well. I'm thrilled to hear that, Rich. Does that mean you've flexed a little since we last talked?" She shoots him a sidelong glance, a quick, darting thing that weighs him up quickly over that settled smile.

"That has nothing to do with delicacy," Richard argues, frowning faintly. "I'm not delicate for spending most of my life in monogamous relationships. Or for not necessarily wanting to be intimate with the same people my friend has."

"Easy, tiger," Valerie says, lifting a hand with fingers spread as she answers his frown with a smile. "Just asking. I thought maybe you're gone experimenting. Gotten a little adventurous. That's all." She pauses, sweeping a hand back across her forehead and the pull of her ponytail to clear her vision of raindrops. "Are you afraid Rohan has cooties? Because that's what they make condoms and blood tests for."

"I feel like you're kind of trying to shame me into sleeping with you," Richard says, voice dry. He snorts lightly at the question. "No, I'm not worried about cooties. It's just a guy thing. Maybe I'm old-fashioned; I /was/ born in 1982."

"You make a girl feel desperate," Valerie returns, shameless and with an easy shrug. She tilts her head at him, considering this tidbit of information and the context it provides. She may have picked up on it before, in those long weeks in another universe, but that's different from facing it head on. Her feet come to a halt as she turns toward him, and for a moment there's a flicker of clear, uncharacteristic discomfort in her features as she turns it over in her head. "Shit," she says eventually. "You had the same childhood as my mom."

It's at this point that Richard's feet finally settle on solid ground. (It's not as appealing for him as it for some others.) "Probably," he says, his crooked smile a bit rueful. "I'm generally more of an age of the older generation. The girl I broke up with right before I disappeared is in her fifties now." He pauses a beat, then adds, "To be clear, she was younger than me before I left."

"Damn," Valerie says, and there's that edge of discomfort again, a dark flash in the depths of her eyes that she tries to hide with the quick curve of a smile. Her gaze drags down to mark his planted feet, then back up again, buying her another moment. She clears her throat. "Anyway," she says, light. "I didn't absolutely mean /me/ - not that I'd object if you change your mind, you know. Or want to come play with the both of us." She punctuates the inevitable invitation with a broader, easier smile, then finishes, "I was talking adventure in /general/. Stretching yourself."

Richard seems to catch that discomfort with the close study of his gaze; he doesn't exactly look surprised by it. He looks a little resigned. "Do you go around asking everyone about their sex life?" he asks with the mildest of teases.

"Only people I like, sugar," Valerie tells Richard shamelessly. She glances upward toward, squinting briefly into rain, wiping at her face again. When her gaze drops back to Richard, her smile is a little rueful. "I just don't want to see you end up twisting in the wind, all knotted up inside. Maybe a little shameless prodding from another party is just the push you need, hm?"

Richard's smile fades a bit into discomfort. "It's not really like that," he says a bit quieter. "Jeremy and I function pretty differently here, and we're just trying to figure out how to find the common ground. I'm not -- knotted and repressed."

"I didn't say repressed," Valerie points out with a quick grin. "J definitely doesn't give me the impression that he'd let you get /repressed/." Her smile warms, drawing into something openly salacious for a beat. "Not him." The rain is coming down harder now, and Valerie tents a hand over her eyes to shield them a little. "So you haven't hit on that common ground yet?"

The hint of discomfort eases with her easy, quick humor. "He doesn't," Richard replies to her with mild reassurance. "Or, you know, I'm actually the younger man here." The curve of his smile is faint. "Well. I mean. We've talked a bit about -- uh. You know, inviting -- um. A third." Baby steps?

"Yeah?" Valerie looks honestly surprised here, though the expression shifts swiftly to encouragement. "/That/ sounds fun. How's the search going?"

"I don't know that it's that /formalized/," Richard says with a quiet, but warm-humored, snort. He pauses a beat, considering, and then opens up enough to share, "You know, that's how I figured out I was bisexual."

"Yeah?" Valerie's eyes light with quick interest as she pries shamelessly, "Hot threesome?"

"It was pretty hot," Richard says, not quite as shameless. "Uh. The girl I was casually seeing was trying to convince me I was in love with my best friend."

Valerie's brows flick upward at this, and for a moment she falls silent as she watches him. There's a relatively long pause (for Valerie), before she says, "And...?"

"I was /super/ in love with my best friend," Richard reports.

"Damn," Valerie exhales, her breath an unsteady laugh. "Well." There's another pause, spent watching Richard, before she finds an easier smile to crack, with a wink, "I see why you're afraid of my bed, sugar. I wouldn't want to accidentally fall in love with me either."

"No offense intended," Richard says with solemn humor, "but I feel pretty safe there. It's not like it was the sex that made me fall in love with the guy."

"You're killing me, Rich," Valerie says with an exaggerated sigh, hand tented over her eyes again. "Let a girl keep a little confidence, huh?"

Richard actually laughs, almost surprising himself a little. "Jeez. Are you saying that I can't doubt I'll spontaneously fall in love with you after sleeping with you without it being an insult?"

"Well when you put it /that/ way," Valerie answers, looking briefly, unconvincingly put out before she grins and waves her hand. "I'm getting wet," she says, which is not a double entendre at all. "You wanna get a drink or something?"

For a moment, Richard blinks at her, like he /definitely/ thinks that a double entendre is happening. And then he gets it. "Oh. Sure, I could go for a beer."

"Coffee?" Valerie counters, though not without a twitch of her lips and the inevitable addition of, "I mean, unless you /want/ to get me drunk..."

"Oh my God." Richard rolls his eyes dramatically. "Yes. I am totally trying to get you drunk. I'm worried you won't like me otherwise." He blinks those soft brown eyes at her. "I kind of feel like you're not that into me."

"Oh, shit," Valerie says, her eyes (blue) widening in answer to Richard. "/That/ won't do." She takes a step toward him, invading all kinds of personal space without quite, /quite/ touching him. She lifts onto her toes, her hand coming to hover at his arm without actually settling against the curve of his bicep. Even in the open, she's close enough for the warmth of her skin to radiate between them. "Rich," she says lowly. Her voice is a murmur, pitched for his ears only. "Trust me. You say the word and I will ride you until you can't think straight. I will learn every inch of your incredible body until I know exactly how to make fireworks explode behind your eyes. And then I will do it over. And over. And over again." She rocks backward, dropping down again with a looser smile as she adds, "Don't forget it."

There's a very, very long moment where Richard doesn't say anything. He opens his mouth like he's going to speak, and then he closes it again. He swallows. "Um," he finally says, voice a bit weak. And then: "Okay. I -- won't. Um. Forget -- that."

Now Valerie touches him, letting her hand fall briefly to his arm for a squeeze that slips away a moment later. "I also know how to take a 'no'," she says, and her smile trends toward a smirk as she turns with a jerk of her head toward a coffee shop currently overflowing with patrons taking a break from the rain. "I'm in the mood for something hot," she says. Ahem.

"Sure," Richard says, clearing his throat. He trails after her, pulling his phone out and discreetly texting as he follows in the direction of the coffee shop. "Uh. I like -- coffee."

{Richard} valerie is killing me j

{Jeremy} Uh oh.

Valerie casts a brief glance at Richie over her shoulder, and her brows sweep upward before she settles into an easy pace, leading him across the street and into the coffee shop. It's loud and crowded, making it difficult to talk until they both have warm beverages in their hands and have leveraged out a small table for two near the back of the shop. Valerie's wet enough that she's leaving little trails of dripped rain water in her wake, and her first sip of her mocha is met with an answering shiver against the chill.

{Jeremy} Do you want me to tell you to, quick, think of baseball players??

{Richard} are you saying there aren't hot baseball players??

Oh, good. That gives Richard time to TOTALLY DISCREETLY text on his phone. His own order is a simple coffee, and his fingers do curl around it with some satisfaction for the warmth as they try to squeeze out their table.

{Jeremy} Okay, bad example

{Richard} something less hot plz

{Jeremy} Math! Insurance policy! Crumbs in the bed!

{Jeremy} If you were having this problem with literally any other woman I'd be asking if you wanted me to slide down the fireman's pole and head over or what.

Valerie leans into the table, her hands cupping her mocha as she watches Rich across it. She gives him another moment or two of silence (TOTALLY DISCREETLY) before she says, "So why's it not formalized. If you've done it before and liked it?"

Richard laughs at something on his phone before he can stifle it, and there's apology in his glance when he lifts his gaze and slides his phone back into his pocket. "Sorry. What's not formalized?"

Valerie lifts her brows, her gaze falling a little pointedly on his phone before she says, "The lucky third. The filling to your Richard/Jeremy sandwich."

"Oh my God." Richard scrubs his face, laughing weakly. "Well, I mean. The last time this happened, I wasn't -- like, I wasn't /dating/ someone, you know? Me and Gamora, we were just -- having fun, I guess. I dunno, it's hard to get anything resembling serious with her. Sure, it started something serious with Peter, but -- I dunno, it's just different. I don't really know how you formalize something like that, though. Like. We just haven't -- done it."

{Richard} lol thanks

{Richard} right?? it's pretty frustrating

{Jeremy} I'll take care of you when you get home, rocket man.

"Oh, /logistics/," Valerie says, grinning at the scrub of Richard's hand. She pauses, lifting her mug for a careful sip as she watches him through the steam. "Well, I can help you with those, sugar." She pauses, then clarifies, "I mean, beyond volunteering. If you want."

{Jeremy} I was going to say something else but then I remembered I'm supposed to be helping you not be turned on.

Richard nearly chokes on his coffee. "Sorry," he says, wheezing. "Are you trying to say you'll /scrounge up a third/ or something?"

"Sure," Valerie says, her shrug easy and her smile a little wickedly pleased for Richard's wheeze. "Or, I mean. There are questions, you know? Like. Do you want a stranger? Are you into a friend, if they're into it? Guy or girl?" She leans forward toward Richard over the table, a position that gives him a rather good view of what cleavage she has. "What do you /want/, Rich? That's where you start."

{Jeremy} sad puppies. scary clowns. Um ... soggy breakfast cereal? Is this helping?

"I--" Richard looks -- not quite /panicked/, but something perhaps a bit younger than that. It might grow up into panic. "I don't know. I want my boyfriend."

Valerie straightens, and for a moment she looks baffled. And then she looks sympathetic. It sits a little oddly on her features, uncomfortable and unfamiliar. "Rich," she starts, but she doesn't seem to quite know where to go from there, and she lapses into silence as she watches him across the table.

Richard falls into silence himself, and there's clear regret in his expression as his gaze flits away from her. He sits closed and tense in his seat, lifting his coffee stiffly to sip.

"Shit," Valerie says, looking away as Richard does. She drags a hand across her face, then lowers it back to her mug in a too-tight grip. Eventually she says, "I don't have any advice for the parts that aren't like. Actually /having/ a threesome." She pauses, an uncomfortable silence that she breaks before it can stretch too long. "I mean. Shit. Sorry. I thought you were into it."

"I'm into it!" Richard says just a /touch/ defensively. "I mean. I'm not /not/ into it. Look, it's not like I'm not into you, you're obviously ridiculously hot and also pretty openly into me. I'm not trying to say I'm never attracted to anybody else." He takes a slow breath. "But it's a step, right? It's not just a threesome, it's a threesome as this -- baby step to polyamory or whatever. And I don't want to keep him from that, or -- force him into some life that's not who he is. But--"

"Pretty sure I was already off the table," Valerie reminds, her voice quietly rueful as she gives Rich a quick up-down flick of her eyes, taking in what she's missing. She pauses, lifting her mug to her lips. "But?"

"I know, I'm just -- trying to say I'm not somehow /magically unaffected/ just because I'm in love with him," Richard says, slouching in his seat. "But just because sometimes my hormones would be into it doesn't mean I really /want/ to be sleeping with other people."

"I'm trying real hard to picture what that must be like," Valerie says with a quick huff of quiet laughter.

Richard snorts a groaning sort of laugh. "Well. I don't know. Have you ever been in love?" After a beat, he says, "Not that -- you couldn't be in love and still want that. I guess. That's kind of Jeremy's whole point."

"No," Valerie supplies anyway, her answer short and raw and cut off behind another lift of her mug. When she lowers it, she's regained a bit of lost composure. "But I do believe that you should only do shit you want to do. Like. As a general life rule."

"Maybe. But you probably also shouldn't be with someone who doesn't let you be the most honest version of yourself," Richard says quietly.

"You know, he can be the third in someone else's sandwich," Valerie points out, her gaze unusually sharp on Richard as she watches him over the table. "You don't have to play if you're not into it."

"Yes, why aren't I thrilled at the idea of my boyfriend sleeping with other people," Richard says, dry as a desert.

"Because you're confusing sex with other shit," Valerie tells Richard with a tap of her fingers against the table. "Same reason you won't take me home and fuck me senseless, really." There's her smile again, swift and suggestive, before it's something else. "I don't know what to tell you. I mean. If it comes down to 'he wants to sleep with other people' and 'I don't want him to sleep with other people'..." She spreads her hand, open-palmed, and shrugs.

"Don't patronize me," Richard says a little sharply. "The fact that sex means something different to me than it does to you doesn't mean I'm confused." He pulls his gaze away, having no good answer for the rest of it.

Valerie's brows lift at his snap, and she falls silent in the wake of it, letting him have the point while she nurses her coffee carefully. She's silent for a rather long moment, and her gaze wanders the crowded coffee shop before drawing eventually back to Richard. When she speaks again, her voice is lower. Quieter. "So-- what," she says, careful. "Sex means love? Like? How's it different?"

"/No/, it just--" Richard reels back on his temper in response to her silence and quiet. Acknowledging it, respecting it. He takes a breath. "I've had sex with people I'm not in love with. But it's still -- it's /intimate/. It's personal. It's sharing something of yourself, even if you barely know the person. And it's a part of myself that feels like it shouldn't get shared when I'm -- committed to someone."

"We've already covered the 'so don't' portion of this," Valerie says, still careful and quiet. "So I'm guessing what you really mean is that it feels like it shouldn't get shared when /he's/ committed to /you/." She pauses there, watching him for his reaction with her mug hovering between them.

Richard looks down at the coffee on the table. He swallows.

"That's fucked," Valerie says, but the twist of her voice is sympathetic and her expression is quiet. "I mean. I can give you a pep talk if it'd help. Sharing, not sharing, blah blah blah. I kind of get the feeling that you won't buy it, though."

"I don't know what to do," Richard admits quietly. "It's not like--" He hesitates a long moment. "We started casual, you know. Because -- I was still in love with this guy. My best friend, back in space. I got back, he didn't. And I waited. And then it was years later, and I didn't know if he was alive or dead over there, and I was still in love with him. And so we were -- casual. I told him I didn't have any more heart to give him. And then I fell in love with him anyways." He inhales slowly. "So it's not even as if I don't understand a person could love two people at the same time. I don't know what's wrong with me."

"Well," Valerie says with a darkly sardonic smile. "Hell if I'm going to be any use with /that/. You've already bitched at me for calling you confused." She lifts her mug in lazy toast toward him, then sips. There's a heavy pause before she says, "So-- you've ended up in love with two of the guys you had casual sex with?"

Richard opens his mouth immediately to argue. Then he snaps it shut. Then his brow furrows. "Okay, it's not -- you're making it sound totally different than what actually happened--"

"What, the bitching or the bit about love?" Valerie checks, blue eyes wide with question.

"The love," Richard replies irritably. "Again, I wasn't magically falling into /instant love/ with anybody because of sex."

"Good grief, I didn't say you /were/," Valerie tells Richard with a flicker of hard annoyance. "I was just checking my facts. Sequence, not /cause/, okay, sugar?" She lays a hand open on the table, palm upward. "Sex," she says. "And then love. Correct order of events?"

Richard frowns at her annoyance, trying to contain the instinct to bristle. "No," he says, managing to sound civil, though. "Well, for Jeremy, yes. For Peter -- it became pretty clear that I'd been in love with him for a while. I just didn't really -- know it."

"Uh huh," Valerie says. She falls silent for a moment, watching him with a tilt of her head and a close study clearly marked by hesitation.

Richard takes a breath and exhales slowly, shoulders relaxing an inch. "So, yes, I guess you could say that sex was at least a -- part of that process. For both of them."

"I wouldn't dare to suggest that you are /confused/," Valerie says, with more than a little measured snark as Richard's shoulders relax. "But I kind of wonder if maybe you aren't a /little/ worried about the... pattern."

Richard draws his thumb in a slow scratch along his jaw. He frowns, a touch skeptical, than less so. His finger taps against the rim of his coffee cup.

Valerie waits patiently, lifting her cup once more. She frowns to find it empty, then lowers it back to the table.

"I /have/ managed to have sex with people and not fall in love with them," Richard reasons after that long silence. "/Multiple/ times."

"I didn't necessarily mean that you were worried about /you/, sugar," Valerie clarifies. Lacking coffee to sip, she instead trails her finger around the mug's rim, playing. "But you /have/ exhibited this tendency to project-- confusion. On other people's sex lives."

"Hey." Richard levels a look on her. "I don't have any tendencies here. You freaked out that time, and it wasn't cool."

"You've thrown up a wall, like you'd be stealing territory that belongs to /him/," Valerie counters. She leans forward across the table, her blue eyes suddenly fierce with challenge and her palms pressed flat against the smooth surface. Her voice is low and twisted with dark passion. "Which is so much fucking bullshit. You can sit here and tell me whatever you want, but you've got a hang-up /somewhere/, Rich, and you /are/ tangled up in knots."

"Dude, I might have hang-ups, but so do you," Richard says, brows arching. "You can't deal with the idea of someone just not wanting to overlap with their friend's sex life. You don't belong to him, I just don't want to go there. You wanna run free, be my guest. But you're got your own whole set of issues here."

"You're right," Valerie says, but it comes with a swiftness and an unpleasant twisting smile that suggests she doesn't actually mean 'you're right'. "I've always been a sore loser. I like getting what I want." She draws back into her seat, palms scraping along the table. There's a beat of silence, and she clearly spends it collecting herself. When she speaks again, it's with a lazy, too-big shrug. "You want to drop it, we'll drop it. I mean. It's not /my/ problem.

"You're right," Valerie says, but it comes with a swiftness and an unpleasant twisting smile that suggests she doesn't actually mean 'you're right'. "I've always been a sore loser. I like getting what I want." She draws back into her seat, palms scraping along the table. There's a beat of silence, and she clearly spends it collecting herself. When she speaks again, it's with a lazy, too-big shrug. "You want to drop it, we'll drop it. I mean. It's not /my/ problem."

Richard's mouth twitches. It's clear he's tempted to dig in further, to win some sort of fight, to top out the debate. But eventually he just says in a mild voice, "Sure. We can pick a new, exciting topic." Maybe they can talk about the weather.

For a moment, Valerie looks first startled and then a little lost at Richard's offer. What /does/ one talk about when flirtation is offer the table? It takes her a moment to lean back in her chair, studying him, and finally ask, "So what /does/ rain look like from above?"

Richard looks briefly surprised at her response. And then his expression softens a bit. "Well," he starts, "when you're up close, it kind of looks like sheets..." He goes on to describe the scene with the sort of experience that only comes from someone who's been able to truly be up close and personal. No plane fuselage in between, no glass. Just open air. It's vivid.

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