Log Title: Ghosts of Fishes Past
Summary: Winter and Royal spend a quiet moment in VR.
IC Date: Mon Apr 01 19:53, 2381
OOC Date: Mon Apr 01 19:53, 2019
Related Logs: None
royalwinter

 

 

"But it's more that there's a pattern to the types of people that endure in popular culture."

* OOC Time: Mon Apr 01 17:53:31 2019 *

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Royal > Don't suppose you feel like keeping me company in virtual?

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Winter > I'm already there, as it happens. Everything all right?

* * *

Royal > Yes. Mick's just…hovering. I could use a breather.

* * *

Winter > I really do have to meet this fellow. Come on over.
Attached to the message is an address for an active VR setting.

* * *

Royal > Oh, you will. One way or another.

It's not long at all before he enters the VR environment, to the address given to him.

* * *

It's another one of those wide expanses Winter seems to favor, though this time it's a road out in the desert, with dry red dirt on either side and craggy red rock structures rising in the distance. The sun has very nearly set and the only sign of life (beyond some blooming cacti and the occasional bold lizard) is a car stopped in the road with a figure lying on top of the hood with hands tucked behind their head. They're a young man in perhaps late twenties with light brown hair, hazel eyes, taller and lean. They're in faded jeans and a fitted black t-shirt. Their facial features are unremarkable, at least until they glance over at Royal and smile. Then something about the expression makes them rather lovely.

"Hi there. Good timing. The show's about to start."

* * *

Likely unsurprisingly, Royal doesn't come dressed for the environment. And he hasn't yet gotten the hang of shifting his clothing easily. So the figure that approaches Winter is clad in a mustard-coloured three piece suit. The pocket square is a teal and white one from the bouquet. He approaches and smiles, hands in his pockets. "This is all very James Dean. Do you know who he was?" He looks up at the horizon, then back. "And what kind of show are we in for tonight?"

* * *

"I know him," Winter agrees, shifting a little to the side so there's room on the car hood. "For as few films as he was actually in, it's always fascinated me that he's persisted as such a legend. I guess potential, snuffed out early, makes us all regretful and nostalgic." They quirk a softer smile. "Nice suit." As for the show, Winter glances back up at the sky. "A fantastical one."

* * *

"The patterns of nostalgia was the theme of my undergraduate honours thesis. About who persists and why. And about how we can't seem to let go of some legends, no matter how far in the past they go." Royal looks at the car hood, then chuckles at himself and slides up onto it. "For a moment, I was actually worried about the fabric of my suit. A suit that is absolutely safe on my body, in my flat."

* * *

"That means I've done a good job," Winter replies. "Patterns of nostalgia," they repeat thoughtfully. "Are there a lot of them or only a few?" The sun sinks below the horizon, leaving a sky painted with pinks and violets fading into indigo with pinpoint stars. As the darkness deepens, shapes begin to appear in the sky and the air above them. Glowing, slightly translucent creatures that look like ancient fish and other sea beasties, gliding through the air as if it was water.

* * *

"Not too many that endure the ages. More since the dawn of film. It's easier to keep a legend alive if you can see them walking and talking. But it's more that there's a pattern to the types of people that endure in popular culture." Royal is about to say something else when the show begins. "….is this…based on something real, or is it purely imaginary?" he murmurs.

* * *

"A combination, I guess," Winter replies. "These deserts, some of them used to be ocean basins during prehistoric times. And I wondered what it would look like, if ancient creatures swam through the modern landscapes. Like… ghosts, I guess. Of species past. What are the type of people that endure?"

* * *

Royal looks at Winter, smiles, then reaches for their hand. He does what he's done before and sandwiches his around theirs. "You have a beautiful mind," he says, kissing the fingers before he holds with just one and looks up at the ghostly creatures. "Charismatic ones. Similar to the way that certain prehistoric beasties might endure in memory. It's the strange fish or the giant sea mammals that get made into children's toys."

* * *

Winter huffs a soft laugh for that as their hand gets sandwiched. "Some parts," they allow, shifting to rest their head on Royal's shoulder. "So, the exceptions persist. I suppose it makes sense, they're the ones that resonate." In the sky, jellyfish pulse through the air, and schools of small fish dart around them. An enormous liopleurodon glides at a slow pace that suggests it knows just how large and unlikely to be hunted it is. Near the ground, at the level of the car tires, trilobites and other long-extinct crustaceans swim and scuttle.

* * *

"You know, I considered paleontology for a time. Fossil patterns. Knowing which bone would go where." Royal taps his temple. "But the patterns of culture are infinitely more interesting than a prehistoric jigsaw puzzle." He watches the creatures with a soft smile on his face.

* * *

"Putting them together is the first step," Winter murmurs, "the real work is in all the empty spaces. Muscles, nerves, skin, drives. What did they really look like? What did they eat, what ate them? It's not just a jigsaw puzzle, it's building a whole era with only ten percent of the pieces."

* * *

"Yes, and some of those questions are fundamentally unanswerable. And…I don't do well when the pattern stymies me." Royal exhales and stares upwards. "A science like paleontology requires a certain amount of comfort with ambiguity and a lack of control."

* * *

"Which aren't really your strong points," Winter allows with a faint smile. "I guess most PI's aren't really the sort to 'embrace the mystery'."

* * *

"Embrace the fact that there is a mystery, perhaps. Then work on solving it." Royal rests their held hands on his own chest. It's odd - he doesn't really seem like the hand-holding type, but he's been doing it rather a lot.

* * *

Winter's certainly not complaining. Or pointing it out. "But not just… enjoying the unknown. I think I do, a little bit. Or, at least, I don't mind it. Though there are certain mysteries I'd like to solve."

* * *

"You are a more creative person than I, Winter. Most certainly so…" Royal looks up at the creatures, then over at their current form. "All the different people you are in here. I don't think I could imagine them as fluidly as you do. Do you return to many of them, other than the one that echoes your birth sleeve?"

* * *

"Sometimes," Winter says after a moment of consideration. "It's not exactly like a wardrobe, but I guess there are some faces and figures that I come back to. I do tend to trend towards whichever sex my sleeve isn't, while in VR. And, I mean, I've had a lifetime of practice. I don't think it's so impressive. Just atypical."

* * *

"I did notice you seemed to favour male sleeves. But the amount of times we've been in here together was a comparatively small sample size, so I wasn't sure whether that was coincidence." Royal chuckles softly, "Not enough to establish a statistically significant pattern, in any case." He smiles over at Winter and shifts on the car hood to make himself more comfortable.

* * *

Winter laughs softly as Royal outlines his analysis. "I still take female forms, it's just less common in this sleeve. I'd say a ration of three to one in favor of male sleeves. And then there's the times where I'm… neither, I guess?"

* * *

"Well, I suppose in here, there's no particular need for biological sex. Unless you feel like having…biological sex." There's a curl of lewdness to Royal's tone, but it turns into a soft chuckle.

* * *

"True, though that's not exactly what I meant," Winter replies with a soft laugh. "In VR, you are whatever you can imagine, we just tend to limit ourselves to human forms because that's familiar. Comfortable. But, it's not necessary."

* * *

"Mhmm," intones Royal. "I've heard stories of people who went mad when they spent too much time in inhuman forms. I don't think it's something everyone can tolerate. Hence why placing a DHF in a lower lifeform is so illegal. Though…I'd imagine there are ways to make it far less limiting in here than in the real."

* * *

"Form doesn't necessarily follow function, here. The brain of an animal can't really support the DHF of a person for very long before too much becomes… lost. But in this space, your mind instructs your shape, rather than the other way around. So it's, mmm…" Winter frowns faintly as they work on finding the right words. "Mostly to me it feel like one of those really good stretches where everything pops."

* * *

The corner of Royal's lip curls up. "I think at the end of the day, I'm not particularly adventurous. I've never really had much desire to be anyone other than myself. Do you think that's dull of me?" He turns his head and grins.

* * *

"No," Winter replies, turning their own head to regard Royal, "I don't."

* * *

"There just seems so much potential for play in this place," says Royal. "And here I am, still in perfect replicas of suits I actually own." He looks down a bit sheepishly to his outfit.

* * *

"So, imagine another outfit you actually own," Winter suggests. "I've seen you in a few that might be better suited for the space we're in. You've changed clothing before without meaning to. Try doing it with intention."

* * *

"I've generally never concerned myself with whether a suit was appropriate. Overdressing is rather my thing," says Royal with a bright grin. He tucks one arm behind his head. He squeezes Winter's hand, clears his throat and says, "Very well." He closes his eyes and tries to conjure up an image of an outfit. Slowly, the mustard suit turns to a sort of burlap-coloured linen over a blue striped shirt. It's an outfit that might actually look like a burlap sack were it not for the impeccable tailoring.

* * *

"Well, fair," Winter allows with a soft laugh. They consider the outfit Royal manifests, canting their head. "You know… you might be the only person alive that could turn burlap into a fashion statement."

* * *

Royal sits up and hovers over Winter. He smiles down fiercely. "Mhmm. I'll take that as a compliment. I do enjoy making even a sack look good. In the real, this fabric wouldn't fall quite like this. So I managed to break at least one rule?"

* * *

"For the sake of fashion," Winter returns, fingers lifting to brush along Royal's jawline, "so still entirely, utterly and completely yourself."

* * *

"Why, yes. There's not much I wouldn't do for the sake of fashion." And even in VR, Royal's jaw is peppered with artful stubble. Just a bit of rakishness that wouldn't be there were he close-shaven. "And I still see you, no matter what shape you're wearing."

* * *

"It's pretty easy, I'm the only other person here," Winter teases around a soft smile that's both different and the same as their smiles in all the shapes they wear. "Are you going to kiss me or just think about it?"

* * *

"It's more than that," says Royal. Then he grins. "Ooooh. Called out, called out." Then he leans in and kisses with no hesitation, a hand hooking behind their head to pull forward gently.

* * *

Winter hums as their mouths meet, lifting upwards as much as is needed to make that connection. Their hands span across Royal's back, against his absurd but perfectly-fitted burlap jacket. "What is it, then?" they ask softly after the kiss ends.

* * *

"I don't know," says Royal from just an inch or so from Winter's face. "Maybe it's the way you look at me. Maybe it's the way you speak. But you couldn't be anyone but you, either." He leans forward and kisses the curve of their neck, lingeringly for a moment. Then he lifts his face. "And I want to do this…" he finds Winter's mouth again and kisses with more than a little bit of heat behind it, "…no matter what you look like."

* * *

There's a number of easy wise-cracks to make about such a statement, related to Royal's preference for many liaisons of any and all genders, but Winter doesn't offer any of them. They just return the kiss with matching hunger, smiling against his mouth.