Hearts of Irony

The area around Cochise High School is a quiet, sleepy place, composed almost entirely of small-to-medium-sized houses, with a couple apartment buildings on the far edges. The architecture of the area has a rustic feel to it, featuring lots of stucco and pastel colors, and many of the houses are extremely similar in floor plan due to being largely designed by one architect during a period of growth in the city, lending the area a feeling of sameness. The neighborhood exudes a friendly atmosphere between its twists and turns and tree-lined streets, and indeed the people in the area are known for their hospitality and welcoming nature to those around them, helping their neighbors out whenever necessary.
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August 1st, 2016, 9:38 pm #11

It was a long match, yeah. Al however never kept track of the time of matches. He never did. Chess was a game that sometimes consumed minutes, sometimes hours. It can be a short, or a long match. When Al was at Vacanti's he sometimes was there for too long, because of games. Chess was no soccer, with a time limit of 90 minutes. It was flexible.

Alessio couldn't recall which move Maxim meant. There were so many moves that were made in the game, and Al already forgot most of them by now. Unmute.

"Yeah, I was lucky." Mute. No idea which bishop move Maxim meant.

He stared at the screen to await a response. Alessio was bored now, and kinda nervous, because he had no clue what Maxim was up to now. How long will this call be?
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Rorick Skyve
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Joined: February 22nd, 2016, 6:09 am

August 1st, 2016, 11:20 pm #12

Now that was certainly new. Simply admitting to it, was he? Either that, or it was just yet another way of mocking him, like he didn't even take him for full. There was no way a person would normally admit to being lucky, not that easily. He had expected Al to at least feign being insulted, anything of the sort. But flat out conceding...yes, he had to make of fun of him, it was the only thing that made sense.

"I mean you..."

Maxim was unsure of what he was going to say next. There were many possible endings to that sentence floating around in his mind, possibly even too many. Yet none of them seemed like anything he'd want to say to Alessio. Maybe he was being too harsh, starting to make ants into molehills. Then again, this entire thing really stung, stung badly, like a thorn stuck in his side or pride, rather.

Yes, proud, that was what he was being, too proud. Losing had clearly angered him, more than he liked to admit. It wouldn't even have been so bad, had he only been able to convince himself that he deserved to lose that one. But no, it still didn't seem fair to him, Al had played so mindlessly and yet he had succeeded, made his victory look like a walk in the park. It was just simply unnerving. Even more so that the guy didn't even seem to want to discuss it any further. So unsatisfying, ten pounds of yoghurt and chips couldn't have compensated for that.

"Ach, vergi- forget about it. Not that important anyway."

He stroked his chin, still nervously biting at his lower lip. It really was best to drop the whole thing. Just relax and move on with his life and the call. But no, no he couldn't, he wouldn't. He had to be sure, sure of that one thing, at least. "Well, tell me this though: That whole thing with sacrificing your bishop and the pawn, you didn't plan for it to turn out the way it did, did you? Creating that whole gap in my defense and all, you couldn't have planned all that, right?"
[+] spoiler
Maxim Kehlenbrink ---- Memories 1-2--- Present 1- 2-3-4-5 --- Sadie Hawkins Dance 1

Aiden Slattery ---- Present: 1-2-3-4-5--- Sadies 1-2--- Memories 1 - 2

Jane Madison (Adopted from The Burned Handler, who adopted from Somersault, who adopted from Espi)

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August 2nd, 2016, 11:16 am #13

Maxim had to remind Alessio of the game again. Details of the game, details that happened a long time ago. Bishop sacrifice? Al sacrificed lots of figure during the game. He frankly could not recall anything. He sure put some thoughts in strategies, but these were momentarily. Once executed, they were forgotten. Unmute.

"I mean, destroying the defense is important. So yeah."

Mute. Al could recall that he was proud at some moments of the game, especially when taking the roles of Maxim. But now Maxim talked about the game, making Al feel less happy about the game. It was not really worth discussing, no? It was just a game, after all. If they had played checkers they wouldn't have discussed much about the game either.
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Rorick Skyve
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Joined: February 22nd, 2016, 6:09 am

August 3rd, 2016, 1:11 am #14

Maxim didn’t even know what to make of that answer. Al had just admitted that he had been lucky, seconds ago, now he was saying the opposite, saying he had it all planned out after all. He really didn’t want to believe that his friend was making fun of him, that was the last thing he wanted. But it simply didn’t make sense, this was not like the Alessio he knew. Or was it?

Maybe Al was simply not paying attention, saying things on the fly, just to shake off his questions. Maybe that was it, maybe he himself was being pesky, pushy, all that. Of course, he should have known it had been him all along. He was being an idiot, a sore loser and an idiot to top it off.

He felt defeated, in more ways than one. Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall, so they said. There probably was no other saying that was as appropriate as this one right now. He had been proud, cocky even, he of all people. Proud of what? There was nothing he could have even dared being proud about, nothing at all. At least he had realized it in time, before being able of going too far, off harassing poor Alessio even further. It wasn’t new to him, of course. Just every once in a while, he forgot about that simple truth. Least he could now was apologize. Or change subject, at least.

"Anyway.“

He could have proposed playing a different game, maybe one he could enjoy as much as Alessio, for a change. But honestly, he didn’t feel like it. Didn’t feel like even trying to have fun right now, not even like reading something. He just wanted to be able to relax, maybe just lie down on his bed and stare at the ceiling for an hour or so. Anything to escape the current situation. To just be by himself.

"Anyway, I think that’s it for me right now. Didn’t really sleep well last night, still feel rather tired. So yes, I think we should call it a day. It has been fun though, really.“

No choice, he had to make use of that famous white lie. No point in inconveniencing Al any further.
[+] spoiler
Maxim Kehlenbrink ---- Memories 1-2--- Present 1- 2-3-4-5 --- Sadie Hawkins Dance 1

Aiden Slattery ---- Present: 1-2-3-4-5--- Sadies 1-2--- Memories 1 - 2

Jane Madison (Adopted from The Burned Handler, who adopted from Somersault, who adopted from Espi)

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August 3rd, 2016, 5:55 pm #15

"Yeah, it was fun," Alessio said, while being unmuted. Al nervously waited for Maxim to say something, reply to Al or to stop the call, but after some seconds, Al decided to quit the call himself. Done with talking, done with being nervous, done with feeling watched. Al looked back at Julius just to see that he disappeared.

Alessio stood up to first drink a sip from the water bottle and then looked under his bed to look for Julius. Yeah, the cute cat was hiding under the bed, in the dark.

Hello Julius, my old friend. I've come to cuddle with you again. Al had no clue why he hummed that, maybe because Al thought of darkness. Al felt free, being able to hum freely without feeling awkward. He could not imagine humming while Maxim listened. That would be weird.

While Al hummed, while scratching Julius, he was reminded how great Simon and Garfunkel were. Al should practise guitar more often. So, before Julius suddenly bit him again, he tried learning to learn how to play The Boxer on the guitar via a YouTube tutorial.
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Rorick Skyve
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August 3rd, 2016, 8:12 pm #16

Was there anything else he needed to be saying? Probably not. Even if something had come to mind, it was too late for that now, Alessio had just quit the call. Most likely for the best, who knew if he hadn't made it worse with more talk.

Maxim leaned back in his desk chair, firmly pressing his back against the backrest as if he was trying to push through it. He licked his lips, staring at the screensaver of his desktop for what seemed like minutes to him, at least in his head. It had probably only been seconds, but with his mind being unusually empty for once, almost a blank, a mere void, he felt like he had lost track of space and time for a short duration. Only then did he notice that he was still wearing his headphones, promptly brushing them off his head with a swipe of the hand.

It started to feel like his neck was cramping, courtesy of not moving his head around for probably far too long. So he looked to the right, at his most sacred resting place. His bed was in a total disarray, sheet and blanket rumpled and clearly looking like they were in need of changing and probably contributing to the staleness of the air in the room as well. Ugh, how he hated having to change it by himself, sorely missed were the times where his dad would take that burden off his shoulders. Begging for him to that job today, only today, that was still an option. But no, even he wasn't that lazy, this was a matter of pride. His dad had enough to deal with as it was.

But even so, with his mood having received a serious blow, he felt like the effects of said blow were already beginning to wear off. He couldn't quite describe it, but the sudden angst that had gotten hold of him seemed to be supplanted by a different sentiment entirely. He was still slightly annoyed, yes, but that wasn't because of that whole business with Alessio. To be honest, he did feel almost at peace, an idle, hollow form of peace, but peace nonetheless. So much at peace that he was willing to ignore the fact that his bed clearly needed a cleaning of some sort and simply threw himself on the musty sheets, no regrets.

Tired, that was how he felt now. Not anxious, not resentful towards himself, just tired. It wasn't hard to see why that was, both him being tired and having shaken off that overwhelming negativity rather quickly. It was because he was by himself now. No longer having to worry how to act, what to say, he was alone with only his own thoughts and a few lonely socks lying around to keep him company. And quite honestly, he preferred it that way. He wasn't needed elsewhere, not by Al or anyone else, so he was content just being here. At least for that moment.

Nodding off was looking awfully tempting now.

"Match of chess? Well, sure, don't see why not. I don't have a better idea anyway, so let's go with that."

The game hadn't even started yet and he was already making a mistake. The mistake being him conceding that easily. Of all the possible games, chess. Sure, they played that every once in a while, but it was the same each time, with him not being able to enjoy himself, at all. Alessio seemed to really be into it though. Probably wouldn't have proposed to play it otherwise, time after time.

Well, it was too late now. He had agreed, now he had to live with that. Hopefully, those new chips his dad had bought would be something for him to smile about. Didn't sound like they were going to be, but once could never know. He'd save them for a later time though. Munching away right at the beginning didn't feel right, he had only just eaten a short while ago. About...an hour ago, yes, since it was 3:30 now, at least according to his taskbar's time display.

"Go ahead, open up a new game, I'll join."
[+] spoiler
Maxim Kehlenbrink ---- Memories 1-2--- Present 1- 2-3-4-5 --- Sadie Hawkins Dance 1

Aiden Slattery ---- Present: 1-2-3-4-5--- Sadies 1-2--- Memories 1 - 2

Jane Madison (Adopted from The Burned Handler, who adopted from Somersault, who adopted from Espi)

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August 5th, 2016, 12:40 pm #17

Alessio gave Maxim the link in their Skype chat dialogue. He was glad that Maxim played with him. Alvaro was the only regular opponent for Al at the chess game. His father did not like the game, his mother did not understand it. And, well his cats couldn't play chess. So he wondered how Maxim would perform against him. Probably good. Maxim was a smart guy, smarter than Al. And Al was never really good at chess. Especially against Alvaro.

Al looked forward to see what his brain could do after that hard school day. Perhaps, he should have suggested a game that required less thinking.

Hm, Al had to start the game. White. Hm, what should he move? Which pawn? When playing in the café he sometimes tried more risky things, to confuse. But now, he should play properly and move the pawn in front of his king.
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Rorick Skyve
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Joined: February 22nd, 2016, 6:09 am

August 5th, 2016, 3:35 pm #18

There they were, neatly lined up, a phalanx of black and white. He could almost envision them as humans and orcs, Gandalf and Saruman both leading the battle from behind their lines. Though that did probably make him the bad guy in this scenario, given he had the black pieces. Then again, Saruman was called Saruman the White and besides, that entire trope with white representing 'Good' and black 'Evil' was not to his taste anyway. Too trite, simply put. White was the color of death in Chinese culture after all. Though that too did not bode well for him.

This seemed like a good strategy though, simply pretending those dull virtual figures out there on those checkered Plains of Justice were some kind of fantasy armies, trolls and ogres and elves and whatnot. Certainly made it more interesting to him.

It was his turn. Naturally, the only logical thing for him to do was to move one of his pawns - his goblins. Preferably the one directly opposed to the one Al had just moved forward. Would make for a nice little duel, though not really, since all the two pieces would be doing was stare at each other indefinitely until someone else than their opposite freed them of their burden. Alessio would probably move one of his own goblins in return and -

No, no no, this wasn't working, not at all. Renaming the pieces like that was silly, that's what it was, nothing but silly. Even if J. R. R. Tolkien himself had narrated the proceedings of their match, it couldn't have made up for how unbearably repetitive this game was. It might have been sort of fun the first few times he had ever played it, but just like an elderly PC game that had aged badly, it had lost its charm, wasn't up to his standards anymore.

Again, no use in whining. All he could do was grit his teeth and get to it, get through it. The least he could hope from all this was walking away with the satisfaction of a hard-fought victory. He really hoped so. But Al wasn't that much of an opponent anyway. It wasn't going to be much of a problem, most certainly not.

"Well, get to it. It's been your turn for quite some time now."


((Maxim Kehlenbrink continued in Empire of Dirt))
[+] spoiler
Maxim Kehlenbrink ---- Memories 1-2--- Present 1- 2-3-4-5 --- Sadie Hawkins Dance 1

Aiden Slattery ---- Present: 1-2-3-4-5--- Sadies 1-2--- Memories 1 - 2

Jane Madison (Adopted from The Burned Handler, who adopted from Somersault, who adopted from Espi)

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August 5th, 2016, 4:07 pm #19

So many possibilities. Openings were the worst. The midgame was much more simple to follow since it had less options. But now? Al, who also had pressure due to Maxim awaiting a response, quickly made a next move.

And while Alessio and Maxim played chess, Julius arrived at home from his hunt. After having had eating some tasty meal, he returned to his territory: Al's room. He wanted more food. He jumped on Alessio's bed and meowed. Al quickly turned around to pet him, just to turn around again to continue playing.

Enough is enough. Julius wanted fooooood. He put all the force into his legs to jump on the desk of Alessio to alarm him that he needed fooood. That a water bottle fell to the ground was no big sacrifice. Fooood. Julius then began to cuddle with Al, but he rudely grabbed Julius to put him on the bed, removing the cat from the desk.

"Aaaahrgh, Julius! Not now, not now."

That's why Al was muted. But Julius did not care. He cared for food. But then he did not care about food, and cared about sleep instead. Aww, the blanket is so cuddly and it was so beautifully dark. Maybe he wasn't that hungry, maybe he needed sleep after the failure of a hunt he did. Julius had not caught a bird, Julius had not caught a mouse. So, Julius took a nap under the blanket.

After Al took his cat to the bed, he found a brilliant move. Maybe it was a good move to move the bishop there.

((Alessio Rigano continued in Everybody Wants To Be A Cat))
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