For Speaking Meta ICly
The interviewer sat demurely in a comfortable chair awaiting her guests. She was a young woman, perhaps nineteen, perhaps twenty, with a petite frame and heart-shaped face that could make her look younger, if she weren’t compensating for it with her carefully appropriate business suit and her brown hair pulled back in a bun at the name of her neck.
She was idly reading something on a tablet, one fingertip touching the screen now and then, when the first of her guests walked through the door to the room. A tall, lean warrior of a man with dark green hair that hung just past his shoulders wearing black and green leather.
Kenshin Wasterider wasted no movements as he took a position at the back of the room, leaning against the Fourth Wall with his arms folded across his chest. For a moment he looked at the young woman before sighing and shaking his head slowly.
“Goldeneyes is going to eat you for lunch. You know this.”
The interviewer looked up at him and smiled in greeting. “Hello, you must be Kenshin. I must say that you have a most distinctive presence.” She set the tablet down and folded her hands for a moment. “I appreciate the concern but I believe that I am fully qualified to hold my own in these discussions.”
He snorted softly, shaking his head slightly in disbelief. “You… have no idea what you are in for. This should be entertaining, at the least. She’s going to have you for lunch and then keep you to share for dessert.”
The woman chuckled softly, plainly not appreciating the danger. “I assure you, Mr. Wasterider, I am not going to be intimidated.
“My dear,” he said, “intimidation is the least of your worries.”
She looked a bit uncomfortable, but she focused her attention on the matter at hand. “Would you like to begin? Or would you prefer to wait for the others?”
“Heh,” he chuckled and nodded at her, waving one hand in a “go on” motion, “might as well start since they’ll make their entrances in their own time.”
She nodded and referred to the tablet. “So, Mr. Wasterider, where, exactly, do you come from?”
He started to answer when a woman’s voice spoke up from the doorway. A woman with long blonde hair streaked by white in her bangs. Her most startling feature were her eyes, pure molten gold. Her clothing was made of mostly black leather with dark blue and gold for accents. “He’s a Cloud/Kadaj mashup that decided that the Friend Zone wasn’t good enough.” Goldeneyes Dreamsail entered the room and walked over to kiss Kenshin in greeting. “Starting without me, beloved? That’s a first.”
He didn’t, quite, grin at her, but it was a very near thing. “Just getting the pleasantries over with, Ne-ne.”
Goldeneyes smiled at him before taking a seat beside him, tucking her legs up underneath her so that she leaned towards him in the chair and focusing her attention back to the interviewer with an almost predatory gleam in her eyes. “Such a pleasant little morsel, aren’t you?”
The woman looked distinctly uncomfortable for a moment, unable to meet that golden gaze. “I have been informed of your… history with these conversations. I will not meet the same fate as my predecessor.”
Goldeneyes chuckled low, still watching her with all the intensity of a hawk sizing up some defenseless mouse. “So, do you want me to explain my… history for the record or would you prefer to finish with Kenshin before I… take my turn with you?”
The woman swallowed carefully and then motioned for her to continue. “The history might be most helpful… for the record.”
Goldeneyes chuckled. “I have had an online presence for a very long time. All the way back to the mid-90’s and Grizzy’s first days at college. At that time she was part of a discussion group for a role-playing game called Changeling: the Dreaming. Back in those days such discussions weren’t handled through forums like they are now, but through a listserv that sent posts out as emails to the various participants. Not a lot of old thread diving was possible with that system so periodically surveys were sent out as a way of allowing the members to… ‘introduce themselves’, so to speak. Grizzy and I were much closer then, in terms of identity, and she decided to fill out those surveys, both for Changeling-L and for Equest-L as I recall, as an interview.” She laughed softly. “I gave that poor man hell in those sessions. Most fun I’ve had in a long time.”
The woman frowned at her. “You drove him into a complete nervous breakdown.”
Goldeneyes shrugged. “I was, and still am, Fey. He was a stuffed shirt asshat with less imagination than a pencil eraser. Driving men like him into the realm of insanity is the sort of thing we find funny.” She looked at the woman with an undisguised sort of predatory hunger. “But you, my dear, are stuffing your shirt in an altogether different way. I could enjoy driving you into another sort of madness and you’d like it, wouldn’t you? You’d love screaming your sweet little brains out for me, no?”
The interviewer paled and turned red at the same time, stammering some polite refusal that sounded both terrified and uncertain. Kenshin reached down to put one hand on Goldeneyes’ shoulder, squeezing slightly in a silent reminder that she was going too far.
Goldeneyes chuckled softly and leaned closer to Kenshin in her chair, easing up considerably on the intensity. “In any event, Grizzy sent you here to facilitate a discussion, didn’t she? I believe the current question has to do with Kenshin’s beginnings, right?”
The woman nodded and gathered her scattered wits about her again. “Y-yes, I believe that you described him as…” she consulted the tablet for a moment, “a ‘Cloud/Kadaj mashup that decided that the Friend Zone wasn’t good enough’. Would either of you care to elaborate?”
Kenshin shrugged, crossing his arms again as he leaned against the Fourth Wall. “That depends on how far back you want to go, and which incarnation. Each of my lives has a different beginning, a different primo-genesis, if you will. I’m not even the worst one, to be honest. Mairead is going to make your head spin if you try to unravel her various beginnings.”
The interviewer simply smiled and folded her hands on her knees, the tablet sitting across her lap for the moment. “Why don’t we begin with just the current incarnation and deal with the others later?”
He nodded. “Very well. I’m certain that you are aware that most of Grizzy’s worlds have their origin in fanfiction of one form or another, right?” At the woman’s nod, he continued. “Well, I originated in the tale that was loosely called ‘Sephiroth’s Kid Sister’. It was current in her imagination at roughly the time when she first began on role-playing forums, which would have been…” He paused, searching his memory.
“Oh Five, Oh Six, somewhere in there, I think… it was just after the Lost Year on the Scroll of Colors, the discussion forum that succeeded Equest-L,” Goldeneyes supplied. “Grizzy was actually working on the first version of Castellan Dreams at the time, which is where things started to go sideways with what she had planned and what Kenshin wanted.”
Kenshin chuckled softly. “Oh, what I wanted was fairly simple, Ne-ne. Grizzy was the one who made it all complicated. See, in her mind, Grizzy had cast me as the Best Friend. I was originally her expy of Cloud, combined with some of Kadaj’s aesthetic qualities, which is where the ‘mashup’ aspect comes in. Things started becoming interesting, though, when my daughter made her presence known.”
The interviewer consulted her tablet. “That would be… Kendra Stormbairn, correct?” She pauses as she saw the list of aliases. “Oh my, she’s had a lot of names over time.”
He nodded, chuckling. “Yes, she has. She’s always been Kendra, though. The surname thing is what has changed with so many alterations in her story. See, originally all Grizzy had was a picture of this sweet looking girl with my hair and blue eyes, but she argued with us for what felt like ages about whether or not Kendra would have her eyes,” he indicated Goldeneyes with a slight movement of his chin. “I won that battle. She has her mother’s eyes.”
He took a deep breath. “That is where things really started going sideways for Grizzy’s plan because… well, because I’m possessive. I become attached and I don’t let go. I was not going to stand aside and watch as the woman who carried my child stands in some other man’s arms. I loved her too much to give her up. I forced my way into Castellan Dreams and quite purposefully threw a huge wrench into her carefully planned work.”
The interviewer blinked in shock. “On purpose?”
“Oh, very much so. See, at that time, Grizzy wasn’t quite certain what any given reading audience could endure of… well, of some of the open-mindedness that she grew up with in ElfQuest. There were already various biological oddities showing up in her stories that she was still trying to accept, herself, and the whole notion of three-bonds… well, she didn’t know if an audience would accept that. It’s an oddity of our existence that we embrace certain things long before our Speaker is able to do so.”
He shrugged. “So I knew that the moment I volunteered to submit to the man myself just to be with my Goldeneyes that Grizzy would call a halt to the whole thing and start over.”
“What if Grizzy had called your bluff?”
Kenshin met her eyes, quite serious. “Who says that I was bluffing? As I said, I’m possessive and I was not going to live without the mother of my daughter. If that was what it took, that was what it was going to take. As it is…” he chuckled softly, “I believe she has had her revenge.”
The interviewer looked at them curiously. “What do you mean?”
Goldeneyes laughed, the predatory light sparkling in her eyes again as she looked at the woman, answering her question. “I collect concubines, after a fashion. When I claim a conquest, I don’t let go of her. In that way I’m as possessive as Kenshin is. I conquer, and I keep what I take.”
“So you might say that I live in the middle of an Estrogen Storm with all the girls Goldeneyes has brought home with her.”
“Are you complaining, beloved? I share with you.”
He grinned, noticing the marked increase in the interviewer’s discomfort. “Me, complain? Never, Ne-ne. I’m a man and I have a pulse. I am not going to complain.”
The interviewer paled and turned red simultaneously again as she realized some of the implications in their words. “P-pardon… I think… I think I need to…” She took a deep breath, obviously trying to regain her wits. “Why don’t we take a break for a bit, give the others a chance to arrive and… and maybe research some more topics. Would… would that be alright with you?”
The two nodded and she quite nearly fled the room as fast as she could.
Kenshin chuckled softly. “You’re going to, aren’t you?”
“Hell yes. Grizzy wouldn’t have sent her here if she didn’t have a decent idea what kind of reception she’d get. The girl’s adorable when she’s embarrassed. I’m going to enjoy this.”