#A few people mentioned wanting a text version for accessibility...
Kupu rere kē
My friend was advised to italicise all the foreign words in her poems.
This advice came from a well-meaning woman
with NZ poetry on her business card
and an English accent in her mouth.
I have been thinking about this advice.
The convention of italicising words from other languages
clarifies that some words are imported:
it ensures readers can tell the difference between a foreign language
and the language of home.
I have been thinking about this advice.
Marking the foreign words is also a kindness:
every potential reader is reassured
that although you’re expected to understand the rest of the text,
it’s fine to consult a dictionary or native speaker for help with the italics.
I have been thinking about this advice.
Because I am a contrary person, at first I was outraged —
but after a while I could see she had a point:
when the foreign words are camouflaged in plain type
you can forget how they came to be there, out of place, in the first place.
I have been thinking about this advice
and I have decided to follow it.
Now all of my readers will be able to remember
which words truly belong in Aotearoa and which do not.
Alice Te Punga Somerville, Always Italicise: How to Write While Colonised - Kupu rere kē
Self-Made Man: Jace Beleren and Representation for Transgender Men in MTG
A few days before I started writing this, I received a message on Tumblr asking me to talk about my personal interpretation of Jace Beleren as a trans man. Not an unusual request, since Jace Beleren is my favorite character and I mention that I think he's trans all the time. I thought my response would be easy to write, but I started typing and couldn't stop. I realized I couldn't keep it short and simple. My thoughts grew into something much bigger, and much more meaningful to me. (Word count: ~9260)
In this post, I'll explore my analysis of Jace Beleren as a transgender man, why I think it enriches Jace as a character, and how it relates to the topic of transgender representation in Magic.
Disclaimer 1: As far as I know, WOTC and the authors who wrote Jace's lore did not originally set out with the intention of portraying a transgender character in Jace. Everything I'm presenting as evidence that Jace is trans is just part of my analysis. The purpose of this post is not to prove that Jace was always intended to be trans, but to show how my personal interpretation of Jace as a trans man is inspired by and supported by the text.
Disclaimer 2: All transgender people are different and have unique lives and feelings and experiences, so the things I say in this post won't apply to every single trans person. The examples I give here are mainly based on my own experience, as well as those of other trans men I know personally.
(General content warning for discussions of bullying and transphobia.)
PART 1: ORIGINS
There's an inherent transness about Jace Beleren.
Insecurity is one of Jace's most visible and defining traits. From Origins to Ixalan, his long-term character arc is all about his struggle to let go of his insecurities in order to become a better version of himself. There are parallels to the experiences of transgender men in the way those insecurities came about, how he expresses them, and how he eventually overcomes them.
It's easy to see why Jace would be insecure. As a telepath, he can hear all the negative thoughts other people have about him.
Sure enough, there was his father, sitting at the kitchen table, frowning. Gav Beleren, grubby and balding, regarded Jace with little more than weariness.
I wish he was normal.
His father’s thoughts traced a familiar path.
[Jace's Origin: Absent Minds - Kelly Digges]
A big lug shoved past him from behind.
Jace couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment.
I swear, that Beleren kid…
[Jace's Origin: Absent Minds - Kelly Digges]
There’s the freak.
The biting thought was the only warning Jace got.
He scrambled to his feet and spun, but he was too late. Three of his schoolmates stood between him and the access hatch.
[Jace's Origin: Absent Minds - Kelly Digges]
Jace's own father, despite caring for his son and wanting a better life for him, felt little warmth for him. He wished Jace were "normal" and often became frustrated with him. Jace was a victim of brutal bullying that started in early childhood and continued all through his school years. Even complete strangers disliked Jace, and they made it known.
It was difficult for Jace to tell which thoughts were or weren't his own. Jace's constant awareness of others disliking him caused him to internalize that negativity, and as a result, he developed a sense of insecurity at an early age.
Jace's insecurity manifests as self-hatred, feelings of inadequacy, and discomfort in his body and physical appearance. I think his insecurities manifested in these specific ways because one of his most significant personal struggles was gender dysphoria. In an R&D video about Jace's story in Origins, Kelly Digges spoke about Jace's insecurity, and unintentionally gave the most transgender-sounding response possible.
"Not everybody likes Jace. They see the arrogant self-assured kid wearing the hoodie, and something about that doesn't sit well with them. But I think you've got to have sympathy for the guy. I mean, imagine being a teenager with all the awkwardness that comes with that, and actually knowing that the person behind you thinks your hair looks stupid! You'd put on a hood too!"
[Kelly Digges - Magic: The Gathering - Inside R&D Magic Origins: Jace]
The thing is, I don't have to imagine that situation. That was literally my lived experience as a trans teenager.
I had known I was trans since I was very little, but I didn't decide to start living life as an openly transgender boy until I was 13 years old– right before I started high school. The day before my freshman orientation, my mom took me to a hair salon and I asked the stylist to give me a typical boy's haircut. My hair was waist-length, and the stylist was shocked that a 'girl' could ask her to cut off that much hair. She was scared to ruin my appearance by making me "look like a boy" (even though that's exactly what I wanted.)
My freshman photo was the ugliest school picture I've ever taken. My friends jokingly called me 'Gohan' (from Dragon Ball Z). I started wearing jackets with my hood up, even though I never liked to before, and I wore hats despite it being against the school dress code. I knew other people thought my hair looked stupid, and I knew this without having telepathic abilities like Jace.
But my troubles didn't start with that haircut. Long before I started openly living as a boy, I was told I was a 'tomboy' and that I didn't act like other little girls did. Even in early childhood, I was very aware of the fact that some people hated me for who I was and how I expressed myself. I was just like Jace in that way– knowing who was judging me; knowing they didn't respect me; and knowing that in their eyes I was ugly, a weirdo, or worse.
I had always known I was different, and Jace had always known he was different, too. But it's not for the reason you would think. People mistreated Jace long before anyone knew or even began to suspect his true nature as a telepath. Nobody knew Jace was a mage, but everyone knew something was weird about him. There was something outwardly unusual about Jace that people noticed and thought was strange and undesirable.
Something interesting I noticed while re-reading Jace's origin story is that he appears to be wearing girls' clothing in the art. He and the girl, Jill, are both wearing the same long tunic / dress and shawl; while the two other boys are wearing vests and tucked-in shirts.
I know that wasn't necessarily the intention with this art, but it got me thinking about other aspects of Jace's origin story that just felt trans to me.
Interestingly, nobody in Jace's origin story actually calls him "Jace" except for his mother, the only person who truly loved and accepted him for who he was; and Alhammarret, another telepath and therefore the only person who could see Jace the way Jace saw himself. Everyone else refers to him as "Beleren" or "that Beleren kid" or "freak". His own dad doesn't call him anything at all.
It reminded me of the way my family never got into the habit of calling me my chosen name, even after I came out. They would call me my childhood nickname, "BooBoo", to avoid saying my chosen name or my birth name. To them, I was boyish enough it was weird to call me a girl's name, but not loved or respected enough to be called what I wanted.
Being a trans teenager is hard. It's hard to control your style when you're dependent on your parents to buy clothing. It's hard to control your identity when other people constantly call you the wrong name. And it's pretty much impossible to control your body.
Puberty is a source of insecurity for all teenagers, but it's the ultimate hell for trans teenagers. When the effects of hormones become visible and you see how your body has changed compared to your peers, the difference can be emotionally devastating.
While puberty made me wider and heavier; my male friends, who were going through the other puberty, got taller and more muscular. They got bigger and stronger every year while I was doomed to stay 5'0 (152cm) forever. It felt like I could never catch up– they looked the way I wanted to without even trying. Sure, I could pass for a boy, but they were going to grow up to be men. It infuriated me.
Similarly, Jace's lack of stereotypically masculine physical characteristics was a major source of self-hatred.
“Hey, Beleren,” said the largest of the three, his booming voice overpowering the wind. His name was Tuck. At fourteen, he was a year older than Jace, a head taller, and built like a loading dock.
[Jace's Origin: Absent Minds - Kelly Digges]
How small he looked, hanging desperately above the crackling stream of mana. How vulnerable he looked. He hated it.
[Jace's Origin: Absent Minds - Kelly Digges]
Jace's male peers are described as being significantly taller and more muscular than him. This difference in size and strength made it easy for other boys to bully and physically abuse Jace, which caused him to associate their masculinity with the power they held over him. In Jace's mind, being a victim meant he was weak, and being weak meant he was less of a man. Hating yourself for things you can't control is extraordinarily painful.
When Jace discovered his true nature as a telepath, he realized it was the one way he held power over others. He tried to feel tougher and more masculine by emulating the way his bullies demonstrated their power over him– through intimidation, cruelty, and threats of violence.
He looked Tuck in the eyes. “And if you harm my family, I’ll take your mind apart, one squalid little memory at a time.”
[Jace's Origin: Absent Minds - Kelly Digges]
Having grown up without any positive male role models in his life, Jace's idea of masculinity was primarily influenced by the mistreatment he endured. He simply imitated what he saw and he didn't have the emotional support or life experience needed to grow out of that mindset.
As a young trans man reading Jace's origin story, I found the way he resented his bullies and retaliated against them to be very relatable. It's scary how easily gender dysphoria can turn into toxic masculinity. When you need to try a million times harder than your cisgender peers to be acknowledged as a man, taking masculinity to a harmful extreme can seem like the logical thing to do, especially if you're a younger trans man.
Despite expressing myself exactly the same as any other little boy would (wearing the same clothes, liking the same cartoons, playing the same sports), I was bullied by both kids and adults for daring to think I could be a boy. Once, when I was 8 years old, I stepped up to bat for my Little League baseball team. When the announcer said my feminine name and everyone noticed the long hair sticking out from underneath my helmet, the opposing team's volunteer coaches (the fathers of kids my age!) shouted from their dugout: "There's no way they'll win! They have a girl on their team!" Their players laughed and cheered in response.
That absolutely broke me. Their words taught me that being myself wasn't enough. And if being the same as other boys wasn't enough, then I needed to be more than them. I intentionally became a bully. Picking every fight I could was my way of proving I was more masculine than people thought.
Intentional toxic masculinity in pursuit of gender-affirmation is a very common experience for young trans men. Jace and my younger self acted the way we did because we were trying to mask our insecurity. We wanted to kill the weakness we saw in ourselves, so we lashed out in an attempt to feel stronger than the people who hurt us.
Starting middle school let me get away from most of the people who bullied me. It was the fresh start I needed to stop being such a terror. But a clean slate wouldn't prove to be so helpful for young Jace.
PART 2: PLANESWALKER
At age 15, Jace's Planeswalker spark ignited. He arrived on Ravnica with no memories of his life on Vryn.
In theory, Jace's amnesia would have allowed him to start becoming the person he wanted to be, but he couldn't begin to heal because the scars on his subconscious mind were immediately opened. Being lost and alone made Jace feel vulnerable– the feeling he hated most.
Came out of nowhere. Some poor Izzet experimental subject, probably.
He scrambled to his feet. People were staring at him. He looked as bad as he felt, sweaty and pale and filthy. He pulled his scarf up around his face and dashed to the side of the road.
I’m not an experimental subject. I’m…I’m…
I’m in trouble.
Fine. Table that.
He walked as fast as he could without seeming to hurry. He reached out, carefully, into the minds around him. It was a cacophony, a mad tangle of voices, and half of them weren’t even human.
Vagrant. Thief. Poor kid. Wretch.
His headache was getting worse.
[Jace's Origin: Absent Minds - Kelly Digges]
On Ravnica, Jace had no idea where he was or who he was, and he was suddenly surrounded by more people than he'd ever been near before. After losing the ability to control his telepathy, he was overwhelmed with their thoughts. He didn't know any of the people around him, but he knew they thought he was strange and pitiful.
When Jace noticed people staring at him, he hid his face with his scarf and ran away from them. Jace's first instinctual concern was not that he was possibly in danger, but that people were perceiving him in a way that made him feel embarrassed about himself. Even without memories of being bullied, a part of Jace's mind was still constantly worried about his appearance.
Jace's anxiety in public reminded me of the extreme paranoia I suffered from as a trans teenager. Being seen and perceived was so unbearable to me that I went to extremes to avoid people. I'd stay home or hide whenever possible, and sometimes I became so anxious I would literally run away if I noticed someone looking at me. I've gotten a lot better in the past few years, but I still worry when I'm out in public. I often notice strangers staring at me, and I hate knowing when people are questioning my gender. In certain situations, I'm even worried that someone might hurt me if they notice I'm trans. When you're trans and you've been bullied, just being perceived is dangerous.
That initial experience on Ravnica did instant damage to his self esteem. Jace's discomfort in his body and physical appearance was such a pressing issue that he immediately sought gender-affirming body modifications.
The Jace in front of her was pathetically young.
The teenage Jace seated in the chair had the look about him of someone who wanted to disappear and wish someone more imposing into his place. His outfit was disheveled, the cut of it unfamiliar. Vraska sensed in the fabric of the memory that this version of Jace had arrived in Ravnica for the first time only days before.
The Gruul shaman's hand was glowing brilliant white. "This your first?" he grunted.
It took Jace a moment too long to answer. "Yes," he said timidly.
Vraska couldn't help but smile at this memory. He was the wimpiest teenager she had ever seen—no wonder he wanted a cool tattoo.
The shaman leaned over the teenager and drew a line with his finger down Jace's cheek, leaving a brilliant white tattoo in its place. He continued on his chin and arm, and Vraska watched as the shaman diligently painted a braver face on the nervous teenager's own.
[The Flood - Alison Luhrs]
Tattoos probably aren't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of gender-affirming body modifications, but that was the purpose they served for Jace. Getting tattoos made him feel braver and more grown up, and they made him look cooler and more intimidating to others. All of these were stereotypically masculine traits he desired in the way he presented himself.
In addition to the way they changed him outwardly, Jace's tattoos were a personal declaration of his identity. His tattoos were drawn from one of the few things he could remember after arriving on Ravnica: a set of mysterious shapes and symbols. He didn't know what meaning they held, if any at all, but he decided that they were important to him because they were his.The decision to have them permanently inked on his skin gave him a sense of control and ownership over his body and appearance, which is one of the most important aspects of forming an identity as a trans person.
In his young adult years on Ravnica, Jace made a living as a criminal extorting the rich and famous. For the first time in his life, he could afford to choose his own wardrobe instead of depending on a guardian to provide clothes for him. Jace used this opportunity to exercise more control over his appearance, having clothing designed and tailored specifically to his desires.
The patterns Jace had tattooed on his body would be incorporated into his signature blue cloak. Jace's cloak is the most iconic element of his visual design, and it's important to this interpretation of his character because it's his dysphoria hoodie.
A dysphoria hoodie is a hooded clothing item intended to relieve gender dysphoria by obscuring the shape of a person's body. They're oversized, loose, and usually black or another dark color. Wearing a dysphoria hoodie hides a person's body from others' judging eyes, and allows them to forget about the parts of their body that they don't like.
It's undeniable that Jace's cloak fits this description perfectly.
Jace was extremely attached to his blue cloak. It didn't matter how hot the weather was, or how dirty or damaged his cloak had gotten– he always wore it anyway. And judging by the fact that he canonically had numerous duplicates made, he didn't want to ever stop wearing it. The ability to look and feel mysterious was very comforting to him.
Jace tried to hide his insecurities for as long as he could, but as he grew into adulthood, his problems would grow and change with him.
The novel Agents of Artifice follows Jace's life on Ravnica from ages 19 to 22. Growing up meant the gender role Jace desired to fill evolved from 'boy' to 'man', but Jace had no positive male role models or examples in this formative time.
As Jace's employer and teacher, Tezzeret forced him to use his powers for violence by psychologically abusing him. Tezzeret had an explosive temper and brutally tortured Jace when he failed assignments or hesitated to comply.
Jace's best friend / partner, Kallist Rhoka, showed a sense of entitlement after the two met Liliana Vess. Kallist felt like Liliana owed him attention and sex, despite the fact that she wasn't interested in him because she was already dating Jace.
“You’re a hypocrite, Jace. It’s fine. My own fault, really. I should’ve known better than to take you at your word, when it came to getting something you wanted—the one thing I might’ve found to make this damned place a little better!”
“She was never yours!” Jace shot to his feet, fists clenched. “Never!”
“Because you wouldn’t give us the chance!” Kallist shot back. “It’s not enough that you took away everything I had?”
“Took away … Damn it, Kallist, I saved your life!”
[Agents of Artifice - Ari Marmell]
Kallist wasn't the only man who felt this way. Throughout the book, several complete strangers made it clear that they thought Jace was inferior and undeserving of Liliana's affection, and that Liliana should be with them instead. Other men openly insulted Jace because they didn't see him as a "real man".
“I couldn’t help but notice,” he slurred in a voice heavy with beer, “that you finally sent your scrawny friend packing. That mean you interested in spending some time with a real man?”
[Agents of Artifice - Ari Marmell]
At that point in his life, Jace was still surrounded by men who had very toxic expressions of masculinity, but unlike his teenage self, he had no desire to imitate them. Jace feared and resisted Tezzeret's violent teachings, he disapproved of Kallist's misogyny towards Liliana, and he avoided confrontation with the random strangers who threatened him.
I think Jace's distaste for their attitudes and behaviors shows that his insecurity is truly gender dysphoria and not just toxic masculinity. If Jace disapproved of their toxic masculinity and didn't want to express himself that way, why would he care if he wasn't a "real man" to them? Why did he still feel incomplete as a man? What does being a man mean to Jace Beleren?
Jace wanted to do all the things typically expected of adult men. He wanted to be self-reliant, to be a protector and leader to others. He made himself a protector and financial provider to his romantic partners. He wanted to protect Ravnica and accepted his duty as the Living Guildpact when the role was magically forced upon him. He worked with the Gatewatch to defend other planes and invited them to live in his home. Despite all his efforts, nobody seemed to see that Jace was trying his best.
One of the most common difficulties trans men experience is being infantilized because they're perceived as younger. Trans men often look younger than their cisgender male peers of the same age due to the difference in hormones. Less testosterone means trans men tend to be shorter, less muscular, and have less body hair (not accounting for individual genetic factors).
When trans men lack stereotypically masculine physical characteristics, especially those associated with age and maturity, such as facial hair, they don't get treated with the same respect as other men. (For example, adult trans men are often referred to as 'boys' no matter how old they actually are.)
When Jace's appearance is described in stories, his lack of stereotypically masculine physical characteristics is always noted. He's always described as being smaller and less muscular than other men, and it's repeatedly remarked upon that he's unable to grow a beard.
Rulan was clad much like Jace himself, though he preferred deep reds and purples to Jace’s unrelenting blue and black. And unlike Jace, Rulan boasted a full, tidily trimmed beard.
[Agents of Artifice - Ari Marmell]
She cast a critical eye up and down his form. Firm, fit, alert, hair combed. She mentally called bull on it. "You can drop the glamour, dear. No one cares."
He sighed, and shimmered as his illusion dropped. There was the real Jace; paler, hair rumpled, eyes sunken from late nights, and his chin tinted by the adorable peach fuzz that almost counted as a someday-maybe beard.
[Homesick - Chris L'Etoile]
The text shows that Jace experienced infantilization as a trans man. His sparse facial hair is enough to visibly darken his face, but it's referred to as "adorable peach fuzz" rather than a more mature-sounding alternative. In the story Catching Up, Liliana tells Jace that him looking older is "an unambiguous compliment."
"You look older," she said.
"I'm not sure how to take that."
"At your age, dear, it's an unambiguous compliment." She cocked her head. "Have you started combing your hair?"
He smoothed his hair self-consciously, just for a moment, then withdrew his hand. He had, in fact, started combing it. Not that his hair was any of her business. He scowled.
[Catching Up - Kelly Digges]
This aspect of Jace's trans experience caused him to be disrespected in several areas of his adult life. As an adult navigating dating and relationships, people saw him as unattractive and less desirable. As the Living Guildpact, people saw him as unqualified and irresponsible. As a member of the Gatewatch, people saw him as weak and incapable of leadership. Because he was infantilized as a trans man, he was perceived as inherently less masculine, less competent, and less mature. This negative perception reinforced his feelings of inadequacy.
For this reason, Jace was more self-conscious about his appearance as an adult than he'd ever been as a youth. In order for people to treat him with more respect, Jace found it necessary to hide his body with his cloak and to change his appearance with illusions. Jace felt the need to 'pass', and thought being himself was unsatisfactory, especially after he met Gideon.
Meeting Gideon was a major turning point in Jace's emotional development as a trans man.
Gideon was a great example of stereotypical but positive masculinity. He was self-reliant but not afraid to ask for help. He was a leader but tried to uplift others. He fought as a defender, not an aggressor.
Jace saw Gideon as an upstanding person and a good friend. For the first time in his life, Jace had a positive male role model to look up to. It made him furious.
"I'd rather stand," said Gideon.
Jace stood up. It was an error. He still had to crane his neck to look Gideon in the eye, and now the size difference between them was glaringly obvious. He hated feeling small. Hated it.
[Catching Up - Kelly Digges]
Gideon made Jace feel hopelessly insecure about himself.
He was everything Jace wanted to be, and seemed to be perfect in all the ways Jace wasn't. Gideon was super tall while Jace was average height. Gideon was athletic and muscular while Jace was thin and out-of-shape. Gideon was charismatic and a natural leader while people tended to automatically distrust Jace.
Jace both admired and envied Gideon. He tried his best to emulate Gideon's positive qualities, but found it difficult because it was clear to himself and others that it didn't come naturally to him. Jace's presence just didn't inspire others or make them feel safe like Gideon's presence did.
What would Gideon say?
Jace smiled. Of course.
"For Zendikar," he said, raising one fist in the air. It felt thin to him, lacking Gideon's armored fist, his baritone war cry, his iron conviction.
[Brink of Extinction - Kelly Digges]
"Vanity?" she said. "That's not like you."
He raked a hand back through his hair, which did nothing to calm its random angles. "I should be at my best for team meetings. Project leadership. Confidence. The idea that I know what the hell I'm doing. And why am I telling you this?" He looked annoyed at himself.
She raised one ivory shoulder in a careless shrug. "Who else knows you well enough to understand?"
[Homesick - Chris L'Etoile]
Seeing the differences between himself and Gideon aggravated his gender dysphoria and reinforced all the manifestations of his insecurity– self-hatred, feelings of inadequacy, and discomfort in his body and physical appearance.
In his time with the Gatewatch, Jace's vision of masculinity had changed to be much more positive, but he was still miserable because he kept measuring his self-worth against an ideal he couldn't seem to reach.
This stage in socially transitioning is emotionally difficult for trans people. It takes time and effort to overcome.
PART 3: CASTAWAY
At age 26, after the Gatewatch's defeat on Amonkhet, Jace involuntarily planeswalked to Ixalan. He awoke on a tropical island with no recollection of who he was or where he came from.
For the second time in his life, Jace had complete amnesia. Just like when he sparked at age 15, his insecurities lingered despite being unable to remember what caused them. He hallucinated illusions of people from his past life, and his subconscious mind projected his insecurities through them.
"You've really done it this time, haven't you?"
This vision appeared whenever the man was struggling at a task.
His shoulders were broad, and his olive skin had a sheen of sweat underneath the shine of his armor. The hallucination was looking over the man's shoulder as he tried to carve a fishing hook.
"Listen, you aren't really suited to this task. Let me handle it." The vision's voice was gruff but friendly.
It came off as condescending.
The man was annoyed.
"I can do it myself."
The hallucination sighed. "You and I both know you're not suited to this. Let me handle it, you go philosophize on the other end of the beach."
"I said I can do it myself." The man let his irritation reach his voice.
"No, you can't. I call the shots and execute, you stand to the side. That's how this works."
The man responded by throwing his hook at the hallucination. It went straight through the figure's eye and landed behind him on the sand.
[Jace, Alone - Alison Luhrs]
An illusion of Gideon represented Jace's frustration due to low confidence in his skills and abilities. No one ever seemed to think Jace was good enough. His intellect, social skills, and physical dexterity were all constantly questioned throughout his entire life. As a result, Jace never got the chance to prove to the people around him what he was truly capable of.
On Useless Island, Jace was utterly alone and could rely only on himself. Jace succeeded in teaching himself to hunt, fish, and build in order to survive. He was not inept at stereotypically masculine tasks, as people had believed him to be. Over time, he grew a thick beard and gained a significant amount of muscle mass.
"You look terrible," purred a voice from above.
The man moved his hands. An illusion of a woman stood above him. She had raven hair, tired eyes, and a disdainful expression. Her arms were gloved in violet satin and crossed in front of her.
"The muscles are a nice change, but you look awful with facial hair." Her lips curled in a disdainful sneer.
The man shook his head, tears building in the corner of his eyes.
"I don't know who you are."
"Of course you don't, boy."
She looked him over. "You didn't know who I was then, and you don't now. Hard to build trust when neither of us trusts each other."
The man decided to stop caring that this illusion wasn't real. He desperately needed someone to talk to.
"Who was I, before here?"
"You weren't who you thought you were, that's for sure. No one else saw through you, but I did. You were never a leader or a detective or a scholar; you were a frightened child playing pretend."
The man swallowed a lump in his throat.
"You can fool the rest of the world with your magic and illusions, but you could never fool me."
The man wanted to sob. Wanted to go back and sleep. Wanted to starve until all of this went away.
[Jace, Alone - Alison Luhrs]
An illusion of Liliana represented Jace's gender dysphoria and impostor syndrome.
Despite everything he had achieved so far on Useless Island, his subconscious mind still held feelings of self-doubt. Part of Jace's mind wondered whether or not he was ever truly suited to being a man, telling himself he "looks terrible" and "awful with facial hair". Again, Jace's maturity and experience are denied when the illusion infantilizes him by calling him a "boy" and "a frightened child playing pretend". This vision was an expression of Jace's fear that he was inherently unfit for masculinity and the roles he wanted to fill as a man.
Unlike the first time Jace had amnesia, though, there were no real people around to reinforce his insecurities. Being alone meant Jace had no one to compare himself to. This gave him the opportunity to truly have faith in himself. Rather than trying to copy someone else's example of masculinity, he was creating his own.
The man opened his eyes, and saw a vision of himself standing on top of the water in front of him.
The image had a blank expression on its face, but was otherwise identical to the man himself, standing calmly—impossibly—on the surface of the water.
The man's jaw fell open in shock.
The illusion appeared solid as flesh, and its detail was astonishingly accurate. The man was amused he did not remember his name but remembered the exact details of his own body: muscles toned, stubble on its face, blistered sunburn on its bare shoulders. He even saw its scars—his scars—the little bookmarks of a life well-lived.
[Jace, Alone - Alison Luhrs]
All the effort he had taken to change himself showed outwardly on his body, and it was very gender-affirming. He was happy to see his muscles and facial hair and sunburn. I don't know how else to say this, but Jace being proud of "his scars" just has super transgender connotations. When Jace saw his scars, he appreciated them as proof of his ability to change and adapt– proof of his survival.
One of the most meaningful and symbolic moments in Jace's story is his decision to leave Useless Island. He built a raft and sailed away, uncertain of his future but determined and unafraid. Among the items he packed for his journey was his old blue cloak, unaware of the meaning it previously held for him. Jace encountered a storm soon after leaving, and all the items he brought with him were lost or destroyed, including his cloak. But he wasn't upset. He didn't miss it. To the Jace of Useless Island, it was nothing more than a piece of fabric. The Jace of Useless Island was comfortable in his body, and had no need for a dysphoria hoodie to hide from himself or anyone else. By letting his cloak be destroyed, Jace let go of his insecurities.
Vraska found Jace washed up on a rocky island and accepted him into her pirate crew. Jace was eager to help, using his tinkering ability to fix telescopes and compasses. He also used his illusion magic to make The Belligerent invisible during a raid, and even fought vampires with the crew.
People need to have loved ones in their lives who make them feel accepted and respected. It's absolutely critical for a person's emotional health, and especially for trans people, whose close support networks are often insufficiently small or entirely absent. When you feel ashamed of yourself because you're constantly being criticized, when you live in fear of the world around you because you're hated, it's difficult even to simply exist. Having just one person who truly makes you feel safe makes a world of difference.
This is why it was so important that Vraska, the only person on Ixalan who knew Jace before his amnesia, didn't judge him based on his past. She didn't try to tell Jace who he used to be or who he should be. The crew of The Belligerent allowed Jace to be himself, and they cared about the qualities he had, not the ones he lacked. This key difference in how people treated Jace on Ixalan is what allowed him to thrive.
In The Flood, Jace fell down a waterfall and hit his head on a rock. The injury triggered a reversal of his amnesia. After Jace got his memories back, he reflected on the difference between his past and present selves.
"I wouldn't have had the strength to climb this a year ago," Jace said with a little bit of pride. "Or if I did, I probably would have passed out halfway up."
"You weren't that out of shape when I last saw you," Vraska teased.
"You're ignoring how often I used to use illusions to make myself look like I was in shape."
Her brows shot up. "Seriously?"
"Oh yeah," Jace acknowledged. His expression was unguarded, eyes still red from emotion, a lighthearted tilt to his lips. Unapologetically human. He grinned. "I used to be a coward."
He let Not anymore hang unspoken in the air between them, and Vraska caught his smile as he turned to ascend the golden staircase toward Orazca, one strong step after another.
[The Flood - Alison Luhrs]
The old Jace was always being compared to others. That Jace hated himself because he could only see himself as an inferior version of other men. He wanted to hide because he felt like he would never be enough. He wanted to be anyone but Jace.
The new Jace unlearned that mindset. He realized the only 'right' way to be a man was to try to be the best Jace he could be. Having room to improve meant he had the opportunity to find joy in growing and changing. He was proud of himself for taking control of his identity and putting in all the effort necessary to transition. On Ixalan, Jace cultivated the strongest body he ever had. That new body made him braver and more confident than ever before. And that new confidence made him happier than he'd ever felt in his entire life.
The resolution of Jace's arc came from his transition. All his life, Jace had wanted people to understand and accept his true self. For people to see his true self, he needed to be able to show them. Jace was able to start healing from his trauma on Ixalan because for the first time in his life, he felt like it was safe and good to be himself, so he lost his fear of judgment and embarrassment. Through that acceptance, he learned to be himself, and to love himself, and to love his transness. On Ixalan, Jace finally became the man he wanted to be.
Jace looked down at himself.
The tan was real. The scrapes, the newly callused hands, the muscles (the muscles!) were all his. Jace felt proud of his body for the first time in his life. He must not lose track of it now.
[Wool Over the Eyes - Alison Luhrs]
PART 4: DEEP BLUE
Jace being a transgender man is not just a headcanon to me. It's a textual interpretation that I believe adds meaning to the story and enriches Jace as a character.
My interpretation of Jace as a trans man is rooted in the way his personal philosophy guides him as a Blue character.
Blue's central theme is "Perfection through knowledge." Blue sees the world and everything in it as a blank slate waiting to be transformed. With the right knowledge, all possibilities can become reality. Jace's expression of "Perfection through knowledge" is his journey to become a better person by understanding himself.
Jace chose his words carefully.
"Existence is adaptation to changing circumstances. The self is an accumulation of what one has learned from those changing circumstances . . . Our agency gives us the means to alter our own path. You are who you decide to be. And who you will become depends only on how you choose to adapt."
[Something Else Entirely - Alison Luhrs]
Jace's personal philosophy as a Blue character is "You are who you choose to be''. He believes that people are defined by the choices they make with their free will, and rejects the idea that the self has immutable qualities. To Jace, there is no pre-determined path or destiny for him to follow. Rather, he continually seeks to cultivate his own identity through change.
In my interpretation of Jace as a trans man, Jace holds these beliefs because they're lessons he's had to learn in order to overcome his struggles and accept himself.
As a Blue character, Jace's core struggle is his desire to understand himself. Jace's life has been a constant quest to figure out who he is. Above all, Jace's thirst for knowledge is a need to understand his potential and his place in the Multiverse.
My name is Jace Beleren.
So there was something in there, waiting for him to dig it out.
And who is Jace Beleren? Is he a good man? Is he kind?
He willed away the shape and sat, alone, farther from home than he’d even known was possible.
He’d have to wait and see.
[Jace's Origin: Absent Minds - Kelly Digges]
Having lost so much of his life to amnesia, Jace has often been unsure of who he is or who he should be.
I've always seen the divide in Jace's life caused by his amnesia as a parallel to the 'before' and 'after' periods in my life as a trans person.
When I decided to start openly living as a trans boy in high school, it was like I was being haunted by my own ghost. I didn't know who I was or how to act anymore because everyone around me seemed to see and speak to a version of myself that no longer existed. But I hadn't died, I was just different. I wanted people to see that I was alive and well. I wanted to make myself feel real again.
Like Jace, I was a teenage boy with no past. I needed to rebuild myself, and I had to start from scratch. I wasn't sure what to do with myself, but the one thing I was sure of was that I couldn't look back. I didn't want to. And neither did Jace.
Jace is known for his love of investigation, puzzles, and research, but his past seems to be the one thing he's not curious about. While he does occasionally wonder what his life used to be like, he's never shown a desire to return to that past. He's never put any time or energy into re-discovering old memories or trying to restore some previous state.
When Jace asks himself, "Who am I?", he's not asking who he was before. He's asking who he can be. What matters to Jace is not who you were, but who you can become.
The past is unimportant to Jace, and this belief gives him strength. He expressed this on Ixalan when he vowed the illusions of his past would no longer bother him.
"No more involuntary illusions!" he said, and something in the back of his mind rung with magical affirmation. It would not happen again.
He had control over his mind. He was the wielder of his talents.
Then a thought occurred to the man.
"Who I was doesn't matter . . . because I get to learn who I am now."
Saying it out loud made it feel real.
"Whoever I was is irrelevant, for I will become whoever I want to become."
He believed that with all his heart.
The man realized what he must do.
He was going to prove to himself that he deserved to live.
The man got to work.
[Jace, Alone - Alison Luhrs]
Jace understood that in order to progress, he had to keep moving forward. Letting go of the past is what allowed Jace to live in the present and to have hope for his future.
This aspect of Jace's philosophy is also an important aspect of trans acceptance. Many trans people struggle with making the decision to transition because they fear it's too late. They may feel that way because of their age, because of their circumstances in life, or because other people will remember them differently. But Jace believes that the person you were yesterday doesn't have to be the person you are today, or will be tomorrow. When you understand this, you understand that it is never too late for anyone to change.
It's in our nature as thinking, feeling beings to want to explore and discover new things about ourselves, but transphobes want us to repress our curiosity. My whole life, I've had to fight back against people who disrespect my identity and want me to submit to their idea of who I should be. Jace shares this experience.
Baan regarded him coolly. "You were bullied as a child."
Jace coughed on his first mouthful of food and struggled to swallow. "I, uh, don't remember my childhood." A dozen unvoiced thoughts flickered behind his eyes.
The Kaladeshi raised his brows. "One need not consciously recollect an event to fall into habitual behaviors determined by the experience. It is not inconceivable that one could forget their entire life. I would safely wager that were that the case, the subject would still tend to make similar lapses of judgement, and would be drawn to associate with the same sorts of people." He waved a hand, the swish of an ox's tail dismissing flies. "The nature of mortals is not so malleable as some would naively suppose. A person of religious inclination will always find something greater than themselves to place their faith in. A criminal will forever remain a criminal."
Jace put his fork down. "That's a very...deterministic point of view, Minister."
[Homesick - Chris L'Etoile]
Dovin Baan expressed beliefs about identity and human nature similar to those of the transphobes I've dealt with. People like them think, "You were born a certain way and you will always be that way. You will never be anything else. No matter what you do, you can never truly change."
But Jace lives in defiance of that idea. Jace knows he's capable of change because he actively chose to become someone new. What he once was, he no longer is. Jace's disagreement with Dovin Baan isn't just a difference in opinion; it's a defense of his existence. When transphobes deny our identities, they deny our reality.
If Dovin believes our identities are set in stone, Jace believes we each hold a sculptor's tools. Whether or not you will change is your choice. But you alone have the power to make that choice, and no one can take that away from you.
She sighed. "I don't know how the Golgari will see me when I return."
Jace shrugged. "You get to decide how they see you."
She looked at him with uncertainty. Jace continued. "How we engage with the world is dependent on how we present ourselves to it. We are continuously adjusting to change because if we fail to change, we fail to survive. By nature of you surviving the hell you did, you have changed into someone wiser than before. By nature of you commanding this ship, you've transformed yourself into the leader you always knew you could be.
"What makes you you isn't your circumstance or your past, but the choices you make in the future. Your ability to learn and adapt is what makes you who you are today, and that is what dictates who you will continue to become."
[Something Else Entirely - Alison Luhrs]
Jace's focus on adaptation and self-improvement reminds me of the theory of gender euphoria; the idea that gender identity is defined by positive feelings and what feels right to a person, not negative feelings and what feels wrong (gender dysphoria). You can't be happy if you only focus on things that cause you discomfort and pain. You need to find things that give you comfort and bring joy to your life.
As a teenager, Jace hated himself for his weakness. He felt like being tough would make him more masculine. But when he grew up and gained more life experience and new role models, he realized that was no longer what he wanted. It may take some time to figure out what you want, and you may even find that what you want will change, but the end goal will always be to become the best version of you.
This process of trial-and-error is integral to Jace's philosophy.
We ourselves must constantly change in order to survive in an ever-changing world. Jace believes we are defined by the lessons we choose to absorb from these experiences. Every time you change, you have the opportunity to learn something new about yourself. You have the opportunity to see how you've become stronger and see what inspires you to live. That is adaptation. That is growth.
Even if you feel like you're not where you want to be yet, in Jace's eyes, you have already proven your identity just by choosing to walk that path. You can't just wish to love yourself. You have to choose to see yourself as someone worthy of love.
Jace wants us to see and appreciate ourselves for who we are and who we want to be, not what we aren't. You're a glass half full, not a glass half empty. Your potential is infinite, not wasted. If you learn to see yourself this way, it's easier to be a happier, more authentic self.
Jace's philosophy is what makes his character development a beautifully resonant trans story worthy of being true trans representation in my eyes.
In that moment, Jace noticed a change within himself. The Jace of Zendikar and Innistrad and Ravnica had a nervous energy about him, persistently bored and disastrously introspective, constantly aware of the chasm of absent memory that was always on his mind's horizon. The Jace without a past was present, alert, comfortable no matter the circumstance and ready to face whatever might come his way. He remembered what it was like to be both, but recognized how much more natural it was to be the latter. In the span of a moment, Jace was surprised at himself, and then realized his earnestness of late, of Ixalan, was not manufactured, nor was his mindfulness something he could only access in a state of amnesia. That was who he had always been. He had just forgotten.
[Glimpse the Far Side of the Sun - Alison Luhrs]
PART 5: REPRESENTATION FOR TRANS MEN IN MAGIC
If that all seems like an excessive amount of explaining for why I believe Jace is trans, that's because it is.
My interpretation of Jace as a trans man means so much to me because there is no actual representation for trans men in Magic. Which is, frankly, really wack.
In 2015, Magic's first ever transgender character, a trans woman named Alesha, was introduced in the beloved Khans of Tarkir story, "The Truth of Names."
In 2018, a nonbinary elf Legend named Hallar was printed in Dominaria.
In 2020, a nonbinary human Legend named Alharu was printed in Commander Legends.
The introduction of trans characters in Magic really ramped up in 2021. Kaldheim introduced an angel who uses Xe/Xer pronouns in the story Know Which Way the Wind Blows; as well as Niko Aris, Magic's first nonbinary Planeswalker. Strixhaven introduced Dean Nassari of Prismari College, a nonbinary efreet Legend. And Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, the set's accompanying Dungeons & Dragons book, introduced a nonbinary loxodon NPC named Bhedum 'Rampart' Soovij, and a human NPC named Nora Ann Wu, a transgender girl who counsels other transgender students at Strixhaven. The Innistrad: Midnight Hunt story His Eyes, All of Them featured an elderly transgender woman named Malynn.
Early 2022 saw the printing of another nonbinary character, an elf chef named Rocco, in Streets of New Capenna. And a nonbinary soldier named Myrel was printed in The Brothers' War.
Seven years after the introduction of Alesha, Magic acknowledged that trans men exist for the first time ever in May 2022, when the 'Pride Across the Multiverse' Secret Lair Drop was announced, just a few days after I began writing this article.
This Secret Lair Drop had eight cards featuring art, all by LGBTQ+ artists, that showcase the strength of the LGBTQ+ community in the Magic Multiverse. This celebration of diversity was beautiful, heartwarming, and inspiring in its entirety. Notably, it also featured two trans men in its art. In the new art for "Bearscape'', one of the men is depicted with scars from top surgery (gender-affirming surgery to flatten his chest). And in the new art for "Alesha, Who Smiles at Death", Alesha reaches out to support a young transgender man wearing a chest binder.
As a transgender man myself, I'd been waiting forever to see representation for trans men in Magic. I was happy… and then I wasn't. Two nameless transgender men with no lore appearing in the art for a Secret Lair Drop is just not meaningful representation.
The first named trans man to ever appear on a Magic card was Klement, a tiefling introduced in the summer 2022 set, Alchemy Horizons: Baldur's Gate. Don't get me wrong, I like Klement a lot– he's a very cute character and I'm glad he exists. But it's frustrating that he doesn't even exist in the Magic Multiverse because he's a Baldur's Gate character, and you can't actually own a real Klement card because he's a digital Alchemy card exclusive to Magic Arena.
Now that we're in early 2023, Magic is set to have been around for 30 years without ever featuring a named trans man character on a printed card or in a story.
Trans men have remained painfully invisible in popular media, even as the mainstream has gotten a lot better about representing a wide variety of people in the past few years. Magic in particular has done a very good job of increasing representation for marginalized groups. Magic clearly isn't afraid of including trans characters, which is why the lack of representation for trans men is so disappointing and so baffling to me.
Not having any representation for trans men in Magic hurts because meaningful representation for marginalized groups helps tremendously to promote inclusion in the community. Magic has a wonderful community and I feel like its members genuinely try to welcome all kinds of people, but others can't learn to become more accepting of you if they don't even know you exist.
When people talk about making the community welcoming for people of marginalized genders, trans men are often forgotten and left out of the conversation. When I see people discussing matters of marginalized genders in the community, they don't acknowledge that trans men are just as affected by gender discrimination as other marginalized genders. And I often see people (even other trans people) use the phrase "women and nonbinary" when talking about creating safe community spaces, seemingly not realizing that phrase categorically excludes trans men.
If the intention is to be inclusive, I don't know why we'd be excluded. It hurts to think that people say these things because they either don't know we exist or actually don't want to be friends with us.
I'm genuinely glad I've seen so many other trans people and allies connect with each other through the Magic fandom. But it's sad to not feel that same sense of solidarity and friendship. When I talk with other trans men in the Magic fandom, we're often lamenting the fact that there are no canon characters or prominent Magic creators / community members who are trans men. We have nothing to celebrate.
I think Magic's story and characters should reflect its diverse fanbase. The trans men in the Magic community deserve to have our stories told. Not only so others will understand our struggles, but so they can learn to share our joy. I want to show others who I am, and that I'm happy to be me.
Jace's character shows that people are receptive to these stories, and that in some cases, we have secretly been there all along. I'm just hoping for the day we can step proudly into the spotlight.
Hey do you have any literature recommendations for people who want to broaden their knowledge on the classics and Greek/Roman myths without taking university courses?
So like for people (such as myself) who have read Bullfinch's Myths of Greece and Rome and Edith Hamilton's Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes but want to deepen their knowledge and maybe go to intermediate level type stuff. Or whatever the level above the mentioned literature is.
Well those two books are quite old and skip over quite a few things. Both are very important to our culture, historically, but I'd recommend reading through some more modern popular retellings like Stephen Fry's Mythos series if you're looking for pure entertainment and a dummy's guide to Greek myths.
The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology is a useful reference book if you have difficulty keeping track of all these names and whatnot. It's just a reference book but you know. Having a reference book handy is quite useful. I personally prefer reference books when it comes to checking stuff when I'm doing mythology things anyways. They're generally more organized than the internet.
If you're looking for entertaining retellings of less popular myths, I'd actually recommend going to videos and podcasts for that. YouTubers like MonarchsFactory, Overly Sarcastic Productions, Jake Doubleyoo, and Mythology & Fiction Explained are all people who do a lot of research themselves on the myths they retell and I would recommend all of them to basically anybody. As far as podcasts go, Mythology & Fiction Explained has a podcast version and Let's Talk About Myths, Baby! is a very informative podcast that talks about sources for the myths and has interviews with experts on the subjects. It's also a podcast that is specifically Greco-Roman based.
As far as doing slightly more in-depth research, I cannot recommend theoi.com enough. I really can't. It has overviews of the most common myths, it has pages about god and hero cults, it cites it's sources and has an online library of translated texts. It's just really good. Go clicking around it for a while. It's a lot of fun if you're into that sort of thing.
As far as primary sources for myths go, there's a few places you could start. The Iliad, perhaps. The most recent English translation is by Caroline Alexander but I personally prefer Stanley Lombardo's translation. The Odyssey is a more accessible read in my opinion if you're not used to reading epic poetry. Emily Wilson's translation is especially accessible, written in iambic pentameter and generally replicating Homer's simple conversational language.
The third traditional entrance into the epic cycle of the surviving literature is the Aeneid. The newest translation of that is by Shadi Bartsch, which is pretty good, but it reads more like prose than poetry. Would still highly recommend it though. Robert Fitzgerald's translation is also good.
If you wanna get fancy you can read the Post-Homerica which attempts to bridge the gap between the Iliad and the Odyssey. It's not often read but it's one of the latest pagan sources we have from people who still practiced ancient Greek religion.
If you want a collection of short stories from ancient times, Ovid's your guy. Metamorphosis is specifically Roman and specifically Ovid's fanfiction, but it's also a valid primary resource and Ovid generally views women as people. What a concept!
Though I think the absolute best overview from ancient times itself is The Library aka Biblioteca by pseudo-apollodorus. Doesn't matter what translation you get. The prose is simple to the point where it's difficult to screw it up. Not artistic at all. It is, quite simply, a guy from ancient times trying to write down the mythological history of the world as he knew it. It has a bunch of summaries of myths in it, and most modern printings also have a table of contents so you can essentially use it as a reference book or a cheat sheet. I love it.
The Homeric Hymns weren't actually written by Homer but that's what they're called anyways. They're a lovely bit of poetry because, well, they were originally hymns. They've got some of the earliest full tellings of the Hades and Persephone story and the birth of Hermes in them. They also provide an insight into how ancient people who were most devoted to these gods viewed them. Go read the Homeric Hymns. They're lovely. You can buy the Michael Crudden translation or you can read a public domain translation online. I don't care. Just read them.
If you're into tedious lists, the next place I'd recommend you go after you read all the fun stuff is Hesiod's Theogony. Hesiod, the red pill douchebag of the ancient world, decided he was gonna write down the genealogy of all the Greek gods. That means lists. I'm not exaggerating. Be prepared for a lot of lists. But this work also has the earliest and one of the most complete versions of the story of Pandora, the creation of humans, and the most popular version of the Greek creation myth. So, it's very useful. If you can take all the lists.
The Argonautica aka the voyage of the argo by Apollonius of Rhodes, is also here. That is also a thing you can read. About the golden fleece and whatnot. And Jason. You know Jason. We all hate Jason.
Greek theatre also provides a good overview of specific myths. The three theben plays, Medea, the Bacche, etc. We've only got thirty-something surviving plays in their entirety so like... look up the list. Find one that looks interesting. Read it. Find a performance of it online, maybe. They're good.
If you want to dive into the mythology as a religion that was practiced, Greek Religion by Walter Burkurt and Ancient Greek Cults: A Guide by Jennifer Larson are pretty good books on the topic and often used as textbooks in college courses.
If you wanna get meta and get a feel for what the general public today thinks about Greek myths and what the average person that's sort of knowledgeable about Greek myths knows, the books you already mentioned are good. That's what people usually read. In addition to those, most people's intro to Greek myths generally involves The Complete World of Greek Mythology by Richard Buxton, D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, or The Percy Jackson series.
I've been flipping through the big stacks of mythology books I keep on my table trying to remember if I've forgotten anything but I don't think I have so, yeah. Hope this helps. There's no correct starting point here. Once you get started there's a nearly endless void of complications and scholarship you can fall down that you'll never reach the bottom of. This post is basically just a guide to the tip of the iceberg.
this is me trying
coming back to london and being away from wilbur was hard. fighting your own coping methods and trying is harder.
pairing: wilbur soot x gn! reader
TRIGGER WARNINGS: fighting, yelling, broken bottles, lots of tears, and alcoholism, plus the briefest (one line) insinuation of suicidal thoughts.
note: this is part of the 'tis the damn season universe, but doesn't particularly have to be read alongside it (though you'd probably be very confused if you didnt read it). this part is pretty heavy. not even going to lie, i had to stop writing a few times to keep myself from getting too stressed, really heed the warnings. at least im getting better at writing fights? ao3 version
word count: 5.7k
You and Wilbur hadn’t seen each other in months. It was May, and the warm air was making the days feel a bit more pleasant if it weren’t for the glaring guilt in your chest.
The last time you and Wilbur had seen each other was Valentine’s Day, when he’d taken a train up to London to visit you and surprise you with some takeout and roof access to your apartment — you didn’t actually know you could get up there. He wasn’t able to spend too much time with you, mostly due to your own time constraints, but it was a nice trip nonetheless. When he left, you’d promised you’d come down to Brighton to visit him soon.
That didn’t quite work out. You were going to visit for a full week at the end of the second term, however, once you’d met with your advisor, you learned just how behind you were on your final dissertation. It was incredulous because you had thought you were on track with it, but regardless you had to spend break trapped in the library, trying desperately to catch up on writing your paper on Lord Byron’s work. Then, you were supposed to visit during the Easter weekend, but you were given a paper, due in a week, that blocked any opportunities for travel.
But you were determined this time. You had to do this. You devised a plan, and you found a perfect weekend where you would be completely free of assignments if you hustled. You even got Tommy in on it.
“Hey, Tommy, sorry to call you like this, do you have a moment to chat?”
You heard a laugh through the phone, “Yeah, hold on,” he mumbled something off the phone, and you could make out the sounds of him walking to another room.
“I want to surprise Wilbur, and I need your help.” You smiled as you started launching into the details of your plan, each piece meticulously planned out for a wonderful weekend.
He grinned, “Aw, he would love that. Why d’ya need my help though?”
“Well,” you faltered a bit, “there’s a flaw in my plan, and it’s that I don’t know where Wilbur’s apartment is, and I especially don’t know how to get there from the station. So, I was wondering if you’d be able to pick me up and take me to Will’s?”
“Oh, yeah, no problem, plus it’ll allow me to annoy him a bit as well, so yeah, sounds good.”
You cheered a bit, “Thank you so much, Tommy, you’re the best. I’ll text you all the other details, yeah?”
“Aw, I am the best, thank you. And yeah, that works.”
“Perfect, bye, Tommy!”
He responded with a quick bye in return, and you felt yourself grin. You had been trying so hard to find time to be able to go see him, and this was it!
You got a call a few minutes later from Wilbur himself, and you worried immediately that Tommy may have spilled something accidentally. You didn’t even have a chance to speak before he questioned you.
“Why did you call Tommy with something he will only describe as being ‘important’ and ‘for cool people only’?”
You snorted out a laugh, rolling your eyes a bit, “Well, hello, to you, too, Wilbur.”
“Hi, darling, I hope your classes went well today,” he rushed out, “Now answer my question.”
“I just had a question for him, Will.”
“One that you couldn’t ask me?” You could hear the pout in his voice.
“Nope. As he mentioned, it's for cool people only.”
He let out a gasp, indignation clear in his voice, “Darling, how could you? I am much cooler than Tommyinnit.”
You could faintly make out the sound of Tommy yelling at Wilbur in the background.
“Don’t worry, alright?” You laughed, “It was just something only he could really answer.”
“Are there questions that exist that only that gremlin child can answer?”
“Believe it or not, yes.”
Wilbur whined on the other side of the phone, “Love, you know he’s going to hold this over me for months, right?”
“Oh, I’m aware.”
“Well, if I’m going to ask a Minecraft-related question,” you lied cooly, “it’s better to ask a professional, isn’t it?”
He was silent for a long moment. “...I am a professional.”
“Will, we’ve played Minecraft together for years. You’re good, but even I could beat you at PVP.”
He groaned, “Is this some ploy? Are you messing with me?”
“Is it wrong for me to try and get closer to your best friend by asking him questions about his interests?” Okay, truthfully, that was a low blow. But the surprise would make it worth it.
“I guess not.” He chuckled, “Sorry, I’m just annoyed about how smug he’s going to be about this.”
“Don’t apologize. You know I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to chat with you, anyway.”
“I wouldn’t either, love,” you could hear the smile in his voice, and the vague sound of Tommy speaking to someone. From over the phone, the room sounded louder than before.
“Is… something going on over there?” You chuckled, trying to hide the nervousness in your tone. You didn’t even know why you were nervous. Something was just gnawing at the back of your brain, and for some reason, you just felt… tense now.
“Oh, uh,” he paused, and you could hear more people talking now, “sort of. It’s nothing big or anything just, uh, Tommy’s having some friends over is all. He and I have been hanging out for a bit today, but we’re just at his now, so he invited a few people over and stuff.”
You nodded quietly. You couldn’t help the sadness you felt fill your chest. You were trying to be there, but it was still hard to hear about all the things you were missing out on, all the times you missed him, and stories and inside jokes you would never truly understand.
“Right, okay. Well, I-I’ve got to get back to studying, anyway, so.”
“Darling, it’s nothing, really-”
“No, it’s not an excuse or anything,” It was, “I-I just… ‘m busy, is all, so I’ll let you hang out.”
You were both silent. He knew you were lying, and you could tell. But he wouldn’t call you on it. Not now. Not when you hadn’t seen each other in months and every slight felt like a balancing act, trying to keep the other from pulling away. You were so excited a moment ago, and you didn’t mean for the sadness to overtake your entire conversation. You just couldn’t help sometimes how every conversation, every time you heard him talk about the things he was doing, cut you open more and more. He didn’t mean to, and you would never hold it against it but almost every conversation opened the wound a bit further.
He spoke up after a minute, “Okay, well… good luck studying, and text me when you’re done,” he paused, voice softer, “I love you.”
You bit your lip, unable to hide the guilt bubbling in your chest at his solemn tone, “I will. I love you too.”
You hung up quickly, setting your phone down on your desk. You placed your head in your hands, taking a shaky breath and fighting off the tears in your eyes. It would be easier, soon. You’d see him in a week. You tried to console yourself.
You wouldn’t admit it out loud to Wilbur, no matter how much he asked, but you weren’t entirely adjusting well to being back here, without him. The first week, you could only fall asleep if he was on the phone with you. Then, there was one night where he fell asleep before you could call. You ended up turning to an older sleep method, knowing that you needed to get to bed in order to be able to make it to classes. Before you knew it, your room became littered with empty bottles you barely had the energy to clean up. It was an interesting dichotomy, the clear vodka bottles piling on your nightstand and the white Panadol bottles piling on your sink and in your backpack. You were mostly lucky the weekend he came for Valentine’s Day, because you had forced yourself to clean up your room a few days before, meaning there was only one half-empty bottle of vodka on your shelf, and a single bottle of Panadol left on your sink (though there were numerous more inside your school bag).
You weren’t completely lucky, though. Your weekend with Wilbur was almost entirely perfect. Until the end. Every time you thought back to the end, you watched the memory as if it wasn’t you, as if you were a watcher, not the one actually there.
You’d walked back in with Wilbur, around midnight. The apartment was mostly quiet, except for one of your roommates who was standing in the kitchen, fixing themselves a drink. When they heard you enter, they turned, perking up a bit.
“Y/N, hey, could I borrow some vodka? I ran out.”
You’d nodded, “Yeah, I’ll grab it, hold on.”
While you’d gone to grab the bottle, Wilbur took his coat off, your roommate lightly chatting with Wilbur while you walked to your room and back. You’d only caught the ending of their brief conversation, listening in as you walked slowly from the hallway back to the kitchen, trying to not wake up your other roommates.
“-mean, seriously, Wilbur, they can even drink me under the table. Every week, they come in with a new bottle.”
“Wait, every week?”
“Yeah!” Your roommate was laughing, and it hadn’t even crossed your mind yet that they were talking about you, “I mean, seriously, once a week, they walk in and one hand has a bag with vodka from Tesco, and the other hand has a bag from the chemist’s.”
You walked back over by the time your roommate finished speaking, placing the bottle in front of them. Wilbur gave you a strange look as you did, going uncharacteristically quiet as you said a quick goodnight to your roommate, bringing Wilbur, and the bottle, back to your room.
You placed the bottle back on the shelf while Wilbur closed the door. With your back turned, he spoke up finally.
“Darling…” he seemed to struggle to find the words, “Are you… okay?”
You’d chuckled, “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”
“You tell me,” he spoke, and you turned to face him. He had a sad look on his face, almost pitiful, and in the moment, it made you feel sick. “You’ve apparently been going through a bottle a week.”
Your entire body had gone rigid, eyes had gone fearful for a moment before you’d defaulted to being defensive. “That doesn’t mean anything is wrong, Wilbur. It just helps me relax, and you know that I can handle my alcohol.”
“Love, you can’t seriously expect me to just accept that answer,” he scoffed, and he almost looked mad. Looking back, you knew he wasn’t mad at you, more just concerned that you were trying to hide this from him. Even so, in the moment, you thought he was mad. While you couldn’t really place why he would’ve been mad, you knew that it made your own blood heat up.
“Well, it’s- the fucking truth, okay? So just- leave it.”
“How many bottles?”
“How. Many.” He looked tense, walking to your bathroom and grabbing the bottle of Panadol, “How many weeks has this been going on? How many bottles have you gotten? If you’re struggling, you should–”
“I’m not fucking struggling, you’re reading into this!”
“Oh, am I? Really?”
“Yes, Wilbur! I am fine, better than fine, in fact, and don’t act like you haven’t been drinking too. You always text me when you do!”
“I’m not against you drinking, but you know how insane going through a fifth a week is. I know that’s not normal for you.”
“How the fuck do you know that? Hm?” You’d practically yelled out before you spoke out again, each word spitting venom at him, “You haven’t been here, Wilbur, you don’t know anything about the way I am when I’m here! Please stop fucking acting like you know everything about me.” You’d gestured with your hands while you spoke, eyebrows raising as you looked at him incredulously, “Yes, okay, fine, you win! I have been drinking more! Basically every night, but that doesn’t mean that something is wrong with me, Wilbur. I am trying my hardest just to fucking exist enough to finish the school year, I am allowed to have vices without it being some big, stupid conversion. Now, let’s just drop it, we’re both exhausted. It’s not going to help to just stand here and argue, okay?”
You’d panted softly as you’d finished. You watched as waves of hurt appeared on Wilbur’s face, and now that the moment had passed, you’d felt just complete, immediate regret as you watched his face fall, staring down at the floorboards.
“Yeah. Fine.” He spoke out flatly.
You two went to bed that night next to each other, still sharing a kiss and exchanging “I love you”s, but feeling tenser than ever before.
In the morning, you two had been able to patch things up, but not before Wilbur made you agree to just call him anytime you needed to relax instead of immediately turning to alcohol. You agreed, and you’d been doing a pretty good job of it, even if you still drink sometimes. But ever since the fight, there’d been this tense air in your relationship, lingering in each conversation, both too scared to overstep and lose the other all over again.
You stared at the bottle on your desk as if it was taunting you. You couldn’t call him, so it was that or sleeplessness. You sat up, shaking your head slightly and wiping the tears from your face, taking a deep breath. You couldn’t. Wilbur would call before bed, he always did now. Instead, you distracted yourself, pulling up your laptop and writing out your list of due dates for this week and the next two weeks, albeit the tears in your eyes made it a bit harder than usual. You wrote the list on a sticky note, placing it on your laptop. Some of these things were easier to knock out than others, for sure. Three big assignments and three small ones, plus whatever reading you had to do in between. Thankfully, only two of the big assignments were due this week, the last one could be left for after you came back from visiting him.
You got started, working on a poem analysis for your Romantic Poetry class and letting your own thoughts fade in the noise of Wordsworth and Keats.
You’d started working on your second small assignment when he’d called later that night. You set your phone up against your laptop, accepting the video call with a gentle smile on your face.
“Hi, darling,” he grinned, and with a quick listen to his voice, you could tell he wasn’t entirely sober. You didn’t bring it up.
“Hi, Will. Did you have fun at Tommy’s?”
He nodded quickly, turning to get comfortable in his bed, “Kid’s a menace, for sure, but yes,” he frowned, getting a better look at you, “Babe, are you still studying?”
You sighed, “Yes, Will, I am.”
“It’s been like three hours, how dare they? How could they possibly assign you so much?”
“God, I wish I knew. It’s like they all just decided that everything would be due this week. I might not be able to do our video chat dinner this Friday. I have a huge project due on the 21st.” In reality, you would be taking an hour train to his place and having real-life dinner, but he didn’t need to know that yet.
“That’s not for so long though,” he whined out, pouting.
You chuckled, rolling your eyes a bit, “Yes, but it’s Professor Brian. He makes us all come to his office hours, so he can make sure we’re on the right track, and I need to go in early before the other students can take up all the timeslots. I need to make sure I have everything prepared for that.”
He sighed, relinquishing, “Okay. I know how important all this is, anyways. Plus, graduation isn’t too far now, so you need to finish strong.” He smiled, nothing but supportive towards your academic goals.
“Graduation will be here before we know it. Still gonna host me that party?”
You both laughed, and he nodded, “Oh, absolutely. We’ll have two parties, a moving party and a graduation party all in one.”
You smiled fondly at him, nodding, “Yeah. That sounds really nice.”
He gave you a look, eyes full of love and adoration, “I miss you so much, love.”
You sighed wistfully, “I miss you too. We’ll see each other soon enough, I’m sure. We’ve waited years, we can do months.”
He grinned, repeating your words, “We can do months.”
The rest of the conversation was standard, asking “How’s your day”s and sharing loving words. He tried to convince you to sleep once more, but you told him how important your work was, and he eventually gave up the topic. You wished each other a goodnight, saying “I love you”, before he eventually headed to bed fully. After you hung up, you looked back up at the bottle. The urge to drink was gone now. And if you weren’t going to get any sleep, you may as well continue working.
The rest of the week went by smoothly. The stress and weight of assignments and your plans for Friday kept you from sleeping properly, which at least gave you more time to work on your assignments.
Friday approached quickly, and you couldn’t sit still in a single class the entire day, let alone Professor Brian’s class. He taught your Victorian Literature class, and he was a genuinely caring professor, despite being a bit intimidating. You could barely focus throughout class, far too excited. When it was time for class to be dismissed, you stood eagerly, but Professor Brian stood in the way for you to leave.
“Do you mind staying a few minutes?” He asked, a kind smile on his face.
As much as you didn’t want to, you really liked this professor, and his opinion of you meant a lot to you. So you nodded, following him to pull a chair up to the other side of his desk.
He sat down, giving you a gentle smile, “I wanted to ask how your paper is going. You haven’t come in for office hours yet.”
Wow, and you thought you were the early prepper. “Well, I was planning to come in on Wednesday since it would give me a week until the project was actually due.”
He frowned, “What day is the paper due?”
You gave him a confused look, responding simply, “The 21st.”
His head tilted back, and he nodded slowly, “Right, I’ve found the problem then. The paper is due the 12th, not the 21st.”
You felt your heart stop. You pulled out your laptop, looking at the sticky note you had taped to it. You had certainly written the 21st. Fuck, you thought, realizing quickly that it must’ve been a consequence of your own mental state since you’d been crying when you wrote the list.
“Oh. Oh, god, I’m-” You struggled to continue your sentence, too distraught. The paper was due in three days, not twelve like you’d thought.
“Hey, don’t fret,” he pulled out his calendar, humming for a moment, “It’s an honest mistake, and you’ve always been on top of your classwork. I can’t offer a major extension, but I can give you until Wednesday the 14th, but that’s only if you come to office hours first thing on Monday. I can help out with some more of the editing work for the paper, but only on that day, and you’ll need to have at least most of it worked out. I trust in your abilities to create a well-thought-out thesis, especially given your passion in previous classes when we’ve discussed Wilde. Does that work?”
You nodded quickly, fighting tears as your entire plan crumbled around you. “Yeah, yes. I-I can do that.”
“Alright.” He offered you another kind smile, though it did nothing to stop the feeling of the world-shattering around you, “And are you alright? You don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t wish to, but you were much more quiet in class today than usual.”
“Yeah. It’s nothing now, anyway.” You sighed, biting your lip to keep it from quivering too much. You stood, pulling your bag on while he nodded slowly.
“Keep your head up, alright? You’re a brilliant student. I don’t like to see you falling behind.”
You knew he meant no harm with his words, but it added to the pit of self-hatred that you were slowly sinking into.
You just nodded, turning and heading towards the door, “Thank you, Professor.”
“Have a good rest of your day.”
“You too,” you spoke, trying to put more enthusiasm into your words than you actually felt.
You practically ran out of the hallway, the air feeling like it was choking you. You walked to a random bench outside, on the edge of campus, unable to stop yourself from completely breaking down. You’d been planning this for weeks, how could you have fucked up this bad? You sobbed, head in your hands.
The tears didn’t stop. The sun was starting to set, and all of a sudden it felt like there were too many eyes on you, so you stood and ran. You ran all the way to the water, panting heavily as you stared out at the river, standing on the old bridge that was always abandoned this time of night. You stared at the water as you sobbed, chest heaving as you struggled to breathe.
You had to call Tommy. You already felt like enough of a fuck-up, you could at least prevent him from wasting his time picking you up.
With shaky hands, you took out your phone, dialing Tommy.
It rang once before he picked up, your sobs immediately carrying over the phone.
“Y/N?” He asked, panicked, “Are you crying, did something happen?”
You heard some arguing over the phone, but you could barely hear it over the sounds of your own crying as you began to speak, “Tommy, don’t- I-” your voice quivered, biting your lip hard enough to bleed.
There was still some arguing happening on his side, but you paid it no mind.
He tried to say something, but you cut him off before he could as the words broke through your sobs.
“Don’t- don’t bother p-picking me up,” you sobbed out, “I f-fucked it. I fucked it all up.”
“Y/N, what’s going on? Talk to me.”
“It’s- it’s stupid, I- I’m sorry. I can’t- I can’t come anymore. I fucked up,” there was sarcastic laughter behind your words as you continued speaking, tears streaming down your face, “I can’t, fuck, I- I fucking ruined everything, I- I was trying, I am trying, but I-” you gasped for breath, one hand clutching your chest weakly as you sat at the edge of the bridge.
“Take a deep breath, come on. What are you talking about?” It almost sounded like he was pleading.
“I just-” you sobbed, trying to muffle your cries to get your words out, “Tell Wilbur I’m sorry.” You pulled your phone away from your ear, ending the call despite hearing his panicked voice through the phone. You shoved your phone in your bag, curling up into a tight ball as you sobbed until you could barely think.
Unfortunately for you, you could still think. Your sobbing had been reduced to slow tears and the occasional hitch in your breath. As the sunset faded into the night sky, you became so acutely aware of how you’d fucked up your relationship. The one you’d spent years pining for, that you wanted to work so hard for. You let all of it fall apart. Even when trying so hard, your trying just wasn’t enough. You stood up, walking to the railing and staring down at the water.
The rushing water felt like it stared back at you.
You gripped the railing tightly, and you suddenly felt like you couldn’t breathe all over again. You slowly backed away, letting go of the railing and trying to collect yourself.
Once you were calm enough, you turned, walking the slow trek back to your apartment. Your eyes were red-rimmed and puffy, and it’d be impossible to hide that you’d been crying even if you tried. You realized off-handedly that you had no clue how long you’d been there sobbing. The sky was your only reminder that time had even passed.
You walked to the apartment slowly, body feeling drained. When you opened the door, you were met with all three of your roommates in the living room, staring at you with concern. One of your roommates, Jayden, sighed softly, speaking into the phone and looking away.
“What’s going on?” You asked softly, voice cracking. You didn’t have the heart to be embarrassed.
“Wilbur called,” your other roommate, Quinn, spoke up softly.
You didn’t bother responding, just nodding and walking to your room. They didn’t fight it, watching you quietly.
You grabbed the bottle, laying down in your bed, and staring at it. There was barely anything left, probably about a shot’s worth. Your hands shook as you stared, mentally waging a war over whether or not you’d take that final sip. A sob wracked your body, and instead of drinking it, you threw the bottle against the opposite wall, watching it shatter and spill over the floor. You couldn’t be bothered, turning away from the door and curling up into a tight ball. You heard movement outside your door, but you didn’t move, and eventually, the footsteps departed. You closed your eyes, lying drained on your bed and letting yourself drift in and out of restless sleep.
When you came to at one point, you could make out the sound of someone picking up the pieces of glass you’d shattered. You wanted to turn, to mumble a thank you to whichever roommate had cleaned it for you, but you felt frozen in your own sadness. You listened, though, keeping your eyes closed. The sounds of each shard falling into a bag, the sound of a towel wiping at the wet spot left by the vodka. Then, there was a pause before you heard the gentle sound of footsteps moving toward your bed. You felt the bed dip, and you couldn’t fight the confusion that creased into your brow. An arm slowly wrapped around you, and you let your eyes open, taking a moment to process. You thought you must be dreaming.
Your voice sounded weaker than you’d hoped it would as you spoke.
“Wilbur?” You turned, looking up and seeing the face of your lover staring back at you. He looked as exhausted as you felt, and it looked like he’d been crying as well.
You sat up slowly, and he did the same, brushing back some of your hair.
“Hi,” He sighed softly, sitting across from you, “You scared the shit out of me.”
Tears welled in your eyes, and your hands reached for him as if to make sure he was actually, really there in front of you. He held onto your arms gently as well.
“What- what are you doing here?”
“You were on speaker when you called Tommy.” He sighed softly, “We could only come for tonight, but we really need to talk. We could wait til the morning if you’d prefer.”
As much as you’d like to have one last good night in his arms, you’d rather rip the bandaid off now.
“No, let’s talk now.” You sighed.
He nodded, watching you quietly, “Can you tell me what happened, then?”
You took a shaky breath, nodding softly. “I was going to come down this weekend. I spent weeks planning it, making sure I could get everything done in perfect timing. But that night I called Tommy, after you called me, I started crying, and I wrote down one of my due dates wrong,” you sniffled, chuckling sardonically at yourself. “God, it’s so stupid. But my professor stopped me after class, and he extended the due date, but he could only extend it by two days. So, I couldn’t come to surprise you anymore, and,” you sobbed, biting your lip and trying to hold yourself together, “I called Tommy and let him know that he didn’t- he didn’t have to pick me up anymore.”
Wilbur nodded as he listened to you explain. He knew you better than you ever wanted to admit. “On the phone, you said… you ruined everything. You weren’t just talking about the plans, were you?”
You shook your head, moving your hands to hide your face behind them, “No.”
“Did you… think that I would stop talking to you because of this?”
You took a shaky breath. It felt like your last chance to be honest while you still could. So, you let the words spill from your mouth in endless streams.
“I just- I haven’t been doing well, Wilbur, ever since I got back here. I was drinking every night, really heavily, and I know it wasn’t good. And I’m sorry for how I talked to you that night, I was just scared and defensive, and,” you took a shaky breath, “every time we’ve talked after that fight, everything would feel different, and I was just getting terrified that my time was running out, that you were going to finally decide that you’ve had enough of the fucking mess that I am. Every time you would tell me about the cool things you were doing, I just couldn’t help but feel like it was cutting me open, no matter how happy I was for you, and now, I just I feel like I’m an open wound that can’t close no matter how much I try. And I am trying. You have to believe me, really, I am trying. I didn’t,” You cried softly, head still in your hands, “I didn’t drink it. The rest of the bottle, I-I didn’t drink it. I am trying.” You felt like you were pleading for him to believe you.
“Hey, hey” he spoke softly, gently holding onto your forearms, “Let me see your face. Please.”
You let your hands fall, looking up at him. You never felt smaller than in that brief moment where you could feel him seeing you in your entirety.
He gently moved a hand to your cheek, wiping at your eyes softly.
“I know you’re trying. I’m proud of you for not drinking it. Really, I’m insanely proud of you. I can see that you’re trying. I’m not going to leave you or stop talking to you because you’re struggling. That doesn’t mean what happened is okay, but darling, you need to communicate with me. Neither of us are going to be perfect about anything, and I know I’m not perfect with it either, but when you start having these thoughts and ideas that I’m going to leave you? That’s when you need to come to me and talk to me. I know it’s hard, and I’m not expecting it to be an easy or quick fix, but I need to know that you know that you can come to me. That I’m someone you truly trust. Because if not, it will just hurt us both.”
You nodded quickly, leaning into his touch, “I’m sorry. I’m going to try, I just- I get so in my head sometimes, I just-” You took a shaky breath, and he carefully moved forward, pulling you into a tight hug. You hugged him back just as tightly, burying your face into his chest.
“I do trust you,” you whispered, “I’m just scared you’re going to see me the way I see me.”
He took a shaky breath, kissing the top of your head. “And I’m just trying to get you to see yourself the way I see you.”
You sobbed softly, clinging onto him tightly. He held you just as desperately, rubbing your back.
“I love you,” you spoke softly once you’d calmed down enough, “so much.”
“I love you so much too.” He pulled away, only to pull you in for a kiss. You kissed him back, your arms wrapped tightly around his shoulders. The kiss felt like breathing, a strong sense of relief in the physical confirmation that despite everything, you didn’t lose him.
When you pulled away, you rested your forehead against his, and you both sat like that quietly for a few minutes.
“I missed you,” You spoke softly, looking up at him. “You said you’re only here for tonight?”
“I missed you too. Even if it didn’t go as planned, at least we still got to see each other this weekend,” he lightly joked before nodding, “We are only here for tonight.”
“Wilbur, I can’t go to Brighton anymore, I have to write my paper,” you sighed.
“Oh, no, I know. I wasn’t talking about you.”
“Tommy insisted on coming with. He was really worried too. He’s currently sleeping on your couch.”
You chuckled, your chuckle soon turning into full laughter as you imagined Tommy’s lanky limbs leaning off your cheap couch. Wilbur started laughing as well, arms still wrapped around you, slowly rubbing up and down your back.
Once you stopped laughing, you leaned into him, relaxing against his chest. He moved both of you into laying down.
“I’ll talk to him in the morning. Today’s been exhausting. Can we just sleep?”
Wilbur nodded, kissing the top of your head once more. “I would love nothing more than to sleep with you right now.”
You groaned, lightly hitting his chest, but you couldn’t deny the laughter that bubbled up in your chest.
“Goodnight, love.” He grinned.
taglist: @shubblelive / @superioritycomplexes / @your-shifting-gurl (send an ask/dm me if you want to be added)
hi guys it's been a minute as i mentioned, i was working on updating the masterpost this past week, moving a large bulk of content onto my panelshowsource googledrive account, because i think everything stored there will be easily accessible and safe long term :)
the masterpost is the same original link it's been since it was established over 5 years ago! always bookmark the original post, not a reblog and not this post, so you have access to the most updated version & its links!
i had to do some reorganising of the post because of tumblr's latest round of post restrictions:
i'm not able to provide many alternative links because i'm nearly at the link limit as it is, but i think what's provided is reliable and you can always send an ask if a link needs updating!
since i can no longer give every series its own photo header, everything is organised by bolded text and bullet points, which will look and read best on desktop opposed to mobile (mobile seems to despise indentation)
a few notes regarding specific titles:
i did add all of taskmaster to my drive due to overwhelming requests, but only s1–4+15 are in 1080p, so i will begin updating the 720p files to 1080p over the next couple of weeks. thanks for your patience! in the meantime, you can watch them in hd on youtube ofc! i'll also update hypothetical as i get those locked down
i...i wanna say something so honest... i really don't care about a league of their own and most of you don't seem to either. it's a huge hassle organising the episodes because — not to say this for the third time in two sentences — but most people don't care much about it and haven't made the effort to keep it archived. we haven't seen a source for a complete series 6 in, like, 8 years. i'm not going to be making an effort to log that title for the time being. sorry if that's an inconvenience, but feel free to use the resources linked in my faq for your own research!
i added all of travel man (720p) and bridget christie's the change (1080p) to the misc watch links post (link below). i'll work on finishing upstart crow and then adding the rest of as yet untitled, game face, man down, and the cleaner!
i will continue uploading as-hd-as-possible versions of cats does countdown to my youtube channel and will eventually get them all on drive, but that's a slow process; i don't spend much time on youtube because half the commenters are tossers and deleting their negativity to keep it a fun space doesn't always leave me in a good mood 😡😡😡
i know a ton of celeb juice is on youtube but i haven't gotten around to organising it into a playlist (at least), but it's on my to-do list!
if you want to contribute to the post, i'm currently seeking these!
ask rhod gilbert
breaking the news (mostly looking for the tv version)
the news quiz (s97–current...i might have a source but it's a slow wip...)
there's something about movies
mel giedroyc unforgivable s03
➭ PANEL SHOW MASTERPOST
➭ ADDITIONAL WATCH LINKS
i'm going to tentatively open my requests (for watch links & gifs) so feel free to send a polite ask for something you may be seeking. it's much easier for me to keep track of asks than dms, if you don't mind sending there :)
okay friends enjoy! ヽ(゜∇゜)ノ
WATCH LINKS MASTERPOST / FAQ / TAGS / ASK
Reissued Post - Backstory
Author's Note: Because Tumblr was having issues when I posted the original version of this, some of my followers are having trouble accessing it. I'm reissuing a few of my side piece stories so everyone can read them.
Word Count: 3,132
When do you think Lloyd realized he cared and had feelings for princess? I recall in the story that the guys would give Lloyd a hard time when princess finally found a boyfriend that Lloyd would be devastated (poor thing 😭) I also kinda wanna know how he felt while she was dating Aiden. Obviously we know he didn’t like Aiden at ALL lol but did Lloyd ever feel hurt in a way watching princess go on dates with him and when she talked about him?
Learning about Aiden
“Why are you being such a space case?”
You jumped at Lloyd’s question, startled out of your own little world. Scrambling, you shut your screen and re-focused.
“Sorry. I was distracted. What were you saying?”
Lloyd’s sharp blue eyes narrowed.
“Who are you texting?”
“Uh… no one?”
He leaned back in his desk chair and looked at you steadily. You curled tighter into the couch on the other side of his office, looking down at the floor.
“I still have that report to do… maybe I should go work in my office. I don’t want to distract you.”
“I’m already distracted, Princess. What’s the big secret?”
“I met a guy. You know that alumni mixer I went to a few weeks ago?”
Lloyd grunted. “Yeah.”
“His name is Aiden LeDoux. He moved in similar circles to me during college. We kind of hit it off.”
“That’s LeDoux, spelled like the country singer? What state does he live in?” Lloyd asked.
He typed the name into a search engine with the word, ‘Virginia’ to filter the results.
“Twenty-six, graduated three years ago, and works for AVT security?”
“That’s him. What did you find out?”
Lloyd glanced over. “You haven’t run a background check on him?”
“No. That’s for when I’m deciding whether to go on a date with him. But I’m curious.”
“Ah. Let’s do this.”
Lloyd cracked his knuckles and leaned over his computer. Your phone dinged with a message from Aiden, which you responded to as Lloyd typed.
“No speeding tickets, no parking tickets. His academic record was less than stellar. Apparently he subscribes to the philosophy that C’s get degrees.”
“Not everyone is academically inclined,” you said.
“But you are. What will you guys talk about on a date if you have nothing in common?”
“I don’t know. Football?”
Lloyd snorted. “Doesn’t start until September.”
“Oh. That’s why you’re not showering me with long winded descriptions of the athletic accomplishments of people I don’t know.”
“You could always mention how happy you were that the Atlanta Braves won the Superbowl.”
Your eyes narrowed. “I know that’s wrong, but I’m not sure which part.”
Lloyd snickered. “If you have to comment, just say that you’re a fan of anyone who isn’t the New England Patriots.”
“Noted. Anything else on Aiden? Slaps on the wrist from university institutions, or other authorities?”
“Ah-ha. He has three parking tickets at the university. And a complaint for under age drinking. You should reconsider the date. He’s clearly an alcoholic who steals parking spots. One of these tickets was for him parking over the line. Disgusting.”
You laughed. “Terrible. He was probably drunk when he parked. Maybe even high.”
Lloyd toggled over to a different page, one that Jake had set up for him. He typed in Aiden’s information and was surprised to see several security clearances. He checked out the company he worked for and found they had several Department of Defense contracts.
Lloyd memorized the contracts and filed the information away for future use.
Just in case.
Date # 1
You were wearing a short black dress with tights and a blazer. He’d noticed the hemline was shorter than usual, but the jet black tights made it work appropriate. The color only served to highlight the shape of your legs. Lloyd had tried not to be distracted. He failed miserably.
It didn’t help that the cut of the dress perfectly flattered your figure. He caught a glimpse of a spaghetti strap underneath your jacket and the image circulated in the back of his head for the rest of the day.
Fuck. He needed to get laid.
You were his friend and he needed to put aside this nonsense. The chemistry between you would never be realized and that was for the best. He sometimes wondered if the chemistry he felt was all one sided. Maybe you only saw him as a friend and a coworker, not a man.
“Has Y/N mentioned that she has a date tonight?” Jake asked.
Lloyd stiffened. “No. Why?”
He tried to brush off the irritation, but it bubbled up throughout the day.
You had a date. That was fine. It was what single people did, right? They went on dates. He could arrange a date of his own, if he liked. With an age appropriate woman and not someone who was starting on soft foods when he was choosing a college. Lloyd’s eye twitched.
He glanced at the clock. If he wanted an update on the insurance investigation reports he needed to catch you before you head out. Reluctantly, he set off down the hall for your office.
Your door was closed, so he knocked.
“Just a sec!”
Did you sound breathless? When you opened the door, he saw why. The black tights were gone. In their place was a different kind of tights, made of mesh with a floral pattern that wound around your legs making them look long and sexy. The blazer was gone and your dress was held up by the thinnest of straps connected to a tight fitting bodice.
Your height was different, which prompted him to look down.
Fuck me heels. That’s what they’d called shoes like that when he was young. As the saying went, ‘you can’t walk in them, but you can wear them in bed.’
“What do you think?” you asked.
“Is this a first date?”
“Do you have any concerns about breaking an ankle? Or perhaps an entire leg?”
The shoes bothered him more than the dress.
You laughed and turned to the mirror you’d hung on the far wall of your office. He watched as you applied a fresh coat of red lip lacquer. The shiny finish made him think it wasn't lipstick, but at the same time, it had more color than lipgloss. He wondered if it was one of those fancy products with the no transfer formulas. The kind women usually wore when they planned on kissing a man.
A vibrant image of you on your knees with your lips around his dick came to mind. Lloyd shook his head to dislodge the image.
“Okay, now what do you think?”
“You look beautiful.”
He genuinely meant it.
“Really?” You tilted your head. “What’s missing? Please, just tell me.”
“Well… maybe it’s the context, but you don’t look like you in this outfit. It’s probably just me. I usually l see you in office wear.”
You flashed him a smile. “That’s perfect. I’m going more for attention than authenticity, you know?”
He didn’t, and couldn’t untangle the concept behind your statement. The authentic you was a far better version than this glamorous photo shoot ready version of you. With a quick peck on his cheek, you skirted by him and down the hall to the elevator.
Lloyd stood there, confused, disgruntled, and irritated that he hadn’t even asked about the insurance investigation he’d planned to bring up. He rubbed a hand over his face.
When he stepped into your office to lock the door, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. An imprint of red lipstick was on his right cheek. He stared at it for a long moment before he rubbed it away with his thumb.
Lloyd returned to his office in a much better mood than he’d left it.
Jake had informed him of your last date, but this time it was Zach who let him know you were going on your third date with Aiden.
Lloyd ground his teeth.
“Careful there. Don’t crack a molar.”
“Would I do a thing like that?” Zach asked.
He was grinning like a little boy with a sadistic streak and a magnifying glass on a bright summer day.
“You’re enjoying this.”
“Heck yeah, I am. Have you met the dude?”
Lloyd’s head swiveled. “No. Have you?”
“Yep. I waited outside, pretending to be on a call, so I could catch a glimpse.”
“No, it’s being nosy. I’m a private investigator. Being nosy is literally my job.”
“Well?” Lloyd said.
“He’s six foot three and probably weighs one forty. It’s like looking at a baby colt - all arms and legs, no substance.”
This was great news. If you weren’t attracted to him this would probably be over quickly.
“Did you to talk to him?”
Zach smirked. “I texted her that you needed an update on the insurance case and cornered him in the lobby.”
“She’s going to kill you when she finds out.”
“I bought him a coffee and did a twenty minute interrogation. He didn’t even know what I was doing. He thought I was just being friendly.”
Friendly wasn’t a word often applied to Zach Hightower. Lloyd got along with the Texan because they shared a devious streak and could lose themselves in the hunt; especially when the prey was other human beings.
“Give me your impression.”
“He’s squirrely. I don’t like him one bit.”
Lloyd focused completely on Zach.
“In what way?”
“He used the phrase ‘I was in a mood,’ and not ‘my mood was.’ Stuff like that. Princess got pretty annoyed when she found me getting cozy with her boyfriend.”
“She probably thought I sicced you on him.”
“She asked me what I thought of him this morning and I had to dodge the question,” Zach said. “Landon noticed I didn’t answer and asked what was up. When I told him about interviewing Aiden, he said the mood thing is a sign of a personality problem.”
Zach shrugged. “The kind that makes you an asshole.”
“She’s going out with him tonight?”
“I guess so.” Zach said.
A long moment passed as Zach stared at Lloyd, expectant.
Lloyd raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“Aren’t you going to say something to her?” Zach asked.
“You’re the one who thinks her boy toy has a personality problem. You say something.”
“Landon said that, not me. I can tell he’s the kind of guy things just ‘happen’ to. The kind that doesn’t realize they’re responsible for how they act.”
“I’m not going to disturb her relationship.”
Zach sighed. “You’re such a bitchy little girl.”
Lloyd sneered. “And you’re a nosy old woman.”
“It’s my job, asshole.”
Lloyd should’ve been suspicious when Zach brought him to a bar that didn’t have chandeliers made of antlers.
Obstensivey, this outing was to distract him from your date tonight. When he found himself sitting at a table on the mezzanine of a place called “Club Violet,” questions should have come up.
Jake sat to his left and Zach across from him. When Zach’s eyes began to stray around the room, Lloyd mimicked the behavior, almost out of habit. The lower area held the majority of the crowd. Its large dance floor pulsed with activity and the bar was packed.
Then, he saw what Zach was looking for. You were perched on a barstool, your arms twined around Aiden’s neck. He was standing in front of you, his hands caressing your hips, straying lower than they ought to.
Lloyd’s breath hissed. “Jake, if I throw Zach head first over this railing, do you think he’ll die?”
“Huh?” Jake’s head snapped up from his phone. He stared. “What?”
“I could just snap his neck with my bare hands.” Lloyd’s tone was conversational.
Jake looked between them and then back to his phone. “Landon will be here any minute.”
“Off topic, boy wonder,” Lloyd grumbled.
“It’s relevant. We need two of us to break you up.”
“He’s been waylaid,” Zach said.
Lloyd glanced down and saw that your position had changed. You’d let go of your boyfriend to speak with a newcomer. Even from a distance in dim lighting, he could identify Landon’s fade haircut and the military straight posture.
He snarled at Zach, who returned a Cheshire cat grin.
“Well, well, well… look who's coming up the steps.”
Lloyd didn’t need to look. He knew you’d be on your way over. He covered his eyes and groaned.
“I’m blaming you for everything. Everything.”
“Why are you guys playing the role of protective older brothers?” Jake asked.
“Because Aiden’s a squirrely little punk,” Zach said. “See? He isn’t even coming with her.”
Lloyd uncovered his eyes and frowned when he saw Zach was right. Aiden was still at the bar. He’d turned to a girl with raven’s wing hair and was chattering away, looking suspiciously like he was trying to pick her up. His eyes narrowed as something cold moved in his chest.
You arrived on the second level with Landon and were rapidly approaching.
“What’s our cover story?” Jake asked.
“No cover story,” Zach said.
At least Zach was being straightforward, even if he was obnoxious. Lloyd tossed back half of his bourbon and hoped some liquid courage would take the edge off.
Your eyes cut to Zach when you stopped at the head of the table.
“What are you? The Gladys Kravits of Bishop & Howard?”
The big, blond Texan flashed a smile.
“Why thank you, sweetheart. In my profession, that’s the highest compliment one could hope to achieve.”
With an exasperated groan, you dropped into the chair beside Zach, and turned to Lloyd with an expectant expression.
“Can’t you collar him?”
“I’ve tried. Shock collars, choke chains… Nothing has worked.”
Zach slung an arm around the back of Princess’ chair.
“Your boyfriend is an asshole. Landon? You talked to him.”
“Just for ten seconds.”
You shared a look with the dark haired man and slanted Zach a sidelong glance.
“You’re paranoid. I think you should see someone about that.”
He laughed. “I have. They can’t fix me.”
It was annoying that Zach’s arm had moved forward on your chair and was now pressed against your back. Did he think he was your best friend, rather than Lloyd? He had the urge to kick the other man under the table.
You turned to Jake.
“What do you think?”
“I think you’re right. These two,” he gestured to the older men, “are crazy. I think it’s age.”
“Shut up, punk. I can kick your ass any day of the week,” Zach said.
It was pretty much true. Zach only had two inches in height on the young man, but it was the solid 60 pounds of muscle that made him an immovable force. You couldn’t see the weight until he took off his jacket and even then, there was only a hint of the musculature. Zach never wore clothing that drew attention to his physique. He let it come as a nasty surprise to anyone stupid enough to mess with him.
You were bantering with the Texan about him being your nanny. Lloyd watched closely and all he could see in Zach’s behavior was a paternal kind of affection. He knew a thing or two about Zach and because of that, he doubted there were any hidden motivations behind his actions.
What about Aiden had triggered Zach’s instincts? The way he talked. The lack of ownership of behavior. Lloyd tried to evaluate that on its own, treating it as fact. He could see the issue Zach was insisting was such a problem. Sitting there with the others bantering around the table, Lloyd turned his thoughts inward, pretending to present as he ran through the logic in his mind.
He was paying enough attention to the conversation to notice you were gently trying to soothe Zach’s nerves. It seemed to be working, too. Landon was watching you closely and asking questions from interrogation school 101. By the time you left the table, pausing to hug Zach and reassure him that you were totally fine and had listened to all of his red flags, Lloyd had come to a decision.
“What do you think?” Zach asked Landon when you were gone.
“I’m not sure. He seems insecure but hey, some guys of his age just are.”
Zach groaned and shook his head. He picked up his beer and tilted it at Lloyd in a salute.
“Look at the benefits of being nosy. I talked some sense into her.”
Lloyd grunted. He waited for the right moment to corner Landon alone. He caught his shoulder and turned him away from the bar, where he’d been heading.
“Come on. You don’t need another beer.”
“Excuse me?” Landon demanded.
“I want to talk to this Aiden kid. If Zach’s this worried about him, we need to check him out.”
“When did this become ‘we,’ rather than just you,” Landon asked.
“Hurry up, we’re losing him.”
Aiden was heading toward the door and the crowd prevented them from following as closely as they would have preferred. By the time they hit the sidewalk, Aiden was out of sight. Lloyd spun around, scanning the area.
“Shit. We lost him.”
“Is that him?” Landon asked.
He searched the crowd for a tall, thin man but didn’t find him.
“With the blonde.”
Lloyd’s eyes narrowed on the silhouette of a couple standing in the shadow of a street lamp.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“No,” Landon said.
Lloyd was almost ready to approach when the couple turned and began walking away.
Landon grabbed his elbow.
“Come on. Let’s not be weird. If you have something to say about Princess’ relationship, say it to her.”
“What, exactly, am I supposed to tell her that Zach hasn’t already?”
“You know he’s only saying it because he knows you won’t.”
Lloyd paused. “He is?”
“Yeah. We were expecting you to meet him at least before date number three. But she said you didn’t seem interested, so she wasn’t going to bother.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this?”
“Because we talked about it-”
“We? We, as in who?”
“Everyone. Except for you and Princess.”
Lloyd grunted. “Which is why Zach decided to get nosy.”
Landon shrugged. “He’s your best friend and you’re her best friend. It balances out. We get why you don’t want to step in, and that’s why Zach did.”
They were nearly at the entrance of the club again, when Lloyd stopped short.
“Should I be worried about this guy?”
Landon grunted, rocking back on his heels. The look on his face was all the answer Lloyd needed.
“Right. I’ll look into it.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hi, I was wondering what's your opinion on levelling up your life by looking for a wealthy partner? I was watching a video a few days ago on etiquette, elegance ( the video had more points included) and the lady was talking about networking and visiting places like the South of France, certain spots in Greece, high end places where mostly the wealthy have access, meeting people on yachts... thing is ... most of the places mentioned were mostly for partying and are known for having escorts visiting them, or rich wannabes, so following these advices can do more worse than good. Same for meeting people in rich type of locations. Rich people have a very different mindset, and a lot of them scrunch their noses is they find out you're actually not wealthy, even though you afford to visit a certain place, as for yacht parties etc, there are a lot of incidents with women who are told to partake in sexual activities and are nothing more than some meat for those rich men .
Hi love. I think that the best way to "level up your life" is to create a meaningful life for your life – regardless of whether you desire to have a partner or not. Your skills, habits, life experiences, social/professional connections, and mostly importantly, the person you become through this self-development process can never be taken away from you. A partner can lose to leave at any time ultimately for any reason, whether it's a rational/ ethical one or not. If you desire partnership generally, I say you want to date people who are compatible with the person you're working towards becoming, but it is on you to be discerning and become the ideal match for the partner you're desiring. Otherwise, you're placing unrealistic expectations on someone else. If the gender roles were reversed, why would a man want to date someone who doesn't have a similar perspective on life and shared values like education, remaining cultured, worldly, and fostering a well-connected network? Success relationships thrive because they're built on shared values and compatibility.
Being able to afford a trip to Paris is different than understanding the culture of the city, work by French authors who sat at the café writing their philosophical texts based on the social/political dynamics surrounding them, or the history of the 12th-century fortress that houses some of the city's most influential art & sculptural creations in the world (and the history/significance behind them, too).
So, if you don't share cultural/educational/lifestyle compatibility with a love interest, the one common link you may have is sexual attraction, and a mutual value or skillset you're likely to share is sex (which offers some sort of power and access to both individuals).
These "marry a rich man to solve your problems, but don't sleep with them until they fund your lifestyle" peddlers reek of internalized misogyny and sound like the relationship version of a "get rich quick" scheme.
If you want to have casual sex with "wealthy" men for the thrill of the experience and temporary access to their world, I say go for it if you desire to explore this curiosity. But understand these experiences should be taken at face value. These encounters don't define you as a person in any way (except for likely being physically attractive and having an extroverted personality). All relationships/sexual and romantic dynamics operate under the mutual benefit partners provide each other. Compatibility of needs – lifestyle-wise, socially, sexual, values, and education/skill-wise, etc. trump everything.
Rant over, but hope this helps for some people who are heading down this strange sugar daddy-esque rabbit hole.
have some matt murdock headcanons to share?
oh man, yeah, i got a few :joy:
re: matt's senses - i'm a firm believer that they can easily exhaust him when used at length or intensely (see dd. vol 5 issue 14 where matt develops a nosebleed by trying to listen so hard for the absence of sound in order to find blindspot / muse). extended use of his senses to navigate and fight leaves him thorougly exhausted if he doesn't moderate himself (and we know matt is aces at moderation). because of this, his skills & training in being able to expertly navigate in traditional ways as blind people do is incredibly important. following a few days stretch of constantly vigilantism, matt just wants to check out and in order to get around relies on the skills he learned in his O&M classes back in the day.
re: matt's cowl that only covers half his face - this was intentional. yeah, it might make it easier to recognize him, to put two and two together that matt murdock is daredevil, but being a disabled man, matt knows how inaccessibility can disparige and increase stigma and ableism. by only wearing half a cowl, matt's able to better assist the Deaf and HOH within his city. Hearing loss is not something that matt can easily detect with his own senses, and if he covered his mouth he'd be removing his help from this community of people.
@ live action: always expressed displeasure at nelson & murdock being on the second floor with no elevators. again, a roadblock being truly accessible.
firm believer that matt murdock is pansexual demiromantic (always pretty quick to sleep with people but takes that deeper emotional connection to form that last relationship).
two main reasons matt refuses to having a seeing eye dog: 1. the overall assault having a dog would have on his senses ie. loud, smelly and they shed. 2. obtaining a seeing eye dog is an unnecessarily difficult and usually expensive process and he wants those trained dogs to go to other blind individuals who need that mobility aid more than him.
off the previous point: matt also makes a yearly contribution to 'the seeing eye' a foundation that provides specially bred & trained dogs to the blind. a non-profit that relies on donations, matt keeps his anonymous, not needing the recognition. (the amount varies, but in the comics where matt & foggy have a pretty successful law firm it's a sizeable donation).
at his confirmation, matt chose joseph as his name. st. joseph was chosen by god to care for mary & jesus because of joseph's love for god. he was also a man of great compassion for others and his desire to protect people was honorable.
matt dislikes lent - not because of sacrificing a luxury to show his faith but because of the weekly fish fries that a large number of churches hold. it's the entire city smells like a fast food grease trap.
doesn't own a lot of books due to the size in which braille books are in respect to the printed versions. he has a couple, mostly his favorites that he keeps, as well as a lot of his law texts - which are unruly and massive, but they were a bitch to carry and remind him of how he became a lawyer. he doesn't really reference them much, since they are quickly outdated and obtaining more recent versions in braille is difficult. this is one area where matt depends on electronic copies/screen reader technology to stay up to date.
in dd vol 6 issue 8 matt mentions that reading in braille reminds him of work and enjoys audiobooks for pleasure. he's picky about the ones he listens too, wanting a good plot and a nice narrator to listen to. he only listens to them when there's true downtime, it's not something he plays on commutes or while on patrol. they're reserved for the pleasure of relaxation.
also, he enjoys being read to, especially from people he cares about and is close with. it doesn't matter what it is, listening to his loved ones voice will always calm him down even when anxiety and depression feel like they will tear him apart.
there are two separate issues of dd comics where matt doesn't say a word the entire issue. i cannot remember which ones, i know one is from the 80's when doctor fear has the entire city infested with demons and idr the other but i know it exists. BUT, there are days where everything is just so overwhelming that matt doesn't need to add his own voice to the mix and doesn't say a word - his quiet days.
his love language is words of affirmation - the boy just rly needs to hear that he's doing a good job at things.
it doesn't take a lot of alcohol or other drug to get matt drunk/high. what someone might consider tipsy, matt feels is closer to a stage of drunk. his blood alcohol content is still the same as another individual of his size drinking the same amount. so, matt can still go drink-for-drink but he seems like he can't hold his liquor as well as a "normal" person.
dislikes texting, especially with people who don't know proper etiquette when texting someone who uses a screenreader. strings of emojis become incomprehensible nonsense and he won't bother listening to the end if he has to listen to "winking face with tongue winking face with tongue winking face with tongue" over and over.
okay, i think that's where i'll call this, i could keep going forever, but thank u for the ask !!
he/him, it/its, xe/xyr. ND disabled transfag, gay trans boy. not putting your age in your bio is online privacy 101 but for those who need to know i am over 18.
no DNI but i do block liberally. this is a strictly inclusionist space and i will not tolerate presuming to know someone else's experiences better than they do or demonization (etc.) attached to any identity. in particular i would like to mention that those with paraphilias and paraphilic disorders are welcome here. yes, even the big three.
I always want my blog to be more accessible, and welcome feedback or suggestions on how to do so.
If I add an image description to your post, please edit it in with or without credit. If you want to reblog a different chain/version of a post I've added a description to, please copy the relevant description into your reblog, again with or without credit.
If you want to include my tags in your reblog, please either copy/paste or describe your screenshot.
Tagging system is in the works, I have a few running tags but they're not very consistent. If you want me to tag something, ask me and I will either tag it or tell you that I won't.
# undescribed : for any image or video that isn't described
# description implied : for when there isn't an ID explicitly written out, but it's easy to infer the image from the rest of the post
# image incidental or irrelevant : for when a post can be understood without any of the (undescribed) images
# described : (inconsistent) for when an image or video is described
# id in alt : (inconsistent) for when an image is described in the alt text
# captioned : video may not be transcribed or described, but you can get all necessary information from either the video or the audio, without needing the other. if there's small differences between captions and audio i may tag this and then add a second tag with what the differences are rather than type a full description.
# minimal audio : for when a video can be understood without the audio. i may add a short description of the audio in the tags rather than a full description.
note: i'm in the process of rethinking how i tag for videos, and will likely do more to separate out the visual and audio components in my tagging, as those are (in)accessible to separate groups of people. i'm going to continue using these tags for now but may be adding new ones and updating this in the future.
# no plaintext : (inconsistent) for posts with cursive, zalgo, more than a few words in all caps or colour, leetspeak, heavy typing quirks, or any other form of text that may not be easily readable or screenreader friendly, and that don't have a plaintext version included
# plaintext : (inconsistent) for posts with any of the above that have a plaintext version included
# flashing : (inconsistent) for flashing lights
# eyestrain : (inconsistent) for stuff that seems eyestrain-y
# unreality : (inconsistent) for unreality
# unreality maybe : (inconsistent) for stuff that i'm not sure whether or not is unreality, which is more often than being sure
note: may add a tag for stuff that isn't real but is more of a bit that doesn't fall into typical unreality triggers - think promotional posts for things that don't exist, onion headlines, and the like. The closest i have right now is # satire but that doesn't feel quite right for everything in this category.
# faggotry-enjoyer original : for my posts
# faggotry-enjoyer asks : for asks
# faggotry-enjoyer additions : for when i add in the text of a reblog rather than just tags, excluding image descriptions
# horny on main : what it says on the tin
quite a few others that are primarily vibes-based and which i barely keep track of in my head.
Best Sumeru theory I’ve seen so far
(https://bbs.nga.cn/read.php?tid=32870139). Below is my translation of the post:
I studied the English version of the Sumeru PV, and then reviewed the other few versions, and now I feel like Rukkhadevata may have done something big in Sumeru.
In the English version, the system created by Rukkhadevata was translated as “Akasha”. This word is a phonetic translation of the original word in Sanskrit, but the original meaning isn’t “another world outside of the material world” like how it appears in many other games, but it actually means “the sky” or the concept of space itself. In Sanskrit, Akasha is regarded as the origin and foundation of all beings and all things (since everything takes up a certain amount of space). Later, as ancient Indian philosophy was introduced into Western mysticism in the 18th-19th century, Western mysticism came up with the “Akashic Records”. Basically, in this concept, there is an “Akashic Record” in the purely spiritual “Akasha”, which recorded everything in the universe: past and present, all events, all thoughts. If you have a way to read the Akashic Record, you will be able to find anything you want.
Coincidentally, there is such a record in Genshin: the ley lines. One of the loading screen messages explained how the ley lines worked, I don’t remember the exact words, but I think it’s roughly “the ley lines recorded everything that has happened” (original text from the wiki: “A mysterious network that links the whole world together, within which flow the elements. It's said the Ley Lines remember all things that happen in this world, from the surface down to the deepest depths...”). So ley lines is half of the “Akashic Record” (since it does not record future events). Maybe Rukkhadevata, for reasons unknown, used their gnosis to create a thing that allows humans to access and retrieve information in the ley lines, and after Rukkhadevata died, the people of Sumeru started to use the Akasha system to tap into the knowledge stored within the ley lines more and more, without inhibition or moderation.
Also, if Akasha is really the “server” that connects to the ley lines, that can explain how the Akademiya turned knowledge into a resource and used that to govern Sumeru. Because if the Akademiya is only a research institution that stores knowledge and lets people write academic papers, then it should not hold a lot of power over the researchers. An organization like this relies on the “production” of knowledge from the researchers, but the lore did not mention the Akademiya giving grants to the researchers like in Fontaine, where if the Fontaine researchers don’t complete their research they had to appear before the court. But if Akasha is a “server” that lets users access the Ley Lines, then things are very different. The Akademiya can reserve the power to grant or deny access permission. It’s like if a person wants to write academic papers, but only the Akademiya can decide who gets to access the library, which library, and for how long. This way the Akademiya can hold authority over people.
In the “Travail” trailer, (Dainsleif’s) comment for Sumeru is “in the city of scholars there is a push for folly”. As we all know, messing with the Ley Lines in the world of Genshin never ends well.
Another interesting thing is in the “A Winter Night’s Lazzo” PV, Collei saw Dottore burning a tree. In his dialogue with Columbina, Dottore said that Segment was carrying out a “little experiment in ‘blasphemy’”.
So, if my guess regarding Akasha is correct, then the tree that Dottore burned could be Akasha. Because lore-wise, Snezhnaya will definitely collect all of the gnoses, and if the Fatui were to get the dendro gnosis, they must first destroy the Akasha “server” that is based on this gnosis. Destroying the legacy of the previous Dendro archon does count as “blasphemy”. Judging by the future direction of the lore, the Akademiya doesn’t seem to be a good organization, so if Akasha does have something to do with the Ley Lines, then the current Dendro archon has a good reason to destroy Akasha in order to prevent any future f**k-ups from the Akademiya.
So here’s my bold prediction, maybe Sumeru’s situation is similar to Liyue, where the Dendro archon consented to the actions of the Fatui, and even used the gnosis as a reward to force the Fatui to destroy the Akasha system.
What is the point of making 18+ IF based on nsfw content when you then go on saying actually no nsfw content until you pay! it's to keep minors save! Like srsly i don't know how others my age but i have had credit card since i was 14 and i would imagine nowadays even more minors have access to make online payments (Still don't understand why especially author of text based games do it when there is so much of worse content freely available, but w/e). Not to mention paying for content that is in such an early stage of creation that it's not even out yet, with no guaranty that it ever will even be completed just to access a few nsfw asks is kinda… Most authors have Patreon for people who want to support them with additional contend as bonus, you are basically locking everyone from having a full game experience unless they pay.
All I'm hearing is "you shouldn't be paid for your work". What was the point of sending me this if you decided you're not going to buy it? Why not just move on? Did you really need to spend all that time typing this?
First of all, never did I say anywhere that the game would be free before I stated that the nsfw version would be for purchase while the sfw version would not.
Second, I'm sure minors can still find ways of purchasing but it will cut down a lot, and if they do then their parents would be able to see what they're purchasing.
Third, I really don't see how paying a one time fee for access to the nsfw demo/full game + nsfw tumblr content (which btw, will include drabbles and art which I'd say counts as bonus content) is any worse than paying that same price every month and then again for the full game.
I'm only going to say this once: any future messages like this will be deleted immediately. So go ahead and waste your time cause I sure as hell won't be 💁♀️💅
Dear mutual o' mine (@winterdragoon) filled this out (a while ago) and now I am doing the same! except rather than "fill out" it's more like I just remade the entire thing because the image was such a mess, so it took longer than it should have. Anyway, I tried not to repeat any games in my answers to the best of my ability.
explanations (warning, long):
Favorite game: Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
I think everyone has that game that helped them get their head on a little straighter as a teen that they're sentimental about, and this one's mine. A novel GCN JRPG that uses a card deck building system for its turn-based battles, accompanied by lovely prerendered visuals, a solid soundtrack, and a story that truly felt sincere and comforting. Not only did it hold up on replay as an adult, I managed to find new appreciation for the well-crafted dialogue.
Best Story: La-Mulana 1 + 2
Alright, this one is a bit of a cop-out; there's not much storytelling to La-Mulana. I honestly threw La-Mulana here after demoting it from the "Hardest Game" slot, because I don't have a story I think is the all-time best. However, I do think the environmental storytelling via the tablets and puzzles presented in both La-Mulana games are very clever and well-designed, with both games (especially 2) referencing real world mythology in interesting ways. I feel I'd be remiss not to praise the games a bit. But, yeah, hard to answer this question as it's so vague.
Favorite Art Style: killer7
A game that utilizes good cinematography even during gameplay doesn't seem possible but by god did GHM manage. Just about any screenshot you can get while walking's going to look good as hell. Excellent use of celshading too. A gorgeous game.
Favorite Soundtrack: Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
Another impossible pick from a quality standpoint, but something about the unique, rustic instrumentation of this soundtrack struck me when I first heard it. This game opened me up to the possibility to what game soundtracks can sound like, and it helped me develop some of my music taste. It's also just an excellent soundtrack almost all the way through. Shame I don't really care for the remaster versions of this soundtrack.
Hardest Game: Overwhelm
Whoo, this game was tough. It's a retro-style side scroller in which enemies get buffed after every boss fight while you stay tiny and scrawny, ramping up the difficulty of the game. I'm not sure I'd have the patience to beat it without co-op, which allows you to revive your teammate endlessly, and the game's generous accessibility settings. It's tough! Honorable mention to Downwell, which I never managed to beat or even get that far in.
Funniest Game: Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest
Plenty of games are funny, but few are simply absurd in the way Cubivore is from start to finish. You are a cube-shaped animal, and you must eat, and you must mate, and you will die. Every chapter transition is a screen of text reiterating this fact in bombastic language. So simplistic but so effective. "I like it raw!" is a line in the game.
Game I like that no one else does: Metroid: Other M
Honestly it's been years so I can't really compile the best defense of this game but the amount of ire it gets is a bit much. You can't get through ten posts in a Metroid discussion without someone mentioning how much everyone hates this game. I think there's solid material in the story, even if it's poorly delivered, but I think the issue is no one wants an uncool Samus like I do, so those people were never going to like the story, no matter the quality. Whatever. Anyway from a pure gameplay standpoint the game is very fun despite the linearity. I'll be forever disappointed that there'll never be Another M and Samus will never again do those awesome finisher animations. We're stuck with MercurySteam's lame and unfun melee attacks.
Game I hate that everyone else likes: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I could write an essay about how much I think this game sucks. It's so overrated. It's so bad. It feels made by an incompetent team for people that don't even like Zelda in the first place. The writing's awful and the characters are insufferable. It's unfun. It's ugly. There's no music. The combat's horrific. There's no sense of progression. Enemies just slowly become god awful damage sponges. You have unlimited health. It's so slow. This game takes forever to play and offers nothing of real value. My least favorite game, ever.
Underrated game: Pandora's Tower
This one is yet another prompt impossible to pare down to one choice. As dear aforementioned mutual stated: "every game you play is completely unrated to begin with"
However Pandora's Tower is a game that seemed to have zero staying power. Some 10 years later and not one person seems to care about the game besides me. I'm sure those people exist, but maybe they don't. The game's always been the black sheep of the Operation Rainfall games, so I guess this development can't be too surprising. But won't someone love my heart-wrenching meat-eating simulator with me...? It's the 10th anniversary of the NA release this month...
Overrated game: Mother 3
I feel like there are a lot of obvious answers but I feel like few people would pick this game. I don't hate Mother 3, but I'm pretty... neutral on it. I don't get the love, that's for sure. I feel like the story blew over my head and left me pretty unaffected (and it does not help that I had two major spoilers spoiled literal hours before I would play those parts of the story); without the story, all you're left with is a dull linear trudge through story beats accompanied by a game mechanic you can't even emulate properly. It makes for a crappy experience. At least the spritework is good and the fan translation is top notch. Not a bad game, just not a particularly great one.
Best Voice Acting: No More Heroes
I don't have a lot to say, but I definitely thought of NMH first when it came to this prompt. A punchy script made memorable thanks to the excellent voice work behind it. R.A. Downes really helped shape protagonist Travis Touchdown into the iconic rat bastard that he is.
Worst Voice Acting: Fire Emblem (3DS)
I couldn't care less about the quality of voice work in a game most of the time. I love plenty of games with "professionally bad" voice work, and find some games with excellent voice work never needed it in the first place. Sound direction however? Way more important. I'm not gonna remember the suboptimal delivery of a line from a game with passable at best voice acting, but I am going to remember cringing at how much your characters talk unnecessarily. I didn't find the voice actors to any 3DS Fire Emblem game to really elevate a character, and coupled with AwaFates's awful constant grunting and hammed catchphrase over every new text box and SoV's dull script slowly being read out, I thought it best if I muted the voice volume control in all three 3DS Fire Emblem games. I did not wanna hear these assholes talk, not a peep, and they actively worsened the experience for me, which is to me why these games qualify for "worst voice acting." Runner up to XBC2's six on-screen characters' constant battle crying during battle. At least some of those lines are funny.
Favorite male character/Favorite female character: Kalas and Xelha, Baten Kaitos I
Of course my favorite game has my favorite characters... the protagonist pair of Baten Kaitos I are what make that game so special to me in the first place. Obviously they are a bit of a set so they're lumped together in this write up. Both are charming characters with a great dynamic throughout the story, with Xelha serving as the game's more "traditional" JRPG protagonist who leads the world-saving adventure, which allows Kalas the narrative to be the troubled young man that he is. There's always a fun push and pull with these two, and it's even better a second playthrough. I don't know, these two little guys just make me happy.
Favorite Protagonist: Samus Aran, Metroid series
I went ahead and read this prompt as favorite recurring protagonist, and that's a toss up between Samus Aran and Kirby, so I went with the one that is more interesting to write about. I spent a lot of time during my teens thinking about this largely silent protagonist (I mean, exactly what other female protags were there to fixate on back then anyway, lol), developing her with the sort of sympathies that would appeal to an isolated teen girl like myself. A woman who always ends up alone, no home to return to, traveling the empty cosmos, taking on the burden of saving the galaxy no matter how much it betrays her... her silent tenacity and kindness in the face of destruction and instability... and she has a cool suit and guns and spaceship. Do you understand me.
Sure my interpretation isn't popular, and considering how much people hate OM it'd probably outright piss a ton of people off, but that kind of thing has never stopped me. She gave me a bit of comfort during a hard time in my life and that's what counts, I guess.
Most hated character: Edelgard von Hresvelg, Fire Emblem: Three Houses
I'm disappointed in what a boring choice this is. Edelgard's such a controversial, widely disliked character, so picking her just isn't very standout. I hardly ever even hate characters, honestly, and at this point I don't feel anything about her past thinking she's really badly written and has annoying fans. That said, I definitely did feel a spike of resentment when playing through her route in FE16, as it was an incredible unsettling experience for me because of her and the way she approaches Byleth. That route was easily the worst a piece of media had ever made me felt. It felt akin to being gaslit, and I say this with little exaggeration. Plus, despite how much the game bends itself to manipulate the player into liking her, she's really not... appealing in the slightest. There's a huge gulf between the intention for the character and the quality of the resulting product. Just a lame creator's pet, through and through. Serviceable in Dimitri's route, though.
Favorite Town: Lazulis City from The Last Story
What an excellent and robust-feeling hub town The Last Story had. And what an excellent song to accompany it. It's been a while since I last played this game, but Lazulis City was, while a somewhat generic medieval fantasy town, a very solid piece of game design, acting as the hub and providing downtime and side content between levels. Very fun.
First game you played: Super Mario 64
I'm really not sure if this was the first game I had ever played, but it was certainly one of the first, and the first game I played a lot of, even if just to mess around (I wouldn't actually beat the game until my teens). My introduction to video games was through my brother, and his first consoles were a Game Boy Pocket and an N64. As a little fun fact, the first game I owned was Tigger's Hunny Hunt. Haha.
Favorite Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
What can I even say. GHM just makes such cool games. Ok they had those ten years where they were kinda duds thanks to crappy publishers but never mind that. A studio that makes fun games that drip style and character and sincerity, and home of the only game auteur I respect, Suda Goichi. Feel like nobody's really doing games like GHM does games, warts and all, except maybe White Owl.
Least Favorite Developer: Atlus
Frankly, this one was a toss up between Atlus and Capcom. The latter doesn't have a lot of series I care for, and frankly I have yet to forgive them for the debacle that was the Mega Man Legends 3 cancellation. I still feel kind of mad about that one. Atlus, similarly, does not have a lot of games I care for, but they're also just consistently creepy, misogynistic, and socially backwards in their writing, which is a shame because their games can be pretty good. So Atlus it is. But franky, lots of JP dev companies just suck now.
Most Cheerful Game: Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
This is the first game I ever fell totally in love with and it's just so... cute... Kirby's adorable and would one be my favorite game series (until the 3DS), starting with this game. I cheer up just remembering the first level's background theme. "What about the horrors in this game" well what about the delights. It's a fun game. The music and graphics are lovely. Those pre-world cutscenes are super cute. Who cares if the game is a bit sinister. That's also a bit of a cute thing about it.
Most Depressing Game: Hyper Light Drifter
This is difficult to write about without spoiling the minimalistic storytelling this game has, but this game manages to maintain a dark and somber atmosphere throughout. Environmental storytelling with not a peep spoken throughout the game (unless you count the ciphers), an excellent soundtrack to set the mood, and some events that make you feel guilty about pressing on with the game (but you will continue on, because this game's really fun). Most games tend to lift the mood at times to keep it from getting too heavy or change moods as the story progresses, but Hyper Light Drifter stays melancholy the whole way through. Knowing the director put his personal feelings about his possible death by heart failure without having accomplished anything makes this piece of media even more sad for me to think about. But hey, he's still alive, and still making games! Yay!
Creepiest Game: theresia... -Dear Emile-
This obscure little first-person dungeon-crawler adventure game defined my tastes in horror, I think. Artistically speaking, the cramped hallways, ever-threatening booby-trapped puzzle rooms and creepy music seeping out of those tinny DS speakers do a lot for the atmosphere. And those CGs! Love 'em, they really aided the script. And the writing is simplistic but hit a nerve in my psyche nonetheless. I don't want to say to spoil the story, but let's just say some women get a little crazy.
Favorite Ending: Terranigma
Another prompt I struggled to pick an entry for, but Terranigma's ending is one that definitely took me by surprise in regards to how much it affected me. Just a simple goodbye and dream sequence, but oh did that dream of a flying bird hurt me.
the end! You read all that! or didn't. I'm not the boss of you.
p.s. kind of sucks I can't make this post unsearchable without making it harder to read! oh well. hope no one in the Edelgard fanbase gets mad at me! (/▽＼)
The July 2022 Amphibia Attacks
DISCLAIMER: Awhile back, I privated my Twitter to feel safer, but it still had some things on it that I don't want to cut off people's access to. And while the Wayback Machine is absolutely incredible for what it does, I find it so agonizingly tedious to load up even one page to read. It's even worse if there's images attached, each of which I have to manually open in a new tab to see, if they load at all. So I'm taking some of my old posts and reformatting them for Tumblr. This is STRICTLY FOR DOCUMENTATION PURPOSES. Do not assume these are recent events and do not EVER harass anyone!!!
SUMMARY: The Amphibia Attacks (as I call them) were a set of targeted stalking, harassment, and witch-hunting of four artists in the Amphibia fandom for their private, "problematic" nsfw art. This led to the doxxing of a fifth artist who was at very real risk of death. It's one of the most dire situations I've ever seen spawn from the "anti/proship" discourse, and I had the displeasure of being there as it happened, where I was able to document and collect information so that people could be informed.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Harassment, doxxing, mocking victims of such things, discussion of nsfw art of child characters (but no images shown), liberal accusations of "pedophilia", disturbing audio of the culprit bragging about what they had done with their "fans"
The original Tweet thread on the Wayback Machine can be found here. Everything below the Read More link is a direct paste of that thread and its relevant media (with a couple accessibility tweaks).
I also dumped all the individual screenshots I've used into this Google Drive folder, in case people would like to borrow them or if the combined versions I made are difficult to read for some reason.
Speaking of accessibility, almost all of these screenshots are nothing but text, and I've been working on this for hours, so I'm going to post them as is, but anyone who sees this is welcome to add captions that screen readers can follow.
In the last few days, I've come to understand that all the info I wanted people to know about the recent Amphibia Attacks has been documented by others, BUT they're all separate threads posted across Twitter.
This thread is to provide some connective tissue to form a full picture.
Several anonymous users conducted a coordinated attack against four artists, two of whom are crew members for Amphibia. The invasive release of these artists' private nsfw accounts also directly inspired the doxxing of a fifth artist (a minor), almost leading to her murder.
The "proship" crowd gets made fun of for overstating the "body count" of antishippers, but this time it almost happened. Brownteen32 was a 17-year-old girl living in a third world country where "dishonor is death", and she would have been legally killed for her art.
I'm starting with her case because it was the most dire, and thus I paid much closer attention to how she was doing. Thankfully, Brownteen is safe now, though she has decided to leave social media. I hope she will remain safe and still be able to live a fulfilling life.
The people that attacked BT have many sock puppet accounts, but a thread by @/stopnow98630374 (linked next) suggests they aren't all one person. The original attacker is @/phibbyburner, who at time of writing, is still active. The doxxer is @/ballsybeech aka @/AllBeech.
Part 1 of the aforementioned thread (and the Archive if it's ever needed).
Part 2, because the thread was cut for some reason (and the Archive)
Phibby's priv has been confirmed to be @/booboyapologist, both in these screenshots and in the linked video (more on the videos soon).
Video (and the Archive)
There are also mentions of a "mole" that helped Phibby get the information. I have not seen confirmation of who this person is yet.
Link to the video pictured above (Archived version)
I'm going to come back to Phibby after I cover Beech's actions.
These are the 1st posts Beech made against Brownteen: screenshots of her old Instagram callout against someone else for "pedo" art. Brownteen's responses included in the link so she can explain. I understand and believe her.
There's also these, specifying that Brownteen was 17 (A MINOR) when this happened. These are from Instagram.
I don't know if these are from Phibby, Beech, or someone else.
I really want people to see this in particular. She is BEGGING this person not to do this to her, APOLOGIZING for shit that wasn't wrong, and even calling her own artwork REVOLTING. Said she would get off social media forever too. All to survive!
THIS TOO! Directly pleading for her life, and this heartless monster went through with it anyway and smugly said "that's what you get uwu"! It's honestly heartbreaking.
I'll restate that Brownteen was able to get home safely, and was very thankful to everyone who supported her and gave her advice through all this. Also of note is that Brownteen deactivated for a short amount of time, out of fear.
I am DISTURBED by the fact that someone was backed into a corner like this and almost killed. She deleted ALL her artwork out of fear, tried to say she regretted drawing it, was made to express remorse for it, and all the while mocked and terrorized.
Besides that, Beech has continued to post Brownteen's private fucking photos online with VERY nasty captions.
I'm only linking these so y'all can report them. Make these into dead links please!
Link 1 | Link 2
Hey, present day Starrbar here, THESE ARE STILL UP FOR SOME GOD-FORSAKEN REASON. So I'm leaving the links here to be reported! Brownteen made it clear she didn't want even partially censored pictures of herself left online, which is one reason I literally chopped up my original thread and re-did it with all her photos FULLY blacked out. I know some of the other documentation does have partially censored photos of her, but those people were at least on her side and trying to help. These, on the other hand, were purely malicious and trying to bring her harm. GO REPORT THEM, PLEASE!
Beech had also leaked Brownteen's address, but thankfully that Tweet was successfully removed.
Now, to finish covering Phibby's (current) actions.
This thread, which I have already linked parts of, contains audio/video recordings of Phibby damning himself further in a voice chat. It's painful to listen to if you aren't a remorseless pig like him.
Phibby claiming to have a coherent motive despite admitting in a public voice chat that he just likes to fuck with people for clout~
"Cyberbullying isn't real", also said in one of the audio clips. Constantly mocking the victims and talking about how they just need to "turn off the PC and go outside", as if his entire goal wasn't to ruin their fucking lives.
I think we've ALL clowned on this one by now, so pick your favorite QRTs! Reminder that the rhetoric Phibby based his "reasoning" on is entirely bound to lead to stuff like this. If you dehumanize others by convincing yourself that they're predators, things WILL escalate.
Now, as for the other artists that were attacked, primarily by Phibby, I don't know every detail of that, but I'll highlight a few things.
Phibby's 1st Tweets were just a bunch of screenshots (and a tasteless video compilation) of the artists' private nsfw of "minor" characters.
I will not be spreading those callouts, as they were not meant to be spread in the first fucking place. But I will assure people that the ONLY thing contained in any of them was artwork. Stylized, cartoon sketches of the Amphibia characters doin smut.
The horror. 🙄
The main thing I think I need to say about these 4 artists is that people initially thought that all of them were Amphibia crew members, but that isn't true. Only 2 of them are, the other two are fanartists.
Here's a simple guide. (Archive)
I do know that Sook, aka @/DirdyBongWater, deactivated after all this. However, I have been told that they're fine. Obviously I can't verify this personally, but I really hope that they are.
Alex, aka @/raebits, has also deactivated, and the fuckers are all celebrating it.
One thing that has come to my attention is that a user by the name of @/dilydily292 has appeared and started going after Phibby, with alleged doxx information. -_- This is not okay, and I encourage people to go report that account, regardless of how much I hate Phibby.
The account also fails to prove... anything?? Like, they don't give any evidence that actually connects Phibby to the names and messages they're posting. All around lame job. And again, don't doxx ANYONE!
I think that's all I got for this. I REALLY hope I didn't accidentally post anything that Brownteen didn't want out there. I know other people have already shared some of it (not their fault—Brownteen only told me directly what her boundaries were), but I really tried not to.
Never forget what this was really about. Not pedophilia, not incorrect art. It was about stalking, privacy invasion, and people playing judge, jury, & executioner for the sake a power high. This was an attack, not a tragic outing of "bad artists".
Link to another one of my (much shorter) threads about this (Archive)
And I hope anyone who reads this will believe me when I say this. If you have any kind of taboo/dark fictional interests: You are not alone, you are not wrong, and you are not obligated to live in accordance with the wonky demands of bullies on the internet. You are okay. 💖
Tiny update: It's hilarious that all it took to make the bullies mad was for Alex to reactivate and then sit there on priv with an icon people feel entitled to gatekeep x'D
The irony of the "you're a grown adult" comments too, ah, chef's kiss~
Happy update! The other three artists are BACK and wearing their true selves proudly!! @/raebits is still priv, but they've been back for awhile, and I hope they're doing well. We also have @/FISTRAID, @/bokobokosplices, and @/bangkaigagak (just so no one has to dig around)
“Argument - “Artists will just need to focus on telling stories through video games, animations, and comics.”
I have already mentioned the biggest problem with this argument–the AIs will be very capable of running on autopilot, and they will get just as good at telling stories as they are at making images and videos. They will produce novels, essays, and scripts in amounts that can fill the library-of-babel, each piece a composite of half quotations and unattributed swipings. All this auto-generated text can be processed by the image and video AIs to generate long-format media, and the cycle will be complete, self-contained, and human-free.
This will completely flood the realm of story and the future will find itself overwhelmingly ghost-written. The “anime” that you’ve been dreaming of making since you were 8, which you are willing to forsake all of art to produce, will get the attention it deserves in this environment–none. And when your dream project, regurgitated in moments by an AI, receives no attention, no clout, and no money, you will rest well knowing you earned it. Not even your mother will be able to find it in the unending surge of the Mega Feed. This wouldn’t be a problem on its own- you were otherwise never going to make the thing anyway- except that you will be ruining the market for everyone who is positioned to pull something off by their own efforts. You will gain nothing and hurt your friends and peers.
The idea that everyone will be empowered to tell their story is one of the few arguments for AI art that compels me, there’s a nuanced discussion to be had here, but I believe it is ultimately bankrupt. It is a nice sentiment, and I can empathize with the frustrations of being an artist who feels their skills do not measure up to the scope of their vision– but we’re overlooking something very important here. You don’t just want to tell your story, and you don’t just want to tell it well–you want it to matter that you told your story. The AIs will rob you, and everyone else, of this.
The execution of your petulant “vision” by the AIs will ensure that no one cares about your story, and that it is washed away in the heaving sea of AI dross. Your art already doesn’t get attention. It’s not going to get any more attention when it’s competing with the unending stream of self-generated and highly targeted comics, novels, images, films, games, and songs. As I’ve said, these AIs will not need to be prompted by humans for very long and will instead auto-respond to the ebb and flow of the internet, current news, real time sales, and even private conversations. After all, we have already readied these inputs for them. We all feel a little uncomfortable when our phone shows us an ad for something we mentioned to our friend over dinner, but what happens when it shows you a movie it made just for you about your break up? A song about that careless word from your mother? A finished version of that comic idea you started researching? You’ll start getting notifications saying- “Hey! Check out one thousand finished versions of your dream!” Our ambient digital systems already have intimate access to so many of the inputs that define our taste- in some sense we sold our souls long ago.
So, you may be able to tell your story, but at the cost of its complete irrelevancy, which will likely have the effect of making you resent that you ever had the idea in the first place. Stories don’t achieve their incredible effect simply by existing. They live and die on human connection and intellect. AI will not “democratize art”--that’s just one of the copy-pasted platitudes of those vapid marketing execs spoon-feeding you your own doom. In a democracy, your voice matters. In a world flooded by AI media, your voice has no chance of being heard.
I also want to point out here that the people making these things will depend on you thinking they hold the silver key to your artistic vision. They need you to feel worthless and like you missed your chance to tell your story. That you got too old, or don’t have the time or resources or ability or what-have-you; that way you will need their product. This way you will support them monetarily and, most importantly, you will help them change the laws and sway the culture to allow their rapacious strip mining of all creative labor. They will always be incentivized to make you feel lowly, dependent, incapable, and slave to their kaiju whims.
And when they’re done, they’ll pull the rug out from under you, of course. They have no actual reason to let you have this stuff for free- they don’t care about you. They can say they do but that means nothing. Once they’ve made it impossible for you to make a living as an artist, and you’ve helped them change the laws, and they’ve ostracized you from your peers by turning you against them, they’ll just take it away and sell it to Google and Facebook and YouTube and the rest- because they stand to make billions from them and nothing from you.”
— excerpt from “The End of Art: An Argument Against Image AIs”
Thanks for the ask, @jonsaremembers!
🔁 A fic you’ve re-read several times
Okay, I answered that here, so I feel like I should pick a different fic, and I will. I also feel like I should pick a different author, but . . . see, angsty fics by @fozmeadows have somehow become my comfort food. When it comes to the Scar Tissue series, the recordings by @khashanakalashtar have specifically become my comfort food. My phone doesn't keep track of how many times I listen to downloaded audio tracks, at least not anywhere I know how to access, so I don't know how many times I've listened to the end of "Scar Tissue (That I Wish You Saw)" or the middle of "Lick Your Heart (and Taste Your Health)," but please know it's many, many times.
What the series is about: Kent Parson was abused as a kid (it's really bad; mind the tags). Now he's in his mid-twenties, sort of maybe kind of coping, and a bunch of things happen in quick succession that turn his life upside down but ultimately lead to him facing his demons and getting to a much better place. That's super vague because I'm trying to avoid spoilers, but Foz does such a good job (here and elsewhere) at going from very heavy angst to very earned hope and goodness, and I also appreciate Foz's choices in this series about where to write a redemption arc and where to definitely not. (In case you're worried by abuse and redemption arcs being mentioned in the same paragraph, the redemption arc is not for the abuser, I promise.)
📚 A fic you wish you could display on your bookshelf
Okay, this feels a bit like cheating, because I someday WILL get to display this on my bookshelf, but: "Like Real People Do" by @xiaq. This fic is fantastic, and I am so proud of xiaq for finding a publisher and writing an original version! (The link will take you to the AO3 page for the fic, but the text of the fic is no longer there because a version of the fic is being published. If you haven't read it, I, uh, definitely can't help you with that. Nope.)
What it's about: The story follows an OC named Eli who was Bitty's childhood best friend and is now attending college in Las Vegas, where he meets Kent Parson. After quite the meet-ugly, Eli and Kent become friends, fall in love, etc., etc.
💖 A drabble that made you want 100K more words
I take it we're using "drabble" here to mean anything short-ish, rather than something that's exactly 100 words (since the Check Please fandom isn't, to my knowledge, abounding in true drabbles). I've got three answers to this one:
Anything @weneedtotalkaboutfic posts on Tumblr but not on AO3, including all those headcanons and bullet-point lists. (Maybe literally not every single one, but most of them, by far.) I'm including @parvuls in this list item as well, because Lau and Pav seem to feed off of each other sometimes (and Pav has excellent headcanons of their own!), particularly when it comes to those soft dom!Bitty ideas. (Note to anyone who likes the soft dom!Bitty idea and likes/doesn't mind PB&J: the series you're looking for is Directionverse by Khashana.)
"all i need is a life in your shape" by @zimms. It's a short Olliewicks fic where they're both NHL players (and didn't go to Samwell) and they get together during the 2020 COVID pause, and I told Abby in my comment that I would read the fuck out of a companion piece from Wicks' perspective. But also, the fic is basically made up of several vignettes that take place over the course of a few years, so there's plenty of room to flesh it out even more.
"Without Expectation" by @alocalband. It's a short Zimbits fic about Bitty's checking issues translating into issues with physicality in his relationship with Jack. It's so painful and lovely (Jack, especially, is so lovely) and I'm not sure what a much-longer version would look like, but I would read it.
Get in on the ask game!
how i make my posts: what should be a simple guide
i’ve gone through various formats of posts and i’m going to try to cover as much as possible in seven slides of text so bear with me
— FORMATTING —
there are so many options when it comes to choosing your format, and you can even combine some together which is what i do.
custom (most of my covers and my light academia theme)
twitter (my early posts)
tumblr (came later in my themes)
notes app (i haven’t done this myself but i’ve seen it before)
right now and for my past few themes, i use a combo of custom covers that i design myself using canva, tumblr to write my posts bc i find it the most versatile and easy to use, and twitter for my call out posts!
another thing to think of when it comes to formatting is how you want your account layout to look. a classic is the checkerboard, where you switch between too different formats of post covers like i do. you can play around with this too!
— ACCESSIBILITY —
one of the most important things is making sure that your fonts are readable, especially when it comes to making custom posts.
there’s nothing wrong with using stylized fonts—i’m a sucker for pretty fonts too—but if you do decide to use a font that may be harder to read, i strongly advise you to include an alt text as while. you can see this on my post covers too :)
i normally try to incorporate 4-6 different fonts that compliment each other well: one stylized font for titles, a sans font for alt text, a serif font for other text, and sometimes a few others.
also consider the colour of your font against the background. usually i go for a darker background image and a white font bc i think it looks more elegant, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own style too!
— APPS —
canva. that’s it. the app that will save. your. life.
i use canva for literally everything related to my account and i have since i started it. it’s very user-friendly and the more you use it the better at it you’ll get!
canva offers so many options even if you only use the free version like me. it has so many fonts and graphics and effects, the possibilities are endless!
i also use pinterest for photos and a feed preview for instagram that lets me see my post layout before i actually post anything!
— CAPTIONS —
can you believe i put almost as much work into my captions as i do my posts. what can i say, i like pretty things.
the basics to include in a caption:
a space for what you want to say
qotd + aotd
follower count (if you want!)
a mini promo space
there’s a lot more you could put if you wanted, but i think starting off with the list above is the way to go.
i have font keyboard apps that let me stylize the caption further, and i also use online text divider sites where you can copy and paste the text dividers and add them where you want.
— ADDITIONALLY —
to increase reach and engagement, you can share your new post to your story to alert followers and remind them to check it out themselves!
another thing you can have is a tag list. this is a list of account mentions consisting of followers who have asked to be on it that you post in the comment section of your posts. a simple poll on your story for ppl to ask to be on it works great!
don’t add people to your tag list who have not asked to be on it. especially if they don’t follow you. it won’t encourage them to engage with your post and it’s blatantly disrespectful imo. so just pls don’t do it!
at the end of your posts, you can have a promo slide, commonly called an end card, that encourages ppl to follow for more of your content. i will do another post on how i make my end cards soon! <3