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Twisted Experience and TCW - View topic - Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
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 Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels 
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Post Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
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Breakdown left us with more questions than answers as Woodrow Daniels and his bodyguard ruined the main event. Loop is still recovering from the attack, so Darkness has stepped in for a second chance to become the top Champion in TCW. Former Bleeder Champion Freya was surely about to become Heavyweight Champion at Breakdown, Darkness is the longest reigning 411fed and ECF World Champion in history and Woodrow Daniels is already wearing gold - this, folks, is what we call a pick 'um.

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Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:51 pm
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Linda McMahon
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Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
Deng watched the guest in his office from behind his desk with a neutral expression and carefully clasped hands. Woodrow Daniels, filthy jacket and all, was looking out over the arena through the skybox's huge windows. Now that the show was over, the ring was being taken down in preparation for the other sporting events scheduled to take place.

"This is a lot nicer than Powers' office," Daniels said after a while, "much better view."

"I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Powers in person," Deng replied.

"You're not missing much." Daniels swaggered across the office and threw himself down onto the chair in front of the desk. He planted his feet on the smooth mahogany surface and crossed his legs, adopting a pose of relaxed composure. He smiled widely. "You know, it's nice to get away from all that FWRFed stuff for a while – take a vacation."

"You are not in TCW to vacation, Mr. Daniels."

"Yeah, I know – believe me, I'm all business."

"I certainly hope so, because you do not want to be caught napping against opponents of the calibre you will be facing."

Daniels waved a hand dismissively. "Hey, I watch TCW. You think I don't know what those freaks are capable of? I've seen them in action and I know what I'm up against."

"Then I admire your relaxed attitude. There are not many who would be so calm going into such a match."

"I've beaten bigger, faster and tougher than Darkness and Freya," Daniels said, abruptly yanking his feet off the desk and leaning forward in one swift motion. Deng didn't even so much as flinch, and the smile on the FWRFed Champion's face grew wider. "I meant what I said, you know, in the ring. I really don't see what the big deal is about this place. There's no Mohawks, no Indigos, no Odin Kings – just scrawny cruisers with attitude problems. This place is a freakshow, and I'm the kayfabe killing king. Darkness wants to be all brooding warrior wizard? I'm here to give him a dose of cold, hard science. Freya wants to be the empowered action chick? Time to set women's lib back forty years. I'm the solution to all your problems, Deng."

"Hm. You are certainly more than capable of holding your own against them in the ring, Mr. Daniels, of that I have no doubt. However, you would be wise not to underestimate your opponents. They are tight-knit, and very hostile to outsiders. More accomplished…psychoanalysts…than you have attempted to break the New Hellfire Club with mind games, but none have succeeded."

"Mind games?" Daniels laughed. "Mind games have nothing to do with it – I don't do mind games, I just do the truth. Some people, they can't handle that. They think they're bigger than reality, but I'm here to bring them back down to earth. Darkness and Freya can talk all the mumbo-jumbo they like, but the bottom line is that I'm the best in the world at what I do. I've proved that time and time again, and it'll take more than some face paint and a set of ovaries to stop me."

Deng gave Daniels a tight smile. "You talk a good game, as you Americans say, but I hope that you can play one as well. I have given you fair warning of what to expect. If you do pursue a confrontation outside the ring with these individuals, I hope you will therefore not hold me responsible for what might happen."

Daniels stood up. His own face was deadly serious now. "I'll be the only one responsible for what happens, Deng. You'll know that, and Darkness and Freya will know that. I'll be calling the shots, because my time is now, and the era of the walking freakshow that is TCW is coming to an end. It's the changing of the guard, the sun setting on the empire, the passing of an age. In FWRFed, we throw the word 'revolution' around a lot, but you'd better believe that a revolution is coming to this place. It’s going to be bloody, it's going to be messy, it's going to have people howling in the streets but, in the end, you'll see it was for the best. Sometimes, you have to kill the patient to cure the disease."

Deng lifted an eyebrow. "I urge you not to step too far over the bounds of your contract, Mr. Daniels."

"You knew what you were getting when you brought me in," Daniels said as he leant forward across the desk, "on your head be it."

"I told you I would not be held responsible…"

"Whatever helps you sleep at night." With a whirl of filth-encrusted brown leather, Daniels was at the door and had flung it open and stepped out before Deng could manage a reply. He let it slam dramatically behind him before cracking his neck and heading down the corridor with a jaunty swagger and a tuneless whistle on his lips. A few paces down the hall, he was joined by the towering form of Nike Washington.

"What happened in there?"

"Oh, just some contract negotiations," Daniels shrugged.

"Oh right."

"Listen, I'm going to have my hands full with my opponents – according to Deng, they're quite the little troublemakers – so I'm going to have to send you after Izumi and Blackwell on your own. You think you can handle them?"

Washington let out a disdainful snort. "They'll be no problem."

"Good."

"But are you sure you don't need protection against your guys?"

"What for?"

"From what I hear, they move in some pretty weird circles."

Daniels drew up and stood in front of his bodyguard. "You let me worry about their 'circles', Nike. I've seen a lot of scary shit in this business, but nothing that I haven't been able to handle. TCW has a reputation, I know that, but deflating it is exactly why I'm here. I'm not scared of any moron who runs around in face paint, and I've never been scared of a woman, so I'm not about to start now. They can try all the hocus-pocus they want on me, but I'm not one of their gullible fans. I'm Woodrow Daniels, and I'm TCW's death incarnate."

* * *

"I'm not familiar with this man's work."

"No?" Freya tossed a book across the room and Darkness caught it deftly with his good hand before slumping down onto the sofa.

"What is this?"

"A kid's annual. You know, one of those crappy books parents buy their darling little pups for Christmas? This one's about FWRFed. It's got profiles on all the big stars – including this Daniels guy."

Darkness flicked to the relevant page and frowned. "He does look kind of familiar…"

"He should do: you were in a match with him once."

He arched an eyebrow. "I was?"

"Yeah, the Road to Glory. Remember?"

"Oh. Yes. Another glorious second place. I seem to be accumulating those recently."

"A few pips in the loss column doesn't do anyone any harm."

"Easy for you to say."

Freya flashed a brilliant smile as she opened the fridge in Darkness's kitchenette and pulled out two beers. She threw one across to him and he caught it without looking up. "You seem better," she said as she opened hers.

Darkness looked up sharply. "Better? What do you mean?"

"Than you have been. Not just physically, after what happened, but in yourself. For a while back there…"

"I'm fine, Freya. I always have been." He returned to the book.

"Anything interesting in there?" Freya asked as she sauntered across the room.

"The usual kind of things. Supposedly he likes to work the arm."

"That could be a problem."

"Not if he goes for a wristlock. Those don't tend to work on me anymore."

"I've been known to work an armbar into my offence occasionally. I think I can take him."

"I have no doubt that we're both more than capable of disposing of this…interloper." Darkness threw the annual away in disgust.

"So what's the problem, Buffy?" Freya sat down next to him and leant her head against her hand as she looked at him.

"You and I are the problem. You were denied your prize at Breakdown, and I was denied that same prize at Havoc. We both know it should have been us in that main event. No one else in TCW comes close to what we're capable of."

"Except Jason."

Darkness's rigid composure seemed about to break for a moment, but he recovered almost instantly. "Except Jason," he agreed, "but the fact remains that our most formidable competition in this contest is one another. I don't want to have to hurt you, Freya. You've become important to me."

"Aww. You're sweet."

"Nonetheless, I want that belt."

"Well so do I."

"Then we have a problem." He took a long sip from his bottle.

"Not really," Freya shrugged, shifting around so she was facing forward, "this isn't our first match against each other."

"You're only nonchalant because you won the last one."

"Nuh uh – you did."

"You pinned me."

"For the Bleeder Title – you won the fall for the World Titles. Remember?"

"So we're even?"

She shook her head. "Nope, because I won that match with Bleeder, and I beat you before Endgame '07. The score is two to one, so you're fighting to tie it."

"Ah. I see."

Freya idly tapped her fingers against her beer bottle. "So where are The Children?"

"You can't smell which direction they've gone in?"

"This whole building smells of them now. Malting everywhere. I'm amazed no one else can tell they're wandering around the place."

Darkness smiled. "I left them to their own devices. Gwen seemed keen to track down Loop after what happened. No one's seen him since Breakdown."

"What happened to him?"

"He was bitten."

"So he's a vampire?"

"No…but I don't know why. Revenant went with her to see if she can figure it out."

"And you decided not to go with them? That's not like you, especially…these days."

Darkness shifted uncomfortably. "Loop is not the issue. It wasn't him that attacked me."

"I didn't think it was – but how do you know?"

"Because I know who my assailant was, and it's someone about whom I could never make a mistake."

"Who?"

"I can't tell you."

She poked him in the ribs. "What? Tell me!"

"No, Freya," his voice was dangerous suddenly, "this is between me and him. When we're ready, you'll know about it. Until then, I have to handle this my own way."

"Your way always sucks. You usually end up tortured or being knocked off a building somewhere."

"You're going to have to trust me this time, Freya."

"Fine." She stood up and drained the last of her beer. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a title match to train for. I assume you'll let me know if you get a visit from our friend Mr. Daniels?"

"I wouldn't want you to miss him."

She grinned and tossed the bottle into the recycling bag by the kitchen counter. "See you around, hotshot."

"Stay out of trouble."

"You know me," she winked as she slid out of the door.

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Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:00 pm
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Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
The gym was small, a couple of machines, mats, weights, and the obligatory mirrored wall. It was a down some back street, not the company one; there was always too much of a chance of running into someone you really didn't want to there. Freya hardly ever saw anyone here, work related or not. She ran. She liked to run; she could have done it outside on the streets but that would mean people. It also wasn't very pretty. Cities weren't natural places for werewolves, although The Children seemed keen to prove her wrong. She liked the city, but growing up in the middle of a forest meant she liked things to be pretty, at least if she was inside she could use her imagination.

"Hello, Mr Daniels." She didn't turn around and she didn't stop running.

Daniels paused then looked at his reflection in the wall. It showed the whole room, although Freya wasn't facing it, the machine she was using was parallel to the mirrors. He composed himself and continued walking.

"Hello, Miss Green."

"What do you want?"

"To talk, we're reasonable people..."

"I think you said enough at the show."

"That? That was just talk. Showmanship. What's the point of being the good guy if there's no one to be the bad guy?"

"Don't lie to me. You meant every word. But you'll be heading home after Friction so it doesn't matter, and Deng will just have to find another puppet."

Daniels face clouded over. "I'm nobody's puppet."

"Sure you are. You're just another game piece Deng has put on the table."

"You seem to be training rather hard for what you consider another game piece."

Freya snorted. "This isn't for you. There's one other person I have to beat in this match. He's the challenge. I don't plan to lose my lead." She gave him a quick glance in the mirrors. "And I'd appreciate it if you didn't just stare at my arse."

"Well, if you don't really give me much choice."

Freya sighed and hit the button that stopped the treadmill. Daniels turned and looked around the small gym.

"So what are you here for?"

Daniels turned and looked down at Freya. She was smaller than he'd thought, good couple of inches shorter than Indigo. He didn't know if this was a good or bad thing.

"Just wanted to meet the competition."

"Because having you're friend ruining my match wasn't enough."

"I had to get your attention somehow."

"Most people would consider that a stupid thing to do."

"Like Loop?"

"What about him?"

"I heard you put him in hospital. And now he's disappeared."

"So you thought it'd be a good idea to come talk to me in private? I don't know much about you FWRFedders, but I thought they were slightly smarter than that." She grinned. There was something disconcerting about the smile.

"Well, I guess I'd better leave you to finish your work out before you cool down too much. Don't want you pulling a muscle or anything, do we?" Daniels swept out of the room with a swish of his coat.

"What a jerk," Freya mumbled to herself before getting back on the treadmill and starting it up again.

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Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:51 pm
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Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
"Hello, Mr. Daniels."

"That's an uncanny ability you people have." Daniels said walking to Darkness who was still turned around, looking out a window. "You'd think it would prevent you from getting attacked from behind, Mr. Darkness."

"You'd think. And you don't need to call me 'Mr.' It sounds ridiculous."

"So how is it you got attacked before such a big match?"

"My mind was on other things, namely my match." Darkness still made no motion to acknowledge his opponent, who stepped forward beside him and looked out the same window he was staring out.

"I don't believe that for a second."

"That's a shame."

"Is this your idea of a mind game? Ignoring me."

"I'm not ignoring you. We're having a conversation right now, Mr. Daniels. I don't need to play mind games with you."

"Yet you play mind games with us all don't you. The paint and the theatrics. Is that not mind games?"

"No it's just me. I'm better than you, and as such don't need to go out of my way"

"Quite confident, aren't we?"

"Everything in my career has always led me to be."

"Yes, you're quite the winner aren't you? Probably would have walked right into that final if you hadn't been attacked."

"Yeah, I'd think so."

"Probably would have disposed of the little lady in the finals too. Taken what was probably rightfully yours."

"She's not to be taken lightly."

"Of course not, I wasn't saying you would take her lightly. But between you and I, I think you'd have given her a lot better of a fight than that Loop."

"Probably."

"She probably knew it too."

"Probably."

"So it stands to reason, that not many people would benefit from taking you out more than Freya."

"Freya didn't attack me."

"So sure?"

"I saw who attacked me. So yes, I am."

"I'm sure you did. It's usually pretty easy to see who attacks you physically. But who was responsible isn't always so easy to see."

"Freya didn't attack me."

"She had a logical reason to."

"Yeah. She did..."

"I think you'll often find, that the most obvious answer, usually is the answer, Darkness." With a swish of his coat Daniels turned and walked to the door of the room they'd both been standing in. "I'll see you again soon, I'm sure, Darkness."

Darkness continued to stand right where he'd been the entire time, still looking straight out of the window. "That can't be all he had planned."


Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:18 am
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Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
Mushrooms. She had an incredible craving for mushrooms. She was always hungry after working out and, while Freya wasn't by any stretch of the imagination a vegetarian – a diet like that wasn't practical for a werewolf's hypercharged metabolism – she tended to instinctively avoid meat when in her humanoid form. As a wolf, she had a very intimate relationship with meat, and the thought of how it felt in the jaws and throat of an animal – of herself as an animal – always made her nauseous. As a result of this, she had become something of a dab hand with mushrooms, pulses and couscous. Now, she wanted the former, and she thought long and hard about where to get them as she headed out onto the streets of Beijing, gym bag slung over one shoulder.

As uncomfortable as she felt in the city, there was something about its size and vibrancy that drew her towards it. Just as she feared the bustling throngs of people with strange faces, languages and customs, she was also fascinated by them. A childhood spent in the depths of the forest, alternately rambling in sunlight and racing in moonlight through deserted and silent glades, and then an adolescence on the fringes of society had given her a guarded interest in those who lived legitimately, surrounded by ordinary people. It confused her, because she didn't understand how anyone could be so unaware of their individuality. Standing on the bus, in a crush of humans, she wondered what they must all be thinking. The same as her? Obviously not, but they must find it as strange as she to be here like this, packed in with strangers. Mustn't they?

The smells were overpowering, of course, but she'd adapted to that by now. She wondered how different a human must find it, here on the other side of the world. Things like architecture and road signs were alien, and that must seem confusing, but for a werewolf being in Beijing was like being turned inside out. Not in an unpleasant way, of course. It was just very strange. The people and the food and the air all smelled different. And, because things looked essentially the same – cars, shops, concrete, crowds – it could be very disorientating. Each of Freya's senses told her a different story, and she could understand why The Children had found it so intoxicating. It was ironic that, of all those who had come across the ocean with TCW, the displaced band of werewolves had settled in best of all.

Freya swung herself off the bus with a garbled "thank you" in Mandarin to the driver, learnt parrot-fashion from Gwen, and found herself standing in the middle of a market. The scrum of people and stalls washed back in once the bus had moved, and it was hard to believe there was supposed to be a road there. Now, Freya was on her own, forced to survive using her own wits in this unfamiliar environment. It was refreshing, and reminded her of her first few years in the outside world after leaving the village. Back then, with no papers and no way of legitimately making money, she'd survived by petty crime. It was easy to be a con artist when you were a short, attractive woman who could smell any lie someone told you.

She weaved through the packed crowd of noisy shoppers, dodging people with preternatural skill, seeking out those elusive mushrooms. It would be absurd to think she could smell them in all this tumult, but she knew how to follow her nose anyway. She came to a stall packed with exotic vegetables, and her eyes alighted on the fungus she sought. She was reaching out just as her phone starting to ring in her pocket.

Everyone around her was looking as her ringtone played. Giving her that bloody Shakira song was someone's idea of a joke and she directed an embarrassed scowl at the man presiding over the stall. She pulled out her phone and frowned at the name on the screen before answering it.

"Buffy?"

"Hello," Darkness's voice said on the other end, "it's me."

"I know." She put a finger in her other ear. "You can program names onto phones, you know, that way you can see who's ringing you. Very handy."

"I know. I'm not a complete luddite."

"And yet you should have seen my face when I saw it was you..."

"I like to imagine that that had more to do with 'She Wolf' blaring out in some embarrassingly public place."

"Oh you bastard – I thought it was Lir that did that!"

"I had nothing to do with it. Listen, where are you?"

"Um...in Beijing?"

"That's not helpful."

Freya started to weave her way out of the market, mushrooms forgotten. "I know, sorry. I'm not exactly sure where I got off the bus. I just waited until I saw stalls and stuff. What do you want anyway?"

"I just spoke to Daniels."

"Oh really? How was he?"

"Probably about how you'd imagine."

Freya nodded as she dodged a basket that swung right past her head. "Yeah, I had a visit from him myself. Nice guy."

"Quite. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you."

"Okay, well let me get a bus back home..."

"No, don't worry about it. I'll find you."

"What?" But the phone had already gone dead on Darkness's end. Freya threw up her arms, sending a man carrying a box full of jars flying. As his produce smashed on the pavement, Freya looked down and took a sniff. "Shame on you," she scowled at the scrabbling man, "those are endangered."

Freya headed off in a random direction and the crowds swept in after her, hiding her from view – except for one person, who was keeping a close eye on her. No one noticed him in the packed marketplace, because he had long ago perfected the technique of keeping hidden, even in plain sight. There are certain segments of society who people's eyes just slide over, no matter what part of the world it is. All it takes is the right walk, the right unfocused stare, the right unkempt hairstyle and, yes, the right filthy jacket, and no one pays a damn bit of attention to you.

* * *

Freya kept walking aimlessly, her mind turning back to thoughts of mushrooms, until she picked up a familiar scent and ducked into an alley way.

"Told you I'd find you."

She grinned toothily in the shadows. "Came from the rooftops, did you?"

Darkness stepped away from the wall with a small smile of his own. "You know me so well."

Freya harrumphed and swung her bag from her shoulder, dumping it on a pile of garbage. She flattened down the lid of a trashcan next to it and plonked herself down. "Tired of walking," she explained.

"Daniels said some interesting things to me."

"Oh yeah?"

"He seemed keen to imply that you might have something to do with what happened to me at Havoc."

"Whoa," Freya held her hands perpendicular to one another, "time out. I had something to do with it?"

"That's what he implied, like I said."

"And what do you think?"

"I know you had nothing to do with it."

"Oh. Well good." She folded her arms.

"I told you that I know who attacked me."

"Yeah, you did say that. Ready to let me in yet?"

"No."

"How do you know who it was anyway? Did you actually see someone?"

"That's what I told Daniels, but I was attacked from behind. I didn't see anyone."

"Ah, so it was someone you could Sense?"

Darkness nodded. "Very much so. And I have a feeling he wanted me to know it was him."

"Ah," Freya said again.

"I expect you have suspicions of your own."

She bobbed her head. "Kinda."

"So you understand why I want to play this one so close to my chest."

"I do."

"Good."

Freya pulled her knees up to her chest. "So was that all you wanted to talk about?"

"No. The main reason I came to find you was that...I want you to know that, even if I didn't know who it was that assaulted me, I wouldn't suspect you."

"Thanks."

"I mean it."

"I know. It's just, if I did do it, one of The Children could rat me out straight away. You'd just need to get me to talk about it in front of one of them and they'd be able to tell you I was lying."

"Yes, but it's not just that..."

"I know. Really. We've had our falling outs, Buffy, but you're the only person around here I know I can actually count on. And even when you did go off the rails, there was always a good reason."

"I don't make excuses for the mistakes I've made, Freya..."

"No, that's not what I meant. I'm just saying...your heart's always in the right place. You've made some dumbfuck decisions in your time, but it was always because you thought you were doing what was best. Remember when we went back to my village? How you were all fucked up because of the possession or whatever it was?"

Darkness grimaced. "I remember."

"Well, that was the most noble you've ever been. Back there, I mean. Even in your darkest hour, you found the light."

"That's pretty corny."

"All right, dickhead – I'm not as good at this stuff as you are. You know what I mean."

"I do. And thank you. You know I'd never do anything to hurt you either. Everyone else is dispensable but you..."

"All right, all right." Freya jumped down from her trashcan and picked up her bag. "Let's go find a bar before this all gets too heavyweight. No pun intended."

They both walked up the alley and out into the street. Back in the pile of trash that had been holding Freya's bag up, something stirred. Unnoticed by everyone in the city, even those with senses that went beyond those of normal humans, Daniels stood up and shook himself down. He focused his eyes and, with a cringe, tied his hair back.

"That was disgusting," he said to nobody, "and I'm not talking about the garbage."

With a small laugh, he took out his cell phone and hit speed dial – he only knew one person, so it was assigned to number 1 – and waited for Nike to answer.

"Nike! How's it going? Having fun with Izumi and Blackwell? Awesome. Do give them my regards. Listen, I have to tell you about what I just heard because it's just too delicious and nauseating in equal measure not to share. See, I was waaaaaaay off trying to drive Darkness and Freya apart by playing on their competitive urges. I totally misread their relationship – just shows you can't trust TV, eh? – but I have a new plan. A glorious, horrifying plan. See, I happened to overhear them having a very sweet little conversation in a trash-filled alley, and it turns out – get this – that they're secretly in love with each other! And...no, no let me finish...and the best part is that I don't think even they know it! Isn't that just incredible? Doesn't that just fill you with a kind of gooey warmth? Doesn't it make you just light up like a Christmas tree to think of how monstrously, disgustingly, epically vulnerable to the kind of prick that I am that makes them?"

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Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:04 pm
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Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
"Okay, I'm just going to nip to the loo and then we have to get some food."

Darkness nodded, and took another swig of his bottled beer as Freya weaved her way between tables and people towards the back of bar.

"It's nice to see a father and daughter with such a close bond." The voice was female. Darkness looked up at the woman that had spoken to him. She held out a hand. "My name is Lian, I run a school. I was just wondering if your daughter would appreciate some help with her Mandarin," she lowered her voice, "it's not very good. She tried to order two purple giraffes."

Darkness lifted one eyebrow. "She's not my daughter."

Lian looked embarrassed but seated herself in Freya's empty chair. "I'm sorry, I just assumed, because of the age difference and because you're Westerners..."

"It's fine. She's a... work colleague. Just a friend."

Lian smiled more. "Good." She handed Darkness a card. "Her Mandarin is awful though."

"I know." Lian didn't seem to be leaving. "I'm Darkness."

"I know." Lian blushed. "Your friend's language issue wasn't the only reason I came over. As I said, I run a girls school; your face is not entirely unfamiliar to me."

"Oh." Out of the corner of his eye he could see Freya trying to make her way back to the table, but she'd been accosted by some fans for autographs.

"Darkness?"

He turned to Lian and realised she'd been speaking to him. "Sorry."

"I was wondering if I could buy you a drink, dinner maybe. I'm sure you get a lot of women asking you though..."

"Not as many as you'd think."

Freya had her hands up, trying to ward off a beer that had been bought for her, but gave in to the fans, laughing with them.

"She's popular, your friend." Lian said, looking over where Darkness had been keeping an eye on Freya. "Another wrestler?"

"Yes. Are your students not a fan of hers as well?"

"I run a girls' school, there are American bands, models and wrestlers on the wall, but they're all male."

Freya finally made it back to the table. "Hey, are you ready?"

"Well..." Darkness said.

"I'm trying to convince Darkness to let me take him to dinner," Lian interjected.

"I'm sorry, but who are you?"

"Lian." She extended a hand.

"Right," Freya said doubtfully, shaking hands. "Can I have a word?" she said to Darkness. Darkness followed Freya a couple of tables away. "Who the hell is she?"

"Lian. She runs a girls school. Doesn't think much of your Mandarin."

Freya harrumphed. "You seem to have got to know her very fast."

"She just told you the same thing."

"Are you going to have dinner with her?"

"I don't know. Why?"

Freya gave the woman a quick glance. "She looks old."

"Does that make me old too?"

"No, don't be stupid. I bet she's after something; working for the Abyss or something. Or maybe...

"She just wants to have some sensible conversation, which is what I'd quite like now." There was an odd look in his eyes.

"You're kidding me. She comes along and flutters her eyelashes and you just fall for her?"

"You're being stupid."

Freya narrowed her eyes. "Fine. Do what you want. I'm going home." she stormed back to the table and grabbed her gym bag.

"Freya, you don't know the way home."

"Well maybe I'll use my bad Mandarin to find the way." She swung her gym bag onto one shoulder, nearly hitting Lian, before storming out of the bar.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause any trouble." Lian stood up.

"It's not you."

"Good. Dinner?" Lian asked cheerfully.

**

"Come on, Lleny, what's the point of you being a Shadow Slayer if you can't find me when I need help? Darkness managed it." Freya listened to the reply. "Fine. Well, If I'm not home in an hour, ring me to check I'm not dead." She hung up without waiting for a reply. She looked around at the signs which were at least partly in English, and headed in a direction she thought was right. She wasn't far from the bar she'd left Darkness in when a motorbike pulled up along side her with Daniels riding it.

"Is it really safe for you to be wandering about? It's going to get dark soon."

"I'll be fine, but I don't know about you." She carried on walking and Daniels drove slowly beside her.

"Where's your burly protector?"

"Off with some húli jīng."

"What?"

Freya shrugged. "Some woman picked him up in a bar."

"Aw. Poor ickle Freya's been replaced."

"Fuck you."

"No, I don't know where you've been."

Freya picked up her pace. Daniels revved the engine and stayed level. "It's a long way back. You're going to be walking for a while."

Freya stopped. "Can I have a lift home?"

It took Daniels a second to adjust, but then he tutted. "Manners. What's the magic word?"

"Are you going to make me beg?"

Daniels laughed. "I haven't decided."

"Please can I have a lift?"

Daniels seemed to think about it. "Nope!" And he pulled away, lifting the front wheel as he went.

"Bastard!" Freya yelled after him. Daniels gave her the finger before disappearing from sight.

_________________
- Updated 25th July



R.I.P Wild Pegasus and Black Tiger II

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." DOUGLAS ADAMS (1952-2001)


Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:33 pm
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Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
"So you're sure she'll be able to accomplish her job?"

"Yeah, she's the best in this country, maybe the entire damn continent."

"She looked a little old..."

"She's experienced. But she's the best at what she does and what she does is nasty."

"Why in the hell do you know prostitutes in China anyway, Nike?"

"Not plural. I know one. We did a promotional tour here after we won the Superbowl. The team heard stories about her, so I paid her a visit. Best night of my damn life."

"But still, you're sure when it's all said and done she won't fail in her primary goal?"

"I'm pretty sure she could get any man to do anything she pleased..." Nike looked off into the sky with a pleased look on his face.

"You disgust me. This better have worked."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

KNOCK KNOCK

Darkness's mind was a hazy mess. He could think of nothing but his desire for the knocking to stop and for his brain to stop pounding.

KNOCK KNOCK

"BUFFY! LET ME IN THIS INSTANT! I NEED TO TALK TO YOU!"

KNOCK KNOCK

As the knocking continued Darkness's mind begin to fill with thoughts and memories from the night before.

He had been in a bar with Freya...

Freya had stormed out on him because...

Because...

Lian...

Beautiful wonderful Lian...

The answer to all of life's problems Lian...

Lian who Darkness was suddenly very aware was right next to him.

Lian was stirring, beginning to awaken at the sound of the banging from Freya at the door.

KNOCK KNOCK

"Buffy I know you're in there! You've got fifteen seconds to open this door before I do it for you!"

Darkness was awake.

"I thought she just worked with you, seems like she's interested in more than work." Lian yawned and whispered over to Darkness.

"Yeah, I think she's mad at me."

Freya opened the door, Darkness and Lian were sitting in the bed.

"Hey can we talk about this another time?" Darkness asked with a small smile.

Freya looked disgusted and walked back out with a slam of the door.

"Wonder what her problem was?" Darkness asked.

Lian had rolled out of bed and was getting dressed, "Well that was a wonderful night, I've got to go."

"Wait..." Darkness said as she headed for the door.

"Sorry, I really must go."


Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:31 am
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Linda McMahon
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Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
It took a certain amount of cajoling, but Daniels managed to extract from Nike a contact number for Lian.

"But she doesn't kiss and tell! She's very discreet; that's the point, man!"

"I don't give a shit about what she does or doesn't do – in any sense – so just give me her goddamn number so I can find out how it went."

"Do you really want to hear about what that face-painted freak is into?" Nike had asked as he handed over a slip of paper with Lian's hastily-scrawled number on it.

"Very much. I seek out any and all ammunition against my enemies, Nike. You should know that about me by now. I'm hardly going to set my opponent up for a steamy night with the best whore in Beijing and just leave it at that am I?"

So now he found himself in a bar that was rather more exclusive and up-market than he'd expected. In fact, it did make sense. After all, if she really was the best, she could afford to live well. And anyway, he knew firsthand what she cost. This place was clearly in the right bracket.

A large man in dark glasses said something to him in Mandarin at the door.

"What? I don't speak Chinese, dumbass." He pointed as his white face and red hair. "American. American."

The bouncer leant closer. "You can't come in in that coat, American."

"Phew," Daniels waved a hand in front of his face, "you don't happen to have a Canadian cousin with a stupid haircut do you? Because your breath is a dead ringer for his."

The bouncer balled his fists and started to advance, but Daniels was already sliding out of his jacket. "Hey, hey – I ain't here for a fight. Look." He tossed it to one side, letting it land in a filthy gutter and revealing surprisingly normal (and clean) shirt and slacks underneath. "This smart enough for your fancy establishment?"

The bouncer just grunted and gestured him in. Daniels slid through the door and started looking around immediately. Lian had told him to meet her there, but had given no indication of how to find her. He scanned the dark, smoky room, illuminated only by red hanging lanterns, until he spotted a familiar face in a shadowy booth off to one side. He sidled across the room towards it.

"Well hello there..."

Lian looked up from her drink with a sour expression on her face. "You're the rude gentleman from the phone?" she asked in perfect English.

"I'm the man who paid for whatever it is you got up to last night, yeah." He slid into the seat opposite her.

"I pride myself on being discreet, Mr. Daniels. I'd ask you to do the same. My profession is not common knowledge in these parts."

"Right, right, of course. Anyway, I footed the bill for you to fuck Darkness, so tell me what freaky shit he was into."

Lian curled her lip in contempt. "You are a very unpleasant man."

"I try my best."

"And I do not reveal anything about my clients."

"Ah," Daniels leant across and pointed at her, "but Darkness wasn't your client: I was. I paid."

Lian seemed to consider. "Are you a...friend...of Darkness's?"

"Yeah, sure. Now spill it, hooker."

Lian either didn't know what that meant or refused to rise to the bait. "There's another reason I'd rather not talk about it," she said instead.

"Oh really?"

"Yes. I have no wish to relive what happened to me last night."

Daniels was practically drooling in anticipating. "C'mon – I can make it worth your while..."

"You want to pay me to talk?"

"Sure. Is that a problem?"

"It's...unethical..."

"Are you kidding me? Okay, let's do it this way: I will pay your rates for tonight, as if I was the one nailing ya, but I won't actually do anything, okay? So it's a night off for you."

"You can afford that?"

"I'm the World Champion, baby," Daniels said with a smug smile. He pulled a handful of bills from his pocket. "So talk."

"Very well..."

* * *

Lian and Darkness walked along a quiet street, arm in arm. "I must say, I didn't expect you to be so charming."

Darkness looked down at her with a small smile on his face. "I'm good with people."

"That's not the impression I get from your television appearances."

"Well there's more to me than what you see in the ring. I have a life outside of wrestling."

"Yes?"

"But I won't burden you with that..."

Lian affected a crestfallen attitude. "I was thinking I could get to know you better and..."

Darkness stopped and turned to face her. "Lian, I don't want you to have any illusions about this. I'm not looking for a relationship."

Lian smiled and ran a hand up his arm. "Neither am I."

"I'm not a man you want to get close to. Nor am I willing to compromise myself for anybody else. I already have enough people depending on me without adding one more."

"Do you mean like your friend in the bar?"

Darkness shook his head. "Actually, she's the one who can look after herself best of all. It's everyone else that I'm worried about."

"Everyone else...?"

"In the world."

Lian frowned and took a step backwards. "I don't think I understand."

"You don't have to. I think we both know what we want out of tonight. Let's just leave it at that."

Now Lian's expression turned bashful. It was highly practiced. "Goodness me. You're very forward... aren't you worried I may have an ulterior motive of some kind?"

"I know you have an ulterior motive."

She was taken aback. "You do?"

He cracked a new smile. "Yes, you want to meet a westerner who can speak good Mandarin, and to tell a story to the students at your school."

Lian's eyes sparkled. "You are very shrewd, Mr. Darkness..."

Later, they were back in Darkness's apartment. Lian was lying naked on the bed as Darkness pulled off his top. She gave his body an appreciative look as he stood shirtless in front of her.

"Why does it say 'Walk Alone' on your chest?"

"Because I don't like to get close to people."

"Ah, of course."

Now he was taking off his gloves. He removed them carefully, with a practiced movement, because it wasn't easy for him, as he now revealed to Lian. "I hope this doesn't freak you out." He was unscrewing his prosthetic hand.

"I knew about it already."

"Good." He placed it on the desk opposite the bed and, with one hand now, started to unfasten his shorts. He paused, midway through a button and looked up at her. "Do you have...uh..." he cleared his throat.

"Yes, I think so." Faking innocence again, she pulled a condom from her purse.

"Lian, there's no need to lie."

"What?"

"I know you're a prostitute."

"How could you..."

"I'm a close observer of humans."

"Humans?"

"People," he corrected himself, "and you've given yourself away several times. It doesn't bother me."

"This isn't business."

"I know. In a way, I'm glad. I could use an experienced hand. It's been a long time."

"Yes?"

"A very long time." He kicked his shorts away. "In fact, I haven't done this since...well, you don't need to know."

"I suppose not."

He walked towards her and then climbed onto the bed. Their bodies pressed together, his hard as granite, hers soft and pliant. She could feel his breath against her throat, and then his face was close to hers and she looked into his eyes. What she saw there momentarily took her breath away: icy grey irises framing dark, almost lifeless pupils. There was an emptiness there, the impression of something human missing – it was the exact opposite sensation to that of looking into the eyes of a great ape. Instead of the jolt of recognition, there was instead a jolt of revulsion at the inhumanity on display. And yet, there was something there: instead of a bead of reflected light, there was fire. Genuine whirlpools of swirling red fire.

"Something wrong?" he asked mildly.

"No," she said.

"May I kiss you?"

"Of course."

He was tender, and his beard scratched her skin. When their lips met, she felt a crackle of electricity. It wasn't some metaphysical spark of chemistry, but a genuine sensation of charge. She pulled away.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I just thought I..."

"Sorry, I can't turn it off. Is it a problem?"

"It doesn't hurt. I just didn't expect it."

"I'm different from other men. You should be prepared for some surprises."

"Okay..."

They kissed again and before either of them knew it, Darkness was fumbling for the condom. Lian got to it first and held it up. "Do you want me to...?"

"That isn't necessary." He seemed embarrassed, but his nervousness evidently began and ended with his facial expression. Lian glanced downwards. "Okay?" Darkness's asked again.

"Yes, very much so. There's no problems with that."

He grimaced. "I hope not. As I said, it's been some time." He braced his left arm, bereft of hand, against the pillow and took her hip in the other. She brought her hand down and guided him, then gasped as he entered her and put his weight down against her body.

"Is that all right?"

"You don't have to keep asking me," she whispered.

"I know, sorry."

He began tenderly, as he had with the kiss, but then began to pick up speed and strength. And he was strong: stronger than any man she'd been with. She had a reputation as the best because of what she did with her clients, but she found herself unable to match his rhythm. He pushed her legs back and began to thrust deeper and harder. Already his body was covered with a sheen of sweat. She braced her hands against his chest, tried to push back and add something to the proceedings, but this was all about him now. He pulled her closer and kissed her roughly. She kissed back, then pulled away, gasping for breath.

Then, she made the mistake of looking into his eyes.

Those tiny bonfires had been fed by some inner fury now, and they blazed brightly. She was transfixed by the inner light as he continued to move faster and faster, harder and harder, and now he let out an animalistic roar. His shoulders hunched and he pushed against her, still thrusting furiously. She placed her hands against his shoulders, felt the rippling muscle, alive and covered with sweat, yet cold to the touch. His hand had run up her body and was now against her collar bone. He was like a mad beast, and now she understood why she had seen no humanity in his eyes, and why he'd used the word 'human' as if it didn't include him. All her life she had been surrounded by the folklore of her people, exposed to ideas of spirits and monsters, but she was a modern woman and had never had cause to believe in demons. And yet she knew now, with the certainty that only one who had deep congress with one could have, that she was making love to one.

His skin was so icy it burned her. His breath was like hot brimstone. His eyes burned with infernal fire. As he arched his back and abruptly pushed himself upwards, the room seemed to be filled with light. For just a second, she saw jet black wings erupting from his back and then, with a shudder and a bellow like a warcry, he reached the apex of his power. His hand was on her throat and then she felt it against her cheek. As he convulsed and threw his head back, she felt the electric shock again, pulsing through his hand, energising every inch of flesh on his body so he seemed to glow with a light all of his own, brighter than the sun – brighter than a thousand suns. His fingers pressed hard into her cheek and she screamed as their thoughts became one, and she saw the world's death.

* * *

Daniels gave Lian a flat look. "What?"

"That's what happened."

"Wings? Electric shocks? What the fuck?"

She crossed her legs and looked away. "I know what I saw. And what I felt."

Daniels slumped back in the booth. "Fucking hell. I was just hoping he was into pegging or something."

"Pegging?"

Daniels waved a hand dismissively. "Getting fucked with a strap-on. Man, what am I supposed to do with some weird demon stuff you probably dreamed?"

"I didn't dream it." Her voice was very firm.

"And you weren't high?"

"No." Even more firm now.

"Oh, okay, so he's got a magic dick." Daniels stood up and threw the money at Lian. "Don't spend it on more coke, you fucking whore."

Lian turned to him and then shifted so the other side of her face was visible for the first time. There were a series of marks there, like burns – five, spaced like fingers. Then she held up her hands. The palms were red and blistered. "From his skin. So cold, it burned. As I said."

"Crazy bitch," Daniels sneered before walking away.

* * *

Just as Darkness was collapsing onto his side of the bed next to the exhausted and terrified Lian who looked over at the clock to see that hours had passed and it was now closer to morning than night, Freya was being woken up by a furious knocking at her door. Yanking on a t-shirt, she stomped over and threw the door open. "What? What?"

Revenant was standing there, looking very small and wide-eyed.

"Rev? What's wrong?"

"Don't know," she said in a scared voice.

"I thought you were out of the city."

"I was. I came back as fast as I could though. What's happening?"

"Nothing." Freya tugged her t-shirt down a little, suddenly very aware of her underwear. "Why?"

"Something's happening with Darkness." She shouldered her way into the room.

"What? How do you know?"

"I felt it." Revenant pointed to her head. "Remember when he was kidnapped and tortured in Peru? Remember how he told us not to come?"

"Told you, you mean."

"Yeah, anyone psychic." Revenant had the fridge open and was pulling out a beer.

"Hey, you're too young to drink."

"Don't care." She opened it and took a long swig, then wiped her mouth with her sleeve. "I knew something was happening because I could feel it, and I turned around right away, starting running here."

"Where did you come from?"

"Few miles out of the city," she shrugged, "not far for me."

"You still look exhausted."

"I went fast. Anyway, halfway here I suddenly felt another psychic scream like in Peru. I think something terrible is happening."

"Shit. That woman. I knew she had something to do with the Abyss. He's been captured again. Let's get The Children."

Revenant nodded. "We've got no time to lose."

_________________
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- it's a space opera novel I wrote.

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Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:13 pm
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Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
Freya hurried away from Darkness's room, letting the door slam shut behind her. As she started running up the stairs 'She Wolf' started playing from her phone. She pulled it from her pocket and she wasn't expecting the name that was on the screen.

"Hey, Selenia, what's wrong? Are you alright?" Freya spoke quickly, she didn't often hear from Selenia, maybe Rev had picked up on something and assumed it was Darkness. There was a laugh from the other end of the line.

"Nothing's the matter. How are things in China?"

"Same old." Freya was confused.

"Really?" There was another laugh. "Absolutely everything is the same?"

"Well, no, I'm sure you've seen the shows, TCW is a bit different now..."

"Come on, Freya," Selenia interrupted, "we're grown women, spill it. I felt what happened last night. I'm married, let me live vicariously through you. I can't say I blame you either, and we all knew it was just a matter of time..."

Freya shook her head even though Selenia couldn't see. "I have no idea what you're talking about. I don't know what happened last night, I couldn't feel it. All I got was a panicked Rev getting me up in the middle of the night because something was happening to Darkness.

There was a moments silence on the line. "I'm sorry, Freya. Darkness isn't in trouble. He's fine."

"I know, I've just seen him. He was with a woman."

"I'm sorry," Selenia repeated, "I just assumed when I felt... well, I thought you two might have..."

Freya finally realised what Selenia had been trying to say. "I've got to go. Give my love to everyone." She hung up without waiting for a reply. She'd reached her flat and pushed open the door. Rev's head appeared over the top of the sofa.

"Did you find him?"

"Yes." Freya shut the door and carried on straight past the sofa to her bedroom.

"And...?" Rev followed Freya.

"He's fine. You've had me up all night searching for a guy that never left his room. You can go back to the others now."

"What did I feel?"

Freya hesitated for a minute. "I don't know. I'll talk to him later. Will you go now?"

Revenant yawned, her long canines clearly visible. "It's getting light."

"And I didn't sleep last night. Now bugger off and find the others."

Revenant pulled on her coat whilst pulling a face. "Fine."

The young girl slammed the door of the apartment as she left. Freya waited until she was sure Revenant wasn't coming back before she changed her top, grabbed the pink stone pendant that hung on her mirror and left the apartment herself.

**

Lian had left hours ago. She hadn't said much but then neither had he. He stood in front of the mirror, slowly applying black paint to his face, covering the twin scars. He lowered his hand and gave his reflection a good look. Even though he went through the same ritual every morning, he never really saw himself. There was a line or two more than he remembered, and he looked tired; but then he didn't get a lot of sleep that night. He finished applying the paint and wandered back into the bedroom. It was warm and smelt of sex and sweat. He pushed open one of the windows, the cool air refreshing. He pulled on his jacket and left his apartment and headed up the stairs for Freya's. They needed to talk. He knocked on her door and waited.

Nothing happened. He knocked louder and tilted his head, trying to hear for any movement from inside. Still nothing happened though. He closed his eyes and became more aware of his Slayer Sense. There was nothing in the apartment except for a plant, it's small life force flowing upwards as it sat in the sun. Darkness frowned and looked further out, becoming aware of the surrounding buildings, roads and on until he was aware of the city. There numerous twists in reality, vampires and alike, and the Children on the outskirts. But still no Freya.

She was either missing or hiding.

**

Freya sat in a bar and ordered another drink.

She'd spent the day roaming the city, but as the sun had sunk she'd found refuge away from the other things that went bump in the night.

"Can I get one of them?"

Freya didn't even have to ask who the American accent belonged to. She'd smelt him and his stinking coat come in. She ordered another drink for Daniels anyway. He pulled up and seat next to her.

"Where's your friend Darkness at then?"

"Don't care."

"Had a fight?"

"No."

Daniels took a long sip of his drink and looked at the profile of the woman he was sat with. She hadn't turned to look at him, almost if she didn't want to be associated with him. He was used to that but those that tried to ignore him didn't normally buy him drinks. She was trying to push him away and keep him close at the same time. He smirked to himself, his plan had worked, and a lot better than he'd thought it would too. There was a saying about scorned women, and he'd definitely pissed this one off.

TCW was going to be easier to destroy than he'd thought.

_________________
- Updated 25th July



R.I.P Wild Pegasus and Black Tiger II

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." DOUGLAS ADAMS (1952-2001)


Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:44 pm
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Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
"So you wanna talk about whatever it is that's troubling you?" Daniels knew the answer.

"Not really. And certainly not with you." Freya sipped her drink.

"I'm trying to extend the olive branch here."

"No you're not."

"I am. I'm extending the hand of friendship." Daniels literally extended his hand, but Freya ignored it.

"You could have extended that hand last night. Given me that ride home."

"If I'd known it was going to storm like that I would have, but-"

"You know, I can tell when someone is lying to me. It's a gift of mine."

"Is that right?"

"Yes, and every single thing you've told me in our short knowing of each other has been a lie."

"Did it ever occur to you that maybe your little gift doesn't work on me then?"

"What?"

"How could everything I say be a lie. Maybe you're just reading me wrong." Daniels smirked.

"Well I did believe you were telling the truth once."

"Yeah, when was that?"

"When you cut that promo at Breakdown, I believed every word you said."

"Haha! Those were all lies."

"That's a likely story."

"How does the plot I rambled about at Breakdown even make any sense? I'm going to destroy a company by wrestling on it? I may not be loved, by people love to hate me. This company needed a spark, so Deng contacted me to help save TCW. I may play the villain on TV, but that doesn't mean I really am one."

"So you're here to save TCW?"

"I'm here to make money. Saving TCW is Deng's business."

"It's part of my business too."

"Then make the right decision when we get into the ring at Friction."

"What decision is that?"

"Don't allow Darkness to win."

"How is that the right decision?"

"This company was slowly failing with him at the top, you want the title, you try your best to take the title, but you and I need to not allow Darkness a chance at taking it. If him having the title isn't good TCW, and it's not good for you, who is it good for?"


Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:35 pm
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Linda McMahon
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Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2005 3:01 pm
Posts: 6242
Post Re: Friction: Darkness vs. Freya vs. Woodrow Daniels
Freya left the bar with her hands shoved deep into her pockets. The smells of Beijing continued to assault her, a whirlwind of conflicting aromas mingling into a confusing cocktail of sensation. She paid them no mind. Instead, Daniels' words bounced around her mind. Never before had she had cause to doubt the evidence of her nose – a werewolf's sense of smell is infallible; it comes with the territory. You smell the emotion as a combination of pheromones anger, joy, lust and fear are strongest, and if the words don't match, it sets off that instinctive alarm bell. It's not a super power, it's just perception. If a human were to hear a bird making the sound of a car alarm, that same bell would sound. The senses don't match, and the mind searches for a new explanation.

But, there are birds that can mimic car alarms. The senses can lie. Perception can contradict experience. People can lie convincingly: they can convince themselves that their webs of deceit are real, or at least a necessary evil. Freya had encountered that before, but never from a human. The best liars were werewolves, because they knew what they were up against. Fenris, her eldest brother, could fool even her. And then there were demons...

Freya's face hardened. Thinking of demons brought her back around to Darkness. See, the horror of it was that, sitting there in that bar, she could smell the lies on Daniels' breath, but what he'd said at the end – about TCW dying – was the truth. Or, at least, Daniels believed it was. She'd never met anyone, werewolf, vampire, demon or anything else, who believed their own bullshit so firmly. He was either completely insane, or so sane that it amounted to the same thing. Perhaps, she pondered, he possessed some kind of hyper-sanity that brought him out the other side, into a dark and terrifying world stripped of all pretence. She'd seen him in FWRFed and was familiar with his story. He was dangerous. He didn't give a damn about anything. He was a monster more real than any she'd encountered before.

And he had a point. That's what scared her the most. And Freya didn't scare easily.

She didn't remember the walk back to the apartment block and, before she knew it, she was standing at Darkness's door again. She raised her hand, and then paused. What was she going to say to him? What could she say to him? She'd thought he was dying, and some dark part of her almost wished he had been. If she'd found him being attacked, hurt by some person or creature, powerless to fight back somehow – maybe if a Faithless had come for him, or Skaar, or Bleeder – then it would have been all right. She'd have saved the day and everything would be fine. Instead, she had to deal with his stark callousness, his nonchalance, his inhumanity. Because that's what he was now: inhuman. She knew he'd left some part of him behind in that place in Tokyo where Izumi and her cronies hung out. He'd never spoken about what happened there, but she knew it wasn't anything good.

Steeling herself, she knocked on the door.

"Come in," Darkness's voice answered from within immediately. She pushed open the door and found him standing at the window, looking out. She drew in an experimental breath, but detected almost nothing from him. He was iron within and, as he turned, shirtless and tensed like always, she saw he was iron without. Nothing but cold, inanimate matter now. A weapon.

"I was wondering how long you were going to stand out there."

"Oh right, I forgot your Spidey Sense."

"It's not a Spidey Sense. It doesn't tell me when I'm going to be in danger."

Freya found herself smiling, but then looked down and saw the pink stone hanging around her neck. "Hold on – how did you Sense me?"

He gave her a small smile of his own as he crossed over to the fridge. "Actually, I smelled your perfume."

"I'm not wearing any perfume."

"Fine, your natural scent then." He pulled out two beers. "Drink?"

"No thanks. You smelled me? What, are you part-werewolf all of a sudden?"

"Of course not," he said as he put back one of the bottles and opened the other, "but I feel like all my senses have been heightened. I feel revitalised. Better than I have in months, in fact."

"Because you got fucked?" Freya regretted saying it immediately, not because of the sentiment, but because of the sudden sharpness in her voice.

Darkness's face rippled for a moment, his icy composure almost threatening to drop away. "It was more than that."

"Yeah, it must have been. You scared the shit out of us all. Did you know Selenia felt it on the other side of the world?"

"Really? Now I'm embarrassed..."

"Yeah, well you should be."

Darkness put down his beer. "Why? Because I had sex? Since when have you been such a prude?"

"I'm not a prude! Did you know I ran into Daniels today?"

"It would seem to be almost inevitable."

"He said some interesting things too."

Darkness lifted an eyebrow. "Oh?"

"Yes. He said he was lying about everything he said in the ring at Breakdown."

"Was he?"

"I don't know."

"How can you not know?"

"Never mind how I know or don't know. He said he doesn't give a damn about TCW. He said he was in this for the money, and that I should side with him and stop you from becoming the Champion again. He said you were killing TCW."

"Well we've heard that before..."

"Yes we have – and what does that tell you?"

Darkness turned away from her and looked back out of the window. "It tells me that a lot of people share certain opinions."

"And maybe if that many people think the same thing..."

He whirled around, eyes blazing with very real fire. "This isn't a democracy! You don't decide right or wrong by consensus!"

"Then how do you decide it?"

He slammed his good fist into his chest. "Here. You just know."

"But what if you don't 'just know'?! What if you can't believe the evidence of your own eyes – or nose, or anything else?"

"Because you have to know. I have to. We have to. If we can't decide these things, no one can. This is our responsibility."

"To govern? To rule? As superman...or gods...?"

"If necessary."

She threw up her hands. "What does that mean? You don't even know what you are anymore!"

Darkness shook his head. "You're being hysterical."

"Oh, very nice. Crazy woman, probably on her period, don't listen to what she says. How come, when you're emotional, it's right and just and motivated by some mighty destiny, but when I get pissed about something it's just the rantings of an irrational female?"

"That's not what I meant..."

"Yes it is." She tapped her nose to remind him.

"Daniels has gotten you switched around. This is what he does, Freya. Peredur brought over some FWRFed tapes."

"This has nothing to do with Daniels!"

"But he was the one who said that..."

"It could be him, or Strikmore, or DeSean or anyone else. It doesn't change the facts. Daniels has a point. You're not connected to the rest of us anymore. You've removed yourself from the petty concerns of mortals – maybe by choice, maybe against your will, I don't know."

"That's not true." He walked towards her and made to grab her by the shoulders, but Freya pulled herself away.

"Yes it is. You're operating on a different plane now. You're not a man – you're a demon, or something worse."

"I'm still the same person I always was."

"Would the Darkness who married Anna have slept with some random woman he met in a bar? Would the Darkness who fought against and beside Dante, who called him brother, who went to Hell and back to save his life more than once have treated another human being like a living stress ball? Would the Darkness who held Krissy in his arms all those times have been so callous, so emotionless, so goddamn clinical about it all?"

Darkness stepped away and drew himself up. "Is that was this is all about?"

"It's about a lot of things!"

"You're angry that I slept with another woman. You're angry it wasn't you."

Freya recoiled, mouth open in indignation. "Are you kidding me? You think I'm just jealous? This is worse than calling me hysterical, Darkness."

"You can't lie to me. I have my own ways of smelling it."

Freya held his gaze for a long moment. "Yes. All right then. You're right. I'm angry it wasn't me. There, I said it. I'm fucking pissed off because after all we've been through, after everything we've both sacrificed for each other, you couldn't ever tell me what I knew you felt and when you finally gave into your animal instincts, when you finally did something human, you did it with a stranger. God, it could have been Gwen, or any of the others. It could have been a man, it could have been a demon or a vampire or anything else, but why, why would you just choose some random slut? Why are you so scared to be yourself around us that you have to go to a stranger to shake reality apart the way you did last night? After what we've done together, after the wars we've fought, after the roads we've walked, why didn't you trust me to be there for you? Haven't I earned that much, Darkness? Haven't we all?"

They stood looking at each other. Finally, Darkness spoke. "I didn't know what would happen, Freya. I didn't know what I'd be capable of."

Freya shook her head. "You think that makes it better? I can make my own choices, Darkness. I can decide for myself what I do – who I do."

"No, you don't understand. If it was a stranger...I mean, someone I didn't care for so much..."

"So you were scared you might kill her, and decided it was fine if it was someone you didn't know? Very nice, Darkness. Very heroic."

"No! It wasn't like that!"

Freya backed away from him until she reached the door. "I thought I knew you. I thought I was breaking through your walls. The whole time you've been here, you've met people and done things that have changed you. From Shogun to Dante to Revenant and Gwen and the others, and me. You were so broken for so long, and we thought we were fixing you. We thought we were giving humanity a chance by giving them a real champion, but now you're more broken than ever. You've become everything you've spent your life fighting against."

Darkness stepped forward and reached out to her. "Freya..."

"No. I don't know you anymore. See you in the ring – it's the only place you let yourself go, and I guess that's the closest I, or anyone else, is going to get now, isn't it?"

Freya turned around before he could say anything and threw open the door. She could smell him making a lunge for her back in the room, but she was gone too fast.

* * *

"Everything's coming together, Nike."

Daniels and his henchman stood on the FWRFed World Champion's balcony, looking out over the lights of Beijing in the fading evening.

"Yeah?" Washington asked.

"Yes indeed. Sometimes, the equation is so simple. Boy loves girl is the oldest story in the book, I just never thought I'd see it happening here in TCW. All I had to do was introduce a destabilising influence, and they can do all the work themselves." He shook his head with a smile. "The great thing is, everything is ratcheted up over here. You think Mohawk and Indigo were bad? This is a whole different ball game. A simple story is elevated to something insane in this place. They do it to themselves. They're larger than life, and that's what's going to bring about their downfall."

"So are we really supposed to be destroying TCW?"

"I don't even know, man," Daniels chuckled, "but stirring up all this trouble is fun. I might even be sorry to go."

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Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:27 pm
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