ArchivedLogs:King of Hearts
|King of Hearts|
"...your fashion is /way/ better than standard."
<NYC> Tessier Residence - Greenwich Village
Understated opulence claims this spacious and well-kept townhome, the decor throughout the whole of it of the highest quality and carefully chosen. The front door opens onto the entrance hall, a closet close at hand to receive coats and shoes -- the pale hardwood floors gleam underfoot, unsullied by tracked-in mess from outside. The living room beyond the entrance is all dark woods and pale earth tones, comfortable couches and armchairs and a thick soft rug laid down beneath. Two large and painstakingly aquascaped aquariums flank the entrance to the dining room, with several brightly coloured species of fish within. Most of the rest of the wall space, notably, is taken up with shelves -- shelves crammed with books of every subject and genre.
A study branching off of the main hall is cozy, small, done in pale blues and lined with books as well around the large computer desk and smaller futon, though these rarer books are cased behind glass. Another securely locked door leads to the basement, and another to the full bathroom downstairs. The kitchen connects to the living room; in contrast, it is sleek and modern and well-appointed, stocked by someone who takes their cooking seriously. And takes their alcohol equally seriously -- to one side of the kitchen there is a fully-stocked bar. The back door to the kitchen looks out on a small well-kept garden.
Dinner has come and gone in a shuffle of plates, but the scent of the tofu chorizo still lingers faintly. In the living room a chess board has been set up on the coffee table, the game not far along but already pretty one-sided in black's favor. Matt is folded into onto the couch, wearing a pale blue t-shirt with a group of people dressed in Victorian fashion, sipping tea in the basket suspended from a flying mechanical whale and old, worn blue jeans torn at the cuffs, and socks are patterned like robotic feet. His hands are curled around a celadon teacup full of light, fragrant gyokuro as he studies the board. "This is really not the kind of game you can win with defense." The warm smile on his lips is not unsympathetic as his bright green eyes lift to his opponent. "You're going to lose your pieces sooner or later; what matters is /how./"
Jax is settled cross-legged on the floor across from Matt, in wide-legged black and red-mesh jeans hung with heavy chains and a red-and-black striped tee under a black and red sweatshirt with glittery silver dragonflies flitting down its arms. He plucks absently at the wrapper of a cupcake (maple, candied walnuts nestled into its creamy frosting) as he -- studies Matt, rather than the board. For a moment his lips press just a little thinner, shoulders tightening faintly, but then twitch up, bright and warm. "/How/ is evidently in crushing defeat on account'a you're some kinda wizard and half the time I still try t'move my bishops like a rook." Losing he may be, but at least the board is growing more /colourful/, the pieces /on/ the board transformed into tiny and lifelike miniature faerie-armies while the pieces off the board have taken root, growing out into strange and monstrous plantlife that is starting to take over the rest of the table.
The faint crease between Matt's brows is momentarily very reminiscent of Lucien. "I'm sorry if that was condescending or harsh." He ducks his head and sips from his tea, watching the fallen pieces rise again for their revenge. "But I really do think a little more aggression will help your game--even if you can't keep your bishops and rooks straight." Though he's neatly sidestepping that problem by taking Jax's remaining bishop with a knight which /had/ seemed gainfully occupied elsewhere. "Neat little mnemonic: diagonal groove, diagonal movement. See?" He holds the polished white onyx piece up to the light, bracing an index finger against the line carved into the bishop's mitre. "In the early game, bishops and pawns are your best weapons." This as he sets the bishop down in the tangle of mutant brambles coiling across the table.
"Naw, you was sweet as sugar, honey-honey." Jax peels his cupcake but doesn't actually eat it, setting it down atop its splayed wrapper on the overgrown table. He doe pluck a candied walnut from its crown, though, popping it into his mouth with a grin and sucking maple-sugar crystals from his fingertips. "So you're saying less Cheer Bear Jax an' more -- General Jax." His teeth scrape down against his lower lip, eye flicking down to the board before he reaches out to pluck at the board -- though there's the scraping sound of piece it takes a moment before the board catches /up/ with his move, one of his pawns twirling its way over to run one of Matt pawn's through with a flaming sword before stepping neatly into the vacated spot, kneeling for a moment as if in prayer over the bloodstained square of the battlefield. Jax sets the captured pawn down into the growing forest.
Matt drinks deep from his cup and sets it down in the curve of an illusory vine. "It is a game of generals and kings--but, ultimately, it /is/ still a game. If you /enjoy/ playing it in Care Bear fashion, /I/ won't hold it against you." Leaning forward, he braces one elbow on his knee and rests his chin in the palm of his hand. "That's the spirit, though! Clearing the pawns from the center of the board literally changes the landscape of the game..." Reaching out, he lifts his queen from behind the pawn she had been protecting--safe for the moment, with Jax's bishop gone--and set her down only one space forward and to the right, slowly. Without a capture or even a direct threat to any undefended piece the move looks /kind/ of anticlimactic. "...opening up positions that allow you to dominate half the board." His smile is a /little/ sheepish, but still pleased.
"I enjoy doin' /everything/ in Care Bear fashion," Jax answers Matt with a laugh. "But maybe that's why I always lose games." He rubs his hand against his cheek when Matt moves his queen, his nose crinkling up. The board ripples and shifts as he traces a finger through the icing of his cupcake. Matt's queen growing a crown studded with heart-cut rubies, an elaborately elegant red-and-black dress with puffed sleeves and a huge ruff embroidered playing-card style hearts. Matt's court sprouts clothing on a similar theme; a somewhat sheepish King, his knights the Knaves -- though there are two flamingos awkwardly balling (and unballing) themselves up where his rooks should be, a rabbit in a waistcoat fidgeting restlessly with a pocketwatch where his remaining bishop stands, and a number of roly-poly hedgehogs where his pawns have been.
Jax's pieces, meanwhile, have shifted to match -- more or less. Ish. He has far /fewer/ remaining; his hedgehogs are tinged dark where Matt's are tinged red. A plump dormouse snoozing where his remaining knight was, a reedy man in purple tailcoat and bowtie and green slacks and large tophat standing in place of his rook, a number of mismatched chipped teacups where his leftover pawns where. A hookah-smoking caterpillar lazing in place of his king. Where his queen should be, at the moment, there is only a large grin hanging above the board. He presses a hand to his temple, rubbing gently there as the board finishes shifting. "... okay, there might be /plenty/ of reasons I always lose. My priorities ain't always in the right places."
Matt claps his other hand over his mouth, but can't quite stifle the soft squeak of joy as the board transforms. "Oh! That's so delightful!" He lowers his hand and stretches it out, passing his fingers through the boundaries of the illusions where they protrude beyond the physical pieces they hide. "Poor Red Queen, always outshined by the Queen of Hearts." But he's smiling, all the same. "It's not necessarily /wrong/ to play for different ends, but it probably doesn't help with the winning, no. I can only offer you advice on playing in the standard fashion, but really, let's face it..." His smile grows wide as he studies Jax's transformed chessmen. "...your fashion is /way/ better than standard." He stretches a hand out for Jax's.
Jax doesn't really just take Matt's hand; he scoots around the table towards the couch, tucking himself against its base and curling his fingers through the other man's. "Well, come on, this is /you/ we're talking about. Hearts was way more /fitting/." He presses a light kiss to Matt's knuckles. He reaches out, nudging at the board again; a moment later his dormouse perks up, looking quite startled at having been woken -- he takes a moment to groom himself before scurrying off to -- kind of timidly /nudge/ one of Matt's flamingo-rooks off the board. Then promptly fall back asleep in the vacated spot as Jax plants the /actual/ physical piece down by the side of the set, no longer bird but tree with oddly feathery flowers. "An' I ain't never been good at standard, nohow. I've accepted that. Jus' like I've accepted my inevitable defeat."
Matt's eyebrows lift up, though his smile doesn't fade. "That's fair, but I hope you don't think me /quite/ so keen on beheadings." His fingers tighten against Jax's, a little shakily. Then he reaches out his other hand and lifts his black onyx bishop out from the white rabbit that hid it. Sends it across the board to attack...nothing, actually, though the diagonal line it threatens reaches all the way into the back rank beside the caterpillar king. His eyes skip back to the figure of the rabbit on the space that he has just vacated, waiting for Jax to move it. "/I/ accept your standards. Mate in five," he adds, sweetly, planting a kiss on Jax's head.
The actual bishop vanishes as Matt moves it, disappearing from view. The rabbit is soon to follow -- checking his pocketwatch with a widening of eyes, a spooked glance towards the imperious queen. He slips the watch back into his pocket, scurries hastily across the board. The caterpillar sniffs, blows a blue smoke ring towards the rabbit's head before sinking back into repose.
"Five?" Jax's cheek clicks against his teeth. "Tell me honest. You're bein' far too kind, honey-honey, you'll have me long afore that." He presses happily up into the /kiss/, though, before leaning over -- knocking at his caterpillar with a finger. The caterpillar looks somewhat disgruntled about this treatment. Coughs up a cloud of smoke -- his hookah tips over before /he/ turns into a large butterfly and flits away /huffily/. Jax picks up his cupcake instead, leaning back against Matt's knee, his cheek pressing to the other man's knuckles with a small nuzzle. He offers the dessert up towards the other man, eying the tangle of blooming wild things around the edges of the board. "I grew the biggest garden," he says cheerfully. "That counts as a win in my book."
"Two, at the /very/ least," Matt admits, smiling as he watches the butterfly king's wings stir up the remaining wisps of smoke from his upset hookah. "Three seems the most likely, but I don't play you often enough to make a /freakishly/ good prediction." Leaning over, he takes a bite out of Jax's proffered cupcake--only smearing a /little/ icing on his cheek in the process. "Mmm..." 'Yes,' he signs while his mouth is full, the movement of his hand stiff and unpracticed as he flops down sideways on the couch to curl around Jax's shoulders, 'you win you.'
Jax's eye strays to the small smear of icing on Matt's cheek, a deep flush spreading through his own pale face. The Wonderland battlefield and overgrown garden behind them vanish, leaving just the chessboard and table in their wake, his mind relaxing in Matt's senses as he lets the intricate illusion fade. One hand lifts, thumb brushing lightly against the other man's face to rub it clean of the streak of maple frosting that had gotten there. He tucks his head against Matt's shoulder, smiling to himself as he licks his finger clean. "Yeah. I definitely win."