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The Shanachie Theater / Re: Uncle Vanya (Repertory)
« Last post by Anthony De Luca on October 20, 2019, 03:31:38 PM »
Synopsis

Act I
A garden in Serebryakov's country estate. Astrov and Marina discuss how old Astrov has grown, and how he feels bored with his life as a country doctor. Vanya enters, and complains about how all order has been disrupted since the professor and his wife, Yelena, arrived. As they’re talking, Serebryakov, Yelena, Sonya, and Telegin return from a walk. Out of the professor's earshot, Vanya calls him "a learned old dried mackerel," criticizing him for his pomposity and the smallness of his achievements. Vanya’s mother, Maria Vasilyevna, who idolizes Serebryakov, objects to her son’s derogatory comments. Vanya also praises the professor’s wife, Yelena, for her beauty, arguing that faithfulness to an old man like Serebryakov is an immoral waste of vitality. Astrov is forced to depart to attend a patient, but not before delivering a speech on the preservation of the forests, a subject he is very passionate about. Act I closes with Vanya declaring his love for an exasperated Yelena.

Act II

The dining room, several days later. It is late at night. Before going to bed, Serebryakov complains of being in pain and of old age. Astrov arrives, having been sent for by Sonya, but the professor refuses to see him. After Serebryakov is asleep, Yelena and Vanya talk. She speaks of the discord in the house, and Vanya speaks of dashed hopes. He feels he’s misspent his youth, and he associates his unrequited love for Yelena with the devastation of his life. Yelena refuses to listen. Alone, Vanya questions why he did not fall in love with Yelena when he first met her ten years before, when it would have been possible for the two to have married and had a happy life together. At that time, Vanya believed in Serebryakov’s greatness and was happy to think that his own efforts supported Serebryakov's work; now he has become disillusioned with the professor and his life feels empty. As Vanya agonizes over his past, Astrov returns, somewhat drunk, and the two talk together. Sonya chides Vanya for his drinking, and responds pragmatically to his reflections on the futility of a wasted life, pointing out that only work is truly fulfilling.

Outside, a storm is gathering and Astrov talks with Sonya about the suffocating atmosphere in the house; Astrov says Serebryakov is difficult, Vanya is a hypochondriac, and Yelena is charming but idle. He laments that it’s a long time since he loved anyone. Sonya begs Astrov to stop drinking, telling him it is unworthy of him to destroy himself. The two discuss love, during which it becomes clear that Sonya is in love with the Doctor and that he is unaware of her feelings.

When Astrov leaves, Yelena enters and makes peace with Sonya, after an apparently long period of mutual anger and antagonism. Trying to resolve their past difficulties, Yelena reassures Sonya that she had strong feelings for her father when she married him, though the love proved false. The two women converse at cross purposes, with Yelena confessing her unhappiness and Sonya gushing about the doctor’s virtues. In a happy mood, Sonya leaves to ask the professor if Yelena may play the piano. Sonya returns with his negative answer, which quickly dampens the mood.

Act III
Vanya, Sonya, and Yelena are in the living room, having been called there by Serebryakov. Vanya calls Yelena a water nymph and urges her, once again, to break free. Sonya complains to Yelena that she has loved Astrov for six years but that, because she is not beautiful, he doesn’t notice her. Yelena volunteers to question Astrov and find out if he’s in love with Sonya. Sonya is pleased, but before agreeing she wonders whether uncertainty is better than knowledge, because then, at least, there is hope.

When Yelena asks Astrov about his feelings for Sonya, he says he has none and concludes that Yelena has brought up the subject of love to encourage him to confess his own feelings for her. Astrov kisses Yelena, and Vanya witnesses the embrace. Upset, Yelena begs Vanya to use his influence to allow her and the professor to leave immediately. Before Serebryakov can make his announcement, Yelena conveys to Sonya the message that Astrov doesn’t love her.

Serebryakov proposes that he solve the family’s financial problems by selling the estate, and using the proceeds to invest in interest-bearing paper which will bring in a significantly higher income (and, he hopes, leave enough over to buy a villa for himself and Yelena in Finland). Angrily, Vanya asks where he, Sonya, and his mother would live. He protests that the estate rightly belongs to Sonya, and that Serebryakov has never appreciated his self-sacrifice in managing the property. As Vanya’s anger mounts, he begins to rage against the professor, blaming him for the failure of his life, wildly claiming that, without Serebryakov to hold him back, he could have been a second Schopenhauer or Dostoevsky. In despair, he cries out to his mother, but instead of comforting her son, Maria insists that Vanya listen to the professor. Serebryakov insults Vanya, who storms out of the room. Yelena begs to be taken away from the country and Sonya pleads with her father on Vanya's behalf. Serebryakov exits to confront Vanya further. A shot is heard from offstage and Serebryakov returns, being chased by Vanya, who is wielding a loaded pistol. He fires the pistol again at the professor, but misses. He throws the gun down in disgust and sinks into a chair.

Act IV


As the final act opens, a few hours later, Marina and Telegin wind wool and discuss the planned departure of Serebryakov and Yelena. When Vanya and Astrov enter, Astrov says that in this district only he and Vanya were "decent, cultured men" and that ten years of "narrow-minded life" have made them vulgar. Vanya has stolen a vial of Astrov’s morphine, presumably to commit suicide; Sonya and Astrov beg him to return the narcotic, which he eventually does.

Yelena and Serebryakov bid everyone farewell. When Yelena says goodbye to Astrov, she admits to having been carried away by him, embraces him, and takes one of his pencils as a souvenir. Serebryakov and Vanya make their peace, agreeing all will be as it was before. Once the outsiders have departed, Sonya and Vanya pay bills, Maria reads a pamphlet, and Marina knits. Vanya complains of the heaviness of his heart, and Sonya, in response, speaks of living, working, and the rewards of the afterlife: "We shall hear the angels, we shall see the whole sky all diamonds, we shall see how all earthly evil, all our sufferings, are drowned in the mercy that will fill the whole world. And our life will grow peaceful, tender, sweet as a caress…. You've had no joy in your life; but wait, Uncle Vanya, wait…. We shall rest."

((Feel free to post for your characters below, and remember to have fun with it!))
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The Shanachie Theater / Uncle Vanya (Repertory)
« Last post by Anthony De Luca on October 20, 2019, 03:20:25 PM »

Uncle Vanya
21st October to 2nd November 2019
Shanachie Repertory Company


Cast

Uncle Vanya - Hugo Durant
Yelena - Kiri Calderon-Spencer
Astrov - Laurence Hale
Serebryakov - Marcus Spencer
Maria - Leah Fuller
Sonya - Phyllis Miller
Telegin - Cary Lyons
Yefim - Byron Warren
Marina - Helen Payne

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The Shanachie Theater / Re: The Shanachie Theater Calendar
« Last post by Anthony De Luca on October 20, 2019, 03:01:18 PM »

Uncle Vanya
21st October to 2nd November 2019
Shanachie Repertory Company


Uncle Vanya is a play by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. It was first published in 1898 and received its Moscow première in 1899 in a production by the Moscow Art Theatre, under the direction of Konstantin Stanislavski.

The play portrays the visit of an elderly professor and his glamorous, much younger second wife, Yelena, to the rural estate that supports their urban lifestyle. Two friends—Vanya, brother of the professor's late first wife, who has long managed the estate, and Astrov, the local doctor—both fall under Yelena's spell, while bemoaning the ennui of their provincial existence. Sonya, the professor's daughter by his first wife, who has worked with Vanya to keep the estate going, suffers from her unrequited feelings for Dr. Astrov. Matters are brought to a crisis when the professor announces his intention to sell the estate, Vanya and Sonya's home, with a view to investing the proceeds to achieve a higher income for himself and his wife.
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The Shanachie Theater / Re: The Rocky Horror Show (Theater Company)
« Last post by Eregor on October 20, 2019, 10:58:51 AM »
In all of his years on stage, Eregor had never been in a production of Rocky Horror. He had seen the film, of course; he was even part of the "cast" for a season during one of his university stints, every Friday night for a few months. But he had never been in a production of the original stage show.

Until now.

His favorite tune was, naturally, the Time Warp, which always made him grin at the absurdity of it. "One of these days," he told Yasmin during an intermission, "I'm going to get back home and perform that song--and dance, of course--on the steps of the Prydonian Academy, just to see if those arrogant, red-robed smegheads would crack a smile."
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The Shanachie Theater / Re: The Rocky Horror Show (Theater Company)
« Last post by Raul Stoneson on October 20, 2019, 10:25:21 AM »
As the Shanachie's resident makeup master, Raul enjoyed the opportunity to get a little wild in his work, and The Rocky Horror Show fit that opportunity perfectly without going overboard. He took pride in working without using glamours and magic to shape the cast into their parts:

- a little airbrushing to turn Asher Price into the golden Adonis that was Rocky
- the hunchback prosthetic and wig that made Hugo into Riff Raff
- numerous surgicial scars on Doran for the role of poor Eddie
- an appropriately-colored wig and exaggerated beauty makeup transformed Carina into Magenta
- heavy highlights on the assorted chorus

Frank was the easiest to do; he simply showed Yasmin the colored sketch of what he had in mind, and she was able to match it easily. Working with a shapeshifter may have been cheating, but it did make his job a bit easier at times.
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Riverview Clinic / Re: Interoffice Memos
« Last post by Maranya Valkonan on October 20, 2019, 07:36:29 AM »
Interoffice Memo

To: Mami Tharadon, Sidney Allan, Bridget Rose Dillon, Norbert Donnelly, Rebecca Diane Foxleigh, Margaret Harrigan, Oliver Hammond Jones, Snor Lax, Jordan Mueller, John Orchard, William Payne, Harold Sherman, Kevin Tanner, Regina Tillworth, Kieran Dorst, Spider Savaris, Rillian Blaine

From: Maranya Valkonan, Chief of Staff

Re: Halloween Celebrations

Due to the generosity of local merchants and other interested charitable parties, we at Riverview once again have a fine stock of candies, costumes and other treats to distribute to the patients here for Halloween.

Although the temptation may be great, I must ask that the staff please refrain from delving into the stock on hand for personal use until all of the current patients have had their share. There have already been reports once again of many candies, including peanut butter and chocolate pumpkins and marshmallow bats and ghosts, disappearing from the stockroom. Please, think of the children before you indulge.

Departmental Trick or Treating for the ambulatory patients will be held as usual on Halloween day from noon until 5 pm. Each department will receive an equal portion of the candy and treats to distribute to the patients when they come to visit.

Staff is encouraged but not required to dress in costume for Halloween. Please keep good taste and practicality in terms of your duties in mind when selecting costumes.

--Maranya
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Life on the Other Side / Re: Ghosts (18+ violence, language, adult themes)
« Last post by Miles on October 19, 2019, 11:23:40 PM »
Miles gripped the wheel of his Mercedes, his mind preoccupied with Falk and the increasingly dire situation at their feet.  Two more of their operations had fallen and his boss was not handling it well.  That confident, cool facade had begun to show cracks.  He wasn’t sure how this would all play out, but Falk repeatedly assured him it would be fine.  Miles wasn’t so sure.  Worse than that, he wasn’t sure if he cared.  After all he’d seen and done, the kid wasn’t certain he wouldn’t enjoy seeing the old man get taken down.  A lifetime in lockup was the least he deserved. 

Tessa sat beside him, humming along to the song on the radio, blissfully unaware of the whole crumbling mess.  God, he loved her voice.  Smooth like velvet.  Part of him wanted to tell her, but another was glad she didn’t know.  Being with him was dangerous for the young starlet.  When Falk did go down, he’d be sure to create as much collateral damage as possible.  She’d be better off if he just disappeared, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it.  Tessa centered him, made him feel safe.  She made him feel like he was more than Jakob Falk’s blunt instrument.  Like he had a purpose beyond doing damage with his fists.  Giving that up might kill him. 

The girl had come into their room, all fired up and talking about a new gig.  Whenever Tessa got excited she’d pace around the room and let loose, rapid fire, speaking so fast it was hard to keep up.  It was hard not to smile along with her.  The Golden Pearl was under new management and they wanted her there.  He didn’t know much about the place, but he was certain his boss did.  He knew about everyone and everything, it seemed. He supposed he should have told Falk where they were going.  He’d probably be pissed to know they went somewhere so high profile without his discretion.  Personally, Miles didn’t care.  Where Tessa went, so would he. Falk didn’t have to know.

The Golden Pearl was lit up like Christmas.  A bright beam of light in the inky black night of the city.  Not really his kind of place.  He preferred the cigar lounge.  That old-fashioned, quiet, refined sort of setting with a smoking hot singer crooning out a mellow tune over the well-dressed crowd.  A uniformed valet met them at the front, politely helping Tessa out of the vehicle.  Miles stepped out into the cool night air, still alert in case they were being watched.  The streets were clear.  If there were unfriendly eyes on them, they were well hidden.  Miles smiled to the valet and handed over his keys. 

The warmth of the casino wrapped around them like a hug as soon as they passed the threshold.  Music piped through speakers all over and the sounds of slot machines filled the cavernous room.  An impeccably groomed gentleman in a fine suit greeted them as they entered the main lobby.

“Ms. Bradley.  Welcome to the Golden Pearl.  We’re honored to meet your acquaintence!”  He said.

Tessa put on that beaming smile of hers and affected that slight southern twang she used at her shows.  “Why thank ya!  It’s absolutely beautiful!”


“Ms. Faras wishes me to direct you to the elevators, but if there’s anything I can get for you, food or drink?”

“Oh, bless your heart.   No, thank you, I think we’re fine.”  She said polite as can be.

Miles almost interrupted to ask for a scotch, but decided against it.  Better to keep his wits about him.  The man walked with them, talking about the history of the casino and its previous owners, but Miles was hardly listening.  This place was a nightmare for someone like him.  Plenty of places for an attacker to hide, lots of noise and light pulling at the eye.  It was distracting.  Distraction was bad.  Distraction got you killed. 

They stepped through the elevator doors and their guide placed a card into a slot.  “Ms. Faras will see you upstairs, this elevator will take you directly to her office.  Please, enjoy your evening.”  the man said.

“We will.  Thank you very much for your hospitality.”  Tessa smiled to him.  Miles only offered a tight smile and terse nod.  The doors slid closed and the elevator began to rise. 

Tessa immediately dropped the act, her eyes going wide.  “SOMEBODY likes his cologne.  Jesus.”

Miles chuckled despite himself.  She looked over at him with a smirk.  “Oh, come on.  You know you were thinking it.”

“Maybe a bit.”  He joked.

Tessa stared at him for a moment.  “You alright?  You seem kinda tense.”

Miles turned to her and forced a smile.  “Yeah.  Hell yeah.  Just...new place, new people.  I’m much better when I know where I’m going and who I’m dealing with.”

She wrapped her arms around his and rested her cheek against his shoulder.  “Relax.  It’s gonna be fine.  I’ve done, like, a million of these things.  Plus...if anyone gives us crap...you can always just beat ‘em up.”

Miles couldn’t help but smile.  He turned his head and laid a kiss on her forehead.  The elevator pinged, announcing their arrival.  The doors slid open to reveal the reception area of Tahlia’s office.  The receptionist looked up from her screen, looking professionally immaculate, aside from the headphones.  She smiled to them.  “Ms. Bradley?”

Tessa smiled.  “That’s me.” she said in a little sing song. 

The receptionist smiled politely and turned to Miles.  “And Mister…?”

“Miles.”  He said simply.

She stared a moment, taken aback.  “Mister...Miles.  Alrighty then.  Ms. Faras will see you now.”  she said gesturing to the double doors. 

Miles took point, reaching the doors first.  He didn’t notice the woman glance over her shoulder with a look concern before he turned the knob and gave the door a push.  The face on the other side was decidedly NOT Tahlia Faras.  It had been months and his hair had grown and he’d packed on some muscle, but he knew that face. 

“...Simon?”  Tessa said, confused.

Miles immediately snapped.  He charged at the blonde stranger, his forearm hitting Simon’s chest, driving him back into the office.  Simon went with it until he sidestepped and threw Miles into the back of a couch, his abdomen slamming into the hard backrest.  The young man grunted in frustration and a twinge of pain.

“Miles!” Tessa screamed in shock.

The boy swing wild, backwards at Simon’s head, but the older man leaned away and stepped back.  Their first fight had caught him by surprise, but now Simon was in control.  He kept his distance, staying as non-confrontational as possible while Miles squared off.

“Don’t, kid.”  Simon said.  “I’m not here to fight you.”

“**** you!”  Miles said, throwing a punch.  Tessa watched in horror as Simon knocked the attack aside, blocking everything her boyfriend was throwing at him with ease, but he never retaliated beyond a push.  Miles grew increasingly frustrated as they went.  With a feral yell, he threw a vicious right cross, but Simon leaned past it and shoved him into a glass shelf.  Bottles of expensive liquor fell to the ground, shattering with the shelves at they fell.  Oh, he’d definitely owe Tahlia for that one.

“Simon, please, stop!”  Tessa begged him.

“Ain’t up to me, kid.”  Simon said plainly.  He kept his gaze on Miles.  “We don’t have to do this.”

“Yeah.  Yeah, we do.”  Miles growled,  He charged at Simon, tackling him over the couch, flipping it in the process.  The pair of them rolled onto the floor, Simon clutching him by his jacket’s lapels.  Miles had the upper hand, finally.  His fist connected with the older man’s jaw, hammering his head to one side.  It was a good hit.  Simon was almost proud.

Before Miles could throw another punch, Simon rolled and pinned him.  “Stop!  You don’t need to do this!”

Miles snarled and ripped an arm free, once again, hitting Simon in the face and knocking him off of him.  Tessa turned to the doors, moving to get help, but found them locked.  “Help!  Help, please!  They’re going to kill each other!”

Simon scrambled away, putting some distance between the two of them.  Blood ran from his lip, his eye already red from Miles’ last punch.  He breathed heavily, eyes on his son.  “Please, Miles. Don’t make me hurt you.”

But the boy wasn’t hearing it.  Once again he tried to tackle Simon, but the older fighter’s leg braced backwards for it, taking the blow to his abdomen.  Miles struggled against his superior strength.  The farm had done Simon some good after all. 

Miles laid a few hits to Simon’s ribs, but he just took it.  Finally, he’d had enough.  Simon grabbed him by the shirt, whirled him around, hooked a foot behind Miles’ ankle and slammed him down through a glass coffee table.  Tessa’s scream echoed through the room.  Simon stumbled back against Tahlia’s desk, clutching his ribs and gasping for breath.  Miles stared up at the ceiling surrounded by broken glass.

“Look at us.”  Simon panted.  “Look...at what he made us.”

Bits of glass cut into Miles’ hands as he tried to push himself up.  His jacket was tattered and cut, blood seeping from his back.  For the first time, he really looked at the man before him.  Scars on his face and on those tattooed arms.  The same kinds of scars Miles bore all over his body.  Scars earned through the blood and tears of the boys in the pits.  Scars he’d be given as muscle for Jakob Falk, collecting from his victims and punishing his enemies.  And those eyes...they seemed haunted.  But most of all, they seemed familiar.  Like mirrors of his own.

“Who the hell are you?”  Miles asked, wincing as he sat up.

Simon eyed the boy before him.  The son he’d never known existed,  a piece of him right before his eyes.  A perfect reflection of himself and what he might have become had he not escaped.  The son he could not save.

“I’m your father.”
8
Of Gall And Grangers / Re: A Very Long Morning
« Last post by Josh Stuart on October 14, 2019, 01:28:21 PM »

"And for the better," Keira agreed. "This isn't something that will come up for a few years, anyway. They'll name this child the nominal heir, no matter what."

Dru sighed. "That is true. But this family still holds the power, and we will exercise it if we have to."

"Enough talk about politics," Jamie said, hoping to change the subject to more pleasant topics of conversation. "How long are you staying in Rhy'Din?"

"Just a few days at most," Josh replied, though he didn't think it would even be that long.

"Two days?" Dru ventured, looking as Josh as though wanting to confirm that. "We won't be away for long. And you are due at the palace for dinner at some point, you know. Uncle Julius' guest lists have been getting stranger."

"Why's that?" Jamie asked, licking his fingers as he finished off a piece of cake. He knew Dru's uncle was getting older, but he wasn't sure about his health.

Dru laughed as she leaned. "We had ... who was it last night?" She looked as Josh as she racked her memory. "A beekeeper, and a trapeze artist who moonlights as burlesque dancer?"

"Something like that," Josh said, not too sure himself.

"Why's he inviting beekeepers to dinner?" Jamie asked, as surprised as he was curious. "Are bees in danger?" That didn't really explain the trapeze artist though.

Chuckling, Dru shook her head. "The public/private dinners are about meeting people who are foremost or notable in their fields," she explained to Jamie in amusement. "But my uncle doesn't usually stretch much beyond politicians, teachers, and musicians usually."

"Maybe it's for your benefit," Jamie suggested. Now that Dru was going to be queen, maybe Julius was hoping to introduce her to more than just the usual round of politicians and affluent citizens.

"Possibly, but the impromptu demonstration of how to make nipple tassels twirl over dessert was a little much." Keira stared at Dru for a moment, and abruptly burst out laughing, hastily setting her tea cup down as she tried to imagine that.

Josh frowned, looking more worried than amused by Dru's admission. "It's a bit strange," he admitted, which was a bit of an understatement.

Meanwhile, Jamie's jaw had dropped open, clearly shocked. "A bit?" he asked, sarcastically.

Giggling faintly, Dru shook her head again. "There are other people we would have chosen to invite, but if he is trying to broaden our horizons, it's rather sweet."

"Why else do you think he'd be doing that?" Jamie asked curiously, hoping it wasn't because the man was starting to lose a grip on his sanity.

Dru's smile faded. "He's not well," she said quietly. "Honestly, I don't think he ever really recovered from that stroke. There's a good chance he'll abdicate within the next few years. These new people at the dinners might be his way of trying to keep himself interested in his position until we're more established as parents."

"You don't think he'd step down before that?" Jamie inquired. He didn't want to see it come to Parliament having to force the issue, but he wasn't sure how unwell her uncle was.

"Well, with the whole queen thing decided, I'm a little concerned he might announce his abdication at New Year," Dru admitted. She did not want to go through a coronation while heavily pregnant.

"How bad is he?" Jamie inquired uncertainly. From the little they'd told him, he wasn't too sure, and it didn't seem like a good time to leave Josh and Dru to deal with the responsibility of running a government when she was pregnant with their first child.

"He's not confused or anything like that," Dru tried to reassure him. "I think he's just tired. A lot has happened in the last few years, after all."

Keira nodded. "I doubt your uncle would simply abandon you to rule alone, even after abdicating," she pointed out. "He loves you both too much to do that."

"I'm sure he will continue to advise us even after he steps down," Josh remarked. For some reason, he didn't really like the word abdicate. It seemed to have a negative connotation to it, for some reason. "What about Father?" he asked, changing the subject slightly. "He hasn't mentioned retirement yet, has he?"

"I don't think anything has been said about that," Keira mused, looking to Jamie. "He's just as vital and involved as ever he was. Case in point, driving out to Roslae today to take tea with four different farmers."

"That sounds like him," Josh replied, chuckling a little to himself. He used to think his father kept himself busy because he missed their mother so, but as he got older, he realized it was just the way he was.

"He did promise to be home for dinner," Jamie said, glancing at his watch. It wasn't that late yet, but it was nearing time to wake the boys from their nap.

"There is no way he is going to miss having the pair of you here for dinner," Keira added in amusement, She caught Jamie glancing at his watch, just as the soft sound of someone scrabbling at the door made itself known. "I swear those boys have internal alarm clocks."

"Did they get out of bed by themselves?" Josh asked, arching his brows in astonishment. He'd assumed at least one of those boys was still sleeping in a crib. Then again, he didn't know much about raising children ... yet.

"Freddie has worked out how to break Nate out of his crib," Keira told him with a resigned smile, rising to her feet to open the door. Two little boys, blonde hair disheveled from their nap, came tumbling into the room, bright-eyed and smiling.

Anything Josh might have said about that was put on hold as they were joined by the two boys in question.

"There they are," Jamie said, opening his arms to give them each a hug - if they wanted one. "All bright eyed and bushy tailed, I see," he remarked, grinning from ear to ear.

Freddie lurched over to hug Jamie, but Nate was already toddling toward Josh and Dru, climbing up into Josh's lap with a wide grin. "'Lo," the youngest Stuart said happily, eyes focusing on the leftovers of lunch. "Sammich."

"I wonder which one takes more after his father," Josh teased, reaching for a finger sandwich while the little boy made himself comfortable on his lap.

"I don't know, they're both pretty food oriented," Dru said, nodding to Jamie's lap, where Freddie was reaching for a piece of cake. Keira chuckled as she sat down. "Just you wait - give it a year, and you'll have half of this problem, too."

"Not if we have a girl," Josh said, though he knew what she meant. He hadn't told Dru, but he was secretly hoping for a daughter - a little girl just like her.

"You'd be surprised," Keira drawled, switching out the cake for a sandwich before Freddie got hold of it.

The little boy pouted at her, but munched away happily nonetheless. "We gon' play Pirates, Unca Jos'?"

"Sure, we can play pirates, but you have to go easy on your Aunt Dru," Josh warned. "You remember when Nate was still growing inside your mum?" he asked the little boy. "Aunt Dru is gonna have a baby, too, so we have to be careful not to hurt the baby growing inside her."

Freddie stared at him. "Mummy got one too," he said, looking suspiciously at Dru. "Did you give Mummy a baby, Arnie Dru?"

Dru opened her mouth to reply, and abruptly squeaked as Nate prodded her bump through the sweater. "Well, excuse me, little man!" she laughed instead.

Josh chuckled. "It's not catchy like a cold, Freddie," he told the boy, glancing at Dru to find Nate poking her bump. "See that bump? That's the baby," he explained to both boys, though he wasn't sure whether little Nate would understand.

Nate looked up at Josh for a moment before a wide grin split his cheerful face.

"No," he giggled, denying the miracle of pregnancy with all the confidence of a small child.

"Arnie Dru gon' play wiv us?" Freddie asked, dismissing the whole conversation as boring.

"I can play little games, sweet cheeks, but not big moving ones," Dru told the toddler with a smile. "Making a baby is tiring."

Freddie rolled his eyes, apparently already fed up of babies, and slithered off Jamie's lap. "C'mon, Unca Jos'," he declared. "Me an' Natty got a tree house."

Jamie couldn't help but chuckle a little at his boys' reaction to the news that they were going to have a cousin. "Sorry, Dru. I guess they're not that easily impressed," he told her.

Meanwhile, Josh let Nate slid off his lap before taking the little boy's hand. "Lead the way!" he told Freddie, though this was the first he was hearing of a tree house.

Claimed by the two little boys, Josh was in for an entertaining afternoon at the very least. It had been a long time since the two brothers had been able to bring their families together without ulterior motive, and once Oliver arrived, the evening became even more comfortable for everyone involved. With so many high political players at the table, it was nice to remember every once in a while that they were, first and foremost, a family.

Given all their duties and responsibilities, it was an important point to remember. While the rest of the nation might only think of them as royalty, here among family they could just be themselves. Just Josh and Dru, Jamie and Keira, Oliver, and the boys. Whether they lived in a palace or a mansion or a cottage, home wasn't about the place where they lived, but the people they called family. And tomorrow, Josh and Dru would be traveling to another place to see another family - back to Rhy'Din, another place they called home.

That was what would get them, all of them, through the struggles that were bound to come - family.
9
Of Gall And Grangers / Re: A Very Long Morning
« Last post by Josh Stuart on October 14, 2019, 01:27:21 PM »

"Or both," he said, which was more likely. He brushed a kiss against her lips again, lowering his voice for her ears only. "Should we tell them they can come back in now?" he asked with a smirk.

"Oh, I daresay they'll reappear when lunch gets here," Dru predicted. Jamie had a tendency to be ruled by his stomach on occasion. But she appreciated that they had chosen to give up space so that this conversation could be had.

"Will you go with me to talk to Mataya?" he asked, sounding just a little nervous about that conversation, as much as he knew the woman would understand. His only regret was the fact that he didn't want to let Mataya down.

"Of course I will." Dru's smile warmed at the thought of seeing old friends in Rhy'Din again. Mataya had once employed both of them, and she was Jon's best friend. Even if she was deeply disappointed, there was no way Mataya De Luca would take it out on Josh.

And there was nothing that said they couldn't perform again someday, if the circumstances were right. "I love you, Dru. More than anything," he told her, resting his brow against hers. More than politics, power, and money, and even more than a career in the theater.

"I love you back," she murmured, leaning into him with a warm sigh. "No one will ever make me feel the way you do. When I'm with you, I feel safe. I'm home."

"I'll always do my best to keep you safe, to love you, and to take care of you," he assured her, though she had to know that already. "Both of you," he said, settling one hand against the bump she'd been trying so hard to hide.

Her hand covered his, a soft blush touching her cheeks at the knowledge that they had made a baby together. "This time next week, no more hiding," she said in amusement. "I finally get to wear those maternity clothes Lucia has been fitting me for."

"It has to happen sometime," he told her, chuckling. Thankfully, she had made it past the first trimester, but she wouldn't be able to hide the pregnancy much longer.

Dru grinned, genuinely looking forward to not having to wear less-than flattering fashions or hold things in front of herself in public. A soft knock at the door announced the arrival of a pair of maids, bearing trays of tea and fruit juice, sandwiches and cake, and immediately behind them, the other Stuart couple, not even trying to make it look as though they hadn't been waiting for the perfect moment to return.

The male half of the other Stuart couple beamed a grin as he rejoined them. "Did you miss us?" he asked, his excuse about Natty crying completely forgotten.

"Oh, were you gone?" Dru countered, her mood beautifully restored with just a few minutes of vulnerable honesty with her husband. "I had no idea."

"Funny girl," Jamie grumbled, but with a smile on his face. "Hungry?" he asked, eying the tea and sandwiches. He could easily devour it all himself, but thankfully, he did have some manners.

"You're the one that has an appetite like a horse," Josh pointed out.

Jamie looked insulted. "Have you ever seen what a horse eats? No thank you."

"And here I thought you liked sugar lumps," Keira teased her own husband fondly, already pouring the tea for the four of them.

Dru eased forward to the edge of her seat, reaching out to snag a plate and fill it. "Goodness, how long is it since we've had a simple lunch like this?"

"I was referring to the hay," Jamie replied, resisting the urge to stick out his tongue. Instead he helped Keira pass the cups of tea around as she poured them. "How long is it since we've spent any real time together?" he added.

"Too long," was Dru's immediate response, handing her full plate to Josh and picking up another to fill it for herself. "I can't help thinking it would be so much more fun if we all lived in the same building."

Keira raised a brow. "No, we are not moving into the palace," she said with comical dismay.

"Why not?" Jamie said, glancing at Keira as he popped a finger sandwich into his mouth whole. Was it because she didn't want to live under that kind of scrutiny or did she think she'd feel out of place living there? Or was it something else?

"Because it will cause concern among some of the nobility, which will, in turn, cause comment among the population at large," Keira explained with a gentle smile. "You don't want the tide of public opinion to turn against the Stuart family as a whole, do you?"

Dru sighed. "She's right," she admitted. "If you lived in the palace with us, it would be taken as a sign that the Stuarts are making a play for the crown."

Jamie shrugged, unconcerned, and scarfed up another sandwich. "We don't live too far away anyway," he said, though that depended on which house they were staying in at any given time.

"We will simply have to make an effort to set regular time aside to spend with you," Dru said, and it was obvious that she was making a very large mental note in big red letters to make sure that happened.

"Especially now that we're both starting families," Josh pointed out. He understood why Keira and Jamie wouldn't want to live at the palace, but he wanted to make sure they stayed close enough that they could spend time together, especially now that both families were having children.

"Oliver will enjoy spending regular time with you as well," Keira added with a smile. "He's visiting Roslae today, but he'll be back for dinner."

There would come a time when Jamie took over his father's position as duke and they'd have to spend more time in Roslae, but that time wasn't quite yet. "He's going to have two more grandchildren to spoil," Jamie pointed out.

"And he'll love every second of it," Keira predicted. Sitting back with her teacup in hand, she smiled across at the other couple. "So do we know if this is a prince or a princess yet?"

Josh glanced briefly at Dru before answering. "Not yet. There's enough pressure on us to produce an heir, without the pressure of knowing if it's a boy or a girl." It hardly mattered anyway, at least as far as ascendency was concerned. "What about you? Are you hoping for a girl this time around?" he asked the other couple.

"I definitely would like a little girl this time," Keira nodded in agreement. "I'm surrounded by testosterone in this house."

Dru snorted with laughter, rolling her eyes. "Tell me about it."

"What's wrong with testosterone?" Jamie asked, looking just a little defensive. He thought Keira liked being surrounded by men. "At least, we aren't as catty as your sisters," he pointed out, making a clawing motion with his fingers curled and feigning a hiss.

"There's nothing wrong with it," Keira promised laughingly, batting his curled fingers away. "Is it so very wrong to want a little girl to be girly with on occasion? She's going to turn out to be a tomboy with those two leading her down the path, anyway. If this is a girl."

Jamie smirked and bumped her shoulder lightly. "Truth is, I'm secretly hoping for a girl, too," he told the trio, lowering his voice into a conspiratorial whisper. 

"If she's the only girl, she's going to be spoiled rotten," Josh pointed out, knowing his brother.

"As little girls should be," Keira countered with a smile. Dru chuckled, swallowing her mouthful. They all knew that Keira was not about to let any spoiling get out of hand - that war had been won when Freddie was tiny.

"What about you?" Jamie countered, with a nod of his head at the other couple. "Any preferences?"

Josh frowned thoughtfully and looked over at Dru's ever-growing bump. "I know it sounds cliché, but it doesn't matter to me, so long as the baby is healthy."

"Pretty much," Dru agreed with her husband. "And this won't be the only child we have. I want our children to have at least some choice about their future, even if that means naming a younger one heir."

Keira looked surprised, but impressed, glancing between the other couple with a half-smile at her lips.

"Really?" Jamie said, looking equally surprised. "What do you think Parliament will have to say about that?" he wondered aloud, though it was a long way away.

"I think they'll take what they're given," was Dru's answer. She and Josh had, just a few years ago, wrested power back from the old Parliament and enforced the fair election of the new, and were active in the ruling of the country in a way her uncle had not been for much of his tenure as monarch. "This is an archaic form of government, anyway, and we have a young Parliament. I don't think there will be too much objection."

"Things are changing," Josh confirmed, though Jamie must know this already. Even if that change was slow, he hoped it was change for the better. The most important thing to him, though, was Dru's safety, now more than ever.
10
Of Gall And Grangers / Re: A Very Long Morning
« Last post by Josh Stuart on October 14, 2019, 01:27:02 PM »
"No, you look about four months to me," she said with a grin. "Maybe closer to the end of four months than the beginning. It's only going to get bigger from here on out."

"What about you?" Josh asked, as Keira examined Dru's bump. He couldn't yet tell whether his sister-in-law was pregnant just by looking at her, but from what she'd said, it seemed it was true.

"A little under two months, I think," she told him, settling herself on one of the couches comfortably. "I think we are probably due in April."

Covering herself over again, Dru smiled as she sat down on the other couch, toeing off her shoes to get properly comfortable. Josh took a seat beside his wife, fingers still tangled with hers.

"Congratulations," he told Keira, a soft smile on his face that indicated genuine joy for her and for his brother.

"Well, Freddie put up a little fight," Jamie interrupted as he joined them, dropping onto the couch beside Keira. "But we should have at least an hour of peace and quiet."

"Before someone has to put on a dress to play Pirates," Dru said, throwing Jamie a cheeky grin. After all, the two likeliest candidates should be treated gently for a while, right?

Keira snorted with laughter, leaning into Jamie's side. "Congratulations to you two, as well," she said finally. "When will you be announcing it?"

Jamie huffed. "Are you suggesting I play the damsel in distress?" he asked, though it seemed the conversation had moved on without him.

"You do have the legs for it," Josh interjected with a smirk before glancing at Dru in anticipation of an answer to Keira's question. It was really up to her to decide that.

"Why, yes, James, I do believe I am," Dru told her brother-in-law innocent, catching Josh's eye with a gentler smile. "We'll be going over to Rhy'Din tomorrow to tell the rest of the family, so I'll give the PR department permission to make the announcement a couple of days later. Any longer than that, and someone there is going to leak the story."

"Are you going to take a leave from the theater?" Jamie asked his brother curiously, at the mention of Rhy'Din. It was a gentler way of asking if he was going to quit now that his responsibilities in Tirisano were increasing. 

Josh looked at Dru once again, this time with a small frown on his face. "I haven't really thought about it much," he admitted, though he supposed he should.

Dru bit her lip. "We are going to be under more scrutiny from now on," she admitted. "But we can work around it. I know how much you love performing, sweetheart."

"A boy's dream," Josh replied with a shrug. A dream his mother had encouraged and that he'd spent most of his life working toward, but that was before he'd met Dru. Now, nothing else seemed as important as her, their family, and their country.

"Not just a boy's dream," Dru argued, shaking her head. "We'll work something out, I promise." She squeezed his hand, her brow furrowed with worry now that it seemed Josh was once again volunteering to squash his own ambitions for her sake.

Jamie looked between them, wondering why they didn't realize the simplest solution was the best one. "Why don't you just take a leave until after the baby is born and you're settled, and see how things go?" he suggested.

Dru didn't dare show any reaction to that suggestion, knowing from experience that Josh would agree to anything if she showed interest. This had to be his decision. The theater was his dream.

What he'd said was true though - the theater had been a boy's dream. Now, there were far more important things to consider than a career in the theater. Josh sighed. If he'd known how things were going to turn out, he might not have auditioned this past summer.

"Jamie's right," he said, his attention on Dru, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. "You and the baby are the most important thing to me right now, and the theater isn't going anywhere."

"I'm sorry."

The guilt in her eyes was plain to see, absorbing all the blame for his having to give this up, despite the fact that the decision to get pregnant had been an agreement between them both. Across from them, Keira rolled her eyes discreetly, glad she and Jamie had never had to navigate this.

Jamie moved to his feet, pulling Keira up with him. "I think I hear Natty crying. We'd better go check on him. Would you excuse us?" he asked the other pair, tugging Keira from the room.

Keira flickered an encouraging smile to the royal pair as she was tugged out of the room, missing Dru's wince that they had felt the need to leave at all. The princess sighed, shaking her head.

"I can't believe it didn't occur to me," she murmured. "I'm so sorry, Josh."

"Sorry for what?" Josh asked confused. He'd never blamed Dru for any of his own decisions and he wasn't about to start now. He curled his fingers against her cheek with a gentle touch and a soft smile on his face. "I love you, Dru, and I have no regrets."

"I never once thought about what you might have to give up for this," she said, gesturing to the bump at her middle. "It seems selfish to have asked to have a child when I know how much performing in Rhy'Din means to you."

"Dru, I knew when I married you that I might have to give up the theater someday. I know how important having a child is to the nation, but most importantly, I know how much I love you and how much I want this baby. Nothing else is more important than that. Nothing," he tried to assure her, taking her hands between his.

She sighed, twisting to rest her brow to his, clinging to his hands. "I love you so much," she whispered. "I couldn't bear it if I did anything to hurt you, or to make you resent the position being with me has put you in. Promise you'll tell me when you want to go back?"

"I wonder sometimes if my mother knew what she was doing when she encouraged my interest in the theater. After all, we're more comfortable in front of a crowd because of it, aren't we?" he asked, a soft smile on his face as her brow rested against his and he lifted one hand to touch her cheek again.

She smiled faintly. "It did help," she admitted a little ruefully. "At least we know how to deliver a good speech." Her cheek tilted into his palm, her guilty tension fading once more under his reassurance. "Josh ... do you want to be a king?"

He smiled, glad to see his reassurance was helping her to relax, but that question surprised him a little. "King?" he echoed, brows arching upwards. He knew that was a possibility, but it was one he hadn't really thought much about. "I want to be your husband, your partner, and the father of our children, but king?" He shrugged. "If you want me to be, but that's not why I'm with you."

She laughed, a soft huff of breath colored by her smile. "I know," she promised. "And before everything, I am your wife, your partner, and the mother of your children. But it seems more and more likely that Uncle Julius will abdicate within the next few years, and now Parliament wants to name me a queen. Your role won't change, no matter which title you take. Would you rather be king, or prince-consort?"

"I ..." Josh started, trailing off, brows furrowed. "I really don't know, Dru. I'm sure my father would want me to be king, but is the title that important?" he asked, uncertainly. It was just a title, after all. It wouldn't really change anything, would it?

"Perhaps we should wait and see what the public opinion is," she mused. "The title won't change anything for us, but it could change the way you are viewed. Most people expect a king to take precedence over a queen, after all."

"But you were born to be queen, Dru. I am only the second son of a duke," Josh pointed out. "And I do not care if I'm king, so long as we're together," he assured her again. The people might not take well to the second son of a duke rising to become king, when they were so fond of their queen.

"I wasn't even the heir to the throne five years ago," she reminded him, but her expression was more relaxed. "I just want you to be comfortable with how people perceive you, how they look at you. We're under a microscope so much of the time."

"Something we both got used to being performers at the Shanachie," he reminded her with a grin. "I don't mind being a prince, so long as I outrank Jamie," he told her, only half serious. "We can stop at the theater and talk to Mataya while we're in Rhy'Din. I'm sure she'll understand."

Dru snorted with laughter. "You're always going to outrank Jamie," she promised, inching closer to kiss him affectionately. "This might turn into an overnight visit, you know. But that's fine. It's been four months since we took any real time off."

"We might end up with a curious three-year-old waking us up in the morning," Josh told her, returning her kiss with one of his own. Or was she talking about an overnight visit in Rhy'Din? But it hardly mattered. She was right - they deserved a little time off, especially now that she was with child, and they had another family to share the news with.

"Well, whether we stay overnight here or in Rhy'Din, that's usually a gimme," she pointed out. Despite the fact that they had a house of their own on the beach, somehow her nephews always managed to convince an adult to bring them to the house around dawn.
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