(2019-01-27) Naked Voices - Episode 2
Claire joins the three hosts.
Players:
august..sam..anthony..layla..claire..warren..sevin..katherine..

Katherine comes walking out of make up in a short black dress, walking carefully on the five inch heels they've strapped to her feet. The dress from the front looks plain, spaghetti straps at the shoulders, skimming about mid thigh, but when she turns around to fix her chair, black feathered wings are on her shoulders. Her hair has been pulled up into an intricate bun, stuck with rhinestone pins to match those wild shoes she's wearing. "This look okay?" She asks, flitting a nervous look at Sam.

*

"You look great." Sam says, and it's an easy and honest answer because she does. No hesitation in his voice when he considers the outfit. He kept himself dressed much as he did on that first episode - the dress shirt with a few buttons undone, the sports jacket with a bit of a sheen, the close fitting jeans and prominent belt. He paces around the space, watching while others move around the studio to deal with other preparations. The nerves aren't nearly as present as last time, but they're still there. "Layla is going to come by and watch." He confirms, having since texted her after getting Kate's permission.

*

Kate pushes herself up on her chair, gazing down at the cards. "Okay." She says quietly, glancing from the cards to the bartender. She watches him making shots, obviously lost in thought before she smiles over at Sam. "So, today, public sex. First topic. Then we'll move on, gingerly, to things you would be hesitant to tell your significant other." She rests her chin on her palm, eyeing the cards. "August wants us to rapid fire the questions she had last week, she wants to know our responses. You okay with that?"

*

"I might flounder a bit with the second one. Maybe once the conversation starts it will become easier. I try to make honesty a priority, so it looks weird if I then have a list of things that I wouldn't be honest about. And I really don't. Unless I'm not looking at this the right way." Sam's brow furrows but he shrugs - "That's why we have four people. Not everyone has to be entertaining all the time." He nods to the last comment. "I don't even remember the questions she had to answer. So much of it is a blur, but I'm fine with answering anything."

*

"It doesn't have to be things that you're hiding from her. Just things that might not come up easy in conversation." Katherine shifts her gaze to Sam, eyebrows raised slightly. "If having significant others is gonna mute our voices, we might have to re-think that." She nods at Sam about the questions, glancing down at the slender silver watch on her wrist. "She's really cutting it down to the wire here." She mutters, picking up her phone to tap a text into it. "Just remember Sam, hesitant is the key word there. Not lying."

*

"I do get the distinction. Though, it's a slim one. I'll see what comes to me. I'm not trying to be purposefully restrained because I'm dating someone. I was hoping the first show was pretty clear evidence of that." He says with a quick smile. Sam glances toward the phone in Kate's hands and nods. "I guess whatever she found in her bed is taking longer to deal with than I expected. Hopefully she gets here sooner than later. But, gives me a bit more time to think about public sex." He sweeps his eyes around the room, as if considering likely places where that could play out in this very studio. So many cameras though!

*

Kate makes a non committal noise, setting down her phone to gaze over at Sam. "Not in the studio, Sam. Heather will see it, and she'll blackmail you or something." She quirks a brow and settles back in her chair, letting her eyes close so she can deal with her nerves. She murmurs something quietly to herself as she waits for security to either escort Claire and Layla in, or to admit August.

*

"I feel like if I made the choice to have sex in a place with this many cameras I'd have already come to terms with the idea that others might see it. So the blackmail wouldn't work? That being said, I think I'll hold off for now. Not sure I'm quite ready for that." Sam is pacing around the studio, not with any particular direction. Dealing with pre-show nerves while they're waiting for others to hopefully arrive!

*

Katherine follows Sam with her eyes for a few moments from her seat on set, and then she shrugs, looking back down at the cards. "Not sure hmm? Noted." She watches at the bartender walks to the table, setting up shots on the glass surface. "My feelings about that are a little stronger than not sure." Kate is seated at the set table, going through her cards and notes while Sam paces, talking to himself about blackmail and cameras.

*

Sam had invited her to come watch the showing, if she didn't have anything better to do with her Sunday. Layla did not have anything better to do, so after the usual leave the room prep that happens she makes her way towards the studio for the taping. Today she's worn a warm caramel colored wool wrap skirt, knee-high boots and a cream silk blouse beneath a dark red wool coat.

*

Sam would no doubt catch sight of Layla when she was escorted to the studio by the station security. He walks over in her direction, the nerves seeming to fade away for a moment to be replaced by something else entirely. He's smiling when he reaches her and leans in to give a brief 'hello' kiss. "Hey. Glad you made it over. I know the snow is getting really bad out there. I'm pretty sure the forecast right now says it may never stop again. This could be the start of a horror movie."

*

"Not the Donner movie, there is plenty of food upstairs." Kate notes quietly, leaning in to take a sideways look at the shots that were dropped off at the table. "This stuff is green. I don't know if I'm okay with green." She glances toward the bartender and then dips a pinky into the shotglass. After a taste, she doesn't look too concerned anymore. She makes a note on one of the cards and glances up to offer Layla a brief smile hello. "Afternoon, Layla."

*

"Not the Donner movie, there is plenty of food upstairs." Kate notes quietly, leaning in to take a sideways look at the shots that were dropped off at the table. "This stuff is green. I don't know if I'm okay with green." She glances toward the bartender and then dips a pinky into the shotglass. After a taste, she doesn't look too concerned anymore. She makes a note on one of the cards and glances up to offer Layla a brief smile hello. "Afternoon, Layla."

*

Claire's here? Presumably, someone came and let her in or whatever, and let's go with - it's the same guy she's always jabbering with on her way in, and finally gets the end of the story about the parking ticket. "Oh, yay!" she says cheerfully, giving him a totally cool and relevant high-five before they part ways. "Oh my gosh," she tells whoever is in this room. Sam, Layla, Kate, camera-people, whatever. "This snow is serious. Hi, Layla! Was that you that I was following through the parking lot? I can't believe this is going to get worse before it gets better."

*

"Hello…I ended up calling for a ride here, hopefully we aren't stuck after." Layla replies with a smile, returning the hello kiss, a hand lifting up briefly to touch Sam's face before she offers Kate a smile as well, "Afternoon." This is also turned on to Claire as a hello as well, then she laughs faintly, "It's possible? I wasn't looking behind me I'm afraid, just hurrying inside from where they dropped me."

*

"Food and booze and good company? I mean, I could think of worse ways to weather out a storm. We can turn on the cameras and turn it into a reality series. Hopefully we don't vote anyone to go out into the storm, though." Sam casually settles a hand on Layla's back and leads the way into the centre of the studio. "Hello Claire." He says brightly to the younger woman when she comes in as well. "Excited to talk about all the things on camera? That is, if August ever manages to join us?" He glances toward Kate when he says that, curious if any updates have come through.

*

Kate glances at one of the camera men, who lets out a low chuckle, before she leans back to glance toward the doors leading to the entrance hall. "Nothing yet." Her phone hasn't buzzed either. She picks up her shot, sniffs at it for a moment, and then drinks it. "What does the note say on this again? Kermit piss? Who the fuck came up with that." She sets it down and the bartender approaches, frowning as he takes the shot glass to make a new shot.

*

"Oh, that would have been a smart idea. I'm going to have to dig my car out of here when we're done, I'm afraid." Claire makes a face, realizing in hindsight that she should have taken a page out of Layla's book. "Oh well, I guess it will be good exercise. Or maybe Warren will put on some pants and come get me in his truck. Hmm." She shrugs and, sort of wanting for direction here, just loiters next to Layla for now, nodding exuberantly back at Sam. "Hi, Sam! All kinds of excited. She's not here, though?" (Duh, Claire, use your eyeballs!) "Well. I guess I won't feel bad about running behind, then. Can we talk about your beard on-camera? I think that's really topical."

*

"Does Warren really need pants to help you out?" Sam wonders, loitering with the rest of the group in that idle state before something big gets underway. "I'm sure you can talk about my beard, but I'm not sure how far that will really carry the conversation. Though, I could be wrong. I've been surprised before at how far a topic can go." His attention is pulled back toward the bar where Kate tests the drinks, lips twisting in a brief frown. "Was it that bad? Aside from looking a bit like nuclear waste?"

*

"I can't drive, so calling for that is habit more than any forethought of not having to dig a car out." Layla assures Claire with a smile, starting to undo her coat, folding it over her arms as she glances at the bartender, then goes back to listening to them discuss things like the upcoming episode. When Sam mentions the beard again she laughs, shaking her head a moment before she wonders, "Are drinks frequently a part of things?"

*

"Sweet. A little two sweet." Kate responds, reaching for the bottle of water she stashed next to her in her chair. She takes a drink and glances from Claire to Sam. "Plenty of things will come up, if you really want to talk about beards, I don't see why not." She gestures to the cocktails being mixed behind the counter, and then to the shot glasses on the table. "Unless we have someone underaged on the show, drinks will be served, yes."

*

Claire gives it some real thought before she answers Sam with, "Pants are important to go outside in a snowstorm. Other than that…" She teeters her palm in an iffy gesture, then blinks upon Layla. "At all? Oh gosh, do you ever want to learn? I'm not so good at handling a stick," she's going to kill on this show, "but an automatic? Just turn it on and go." Although she eyes the drinks from afar, there's not a word on the subject from Claire, she'll just stay over here in Soberland (it's between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, if anyone needs a map).

*

"We all had a shot at the start of the last episode. It helped the nerves a little. That's all I had though." Blah, blah. Sam doesn't drink much. Everyone present has heard it before. "I also can't imagine too many cases where this show would have underage guests on? I suppose it wouldn't be impossible." He pulls himself up onto one of the stools on the set and casts his gaze idly around the room. "Kate left the horse head, Claire." He mentions. "It was supposed to have a note with it that would have made it way less upsetting. But, the note must have whooshed off the bed when I came into my room. Or something. She was making me an offer I couldn't refuse about co-hosting this show." Or whatever his position is. "So, chances are slim I'm going to be with the fishes."

*

"They made a bet that whoever lost a game of pool had to grow a beard." Layla offers, "You should ask Claire if she still has the picture of the man that inspired it all. Very majestic beard." Although she's not on the show this episode she follows Sam to where he finds a stool on the set, her coat still folded over her arms. The subject of the horses head causes her to look at Kate, then over towards Claire once more before she observes, "It is a good movie." When she reaches where Sam is sitting one of her hands moves, dropping onto his knee for a moment before she offers helpfully, "I'm sure you do this a few more times and the nerves will all go away."

*

Kate glances between the trio, eyebrows raised slightly as they chat amongst themselves. "Just one case of someone underage." She nods to Layla as she offers a bearsdplanation. "I would have been pretty curious to see how Claire would have done with a beard." She taps the new shot glass that is delivered. "It's for nerves, but it's also just because having a drink is something people do sometimes." She glances down at her phone, no response yet, so she sets it down on the table. "We give her another fifteen minutes and then we'll reschedule." She says, settling back into her chair. "While we've got some time.. Claire, do you have any questions that I can answer for you?"

*

"Oh," says Claire of the origins of the mysterious horse-head. "Well, I guess that's better than all the other alternatives, so yay?" She of the Zero Poker-Face clearly finds this weird AF still, but she pastes on a smile and reaches into her pocket for her phone, instead. Swiping through pictures (she takes a lot of them), she gets to the Pauly-selfie, passing it off toward Katherine. It's Claire, and a giant 60-something guy with a missing tooth and a majestic and flowing white beard. "Uhm, questions? I guess not. Other than perhaps a general sort of agenda? I had thought maybe someone would email me something ahead of time, but then everyone was stuck on this 'unscripted' thing, and I didn't want to be the wrench in the gears." All that to say, "But no specific questions. Thanks, though."

*

There's security somewhere around here, but the guy already knows Warren from the last time he was here. The pair are chatting about the upcoming rodeo as Warren's walked to the set. "I'll have some tickets sent over, it's no big deal. Bring your old lady," are Warren's parting words to the guard who goes back to man his post, Warren scanning the set before he spots Claire. She gets a great big smile and everyone else gets a wave. And since it doesn't look like filming has started? "Where should I sit so I'm not in the way?"

*

After being put through the security grinder - no doubt with extra scrutiny afforded on account of his ethnicity - Sevin's been granted a badge and clearance to head up to where the taping is taking place for naked voices. He shows up in a dressed-down ensemble of a faded tee shirt and cargo pants tucked into work boots, with his hands shoved in the pockets of a battered looking dark jacket. The badge itself is clipped to his pants pocket, and he slows as he reaches the doorway, pale eyes scanning for some sign of a particular face.

*

When August arrives, the camera men seem to come to life, knowing things are going to be starting soon. They start clearing the set, setting out the remainder of the drinks, setting cards at each station. Kate is already in her chair, doing a last minute sound test with the earpiece and microphone attached to a box cleverly hidden at her back. The producers and director wait for people to be settled in their chairs. The tall, balding men turn to the guests, smiling warily. "You're welcome to talk among yourselves, but try not to be too loud as to be heard on the set. If we have to tell you more than once to stay quiet, we'll have to escort you off." He says something quietly into his headset and Kate nods, taking a drink of water.

*

Sam has also made his way up to his stool after having walked with Layla over to the edge of the room for a moment. He tries to get himself settled into place and ready to get into the swing of the show. It feels a bit strange with a suddenly large audience of people he knows. Really, they would all see the show when it hit the air - but having them right there? Weirder.

*

Claire will settle in her chair after a, "Yay," that Warren's here. She even goes over and gives him a big, sappy smooch, like it's been way more than a half-hour since parting company. "Thank you, you're the best," with all stars in her eyes and everything. Then she goes over to wherever she's supposed to be, looking around and tapping her feet together and stuff. "See, if you had a beard, you could stroke it thoughtfully now," she asides gravely at Sam. THE BEARD SHOULD HAPPEN, GUY.

*

Sevin lurks somewhere in the wings where he can observe the set without being obnoxiously in the way. There's a little table somewhere at the back with a coffee pot and a stack of paper cups, and he angles that way.

*

When she's walked off the set there is a smile for Sam before Layla moves further out of the way, finding herself a place to watch from that won't be underfoot, and doesn't show any signs that she'll be a problem that needs to be removed.

*

Warren murmurs something to Claire, giving her a big smooch before he goes to take a seat where he won't bother anybody. And while he sits there, he strokes at the scruff on his chin that is looking significantly fuller than it usually does.

*

August and Anthony arrived together a few moments ago. She leaned in to say something to him quietly, then stepped away at the flurry of palpable annoyance from hair & makeup at seeing her in this state. Aug clipped a visitor badge to Tony's overcoat lapel and went with the production people. In fact, she rolled in in shades looking a bit flushed. It took a few in makeup to get her hair situated, which she finally got annoyed and took over, and makeup at the same time—until she got annoyed and took that over too.

She throws her sunglasses onto the nearest table, drops her coat in somebody's hands, fishes a couple of gel caps out of the pocket, and hustles over to the table the absolute last. The straps of her dress are slim and criss-cross her chest high over her jewel tattoo over her sternum. August wears a skintight crushed velvet dress, matching stilettos, and that's about it. "I need a water, thanks. Hey, bitches," said with affection. After a stint in the makeup chair, she's looking fresh and awake. They didn't have black lipstick, though, so she's had to make do with a deep, deep red.

*

The set is finished, and the backdrop of the set looks like a soda shop mixed with a bar. A long counter runs along the back wall, several different types of liquor set up under the shining lights. In the forefront is a tall red table, the top glass, and sitting around the table are four tall legged comfortable chairs. A shot glass and a taller glass with a drink sit at the four places, with a menu slotted in the napkin holder in the middle.

"Welcome to the second episode of Naked Voices. The show where there is no filter, no shame and no holding back." Kate rests her chin against her knuckles, flashing a smile at the camera. She's wearing short black spaghetti strapped dress that, when she turns, shows a pair of fluffy black feathered wings. On her feet are a pair of rhinestone studded stilettos. She crosses her legs before she continues to speak. "I'm Katherine Stone, and with me today I have.." She gestures to August and the camera shifts, bringing the tattooed woman in view. "The Twitter Queen.."

*

Camel overcoat draped atop a stately navy blue pinstriped suit of three-pieces, Anthony Malone busied himself off screen with getting some himself a cup of coffee and finding his way back toward the edge of the film set, standing just enough out of the way as to not be a bother, he sipped on his black coffee silently from the provided white styrofoam cup, watching the show in its production.

*

August seems to take that honorary title to mean she got the most mentions out of Twitter. She pauses with a glass of water in hand, tapping a straw into it before raising it to salute the camera. "August Lexington." She turns to the side to look to one of her co-hosts and says, "Suck it, Ryce." Beat. "In the best possible way." And then back to the camera where she finishes her silent toast before taking a sip. With water. "Welcome back, everybody."

*

Kate quirks a brow at Sam, the camera shifting to him to let him introduce himself, aiming a smirk at August when she takes a sip from her glass.

*

"Sam Ryce." Sam says with his easy television smile when the camera swings around to face him. He's wearing a similar outfit to the first episode - dress shirt, few buttons undone, shiny sports jacket which isn't buttoned at all. Tight fitting jeans and a black leather belt. He keeps his ankles crossed, sitting high on his stool. "That's the only way I know how to do it, August." He adds to her quip, raising a hand toward the cameras in greeting. "It's great to be back. Let's get into the heat of things without much delay." But, he does turn to look toward Claire, certain he knows where the camera is going to go next.

*

Finally, Kate upnods to Claire as the camera swings to her for an introduction. She gazes down at the cards, getting ready for the camera cut back to her.

*

August pops the gel caps into her mouth when the camera's most likely (or not, who cares) panned away, then washes them down with water. She snorts at Sam's response, but doesn't snort her water too. Level up!

*

Sevin notes the big Italian with a flick of his eyes while he's procuring his own coffee, but doesn't offer a direct greeting. Instead, he merely lurks nearby, cup of bitter grounds in hand while he watches the cameras roll and the brilliant smiles come out.

*

Claire has on clothes. They look fine. Professional or something. "Hi! I'm Claire Reed. Uhhhm, thanks for having me on your show." She smiles all expectantly at the people who've done this before, looking at the trio with that 'this is your show' deference that guest stars bring to things.

*

Once introductions are made, the camera moves back to Katherine and she is tapping the cards in front of her with a smile on her face. "Our shot of the day is called Kermit Piss, One ounce of Absolute Mandarin, and an ounce of Apple Pucker. August, we got you some of your mango juice, no kale surprise today.." Her eyes twinkle as she picks up the shot. "To happiness, fortune and never having to say that you're sorry." She taps the table with her shot then brings it to her lips, draining it. She makes a face, probably because this is her second of these shots and she wasn't completely sure she liked it the first time. "We're going to move right in to the topic of the day. Public sex. When is it okay, when should you pass, and would you ever try it?"

*

The shot it taken without much complaint by Sam, giving it a quizzical look after it's done and he spins the shot glass along the table. "My rule with public sex is I don't want to be seen. Like, ever. I get the thrill of maybe being caught thing, and I don't personally care if someone were to see me for my own modesty. It's more that they weren't asking for a show. Consent goes beyond just the two people enjoying themselves." He's happy to jump right into the conversation. Easier than the first show.

*

Anthony canted his head a bit once the intro's were made and the opening shot consumed, though his intrigue piqued at the topic at hand, which caused him to purse his lips and flick a weighty coal-black eyebrow upward, raising his cup of steaming coffee to his lips as he took a long sip, formulating some commentary for later in the evening.

*

"I think I might agree with Sam, but I'm a little more conservative about it in general. It's not meant to be a show." Kate gives Sam a significant look then, an eyebrow quirked because of an earlier comment. "I mean, not unless it's your own personal show or cameras." She picks up her glass of orange juice, taking a sip. "Though, when one says public or even implies it, I don't think they're talking about the local park bench. I dearly hope."

*

Claire drinks, like, a tiny bit off the shot and puts it down and never touches it again. Then folds her hands tidily and squints at Sam, pointing out, "They can just look the other way. I mean, if you walk around the corner and two people are in the middle of something, just walk back around the corner?" She shrugs an unfettered shrug. "Not that I'm advocating for people having sex in the middle of a crowd, but - well, where's the park bench? Outside a school, or outside the strip club?"

*

The question that is the opening one causes a slight raise of Layla's brow, but she keeps any other reaction to herself as she continues to watch the taping.

*

Sevin looks more amused than anything else with the question that's asked. He sips his coffee and watches the faces of the participants as they give their two cents.

*

"You know I almost died from that surprise super food." Aug eyes the glass full of atomic orange sludge, which does indeed look like her favorite mango juice. "To happiness, fortune, and always caring enough to say you're sorry with make up sex." She picks up her glass, amends the toast, and shoots it, insofar as one can shoot a thick fruit juice. She just ends up with her head tipped back about as twice as long as everybody else, waiting for the walls of the glass to drain too. Hey, at least the camera gets a good view of her throat tattoos. She finally gives up, licks the glass out, and plunks it onto the table upside down on a napkin. She glances between Sam, eyebrows pop, and then to Kate. Finally she looks to Claire as the guest answers. "Don't like it, don't look." She agrees, then she lifts a hand and stage whispers, "Look at least once. You might learn something." And then she looks very specifically off camera, and just smiles. And waits.

*

"Oh, it's very different if we're talking a show that people have come to watch. Like - doing it on a stage? Or on camera for anyone to watch that wishes to? Those are both totally fine. But, not really something I'm into personally? I'm into the idea that you want someone badly enough that you can't help yourself. That you need to find an out of the way place because you can't keep your hands off each other? Yeah. I'm on board with that. Just don't don't do it on the table in the middle of the restaurant." He shakes his head again to Claire's points. "Nothing gives me the right to force some unsuspecting stranger to look at my ass, Claire. I get that they can just walk away, but still."

*

"Well I mean, if there is a bench outside of a school, obviously that's not a place for a tryst. Don't do drugs, kids. Don't have sex on school benches." Kate wrinkles her nose and levels a look at August. "Every time you open your mouth I get more and more worried about taking you anywhere. Or potentially amused, I don't think I've figured it out yet." She shakes her head subtly and taps her fingertips on the table. "Haven't been to any of the clubs here in town, anyone ever walked into something like that?" She glances at Sam and looks briefly surprised. "Doing it on a stage? Table in the middle of a restaurant? That's a little too public, and anyone with sense wouldn't go down that road, I hope."

*

"Doing it on stage is a thing. And the restaurant table may have been a touch of hyperbole." Sam replies quickly.

*

August glances over at Kate, her smile curving into that grin that says something's about to come out of her mouth that has the potential to spike ratings or @ dramas. "If you club and you haven't done it in the bathroom or walked in on multiple people doing it in a bathroom, you're going to all the wrong clubs. That's practically the point of uprights bolted to the floor."

*

Katherine says, "Remind me after this taping the fun places you've been vacationing, Sam."

*

"I'm going to give a pass to doing it at clubs. I think everyone going there is well aware that the sex may be happening." Sam agrees.

*

Tolerantly, Claire notes, "Well, there's public and then there's public. Obviously, don't do it somewhere that some poor proprietor is going to be put in the awkward position of asking you to leave. That's just bad manners." She shrugs again. "And don't take all your clothes off, then no one will see your butt at all." And beams. She's so smart~ "Club bathrooms are really dirty," she adds to August, crinkling her nose.

*

"I don't think it's happening in Calaveras, or if it is, people are very quiet." Kate is going to put blinders on for this one, shuddering as she pictures some of her neighbors having far too much fun at clubs. "After the fact I've heard about some things happening in my B&B, I can guarantee that if I catch someone, I'm gonna be asking them to leave."

*

Claire asks, "You don't think people are having sex in public in this town?" Or did she totally misunderstand that comment?

*

"I'm not saying I swan through the town eyeballing potential handholds," August says, though there are those in the room who may mentally call bullshit on the veracity of that assertion, "But you throw back a few margaritas at an open bar cabana party, it's either you or somebody else under the jungle gym at the nearby playground. If it's midnight and the tube slide's rocking, don't sit on the swings and be scandalized." She shrugs, "If it's noon, your ass is going to jail and well it should."

"Club bathrooms are very dirty, but sometimes, Claire, my love, sometimes you need it. You just do. Like oxygen." Aug crosses her arms loosely. And then she looks at Kate. "If you don't want me doing it on the couch, you should rush job the fireplace in the Suite."

*

"Is the B&B a public place? I mean, hotel sex is a bit of a staple." Sam says, then looks toward Claire and grins, before back to Kate. "I'm pretty sure they are."

*

Claire points at Sam. What he said.

*

August quietly sips her water.

*

Katherine says, "I've had to clean the couch enough to know it's happening in the B&B. I haven't caught anyone. I said if I catch them. Also, I'm sure people are having sex in public, I just hope I never walk in on it."

*

August's smile suggests she's not opposed to walking in on it.

*

Claire ohs and nods, satisfied. "I hope that for you, too."

*

"Do you not put a towel down, August?" Sam asks. He was on that couch this afternoon. He'd dropped a piece of croissant on it and picked it up and ate it still.

*

Kate glares at August, trying hard not to laugh. "Don't you dare say what I see going on in those eyes."

*

"Is that a problem for you, Sam?" Aug glances over.

*

Katherine says, "I guess in the end the moral is.. find the road less traveled if you're going to fuck in public, because now people are totally going to be giving those nooks and crannies a second look."

*

"Kate. Have you considered installing mood setting black lights in your living room?" Sam wonders before grinning and shaking his head. He nods to Kate's assessment. That's about it.

*

Sevin is trying very hard to drown his amusement in cheap, over filtered coffee. To some modicum of success.

*

Claire, squinting, "Don't people, like, eat dinner there? I bet you go through a lot of four-oh-nine."

*

August's shoulders are shaking while she tries to sip from her glass, but she doesn't say anything else on the topic for the moment. She lobbed enough grenades into that warzone.

*

"No black lights, new topic. Which..come on, this is going to be a shit show." Katherine gazes down at her cards, frowning. "What are some things you are hesitant to discuss with your significant other. Now, earlier, Sam and I were talking about this - I think automatically he went into the mindset of lying. When it might just be something you're not comfortable with." She levels a look at Claire, smirking. "I clean a lot, keeps me centered. Trust me, nobody has seen any butt prints on my kitchen counters."

*

One hand slowly lifts upwards, fingers covering her mouth as the conversation continues. Evidently much like Sevin, Layla is having a very, very hard time keeping the laughter under control. But she manages to keep it locked on the inside.

*

"Yes. I found this hard to get my head around. I'm pretty firm about my open communication and trust when it gets into relationships - be they relationships or even friendships. So, I'd like to think I'm not hesitant to discuss anything. But, I'm sure that's not true. Some topics are harder than others. I think anything that comes across as criticism is harder to bring up. Trying to tell someone you care for that they do something that upsets you is always tough, no matter how strong the relationship." Sam begins, rolling into the next topic which seems a little heavier than public sex.

*

Claire really has to think on this one. "Only things that might hurt his feelings, really? Not lies or anything. Or," sorry, she's really grasping for something, and finally just shrugs. "I had a boyfriend in college that was a Republican. So we didn't talk about politics. Then we broke up." Big shrug. "Why is it tough? If you love someone, and they're doing something that bothers you, and they love you, too, tell them? They probably would rather know."

*

"I'm not hesitant to discuss anything with my significant other." Kate says, resting her chin on her palm. "He's the hesitant one. My strategy is to ask two questions, with odds favoring that neither will be answered, even odds on getting one if he's distracted, or ..womp womp, I bust and get absolutely nothing." She aims a look at Sam, looking amused. "I mean, if anyone tuned into the last episode, they'll notice that you're open with communication." She picks up her glass. "If you don't tell someone that something they do upsets you, it'll never get resolved. They might have something about you they want to discuss, and it can lead to a healthy conversation."

*

"It shouldn't be tough. But, I still find it makes my gut twist when I have to do it?" Sam says, certainly agreeing with Claire's point. And nodding to Kate as well. "Let me put it out that that this doesn't stop me from addressing the problems. I'm not harbouring a list of grievances that I'm refusing to bring forward. Just that it's harder and that makes me hesitate. Is it big enough to bring up? Is it worth it?"

*

"Oh, like, 'I don't like when you use my soap?' Because I don't like when my boyfriend uses my soap." THERE, the cat's out of the bag. Claire nods firmly. "But I'm not so much hesitant to bring it up as it's just not a big enough concern to make into an issue, I guess."

*

August's attention comes back to Kate as she brings up that topic while literally all of their significant others are in the studio watching the broadcast. She definitely has a borderline look on her face, but it might takes someone who knows her well to interpret it. "Don't lie. If you don't wanna say, say that." She mms and finally puts her water down. "So, babe." She says this to the camera, though it's clearly intended for a specific audience. "I hate your track pants. Hate them. Burn them in a pile on the lawn hate."

"Barring that? I say. And if I don't know it's something I need to say and have waited on, I say it loud an in an argument. It's up to my babe whether he wants to engage them or not, but the shit I yell's probably gonna be sitting there until he fucking does."

*

Katherine says, "It's good that we're open people, because when the rapid fire questions come up, August has requested that we all answer her questions from last week."

*

Claire leans over and tells August quietly, "I hate track pants, too." With a srs bizness nod.

*

"Are we going to get into that soon?" Sam wonders, perhaps not sure what else to say on this current topic. Some things are harder to say to people than others. Hi friend - I found a horse head in my bed at your establishment? He decides not to bring that up on camera though.

*

"Hold your horses, Sam." August says, reaching for a little stack of nearby cards with black backs. She flips through them and glances up at the camera, smiles, then looks to the rest of the table to see if they're ready.

*

"We can. I know she wants to to know how we feel about slapping people in regards to sexual satisfaction." Kate slides the cards over to August, turning to face Sam and Claire, her hands folded in front of her. "We did this with a timer last week, but..we're going to try something different this week. August is going to read a question, and we'll all put out our answer. The goal is to keep it short and sweet, but since we're not timing, feel free to speak up a little bit."

*

"Bring it on." Sam says, leaning back in his chair and stretching his hands out in front of him. An athlete at the top of his game.

*

On the subject of slapping people, August is oddly quip-silent.

"Who," Aug begins, glancing from Claire, to Sam, to Kate, "is more annoying, the person who talks too much," she taps a long nail on the back of the card, "or the person who doesn't talk enough?"

*

"Doesn't talk enough." Sam says easily and does not look toward Sevin.

*

Katherine says, "Person who doesn't talk enough. If you talk too much, I'll just tell you to stop. Politely, of course."

*

August oddly also doesn't look at Sevin.

*

Claire, of course, "I mean, that really depends on the person. Some people talk, some people listen." The sunshine-and-rainbows are especially bright today, so she shrugs.

*

Somewhere in the audience, Sevin is rolling his eyes so hard they might just fall out of his head.

*

Kate takes a drink from her orange juice, uncrossing and recrossing her legs before she shifts to get comfortable. She leans on the arm of her chair, waiting for August to speak up again.

*

August studiously does not re-answer that question this week, and she keeps her eyes on the card for the next question. She clears her throat before she asks, "Imagine that, through some misfortune, your significant other," she pauses, her lips twitch, and then she carries on, "loses the ability to have sex." Now her pale-grey gaze comes up, but flicks only briefly off camera before she stares into the cold black eye of the recording device again. "Do you stay with them?"

*

No hesitation. Claire: "Yes."

*

Katherine says, "When you're dating a quinquagenarian you have to give this some thought. I would probably stay, if he kept cooking for me. I mean, there are toys, right?"

*

August can't help but twitch a little smile when Claire's all in. She reaches over and touches the other woman's shoulder briefly.

*

"This question is too vague to give a proper answer to. Can they do nothing now? I would certainly stay with my partner regardless, but I'd hope that we could figure out an arrangement that still allowed me to have sex in my life. We chatted about open relationships last week, and this is a great place for that kind of thing. Sex and relationships generally go together, but they don't have to." Sam pauses and then shrugs. "If my partner thought I shouldn't ever have sex again? I don't think we'd last."

*

Katherine says, "Takes a special kind of woman or man to be secure enough for an open relationship. So let's hope that's never a discussion you ever need to have."

*

August nods to Sam. "That is an excellent time to discuss an open relationship. I would struggle with that too, no doubt." There's a lot that goes unsaid there. August glances over to Katherine. "For a lot of people, open or casual or multiple relationships are new concepts and may seem a disjointed fit, strange, or really kind of out of the box. I'm the opposite. That's totally in the box."

*

"I don't think of it as disjointed or strange, just more than I know I'm a jealous creature and I have a lot of sharp objects in my kitchen." Katherine holds up a hand, grinning toward August. "Too much temptation."

*

August glances over at Kate. "Speaking of, babe, how fond are you of the end tables in the Garage Suite?" What a strange question.

*

"Are you in an open relationship with them?" Sam asks August, thrown off by that change in the conversation.

*

Kate slowly turns her head to gaze at August, a slightly guarded look on her face. "I refinished them myself, so passingly fond?" A beat. "Why?"

*

August leans against the table, her arms resting there, cards in hand, and draped against her wrist. She reaches up to scratch her neck with the edge of a card. "We may need to replace one. Too much temptation." She doesn't say what sort. Considering who's probably involved, it doesn't take a lot of guessing. "I thought about an open relationship with furniture once, but I save my trysts for the heated seats in my boyfriend's GMC Sierra 1500 Denali." Say that three times fast.

*

Kate makes a noise, probably repressing some frustration that flickers across her face for just a moment. She exhales and gestures to the cards. "Next question." She pulls out her phone and shoots of a quick text, brow furrowed.

*

"Sounds like he has a big truck." Sam says mildly. He finds his glass of water and leans back in his seat to take a long drink from it. He sets it down to wait for the next question.

*

Sevin glances down as his phone goes off, and slips it out of his jacket to check the screen. Quick movement of his thumb to fire something off in return.

*

"Technically it's mine now. But yes, Sam, he does have a big truck." That's basically the perfect lead in to this next question. "When you fall in love with someone," August's nostrils flare slightly. One might think she didn't know she'd be the one asking these questions. There's a steely undercurrent to her voice like the question offended her or something. "Do you go ahead and tell them, or do you wait for them to say they love you first?"

*

Claire eyes Kate phone-texty-thing for a second, and a flash of confusion crosses her face

*

Claire eyes Kate's phone-texty-thing for a second, and a flash of confusion crosses her face, like she can't understand if they're done? But a question comes, so she assumes not, and answers, "I say it when the moment's right. It's not really about who goes first?"

*

"Never know what might happen in the future." Katherine says quietly, gazing at August as she sets her phone down on the table. "If you feel it, say it. Might not get another chance." She gazes over at Claire, head tilting as she catches the look. She glances back at August then. "That question is still giving you some issues?"

*

"I haven't really had this situation come up very much. I think if I felt it I would say it." Sam muses, and while he knew this question was coming he didn't really give it much thought ahead of time. "My only real experience the person in question said it to me way before I was ready to say it back. Which is another awkward situation."

*

August's long lashes shadow her eyes for a moment, that pale gaze down on the cards in her hand. She looks up to Kate, giving the cameras a quarter profile. "Off and on." She has to fight to keep her gaze on Katherine. Her eyebrows come up, her eyes close briefly. "Mostly on." She mms. "I compensate by spending three weeks finding and arranging exceptionally personalized, elaborate gifts."

*

Kate reaches out to pat August's wrist, keeping her fingers resting there. "The next question is a lot less stressful, and don't worry. I still love you. Even if you had something to do with my table getting wrecked." She leans back in her chair, her lips pursed so she doesn't grin.

*

August glances over to Claire, then looks to Sam. She nods. She's quiet for another moment before she says, "The last time I said it was to my Daddy the night before he died unexpectedly, so now it puts me in the red zone when someone's waiting for it to come out of my mouth." August rolls her neck and doesn't look up. "Sorry about your table, babe." Her hand turns and she takes Kate's hand. She flips cards.

*

Katherine says, "Tables come and go, you're staying. I can deal."

*

Genuine Claire tells August, "I'm sorry. That's very sad." The words are trite. The expression is more authentically sympathetic. But also TV so she's not gonna be all LET'S TEAR OFF THAT SCAB AND TALK ABOUT YOUR PAIN RIGHT NOW.

*

Sam's expression sobers a bit at August's comment and he nods. He seems to be in the same court as Claire that this isn't the time to poke at that. Likely that time is never?

*

August gives Kate's hand a squeeze, but doesn't say anything about the table for now. Or the other things. She clears her throat. Okay. This question she likes. You can tell because her lip twitches. "If you found out the person you're dating cannot achieve orgasm without being slapped hard across the face, would you be willing to satisfy them in this way?"

*

Katherine says, "This is a hard one. On one hand I feel like I might get slapped back. On the other, I want to help. It would take some convincing. I'm not very slappy."

*

"Of course." Sam says. That one is way easier. He reaches for his water again and has a sip. He glances over toward Kate and tilts his head. "I mean, getting slapped back doesn't sound all that bad."

*

Kate sighs and glances at Sam. She just gazes at him for a few beats before she sighs again. "I just can't with you right now."

*

Claire mmmms and decides, "No. I mean, maybe once? But every time? My hand would hurt, and it would probably get old pretty quick. I mean, who wants to be pigeon-holed into the exact same scenario every… time… you know?" Pause. "And I wouldn't want to get slapped in the face. It would hurt, people would ask questions, the cops would probably get called." tl;dr, "So no."

*

"I can. I'm happy to slap anybody who needs it." August says, glancing up at her co-hosts. She looks at Sam for a moment and then laughs, then gives the camera a little wink. "Sometimes it's fun when the cops show up. Extra handcuffs and all those sparky tasers." She leans in and says to Claire. "There are people, my girl, who pay triple for that."

*

"Though, if they're slapping you back, maybe it doesn't have to be on the face. I'd be a little more keen in that case." Kate shakes her head and props her cheek on her palm. "Only if those cops are strippers though." She jerks her chin toward August, smiling. "Anybody? Do you take credit cards for payment?"

*

Claire sticks to her (nerf)guns on this one, August. "I mean, sure. Different strokes for different folks, and all. But I don't want to get slapped in the face. It's not my thing. Personally. Consenting adults, et cetera." She might kinda throw a glance toward the audience at the people-pay-triple comment, but… well, okay, yes, she looks at Layla specifically 'cause she is the most transparent person ever, sorry Layla.

*

Sam laughs and shakes his head at Kate's comment. "It must have been that shot." He gestures toward the vaguely green sheen left inside the shot glass in the middle of the table. "More seriously, I think that if you're with someone who has an important sexual desire that you're not willing to participate in - well, it's time for another conversation. If you don't want to do it, it's fine. But, I don't think you can expect your partner to be happy about it?"

*

Katherine says, "I mean, obviously, if they can't achieve orgasm without it, they're gonna get pissy."

*

Kate's eyes flit to the clock, and she glances over at the director, something is said in her earpiece. "Last question, so we can wrap up?"

*

Claire, to Sam, "I think you'd probably have that conversation pretty quickly, right? I mean, the very first time someone is like 'slap me hard?' Is probably the only time. For me." She squirms. "Probably no, though. I don't want to hit people in the face."

*

Layla doesn't even blink when Claire looks at her, just smiles back at her with a bit of amusement.

*

"Yes, Claire. For sure that should be coming up pretty damn early. If your partner is hiding something like that for a long time - well, that's not fair for anyone. You can't get someone roped into a deep relationship and then tell them you only get turned on by slapping. Or any other kinks that might totally fine, but not your thing."

*

"I have a square reader, a paypal.me, and I accept crisp fifties." August replies, without missing a beat. She flips to the very last card in her stack. "I think it's important to give your partner what they need, and they can do the for you, and everybody goes home sweaty and happy." She raises the cards a bit to finish off with this question: "How do you generally feel about people who tend to hug others whom they've just met?"

*

Sam said 'roped.' Claire taps her feet together and nods gravely. "Yep." She definitely listened to all his words.

*

"I'm pretty careful with physical touch. I think I went down this road last episode, so I won't repeat it all again. I personally don't mind being hugged by people right away, but I know enough people who do mind that I think everyone should think about what they're doing. I know it's always coming from a good place, but it makes a lot of people very uncomfortable." Sam says. No forcing people to watch him have sex in public. No forcing people to hug. It's a bit of a theme.

*

Claire, with the head-tilt, "I hug some people I've just met? People who are important to people who are important to me." Yes, that statement is logical. "So I guess I don't really have a 'general feel' about it. Sometimes, a hug seems appropriate. Sometimes, a handshake. Depends on the situation." She should have just recorded herself saying that and played it over and over.

*

"No thanks. I need to know someone at least passingly well before they touch me, let alone hug me. I went to one knitting club meeting, and when they said to hug your neighbor at the end, I snuck out." Kate shakes her head, finishing her glass of orange juice, setting it aside.

*

"Knitters are just gropers in disguise," August notes. She thinks for a moment, then glances up. "Chill out, my perling friends. I, too, knit." She raises her water, and points to Kate with the index finger of the hand holding her cup. "So does she." She mouths for the camera.

*

"Knitting club meetings doesn't seem like the place for hugging." Sam agrees, making a face at that particular scenario. "I get asked for hugs a lot at signings or other events. I'm usually happy to do it so long as they ask politely. But, that's a different … ah, tone?" Maybe that's hard to explain and this likely isn't the place. It's just where he does most of his hugging.

*

Kate manages to keep the laughter silent for a few moments, turning to nod at the camera. "A little different tone, yes, Sam. I have been asked for hugs, and sometimes I feel safe with it, but mostly the answer has to be no. It's just too odd."

*

"The tone that says I have more on my mind than your arms, kind sir, and you will feel my hand migrating to your ass the second we turn toward the camera." August nods. "We know that tone." She turns to glance at the writer once more, "In conclusion, please don't grope the writer at signings, friends."

*

Sam is laughing at the comments, covering his mouth with one hand and raising his water to take another drink to try to simmer it a bit.

*

Kate is getting the 'wrap it up signal' so she turns to the appropriate camera. "Tune in next session when we bring in Vyvyan Vydal. You don't know him? Want to? You have to come see us again." Kate blows a kiss at the camera, waiting for the cameraman to signal that they've cut. She settles back in her chair, a thoughtful look on her face. She glances at her two co-hosts, fingertip tapping at her bottom lip. "Thoughts?"

*

Sam lets out a slow breath and slides down on his stool a little bit, feeling the heat of the camera falling away from his face. He pushes his fingers up through his hair and looks between Claire, August and Katherine. "I thought it went well again? The pace is a bit different with four, but not in a bad way. I think it's good to have another voice in there. Also helps things from getting too - well, too much inside baseball?" He taps his fingers on the table. "I like the everyone answers the quick questions. I think that's more satisfying than just one voice on them while the others just wince in sympathy."

*

Claire is done? She gets out of her chair slowly, in case someone's gonna be like 'omg no not yet!!' but it seems like that's not happening, so yeah. She gets out of her chair, smiling an uninterrupting smile that excuses herself from whatever the co-hosts have to discuss. Hum-de-dum, she'll just wander over to the (surprisingly quiet) peanut gallery and get her stuff together, saying something about beating that snowstorm!

*

Sevin looks to have been absorbed in his phone for most of the taping, and isn't a vociferous person at the best of times. He does look up though once someone yells a 'cut!', brief twinge of a smile offered as Claire wanders by.

*

August finishes her entire water glass when the cameras are cut. She blows out a breath and finds a napkin to wipe off the red lipstick she's wearing, because it's far too waxy and transfers to everything she touches. "I too liked everyone answering the rapid questions." She balls up the napkin and selects another, to be sure she wiped all the lipstick from her face. "I'm sorry about being late."

*

"You did wonderful, Claire." Layla offers to the woman when she moves to start gathering her things, smiling before she starts to unfold the coat she'd been holding onto this whole time. She starts to tug it on, buttoning it up before she checks her own phone for messages, then drops it into her pocket once more.

*

Warren clears his throat once the signal is thrown that the show has ended, easing up from his sitting position to stretch. He's wearing a frown, but it lessens when Claire comes by, and he helps her gather up her things. "I knew you'd do good, but you were great up there," he says in agreement with Layla, kissing Claire on the cheek before he puts his coat back on. "Your answers were really funny."

*

Kate is leaned over her cards, making some notes. She glances toward Claire, a smile forming on her lips. "Thank you for coming Claire, I'll give you a call when things have been edited to let you know when we'll be airing this episode. You did great." She nods to security who is ready to escort people out who are leaving.

*

Claire answers Sevin's smile in the way of someone vaguely familiar, pulling on her stuff and answering Layla with a pleasant, "Thank you. And your man acquitted himself very well." With a quick thumbs-up. To Warren, she makes a more genuine face and says, "Mm, I think I'd rather be the one asking the questions, but. You have to try things, you know? Thank you for coming to get me." There's a series of quick-nods toward Katherine; "Okay, thank you. Everyone be safe out there!" Exit Claire, stage <whatever direction the door is in>.

*

"You were both great again." Sam says specifically to Kate and August before he slides down off his own stool and makes his way toward the audience. "And thank you, Claire. That was great. I hope you had fun. Will chat with you soon." He settles in beside Layla and slips his arms around her. "Did I say anything to get myself evicted from your hotel room?" He wonders.

*

Sevin stays off to the side and out of the way while Kate wraps things up with the crew and her co-hosts. He does appear intrigued at being witness to this side of her, which is pretty far out of his wheelhouse. "Sam," is his terse greeting for the man who passes him by enroute to an embrace from Layla, and he glances at his watch briefly.

*

"Good bye Claire, Warren." Layla calls after the pair that are departing before her attention turns towards Sam, "Of course you didn't." She points out, her smile widening just a bit before she leans in to give him a kiss before she looks past him towards the set and those still present there. "Do you need to do anything else before you can leave? I'll call for a ride if you know how long, otherwise I might wander outside to make a few work calls before you're done."

*

"Sevin." Sam says to the professor after his brief moment with Layla, then to her again - "I think I'm ready to go. Kate? Anything else from me, or I'll see you soon?"

*

"You're good to go, Sam." Kate glances at Sevin, head tilted as she slips from her seat to move toward him in her tall heels. "You gonna give me a ride? Maybe August too?"

*

Kate's actually got an inch or two of height on Sevin at the moment, and his pale gaze tracks her as she draws nearer. Something's considered, and then he elects to lean in and offer his reply in a low murmur tipped toward her ear, his hand cupping her cheek as if to make sure she hears all of it. As for August, "I think I saw Malone lurking somewhere around here." A glance toward the table with the coffee machine, then across to the tattooed woman even as he's speaking again to Kate, "You're a natural in front of a camera."

*

August pulls at her top a little, adjusting it down, and then smoothing her hands over her boobs. "Walked out without a bra." Luckily, this dress doesn't require one, in the strictest sense, still. "Busy morning." Afternoon, really. August isn't an early riser. She slips off of her chair and tugs her dress down a bit. It's fitted to below the knee. She reaches up to run her fingers over her throat, then down to check the seat of the dress straps crossing her shoulders and chest. "He's here, working on some deals right now. Lots of phone time."

Anthony seems to have stepped out for a business call or something, using his guest pass to great advantage, no doubt.

*

Kate grins at Sevin when he speaks, leaning in to give him a kiss on the cheek. "I'm not a natural, I just pretend that it's not there." She holds out a hand to August as her arm curls around Sevin's arm. "Let's go get dinner?"

*

Sevin looks a little speculative when 'deals' are mentioned, but doesn't comment. He does let Kate take his arm, after a bit of hesitation. Gentlemanliness does not come easily to him. "Welcome to join us," he murmurs to August, already digging in his jacket for the keys to his truck. Sadly, it isn't a big truck. It's old and dirty and the engine needs a new crankshaft. He heads for the door after another brief glance to the 'stage'. "Well, you do a very good job of pretending. I'd be shitting myself with that many cameras on me."

*

"The key is taping before you're fully awake so you don't police yourself or think too hard about how your Mama might see this one day and show up in town unannounced." August glances down at her phone after shooting off at least one text. It doesn't buzz an answer, at least not yet, so she goes to figure out where the heck her sunglasses and coat ended up. She finds them nearby in short order, just out of the view of the camera, and pulls both on. Her lips are still very faintly tinged pink, but otherwise bare.

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