thepainted_lady: (The things I see...)
[personal profile] thepainted_lady
Memeish thing that's gone around now and then, but also helps others see how you see and play a character. This is subject to being added to at any time, but I figured I'd go ahead and post what I had now, as I'm starting to run out of steam and think I hit the high points.


Childhood/Pre-canon/My interpretation of "The Painted Lady"

  • Is the youngest child of two daughters.  Carol, her older sister, is at least 8 older than her.
  • Mom left when Lydia was 5 or 6.  Probably had an ability, given Lydia and Amanda's, but Lydia doesn't know about it, if so.
  • Was raised very strict Catholic
  • Carol raised Lydia, pretty much. Dad was fairly absentee at that point, but verbally and emotionally abusive when around.
  • Carol moved out when Lydia was 12, leaving her alone with Dad.
  • Lydia's power manifested about the time she hit puberty--and so did Dad's interest.
  • From 12-15, without Carol there to protect her or see what was going on, was sexually abused by Dad.  When she tried to tell Carol, to beg her to come and get her and take her away, too, Carol didn't believe her.
  • Met Danny Maher when she was 15. He was 18, and he convinced her to run away with him. She did.
  • Knew Danny didn't love her, through her ability, but she hadn't learned to trust it yet, and he was better than her father.
  • When she got pregnant, Danny was planning to abandon her on the streets--she read that off of him--so she ran back to the only place she knew she could go--back to Dad.
  • Dad didn't want her now, though, all knocked up with someone else's kid and kicked her back out for her "betrayal."
  • She hitchhiked to Carol's, in Connecticut.
  • Carol took her in, and when Amanda was born, Lydia knew she wanted the baby more than she wanted her sister around, so she ran away again.  Besides, it was Amanda's chance for a normal life.
  • Was on the streets and hitchiking with no destination in mind for a few weeks before she found Joseph and the carnival.  She was 16.

Carnival/Canon

  • Edgar: BFF. Hands down, end of story. She could love him, if she'd let herself, but given her past, she's never let herself go there, because the thought of losing him as her BFF is way too risky. She needs him to be there, needs him to protect her, needs to know she can always count on him. To sleep with him would potentially fuck that all up and she could lose him, because the men who sleep with her?  Well, they get what they want and walk away. This is her experience. So, she'd rather have his friendship than take the risk. (Obviously, in some verses, he's convinced her it's worth the risk, and I'm always happy to explore this in RP, because I think she really does love him, and they have a chance for a healthy, happy relationship--but it's work, and it won't be easy and as damaged as she is...yeah.)
  • Samuel: She's drawn to him, compelled by him, and honestly pretty much enthralled by him.  Part of her is not taken in by his charisma and his charm, she finds it amusing and can even tease him about it.  That part of her is the part that knows him--as much of himself as he's put into her, with ink and secrets and everything through the years, she probably knows him far better than he knows himself.  It's that part that keeps her faith in him, even when he does bad things--because she knows he's not evil through and through and that he has the potential for so much greatness in him. And there's the part of her that wants to believe in the magic man who can fix everything and make their hopes and dreams come true--she knows Samuel's not as confident as he seems, but she believes in  him anyway.  She defied Joseph for him--to start their whole little ink/skin/empathy/power exchange they had going. Joseph hated it and did not approve, canonically, but Lydia totally was all about it. Her rules about men and sex and leaving her don't seem to apply to Samuel--and possibly it's because he seems so much above her, or because he's so much older--she'd pretty much let him use and abuse her, but a lot of this is because she truly believes he needs her as much as she needs him, and that there's a part of him longing as much for her as she is--she's tapped into that romantic side of him, and not knowing about Vanessa, never digging that deep...yeah. In later canon this starts to change as she starts to see him motives aren't for the family, and when he calls on her to do things more and more she doesn't want to.  When he blames and banishes Edgar for Joseph's death, she falters some, but...she's still loyal. She still pulls Claire in without very much reservation.  She still helps Samuel.  It's really not until she knows about Vanessa that she snaps and starts half-plotting against him, and it REEKS more of woman-scorned than anything else. Seriously--watch the scene when she sees Vanessa's picture and the look she gives him and watch how her attitude changes in later eps.  But even then, she won't take a full stand until she has back-up.
  • Edgar/Samuel: So, yes, there's a lovely triangle set up that is MOST evident in the Slow Burn webisodes (which if you aren't fully convinced of Samuel's power over her, srsly--watch them. Watch how she reacts every time he touches her. Even as upset as she is about Amanda and all of her little defiant moves...she melts when he gets all purring and convincing, and Edgar wants to bang his head on things. Lots.) But she knows, deep down, that Edgar's the better choice for her and for Amanda--he's just got to be able to break that spell, and w/o Vanessa to break it, that's a tough spell to break. Really, she'd just like it if they'd decide to play nice and threesomes could be for the win. It would make her life so much easier, for srs.
  • Sylar: She likes him. She really, really does.  She totally fucked him because Samuel wanted her to, and played nice and took him under her wing at Samuel's direction, and to make him feel at home.  She knew her role, and she played it well, but she really did like him, too.  She was scared of him when he came back, and yeah, pissed at Samuel so with her own agenda, but she was not physically unresponsive and while she was using her sexuality to get what she wanted, she had more than a little fun with him along the way.  Enough that they connected enough for him to take her power--which I believe firmly wasn't just the sex. And then that shook her--she's not used to being read, and he read her, and maybe he only got a surface impression of what she wanted, because there was so much UNDER wanting Samuel dead, but that threw her, and there was the fight and she's sad now in my head in a lot of places, because, yeah, she used him, and she was playing him, on some level, but on the other--she really did like him, and there's a sort of wondering that will always be there, about what really being with him could have been like.  Edgar only got it half right when he said she likes bad boys--she likes bad strong boys, and someone as powerful as he is will always be someone she gravitates toward for guidance, protection and sexytimes.
  • Joseph: Joseph was the father she wished she had. He didn't take advantage of her. He never touched her, he even asked before asking her to use her ability. He was kind and supportive and encouraging and helped her heal a lot from what her father did to her by showing her what families were supposed to be like. That's why it's so hard for her to hear/see what he did to Samuel and in verses where she knows why Samuel killed him, it kills part of her, too. Because that's not the Joseph she knew, but the proof is irrefutable, and it's shaken her belief in all of humanity. If Joseph could be so duplicitous, if Joseph could harm his own blood in just as deep a ways as her own father hurt her, then who the fuck in the world can you trust?
  • Amanda: She loves her daughter more than anything. In the beginning, not wanting Amanda at the carnival has NOTHING to do with Samuel (for my Lydia) and everything to do with the last year.  Danko and Nathan and Bennet and the Company, and Joseph's death---their family has been attacked, they've lost people. Arnold's son was murdered by Danko.  They're under attack, as far as she knows--Joseph was killed by the same man, too. It isn't safe.  And as much as she loves her life and family, she knows that she's forever an outcast now. She doesn't know how to live in the outside world anymore--not about bank accounts and getting leases and credit cards and hooking up cable or any of that, and Amanda deserves a life, and high school prom and college and all the things she never got to have, not to be hunted for her ability the way they are being.  She gave her up, walked away, ripped out part of her heart all so her daughter could have the normal, happy life she never got, and 14 year old Amanda having run away, following her to the carnival...all Lydia sees is history repeating itself, and while the carnival's been a godsend for her...she doesn't want her daughter to live as an outcast.  But as she sees her bloom, as she learns what it's like for her out there, with such a volatile ability--after Caleb's death, especially--and learning the Company may be on to her?  Her thinking is changing.  She loves her, she wants her with her, and maybe the best way to protect her is to keep her with her after all. 

Post Canon

  • Where she has post-canon 'verses/is alive, was generally revived/saved by Claire (Tracy brought syringes or something, dammit! worked out with individual Claires who'd like to play in post-canon 'verses) Sometimes after Samuel left the scene so canon played out as was thought, and she was recovering/in hiding. 
  • Has left the carnival, mostly, because it has too many memories of Samuel's betrayal. They're her family, and she really knows she should go back, but...Samuel's accusation that she was the empath to replace Joseph? She doesn't think she's strong enough to lead them, not when she's feeling so broken.  So, she's trying to heal.
  • If NOT at the carnival, then is with someone (Edgar, Sylar or Bennet, so far in verses) because, yeah--no idea how to live in the outside world.
  • I wouldn't mind a verse where she was back at the carnival leading things, but...do not have one yet.
  • Wants to be a good mom to Amanda, but has this lingering sense that she's not enough/failed somehow because she couldn't save/get through to Samuel.
  • Is still way too much under the sway of Samuel's ghost--dealing with anger and betrayal and hurt and so many emotions, but mention his name and part of her will just start to ache again, because part of her will always love him, no matter what he's done.  Yes, I'm sure her boys all find this absolutely maddening.  Sorry, deprogramming can take a very, very long time. *wry*
  • She does, at least, realize it's not healthy and is trying to overcome it, or ignore it, for her own sake and Amanda's and whomever she's with.
  • If [livejournal.com profile] offering_hope  and I get around to doing a post-canon 'verse, ever, expect it to be epically fucked up.

Personality

  • Fairly submissive. She's not a doormat, and she does have a temper (this is the girl who called Sylar "impotent" after all, and lived to tell the tale), but for the most part, she's fairly biddable, so long as you're not threatening her family. But in the dominant/submissive game, she's going to give way to the stronger personality, and is pretty obedient. *wry* Samuel trained her well, and especially where he's missing, part of her is looking for someone to fill that role.
  • Threaten her family, and she will look for a way to end you.  She may call in one of her many violent friends to do it, rather than do it herself, but--she takes threats to her loved ones very seriously. Note, please, that in most verses, that list includes Samuel, and she will defend him to her last breath. Heh. Irony.
  • She's an introvert--she loves people, and her family, but she'll be over here watching you.  At the carnival, she has her booth where she connects one on one, reading people, rather than being out there like Samuel reeling them in.  That said, she genuinely likes people and cares about them, she just is far more likely to want to curl up with a cup of tea and talk one on one than go shopping or clubbing.
  • She's a little shy with strangers away from the carnival.  In her role as Samuel's hostess, as it were, or in her booth, she can reach out, welcome anyone, talk to anyone.  But a lot of that is a role.  She knows her place, she knows the script.  Put her out of her element and with strangers, and she shies away a bit, ESPECIALLY if they aren't specials.
  • She's buried the memories of abuse pretty deep, and will not talk about them.  Like--as of yet?  She's never told anyone, in any game.  However, most abuse survivors either become intolerant of intimacy or are in constant search of it--Lydia falls into the latter, and part of that was influenced by her ability.  She touches to connect to people, it's how she learns who she can trust, and who she can't, how she reads people, how she feels part of the world, and touching for her then leads to other intimacy, and she can fall into bed and relationships pretty easily.  None of which is to say she can't be faithful--because she is.  Give her a constant source and someone to lean on, rely on, have in her life, and she's there, but without that, she's sort of a ship searching for a port, and going too long without one leaves her edgy and feeling cut off.
  • On the flip side--while every time she touches someone she gets glimpses of their souls....she keeps hers very closed off. That's one of the reasons Sylar having her ability sort of freaks her a bit. He SEES her, and no one sees her, not ever.  Not even Samuel, truly, or Edgar, as much as they might love her, because there are parts of her soul she keeps hidden. But Sylar sees her, and in other games, so does Peter, and that freaks her the fuck out. She doesn't want to be seen, thanks. She has her persona of Exotic Temptress and carnival sex kitten to maintain, and behind it is the traumatized little girl who would rather stay hidden, thanks. 
  • So, that said--you might think you're great friends with her, but she tends to be elusive and mysterious, even from her family and her own daughter, so any time she actually opens up to someone--it's a major victory.

Miscellaneous/Hobbies/Favorite things:

  • She's pagan. Call it rebellion against growing up Catholic and what happened to her, or the senses her ability gives her or Samuel's influence or whatever--but she's pretty much very happily pagan now.  Though she may still whisper a prayer or two to the Virgin Mary when truly terrified. Some habits are deeply ingrained, and she thinks Mary probably understands. 
  • Tea. You can blame Samuel and Edgar, but she loves tea, loves curling up with it and reading, or journaling. Loves making it, going out for it, whatever.
  • She loves to sing, and to dance, and does both okay.  Like--salsa, belly dancing, club dancing, not ballet/jazz, though she took lessons in that when she was very young, before her mother left. But salsa, belly dancing--she LOVES, k? LOVES.  Also karaoke.This probably embarrasses Amanda to no end, but she's really quite good.
  • She doesn't really play an instrument.  She can pick out the top line on a piano, but that's all she remembers of her lessons.  But she'd love to learn to play guitar.
  • She reads when she can, since she didn't finish school--it's her way of learning, but she's more likely to read a novel or spiritual book or philosophy than anything about science or math or even history.  People books, as it were---she likes seeing how what she sees lines up with how other people think people operate.

Later Addition:

List the top five ideas/concepts/etc you keep in mind while writing the character that you believe are essential to accurately depicting them.

1. Her ability governs how she sees and interacts with people and the world. She doesn't act on faith or trust--Samuel nailed that. She doesn't take people on faith--she reads them to discern how to react to them. Without her ability she is pretty much lost and retreats into herself, wary and frightened.

2. In her comfort zone, among her family, Lydia is the serene and calming influence to the frenetic energy Samuel brings. She really is the yin to his yang. But out of her comfort zone, the underlying fragility induced by her upbringing comes out and the cracks begin to show.

3. Her family and her loved ones mean a hell of a lot to her. But her own physical safety possibly means more. Like a lot of abuse victims, she craves at least the illusion of security more than anything, even the possibility of love and freedom. She needs to feel safe. So, yeah. She sold Edgar out to not piss off Samuel, and she lied about Amanda to not piss off Samuel, and she told Samuel she'd cover up Joseph's death so the family could go on being a safe place. You don't rock the boat and piss off the person who has control, even when he's threatening to punish your bff, or blaming his murderous deeds on him.

4. She doesn't believe she deserves to be loved. It's one reason that offered the choice between two guys, she's more likely to choose the one that's bad for her, or will treat her not as well. It's why Edgar tends to lose out. She's bought into the idea that she's really only good for sex--if someone happens to fall in love with her through that, she can be coaxed into it, but if love comes first, they're screwed, uh figuratively. Probably not literally. Ask Edgar.

5. She's a classic damsel in distress/tragedienne archetype. Even later in canon she turned to Claire--a teenager--to save her rather than do it herself. Oh, she got snarky a bit with Samuel and talked back, sure. In one scene. She didn't do anything about it but taunt him a little. Granted, that's some progress for her, but not near enough. She's pretty much always looking to be rescued. Or to seduce someone into rescuing her/doing her dirty work for her (i.e. getting Sylar to get rid of Samuel) Note: The one exception I've seen to this in RP was in the vampire 'verse when she was the one to stand up and get rid of Samuel and rescue everyone. But, honestly...she didn't have much choice. Her options were down to be alone forever and let everyone she loved die, or do something about it. She still can't quite believe she did what she did. But I was super-proud of her. She did still pretty much yield to John as soon as he was able to take over, though. And is about ready to let Peter start making the decisions again in the aftermath, just so she doesn't have to. But still! She managed it for a bit?
Comments/Questions are welcome! <3
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Lydia

October 2011

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