#5 AM me has some strange sense of humor
An Ill-Fitting Name: Snippet 18
Snippet 1; Snippets 2 & 3; Snippet 4; Snippet 5; Snippet 6; Snippet 7; Snippet 8; Snippet 9; Snippet 10; Snippet 11; Snippet 12; Snippet 13; Snippet 14; Snippet 15; Snippet 16; Snippet 17
Word Count: ~1.2k
It is amusing to Cat, the extent to which Isaiah simply does not believe or trust that she is immortal. He quite obviously has never had anyone or thing to protect before, and it’s rather endearing how much he worries.
He didn’t leave until he had checked the wards on the house and on her room at least half a dozen times, testing that the magic would protect her, that the sigil he drew on her door with a knife-prick to her fingertip was still keyed to her will. Cat was more interested in starting work on her recently acquired LEGO Tower Bridge and its 4,295 pieces, but she humored Isaiah, closing the door to her room and willing him unable to enter.
Isaiah jiggled the door handle, he assailed the ward with his magic, he tried everything he could, but he couldn’t get in. He patted the door fondly, satisfied.
He checked the fridge and pantry almost as much as he checked the wards. “Are you sure there’s enough here for you to eat?” Isaiah had asked, looking again, “I can go to the grocery store.”
“Are you sure you do not want me to go with you?” Cat countered.
Isaiah shook his head. “It…my family…no. No, I need to do this alone.”
“If you are sure,” Cat said slowly, not entirely convinced.
That had been Sunday. Monday morning he had left. It was now Thursday, and though Isaiah had texted little updates throughout the week (Monday evening in West Virginia, Tuesday he made it to Ohio, Wednesday he said he was heading back), she still felt concern for him.
She couldn’t help it. It had been so long since she’d had a friend to feel concerned for.
Thursday gathered itself into a tumultuous and oppressive wave of humidity, the sky darkening as the day wore on, working its way to a storm. Cat enjoys the storms now, since she has a roof to keep the rain off, and she leaves the little plastic bricks in their piles on the coffee table, watching out the window and waiting for the tension to break.
The rain falls sudden and heavy, rushing to make up for every moment before in which it had waited, the rip lightning thunder crack sounds tearing through the air. Cat relishes the storm, and the ability to choose not to be in it.
But she is not so caught up in stormwatching that she fails to notice the feeling brushing across her arm of a cool breeze that does not belong inside this house.
Not every god travels on the wind, but the wind is a friend to the god of lost things, so frequently the culprit who catches some valuable tidbit—a hat, an important paper—and carries it away, never to be found. The bastard god does not always come to her in this fashion, but the unnatural air stirring around her is unmistakable. She knows it’s him.
He doesn’t always take form, and today he does not take form yet either—he doesn’t need to. He simply toys with her, a dark and unsettling laugh circling around where she stands and clutches her fist with her too-long talons.
“Aren’t you something? Aren’t you just something, trying to do…what, exactly, here?”
“Go away,” she says.
“Cat, is it, you call yourself now?” he replies, tasting yet another name she has only to lose. “Fascinating.”
“What is it you want, you bastard?” She has had many names, and has lost them all with time. He has many names, and she does not give him the dignity of using any of them, aside from ‘you bastard.’
“I want what I always want. That which I am due.” He has no form, but she can sense the essence of him as it gets closer, his voice twisting around her ears. “Did you think your exile over, little bird?”
Cat closes her eyes with a pained expression. No, she suspected it was not. Not when she remains in this strange body, still half covered in feathers, with these unusually shaped eyes, these talons on her hand.
“Wouldn’t you like for it to be over? To be—“ he ruffles the breeze across the feathers along the small of her back “—in your own true form again?”
“And what would you take?” Cat asks with quiet venom.
The god of lost things laughs, and if he had taken a form he would have stepped back from her as he gave way to full bodied mirth at how well she has his number. But he merely laughs upon the breeze.
“Friendships,” he says slowly, savoring the word, “are not made to last. Lose your friend, and I will give you back your own true form.”
“Get lost yourself,” Cat snaps. “No.”
The bastard laughs again. “You are not made for a mortal life, little bird. Lose it now, or it will be so much worse when you lose it all later.”
Cat has had enough. She doesn’t care about what she looks like, and she doesn’t care about what that bastard thinks is his to take. She has no desire to let go of any part of what she’s managed to build of a life. She runs to her room, slamming the door behind her, willing that the magic is enough to keep the bastard god out as she leans against the door. Though it wasn’t enough to keep him out of the house itself, was it?
She can hear the sound of laughter drifting up to the other side of the door.
“Cute,” he says, and she can feel the press of his presence gently pushing into the wood. “Suit yourself then, little bird. You know that time is not your friend. You know that you will lose all this, and it will all be mine when you do. Enjoy it while you can.”
With a horrible rush of wind raging against the doorframe, the greedy bastard god of all lost things takes his leave. Cat sinks to the floor, and wishes Isaiah would come home.
Isaiah started heading home—yes, home, he’s surprised he thinks of the little building hidden in the trees as home, when for the vast majority of his life the very idea of the word was a foreign concept for a boy who did not belong anywhere. He started heading home Wednesday.
After leaving his mother, Isaiah got back in his truck, took out his phone, put it down, picked it up again, put it down again. What was he going to do, text Faoust? And say what? He didn’t know what he was feeling. He didn’t know how to articulate what was wrong with him. He clutched the top of the steering wheel with both hands, then let out a frustrated sigh and put his forehead against his hands.
He decided he’d better start driving, before he could change his mind about what he had and hadn’t done.
He doesn’t realize until he’s gone a good five hours deep into the wrong direction of Tennessee that he must have missed a turn somewhere along the way. He pulls off at the first exit he sees, a Tennessee Welcome Center just past a river, and gets out, stretching his legs, shaking his head at himself and how he could be so damned distracted. He takes out his phone, and thumbs out a text to Cat.
“I’m still on the way home, but it’ll be another day. I got lost.”
Lost. Such a common expression, and yet…enough to make Cat truly worry.
- NEXT SNIPPET -
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One Man Powerhouse Tommy Concrete Returns, Drops New Music Video!
~Doomed & Stoned Debuts~
By Billy Goate
Album Art by Discobeast
In recent times, the phenomenon of the one-man band has grown more and more formidable and accomplished. While there are still relatively few creators who dare invade this jack of all trades space, the ones who've emerged from the heavy underground in recent years have indeed been impressive. Today, we follow the trail of one such creator, Scottman TOMMY CONCRETE.
While hardly a new kid on the block (the Glasgow progressive metal artist has...well, let me count: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 albums to his name -- nay, 8, if we count the one before us), this may be your first time hearing his name in these pages. Some may remember Tommy from his time playing guitar with Edinburgh punk rockers The Exploited. Now, his music has turned in a decidedly doom direction, as the astute will have noticed from his inclusion in our recent compilation, 'Doomed & Stoned in Scotland' (2021).
Tommy Concrete's latest record 'Hexenzirkel' (2021) has experiencing doomy textures, strange sludgy landscapes, and knuckles to the wall heavy metal oomph, with lyrics that are relevant to what's wrong with the world in Tommy's eyes (and perhaps, you will find, in your eyes, as well).
Before us lay a 9-minute slab from the album, titled "The Blind Man Shines Light On The Truth," which Doomed & Stoned is premiering today in music video form. You'll witness not only Tommy Concrete's music-making prowess, but also his cheeky sense of humor.
Lyrically this song was inspired by an old friend of mine called Matt, who is blind. His online presence is an extremely entertaining antithesis of ‘fake news’. His political posts are always on-point, quadruple fact checked and always from credible sources. Unfortunately he spends most of his life being shot down by pro-trump, anti-mask, flat earth believing, covid denying, right wing, royalist, Brexit supporting idiots. His daily confrontations with morons caused me to wonder why so many people are so resistant to knowledge? Suddenly the chorus appeared in my head:
“The blind man shines light on the truth
fools take offence to his wisdom
The obsequious cattle of death
applaud their own ignorant lies”
Musically, the track is a concept which has been growing steadily for about twenty years. Back then I was going to lots of different clubs including hip-hop and dub, I was also listening to a lot of doom. It was at an Electric Wizard gig in Leeds that I made an observation. The previous night I had been at a hip hop club, and I couldn’t help but notice that sonically the experiences had a lot in common. Both were dominated by low grooving subsonic frequencies and had stoned audiences swaying about.
The idea of mixing doom and hip-hop grew slowly in me over the years. It wasn’t something I was really feeling like exploring for a long time, mainly due to 99% of all hip hop metal crossovers being utter mince. When I was putting Hexenzirkel together I dug deep into all the mad ideas floating around my head that I had never utilised, and decided it was time. The track also features amazing guest vocals from Laura of King Witch and Jenni of Juniper Grave who really bring the song to life.
I will reiterate how happy I am to see Laura Gilchrist from King Witch in this music video! She's long been one of my favorite singers in the scene, with unmatched power (you'll need to listen to their albums to get the full impact of her range). Here she brings a bluesy note that finesses Tommy's gruff persona (but not so much that he loses his hard edge).
Hexenzirkel will be available in CD and digital formats on June 25th (pre-order). A must for fans of Wino, Devin Townsend, and Mike Patton.
Watch: Tommy Concrete: The Blind
A hardened stalwart of the UK's metal and punk scenes, Edinburgh multi-instrumentalist Tommy Concrete seeks to promote recovery and positive mental attitude through his latest EP, Trauma. Released in May 2019, the three-track offering explores mental health issues through an unconventional blend of heavy subgenres akin to Devin Townsend and Killing Joke.
Concrete, who has played guitar for legendary UK punks The Exploited and instrumental doom band Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead, as well as providing vocals for infamous metallers Man of the Hour and creating harsh industrial under the pseudonym Zaceus Zinetti, began releasing metal under his own name in 2001. Since then, he has put out six full-length albums and two EPs, with 2018's LP Unrelaxed being named Album of the Year by Moshville Times. His EP 'Trauma' (2020) explored mental health issues, addiction, and altered states of consciousness
Hexenzirkel by Tommy Concrete
Now Tommy Concrete is back with his eight full-length record. Marked by relentless persistence and an ever-evolving creative spirit, the music of Edinburgh, Scotland solo artist Tommy Concrete pushes new boundaries with the upcoming album 'Hexenzirkel' (2021). Due out via Trepanation Records later this year, Hexenzirkel features an array of guest artists and incorporates unexpected musical genres to deliver a soundscape that fans of Devin Townsend, Ihsahn, Wino, and Mike Patton will enjoy.
Lyrically, Concrete considers the album an exploration of psychosis of which he was diagnosed in 2019. A condition which he came to terms with during the global pandemic, in so far as it gave him the drive to create Hexenzirkel. The lyrics were written in order as they appear on the album, in almost diary format from March 2020 – May 2020.
Concrete, who is autistic, experiences synesthesia which is the ability to experience sound and music visually. His recent Unrelaxed 1 & 2 albums had neurodiversity as the lyrical concept. This time Concrete decided to represent neuro-diversity musically, by utilizing his synesthesia as a creative tool. Such as drawing the music first and composing the songs to fit the shapes and colors. Hexenzirkel is literally the sound and shape (if you have synesthesia) of psychosis.
Trauma by Tommy Concrete
Hexenzirkel contains more doom metal influences than his previous releases. A genre he is more known for outside his solo work, having most recently appeared in three of the forty bands of the recent ‘Doomed & Stoned in Scotland’ (2021) compilation, namely Psychotic Depression, Jackal Headed Guard of the Dead and of course Tommy Concrete.
He has taken a definite turn from his time with Scottish punk legends The Exploited, forging his own solo identity. Now with Hexenzirkel, his ninth solo album and the second with Trepanation, Concrete welcomes a wealth of collaborators to continue this musical evolution. "The word 'Hexenzirkel' is German for 'witches coven,' which I felt was an appropriate title as so many people have contributed to the album," he says.
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The Scarlet Witch Prophecy - The Fourth Year (Part II) - Chapter 5
Gif is not mine, blessed are the gif makers.
Series Masterlist || Read on AO3 || All Works Masterlist
Summary: As the youngest daughter of Howard Stark, you have ordinary expectations for your years at Hogwarts. Little do you know what adventures await you when your destiny is intertwined with the legendary Scarlet Witch.
Warnings: +16. Adaptation of the Harry Potter Saga, Magical Thematic, Prophecies, Mentions of Violence, Torture and dark magic, Language (swearing and minor/major offenses), manipulation of will, Underage kissing, insinuation of smut with minors, Smut (overage), descriptions of death, aggression, obscurity, angst, fluffy, soulmates analogies.
Chapter Words: 11.433K (they keep getting bigger and bigger don’t they?)
Authors note: I told myself i would only updated this once i finished writing two chapters ahead, but here we are. I hope everyone has a good reading, please let me know what you think and if you have any questions regarding the story i’m as lost as you are but i believe everything will make sense at the end.
When you woke up in the morning, you were really irritated.
Not having slept very well, both because of the time you went back to bed, and because of the strange dreams with red lights that you kept having, you were really sleepy when you had to get up.
And well, the first class was History of Magic, so the universe was not in your favor.
But you were quite surprised when you reached Professor Okoye's classroom and found a small crowd of students waiting at the door.
"What's going on?" You asked Quill as soon as you identified him in the crowd, Mantis right behind you.
"I don't think we're going to have class today." He replied while looking into the room. You copied his movement, and could see the teacher moving the tables and chairs in the room away to the corner, leaving a nice clear space. When she was finished, she waved for everyone to come in.
You stood with Quill and Mantis and the rest of the students scattered around the room, and the teacher in the center. She closed the door with a wave of her wand as they all entered, a small smile on her lips.
"I have an announcement to make, students." She begins. "According to the traditions of the triwizard tournament, the host school must organize a winter ball during christmas night after the first task." She tells and has to raise her voice a bit because the students start talking to each other excitedly. "And as head of the Gryffindor house, renowned for its chivalry, I was made responsible for organizing dance class sessions." She pauses briefly, looking at the students until they fall silent. "I also expect the Hufflepuff house to behave as respectfully as my Gryffindor students, since the honorable Helga Hufflepuff was known for her great charity balls."
With a wave of Okoye's wand, a cabinet in the corner of the room opens, and out of it flies a small music organ to the corner of the room. When she waves it again, a soft melody fills the entire room.
It is only at lunchtime that you get to talk to Wanda. And your feet still hurt from the times Quill stepped on them during the dance class.
You throw your bag on the Slytherin bench and sit down next to Wanda, looking at her expectantly. The girl makes a confused frown.
"What?" she asks with a slight humor in her voice.
"Really, Wands?" You reply in the same tone. "I want to talk to you."
Wanda rolls her eyes, turning her attention back to the plate in front of her. You frown at the way she is being casual about it.
"What about the tournament?"
You let out a short laugh.
"What do you mean “what about the tournament”? You're the champion of Hogwarts! The underage champion of Hogwarts!" You clarify, but Wanda doesn't look at you. You blink in confusion, and reach your forearm down on the table, touching her lightly so that she looks at you. Your chest aches as she pulls her arm away. "What's wrong?"
Wanda sighs, running her hands through her hair lightly.
"I just don't want to hear about how I'm an irresponsible cheater or how dangerous the tournament is." She replies looking at you.
"I wasn't going to say that." You retort, and Wanda rolls her eyes, which irritates you. "You haven't even heard what I have to say and you've already drawn your own conclusions."
Wanda clenches her jaw, her cheeks slightly reddened.
"And what do you have to say about it then?"
"I was gonna offer to help you practice for the tasks!" You clarify angrily. And Wanda blinks in confusion. You turn your face forward next, crossing your arms. Arguing with Wanda was absolutely the worst.
It takes a moment, but her posture softens completely and she sighs, reaching out for your arm afterwards.
"Hey." She calls tenderly, but you continue to stare straight ahead. "Hey, I'm sorry. Look at me."
You slowly turn to the side, looking down at your lap. Wanda waits for you to look up, and when you do, she gives you a weak smile.
" I'm sorry." She repeats, and you sigh, nodding. Wanda bites her lip, looking at you for a moment. "I need to tell you something. Is about..."
Wanda falls silent as your friends arrive at the table, commenting excitedly on the news of the dance that has already spread throughout the school. She sighs softly, straightening herself to look forward. You bite the inside of your cheeks, curious to know what she was going to say, but not wanting to press her.
When Nebula and Gamora sit across from you, you strain to pay attention to their conversation.
"But Wanda, tell us, what is it like to be a Hogwarts champion?" Gamora asks after the topic about the ball closes. Wanda tenses momentarily, and you want to ask why Pietro is sitting at the other end of the table with boys you don't know instead of with his sister, but the brunette forces a smile and you don't.
"I don't recommend the experience, if you ask me." She retorted with slight irony in her voice, making the group laugh. "After the selection, the principals of the other schools were not at all happy about my participation." She counters twisting her fingers lightly. "I think they were questioning the security of the Goblet choice. But Principal Harkness stood up for me, in her own way at least. She insisted that nothing could be done, because the magical contract with the goblet can only be broken with the end of the tournament."
"I imagine you had no idea this was all going to happen when you put your name on the goblet, eh?" Nebula asked wryly, making the group laugh. But Wanda frowned.
"I didn't put my name on the goblet." Wanda declared. Her friends gave a short laugh, thinking she was joking. But the other girl's serious expression makes them look at her in surprise.
"Wait, are you serious?" Gamora questions and Wanda nods, sighing. She exchanges shocked looks with Nebula and Mantis. Next, Gamora looks at you. "I guess that goes on your list of weird things this year, huh?"
You shake your head slightly, not wanting the girl in front of you to mention what happened in the cup, but Gamora is already commenting on your nightmares the next moment.
Wanda turns to you next.
"What nightmares?" She questions, and you sigh, losing your appetite. "And why didn't you tell me about what you saw in the cup? And well, if you were worried, you could have asked if everything was okay with me, we've been at Hogwarts for a month now and..."
"Wanda." You interrupt with a short smile. "Calm down, okay? I was just trying to find the right time to talk to you about everything."
"I am calm, I just want to know why you are hiding things from me! " She hits back and you frown in surprise.
"Look who's talking!"
You regret the way you speak, because Wanda gasps in surprise, her gaze hurt. Your friends witness the discussion intently.
"What did you mean by that?" She retorts angrily.
"You know very well what I meant." You reply in the same tone, feeling your stomach turn in nervousness. "You always hide things, whether with your family, or with your magic! And you won't tell me what's going on with us!"
Wanda looks at you in a mixture of surprise, anger and hurt, and you feel your heart racing. Some students are looking at you curiously, but Wanda's lack of response only disappoints you. You cast her an angry glance before getting up and leaving the hall.
You feel bad that you have accused Wanda the moment you reach your dorm. You don't know if she has the answers you seek. But you are tired, because it seems that everyone is keeping secrets from you.
Throwing yourself down on the sofa, you sigh as you close your eyes. You don't feel like studying right now, but soon you have a Defense Against the Dark Arts period and you need to get up. You don't rush, though, using all the remaining time at lunch to calm yourself, trying to push out the thoughts that you and Wanda would no longer be friends.
Mantis meets you at the door to the communal hall as soon as you leave, and you thank her for bringing your backpack back.
"Are you okay?" She asks as you both walk toward the tower.
"Yeah, it was just a silly argument." You mumble clumsily.
"Wanda was pretty upset after you left." She counters, and you mutter in understanding. "I hope you two can make up soon."
When you arrived at the D.A.D.A. room, few minutes later, you grumbled softly because you could only find chairs in the front, and students who sat near Professor Fury were always called in.
The professor entered soon after, his long black cape dragging across the floor, and the customary eye patch hiding a scar on his face.
"Good afternoon, everyone." He announced loudly as he entered, and waited until everyone was seated to begin. Drawing out his wand, he charmed the chalk on the blackboard to write the subject of the day. Some buzz began to circulate as the words "unforgivable curses" formed on the board. "Who here can tell me what the unforgivable curses are?"
The room was completely silent. Fury walked between the tables.
"No one?" He asked. "How disappointing."
You knew that no one answered the question because it was a huge taboo in the witch community to talk about the dark arts so freely. Professor Fury seemed to know that too, and that only seemed to make him angry.
“Unforgivable curses are three of the most powerful and sinister spells in the world of magic.” Fury explains next. “Their use is forbidden in all magical communities, and if a wizard or witch casts any of them on another wizard or witch, they will receive a sentence in Azkaban.”
Fury made another motion with his wand and the closet at the back of the room opened, a small cage secured in an iron compartment with wheels crawled to the front.
You and the rest of the room let out exclamations of surprise as you observed the creature inside. A large, hairy spider, very scary. Mantis shrank into the chair beside you.
"As an antidote to your ignorance, I recommend that you read the book of this subject before the next class, and bring me two scrolls about the first three chapters, specifying the history of the prohibition of unforgivable curses." Professor Fury then announced, drawing an unsatisfied buzz from the students. The room fell silent the next minute, however, as the professor opened the cage.
The spider moved on the iron, looking practically startled and shrinking into the cage.
"The first unforgivable curse is the command curse." Fury explained, pointing his wand at the bug next. "Imperio."
You and the rest of the students watched in shock as the small crystallized flash came from the tip of the wand to the creature, which stretched its legs and then moved outward. It wasn't hard to deduce that it was Professor Fury who was controlling the spider, since from the movement of his wand, it was moving.
"The Imperium curse consists of absolute control of another living being." Fury told as he moved the spider around the room, drawing exclamations of fear and shock. "You see, during the last witch war, many sorcerers claimed that they were only fighting for Mephisto because of this curse."
The mention of Mephisto made everyone hold their breath, but the professor didn't stop talking.
"The ministry found an efficient way to find out who was lying." He counters with a short smile. Bringing the spider back to the front of the room, to his desk for all to see, he holds it still. "You will find out eventually, children, that moral lines are usually broken during wars."
You exchanged a look with your colleagues, all clearly surprised and frightened. Fury cleared his throat, pointing his wand at the spider.
"Crucio" He spoke and unlike the other, no light came out. The spider cringed, making a high-pitched noise that filled the entire room. You understood that it was screaming in pain, and you felt your stomach clench. Before you knew it, you stood up abruptly, the noise attracting everyone's attention.
"Stop it!" You shouted angrily. "Can't you see you're hurting her?"
The teacher stopped, and you tried to control your uncompensated breathing. He cleared his throat, ignoring the buzz in the room as he extended his hand to the spider, which obediently climbed into his hand.
He turned to you, placing the animal on your desk, and you swallowed dryly, keeping your gaze on the back of the room, knowing exactly what was coming. Professor Fury looked at the creature with contempt.
"The last unforgivable curse is the killing curse." He explains. "Avada Kedavra."
You close your eyes for a moment, feeling your body tremble. When you look down, the spider was dead. The room in complete silence.
You look at Professor Fury with watery eyes.
"No one should survive this curse." He tells you. Before you can say anything, he softens his expression, looking around. "And none survived, of course. Now, why aren't you guys writing down what I said?"
You don't feel very well for the rest of the class.
The vast majority of the students seem far more impressed with how dark Fury's classes have become than afraid. You can't say the same, because it seems that every time he has to explain something about dark magic, you feel sick. Gamora tried to cheer you up by joking that auror wouldn't be the right profession for you, but you've been so upset about the absence of Wanda that you've barely been able to smile.
As the first assignment approaches, you want to forget that you fought and apologize, but the girl also seems to be avoiding you, so you do the same.
Pietro has also been distant, and Nebula told you that he and Wanda were not yet on the best of terms, and Pietro was spending much more time with Monica and Darcy than with you all.
When the day of the first task finally arrived, you ignored the fact that you were fighting and went to look for Wanda, unable to ignore the feeling of worry that took over your whole body.
You had no idea what the first task was going to be, but Miss Harkness had asked the whole school to go to the Quidditch field on Saturday, and there were tents set up at the north end. You told Gamora that you would join her in the stands in a moment, that you needed to talk to Wanda first, and you snuck through the crowd to reach the champions' tent area.
"Psst." You called out from between the canvas of the tent, recognizing the gloomy figure sitting in the corner of the place as you entered from the back. Wanda looked around, and then stood up, frowning when she could see your shadow.
Opening the tarp, she looked at you in a mixture of surprise and irritation.
"What do you want here?"
"I didn't come to fight with you." You let her know as you realize the tone in her voice. You bite your lips for a moment, and then sigh. "Damn, I missed you."
Wanda looks away, her cheeks reddening as she crosses her arms. You swallow dryly, ignoring your uncompensated heartbeat.
"Is this what you came for?" She asks half-heartedly, staring at the floor.
"No." You say. "I needed to make sure everything was okay, and I wanted to wish you good luck."
"Why do you care?" She hits back in defiance, and you roll your eyes.
"I'm still your friend, Wanda." You reply. "We fought, but that doesn't mean I don't care about you anymore."
Wanda looks away again, and you switch the weight on your foot.
"Well, that was it." You say. "Good luck to you."
"Thank you." She mumbles without looking at you. When you turn around, her arms wrap around you in a tight embrace. Wanda rests her head on your back and sighs, and you recover from the surprise, caressing her hands resting on your belly with your thumbs. Before you can turn to correspond properly, she releases you. "Now get out of here before a teacher sees you."
You smile at her before walking away.
Wanda would confront a dragon. You think you're controlling yourself pretty well despite everything.
She was going to be the last to do so, but your heart was already racing from the moment Principal Harkness walked to the center of the Quidditch pitch and after making the general announcements, nodded toward the locker room area that had been enchanted so that the beast could hide inside. The next minute there were witches bringing a dragon into the stadium and the crowd screamed with excitement and fear.
The champions needed to capture the golden egg for the second task, and well, everyone was curious to know how they would do it.
Gamora handed you a small booklet, and you frowned when you realized that it was an enchanted betting chart. She gave you a little smile, waving to someone behind her, and you noticed that almost all the people were betting on the winners, and the game flyers were circulating around the stands. You felt your stomach turn as you watched the enchanted drawing of a dragon spit fire at the image of three witches.
You ended up handing the flyer to Mantis and didn't bet on anyone, focused on watching the task.
Jean Grey captured the egg in fifteen minutes. She took on the Common Welsh Green dragon, and everyone was impressed to watch her use a mirroring spell to confuse the dragon about the true location of the golden egg. She finished the task unhurt, and unseen and you joined the crowd in cheering, watching her receive the perfect score.
Maria Hill was injured in her ordeal, but this certainly brought a lot more entertainment to the audience. She faced the Norwegian Crested Back, and tried to bewitch the dragon with a sleeping spell, but the creature awoke as soon as she reached for the egg.
The audience screamed with excitement as the dragon began to spit fire everywhere, furious. Fortunately, Maria only had minor burns, as she was able to charm the beast again. Her score was lower than Jean's, but still high.
When Wanda's turn came, many of the Gryffindor students began to boo, and you clenched your jaw.
You relaxed momentarily when Wanda looked around the audience, smiling at you before focusing on the creature in front of her.
"That one looks bigger than the other two, huh?" you grumble to Gamora with concern as you observe the beast in the center of the field.
"Maybe he's more docile." She remarks, but it's not true, especially since the next second the creature roars ferociously as it notices Wanda approaching.
The Ukrainian Iron Belly moved his long tail around the field, the iron chains swinging as he did. Wanda was holding her wand, hiding behind a rock. You can barely hear the crowd with the ringing in your ears, your heart racing a thousand an hour in your chest.
As Wanda approaches again, trying to bewitch the beast, the Iron Belly roars, raising its tail in the air to strike her. You blink in astonishment as you watch a shield spell form around Wanda. She rolls across the field, faster than the beast, and runs to reach the egg.
She casts a spell on its snout that leaves it bewildered long enough for her to grab the prize.
On the way back, the creature wags its tail rapidly across the field, roaring with irritation, and hits Wanda in the back, throwing her a few meters forward.
"Y/N what are you doing? Put that away!" Gamora warns you at the next second. You blink in confusion, realizing that you have your wand in hand, raising it in front of you. Gamora lowers your hands, and because of all the commotion, no one else seems to notice. She looks at you with concern, but you feel your mouth go numb; you need to help Wanda.
"Let me go, Wanda needs me." You grumble pushing her hands away, and hurrying to get down from the bleachers. Gamora calls out to you but you don't turn around.
The test continues on the field next to you, but you have to look forward to get down, pushing people aside as you rush to catch up to Wanda, your wand vibrating in your fingers as the rest of your body.
Professor Heimdall stops you at the edge of the stands.
"I need you to focus on my voice, Stark." He asks as he places his hands on your shoulders. You gasp in surprise, trying to turn your head to look at the field, but the firm grip holds you in place.
"Let me go." You ask panting, a pain beginning to well up in your head. "Wanda is in danger."
"Look at me." He commands as he lifts his thumbs to your cheek, pinning your face to look at him. You stare at the yellow irises feeling your breath hitch. You need to help Wanda. But somehow, as the seconds tick by, the yellow eyes are all you can think about. "Pull yourself together. Can't you hear the celebration from the audience? Wanda has completed the test. She is safe."
You choke on the professor's words, feeling an urge to cry with relief. He keeps his expression serious, though.
"Pull it together. Keep your wand away." He commands. "Don't tell anyone about this, not everyone is your friend here."
But Professor Heimdall lets you go, quickly taking your wand and putting it back in your cloak pocket. He looks around, and smiles at someone behind you. Only now you notice the celebratory noise around you, and you turn around. The crowd is descending, and Principal Harkness is announcing the final scores.
Your friends are coming toward you, happy and smiling. Professor Heimdall steps aside to join the teachers' group, and then you are being dragged with your friends to the center of the field, along with the rest of the crowd celebrating the end of the task. You hear fireworks and shouts of victory, but your gaze is searching for Wanda.
She is shaking hands with the Minister of Magic, Johann Shmidt, and you gasp when you catch sight of her. She has barely turned toward you, smiling and waving shyly when she realizes that you and your friends are coming to greet her, when you run toward her, throwing your arms around her when you reach her.
"Wow." She gasps in surprise, but hugs you back, chuckling softly. You don't let go, and soon your friends are hugging you two too. And they are laughing and celebrating, and you are holding back your tears, not understanding why the possibility of losing Wanda seems worse than death.
Things get better after the first task. After you left the Quidditch camp, you joined the celebration in the Slytherin communal hall, which was filled with people from all the houses.
All the students who had stood against Wanda before she defeated the dragon now seemed keen to become her friends, praising her and congratulating her on the way she killed the beast.
You still don't understand what exactly happened, but Wanda used some spell that hit the creature in the heart, and well, killing the dragon earned her first place. The other directors were not happy with the judge's decision, but the rest of the school certainly liked it.
You are in the corner of the room, surrounded by your friends and Tony's friends, trying to stay sociable while ignoring how tired you feel.
"Why are you so quiet?" Gamora asks you softly, noticing your lack of enthusiasm to join in the explosive snap game that Quill has just suggested to everyone.
"It's nothing." You lie forcing a smile. Professor Heimdall's words still echoing in your head. "I'm just not in the mood to party. I guess I'm sleepy."
Gamora murmurs in understanding, assessing your face for a few moments. But Nebula is pulling her sister over to look at the items Tony got on his last trip to Hogsmeade, and you don't join in the conversation.
Your gaze searches for Wanda, who is locked in conversation with a seventh grader who has never spoken to you guys before, but seemed very willing to become Wanda's friend now that she has become a champion.
You were thinking of waiting until Wanda had finished talking to the girl to say good-bye, but then you felt irritation boil up in the pit of your stomach as you watched the older girl toss her hair to the side, her hand running up Wanda's arm, as Wanda gave her a wry smile.
You really didn't want to watch Wanda flirting with anyone, so you hurried out of the dorm, hopefully everyone would be busy enough with the party to notice.
Outside, as you turned the corner, you saw something you didn't want to see.
Tony and Steve were kissing against a wall, your brother's hands inside the other boy's shirt. You let out a loud exclamation of shock, covering your eyes.
"God, get a room!" You complained loudly with your eyes closed, feeling your cheeks very hot. You heard Tony and Steve giggle, and waited a moment to open your eyes, only to find Steve very red, looking away, and your brother with his arms crossed.
"Don't be such a baby." He teased. "One of these days I'm going to find you like this."
You choke lightly, letting out an indignant laugh.
"Excuse me, but I don't want to hook up with anyone in the corners of the castle." You mumble in embarrassment, and Tony exchanges a look with Steve, letting out a chuckle.
"Damn, do girls go through puberty later or something?" He teases and you look at him wide-eyed. "I'm teasing you little sister, no need to freak out about it." He mocks as he pulls Steve by the sleeve, when he is walking away, he turns his head to you again. "Let me know if you change your mind, I bet Natasha that you were going to propose to Wanda this year!" He shouts before turning down the hall, leaving you behind with cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
You figure you'd better get back to the dorm before you run into some teacher.
You have another nightmare during the night. As real as the vision you had during the quidditch cup. You see the graveyard and the red light, but this time, it is you who is attacking. You wake up in fright, but feeling absolutely exhausted, you go back to sleep almost immediately afterwards. This time you dream of someone holding your hand.
"Have you decided who you're going to ask to the dance?" It is the first question Gamora asks you during breakfast, and you choke on your pumpkin juice. She ignores your reaction and continues talking. "By the way, where were you last night?"
"I told you I was tired." You reply wiping up the juice you spilled with a napkin. "I went back to my dorm."
"You missed the best part of the party." She retorted excitedly. "Some Ravenclaw kids conjured up a fireworks dragon and someone handed out candy from Honeydukes to everyone."
"Sounds amazing." You grumble before going back to eating. Gamora looks at you expectantly, and you sigh, understanding that she is waiting for you to answer her first question. "I don't know if I want to go to the dance."
"You’re not going to the dance?" It is Wanda who asks as she arrives at the table. You almost choke again, but just roll your eyes at the insinuating look Gamora gives you as Wanda sits down.
"Oh, she's just saying that because no one invited her." Gamora teases with an insinuating tone, and you try to hit her but she laughs as she moves away from your grasp.
"You know, you can ask someone if you want to. You don't have to wait for the invitation." Nebula then suggests, and you are surprised because she wasn't even paying attention to the conversation, a spell book laid out in front of her. "Unless you're afraid of rejection."
"What is it with you guys today?" You mutter irritatedly, feeling your cheeks flush with embarrassment as you observe the insinuating glances of the two girls in front of you. "Besides, why are you talking about invitations, Gamora? Who invited you?"
Gamora lets out a shy giggle, and then looks away. She nods toward Quill, and you let out a surprised exclamation.
"And you're just telling me this now?" You retort excitedly.
"You're the one who left the party yesterday!" She replies. "He invited me last night, and I was going to tell you, but you left without even looking back."
You roll your eyes with amusement.
"Are you really waiting for someone to invite you?" Wanda asks next, and you look at her, feeling your heart miss a beat. What the hell is going on with you lately?
"I... well, I don't know." You answer clumsily. "I haven't really thought about it.”
"But you want to be asked?" Wanda inquires and you swallow dryly.
"I don't know, maybe."
"But if someone were to invite you now, would you like it?"
"God, just ask her at once!" Gamora interrupts impatiently, causing you and Wanda to look at her wide-eyed. Nebula lets out a chuckle, without looking away from the book on your desk. Gamora gestures in Wanda's direction. "Sorry, girls, I just got a little carried away. Please, Wanda, continue with your embarrassing attempt to ask the dumbest person in this school to the dance."
You mumble clumsily, feeling your cheeks warm. Wanda giggles.
The brunette next to you pokes you lightly in the ribs, and waits for you to look at her again before speaking.
"Gamora's right, actually." She says shyly, and you feel your heart speed up. "All champions need to dance at the ball, and well, the first person I thought of asking was you." She confesses quickly. "But it's okay if you don't want to go..."
"No!" you interrupt quickly, feeling your face hot. You smile next. "I'd love to go to the dance with you, Wands."
Wanda looks at you for a few seconds, and you look back. Your stomach flipping with nervousness.
"I'm getting diabetes." Nebula comments next, breaking the moment. Gamora laughs, pushing her shoulder lightly against her sister as you and Wanda look forward uncomfortably.
"Stop it, they're adorable." Gamora hits back with a smile, you clear your throat, feeling embarrassed as you pretend to pay attention to the daily prophet lying on the table and not the presence of the brunette next to you or the comments of your friends.
Things go well between you and Wanda after that. The discussion you two had is long forgotten. You imagine that Gamora and Tony think that as you begin to help Wanda try to decipher the egg, that you have mentioned to her the connection you have been feeling, but you have not yet found the moment to speak up.
You told her about the other things, though. About the sky mark on the Quidditch canopy, and Tony's investigation of your father and the followers of Mephisto. Wanda was also surprised to learn that Howard and Erik had been friends in school days, but she knew as little as you did about all the issues. You felt bad for having accused her of hiding things from you, and bought Honeydukes candy to apologize.
And so time passed, and the day of the winter ball finally arrived.
To say that you were looking forward to it was an understatement. And you weren't the only one, as during the whole day, the vast majority of the students talked only about this.
Your prom outfits arrived the same day during breakfast. You had written to Jarvis to buy Gamora's and Nebula's costumes as well, and they were very happy to receive the dresses. Tony had a piece of toast in his mouth when you left his suit that arrived in the same package as yours on the table, before you turned to check your own outfit.
"It's very nice, isn't it?" You commented to Gamora as soon as you held out the material aloft. The girl let out a sigh of excitement.
"My god, you're going to look beautiful!" She exclaims, and then gives you an insinuating look. "In fact, you're already a cutie." She teases with a wink, making you laugh.
"Good morning." Wanda said as she joined you, she widened her eyes slightly when she realized that you were looking at the ball costumes.
"Great, you're here!" Gamora speaks to the brunette excitedly. "I want to see your dress!".
Wanda smiled awkwardly.
"It's in my room." She informs you as she sits down next to Gamora. Her gaze lingers on you for a moment, but when you notice, she deflects. "You can see it when we go to get ready."
The conversation eventually went in the direction of comparing outfits and forming combinations, and then you thought it best to put your clothes away before they got dirty with some of the delicious food from the breakfast.
You were a little surprised to hear that the girls were going to start getting ready for the ball as early as the afternoon, but you didn't object to joining them in the Slytherin communal hall, taking your costume package with you.
"Are you going to wear any makeup?" Gamora asked you as you all stood in the Slytherin dormitory bathroom, which had several girls in it. Fortunately the communal hall was the most luxurious in the entire school and had enough space for everyone. You were sitting on one of the sink benches, after showering and putting on your prom costume, waiting for the girls to finish.
"I don't know how to wear makeup, Gamora." You respond by looking at her. She smiles, looking away from the mirror to look at you.
"If you want, I can help you." She says and seeing your hesitation, she smiles. "Only if you want me to, honey."
"I don't know." You say. "Maybe just lipstick."
Gamora laughs lightly, nodding in agreement. Nebula starts complaining loudly next, not being able to button the zippers of her dress properly, and Gamora gives a giggle, stepping aside to help her sister.
"Stop moving." Gamora warns Nebula, and you chuckle at the scene. Wanda is coming out of the cabin she had come in from to put on her dress, and you feel your breath hitch when you see her. She is adjusting the straps and smiles shyly at the look you cast at her, and you do your best to cover it up.
"You look pretty." She comments as she approaches, looking at you for a moment before looking away to the mirror.
"You look beautiful, Wanda." You retort the next moment, half out of breath. Wanda smiles, her cheeks reddening as she keeps her gaze on her own reflection, fixing her hair.
"Wanda, help Y/N with her makeup, I think Nebula messed up her zipper." Gamora asks the next moment, pulling out her wand to concertize her sister's clothes, who fusses impatiently. You and Wanda share a giggle at the scene, but your giggle dies as Wanda approaches you, a lipstick in her hands.
"I think this color suits your costume." She comments with a smile, opening the lipstick and lifting it to your face height. You feel your breath hitch, watching with slightly wide eyes as Wanda stands between your legs and touches your face with her other hand to hold you in place. "Stand still so it doesn't smudge."
You want to tell her you're not going anywhere, but she's putting the makeup on you in the next second. You keep your mouth ajar, trying to ignore the tingling sensation you feel on your skin where Wanda's fingers are touching, or the way your heart is racing. Wanda is concentrating on her task, and bites her lower lip as she puts on your make-up.
"There you go." She whispers as she pushes the lipstick away from your lips, her gaze lingering on your mouth however. The dark glow in her irises makes your stomach do a flip-flop. You think Wanda is going to kiss you, because she is so close and her fingers are still on your chin, and you wish she would.
But Gamora lets out an exclamation of satisfaction as she manages to tidy up her sister's dress, and Wanda frowns, shaking her head slightly as she steps back.
"You look gorgeous, Y/N!" Gamora says as soon as she glances at you, making you smile awkwardly. You're feeling a little out of breath from all the interaction with Wanda, so you just keep your gaze on your own lap, waiting for the girls to finish the finishing touches. Nebula remarks something about a funny story in the Daily Prophet next and you get distracted.
You are a nervous wreck when you all reach the main hall.
Gamora nods to Quill, standing in the doorway in his dark brown suit, looking very handsome with the tie that matches his eyes. He flashes her a contented smile as they greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. You see Pietro and Monica have entered the room as well, their arms intertwined. Darcy is right behind, accompanied by a girl you don't know.
You clear your throat, turning to Wanda as you stop at the entrance, but Professor Okoye catches up with you before you can ask if Wanda wants to come in yet.
"Maximoff, dear, there you are." Okoye announces sounding rushed. "The dance of champions is about to begin, I imagine you'll be the partner, right miss Stark?"
"R-right, professor." You reply and the woman nods in agreement, grabbing yours and Wanda's arm to drag you to a corner, where the other champions were already waiting. She hurried out the next moment, signaling to the students outside to come in that she needed to announce the start of the dance.
"Are you ready?" you ask Wanda ignoring the nervous feeling in your stomach. The brunette smiles, her hand slipping into yours and making your heart soar.
"I hope I don't stumble." She retorts with a shy smile, you think she looks absolutely stunning.
"Don't worry." You say looking forward, the other champions straightening up to get in line. "I won't let you fall."
You twist Wanda in your arms to the rhythm of the music, a laugh escaping your lips. This is already the fourth song in a row that you have danced to together, and the feeling is so incredible that you think you will dance all night.
Two more songs later, you feel thirsty and approach Wanda to tell her you'll get a drink for you two, completely oblivious to the way the girl's cheeks flush when you whisper in her ear.
At the drinks table, Gamora approaches you, her cheeks rosy.
"I just kissed Peter!" She announces and you almost knock over the punch.
"What?" you ask in surprise and your sister laughs, maybe from nervousness or excitement, you can't tell. "Did you like it?
"Sure." She assures you with a smile, looking pleased. You make a mental note to tease her about her blushing cheeks another time. "It was weird the first time, but the sensation is really good when you get the rhythm right."
You nod in understanding, not knowing exactly what you can add in this matter.
"And what are you doing here with me? Go kiss your boyfriend!" You tease next, smiling encouragingly and making Gamora laugh. She turns to leave, but then decides to tell you something.
"Don't forget to tell me how it was with Wanda. I think kissing a girl must feel different."
She then leaves, laughing lightly at your shocked expression. Your heart is racing because the only thing you can think about right now is the possibility of kissing Wanda.
Your gaze returns to the dance floor, and you feel your nervousness increase. Wanda dances timidly to the rhythm of the music, her hips swaying and her eyes closed. She looks beautiful. She is beautiful. Out of your reach.
You shake your head to push these thoughts away, and you take a deep breath before walking over to her again with the drinks in your hand.
After drinking and dancing to three more songs, the band finally changes to a softer melody, and you smile shyly at Wanda as you hold out your hand to her.
With your hands together, you hold Wanda around the waist, and she rests her free hand on your shoulder. She is blushing at the closeness of your faces, so she gives you a shy smile before resting her chin on the hand on your shoulder. You enjoy the proximity as you move slowly to the rhythm of the music.
You close your eyes, feeling quite good this way. In her arms. Peaceful.
When the music ends, it takes a moment for you to move away, your hands remaining together.
Wanda looks at you for a moment, and then nods her head to the side to signal you two to leave. You bite your lips as she takes you by the hand to escort you out of the room.
You are too busy thinking about the feeling of your hands intertwined to worry about the path, and are slightly surprised when you end up in an empty room.
Wanda lets go of your hand as you enter. And you close the door as she walks inside. She stops walking when she reaches the teacher's desk, and turns around, leaning against the wood. You watch her twist the rings on her fingers nervously as you walk toward her.
You stop at the desk in front of her, mimicking her motion of leaning against the wood as you risk a glance at her.
"What are we doing here, Wands?" You ask ignoring your heartbeat quickened by the tension in the air.
Wanda looks at you, pressing her lips together for a moment.
"What do you think?" She retorts with slight defiance, and you bite back a smile, feeling your cheeks heat up.
"You... you know we don't have to do anything just because everyone else is doing it, right?" You say, and Wanda lets out a short laugh, looking at you slightly impressed. "What?"
"Nothing, it's just that's such a Gryffindor thing to say. Very chivalrous." She teases and you chuckle awkwardly, shrugging your shoulders.
"Well, I am a hatstall after all." You mutter and Wanda frowns in confusion. You shake your head, briefly mentioning what the sorting hat told you in first year and drawing an impressed exclamation from Wanda.
"That's pretty awesome, you know, right?" she adds with a smile.
"Yeah, I'm pretty awesome indeed." You joke making Wanda laugh.
"Oh, there's the Slytherin part I see." She teases. "But I haven't found your Ravenclaw trait yet, are you sure you inherited the intelligence?"
You pretend to be offended for a moment with a grimace, and Wanda laughs, unconsciously or consciously stepping forward.
"Excuse me, but I am a very competent sorceress." You argue smiling, ignoring the nervousness that grows as the proximity between you two increases. "Best charm student in the whole school."
"Oh, really?" Wanda retorts. "Last time I checked I had that position."
"It's okay, we can share first place." You assure almost in a whisper, Wanda is too close for you to think of adding anything else right now.
"There's the Hufflepuff." She says with a shy smile, approaching you one last time. You can feel her breath against your cheek, the emerald eyes fixed on yours. You swallow dryly, risking a look at the lips so inviting. "I'm going to kiss you now, okay?"
"Not if I kiss you first." You breathlessly challenge, and Wanda smiles before moving forward, both of you closing your eyes at the same time as you meet her halfway.
Her lips were soft, just as you imagined they would be. You swallow hard, feeling your whole body heat up. You stood with your mouths together for a moment, before Wanda pulled away, her breathing uncompensated as much as yours, as your lips tingle.
"Kiss me again." She asks hoarsely, and you move forward. This time it's even better, because Wanda's hands go to your neck and yours to her waist. And when she sighs, you ask for passage with your tongue, following your instincts completely.
The sensation is intoxicating, and sends a shiver through your whole body. Wanda tastes like cherry punch, and you gasp at the sensation of your tongues together, squeezing her waist lightly.
You parted for breath, keeping your foreheads together and your eyes closed.
"Wow." You exclaimed softly breathlessly.
"Yeah, I know." She agrees in the same tone, her hands coming down from your neck to squeeze your shoulders lightly. Wanda kisses you again, her tongue moving against yours slowly, exploring your mouth. You moan softly at the sensation and Wanda pulls away breathlessly, blushing due the sound she has managed to wring out.
"S-sorry." You gasp quickly, feeling your cheeks as hot as the rest of your body.
"Don't be." She says. "That was hot."
You let out a clumsy laugh, and Wanda copies, and the moment dissipates from palpable tension to humorous lightness. You kiss briefly before Wanda circles her arms around your shoulders in a hug that you reciprocate equally.
"Do you want to go back to the party?" You ask when she breaks the embrace, but her hands remain intertwined behind your neck.
"Not really." She replies with a smile, biting her lips as she looks at you. " I just came to be with you."
"Oh, yeah?" You ask with slight teasing, and Wanda lowers her gaze to your lips.
"Hu-huh. And now that I have you, I don't want to let you go."
You smile, lifting your hands to her neck, caressing her nape lightly as you kiss her again, not as intensely as before, and with a smile on your lips.
When you pull away, Wanda is smiling too.
"Don't worry, Wands. I'm not going anywhere."
After the ball, there is a new tension in your relationship with Wanda that makes you lose focus on anything other than her.
Gamora missed no opportunity to tease you about this. And every time she caught you casting passionate glances at Wanda, or the other way around, you got a wry comment to get a room. It was harmless, but it made you and Wanda both blush like tomatoes.
The best change was the kisses.
They could happen suddenly, or be almost planned. Wanda liked to take you by surprise, you could tell. Stealing firm kisses between corridors that made you blush and clumsy, or kisses when you spent time together with your friends, and her hand slipped into yours.
You loved all the kisses she wanted to give you. But you had your favorites. The ones that happened when you were alone, and all you could think about was Wanda. They were usually planned, because to have free time, without friends, you need a little organization. So they usually happened when you went to Hogsmeade together, or when you helped her study for the tournament. It was amazing to finish a study session with Wanda's mouth on yours.
But you knew you still needed to talk to her. You were afraid you would lose the kisses if you did.
As the date for the second assignment approached, Wanda began to get anxious, because you all still hadn't deciphered the golden egg clue.
At that moment you were in the Slytherin communal room, sitting cross-legged on the floor with many books around you. Wanda was lying on the couch, a book enchanted to be at her eye level. Gamora and Nebula in the armchairs, also reading. You are trying to find some clue to decipher the egg.
"We've tried the basic open and close spells, right?" Gamora asks without taking her eyes off the book, probably reading about what she mention.
"Of course." Wanda replies. She sighs in frustration the next moment, taking the enchanted book off her face, and closing it in her lap. You move your hand to hers, trying to reassure her. "I need to figure this out soon, because the task is in a few weeks."
"We will." You tell her with a smile.
"Just out of curiosity, what happens if you don't break out the clue?" Nebula asks and Wanda sighs.
"I won't have any idea what the second task is about and I won't know how to prepare." She replies. "And then I'll lose and be humiliated in front of the whole school. Feel free to drown me in the great lake if that happens."
Wanda's dramatization makes you all laugh, but then you get an idea and your expression fades. Wanda, who was watching you, looks at you curiously, but you are already getting up, hurrying to get the golden egg that was on the couch.
"What are you going to do?" Gamora asked, as curious as the other girls. You walked over to one of the aquariums and held the egg up high.
"Sorry, folks." You said to the fish, and then opened the clasp. The shrill noise filled the room, but before the girls could complain, you dipped the egg into the water and the sound stopped.
You leaned forward and could hear the low melody.
"I can' believe it." You grumbled contentedly, and then dipped your head into the water. Your friends looked at you with wide eyes.
"Has she finally lost her mind?" Nebula sneered at the other two.
When you surfaced again, you had a smile on your face.
"Girls, it's the merpeople!" You counted excitedly. "That's the clue. I can't believe we stared at the great lake all this time and didn't come up with this idea."
Natasha entered the communal hall next, and when she saw your wet torso, she frowned.
" Should I ask...?" She began with mild irony, watching you take the egg from the aquarium and return to the couches, the water dripping all over the hall.
"She just deciphered the egg!" Wanda warned contentedly, and when you approached, she ran her hands down your neck and gave you a lingering kiss, and you almost dropped the egg on the floor.
"For merlin, get a room." Nat teased before Gamora could do it, and you and Wanda parted with giggles.
You used the wand to dry your body and the floor, returning the egg to Wanda. Nat sat down in one of the free armchairs.
After you finished cleaning up, you repeated the lyrics of the song to them.
"Does that mean you're going to be underwater for an hour?" Nebula questioned in surprise to Wanda, and the girl sighed.
"I guess so." She replied thoughtfully. "And now I'm going to need to figure out a way to do that."
"If you were an animagus, you could turn into a fish." Nat mocked making the group smile.
"I thought you'd have a better resistance to holding your breath, Wands. Since you're kissing all the time." Nebula added and Gamora and Nat laughed, while you rolled your eyes awkwardly, and Wanda raised her middle finger at the girl, her cheeks flushed.
"Let's focus, please." Asked the sorceress in front of you, embarrassed by the teasing.
"Yes, yes." Gamora agreed, gesturing. She settled herself in the armchair before speaking again. "I think you could use some plants. I'm sure Mantis must know some herb that will make you breathe underwater."
"Speaking of Mantis, where is she?" Nat asked and you turned your head in her direction.
"She has private lessons with Professor Heimdall, Tasha." You explained. "Of divination. She's pretty good, I think."
Nat murmurs in understanding, and Wanda says she will talk to Mantis about it when she is free. You gather up the books, and decide to spend some time playing chess and drinking tea now that you no longer have to worry about unraveling the egg.
You miss many opportunities to tell Wanda about your connection with her. That's because you have too many moments alone, between conversations and make-out sessions, and you just don't tell. And the feeling of keeping something from her corrupts you inside, but you bear it.
And then the date for the second task comes, and you're a nervous wreck, and Wanda doesn't understand why you're especially affectionate this morning, but she's not complaining.
Mantis got some kind of plant for her, which would give Wanda enough time to stay submerged as long as necessary.
You and the girls had also practiced swimming in the great lake with Wanda many times since the day you discovered the clue. And the vision of Wanda in her swimsuit was still preserved somewhere in your mind.
"Have you seen Pietro anywhere?" Wanda asked annoyed, looking around as you all had breakfast. The vast majority of the school was already on their feet as well, excited for the start of the task.
"I last saw him last night, after we went to Quidditch practice." Quill counters distractedly, passing jam on one of the toasts.
"You two had worked things out, right?" You ask as you are sitting next to Wanda, she nods and then sighs.
"I think so." She mumbles. "I wanted to see him before the task."
You bite the inside of your cheek, not knowing how to help her. It was already time to leave, and you hoped that Pietro wouldn't be so stubborn to stay away from his sister on this day. You kept your hand intertwined in Wanda's all the way, trying to assure her, and she was very grateful.
The clue was right after all. The whole school was carried to the middle of the lake through the boats, up to huge iron bleachers that were conjured up during the night.
"You look so cute in that uniform." You comment in Wanda's ear before bidding her farewell to go up to the bleachers, talking about the Slytherin competition uniform, and smiling at the way her cheeks redden. "Be careful, Wands."
"I will." She assures before kissing you. She joins the champions and you look at her one last time before going upstairs to join the rest of the students.
When Principal Harkness announces the start of the task, after explaining that an important treasure had been taken from the champions and they would need to find it in the lake, you stand with your body tense with nervousness, clenching your hands on the railing as you look down. The whistle sounds and you hold your breath as you watch Wanda dive in.
"Hey, are you going to be okay?" Gamora asks next to you, placing her hand on top of yours on the metal. You swallow dryly, looking away from the lake to her.
"I will." You say trying to force a smile. "As long as she does."
Gamora looks at you a moment, assessing your face.
"I'm sure Wanda will be fine." She says.
You nod, looking down again. Now all that was left to do was wait.
"Did you hear what Tony just said?"
You blinked a few times. You were in the circle with your friends in the bleachers, and you got distracted again by looking at the lake. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the return of the champions to the surface, talking among themselves and placing bets on the winners. Tony's friends joined in as soon as the task began.
"Sorry, Gamora." You say. "What?"
"Natasha is missing too." She says and you frown in confusion looking at the rest of the group.
"Pietro and Tasha, Y/N." Gamora says. "Tony just said they were supposed to meet last night, but she didn't show up. And no one saw her, just like Pietro."
You didn't know exactly what to make of that, but when you looked at the lake, you frowned.
"Gamora, you don't think that..."
"That's exactly what we're thinking." It is Tony who speaks now, looking at your expression and deciphering the idea that has gone through your head. "I just talked to the Durmstrang guys. One of their boys vanishes at night too, I think he's Grey's best friend."
You widened your eyes, and then leaned on the railing, looking down. Tony and Gamora mimicked your position.
"That's insane." Gamora commented, and you nodded in agreement.
"What happens if the champions lose the task?" Tony asked and you shook your head, not liking the possibility.
"I'm sure Professor Harkness wouldn't let anything bad happen." You say. "Right?"
Gamora and Tony murmur in agreement, and you find that your words were more to reassure you than to reassure them.
With thirty-eight minutes on the clock, Jean Grey emerged from the lake. And she was not alone.
The crowd started cheering as she and Scott Lang, as Harkness announced, swam out of the lake. Reporters from the Daily Prophet were also taking several pictures, and you noticed the Durmstrang flags in the hands of some students.
Your friends seemed reassured to see Scott's condition, deducing that Pietro and Natasha would also be fine. You only felt more nervous because Wanda was still at the lake.
Twelve minutes after Jean, it was Maria Hill's turn to step up. The crowd celebrated as they watched the remainder of her transfiguration into a shark before she returned to human form, bringing Nat with her. You and your friends rushed downstairs to Tasha, but you barely caught Gamora's teasing about the redhead being the treasure of the foreign student, as your gaze was on the lake while you were on the edge.
"Ten minutes to the end of the second task!" Announced one of the judges loudly, causing the crowd to cheer. You felt your stomach drop. Where was Wanda?
And then you saw her. But only inside your head.
It was another vision, and you felt your body go cold as if you were in the lake. It was dark and blue, and you couldn't breathe properly.
Then you blinked and were back in the stands.
With a sob, you jumped into the lake.
Immediately, as soon as you did, the crowd and the teachers looked at you with shock, but you dove in the next.
It was very cold.
The lake was as dark underneath as you thought it would be. And you were gradually running out of air as you sank, but you didn't care. You needed to find Wanda.
When you began to lose consciousness, you thought you saw a light, and struggled to swim a little further. But then your air ran out completely, and you passed out.
You woke up in a jolt, feeling like you were drowning.
But you were warm, and lying on a soft surface. It took you a few seconds to realize that it was the bed in the infirmary.
The warmth came from the comforter at the level of your neck, clearly bewitching judging by the way it shimmered softly.
"Hey." It was Wanda. At your side. Safe.
You moved out of the covers quickly, your hand reaching for hers on the bed.
"Hey, how are you feeling? You didn't get hurt did you?" The questions escaped your mouth faster than you even thought about them. Wanda had a frown on her face, but she squeezed your hand back and with the other she touched your face, and you leaned into the touch, feeling your body relax.
"I'm fine, I promise." She assures. "I just don't understand why you did that."
"Did what exactly?" You ask confused, trying to remember how you ended up in the infirmary. Had you hit your head somewhere?
Wanda looks at you with confusion.
"Jump in the lake." She clarified. "Why did you jump in the lake after me?"
You blinked in surprise, giving a short laugh.
"What are you talking about, Wands?" you asked. "I was watching you. Are you sure I didn't fall? Maybe I hit my head and..."
"You don't remember?" She interrupts in shock, and then lets out an incredulous sigh. "Okay, now I'm even more worried."
You were feeling your head aching, and you rubbed your fingers over the tip of your forehead a moment, before sighing.
"What happened to you in the task, anyway? You were gone long."
Wanda looked away from yours, biting her lip.
"It was nothing." She grumbled and you frowned.
"Wanda..." You started. "Don't lie to me."
"I'm not lying." She retorted snidely. But when she looked at you, she didn't keep her gaze and you sighed, letting go of her hand and throwing yourself back on the bed, feeling frustrated. "I just don't want you to think I'm weird."
You frown at the statement, turning your head to look at her again. Wanda takes a deep breath before confessing.
"I've been having visions in my head."
You think you can laugh at the irony of the facts. Wanda takes advantage of your lack of reaction to continue explaining.
"S-started last year. I... I don't know what they mean, but sometimes they make me too distracted. And well, I had one during the task, and I got lost. So it took me a while to find Pietro, but I was fine." She recounts. "You didn't have to jump in the lake and..."
"I saw you." You interrupt half breathlessly. "In my head. I... I thought you were drowning." You recount recalling, feeling a slight pain deep in your eyes. "It was dark and I felt like I was being pulled under."
Wanda's eyes widen.
"I fought with Grindylows down there for a moment." She says. "They tried to pull me to the bottom, and well, it was quite despairing, but I managed to take them on. It was right after I got lost."
Both of you are silent for a moment, your breaths slightly uncompensated as you try to understand exactly what it all means. You clear your throat deciding to break the silence.
"Wanda, what happened to me?"
"You almost drowned." She says lowering her gaze to the bed. "I found you on the way back. Unconscious." Wanda counters with watery eyes. "For a moment I thought..."
She sighs softly, controlling the urge to cry by shaking her head slightly and forcing a smile. You feel horrible for worrying her like that.
"Heimtall and Strange jumped into the lake a little later behind you. I guess everyone thought you were playing tricks, but when you didn't climb back up they realized something was wrong. I was trying to carry you along with Pietro when they caught up with us."
"Come here." You ask opening your arms and Wanda climbs on the bed, sinking against you. You both immediately relax from the embrace, and you close your eyes as Wanda buries her face in your neck, running her hands behind your back.
"Please don't ever do anything like that again." She whispers against your skin, and you swallow dryly. Judging from the facts, you can't promise her that.
Your friends came to visit you in the infirmary too. You had a short episode of hypothermia, so Nurse Cho wanted you to rest and had let only Wanda stay to see you. Everyone had agreed that you would like to see her first.
Tony told the teachers and judges that he had dared you to jump in the lake, and even though your friends didn't understand why Tony didn't want the adults to know what was going on with you lately, they all backed up the story.
You and Tony ended up with a month's detention for this.
The only relatively good thing about this whole story was that you and Wanda shared the same experiences. You told her about your visions and nightmares, and she told you about hers. Visions of red lights as her powers, and masked witches.
You talked to Wanda about your connection on a rainy Thursday in May. You both were on your bed in the dormitory, a few spell books between you to finish the lesson Professor Stephen had passed on, and Wanda was concentrating, the strands of brown hair falling down her face as she bit the end of her pencil and read the words in front of you. She was beautiful, and you were in love. And you could no longer hide it.
"I need to tell you something."
Wanda looked at you with a mildly surprised expression, but smiled, shifting on the bed to look at you.
You watched her expression go from confused, to embarrassed, and then to worried in a few seconds after the words "There's something weird going on with me. I think I'm magically connected to you, and I'm not just talking about liking you" came out of your mouth. And then you told about the way you felt every time you thought of her in danger, and Wanda swallowed dryly, looking away.
"I don't know what to say." She confessed clumsily, and then clasped her hands to her face for a moment in frustration. "Shit, I have no idea what that means."
You sighed, reaching out to reach for her hand on the bed. Wanda watched your fingers together, and you frowned as her eyes filled with tears.
"I'm putting you in danger, aren't I?" She asked in a whisper, and you looked at her with confusion, but she didn't wait for you to speak. "I'm talking about the lake. You almost drowned to follow me. What happens if I get hurt?"
"No." She interrupts forcing a smile, and releasing his hand. "Do you realize how dangerous magical connections can be? What happens if, I don't know, the third task is even more dangerous? Will you throw yourself in front of some other monster? How far does it go? I don't want your life to depend on mine!"
Wanda stands up, babbling nervously about things that might happen, and you look at her in surprise, standing up as well. You try to touch her shoulder, but she pushes your hand away.
"Do you even know if you really like me? If it isn't just because of the magic?" She accuses and you take a step back.
"Don't say that." You retort starting to feel irritated and hurt.
"No, I mean it." She repeats in a whiny voice. "How can you be sure your feelings are real? It could just be the magic and.... "
"I am in love with you." You interrupt, but Wanda just shakes her head in disbelief, letting the tears flow. When you try to touch her again, she sobs and pulls away. "Wanda, I really am. Please..."
"Stop." She gasps as she pulls further away. "Just stop." She asks and you hold yourself in place, feeling your face wet. Wanda takes a deep breath, wiping away her tears. "I need time. I don't...I don't know what to make of this right now."
You swallow dryly, looking at her in shock.
"I don't want us to end." You say and Wanda just sobs softly, shaking her head.
"I can't stay with you without knowing if what you feel for me is real." She retorts in a voice hoarse from crying, but her gaze doesn't flinch. Your stomach turns the wrong way, because you feel terrible. "I need time to think. And I can't think with you by my side."
Then she left. And you let the tears flow freely.
Tag list> // @sxfwap // @table57 ||@imapotatao / @aimezvousbrahms/ @ensorcellme/ @helloalycia@mionemymind / @abimess / @stephanieromanoff / @yourtaletotell / @tomy5girls / @justagaypanicking / @thegayw1tch / @idek-5 // @myperfectlovepoem // @helloalycia // @ENSORCELLME // @AIMEZVOUSBRAHMS // @drpepperobsessed // @sighsam // @olsensnpm
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Phyllida has a fabulous London based artist that also worked for years at Slade. I love the sense of humour and monumental scale of her work. There is something very other worldly about Barlows works. They seem to almost grow from the walls of the gallery before your very eyes. I can image her to be a material hoarder. Her works even evolve from old to new so no material could ever be considered wasteful.
Barlow seems a very settled about making her mark in the art world later in life. I can totally understand what she means about being a parent and being an artist. It is a difficult juggle. I find it very comforting not to worry about the when or if. Just to make and see what happens, although saying that to work large scale you have to have resource for storage space in-between exhibitions. Like Neil Morris says there is a extra responsibility when making large scale works is like owning a horse.
I loved this documentary and I find the precarious nature of her work both beautiful and humorous. I find it incredibly to hear that being a teacher could hinder an artists success! I find that very strange surely being a teacher should be respected how else do they expect artist to survive without being known other than supporting their practice in any way that they can. Being a teacher is a very valuable, respectable and important job for anyone and should be treated as such.
Its interesting to hear that she experienced jealousy after seeing her own students progress ahead of her. Although she is also very pleased and proud for them all.
Sadly I don’t find it shocking to hear that gender or motherhood could of stopped her earlier progress its so sad that we are still fighting these long battles of inequality especially artists of such exceptional calibre. I find it very upsetting to think we could continued without seeing Barlows work.
I feel Phyllida achieves her ultimate goal of creating the unnameable thing. I find it brilliant to hear her work is about mistakes and wanting those mistake the idea of sculpture being a humours escapade. This idea of wanting it to fall and collapse in front of the viewer or at least appear to be. It’s clear to see the influence of Charlie Chaplin and Lorral and Hardy sets in her most recent works. The piles of wood are like fallen buildings that are the. becoming unnameable creatures.
Iv just started with materiality again myself and I am definitely finding humour in my inability to create anything properly, but Iv decided to embrace my weird. I would love to be able to create to this scale at some point in my career more and more it makes you realise to be able to work big you definitely need to work with a team and a good health and safety officer. 😜
Comedy in the way objects fail
I want things to collapes and become something else.
Survival artist : 5 kids on a teachers salary
Chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennially
Works with wood stereophome ignored for many years
I couldn’t of done the attention bit earlier I would of been over ridden by it. I needed a long time for it to work.
Went to art school in 1960s
Sense of materiality
Perplexed by what was seen as good or bad and right or wrong and basically told them where to go.
Worked nights to earn money it was a double act with artist husband.
Being an artist and having children are totally incompatible.
Surviving professional jealousy, complex feelings why one succeeds and others don’t.
Buster Keating and Laurel and Hardy are my inspiration
Sculpture is about mistakes.
Something about the endeavour of sculpture that’s comical to me.
I encourage the accidental
Has had sculptures fall apart during exhibition
Assistant says it may look precarious but they do have to follow health and safety measures to allow public to view her works.
Tate Devine show monumental
Gender, large family and teacher said to be part of the reason why she was ignored.
Love other artist even the shouty artist like Tracy Emin and Damien Hurst
Tougher for young artists now more than ever
Student at the Slade and taught at the Slade as a lecturer
Just because a works hit the gallery doesn’t always mean it’s the best work from that artist, I mean that is including my own work. its not about being the best its about being lucky.
Charles Darwin was her great great grandfather. Mother said not to use it to progress professionally.
My ambition is to make an unnamable thing.
10 More Games that should be Remade
Last year, I made a list of five video games that should be remade or remastered. And now that time has passed and we are in a new generation of consoles, I have decided to make a follow-up to that original list.
So if you’re an avid gamer or you enjoyed my last list, keep reading to see the more games I would love to see get remade for modern consoles.
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Kicking off the list is this classic title from the Super Nintendo era. Of all the games in the Legend of Zelda series, I have a special relationship with this one. It’s the first game in the series I personally played and completed.
I remember getting into the story, travelling across the light and dark dimensions of Hyrule, the great soundtrack, and feeling like a real and growing hero on a perilous quest. Something the best Zelda games excel in.
And after the success of the recent remake of Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, I would love to see another classic Zelda game be made for modern consoles.
2. Sonic Adventure
I use to consider myself a pretty strong Sonic fan. But thanks to last decade of mediocre blunders and the occasional decent game, I have completely changed my tune and have become the most casual if not indifferent to the franchise now. The biggest problem I have with it is the lack of consistency of well established mechanics, control, and sufficient quality of each title. I’m saying all of this because I think the original Sonic Adventure is one of the best Sonic games of all time, 3D or otherwise!
The fun and engaging speed-based platforming, the very catchy soundtrack, the strong variety of gameplay styles, memorable characters, and a fairly entertaining story makes this game still a blast, among most of the others that followed it.
Unfortunately, this game has not seen any action since being remastered on the GameCube years ago. I think it’s time for a group of talented and competent developers to recreate this from the ground up. With brand-new cutscenes, reworked voice acting, and re-imagined levels, but still the great control and mechanics the original game had over a decade ago. And who knows, maybe it would inspire Sonic Team and SEGA to actually make more good 3D Sonic games in the future.
Another member of the Nintendo family that I wanted to add to this list is Samus Aran and the Metroid franchise. It’s been quite a while since we had a proper game in this series, and I would like to see Nintendo bring it back in an exciting new way.
I would like to imagine re-imagining the original game with the bounty hunter Samus Aran being sent on a mission to a dangerous planet, and fighting her way through various intergalactic monsters and villains. But perhaps in the vein of an open-world action/horror RPG game, where you build your own personal armor and weapon upgrades for Samus, fight terrifying monsters like Mother Brain or Ripley, and explore strange and unpredictable locations on your mission.
This could potentially revitalize what made the original games unique and memorable. Like it’s iconic heroine, non-linear gameplay approach, and it’s more mature tone compared to someone like Mario or Zelda.
4. Sly Cooper
Sly Cooper is one of PlayStation platforming icons from the PS2 era. The charming anthropomorphic racoon criminal with a heart of gold carried a series of well-received and beloved games that used skillful platforming and slight stealth mechanics, and told entertaining stories with a variety of colorful characters in the vein of classic cartoons with a noir style.
But the character has been absent since his last game in 2013. And fans have been eager for him to return. What better time would that be but for the PlayStation 5 now out, and other platforming icons like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon having success with their recent games?
In my opinion, I would like to see Sly Cooper take the route of the recent Ratchet and Clank games. Rebooting the franchise with a new story continuity, but also contain the same gameplay we liked from the PS2 days. And given the success of Ghost of Tsushima, I’d like to think the talented developers at Sucker Punch games could bring this character and his world back in a fun new way.
5. American McGee’s Alice and Alice: Madness Returns
American McGee’s adaptations of the Lewis Carroll stories of Alice in Wonderland are both a bizarre and dark delight that would make Tim Burton’s version look docile by comparison.
The original game was released in 2000, with it’s sequel coming out eleven years later. And it’s senior designer, McGee, is currently developing a third installment. As a fan of the series, I would like to see these games either remastered or rebuilt with more modern assets into a collection for modern consoles.
The original Rampage was an arcade beat-em-up game where you played as giant monsters and destroy cities. As the game evolved through sequels, more creatures were added, and the series developed more of a satirical sense of humor. There was even a live action movie starring Dwayne Johnson. (It was not good)
With such a simple and fun premise, it surprises me a little bit that we haven’t seen a new installment since the PlayStation 2 with Rampage: Total Destruction. I would gladly play a new game with George, Lizzie, Ralph, and other monsters tearing through famous cities, eating innocent people, and fighting each other either alone or in multi-player.
7. Chrono Trigger
The original Chrono Trigger was a time-travelling and action-packed JRPG adventure developed by Square (now known as Square Enix) in 1995. I remembered playing a little bit of this on my PlayStation 2 and getting into it’s story, characters, gameplay, and style, created by Dragon Ball’s very own Akira Toriyama.
With the recent success of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII remake, I would like to see a similar treatment for this game. A fully realized and immersive Action RPG with the same story and characters I found engaging when it was only pixels.
8. Rival Schools
Does anyone remember Rival Schools? I wouldn’t be too shocked if you answered “no”. It was actually my introduction to the Capcom way of fighting games. Before I played any Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom, I tried this. And it was reasonably fun.
But unlike those other two game series’, this one has never gotten as much attention or follow-ups since at least 2000. It wasn’t until Street Fighter V that a character from the series proper appeared as a playable guest.
I would encourage Capcom to give this underrated diamond in the rough another look as a full HD remake of the original game and it’s sequel Project Justice, that re-introduces Capcom fans to the world and characters. And, who knows? Maybe we’ll see a third game in the future.
Now for these final two games on this list, they will both be a little different. Instead of remaking a specific game, I’m more interested in revitalizing the idea based on another game. It may sound confusing, but I will try to explain it as best as I can.
9. The original Resident Evil
The Resident Evil is a series that has been going strong since 1996. And with the release of the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, I have to ask: why hasn’t the original game been remade recently?
The closest thing to a reason I can gather is that the first Resident Evil was remade in 2002. And it received praise from fans and critics alike. But that was over 10 years ago, and I wouldn’t see the harm in doing it again with some new tweaks.
Much like the recent remakes of the second and third installment, I would like to see the gameplay brought to the third-person action perspective. I would also like to see all of the main characters from Raccoon City Police Department’s STARS (Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, and Albert Wesker) to be playable as you progress through the story. And finally, I would love to see the infamous Spencer Mansion and it’s monsters re-created with our modern gaming technology. And with most of these elements present in the previous remakes, it should not be that difficult to do. Here’s hoping Capcom understands this and, at the very least, considers it.
10. PlayStation All-Stars (Kind of)
I am a PlayStation player. It is my console of choice above all others, and I own it with pride. That doesn’t mean that Nintendo or the XBox are necessarily inferior, as I have enjoyed those as well and recognize their worth. It’s only that I have a ton of nostalgia for the PlayStation and it’s characters, past or present.
So being a fan, I was very excited to hear about a kind of PlayStation answer to Nintendo’s fighting game classic, Super Smash Bros. And then I was disappointed by it’s lackluster execution. Containing a average to mediocre cast of playable characters, overly complicated mechanics, and Fat Princess for whatever reason.
With a cast of iconic PlayStation characters that includes Kratos, Nathan Drake, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Dante, Lara Croft, and Ratchet/Clank. And then add new PlayStation favorites like Ellie from The Last of Us, Jin Sakai from Ghost of Tsushima, Knack from Knack, Aloy from Horizon, and more, you cannot tell me that they cannot craft a worthy fighting game that could stack up to Nintendo’s crossover.
All Sony would have to do is have a group of competent developers create a fun and engaging fighting game engine, kind of like Smash Bros, and use the many PlayStation mascots to their best potential. And if it was successful and fans enjoyed it, you can then add even more characters, from obscure or even indie games on the PlayStation platform. Seriously, Sony. It wouldn’t hurt you too much to try this again.
And that’s all I got for this year’s Video Game wishlist. I don’t know if I will make this a habit, but the game industry can be full of surprises. What game would you like to see remade and why? What do you think of my choices? Feel free to let me know below. Be sure to like and reblog this post. And follow for more from the CineLab!
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At The Bottom Of The Well Lies My Heart
^ "I'm one of the few alive ones they let come and go", tag if you use :) Also: Apocalypse Billie Dean Supremacy. (BITCH THAT HAIR AUUAUUAUGH)
Billie Dean Howard x Fem!Reader
Following the strange going-ons at the family BnB, Y/N calls up a particular specialist in the field of the supernatural.
A/N: I was hooked on this idea ever since I wrote it, and I am so happy that it's finally in the works. Also, to all of my international peeps, the Oregon Coast is located on the west side of the US and is very mild and rainy, especially in the winter/fall months. It's not tropical in the slightest; there's a lot of trees everywhere. Like big Evergreen trees. It's also located next to the Pacific Ocean, so it's gonna be kinda cold and stormy. This is also on a bit of a fastrack, and I will be doing some time skips due to the nature of the series. NOT a slow burn lmao.
Also, special thanks go to @delias-bitch-craft for encouraging this and giving me all the juicy details about Billie, (you're an angel). I hope this is may be a bit of consolation after the stint I pulled with tagging you in another Hey Mamas Billie post.
Warnings: Mild Swearing, f l i r t y Billie. Like so much flirting it's suffocating. You've been warned, okay?
The rush of the morning check-outs proved to be far more tiring than I could have predicted. Last night's booking had been full to the brim, all of the rooms having been booked by 4:30 that afternoon. When I had agreed to take on the family business and settle for the "quaint" life, I should have remembered that living directly on the Oregon Coast meant tourists, and in the late September air, people still couldn't tire of the salty air of the beach. Luckily for me, this would be the last sunny weekend of the year, which meant fewer visitors and solitude. Lots of solitude. The kind that kept me stuffed up in the cozy library as rain relentlessly drummed against the window panes for hours.
It wasn't that I was averse to solitude, as a severe introvert I enjoyed the time spent alone with a good book. The problem was that I didn't have someone to share it with. No lover, friend, or even sibling to laugh with while we drank tea. All of my siblings had left the state as soon as they turned 18, leaving me, the middle child, as the one and the only person who would care for our treasured family heirloom. I'm happy for them, they got away while they still could. It's hard to stay sane when your only company for days on end is the sweet, but clueless cook dubbed Aunt Cassie by my father. The darling can hold a conversation, but how she does so without a brain is beyond my understanding.
The guest book lies in front of me, all guests had checked out early Sunday morning, leaving not even one straggler to keep me company. The wind howled against the old wooden window panes and the tell-tale dark grey of rain clouds clustered over the sky. There would be a rainstorm soon, and a violent one by the looks of it. Now would be a good time as any to get started on my chores.
"Vinny?" I call, looking for the stout maid.
"I'm over here!" she croaks, peering out at me from the kitchen.
"Hey, how are you?" I smile, giving the older woman a quick hug.
"Oh, I'm good dear, just chatting with Cassie before I get started on clearing the rooms,"
"Well, there's no rush. We won't be expecting many people," I chuckle, glancing at the ominous sky.
"Are you sure? I thought we had a lady coming in to check on the house!" Aunt Cassie chirps from behind the dishwasher.
Maybe I haven't given Cassie enough credit. Dementia has taken much of what I remember to be her witty and sarcastic personality, instead turning her into a doleful shell of who she once was. To say I was surprised by her sharp memory was an understatement.
"You're absolutely right Auntie!"
"Of course I am. I may have a case of CRS, but I'm not completely gone!"
"CRS?" I ask.
"Yes, CRS. Can't. Remember. Shit." she spells out.
"Well if Cassie isn't getting her humor back," Vinny twitters.
"I'll leave you two to enjoy your morning. I'm gonna check the guest book one more time,"
"No, no. Have a cup of coffee first. I can see the bags from here." Aunt Cassie insists.
Fifteen minutes later I leave the kitchen with a steaming cup of coffee, two croissants, and a platter of assorted fruit topped with yogurt. I had already eaten a few minutes ago, but there was no leaving the kitchen without a plate of food. Settling down at the tiny reception desk, I flip through the guest book as I sip my coffee. I almost make it to the list of arrivals when the sound of a bell jingling alerts me of a newcomer.
The rush of the cold fall air spreads through the entryway as a figure steps in. Carrying nothing but a small handbag and a satchel, my view of them is temporarily obscured by the tip of her umbrella. Quickly closing the black contraption, I finally take a glimpse of the figure. She has the most beautiful hair I've ever seen in my life. It flows down her shoulders like a waterfall, every hair settling like the angels themselves placed them there. Adorned in a form-fitting flora dress and matching cardigan, I can hardly speak. Dressed to a T, and completely aware of the way her presence affects me, she glides through the air like a goddess.
"Good morning doll, are you the receptionist, or the manager?" she croons, biting her lip ever so playfully.
"Both, I suppose," I chuckle.
"A powerhouse of ambition I see,"
"Hardly," I blush. "The establishment is family owned and operated, I'm just the newest victim of my Grandfather's vision,"
"Well I suppose I have him to thank for this wonderful view," she replies, eyes trained on me like a hound.
I'm at a loss for words, desperately trying to come up with a response. Something. Anything. I'd rather not be a complete fool in front of this magnificent woman, but I've been flustered to the point where I can hardly remember my own name.
"I'm Billie Dean Howard, but you can call me Bille. It's what my friends call me," she winks, gracefully extending her hand which I shake with no qualms.
Her hands are so soft, delicate, and smooth like silk. The softest scent of cigarette smoke and a floral number hang in the air, and I'm intoxicated as soon as it reaches my lungs.
"Nice to meet you, Bille. I'm Y/N L/N, but please call me Y/N," I stutter. The effect she has on me is unbearable, and I curse myself for my incompetence.
"That's such a pretty name, but not half as pretty as my name when it comes out of your lips," she flirts.
I gasp, and she smirks, biting her lip with more force. I would almost brush off her flirting as something she does with everyone, but I don't want to lose this idea that we might have something. She's far too entrancing to lose due to my self-doubt.
"Your room is number four, I can lead you there if you'd like,"
"I would love that, doll,"
I lead her up the stairs and down the hall until I reach the bedroom door, unlocking it and handing her the key. She walks through the room with confidence, not like she owns the place, but close. Turning towards me once more, I see a glimmer of playfulness in her smile.
"So darling, when are we going to discuss your little problem?" she smirks.
"What-, what problem," I blush.
"The ghost problem sweetheart, the one you hired me for?"
I nervously chuckle as I put two and two together. The medium. That's Billie. The one I had contacted last week and who had agreed to come on very short notice.
"Yea, sorry. It's been a busy few weeks with the end of tourist season and all,"
"Oh, it's quite alright doll, I've been there before," she winks.
“Thanks for understanding. When would you like to start?” I ask, wincing at how professional I sound. My customer service voice has a terrible habit of creeping into my tone when I’m nervous.
“Not today. I flew over from Georgia and I am in need of a rest,”
We both laugh a little at the statement. Misery loves company, and I’m convinced we might have a few customer service stories, although mine would never top hers.
“It sounds like you are in for a busy day. Is there anything I can help you with in the meantime?”
“Thank you for asking babe,” she winks draping a hand over my shoulder so casually. It blows my mind how she manages to flirt so nonchalantly. “If you wouldn’t mind I’d like a tour of the place, get a feel for the house,”
“I’ll find you in an hour,”
“Sounds like a deal.”
I wish I could say that I returned to my work in a timely manner, but my tasks evolved into nothing more than meandering around the halls, completing little tasks as I thought of them. Sooner than I had thought, the hour is up and I begin tracing my footsteps back to Billie's door. Raising my hand to the door, I am about to knock when I feel the touch of a palm on my shoulder.
"I see you have a knack for staying on schedule," Billie whispers into my ear, and I struggle to retain my composure, a shiver begging to shoot up my spine.
"I do try,"
"Well then, is there a library here? I do enjoy the company of the fireplace with a good book," she winks.
"Yes, let me take you there," I breathlessly reply, turning to walk the other way.
Billie quickly links her arm in mine, the light click of her heels against the carpet sinking into the background of my mind. What is happening to me? I've hardly met her and here I am being reduced into nothing but a flustered and frantic mess. Even her smell is clouding my senses! The mixed scent of cigarettes and Chanel No. 5 whirls around in the air, encompassing my head in a fog. It makes me more agreeable, more vulnerable, bendable, and everything I swore I wouldn't be if I ever tasted of love. If Billie Dean is the sun, then I am Saturn, set to my own path in space, following my own trajectory, but still ultimately bound to her gravitational pull.
Everything is happening too soon. The way she giggles at some light-hearted joke, the look in those eyes, so warm and full, the color of liquor in a bottle that pulls you down, makes you lose your wits. I can't breathe when we settle down in a chair together, when we share our favorite stories, when we giggle like children.
"You are too much fun, doll!" Billie laughs, throwing her head back, curls bouncing in the air.
"I don't deserve half the credit, you are the true comedian!"
"Trying to flatter me, are you?" she smirks, biting her lip mischievously. "None of your best lines are gonna work on me, you know that?"
"My lines? Babe, you've been flirting with me since you got here. Don't act like you don't have a part in this," I reproach, dramatically rolling my eyes.
"I'm not denying my part in this," she chuckles, "I'm just saying it's gonna take a lot more than some witty lines and good company to get in my bed,"
"Woah, woah, woah!" I stutter, defensively throwing up my hands, "That is not where I'm going with this. I don't do one-night stands, ever,"
"Good," Billie smirks, leaning towards me until our noses touch. "I don't know if I could live with having you for just one night,"
One of her acrylic-tipped hands snakes around my back, settling at the nape of my neck. Her bourbon eyes are lidded in the dim light of the fireplace. My hands cup her face on instinct, and I revel in the feeling of her hair at my fingertips. It's so soft, and I have to resist the urge to bury my hands in it. The same knowing smirk graces her lips, and my eyes are drawn there.
"Are you sure you want this?” She whispers in my lips.
Her lips crash onto mine in a blistering frenzy. The subtle taste of alcohol, cigarette, and cherries? She engulfs me, her tongue sliding into my mouth until all I can taste, all I can feel, all I know is Billie.
@ninaahs, @sapphicforsarahh, @winters-witch-bitch (just let me know if you want to be added/removed from my list :))
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It’s hard to put into words what our first week on trail has been like, but I’ll try.
Tiring. Hot. Cold. Amazing. Beautiful. Adventure. Ouch. Hungry. Thirsty. Dirty. Smelly.
There you have it!
Starting out the PCT was an emotional experience. It was surreal hiking those first few miles, and then it just sinks in “oh right, this is just hiking. And hiking is just walking. And walking is tiring. Wow it’s hot. Wait, how am I already this dirty?” We only made it about .3 miles when we came upon a little campground with some trail angels that we talked to briefly. One of them was an older man with long white silver hair and blue eyes named Legend who apparently is a triple crowner (has hiked the PCT, AT and CDT). He told us to put our hands towards the trail and then grab some air and cup it into a ball in our hands. He said we had grabbed a little piece of magic from the PCT and it is carried in all the hikers who had gone before us and that we were all connected. He told us to hold it up to our hearts to absorb, but being the brilliant nurse that I am, I held it to the right side of my chest instead of the left, so I guess that means the magic went into my rib cage instead. I’m not an expert in PCT magic 🤷🏻♀️ so who knows how it will affect me. Magic ribs? Time will tell. He also told us to take another piece of PCT magic and put it in our pocket to give to a friend. I will sell mine to the highest bidder. Authentic PCT magic, hard to come by, Bitcoin will be accepted as a trade.
Hiking has been very physically exhausting for me, more than I expected to be honest. We’re going about 2-2.3 miles per hour at this point, and have done 10-16 miles per day. We wake up between 6-7 AM, pack up our stuff and head out. Generally we eat breakfast at our first break of the day after 3-4 miles, and I’ve found that I need a break about every 3 miles. If we can get to a great spot for lunch, we will generally take at least an hour and sometimes more if it’s in the heat of the day. We try to stop hiking between 5-6 pm, so we can have time to set up camp, make dinner, roll out our feet and sore muscles, and write in our journals before bed. We are very tired every night, but sometimes we don’t sleep very well if it’s windy or very cold. I always take my trusty Benadryl and sleep better with it!
The hardest part for me so far has been the wear and tear on my feet. The biggest mistake I made at the start was not putting inserts in my shoes. My feet have been in a lot of pain and I’ve had to take more breaks to roll them out to continue hiking. No matter how tired I am, I have to roll out my feet at the end of the day or they fee pretty rough the next day. I’ve also been dealing with some blisters and some chafing, so basically everything hurts! Doing miles on miles every single day is a lot of work, and we are sore every day. Other hikers that we’ve met who have done other thru hikes assure us that we will get our trail legs (eventually) but it’s going to take about 3 weeks
Ok, enough complaining!! We have met some amazing people. Landon’s cousin Justin hiked out with us the first day and it was fun to give him a taste of the trail. There was a small group of people that we started with who have been a bit faster than us and are now ahead of us on the trail, but maybe we’ll run into them again!
We met a mother and son duo named Chris and Pat. Pat is a psychologist at a University and counsels students. She was the nicest friendliest little lady and I immediately liked her. Chris, her son, works in film media and is trying to become a landscape photographer. They were both lovely but Pat can't go very fast so I'm not sure we'll see them again, but we're following each other on Instagram now.
We’ve spent quite a bit of time with a small group of hikers, hiking and also hanging out with them in Julian (where we are taking our first zero day, no hiking and only lots of resting, eating and socializing). Half of them are not American which is exciting! Florian is from Germany and is a super interesting guy. He works for Google and has lived in Australia, the UK, and most recently in San Francisco. We talked about the differences between Germany and Europe, some about politics (how crazy American politics are compared to relatively boring German ones), gun control, Mental illness and lack of resources in America, our messed up healthcare system, the largeness of Australian huntsman spiders, and a whole bunch of other things. Lauren is from Canada and loves to quiz you about geography and ask fun questions. Today she asked "which animal most represents the place that you live?" Landon and I debated for a while and decided on a big horn sheep 🐑. She and Florian met on the JMT and are hiking together as friends as they both have significant others. She is always scavenging for everyone’s extra food and someone suggested that her trail name be Trash Panda (people give each other “trail names” on thru hikes, and then that’s how people introduce themselves. We haven’t gotten ours yet but it’s only a matter of time). I don’t think she accepted that trail name though 😂
Another woman from the group is from Germany named Silke who is a bit more shy but still friendly, and man is she fit. She just blazed past us on the trail today. We also gave her a piece of pop tart and some skittles to try, and she hated both, which was very funny to watch her disgusted reaction. She hasn’t built up the junk food tolerance that we have I suppose, it takes years to build and I started very young! Carolina is from the Czech Republic, and has a great sense of humor. I can’t imagine the kind of bravery it takes to go to a foreign country where you know no one and the language spoken isn’t your first language, and taking on a monumental task like hiking the PCT. It’s pretty incredible and I have a lot of respect for all the hikers, but especially the foreign ones. We took a picture yesterday before Carolina had showered and she said “I look so dirty and crazy!” 😂 I ask just about everyone “what does your family think of your coming out to do this?” and the most common answers include “they don’t really get it...” and “They think I’m crazy.”
Otter is a 58 year old guy who was in the airforce for 30 years and has spent the last 5 years of his retirement hiking and traveling. He hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2019. Otter said that he decided to hike the AT initially because he read a story of a guy in his town who hiked it when he was 18. The guy had to ask permission from the board of education in Virginia to graduate high school early in order to hike it, and they told him no, so he quit high school and did it anyways. Otter told us that he read that and it stuck with him, and he made it a goal of his to hike the AT someday. He said it took 35 years, but he always remembered that guy and wanted to do it. Just goes to show that you never know what kind of impact you can have on the people around you! He has been very kind to us and let us come to the Airbnb that he had rented to do laundry and shower when we got into Julian, and we have used the Airbnb as a hangout zone for our whole group yesterday and today, which has been great. After showering and having clean clothes, we almost felt like normal people 😂. In Mt Laguna at mile 42, we showered in a campground bathroom and washed our laundry in the shower like the hiker trash we now are. Real food from a restaurant and a cold drink from a trail angel (people that provide food/drinks/rides to hikers) is also incredible. When you’re living so minimally, the little things are a big deal!
Lastly we have Brandon, who I met on Instagram last year and was also supposed to hike the trail but canceled due to Covid. He ended up getting a permit for this year too and started the day after us (coincidentally he is also a travel nurse). Last night, after hanging out at the Airbnb, We camped behind the Julian Market (they allow PCT hikers to camp there) and Brandon came too. At 5:30 in the morning after just settling back down into his sleeping bag after getting up to pee, he hears a voice say “oh good, you’re up. I really need someone to talk to.” He looks over and sees this strange girl that he doesn’t know (and wasn’t there when we went to bed) who is wrapped up in her sleeping bag. He says “Oh, um..are you ok?” And she says “I have no pants”. And proceeds to tell him that she ripped her hiking shorts and didn’t carry any warm sleeping clothes because they were too heavy. He tells her that she needs to have warm base layers if she is going to continue hiking (and not die) and that she can pick some up at the gear store in town. She tells him that she asked the guy she was hiking with if she could come and cuddle with him and he told her no, so she knocked on some random strangers window at 3 AM and asked for a ride from Mt Laguna to Julian, and the stranger gave her a ride (and luckily didn’t murder her). So that’s how she ended up on that back porch in Julian, possibly staring at Brandon for hours and willing him to wake up to tell him this. Apparently she talked to him for about 45 more minutes and at some point said that she was waiting for her meds to arrive. He said “Maybe you should call your family?” And she said “no way! They’ll freak out” 😬. Landon and I were returning from using the bathroom and we walked right past them, I thought that they knew each other somehow and somehow missed the pleading desperation in Brandon’s eyes to help him in this incredibly awkward 5:30 AM conversation with this random girl. Eventually she ended up going to the pie shop across the street and sitting in there to get warm and charge her phone. Long story short, I really hope that girl is ok, because hiking the PCT is hard enough as it is without having any warm pants. Also, hiking is not a replacement for a support system and therapy. Be safe and get mentally healthy before you hike!!
One last funny story. This morning we were eating at a diner when the waitress came over to take our order. She looked at me hesitantly and said “Um...I’m not sure how to handle this...you have a spider on your hat.” I yelped and threw my hat on the table. She grabbed my hat and took it outside and gently shook it off and de-spidered it for me before bringing it back to me 😥. What a good lady!! Please tell people if they are wearing spiders and help them out. I guess I am just becoming one with nature now.
Anyways, this is long enough, but I just want to say that we’ve had lots of great experiences, seen beautiful scenery, and met awesome people. Even though this is incredibly hard, it’s such a cool adventure and I am loving having a great partner to experience it with me. Hoping my feet are doing better in the next section and that none of my blisters get infected! Our friends helped me shake down my pack today and I was able to get rid of at least a pound in weight. When you carry everything on your back, hips and shoulders, every little ounce makes a difference! Much love to everyone and thanks for the support, it’s been a great first week!
P.S. - I’ll post our daily mileage for anyone who is interested
Start: Mile 0 Mexican Border
Stop: Mile 11.4
Total: 11.4 miles
Start: Mile 11.4
Stop: Mile 26 Boulder Creek Campground
Total: 14.6 miles
Went thru Lake Morena
Start: Mile 26 Boulder Creek Campground
Stop: Mile 37.1
Total: 11.1 miles
Elevation gain: about 3k feet 🦶
Start: Mile 37.1
Stop: Mile 47.7
Total Mileage: 10.6
Went thru Mt Laguna
Start: Mile 47.7
Stop: Mile 63.7
Total: 16 Miles
Start: Mile 63.7
Stop: Mile 77
Total: 13.3 Miles
Zero Day In Julian
i’ve been rereading a lot of my favorite stuff for months now
since I'm lacking in spoons for library trips
And when I was cottoning on to the fact that I have, in fact, been autistic all along, one of the things I realized is that the connecting thread between the kinds of stories and kinds of characters that I like is in fact that they display autistic or autistic-adjacent traits. I had realized this, come up with a lot of examples. I knew this.
Haha yeah as I'm actually rereading the things the evidence is damning that I did not come even close to understanding the full depth of it.
~ Taucris Ithesta is Autistic and Other Adjacent Things re: Leckie's Novels ~
Actually let's start with The Raven Tower because you can't actually argue with me about autistic Siat.
Siat actively avoids eye contact, is """shy""", speaks too softly, has an excellent grasp of humor, likes rocks as a special interest, likes to collect rocks, likes to sort rocks, likes to line up rocks, has one (1) bff to conduct social interactions for her, notices patterns, is good at learning, and is considered disabled by society's standards.
Ughhhhh all that talk about rocks makes me sad all over again that I pitched my rock collection when I moved out (I saved the best fossils, though).
(ETA: I have since bought more rocks because polished gemstones with carvings on them make for great stims, I am very pleased with me)
Okay so now that that's been established, let's talk about Strength and Patience of the Hill.
Because this rock gets me. Originally I figured it was probably, y'know, like with Ancillary Justice Leckie's given me an ace-aro main character and I can identify with that as an ace-aro. But unlike Breq, who very much loves people and wants to take care of them and found family etc, Strength and Patience of the Hill doesn't give much of a shit about people. With some exceptions of people that are it's people, how dare you mess with them, Strength and Patience of the Hill will kick your ass. Although even then I'm not sure Strength and Patience is all that great at taking care of people. Also Strength and Patience of the Hill is very much absorbed in its own selfishness, very much consumed with his own internal world, and I am also a jerk like that so it was very relatable.
(Yes I am using multiple pronouns because one of my many favorite parts of the book signing was watching everyone scramble over pronouns for a rock because "It never came up so I never figured it out" and I'm pretty sure Strength and Patience doesn't even use pronouns because why would you need a gendered pronoun to refer to yourself??? You don't even need a name to refer to yourself, actually I'm pretty sure Strength and Patience doesn't actually consider itself to have a name.)
So it made sense that this rock just really gets me. I know it's bad when the majority of representation for ace-aro characters is stereotypical robots or rocks or aliens (oooh or sentient space rocks wait wAIT now that I've said that I've just realized the Myriad is the definition of a Crystal Gem, pffft) or whatever but honestly I don't care because I just really identify with the robots??? So I really liked it, YMMV.
(It's probably also bad if the trend for autistically-coded characters is just stereotypical robots or rocks or aliens or whatever too but like honestly a big autistic #mood is feeling like you are a robot or an alien or whatever so maybe that's why I'm not offended???)
My point being that Strength and Patience of the Hill displays a lot of autistic traits and is therefore very relatable, in this Ted Talk I will.
Strength and Patience of the Hill processes things slowly. She will come up with the perfect retort and tell you 5 years later with absolutely no context.
It loves daydreaming, staring at things, noticing patterns, and enjoying quiet and solitude. It loves thinking about why things are the way they are. Look I have fantasized about what if I could exist as just a pair of eyeballs and a mind floating around in space, observing things, thinking things, and not having to actually interact with the world, and I'm pretty sure this rock is living that life. (Until y'know it gets told life doesn't work like that.)
Despite his slow processing speed, and taking a while to learn language, Strength and Patience of the Hill is good at learning things, and I feel like it's the kind of sort-of-sideways, context-based accumulation of knowledge that I learn through as well.
Strength and Patience of the Hill has one (1) friend, and through the Myriad it benefits from the fact that the Myriad has an actual social circle, without having to put forth any effort of maintaining friends on its own, which is 100% the way to do it.
Strength and Patience of the Hill tends to attract the other "quirky" kids--that is, my impression is that the people who become his priests tend to be those people who look at the world a little differently, those people on the fringes. Trans people, autistic people, people with other disabilities.
Strength and Patience of the Hill trying to explain the state of affairs in Vastai to Eolo: "Okay so my first memory I can recall is…"
No, okay, no, I know, it's just literally how the narrative has to be told, I'm not criticizing, but that doesn't make it any less reminiscent of "autistic person trying to explain a simple thing but starts in with 10 pages of context first to ensure the over-explanation makes sense" (haha that's why I consistently got stuck training endless new hires, I'm literally so bad at it that I'm the best in the department and I hate life).
Difficulty understanding other's feelings/points of view/circumstances (I know it's because he's a rock and a god but that doesn't make it any less relatable), hmmm what else…
Oh right, a typical interaction with Strength and Patience of the Hill:
Person: (gives offering)
Strength and Patience: (offering is accepted because the transaction literally occurred, no need to respond)
Person: "(asks petition)"
Strength and Patience: ...
Strength and Patience: wait
Strength and Patience: what
Strength and Patience: wait was I supposed to do something else
Strength and Patience: did you ask something of me?
Strength and Patience: I don't understand what you asked?????
Strength and Patience: it's been an entire year now it's too awkward
Strength and Patience: i'm sure it's. Fine.
Strength and Patience: It's fine.
(rinse and repeat)
Like I said, this rock gets me.
(Haha I was reading through my notes from the book signing and I found "Strength + Patience doesn't give a shit about balance, Strength + Patience is just selfish, which it manifests as apathy, which is why this rock gets me. All of my best interpersonal traits also spring from not giving a fuck and waiting ppl to go away faster lol" and why is that, oh because ~I'm~ ~autistic~ pfffft)
I started this post a while ago and this was as far as I got and I don't remember if I had more??? Time to talk about Taucris probably!!!
(I'm skipping Ancillary Justice etc for now because I do want to make a post about that but like there's just. So much. In those books. It's masking all the way down. So it can be its own post. One day.)
Because I waited so long I forgot what I was going to write so I'll just grab the book and flip through and comment as I see things.
To start off with: Taucris and adulthood. I've seen other people pick up primarily on the gender aspect of it--that Taucris waited until almost 25 to take her adult name because she she never figured out what her gender was (non- uhhhhhh what's the word for binary when it's three and not two? Non-tri-something Taucris in a society with 3 options but all 3 options are gendered? I'll go with that.) What really resonated for me was that Taucris waited until almost 25 to take her adult name because she never felt like an adult. And I get that ~everyone feels that way~ but I feel like it's Different for Taucris in the same way it's Different for me. Anyway I feel like no matter which aspect you choose, it's probably an autistic vibe.
Also Taucris seems to have a bit of a flat affect? She seems very serious (both in body language and in speech), and kind of intense sometimes when she talks, and Ingray notes how Taucris usually doesn't smile (she smiles with Ingray because Ingray makes her comfortable) and has always been """shy""".
Also Taucris...talks strangely? I am not sure exactly how to explain it. It's not written badly or anything, it's...you know how sometimes you suddenly sit back and look at dialogue and go no one speaks like this and it throws you out of the story because you dropped your suspension of disbelief? Taucris kind of gives me that feeling, and only Taucris. Almost like her speech is a little bit stilted? Awkward? She's very serious and matter of fact and says things like "You've always been so kind to me" with a straight face. But it doesn't feel like a """bad writing""" (quotation marks for subjectivity) thing. But I notice it every time I read her dialogue… I think it's just that Taucris is autistic and awkward and that's how she speaks. Also I think she's adorable.
Police work is Taucris' special interest. So much so that that's the entire reason she became an adult, so she could engage in her special interest better. She's ~weird~ for her single-minded interest and her interest in a job below her ~status~ and she doesn't care, she set her heart on this anyway, volunteering and interning so on.
Oh that was something else I was going to talk about--Taucris mentions feeling like she doesn't have her shit together, not like Ingray (who also doesn't feel she has her shit together. Kind of like "no one really feels like an adult). But Taucris seems quite calm and capable in Planetary Security. I don't know if this is just masking, but...I really hope that she does feel that way in her job. That because it's her special interest, that helps balance out the stress of being alive and simultaneously employed full-time. That because she's been volunteering and interning here so long, she's been familiar with the office and it wasn't a stressful transition. That she acts confident because she feels competent and respected. Taucris may look calm and cool and collected on the outside and be screaming on the inside but I hope she actually feels pretty good on the inside too.
I would also like to say that I like Taucris' nother. Despite what Danach implies, I get the picture from Taucris that e is supportive of Taucris' personality and interests even when e doesn't get it. E indulged her interest in police work, e didn't understand why Taucris wasn't taking an adult name but tried to be patient about it...so I assume that also means that e was understanding of all of Taucris quirks and stims and particularities. E's been a good support system while Taucris' peers have not.
(Except for Ingray, Taucris' one (1) friend.)
I like Taucris' relationship with Deputy Chief Veret too--the way Taucris quietly manages breakfast so e doesn't have to think about it or be put out (this is The Love Language to me, not being inconvenienced, and I feel that this is part of my personality because my personality is autistic, so). I don't know why specifically Taucris does this, but all the reasons I could come up with feel very wholesome. Taucris respects Veret as her boss and as a person. Taucris is empathetic and thoughtful (she doesn't like Danach but she tries to consider and understand where he's coming from; Taucris isn't Hatli but she considers Veret's fasting etc to be valid rather than a choice of superstition). Taucris' situation is different but she knows that it doesn't feel good to be treated as weird, to be sneered at because you don't act the way people expect you to. Taucris, being autistic, maybe has a lot of experience with "perfectly good foods" she won't eat. Taucris strikes me as someone who observes quietly, and considers carefully, and maybe takes a long time to make up her mind but when she moves it's deliberately and not carelessly. Which is, to me, a masking trait.
In the quantum version of this post I was going to write everything so polished and lay out my points so nicely but clearly that didn't happen and I don't know where to end this and I'm sure I didn't even explain things that well so I'll just say, I feel it was very autistic of Taucris in the last chapter to just be like "well IDK what you want from me and rather than expending massive effort trying to suss it out and guessing wrong I'll just be direct: I know you can't talk about what happened so I won't ask you about what happened unless you want me to ask you about what happened in which case you should say so and I will ask but I think maybe you just need to watch a movie with me instead."
Saving Grace: Chapter Seven
Meet Damon Salvatore!
(Holy shit this a long chapter)
2009 AD: The Other Brother
Elena was soaked, standing chest-deep in the muddy lake as Ric looked on from the woods above.
“Damon! How are you even here?”
“Thanks for the tip, brother.” Damon’s voice, disapproving and frustrated, sounded from his place behind Ric, leaning against the tree trunk next to him. Neither of them seemed too bothered that he had just launched Elena into the water, though Ric did have the decency to look a bit sheepish.
“You sold me out!” Elena accused.
“You think I'd take you to a mountain range of werewolves on a full moon without backup?”
“Get out of the water, Elena.”
“If I get out of the water, you’re gonna make me go home.” Elena protested.
“Yes, because I’m not an idiot like you.”
“Right now, you’re both acting like idiots.” Ric groused, rolling his eyes, and walking further away from the bickering pair.
“Well, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. Probably won’t be the last.” Grace’s voice could be heard before she came into view, but it was clear from the tone she meant the jibe with affection and good humor.
“You dragged Grace all the way out here just to babysit me?” Elena frowned at Damon.
“He dragged Grace all the way out here because she doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” Grace responded in Damon’s stead. A moment of silence as Damon and Elena stared accusingly at each other.
“You gave up on him, Damon.”
A klaxon-sounding bell tore Grace from her vision-dream, and she was momentarily too discombobulated to realize it was her own alarm clock. Who the fuck are Damon and Ric? Grace sighed. And why the fuck are they looking for werewolves? She’d just gotten over her strange Stefan vision, and the uneasy feeling of her hand in his. Elena liked him, seemed to trust him, and Caroline thought he was God’s gift… it was only Bonnie who seemed to share Grace’s reservations.
Pulling her phone off the charger, Grace found she had a string of new messages. Navigating to the three-way chat between herself, Bonnie, and Elena (some things needed to be Caroline-free), she noticed that the other two girls had apparently had an entire conversation while Grace was asleep.
E: Any word on the psychic front? Am I gonna win the lottery today?
B: ha-ha. I told you, Grams was drunk. No winning lottery numbers here
E: 2 bad. Aunt Jenna really wanted that new tv
B: Grace, I hope Ur not ignoring us. That’s very rude
E: She’s probably still asleep, Bon. It’s like 5 am
There were more, as well as some texts from Caroline, but all Grace could see was one word floating in front of her eyes: psychic. She’d prayed that Bonnie would show some inclination toward magic, that she would have someone to talk to and practice with. Could this be the first signs of her Tapping into her powers?
Quickly - so quickly her first draft was unrecognizable as English – she typed out a response to Elena and Bonnie.
G: I’m awake. Psychic???
While waiting for a response, she alternated between reading the rest of her notifications and beginning the arduous process of brushing and braiding her elbow-length hair. Strangely, Grace had yet to receive Caroline’s customary ‘good morning’ message, which usually consisted of a precise list of all the plans she’d made for the entire day, and maybe an actual ‘good morning,' if she remembered. She did, however, have multiple texts from Caroline dated the night before.
C: If you notice any new tall, dark & handsomes around town, know I’ve already called dibs – 8:00 PM
C: could you please tell Elena she just needs to jump S’s bones already? She listens to u – 8:30 PM
C: OK srsly, I’m asking — has Vicki always been such an attention whore – 8:45 PM
C: don’t answer that – 8:46 PM
No other texts had come in from Caroline until hours later, when she sent the last message of the night:
C: Elena may be a prude, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get some. Don’t wait up ; ) – 10:30 PM
So, clearly Caroline had run into her ‘tall, dark, and handsome’ last night and taken him home. The last part of the message, ‘don’t wait up ; )’, sent a pang through Grace. She remembered when she was the one sending her friends texts like that. Not now, Grace. It’s school time. Mostly, she was fine, didn’t think of Bryan at all… but sometimes a memory would hit her like a fuckton of bricks. She shook off the sudden melancholy and gathered up the scattered grimoires and spiral notebooks strewn across her room from the night before. No wonder she’d stopped answering messages at 8:00 – after pouring over magical tomes for hours, she had fallen asleep early.
“Grace, hurry!” Aimee’s voice urged from her room across the hall. “Don’t you have practice today?” Oh, shit. No matter how good Caroline’s mystery man had been last night, she would happily skewer Grace over a bonfire if she were late for practice again, and her practice clothes were in her duffel in the school locker room. If she was late to school, she wouldn’t be able to grab them before class, which would mean she’d have to detour before practice to get them and… well. Either way, she needed to move her ass or she’d be late to first period. She winced; It was kind of a habit of hers, unfortunately.
“Shit, Aims, I really have to go! Are y’all ready, or can you get dad to drive you?” ‘Y’all,' a phrase reminiscent of her childhood in Louisiana, usually only made an appearance around family members or when she was in a hurry.
“Neither.” Chloe called grouchily from the bathroom, down the hall from her sister’s rooms. She was not a morning person — which was lucky for her, since she’d somehow ended up with study hall (aka an hour to sleep in) first thing in the morning. “Dad left already, which you would know if you ever woke up on time.” Since she didn’t have time to argue, Grace let the snide comment go this once.
“Then get in the car, we have to leave, Chloe!” Where is my damn history book? Grace’s room was a mess of grimoires and textbooks and writings by and for witches. The history book was buried somewhere in the sea of paper and ink.
Chloe’s head popped out from the bathroom, a furiously indignant look on her pretty face. Her hair was to Grace a rat’s nest of clips and curlers and bobby pins, though she was sure it made sense to Chloe.
“Not all of us are okay with looking like Leif Erikson every day, you know.” As mothers are wont to do, Cecile somehow sensed an argument brewing and appeared at the top of the stairs.
“Grace, you go. Take Aimee if she’s ready. I don’t have anything until the afternoon – I can drive Chloe.” As Assistant Curator of the history museum in the city, Cecile worked strange hours and dealt with a fairly lengthy commute every day, but she and Joseph – manager at a bakery in town — felt it worth the sacrifice.
“I’m ready!” To prove her point, the only brunette among them sailed past her mother and sister down the stairs, bag over her shoulder and shoes already on. Shoving her feet into the first pair of tennis shoes she saw, Grace stuffed her history book — found under her bed, for some reason — into her bag and followed Aimee to the car.
Grace needn’t have worried about Caroline’s wrath; when she reached the school, Caroline was nowhere in sight. Bonnie and Elena were, though, so after saying goodbye to her sister, she headed their way, just in time for Stefan to join them.
“Good morning, Elena. Good morning, Bonnie, Grace.” Grace smiled and nodded at him, more focused on Bonnie’s reaction to him than a warm welcome. She hadn’t had any time to see if either of the two girls had responded to her inquiry about Bonnie’s supposed psychic powers, so she’d just have to observe and bring it up later.
“Hey,” the greeting was short and uncomfortable, even for Grace, as Bonnie cast her eyes around for an escape route, “Um, I gotta find Caroline. She’s not answering her phone. So, I’ll see you guys later.” Late and unreachable? Maybe mystery man was more Ted Bundy than Casanova? But before Grace could ask if Caroline really was AWOL or simply being used as an escape route, Bonnie was gone.
“She doesn’t like me very much.” How astute.
“She doesn’t know you.” Elena corrected gently, smoothing ruffled feathers as usual. “She’s my best friend. She’s just looking out for me. But when she does, she will love you.”
“Bonnie’s one of those resistant-to-change types, at least when it comes to the friend group.” Grace offered. She felt awkward, as she agreed with Bonnie but was standing with Stefan.
“Here’s what we’re gonna do.” Uh-oh. That’s her ‘I have a plan’ voice. “Are you free tonight?” Grace didn’t need any powers of divination to see where this was going.
“Perfect. Dinner; My house, 8:00; You, me, and Bonnie.” Elena turned to Grace, an invitation on her lips.
“Oh, no. I’m not getting in the middle of that. This is Bonnie’s thing.” No need to mention her own reservations, especially if it meant getting out of the sure-to-be-awkward dinner.
“Fine. Stefan and Bonnie will spend some quality time and she’ll get to see what a great guy you are. Mission accomplished.” Elena had quite the self-satisfied smile on her face, as if she’d solved world hunger and not Bonnie’s bad attitude. In the silence, a familiar voice sounded in Grace’s ear.
“….Do, Ty?” It was Matt, clearly, but the words were faint. Grace could only make out a few of them,“…made…choice.”
“…One.” Tyler responded.
“Hey, I didn’t know Matt was here already.” Grace exclaimed, just to say something. Elena gave her a strange look.
“What are you talking about? How do you know Matt is here?” Elena knew Matt’s voice as well as Grace did. It should have caught her attention as well, shouldn’t it?
“You didn’t hear him and Tyler?” It was Stefan’s turn to give a strange look, but this one she couldn’t decipher. She wasn’t willing to read him again, so she was left bewildered at the searching expression on his face.
“…Ty, don’t! Ty!” That was louder, but before Grace could make a comment, Stefan was whirling around to catch the football that had been aimed directly at his head. He threw it back — a good throw, maybe better than Tyler’s. Elena laughed at Tyler’s shocked reaction, but Grace was focused on something else. They’re so far away… Grace had always had good senses — perfect vision, a sometimes-too-sensitive consciousness of smell, good hearing — but that was almost… inhuman. No wonder Elena was confused. She hadn’t heard a thing they’d said. Noticing more students arriving, they made their way inside the school, where Elena was not ready to forget Stefan’s display outside.
“That throw was insane. I didn’t know you played football.”
“I used to.” He looked nostalgic for a moment. “It was a long time ago.”
“So why don’t you try out for the team?” Grace asked. Football player and cheerleader may have been a cliché, but it was a cute one.
“Yeah, I don’t think so.” Stefan appeared to think the suggestion was ludicrous.
“So, you don’t like football?” Elena clarified. I hope the mixed signals aren’t a Thing with him.
“No, I love football. I think it’s a great sport.” Grace would beg to differ, though she would never tell Matt. “But in this case, I don’t think football likes me. You saw Tyler over there, and we both know how Matt feels.” The word ‘both’ let Grace know she was heading into third-wheel territory, so she told Elena she’d see her at lunch and made her way to her locker, where her worst nightmare had come true.
Tyler and Vicki. Kissing. She supposed the pair were always either fucking or fighting, so no option was great, but at least when they were fighting, they weren’t a unified front. They wouldn’t tag-team to make her day more difficult. In fact, one of them might even go out of their way to make her life easier, just to spite the other.
Maybe she was glad to be single after all.
“Luctor et emergo.” Grace muttered, as she elbowed her way past the writhing couple to her locker. Grace’s parents had insisted on all three of their children learning both Latin and French from an incredibly early age. Back then, Grace simply thought they were classists or wanted to set their kids apart somehow. Now she knew their true motives – Traditional Magic, and its spells, were almost entirely recited in Latin; the witches of the Quarter use Ancestral Magic – a large part of which was in French. Since childhood, Grace had a habit of slipping into another language in times of stress or hardship — similar to her use of ‘y’all’ — which seemed to be happening a lot more lately. Luctor et emergo: I struggle and emerge. A frequently used phrase when walking the halls of Mystic Fall High School. Another thing becoming more common lately was upper arm work-outs — for days, Grace had been shoving every textbook and spiral bound she could into her backpack and lugging it around all day, just so she could avoid the two forces of nature currently sucking each other’s faces off. The one bright spot was that Vicki had seemed to loosen up on her vendetta against all associated with Elena Gilbert.
Slamming her locker door shut, Grace glanced at her phone again. Bonnie was right — not a peep from Caroline. She began to type a message when the warning bell clanged, signaling two minutes to get to class. She would have to locate Caroline later.
Cheerleading practice was the highlight of Grace’s day. There was almost nothing she loved more than the rush that came from flying and tumbling, except maybe magic. Yes, she hated football — basketball was much less boring, without all that stopping and starting — but cheer was worth it. Of course, she’d made her three closest friends through the squad, and it was one of the few subjects she and Chloe seemed to agree on. Then there was the adrenaline rush, as well as the benefits of having to keep her body in such good condition. It didn’t hurt that the uniform was adorable, either; Grace was proud of the body both nature and cheer had given her, and tended to prefer silhouettes and styles that accentuated her curves, complimenting her features — which, of course, the uniform was basically designed for.
After dropping her water bottle and bag at the edge of the field, Grace began stretching near Bonnie.
“Seriously, if you could maybe make yourself look a little uglier next practice, I think we’d all appreciate it.” Bonnie japed, eyeing the cherry-red spandex shorts and black sports bra Grace had donned for practice.
“You’re one to talk.” Dana, doing the splits a few feet away, called to Bonnie. “Like, could you turn down the glow a little bit, Bonnie?” Grace herself dropped into the splits, having loosened up enough, and slowly rotated forward until she was flat on her stomach. She looked up to see Bethany, a fellow senior, inches away doing the same. Beth, who shared Grace’s weird sense of humor, grabbed Grace’s hand.
“Tell my family…” she whispered, as though she were dying. “Tell my family I died well.” She collapsed loosely on the grass as Grace wailed in feigned grief.
“No, Beth! Come back! I’ll miss you!” Before the charade could continue too far, Grace heard Bonnie’s voice from just outside her limited field of vision.
“Oh, my God! You’re here!” She sounded stunned.
“Yep.” Elena! Grace contorted herself as far as she could without spraining something and saw her two friends standing above her. “I can’t be sad girl forever. The only way to get things back to the way they were are to do things that were.” Grace wasn’t sure that made sense. She slowly pushed herself back up into a sitting position and Bonnie and Elena each grabbed a hand to help her up. “Oh, and you're coming to dinner tonight.” This could end poorly.
“Mm-hmm. You, me, and Stefan.” Bonnie gave The Look. “You have to give him a chance.”
“Tonight's no good. Have you seen Caroline? I texted her like a hundred times.” So, Caroline was still missing… Grace was seriously starting to worry. Missing practice was perhaps the most Un-Caroline thing that could possibly happen.
“Don't change the subject, Bonnie Bennett! You're going to be there.”
“Fine. I'll go.” No one could talk Elena out of something when she set her mind to it, not even Bonnie Bennett.
“Can I circle back to the Caroline thing?” This was probably an appropriate time for Grace to circle back to the psychic thing, but anxiety was gnawing at her. “Neither of you have heard from her. Like at all?” They both shook their heads, then all three girls looked around as if Caroline might pop out of a bush.
“Seriously, where is Caroline?”
“I don’t know. It’s not like her.” Grace was already reaching into her bag for her phone.
“I’ll try her again.” Before she could, however, a car pulled up to the field, containing none other than Caroline… and ‘Damon’. Dream Damon. Grace couldn’t equate Caroline’s sexy-bad-boy mystery guy to the obnoxious but lovable older-brother type she’d dreamt earlier.
“Oh, my God. That must be the mystery guy from the grill.” Grace suggested. Her friends seemed dumbfounded, and some part of her found it good to know they were just as lost as Grace.
“That’s not a mystery guy.” Or not. “That’s Damon Salvatore.” Grace’s head swung toward Elena so fast she almost gave herself whiplash.
“Salvatore, as in Stefan?” So, she’d had visions of both brothers within days of each other? Each one an indication of future best-friendships? Caroline sauntered over to them, looking smug as all hell even with that ridiculous scarf around her neck. I’m all for a fashion statement, but at cheer practice?
“I got the other brother.” She said to Elena. Well, that explained some of it. Grace knew about Caroline’s deeply buried resentment of Elena, and the fact that never dealt with it or addressed it — she didn’t need to be an Empath to know that, because Caroline had told her. But even if she hadn’t, Grace could practically smell it radiating off of Caroline, she was so upset. “Hope you don’t mind.” Clearly not true. “Sorry I’m late, girls.” She addressed the whole squad this time. “I, uh, was busy.” That little smirk at the corner of her mouth let Grace know that she wasn’t completely wrong about Caroline’s activities the previous night. “All right, let’s start with the double pike herkey hurdler, what do you say?” The girls quickly formed lines, never willing to risk Caroline’s drill-sergeant-esque wrath, and Caroline began counting. Grace, who was behind Elena, could see the younger girl struggling with the maneuver and wondered if Caroline had chosen it on purpose. “Elena, sweetie, why don’t you just observe today? Okay?” It was never a good thing when Caroline used the word “sweetie," and smoke was practically coming out of Elena’s ears. “Keep going! Okay. Do it again, from the top! And 5…” as she went back to counting beats, Grace and Bonnie threw Elena as many commiserative looks as they could. But Elena’s attention had been drawn to the football field, where Stefan Salvatore himself was running plays. The girls watched as Tyler rammed into Stefan, all his weight behind it, and they went down.
“…Gonna live, Salvatore?” Coach Tanner called to the boy, still prone on the grass. Grace could fucking feel Tyler’s emotions from across the field, he was so worked up; he was pissed that some new guy was climbing the popularity ladder so fast, and though a part of him truly did hate Stefan for Matt’s sake, mostly he was jealous himself. It was moments like this when Grace remembered why she hated Tyler so much. The douchebag is using Matt as an excuse to deal with his Alpha Male Complex. Maybe next he’ll pee all over the school like a dog, just to mark his territory.
Stefan got up, and the boys huddled up again; Grace turned her focus back to Caroline’s instructions.
Grace was not looking forward to the football game. Between Caroline’s pettiness being at peak capacity, Elena’s patience at an all-time low, and Bonnie still refusing to come around and give Stefan a chance, Grace figured every moment spent not cheering would be in mediation. As soon as she arrived, she made it her mission to finally talk about the ‘Bonnie’s psychic’ text that had been hovering around her mind all day. Along the way, she ran into Elena, who had apparently quit the squad, and Stefan, who had apparently joined the football team — not quite the stereotypical couple she’d imagined earlier, but whatever.
Finally managing to locate Bonnie, Grace dove straight into what she’d been itching to ask all day.
“So, Bonnie. Psychic?” Bonnie scoffed and rolled her eyes.
“You know how my Grams will get drunk and then start telling me all these stories about magic and fairies and everything…”
“Yeah, I’ve experienced it a time or two.” Perhaps because Sheila knew Grace herself was a witch, she had even less of a filter when Grace was around.
“Well, the other day she starts going on about how I’m psychic.” As Bonnie explained Sheila Bennett’s drunken rambles, Grace realized what Bonnie had yet to put together. Her Grams was telling the truth – Bonnie was a witch. A powerful one, judging by her lineage and psychic abilities — not as strong as Grace’s, but present enough to mean Bonnie’s powers were likely almost unparalleled. “… I mean its crazy, right?” Bonnie was laughing, but there was the smallest part of her that was starting to think maybe it wasn’t so crazy after all.
“Yeah, maybe.” Grace didn’t think it was quite time to reveal herself to Bonnie, but she didn’t want to be unsupportive either. “But, I mean, I totally predicted the end of that movie the other day, so maybe Grams is on to something.”
“Guys, hello?” Caroline had found them. “Are you going to cheer, or are you going to chat?” The two girls rolled their eyes.
“Good to see you, too, Care Bear.” Caroline ignored them, instead using that freaky talent of hers to hone in on the slightest of imperfections.
“Hey, Tiki, it’s all wobbly. Can you stand straight, please? Could someone please help Tiki?”
Grace had her arms wrapped around Matt, despite his protests that he was fine.
“You’re not fine, you dumbass. You just found your teacher and coach…” She didn’t want to say it out loud. “You’re the one who found him, okay? Don’t pretend that didn’t suck.” They were standing by his stupid truck, the light from the ambulance and police cars throwing strange red and blue shadows over everything. The cab door was open, as Grace had bodily slammed into Matt’s back as he made to get inside and clung to him like a monkey.
“Yeah, Gracie, it sucked.” He sighed. “What kind of animal would do something like this?” Caroline’s mom had made the announcement not long ago – Coach Tanner was the victim of another animal attack, this time right in town. Grace shrugged.
“A starving one, I guess.” But Tanner hadn’t been eaten. Just attacked. Like the others. Matt rubbed his hand down Grace’s back as if he were the one comforting her.
“C’mon, Gracie. I’ll drive you home. You can get your car tomorrow.” He walked her around to the passenger’s side, the door of which sometimes stuck shut, and helped her climb up before finally getting in himself. The air conditioning rattled, a comforting, familiar sound in the silence. Grace toed off her white Nfinities, flexing her aching feet. She’d been an idiot in practice last week and fucked up her ankle during a particularly poorly executed scorpion stunt. She’d wrapped it in elastic wrap her mother had spelled with healing charms before the game, but it was no miracle cure. Matt must have noticed her grimace, because he glanced at her with a disapproving big brother look, despite being a year younger than her.
“How many times have I told you to keep your legs straight?”
“Well, look at you, Mr. Cheerleading Expert.” Grace mocked him, not wanting to admit that he had told her that countless times. After nearly 7 years of watching (and sometimes unwillingly participating) in backyard cheer practice, Matt was somewhat knowledgeable in the sport. Knowledgeable enough to know a stunt will fall if the flyer can’t keep her fucking legs straight, anyway. “Don’t worry, Caroline already tore me a new one.” Damn, had she ever. The moment Grace went down, she’d felt Caroline’s hawk-like gaze on her, even through the bodies of her bases. ‘Stop giving me excuses, Sinclair. It’s been four months! Get it together.’ Elena had been in Grace’s stunt group when her parents were killed, which left the foursome someone bereft of a base when she quit. Caroline had frantically rearranged but getting used to a new base was always an adjustment. Selfishly, Grace was just glad none of this had happened when she was captain.
“Yeah, well Caroline can be a nutcase but this time she’s kind of right.” Grace could feel herself getting defensive, even though he was once again correct, but didn’t want to say something that might stall the effectively distracting conversation. Matt might pretend to be blasé, but Grace was calling bullshit.
“Yeah, I get it mom, I need to be more careful.” By this time, they’d reached Matt’s house and, despite Grace living literally fifteen feet away, Matt drove past his own driveway and pulled into hers. “Seriously, dude?” She raised an eyebrow at him.
“I’m a gentleman,” Matt smirked, “sue me.” Rolling her eyes affectionately, Grace moved to unbuckle her seatbelt when she noticed Matt staring toward her house with a strange look on his face. She’d seen that look before. She waited for him to break the sudden silence, but he was lost in thought.
“Matt?” She prompted quietly. She knew what he was going to say, and if talking about it was going to keep his mind off Tanner’s mangled body a little longer, then she’d talk about it.
“It feels weird.” That’s specific. “Looking at… this.” He gestured vaguely towards her house, then back towards his. “I mean… yours is so…”
“Big?” It wasn’t really, not for a family of five — it was actually a completely average house in every way. Two floors, four bedrooms — well, three bedrooms and a converted office — two bathrooms. But next to Matt’s she supposed, it did look a bit extravagant.
“And your car is so…” Again, he trailed off, searching for a nice way to call her spoiled. She didn’t take offense.
“Fancy?” She did drive an Audi - cherry red and the love of her life — but (here comes the justification, she nearly cringed) her father had wanted an Audi for years. By the time they’d saved up enough, they had three little kids and it was impractical. So they kept the savings set aside and when Grace turned 16, her dad finally got his dream car… for her. ‘If you so much as scratch the paint, this car is mine,' her father had warned. Chloe, much to her disappointment, had gotten a Honda as her first car. It was a perfectly good car, but certainly not an Audi. Matt sighed and gave her a sheepish look.
“I’m sorry. I just look at the difference between the two… who knew one yard could feel like such a big divide?” It wasn’t like Matt lived in the “bad part of town” and Grace’s house happened to be the closest. His house should have been perfectly normal, just like hers. But his mother wasn’t the best with finances… Or upkeep… Or mothering. She hated that her family’s good fortune made Matt feel so inferior.
“Well, if anyone can bridge that divide, Donovan… it’s you.” Matt would almost certainly settle quite happily into the small town life, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be a better small town life. He smiled at her, shaking off the seriousness.
“Well, it certainly won’t be the girl who can’t even keep her legs straight.” She punched him, both of them laughing. She gathered her shoes and bag and jumped down onto the still-warm asphalt.
“Goodnight, Donovan.” She called, circling around to his side of the truck. “But seriously. If you’re ever not fine…” she paused, searching for a way to end that statement that didn’t sound too smothering. “Well, you know where I live.” He smiled at her, backing out and pulling into his own car port, before waving goodnight as the side door into the kitchen slammed behind him. Making her way inside, Grace was nearly tackled to the ground by her sister, and she suddenly knew what Matt must have felt like when she leapt on him at his truck.
“Oh my God, Gracie, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Aims. I wasn’t…” I wasn’t there. But she was there, was just around the corner when a wild animal viciously attacked a man she knew. “I didn’t even…” I didn’t even see the body. But she had, just before the coroner draped a white sheet over her old history teacher and loaded him into a van headed to the morgue. “Matt found him.” Matt had it worse. That’s what she meant. She wasn’t fine, but Matt had it so much worse, so how could she admit that? Maybe that’s what Matt himself had felt, in some form.
“Oh my God, that’s awful.” Her sisters weren’t at the game, thank God, as Chloe had dance rehearsal and Aimee a date. All of their knowledge was second-hand and incomplete, which possibly made their worry worse. Or would, when rehearsal was over, and Chloe checked her phone to undoubtedly find dozens of messages ranging from factual to wild rumor. “Was it really a bear?” Grace snorted. She had no idea what kind of animal had attacked Tanner, but whatever story Aimee had heard probably involved some hulking Goliath of a grizzly storming onto the football field and biting the coach in two.
“I have no idea, Aims. No one saw anything.” So it was probably not a bear. Something stealthier, like a cougar. “Have you spoken to mom and dad?” Their parents were also out on a rare date night and Grace wasn’t sure if the news had reached them yet. If so, they were likely speeding their way home at this moment. But Grace’s younger sister shook her head.
“I don’t think they’ve heard yet. I didn’t want to spoil date night and tell them.”
“What about your date? I’m sorry it was cut short.” It was Aimee’s turn to snort, sounding just like Grace.
“I’m not. He spent the entire time bouncing between checking his phone and his reflection.”
“Yikes.” Grace knew her sister’s pain. “I guess maybe one good thing came out of this evening then, yeah?” Aimee worried her lip, something clearly on her mind. “What’s up, Aims?”
“I just… all these animal attacks… do you know of anything that could help?”
“What, like hunting the thing down?”
“No, doofus. Magically. Are there… protection spells or talismans or something, so I don’t have to constantly worry about you and Chloe and mom and dad?” As the only non-witch in the family — though their father practiced very rarely – Aimee’s knowledge of magic had limitations.
“Um, sure. Probably. But I’ve already got my jet.” To illustrate the point, Grace held her hands out her sister, the black rings sparkling on her fingers. She wasn’t technically supposed to wear much jewelry while cheering, but the thumb ring was inconspicuous and unlikely to cause problems. It was also a security blanket of sorts. The other one, the one she’d bought for herself only a few years ago, she took off right before cheering and put on again immediately after.
“Yeah, I don’t know if Chloe’s into the whole black-jewelry thing.” If Grace was into it, then Chloe likely wasn’t, more out of conscious decision than personal preference, but it didn’t matter. There were other alternatives. Grace sat at the dining room table, sliding her mother’s grimoire to her sister.
“Pick your favorite, then.”
Grace completely fucking forgot about the Founder’s Party. Like, literally, would not have remembered to go if her mom and sisters didn’t scream at her to ‘go get ready because your date is picking you up in an hour’. Actually, they walked into Matt’s house, uninvited — where she had been celebrating the news that the culprit of all the animal attacks had been killed (a cougar, like she thought) — and marched her back home.
When Jeffrey Lockwood-Hamilton had approached her and asked her to go to the Founder’s Party with him, quote ‘because it’s going to be so boring and you might actually make it bearable,' she’d been flattered, if confused. It wasn’t that she and Jeffrey were unfriendly, but they didn’t associate much, what with him being two years younger. Grace supposed that, the times they had hung out had been at other excruciatingly dull parties such as the Miss Mystic pageant, which Caroline required Grace to go to every year for ‘moral support’. They’d entertained each other while their respective ‘dates’ had been occupied, so she supposed it had become somewhat of an unspoken tradition that she and Jeff would hang out at parties.
So, here she was, digging her red party dress out from the closet and wincing as Chloe none-too-gently twisted her hair into an updo. The dress was pretty, standard, just passed the knees with a simple, straight silhouette and thin straps. She threw on some strappy sandals and grabbed a purse right as Jeff rang the bell.
“Ready to have some fun?” He asked sarcastically by way of greeting.
“Cheer up, Jeff.” Grace coaxed. “There’s always champagne.”
When they arrived, Grace immediately spotted a potential problem: Damon Salvatore, looking unfairly handsome in his dark suit, was on Caroline’s arm, and they were chatting with Elena and Stefan. Caroline was still sporting that weird-ass scarf.
“I’m about to be super fucking tacky, Jeff, and leave you alone for a few minutes.” Grace grimaced as she made her excuse. Jeff laughed.
“You’re fine, Grace. Go say hey. Bring me back a glass or two of champagne if you can sneak it past my mom.” He nodded to the corner, where his mother had one eye on the heritage display and one on her son.
“Sure thing.” As Grace approached, Caroline began dragging a wary Stefan onto the dance floor before spotting the older girl.
“Gracie, you’re here!”
“I am! And you’re with Stefan.” It was a question phrased as a statement.
“Damon won’t dance with me,” Caroline pouted, “but apparently Stefan is quite talented.” He looked like he would rather be anywhere else.
“Well, he’ll have to be to keep up with you, Miss Mystic.” Caroline beamed at the reminder of her potential title and the compliment.
“Why don’t we find out?” Stefan suggested, motioning Caroline forward. That was clearly code for “let’s get this over with,” but Care either didn’t notice or didn’t mind. Grace continued forward to Damon and Elena, who were studying the heritage displays.
“…I just… I hope you two can work it out.” Elena was saying, in her “Elena voice”.
“I hope so, too.” Damon’s tone rang of double entendre, but Grace dismissed it and made her presence known.
“Founding Families, huh?” She asked, looking over the document they were in front of. “Riveting.”
“You make fun, but you New Orleans-folks have your traditions too.” Elena poked fun right back at Grace, the age-old debate familiar and affectionate. Damon turned to her.
“You’re from New Orleans?”
“I am. I’m Grace.” Knowing he was Stefan’s brother, Grace was beyond reluctant to shake his hand and experience that same slimy emptiness, but it would be extremely rude not to.
“Damon.” He extended his arm and Grace placed her small hand in his, hoping she didn’t look as apprehensive as she felt. His hand was warm, but his soul was cold. Cold and dead, like Stefan’s, but there was something else… a warmth not from life or love, but bitterness and hate and malice all festering inside of him. There’s more than this to him. The Damon she had seen in her vision, the one she had been friends with — closer even than her and Stefan would become, judging from the emotions in her vision — was not this embittered, cancerous thing currently in front of her. So, she pushed deeper and deeper, shoving her way past all the black and bad, until finally, finally, there was something else. Something surprising. Insecurity and… longing. Love, or… something he thought was love. Something that maybe used to be love but was now merely the impression of it. Intelligence still glimmered in every corner of this part of his soul, but it wasn’t the cold cunning of before. It was hard won, a lifetime’s worth — several lifetimes worth — of mistakes and knowledge and experience. This was the Damon she would come to know, someone broken but too proud to show it, who used acerbic humor as both a defense mechanism and a show of support for those few he cared for. Suddenly becoming aware that this handshake was starting to become too long to be normal, she pulled her hand away as he looked her over, assessing. Too deep. She’d pushed her powers too far, had already reached her limit and was practically exhausted and out of breath, like she’d been running. She tried to covertly catch her breath, hoping Damon and Elena didn’t notice.
“Have you been? To New Orleans, I mean.”
“I lived there. Once.”
“Really?” Grace’s eyes widened. It wasn’t often she met other people who’d experienced the magic of New Orleans, let alone lived there. “Do you miss it? I know I do.” He smiled a touch nostalgically.
“Well, it was a long time ago.” There was something in his voice as he said "long time,” the same thing that had been in Stefan’s as he said the same words about playing football. Something that implied more. “But it was a hell of a lot fun.” Grace gave him a once-over.
“You know, Damon, I think you and I are going to get along just fine.” Damon’s eyes gleamed with something even she couldn’t quite place.
“I look forward to it, Grace.”
As Damon and Elena headed off toward the dance floor and their respective dates, Grace noticed Bonnie sitting at a table by herself. She knew that she was ignoring Jeff, but she hadn’t spoken to Bonnie all day, and she had the rest of the party to hover by his side. She made her way over, but when she was a few feet away, the breeze blew out the candle sitting as the centerpiece on the table. Bonnie turned her head, focusing her attention on the candle.
Grace stumbled, nearly fell over. Bonnie started, blowing the candle out and glancing around to make sure no one saw. From this short distance away, Grace could feel Bonnie’s budding realization that her Gram’s drunken rambles were true, her fear and confusion, her paranoia and loneliness. And Grace couldn’t let Bonnie believe she was alone in this. So, she righted herself, marched over to her friend, and grabbed her arm. Bonnie looked up at her, obviously scared she had witnessed the candle incident.
“I think we need to talk.” Grace pulled her friend out of her chair and away from bustle of the party. “There’s some things you need to hear.”
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[transcr. interview / Yilin and Yaling / concerning the marriage of Yilin, 3rd week following Indra’s ascension to the throne of Ruler of the Five Realms]
[thank you @hws-gods-chinas for the lineart and also Yilin and Yaling !!]
Adéla: Good morning, Yilin.
Yilin: Oh, uh, good morning, Adéla.
[5 minute silent pause]
Adéla: [pinches the bridge of her nose] Shiv willing, this will be quick— so you’re married?
Yilin: Oh, yeah! I just got married like a day ago. How’d you, uh, know?
Adéla: It’s quite literally my job to know. Congratulations, by the way.
Yilin: [widens eyes, looks down, looks back up again] Thanks!
Adéla: And how did this come about?
Yilin: The marriage?
Yilin: Oh! So, uh, I saw Jaroslav, my husband right now, out in the rice field by my temple. The rice terraces under the temple further to the south specifically. He was eating raw grains off the plants? I was just about to get someone to help him when he waved over to me with a hand of raw rice. He smiled— I think with a mouthful of rice? I waved back since, it, it caught me off guard that a person could see me, y’know, since I don’t really present myself to humans. We got to talking; we got along really well! He’s really cool! He’s been everywhere too! Then we were married after, I believe, four days?
Adéla: Four days… Alright. Enlightened, since he could see you?
Yilin: Yeah, I’m pretty sure.
Adéla: Wow. Four days. Alright.
Yilin: Oh, is it— we can’t marry?
Adéla: [rests her head in her hands] No, it’s— we can. We can.
Yilin: Is it bad to get married in four days? Is that not allowed?
Adéla: No, it’s allowed. It’s— it’s fine. Your marriage is legitimate.
Yilin: Oh, that’s— that’s good to hear. I thought maybe it was, like, banned or something for a second.
Adéla: A human and a god feels a little impractical, but— again, it’s not— illegal, or anything.
Yilin: [sighs in relief] Thanks. Do you... do you need anything else? Do you need Jaroslav to come in? He’s at my temple right now.
Adéla: No. No, no that’s not— that won’t be necessary. Humans have no place in the library, for the most part.
Yilin: Oh, okay.
Adéla: [sighs loudly, burying her head further into her hands] Have a good day, Yilin. You don’t need to be shown out, right? You remember the way you came from?
Yilin: Oh, no, I don’t— I’ll be okay. Are you alright?
Adéla: [her head still sits in her hands] Yes. Have a good day.
Yilin: [leaving] You too!
[10 min break, spent with Adéla massaging her temples.]
Yaling: [knocks on door, peering in] Hey, caught Yilin on the way out; you said you needed me for an interview?
Adéla: [sits up, looking up from her desk] Mhm. You’re a mentor to Yilin, correct?
Yaling: Yes, I am. Why?
Adéla: I need a record of your opinion on his marriage.
Yaling: A record of my opinion on Yilin’s marriage for the library?
Adéla: I don’t really— see it necessary, but this would be considered lore of the gods. Unfortunately.
Yaling: It’s a little nosy.
Adéla: Believe me, I agree— unfortunately, the protocol isn’t my own.
Yaling: It’s something to take up with Indra later I suppose.
Adéla: [she hums a confirmation] It was— before Shiv appointed me, this library was in complete ruin— that’s neither here nor there. Again, this really only should take a few minutes.
Yaling: I remember those times. You’ve done an incredible job. But, so, my opinion on Yilin’s marriage?
Yaling: It’s strange, definitely. I had found out from Yilin day-of. He contacted me, saying something about how he had gotten married to a human. I asked him why, but he only talked of how well he got along with the human. I think his name— Jaroslav? I don’t know, really. It’s not my business.
Adéla: Yes. Yeah, that— would be him.
Yaling: Good for him. I told Yilin it wasn’t sensible to get married to a human, whether or not they were enlightened. It’s a little unrealistic, don’t you think?
Adéla: Yes! Incredibly unrealistic. Said human is also a wanderer who doesn’t follow any of the gods’ teachings. It’s a whim decision! I— I hardly believed it when I heard it, to be honest.
Yaling: A wanderer? I heard he was a traveller, but I believed an enlightened human would at least have some direction in mind.
Adéla: Enlightened enough to eat raw rice out of Yilin’s fields. He can call himself a traveller, but in the end a traveller with no sense of navigation is just a wanderer. I actually— hold on— this isn’t his first misstep of this extreme either. [she pulls a book from in between a stack on her desk, almost knocking over the pile]
Yaling: [raises an eyebrow] Of this extreme? Has he been unseemly with other gods? Married before?
Adéla: No, no, he— he visited Chun’s shrine’s garden, unannounced, and tripped over several of the small statues, and didn’t so much as apologize when Chun himself faced him. There’s other things too. He’s responsible for when the Harvest came a day late last autumn, because he stalled Raccolto’s travel with meaningless chatter.
Yaling: And no one has done anything about him? What else could there be?
Adéla: There’s— he’s— alright. Yaling, you know that I’m not a particularly proud Goddess. I don’t have many followers, and I have more important matters to attend to. But he’s been looking for shrines, followers of mine, statues, anything— for almost a year and a half now, running around trying to corner me, personally, about his own family troubles. And people just humor him for whatever reason!
Yaling: I understand you’ve been harassed, but if no one is willing to deal with him, and he will not cease, you are the only person unfortunately that will be able to put any sense into his head. He has been doing whatever he can for as long as it takes a child to learn to run. However, because you are the person he’s after, you know best on how to approach him.
Adéla: [drops her head in her hands again, exhaling slowly] Probably. Probably— considering that the others are nothing but amused with his antics. ...Ugh.
Yaling: [reaches out with a hand, gently touching one of Adéla’s hands] Are you free whenever you get off? We could go anywhere away from here.
Adéla: I’m free now, actually. Right now. This interview has definitely been— it was sufficient. I can put this away later.
Yaling: [stands up] Let’s get going then.
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partners in crime (loki x reader) part 5: we’re totally not flirting
(not my gif)
pairing: loki x reader
word count: 2032
warnings: sass for days
A/N: GUYS THIS IS PROBABLY MY FAVORITE CHAPTER I’VE EVER WRITTEN I REALLY HOPE YOU LIKE IT
There are a couple of reasons why I like Stark’s jets, the first being that the interior is so roomy and spread out that you don’t have to worry about invading people’s personal space. Or starting awkward conversations because you’re so close to the other person.
The plane ride to Paris is pretty chill. The team is spread all over the cabin, some sleeping, others listening to music. Sam and Bucky are in a particularly heated game of cards; I can hear them cussing at each other under their breaths. I have a soothing playlist playing on Spotify to calm my nerves, eyes closed, trying to just relax before things get hectic.
Key word: trying.
Out of the countless other vacant seats on Stark’s luxury jet, my partner, the greasy rat that goes by “Loki,” decides to take a seat next to me. Like, right next to me. He has officially crossed the “invasion of space” line that I set between myself and other people. He’s not touching me exactly, but I can just feel his presence around me, like a stench on a heaping pile of garbage. He’s quite like a cat, I think, the way he sits quietly, not moving a muscle, but just staring at you with these eyes that are practically begging you for attention.
I’ve managed to ignore him for most of the ride but he begins to get fidgety. He starts pushing buttons, anything and everything he can find, like he’s a five year old. The seat reclines with an automated hum, back and forth. He lifts up the retractable table attached to the seat, pushing it in and out, tapping his fingers on it in a repetitive beat. He even tries messing with the A/C control above us, but I finally whisper, “Don’t,” catching his arm with my hand.
His eyes twinkle, and he sets his arm back down. “Sorry, am I bothering you?”
The little shit. “No, not at all, Your Majesty,” I retort, rolling my eyes. “But I think you’ve missed a button.”
“Where?” he looks around, excited for something more to annoy me with.
“False alarm,” I say. “I think you’ve pushed every single fucking button there is to push. Including mine.”
“Apologies, my fair one,” he says innocently, sitting up straight and folding his hands in his lap. “I didn’t realize I was bothering you.”
“Mmhm, okay,” I say. “I’m trying to get some sleep before the mission, so if you could just…” I mime zipping my lips shut.
He nods. “Of course.”
“Thanks.” I wait a minute before closing my eyes, a bit suspicious at his immediate cooperation. I close my eyes, trying to get lost in the classical music spilling through my earbuds. Relax.
All is silent outside. I wait a minute. Then two. Nothing.
Surprised that he actually respected my conditions, I finally let my tense muscles relax. Maybe this won’t be as bad as I thought.
A minute. Two more.
Five minutes. Silence.
My brain is foggy, clouded with sleep. I stir a bit, then go back.
Another tap. I tear my earbuds out, sitting up. The light is bright in my eyes, almost as bright as Loki’s shit-eating grin.
“Something wrong, dear?” he purrs, crossing his legs as the seat whrrrs again.
“Loki, would it kill you if I pushed you out of this plane?”
He pretends to be shocked. “Now whyever would you do that?” That familiar darkness is in his eyes, that mischievous glint.
His face looks particularly punchable in this light. “No--” whrrr, “--reason.”
“Are you sure?” he drawls, not breaking eye-contact.
I stare at him back, dead in the piercing blue eyes. “Yes.”
“I see.” His gaze is strong. I can feel him reading me, seeing my aggression, my annoyance. Reading me like a book. “Well, I suppose falling from thirty-thousand feet in the sky would be quite… exciting, but no. It would not kill me.”
“Bummer.” I sigh dramatically.
“So eager to get rid of me?” he says. “The fun hasn’t even begun yet!”
“Oh, I’m sure it has. For you.”
“Is that so? You’re not wrong, I suppose. But there is much in store later tonight. We’ll have so much fun.”
“Without context, that would sound really creepy. Like alone-in-an-alley-with-a-drunk-hobo creepy.”
“I am the drunk hobo?” He sounds amused.
I can’t help but laugh just a little, the way he said that, like it’s shocking he would ever come across as creepy. “Yeah. Sure. You’ve already got the hair for it.”
He cracks a grin and takes his finger off the button on his seat. Then he kicks his feet up on the small round table between us, the one that food and drink are supposed to go on. I glance at his feet, then him, who is smiling straight at me. He wants me to say something. He wants to get me riled up. That’s how he gets his fun.
“Do they normally put dirty footwear on dining tables where you come from?” I can’t help but ask. It’s the way he lounges while he does it, looking so pleased with himself. Like he’s the best guy around.
“My manners are the best I have,” he protests, still not removing his feet. Since the space between his seat and mine is not very much, his feet are practically in my lap.
“Strange,” I say, “coming from someone who grew up in a palace.”
He shrugs, like it’s no big deal. “I wasn’t very popular around there, anyway. I could probably get away with doing this and nobody would care.”
“Rough childhood?” I ask, only because there was something deep buried in his eyes that didn’t quite match up with the rest of his careless, confident demeanor. An ancient battle inside of him, still raging on.
“Something like that,” he says indifferently. “It’s not something I bring up very much. Something about being lied to and cast out by your family tends to leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth.”
The humor is gone from the atmosphere, and it was sort of weird to see how quickly things changed with him. One minute he was causing mischief, taking pleasure in annoying me, and the next he has almost folded in upon himself, stuck in a time warp from the past.
I’m not sure what compels me, but I say, “Sorry.”
He looks at me, shocked, his face hardened slightly. “What for?”
“I didn’t mean to bring up your past,” I reply. “I didn’t realize--”
“Stop that,” he breaks in. I shut my mouth abruptly. “Never mind. Things are different now.”
I nod, unsure if I should say something else. I have to admit, comforting is not my specialty.
There is a slightly uncomfortable silence between us now, and I still feel kind of bad. Had I known that his childhood was difficult, I never would have brought it up. Now it kind of feels like my fault.
“Hey, Loki,” I call to him, breaking the tense silence.
He raises his head. “Hm?”
“Why did the scarecrow win an award?”
His brows furrow. “I beg your pardon?”
“I said, ‘Why did the scarecrow win an award?’” God, I’m such a child. But if there’s one thing I’ve picked up from serving my time as an Avenger, it’s that horribly corny jokes will undoubtedly lighten the mood when things get tense.
“I… I don’t know. Is this a trick?”
“Perhaps,” I indulge, giving him a sly look. “Do you want to know the answer?”
“Sure.” He looks confused. “I guess.”
I wave jazz-hands. “Because he was outstanding in his field!”
Metaphorical crickets buzz. I wiggle my hands again, trying to add to the moment.
He is silent for a minute, mulling it over. It’s like he’s trying to decide if he wants to laugh or shrug it off because it’s so stupid, trying to figure out if he wants to let go of his steely attitude for the joke. Look, the best thing about corny jokes is that they are so flawlessly stupid that you just have to laugh. They can change a person. I’d like to say they’re my defense mechanism, but… that’s kind of sad.
I see his eyes clear. A smile, not quite like the one before--perhaps a little brighter-- creeps upon his face.
“I like that,” he laughs lightly. “How childishly irritating, yet effortlessly humorous.”
“Why, thank you.” I feel better about the situation, knowing that somehow, somehow, I was able to make the notorious Loki Odinson brighten.
“Tell me another one,” he demands.
“Didn’t peg you as the corny joke type,” I remark. “Not that it’s a bad thing, obviously. But it just doesn’t seem like you.”
“You talk like you actually know me,” Loki challenges, running his hands through his dark hair. “To be fair, I believe this is our, what, second conversation?”
“So you really like my stupid jokes?” I ask, partially surprised.
He holds up his hands, defensive. “Now, now, I wouldn’t say that--”
“Oh, shut up,” I laugh. “I know you do like them. And forgive me for not knowing your sense of humor, Your Highness, considering the fact that I’ve never met you before because you’re always isolated from everyone else.”
“I’m unsure if that was intended to be sarcastic or serious, but I accept your apology.”
“Thanks, Greasy,” I joke.
His eyes sharpen playfully. “What did you just call me?”
I inspect my nails. “Hm?”
“You--” He just grins instead of finishing his sentence, and finally removes his feet from the table.
“Oh thank goodness,” I remark at the free table space. “The soles of your shoes are dirty. It’s ruining my look.”
“I am offended. I didn’t just wake up like this, you know.”
“Okay fine. What do you call your--” he makes air quotes, “--look.”
I scowl at him, but it doesn’t work because I know that I look horrible right now and I end up laughing it off. “It’s a little something I like to call ‘Haven’t showered in two days and stressing over the weight of life’s problems.’ You like?”
He’s nodding along supportively. “A look I also sport frequently as well. Although I think I pull it off better than you. No offense.”
“Bullshit. You probably use magic or something to make yourself look all godly every morning. Unrelatable.”
He begins to say something, but stops himself, realizing that I am right. He slouches in his chair, sullen.
“Hit too close to home?” I taunt jokingly.
“You’re lucky I’m in a relatively good mood today,” Loki sulks, “or you would have been a pile of ashes on the carpet by now.”
“Scary.” I lean over the seat and pull out a magazine, skimming through it.
Loki is sitting upright now. “Is that a challenge?”
Oh, god. I’ve provoked him.
I raise my eyes over the magazine. “Do you want it to be? Cause I’ll warn you right now, you won’t like me when I’m feeling stabby.”
Loki narrows his eyes at me and I reciprocate the action, glaring at him competitively.
“Yo, will you guys stop flirting back there?” Sam complains from the seats near us. “I’m trying to take a snooze before we arrive.”
Loki turns around to Sam who is covered in a green blanket. Bucky is already passed out, snoring like a motorcycle engine. “Flirting?!” Loki declares indignantly.
I flip Sam off, but he just smirks and pulls his cap over his eyes. Loki huffs, crossing his arms.
“You Midgardians are so petulant,” he grumbles.
“Most of us, yeah.” I dig a sweatshirt from my bag and put it on, snuggling into the fabric. We still have a few hours until landing, and I plan on using every minute. “But there are a few good ones too. You just have to look.” I swing my legs over the seat next to me, put my earbuds back in, and close my eyes.
Loki mumbles something under his breath. I drift off, the lull of the jet and the reasonably good spirits from my conversation with Loki settling my nerves.
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survey by pichu4850
What color do you think of when I say...
Yellow. Or just bright colors, perhaps.
Like that nausea green.
Shades of blue. I think of the ocean and the sky and mountains.
Yellow, orange, pink.
Would you rather be named...
Andrea or Aimee?
Emily or Erica?
Kelsey or Casey?
Madeleine or Marina?
Alec or Aaron?
Ryan or Ross?
Dylan or Daniel?
Jack or Jordan?
Gabriel or Gavin?
How often do you...
Brush your teeth?
At least once a day.
Not everyday, it varies.
Check your email?
Go to the mall?
I haven’t been to the mall in over a year now. Even prior to the pandemic, I went like once a year for the past few years. Before that, I was going at least once a month with friends back when I had a social life and friends.
Go to the beach?
I usually go a few times during the summer, but I didn’t go last year for obvious reasons and I’m not sure about this year either. I really need a beach trip, though...
Play card games?
Not often. It’s been awhile.
Have at least 20 minute phone calls?
I don’t talk on the phone often and when I do they last for like a few minutes.
Paint your nails?
It’s been a few years since I’ve painted them.
Wish you were happier?
I wish I was happy, period. I’ve been so damn depressed for so long.
Did you ever want to be...
Nooo. The idea of outer space terrifies me.
I’ve never wanted to be one, but I’ve always wished I had artistic abilities.
A school teacher?
Yeah, when I was a kid. I loved playing school.
No. I am definitely not cut out for that.
No, I couldn’t handle anything in the medical field.
Would you consider yourself...
According to Google, a materialistic person is someone who is only concerned about what they have and what they want to get, and is obsessed with money and expensive items. I wouldn’t consider myself that type of person at all. I like nice things, sure, like my MacBook, my iPhone, and Beats, I don’t think it’s bad to enjoy things like that, but they don’t consume me. They’re nice bonuses and I’m grateful to have them.
No, definitely not.
I probably am.
I don’t believe in luck.
In the next twenty-four hours, will you...
Talk to someone you care about?
Go to work?
Nope. I don’t have a job.
Go to school?
Nope. I’m not in school anymore.
Be in a different city?
Read a book?
Watch a movie?
Go to a dentist/orthodontist appointment?
Do your laundry?
No, mine just got done yesterday.
True or False: Family...
I have two brothers or more.
True. I have two.
My mom lives with me.
My grandparent(s) live with me.
I have half-siblings.
True. My older brother is my half-sibling, but we’ve never referred to each other as such.
I am the oldest in my family.
False. I’m the middle kid.
I am an only child.
I have 15 cousins I can name off the top of my head.
True. I have a lot of cousins.
The nearest Aunt or Uncle lives less than an hour away from me.
True or False: Food...
I am allergic to chocolate.
I like vegetables more than fruit.
I have tried pizza dipped in ranch sauce.
True. I always eat my pizza with ranch.
I've never eaten kiwi fruit.
I love junk food.
I love to try new food.
False. I’m too picky and particular and basic.
Ketchup goes best with fries (chips).
Falseeee. Ranch is the only way.
I like fried rice.
I can prepare dinner for myself (using a stove or oven).
True. Just ramen or convenient frozen meals I can cook in the oven or microwave haha but still.
I hate sushi.
Pairs of shoes do you have?
Like 6 or 7.
Songs do you have on your music player?
I use Spotify on my phone for music and I’m not sure how many songs on my main playlist.
Hours of sleep did you get last night?
Times have you had alcohol?
Books have you read/started reading in the past month?
Windows in your house/apartment are open?
Pets do you have?
Kids do you have/want to have?
Minutes does it take to get from your home to school or work?
I don’t have a job and I’m done with school.
Have you ever...
Spilled a cup of grape juice on the carpet?
Not grape specifically, but a colored juice.
Played spin the bottle?
Been caught doing something you weren't supposed to be doing?
Walked out of a movie because it was horrible?
Only once. I forget what movie it was, though.
Given the finger to someone on the street?
Been so sad/angry that you started laughing?
Yeah, but not because anything was funny. I had just lost it at that point.
Been in a wedding?
Been in a situation where you almost died?
Are you stressing out about anything right now?
Yeah, over health related things.
Do you think before acting or act before thinking?
More think before acting.
Do you act upon your emotions and instinct, or logic and reasoning?
Both, but these past few years my emotions have really taken charge.
What are some personality traits you find appealing in a potential partner?
Someone patient, understanding, caring, good sense of humor...
How have you changed as a person in the last 5 years?
Most definitely and not in a good way.
If you could do anything you wanted right this moment, what would it be?
I’m doing what I want to be doing right now.
Is there anyone you can totally relax and be yourself around?
Yeah, around my family. They see me at my very worst and unflattering. Lucky them, ha.
Did you ever wanted to say something to someone, didn't, and regretted it?
Are you scared about the future?
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An Annotated List of Men’s Tinder Profiles part 11
1. My sense of humor is like 90% cocoa Ghiradelli chocolate: For the life of me, I cannot track this metaphor
2. Change bios like I change drawls: I know this is a typo but I love this idea that this guy is constantly changing up his accent.
3. Dance with girls. Wrestle with guys.: Is this a demand? A suggestion? A description?
4. Two legs two arms. Proportional.: This is…not a very informative profile.
5. Full name: Shelz.: It is not, you liar.
6. I ain’t cute but I’m not ugly either. Idk what I am. I’m funny though…and I got $40.:…Congratulations?
7. All you women are out of my league so I’m banking on an injury so I can be called up.: In this scenario, who has to get injured? Me or, like, a bunch of dudes?
8. Me, a rabbit, and a panda: cuddle one, hug one, kiss one?: This is an unbearably cutesy question. Anyway, lemme kiss that panda.
9. Snap: justaslave4u add me it’s a stupid username I know but it’s a reference to my past, feel free to ask: 1) You know you can change usernames, right? 2) were you previously Britney Spears?
10. Type of guy to ask if you believe in angels then wink then ride off on my skateboard before you can even blink kind of guy that make you wanna think: Is this a genre of man I’m supposed to be aware of?
11. Ps. Im not actually that old I say im 22 but im really 25.: If that confuses you, wait til you find out this guy’s profile says that he’s 33.
12. I Love to spend time with someone is alone.: I gotta say, this sends some mixed messages.
13. Looking for fun been in jail for 3 years: I’m not saying people who’ve been to jail shouldn’t date, but this is precisely the worst quantity of information to include
14. I don’t smoke, if u smoke be ready to teach me how to smoke coz I won’t let my wife die of cancer & make me a widower;we die 2gether: Demonstrating morbid sweetness and also a fundamental misunderstanding of how bodies work
15. I’m good at shots – vodka shots, back shots, photoshoots: You tried, I guess
16. Cons: If you disapprove I’ll still give you a nickname: What a strangely aggressive claim
17. Also I’m a registered flex offender: Gross!
18. What’s the most confusing day of the year?...............Father’s Day! Lmao. Smh. Bad joke!: Damn, this one is dark.
19. Not a fan of the world, it needs help. I hate society but unfortunately I’m tied to it and can’t leave.: Look, I’m not saying we don’t all feel this way sometimes, but this does make you sound like you are eventually going to invite me to join a doomsday cult.
20. I used to have trouble looking in the mirror when I woke up in the morning. Then all the mirrors started breaking when I looked at them, now life’s a lot easier.: What kind of Disney movie curse situation are you working with here, dude?
21. Searching hard for my tinderella to wreck her life…I’m a covid cop at the ski hill so I can only love u from 6 week away: Honestly that sounds like an agreeable distance.
22. Looking for someone easy to get along with, or hard to kill: If you are planning some kind of Mr. and Mrs. Smith situation, I really have to pass.
23. Super damaged And DESPISE online for 100 reasons But A good 420 buddy free on me and maybe part time roomie: I can’t tell if he’s offering to let someone move in with him or asking to move in with someone, but either way that’s a yikes from me, dawg.
24. I can’t thrive without a healthy dose of toxic chaos: Honesty is great but so is therapy
25. And I swear I can give you pain then you ever had: I mean, you don’t have to swear that? I would in fact prefer not?
Chapter 5 Survivors Free Time Events part 1
So counting this is spoiler and if you haven’t read chapter 5, then please do ready them before you continue on this, this is a warning!
ALSO A TRIGGER WARNING: One of the Free Time events here is going to mention things like rape and teenager pregnancy, if you are trigger by any of the contents this Free Time Events contains, please tread carefully.
A world where those that didn’t make it or just couldn’t survive the cruel world get a chance here, A world where things are right… A world where death never happen.
I look around and saw that I was in the see where those dead would usually sit in, I guess this is what it’s like to be dead…
Well regardless – I gave a sigh as I knew, I could never be around them… I knew I could never be there for them but I just had to, I had to save Sunako-chan if Masa-san try anything and what Haku say… he knew Masa-san in that killing game, he… made good points towards her but then I shook my head.
I just hope… the others could stop him where I fail but anyway, I look down and saw about 7 buttons; Sunako-chan, Tomoe-san, Miwa-san, Eito-san, Doi-san, Haiiro-san and… Hana-san, the person that was my accomplice in this crime.
As then I decided to get this over with, as then I push the first button… Sunako-chan.
She then appears as she looks around then she saw me as shock to see me as then she teared up. “Yo-Your dead, aren’t you?” She asked, as then I gave a nod. “I… am so sorry but I had to protect you and I apologize.” I spoke which the girl look down.
“I… promise myself to face my memories and never let them go, Big Sis Fuji – I’ll be sure to never forget.” She spoke which I smiled. “Well, that’s good, then… you wish to talk?” I asked which she quickly nod.
Inoue Sunako Free Time Events!
Which then me and Sunako-chan began to talk about various things and even change subjects, she seems to enjoy talking to me and I couldn’t help but listen to her active imagination which I had a good laugh honestly.
Looks like me and Inoue-chan got closer together which is good!
I took out various crayons and things that can help one draw which I handed it to her. “Hmm, interesting items – this could help with my plans for world domination!” She spoke in a joke like matter, let’s hope that is the case…
It seems she smiled at me. “Sooo, gonna guess what my lil’ talent yet?” She asked with a huge smile which I try to think it over… she tends to act out and seems to listen to instruction. “Um, how about lil’ Ultimate Drama?” I asked which then she frown for a moment which she look sideways. “Um… no, I don’t really like that talent very much.” She stated which I was surprise with that reaction.
She doesn’t like acting? Well I guess some kids don’t like the idea of being on a stage. “You don’t like being on the stage?” I asked which she nodded as in a thinking pose. “I guess not, I mean – I just… never really saw myself as trying to get attention or even like being center stage maybe keeping your head low so you aren’t a teacher’s pet is better.” She stated which I was left confused by that statement.
So she hates being a teacher’s favorite which I blinked. “Still… I figure with how smart you are, I’m sure teachers must favor you for doing quite well, right?” I asked which then she put her hands behind her as moving her feet back and forth. “Well – sometimes but honestly, I rather just not have them touch me or even give me the time of day besides… there are some pretty bad people out there that tend to go after the young ones, plus I do hear mothers tend to push there kids on the stage… I just don’t like that at all.” She spoke which made me wonder about that.
Which got me to think. “Then… did your mother do that to you?” I asked which she thought it over. “Once but, I just couldn’t handle being on stage – I mean it must be easy for you to get on the stage and be in the limelight, right?” She told me with a huge smile.
She… seems to be dodging the question or doesn’t seem to like talking about herself at all, that really isn’t good…
Inoue Sunako, Ultimate Child Prodigy FTE: 3/5
It was then we decided to continue talking since time did not matter in dreams, correct?
Which then me and Sunako-chan began to talk about various things and even change subjects, she seems to enjoy talking to me and I couldn’t help but listen to her active imagination which I had a good laugh honestly.
Looks like me and Inoue-chan got closer together which is good!
As then I took out what look to be candies of all colours and even shapes, I heard they even got different flavors too which I gave to her. “Oooh, something I totally like! I’ll glad take that so thank you!” She thanked me as taking the item.
As then she had that smile again which I couldn’t tell if she was faking it or not but then she asked. “Well, time for another guess but keep in mind you only get 2 chances then that’s it!” She spoke which I was a bit confused by this.
“Right then, well… maybe Ultimate Social Studies? I mean you seem to handle speaking with people just fine.” She blinked then her face went a bit red. “I mean, I’m okay with that one but there is someone that’s better honestly, a boy actually…” She stated as looking away.
Something tells me that this might be someone she has a crush on…
Suddenly the child looks at me with shock. “He-Hey, don’t give me that weird look! I mean, it’s not like I could ever be with him anyway since he has his eyes on someone else…” She admitted which I blinked as then she sighed. “I mean, the girl he likes is pretty popular in class plus it’s some dumb kid crush anyway, it’s not like he has much reason to like me.” She stated as a matter of fact then I huffed.
“Hey, I think there are quite a few traits you have that could have boys like you; I mean people might find your intelligence rather nice, your sense of humor could be funny and even if you can get nosey – I do think if given time maybe they’ll learn to like you more.” I told her which she blinked then she still didn’t seem sure.
I get a strange feeling Sunako-chan was someone that doesn’t want to speak of this crush of hers which then I asked. “Well, maybe you can tell me what you like about this boy?” I asked which she try to think then smiled a little but not by much. “We-Well, he’s really super smart and pretty patient, like even if we cause mischief or trouble, he tends to be quite calm. He really does try to keep everything under control and have quite a good head on his shoulder; I uh… even recall a time he ask if I was okay after my mommy got into a coma since I was still pretty down about it.” She told me which I smiled a bit.
“From the sounds of it, I could see why you could be crushing on him, he seems reliable…” I stated which she smiled but then it became a frown. “Yep, but… sometimes I can’t help but feel bad when everyone expects from him; he always worries he’ll never meet up to standards, I mean… he already has impressed me enough and honestly if you have expectations place on you – you’ll end up failing in the end…” She spoke which I blinked.
I guess that would be a reason people would be afraid of that which I spoke. “Then… are you afraid of that too?” I asked which she seems surprise. “Huh?” “You seem scared people would have expectations for you or you feel you’ll fail them, right?” I asked which she went silent then she sighed.
“Maybe but even then, I… don’t think it matters much – seeing as he already has his eyes set on someone that probably make him happy, besides love is weird anyway~.” She spoke as laughing at that rather… depressing puppy crush story.
I… wasn’t sure what to say on the matter or even sure how to address this at all…
Inoue Sunako, Ultimate Child Prodigy FTE: 4/5
It was then we decided to continue talking since time did not matter in dreams, correct?
Which then me and Sunako-chan began to talk about various things and even change subjects, she seems to enjoy talking to me and I couldn’t help but listen to her active imagination which I had a good laugh honestly.
Looks like me and Inoue-chan got closer together which is good!
I then went to grab a calculator that seems to handle any equations but I’m not sure if Sunako-chan would find this interesting as then I gave it to her which her eyes light up. “Oh gosh, this is something I really really want, I totally want this so bad so thank you, thank you, thank yooou!” She spoke in excitement as then she puts it away.
She… really seem to like that gift so I’m happy to see that she’s happy.
As then she gave one straight expression. “So… you wish to give this game one more try?” She asked which as then I started to think it over then I shook my head. “I don’t think so but I did learn quite a bit about you during my time so… I don’t think I’ll play this game anymore if you don’t want to.” I stated which she blinked.
She sighed then shrugged. “I… guess we can stop, I was personally getting bored of that game and even then the girl I was talking about has a talent that makes everyone follow her and… she’s someone that’s my friend or well, formerly.” She spoke which I seem surprise.
The girl that the boy she had a crush had a crush on was an lil’ Ultimate talent which then she looks at me. “Like I say my talent isn’t really that special and even then, the lil Ultimate talent she has is one you have in the morning and everyone seems to like it and listen to her, unlike me of course which I don’t mind…” She spoke.
So there is a class that this girl she sees as her former friend that is good at this class that everyone has… it is…
I try to think a class everyone has in the morning then I recall. “Um, Homeroom? I do recall liking that class when I was a kid, is that the lil Ultimate talent your former friend has?” I asked which she gave a first nod.
“Yep, I mean as say my mommy and her daddy’s company work together in robotics, I tend to spend a lot of time with her and she tends to like my ideas but… she made everyone of our friends hate me due to one idea I had but…” She suddenly went silent as I also went silent, the conversation then she closes her eyes and spoke.
“But hey, it’s okay! I mean I’m with all of you and honestly, I think that’s what I like! I rather be here in the present and now then focus on the past! I mean, isn’t that what matters in the end…?”
She spoke as giving me a teary smile, clearly the girl seems to confess something to me and honestly while I couldn’t be sure what to say but… I understand Sunako-chan quite a bit which I suppose if she feels that way…
No, I’m sure she could still accept those bad memories and try to not be scare of them anymore if she works at it but maybe I’ll tell her later… I’m sure of it.
Inoue Sunako, Ultimate Child Prodigy FTE: 5/5
Congrats you have finish up all Free time events with Inoue Sunako; give yourself a pat on the back!
After that I did talk about other things with Sunako-chan to try and get her mind off the conversation – even if it isn’t much but… at least it’s something, right?
However even if I’m not there for her anymore, I’m sure she can face those fears with the others…
Then after a while I decided to press the next button which would be Tomoe-chan’s which then she appears which she looks around then look to me. “Fuji-chan, I… guess you appear in my dream, huh?” She asked which I gave a silent nod. “Yep, which I guess you all figure out what happen, right?” I asked which she went silent.
“We did, I’m… that Haku really dangerous; he’s able to convince you to go through with this plan of yours but will be sure to stop him.” She told me which I smiled a bit. “Thank you, I really hope you can do that where I failed…” I commented which then she smiles.
Seems I guess will start a conversation…
Kimura Tomoe Free Time Events!
As then me and Tomoe-san began to talk quite a bit and honestly the conversation was pretty interesting and nice, I really couldn’t help but feel engaged with talking with her about recent trends and had fun.
Seems me and Tomoe-san grew a bit closer…
I took out some flower-scented perfume bottle which I gave her. “Ah for me, thank you! I’ll gladly take it.” She thanked me as taking the bottle. Seems she likes it so that’s good, suddenly Tomoe-san went quiet again which then she had a serious expression.
“Fuji-chan, I had wonder something… how was your relationship with your dad before he died?” She asked which I went silent then I spoke up and smiled. “Well my dad tend to be pretty stern and while busy, I think he care for me but I think mom says I tend to get my personality from him which… I guess isn’t too far off, why do you ask?” I stated which she nodded then look the other way.
Seems she was wondering what to say in this then she sighed. “I see, then that’s good to hear that since I remember our conversation and thinking of how my father was, see my father was a Hope’s Peak Student – his talent works pretty well with my mom, it was the Ultimate Wedding Planner I recall he always loved weddings and had a joy in creating them, he truly was a man that love love, y’know.” She commented which I guess people tend to find there love in various things.
I smiled a bit. “That sounds like a pretty fun talent to have, you must of gone to them, huh?” I asked which she shrugged. “Not really, some of the weddings were for people I didn’t know but when my dad was around he tends to show me various photos of weddings, couples and how they are set up; I even recall a time he jokingly ask me of what colour of roses he should go for as well…” She giggled a bit recalling the memory.
I couldn’t help but feel that from the sounds of her and her dad got along pretty well which then she seem a bit sadden by this. “I… even recall a time that I told my dad that if I ever get marry, I wanted him to set up my wedding and… he promises he would which it was before he went on the ship and well… y’know what happen after that.” She say as she went to silent which I was silent as well with a sadden expression.
“Thinking back on that day, mother… really did change and not for the better, she stop function and while she attended certain events but she never really felt like she was there,” Tomoe-san stated which then she bit her lip and close her eyes. “I even recall a talent show I was in which I ask mom to attend which… she never did, I think it was the first time I actually hated my mother and started to not like her at all… like I get she was hurt and upset that dad was gone but even then, she had a kid to take care of…” She spoke which I frown for a moment.
I gave a small nod. “It… does seem like she really love you father, has she move on or even try to see other people?” I asked which she shook her head. “No, she never has – I mean she had men approach her before but she show no interest, I guess it shows how loyal she was…” She stated which I gave a nod.
Something tells me that Tomoe-san is still talking about her mother and even her father as well which from the sounds of it… they seem like a happy family before he passed away and the mother and daughter are having a hard time understanding the other’s prospective but it seems Tomoe-san is trying to…
Kimura Tomoe, Ultimate Acapella Singer FTE: 3/5
It was then we decided to continue talking since time did not matter in dreams, correct?
As then me and Tomoe-san began to talk quite a bit and honestly the conversation was pretty interesting and nice, I really couldn’t help but feel engaged with talking with her about recent trends and had fun.
Seems me and Tomoe-san grew a bit closer…
As then I took out a decorative box that can carry anything in which then I gave it to her. “Oh, how lovely – thank you for giving this me.” She thanked me which as then she went silent again as trying to think over the situation once more.
“I’m… still trying to understand my mother, like I get people would be annoyed talking about her and I do need to move on and…” “Tomoe-san, it’s fine…” I stated which she seems surprise by my reaction.
As then I cross my arms as I spoke. “Look, you’re grieving and mourning which I think people would understand that, which if you ask me regarding how your mother felt… Personally I think it’s more of miscommunication both parts, you 2 didn’t know how to speak if you ask me.” I told her which she seems surprise which then she looks to the ground then wiped her eyes.
She must be tearing up as then she sighed then gave a nod…
“Yes, I… suppose your right, I just don’t know what to think or feeling regarding her but even then, I actually when I grew my first set of flowers…” She stated which she laughed a bit as I smiled a bit as she continues. “I think my first set of flowers turn out to be pretty bad, I couldn’t even recall what the flowers were but when I show mother, I couldn’t tell if she felt like I did try or maybe felt sorry for me but I was really please with my work. I think that was a nice memory to have.” She told me with a sad smile.
As then I thought over for a moment as then continue. “Well maybe she didn’t want to hurt your feelings since you were so proud of them.” I brought up which she shrugged. “Yeah, I guess not but yet again she did snap at the Saionji’s only daughter for stomping on the flowers and then she started to cry… I assume she did that because she got in trouble.” She frown, annoyed.
I gave a nod, I guess some kids don’t like flowers which then Tomoe-san was thinking. “I mean – my mom work very hard on them and she was being disrespectful, I even recall her saying the flowers were pretty… despite her stepping on them, then she made a cruel comment that if I were a flower; she would just burn it which… isn’t very nice.” She spoke which I was a bit nervous.
“So… What did you do with that girl?” I asked which she smile as tilting her head to the side. “Well, let’s saying leaving a dead rat on her bed was some nice karma, which yes I did get yelled at but she did start it.” She spoke as if she did nothing wrong.
Something tells me her and this girl did not get along very well it seem…
Kimura Tomoe, Ultimate Acapella Singer FTE: 4/5
It was then we decided to continue talking since time did not matter in dreams, correct?
As then me and Tomoe-san began to talk quite a bit and honestly the conversation was pretty interesting and nice, I really couldn’t help but feel engaged with talking with her about recent trends and had fun.
Seems me and Tomoe-san grew a bit closer…
Which then I gave Tomoe-san some decorative sweets which she took them. “Oh my, thank you – Fuji-chan, I love these!” She say as she put them away.
However as then Tomoe-san gave a sigh as then she spoke. “Fuji-chan, I’m not sure what to say to you for spending so much time with me so I think I’ll say this… thank you for making me realize somethings about my mother and making me realize that we both suffer in a way.” She told me which I blinked.
“But I… didn’t do much honestly, I just figure I listen to you.” I told her which she was in a thinking. “I… suppose your right, but even then I do think it did help me figure things out and maybe, if we do find Haku – I can move forward with the others…” She told me with a smile.
I could surely see that Tomoe-san has come to terms with her mother’s passing and then she spoke with certainty.
“While I still don’t know what my mother thought in her final moments or if I’ll ever forgive Ohta but I know for sure – I’ll try and be there for everyone else, especially Eito-kun and Sunako-chan!”
It seems that girl was ready to move forward and while her mother is gone, she does seem to be ready for that and even then…
I did feel a strong bond between Tomoe-san and myself, which I couldn’t help but smile at her resolve.
Kimura Tomoe, Ultimate Acapella Singer FTE: 5/5
Congrats you have finish up all Free time events with Kimura Tomoe; give yourself a pat on the back!
As then we spoke a bit more, about topics and even recent trends that got to enjoy the company of the other…
But still, it’s nice to hear that after Tomoe-san is going to move forward, making a step in the right direction as then I press the next which was for… Miwa-san, as she appears.
She began to look around at where she is then she saw me looking at her. “Hello…” I greeted which she frowns. “So… we solve your case and, the fact you came up with a murder plan is what I was not expecting but… I guess one of us would need to take up a leadership position, right?” She asked which I gave a nod.
“Then, I’ll try and do that… for everyone of those that have died, so thank you for having us work together; Fuji-chan…” She thanked me.
I guess we should start talking some more…
Mori Miwa’s Free Time Events!
We thus began to converse with each other and speak about matters that were important and even things that I couldn’t help but be captivated by her, maybe that’s the perk of a figure skater…
Looks like me and Miwa-san grew closer…
As then I took out a cup of hot cocoa which Miwa-san seem happy. “Oh, for me? Well thank you, I do need this.” She thanked me however as then I smiled. “So are we going to skate again?” I asked which she eyed me which she shook her head.
“I’m sorry but… I’m not in a very good mood, I think it’s mostly after what happen with Hanlon-san, I… started to rethink what I thought of him originally…” She spoke which I look to the ground.
I did recall that Norman-san felt regret for what he did so… maybe Miwa-san does realize that too. “I mean, he seems to have regret his action – honestly if it were my first coach then he would of ran away like a damn coward…” She stated with anger in her voice.
Something tells me this coach of hers must be a very bad person which I stare at her. “So… what did your former coach do to you?” I asked which she scowled and spoke clearly. “Here’s the thing… you must not speak of this matter to anyone else… He sexually assaulted me and rape me.” She say to me which my face went pale.
Miwa-san… was rape, it was pretty hard to imagine it at all and I never heard of this news about her – at most I only recall her having to take a break from skating for a year and even avoided public attention for sometime.
As then Miwa-san turn away as avoiding eye contact. “It was about three years ago when it happens too, pretty much be nearly a year since I had train with the him; he was someone that I could trust and give me pointers of how to improve on my technique and footing however he tends to get too close and personal…” She paused which I look nervous since I could see why.
As then she began to hug herself. “I… even recall when it was during one of his drunk fits which suddenly, he punches me in the face and knock me up, likely confusing me for his wife who had the same hair colour as me while I was knock out, which after hours of waking up I realize… the asshole had his way with me.” She stated as shivering, clearly this man was someone I would not like either.
“He… sounds like a very bad person.” I told her which she glares. “No shit he was bad, and worse I realize that I started to feel sick and discover it when I told him, he ran away… like the coward he is.” She spoke which I blinked. “Wait, he ran away but… why? What happen?” I asked which she look to the ground.
It seems that there was a reason he ran away. “Well, you know why some men leave and counting my period was running later then normal… it should be obvious what happen, in fact I had to take a break off of skating for a good while after it happen too.” She told me as clearly the subject matter was a bit iffy.
I suddenly went silent as fear soon crept on me when I realize why her former coach ran away which Miwa-san notice the expression on my face. “Seems you figure it out, I had considered abortion at the time but it would cause attention, so I went on a so called ‘vacation’ for a year when I decided to birth the child…” She went quiet which I went silent as well.
I’m… not sure what to say to do, how would you respond to that or even say since honestly, Miwa-san seems to hold a certain standard for men which… I can’t blame her at all.
Mori Miwa, Ultimate Figure Skater FTE: 3/5
It was then we decided to continue talking since time did not matter in dreams, correct?
We thus began to converse with each other and speak about matters that were important and even things that I couldn’t help but be captivated by her, maybe that’s the perk of a figure skater…
Looks like me and Miwa-san grew closer…
I took out some postcards and stamps that seem to have some strange ability based on the sender as I hand it to her. “Hm, I think the gift is lovely so thank you very much.” She thanked me as she put it away.
She seems pretty serious expression, it… seems awkward to ask about skating after hearing what happen with Miwa-san which she didn’t seem in the mood to skate either.
“So, … Did you tell anyone else about this? I think if Norman-san knew about this then I think he would of stop to realize his action.” I asked which then she shook her head but bit her lip. “I never did, I told anyone what happen since my career as a figure skater would be ruin, and sadly people would start to blame me, I’ve only told a select few.” She told me which got me worried.
It… must be a personal issue and just the fact that she had to deal with that which then she looks to me with a small frown as furrowing her eyebrows. “So, what happen with the child?” “They are likely with some good people.” She answers quickly as I was surprise. “You see, the only people I’ve told were a select few; my grandmother, my current coach, some doctors which they were pay to keep quiet, the adoption agency and the parents of the child I am going to get birth to.” She explained.
I really wasn’t sure what to say to her and then she looks to the side. “I even told the parents to not tell the child where they came from, they simply pay me and the affair was kept private and… it’s been 3 years, likely the child in question is a toddler by now.” She spoke as thinking it over which I realize something.
“Hold on, do you even know what they look like?” I asked which she shook her head. “No, I don’t and honestly I think it’s for the best I didn’t. Even then I’m sure however they are doing, probably they had a way better life then I could ever offer.” She told me which I went quiet which then I asked about.
As I notice that despite that horrid story, she didn’t seem to have an issue with men. “Well, I’m sure that child is likely being taken care of.” “It’s all I hope for, but anyway after I got back to skating I… started to be cautious of men or behaviors I’ve notice, I didn’t want the same thing to happen if I got a coach which… I did, my current one was saying to be a team manager that train a baseball team to nationals.” She spoke with a small smile.
It seems that Miwa-san seem happy about him. “I guess you must have trusted him, right?” I asked which she gave a firm nod. “At first, I was honestly wary of him – I didn’t trust him that well and I fear the same thing would happen again but, when I told him when he ask, he… understood my situation and even promise he won’t reveal this information but what he says to me… help me quite a bit.” She spoke which I blinked.
“What did he say to you?” I asked which then she smiled a bit. “Trust has to be earn, trust between an athlete and a coach which would need to respect each other – As say if you aren’t comfortable around me then I understand, but keep in mind… there are others that would understand if you tell them like you told me.” She spoke which she went silent which she close her eyes.
It seems that she forgot those words and then had her hands on her chest. “Which, how funny I forgot his words but maybe he’s right… if I told Norman-san what happen or anyone else, but I’m not sure how he would react if he was alive knowing this information.” She spoke which she look to the ground.
It seems that Miwa-san clearly had trust issues and honestly, I don’t blame her but she does seem to hold a certain standard for people which… is understandable.
Mori Miwa, Ultimate Figure Skater FTE: 4/5
It was then we decided to continue talking since time did not matter in dreams, correct?
We thus began to converse with each other and speak about matters that were important and even things that I couldn’t help but be captivated by her, maybe that’s the perk of a figure skater…
Looks like me and Miwa-san grew closer…
I then took out some block that is good for sharpening blades or any metal which she seems happy. “Oh, this could help me with skating so thank you!” She thanked me as then she took the item as then she smiled.
“Fuji-chan, I think after talking with you… maybe trusting everyone wouldn’t be so bad. I was worried I would start to distrust people or think all of them were bad but I can see now I was wrong.” She thanked me which I smiled a bit. “Well, maybe you just needed to be reminded what your current coach told you…” I told her which she laughed a bit.
I guess she was feeling better and gave a nod. “Yes, I suppose your right – I mean there are still people out there that remind me of my first coach but… I know now that there are people out there that mean no harm and would understand my situation if I told them so… maybe trusting you all would help me.” She spoke as then she declared something that I couldn’t help but feel proud of her to say.
“Trust in those that trust you, trust in those that won’t harm you, trust in those that are your friends – then that trust will keep you going… I think I should trust everyone and we can work together and be stronger.”
She spoke as it seems the girl had started to trust me and see me as a friend as then she smiles. “Well, I feel better telling you so… maybe we should try skating again?” She asked which I smiled quite a bit. “Sure thing, let’s go and I think with your help I’ll surely get better~.” I told her which she gave a nod in agreement.
I could tell that Miwa-san does trust me and I’m glad that she does, I feel a pretty strong bond between myself and the figure skater so I’m glad to hear she’ll trust the others even after what happen.
Mori Miwa, Ultimate Figure Skater FTE: 5/5
Congrats you have finish up all Free time events with Mori Miwa; give yourself a pat on the back!
As then me and Miwa-san got up and decided to try and do a bit more skating, I actually started to get better and even do some tricks, thanks to her help… I had a lot of fun honestly.
Even if I tripped up and mess somewhere, she gave me pointers to improve and even told me that looking down at your feet would make you trip even more so I didn’t do that and it work! I was happy to finally learn how to skate, thanks to her.
As then I return back to my seat after she disappear which then look at the buttons left, I had 4 left to speak with and learn about… who to go for next.
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Birthday Girl Part 5: Weekend (10 Hours)
pairing: yoongi x reader
genre: one night stand, early relationship, noona, smut,
word count: 6.6k
warnings: SMUT. sex w/o a condom (you’ll see why), dry-humping with a happy ending (ugh, i hated just writing that, isn’t there a prettier way to describe that?), kissing, new positions, talking!, caring, snuggling, cuddling, rants about students writing crappy essays, you have been warned that i cannot help how attractive this yoongi is,
a/n: beta’d by the incomparable @hobi-gif, read through and encouraged by the amazing @xjoonchildx and @sasseone. i hope you all enjoy it.
poem is “My Lost Youth” by Longfellow
the asks, reblogs, replies about this fic mean so so much to me. thank you!!
part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4
Yoongi eats a third of the frittata. And most of the ham you cooked up. You know it’s probably a huge step back in the progress of feminism to enjoy him eating your food so fully, but you can’t help it.
“I’ll clean up.”
“Yoongi,” you start and he points at you with a stern look.
“I can take a few minutes to clean up.” He picks up your plate, placing it on top of his. “Maybe it’ll give me inspiration.” There’s a small laugh on his part as he walks from the table to the kitchen. You don’t move, watching his walk as though your eyes can only stay on him.
Which is true.
“Inspiration? Doing the dishes?”
He turns on the water and you get up, grabbing the rest of the dishes. He fills the sink with soapy water, taking the extra plate from you.
“Sure. Your house…” he trails off, testing the water temperature before looking at you. “Your house is calm.”
He shrugs, starting to wash. “I think maybe it’s living with the guys, but it never seems peaceful there. Here it’s just… still.” He rinses off a plate and sets it in the drainer. “It’s nice.”
He makes a face at you. “It’s nice.” He flicks some suds in your direction. You yelp more in surprise than the actual feeling of bubbles on the front of your shirt. “Go shower or something. I’m working here.”
You resist arguing that you’d like to watch him elbow deep in dishwater, hair disheveled with glasses on, for at least an hour more. That might be too much and you’re very much trying to not overdo it with him.
You’ve probably said too much already. But he’s still here.
It makes you want to hope, but you have a track record that tells you otherwise.
“I’m going to the farmers’ market later. Do you want anything?”
He rinses another dish and sets it. “Will there be tangerines?”
You grin at his lack of subtlety. “There can be.”
He shrugs nonchalantly. “If there are…”
You lean over to kiss his cheek, beyond charmed. He turns his face after, lips near yours. You freeze, realizing that again, you initiated.
You still don’t know if that’s okay.
“Again,” he whispers. You swallow, moving in to brush your lips on his. His mouth parts so his tongue can touch yours and you can feel yourself tensing… again… even after two orgasms a half hour ago.
Is it because it’s all built up? So many years of not seeking your own pleasure and you just explode every time? Or is it him?
Is it only him?
His tongue slides along yours and you whimper. It makes no sense that tongues can do this and make you feel like this, but you move in closer and all of a sudden your back is wet with his dish-soaped hands, but you don’t care. You just want to keep kissing him until your lips are numb. You feel the wall at your back and his wet hands have moved down the back of your pants, gripping and pushing you where he’s so hard.
You move your head away to speak. He doesn’t seem to mind, lips trailing to your neck.
“I, um… went to my doctor last week.”
He grunts against your skin.
“I got an IUD.”
His head pops up at that, eyes wide and pupils black. “What?”
He shakes his head, hands drifting up your back and molding to your sides. “Sorry, I know what you said. Why?”
You shrug, feeling more embarrassed than you thought when you’d imagined telling him about this.
“Since we’ve been… you know and it seems to continue, I thought… it’d be wise.”
He’s staring at you, eyes still dark, but a small smile on his lips. “Sex. We’re having sex.”
Your face is so hot.
“I know. And I didn’t do this with the expectation that we’d necessarily be always doing this.” Is this the talk? Did you just start THE TALK while in your kitchen, in your walking clothes and him still in his pyjamas with dish suds on his fingers? “So, please don’t think that I’m trying to make you--”
“I haven’t been with anyone else since your party,” he interrupts casually. Your heart stops.
“Yeah.” His smile grows. “Have you been out every night, taking home unsuspecting men?” He’s teasing, but there’s a flicker in his eyes you don’t quite understand.
You scoff. “I’m not sure what world you think I live in, but that is definitely not happening.” You pause and risk it again. “I don’t want any other men.”
His fingers, previously following the curve of your waist, freeze and dig into your skin enough to make you jump.
“You want me?” he whispers as though to confirm.
You nod, eyes meeting his despite your fears. You do this. You tell the truth, you open up and sometimes (most of the time) it does not end like a pretty little story. It just ends. Quickly and abruptly.
“I want you, too,” he replies to your nod. You tremble at his admission. It seems like more than just wanting sex. But you aren’t sure. You’re never sure and you’re afraid to ask him to clarify.
Let yourself have this at least. At least for the time he’s here.
His fingers lessen their pressure and he kisses you softly. “Can I have you now?”
“I still haven’t taken--”
“You smell like sleep, the rain and my cologne,” he murmurs against your lips. “And eggs.”
You laugh and he goes deeper, pulling you close for a kiss that literally makes you curl your toes, and you feel very firmly that nothing has put a damper on his desire for you. Your hips move of their own accord and he lets out a curse.
“Bed?” he asks, his mouth only millimeters away from yours.
He’s still kissing you as he drags you toward your bedroom. He nearly trips as he discards his boxers, allowing your hand to find him immediately.
“You are entirely too comfortable with your hand on my dick,” he says. “Not so shy, huh?” he takes off his shirt as you do the same with yours. “We could try something different this time?” he starts as you sit on the bed.
You still and he notices.
“Um, what did you have in mind?”
He tilts his head to the side, taking you in, as though he’s not standing in your room, stark naked. He reaches out to pull off your pants and underwear, tossing them aside.
“Wanna be on top?” he asks.
“Oh. Um… do I?”
He laughs and gets on the bed, lying back, head on the pillow. He gestures for you to come close.
“Oh, I thought, with my IUD, you don’t have to--”
He cuts you off, rising up to kiss you. It’s not gentle, or soft. It’s pure heat and teeth. You gasp, grabbing at his shoulders to not fall back. His hand is there, seeing how much his kisses and his words affect you.
“Sure?” He breaks away to check with you. “You did buy a whole box.”
“You’re making fun of me,” you say, pouting a little which holds no influence as you’re also panting.
“I’m teasing,” he says, fingers sliding in and out. “I’m teasing because you’re cute.” He kisses you before drawing back both his mouth and fingers. You shudder. “Go on, jagiya. You control this when on top.”
You look down at his cock, flushed and hard. “I just get on?”
His laugh is louder, a bit breathless and you know you’re probably redder than anything, but you really do need the occasional guidance.
“Yes. Pretty much.” He links his fingers with yours. You nod and take him in your other hand, lifting to your knees. When he first touches you there, you remember it’s been a while since you’ve been together like this. Since your party.
“You’ll tell me if I do it wrong?”
“I don’t think you can, but yeah, I will.” There’s still remnants of humor in his voice, though it's strained and deep. You sink down on him carefully, sucking in your breath at the feel (not unfamiliar, but still so surprising).
How do people get used to this?
And it’s different, without the condom. Warmer. And you can tell that for him, it’s very different.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” it’s a litany of the word coming out of his mouth, his head falling back. “Fuck.” He lifts his head after a second. “You can move.”
You nod again.
“You look like you’re about to take notes again.”
“I am,” you say hotly, eyes shutting tight when you lift and slide down. “Mentally.”
“Sweetheart,” he says like the word is natural. Like that is your name, and only you will ever be called that. You force your emotions back down. “Stop thinking so much.”
You open your eyes to see his on yours. He holds out his other hand to you, so now you hold both hands, fingers interlaced. You move up and down again and he lets out a groan.
You bite your lower lip, continuing the movement, feeling his quivers and watching his chest increase the speed of his breathing. You watch this man, who you care too much about and know so little about him, let go of one of your hands to grab your hip, positioning you just so.
He’s moving too now, his rhythm different than yours, but you feel it. That strange build that you know you’ll never get used to, it starts to run along your limbs, back and forth like electrical currents. You lean forward, wanting to kiss him, but the move shifts where he’s hitting you and you choke out a gasp.
It practically zings through you.
He lifts up to meet your lips. “That’s it. You’re doing so good.” The words are separated by gasps and barely have the strength of his voice, but you relax (as much as one can) and when you let go of his hand, needing to cup his face and kiss him back, he comes.
And then you do too.
You feel him inside you, everything and it should be gross, but you’re shivering from that speeding train and the release.
He’s inside you.
You feel the tears in the corners of your eyes but you ignore them, leaning down to kiss him, hoping that it’ll just feel like sweat, not tears. He wraps his arms around you, trembling.
“Did you like that?” he breathes into your ear.
He cups your face in his hands so you two can look at each other. “You let me come in you… that’s pretty amazing.”
He can be so blunt.
“Now what?” This is new and you have no idea what’s actually the process, post-coital.
He smirks. “You’re probably gonna want to shower and wash the sheets.” He kisses you on the nose. “But you don’t have to move any time soon.”
“Okay.” You rest your head on his chest. “I did like it. It was more intense.” You aren’t really sure those are the right words. It felt so much more everything. More intimate.
“Good.” He kisses the top of your head.
“You know you have to go work,” you say reluctantly.
“Shhhh, let’s not think about that.”
You kiss his chest, the tears still wanting to fall. You wonder if you’ll make it out of this without your very first broken heart.
You do take a shower because there are a lot of things about having sex without a condom that romance novels really don’t cover. Like what trails down your legs.
It’s so weird and yet, you like it. You like this change.
But as you walk the farmers’ market, you remind yourself that it’s just sex. Sex with fondness, maybe.
You should be happy with that.
There’s no sounds when you get home. You unload your produce, putting several tangerines in a bowl with a few napkins. You take the bowl upstairs and set it by the door. You listen but don’t hear anything so you head back downstairs.
You eventually get situated in your office, pulling out your school laptop and opening up the website to view and grade the newest batch of essays. You look at the first paragraph of the first one and sigh.
Is it that hard to follow the basics of essay structure?
Apparently it is for this freshman who decided to use a fragment and slang in the very first sentence. There is also no thesis statement you can suss out.
You resist banging your head on the keyboard.
You open a playlist, gearing yourself up for battle against comma splices, incomplete thoughts, and general misunderstanding of the difference between language appropriate for conversation versus academic writing. Your mind slips from the inhabitant upstairs into the world of teaching and constant repetition.
You jump about a foot at his voice (hard to do while sitting, but you manage it). He laughs and you see him at your doorway.
“Your phone is blowing up, by the way.” He waves it in his hand before coming in.
“Did it disturb you?” You’re a little horrified. “I usually put it on silent, though the vibrating makes noise too. I’m so sorry.”
“I didn’t hear it until I started coming downstairs,” he says quickly. “Though your BFF does want to know how the sexcapades are going.” He turns your phone so it’ll light up with notifications and yes, right there is a text from her.
Word for word what he just said.
“Oh god, I’m so sorry. I swear, I just said you were coming over to do work. I didn’t insinuate that we’d be--” He kisses you to shut you up. You melt as his hand strokes your hair.
“You should tell her you’ve lost all feeling in your body.” He sets your phone on your desk. “If you want to be accurate.”
You see his smirk and eyebrow raise of arrogance, and you relax. “And yet I’m still working fine.”
“Don’t challenge me, jagiya. I have to finish two more songs.” He’s still stroking your hair, standing next to you. “Hungry?”
You glance at the time. “It’s late. I’m sorry.”
“Stop saying you’re sorry,” he says. “I was hungry so I thought I’d raid your fridge. That’s all. Do you want me to make you something?” He’s turned you in the swivel chair so you're facing him, still playing with your hair.
“You want to cook?”
“I like cooking.” He leans down. “When I have time and ingredients anyway. Thanks for the tangerines.”
“So, can I make you something?”
“You don’t have to, I can--”
“I want to.”
He’s keeping his eyes on you, making you feel very small. “Okay.”
He grins then.
“How’s your work?” you ask, noticing his legs are still touching yours.
“Good. Very good. I hope.” He shrugs, dropping a kiss to your forehead. “I’ll go make lunch.” You watch as he leaves your office, stunned more than anything.
You actually don’t get more work done. You text your best friend back that there are no sexcapades (she doesn’t believe you, rightfully) and she asks you a question that you cannot answer.
You sit there for about three minutes before getting up and heading to the kitchen.
“Mustard or mayonnaise? Or both?” he calls as though you’re still in your office.
He turns at your voice, eyebrows up. “Neither?”
“Nothing or hummus.” You lean against the door frame, watching him as he opens the toaster oven to pull out freshly warmed bread.
“So, why do you have mustard and mayo then?” he asks as he moves to the fridge. He pulls out the tub of hummus and ambles back to his array of sandwich ingredients.
He snorts. “He of the very good beer?”
“Coffee, mustard, mayo, beer, and peanut butter. If I have all those, he’s content.”
Yoongi shoots you another grin. “The basics.”
“Yep.” You twist your bracelet around your wrist a few times. “So, question.”
“Shoot.” He cuts the sandwiches (loaded high) diagonally. You watch as he splits them before adding already peeled tangerine slices in the middle for a side.
“You’re good at plating.”
“Worked in a fancy restaurant in undergrad.” He walks over to hand you one plate. “You said you had a question.”
You’ve lost your courage.
“Um…” You look at the sandwich. “This looks good.”
“Jagiya,” he says slowly. “What’s your question?” He moves past you and sets the plate on your table before grabbing yours and setting it down as well. He watches you, eyes very thoughtful.
You clear your throat. “On a night you don’t have to work, at the bookstore, or school, or whatever… would you, like to go out to eat? With my best friend and her husband? You met them at the party.” You swallow. “And me, of course.”
He doesn’t say anything for a second. Long enough to make you question everything.
“Like a double date?”
You nod, counting your heart beats.
“Yeah. Sure.” He smiles softly. “That’d be fun. I’m not much of a conversationalist though.” He shrugs as though embarrassed.
“I talk enough for anyone and then some,” you mutter, letting your breath out. “Whenever. Just let me know your availability. I’ll figure it out.” You start to grab your plate, but he takes your hand.
“Why did that make you nervous?”
You stare at his hand. “We tend to only see each other at home. I wasn’t sure if it extended to in public.”
He laughs and rubs your palm with his thumb. “I like food. I like you. I like your friends. No problem.”
“I’m glad I come after food.” You meet his gaze then. “Thanks.”
“You don’t have to thank--” He lets out a small sigh. “I like being around you too.” He grabs his plate and kisses your mouth. “More work. Later?”
Your eyes are closed, but you nod. Another brush of lips before he pads away and up the stairs. You send a message back to your best friend:
:: He said yes.
BFF:: Of course he did. He likes you!
You finish what you hope is a solid day’s work of grading before getting up to walk into the living area. As non-distractingly as possible, you set up a log in your fireplace and light it. It’s not that cold, but the consistent drizzle outside and strong desire for tea has you feeling cozy. You slip on a fuzzy cardigan and heat up the tea.
You curl up on the couch, tea and book in hand when you hear him come down the stairs. You look over at him as he slows down at the bottom.
“This is the most professor thing I’ve seen you do.”
You smile. “That’s good, right?”
He shrugs. “I suppose.” He stretches and comes to sit next to you. “Tea?”
He takes it out of your hand and sips it, making a face. “Sweet.”
“Not all of us like our drinks bitter and dark.”
“Like my soul,” he quips and stares at the fire. “I might fall asleep here.”
“I won’t stop you. You didn’t get much last night.”
He looks over at you with a smirk.
“You were working,” you say, hiding your face behind the book. “Late.” He doesn’t say anything, but he doesn’t move either. He’s warm, arm resting against yours, his feet tucked under him. “Are you done?”
“Uh…” he lets out a long breath. “Technically, but I’m not happy with it.” He rubs the back of his head aimlessly. “It’s fine. It’s not great.”
“Taking a break is good. Your brain needs some time to recoup.”
“Yeah?” He turns his head. “Think so?”
“When I get stuck, or my students do, I always tell them to take a break. Go for a walk. Do something else. Almost always when I come back, I can figure out the problem.”
“And she’s wise.”
You scoff. “Something that word problems in math taught me. I hated them.”
“What person likes them?” He peers over your shoulder. “So, is this a typical Saturday night for you?”
“You think asking random men to dance at a club is my regular go to?” Your eyes are on your book, but you aren’t reading. He’s leaned in closer, chin nearly on your shoulder.
You can feel him grin. “I was hoping I was special.”
You bite your tongue from being too honest. “Eh, you were like my third guy of the night.”
He laughs in your ear, clearly not believing you (he shouldn’t). “I’m sorry you had to lower your standards.”
You press your lips together when his lips touch your ear.
“So, you ever going to tell me why?” he asks.
You turn your head, eyes wide. His lips brush along your jaw as he doesn’t move back.
You shrug. “I told you. You’re beautiful. I figured you’d laugh at me and say no to a dance. But if I didn’t ask, I’d always wonder.”
“Why would I laugh at you?”
You set your book on your lap before picking up the mug of tea. “I’m not fishing, okay? I know what I look like. I don’t not like myself. I’m pretty okay with me.” You take a deep breath, staring at the steam that rises from your chamomile tea. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t know how the world works. What men want. That’s not usually me.”
He doesn’t say anything, but you can feel his eyes on you. Those sharp dark eyes that could probably eviscerate your soul if you’re not careful.
“I was there because Hoseok needed a wingman. Not that he really ever does. But I owed him a night out. I was basically there to make sure he didn’t get his liver taken or anything.”
“I didn’t plan to do anything that night. One drink and to carry him home.”
You meet his gaze. “Okay. Why me?”
He looks away, cheeks reddening. “You were so cute. Just walking up to me, not even trying to play hard to get. I gave you absolutely no encouragement. And your eyes were so big. Didn’t try any line or stupid trick, or ‘buy me a drink?’ Just said hi. Wanna dance.” He leans back against the couch. “Said it was your birthday.”
“All of you, jagiya.” He ruffles his hair again. “You seemed safe.” He turns his head back toward you. “Also, that dress was hot.”
“I wanted to feel pretty for my birthday,” you mumble.
He chuckles and leans back close to you. “So… why me?”
“Didn’t I just answer that?”
“That’s not what I’m asking. Why me?” He kisses your cheek. “Why come back to my place with me?”
There it is. The biggest questions of your lack of love life. Why haven’t you ever had sex before and why did you choose to that night?
“You don’t have to tell me.”
“I try not to tell you too much.”
“What is too much?”
“I tend to be too open.” You sip your tea. His lips are still on your cheek. You exhale shakily. “I tend to say too much.” The words from countless years fill your head: talk too much, you’re too much, deal-breaker, too much, too much.
You turn and gladly kiss him, setting your tea down. He wraps you in his arms, pulling you down so you’re lying on top of him, taking up all the length of the couch. He nibbles on your lower lip, sucks it before drawing back.
“Ask me a question then. Anything. If I don’t want to answer, I’ll say so.”
“I haven’t lied to you yet.” He rests his head on the throw pillow and waits. You have a million, but you start in the middle of the spectrum of casual to personal.
“Have you dated older before?”
He blinks. “That age thing.” He rolls his eyes. “Yeah. Not like intentionally. Older women don’t bullshit as much so yeah.” His hands settle on your back. “You?”
He makes a face, amused. “Younger. Anyone.”
“I haven’t really dated much at all.”
“I swear.” You press your face into his t-shirt covered chest for a second. “A few weeks in high school doesn’t really count.”
“How is that possible?” His incredulity makes you feel different than others who have said similar. Others who had no interest in you like that; older family friends, friends of friends. He wants you. It makes his words stick.
You look back up at him. “I don’t know. If I was asked out, it always felt off. I didn’t feel right about it. And then…” You close your eyes. “There were kisses… moments. But I guess I was good enough to kiss, but not to date.”
He strokes your hair. “Ouch.”
It means so much to you that he doesn’t refute your words, just empathizes (or sympathizes because there’s no way he’s ever been rejected, right?).
“Yeah. Also, was totally ghosted when I told a guy that I wasn’t even with, but we were kissing and he got handsy, that I probably wasn’t going to have sex… with him… for at least awhile. So, yeah.” You open your eyes to see him regarding you carefully.
He hums lowly. “Then why me?”
“I don’t know. You were beautiful and seemed to not think I was repulsive. I figured why not? Why not just have a one night stand with a beautiful man who makes me feel special?” You force a smile. “I don’t regret it. Obviously.”
“I’m glad. You were my first, you know.” He grins cheekily.
“My first virgin.”
You hide your face again in his chest. “Really?” you squeak.
“Not even when you were--”
“No way. She was… shockingly, a little older.”
You look up at his amused smile.
“She was nice.” He taps you on the nose. “You don’t want to hear that story.”
“I like listening to you. Whatever you talk about. Even things I don’t understand like layers of music to create what sounds probably much more simple, but is super complex.”
He tugs you close. “Yeah?”
“Also, your voice is both soothing and sexy.”
“You think I’m sexy?”
“I just said your voice was. Not you.”
He laughs before kissing you. “Sure. Whatever you say.” He cradles your face in his hands, mouth opening against yours, tongue coming into play with little warning. You moan, trying to scoot closer. His fingers slide into your hair, gripping just enough to elicit another moan from you.
“Fuck,” he whispers.
“Exclamation or suggestion?” you whisper back.
He bites your lip. “Now who’s being sexy?” He drops his head back on the sofa pillow and you press your mouth to his collarbone. He lets out a shaky breath. “Jagiya…”
When you look up, you see the heat in his gaze, but also the exhaustion. You kiss his chin.
“Since we can’t take a walk for a break cause of the rain, wanna take a nap?” you say quietly, kissing his neck. “I need to read some, but I can wake you up in a little bit?”
He nods, looking up at the ceiling. “Yeah.”
You carefully get off him. He holds out his hand and you take it, confused. He pulls himself up, and turns around so he can lay down again, this time with his head resting on your thigh.
“Oh I see.”
“Mmmhmm,” he replies, eyes already dropping closed. You brush his hair out of his eyes and he holds your hand to his head. “More.”
“I let you stay at my house and you get all demanding?” you tease. He opens one eye to look at you.
“You have no idea how demanding I could get.” There is just enough intention in his voice to make your breath catch. His eye closes and you resume stroking and playing with his hair. He hasn’t put anything in his hair since his shower this morning, so it’s rather askew and rumpled, and so, so soft.
You go back to your book for a few minutes.
“What are you reading?”
“Poetry. Possibly to teach.”
“Read to me?”
“You like poetry?”
“I like rap… same thing.”
“True,” you reply. You love to read poetry aloud, even if the students never get it. There is something soothing in hearing and saying pretty words. “Often I think of the beautiful town/That is seated by the sea;”
He hums to himself, low and slow.
“Often in thought go up and down/The pleasant streets of that dear old town,/And my youth comes back to me.” You take a breath, your fingers drifting from his hair to his forehead, tracing the shape of his strong eyebrows. “And a verse of a Lapland song/Is haunting my memory still:/’A boy's will is the wind's will,/And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.’” You draw your index finger down his nose to the curve of his top lip, your eyes moving from the page to his face.
“Who was that?” his voice is rough, barely there as though he’s just hanging on to consciousness.
“Longfellow. American romantic poet. Pretty decent.” You trace the bottom lip too and his mouth opens to let his tongue touch your finger. “Yoongi…”
“You’re not helping me relax,” he says, his teeth grazing your skin. You feel it everywhere.
“I really don’t think you’re actively trying.”
His eyes open and he grins up at you, kissing your fingers before taking your hand and setting it back on his head, in his hair. You feel your face heat, but you go back to playing with those dark strands and move onto the next poem.
He’s asleep in minutes, his breathing even and slow. You eventually close the book and set it on the arm of the sofa, so you don’t move and disturb him.
You push your hair behind your ears and look down at him. He’s turned toward you some, so you don’t get a full view of his face, but you get one soft cheek, the pink lips, cute nose, and dark line of a closed, heavily lashed eye.
He’s just sleeping on your lap, his legs stretched out on the rest of your sofa that is older than you, reupholstered for the third time before moving into the house. You can’t absorb this. This entire weekend (just now about twenty-four hours with him) living in the same space, preparing meals, soft touches…
Your heart hurts so badly. The kind of pain that comes when you see a beautiful sunset with colors that streak the sky like God is some sort of vibrant painter, who uses as many shades of red, orange, purple and pink as possible. It’s hard to breathe and it’s so stunning that you have to press your hand over your heart to ease the impact.
Having him stay with you, so comfortably, so easily, fulfills a fantasy that you certainly had never read about in romance novels. Novels are full of heat and desire, perfect words dripping with lust and want. There’s drama and miscommunication, high stakes and jealousy.
This is quiet and soft. There’s want and heat, but as much as you like that, you might like this better. His presence, his head warm and heavy on your leg, one hand on the sofa near your hip and the other resting on his stomach. The crackling of the fire only punctuated by his breathing.
You look away, toward the window to the outside where it’s still grey with spring drizzle.
You know the reason you thought a one night stand would be okay was that it was just once. A continuing of intimacy, physical and now this, means your heart will be involved.
You aren’t sure it can survive a Min Yoongi.
You wipe your eyes and look at the clock over the television. You stroke his hair.
“Yoongi, it’s been a half hour. If you sleep too long, you won’t sleep tonight,” you whisper, leaning down to make sure your words reach his ear. Unable to stop yourself, you kiss the top curve of his ear. “Wake up, hon.”
He moves a little. “Hon?” His just awake, still asleep voice is impossibly low, all gravel and slurring.
You didn’t realize you’d said it. “Oh, um… sorry. Southernness.”
He rolls on his back, both eyes opening to look up at you. “So I’m not special?”
You half-smile at him, the sight of his blinking sleepy eyes making you want to lay down next to him and cuddle.
“You’re very special. Hon.”
He grumbles. “Somehow that is not convincing.” He stretches, his arms going up past your lap. His closest arm curls around your neck before you realize it and brings you down to his face.
You are trying not to stare at his lips, which are so close. “What do you want?”
“Let’s order pizza,” he says before letting you go and pushing himself up into a sitting position. “Yeah?”
“Sure. I can--” You reach for your phone on your trunk that doubles as a coffee table, but he grabs your hand and pulls you back against his chest. He’s not a big guy, but he makes you feel small and delicate despite. “What are you doing?”
“Professor…” he says in your ear. “Let me.”
“You’re a student, working a job, living with roommates and--”
“And he wants to buy you pizza,” he finishes for you, his nose touching the back of your head. “Your hair smells good.”
“You are not going to distract me,” you say, trying to sit up and turn toward him, but he tightens his hold, your back firmly against his chest.
“Oh, don’t challenge me,” his voice drops ever lower and sends tingles along your skin. “I’ll never get the pizza ordered. Supreme?”
You bite your lip. “I don’t like mushrooms or olives.”
“I know. It’s no big deal until you order pizza with people and then they think you're finicky, but ugh, mushrooms have the strangest texture, and olives permeate everything with their taste… please don’t make me pick them out.”
He laughs, his chest rumbling against your back.
“I think that’s the very first time you’ve ever said what you wanted without seeing if I wanted it first.”
You wonder if that’s a good thing. You usually don’t have firm opinions about little things because it’s easier to let others decide. Life on your own means all the decisions are made by you. When you’re with others, you need a break from making decisions.
He kisses the side of your head. “No mushrooms or olives.”
“I don’t like spicy either.”
“Well, fuck. We might have to go half and half on this. I don’t know if I can give up spicy too.”
You turn to look at him, just to make sure he is kidding (the smirk on his face says he is). He mock-glares at you, which you return.
“I have a sensitive tongue,” you say, haughtily. His hands, one on your hip the other holding his phone, both tighten. His eyes narrow.
“I’ve tried to build up a tolerance to spicy food, but…” you shrug, aware of his gaze firmly on your mouth. You wet your lips, your tongue peeking out enough to have his eyes sharpen. “Alas.” You shrug innocently. “My tongue just feels so much.”
“Tease,” he growls, making you giggle before he pulls you to him, lips taking yours, tongue testing your words. You wrap your arms around his neck to continue kissing, sliding your legs around. There is nothing gentle about this kiss; open mouths, wet heat, teeth nipping enough to make you gasp. He lays you back, not taking a breath, his weight warm on top of you.
His hand sneaks under your shirt, stopping at the fabric across your chest. “You really don’t need this on a Saturday at home.” His finger inches under the band. You shudder at the scant touch. He lifts your shirt so your stomach and bralette are exposed.
“What are you…”
“Serious question,” he begins, hand counting your ribs gently. “Have you ever made out on a couch before?”
You blink at him. “No.”
His amusement fades. “No?”
“If I had said yes, would you not want to?”
He leans down to kiss right in the middle of your chest. “There is very little you could say or do that would make me not want to.” He carefully removes your shirt and cardigan, over your head, tossing it aside. His right hand runs along your collarbone down to your breast, faint. “I’m just so very sad that you haven’t experienced such a thing.” He cups one breast, gently squeezing, making you lift your hips, right against him. He grunts.
“Yoongi,” you begin when he bends down, mouth taking your other breast through the cloth. “Oh god…”
You can feel him smile as his lips start a trail from your breast, up your sternum and along your neck. There are little bites along the way and each one pushes your core against where he is already stiffening.
“Do you want me to--”
“Nope,” he murmurs against your skin, taking your mouth next. His tongue is lazy, tracing along yours and you’re vibrating. His thumb strokes your side to your hip, finding its familiar place at your hip bone. “Put your hands in my hair.” He almost purrs when you do. “Pull.”
“Pull?” you say, lips on his.
You do, and the groan he lets out actually causes you to tense in arousal. You know that you’re still kissing, but all you can feel is the friction, the heat and the tightness, and when he nips at your ear, you come.
You come still wearing your underwear and jeans.
You start to pull away, embarrassed, but he holds you close, still creating that friction and you tug on his hair again, mouthing at his neck. He lets go with a guttural sound, falling completely on top of you. A few minutes tick by, the fire still crackling, now punctuated with stuttered panting.
“That,” he says, lifting his head to look at you with half-closed eyes, “Is why making out on a couch is fun.”
“Only that?” you say, trying to sound unaffected. He chuckles as his hand slides down your side to the curve of your waist.
“One of the reasons why making out in general is fun,” he restates, tongue coming out to wet his lips.
“I like your tongue.” You say it without forethought. “I mean--”
His earlier chuckles have grown to full on shakes and laughter. You again try to move away, but he won’t let you.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” he whispers, soothing you with a kiss on your nose then lips. “I like right here.” He taps your waist, where his hand fits so nice.
“The curve in. I don’t know. It just…” he shrugs. “You’re so tiny there.”
No one has ever called you tiny. You’ve never called yourself tiny. Tiny is not in your genetics.
But you don’t argue with him. You take his words and store them away for a lonely day, a bad day when your mirror does you no favors.
Instead you give him a soft kiss and then fall back on the couch. “So…”
He rubs your arm as though he’s noticed the goosebumps from your shivers. Maybe he has.
“I thought you were ordering us pizza?”
crossposted to AO3
© 2020-21 btsarmy9593: BTS belongs to BigHit and they are just inspiration. I am fully aware that my stories are not them, in any way. They are far better than any thing I could write. The rest is from my little brain. Please do not steal. Why would you do that?
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March 19: 2x11 Friday’s Child
Finally watched this week’s TOS. This was a hard day again and I’m tired and basically as soon as the ep ended my mood deflated again but I think I can write up a few notes and then crawl right back into bed again.
Another episode about negotiating for a mining treaty, huh? (I’m keeping track of all of these, roughly, for my own Nefarious Purposes).
The aliens are seven feet tall and they wear silly outfits.
Wow, what a dumbass red shirt. You’d think Starfleet would train people NOT to just randomly draw their weapons in diplomatic situations.
I honestly forgot there were Klingons in this.
DC Fontana wrote this!! I forgot that too.
Lol Kirk just drops the deceased red shirt. And then keeps holding his hands out like ‘what am I to do now?’
“They want to negotiate for our rocks. Our stupid, useless rocks. Everyone wants our rocks! So weird.”
I’m actually kind of surprised DC Fontana wrote a Klingon ep but like... I guess it’s not that surprising given this guy doesn’t even have a name and is also really dumb lol. At least he’s not in brownface.
When Kirk and Spock disarmed I didn’t realize they were throwing down their communicators and I was a little confused as to why they had to carry so many phasers each.
Kirk’s pretty upset about the crewman’s death, which I get, he always goes feral when one of his people dies and I appreciate that about him... but that guy really did fuck up lol.
I like seeing Scotty in command.
Oooh mood lighting in the tent. And Spock is meditating I think.
Emotion is “inefficient and illogical.” No wonder Kirk thinks they can never be in love!!
And yet jealous is also inefficient and illogical and I detect some of it in Spock when the blonde Cappellan comes in.
“They consider combat more pleasurable than love.” Hmm sounds like someone else I know.
... Honestly I wish the Grounders had been like this. I feel like there’s more thought in creating this society in one episode than in creating that one over 7 seasons.
I love Bones in this and his role as cultural translator.
The Federation believes in self-determination.
“The sky does not interest me.”
I really do dig the world building here. There’s so much going on in this one ep, even just in part of an ep, and you really get the sense that this is a whole world with its own rules and customs and values, and its own complex political machinations that our mains have really just wandered into.
Also the soundtrack today is NOT messing around. TV composers just don’t go this hard anymore, sorry.
Oooh now the Klingon’s afraid at the prospect of fighting Kirk.
The Enterprise just walked into a coup I guess.
Lots of fighting! Kirk must be having fun.
Scotty is so commanding! I feel like he and Uhura were already friends at this point. Like whenever he’s in command she seems really comfortable just wandering up to his chair all the time.
Also why are they ALWAYS signing stuff?
Yessss silent triumvirate communication.
“To live is always desirable.” I mean she’s not wrong but so much for being willing to die without a fuss lol.
It’s kind of wild how this ep started out being about a mining treaty and drama with the Klingons and all of this alien political drama and then basically becomes all about saving one (1) pregnant widow (and themselves) from huge, ,hostile aliens in funny feather boas.
Sulu insulting Scotty’s knowledge of ships lol. Not smart.
Can’t believe the Klingon couldn’t get his weapon back but Kirk got his communicators back no problem. Who is the smarter alien?
They’ll find us BY SCENT ALONE what a detail to just throw in there!
Lol this whole scene with McCoy and Eleen is hilarious and ridiculous in equal measure. Like I can’t entirely blame her for not wanting to be touched intimately by a strange alien man (rude!!) but also I do enjoy McCoy’s gruff insistence that he WILL care for his patient. This is what AOs didn’t get about “Grumpy Bones.” He’s not mean, he’s just...not up for niceties when he has a healing to do. He WILL care for you dammit!
And he has soft hands.
Spock is loving this.
Kirk’s subtle reverse psychology. “Well if you don’t think the communicator plan can work” and then Spock like “I didn’t say that exactly...”
They aren’t human, they’re humanoid!
And again, the subtle taunting/goading of Bones: “Well if you can’t do it...”
I’m a doctor, not an escalator! One of the best lines.
Detective Scotty. Kind of ridiculous how he solves the case of the taunting Klingons luring them away from the planet...but then sticks around a bit more just in case.
The child is McCoy’s!
Spock is so uncomfortable with this giving birth thing. “Oh look Captain, vegetation!”
“Just repeat ‘The child is mine.’“ “Yes, the child is yours.” Lol.
Arts and crafts with Kirk and Spock! I love that this is a McCoy ep with subtle space husbands in the background.
Favorite moment though is McCoy trying to teach Spock how to hold a baby. “I would rather not, thank you.”
“Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on...won’t get fooled again.”
I love that Chekov is consciously messing with them about everything being from Russia.
Also the absolute GALL of the Klingons trying the exact same ship luring technique a second time.
Can’t believe that Bones wants to go off and have fun with the boys and just leave the baby alone in the cave. You’re a dad now McCoy!! Be responsible!
“Small patient.” Yes very small!
Cool little robot battle station unfolding at the helm.
I feel like when Kirk and Spock have that exchange about cavalry coming over the hill and Spock says "if by that you mean..." Kirk should have answered, "I thought I just said that." But then that wouldn't be very Kirk of him. He never makes fun of Spock.
This Klingon is not having a good day!
Scotty and the redshirts here to save the day.
I guess Maab wasn’t so bad after all. And Elaan is perhaps a little confusing, but I admire her desire to both save herself and adhere to her people’s traditions, even if those are incompatible desires.
Spock absolutely IS going to consult linguistics about baby talk. Probably Uhura specifically.
LEONARD JAMES AKAAR. Absolutely one of the top 5 final bridge scenes. They really missed an opportunity to return to the planet in a later movie or series and interact with the Teer.Captain Picard meets Leonard James Akaar.
This was a good ep! I really only remembered the Bones and Elaan parts with the baby, so I forgot all of the political machinations and stuff in the beginning of the ep. It’s a pretty solid world building episode and of course, lots of McCoy, can’t go wrong with that.
I actually think it makes a lot of sense for Bones to be the child’s “father” tbh. Like, I know everyone thinks it’s funny but like... in our culture, we assign pseudo-parental roles to people who aren’t blood relatives of children based on the adult’s relationship with the child’s blood relative and that’s arguably weirder. Like you can be a kid’s step father by marrying his mom even if you really don’t have any relationship to him, so why shouldn’t McCoy, who saved Leonard’s mother’s life and delivered him, and convinced her to actually desire to raise him, be considered his “father”? ESP given that this society seems to have no place at all for fatherless children. They just can’t conceive of such a thing. So “father” has to encompass something other than, or not strictly limited to, biological father. She was so quick to assign McCoy fatherhood status, I have to assume this happens a lot, that people take on that role for non-bio children.
Not a lot for Spock to do today but I think he had fun. He got to explode some rocks and make some bows and shoot some arrows. And Kirk got into a lot of fights so I think he enjoyed himself.
I don’t know if I believed the Cappellans were 7 feet tall but they did look broad and alien so I will give them that.
It was nice to see Scotty in command again. I’m so mad at AOS still for making him comic relief. I think he’s actually quite a serious person. Talking with my mom, I’ve decided that the crew can be grouped into ‘cracks jokes through a crisis’ and ‘generally gets very serious in a crisis, reserves humor for calm moments’ and while Sulu, Chekov, and Spock are in group 1, Scotty is definitely in group 2 with Kirk and McCoy. (Uhura seems generally lighthearted and fun loving but not funny per se so I don’t know how to group her.)
Also this is one of the early filmed Chekov episodes (as you can see by the hair) and he spends it, again, at Spock’s station. It’s so obvious he was introduced as Spock’s protege, not as the navigator, which I think is very interesting. Like I want to hear the backstory on that.
Next week’s episode is The Deadly Years, which I remember as being very solid.
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Eunoia // Ch. 14
eunoia (noun): beautiful thinking, the possession of a well-balanced mind, which exhibits goodwill and kindness
Pairings: Hybrid! BTS x reader
Summary: You are a world famous director and you have dedicated your life to your job.You have everything you could ever dream of; wealth, recognition, talent, your friends and family. But loneliness ins’t cured by success. So what happens when you somehow rescue seven hybrids? Can they fill the void?
Genre: Angst, fluff, hurt/comfort, eventual smut
Word Count: 15k+
Warnings: Abuse and violence, past sexual abuse, derogetory language, sexual harassment
Chapter 1, Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
It has been a long time, I know. Thanks for being patient with me. This was supposed to be the last chapter of Yoongi and Hoseok’s part but I just couldn’t fit everything that needed to happen inside or it would turn into a 30k chapter and be even more late, so I divided it into two.
The taglist is now closed.
Four days felt like a much smaller amount of time than when you had first been informed of your break. When you heard the alarm the morning you had to go back to work, you were tempted to ignore it and cover your head with the sheets. This was strange for two reasons. You always woke up before your alarm and it was impossible for you to fall asleep again after waking up, even when you were exhausted. But your eyes were heavy and sleep was clinging to your bones.
You reached for your phone and turned off the alarm. The hybrids were waiting for you in the kitchen, breakfast already served. You thanked Seokjin, who looked the most awake. Jimin and Jungkook were leaning against each other with their eyes half closed, small yawns escaping them every few minutes. It was a little earlier than the time you usually left but you had to do some work in the company building before you could go to the studios. Hoseok's injuries were much better, you didn't need to check on them twice a day anymore so you avoided going to their room and waking them up.
The fox hybrid had been opening up more and he looked more at ease with his surroundings. After eating dinner with you on the first night of your break, he had timidly asked if they could join you again. His whole face lit up when you told him they would always be welcome. Dinners had turned into lunches too, claiming that way you didn't have to carry the trays to their room every day.
You weren't surprised at how well he got along with Jimin. His heart-shaped smile had even charmed Namjoon. He was fascinated with every little thing and you made use of your break to show him around the house. It could be a little overwhelming, so you stuck to the basics at first. The kitchen, the upstairs living room, the library (where at least one of you could be found most times) and the cinema room. He looked at everything in wonder, his red tail wagging behind him. Yoongi trailed after you, the bored expression on his face slipping at how happy and excited Hoseok was.
The second day of your break Jimin announced that you would all be watching a movie. He would accept no complaints, not that there were any. You made enough popcorn for a whole movie theater while Seokjin and Jungkook made pizza. You strictly forbade them from putting on one of your movies. You were so deeply involved and connected with them you had trouble watching them without overthinking every scene, line and camera angle. Jimin pouted, joined by Jungkook and a more subtle Hoseok. But you didn’t budge. Jimin huffed and selected a comedy with an actor Seokjin liked.
It was the third day of your break and Jimin had dragged you with him to the guest suite, saying he needed his daily cuddles. You were laying together in his bed as you played with his blond strands. His hair was growing longer and he was complaining that it was falling in his eyes but you loved running your hands through it, your fingers getting lost inside. Jimin snuggled into your side, his tail wrapped around your waist.
“You are very affectionate today,” you said. Jimin let out an unsatisfied noise when you stopped massaging his scalp, so you moved your hand upwards, scratching behind his cat ears, eliciting a small moan from him.
“I am always affectionate,” he said, nuzzling against your collarbones. “You’re just not here and you’re tired when you come back.”
You placed a kiss on the crown of his head. “Sorry.” It was your job. You shouldn’t feel guilty. And yet…
Jimin raised his head, your hand falling from his hair to rest on his cheek. “Don’t be. I just wish you were here more. With us. But your job is important.”
“I guess,” you said caressing his cheek, the cat hybrid leaning into your touch. “I’ll try to get some more time off when I go back to work.” It would be difficult but not impossible. There were often breaks for a couple of days in the filming schedule but you usually spent those revising scripts or reviewing the work of the various departments or attending meetings. Many of those things weren’t actually your responsibilities, they weren’t in your contract, you did them because you wanted everything to be perfect. You could take a step back for once and make up for it later.
Jimin leaned against you, purring happily at the prospect of spending more time with you. He had been clinging to you in the past days after your week-long absence. The first night after making up with Jungkook he had slept with him in their room and you’d thought he would sleep there from now on. But the next night you had come out of the shower to find him laying in your bed.
A talk show was playing on the TV, filling the comfortable silence of the room. Jimin whispering your name had you looking away from the screen. “Hoseok is doing better, right?”
“He is. He’s recovering fast. Why are you asking?” you asked, worried that he had noticed something you hadn’t. Hybrids had much more developed senses than humans that could have detected something you had missed.
“He’s nice,” he said, playing with the fake buttons of your shirt. “He looks so happy all the time and he’s so energetic.”
“He is. See? He’s really getting better.” That didn’t seem to satisfy Jimin.
“What if they want to leave now that he’s better?”
You cooed at him, pulling him closer. “Is that what’s brought this on? If they want to leave we can’t stop them. The door is always open if they don’t want to be here anymore. They only came here because Hoseok was injured and he couldn’t go to the hospital.”
“But can they stay?” His eyes were shining as he looked up at you. “Please.”
“They can stay for as long as they want. But I can’t force them to stay.”
Jimin didn’t say anything more, hiding into your side. Last night at dinner, Jimin had been quiet and withdrawn, glancing at Yoongi every few minutes. There was history between them, one that ran deep and cut just as hard. From little clues and pieces and what Jimin himself had told you, you had pieced together an image of Jimin’s past but you had trouble finding where exactly Yoongi fit.
You hadn’t forgotten Jimin’s words in your office the day you had invited the two hybrids in your house. Yoongi once belonged to the same man Jimin did. They had done something to him and Jimin had been left to the adoption center he had escaped from. Yoongi had been left somewhere else, you guessed a less savory place. But you couldn’t figure out what they could have done to be kicked out. Something Jimin still felt guilty about. Betrayal was a strong and sticky word and it was hard to associate it with sweet Jimin, even when that man deserved that and more.
Yoongi was a mystery surrounded by several brick walls. Only a wrecking ball could break them down. You were the kind of person to knock on a wall and wait for it to crumble by itself when it came to people. At work, if the only way to get through an obstacle was a wrecking ball, you would bring a wrecking ball.
Surprises weren’t uncommon for you (see: Virginia earthquake), you had learnt to face them head on and control the consequences. But that hadn’t prepared you for the string of surprises during your break and the days after that.
The first surprise came with how well Hoseok was getting along with the other hybrids. His endearing excitement about anything and everything didn’t fail to amuse them. He would curl up on the grass, bathing in sunlight, often joined by Jimin who had developed the same habit when spring first arrived. He was curious about everything, asking question after question with his red fluffy tail wagging behind him like an overexcited puppy. All of you couldn’t help but humor him and try to answer his questions to the best of your abilities.
The second surprise shocked you more than the first. It was the third night the two hybrids were eating dinner with you in the backyard. Yoongi usually didn’t talk, opting to focus on his food while observing the progression of the meal. Thus when he spoke, everyone fell silent. He didn’t say much, it only took him a couple of seconds to compliment Jin’s cooking then become quiet again. Jin stuttered through his thanks, flustered at the unexpected compliment. The panther hybrid didn’t talk again for the rest of the meal.
The third surprise was seeing Yoongi and Jimin sitting next to each other, sometimes in silence and sometimes talking. Being pulled to each other like a moth to the flame. It made Hoseok all too happy to spend time with both of them.
The fourth surprise came in the form of a text from a contact you hadn’t interacted with since Christmas. You laid back on your bed, staring at the paragraphs-long text and forgetting about anything else. You stared and stared as if the letters would rearrange themselves, or better yet disappear if you stared long enough.
You didn’t notice how much time you had spent there unmoving until there was a knock on the door.
“Open,” you called.
The door was pushed open and Namjoon walked into the room, his gray hair falling in his face. In the mornings he looked younger. “Breakfast is ready.”
“Yeah,” you said, not moving. They never had to call you for breakfast. Your schedules had become so in sync you arrived for breakfast the moment it was ready or a few minutes early.
“What happened?” Namjoon asked. He approached, sitting down next to you on the bed.
“Nothing happened, I guess. It’s an invitation.” The text had been sent late last night but you had missed it, leaving your phone to charge upon coming back home and not looking at it again. “It’s from my parents. For a gala.”
“Your parents?” The surprise was evident in his face. You didn’t talk much about your parents, those were conversations you didn’t tend to enjoy. Your parents were a topic you weren’t well-versed in and your lack of confidence was irritating.
You looked at the text again, black letters surrounded by gray. “They invited me to a fashion gala. They would really appreciate it if I could attend.” Reading the text again, you wondered if your mother had asked someone else to write it before deeming it persuasive enough to send. “It’s held in Beverly Hills.”
“When?” Namjoon asked.
“Saturday. In less than a week.” It was Tuesday.
Namjoon glanced at your phone. “Do you want to go?”
The answer was more complicated than you would have liked. You didn’t feel like buying a new gown (god forbid if you wore a dress you had worn before at such an event), having your makeup and hair done and plastering a smile on your face while exchanging pleasantries with people you didn’t know for the whole night. But it wasn’t that easy. You hadn’t attended the Christmas event your mother had organized, using work as an excuse, not feeling like showing up at an event in the mindset you had fallen into. Although she didn’t show it, your mother had been offended.
You couldn’t skip another event.
You threw an arm over your eyes, groaning. “I can’t not go. My mother organized the gala, it will look bad if I’m not there.”
“I could come with you,” Namjoon offered.
It would be nice having someone there with you. Namjoon had a way of calming you down and settling your worries but actually remembering those galas made you change your mind. The rich and mighty loved showing off their wealth and power and hybrids were part of that allure. You wouldn’t subject Namjoon to that. You weren’t sure how he would react. You didn’t want to subject him to your parents’ scrutiny either.
“It would be better if I went alone,” you said. Namjoon threaded his fingers with yours in understanding. He pulled on your hand until you were sitting up on the bed, facing him.
“If you don’t want to go, you shouldn’t.”
Only that it wasn’t so simple. Or it was just your human nature making this overcomplicated.
“My mother will be really disappointed if I don’t go. I didn’t go to her last event, either. It will look bad if I don’t go to this one too.” Namjoon squeezed your hand, urging you to continue. “I’m just tired of them. Galas, events, they are all the same and not in a good way. Sure, there are some people worth talking too. I’ve had some great conversations there, but those are far and few in between. Most people are just trying to outshine the one next to them. And my mother only wants me there to complete the picture.”
The powerful and influential couple with their successful daughter. It was an image that haunted you. Most times you tried to ignore it because it wasn’t fair of you to judge your parents like that. They never made you attend those events, they didn’t get angry when you couldn’t make it. But it left a sour taste in your mouth when those events were the only times you saw them anymore.
“You don’t have to be alone there.” Namjoon brought your hand to his lips, placing a soft kiss in the middle of your palm. “I’m always here if you change your mind. It would feel better if you weren’t alone.”
“It isn’t that I don’t want you there. I do,” you said. “But that isn’t a world you want to be a part of, it isn’t really my world either. There, hybrids are just expensive accessories and I don’t want people to look at you like that. Like you are something to be had.”
Namjoon’s eyes were soft on you as he cupped your cheek with the hand that wasn’t holding yours. “That’s how most people look at us. It isn’t something new. You don’t have to worry about me, I’m used to it.”
“But it isn’t right.” You sounded like a five-year-old complaining that the world wasn’t fair because her parents didn’t buy her ice cream but you couldn’t help it. “And it isn’t just the other people, the guests. I’m not sure about my parents either. They don’t know I’ve adopted you. Actually, they don’t know about anything that has happened in my life this year.”
“I understand if you don’t want them to know about us.”
“It isn’t that,” you said. “Not exactly. I don’t want them involved in my business and judging my choices. They- They are my parents and I guess they care about me in their own way but I won’t be able to stay calm if they look at you like they are estimating your price tag.”
Namjoon leaned closer, bringing your foreheads together. You closed your eyes, surrounded by his warmth. “All I care about is for you to feel comfortable and if my presence there will make things worse then I won’t come with you. But if you change your mind, I’ll be right here. Whatever you want, I’m here.”
You tilted your head, waiting for his lips to touch yours. You shared a sweet kiss before there was another knock at the door.
“Namjoon! Did you wake her up?” Seokjin shouted from the other side of the door. “The breakfast is getting cold! I woke up at the crack of dawn to make it!”
You giggled as you separated.
“Let’s go before he decides we don’t deserve food,” Namjoon said.
♬♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♬♬♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♬♬♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♬♬♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♬♬♩♪♩
You had to readjust your schedule for the gala. There were many things you had to do in the five days leading up to it. Your mother was so pleased you accepted the invitation she called you the very next day to tell you how happy she was you would be attending. She hadn’t organized a fashion gala in years and it meant a lot that you would be there to support her. The gala was all about the importance of fashion and the unique interpretations of old and new big names in the industry. It would be one of the grandest events of the year, even if your mother was as clueless about fashion as she was about your life. She enjoyed watching the glorious parts and giving compliments, but rarely got more involved than that.
She had arranged for you to meet with one of the designers featured at the event. You could choose a dress from his collection that would be showcased at the gala. Your mother reassured you that they would do everything so your dress would be fitted to your exact measurements and ready for you to wear on time. You didn’t complain. It would be otherwise impossible to find a dress of the caliber your mother expected in such a short time.
The designer came to your house himself with his assistants. He was a nice young man with a tilted accent revealing that he wasn’t originally from the United States. You made small talk about the different kinds of art characterizing your jobs. They took your measurements and presented you with a few options the designer had selected for you. Some were more eccentric than others but all of them were beautiful.
After discussing with him and listening to his opinions, you selected a piece with gold and red embroidery and a flowy skirt. He was very pleased with your choice, going on and on about how good it would look on you. You felt fluttered at how excited he was for you to wear his design.
You had to meet him again a few days later for the first fitting. He offered to come to your house again but it would be easier for the alterations to be at his studio, where all of his tools were.
Jimin had seen the opportunity to spend more time with you and put on his most convincing puppy eyes asking you to take him with you to the fashion studio. You had no reason to refuse, you wanted to spend more time with him too. Somehow Jimin roped Seokjin into coming with you as well. They waited for you outside until the alterations were done. You couldn’t resist spoiling them while you were out so you took them for waffles. From Seokjin’s stuffed face it was safe to say he enjoyed them.
You had to go back to work after the fitting but Jimin was clinging to you not letting you go, which was how you ended up with the two of them at the final table-reading for the first episode of the Raven Cycle. They both quietly watched the actors delivering their lines. Jimin leaned forward in his seat as he got more and more invested in the scenes, snapping out of it whenever one scene ended and you discussed corrections and suggestions.
The atmosphere was light and friendly. You were professionals and you believed in maintaining a healthy environment of communication and mutual respect that left space for jokes and friendships to develop. The chemistry between the actors was important and you found that when they were friends and had a bond in real life too, it showed.
“Okay, that was great. I liked Ronan’s extra lines, we should keep that in.” The writer next to you wrote it down. “It’s getting late so let’s take a small break for a few minutes and move on to scene fifteen and sixteen and we’re completely done with episode one.” Everyone agreed with you and soon chatter was filling the room. You stretched your arms behind you, your body was complaining after sitting for too many hours.
The snacks and refreshments on the table against the wall were dwindling as the table-reading went on. All the important people in the project were there; the executive producers, the writers, the heads of the various departments and of course all the main actors of the first episode. The room with the large table and the many couches and chairs was large enough for everyone.
Three more days of table reading, which was mainly for revisions, and you would be done, leaving around a week before filming was scheduled to start. Just on time. Despite unfortunate surprises and earthquakes, you were on time. Next week you would be back in the studios standing behind the cameras watching years of work and planning coming to life. The first moments of filming in every movie or TV show whispered to you in silver and gold lines that you couldn’t describe as anything else than magic.
You picked up a bottle of water and a sandwich from the snack table, getting caught up in a short conversation with one of the producers. Your scalp was beginning to hurt from the tight ponytail your hair was trapped in. With a pat on your shoulder, the producer left to find the head of the costume department.
Jimin and Jin were sitting on the smallest couch, away from the table in the middle of the room. Jimin’s ears twitched as you settled on the armrest. You handed him the sandwich.
“You have been looking at it as much as you have been looking at the actors.”
Jimin still didn’t take a bite. “I already ate two.”
“And now you will eat one more.” You nudged the sandwich closer to his face. “They are quite small. I think Will has eaten seven since we started.” You glanced at your assistant, he was talking with two of the actors.
Jimin smiled at you like you were sharing a secret before diving into his sandwich. You opened your water bottle and gulped down half of it in seconds.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go? It’s past eight and it will take at least one more hour to finish the last two scenes and wrap everything up.” You had asked them if they wanted to leave three times since you’d arrived and the answer had been the same each time.
“It’s eight?” Jin asked, pulling out his phone from his pocket. You leaned over Jimin to peek at the screen seeing a few texts from Namjoon and Jungkook and notifications from the various apps Jin used. You had texted Namjoon earlier so he wouldn’t worry that Jin and Jimin hadn’t returned home.
“And it will be at least nine by the time I’m done,” you said.
“We’ve been here for three hours. We can wait for you one more.” Jin opened the messages app reading the texts, a smile appearing on his face.
Jimin had eaten more than half of the sandwich, crumbs sticking at the sides of his mouth. “I want to see what happens at the end. Pretty please?”
“We will wait for you,” Jin said. “We don’t have anything better to do,” he added, to which Jimin agreed enthusiastically. You scratched the cat hybrid's ears while he devoured the rest of the sandwich.
What you hadn’t considered before taking them with you was that the table reading would give away many spoilers for the show. Spoilers were the bane of your existence. Not everyone minded them but you disliked them with passion. You had almost strangled Zayn when he had told you a spoiler he had seen on Twitter for the ending of Avengers: Infinity War, minutes before the movie started. Zayn had been very lucky the lights hadn’t gone out yet. The suspense was one of your favorite parts and that was ruined for you when you knew what would happen.
At least it was the first episode but there was a lot of discussion on how certain parts or pieces of dialogue would connect with later episodes. The fact that it was an adaptation also changed things. You had been adamant about staying true to the original story and keeping in as many scenes from the book as you could. Your additions revolved around character development, the relationships between the characters, and some conflicts that hadn’t been in the book but you had discussed in length with Maggie. In this case, you didn’t know exactly how to define spoilers.
As expected, you finished the table reading twenty minutes past nine. Gathering all your folders from the table, the scripts, and various notes from the writers and producers, you hid them all away in your backpack. Henrietta and the magical forest were coming to life from their voices alone. You could already imagine how captivating it would be on screen.
Jimin was laying his head on Jin’s shoulder with his arm wrapped around the older’s waist. It had taken some time for them to relax in the room full of strangers, some of who hadn’t been subtle about staring. One look from you and their gazes had darted away. It still wasn’t common to have a hybrid, much less three, but you didn’t care how curious they were if they were making Jimin and Jin uncomfortable.
During the first break, early at the table reading, you had been roped into a debate about a possible change in one of the scenes. The two hybrids had kept to themselves, staying quiet and watching. The actress playing Blue had walked up to them with a wide smile and introduced herself. The remaining tension in them was released when she struck up a conversation with them.
“Time to get going,” you said. Jimin looked up at you, blinking drowsily. “Should I tell John to carry you to the car?”
“We’re leaving?” he asked, rubbing at his eyes.
“Thankfully yes so you need to get up.” You had wrapped everything up, saying goodbye to everyone and you were ready to go.
Jin kissed Jimin’s blond curls. “Let’s go and get you into an actual bed.” He got up and pulled Jimin with him, the younger hybrid was clinging to his back like a koala from the hallway where you met up with John to the parking lot.
In the car, you looked at them through the rear-view mirror. Jimin’s eyes were closed, laying his head on Jin’s shoulder.
“Hard day?” John asked, moving the gear shift to the left and then up.
“I’m a little afraid that my scenario might be a little boring,” you said glancing behind you. “It’s too early for him to be falling asleep.”
The car started moving, leaving the dimly lit parking lot behind. “He’s not used to being out for that long,” Jin said smoothing down Jimin’s hair with care. Jin cared for you with everything he had, you tried to do the same but it was close to impossible with how busy you were.
“If it’s my scenario though, I need to rewrite that thing from beginning to end.”
John chuckled. “Good luck telling that to the writers and the producers. They’ll love it.”
They’d love it as much as cats loved swimming.
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You took the day of the gala off. If you went to the gala tired after work, you wouldn’t be able to put a smile on your face and keep it there. It wasn’t so much that the galas were awful but that you felt out of place in them. Your mother had many connections and she would invite the “best” of her world. Some faces had become familiar, a steady fixture in your mother’s guest lists. Some faces you should be able to recognize but you didn’t, resulting in interactions based on pretending.
At the after-parties of award shows and premieres, you were more at ease. The designer dresses and suits were the same, worn by rich and influential people, but it was people you knew and respected. Your skin wasn’t prickling at the tension, lost somewhere between remembering a name or a company and ignoring the jabs at other guests or the rumors spreading like vines.
The last event you had attended was in New York last September, it had been the event of the year according to your mother. Jacob had accompanied you, hugging your mother and shaking hands with your father. He had stayed next to you from the moment you stepped into the place to the moment you got into the car to leave. You had to somewhat agree with your mother. A lot of interesting people were in attendance, famous writers and journalists, and you succeeded in ignoring the less favorable situations.
Your parents had changed a lot, or maybe it was just the circumstances that had changed and the different perspective you had as an adult. You used to cast them as the absentee parents, an overused trope you didn't find much merit in. It was too simple, too straightforward. They didn't disappear from one day to the next, cutting all contact with you. It was more like the times they were there grew fewer and fewer until they had moved permanently to New York by the time you were eight. Your father had been offered a position he couldn't refuse and your mother loved him too much to leave him alone there. She tried, she tried to stay for you but she had been trying to find a reason to leave your hometown since she was a teenager. The penthouses and neat offices fit her far better than the beaches and town squares ever did.
It started as a few weeks at first. Your father would be staying in the city for some meetings and your mother wanted to join him. His job involved a lot of traveling and in most of your memories, he was holding a suitcase. A few weeks turned into a month the next time, then into a few months you had to stay with your aunt and your cousins. After you turned eight, they were coming back only for a few weeks every year.
When you were ten you stopped answering their calls and refused to talk to them. Your mother still tried, even traveled back to be with you. Instead of staying at your house with her, you stayed with your aunt. Your mother left defeated. It took a year for you to speak to them again. Childish, but you couldn't blame your past self. The cracks in your relationship with your parents were still there. As an attempt to prevent them from widening and growing, you at least tried to attend the events your mother invited you to.
Another one to add to the list.
"Does the duck look ready to you?" you asked Jin. Roasted duck wasn't a dish you had experience with but that wasn't the only reason you called for Jin. Being home for the day you had offered to help Jin cook lunch. Cooking helped take your mind off, focusing on the recipe and chatting with Jin.
Jin left the lettuce he was washing in the bowl and dried his hands in a towel. His steps were careful and measured, one of his hands holding on the counter.
"It looks good," he said. "You can take it out."
You opened the oven, pulling back last minute so the heat wouldn't burn your face. "It smells incredible! I think I got ten times hungrier just smelling this."
Jin chuckled but it was strained. "I'm too good at this." He was still holding onto the counter.
"You won't catch me complaining."
He went back to the lettuce in the sink, his bangs falling into his face and covering his eyes. You wrapped the chicken breasts in foil and let them rest for a few minutes. The figs were caramelized and the potatoes fried until golden. That was about it for the main dish.
Jin was cutting the lettuce so you occupied yourself with making the salad dressing. You worked in silence. It wasn't for the lack of anything to say but a flinch from Jin earlier, while you had been talking, had you lowering your voice and then closing your mouth when you were finished with that sentence. It was only for a moment before he turned away, but it was enough for you to notice. You had asked him if he was alright twice and both times the answer had been the same. After that, it was clear he wouldn't tell you anything else regardless of how many times you asked.
A thud echoed in the room followed, not a second after, by the sound of metal clattering on wood. The spoon you used to mix the ingredients of the salad dressing stilled in your hand. Jin had fallen to his knees on the floor, holding the counted with one hand and his head with the other. The knife laid abandoned on the cutting board next to the lettuce.
For a moment your surroundings blurred from the surprise before coming into crystal clear focus. You rushed to Jin's side, who was trying to pull himself back up to his feet.
"I'm alright. I slipped," he said.
"You slipped? Seriously?" You had one arm around his waist and it stayed there as he leaned back against the counter. "What's wrong?"
"I'm just a little dizzy," Jin muttered. That close to him, only a breath away, you could see how pale he was, the dark circles under his eyes standing out against the white of his skin.
"You haven't been alright since we started cooking. You aren't just a little dizzy, that's not how someone is when they're a little dizzy."
Jin turned his head to the side, avoiding your gaze. "Let it go, please. Only the salad is left. I'll rest after we eat."
"Jin, that's not..." Clueless about how to continue, you pressed your palm to his forehead. In winter your hands were always freezing cold, it didn't matter if the temperature wasn't that low they would turn into popsicles mere seconds after going outside. Only that it wasn’t winter but spring and your hands were as warm as they could be, that’s why it was that much more concerning that his forehead was warmer than it should be under your touch. “You’re burning up. How are you still standing?”
“It isn’t that bad,” Jin said. He wasn’t looking at you.
“It isn’t that bad?” you repeated in disbelief. “Forget about the salad, I’m taking you to your room.”
You were about to turn around when Jin gripped your elbow weakly. “You don’t need to, really, I can finish up here, it isn’t the first time. I can do it.” The sweat that was gathering on his forehead and his tired eyes told a different story.
“You have been cooking while feeling sick?” you asked. Being out of the house almost all day it wouldn’t have been hard to miss and when you came back at night you weren’t that aware of your surroundings, but the other hybrids would have been able to see past Jin’s pretenses.
“Not here,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
That’s something you should have expected. You had never met his previous owners but you couldn’t stop yourself from hating them for what they had done to him. Hate was too strong of a word but you didn’t have any other name for the burning in your chest whenever you witnessed how insecure and self-conscious Jin had become of them.
You cupped his cheek in your palm turning his head to face you and you rested your forehead against his, your noses bumping. At the touch his shoulders slumped, his back muscles unraveling under your hand. Jin joked that it was weird that his scent glands weren’t in the same places as other hybrids’ but in strange places like his forehead. You couldn’t agree with him because standing there with your foreheads touching it was just as intimate.
The walk to his room was silent. You opened the door for him and watched him hide under the covers, between the countless pillows and stuffed animals. Before leaving, you placed a kiss on his forehead your lips warming up because of his fever. You wanted to stay there with him and with the way he was holding your hand he wanted the same but the lettuce was waiting for you back in the kitchen and there were five hybrids you had to feed.
Finishing up the meal was a matter of minutes. The dressing for the salad had been made and you only had to finish cutting the lettuce and a few fresh tomatoes before mixing everything in a large bowl. You unwrapped the foil from around the duck breasts and arranged them in plates, adding the figs with the pan juices and the fried potatoes. It looked like something you would order at a five-star restaurant, most of Jin’s cooking did.
The mouth-watering aroma must have drifted downstairs because as you were putting the last touches on the plates two sets of feet were running up the staircase. Jimin looked like he had been lured into the kitchen by some magical force, transfixed on the plates on the counter. He sniffed, making tiny happy noises.
“This smells so good. I’m hungry!” he whined.
Jungkook followed behind, taking a look at the plates and turning to you with pleading eyes. “When are we eating?”
You shook your head at their antics. “I just finished up, you can take them down if you want so stop looking at me like that.”
Jimin pouted, his shoulders raising. “Looking at you like what?”
“Stop that, I know what you’re doing.”
Jimin continued on, batting his eyelashes at you. “What am I doing? Am I not doing good?”
You pinched his cheek, making him giggle. “I thought you were hungry but apparently you aren’t hungry enough if you’re still here instead of taking the food down.” At that Jungkook was quick to take out the large trays and fill them with the plates and bowls.
Jimin went to help before pausing. “Where is Jinnie?”
Jin was always in the kitchen before meals, helping the two youngest carry the trays to the backyard. You didn’t want to worry Jimin, he was very sensitive to how others were feeling. His emotional walls were so thin that your blues and grays bled into his yellow. “He’s in his room resting, he’s feeling a little under the weather today.”
“But…How didn’t we notice anything?” Jimin asked.
You patted his shoulder. “I didn’t either until we were cooking lunch. He just needs to rest and he will be better in no time.” Jimin gazed at the food like it could give him the answers he was looking for, you continued. “The duck is his recipe, he only went to his room after the food was ready.” You didn’t mention how he had collapsed while cutting the lettuce, a knife in his hand and way too many grievous possibilities.
Jungkook picked up the nicest plate, you had made it last and having used the previous six ones as practice it had come out looking the best. “Can I take it to him?” It was well-known that he had a soft spot for Jin, sneaking into his room the nights he was running away chased by guilt. Jin had been the only one he had let in then. But again, they all had a soft spot for each other, it may translate differently into actions but it was the same at the core.
You pulled out a smaller bowl from the cupboard. Let me put some salad in this first.” This was one of the only salads everyone liked, even Jimin who was firmly against eating most greens (Namjoon didn’t like them much either but at least he was trying). You filled a glass with water as well and placed it on the smaller tray Jungkook had prepared. “Don’t wake him up if he’s sleeping, he looked really tired.”
“I’ll be quiet,” Jungkook promised picking up the tray and leaving for Jin’s room.
Jimin went back to arranging the plates on the trays. “He’ll be alright soon, right?”
“Of course he will,” you reassured him. “In no time he will be shouting at Jungkook for eating his ingredients and having fights with any insects that find their way to the garden. Now, let’s take these down because having the food right in front of me and not eating it is killing me.”
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Jin had a terrible headache, that’s where everything had started. He had woken up and instantly wanted to roll to his other side and fall asleep again covering his head with the blanket. His eyes refused to stay open and everything around him was like he was in a fog. His body wasn’t his own, it was like watching someone else execute each move he commanded, like he had lost parts of his senses. Everything was duller.
Powering through, he got up and made his bed, throwing the blankets over it with less precision than usual and arranging his stuffed animals against the pillows. It was your day off because of the gala and he had to make breakfast for you and the other hybrids.
It was enough that he got a few more hours of sleep as a result of the lack of your morning schedule. He could deal with the world being a little blurry at the edges and his body not cooperating every few minutes.
He made an easy breakfast for the day, which was a little disappointing when you were able to sit and enjoy it for once, but he was physically unable to do anything more. Sitting down would help. After breakfast, he would lay down on the couch and he would be better in no time.
Breakfast came and went and in a few hours, he had to start making lunch. Your offer to help was a godsend with his feet feeling like jelly. He thought he had it under control, that he could get through lunch then go to his room and hide under the covers where no one could see him. Until his legs gave up on him.
The knife slipped out of his hand and he watched its slow descent to the cutting board. In a blink he was on his knees, he blinked again and you were next to him helping him up. Hybrids weren’t supposed to get sick, scientists had engineered their whole being down to the color of their hair and eyes, they could strengthen their immune system as well. His past owners used to say that it was in his head because he was living with humans, that if he got sick the center must have given them a problematic hybrid and that couldn’t be true. He had paid a lot for Jin.
The door opened just enough for you to poke your head in. “Jin?” you whispered, quiet enough to not wake him up if he had been sleeping but loud enough for his hearing to pick up while awake. He lowered the blankets from his face. “Hey, did you finish with your food?”
“Yeah, it’s…” He pointed to the tray on the nightstand, he didn’t have enough strength to take it to the desk. You didn’t comment on the food that was left on the plates.
“Are you feeling any better?” you asked. His head still hurt and the heaviness of his body didn’t subside, but it was much better than when he had been standing so he nodded. “Do you need anything else? I brought some medicine if you want, I read that it’s alright for hybrids to take.” Despite the pain and the weariness of his body, he smiled at you and your research. The way you cared about them was endearing. You pulled out a packet from your back pocket.
“I think I’ll take one.” The constant drumming behind his temples and the back of his head was getting too much. It was so bad it wouldn’t let him sleep.
“I’ll go get some water for you.” You left the packet on the nightstand and picked up the tray with the leftovers.
Jin rolled to his back staring at the ceiling. He didn’t get sick often and he hated how his body was betraying him. You returned with a glass filled with water in one hand and a jug in the other.
“There you go,” you said handing him the glass. You opened the medicine packet and pressed a white tablet out. It was light in his palm, almost as if it wasn’t there. He put it in his mouth and washed it down with water. “You’ll feel better in no time.” You stroked his hair and he had to hold himself back from purring. Being sick he craved affection more than ever before.
“Don’t come too close, you’ll get sick too.”
You didn’t pull back. “Then I’ll have a reason to stay at home. It doesn’t sound so bad.” You tugged at the blanket. “Fancy some company?” Jin scooted to the side, letting you slip in next to him. Something inside him rejoiced at having you in his nest with him. It was ridiculous, having the need to nest was ridiculous, but he couldn’t suppress it. You turned around to face him, your head on a light blue pillow you had picked up from the pile. “Do you mind if I stay here for a bit?”
In the absence of words, he nodded his head. You took a deep breath and closed your eyes. You weren’t wearing makeup today in anticipation of the heavy makeup you would have to wear for the gala. The shadows under your eyes, concealed any other day, were threatening to spill over the rest of your face. The late nights had been many in the past few days, making up for the breaks you were taking. More and more he came to realize that work was your life and you were like a fish escaping water pushing it back.
You didn’t speak, basking in the silent company of each other. Jin let his worries go and, thanks to the medicine, his headache got duller until he couldn’t feel it. He didn’t notice when he fell asleep, waking up to voices.
“…feeling better, the medicine must have kicked in. His temperature has gone back to normal too,” you whispered.
“Okay, that’s good. Our Jinnie is strong,” the other voice said and heat traveled up to the top of Jin’s ears. The voice was unmistakably Namjoon’s and it was so warm Jin wanted to wrap it around himself and never let go. “I think we woke him up.”
“Oh no,” you complained, still whispering. “Jin?”
He opened his eyes, abandoning the comfort of the familiar darkness. You leaning on your forearm peering at him. His heart was beating faster.
“We woke you up, didn’t we?” you asked, looking guilty.
“It’s alright.” He could hear how rough his voice was from sleep. “What time is it?”
“Five,” you said.
He had been sleeping for more than three hours.
Namjoon took a step forward from the door. “I brought you some tea and biscuits,” he said, placing the tray on the now-empty nightstand.
Jin sat up on the bed with his back against the headboard. “Thank you. Can you…?” You picked up the steaming mug and handed it to him, holding it carefully so he wouldn’t burn himself. The plate of biscuits was placed on his lap over the blankets. It was a warm day but the air-conditioning was on in Jin’s room, the weight of the blankets over him promised safety and he didn’t want to be sweating from the heat.
“I’ll be going then,” Namjoon said with a small smile, the two of you exchanging a look.
“Wait.” Namjoon stopped in his tracks. Jin blamed his impulsiveness on the part of him that was controlled by the sugar-glider’s nature. Namjoon shouldn’t be leaving. Namjoon was pack and he should be with him when he wasn’t well, he should be taking care of Jin. One followed the other and it didn’t listen to logic. But he was tired and although the headache was gone, his head was still hazy, so he gave in. “Can you stay?”
The soft smile on Namjoon’s face was enough to wipe away any of his lingering doubts. “Of course I can.” Jin pulled up the blankets inviting him in. Namjoon pulled him closer bringing his forehead to his. The mug shook in Jin’s hold, you covered his hand with yours steading it. Jin realized it wasn’t only his hands shaking as Namjoon scented him tenderly. He felt so weak between the two of you.
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The makeup artist asked you to close your eyes again to finish your eyeliner. Your makeup had to compliment your dress, like you were a model on the runway and your purpose was to sell the design. You had to admit that it looked beautiful so far, the gold eyeshadow and the dramatic eyeliner. She completed the look with a matte red lipstick while the hairstylist was releasing the last loose curl from the curling wand. You looked like someone out of a movie and tonight you would have to own that.
They helped you put on the dress like you were incapable of doing it on your own. In these cases, everything had to be perfect, including the most mundane of things. The jewelry was modest as not to take the attention away from the dress but enhance the look. A golden necklace with a ruby surrounded by tiny diamonds to decorate the skin the plunging neckline left bare, small diamond earrings, and golden bracelets.
Half an hour left before the gala and you were ready. The charm was arriving a little late so you had to wait before leaving. The stylists took their leave but you stayed at the fitting room/styling section of the closet, which was right under the actual master closet.
The dress fit you like a glove, bringing attention to all the right areas and burying any imperfections. It was the kind of Cinderella transformation the protagonists in older movies used to go through before getting the guy, but it happened all the time to you. A spy in an action movie, a confident heroine knowing how to use her looks, a girl going to a party to have fun and get drunk, that’s more along the lines of the characters you liked to imagine yourself as. You were far from being any of those characters but it was fun to daydream sometimes.
One last look in the mirror and you climbed up the spiral staircase to your closet, turning off the lights behind you. The designer you had met had been pleasant and your conversations hadn’t been awkward. If the rest of the guests, or at least the majority, were like him then the night could be fun.
The hybrids were all in the living room, even Hoseok and Yoongi. Yoongi wasn’t sitting far from them, in a separate sphere, but next to Jimin who was pointing at something in a book. They all looked at you when you came in, the back of the dress sweeping the floor behind you.
“How does it look?” you asked, doing a twirl. The response was delayed by a few moments.
Namjoon snapped out of it first, coming closer to you and taking your hand. “You look beautiful.” He leaned in for your neck before his face scrunched up in displeasure.
“What?” you asked.
He sniffed at the air. “You…”
“Oh, oh,” you said in realization. “It’s the perfume, it’s quite strong, isn’t it? It’s a Christmas gift from my mother, she said she really liked it so I thought I would wear it for her.”
Namjoon tamed his expression but the frown didn’t disappear. “It’s a little overwhelming. It overpowers everything else.” The perfume was too much for you too, it wasn’t surprising that it was too much for the keen noses of the hybrids. The perfume you wore day to day in spring was a lot lighter and you didn’t put on a lot. You had never stopped to think about how perfumes would affect the hybrids.
“I’ll be sure to not wear it again then,” you said, giving his hand a squeeze.
“That isn’t what I meant.” Namjoon scratched the back of his neck. “You can wear it if you like it. It’s just a little much.”
“Well,” you looked at him and the other hybrids conspiratorially, “it isn’t my favorite, either, and if it affects you like that why would I keep wearing it?” Namjoon’s face smoothed out and you noticed Hoseok looking at you with amazement.
You opened the leather clutch and put in your phone and your keys. Your lipstick and powder were already inside along with a pack of tissues. It didn’t fit any more things.
“I’ll be going now. I’m fashionably late enough.” Before going, Jungkook and Jimin kissed you on each cheek careful not to ruin your makeup. Jin had fallen asleep again and none of you were willing to wake him up.
The night could become difficult so you ignored Yoongi’s eyes on you. You didn’t need any more people judging you.
A limousine was waiting for you outside, limousines were practically part of the dress code in these events. John wasn’t with you this time, you had given him the night off. These kinds of events starred in his nightmares, standing in the corner all night not saying a word. That’s how they kept up the illusion. Regardless of how many times you told him you didn’t care about it, he would follow what was expected of him.
The bright lights blinded you when you arrived. Everyone seemed to want to take a look at you. Your heels sunk into the red carpet at the entrance hall, large paintings in golden frames hanging from the walls. You were led up a grand staircase to the hall the gala was taking place. And so the night began…
You listened through speeches about fashion and the vision of the fashion industry and each individual designer. A few parts were quite interesting, but most of them failed to do anything more than repeat the same old ideas again and again. However, the champagne did make everything a little more tolerable. Your mother had been very happy to see you there and she had told you at least three times how beautiful you were. Your father smiled at you, a smile that looked way too political to be for his daughter, the same smile he would put on when greeting the president.
After the speeches were finished, your mother linked your elbows. It was time for the introductions. You put on your camera smile and shook more hands than you ever did at work. The compliments on your work were many, which ones were genuine was a mystery. But it did feel good when the daughter of one of your father’s associates told you how much she loved the finale of season 4 of Paper Hearts and asked you about Six of Crows.
You said goodbye to an older couple and your mother led you to the buffet. A sculpture of a man pinning fabrics on a mannequin stood proudly in the middle, surrounded by plates of food so perfect that it looked more fake than the decorative food pieces you used on set.
Your mother took another flute of champagne from a waiter. “Mr. Jones will be retiring soon but his son doesn’t want to take over the company. It causes a lot of family drama. I heard they only exchange a few words when they meet but Mr. Jones isn’t backing down.” You had no idea what company they had or who their son was but you nodded. “Ah, I wanted to ask you. You didn’t say anything about adopting hybrids.”
Your hand stilled before you could taste the hors d' oeuvres that looked like a sandwich but was too fancy to call it that. “Hybrids?” you repeated.
“I didn’t know you were interested in them,” your mother continued, unaware of how tense you had become. “Certainly not interested enough to adopt four. Are you making a collection?” She laughed at her joke but you only felt ill.
“No, I wouldn’t say that.” You took a bite of the food, trying to swallow it down. You had lost your appetite.
Your mother sipped on her champagne. “That would be a unique one, it could be showcased.” The churning in your stomach got worse. You left the piece that looked like a sandwich aside.
“How did you learn of it?”
“Don’t you read any magazines? It was front-page news.” You had expected that the information would be published sooner or later, you hadn’t been exactly hiding it, but sooner or later was in the future not now. “You should have told me, I would have looked for some high-quality places to buy them from. There are some very beautiful exotic pieces I have seen. Mrs. Anderson, do you remember her? She couldn’t make it this time but she was at the charity event last September.” You didn’t remember her but you nodded again. “She has such a cute chinchilla hybrid and he’s so well-trained too. I hope yours were trained well, I heard it’s difficult to train them yourself. Where did you adopt them from?”
You swallowed down the lump in your throat. “An adoption center in Los Angeles,” you lied easily. Spending hours and hours every day with actors, instructing them about how each scene would seem more natural, you had picked up a few tricks. “I just really liked them and they were already a pack, I didn’t want to break them up.”
Your mother arched a single perfectly-drawn eyebrow, a skill you had sadly not inherited. “A pack? Does that actually exist? Dear, the center must have been trying to give you four hybrids instead of one. Pack,” she tried out the word and she didn’t particularly like the results. “That certainly sounds like some kind of con. What are they? Are all of them wolves?”
“No, they aren’t all wolves. And it was three hybrids, I adopted the other one later from Tennessee with Taylor.”
Taylor’s name brought a spark to your mother. “Oh, how is Taylor? Such a sweet girl, I should have invited her. I will next time.” Your mother had met Taylor exactly once during one of the few of your movie premieres she had actually attended. “Which one did you adopt from there?”
You gritted your teeth, debating how much information was wise to give your mother. “Jin, he’s a sugar glider hybrid.”
That seemed to please her. “Sugar glider? That sounds fancy. I would like to see him up close.” Like you would ever allow that to happen. “He must be a rare breed.”
“Of course, I should have expected that my daughter would decide on a rare breed,” she said as if she was congratulating herself. “I insist you bring him to the next event. I was never that interested in hybrids, too much work, but one would look good in photos.”
“Yeah, I guess he would.” You took a deep breath, it wasn’t the time to throw a tantrum like you were five years old again or puke all over your expensive dress and shoes.
The expression on your mother’s face grew somber. “But four hybrids are a lot, I don’t think I know anyone who owns that many.” She twirled the flute in her hand, waves of the golden liquor hitting the glass and bubbles rising to the surface. “After what happened with Jacob I understand you have been feeling lonely, but hybrids aren’t good substitutes for human company, dear. You can’t rely on them as you relied on him or another man.”
A waiter offered you a glass of champagne from a golden tray. You couldn’t drink too much and risk your tongue loosening but you could allow yourself one more glass to get through this. “I’m not trying to replace him. They aren’t some kind of rebound.”
By her pinched expression, she didn’t believe you. “It’s alright to look for company somewhere else when you feel lonely. I don’t want you to think I’m judging your choices, you are an adult and free to make your own decisions but I’m your mother and I’m worried. You and Jacob were together for so long, we were sure he was the one for you. He was so nice and he took care of you. Your father and I were so happy for you.”
“Not all good relationships last. People change, they grow apart.”
“That’s true. It’s difficult getting out of a relationship after being together for so many years and getting back to your feet. That’s why I understand. I understand that you don’t want to be alone right now but don’t put all of your energy into hybrids. It just isn’t the same. Whatever some people like to say, hybrids are hybrids. They are different from us, they are on a different level. You can’t have the same connection with someone you own.”
Her words continued ringing in your mind for the rest of the night. Your father soon called you to introduce you to one of his colleagues, a successful businessman and politician you had never heard of. The glass of champagne was replaced by another one. You promised yourself it was the last. The owner of a luxurious brand talked with your mother about his plan to expand to more countries and the rehearsed and repeated vision to connect the world through fashion.
You peered at the other guests, all mingling, talking, and laughing. A man only a few feet away from you slapped a girl’s ass. You couldn’t believe your eyes, stuff like that didn’t happen at an event like this. You expected a scene, shouting and screaming and everything in between. Nothing happened. The man that had his arm around her waist only laughed. That’s when you noticed the black fluffy ears on top of her head, they were the same color as her hair and easy to miss. She didn’t have a tail. A silver collar with blue stones the same shade as her dress was secured around her neck. Her shoulders were tense and her head lowered.
In any other situation, any other time, you would have done something. You would have walked up to them and said something, anything you could think of on the spot, even talked to her, made a few minutes more tolerable. You did none of those things. Your parents were there and you had avoided embarrassing them all your life.
The guilt was eating you up, wrapping around all your organs and squeezing, hissing, and calling for your attention, not letting you forget. You had done nothing. If someone had touched your hybrids like that you would have cut their hands off. But that hadn’t been your hybrid, it hadn’t been your place. It hadn’t been your place like it hadn’t been your place to adopt Jin and go against his owner, like it hadn’t been your place to get involved with Namjoon’s pack or Yoongi and Hoseok for that matter. Maybe you had been tricking yourself all along, hiding your selfishness and fear behind the pretense of “not my place”.
Your mother was wrong, you hadn’t been looking for company when you and Jacob broke up. On the contrary, you disregarded everything except work, distancing yourself from all of your friends. It was easy with how busy you were at the time. You would have continued hiding in the Castle and spent your break alone if you hadn’t asked John to stop the car that night. They were what you didn’t know you needed. You had to stop being alone first to realize how lonely you had been.
You couldn’t go back to living like that, waking up and returning to an empty house, having no warm meal and warmer hugs waiting for you. That’s what your life had been like for the longest time and you wondered how you used to live like that. The hybrids were so tangled up in your life you couldn’t find where each thread ended or started. They merged and divided, connecting you all in ways you couldn’t describe.
Taylor had asked you about any crushes when you had been in Virginia, everyone was expecting you to find a new boyfriend after six months or at least start dating but you couldn’t bring yourself to do that. No one had piqued your interest and it wasn’t for lack of meeting new people. It would feel wrong going on a date with someone when the hybrids were waiting for you back home. And that’s where the problem was; it shouldn’t feel wrong. Many people who had hybrids went on dates, couples adopted hybrids together and it should be like that for you. But it wasn’t.
Overthinking was one of your talents and you had avoided like you were being chased by wild dogs. You weren’t one to simply go with the flow but Namjoon’s lips on your own had changed your mind. You were too afraid of losing that that you hadn’t allowed yourself to analyze what you were doing, what that meant for you. Namjoon was your hybrid, you may not act like it or think of him like that but you were his owner in the papers. And it wasn’t only Namjoon, the way you cared about the hybrids was different from the way you felt about anyone else. It was all-consuming and too bright. You felt more for them than you had ever felt about Jacob and that was dangerous.
You excused yourself from the event as soon as it was proper for you to do so. Tomorrow morning you had to wake up early for work and you couldn’t stay late into the night. It was true but not the reason you left. Your mother hugged you and thanked you for coming, inviting you once again to their house in New York. She had been inviting you every time you met and you hadn’t once been to their house.
The window of the limousine was cold against your cheek, your foundation staining the glass. Maybe your mother wasn’t that wrong. You didn’t dare put a name to your feelings but you couldn’t deny that they were there. Were you really that lonely that your mind was playing tricks on you? Groaning, you knocked your head against the glass, hard enough to hear a small thud. You shouldn’t be thinking of them like that, it was wrong, so wrong.
Was it the way the world viewed hybrids messing with you, bleeding into your subconscious? They were presented as the answer to any and all desires, transformed into wet dreams. The media had the power to influence behaviors and thoughts little by little without the person noticing. You had thought you were too clever to fall victim to their molded reality. You knocked your head against the glass again, the driver must have been thinking you were crazy.
The limousine parked in front of the Castle. On other nights the lights would have been turned off by now but tonight they were all shinning, welcoming you home. You fished your keys out of your bag and unlocked the door. The lights were on in the living room in the lowest setting.
“Welcome.” You jumped, almost tumbling to the floor at being startled while taking off your heels.
“Every. Single. Time.” Namjoon laughed quietly. “How do you do this every single time?”
“I was already here, I couldn’t make any more noise.” He got up from the couch, extending a hand to you. You took it and he guided you to the couch. “Did you have a good time?”
The dress wrinkled as you pulled one foot under you but you couldn’t care less. “It was… bearable. I didn’t-” You let your head fall on the back of the couch. Seeing Namjoon up close after the night you had, looking at you with soft eyes like you held the sky in the palm of your hand, everything was coming back. What were you doing here? Your heart shouldn’t be racing like that when you were thinking about the wolf hybrid, your hands shouldn’t be itching to touch him.
“You’re here now, you can relax,” he said trailing his hand from your arm to your shoulder and up your neck. Goosebumps raised on your bare skin. “You’re home.” His breath tickled your face, his lips were so close and you wanted, you wanted… You pushed him back.
“I should go take off my makeup. I’m exhausted.”
Namjoon frowned but he didn’t question you. “Okay,” he said softly. “Your bed must be calling your name.”
“It is,” you said slipping away from him. The absence of his touch left a void inside you. “Goodnight.”
You went to your room with a heavy heart, leaving Namjoon alone in the living room.
♬♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♬♬♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♬♬♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♬♬♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♬♬♩♪♩
You found the offending magazine in a store close to the studios. Copies of it filled a whole stand. The cover was a photo of you with Jin and Jimin in front of the waffle place the day you had taken them with you to the table-reading. It really was front-page news.
In A Stunning Display of Power And Wealth Y/N Y/L/N Adopts Four Hybrids
Straight to the point, every word chosen precisely to attract attention. A display of power and wealth. Of course, that’s what sold copies. That’s what people wanted to read; how one of the richest and most famous directors of your generation was showing off their wealth and power. Hybrids continued to be a sign of money. To adopt four hybrids meant you were crazy rich, but people already knew that when similar headlines had swept all tabloids just a year ago, brought on by the outrageous purchase of the Castle.
Four pages were dedicated to you and your hybrids, completed with more photos of the same day and quotes from “insider sources”. You closed the magazine and went to the counter. The cashier scanned it without glancing at your face, which saved you some trouble. You almost thought you would have to re-enact the comedic scene of the cashier looking at the magazine, then at you, then back at the magazine, then back at you like a robot that had stopped working. You shoved the magazine in your bag, self-conscious of anyone seeing it on you, and went back to the studios.
Filming would begin very soon, which meant you were swamped with work. Everything had to be perfect because that’s the kind of director you were. A perfectionist. If it also gave you an excuse not to think about the hybrids and all of the implications of the flutter of your heart when you were with them, you weren’t complaining. And if you were a little more distant, that could easily be attributed to your work too.
Sleepless nights became too common, your head was too loud and Jimin laying next to you only made it louder.
Filming started and your schedule changed. Most days you still woke up early and returned late at night, but because each scene required a specific time of the day there were nights you came back hours after midnight. You had promised the hybrids you would take them with you on set but every morning you got in the car alone.
Fourth day of filming and unexpected rain forced you to cancel the outside shooting. You only had outside filming that day. You rushed to make adjustments and switch to scenes that could be filmed inside the studios. The crew would need time to prepare everything for the filming so you had been left with the morning off.
You unlocked the door, hiding inside the house from the rain. It hadn’t rained like that in a long time. The heavens had opened up and the rain refused to stop coming down like it was determined to turn Los Angeles into a gigantic lake. Your shoes left puddles wherever you stepped, you would have to mop the floors later. You took them off and placed them by the door. They had suffered the most, the rest of yourself was relatively dry with the exception of the lower part of your pants.
No one was attacking you with hugs as you closed the umbrella someone from the staff had handed you, the hybrids mustn’t have heard you coming in. If they had heard you, you would have had an armful of Jimin and Jungkook by now.
“Oh, hey Yoongi,” you greeted the panther hybrid coming out of the kitchen. Your tactic with Yoongi was to act like you were talking to someone who didn’t strongly dislike you. The scowls and the sneers had decreased turning into a plastic sort of indifference and that’s what made you pause. His scowl could cut you like a knife. “Are you alright?”
Yoongi stalked past you. “What are doing back?” he asked harshly.
You were taken aback for a moment. He hadn’t spoken like that to you since before you had left for Virginia. “I have the morning off because of the rain. Did something happen here?”
“Why do you care?” Yoongi stood by the staircase, his black tail unmoving behind him.
“Why would I not care?” you shot back. The rain had already ruined your plans for the day and caused you enough stress to last you for a few more, you didn’t have enough energy to deal with Yoongi. “Seriously, what happened? Is Hoseok alright?”
A low growl vibrated through the room, you almost took a step back at the threatening sound. “Don’t you speak his name. Was caring for him another way to make you feel powerful? Is this some kind of sick way for you to gain power over someone?”
You were too tired to handle this delicately as you should, you recognized that and proceeded to ignore it. “What the hell is this about? I just came back from work.”
Yoongi scoffed, it was an ugly sound. “Because you have brainwashed everyone else, don’t think I don’t see you for who you are. Have you sold our story yet? About how you saved Hoseok and nursed him back to health? I am sure that will sell many magazines. Show them all how all-powerful you are.”
Through the haze of the day, the words started to click. “You found the magazine.”
“You didn’t try to hide it.” You couldn’t remember where you had left it, it had probably ended up in the stack of magazines under the living room table. “I knew no one would take four hybrids in out of the goodness of their hearts. Did it work? Was it worth it or are you already getting bored? Maybe you should adopt a couple more. Make more headlines.”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” you gritted out.
“That’s what you’d like to think,” Yoongi sneered. “All of you are the same. Hiding in your mansions and looking for the next chance to brandish your name. It’s a constant chase of power and standing, isn’t it? And you’ll use anyone you’ll find in your way to climb higher. I know how it is. You can’t fool me. I’ve been dealing with people like you for years!”
Your pants and your wet socks were sticking uncomfortably to your skin. Your head was buzzing. It hurt because that’s everything you had been trying to avoid. Everything you had promised yourself not to become. Everything you had criticized your parents and their circle for. You weren’t like them. You had never been like them.
“You don’t know me, don’t pretend you do,” you said forcefully. “Do you really think that’s how magazines work? I just call them and tell them I want them to write about me? Put me on the front cover? That’s not it. Even if it was, why would I do that? I couldn’t care less about the power-plays you’re talking about. I’m a director and my work speaks for itself. I don’t need magazines to brandish my name because my movies and my shows are more than enough. The paparazzi saw the chance and they took it. Their goal is to sell and their headlines showcase exactly that; what people would buy. I never hid the fact that I adopted hybrids but I wasn’t flaunting it to the media either.”
“Why should I believe you?” Yoongi growled.
You sighed, a sound full of frustration. “Frankly, I don’t see what else I could do to make you believe me! I tended to Hoseok. I didn’t ask any questions. I tried hard not to cross any boundaries and to make you feel welcome. What more do you want me to do?”
“Nothing,” Yoongi said simply. “Nothing you do can change my mind.”
It was like a stone dropped in the pit of your stomach. You shouldn’t have expected anything else. Yoongi had been through a lot, that much was clear, but it was unfair that he was taking out everything on you. You were paying for the scars other humans had inflicted on him.
“I’m not who you think I am.”
“You don’t know what I think.”
“It’s pretty clear,” you muttered. “Alright, I can’t change your mind, I won’t even try. I know how to pick my battles. But if you really despise me so much then why bother? Nothing you say will change anything. Are you trying to uncover some hidden truth about me and how evil I am? Then what?”
The fur on Yoongi’s tail and ears stood on end. “I don’t care. I don’t care about you, about what you have done and what you will do as long as we’re gone from here. I don’t care for your charity or your pity. Did it ever occur to you that I never wanted to be here in the first place?”
You swallowed, willing your heart rate to calm down. “Then tell Hoseok and Jimin yourself. The keys are by the door.”
You didn’t wait for Yoongi to say anything else, turning around and locking yourself in your room. You laid down on your bed, your hands gripping your hair. The exhaustion this time was beyond physical, beyond mental. Your hands retreated from your hair, sliding down your cheeks. Your fingers were wet.
Later when Jimin and Jungkook knocked on the door, you had to open the door or risk worrying them. They jumped on the bed and snuggled close to you. You held your phone waiting for the call to go to the studios.
You didn’t face any new problems with filming. The actors were all incredible, seemingly one with their characters. You did a lot of filming at 300 Fox Way, the psychic’s house with its mystic aura and weirdly compelling assortment of objects. You instructed the actors, talked with the crew, and analyzed the script down to each comma. Focusing on anything other than Yoongi’s words and your hybrids had turned into an art form.
The sleepless nights didn’t cease, you and the moonlight had become good friends. Jimin’s visits to your room thinned out. He had noticed you pulling away. You didn’t hug him anymore or kissed his forehead before falling asleep, you couldn’t come to terms with doing that after everything that had happened. You had thought that maybe you would sleep better alone but that had been proved false soon after.
You got out of bed for the fourth night in a row. Every position was uncomfortable. Keeping your steps light you left the room. The large house was eerie at night, the living room area with its glass walls looked endless, combining the actual living room, the dining room, and what the real estate agents had called the family room that was really just another living room.
You couldn’t stay in your room on nights like these, it was too contained. The night air on your skin sent shivers down your frame as you walked out on the balcony. It was two days before the full moon and its glow illuminated the world.
What had you gotten yourself into? You wished you could go back to that morning and decline your mother’s invitation to the gala. Maybe, just maybe, then you would be able to sleep, your head wouldn’t be fighting you at every turn, at every chance.
Little pieces of moonlight shimmered and danced on the lake. The calmness of the world was a stark contrast to the mess in your head. You remembered how Jungkook had looked at the lake in awe that very first night, you had noticed then that he looked at Jimin the same way. You wondered how you looked at them and if anyone had noticed.
The moon had no answers for you.
Two golden eyes were looking up at you from the garden, they shone like the fires that had been extinguished earlier. Namjoon tilted his head, inviting you down. A weird sense of deja vu took over. You had lived something very similar before, a night that had changed so much.
You shouldn’t go. You should stay where you were, alone and safe, away from fluttering heartbeats and dangerous warmth. But the night had its way of calling out the risky nature of people. The thrill was so much more enticing when darkness ruled.
Climbing down the stairs, you kept your steps quiet. You never knew which sound would wake up the hybrids. Namjoon was standing by the flower bushes close to the curtain of vines that lead into the forest. He was wearing a dark blue pair of pajama pants and a simple black T-shirt.
“What are you doing awake so late?” you whispered, like everything around you had ears.
“I could ask you the same thing.”
You shook your head. “I have trouble sleeping, remember?”
Namjoon had caught you a few times wandering the house at night, he was the only one who knew that a lot of nights sleep didn’t come to you willingly. His own nightly adventures were more complicated.
“Why are you awake?” you asked him again. “Please don’t tell me you smelled distress or something again or I’ll freak.”
Namjoon chuckled, you had missed it. Keeping your distance meant you only saw them for barely two hours every day. They all tried to not make too much noise with you in the constant mood of ‘tired and gloomy’.
“No, that’s not it.” He looked up, over the trees. “It’s the full moon.”
“You have to be kidding me. Do you turn into a wolf too?”
Namjoon raised his hands in surrender, his dimples on full display. “I’m joking, I’m joking. I couldn’t sleep either and I like being outside at night like this. It’s peaceful.”
You couldn’t disagree with that. There was something alluring about the quiet of the night. You would describe yourself more as a morning person than a night owl but both of them were true, waking up early for work then staying up late for it too.
“Are you alright?” The smile had fallen from his lips.
You squirmed under the intensity of his gaze. “I’m just tired, that’s all. Filming takes a lot out of me.”
Namjoon sighed. “Are you sure that’s all there is? You have been acting differently, did you think we wouldn’t notice?”
You knew they would notice but you had hoped they would think it was because of your work. Work did take a lot out of you but it also used to be the reason you were so much happier returning home.
“It has been going on for too long. You don’t spend any time outside your room or your office if it isn’t to eat. You are avoiding us. Jimin and Jungkook stopped scenting you because they think they’re making you uncomfortable.”
“It isn’t- They aren’t making me uncomfortable. I’m just tired from work and I don’t-” you tried to deny it but you fell short of excuses.
“You were working before too, but it wasn’t like this,” he pointed out. “You were tired then too. Some nights you came back and I could smell the exhaustion around you like a disease. But you smiled when Jimin and Jungkook ran up to you and didn’t let you go, you laughed at Jin laughing at his own jokes. You came to me when it got too loud here.” He pointed to your head.
“We weren’t filming then.” It was a weak attempt but you had to make it.
Namjoon regarded you carefully. Beams of moonlight got tangled in his gray hair turning it silver. He looked at home right there at that moment, close to the trees with the moon shining on him. He was every bit of magic you had ever witnessed.
“This started before filming did. I knew there was something wrong when you came back from the gala. Something happened there,” Namjoon concluded. “I should have come with you.”
You shook your head vigorously. Imagining him next to you while your mother spoke about hybrids like that was torture. “No, you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t have been with me.” You paused to compose yourself. “It wasn’t good, it was really bad actually. It wasn’t the gala itself, there some interesting people and… My mother…” You took a deep breath. “I don’t think I like my parents very much,” you admitted.
It was hard to say after years of half-hearted attempts at mending your relationship with them. All those years apart you had become very different people. You had trouble remembering what they were like before they left you in your aunt’s care. You couldn’t see any traces of them in yourself, you didn’t enjoy what they enjoyed, your interests and priorities, the way you viewed the world were very different.
In the past few days, you had grown to hate your mother’s voice in your head but you had a feeling that it had been much longer than that. The only difference was that before, you had been able to ignore it.
Namjoon came closer, his hand touching your palm waiting for you to make the first move. You took his hand in yours, laying your head on his chest. “That’s alright. You don’t have to like them, no one is forcing you to.”
“But they are my parents.”
He stroked your back gently. “It doesn’t matter, that isn’t enough of a reason.”
“They aren’t bad people.”
“They don’t need to be bad people for you to dislike them.”
You stayed like that for a few moments, taking in his presence. You had missed being in his arms so much, like an ache that couldn’t go away.
He stopped stroking your back, cupping your cheek and pulling back so you were facing each other. “I’m always here for you. I don’t care about anything else but seeing you happy. I’m here.”
“I missed you,” you admitted like it was a secret.
Namjoon smiled softly. “I missed you too.” His thumb caressed your lower lip. There was a tingling sensation all over your skin. “Can I?” he asked just like the very first time.
You let out a shuddering breath. “Should we be doing this?”
“Do you want to?” he asked carefully.
You bit your lip before nodding. He leaned down connecting your lips. It was soft and careful, all the longing and hurt of the past days poured into the kiss. You pulled him closer and he came willingly. You could hear your heartbeat in your ears.
An awful laugh cut through the night. You pulled away from Namjoon like you had been burnt. Yoongi was one with the night, dark like a shadow.
“So this is it? Is this why you adopted them all? So you can have your pick when you’re in the mood?” The expression on his face was cruel, twisted up in disgust.
Namjoon growled, his sharp canines shinning in the moonlight. In that moment, Namjoon looked more dangerous than ever before. “Shut your mouth.”
“I see she has turned you into her dog. How long did it take to tame you?”
You held Namjoon back before he could lunge at the panther. You were afraid that if you let him go, there would blood on their clothes. “Don’t.”
Yoongi took a tense step forward. “That’s right, listen to your owner. Is that what she has turned all of you into? Her toys? Just for a roof over your head and food?”
“Shut the fuck up,” Namjoon growled. “Don’t you dare talk about her like that. You have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.”
Yoongi clenched his fists. There was anger and something else you couldn’t see in the night amidst your panic. “I knew it. I knew no one did what you did without any kind of agenda. Seems like the magazine was right, at least in part. You can’t fool me, even if you managed to fool everyone else.”
With that he was gone, like he was never there.
You couldn’t breathe. Your hand was still wrapped around Namjoon’s wrist and you couldn’t breathe. You counted in your head. One, two, three…
When Namjoon tried to touch your shoulder, you pulled away. “I’m going back to my room,” you said. Your voice sounded shaky to your own ears. Namjoon called out to you but you didn’t stop. He didn’t try to touch you again.
Please comment and reblog it motivates me to keep writing
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The Sky Captain
full name. Farris Van-Hassel
pronunciation. Fair is
deity. Halone - The Fury
languages. Common, Hingan, and Eorzea.
hair colour. Grey Hair
eye colour. Heterochromia - Light Green ® and Seafoam Green (l)
skin tone. Deep tan.
body type. lean muscle
Accent. a whisper-like voice.
Dominant hand. She can use both hands., mostly left handed though.
Scars. She has a small scar over her nose that visible to the naked eye. Her right eye is scared and she is somewhat blind.
Accessories. She carries with her, guns, her books of arcane magic, potions, and her sense of humor.
most noticeable features. Her eyes because they both two shades of green, however her right eye is scared from the brow to the just below the lower lash line. Also cannot miss her tattoos bright red roses, monarch butterflies, diamonds running up and down her body.
Farris life story its a long one but lets keep it short for this. Her mother was an Elezen slave to the Garlean empire. She had Farris to an Garlean upper rank soldier. However, Farris was given to the orphanage even though her parents are still alive and well. Farris is a mistake to her father.
Her mother on the other hand never saw it. Farris never knew her parents. So she lived with orphanage until she was about eleven summers old. That’s when she ran off to the port city of Limsa Lominsa. She did what should could survived. Then she joined the pirates off the bays of Costa Del Sol and Aleport. From there she made her way up to Sky Captain. She owns her own ship and sails the skies looking for the next adventure and booty whatever that be and she can find.
occupation. She studies magic, witchcraft, piracy, weaponry, potion maker, and likes to conjure up new magic.
current residence. Living here and there. Couch surfing at her friends places, living in in the Inns and Taverns until she gets her airship back. The Silent Princess her ships name. She finally got her own place in the Mists. Good job Farris you made it.
relationship status. She doesn’t use labels.
financial status. She has to fight tooth and nail to make it.
weapons. guns, her body, charm, wit, and integrity.
vices. Booze, gambling,
SEX & ROMANCE.
sexual orientation. Farris doesn’t use anything standard labels. It is what it is.
preferred Emotional Role. Only when she is close to someone. She will let you know.
preferred Sexual Role. See above.
turn On’s. tall men, brute types, banter, dancing, self-confidence,
turn Off’s. clingy, prudes, self-loathing, whiners,
love Language. Caressing, holding hands, dates, 1:1, quality not quantity, not having to say much to express how you feel, lazy summer,
relationship Tendencies. She never was taught anything so she does what she feels like is right. She does like one on one dates. She does like to hang out with friends see how things goes from there.
hobbies to pass the time. She loves to make wine, loves to collect the strange and unusual, gamble, fight, and has a passion for brewing her own potions.
mental illness. She some PSTD, ADHD and has some times where she is spaced out.
physical illness. none
left or right brain. she is able to use both sides of her brain. Farris a kid wonder.
self-confidence level. She is strong, stands on her own to feet, she is not a brat, her confidence shows when you are around her for awhile. She has her insecurities for sure. She doesn’t need to flaunt her body to get action. Just a smile and wave.
feel free to send anonymous or direct asks for further information
Piracy: Living the good life of Pirates, finding things to plunder and pillage.
Weaponsmithing: She is a smither in training. She also likes to trade for services and goods.
Beach life: Costa De Sol. She spent most of her life living on a ship but costal towns such Costa De Sol, Aleport are her mainstays.
Garlean RP: anything to with magiteck/ the empire, if you are a runaway. Still working with / or around the Garlean Empire.
- i am over the age of 35, my personal life is my business, I will share it when I feel comfortable.
- i am on the Crystal Data Center- mateus.
- pls don’t hit me up asking for erp and if you’re only interested in rp if there’s a ship possibility look elsewhere.
I am kid wonder.
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you’ve got more poison than sugar - part ii
part i part iii AO3
Fandom: Call Of Duty
Pairing: Russell Adler x Bell
Warnings: some mild sexual content and swearings, like usual
Author’s note: okay, i know this one's a little short but i promise there'll be more coming on the next chapter, i promise.
The first time Bell showed her face at Langley, it was two weeks after the program. She wore beige, a ruffled high-neck blouse that made her hazel eyes, like charred nut shells, hard and just about indestructible, popped.
She stood at the lobby, regarding the place like she’d waltzed into a wrong banquet hall, the band played in the background, chandeliers dripping like arctic icicles, the bar drenched in opulent gold.
She didn’t belong here.
But Adler met her there, anyway, Hudson in tow.
“Have I ever done something to him?” Bell asked after the rather short-lived meeting, squinting at the vacant spot Hudson left them. She’d yielded very few words. When she did, it’d been all business, crisp, so it surprised him now to hear her uttering something with more than 2 syllables.
“What do you mean?”
“Have I deliberately done something to piss him off?” she elaborated, quieter, but the glower remained.
Adler carefully studied her behind his tinted shades. It still troubled him to a degree that he couldn’t read her. Like she locked herself off. They say eyes are the window to the soul, but thus far, he saw nothing. Fuck the poets.
“No. At least, not as far as I can tell,” he grits out, curious to see where she was heading with the conversation. “Why?”
Bell hummed, but seemingly unconvinced. A beat, then: “He doesn’t seem to like me that much.”
You don’t belong here, he thought and his face went cagier, back stiffer, but no doubt intrigued. Very much so by this mysteriously curious creature.
Perceptive and diamond-sharp intelligent, he pondered. They might have secured the bag after all.
“It's not you. That’s just as warm and fuzzy you’ll see Hudson with everyone, trust me,” he uttered, hoping that she bought the fib. She did. At least, he thought so. “Come on, Bell, we’ve got a job to do.”
Adler finds her outside the garage the next night, smoking alone, reading in secret. The ground is still wet from the rain, straggling cloud wisps and every artery of this place fucking freezes his bones. Bell ditches her gloves inside, but has her coat on, the collar popped up like antennae.
"You aren't cold?" he asks when she doesn’t notice him. Too engrossed in her own bubble. She does look better, though. Park is right about that one at least.
"I'm good," she answers without looking up. "Am I needed for something inside?"
"No, just thought I could use some fresh air."
He’s studying her, raking her from head to toe. Suddenly, he doesn’t care if she would notice him. Then he steps closer, standing next to her, lifting his cigarette to his mouth.
“What are you reading?”
There’s something about this secret element to her that has him on his toes. Everything about her is curious- frustratingly curious, careful, as Bell rolls her neck to meet him. In the low light, she looks quite new, he learns. And his eyes beg for him to linger.
“Amerika. Kafka,” she says. “Have you read it?”
A subtle shake of his head and, “No.” While Bell nods, silent, like she doesn't know what else to say to him. “Should I? Give it a read?” Adler adds, just to keep the conversation going.
She shrugs, a cloud of smoke escaping her nostrils. “I can’t say that Kafka is ever a favorite of mine, but he really is sui generis. And Amerika is probably the most approachable of all his works? It’s funny too.”
“I never thought I’d hear Kafka and funny in the same sentence.”
“Yeah, well, it’s very subtle. And if only you can understand his nightmarish sense of humor, that is,” she explains, shrugging again, like she’s embarrassed. “I don’t know, maybe you’ll like it.”
Frankly, he hates Kafka. He hates his vatic, dead-eye vision of the world; that acute sense of hopelessness clinging onto his main protagonists like vines, but Adler finds himself nodding, anyway.
“Sure, lend me your copy once you're done with it." If she’s surprised by his answer, she does not tell her. But Adler thinks she’s smiling though- just the barest quirk of her lips, but it’s enough for him to know that she appreciates the gesture.
A brief, unmapped silence ensues.
"I'm sorry, by the way."
Adler arches an eyebrow at her. "For what?"
Bell slots a bookmark into the book, closes it, frowns at it.
"For yesterday. I, uh… I feel like I was being insolent to you.”
He looks sidelong at Bell and tries to read her. Her expression is raw and open, a painting visible through a small tear in the paper. For some reason, that catches him by surprise.
“You already apologized, you know?” Adler teases lamely.
“I know, but still it was uncalled for and very unprofessional of me. You’re my CO, not some random BND agent I’m forced to work with. I shouldn’t have said that," she mumbles softly and sighs, world-weary, heavy, sounding like a woman twice her age. "It will not happen again. I promise you."
"Hey, consider it water under the bridge, kid. You’re in a rather rough place right now, I wouldn’t hold it against you,” he tells her, fond. “What matters is you’re alright. We can’t catch Perseus if you’re green around the gills.”
Her eyes meet his. He meets her back.
“Thank you.” And Bell rotates her body to face him. Mussed brunette hair and sharp cheekbones, mouth kinked up in sympathy as she says, “Is this what you have to put up with all these years?"
He summons a smirk. "With you? More or less."
And then the woman does the unexpected; Bell laughs. She fucking laughs. Delicate sounding, like a tinkling glass, petals wrapped in satin, moonbeams through frosted windows. It dies, too soon to his liking. Adler privately lets the sound of her laughter replays in his head, as if trying to pocket it.
It’s only after Ukraine when he discovers that she smells different. That wintry floral smell of hers that he’s accustomed to is commingling with something else.
Now, there's music in the air.
Sims does this sometimes, bringing his Zenith Trans-Oceanic, or as he would call it the Tranny, to the safehouse and they would tune in to international radio stations. Cream's Sunshine Of Your Love is playing- or more specifically, their song is 5 seconds away from being cut off abruptly by the DJ. The song reminds him of Vietnam, regrettably. The root of all madness.
“Next up, is my favorite ever track-to-track transition on an album. This is Pink Floyd’s Brain Damage and-”
Adler stops whatever it is he’s scribbling. He sits up, ramrod straight.
“Mind switching to another station?” he asks suddenly, glances up at Sims quickly who, as Adler suspected, is giving him a rather odd look.
"I've always hated Pink Floyd." Only because he’s out of reason. Only because he can feel Bell’s confused stare, searing into his temple. Only because it’s the only way of escaping this. "Change it, please."
Sims opens his mouth. The unspoken: how about that time in Denver?
The telling jerk of Adler’s lips warns him not to ask.
The other man clamps his mouth shut, seemingly gets the message and switches to a different station. He never brings his radio again.
Frank Woods is exactly how Adler saw him last time- or since Hue City, that is: tigerish and intimidating- a kick in the head voice, a hurricane in the shape of a man and he is making his way to him right now.
“Can I talk to you for a sec?”
Woods shakes his head. "Not here."
Adler looks at him at last now, curiosity creeping over him. He then stubs his cigarette, nods once and leads them both to his office.
Once they’re inside, he locks the door, secures the blinds.
“What is it?” Adler takes a seat behind his desk. Woods remains standing. He paces around the room, a hand on his bearded chin.
“What the fuck is going on with your girl?”
Adler doesn’t know which one is worse, the fact that Woods manages to sniff out something going on with Bell or that he just addresses her as his girl. Either way, it's bad. Either way, Adler should have expected the former issue. Woods is astute as he is dangerous. There's a reason why the CIA gave the green light for Mason and Hudson to save him in Da Nang all those years ago, after all.
"What about her?" Adler asks, even-toned, giving nothing away. Even though he is in the ‘need to know’ column regarding Bell’s brainwashing, this is something Adler initially wishes he could keep under wraps.
“Don’t bullshit me, Adler. She has that look on her face- I see it in her eyes. The exact same look Mason has been wearing since ‘Nam,” Woods tells him, point-blank, never being the one to settle for niceties. After Hudson, Adler thinks he simply can’t tolerate the agency anymore.
“I saw it all, remember? Had a fucking front row seat to his relapse and shit, so don’t tell me she’s alright. Not when it looks like she could snap out of it any moment.” Woods has his hands on the table and looks at him dead-on. “Tell me I’m right. Tell me there is something wrong with her.”
He regards the other man coolly. Woods is no longer asking. Adler is out of move.
“You're right,” he answers simply, eventually, tipping his king over on its side, stopping the clock. "Did you talk to Hudson regarding this?"
"Since when did I report to Agent stick-up-his-ass? Fuck no. That's why I came straight to you.” Woods heaves a heavy sigh, like he’s the one with all these burdens. “Now, what the hell’s wrong with her?”
“She’s suffering from brain damage."
“Shit. All that ‘cause of MK-Ultra?”
“One of the few factors that caused it, yes.”
His mouth goes flat. "How bad is it?”
“Bad. We’re trying to minimize for any collateral as we speak, at least until we finally get our hands on Perseus. But she… she might not make it.” Adler leans back in his chair, like his body feels heavy all of the sudden.
Woods nods. Uncharacteristically silent, looking strangely contemplative, sympathetic even. That should be categorized as an oddity itself, Woods and him, two proud Americans, Vietnam veterans and she’s just another red, another blood they would indubitably sacrifice for their country and they’re sympathizing with her? Yet something deep inside Adler, something resonates like the throat of a storm, sinks its teeth into him, confounds him, every time he thinks of her.
Woods crosses his arms over his chest, glances at the door, as if someone might knock anytime soon, then back to him.
"So, what's the plan?" He quickly adds, "if things go south, what are you gonna do?"
"It won't come to that. She'll come through, I know it," Adler counters, suddenly defensive. Whatever the use of his tone indicates, Woods ignores it.
"You sure about that?”
"Are you doubting me?” Adler spits out a retort. A quiet fury grasps him tight, but he forces himself to keep under a tight lid.
Woods holds his hands up in mock surrender.
"Look, I’m just saying, that woman is a loose cannon- you can’t be too careful."
"We have everything under control, Woods. And this is the least of your worry right now."
"Alright, okay. If you say you and Park have her contained already, then fine. I trust you,” he says and heads for the door.
“Oh, and one more thing,” Woods says again. He’s facing the door, back to him. “Whatever happens, keep Mason in the dark about any of this."
“Of course. He isn’t on a need to know basis from the very start, you know that.”
"Good. ‘cause the less he knows the better." Woods pauses like he's constructing an entire sentence in his head. He peers over his shoulder. "I mean it. He’s been through enough. I don’t know which ground you crawled up from, but up here, some people implement this kind of civility to other people.”
The words sting, yet Adler stares back at him, seemingly unfazed. "What, you’re saying that I’m simply heartless?”
“Nah,” Woods says, satirical and sardonic. “You’re just Adler.” And with that, he’s gone.
It was eight o'clock on a mid-September evening and Adler found himself coming home to an empty house.
His wife had already left a week prior, crossing the country with a self-proclaimed film critic she'd met at the premiere of The Shining last summer, but Adler didn't know that yet.
He went to the kitchen. Dropped his suitcase, pulled off his coat and scarf. He reeked of cigarettes, cheap air freshener and jet fuel- air travel is simply sickening, in terms of its cost and smell- and in a desperate need of a hot bath.
"Honey?" He switched the lights on. She wasn't here. So Adler headed upstairs, to their room where they would rest their bones every night for the past 15 years. The door was slightly ajar. He expected to see her sleeping from under the duvet, hair splaying all over the pillow.
What he found was a folded note on his bedside table. He stared at it, his heart at his throat, fearing the worst, the unimaginable. He picked the letter and unfolded it.
Live or die, but don't poison everything .
His head did pirouette. So, this was it. This was what it felt like, he thought.
Not heartbreak, not sadness. But a collapse of the world- his world and all he could do was watch from the sidelines.
Adler stares at the words now, sleeves rolled up, anatomical heart. The paper is fading, wrinkled and it smells like smoke and decay and tears, capped with something akin to regret.
It has his name on it, begins with it, and ends with an apology, written in cursive. Like microscopic snakes dancing around his peripheral vision, hissing in his ears.
Live or die, but don't poison everything.
No one likes to be told that they are sick, but Russell Adler has learned to acknowledge it, embrace it, weaponize it. Her words mean zero shit to him now. You can't condemn someone to the depths of hell when it's the only place he's known all his life.
So, he takes the letter for the last time, remembering how the ink used to smudge his calloused fingers, crumples it up, that satisfying crunch dins in his palm, and tosses it into the fireplace.
The paper crackles. Good fucking riddance. It really takes all this time for him to grow the guts, apparently, and he just stares and stares as the fire begins to engulf everything, wiping away his past failure.
He promises he would never fail again, at anything. No matter what the cost, failure is never going to be an option.
Bell arrives at the garage with frantic eyes, a half-burnt cigarette between her lips and uncharacteristically late. Color peppering her cheeks- red, like an apple bitten into.
“I’m sorry, I overslept,” is her excuse, but she’s looking at the room strangely, he thinks, almost like she’s seeking a particular face.
When she makes her way to her desk, when she whizzes past him by the board and her planet is entering his orbit for the first time in the morning, Adler, as if by accident or by design, inhales deeply.
His breath snags.
She smells like someone else.
(Someone fucked her last night)
The telephone rings in the distance.
“Sims. Yeah, sure, let me get him. Hold on.” He puts the call on hold. “Doc, you might wanna take this one.”
(Someone was in her bed; beside her, above her, under her. Inside her. He imagines her fingers digging into the mattress as they rolled her onto her stomach, mouth trailing down the ladder of her spine. Their breaths intermingled in the seraphic glow of her hotel room)
Adler mechanically crosses the room and picks the receiver.
(If he herds her away from prying eyes and pushes down the collar of her shirt, would he see the evidence there, taunting him? If he kisses her, would he taste them instead of her? )
"Perhaps," he says over the phone, his face hard. "But my decision is final. I'm sending Woods and Mason to Yamantau. They'll leave in a few days."
(Did they make her come?)
"Of course. Why do you think I chose them for this mission?"
(If she made them?)
“Most likely, but we're prepared for this- you know we are," Adler says, customer service polite, an old recording on a playback. "Right. Well, that concludes the matter then. Yeah, you have a wonderful day to yourself.”
Adler hangs up the telephone. Breathes out a sigh. He pinches the bridge of his nose for a few good seconds, before remembering that he has an audience.
"Oof. Sounds rough," comments Sims, dark eyes slanting in concern.
(Maybe she likes that, rough. Teeth biting the back of her shoulder, that sweet juxtaposition of pain and pleasure coursing through their veins, his hand curling around her throat from behind as she pants and mewls like-)
(But this isn’t about him. Never about him)
"That's one way to put it."
Someone else fucked her. It shouldn't leave an acrid taste in his mouth, but it does.
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