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#I love how she is welcomed in Cole's inner circle
morganaseren · 2 months ago
Hallo hallo. I wanted to ask you about Blackwall and Niahm's interactions, was she ever suspicious of blackwall? She travelled with her sister and Alistair, has it occured to her that blackwall might have been faking it?
Also loving the new Bethany/Niahm AUs. Just generally gushing on your work. I'll be on my way now, just dropping by to let you know how awesome you are.
Oh, hey! It’s you again! :D Welcome back!
Well, per Niamh’s canon Inquisition run, Blackwall was originally a part of her main party along with Dorian and Cole up until they reached Skyhold, so that’s a period of roughly... 4-6 months where she got to know him. I tend to headcanon the event’s of the game take up close to two years minimum to complete and the election of Divine Victoria takes place toward the very end of 9:42 Dragon.
Niamh’s not a Warden, of course, so she can’t sense that he doesn’t have the tainted blood so typical of them from the Joining. Upon their first meeting, she thought well of him. Blackwall was willing to help people despite the absolute chaos of the world around them, and so she respected that. However, it’s perhaps a bit of her own fondness toward the Order (due to both her sister and Alistair having been a part of it) that she doesn’t immediately sense that something seems off about his story regarding his whereabouts during the Blight and afterward.
I’ll go ahead and spoil you a bit and say that she she doesn’t suspect him until they get to the Winter Palace. There’s a bit of conversation you can eavesdrop on, where a drunken noble is talking to Blackwall and says that he knows him but can’t recall exactly how or when. Although Blackwall responds that he’s simply a Grey Warden, the noble is convinced that he recognized him elsewhere once upon a time but wanders off to get more wine all the same.
Following that, Niamh idly questions him about his thoughts regarding their evening so far and what must be done to secure Orlais’ future, and then she casually works in a question of how he received his Silverite Wings of Valor. Let’s just say more than a few alarm bells go off when he’s being especially evasive about any details regarding it.
As the events of the Winter Palace canonically occur for her after Adamant Fortress, she’s not exceedingly fond of the Grey Wardens right now because she feels they desecrated her sister’s memory with their actions. That she might have been lied to all that time by someone claiming to be a part of their Order doesn’t sit well with her either, so she waits to see if he might come clean about it, but when he doesn’t, her doubt swirls.
She ends up going to Leliana about her suspicions sometime before the whole reveal about Grand Duchess Florianne.
Although Leliana had also long been suspicious of Blackwall’s claims (there’s dialogue between her and an agent saying that there’s conflicting reports regarding his whereabouts during the Blight), since he and Niamh seemed to get along and wasn’t doing anything to harm/undermine her friend, she saw no reason to press further. Still, seeing how Niamh is clearly upset, Leliana promises to bait him with some information to lure him out.
...Honestly, it bothers me more than I can say that the game implied the Spymaster of the Inquisition wasn’t already aware that Blackwall was not who claimed to be and somehow managed to steal information off her desk (without her or her agents being aware of it) regarding the upcoming execution of one of his former men.
I swear, it’s like in the Mass Effect series, where everyone within Shepard’s inner circle knows that Liara is the Shadowbroker. Stop trying to imply they’re incompetent with their respective jobs, Bioware! D:<
...but I digress.
Anyway, the only reason I’m revealing this so early at all is because the scene in question is honestly such a small blip compared to everything else that occurs in the rest of that chapter. The one following immediately after that involves Blackwall’s trial, and Niamh’s not happy to say the least. :P
But, yeah, there you go. As we’ve learned in the latest chapter of OtSttCA, Niamh has more kindness within her than the world will ever give her credit for. As such, she tries to give people the benefit of the doubt, but the world has a way of casting such benevolence to the side... :’(
And I’m glad you’ve been enjoying these little AUs! They take my mind off the sadness that I have to inflict on Niamh. Lol. :P
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laudedliar · 5 months ago
♠: One character adjusting the other’s jewelry/neck tie/ etc.
♡: Accidentally falling asleep together
Cullrian, but i couldnt pick just one prompt so you're welcome to pick your fave or do both or whatever works for you :)
This is the falling asleep.
The adjustment will be happier, I promise. :)
Dunno why I like angst.  But I sure seem to.  Awkward.
~*~*~*~*~
Adamant.  Once a bastion against the dark evils from the underbelly of the world, was now a ruined shell of it’s once glorious past.  Cullen walked along the broken battlements and stone walkways, a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach as he stepped over more dead Warden’s and Inquisition soldiers.  If what Solas said was true, their memory would forever be locked in a ferocious battle between the two.  To be enacted again and again by spirits of the Fade.  It was a tragedy that would be written and retold for millennia henceforth.
Cullen knelt at the side of an unblinking, lifeless Corporal.  He reached down and let his fingers close the woman’s eyes, so she may rest peacefully in the next life.
“May the Maker take you by his side.”  He murmured, pressing a kiss to his fingertips before laying them gently along the woman’s cold brow.  Slowly standing from where he knelt, Cullen continued his weary walk, kneeling at each of the dead he passed (Warden and Inquisition alike) and sent his pleading prayer for their souls to the Maker.
He was tired.  Exhausted.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.
He hadn’t noticed he was weeping until a Chantry Sister approached him, her own robes reddened along the bottom hem from the gore she waded through as she blessed the dead in turn.
“Please, Commander.  Go see a healer and take some rest.”  The young woman reached out to touch his cheek, a thumb running along the dark circle under his eye.  “We shall see these poor souls to the Maker’s side.”
Cullen nodded and stepped away from the woman, one hand roughly wiping at the cooling tear tracks along his cheeks.  “Thank you, sister.  Please, if you can save anything that we could send back to families...”
“Of course, Commander.”  The Sister walked with him down the stairs until she was certain he was stumbling through the rubble back to the camp that dotted the open expanse in front of the large, crumbling keep of yore.  Their large battering rams and trebuchets stood stark against the eve darkened horizon.  Soldiers were already put to task to begin dismantling the war machines for use in the funeral pyres.
Funeral pyres that would undoubtedly burn from dawn to dusk and on until the morning broke once more.
He was tired.  So tired he could feel it in his core.  A bone deep weariness.  The healer’s tents were collected nearest the keep.  People rushing too and fro, cries from the wounded and dying filled the air with a melancholy chorus.  It sent shivers rushing down Cullen’s spine and his feet detoured away from the wailing howls.
His wounds were minor, a few scrapes and cuts, a couple bruises.  Nothing that wouldn’t heal on it’s own given time and a little care.
The camp was somber.  Eerily quiet for a victorious army.  A few gathered soldiers shared skins of wine but most sat in silent contemplation of their hearth fires.  Many of the soldiers were Ferelden.  And Ferelden’s remembered the bravery of the Grey Wardens.  They remembered the horrors of the blight.
And they felt the loss of Warden Alistair Theirin acutely.  The man, after all, had been with the Hero of Ferelden.  Had fought beside him.  Had been there when the Hero died to save them all.  And the Warden had, in turn, sacrificed himself as well.
Heroes.
His throat tightened painfully and Cullen turned away from the fires of his subordinates to walk the lonely path up to the Inner Circle’s tents.  Inquisitor Cadash sat quietly, staring into the fire before her own tent.  Blackwall sat beside the small dwarven warrior, holding her hand and whispering soft sentiments to the stout woman.  Leliana was nowhere to be seen and he could not fault her.  She had known Warden Alistair.  Had fought and bled with him.  She had been in love with the Hero of Ferelden and the two had spent many nights in SkyHold laughing and reminiscing about their lost friend.
He skirted around the Inquisitor’s fire pit as well, not wishing to speak with either warrior pondering the flickering flames.  The rest of the companions were interspersed through the tents.  Most were weary from battle and huddled around their own fires or already in their tents.  The Chargers were softly singing dirges for the lives lost that day, Iron Bull drinking from a large skin as he hummed along with his companies melancholy songs.
Cole was perched upon a chair just outside of the circle of light, watching them all drink and sing.  His curious blue eyes flickered towards Cullen as the ex-Templar shuffled past to his own tent.
“Everyone is sad.  I cannot help them all.”  The boy said, drawing the blonde’s attention to him.
“It is impossible to help everyone, Cole.”  He answered, shoulders slumping at the admission.
“But it is possible to help some.”  The boy whispered as his eyes searched Cullen’s haggard face.
“Yes.”
“I want to help.”
Cullen watched the boy as his distant gaze slowly moved back out over the sprawling army camp.  “Good night, Cole.”  He muttered when the boy didn’t continue his thoughts out loud.
“Good night.  Commander Cullen.”  Cole replied, his tone distant.
A raised chorus of singing followed in his wake as he stepped into his tent.  The heavy fabric dampened the mournful chorus as it fell closed and Cullen brushed a hand over his face, wiping away a flaking crust of sweat, dirt, and blood.  He paused, hand resting over his mouth, as he noticed a hunched form on the edge of his sleeping roll in the dim candle light.
“Dorian.”  He called softly, surprised to see the mage sitting in his tent.  He would have expected the man to be with the Charger’s or the Inquisitor.  Not here.  Not inside the Commander’s personal accommodations.
Red rimmed grey eyes blinked up at him and the mage nodded slightly.  “Commander.”
“What are you doing?”  Cullen asked, a hint of anger on the edge of his words.
The Tevinter wrapped his arms around his chest and shrugged, glancing away to the far corner of the tent.  “I am... Hiding.  I figured no one would look for me here.  And had not expected you to return for some time.”
“I see.”  Cullen murmured softly, unsure exactly how to approach the situation.  He shifted foot to foot for a moment before sighing.  “And why are you hiding, exactly?”  He asked as he began to toe off his blood soaked boots.
“Mostly to be alone.”
Cullen kicked the discarded footwear to the side and began to unbuckle his cuirass.  “Well, I’m afraid this is my tent.  If you wish privacy, perhaps your own would be better suited?”
Dorian’s hands clutched at his upper arms and the mage shivered as if chilled.  He didn’t answer Cullen’s sharp retort straight away, instead remaining huddled on the edge of the sleeping roll as the blonde removed his armor with a groan.  When the Tevinter still hadn’t moved by the time Cullen stood in his shirt and pants, the ex-Templar considered the man.
“Dorian.”  He began, curious to the glazed far off gaze upon his counterpart’s face.
“Would you have made me Tranquil?”  The other asked suddenly.
“I - What?”  Cullen asked, eyebrows drawing together in concern.
“Do you believe me weak?  Susceptible to - to temptations?”  Grey eyes shadowed by a furrowed brow looked up.  There was fear plainly written in the creases marring Dorian’s face.
Cullen frowned, pondering the man’s questions.  No one had spoken yet of what had taken place when they’d fallen into the Fade.  His teeth worried the inside of his cheek as he considered his answer.  There had been a time he would have absolutely argued for Dorian’s tranquility.  The man was brash, far too intelligent for his own good, and had a cutting tongue.
But time had tempered Cullen’s anger and impetuous desire to see any mage in shackles.  He knew the ultimate price of such enmity.  And he had vowed to see more than just a mage’s abilities.  To see them for the people they were.
Carefully he stepped towards the man and knelt down to sit on the bedroll next to the mage.  “No.  I do not believe you are any of those things.”  He finally answered.
Dorian seemed to relax with his assurance.  The man let out a shaky breath and nodded carefully, as if the motion would cause his head to roll from his shoulders if he moved too quickly.  They sat in silence for a while, each absorbed in their own thoughts.
Cullen once more found himself reflecting on Kirkwall.  Thinking of all the Rites of Tranquility he had personally overseen.  Thinking of the pleading, helpless men and women.  Remembering as their struggles against their binds would suddenly... Cease.  How they would stare cow-eyed at the surrounding Templars afterward, awaiting their orders.
No.  No he could not imagine Dorian in such a state.  Not without feeling the crushing weight of guilt at all those who were.
“You may stay here.  If you wish.”  He murmured, fingers plucking at the bottom of his shirt.  In part because the mage was right in that no one would think to look for him in Cullen’s tent.  But also because the ex-Templar himself did not wish to be alone with only his memories for company.
A soft hiccuping sigh was his only answer and Cullen did his best to look the other way when the mage sniffed lightly, a hand sweeping quickly across his eyes.  He removed his sweat and blood stained shirt before crawling to lay behind Dorian on the soft bedroll.  He waited a moment, eyes lingering on the back of the mage’s head before he reached up and gently patted the other’s quivering shoulder.
Dorian turned his head, his face dark in the dim candlelight.  A soft squeeze on the man’s shoulder and wordlessly the mage rolled to lay beside him.  The solitary lit candle flickered out as it’s wick burned down to near nothing.
Cullen rolled to his side, grimacing when he disturbed a growing bruise upon his ribs.  He looked at his companion, the other’s eyes glimmering in the darkness of the tent.  The mage’s profile shadowed as he contemplated the ceiling of the tent.  The dampened sound of the Charger’s mournful melodies lent a haunting air to the mage’s brooding.
They lay beside one another, Cullen observing his unexpected visitor.  He wondered about the other’s question.  What had made him ask such a thing.  What could possibly have driven the normally sharp witted Altus to his tent to hide of all things.
“What happened?  In the Fade?”  He asked, genuinely curious.
“A great many things.  I wouldn’t know exactly where to start.”  Dorian’s voice was tight, as if he were walking along a razors edge and barely keeping upright.  The man’s breath came in shallow pants, and Cullen waited.  He could hear words gathering along the back of Dorian’s breath, could practically feel them gaining substance as the mage collected them together.  The way one can feel the roll of thunder just before the crackling rumble.  “Tell me, Commander, does a Lion feel fear?”
A sharp hiss as he drew in a breath between shuttered teeth.  “Of course.”
“What are they?  A Lion’s fears.”  Dorian asked, his head turning to face Cullen in the darkness.
Lips moved silently as he considered the other’s question.  The bared vulnerability in the Tevinter’s voice and actions eased any suspicion.  His throat tightened as he examined the answers to the inquiry.
“I fear not being strong enough.  Of failing again.  Of not giving enough of - of -” His throat flexed painfully and Cullen released a heavy sigh.  “That I am inadequate.”
Darkened eyes flickered across his face and Cullen lurched in surprise when a soft touch brushed across his brow, smoothing a stray lock of hair back.  “Thank you.”  Dorian hushed.
They lay side by side, each considering the other.  The smell of battle permeated the air between them, but underneath it all the scent of Dorian’s perfume tinted the air.  And Cullen drew a deep breath, trying to place the faint spiced scent lingering beneath.  He didn’t jolt away when another brushing finger traced the outline of his face.  And when Dorian rolled to his side and slid closer, body warmly pressing against his own, Cullen allowed his hand to rest gently upon the mage’s waist.
The need to be near a <i>living</I> being after the horror of battle was heavy between the two men and they in turn answered that desire for the other.  The closeness helping to push away the open dread each man gave voice to only minutes prior.  The human hunger for touch pulling them closer in their open vulnerability.
“You are the strongest man I know.”  Dorian whispered, the words brushing faint across Cullen’s skin with their proximity.  “Would you make me a promise?”
“What is it?”
“Promise you will not let me - that you - that I -”
Cullen lifted his hand from Dorian’s waist and pressed his fingertips against the other’s lips.  “I need not make that promise.  You are more than what you fear.  You have proven so again and again.”
A slight nod and those dark, shining eyes squeezed shut as a shuddering breath shivered through the Tevinter.  His hand fell to lay upon Dorian’s rib cage, squeezing gently in assurance.  They remained that way, Dorian’s fingers curling along his neck, his own resting on the man’s side.  Weary exhaustion and an easy solidarity between the two beckoned them into sleep.  Arms weaving around each other, as if their closeness could keep the nightmares at bay.  Even if just for a short time.  Keeping each other safe from the fears that crept through the shadows, bidding time until morning saw them part.
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deepdisireslonging · 6 months ago
Text
Thicker Than Blood Part 28
Surviving the Collision Pt 1
The first round of the AEW vs WWE matches is underway. Cesaro fights Hager. Also: Balor vs Omega, Reigns vs Tonga, Belair vs Statlander, the battle of the Role Models, and the team-match. The Reader and Mox finally face-off in the ring.
Warnings/Promises: wrestling violence
Word Count: 6699 (nice)
Note: There are so many matches, omg. And more coming next week for the second part. Why did I do this to myself? Oh, because I love writing for wrestling. I hope you guys love what’s coming up. We’re almost done! Reblogs, comments, gif reactions are always appreciated. Enjoy!
Series Masterlist Here  
Part 27: Ultimate Staredown
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Collision Course Pre-Show 
“It’s here!” 
The Thunderdome pyro sparkled and popped, welcoming the coordination of wrestlers, and the birth of a once in a lifetime opportunity. 
The announce table was split into many parts. AEW had their own set up with Excalibur and Jim Ross. WWE had their standard Corey Graves and Michael Cole, as well as the several tables for their international teams. 
“As you can see,” Cole said, “there is a table between our and AEW’s announce team. That is reserved for Samoa Joe and Taz, who will be calling the team match later tonight. It was decided to delay that meeting of the minds in case a fight broke out at ringside.”
“Or an unbreakable partnership,” Corey mumbled. 
“But for now, time to get this show started-”
“Ay, Thunderdome! Don’t you dare be sour. Clap for your world famous six-time tag team champions and feeeeel… the power! It’s a New Day, yes it is.” Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods enjoy their time coming down to the ring. They were surprise athletes for the preshow, as were their competitors. But as the Best Friends took their turn coming to the ring, the New Day welcomed them with gyrating hips and enthusiastic trombone blowing. 
It was a standard tag match. No special stipulations, no special rules. No, the six athletes provided all the special effects any match could ever need. Big E and Chuck Taylor started off. They had the audience chanting right off the bat with an intense series of feuding suplexes. When both were dizzy and wobbly from that, they reached back for Kofi and Trent. That duo took turns showing off their high-flying, and their ability to take a bump from on high. Trent rolled in pain into his corner. 
The crowd started an “Orange” chant. 
Everybody in the ring was into the idea. So Trent held up a hand to the ropes, and Orange poked the middle of his palm. The referee hesitantly called the exchange. Kofi waited in the middle of the ring as the Whoever, from Wherever, wandered over. He gently kicked Kofi’s ankle. Then his other ankle. Two-thirds of the new Day were confused, but Xavier Woods had their backs. 
“No, no, no.” He slipped through the ropes, telling his partners, “you’re doing it wrong.” He motioned for Orange to kick Kofi again. At the hit, he oohed like Orange had nearly snapped his friend’s ankle. Then again when Orange poked Kofi’s shoulder. “See? Come on, try it out.” A moment later, he was tagged in and withstood Orange’s next ‘attack.’ “Oh, and you never touch the glasses,’ Xavier called back. 
“Why not?”
To prove the point, Xavier plucked the sunglasses off Orange’s face. He grinned for a second. Then whipped around after the man’s hand cracked across his cheek. 
“That’s why.”
From there, nobody held back. They mostly had fun, but also had honor to uphold. Quick tags, quick hits. Hard snappy strikes, and snappier one-liners. 
Big E tagged in Kofi. Orange and Trent were lost on the outside, leaving Chuck defenseless. Xavier watched from the apron as Kofi scaled the turnbuckles and E hoisted up Chuck. The Midnight Hour dropped him to the canvas. Then suddenly, Xavier disappeared as his legs were swept out from under him. The New Day turned to see where he went, and Trent slid in to drag Chuck to their corner so Orange could tag in. Then he ran and drop-kicked E out of the ring. Orange scaled the corner just as Kofi turned to find his other teammate missing too. He flew with a Diving DDT, taking out Kofi and ending the match. 
Both trios met in center after the bell. The Best Friends welcomed the others in for their hug. And then New Day led them in a trombone-guided chant of “New Day Rocks” that shifted to “Best Friends Rock.”
***
For the final pre-show match, each wrestler was introduced by their company’s ring announcer; a pattern that would continue for the rest of Collision Course. Jake Hager, with Chris Jericho walking out with him to the stage, was brought in by Justin Roberts. And Cesaro was brought in by Mike Rome. Jericho gave Hager a hearty departing pat on the back while Cesaro looked on. You’d discussed your appearance with him, both of you deciding against it considering the “grievances” leading to the match. If Cesaro was to be a singles wrestler, he had to enter alone and win alone. 
They met first with snarls and a series of blows to each other’s head and shoulders. Hager trapped Cesaro against the ropes, dropping fist after fist onto his chest. The Swiss Cyborg was able to twist around. European Uppercuts slammed into the bottom of Hager's jaw. 
Hager stumbled back with a smile. "Good to see that the years haven't made you soft." He jumped, catching Cesaro's neck with a clothesline and dumping him out of the ring.
But Cesaro landed on his feet. "Too bad the years have made you predictable." As Hager rolled under the ropes, he stepped back. 
Already the referee was counting. Part of them didn't care. The match would end when they said so. Yet, at the back of their minds, there was more at stake here than their own egos. There could be no draws at Collision Course. 
Battered and bruised from steel steps and an announce table, they both rolled in at the count of nine. From there, they focused on using their old moves with the added power of practice. And also using things they learned along the way. Cesaro was patient. Hager was toughened by his UFC training. The Swiss Cyborg was stronger than his younger self. And Hager was ruthless after his time in the Inner Circle. 
It came down to who could push their lungs the longest. Neither was a small man. So running back and forth between the ropes was going to be someone's downfall. A Big Boot took Cesaro down. He swayed to his feet, right into Hager's grasp. The former All American tossed him into the corner before splashing down on his stomach, pushing out the last atoms of oxygen. Hager won the pin.
"I was wrong," Jake Hager panted, laying next to him on the canvas. "You haven't lost a step."
"You were still the better man." Cesaro reached for a handshake. "This time."
"Of course this time. I'm with AEW." Pride glinted in his eye. "We're going to win the show tonight. Mox is going to rip your little friend apart, blood ties or no."
Smiling at the ceiling, Cesaro shook his head. "She'll achieve what she set out to do."
They helped one another to their feet and left the arena as good of friends as ever.
***
Collision Course: Survivor Series 
With the opening pyro of the show, everybody was already buzzing with question about the first match. Years ago, Kenny Omega and Finn Balor had faced one another. And took turns leading the infamous Bullet Club. With that in mind, the biggest question was how would the two appear? Would Omega enter as the Terminator or the Cleaner? Would Balor come out covered in demonic paint?
None of the above.
It was the One Winged Angel who walked down to the ring. The Metalocalypse leather feathers draping from one shoulder trailed behind Omega like a cape. He proudly posed in the ring. His journey in WWE had been cut short many years ago. And now, here he was, the opening match of a cross-brand show.
When Balor entered, he looked like himself. Until he stepped into the ring so Omega could get a closer look. His eyes were ringed with charcoal that dripped red at the corners. The leather jacket he wore was weathered, making it look ancient. 
Omega tilted his head. "Balor? Or should I say, Devitt?"
Balor grinned. "Something like that. Though closer to something in between."
They were interrupted by Seth Rollins making his entrance. He may not be fighting in this show, but he was damned sure people would recognize the Messiah of WWE. It didn't matter that his referee uniform was ordinary. He had full pyro and swelling entrance music. 
The competitors shared a look. Despite the agreement, they knew this was really a triple threat match. 
Without checking with either of them, Rollins called for the bell. He did everything he could to hinder them. Counting fast or slow without a care for who he was helping or hurting more. Omega was more prone to argue. Which only made the Messiah smirk. Balor dampened his reactions down to glaring. They were in the same company; revenge was an option. 
As such, Balor was able to focus more on the match at hand. His spinning clothesline took Omega down. And then when he got back up, an overhead Ensiguri kick took him back down. But only for a moment. Omega psedu-wobbled to his feet and caught Balor with a Snap Dragon Suplex. The Irishman leaned up, holding the back if his head. A knee collided with it a second later. 
None of this was enough for a pin. Especially with Rollins hovering each count for two, three seconds. His malicious grin finally got to Omega. They stepped into each other's faces.
"I thought you were back to being your own man." Omega scoffed. "Guess Daddy's Boy is back to having issues."
Rollins got in his face. "I am my own man. I am the Messiah on the better brand. And I at least have the ability to reinvent myself every few years. You keep getting stuck to people who keep you back. The Bucks. Adam Page."
"That's Hangman Adam Page-"
"Oh-ho, excuse me-"
They continued to squabble until Balor flew in with a drop kick that sent Omega out of the ring, and Rollins into the corner. The referee was just about to argue when Balor held up a hand.
"You wanted this, Seth. So do your job. Be the better man, worthy of your Savior title. Or have them send out somebody else." He went after Omega without waiting for a reply.
It looked like Rollins was going to call a disqualification for Balor kicking him, but that would award an unnecessary win to AEW. With a growl he turned back to watch the outside scuffle. 
A Snap Dragon into the mat later, Omega dragged Balor back into the ring. He went for the pin, eyeing Rollins. The count was fair. And Balor still kicked out at two.
Suddenly, Balor was sitting on Omega's chest. He wailed punches down on his head till the man could defend himself. He quickly climbed the turnbuckles. At the last second, Omega rolled away from the Coup de Grace. Balor rolled to keep his momentum, but when he turned around a boot cracked against his jaw. Rollins ran his hands through his hair as the One Winged Angel was readied… and dropped. 
Fair count or slow, it didn't matter. AEW had another win.
With a smirk and a swagger, Omega held out a hand to Rollins. Though the fans were cheering the match, they waited on baited breath. Rollins finally reciprocated, bot making eye contact.
"Let's do this again some time." 
With a kiss, bang, and goodbye, Omega triumphantly left the arena.
***
Next to glare at one another, was Roman Reigns and Tama Tonga. At the bell, they stayed center in the ring. Tama talked smack with a smirk. Roman stood completely still, taking in the roar of the crowd, the bounce of the ring from Tama’s fidgeting, and the adrenaline burn in his veins until it dissolved into static. 
Tama lashed out, slapping Roman’s cheek with a crack. The Big Dog breathed through it. Another slap sent him looking the other way. 
“Come on. I don’t have back-up. What are you waiting for, pup?” He threw up his hands with a shrug. “All that talk. ‘Scuse me. All that bark. No bite. Figures-”
Before he could pull back for another slap, Roman’s flat palm flashed. Tama stumbled to one side with the hit. While he reeled, a smile pulled at Roman’s mouth. It wasn’t full payback. But it was a start. 
From there, the men launched into headlock. They took turns losing and gaining ground, forcing each other into one corner or the other. Tama clocked Roman on the chin, giving himself enough room on Roman’s spin for a Tornado DDT. He dropped him onto the back of his neck, then jumped up to crow in victory. Without trying for the pin. Or to check that Roman was, indeed, down for longer than two seconds. Which he was not. 
“He was right about not having back-up,” Corey noted. “He’s gonna regret that in a second.”
In fact, it took three seconds for Tama to stop show-boating and realize that Roman was standing right behind him. They struggled for a while longer. Every time Tama had the upper hand, he played to the cameras, though lessening his celebration every time as the match came to a close. His torso ached from Spears and shared Samoan Drops. Roman ran a hand down his face, calming his irritation for the final minutes. He fought off a headache brought on by all of Tama’s headbutts as he stood. 
The Good Bad Boy went for a Running Neckbreaker. Dropped Roman. When he was back up, so was Roman. Both men were winded, though one more than the other. Having to fight by yourself, even if you’d been doing it for a few months, took some getting used to. Tama jumped, but Roman caught his legs and dropped him in a powerbomb. Then lifting him, dropped him again. And one more time. Tama wobbled to his feet just enough to take a Spear. He stayed layed out for the count. 
Cole shook his head. “That’s the first win for WWE on their own half of Collision Course. If they want to win the profit for their charity, and the bragging rights that are sure to come out of all this, then they better step up.”
Right on cue, a backstage camera found where Triple H and Cody Rhodes were watching the matches. Hunter looked on the edge of apocalyptic shock. Cody was hiding a grin behind his closed fist, unbothered by the loss of Tama Tonga. What was one loss to three wins? Not to mention, Club-wise, he had no love lost for Tonga. 
In the ring, Roman smiled brightly as his hand was raised. 
***
The next match was more amiable. Bianca Belair bounced out, twirling around her long braid. Her out of this world competitor, Kris Statlander, arrived in the ring a minute later. They shared a handshake at the bell. Then got down to business. 
The EST of WWE wasted no time taking Kris to the canvas. If you don't have time to breathe, you don't have time to attack. Ring ropes, to turnbuckles, to the hard ringside floor, every available surface was an asset. Bianca took a second to pose and tap her hip. 
Kris breathed. 
She scaled the corner, bringing down a Moonsault like a meteor. Bianca tumbled and struggled as Kris rolled her up for a pin. Ot failed, but barely. 
Unlike Tama in the last match, Bianca learned her lesson. She didn't slow down to show off. Kris had a momentum going and now was no time for mistakes. It took most of the match to regain the upper hand. But when she did… it was soon over. Her K.O.D laid Kris out flat. The pin was thankfully uneventful. Both women had pushed themselves to the limit and were exhausted.
The referee never got the chance to raise Bianca's hand. Kris beat him to it. They shared another handshake before walking up the ramp together.
***
The match between Adam Cole and Adam Page was the shortest, but arguably the most intense. 
Page entered alone. The rest of the Elite were busy either recovering from a match, or preparing for one. Cole had the extravagance of Fish and O'Reilly, and Strong walking onto the stage with him. When they tried to follow him down the ramp, he held them back. There was a brotherhood here that was older than the Undisputed Era. And he would honor it.
"Long time no see," Cole said as the ring announcers did their job.
"Yeah." Page grinned. "The afterlife treating you well?"
"That it is. Elite still a good team?"
"Sometimes. WWE all that you dreamed of?"
"For the most part."
The bell rang.
There was no ultimate motive for this match. So there was no reason to cut corners. The show they put on not only showed off their personal skills, but also the schooling available to them since their separation. Time and lessons had weathered them. Honed their accuracy. And strengthened their pride.
With the speed of their attacks and counter-attacks, the announce tables found themselves slipping to silence. The athletes were moving too fast to call. And the skill of it all was past discussion. 
From elbowing each other in the skull to tossing each other into the ropes, they never slowed down. Page went for a punch from the apron. Cole dodged, hitting back with a kick that knocked the Hangman off the edge. Cole dove through the ropes after him, tossing up his “Adam Cole Bay Bay” after sending Page’s back into the barricade. But Page escaped back into the ring before he could do more, forcing the other Adam into the position to get caught up in the corner. Page dropped him on his head with the Rite of Passage. 
At the last second, Cole kicked out. The entire arena, including Page, groaned in shock. 
Cole’s vision was swimming, but he found enough strength to get to his feet, running back and forth between the ropes as Page stood. The Cowboy was turned inside out with a clothesline, doubled down on by a Wheelbarrow Suplex off the corner, and finished off by a Kneecap Brainbuster. 
Neither man could see straight as the bell rang. And all they could do was laugh. It hurt to, but they laughed all the way up to the stage where they raised each other’s arms for the audience. 
***
"If you lose your teeth during this match, I know a dentist for you." Britt Baker DMD flashed her pearly whites. "Try not to cry. It'll be a bad example for the children."
Bayley snapped a grin back at her. "Try not to tap out. It would ruin your reputation."
The bell rang as Baker flinched back with a snarl. She dodged a punch, running across the ring to bounce against the rope. Bayley ducked under the clothesline, bouncing off the ropes too. The women collided in the center, contorting in pain around where their bodies met. Bayley recovered first. She tried for a pin that Baker kicked out of at one. Launching herself over Bayley, Baker tried for a pin too which also failed.
As the women continued to fight and pin each other around the ring, the was a commotion outside the ropes. The referee was distracted as Baker's assistant, Reba dashed out from between the announce tables.
Reba reached for the ropes to climb into the ring. She screeched as she was pulled back to the floor by her hair. Sasha Banks was standing there.
"Why are you out here? You don't even trust her?"
Sasha angled her head to one side. "I trust her more than you. Don't get involved, and you won't get hurt."
Although Reba doubted that Sasha would keep her hands to herself, she kept to ringside and didn't try to enter again. The Boss kept out of the match too, stonily watching it with her arms crossed. 
It wasn't looking good for the DMD. She swayed on her feet. As Bayley ran with a clothesline that would have turned her inside out, she collapsed to the canvas. Bayley couldn't stop, running into the turnbuckles before crashing down. Baker took her chance. She flipped over Bayley, catching her with the arm-lock mandible claw maneuver, the Lockjaw.
Reba and Sasha screamed from the edge of the apron, pushing their peers to finish the match.
Bayley cried out in frustrated pain, and then slammed her hand against the canvas to tap out. Baker tossed her head back with a laugh. The hold lasted a second longer than it should have, but the point was made.
AEW was again in the lead.
***
When it came time for the team match, each side entered to the opening theme songs for their show. As guests, AEW entered first. Luchasaurus and Mr Brodie Lee loomed over their teammates Nyla Rose, Big Swole, and MJF. The captains, Swole and Mr Brodie, lead everyone down to the ring. They stood in a circle, facing each side of the ring… except for MJF. He brooded in the center with a smug smile.
Aleister and Natalya took their turn to lead in Braun, Elias, and Ember. When they stepped in the ring it was obvious the personal battle lines were drawn. Aleister versus Mr Brodie. Natalya versus Big Swole. Braun versus Luchasaurus. Ember versus Nyla Rose. And Elias versus MJF. By the time the bell was ready to ring, the special announce team of Samoa Joe and Taz was already in their seats.
“Welcome back to WWE,” Samoa Joe leaned back in his chair. “I can’t wait to hear your… unique insight for this match. All those incoming puns.”
Taz squinted at him, knowing there was a thinly veiled insult in there somewhere. “I’m looking forward to your tactical review. Why aren’t you in that ring?”
“It’d be a short match.”
In the ring, the team face-off fizzled off, leaving Elias and MJF glaring at one another. They realized that they were the only ones in the ring and rolled their eyes. MJF immediately started talking. Asking where was Delilah, Elias’s guitar. Asking for tickets to Elias’s concert… “Oh, wait… there hasn’t been one. You keep getting interrupted.” He stood on his tip-toes to get in his face. “Because no one wants to hear what you have to say.”
Elias silenced him with a loud slap to the chest.
“Everybody liked that. Thank you, Elias!” Samoa Joe said.
Stumbling back to his team’s corner, MJF tagged in a teammate without looking. It turned out to be Nyla Rose. Elias didn’t move. She entered the ring, shoving MJF out of the way. After sizing each other up, they met in a headlock. The Drifter was the first to lose ground. The referee made her back away from pinning him against a corner. Elias shook himself off with a smile. And met Nyla in a headlock again. On a whim, He slapped her across the face. 
“Oh.” Taz shrunk back in his chair as much as he could. “That wasn’t good.”
“Agreed. Very stupid-”
She spun him with a punch. As he came back around, she wrapped an arm around his throat and took him to the ground in a Guillotine Choke.  He faded out. Nyla shifted her weight, pinning Elias beneath her. And that was it for the Drifter. She rolled him to the apron into the arms of Aleister and Braun. 
Ember rushed in, jumping high to take Nyla down and dropping a storm of punches on her head. 
“This is where it’s going to get interesting,” Taz said. “Up till this point, it’s just been a Twitter war. Now it’s time for these women to put their ring skills up against their typing skills.”
Samoa Joe nodded. “Mhmm. Neither of these women is the kind to hold back an ounce of effort. If one of them eliminates the other, it will be because of deceit, or exhaustion.”
“And who are you expecting to use deceit here, Joe?”
It was a trap, but Samoa Joe continued, flinching as Ember jumped off the ropes to cross-body Nyla. “I’m going to have to go with the Native Beast. She is being managed by Vickie Guerrero, after all. She almost invented that game!”
“Perhaps. But Vickie isn’t here tonight. So why would a talented woman, such as Nyla- who’s got your peer tangled up in a cacophony of blows right now- need devious means? She’s got this.”
Neither of the women in the ring could agree. They weren’t making any headway. Nyla stepped back, holding out her hand for whoever wanted in. It was the sixty-four million-year-old wrestler, Luchasaurus. Ember nodded, and immediately went for the knees. He took it good-naturedly. But eventually, he lifted her clean off the canvas and tossed her to the side. She dodged an incoming boot and stumbled into her corner. Braun tapped the top of her head, tagging himself in. 
The battle of the monsters was interrupted by a disagreement on the AEW side. 
"What's your boy got planned?" Samoa Joe stood as MJF walked over to the table.
"He's not 'my boy' per season, and I have no idea." As MJF stepped to Joe, Taz shook his head.
The Salt of the Earth cocked his head to one side. "We've got unfinished business, Joe."
Taz slid a hand over his face to ease the rising headache.
"Do we? I thought I settled that business plenty when I laid your ass out a few months ago." Samoa Joe smirked. "Did you come over here just to get your ass kicked again? Because it would be my pleasure-"
"No." MJF's smile sharpened. "You can't touch me. If you do, that's a disqualification for your team." He mock-pouted. "It could cost your team the match."
Taz winced. "Max-"
Samoa Joe glanced at the ring, making eye contact with Ember. Elias had failed to leave ringside. They jumped into the ring, running across to knock Swole and Nyla off the apron, and then attacking Luchasaurus with Braun. While the referee tried to get them out of the ring, Samoa Joe grabbed MJF by his scarf and started to tie it tight around his neck until the man’s arms were flailing. 
"That was a mistake. Be a good boy and learn your lesson before you get hurt." He looked up, seeing Mr Brodie slowly coming over. He shoved MJF to his feet. "Keep an eye on your team, Mr Lee." He sat down calmly, ignoring how Mr Brodie dragged MJF back to their corner by the mangled scarf. "You got somethin' to say, Taz?"
"Nope. Well played, in my opinion. Gotta watch for those kids who like to run their mouth."
"You mean like Ricky Starks?"
Taz didn’t have a reply to that. He deflected back to calling Braun and Luchasaurus in the ring. It was just finishing up. After a Drive-By outside the ring, that also clipped a broody MJF, Luchasaurus crawled into the ring with Braun close on his heels. A Choke Slam finished the Dinosaur’s run in the team match. Quickly the replacement came into the ring, stepping over Lauchasaurus’s body. 
It was Mr Brodie Lee. 
They went straight to ripping each other apart. With their history in mind, they took advantage of their insider knowledge. Mr Brodie was able to bring Braun down to a knee. And Braun was able to do the same a minute later. For such big athletes, they focused small. Twisting each other’s fingers and arms to breaking points. Mr Brodie targeted Braun’s knees, cutting his height in half. Braun attacked Mr Brodie’s torso, effectively doing the same. Still, after three big boots, Mr Brodie yanked Braun into a Truck Stop, dropping the Monster onto his face and eliminating him. 
Aleister Black maintained eye contact every millisecond he was in the ring with Mr Brodie. Any other blindness was due to blinking. He kept that also to a minimum. The match slowed down as both men dug deep into heir holds. Mr Brodie had an armbar on Aleister, who flipped out of it and kicked a combination into his chest. He then sat down. Mr Brodie matched his seat. Behind him, Big Swole ran into the ring. Natalya swiftly stood behind Aielser, making for a tense picture between the team captains. 
Mr Brodie led Big Swole out of the ring, tagging in Nyla as Natalya was made legal. They brought the match back up to speed, chasing each other between the ropes and corner to corner. Big Swole tagged herself in on a pass, unknown to Natalya. She bounced off the ropes straight into a Super Bitch superkick. Big Swole eliminated her with a whoop. Ember was her replacement, flying in just as fast an unknown as Big Swole had. After an anaerobic exchange of strikes, blows, kicks, and witty conversation, the Total Eclipse was plenty for the pin. 
“Did you breath at all during that?” Taz whistled. 
Samoa Joe heaved a breath. “Not really. These really are the best in the business- oh, look here.”
Mr Brodie had stepped back into the ring. He looked past Ember to Aleister, but she wasn’t moving. He pointed past her, telling her to get out of the way. She moved far away from her own corner and squared up. She held up well. His height and experience advantage made a small dent in her strategy, but it didn’t dampen her drive. If she could beat Mr Brodie, perhaps she could beat anyone. Whether or not she did, her opportunity at the women’s championship was locked in after Collision Course. 
Maybe if she hadn’t been thinking so much about the future, she would have seen the big boot coming. It caught Ember’s jaw perfectly, dropping her to the canvas. He thought he had it. At the last second, she kicked out. Kicked him in the jaw, and scaled the turnbuckles. On his knees, he turned in time to receive a Total Ecplise of his own. His role in the match ended.
Nyla Rose stepped in to finish what they started. It would have been another incredible display of athletics if Elias hadn’t climbed onto the apron and started shouting at Nyla. She rolled her eyes and shared a face with Ember. As one, they kicked him off. Ember was shouting at him to get out of the arena when Nyla rolled her up. The struggle was rough, and not enough. 
“Not everything has to be shiny,” she shouted at Ember’s retreating form. 
WWE still had one of their captains. It was her pleasure to face Aleister. For him, he slipped into the mindset of facing someone with the magnitude of Braun, mixed with the strategy of Randy Orton. It worked. The way around such a mix was to use their strength and build against tire them out so they couldn’t think, and then kick their jaws off their face. Nyla dodged the first one, catching him with a powerbomb that rattled his spine. His second attempt did the trick. 
The referee was just about to raise his hand when MJF slithered into the ring from his seat behind the steel steps. 
Samoa Joe grunted. “I wonder where he got to.” 
With a nod, Taz asked, “how do you think this is going to go?”
“How do I think it’s going to go, or how do I hope? I hope Aleister kicks the punk’s smug off his face, but that’s just me. Either way, this isn;t going to go well for MJF.”
He didn’t know it yet, but MJF’s plan was not a good one. He assumed that since Aleister was a quiet person, that talking at him would rattle him into a mistake. He did un-nerve the Anti Hero. Unfortunately, he prattled on too long. The Black Mass was a swift, merciful death compared to what Samoa Joe wanted to see. It did the job, though, eliminating MJF, and ending the match. 
“And that’s that.” Samoa Joe leaned back in his chair with a smile. 
“What are you grinning about? Good for WWE, you guys won another match. You just now tied with our best from AEW. There’s still-”
“Moxley versus our Y/N. Yeah. She’s got this.”
Taz shook his head. “But Moxley has got the years. The experience. The ring presence to know what’s going on at all times. Y/N’s got… what? She’s got moxie, for sure, having been the reason for all this getting set up. But-”
“She’s got this. She has to. There’s a lot more riding on this match than the surface issues. I wish her the best of luck. And suggest… that she go for his elbow.”
“Nice touch.”
“Thank you.”
One table over, Corey rolled his eyes. “Somebody separate them, please, before they form an alliance.”
Taz heard and bobbed his sunglasses at him. “Too late.”
***
“From Cincinnati, Ohio. Weighing two-hundred and thirty-four pounds: Jon Moxley!” 
Blowing out a deep breath, you waited for him to come onto the stage. When he didn't, you turned to face the back with a smirk. Mox's unofficial motto had to be 'Rules? What rules?' To be fair, it was yours too, most of the time.
He towered over you. The referee kept an unnecessary arm between your bodies. At the bell, you both stepped back. You circled the ring, waiting for an opening. For a match you had dreamed of for ages, you were lacking a plan. But how could you plan for Mox? How could he plan for you?
You were so deep in thought you didn't see the clothesline coming until your back hit the canvas. 
"Pay attention, Ladybug," he joked.
Under your breath you muttered, "asshole."
"I heard that."
"Good."
He dodged your first fly-by attack, and took your replying drop kick in the chest. From there you slid to wrap your leg around his neck, locking in the hold by curling your foot under your other knee.
Mox gasped. His hand flailed out in the air, refusing to tap. “Nice hold,” he rasped. “Learned a lot from Rollins, didja?”
“Nope.” You bucked your hips before slamming him back to the canvas. “You should recognize it. It’s one of yours.” His puffed laugh didn't break your hold. The pride surging through your veins loosened your grip, allowing him to twist out of it. 
He clocked you good, sending you sprawling out of the ring. While the referee started the count, he smoothed his hand over his throat. Then he hopped out. His fingers tapped his collar bone. When they stopped, you were ready to dodge the incoming kick that would have folded you in half. Instead, you side kicked his ribs hard enough to force him back into the barricade. You rolled in and out of the ring to restart the count.
You took turns restarting the count. It was intense, even without the presence of street fight tool. It had been an option. One that you both turned down. The apron corner, ring posts, and each other were weapons aplenty. By the time the match got back to the ring, both of you were moving a little slower. But you kept going. Kicks. Punches. Bouncing or jumping off the ropes. And you started using your elbow more, like Cesaro taught you. 
Still, Mox kept evading your pins.
Your lungs were burning. For all the adrenaline and drive you had, your blood flowed through your veins like cooling magma. You were losing momentum. It was very obvious to anyone watching. Including Mox. Worse, your vision started to spot along the edges. 
When you fell to a knee, Mox caught you before you could completely fall over. He twisted his arms around you, making it look like you were in a sleeper, but without the dangerous oomph. “Come on, Ladybug. I know I haven’t beat you yet. We’ve got the same blood, and the same drive that runs thicker than that through our veins. Come on. Don’t make this easy for me.”
“I don’t know how much more I got.”
“Do you have one more breath?”
“Yeah.”
“Then it’s enough.” Mox pushed you away into the ropes. He motioned you forward. “Come on.”
For a moment you dangled from the ropes, breathing in the ache they inflamed under your arms. You sucked in a deep breath. There was one more thing you could try.
It took a while to create the opening. You false jabed with your right, smirking when Mox shielding himself. Taking advantage of his blindside, you kicked his sides with one boot, then the other.
"Two For Flinching!" you heard Corey shout.
Mox was perfectly positioned for your jump off the middle turnbuckle. Spinning through the air, you punched him with your finisher.
It stuck.
When the referee raised you for the ending bell you couldn't believe it.
You shouted with victory, spinning to look down at Mox. 
He wasn't moving.
"Mox? Mox." You reached to check for a pulse. A hand wrapped around your wrist before you could.
"Ow," he grumbled. Cracking an eyelid, he grinned. "You're a helluva wrestler, Y/N."
"Thanks." Wincing you added, "how's your ranking going to hold up?"
“I’m only undefeated. It won’t hurt me.” He groaned as you helped each other to your feet.
After raising your arm in victory, Mox joined you in having a seat on the apron. He bumped his shoulder into yours. “That was a hell of a match. And we didn’t use chairs or anything.” A thoughtful frown twitched across his face. “Maybe we could have done more. Then you would have looked better, stronger, and not such an easy win-”
“Jonathan Hannibal Moxley, if you’re about to say you let me win I’ll kick your ass right now.”
He tossed an arm over your shoulder, pulling you close to lightly kiss the top of your head. “I know you would.” With a grunt, he stretched out an ache in his back. “Can I have a rain check on that?”
“What. Think you couldn’t handle it, old man-” You hopped down to ringside, instantly regretting the jarring of your joints. “Yeah. Raincheck.”
It didn’t matter if the cameras were still rolling or not. The roar of the crowd was still in full force. Chanting your name and Moxley’s. The static-like energy surrounded you, making you stand taller through the pain. But the only eyes you could really feel were Mox’s. 
You bit your lip. "Did- did you give me the win-"
"No. Don't ever think that again, and don't let anyone convince you I did." Jon lightly punched your jaw. “You did good, kiddo. You did really good.”
***
That Week 
For the ones who won their matches, the McMahons and the rest of the roster were proud. For the ones who lost, they were made an example of. Exhausted as The New Day, Cesaro, Bayley, and Balor had to be, they had matches. They faced people with the second round of matches, using their exhaustion to make their peers look good. 
Finn Balor faced off against Triple H on NXT. But the match ended in a draw. There was too much history, too much understanding between them to finish it like it deserved. Triple H extended a handshake, his version of forgiveness. Balor took it, but refused to let go until a few private words were shared. Ones that made Hunter's brow furrow.
On Dynamite, AEW did the opposite. It was the winners who faced the second round fighters. They had the more difficult matches. The people who won were running on a prideful adrenaline high. It was harder to beat that, but showed off AEW's skill plenty. 
The one exception was Cody's match with Moxley. Several times Mox muttered a warning to Cody not to tire himself off. Nor to annoy Mox and jeopardize that weekend's match. Cody shrugged all that off and continued making a statement. They couldn't watch the Balor/Triple H match because they were both the main events of their shows, but it ended similarly. They ran out of time, meaning that neither won. No momentum lost, no change in the rankings. But Cody was more prepared.
That Saturday, Full Gear hit in full force.
***
***
Part 29: Coming Soon!
Masterlist 
Forever Tags: @blondekel77​ @brianaraydean​ @chwehansol98​ @fireflyfunhousetrash​ @laochbaineann @ramblingsofabourbondrinker​ @savmontreal @shieldgirl18 @tinyelfperson​ @writtingrose​ @xladyxfatex​ @gold--gucciempress​
Wrestling Tags: @1dluver13xx @a-home-for-stray-stories​ @flightofthefantasies​ @livelifewondering​ @mother-forker​ @neversatisfiedgirlfics​ @racheo91​ @roman-reigns-princess​ @scuzmunkie​ @secretagentfangirl​ @wrestlersownmyheart​ @thirst-n-bullshit​ @top-1-percent​ @xbreezymeadowsx​ 
Series Tag: @her-marvel-majesty​
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thevikingwoman · a year ago
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*Now Complete**
Iwyn Lavellan x Solas | post Crestwood, time travel | romance, angst rating: explicit (this part is E). Romance, fluff, sexual content, love, figuring things out, magic, happy ending, ensemble cast, time travel magic, swearing
start | previous chapter || start on ao3 | read this on ao3
Temporal Arrangements, chapter 11 
\ They manage to kill Corypheus, but just barely. The fight was a blur, but he is dead, stricken down alongside his dragon. She somehow manages to catch the orb when it falls from Corypheus’ hand, and now it buzzes against her hand, her left arm in agony. She collapses around it.
“Iwyn,” Solas calls and rushes to her. He was beside her the whole fight, his barriers keeping her safe. Safer. She thinks she is bleeding, but she doesn’t know where. Solas has a trickle of blood flowing from his mouth, and she tries to wipe it away. It just smears.
“Iwyn,” he says again.
“The orb – my hand. It hurts. Something’s wrong.”
He shakes his head.
“The mark seeks the orb. It is not wrong, but could be dangerous, or cause more pain.” His hands are around hers and the orb, resting on it. “Can I – can I remove it now? The mark.”
She has made up her mind already, but it’s sudden. All her doubts are there, and adrenaline still rushes through her veins. Is she ready to give up the mark? Corypheus is dead, but there are still rifts out there. And she has no idea what will happen to the Inquisition, or to her, now. Her leg hurts too. Maybe that’s where the blood is from. Did Solas get hit? Should he do this now?
“Are you hurt?”
“No, I’m fine. I’m fine.” He kisses her cheek.
“Do it, then.” She tries to sit up, but ends up just leaning into him. He lets her, and takes her hands, orb and all, in his. His hands start to glow, a cool blue glow. His magic, familiar and welcome, runs down her arm and it starts to calm the buzzing inside of her. His casting is silent, and he doesn’t move, just furrowing his brow in concentration. The blue mingles with the green of the mark, and flows into and around the orb. The angry green of the breach fades away, leaving calm magic swirling along the surface of the orb.
Solas stops casting, and the orb slips from her hands. It floats above his.
“The magic is home. It was never meant to exist outside the orb.” He sounds distant, and she wonders briefly if he will take it and leave.
“Come,” he says instead, and they get up together. “Is your hand feeling alright? I would like to test a few things, but it can wait.”
“I’m fine.” She flexes her hand. “It feels fine. Different. No pain and no… buzzing inside of me.”
“Good – here, you’re injured.” He crouches in front of her, his right hand on her thigh where she is bleeding. His familiar healing washes over her. The orb is floating above his left hand, emitting a subtle teal glow, cool and soothing. It looks like it belongs there.
He gets up, and she leans on him, thankful.  They start to walk.
“You were bleeding,” she says.
“I just overspent my mana. It is – not an issue now.”
“We have to tell,” she says. No one will think the orb was ever meant to belong to anyone but Solas. They others also deserve the truth, all of it. They are her friends, and she will not hide this from them.
“Yes,” he says, and then they are down the stairs, and everyone is there. Sera flies into her arms, and Thom hugs her long and fierce. They’re swept up in the relief of celebration, everyone elated and exhausted.
-
Later, when they are back in Skyhold, Josephine calls a meeting. Everyone files into the War Room, all her companions and advisors. They need to figure out what happens next, to the Inquisition, what is left to do. How to help people. When a new Divine will be selected. How to message the nations of Thedas about Corypheus’ death and the Inquisition’s victory. How to celebrate with everyone in Skyhold. Josie lists everything, and ends with declaring she has already started preparations for a party tonight – dinner for the nobles visiting, food and ale for the soldiers.
“We still have battles to come and much more to do, but for tonight, let us celebrate,” Josephine says. Everyone nods and smiles, filled with relief. Iwyn smiles too, and then looks to Solas. He nods. Better sooner than later.
“We have one more thing to discuss today,” she says.
Iwyn takes the orb from Solas, and places it on the wartable. It stings where she touches it, and it glows faintly.
“The orb.”
“Can we destroy it?” Cassandra asks, and several of the others nod. It is a reasonable question, she supposes.
“No,” Solas says. “It is no longer possible. I was able to remove the Mark from Iwyn’s – from the Inquisitor’s arm, and put the magic back in the orb, so to speak. The orb is impervious.”
“How do you know?” Dorian asks. Iwyn is sure he has realized it must be elvish, or that Solas must know more than he has shared. She takes a step closer to Solas.
“I know because the orb is mine,” he says, his back stiffening. “But I think it is better if I start from the beginning.”
His last words are almost drowned out by everyone asking questions – how, what do you mean, explain! Cullen has his hand on his sword, Sera has taken a step forward and Morrigan retreats closer to the door.
“Let him explain,” she says, and she is raising her voice. It comes out sharper than she intended, but it works. Everyone quiets down, and her look makes Cullen raise his hand from his pommel to fold his arms over his chest. “I know the story – some of the story. Solas is not here to harm you, and neither will the orb.”
Not right now, at least. She remembers his power sweeping the ancient battlefield, but that they don’t have to know.
“As I have told you,” Solas begins, “I am an ancient elf, having slept in uthenera for thousands of years. That is not all I am. I am uncertain how well versed you are in Dalish legends, but you must all know of the Creators, the Evanuris that the Dalish revere as gods.”
Everyone nods.
“They are not gods. In short, they were powerful mages who were raised up as such by their own people. They were blinded by their own greed and power as time went on. I was one of them. I am who the Dalish call Fen’Harel, the Dread Wolf.”
Everyone starts speaking at once, confused questions and silent frowns. Iwyn suspects they don’t really know what it means. Morrigan might now some of it, and she is leaning against the wall with an unreadable expression on her face. Solas waits until everyone is silent again and then tells his story, much as he told her. How he brought up the veil, and fell into uthenera, and awoke in a strange world. His attempt to unlock the orb, and then tried to let Corypheus do it. His future plans, what chaos it would have brought, and how is no longer sure of them.  
“It is your fault, then” Cassandra says. “It is you we should have brought to trial.”
Solas nods. “Do you still intend to?”
Iwyn thinks there might be a challenge in his words, but it doesn’t matter. She will not let that happen.
“Do you still mean to destroy the veil? The world?”
Solas sighs, and Iwyn holds her breath. She can feel his distress and she wants to leave, to comfort him, but it is better to get it all over with now.
“No. I do not. The world is… the world has changed. I cannot restore what was, and even if I could, I’m no longer certain that it is desirable. It does not mean I am satisfied with what is in the world now, and that I think the veil is working as it should. But I do not seek to take any action which would not lead to more chaos and suffering”. He looks at everyone. “Besides, I understand a little more of this world, and there are too many… to much which would be destroyed.”
“Friendship, where none were expected. Love. Passion. New things to learn, to understand.” Cole says quietly. “A home away from home.”
“Yes, Cole. I am no longer a stranger here, and the people in this world are no longer strange.” He pauses, choosing his words careful. “To be frank, there are still people I have lost, people who are missed, sleeping, waiting to awaken. I wish for the world to be safe for them to do so.”
Cassandra nods. “You wish to save your people. I understand.”
“Thank you.”
Iwyn can feel him relax, a miniscule change in the set of his shoulders, an easing of his magic. She doubts anyone else notices, but his relief is clear to her. She reaches out, and laces her fingers with his.
With that, the meeting is over, with only a few more brief notes from Josie about the evening’s party.
-
The party is a happy celebration, far too big for something put together in an afternoon. Josephine has managed to organize bright candles and decorations, and the tables are littered with confetti. The food is lavish, and Maryden has already composed a victory song. Iwyn has the sneaking suspicion that this was planned long before victory was certain. She wonders briefly if Josie had planned a funeral too, and decides not to dwell on it.
Throughout the evening, she passes from one table to another, celebrated for her victory. Everyone wants to talk with her, and with her inner circle. She has barely time to see her friends, let alone talk and celebrate with them.
Solas finds her later, when she has disentangled herself from at least five boring conversations with visiting nobles. She might be hiding a bit, on the balcony above the main hall, drinking her wine. She is glad he finds her, and leans into his embrace.
“How are you feeling, vhenan?”
I’m… alright. Exhausted. The fight, the party. And… everything.” She thinks of the orb ,and his power and the looks she’s been getting. She looks away.
Solas reaches for her, his hand cupping her face. Then he hesitates.
“Should I leave you alone?”
“No, she says, and she kisses his hand. “You stay here.”
“I will,” he says, relaxed and happy, and she smiles too.
She steps closer and kiss him. She needs him. It’s been a long day, a long fight, but they survived. They rescued the orb and so many things are uncertain, but Solas is here, his hands resting on her hips, his lips on hers. She wants more, closer. She wants to forget the fight or celebrate it is over.
“Someone could see us,” he murmurs against her ear. The noise from the party drift up to them, the hall is still full, with no sign of the celebration winding down.
“I don’t care,” she replies.  She’d have him, right here, if she could. She doesn’t care about the party anymore. All she can think of is Solas, his hands roaming over her. His lips. The pressure of his thigh against her core.  “I should, though. Josie will be disappointed if I cause a scandal, and I think I’ve doing enough for tonight. Let’s leave.”
-
As soon as they are inside their chamber, she pushes him against the wall. The meeting and the party didn’t really drain all the adrenaline from her, and every part of her is still screaming that they’re alive, alive, alive. Solas is alive and real against her, his tunic rough and his lips soft and giving. She bites them to hear him groan, and the sound goes straight to her core. His hips bucks against hers, and he is hard, as turned on as she is. She needs this. She needs to know he wants her, that she can have him, even as the power she wielded is gone, trapped inside the orb only he controls.
She slowly, deliberately, trail her fingers up his broad chest, and down his solid arms. She closes her hands over his wrists, pushing his hands from her ass to the wall, keeping them there, as she still kisses him.
He lets her, giving in with deeper groans. He still pushes against her, trying to get closer, but he does not move his hands, or try to take control. Instead he kisses her deeper, pressing his hips to her, his hardness rubbing against her.
“Iwyn, vhenan, please.” he says, his eyes dark.
“I want you, Solas. I want all of you.”
It’s the right thing to say, and the truth. She wants Solas, all and everything that she knows of him now, his power, his past and his future. He kisses her harder, and strains against her grip, his nails scraping the stone wall. He bites her lip in turn.
“Against the wall?” he asks, rough and low.
She shakes her head. “Bed. And naked.” They’ve won, and they’ve time. Solas chuckles and nods.  She lets go of his wrists, and puts one hand in his, and pulls him across the room.
They undress themselves and each other, kissing and touching as they go. She can’t keep her hands off his smooth skin when he pulls his shirt off, she can’t keep her lips from his freckled chest and pink nipples. She needs to touch, to taste, to be close. He repays the favor when she pulls down her pants, his hands roaming over her ass, squeezing and caressing.
Naked, they fall into bed, still touching each other. Everything is soft and warm and naked skin and roaming hands. She’s wrapped up in him, and it feels like coming home, more than the bed, and the room, and the victory. It’s what she yearns for. It’s the only thing that matters.
They touch and her need grows, and she pushes his head down her body, down between her legs where she wants him. Solas looks at her, his eyes burning, and he kisses her inner thigh, sending lightning down her legs. Her toes curl and her hands grasp. She has no idea if he uses actual magic, or if all the sensations are conjured by his lips on her skin. He reaches the top of her thigh and he keeps moving, featherlight kisses until he finally puts his lips on her sex. She tilts her hips to encourage him, she needs him closer, more, anything to relieve her aching need.  
He doesn’t disappoint, sucking and licking, moving his skillful tongue around and across her clit, and down below. It’s a blur of sensations, moans and need and release, soon she is jerking against his face, holding him in place, though he is not interested in going anywhere else.
She eases her grip as she comes down, and Solas pulls back, but just a little. He is still licking and sucking, more gently now. Her every nerve is on fire, and she keeps shuddering with every touch to her sensitive skin. He adds and removes pressure, and she wants him to continue, to stop, everything a sensitive messy blur.
Finally, she tugs on his ear until he stops, and she pulls him up and close. She doesn’t care she can taste herself on his lips. She wants him. He obliges, and groans into her mouth.
After revealing his true name earlier today, he held himself a little back, proud and remote like in Arlathan, to fulfill the role as Fen’Harel, The Dread Wolf, no matter that people didn’t know much. They knew just enough to make him fall into the role he assumed for himself, or was foisted upon him. Enough to make him wary and hide behind his mask. Not here, here he is just Solas, scholar, lover and hers. This is who she loves, and this is what makes her heart sing for their future.
His eyes are filled with love and desire, and it’s all hers.
“I want you, Solas. I want you.” She runs her hands down his back. “I love you. Ar lath ma.”
“Ar lath math, Iwyn,” he replies, and he enters her in one deep stroke.
He moves slowly, his eyes locked with hers. She clutches his shoulders, her legs wrapped around his hip, wanting him closer and deeper. He feels so good inside of her, and she tells him.
Solas groans and moves faster, and she encourages him, her fingers digging into his shoulders. She kisses what she can reach, his throat, his chest.
“Iwyn, I can’t –  I’m – ”
“Let go, Solas, let go.” She will take what he can give, her sex swollen and sensitive from the earlier attention of his mouth, and she is ready for him.
His hips snaps against hers, his eyes closed in deep pleasure, as he shudders and falls over his edge. A few short strokes later he collapses on top of her, into her arms.
“I love you,” she mumbles, stroking his back. “I love you, Solas.”
He answers back in kind.
-
The next morning, Iwyn wakes first. Solas is sleeping peacefully, and with a small smile she gets up and walks to the balcony. The sky is painted pink and gold by the sunrise. She stands there, breathing in the sunrise and the peace. No Breach, no Mark.
A little while later she hears Solas behind her, his bare feet crossing the floor. He wraps his arms, and a blanket, around her.
“What now?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” he says, and kisses the top of her head. “But no matter what may come, we will face it together.”
She leans back into him, and together they watch a new day begin.
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jace-the-writer-guy · a year ago
Text
Brotherhood
In a darkened arena in Vale's largest stadium, silence filled the air. A very deathly silence, one unlike anything any wrestling event had ever seen with the exception of the recent events in World Wrestling Entertainment and All Elite Wrestling with Raw, Smackdown, NXT, and AEW Dynamite being aired with no live audience. The world the two rival companies come from had been dealing with a crisis situation, and their wrestlers performed in empty arenas devoid of any crowd reactions except for if wrestlers sat in the front row and pitched in their reactions. It was eerie, it was strange...
It just wasn't right.
"Ladies and gentlemen... we come to you live from VCW's home, right here in Vale," The VCW Heavyweight Champion, Ryder Argent said into the camera and into the silence of the arena, "I know this is a really strange way for someone to make their debut, but to start our special six-hour long show, please give a warm welcome to our new color commentator and ring announcer, Jace Reznor, accompanied by his daughter and one of my closest friends, Ebony."
No music played in the arena. No video on the tron. Just silence as Jace and Ebony made theif way out of the back and down the stage, and into the ring. He was dressed casually, wearing his usual casual outfit. Blue jeans, his black boots, and a black button-up shirt open to show a VCW shirt while Ebony wore her Purple Heart outfit, just without her armor. When making their way into the ring, Jace grabbed himself a microphone, and he stood next to Ryder as Ebony stood behind them.
"So... hi," Jace greeted everyone watching at home, "You guys around Remnant all know me as the Angel of Justice, and more importantly here, the father of the Archangel. We'll cut right to the point of this and of my weird debut here... But first we'd like to include two very special guests."
Ryder stretched his arm out toward the back in a showing motion. "Everyone please welcome... The American Nightmare, Cody Rhodes."
Just like Jace, Cody came down to the ring from the back to complete silence, wearing a great looking tan suit. He stopped on the stage and looked around the arena, and took a deep breath before walking down toward the ring. Just recently, he and The Elite had come to this arena to beat down the invading Inner Circle, and now he was there for a completely different reason. He stepped into the ring with the others after grabbing his own microphone, and he shook hands with everyone there in the ring.
Jace raised his microphone to his lips. "And now, please welcome The King of Kings, Triple H."
And just the same, The Game himself walked out from the back and down the ramp, wearing a black suit with an NXT pin on the collar. He looked around and just felt the silence around him, and he gave a pained grin. "It never gets easier..." He said, and it was clearly heard by the others in the ring. He gave a look toward Cody, who was looking back at him, and gave a small nod before entering the ring with them all, shaking everyone's hands, even Cody's.
"Welcome to VCW, guys," Ryder said to the two, "Jace, the floor is yours."
Jace took a deep breath through his nose and let it out evenly. "These two men from AEW and WWE came here at Ryder's request. The shape their world is in is... bad right now to say the least. Everything is slowly going on lockdown, and their companies and their immensely talented wrestlers have been working in front of empty crowds for the last few weeks. Their world is in a lot of strife. Ryder and I both know strife. We... we both know how it feels to have an uncertain future. We didn't know if we could ever trust tomorrow again, and now the people that live where these two are from are experiencing the same feeling."
Ryder nodded slowly at everything Jace said and sighed. "The wrestlers of WWE and AEW have been pouring their hearts out in the middle of their respective rings in front of no one for the last few weeks, and we don't know how long it will have to last like that, and it pains us here at VCW to see. They do that to provide live entertainment to their fans to help them have some kind of escape from what's going on in their world. That takes such a level of dedication that I just can't describe."
"So like how Ryder and my papa have been accepted into new families of their own, we wanna offer that to both AEW and WWE," Ebony said after lightly taking Jace's microphone, and she smiled her usual, bright, cheerful smile into the camera, "Because... no matter what and no matter what two companies feel about each other, pro wrestling is a big family."
She handed the microphone back to Jace and he nodded in agreement. "Exactly. We at VCW open our doors and formally welcome WWE and AEW to book their shows here in Vale and take their own styles and their stories all over Remnant to Mistral, Vacuo, and Atlas. We welcome them all with open arms. We welcome guys and girls like Jon Moxley, Keith Lee, Kenny Omega, Drew McIntyre, The Lucha Brothers, The Revival, The Young Bucks, New Day, Kris Statlander, Alexa Bliss, Brit Baker, Rhea Ripley, Riho, Asuka, freaking everyone in these companies!"
Jace felt himself shaking a bit after naming off all those talented people, and he took another deep breath. "Bad blood be damned, pro wrestlers deserve to do what they love to do in front of a crowd," Ryder took over for Jace and put his hand on the older Huntsman's shoulder, "We do what we do to make fans rise out of their seats and cheer, or boo, or whatever, and now with this relationship, the men and women of AEW and WWE can do just that. We know scheduling will be a pain for four shows a week, but damn it we're gonna a pull it off for our fans, and their fans back home. Guys, you're both free to talk now." Ryder finished and both he and Jace stepped aside, and Cody and Triple H stepped forward.
Cody spoke first. "I have to say... I'm humbled and honored to have been offered this relationship with VCW. When we in the Elite fended off the Inner Circle, we all felt something special in the air here. We all miss the roar of the crowd, and we miss seeing the smiles on our fans' faces. I know I left WWE on bad terms. It's no secret. But this is bigger than that, bigger than any grudge we have with each other whether it be what I've done after I left to my family name. Ebony here said it best. Professional wrestling is a family. Families squabble and fight, but when it comes down to it, we unite."
"I couldn't have said it better myself, Cody," Triple H spoke up next, and he looked around the arena, "You see, all of what we do is for our fans. We do our best, even if some... questionable things slip out. These days are uncertain for us all, but one thing that is certain is that all wrestlers are part of a brotherhood no matter where they're from. And now, VCW offered their hands in our time of need, and Cody and I pushed all our personal feelings with each other aside, and buried the hatchet so we can provide you, the fans around our world a way to escape reality just for a little bit. Now, we hope to do the same for not only our world via a bunch of technical crap that would take years to explain," He chuckled and grinned, "but to your world too."
"I have to say, this is extremely surreal," Ryder said and looked between Triple H and Cody, "Seeing you two in the same ring, in a VCW ring, and this relationship with our three companies is just... history."
Both Hunter and Cody nodded in agreement. "There isn't any denying that." Cody said.
"This is quite possibly the biggest thing in pro wrestling history right now," Hunter added, and he laughed again, "Maybe even bigger than Wrestlemania."
"So everyone..." Ebony stepped into the middle of the ring between everyone after getting her own mic, "I think there's been enough talk, right? I think our fans are getting restless~"
Slowly, the lights started to come on and even more slowly, cheering began to build and build until the all the lights were on to show the jam-packed arena. It had taken an extreme amount of restraint from the crowd to stay quiet during the opening segment, but now they were roaring, all of them a part of history. Both Cody and Triple H started smiling at hearing all the dueling chants of "WWE", "NXT", "AEW" and "VCW". It was something they both missed and they shared a look with each other before getting on opposite turnbuckles to get the crowd roaring even louder.
"Damn I've missed this!" Cody exclaimed into his microphone, "Come on, everyone! I can't hear you!"
The crowd somehow got even louder after that and both men just relished in the noise. "You guys have no idea how much we've all missed hearing this each and every night!" Hunter said to them all, "This is like music to my ears, and I know all the guys and girls in the back can't wait to come out here to perform in front of you all!"
"That's right, everyone!" Ryder said to the crowd, and he gave a huge grin as Ebony hugged both Triple H and Cody, welcoming them to the VCW family, "For tonight only, this is a VCW, WWE, and AEW Supershow with matches featuring wrestlers from all our companies! And we offer the same to any other wrestling companies on Earth small or large that need a place to showcase their talent! Jace, take it away!"
"With pleasure, Ryder," Jace said and stood in the middle of the ring while the others except for Ryder exited, who took off his clothes to reveal his ring gear, "The following is a Fatal Four Way, champion vs champion match! Already in the ring first is your VCW Heavyweight Champion, The One-Winged Angel, Ryder Argent!"
Jace started grinning even more. "And your next competitor..."
"Shock... the system..."
"Making his way to the ring next... is the NXT Champion, Adam Cole!" Jace exclaimed and the crowd lost their minds when Cole's entrance music sounded over the PA system, signaling the arrival of the leader of the Undisputed Era into the VCW arena...
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