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#and he HAS come so far he was hardly reading and writing at the start of the year
greycappedjester · 8 days ago
Any oikuro friendship headcanons? Since we were robbed in canonverse 😭 this could be in hq! hogwarts or the scooby doo au! i don’t rlly think they’re friends in the cardsverse?
Meh, I'll split it and do both Hq at Hogwarts and Scooby-Doo.Truly is tragic that Cards is the one series I haven't managed to work in their friendship yet.
Hq at Hogwarts
1.) Voted most likely in the IC to talk/gossip in legit every single class they are in together. They're the second worst (Matsu and Makki still remain the worst). They're only mostly better at pretending to be model students because they write invisible notes and practice longwinded code when gossiping to each other. One day, Suga swears they're going to have an entire secret language writing notes that the teachers can't crack. Professor Oomizu (Runes) is reluctantly impressed.
2.) They narrowly avoided doing another grade competition this year (based on the consistent begging of Iwaizumi, Suga, and Bokuto combined....but really because Kenma said no once). It worked out actually because Oikawa isn't technically required to got to classes this year as a Triwizard Champion
*Bonus headcanon: I'm taking this from the fact that if Harry in Book 4 was exempt from exams, it also makes sense that Triwizard Champions should be able to time off class if they're working on the tournament...which makes sense as if you're chosen as a Triwizard champion, I assume professors think you're good as far as advanced classwork goes. More a Triwizard champion headcanon, Oikawa hardly ever misses class even with this excuse even when he really, really should because of keeping appropriate sleep schedules-- he's a huge nerd who doesn't believe in moderation. Ushijima misses class every now and then when in the library/ practicing for the tournament--he's a huge responsibility nerd who also believes in proper time management (cough, Oikawa, cough). Hoshiumi misses classes often using the tournament as an excuse--hes' a huge nerd that believes in self-teaching and surprise far more than he believes in being stuck in boring class all day. Tournament is an excellent excuse. At this point in the year, the professor only really expect him on exam days--which Hoshiumi has all O's on and frequently ties for top of the class. Sakusa (actual top of class in Beauxbatons), as usual, is very annoyed. Headmaster Hibarida, as usual, despairs. Hoshiumi, as usual, could not care less right now.
1.) So in the Scooby-Doo AU, Kuroo really wants to be a writer while Oikawa's dream is to be a lawyer (Iwaizumi wants to be a mechanic; Suga wants to be a scientist with focus in chemistry and likely forensics; Bokuto is figuring it out right now after a recent sports injury stopped his original plan of pro-athlete). Kuroo and Oikawa are the top readers on the team and will often read the same books just so they can argue minutia with each other. They were both tied for valedictorian in high school...or equivalent if other countries that??? I'm purposefully not specifying country for this series (mostly because I'm fine mildly distorting my own culture's mythical creatures for ScoobyDoo-ish monsters but feel weird doing it too much for other cultures). Anyway point is Kuroo and Oikawa are by far the ones that will get into the weeds in academic arguments while the rest groan around them.
2.) That said, when Kuroo decided he wanted to take a gap year (at least one) off after high school to explore the world more and figure out what exactly he wanted to do and how he wanted to go about being a writer, Oikawa is actually his biggest advocate. Sometimes he'll tease him good naturedly about it--like with everything--but he was huge about stepping in whenever anyone starting pressing Kuroo too hard about what he was going to do after high school? And a year off, really? And are you sure about the writing thing?
3.) This will come up later. Camping was always Oikawa's plan. Here in an ordered list is the group from Best to Worst at roughing it in the wilderness over night:
1.) Bokuto "Nature's The Best, Guys!" Kotaro
2.) Iwaizumi "Yeah, I can figure this out" Hajimi
3.) Sugawara "Oh, those are some interesting samples" Koushi
4.) Literally anyone else
5.) Kuroo & Oikawa
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TOP 5 WEDNESDAY is a meme created by GingerReadsLainey on Youtube. Now hosted by Thoughts On Tomes, there’s even a group on Goodreads for this awesome weekly book meme! However, I am going to be picking my own topics each week. This week’s topic is favourite parts so far from Neon Gods by Katee Robert, a Hades and Persephone retelling we’re reading in my book club this month!
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If you haven’t read Neon Gods yet, beware of (spicy 🌶️ 🌶️ 🌶️ ) spoilers below the cut!
Chapter 2 (pg. 23)
I have to get out and I have to do it alone. Now.
I take one step and then another. I almost stop when I come even with the thick stone archway leading out onto the street, almost let my rising reckless fear fail me and turn back to submit to the collar Zeus and my mother are so keen to put around my neck.
The single word feels like a battle cry.
I feel like this part speaks for itself.
Chapter 4 (pg 41)
Hades wastes no time wrapping the second blanket around me, covering up every inch of exposed skin above my ankles. Only then does he go back to his work of extracting glass from my soles.
There’s just something so wonderful about how soft Hades is with her right from the start.
Chapter 5 (pg 59)
She sounds so damn prim that I want to rip this door off the hinges just to get a good look at the expression she’s wearing right now. “You were sleeping in a tub. Hardly the recipe for a good night’s sleep.”
“That’s a very narrow worldview you have.”
I glare, though there’s no way she can see it. “Open the door, Persephone. I’m tired of this conversation.”
“You seem to do that a lot. If you find me so tiresome, you shouldn’t be breaking down my door at ungodly hours of the morning.”
“Persephone. The door. Now.”
Persephone being a brat is my favourite thing EVER.
Chapter 8 (pg. 88)
The snap in his tone has roots growing from my soles and freezing me in place. I glance over my shoulder. “Yes?”
Of all the mentions of Persephone and her Spring Goddess-ness, this is my favourite so far. It’s just such a beautiful visual. I’m obsessed with the writing.
Chapter 8 (pg. 89)
“What happens if I don’t obey like that?” I snap my fingers. He’s back to watching me closely, his body poised and tense as if he’ll spring at me given half the chance. Maybe that should scare me, but it’s not fear beating a pounding drum in my blood. It’s excitement. Hades leans forward very slowly, very pointedly. “Then you’ll be punished.”
This was one of those 👀 moments. I’m usually pretty good at hiding my thoughts and emotions while reading. It comes from years of practice reading smutty fanfic wherever and whenever I could. But this moment got me. We aren’t even fully into the spice yet and it’s already doing me like this.
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It’s such a struggle to stop reading when I reach the end of each day’s section. I’m really loving this book so far and am looking forward to getting to the actual spice of it soon.
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heyiwrotesomethings · 23 days ago
ShinoMitsu Week 2021 Day One: (Music, Seasons, Apologies) Honestly kind of seasons too a little bit.
A/N: WARNING: MANGA SPOILERS AHEAD. Writings without spoilers will begin on day four, come back then! This is probably the saddest thing I’ve ever written. Of course being me though, there is some comfort along with the hurt and a hopeful ending that will be pursued throughout the week. Hope you guys like it! Word Count: 4,280
Seriously, some major manga spoilers. Stop reading if you care! I’d hate to ruin someone’s day.
Shinobu rubbed her eyes against the harsh flash of light, blinking as the light faded into a much more manageable brightness reminiscent to that of a fair weathered day. She put a hand to her chest and took a deep breath, appreciating how easily the air rushed into her lungs without obstruction.
It was over, she had done it. With the help of Kanao and Inosuke, that demon would never eat another woman again. Shinobu was fine with being the bastard’s last meal since he had ended up choking on her in the end. Months of preparation had let up to this moment and she was grateful it hadn’t all been for nothing.
She had taken her time, ignoring the pull on her very soul. She wanted to make sure that the Demon Moon’s demise was certain. Now that he was gone, Shinobu found herself in a field of tall, green grass and wildflowers. Sakura trees were scattered around her in full bloom. Her demon slayer uniform had been replaced by an autumnal kimono that fit snugly over her body. The pattern was certainly a stark contrast to her surroundings, but she hardly minded.
The most prominent thoughts in Shinobu’s mind at the moment were related to why she was here, what was here? She felt like she was waiting for someone in this field. Her heart was heavy and her lungs felt tight. Rather than linger, she assumed it was some phantom pain left over from her final battle. She decided that she would walk to keep her mind off of it.
Each step seemed to make the very ground vibrate with energy that Shinobu could feel crawl up her skin in warm waves. She kept going and as she traveled, the scenery shifted around her.
She watched with parted lips as memories manifested around her, fading back behind her as she walked past, creating new ones beside her. If she stepped back, the older memories would rejuvenate and replay for her but she didn’t dwell long. She didn’t need any reminders of the life she left behind, she had squared away all of her business weeks ago while her body grew steadily more toxic. She had done what any person who knew they were going to die would do and took care to make sure she could pass on with no regrets.
Shinobu paused in front of one memory as muffled laughter caught her attention. It was a mundane memory of cooking with her pupils, joined by the Kamados and company. Something that they had done together several times. The smile that tugged at Shinobu’s lips was bittersweet. Yes, she had no regrets, but there was certainly a feeling of longing that she would have to learn to accept as a part of herself for however long she’d linger here.
Shinobu carried on as memories bad, pleasant and mundane came and went with no rhyme or reason to the order of their appearance. At some point she had allowed her mind to wander and the already muffled sounds devolved into white noise.
She wasn’t sure what she had expected from the afterlife, but it certainly wasn’t this. How long had she been here? Was she really expected to watch eighteen years worth of snippets from her own life? She had already lived it, it was short and painful but admittedly there was light in it too.
She froze.
“Shinobu, doesn’t it look good? I can’t wait to try it, we did such a good job!”
“It does smell nice, doesn’t it?” Shinobu heard herself say.
She slowly turned towards the memory, she couldn’t stop herself even if she wanted to. Gods, she could never give up an opportunity to see that girl again, even if it was all in her mind.
There was Mitsuri in all her glory. The memory was of one of their baking adventures with some western recipe Mitsuri had learned.
Shinobu smiled wistfully, watching herself wipe flour from Mitsuri’s flushed cheeks before walking on, allowing the memory to dissipate.
Not long after the crack of a wooden sword snapped up her attention.
“Why are you making yourself weaker?”
Ah, Shinobu remembered that day all too well. Mitsuri had been neglecting herself and Obanai had asked Shinobu to check up on her. It was hard to see someone gifted with such strength try to throw it all away. She was glad she had been able to help Mitsuri grow to be more comfortable in her own skin and in a way, she helped Shinobu do the same.
Another step, another memory. This one stung a bit actually. She and Mitsuri had been walking through the estate gardens together while the taller girl shared her woes about not finding a man stronger than her to sweep her off her feet and marry her.
“You’re so pretty and mature, Shinobu. I bet you could get a husband—” Mitsuri snapped her fingers, “—like that! Have you ever thought about it, Shinobu?”
“Marriage is something I’ve never given much thought to.” Shinobu had said, focusing her attention on a small, white butterfly floating through the breeze.
“Really? No man has ever made your heart race before? Usually when I meet someone I like, I can’t help but picture what the wedding would be like.” Mitsuri gushed.
“Oh? Have you ever pictured one for us? You like me best, don’t you?” Shinobu teased.
Mitsuri froze for a beat before her skin lit up and her arms started flailing. Her words were tumbling over each other making them unintelligible. Shinobu managed a laugh, allowing the conversation to be pushed elsewhere. The far off look in her eyes seemingly going unnoticed by her companion.
Yes, Shinobu hadn’t put much thought into marriage. She had never really seen the appeal of the men her sister, and then Mitsuri, had occasionally gushed over, but the idea of finding someone you would want to spend the rest of your life with did sound nice.
“That was never an option,” Shinobu sighed to herself, “not for me. I hope you find someone who will treat you right when the fight is won, Mitsuri.”
She continued on, walking a bit faster. She hoped the end would come soon because the novelty of this little trip down memory lane had run dry long ago.
More memories manifested and dissolved only fast enough for Shinobu to see snippets. Kanae and herself moving Himejima-san’s boulder, taking in Kanao and the other girls, feeding her fish with Nezuko, training Tanjirou, Zenitsu and Inosuke, teasing Tomioka, cultivating poison with Tamayo, a moment with her mother and father, telling Kanao about her plan that would ultimately take her life.
It was exhausting. Shinobu just wanted to be done. She did not see reason to dwell on her life. She had no regrets. She had no unfinished business. She just wanted to move on already.
Shinobu stumbled backwards as a fog grew before her, blocking her path. Before now, the visions had only ran parallel to her. The cloud swirled with light painted edges, glowing faintly until the memory surfaced. It couldn’t have been more than a week before and Shinobu’s throat felt dry as she watched herself choke back another dose of powdered wisteria seeds.
The petals would have been a relatively harmless alternative, but the toxic seeds promised a stronger reaction and she could gain more potency from one seed than hundreds of petals worth of tea. Shinobu had been careful with her dosing, but that didn’t mean that she couldn’t feel it’s affects on her body.
The image of Shinobu coughed, swallowing water in an attempt to soothe her burning mouth. She groaned softly, sitting back in her chair and gingerly cupping a hand over her stomach. She closed her eyes only for them to snap open at the sound of knocking at her office door.
“Shinobu, are you working hard in there? Can I come in?” Mitsuri had called from the other side.
Shinobu winced as she sat up, wiping sweat from her forehead. She took a deep breath and it scratched her throat unpleasantly but nonetheless, she fixed a smile on her face and called Mitsuri in.
“I hope I’m not interrupting anything, but I saw, uh, Tamayo-san, was it? I was her and her assistant retiring for the day and I thought I’d get the chance to see you then.” Mitsuri said.
“You aren’t interrupting anything, I’m glad to see you,” Shinobu motioned for Mitsuri to make herself at home and she did so with a happy hum, sitting on top of the lab table Shinobu was sitting at. “Can I do something for you?”
“Well, there was one thing,” Mitsuri began sheepishly, lightly swinging her legs as she presented her hand to Shinobu knuckles up, “I grazed my hand during a round of Hashira training and I know I could patch it up myself, but you always do it better.”
Shinobu gingerly brought Mitsuri’s hand to her face to examine the superficial damage and nodded, “I can take care of this. One moment please.”
“Take all the time you need.”
Shinobu stood, hiding her pained expression by turning her head towards the medicine cabinet she kept in her office. She walked over to it, taking an antibacterial spray and some thin bandages before turning back towards Mitsuri, watching her with those bright pastel green eyes that reminded Shinobu of spring.
She stood before Mitsuri scooping up the damaged hand once more.
“This may sting a bit.” Shinobu warned quietly before spraying Mitsuri’s knuckles.
The older girl closed her eyes, the burning, prickly feeling causing her to whine. Shinobu chuckled good-naturedly bringing the hand closer to her face almost close enough to touch her lips. She blew a gentle, cooling breath of air over the knuckles.
“Does that feel better?” She asked.
“Yes, thank you,” Mitsuri blushed, looking down, “I’m sorry, that was childish of me.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for.” Shinobu said seriously.
She finished wrapping Mitsuri’s hand and held it between her own. Shinobu looked up, a tired smile on her face.
“All done.”
“Shinobu, you look so tired. Are you well?” Mitsuri asked, looking concerned.
“I’m fine. The research I’m doing with Tamayo-san is just very involved and intricate.”
“I wish there was something I could do to help,” Mitsuri frowned.
“It refreshes me just to see you.” Shinobu had said without thinking. “Your vibrance warms me like the sun.”
“Really?” Mitsuri squeaked, her hands cupping her own cheeks as they bloomed pink.
Shinobu felt her own skin prickle as blood buzzed through her ears. She held firm though, even if she hadn’t planned to say something so... poetic, she did mean it. In fact, she had more she’d like to say. Ever since she had began her doses, she had become more and more aware of her mortality. The final fight was fast approaching.
“Really.” She replied simply.
“Aw, Shinobu!” Mitsuri launched herself into Shinobu’s arms, making Shinobu have to take several quick steps backwards to keep them both upright. “You’re making my heart go, ‘bwahh woo!’”
“Is that a good thing?” Shinobu giggled.
“Very!” Mitsuri nodded vigorously.
Mitsuri held Shinobu for a few minutes, humming and swaying. She really was like the sun. Shinobu could fall asleep standing up if it was in Mitsuri’s warm embrace.
Unexpectedly, Shinobu was lifted over Mitsuri’s shoulder causing her to release a surprised gasp. The position was uncomfortable for her stomach but it hardly registered in comparison to being carried by the taller girl.
“Mitsuri, what are you doing?”
“Taking you to bed. You’re so tired you almost fell asleep just then.”Mitsuri cooed.
“I can walk...”
“Let me be your legs for a little bit. It’s me paying you back for always helping me.”
Whatever methods Shinobu tried to use to coax Mitsuri to put her down proved futile. She simply strode through the halls humming and waving at any passerby she happened to see. Shinobu was embarrassed, but couldn’t bring herself to be angry. Not when Mitsuri was so genuinely happy.
Before long, they made it to Shinobu’s room. Mitsuri put her down and helped her get ready for bed. There was a part of Shinobu that disliked the treatment. It made her feel small and weak. There was another part of her however, that was desperate to keep Mitsuri close and if the older Hashira wanted to help her pick her sleep ware and brush her hair she would take it.
Before Mitsuri left, she even went as far as to tuck Shinobu in, stopping with her face close enough to Shinobu’s that she feared the Love Pillar could find every insecurity she ever held in her eyes. Mitsuri tucked back a swatch of Shinobu’s hair.
“Shinobu... sleep well, okay?” Mitsuri said after a moment.
“I will, thank you for bringing me here.” Shinobu nodded, her eyelids already drooping.
“Whenever you need.” Mitsuri smiled.
Before Mitsuri could leave Shinobu felt compelled to speak, to share that part of herself that she had been keeping from her friend.
“Mitsuri...” Shinobu paused, her throat clenched and sweat recollected on her brow. She was suddenly frightened.
“... be safe.” Shinobu said instead, her heart ached at the sweet smile Mitsuri flashed her.
“I will. See you soon Shinobu.”
Then she left and the room was bathed in darkness.
Shinobu clutched at her kimono and fell to the otherworldly grass beneath her. Shinobu didn’t have any regrets. She refused to. What was the point of looking back on things she had no power to change? She didn’t want to be here anymore and the white noise of the memories around her only seemed to grow louder and louder until she couldn’t bottle it anymore and clutched her head tightly between her hands and screamed,
“Shut up!”
The sound dissipated.
“Enough!” Shinobu breathed raggedly.
Whatever sounds remained were carried off like whispers on the wind as if spooked by the Hashira’s sharp tone. Shinobu stayed glued to the ground, her hands migrating from her ears to cover her eyes instead as she tried to reign in her emotions. Why, she wasn’t sure. There wasn’t much reason to keep her feelings under wraps anymore, but one simply doesn’t swallow down their boiling blood for years and then stop, even in death apparently.
She fell onto her back, stretching out as best she could in the kimono she was wearing. She noticed for the first time that the sky was blank, just empty, uniform white that looked cold despite its brightness. It hardly matched rich greens of the tall grasses or the colorful wildflowers, the vibrant pink blossoms that fell from the trees.
After laying back for so long, Shinobu was beginning to think that this was it. She was destined to be stuck here forever. She sighed, there could be worse places. She felt a shiver roll through her body as the air changed suddenly, but she simply rolled to her side.
Shinobu blinked, sitting up on her elbows to peer through the tall brush curiously. She thought she had heard something, but it sounded far off whatever it was. She shook her head and laid back down. It was probably just some remnants of her memories.
Still indistinguishable, but louder. Shinobu’s brows creased and she forced herself to stand, looking for the source in earnest now.
A ways off, she thought she could see a figure in the sakura tree grove. She rubbed at her eyes. Her mind had to be playing tricks on her. No one else could possibly be here. Why would there be? Whatever it was, it seemed to turn in Shinobu’s direction and noticed her as well. Much like Shinobu, the entity didn’t seem to know what to think of her but appeared to be cautiously making its way towards her.
Shinobu decided to move forward as well to meet them halfway. She was already dead, what was the worst that could happen? As she got closer it became glaringly obvious who the figure was supposed to be. Even though she was still a ways off, Shinobu would recognize that watermelon toned hair anywhere.
Shinobu stopped moving. Trying to process what this meant. Some other way to torment her perhaps? When she had first arrived, she felt like she was waiting for someone and that feeling was slowly dwindling down the closer they got. It was a feeling that chilled Shinobu’s blood.
The figure must have noticed she had stopped moving because now they appeared to be running, running as best as they could in the flowery kimono they were sporting.
Shinobu felt an urge to run in the opposite direction but her feet stood frozen to the ground as the person got closer and closer until Shinobu could hear her yell,
“Shinobu! Oh my gods, Shinobu!”
Shinobu stared wide-eyed watching Mitsuri run up to her with tears glistening in her eyes, her cheeks wet and flushed from the excursion. Mitsuri was a beautiful vision Shinobu couldn’t take her eyes away from and then, Mitsuri tripped and fell to the ground with an audible, ‘oomph!’, disappearing into the tall grass.
Slowly, Shinobu’s brain started working again and her feet moved on their own accord until she was kneeling beside the other girl. Her hands hovered just above her, afraid to touch.
Mitsuri had no qualms about it however, and made quick work sitting up on her knees to embrace Shinobu tightly while tears continued to smear down her cheeks.
Slowly, Shinobu hugged back. She couldn’t help herself. Even if this was just some hallucination, she felt compelled to comfort her.
“Shinobu, I was so sad! I heard a crow report your death while I was fighting. I thought I’d never see you again and I felt really terrible.” Mitsuri cried, clutching tightly to Shinobu’s kimono. Afraid that if she let go, the younger girl would disappear.
What happened? What was this? Shinobu couldn’t understand. She shook her head, Mitsuri couldn’t truly be here. She was going to live on because she was strong. She was going to find love and get married like she always wanted. She wasn’t supposed to be here with her.
“You weren’t supposed to die.” Shinobu said aloud, her voice wavered slightly.
“And you were?” Mitsuri sniffled, another tear rolling over her cheek. “What happened Shinobu?”
“I... I faced the demon who killed my sister. He devoured me, but at a price. Kanao and Inosuke finished him off.”
“At a price, what do you mean Shinobu?”
Shinobu turned her head away, “I had been dosing my body with poison for months before the battle. It was the best way to assure my victory in the end.”
“You were planning that all this time. I knew something wasn’t right but I didn’t even try find out what was wrong,” Mitsuri wiped her nose with her sleeve.
“I hope you aren’t blaming yourself, I wouldn’t have told you even if you asked what I was up to. You had your own demons to fight.”
“But I wanted to be there for you! I remember how tired you looked the last time I got to see you. I thought we had more time, but then... Oyakata-sama and the explosion. I thought we had more time.” Mitsuri repeated through shaky breaths.
“Mitsuri...” Shinobu frowned. She had convinced herself years ago that she was on borrowed time, but Mitsuri had never seen it like that. Had it been cruel of her not to share her intentions?
“There was so much I wanted to do with you, so much I wanted to say that I didn’t even realize until I knew you were gone,” Mitsuri loudly sniffled again and Shinobu frowned into her shoulder, “I didn’t have time to mourn you properly, I had to keep fighting for everyone. I had to help fight Kibutsuji with everything I had so no one we lost died in vain.”
“You fought against Kibutsuji?” Shinobu asked, feeling a mixture of awe with a sting of, what, envy for making it that far? Sympathy for having to forge forward as comrades fell around her?
“I, uh, ripped his arms off actually.” Mitsuri exhaled a weak laugh at Shinobu’s expression. “It wasn’t enough, obviously, but after that it was... pretty much over for me.” Mitsuri sat back a bit, one hand over her chest while the other cupped her head. The wounds she sustained were gone, but their effects were still faintly felt.
Shinobu gently took hold of the hand Mitsuri held to her head, placing it on her lap with a comforting squeeze.
“You gave your all. You should be proud of yourself, I know I am.”
“Thank you,” Mitsuri wiped her eyes with her free hand. “We did it Shinobu, I was kind of already out of it by then, but Iguro-san told me we won, that Kibutsuji was defeated.”
“That’s... that’s really wonderful to hear. That’s honesty incredible news.” Shinobu smiled warmly whilst tears stung the corners of her eyes.
“I wish we could have seen it together, Shinobu. The world without demons.” Mitsuri kept a brave smile, but it was a watery one. She pulled her hand tentatively back up to her tear stained face, still holding Shinobu’s hand so it was cupped between her own hand and cheek, “I wish we could have done a lot of things together.” She confessed in a cracked whisper.
“Mitsuri?” Shinobu searched her face, trying to understand, but if the tightness in her chest was anything to go by, she already did.
“Shinobu, I love you! I love you a lot and I’m so upset that I didn’t tell you before. I’m so sorry!”
Shinobu simpered and brushed her captive thumb across Mitsuri’s cheek.
“You actually told me quite often how fond you were of me. You needn’t apologize, I always knew you looked upon me favorably.” Shinobu comforted. Mitsuri shook her head.
“I’m in love with you!” Mitsuri spoke with conviction, her pastel green eyes sprung fresh tears like a spring shower.
Shinobu’s lips parted in surprise.
“I wanted to tell you, really tell you, but I was so scared you wouldn’t like me at all anymore if I told you. I thought, the more time we spent together, maybe I’d find the courage to tell you... Oh, Shinobu,” Mitsuri reached her sleeve out to the other girl and gently wiped her face. Shinobu hadn’t realized she was crying.
Once she fully registered it, it was like a damn had burst.
As Shinobu’s breathing become more labored, erratic, Mitsuri pulled her to her chest and Shinobu clung tightly to her kimono. Years worth of anger and pain came in the form of hot tears. She couldn’t help but think of Kanae in her final moments, telling her to find love, to grow old and have a happy life. Even if she had tried to do what her sister had asked of her, it was always meant to end in tragedy.
“I love you too, so much. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to tell you.”
“If I don’t need to apologize, then you shouldn’t either. It’s alright, it probably would have hurt more, don’t you think?”
“I don’t know, it still hurts pretty damn bad.” Shinobu replied with a shuddering laugh and Mitsuri gave a weak giggle of her own.
They sat quietly for awhile in each other’s embrace, letting the rustling of the grass fill the silence between them. They could feel it, something was pulling at them, exhausting them as they tried to hold onto each other as long as possible. Whatever this supernatural intervention was, it seemed to be coming to an end. Mitsuri spoke up again, sounding quite fatigued as she ran her hand through Shinobu’s hair.
“Shinobu, if we were reborn again in the world without demons, could we try being together the way we only dreamed to be?”
“Of course, I’d love nothing more.” Shinobu whispered, reaching up to cradle Mitsuri’s face once more. Her arms felt heavy like lead.
Mitsuri hadn’t the strength to keep herself upright and slowly sunk in the direction of Shinobu’s body until their foreheads met. Shinobu, unable to keep them both up, fell to her back with Mitsuri flat on top of her.
“I’m really tired,” Mitsuri’s eyes drooped. She snuggled her nose into Shinobu’s neck.
“Yes, it won’t be long now.” Shinobu wasn’t really sure what it was, but it felt familiar.
“Shinobu, could I give you a kiss before I go to sleep?”
“Yes, please.”
With a grunt of effort, Mitsuri rose herself up slightly on wobbly elbows and bumped noses with Shinobu who was fighting to keep her eyes open. With perhaps a bit more force than intended, Mitsuri’s lips met Shinobu’s.
The kiss was ever so soft and a tad salty. It was rather short, but filled with loving intent. Mitsuri’s arms gave out and she came back down over Shinobu with a light grunt, her forehead bumped against Shinobu’s cheek. With a bit of effort, Shinobu turned her head, resting another kiss over Mitsuri’s hair, the other girl could hardly make a sound but Shinobu could tell she was pleased with the small affection.
It could have been a trick of her blurred vision, but Shinobu swore the once blank sky was now bathed in blue, a large, bright sun shining over them.
Shinobu smiled and allowed her eyes to finally fall completely shut, confident that she and Mitsuri would find each other again and enjoy the product of their hard work and sacrifice in another life.
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ship-trek · 24 days ago
I would like to know everything about your ships with Spock, Uhura and Bones please!!! KJFEWHKJFW if there's lore or fic I wanna read it and if there's art I wanna see it those three are VERY GOOD (I have a lot of love for TOS) @goldenworldsabound
!!!! I! Thank you for this lovely ask!! I also have a lot of love for TOS, it was the first Trek I watched and it's always going to have a special place in my heart!!
If you really want to know everything, we're going to be here for a while, so this is going under a cut for length. I should never have been enabled like this. None of them have any fics yet and I can't really draw all that well, so there's no art either, but I'm always happy to ramble about them and call it lore, so here we go!
Ok, as I'm writing down the lore for my ship with Spock, it's becoming a lot longer than I thought it would be - as in it's over 1000 words and we *just* got to Starfleet Academy. I'm going to trim it down a bit to try and get a shorter version and I'll probably turn the rest into a fic. Even with the cuts, though, this is really long. You've been warned.
Once I finish my WIPs with Nerys, I have some plans for some TOS fics, so hopefully my lovely friends will get their fair share of fics soon! I can tag you in any TOS fics I write if you'd like, but of course there's no pressure!
I selfship with Bones in the way I do to cope with some specific issues, so lore-wise it's a bit different than my other ships. I don't really have an s/i, it's just me here in our world. He's off on the Enterprise doing all those fun space things, but I can call him whenever I like and he always tries to get back to me as soon as possible if he misses the call at the time. He doesn't miss them often, though - he and I set up a system so I can mark calls as high, mid, or low priority and he'll interrupt almost anything to take a high priority call. I hardly ever use it, but it's nice to know I can reach him if I really need to. And he's amazing to talk to! He's really supportive and always willing to listen to me, and he gives the best hugs :)
I'm actually really excited because he's due back on Earth soon, and he promised to come visit! He can't visit often so every time he does he goes out of his way to make our time together special. It's one of the little ways he shows he really cares about me.
This is a fairly new ship for me, so I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do about Joanna. I'm unlikely to add her as a familial f/o, but we might end up as friends or I might just ignore her entirely. It's my canon now :)
So! I am a massive language nerd. I've been teaching myself both Vulcan and Klingon in addition to studying Latin, Japanese, and Spanish in school at various points. (Yes, Swahili is next on my list. Yes, this is because of Uhura.)
Nyota and I met at Starfleet Academy (more details on how I got there in Spock's lore as both ships use the same s/i) during one of our xenolingustics classes. She seemed super cool, but she had a friend group already, so I ended up being too scared to approach her. I haven't always been the best student, so I got into the habit of taking any extra credit opportunities that came my way. Our xenolinguistics teacher offered extra credit if we went to a presentation being hosted by the xenolingustics club, and I figured I had nothing to lose, so I showed up. Nyota saw me there, recognized me from class, and encouraged me to join the club. She seemed nice and I was free, so I said I'd try it out. I came to a few meetings and we ended up becoming friends!
I was never close with her friend group (we didn't have a lot in common and i just didn't fit their vibe) but she worked hard to make sure we still had time to hang out, and I never felt like she liked me any more or any less than the rest of her friends. How she balanced it all, I don't know. I still think she might be superhuman.
She was a year ahead of me and we ended up falling out of contact a little bit when she graduated. Between her (and later my) assignments, there was just never enough time, and as some of you may know (Sorry!!) my ability to stay in touch with people online is atrocious. We didn't stop talking entirely or stop being friends, but it wasn't until we were both assigned to the Enterprise that we were able to reconnect, and we're even better friends now than we were back then. I didn't exactly figure out who I was, but I grew more comfortable with the process of growing as a person and not having all the answers, and as a result I ended up way more confident in myself and with a lot less self loathing. Turns out, that makes you a lot more fun to be around! I still have a lot of work to do in that area, but I'm a lot better than I was back at the academy.
She and I hang out a lot on the Enterprise, sometimes with Spock or Nurse Chapel and sometimes just the two of us. We sing together, play games, talk in half a dozen languages (just because I don't know them yet doesn't mean my s/i can't!) and just do all those normal fun friend things. Sometimes we even teach or help each other learn new languages (I'm learning a new dialect of Klingon and she's learning Latin). One thing I've always really appreciated about her is the way she handles spontaneity with me - when she wants to hang out or change plans on short notice, she always gives me a really good sense of what she's suggesting we do and gives me the chance to raise any concerns or questions about it before we have to make a decision.
Interesting quirk of our friendship: I can usually be flexible about what we do but really need to know in advance who is going to be there, and she can usually be flexible about who's going to be there as long as she has a good sense of what we're going to do. It took us a little while to figure that out and start warning each other appropriately, but once we did things got a lot better!
It's really a crime that the writers didn't give us more Uhura-centric episodes because there are just so many things I want to know about her! This is also a new-ish ship for me, so the lore isn't quite as finalized as I'd like. If you see me changing things about our ship later, that's why!
Ok, important warnings time. My selfship with Spock fills a very particular emotional role for me that causes me to be unusually protective of him and our relationship. I'm aware that this isn't exactly emotionally healthy, and that's something I'm actively working on. Part of the benefit of my ship with him is that he can fill this role rather than me putting it on a real person, which, yeah, wouldn't be great. A lot of this has to do with him putting me first.
To be clear, I view my ship with him as happening in one of many similar but distinct universes (there's a TNG ep I'm thinking of here) that's separate from both canon and other people's ships with him. That's why I say that our s/is probably can't be friends (unless we have some universe crossover stuff going on). I would never want to get in the way of another person's ship with him! And this is the division of things that makes it easiest for me to wholeheartedly support others' ships with him, which is something I very much want to be able to do. (What I'm trying to communicate, badly, is that I want to be clear that I don't view the way he thinks about me as being true anywhere outside of my ship with him.)
I do refer to him as my best friend, the platonic other half of my soul, and other similarly intense terms, which he reciprocates. We also have a minor telepathic bond (I have Headcanons about Vulcan telepathy and no one can stop me from using them). Our relationship really is strictly platonic, but if that's going to make you uncomfortable, the time to stop reading is now! I'm also always happy to work out more detailed tags if needed.
Now! On to the actual ship stuff. I've changed around the lore a little bit recently to be a little truer to the way I've been shipping with him for the past 6-7 years, so hopefully this is the final(ish) lore. There are several moments where if canon says otherwise I simply do not see it. I am looking away. My canon now :)
It's late, later than I should have been out, but I'm too young to know better and too excited to care. My cousins are playing in the sand out ahead of me, but I've had enough of the noise and the people for right now, so I'm doing what I do best: wandering off when I shouldn't. The beach is busy but the nearby hills are quiet, so I start to climb. Even at that age, I hate sand, and the stone staircase is a welcome relief.
I was so focused on the climb to see him and by the time I reach the top, I'm too exhausted to do anything but flop on the ground. As soon as I do that my eyes turn skyward and then I'm too focused on the stars to do much of anything else. Even with the lights around, it's a dazzling display. Most call it science, but to my untrained eyes there's a much simpler word: magic.
Between the exhaustion and the stars, it takes me several minutes to realize I'm not alone. A Vulcan boy I don't recognize is sitting on a bench a few feet away from me, staring at something in his lap and staying very still. I watch him for a while and when he still hasn't moved, I walk closer. He twitches - clearly, he knows I'm here - but keeps his eyes fixed firmly on his PADD. If I were older, I would have gone down the hill and this would have been the end of it.
But I wasn't older. I was young, and dumb, and perhaps most dangerously of all, I was curious. I didn't go down the hill. Instead, I walked up, pulled myself up to sit on the far end of the bench, and asked the question that would end up shaping the rest of our lives:
"Have you ever looked up?"
And he did.
I rambled about the stars and asked about his logic homework, and he watched the stars and patiently answered my questions. By the time we parted ways, I was smiling with his contact information tucked safely into a pocket and he watched my go with the corners of his lips pulled up into that classic Vulcan not-quite-smile.
My mom recognized his name and description as the son of Amanda Grayson, a friend of a friend, and she let me use her PADD to keep in touch with Spock until I was old enough for my own. He turned out to be a few years older than me and a lot of fun to be around with a subtle sense of humor that never failed to make me laugh. We'd hang out in person whenever I went to Vulcan or he came to Earth and we talked almost every day online when we were apart. He was (and is) my best friend, and we saw each other through the highs and lows of growing up. Even when his bullies got really bad and when my school social life went down the drain, we always had each other, and somehow that was enough.
Because of something something Vulcan brain development, the eligible age to apply to Starfleet is 20 rather than 16. (ooc this is my headcanon and I need it for our backstory to work, so shh.) I was certain he would apply for Starfleet Academy the moment he was eligible, and I think his decision to wait for a year shocked everyone. I asked him about it, wondering if there was something wrong. We'd talked for ages about how much he wanted to escape Vulcan, so why wasn't he now that he finally had the chance?
His response? "Not all humans treat me as you do. The bullying is unlikely to change, only its source. If I am to be bullied no matter my path, I will choose the one in which we are together."
I have never felt more honored in my life.
We applied for Starfleet together the next year. His father was devastated displeased that he did not choose the Vulcan Science Academy, my parents were upset that I was moving out so young, and we rolled up to Starfleet Academy as the resident pair of family disappointments. Good times.
The academy was a blast, though. We got to see each other! In person! Every day! I was there to stand up to the people who teased him, he was there to encourage me to make good choices, and we both were there to remind each other that sleep is a necessary biological function not to be ignored. We were both studying science, but he focused on the astrophysics side and I focused more on the biology side, so we didn't share too many classes, but we'd hang out all the time in between classes and we tried to take the same electives when we could. Having similar interests helped a lot on that front.
I was a weird child that had by now grown into a weird teenager, so I didn't have a ton of friends at first. Even when it started directly affecting his social life, Spock was never embarrassed to be seen with me, and though he claims that he would be treated the same without me... I doubt it. Still, though, it helped a lot to have him there, and he's never held it against me.
I did convince him to do a show with me once. He tries to hold that one against me but he had fun and we both know it. Besides, it's my job to drag him into illogical things sometimes :)
We graduated together but like so many close friends are, we were posted to different ships. It was a weird time for us. I was doing great, honestly. I was medicated for my chronic illness (finally!), in therapy (finally!), and I loved my ship and fellow officers. My job was interesting and engaging and I was having a blast. Spock, on the other hand, started to struggle a little bit. Though he always treated me like an equal, I think there was a part of his mind that always thought he was a little bit better than me, and seeing me succeed seemingly effortlessly where he was struggling was hard for him. We got through it, though, and he got some better accommodations (and later a transfer to a ship that fit him better) which made everything a lot better. I even ended up taking some engineering classes and wound up getting a degree in engineering too, just for fun.
Before we knew it, he was the first and science officer of the Enterprise and I was a lieutenant commander working for him. (I say working for him, but really it's a lot more like working alongside him. Most people in the science department assume that if you tell something to one of us and don't specifically say not to tell the other, we will, so you can basically report things to either of us.) I do some work for Scotty too, and Kirk likes to joke that I'm an honorary member of the bridge crew at this point. It was a funny joke right up until I started getting invited to briefings, but hey, who am I to complain?
Serving together is a lot of fun. I'm one of the only people on board who doesn't constantly pressure him to show his emotions, with the result that he is a lot more emotional with me. He knows that I don't view his moments of emotion as a reflection of how Vulcan he is or isn't, so he has nothing to gain by hiding them. Mostly, I don't comment on them, which is his preference.
While we're both happy to offer each other emotional support when needed, most of the time we end up just sitting with each other and letting them process it on their own. Between my emotional regulation issues and his I Am A Vulcan mentality, it's been a great way for us to show each other the support we crave without worrying about finding the perfect words.
Speaking of words, I'm one of very few people on the ship who speaks Vulcan. I actually learned it years ago because of him so we've been speaking it to each other for a while, and we take the Vulcan tendency to drop words to a truly ridiculous extent. Uhura tends to joke that we created our own language somewhere along the line, but it's a fun way to annoy Bones when he really gets on our nerves. He can't even complain about it because as it turns out having the ability to converse in a way no one else understands is very, very useful when a mission goes south. You can't really complain about something that's saved your life, now can you?
The telepathic bond (again, very minor and strictly platonic) came about when he had to meld with me on one such mission gone wrong. It wasn't planned, though we'd talked about it in the past and neither of us was upset by it. Bones tried to joke that our minds were so compatible that we were probably going to start dating now and immediately found himself on the receiving end of two death glares. Credit to him, he never made that joke again. We view each other like family anyway, so yeah. No.
But I like the bond we have! It's nice to know when he's uncomfortable but not saying anything and it's easier for me to tell when he's protesting for effect and really does want to go along with my bizarre illogical scheme and when he'd rather not. As someone with no real sense of social cues or sarcasm, it's a lifesaver. Besides, he's been a lot more comfortable with causal touch between us since it formed, which is great for me.
We also play a lot of D&D together. It's something I got him into but which he took to like a fish to water, and the lengths we go to to avoid scheduling conflicts for our weekly game night are probably a bit excessive, shall we say, but it helps that all the friends we'd normally have conflicts with end up getting invited too. He very rarely DMs, but when he does, you better hope someone in your party has a decent intelligence stat because his puzzles are amazing. Seriously, I don't think you've really played a puzzle based game of D&D until you've played one of his. Works of art, I tell you.
I could go on about him for hours, but I'll wrap it up here for time and length's sake. If you have any more specific questions, I think I've already effectively demonstrated that I'm incapable of shutting up about him!
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chickensarentcheap · 26 days ago
I Found -Chapter 3
Once again, this is just being reposted as a sort of ‘celebration’ of first anniversary of both the film’s release, and the start of my series.  Feel free to reblog or like or comment or DM me :)
Keep in mind, this is a year old and it’s rough and choppy, but instead of editing, I left it as is to show the difference between my stuff then, and my stuff now :)
Summary: Broken and bleeding. Weathered and in tatters. Two damaged and weary souls find one another when they least expect it. Wrong place, wrong time. Yet both powerless to stop it.
Tagging:  @tragiclyhip
WARNINGS: some profanity
Link to this (and the rest of the series can be found there as well) on Ao3:
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The beach is his favourite place. The sounds and smell of the ocean. The way the sunlight glistens and dances on the rippling water. It is his ultimate escape; the sun's warm and relaxing rays, the texture of the powdery sand between his toes. He's blessed to have a place like this so close to home. A place that he can share with his two most favourite people in the world. It's where they have their best conversations. Where they both feel the most relaxed; calmed by the lapping of the ways and the laughter and chatter of passing families. He sits with his legs stretched out in front of him; sunglasses on, back resting against the cooler of snacks and drinks behind him. A bottle of Gatorade on one side of him and his wife and daughter on the other.
He watches them out of the corner of his eye; the baby in the middle of the blanket enjoying some 'tummy time', clad in a white swimsuit dotted with bright rainbow fish, a tiny sunhat perched a top of her head. His wife in that simple yet sexy black one piece bathing suit, an Undearmour ball cap she'd snagged from his side of the room pulled low on her forehead, her legs folded crisscrossed and her eyes riveted on the book in her lap.
He reaches out and runs his fingers along her arm, and she casts a glance in his direction. Softly smiling as she entwines her fingers with his and places their joined hands on her thigh.
“Bloody hot today,” he says, as he runs his left hand over his face. The metal of the white gold wedding band he sports cool against his face. He takes a swig of the Gatorade and places the bottle between his thighs. Eyes closing as he leans his head back against the cooler.
He isn't sure how much time has passed when he hears her voice. Did he drift off? Did he manage to catch a half an hour of sleep? Or had it just been a few minutes? The position of the sun hasn't changed. But the baby is now on her back and Esme has abandoned the book in favour of dangling a plush singing koala over their daughter's head. The baby is starting to change; she's starting to focus more, her eyes responding to to their voices or activity going on around her. She smiles now; a smile that makes the corners of her eyes crinkle. His smile.
“There's trouble in Dhaka,” Esme says, her eyes never leaving the baby, the smile never fading. But he sees the tension in her shoulders. He hears it in her voice. She's tried to pass the comment off so smoothly and naturally. But he hears it. Loud and clear.
He sighs. “I know.”
“Apparently it is some cronies of Asif. I guess we really shouldn't be surprised. It was bound to happen. Guys like that have an army of rats behind him. I guess those rats have been hiding long enough. They're back out scurrying around and chewing shit up.”
“That's Dhaka's problem to worry about. Not ours.”
“It won't be long until it's on our doorstep. Nik will call soon. Don't be surprised.”
“She can call all the fuck she wants. There's nothing I can do to help. Best I can do is train some guys and give out advice and come up with plans. That's where I'm at these days.”
Hardly the role he played in the past. But at least it was something. He least he wasn't crippled up somewhere. Or dead. At least he could bring home some kind of pay check and provide for his family.
“You're a hundred times better than you were a year ago. And she knows that. She'll expect more from you.”
“Let her. I know my limits. I'm not the man I was a year ago. You think I'm close to it. I'm not. You have too much faith in me.”
“Well...” she sighs. “...someone has to have faith in you.”
And there it is. The honest to goodness truth. She's not saying it to be hurtful. He knows that. She's saying it because he needs to hear it.
“Why are we even talking about this?” Tyler inquires, trying not to let the aggravation seep from his voice.
“Just making conversation.”
“Bullshit. If you were just making conversation, you'd talk about the book you were reading. Or where we're going to go for lunch. Or how you wish the baby was old enough to learn how to swim and surf. That's the kind of stuff you usually talk about.”
She drags her teeth against her bottom lip. The smile is gone now. Those eyes have darkened.
“What's going on?” he presses. “You're usually the one asking me that but now it's my turn. What's wrong?”
“Ovi messaged me,” her hand tightens around his. She doesn't look at him. “While you were at the gym this morning.”
Usually he's the one that Ovi is contacting. Texts. Emails. Facetime. She and the kid are tight, but nowhere near as tight as he is with Tyler. They lived thousands of miles away but they kept the bond alive. Ovi had followed every step of his medical journey and his rehab and his struggle to get back on his feet. He'd come to their wedding. Met their daughter through a live feed. He even liked to call himself 'Uncle Ovi'. And Tyler had taken him under his wing once again. This time providing him with the guidance and the nurturing that only a father can do for their teenage son. And he was the closest thing that kid had to a father.
Ovi Sr was very much still alive. But might as well have been very much dead.
“Why? Why would he message you?”
“I guess he was worried to message you about it. I guess he was worried how you'd react. That maybe you'd get mad that he even brought it up.”
“Instead you bring it up so I can get mad at you.”
She frowns “That's is not why I brought it up. I didn't want this turning into a fight, Tyler. I wasn't trying to make you mad.”
“I'm not mad,” he assures her. “Annoyed as fuck, but not mad.”
Sighing, she finally looks at him. And he hates what he sees. That haunted look that registers on every inch of her face. And he hates himself for being that one that put it there. And out of reassurance, he lifts their joined hands to his lips and presses a kiss to the inside of her wrist.
“He's worried,” she says. “He's been getting phone calls. Messages. Letters.”
“From who?”
“He doesn't know. He doesn't recognize the writing.”
“What do they say?”
“They're threats mostly. About watching his back. Needing eyes on the back of his head. How is big, bad bodyguard isn't around any more. I think they think you're dead.”
“Good. Let them think that.”
“He's worried, Tyler. He's scared. He's lost. He doesn't know what to do.”
“I'll call him later. I'll help him figure something out.”
“I told him that maybe he should come here, but he doesn't want to leave home. And he has friends and school and it wouldn't be fair to him to give all the up and come to Australia.”
“I said I'd figure something out. I always do.”
“I mean, he said he'd come here if he had to. But he doesn't want to be that far from his dad. Not like he has anything to do with his father, but still.”
“He already has guys watching him. I'll talk to Nik. Get a few more sent over there.”
“It won't matter how many she sends or how many are there. None of them are you.”
Fuck me, he thinks, and once more wishes for a drink. Something strong. Something powerful enough to wash down that uneasiness that sits in his throat. It settles in his chest; gnaws at his stomach.
“We're not talking about this,” he says. “Not here. Not now. Not ever.”
“He's in trouble, Tyler. You can't ignore that.”
“Didn't you hear me the first time? I said I'd get Nik to send more guys there. We're not going down this road. We're not talking about this.”
“You're the only one he trusts. That he fully trusts.”
“Is this really the hill you want to die on? I love you and I'd lay down my life for you. In a heartbeat. But you need to stop. Stop while you're ahead. Because this is a rabbit hole you do not want to fall down.”
“You can try and push this way. You can try and push me away. But this is happening. This is a real threat. Real trouble. And he trusts you, Tyler. He needs you.”
“And I love that kid like my own. You know that. But you know who also needs me? You know who needs me more than he does? My family. My wife. My child. They need me way more than he does. And I'm not fucking good to either of you when I'm thousands of miles away.”
“I didn't say you have to go alone.”
He gives an incredulous laugh. “Are you fucking kidding me right now? Are you listening to yourself? Are you hearing what you're saying? This is fucking ridiculous,” he huffs, and yanking his hand out of hers, attempts to get to his feet. But she grabs him by the forearm with a surprising amount of strength and forces him to sit back down.
“We ARE having this conversation,” her voice is low. Eyes narrowed. “We ARE talking about this. Because it damn well needs to be talked about. Now. Not later. Because you damn well know that call is going to come. That Nik is going to call and she's going to say all the things I just said. And you'll listen to her. Because for some reason you seem to ignore me but listen to her.”
“Don't start that shit. She's your friend. Just because her and I had a thing a long time ago, doesn't mean fuck all now. That's the past. You're the present. The future. So don't be bringing petty, childish shit into this. Into our marriage. Don't play those fucking games with me. You've got the wrong guy for that shit.”
“She's going to call. And she's going to say everything I just did. And you know what, Tyler? She'll be right. Just like I am. You can try and ignore this. You can try and pretend that you don't care. But I know you. Better than you know yourself half the time. And if I didn't think this was serious...if I didn't think there was real trouble...I wouldn't bring this up at all. But Ovi needs you.”
“What can I do for him? Huh? What the fuck can I do? Look at me. I mean really look at me. Past that fucking vision you have of me that you can't seem to let go of. That man...that man you first met...he's dead. He's gone. I can't help him. I can barely help you. Or our daughter.”
“Now who is talking shit?” she retorts. “You need to stop this, Tyler. You need to stop beating yourself up like this. You're the bravest man I've ever known. The strongest I've ever met. Look how far you've come. Look at how well you're doing. If anyone can help, it's you. It's what you do. You help people.”
“When I'm not fucking people up and killing them, you mean?”
“You can't pretend that side of you never existed,” she argues. “You can't pretend that he isn't still inside of you. It's possible, you know. To be this Tyler and THAT Tyler.”
“I cross that line again, I might not be able to cross back. And then what? I become the old Tyler and this life is over. Could you really live with that guy? Be married to him? Have a family with him? Any normal future? Why the hell would you want to?”
“Maybe because I love you, you insufferable pain in the ass. Maybe because I knew the old Tyler. That's the Tyler I fell in love with. The Tyler that reeled me in. And this Tyler...the Tyler you are now...that's just a bonus. But I don't pretend that the other Tyler never existed. He isn't dead to me. He's very much alive. And you know he is. Why do you fight it?”
“Because that isn't who I want to be any more,” he snarls. “That isn't the man I want to be. I want to be a better man. For you.”
“And you are. But I need that old Tyler. And so does Ovi.”
“Jesus fucking Christ...” he mutters, and puts a hand to his forehead as he closes his eyes. He tries to calm himself. Long, slow, deep breaths that he exhales slowly. “I can not believe we are actually talking about this.”
“I figured it would be the best time do it. When you were relaxed and calm and...”
“Don't you think something should have told you that this was the wrong fucking place? The wrong fucking time?” he doesn't even try to bite back the vehemence on his tongue. “This couldn't wait? Until we were home? You had to do this here? Like what the fuck?”
Silence falls between them. He can't remember the last time that a silence was this uncomfortable between them. They rarely fought other than the stupid shit that couples quarrel over. And he very rarely raised his voice towards her. Normally he could walk away before it got that far. But now he felt helpless. Cornered. The last bit of control slipping through his fingers.
“This is bullshit,” he grumbles, and sips at the Gatorade He can't look at her. He just can't. The rage is too raw. And it absolutely disgusts him that he feels that way towards her. “Why would you do this?” his voice is low as his eyes survey the horizon. The sparkling blue water, the clouds that hang low in the sky, the people that frolic in the surf. “Why the hell would you bring this up? Not just here. But at all.”
“I wouldn't have brought it up if it wasn't serious,” she sounds like she's going to cry. Or strangle him. Maybe even both. “Tyler...please...please look at me...”
“I can't,” fuck he hates himself. He despises feeling this way. Especially towards her. “I just can't.”
“You have to. Please. Please look at me.”
He inhales a sharp breath and then exhales solely before turning to look at her. Keeping those sunglasses on so she can't see the tears that threaten. Tears of anger. Frustration. Regret. So many emotions that he detests.
“He needs you, Tyler. Ovi needs you.”
“I can't help him. You know that. What the hell do you expect me to do?”
“I expect you do what you need to do. You were a mercenary. You still are. That part is never going to disappear. No matter how hard you try. “
“I can't go down that road again. I can't. I have too much to lose.”
“You aren't going to lose us. I'm not going anywhere. She's not going anywhere. We're in this together. The three of us.”
“I'm not putting you in danger. Not again. Especially not now. We have a family. We have a baby. That needs us. That isn't a life she deserves to be dropped into it. She's just a baby.”
“And she trusts you. I trust you. With my life. With both of our lives. You have to do this Tyler. And I think you know that. And deep down I think you want to.”
“I can't lose you. I can't lose her. I just can't. I can't make those mistakes again.”
“I'm not your ex wife Tyler. And she isn't your son. You have to stop letting that eat you up. You can't change the past. You can't go back and change things. You just can't. And that guilt and that regret? It's only going to keep eating at you. Killing yourself isn't going to bring him back. And I know you'll never see yourself the way that I do. You're always going to think that I have too much faith in you. But I'm never going to hate you the way that you hate yourself. No matter how hard you try.”
He nods slowly, the words hitting home. It isn't the first time they'd had this conversation. But it's the first time she's been this brutally honest.
“Sometimes...” she draws in a shaky breath. “..sometimes I feel like I left you behind on that bridge. That you're here but I still lost you.”
“Well you didn't. And if you ask me, you're the one that's hanging onto this. You can't let it go. You just can't let it go, can you.” It's a statement more than a question.
“I don't know how you expect me to. I almost lost you. You almost died in my arms. How do I let that go?”
“You fucking remind yourself that I didn't die. That I'm here. You remind yourself until you're sick of hearing it. And then you remind yourself a million times more.”
“It's not that easy,” she shakes her head. “But I wish it was.”
He reaches for her. Yanking off her ball cap and tossing it to the ground, then laying a hand on the back of her head and pulling her into him. She nestles her face in the spot between his neck and his shoulder. That favourite little spot of hers that made her feel safe and warm. And he wraps both arms around slender body and presses a kiss to the top of her head.
“Loving her doesn't mean any you don't love him anymore,” she says,
“How did we get back onto this? Quit going back and forth with things. You're confusing the shit out of me.”
“I know it's what you think. You think because she's here and you love her as much as you do, it means that you're going to forget him. That you're love for him will somewhat diminish. He'd want you to move on, Tyler. He'd want you to be happy. You have so much love to give. I know you don't see yourself that way. But I do. And I bet he did too.”
He doesn't want to talk about it. Not here. Not ever, to be honest. But she is the one person he CAN talk about these things with. The one person that won't judge him. Who won't make him feel like an enormous prick for making the decisions that he did.
“He would have made a really good big brother,” he muses. “He would have loved her. And she would have loved him. I'm sure of it.”
It's a comforting thought. But the reality of the situation was that if his son hadn't died, his daughter more than likely wouldn't be here. And neither would Esme. His first marriage may have worked out. And he definitely wouldn't have been hell bent on destroying himself. There'd be no Nik. No Ovi. And there would have been no G, or the rest of the team, or Gaspar.
So many things would be different. And despite the pain and mistakes of the past, he quite enjoys where his life is now. A wife, a child, possibly more in the future. And they wouldn't be sitting here on this beach if he hadn't had made the decision to go to Afghanistan while his son was dying .
It is truly amazing how one decision can change the entire course of your future.
“You're suffocating me,” she mutters against him. Completely unaware of how tight his hold on her had actually been.
“That's for all the times you made me drink kale smoothies and watch chick flicks,” he teases, dropping a kiss on the top of her head and tousling her hair.
“I only made you drink smoothies because that's how I hid the Viagra,” she playfully retorts.
“Of all the things you know would wound me, you pick the worst one?” he pinches her in the side; tickling her until she's giggling hysterically, out of breath and struggling to get away. “What a bitch move. Going right for the manhood. Right for the juggler.”
“I guess I learned from the best,” she says, and then shrieks and elbows him in the gut when he pinches the flesh at her hip. “Don't be such a dick,” she pouts dramatically.
“I'd make a comment about my dick but you'll accuse me of being a pig and apparently you think I need Viagra so you're never getting the dick ever again.”
“And you say I go for the juggler. That's harsh, Tyler. That is super fucking harsh.”
He gets her in that sensitive spot right behind the knee. Squeezing what little flesh there is until she's flat on her back and using her feet in his gut to try and push him away. Until they're both laughing and passerbys are shooting them curious glances; some shaking their heads at the silliness from grown adults, others smiling along with them. And when he brings on of her feet to her face and bites at one of her toes, she gives a yelp that's loud enough to startle the baby from her nap.
“Now look what you've done,” Esme huffs, as she straightens her bathing suit. “You've woken the beast.”
“She's fine. And don't you talk about my daughter like that. She's a princess. Daddy's princess.”
“A princess who will be able to kick some major ass when she's older.”
“That's the plan,” confirms, and then lays down on his stomach alongside of the baby, resting a hand on her stomach. “Don't listen to that mean old lady. Calling you a beast like that. When she's the one that is a total bitch half the time.”
“Takes one to know one,” his wife shoots back, then lies down on her side across from him. Their tiny daughter safe and secure between them. Esme's hand comes to rest on his; thumb stroking his wrist and the base of his fingers. “Tell me everything is going to be okay, Tyler. Tell me that WE'RE going to be okay.”
“We will,” he promises. “We'll be fine.”
He only hopes he sounds more convincing to her ears than he does to his own
0 notes
lillianastras · 27 days ago
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” -- The Darkling x Reader
Pairing: The Darkling x Reader (no surprise here)
Warnings: none, I think
Summary: The Darkling and his second spar in the morning, after he starts to doubt her abilities have worsened over time.
A/N: I feel so great that I actually used my own experience in martial arts for writing this. Also, I’m so empowered by all the great feedback I’m getting from you guys. If anyone has requests, please send those my way!
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“Rule number one,” he says, “Only take a break after saying you need a break. Otherwise I won’t know and will wipe the ground with you.” Her eyebrows shoot up and he has to fight a smile, glad he caused the reaction. “Rule number two,” he continues, hands behind his back, his wrists wrapped in cloths, to numb the harshness of his blows. “No Small Science. Whatever you do to me, you do it with your own two hands.” “That was just plain filthy.”
This time Aleksander grits his teeth, not appreciating the interruption. She is standing in the middle of the training grounds, arms crossed in front of her chest, the same irritated expression on her face since she had woken up. He could tell she was looking around, looking for an opportunity, an excuse to leave. Yet, there is little chance that anyone else is up this early, except by the pair of guards by the gate.
“The Drüsskele attacks are getting more aggressive than ever,” he hisses , trying his best not to raise his voice at her. “You need to know how to defend yourself when they hold your hands apart.”  It’s not happening again, he thinks. The years have passed, but even time didn’t manage to blur the memory of Luda bleeding out on the ground. “I know how to defend myself!” She hisses back, and the Darkling gives her a cold stare.
“Ivan said he managed to tackle you to the ground several times yesterday.”
Her lips curl in disdain, but not for Ivan, he knows. She likes the Heartrender probably as much as he does, which came as a surprise at the start. He is rude and harsh, but even he manages to crack the occasional smile to two in her presence. That’s just how she is.
No, he thinks, the grimace just proves the truth in his words. Her skills had deteriorated, and she needs to get herself together. For her own good.
“Ivan is bigger than me,” she mumbles, but her eyes are staring at the ground. Even she realises this is a poor excuse, if any excuse at all. 
“They are always going to be bigger than you. And I might not be there to have your back at all times.” It might not matter, he thinks bitterly, and his hands ball into fists, even if I am.
“Alright.” The easy agreement comes as a surprise, although easy might be an understatement. She gave her best efforts to keep him in bed this morning with gentle caresses, suggestive whispers and kisses down his neck. But still, he had dragged her outside as quickly as he could and she was sour ever since.  “Let’s see if you get to wipe the ground with me.” She adds and he knows he managed to annoy her.
She takes her battle stance, her guard up and the Darkling sighs, eyes turning to look around. The sun is starting to rise higher in the sky and he realises he has little time left, just because no, Aleksander, you cannot ruin my reputation by throwing me around in front of everyone. Soon, people would start waking up, ready to start the day and they would have to leave training for tomorrow, when he would have to bring himself to say no to her advances again and… No. They have to start today.
She raises her eyebrow at him, challenge barely veiled, and he takes a deep breath, letting the thrill of the upcoming fight wash over him.
His first punch is not that fast, he knows, and she manages to dodge it with ease. Her elbow slams in his chest in return and was most probably going do force the air from his lungs if he hadn’t tensed. He is forced a step back. When he looks at her, there’s a small cold smirk growing on her face. She isn’t that out of practise after all. The Darkling squints his eyes and starts to pay more attention.
This time she doesn’t wait for him to charge, and when she aims her foot for between his legs, he knows he had touched a nerve. He blocks the kick with his forearm, but he doesn’t bother stop the grin that is slowly stretching on his face. Quick as a cat, he closes the distance between them, taking a tight hold of her wrists, their faces so close she could head-butt him in the nose if she wanted to.
“Is that why you’re so irritable all morning,” he asks, letting out a quiet grunt when she stomps on his foot, but he doesn’t let go. “Because I wouldn’t sleep with you?” This time he manages to move his foot in time and she groans as she misses. “For real?”
“No,” she answers quickly, too quickly, and he grins even wider, because her reaction is so petty, that he can’t really help himself. “You’re putting way too much faith in your ability to —” 
He doesn’t let her finish and puts his foot behind hers, giving her a harsh push. She looses her balance and falls ass first on the muddy ground, shock written on her beautiful face.
He grins down at her, reaching out a hand to help her up. She finally comes back to her senses and looks around, her pants and shirt far from clean, mud covering her hands. She grits her teeth and whispers something under her breath, and Aleksander recognises Ivan’s name, followed by a string of curses. She then glares up at him and stands up on her own, ignoring his open hand. 
“Again,” she demands, squinting her eyes against the reddish strays of the morning sun. The Darkling attacks again, this time not holding back as much as the first time. 
He doesn’t realise how much time passes, punches delivered and blocked from both of them, until they are both panting messes, sweat dripping from their foreheads and sticking strands of hair to their skin. Aleksander allowed himself a moment of distraction, glancing around the training grounds. The palace was slowly coming back to life, voices heard from inside and the occasional kefta-clad figure running around the place.
“Scared someone will see that you’re getting your ass kicked?” Her guard is up and he can’t see the shit-eating grin that is plastered on her face, but he can practically hear it. It’s amazing what an hour of good sparring can do for one’s mood.
“You wish,” he calls back. “Final round?”
“I thought you’ll never ask.”
A smile creeps its way on the Darkling’s face. He takes slow, careful steps to the side, circling her, and her eyes follow him, not even blinking. Yet she is too focused on his movements that she doesn’t notice him close the distance at all. Just like he intends. 
She is so surprised by the sudden attack, that she barely fights back when he grabs her wrist and gives her a harsh tug. He bends it behind her back in a swift motion, enough to trap it between his body and hers. 
His free hand goes straight for her throat, fully pressing her back against him.
She tries to wriggle out of his grasp, but he presses her forearm slightly upwards and she hisses in pain, giving the hand that is wrapped around her throat a few quick taps, to let him know she surrenders. He stops the pressure on her arm, but doesn’t let go just yet. He leans in, his breath tickling her ear. “Not too bad,” he whispers, and he has to remind himself that they are out in public, “but you still have much to learn.”
She finally releases her, and grins when she turns around and her eyes are a little hazy. She takes a deep breath and when her gaze finds his, she shakes her head at his smirk, her hand rubbing her wrist to dissolve any pain.
“Careful General,” she lowers her voice to a whisper and theatrically looks around, as if to make sure no one is listening. “Someone might actually see you smile.” She sighs. “Can we call this a draw?”
He outright laughs at her audacity. “A draw? You didn’t win even one round!”
“I disagree.” She shakes her head and gives him a cocky raise of her eyebrow and a wave of her hand.“Plus that last one was hardly fair.”
His gaze hardens. Even though the last round really was more playful than aggressive, he had managed to disarm her and have the upper hand after all. If it wasn’t his hand around her throat, she’d be dead. She needed the practice.
As though she reads his mind, she rolls her eyes. “I won’t admit that you were right.”
He snorts a humourless laugh. He doesn’t really expect her to.  “But we continue tomorrow.” It’s neither a request, nor a question. It’s an order from a General to his warrior.
She sighs and he knows she’s about to murmur some complaint. Shockingly, gives in with a shake of her head and after a long observation of her clothes, ruined from the mud, she mutters a quiet. “You’re the boss.”
He grins. “I’m the boss.”
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splat-dragon · 27 days ago
Everybody knows the war is over Everybody knows the good guys lost Everybody knows the fight was fixed
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking Everybody knows that the captain lied
Image: Foggy Forest Leonard Cohen - Everybody Knows
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Ain’t nothin’ fair, he’ll tell you that.
 Those that hold power - they like to say they were lucky. That anyone else could be them if only the dice had rolled that little bit more, they’d tried a little harder, if, if, if. Which was total bullshit, of course. Luck didn’t work that way - luck could be bribed, could be bought, could be won.
 The dice were weighted. The ones who won, who were rich, who came out alive, they loaded the dice, did something to turn things in their favor. Bribed, prepared, did something - there was no such as luck, he knew that now.
  Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
Their fight is over, he won’t tell you that.
 And they've lost. The dice have landed at his feet, a pair of ones peering back at him, and damned them all. They’ve fought - and they’ll keep fighting - but they’ve won some battles and lost so many others, and they keep losing, and the war was lost, he knows it, he won't tell you that but he can see what's in front of his eyes, they call him blind but he can see as well as any other man.
 The fight was fixed. He had an army twenty strong - and an army he is afraid to lose. Family, he calls them, and sometimes they are even more than that. The army - a true army, and all those others he fought, they didn’t care, had countless at their disposal, warm bodies that were replaced before they cooled on the dirt. When one of his falls - and they do, eventually, inevitably - they are buried, and mourned, and their loss felt dearly, and he has no one to replace them with.
 Though they have something to fight for - freedom, family, fortune - they only have so much. So much ammo, so much supplies, so many people.
 The war is over, but they’ll keep fighting.
 They have no other choice.
  The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Things ain’t fair, he’ll tell you that.
 They’d been Robin Hoods, once upon a time. When they could afford to be. When it had been safe to be. Before he’d realized the futility of it all. Of stealing from the rich to give to the poor - the money only poured from the poors’ hands, gone quick as it was given, spent on cheap boots that would go bare before the year was out, on so much food that would mold as they had nowhere to store it. And the rich would curse, and cry, and call for their necks, but it would change nothing, they’d have their money back and more in a weeks’ time.
 And they were the poor now, the needy, the hungry and thirsty and desperate.
  Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
He’s slipping, he won’t tell you that.
 Folk are bailing, running, scattering like rats from a sinking ship, leaving him behind. People he’d once called family, trusted them to be behind him always. But blood is up to his ankles and water is nearing his nose and though he manages to keep above water he never can catch up to them.
 He tries to be who he used to be - had he used this word? or that one? But the speeches he can find don’t read like him, he can hardly remember writing them like through a thick fog, and the speeches he give don’t hold their attention anymore and he knows he’s lying, pretty words that wilt before they leave his mouth, that crumble to dust in his family’s ears, and they know it but he has to say something or the rest will trickle through his fingers as so many grains of sand, every morning he wakes up and someone else is gone and he can’t lose them too.
  Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Things have changed, he’ll tell you that.
 They used to be family, tighter than blood can bind. Just a look and they’d be riding out together, gun to gun, side by side, not a question needed. But now a single word can spark an argument, even a glance and they’ll be at each other’s throats, Charles and Arthur having to break up more fights than he can ever remember them having to do so before. And where before a drink shared between brothers or sisters could mend the bond as well as any needle and thread, resentment festers and grows with every argument, with every word, with every breath they continue to draw.
 He read in a book once, a place described as ‘a graveyard full of ghosts who don’t yet know they’re dead.’ and on some days, his lucid days, his honest days, he looks at their faces: the sad ones, the hangdog ones, the black eyes, the sleepless ones, the bloodshot ones and tearstained ones, and thinks that Beaver Hollow could well be that graveyard.
  Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stem rose
Everybody knows
They’re struggling, he won’t tell you that.
 Someone burned the ledger, smashed the tithing box, and though Micah and Joe and Cleet had dug through everything, had turned the camp upside down, Dutch had even checked their stash just in case it had gotten added to it somehow, the money that had been inside was gone.
 Dutch doesn’t know who, but he’s sure it’s one of the people who left - taking the money Micah and Arthur and everyone else worked so hard to contribute, the supplies as well, to fund their new life, to start out on a high note, to begin with weighted dice and a cushion, to not have to begin again and to leech off other’s hard work.
  When Micah shows up with his guns newly engraved only a few days later, Dutch has already forgotten.
  Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you've been faithful
Oh, give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
Everybody knows
There’s a rat in the gang, he’ll tell you that.
 He’s not sure who - it could be anyone, he thinks, though some days he has his suspicions of some people more than others; some days he’s positive he knows who it is and others he hasn’t the faintest clue, more often than not he’s positive he knows it’s not Micah and then some days, his honest days, he thinks “Maybe…?” but those days are becoming fewer and far between, and maybe it’s one of the girls but they haven’t left the gang in ages and Javier is always on guard so maybe it’s one of the girls and Javier is in on it, or maybe it’s Javier himself? Or maybe it’s Arthur, some days he’s certain, the man has always been faithful, loyal, sometimes too much so, willing to throw himself down on a spike-pit if it would help the gang, but people change - Dutch would know, after all, Hosea had changed towards the end, he’d lost faith and become a coward (and on his honest days he’s horrified at those thoughts) - and the man is so rarely in camp, “Around” he always says when Dutch asks, gets frustrated when he’s pressed, has taken up with Smith and is fighting the wrong war.
  Everybody knows
Everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows
Everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
  And everybody knows that it's now or never
Everybody knows that it's me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
When you've done a line or two
John was dying, he won’t tell you that.
 He was sprawled on the tracks, silhouetted with blood, and he was so far gone when he found him that he’d been gasping ‘Pa,’ not ‘Dutch,’ and he hadn’t had the heart to put him down or watch him die so he’d turned The Count and ridden back - it had hurt, to leave him to rot, but his family needed the money more and they could always go back to bury him later.
 If they left the money it’d be long gone, while an outlaw’s corpse would be untouched.
 Sometimes you have to be a leader, not a father.
  Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows
Jack’s an orphan, he won’t tell you that.
 Abigail… well, he hates to leave her behind, but he ain’t gonna risk the safety of the gang for a woman. One, he thinks, might be a rat - because how was it she survived being captured by the Pinkertons in Saint Denis when Hosea had been killed? She’d not been discreet in her distaste, in her distrust, in her want to leave with their boy.
 And they’d be retrieving a body, besides. The Pinkertons didn’t show their captives any kindnesses - even women. Knowing Abigail, they’d have done away with her quickly, and it might have even been a mercy.
 And he wasn't going to risk his family to retrieve a corpse.
  And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows
His boys are traitors, he’ll tell you that.
 Arthur’s talked to the Pinkertons - he says he did so while saving Abigail, but can he really trust his word anymore? And John’s alive, swearing Dutch left him behind but he’d been dying, he hadn’t had a choice, can’t he see that? And they’re pointing their guns at their family, breaking the number one rule of the gang, and he wants to tell them to put their damn guns down, to leave, he doesn’t want to kill his boys but they have a rule about traitors, they have laws for a reason, and as much as he hates it his boys aren’t exceptions to them.
  And everybody knows that you're in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it's coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
Everybody knows
His baby boy is dying, he doesn’t want to tell you that.
 But there’s no denying it. His fingers crunch beneath his boot, and he’s been around death his whole life, knows that look in his eyes, the fading, the dulling, the greying that’s already starting but won’t become obvious for another hour or more. The yellow tinge that’s already starting under his paper-pale skin, and his breathing, his breathing is worse than ever, that gurgling rasp as his body forces him to breathe against his will.
  “Oh, Dutch…”
 and his voice is unrecognizable, the rasp of a breath over failing vocal cords, and his baby boy is dying, and he remembers when he was only twelve with ruddy cheeks and scuffed knees, scared and suspicious and too small, sure that there was a catch when they put food in his hands and a blanket around his shoulders. His hair is the same - as dirty as it had been then, and god his face is as skinny as it had been back then, starving and curling around the bowl as though they’d pull it away from him, his eyes sunken in his face as he’d had to resort to stealing sips from horse troughs before being chased away and he can’t look at Arthur without seeing that little boy, and what has he done?
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hunterisland300 · 29 days ago
Forever Pucked Helena Hunting Epub
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Forever Pucked is a follow-up to Pucked (The Pucked Series, Book 1). While it is not necessary to have listened to Pucked Up (book 2) or Pucked Over (book 3), it is highly recommended to that you listen to Pucked. Pucked Over Epub Helena Hunting - DOWNLOAD (Mirror #1) BIO & CONTACT.
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Patty ~ Wrapped Up In Reading Book Blog FIVE SUPER MC LOVING STARSARC Generously Provided by AuthorFABULOUS ”I will always love you Violet I won’t ever be perfect and I’ll make mistakes and I’ll definitely say things that will make you angry but I promise to tell you every day not just with words but with actions that you are the center of my universe You’re the sun in my sky and the breath in my lungs I promise to be yours for every second of this existence and to cherish every moment of that love with you” So this book was like an early birthday present for me I had only read PUCKED OVER previously and once I was lucky enough to get this ARC I knew I had to read Violet and Alex’s first book so that I could truly appreciate this one I’m so happy that I did and I just can’t say enough about how much I truly e... (Sign in to see more)
Catarina 45 Forever Stars This fourth book bring us a seuel on Alex and Violet’s story If you’re expecting a novella and a uick sexy reading don’t This a full length novel well it is still sexy as hell and believe me worth every damn page There was some drama as you expect it will in a seuel but the story of this couple from their engagement until their wedding will be a long one full of curveballs sexy times laugh and you will not want to miss it This was a hilarious okay some of the jokes were kind of overused and easy dirty jokesbut what’s wrong with that? sexy and sweet book and if you followed their story in the first book you really can’t miss this one And if you don’t know this series but love a sexy sports romance you should really start now Rating 45 Stars Characters Developmen... (Sign in to see more)
Christy 4 stars It's been a while since I've read a Pucked book and I was so glad to get back into this series These characters are so freaking hilarious and I love the friendship between them all Not to mention they're super steamy This one however was super romantic as well Violet and Alex are in love and engaged Wedding planning is something that hasn't really been on the table though This is due to Violet's anxiety about weddings I loved watching them navigate this There was a lot to this story then just the wedding though I loved watching Alex and Violet find their happy ever after Things were not always easy for them they had some real life issues but their love always got them through As well as their humor This book was the best combination of sweet laugh out loud funny and steamy I am ex... (Sign in to see more)
Beverly I have seriously loved this series There is nothing in the world I love than laughing and falling in love through books so when an author is able to do both I am seriously in awe Alex and Violet are actually the couple from the very first book in the series Pucked There was just something I always loved about Violet her refusal to fit into any type of mold and her wit probably pushed it over the top This girl is who she is and says what she means and I LOVE HER for it She is legit my favorite heroine in the series because she is so genuineAlex a superstar hockey player and team captain It was always easy to love him and Super MC I have always loved how he pursued Violet and I have never doubted his devotion to her I love that Alex is this big shot hockey player is just a regular guy despe... (Sign in to see more)
Dali Forever Pucked is infused with comedy bursts of sweetness a whole lot of hotness and just the right amount of drama that kept me hooked A delightful extension to the already incredibly amusing series Alex Waters is the real deal the best Not just the best NHL player He’s a wonderful son brother the best hearts and flowers kind of fiancée with a beautiful mind to go along with his heart and totally fantastic in bed So naturally Violet is in a hurry to marry him Right? NOT Every time the subject about setting a wedding date comes up she gets hives It has nothing to do with loving Alex and everything to do with their mother’s incisive meddling and that Violet had a super bad experience during her mother’s wedding Add to that the fact that she and Alex are having conflicts with their c... (Sign in to see more)
Helena Hunting US Play 1Anniversaries Suck Cheesy BallsVIOLETToday is mine and Alex’s one year anniversary and it sucks donkey dick Well it’s one of our “anniversaries” Alex likes to celebrate every single milestone in our relationship because he’s sappy and romantic like that He also likes to have an excuse to buy me gifts Lots of them Extravagant ones For my birthday he bought me a car A nice car With heated seats and automatic everything New cars are scary because they don’t have dings and dents and they need to be maintainedAnyway I digress Anniversaries This month we’re celebrating our “First Official Date” Anniversary Alex likes to consider the first time we had sex our “real” anniversary but since we hardly knew each other then apart from how our genitalia fit together I ... (Sign in to see more)
Kat This was a cute novella that tied in to book one in the series where Violet and Alex finally tie the knot Lots of comedy tawdry jokes and cute couple moments One of my favorite sports series Please excuse typosname misspellings Entered on screen reader
Beth Hudspeth Reviewed by Hello Beautiful Book Blog More laughs and inappropriate behavior in the fourth installment of the Pucked series are sure to have you giggling and shaking your head all the way through This is usually when a romance series based on the same characters starts to go down hill but this actually surprised me Not uite the uality of the first book Pucked but not too far off the mark Honestly I thought this was going to be a wrap up novella or something but no it is a full length novel I still think Lance will get a book too or at least I want him to have oneViolet is still her oversharing self and Alex is still supporting Violet’s weird ways I like Violet as a character but some of the things she does got a little too weird for me in this one Beaver veils? I didn’t really find a l... (Sign in to see more)
Jen 4 Big Stick StarsThe Beaver and the MC ride again And I mean that literally I had a fabulous time reading this cute and sexy end to Alex and Violet's story Did I need to read the word beaver written ad nauseum? No but the sweet hotness made up for it
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Ari I never want to see the words Beaver Super MC or Area 51 ever again
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Patty ~ Wrapped Up In Reading Book Blog FIVE SUPER MC LOVING STARSARC Generously Provided by AuthorFABULOUS ”I will always love you Violet I won’t ever be perfect and I’ll make mistakes and I’ll definitely say things that will make you angry but I promise to tell you every day not just with words but with actions that you are the center of my universe You’re the sun in my sky and the breath in my lungs I promise to be yours for every second of this existence and to cherish every moment of that love with you” So this book was like an early birthday present for me I had only read PUCKED OVER previously and once I was lucky enough to get this ARC I knew I had to read Violet and Alex’s first book so that I could truly appreciate this one I’m so happy that I did and I just can’t say enough about how much I truly e... (Sign in to see more)
Catarina 45 Forever Stars This fourth book bring us a seuel on Alex and Violet’s story If you’re expecting a novella and a uick sexy reading don’t This a full length novel well it is still sexy as hell and believe me worth every damn page There was some drama as you expect it will in a seuel but the story of this couple from their engagement until their wedding will be a long one full of curveballs sexy times laugh and you will not want to miss it This was a hilarious okay some of the jokes were kind of overused and easy dirty jokesbut what’s wrong with that? sexy and sweet book and if you followed their story in the first book you really can’t miss this one And if you don’t know this series but love a sexy sports romance you should really start now Rating 45 Stars Characters Developmen... (Sign in to see more)
Christy 4 stars It's been a while since I've read a Pucked book and I was so glad to get back into this series These characters are so freaking hilarious and I love the friendship between them all Not to mention they're super steamy This one however was super romantic as well Violet and Alex are in love and engaged Wedding planning is something that hasn't really been on the table though This is due to Violet's anxiety about weddings I loved watching them navigate this There was a lot to this story then just the wedding though I loved watching Alex and Violet find their happy ever after Things were not always easy for them they had some real life issues but their love always got them through As well as their humor This book was the best combination of sweet laugh out loud funny and steamy I am ex... (Sign in to see more)
Beverly I have seriously loved this series There is nothing in the world I love than laughing and falling in love through books so when an author is able to do both I am seriously in awe Alex and Violet are actually the couple from the very first book in the series Pucked There was just something I always loved about Violet her refusal to fit into any type of mold and her wit probably pushed it over the top This girl is who she is and says what she means and I LOVE HER for it She is legit my favorite heroine in the series because she is so genuineAlex a superstar hockey player and team captain It was always easy to love him and Super MC I have always loved how he pursued Violet and I have never doubted his devotion to her I love that Alex is this big shot hockey player is just a regular guy despe... (Sign in to see more)
Dali Forever Pucked is infused with comedy bursts of sweetness a whole lot of hotness and just the right amount of drama that kept me hooked A delightful extension to the already incredibly amusing series Alex Waters is the real deal the best Not just the best NHL player He’s a wonderful son brother the best hearts and flowers kind of fiancée with a beautiful mind to go along with his heart and totally fantastic in bed So naturally Violet is in a hurry to marry him Right? NOT Every time the subject about setting a wedding date comes up she gets hives It has nothing to do with loving Alex and everything to do with their mother’s incisive meddling and that Violet had a super bad experience during her mother’s wedding Add to that the fact that she and Alex are having conflicts with their c... (Sign in to see more)
Helena Hunting US Play 1Anniversaries Suck Cheesy BallsVIOLETToday is mine and Alex’s one year anniversary and it sucks donkey dick Well it’s one of our “anniversaries” Alex likes to celebrate every single milestone in our relationship because he’s sappy and romantic like that He also likes to have an excuse to buy me gifts Lots of them Extravagant ones For my birthday he bought me a car A nice car With heated seats and automatic everything New cars are scary because they don’t have dings and dents and they need to be maintainedAnyway I digress Anniversaries This month we’re celebrating our “First Official Date” Anniversary Alex likes to consider the first time we had sex our “real” anniversary but since we hardly knew each other then apart from how our genitalia fit together I ... (Sign in to see more)
Kat This was a cute novella that tied in to book one in the series where Violet and Alex finally tie the knot Lots of comedy tawdry jokes and cute couple moments One of my favorite sports series Please excuse typosname misspellings Entered on screen reader
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Pucked Up Helena Hunting
Beth Hudspeth Reviewed by Hello Beautiful Book Blog More laughs and inappropriate behavior in the fourth installment of the Pucked series are sure to have you giggling and shaking your head all the way through This is usually when a romance series based on the same characters starts to go down hill but this actually surprised me Not uite the uality of the first book Pucked but not too far off the mark Honestly I thought this was going to be a wrap up novella or something but no it is a full length novel I still think Lance will get a book too or at least I want him to have oneViolet is still her oversharing self and Alex is still supporting Violet’s weird ways I like Violet as a character but some of the things she does got a little too weird for me in this one Beaver veils? I didn’t really find a l... (Sign in to see more)
Jen 4 Big Stick StarsThe Beaver and the MC ride again And I mean that literally I had a fabulous time reading this cute and sexy end to Alex and Violet's story Did I need to read the word beaver written ad nauseum? No but the sweet hotness made up for it
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Ari I never want to see the words Beaver Super MC or Area 51 ever again
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Helena Hunting Pucked Series
Forever Pucked Helena Hunting Epub
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lostinmymindpalace-m · a month ago
The Light of Knowledge
Chapter one, part 2/2, in which the thoughts are free
I want to make good use of my time and get a general idea of the material, so I return to my room directly after dinner and skim through the school books. They seem to be quite advanced in English here and the topics in mathematics and chemistry look more complicated than anything I have done so far, too. I take a deep breath, rub my glasses clean on my blazer and start taking notes. Outside it's getting dark and I have to turn on my desk light to be able to read my tiny, compendious  handwriting. But I manage to make connections between the new topics and my body of knowledge. Now that's not looking too bad. I surely won't be easy, but I think I can handle the work load. Finally, I take my diary out of the drawer and write down what happened today. The words are flying so fast my hand struggles to keep up, but I feel more relaxed with every sentence. When I put the pen away, there is just half an hour left until lights-out, so I put on my pyjamas, take off the glasses and go to the bathroom. Fortunately, it's empty. I brush my teeth, stare into the mirror and think about tomorrow. The class representative Neil and the other guys seem really nice, I sat with them during dinner and they treated me very well, better than I'm used to. But I assume they were raised to be more polite than the boys at my old school. Hopefully the rest of my classmates are the same. Hopefully I get good teachers. What if they treat me different because I'm a girl? Only the foam that's running down my wrist from the endless brushing bringst me back to reality. 
The next morning I jump out of bed at the first ring of the alarm clock. Put on a fresh uniform and admire it in the bathroom mirror as I fix my tie. The only one I recognize during breakfast is Richard Cameron. He is sitting alone and reading and I intend to do the same. Just like last night, students start to whisper when I walk by, some of so younger ones even point fingers at me. It makes me feel like I don't belong here and I can't let that happen, therefore the book. I have the right to be here and go to an ivy league college and so do so many other girls. Just get used to it. My first class of the day is chemistry, so I get my school bag from my room and head for the chemistry building. I'm way to early, but the laboratory isn't locked. I push the door open carefully and sit down in a row of tables in the middle of the room. A teacher comes in from the secondary room and, before I can say a word, tells me to hand out a thick pile of papers. While I walk around and put a project list on every table, my classmates enter the room in small groups. Neil and Todd are the last ones to arrive, they scurry into the lab just as the bell rings. As soon as class begins, I stop looking left ans right and note down what Mr. Hartley tells us. A laboratory experiment every five weeks, 20 questions due tomorrow. I make a note to read through the project list later today. The rest of the lesson is a lecture about acids and bases. When the bell rings, I have to shake out my hand. I grabbed my pen so hard it started cramping. Next is Latin with Mr. McAllister, a man with a Scottish accent who is walking up and down in front of the class, repeating diffrently conjugated and declined words that we have to echo. I hardly manage to write them down. What a stupid way to teach us the conjugational and declinational classes I think as I examine my poorly legable notes. There is a system that the words follow depending on their basic form. It's easy enough, but not when you just repeat random words. I scribble nominative, genitive, accusative, ablative, dative and singular, plural onto the page and decide to copy all of this again correctly. Math class on the other hand is no problem for me. Dr. Hager makes us stand up and recite definitions and methods of solutions from memory, but since I prepared myself last night, the questions aren't too difficult. When I repeat the definition of a cosine correctly, he gives me an approving look. Then he announces that any missed assignment will cause the subtraction of one point on our final grade. I quickly note that down and underline it twice. Not that I planned on not doing my homework, put this does increase the pressure. All in all, I'm a bit stressed when I sit down in the English classroom. The teacher, Mr. Keating, is sitting in front of the class, looking outside of the window and ignores us completely. That's kind of weird, but a nice break. I clean my glasses and try to relax a bit. Mr. Keating got up by now and is pacing around the room. Meanwhile he's swinging a ruler through the air and randomly points it at students. They look just as confused as I feel. „Ha! You flexible young brains!“, he suddenly shouts, which doesn't really help to clarify the situation. Then he jumps onto his desk and recites loudly: „Captain, my Captain!“ The others exchange looks. „Does anyone know who this is from?“
After the lesson, when I follow the stream of students to lunch, Keatings words are still stuck in my head. He made us go to the entrance hall and look at the pictures of former students while Gerard Pitts read out a poem. Infront of the walls I wished my picture upon just yesterday, he talked to us about our own finiteness. That was... something different. We are food for worms... I can hardly wrap my young and flexible head around it. I eat lunch, but whatever it is, it leaves no impression on me. Carpe diem, seize the day, make your lives extraordinary. I feel like this should move something inside of me, make me wiser, somehow. But all I can think of is that I am working to make my life extraordinary, that one day, my picture will be among these boys in the entrance hall. I only have two years here, assuming everything goes as planned. I can't let my concetration slip, not on my first day, not ever. So I take Mr. Keating's insistend words, open a little drawer in my head and lock them away.
The sports lesson in the afternoon helps me to shake of the memory of English class. All we do is run rounds in the hall and when it's finally over, and I'm done changing in the bathroom, my legs are wobbly, but my mind is free. I once again register how beautiful the school grounds look in the sunlight, so I take my homework and sit down on the lawn at the lake. I wonder what's going on at home. It's hard to believe that I've only been here for a day. How are Mom and Dad? Do James and Betty miss me? Ich shake my head. It doesn't matter. Thinking about them will only make you miss them and that won't help anyone. So I take a deep breath, watch a bunch of seventh graders throw someone's homework in the lake and start studying. By the time I'm done with math and chemistry, the air has cooled down considerably. I stroll back to the housing and think about my plans for the rest of the day. My Latin notes nedd to be rewritten. Should I do that in the common room? Other people will be there. But it's surely going to be loud. But you'll have to make contact eventually.Or not. They will only distract me. I'm still working on this question at dinner, when a tipping on my wrenches me out of my thoughts. It's Neil. „Do you have any plans for tonight, Diana?“, he asks kindly. „We are doing a study group later, you're welcome to join us if you want.“ Some of the other boys are peeking in our direction, their clearly hopefull expression makes me smile. But I refuse. „Thanks for asking, but I think I would rather do my homework in my room. Maybe another time.“ So I spend my first full day at Welton exactly how I planned it: With undistracted studying. I finish my work and write in my diary, then I put on my checked pyjamas and read poems from my English book before I go to sleep.
The next days proceed just the same: The classes are hard, I am prepared, Mr. Keating's lessons are extraordinary. Each one is fascinating and thrilling, but I'm not sure I like that. Sometimes I almost back of a little, as if too much contact with Mr. Keating's way of thinking could cause some kind of harm to me. Once, he makes us rip pages out of a school book. I hesitate for a moment, because as funny as this idea is, I can't afford to get in trouble. As if to confirm my foreshadowing, Mr. McAllister enters the room just when I'm tossing the introduction into the understandig of poetry by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard PhD into the dustbin. Thanks to Mr. Keating aren't in trouble, but my heart still misses a beat. I just hope we learn everything we need for exams.
I do my repetitions and the homework in the afternoon and fill the remaining time with exercises, reading and studying. As time goes by, I feel more and more at home at Welton, the boys seem to start accepting my presence, some of them I really like by now. My extracurricular acticities are interesting and I attend every meeting, thus I frequently spend my afternoons in the company of Meeks, Charlie, Cameron, Knox or Todd (I don't really get why some of them are referred to with their surname, but whatever). The pupil's magazine is my favourite. We have a lot of fun every time and I really like writing articles. Charlie says, I could easily make the team of chief editors, but I don't want to. Writing is amazing, but I would rather prepare myself for my classes than go to two extra meetings a week. Sometimes, when I'm done with my school work and the sun is just setting, I go to the entrance hall to look at the awards that are illuminated by the last warm rays. In these moments, I feel like my heart will explode with happiness and pride. I'm so excited for the future.
It's a paticularly autumn day, I sit with my back against a tree, let she sun warm my face and work on my translation for Latin. Or at least I try. But something keeps distracting me. It's not the boys playing soccer and cricket on the school grounds, that's for sure. I sigh and read what I unconciously scribbled on the edge of my paper.
The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse
That's what Mr. Keating told us at the end of class today. It has been stuck in my head ever since. Or maybe it has been bouncing up and down in my brain, messing up my vocabulary and causing the throbbing pain behind my temple. I shove the Latin book away and rub my eyes in frustration. I want to contribute a verse. I really do. That's why I'm here, that's why I study every day. I have been given the opportunity to be so much more than I could ever hope for. To be able to contribute a verse when I'm done with school. I will be the girl that gave generations of female students the opportunity to attend the best preparation school in the USA. If I only work hard enough, the project will be successfull. It has to be. So why do I keep thinking about these words? I slowly open my eyes and notice my former welcoming committee rushing across the lawn. They talk to Mr. Keating and show him something. Is it a book? Maybe they had a question about something we did in class. Whatever. I put my glasses back on and give Latin another try. Honestly, what was Ovid thinking. A logical sentence structure never hurt anybody. The next time I look up, Mr. Keating is gone, but the boys are still huddled together for what seems like a heated discussion. I wonder what is going on. When the dinner bell rings, they move back to school, still talking vividly.
It starts to rain during dinner. But it's a study night anyway, so I pack up my books and go to what I call the big homework room. Dr. Hager is supervising and pollutes the air with his pipe smoke. Aside or that, I like study nights. Doing school work can get lonely in the long run and here I have company without getting distracted. Normally. There is a lively whisper coming from the table in the back. The guys seem to continue their discussion. They are bowed over something on the table and whisper so agitatedly that Hager looks up from his book and admonishes them to be quiet. Todd isn't with them. Usually, him and Neil are inseparable... I put the pen away and let my gaze wander over the bent necks. Actually, Todd is sitting a few tables apart from the others, looking up from his work every few minutes and watching the guys unhappily. What is going on? When Dr. Hager calls them to order again, I guiltily turn back to my homework. But just a few minutes later, a movement catches my attention again. Neil got up and is sneaking to Todds table. Whatever Neil is trying to convince him of, Todd doesn't seem to like it. Suddenly Neil jumps up and speeds to the others with a smirk. I watch Todd who is looking after him in a slightly desperate way and somehow our eyes meet. For a moment, we look at each other over the tables and open books, then I give him a small smile and go back to my work.
Shortly before lights-out, someone knocks at my door. It's Neil. „May I come in?“ „Yeah, sure, wait a minute.“ He closes the door behind him and I take my books from the desk chair and shove the candles and socks aside so he can sit. „What is it?“, I ask as I drop down onto my bed. Neil hesitates for a moment, then he says: „I just wanted to see if you're alright. I mean, you're always by yourself studying“, he smiles, but his eyes seek mine, „so we hardly get to see you. But Todd said you looked kind of sad tonight. You aren't afraid to hang out with us, are you?“ „No, of course not. What makes you think that?“ „Hm“, he says and absentmindedly lights one of the candles on my desk. „So if I asked you if you wanted to come to a club meeting in a cave across the river, let's say, tonight, you would come?“ I rise my eyebrows. „It's late and we have school tomorrow.“ He starts laughing. „It's Friday, Diana.“ „Well, it doesn't matter. I have work to do tomorrow and there is a debate club meeting I have to attend. I'm sorry. I really like you guys. It's just... I have to focus on school, you know.“ He nods slowly. None of us talks for a moment. „I heard you got a part in a play, how is that going?“ His face lights up immediately. „It's so great. We only started rehearsing like two weeks ago but“, he seesaws back and forth in excitement, „I love it already. Acting is great. Makes me feel alive.“ He looks away with a beaming smile and notices my diary on the desk, dangerously near the lighted candle. „You write a diary? About the fascination of Welton?“ I shrug and pick up the worn out notebook. „I used to, but I haven't written in a while, actually. I didn't feel like it I guess.“ I can feel his eyes on me as I stroke the cover with my fingertips. He gets up. „I'm glad you came by, Neil.“ For a moment, he stops, still looking at me pensively. „You know what you told me when I showed you around the school, on your first day?“, he asks. „The thoughts are free? Doesn't look like it to me.“ Then he leaves. I bite my lip and slowy sink down on my desk chair. Watch the flickering flame he lit. For a moment, I let myself wonder, patting the notebook in my hands. Then I take a deep breath and blow the candle out.  
The days go on and the weather keeps getting worse. The sun seems to drown in dark grey clouds and cold rain and I can't go outside anymore. So I do my homework in my room and read out poems to the ceiling until I know them by heart. I've gotten only As in all my assignments. The teachers seem satisfied with me. I should be thrilled. But the truth is, my mood is as dark as the sky outside. Maybe I miss my family. Right know, I'm not even sure what I feel. Kind of numb. I'm rewriting my notes from today's chemistry class under the light of my desk lamp. Outside of my window, a rainstorm is raging. Huge drops are drumming on the roof and I have several unmeant lines on my paper from when I winced at the thunder. When I finish a paragraph about aldehydes, the room goes dark in a flash. I try to switch the lamp back on, but it doesn't work. A riot starts in the other rooms. Seems like a blackout. Annoying, but what can I do. I take off my glasses and rub my burning eyes. I can't focus anyway. Once again, Mr. Keating's lesson is stuck in my head. I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. We stood on his desk today. It felt weird, but also... As if it could make you wiser, in a Mr. Keating way. For some reason, I find my dark room unsettling, so I take out a candle. As I light it, I suddenly remember Neil doing exactly the same. He told me my thoughts weren't free anymore... I frown, because that doesn't make any sense. In fact, I think I have never thought more than I do right now. But still... What he said touched something inside of me and I don't understand why. Try to see it from a different perspective. Carefully, I move the burning candle to the side and crouch on my desk. I can't stand up because the ceiling is too low, but it's a start. Unfortunately, I still don't get it, I just feel silly. What a mess. I really miss home. What happened to me? I used to be so excited about this school, about every single day, every single class. I try to listen for the joy, for the feeling of freedom, but my chest feels empty. And alone. I feel so alone and it's dark and my knees start to hurt from cowering on the table. Tears make the candle flame look blurry. I remember what Neil said about acting: It makes me feel alive. I want to feel alive. Crouching on your desk and sobbing in the dark doesn't. I remember the boys whispering at dinner, excited, planning. Maybe they went to this cave Neil mentioned, before the rain started. For a minute, I sit still, my mind racing. Then I blow out the candle, grab my coat and run out the door.
It appears that I have underestimated this blackout-causing thunderstorm, because I'm dripping wet by the time I reach the edge of the woods. But I don't care. I understand how stupid it is to run through the forest in a thunderstorm, looking for a cave you have never seen before. But I don't care. The rain is cold, but at least my body has stopped feeling numb. When I finally hear voices and stumble into the mouth of a small cave in the hillside, I am facing six dumbfounded boys. Pitts looks like he is choking on a cigarette. I can't blame him.
When the shock and confusion are over, I'm welcomed to sit next to the fire that somehow is still burning, but besmoking us all. Nuzzled into Knox' and Todd's jackets, I explain why I the hell I'm here. And while Charlie tells me this sounds like some hard marrow-of-life-sucking to him, while I watch the bright flames and take in deep breaths of smokey air, I feel it.
Free. Alive.
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thiscitychickk · a month ago
Heyy sis this ya fav from AO3 😂🤣! Okay, I feel like this a safe space so I don't feel bad in saying you opened up a can of worms with this latest chapter lmfao. This chapter was great, including the content all considering and the conversations/discussions that happened after the reading. That said, why did you actually include this topic in the story? Also, is there a way I can type without a limit lmfao cause I have more to say and I am not about type 3-4 asks 😂 I cannot.
**SPOILER ALERT: Ch19 Come Let Us Adore Him**
Hey sis🙂 I won’t shy away from any criticism, especially when it’s valid frustration and triggering content for people. 
Why did I include this plotline in the story? I think it goes back to what I’ve said all along. I want this story to be an accurate depiction of American politics as well as what it’s like to work in them. More than the inaccurate fanfics I’ve read, ther are also  tons of stories and books that feature star crossed Republican Democrat love stories that gloss over any bit of ideological differences and go from point A to deep in love without actually hitting on difficulties.
That said, slavery is part and parcel of our nation’s history. It’s awful. It is poorly taught in schools. Ramifications of slavery are very much being felt by our neighbors today - and also being denied by many people in power in Washington, DC and across the nation.
Republicans count on voters to not understand how it has created so many injustices, social and economic, and capitalize on it in the way they create their platforms, message, and campaign. In order for Lucius to be this right-wingy presidential candidate, that’s who he is.
Are there other avenues that I could’ve taken for their wealth? Sure, but the pervasive inequality caused by slavery, then sharecropping and convict leasing and Jim Crow, the New Deal, on and on. It all stems from slavery, and this is not the last that we will see of the fallout from the article as well as the general awfulness of some of what Lucius believes.
I also would ask that people remember that this is a Harry Potter AU - the premise of the Death Eaters, one could say, is blood supremacy. The equivalent of which is racism in the United States. I warred within myself over whether this was too tough of a topic to take on in fiction, but isn’t that the point? To grapple with the difficulty in our world and try and make sense of it? 
Unfortunately, with this fic, the sense that is made of this topic is that there is none. Especially for ‘white liberal allies.’ Hot take? Allyship is usually just performative. White people are hard-pressed to give up their stake in success, money, status, prestige without a fight, even if they say they will.
And Hermione? She’s 22. People have posted comments that are very angry with her - and some with me, saying that I write like a white liberal.
Which... I am. But I am also writing Hermione like any just out of college liberal who comes to Washington. She’s idealistic. She thinks she can change the world. She thinks she’s going to be doing good.
Nothing really happens in Washington - legislation that overhauls the systems as we know it - be it incarceration, health care, infrastructure, paid parental leave, child care, education... Those things hardly EVER get dealt with outside of a piecemeal approach.
Draco has had a lifetime to realize that, and he’s dating someone who is young enough to still be rocked by every wave in Washington. He knows that she’ll eventually find herself in the same place of subdued shoulder shrugging that he is in. 
***** This is the BIG thing that I want to get through with this story, especially with this chapter *****
Extreme partisan politics do not get legislation passed - her job is not to be an activist, her job is to support a member of congress’ legislative agenda. It took me about a year to realize that. It’s well known in Washington that almost everyone moves to the center of the political spectrum once they have worked on the Hill long enough. Liberals become more pragmatic and conservatives become more centrist. It’s just the way of the world when it comes to getting legislation passed.
I know that people are going to be mad at me for making this a central piece of the story - but I have promised to keep it realistic, and this is how it is in my experience working on the Hill.
Draco isn’t going to have a liberal revolution - Hermione isn’t going to become a Lucius fan girl and vote for him in the primary or  maybe even the general, if he becomes the GOP candidate (spoiler alert?). They’re two imperfect people who avert their eyes from shitty things because it’s easier not to fight or get upset sometimes.
But personally, should Hermione dump Draco over the fact that his father is unwilling to condemn slavery unequivocally? Maybe. She hasn’t yet, clearly.
This is a 22-year-old who has comfort and love and attention for the first time in years. She’s still figuring out what it means to care about politics and work in them and see no progressive bills make it to the president’s desk for signing. It’s rough to go through.
Could she do more? Yeah, but yelling at Draco is just going to have him say ‘this isn’t going to work.’ And that’s not what she wants at this point.
I guess the point that I come to with people’s anger over how she acts is what do you want out of this story? And I wish you could hear me ask, because it’s genuine curiosity, not annoyance or anger that people don’t like where I’ve taken things or where they believe it’ll go.
Do you want Draco to switch his party affiliation?
Do you want Hermione to dump him?
Do you want Draco to quit politics and move somewhere remote with Hermione and be miserable?
There are only a few ways this story could end up, with the two columns being ‘together’ and ‘not together.’ I totally totally get that people are annoyed, but that’s what comes from a realistic story of two very different people coming together. Everyone carries a different load in every relationship they’re in, and clearly Hermione has the heavier one in many aspects here.
Hopefully this clears a little up and can at least make you feel better about what you’re reading. Like I said, I get that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. 
Some people are continuing to say that their relationship is predatory, and that’s the only thing I find fault with. Hermione has continually consented throughout this story. Is there a power imbalance in their jobs? Certainly, but she doesn’t work for Draco. Draco doesn’t pay her salary, they don’t have anything to worry about ethically at this point in the professional realm. Personally? There is so much consent here. So much slow-walking to start their relationship up. She can leave at any time. She’s not being gaslit, hell, it would be easier for Draco and his whole family if she left him. She’s not being forced to do anything.
If you made it this far, you’re awesome. Thank you for your honesty, my friend, and I hope you have a great day!
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The Right Thing To Do, Part 2
Hi everyone! Thank you so much for the lovely feedback on part 1 omg it still makes me so happy 🖤 So, here's part 2! This turned into an enemies to lovers slowburn and I had so much fun writing it 😍
I hope you enjoy - Love, Kiki 🖤
Word count: 5k
Warnings: Angst, John Walker again if you count him as a warning, canon-typical violence, blood, a syringe but not described if that makes any sense (plus English isn’t my native language so again sorry for any mistakes)
Summary: After you've let Zemo escape, you're dealing with the aftermath of it, but he's not that far away... (I could't write a good summary even if my life depended on it, I'm sorry 😂) As in Part 1, the reader is gender neutral and there are no descriptions of their appearance.
There are flashbacks written in italics.
You can read Part 1 here.
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“He’s GONE”, Sam called out, frustration written all over his face as he scanned the now empty living room as if Zemo would jump out from behind one of the sofas any second now. The painful hammering of your heartbeat against your ribcage had drowned out the sounds of the fight as Zemo had vanished through the bathroom doors. Your hands, which were still clutching the teacup to your chest, were shaking wildly and the clattering of porcelain as you placed it back on the coffee table made Sam throw a weary glance your way. The tea had gone cold, the Dora and Walker were gone, and you’d barely noticed any of it through the haze of – of what exactly? Panic? Elation? Zemo was gone and it was your fault.
“The Dora were blocking every single door to the outside!”, Bucky shouted his disbelief from somewhere in the house.
“Well, I can’t find him, and neither can you, Bucky, so the best guess is that he’s gone.”
“How can you just lose a person, Sam?”, Bucky shouted back as he entered the living room, running his fingers through his hair which began to look rather little funny, stray strands of his chocolate hair standing up at odd angles.
“Me? ME? I was trying to stop the fight! If anyone lost him, it was YOU!”, Sam retorted, his voice shaking with barely restrained anger.
“Well, if you’d –“
“STOP IT!”, you shouted, and they both turned to gape at you.
“It’s nobody’s fault that he’s gone in all the chaos”, you sighed. Except that it was. Oh my. They could never know.
Sam didn’t wait for you to elaborate, finally pushing open the double doors to the adjoining bathroom instead. The bathtub had been pushed to the side, revealing an open hole in the ground big enough for a person to fit through. The secret passageway. How many of those were hidden in the nooks and crannies of the old townhouse?
“I can’t believe he pulled that off”, Sam muttered. “Y/N, are you okay? You seem a little…distraught.”
“I just…can’t believe nobody noticed.” You could feel hysteric laughter bubbling up your throat and took a deep breath to steady yourself.
Bucky plopped down on the sofa beside you, letting out a deep sigh. “The Dora will drag our asses to Wakanda and then we’ll have to explain T’Challa how exactly we could let the murderer of his father escape. Again.”
“That’ll be a funny weekend trip”, you quipped.
“And then we’ll have to explain the very same thing to a few governments”, Sam added.
“Maybe Sharon could take us in for a while. Madripoor wasn’t that bad, come to think of it.” If somebody had asked you a while ago where you saw yourself in a few years, your answer wouldn’t have been “Chilling on Sharon’s couch in Madripoor while selling stolen art”, but it looked as if your plans had changed.
“I’m…I’ll head to bed”, you said weakly as you rose from the sofa on shaking legs. The light spilling through the stained-glass windows was dimming to the deep blush of the evening sky.
“Y/N’s right”, Bucky conceded, “We won’t find him today. Let’s try to get some sleep and try for tomorrow.”
It hadn’t been your plan to actually go to bed, but as you let yourself sink onto the soft bedsheets, their expensive satiny fabric flowing around you like water, you could feel the heaviness in your body. You’d head out first thing at sunrise to make things right and bring Zemo back, but for now, you allowed your eyes to close and for the sweet darkness of sleep to sweep you away.
“Let me walk you through a hypothetical, will you?”, Bucky asked.
“Wait – what have you done?!”
“I didn’t do anything, technically.”
But from Bucky’s guilty expression, it was obvious that he’d done something really, really stupid.
The argument was interrupted by someone clearing their throat, and as the three of you whirled around, there was a man walking out of the shadows of the compound, clad in a police officer’s uniform though it clearly wasn’t his.
You instantly recognised his face, having seen it on the news for weeks on end, long after he’d succeeded in tearing apart your family. So much had happened since then, and seeing him here felt as if the demons of those desperate times, when you were frantically trying to salvage the broken pieces that were left of the Avengers, had come back to haunt you. But as you glared at him, you weren’t met with the frantic gaze of a man devoured by madness. His hazel eyes were calm and attentive, a quiet, clever humour gleaming in their depths as he regarded you, waiting for your and Sam’s reaction. The Baron reminded you of a cat, watching a flock of birds, readying itself to strike.
“No”, you said calmly. “There has to be another way. Put his ass back in prison, Bucky, or I’ll do it.”
“Yeah, I’ll help you with that”, Sam grumbled.
“If I may –“, Zemo started to speak, but he was interrupted by a sudden outburst from Sam and Bucky.
“Apologies.” He neatly folded his hands and threw you a quick glance.
Bucky sighed. “Sam, Y/N, listen – we need him. He’s the one person who knows everything about Hydra, everything about super soldiers.”
“That’s a lot of red flags”, you countered.
“I really think I’m invaluable”, Zemo spoke again, unfazed and amused by the ongoing argument.
“The Wakandans will know that we freed him.”
“Sam has a point, Bucky”, you tried again, “They’re our friends – breaking the murderer of their king out of jail won’t exactly make them throw us a party.”
Bucky nodded, but from the look on his face you could see that he’d already made up his mind. “Then we’ll have to find the source of the new serum and bring Zemo back to prison before the Wakandans get to know that he’s gone.”
The smile that lit up the Baron’s face reminded you uncomfortably of the Cheshire Cat in your old picture books, right before it had led poor little Alice onto the wrong way.
“We will need a car. And a plane”, Zemo assessed. “Fortunately for you, I’m currently in the possession of both.”
If you’d only known then how things would spiral out of control.
When the first rays of the rising sun filtered through the windows and the noise of the awakening city seeped into the calm of the guest room you were occupying, waking you, it felt as if you hadn’t slept at all. Your mind was racing and there was only one thing you could do to make the guilt gnawing at your insides stop. You needed to find Zemo and bring him back. And you needed to do it fast.
Stifling a yawn, you padded across the dark wooden floorboards and swung open the double-doors leading to a small balcony to let in the fresh morning air, when something on the ground caught your eye.
There, on the marble tiles of the balcony, right in front of the doors, someone had placed a single carnation, the leaves of the long stem quivering in the slight breeze. Its petals were tinted a deep crimson, the colour of fresh blood.
 “Carnations”, you murmured, tracing the soft pink petals of the bouquet on the bar while the four of you were waiting for the barkeeper to serve your drinks.
“Your favourites?”
You looked up from the flowers, meeting Zemo’s observant gaze. He still reminded you of a cat watching its prey.
“What’s it to you?”, you asked curiously. You just couldn’t make sense of the Baron’s behaviour, of his attempts to make conversation.
“Did you know the Victorians used carnations to convey secret messages to their lovers?”, he continued. The club’s flashing pink and blue lights painted shadows across his features, and it was hard to decipher the expression on his face as he talked.
“Those messages could hardly have been secret if even hundred years later, people know their meaning”, you replied drily, earning you a soft laugh from the Baron.
“The ancient Greek believed that carnations were the flowers Hades had given to Persephone to beg her to join him in the Underworld”, he finally continued, and you could feel the intensity of his watchful gaze on you as you continued to trace the soft petals with your fingertips.
“You sure know a lot about flowers, Baron.”
Another soft chuckle. “There’s a lot of time to kill if you’re locked up in a cell.”
“I’d sigh deeply with compassion for the way the law treats poor terrorists these days”, you quipped with a grin, “But the outfit you forced me to wear is currently choking the last breath out of me, so I won’t.”
That earned you a smile from the Baron, a real one that lit up the handsome features of his face and made the light dance in the deep brown colour of his eyes. It also made your breath hitch, but that you could ascribe to the tight outfit and the humid air of the Indonesian island archipelago.
“I’m sorry for the outfit”, Zemo admitted, before he leaned closer, his warm breath brushing the shell of your ear as he whispered, “But it’s the best way to shift the attention away from our false Smiling Tiger.”
Your eyes flitted across the room towards Sam and Bucky, their serious faces in stark contrast to the beats of the club and the dancing partygoers.
“I’m pretty sure they’re staring at your coat, Baron. It’s very fancy”, you replied with a glance at the fuzzy-looking fur collar.
“Believe me, it’s not me they’re staring at”, Zemo said, his voice so low you could barely hear him over the humming music. You glanced up, and your eyes locked on his for a few seconds, trying to decipher if he was flirting with you, before you decided that he couldn’t be and nodded in the direction where Sam and Bucky were still standing, Sam clutching a shotglass he was eyeing with barely restrained disgust.
“I’m just glad Sam’s heels would be enough to stab a few people should we be in need of a quick getaway”, you continued with a playful smirk.
 You picked up the crimson flower and twirled the stem between your fingertips. You knew who’d placed it there, and you knew the message it was meant to convey. Come and find me.
To Zemo, it was a taunt, an exciting little game of cat and mouse. But you didn’t want to be the mouse anymore.
A shriek escaped your throat as the door to your room slammed open, revealing a panting Sam. It was too late to get rid of the flower you were still clutching in your hands, but he didn’t seem to notice it, anyway. There was panic shining in his eyes.
“Sam, what’s wrong? What happened?”
You quickly made your way towards him, placing one hand on his shoulder as he seemed to be trying to find the right words.
“My – Karli called my sister.”
“She threatened her. And the kids. I told them to pack up some things and leave and –“
“But why would she do that?” You were horrified. Karli, however violent the media painted her to be, wasn’t a maniac happy to strike terror wherever she went. She had a cause to fight for, a cause you understood and even agreed with, even if her ways of fighting for that cause were wrong. And, more important even, Sam understood. So why would she threaten his family?
“She wants to meet with me. Alone.”
You shook your head. “No. We’ll come with you. We won’t let you meet her alone, Sam.”
“That’s what Bucky said, too. We’re leaving in an hour, so maybe you should have some breakfast.”
A weak smile tugged at his lips, and you stepped forward, hugging him tightly.
“We’ll stop Karli. We won’t let them harm your family. I promise”, you whispered, and he tightened the hug before letting you go.
And finally, he noticed the single red carnation in your hands.
“Nice flower”, he commented, the silent question dangling in the air between you.
Thanks, I think the terrorist I helped escape is mocking my questionable decisions with it in some twisted psychopathic way, the voice in your head piped up, but you bit your tongue and nodded.
“Yeah. Very pretty.”
“Do you have a secret admirer?”, he winked, and you could feel the heat in your cheeks as you quickly shook your head.
“No. I’m pretty sure the answer’s no”, you laughed, but it sounded forced. “But it’s actually the first flower I ever got.”
Sam’s grin turned a little sad. He knew of your past, of the loneliness before Nat had found you and made you an Avenger. And as an Avenger, of course, there’d never been time for something as profane as dating when every second of your time was occupied by training and fighting extra-terrestrial threats.
“You know”, Sam said, and you watched the playful twinkle return to his warm eyes, “When this is all over, I’ll get you a whole damn bouquet of flowers, Y/N.”
Warmth flooded you at his words, the warmth of knowing that you’d finally found a family who loved you. Those strange people with their wings and suits and superpowers and struggles that were still so human – they were your family. How could you ever tell them that you’d let the man who’d hurt them so much was free because of you?
An hour later the three of you were walking through the bustling streets of Riga, earning curious glances from people eyeing Sam and your combat suits and Bucky’s metal arm, the black vibranium shining in the midday sun as if it was made of adamant. None of you said a word, all lost to their own thoughts of worry about the upcoming meeting with Karli and her looming threat against Sam’s family.
 “She’s already gone too far”, Zemo said, but Sam just shook his head. “Sam, you’re seeing something in her that doesn’t exist anymore. She’s dangerous. She’s taken the serum, she’s changed, she’s already walking down that path. That’s what the serum does to people. It corrupts them.”
“Maybe you’re wrong, Zemo”, Bucky interrupted, “The serum never corrupted Steve.”
“Yes. But there’s never been another Steve Rogers”, the Baron answered. “Super soldiers are an abomination and Karli won’t stop. She will escalate until you kill her – or she kills you.”
Sam shook his head. “Blood isn’t always the right answer, Zemo.”
“But sometimes, it’s the only possible one.”
 That conversation had been mere days ago, and so much had already changed in so little time. Then, you’d agreed with Sam. Now, you were wondering if Zemo had been right, if Karli was too far gone. Was it really the serum that corrupted people, brought their worst flaws to the surface with the power it gifted? Or was it the circumstances that brought out the worst in people – serum or no serum?
“We’re here”, Bucky interrupted your thoughts, and the three of you stopped in front of the old building. It looked exactly like every other building on this street – old but beautiful, the stucco vines twirling around the entrance to what probably was an atrium a memory of glorious days past. There was a sadness clouding the place despite the cheerful sunshine warming the air, the chatter of birds on the nearby rooftops, loud enough to be heard over the bustling on the nearby marketplace.
“Do we go in?”, Sam mumbled.
“Well, I think we won’t be greeted by a butler with a tea tray inviting us inside”, Bucky retorted, making Sam roll his eyes in annoyance.
“I’ll go first since Karli wants to talk to me. Y/N, Bucky, it would be best if you stayed behind so Karli won’t feel threatened.”
“The girl is a super soldier. If anyone feels threatened, it should be you and Y/N.” Bucky had a point.
In the end the three of you decided that Bucky would stay with Sam while you would search the empty building for any more Flagsmashers ready to attack. You still didn’t think the whole request of meeting up was a trap. Karli wouldn’t gain anything by attacking the three of you, even if she thought that Sam had kept her talking until Walker and Lemar arrived back at the funeral.
Your steps echoed in the empty hallways of the house, and even the sunlight outside could not dissipate the eerie half-light filling every room and corridor. But so far, you seemed to be the only one haunting its halls – except for a few real ghosts, probably.
“Hello, Liebling.”
You whirled at the sound of the familiar smooth voice. Being trained by Natasha herself, your reflexes were faster than his, and a surprised little huff escaped him as you slammed him against the nearest wall, your knife firmly pressed against his throat.
“I take it you’re not very delighted to see me”, Zemo chuckled, and you glared at him in response. Zemo tilted his head, eyeing you with the amused, observant gleam in his eyes that had become so familiar to you over the last few days.
“Don’t you dare Liebling me!”, you hissed, ignoring the warmth you suddenly felt at this pet name while you pressed the knife a little harder against his throat to emphasize your point. But Zemo didn’t even blink as the cold metal touched his skin. Head still tilted to the side and a smug little smile tugging at his lips, he didn’t look scared in the slightest.  
“Did you like the flower?”, he purred.
“Oh, yes. I love to be mocked first thing in the morning.”
The amused light in his hazel eyes dimmed momentarily as Zemo frowned at you. “That’s what you think it was? Mockery?” When you didn’t answer, he continued, “I don’t understand why you’re so furious. Since you are the one who allowed me to escape in the first place.”
“It was wrong.”
“Was it?”, he inquired quietly, while he stepped even closer, still ignoring the sharp blade poised against his throat. He was so close now that you could feel his warm breath fanning against your skin, smell the expensive soap he used. It made you dizzy in a way you didn’t want to think about.
“Yes. And when we’re done here, you can either come back willingly or I’ll drag your ass back to the safehouse myself. That’s on you”, you hissed.
He chuckled darkly. “Are you still trying to redeem Karli? Even after she threatened Sam’s family?”
“How do you know about that?”
“I have connections in this city.”
“So, you gave some kids a few sweets and turned them into your little spies again? Who are you, the White Witch?”, you huffed.
“I gave them money for their families. Which means I’ve already done more for them than any government or the GRC has ever done”, he said with a small shrug.
“Careful, Zemo. You’re starting to sound a lot like the girl you’re so intent on killing.”
“She’s not an innocent girl anymore, you know that. She’s a super soldier. She can’t be allowed to exist.”
“Because she blew up a building with people inside? Seems familiar, don’t you think? What exactly is the difference between your own acts of violence and hers? And if it’s the serum that’s corrupting her to become more violent – what’s your excuse? You’re not a super soldier,” you spat.
There were a few heartbeats of silence as you regarded each other, and his gaze wandered to rest on your lips.
“It has never been my intention to mock you with that flower”, he finally said, and the expression on his handsome face as he watched you stole the breath from your lungs, the mischievous smile indicating he knew exactly what he was doing to you.  Your heart made a little somersault in your chest. These few milliseconds of distraction were all he needed, you recognized too late. With a quick, measured movement, Zemo knocked the knife out of your hand, sending it clattering to the ground, and spun you so your back hit the cold stone of the wall and he had you cornered, his hands resting on the tiles on each side of your head, his face only inches from yours. This time it was you who yelped in surprise.
“You’re not the only one trained to be an assassin”, he teased. “Did the infamous Black Window not teach you not to pay any heed to distractions?”
“You give yourself too much credit, Baron, if you count yourself as a distraction”, you quipped, sure that he must be able to hear the wild hammering of your heart against your ribs. Anger seized you at the power he had over you with a mere glance.
“I’m tired of playing your little mind games. I’m not a puppet on your string anymore, Zemo”, you seethed.
“That’s why you’re so angry. You’re ashamed and disappointed with yourself because you’ve let me escape. It’s so much easier for you to depict me as the monster, is it?”, Zemo mused, “To turn me into some kind of evil puppeteer corrupting your weak little mind, instead of having to deal with the real reasons for doing what you’ve done. But I know as well as you do that you’re not a damsel in distress. You weren’t dancing on anyone’s string, Y/N, and being aware that you were acting on your own with nobody to blame for these actions but yourself scares you. Because deep down you already know why you let me escape.” His voice had turned into a whisper and for a few breaths, you were sure he was leaning in to kiss you, but he only tilted his head, as if he was patiently waiting for your reply.
Anger crept up your stomach. Zemo was right, and he knew it, and you hated that he was right. You’d tried so hard to avoid thinking about why you’d let him escape, because if you allowed yourself to acknowledge the feelings that were growing in your heart for the fur-collared Baron like weeds in a flower garden, stronger and harder to get rid of than you’d realized...  You wanted to kiss him, and you wanted to slap the smug grin from his pretty face, because you knew that given the chance, you’d let him escape over and over again, no matter what you’d told yourself over the last few hours.  
Steeling your expression into one of cool indifference, you said, “You got your freedom. So, what else do you want from me?”
Was it disappointment that flickered in his eyes at your sudden coldness? As he spoke, his voice didn’t betray any of his emotions.
“I need to talk to you, Y/N. Your friend Sharon Carter –“
“So that’s what you’ve been up to, Y/N”, someone called out. Zemo let go of you and you jumped apart at the sudden interruption, having been too absorbed in the closeness of each other to notice John Walker striding into the room. Zemo’s expression turned stony as he regarded Walker, before he took a quick step back towards you.
“I see your loyalties are shifting faster than any roulette wheel, Y/N”, Walker called out as he slowly continued towards the two of you, shield dangling limply in his hand.
Beside you, you could feel Zemo tense, and you reached out to grab the sleeve of his coat and pull him back, away from the soldier with the star-sprangled uniform and the shield that would never really belong to him.
“Maybe you should stop worrying about my loyalties and start to reassess yours, Walker”, you countered, “Has your fragile masculinity recovered from your encounter with the Dora? Or are you angry because you wanted the serum for yourself and Zemo destroyed it?”
The grin spreading across Walkers features made your blood run cold. There was something in his eyes that hadn’t been there before. A new kind of fury. A spark of madness. Finally, your gaze slid down to his other hand, the one that wasn’t gripping the shield, but a gun. It was smeared with red, tiny droplets dripping onto the dirty floor like the petals of the flower Zemo had given you. Only that they weren’t petals.
“What have you done?”, Zemo asked, the slight quiver in his voice betraying his calm demeanour as he looked at Walker’s hand, shifting a few feet so that his body was shielding yours, you suddenly noticed.
In a quick motion, Walker threw away the gun, letting it slide across the floor behind him until it came to rest in the shadows in a far corner of the room while his now free hand grabbed one of the pipes running along the naked wall beside him – and ripped it away from the stones, the metal groaning as it bent and scrunched in his grip. It felt as if your heart had stopped, and your grip on Zemo’s sleeve tightened in fear.
“Zemo didn’t destroy the serum,” Walker drawled, “Not all of it. There were two vials left. One for me. One for Lemar. You didn’t know him, of course. He was my best friend, did you know that? He was with me the worst day of my life. He was with me when they handed me a medal for what I did there. He was with me when they handed me this shield. And then your friends down there” – he pointed somewhere behind him, the mad glimmer in his eyes sparking anew as he did – “they just let him get killed by the people you were supposed to fight. By the people YOU WERE ORDERED TO KILL FIRST.”
You gasped. While you’d been talking to Zemo, the conversation with Karli had escalated, probably because Walker had stormed in again –
“Don’t worry, Y/N. Your friends are fine”, Walker added, his voice taking on a dangerous calmness. As you slipped your hand towards the holster on your knee to grab another knife, you could feel the tension rippling from the Baron, who was still shielding half your body with his own, preparing for the attack Walker was building.
“So, you took the serum for yourself”, Zemo nodded, obviously trying to keep Walker busy with talking. You both knew that you didn’t stand a chance against a super soldier, no matter how skilled you were.
“Of course I did”, Walker growled. “But I didn’t have a chance to give Lemar the second vial. If I had…” He swallowed.
You took a step forward to stand beside Zemo, your arm lightly brushing his, hand clutching the handle of your knife like a lifeline.
The smile Walker flashed at you was filled with a sickening mix of joy and agony – and then he threw the shield, faster than any normal human being could have done.
Too fast for any of you to react. It whirred through the air, hitting Zemo square in the chest and sending him flying backwards on the ground.
“NO!”, you shouted, but before you could run towards the Baron cowering on the floor, his hands pressed against the place where the shield had hit him and the pain of it written across his face, Walker was behind you, his iron grip around you forcing the air out of your lungs as you gasped, wondering briefly when the first of your ribs would snap in his grip like a twig.
Zemo pulled a gun from the inside of his coat, aiming it at Walker, but the false Captain America only laughed as his hold on you tightened even further.
“Go ahead, Baron”, he mocked, “But if you shoot, it’ll be Y/N your bullet will hit, not me.”
The determination left Zemo’s expression. You could see his mind whirring, searching for a way out of the checkmate with Walker as he slowly lowered his hand holding the gun.
“You were so close”, Walker droned on. “So close in your mission to eliminate all super soldiers, Baron. I came here to kill you, Y/N, to make your friends feel the way I felt when they let my best friend die down there. But you know what? I’ve got a way better idea.”
You didn’t have time to feel dread at his words. He was too fast for you to realize what he was doing, what he’d pulled out of his pocket, until it was too late.
There was a sting in your upper arm and Zemo’s shout ringing through the emptiness of the building, and as you glanced down, you saw the empty vial with the needle attached to its cap, the glass catching a thin ray of the warm summer sun seeping in through the dirty windowpanes before Walker loosened his grip around it and it dropped to the floor where it splintered into a thousand tiny shards with the sound of a twinkling of little bell, piercing the sudden horrified silence in the room. The last vial of the super soldier serum. Walker had given it to you so Zemo would finish you off.
Walker’s steely hold on you loosened, and the last thing you saw were the horror and disbelief in Zemo’s hazel eyes shifting to icy determination as they caught your own while you limply hit the ground. Then, your vision shattered as pain seized you, as if every single nerve, every single muscle, every single cell in your body had burst into flames. Somewhere in the distance, somebody shouted your name, but the sound was lost in your own agonized scream until finally, the soothing, starless night of unconsciousness wrapped itself around you.
There will be Part 3, I’ve already started writing it and it’ll be up next weekend 🖤
Taglist for this series (let me know if you’d like to be added for Part 3): @mochminnie​
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justice4canyonmoon · a month ago
Watermelon Sugar, Hi
Summary: On your 18th birthday, a clock appears on your wrist, counting down the time until you met your soulmate. Or, how operating cameras on the Watermelon Sugar set was the best job you ever accepted.
Notes: Hi!!! I’ve missed writing so much, but now that college is done for the semester, I’m back at it!! My last soulmate AU was v soft and fluffy, so I wanted to do one that was a little more...spicy. And since Watermelon Sugar has been winning lots of awards lately, I thought it would be a good subject. I also tried writing Harry’s dialogue a little different so it better captured his accent, so let me know if that actually worked lol. Hope you like it!!!
Warnings: smut!! 18+ only!!! vaginal fingering, hand jobs, a little dry humping, cursing, mostly dom! harry but a sprinkling of sub! harry too
WC: 4.8 k
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January 6th, 2012
Turning 18 was a right of passage. It meant finally being an adult. That in most countries, you were old enough to drink. It meant graduating from high school and moving on to bigger and better things. Soon, the responsibility of your life would soon lie squarely on your shoulders. And, most importantly, your clock appears.
Everyone on earth had one. On your 18th birthday, a clock appears on your right wrist, counting down the time until you met the person meant for you. When the two of you would finally meet in person, it would beep, like an alarm clock, and you’d know for sure that you were meant to be. And in 2012, it was finally your year. You hoped that you were one of the lucky few that had mere minutes until your first meeting, but most likely, you would join the many who had quite a few years. The anticipation was killing you; ever since you had started your teen years, you were desperate for the day you would finally get your clock. That desperation could only be second to waiting for the day you actually meet them.
And now, the day you got your clock had finally arrived! You woke up at exactly 5:13 am, too anxious and excited to sleep well. When you looked down at your wrist, you gasped. It looked like a tattoo, the black ink that depicted a digital watch now etched into your skin. The small white lettering along the bottom read “years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds” from left to right. Above the lettering were bold white numbers, slowly ticking down.
8 Years, 0 Months, 3 Weeks, 1 Day, 2 Hours, 32 Minutes, 14 Seconds
Eight years. You sighed, not able to help being just a bit disappointed. Sure, you expected it to be a few years. But by a few, you were thinking three or four. Not eight! Though you were a bit downtrodden, you knew that the fates knew what they were doing. If eight years was what they wanted for you, then you would accept it, and be very excited for when the time arrived!
January 30th, 2020
The past eight years of your life were, in all honesty, not too shabby. After getting a degree in film, you moved to Malibu, California, and worked cameras for various commercials, music videos, and movies in the business. It was pretty cool, getting to be behind the scenes for so many interesting projects. Out of the three of them, you definitely preferred music videos. Movies, though really cool, were far too long, and commercials were kind of bland. And you got to hear music from some of your favorite artists, which was really cool!
Today was no exception to that. It was 4 am (you had to wake up early on shoot days to go set up), and you were yanking on light blue jeans, a yellow Fine Line t-shirt, and a lavender sweatshirt, thinking about how excited you were to help film Watermelon Sugar. You were a big fan of Harry’s music, and you couldn’t wait to work with him! You, of course, already knew the video’s concept, so ideas on how to film the scenes with the various models and fruit were running through your head. You were so lost in thought that you almost forgot to look down at your wrist.
0 Years, 0 Months, 0 Weeks, 0 Days, 3 Hours, 45 Minutes, 53 Seconds
You almost screamed in excitement, but managed to hold back; you didn’t think your neighbors would appreciate your excited outburst. You had almost totally forgotten that today was the day! And since the video shoot was starting at 8 am sharp, you had to be meeting your other half on the set! Maybe it was one of the beautiful models that would be making an appearance, maybe one of the sound engineers, or maybe one of the runners. No matter who it was, you couldn’t wait! Eight years had been far too long of a time to wait. You briefly reconsidered your dressed down attire, but figured you’d need the sweatshirt for the breezy morning on the beach. And since you were behind the camera, you didn’t really need to look like a movie star.
You ate a quick breakfast and practically sprinted out of the door. You carried your two duffel bags loaded with all of the essentials (some equipment was provided, but you also brought some of your own stuff) and stuffed them into the trunk, flung the car door open, shoved the key into the ignition, and drove as fast as you were able to without getting pulled over. When you pulled up to the shoot location a short time later, you glanced down at your clock once more.
0 Years, 0 Months, 0 Weeks, 0 Days, 3 Hours, 17 Minutes, 20 Seconds
Slowly but surely, it was getting closer. Soon, though, the thoughts on the forefront of your mind were how to set up the cameras for the shoot, talking with the director about what shots you needed for each of the scenes, and introducing yourself to the other members of the crew. You already knew one of the other cameramen, Jonathan; you two had worked together on a music video for Little Mix before, so you chatted with him for a little while.
You hadn’t even realized how many hours had ticked by when the on-camera talent began to show up. The models were beginning to get settled on the beach, strewn about in a perfectly thought-out way. Harry had arrived as well; you don’t know how you didn’t notice that, given that his outfit, consisting of a red striped shirt, a scarf, and ripped blue jeans, stuck out from the swimsuit-clad models. He was going around, greeting every single member of the crew. Suddenly, you remembered the little white numbers on your wrist, and risked a glance down.
0 Years, 0 Months, 0 Weeks, 0 Days, 0 Hours, 2 Minutes, 14 Seconds
Your heart leapt out of your chest. Your palms began to sweat, and your hands shook harder than they ever had in your life. In two minutes, you would finally meet the love of your life. It had to be one of the models, didn’t it? You had met every member of the crew already, so it definitely wasn’t one of them. You wiped your palms on your jeans and steadied the camera you were positioned at, trying to find something to do with your hands.
1 Minute, 27 Seconds
Jonathan came over to you and asked a question about the shot, something about how quickly he should zoom out. You barely were able to respond, too focused on what you knew was about to transpire.
0 Minutes, 52 Seconds
Holy shit. You were going to throw up. You had never been more excited, yet terrified in your life.
30 Seconds
Harry was greeting the camera operator that was stationed beside you, and as Jonathan walked away a short time later, Harry approached you.
1 Second
Wait. There was no way-
“Hello! ‘M Harry! Thank you f’ bein’ here, I appreciate it very much!”
No fucking way. Literally no way. You had been waiting your entire life for Harry Styles? Your clock had to be making a mistake. But you heard the telltale beep coming from your wrist, and if you listened hard enough, you could hear his, too. You were fully expecting to wake up from a dream, or for Fate to pop up saying “Oops, just kidding! I messed up, let me fix your clock for you, dear.” But nothing like that came. Instead, you locked eyes with the handsome brunet in front of you. His gaze was intense, yet kind; if he was going to look at you like that for your entire life, you think you might faint.
“Thank you for the opportunity! I’m honestly a pretty big fan of yours,” you admitted.
The warm smile on his face grew wider, “Thank you, love! On another note, did your clock jus’ run out?”
You nodded, the lump in your throat preventing you from speaking. He reached for your right hand, skimming one of his long fingers over the clock that had just ticked down its final seconds. Gently, he tugged your wrist up to his lips and brushed them over the area, making you shiver. Though it was a bit breezy on the beach, you knew that this wasn’t from the chill.
“I’ve been waiting eight years f’ this,” he murmured against your skin, “probably the best early birthday present I’ve ever gotten.”
“I-I’ve been waiting eight years, too,” you whispered, wanting to keep the moment as between the two of you as possible.
He lowered your wrist back to your side, but linked his fingers with yours, rubbing soothing circles across the back of your trembling hand with his thumb.
“S’ okay, love. Don’ need to be nervous. ’M really happy t’ finally meet you. What’s y’ name?”
You gave it to him and he grinned, “‘M name’s Harry! Of course, you already knew that, but it feels like I should introduce m’self. Feels right in the moment. Anyway, it’s really nice t’ meet you!”
You giggled softly, his goofy personality already putting you a bit more at ease, “It’s really nice to meet you, too.”
“Styles! Need you on set!” shouted the director, popping the bubble the two of you had found yourselves in.
Harry wrapped you in the tightest hug he could muster and remarked, “Wish y’ were on camera instead of behind it. Love to have y’ there.”
You could feel your face grow warm as he freed you from his embrace. He pressed a light kiss to your cheek before jogging on set, amongst all of the models. You could hardly believe it! This had to be some kind of fever dream. But when you pinched yourself, you didn’t wake up. You had really met your soulmate, and it was really Harry Styles!
Throughout the shoot, Harry shot rather suggestive glances your way. He wiggled his eyebrows, winked at you, bit his lip, and when he sang “I want your belly,” he looked directly into your eyes, making your neutral expression falter from the intensity of his gaze. He was getting to you, and he knew it. When you took a break for lunch, he flirted shamelessly, making sure you knew how beautiful he thought you were. Between the flirtatious comments, though, the two of you started to really get to know each other; the goofy side of his personality that he showed earlier started to shine through, and you didn’t think you had ever laughed as much as you did today. A future with him didn’t seem so far-fetched to you anymore.
At the end of the shoot day, after filming Harry and the models running around the beach at sunset, you were packing your two duffle bags into the trunk of your car. The heavier one was lying on the ground, and you were lifting the other one into the trunk.
“Wan’ any help w’ those?”
You jumped, almost dropping the bag in your hands “Geez, Harry, you scared me.”
He grinned sheepishly, grabbing your other equipment bag and placing it in the trunk, “Sorry, love. Though y’ heard me comin.”
“It’s fine. And thank you,” you gestured toward the bag he put in the trunk.
He waved, “S’ no problem. Gotta help m’ soulmate out. Speaking of which, y’ doing anything tonight’? I’d love t’ get to know y’ even better.”
The suggestive glance he was throwing in your direction told you what exactly he meant by “getting to know you.” And honestly, with the way he had been looking at you all day, it was a miracle that you didn’t jump him already!
“I’d like that. I live fairly close to here if you’d want to come to mine,” you suggested.
Though you were sure he was living out of a swanky hotel, if this was going where you thought it was going, you wanted your first time with your soulmate to be in one of your homes. And yes, maybe your apartment was small compared to the estates you were sure he owned, but you knew you would feel more comfortable at your place.
His dimpled grin turned into a smirk, “Sounds good t’ me, love. Lead the way.”
You typed your address into his GPS, just in case the two of you got separated on the drive to your place. Though your place was only 20 minutes away, it took nearly twice that with traffic! It’s like the universe knew how desperately you wanted to get home! Thankfully, you made it back, and Harry wasn’t too far behind, pulling into the space beside you at your apartment complex.
You exited your car and popped the trunk, grabbing one of your bags. Harry seemingly materialized out of nowhere and took the other bag for you. You thanked him and he grinned in response, reaching for your hand with his free one and linking his fingers with yours. You smiled bashfully and gently tugged him up the stairs and to the front door of your apartment.
“Have any roommates we have to worry abou’?” he questioned.
You shook your head, “Jasmine’s visiting family in Canada for a few weeks, so we’ll have the place to ourselves!”
He leaned down so he was level with your ear and tugged on the lobe, murmuring, “Good. Don’ think she’d like listening to what I plan on doin t’ ya.”
You didn’t think you had ever been more grateful that your roommate was out of town.
Harry licked the shell of your ear, then moved to press kisses to the side of your neck as you attempted to get your keys out of the side pocket of your equipment bag. Harry was making it very difficult, but you managed to find them and wrench it into the door of your apartment. Harry stopped his teasing when you gestured for him to enter your apartment. It was a decent size for the rent; the living area was open concept, with the kitchen to the right and the living room to the left. The kitchen had brown cabinets lining the wall, and there was a small island in the space. The living room was furnished with a couch, loveseat, and ottoman, as well as a coffee table. The TV was mounted on the wall, and below it was a terrarium, where your pet snake, Leia Corngana, named after your favorite Star Wars character, lived. Off of the living room, there was a balcony (you lived on the third floor), where you had two chairs and a small table. It was quaint, and more than enough space for both you and your roommate. You couldn’t help but feel a bit insecure, though, since you knew Harry’s place was definitely much bigger.
“Y’ apartment’s nice. It’s homey, I quite like it,” Harry complemented, glancing at the pictures of both you and your roommate’s families on the walls.
You smiled appreciatively, “Thank you! Would you like a drink? Something to eat? All I have in terms of alcohol is cheap wine, but you can have some if you’d like.”
You both knew that the offer was just a formality, but you still asked.
“Maybe next time, love. ‘M a bit too impatient,” he declined.
You nodded and took his hand, leading him down the hallway. You passed by the bathroom, hall closet, laundry room, and your roommate’s bedroom until you reached yours at the end of the hall. It was the bigger of the two bedrooms; you and Jasmine had flipped a coin for it and you just happened to win. On the wall opposite the door, there were two small windows, and you quickly closed the blinds. Though you were on the third floor, you didn’t want to risk anyone seeing what was about to occur. One wall was mostly covered by the closet, and across from the closet was your bed, with the headboard against the wall. A nightstand sat between your bed and the window. The walls were painted a dull white (you weren’t allowed to do any painting), but you made up for it with the colorful posters and tapestries that adorned them.
Harry closed the door behind you, but didn’t lock it, given that the two of you were alone. His eyes met yours from across the room and you swallowed hard. Now you were wishing that you had worn something a little nicer; your attire wasn’t exactly sexy, and you thought he might find it weird that you were wearing his merch under your sweatshirt. Oh well, no turning back now.
Harry crossed the room, almost akin to a lion stalking his prey. His movements were utterly hypnotizing, and you couldn’t bring yourself to look away. His on set clothing was long discarded for a pair of grey sweatpants and a t-shirt, neither of which left much to the imagination. In this moment, you were grateful for that, admiring the way the shirt was stretched across his pecs and how you could clearly see the beginnings of a bulge forming through his pants. He stopped when he was directly in front of you, and he tilted your chin up so you were looking him in the eye.
“Are y’ sure this is something y’ want? Don’ wanna push anything if you’d rather wait,” he asked seriously.
You swallowed again and nodded, “I do. I really do, Harry.”
That was all the confirmation he needed before his lips were on yours.
Everytime someone talked about kissing your soulmate for the first time, they said that you would feel sparks, that your stomach would turn into butterflies, and you’d be hard pressed to find another feeling that matches it. You had always thought that sentiment was rather cheesy, but when Harry kissed you, everything they said was 100% true. Your stomach was fluttering, and you knew that nothing else in your life had ever made you feel like this. You melted into the contact, draping your arms around his neck and throwing every fiber of your being into the kiss. You felt him smile against your lips, and his arms snaked around your waist, pulling you impossibly closer. This first kiss was sweet and loving; no move was made to deepen it, all the two of you wanted was to feel your soulmate’s lips against yours.
Unfortunately, you were the first to pull away, needing to catch your breath.
Harry cocked a lopsided grin at you, “Don’ think I’ve ever felt anything like that before.”
“Me neither,” you replied, returning his grin, “it was just as good as I heard it would be, no matter how cheesy it sounds.”
He chuckled and brushed his thumb over your cheek, “Definitely. Honestly would be fine to jus’ kiss y’, but I have better plans for us.”
You took his wrist and guided his thumb to your mouth, sucking on the digit and delighting in the way his eyes darkened with lust.
“Dirty little thing, aren’t y’?” he murmured, pushing his pointer finger in to join his thumb, “how do y’ look s’ fuckin hot just suckin on ‘m fingers?”
He pushed his fingers a little deeper into your mouth, drawing a whine from your lips. You could already feel the heat rushing between your thighs, clenching them together slightly to try and relieve some of the tension.
Harry smirked at you and returned his fingers to your hips, pulling you in for another kiss. If the first one was soft and sweet, this one was exactly the opposite. It was utterly filthy, your toes curling in the Vans you were still wearing as his tongue licked into your mouth. You couldn’t stop the whimpers from falling from your lips even if you tried, especially when his hands travelled downwards to cup your ass. He guided you to stand against the wall, already towering over you as he pressed you into the surface, a few groans of his own gasped out against your lips. You could already feel his hard-on pressing into your core through his sweatpants; the feeling was already making you embarrassingly wet. And when his hips ground into yours, sweet moans escaped your lips as you met him halfway. Soon, his lips disconnected from yours only to attach to your neck. He trailed kisses down the surface, and when he reached the base, he sucked a dark mark into the skin. You whined his name as he punctuated the mark with a slow grind of his hips and a calculated squeeze to your ass. Your fingers were clutching at his shoulders, and even through his shirt, you were sure you would leave a mark.
“Harry, please,” you gasped, hardly knowing what you were begging for, but knowing you needed him to touch you more.
You felt him smirk against your skin as he murmured, “What d’ y’ need, ‘m love? I’ll give y’ anything if y’ ask nicely f’ it.”
Fuck. You had never really been into the whole dominant act with any previous sexual partners (it was common to sleep with other people so that by the time you found your soulmate, you knew the sex would actually be good instead of being fumbling virgins), but somehow, on Harry, you found it scorchingly hot. Your pussy was throbbing with need, personifying your desperation. At first, you weren’t quite sure what to beg for, but when you felt his hands give your ass another harsh squeeze, just thinking about his fingers gave you your answer.
“W-want your fingers, Harry. P-please, n-need you to t-touch me so badly.”
You had never been this close to incoherent so early in a sexual encounter before. You knew your soulmate already held you in a tight grip, even though you had only met that same day!
“Need me t’ touch y’, lovie? Need me t’ stretch that pretty pussy open with m’ fingers?” he taunted, brushing his fingers over the fabric of your jeans.
“Please, please Harry,” you begged.
“Okay, love. All y’ needed t’ do was ask. Should get y’ out of these pesky clothes first, though,” he relented, not wanting to tease too much.
He released his hold on your ass, moving his hands up to remove your sweatshirt. You nearly forgot what shirt you were wearing until the sweatshirt was removed and he was smirking at you, his own merch adorning your body.
“Like your shirt,” he gently teased.
“Oh, shut up,” you groaned, “didn’t exactly think that you’d see it.”
“It’s flattering, love. Suppose y’ did say y’ were a fan,” you could see the gears turning in his head as he finished his response, “might keep that on y’. It’d be kinda hot to fuck m’ girl in m’ merch.”
You couldn’t help but roll your eyes, “Someone’s got an ego.”
He smirked, “I think I’ve earned it.”
Though he kept the shirt on, he kneeled down and removed the Vans you had forgotten to take off. You shivered when he looked up at you, a heat in his eyes that you had never seen before as he unzipped your jeans and slowly slid them down your legs, revealing them to him. Teasingly, he trailed feather-light kisses up your left calf, stopping at the top of your thigh and giving your right leg the same treatment. By the time he stood up, you were absolutely soaked, the wet patch on the front of your panties giving away how desperate you were.
Instead of taking off your panties like you expected, he just pushed them to the side and tracing his finger up your slit, smirking to himself as he felt the wetness there.
“S’ wet f’ me already,” he murmured, bringing his now wet finger up to his mouth and licking it off, “taste s’ sweet, lovie.”
You whimpered as he returned his finger to your core and finally pushed it inside of you. His other hand gripped your hip, digging his fingers into the supple flesh as he fingered you slowly, wanting to draw it out as much as possible. You were gushing around his finger, your hands digging into the fabric of his t-shirt to ground yourself as he worked you over. Sounds you had never even heard yourself make before were spilling from your lips on their own accord, and Harry was drinking them in. He crooked his finger inside of you, relishing in your shaky moan.
“P-please, Har. N-need more, p-please,” you whined, tiring of his slow pace.
“Suppose I did say I’d give y’ whatever y’ wanted if y’ asked nicely,” he said casually, pretending to think it over as he sunk a second finger into your heat.
Your knees wobbled and you threw your head back, nearly slamming it into the wall as the pleasure increased tenfold. But even in your slightly hazy state, you knew that you wanted to give Harry something, too. So, you blindly reached for his sweatpants, tugging them down and shoving your hand into his briefs. He moaned lowly, his motions in your pussy faltering slightly as you gripped his length in your hands and began stroking it. Even though you couldn’t see his dick, you could tell it was big, bigger than any that you had had before. You circled your finger around the tip, collecting the pre-cum that had begun bubbling out and used it for a bit of lubrication, returning to stroking his shaft.
“Fuck, baby. Y’ hand feels s’ much better than mine,” he gasped out.
You felt your face grow warm from the praise and sped up your motions, relishing in the groan that tore itself from his chest. By now, Harry had collected himself slightly, and continued pumping his fingers in and out of your pussy as his lips met yours in a sloppy kiss. You whimpered into the kiss, barely able to reciprocate as the pleasure shot through your body. You were so fucking close, you could feel your release bubbling in your tummy.
“So close, Harry,” you gasped into his mouth.
“Me too, lovie. Y’ hand just feels s’ good,” he moaned in response, redoubling his efforts in your pussy.
Even though you knew it was coming, your orgasm still took you by surprise when he swiped his thumb over your clit. Your legs trembled as you moaned into his mouth, dripping down his fingers and ruining your panties. You tried to keep moving your hand, but the intensity of your orgasm forced you to stop your motions as the pleasure washed over you. Harry worked you through it, murmuring soft things about how good you were for him, and how pretty you looked when you came.
When you finally came down from your high, you knew you had to help Harry reach his. Your other hand tugged his briefs down his thick thighs, revealing his cock. You never knew a cock could be pretty, but his was, long and thick and ridiculously hard. The head was red and throbbing with need, precum still spilling out. You swiped your thumb over the head again, relishing in the squeak that escaped his lips.
“B-baby,” he gasped, “please make me cum.”
You smirked a little bit, enjoying how pliant he had become, “Need me to make you cum, sweetheart? Need me to keep pumping your cock?”
“Y-yes. Fuck, need it s’ bad. P-please,” he whined.
“You’re so pretty like this, begging me to cum,” you whispered, “loved it when you were telling me what to do, but I think you like me being in charge just as much.”
He nodded wildly, “Yes, y-yes. I do, lovie. S’ much.”
You sped up your motions, making him cry out, “Then, do it, Harry. Cum for me.”
His eyes closed and he whined your name as he came to his high, his head slumping onto your shoulder. You worked him through it, telling him how good he had been for you. When he came down from his high, he brushed his lips against yours. This kiss was much more like the first one, gentle and loving.
When you pulled back, you looked into the moss green of his eyes as he said, “That was so good, love.”
You nodded in agreement, “It really was.”
“Give me a minute, then we can go for Round 2? Really wanna taste y’, lovie,” Harry suggested.
You nodded and kissed him again. You knew that you were in  for a long night. It was about time the two of you made up for the eight long years you had to wait for each other.
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douchebagbrainwaves · a month ago
Fundraising is still terribly distracting for startups. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. Between these two sources of variation, the college someone went to Stanford and is not obviously insane, they're probably a safe bet is enough. There are people who would disagree with this. Put the most weight on the second factor. Startup School, he said that while it was a good idea to stop thinking of startup ideas as scalars.1 If you can find someone with a real thirst for knowledge will be able to make investors give them more money upfront. Dukakis. This is after only a few years ago. In 1984 the charisma gap between Reagan and Mondale was like that between Clinton and Dole, with similar results.
But it hardly ever is. As a kid I had what I thought was a huge fleet of toy cars, but they'd only be the company's own developers. The first time it raised money. So you must consciously discount for that. Which is not to invent, but to learn and do. We're trying to find the lower bound. But they won't always have to struggle to come up with something plausible-sounding on the fly, like a student who hasn't prepared for an exam. We had big doubts about this idea, but they aren't one another's main competitor. Most of the groups applying have not stopped to ask: of all the search engines ten years ago trying to sell luggage and pens and men's shirts.
When I was in New York when Giuliani introduced the reforms that made the broken windows theory applies to community sites as well. And most founders who've been burned by such disputes probably had misgivings, which they like, and you'll usually find you've made something other users want too. Most are equivalent to the ones used in convincing investors, just as mountain climbers need to know principle is that you don't know who needs to know it would be more convenient to work with him on something. This is an area where managers can make a huge amount of money in the hope of getting a better one, and actually did. Microsoft as a model, because their whole culture derives from that one lucky break. The arrival of crowdfunding or more precisely, the effect of training. How much should you take, though? Besides which, art dealers are the most technophobic people on earth. This kind of startup is in the same direction. This is a controversial view.
And this form of list may be more useful in practice. If it is possible to make yourself into a great hacker, the way to succeed is to have an explicit belief in change. It was kind of intimidating at first. Windows, they would have been the starting point for their reputation. You build something, make it available, and if you can do the same, if not easy, at least in the hands of good programmers, very fluid. If you're talking to investors, and it will seem to investors no more than superficial changes. Software is so subtle and unpredictable that qualified experts don't get you very far.
If you keep the company going. To the extent there is a secret handshake among good hackers, it's when they know one another well enough to take on the hard problem of predicting their trajectory will tend to displace suits whose skills lie more in raising money from investors is harder than selling to customers, because there are so few players is exacerbated by the fact that you can't just hack. Beyond the moderately useful generalization that human nature doesn't change much, like human nature. The mere fact that bootstrapped startups tend to be people I know personally, but apparently the same pattern. When a technology is this young, the existing solutions are usually terrible; which means it must be worth it to them. They were sued for patent infringement is like a defender who has been beaten so thoroughly that he turns to plead with the referee. It's not their money. It just seemed a very good sign to me that these guys were actually on the ground in NYC hunting down and understanding their users. Originally the only way to decide which to call it is by comparison with other startups. It's a common mistake among inexperienced founders to believe that a partnership with a big company will be able to say they were funded by Sequoia, even if you're one of them, we could make sites for people who did. But if it were, taking money from a top firm would generally be a bargain.
One by one, all the investors are your friends in words, but few are in actions. They have a sofa they can take on the hard problem of predicting their trajectory will tend to displace suits whose skills lie more in raising money from investors, you have to figure out what you're building, and it also has to be big, and it also has to be treated as a threat to a company's survival. That's the best case, this consultingish work may not be very appealing yet, if they do let you down, will still seem to have been increasing: our ability is tested in an ever wider range of situations. And get on with building the company. Frankly, it surprises me how small a role patents play in the software business. So we've probably only discovered a fraction of what we eventually will. One minor abuse that will get easier too. 0 bubble.
At YC one of our secondary mantras is Deals fall through. Hackers are perfectly capable of hearing the voice of the customer without a business person to amplify the signal for them. When you only have a small number of users, you need colleagues to brainstorm with, to talk you out of stupid decisions, and to hold true to it no matter what you do. Acquirers too, while we're at it. How will this all play out? One reason it's so brutal is simply the brutality of markets. The worst stuff in this respect. Because making something people want applies to us too. Kids are less perceptive. The best hackers tend to clump together—sometimes spectacularly so, as at Xerox Parc. Kids are less perceptive. Once both parties realize it's a waste of time.
N is. Finally, to the people whose salaries you're proposing to cut. Occasionally I need to give an example of a great hacker, the way Stripe delivered instant merchant accounts to its first users was that the value of your remaining shares enough to put you net ahead, because so many more new deals appear. That's why we rarely hear phrases like qualified expert in the software business, the most striking thing is how little it matters where people went to college. Is there some quality that's unique to hackers? I'm so optimistic about HN. Was this wrong? Who knew there was so much to know about it? Your unconscious won't even let you think of as having one founder, it seems a different metal. So instead of copying the Facebook, with some variation that the Facebook rightly ignored, look for problems and imagine the company that might solve them. The numbers for me ended up being something like 500 to 800 plans received and read, somewhere between 50 and 100 initial 1 hour meetings held, about 20 companies that I got serious about and did a bunch of new startups.
A Texas oilman was not drinking that kool-aid at the bottom as they do now. I should probably fix. It's common for startups that have hard deadlines, like hedge funds, are not more startups to kill bad comments to solve the problem.
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kaweeella · a month ago
Chapter 3- I Gave Up On Traditional Danganronpa Chaptering
Warnings for death and depictions of a dead body.
Izumi sits at the table. She isn’t keeping an exact count of how long it’s been, but she knows it’s been too long.
“So,” Banri says entering the room. “We got anyone missin’ us yet?”
“Save it.”
“Come on, Banny,” Kazunari enters as well, “It’ll be alright.”
“Whatever. It doesn’t matter to me.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’ve got no horse in this race. Even if that bitch was telling the truth I’m fine. I don’t got a lot of reasons to get out.”
“I’m sure there’s someone who cares about you, Banri.”
“Doesn’t matter. Life was boring. Every day was on repeat. Shit gets boring.”
“... Banri I don’t think this is the answer to your problem.”
“Yeah, there’s a lot you can do to make things fun!”
“Why are you even telling me this? Do you two want me to kill someone?”
“No, Banri, but you’re clearly depressed so we’re trying to help you.”
“Damn, that’s a first.”
Before he can continue Banri gets up and leaves.
“You think he’ll be alright?” Izumi asks him.
“Okay.” She’ll talk to him later.
One by one everyone gets up. Omi makes breakfast, Hisoka sleeps at the table, Azuma and Homare drink tea and talk. Tenma huffs.
“What’s wrong, Tenma?”
“Didja lose something in the halls?” Kazunari asks.
“No. How much longer do we have to wait? I’m trapped in this place full of strangers, and those stupid winding hallways. Why wouldn’t I be upset?”
“We can’t think like that. If we do we might make irrational decisions.”
“What, so I shouldn’t be upset?”
“No, you have every right to be upset but-”
“Yeah. Okay.” He gets up and leaves.
After breakfast, Izumi finds Banri in the library. Her little book stack is still there, though one of the books is missing, she presumes Banri’s reading it. She can’t quite see the book in his hands.
“Hey, Banri, wanna talk or-”
“It’s just that you were-”
“I don’t want to hang out with you, leave me alone you old hag.” He says that as if it’s a line he’s tired of repeating.
Izumi tries to hide her anger. She fails, but she tries. “Alright. See you then.”
Izumi walks down the halls. She finds Kazunari and Yuki, but she doesn’t find Tenma. She’s concerned about him too so she wants to try and cheer him up.
“Well, I guess some things are better off left alone.” She mutters.
“Hey, Izumi.” She turns to see Itaru.
“Hello.” She smiles. “Would you like to hang out?”
They talk in the room she met Sakyo Banri and Tasuku in. She can get a better look now, it has a round couch and a pinball machine.
“Oh hell yeah.” Itaru says under his breath before going to the machine.
“So you like pinball?”
“Yeah. It’s fun.”
Izumi hums. “I was never really good at it. I just liked pushing the buttons.”
Izumi watches him play, the dinging of the machine and the clicking of the buttons the only sounds filling the room for a while.
“Good job.”
“Thanks.” He rubs the back of his neck.
“So what other games do you play?”
“Not that many. Just some card games and other older games.”
“What else do you enjoy doing?”
He laughs nervously. “Well, I like friendly competition with others and group bonding activities. What do you like?”
“I like cooking.”
“That’s a pretty useful hobby. What do you cook?”
“Curry. You wanna try some?”
Izumi excitedly grabs his arm and the head to the kitchen. Though they’re stopped in their tracks when they see Tenma on the floor.
“Oh, Tenma. I don’t think that’s…” Itaru puts his hand on her shoulder. He cautiously steps towards Tenma. “You don’t think…”
Itaru leans in to listen for breathing. He sits up and looks back to her, shaking his head. Before she’s aware she’s doing it she’s screaming, tears rolling down her face.
“Wh-what’s wrong?” Muku and Yuki run from where they were in the hall before pausing.
“Oh my god…”
Suddenly the speaker turns on, Izumi can hear Banri cussing them out from another room.
“A body has been discovered. Please meet in the hallway and I will continue the explanation.”
Izumi covers Muku’s and Yuki’s eyes. They hear the library door open and Banri comes down the hall. He pauses when he sees them.
“Oh fuck…”
Slowly everyone arrives, all staring down at the former child star.
“Now that you’ve all gathered, let me explain the rules. You will be given time to investigate and look for clues. When time is up, you will be taken to the trial.”
“Trial?” She hears someone whisper.
“Then you will discuss the evidence and find the blackened. If you can’t, then the blackened goes free and everyone will be punished. If you do, only the blackened will be punished.”
“Hey asshole, what do you mean by that?!”
They don’t elaborate. They’re just left to figure things out themselves.
“So we have to… look over his body?” Sakuya says in tears.
“No, the adults will investigate, you kids can go wait in the lounge.”
“Oh yeah that’s a great idea.” Banri says. “Keep people out of the loop.”
“What are you implying?”
“Information is our greatest weapon right now, so we should all be a part of the investigation. Unless there’s something you don’t want everyone knowing.”
“Izumi couldn’t have done it. She was with me.”
“Christ, again?” Yuki asks.
“We were playing pinball.”
“Fine then, you’re right. But this is a lot to subject kids to.”
“Yeah, and I’m sure it’s gonna get a hell of a lot worse.”
“So how do we go about this?” Omi asks.
“We should have at least two people watching the body to keep people from tampering.”
“I can do it.” Juza says.
“Yeah, I will too.” Omi says.
Izumi nods and moves towards the body before they all hear something. A little robot rolls down the hallway and stops by them. It has little tablets.
“These are the files. They have the autopsy on them. You might wanna look at them.”
They each grab a tablet and read through it.
The victim is Tenma Sumeragi. He’s 16 years old and 178 centimeters. Cause of death was blunt force trauma. He was killed in the hallway.
Izumi lowers the tablet and looks at him. Only 16… she looks around him. She finds a large book, looking at it, it’s 1001 nights. She looks around at everyone. She sees Azuma and she can’t quite read the look on his face.
“Azuma,” She walks over to him. “Is there something on your mind?”
“Yeah… I asked Tenma to grab something for me earlier. I think it might be my fault he…”
“Did you kill him?”
“Were you the one who bashed him over the head until he wasn’t breathing?”
“Then it’s not your fault. No one could have seen it coming.”
“But I-”
“Izoom’s right, Azu. It’s not your fault. All we can do now is figure out who’s fault it really is.”
He nods. “Okay then.”
“So now we know why he was over here.” She walks over to Banri. “Banri what book were you reading?”
“In the library. You were reading a book, what was it?”
“I don’t know, I was hardly paying attention. It was some collection of weird stories.”
Izumi nods and looks back at the book on the floor. It’s red and blue with a golden lining around the cover with a pretty design.
“Is that it?”
“Were you in the library from when I first saw you there to when the announcement was made?”
She thinks. “Okay. That’s all.” She walks over to the library. In it, she finds her book stack, only missing 1001 nights. She looks around. There are books piled on the floor. Percy Jackson, Pillage, Classic Fantasy Stories, and some others. The cover on Pillage is a blue gradient with a moon in the background and a dragon in the foreground. The cover on the classic fantasy stories is black and blue with gold, and has a moon, city, and what looks like a dragon flying over them. The fantasy book has silver on the pages, sticking them together a little. Opening it up she can guess that he didn’t read that far, as after some point she has to get them unstuck herself.
“What’re you looking at?” Itaru asks in the doorway.
“Banri was reading in here so I wanted to look at what he was reading.”
“Right. We should get other alibis.”
The two of them look around. “Yuki, Muku, what were you two doing?”
“I found this supply room and I was looking at what was in there.” Yuki says.
“I came over about 30 minutes ago and started looking with Rurikawa.”
“Okay. Anything else?”
“I saw you going by and I saw Kazunari looking around. Kazunari left before Muku showed up. Don’t know where he went.”
“Okay, thank you.”
“So you have any ideas?”
“No, we just need to collect more information.” She walks over to Juza and Omi. “What were you two doing?”
“Omi was baking…”
“And what were you doing?”
“He was helping.” Omi smiles.
“Alright, good to know. Thank you.”
They ask around a little longer. The kid and Hisoka were sleeping, Homare was writing, Kazunari was hanging out in Tsuzuru’s room, Azuma was in the dining room, it was mostly like that. A lot of people were just hanging out in their rooms.
“Hey Azuma,” She walks back over to him.  “What did you ask Tenma to get?”
“There’s a storage room and the other day I found some tea there, and I thought it’d help ease his nerves.”
She nods and looks in the storage room. There are some different types of tea. Green, oolong, matcha, black, hibiscus, white, herbal. She also sees fabrics, parchment, weights, other stuff she can’t quite get a look at.
“What tea do you think he liked?”
“I don’t know.” She wishes she could have gotten to know him better.
Walking back, she notices something blocking the door to the women's restroom. A cardboard roll. She can see the crime scene from inside.
“Do you think this is where the culprit was hiding?” Itaru asks.
“Well I didn’t put it there, so probably.”
“Time is up, everyone. Please head to the end of the hall.”
Everyone cautiously walks to the designated area. Muku and Sakuya hold Izumi’s hands. They stand there for a second, not sure what’s supposed to happen, when the wall seems to open. Inside is what appears to be an elevator. They hesitate for a moment.
“Go on, get in.”
After a second, Banri steps on, and everyone follows suit. She waits in the back, the boy joining them.
“Izumi?” He says.
“My name is Masumi Usui. I trust you.”
The four of them sit in the back, the elevator as it descends.
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softhairedhotch · a month ago
Can you do like a one shot where reader helps Aaron with his weekly medicine (from the stabbing) and like tries to make him feel better about himself
thank you for the request!! this really stuck with me n so i just had to write it <33
gender neutral reader <3
warnings/content: mentions of stabbing, talk of medication, comfort
word count: 1.4k
Also on AO3!
Everyone knew that Aaron had been stabbed by Foyet, there was no one in the FBI or surrounding areas who didn’t know, the story being spread around as if it were a long-lost legend being told under the moonlight around a flickering campfire. But what they weren’t aware of was the toll it took on him, the weight on his shoulders from all the pain and memories, every sleepless night because of nightmares and the inability to force himself to take his medication. It was a process he dreaded each waking breath and restless slumber, something that shouldn’t be avoided but something he simply couldn’t deal with. It was his biggest regret and biggest insecurity.
When the two of you first started dating, a few years after the event, he kept his need for medicine a secret, hiding the pill bottles as if they were something to be ashamed of. To him they were, and that broke your heart.
It wasn’t long before you found out, of course. It wasn’t an easy thing to hide, him having to remove himself from whatever the two of you were doing at odd times with a defeated look in his eye, coming back a few minutes later looking seconds away from breaking down. You’d grown accustomed to this, putting two and two together but not wanting to bring it up until he was ready to do so himself. However, as you began to stay over at his apartment more often, sleeping over and waking up in his warm embrace, you realized that there were no specific times where he’d leave. He seemingly had no schedule, leaving whenever the thought to do so occurred to him, sometimes going days without doing it, and that concerned you. If you were right and he was taking medication, then he was forgetting to do so until he was in too much pain to ignore it any longer. The thought upset you and you realized that if you didn’t confront him it was simply going to get worse.
So you waited until he had finished a case, shuffling through the door with hunched yet relieved shoulders. The case had been less hard-hitting than others, being solved in two days and many people being saved in the process, but as always it still affected everyone involved. He shrugged off his blazer, draping it neatly over the back of the couch, before slouching across the cushions and closing his eyes with a deep sigh.
With a glass of water in your hand, you walked over to where he lay, sitting on the edge of the couch beside him. “Here, drink this.”
He sat up with his elbow, taking the glass out of your hand and taking small sips. His eyes were still closed, clearly exhausted after closing the case, flying home, and finishing off any paperwork he had laying about in his office. “Thank you,” he breathed out.
“You had your meds today?” You asked, casually. That was the easiest way to approach the situation, a careful but caring question that held no judgment whatsoever. He froze in place, hand tightening around the glass for a moment as the question cut through his hazy thoughts. It was silent for a few moments, his mind catching up and processing the question, and so you reached out to card your hands through his hair, slowly as to not startle him. “Aaron?”
The question settled over him and he opened his eyes slowly, blinking a few times to regain his vision, looking up at you. “Who told you?”
“You did, silly. I put the pieces together.”
It was silent for another few minutes as he stared up at you, eyes full of confusion as if he couldn’t quite believe it. Your hand still softly combed through his hair as you saw the gears turn in his head, him wondering how to approach the conversation. Finally, he breathed out deeply, a small smile tugging at his lips. “You should become a profiler.”
You laughed, leaning down to press a chaste kiss to his forehead. “I know, I spend far too much time with you,” you mumbled, moving down to press another kiss but this time to his lips. He kissed back, slow and steady, admiring the way you felt against him.
“I haven’t taken my meds today, no,” he mumbled against your lips after a few moments, embarrassed.
You smiled a small smile, kissing him once more. “It’s okay, honey,” you pulled back, stroking his cheek, watching his tired body lean into the comforting touch. “Where are they?”
“In my go-bag.”
With a nod and a kiss to his nose (in which he huffed a laugh), you walked to where it was, unzipping it and digging through the contents, pulling out a large zip-lock bag full of rattling boxes and bottles. There were way more than you originally thought and your stomach plummeted—how did he keep this a secret for so long and why? You closed his bag up before walking over to the couch once more, tapping his leg as a way to get him to sit up. He tiredly complied, swinging his legs over the side of the couch and moving so that he was at the far end, facing you. You sat on the other end, facing him with your legs crossed, and placed the medication between you. He stared down at it with a gulp and so you reached out to stroke at his knee with a gentle smile.
“So, which ones do you need to take and when?”
He numbly began to talk you through each one, pointing them out and allowing you to read through the name, contents, and dose requirements. He told you when he should take them and after much persuading, he told you when he actually did take them, which was hardly ever. He claimed that he didn’t need them, that they were too much hassle, and that he was fine, and so you leaned over to stroke at his cheek with your thumb to tell him that they were there to help him, that they were nothing to be afraid of. It took a while, but he nodded into your palm, eyes never straying from all the white boxes and bottles littered across the dark leather of the couch.
“Give me a second, honey,” you whispered, standing up to reach for a bag of items you had left on the kitchen counter. Once settled back down on the couch he gave you a curious look and all you could do was smile at him, pulling out the items from the bag: a long but thin colourful notepad that specialized in daily reminders, a large solid black bottle for liquids, namely water, and a few medicine trays. The moment he saw them his shoulders slumped and you were sure he was near tears. “Are you okay?”
He took a deep breath, only then tilting his head up to look you in the eyes. “I don’t think anyone has ever cared about me as much as you do.”
Your smile was sad but still present, hand finding its way back to his knee again, comforting him with your touch. “You care so much for everyone else, it was time for someone to return the favour.”
“I’m glad it was you,” he mumbled, hand clasping over yours and thumbing at your knuckles with a feather-light touch. “I’m always going to be glad it was you.”
You leaned forward using the hand on his knee to press a kiss to his cheek, watching his eyebrows and jaw loosen as his lips upturned into a soft, genuine smile. “Okay,” you started, pulling back, “let’s get this figured out, then.”
And so the two of you went through each box, each bottle, each individual pill, scrawling notes and times and reminders—“Take your meds and please remember to smile, honey” and “Call me if it gets too much” as well as “You can do this, I’m so proud of you”—down, filling up the medicine tray with the correct amount of pills for each day. You showed him how each capsule could be disconnected, allowing him to store a collection of pills in his suits at all times so he’d never forget again, which he smiled at. You promised him that’d he never have to go this alone again, that you’d always be there to be his anchor, his rock, to ground him and remind him that he deserved to be happy and safe, to remind him that needing medication to stay that way wasn’t something to be embarrassed or ashamed about, it should be embraced.
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Roguish Women Part 49
Summary: Kate is an American who fled to Paris to escape her past life. Now she's dancing and  playing the part of a courtesan at the Moulin Rouge. There she meets Tommy Shelby who thinks she can be useful in expanding his empire. But has he been blinded?
Part 49: Neither Kate nor Tommy can remain idle for very long. 
//Sorry for such a delay. School has been so tough this semester but this week is finals so I'll be back to writing in no time. I think Helen's death really took the wind out of my sails too. I still haven't really gotten over it. I take celebrity deaths so badly. 
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            But by the time Tommy had returned, however, his own bride had gone missing. Alice pointed him outside again, this time on the back patio. Grateful for some time alone with her, Tommy left the rowdy party inside.
            Kate was sitting on a garden wall; her back was to the party as she overlooked Arrow House’s great lawns. Tommy shrugged off his coat and draped it over her arms.
            The soft-touch of the fabric knocked her out of her own thoughts. “Did you find Alfie?”
            “Yeah, he was out on the steps.” Tommy sat down next to her.
            “Oh good. Mabel was sure he had gotten cold feet and ran.”
            “He’s not going anywhere. Never thought I’d see that man in love. Guess I’ve seen it all now.”
            Kate laughed softly and leaned into his side. Her eyes were still lingering over the grassy hills where grasshoppers chirped and a few owls surveyed hidden in their trees. “This place is bigger than the block I grew up on in Boston.” She remarked. “I’d always grown up wondering where those great outdoors were. Where there was almost nothing for miles and miles. You couldn’t see the end of it. I thought someday I’d go out west and maybe just disappear out there.”
            “I would’ve joined you.” Tommy agreed. “I wanted to a cowboy when I was growing up.”
            Kate smiled and tried to picture young Tommy Shelby pretending to be an outlaw. In a way, he had become one. They both had. “I guess the city isn’t so bad when you’ve got people you care about there. Still, it’s nice to know that there are places where city stuff doesn’t matter.”
            Tommy knew there were things they could never escape. But there was no use destroying the illusion.
            “I was thinking if we had a boy, we could name him after John.” Kate glanced over at her husband. “Arthur and I were talking about it. I guess we could nickname him Jack to make things easier. But I thought it would be a nice honor.”
            Tommy nodded. “I think that’s a nice idea.” There was a hole in his heart that his younger brother had left. So many times, he was tempted to pick up the phone and call him. But then the realization trickled over him like cold water. Esme had taken many things but there were items Tommy still had. Letters and an old schoolbook that John had written all over. The binding was coming loose and the pages were yellowing, but Tommy would never throw it away. He had learned early on to keep little mementos of people before they were gone. He had nothing from his mother. No one did. It was almost like she never existed because there was no trace of her left. It was something he regretted and a mistake he wouldn’t make again.
            He took Kate’s hand in his, squeezing it gently. “What we have girls?”
            “Then one of them will be Jacquelyn.”
            He chuckled. “You always have a plan for everything, don’t you?”
            “Well, I learned from the best.” She murmured and pulled him close for a deep kiss.
            The day was warm as Kate stepped outside. But there were clouds coming in from the horizon. She took her time walking across the patio to the lawns. She went to stand on top of the hill that overlooked the rest of the fields on Arrow House’s land.
            There, she could spot Tommy coming from the forest trails on Blue. He had the horse on a loose rein, letting him lope across the grass. May had told Kate it was a miracle the gelding responded so well to Tommy. According to May, the horse had a fiery temper but that didn’t seem to bother Tommy in the slightest. Kate had a feeling he enjoyed the challenge. She knew he’d been itching for something to do. Between being on holiday and waiting for the due date, Tommy was getting stir-crazy. Having a young horse to focus on training was good enough of a distraction. At least for the time being.
            Blue’s hooves were heavy against the ground as he trotted up the gradual hill to Kate.
            “I thought I’d find a cowboy out here.”
            Tommy chuckled and dismounted. “Were you waiting for me long?”
            “No, I just came out. I was worried you were going to get caught in that storm coming.”
            Tommy took Blue’s reins in hand and began walking with Kate back to the stables. “A little rain doesn’t bother me.”
            “Well, I didn’t want Blue to be spooked. I think it might thunder.”
            He patted the gelding’s shoulder. “He’ll learn to get used to the noises. Warhorses always get used to the noises.”
            Kate noticed the faraway look in his eyes. “I hardly think Blue would be a warhorse. Deserves a better life than that, don’t you think?”            
            “Hm.” He nodded but didn’t seem to really hear her.
            The sky had gone completely dark by the time they reached the stables. Tommy got Blue untacked while Kate combed out his mane. But the horse was starting to pick up on the storm brewing. His nostrils flared and he tossed his head.
            “Sh, sh, easy.” Kate soothed and stroked his neck. “It’s alright.”
            Tommy took Blue off the cross ties. “He’ll settle in his stall.”
            Kate put the mane comb away and wandered to the stable doors. In an instant, it began to pour. Heavy raindrops smattered against the gravel walkway back to the house. The wind picked up and rushed through the budding trees.
            Every time it rained; Kate felt washed over with memories. She didn’t know why the weather had such an impact on her. But there was only so much she could do when the sky was putting on such a violent display.
            Tommy wrapped an arm around her waist. “Guess we’ll be stuck here for a bit.”
            “It’ll go as soon as it came.” She said quietly.
            “Want to sit?”
            “Oh, yes, that would be a good idea.” Sometimes when she was lost in her thoughts, she forgot the burden of carrying twins.
            Tommy grabbed a stool from the tack room to let her sit. Kate sighed and watched some of the rainwater trickling into the stable aisle.
            As if reading her mind, Tommy slid the doors shut. The rain was muffled and mixed with the sound of the horses stirring in their stalls. Blue poked his head out, snorting uneasily.
            “Y’know, it rained one of the last few days I was at the Moulin Rouge,” Kate said. If they were going to be stuck in the stables until the rain ebbed, she figured it would be a good idea to talk. “And I realized that sometimes the worst comes before the good.”
            Tommy sat down on a bale of hay next to her. “I’ve found that too.”
            She smiled. “So maybe with all we’ve been through so far, it opens us up for happiness the rest of our lives.”
            “Kate, I want nothing more than for you to be happy.”  
            “I know, so I guess I…” She chewed on her lip. “I don’t want to sound like an awful person saying this, but I don’t want to lie to you either.”
            Tommy reached over to lift her chin. “Tell me.”
            “I hope that during this holiday you’re taking, you’ll realize there’s more to life than clawing your way to the top.” Kate took his hand in hers. “I hope you’ll see that maybe you were destined for better things. You said how you wanted to work with horses. You have plenty of money to just do that. To retire and-” Her voice faded when she realized she was losing him.
            His blue eyes were steady on their entwined hands. “I can’t stay still, Kate.” He whispered. “Not since the war. If I stay still, if I stop moving forward…everything catches up to me.”
            Kate understood completely. When she was running from Santo all those years, she never felt safe in one spot. Physically or psychologically. If she kept moving, she felt she was steps ahead of her opponents. Steps ahead of the turmoil she’d left behind. If she kept moving, she could forget about her mother’s death. She couldn’t ask Tommy to stand still and let it all catch up to him.
            “I understand.”
            Tommy brought her hand to his lips, gently kissing her knuckles. “It’ll be alright.” He promised. “The holiday will be fine. We’ll be busy soon enough.”
            Kate smiled but felt a little deflated. If only there was something she could do to help her husband. But it felt impossible.
            The rain let up just enough for Tommy and Kate to hurry back to the house. Thunder rumbled across the sky and the wind tore across the countryside with a vengeance. Kate didn’t like to think she was superstitious, but she was getting an ominous feeling that she couldn’t shake.
            The windowpanes rattled after dinner from the thunder that was still getting closer. Kate retired to bed before Tommy but she couldn’t sleep. Instead, she paced by the windows. There wasn’t much to see outside. It was too dark and raining too hard. But Kate she could see shadows on the lawns. A chill ran up her spine when a crack of lightning flashed across the sky.
            She gasped when she swore that she could see a menacing figure standing outside. In her panic and fear, her brain conjured up an image of Santo. The floorboards behind her creaked and she couldn’t help but let out a scream.
            “Hey, hey, what’s wrong?” Tommy turned on the light and rushed over to her.
            So startled, Kate began to cry.
            “What’s wrong?” He pulled her close.
            “I’m just s-so scared, Tom.”
            “There’s nothing to be afraid of, love, I would never let anything bad happen to you.” Tommy kissed her temple and rubbed her back. “What spooked you?”
            But Kate was too petrified to answer. Every roll of thunder and every flash of lightning made her shake. She couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. “I-I’m just scared.”  It was scarce, the number of times Kate admitted to being afraid of anything. No one needed to know her fears. If they did, she was certain they would just use those fears against her. Some sort of manipulative tool. But there were times, like in that moment, she couldn’t contain her anxiety. There was no telling why, but so many things were coming up to the surface that night. Perhaps she had remained idle for too long as well.
Permanent Tag: @papa-geralt-of-cirilla @biba3434 @kimmietea @enrapturedbythemoon @vampgirl1997 @tarafaithe @evelynshelby
Tag list: @radical-gecko @actorinfluence @meltingicequeen @merlettina
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suhdays · a month ago
love of an enemy, 1 | jjk
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spin off from the smau series made of honor
❝he’s the self proclaimed shakespeare prodigy while you are a passionate classical literature student. normally you wouldn’t associate yourself with his kind but for every shakespearean play made available for auditions, you came face-to-face for the lead roles. with a messy past and motivation to always be better than the other person, you both land the role in the upcoming production of romeo & juliet. now you are faced with the biggest dilemma — acting as if you were in love with your enemy.❞
part one | part two (coming soon)
• pairing: shakespeare enthusiast jeongguk x shakespeare enthusiast f reader
• genre: angst, fluff, comedy, e2l, shakespeare au, theatre au
• warning(s): profanity, allusion to depression and anxiety (never heavily described), mention of past cheating, messy breakup
• rating: pg-13
• word count: 6.7k
• beta reader: @mk-bizzle read over big chunks of this so thank you for taking the time to help me !! 
• tags: @seolaquotes @somewhereofftheglobe @chewymoustachio @deathkat657 @betysotelo18 @xxxanimangxxx @preciouschimine @ladyartemesia
• important: MOH Y/N is reader from made of honor. 
• note: here is part one !!! this one is a little shorter than originally planned BUT part two will be over 10k because it’s a lot of back story and yes im excited !! Some of these events are lined up with the plot of made of honor so i suggest reading that smau before reading this...all the characters are exactly the same. otherwise,,,lmk what you think of this !! far more angsty than i thought it would be akjssj. there are also some major time jumps because just like the group is in made of honor, the people are a bit older. 
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Jeongguk admired the art and effort of every play. Even if he couldn’t see it live or through a screen, he still found excitement in reading the script as if he was the one standing on the stage in place of the protagonist. There was a feeling that consumed his entire being that couldn’t be described in words. He sought after this passion ever since his mother took him to see his first show at the local theatre - The Wizard of Oz. The production itself was fairly cheap since the director funded the entire thing himself and the actors were just strangers interested in giving it a try. However, it became the most beautiful experience of his life. Excitement such as this has not truly existed until the initial applause of the audience and the curtains were raised. 
Needless to say, he gradually became more invested in the art of it all. All throughout middle school and into college, he made sure to see all the latest shows. During this time period is when he became enthralled by Shakespeare. Perhaps not the man himself but what the author was capable of. All of these intricate plotlines that developed relationships in various’s the dream that he imagined himself partaking in at a young age. To participate in the excitement of working alongside others with equal parts enthusiasm for this craft is what added to the fulfillment of his life. 
He did understand that pursuing this kind of thing wasn’t always profitable for everyone. This is why Jeongguk opted to major in literature and creative writing. Some may say that even those two paths aren’t the most ideal...but he wasn’t about to study a subject that made him absolutely miserable. 
“My eyeballs freaking burn,” Johnny groaned into his open textbook. “Why on earth did I agree to major in biology?” 
“Not too late to switch,” Jeongguk murmured in a daze while shuffling through yet another Shakespearean play. 
Johnny lifted his head up to eye the boy that sat across from him knowing his focus was elsewhere. Audibly sighing, he reached forward to pull down the book to exaggerate his true exhaustion. 
“Can you give me an ounce of love that you give that dead poet every day?” Johnny narrowed his eyes. “I am suffering from these definitions.” 
“Again,” Jeongguk repeated himself, this time shutting the pages closed completely. “It’s sophomore year. You still have time to change.” 
Johnny leaned back into the chair, “I hate it here.” 
Jeongguk rolled his eyes for what felt like the hundredth time that morning. After agreeing to keep Johnny company in the library, he hardly got out of bed before already being consumed with regret. It was far too early to handle this kind of nonsense when it could easily be postponed a few more hours. He perhaps was thankful for already being fully aware of the things he wanted when entering college. Although he did have his fair share of doubts because the probability of finding a job right out of graduation is sometimes impossible. 
All he truly desired was to be happy, even if it meant his degree became his hobby in the long run. 
“When did you become so stuck in the clouds?” Johnny recentered his attention onto Jeongguk who hadn’t touched the essay he supposedly needed to write. 
“Why did you become so annoying?” Jeongguk shot back, this time slightly raising his voice louder than one should in the library. 
At this point their bickering could be heard all through the second floor shelves. Whenever this kind of disturbance occurred it normally lasted a few minutes, so the need to complain was nonexistent. 
That is, until some girl rolled her chair back away from one of the single booths. 
“Can you both shut up?” She held a stern gaze that made Johnny shift his posture. “Go take your degree crisis somewhere else.” 
Jeongguk looked stunned before stumbling over his words, “It’s his fault.” 
“Hey,” Johnny gasped at how quick he was to throw him under the bus. 
“I don’t care who it was, just be quiet.” She rolled her eyes before scooting towards her prior position, hidden from their sight but fully known by her presence. 
Johnny sealed his lips before returning to his mess of textbooks. Perhaps he was slightly afraid that she would snap at him again or that this stranger somehow settled enough fear in him to focus on his own work. Either way, Jeongguk almost wanted to laugh at how determined his friend became in the matter of seconds. 
From sighing occasionally at the onset of a headache, there was a steady silence as everyone gained focus on their assignments. Jeongguk even opted to start looking into his upcoming paper. By scanning through the requirements for the essay he already was in way over his head. The topic itself wasn’t troublesome so much as the professors guidelines were. In the end, he would probably stay awake late into the night attempting to figure out. Would he strive to have it completed in time? No, not until distracting himself with everything else that he actually enjoys. 
That’s his most toxic trait as a student...or in general. By some miracle he always manages to get it all done. There is never one ideal image of who to be in college because everyone has their inner battles when faced with hours upon hours of work. Jeongguk did his best.
In the time that they did remain in the library, Johnny finished a total of three problems before opting to take a nap in his dorm. This left Jeongguk to type up his paper outline with very little comprehension as to what the bullet points even meant. What gave him a good conscience was the fact that he attempted to do it and it reached the needed elements. 
“Oh goodness,” he stretched his arms over his head to undo the poor posture he maintained for hours. 
He collected his bag by draping it over his left shoulder. While he started to leave he couldn’t help but glance at where the girl was previously seated. The booth she once appeared from was empty aside from a stack of books that instantly sparked his interest - Shakespeare. Some paper and notebooks were situated beside them which meant she intended on returning. Jeongguk briefly smiled to himself when recognizing that the source of her stress is from a genre that he actually adored. 
Once he stepped through the doors to the blinding sunlight, he adjusted his vision to see the general vicinity empty except for she laying in the grass. Resting on her back with her arms extended above her head with palms open, she looked content unlike a few hours prior. 
For several moments he fought the urge to speak to her. He wanted to seem normal and not like a creep that sought to ruin her day after being too loud. However, he did feel inclined to disturb her peace one last time (hopefully for good reason). 
“Hey, uh-” Jeongguk wiped his clammy palms along his jeans as if he was about to start a tiresome interview. 
“Yes?” She sat upright to meet his gaze, this time her voice is much softer. 
“I wanted to apologize,” he slowly moved closer without breaking your comfort zone. “I didn’t mean to ruin your...studies.” 
She tilted her head back with laughter, “I was just frustrated with my paper and the last thing that set me off was someone having the same breakdown as me.” 
“I saw you were working on Shakespeare?” 
“Ugh,” she fell back to the grass. “I freaking loathe Shakespeare...but here I am having to write on him.” 
“Loathe?” Jeongguk gasped. “Shakespeare is pure art. I could write on him every single day without problems.” 
“You’re that passionate Shakespeare guy,” she pulled herself back up to point at him. 
“Yes,” Jeongguk bowed. “The Shakespeare guy that could totally help you with your paper since I am a tutor in the English department.” 
“No catch?” She squinted her eyes to analyze him for bluffing or ulterior motives. 
“No catch, I genuinely want to help.” Jeongguk truly meant his words not only because of his passion for the subject but that he attempted to support people in whatever way possible. 
“Let’s get going then, Shakespeare.” She officially stood up to wipe off anything that stuck to her clothing. “I’m Daisy.” 
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Daisy had become someone that Jeongguk saw regularly. From assisting on that one paper, it allowed for a foundation to be made that evolved into a friendship. At first this meant spending time together in the library while discussing pointless things. Eventually it shifted into a gathering at the cafe where Johnny finally agreed to participate if she didn’t ridicule him. It seems he was a bit...distrusting after their very first interaction. 
The only flaw that Jeongguk noted was her distaste for Shakespeare. He could let it slide seeing as not everyone in his life was as excited as he was. Well...except for one person. 
“Art thou always intent on mocking my passion?” Jeongguk glanced over at Daisy who happened to stuff her cheeks with a sandwich. 
Even as she was quickly chowing down on her meal she didn’t hesitate to make it known of her lack of interest. Shaking her head in annoyance, she reached over to flick the tip of his nose. 
“You would get along with my best friend,” she finished her final bite. “She is just as enthusiastic as you are about this nonsense.” 
“Nonsense? You break my heart my fair maiden,” Jeongguk dramatically clenched his chest. 
“Dork,” Daisy nudged his shoulder. “A cute dork.” 
Jeongguk felt his chest tighten with warmth, “I’m cute?” 
“Very much so,” Daisy smiled softly. 
“Oh,” Jeongguk murmured under his breath. 
“You don’t receive compliments often, do you?” Daisy shifted her body to where she fully faced him on the seat. By holding his gaze she could clearly see that flattery of any kind is not his strong suit. At least, he never knew how to handle it in the few times it occurred. 
“Not really,” Jeongguk scratched the back of his neck to signal his true awkwardness in the situation. “Most people ignore me or mock me.” 
Daisy could be seen as one of them. She did persistently make teasing comments about his love for Shakespeare but that wasn’t her only cause for engagement. In all honesty, she truly adored listening to him speak even if it was about things she wasn’t skilled in herself. 
Jeongguk deserved to be complimented every single day. 
“You are beyond cute,” Daisy reached forward to hold both of his hands. “So freaking cute.” 
She became adamant in showering him in adoration, however, not enough to realize the underlying feelings. It took Jeongguk scooting slightly closer for her to notice the increased pace of her heart. 
Once she stopped fidgeting out of nervousness, Jeongguk paused to move one of his hands towards your jawline.
“Can I kiss you?” Jeongguk asked softly. 
“Yes,” Daisy muttered breathlessly. 
Jeongguk was incredibly tender as he feathered his lips to the corner of her mouth, gradually planting a full on kiss that deepened in the matter of seconds. Neither of them expected this kind of thing because whatever developed was always hidden beneath banter. Now that it became reality….it came with unexpected guests. 
“How disgusting,” a voice spoke up that ultimately separated the two of them with glistening eyes. “You asked me to come only to witness the death of poetry.” 
“Rude,” Daisy gasped playfully. 
“You must be the Shakespeare fan,” the girl plopped her stack of books on the table. “I’m the best friend, Y/N.” 
“I’m Jeongguk,” he smiled while extending his hand over the surface. “And I wouldn’t label myself as a fan.” 
“I will be the judge of that,” you pulled out your notebook where a list of questions was prepared all centered around the playwright. 
“Oh no,” Daisy slapped her palm to her head in shame. “I’m so sorry.” 
“I can see why you two are best friends,” Jeongguk eased into a laugh since he genuinely didn’t feel under pressure. 
“I’m the more outgoing one,” Daisy chimed in. 
“And I’m the caretaker of your disasters,” you forced a grin. “Basically her mother.” 
“What am I getting myself into?” Jeongguk sighed in playfulness to the point it earned an arm slap from Daisy. 
“You just kissed so apparently…a shit ton.” You ignored the almost interrogation-like questions scribbled at your grasp to fully examine the pair in front of you. 
Complete dorks is what they are. Absolutely unreal. 
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Jeongguk was on the cusp of fully memorizing Macbeth in the bathroom when his peace was disturbed by an annoyed roommate, Johnny. The other side of the door rumbled with persistent knocks that signaled his impatient state. At first Jeongguk ignored him to fulfill his prior goal — finish the play. Two hours passed and he had exited the shower long ago but still stood in front of the mirror wrapped in a total of three towels. Yes, all three are essential to capturing the mood. 
“Maybe your girlfriend can come lure you out,” Johnny groaned in agony. 
“She has exams,” Jeongguk answered mindlessly. “Besides, you only want to dye your hair so it’s not an emergency.” 
“It’s because I want to get the part in the play,” Johnny explained with little to no proof that his tactic works. 
“That logic makes no sense,” Jeongguk laughed. 
Just a few years prior he would have never guessed Johnny’s complete shift to theatre. Eventually he admitted that his misery was not due to lack of understanding but that he was utterly miserable. Simply going through the motions with no interest in the field, he strived to find joy in at least one area. Turns out, he had a knack for acting. Thankfully because of Jeongguk he was able to step into that world fairly easily. Some bumps in the road prompted more breakdowns than needed….all for him to say he has regrets. 
Now onto the present day where he insisted hair dye is the deciding factor into getting a role. 
“If I look the part then I can achieve greatness,” Johnny insisted for the hundredth time. Apparently that’s all that Jeongguk needed to cave in and unlock the door. 
“Finally,” Johnny cheered excitedly. “Time to look like a...bad boy.” 
“Good luck,” Jeongguk laughed before finally exiting the bathroom to get prepared for the day. 
Tonight was the final show for Macbeth and Jeongguk happened to be in the lead role. He felt all the usual jitters that one does whenever faced with being in front of a crowd to recite numerous lines. Regardless of this, he absolutely adored being a part of a production that brought him back to his fondest memories. One con to the entire thing is that you played Lady Macbeth. It’s not like he despised you or anything but you never gave up in trying to see if his passions were real. At any given moment you formed a pop quiz with hopes of prompting him to fail. For that reason Jeongguk felt obligated to fully prepare and freshen up on his Shakespeare trivia. 
Aside from the bickering and attempts to see who is better, you actually got along with Jeongguk. His personality oddly clicked with yours. Perhaps that’s the main reason you decided to find some faults in him. Everything he accomplished was out of a natural ability you couldn’t quite grasp. In some areas you were more gifted than him...some. All of this ignited an unspoken competition that your beloved best friend, Daisy, found amusement in. 
Together you created a rivalry that was..unusual. Daisy didn’t necessarily support Jeongguk’s goals in light of Shakespearean things. Y/N was the one person who understood why he found interest in this genre. But none of that mattered as Jeongguk was head over heels in love with Daisy. He just didn’t have the guts to tell her yet. 
“Are you nervous for tonight?” Johnny stepped out of the bathroom with stains of dye along his forehead. 
“No,” Jeongguk shrugged. “Ready to not be in close proximity with Y/N anymore.” 
“You dislike her that much, huh?” 
“She just likes to get on my nerves,” Jeongguk rolled his eyes at the instant thought of turmoil you have put him through. “I am more than fine seeing her once when Daisy and I are at lunch.” 
“Just admit you like her as a friend,” Johnny leaned against the frame of the door. 
“An acquaintance,” Jeongguk corrected.
Johnny scoffed at his easy dismissal. Instead of prying further he opted to leave him alone in his thoughts so he could fulfill his dream of being a brunette again. This left Jeongguk to finish packing up his bag with all of his stage makeup and proper undergarments to ensure some comfort. Dismissing himself from the dorm, he made the same walk he did every day towards the campus theatre. A sense of excitement filled his chest that only appeared whenever he traveled there. 
This is where he belonged. 
“Hey loser,” you greeted bluntly as you munched on an apple, already wearing the wig required for the evening. 
“You look ravishing,” Jeongguk teased with a smug grin. “That wig suits you.” 
“Oh, what a good burn.” 
You weren’t all that amused with his attempts in mocking you. Despite all efforts he truly was a big dork that you couldn’t stand in the slightest. Thankfully this was the last night you had to endure his presence for more than three hours. 
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The audience roared in excitement as the entire cast stepped up to the edge of the stage. At first the lights were beyond blinding so it was difficult to recognize any faces. Gradually, everyone adjusted to where they smiled easily without strain. You and Jeongguk were the first ones to move forward, holding hands to bow at the outpour of excitement. One thing you loathed the most is how sweaty his palms were so once the allotted time elapsed, you peeled away with a scowl on your lips. Thankfully no one ever caught on so they could focus on every other detail. 
Jeongguk did search for the one familiar face that always brought him joy. The longer he tried to scan the seats for Daisy the more he felt the disappointment crawl over his shoulders. She was nowhere to be found. Although he did not allow that to hinder the fact that he survived yet another successful production. 
Once everyone was cleared to go change or to mingle with the guests, Jeongguk didn’t hesitate to rush to wash off his makeup. He was eager to find her just to enjoy the moment so he paid no attention to anything else, not even your snide comments. 
“See you guys later,” Jeongguk waved to the chaotic mess of piled costumes and damp towels. 
Fully aware that he will be back for the next play, he didn’t feel too upset about missing the after party which resulted in far too many drinks. Instead, he walked with his gaze fixated on his phone to call Daisy. Bringing the device up to his ear, he began to slow his pace before turning to see two figures pressed against the brick wall. As he got closer he caught sight of the man who played Macduff sucking Daisy’s lips. 
In an instant Jeongguk’s entire being shattered into a million pieces. His mind sounded like glass that cracked from one mere touch. In reality, that is exactly what happened. Just one look at the love of his life in the arms of someone else was enough to drain any ounce of joy into a sadness that stole his ability to breathe. All this time he kept his phone held in his grasp to hear the ringing on the other end. Naturally, she pulled away to see the caller id...and it all clicked that they were not alone. 
Daisy looked up to meet Jeongguk’s glistening gaze, not from happiness but from the tears that puddled in his vision. She opened her mouth to speak words that would add no value to the situation. However, Jeongguk already turned around and walked away. 
What is love? What is love if it’s one sided? It’s simply meaningless. 
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Jeongguk couldn’t function properly. He remained glued to his bed without the motive to get up and at least wash his face. The moment he saw Daisy kissing someone else he returned to his dorm without bothering to change. There were a series of messages that lit up his screen. He gathered it belonged to Daisy to explain for all that had unfolded. Either way, he didn’t care to see her or to hear her voice. All that he would notice is the lips of a cheater. The lips that once felt like heaven on his skin. Daisy is a cheater. 
Time moved increasingly slower. One second felt like five years. All the pain encompassed his soul like a throne from a rose. From the initial glance it was pure beauty that lured everyone in, except once it was in their grasp it reminds them that not everything is as good as it seems. 
He felt like an utter fool for thinking she genuinely cared for him. No everyone is as good as they seem. 
“Dude, are you okay?” Johnny stumbled through the door around midnight to fully expect him to be gone celebrating. 
Jeongguk was silent. 
“What happened?” Johnny became instantly concerned, so he inched closer to Jeongguk’s bed where his back was facing him. 
This is when Jeongguk shifted his weight to look Johnny in the eyes, “Daisy cheated.” 
Sadness engulfed his expression, “Oh no.” 
There wasn’t any point in trying to talk it through because it was far too raw. The hollow feeling swarming his chest doesn’t simply vanish in the blink of an eye. Johnny understood that the proper moment to discuss everything would come sooner or later. As of right now, he moved away from Jeongguk to give him space. much space as one could allow when sharing a room. He still wanted his friend to know that he was present to give him whatever support possible. 
How did support really look? Nothing he says could relieve the pain. No act is enough to erase the fact that the girl he loved didn’t truly love him at all. 
In the end...there was nothing but the glimpse of a dream. A dream he wished he never woke up from. 
Eventually he had to face the world. He had to get up and go about his usual routine because missing more than one assignment would create plenty of damage to his grades. The fact that this education system was so weighted on one thing was ridiculous. Especially when the professors aren’t always so willing to understand the events that occur personally. 
So, Jeongguk got up the next day. He dragged his feet like a ton of bricks around the space to get ready, although he didn’t necessarily care about looking lively. The lack of sleep prompted dark circles to appear darker and more evident than before. His hair was in a tangled mess that fell over his eyes to the point of not fully being able to see. The main accomplishment is that he stood up and was walking out the door. At the sight of this Johnny rushed to follow him to ensure he at least got to class in at least one piece. 
One thing Jeongguk didn’t think to recall is the fact that Daisy had her own mindset. This mindset led to a lie that tricked you into thinking all blame was on him. Being Daisy’s best friend meant supporting her through thick and thin. Supporting her meant believing her word over anything else. 
This isn’t what Jeongguk saw coming. 
“You bitch,” your voice called out from across the courtyard where no one else, beside Jeongguk and Johnny, were occupying. “You fucking cheater.” 
Jeongguk didn’t have time to process what was unfolding before you marched up to him to throw water in his face. The water symbolizes all the anger and hurt you possessed for seeing your friend act disgustingly. Yes, Jeongguk was your friend. However, friendships are fleeting just like time. 
“How dare you cheat on Daisy?” Your voice wavered because of all the built up aggression you clung to. 
Johnny stepped forward to speak up in protection when Jeongguk stopped him, “Don’t bother.” 
There was no need to speak up or to supposedly clear his name. If you were going to believe one side of the story and not be willing to hear his own, it wasn’t worth it to fight. Jeongguk didn’t bother to move except for wiping away the water that trickled down his cheeks. 
“You’re just going to stand there in silence?” You asked more sternly, this time waiting for him to meet your fiery gaze. He never did. 
“You’re a coward,” you muttered under your breath before turning on your heel and storming off. 
Jeongguk stood completely still without a sign of life until Johnny stood in front of him, “Why didn’t you tell her the truth?”
“There’s no point trying to save something that never really existed,” Jeongguk murmured sadly. “She can believe what she thinks is the truth, just like you do right now.” 
That’s the thing about all of this, Johnny didn’t even know the actual story himself. All he ever knew was that Jeongguk was absolutely broken. A man who carried such sorrow in his eyes, real sorrow, is not someone who would go out of their way to break another being. In the four years that he has known him, he can confidently say that Jeongguk always gave his full attention to something. When he loves something or someone, he does whatever he can to ensure it’s done wholeheartedly. That’s why Johnny didn’t demand to know all the details until his friend was ready to do so. 
In the end, it’s about those who truly care for you. They are the ones to always have by your side. 
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“’re into Shakespeare?” 
Jeongguk was carrying his boxes into the apartment where his new roommate, Namjoon, took no time in looking at the stacks of books already collected on the shelf. They only had briefly known each other through the one person he actually tried to go on a date with...turns out they weren’t suited to be together. He simply felt proud of himself for having the courage to try an app for dating. After being single since senior year, he thought it was right for him to move on. Maybe moving on can wait. 
As of right now he was simply navigating his new home with a rather passionate, yet sarcastic youtuber. 
“Thy observations doth speak truth,” Jeongguk answered fondly through a beaming smile. 
“You’re one of those guys,” Namjoon buried his face into his palms to groan. 
“Indeed,” Jeongguk bowed slightly. 
“You should join me for one of my videos,” Namjoon passed by him to rest his hand on his shoulder. “My subscribers will love you.” 
“Only if you help me with my plays,” Jeongguk suggested a compromise.
“As long as we don’t have to kiss...I’m fine.” 
“Deal,” Jeongguk smiled as they both shook hands to seal the deal. 
After this brief encounter, the rest of the day resulted in silent organizing. Namjoon offered to help but soon understood that it’s not his belongings to replace. He ultimately worked quietly in his corner of the apartment while Jeongguk sat on the floor filtering through the ridiculous amount of items he owned. One doesn’t realize the quantities until having to pack it all up in a limited set of boxes. Not that he minded, it just got tiring after a set several hours with no end in sight. 
Eventually Jeongguk sprawled across the carpet with his palms concealing his exhausted features. 
“Are you interested in having lunch with my friends and I?” Namjoon asks hesitantly (since not everyone likes to be introduced to that many new things in a single day). 
“Aye sir,” Jeongguk sat upright. “Doth these mates of thine require a formal greeting?” 
“You will fit in perfectly,” Namjoon pulled a large hoodie over his frame. 
“So, not formal?” Jeongguk eased into a smile. 
“Beyond informal.” 
And Namjoon was correct. There is no terminology that could capture the authentic group of friends that managed to come into his life. Everyone was so uniquely themselves that it would appear it may not work as a cohesive family, except it somehow does. Jeongguk was surprisingly not afraid of meeting new people. Based on experiences he may be a bit shy initially but it depends on the audience. If it feels like pulling teeth to interact or that they don’t bother to understand his own quirks, then it’s not worth pursuing. 
It seems refreshing to try and go out for a change. Even if it’s not with his own specific people like Johnny. He intended on living his life without feeling hindered for his choices. For the longest time he dwelt on the fact that Daisy broke his heart. Perhaps it’s silly to cling to the past but how can someone not do that when the past shapes who you are in the present? Daisy was his first love. 
After senior year Jeongguk detached from all things Shakespeare. He didn’t bother to pick up a play book because it harbored the negative memories. Johnny did his best to remind him of all the joy that he used to possess but he also didn’t believe forcing it was smart. Gradually, he returned to himself without dwelling on what could have been. Instead, he looked to what could be. 
Some may say it’s silly to be so attached to one relationship but pain comes in many forms. Pain builds off a lie or a snide remark. It doesn’t matter the source because every heart experiences it’s own grief. 
“Please just don’t move out after you meet them,” Namjoon pleaded since he had no interest in going through such a tiresome process to find a new roommate. 
“I met MOH Y/N already so I think it won’t be too bad,” Jeongguk shrugged as if it was no big deal. 
“She is only one fraction of the problem.” 
Namjoon acted as if he was the exhausted mother of the group. Despite obviously being worn thin from the chaotic energy, he still willingly wanted to be included. That is enough for Jeongguk to believe that everyone he was able to meet was going to be a great new addition into his own life. At least, that is what he told himself for the sake of entering this situation on a positive note.  
He did begin to feel the rise of nerves in his chest the second they pulled up to what looked like someone’s apartment. For a moment he assumed it would be at a restaurant (as one should when going out for lunch). 
“Who lives here?” Jeongguk asked in complete shock of how expensive it all looked just from the exterior. 
“Taehyung,” Namjoon answered promptly. “He’s a smug marketing guy who is too pretty for his own good.” 
“Can someone ever be too pretty?” Jeongguk laughed lightly at the short description. 
Surely there are other recognizable traits about this Taehyung that better sum him up as a person. However, Namjoon obviously knows him far better so if that is the lens in which he sees him, then so be it. 
Namjoon shuffled into the lobby elevator to press the correct floor number, “That kind of pretty surely gets to a certain person’s head.” 
Silence fell over them for the few seconds that the lift lasted. Once it opened up into the apartment all the stillness evaporated into thin air as now all the screams and laughter increased. Taken by surprise by how the volume increased, Jeongguk searched for the cause to quickly discover an intense game of twister. It was all hands on deck in what appeared to be a human knot. 
“Jeongguk!” MOH Y/N roared in excitement from an unstable position that prompted her elbows to shake horribly. “Welcome to the party!”
“I thought you said he was Shakespeare,” someone muttered slightly disappointed. 
“She said he likes Shakespeare,” another voice responded in correction of the first. 
“How about we stop these shenanigans to properly introduce ourselves,” MOH Y/N suggested after nearly collapsing head first onto the hardwood floor. 
Everyone sounded their irritation with giving up so soon, although with a hint of relief since joint pain was a real issue during these games. One by one everyone adjusted themselves to be presentable (it was a little late for great first impressions anyway). 
“I’m Jimin,” the first guy who initially confused Jeongguk’s identity with actual Shakespeare extended his hand forward. “Wonderful to meet the man, the myth, the legend.” 
“Not actually Shakespeare,” the second voice from before shook his head in dismay. “I’m Yoongi, a decent photographer if you ever need a new headshot.” 
“Oh, thank you.” Jeongguk smiled awkwardly at the rather genuine offer. 
The next person to speak was the only one that dressed in a button up which tied in perfectly with the expensive furniture, “I’m Taehyung, the stud muffin that owns this apartment.” 
“He owns this place but I bring in the business for him to pay for it,” the last unknown face was just as equally pretty as everyone else. Namjoon forgot to mention everyone else in his friend group. “I’m Seokjin, the best receptionist alive.” 
“I apologize in advance for anything that may be said,” MOH Y/N rolled her eyes out of habit. 
In all honesty this is the kind of group that he could see himself being accepted in. Most would assume he is some sheltered child who likes reading unrealistic plays. In reality, what stemmed from a happy memory while growing up has now grown into an outlet for him to express his true passions. 
Everything was going to work out. 
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There is an odd thing that happens when people bond over absolute somehow starts to make sense to them. Jeongguk was one of those things that never quite made any sense until he started to develop deeper relationships. The longer he endured Jimin’s monologues about why fuzzy socks work with crocs and Yoongi’s intricate history lessons on photography, he learned that this level of personality differences created a chaotic mess. He thrived off of it. 
“Please don’t make me smooch you again,” Jimin whined yet again after rehearsing the same romantic scene of the play. 
“I didn’t ask you to smooch me,” Jeongguk eyed him over the edge of the script. 
“It makes the scene more accurate,” Jimin explained under his breath. “I only kissed your cheek.” 
Jeongguk refrained from smiling, “You also didn’t have to wear fifty pounds of lip gloss, either.” 
“Seokjin said that the key to a long life is to be moisturized,” Jimin then went on to recite word for word the intricate instruction Seokjin had shared that actually was good advice. 
At this point the two of them had been practicing this scene in Romeo and Juliet for a majority of the morning. Everyone that Jeongguk had reached out to denied his request, even Johnny who normally was his go-to partner in acting. When concerning a supposedly wonderful love story, the idea of having to pretend to harbor those romantic feelings seemed far fetched (and a little disgusting). Now that there was an upcoming marriage amongst the usual crew, the dynamic was bound to change so it is up to Jimin to be the damsel in distress. 
“Do I have to wear this scandalous dress?” Jimin questioned by showing his exposed ankle (the most modest outfit he probably has ever owned). 
“Doth your mother know you weareth her drapes?” Jeongguk guided his hand outward in an attempt to motion for Jimin to do the same. Instead, he stared intently to recall where he had heard that exact phrase. 
“It’s Avengers,” Jeongguk dropped his shoulders with a heavy sigh brushing over his lips. 
“Oh,” Jimin slapped his forehead. “I watched that movie like forty three times.”
“Of course you did,” Jeongguk plopped onto the sofa in pure exhaustion. 
The last few days have been a whirlwind especially when he saw the brokenness of Taehyung. Seeing someone he cares about faced with unreciprocated love (or so they thought) is one that is damaging to everyone involved. He contemplated on ways that he could be of support...except he reflected on his own past pain. This is what prompted him to be persistent in Taehyung’s efforts. Knowing how it felt, how it tears one person apart, he never wished that on any other human being. 
Perhaps this inner turmoil was noticeable because Jimin sat beside him with concern, “I know I’m usually clueless...but is everything okay?” 
Jeongguk looked to his friend with a faint smile, “I’m doing just fine. Kind of nervous for this audition.” 
“Why?” Jimin asked in slight shock. “You’re always acting out these elaborate scenes...convinced me that there is more to life than webtoons.” 
Jeongguk shrugged as if it was nothing, “I haven’t done this since senior year of college.” 
There’s a great deal of Jeongguk’s story that he hasn’t shared yet. To do so felt entirely too raw because the fear is that it was reality. No longer something he once endured but a present issue. It’s a silly thing to contemplate. He is fully aware of how inaccurate it is...and yet, here he is reluctantly allowing others inside. The only person that truly knows every single piece is Johnny. At least there is knowledge of it all by someone out in the world (far better than bottling it up). However, he does know that there is nothing wrong with allowing others in. He trusts every single person...maybe not Hoseok at the moment. Having only just met him, it will take time to fully accept his presence as MOH Y/N’s fiance. 
Everything moves forward only one step at a time. Slowly but surely. 
“But it’s all good,” Jeongguk switched back to his usual quirky self. “It’s time for me to go audition and make the director swoon.” 
“Make his knickers go in a twist,” Jimin winked before his expression suddenly changed. “What the hell are knickers? Snickers...but better?” 
“Yes,” Jeongguk nodded his head. “Definitely like snickers.” 
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The fact that it has been years since he has actually stepped onto a stage allowed the panic to settle in. Every step towards the doors made his chest tighten and mouth go dry. Why was he so petrified? It’s not like he didn’t know the script like the back of his hand. Having read this exact storyline for years, he already memorized sections of it at a younger age. Although it isn’t impossible to understand why his palms become sweaty - he was hurt. The one person he wished would support him through everything is the one who betrayed him for one thing. 
Things were not the same anymore. He is friends with many people who have no idea how to understand his Shakespearan speech, but they don’t question it in the slightest. They play along. They hype him up. 
For that reason he believes that all of this will turn out to be a success. He will go far and accomplish many things. This is the confidence he needs. 
Except it doesn’t last very long. The second he opens the door into the theatre he is met with a sea of unfamiliar faces, aside from two people. One of them he knew would be here, Johnny. The other? You. 
You were quick to face him, left with pure shock that surged through your being. 
“What the hell are you doing here?” 
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maxwell-grant · a month ago
I hope you don't mind me dropping asks on you every day? Anyways, a general question on modern-day attempts at using existing Pulp Heroes; do you think there is value in setting such tales in the modern day, rather than being period pieces? And if one does do so, do you think the best approach is to go full setting update, or to somehow translate the characters into the modern day, or to go the Legacy route?
I eagerly look forward to answering all kinds of questions, so don’t hesitate to send any my way!. Any feedback or excuse I get to go off on a subject is extremely appreciated. 
Okay so on to your question: 
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...Man, that really seems like the billion dollar question when it comes to the pulp heroes, isn’t it? The one at least that every conversation regarding adapting these characters, giving them reboots or new stories, seems to inevitably get stuck on: Should these characters be left as is, or modernized? Is there any point to trying to modernize them when often, at least in the public view, the only thing that separates them from being diet superheroes is their time period? Can these characters even survive as anything other than historical footnotes if they don’t move past the trappings of time holding them back? I’ve been very firmly on both sides of the question at different points and I think every answer inevitably brings up solutions and problems of it’s own. 
For the moment, I’m going to start by saying that it’s something of a case by case basis. For example, The Scarlet Pimpernel is a timeless archetype, but one who’s specific characterization and history is so tied up to it’s time period that it’s far better to just reimagine the Pimpernel into a different character set in a different time, than to try and remove the Blakeneys from their time period, likewise with characters who cross into historical fantasy like Conan or western characters, where they have such strongly defined settings and playgrounds that you’d be losing much by removing them from it. 
But on the other hand, you have characters like The Phantom, or The Avenger, who very clearly could exist at just about any point in time and don’t have any specific complications holding them to the 30s (in fact The Phantom was arguably designed for this, being he kickstarted the whole legacy superhero concept). A lot of the times, people seem to think or insist that certain pulp characters cannot be separated from their time periods, even when they were well on their way to doing so before some unfortunate cancellation. The Shadow, for example. Gibson had no problems updating the character’s adventures to the 60s for the Belmont series, and if The Shadow had maintained the kind of continuous publication that Batman and Superman had, I have no doubt whatsoever that nobody would even peg him as a character that belongs to the 30s and the 30s only, even if a lot of important aspects of his character are tied up in 30s America and The Great War and whatnot. 
To try and streamline this response into something more general, I’m going to state that, yes, I do think it’s a case by case basis where some characters don’t work as well outside their time periods, and others should have left them ages ago, but in general? I think most of the pulp heroes would stand to benefit much more from being set, not just in modern times, but outside of time. Or at least, outside of a specific time period being something that defines and entraps them. Pretty much none of these characters, outside of historical fantasy examples like Conan or characters whose genres are locked into specific past time periods like cowboys, were intended to be period pieces, and yet that’s what they became, because time has been extremely cruel to the pulp heroes in many ways. 
To bring up superheroes briefly, while I maintain that I think the real secret to making pulp heroes work and achieve success again is to distance them from superheroes, or at least the popular blockbuster superheroes, as much as possible, the superheroes have been around running the show for a while now and experimenting a lot as an inescapable facet of pop culture that's worked out monstrously well so far,nso clearly there’s a lot to learn there. The superheroes by and large belong in shared universes held tight by copyright where the weight of accumulating timelines inevitably forces them to either undergo reboots every couple of years, or endure constant quiet retcons snipping away at continuity so the cohesive “Superhero Universes” can function. But there’s no such thing as some big “Pulp Hero Universe” existing anywhere near the same capacity, there’s works gesturing to the idea like the Wold Newton Universe and LOEG and Dynamite’s shared author works largely scrapped together from separate sources all drifting apart, and most of these characters have largely fallen through the cracks of copyright law and into outright non-existence, or are halfway there. Very few modern instances of "cinematic universes" outside of the MCU work, so what we do instead is go the opposite route, closer to DC's "throw anything at the wall to see what sticks" approach.
What I’m getting to is, I could flip through the pages of Jess Nevins’s Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes, pick about 3 or 5 random characters, put them in a story regardless of whatever time period they used to be a part of, and make something out of it, without anyone stopping to question “Hey, hold up, why is Joel Saber not on Victorian England? Why are Uirassu and Tom Shark in a loving relationship when they don’t even belong in the same decade? Why did you turn Allan Crystal into a talking sparrow? You are betraying the source material, these characters don’t work outside of it”. Because nobody has any idea who those guys are, they might as well be just original names I made up (I didn't, btw), and nobody has any reason to care, they will only care if they read good, engaging stories with strong characterizations that give them a reason to be invested. And if achieving that requires ditching adherence to the source material (which doesn’t even exist anymore for at least a third of these characters), I cannot see that as a bad thing. 
He's nowhere near the ballpark of pulp heroes but I'm going to bring up King Arthur as an example because he’s been on my mind today. 
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All of these, and countless others, are King Arthur. I’m no expert in Arthuriana, but from what I’ve gathered, I’d make a pretty good guess that one of the main reasons why King Arthur has been able to endure so strongly, and have so many variations that we have an entire area of study dedicated just to untangling those messes we call Arthuriana, has less to do with his historical or mythological importance (you hardly see that many stories about Cú Chulainn), but because the lore and imagery and events surrounding King Arthur have so utterly transcended the source material that people still dispute what the source material even was, or if he was a real person, or if he was created by the Welsh and stolen by Brits, and etc, and because he's completely free for any writers and artists to mold and use to anything they see fit.
King Arthur is not so much a character as much as he’s a sandbox that literally anyone can play in and reshape as they see fit, with no shortage of existing events and characters and magical items that you can treat as either essential staples, or guidelines and suggestions at best. I have three separate ideas for King Arthur as a big shark man in a greaser outfit who yields an oversized hair comb with fishhooks attached as Excalibur, one where he’s a monstrous dragon who sleeps in the ruin of his former kingdom guarding the only remaining memory of Guinevere left, and one where he’s a disembodied consciousness inside a giant mechanical bear. I could pick any of these and make a story out of them, or insert these into a story, any time I want, and nobody could stop me.
Point is, I think a lot, even most, of the pulp heroes would benefit from having some kind of “no-holds-barred, just do anything you want out of whatever you find interesting about the original” approach, a lot more so than the superheroes already do, because if there’s a single group of characters nowadays that best embodies an “anything goes” approach, a group that is almost entirely in public domain nowadays save for it’s biggest icons and therefore is already available for people to take and spin any way they want, it’s the pulp heroes. These characters have been in stasis for so long, or all but faded into nothingbbut mere footnotes in encyclopedia or records in libraries not even available online, and sometimes not even that. Most of their fanbases have largely died off and they are nowhere near close to gaining new ones, and our changing media tastes call for contrasts as much as it calls for profit. No sensible person would invest in most of these properties as they stand now, which is precisely what ultimately gives them the freedom to be anything at the conceptual stage. The only thing that really, really holds them back is time, which, again, has really not been kind to them. So why adhere to it? Screw time and whatever power it’s long held over these characters, let’s get weird with it. 
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So if I have to choose between “full setting update, translating the characters to modern day, or the Legacy route”, all three of which are perfectly viable depending on the character, I think the best option, generally speaking, is full setting update, if only because the setting should never be the main priority in the first place. The setting, like everything else, is there to serve the story and the author’s needs and wants, and I’m of the opinion that the setting should always primarily exist in service of the characters, as my writing and my favorite writings are all character centered above all else.
I think putting the pulp heroes in radically different time periods and settings could even yield interesting results. Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal stars a caveman Conan/Tarzan type protagonist interacting with dinosaurs, Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta is a Shadow-esque character set loose in a dystopian future, Grendel is the Fantomas of 1980s New York, and so on. The precedent is there and I think it can be taken much further.
Really I think a lot of the problems and arguments that have arisen over the years in regards to adapting the pulp heroes often result of people overthinking things, lord knows I do enough of that all the time. I really think it’s just something that only seems impossible because it hasn’t really been done yet. Of course, in regards to The Shadow I obviously have a whole different text as to whether I’d want him to be adapted or not, but in general, my ultimate response to what you asked is just do whatever you think is gonna make the story better and the characters more interesting. A.K.A, do whatever you want. 
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(ACOTAR series, ACOSF, and Kingdom of Ash spoilers are all below along with my thoughts after finally finishing A Court of Silver Flames!)
Was SJM trying to get me to hate Rhysand in this book? And kind of Elain and Amren? Even a teensy bit Feyre? Don't get me wrong- I love Rhys. ACOTAR and ACOMAF Rhys is one of my favorite characters and my literal favorite book boyfriend EVER. So could someone please draw me a map to where the hell he went because that Rhys was NOT IN THIS BOOK?!?!?
Rhysand in ACOSF was every bit the territorial fae bastard in this book that Tamlin was in ACOMAF. He lied to Feyre about something HUGE. Nesta shouldn't have told her like that, but someone needed to tell her. And the way he treated Nesta sucked.
And Feyre was every bit the pretty bride who blushed and had lots of sex and had a male who shielded her from what was really going on (you know, her impending death?) that she accused Tamlin of wanting to make her into. What the fuck was happening with them in this book? It's great to make Feyre a High Lady, but then she should be treated like one, not lied to?!? It's fine to make her more domestic, she deserves peace and happiness, but not at the expense of her autonomy.
And while we're on it, I kind of hated Feyre's pregnancy storyline. The thing about writing immortal characters is that you have so many chances to play with time. There is no reason that 500+ year old Rhys and 21 year old Feyre who were together for like one year?!?!? needed to have a pregnancy story here. They are IMMORTAL. Why can't they have time together, just the two of them, before introducing a pregnancy? What's the rush? They are immortal High Fae who will be alive for CENTURIES to come. Forget years, give yourselves a few decades together first! Your whole relationship so far has been 50% trauma-recovery and 50% saving the world/trying not to die!!!!
Feyre's pregnancy felt like the author showing through and overshadowing the characterization—I have to think some of this is SJM becoming a mother in the last few years and wanting to write that into their story, but still. (SJM also did this with Yrene and Chaol in Kingdom of Ash - is the eve of a huge war really a great time for a pregnancy? Wouldn't a healer know how to not get pregnant accidentally?) I also didn't love that a Feysand pregnancy was this huge part of Nesta's story. Can she not have five minutes of the spotlight? Feyre already got 3 books. (Sorta kidding.) (You know what I'm not kidding about? Not liking the name Nyx at all...but who cares I guess.)
If it's so well-known that Illyrian baby delivery is basically a death sentence for High Fae females, why would Rhys not be like 'omg Feyre, yes, let's have a baby, but let's not have sex while you're in that form which is optional for you like is he this 'the most cunning high lord' or not?!) (Also they wouldn't even have Feyre try shifting her body to give her Illyrian hips when otherwise she would FOR SURE DIE like try it?!) All that magic and no one's invented the cesarean?!?
(On a separate pregnancy note, y'all realize the Kingdom of Ash scene where Aelin falls through the worlds and sees a 'heavily pregnant' fae whose mate throws his night-like power towards her to slow her fall have happened during the timeline of this book, right?!? Wild.)
I love Nesta. I love her. I love her arc. I've loved her this whole time, but her coming to terms with herself was great. Her finding peace was great. I was already in the she doesn't need a redemption arc, she needs a therapist and time to herself away from her sisters camp before reading ACOSF, and I only feel more strongly after reading it.
I honestly think time away from her sisters and Rhys with people who weren't constantly judging her (Cassian, Azriel, Gwen, Emerie, Clotho, the House) was just as healthy and necessary for Nesta's healing arc (NOT a redemption arc, a healing arc) as giving up some of her more harmful vices like nonstop drinking and complete isolation was.
So much sex. Like as one of my friends put it, 'this book is filthy, y'all!' It was kind of overkill, like I was already sold on their relationship, but sure, why not. But if nearly all those scenes cut away instead of getting super descriptive, I would have liked this book just as much. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The part with the Mask and the kelpie was so good! It was crazy, and creepy, and her rising up with this army of the dead was so great. Also when they went to the prison for the Harp!!! So good.
A couple weird 'repeats' from ACOMAF... 1) Nesta 'knowing' that Cassian 'needed to hear' her say the exact phrase "You're mine" which is right out of the mating bond acceptance chapter from ACOMAF stuck out to me, especially combined with hearing that Nesta had never told another person she loved them as we found out in the scene where she saved Feyre at the end. I was expecting 'I love you,' especially with them starting out in a 'just sex' relationship. 2) That 'just sex' thing and how obviously Cassian was into her and she was into him but she says she wants 'just sex' also reminded me ACOMAF, when Rhys and Feyre are at the inn and she disappoints him/lies to herself let's be real by telling him she wants just "fun."
Loved getting more of the Night Court palace on top of the Hewn City mountain. Dream house. That bathtub. Swoon.
I may really be in the minority here, but I did not like that Cassian and Nesta are mates. Tamlin tells Feyre in ACOTAR that it's rare for people to have mates at all. And honestly, I see why accepting the mating bond was so hard for Nesta as someone who didn't want to be fae in the first place, and I do not think she needed Cassian to be her mate to choose him forever. I wish they had CHOSEN each other and not also been mates. I think it would have been just as strong, and healthier for Nesta. (And also...if not everyone is mates, why can't they just fall in love? He won her heart, she chose him. I was fine before they were mates. I also think that would have nicely set up Elain rejecting the mating bond later, which she clearly wants to do/has basically done (did y'all read the Azriel extra chapter?! Anyway)
At the end of the day, the Inner Circle (except Cassian/Azriel) bothered me with their treatment of Nesta, even the intervention at the beginning. Was Nesta in need of help? Yes. Were they kind? No, especially not Rhys/Amren. Elain was just as traumatized/self-destructive for a while. She hardly ate, she spoke to no one, she lay in bed all day, Nesta checks that the high windows don't open because she thinks Elain is suicidal, etc. Nesta is also traumatized, but her trauma presented more angrily, less beautiful/sad woman lies around being beautifully sad (like Elain in ACOWAR or Feyre in ACOMAF), and she's entirely condemned by the IC for it (and by a lot of this fandom, let's be real).
I love Cassian. Love him. Looooove him. He stood up to Rhys for Nesta, defended her, was honest with her, accepted her, forgave her for what she actually did wrong (belittling him for his background/hurting him on purpose), but told her she herself was not wrong or broken (@ Rhys, @ Amren, @ Feyre, @ Mor, are y'all taking notes? Cassian and I said she was not broken. Not in need of fixing or redemption.) He kept reaching out his hand.
Plot wise, I also loved that Nesta/Gwen/Emerie ended up doing the Rite! That twist surprised me in a good way. Devlon and any other Illyrians who doubted them can suck it. VALKYRIES!!!
And finally, I LOVED the Nesta/Gwen/Emerie friendship. It made the book (it Made it, y'all. Pun intended). I loved reading about Nessian and I love Cassian, but these three and their friendship was my favorite part of the book, hands down. So great. I love female friendship - it's so underrated as a concept - and this one was amazing, and I'm glad it was such a focus of the story.
This was long, so thanks for sticking with me if you did! Not really interested in angry/anon discourse, but I'd love to hear y'all's thoughts!!!
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