#blew my mind as a kid to see a mermaid looking like THAT
thinking about how Harvest Moon: Innocent Life has the dopest mermaid design ever
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Bonded to you Pt.14
Daryl Dixon x Reader
Words: 3263 on Mondays
Summary: Daryl and reader had a something while they both stayed at the Sanctuary after the Saviours were defeated, a secret sort of relationship, that reader wanted to make something more. However, after Rick blows the bridge, Daryl leaves her without a word, unaware of her being pregnant with his child and it’s not after almost two years that Daryl finds out he has a child…and his anger at reader for not having told him before, rivals with reader’s anger at having being tossed aside as nothing by him those to years ago…will they be able to put aside their hurt feelings and resenment, for their kid? Will maybe be able to pick up their relationship again?
Dad Daryl, cute fluffy baby-toddler moments, angsty/awkward reader relationship.
You can find more chapters and Daryl fics in my masterlist.
Last chapter, reader got stomach sick and so Daryl went to their place to help around and keep an eye on their kid.
You hadn’t been in the bed for long when Daryl walked in to give you a big bottle of water, telling you again to drink and rest before he went back to Naia. You took just a sip of water, but it made your stomach do funny things anyway, you knew you needed to take it slow. You thought you were going to get bored soon, and you thought about calling for Daryl to bring you a book, though you didn’t want to bother him, but you were weak and tired, and before you knew it, you had fallen asleep.
You woke up when the sun was starting to go down at the feeling of a hand on your forehead. “I don’t have a fever,” you muttered sleepily, opening your eyes and finding Daryl there.
“I’m not sure, but I think not,” he said, and you felt his hand moving from your forehead, but then his fingers were softly pushing your hair away from it, making you feel all sort of fluffy unwelcome things again, before Daryl pulled slightly away. “I made you some dinner.”
“Thanks, but I’m not sure I’m good enough to eat yet…” You sat up and looked at the bowl of stew on your nightstand table. “But that smells so good…” You decided to give it a try, but after a couple of spoonfuls your stomach did something weird and you stopped. “Can’t eat more, sorry.”
“It’s okay, Siddiq says you’ll be better tomorrow,” Daryl said, taking the bowl.
“I’ll be,” you reassured him.
“I’m gonna bring Naia to say goodnight, okay?”
“Alright, but not close…” The last thing you wanted was to get her sick too…though now that you thought about it, neither you wanted Daryl to get sick either. “And you should be further away too.”
Daryl didn’t say anything, just walked out of the room. When he came back, he had Naia in his arms. “Hey sweetheart, I don’t want you to be sick like me, so I need you to sleep in your bed, but dad will sleep by you this night, okay? If you’re close to me, maybe you’ll be sick too.” You tried to explain, hoping she’d understand it, and Naia looked at you and then at Daryl.
“It’s just a tummy ache, and I’ll be better tomorrow, okay?” You tried to reassure her.
“’morrow,” Naia repeated, nodding, and you did hope you’d feel better tomorrow so as not to disappoint her. “Mer,” she said, reaching out her mermaid doll, called like that, towards you. Daryl walked towards the bed, a little closer than you’d have liked, so Naia could give you the doll. “Sleep.”
“Thanks, honey, thank you,” you said, swallowing hard as you tried not to tear up, you didn’t know why you felt so emotional and so you felt a bit silly. “Goodnight.” You blew Naia a kiss and she did the same.
“Sweetheart, wait here, give me a minute and I’ll read the whole book to you, alright?” You heard Daryl’s voice coming from the other room, and then he walked back to yours, and you rubbed your eyes since a couple of tears had escaped them. “You okay?” He asked you, looking at you with concern and walking to the bed.
“Yeah, yeah, just…no, don’t get that close!” You tried to stop him, just in case. “It’s just…” You shrugged, not knowing how to put it into words, and you looked at the mermaid doll. Daryl seemed to get it, and he nodded. “She’s so sweet.”
“But…sometimes I look at her, or at Gracie, and, I told you already, I can’t help but wonder, what if they’re too sweet for this world?” You shrugged, holding the doll to you as you felt vulnerable, trying to blink away your tears.
“No, they ain’t, they’re perfect,” Daryl said, sounding so sure. “Yeah, in this world, you gotta be tough, you gotta be able to take care of yourself and your people, and they’ll be, they’ll learn,” he assured you. “But that doesn’t mean you gotta have no heart or not be kind, ain’t like that. Took me long enough to see that, took me the end of the world. Naia and Gracie, they got it in them already, and that ain’t nothing bad, so stop crying, come on.”
Daryl gave you a soft, half-smile, and he reached out to wipe your tears ever so gently, and you couldn’t help how your heart fluttered at that, as if longing for…for something else, something you tried not to long for. Still, you were truly grateful for Daryl’s gesture and for his words, and you gave him a smile.
“Can’t imagine you not being kind, you could fight Aaron to see who wins in a contest…” you half-joked and Daryl scoffed, seeming shy.
“You didn’t know me before. Carol did, ask her, I’m sure she’d love to tell you stuff about when we first met.”
“I’m looking forwards to that,” you chuckled weakly. “But thank you, Daryl, really, I mean it, thank you.”
“Ain’t nothing.” Daryl shrugged.
“I don’t even know why I’m crying.” You chuckled, embarrassed. “Just…guess I’m not feeling good, and I’m not sure Naia understands why mom is keeping her at distance and it’s not kissing her and holding her, but she knows I’m sick and I don’t want her to worry…and then she gave me her doll to stay with me, and I just…” You shrugged, unsure of how to explain it all.
Daryl gave you a soft, small smile, and he reached out to squeeze your hand briefly, making your heart do funny things again. “It’s gonna be fine, now rest. I gotta go back to Naia.”
You curled up, holding the doll to you, and with your eyes closed, you listened to Daryl reading to Naia for a long, long while, while those feelings you had for him sometimes just seemed to grow, while Michonne’s words echoed in your head, and Daryl’s voice didn’t seem able to muffle them, you still could feel the soft touch of his fingers on your cheeks... After a moment of silence, you heard Daryl’s footsteps walking to your room, and you sat up.
“Did she fall asleep?” You asked.
“Yeah, thought she wouldn’t, but she did.” Daryl nodded. “And you should too.” You just shrugged, you hadn’t been able to shut your mind and fall asleep, not even listening to Daryl reading. He took a chair that you had in your room and placed it next to the bed.
“Are you feeling worse?” Daryl frowned as he looked at you and you shook your head.
“No…I drank water before and my stomach didn’t do anything, but I won’t dare with the stew yet.”
“Just, too much in my head I guess.” You shrugged, but you felt Daryl’s eyes on you, and for some reason it made you keep talking even though you hadn’t planned on. “It’s just something Michonne said to me when we were in Oceanside.”
Your words seemed to just make Daryl frown more. “You told me you didn’t argue.”
“We didn’t! It’s not that, it’s just…” You let out a sigh. “She kind of said…well, to not waste your time…to not take anything for granted, to not take people for granted because…well, in this world you never know when it’s going to be their last time, or yours…”
“Y/N, come on, you ain’t dying or nothing,” Daryl told you, seeming still worried but also confused.
“I know, but Michonne’s right, what if I die? I mean, not now, but someday…What if you do? What if Naia does?” You were anxious just thinking that. “I don’t think I could handle it, Daryl.”
“What was Michonne thinking telling you all that?” Daryl shook his head, but you didn’t want to explain it. “Y/N…can’t lie to you, you know how this world is. But I ain’t letting anything happen to Naia, okay, I promise, never.” You knew Daryl couldn’t make such a promise and yet you found yourself believing his words. “And I told you, I’ll do all I can to not die, and all I can so you won’t either.” It was reassuring, even if you knew such promises couldn’t be kept, it seemed your whole being wanted to believe it, and your heart did its flutter again. “And sure, you ain’t gonna die of a…how did you say it…a tummy ache.”
You knew Daryl was trying to make you smile, and it worked. You snorted and reached out to slap his leg softly. “Silly,” you chuckled, and Daryl smiled at you. “I know I’m not dying, I haven’t even thrown up again, but just…guess it got me thinking.”
“Michonne wouldn’t have told you all that if she knew how dramatic you always were, I should have told her.” Daryl half-joked and you snorted again.
“I’m gonna slap you again,” You reached out but not to slap his leg, instead you squeezed his hand. “Thank you Daryl, you really make me feel better.”
Daryl gave you half a smile. “Come on, less thinking and more sleeping,” he said and you chuckled again.
“You know something…weird that I think sometimes? No, no, forget it, you’ll think I’m too weird and crazy.” You snorted.
“Come on, you can not tell me now.”
“Okay, so, imagine…what if you’re sleeping next to someone and they die? Like, not even because they’re ill, like, just out of the blue, like a heart attack or something, silent…then they’d turn into a walker, and they’d eat you.”
Daryl blinked at you, frown on his face. “That ain’t why you make me keep Naia away from you, right? Tell me it ain’t.” He shook his head, letting out a sigh. “Told you you’re gonna be fine.”
“I know! It’s not that!” You assured him. “Just something I’ve thought about for years, I can’t help it!”
“Were you always this weird? I don’t remember it,” Daryl joked and you slapped his leg softly again. “Damn, now you got it into my head too.”
You couldn’t help your laugh. “I’m sorry! What can I say, my mind is a magical place.”
Daryl snorted. “Sure it is.”
“When I was pregnant I used to wonder what if the baby died and turned and devoured me from the inside.”
“Woman, you’re something else.”
“I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought it! Ask Michonne!”
“I’m not, don’t need her putting weird stuff in my head too,” Daryl scoffed with half a smile and you laughed. “Now stop with the weird shit and sleep.”
“Okay, okay…” You shifted to lie down on the bed again, looking at Daryl with a fond smile. “Thank you for everything, Daryl…for making me laugh.”
“Ain’t nothing…” Daryl shrugged with a shy smile, looking away from you as he got up from the chair, but before he walked away, he leaned and placed a quick, ever so soft kiss on your forehead, and you barely could stop your shocked gasp, your heart going crazy. “Get some rest,” he muttered as he left the room.
You weren’t sure you could sleep, though, not with all that confusing stuff you were feeling, not after laughing with Daryl like that, not after feeling his touch, his kiss, making you think of stuff you shouldn’t, making you feel stuff you shouldn’t, but you couldn’t help it…
On the next morning, Siddiq came to check on you, saying that you were doing good but to still take it easy. Naia still didn’t like to have to be kept away from you, but Daryl managed to have her content enough. He came to check on you, bringing with him a cup of something steamy.
“Siddiq said you gotta drink this for your stomach,” he said, passing the mug to you.
“Have you smelt it? I don’t want to drink it…” You complained.
“You can either drink it yourself, or I can pinch your nose and make you drink,” Daryl said and you snorted.
“You’re the harsher nurse ever,” you complained, chuckling, before sipping the tea down. “Okay, could have been worse…”
Later that morning, Daryl took Naia to your room, though not close, as you wanted, sitting on a chair with her on her lap, and Naia babbled to you what she had been doing and then you told her about the book you were reading, before they went to have lunch. You were truly grateful they spent time with you, making you feel less lonely and bored.
After lunch, Daryl got Naia to bed for a nap, and once she fell asleep, he came to see you again, placing the chair closer to the bed than before. “How are you feeling?”
“Better I think,” you replied in all honestly.
“Wanna try to eat something?”
“Not yet I think.” You didn’t want to risk it, even if you felt weak at the lack of food, but you thought Siddiq’s tea was helping.
“I’m bored all day in bed though…” You complained.
“I can imagine.”
“Will you tell me something?”
“I don’t know, something…you’ve done so much stuff…”
“Yeah, most of it not good…” Daryl muttered.
“Sorry…” You said softly.
“Nah, ain’t your fault…” Daryl stayed silent for a moment, seeming thoughtful. “Okay, you remember I told you that Rick left my brother chained in a rooftop in Atlanta?”
“Yeah, and you came back for him.”
“Hmm hmm…” Daryl nodded. “So, we bumped into this guy, he had a group, they kidnapped Glenn, they seemed like, this dangerous gang, told us they were gonna feed Glenn to their dogs if we didn’t give them the bag of guns.”
“And what did you do?”
“Turned out they were no gang but nurses and janitors of a nursing home, got a bunch of old people with them, taking care of them.”
“Oh wow…” You had seen stuff but you were moved anyway.
“And Glenn, those dogs that were going to bite him to pieces? Those were lap dogs and were playing with him.”
“Oh, that sounds cute!” You laughed.
“Ain’t that what I thought at that moment…” Daryl chuckled.
“Daryl…” You bit your lip. “I really wish Glenn were here and your brother, and Rick too.”
“Yeah, yeah me too.” Daryl gave you a small, sad smile, and you found yourself reaching out to squeeze his hand.
You both had been speaking, just stories about the past, for about half an hour, before you heard Naia’s voice coming from her room. “Mommy?” You went to sit up out of instinct but Daryl got up.
“I’ll get her.”
You nodded, you still weren’t sure if you’d pass her the sickness or not, you should have asked Siddiq, but you didn’t want to risk it, and you still felt quite weak.
Daryl walked back into your room carrying Naia, who grinned at you. “Mommy!”
“Hi, darling.” You blew her a kiss. “What if you and dad go to the park?”
“What you think uh? Wanna go to the park?” Daryl asked while smiling at Naia in that way that gave you all the feelings that you were trying not to acknowledge.
Naia, though, seemed thoughtful. “Mommy?”
“I can’t go yet darling,” you explained. “But go with dad and Dog, and then come back and tell me all the fun you had.”
“Mommy is sick.” Naia looked at Daryl. “Mommy alone.”
Daryl looked from Naia to you, frowning. “I don’t know, Y/N, she’s right, we’d leave you alone here.”
“Come on, you two.” You rolled your eyes, you should have guessed they’d team up as soon as Naia’d start putting words together. “I’m good enough, I’ll be fine! You both can’t stay stuck inside the house all day because of me, Dog can’t either! Go to the park!”
“Alright…” Daryl nodded, though he still was frowning. “Mommy thinks she’ll be okay, right? Let’s go see our friends and then come back and tell mom?” He told Naia, who still seemed unconvinced, but finally Daryl had her nodding. “You got the book? Water? Siddiq’s tea?” He asked you and you nodded. “Sure you don’t need anything?”
“Yes, Daryl, I’m sure.”
“Daryl! Don’t backtrack now!” You huffed. “Come on you two, go out for a bit!” You threw him a pillow, making Naia giggle, and Daryl huffed but he smirked.
“Alright, alright! Come on, Dog!”
“Hey! If you see Siddiq ask him if I still can pass you all the bug or whatever!”
They came back way earlier than any other day, and you knew that Daryl didn’t want to leave you alone for too long. While they were away, you had gotten up to go to the bathroom and had realized that you were weaker than you had thought, having to lean on the walls and feeling dizzy. You didn’t say anything to Daryl, though, knowing he’d scold you at getting up while alone.
“Did you see Siddiq?” You asked Daryl.
“Yeah, said he thinks that unless you’re worse, by now you might be almost done with whatever caused this and thinks maybe you’re not contagious.”
“Might, maybe, those aren’t good enough for me.” You shook your head, you weren’t risking it. “I’ll wait until tomorrow…unless…” You chewed on your lip, something coming to your mind. “Unless you have something to do, I mean, I’m sure you have, you’ve been here for almost two days, you haven’t even gone hunting.”
“I don’t, I’m staying this night too, we’re good on food,” Daryl said. “And don’t start arguing.”
“I won’t, it’s honestly a relief…” You admitted, fidgeting, and Daryl gave you a small, half-smile. “But I feel kind of guilty, I know I’m sick so it’s an excuse not to be working, but I’m making you not work too…”
Daryl scoffed. “Ain’t not a problem, you shouldn’t be alone while sick and I have to look after Naia, people understand, and if they don’t I don’t give a shit. I’ll stay as long as you need it.”
You smiled, biting your lip as you felt your heart fluttering in that unwelcomed way again. “Thank you, Daryl…I’m sure if it were up to Naia you’d stay here forever,” you said but when you heard your words, you worried at how it might sound, how might Daryl interpret it. “I mean…I mean, she loves to spend her time with you, and she has you all for herself now,” you joked awkwardly. “I bet she won’t want to go back to sleep by me.”
Daryl smiled softly at that. “Nah, she’s all the time asking for you.”
“Is she?” You had known that she probably was, and still, you couldn’t help your silly smile at Daryl’s words.
“Yeah.” He nodded. “And I…well, I don’t like you being sick, but…”
“But? You better don’t like me being sick!” You snorted.
“I don’t, I don’t!” Daryl raised his hands, chuckling. “But I’ve liked it, being here with Naia all this time.” He shrugged, looking down and seeming shy, and you felt overwhelmed by feelings again, bad and good both, but most of them unwelcomed.
“She likes to be with you too…” You said without looking at him. “And you know what I said, she doesn’t have to stay every day and night with me, we can make a schedule or something…”
“Ain’t the same…” Daryl muttered. “Don’t think she’d like that…anyway, I’m going to bring her in, she’s playing with Dog but she wants to see you, I won’t let her get too close.”
I really loved writing this chapter, so I hope you enjoyed reading it. Also, believe it or not, I wrote this so long ago, that it was before all this coronavirus pandemic situation and all our social distancing things, in case these feels to you as if reader is not staying away enough from Daryl, this was before we even considered that. So yeah.
Thank you for reading, if you liked it and have time, please let me know your thoughts in a comment.
And as always, excuse my reading.
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#970 The Horse Totemon
Equispear is the legendary totemon of quintessential spirit. It shines like a golden sun and emits powerful light.
This is the first blog post on a legendary totemon. These are very special kind of Totemon. They are the rarest ones. They also have a strong association with the deities of Lonlarrian. There are two major legendary totemon. One is Equispear. It is a horse totemon. The other is Dracoram. It is a dragon. People have a tendency to have a favorite animal. However I have a difficult picking a favorite. It is so difficult because there are so many good ones. In a specific case, the dragon is my favorite animal in folklore. It is so cool. I like to have a pair of animalsas the most important legendary totemon. I originally had a griffon to be a partner. Later I became a brony, which is a fan of My Little Pony. I became very fond of horses. It was a bit of a phase. I replaced the griffon with a horse. A griffon still gets to be legendary. It just doesn’t get to be in the main pair. I pick the dragon and horse as the two main legendary totemon. It is not because they are my favorite animals, because that is too difficult to determine. Instead this is because they are the two most prominent animals in fantasy. So it is fitting to give them a lot of prominence in a fantasy story.
I got the idea of legendary from Pokemon. There are legendary Pokemon. The most prominent ones do come in pairs of opposites. They are in the box art for the games. I have mixed feelings for the legendary Pokemon. It is a case of a good idea with a bad execution. The idea of legendary monsters is amazing. It can get into really interesting lore that can breath new life into the Pokemon story. The downside is that the character designs are terrible. They are excessively elaborate. They end up looking messy and ugly. The only generations with good looking legendary Pokemon are the first two. They are the two with the best Pokemon designs overall. The non-legendary Pokemon of gen 6 are good too. I think the reason why the first two generations have better looking designs is the technology. Back then, the Nintento games didn’t have good graphics. So the game makers were forced to make simple designs so it reads better. The aesthetic is better for it. My favorite legendary pokemon is Lugia from the second generation. It is in a nice sweet spot. On one hand, Lugia does look very impressive and cool as a legendary. It has some interesting lore about being associated with the sea and with islands. It is a nice mix od bird and dragon. On the other hand, Lugia is also the simplest designed legendary Pokemon to ever grace a box cover. It is pretty without being overly designed. There is a nice balance between being impressive and simple. The old Pokemon movie about Lugia is really good. It also has the trio of Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres. That movie blew my mind as a kid. When I do my own creatures, I would like to have my take of legendary creatures. I have interesting lore of having each creature being tied to a deity. I even have a pair of opposite deities as the leaders of the pantheon. So I can have a similar pair of totemon that are tied to them. It is like the main pairs in legendary Pokemon. However I avoid the overdesigning of the creatures. I could draw a super complex design if I really wanted to. My art tools can keep up with it. However I don’t go there because I know the results are bad. So I deliberatly put limits on how complex the designs are. I put a limit on all my totemon designs. It is just that I need to be extra careful with the legendary ones. They are at risk of going overboard.
I have equespear as the horse. In my mysticism there is a major polarity of two sides. There is rational and intuitive. I have Luspear be the character be associated with the rational side. She has the ability to shoot light and to turn into a horse. In the story, she changes from a mortal woman into a goddess. Soram is the one associated with intuitive. He has powers of dark and dragon. The horse is one of the most prominent animals in fantasy. One of the most famous animals in folklore is the unicorn. It and the dragon are perhaps the two most famous creatures of folklore. The unicorn is essentially a kind of fantasy horse. The pegasus is another famous fantasy horse. Regular horses are very prominent too. Fantasy is low tech, and it often resembles Medieval Europe. People don’t have cars, so they use horses for transportation instead. The horse fits the rational side. Rational is more based on what is realistic and material. The horse is mainly based on an animal that exists in real life. It is closer than a dragon. This is a much easier creature to fit on the tree of life. I just look up where real horses go, and just do that for horse totemon. They go in the hoofed mammals right with the zebras and donkeys. Luspear is the hero of the story. So she gets things that are associated with heroes. She uses light powers. She often wears white to reflect that. So the horse is a good animal for her. Luspear does get a dragon, and becomes attached to him. However that is Soram, who is another individual entirely. That is not the same thing. If Luspear were to shapeshift or summon an animal, it would be a horse. The horse is usually equespear. Sometimes I have epony instead. Horses have a very positive reputation. They are associated with freedom and nobility. They are one of the most popular animals period. They are about as popular as dogs and cats. Horses have been useful for transportation and other labor for centuries. Nowadays, they are not used as much. There are cars and other machines to do the work. However horses are still kept as pets. Riding them becomes more of a leisure activity and less of an essential undertaking. It also helps that horses are not very threatening to begin with. They are herbivores, so they will never hunt on their own. They are also highly specialized in running away as a way of self defense. The most unique trait is the hoof. Horses and thier closest relatives are the only animals to have their feet reduced to a single toe in the development in a hoof. This extreme case of toe reduction makes the foot lighter and easier to move. So it is good for the sole purpose of running from predators. A horse could fight back and cause serious injury by kicking its hooves. However it seems likely that it would sooner run away from trouble. Having a less threatening animal does help it be more popular and well liked. The character of Luspear has basis in the concept of a knight. So a horse fits well. A knight is often depicted riding a white horse. It is the noble steed. So I have my own spin of making that horse into the totemon for Luspear.
Equespear has a special role in the legendary totemon. It is one that transcends beyond the four elements. It is quintessential. I came up with four kinds of horses to represent the four elements. Then I put them together. The draft horse represents earth. It is a horse that is super strong. It has a bulky build. It also has long hair at the feet, called feathering. The strength in hard labor is like the strength and hardness of earth. The draft horse is the only one of the four that exist in real life. This fits the earth’s association with the physical and the material. The unicorn represents fire. It is a horse with one spiral horn on its head. Unicorns can use their horns to perform magic. Magic is energetic like a fire. The hippocampus represents water. It is part horse and part fish. It also swims in the water. So it fits the water element very well. Hippocampus is traditionally half and half. It is kind of like the horse version of a mermaid. I like to change it so there is more horse. It is a horse with fish fins at the end of its tail. So it can swim without loosing the ability to walk and run on land. The pegasus represents air. It is a horse with bird wings on its back. The pegasus can fly in the air. So it fits the air element very well. Once I have the four kinds of horses, I like to mix them. The unicorn and pegasus are the famous ones. So in rare cases I see ones that are mixed. A horse would have both a spiral horn and a pair of bird wings. These hybrids are called pegacorn or an alicorn. My Little Pony is the only place I have seen that pays any attention to such creatures. The show uses the word alicorn. Alicorn ponies are rare. They have a special place of being the princesses of the world. It isn’t explicitly stated, but they seem divine to me. They are very powerful in magic, and they can live for a very long time. Alicorns are a mix of the three kinds of ponies. There are earth ponies, unicorn ponies and pegasus ponies. Unicorn ponies and pegasus ponies are self explanatory. The former is where I get the idea of unicorns having magical powers. They use their horns as a magic wand. Earth ponies are those without horns or wings. They are strongest physically. They are connected with the earth and nature. Draft horses are like that, except they have a more elaborate appearance. So I put them together, and make them one of the four horses. There are rare cases of earth ponies resembling draft horses. In the show, there is Big Macintosh and Trouble Shoes. In the brony fandom, there is Mad Munchkin. I like to put the draft horse elaborations on the alicorn design. I give a bulky build and feathering on the feet. I prefer to have things in four. So I add in hippocampus as the fourth kind of horse. I even had the idea for hippocampus ponies. Coincidently later on the My Little Pony movie came out, and it did have that kind of ponies. That was my favorite part of the movie. They have lived in hiding all this time in order to elude the big bad of the story. I put the fins of the hippocampus onto the character design. Then I end up with the ultimate kind of horse. It is a mix of all four kinds. It is like an alicorn, but pushed ever further. Since alicorns have such a special role in My Little Pony, they are very fitting for a legendary creature. Luspear is even a princess, who becomes a goddess. So she has a similar role. That makes the special horse form fit her even better.
There is a distinction of being on the light side. The horse transcends the four elements. Yet it in on one side of the light and dark polarity. The light has associations of sun and fire. The horse has some affinity with the fire element, but it isn’t limited to that. The color scheme is like the light side. The main color is white. This is the color of quintessential light. White is a very popular color of horses. The heroic knights and cowboys alike tend to ride white horses. Unicorns and pegasi are usually white. Even My Little Pony has a lot of white ponies. It fits well in the pastel color scheme. The major ones are Rarity, Princess Celestia, Sweetie Bell and Shining Armor. There is a risk of it going overboard. I find other colors of horses to be a bit underrated, especially black horses. I did not initially set out to have a white horse. It is just that white and horse both tie back to the rational side of the polarity. There are also gold and red. The gold is more of a yellow color. It is the color of sun. It goes well with white, because both are so light and bright. I have gold be the fancy parts. It is in the draft horse feathering, the unicorn horn, the hippocampus fins and the pegasus wings. Red is the color of fire. I have that color in the long hair of the mane and tail. There are gray and black as more minor colors. It shows some potential for balance despite being on one side. There are bits of gray at the fancy parts. It is in the hooves by the feathering. It is on the face by the horn. It is on the tip of the tail by the fin. It is on the wings. The wings have a white base to help it fit better with the rest of the body. Then further out from the base there is a strip of gray. Then the furthest out is large gold flight feathers. The eye color is gray too. I chose this to match the eye color of Luspear. There are two places with a little bit of black. One is black bands at the middle of the legs. They are between the feathering and the upper leg. There is also a black circle on the face. It is inside a grey area on the top of the muzzle. The black circle on what is mostly a white animal is a nice touch. I am inspired by the concept of yin and yang of taoism. The rational side is inspired by yang. In a taijitu symbol, the yang is a curvy white shape with a black dot. So I put this in part of the design of the horse. It shows that what is rational has a little bit of the intuitive hidden within.
I am pleased with the design of equespear. It is nice. It is in a tricky balance. It can be fancy legendary totemon. However I don’t go overboard and overdesign it. One thing I like is how natural the design looks. I like nature, and I get a lot of ideas from it. When I research animals, I get familiar with colors and patterns. So I have a good idea of what looks natural and what doesn’t. I would rather not go into more artificial designs. Like a lot of people, I am not a fan of Trubbish and Vanilite lines in Pokemon. They are way too artificial, since they are based on inanimate objects instead of animals or plants. I am not even a fan of the cutie marks of My Little Pony. They look a bit too tacky for my taste. The concept of showing special talents is interesting though. So I have both equespear and epony be “blank flanks”. I did do research on the natural markings of the horse. That helped me come up with ideas. Horses often have long hair in the mane and tail be a different color than the rest of the body. It can be lighter or darker. Some horses have white markings on the legs. Some have white markings on the face. In either case the rest of the body would be a darker color. I changed it so the colors are inverted. The main horse color is white, while the markings are darker. There are even some horses with black markings on the legs. This does occor in the wild kind of horse, the przevalski horse. I think I can extend natural color patterns outside horses. It is common for the horn be a different color than the rest of the body. There are fish that have fins a different color from the rest of the body. There are even white birds with dark wings. This kind of thing is nice. I have equispear be the size of the largest horse breed, the shire. It is fully evolved, so it fits the size of a large horse. The shire is a breed of draft horse. So the size fits the impressive bulk of equespear. I have a certain naming. Equespear has a naming. The first part comes from Equus, which is Latin for horse. It is also used as the genus for horses, donkeys and zebras. Spear is the ending for both Equispear and Luspear. I got this from Romance languages. It means spirit. Even the English word spirit is similar. Spirit shows the quintessential nature and it goes towards the rational end. Equespear is the legendary spirit horse of Luspear. That is cool.
Horse Wikipedia Article
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Stray Kids AU: 9th member
Tori x Stray Kids
The boys start to pick up on something during a vlive.
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“Tori, can you dance to Blueming?” Seungmin read the comments.
Tori wrinkled her nose at the camera. “Wouldn’t you rather see me dance to something else?”
Minho watched as the comments rolled in. “Are you afraid to show them? Have you already forgotten the choreography?”
Tori shook her head with a laugh. “Not a chance. But Stay just watched me promote for two weeks, I’m sure they’d like to see me do something else.”
“If you won’t show them Blueming, then I guess we’ll have to.” Seungmin pushed himself up off the floor.
“Yah, don’t embarrass me.” Tori laughed.
“I won’t.” Minho gave the camera a thumbs up. “I taught her everything she knows.”
“That’s not true.” Tori whispered as she pulled up the song on her phone.
She rarely did solo vlives, preferring to feature in someone else’s or just wait for group ones. But having just finished her solo promotions she’d figured that it would be nice to do a solo vlive and thank the fans for being so wonderful during her first ever solo.
Of course, then Seungmin and Minho had decided to join in on her ‘solo’ vlive.
“I hope everyone is ready for this.” Tori laughed as she hit play on her song.
“The dance is a lot harder than it looks.” Tori said, looking at the camera and readings the comments as the boys freestyled behind her. “It took me along time to learn it, but I wanted to make sure that Stay would enjoy my performance.”
“Stop talking, here we go!” Seungmin shouted.
Tori scooted over so that the camera had a good view of whatever the boys were planning.
Which was apparently an overexaggerated rendition of her song. Minho looked close to throwing out a hip, and Seungmin looked like he was putting everything into it, but was probably going to roll an ankle.
“Yah, Lee Know!” Tori shouted. “You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“I’m a flower blooming!” He protested, before beginning to sing. “I feel Blooooom, Bloooom!”
Seungmin made a noise that sounded somewhere between a whistle and a squeak. “I gotta know, Tor – how did you do this in those dresses.”
“Everything is easier in a pretty dress.” Tori explained. “Look, I still have my nails done.” She showed the camera the delicately done blue roses. “I need to pick a new design. Do you think I should get a mermaid design or clouds?”
She was asking the camera, but the boys didn’t hesitate to give their input as well.
“I vote mermaid.” Seungmin said.
“I vote clouds.” Minho answered.
“I wasn’t asking you guys.” Tori leaned forward to read the comments. “You guys all have different opinions. How about I post on Instagram tomorrow, and everyone can vote there, okay?”
“Vote clouds!” Seungmin shouted.
“Be quiet, weirdo.” Tori gave him a shove. “Thank you all so much for hanging out with us tonight, and for supporting me during the Blueming promotions. I promise to do another vlive soon!”
The guys said their goodbyes, and then Tori blew one final kiss and shut off the camera.
“Phew.” She collapsed back to lay on the ground. “We did it.”
“We did it?” Minho crouched down next to her. “You just talked the whole time.”
“And then just wanted to dance to other songs.” Seungmin added. “As much as we love Twice, I think everyone wanted to see you dance to your song.”
“They’ve been watching it for two weeks.” Tori did a backwards somersault to stand up. “I can dance to something else. I still need to work on the Open Mind choreography though.”
“You dress different now.” Minho said, looking up at her.
“What?” She glanced at Seungmin, who just shrugged. “What do you mean?”
“She’s just in her practice clothes.” Seungmin said. “Maybe a little less homeless than usual.”
“Thanks, man.” Tori rolled her eyes, turning to look in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors. She was wearing low rise baggy sweatpants and a black cropped tank top. It didn’t seem any different from what she’d normally wear.
“I don’t mean right now.” Minho said. “I mean in general. Yesterday you wore a Chanel shirt to practice.”
“Sumi gave it to me.”
“And the day before, you had sneakers that were easily a thousand dollars.”
“You know….” Seungmin tilted his head. “You were using that new bag – the black one with the pearl stuff on it. Is that Chanel too?”
Tori crossed her arms. “The shirt and bag were from Sumi. She has a brand deal. And the sneakers I bought with my own money.”
“Since when do you wear designer stuff?” Minho asked.
“Since now?” Tori rolled her eyes. “What are you talking about? I’m not allowed to dress nice?”
“Sure, you can. I’m just trying to find out why you won’t perform your solo song but are dressing in nice clothes you pay for with your solo stuff.” Minho tilted his head.
“What do you mean I won’t perform my solo song?” She exclaimed. “I performed it like a hundred times over the past few weeks.”
“So you’re tired of it?”
“Sure…I…I guess so.” She hesitated slightly, and they both noticed.
Seungmin sat straight up. “You’re lying. Why are you lying?”
“I’m not lying.” Tori protested.
“You’re not tired of your solo song, and you bought all of those clothes for yourself.” Minho declared. “It’s not a bad thing.”
“Just tell us why you’re being weird about it.” Seungmin told her. “Why don’t you want to perform or admit you bought things for yourself?”
Tori sighed, looking at the ground. “Was it that obvious.”
“Yes.” Minho said.
“Not really.” Seungmin said.
Tori sighed again. “I don’t know….you guys put a lot on hold for me to be able to promote this song. I just don’t want to drag it out any more than I already have.”
“You aren’t dragging it out. Your song is awesome.” Seungmin told her. “You can be excited about it for as long as you want, because we’re excited about it too.”
“And why would we care about what clothes you wear?” Minho asked. “We’ve literally never cared.”
“I know…but it’s more of…you know, that I’m making…”
“Money?” Minho finished. “Is this because you’re making money?”
“We’re all making money.” Seungmin looked confused.
Tori just looked at the ground.
“But you’re making more.” Minho realized. “Is that what this is about? You feel weird because you’re making more money than us?”
“It’s just with the girl group and then this…plus the thing I did with Zoey…I just didn’t want to make it weird.”
“Tor, we don’t care.” Seungmin laughed. “We’re proud of you, everyone is.”
“I know, and I love you guys for it.” She frowned. “I just didn’t want to…rub it in, I guess. By starting to wear all of the nice clothes.”
“It’s your money, you can spend it however you want.” Minho said.
“I bought the shirt when I was out with Sumi. And the sneakers were Yinnie’s idea and I didn’t want to seem weird but I-“
“Tor, you don’t have to explain it.” Seungmin rolled his eyes. “You can dress as nice as you like. All it means is that you’re doing awesome, and we’ll expect nicer Christmas gifts.”
She bit her lip. “I’m good at Christmas gifts.”
“Cool. So stop being weird about your song.” Minho flopped onto his back. “Dress however you want and we’re not going to have a problem.”
“What if I just start wearing all Gucci or something?”
Seungmin snorted. “You aren’t making that much money.”
“I could be!”
“You’re not.” Minho replied. “And honestly you’ve been ordering your clothes from Amazon for too long. This is probably good for the group in the long run.”
“Amazon has a lot of nice stuff.”
“Not as nice as Chanel.”
“This is true.”
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A star knows best
Pairing: Bucky Barnes x Female Reader
Warnings: fluff, a bit of angst, feelings
Word count: 6291
Summary: When Bucky’s late to pick his daughter up from kindergarten, he has to find a way to make it up to both his little star, and her very beautiful teacher.
A/N: So, hi! I’m back, or at least I’m hoping that I am. This is the first thing I’ve finished in over a month, and it is a little messy. Please be gentle with me, because I’ve been overly judgmental towards myself lately.
This piece was written for @anika-ann 500 Follower Celebration. I’m so, so sorry for being so late, love! Thank you, for being so nice about giving me an extension (even though I’m late again) and for letting me be a part of your celebration! My trope was “Single Parent AU” and I hope you like this!
Huge shoutout to @pies-writes-and-more for being so encouraging and supportive whenever i talked about writing this, or whined really. Thank you, lovely!💕
"Daddy? Daddy, wakey!" a soft, energetic voice whispered. A finger poked his cheek, and a small nose buried itself into the crook of his neck.
Bucky's eyes fluttered, the corners of his lips twitching up and into a gentle, beaming smile. Another poke at his cheek followed, and a giggle spilled from the little girl's lips. She blew a raspberry into his neck. A carefree laugh erupted from deep within his chest. It's silly, yet adorable the kind of effect this little act had on him. The simple act, the way his little princess woke him up most mornings. The small fingers and melodious giggles, paired with the wet kisses against his neck. It made his heart flutter into a sweet melody.
"Daddy, come on," she whined this time. Bucky's eyes fell open, a content smile on his face. He reached for his daughter, enveloping her in his big arms, tickling her sides. This prompted a fit of soft laughs and little short, music-like giggles to fall from the child's lips.
He prepped her little face with kisses. Her cheeks, forehead, and nose, wherever his lips could reach. He was sure the stubble that has grown across his jaw added to the ticklish feeling his little star feels. He also knew she loved it.
Her small hands reached for him, tapping each of his cheeks in an attempt to stop her dad's attack. He laughed at that, eyes gleaming in the morning light, as they try to focus on the child snuggled against him. Bucky let her be, watching her little chest expand with each breath she took. The smile on her face didn't weaver for a second.
"Morning, princess," he finally greeted her, kissing the side of her head. Perked up over his body, the child crossed her hands over his chest and laid her head on them. As livid eyes stared back at him, his eyes, he couldn't help but smile.
His daughter was a spitting image of him, a miniature version. Starting with the eyes, they are the same shade as his. There's a glint of mischief, Bucky himself has, that was now embedded into his little girl as well. The hair, chestnut brown, and a little wavy at the ends. The little pout and puppy face even, as well as her stubbornness.
The only thing that wasn't Bucky was her nose. That one was all her mother's.
Her babbling personality, was too, one that mirrors James'. Sweet and charming, with a bit of feisty nature. Atria Winifred Barnes was her father's daughter.
"Morning, daddy," she squealed, flushing her dad a toothy smile. He sat up, bringing her up and into his lap, while his back rested against the headboard.
"What's got you up so early, baby?" he questioned. He looked at the little bedside table clock that read six-thirty in the morning.
The little girl crooked her head to the side and looked at him as if he'd grown a second head.
"Early? No, I have school and you have work, silly. We gotta get up," Atria reminded him with a soft laugh. It's the same laugh that warms his heart every time he hears it. He pretended to think about it, then, his eyes lit up in realization, and he looks at the small brunette in his lap.
"Ah, you are right! We better get up then," he mused, swinging his legs off of the bed. Atria made grabby hands at him, the desire to help in her father's arms evident in her little blue eyes. Who's he to refuse? She had him wrapped around her little finger.
With a smile, he took her in his arm and sat her against his hip. He walked out of his bedroom, and down the stairs. Small, light feet patted against the wooden floor behind him. Soon, Alpine, their cat, sneaked between his legs, and lead the way downstairs.
When they reach the modern kitchen, Bucky sat his daughter on the counter and turned to rum into the fridge.
"What do you want for breakfast, princess?"
"Waffles?" Atria asked, clapping her hands in front of her. Bucky smiled with a slight shake of his head and reached into the fridge to pull the ingredients.
"Waffles it is," he confirmed, and kissed Atria's head, "You are going to help daddy, won't you?"
She nodded enthusiastically.
It's a normal morning in the Barnes' household. Bucky working on breakfast, while the child helped him crack eggs into a bowl, and pour a bit of milk in. The soundtrack of a Disney movie filled the otherwise quiet kitchen. This morning it's "The Little Mermaid", and Atria wasn't shy as she sang along. And neither was Bucky. They did make a great duet, father and daughter.
Being a single parent hadn't crossed his mind, not until it happened. It was unexpected, as was the news of becoming a dad.
When he first learned he was going to be a dad, he was ecstatic. He'd grown in a big family, and he'd always known he wanted to have kids. He was as supportive as they come, not only in the beginning but throughout the pregnancy as well. He'd been careful and attentive but never suffocating.
He might have cried a little too much. Especially when he learned that he, and his then significant other, would be having a daughter. And a lot, when she was finally welcomed into the world, three and a half years ago.
Everything was doing alright that first couple of months. Or maybe James had just been fooling himself into thinking it had. He'd been so wrapped up into the little bundle of joy that Atria was, that he hadn't seen the signs. If there had been any, to begin with.
He hadn't seen anything until it was a little too late for anything to be done. When things had taken an unexpected turn, Bucky had been left to take care of a seven months old baby all by himself.
For a long time, he had blamed himself, because there was no one else there to blame. He would never, in a million years blame his daughter, for something that was well beyond her control. If he'd looked deeper, if he'd looked at all, his princess would still have a mother by her side.
Those first few weeks had been the hardest. Sleepless nights and tears shed by both him and Atria as they tried to get used to being on their own. As they tried to get accustomed to a life without someone they both loved.
It was a good thing that Bucky wasn't alone. One of the most crucial parts at the beginning had been his support system. Something, he would be forever grateful for.
Friends and family had stood right beside him, as he got used to being the only parent to love and cherish his baby. All the while she grew up to a small, charming princess.
His best friend, Steve, had been one of the people that helped the most. He was always there when Bucky needed help or someone to talk to. He'd lost count of how many times he'd woken Steve up in the middle of the night. Or how many times his eyes had glossed over as they talked when he couldn't keep things in anymore. When the tears had fallen quickly afterward.
Although not a vulnerable person at heart, James couldn't always keep the pain and heartache he felt. That was especially true when it came to the people he loved when it came to his child.
Almost three years later, he could proudly state, that he was doing a pretty good job at raising Atria on his own. And with the help of his family and friends when needed.
After they finished with breakfast, Bucky helped Atria wash up, then sent her to get dressed. He'd usually help her, but recently, she had started getting dressed on her own, and he let her. She paired things in a way, that made them look adorable.
He put on his clothes for the day. Blue suit jacket and pants, paired with a plain white t-shirt and white lace-up sneakers. Although a businessman, he preferred to dress in a more elegant casual style. Steve was the one with more of a full suit style.
Once dressed and ready to go, he walked down the hallway and towards Atria's room. He found her ready, sitting on her bed, and playing with Alpine. She'd dressed adorably. Baby pink sweater, blue pants, and her sparkly pink sneakers. Her Auntie Nat had taught her well when it came to pairing colors.
They left the house at exactly seven-thirty.
The playground was vacant, almost empty save for one kid, Atria Barnes.
It's six forty-five, and all the other kids had been picked up already. The last one to go had been a girl named Antonia, picked up by her aunt twenty minutes ago.
You watched from a few feet distance, where the toddler sat by herself on a swing. She gazed up at the sky, watching the sun setting down.
You exhaled. The kindergarten closes at seven, and there were fifteen minutes left.
You checked your phone, in case you've missed a call from James. The only thing you found were messages popping up on your screen. It's Daisy's, one of your closest friends' way of letting you know she's mad at you. You'd agreed to go with her to a concert tonight. Seeing as Atria was still under your care though, you weren't sure you'd make it.
You knew you should give James a call already, but you decided to give him a few more minutes. He's rarely late, ever the punctual one, he showed up at six on the dot almost every day. The rare occasions when he was late, it was always no more than fifteen minutes due to traffic. He also always called to let you know.
Today though didn't seem to be one of those rare occasions. He's late with almost an hour, and he never called to let you know when he'd be there to pick his little girl. On top of that, Daisy was threatening to tear the tickets apart if you didn't text her back or call her soon.
Your biggest concern though was the little girl who's gaze was cast downward. Her little hand reached up occasionally, probably to wipe at the tears, you had a feeling were making their way down her cheeks.
You breathed out, pocketing your phone and making your way towards the swings. When you reached her, you crotched down to her level, in an attempt to see her eyes.
"Hi, Atria," you waited for her to acknowledge you. When you heard her sniffle and wipe at her nose though, you knew it wouldn't happen. You couldn't fault her though. She's smart enough to know that her dad was late to pick her up, even without being the only kid still there. You laid a hand on her knee, your thumb brushing against the bone, "How about we get inside, and call your dad? What do you think?" you asked her gently, brushing the hair out of her face. There were indeed small droplets on her cheeks, and her little eyes were glassed over.
"Okay," she sniffled again, and she went to move off the swing. You took her in your arms, and her little hands wrapped around your neck. You wiped at her tears because although just a teacher, your heart ached whenever a child cried. It didn't suit their colorful nature, and it especially didn't suit Atria's.
She laid her head on your shoulder, and you walked around the building to get inside.
You heard the rave of an engine, and the screeching of tires, which quickly got your attention. You saw a car, James' car you are sure, pull into a stop before he jumped out of the car and broke into a run when he saw you.
The closer he got, the clearer you were able to see him. You saw his face, scrunched up in disappointment, in himself, you were sure. His body language was off too. The ever calm demeanor he had was gone, exchanged for one of worry. His hair was tousled as if he had run his hands through it one too many times. The suit jacket was gone too.
"Atria, look who's here," you whispered to her when James' was mere meters away. The little girl lifted her head from your shoulder and met her dad's eyes. She sniffled again before a little smile broke across her face.
James stopped before you and looked at you with soft eyes as you passed Atria to him.
"Hey, baby. I'm so sorry I'm late. I didn't mean to leave you here for so long, sweetheart," he told her in a soft voice. You saw his own eyes had gotten a bit glassed over.
It was probably hard on him when something like that happened. As a single dad, he's the only parent his daughter could rely on. It's evident, in his eyes especially, that he felt like he's letting her down by being late.
You watched the little girl bury her face into her father's shoulder. When Atria moved to look at him, he wiped at her still wet cheeks and kissed her forehead. She smiled at him, at last, and kissed his cheek.
"I owe you an apology too," James said after he took a deep breath, and his eyes locked on yours.
"It's not necessary," you didn't want him to feel like he needed to. You didn't want him feeling guilty at your expense. He already felt guilty enough for being late to pick his daughter, you didn't want to add to it.
"Yes, it is. I'm sorry, for keeping you. I'm sure you had plans." When you didn't answer immediately, you saw James' eyes widen slightly, "You had plans, didn't you? I am so, so sorry for ruining your night," you could tell he felt guilty when he cast his eyes downward.
"It's quite alright. My plans aren't going anywhere."
"I still feel bad though," you knew he did. People said you could learn a lot by looking at someone's eyes. That seemed to be particularly true for James, "Let me make it up to you?" there's hope in the blue of his eyes.
You looked at him, shaking your head in disagreement, "You don't have to."
"I want to," you watched as Atria whispered something into his ear, "How about dinner? Tomorrow, our place?" he suggested, and when you looked at him and Atria, it's hard to say no.
Atria was one of your favorite pupils. Even though you knew you shouldn't play favorites, and adore all your students, you couldn't help it. There was something so delightful about Atria. She's the sweetest kid you've had the pleasure of teaching. She had such a vibrant personality, and she's also sensitive and intelligent.
Her father? There was no point in lying. James was a handsome man. He's down to Earth, charming and amiable. He's one of the few single dads in the class, and he was also great at it. He showed up for every seasonal celebration, always there to support his daughter.
He was also extremely polite, and as you'd come to know, funny too. Every morning he'd greet you, and all the other teachers with a warm "Good morning" and a sweet smile.
He'd converse and share jokes with parents and teachers, all the same, always making them laugh.
You were in awe by how gentle this man was, given his physique and profession. The few businessmen you've met have been cocky, some of them - notorious, and never as polite as James was.
Maybe that's one of the few reasons why you liked him. Aside from his charming and kind personality, and the great dad nature that he possessed you found him engrossing. Although it was inappropriate, you've found yourself interested in James. Nothing beyond wanting to get to know him on another level, outside of your job, and his role as a father.
You tossed around the idea of accepting James' offer in your head, wondering how improper it would be of you to agree. When your eyes trait from Atria's gleaming ones, to James' livid, optimistic ones, you could feel your answer on the tip of your tongue.
"Okay, dinner it is."
A broad smile found its' way onto his face, and Atria clapped her hands together in victory. You couldn't help the twitching in your lips, and they too, curved into a smile.
If Bucky was honest with himself, he might have rushed when he invited you to dinner at his house. He wanted to have dinner with you, there was no question there. He had wanted to ask you out, on a date for some time.
Ever since he'd met you last year he'd found you endearing. You were an absolute delight when it came to conveying with someone. You had a very vivid nature, and you radiated kindness and realness, Bucky hadn't seen in a woman in a long time.
Not since, well, not since Atria's mom.
If you asked him, it was a rare occurrence for him to meet someone like you. Which, might also be the reason why he had been interested in you for a while. There was always something that prevented him from asking for an opportunity to get to know you more.
Realistically speaking, it would be a little odd to ask you out, given the nature of your acquaintanceship. Bucky though, couldn't help but wish to.
He'd wanted to sit down and ask you question after question if you let him get to know you. He wanted to know what you liked, and what you weren't a fan of. Your favorite flowers, your favorite ice-cream flavor.
Even Steve had suggested, pushed him a bit to ask you out after Bucky shared how fascinated he was by you.
He'd played around with the idea in his head, wondering when he'd grow the balls to finally do it. Well, turned out that moment came earlier than he intended it to.
When he had asked you to make it up to you through dinner, he hadn't been thinking. He'd been clouded by guilt for leaving Atria in your care for an extra hour, almost ruining your plans. By the soft look in your eyes when he'd stopped before you with his eyes glassed over by tears. Only after you had agreed, had his mind caught up with the words that had left his mouth.
Honestly, though? He didn't regret asking you to dinner. What he regretted though, was that he didn't prepare mentally.
It's a good thing his mother had blessed him with her excellent cooking skills. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been prepared at all.
"Daddy?" Atria's soft voice pulled him back into reality. He averted his gaze upward, and onto her face, settling down the knife he's holding. Atria was perked up on the kitchen island next to him, picking the parsley leaves off of the stem.
"What is it, princess?"
"Do you like Miss Y/N?" He's taken aback, even though he knew he shouldn't be. Atria was a smart, curious toddler. It's normal for her to ask him something such as this. He looked at her with a smile.
"And what about you? Do you like Miss Y/N?"
She laughed, the sound melodious yet gentle, "You first, silly."
He didn't have to even think about his answer, because it sat on the tip of his tongue, and has sat there for a long time. Steve had asked him the same question some weeks back, and even then, he'd said the same.
"I do, baby. I do," he smiled again, picking up the knife.
"Me too." she finally answered.
They worked in relative silence after that, another Disney movie soundtrack playing in the background. Occasionally, Atria sang as Bucky smiled at his daughter from underneath his eyelashes.
It was exactly seven o'clock when the doorbell rang. Atria gasped.
"She's here!" she exclaimed and jumped from the island. She skipped towards the door in her cute, little yellow apron covered in bees. Bucky was fast to wash his hands before he rushed after her. By the time he reached the door through, Atria had already opened it and was talking to you a mile an hour.
His eyes locked on you, as he took small as if cautious steps towards the front door. You looked beautiful, to simply put it. You've changed because instead of the usual casual look you sported around your pupils, you looked a tad elegant now. Your hair, too, was styled in a different way. There were different shades of color on your cheeks and eyes, as well as your lips. They were soft, but still able to define your features.
You were smiling as you talked to Atria, a bottle of wine in your hand. He shook his head in amusement. Always the polite one. You wouldn't dare show up empty-handed.
When Bucky reached the door, you lifted your gaze from Atria's smaller frame to his, your eyes soft. You smiled at him, and he could swear his heart fluttered at the act.
"Hello, James," you greeted him.
He cleared his throat, trying to swallow past the sudden dryness. With a smile of his own, he greeted you back. He welcomed you into the house, and when he saw your eyes roaming over his figure, his eyes widened.
He's still clad in his baby blue suit pants and white t-shirt and over those sat a red apron that read "kiss the soldier". A gag gift from Sam Wilson, one of his to date best friends, and army buddy.
You and Atria walked towards the kitchen, hand in hand, as Bucky trailed behind you, with a gentle smile on his face. When you walked in, Bucky saw your eyes widen a fraction.
The white and gray design of the kitchen had been Natasha's idea. Bucky had wanted something light, but not the standard white. The gray gave a whole other look to the otherwise boring white.
He watched you look around for a little before he cleared his throat.
"Can I get you anything?" he asked you, moving to the other side of the counter. Your head whips around as if startled, and you shook your head at yourself.
"I brought wine, but water's fine for now," you answered, handing him the bottle you still held. Then, you added, "I'm sorry, for staring. It's just, you have a beautiful home, James," you said, a tender smile on your face.
Your eyes trailed to the counter, where a stack of vegetables and spices, amongst other things sit. You pointed with your brow furrowed, seeing that James had been in the middle of cooking dinner.
"Do you need some help?"
He shook his head, but Atria was quick to cut in.
"Yes, please!" she made grabby hands at James, and with a laugh, he picked her up and sat her onto the counter again. Your eyes scrunched up in amusement. After washing your hands, you stood next to James, ready to help him finish with cooking the dinner.
You moved around the kitchen, with lightness, while Atria sat, asking questions. While you cut the vegetables, James prepared the other part of the dinner.
"Where did you learn how to cook?" You asked him after a while. He looked at you, his head crooked to the side, his eyes beaming.
"My mom. She's great at it. I guess I picked it up from her," there was a small glint in his blues, and a soft tone to his voice, both affectionate. It's a beautiful look on him.
You passed the time, talking about this and that. You were laughing, even singing along with Atria to some of her favorite tunes. It was pleasant, different from anything both you and James were used to doing in the evenings.
You couldn't help the smile that adored your face when you saw Atria helping James with dessert. Mixing ingredients, trying not to spill anything outside of the bowl. The soft look on James' face when she stuck her finger in, sucking it into her mouth afterward. The soft laugh and the little, "we don't do that, princess" that followed. It was adorable.
You spent the good part of an hour, finishing dinner and dessert before you finally sat at the table. Dinner was filled with pleasant talk and easy giggles. Once again, Atria talked a mile an hour, asking you questions, sharing her interests.
You were so engrossed in the story she was sharing, you didn't see the glimmer in James' eyes as he watched you conversed with his daughter.
When Atria started to yawn, James decided she had enough for the day. He went upstairs and helped her get ready for bed. You bid her goodnight with a hug and waited in the living room for James to put his daughter to bed.
Their home was beautiful, bright, and homey. There were little bits and pieces scattered around, showing the livelihood of the home. A few of Atria's toys, some things you presumed are James'.
There were paintings and pictures on the walls too. A few framed photos sat on the fireplace, some on the shelves.
As you walked, eyes trailing from photo to photo, it was easy to recognize James on a lot of them. There was one, you assume taken years ago, since James looks younger. He's laughing, eyes scrunched up, white teeth showing. Next to him, with a hand on his shoulder was a blond man, a tad taller. He's smiling brightly. Both of them are dressed in green, an army uniform.
Before your eyes could trail to another photo close by, you were startled by James' voice.
"That photo was taken almost nine years ago," although his voice was soft, you couldn't help but jump a bit. You turned around to face him, and he shook his head with a chuckle, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you, again."
"It's fine, really," you assured him when he moved closer.
"That's Steve, my best friend since childhood," he told you, eying the picture.
His laugh bloomed around, filling your ears and the quiet living room. You couldn't help the amused look that seeped into your features.
"He's a punk. Always had to pull him out of fights," there was fondness in his voice, as well as a small fond smile on his face.
He saw your eyes trail to a photo close by, the same one you were eyeing before he startled you.
It's a photo of three, you realized when you looked closer. There's James, and in his arms is a small, pink bundle. Atria, if you had to guess. Next to him, with a hand on his shoulder is a redhead. Both their eyes are locked on the small child in James' arms, with adoration written on both their faces.
His posture changed, his shoulder tensing a little. He exhaled, sticking his hands into his pockets.
"That's Dot," he started, eyes cast downward before he exhaled again and finally looked at you, "Atria's mom."
You should have known; you should have everted your gaze. In some ways, maybe you did. It was as if curiosity got the better of you. He looked happy on that photo, at peace and ease. And Dot? She was beautiful, with her eyes almost sparkling in the sunlight beaming down on them.
They truly looked like a family, happy, united, like a family should be.
Although you couldn't help but ask yourself what might have gone wrong, you couldn't, and you wouldn't voice your curiosity. Whatever happened, it seemed to have left a great weight and impact on James. The last thing you wished to do, was poke into old wounds.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have – " he cut you off before you could continue.
"It's alright. You didn't know. Plus, it was a long time ago," if he was honest, it wasn't that long ago. At least it didn't feel like it was. He could lie to you all he wanted, but he couldn't lie to himself.
You could see the distant look in his eyes when he looked at you, and you knew there was more to it. More than "It was a long time ago". You stayed mum though. There was pain there, under the surface. Even though he tried to mask it, play like everything was alright, it was there.
"How about I help you clean up before I go? And I don't take no for an answer," you suggested, trying to pry his thought away from the place they were visiting. You smiled at him, and it seemed to work. You both made your way towards the kitchen and got to work on cleaning the table and washing the dishes.
You worked in silence for a few minutes. The water slid against the soapy dishes in James' hands and down the drain. Your fingers touched his, every time he handed you something so you could dry it.
"Have you – " James broke the silence suddenly. You angled your head to look at him, but he wasn't looking at you. His gaze was locked on the ceramic dishes, "Have you ever felt like you aren't doing a very good job at something?" his voice was light, albeit shaky.
You stared at his side profile, gnawing at your lower lip in worry. You sat the towel down when you saw his washing the same plate for the second time.
"Does this, sudden doubt has anything to do with yesterday?" You asked, your voice leveled. There was a sinking feeling in your stomach as if you already knew the answer to your question.
"I just…, I can't help but feel like what I'm doing isn't enough," he sat the plate down, finally, and turned off the water. His hands gripped onto the counter, as he exhaled a shaky breath, "I try my best. I try to give her enough love to make up for the fact that Dot's not here, that she left. Sometimes though, it doesn't feel like what I'm doing is enough," he breathed out, his grip on the counter loosening.
You didn't even think before the words were rolling off the tip of your tongue. Your hand reached out, settling on his back.
"I think you are doing more than enough, James. That little girl, she adores you. There isn't a day that goes by, where she doesn't remind everyone how much she loves you. She draws, drawing after drawing of you two, as a family. As well as a variety of other things, so she could show you how much she loves you," He finally turned towards you. You saw once again, James' blue eyes glassed over with unleashed tears, "Take my word for it. You are doing just fine. Raising and loving rush a radiant little girl," you pat him on the back, and you saw his lips twitch up. A smile followed, soft and thankful, and he swiped under his eyes.
"Thank you," it slipped easily because it was the truth. Bucky was thankful, for your presence and your reassuring words. It happened, every once in a while, he'd, crash. His emotions would play games on him, his doubt would bubble into the surface. He'd believe, he was doing something the wrong way, although that wasn't true.
It made him doubt his ability in raising his daughter. It would make him feel like he wasn't doing enough when it came to his bright star.
He cleared his throat, banishing all those doubts, and then he finally spoke up.
"What made you want to work with kids?" he decided to change the subject, in hopes to bring some light into the conversation. It was getting late, and he knew you were going to be leaving soon, so he didn't want the night to end on a sad note.
What James didn't know though, was that there was so much more there than the otherwise simple, "I love toddlers". Even though it was a touchy subject on your part, you found yourself wanting to be truthful with him. He laid his heart out for you to see, albeit not the whole, you could do as much.
"When I was in high school, I used to babysit a little boy down the street. He was around Atria's age at the time. One day, there was a car accident, and that little boy became an orphan. He had no relatives, no one to take him in, and they wanted to put into foster care," you swallowed down.
James watched you tenderly, a look of curiosity on his face. He was waiting for you to continue talking, and that's what you did.
"I'd watched him grow up until that point, and I knew I didn't want to see him go. Be with people he didn't know, in a place that he wasn't familiar with. It wasn't long, before my parents and I were sitting at home, and I was begging them to adopt him. Turns out, I didn't have to, because as much as I didn't want him gone, they didn't too," you paused again, exhaling. You tried to keep the memories and emotions at bay because you knew that Peter wouldn't want you to shed tears on his account.
You looked at James with a soft smile, one he returned.
"Today, Peter is a bright and brilliant sixteen years old, that never lets me beat him at Scrabble. That's alright though because he's happy, and that's all that matters to me," and it was simple as that. All you've wanted since your parents adopted him, was for him to be happy.
You've spent every moment you could, to make sure that happened. All throughout kindergarten, when he was trying to get used to a life without his parents. Throughout school, and high school, when his little genius came to the surface. You'd continue doing so, for as long as he would let you.
You didn't even realize when he moved closer. When you looked back up at him, he was mere inches away from you. Your chest was almost touching his, his breath hot, and fanning your face.
His hand moved up, thumb swiping against your cheek where a lone tear was sliding down. Your feelings were bubbling, and your emotions high. Your memories brought you back to those days, the early days with Peter at your house. The tears that he shed every night when he missed his parents.
"I think that's a beautiful story," he mumbled in a gentle voice. His breath mingled with yours from the closeness between you. It was strange, being so close to him, a bit overwhelming, but not wrong. You'd expected it to feel wrong, but it didn't. Not with the way he's looking at you, his blues shining with something, you couldn't quite wrap your finger around. Desire? Want? You weren't sure.
"You really think so?" your voice was as quiet as his was. You caught the way James' eyes slid down to your lips, and back up again for a fraction of a second.
He wanted to kiss you, and he had a feeling you wanted that too if the way you run your tongue over your bottom lip was any sign
"I do," you were looking at him, waiting to see what he was going to do. Next thing you knew; his lips were on yours. You didn't know what you expected, but it wasn't this.
His lips were warm, plump, yet a little chapped against yours. They moved against yours with a gentleness you knew he possessed, long before he even kissed you. His hand held onto your hip with a barely-there touch. It was burning, the sensation of his skin on you, and the way he was touching you.
He nipped at your lower lip, making the skin sting before he ran his tongue against the sensitive flesh. Sucking it into his mouth with vigor, a whine slipped from the back of your throat at the feeling. It was both overwhelming and intoxicating.
Bucky used that to his advantage, his tongue sliding into your mouth, dancing with yours. He explored your mouth greedily, caressing the inside of your mouth.
It was over too soon when his tongue slipped out of your mouth, and he moved a few inches back. You tried to catch your breath, eyes screwed shut as you breathed in and out.
When you found the courage to finally open your eyes, James' blues were staring right at you. His eyes were darkened, blow wide.
"Not what I expected when I agreed to have dinner with you," you breathed out in a joking matter.
"I'm full of surprises, doll," he declared, with a little chuckle and a grin that made your heart flutter. You laughed, your eyes scrunching up a little.
"So it seems," You mused, before James leaned down, and connected your lips once more.
Little did either of you know, Atria was far from asleep. The little girl sat at a far enough distance, with a great view of you and James, but hidden from your wondering eyes. In her lap was Alpine, whom she quietly talked to, as she watched you and James kiss and laugh.
"Told you, Alpine, they like each other." the little star knew best.
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Braving the Elements
Chapter 8: Tonys Party
Tw: Alcohol consumption, swearing , bad writing???
Authors note: we about to get a lil soft and a lil angsty babyyyy
(The next morning in the kitchen)
Honestly both songs r like how I envision they’re relationship ANYWAYS HERE WE GOOO
“So, just how fancy are these parties?” you ask Nat and Wanda who are currently lying on your bed.
“Think Jay Gatsby meets James Bond.” Nat responds
“Shit, don’t think I have anything that nice.” you say skimming through your clothes which had finally found their way onto hangers. You had a lot of nice pieces, but nothing suitable enough for a black tie event. You had left most of your more exquisite garments back at your old apartment.
“No worries we have plenty, you can borrow something from us.” Wanda says closing her phone, before declaring that you should all get ready so you won’t be late. Nat and Wanda leave, then re-enter, your room carrying various dresses.
The dress you end up choosing is a midnight blue satin number. The top has a deep v on either side, exposing your back and a good portion of your cleavage. The top is tight to your body and gathers at your natural waistline before flaring out into a structured A-line skirt. You twist your hair up and pin it, pulling a few curls down to frame your face. Nat’s settled on an off the shoulder black, skin tight dress with a slit going all the way up her thigh. Her red hair clipped to one side giving it a wind-swept look. Wanda emerges in a long sleeve, scoop necked, mermaid style, maroon dress, opting to keep her hair loose for the evening. Pulling on your heels, Wanda shuffles you both out the door in the name of getting to the venue on time.
You wind up talking to Clint for a while and after ensuring he knows that you were not joking when you had asked him to teach you how to shoot a bow and arrow, you decide to go talk to Nat who's just been left by Wanda whose now at the bar talking to Vision and the rest of the boys.
“Well they all clean up nice” you say to Nat and she turns her head to face you.
“You know,” Nat says “ I think Wanda may like Vision.”
“Right!” you exclaim a touch too loud, realizing that you were slightly tipsy already. “We should set that up.” You stress to Nat who whole heartedly agrees. As the two of you make your way to the bar you can’t help but notice the small group of beautiful women who had gathered around Bucky. You couldn’t blame them, he’d slicked his hair back exposing his perfect jawline and the navy blue suit he was wearing brought out those eyes you liked so much.
You reach the bar and say “Someone’s popular tonight” nodding your head in Bucky’s direction
“Oh he always is, it’s the eyes,” says Steve
“and the hair” Sam chimes in
“20$ says it’s the arm, I know a few girls with a metal kink” you joke, causing Sam and Nat to burst out laughing and Steve to turn a lovely shade of red. The four of you talk for a while politely making conversation with anyone who came up for a chat.
“Jesus how stuffy can this party get.” you say while fanning yourself. Half falling off your chair you slur out an “ I gotta pee.” to the rest of the group before heading off to the bathroom. Exiting the restroom you manage to catch the tail end of a conversation between two smug, older, looking business men.
“I can’t believe Tony Stark is slumming it with mutants nowadays, what would his father think? I thought the commie soldier was bad, but this? Bringing in freaks of nature it’s too much who knows what they're capable of.” one of them says “Very well put, wouldn’t mind fucking her though she’s got a great ass.” the other one says looking right at you, almost as if he wanted to make sure you had heard him.
You bunch up the skirt of your dress in your hands and swiftly make a beeline to the nearest balcony. You can feel your chest tighten and your eyes start to well up. Stop it, you will yourself. Stop it right now. Don’t let them see you cry. You swing open the balcony's doors and finding no one there you exhale, resting your elbows down onto the banister, and dabbing away the few tears that had gathered in your eyes. Staring out into the lights of the city you focus on your breathing tuning out to the clatter of the party behind you.
You weren’t the only one to hear the man’s cruel words. Bucky had been standing nearby and overheard it as well. After seeing you practically run outside, he pulls himself away from the girl he’s been with all night promising to be right back, suddenly finding that the only thing he could think about was you.
A familiar voice breaks your silence and the noise from the party seeps back into your auditory field. “Hey, I said are you okay” the voice asks again.
Wiping away a tear and composing yourself before turning to face Bucky you smile brightly
“Never better, besides I’ve heard worse. I mean they said they’d fuck me, god what a compliment!” you scoff leaning back onto the railing. He rests his forearms on the banister and looks at you. “Well they did get one thing right”
“Ya, you're right, my ass is pretty great.” you say absentmindedly, causing him to laugh.
“No well , I mean yes, but bringing me in was definitely a bad move.”
“Oh, well that was a given” you quip back pushing yourself off the banister and straightening your dress.
Between the dress you had on and the way the loose strands of your hair were blowing gently in the fall breeze Bucky couldn’t help himself. Moving off of the banister he places his non-metal thumb under your chin drawing your gaze to him. He wants to kiss you right there, but not wanting to look like a fool, he waits for you to make the next move.
You meet his gaze and for a second you think you can see his eyes dart down to your lips. Figuring that the multiple glasses of champagne had got you imagining things, you turn your head away.
“You should get back in there I bet the girls are missing you.” you say, giving his bicep a gentle squeeze before walking back into the party. God if there was ever gonna be a moment it was then and you just blew it. You compartmentalize your mistake by ensuring yourself that your mind was simply playing tricks on you. He had tons of lovely women wanting to leave with him, why would he want to waste his time with you.
“Stupid” Bucky mutters to himself watching you leave. He was stupid to think you’d want to be with him. He just thought after that night in the kitchen that you felt something for him. He knew he felt something for you. Feeling upset by the rejection he decides to keep his promise and return to the girl from the party.
You walk back to Nat and Wanda making up some kind of excuse for taking so long.
After a while It was just the three of you. Sam and Bucky had left earlier with a couple of the girls and Steve and Vision had offered to help Tony clean up a bit. You convince Wanda and Nat to stay a bit longer, not wanting to run into, or hear, Bucky and his date in the room next door.
“God we have to have an actual night out” says Nat “not enough booze here and not enough dancing!”
“You know I think I know the perfect place,” you slur , “next time we go out your gonna see the underground of New York”
“Alright drunky,” Wanda says” let’s get you home.”
10 A.M., the next morning
You wake up with a dry mouth, feeling like shit, and regretting drinking so much last night. You cover your face with your hands and drag them down realizing that you had passed up on an opportunity to have a night of fun with Bucky. Before you can get too caught up in your thoughts you feel spit gathering in your mouth and you know you have to get to the toilet ASAP rocky. You make it to the toilet just in time before spilling your guts into the porcelain toilet. You have just enough time to fashion the belt of your dressing gown into a makeshift hair tie before vomiting again.
“Death!” you shout dramatically causing a distraught Sam to run into your room
“Whose death? Where?” he shouts jumping from side to side
“MINE!” you yell “I think I just threw up the equivalent of a human being.” You groan while crawling out of the bathroom in an oversized t-shirt, open nightgown and recently repurposed belt wrapped in your hair. The ridiculousness of your outfit causes Sam to erupt in laughter.
“Don’t move! I GOTTA get a picture of this” he exclaims with glee before running out of your room
“Samuel, don’t you dare!” You shriek chasing out after him passing by Bucky and the gorgeous brunette from the night before, and running into the kitchen.
“ Oh my god.” says Wanda stifling a laugh.
“Hey I think I look pretty good for a dead bitch!” you exclaim before striking a pose causing them both to laugh as Sam snaps a pic
After politely escorting the woman to the door, Bucky turns around just in time to see you running after Sam.
Following you into the kitchen he laughs at the line. He was amazed how different you were from the girl who had jumped through a moving cars window a few days earlier. You seemed lighter, happier. He knew he wanted to spend more time with you but didn’t want to ask you outright, especially after you had rejected him last night.
“Send me a copy of that will ya bird boy?” he says pouring out a cup of coffee
“So lover boy how was she?” Sam asks
“I don’t kiss and tell” he responds
“So that what the kids are calling sex nowadays” Wanda says with a smirk “huh who knew!”
You laugh along with the others, but you can’t stop yourself from feeling upset at the thought of him with someone else, still not fully understanding why
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picnic ~ harry styles au
part one part two
word count: 1679
description: after showing her the town of eroda, harry decides to take his mermaid friend to see his favourite spot to be alone
pairing: harry styles x mermaid!female!reader
After showing (Y/N) around Eroda, Harry led her up to his favourite peak that looked out over the beach. Harry watched as she excitedly raced up to the near edge to look down over it.
“It’s beautiful,” she called to Harry.
“It is,” Harry laughed. “Come in before you fall over!”
The two sat on the bench in the overgrown grass. Harry placed his backpack on his lap and started to pull food from it.
“What do mermaids eat when they’re swimming?” Harry asked.
“We usually don’t have to eat,” she said between bites of sandwich. “We don’t really get hungry while swimming. It’s usually only when in human form.”
“I have so many questions,” Harry said. “But I really don't want to bombard you or bug you. I’m sure you get questioned every time someone new meets you.”
(Y/N) shrugged. “I understand being shocked. Mermaids have been fairytales and legends for hundreds of years, no one believes they’re real until they see it firsthand.”
So many questions were swirling in Harry’s head. There was so much he wanted to know, about mermaids and about (Y/N) in general.
He watched her take another bite of her sandwich. The wind blew her hair from her shoulders as she looked at the view ahead of her. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. She was absolutely gorgeous. He wondered if that was a mermaid thing, or if she was just naturally gorgeous.
“Where do the mermaid legends come from then, if they’re actually real?” he asked.
(Y/N) smiled. A question she had heard countless times before. “Obviously you know of the tales of sirens, right?” Harry nodded. “Sirens are what mermaids started as. There’s no definite reason, both in your world and in the mermaid world, but the hundreds of years ago pirates would sail into the waters where the mermaids lived, which angered the mermaids. They’d come to the surface and sing to lure the pirates to their deaths. One man, it’s unclear if it was an actual pirate of one of their hostages, faked his death to escape them and return to his home to warn everyone. They all thought he was crazy, so no one believed him, but his story travelled through town and ended up becoming a folktale for years to come. Anyone who could ever confirm that it was real were killed by mermaids.
“That’s dark,” Harry breathed.
“It’s the truth, “(Y/N) shrugged. “It took some time and a lot of fighting but some time later be became much more friendly and less violent. We decided to stay hidden as not to frighten humans, because we thought that we had been branded evil killers. We had no idea that humans had turned us into lovely creatures, into princesses for the amusement of their children. We were, and still are, honored that the evil that we were once connected to is no longer attached to the name of the mermaid.”
Harry nodded, allowing (Y/N)’s story to digest. He stopped as realization crossed his mind, “So wait...is Ariel real too?”
(Y/N) giggled. “No, Ariel is just a story. We don't have a monarchy like that in the mermaid world. We all just sort of...exist as we wish to. Obviously, if any of us are still violent like our ancestors we denounce them, but that’s really it.”
Harry hadn’t noticed that (Y/N) had finished her sandwich until she was reaching for his bag again. She dug through his bag until she pulled out a plastic bag of cookies and her eyes lit up excitedly. Harry figured he wouldn’t be getting any of those today.
“What about families?” he asked. “Do mermaids have families? Do they worry about you when you’re gone for long periods of time?”
(Y/N) paused with a cookie raised to her mouth. She lowered it slowly, unable to meet Harry’s eye. “We have families, yes. We fall in love and we procreate more mermaids but...no, they...they don’t worry about us. When a young mermaid is old enough to explore on his or her own, they separate from their family and they go off by themselves. They cross paths every now and then and have a short reunion, but it’s not the same as what humans do.”
Harry looked at her in shock. “They just...let their kids go? Not knowing if they’ll ever see them again?”
She nodded, looking down at her lap. “It’s hard to stay together when the nature of mermaids is to want to swim to explore the world. And it’s hard to meet back at a specific location when mermaids are able to swim so far in just a short amount of time, and often lose track of where they are and where they’d been. It was decided, some time ago when I was just a baby, that instead of trying to restrain the youth and to not allow them to explore, that parents would allow their children to be on their own once they’re old enough. Again, there’s nothing to enforce that, if a parent wants to keep their child from leaving they’re free to, but they also must give their child the option once their old enough.”
“Did you choose to leave?”
She shook her head. “No. It was an accident, I was much younger than the average mermaid who goes off on their own. My family and I were swimming and I was caught in a strong current. By the time my parents noticed I was being whisked away and tried to save me, the current had gained too much speed and I was pulled away. I tried looking for them, but it was no use. That was when I started exploring on land, it felt safer than being in the sea all by myself as such a young age sometimes. I fell in love with the human life, so I tend to visit places on land from time to time, just because.”
Harry wrapped his arms around (Y/N) without thinking, pulling her to him. The action took (Y/N) by surprise, but she soon melted into Harry’s arms, resting her head on his chest and taking in his scent. Wow, he smells really good.
“I’m sorry that happened to you,” he said. “That’s...that’s really terrible. My parents left my choice, they never cared for me or for my problem, but yours lost their daughter unwillingly...that’s terrible.”
“It is,” (Y/N) agreed, biting back the tears she was feeling form in her eyes. “I’m hoping they’re still alive so I can find them again some day, and I can be with them again. But for now, I’ve started to enjoy my life alone. Swimming from place to place, meeting new people, seeing how the world changes while I’m under the water. It’s a fascinating life, I will admit.”
Harry pulled away to look at her. (Y/N) noticed how green his eyes were. Greener than the grass surrounding them, although the grass didn’t exactly seem to be very healthy.
She found herself leaning closer to Harry, still looking into his eyes. Harry raised an eyebrow. “What are you doing?”
“Your eyes,” she responded. “They’re beautiful.”
Harry’s face turned red as he finally broke eye contact to look at the ground. “Oh...well...thank you...so are yours.”
She smiled brightly and sat back on the bench, beginning to eat the cookies yet again.
“Do mermaids still sing?” Harry asked. “Is it still...dangerous to hear a mermaid sing?”
(Y/N) shook her head. “It’ll capture your attention and draw you to them, but it’s not dangerous. It never was, only the mermaids in general were dangerous.”
Harry nodded. He hesitated before asking, “Can you sing...for me? I’d love to hear it.”
(Y/N) munched on her cookie and swallowed before she responded, “Are you sure?”
(Y/N) placed the cookies aside and stood in front of Harry. She looked at the town behind him. It was miles away, and the beach was deserted. There was no way anyone would hear her, she wouldn’t risk drawing attention to them.
She opened her mouth and began to sing an old song of her people. It was one that was once used to lure pirates to their deaths, but when the mermaids decided to turn over a new leaf and to become more peaceful than their ancestors, they took the song back and made it their own. It was their call to one another, a song they sang to help instead of to hurt, or just something they sang to calm themselves during tough times. (Y/N) spent many lonely nights singing to herself, hoping that maybe her parents would hear her and find her.
Harry was captivated from the second she began to sing. He sat forward in his seat, having to stop himself from jumping up right then and there and taking (Y/N) in his arms. He was shocked to find, however, that he knew which parts of his admiration were the siren song and which were his actual feelings. The desire to hold (Y/N), to be as close to her as he could possibly be, he knew that was the siren song, but the genuine feeling of admiration for her was real. He had been feeling it since he first met her.
(Y/N)’s eyes flickered to look behind Harry every so often just to make sure no one else had heard her. When she was sure no one had, and that it was enough of her singing, she stopped. Harry began to clap, smiling his bright smile. (Y/N) giggled and took a bow.
“That was amazing,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said, taking a seat next to Harry.
They ate in silence then, feeling as though there was nothing else to talk about. They just watched as the sun went down, munching on their food in silence and enjoying one another’s company.
Tags: @daylightkissy @hufflepuff-always-and-forever @arypesanchez
Let me know if you want to be tagged in future parts!
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Ep. 3 | The Marauders: Riddle Records
A/N: “Come to the dark side. We have a solo career.” - Tom Riddle Jr., probably. On a lighter note, I can just see them backstage like this by the lovely artist @theimpossiblefifth. Read on AO3 :) Enjoy! - J xx
One look in your eyes
I can read your mind
You're naughty, my type
Care for a good time?
You could be just like all your high society friends at high tea
You could get with a football player
But there’s nothing like a shot of adrenaline in the morning
You know you want a dragon slayer
“Like me,” James mouthed seductively to the camera and winked.
“I’m Alice Fortescue, these wonderful lads are The Marauders, thank you for joining us this Saturday Night Live!” the actress grinned widely as the camera backed away.
The boys all gathered around her in a group hug.
“Holy shit! That was incredible!” Obviously, this was Sirius speaking.
“You were wonderful, honey,” a low voice whispered.
A smiling man with sweet eyes and a mop of dark hair put his arms around Alice.
“Oh, everyone, this is my boyfriend, Frank!” the bubbly actress grinned widely, “He’s a photographer for GQ.”
“Sick!” James shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Frank; lovely working with you, Alice; hope you’ll both come to one of our shows sometime, ta-ta!” Sirius practically dragged the band away before anyone could say anything more.
“What was that?” Remus tutted at his boyfriend.
“Yeah, ta-ta?” the bespectacled boy wiggled his nose to adjust his glasses that had gone askew, “Who says that?”
“Not what I meant,” the pale, mousy-haired boy shrugged off his suit jacket in their shared dressing room.
“Look, I’ll explain later!” Sirius pleaded, “Just hurry up and let’s get the hell -”
“Yoo-hoo! Siri!” a warbling, high-pitched voice giggled on the other side of the door, “This is their room here, Tommy...”
“Christ,” the dark-haired boy covered his face with his hands.
“We’ll deal with Bella,” James set his jaw and turned to the other two, “Ready?”
Remus and Peter rolled up their dress shirt sleeves and nodded.
The trio filed out of the dressing room, forcing Bella Black and her friend backward, and immediately shut the door behind them.
“He doesn’t want to see you or any of your family again, Bella,” said James sternly, giving the show's new cameraman the stink-eye for good measure.
Bella stuck her tongue out childishly.
Her guest grimaced and offered his hand to the boys, “I’m sorry about her. She overheard I was interested in speaking with you young talents and… well, it got a bit out of hand. I’m Tom Riddle, of Riddle Records.”
Really, the man with chiseled features and dark slicked back hair wasn’t much older than they were. But he was dressed more expensively than they could ever be comfortable with, even with the fresh success of their debut album.
“You’re Senior’s kid,” James nodded, his mother being an agent in the industry. He noted just the smallest flinch at the mention of the man's father. “With all due respect, we already have a label.”
“A label that has you locked into a contract as a group,” Tom gave them each his card and presented James with another one for Sirius, “We would pay any fees associated with breaking your current contract, then we would launch your solo careers - James as the pop prince, Sirius as the rock and roll bad boy, Remus as the R&B god, and Peter as the jazz legend!”
“We’re better musicians together,” said Remus.
Tom leaned in, “Your success now, quadrupled. Plus the potential for high-engagement collaborations among you. The freedom to create in your own style on top of that. Imagine it. And give me a call.”
"Ta-ta," Bella blew them each a kiss in a way that could only be described as menacing. When they were out of the boys' earshot she simpered, "You're such a clever businessman, Tommy."
"Don't call me that," he yanked his arm away and pressed his phone to his ear irritably, "I found us some new business and laid the groundwork. Can I have my allowance now?"
The Marauders flew back to Scotland that night and rehearsed for months until they were ready to drop before flying back to LA for Night One.
“Nervous?” Sirius whispered while they waited for their opening act, DJ Dedalus Diggle, to finish his set.
“Why would you ask me that?” James huffed, adjusting his bright red tie for the umpteenth time.
“You need more glitter,” Molly patted his cheekbones lightly with her pointer finger, which was covered in the golden stuff.
“Five minutes, boys!”
“Thanks, Arthur!” Remus spoke for them all.
“We’ve got this, Jimbo!” Peter bounced excitedly on his heels.
“Easy for you to say. You’ve been performing at recitals since you were big enough to reach the keys from the bench.”
“The jitters never get old,” his baby-faced friend told him, “but we’re all going out there. And with everything we do together, we always have fun.”
James nodded to himself and made sure to check on their drummer for the tour, “You good, Kingsley?”
The man in a rose-red disco suit twirled the sticks deftly in his hands, “Let’s do this.”
“... and now, Los Angeles,” Diggle hyped the crowd, “give it up… for The Marauders!”
The lights went up and the boys looked out at the incredibly emotional fans who’d come to see them.
“Right,” James whispered, reaching for the microphone with shaking hands, “A-one, two, three.”
I don’t have a lot of time
I’m running for my dear life
Can’t breathe without you by
Aye aye aye
It’s a full house
But I’ll seek you out
It’s a wild crowd
But I’ll seek you out
I don’t know how
But I’ll seek you out
James couldn’t help grinning ear to ear as Sirius broke out into his guitar solo.
Remus pointed out a sign that said, “Marry me, James Potter!”
The lead singer laughed and spoke into his mic, “Well, will you buy me dinner first, at least?”
The girl promptly fainted.
Arthur was by her side immediately to make sure she was alright.
“Oh, dear, you’ve hit your head,” Molly crouched down beside him and handed the young girl an ice pack.
The red-headed manager got his first good look at the videographer and her multi-pocketed fishing vest and cargo pants.
She noticed him staring, “I’ve known these boys a long time. You never know what you’re going to need.”
“Good advice,” he helped her and the fan back up in one go, “I’m Arthur.”
“Molly,” she grinned, hoisting her camera back onto her capable shoulders and focused back in on James.
Under your spell, I like how you play it
Keeping it cool is so overrated
Waiting on you, every breath bated
Hey hey hey
They played LA two more nights before moving on to San Francisco. Then Vegas, then Seattle, and across the rest of the continent, all the way to New York.
“Madison Square Garden,” James swallowed, taking in the iconic jumbotron above their heads and the entire stadium, really.
Just three hours later, he was up on that very stage, sweat trickling down his back and the bridge of his nose as he sang his heart out about a funny story the designer, Lily Evans once related about her sister via Instagram post.
There’s a little house on Privet Drive
Where nothing ever happens
Little curtain twitcher of a wife
And a little boy and husband
But when they leave for their nine to five
And the little boy goes to school
The little old lady with cats ninety-nine
Does what she wills to do
Living next to ordinary no. 4
So much to do, so much to explore
The grocer down the street from me
His daughter left for university
And he needs the comfort of my tabbies
Yessiree, that’s what I’m here for
Your neighbour next to ordinary no. 4
After that, they went all over South America. The streets were typically too narrow to drive a tour bus around, so they often jetted from one country to another and rented a little convoy of minivans to take them to the arenas from their hotels and back.
“Shit, Petey’s got food poisoning!” Remus fussed over the poor boy.
“I’m fine! Really!” the blond insisted before doubling over and retching once more.
“I can fill in,” DJ Diggle adjusted his signature flat cap, “I have all your songs pre-recorded -”
“We have half an hour to get it out of his system!” Sirius declared determinedly, “We’re not going on without you, Pete!”
“I’ve got the doctor!” Arthur came in, followed closely by a middle-aged woman with apple cheeks and curly hair.
“You need to replace your fluids,” Molly handed Peter a bottle of electrolytes.
“Yeah, it’s a common bacterial infection going around among tourists,” said the doctor, giving him a dose of antibiotics, “He’s not in any shape to perform, you lot, so you might as well let him rest.”
“I can - oh,” Peter ran to the bathroom.
“How soon can you give him another dose of that?” Sirius asked anxiously.
“Not any time in the next half hour,” she narrowed her eyes at him, apparently having overheard his earlier proclamation.
“Poppy’s right,” said Arthur, “Peter’s health comes first. Dedalus, isolate the keyboards in every track and queue the set list.”
“Try to keep in time,” Sirius added.
“No improvising for tonight, lads,” Arthur warned the regular band members.
“And so am I!” he could only maintain a straight face for two and a half seconds after he said this.
James sighed as they waited for the DJ to introduce them half an hour later, “It’s not going to be the same without Peter.”
“We’ll make the best of it, Jimbo,” Remus assured him, “and he’ll be back with us for the next one.”
The frontman set his jaw, pushed his glasses up his face and pulled the microphone to his lips.
Do you remember
The games we used to play
Aliens in outer space
Do you remember
The sticks we’d raise aloft
We called them swords and never
Lost the battles that we fought
Peter was back on stage the next night, to much celebration and all too soon, they flew back across the pond for their European leg. Of course, their first stop was Scotland.
“It’s so good to be home,” James sighed happily, pausing to wipe his glasses on the hem of his shirt and winking at a girl who lost it at the sight of his abdomen, “This is our last song. Please join in if you know the words. Or make them up. Just have a good time. Be as loud as you want to. We love you all, thank you for everything you’ve done for us. We’re the luckiest boys in the world.”
Is there a risk to it?
Is it a challenge?
If there isn’t, if it isn’t, I don’t want it
Yeah, I wanna do some damage
I feel lucky tonight
I got you by my side
Seven days in a week
And you spend them with me
So hell yeah, I feel lucky
"That sounds really good, Pete," said James from where he lay on the floor of their stage after the arena emptied, "We could use that."
Peter chuckled, "It's Chopin. A waltz."
James ambles over and his friend makes room for him on the bench.
"It's a split C chord, then F, A flat..." he guides him through the song. It's out of time and messy, but they're having fun. "James…"
"What are we going to do about Tom Riddle's offer? I mean, his dad’s label practically owns half the music industry. And Castle is just this little independent… He could make our lives more difficult than he already has."
"Unless we join him, you're thinking?"
"We could ask Arthur to negotiate a group contract just the same. I doubt they'll dislike the idea of paying less upfront."
"But what about loyalty to everyone at Castle? McGonagall? Urquart?" James shook his head, "We're having a successful tour in spite of the ticket bots Riddle set on us. We're looking out into seas of fans all wearing our merch in spite of his shipment hijacking. And we're having bloody good time because we're not letting any of the homophobic slander he's fueled the press with get to us."
"Here, here!" cheered Sirius, clinking his beer bottle with his boyfriend's.
"Right, rest up, lads! You deserve it with all the work you put into this show," James stood and ambled back to the tour bus, where Shacklebolt was already sleeping soundly, being the earliest riser of them all.
“Goodnight, all!” Peter loved his friends, truly. But he was convinced their stubborn sense of the meaning of courage would do them a great disservice.
As always when confronted with a decision to make, he visited the only jazz bar in Scotland, the Leaky Kettle. Immediately upon stepping inside, he let the smooth piano carry away the stress.
“The usual,” he told the bartender.
“Put it on my tab,” Tom Riddle swivelled around on the bar stool, "Fancy meeting you here."
"You mean you didn't expect to? Didn't plan it?" Peter received his drink with barely more than a sideways glance at their adversary.
"It's just business, Peter. I know you understand that."
"Then why go through all this trouble for one act? There must be thousands - hundreds of thousands - of talented artists who could make you rich."
Tom rolled his eyes, "My father was always… a bit single-minded. He wants to put me through my paces before handing me the keys to the kingdom, so to speak. But don’t worry about that. Just know this: I think your group is talented and I can see that you’re the musical glue holding it all together. You’re the only one with any formal training, after all. And I really can see to your career’s longevity. If you stick with this boyband too long, though…”
Peter raised his eyebrows, “Then what?”
“Well,” the label executive leaned in, “then you’ll need to think about what that does to your image as a real, serious musician.”
The blond boy finished his drink.
“Another one for my friend,” Tom told the bartender, took his jacket, and left.
His calling card sat heavy in the keyboardist’s wallet.
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Catherine, Heathcliff, and Shangri-la
PART TEN OF THE DO YOU SEE HER FACE? SERIES
Pairing: Jess Mariano x Original Character (Ella Stevens)
Warnings: mentions of death, smoking, plentiful pop culture references
Word Count: 4.9K
Summary: Though she plans to spend her birthday alone, Ella ends up passing time on the late August evening with Jess, eating old pie and playing cards.
She looked like a dream in her sundress. Late August light bathed the crowds at the summer festival, and Ella practically glimmered when Jess spotted her from across the square. It made him feel like an idiot thinking the way he was, but she had an effect on him which he’d previously only read about in books. He wasn’t sure exactly when the tipping point had been, when he’d truly fallen in love with her, passed the point of no return. But he had. And he was. He loved a girl who didn’t believe in love, who wasn’t into dating, who didn’t feel the same. It had never been so complicated before, and he’d never been so completely screwed. There were moments, times when his heart nearly burst from the hope. When she laughed at one of his wiseass remarks, or ran her fingertips over the notes he’d left in the margins of her poetry books, or let her eyes linger on him for just a second too long. But each time, she would brush it off, act like nothing had happened. And he’d be forced to wonder if he’d imagined the electricity passing between them.
Slowly, over the course of the summer, he was beginning to come to terms with it. Maybe they could just be friends, coworkers. Maybe all he needed was to make out with Shane until his lips were swollen and his mind was blank and his memory would be wiped clean of all the times Ella had made him feel deeper than he ever had before. Besides, he had never fallen in love before, had never uttered the three fateful words in all his seventeen years. A small part of him believed he could snap out of it easily.
He took his eyes back from her form, concentrating on the girl in front of him. The girl who wanted him and nothing more. Who meant nothing but ease and pleasure. Sliding his hands down in her back pockets, Jess closed his eyes and placed kisses down Shane’s neck, the bark of the tree they leaned on rough against his back.
. . .
“She’s back with a vengeance!” Ella exclaimed, wrapping her arms around Rory in a gleeful embrace.
They stood together near a flower stand, the fragrant display adding sweetness to the air. Despite the barber shop quartet droning on in the background, Ella felt her spirits lift at the sight of Rory Gilmore, her confidant missing in action over the summer at an internship in Washington. In the back of her mind, Ella couldn’t help reminding herself that soon, she would have to deal with the constant separation. Rory would be off at Harvard, Lane would be touring with her band (hopefully), and Ella would be stuck. As she always had been. She’d have to fill Rory in on how the college applications were going later.
Rory laughed happily, pulling away from Ella and holding her at an arm’s length. “Yes, and with all the hot DC gossip.”
“I’m intrigued,” Ella said, raising an eyebrow.
From behind them, Lorelai beamed, her own face painted with joy, her daughter back in town. Ella loved that about summer. It had a special kind of magic no other season could manage, positivity radiating from everyone, dampened only by the occasional rainy day.
“Alright, let’s go find Lane, and we are in for a movie night of epic proportions!” Lorelai announced, strolling around the square with the two teens in tow.
Before they departed completely, however, Rory followed Ella’s distracted gaze to the old oak where Jess stood, eating his girlfriend’s face.
“Oh, God!” Rory exclaimed, scrunching up her face in disgust.
Ella blushed, Rory having noticed her staring. She hadn’t meant to. But seeing the two of them together, considering the many fights with Shane the summer had brought, gave her a feeling of irritated uneasiness. Like a car crash she couldn’t look away from. Morbid interest feeding morbid interest in a vicious, voyeuristic cycle.
Tilting her head to the scene in question, Lorelai scoffed. “Guess he’s got his ‘What I Did This Summer’ essay all planned out.”
“I know,” Ella groaned. “America’s youth really does have such admirable modesty.”
Snorting a laugh, Rory shot a knowing look at her mother. “Have they been at that a lot?”
Ella nodded, speeding up in her stride a little to get out of view of the display. “Yep. It’s now part of the Early Bird Special at the diner. Dinner and a show.”
Lorelai faked a gag. “I told you. The kid gives off major Sid Vicious vibes.”
“Looks like he’s found his Nancy,” Rory added.
“And he’s been so weird at work lately. He barely talks to me, just sits on his little stool. Reading, brooding, scaring off small children. Maybe I pissed him off. I don’t know,” Ella said. She fiddled with the chain of her necklace.
“Um….Ella?” Rory began, bringing a hand to the blonde girl’s shoulder. “Do you not realize you’re the Catherine to his Heathcliff?”
Ella scoffed, laughing breathily. “What?”
“He’s totally into you!” Lorelai exclaimed.
Raising a brow, Ella rolled her eyes and kept walking. She crossed her arms over her chest defiantly. “Very funny.”
“Every time he looks at you…” Lorelai said, feigning a swoony look. “It’s sickening.”
“Yeah, right. I bet it’s Rory he’s into,” Ella argued, shrugging them off once more.
“Oh really?” Rory asked skeptically. “Then why does he make those notes in your margins? In the poetry books he said he hated when he first got here?”
“It’s mutually assured destruction,” Ella explained. “If he stops taking a chance on poetry, I’ll stop taking a chance on the beats. The arguments would ensue, the diner would descend into chaos. In an effort to avoid certain death during our shifts together, we compromise.”
“Ah, the key to a strong relationship’s foundation,” Lorelai retorted.
Snorting a laugh, Ella shook her head. Without the flowers and the serenity of solitude, the less desirable aspects of the festival began to wear on Ella’s psyche. The barber shop quartet spun around and around in her head, making her dizzy, and the sun beat down on them. Stray strands of hair, fallen from her bun, began to stick to her damp forehead.
Suddenly, an idea occurred to Ella. “Rory, my dear?”
“Yes?” Rory answered with suspicion.
“You know how you always give me presents on my birthday even though I tell you not to?” Ella asked.
“I’m aware of the annual birthday commiseration,” Rory said, nodding.
“Well, I’d like to request, as a birthday present for your favorite waitress, a moratorium on the Jess talk until I am seventeen years and one day old,” Ella suggested, fluttering her eyelashes jokingly.
Sighing, Rory linked her arm with Ella’s. “Alright, but only because you asked so very nicely.”
“Good to have you back, Thelma,” Ella smiled fondly, pulling her friend a little closer.
“Same to you, Louise.”
Lorelai chuckled and shook her head, watching as the girls ascended the steps to Lane’s door.
. . .
Mercifully, Ella had made it through the day with minimal birthday wishes and no attempts at gift-giving. Lorelai and Rory had teased her about a surprise party, but she knew they wouldn’t truly dare. Instead of going home, where she knew she’d have to brave Fiona’s pathetic attempts at celebration, she wandered around town aimlessly. It made her feel guilty to snap at the woman so much, but she just couldn’t help herself. Watching Fiona, only twelve years her senior, traipsing around in her house, humming the Dixie Chicks songs she knew her mother would’ve hated. Before she could apply any rational thought to the decision, she found her way to the bridge. The greenish-black water sparkled in glowing moonlight. Crickets sung and cicadas buzzed, a low summer tune. She hung her booted feet over the edge, the black cotton of her dress pooling around her knees. Rifling through her shoulder bag to the side, she found a copy of The Grapes of Wrath. A perfect book to sustain her gloomy mood. She laid back against the wooden planks of the pier, holding the novel above her face, blocking out the view of the clear night. The humidity had dissipated, and a cool breeze blew past her.
A few peaceful moments had passed before she heard footfalls thumping heavily, vibrating beneath her back. She sighed as the noise got closer, letting the book fall to her chest and rolling her eyes.
“Stealing my spot, huh?” Jess spoke up as he approached, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans.
“Sorry, didn’t realize you’d bought the property.”
Though Ella still hadn’t looked over at him, she heard him sit down next to her. She could smell the subtle mixture of hair gel and pine.
“By all means, sit down,” she snapped, sitting up again, placing her scrap of construction paper back in the book to save her place. She stuffed it back in her bag to the left. Fiddling with the end of the loose braid which hung over her shoulder, she sighed again.
Jess scoffed. “Jeez, Daria. Don’t pull your punches.”
“Bite me, Jess,” she replied flatly, staring out across the water. In the light, she knew she would’ve been able to watch schools of tiny grey fish whizzing by. As a child, she’d imagined small mermaids living in a crystalline village beneath the surface of the dull silt and sand.
“Feelin’ pithy tonight?” he drawled, an eyebrow raised.
“You could say that.”
He only nodded, leaning back on his palms. Silence stood between the two of them, heavy in the nighttime air. Ella almost put her nails to her mouth, then thought better of it. When Jess still didn’t speak, she huffed out a big breath and finally tossed him a glance.
“Don’t you have someone to verbally abuse at the diner or a girlfriend’s face to suck or something?” she asked.
Jess shot her a look. Before he could even respond, Ella spoke again.
“As long as you’re here, could you loan me a cigarette?” she asked, a shameful blush coloring her cheeks. As much as the request embarrassed her, she couldn’t stand the way her skin was crawling.
“What?” Jess blurted out, eyes wide. “What happened to the periodic surgeon general’s warnings?”
She sighed, dropping her gaze to her lap and clearing her throat. “I’ve gotta keep you on your toes, don’t I?”
Though slightly flabbergasted, Jess’s eyes shone fondly, remembering the carriage ride they’d taken at the Bracebridge dinner so many months ago. After a moment, he produced a crumpled packet and a lighter from his pocket and handed them to her.
“Thank you,” she muttered, placing a cigarette between her lips. It surprised her that he actually obliged, considering how stand-offish he’d been at work lately. The lighter struck on the first try, the small orange flame flickering warmly in the darkness. And Jess could tell immediately it was far from the first time she’d smoked. She handed the supplies back to him.
He took a cigarette of his own and lit it up.
“Don’t tell Luke,” she said, voice slightly husky as she exhaled the first puff of smoke. Her words came out in dim blue clouds.
“I wouldn’t dare,” he replied, tapping ash into the lake and watching it burn out. “Your secret is safe, Stevens.”
“Thanks. I’ll consider it a birthday present,” she grumbled, feeling the familiar burn of smoke in her chest. She knew she would regret the decision in the morning.
“It’s your birthday?”
“Happy birthday,” he said reflexively, eyebrows raised.
Scoffing bitterly, Ella flicked ash off her cigarette with her thumb. “Thanks, Mariano.”
“Is that why you’re gonna bite my head off at the next wrong move?”
She laughed humorlessly. “Yeah, birthdays aren’t my thing.”
“Huh. And I guess that’s why no one said anything at work?”
Ella nodded. “Yeah, after a few crying customers last year, Luke ordered the diner a birthday-free zone.”
“Wise of him.”
Regarding her in the moonlight, Jess sighed. “Any particular reason for the birthday allergy?”
Swallowing harshly, Ella brought her free hand to her necklace and a smirk formed on her face. “It’s just...my mom was a big birthday person. Without her here, it just all feels a little artificial. It’s weird. The anniversary of the day she died never hits me as hard as Mother’s Day, or today.”
He nodded, solemn as she continued.
“I try to spend as little time at home as I can. And Rory and Lorelai always try to get me to do something,” she said, pausing to inhale deeply and blow out a stream of smoke. “But I am nothing if not pertinacious.”
“Nice. Ten-cent word.”
“Thanks. Used it in the crossword this morning. I’d say it’s at least twenty cents,” she said, scoffing in mock offense.
Jess chuckled. “Alright, I’ll cave for the birthday girl.”
“How kind of you.”
Crushing the smoldering butt of her cigarette on the weathered bridge wood, Ella exhaled out her nose and crossed one leg over the other. She smoothed her hands over her dress. Somewhere, a loon cried. Jess sat quietly beside her, the last of his cigarette glowing as he inhaled. When he put it out, he stood up and made to leave. Ella didn’t say a word, didn’t even look at him. After a second of thought, he held a hesitant hand out to her.
“Let’s go back to the diner,” he proposed with finality. “We can eat the leftover pie. There will be no birthday talk whatsoever. I promise.”
Looking at his hand, Ella thought of the book in her bag. The hours she could spend alone with nothing but Steinbeck to entertain her. But then, she felt a sudden rush of courage at the thought of Luke’s. Free of people, with pastries under the glass domes on the counters and stale pies in the back fridge. And Jess. She heaved a sigh, then slung her bag over her shoulder and grabbed his hand.
. . .
“No way,” Jess said, shaking his head doubtfully as he took another bite of the pie.
Ella smiled, nodding. “I swear. I was named the worst dancer out of all the little girls ever taught at Miss Patty’s by the Gazette. I was responsible for the domino incident of 1992 which caused two sprained ankles and one broken arm. Suffice it to say, the arm was mine.”
“Jesus,” Jess laughed, his eyebrows raised.
“Yeah, I’m Patrick Swayze’s worst nightmare.”
Jess rolled his eyes and threw his head back with a dramatic groan. “I’ll never understand your fixation with those cheesy eighties movies.”
“You bite your tongue, heathen,” she said lightly, digging another bite from the cold apple pie in the tin between them.
“Well, at least we can agree on Steinbeck,” he shrugged through a laugh.
She nodded and sighed tiredly, brought a hand to her necklace.
The diner shone brightly against the otherwise dark landscape of Main Street. Ella could hear Luke snoring from all the way upstairs, but it was almost comforting if not amusing. With the leftover pie between them, she and Jess sat alone amongst chairs stacked on tables and cutlery put away. It smelled vaguely of disinfectant, but the pine was still there, making her heart feel just a touch less broken. Maybe being alone wasn’t the best way to pass one of the hardest days of her year.
“I’m surprised she still even lets you step foot in the studio, leaving that much carnage in your wake,” Jess said, smirking at the way the tension slowly released from her shoulders.
Snorting a laugh, Ella took another bite of the pie. She could tell it was made from her recipe, heavy on the cinnamon. “Well, the years have improved my coordination a little bit.”
“But have they?” he teased.
“Shut up,” she retorted, good nature in her voice.
A comfortable pause filled the air. Jess’s eyes caught her thin fingers still rolling the silver chain of her necklace. She blew up a long breath and straightened up, putting her fork back down in the tin, the half-pie almost all the way gone.
Nodding, Jess swallowed dryly and bit at his lip. “Why do you wear that necklace every day?”
Eyes widening, Ella couldn’t help but feel taken aback by the question. She let out a self-conscious scoff and her hand immediately dropped away from her collar. The small silver charm, a key, glinted in the yellow diner light.
“My grandmother gave it to me,” she explained, her tone even though she avoided his eyes. “It’s the key to the jewelry box she had when she was little. The box got lost, but the key stayed. She was a singer. Friends with Miss Patty. Pretty fucking cool.”
Jess smiled a tiny smile. “Sounds like it.”
“Yeah,” she replied, the word a sigh. Then, after a beat, she regained her direct nature and looked him in the eye. “Okay, since we’re asking questions tonight: why the hell are there bongos on the shelf above your desk?”
Jess laughed, but his cheeks reddened a touch. “Those were there when I moved in. Scout’s Honor.”
She rolled her eyes. “You are the last person in the world they would ever let into the Scouts.”
“Wow, that one hurt.”
Ella smiled. “Then what’s Luke doing with those bongos?”
“Preparing for a Matthew McConaughey,” Jess shot back knowingly.
“Ugh, that image is gonna be burned in my mind forever,” she groaned, nose scrunching up in disgust.
“Fuck you,” she said, grinning.
“Right back at ya.”
Suddenly, a loud snore came from the floor above them.
“Speaking of,” Ella grumbled, only in mock irritation.
“Like you don’t snore.”
“Only when I’m drunk,” she said, then looked up at him, accusatory. “But you. Oh my god, it was all night long. Really, the two of you put together could probably break some sonic records.”
Instead of retorting, Jess retrieved his weathered deck of cards from one of his jean pockets. He raised his eyebrows as a challenge and began shuffling. “Just for that last comment, you’re about to be massacred at Rummy.”
. . .
A knot of anxiety sat in her stomach, but work was helping her keep it at bay. It was the last Saturday of summer, Monday the start of senior year. But the waves of butterflies fluttering around in her chest weren’t ones of nervousness, more only of dread. The constant drudgery of school work, the monotony of the day. She liked summer for more reasons than the mood and the weather. Free time to read, to draw, to paint. And she much preferred painting the full greenery over the desolate landscapes of a Connecticut winter. The fact she hadn’t seen Jess since the night before, when she left the diner satisfied with herself for winning three hands in a row, was doing nothing to calm her either. After cleaning up from the breakfast rush, Ella was mindlessly reorganizing the mugs on the cubby shelf to the left of the counter by color and size.
“Alright, this is ridiculous,” Luke admonished, walking up behind her.
She scoffed. “It’s not my fault these mugs haven’t been reorganized since Reagan was president.”
“Because they were the last ones you hadn’t got your hands on. You’re starting to sound like Taylor.”
Instantly, she turned and narrowed her eyes at him. “The next time you say that to me I’m turning in my apron and never looking back!”
Luke scoffed in disbelief at her dramatics. “Just take your break, Ella.”
“You think I’m bluffing,” she warned, untying her apron and leaving it on the hook near the kitchen window, “but I’m dead serious.”
“I’m quaking in my boots,” Luke replied flatly, gathering some receipts from the side of the cash register.
“I bet,” she shot back, rounding the corner and going to dig through her bag, hanging by the front door. “Is Jess here? I’ve got a book for him.”
“Upstairs,” Luke said shortly.
Retracting her hand from the shoulder bag, with a worn collection of Dorothy Parker, she rolled her eyes. She tucked her hair behind her ears and prepared to disappear behind the checkered curtain on the way to the stairs.
“Has anyone ever told you you’re a master conversationalist?” she asked.
“Shaddup,” he groaned, waving an annoyed hand at her in the direction of the apartment.
Ella snickered, then bounded up the stairs, the soles of her old converse a little slippery on the creaking wood. She heard the TV droning on from inside, daytime Saturday shows. Only a couple short knocks sounded on the door before she let herself in, as she had so many times before when fetching random items during her shifts.
“Hey, Jess-” she began, turning to the left, Jess’s room.
Cut off by a sudden flash of noise, she watched Jess stuff a blue mesh vest quickly into the top drawer of his dresser. Eyes wide with surprise, he faced her with a scowl, brows scrunched up.
“Ever hear of knocking, Daria?” he snapped.
Processing the scene before her, Ella blinked a couple times and bit the inside of her cheek. “Sorry. Guess I was too quiet.”
“Apparently.” He crossed his arms over his Punk Planet t-shirt and looked at her expectantly. “You need something?”
Ella cleared her throat, looking down at the book in her hands. “Yeah, I had that Dorothy Parker I was telling you about last night and…” she paused, glancing at his dresser. “I’m sorry, Jess, but I simply can’t ignore this. Was that a Walmart vest?”
“You heard me.”
He straightened up, defensively. “No.”
“You heard me,” he shot back.
Pursing her lips, she nodded, unconvinced. She stepped a little closer to him, one hand on the hip of her skirt. “So, what was it?”
“A shirt with a Walmart logo on it?” she asked, her voice gaining a teasing lilt.
Jess scoffed. “I think you need glasses.”
A momentary staring contest ensued, and she watched him squirm under her hazel gaze. “Do you work at Walmart, Jess?”
Sighing through his nose, Jess glared at her. Then, he ran a hand through his hair and side-stepped Ella, making his way to the kitchen. “Fine. Yes. You happy?”
Instantly, a smile spread wide on her face. “Oh, so very happy.”
“Glad to hear it,” he growled, avoiding eye contact as he popped open a can of soda. He sat down at the kitchen table, facing the I Dream of Jeannie rerun.
Biting back her giggles, Ella came over to take the rickety kitchen chair next to him. Clearing her throat, she put the book in her hand on the table between then. She smoothed her slightly wrinkled Patti Smith t-shirt and tried to appear nonchalant, a smirk ever-present on her lips. Jess sipped his soda, eyes dark and moody, embarrassment underneath a thin layer of irritation. Nearly five minutes passed on the oven clock in the small kitchen, both of them watching Barbara Eden’s foibles in silence. Ella bit a little at her nails, but only to mask her amused expression.
“So...all this time...Shangri-la was Walmart?” she asked.
Jess sighed, rolling his eyes. “Eleanor-”
“You work at Walmart,” she repeated, chuckling a little.
“Whatever. You smoke,” he countered.
“Like, twice a year,” she said defensively. “When did you even start that job?”
Bowing his head slightly, Jess finally dropped the act a bit. “June. When you were in New Britain.”
She sighed, nodding, then brought a hand to his arm. “I’m really proud of you. I mean, you can’t waste all your people skills at the diner.”
Jess shook her off and rolled his eyes again. “Shut up. I move stock around on a fork-lift in the back.”
“Okay, tough guy.”
“And don’t tell Luke,” he said, finally looking her in the eye.
She shrugged. “Fine, I won’t. Cross my heart.”
“Thank you,” he snapped.
“You’re very welcome,” she replied, still grinning. “Seriously, though, it’s not that lame. Trust me. I think it’s cool. You have your own thing going, y’know?”
Jess scoffed in doubt but said nothing more.
Clearing her throat, Ella shifted her eyes down to her lap for a second, the tone of her voice changing. “But enough about your double-life, Mr. Bond. I just wanted to bring you that book. And also thank you for last night.”
Jess raised a brow, eyes on the TV screen. “For what?”
“I don’t know. If you hadn’t come along, my plan was to read Steinbeck at the lake, then sneak home and listen to Nirvana through my headphones,” she explained. “But instead I got to eat old pie and kick your ass at cards.”
“Such a sore winner,” he muttered, cracking a little smirk.
She laughed quietly, her fingers finding their way to her necklace. “And sorry if I was...I don’t usually talk about my mom. Not exactly a crowd-pleasing topic. Just on Mother’s Day and my birthday, I...You didn’t have to listen.”
“Don’t worry. I don’t do things I don’t wanna do,” he said, casting her a momentary glance, a small, lopsided smile on his face. It was more genuine than she was prepared for, and she had to look away as her cheeks heated up.
Rising from the table, she made to leave, hoping not to overstay her welcome. “Anyway, thanks. It was the best birthday I’ve had in awhile.”
Running a hand over his mouth, Jess blew out a breath and faced her fully again. “Anytime, Stevens.”
He looked as though he were about to say something more, but she could practically see him swallow it down. Instead, he got up from his seat and switched off the TV. Going over to his side of the apartment, she watched him grab a CD from the top of a small stack on his dresser. She couldn’t quite read the cover, but could see it was filled with shades of black and red.
“How long do you have left on your break?”
Ella looked down at her watch then back up at him. “Still have about twenty minutes.”
He nodded, gesturing to the CD. “I get fifteen percent off at the store, so I picked this up the other day. Just came out. It made me think of you. I thought you might wanna listen?”
“Oh,” she said dumbly, surprised. She nodded. “Yeah, yeah, sure. As long as it’s not jazz.”
“It’s not,” Jess assured her, chuckling.
As he opened his closet and brought out the small stereo, she took a few steps closer, arms crossed. She couldn’t help the fluttering in her chest or the way her cheeks flushed with heat. In all the time she’d known Jess, she couldn’t remember ever feeling quite so anxious around him. Quite so antsy. She almost couldn’t explain the feeling, but it wasn’t one she minded.
“I would’ve shown you last night if I knew it was your birthday,” he mentioned as he pressed play.
As the music started, he suddenly didn’t know what to do with himself. Sit on the bed? On his desk chair? Instead, he leaned on the desktop itself, hands stuffed in his pockets. He regretted the decision already, showing her the music. He’d meant to do it at some point, during one of their friendly book exchanges. But then the air between them had become charged again, and she was about to walk away from the moment. He wanted it to last just a little longer, time with the one person in Stars Hollow he actually enjoyed being with. Even if she didn’t feel quite the same as him, even if she never would.
Ella felt the slight vibrations of the music in the soles of her soles as she stepped closer to the stereo, picking up the CD case from his dresser. She turned it over in her hands. Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol. It surprised her she hadn’t heard of them before; Lane usually kept her in the know about such things. They must have been very young, very new. But she liked it, the echoing guitars and the drums. Judging from the back cover, the song to which they now listened was simply called “Untitled.”
“They’re good,” she said, putting the case back down. “Different. I like it.”
Jess shrugged. “Figured you would. What with all that sad shit you listen to. The other songs are a little more lively. They’re no Fleetwood Mac, but…”
Walking closer still, she stopped when she was only a couple feet in front of him. Her heart beat with the music, and she swallowed dryly. Something was clicking in her head.
He looked up, and his brown eyes locked with hers. “Yeah?”
Before she could rethink it, before she could talk herself out of it, before she could silence her heart with her head, she brought a hand to the back of his neck and kissed him. His shock was sudden but brief. Almost immediately, he wound his arms around her waist. And he was kissing back, sweetly, gently at first, then deeper. She was flush against him, smiling into it. The music beat quietly around them, and his grip was warm, and his lips felt exactly right. Ella wanted it to never end, for the moment to last forever, alive, and never cross over and turn to mere memory.
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It’s a Parent Thing
Pairing Sam x Reader
Other characters include Dean, Cassie (OFC), Jackie (OFC), Castiel, Jack, Mary, Donna, Jody, Claire
@teamfreewillbingo – Sam wears makeup
@as-the-saying-goes-bingo – laughter is the best medicine
Warnings: PG audience mostly. Maybe some fluff, hints of future smut, light language moments, the joys of being a parent
Final word count: 1546
“Mommmmmmy!” The 5-year-old girl to whom the voice belongs comes running around the corner into the kitchen. “Where’s dad?”
I shrug. “I don’t know, but he can’t be far. Did you check the library?”
Cassie shakes her head. “Not yet. Do you think Uncle Dean is in there too?”
A giggle escapes my lips. “It’s Uncle Dean. He’s more likely to be in the garage.”
“Thanks!” she shouts and runs off, leaving me wondering what she’s up to. No sooner do I go back to preparing dinner when Jackie comes running in. He looks up at me, then looks around the kitchen, and I know he’s looking for Cassie. I point toward the library and he hurries after her.
Now I’m really wondering. Those two can get into some pretty interesting crafts when they’re bored. Being cooped up with this pandemic has got them so wired, it’s a wonder I’m still sane. Mind you, Jody, Donna, and even Claire help a lot, plus of course, Grandma. Mary loves the kids, and spoils them rotten every chance she gets.
Oh yeah, the kids…well, better go check what’s up. Dinner isn’t going to be ready for a while, so there’s plenty of time to investigate. I make it to the library just as Cassie is talking…no more like pleading with Sam to do something.
“Pleeeaaasseeee??? C’mon Dad, you gotta. It’s not going to work with only one person. You and Uncle Dean have to help.”
I almost die laughing when he responds, “I’d love to help Cassie, honest. But guys don’t typically wear makeup.” Then he looks toward the door. “Did you ask Auntie Donna or Aunt Jody? Or how about Claire? She would love to be in the beauty pageant.”
Oh God, I’m pissing myself now. Cassie is persistent though. “Claire’s already in it, and Auntie Donna and Aunt Jody are the judges. So that leaves you, Uncle Dean, Uncle Cas, and Jack.”
I choose this moment to pop in. “She’s bored Sam. She’s looking for something to do. And she wants her dad to help. I think you’d be perfect.”
He gives me a ‘just wait till we’re alone’ look before smiling at his daughter. “Ok. I’ll come help, and I’ll even convince Uncle Dean to help. How’s that sound?”
Squeals of delight followed Cassie as she skipped cheerfully out and down the hall, Jackie close behind. Sam glared in my direction. “You owe me big time for this.” Then he kissed me and followed the two youngsters.
After having a huge fit of laughter, I sought out Jack and Cas, telling them to prepare for something fun, then went looking for Mary. She’d be thoroughly dismayed if she missed this.
I find Mary in the weapons room, cleaning guns. I sit beside her and pick up a cloth and a barrel from the glock she’s currently working on. “Hey Mom. S’up?”
She smiles at my greeting. My own mother passed away years ago, and Mary has been nothing but amazing to me since. “Not much. I heard the kids are up to something.”
I giggled. “That’s an understatement.” I tell her what I heard and what Cassie was asking Sam. “Want to see this?”
She puts the chamber down. “Definitely. And I’m bringing the camera.”
“Me too.” I say as we head out to the family room.
According to Donna, the ‘show’ starts in about 20 minutes. The ‘contestants’ are still getting ready. I’m literally dying inside. Of all the things for the kids to come up with, a beauty pageant. I’m not just going to take pictures, I’m filming the whole damn thing.
Jack agreed to be a contestant as well, saying he felt sorry for Sam and Dean. I smile. Jack is great with the kids as well. He seems fascinated by the simplicity of playing pretend, and imagining things.
Jackie comes out a few minutes after we all get seated. “Nuncing our beuty pajent.” We all giggle. Jackie is three, still struggling with pronunciation, so conversations with him are never dull.
Cassie comes out first and pretends to hold a microphone. “First contestant, Miss Claire.”
Claire comes out strutting to her own beat, hand on hip as she twirls around to show off her outfit and makeup. Her hair (I’d say done by Jackie) has a hap-hazard ponytail sticking out the top of her head, and numerous fake flowers. Claire’s outfit was a 40’s style dress, no doubt taken from a huge prop room the former MoL occupants had stashed. It was quite flattering on her actually, the rich burgundy velvet was a beautiful contrast to her fair skin.
Jack came out next, and we had to hold in our laughter. Jack was wearing a gold color suit, like very shiny glittery gold, and had little barrettes in his hair. He had lipstick and some eye shadow, both various shades of red. His shoes were actually pink flats, also very shiny, and very neon. We clapped and cheered for the way Jack managed a graceful walk down the runway, then waited for the next round.
“Our third contestant, Uncle Dean!”
Dean came out in a whirlwind of color and lace. He lightly skipped down the runway, hand on hip, while making kissy faces to everyone. Even Castiel was doubled over with laughter. I had tears running down my face now. His hair had been covered in a flowery hat, bright orange, and was wearing a really eye-catching shade of purple on his lips.
“And, our star contestant, Dad!”
I nearly fell off the couch as I doubled over with laughter. Tears rolled freely now, my sides hurt, but I couldn’t help it. Sam was in a frilly pink cocktail dress, satin with tulle gathered around the bottom, mermaid style. His legs were encased in shiny tights, and he wore matching pink sandals. His makeup was the best, I’m guessing Claire had some input on this one. Sam had glitter over the bottom of his eyelids, shadowed by a light pink and a touch of silver. His cheeks were toned in a pale coral, and his lips wore a lip gloss of the palest pink. I say Claire had some input because he had fake lashes glued to his eyelids. They were silver and pink tinted long lashes. His outfit was completed with silver barrettes and a pink flower in his hair, and white lace gloves.
I was so glad I was filming the entire thing. Sam made his way down the aisle with as much grace and dignity as he could muster, giving the audience smiles, winks and blowing kisses to all. He looked so adorable, although I was pretty sure he was going to kill me later, still I was glad I’d convinced him to participate.
The contestants came back on stage, waiting for the judges to finish their scoring. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the judges stood.
“In third place, we have Uncle Dean!”
Dean, bless him, smiled and waved to everyone as he walked over to receive his ‘medal’ and bouquet. He really did love the kids, there’s no way he’d have done this otherwise.
“In second place, we have a tie! Jack and Claire!”
The two second place contestants walked over to the judges and were awarded their medals and bouquets. There was only one left.
“And, in first place, Dad!”
We stood and cheered as Sam smiled and blew kisses to everyone, walking over to the judges’ desk and receiving his awards. He bowed and curtseyed. It was a beautiful sight. My husband…or was it wife now…I’d be teasing him about that later, if I lived that long. Cassie gave him a huge hug, and also gave hugs and thanks to the other contestants as well. Dean smiled and genuinely hugged them back. So did Sam, and Jack and Claire.
While the contestants got cleaned up and changed, and the living room area got fixed up, I set about finishing dinner and dessert. The house was greeted at the dining table with fried chicken, baked potatoes, all the fixings, and cherry pie. Salad and dressings were also available. There was one personal cherry pie for each of the ‘contestants’, and two more big ones for everyone to share.
Dean gave me a kiss on the cheek later, thanking me for the dessert. I thanked him for helping the kids out, and he smiled. I retired to my room, finding Sam already there, a dark glint in his eyes as he ran his gaze over my body, then bringing his eyes to meet mine. Fuck.
“So, about that payment I mentioned…”
I giggled as he scooped me into his arms, kicking the door closed behind him. “You looked so cute today though.”
He growled as we fell on the bed together. He made sure I spent the entire night paying for his beauty makeover. Numerous times.
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Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero
From the 16th of this month, March 2020, to the 15th of next month, April 2020, Games with Gold has the excellent platformer – Shantae: ½ Genie Hero. As long as you have an active Xbox Live or Xbox Gamepass Ultimate subscription
It's “FREE” to download during that period but even after April 15th, you can keep playing it, it won't leave your library and if you let your subscription expire it will still remain, you just can't play it.
I have had Gamepass for about a year now, I wanted to kind of document my journey and time with games on Gamepass and one of the first that I played when I got the service last year was Shantae: ½ Genie Hero. Unfortunately, this game is no longer available on the service and I thought back in September of 2019 that I had lost my chance to talk about it in a relevant sense, but lo and behold its back now – kind of, in a zombie-esque way.
The game expiring from Gamepass was actually the launching point for me to a Switch. It was my birthday in September and Shantae was just about to be removed from the service, great present Microsoft. I was kind of depressed that in this moment in my life that I had spent about a quarter of a year playing the game that was just going to up and leave. Now I could have bought it and at a discount but if I did that I would be getting just the base game that I was practically done with. I also had all this extra money from my birthday burning a hole in my pocket and instead doing something smart like putting towards my mortgage – I ended up buying a Switch to cheer me up. And what does the Switch have but the physical version of Shantae: ½ Genie Hero that includes all the DLC.
THAT – and the fact that one of my favorite games of all time was just remade – Link's Awakening.
So I got those two games to cope with the fact that I wouldn't be able to play Shantae on Gamepass anymore in a few days ...but I had also gotten my wife a Switch Lite for our anniversary so I kind of wanted a reason to give it to them early and we had a Switcheversay on September 28th.
On a side note of this tangent – I feel like I'm always a little behind with Nintendo, with my earliest exposure to Nintendo being no different. Way back in the dark ages of the early 1990s I was a Genesis Lad. After school I was in a program where I first got to play a Nintendo game, there were NES consoles, games and Ataris as well. While kids at school were telling me, “YA GOTTA PLAY Donkey Kong Country 2 and Mega Man X!” The cutting edge stuff of the time, I would root around and find other games like Donkey Kong Jr. and Mega Man 2 on NES. Now don't get me wrong, those were great games I loved then and still love now but I was behind the times. I just didn't have a Super Nintendo, like most of my peers that I went to school with. I just had the Sega. So when most were playing Super Mario World, Chrono Trigger and A Link to Past – I was playing Sonic... Sonic (Sonic 2)... and Sonic... (Sonic 3 but not & knuckles)
BUT Sonic is great!
When my friends had a Gameboy Advance, I still had a Gameboy Color. When the DS was the hot handheld, I got a Gameboy Advance, I got a 3DS around the time Fire Emblem Fates came out when it seemed like everyone was clamoring for a new portable technology and I got a Wii U when it was all but dead. As previous stated, I only got a Switch last September. Heck, I haven't even played the new Mary-o yet
Pushing forwarding in the way back machine to the time when I was a still a young teen, at the age of 14, I remember a Gameboy Color game came out that I really wanted to get – Shantae. I don't even know why I really wanted it other than it was a new Gameboy Color game when new Gameboy Color games weren't coming out. Like, I remember the Gameboy Advance came out about a year ago but I didn't need one according to my parents-
Me: Mom, can I get a Gameboy Advanced?
Mom: You have Gameboy Advance at Home
So the impact of a new Gameboy Color game coming out - blew … me … away.
Of course - I didn't get that game either.
Now don't get me wrong, I still got games as a kid on birthdays and Christmas but I feel like the games I didn't get are the ones I look back at and think – If only...
(^I never had a Neo Geo but I wanted this game)
Love you Mom and Dad
Back to Shantae though
Tangents aside – why do I think I like this game?
Why is it when I played Half Genie Hero in June of 2019 did I really got hooked on it well until the end of summer? I play, play, played it – all the modes, collect the endings, the tedious achievements like Queen of the Seven Cheese where you have to beat Risky Boots by just chomping at her as a mouse doing 1 damage at at a time.... ugh! For achievements I even … gasp (teeth noise) … speed ran it. And successfully, not on my first attempt though! Or … at least successfully enough to get the endings and achievements. I've never speed ran a game before, at least on purpose. I drew bad fan art!
(^Unlike everything else on this post, I actually drew that [sorry])
For the first time in my life I even looked into Fan Fiction.
Which, on a side note, I don't recommend you look at most of the fan fiction that I’ve seen if you are at work.
The game really got its hooks into me and I'm not exactly sure why but I think I might know.
Well, it feels like a SEGA Genesis game – long story short.
Short story long - I think the best way to classify what kind of game this is, is Metroidvania. You have a mini map and you unlock powers that later allow you to explore the rest of the levels you had previous been to and there are collectibles and upgrades you can buy in game. As you play you can upgrade how Shantae attacks by purchasing upgrades for her hair whip attack or armor but the big mechanic is the transformations – you can turn into animals with varied attacks and abilities as well as some other inanimate objects and living things like this tree
- to help you better get across the stages and discover the secrets of Sequin Land.
I've also read its kind of Mega Man– ish which I had never really thought about before but yeah, because I do love some Mega Man. It has a lot of obstacles/the levels are kinds of obstacle courses like the early NES Mega Man games and there are two areas particularly in my mind – The factory in Mermaid Falls and the Hypno Baron's Castle part of the … Hypno Baron's Castle stage. Well most of it is actually like an obstacle course now that I think about it
The score is by Jake Kauffman and man, AND if I ever make a game I want that guy doing my music. I mentioned the factory part of Mermaid Falls before – the best track in the game and maybe even in any game I've ever heard is Counterfeit Mermaids, its such an earworm,
I feel like this song and Neo Town Burning are the two best games
You are going to be in the camp that one is better than the other (though Counterfeit Mermaids is clearly the superior track, ahem)
Its a great soundtrack, I find myself tuning into it during my commute to work and sometime even turning off my podcast or audio books to listen to this soundtrack (yes Even Neo Town Burning too). The game's lead voice actress according IMDB is Cristina Valenzuela (sometimes credited as Cristina Vee) who sings the games title theme that also appears in the first level, Scuttle Town the first time you play the level and also when you first boot up the game its there too. POW! Give it a listen – sample plays and fades. Its great. This soundtrack is really memorable and still in my rotation almost a year after I played it for the first time.
The characters themselves too are varied in personality and the styles are now toted as being“in high definition”.
Shantae is my least favorite but I think that works well in the sense of self insert. And that's not to say Shantae doesn't have a personality, she is kind of bubbly and she cares a lot about her ties such as to her family - such her uncle Mimic and her late mother - and to her friends. The three main friends that back Shantae during her journey (that also get their own adventure in the DLC)
Sky - a somewhat more responsible friend of your that is out to give you some counsel and a ride to each stage on her cool bird
Bolo – who offers a bit of comic relief
Rotty Tops the zombie that is a true friend that shows up to support you and cheer you on, in one time literally too.
By the way there is also Risky Boots (the best character, IMO) who is the larger than life antagonist to akin to a comic book villain.
But even with the “HD” graphics, and incredible score everything about just feels like … a Sega game. I can't really put it to words to do it justice, like, it has the essence of games I grew up with. I know a lot of people already had that nostalgia rush with Freedom Planet or Sonic Mania but I only just got Freedom Planet on Switch
Which is great so far, by the way
and Sonic Mania is on my to do pile
so for me – Shantae was it.
I felt that joy like I was 5 years old playing Sonic 2 for the first time. I took me something embarrassing like 8 hours to beat the first time. But after I beat it, I immediately wanted to play it again. I almost NEVER want to replay a game after I beat it – Best case is I take a break and play it again in a year. While it took me a laughable amount of hours to beat the game the first time but by the time I was really invested and on the 3rd or 4th time replaying it, I was completing it in under 2 hours. I was looking up speed running strats and Youtube videos of people speed running the game to compare and contrast how I played the game. I never, ever thought that I would speed run a game. Super Metroid still takes me an embarrassing number of hours to play and I've beat that almost as many times as Shantae now.
Having played both the Xbox One and Switch versions they look pretty similar and seem to play about the same. I noticed that the game seems to run a bit better on the Xbox One and the load times aren't as long
So I really recommend you get this game. I'm super jealous if you've never played it, you get to experience it for the first time! If you don't have an Xbox One but have a Switch you can get the physical version for pretty cheap, used I got this copy for about $20 and it has all the game content. And with the DLC you can finally play as Risky Boots!
It goes without saying that the game I am most excited for this year, 2020 is going to be Shantae and the Seven Sirens.
If you don't have an Xbox or a Switch, the game is also on PC too. Steam has sales, last time the Ultimate Edition was on sale it was only about $21 (show pic) and with a plug and play controls great.
And just as I was checking before posting this, it is on sale for $20.99 until March 30th, 2020
Its also on PS4, I guess if you don’t have any other options
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Chapter Four: The Longing
A/n: what should I call this series??
He was sitting in the pilot chair, new shirt draped over his form and his armor replaced when he heard her enter the cockpit. She lingered behind him for several moments before finally speaking up.
"You know, the kid and I dont need that much space. He's pretty small and so am I."
He knew what she was talking before she had even finished the sentence.
"You should take the bedroom." She said as she shifted behind him. There was no way he was letting that happen.
"You should stop worrying." He said softly, lifting his right hand to press a few buttons. Ever since he had woken up, she had been telling him everything he needed to do in order to heal correctly. When to reapply the healing ointment, how often to change his bandages, how he should be laying down, etc. He had to admit he was in a great deal of pain, but it wasnt anything he couldnt handle.
"But that gash... it was really bad and you need more space to properly heal. Being crammed into such a small space isnt good-"
"You talk a lot when you're worried." His words were a bit harsh but his tone was delicate.
She pursed her lips, staring intently at the back of the head rest. "I'm just- worried you wont heal properly because you arent dealing with it. You cant just ignore a wound like that. You really shouldnt even be out of bed."
"I've dealt with worse." His helmet turned slightly over his shoulder. "Alone."
"You have?" She said, concern and curiosity lacing her tone. She wanted to ask how but she wasnt sure she really wanted to know. Obviously, he had. He probably didnt have much of a choice in most situations.
Images of his bare chest replayed in her mind and she recalled the many scars that littered his body. Across his collarbones, more led down towards his chiseled and tense abs. Even some near the line of hair that led down to his- she rapidly shook her head.
"A-and I'm sure you had that big bed all to yourself." The words that extended from her throat sounded cloudy, even to her.
Mando was quiet for a while and y/n started to wonder if she had pushed too hard. Then as they exited hyperspace, she heard his murmur crack through the helmet.
"You deserve it."
"What?" She felt chills race up her spine. He put the Razor Crest on autopilot and swiveled in his chair to face her before standing up. The room started to feel incredibly small and almost distant but his voice was loud and clear.
"You deserve to have a bed. Especially after-"
"Dont say it." Her eyes were screwed shut, her fingers flexing open and closed. She exhaled harshly, "I dont need your pity."
He tilted his head, "Its not pity I'm giving you, it's my bed. Keep it."
She blew air past her lips, with a faint smile on her face. "If anyone here deserves a bed, its you. With how hard you work, everyday, on top of the kind of injuries you sustain."
"Where'd you learn how to bandage injuries so well anyway?" He asked trying to change the subject.
She noticed the obvious evasion of her statement but his question left her taken aback and stuttering.
"I-I used to be a nurse. For- for the elderly, mostly."
"Then as long as you're around, I wont need that bed." He tried reassuring her, mostly to get her to stop worrying and also to get her to drop giving up the bed. He didnt give her a chance to respond as he sat back down in his chair and navigated the ship towards a purple and green covered planet.
"Strap in." She did as she was told, settling into the seat just as the child waddled in. She scooped him up and buckled them both up. The ship jerked and dimmed as they entered the planet's atmosphere and landed smoothly on an open field.
After about a week on that beautiful green and purple planet, Mando had gone back to work and the next few months seemed to fly by. He rarely had any large injuries but the few times he did, he always went to y/n and allowed her to help patch him up. The few times he did, left her concerned during the day but at night... well it left her feeling something completely different. A familiar feeling but something she hadn't felt in a long time.
She had seen more skin on the mandalorian than she thought she ever would. Patching up his chest, legs and even his back left her curious about the rest of his tanned skin. It always seemed to be glistening with sweat just like hers was as she laid awake thinking about it. Her breathing picked up as she looked over at the other side of the bed. She silently thanked whatever deity possessed the child to sleep with Mando as she was about to do something she really didnt want to do near the kid.
Near the mandalorian though...
She ran with that thought as her hand slid down her stomach and into her panties as she spread her legs. She'd never actually masturbate in front of or around him but since both he and the child were sleeping, she figured she could release some built up tension.
Even when he was in his armor, she couldnt stop the thoughts that flowed from her brain straight to the pit of her stomach.
She thought about one particular occasion that happened a few days prior when he'd needed her care. How his fingers, free from the gloves, had trailed over her cheekbone, past her jaw and down her neck, resting on her shoulder. He had said something but she didnt hear a thing as she was too caught up in the fact that he had been the first to touch her with such gentle care in months.
His shirt was off, his body rid of all armor, except for his helmet. The pad of his thumb swept across her cheek and that gave her the courage to run her fingers down his torso. She swore she heard his breath hitch as she lightly dragged her nails down his pecs and abs, her hands stopping at the waistline of his trousers.
The intimate moment came crashing down when a soft cry came from their feet, both peered down to see the child rubbing his eyes in a sleepy manner. She excused herself and picked up the kid to put him back in bed. His clothes adorned his body again when she returned.
But what if they hadn't been stopped?
She imagined his hands sliding down to her chest, squeezing the flesh there. Her unoccupied hand filled with her own chubby mound as her hand in her underwear created smooth circles over you wet and sensitive skin. She thought about her fingertips going passed his waistline and-
She sighed as her fingers sped up. Soft moans escaped through her moistened lips. Her peak was coming up fast and she had to bite her lip in order to stay quiet, the only noise coming from her wet center. She gasped as she felt pleasure rippling through her body.
"Fuck," she breathed as she fell from her climax. Her chest heaved before she finally relaxed and drifted into sleep, Mando being the one to occupy her subconscious.
She woke with a start as a small hand suddenly grasped at her face. Big round eyes stared up at her as the little green face cooed and giggled. She relaxed with a smile and ran her thumb over his forehead.
"I tried to keep him downstairs so you could sleep but it seems like he missed you." Mandos deep voice echoed throughout the room. Y/n rubbed her eyes and swung her legs over the edge of bed, causing the blanket to be removed and reveal her bare legs.
"That's okay." She didnt seem to notice that she was half nude or the way the mandalorian tensed as she picked up the kid and began speaking to him. Or so Mando that she didnt notice but when she got up from the bed and walked into the kitchen, still cooing at the child, he realized she actually didn't seem to care.
A few months ago, the mandalorian himself wouldnt have been fazed by such a sight, considering he'd found her completely nude albeit under different circumstances. But as of late, he'd been seeing the young woman in a new light and he was unsure how to feel about it. Ever since he had that dream...
Her breathing hitched as his lips suckled against her neck. His fingers lightly caressed her hot core through her soft panties and he felt her fingers run through his strands of hair as her hips tilted up to grind against his fingers.
"M-Mando," She gasped as he circled her hardened bud with his fingertips. He paused when he heard the sound of a baby suddening crying. He pulled back and saw the sound coming from the woman that was underneath him and then he was jolting awake to the kid balling his eyes out.
Mando shook his head of those false memories that his subconscious forced upon him and marched straight to the cockpit, passing by his two passengers without a second glance.
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