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#canon compliant
apiratefellinlovewithastar · 38 minutes ago
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“Did he tell you how long?”
Aaron shakes his head. “I told him to take as much time as he needed.”
Dave’s lips are set in a grim line. He takes a deep breath. “At least I got a chance to say goodbye to Carolyn. I can’t imagine—”
He looks at him, and Aaron immediately knows what he’s thinking. He knows, because he’s doing it, too.
He thinks about Haley every single day.
About her courage, and how she was one of the bravest women he has ever known. About her smile and how contagious it was. About her eyes, and the way they would light up whenever Jack ran up to her before anyone else, the relief and affection they would transmit every time he got home after a long case.
About her voice, how she used her last words to ask him—demand; Haley stopped pleading for things long before they separated—to take care of Jack, give him hope; to tell him about how his parents fell in love. Teach him about the most important thing there is: to never let him forget how very loved he is.
About how he never got to say goodbye, either.
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pvandermeer409 · 5 hours ago
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Post Hogwarts next gen story
I wanna reiterate that I have nothing against people who enjoy the Cursed Child.
I was simply disappointed with it and thought I would try writing my own 'fix' for it. I did like some parts of it - like Hermione being minister, Albus being sorted into Slytherin, Albus and Scorpius being best mates, etc. What I didn't like was the time-travel centric plot, the butchering of certain personality traits (Harry telling Albus he wishes he wasn't his son? really?!), and the fact that Voldemort would intentionally have children. 
The good aspects were kept and layers were added to them in my own story. The bad ones, well, read for yourselves... 😉With that in mind, and with some kind advice I got from a random stranger, I would refer to my story as a second/next generation canon-compliant (though not with CC obviously) continuation of the series I love so much. 
You can find it here:
https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13823288/1/Harry-Potter-and-The-Lost-Child
and here:
https://archiveofourown.org/works/30081021/chapters/74086224 
Reviews/kudos/comments/suggestions/insults are always welcome! 
Doing a new chapter every other week bc I’m SUPER busy but I will probably start writing one per week once I'm done with my uni.
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glowstar826 · 11 hours ago
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More AU ideas
Sooo I have more to add to the story of Red, Ilya, and Kat! It’s not gonna be as long as my last post, but it’s basically the explanation of how Liz will eventually end up with Sam.
Instead of Katarina taking Masha to Sam, Red will after informing Ilya and Kat that he had a good friend from his childhood before moving to Russia. Since he’s an American citizen (I decided to keep him American — I’ll explain why he moved to Russia in a different post), it’s safer for him to walk out in the open. There’s no reason for Kat and Ilya to risk their lives. Of course, there will be tears and sadness, but Kat and Ilya trust Red with their lives, and by extension, Masha’s life. So, while Kat and Ilya would stay back at the motel, Red would drive to Nebraska with Masha.
If anyone asked, Masha would be Red’s daughter. It would be a fun game for Masha to pretend her Uncle Ray is her dad, and even though Red would know masquerading as father and daughter is necessary to hide, he’d find it fun, too. He would like pretending to be Masha’s father because he loves her like his own.
Once they get to Sam’s place, Red would explain the situation to his old friend. Sam would be horrified, but he’d begrudgingly accept. After spending a few days with Masha, Red would say his goodbyes to her before returning to Kat and Ilya. On the day the three of them have to leave, Red, Kat, and Ilya stop by at Sam’s house one more time to say goodbye to Masha. “Be good for Sam, Masha,” Ilya would say, and Kat would echo his sentiment before giving her a squeeze-hug.
The final thing Red tells Masha before they leave is, “We’ll come back home one day. We’ll come back and we’ll see you and we will all be a happy family again, all right?” Little Masha would nod, and Red would give her a bone-crushing hug.
In the following days, Masha — who Sam would decide to rename Elizabeth Scott during the adoption process — would suffer from nightmares of the fire and of killing her Uncle Ray’s impostor. No matter how much Sam would try, his adoptive daughter’s suffering would be boundless. So, he’d call Red, and the memory-wipe would happen.
The burn scar on her hand, Elizabeth would learn through the memory modification, would be from a mishap with the stove from Sam cooking breakfast.
Liz’s childhood would happen while Red, Ilya, and Kat would work to clear Red’s name. This time, however, instead of Red forming a criminal empire with Mr. Kaplan, he’ll form it with Ilya and Kat. Together, they’d form a syndicate to protect Masha from their horrible world. Red would still find Dembe in Nairobi, but I’m not sure how Mr. Kaplan would fit into the equation. Maybe she will join the Reddington-Koslov syndicate after Kat reaches out to her (Kat and Ilya can get married before buying a summer house in the US like Katarina and Alexander Kirk did, and they can hire Kate to take care of Masha like Katarina did in the original show).
So, with this modified version of events, Red would still end up on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, and Red would still turn himself in to the FBI. Masha Koslova, now Elizabeth Scott (Scott and not Keen because Ilya and Kat, as Masha’s parents, would be heavily against placing a deep-cover operative in their precious daughter’s life) would be initially distrustful of Red before growing to trust him.
Lastly, I don’t like the love-hate cycle of the original show so in this AU, we don’t know her. Liz will grow to trust Red and then she’ll meet her parents. She will not turn against Red at the slightest — or not so slight — error on his end. She will work through any bumps and obstacles that may be presented to her, and she will begin to trust Red with her life after the Anslo Garrick episode because at the point where she asks Red if he is her father, instead of saying “No,” he’ll answer with, “No. I am your godfather.” Elizabeth’s eyes would widen, but before she’d be able to ask him anything else, Red would say, “Be safe, Lizzy. I’ll be back before you know it. We’ll be able to talk more when I return.” And with that, the line would cut.
Okay, I lied when I said that this post wouldn’t be as long as the last, but can you tell I’m addicted to this AU? I sincerely thank you, @cesar-hoe, for bringing up the possibility of Red, Kat, and Ilya being best friends into the realm of my fantasies. It’s really increased my productivity level, lmao.
On the comic status: I’m currently drawing the fourth page! The part where Red takes Masha to Sam will be in the next comic.
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gallavichfanficlibrary · 11 hours ago
do you know of any 4.08 fic that ian wasn’t really sleeping and hear mickey say they’re together
Hey, I’ve looked through many fics and I couldn’t find anything like this, although it’s a very interesting idea. I would read a fic about it, so I’ll tag it as a prompt. If anyone knows a fic like that - do tell :)
While I was looking, I came across Already Together, a fic that explores how Mickey came to this realization that they’re together the night before saying it. Can be interesting :)
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missorgana · 15 hours ago
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can’t say anything to your face
pairing: bucky barnes/sam wilson
fandom: marvel cinematic universe
rating: teen and up
word count: 7779
warning: swearing, alcohol, brief mention of death
summary: Bucky loves Sam, and he tells him so, in his own way. (mostly canon compliant sambucky pining)
(my longest fic yet??? since TFATWS is still taking over my life, here’s some more sambucky fluff slash angst. they’re everything to me. this thing is a bit self-indulgent too, after the idea from this tweet! so all thanks to twitter user @/SAMBUCKY616 for this concept, even tho my danish is probably not the best interpretation jgdjd.... oh well! and thank you to Cat / @wendigostag as always, because you convinced me to write it and beta read and just..... ur perfect. mwah! hope you all enjoy this???)
read on ao3
A remnant that sticks with Bucky, still sticks with him after he’s rid of the Winter Soldier for good, is the language.
The only good thing, really. He could live without every one of the screams he hears in his dreams and lifeless bodies imprinted on his retinas, but that sticks on too, real tight. Being fluent in more languages than he imagined to be is bearable.
Not exactly bearable, though, not when many of them are tainted with those memories that he tries to distance himself to when he’s awake. He’s learning. It’s harder at night, when there’s darkness and stillness and no distractions from what creeps up on him every time.
French is hard. He knows every word to express the chaos in his head, but he can’t pronounce them. German, too. Russian, Spanish, Mandarin. He’s especially fond of Arabic, which is also particularly difficult for him to dig up from his brain, not because he doesn’t remember it, but because the screams in his head get too loud for him to think.
It’s a shame.
There’s one exception in his, quite frankly, extensively large vocabulary, and that’s Danish.
Bucky doesn’t know why this language in particular was something the Winter Soldier (he usually tries to think of him as a separate entity altogether, because, well, it hurts less) needed, given that, as far as his memory reaches, it was never used.
And this is why he finds himself drawn to it.
Of course, English is what he speaks on a day-to-day basis, and it feels… mostly normal. But somehow, Danish becomes a thing of comfort. Or safety, more likely.
He’s pretty sure his pronunciation sounds like absolute hell, the words sometimes more harsh than he intends, making him want to turn himself inside out in embarrassment. All these feelings, they’re difficult to describe.
Especially the ones relating to Sam Wilson.
Sam. 
Sam, Sam, Sam. He’s the only other constant visitor in the back of his mind, and whether that’s a good or a bad thing, up for discussion. A welcome distraction or… something more painful.
Yeah, this feeling is a hard one. Maybe it’s because it’s more than two decades since he’s felt it, or maybe he knows, deep down, that he hasn't ever felt it at all.
Since they met, he’s sworn that he hated him. But he doesn’t. It’s so bleeding obvious he might as well get it tattooed on his forehead.
Annoying, positive, calm, vulnerable, perfect Sam. Perfect- ugh, yes, it’s the only word left for him to describe him. It makes sense, like a lightbulb flicked on in his head and since then it hasn’t stopped shining.
Bucky doesn’t really know how this happened. Why or when. Maybe it came to him in that final battle, finding himself living and breathing, and the very first person he saw, first of anything he put his eyes upon, was Sam.
Or maybe it already dawned upon him in Steve’s awfully cramped car, where Sam wouldn’t move his stupid seat up.
Regardless, along the way, his habit of mumbling to himself in the Danish tongue in frustration or anxiety has developed into a way of letting things he doesn’t want his… co-worker to hear flow through, and out into the wide world, without any worry.
If he says what he wants to yell at the top of his lungs, in a way Sam would understand, that could only be the last drop into the oblivion of hating the universe. 
He won’t feel that way. Sam is so… good. Bucky isn’t. He deserves better than that.
It’s easier this way, he tells himself. It’s fucking easier. He has a hard time keeping his rage toward himself inside, but he does it.
And that’s exactly what he does, when their reunion in the airport has them at each other’s throats again , and as Sam goes on ahead, refusing for him to follow (of course, he does follow, anyway), and Bucky can’t help himself.
“Jeg skal være sikker på at du kommer tilbage.”
He utters the words through slightly gritted teeth, not realising how his breathing picks up too quickly until the other man glances back at him from the entrance of the aircraft, “What did you say?”
It’s the first time he’s not cursed at himself, and Sam’s response makes him jump in his skin. Honestly, the realisation of the words only settles afterwards, and he knows there’s no way he understood it. Not only is Danish one of the least widespread languages, so the chance of Sam even being aware of it is less than microscopical, but his voice is also in a steady fight with the wind. Lucky for once, huh.
“Nothing,” he lies. Sam doesn’t look convinced. Bucky adds, “Talking to myself. I’m still coming with you.”
The sounds are too loud around them, making him all the more eager to get inside. One of the many wonderful side effects of the aftermath of being brainwashed? Massive, stubborn headaches.
Funny enough, the pain might just be getting worse when the man in front of him visibly sighs, “Suit yourself.”
Going after the Flag Smashers, getting their asses handed to them, a certain thorn in his eye showing up, it all goes too quick for Bucky to fully comprehend.
In the end, Sam saves his life, because it’s Sam. Sam, who put his trust in him when he didn’t know him, when he had absolutely no reason to, and yet he did. He’s been spending a lot of time scared that the other man will come to regret it.
And it’s when they’re off the road and the world stops moving, and suddenly, Bucky’s looming inches above Sam’s face, grass grazing and tickling their faces. Or he’d probably feel that, if he wasn’t biting his cheek so hard that he might draw blood.
Sam groans but doesn’t move an inch.
I want to kiss you so fucking bad, Bucky wants to say. But that would be the stupidest and most reckless decision of his yet. Instead, he swallows the words and tells him, “Could’ve used that shield.”
Sam’s grip on his arms tightens, “Get off of me.”
The other man’s voice is strained and he pushes him off, leaving him to stare at the sky with a certain feeling of numbness.
He’s prepared for a long walk back from wherever they’ve ended up, too, Bucky’s not really paying attention to the surroundings besides the road and Sam relieving the tension that’s built up between them (far from uncommon with them, he’s got to admit) with his usual joking jabs.
He didn’t welcome his apology for Redwing much. It’s true, he hated that droid, but that doesn’t mean he’s not sorry… although, deeper inside of him he knows he’s saying sorry for totally different reasons.
I’m sorry you got hurt, is what. I’m sorry you had to pull me out of the fire that I got us into.
“What’s going on in that big cyborg brain of yours?”
Bucky sighs non committedly, he’s heard this one before. “It’s computing.”
And Sam laughs, softly and with a warm tinge that makes it hard for him to keep walking like he doesn’t care. The man next to him tries to be smug, and in the past these pokes at him would get him riled up and walk away without sparing it another thought.
It’s different now. He looks at his smirk for just a second before turning his head, and it’s fine, he won’t notice, stop worrying.
Sam doesn’t hate him, he’s realised. He realised that a while ago, admittedly, but what’s more important to the pressing in Bucky’s chest, Sam doesn’t fear him.
All this pain, hurt and confusion, the Avengers torn up from the inside and running from the government for years, and yet, there isn’t a hint of resentment in his steady voice, his deep brown eyes or the way he falls into step with his own body. Sam makes that joke because he’s a smug idiot who doesn’t let defeat bring him down. Maybe, he even makes that joke to get a smile out of Bucky.
The man at his side doesn’t hate him anymore. In fact, he’s not sure he’s ever hated him in the first place.
“You know what?” Sam says in between his breathy laughs, sounding like he just discovered a lost treasure, “I can see it! I can see the gears turning.”
If Bucky had it in him, he would dare to smile. He would dare to join his laughter, but he doesn’t. It’d probably come out sounding all wrong, anyway. 
Which is why he keeps his shoulders tight and gets back on track with what happened, and Sam follows suit. Sometimes he’s convinced the other man can read his mind. And because their arms move in synchron, within a distance where he could so easily reach out for his hand and feel what it’s like to hold it, his thoughts start running along with his mouth.
“Hvorfor gav du slip?” Bucky keeps his eyes glued to his feet, determined to keep the question to himself only, “Hvis jeg var modig nok havde jeg kysset dig.”
Sam’s voice returns to him, “Hm?”
“What?”
His co-worker laughs again, but he furrows his brows and suddenly it’s not that exact warmth that Bucky might’ve just allowed himself to feel safe in. Like the man next to him sees something in him no one does, not even himself. He’d like to know whatever secret Sam’s unlocked about him behind that look.
“You’re so weird sometimes, man.” he’s told, but there isn’t a single shred of judgement painted on any of the syllables. Sometimes.
“What was rule number two again?”
It was a stupid question, because Bucky knows. Those rules have been repeated too many times for him not to repeat it to himself whenever he needed to silence everything around him.
Don’t do anything illegal. Don’t hurt anyone. I am no longer the Winter Soldier. I am James Bucky Barnes.
Then why, after a failed mission, after meeting that fraud who thinks he can just take on the shield like it’s nothing, after his therapist put him and Sam through a conversation that led nowhere at all, does he feel like he just broke that rule?
Of course, he’s been bending the rules a bit.
Of course, he knows why he’s feeling like this.
True to his word, Sam waits for him outside. “When we’re done, we both can go on seperate, long vacations, and never see each other again.”
The warmth that radiated off of the other man earlier that day had vanished somewhere unknown, and the pressure on that last part made it clear. That’s what fills Bucky with the type of guilt and regret that makes him want to rip his own skin off. He’s all too familiar with that feeling already.
He doesn’t blame Sam one bit, obviously. Well, he’d still like to grab that shield from John Walker and shove it somewhere the sun doesn’t shine, but the anger he’d misplaced on his co-worker, it vanished as fast as it had first arrived.
Sam is so fucking good, it almost makes him want to cry.
Sam trusted his heart, trusted what he believed was right, and he didn’t know the government was going to snatch that opportunity and hand the shield over to some nobody who doesn’t know what it stands for. Hand it over like they had any say in the matter.
Bucky didn’t doubt Steve’s decision for a second, and Bucky didn’t- doesn’t doubt Sam. Especially now, he looks at him in the evening glow and understands why Steve trusted him when he trusted no one else. Bucky trusts him. He hasn’t been this confident about anything in ages.
But because his stubbornness never fails to take a hold of him, Sam doesn’t know that.
The other man notices him coming and is already walking. He doesn’t look him in the eyes anymore. Why would he? It’s not like he earned it.
Bucky tries hard to breathe around the lump in his throat.
And he doesn’t even bother hiding his contempt around Walker anymore, while Sam keeps him tied to reality, a hand on his chest that causes everything in him to freeze, until the malfunction can’t make him do anything other than turn around and walk away.
Down to business, that’s what they fucking talked about.
Bucky has an idea and he’s gonna get it out and make it a reality, and, surprisingly enough, Sam agrees. We go deal with it.
It makes for another long walk. But now it’s long and painfully silent. Fan-fucking-tastic.
He steals glances at Sam too many times for it to be considered casual, or fleeting, and he memorizes his fingers tapping his thigh mid-walk, his jawline, every single eyelash that’s blinking hard, a habit of his when he’s stressed, Bucky’s noticed.
Their movements aren’t synchronised anymore. It’s sort of poetic.
He doesn’t realise he’s muttering it to himself, “Undskyld.” because he doesn’t have the courage to hear Sam’s answer, “Undskyld.” because he knows there’s no way the man next to him is going to forgive him, “Undskyld.” because he doesn’t deserve his forgiveness.
He’d overstepped the boundary. Whatever progress they’d made in this weird dynamic of theirs, whatever closeness became a tangible size, is wiped clean from the slate because he was pissed. But it had nothing to do with him. Steve had, but the shield doesn’t. Sam doesn’t need him to tell him that.
“That some sort of mantra?” is what breaks him out of his head.
Sam’s got an eyebrow raised, his hands absentmindedly reaching for something, phone most likely, given they have to move fast.
“What do you mean?”
So the other man slows down and tilts his head, “What you just whispered to yourself.”
Yeah, Bucky’s a horrendous liar. And he can’t feign ignorance around Sam. He can’t fake anything, his body language, his thoughts, his emotions. He wished they’d shut the fuck up for a minute.
He sniffs, shrugs, pondering on the easiest way to get out of this confrontation, if you can even call it that.
“No.”
“Didn’t sound like English.”
“‘Cause it isn’t.”
Sam looks terribly kissable right now. Not because of the streetlights or the faint noise of traffic buzzing around them, but because he’s standing under the moon, almost glowing. Bucky imagines his stupid, addictive smile, and how the moon doesn’t stand a chance compared to his beauty.
He wishes that he could lean over and the man wouldn’t push him away. He’s a tragic romantic.
His co-worker also has that expression on his face that tells him he’s too drained for snark, probably incredibly close to calling it a day. Actually, he expects him to speak, but five seconds pass, and his whole demeanor shifts, and then they’re walking again.
Once again, Sam seems to know him better than he knows himself. We go deal with it. Never see each other again. It sounds great, sounds perfect, sounds ideal, he tells his internal voice, because if he repeats it enough times he might just convince himself to believe it.
It’s not like the thought of Sam never looking at him, never speaking to him and never, ever, wanting anything to do with him again makes him want to scream until he’s got no air left in his lungs. That would be ridiculous.
Things happen, and at this point, Bucky just comes to accept it.
It’s almost become a bitter-tasting routine. Something bad happens, his plan backfires, something worse happens, it goes too fast for him to comprehend, so he’s been attempting for the last months to only focus on the moment.
The moment and the memories creeping in the shadows. They’re the hardest to keep at bay.
And at the moment, he’s seated on Sharon’s couch in her luxurious apartment in Madripoor, she’s telling them what to do, because their plan didn’t exactly work, Zemo’s wandering around like the cockroach he’d let out, and Sam’s taken his fucking shirt off.
So Bucky keeps his look square on his drink.
If he keeps his posture, trains his attention on Sharon’s voice, maybe he’ll avoid feeling so flustered.
He’s become pretty accustomed to faking it, admittedly. Not exactly a good thing to lie to his therapist, he’s well aware, but that’s a problem for when this is over. Dr. Raynor, she just… she couldn’t understand him.
That’s not her fucking job, he reminds himself. Her job is to help him move on with his life. Put the past behind him, get a fresh start. Talk about his feelings. “You have to talk about it,” she’d told him. “You can’t ignore your trauma. It’s dangerous.”
She’s right, but like he told her, he’s fine. Totally fine.
And that’s not what he’s struggling with right now, anyway. He hadn’t let Raynor in on anything about Sam apart from ignoring his messages, because these feelings of his are surely one-sided, and besides, Bucky doesn’t think he deserves it.
Being in love, he thinks it’s called. Or maybe he’s just not ready for it.
“Try to blend in.” Sharon’s voice calls in the distance. Her smile is incredibly smug for some reason.
It doesn’t faze him that Sam’s trying to get his attention, and that she leaves the room, until the other man’s sitting next to him (now fully dressed, both to his luck and disappointment), making it, like, 200 times harder to ignore him. And he’s examining him with those all-knowing eyes of his.
Sam can read people pretty easily. Or maybe it’s just Bucky. Or maybe he’s just too obvious, that anyone could read him like an open book.
“Bucky.” is what he says, and Bucky simply nods tightlipped, but apparently that doesn’t serve as sufficient acknowledgement for Sam, because he places a hand on his shoulder.
He feels sort of pathetic for not knowing how to breathe now. Such a simple touch. A friendly touch. A gesture. Yet he can’t think of anything else.
Out of the corner of his eye, Zemo’s watching them and opens his mouth, but the man next to him beats him to it with, “Didn’t you hear her? Go.”
The hard tone always sounds wrong in Sam’s whole being.
And the man looking at them accepts the defeat, surprisingly enough, seeping out of the room faster than Bucky could blink.
So, they’re alone. Cool. He doesn’t know what to do with himself, besides keep drinking. Keep drinking, don’t say anything stupid, don’t hurt him more than you already have.
When he finally chances a look at Sam, he seems… troubled.
He’s not sure if it’s his imagination playing tricks on him, or if he’s stupidly hopeful, but somehow, it feels like the other man’s got something on his mind. What that is, who knows.
The hand on his shoulder hasn’t left.
“Hey,” he starts, barely a sound, more a whisper, perhaps in fear that Bucky would startle and hide away, “I won’t force you to talk about it- or, well, anything.”
Did Sam just stutter? That was definitely his imagination. He’s just… he’s so… warm. Comforting. Beautiful. Bucky’s hand is getting clammy around the glass.
And when he looks at the man again, his big eyes are utterly sincere, so much so that Bucky would rip his heart out and hand it to him if he wished.
He’s not sure how well he’s doing with controlling his face, careful, not to offer any tells.
How would Sam react if he kissed him, right now? If he made a big, dumb love confession? He doesn’t even know how to describe his feelings to him, so it’d probably be clumsy. Messy. And his worst fear of all, that the man next to him would push him off in confusion, or embarrassment, or disgust.
Bucky can’t risk it.
Sam sighs, “I’m just worried about you.”
That makes him frown, and his co-worker looks back in bewilderment. He should stop doing that. Stop looking at him like he means something to him.
It’s the look that pushes the question out before he can think, “Why?”
Sam just seems tired. Not tired of your shit, but rather tired of you talking yourself down, kind of. That’s what he gets from his face, anyway.
“Come on, Buck.”
“I mean, aren’t we supposed to never see each other again?” he then asks, but it comes out more blunt, and sharper than he intended.
Sam retracts his hand. His shoulder aches to follow it.
“Mmhh.” is all the other man’s voice comes with. He folds his hands in his lap, stares at it for a while like it’s the most interesting thing on the planet. Why, oh God, why does he look like he just got his heart broken? “Yeah, I did say that.”
He’s only seen that expression on Sam a handful of times. Once, when Steve gave him the shield. Two, when his friend- Torres, that was his name, mentioned something about Afghanistan and Sam promptly jumped out of the open shaft without a warning. Three, when he’d pushed him off of him in the field. What does it mean now?
Bucky’s brain plays all his words over and over, but doesn’t know how to process them, or analyze them, or come to a natural conclusion. So he downs the last drop of whiskey, “Jeg har brug for dig.”
Geez, that was blunt. He guesses it's thanks to the stars he chose the right language to blurt that out, and Bucky proceeds to release the tight grip on his glass, about to get up and follow Sharon’s order, but Sam’s looking at him again, and as he established forever ago, that makes him weak in the knees. His entire body, actually, now that he thinks about it.
“Is that- that the same language?” Sam asks. Bucky’s awkwardly frozen mid-sitting, mid-standing, listening. “You know, you were talking to yourself. Outside the station.”
He’s right. He always is. So Bucky nods.
“It’s a saying.” and that only makes it the other man’s turn to frown, understandable. Not the most creative excuse, but now he’s gotta run with it, “Like ‘Don’t give up’, or whatever.”
He recognizes every look in Sam’s eyes, jotting them down in his memory in fear of forgetting the only person that makes him feel human. His co-worker is tying him to reality. Yep, another revelation, and he doesn’t know what to do with it.
This is the I don’t believe you for a second look. “That’s what you said? ‘Don’t give up’?”
Bucky snorts, “Nope.”
And so they both stand up, and from the other man already steps ahead of him, it’s clear he’s ruined another conversation. Like Sam gave up on understanding him altogether, and it makes him feel sick, because he isn’t exactly making it easy for him.
Look at me, Bucky hopes. Just look at me again. Please.
And Sam does. “And here I thought we were beginning to get along.”
Sam’s sigh is all too heavy for Bucky not to notice.
He thought he’d distract himself from Zemo’s annoying presence and annoying private plane by polishing his hand, but suddenly, the man in the other row looks painfully hopeless.
Sam can’t be that. It’s all wrong. He’s supposed to be made of sunshine and full of hope. He makes Bucky have some sort of hope.
“You okay?” he finds himself asking. He’d even put a hand on his shoulder the same way the other man did back in Madripoor, but it feels a little too personal when he remembers the third person in the room.
By the way Sam jumps just half an inch in his seat, so subtle you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t looking closely, Bucky can only guess he’s surprised he’s the one initiating conversation, for once.
“Yeah,” he answers, but it doesn’t sound all that true. “Just thinking about all the shit Sharon had to go through.”
That’s the thing about Sam, because he cares, cares like he’s pouring out his heart on everyone and saves nothing for himself. He cared about Bucky after knowing him for a day. He had a hard time believing it, but it’s true. And it’s what he likes- loves… loves about the other man the most.
Sam continues, “And Nagel referring to the American test subject like… like Isaiah wasn’t even a real person.”
Bucky feels stupid for nodding along. He should be saying something, or he feels like he should be making up for weirding him out back in Sharon’s flat, or apologise for yelling at him in the shootout, or anything. Apologise for breaking out the douche who’s plane they’re currently in, most of all.
See, talking seems easy, but it’s not when the words are overthinked as deeply as he does himself. Maybe that’s why him and Sam are as they are. Or maybe it’s in spite of that.
When Sam talks, he means every word. His voice is hushed, and he’s leaning into Bucky’s space now (which may or may not make him panic) to make sure Zemo stays out of their business. Not that they both don’t know he’s not going to do that, obviously. Again- his fault.
“Maybe I should’ve destroyed it.” takes him by surprise, though.
In his mind, in his inner voice of logic that he never listens to, he instantly understands why Sam says it, and agrees. There’s a lot of people in this world Bucky’s wronged. There’s a lot of people he hasn’t, but he still longs to help, or somehow feels guilty for. He still wants to change things. Isaiah is on the top of the list.
Which list is Sam on top of?
He’d not thought about his feelings like that before, but it hits him like it hit him back in Madripoor. He’s the only one I have left is replaced with He’s the only one that makes me feel like this so easily. Lightheaded and aching for his company, his attention, whatever else Sam will spare him.
Instead of agreeing with him like his brain is telling him, though, his pride kicks in and circles back on  The shield is yours, Sam. You fucking perfect asshole.
And Bucky’s not gonna take the shield, it’s bullshit. The other man knows it’s bullshit, and the look they share is a silent agreement that it’s bullshit.
Mysteriously, the cockroach owning the plane disappears to the bathroom, or whatever.
Maybe he’ll put his hand on Sam’s shoulder now. That would be meaningful. Would prove to the man that he cares, and he knows that Bucky cares about Isaiah, and the shield, and the mission, but he doesn’t fucking know that he cares about him.
But once again, his stomach drops and he keeps his hand to himself. Stupid.
It’s when the other man leaves his space and opts for leaning against the window that he has time to wonder about Sam fully, and why he hesitated back there. They shouldn’t see each other again, but he hesitated. 
Does he regret saying it? No, that’s crazy. 
It’s for the best, Bucky figures. He supposes he shouldn’t mourn the loss before it’s even happened, but it already seems like he’s reaching out in the darkness for Sam, who’s better than he’ll ever be, who deserves better than to drag him around like this, and it’s like he’s already gone.
Fuck, he really should talk with Dr. Raynor about that.
And the man he can’t stop looking at would probably have that concerned look on his face if he heard Bucky putting himself down like this again, out loud.
Sam wanted to talk to you that nagging voice tells him, for the millionth time. Why didn’t you let him?
He can’t figure out what he would’ve said if he could go back and change it. Stay completely silent? That would annoy Sam. Take that love confession by the horns? Sam would let him down in the nicest, most gentle way ever, he’s sure. 
That wouldn’t hurt that much, but his chest always gets a little tighter when he lies like that. It would hurt endlessly more.
Bucky does come back to reality, eventually, when a door clicks shut and Zemo’s talking to his friend (servant? pilot? who gives a shit), and his co-worker's breathing has evened out.
It’s probably more than a little creepy to watch him sleeping. Hm. But peace rests over him and it, somehow, stretches its wings towards himself as well, regardless of Sam’s position with his neck and half laying on his arm that doesn’t look comfortable in any shape or form.
“Jeg ville følge dig til verdens ende,” Bucky says. It’s barely a whisper to himself, to shut up his head crying out loud of possibilities, because what if Sam wanted him to stay? What if in some miraculous alternative universe, he felt the same way? It’s a daydream, is what it is, “hvis du bare ville give mig lov.”
He clenches his fist, unclenches, clenches.
Sam seems worried. Bucky can’t see him, since he’s turned his back towards him and faces the window while gaining the feeling back in that vibranium arm of his, but it radiates off of him.
Maybe he does need the space his co-worker’s giving him. Or maybe he just needs a drink and a hug and a chance to sleep. Who knows?
He hasn’t hugged anyone since reuniting with Steve. Well, unless you count Sam saving him as a hug, which he doesn’t.
It’s when he turns around again that the other man is, first of all, a lot closer than he expected him to be, secondly, giving him a small, tense smile. But it doesn’t look uncomfortable, in fact, the effect is exactly the opposite, and Bucky can’t help but return it, gratefully.
He doesn’t think too much about this smile not being forced, like the ones he’s gotten used to doing in public. Sam doesn’t need to know that.
Bucky also is, for once, two steps ahead of his co-worker, answering the question he doesn’t have time to ask, “I’m fine.”
Not easily fooled, he knows the man watching him from the couch looks wary, but Sam’s probably too shocked by the fight and Zemo’s escape to argue. He himself knows he is, which doesn’t help his guilt. But what point is there in guilt anymore? It’s not like he can un-let him out of prison.
He sits down with reasonable space between them. Significantly further away from each other than back in Sharon’s flat, not close enough to touch.
Truth be told, Bucky’s still processing it. Zemo’s escape, he accepted that easily, and it’s probably the least surprising thing he’s experienced in a while. When Ayo removed his prosthetic, that was something else.
And his friend left without another word. What could she have said that made the case anymore clear, really?
They don’t trust him, and despite the overshadowing thought of No one trusts me, Nothing’s changed, Not even myself, it’s hard to blame Shuri, or T’Challa. They saved his mind, saved his life, and he’ll be in debt to them until his grave.
Bucky understands them, he does. He does. He wouldn’t trust himself.
But a little sliver of his stomach still wrings itself inside out of… betrayal? He doesn’t know if that’s the right word, but it’s sufficient for now. Of not being told. Of not knowing everything there was to know about this thing that was a part of his body now. Still feels partially alien, a separate entity altogether.
But there’s no anger to be found. Instead, he lets his attention fall upon Sam. As always, “Are you okay, though?”
The shorter man furrows his brows. Smile’s still intact. “Depends on your definition of okay.”
Of course, he makes another bloody joke, at a time like this. Bucky snorts, and his co-worker looks all too pleased to have it succeed.
Sam glances back, seems like he’s seriously considering the thought of a drink that Bucky’s too exhausted to fulfill, but apparently decides against it, “I didn’t know you were so sentimental, Buck.”
“Can you shut your face?”
Why does it feel exceptionally good to laugh when Sam laughs? Doesn’t surprise him, the feeling he supposes are metaphorical butterflies in his gut doesn’t, either.
The other man’s keeping his eyes in his lap again, picking at the skin around his fingernails and, for the first time ever in the time he’s known him, looks nervous. It’s strange, but so endearing, and he’s so, so pretty.
Funny, that word endearing, Sam’s strong arms could wrap around him as easily as they could take several people out if he wished, which- okay, don’t think about that right now. The imaginary sensation of the other man’s skin against his and Bucky’s face buried in the crook of his neck, that is.
He feels lighter. Sam always knows what’s needed after a shared experience like this. Does he know him too well?
What Bucky does know is that the other man stands up, and instead of heading towards the door, he passes him on the way to pick up their jackets. A hand on his shoulder again. Gracing it more than a steady grip, but still.
He doesn’t stay for long, but his fingers glide down his arm a bit. The touch is the softest thing possible, ghosting over him like Sam doesn’t want him to notice.
But he does. A shiver runs down his spine.
It’s so faint that it disappears as unexpectedly as it comes, and his co-worker’s already at the other side of the room when he finally gains the courage to raise his chin.
Sam’s attention is taken by his cellphone, so Bucky decides to speak, “I don’t blame you, ya know.”
A beat before he notices, snaps the phone shut, tightens the hold on his jacket just a smidge, “For what?”
“The shield.”
“I thought you did.” he replies, because yeah, that’s what he said literally minutes ago. He doesn’t look offended, though. Good.
When Bucky can’t find the sufficient words, he nods. Licks his lips. Then tries something, “I’m an asshole, I know.” and grimaces at himself, “I’m too stubborn. I’ve been listening- I listened to you. I put all this shit on you… I’m trying to apologise.”
The other man smiles again, not tense anymore. Not gripping the jacket like it’s lifeline anymore, either. He slips it on instead.
He just wants Sam to know, so badly, that he cares. This is a start. “Sorry. I can’t believe my apologies suck, too.”
The silence is calm, it’s maybe ten, fifteen seconds tops. Just enough time for his insides to freak out before the shorter man hands him his own jacket, and then offers him a hand to pull him up. Act cool. Act fucking cool, Bucky.
He also wishes he could cling to Sam forever, but that would be the direct opposite of cool.
“It doesn’t,” he tells him, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, pats his arm a couple of times to get the message across, he guesses, “Thank you. And thank you for having my back. You know, I think this communication thing could work, if we really tried.”
Stop being so ridiculous. Stop being so fucking dreamy. Seriously.
Bucky doesn’t roll his eyes, and if he looks lovestruck right now (he’s fairly sure he does), he’ll just have to feign ignorance later if the other man notices. This feels… yeah, you guessed it, good. Tingling in his chest a little. A lot.
He doesn’t even care that the man in front of him reaches for his phone when it rings, controlling his neutral tone of voice when he says, “Tak fordi du stolede på mig.”
Bucky’s fairly certain the words go unnoticed when he puts on his jacket, but of course, Sam covers the microphone and reaches him with a promise, “One day I’ll figure out what it is you’re whispering to yourself about.”
On the water, the 2am darkness enveloping him and reminding him just how alone he is, Bucky has time to think.
Mere days ago, the government’s very own Captain America murdered one of the members of the Flag Smashers, and in an eerie and familiar haze, all he and Sam could do was watch. So did Karli. So did numerous regular citizens with mobile phones.
And before Bucky could break and chase Walker down (because let’s face it, a government putting him in the suit? Bucky doesn’t trust those superiors for a second), his co-worker’s got a hold on his wrist and tells him he needs to go check on his sister.
When he follows along, Sam doesn’t complain.
Maybe, possibly, the other man even invited him. It’s not like he’s got anywhere else to be, and it seemed like, for once, Sam didn’t know what to do. A timeout is necessary, he said.
That’s an understatement.
Bucky just hopes that Karli and the rest of the Flag Smashers did the same and got the hell out of there. The shorter man’s got her number, so he suspects he told her so himself.
And Zemo? How the fuck is he supposed to know? The world’s gone to absolute shit, and they’re stuck in the middle in some kind of limbo.
Add Bucky’s unresolved feelings for his co-work- friend? Friend.
Surprisingly enough, Sam’s sister didn’t seem particularly surprised that her brother brought someone along.
Sarah’s a heaven sent. She smiled brightly and hugged him with one arm like they’ve known each other for years, juggling things out of crates on the harbour like it’s nothing. Witty, albeit a tad more serious than Sam, and she doesn’t take his shit for a second.
Her sons were more overwhelming, but Bucky’s not used to being around children, mind you.
They ran to him in excitement, speaking over each other, and he took a step back, because those creeping memories of the soldier and the fear of hurting someone again is rooted too deep to disappear.
Sam patted his back, though. It’s fine. You’re fine.
The boys also couldn’t take their eyes off his vibranium arm and convinced him to lift them both when they bet he couldn’t. They surely know how to drive a bargain.
It’s funny, how much they liked that thing. Makes him think he could get used to the extension himself, eventually.
Sam’s family is so… normal. They’re warm and excited and hard-working and hilarious. He likes the way the other man looks around here, even more bright than usual, domestic and bantering with his sister for a living. They remind him of his own family. He won’t think about that.
But it’s the third night he spends in their home, after another one of the best dinners he’s ever had in his long life, amusing the boys with superhero stories until they’re exhausted and sent to bed, that Bucky wakes up in a cold sweat on the couch.
There you are, nightmares. It’s been a while.
It’s not surprising, of course, but he’s been avoiding sleep until the point of passing out, lately.
And Bucky didn’t know where to go. He didn’t want to rummage around in the kitchen he’s been too kindly invited to for alcohol, which they most likely didn’t have lying around anyways, as well as risk waking any of the family sleeping blissfully unaware.
But he also couldn’t stay, he was itching to move.
So, here he is. He found his way back to the harbour, and Sam’s family boat, not even dressed in more than his t-shirt, banged up jeans and boots, but the cold is a welcome distraction.
Would be good if he had a bottle of whiskey too, but whatever.
It’s times like this he’d rage inward on himself. Curse his head, curse his feelings. Curse his fucking decisions and stubbornness. Curse Walker and Zemo and Hydra. Curse the shield and curse Steve.
Yeah, it’s too much. He really should let Dr. Raynor in on this, if he gets a chance to go back to his regular sessions, that is.
The staggering quiet almost invites him to yell some of that rage out loud. Until, “Thought you might be here.”
Bucky would’ve sprung up and grabbed whatever could be used as a weapon nearest, if he didn’t immediately notice the tenderness in Sam’s voice, noticeably hoarse. He doesn’t know what to answer, but the other man sits down across from him, looking exceptionally soft.
You’re a goner, Bucky Barnes.
The silence between them is nowhere near awkward, but he feels like breaking it regardless. “Sorry I woke you.”
Sam huffs, and he imagines he’s rolling his eyes, “You didn’t.”
Hm. He scratches his neck and his chin. The cold is suddenly becoming a problem, so he wraps his arms loosely around himself. The other man’s doing the same, despite wearing a sweater.
“Nightmare?” he asks, eventually. Bucky nods.
“Yeah. You?”
“Yeah.”
Is this the end of the conversation? God, he has no idea how to continue, anyways.
He’d ask about it. Ask Sam what he’s seeing behind his eyelids at night, and if it invokes the exact same kind of pain he feels himself. Ask him about the Air Force and how his world changed and came crashing down. Ask him about Riley, who he only knows by name and a single photo.
Bucky can’t get the words over his tongue. Instead, he just wonders why he’s here in the first place, why Sam’s still sticking around with him and why he was allowed into his life.
Well, he followed him first. But he doesn’t feel like he deserves the peace he’s been given the last few days, or Sam’s nephews looking at him with wide eyes and zero judgement. Sam looking at him with zero judgement. Fuck.
He clears his throat, “Do you wanna talk about it?”
He’s adjusted his eyes to the darkness now, and there goes the shorter man looking at him, not intensely but just… looking, the way that makes Bucky’s stomach jump in loops and urge him to stand up and kiss him already.
Sam shakes his head, smile timid but sure, “Another time. I’ll let you know.”
Oh boy, does he know that feeling. They’ll talk about it, eventually. He’s not ready himself, but one day he will be. He hopes so. “Me too.”
The boat’s swaying subtly, a sliver of moonlight is touching Sam’s hand on the railing and Bucky thinks he might fall into an non-existent black hole.
On the contrary, the other man is slightly shivering from the ocean wind. He shouldn’t think about what it’s like to hold him. They’re friends now. Friends. Friends.
Still doesn’t stop him from sealing the deal to himself, “Jeg elsker dig.”
Like he hasn’t known all this time. Since that day they reunited, since before. Bucky’s painfully in love with someone he’ll never have the courage to tell, openly and upfront, anyways. Maybe he’ll get over it.
It does take him a few minutes before he notices Sam’s soft smile, worn like his heart on his sleeve, second nature and drawing everyone in with ease, turning into a shirt-eating grin. 
Weird. Whatever. Wait-
“Really?” he asks him.
Oh my God. Oh no. Oh fuck.
Bucky’s eyes must widen to the size of fucking teacups. He’s never been this eager to get up and move out of a situation before till now, “Sorry?”
Sam notices his unease before he even finds it himself, “Bucky.”
“Oh my God.”
“Bucky-”
“I have to go.”
Doesn’t get very far. Five inches maybe, before the shorter man stops him in motion. Bucky could easily shake his hand off, but he doesn’t, of course he doesn’t. Sam gets under his skin every time.
His thumb caresses his wrist, “I want you to stay. Can you stay?”
Fucking fuck. Bucky gulps the embarrassment down and relaxes his stiff shoulders. Or tries to, at least. His ears are ringing.
“Will you look at me?” Sam then asks, and how could he refuse anything from that man?
Takes some courage, of course, but he has to. Take the rejection already. Come on. But when he turns around his friend doesn’t seem disgusted, or disappointed, like he fully expected him to.
“Stop looking at me like that.” he finds himself saying, before he can shut his stupid mouth up. And Sam looks absolutely desperate, “Like what?”
“Like I mean something to you.”
Kiss me. I wish you would kiss me. Sam’s perfectly formed lips are still in a smile, not small, not a grin. But just right. And then a hand is touching Bucky’s cheek.
“That’s the thing, you idiot.” the shorter man tells him, “I can’t exactly stop it. But if you want me to-”
“Have you known all along?” he interrupts with. Feels like laughing at himself. God, that would be beyond ridiculous, wouldn’t it? Saying everything on his mind, not knowing his friend heard every word of it. Secret’s out.
There’s another hand finding its way to his face, “I didn’t. Google helped me- uh, after Madripoor. Took me a few tries with the spelling before it gave me a clue. And, well…”
“My pronunciation is pretty sloppy.” Bucky’s circling around what’s happening. Why is he doing this? Because it’s too good to be true, probably. Please don’t be a dream.
Embarrassing, then… then the warmth against his cheeks. Then the impossibly soft and meaningful eyes not escaping Bucky’s for anything. Then his heart beating too fast, like it’s going to crawl up his throat and escape his vessel.
Sam shakes his head with a laugh. Heartily, caring, “Do you mean what you said? You love me?” to which Bucky laughs himself.
“Yeah,” he feels weak in the vocal chords, but gets it out, because he has to, “‘Course I fucking do. Is that okay?”
“It’s more than okay.”
And there, on Sam’s family boat in the middle of the night, wind rushing behind his ears and his breathing too loud like everything isn’t quite real, Bucky smiles like his life depends on it. Because the man in front of him deserves to know. He needs him to know. And fuck the world. “Will you kiss me now?”
Sam’s smile is so fucking pretty, it’s the best thing he’s ever seen. He looks at him like he’s special, and he feels it. Feels everything deeper and deeper, “I thought you’d never ask.”
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grovecityofone · 16 hours ago
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will was cocon yesterday. it was the first switch we've had since january when he and hyde emerged. before that, the last switch was in november.
he got to talk to a few other dream smp introjects, including technoblade from our best friend's system that he has a crush on. if any system out there has philza, tommy, tubbo, or fundy fictives, he'd really love to talk to them too.
he doesn't quite grasp that he's in a system so source mates feel like home to him.
ill have him introduce himself if he sticks around. stay updated.
-G
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pvandermeer409 · 16 hours ago
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Rewriting the Cursed Child - Chapter 11 is Out!
Excerpt
Riya had never been inside this bathroom. She had been warned ahead of time – on her very first day at Hogwarts in fact – not to set foot inside it. Myrtle’s notorious wails and whines kept any sane person at Hogwarts away from this place. It was gloomy and gross in here. Under a large, cracked, and spotted mirror were a row of chipped sinks. The wooden doors to the stalls were flaking and scratched, and one of them was dangling off its hinges. It was completely dark as the candles had burned out in their holders.
Check it out:
Hate the Cursed Child?
Feel like it ruined the series for you? Wish it was more canon-compliant?
For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a fix of the (in my opinion) horrible Cursed Child. I guess I just wanted to give these characters the sequel they deserve.
You can find it here:
https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13823288/1/Harry-Potter-and-The-Lost-Child
and here:
https://archiveofourown.org/works/30081021/chapters/74086224
I know some of you would rather just ignore it, which is perfectly fine. Some of you actually like it which is also fine (I would recommend checking this out anyhow if you feel like reading a nice mystery set in the WW).
This story is meant to provide an alternative for people who would like to know ‘what happened after the story’ and would rather not bother with the hot mess that is CC (again my opinion).
General summary: no Delphi, VERY canon-compliant, the plot draws a little from the Cursed Child but improves upon it (at least in my opinion), and NO BLEEDING TIME TRAVEL.
Reviews and suggestions are very welcome.
New chapter every other week or so.
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startanewdream · 17 hours ago
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Note: An weird attempt to make this scene in DH1 more canon compliant. Slight angst.
‘Stupid dress’.
It’s the annoying tone in her voice that makes Harry stop on the first floor landing on his way downstairs. He knows that tone; it’s the same one Ginny used when she would complain about a spell she couldn’t make work for Charms despite being her favourite class.
Harry remembers showering her face with small kisses (then neck, then shoulder) until she giggled and relaxed and picked up again her Charms textbook, resolved to get the spell right (‘You do give me the best incentive, Harry’, she would say, eyes sparkling, and Harry would gladly wait for the congratulations kiss when she would accomplish the spell).
That annoying tone fills him with longing.
Her door is slightly opened. He peeks inside before he can control himself and his breath is caught immediately. Ginny has her back to the door, already wearing the golden dress she will wear for the wedding - a long light dress that seems to highlight her curves in a way Harry is sure he never appreciated before -, but the dress is not closed yet. Harry should note her fingers trying to close the buttons, but his attention is fixed on the tone of her skin, on the freckles he didn’t know she had there, in the line of her spine and in the way he wants to trace her back, wants to see her shivering under his touch -
‘Are you going to just stand there or will you help me?’
He jumps, embarrassed, at the sound of Ginny's voice and tries to get his imagination away from the scene where, instead of closing her dress, Ginny is letting it slide down her hips and then -
‘Harry?’
He blinks again, finding Ginny looking at him through the full body mirror in the room he didn’t remember seeing there the day before - the day he had entered her room for the first time and she had kissed him as if there was no tomorrow…
Which could as well be his case. This thought washes him over like a cold rain.
‘Sure’, he says, more in control now. Nothing can happen between them; he promised Ron and he promised himself.
So he enters her room, taking the short steps until he is behind her, keeping his eyes on the buttons he is supposed to close. Closing them is easy; trying not to touch her skin while he does is a lot harder.
‘I thought you will be down already’, Ginny whispers.
‘On my way. I was about to drink my Polyjuice Potion when - when I saw you’.
‘Oh, ready to become cousin Barney?’, she asks, a teasing tone that he welcomes. ‘Well, I will miss Harry Potter’. His hands stop, and Harry wonders if he should say something, because he doesn’t really think she is talking just about his appearance. But then Ginny adds: ‘You know, there are already too many Weasleys in the world’.
‘And you are getting another today’, he replies, forcing his voice to sound steady.
‘Well, better more than less’, she shrugs. Harry finishes the last button but he doesn’t move, his fingers itching to touch her neck, her bare shoulders; his gaze finds hers in the mirror. ‘Doesn’t it feel weird? Marrying in the middle of a war?’
‘It may be now or never’, Harry says. Something flickers in her eyes.
‘Is that why they are together? Desperation?’
Harry doesn’t think about Bill and Fleur and neither does Ginny, he believes. ‘No. I think they just love each other and don’t want to be apart’.
‘It must be nice when things are that simple’.
‘It must’, he agrees, not minding to sound wistful.
Ginny sighs.
She turns and Harry takes a step back not because he doesn’t want to be near her, but because he wants to fully appreciate her in that golden dress. Ginny is beautiful as always, the flaming red in her hair complimenting the dress, her face with a soft makeup he didn’t saw often on her but it makes her eyes glow, impossible to not want to melt into them, and her lips are glistening with an invitation Harry doesn’t want to refuse.
But the sunlight reflects on her dress, making it sparkle softly and its gleam would be enough to demand his attention - then Harry’s eyes are drawn to the neckline of her dress. Under a thin layer of veil, he can see her cleavage, the top curve of her breast, and his mouth is dry. Months of dreaming with her come to his mind and Harry suddenly realizes reality may be better.
‘Ginny -’, he whispers, because the only right thing he could say is her name. He feels paralyzed not out of fear, but of indecision - there are so many things he wants to tell her and to do that he can’t choose one.
‘Harry’, she repeats in the same tone, but unlike him, Harry thinks Ginny knows exactly what she wants to do.
Ginny takes a step in his direction, and then she stops as a sound breaks the silence of the room. ‘Morning’.
Ginny looks away just as Harry turns around. There is George on the door, a bandage still covering his head.
‘Mum was asking for you upstairs, Ginny. Hope I wasn’t interrupting anything’, he says, a smirk in his lips that tells Harry that George knows exactly what he interrupted.
‘I will be going. Thanks for your help, Harry’, Ginny says, again sounding as if nothing happened between them. Harry envies her for that.
‘Yeah, thanks Harry for his help’.
‘Shut up, George’, she says, throwing her brother a look that makes him stop smiling.
George doesn’t move when Ginny vanishes in the stairs, so Harry is forced to pass by him to leave the room.
‘So -’, George begins, and Harry expects him to joke about, but George looks just thoughtful. ‘Is everything alright?’
Harry blinks, without answering, and drinks his Polyjuice Potion. Cousin Barney sounds a lot easier to be than Harry Potter at the moment.
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official-nancy-drew · a day ago
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Chapter 18 Posted!
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The Haunting of Lockwood Estates | Nancy Drew & Supernatural crossover!
@the-rad-pineapple and I (@scionglobe ) have posted “Chapter 18 - Nancy”! Follow the links below to the start of the story! :)
Wattpad
A03
Fanfic
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edwardsmate4ever · a day ago
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Chapter 6 is now available on FFN and AO3. Hope you enjoy!
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prolix-principality · a day ago
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Pacific Rim: Newt, Hermann, Pentacost, Tendo, Sasha, misc characters 3 chapters; 13,030 words. ~ “Your eyes. Your expression. Your smile. I’ve worked with you for ten years, Hermann, and words have never been our primary method of communication.” ~ Warning: food, panic/anxiety attack, discussion of a traumatic/neglectful childhood, awkward situations, (brief!) mention of vomit/alcohol/murder, canon-typical blood, brief jokes about/mentions of sex
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pompomchan7 · a day ago
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In a sandy beach, on a cold winter's day, Moogyeong receives a promise.
"I will work hard….and I will chase after you."
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fuckyeahexofics · 2 days ago
Hi! Do you have any fanfic with pepople just loving and babying the maknaes?(Jongin/Sehun)
It doesn't really matter the ship or the people,
Thank you for all the hard work you do!
210203
Hi anon! It’s not much, but here are a few I think you'll enjoy!
do as your heart says (nobody love you like me) (Junmyeon/Sehun, canon, fluff, R)
nothing scares you about me and you (Kyungsoo/Jongin, a/b/o dynamics, college!au, NC-17)
-kei
Catch Me When I Fall (Chanyeol/Sehun, canon compliant, angst, PG-13)
-nav
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an-endless-saga · 2 days ago
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Age of Innocence
@blxsscd-x-fxrsakcn
Alex picked through the rubble of Gabriel's former lair carefully. Helena had done their job and destroyed it, though he wasn't sure where the angels were.
Had they all died? Where was Gabriel? Had he fled?
He heard a noise and wiped around kicking away a piece of drywall. He blinked momentarily thrown by the two children he saw huddled in the wall.
He didn't really want to kill kids but he remembered the higher that had infiltrated Vega.
"Get the fuck out of the wall or I shoot."
The older boy hissed and pulled his younger brother closer his wings coming up around them.
Alex sighed and raised his gun when he heard the sound of wings. He sighed and looked to hear Michael a few yards away.
"Hey Michael, can you come deal with these angels?"
Alex did find it odd that they didn't attack or run. He had never seen angels just sit like this.
Michael looked up from the carvings on the floor.
"Yes, I'd step back Lannon. I want to see if I can reason with them."
He moved toward the hole and just as he stepped into view the angels moved. Alex yelled at shot at them.
One of the clung to Michael's legs as the other dived behind another set of boxes. The younger one looked up at Michael and reached his arms up.
"Uncle Mica? Up?"
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artificialqueens · 3 days ago
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Friends No Benefits (RoséNali) - Theunlabeledbitch
Summary: Denali breaks down in tears during their break before shooting the tenth episode's untucked. But not exactly for the reason Rosé thinks.
[A/N: this is the first part of my on-going RoséNali angst one-shot series on ao3! please lemme know what you think!]
Keep reading on AO3
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hi, are there any fics about what happened after the kiss in episode 11x11, after the kiss? thank you, love your blog
Hey :) In Trust Me right after the kiss Ian decides to show Mickey that they can still behave like they do in the South Side while enjoying their new lifestyle.
Maybe someone will write more later, cause the scene is very new.
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prolix-principality · 3 days ago
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Good Omens: Jhergkorey (OC), Gregorial (OC), Aziraphale (mentioned), Crawly/Crowley (mentioned), misc characters (mentioned) Single chapter; 2,642 words. ~ Jhergkorey the demon and Gregorial the angel met in 4004 BC, two weeks after the fall of man. They met at a meeting instructing them in how to use the Earth Surveillance System. Now they talk to each other on the software’s messaging system about each millennia’s updates to the software, office gossip, and what they see on Earth. Oftentimes what they see on earth is another angel and demon. ~ Warning: food mentions, invasion of privacy ~ Podfic available - Thimblerig
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nevertherose · 3 days ago
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One Hundred Seconds to Midnight- Chapters 9-13
"All Roman wanted to do was take Logan on a Doctor Who LARP within the Imagination.
But with Thomas's Sides at their figurative breaking point after the disastrous wedding, the Imagination may just have a few ideas of her own..."
Here's the next chunk:
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Chapter 9- Gridlock
“This Martha. She must mean an awful lot to you.”
“Hardly know her. I was too busy showing off. And I lied to her. Couldn’t help it, just lied.”
Patton felt strange.
Well, he’d felt strange for a while now, ever since this odd little adventure had started, but it grew worse the further into the asylum they traveled. His limbs were strangely heavy, he couldn’t seem to catch his breath, and there was a chill in his core that no amount of self-hugging could alleviate.
And he kept having these flashes of…well, anger. Like, sure, being stuck in the Imagination in the middle of the night was a tad frustrating, but that was no reason to feel this…this blind, red rage that welled up from time to time.
What was wrong with him?
Patton needed a hug.
He wondered if Janus would give him one, if he asked.
Eh…maybe not. Janus was many things: smart, cunning, arrogant, fiercely caring…but huggable wasn’t a word that immediately came to mind.
The ladder from the escape pod had led down a long shaft that dumped out into an empty metal hallway; dark, rusty, and with water dripping everywhere. Janus had found a computer terminal and scanned the area, plotting out a route that would lead them around various knots of warring aliens. He located Remus’ tiny prison almost immediately, and ignored it in favor of scanning for a teleportation chamber.
“If I have to be in this stupid adventure,” he informed Patton tersely, “I want my damned TARDIS back.”
“I’m not arguing with you.” Patton spread his hands.
“We’ll have to cross four hangers and a maze of corridors to reach the room,” Janus mused, irritatedly rubbing the scales on his face. “And it looks like most of this area is still infected with the nano cloud.”
“I know,” Patton whispered as Janus strode off.
Patton would feel a lot better about their chances if this hadn’t been the fifth time they’d had this exact conversation.
One empty hanger and two hallways later, Janus stopped at another terminal.
“Janus…” Patton started.
“There’s Remus’s prison,” Janus muttered, staring at the screen and ignoring him completely. “But where’s…ah. There’s a teleportation chamber about three hangers away. We should head for that.”
“But…”
“No, Patton, we are not going after Remus first.” Janus sighed, and itched his face. “If I have to be in this stupid adventure—”
“You want your damned TARDIS back, I know!” Patton yelled.
Janus blinked at him, and narrowed his eyes.
“You never swear.”
I never feel like this. Why am I acting like this?
“And you are being affected by the nano cloud,” Patton said hurriedly. “We keep having this same conversation over and over! I am begging you, please wear the bracelet for a while. ”
He held out his wrist, which Janus absently took in his hands. His mouth compressed, so hard that the skin around the snakelike slit grew pale.
“Or let me go ahead of you, and try to deactivate the cloud,” Patton offered.
“You wouldn’t be able to hack the system.” Janus shook his head. “I have all the Master’s knowledge, which is why I can.”
“Then you take the bracelet and do it!”
“We’re not splitting up, Patton.”
Patton growled softly and turned away, walking in a small circle to calm himself down.
“You…just…I am getting really frustrated with you, mister,” he sputtered. “Take. The. Bracelet.”
“I’m tough, Patton. I can handle it.” Janus smiled bitterly. “Maybe the cloud is messing with my memory a little, but it will never be able to actually convert me.”
Patton frowned…or tried to. His facial expressions felt weirdly stiff.
“Why’s that?”
“You remember the whole ‘how do you make a Dalek’ schtick?” Janus’s grin grew wider, fangs flashing behind his lips. “‘Erase love, add anger’? Well. My heart is already cold and hard. There’s no love to erase, and thus, nothing to convert.”
Patton felt his own heart break, to hear Janus say such awful things about himself…but…maybe he had an inadvertent point. Patton knew that he himself, on his best days, was a squishy ball of excessive caring and emotion, prone to bouts of both effervescence and melancholy (or so Roman had described him, once). Nothing to be ashamed of; as Thomas’s heart, that’s just who Patton was.
But as such, maybe…maybe the nano cloud really would have an awful, immediate effect on him. He already felt so strange…
Maybe Janus was right to insist he keep the bracelet on.
Well. Patton put his hands on his hips, huffing. That doesn’t mean he gets to talk bad about himself.
“Hello?” a strange, almost furry-sounding voice called.
Two aliens rounded the corner behind them. They looked almost human, except for their furred bodies, large, feline ears and catlike faces. They moved hesitantly, with inhuman grace, their long tails flicking nervously behind them.
“Ooh, Janus, they’re Catkind!” Patton gasped softly, clasping his hands together. “I always wanted to see one up close…”
“But where the hell did they come from?” Janus groused. “We were just in that corridor…and also, may I remind you that you’re allergic?”
“Hello there!” Patton called as the Cat People approached, ignoring Janus’s eye roll. “Where did you come from?”
“I’m not sure.” The tabby-like Cat Person rubbed their furred hands together. “One moment we were in our hover van, watching the newscast as always, and then…oh!”
The Cat Person’s eyes widened as they drew up to Patton. Janus quickly stepped between them and lifted his hands.
“It’s okay, we’re lost here, just like you,” he said smoothly.
“Well. I guess strange times make strange bedfellows, or something like that,” the tabby Cat joked, flashing a mouthful of feline teeth.
“Isn’t that the truth,” Janus crooned. “You were saying…?”
Patton was beginning to sense, more and more, that Janus was actively, purposefully hiding something from him.
But now wasn’t exactly a good time to ask.
“We were watching the TV,” the second Cat Person said. They were shorter, their voice and fur color both lighter than that of their companion, and they wore a sling pouch across their body. “And something flickered across the screen; I can’t remember exactly what it was. A gray face, or…” They shrugged, furred shoulders rippling. “And then we were just…here.”
A tiny face popped out of the sling as they spoke. It meowed, and Patton let out a very undignified squeal.
“Is that a kitten?” he all but squeaked, holding hands up to his face. It was so cute!
“Oh! Yes.” The pale Cat smiled down at the sling. “Our six babes. They sleep better when I keep them close.”
“Can I pet them?” Patton was practically vibrating. “Pretty please? I’ll be very careful.”
The Cat frowned, exchanging a glance with their partner, but carefully extracted a kitten and cradled it. Patton ran a trembling finger down its spine and cooed when it started to purr.
Janus, meanwhile, was stroking his bottom lip.
“Catkind…hover van…were you on the Motorway in New New York, by chance?”
The tabby Cat frowned. “Well, of course.”
“The Gridlock episode,” Janus said quietly to Patton. “Which was set in the far future, if I recall. But where…or I suppose, ‘when’…does the asylum episode fall within that timeline?”
Patton shrugged. He didn’t have Logan’s or, he supposed, Janus’s patience for untangling complex plot threads in TV shows, and time was so wibbly wobbly within the Doctor Who universe anyway. Plus, knowing “when” the Cat People were from didn’t explain how they spontaneously ended up here, in this hallway.
They’re just…here, like that Tivolian in the escape pod. Sadness rushed through him. The asylum was no place for innocent people like this, especially a couple with babies!
“If I may,” the tabby Cat said as their partner resettled their kittens in the sling. “Where did the two of you come from? And where are we?”
“Ah, well, that’s a rather long story,” Janus said. “We—”
“Ah-ha! More intruders in our quadrant!”
Six or so squat Sontarans, all helmeted and bristling with blaster rifles, flooded into the corridor. The two Cat People froze, eyes growing wide.
“Terminate them,” the Sontaran leader shouted, pointing. “For the glory of Sontar!
“Invasion of the Potato People,” Janus snarked, fangs flashing, as he flicked a setting on his sonic laser. “Just what we need.”
The aliens raised their guns.
“Now, er, fellas,” Patton tried, raising his arms. “There’s…there’s no need for violence. Can’t we all just, uh, get along?”
“The Sontaran Empire does not take orders from your kind, metal scum!” the lead Sontaran snarled. “Fire!”
“Run!” Janus shouted, seizing Patton’s arm and shoving the two terrified Cat People ahead of him.
There was a confused, mad rush through a half dozen corridors, dodging blaster fire, as Janus occasionally fired back with his laser and stopped to hack closed doors as they encountered them.
The clomp of boots and chanting echoed behind them.
“Sontar-ha! Sontar-ha!”
At one junction, the Cat People peeled off down a smaller random hallway before Patton could even protest.
“Splitting up is safer! We can’t worry about them!” Janus yelled, yanking Patton a different direction. That corridor ended in a door that Janus couldn’t seem to hack, and they had to backtrack to a tiny alcove, folding themselves inside and catching their breath.
There was barely enough room for the two of them.
Janus pressed one yellow-clad hand against Patton’s chest as they waited, warily, for the bootsteps and yelling to pass, their breaths filling the space. He was so close that Patton could count the individual scales on his cheekbone and the green flecks in his yellow slitted eye. Unfamiliar facial hair…familiar, hooded gaze.
It occurred to Patton, suddenly, that he’d never stood this close to Janus before. Close enough to feel his slight warmth, to breathe in the spicy, subtle aroma emanating from his clothes…
“Did you know you smell like cloves?” Patton blurted out when the corridor was silent again. It had been such an odd thing to notice.
It also wasn’t unpleasant.
Janus didn’t acknowledge that, but instead massaged his temples.
“Ugh, my head is killing me.”
“Say…” Patton narrowed his eyes as he realized he was looking down at the other Side. “Aren’t I shorter than you? In the mindspace anyway.”
If Patton hadn’t been looking for it, he might have missed the way Janus’s eyes widened infinitesimally.
“Well.” Janus shrugged, all expression gone. “I hadn’t paid much attention.”
Liar.
Something stone-like settled in Patton’s stomach.
“No, you’re definitely supposed to be taller,” he said, more firmly.
Deceit.
“If the Imagination altered our clothes coming in, surely it could have altered our heights.”
Janus’s voice was as smooth as ever, and for a moment, Patton hated how easily the snake-faced Side did this. The unfamiliar anger at the back of his mind swirled.
Deceit, come on.
“Well, then why didn’t I sneeze when I pet that kitten?” Patton demanded. “You yourself pointed out that I’m allergic.”
“Kittens don’t produce the protein that triggers an allergic reaction.” Janus’s eyes went distant for a moment. “I do hope that couple found a safe place to hide.”
“Gosh, yeah, me too…” Patton murmured, and then frowned. “Oh, no you don’t, mister, you’re trying to change the subject! I wasn’t allergic to the parents, either; explain that!”
Janus shrugged, still infuriatingly calm.
“Maybe Catkind as a whole don’t produce ordinary feline dander.”
“Why won’t you just tell me what it is you’re hiding!” Patton snapped, grabbing the other Side’s shoulders and raising a hand…wait.
What…am I doing?
Janus had paled, and the spark of actual fear flashing in his eyes was enough to snap Patton out of…whatever that was. He stared at his hands and for a moment, he swore he saw…
But then it was gone.
And Janus had pulled away, stepping out into the now-empty corridor.
“We should keep moving,” he threw over his shoulder, jacket flapping as he stalked away, leaving Patton to stumble after him.
“Janus.”
Janus’s shoulders flinched but he kept walking, his boots clacking harshly on the concrete floor.
Patton hurried to catch up.
“Janus!”
The snake-faced Side turned a corner, taking him out of Patton’s line of sight for a moment. Patton broke into a run, rounding the corner and almost crashing into him.
He’d stopped, and was typing away at yet another terminal.
Patton realized they were back at the door from before, the one Janus hadn’t been able to hack. Muffled shrieks and shouts echoed through the thick metal from the other side.
“Almost got it,” Janus muttered, absently rubbing his head; hadn’t he mentioned a headache earlier? He’s always concealing things. I wish he could just…but Patton still felt shaken by what had happened earlier, so he decided to let it go for now.
Best to avoid another quarrel.
“Are you sure we want to go this way?” he said instead. “It sounds like a battle on the other side.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Patton.” Janus waved a hand, not looking at him. “I already looked. It’s just some people milling around; they likely won’t even notice us. And the teleportation chamber we need is on the other side.”
Patton frowned, and hunched to peer through the smudged rectangle of glass on the door. It was difficult to make out specifics, but he definitely saw blaster fire, and knots of very large aliens running back and forth.
“That is not just people, J—” he started, but then the door slid open and Janus was already striding through.
“—Janus, no!” Patton yelped and followed.
That door, it turned out, had been blocking a great deal of noise. Yelling, clanging, blaster fire hitting metal, horribly familiar robotic voices screeching. Knots of hulking Judoon fought a proper horde of green Silurians, with a few commanding Daleks thrown in on both sides.
It was impossible to tell who was winning, if anyone; or what, if anything, they were fighting over.
Patton caught up to Janus and grabbed his jacket collar.
“See, Patton?” Janus shot him an easygoing smirk that made Patton’s stomach twist in alarm, and waved a hand. “It’s just people.”
“Oh, no, I remember this bit now,” Patton murmured.
He seized Janus’s face.
“Janus Sanders, the nanocloud is altering your perception,” he said, twisting the other Side around. “Look again, look!”
Janus looked, and Patton heard his swift intake of breath.
“EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! THE CARGO DOOR HAS BEEN BREACHED!”
Several Daleks split off from the battle and rolled toward the two of them, drawing a few curious Silurians along. Patton huffed.
“And now they’ve seen us.”
He again held up his arms, though logically he knew negotiating with Daleks was a worse non-starter than placating Sontarans. Still…it never hurt to try.
A Silurian grabbed one of their neighbors, and pointed at him.
“It has a nano repeller!” they called. “Seize it!”
“Well, that’s new,” Janus snarked.
“Run?” Patton squeaked as more Silurians peeled off from the main battle.
“Run,” Janus confirmed.
They bolted across the hanger and through the thick of the fight.
The pursuing Daleks actually proved to be a useful distraction, charging after them with blasters blazing, drawing enemy fire away from the two Sides. But the pursuing Silurians were faster, and they kept chasing long after the Daleks found other, more engaging targets.
The Silurians tailed Patton and Janus into the adjoining corridor, briefly catching up when Janus had to stop and hack yet another door. The door slid open as green hands scrabbled at Patton’s arms. Janus zapped one with his laser and pulled Patton through, slamming the inside panel with his other hand.
The door slid shut, and Janus fried the controls so it couldn’t be easily opened again.
Patton breathed.
They were safe, again, for the moment.
At least Patton thought they were….until he happened to glance down at his hands.
“Janus!” he yelled shrilly. “My bracelet is gone! Oh no, oh no, oh no…I thought if we didn’t lose it in the escape pod we wouldn’t lose it at all…”
“Patton.” Janus was abruptly in his face, gloved hands gripping his jawline. “Patton, breathe.”
“I’m sorry!” Patton sobbed. “I lost it and now we’re both going to turn into Daleks, Janus, I’m so sorry—!”
“Nonsense.” Janus’s voice grew sharp. “You have nothing to worry about.”
And something…truthy...in the timbre of those words cut through Patton’s rising panic like a slap to the face.
“And why is that?” Patton asked, just as sharply.
Janus hesitated.
He very clearly hesitated, his fingers digging into the nape of Patton’s neck. Patton held his breath.
“Because…” Janus swallowed, his eyes darting away. “Because nobody in this universe or any other could possibly exhaust the well of love that is Patton Sanders’ heart.”
And with that he whirled away, stalking to the raised teleportation platform and sliding under the glass floor.
With an effort, Patton closed his gaping mouth (darn his stiff muscles). He’d never been so certain in all his life that Janus had just lied to him, again…but it was also the sweetest and most vulnerable thing he’d ever heard the other say. It sent a shock of warmth down to Patton’s too-cold toes.
Janus…Janus truly believed that Patton’s heart held too much love for the Daleks to steal?
“Oh.” Patton exhaled, gaze drawn to Janus as he rewired the platform; jacket sleeves rolled up his forearms, sonic held between his teeth and a look of utter concentration on his face.
That strange, and oddly beautiful face.
Oh.
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Chapter 10- Silence in the Library
“The shadows are moving again. Those people are depending on you. Only you can save them. Only you.”
“What I want to know,” Roman griped as he and Logan slumped against yet another corridor wall, “is where all these blasted aliens are coming from.”
Ever since giving Remus’s “Silurian army” the slip, they’d encountered one obstacle after another. They’d been pursued what felt like halfway across the asylum by a pair of crafty Saturnynians wanting their nano bracelets; Roman had singlehandedly fought off a horde of Tritovores; Logan had outsmarted a Sontaran troop by trapping them in a small chamber with only one working door; and they had only just outrun a platoon of Judoon.
All with Logan unable to see anything more than five feet in front his face.
Roman, if he was being honest with himself, kind of didn’t mind being Logan’s eyes. Sure, his sword arm was sore from fending off aliens trying to rob them or kill them (Roman fought with the flat of his blade, of course; no need for pointless killing). But having his crush depend on him to see threats coming, and to keep from crashing into things…it was nice to feel needed.
For once.
Plus…Roman could compose entire sonnets on how beautiful Logan’s galaxy-dark eyes were, when they weren’t hidden behind glasses.
“Remus,” Logan called, straightening up. “We could use some help.”
Roman scoffed. “I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”
“If Logan offers to pay in dick pics, I might get something up,” Remus’s whiny voice commented from the wall behind them, making them both jump.
Roman sputtered.
Did his brother really have to keep…was it even flirting, when it was that crude? Roman knew logically he was only doing it to get a reaction, but gosh darn Remus for going straight for his metaphorical heart.
“We are all anatomically the same, Remus.” Logan frowned. “Why you would wish to see my—?”
“Logan, I implore you not to finish that sentence.” Roman flapped his hands.
Logan leaned over to squint at him. And quite apart from Remus's inappropriate commentary, Roman wished he could figure out what that intense, narrow-eyed look Logan kept giving him meant. Right now he was sure his face must be as red as his missing Prince sash.
“It would be helpful,” Logan went on, turning to face the general direction of the wall speaker, “if I could see a current life-form reading for the whole planet. Then we would know which areas to avoid. Remus, is that something you can hack into?”
“Only for you, Logie-bear,” Remus answered. “Or should I say Nina? There’s a terminal with a screen just down the hallway.”
“Remus, I swear…” Roman brandished his sword at the speaker as Logan climbed to his feet.
But Remus only giggled, and Roman didn’t know how to finish the threat without prompting uncomfortable questions, anyway.
The screen showed the whole planet, with life-form density marked in red and notes written in some alien tongue. Logan leaned close, typing in various commands, looking at different areas; his frown grew deeper as he worked.
“Is that, like, a whole lot of red, or do I just not know how to read this thing?” Roman asked.
“No, it doesn’t make any sense,” Logan muttered, mostly to himself. “Remus. Will you read that number to me? Perhaps the Doctor’s command of this language is incomplete…”
“You mean the part where it says there are currently 13 billion life forms on the planet?” Remus said.
“What?” Roman sputtered.
“Exactly. It’s preposterous.” Logan nodded. “Nearly twice the population of humans on Earth. We’d be packed into this asylum like sardines, were the population really so high. Perhaps it’s aggregate?”
“Hmm, you know people can aggregate, too, especially during orgies when they f…”
“Remus, while normally I would applaud a creative use of vocabulary,” Logan cut in with a flat expression. “I do not wish to discuss group copulation at this time, or any other.”
Roman, meanwhile ran a hand down his (flushing) face.
“‘Copulation’, my ass,” he grumbled.
“Yes, that is usually how it works among men,” Remus crooned.
“REMUS!”
“Both of you!” Logan snapped. “Enough. Remus, please.”
“Fiiiine. Here’s your stats over a span of weeks.” Remus flashed another chart on the screen. “And here’s months, and years.”
More charts.
“See, this math makes more sense.” Logan reached up as if to adjust his glasses, but dropped his hand when he realized they weren’t there. “A constant flow of new aliens, while a smaller number disappear every day. That is unfortunately as I would expect in such a volatile environment.”
He peered closer to the screen.
“However, nearly eighty percent of the abnormally high life form readings are concentrated in a few clusters around the asylum; mostly in isolated, out of the way places. Remus, can you provide a visual for one of those areas?”
Remus did so, the screen switching to what appeared to be a security feed, pointed at a storage room. A room which was conspicuously empty, except for a few piles of long, white objects.
“Come on, quit fucking around,” Roman complained.
“Language.” Remus’s voice tsked.
Roman scoffed. “Oh, put a maggoty sock in it, Remus; you aren’t Patton.”
“Careful with those metaphors, brother mine, or you’ll start to sound like me.”
“Why you—!”
“Hush!” Logan snapped with a frown. “No, these…these are the correct coordinates. According to this data, there are several million life forms packed into that space.”
Roman and Remus gasped in unison, causing Logan to shoot Roman an alarmed look.
“How big are the ‘life forms’ that chart is picking up?” Roman demanded.
“Way ahead of you.” Remus threw more readouts onto the screen. “But I’ll bet my favorite stick of deodorant that they’re really, really small.”
“They appear to be microscopic, in fact,” Logan’s eyebrows shot up. “And those white objects…”
“Bones,” Roman whispered. “‘A million million life forms, and silence in the library’.”
Logan’s eyes widened. “Vashta Narada?”
“Vashta Narada!” Remus screeched, startling them both.
It took Roman a moment to realize his brother had screeched with glee.
“Ooh, look, there are so many of them!” Remus pulled up a chart of the whole planet, with clusters illuminated in red. Logan whipped out his screwdriver and scanned the screen.
“I did wonder why the Daleks always avoided the shadows, and ooh, look! Bones! Piles and piles of bones!” Remus showed another security feed; Roman quickly turned away. “They’re so clean.”
“I have downloaded the locations of the worst nests,” Logan flashed his sonic. “So we can avoid those areas, too.”
“Well, that’s just boring,” Remus complained. “One of you could surely sacrifice a leg or something. Aren’t you curious to see what your skeleton looks like?”
“Nobody wants to see that!” Roman felt slightly nauseated at the idea.
“Well, and if they did,” Logan added, ever literal, “that is what X-rays are for.”
“The Vashta Narada are his favorite Doctor Who alien,” Roman said in a lower voice. “He talked about that episode for weeks—”
The lights cut out, and the Voice…that’s what Roman had taken to calling it, anyway…mumbled its incomprehensible speech. It had happened several times on their journey now.
“What is that?” he demanded once the lights came back up.
“I think I heard ‘tower’, that time, and something about seconds,” Logan commented.
Roman shrugged.
“I may regret this, but…Remus, what do you think?” he asked with a grimace.
Silence.
Roman sighed. “Typical.”
A blast down the hall interrupted them.
Several Daleks rolled into the hallway, screeching in their room-filling, robotic voices. Roman seized Logan’s arm and pulled them into an alcove, placing his hand over Logan’s mouth when the logical Side started to protest.
“Daleks, super close,” Roman whispered.
He swore he felt Logan shiver in his grasp, and tried not to hyperfocus on the other’s rapid breathing, and heated skin, and…
One of the Daleks rolled in their direction. “INTRUDER! COME OUT AT ONCE!”
Logan pried Roman’s hand away.
“If we are at the scene in the asylum episode that I believe we are,” he said lowly, “then this should be the Dalek that runs out of power. If so, I remember how to defeat it.”
“And if it’s not?” Roman whisper-demanded.
“INTRUDER!”
“Then we will think of something else.”
“But—!”
Logan pulled Roman’s face very close, effectively shutting him up. His dark pupils were wide with adrenaline, his skin flushed with all the running they’d done. Roman couldn’t help it; his gaze flickered to Logan’s lips.
Those well-bitten, unfairly kissable lips.
“Roman,” Logan said softly, the words puffing against Roman’s face. “Do you trust me?”
“Oh, you…you can’t just quote Aladdin at me, Lo,” Roman protested weakly. “That’s not fair.”
“I would not be here to quote it, if you hadn’t gotten us this far. I outwitted the Sontarans; let me handle this.” Logan leaned even closer, and Roman couldn’t move even if he wanted to. “Do you trust me?”
Always, Doctor.
Roman nodded.
“INTRU—der—!”
As if on cue, the Dalek sputtered to a stop just before it reached their hiding place.
Logan shot Roman a devastating smirk and stepped out.
“All right, you rolling tin can.” Logan flicked his wrists and performed a mocking bow. Even half-blind, he was so fully and completely the Doctor in that moment that the performer inside Roman could only swoon.
Well, their Source was an actor, after all. Even his Logic instinctively knew how to work an audience.
“Identify me. Access your files. Who am I?” Logan’s voice dropped. “Come on. I’m tired and blind and just want to go home. Who’s your daddy?”
Roman choked and slapped a hand over his mouth.
“YOU ARE THE PREDATOR,” the Dalek declared.
“And what are your standing orders concerning the Predator?” Logan asked.
“THE PREDATOR MUST BE DESTROYED.” The Dalek attempted to use its gunstick, but only managed to wiggle it around.
“And how are you going to do that, Dalek?” Logan smirked, making Roman swallow another soft noise. “Without a gun, you’re a tricycle with a roof. How are you going to destroy me?”
“SELF-DESTRUCT INITIATED,” the Dalek warned, a light inside its eyepiece flashing red.
“Oh, heck, I remember this!” Roman rushed out to join Logan, as the other pulled out his sonic and lifted the Dalek’s lid.
“Exactly, Roman.” Logan ran the screwdriver along the shell’s insides.
“SELF-DESTRUCT CANNOT BE COUNTERMANDED.”
“I’m not looking for a countermand, dear.” Logan slammed the lid down. “I was looking for reverse.”
The Dalek whizzed backwards, flailing its appendages, its lights flashing frantically.
“FORWARD! FORWARD!”
It sped back into the chamber it had vacated, where several other Daleks waited.
“Run!”
Logan pulled Roman along (nearly running them into a wall; Roman quickly righted their direction), barely making it to the other end of the hallway when the Dalek exploded. Roman pushed them both down, crouching protectively over Logan as heat blasted against both their backs.
The asylum shook.
Grit rained down on their heads.
When it stopped, Roman pulled Logan to his feet and led them back through the newly-cleared chamber, dust still settling in the air. Dalek shells lay scattered, cracked and smoking; he had to guide Logan around them.
(There were a few other…bodies, too, which Roman determinedly looked away from and didn’t mention.)
“Oh my gosh, Roman! Logan!” a somewhat familiar voice shouted.
A Cyberman came barreling across the floor, prompting Roman to raise his sword…but relaxed when he realized it was only Patton.
“Janus, I’ve found the others!” Patton shouted over his shoulder. Roman squinted but didn’t see anyone else. “Boy, am I glad to see you guys!”
“We are pleased to see you as well, Patton.” Logan scrunched his face up in that adorable squint again; Roman caught himself smiling fondly, and swallowed the expression.
“Although unfortunately,” Logan added, “I mean ‘see’ in an entirely metaphorical sense right now.”
“Oh no, Logan, did you lose your glasses?” Patton caught up to them, as clunky and metal and frankly scary-looking as before. “Well, come on. Janus found a teleportation room, and is almost finished rewiring it to get us out of here.”
He led them across the exploded chamber, around a bend, and directly into a room with a raised glass platform, and machinery-covered walls. The platform itself looked half-disassembled, with dozens of wires and components sticking out.
Janus lay, collapsed and unmoving, at the base of it.
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Chapter 11- The Power of Three
“I’m not running away from things, I am running to them before they flare and fade forever.”
Patton screeched.
There was no other word for the unholy noise that came out of his mouth, Logan decided. The moral Side-turned-Cyberman rushed to Janus’s collapsed form, shaking him and calling his name.
“I don’t know what happened!” he cried, rocking back on his heels. “He was fine when I left…well, not fine, he hasn’t been exactly fine this whole time, but he was awake!”
Logan knelt beside the downed Side and scanned him.
“He does not appear to have suffered any sort of electrical shock or other accident.” Logan peered at his screwdriver, reading numbers on the tiny screen.
(Yes, it had a readout, something he’d never noticed from the show.)
“Hmm. It would seem that the nano cloud is having an unexpected effect on his serpentine biology,” Logan explained, leaning over to place a hand under Janus’s jaw, and then over his heart. “It is making him too cold.”
“Oh!” Patton’s stance shifted. It was difficult to read his body language in his current state. “So do we need to, like, cuddle him or something? Body heat is good for cold, right?”
“Well I’m certainly not cuddling that viper!” Roman announced, folding his arms.
Patton awkwardly rubbed his head. “I mean…I could do it.”
It was on the tip of Logan’s tongue to point out that Patton would not be warming anyone up with his cold, metallic body…but it was clear he still didn’t know. And if Janus still hadn’t told him, Logan certainly wasn’t going to do it right now.
Patton having an identity crisis would be a distraction they didn’t need.
Roman stared at Patton with narrowed eyes, looking ready to protest. Logan stepped in before an argument could begin in earnest.
“Body heat would not be enough,” he said. “But I believe if I reconfigure one of our protective bracelets to counter those particular effects, he would revive on his own. Of course, that would mean one of us temporarily going without nano cloud protection.”
Patton sighed and rubbed his wrist.
“I’d give up mine in a heartbeat, except I already lost it earlier.”
Typical Patton. Logan bit back a sigh of exasperation. His was the bracelet he'd been hoping to use, as Patton didn't actually need it. Always willing to sacrifice his own wellbeing, and always losing things.
Well, that meant there was only one way to wake Janus.
He’d begun the process of unfastening his own bracelet when a strong, warm hand stopped him.
“Hang on, Calculator Watch.” Roman separated Logan’s hands. Annoyed caramel eyes stared into his own. “Why do you automatically assume you should be the one to give up your only means of protection?”
Logan frowned.
“Of the two of us, Roman, I am the least emotional. Obviously it has to be me.”
Roman let go and paced the room, coming back with determination sparking in his gaze.
“Look, I’m going to be logical here, because I know that’s the one thing you understand,” he said.
“Roman, we don’t have time—” Logan started, but Roman silenced him with a finger over his lips.
Logan noted, absently, how his skin reacted to the touch.
“We have to finish this game before Thomas wakes up, right?” Roman sighed, his eyes flickering down to Janus. “And as much as it pains me to admit it, the snake is smarter than me. We need both brainiacs on this team awake and thinking clearly to get us out of here.”
“Roman, you—” Logan protested.
“We both know I’m the expendable one here!” Roman yelled, pushing his bracelet-ed wrist into Logan’s face. “So just take it and fix him.”
“Falsehood!” Logan shoved at Roman’s arm. “May I remind you that the nano cloud subtracts love and adds anger; ergo, it manipulates feelings. As I have said many times before, and let me know if I lose you, I am not a feeling. I am Logic. It won’t—”
“You are Thomas’s Logic, you big-brained idiot!” Roman got in his face again. “And no part of Thomas could simply lack the ability to feel things. It's not in him. That's why you are not just Logic; you are Logan, and you already have a temper problem. The last thing you need is more anger!”
Logan whipped out his stack of vocabulary cards and flipped through them.
“As they say: ‘pot, meet kettle’,” he snapped, holding one up.
Roman growled, raising his hand like he’d knock the card away, but seemed to realize that would only prove Logan’s point. The hand clenched into a fist, which fell resignedly onto Logan’s chest.
Like a soft shock against his skin.
Logan was quite sure Roman’s touch didn’t always do that.
“Using mine will buy us more time. The conversation will take longer with me,” Roman said through thin, angry lips, staring at the floor.
“Why?” Logan whispered.
Roman’s fist flattened into a palm, still resting against Logan’s chest.
“It’s just arithmetic. It’ll take longer with me because…”
Logan inhaled sharply, and Roman’s suddenly wide eyes came up to meet his.
“It'll take longer with me because we both know, we've always known, that, the basic fact of our relationship is that I love you more than you love me.”
Without even realizing it, they’d been reenacting the fight between Amy and Rory.
Logan placed his own hand over Roman’s, wondering if the other could feel how rapidly his heart was beating. Does…does Roman really believe I care for him less than he does for me?
Well.
Thinking back over their tumultuous friendship, the fights, the insults; he realized he’d given the creative Side every reason to believe that. But then another realization crashed over Logan, which he felt like a physical shock through his system.
Do I…do I love Roman?
Headstrong, stubborn Roman, who knew exactly how to get under his skin with his ridiculous ideas and over-the-top facial expressions and twisty, rapid-fire cleverness. Brave, selfless Roman, who’d sacrificed his own dreams just to ensure their Source could keep a clear conscience.
Roman, with that wild hair and pouting lower lip and those fiery, passionate eyes that made Logan feel warm just from looking into them. He defied all logic, all sense, all attempts to constrain or catalogue or categorize him.
And Logan…Logan absolutely loved him for that.
“So…so it has to be me,” Roman concluded, glaring, finally snatching his hand away.
It took Logan a moment to remember what they’d actually been arguing about. He grabbed at Roman’s wrist as the other began blindly removing his bracelet, both hands held high above Logan’s head.
“Roman, no, you’re…you’re making a mistake,” he grated, as Roman continued to keep his arms out of reach. No matter how he tried, Logan couldn’t budge him; the other Side was much stronger.
“Yeah?” Roman succeeded in unsnapping his bracelet. “Well, get a pen and get in line, Specs. I have a list.”
He thrust the device into Logan’s hands and stomped away, avoiding Patton’s questioning gaze.
Logan shook his head, hand tightening around Roman’s bracelet until the edges bit into his skin. Stubborn.
So, so stubborn.
Like you, a quiet part of his mind whispered. He’s your equal, your check. That’s why you like him.
…and that’s why it could never work.
He exhaled, resigned.
Then he pulled out his sonic, and set about reprograming the bracelet to wake Janus.
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Chapter 12- A Good Man Goes to War
“Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.”
Janus awoke with a pounding headache and a frayed temper. He sat up, digging at his face so hard he dislodged a scale. Irritably flicking it away, he saw that Patton had managed to find both Logan and Roman.
Good. That means we can all get out of here.
“Janus—” Patton started, but Janus held up a finger.
“Do not.”
He stood up, swaying a little, hating the way they all clustered around him.
“Stop hovering, I’m fine,” he grumbled, waving them away. Aside from the headache, his body felt stiff and sluggish…probably similar to how Patton feels, he realized, which did not help his sour mood.
“What happened to me?” he demanded, flexing his hands.
“The nano particles caused your internal body temperature to drop too quickly,” Logan explained. “Which, due to your unique biology, caused you to pass out. Your reflexes may be impaired for a few minutes as the bracelet continues to counteract the effects.”
Janus glanced down at his wrist, noting the bulky black bracelet with its cheerfully blinking light. Who…? Not Patton, his was lost; so probably Logan…but no, Logan still wore his. But that leaves…
Sure enough, both of Roman’s wrists were bare.
Janus raised an eyebrow, but the princely Side refused to meet his gaze.
Whatever.
“I am getting us off this rock and back to our TARDISs,” Janus groused, stalking to the abandoned panel and picking up the wire cutters he’d found. “Feel free to either help, or preferably stay the hell out of my way.”
“Ooooh, Jan Jan sounds a widdle angwy.” Remus’s sing-song voice crackled over a loudspeaker. “Pretty soon he’s going to try and kill you.”
“That does it!” Janus whirled and threw the cutters at the wall, eliciting a startled noise from Roman when they narrowly missed his face. “Logan, you reprogram the damned panel. I am going to deal with Remus.”
“Oh no, I’m so scared!” Remus gushed, not sounding one bit scared.
Janus marched to the chamber door, only to be stopped by Roman’s outstretched arm.
“Move,” Janus growled, clenching a gloved hand.
Roman didn’t budge.
“What are you even going to do?” he demanded. “If this is like the episode, then he’s already a Dalek and we can’t exactly bring him along for a ride.”
“I’ll figure it out when I get there.” Janus knocked Roman’s arm aside. “Perhaps we’ll get lucky, and seeing him in person will be enough to satisfy the Imagination. We have to at least make the attempt.”
“Well, then I’m going with you!”
Janus stopped at that, turning slowly to face Roman.
“Why?” he said flatly. “Surely not because you crave the pleasure of my company.”
Roman mirrored Janus’s folded-arm stance.
“Maybe I don’t trust you.”
“Because you haven’t already made that crystal clear.”
“And maybe I have my own score to settle with my brother,” Roman added in a louder voice, glaring around the room as though waiting for Remus to butt in.
For once, Remus did not.
But maybe that was because the Voice chose that moment to override the comms again, dimming the lights and rattling off its garbled message. Logan narrowed his eyes, Patton cocked his head, but Roman simply looked annoyed.
The Prince does hate to be interrupted when he’s picking a fight. Janus rolled his eyes. Or maybe it’s the nano cloud, which would serve him right…
“You know,” Patton commented, once it was over. “That weird little speech almost sounds like Virgil, when he gets really upset and his voice goes all deep and layered.”
Janus’s eyes widened and he inadvertently met Logan’s shocked gaze.
It did.
It sounded very much like Virgil’s Tempest Tongue, and Virgil had been inexplicably missing from this entire adventure, and why had none of them made that connection?? Once again, Janus found himself both impressed and unsurprised that Patton had been the one to put the pieces together.
“If that’s true,” Logan began.
“You know it is,” Janus cut in, a little sharper than he meant to. Logan held up his hands.
“I was not disputing the validity of Patton’s claim,” he said.
“Uh, overprotective much, snake?” Roman said with an eye roll, making Janus’s scales bristle and his nostrils flare.
“If that is Virgil, and Patton is correct; it seems very likely,” Logan enunciated, still holding up his hands. “Then he is part of this LARP, and has been the entire time. If reunification is indeed the ultimate goal, we will need to locate him as well, in order to meet the Imagination’s requirements.”
“Well, I’m not fighting my way back through this goddamned, alien-infested haystack to look for one overdramatic, anxious eyeshadow palette,” Janus declared, turning toward the door again. “Not without my TARDIS. Virgil can sit on his moody ass and wait.”
“Language!” Patton called after him.
Roman, more annoyingly, followed; surprisingly quickly, given his short-skirted outfit.
“Mixed metaphors aside,” the creative Side said as Janus stalked across the exploded chamber. “I still demand to know what you mean to do when we reach my brother…will you slow down?”
Janus stormed into a far corridor, making a sharp left and leaving Roman to stumble along afterward. Two lefts, a right, a straight shot through Intensive Care and we should find Clara’s…or rather Remus’s…chamber.
“Come on,” he threw irritatedly over his shoulder. “Or is Mr. Really Obviously Muscular And Nice having a hard time keeping up? What are all those muscles for, anyway?”
“Don’t you dare bring up that courtroom right now, Deceit,” Roman said darkly, still trailing behind. “Don’t you dare.”
“Still refusing to use my name, I see,” Janus snarked. His fast, angry footfalls echoed on the concrete floor.
“Show me where you’ve earned the right to be called anything except what you are, Deceit,” Roman spat. “I can wait.”
Janus stopped and whirled, coat flaring, almost causing Roman to collide with him. He thrust a gloved finger into Roman’s face.
“You don’t get it. You still don’t get it, because you are too spoiled, entitled, and self-absorbed to even attempt to understand another Side’s point of view.”
Janus started walking again, ignoring the pinched, insulted look he knew Roman was giving the back of his head.
“And what exactly am I supposed to understand?” Roman demanded, catching up.
“Why do you know my name at all, W-R-O-M-M-I-N?” Janus asked.
Roman exhaled carefully, closing his eyes for a moment.
“Ignoring that obvious bait, we know your name because you told us.”
“Exactly! I told you!” Janus paused just outside the Intensive Care ward, facing Roman fully. “You know Deceit’s true name because Deceit willingly revealed it.” He let his voice drop. “Now why do you suppose he did that?”
“Stop referring to yourself in the third person like some creepy, two-faced Elmo doll,” Roman groused. “Obviously you wanted to manipulate Thomas into trusting you for some nefarious purpose of your own.”
“Oh, for—!” Janus exhaled, barely resisting the urge to beat his head against the wall. “I could have told Thomas my name any time I pleased, if his trust was the only thing I wanted.”
Roman smirked. “Ah-ha, so you admit you have an agenda—”
“I wanted your trust, Roman!” Janus roared, silencing the other. “Yours, and Patton’s. I thought taking my glove off would be enough of a symbolic gesture, and how did you repay me? With laughter!”
Roman just stared.
Janus sighed.
“You were on my side, in that courtroom,” he said in a quieter voice. “Whether you are willing to admit it or not, Creativity and Self Preservation make a strong team for Thomas, and I don’t hate you, Roman.”
Roman scoffed and rolled his eyes, but said nothing.
“I have been trying to be more than just Deceit, to Thomas, to…all of you,” Janus went on. “Given how well our Purposes align, I cannot understand why you, of all Sssides, have been the most resistant to the notion that I am not evil!”
“Then let me enlighten you, Jack the Fibber.” Roman leaned close, eyes ablaze with fury. “Remember that courtroom scenario you just bragged about? The one where you claim I was on your side?”
Janus made a “duh” gesture with his hand.
“Did you conveniently forget that you spent the entire time patronizing me, emotionally manipulating me, and making me look and feel like a fool?” Roman folded his arms. “Because if that’s how you treat your so-called ‘allies’, then I would hate to be an actual enemy.”
Janus frowned. It was true; he had done a bit of twisting Roman around his finger, hadn’t he?
“Nobody trusted me then, and I needed you to help Thomas make the right choice,” he explained. “Your pride and your little rivalry with me make you irrational at times. I couldn’t risk either getting in the way.”
Roman let out a humorless chuckle.
“See, you say things like that,” he gestured angrily, “and then act shocked when I do the honest thing and side with Patton.”
“Which you and I both now know was a missstake!” Janus snapped. He tapped a series of numbers into the control panel by the Intensive Care door, which slid open.
They went in, but Roman, unfortunately for Janus, was not finished.
“And don’t forget the part where you manipulated us all again, by removing Logan and impersonating him,” Roman said.
“Because you and Patton were handling that situation so admirably on your own,” Janus snarked.
“That is not the point! That has never been the point!” Roman waved his arms for emphasis, almost knocking into one of the cells along the walls.
“Even here, now, when I’m trying to have an actual conversation with you,” and he jabbed Janus’s chest, “you’re still trying to manipulate me. The only time you’ve called me by my actual name is when you’re like ‘oh, Roman, woe is me, why won’t you trust me’? The rest of the time it’s all mockery.”
“It’s almost like it hurts when someone refuses to call you by your actual name.” Janus leaned into Roman’s space, baring his fangs. “Doesssn’t it?”
Roman winced. It was a tiny, tiny motion, but Janus saw it.
“Fine. Janus. But lying and manipulation are still wrong,” Roman said in a firm voice. “It doesn’t matter why you do it. It doesn’t matter what mistakes I make, or Patton makes, or even Logan or Virgil make without you. Lying fixes nothing.”
Janus pinched the bridge of his nose. “You are missing the bigger picture—”
“No! Stop pushing me to accept the things you’ve done to me just because you maybe, maybe, had good intentions!” Roman shouted. “As long as you believe deception is a legitimate path to making Thomas do what you want…even when it turns out to be the right call…you and I will never see eye to eye, and I will never trust you!”
Janus’s mouth lifted into a snarl.
“You know what? So be it. I do not have to defend my purpose or my methods to you.” He yanked out his sonic laser and placed it under Roman’s chin, relishing the momentary flare of fear in those caramel eyes.
“I just want to know one thing, oh noble Prince Roman, and be honest. When you were creating this cute little adventure for yourself and Logan, did you really have nothing to do with me being cast as the villain? The Master?”
The last word he cracked like a whip, and it echoed down the long, straight corridor.
“…master?” a staticky voice echoed from one of the cells, and a small yellow light flickered to life on the wall.
Cells that were, Janus noticed for the first time, unsettlingly empty...except for the rows and rows of fist-sized metal spheres along the walls, which began to light up, one by one.
“Uh…” Roman whispered. “What is happening? Where are the Daleks?”
Other voices joined in the chorus of “master, master”, until the corridor buzzed with echoes and Janus’s blood ran cold as ice in his body. The weird, almost childlike cadence was unsettlingly familiar…
“There are no Daleks.” He stared at the spheres, realization crashing over him.
“What?” Roman looked around wildly at the mass of yellow and now red lights, sword hilt gripped so tight that his knuckles were white.
The spheres began to detach from the walls.
“There are no insane Daleks in here,” Janus repeated, his voice rising. “They’re Toclafane! Run!”
He sprinted down the corridor as the first laser blast burst at his heels. Roman yelped, and then they were both running for the far door. A few cells were blasted open, though the little aliens were small enough to slip right through the bars, and the air suddenly swarmed with spiky, fist-sized metal balls.
“What…Toclafane?!” Roman yelled as they ran, dodging blasts. “Why? And why are they shooting at us?”
“The Master betrayed us! Kill the Master!” Metallic spikes whirred.
“They’re shooting at me!” Janus yelled back, shooting a wild blast with his laser over his shoulder. “Or rather, at the Master!”
Laser fire exploded at Roman’s feet, sending him careening into a cell as they ran.
“Well, tell them they have terrible aim!” the Prince retorted.
“Yes, I’m sure they’ll take advice from the character who canonically used and betrayed them,” Janus snarked, zapping a Toclafane and sending it spinning into its neighbor.
They reached the far door and slid to a halt, Janus seizing the control panel to open the door.
“Funny,” Roman said breathlessly, catching up and drawing his sword. “I can relate.”
Janus rolled his eyes as Roman spun to face the oncoming horde of tiny aliens, batting away a few spinning metal spikes.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, use this!” Janus thrust his sonic into Roman’s hands. Roman, to his credit, didn’t argue, but switched his sword to his left hand and readied both.
“Remus!” Janus shouted, focusing all his attention on the door’s keypad. “A little help would be appreciated.”
Behind him, he heard his sonic buzz and the sound of Roman’s sword crunching against something metal. The ozone smell of burnt electronics was starting to hurt his lungs.
“You have to say pleeeeeeease,” Remus’s voice said.
Janus slammed a hand against the panel.
“REMUS, I SWEAR TO APOPHIS I WILL REMOVE EACH ONE OF YOUR ORGANS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER—!” he roared.
“Which alphabet?” Remus cut in.
“REMUS SANDERS—!”
“All right, all right! So violent. I love it!” Remus crowed. “Here you go.”
The door opened.
They tumbled through, Roman zapping away one last murder ball as the door slid shut again.
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Chapter 12- Can You Hear Me?
“I’m still quite socially awkward, so I’m just going to subtly walk towards the console and look at something. And then, in a minute, I’ll think of something that I should’ve said…that might have been helpful.”
Roman leaned against the door for a moment, letting his eyes adjust to the bright white light that filled the circular chamber. Compared to the dimness of the rest of the asylum, it was downright blinding.
“IT’S ABOUT TIME,” a harsh Dalek voice rasped, making both Roman and Janus jump and whirl.
A Dalek sat, motionless and menacing, at the far side of the room, bound in layers of chains. Its casing was green with silver trimming, and it wiggled its green-glowing eyestalk in a way that was almost…suggestive.
“I suppose that’s you, Remus?” Janus asked, visibly relaxing.
Roman sheathed his sword and realized he still had Janus’s sonic, which he tucked against his wrist. As little as he liked the unchivalrous weapon, he didn’t feel like handing it back over just yet.
“IN THE FLESH. BUT NOT REALLY.” Dalek-Remus burst into metallic giggles, sounding all the more bizarre coming from the killing machine he currently inhabited.
He probably likes being a Dalek, Roman thought sourly.
“ZAP MY CHAINS, MASTER JAN.” Remus wiggled, attempting to move. “AND LETS GO FIND THE EMO.”
Janus pulled a face.
“You…actually want to come with us?” Roman raised an eyebrow.
“THAT IS WHAT I SAID.”
Roman scrubbed a hand through his hair. He hadn’t considered what they would do if the dream didn’t end once they actually found Remus, and he definitely hadn’t considered the possibility of Remus actually wanting to be rescued. He’d assumed his brother was just, well, being himself. Taunting them, testing them, before fucking off (sometimes literally, ick) to do his own thing.
“I had hoped the scenario would end once we reached this room,” Roman confessed aloud, side-eyeing Janus.
Janus scoffed. “Well, it didn’t. Any other bright ideas, Creativity?”
“Well, we can’t take him,” Roman began, and startled backward when Remus screeched.
“EXCUSE YOU!”
“I’m sorry, Remus, but you’ve seen this episode! This is where your involvement in the story canonically ends.” Roman threw his hands up. “If we bring you along, it could mess up all the parameters we’ve established so far. And if finding you wasn’t enough, that means Specs was right; we really do have to track down old Panic at the Everywhere before the Imagination will let us go.”
“And since we haven’t the faintest idea where to start, we’ll need our TARDISs.” Janus walked back to the door and sighed. “We’ll have to run the Toclafane gauntlet again.
Roman cracked his neck. “I’m ready if you are, snake.”
“I’ll have my sonic back first.” Janus held out a hand. “Don’t think I didn’t notice you trying to secret it away.”
Roman’s mouth twisted, but he handed it over.
“Ready?”
“Ready.”
Roman readied his sword. Janus slapped the panel.
Nothing happened.
Frowning, he hit it again, but the door remained obstinately closed. Roman’s stomach sank.
Can’t one aspect of this disaster be easy? Just one?
“Remus, open the door,” Janus snapped.
“WHY SHOULD I?”
Both Sides slowly turned to face the Dalek.
“Exsscuse me?” Janus said, dipping his head to glower.
Remus’s twin head lights flashed. “WHY SHOULD I LET YOU GO?”
“Because we need to end this game, Remus! You know that!” Roman ran a hand exasperatedly down his face. “Are you choosing now to be contrary? Really?”
“EXCUSES!” Remus snapped. “THE TRUTH IS, YOU DON’T WANT MY COMPANY.”
“Remus…that’s not it,” Janus started.
“Oh, that is absolutely it.” Roman folded his arms. “You pride yourself on how many different ways you can gross someone out within the span of five minutes, and then you’re surprised that nobody wants you around?”
“I HAVE BEEN HELPING YOU THIS ENTIRE NIGHT.” Remus rattled his chains; one of them snapped. “AND YOU MAKE PLANS IN THIS ROOM LIKE I’M NOT EVEN HERE. YOU WOULD LEAVE ME BEHIND WITHOUT A SECOND THOUGHT.”
Roman rolled his eyes. “Like you wouldn’t do the same for a laugh, if it suited you!”
“BUT I DO NOT CALL MYSELF A HERO.”
Roman felt those words like a punch to the solar plexus. He physically recoiled, his grip on his sword tightening.
“Look, Remus—” Janus started.
“I AM EVERYTHING THOMAS FINDS DISGUSTING AND ABHORANT,” Remus continued. “UNLIKE SOME, I DO NOT PRETEND TO BE ANYTHING ELSE.”
That barb seemed to be aimed at Janus, who flinched, and Roman almost felt bad for him.
Almost.
“WHY SHOULD I ALLOW YOU TO LEAVE HERE IN TRIUMPH, JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE THE SO CALLED GOOD GUYS?” Remus surged forward, snapping the rest of his chains, and raised his gunstick. “THOMAS IS SUPPOSED TO REJECT ME, BUT WHY I SHOULD ACCEPT THE SAME FROM YOU?”
The gunstick began to glow.
Roman felt the wall at his back; out of time, out of options, again. What would they do if Remus decided to actually shoot them?
They were trapped in here.
“KILLING YOU WOULD END THE GAME, WOULDN’T IT?” Remus shrieked, shrill even for a Dalek. He rolled forward until his eyestalk was inches from Roman’s face. “TELL ME WHY I SHOULDN’T!”
Like looking in a funhouse mirror.
Roman saw his own terrified face, reflected in a Dalek eyestalk. Is this what I would be like, if I became someone Thomas…didn’t need anymore?
“Maybe you should,” Roman said quietly, the words just slipping out.
Remus stopped. “WHAT.”
“Roman, what the hell?” Janus snapped beside him. He had his sonic aimed at Remus’s headpiece, clearly ready to return fire if necessary.
Roman chuckled, bitterly.
“You Dark Sides always know how to hit where it hurts, you know? You’re right, Remus, I’m not a hero. Thomas even said so. So maybe…maybe killing us really is the fastest way to end this game. Clean reset. Done.”
“Don’t be a moron,” Janus retorted. “Thomas said no such thing. I was there for that conversation, if you’ll remember.”
“Shut up, snake!” Roman bared his teeth. “He thinks it, and don’t pretend like you aren’t the reason; you and my brother both! I knew who I was, and Thomas knew who I was, and everything was fine until you two started showing up with your lies and your lewd grossness and making Thomas doubt everything he is!” He dropped his gaze, eyes stinging. “Everything I am.”
Remus backed up a few inches. “AT LEAST YOU ARE HEEDED.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Roman said tiredly, still biting back tears.
“YOU NEVER HAD TO SHOUT TO BE HEARD. WHEREAS I WILL ALWAYS BE A MONSTER.”
Janus’s face shuttered. “Remus. We’ve talked about this.”
Remus aimed his eyestalk at the deceptive Side. “I AM NOT LIKE YOU. I NEITHER WANT NOR NEED ACCEPTANCE FROM OUR SOURCE, BECAUSE I AM THE INCEPTION AND DEPOSITORY OF EVERYTHING THAT HE FINDS UNACCEPTABLE.”
“But you still want it from us,” Janus finished quietly. “Is that what this is about, Rem?”
Remus said nothing.
Roman glanced between them. Somehow he had a hard time picturing his chaotic brother sitting down and just…talking, especially about heavy stuff like purposes and whatnot. Especially with Janus?
Janus exhaled.
“Honestly, neither of you know how to change, and I have watched it hold both of you back.”
He held up fingers to forestall both their protests, and pointed at Roman.
“You have always bathed in the light with Thomas, and so you’ve never needed the motivation to be better. And you,” he pointed at Remus, “have never been accepted by anyone, and therefore have never had the opportunity.”
“But the clock ticks on, and Thomas is growing up,” Janus went on, beginning to pace. “Which means all of us, including the two of you, must adapt. This whole ‘light Side, dark Side’ nonsense has to stop if Thomas is ever to achieve any sort of peace within himself.”
“EASY FOR YOU TO SAY,” Remus said. “NOW THAT YOU HAVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE.”
“As much as I hate to agree with Remus.” Roman folded his arms again. “I have to agree with Remus. What makes you the expert in how we need to change?”
“I am Thomas’s self-preservation!” Janus snapped, stalking back to Roman. “Adaptability is one of my core functions, because those who cannot change, do not survive.”
Roman frowned. “That seems like an oversimplification—”
“You really want to know why we ‘dark Sides’ have become such a problem for you, Roman?” Janus interrupted. “It’s because you, and Patton, and to a small extent Logan, have kept Thomas trapped in a familiar, oversimplified pattern of thinking, like an ill-fitting jacket bursting at the seams!”
Janus held up a finger. “Virgil was the first tear, lighting the metaphorical flame under your butts to think deeper, think wider, think differently. And when he, too, got too used to squeezing himself to fit into that safe little kid jacket, you got me.”
He smirked.
“You got me, pushing you to understand that the world is bigger than black and white, good and evil, and that sometimes the solutions to problems are not wholly one thing or another. And when you wouldn’t heed my words, you got someone even more blunt.”
He gestured at Remus as he spoke, then exhaled and adjusted his coat.
“We are not evil alien forces creeping about in Thomas’s head, making trouble for no reason, Roman. We have purposes, too. And if you’d take one moment, and use that creative brain instead of lashing out with your fantasy-trope, holier-than-thou, six-year-old mores, I know you are capable of seeing that.”
Roman huffed, and looked away.
The problem was…he did see it.
Maybe he couldn’t have put it in such articulate terms; he wasn’t Logan, after all. But anyone who looked into Thomas’s dejected eyes lately could deduce that the so-called Dark Sides were a symptom of something deeper, not the cause of it.
He just hated when Deceit…fine, Janus…was right, and lately it felt like the snake Side was turning out to be right about a lot of things. If Roman was ever going to change…if he was ever going to be better…he needed to reign in his pride, and acknowledge the truth in Janus’s words.
“The god of doorways, of beginnings and endings,” Roman said quietly. “One face to the past and one to the future.”
Janus blinked, clearly shocked; his snake eye slitted to the merest sliver.
“I am Creativity,” Roman added, enjoying the other’s momentary discomfiture. “Do you really think I’m not familiar with all the mythology Thomas has studied over the years?”
“If you knew what it meant.” Janus spoke barely above a whisper, looking away. “Then why did you mock it?”
Roman pressed his lips together. In all honesty, despite all his posturing, he’d never been proud of how he’d acted that day.
“I was jealous,” he admitted, just as softly. “Thomas needed you, a Side he’s always seen as morally abhorrent, more than he needed me, his…his hero…” he trailed off, staring hard at Remus’s Dalek shell. “What was I supposed to think? What does that make me?”
Janus sighed, deeply, and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“It was never a competition. The metaphorical table is big enough for all of us. And I…” he sighed again. “I was wrong, to dig at your insecurities the way that I did. It was unworthy of me.”
Roman gaped at him. “By Odin’s beard. Was that…was that an apology?”
Janus grimaced, and flicked out his forked tongue. “Don’t get usssed to it.”
“GET OUT.”
Both Sides turned to face Remus, who’d been blessedly, unusually quiet up to that point.
“Excuse me?” Roman said.
“I HAVE LOWERED THE PLANET’S SHIELD.” Remus gestured with his gunstick as the door to his prison slid open. “WE HAVE JUST UNDER TWO MINUTES TO GET BACK TO THE TELEPORTATION CHAMBER.”
“Are you crazy?” Roman yelled, drawing his sword as the Toclafane outside swarmed toward the door.
“Kill the Master!”
A distant explosion rocked the asylum, making Roman and Janus stumble.
“IT HAS STARTED.” Remus slammed his body into Roman, pushing him toward the door. “TWO MINUTES, THE PLANET BLOWS UP. TICK TOCK.”
“What about them!” Janus shouted, zapping a Toclafane that tried to breach the doorway and hauling Roman back by one of his denim suspenders.
“I WILL CLEAR THE WAY.”
Remus rolled out into the carnage, firing his gunstick and laughing maniacally.
“EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!”
Laser bursts and smoke clogged the air, Toclafane swarmed and fell in his wake, but finally the little murder balls began fleeing en mass.
Another explosion shook the ground, closer this time.
They ran.
“What made you change your mind?” Janus panted as they rounded a corner.
“THE SCENARIO MUST END.” Remus easily kept up, despite being a tin can on wheels. “THOMAS IS ATTEMPTING TO WAKE UP.”
“What about Virgil?” Roman demanded.
“IT DOESN’T MATTER NOW.”
“You didn’t kill us,” Roman pointed out.
Remus made a grating noise that might have been a chuckle.
“MAYBE YOU DON’T KNOW ME AS WELL AS YOU THINK,” he said. “OR PERHAPS THIS IS MORE FUN.”
The floor shook violently, sending cracks knifing up the walls.
“We have a problem!” Janus, bringing up the rear, shouted as they sprinted down the last hallway. “A big, fiery problem!”
Roman felt scorching heat on his neck and glanced back. His heart dropped; the corridor behind them was rapidly being engulfed in flames.
“This bit seemed so much cooler in the episode!” he yelled, putting on a burst of speed.
“Shut up! Go, go, go!”
Patton was waiting outside the teleportation chamber, his Cyberman head swiveling back and forth. He let out a metallic screech as they approached.
“Don’t shoot the Dalek, it’s just Remus!” Janus shouted, waving his hands. “Get inside!”
They all stumbled in.
Logan crouched by the translucent floor panel, sonic poised, obviously ready to activate the teleport. Roman had never been so happy to see his nerd.
“Patton, Roman, what—?” Logan squawked when Roman grabbed his arm to haul him up on the platform. Remus levitated the last few feet; he was the last one on.
“No time, Specs!” Roman yelled cheerfully. “Step on it!”
An explosion, near and violent, rocked the platform and sent everyone but Remus stumbling into each other. Roman caught himself on Logan’s shoulders…completely by accident, of course.
“Step on…what?” Logan squinted at Roman’s face. “What’s—”
“Oh for fuck’s sake!” Janus seized Logan’s sonic and pointed it down at the panel, whirring it to life.
Light blasted up from their feet as fire filled the doorway.
Roman braced for a fireball…but the room seemed to disintegrate around them and the awful heat vanished. He sagged against Logan’s back. Soft weight enclosed his arms…sleeves…and he realized his outfit was shifting back into his familiar Princely attire.
They had done it!
“BY THE way.” Remus’s voice warped from a Dalek’s screech to his own whiny tenor. “Whose idea was it to make Patton a Cyberman?”
Stunned silence.
“I’m a WHAT now?” Patton’s shocked voice rang out.
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nevertherose · 3 days ago
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One Hundred Seconds to Midnight: Chapters 1-8
"All Roman wanted to do was take Logan on a Doctor Who LARP within the Imagination.
But with Thomas's Sides at their figurative breaking point after the disastrous wedding, the Imagination may just have a few ideas of her own..."
Hello, Tumblr fanders, it has been a while since I've poked around in here...mostly because, I've been writing another story!
Do you like Sanders Sides? Do you like Doctor Who? Do you like the idea of the Sides playing Doctor Who characters? If so, this story was written especially for you.
I found that the process of cross-posting Mahogany and Teakwood across three platforms, one chapter at a time, involved a lot of me spending too many hours squinting at html code. Not especially fun. This time around, I've only been posting on AO3 and Wattpad.
But I wanted it to exist here as well.
So! Today I'm going to post the first half (in two posts, because apparently Tumblr has a post size limit, who knew?), all the chapters that are up so far. Then, when the whole story is up on the other platforms, I'll post the other half.
Of course, you could head to either AO3 or Wattpad, if you want to read as the chapters go up.
But if you're like me, and like to read stories in nice, big, juicy chunks...here you go:
One Hundred Seconds to Midnight
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Chapter 1- The Eleventh Hour
“Who are you?”
“I don’t know yet. I’m still cooking.”
Midnight.
The witching hour.
Or was that 3AM? Roman wondered. No, that’s the devil’s hour…damn it, Virgil! You had to get them all mixed up!
It was nearly midnight on the Imagination’s border.
Moonlight, pearlescent and brighter than it could ever shine in the real world, streamed feather-light through the tall windows on Roman’s side of the Dream Palace. It made patterns of light and shadow over the black marble floors, made nighttime caricatures of the white ivory statues that lined the corridor.
Roman’s heeled boots echoed in the silence; Logan’s dress shoes, in comparison, were whisper-quiet.
Logan himself had been uncharacteristically quiet since they entered this place, Roman noted, glancing back. Normally by now the logical Side would have asked a million questions, made a million plans, or be several bullet points into a lecture about palace construction or the history of measurement units or some other nerdy, obscure subject.
And Roman would either pretend to be annoyed, or would interject witty counterpoints to make Logan stop and bluster and…
But not tonight.
Maybe he’s nervous about being here, Roman told himself, smoothing a hand over his red sash. He’s only pointed out a million times that Logic and the Imagination are anathema to one another. Maybe I should have planned something else…
Or maybe he’s just annoyed at you for dragging him out of bed in the literal middle of the night, a more insidious inner voice whispered. When you know he likes to keep a consistent sleep schedule.
Roman pressed his lips together, lifted his chin…he might be a mere facet of a single personality, but he was also a Prince, and Princes do not listen to inner demons. However, he also looked back for the dozenth time to make sure Logan was actually still following.
That was the only reason Roman kept looking back.
It had nothing to do with the way the translucent moonlight caught the other Side’s dark, immaculately kept hair, or glinted off his glasses.
In the real world, of course, and whenever they manifested near their Source, the Sides all had precisely the same face and body as Thomas. But deep inside the mind, where physical appearance was an illusion anyway, the Sides exercised much more control.
Thomas remained their base template, but each Side also tended to portray himself with features that Thomas associated with their core function. Like Patton’s fluffy curls and childlike freckles, or Virgil’s anxious, ever-changing eyeshadow, or Remus’s abominable comic-book villain mustache.
Like Deceit’s…no, Janus’s very real scales.
Damn that snake. Why did I have think of him now?
Hopefully the lying bananaconda had better things to do than pop up and spoil things tonight. Because tonight, Roman was finally fulfilling a longtime promise to Logan, and taking him on a grand adventure.
The thought made his heart flutter in anticipation, and he looked back again.
Logan within the mindscape was leaner than Thomas, an inch or two taller, and his neatly trimmed hair and intelligent eyes were almost black in the low light. His face was narrow and intense, the nose more aquiline, and he had a habit of standing straighter than any of the rest of them.
(A habit which constantly showed off his trim waist and chest muscles…not that Roman paid any attention to that…)
Roman, by contrast, was a bit shorter, but his shoulders were broad and he was more muscular, due to all the questing and sword fighting he did here in the Imagination. He wore his hair in longish disarray that paired devastatingly with his clean, square jawline; hair that could be turned loose and wild on quests, or pulled neatly back as befitted royalty. His hands were strong; with long, artistic fingers, as skilled at wielding pens and paintbrushes as they were at wielding swords.
He liked to think he was handsome.
He was also painfully aware of how little it mattered when a certain someone…ehem…never seemed to notice.
“Roman, I confess to still being a bit lost as to the purpose of this journey,” Logan said at last, breaking the high-ceilinged silence. “You said you were taking us on a…’lark’? If so, why are we wandering around the Dream Palace?”
“LARP,” Roman corrected, flashing him a smile. “L-A-R-P. It stands for live action role play, Specs.”
Logan’s nose wrinkled at the words “role play”, and Roman’s stomach lurched. He hates it, he hates the very idea of it, you haven’t even started yet and you’ve already failed…
“Oh, don’t make the scrunchy face!” he added, a bit louder than necessary, and waved a hand. “At least wait until you’ve seen it.”
Roman had only been planning this for weeks.
“You know, when you promised to take me on one of your ‘adventures’,” Logan said, making finger quotes. “I was not expecting to be roused from bed in the middle of the night.”
“That’s because this isn’t your average adventure.” Roman gestured around them. “I constructed a special dreamscape to get all the details right, and we can only use the Dream Palace when Thomas is asleep.” He turned and dared a wink. “Only the best for you, my detail-oriented friend.”
Logan adjusted his glasses.
“Let it be known that I am indulging your antics right now because you have, on occasion, had some good ideas. You will, in turn, have to indulge my skepticism.”
“I have no idea what you just said, but I’m gonna pretend it was a compliment,” Roman said with a wink, which Logan rolled his eyes at.
“Ah ha, here we are!”
Roman stopped at a set of iconic blue doors, nearly vibrating in excitement as he waited for Logan to recognize them.
The nerd did not disappoint.
“Roman…” Logan murmured, stepping forward to touch the white PULL TO OPEN sign. “They look just like the doors to the TARDIS. The attention to detail is exquisite. But why?”
“Because I’m taking you on a Doctor Who LARP!” Roman exclaimed, flapping his hands. “All we have to do is step through, and the Imagination will make us Doctor and companion, and whisk us away through all of time and space!”
Logan’s face was a mixture of confusion and curiosity. “Again…why?”
“Because it will be fun?” Roman bit his lip, looking at his toes. “I…I know you aren’t into swords and sorcery and dragon-witches and whatnot. I wanted this to be something you might actually enjoy.”
Logan’s brow furrowed, as it often did when he tried to process something that didn’t fit neatly into his graphed, notated, logical worldview.
Usually, it was an emotion.
“But won’t us enacting such an intense scenario at this time of night negatively affect Thomas’s sleep?” Logan asked.
“That’s the genius of adventuring in the Dream Palace,” Roman explained. “You can do hyperreal, immersive stuff, and if Thomas does happen to remember anything, he’ll just think he had a weird dream. The worst that could happen is he might post about it on Twitter.”
“Hmm. I can see you’ve thought this through. I am…flattered that you went to all the trouble,” Logan said in a quiet voice.
Roman had to bite back an ecstatic giggle.
Not…not because of the way his nerves skittered below his skin when his gaze caught Logan’s black eyes and soft expression. No, Roman was merely…excited! That someone like Logan appreciated his hard work!
It wasn’t like he was trying to impress anyone, like some middle school boy with, you know, a crush or whatever. For the last, well…two years.
…and then some.
Ugh. There was little point in denying his feelings; he’d only accidentally summon Janus and his oily smirk, and if that happened, Roman would most certainly die of embarrassment and that was not a lie, thank you very much.
The truth was, ever since Thomas had placed that jar of Crofters into Logan’s hands and inspired him to sing…not just rap, or begrudgingly harmonize, but actually sing…Roman had fallen, and fallen hard.
How could he not?
Logan’s words and ideas had always challenged him, pushed him to be smarter, sharper, better, just to keep up. Logan was the grounding anchor to his sails, the clarity to his excess. It used to infuriate Roman, the way he and Logan always came at problems from opposite sides and fought, sometimes bitterly, over the best way to meet in the middle.
But now?
Now Roman relished the way they traded words in a good fight, like blades in the hands of expert swordsmen. Logan, despite his dislike for anything fanciful, was a natural wordsmith…and Roman was a great lover of poetry. Even better, it seemed like Logan was also starting to enjoy their verbal sparring matches…
And then these last few months had happened.
The Decision, and Deceit, and the way that snake had let Remus out of the shadows to wreck havoc, and then the disastrous wedding itself…and Roman knew that Logan, through all of it, had been feeling pushed aside.
Goodness knew the logical Side hadn’t deserved to be shoved to the back of a courtroom, or relegated to a pixel-y shadow of himself before being removed from the discussion entirely. Worse, in both of those scenarios, Roman had either done nothing…or actively made things worse.
Roman knew he was guilty of letting his mouth run wild in his zeal to solve Thomas’s dilemmas…or in desperately hiding his true feelings. He knew his nicknames often came with barbs, his insults sometimes hit too close to home, that he often ignored or dismissed Logan’s cool, much-needed perspective.
He knew he needed to be better.
I’ll make it up to him tonight, Roman told himself as he laid a hand on the rough wooden blue doors and glanced back at Logan. The logical Side nodded, giving Roman a tiny burst of confidence.
He’ll get to play his favorite character and be his best nerdy self. This is going to be great!
Roman took a breath, and shoved open the TARDIS doors.
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Chapter 2- Human Nature
“It’s all becoming clear now. The Doctor is doing the things you’d like to be doing.”
The blaring of a dozen sirens burst in Logan’s ears.
He was yanked across the threshold, Roman’s hand practically a vice around his wrist. Logan inhaled the sharp scent of metal and warm electronics, and a million figurative lights went off in his brain.
Being the physical incarnation of Logic, this wasn’t an entirely unfamiliar sensation.
The TARDIS shuddered…wait, TARDIS? We’re actually on the TARDIS?…under impact. Lights flashed; reds and greens over an ambiance of steely blue-gray, and Logan knew exactly what to do.
He shook free of Roman’s grip and strode to the center console…console, how do I know this is a console?…flipping several switches and turning the green dial to precisely 3.56 degrees to offset the radiation sheer from the M-class star they’d just spun past.
Because naturally they happened to be careening through an asteroid field.
The time rotor rose and dipped, Gallifreyan symbols whirling overhead; Logan adjusted shields and dodged rocks, striding confidently from station to station. He guided his TARDIS around the last large asteroid, one that easily could have smashed his beloved ship to bits, and then they were clear.
The TARDIS chimed reassuringly under his hands, relieved to be in empty space again.
Roman screamed.
The sound echoed off the metallic walls, causing Logan to whip around and nearly lose his balance.
“What happened?” he said sharply, leaving the console. The creative Side stood near the railing, staring down at himself in obvious dismay. “What’s wrong?”
“Look at me, Logan!” Roman said shrilly and gesturing at his body. “Just look!”
Logan examined his fellow Side. There were no obvious injuries he could see, no blood, no bruising, nothing that would merit a scream. There was just Roman, unfairly handsome as always.
(He still wasn’t sure how Roman managed that feat when they all literally, at least some of the time, had the same face.)
“I…don’t see a problem?” Logan asked slowly.
“I meant, look at what I’m wearing, Calculator Watch,” Roman snarled, and turned to yell nonsensically at the ceiling. “Am I a joke to you? When I said I wanted to be a companion, this is not what I meant!”
Logan focused on Roman’s clothing, which had shifted rather drastically since passing through those doors. His normal princely attire was replaced by a denim cutoff skirt, overalls, pink leggings, and a tight pink blouse that clung to his muscular chest and arms...
“I look ridiculous, don’t I?” Roman murmured, scuffing a combat boot against the metal grated floor. The motion drew Logan’s gaze again to the way the cutoffs hugged his hips and wow, that skirt was really short, wasn’t it?
And those tights, the way they accentuated Roman’s legs...
Logan frowned, his face feeling unusually warm. Why did he keep noticing these things? Of course Roman was more fit than the rest of them.
Perhaps it was simply that Logan didn’t usually see the evidence of it so…plainly.
Stop, Logan told himself sharply. You might be gay and allosexual, but that is no excuse to be disrespectful.
He cleared his throat.
“If I may, Roman?” he said, approaching, and made a closer examination of Roman’s outfit.
“I gather from your earlier ranting that you instructed the Imagination to cast you as one of the Doctor’s companions for the duration of this scenario?”
“Well, yeah,” Roman admitted, “but I was thinking someone like Jamie McCrimmon, or Rory Williams, or maybe even Jack Harkness!”
“You know there is some debate over whether Jack Harkness would be considered a proper ‘companion’, as he was never full time on the TARDIS,” Logan argued absently, still eying Roman’s ensemble.
It was attractive but also familiar; he just couldn’t quite place it…
“Neither was Clara Oswald at first, but nobody had a problem handing her that label from the start!” Roman folded his arms and Logan had to look away because wow, short sleeves and arms…
“Just because she was a girl and the writers obviously intended for her to be a love interest—”
“A girl, of course!” Logan snapped his fingers. “Roman, you are a companion. Specifically, you are Rose Tyler.”
“What?” Roman frowned, smoothing the overalls across his middle. “I…Hmm. You might actually be right.”
“Of course I am right.”
The creative Side scoffed at that, but continued to frown.
“I think it’s a good choice,” Logan added. “Rose is arguably one of the most beloved companions in new Who; bold, kind, and intelligent in her own way. She was pivotal to the Ninth, Tenth, and arguably the War Doctor’s character arcs.”
He laid a hand on Roman’s shoulder. (To convey reassurance, of course. Not because he suddenly wanted to touch…)
“Hers are not the worst shoes you could be given to fill,” Logan said, “idiomatically speaking.”
“Only you would drop a word like ‘idiomatically’ in everyday conversation,” Roman grumbled, but some of the spark returned to his caramel eyes.
“But look at you!” Roman said in a brighter voice, gesturing. “All proper and Doctor-ish. At least the Imagination let you keep your tie, or, whatever that thing is around your neck.”
Logan glanced down at himself for the first time.
His sensible polo and jeans had become a clean-cut black suit, with a warm grey waistcoat, a crisp white undershirt, and a silver pocket watch. A navy cravat was knotted around his throat.
His knee-length suit jacket was also black, with a striking cerulean lining.
He retrieved a slender, metallic something from the jacket’s inner pocket: of course, the Doctor’s signature sonic screwdriver. Specifically, the Tenth Doctor’s screwdriver.
Logan chuckled, remembering all the times he’d ranted to Roman about how impractical and flashy Eleven’s screwdriver became, and don’t even get him started on Twelve’s, it was practically a lightsaber…
“Interesting,” he murmured, stretching his arms to turn in a slow circle, letting the jacket flare. “Fashionably, I appear to be a cross between the Eighth and Twelfth Doctors, which I appreciate, as they are the two most sensible dressers of the bunch. And by the way, Roman, this is a called a cravat, not a tie…”
He’d lifted hands to his neck but the words died on his tongue.
Roman had summoned a mirror and was, quite literally, checking himself out. He swayed his hips, tilted one toward and then away from the mirror, pouted, did a tongue smile, and…and Logan realized he had been watching for more than a socially acceptable length of time.
He swallowed hard and cleared his throat again. But he was saved from having to speak by a loud crackling at the center console.
Both Sides rushed over, Logan seizing the TV screen and pulling it down. Gray static skittered over the polished surface. He flipped two switches and turned a dial, trying to zero in on the signal.
“I meant to ask earlier…how do you know what to do?” Roman asked, tilting his head. “You were piloting before I think you even realized we were on a TARDIS in the first place.”
Logan froze in the middle of winding one of the cranks.
“I…I really do not know.” In fact, the more he thought about it, the less sense any of the controls made. “Now that you’ve drawn my attention to it, you are correct: rationally, I should not know the function of any of these…gizmos.” He gestured at the crank he’d been winding.
“Yet somehow my hands just…know.”
Roman leaned casually onto the console.
“When I built this LARP, I gave the Imagination quite a bit of leeway in how it wanted to construct our characters,” he said. “I’m thinking it took things a step further than costume changes, like making me the companion it thinks I most resemble instead of the companion I wanted to be.”
Roman bit his lip as though troubled, then clearly shook himself out of it.
“And it must have imparted some of the Doctor’s knowledge upon me.” Logan added, not sure how he felt about the Imagination having such a direct influence over his mind. He supposed if it didn’t get too invasive, and was confined to this one night, he could deal with it.
It had proven useful so far, after all.
Roman shot Logan a fierce grin.
“Indeed! So engage that big Doctor brain and let’s see who’s trying to call us. Allons-y, adventure awaits!”
“You know ‘allons-y’ is my line, right?” Logan said dryly.
He had to use his screwdriver on the screen before the picture came clear. The stream of static acquired the cadence of a voice…and then a disturbingly familiar face stared back at his own, looking equally shocked.
Roman, for the second time since entering the TARDIS, let out a bloodcurdling scream.
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Chapter 3- The Witch’s Familiar
“If you’re going to take my stick, do me the courtesy of actually killing me. Teamwork is all about respect.”
Janus had just settled into his favorite chair with a mug of chamomile tea and a political science book when he was yanked…rather rudely, he might add…onto the deck of a spaceship.
He sighed, and dismissed his drink.
When one lived in the same mindspace as the literal embodiment of chaos, one unfortunately learned to expect such interruptions.
“REMUS!” he roared, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Did I not specifically ask to be LEFT ALONE tonight?”
Silence.
Deeply annoyed now, Janus took a moment to look around himself. This was not a normal spaceship; no windows, for one, and it was laid out in levels around a translucent column at the very center. His mismatched eyes followed the center rotor up and down, his mind almost placing it…
Something clumsily rose up from the deck with a clatter, causing Janus to summon his crook with a yell.
Only…the object that dropped into his hand wasn’t smooth wood, but a slender metal instrument just barely longer than his hand. A…sonic screwdriver? What the actual heck?
Well. It was what he had.
“Get back!” He pointed the instrument at the…figure…who still slowly climbed to its feet. It was an android or robot of some sort; humanoid, and the same kind of weirdly familiar as the ship.
“Janus?” the robot said, tilting its head.
Janus froze, all the scales standing up on his body. That was…that was Patton’s voice. Flat, mechanical, but unmistakable.
After all, Patton was the only Side who consistently called Janus by name.
“Patton?” Janus whispered.
“Oh, that was so weird-feeling! Thank goodness I’m not all by myself,” Robot-Patton said, putting a hand over his…well, where his heart should have been…in obvious relief. “But why are we both suddenly on the TARDIS?”
Janus drew in a sharp breath.
Of course, he should have recognized the stupid time rotor immediately. He’d never admit it to any of them, but he was as much of a Doctor Who nerd as Logan or Roman, sometimes going so far as to spy on them when they argued over episodes together.
To learn their arguing styles, of course.
Not because he had any desire to join those discussions.
And now, looking at Patton with a sinking feeling in his stomach, Janus deduced exactly what he was: a Mondasian Cyberman. They were older and cruder in design than the reboot versions…no wonder he hadn’t put a finger on it right away.
That wasn’t really the issue.
“REMUS!” Janus shouted again, more angrily this time. Bad enough his pleasant evening of solitude had been interrupted by…whatever this was. But putting the sweetest, most emotional Side into a canonically unemotional shell, a robot?
That was cruel. That was insulting.
It was too far, even for Remus.
“Janus, is everything okay?” Patton asked, coming closer. Janus shivered at the sound of that warm voice coming from a blank metallic face with empty eyes.
“Do you…feel all right?” Janus said in a hesitant voice.
“I’m a little chilly, but otherwise I’m in ship shape!” the other quipped, giggling. “Get it? Cause we’re on a ship?”
Is it…is it possible that he doesn’t know?
“Hilarious,” Janus deadpanned, but inside his thoughts spun.
He sensed they were in a dream construct within the Imagination, which meant this had to be Remus’s doing. Remus, who reveled in gore, despair, disturbing imagery, angst, and who was in charge of Thomas’s nightmares.
Remus could…and would, given the chance…recreate the experience of being a Cyberman down to the Last. Grim. Detail.
Maybe he hadn’t meant to ensnare Patton specifically to fill this role…Remus didn’t generally pull other Sides in for nightmares, come to think of it…but meanwhile, Janus didn’t want to find out what this might do to Patton’s head.
Worse, it was becoming clear that Patton was somehow oblivious to the state of his own body; he’d used his metallic hands to clutch at his metallic chest and found nothing wrong with either. He couldn’t hear the electronic rasp in his own voice, or the heavy clanging of his steps on the grated floor.
Should Janus say something?
Would Patton believe him if he did?
Ever since Thomas’s near mental breakdown after the disastrous wedding, Patton and Janus had orbited around each other in a state of tenuous truce. They talked now, sometimes, and those talks didn’t always end in arguments. Patton began to leave space for him by Thomas’s blinds when he was called up, and he…and by extension Thomas…occasionally actually sought his input.
But Janus, well.
Janus was still a liar.
The others still called him Deceit, either by accident (Logan) or out of spite (Virgil). Then there was Roman, who invented a colorful, wounding ego-jab for him every day, and Remus, whose fond nicknames tended to double as sex jokes.
Having no other real allies in the mindscape, Janus really, really didn’t want to screw up his tenuous alliance with Patton. Why sabotage his figurative “seat at the table” over one of Remus’s stupid nightmares?
Patton would assume Janus was slipping back into his old ways, lying just because he could, and Janus would never be able to prove otherwise. And later Patton would make that sour, pinched face he always made when he was disappointed, the one that made Janus want to crawl into a hole…
So.
Best to keep his observations close to the chest, for now.
“Do you have any idea what we’re doing here?” Janus asked, striding to the center console. True to dream logic, the controls made no sense and simultaneously made perfect sense.
Patton shrugged; a strange, clanky motion of his shoulders.
Janus sighed. “Although Remus has dragged me into dreams before, even he generally understands the concept of consent.” He casually flapped a hand. “And he always leaves you ‘light sides’ alone.”
“Honestly, this doesn’t feel like a nightmare to me,” Patton said, nearly making Janus choke. The Cyberman clanked over to stand by the console.
“It’s too clean,” Patton added. “Roman let me glimpse Remus’s side of the Imagination once, not long after he showed himself to Thomas, and it was…”
Patton trailed off.
“Fragmented? Chaotic? Disturbing?” Janus supplied.
“Sure, we’ll go with that,” Patton said quietly. “This,” he waved a hand around, “feels more like Roman’s work.”
“I suppose you would know.” Janus ran a thoughtful thumb over his face, tracing the ridge that ran from the corner of his mouth to his ear.
“And I would almost have to agree,” he added slowly. “If this was a nightmare, surely something ghastly would have happened by now. But my being pulled into one of Roman’s creations makes even less sense. He literally cannot stand me.”
“Maybe this is one of those dreams Thomas has sometimes after binge watching a show?” Patton suggested. “When there’s enough material in short term memory that the twins don’t get much input? Did Thomas binge a season of Doctor Who yesterday or something?”
And to think the others still view you as stupid, or slow-witted.
Janus bit back a smile.
“It’s a good theory, Patton, but no,” he said. “Thomas hasn’t really binged on much of anything lately.”
Patton ducked his head.
“You don’t…you don’t have to rub it in, you know,” he said lowly, the metallic rasp grating on Janus’s ears. “You and Logan have both made it pretty clear that I’ve been too strict with Thomas’s time.”
Janus fought to keep his expression neutral, but his stomach twisted.
Damn it.
Leave it to Patton to find guilt where none was meant. Even if Janus claimed he hadn’t meant it like that, Patton would probably not believe him.
Patton tilted his metal head as he examined Janus’s face.
“Did you know you have a mustache now? And a little goatee?”
“I have a what?” Janus felt at his face and groaned, his gloved fingers tugging at hair that most certainly did not belong on his face; with the scales, it probably looked hideous.
His entire outfit had altered in subtle ways, he realized. His usual plum tunic and trousers were now a brown suit and waistcoat ensemble, crossed with yellow pinstripes, with a black collared undershirt. A brown, knee-length suit jacket replaced his caplet, with subtle gold trimming. His yellow gloves were unchanged, thank goodness, and his hat…?
His hands flew up to his head and found something perched over his hair, sitting at an angle. Janus yanked down a screen at the console and stared. His beloved bowler had shrunk into a tiny, flat, rakish thing with a wide brim, festooned with a cluster of yellow rosebuds and black beads.
“What on earth, Remus?” he grumbled, turning his head from side to side. Well, if he had to be honest, pinstripes and a hatinator weren’t a terrible look.
“Well, if we’re on a TARDIS, I guess you’re supposed to be the Doctor,” Patton pointed out. “Which would make me your companion.”
Janus stroked his goatee and examined their surroundings in more detail. But am I a Doctor? he wondered. And if so, which one?
And whose TARDIS is this?
Because while it was clear they were on a TARDIS…what other class of spaceship had a time rotor?…he wasn’t almost certain this was not the TARDIS.
Every corner of the Doctor’s ship, no matter which face it belonged to, tended to overflow with bright, shiny, eclectic whimsy. By contrast, this one was plain, stark, with exposed metal beams and sharp angles.
Too dark, too full of shadows.
An awful suspicion rose up in his mind.
He crossed to one of the bookshelves, ignoring Patton’s soft inquiry, and his jaw clenched. There was the Necronomicon, shelved between the Liber Inducens in Evangelium Aeternum and The Black Scrolls of Rassilon, Book of Vile and its Black Appendix, The Ambuehl Lores and the Insidium of Astrolabus.
Janus finally looked at the sonic device he’d been holding all this time; seeing now that it wasn’t a screwdriver at all, and thanked every god he knew that he hadn’t tried to use it on Patton earlier.
It was a sonic laser.
Once again, even in a stupid, nonsensical dream, Janus had been cast as the villain.
His fist had collided with the bookshelf before he even realized he was moving, books falling to the floor. He punched it again, and again, until a cool rigid hand closed around his wrist and yanked him back.
“Janus, Janus, stop!” Patton yelled in his ear.
Janus wrenched his arm away and stalked back to the console, running gloved fingers over his scales, pushing them up and smoothing them down. The familiar sensation grounded him.
“You were right, Patton,” he threw over his shoulder. “This is definitely one of Roman’s dreams, and he definitely fucking hates me.”
Patton’s heavy footsteps clattered behind him.
“Language. And how do you know that,” he asked. “…Doctor?”
Janus whirled, lips curled in a snarl.
“I am not the Doctor, Patton, and we are not on the TARDIS.” He spread his arms to encompass them both, gesturing to the dimly lit spaceship. “Look around. Look at me!”
He turned, slowly, and eyed his mustached visage in the dark view screen.
“Clearly, I am the Master.”
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Chapter 4- Nightmare in Silver
“You think he knows what he’s doing?”
“I’m not sure I’d go that far.”
Patton rested his arms against the console and sighed.
Once again, someone I care about is upset, and I don’t know what to do. I guess I should be used to it by now.
It didn’t help that it was so cold in this TARDIS. He folded his arms around his middle, which felt strange and heavy, to combat the chill that seemed to have settled deep in his bones.
Janus stalked past again, grumbling to himself.
“Of course the Prince would pull me into one of his little ‘adventures’ without my consent. He probably needed an antagonist. And naturally the slippery snake would have been the first person to come to mind!”
Patton opened his mouth…though he had no idea what he was going to say…but Janus drowned him out.
“Come on, Roman!” he shouted, throwing his yellow-clad hands up. “You’ve had your fun. Yes, I’m evil, I’m the villain, I’m the bad guy, blah blah. Let’s have our epic confrontation or whatever nonsense you have planned, as I would very much like to get back to my reading sometime tonight.”
Silence.
Patton didn’t know what Janus was expecting.
“Look, maybe we should just play along for now?” Patton said aloud, wincing when Janus turned his murderous expression on him. The deceptive Side had such deep, cutting golden eyes, the human one so much darker than the other…cynical eyes that were, ironically, almost impossible to lie to.
They’d see straight through it.
“It takes a liar to know a liar.”
The glare quickly softened, though, which in Patton’s opinion said a lot about how far Janus had come.
“And how do you propossse we ‘play along’?” Janus said, hissing his s’s in frustration.
“Well, we’ve kinda decided this is Roman’s dream, right? And since we’re in his part of the Imagination, we know he won’t let anything bad happen to us…”
Patton trailed off at Janus’s pained expression, reminded of just how badly Janus and Roman’s last encounter had gone.
“What are you, a middle school librarian?”
“Thank god you don’t have a mustache.”
And I just stood there and did nothing…no, I can’t dwell on that right now. Patton shook himself out of the memory.
It was surprisingly easy; even his emotions felt a little heavy and muted. He supposed he wasn’t used to being in a dreamscape; unlike Roman, who played in them all the time.
I know Roman, Patton reasoned. He might hold a grudge for a while, but he wouldn’t actually be out to hurt Janus.
Right?
“So, if we’re on a time ship, on some kind of adventure leading up to a confrontation like you said, the first thing we’d have to do is figure out where we need to go,” Patton finished, shrugging.
Janus pursed his lips…which looked downright weird with a mustache and goatee, almost making Patton giggle…and began pushing buttons on the console.
“You are definitely incorrect, Patton,” he said, pulling up another screen and flipping a few switches. “If I have been cast as the villain in this ridiculous charade, that means Roman is likely prancing around as the Doctor right now, on the proper TARDIS. Which, as the Doctor’s nemesis, I should be able to contact…ha!”
The screen burst into static.
“Doctor, oh Doctor, do you read me?” Janus crooned, and if Patton hadn’t known just how angry he was in that moment…well, he would have never known.
Janus had tucked it away entirely, in half a second's time.
That’s the scary thing about him, Patton realized uneasily. He’s smart, nearly as smart as Logan. Smart enough to run circles around me, that’s for sure. And he’s easily as good an actor as Roman.
Those attributes, combined with his naturally manipulative nature, made it difficult to trust him.
Patton was trying.
He’d been trying since the wedding, and well, since everything else that had happened. (Patton still cringed when Thomas encountered even a picture of a frog.) He’d done a lot of thinking and growing that day (in more ways than one!), and he’d come to a disturbing, but inevitable conclusion.
Janus wasn’t evil.
He never had been.
Just like Virgil had never been evil. Mean, sure; and sarcastic, and spiteful…but at his core, Virgil had wanted what was best for Thomas.
They all did.
And then there was the uncomfortable corollary to that: Patton, despite his best efforts, despite his core Purpose…Patton wasn’t entirely and automatically good.
Two weeks ago, Janus had proven beyond a doubt that Thomas needed him…ruthlessly, cuttingly, but no one could say he hadn’t made his point. It had been Patton who’d inadvertently pushed Thomas to the brink of a breakdown, and Janus who had to pull them all back.
Despite Patton’s unease, and the little voice in his head telling him that Deceit couldn’t be trusted, could never truly be trusted because it was in his nature to deceive…Patton remembered how they’d pushed Virgil so hard he decided to duck out, and how much of a tragedy that could have been if they hadn’t all intervened to bring him back.
With a pang of guilt, he pictured Thomas lying on the floor, crushed under the metaphorical weight of everything Patton needed him to do to keep from being a bad person…
He would not make those mistakes again.
If Virgil could learn to work with them instead of against them, so could Janus. If Patton could learn to recognize when his own Purpose did more harm than good, so could Janus.
Patton had to believe that.
He’d made too many mistakes lately to believe otherwise.
The screen in Janus’s hands cleared to reveal…
“What? Logan??” Janus exclaimed, as a scream echoed somewhere in the background.
“D—Janus?” Logan countered, then looked over his shoulder. “Roman, for the love of Archimedes, will you stop shrieking? I cannot hear.”
The screaming cut off and Roman’s fuming face squished into the frame with Logan.
“Deceit! I should have known you would show up to ruin this!” he managed to shout before Logan shoved him away.
“Ruin…I’m sorry, what?” Janus glanced at Patton, looking honestly confused. “Is he roleplaying right now? We assumed this scenario was Roman’s creation.”
Onscreen, Logan placed his whole hand against Roman’s mouth to prevent him from interrupting.
“It is. But to my understanding, it was only supposed to involve myself and Roman, and…wait. You said ’we’.” Logan peered around. “Who else is with you?”
Patton started to wave, but his view was blocked by Janus bending close to the screen to whisper something. Suspicion flared in Patton’s stomach; old, familiar, but after the talk he’d just given himself, he purposefully pushed it down.
I won’t assume he’s being shifty unless he actually gives me a reason to.
Lifting his chin, he crept forward until he was next to Janus’s shoulder.
“Hey, Logan,” he said brightly, waving.
“Ah…hello, Patton,” Logan squeaked after a moment, his eyes still wide.
“Wait, Patton’s there? With the snake?” Roman’s voice yelled from the background, and then there was Roman’s face again.
“Patton?” Roman said, narrowing his eyes. “But why are you—?”
Both faces disappeared for a moment as Logan yanked Roman out of frame. Patton thought he heard a rapid, hushed conversation. He glanced at Janus, who only shrugged, looking at puzzled as Patton felt.
Roman’s face reappeared, solemn and deeply annoyed.
“Patton,” he said, and hesitated. “D—Janus. You two…well, you’re not supposed to be here.”
“Very reassuring,” Janus quipped.
“This was only supposed to be a two-person adventure: Doctor plus companion. I have no idea why the Imagination brought you both in as well; I certainly didn’t tell it to.”
“Aw, that’s okay, kiddo,” Patton started gently. “It’s not your fault—”
“Oh, sweetie.” Janus folded his arms. “I’m sorry, but that’s bull. Putting me in the Master’s shoes? Are we seriously going to pretend the Side who unashamedly hates me had nothing to do with that?”
“I didn’t!” Roman argued, his voice going high. “You really think I wanted you here, in any capacity?”
“Deceit…er, Janus, you are being unnecessarily antagonistic, and as such, unhelpful,” Logan cut in with his low, reassuring voice. “But Roman, it might behoove us to consider the role of subconscious influence. You may not have intended to pull the others in, and yet here they are.”
Roman looked at Logan, aghast, and Patton almost flinched at the raw hurt in his caramel eyes. The creative Side backed out of frame.
“So you’re on his side, too,” his voice said quietly. “Is that how it is?”
“I am not on anyone’s side,” Logan argued, raising his hands. “We are all currently in this situation together, and as such—”
Whatever he’d been about to say was cut off by another garbled transmission, taking over the screen and blocking out Logan’s face with crackly, purple static. A gray, snarling face flashed out of the haze, making Patton shriek in surprise and even Janus took a step back.
Then it was gone, dissolving back to static…and the sound of someone laughing filled the connection.
“Hellooooo, nurse,” a familiar sing-song voice crooned. “Did you miss me?”
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Chapter 5- The Long Game
“You can’t just read the guide book, you’ve got to throw yourself in. Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers. Or is that just me?”
Logan sighed.
He knew that voice; they all did. Even Thomas, unfortunately.
“Remus,” Roman hissed.
The mustached Side filled the screen, grinning madly. “Boo!”
“Get out of my scenario,” Roman said, his eyes flashing. “If you know what’s good for you.”
“Your scenario?” Remus echoed, faux-outrage in his expression. “Yours? The Dream Palace is my domain, too, brother, whether you like it or not.” He leaned closer, letting his nostrils and a single radioactive green eye fill the screen. “Did you really think you could keep me out?”
Roman made a sound of disgust deep in his throat.
“Am I to assume, then, that you are responsible for bringing in the other Sides?” Logan asked, careful to keep his voice even. Remus thrived on getting a rise out of people.
“Of course he is!” Roman snapped, throwing up his hands. “He loves to ruin things, especially my things.”
“Now why would having the others here ruin anything, brother?” Remus asked in a sickly sweet voice, propping his head on his hand. “Unless you intended for this nighttime romp between you and Logan to be private?”
Roman sputtered and glanced at Logan, red-faced, as Remus giggled.
“It was meant to be so, yes,” Logan supplied, unsure why Remus would find that funny…or why Roman would find it embarrassing.
“As amusing as this all is—” Janus’s crooning voice cut through the speaker.
“Great. You’re still here, snake?” Roman snarked, his arms folded around himself.
“We’re all listening, kiddo,” Patton’s metallic voice said.
Roman’s lips always curl into a pout when he is angry, Logan thought, eyeing him without turning his head, and he gets a little wrinkle between his eyebrows. Why…why am I noticing such things all of a sudden?
Maybe it was the stress, or the unfamiliar environment.
Or maybe it was the Rose Tyler outfit.
That skirt ought to be illegal.
Logan deliberately focused on the screen, his cheeks warm.
“So this is kinda new,” Patton went on, “all of us actually talking—”
“If Remus is responsible,” Janus cut in again, “then perhaps he would be so kind as to explain the objective of this late night group therapy session?”
Despite the biting sarcasm, Logan did appreciate Janus’s insistence that they get to the point, even if it did mean talking over Patton…
Speaking of, why would Remus have paired Patton with Janus?
Surely he should have grouped Patton with Logan and Roman, and put Virgil with Janus? Or…maybe not, given how Virgil hisses if Janus so much as enters the same room.
Ugh. Interpersonal drama. Logan was thoroughly sick of trying to keep track of who carried a grudge against whom, especially when it seemed to change from day to day.
And on top of that, why would Remus make Patton a Cyberman? None of these decisions make any sense…
“Right?” Roman agreed softly next to him, and Logan realized he’d said that last bit out loud.
“If anything, I should have been the unfeeling killer robot,” Logan murmured.
“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Specs.” Roman shot him a strange look, both warm and troubled. “And frankly I don’t give a stinky rat’s ass about my stinky rat brother’s sick thought process. What I want to know is why Deceit doesn’t want us to mention it around Patton?”
Logan, who was still mentally stuck on rodents and donkeys…Roman’s metaphors were always something else…shook his head slightly.
“There’s no logical way Patton is unaware of his condition,” Logan pointed out. “So I can only guess he wishes to protect Patton’s feelings on the matter, by not allowing us to talk about it in front of him.” He shrugged when Roman’s frown deepened. “Those two have been getting along much better these last few weeks.”
“I think you’re giving the snake too much credit,” Roman muttered. “Even after he impersonated you, Logan? C’mon. It has to be something else.”
Logan bit back a sigh.
He doesn’t understand, he thought guiltily. Because he doesn’t know what really happened…
#
“This is unacceptable, Deceit,” Logan snapped, flinging the crook away from his body. “I was in the middle of a discussion—”
“He won’t listen to you,” Deceit had said, and there was no sarcasm or snark in his voice.
“Patton asked for my opinion!”
“And he dismissed you from the conversation the moment that opinion went against his preconceived notions!” Deceit snapped back.
Silence.
Logan could hear the others still talking, out in the real world…without him…as the misty dregs of subconscious curled around their feet.
“You tricked him.” Logan folded his arms. “He was scared and off balance and you gave him an out.”
“I didn’t make him take it!”
Deceit sighed, and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Logan. You know he is wrong on this. You know what this is doing to Thomas. His unquestioning, black-and-white, juvenile morality; it’s not working anymore. Thomas needs to grow up, and Patton is not letting him.”
Logan bit his lip.
“Logan.” Deceit moved closer, dismissing his crook into mist and setting both gloved hands on Logan’s shoulders. Logan stiffened.
“Logic. Please. I am…no good at this.” Deceit dropped his head, his hat obscuring his eyes. “I operate through deceit because that is the only way I can make them acknowledge me.”
“They don’t acknowledge you because you operate through deceit,” Logan pointed out.
“A perfect catch 22.” Deceit let out a bitter laugh. “But a snake cannot change its scales and I don’t…I have tried everything I know. I cannot fix this from the shadows. I am out of ideas.”
A strange thought entered Logan’s mind.
“You care. You care what happens to Thomas.”
Deceit looked up, his mismatched eyes glittering with stinging intensity. “I am the literal representation of selfishness. Why the hell else would I go to all this trouble if I didn’t care?”
“Well…” Logan trailed off, troubled.
He’d let the others get to him, he realized in that moment. He’d let Roman get to him, with his talk of evil and Dark Sides and how they were always trying to tempt Thomas off the right path.
But…they were all part of Thomas, even the so-called “dark sides”.
Of course they wanted what was best for him…well, what Remus wanted at any given moment was debatable…even if they didn’t always go about it in the healthiest of ways.
Deceit had laughed then, high pitched and bitter.
“Really? Really? Even you think so low of me?”
“You are manipulating me right now.” Logan frowned. “You are using my concern for Thomas to make me trust you.”
“Yes! I am!” Deceit got in his face, fangs flashing. “I am a manipulative bastard because that is the lens through which my Source perceives me. But that doesn’t matter because you, Logic; you see through me, always have. And you know perfectly well that logically, any objection you have to my personality or my methods does not change the fact that I. Am. Right.”
He punctuated each word with a poke to Logan’s chest.
“Deceit—” Logan started.
“Janus.”
“What?”
Deceit sighed. “My name. My…real name. It’s Janus.”
Logan blinked. He knew the mythology, of course: Janus, keeper of doorways and thresholds, looking simultaneously to the past and future. Two faces. Seeing things from every angle.
Self-preservation.
“It suits you,” Logan said quietly.
Tension bled out of Janus’s shoulders, a stiffness Logan hadn’t even realized was there until it was gone.
“Thank you.”
“Why am I here…Janus?” Logan asked, glancing away. “What do you need from me?”
Janus looked at him intently.
“Let me speak to them as you.”
Logan raised an eyebrow, and Janus sighed, waving a hand.
“I know, I know, more deceit, more lies, but—”
“No, it’s…” Logan pressed his lips together. “You already pointed it out. They don’t listen to me, either.”
The bitter twist that accompanied those words was becoming an all too familiar sensation in Logan’s chest.
Janus snorted.
“Oh, they do. Eventually. They heeded your advice on how to deal with Remus.”
Logan shrugged uncomfortably.
“Look,” Janus added, “honest people know how to tell the truth, but liars…” he smirked, not especially nicely. “We know how to wield the truth to accomplish an end. I can pull Thomas and the others out of this rut, but they have to be receptive to my tugging on the reins.”
Logan pursed his lips.
“You won’t fool them. If you recall, you tried to impersonate me once already and barely lasted two minutes.”
“I didn’t have your blessing.”
Janus fixed Logan with his intense mismatched eyes again, and held out a hand.
Logan stared at it, torn.
This was Deceit, the master liar: Thomas’s entire capacity for deception condensed into a single, snake-faced Side. How could Logan possibly trust him to not make things worse, after all the falsehoods, the impersonations, how he’d manipulated them all in one way or another to get his way?
But…as much as Logan, personally, didn’t understand why that callback had been so important to Thomas…he could not dismiss the fallout Thomas had suffered as a result of missing it. The decision to attend the wedding had turned out to be a bad one.
Patton had been wrong to insist upon it over Janus’s objections, and over Roman’s.
Those were just the facts.
Janus sighed.
“I’ll unmask myself when an opportunity arises, if that would help,” he offered, and to Logan’s shock, slowly tugged off a glove. “I won’t…I won’t let it go on as long as it did with Patton.”
He offered his now bare hand to Logan again.
Out in the real world, Logan could hear Patton’s increasingly desperate and ridiculous responses to Thomas’s and Roman’s questions, and winced. Janus did the same.
“Please,” was all he said.
Logan sighed…it really couldn’t get any worse, could it?…and shook Janus’s hand.
#
In his TARDIS, Logan let out the sigh he was holding back.
He might have personal, concrete evidence that Janus wasn’t evil, but he also knew Janus had wounded Roman, badly, that day. The creative Side was simply not currently capable of viewing any situation involving Janus with any sort of objectivity.
Passionate, sensitive people like Roman tended to have an unfortunate habit of hanging onto grudges.
As Logic, Logan needed to remember that.
“Oh, all right,” Remus said, his voice crackling over the connection. “Since you’re all here—”
“Actually, Remus, we’re not all here,” Patton’s voice pointed out. “You all know perfectly well who we’re missing; we’ve done this before.”
Logan’s eyes widened. “‘Where is Anxiety?’” he quoted.
“You mean Tickle Me Emo isn’t with one of you?” Remus asked, looking delighted. “Oh dear, oh dear. Is he lost?”
“I mean, TARDISes are huge,” Roman pointed out. “He could be somewhere on one of our ships.” His voice dropped again. “I’ll bet Deceit stashed him away, because we all know how he hates Virgil.”
“Excuse you,” Janus’s voice interrupted, annoyed. “It is Virgil who hates me, not the other way around.”
“Let’s both scan our ships,” Logan suggested, hoping to head off an argument. Honestly, if Roman and Janus didn’t stop picking fights with one another, he was going to lose his marbles.
The scans pulled up nothing.
“Oh well,” Remus said with a shrug. “Guess the emo gets to miss out.”
Janus grumbled something that sounded suspiciously like “lucky”.
“All right, here’s what’s going to happen.” Remus leaned close to the screen. “I’ve crash landed on a lovely snowbound planet that’s crawling with psychotic tin cans who like to roll around yelling ‘exterminate’.”
“Daleks? A snowbound planet, so not Skarro, but where else…” Logan narrowed his eyes.
“He’s on the Dalek asylum,” Roman said lowly. “That was one of the episodes I had in mind when I plotted this adventure.”
“Very good, brother.” Remus clapped his hands. “And up there in orbit is a ship full of people who’d really like to blow up the whole planet. Oh, woe is me, whatever shall I—”
“Save it,” Roman snapped. “You’d probably enjoy getting blown up.”
“Hmm, true.” Remus’s green eyes sharpened. “Think of the mess! Little bits of intestines floating through space, long pink ropey—”
“Or?” Logan interjected, before Remus gave Patton nightmares.
“Or you have to come rescue me!” Remus’s teeth flashed as he grinned. “Because otherwise it’s nighty-night for me and all the other aliens in the asylum.”
There was a beat of silence.
“As terrible as that sounds,” Janus drawled, sounding anything but worried, “given that none of this is real, and at least one of us would very much rather not be here at all…why exactly should your plight concern us?”
Logan secretly agreed, but felt his stomach clench when he glanced at Roman’s troubled face. None of this was real…right? Would something concretely bad happen to Remus if the planet he inhabited was blown up?
Surely not.
This was only a dream. Perhaps, then, Roman was merely upset that his twin had usurped his adventure for the night?
“Also.” Remus buffed his fingernails. “You should know that the Imagination will only release us if we complete the objective. In other words,” and he sneered, purple-shadowed eyes glittering, “we’re all stuck in this scenario until we’re all reunited.”
Remus giggled as Logan exchanged a shocked look with Roman.
“I don’t believe you. This was my dream,” Roman said darkly. “And I’ve just about had enough of all this!”
He stepped back and snapped his fingers with a flourish. Frowning, he did it again, and again, his face growing paler with each try.
“Roman, what—” Logan started.
“I can’t end it,” Roman whispered, still snapping. “He’s right. He’s…he’s sealed off the dream’s boundaries somehow. Remus!”
This he roared at the screen.
“Keeping Thomas trapped in a dream state is going too far, Remus!” he yelled. “I don’t care what kind of demented game you want to play with us, but we don’t bring Thomas into it.”
“Oh, you think I created an unbreakable dreamscape?” Remus snapped. “You let the Imagination have too much reign, my dear brother, and now neither of us have the power to end the dream ourselves. I estimate we have about ten hours before Thomas wakes up.”
For a moment, all Logan could hear was the soft whoosh of the time rotor, and Roman’s shallow, angry breathing at his shoulder.
“So I suggest you all pilot your ships to these coordinates,” Remus added, and a series of numbers and strange symbols flashed up on one of the smaller console screens. “And get started.”
The main screen blipped, and Remus’s face was replaced by an expressionless Cyberman and a snake-faced Side who looked extremely pale under his scales.
“Well,” Logan stated. “This is a problem.”
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Chapter 6- Asylum of the Daleks
“You’re going to fire me at a planet? That’s your plan? I get fired at a planet and expected to fix it?”
“In fairness, that is slightly your M.O.”
“Don’t be fair to the Daleks when they’re firing me at a planet.”
The familiar wheeze of the TARDIS materializing filled Roman’s ears as he waited by the doors. Logan joined him a moment later.
“Ready?” he asked, smoothing a hand over his cravat.
He looks good as the Doctor, Roman thought, eying the slimming black and navy, the graceful arc that hand made as it adjusted a pair of glasses…
He shook himself out of his distraction. “Let’s do this, nerd.”
Logan opened the doors and the two stepped out…not onto the asylum, but onto a spaceship. Shiny copper terraces lined the vast walls in curving rows, leading the eye up to a domed ceiling with a clear view of black, star-studded space. Like a huge amphitheater, or stadium. Even Roman had to admit, the Imagination had really outdone itself on the realism.
Of course, given that the ship was filled with hundreds upon hundreds of Daleks calling for violence…realism wasn’t exactly comforting at the moment.
“Surprise, surprise, I don’t see my stupid brother,” Roman commented over the dull roar of the crowd.
“No. But I recognize where we are.” Logan waved a hand. “You were right about Remus’s location; this ship is from the episode ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, in Season 7. If we are following the basic plotline, Remus is likely somewhere down on the planet below, and we will be sent to him in due course. However…I am curious as to why all the other aliens are here.”
Roman looked around again, seeing that Logan was right. Daleks formed the majority of the crowd, but he also spotted Zygons, Sontarans, Silurians, other Cybermen, Ice Warriors…and quite a few aliens from older seasons he couldn’t remember the names of.
(Logan probably could.)
A second TARDIS materialized near their familiar blue box: plain, gray; a squat column of a ship. Janus emerged first, a silver instrument gripped in one gloved hand, followed by an old-school Cyberman…Patton. Roman frowned. Seeing that metal…being…and having to remember it was actually his friend was going to be difficult now that there wasn’t a screen separating them.
“Nice work, Roman,” Janus said, sidling up next to him and faux-clapping his hands. “A ship full of aliens who want us dead; always an excellent starting point for an adventure.”
“This is how the episode starts, Mr. Oh-I’m-Such-an-Expert-in-Doctor-Who,” Roman retorted. “Accuracy is important.”
“But this isn’t accurate,” Logan pointed out. “There should only be Daleks here.”
Roman folded his arms, stung.
Damn Logan and his damned need to be right all the time.
“I…well, I didn’t model this adventure after just one particular episode,” Roman admitted. “I wanted it to be a challenge, and it wouldn’t be if Logan and I already knew the ending. So no, I can’t exactly explain why all the other aliens are here, okay?”
Logan sighed.
“I was not criticizing you, Roman,” he said in a gentler voice. “As this has apparently become as much Remus’s and the Imagination’s handiwork as it is yours, it would be unreasonable to expect you to know what comes next.”
“THE DOCTOR AND THE MASTER WILL APPROACH THE SUPREME DALEK,” a grating robotic voice boomed across the ship, making them all whip around. A large white Dalek with an antenna on its shell loomed on a raised stage near the center of the amphitheater.
“They were expecting me, too?” Janus raised an eyebrow. “Interesting.”
The lights on the Dalek’s head flashed as it spoke again.
“THE DOCTOR AND THE MASTER WILL APPROACH WITH THEIR COMPANIONS.”
The four Sides exchanged a glance, and weaved through the assembled Daleks to the raised stage. The White Supreme Dalek was not the only occupant; it was flanked by an Ice Warrior, an Emojibot (which made Patton giggle), and…
“Look, a Janus,” Roman chortled, nudging the snake-faced Side in the ribs and pointing out the two-faced alien.
“You are all nerds and my logo is a two-headed snake,” Janus complained, rolling his eyes. “I literally do not know how all of you missed that obvious clue to my name.”
“DOCTOR,” the White Dalek said as they climbed the dais. “MASTER. WHAT DO YOU KNOW OF THE DALEK ASYLUM?”
“I’m just impressed my rat-faced brother wasn’t lying about his location,” Roman grumbled, and sputtered when Logan placed a hand over his mouth.
“According to legend,” Logan said, “you have a dumping ground, a planet where you lock up all the Daleks that go wrong.”
“The battle-scarred, the insane. The ones even you can’t control,” Janus clarified. His voice dropped to a hiss. “No wonder they ssstuck Remus there.”
Roman covered his mouth to keep from snorting.
The snake would not make him laugh.
“CORRECT.” The Dalek pushed a button and a hole opened in the middle of the floor. A snow-covered planet lay below them, pristine from this high up.
“Ooh, that’s,” Patton started, and let out a metallic gulp. “That’s quite a drop. Do we, ah, have to go down the same way? Cause I remember that part, and—”
“How many Daleks are down there?” Logan asked.
“A COUNT HAS NOT BEEN MADE,” the white Dalek said.
“Millions, certainly,” a new voice chimed in. The tall, robed, dark-skinned Janus stepped forward, their front face addressing them. “But they will not be your only concern. The population of the planet consists of more than just Daleks.”
Roman exchanged a suspicious glance with Logan. This wasn’t in the episode. This is new.
“What do you mean?” Janus, their Janus, asked.
The alien Janus turned to a nearby monitor, pulling up some information. The backward-facing face continued to address them.
“Some time ago, the Daleks began noticing a curious phenomenon,” they said. “Random people, from all different races and species, started turning up on various planets in this quadrant of space, including the asylum. No ships, no technology, and no knowledge of how they’d gotten there. At first the imprisoned Daleks on the asylum simply killed them off as they appeared—”
Patton visibly winced, even with his metal body, and Logan’s eyes grew flinty.
“—but the new arrivals eventually became too many to exterminate,” the alien Janus went on, unconcerned. “By now we suspect the planet has a population of over a billion, far too many for its automated systems to handle.”
They turned their forward face to the four again.
“THE ASYLUM IS COMPROMISED,” the Dalek Supreme proclaimed. “IT MUST BE CLEANSED.”
“Hang on, you’re still going to blow the whole planet up?” Roman protested. “A billion people?”
“To be fair, that is what they did in the original episode,” Logan pointed out quietly.
“But that was just Daleks!”
Janus rolled his eyes. “Ah, so genocide is fine when it’s only the evil aliens getting blown up?”
“You know, somehow I’m not surprised to hear you defending the bad guys!” Roman snapped.
“That is enough!” Patton snapped in his robotic voice, stepping between them and raising both his hands. Laser pistols popped out of both of them, making both Roman and Janus step back in alarm.
After a tense moment, Patton lowered his arms again; the guns clicked and vanished into their casings.
“Uh, sorry kiddos, I don’t know what came over me,” he said in a sheepish, more Patton-y voice. “Can we please not fight? It…it kinda makes me feel weird and jittery when you do.”
Roman stared at Patton’s blank Cyberman face and armored Cyberman body and swallowed, hard.
Their Patton would never deliberately aim a gun at anyone, let alone his family. But Cybermen were created to eliminate…or rather, delete…anyone who got in their way.
Did Patton even realize what he’d almost done?
What would happen, if and when he was forced to confront the reality of his body in this realm? What if he didn’t figure it out until he accidentally did something terrible? It wouldn’t be real, of course, but to Patton…that wouldn’t matter.
If his Cyberman programming forced or tricked him into hurting someone, the guilt of it would devastate him.
All I wanted to do was take Logan on an adventure, Roman thought bitterly. A fun little dream adventure where he could play one of his heroes. Was that too much to ask, Imagination?
He folded his arms and glared around the Dalek ship, anywhere but at his fellow Sides.
Whatever the hell this has turned into, I want no part of it anymore.
“In order for us to destroy the planet, we will need you to disable the planet’s forcefield—” The alien Janus started, but Logan held up a finger.
“Excuse you,” he said sharply. “We have not agreed to do anything, least of all help you murder a billion people whose only crime is to have accidentally turned up in your prison. Have you even attempted to solve that mystery?"
"And why do you care what happens down there?" Roman added, sneering. "If the insane Daleks are armed—”
“DALEKS ARE ALWAYS ARMED,” the white Dalek proclaimed.
“—then why can’t they defend themselves?” Logan finished, shooting Roman a questioning glance.
Roman huffed, and looked away.
“At first they did,” the Janus explained. “But as I said, the automated systems cannot keep up with the influx. Wars are being fought over food and other resources as we speak. A starliner crashed on the surface mere days ago, and—”
“Ah,” Logan said slowly. “You’re afraid, with all the shifting alliances and new activity, that the mad Daleks will escape in the confusion.”
“We do not know who or what is behind the influx,” the Janus said. “But eventually, they will start coming with ships, or they will build them on the surface, or reach out to those who could attempt a rescue.”
“‘If sssomeone can get in, everything can get out’,” their Janus quoted darkly.
The other Janus nodded. “Even the Daleks agree, their mad brethren cannot be allowed to escape. We, of this assembly—”
They waved to the assembled crowd of aliens, who observed in eerie silence.
“—have decided that one planet must be sacrificed for the greater good of the universe.”
Roman slowly and deliberately drew his sword (which the Imagination had kindly left as part of his outfit). It rasped as it emerged, the sound hair-raising in the sudden lull.
Instantly every Dalek gunstick and alien weapon on the ship was primed and pointed at the four Sides.
“And if we refuse?” Roman said evenly.
“THE DOCTOR AND THE MASTER WILL COOPERATE,” the Supreme Dalek warned, its lights flashing balefully.
“COOPERATE! COOPERATE!” the cry was echoed by the other Daleks, filling the ship with a cacophony of robot voices.
The alien Janus shrugged, spreading their hands.
“You don’t really have a choice. If you want to live, that is.”
“Is that so.”
Roman tensed and sprang at the white Dalek, not giving himself time to think. He dodged a blast from its gunstick and leaped, bringing his sword down hard. This being the Imagination, the katana cut through the Dalek’s metal armor like butter, and it clattered to the deck in two pieces.
There was a shocked silence…but no retaliation.
“Well?” Roman shouted, spreading his arms and turning in a slow circle. “This is me, not cooperating. What are you waiting for? Are you really going to shoot us?”
If they all died on this spaceship…the worst that would happen is they’d be kicked from the Imagination, and that was what they wanted, anyway.
“Roman,” Logan warned quietly, pointing.
Roman looked.
The white Dalek’s shell was…laughing?
“Oh, Roman,” Remus’s crackly voice emerged from the fallen Dalek’s casing. “Roman, Roman, Roman. My poor brave brother who thinks he can solve all his problems with steel and bravado. Did you really think it would be that easy?”
Each word bit like sandpaper against Roman’s ears.
He growled, and stalked to the Dalek’s top half, snatching it up and quickly locating a tiny speaker.
“C’mon, Remus. End this stupid charade,” he said quietly, holding the casing to his face so he could speak quietly. “You’ve had your fun at my expense. Go back to your pile of severed limbs and gloat if you must, but end this. For Patton’s sake, if nothing else.”
“I’ve already told you, it’s out of my hands,” Remus responded; typically, annoyingly casual. “If you want to end the game, you have to come down here and find me.”
Roman exhaled, resting his head against the cold, bumpy metal for a moment. His eyes burned, but he was Prince; he wouldn’t cry, not here.
“Why must you make everything difficult?”
“Roman, in all seriousness,” Remus’s voice dropped. “I didn’t know you were taking Logan on a date tonight—”
“It’s not a date,” Roman hissed, glancing at the other Sides…one in particular.
“The Imagination brought me into this without asking, just like it pulled the others in,” Remus went on. “I am aware of what has to happen, but I did not cause this.”
“You’re lying,” Roman said tonelessly.
Remus’s whiny voice grew hard.
“I don’t lie, and you despise that about me. You hide so much shit from yourself that it baffles you when I refuse to do the same.”
“Look,” Remus added when Roman didn’t respond. “The Imagination is clearly trying to get our attention. Sure, it usually goes through one of us first, but it doesn’t have to. When it comes down to it, Thomas’s mind answers only to Thomas. ”
“How are you so sure?” Roman frowned.
Was Remus seriously suggesting the Imagination they both oversaw had gone rogue somehow?
“Because I don’t curate my side as meticulously as you do, brother.” Remus chuckled. “I listen. I let the Imagination do as she pleases, free from all those pesky ethics and morals and other boring boxes you always force her into, so that our sweet Thomas doesn’t fear the contents of his own head.”
“You expect me to believe that you know what’s going on because,” Roman let every ounce of disdain seep into his voice, “the Imagination talks to you, and not me…because you don’t make her behave?”
“You should try letting her loose sometimes,” Remus drawled, “or you’ll end up with a cane up your butt like Nerdy Wolverine over there.”
“Don’t call him that,” Roman spat.
“What you so-called ‘light sides’ always get wrong,” Remus went on, “is that the juicy stuff, the gruesome and grim, the ‘bad’ thoughts that filter up from the subconscious; they can’t all be locked away and ignored.” His voice dropped ominously. “Repression can be very bad indeed, you know.”
Roman’s reasonable nature knew that his brother, despite his infuriating attitude, was actually making some good points. Thomas had been dealing with a lot lately; the tension in the mindspace felt like a ticking clock, counting down to the next disaster.
But at that moment, Roman had no desire to humor his twin.
All he wanted to do was lock himself into his own room in the Dream Palace and spend the rest of the night writing sad poetry about love, or listing his mistakes to himself until he fell asleep.
“I just wanted to show Logan a good time,” he said aloud.
“And oh dear, apparently you couldn’t even manage that correctly,” Remus said, implacably. “So maybe you should use this opportunity to get your head out of your poopy ass, and reevaluate yourself.”
Roman slammed the Dalek shell against the floor.
It cracked upon impact, the wiring inside sparking and finally flickering down to darkness. He ran his hands through his hair, reminded, once again, why he hated talking to his brother.
Like looking in a funhouse mirror…
“Roman…” Patton sidled up behind him, laying a cold hand on his back. Roman shoved the metal arm away and stalked back to the others.
“Let’s just get this done,” he said in a low voice.
“You will need these,” the alien Janus said, pushing a button on a nearby console. A translucent vertical tube rose from a gap in the floor, holding three bulky black bracelets.
“Ah yes, I remember this,” Logan said, striding forward and taking a bracelet.
“They will prevent—” the Janus started.
“The nano cloud from converting us into Dalek puppets, yes?” Logan interrupted, snapping the bracelet onto his wrist and handing another to Roman.
The nerd is getting into this, Roman thought as he put it on. I guess that’s something.
“The cloud is only active in certain areas of the asylum,” the Janus warned them again. “And those change as different factions seize control of different areas and weaponize them.”
Patton hesitantly raised a hand.
“Um, Mx. Alien, I can’t help but notice that there are only three bracelets, and four of us?”
Logan frowned. “But Patton, why would you—?”
“I’m sure it’s because I’m part snake, Patton,” Janus interrupted smoothly, swooping in to grab the last bracelet and snapping it onto Patton’s arm.
Roman exchanged an alarmed look with Logan; that was the last bit of confirmation he needed. Patton really was unaware that he was a Cyberman.
But why on earth would Janus go to such lengths to keep him in the dark about it? Even leaving aside the fact that Patton was a walking weapon; being a machine, he didn’t need protection from the nano cloud at all.
Whereas Janus…probably did.
But when Roman opened his mouth, Janus shot him a look full of daggers and promises of pain, and shook his head. Roman rolled his eyes and mentally washed his hands of the situation.
Typical Deceit. Protecting his lies.
At least Patton would be twice-protected. If the snake wanted to risk his life for a lie, let him.
“The gravity beam will convey you close to the crashed starliner,” the alien Janus said, and then there were Dalek blasters being shoved into their backs, propelling them toward the hole in the floor.
“Oi,” Roman protested, “get your freaky little eggbeater appendages away from me, you AAAAHHHH!”
There was a push, and they were falling.
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Chapter 7- Oxygen
“Look at this. Classic design. Pressure seals. Hinges. None of that ‘shuk shuk’ nonsense.”
“Space doors are supposed to go shuk shuk.”
“Are you gonna be like this all day?”
Janus was done.
He sat up with a groan, brushing snow from his jacket and vest, making sure his hat and gloves were still in place. Everything ached. Bad enough he never wanted to be part this stupid dream game in the first place; now he was probably going to literally turn into a Dalek.
All because the Imagination is being a dick and Patton doesn’t know he’s a killer robot.
Wind gusted around him, making Janus glad that the Master, like the Doctor, usually preferred long sleeves and a coat. He stood, turning in a slow circle as he took in the lay of the land. Nothing but snow and rocks; true to the episode, still.
The gravity beam had split into four as it hurled them at the planet, but Janus was reasonably sure at least one of the others had landed nearby.
He hoped it was Patton.
Not because he was concerned or anything. It was just that either of the others would be absolutely insufferable company, that’s all.
“Janus!” a metallic voice called, and Janus breathed a sigh of relief.
Patton’s Cyberman body clattered awkwardly down a nearby snowbank, sliding the last few feet to land in a heap.
“It is all kinds of chilly down here.” Patton stood, and waved rather nonsensically. “Hullo there, Janus, so ice to see you.”
Janus rolled his eyes. (He would deny to his dying day that the corner of his mouth twitched at the ridiculous pun.)
“If this scenario is consistent with its source material,” he said, gesturing to the closest ridge, “there should be an escape pod from that crashed ship nearby. Come on.”
He set off across the snow, Patton following in his wake.
“Say, what do snowmen call their offspring?”
Janus exhaled carefully. Hoo, boy, maybe Logan wouldn’t have been so bad…
“I haven’t the faintest.”
“Chill-dren!” Patton chortled at Janus’s grimace. “What did one snowman say to another?”
“St. Genesius spare me,” Janus grumbled, pinching the bridge of his nose. “What, pray tell, did one snowman say to another?”
“‘Do you smell carrots?’”
Janus quickly covered his mouth.
“You smiled,” Patton crooned.
“I most certainly did not.”
“Okay, okay, one more.” Patton scurried ahead and turned around, so that he was walking backwards. “Knock knock.”
“Who’s there?” Janus said flatly.
“Snow.” Patton hooked his thumbs into the metal rim at waist, like one might on a pair of pants. Janus swallowed and looked away.
“Snow who?”
“Snow laughing matter, Janus, I don’t know why you’re smiling.”
Janus snorted before he could hide it, and cleared his throat.
“I am not smiling, how dare you.”
“That’s twice now!” Patton cackled, the sound coming out all distorted. “Admit it.”
“I refuse,” Janus said, drawing himself up. “You won’t make a liar out of….”
Liar.
He felt the joke fall flat and cringed. Even though Patton’s metal face couldn’t react, those metal shoulders visibly stiffened.
Too soon.
Liar.
Too much history between them.
Besides, you are a liar, his mind whispered. Lies of omission are still lies, Deceit, and you’re doing that right now.
Janus gritted his teeth. They topped a ridge; the expected escaped pod lay half-buried near another ridge, across a flat stretch of snow. The two Sides glanced at each other and continued their journey in silence.
Patton seemed disinclined to continue his little pun war.
Janus badly wanted to say he hadn’t minded the punning, but truthfully, keeping silent was easier. Patton’s baffling ignorance over the state of his own “flesh” was starting to wear on Janus’s conscience. He knew the longer he kept it secret, the worse the fallout would be when Patton finally learned the truth.
The urge to come clean was an unfamiliar one for him, and extremely uncomfortable.
Ironic, the master liar, conflicted about maintaining a lie.
The old him would have laughed, but…the old him hadn’t heard the sincerity in Patton’s voice, when he’d spoken Janus’s true name aloud for the first time. The old him had assumed Thomas would reject him forever…because of Patton.
And then, with Janus still smarting from the sting of Roman’s mockery, Patton had said his name.
Patton had trusted him to take care of Thomas in his stead, when the moral Side knew he had failed at it. The memory still made all Janus’s scales tingle and his heart beat a little sideways.
The new him…this him…couldn’t find it in his small, shriveled, but very much present heart to risk pushing Patton away.
They reached the pod.
Muffled shouts and something that sounded like blaster fire filtered up from inside, making them exchange another glance.
Janus set a hand on the ice-crusted latch.
“Remember, we’ll have to fight our way through a bunch of dead Dalek puppets,” he reminded Patton.
“That’s a lot of noise for just a few puppets,” Patton said softly. “That canonically shouldn’t even be awake yet.”
“I know, and that is strange,” Janus agreed. “Maybe someone got here before us. But we won’t know exactly what to expect until we get down there.”
Patton sighed, a cloud of frost puffing out of his small, rectangular mouth.
Janus pushed the latch, popped his head in, and was met with a scene of utter chaos.
About six or seven human-Dalek puppets, with stalks sticking out of their heads and blasters sticking out of their hands, were locked in a fire fight with a horde of robotic humanoids that looked like they came from the Fourth Doctor’s era, if Janus remembered correctly. Round, bulky shoulders and faces that looked like metal sunbursts.
Both puppets and robots were using the seats as cover, blaster fire zinging back and forth and exploding against the walls in little showers of sparks. Janus and Patton would be directly in the blast zone when they jumped down, a little closer to the robot side.
“Well, someone definitely got here before us,” Janus muttered.
He withdrew his head and studied Patton. Honestly, with his metal body he’d be in far less danger, and those guns in his arms would actually be useful in this situation…but telling Patton he was a walking weapon, now, would definitely not go over well.
“The hatch down into the asylum should be in the cockpit of this thing,” he informed Patton. “There’s a lot of blaster fire, though, so—”
“—don’t get cold feet and hesitate?” Patton finished.
Something in Janus’s heart twisted…something he didn’t dare examine too closely.
“Say, Patton,” he said softly, looking away.
“Yes?”
“What did the hat say to the scarf?”
Patton turned his black Cyberman eyes on Janus.
“What?”
“‘You hang around, and I’ll go a-head’.” Janus let a smirk curl his lips.
Patton was silent for a moment, but then he began to giggle, covering his mouth.
Janus pulled out his sonic laser.
He dropped into the pod with a swing of his legs, catching one of the robots in its metal chest. It fell with a screech, careening into another of its kind, but by then Janus had gained his feet and ducked behind a seat. Patton clattered down behind, with less grace and far more noise…and a random Tivolian tumbled in directly after him.
Patton caught the rodent-faced alien with a startled shout, immediately dropping them again when they screamed and struggled. Janus blinked; where the hell did they come from?
The Tivolian tumbled across the pod’s floor, only making it a few feet before getting cut down with blaster bolts. Janus saw Patton cry out, and caught the Side before he could leap out and draw more hostile fire.
“It’s too late!” he shouted over the noise.
“I should have hung on!” Patton, if he’d had a proper face, would probably be in tears. He hated death. “I don’t know why they were so scared of me!”
Janus could answer that…
“I’m more curious about where they came from,” he said instead, frowning. “They surely weren’t up on the surface with us. It’s like they just teleported in, but Tivolians don’t teleport. They don’t have the technology—”
A blaster bolt exploded across the top of the seat they were hiding behind, showering them in sparks and forcing them both to duck.
“Janus!” Patton snapped. “We need to get out of here!”
“Right.” Janus brandished his sonic. “We’ll just have to run for it.”
He leaped out, activating his weapon, and discovered that a sonic laser had a very satisfying range and kickback. Forget the Doctor’s screwdriver, he thought, blasting a Dalek puppet aside and ducking another gun blast. I wonder if the Imagination will let me keep this…
A cold, dead hand seized the collar of his jacket, yanking him back.
Then there was a yell, a clatter, and Janus turned in time to see Patton blast a puppet with a fire extinguisher. The moral Side chuckled at Janus’s shocked expression.
“I’ve seen this episode too, you know,” he pointed out.
Janus huffed.
The two dodged and fought their way to the cockpit; Janus used his laser to seal the door behind them. For a moment they simply stood there, catching their breath.
(Well, Janus caught his. Did Patton even breathe, in that form?)
“Unauthorized personnel may not enter the cockpit.” Remus’s high-pitched voice came over the speaker system. “Unless it’s an actual pit full of cocks, in which case, where’s my invitation?”
Janus was going to need something a lot stronger than tea, once they finally got out of this mess.
“Remus, for god’s sake,” he grumbled.
“God has nothing to do with my cock, but if that’s how you want to roll…” One of the cockpit screens flickered to life, and there was Remus in all his ruffly, sparkly, mustached glory. Clara’s warm, messy cove spread out behind him, reds and yellows clashing horribly with the green of his sash.
Janus moved so that his chest and shoulders blocked the screen, to prevent Remus from catching sight of Patton. If Remus saw Patton as a Cyberman, Janus would never be able to convince him to keep his mouth shut.
“All right then, where do we find you?” Janus said. “And where did the others land? Not to mention our dear missing ball of anxiety.” He leaned forward, putting on his trademark smirk. “Come on, Re. You must know. One Other to another, you can tell me.”
“Aww, Jan Jan,” Remus crooned, also leaning forward. “You care.”
“I most certainly do not!” Janus sputtered, and cleared his throat. “Patton was worried about Virgil, that’s all.”
“I was?” Patton asked from the other side of the space. “I mean, of course I am, but—”
“But surely you can at least tell us why this scenario isn’t playing out quite like the episode it comes from,” Janus interjected smoothly. He didn’t want Remus to notice the metallic quality of Patton’s voice.
“Sorry to disappoint, but I’ve already told you everything that I know.” Remus shrugged. “Roman really did give the Imagination too much freedom.”
Janus frowned.
“Then how do you know the scenario will end when we find you?”
“I actually don’t! Isn’t it great?” Remus crowed, clapping his hands. “I love stories where anything could happen. We could all get vaporized, or have our flesh eaten by—”
“Remus, focus.” Janus pitched the bridge of his nose. “So, given what we know of this particular episode, you’re assuming that our main tasks are to come get you, and to drop the forcefield on the planet so the Daleks can blow it up.”
“That’s the idea, Double Dee!”
Behind him, Janus heard Patton make a weird, choked noise, and grimaced.
“By the way, Roman and Logan are already inside the asylum.” Remus grinned, the whites of his eyes flashing. “So if you want to catch up, you’d better scute those scaly asscheeks along. Check the floor for a breach; that will be your way out. A breach, ha! Like a butth—”
Janus pointed his laser and fired on the screen, cutting the transmission and sending sparks flying all over the cockpit. An awkward silence fell in which he turned to face Patton, who of course wore no visible expression.
This, and all the reasons for it, annoyed him further.
“I swear if you ask one question about scutes or scales,” he warned, holding up a finger.
“I wasn’t…going to.” Patton held up his hands. “Logan kind of taught us how to tune out the more, er, naughty things Remus says. But I am wondering,” he added hesitantly. “Are you…feeling okay?”
“Fabulous. Peachy,” Janus said flatly, kneeling to feel around on the floor. “Fantastic, allons-y, geronimo, what have you.”
“It’s just, you seem a little angry,” Patton went on. “And you remember, that’s, that’s the first step in being converted. Maybe you should wear the bracelet for a while? We can trade on and off…”
Patton’s fingers went to his wrist, but Janus stopped him with a gloved hand on top.
Tell him, an inner voice whispered. Tell him now, before this gets any more awkward.
“That’s sweet of you, but no, I’m merely frustrated,” Janus admitted. “I would very much like to get out of here, so I can return to the pleasant evening I was having before all thisss.”
He gestured irritatedly around them.
Patton joined him on the floor and together they found a person-sized hole, with a rope ladder hanging down.
“Hey, Janus,” Patton murmured, as they were about to start the long climb down. “Can I ask you something?”
“Why do I have a feeling you’re going to ask no matter what I say?” Janus said wryly.
“Do you remember when that puppet attacked you in the main part of the ship, and I fought it off with the fire extinguisher?” Patton ducked his head.
Janus raised an eyebrow.
“They hesitated, when they saw me.” Patton’s unnaturally black eyes met Janus’s. “That’s why I had time to grab the extinguisher.”
Janus swallowed, his heart starting to pound.
“Well, I’m sure they aren’t used to anyone fighting back—”
“No, they hesitated like…like I scared them or something,” Patton pressed. “It was weird, Janus. Please. If there’s something you need to tell me…you know you can.”
Janus’s mouth compressed into a flat line and he looked away, bitterness welling up inside him.
“Can I, Patton?” he asked softly, holding up a gloved hand. A yellow indictment of everything he was. “Can I really?”
Patton sighed, long and deep.
“Touché.”
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Chapter 8- Extremis
“Something’s coming. And I’m blind. How can I see them when I’m lost in the dark?”
Logan awoke to someone shaking him.
He opened his eyes to an expanse of blurry blobs and color splotches, and Roman’s sharp, frantic face very close to his. His eyes have amber flecks, his brain noted inanely. But why is he clear when nothing else is…?
Roman threw his head back and exhaled in obvious relief when Logan groaned, blinking rapidly to clear his vision.
“Singing chimeras, Specs, I was starting to worry.”
Logan sat up and touched his bare face. Ah, there’s the problem.
“Where are my glasses?”
Roman was quiet.
Logan leaned closer to the other Side, squinting. Bad eyesight was such an annoyance. If only Thomas’s developing brain hadn’t decided early on that “smart and logical” also meant “stereotypically nerdy”, and pigeonholed his own sense of Logic into actually requiring corrective eyewear.
“Roman?” Logan tried again.
“Um. About that.”
Roman bit his lip, and handed over a smashed set of frames. Logan’s stomach sank as he examined them; the lenses were shattered beyond repair.
“I found them next to you like that, when I woke up,” Roman explained. “I’ve been trying to summon another pair, but for some reason the Imagination won’t let me!”
Logan pushed down a growing sense of dread, that he’d have to navigate the rest of this adventure half-blind.
“My glasses getting broken is obviously not your fault. We did fall down a rather deep hole,” he pointed out. “But what do you mean, the Imagination isn’t letting you?”
“I mean it’s not letting me!” Roman threw up his hands. “I could summon things on the TARDIS just fine, but now…” He sighed. “I am Creativity, right?”
Logan tilted his head and frowned.
“Is that…Roman, that is a nonsensical question. Of course you are.”
“So summoning a tiny object in my own dream scenario should be easy.” Roman hung his head.
“How long have you been trying?”
“Twenty minutes, maybe?” Roman shrugged, still not looking at him. “All that time, and yet still I fail.”
Logan resisted the urge to point out that twenty minutes should be long enough to realize a thing might be outside of one’s control, and to start brainstorming other options.
Stubborn fool.
“Maybe it’s just as well we picked the wedding over the callback,” Roman added darkly, an uncharacteristic glower twisting his face. “When Thomas’s Creativity apparently can’t even control his own dreams.”
Oh…this isn’t about glasses at all, is it? Logan swallowed around an achy sensation in his chest; the one he always got when something was wrong and Roman made that face and he just…needed to fix it.
Native English speakers have a passive vocabulary of around forty thousand words, he thought, frustrated. So why, in situations like this, am I constantly struggling to find the right thing to say?
The resigned set to Roman’s jaw prompted Logan to try.
“Your inability to summon things may not be your doing,” Logan said, laying a hand on Roman’s knee. “Perhaps the Imagination is attempting to impose a sense of realism on this adventure.”
“Realism,” Roman echoed flatly. “In Doctor Who.”
Logan huffed. “You must admit, summoning objects out of thin air does defy even time-traveling alien logic.”
Roman’s face twitched in the tiniest of smiles. “So why did it work before, Teach?”
“Maybe it only worked on the TARDIS because the ship already defies every known rule of physics.” Logan shrugged. “I admit I cannot possibly intuit the inner workings of the Imagination; I can only theorize from what I have observed thus far.”
Roman chuckled softly to himself, and bumped Logan’s shoulder.
“Aww, Nerd, I’m touched. You’re trying to logic me into feeling better.”
“Is it…working?” Logan asked.
“Kind of?” An unreadable expression flitted over Roman’s face. “At least one of us is still grounded in reality.”
“Where else could one possibly be grounded?”
Roman laughed outright at this.
“Oh, Logan. Never change, okay?”
He stood up, and pulled Logan to his feet as well.
“Where are we?” Logan asked, squinting.
He could tell they were in some large, open space; all blacks and browns and dull grays. Blurry domes of copper were scattered amongst what could be bits of fallen scaffolding or machinery.
Logan was also hyperaware of Roman’s warm arm pressed against his, and his own hand clasped tightly within the Prince’s larger grip. With everything else blurry, physical sensations were all the more distracting.
“Don’t panic, okay?” Roman started.
Logan scoffed.
“You are fortunate that I am not Virgil,” he commented wryly. “Because starting a sentence like that would almost certainly have caused him to panic.”
“Well, it’s just, do you remember that scene in the Dalek asylum episode where Rory wakes up in the hanger full of dead Daleks who turn out to be not actually dead?” Roman said in a rush. “Because…yeah.”
Oh. Logan swallowed.
“So, I am guessing that those copper domes are actually Daleks?” he said softly.
Roman snorted.
“Copper domes? Jeesh, your eyesight sucks.”
“I am aware,” Logan said flatly. “Which means you will have to guide us out. If I remember correctly, as long as we are quiet and don’t kick any pipes on the ground, we won’t wake them up.”
Roman let go of Logan’s hand… and replaced it with an arm wrapped around his waist. Logan only held back a squeak because it would have been extremely undignified.
“Hey, relax, I got you, Specs.” Roman’s breath ghosted over Logan’s ear. The Prince’s shorter stature allowed him to fit snugly against Logan’s side; if Roman turned his head, he could comfortably tuck his face into the crook of Logan’s neck.
Not…not that Logan imagined him doing any such thing.
Roman drew his sword with a metallic rasp, prompting Logan to pull out his screwdriver, and they set off across the floor.
It was a strange, vulnerable sensation, Logan thought, being this close to another, being forced to rely on him for direction…or maybe it was just that Roman’s Rose Tyler outfit left so much more skin on display than his usual royal attire…
To be fair, Roman’s bare arms and short skirt and leggings were the only non-blurry things in Logan’s line of sight at the moment.
“You know, I am not sure how much good a sword will do against a Dalek now,” Logan said dryly (to distract himself). “Since it would seem that the Imagination is now attempting to be realistic.”
“It’ll be a lot more useful than a screwdriver,” Roman retorted. “Honestly, the War Doctor had a point. The later seasons really do start to treat the sonic like a weapon, and it looks ridiculous. There’s an oily-looking puddle to your left.”
They dodged around it.
“The sonic screwdriver is an ingenious, multipurpose tool,” Logan argued. “Fitting for a character who is, at heart, a pacifist. In the right hands, it most certainly could serve as a weapon. For example one could scramble a Cyberman’s circuits, short out fuses, or calculate the precise amount of blunt force needed to take down an enemy.” Logan waved the hand with the screwdriver around them. “All things that a sword could not accomplish.”
“Sure,” Roman drawled, leading them around one of the still, silent Daleks, “but you don’t point a sonic at an oncoming Dalek and expect to survive. Even the Doctor had more sense than to try that. At least a sword could cut off its blaster arm.”
“We don’t know how strong Dalek amor is down here,” Logan pointed out. “You could end up breaking your sword and then where would we be?”
“Better off than we’d be while you assembled a cabinet at them!”
Logan’s foot collided with a metallic something that made an awful CLANG and went skittering across the floor. Roman pulled them up short, his face going pale.
All around them, round blue lights began to flicker on, one by one.
“I kicked the pipe, didn’t I?” Logan said, his heart starting to pound.
“You kicked the pipe,” Roman confirmed in a sick voice.
“EGGS…!” a crackly Dalek voice next to them stuttered, making them jump. “EG-EG-EG-EGGS…!” Its twin lights flashed erratically as it spoke.
“Roman,” Logan started.
“‘Eggs, you may laugh and that’s great…’” Roman sang in a wavering voice. “‘Your smiles are what make my day’…”
The Dalek rolled toward them creakily. “EEEEEGGS!”
Logan’s breathing sped up. Another Dalek rolled in from the other side, causing him to stumble. All around them, mechanical creaks and groans and a chorus of digitized voices rose up…
“EG…EG-EGGS…TERM…”
“Roman, I believe we need to run.” Logan could see the Dalek almost clearly now, its eyestalk glowing, its gunstick rising up.
“…IN…ATE…”
Blurry, flashing lights closed in.
“‘My self-worth’s fragile like an egg,’” Roman sang. The hand gripping Logan’s middle tightened painfully. “‘When it breaks it’s tough to put together again…’”
“EX…TERM…IN…ATE!”
“Roman!” Logan shouted. “Get us out of here!”
“EXTERMINATE!”
A blaster bolt warbled past and exploded over their heads.
Roman shuddered and seemed to snap out of it, seizing Logan’s arm and pulling him so hard he nearly fell. Logan staggered, hanging onto Roman’s hand for dear life as they ran, and ran, and blaster bolts burst at their feet and shattered around them.
“This way, boys and boys,” Remus’s voice sing-singed across the room. Roman yanked them hard in that direction.
“REMUS!” Roman shouted as they ran, and Logan was impressed he had the breath for it. “Remus, you better open that door like you’re supposed to or we are DEAD!”
“Oh, keep your pants on, brother,” Remus snarked, sounding a little closer. “Although maybe Logan would prefer that you didn’t—”
Whatever else he said wasn’t audible over a hanger full of jabbering Daleks and firing blasters.
They reached a wall and Roman shoved Logan down.
“Straight ahead, crawl. Go, go, go!” he said, turning and brandishing his sword.
Bless that Prince and his stupid, stupid bravery.
Logan went, nearly tripping over his coat as he crawled under the barely lifted hatch door. Once he was past the threshold Roman flung himself under and through, knocking into Logan and sending them both sliding across the floor.
There was a hiss and a heavy thud that Logan hoped was the door shutting behind them, and finally, blessed silence. They both leaned against the wall for a moment, catching their breath.
Roman thunked his head back.
“Jesus Christ Superstar,” he muttered.
“Your welcome.”
Remus’s voice crackled through the hallway. Roman growled and sat up straighter, looking around as if his brother would magically appear.
“I did just save your lives,” Remus added. From the direction of the sound, Logan guessed he was talking through a speaker somewhere on the far wall.
“Yeah, and I’m still gonna whip your butt when this is all over,” Roman groused.
“Oooh, do I get to choose the instrument?”
Roman sputtered, but Logan grabbed his arm before he could yell back.
“You know he just likes to get under your skin,” he murmured, and raised his voice. “Thank you for opening the door, Remus. We are grateful for your help.”
There was a silence on the other end, with a quality that Logan would have described as shocked.
“Well. You two lovebirds better move along,” Remus drawled finally, shrill as ever. “Before the Silurian army shows up.”
“Excuse me, the WHAT?” Logan exclaimed.
No answer.
“Remus!” Roman clambered to his feet and helped Logan up.
Nothing.
Except now that Logan was listening for it, he definitely heard approaching footsteps and murmuring, heavily-accented voices. And they were getting closer.
“That dick,” Roman grumbled through gritted teeth.
“To be fair, I think he is trying to help,” Logan pointed out. “In his own way.”
“Don’t be fair to my brother when he’s just led us out of the frying pan and into the fire.”
“We are neither in a pan nor on fire, Roman; I have never understood that saying—”
The lights dimmed and flashed an eerie purple; Roman silenced him with a hand over his mouth. There was a voice…not Remus’s, not alien, not like anything Logan had ever heard. It chanted something, over and over again, before fading out.
The lights flared back to normal.
Logan waited, counting Roman’s shallow breaths against his neck.
Nothing.
“What was that?” he asked softly.
“Beats the hell out of me,” Roman responded. “But I guess that’s our cue to go. Stay close, Mr. Magoo.”
Logan grumbled, but allowed Roman to recapture his hand and lead them in the opposite direction of the approaching footsteps…which had resumed the moment the purple light vanished.
Next time Roman asked him to come on an adventure, he was bringing a spare set of glasses.
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yoonminfic-recs · 3 days ago
hey do you have good yoonmin canon compliant fanfics?:)
hello yes of course! here are a few:
you can hear it in the silence (you’re in love) by raplinelover (5k)
fluffy and cutesy with the tiniest bit of angst
Movie Night by maia_archives (8k)
basically just smut 👀
(feat. Jimin) by dawnstruck (10k)
takes place after bts disbands (members still have a good relationship though) - yoongi and jimin reunite and make some music together :)
Hello, I'm Min Yoongi, and I'm not desperately in love with you. by Giveme5minutes (13k)
yoongi pines after jimin, jimin is kinda oblivious, and all the other members just observe and laugh
흰 여름 ('White Summer') by dawnstruck (24k)
canon compliant where bts releases some gay content. think this is pretty classic. i think it’s a pretty great characterization of the members. just really cute with some angsty moments
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