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#he went through the five stages of grief in two minutes
robinofinashiro · 22 days ago
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@megumitodoroki: “headcannons (maybe a drabble if you want??) for yan tamaki and yan kirishima with a pregnant darling? ( i saw the hawks and bakugo one, i really liked!!!)” 
characters: yandere kirishima ejirou, tamaki amajiki x fem! reader
request status: OPENED / all fandoms I write for are pinned to the top of my page as well as my rules! feel free to request as you’d like! just please be respectful of my rules and if you have any questions, personally message me!
kirishima ejirou: 
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oooh, fuck, really? you got pregnant with HIS baby? fuck. i mean, kirishima is a great husband, for the MOST part. his issue 99.9999% of the time is that he’s too fucking clingy and it shows. even if he isn’t laying it on thick, everyone can see the way he is around you. 
lets say you weren’t home when he found out. you went through the five stages of grief when you found out. the stick was in your hand as you stared at the wall in panic. you were in no mindset to be carrying a child and you knew there would be consequences the longer you waited to tell him. 
at first, you planned to end it all and just put you and the fetus out of misery but then you realized.....kiri locked all the knifes, sharp objects, and anything you could think of hurting yourself with away. you knew regardless of what you were thinking, you were going to have his kid whether you wanted too or not. 
when kiri came home, you were still in the same position in the bathroom and holding onto the stick in your hand. when he realized what it was, he let out a high pitched scream. you’re pregnant !! like this wasn’t something he was expecting to happen just yet but here you were !! pregnant with his kid. 
the first thing he did was make an appointment for you. he needed to know how far along you were and when your projected birth date was. the doctor hadn’t been able to pinpoint what the sex was yet but he didn’t care !! his child was going to be the next red riot !! he was going to make sure of it !! 
months into the pregnancy, he started to fix up the nursery. while you were still miserable in the fact that you were pregnant, you knew you got nothing out of loathing from the news and tried to look at the silver linings in all of it. maybe kiri would lay off the rules and give you some freedom. he was already acting different. 
when you were in pain, he would be at your call. when he was at work, he made sure someone was there with you. what if something went wrong? he couldn’t trust you on your own. when your mood swings were bad, he would listen to you for once and keep his distance when you asked. when you were starving, he would get whatever it is you wanted. 
the nursery was red riot themed. little linings of red everywhere with black incorporated along with it. he had small figures of himself in the crib and on small shelfs around the room. kiri made sure to put pics of the two of you in the room so the kid could see the love you both had for each other. he even went out of his way to make mini outfits of his hero uniform that fit every time he assumed the kid would have a growth spurt. 
lets say you end up finding out that you were having not only a boy, they were going to be twin boys, kiri fucking fainted. he doubled everything in the nursery and even built an extra room for the second baby. kiri was ecstatic to say the least. he never thought he’d get twins !! you on the other hand went through another phase of grief knowing that you were carrying twins and that meant that kiri was going to be home more than you wanted him to be. 
when you finally go into labor, kiri dropped everything he was doing and fucking SPEED RAN to the hospital. when he got there, you were already under epidural and trying to calm yourself down. the pain was unbearable, even with the epidural. he could see the pain on your face and wanted to cry right along with you. you were even holding onto him, hoping that he did something right for once and tried to calm you down. 
when you finally gave birth, kiri bawled like a child. they were both out within a few minutes and while you held one baby, kiri held the other. they had his black hair and your skin tone. he had never seen three beautiful people in his life and here you were, his wife and kids. his life was complete. 
tamaki amajiki: 
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okay cool, tamaki is not horrible yandere so you’re relatively safe for the most part. the thing with tamaki that makes it unbearable to live with is that you can’t do shit. he’s terrified of you even breathing the wrong way tbh. he won’t let you leave the house bc he’s afraid something will happen to you. 
the day you found out you were pregnant with his baby, it was bittersweet. you were excited bc although he had abducted and was holding you hostage in his home, tamaki as a person was not a horrible person. he wasn’t mirio and he def wasn’t nejire. you had been feeling sick for a while and every morning you woke up you ran to the bathroom vomiting your guts out. 
you refused to tell tamaki bc you knew he would go into full panic if you did. you just had told mirio in secret to bring you a test and drop it off. when he did, you quickly ran to the bathroom and took the test. you were clawing the counter in a bout of anxiety and as soon as the clear blue test rang up positive, you felt dizzy in the head and fell on top of mirio who had offered to stay. 
he quickly fanned you as he basically screamed to tamaki to get his ass home. tamaki had dropped everything he was doing and ran to his house. he had no idea why mirio was there and bc the emergency was abt you, he booked it even faster. when he finally got there, you were chugging back a hydroflask full of water and murmured to him the news. 
tamaki basically passed out three different times hearing the news. it took mirio, a call to nejire, and yourself to get him out of it. when he finally stopped fainting and realized what you had said, he gave you a long hug, murmuring that finally it happened. he had been wanting kids for so long, as weird as it sounds. he was nervous wreck almost all the time but he wanted to continue his family line with you and hopefully they ended up with your personality. 
he scheduled your first doctor appointment a few weeks later and at that appointment, the two of you had found out the exact date and gender. you were having a baby girl !! tamaki was dumbfounded. he was expecting a boy but he wasn’t complaining. he was getting a mini you !! another to love and take care of. that meant that no hero course for his baby girl. nope !! business or support course at the very least. 
her nursery consisted of small sun eater figures and outfits. every now and again, he would had lemillion and nejire-chan themed things. your daughter would have mini outfits of all three of them and would have plushies of the three of them in the crib. hell, even the crib set was the big three themed. he and mirio had painted a mural for her and added photos of all four of you to make sure that even if his daughter didn’t have anyone to be her friend, the four of you would always be there. 
he didn’t take your change in moods well. frankly, he was terrified of you. there would be days where you would unleash your anger like never before and other days, you’d be sobbing to him. the food you did make though was AMAZING. it was a weird combination that always turned out amazing at the end. 
fat gum and kirishima were surprised but excited to hear the news. they bought her a bunch of red riot and fat gum themed clothes as well and fat gum would even bring you food when he was in the area. you were so important to tamaki and he knew that so he had to make sure that you were also important to him too. tamaki upon telling mirio and nejire that you were pregnant told them they were the god parents so they were almost just as protective over you like tamaki was. 
the day you gave birth, tamaki was home with you. you were just laying in bed when your water broke and he drove you to the hospital like he was in fast and furious. you were taken back by his actions but he practically screamed at the nurses as soon as you arrived to help you. he made sure to scream to them to give you epidural the minute you asked and if any of them even slipped up once, tamaki would have blood on his hands a few days later, making sure he took care of those useless nurses and doctors. tamaki in this setting was not one to mess with, that’s to say the least. 
when you finally gave birth, he cried a bit but not as much as you expected. the time he did cry was when he held his daughter and looked at the two of you. his life was perfect. you had a healthy daughter and you were relatively okay yourself post-birth. the only other time he cried was when he made the three-way call to mirio, fat gum, and nejire to tell them you had finally given birth and all of you were okay. 
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janetm74fics · a month ago
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Revenge c4: Tracking...
Whumpay Day 13: Grief/Feels Guilty For Being Happy
For previous chapters click here.
The Hood grinned into the camera. This was the second most enjoyable part of the whole plan so far. The horror on the faces of the men and women staring back. Even if she was his niece, Tanusha had thrown her lot in with his sworn enemy, and she’d used up her chances of redemption.
Still, there was much to do before the clever one traced where they currently were, so he turned to his two companions. ‘Cut him down and let’s get out of here,’ he said, gesturing to Scott’s limp form. Havoc stepped forward and cut the binds from the ceiling, and Scott fell into a heap on the floor. There was no ability in his legs to bear his weight, and he couldn’t help the small cry at the release of pressure to his arms and chest.
The relief was short-lived as Fuse bent over him to pick him up, and Scott had just enough time to see the Hood and Havoc leave before he was hoisted up and the world went black.
Fuse found himself in a very bizarre and difficult situation. On the one hand, he hated International Rescue almost as much as the boss and his sister. On the other hand, they – and more specifically Scott – had saved his life at a time when he would have been justified in letting Fuse die from his stupidity. Sure, he’d saved their lives in return and left the uranium behind, but the words he’d heard Scott utter had haunted him ever since.
‘Bad guy or not, he needs help…’ And Scott had helped him escape. He didn’t even hesitate, unlike Fuse.
He watched as the boss killed Janus, and while he had no feelings for the man, there was the faintest stirring of guilt that the man had not realised what was coming. Fuse surprised himself when he felt happy that it was not him or his sister in that position, but he was immediately assaulted with a wave of guilt. A man had just died. Janus may have been unhinged, but he was a liability to the boss, and Fuse couldn’t help but see himself lying there.
He had no doubt that at some stage the Hood would view them – or more specifically him – as a liability too. And there was an unwelcome and intrusive thought. Like Janus, who would there be to grieve for him?
As the boss and his sister moved into the room, Fuse made plans. And as he picked the man up, he carefully, but unobtrusively, moved the loose ropes to one side and followed the others out of the room.
Getting home was the hardest thing. Hard because things had changed. Two injured brothers, one missing. He’d made sure that Gordon and Alan had slept the journey home. Although only minorly injured, with Gordon’s cracked ribs the worst, they needed rest.
If they were going to find Scott they needed to be at full strength.
John was furiously trying to get through the shielding Janus had used, he and EOS were working flat out. There had to be a way, a weakness, a fault. He just had to find it! He had to!
Hours.
It seemed to be hours later when John reported that he thought he might, just might, have a location. Not too far from the original place their brothers had been held there was a building that was currently being shielded. EOS had found it. But before they could even contact the GDF with the details, a call came through. It was heavily encrypted, and John had no doubt who it was and he patched it through to the island.
Virgil was glad that Alan was still out of it. He didn’t need to see this. But he did, he owed it to his brother who had so selflessly given himself up in exchange for a brother – again. He looked around the room. Faces were grim. Gordon had his arm around their Grandma, Kayo was furiously pacing the floor. Penny and Parker were online and looked just as angry.
The words were meaningless. The man was rambling. But their eyes were fixed on their hanging brother. Scott was in his undershirt and there were burn marks. The cause was no mystery as Janus held a cattle prod which he used to jab Scott with to emphasis the words he was saying.
And then. And then he switched the prod on and held it to Scott’s stomach and held it and held it until their brother was screaming and crying. And then he stopped as Scott went limp. In the silence that followed there was a sob. Virgil spun around to see Alan standing there, shock and fear and tears on his face, and he practically vaulted the couch to get to his baby brother and held him tight.
‘If you think that I have been brutal to your brother, your commander, then you won’t like who comes next.’ Virgil frowned over the top of Alan’s head. Who on earth could Janus be talking about? His eyes met Kayo’s, and hers reflected back the fear he was feeling. He turned back to the screen.
There was a collective gasp in the room as the Hood appeared on the screen. Janus gestured to Scott but turned to the Hood.
‘I have delivered as promised.’
‘And I release you, as I promised’
And he took out a gun and shot a very surprised Janus, right between the eyes. A second gasp from the family. The Hood turned to the camera and smirked. He looked over his shoulder as his two companions entering the screen.
He gestured to Havoc and said, ‘Cut him down and let’s get out of here,’ he said, gesturing to Scott’s limp form. Havoc stepped forward and cut the binds from the ceiling, and Scott fell into a heap on the floor. There was no ability in his legs to bear his weight, and he couldn’t help the small cry at the release of pressure to his arms and chest. Fuse bent over him to pick him up, and Scott had just enough time to see the Hood and Havoc leave before he was hoisted up by Fuse, and the screen went black.
There was nothing at first. The horror Virgil was feeling he could see on every face in the room. It was Kayo who broke the silence. ‘I’m going to kill him!’ Gordon scoffed. ‘Get in line, sis. Get in line.’ John had disappeared, trying to refine the location. No matter. Less than five minutes after the transmission ended Virgil, Gordon, Alan and Kayo were all aboard Two and on their way, John co-ordinating. No one mentioned leaving the two youngest at home.
It took too long.
Too long to get there, to the building, to Scott, to where their brother had been. Gordon and Kayo went first, all military mindset, but they all knew that they were too late. It was no more than a fact-finding mission now, but Gordon was definitely going to make sure they were alone, that no-one else was going to get taken. He and Kayo checked every room.
Nothing. The room that their brother was in was practically empty. Just a camera on a tripod, a hook in the ceiling and a pile of rope on the floor. And the body of the man that had started this all.
Alan thought he would feel hatred for him, for Janus, but he didn’t. He felt sorry for the man. No-one knew who he really was and that meant that no-one was going to be told he was dead. No-one was going to grieve for him. And irrationally Alan felt sad. Then he felt anger, and it was all he could do not to kick the body. Instead, he turned away to see Virgil looking at him, appraisingly, but then Virgil turned away.
In a rare rage Virgil kicked the camera over. It fell among the rope. It dislodged something hidden. Alan noticed the flash of colour. Purple. There could only be one source. ‘What…what is that, hidden in the rope?’ It was like all the air was sucked out of the room as Kayo bent to pick it up, whatever it was. They were all holding their breath as she held it up to the light.
A data chip. A purple data chip.
They rushed back to Two where Kayo placed the chip into a reader and John looked over the data it was proving them. They watched John, fingers flying, in absolute silence. Waiting. Hoping.
John frowned and looked up at them. ‘It’s gonna take a while to decipher this, guys. There’s some heavy encryption and safety protocols.’ They groaned in unison, but it really was no surprise. What they now needed to decide was whether they went home and waited or stayed where they were.
Grandma made that decision for them. ‘Bring them home, Virgil. Gordon and Alan still need rest.’ No-one commented as Virgil set Two for home for the second time without his eldest brother.
Awareness crept up slowly on Scott. It wasn’t warm and it wasn’t beautiful. It brought pain and coldness and fear. And that was before he opened his eyes. He wanted to make the most of this solitude, Scott was certain it wouldn’t last. He became aware that his hands were now bound – no, cuffed, behind him. He was lying on a floor and it was cold on his bare skin, his bare legs. He seemed to still have his undershirt on, so that was a relief.
As his awareness increased, so did the sense that he actually wasn’t alone. He could hear breathing, a light breathing, not of someone trying to hide that they were there at all, just someone waiting. Waiting for him to wake up. Should he open his eyes and find out who it was? He scoffed to himself. Of course he should.
Scott opened one eye a crack, prepared for a burst of bright light that didn’t come. It was dark, wherever he was, so Scott opened both eyes. In his line of sight sat Havoc. She was sitting on the floor in front of the door, staring at him. He decided he should be in a more comfortable position if she was going to do anything, but moving was far harder than he anticipated, and he refused to give her the satisfaction of hearing him in pain. Easier said then done, but Havoc didn’t move, didn’t smile, didn’t gloat, and Scott found that just a little unnerving.
Eventually he managed to get himself propped up against the wall. It was an effort that left him breathing erratically and trembling all over. Still Havoc watched without speaking, and Scott certainly wasn’t going to initiate anything. He held her eye, refusing to back down.
After an indeterminate time Havoc sighed. ‘I don’t understand what it is you have over my brother, Tracy,’ she said, voice low enough that he had to concentrate to hear her. ‘Here we are, the bad guys, living the high life, and suddenly he meets you and it’s like you cast a spell on him.’ Scott frowned. He didn’t have a clue what she was talking about.
‘That dumb ox is gonna get hisself killed over you, and I ain’t about ready to let that happen. So shut up and listen, ok?’ Scott nodded, not that he had said anything. Havoc held up a really small chip in her hand for him to see. ‘He thinks I don’t know, but Fuse has left a gift for your brothers.’ She saw Scott stiffen and she grinned. ‘Nah, not like that. A way to track us, or rather, you.’ She got to her feet and came right up to him, kneeling down and staring into his face again.
‘You saved my brother’s life, and now I’m gonna save yours. This chip will activate when I tell it to and talk to the chip your brother has. Only, I ain’t gonna activate it until we are far away from you, so don’t get your hopes up for a quick rescue. Besides, the Hood wants me to tell him when your awake, so he has business with you. Don’t think either of us will help you against him directly.’
She held up the chip again and looked into his face. Then her hand shot out, grasping his jaw and forcing it open. It didn’t take the effort it would normally have done, he didn’t have anywhere near his usual strength to fight her, and she put the chip in his mouth, holding his mouth and nose until he swallowed convulsively.
Havoc stepped back and looked at Scott, a frown evident. ‘Don’t tell ‘im or I will kill you on the spot. This makes us even, flyboy, understood?’ Scott nodded. This seemed to satisfy Havoc, although she pushed him back down onto the floor before leaving without a backwards glance..
Great. He had an exit strategy of sorts; he just didn’t know how long it would take to implement. All that rested with the Hood and whatever he had planned for Scott. It was not something he was looking forward to finding out. Thankfully it seemed he wouldn’t have long to wait.
The man did not keep him waiting. He walked into the room like he owned it, which he probably did. Scott shook himself. ‘Get a grip, Scott, and concentrate!’ The Hood stopping in the middle of the room, just about close enough that he could kick Scott if he wanted to, but out of range of Scott’s legs.
He stood there, staring. Scott stared back. The Hood sniffed and kicked him in the stomach, right where Janus had hit him the longest with the cattle prod. Scott bit his lip to stop from crying out. He could see the look of triumph flash across the man’s face.
The Hood turned and walked almost out of the room, before turning and looking back at Scott. ‘Enjoy your stay here, Scott. You’ll be here for quite some time, I’m afraid,’ he said, hand on the door. ‘Quite some time. I wouldn’t worry about anyone finding you. Ever.’ The door clanged shut to the sounds of the man laughing.
Scott knew not to trust anything the Hood said, and he didn’t know how long he was going to be alone, but Scott was going to make the best use of the time. He seemed to be safe from Havoc and Fuse, and the Hood was promising he was going to leave him alone too, at least for a bit, so the best use of his time right now was to sleep, to regain strength.
He didn’t know how far away Havoc would want to be before she activated the chip, but Scott was willing to bet it would be a fair distance. He settled down and slept the broken sleep of one who really needed to keep guard.
John was pulling his hair out, almost literally. Everything that he and EOS tried didn’t work. It was the first time he had failed for years, and what a time for his skills to fail. Frustration mounting, he kicked out at the console, which only resulted in a hurt foot and a concerned AI. Hacking havoc’s gloves hadn’t been this complex. It was almost as if he was missing a piece of the puzzle.
Down on the island things weren’t much better. Even though it was the middle of the day, Sally had insisted that they grab some sleep while they could, no-one could say for sure how long it would take for John to crack the code – or for another vid to come through. They had all complained, but Alan was already drooping and Gordon was barely any better. Virgil took one of the couches while Kayo took the other.
More time passed.
It seemed to Virgil that all he had done since Scott, Gordon and Alan had left for their meetings was to wait. Wait for the meeting to finish. Wait to find out what the emergency meeting was about. Wait to find out where Gordon and Alan had been taken. Wait to rescue Gordon and Alan. Wait…to find out Scott was missing. Wait to find out who, to find out why. Wait to find out where…
Suddenly there was a loud whoop. Virgil’s head shot up, and he watched John. The ginger was grinning like a maniac. ‘I have a signal and a location.’ John disappeared momentarily and reappeared, followed by Gordon and Alan, who he’d obviously woken up.
Gordon was all business. ‘What have you got to report, John?’ John didn’t bat an eyelid at the manner of address. ‘I have a second signal coming in that seems to have activated the chip. Suit up. I’m sending co-ordinates through.’
As they settled in Two’s cockpit Alan reflected. He felt sorry for Janus, the man was obviously unhinged. He couldn’t quite find it in his heart to forgive him, though. And he felt vaguely guilt at feeling happy while a person had died.
Happy that they at least had an idea of where to find his brother. To find Scott.
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ask-hex-and-whitty · a month ago
Saro did a small nod of agreement, having a small fainted smile on her face as she noticed that she called him Whitty instead of Levi. She will keep in mind to say his new nickname more often. “Well..that’s something good.” She said as she was about to pat his head softly but stopped before she could do that, soon retracting her hand back to herself as she didn’t want to take the risk of hurting him. “Sorry for..everything that happened, Levi.” She apologized to him, but didn’t go into details about it. She then summoned a red aura clock that’s beneath Whitty, it beginning to tick counter-clockwise as it reversed the time slowly for Whitty’s body to the point where he wasn’t hurt by the Anon. It shouldn’t hurt him, though it might be best to not move for some time due to the possible sensation. “Stay still, it should be done soon.” She said as that happened, which it took almost two minutes to finish due to not doing it too quick, also using this ability as a way to heal him instead of using green magic. Once it was done, Saro was thinking if she should leave both Whitty and Anon alone to talk, or if she should take him to another place.
"... Oh, so it wasn't a dream."
If you looked into Whitty's eyes, you'd see he went through the whole five stages of grief in one sitting. Well, he wasn't dead, but he didn't think he'd forget that cold feeling of acceptance, when his life is in someone's hands and he can't do anything to stop it.
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patchwork-rambles · a month ago
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*I carefully pick up and squint at the newest stream as if it’s some mysterious herb that could either be poisonous or delicious and the devil is in the details when it comes to identifying it. Then, I gently set it down on a shelf off to the side before slamming down my Red Festival notes on the table and gesticulating wildly.*
I'm back on my Red Festival bullshit, and this time I've got a small little ramble about the Pit!
Moving forward, my plan is to polish up my Red Festival notes, which break down quotes and specific moments during the stream from a character perspective. It'll be a very zoomed in look, focused on details. But in the case of the Pit, I have some thoughts that wouldn't fit that analysis-- examinations of things from a step back. So instead of trying to figure out a way to mesh it with that, I'm just making it a separate post.
The big question is: Why? Why did the Pit happen?
And while others have brought forth various answers, and I myself have my own perspective on it from a character level, I also want to examine a facet that hasn't really been discussed.
So let's take a step back and look at the point of the Pit from a ✨Narrative Perspective.✨
And I promise, for all of you character focused folks, that this is still relevant to discussion.
(And, as always when discussing anything to do with c!Wilbur, I point to my sign that says "Explanations are not excuses." I am not trying to erase the harm he and the Pit had on characters.)
Stage Set
Let's go back in time to October 16. A time when the tone was only starting to dip its toes into seriousness, when things hadn't gotten quite so heavy. When the rules of the setting were malleable, when chat was an accepted part of the universe and needed no justification, when death had no permanence and its weight varied depending on what the plot needed.
Let's go back in time. When morality was not a focus of fandom debate. When the worst thing someone could do was large scale griefing. When the story was still just starting to be taken seriously by the audience. When plot was malleable and the comments and chat were still rife with folks who had yet to realize that yes, this was a roleplay. When no one had even a fraction of an idea of what to expect.
Let's go back in time. You are watching Wilbur's stream on October 16, 2020. His last stream was on October 8, and during the latter forty minutes of it he had his big breakdown and Villain Speech. Maybe you've watched other streamers between then and now. Maybe you've only been watching Wilbur's perspective. But you know the stakes: Wilbur plans to blow up Manberg at the innocent-seeming festival, regardless of who is caught in the crossfire. The objective is chaos and destruction.
As the stream progresses, the tension builds. You know that Tubbo has a code during his speech to signal Wilbur to press the button, and you watch as Tommy tries and fails to persuade Wilbur to abandon his plan… Only for Wilbur himself to express internal conflict. You watch him talk with Tommy and Tubbo, the ups and downs, when Wilbur gets so close to dropping it all but then second guesses his own hesitation, gives the reins to Tubbo. And now Tubbo's speech has even more weight, now you've heard all about all the stacks of tnt and where they are, now the characters have all expressed anxiety over the situation, now the future is uncertain and whether Manberg goes boom is all in Tubbo's hands, and as his speech begins you're on the edge of your seat.
And he says the line… but… something's off with Schlatt.
And then boom. It's revealed Tubbo's been found out and is to be executed for his crimes. All of the tension and anxiety is redirected at this new target. Now the focus has shifted from "is Manberg going to explode." It's all about Tubbo.
And it culminates in his death.
And in that moment, even the few former dissenters in chat are in agreement: Wilbur needs to push the button. Manberg needs to explode. The immediate reaction is chaos, amongst both characters and audience, and Wilbur tries and tries to find the button but he can't so he drops it and has a minor confrontation with Schlatt in defense of Niki and. As he and Techno escape. Things start to settle down.
Wilbur's initial horror changes into sick glee as his delusions have been validated in his eyes. And Techno and Tommy keep arguing in circles.
And you're left with one train of thought:
… Wait, what the fuck is this-- he lost the button?! Really?! That's… stupid! I wanted explosions!
And the Audience Boos
It may come off as surprising to new viewers who didn't experience the stream live, but yeah. In the moment, Wilbur "losing track" of the button was a huge disappointment to the audience. To some, it felt like a cop out. All this tension over the button had been built throughout the stream, and there was no pay off. The button was just lost. Oops.
From our current perspective in present day, it's easy to look back on the moment as just another step in building tension. This is just another tease leading to a larger, more dramatic pay off. Because we know Wilbur has the button room and not all is lost. We know that he presses the button, and the weight of his decision isn't obscured by any other big development like Tubbo's execution. We know it's just more juicy set up to an epic pay off.
But, on October 16, we didn't know any of that. Wilbur hadn't even mentioned "Chekhov's gun"-- we had no assurance that there would be a pay off. And without that assurance, this specific tease that "oh darn, Wilbur totally would've pressed the button but whoopsie doodle! He lost it! Guess nothing will go boom!" was extremely aggravating to many viewers. It stung.
Furthermore, Wilbur had been pretty inactive and ineffectual throughout his stream. He hadn't seen much action beyond his brief confrontation with Schlatt, and that was disappointing considering he'd lured his audience in with this notion of violence, of an explosion. And while Techno got to go feral with fireworks and Tubbo died and Tommy got to charge in after him, Wilbur… didn't have much to compare. 
He tried to find the button. And he failed. And the audience was baying for blood.
If you look, you can even find that at the time, quite a few fics came out of this-- quite a few people wrote stories where Wilbur pressed the button during the festival because that's what they wanted.
The audience wanted violence. And they feared they wouldn't get it, because Wilbur… Well...
Wishy-washy Wilbur
Despite Wilbur's turn into "this is exactly how I predicted," his character was still a bit murky. Remember: he'd been having second thoughts about Plan Bomb, and his internal conflict was especially hammered home to his audience. Yes, he went for the button, but he also couldn't find it. And there were even a few folks who saw that as suspicious and wondered if he didn't purposely pretend to have misplaced it. Then, he confronted Schlatt, offering his own life in exchange for Niki and anyone else he might want to punish-- a heroic act of self-sacrifice that called to mind the days of General Wilbur Soot.
So from this angle, Wilbur's character stood on shaky ground. He'd only started his full on Big Villain Spiral an hour into the October 8 stream, and during the Festival stream-- only the second stream of his to show this spiral-- he'd already expressed internal conflict about his plans, failed to bring them to fruition, and showcased some positive traits harkening back to his earlier days. In the aftermath, he needed to cement his current path in the eyes of the audience and show them what to expect and how the festival changed him. 
And again, because he'd been largely observant and ineffectual, he needed to take some level of action. Just saying "yeah, this all proves my point and I do still plan on exploding everything" wasn't enough-- he had to back those words with some act, some greater signal of his arc. Combined with the audience expectation for violence, this meant that he had to play a role in violence. He didn't necessarily have to throw a punch himself, but he had to clearly provoke or instigate some sort of violent conflict to both appease the audience and show exactly what direction his character was heading. 
It's all coming together, isn't it? But there are still a couple more elements at play.
Falling Action and Denouement
Time to bring out the grade school literary tool of Freytag's Pyramid-- you know the thing, big triangle with Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution? Trust me, it's important. It's dramatic structure, baby. We're not gonna go too in depth on it here, but viewing the streams through this structure highlights the narrative importance of the Pit. And yes, before we get into it, this structure can in fact be applied to an individual stream. The Red Festival has its own self contained story while also being a part of the larger story of S1 of the smp. 
A story can be divided into five general parts. Exposition- the background information. In this case, the early segments of the streams where the characters give a quick rundown of what's happened and what's going to happen. Rising Action- major events that add suspense and tension to the plot leading up to the climax. This would be things like Tommy and Wilbur's arguments, Wilbur second guessing himself, and the talk with Tubbo. Climax- the most suspenseful part/turning point for the characters. This is Tubbo's speech and execution. This leaves the last two parts, Falling Action and Denouement, as incomplete before the Pit scene.
Falling Action follows the Climax, as the tension stemming from the conflict decreases and reaches a conclusion. It's tricky to identify at times, but it's an important part of plot structure that gives a story a satisfying feel. It winds things down to a natural end, yes, but it can still also introduce new conflict, challenges, or action. It merely allows for the main conflict of the story to reach a resolution, to bring everything to an end. Meanwhile, the Denouement ties up loose ends after a resolution has been reached.
What's the point of this? The kind of wrap up of a Falling Action into Denouement was needed when everyone was meeting in Pogtopia.
Picture this: After the execution, everyone meets in Pogtopia. Tommy and Techno argue a bit, going in circles as in canon. But then they just. Separate and end stream.
That would've been very narratively unsatisfying-- there would've been no resolution to this new conflict between Tommy and Techno. Ending the streams without any consequence or greater acknowledgement of this development would feel out of place, abrupt. It didn't necessarily need closure-- neither character needed to make up by the end of it, and it could be left open for future plot developments. But it needed some form of momentary resolution, some way to convincingly move them past endless arguing to a satisfying and understandable endpoint.
After Tubbo's execution and the new conflict that arose from it, Tommy and Techno needed a way to move past their bickering and reach an appropriate concluding point. And in combination with what we've already discussed, it becomes immediately apparent why the Pit happened on a narrative level.
Side-Note: Tone
This is a minor point, but I do feel that it's worth mentioning exactly why the tone of the Pit is what it is. Because even beyond the traditional tonal differences between S1 and other seasons, the Pit couldn't have been given an angsty, serious tonal treatment without messing up the larger story of the Red Festival. The Pit happened Post Climax. Tubbo's speech and execution was the narrative peak. And if the Pit was given dramatic narrative weight, if it was shown to have deeply hurt Tommy and given him lasting trauma, if it was portrayed as Techno violently and mercilessly beating Tommy to death or near-death… It would undercut the impact of Tubbo's death. It would introduce a whole new mess of problems and suddenly put Tommy and his pain in the spotlight, quickly shoving aside Tubbo.
It's not an issue really if later seasons go back and recontextualize the Pit as something more traumatic. The more serious developments of the smp have recontextualized a lot of prior events as far more dire than they were previously portrayed. But I've seen some folks question why in the moment the Pit wasn't given that kind of weight, and it doesn't all boil down to "S1 was more lighthearted." Everyone needed to ramp down and have their streams reach an appropriate end, and framing the Pit as this hugely traumatic event would be completely counterintuitive.
Conclusion: The Pit was a (Narratively) Good Choice
For the story of the Red Festival to satisfy the audience, they needed to check off these boxes before concluding the streams:
An event involving violence for the catharsis of Wilbur's audience, who had been hyped up.
An event more directly involving Wilbur as a participant, even if he just provoked or instigated something.
An event that showcased what direction Wilbur's character was going, solidifying further conflict, showing what to expect from him, and highlighting how he's changed.
An event that resolved the new conflict between Tommy and Techno, getting them out of their continuous loop of verbal arguments.
And with all of this in perspective, that brings us to the Pit, where Wilbur builds a combat pit for Techno and Tommy to resolve their argument through violence, and he reinforces his character arc to the audience by instigating them. 
Honestly, if the Pit was a spur of the moment improv decision on cc!Wilbur's part, it was fantastic! It managed to check all of the necessary boxes in one fell swoop. It tied everything together in a neat resolution while also hinting at future conflict. It had so much narrative utility and pulled a lot of storytelling weight.
The Pit, narratively speaking, happened because it had to. Because it was a great way of wrapping everything up. Because it brought about a satisfying resolution.
Epilogue: Why Might This Matter on a Character Level?
So, where's what I promised character focused folks? Where's the importance of this on a character level? Simple.
Wilbur's character is a very meta one. His delusions were rooted in viewing life on the smp as a story and his own role as that of a villain. And if cc!Wilbur saw the Pit as a good narrative decision, c!Wilbur might have as well. The character of Wilbur may have seen value in bringing about a traditional story resolution and in reaffirming his role. He may have felt some pressure to commit a villainous act because he felt that's what the "story" required.
That's a bit more on the speculative or headcanon side of things, as there isn't any in-universe dialogue to support it. But I do think it's not entirely baseless. Consider the fact that in this stream Wilbur says "I've invested so much into this now, Tommy." Consider how after this stream, he brings up and then continues to reference Chekov's gun. Consider how this notion, that he's put so much work into and teased blowing the nation up so much that he feels obligated to do it, that he feels a sense of pressure, is one that he expresses. It's not unfamiliar. Based on that, I think that it makes sense that the same could ring true here. I think it makes sense that part of what drives Wilbur to direct the Pit fight is the sense that it's necessary for him as the villain in the story.
In a very interesting turn, the narrative reason for the Pit is also part of the character's motivations for the Pit.
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lyravda · a month ago
Text
SINNER SONATA | taegi
—pairing
kim taehyung x min yoongi
—rating
a glimpse of fluff. angst. mature -not smut-
—cw
mentions of murder, alcohol, suicide, drugs. strangers to lovers. not a warning but many quotes from v for vendetta.
and there can be some mistakes because i didn't do a proper reading after finishing the writing phase and mostly because english isn't my first language so feel free to correct me in a polite way!
—words
nearly 11k
—summary
kim taehyung was daegu's most famous anonymous painter and the most mysterious man. and the only key needed to unlock the buried treasure of this mysterious man was in the pocket of the excited, naive pianist who took over the piano at one of the painter's exhibitions.
stage one | murder
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Dark red bloodstains were adorning his hands, still dripping from the tips of his fingers, accompanying the tears in his eyes. Sharing the solitude of the weak light at the beginning of the street, the young man in the long coat watched the scene in front of him for a while. He carved from the depths of his mind into his heart. He felt the blood from her hands in his veins, her tears from her eyes in his eyes, her screams in his throat. He watched the woman lying on the ground. He took her into his life and left without notice.
He arrived at his garage-style studio which was two blocks away. He was calling here The Studio. His heart would rest in his chest, but it would beat here. He would throw up all his filth, his conscience here.
He took off his long coat and started wrapping a white cloth to his hands. He wrapped the sleeves of his shirt in a sloppy way and sat on his high stool, opposite the blank canvas. He grabbed the palette and prepared the paints and materials. With the same slowness, he got up from his stool and placed a Beethoven record in his gramophone. He started the music and gently took his place back to his stool. While the Moonlight Sonata started with its usual slowness, the young man took some paint on his brush.
For a while, he ran his long fingers over his forehead while he closed his eyes and imagined the woman as if to search his mind. Without opening his eyes, he began to move the brush slowly over the canvas. In the last minutes of the sonata, noticing the teardrops flowing from his eyes, he pulled his hands from his forehead and grasped the palette. He opened his eyes with the new song. The soft and slow strokes from the beginning were replaced by hard and daring ones. He drew all the lines without accepting softening, how much he liked to draw eye fountains sharp as a knife. He closed his eyes again as if he wanted to examine his mind. His hands grasped a new, different brush which he didn't know how many times he had changed it. And he added new strokes; he was gentle like he was holding a baby this time, unlike the strokes from a few minutes ago. He drew the eye fountains, her nose and her irises. He let her messy hair down from her shoulders. The bloodstains were as alive on the canvas as he had seen them. He reflected his own red, swollen eyes on the woman's eyes a little. He painted the rest of the canvas as if to reflect his unscrupulousness. He left the shadows harsh, didn't mercy or soften. Taking his hand off his forehead, he grabbed another brush and left his signature as usual; he blurred his painting, darkened and stained the sides. It was called The Vandal Technique in the community nowadays. He didn't sign an official signature on the painting. He took a step back and looked at his painting. The woman on the canvas was more real than the real one.
He left the painting, put on his coat, didn't bother to clean himself. He passed through the slums and entered his little house on the top floor of the historic building, which gave him the opportunity to watch the whole city. He washed his hands with the liquid sitting on the table at the entrance. He threw away his coat, covered his red and swollen eyes with his hands and walked through to his wall; which led to the balcony, completely covered by windows. He watched the city with his hands on his chest. Daegu wasn't a place to be loved. What kept him here was what he didn't like. Despite this, his soul was nourished from here, from the streets, from its darkness. For example, even just watching the empty city on his balcony until morning was feeding his soul.
Because his soul was as empty as this city, empty because of its fullness, and empty because of what it was full of. It was dirty, lacking conscience and love. Even living was like a stomachache for him. He was living for the sake of Moonlight Sonata, blank canvases and loneliness. The full canvases were full of pain and grief. He was hating full canvases and life.
stage two | lover
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The walls of the old house, which had been tried to be modernized, never got tired of Schubert. The vinyl wouldn't be silent even if the young man was asleep. When he got up, he would love to sober up with Mozart. The piano would come first for him, even before eating, drinking and if it would be possible, breathing. He would play the piano for hours like a crazy person, pressing every key with a lunatic excitement and joy.
It was one of his usual mornings, after a passionate date with his piano, he slowly said goodbye to his darling. He went towards the coffee machine and prepared himself a cup of one of his strongest coffees. He drank his coffee quickly, contrary to his slow movements. He felt that he was all sobered up. He reached his gramophone by following the music that became a part of the house and placed a new vinyl. He placed it gently, the Moonlight Sonata wasn't suitable for the start of the day. But it was very compatible with the young man.
After swaying to the song for a while, he went into his living room and he saw the invitation, laying on the large coffee table. He was invited to the exhibition of the city's most famous painter. His love for art was taking him to the streets, to the people he didn't know; and the young man wasn't complaining about it.
With the invitation in his left hand, he proceeded to his room and quickly got ready for the event. Before leaving, he stopped by his gramophone, running his veiny hands over it, as if stroking a wild cat. He didn't stop the piece, the music had to continue under any circumstances. After all, this house was used to listening to his music even without him.
The exhibition wasn't in a big place. He opened the glass door and entered. He handed the invitation through his leather gloves and took a glass of champagne from the tray that the waiter offered and began his tour. The paintings were in tremendous harmony from afar. Each was embellished with a signature mark. The first painting he encountered was of a boy who was running away. A little boy walking forward, ignoring the objects and papers scattered on the floor. In the second painting, where there was the opportunity to examine without moving, a dead body was depicted. Pale skin, open eyes and expressionless face accompanying the purple lips of the body in the middle of the lake.
The young man moved a few steps away from the painting. There was a sound coming from these paintings; the deep sound of the piano keys pressed angrily and disrespectfully. These paintings were the dark side of art. Für Elise couldn't be heard from these paintings. The fingers of these paintings were playing Bach's Matthaeuspassion. The young man startled. He fell for the Jerusalem syndrome instantly, he felt sacred. He counted here as his shrine, feelings that hadn't seen the daylight appeared in his veins. He went a little further, he was in a position to see the next painting in a few steps. He felt Bach's unique work, which he continued to listen to in his mind, again, to a woman. He looked at the woman in the painting, the painting was coming to life with the woman in it. Bloody hands, face, nose and facial features. She was the only woman who could be more beautiful than a goddess. He felt an awkward warmth in his heart and his mind, this artist's art was so familiar to him. He blended his admiration with his love with respect. With the magic of the moment, he got out of the crowd and progressed to the pianist who played a piece that might have been chosen by the world's most unappealing person. He politely asked for permission, after expressing his astonishment, the pianist, of course, left the piano to the man in front of him. The young man set aside his champagne and quickly ran his right hand over them all before treating the keys. It was a habit, just to feel the piano.
With his fingers, he began to convey what was playing in his mind to the world and people. He pressed the keys as if he was worshipping, and he looked respectfully at his temple as if he was praying. The notes were accompanying the paintings in harmony, as the young man played the piano, he waltzed with the woman on the canvas. Those around would have noticed this passionate man, their eyes were hovering between the paintings and the man. But this passionate man kept his worship short. After five minutes, he bowed respectfully in front of people who were fully focused on him, straightened up and grabbed the champagne glass and toasted. While smiling at people, he noticed the young man in the long coat watching him. He wanted to see the rest of the paintings as soon as possible and meet the painter, which was impossible. But this man made him pause. In his eyes, there was the woman on the canvas and the boy who ran away. The dead body was hidden in his smooth, caramel skin. He changed his direction and walked to the man who didn't take his gaze away from him.
"Your glances are at least as harsh as your woman whose hands are covered in blood, sir. My admiration for your woman is infinite, so it is infinite to you, Mr. ...?"
The man in the long coat didn't miss his eyes and placed a little smile that not everyone can see.
"Your observational ability is admirable, Mr. Min. You can call me Mr. V."
Caramel-skinned man stopped for a moment and came closer to the pianist, and whispered to his ear.
"In the community, they call me Vandal, as you know."
To squeeze the outstretched hand of this gentle, tanned man in front of him, the young man took off his leather glove and grasped the large hand and gently squeezed it while smiling.
"It's a great honor to meet you, Mr. V. If you can spare some of your time to me, I'd love to chat with you."
"Of course, I can give you my time whenever possible, Mr. Min."
The man in the long coat put his hand forward as if to say "Be my guest.", and he proceeded to an empty table with the man next to him.
"I don't know you very much, Mr. V, but the first time I saw your paintings... Forgive me if I can't describe it but I don't know how I can describe it... Your paintings; it's like home, like faith, a holy relic, a temple, like worshipping. I'm not a religious person myself but your woman is Virgin Mary and your dead body is Jesus in the cross. Seeing you is like reading holy books. Standing next to such a great artist is such a feeling."
After the compliments the young man received, he put on his rare smile on his face again. Meeting someone who understands art would bring tremendous pleasure to any artist.
"Every art has a price, Mr. Min, you know. People will become just artists only if people pay the heaviest prices. But people like you and I; we saturate those prices to our art. This is the real art and this is the real artist, Mr. Min. The pleasure you give me by your art and playing the piano is perhaps nothing compared to the compliments you gave me, but you are someone who deserves to be valued and you are the person who is an artist just like you told me. "
After thanking the painter, he took a few sips of his champagne to soak his dried palate. Because talking to the man in front of him was troublesome, it required effort. But this effort was one of the best efforts that could be done. It was like replenishing the blood flowing in his veins, freshening up tears, locking his lips on someone else's lips.
Min Yoongi came out of his trance and asked permission to leave the man he admired. He wanted to go through all the paintings. However, the man in front of him refused his permission, offered to examine the paintings together and to have a coffee after the closing of the exhibition.
"Mr. Min; you can't imagine how long I've been trying to meet you, to match your recital dates and the days I was in town. Please do not withhold the honor of meeting you and your thoughts about my paintings from me. "
The man standing in front of him, the man who was bewitching him in a painful way was begging him to meet him, and this caused Min Yoongi to be astounded. All he can do was accepting this with great enthusiasm.
And after that, they chatted while examining the paintings until the closing time of the exhibition came. His admiration grew more and more every time the young man looked at the paintings, while the painter opposite him, with all his humility, thanking for the compliments and refusing to praise himself.
The exhibition was vacated after one of the staff read a short text that Mr. V had previously sent to be read at the closing.
"When I was an amateur artist, I read something in an exhibition. "You must have chaos to give birth to a dancing star." From that moment on, I sacrificed my life to give birth to that star, my art. My life, my face has become unrecognizable because of the chaos. I became a vandal. A vandal of my life. But this is what we call art. Finding ourselves and losing ourselves at the same time. Death, rebirth through destruction, a second chance. I destroyed myself and gave birth to Vandal. That's why it is unnecessary for you to see my weak body, my vile face. See me in my paintings.
I am grateful to all of you for coming and meeting me through my paintings. I wish you all a good evening.
-Vandal"
Min Yoongi and the young man next to him were walking along the streets, which were lively with the advantage of being on the rich side of the city, with a pleasant and warm conversation.
"Mr. V, why did an attendant read your text for you tonight? Or is nobody known about you, what is the reason for this secrecy?"
The man in the long coat smiled, he would ask these questions to himself at the end of every exhibition, every painting. He knew the answers very well, but could never escape from the questions.
"Mr. Min, I would like to exist just with my art. Only with my art, without my face or body. Being Mr. V is different from being me. Being Mr. V is being my ideas, my pure feelings and thoughts. To be Mr. V is to be what is hidden behind this shell, under this flesh. Successfully concealing my identity, till today, and what I am is only to serve my purpose."
Min Yoongi understood very well what the young man meant, why he was hiding and why he was Mr. V. He smiled and translated what the young man wanted to say into simple words.
"There is a face beneath this mask but it's not me. I'm no more that face than I am the muscles beneath it or the bones beneath them. Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea! And ideas are bulletproof."
Mr. V accompanied the man's smile with a small smile and waited for his words to continue.
"Your opinions and you deserve great respect, Mr. V. And I won't ask you what V is for, but I hope I know very well that V for Vandal, not for Vendetta. Or do you have a vengeance to take from this huge city, this huge world too?"
The caramel-skinned man smiled naively at this question. Pausing for a while in order to build his sentences up, then replied;
"I have a lot of revenge to take from this city and this world, like everyone else. But devoting my art to my fight for revenge would be very personal and it wouldn't suit my form of art. And most importantly; it would be ordinary, to say the least. It must be ironic though, to hear these sentences from someone who devoted his art to destruction."
"No, you are wrong, sir. Revenge and re-creation by destruction are not the same. One is an immature act of succumbing to anger. The other is to give life to a dying life form. Second chance, as you said before."
While the conversation was going on, the two men entered the most sincere place on the street, Min Yoongi slowly took his place at the table by the window while waiting for the sentences from the painter.
"But can't revenge mean a second chance too, Mr. Min?"
"It shouldn't mean that. If you are at risk of being harmed by someone or something and haven't successfully avoided it, you should turn the damage you took into another feeling. If everyone was burned by the fire of vengeance, I'm afraid there would be a great fire in the world and it would never go out."
"Perhaps you are right, Mr. Min."
After the caramel-skinned man answered, they gave their orders to the waiter who came to their table.
"And I can't help but say that I am getting extraordinarily excited about your understanding of the power of words and their underlying meanings, Mr. Min. I can easily say I am a fan. I am delighted to invite, listen and get to know you. It was one of the best decisions I've made in my life."
In response to the words of the perfect man in front of him, a shy smile appeared on his lips and especially in his eyes. Feeling happy and peaceful enough to smile with his eyes wasn't something that happened much in his life.
"That honor belongs to me, Mr. V. Do you mind if I advance the conversation a little bit, get to know you a little more? For example, what do you do during the day?"
The caramel-skinned man smiled again in response to the other's curiosity. This man made him smile a lot today.
"I would be honored to get to know each other a little more. I do what the artists do, neither less nor more. Quality music, an inspiring place. A simple and empty life. How do you spend your days?"
"I spend every free moment of mine to improve myself. I remember playing the piano for days without eating or drinking. I can never be satisfied, we should never be content with less, you know."
"You are even better than perfect, Mr. Min Yoongi. I am not saying you should be as simple as possible or you shouldn't hurt yourself. I can even say that you should hurt yourself as much as you can, art feeds on pain. But you should know how to heal your wounds."
After thanking the waiter for the coffee left on his table, the caramel-skinned man took a sip of his dark coffee and continued;
"Also, your compositions are wonderful. It's like I'm drinking coffee with a modern-day Mozart. Oh, no no; that would be disrespectful. You are the Min Yoongi of old times, sir. It is amazing that you are so original, so welcoming. You aren't like anyone else."
"You are making me embarrassed, Mr. V."
"You shouldn't be. This isn't an exaggeration, this is the place you deserve, Mr. Min. There is no need to be embarrassed. Let's continue our conversation if you want. For example, can I ask if there is someone special in your life? Or would that be so personal?"
Min Yoongi bowed his head a little, more shyly than before, with his shy smile. This question took his mind in other aspects, and these aspects were aspects that every person could think of. He gave his answer to the caramel-skinned man in a perfectly normal manner.
"If there was someone in my life, I guess you would understand that from my compositions. They would be much more emotional and personal than they are right now, Mr. V. I am completely alone, the only love I feel is for art."
"As I guessed, Mr. Min Yoongi. There's no problem being alone with your art because some art forms are too demanding to get another person into their life, like mine."
"Are your people living on your canvases the source of this loneliness or are you directly?"
"Both, this is both a choice and an abandonment."
"But you shouldn't let them make you alone. Falling in love with them shouldn't stop you from falling in love with someone else."
"They aren't the obstacle, Mr. Min, I am the obstacle. I can exist as much as the boundary that my conscience, my emotions draw on me. If I cross that limit, it would be very dangerous."
Both remained silent for a while, both grasping the meanings of the real words hidden behind these words. Mr. V couldn't accept Min Yoongi into his life. But Min Yoongi was ready to take Mr. V into his life.
"Instead of paying the price for your art, why don't you commit it, Mr. V? This is sheer cowardice as opposed to your woman and your existence on the canvas."
"Mr. Min Yoongi, if you wear a mask for a long time, you will forget the person underneath. I exist, just for myself. This existence isn't appropriate for the outside world, this stage is for one person. This is plain cowardice, I will give you that and I am very aware of that. But my hands are tied, you can understand me, right?"
Min Yoongi wanted him to tell rather than understand herself. So he gestured at the man in front of him as if to say "Continue, please."
"Oh, no, you don't understand me. It's okay, I can't explain myself. Rather than not being able to explain, I'm not trying to explain. But let me try with a way we are both familiar; there's a face under this mask, but not mine. The mask I'm hiding behind isn't mine, neither the face under it. I don't belong to myself. Under these circumstances, it isn't possible for me to belong to anyone else. I am a lost prey who doesn't know his hunter, like the people who can't see the painter behind the paintings they see."
Mr. V politely asked permission to leave after his words but left waiting for an answer from Min Yoongi. Min Yoongi stared at the void the caramel-skinned man created in front of him for a while. But he couldn't miss the opportunity of his life. He got up from the table, moved heavily to the door, and left. Increasing his speed, he proceeded to the unfrequented street that Mr. V had entered. He entered the street illuminated with a single light source and followed the young man for a while.
"Mr. Min, tonight must have ended at that table. Please understand me."
"Before this night ends, I have things to say, Mr. V. If you don't even belong to yourself, you can be someone else's. In these circumstances, you can brush a stroke to your obstacles with your strongest brush. Mr. V, you can give up without giving up."
Mr. V stopped. He paused, listened and watched the rain that began to rain gracefully. Neither of them moved, neither of them spoke. They didn't speak until the rain got heavy.
"God is in the rain."
Min Yoongi smiled in spite of the other's sentence. He went through his plan he had in mind before reaching his side. When he reached him, he whispered, blowing his hot breath into the other's neck before leaving.
"God is in the rain."
stage three | recital
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Min Yoongi got dressed as he decided to continue his rehearsal for his recital, which will begin 4 hours later, in the hall and threw himself into the first taxi he found. His house, which always embraced him, strangled him so much that he had to change places immediately. Even during his short taxi ride, his hands didn't stop, he moved his fingers as if he had a piano in front of him. Unlike his other recitals, this one was very special to him. Because this time there was someone he wanted to amongst the audience, Mr. V. And even the possibility that he will be there was giving him a stomachache, a painful one.
He had a hard time sending the invitation, he had neither an address nor a name. There was no one working for him either. So he reached the owner of the gallery where he had his last exhibition and begged the man to deliver the invitation to Mr.V. And not knowing whether the invitation had reached him was also giving him a stomachache, an even more painful one.
Though he was torn between sending the invitation or not, he had quarreled with himself many times. The last time he saw him, Mr. V had made it clear that it should have been their last meeting, but the last moment they spent gave him little hope. Still, Min Yoongi couldn't feel this hope. The stress that recital and Mr. V gave him was resetting every positive emotion that remained.
But since their last meeting, the caramel-skinned man hadn't been out of his mind for 3 months. On the one hand, Vandal was yelling and getting angry at him but on the other hand, he was kissing, holding him like lovers do, motivating him for playing the piano better at the same time.
He was dreaming a lot about him. Maybe this wasn't good for his mental health and heart, but to be honest, his dreams had contributed a lot to his art. He carefully processed the fragility, pain and emptiness of love into his compositions. Even the way he played the piano had changed, the way he played before seemed insensitive and mediocre to him. He was now touching his piano as if he were touching his lover, gently stroking and loving him.
Just as Mr. V had told him, he had inflicted so much pain on himself. But he also managed to heal his wounds, with his art.
When he got out of the taxi, he ignored his crew who were trying to talk to him, sat directly at the piano in the middle of the stage and played all the compositions he was going to perform tonight.
And of course, that 4 hours passed quickly. But the passionate pianist didn't even notice. His manager dragged Min Yoongi from the stage to the backstage seconds before the audience filled the hall. His crew managed to dress him up and finish his makeup just right on time. After the opening speech was made by a staff member, the pianist slowly entered his stage and greeted his audience and took over his piano.
He studied the people in the room as quickly as he could, before he started playing his first piece. He couldn't see clearly the face he was expecting, but there was a silhouette resembling Mr. V on the balcony.
Trying not to get too excited because of the thought he came, he took a deep breath and started playing his piece.
Just like in the rehearsal, the hours had passed quickly and it was time for the last piece. For the sake of the night he met his love, and hoping that he would remember it too, he played his composition he played in the exhibition. Little did he knew, Vandal wasn't a person who would forget something such beautiful.
After saluting to his audience for the last time tonight, he got out of the stage to his backstage and the hard part of the night was about the begun. Waiting for him.
To distract himself, he first took off his clothes and wore his casual clothes, then removed his makeup. After pouring himself a glass of wine, he began to read the cards on flowers sent to his backstage.
All were very sweet and heartfelt congratulations. He was especially touched when he read the note his mother sent she couldn't make it to this recital. After putting all the flowers aside, he was attracted by a single, red rose with a small piece of paper on it.
""Rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul." said Plato once. Then your art has traveled so deep into my soul that I feel like my soul belongs to you and only you.
V."
So he came. He even sent him a note. This sparked even greater hope and excitement in Min Yoongi. But he was nowhere to be found. He needed to see him and he even felt like he was burning to see him. And if Vandal isn't going to come to him, he will crawl to him; he would even fall at his feet and beg to deliver his soul to him.
Just as he was about to get up and go to find his love, his door was knocked. He felt it, it was him.
"Mr. V?" he called into the void. The person behind the door entered the room without answering. It was him, it eas him flesh and bone. It wasn't a dream and he wasn't a vision. He came for him.
"Mr. V."
The man's name fell from his lips like a prayer.
"Mr. Min."
He responded to the pianist with his cunning and somewhat malicious tone of voice.
"I wasn't expecting you to come." With the excitement of seeing the man he loves in front of him, and somehow with fear, he could barely let go of his breath and say a few words.
"No, you were, Mr. Min. If you didn't expect for me to come, you wouldn't consider sending the invitation, nor would you make an effort to deliver that invitation to an anonymous man."
Mr. V was more than confident and flirty tonight compared to the night they first met.
And that filled Min Yoongi with a desire to do things he shouldn't do. Like pushing him against the wall and kissing him until his lips bleed. But of course, he wasn't gonna do that, everything had a time, after all.
Yoongi also gained a glimpse of fake confidence in his own eyes after Mr. V's attitude. Since Mr. V didn't know it was fake, it would be easy for him to fake it and stand self-assured.
"All I wanted to do is to host you in my own comfort zone. After all, you had the advantage the night we met, we were in your nature. And you were an anonymous man, it was much easier for you to observe and blend in and escape. Now you are in my nature, in my temple. An unfamiliar place with rules and its god aren't familiar to you. But compared to you, I shined with all my confidence and god complex in the spotlight. Maybe running away wasn't an option for me but, come on. Which fool would want to escape the gaze and applause of those mesmerized mortals?"
"Finally a worthy opponent." Vandal thought to himself, but still didn't want to get caught up in the man in front of him. His only purpose in coming here was; not to turn down the invitation and to congratulate him. At least he was thinking like that.
"I'll give you credit, Mr. Min, because you are right. As I said before, not having a face is part of my job. But you, you should shine with that beautiful face at least as much as you shine with your art. And, I didn't like to see that arrogant manner of yours. It doesn't suit a person like you."
Min Yoongi, who knew that he had been caught, smiled embarrassedly. But just for a second. He wanted to stand strong and compete with the strength of the man before him.
"Maybe, but God, don't we all love to taste this arrogance, Mr. V? Feeling that we are a god? No, not feeling, but realizing? Then there is a deep collapse and fall. And again, god. Aren't we all stuck in this loop? In this way, we find ourselves, whip ourselves, and rise. You told me that the way to improve is to kill yourself, to be a vandal. This is what I do too, to feel the spotlight even if I leave the stage."
"So live your own god as long as you want, Mr. Min. But in silence. Because this world is full of people who will treat you as if you are what you aren't. Live your god against those who tell you that you are not a god or not good, against those who do evil to you, against those who want to stab you, want you dead. Show them that you are more alive than ever before, that you are power in flesh and blood. Do you know what I would say to these people? A knife to everyone who created me, the same knife to everyone who tried to stab me."
"A knife to everyone who created me, the same knife to everyone who tried to stab me."
Min Yoongi repeated his last sentence, and after that, they shared a smile.
A smile that resembles the uniting of power with strength. The piano with the canvas. Their hands. Their lips.
At that moment, they shared their first kiss and left the hall together.
stage four | lovers
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"It's my home. I call it the Shadow Gallery."
Min Yoongi smiled as he inspected the young man's house.
"I'm jealous of your love for Vendetta."
"Vendetta is just an idea, an ideology, an idol. It's just an idea, and I have a lot of respect for it. That's just what it is."
The young man dropped his key on the table at the entrance and took off his coat. He took Min Yoongi's long coat and leather gloves and gently placed them aside with his own. While Min Yoongi was looking around, he picked a vinyl and placed it on the gramophone. Luckily, the song Min Yoongi played tonight and the night they first met was starting to echo in every corner of the house. They looked at each other and smiled gently. The dark-skinned man walked towards his kitchen and poured two glasses of wine. He handed one of them to the other and took the other into his own hands. They walked in front of the tall wide window. They stood side by side and watched the rain for a while.
"All my wires are in your hands, Mr. Min. I can't believe you've changed my life with your words and your compositions in two nights."
"Can we accept this as a revolution then, Mr. V?"
He approved the young man with his sneaky smile that made it clear that he understood the next move. Min Yoongi walked alongside his vinyl collection. He chose a beautiful piece and changed the vinyl.
"A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having!"
"My name is Kim Taehyung. Without any fear, all my doors are open to you tonight, Min Yoongi."
Min Yoongi smiled and tilted her head to one side.
"I'd be honored."
With Vivaldi's Four Seasons, they started swaying and dancing like they would never get tired of each other's presence.
As morning fell, they became each other's. They didn't sleep until dawn. They got to know their bodies and each other. Masks and cards were opened forever, inevitably.
"My love, I'm home."
Min Yoongi entered the most peaceful house in the historic building and dropped the keys on the table at the entrance. He took off his coat and his leather gloves and hung it on a hanger and looked around the rooms, he couldn't find Taehyung.
After that night, they wouldn't be able to be away from each other, but rather bonded to each other with much more ties. They had survived a winter together, they were considered to have lived together for four months now. Min Yoongi was still going to his old house, Kim Taehyung wasn't coming home some days and he was spending his days in the studio. Even with the masks and cards uncovered, Kim Taehyung still kept his art to himself. He was still watching people, he was silencing his conscience and not helping anyone. And because of that, he had a hard time getting used to Min Yoongi at the beginning.
He was worried that their lives would get mixed up more than they should be, but their love had destroyed all worries and made both of them blind. Kim Taehyung still wasn't used to it, but he was in love with his lover way too much to feel it. And he was aware of this and afraid that this love would become his weakness. He was afraid of the day he needs to choose between the cost of his art and his love. He was wanting that day to never come. He wouldn't be able to perform his art without the price, therefore he wouldn't exist. But Min Yoongi bewitched him so much in just four months that he didn't think he would exist without him too.
Min Yoongi sat on the chair of the piano that Kim Taehyung bought him to play in this house. He wanted to take this opportunity while his beloved wasn't at home for working on his new composition.
He shuffled his papers, when he found the correct page, he ran his hands over the piano before playing. Even though he knew there was no need to look, he closed his eyes, ignoring the page he opened. He hadn't heard of his lover's arrival as his hands slid skillfully over the keys. Without a sound, Kim Taehyung leaned against the column and watched him. His face reflecting the pleasure he received while playing the piano, his lips moving passionately and his eyelashes, eyebrows... It was impossible not to admire his lover, his home, and of course his art.
He walked quietly and leaned against the piano. Up close this sight was much more perfect. But the young man hesitated, seeming to have trouble remembering the notes. He put his left hand to his forehead. This was a habit he had acquired after Taehyung.
He opened his eyes slowly, without noticing his lover, he immediately looked at his papers. Instead of continuing to play the notes he couldn't remember, he took the pen right next to his hand and drew different notes. The moment he set aside the papers and got up, he noticed the man who was looking at him with admiration.
"Darling, why didn't you make a sound? It was a special piece and you shouldn't have heard it."
"I heard it now, and I am very pleased with it. I am also very glad to meet such a wonderful man like you."
The dark-skinned man walked over to his lover and left a French kiss on his lips.
"Tonight must be a repeat of the history."
Kim Taehyung stroked the young man's cheek and proceeded to his gramophone. He took the record Min Yoongi had chosen on his first night out and placed it with the same care he had shown. Min Yoongi understood and got into his role.
"Should I say my line, Mr. V?"
"History repeats itself, Mr. Min Yoongi, but never with the same way. And tonight is my turn."
He moved over to his lover and grabbed his beautiful hands.
"There are 872 songs on here. I've listened to them all... but I've never danced to any of them. Will you dance with me?"
Accompanied by a smile, Min Yoongi took the step that started the dance as soon as the music started.
"To be with you, to change with you, to make love to you, to love you and to kiss you... You are a glorious person, Mr. V. I acknowledge your beating heart as my own temple, I only can be his and I only worship him."
Kim Taehyung continued the move with the same slowness and took the control of both bodies.
"Your temple is my heart, but I can never be your god, Mr. Min Yoongi. My scripture is your words, and all seven sins are in your skin. I obey the Ten Commandments only when you say them. But you are forbidden to me because I have committed all sins in all religions. Can a sinner cleanse himself with your tears?"
"My tears are insufficient for this, we must both bathe in God's rains so that we can be clean. Because as you know, God is in the rain. But it's not a problem even if there are no rains, God is in art and in waltz too."
"Percussion instruments are my specialty, but I intend to use the whole orchestra tonight. I would be honored if you join me."
"But be patient, this music will play for us and I dedicate this concerto to my days without you, and of course to sinners who think they are innocent."
When the music stopped and a new track started, the steps also stopped. The passionate eyes wanted to meet. Kim Taehyung forgot what he saw that night. He was in the need of making love with Min Yoongi in the sea of sins. And that was what he was gonna do until the morning fell.
stage five | murderer
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Min Yoongi was sitting alone in the dark at his lover's house, with his red wine and his anxiety as well. It had been a year since he met the most magnificent and precious person in his life. They were both busy these days, Kim Taehyung was out abroad, and he was busy with his new project. But they both spoke in advance and agreed that they would spend the night together at the place they went to a year ago. There was no trace of Kim Taehyung at his home, at Min Yoongi's house, or the venue. For the last two months he hadn't been coming home properly, he was pale, sad, and tired. It wasn't about his job, it was obvious, but he never said a word. He was neither talking about this subject nor talking to his beloved at all. He wasn't even quoting V, that was alarming.
Min Yoongi stood up in a hurry from the hard seat. He put on his thick coat. He moved forward, taking the risk of getting lost in the unfrequented streets, he had to pull his lover out of this depression.
After an hour, he had finally found that mysterious place; Kim Taehyung's studio. The door was open, whereas the young man was very careful about these matters. There was no way it could remain open. Knowing this, Min Yoongi entered in fear but quietly. At the other end of the studio, everywhere was pitch black except for the dim light burning above his lover. The young man, being careful not to crush anything and make a noise, moved over to his lover.
The dim light shone so beautifully on his skin; for a moment his eyes filled with tears with the intensity of the emotions he felt. His lover's hands were wrapped in white bandages, the fingers of his left hand running across his forehead. The paint he took from the palette was scattered chaotically on his brush. The canvas wasn't completely full, but it wasn't considered empty either. There was a man hanging on a rope, committed suicide. He was pale, too real to be on the canvas, more real than any other painting.
Min Yoongi felt the man on the canvas right up to his heartbeat before he died. This feeling was new, but he wasn't surprised by the drawing. Kim Taehyung was always painting the pain and the death. But he himself wouldn't die with them either, he wouldn't fall that deep.
"Taehyung, my love. I'm here."
The young man approached his lover and hugged him. Kim Taehyung's hands had found the young man's. It was obvious from every state that he was tired, he was broken. He rested his head on his lover's abdomen.
"Why did you come?"
"Because you're dying before my eyes and you are doing it alone, you aren't letting me die with you."
"Your love is so pure, you are so pure and perfect; I feel like killing myself, Yoongi. I can't stand it anymore."
Min Yoongi grasped his lover's face with his hands. He stroked the face between his fingers and slowly locked his lips with his own.
"I beg you tell me."
"I'll tell you tonight, just let me hold you."
The tired man held his lover. With joy and sorrow, with pain and longing, as if it was the day of salvation. But Min Yoongi kept the hug short and immediately fell into the chair diagonally. He was waiting for his lover to talk to him.
"I have never seen this world change for the better. I just tried to change my own world for the better. It was my innocent, naive times. I was in my early twenties, I called myself an artist now. I was an artist, I was moving with my feelings and drawing. I was free. I had something that anyone in the world would want, freedom. I was drawing, but everything was empty. My paintings were half. I was an empty, shallow person. You wouldn't believe how hard I worked to fill the void in me, find inspiration, nor what I tried to find my inspiration in. I tried so many drugs, I gave myself to alcohol. You know what it means to be addicted to alcohol and drugs at the same time, Yoongi? It was worse than dying. I destroyed my brain. There was nothing left in me. I even needed my inspiration from my early days, which I thought I didn't have before. I went to the hospital and received treatment. I destroyed my life for inspiration and stole months from my life. I needed to fix that. But I hadn't learned my lesson, I had to reclaim the months I stole and my brain back. You wouldn't believe the money I spent on new brushes, materials and teachers. But there was no inspiration. Nothing was lighting up in that stupid, damned, damaged brain. Then something happened. It was a stormy night, I made up my mind and destroyed what was left of Kim Taehyung. In that storm, I went out and got wet in the rain. I was prepared as if calling my sins. That night I-... "
The caramel-skinned man had shed so many tears and sobbed without noticing that his lover was crumbling as he listened and couldn't help him. But he had to hear and heal his wounds. He waited for him to recover.
"I killed an innocent young man that night, Yoongi. He was my age, he had a backpack on his back. He was coming from the side where the library was, he was obviously going home after studying. He was reading a book even in the rain. He was wet, but he was looking at his book so diligently... I approached him from behind quietly, put the knife in my hand against his throat and cut his jugular vein in one move. He died right before my eyes, understanding nothing and with the least pain he could suffer. That night, I waited by his body until morning and when morning fell, I hid in my studio. I lived a street away from his body for two days. I left him in an unfrequented place, two days later people found him on the street. I went to his funeral, I watched his mother's pleading, his father's tears shed in silence. I learned that he was two years younger than me. He was the most successful student in his school, he was preparing for university. I learned that he wanted to be a doctor, maybe if he was a doctor, he would know how to stop his bleeding as soon as I cut his throat. I would be in prison now probably, maybe he wouldn't have died if he was a doctor. Maybe Kim Taehyung wouldn't die either. At his funeral; I haven't heard any bad word about him. His name was Jeon Jungkook. Every day, regardless of the hour, I went to his grave. I brought purple hyacinths to his grave every time I went to his tomb. Did you know that purple hyacinths mean regret? I learned that while I was buying flowers for him. I prayed for him to forgive me every time I go. There were so many purple hyacinths on his tomb that you can't even guess how many. They are probably still there, I'm still going without your knowledge, secretly. However, after that day my conscience was never silent, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat. I was missing the days where I was drawing with no inspiration. I, a person who is living to draw, was afraid of canvases. Six months after he died, I picked up the brush and painted that image that didn't go out of my head. My drawing was so perfect that I cried and apologized and begged forgiveness thousands of times every time I saw the painting. I wasn't able to see the painting anymore. I reorganized the studio and locked it so that no one could find the painting, including me. I immediately moved to the house where I live now. My pain was never gone, but my feelings disappeared. Actually, at that time I thought it was pain, too. All I knew was pain, pain enveloped my world, even my breathing was painful. And then something happened... I became V, who draws people in pain instead of helping them. Who draws people dead instead of letting them live. A murderer. "
Min Yoongi began to accompany his tears as words poured out of the mouth of the man he loved. He was shocked. The things he had learned were too much for him. He got up from the stool and walked to a far corner. He pulled his hair and screamed. The screams and the sounds of the crumbling objects mixed together.
"I, I can't believe that, Taehyung. The creation of the man I envied and watched with admiration wasn't a metaphor, huh? You were telling me about killing a child, a child for fuck' sake, not yourself, Taehyung? How can you live this way? How can you still hold a brush with the blood of dozens of people? I'm not gonna believe that actually happened. Please, I beg you to tell me you're lying right now."
Yoongi was crying so painfully and deeply that Taehyung felt like he was dying inside. He wanted to go and hold him. He got up but Yoongi quickly turned to him and he raised his hand as if to say "Don't.". The look in Yoongi's eyes was so full of anger, shock, disappointment and pain that Taehyung wanted to be dead at that moment. So he settled for where he was and kneeled.
"After a while, it seemed so normal that I started to think I was doing them a favor, Yoongi. But that was before you, I beg to you, forgive me."
"A favor, Taehyung. A favor? Are you hearing yourself, you fucking murderer?"
At that moment, the word murderer felt so heavy on Taehyung that it felt as if he had never heard it before. This word had never been said to him before. He had never thought of the possibility that the man he loves could see him as a monster because he had never thought of himself as a murderer before.
Yoongi shook his head in disapproval. And while he was smiling ironically, quoted V for Vendetta;
"And thus you clothe your naked villainy. With old odd ends stolen forth from holy writ. And seem a saint when most you play the devil."
And Taehyung, surprisingly played along with the game and he felt cruel for that.
"Have mercy, please."
"Not tonight, Mr. V, not tonight. I'm not gonna play your game, tonight."
"Yoongi, he's not me. The man you are talking to is not the murderer of Jeon Jungkook. Nobody can escape from their past, darling. I can't change that, I can't help you but I can love you. But if you love me too, it changes me, it helps me."
"I've changed my mind. We'll play with you one last time, Taehyung. My love; it makes you live but it kills me. Don't send me to death alone. Last time, tell me. Who, who are you?"
"Who am I according to what? According to the mask or according to the me in me? I am a masked man."
"I can see that and it hurts me."
"Of course you can. I'm not questioning your powers of observation; I'm merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is."
"Why did you do it?" asked Yoongi while he was trying to hold his tears. He was too tired to shed any more tears.
"Because I thought it was to be born again."
"Was his life just a symbol to you? Are you that cruel?"
There was no emotion in Taehyung's tone and ironically, Yoongi's voice was trembling.
"We are the ones who give meaning to symbols, they alone are meaningless, and killing him could change the world."
"So has it changed while his family's was tearing apart?"
"Yes, mine had. But people's lives changed as long as the prime time."
"And his family's life forever. Taehyung, you're so cruel but you're looking at me in a way that no one looked before. I'm full of rage but even now, I can feel the warmth of your love through your eyes. I don't know what to do. My love for you is fighting with my humanity. And the human that existed in me before you is dead. I cannot go further than you but I can't stay with you either. Every second I want to pull you out of from this depression, I find myself next to you."
"My love, forgive me. Forgive me in a way that God won't forgive so that we will go to your paradise together. Forgiveness is the revenge of good people. Forgive me as if you take revenge."
Yoongi let his humanity lose that night. He forgave him. He was gonna think too much about this and while Taehyung was going better, he was gonna suffer in hell. But Taehyung, the possibility that Taehyung had changed was more important than anything else.
"Tonight I'm freeing both of us, I'm ready for your hell. Otherwise, I won't be able to bear you and your murderousness for a second more."
"It doesn't matter, don't resist anything. Know that I don't resist anymore, either. Now it's all yours. We belong together, now."
After letting his humanity lose, he needed time to think. He didn't want Taehyung to feel the comfort of being forgiven.
"No, Taehyung. We don't. You belong to the hell of the great gods. You don't deserve my hell."
After his last word, the young man had left the studio.
stage six | a fine end
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Taehyung folded the yellowed paper in his hand and put it on the piano. Everything was as in the painting, for the first time everything was perfect on its own. Even if they had dozens of arguments and reconciliations, even if his lover forgives him; Taehyung could no longer forgive herself. He couldn't forgive himself because his lover had forgiven him. This was making his heart ache. It seemed cruel to him to darken the life, heart and mind of such a perfect, compassionate person. And he didn't want to be cruel anymore. He didn't want to be Vandal anymore.
Kim Taehyung already killed himself that night, when he walked into the studio. He just waited another year for his lover to understand him. One more year for his lover to get better. Taehyung had seen Yoongi's closest moment to death in that year. Taehyung was dead once more at that moment. He had tried to fix Yoongi as best he could, as Yoongi fixed him. He had a single mission to eradicate every problem he had dealt with because of Taehyung. And finally Taehyung realized that the problem was himself and only himself.
He put on the shiny golden nightgown that Min Yoongi was loving on him. Apart from that, he was wearing only underwear. He studied himself in the mirror. He saw the ideas in his eyes. He saw the quilt, his screams for salvation. He saw the sudden death, sadness. He saw Jeon Jungkook, he saw his dead woman, he saw all the people he killed.
"If you feel guilty when you look in the mirror, you have learned the truth."
His lover quoted this to him that night they talked after the confession. When he arrived at their house, he waited for Yoongi to come. And after two days, Yoongi came home. Dirty, wasted, sick. The first thing his lover did was hugging him. On the one hand, his lover was burning with the pain and disgust of touching and looking at him, and on the other, he was burning with the hunger of touch him. His lover shared all his feelings with him, he gave him his innocence.
How right he was, the truths were masters of catching the criminal. Thousands of innocent people burdened the young man's shoulders, including Min Yoongi and Jeon Jungkook. He lowered them slowly from his shoulder, those loads must have stayed in this world, they couldn't come with Kim Taehyung.
Kim Taehyung was happy now. He was going to the place he deserves; to the hell of the great gods. He was finally running away from behind his own masks. He was able to acknowledge every facial feature he ever had. His cheekbones, jawline, lips. His eyes were shining like diamonds. In that eyes, there was eternal freedom, there was pure truth.
He went into the empty room, he loved everything in their simplest form. He wanted a simple death, got on the chair. He put the rope around his neck and pushed the chair. Everything was like the painting, the young man gasped. His caramel skin turned white. He died, no more or less. He committed suicide, without pity or indecision.
Hours later, Min Yoongi entered the house. In his hand, there was a huge bouquet of Taehyung's favorite flowers; camellia and freesia. He also bought a box of pizza and a fine wine. He was also going to cook for his lover, he was very excited. He left his paper bags in the kitchen. He wanted to tidy up before Taehyung arrives home so he was on his way to the living room but before that, he saw the paper on the piano. He opened the old paper curiously and started reading.
"My darling,
I have personally witnessed the power of ideas. I've seen people killed in the name of ideas and die defending ideas. However, you cannot kiss, touch or hold an idea. Ideas don't bleed, they don't feel pain. They don't fall in love ...
But I loved you, fell in love with you, changed with you and grew up with you. Crying with you, kissing and touching you was the best thing I have ever experienced in my life.
My love, I killed myself a year ago. The moment you set me free, I died. I died belonging to you, with you and beside you. The last year we lived was for you. I couldn't just do this to you. After that night, I couldn't leave without seeing you were okay. I couldn't leave before I see that you understand my ideas, motives, and, of course, I couldn't leave before seeing you forgive me. Forgive me again my love, set me free again.
Politicians lie to cover the truth, artists lie to show the truth. I lied to keep you alive. I was so tiny before your innocence and love, after seeing you I said that I can no longer live. After seeing such a beautiful person, I realized that I didn't deserve to live. You dazzled my eyes. The day we met was no coincidence. God sent you to open my eyes, I am grateful to him for that.
My beautiful, endless paradise. My garden of roses, my beating heart while I was still alive. Stay worthy to live, stay as you are. I love you, don't forget that.
Yours forever and more, Kim Taehyung."
As soon as Yoongi threw the paper, he rushed into their bedroom, their shrine. As he saw Taehyung hanging on the rope on the ceiling, he released all his tears that were already ready to flow. He tried to prevent his hiccups by closing his hand over his mouth, but it wasn't possible. He quickly climbed to their sacred bed and freed Taehyung from the rope, and hugged his dead lover who had collapsed on the bed. He held and didn't leave his lover's body all night.
Min Yoongi moved to the podium in the church in cold blood. Journalists, fans and the whole world; all of them were here for the funeral of Mr. V aka Vandal, and they were weeping for him. Min Yoongi has managed to hide his lover's true identity despite anyone competing for this piece of information that was newsworthy. Taehyung would have wanted it to be the same. Except for this secrecy sensitivity, Min Yoongi didn't care about anyone, he was just suffering from his pain. In the heaviest way.
"I am Min Yoongi.
I was the lover of Mr. V.
Well, who was he? He was Edmon Dantes. He was my father and my mother. He was my brother. He was my friend. He was you, he was me. He was all of us. Nobody will forget what he gave birth to. I will never forget that man and what he means to me.
I remember having just two options when I first saw him, being with him or dying. And through our relationship, I felt the same. I have never seen anything as perfect as him before. The way he whispered to me that he loved me, it was ethereal. And I fell for him. I fell hard. I fell into a love that became a home for me. He was home, he was family, he was peace and trust. Because no matter what, nothing could be as bad as today. Because we had each other, I had him.
But if he loved me he would have to go, leave me. And although he knew this, he loved me. He loved me tougher and more delicate at the same time than anyone ever could. He showed me hell, he showed me paradise. He took me both. He even turned hell into paradise, just for me. But he couldn't escape from hell. While I was happily running in the gardens of Eden, he was dying and I was so stupid not to understand it. But he kept it very well hidden from me. In fact, he didn't even bother to hide it; because every time he looked at me, he would look at me so beautifully that you would think he was coming to life again, not dying.
I love you more than my blind, odd heart and damaged brain can ever love."
After finishing his words, he whispered another sentence to himself;
"There is only one judgment to be made Kim Taehyung and it is you."
And Min Yoongi obeyed V's judgment. A year later, he hung himself in front of Mr. V's painting of Jeon Jungkook and Kim Taehyung as if he pays them a moment of silence. Although he couldn't leave a painting like Kim Taehyung, he composed a three-part composition and named it "Sinner Sonata", with thousands of remaining compositions.
—special warning
thank you for reading my story but please don't romanticize murder and murderer in the comments/notes section. it's a sensitive topic and I think everyone should feel the same way. thank you for your understanding.
have a good day and good night.
-lyra
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anonymousuno · 2 months ago
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Stages of Grief: Denial
Jane is having trouble grasping her father is gone
A/N: the next four or five posts for Jane will be her working through the stages of grief; this is centered around the loss of a loved one/parent; if this is triggering for you, please do not read; these posts might be shorter than normal
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The first week or two after the funeral, all the boys were worried.  Jane had barely spoken to anyone or left the dorm.  She was constantly on her phone, sometimes just staring at it.  She was making phone calls every now and then but whoever she was calling never answered or called back.
 Hyungwon found her one morning, sitting on the couch and staring at her phone, leg bouncing up and down. He sighed, sitting next to her.  “Who’s supposed to be calling?”  He asked and Jane sighed.  “My dad usually calls around this time.  He has to call.  Maybe I should call him.”
Hyungwon felt his heart break for the girl.  Everything was coming together now.  She was hoping for her father to call at his normal times and when he didn’t, she would call him.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t going to get an answer or a call back.  Hyungwon gently grabbed her phone out of her hands.
 “He’s not going to be calling, YunJae,” he murmured.  She shook her head, trying to grab her phone back.  “No, he will.  He always calls at this time.  He’ll call. He has to call.”  Her eyes welled up with tears and Hyungwon sighed again, placing the phone in his pocket so she couldn’t grab it.
 He wrapped his arms around her as she started crying.  “He’s going to call.  Any minute now.  He has too, Hyungwon.  He has to call.”  Hyungwon felt his own eyes burn with tears as he squeezed her tighter.  Jane was never one to be cuddly or offer skinship, but these past few weeks she had been letting anyone hold her and comfort her. Hyungwon was just glad that she wasn’t completely closing herself off.
 However, it was abundantly clear to him that at the moment, Jane was in a state of denial that her father was gone.  That he wasn’t going to call or message her.  That he wasn’t going to be at the house if she went there.  That he wasn’t going to answer her calls to him.  He knew this was a process; he just wished he could help her through it quicker.
 It didn’t matter what was going on in his life right now.  All that mattered was making sure that this didn’t consume Jane.  That she didn’t let this eat away at her and stop doing the things she loves.  He kissed the top of her head as she balled his shirt up.  “He has to call Hyungwon.  He has too.  I need him too,” she sobbed and he sighed again, rocking her back and forth.
 “I know, baby, I know. But that won’t be today.”  She let out another sob and Hyungwon was at a loss. He didn’t want to play into the denial; he didn’t want to give her the false hope even if she knew it was false hope. But god, did he hate hearing her sob like this.  It was heart wrenching.  “He’s not ever going to call!  He’s never going to answer!”  She shouted.
 Hyungwon felt relief at that statement.  Relief that she was slowly moving her brain to understanding that her father was gone and not painting a false reality.  “I know, I know.  I’m sorry, YunJae, I’m sorry.  I’ve got you. I’ve always got you.”  He said as she cried more.  Eventually, she cried herself to sleep.  But Hyungwon didn’t let her go.
 He wasn’t going to.
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simeonsclavicle · 2 months ago
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Little Games
spy au spy au spy au spy au
brain go brrr, I slammed this out in thirty minutes. COCKY gn!reader. Definitely talks too much and likes themselves a little too much. Enjoy!
-
Being a cocky little shit was your strong suit, and as you flipped the dagger through your fingers with ease you merely leaned back in the chair. So many eyes watching you! How fun~
Sure being an ex spy from an enemy organization is what landed you in this situation, but you were an ex spy for a reason! You were looking for work, and as you put your legs up on the round glass desk, eyeing the men and uh, child, around it. You soaked in just how much your appearance was a shock to them. It was the pale man with white hair who made a move first, a rather concerning hum.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen. Please!” The hilt of your blade in your hand as you let your arms fall open casually. “I know, I got past your super secret library fake book door. Seriously, change the books, by the way. But I’ve come to help!” Oh it absolutely lit up your core to see the glares, the confusion, the- was the strawberry blond checking you out? You winked at him.
“I’m sorry and who are you?” Oh he definitely knew, you knew he knew, and he knew you knew he knew. But the black haired man did not back down, arms crossing over his chest, red eyes trained on you like daggers. The man at the head of the table looked away from you for only a moment to look at the man standing beside him, but his golden gaze returned to you soon after.
“Oh me? I’m about to become your very best friend.” Your legs were removed from the table, in favour of leaning forwards with a cheeky smile. You watched as he moved to open his mouth again but the tilt of your head and the quirk of your lip and he narrowed his eyes instead. “Truly, I’m just here to help. No strings at all. The last place became a bit of a bore, really..” You flipped the blade in your hand again.
“We don’t need a new member.” Ah the one with dark blue hair and white, he looked tired, maybe needed a nap, is that why he was so cranky? Because he needed a nap? You expected that from the child sitting approximately five feet away from you, but nevermind the semantics. You hummed, nodding your head slowly, but your smirk remained.
“Right none of you actually outright murder though. I mean you’ve got lime green boy over here who makes it look accidental and all that.” Your blade went into the scabbard on your hip, no more games. “You’re good, really. I admire your work. But it is boring.” You watched him scoff, averting his green gaze. The man in red, how gaudy, opened his mouth to speak but you spoke over him. Cocky, again, your whole personality. It had to be!
“Did you see those assholes in Russia? Polonium everywhere. You need a little pizzazz-”
“We don’t need pizzazz.”
“Okay, grouchy. Ya do.”
“Actually I like them, can we keep them?” The originally cranky one was on your side now, and that had the one with orange hair agreeing. Nice two for.. Ah shit you forgot to count, hold on.. Two out of twelve, ten more to go! What a small team.. These must be the head guys, but why the hell was there a child here..?
“They’ve shown great promise given they got through about fifteen different defenses just to steal Diavolo’s chair.” The man with the dark skin and really nice hair was more than amused by the situation. You turned in the big red wheely chair, giving him your best smile. The man with black hair sighed, but he was nudged gently by the man with red hair, maybe he was Diavolo? He did sit at the head.. Was there something more there though? You wanted to get hired just to find out.
The man with pale skin and white hair looked up from his phone. “It would seem they did leave the other organization. You’re a mercenary for hire now, correct?” He was quick! That was kinda hot actually.. Wow. But you eagerly nodded, sitting up a little straighter you clasped your hands on the glass table in front of you, eyes scanning the face of each and every person in the room besides you. So much to read, so much to learn.
“What’s your portfolio?” The man in red questioned, the man with the black hair momentarily looking like he just got betrayed. You hummed, pulling a file from your big coat, sliding it dramatically across the table. Pizzazz! It was pretty gruesome, you decided to instead inspect the room you were in. The room was dark, with just one big window behind you. Then again it was also hidden in a library of all places..
The blond with the ugly jacket was the one that recognized the photos first, all but pushing one of the other men, the tall lanky one with purple hair, out of the way just to get a closer look. He looked from the photos to you and then back at the photos and back. You smiled sympathetically. Haha they thought he was scary.
You were ruthless.
“No, I agree, let’s trial run them.” The blond stood straight, clearing his throat immediately afterwards. He knew some of these and they were chef’s kiss perfection in his little, darker, circles. Oh! Especially that one, that was a good one.. You watched as the man with black hair went through all the stages of grief, maybe that’s why his hair was starting to go grey? Nobody listened to him. Cute.
The strawberry blond from earlier nodded, clearly agreeing with the plan. That was five and a half, you could tell the pale white haired guy was also kinda keen on this by the way his grey eyes lit up all evil like. Of course spying was also good work too, but you were sure that he was evil. Positive about it. Or at least shady.
“I never introduced myself! How rude! I’m [Y/n]. An enforcer for the CRSS, or I was. Now let’s talk business, shall we?” You smiled, eyes glinting. “You don’t have one. That much is clear. But if you don’t start sending messages you’ll find yourselves in a world of hurt.” Your hands remained clasped, smile ever present. You knew a lot and the fact you weren’t dead already was a miracle, given your previous employers.
“My name is Diavolo. Welcome to the DDIS.”
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willpowers · 2 months ago
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I know its 2021 and I havent written for death note since 2007 but like, ive been up all night so here meronia fandom, no more lurking in the reblogs lol
Rated T for swearing and like, implied possibility of nsfw?
Drabble 1
With the soft click of his door, Near let out a soft sigh.
Kira was unmasked and defeated, he had won.
No.
They had won.
His hand instantly went to his neck, almost on instinct by now, and held the cheaply made beads and wooden red cross he hid under his shirt.
Near had never been religious, and he knew these beads were just symbolic, the first one he could buy at midnight on that night, when grief kept him up and walking through the unexplored city, needing something tangible. So he could deny.
Denial was normal.
This... Was normal.
He winced slightly as the cheap wood splintered a bit, poking his pale finger. He let go of the effigy and held his still clenched hand at his side.
What would he do now?
Logically, he knew. He was L.
“Nate River” died with the man named Lawliet. Died with the thunderous slamming of the orphanage door that a 14 year old boy should not have been able to make.
L.
“Near” was dead now too.
Died with that man. Light Yagami.
So L he was.
A predictable future for a perfect boy whose only flaw was not worshipping a strange adult who came to visit. His apathy, which before gave him freedom, was the final bar in this jail cell of a title.
Did he enjoy being a detective? Probably, in some way. The battle against Kira thrilled him.
No, it wasn’t the one against Kira that kept his attention.
He reached into his pocket, pulling out the puppets. He let them all fall to the ground. One by one, their tiny rubber bodies bounced a bit. There was L, first dead. Near never cared for him much. Took him five minutes to throw together something of a resemblance.
There was Kira. Honestly he was thinking about the hamburgler for this one. Petty killer with petty burger thief. Fitting.
Then Misa... Mikami... The others. Names he couldnt wait to just file away in some police report and forget about.
Then himself.
The white puppet, which he didn’t put too much energy into, but still made look a bit like him. He was simple. Monochromatic and bored.
Then him. He picked up the blonde puppet carefully, remembering how it took all night to get it right. He painted every detail he remembered from their one meeting at the headquarters. From every hidden camera quick shot of the man who was as bright as he was loud.
He couldn’t bear to even think his name.
Near picked up the puppet of him, putting them in their usual spots on his index and middle fingers. He would enjoy the thought of being on Nears middle finger. He was vulgar enough to.
He stared at them, and stood up. They needed a better home. The puppets didn’t have to be thrown away, like the real counterparts. Near opened his best toy chest, one he put his favorite toys into, and laid the two puppets, side by side. He put the blonde puppet slightly higher than the white one. A little victory. One the real man couldn’t claim by his side.
Near closed the toy chest, then looked back around his room. His toys were scattered, dice piled high, and cards strewn about.
The sight disgusted him.
It looked so... Normal.
He kicked over the dice, letting the clatter as they fall echo through the silent room. Kneeling down, he picked up the finished puzzles and dumped them out, one after the other. Their perfect completion being ruined by the destruction, and wet by the falling tears the boy didn’t even know he was capable to make.
Near knelt in the middle of his mess and grit his teeth, letting more of those rare droplets fall, tainting all his toys.
Why did such a win feel like such a loss? Like it had no meaning? He always did what was told. Kept quiet, did well on tests, become a detective. Catch Kira. Save the day. Save the world.
But he didn’t care at all. He had only loved one thing in his life, and in the process of fulfilling his duty... Their duty... He lost him.
Taking in a shaky breath, Near picked up the toys and pieces of puzzle and dice and cards and put them in his bigger chest. He took his time. He usually had the others do this for him, but he hated the person who was reliant on everyone to do everything. That man fucked up. He was foolish. He could die along with the rest of the casualties.
At one point, he heard his door open. He mentally chastised himself for forgetting to lock it.
“I thought I requested the night alone.” He said sternly, trying to not let his emotions show.
However, he got no response, only footsteps closer.
Footsteps with a heavy walk that none of his associates used.
Footsteps that should be six feet under.
Hallucination wasn’t one of the stages of grief. And it wasn’t on his agenda. He bit his lip, not sure what to think about. He didnt want to turn around. If he was wrong about who it was...
So he put more toys away. Methodically putting away robot after robot.
Soon another hand joined him. Taking a stuffed sheep and tossing it on the bed.
Only one person would know that goes there.
He reached for another toy. But hesitated. His mind was racing, trying to put together the puzzle. Figure out what was real. What was a lie.
A charred, bandaged hand grabbed the toy and put it away.
“Are you going to ignore me forever, or just until your toys are away.”
Near’s breath hitched a bit, the voice was deeper, damaged, but unmistakable.
He finally looked behind him, eyes a bit wider than usual, but still doing his best not to show his emotions. He had to have some cards left in his hand, for whatever game this was.
He looked like shit.
His hair was uneven and singed, his scar had gotten deeper and he could tell from the bandages he got more scars in new places. If he was here, he had to have survived a gasoline based truck fire.
He had to have survived the Death Note.
The man smirked.
“Sorry to interrupt your pity party, but it just so happened a kidnapped girl under immense pressure couldn’t accurately write a slavic name.”
Near stood up, walking over and gently touching his scar. He felt the other recoil, but he couldn’t care less.
He pressed harder, and earned a wince. He felt the warmth, a bit of blood from the wound staining his pale white fingers.
Blood.
Fresh blood.
He was alive.
“Mihael.” He said, under his breath, only able to be heard by the man before him.
He stepped closer. He pressed a hand on his chest, felt his heartbeat. He closed his eyes and counted... Steady, not in danger. Warm, quickening?
Near closed his fist a bit, gripping the leather under his palm. His fingernails would leave marks. But he could mark him. He was here to mark.
“Mihael...” He said, slightly louder. A reminder to himself.
Mihael snorted. “What, did you just remember it?” He said, a bit of a flush on his pale face. He could flush. He was blushing.
Near gripped his collar roughly, pulling him down and pressing his still lips to the others. It was awkward and obviously full of inexperience.
He felt the other snort, and could imagine him rolling his eyes. Probably savoring that he was going to obviously beat him at this. Near could care less.
The blonde held his face and tilted it into a proper kiss.
Ah.
This was actually a lot better.
Near kept the contact, using the new angle to press further against him, closing his eyes now, like he figured he was supposed to do. He was out of his depth here. There was no swell of orchestra or butterflies in his digestive system... But it was enough.
He pulled back, looking at him proper now. They were still holding each other, Near by his face and Mihael by his collar.
“Youre not better than me. For kissing me first.” He said, an uncomfortable look on his beet red face.
“I never claimed to be.” Was his response. “About anything. That was you.”
Mihael glared. “Stop it. Stop saying that. Not... now.” He looked down. It seemed Near wasn’t the only one feeling a lost sense of something.
Near looked at him and pulled back, taking him by the hand and pulling him towards the bed.
“Prove youre better then. Unless you accept defeat..” He said, a coy grin creeping onto his face.
Mello went with him, smiling.
Nothing was solved, pieces weren’t clicked together in a perfect fit, the world didn’t suddenly make sense, and neither of them had a plan. However, they had a start.
And it looked promising.
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caldraws · 2 months ago
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well, until i draw the ref for betrayed!steve, have this fic i wrote while sleep deprived and on a sugar crash
____________________________________________________________
[ENTER PASSWORD FOR STEVE_REBORN.EXE:]
************
[ACCESS GRANTED. WELCOME, MESA.]
[LAUNCH THE PROGRAM?]
>[YES]<       [NO]
[LOADING…]
[INITIATING WAKE-UP PROTOCOL…]
[LEVEL OF STRESS: 32%]
[CORE TEMPRATURE: 102°]
[POWER LEVEL: 100%]
[PULSE RATE: 85 BPM]
[BOOTING UP STEVE_REBORN.EXE.]
[LAUNCH SUCCESSFUL, PLEASE STAND BY…]
.........
....
..
.
He couldn’t see out of his right eye.
That’s the first thing Steve thought when he began to wake up. He thought it might be a bruise, but no bruise he had was so bad that it sealed his eye shut. In fact, it felt like that eye wasn’t there at all.
And besides, where even was he? He was warm and dry, but he couldn’t move, and…it felt like he was floating. Something was covering his mouth, it hurt to breathe, and it was so hard to remember what happened.
When he dared to open the eye he could open, all he could see was…green. So much green. But through the green, he could also see…a lab of sorts. A dark one, sort of futuristic looking. And…people. Rushing back and forth, occasionally looking into his…tube.
Steve was in some sort of tube. And he was at the mercy of these people who all had one eye. Then he saw something that made his heart drop.
The insignia of the ANCIENTS.
[LEVEL OF STRESS: 43%]
Upon seeing that symbol, he immediately tried to move around, do anything to get out of here. However, his body was as stiff as a board, which made him panic more. He was kidnapped by the ANCIENTS.
…Or so he thought.
When MESA, the leader of the ANCIENTS, stepped through the doorway, Steve thought it was all over for him. He would be killed, and his head would be delivered to The Cosmic Princess as closure and to serve as a gruesome warning.
The leader stepped up to the tube, but instead of opening it, he…put his hand out, to say ‘Stop’. Then he signed out “You are safe. Do not worry.”
Although MESA was his arch enemy, he…quickly calmed down. Good thing he took those ASL classes while in school, he had no idea he would need them.
“Good.” MESA signed. “I have no intentions of harming you. If I did, we would not be having this conversation. In fact, I saved your life.”
This stunned the Adventurer. Saved his life? His archenemy? Steve was confused as all hell. Was this a trick? Did MESA actually save his life?
[LEVEL OF STRESS: 38%]
“I can tell you are confused. Allow me to explain. I found you dead after a small skirmish in Valtmorta. You lost your left eye, on your right. I decided that you would make a fine addition to my forces, and I was able to bring you back to life with ANCIENT technology. Welcome back.”
Steve was speechless. Literally, he couldn’t talk if he tried. But if he could, he wouldn’t be able to say anything, because how do you respond to that?
It all came back to Steve, hitting him like a sack of bricks. He and GUIDO went with a small squadron of the Princess’s forces for an assault on Valtmorta. The ship was shot down, and the squadron was killed. He and GUIDO were the only survivors. He was trying to get out of the wreckage and asked GUIDO to help him, only for GUIDO to leave him.
GUIDO, his best friend, abandoned him when he needed him most.
[LEVEL OF STRESS: 52%]
Meanwhile, on the other side of the tube, MESA monitored Steve’s expressions as he remembered what happened. It went to one of confusion, to shock, to anger, to betrayal, but one thing stayed the same. His remaining eye was fixed on MESA. He couldn’t help but feel bad for his former archenemy. Steve is going through the five stages of grief in less than a minute, and MESA was there to witness it. Turning to one of the scientists, he gave them the all-clear to release Steve from the tube.
[INCUBATION FLUID DRAINING. PLEASE STAND BY.]
The sudden voice made Steve jump, snapping him out of whatever trance that news put him in. The green liquid that he was in drained from the tube slowly, the thing covering his mouth being removed, which turned out to be a breathing mask, so he didn’t drown. Wires detached from the back of his head, and the metal bar that was being used to keep him in place was released. He fell against the glass of the tube like a sack of bricks, his hands pressed against it, trembling.
It was about now that he noticed that he wasn’t in his normal adventurer’s gear. He was instead in a robe with the ANCIENTS insignia on it, barefoot, and on his left shoulder, the same insignia is tattooed onto his shoulder in pitch black ink.
With a deafening hiss, the tube opened, and Steve fell out of it onto his hands and knees, not making any noise aside from a few sobs. MESA lifts him up.
[CORE TEMPRATURE: 98°]
[LEVEL OF STRESS: 65%]
“I understand what happened to you is…traumatizing, to say the least. But you do not have to worry anymore. You are an ANCIENT now.” He says, trying to comfort Steve. All he did, however, was look up at MESA.
“…h…how long….” Upon trying to speak, Steve broke into a fit of coughing due to his voice not being used. It was so rough and hoarse, a heavy contrast from the smooth, young and uplifting voice he had while he was an Adventurer. Even MESA seemed shocked, as he quickly carried Steve out of the laboratory, shooting a nasty glare at the scientists that tried to stop him, bringing him into his private quarters, resting the former Adventurer on a chair.
“That’s better. Away from prying eyes. Now we can talk.” MESA stated, handing Steve a glass of water, which he immediately downed before talking.
“…how long have I been…dead for…?”
MESA sighed, sitting across from Steve. “…you were gone for 3 years, if not more. Originally, you were supposed to only be gone for 1 and a half, but we ran into multiple complications, our supplies were constantly stolen by the Princess’s forces, we constantly had to ward off attack after attack from her forces… I’m surprised she hasn’t attacked us yet during your awakening-“
BOOM.
Both MESA and Steve jumped as the room seemed to shake, deafening explosions occurring outside. MESA turns to the large window in his quarters. There were ships outside, belonging to the Cosmic Princess, that were assaulting the headquarters of the ANCIENTS.
“…I stand corrected.” MESA huffed in frustration.
[LEVEL OF STRESS: 73%]
MESA stood up, adjusting his helmet, walking out at a brisk pace, leaving Steve alone. For a short time, because Steve decided to follow MESA.
Peeking out on the balcony, Steve could only see what he could describe as something that looked like it came out of a sci-fi movie. Futuristic ships zooming around the place. Explosions. Lasers. It’s like Steve was thrown into a sci-fi movie.
The captain of the squadron was yelling at MESA, telling him to surrender before they blew him to bits. He was simply standing there, staring them down angrily. Then, he turned to Steve.
“Steve. Get rid of these ships, will you?”
[CURRENT OBJECTIVE: ELIMINATE THE SHIPS]
Those words blared in Steve’s mind, and without thinking, he ran to the balcony, and held his hand out. Almost instantaneously, blue threads emerged from his fingertips, wrapping around the ships that were close enough and still enough to grasp, and crushed them with those same threads, throwing the remains to the ground, watching them explode.
The Cosmic Forces ordered a full retreat. Those who weren’t blown up by MESA’s army escaped through portals. Soon enough, Valtmorta was quiet, only the soft hum of the machinery from MESA’s lair, the crackling of flames from the ships below and Steve’s heavy breathing was heard. MESA gently places a hand on Steve’s shoulder.
“Well done.”
Even though he had no idea what just happened, he felt a sense of pride wash over him when MESA said those two words. Giving his new superior a small smile, he straightens his posture.
[CORE TEMPRATURE: 93°]
[LEVEL OF STRESS: 25%]
“…I suppose I can’t go back now, can I?”
The ANCIENT looks down, shaking his head sadly. “No. Not until this war is over and the Princess surrenders. Honestly, I don’t even want to kill her. She is like a sister to me. We were very close, before everything happened.”
Steve looks up at MESA, a bit confused. “Then…what did happen?
A soft sigh escapes the mask that the ANCIENT wore.
“…I will tell you another time, perhaps.”
Then, he gently grabs Steve’s arm, pulling him back inside the base. “Come now. We have much work to do.”
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The Glitch
I get the Broken Reality au is a haha funny joke but there’s been some legit great art for it and since Butterfly is over and I haven’t gotten into the groove of my other projects yet, I decided to try some flash fiction of my interpretations. Note that this is very small and informal; I used whatever idea came into my head over the course of an hour or so instead of the weeks of planning that go into my usual fics. This was an experiment for fun. But if people enjoy the concept, I may be tempted to expand on it.
Credit to @lollitree @moonpaw @gentrychild​ @owlf45​ and @cyber-phobia​ (I’m sorry if I missed someone I lost track of how many people were involved in this mess).
Content working for reference to infant death.
Please enjoy!
The city shut down for a typhoon warning.  Thunder rumbled in the distance.  Dark clouds blocked the sun so much that by mid-morning it still looked like it never bothered coming up.  And yet the humidity made it too hot for coffee.  Inko didn’t know how to feel.  Work would have been a good distraction.  But she didn’t want any coworkers or clients to see if today got to be too much.  And it was already shaping up to be.  She caught herself making two plates of food for breakfast.  
Inko sat alone in the kitchen.  She couldn’t bring herself to finish her own plate.  Sickness set in fast.  The food had been cold for a long time before she summoned the strength to get up and throw it away.  Then she stood over the open trash can a while, debating whether to try and hold it together, or just throw up and get it over with.  She eventually managed to keep her stomach steady enough to go back to her bedroom.  There was another trashcan in there anyway.
A sound stopped her.  From her office.  The distinct sound of something heavy falling onto the carpet.  Right as she walked past the door.
Please not this again…
She opened the door with her eyes closed.  Her mind conjured a familiar image.  A bedroom full of books and hero posters.  Bright colors and personal touches.  A child’s room.  Inko opened her eyes to her drab home office.  Some of the older case file binders slipped off the pile again.  She really needed to sort those into storage. Not today though.  She didn’t bother to pick it up.
Inko walked faster than normal the rest of the way to her room.  She doesn’t want to face the temptation to search for old toys she remembers storing in the empty closet.  Or search the walls for scuff marks from action figures tossed into them she could always see even after the walls were painted. She hid her planner on a tall shelf and put the ladder away to make it that much harder to go through it over and over looking for doctors’ appointments and school events she knew were coming up.  Finally reaching her bed brought no comfort.
Of course she knew today’s date by heart.  She hadn’t put it on a calendar in the fourteen years since she used to look at it every day.  Inko stuck her head under her pillows, as if they could block out the silent noise of her memories.  Memories of before, the time even when she was by herself, she was never alone.
Fifteen years now, today.  With a shuddering gasp, the tears finally came.  Thunder crashed outside.  It’s not fair!  Why is it still this hard after this long?  Phantom kicks in her belly joined the growing ice there.
The hardest part was she still felt like that sometimes.  Like she wasn’t really alone.  Inko didn’t believe in ghosts, but the lost of what could have been was more than haunting enough.  She felt it watching her.  Judging her. Waiting just long enough for her to settle down into a peaceful, content existence before it reared up to plague her heart all over again.  Cliché hauntings like spooky faces in the mirror or blood coming out of the drains would have been preferable.  Those would be generic enough not to remind her directly.
Rain started outside.  Her phone lit up with a notification she ignored in time with a thunderclap.  The storm was getting closer.
Maybe I should call Hisashi, the thought crossed her mind.  Maybe he’s going through this too.  She bit her lip bloody.  Her frustrated memories weren’t in question like the others.  Probably not though.  I don’t want to talk to him anyway.
Hisashi had been stuck in the denial stage of grief, which often came off as him acting like he didn’t take hers seriously.  Not a year, not even half a year looking back, after they came home from the hospital, he wanted to try again.  
“We can’t let mourning hold us up forever,” he said.  “And it’s not like we lost a once in a lifetime opportunity!  We’ve got at least another twenty years to keep trying!”
But we did lose him! she had wanted to scream.  Still did, years later.  Why didn’t he understand?  He was your loss too!  Inko wanted for the next roll of thunder, then shouted.  
“I don’t just want any baby!  I want Izuku!”
The lights went out.  The temperature rose five degrees instantly when the ceiling fan stopped going.  The rain stopped.
Power outage.  Inko sat up with a sniffle.  Turns out the notification was a warning about roving blackouts.  Of course.  Oh well. I wasn’t really in the mood to cook tonight any-
Thunder boomed even louder than before, making her jump.  Then another.  Lightning flashed outside at the same time.  It was right on top of her.
What?  I thought the typhoon wasn’t supposed to make landfall until later toni-
Another crash.  It vibrated through her bones.  Then another. The lightning lit up her whole room. Except for a shadow on the wall. Inko jolted to look, holding her breath, and found only her own shadow in the next flash.
“I’m such an idiot…”  She went for her phone again.  For peace of mind, she decided to use her data to check if an evacuation order went out. Or any updates at all really, since the weather came so much faster than the news said.  “Nothing,” she sighed annoyed.  “I hate being alone for weather like this…”
A new notification pinged.
[Mom]
Inko blinked rapidly.  The message remained.  All of her insides turned inside out in an instant, and she started crying again. Was this someone’s idea of a sick joke? No one ever got a chance to call her that.  She touched the note to open it, but nothing happened.  No app or source was displayed.  Nor did it go away after a few seconds like normal.  
“Wha- What’s going on?” she wept.  In a mix of sorrow and rage, she wound up to chunk the device across the room.  But she froze.
Outside her window, floating against the pitch-black sky, were two small orbs.  Perfectly circular and glowing.  Watching her. She didn’t dare move.  
Another ping.  She looked without moving.
[I’m sorry]
“…  What?”
For a moment, all the sounds in the world dropped out.  They all came back at ounce.
Lights flickered.  Both the ones inside and the lightning going outside.  Multiple strikes laid on top of one another.  No relief.  Thunder pounded over and over like a drum solo.  It shook the whole building.  Inko ran into the closet away from the window.  She slammed her hands over her eyes but it didn’t help.  Her terrified cried were whispers to the screams of the storm.
A child’s scream.  She heard it. Each flash of light came with a cry. The distinct sound of a little boy calling out in pain blended with unyielding nature.  It came from every direction.  Every hair on Inko’s arms stood up in fear.  She felt the charge in the air.  But she had to go out.  Her baby was crying for help.
She burst from the closet into the living room.  All the lights and appliances turned themselves on and off.  The TV showed only static between its flashes. Something drew her too it.  The storm was deafening.  It pounded through her head like a heartbeat.  The beats got faster.  The static flashes started to look like a face.  Her usual caution was abandoned as she fell to her knees and touched the screen.  The snow cleared for a single instant.  Just long enough to look like the blank eyes from the window.  She felt the heartbeat there too.
Then it stopped.  All of it. The noise and lights all went quiet and dark.  The TV went completely cold in an instant.  Inko, stunned, palmed over it looking for something.  Anything.  The pulse. Warmth.  A burnt fuse or faulty wire.  But nothing.  The rain started again.
She pulled her hands back to her lap.  Her heart was still racing and tears kept flowing down under her chin. She looked around.  Everything in the living room and kitchen looked the same. No sign of the earthquake-like convolutions the whole appartement experienced only minutes ago.  Inko combed the entire space for evidence.  An object knocked off the shelf.  A picture frame fallen from the wall.  The notifications.  Toys in the closet or scuffs in the wall.  Still not a sign.  She even stepped outside her door to check the sky.  Only light rain and shattered thunder, just like the news said the day before.
There was only one thing out of place.  Back in her bedroom, the bottom drawer of her nightstand hung open.  Inko had to steal herself before approaching it. There were only two things in there: a little green blanket, and a picture of the ultrasound.  The most recent one from her last appointment. The doctor said he was doing fine.
“Izuku…” she whispered to it in her hand.
She remembered the squealing little bundling being put in her arms for the first time.  The first time he smiled at her.  Teaching him to walk, then immediately launching into play.  Him coming home with bruises and scrapes after the kids at school were mean to him, and crying in her arms.  Then, him coming home with his first real friends in a long time. She made them all dinner. Katsudon.  That was Izuku’s favorite.
Only she didn’t remember.  The same way she didn’t really remember the toys and scuffs.  Those were fantasies.  Daydreams of what could have been.  She just thought about them so often they felt like memories. Especially today.  It was his birthday after all.  They’d fade back into vague dreams by tomorrow.  They always did.  
And she would be left with reality.  The silence.  The cold, still little hand between her fingers.  Soft cheeks without blush.  Eyes that never opened.  Clutching him too tight to her chest, knowing the second she let go he would be gone for real and it would all be over.  
But it was never over.  Inko went through this same torturous song and dance every year for fifteen now.  All the guilt and dread would subside slowly over the next one, until it all came back at once.  Just like this.
At least it’s done for now, she tried to reassure herself, climbing back into bed. It still wasn’t even noon yet.  Plenty of time for another breakdown.  Hopefully the next one won’t be, feel, as loud.  She sighed heavily into her sheets.  This sort of thing can’t be normal.  I should really try therapy again.
Against her better judgement, she kept the blanket out, and clutched it to her chest.  Static electricity pricked her fingers.  With her other hand, she reached across the bed, and tried to imagine someone else there. Not Hisashi, never him anymore.  Izuku.  He was fifteen and happy, but the storm was making him nervous so he came to lay beside her.  She remembered it like it was now.  If she closed her eyes, she could feel his warm, soft skin, with a healthy, if a little anxious heartbeat just underneath.  The mattress warped as he sighed.
“We’ll be okay.  It’s just a little rough weather,” she promised.
“Okay, Mom,” Izuku answered quietly.  “…  I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for.”  I’ll start trying to get myself together tomorrow.  For now, let me have this.
Izuku didn’t respond for a while.  “I love you.”
“I love you too, baby.  Happy birthday.”
307 notes · View notes
itsclydebitches · 2 months ago
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RWBY Recaps: Volume 8 “The Final Word”
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Well, we made it to the finale, everyone, and if you're reading this it seems you've survived the watching of it too. Barely. To say that some questionable choices were made across these 20 minutes is... an understatement.
But before we delve into the episode, I want you to cast your mind back to November 7th, 2020. A horrible year that heralded a horrible RWBY volume. There, coming off the shaky writing of Volume 7, I posed a number of questions and concerns that the show needed to tackle, with the promise that we would return to these expectations in four months time. Now, here we are! Let's refresh everyone's memory, yeah?
Taken directly from that recap, what RWBY promised us, through various teasers and Q&As, included:
Emphasis on Ruby’s leadership and how Summer’s death has impacted her
Insight into Ren and Nora’s flaws
May Merigold will supposedly have a larger part
More information about The Long Memory (Ozpin’s cane)
Theme of the volume is that you can respect someone but that doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with them
Very short timeline (supposedly just two days)
Yang in particular is very suspicious and distrustful
And you know what? They did all this. In the spirit of being fair and honest to this show, RWBY succeeded in delivering on everything they promised... it was just our foolishness that expected that these ideas would be delivered well. Ruby's leadership took center stage in the form of her hiding for multiple episodes and then others telling her she's still The Best before the plot dropped a solution into her lap... one she could have used at any point prior to this. Summer's death certainly has an impact, though it's an impact born of a crazy reveal that Summer likely isn't dead, but turned into a horrifying grimm monster. Ren and Nora both delve into their flaws, but heaven forbid either grow from that reflection. Ren learns that if he pushes past his primary flaw of keeping his emotions buried and actually expresses his doubts for once, he'll be yelled at and ignored until he admits how wrong he was. The "real" flaw is being a bad friend, with "bad friend" equaling "Not agreeing with Ruby 100%." Meanwhile, Nora considers that maybe she shouldn't rush in recklessly and hit things with her hammer... which is why she rushes in recklessly, hits something with her hammer, gets grievously injured, and is told that this is just who she truly is. No growth there, not unless we count her sudden desire to figure out who she is without Ren... but that exploration hasn't started yet. Too bad she wasn't the teammate separated at the end of the volume!
Meanwhile, May did indeed have a larger role to play, one I quite liked, it's just that this role — like all the others — inevitably circled back to realizing how wonderful Ruby is. May challenges Ruby to make a decision, but instead of being the catalyst for Ruby's growth, May becomes another forgotten side character who does a sudden about-turn regarding her perspective, leaving the group with the contradictory message that Ruby is actually doing her best, she's just a kid, no need to try any harder... everyone who claimed otherwise up until now was mistaken. May is another Cordovin. She's another Qrow. She's another Maria.
Fun fact: we don't even know if Maria is alive right now. That's how little she means to the show!
Actually, wait... anyone remember this nonsense from Volume 7? 
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I was too lazy to change the date.
Moving on, Ozpin's cane turned out to be a stakes obliterating bomb that came out of nowhere, makes no sense logistically — how do battles store energy that only hurts grimm? — yet nevertheless seems to have killed Hazel? It's a disaster of unanswered questions. Similar to the disaster of our two day timeline when, I'm fairly sure, we've had an unnatural number of sunrises and sunsets. I'll have to take a look back at the volume as a whole now that it's complete to be sure of that though. As for our themes... did we really explore the idea of respecting someone even if you disagree with them? Because Ironwood wasn't shown any respect. Ren wasn't shown respect. I think the closest we got was Oscar calmly validating Yang's worry about getting buddy-buddy with Emerald, but the whole point there was that Yang was wrong. She wasn't wrong, but that's what the text would have you believe. She is indeed "very suspicious and distrustful," but that's hardly unjustified in these circumstances. I'm still boggling at the fact that it took the group three volumes for forgive Ozpin, even while he was actively working to assist them, yet I-helped-destroy-Beacon-and-tried-to-kill-everyone-you-love Emerald is the group's new BFF after she... ran away with Oscar? She didn't save him, she just went along for the ride. At the very least we might have gotten a scene where Penny was like, "Hey, why are you all laughing with the woman who just tried to kill my dad?"
But oh yeah, the story doesn't remember Pietro exists either. His daughter is DEAD and he hasn't been on screen since Episode Five, let alone there when she passes.
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I had my own list going in, including such expectations as "Ozpin bb you got done dirty please acknowledge this" and "Queer baiting, queer baiting… you’re on thin ice at this point, RWBY. Just skate on over to the queer snack bar before you fall straight into the lake." Obviously these needs were not met.
So what, given this mess of expectations, did we end up with?
Our finale — for some reason — breaks the one word title trend with "The Final Word." It's an expression that refers to the final word in an argument or a discussion, the idea of winning by making a last, devastating point. It can also refer to making the final decision on something, which is the best way I'm able to apply the title to this episode (outside of any “final” comparisons). Penny's death is certainly all about choice and making some kind of decision... but on the whole, this title doesn't feel like it fits well. Not like "Worthy" or "Creation" or "Risk." The two latter titles had obvious connections to the episode in question through dialogue and plot, while the former was a deliberate callback to Watts' speech. "The Final Word" feels... less obvious in what it’s trying to say.
That's a minor nitpick though. Let's get into the meat of the episode.
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We open on the grimm whale still disappearing, which is weird. I get that it's massively bigger than any other grimm we've seen, but they all turned to dust near instantaneously and it's been, what? At least an hour since Oscar blew it up? Likely longer when we factor in their walk back to the manor, the fight with Ironwood, fixing Penny, and this entire evacuation. It certainly makes for a nice visual, but like so many details in RWBY, it raises unnecessary questions along the way.
The important bit though is that amidst the whale carcass a blob of evil is swirling about. Salem, obviously. 
She’s not reforming in time to actually do anything though, don't worry.
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Instead, we cut to the Ironwood vs. Winter fight and there's at least some dialogue this time. Ironwood yells that he's sacrificed everything to keep Remnant safe. Winter yells back that he actually sacrificed everyone else. Obviously, Ironwood should be called out for things like, you know, his unprompted murders, but instead they have Winter listing stuff that she was never shown to have a problem with before. The embargo? "Squeezed Mantle until it broke?" She, as Ironwood's second hand, understood and supported both the decision to close the border and the need to collect resources for a plan designed to take out Salem. I hate that no only did she turn without an ounce of hesitation or grief, but now they're having her act as if Ironwood forced these decisions on everyone, rather than everyone supporting him through them. We all remember Volume 7 when Ruby pressured him to finish Amity, right? And in trust RWBY fashion, most of these words are meaningless. Mantle "broke"? What does that mean? The class disparity did not come about through Ironwood: that's been in the works for generations. The lack of resources made things harder, yes, but when they were reclaimed by Robyn nothing improved. Watts is the one who turned off the heat and Salem attacked Atlas, leaving Mantle alone. Now, all the citizens have escaped through magical portals. So how is Mantle "broken" exactly? More importantly, why is Winter upset over this vague, nonsensical dilemma when she could be yelling about Ironwood wanting to bomb Mantle?
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Again: this woman watched Ironwood shoot the councilman, shrugged, and continued to believe in him up until she realized his bomb threat was real. That was one of the main reasons why I thought the councilman might be alive, with Ironwood only shooting a warning shot past him. Because this is how you react to a good person unexpectedly killing someone else
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whereas this is what we got from Winter and Harriet.
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Hell, Weiss has more of a reaction to Yang telling Ruby things aren't super great right now.
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So either Ironwood didn't do something that bad, thereby justifying these tame reactions (unlikely, given where his character ended up), or we should believe based on the animation that everyone was super chill with him killing an unarmed civilian. Which is then directly contradicted when they're like, "You're going to shoot Marrow? Bomb a city?? How could you do such horrible things??? 😲" Friends, buddies, fictional pals... you already watched him murder a dude.
The point is, there's a lot for Winter to be upset about, but she's not upset about that. There's a lot that Winter herself believed in, but the writing has forgotten that. This entire arc went off the rails a volume ago.
Also, why is Ironwood fighting with that giant gun? This is his final battle, presumably ever, and he's wielding this awkward, sluggish weapon we saw him randomly pick up two episodes ago? Let him use his regular guns! Give us a fantastic battle like he had with Watts! Instead, RWBY's final showdown consists of him using this no-name weapon as a unwieldy club in some of the most boring choreography we've seen to date. It doesn't help that this fight needs to share time with three others. Instead of an epic showdown, we're given glimpses of the battle before continually cutting away from it. 
During that first cut we return to the Team RWBY battle where Penny, doing her best to stay out of Cinder's reach, is whisked away on Weiss' wasp.
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Too bad she didn't do that for Yang...
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Jaune and Nora watch this horror unfold until Jaune says, "Priority one!" and they split. Except... what is priority one exactly? Helping the civilians? I guess, because they don't enter the fight until the very end of it, when everyone else seems to have made it to Vacuo. And you know what, I like that. For once it feels like the group — or at least the B Team — is acting like huntsmen, putting the needs of the people over their own, personal desires. I'm sure Nora wants to help the group after Yang's (presumed) demise and that Jaune would like nothing more than to get his hands on Cinder, but they put those grievances aside to do the work they signed up for. Good job!
My only real gripe is that we don't really see this struggling in the animation, I'm just assuming it's there. In particular, there's a moment when Jaune sends Nora through the portal for reinforcements — not knowing they can't return — and they seem a little too jovial when, by this point, three friends have died.
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There's letting your cast be supportive, and then there's having them ignore that three teammates have perished in an abyss. It really doesn't help to sell the idea that Yang, Ruby, and Blake are in any danger here.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Penny tells Weiss that since Cinder is really just after the Maiden powers, she can buy the rest of the group time to escape. Weiss, obviously, isn't fond of this idea... and then the both of them are blasted off the wasp by Cinder's fire. Which they deserve, frankly. They're just having this casual conversation about sacrifice while in the middle of a battle. Did they somehow forget that Cinder can fly too?
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Note that multiple attacks from Cinder, another blast, and a hard landing on the pathway gives their auras a knock, but doesn't break them. The primary defense for Yang's aura shattering in a single, simple hit was that everyone is exhausted and running on little to no power... yet here the rest of the cast is, tanking multiple hits as we've come to expect. There is no explanation for Yang's defeat except that the writers chose to ignore the rules of their world for a dramatic death scene... even though that drama was erased a week later as half our team falls into the void too.
We'll get to that though. For now, Cinder corrects Penny's belief with "I want it all" and proceeds to try to finish them off, only for Blake to arrive, having made her choice from last episode about who to help. It's a legitimately nice attack, but I happened to pause at the bEST MOMENT
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Anyway.
We leave that fight to return to Qrow and Harriet who have, off screen, started an entirely different battle. What I mean is, last we saw Qrow had broken through the windshield of the airship, roughly pinned Harriet, and was taunting her about getting the fight she wanted. Now, suddenly, he's going “You’re making a mistake, Harriet, what happened to Clover—” as if he's been trying to talk her down this whole time. It's jarring, especially when we consider that Qrow had a volume long "kill Ironwood" arc that was dropped because... Robyn reminded him that murder is bad? RWBY feels like a storytelling pinball machine. Characters bounce from one personality to the next, one perspective and another, round and round until you don't know where they'll end up.
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Harriet screams for Qrow to just shut up already and honestly? Same. I love Qrow, he's one of my favorites, but I can't deny that he's been done dirty like so many others since Volume 6. I love who Qrow was, not the mess RWBY has created the last few years.
Time to delve back into fic after recapping!
Sadly though, this strange dialogue wasn't the only "wtf" moment. Harriet is still trying to drop the bomb — which is its own mess of confusing motivations — when Vine and Elm show up on Harriet's ship. Elm begs Harriet not to do this "because you’re our friend!”
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Am I glad that they finally acknowledged that the Ace Ops have always been friends? Sure, but why did we spend two volumes claiming otherwise? They were friends, a fantastic team, then Harriet announces that's a lie and we get a bunch of "Team RWBY is superior because they're actually friends" messages. Except this entire time we're still watching the Ace Ops be kind and playful with one another. But they're not friends, the story says. Not friends as they fight these battles. Not friends as they grieve for Clover. Definitely not friends as they react in horror at Ironwood nearly shooting Marrow. No, there's nothing there... until Elm claims there is! Then Harriet reacts in shock. I have friends?
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Except Elm was labeled the one "just following orders" by Yang. Elm is the one who shook off Vine after the whale exploded. This isn't the story of one character, Harriet, thinking she was alone and then realizing that people do care for her, this is a story that, seemingly at random, had this group being BFFs or acting like they hated each other — and at each point the visuals are contradicted by the story's message. When they act like friends, we're told they're not friends. When they don't act like friends, we're told they really have been this whole time. I mean, do any of them even care that Marrow teamed up with Qrow and Robyn to take them out five minutes ago? All three were going along with Ironwood's scheme until they were physically stopped, but now Elm is convinced this is a bad decision she needs to talk Harriet down from with the power of friendship?
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None of these characters are characters, they're just slapped together reactions based on whatever the plot needs. Who is Elm? I've got no clue. Her personality changes every episode.
Also, love that Qrow moves to stop the bomb from dropping and Harriet screams at him to "Get out of the way!" rather than just... attacking him? She even throws her hands out like she's having a temper tantrum. This feels like schoolyard bickering, not a life or death struggle.
Even though, you know, the audience is aware that the people of Mantle have already been evacuated and Qrow's group is aware that Atlas is falling on top of Mantle as they speak, so... why does the bomb matter? It's going to, what? Destroy the city thirty seconds before Atlas does? Oh no, the horror.
Things then, if you can believe it, get even worse. The bomb is still about to drop, so instead of doing anything to stop it — I mean seriously, we know it takes four people to shoulder the bomb's weight, but you're telling me Qrow and a reformed Harriet can't snag it in a pinch? — Qrow sits there, looks at Clover's pin... and the bomb careens towards the side of the airship instead, stopping.
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Because I guess Qrow has good luck now? Or always did and somehow never noticed it? Or his semblance evolved?? Again, we don't know, but it's a bad moment any way you slice it, imo. Qrow has always been defined as the guy with a bad luck semblance and, much like Penny's android struggles, the allure was in watching him overcome those challenges, not having the show erase the challenge entirely. Especially when we don't even understand how it was erased. Qrow just... stops drinking, stops caring for Ironwood, stops wanting to kill Ironwood, stops causing bad luck, I guess. RWBY takes major character traits and flips them off like a light switch, leaving the audience with no emotional tether. We didn't watch Qrow overcome his drinking, or realize he can't bear to kill Ironwood, or discover a way to live life with the horrible hand he was dealt, he just blinks one day and those things are gone. Why? No one is sure. Not even the writers, I'd wager, because otherwise they would have written explanations into the text.
Many in the fandom insist that any basic information provided by the story amounts to "hand holding" when in fact there is a massive difference between the sort of unnecessary exposition that bogs down a tale, and having facts enough for the audience in its entirety to be on the same page about what is actually happening. For example, recently someone argued strongly that the "Penny is human" take is incorrect because Penny isn't human, she has an inhuman body made entirely of aura... yet where in the world does this exist in the story? Ambrosius may have been unsure about what Penny would be prior to removing her robotic parts, but that ambiguity is gone once her body forms, the equivalent of worrying about that gun only for a flag with 'BANG' to appear instead of a bullet. Worrying about something doesn't mean that something actually occurred. Penny appears human, expresses human sentiments, and then, this episode, dies as a human. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck and succumbs to the mortal peril that all ducks face... it's probably a duck. As I said in a recent ask, I implore the fandom to stop writing RWBY's scripts for them. Or rather, do so in some amazing fanfics. Don't do it on critical posts as a means of insisting that your revision is canon.
So Qrow has good luck now, maybe, but this character change doesn't amount to anything because Watts remotely starts the bomb's countdown.
At least he’s entertaining and competent. We had that for a time. 
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Back to the main battle, Neo is kicking Ruby's ass. Why? Because there's no consistency in power levels in this show. The ancient woman who hasn't fought in decades dances circles around Neo, highlighting how weak she supposedly is, yet now Neo dances circles around our main character. None of us should expect fights to follow the logic of the world, only what drama the plot wants to stir up. Ruby is eventually knocked down from a hard hit — yet her aura's intact! — and is saved at the last second by Weiss tossing Neo into one of the portals. 
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Far more of a problem than the power leveling is that Ruby gives no indication here that Neo just murdered her sister. Again, that's what the characters are meant to believe, yet Ruby is as stoic as she would be fighting a bunch of White Fang grunts. If you showed this scene to a RWBY fan on its own and asked, "What do you think happened prior to this?" the answer would be, "Uh... nothing? Ruby is just fighting Neo like she did on the airship in Volume 3." Nothing about this scene — from dialogue to animation — sells the idea that Ruby just lost the person most important to her in the world.
When we do finally mention Yang, it's Weiss who goes, “Come on, we have to do this for Yang” and the delivery is... meh. Honestly, I normally don't pay much attention to the voice acting, but I had a problem with most of Weiss' lines this episode. The "Leave her alone!" during this fight and later a "Get back!" as she attacks Cinder both fell really flat for me. Given the devastation and charged emotion that's supposed to be here, we can't give her anything better than generic cries that, again, she’d throw at any grunt? In that later scene the animation absolutely helps sell Weiss' distress, but the dialogue is common and the delivery has no emotional punch, leaving it feeling like Yang is just hanging out in Vacuo and they promised they'd beat the baddies before catching up with her. No one but Blake is acting like Yang died.
In fact, we see more emotion from Ruby when Weiss shoves her back, taking the brunt of Cinder's blast.
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Weiss' aura breaks, not that that's a danger or anything. Everyone falls before they're injured, Winter gets the Maiden powers, Ren barely has to fight. Losing aura in this show used to be a moment of peril, where just last volume Winter was bruised, bleeding, and now needs an assistive device because she had to continue a battle with no aura. Now it's a joke. Aura breaks left and right across the volume with no repercussions attached to that.
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We see a bit of the Blake and Penny vs. Cinder fight where Cinder blasts Blake off the edge. Penny rushes after her because at least one character remembered that they can fly.
Ruby, meanwhile, remembers that she can fly when it benefits her. After getting hit down onto a lower level and watching Crescent Rose plummet, she taunts Neo into an attack with a move that's actually quite good. I like the confidence with which Ruby riles her up and I like the strategy of darting behind Neo to knock her off the path instead. “Whatever you wanted, I hope it was worth it."
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The only thing I don't like is that this speed and ingenuity had to disappear to justify Yang falling.
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Cinder breaks Ruby's aura from behind though, sending her over too and grabbing onto Neo's leg. In an obvious moment born of the trope, it looks as if Cinder is reaching to help Neo, only for her to snag the Relic instead. “You should have never threatened me," she tells Neo and to Ruby: "you should have never been born.” 
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Love that they erased all that cool growth from last episode! And by "love" I mean "hate." As I said last recap, I'm not going to pretend that Cinder's character isn't riddled with problems, but realizing she was stronger by teaming up with Neo and Watts was one of the best things they've ever done for her. It made Cinder dangerous again and showed Watts' speech having a clear impact. It also made her more entertaining, creating a new dynamic among the three villains. Now though, Cinder is just... Cinder. The same boring, stupid Cinder we've had since Volume 4. She betrays Neo and then later betrays Watts.
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So Cinder kicks Neo and Ruby both over the edge because why would we want to make her interesting? Neo falls, but Ruby has friends there to catch her! Unlike Yang. Jk. Weiss’ aura is gone and Blake actually tried both times, so major kudos for her. Using momentum supplied by Penny, she snags Ruby and hooks her weapon into one of the pathways... only for Cinder to cut the ribbon. Both plummet and once again Penny has a more believable reaction to all this, just like she did last week
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Speaking of reactions, does anyone else find it weird that Cinder finally succeeded in killing Ruby and... doesn’t seem to care? 
No? Just me? 
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At least we get that good animation with Weiss I was talking about before, even if the dialogue is lacking. I love that she snagged Blake's weapon and uses it to try and take out Cinder, shaking the whole time. Those are some great details. 
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Back to the bomb, Qrow is trying to escape, but Harriet says there isn't enough time to get out of the blast range. "I've killed us all." Vine has the solution though, using his semblance to wrap up the airship, thus containing the blast when it goes off. His final words are to reassure Elm that he can give his life, "if it means saving all of my friends." Just in case you missed the part about the Ace Ops being super close this whole time. Even though they also weren’t. Trying to eat your cake too, RWBY? 
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Frankly, I didn't feel much of anything during this scene, not when Vine made the sacrifice, nor when Elm and Harriet look on sadly while Robyn pilots them away (that's her contribution this episode). 
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All I can say is, good on RWBY for not killing one of the three dark skinned characters, or just murdering the Ace Ops as a whole. What the story is going to do with them though, who knows.
Jaune and Nora have that ‘You can do it!’ moment after three of their friends have presumably been killed. I swear, about 80% of Jaune's scenes do not work tonally and oh boy, things only get worse from here.
First though, I like his entrance. He slams into the fight against Cinder and lines up with Penny and Weiss, who is still dual-wielding her and Blake's weapons. That's an epic shot.  
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It looks as if they stand a decent chance against Cinder — Weiss' lost aura notwithstanding — except then Cinder's arm starts going crazy and she gleefully announces that Salem has returned.
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Working on a time limit now, Cinder unleashes a volley of attacks that Penny steps in to protect the other two from. It's here that Cinder grabs hold with her grimm arm.
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It's here that Penny dies. Again.
For the third time.
Friends, I am tired. This moment honestly deserves the most epic of rants, but that, in turn, requires energy. Energy? In this economy? Ha! That's hilarious. Taking this seriously though, the problem here can — as usual — be boiled down to a single question: What was the point?
Penny died in a horrible attack that shook the cast and audience both to their core.
That emotional impact was erased through her resurrection.
The resurrection did not create a new emotional impact for our heroes to grapple with.
Penny is given the Maiden powers, solidifying the fact that she's always been a "real girl."
That lesson was erased when the story decided to make her human for unexplained reasons (because no, she never needed to be human to survive the virus).
Penny then dies, passing the power to Winter... who was set to get the power in the first place.
We have, once again, come full circle. You can take Penny out of the story and nothing changes. Does Ruby lose any lessons or emotional growth? No. Does anyone survive who would have otherwise died? No. Does her getting the powers lead to someone unexpected snagging them upon her death? No. Penny's existence was filler. She was put in the story to take up time and, that done, was removed from the story once again. It's a choice that wouldn't be half as horrible if that filler hadn't done so much damage along the way.
First is the obvious: that Penny didn't deserve this. As a character, she didn't deserve to be brought back just to be killed off again, seemingly without narrative purpose, serving only to draw in viewers who RT knew loved the character. Second, keeping her in the story led to her entire arc unraveling. Initially, Penny died as an android in the world's eyes, but those who actually knew her — Ruby and Pietro — mourned the girl she really was. Now we have this horrible message that being a machine isn't real enough, so she has to die as a human being. It's a disservice to her character and, as an allegory for many minorities, downright insulting to the audience. Third, this offensive 'better to die as a human than live as a robot' message is wrapped up in the claim that Penny finally gets to choose something — “Let me choose this one thing. Trust me” — but she already did that when she chose to take the Maiden powers. We already had the better written version of this last volume!
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And the fourth issue...well.  
Fourth and fifth are the real kickers. Fourth is that Penny's death was an assisted suicide. She explicitly asks Jaune to kill her so she can ensure she's thinking of the right person when she passes (never mind that her thoughts would probably be on Jaune while this is happening) and that's... pretty horrible. Look, I'm no purist. I like a great deal of dark, gritty stories whose plot exists to make us uncomfortable. That's a valuable emotion that fiction can generate. The problem is not that RWBY is tackling a sensitive topic, but that they aren’t tackling it well. Yes, they put in a content warning and (from what I've heard) a suicide helpline as well, but providing the already necessary resources is not the same thing as writing that kind of scene with respect and care. All of the above tells us that, no matter what RT may have intended, that respect and care weren't communicated to the audience. Like Yang, they didn't even bother to keep Penny's death within the rules of their world. Jaune is right there ready to heal her and Penny says no, there's supposedly not time.
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Um... since when?
Jaune's aura boost is instantaneous. The second he amplifies aura is the same second the healing starts and their talk could have been spent saving Penny. There was certainly time to save Weiss in Volume 5. To have a character go, 'Nah, it's too late' when the solution is right there is the ultimate cop-out. Suddenly announcing that the solution will no longer work For Reasons is not a legitimate limitation and it's made doubly insulting that RT didn't simply use the limitations already available to them. Jaune has been running low on aura since the whale. He then expended a great deal of aura boosting Penny to keep the virus in check. Every other ally has had their aura broken in this fight so, there. That's your solution. Have Jaune take a few hard hits from Cinder, his aura breaks, and then when Penny is mortally wounded he no longer has a semblance to heal her. It's that easy! Yet instead they had Penny reject help so that she could ask to die. That's what's offensive here.
Finally, reason number five... why is this moment given to Jaune? That's another easy solution: Jaune has gone through the portal and can't get back to heal Penny. There. Done. But logistics aside, this scene should have gone to any other character. Who is Jaune to Penny? Or Penny to Jaune? No one! They don't have a relationship. I get that the writers didn't want any of the girls at her side because then it would be hard to justify Penny not passing the power to them (which I get: making one team member a Maiden changes the show drastically), but you know who should be there instead of Jaune?
Pietro.
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Pietro, who built Penny as a weapon and who was never given the chance to apologize for that. Pietro, who told Ruby he could only rebuild her once more, setting up an expectation that he'd sacrifice himself for his daughter (despite the complicated racial issues that would bring up). Pietro, who watched Penny plummet and has no idea what happened to her, let alone that she's been made into a human girl. Pietro should have been at her side, saying goodbye to his child and helping her complete her last wish.
And it would be so very easy to pull off. All it takes is a single line where Penny remembers that her father exists, asking Ruby to ensure a portal opens up in Amity. There's a quick reunion along the pathways before Cinder attacks. We hear a cry of despair as Penny falls and she looks, seeing her father racing towards her, though she thought he'd already made it out. There, you’re done. We open ourselves up to a lot of attacks whenever we say, "Why didn't RWBY just do ____?" because those who vehemently defend the writing like to go, "Oh, you think you could write RWBY better?" and no, I don't. I struggle with long-form storytelling and massive casts. I don't think I could do justice to the sort of show RWBY wants to be, but I do think I'm a decent enough writer to spot when there are major problems like this. The question of "Why doesn't Penny remember that her beloved dad exists?" and "Why, out of that massive cast, is Jaune the one to do this deed?" are both things that a newbie writer can spot, and a sometimes okay writer can figure out how to fix them both simultaneously. A good writer will start thinking about themes — what might it mean for Pietro to kill the creation he made? — and a great writer will find a way to pull that off without having that insulting, discomforting feeling pop up. At this point, our RWBY crew feels less like new writers making mistakes (because they're not new, not at all), but rather just writers who haven't bothered to learn from their mistakes after eight years. That's a lot harder to watch.
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Because putting Jaune here doesn't just mess with RWBY's internal rules (not using his semblance) and it's not just useless in terms of Penny's development (she doesn't know him outside of "dude who boosted my aura for an hour"), but it also falls back into a pattern I thought RWBY had finally broken from: making Jaune the story's emotional center. This is not the JAUNE show. It's the RWBY show. Yet here, once again, we have Jaune in the spotlight. Why, after a whole volume of Ruby avoiding making decisions, does Jaune finally make the hard call? Why, after a scene where Penny asked Ruby to kill her, does Jaune do that deed? Why, after a divisive arc where all the grief for Pyrrha went to Jaune, is Jaune now set to shoulder the grief of Penny? At least Jaune had a relationship with Pyrrha, even if Nora and Ren did too. Yet with Penny he seems to be there solely because the writers can't bear to keep him out of that center spot for long. All of Team JNOR make it through to Vacuo... except Jaune. Jaune falls into the abyss too because, if the show goes this route, we apparently can’t have a volume just about Team RWBY, the main characters. The main characters are separated from the rest of the team and it's Jaune, not Oscar and Ozpin with a connection to the lore, not Nora or Ren whose development now hinges on them learning who they are without the other, it's Jaune who follows the title characters into a new dimension. 
The issue is not whether Jaune deserves to grieve over the truly traumatic thing he just did now that he’s done it. He obviously does. The issue is the writers setting up a scenario where Jaune is situated to do that emotional work in the first place. 
I like Jaune as a character. I don't like how the writing uses him as a character. RWBY is built on the idea that these four girls are the heroes of this tale, not the expected blond, blue-eyed, sword wielding guy we’ve seen in so many other stories. So why does that guy get the most important scene of the finale? Yes, Jaune had much less screen time this volume than he did in the past, that’s a good thing given the number of important characters RWBY has to balance, but that hasn't erased the problem of him being given significant moments that should be going to title characters. Does Ruby’s team rescue Oscar and take on Salem? No, Jaune's team does. Does Ruby's team save Penny? No, Jaune's semblance keeps her grounded and then holds the virus off. Not everything is a problem — we've also got good choices like having Ruby defeat the Hound and Ruby's team take on Cinder for the majority of the fight — but that doesn't erase that Penny’s death wasn’t something Jaune should have been a part of. Not unless he was going to heal her. Doing better than they have in the past doesn't mean that RT isn't still slipping when it comes to giving him undeserved focus.
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They took one of the most controversial characters, controversial because of how much emotional focus he's gotten in the past, and had him help a fan favorite commit suicide while he cried about it, showing more emotion for a near stranger than our title character showed for her sister. This is a character who, up until two or three episodes ago, had no connection to the victim and still has no reason to thematically be the one committing this act. That is why the fandom goes, “The crew loves Jaune and does everything they can to put him in the center of the action.” Ruby, as main character and Penny’s first friend, is the obvious choice here. Pietro, as Penny's father, would be a good choice too. Hell, Nora is a better option given their moment in the Schnee manor this volume. Or Winter given their moments in Volume 7! Have her escape Ironwood, find Penny, receive the powers, and then finish him off. Literally anyone would be better than Jaune, not because Jaune is a bad character, but because Jaune has no emotional stakes here and putting him in a position where he could heal Penny but doesn’t is massively stupid. No one should be surprised that a lot of the fandom is upset about this. It was one hell of a reach to give him this moment and, since Jaune's problem has always been getting too much screen time and emotional nuance compared to our main cast, it's no wonder this act brought up a lot of bad memories. RT fell back into an old pattern after two volumes of improvement and they did so at the worst possible time. 
The tl;dr is that Penny's third death is a writing travesty, just like her second. I shouldn't be surprised, given that this is the same volume that tortured a kid and the only thing they did with it was have him blindly trust his torturer... yet I find myself surprised nonetheless. Because Penny had such potential as an android Maiden and, as much as I personally hated it, potential as a former android learning to be human too. But why explore any of that when you can kill her off instead? Again.
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As a final, far smaller note about this scene, we have the continuing problem of what purpose Cinder's arm is serving. If everyone recalls, its threat comes primarily from the fact that she can "siphon off" power from other Maidens.
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She did it to Penny during the Amity battle and now she does it again, a great deal of green energy absorbed into Cinder. So what's left to give to Winter? Why doesn't Cinder become noticeably stronger with each successful theft? Like so much else in RWBY, we're told it exists without actually seeing the impact of that. Winter isn't a weaker Maiden for having lost power and Cinder isn't a stronger Maiden for having snagged it. It's just.. there, hanging out and looking vaguely menacing, I guess.
Outside of this unnatural not-transfer, we get to see how the power normally passes as Penny meets with Winter in some in-between place. It's a soft, heartfelt scene... with the exception that Winter says, “You were always the real Maiden at heart. I was just the machine. Just following orders."
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I don't know how any viewer can doubt that RT now believes machinery = evil. Penny's machine body is magicked away so she can be a real-real girl. Yang announces that the arm she worked hard to make a part of herself is just "extra." The man with half a metal body is made this volume's villain and losing his second arm is, by the authors' own admission, a symbol of his lost humanity. Mercury with two metal legs remains a bad guy while Emerald and Hazel are hastily redeemed. Tyrian with his cybernetic tail is the most devoted crazy of the bunch. Maria, blind and in need of assistive lenses, is so forgotten by the story she was left in the tundra nine episode ago and won't be mentioned again until next volume (if then). Pietro, the guy in the wheelchair, is forgotten too, despite it being his daughter who dies on screen.
Now Winter, also bearing an assistive device, says that she's the real "machine" here and tells Penny, now human, that she was always the "real Maiden." I don't know what happened to make RT do a 180 lately, but the disability rep is no longer what it was.
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Penny reassures Winter that she'll always be a part of her and then passes on, for good this time.
The rest of the episode feels lackluster, if I'm being honest. Images of Cinder beating Weiss are intercut with Ironwood beating Winter, getting her to a point where her aura breaks. 
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But then the powers appear and, as we'd expect, she easily turns the tide. 
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Gorgeous animation there. 
But RT once again rewrites earlier scenes by having Ironwood claim that the "destiny" he chose for Winter has finally arrived — isn't that Cinder's MO? — and Winter shoots back that he chose nothing, this was a "gift." Except, it was never about destiny or orders? This was why Weiss' anger in Volume 7 was ridiculous. She acted like Ironwood forced Winter to accept the powers and Winter told her point blank she chose this. Ironwood didn't decide anything, he offered and Winter chose... kind of like how Penny is choosing now. I hate how nearly all of Ironwood's character has been ignored or, during times like this, outright lied about to make him seem super duper evil. He tried to bomb a city! You don't need to make him seem evil anymore, that job is done! Like their sudden change regarding disability, RT now seems to be allergic to nuance. Heaven forbid Ironwood be allowed to have valid points like he did in Volume 3. No, if you've got an antagonist every single thing they've ever said must be twisted into a display of their evilness.
Unless you're Hazel, who Oscar trusts for #reasons. Unless you're Emerald, who the group immediately embraces. Unless you're Cinder, who gets to cry on a rooftop and secures the trust of her allies long enough to betray them again.
But Ironwood? Nah, screw that guy.
Salt aside, the fight is pretty boring. Winter literally just throws up a wall of ice and Ironwood's blast rebounds, taking him out.
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Winter flies through the portal and we return to Jaune. His sword is broken by Cinder, so weapons should be quite the problem in Volume 9. 
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There's a bit of sword vs. sword Maiden battling — this episode really pulled heavily from both Volume 3 and 5's finales — before Cinder gets smart again and attacks Weiss, currently trying to escape with Jaune. Weiss goes right off the edge and Winter isn't able to reach her in time. That's the entirety of Team RWBY, lost to the magical void.
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Kudos to Winter's VA and the writing here though. This feels like an appropriate reaction to losing a sister. Screaming, sobbing, falling to her knees and beating the floor... Ruby, take notes.
A roar sounds through all the portals though, the sort of roar a pissed off witch might give. Jaune convinces Winter they need to leave Cinder behind, but before they can escape Cinder... makes a new wish?
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Look, it works on all the major fronts. Cinder has the staff, check. We've basically established that Ambrosius can make an unlimited number of things per era, check. We know the previous thing disappears when a new wish is made, check. My only question is the timing. In all honesty, I'll have to re-watch the scene to be sure, but at the time it felt like the portals began disappearing almost the second Cinder left. Did she really have time to summon Ambrosius, deal with his explanatory nonsense, and get him to make a new wish without any fiddly concerns? Sure, fire is just fire, but it still felt like way too much happening too fast off screen.
Either way, the portals are gone and Winter makes it through in time, but Jaune does not. He falls through the void along with Team RWBY. And Neo.
Neo is the only addition I'm looking forward to here.
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We get a few shots of our other characters as Winter arrives, saving the day by taking her grief out on the grimm. So glad something came of Ren breaking his aura again! Maybe they'll be more fighting at the beginning of Volume 9? If we see any of this group outside of 9's finale. My worst fear right now is that we'll spend an entire season away from the main action — remember how I said it would be stupid for Team RWBY to go on a side adventure while Salem is attacking the world? — and when they return there will have been some major time skip. Salem has destroyed most of Remnant, only pockets of survivors remain, it's all dark and dystopian... and oh look, every bit of character development happened off screen. How did Nora discover who she is without Ren? She did it while Team RWBY was gone. That merge we've been teasing for five years? That happened while you were gone too and, btw, Ozpin has ceased to exist. So sad, right? Not that anyone will actually mourn. Just take comfort in the fact that his last line was an "Oh no" about Ambrosius and his last major scene was apologizing for how the group treated him. Emerald's redemption? Off screen. Winter's grief? Off screen. Any and every one of these challenging beats to tackle can be waved away with, "We went through that arc while you were lost in the magical realm. Just get to know our new, improved selves now!"
Please, oh writing gods, don't let that happen.
Though I do worry because my last prediction came true.
But we all knew we’d end up here. My current theory? The portal should still be open at the vault. Winter will fight Ironwood, escape through it, and it will close right before he escapes too. He’ll fall with Atlas and everyone will act as if it’s some beautiful, poetic justice for him to perish with the city. 
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Ironwood didn't make a break for the portal — too busy being unconscious — but we got everything else. Winter left him, he falls with Atlas, and this is some poetic justice, I guess. Really, it's just an undignified death. I'd hoped for a sympathetic kill, something that showed the characters still cared about him even if they knew Ironwood had to be stopped. Baring that, I'd hoped for an epic battle that took him out with style. Instead, no one even bothers to kill him. Ironwood is now beneath the entire cast, not even worth finishing off. Winter casually tosses his blast back at him and leaves. Cinder throws out a "that's checkmate" and leaves. I don't think Salem even looks at him. Ironwood (presumably) dies with no one and nothing, just a casualty of the city Team RWBY made fall. And I say "presumably" because the audience isn't even given the satisfaction of being sure he's passed on. Like Hazel, Ironwood's death is this weird, ambiguous moment that, based on the other character reactions, isn’t meant to be ambiguous. Is he dead? Most likely. Is it possible, based on what we've seen, that he'll pop up two volumes later like
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Yes and, memes aside, that sucks. I don't want to be wondering for the next couple years if Ironwood survived and if they'll bring him back just to drag his character through the mud again. Move on.
But no, we don't even get that.
I've spoken at great deal about Ironwood both in these recaps and on my blog more generally. Last week, I said I'd covered it all and there was no need to rehash it all again. I stand by that, so let me just conclude this travesty with a final note: if your bad guy's final moment is using the last of his strength to point a gun at the actual villain of this story, and you don't realize the problem of how this image contrasts everything else the story has insisted about his character? … I just don't know what to do with that.
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Oh, actually, final-final note: Ironwood’s semblance is officially a Schrodinger's semblance. It is both canonical and noncanonical simultaneously. Wooo. 
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Cinder tells Salem she used her wish to "add more flames to the first of Atlas" and we cut to Watts, trapped in a roaring fire, unsuccessfully trying to break his way out. Wow, I hate that too! Next to Tyrian, Watts was our last remaining, entertaining villain. He carried a lot of the last two volumes and, I had hoped, was going to add some bright spots to the coming volumes as well. Apparently not.
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Just another waste.
In addition to this casual, second murder of her ally, Cinder successfully convinces Salem that Neo killed Ruby and Ruby used the Lamp's last question, but she's back in her good graces since she snagged the Relics anyway. “You’ve done well, Cinder. Our work here is done" and they leave, blasting off like a less cool Team Rocket as Atlas plummets into Mantle.
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Let's spend a second to tally things up then, shall we? What happens if Ruby, instead of throwing a moral fit, says, "You're right and we never should have lied to you, or betrayed you. But we want to help now. You get the Relics and the Maiden to safety in Atlas, if you can, we'll defend the people of Mantle"?
Well, they can still tell the world about Salem and call for help, much more easily now since Ironwood would likely just give them the code rather than them needing to spend an episode stealing it.
The Staff at least may not have ended up in Salem's hands and the group could have actually focused on getting the Lamp back (also solved if they'd been smart and just put it in the vault to begin with).
Mantle would still have been safe because Salem was never interested in Mantle to begin with.
Atlas wouldn't have fallen.
Ironwood wouldn't have died.
Penny wouldn't have died.
Even Vine wouldn't have died!
Our heroes unambiguously made the situation worse. Rather than banding together with their allies to fight the real enemy, Salem, they pushed until they made enemies of Ironwood and the Ace Ops both. Then they asked for help — which a pinch of logic said would never arrive — and twiddled their thumbs waiting for it. When it was clear none would come they...did nothing. They sat around, upset that the people were in danger, but not willing to do anything about it. It's only when one of their own, Penny, is threatened that they kick into high gear, hitting on a solution that they could have posed to Ironwood from the very start if no one liked the fly away plan. Yet instead of taking a few minutes to brainstorm other ideas — doing anything other than denouncing Ironwood to the rest of the group and attacking the Ace Ops — they spent two days sitting around, fixing minor messes they’d helped to create, then rushed through the portal plan, messing up the wish and stranding an entire kingdom in a sandstorm, with only Winter now to protect them from grimm.
Fantastically done, team. 
The villains won, yes, but not because the villains were smart and compelling. Watts' hack on Penny and the heat petered out to nothing and Salem... well, she sat around for the whole volume, expending energy only to torture Oscar and try to (unsuccessfully) stop some escapees. Neo and, miraculously, Cinder did the most damage, but only in the final hour, with this "damage" being that our characters fall into a void that we now know looks remarkably like a paradise! Everything bad that happened was a result of our heroes being stupid and stubborn. That's a compelling story to tell... but RT isn't trying to tell it. Our heroes caused so much damage, yet that damage goes unacknowledged — or worse, ignored into silence like with Ren — and everything else is waved away with the magic wand the series claims isn't there. The cold doesn't kill anyone. Oscar has no problems walking off the torture. Nora hops back out of bed. Ruby one-shots the Hound. The civilians lost to the void must have survived too. The entire kingdom successfully makes it to Vacuo... unless you count the massive army we never saw making use of the portals, but who cares about them, right?
The villains won, there was indeed something resembling consequences, but none of it was emotionally satisfying. Not even when the series tries so hard to insist that emotion is there.
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Qrow watches Atlas fall, mouthing Ruby and Yang's names, but it's too little, too late. Where was this care for his nieces when he was obsessed with killing Ironwood? When did they care about him? Was it when Ruby shrugged at his arrest, when neither cared that he was missing, or when they were designing an escape plan that didn't include putting a portal where Qrow could reach? RWBY markets itself around the found family-ness of its cast, but they're done a poor job in recent volumes (not others) of convincing me that most of these characters care for one another. We went from Ruby denouncing all adults, to Ruby pulling an Ozpin with Ironwood, to Ruby watching blandly as her sister falls to her presumed death. This is my hero? This is the simple soul we're supposed to rally behind? Ruby doesn't feel like a character who cares about other people anymore and, given that she leads the charge, neither do most of her friends. Or, when that emotion appears, it's jarring and undeserved. Jaune cries over Penny's death? That's tonally and characteristically backwards.
This volume was the culmination of so many mistakes over the past two years. No, Covid couldn't have made things any easier for the crew — the fact that they got a volume out at all is amazing — but the pandemic isn't to blame for the problems in the story. These seeds have existed since Volume 5, with some (like Jaune) going back even farther. I don't think we're ever going to get that flawed, but emotionally fulfilling RWBY back. The show has dug too deep and unless it somehow manages to create a clean slate — those time travel ideas get more and more alluring! — there's nothing they can do but keep on digging. At this point, I can only hope that the series does wrap up within the next two volumes, rather than dragging RWBY to a Supernatural-esque length.
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Our final shot of the episode proper feels fitting for what this volume has been. Atlas and Mantle flood rather than exploding, something that makes a certain amount of sense, sure, but definitely wasn't what I was expecting. And after all these shocking images — Penny dying, the grimm attacking, our main characters disappearing in a puff of gold dust — we end it all with bits of random debris. It's strange and underwhelming. Out of everything you could have done with the options you had, you choose to do this?
Of course, RWBY always has an after-credits scene (RIP Raven's, still amounting to nothing). Here, the sounds of water return to show us a beach. Crescent Rose imbedded in the sand, mirroring its classic pose in the snow.  
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There's a tree. It's a very different kind of tree from what we saw in Volume 6, but the height and shape is nevertheless reminiscent of Light's domain.
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A tree of life, anyone? After all, the group has fallen into a dimension created by a Relic, the gift of Light himself. It certainly seems as if RWBY is heading towards another encounter with the Gods, though what that will look like and how narratively satisfying it will be remains to be seen.
As for our bingo board, RWBY certainly pulled its weight! Only three squares got gold stars: Watts and Jacques didn't manage another team up because both are dead, Oscar didn't apologize for getting shot because he was too busy being tortured, and Qrow didn't drink likely because he didn't have access to any alcohol across the whole volume. Can't say that's a stellar result. The final image is something to behold though lol.
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What a mess.
And on that less than exciting note... we’re done. This has been the volume of desertion, with a large number of fans telling me that they will no longer watch RWBY, but baring something entirely unexpected in my future, I'll be back next volume, for whatever that's worth. It never ceases to amaze me that even one person would give these nonsense recaps the time of day, so in all seriousness: thank you for reading. You rock.
Now go forth and fill the hiatus with great RWBY content!
✌️
106 notes · View notes
secondborn-cambion · 2 months ago
What would you do if your brother truly died?
“ ... “
“It’s happened a lot. I’ve ridden the process-of-grieving like a yo-yo. Up and down, up and down. I’m eight years old. My house is on fire. My mother leaves me in a cupboard, praying I don’t burn to go find my brother, and I know, in my heart, Vergil’s dead. The things that attacked us in the house, set fire to it, killed my mother, there’s no way Verg survived that. Not when he’s no bigger than me, skinny and barely steady on his feet. I went through the stages of grief. Shock, denial, pain, guilt, getting madder than hell, and then the depression.
The first time accepting it, that was hard. I was a twin alone in the world. My parents were dead, my twin was missing, and by around, oh .. thirteen or fourteen? I had accepted it.
Then he comes blowing back into my life when I was seventeen, wrapped up like a mummy, doin some evil shit, I yo-yo’d my ass back down to anger. I was so angry. For so fuckin long.. He blows outta my life again, I don’t know if he’s dead, alive, whatever..
And then the tower happened. I was nineteen and a bastard. Mean. I said things I didn’t mean, I did things I’m not proud of. And when Vergil jumped off that cliff, I said to myself .. Fine. Maybe now he can be at peace. He jumped, I took it as a suicide. I hoped it was a suicide. That he didn’t suffer, when he hit. That he didn’t lie there, at the bottom of some cavern, broken. For a little while there, I told myself he became king of hell, after all, and that he was happier down there. But nineteen turned to twenty, and twenty to twenty five and so on. And I accepted that Vergil was dead.
I had that closure.
I was happy, to think that much. That probably makes me the meanest piece of shit in the world, to say I was happy to think that Vergil was dead, because it meant at least Vergil was at peace.
Until that rug was pulled out from under me to, and I had to face the facts. Vergil hadn’t died, he was back, but it would have been so much better if he had. I had to face that for nine years, while I was comforting myself with the notion that he was dead, and at peace, he as having god knows what done to him. Day after day. Year after year. Until it really would have been better if Vergil had died.
I didn’t realize that Nelo Angelo was Vergil until it was too late to save him. Now I couldn’t say that I hadn’t killed him. This time, unlike when I was a kid, and I blamed myself for starting the fight that led to him running off, unlike when I was Tony, and I blamed myself for not realizing it was Gilver before he killed Nell, unlike when I was nineteen years old and stupid and I said, point blank, I’d kill him if I had to, I actually was the one who killed my brother.
That hit me like a ton of bricks. I went home after Mundus, and I think I didn’t say a word for weeks. I took no jobs. I just drank, I just slept, I just sobbed. It took a minute. I got over it.. Took a lot, but I got over. Finding Nero helped. That little bit of closure that Vergil wasn’t gone, that a little part of him lived on. It seems kinda Pollyanna to say it now, but that’s the truth.
.. And just like that, shit happens. Vergil came back. And that yo-yo started all over again. It seemed to be that I just got angry this time. Because he had to come back and I knew, after all the other times, that he’d just leave me again and I’d have to ride that yo-yo and I knew, during that last time Vergil came back, it’d kill me too. I’m older now. A lot older. He’s been back.. What.. two years? The longest he’s been back and with me since we were children. I’m six years shy of fifty.. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t grieve anymore.
My heart can’t take it.
So.. I guess, this is just an old man talkin mad shit about how, if my big brother dies again, leaves me again, just .. throw me in the hole with him. I’m done.”
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iatheia · 3 months ago
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EDA reviews Part 5 - books 38-46
Previous part 1, 2, 3 & 4
38) Casualties of War - a lovely story. In form and in function it is pretty much identical to the previous story, and even reveals pretty much the same info verbatim. The plot is similarly nothing outstanding, from ~5 minutes in you can tell pretty much exactly how it is going to turn out. That said, it has a much better atmosphere than the Burning, and Doctor’s characterization is also much stronger. Nice and relaxing, if a bit gory at times, and veering off towards supernatural by the end. 8/10
39) The Turing Test - Wow, these stories keep getting better and better! It is overwhelming and exuberant. Only a handful of books have even attempted to get anywhere near close into the Doctor’s psyche as this one has. Moreover, it has multiple narrators, and all three have a very different relationship with the Doctor, you get into the different facets of his persona, multiplicity of his character. You have a dashing and breathless romantic whose mere presence sweeps you off your feet, a reckless hero, an enigma, at the same time, there is a rather selfish and cruel streak as well. He is a manipulator, someone who knows more than he should and willing to use this knowledge to achieve his aims, willing to play people against each other and show a side of himself that they would be most accepting to see. It is never to the degree of Seven, this behavior is all Eight through and through, the core of his characters never sways, it’s just viewed through a different lens. The previous novels have established these facets, but more on accident, due to lack of consistency between different writers, picking one and going with it. But this is the first one I feel they were actually explored in full, though, certainly, there will be other stories to tackle this in the future as well (Caerdroia in particular comes to mind). An outstanding story through and through. 10/10
40) Endgame - Hot off the heels of the previous one, another fun story - or, at the very least, something that would have been a gem if it had managed to sustain the energy it had at the beginning. Doctor’s claustrophobia and depression were very poignant, and, as much as I loved Stranded already, it does make me look at that story in a new light with a newer appreciation. And, on top of that - this book is funny, the Doctor evading spy agents with ease is the comedy of errors. That said, in the second half there is too much runamock it’s a bit repetitive, not very well organized, they needlessly cross the ocean so many times, the situation at a given location is resolved the second the Doctor shows up on a scene, and it all ends in deus ex machina. The authors note says that the original draft was submitted unfinished, and boy does it show. Still, I had fun with it. 8/10
41) Father Time - It is hard not to notice though that some of the novels come in pairs (or trios). The Burning and the Casualties of War had a lot of overlap. Turning Test and Endgame were both based on political intrigue. And now, Endgame and Father Time, both feature some mysterious entity that know the Doctor from before, with him not knowing who they are. They are even called similarly, “The Players” and “The Hunters”. When these overlaps are so close to one another, it does rather stick out. This ark is not the first time this happened, obviously, there have been a number of stories before that makes you pause and go “wait, you’ve just done this in the previous book, too”. It’s probably more to do with how quickly the books are released one after another, so as the writers discuss some ideas, they end up being in several places....
That said, the first third of the book had me singing its praises. After going through the five stages of grief, and battling against the depression of the previous novel, the Doctor is finally reaching acceptance of his situation, and possibly nurturing hope for the future. It’s exactly the type of a fluffy story I have a weakness for. But then... you have a time skip, which gets all the pacing torn into shreds. Not only the conclusion of the first part is too abrupt, everything falling into pieces as if by accident, but also, none of the things that happened in the first part (or most of the characters that were introduced) matter for part two. It turns into a chess match play by numbers, moving characters across the board almost without any transition in service of “plot”, without much of consideration for their head space, keeping everyone rather ooc. The change in visuals is very abrupt - it’s hard to accept the Doctor as a millionaire business consultant living in a grand mansion, new family situation or not. It’s not just at odds with his bohemian persona, it also begs a question, if he is so famous, what do the UNIT and Torchwood are doing about it? And also, *sigh*. You have a sixteen year old girl, who, in the previous chapter, just been ten. And you decide to spend the next two chapters on little else than musing how “she hasn’t been interested in sex, even though she is SO HOT”, only to decide that she is interested now, actually. It comes across more than a little fetishistic, and the story continues to follow her around with the male gaze. I’m not here to follow sexual exploits of minors - not in a Doctor Who novel. It is utterly unnecessary, doesn’t add anything of value to the plot, not character driven, and made me lose pretty much all of the good will I had from the first part of the story (and I had a lot of it, because the start of it was basically perfect). In the third part, it just turns into a discount Taken story, somehow managing to lose any cohesiveness and suspension of disbelief, and fizzles out in the end. 4/10
Amnesia watch: #7. It’s a bait and switch - the Doctor was just pretending, but I’m counting it anyway.
42) Escape Velocity - I wonder, how much sponsorship did various fast food places paid for this novel.... 
And we are back with Fitz. I didn’t really say it before, but it was really rather a dick move leaving the Doctor all alone for over a century. I mean, it worked, narratively speaking (more on that later), but, still, in an option between traveling through space & time BUT leaving them alone for that long, without any idea who they are, without any network of support, letting them slowly go mad, only being there for the fun bits, versus staying with them to help them through it all, you are kind of a bad friend. Sure, Compassion was in the driver’s seat, but Fitz didn’t exactly protest all that much, did he? And why 20th century earth? If the conditions for Doctor’s maroonment was that he had to stay somewhere for over 100 years while the TARDIS repaired itself, then any other technologically advanced era that didn’t have two world wars would have sufficed? And, psst, Doctor, your adopted kid has a space armada. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind giving you one ship that would allow you at least space travel, you didn’t have to spend last 11 years on Earth - you could have went traveling, TARIS in tow on that ship, and only checked in at the deadline.
Also, I get it, memory loss is a traumatic experience, and the Doctor isn’t human, and there is a sense of wrongness. But, he has lived on Earth for over 100 years. In that time he had more memories and experiences than any human alive. After a while, this entire thing of “I don’t know who I am” should start wearing a bit thin, don’t you think?
This rant aside, the book is a bit play by numbers. A lot of unnecessary runaround, traveling from London to Brussels and back several times for no particular reason. A rather boring “aliens invading earth” plot that left me checked out for a vast majority of it. Nothing bad about it, but nothing stands out about the plot either. But, it did have several heartfelt emotional scenes - the long awaited reunion, seeing TARDIS interior again, the finale. They were fairly brief, and it’s a bit of a pity they weren’t savored for a bit longer, instead letting the plot get in the way, but the little that was there was nice. 7/10
43) EarthWorld - I was hoping to enjoy this book a bit more than I ended up, I usually am quite fond of Rayner’s works, but I guess it is one of her first books. It’s a bit monotone, landing on the side of quirky, whether it was suited for a scene or not. Also dwelling on the past quite a bit, invoking the imagery of Unearthly Child, War Games, Greatest Show in the Galaxy in a rapid succession, for no specific reason, and then dwelling for quite a long time on several previous novels in a not entirely organic way. Instead of using this as an opportunity so start afresh now that we’re finally back in the TARDIS, it feels like it is focused more than ever on recapping how they got here, especially as the previous novel offered a way out by letting Fitz forget most of the previous “ark”. There were a lot of lovely character moments - but some of it did feel overly gratuitous. Still, it’s a decent book, even if it doesn’t quite reach full marks 8/10.
44) Vanishing Point - Easily the best Steve Cole novel of the ones I’ve ever read and/or listened to. This is the fresh start to the team adventures that I was hoping for. The alien world is interesting, with great worldbuilding (which is actually kind of rare in the novels). A lot of exciting imagery. The characters are a joy to behold. Not just the trio, but the secondary characters too. The first half of the book is basically perfect. It... kind of fizzles out in the second half, never really delivering on its set up in an entirely satisfying way.
A big part of the difficulty of suspending disbelief, though, was Fitz’s leg. I twisted my ankle once. I could barely walk for several days afterwards (so it having happen at a beginning of a trip was Awful), it took months for it to fully heal, and even now it feels more wobbly than the other one. And a colleague of mine ended up getting a special boot, because she keeps twisting her ankle (always the same one). Fitz had twisted his ankle, and then he was shot in the leg. And he is running about mountains and waterfalls almost immediately. 8/10
45) Eater of Wasps - You have to give it to Baxendale, he has a very particular style. Everything described so masterfully you couldn’t help but imagining every single detail, like painting a picture before you. Even though a significant portion of it is body horror that is described exactly as lovingly as the British countryside. Never before has the title been this appropriate. Very careful in setting up the conflict and tension between the protagonists. 10/10
46) The Year of Intelligent Tigers - This story is just nice. Another one with incredible visuals and incredible feelings behind it, exuberant and overwhelming, like a hurricane. The ending is particularly strong. This is peak Eight - a force of nature, alien and unknowable, and yet, you can’t help but being swept off your feet. Stories like this one is exactly why he is the platonic ideal of who the Doctor should be.
Overall impressions so far: This was like a breath of fresh air. The “stuck on Earth all on his own” ark was not only beautifully executed, but it was also badly needed. The last time I was complaining that few novels actually did anything with Eight - he would react to the plot, but never really be affected by anything. And at the heart of it was the issue that the writers, through trial and error, did come to a consensus about who he should be, but rarely took time to actually get into his head - they started out somewhat flat-footedly, and then got swept up in other things. Here, though, they were forced to slow down and focus his undivided attention just on him, what makes him tick if you break him down to the barest essentials - so even after reuniting with the TARDIS and the companions, his portrayal is all the stronger as a result. Rather than merely reacting to the world at large, he is now an active participant.
The companions are great. There is nothing particularly special being given to Fitz to chew upon, but his presence is always welcome, especially with him being as mellow as he has been back in Autumn Mist. What is it about the Doctor that attracts so many companions with an acute case of praise kink, I wonder? Anji is also interesting, and I love seeing what’s being done with her. She slots in perfectly, delivering so sorely missed snark Compassion had in her pre-Shadow of Avalon outings, all the while having a rather unique relationship with the Doctor - acknowledging his eldritch horror moments, being one of the few who does stand up to him. Especially after the last couple of books, I’m curious to see where this goes and how it continues to build.
The books themselves are a significant step up to what was there before, which got pretty joyless for a short while, alternating between mediocre to awful. In this batch, tough? Sure, there are some weaker offerings, but even there there is at least one stand-out scene that makes the book. Even if the plot isn’t exactly the most revolutionary thing in the world, it is being made up with solid character work. Honestly, for any new readers I would recommend just starting with #37 Burning and going from there - at least so far.
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bindi-the-skunk · 3 months ago
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Son of Frankenstein chapter 2
Lost and Found 
Thankfully, Doctor Jekyll had managed to pass out near his sofa and so avoided getting an ugly head injury, though the way his neck bent in the fall when the back of his skull hit the cushions would most likely cause him some discomfort when he woke up.
Frankenstein chuckled and mumbled something under her breath, but was willing to help Lavender get him properly onto the sofa and not just leave him in a scarecrow-like slump on the floor.
Not that the younger woman needed much help, with how skinny the man was, he proved about as hard to move as one of Jaspers pets, but the assistance was appreciated nonetheless and allowed her to not jostle the other too much.
"So, my dear, what caused him to tip like stunned bovine?" Frankenstein smirked, a bit tired from her march to the room, but the funny sight that greeted her more than made up for it.
"Well.." Lavender smiled nervously, as she had not expected Frankenstein to find out about all of this so fast she had wanted doctor Jekyll to tell his honorary auntie himself (how humorous it was for him to call her that earlier and for it to be actually true in a way!) but since he was currently indisposed-
"Is that my photo!?" Victoria suddenly went red from embarrassment or rage, perhaps a mix of both, and went to snatch the picture from the extremofaunic zoologist who just managed to keep it from the older woman's grasp "Did he steal it, thinking he could blackmail me into doing his foolish circus act!?"
"No! He didn't steal anything from you!" Lavender quickly said this was not going how it was supposed to at all, she needed to calm her down before the whole room got trashed! "I took it because I was just curious, that's all, he had nothing to do with my actions, but-"
"But what?!" Victoria nearly screeched, that picture was her personal property! No one had the right to look at it! No one! Not even Creature had seen it!
"I believe your Henry Clerval and Doctor Jekyll are related... they look almost exactly alike! Did Clerval get married before he died? The Doctor said he was adopted so it is not out of the question that-" Lavender started to say as fast as she could get out, only to be cut off by Frankenstein's laughter which was so uproarious she was bent over from the force of the bellows.
"Those two!? Related?! My dear Lavender, I am under the impression you have been inhaling some rather potent fumes from someone's laboratory to think such a thing!" Victoria cackled and was forced to sit in a nearby chair to keep from falling onto her rear.
Lavender went red herself at being laughed at by her idol but, this just strengthened her resolve to get to the bottom of this whole thing "Clerval had NO ONE who he was interested in romantically? Are you sure?"
"The only thing he was interested in was falling for the tourist nonsense in the places we visited, though he was a good caregiver after...certain instances, the only person he ever showed any interest in was-"
Suddenly, the older woman's face went pale, making Lavender reach out with her arms, just in case Frankenstein fell over herself in a faint, the zoologist praying she would not have to deal with two overdramatic swooners in a single day.
Victoria's face was scarily blank, her eyes being the only thing that moved, they darted around as if remembering something she had long since buried deep in her mind that was now being unwelcomingly played before her like a performance on a stage.
Lavender did not register what happened in the next few seconds till she felt two hands on her shoulders and a pair of olive eyes burning into her own.
"How old is he!?" Victoria asked, eyes looking as though they fought back both blinding rage and unimaginable grief.
Lavender was confused at the weird question but managed to open her mouth to give an answer "T-thirty-five"
Was all the scientist managed to get out before she was released from the surprisingly strong grip and the older woman wandered to the other side of the room mumbling to herself, of which the other strained to hear.
"It fits...that time...I had forgotten it all through these decades...I thought it died...how would...could I make the same mistake twice?!" Frankenstein whisper shouted as her gloved hands dug into her scalp, making her hair even messier "I-I have to think...do not tell him anything when he wakes up! I will tell him...send him to my room the moment he wakes!"
And with that, Victoria left the room in a rush, leaving a very confused Lavender and a still unconscious Jekyll behind to wonder what on God's good earth just happened.
That did not go very well, did it? Did it? Did not seem to.
--- Come on, please wake up soon, you have to go meet Frankenstein! This is no time to sleep! Too much to learn! So much to do!
Should she be concerned? He had been out of consciousness for at least twenty minutes...fainting only lasted a few seconds or a couple of minutes, or that is what all the medical books said, perhaps it was because he still was not sleeping very well? And his body was forcing him to remain asleep to recover?
Perhaps she could try waking Jekyll up? Would that cause more harm than good? She needed to get him up and moving, so they could go see Frankenstein so she could explain things to him!
What had Frankenstein meant by her mumblings? Thought it died? Same mistake twice? That sounded like she was his-
Oh, goodness...
Could it be?
She really had to know now! If they were truly...mother and son, this changed everything! To think they all would be able to learn what happened between the lines of The Modern Prometheus!
Did this technically make Jekyll, Creature's baby brother? Did Frankenstein use some of her DNA in Creatures...well...creation? If so, that would make them siblings in a way, this was so exciting! Perhaps it would give Creature a bit of joy learning he had a sibling of sorts.
She could not wait to tell the others! She was the first to learn about this mind-blowing news! Everyone would be so jealous! Tee Hee!
Lavender hated waiting! She hoped Frankenstein would return, having chosen to not wait for her son to go to her, or doctor Jekyll would wake up and be able to make his way there!
Her face split into a grin when she heard a groan come from the sofa, finally!
Now play it calm, Lavender! Don't make him think something is wrong. --
Jekyll rubbed the back of his head, which was throbbing uncomfortably, thankfully Hyde was still licking his wounds in their mind space from his dressing down at Queen Lucy's hands, so he was too deep inside to cause his type of bother at the moment, small mercies, but he was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, not when it involved some peace and quiet.
A glass was suddenly shoved under the split man's nose, and a dainty hand producing two white pills a moment later.
"Here you are, Doctor Jekyll! You took a bad tumble there, I was starting to get worried" Lavender smiled, hoping she looked friendly and not suspicious, glad when the pills and water were accepted and taken with no complaints.
"I must have passed out, I'm sure something to eat will help," Henry said, getting to his feet, more than happy when the pills proved fast-acting on his headache, though the lack of food in his stomach was making the ache go from his head to his belly.
But he was no stranger to that feeling, did not make it any more fun though, some toast should do the trick and it would make dealing with his problematic guest a little less like pulling the teeth of an ancient horror.
"I'll get it! You need to go see Frankenstein right now!" Lavender responded a bit too quickly and earned a quirked eyebrow in response.
"I already gave her the medical potion today, is there something that has gone wrong?" Jekyll asked, noting the woman's smile was just a bit too wide, reminding him of poor Jaspers attempt at a gentleman's smile.
"Oh, Nononono! Nothing is wrong at all! You will find things very, very RIGHT in fact!" Lavender smiled wider and started to push the doctor towards the door which he allowed in too much confusion to object. "Now go up there! And I will bring you both something! I'm sure Rachel will be more than happy to make tea and biscuits for this!" and with a whirl of her skirts, the Leviathan lover disappeared into the halls.
Jekyll was admittedly suspicious but shrugged off the feeling of dread pooling in his gut, not like a sleepy old woman could do too much damage, right? He would stay out of arms reach and listen to what Frankenstein had to say to him, hopefully, it was not just a ploy to call him a slut again...
There was not enough soap in the world to wash that mouth out! Not that he would ever try to do the deed, he liked having all his fingers, and getting them bitten off was a less than pleasant idea.
Taking a deep breath, he headed for the attic space and slapping yet another smile on his face, this one being a bit more convincing after his pseudo-nap, got to keep up appearances, even for Frankenstein and as much as he did not want to.
He still hoped, in his heart, she would change her mind, take part in the exhibition, convince the rest of the lodgers to join back in, they needed all the help they could get! If this failed...well he knew where Queen Lucy lived now and that Rachel was related...no! no! Bad idea! He would not ask a favor from her!
But if it came down to it and they both had very similar motivations, he was not proud enough at this point not to beg, he did say he would die for science, but would he go to a known thief for it?
Yes, Yes he would do that, in a heartbeat, if that is what it took to not see his life's work be destroyed, to see everything he put blood, sweat, and tears into building, go up in smoke, to prove those who doubted him right, to have his dreams spit on...mocked...
No!
Don't think about that! Don't think that way, not yet, you're not in that pit of despair just yet, keep your head up and a smile on your face, things will work out fine! Just fine, even better than expected even, he just had to do a bit more convincing, perhaps this conversation was the key to the exhibition's success!
The door creaked as Henry opened it and stepped inside, ignoring the urge to wrinkle his nose at the sight of random things littering the floor and the smell of an unbathed life-weaver hitting his nasal cavity like an uncontrolled carriage.
Frankenstein, much to his surprise, was sitting quietly, hands resting in an almost lady-like manner on her lap! she even looked up and smiled at him! And it was not a cold smirk or a disgusted sneer, an actual soft smile, at him of all people! Jekyll was not sure if he should be happy, or disturbed...
What magic spell did Lavender cast on Frankenstein!? He wanted to know it immediately!
Victoria scooted over and patted the now clear space on the bed, signaling for him to sit next to her, and reached out with her other hand in an almost comforting manner.
"Come here, my boy, we have much to talk about,"
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sugaukai · 3 months ago
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//Sal’s Introduction//
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═════Sal's point of view═════
I watched the newcomer tied to my chair as she squirmed around. She had a leather mask to cover her identity. She was spread and tightened on the sex chair in front of me. The camera was rolling and my hand was roaming around her thighs. My other hand has a black whip which roamed around her chest. She was really squeamish and you could tell she was only new. I fucking hate when they recommend new comers on the show. Men regularly behave much better for me, but I have a majority of men on my show and wanted to switch up on views and bring women on my show.
I pulled on the chain that connected her two nipples together as she let out a promising moan, but her chains still jangled and moved , this could lead her to hurt herself. I tried to train her in before we did this and ask was she was okay, she insisted she was okay with all of this.
"five more minutes and its over" I thought to myself as I changed the setting of the vibrator which was in her asshole, you moved and unzipped the leather mask what was near her mouth as I slid my dick into her mouth.
This was getting too much views for my liking. It was not in the slightest entertaining. She was bratty and not in a good way and obviously did not know what she signed herself up for. But since it is different to the other content for the other people in his audience since it was a different body, different gender, it is going to be hyped up. I slammed my dick into her mouth as she continued to take it in as best she could. I give her kudos for that I must admit.
The rest of the stream was her squirting into the camera and overstimulating herself until she was not able to do anything no longer. She did not finish me off but I will not complain. She did what she could do, I guess.
I stroked my cock for the end of the stream, trying to finish myself as I read comments, mainly asking why I wear a suit in my streams and not usually naked. I never answer to that honestly. Well, I am right in saying it is a gimmick but I have a few noticeable tattoo's on my arms that I cannot properly cover myself .
Still didn't finish. Fuck.
I thought about the phone call I got from the person earlier and decided to look the account up. Cindy was right. The account is up and rising and it is only active 7 months! It took me years to get to my status and wealth and fame and here Cindy is and her most popular video is very recent , only by a couple of months. It was her and another guy...degrading her and her being totally submissive... a good little slut you could say. She did not do anything as extreme as you tend to do on my show but could I possibly give an ignorant brat a chance.
I pulled my mask off and undressed into sweats, putting my hair back so it would not be in my face, I sat down and played the stream from the beginning, sliding my dick out of my sweats and began to examine how they preformed. They were perfect for each other. I did not know of their relations but it looked tense, but in an animated way.
I got through 6 minutes of the stream.
It lasted the guts of half an hour. She looks like she could do well. Fuck, she is doing well for herself , no wonder she is getting the views. But the man. He really knew what she wanted and how she liked it . She did what she was suppose to do and was good with her mouth. Maybe I should call Cindy. Who knows, if this works out maybe she can appear singularly on my stream if she is as promising as she looks
I pulled my pants back up and grabbed my cigarette box , going out the back garden to try get back in contact with Cindy.
It took her 2 tries until she answered , the first thing you could hear from the phone was a gasp. There was no response , I sighed in agitation and finally the words came out of my mouth.
'I'm in'
═════Second Person Again═════
You were in disbelief when you heard the words come out of his mouth. Speechless as you were you had to respond at some stage. You smirked and took a deep breath. 'Looks like daddy got back into his senses , huh?' you purred as he laughs slightly, pulling a drag from his cigarettes.
'Better watch your mouth before I fix it and I am probably sure that you see what I do to people.' He murmurs and sighs because of the little giggle you left out. Daishou and Semi were in the dark on who she was talking to, they thought it was a client as you called them daddy. They went back to arguing about high school and  mostly on slandering Kuroo.
'Sweetheart, when do you plan on doing this? I'm free except Thursdays from 9 pm to 11- but you probably already knew that' Sal replied with a laugh as you groaned in grief on the phone.
"You're not going to be a dick when you're here, right. I stream Tuesdays nights, use to be in Thursdays but I have stopped? That boy I was with before will fuck you over with his skills. Oh , by the way that guy is really the only one to call me those names, I'm y/n' you beamed as Sal responded .
'He is impressive , I must say. I saw that stream, I hope to see if he's is there. He seems like he is the only person to control you without acting' he murmured and you laughed slightly.
Since it was on speaker, Semi heard and went a bright pink, feeling now scared that he is literally going to be fucking the person he likes in front of fucking professionals...and they are say he is impressive? All he wants to do is please you and hope you will grant him some sort of recognition for it. Sure, just sex is amazing for him too, but feelings are not so fantastic, even if he has them, he knows you would not return them
"Tuesday is perfect, I'll be there ... and please, since you said your name , y/n , use mine'
'Call me Ukai' he murmurs as he takes another drag out of his cancer stick
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ayanna-wild · 3 months ago
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Acceptance
Word Count: 1278
Pairings: Lucifer Morningstar x Reader
Warnings: angst, fluff
A/N: Request from anonymous
Summary: You should have believed him, he'd be honest from the start. However, it'd just seemed to unbelievable, too insane. But then you saw his face, his 'other' face and you knew. Now you were just going through the various stages of acceptance, and Lucifer's waiting very patiently, if not a bit apprehensivly, for you decide if you still want him in your life or not.
Only there seemed to be a misunderstanding, and the situation isn't exactly what he'd thought.
..................................................................................
You didn't know what to do at first.
Didn't know how to react or even how to process what you'd witnessed, when you'd walked into Lucifer's penthouse unannounced. That wasn't the issue though, both you and the handsome devil had a tendency to show up at one another's home unannounced, it was part of your dynamic. However, this time, just this once, seemed to be the worst time to walk in without warning.
He and Maze had been arguing, fighting over something you couldn't care to remember right now. Neither of them had seen you, and they probably wouldn't have, if you hadn't made a little squeak of a noise. It was all you could muster, your body stiff and frozen. Because it wasn't the fight, or their shouting. It was Lucifer's face, the distorted image, the burned and scarred skin.
The flash of his eyes.
The realization that'd he'd been telling the truth this whole time. Really though, why had you doubted it in the first place? He'd never lied to you before.
You were vaguely aware of him calling out your name as you backed into the elevator. Yet, you felt too numb to respond, choosing instead to lean heavily on the wall for support as the elevator doors closed.
You were in denial the entire drive back to your home. Your phone on silent and your head filled with thoughts you couldn't process. The car drifted off the road a few times as you zoned out, but you'd made it home relatively unscathed.
A flurry of thoughts and feelings went through you.
What was the best course of action? How did you even respond to such a situation? What happened now?
Unsure of where to begin, you locked your doors and went to bed, choosing instead to deal with it tomorrow.
~
As it turned out, the stages of acceptance was the same as the five stages of grief. You'd had denial. It consisted mostly of you staying in bed, sleeping and adamantly refusing to acknowledge what you'd seen.
Because it couldn't possibly be real right?
Once you had passed denial you moved onto anger.
You'd broken many things, screamed until your throat was raw, although the anger was more directed towards yourself than Lucifer.
After thoroughly screaming your throat raw, and breaking a few too many things you began to bargain with yourself.
You thought maybe it had all been a bad dream. Or perhaps you had just been incredibly drunk, despite the fact you hadn't been drinking. You tried to negotiate with yourself, which only served to make you feel crazy, which certainly didn't help the situation.
Now you were on depression, sitting on your couch, staring at the TV with eyes that burned from hours of crying. You supposed anger and depression went hand in hand, because while you were crying, you were also furious with yourself.
You'd left him!
You hadn’t even given him a chance to explain, and what's worse, you'd ignored him for the last two weeks. Once you had turned your phone back on, you were met with a barrage of missed calls and unread texts. Which in turn only served to make you more depressed. You didn't even want to move from the couch now, content to just sit there and cry for the next few days.
But there was a knock at your door.
Convincing yourself to stand wasn't easy, and when you saw who was on the side of the door, convincing yourself to open it was even harder. But you did, because it was Lucifer, and even after everything, you couldn't bear to turn him away. He looked so surprised and hopeful that it broke your heart.
"Oh love, you've been crying..." He frowned.
Wordlessly you stepped aside, vaguely waving him in. He seemed surprised but stepped over the threshold before you could change your mind, you carefully closed the door behind him. He stood there awkwardly for a few tense minutes before finally speaking once realizing you weren't going to.
"I'm sorry."
You furrowed your eyebrows, why was he apologizing?
"I never meant for you to find out that way, or ever really. Although I suppose it's not very fair that I never planned on showing you the truth."
Realization dawned on you, and you couldn't help but laugh lightly, causing a look of confusion and hurt to flash across his face.
"I'm sorry for laughing Luc, it's just... you think I'm crying because of your devil face?"
His confusion deepened, and he shifted from one foot to the other.
"Well yes, it is a perfectly reasonable response, one of many actually."
You gave him a tired smile.
"I'm sure it is, but I'm not crying over that, I'm crying because I thought I hurt you, I did hurt you."
Lucifer was silent for a moment, before clearing his throat.
"I'm not sure if I follow darling, are you not scared of me?" The way he asked was almost timid, and it broke your heart a bit.
"Of course not, I was never scared of you Lucifer."
"You ran." He pointed out, a bit bitterly.
You stepped closer to him, grabbing his hands in yours.
"Yes, but it wasn't because of you, not exactly. I was shocked to see your devil face, I'll admit I had trouble processing it at first, but I was never scared of you. My whole life just got turned upside down when I realized, if you're actually the devil, then so many other things must be real."
Lucifer looked at you surprised, and you stepped away from him, pacing slightly as you rambled on.
"I mean heaven, hell. If those are real, then who's to say so many other things aren't, and if they are how do they fit in to all this, and how haven’t I noticed before. I mean could magic be real? What about other supernatural creatures? If there are angels and demons there must be more right?"
Lucifer stared at you in awe as you ranted, occasionally looking towards him as you made some wild motion with your hands. The more you talked, the more he began to smile, until finally he was laughing. A deep laugh that shook his chest and brought your words to a halt.
It was your turn to look confused, and he walked over to you, pulling you into his arms, as his laughter died down to a chuckle.
"And all this time I'd assumed the worst, when really, all you were doing was processing the drastic change in your life."
You relaxed in his hold, wrapping your arms around his waist as he rested his chin on the top of your head.
"I could never be scared of you Luci, you may be the devil, and your other face may have shocked me, but you're still Lucifer, you're still the same man you've always been, still my handsome devil, and I still love you just the same."
He smiled, a content, happy smile, and he pulled away to kiss your forehead, lips lingering against your skin.
"I love you too darling, father knows I truly don't deserve you." You smiled back, reaching up to fix his collar, before your eyes widened.
"Oh my god, God is real."
Lucifer pulled you back into his embrace, chest rumbling with laughter as he held you closely.
"What am I going to do with you my dear?"
As you reached the final stage, acceptance, your laughter joined in with his, and you decided, this is exactly where you wanted to be. Wrapped in the embrace of the man, or rather devil, you loved.
..................................................................................
Tag List: @sallyp-53 @mizzezm @adira-secrets @we-are-all-alittle-strange-here @gingernarwal @im-just-along-for-the-ride @lifeshortbro @measure-in-pain @emiwrites3reads @awesome-badass-cafeteria-sauce @kelly-n-russell @aiofheavenandhell @beththedemonhunter
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bondsmagii · 3 months ago
Text
Here’s something I really can’t explain.
To sum up: I shouldn’t be alive right now. I shouldn’t be writing this. I have no idea how any of this could have happened, but the fact you’re reading this now is kind of living proof that it did happen, so I suppose I’ll try and explain it as best as I can.
A little backstory for you. Way back in the late forties, my great-grandfather was a young man working with the local fire department. He came back after the war and just couldn’t settle into any kind of desk job, so despite my great-grandmother worrying about his mental state he ended up running into burning buildings for a living. Naturally he saw some messed up shit, but nothing haunted him more than a hotel fire that he attended.
At the time there had been an annual prize night for a local grammar school. Hundreds of kids and their families were crammed into the hotel’s large ballroom when a stray match lit up the curtains on the stage. Back in the day they weren’t exactly great about fire safety, and the walls and furniture were panelled or made with highly flammable materials. The whole room went up in minutes. Over one hundred people died, over half of which were children below the age of fifteen. It was an indescribable tragedy, and my great-grandfather – along with every first responder there – was scarred for life over the things he saw that evening.
My great-grandfather did his best to live with what happened, and for the most part he did well, all things considered. All of his grief seemed to be directed towards one little girl, who was never identified or claimed. She was badly burned but not unrecognisable; the theory was that her whole family had died with her, leaving nobody left to notice she was gone. She wasn’t the only person to suffer this fate, unfortunately – all told, five people were never claimed by families – but because my great-grandfather was the one to pull her body from the wreckage, he sort of became obsessed with her. He was preoccupied until his death with finding out her identity, and every year on the anniversary of the fire he visited her grave to lay a wreath. Unfortunately, he died without ever finding out who she was.
Fast forward a few decades, and I’m in my early twenties. My great-grandfather died when I was quite young, so I only had a small idea of this part of his history. It was, however, enough to make me wary of large fires – especially hotel fires. One summer, I’m visiting another city for my younger brother’s university graduation, and I stay the night in a hotel near the city centre. I remember fires were on my mind already, because initially they had tried to give me a room on the twenty-third floor, and I had politely refused and requested a lower floor. (An old maxim of my great-grandfather’s: never stay on a floor where you wouldn’t survive the fall.) Because of the graduation, the hotel was packed, and I ended up on the fifth floor in the end, but I figured it was better than nothing.
The first night was fine. The second night a fire broke out. The hotel had had some electrical rewiring done within the last month, and something went wrong. The fire smouldered for hours, undetected, before spreading into multiple parts of the ventilation system. Smoke and flame was pushed to all corners of the hotel before the fire cut out the power. Later, investigators would discover that the fire burned through the power for the smoke and fire detection alarms almost immediately – yet somehow the fire alarms went off. This is only the beginning of the inexplicable that night.
By the time the alarms woke me, my room was already filled with smoke. I had been drilled on this so many times as a child that it was instinctive for me to roll off the bed and onto the floor; only then did I start to panic. Luckily I had fallen asleep with the curtains open – the only time I had ever done that in a hotel – and the city lights illuminated the room enough to let me know the smoke was only in the top two thirds of the room, and not as thick as it could have been. I had time to crawl into the bathroom, wet a towel, and tie it around my nose and mouth. Then I crawled to the door and lay a hand flat on it. The door was cool, so I cautiously pulled it open.
In the hallway, it was pitch dark. This is the worst case scenario for any fire. Smoke disorientates people, and they feel ill from inhaling it. Panic compounds the confusion. People can get lost in their own homes – hotels are the worst place for something like this. People stand little chance of getting out if they haven’t memorised an exit, and even then it’s not foolproof. I should know. I always memorise exits, but when I went out of my room I turned the wrong way. I don’t know why. I was panicking, I was confused, and I just made the wrong choice. It should have cost me my life.
I realised my mistake as soon as I reached the end of the hall. The door there was propped open (fire safety hazard, I remember thinking, like it mattered at that point) but I could see no flames. The door led to the stairwell, and I had just crawled out onto it when the entire world went black. The smoke and flame had intensified, the fire sucking in oxygen and the smoke being forced up the stairwell like a huge chimney. It spilled over the edges of the landing and enveloped me even hunched on my hands and knees. My eyes began to sting and water; I couldn’t see anything. I crawled back and bumped into the wall, and for several long seconds that felt like minutes, I couldn’t find my way out of the stairwell. The heat was evaporating the water in the towel, and the sheer amount of smoke meant it wasn’t doing much good anyway. By the time I finally made it back out into the hall, I was coughing and choking. Panic made me pull the towel down. I only took the smallest breath before the floor tilted under me and I experienced a horrible rush of lightheadedness – with smoke so toxic, sometimes a breath is all it takes.
I kept crawling, heading back towards my room, now realising my mistake. At that point I was forcing myself to stay calm, but it wasn’t working. I had realised I had probably just gotten myself killed, and it was almost impossible to breathe. The temperature was climbing, and I knew the fire was close. I could hear screaming from somewhere nearby, doors slamming. Every single rational thought had left. I scrambled down the hallway in pure panic, and then I saw the child.
She was hunched down, looking right at me. She wasn’t in any kind of night clothing – she looked like she was still in the clothing she would have worn at the graduation ceremony, a neat little dress and polished shoes, a ribbon tied in her hair. She was perhaps eight years old at my best guess, and seeing her shocked some sense into me. Before I could speak or gesture to the direction she should go, she waved and then pointed.
“Come on, mister,” she said. “This way.”
Together we crawled to the other end of the hallway. Smoke was billowing from that stairwell, too, thick and dark though still not as bad as the other one. Either way it didn’t look good, but the little girl didn’t seem concerned – not even when we crawled out onto the landing, and the orange flicker of flames was visible several floors below.
“No,” I said. “It’ll be too hot.”
“Come on, mister,” she said again.
She began scrambling down the stairs, staying as low as possible. I could hardly leave her, so I followed.
The heat was unbearable, and by the time we were on the floor below, visibility was zero. The smoke was so thick and black that even the flicker of the flames had vanished; the only way I knew how close they were was from the heat and the deafening roar of it. Have you ever been near to a large bonfire? Have you heard how loudly it crackles? That’s nothing. Big fires, they roar. They sound closer to a freight train, a tornado. It’s a sound so loud that it sets off a primal kind of terror, even without the heat and the smoke to add to the danger. What I’m saying is that it’s something that’s very difficult to crawl towards, yet there we were.
I couldn’t see the little girl, but every time I began to panic she would reach back and touch me. The heat grew and I could smell my hair burning, my clothing threatening to catch. The floor was excruciating, and while I didn’t realise it at the time, I was in the process of receiving third degree burns on my hands and knees from the floor alone. I felt faint, the heat making my head pound. It seemed to drain my of my energy, and during those last seconds – as we passed directly past the floor where the inferno was at its worst – I was sure I was running only on pure animal instinct to get away.
Then we descended into the hallway below the fire, and it was all gone. The heat lingered, but it was nothing compared to what it was before. The smoke was hazy grey, high up by the ceiling. The little girl was tugging at me, and I realised I’d collapsed to the ground.
“Quickly, mister!” she said now. “Not far!”
In my pain and confusion, it didn’t occur to me that she wasn’t burned; that she had no difficulty breathing. She tugged hard at my clothing, and while I didn’t know that my clothing was alight at the time, later I remembered and wondered how she had done it. With her prompting and encouragement I made it down the last of the stairs and out into the hotel’s lobby, which was shockingly untouched. Alarms were blaring, but the room was free of smoke and many of the hotel’s employees remained there, grabbing people as they emerged, coughing, from stairwells and hurrying them outside. When I stumbled into the lobby I was immediately tackled by several employees who were, I was later told, beating the flames from me. I had stumbled into the lobby on fire.
I don’t remember anything else. I didn’t have time to mention the girl. I passed out, and was kept in a medically induced coma while my body recovered from serious burns. I very nearly didn’t make it, and when I awoke I had several months of painful operations and skin grafts to go. My hands were badly burned, though the doctors managed to save nearly all my fingers – I’m only missing the little fingers to the first knuckle, and while the scarring is bad I can use the hands well. My knees are badly scarred but functional. My back isn’t pretty to look at, but it doesn’t bother me now, not outside of itching in the heat. I forgot about the girl until just before I was released from hospital, five months later, but to my relief I was told that no children had died in the fire. Whoever she was, she had gotten out safe.
Almost a year later, my grandfather died. He was the son of my firefighter great-grandfather, and when my own father and I were around his house, sorting through his things, we came across some of my great-grandfather’s stuff. Medals, a few old photographs of the family, some letters. My father and I went through the pictures, my father pointing out relatives and telling a few stories here and there. What you would expect from such an occasion, really – but then I found an old picture of a little girl.
I recognised her immediately as the little girl I had seen in the hotel – there was no denying it. The picture was an unpleasant one, taken post-mortem, and while half of her body was badly charred the other half looked as though she could be sleeping. Her hair was the same, the bow singed but present. The dress was the same. I could even still hear how she sounded. Come on, mister! I was so shocked I didn’t say anything. My father looked at it for a long moment, and then he gave a sad sigh.
“I wish he had found out who she was,” he said. “That haunted him. He felt like he failed her.” He took the photo from me and looked a little more closely at it. “Nonsense, of course. He did everything for that little girl. I’m sure she would thank him if she could.”
She did, I thought. She did.
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amphora-helia · 3 months ago
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they call me pauper when i’m a prince
He drove Taffy. Because he always drove Taffy, everywhere her rich self went. He couldn’t wait for the day he had his own driver.
____________________________________________________________________
His mentor brought him to the hovercraft. But it wasn’t really his mentor was it? It was someone assigned to the Capitol, someone who didn’t understand the Capitol. Someone who thought Malach was made of diamonds and yet the softest object known to man. Someone who didn’t know them. 
Malach left the mentor with a cordial nod and generic, polite words of farewell.
____________________________________________________________________
They were all lined up. A prick of their finger, and then directed to the proper portion of the herd. As he walked, he wondered if anyone there recognized him. He’d switched schools when he moved, but that was even a few years ago now. When he glanced around, he saw no one turning their head. 
Did he even exist? 
Not to most of them, but he’d known that for some time. He’d had no place in society when his family fell from grace. He’d have to claw his way back to the top, that was something he’d always knew. Climbing a rope? That was nothing to a man whose strengths had always lied in his pure strength. Climbing society? It took something more. Something grittier to be hidden under powder and extravagantly colored polish. He wanted to be hidden underneath it all.
Malach feared little more than his true self on display.
____________________________________________________________________
Malach wished Taffy was his stylist. He didn’t actually know if they were friends, if he even liked her. He remembered his first days with her. Her father’s funeral, and going somewhere quiet after. Meanwhile, her family put on a display of grief.
He wanted to put on a display of grief. He grieved, daily, for his lost life. So did his parents. They were not meant for such a low position in life. Their hands were too soft and their minds too fanciful. But Malach used to run in their home and poke their succulents until he bled and lose his breath racing in the schoolyard. Maybe he was more inclined for the life his family now had, but he didn’t want it.
What he wished for, what he wanted, it didn’t always come to fruition. Taffy was not his stylist, and so a complete stranger even more than the complete stranger she was bade him his final farewell on his way up the tube.
____________________________________________________________________
It was time to be on display.
He worried that his voice might not be loud enough in the crowd. He worried, he worried, he worried, until his hands were wringing together and a boy’s name was called. His sweat was making his fingers slip past each other until he wasn’t sure which fingers belonged to which hand. Someone else’s name was called. Someone else. Not him. He could stay there, in the crowd, and not raise his hand. He could train for a little while longer.
“Malach, don’t tell your mother just yet, but I lost my job. Let’s have a drink first, okay?”
He twisted his clammy hands and suddenly all five fingers of his right hand were in the air. It felt like he might’ve thrown his shoulder right out of its socket when they went up with the momentum, but there was little that could be done to address it. The greedy hands of Capitolites who wanted to see anyone but them die shoved him forward. He was on stage. He was introduced. He was holding hands with someone he didn’t recognize and he was bowing. He was walking toward a building he barely recognized through these brand new blurry eyes of a tribute until he was face to face with his parents.
They said nothing.
He said nothing.
For five minutes, they stood in silence staring at each other.
Nothing needed to be spoken, though. It was, for once in his life, not an awkward silence. It was hopeful, proud. They saw in their son what they did not see in themselves. They wondered where their son came from. They believed he could do better. He knew he could do better. 
They let the crown fall from their heads.
He was here to take it back.
____________________________________________________________________
The countdown began. He hadn’t even had time to consider if he was claustrophobic before he was there, crouched on his podium.
He was ready.
Or was he?
"Ten.”
His eyes darted around. He saw what was obviously the Cornucopia, and some strange buildings that tugged at his memory.
“Nine.”
What was the word? The word for this place? It was something in his youth. His youth? He was twenty, he was still in his youth, wasn’t he? No, no, the greed took that away from him.
“Eight.”
A park? No, idiot, think clearer, think harder.
“Seven.”
What was that sound? Why did it sound so familiar? No, it’s not actually familiar. It’s from a memory.
“Six.”
Now is not the time for memories. It’s time for the now.
“Five.”
Five years. Training for five years. He wasn’t some idiot, some flustering fool that got reaped in the latest designer clothes. He was Reaped in his chauffeur uniform, because he had to work. He had to work for all of this. He had to work for five years just to raise his hand! 
“Four.”
A zoo.
“Three.”
A zoo?
“Two.”
A zoo.
“One.”
Survive.
And keep your head up.
No one likes a tilted crown. 
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irisidanoorcastille · 4 months ago
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Marvel oneshots
Older sister x Peter Parker | PROM
Summary: Iris, being Peter’s older sister, takes him to prom after being rejected by MJ only for him to find his true love. 
Word count: 2.3k
MASTERLIST
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It was tough being an avenger. Of course Peter knew that when he joined but knowing was way different than actually doing. 
It was a day before junior prom, the day he’d marked out in his calendar as the day he would finally ask MJ to be his date. All was going good up until he received a call about a sudden mission the team was to go on. 
“We need you now kid!” Tony screamed over the phone. Peter wanted to tell him that he wouldn’t be able to make it, that if he didn’t choose his personal life today, he might never be able to again. But he couldn’t. The rest of them had commitments too, but that didn’t stop them from sacrificing everything just to keep the rest of the world safe. Plus he was sure MJ liked him back, he figured she’d wait. And so he went on the mission. 
———————————————-
“Parker and Iris will cover the backside of the building. The fire web combination you guys did last time was too destructive but maybe that’s exactly what we need today.” Steve said as Peter turned his attention to the lady in a white suit. 
Iris had decided that she was Peter’s older sister the day she saw him. She wanted to protect him like Thor and Loki did her. She lifted a hand up towards him when he shuffled across the plane to sit next to her but he showed no response. 
“So the floor’s more important than giving me a high-five now?” 
Peter was lifted out of his daze. He rubbed his eyes, adjusting to the light in the jet in exchange to the floor. He let out a forced laugh, trying to make himself feel better. He was on a mission but all he could think about was how happy MJ would be about him finally asking her out.  
Iris knew exactly what was up with him the second she looked into his eyes. Part of it was her intuition and experience with first loves gone wrong and the other was the power of staring into souls she got from her father. She was a god, sister of Thor and Loki, daughter of Odin, oh so very powerful but she still didn’t know how fix the young man’s problem. 
—————————————
The mission went rather well or so the rest of the team would say, but Thor’s screaming cries begged to differ. The exit strategy didn’t go as Cap had planned. Peter was supposed to web the end of the building up and Iris was supposed to set it on fire. The others would have exited through the side of the building, safe away from the fire, only Loki hadn’t played a prank on Thor for the longest time now. 
Thor was the strongest avenger, thus exiting at the end, making sure everyone was out first, when he heard Loki screaming. It was almost instinct, the speed at which he approached the back of the building. The screaming grew louder as he got closer, getting faster by the second. He could finally see Loki now, a spear through his abdomen. Thor was convinced Loki was hurting yet right before he could reach the wall, Loki disappeared. It all happened so quick. One second Thor was traveling by the speed of light, the other the Mjolnir didn’t want to stop. Before he could process what was happening, he was already through the wall, on the other side of which Iris was setting Peter’s web on fire. He screamed the second he felt the heat on his head, his hair now starting to burn. Peter through a web around Thor, pulling him out. 
——————————————
“How could you do this Loki?” Thor screamed at the black haired prankster. 
His hair was burning even after the Peter pulled him out. The rest of the team was on the quinjet and the only thing Iris had to her was more fire. There was nothing more that could’ve been done and so Peter had to chop the hair off his head with the rather blunt pocket knife he had, cutting off way more than Thor’s poor heart could tolerate. 
The team felt bad, sure, but smiles threatened to show on their lips with every scream Thor let out. 
“It’s just hair, Thor, it’ll grow back.” Loki said, shutting up right away when Thor stared him down.
“I can’t even use the strawberry smelling liquid Iris brought that I was supposed to rub in my hair. It would’ve smelt like a garden.”
All the attention was on Iris now. She couldn’t hold it in for longer and let out a small laugh, diffusing the tension. Thor just stared at himself in the mirror and then back at Loki, getting ready to send him back to Asgard. 
“I mean I think it looks kinda nice.” Natasha said, and the whole plane went silent.
“Natasha? Complimenting someone willingly? To make them feel better about themself? 
Maybe the team should be getting accidental haircuts more often.” Tony remarked. Everyone was laughing now, even Thor. Everyone except for Peter that is. 
He was more upset than Iris could take. She was ready to take him to MJ to make sure that he went to prom with her. And so she took his hand and and asked Friday to open the evacuation port. Everyone looked at her questioningly but no one dared to ask her. She told Peter that they were going to go get his girl and that if he dropped her on the way there, she would kill him.
Iris and Peter jumped from the plane directly over Queens. There would be enough buildings for Peter to latch onto making up for the fact that they jumped without a parachute. They were in the city now, Peter holding Iris close, swinging over buildings, making his way to Mj’s apartment. He was standing inside an alley, changing out of his suit making sure nobody else saw him. Iris ran to buy flowers and chocolates from the bakery across the street, while Peter rehearsed his lines. 
She returned almost immediately but before she could speak Peter held his hand up, actioning her to stop talking. She didn't know what to say to him when she saw MJ walking down the street with Jason. She wanted to tell Peter that it was okay and that they weren't actually sure whether she had agreed to go to prom with him. But she knew exactly what was going on. It was like what happened years ago with Steve when she saw him walking down the road with Peggy latched onto his arms.
MJ ran towards the door the second she saw them getting excited and telling Peter how Jason had taken her to the top of Empire State building just to ask her to prom. It was fun she said, not knowing how much it killed Peter to know that he hadn't gotten a chance to ask her first, but he was brave and so he said that he was happy for her and then told Iris that they should leave.
When they returned to Stark Tower, everyone was celebrating the success they'd incurred tonight. It was their fiftieth mission, fiftieth success if you will. Iris knew he was upset, but she also knew that maybe she should leave him alone for a while. 
————————————————
The team was watching a movie next day when Iris came down to join them. She’d been out all day, thinking of ways to make Peter feel better. She’d just sat down when she saw Peter standing out in the balcony. She wanted to understand that it was good to hurt sometimes, that it taught you the power of love but she was over the weak person facade. She went outside, less to talk and more to order him around. 
“I’m tired of you being all sappy, Parker. You can’t just stand here like this and miss out on one of the highlights of your high school career.” She said in a calm but aggressive tone. 
“I’m gonna look like an idiot if I go there alone.” He said, looking down at the beautiful skyline. 
“Who said you’re going alone.” She responded, a sly smile creeping on to her face. 
———————————
They were sitting outside said junior prom venue. It was an aquarium, a rather cheap one, Iris would say the comment out loud to Peter had he not been going through the five stages of grief. He pointed out how odd it would look for an older lady to come in as Peter’s date. There was no regret on Iris’s face though. She’d never been to a prom, let alone any school event ever. 
She got up from the cold bench and pulled Peter up with him. She rushed him into the building before he could change his mind. The teachers running the event looked at her like she was crazy. To make things worse, she fought with them saying that she should be let in because she genuinely didn’t look a day over 18. It was a lie sure, but she wasn’t giving up. The teachers eventually got tired and let the two in. 
The building didn’t look as shabby on the inside. There was a dark blue hue to the place. Everyone was looking at Peter now, rather at the beautiful lady he entered the venue with. 
They immediately saw MJ dancing with Jason. Peter was heartbroken, but there was nothing that he could've done to change the reality. They found a way to add to the nonalcoholic bar and sat on the high chairs, ordering lemonades. 
It’d been five minutes before another girl approached them. She was wearing an emerald green dress, glitter spun all over it. 
“I didn’t think you’d come.” She said. “Hi! I’m Alaya by the way.” She turned to Iris before Peter could respond. 
“Hi I’m-” Peter interrupted Iris before she could introduce herself, knowing that she was so excited to be meeting someone from his school that she would blow their cover. 
Iris caught on almost immediately and introduced herself as Noor, her middle name.
“I really respect the commitment to your secret identities but you do realize that I know that you’re part of the Avengers, right?” The girl said. 
Peter stared at her, not knowing how or when she found out. Alaya only looked at Iris and smiled.  
Alaya looked down at the floor, too nervous to say it to his face, and started talking about how maybe her and Peter should go dance, but Peter wasn’t listening anymore.  His eyes had found MJ again. After a minute of pure struggle, witnessed by Iris, Alaya looked up at Peter to finally ask him to go dance but she stopped talking the second she saw where his sight was set. She was heartbroken. She looked at Iris like a lost puppy, tears threatening to overflow from her eyes. She left almost immediately, escaping to the balcony, the cold air hitting her shoulders. 
Iris hit Peter on the shoulders, instantly grabbing his attention. 
“What have I told you about love?” She questioned. 
“That Mr. Rogers is the hottest man to walk the earth?” He said, genuinely scared. 
“No not my love, just love in general.” She clarified, rolling her eyes at him. 
“Oh umm that we should love those who love us instead of constantly giving to those who we love.” Iris was calmer now, auctioning him to deduce more from the statement. “But shouldn’t you be saying that to MJ so that she can come dance with me?”
“Are you dumb? Is my only question” Peter was confused now. Iris pointed at Alaya, who was now leaning against the railing of the terrace. “Look at her, Peter. What do you see?” 
Peter said he saw his friend, maybe his best friend. Someone he’d known since the day he was born. The only constant in his life. He was catching on now, understanding what Iris meant by giving to people who loved us already.
“Did she tell you that?” He asked getting up from his seat.
“She didn’t have to.” Iris responded. 
Peter walked onto the terrace. Taking his jacket off as he approached his friend. He put it on her when he finally reached her. She was startled by the gesture but became calm when she saw who it was. 
“It’s really cold out here, you know, maybe we should go in. Leave even, get some dinner.” Peter suggested. 
“We can’t be friends anymore, Peter. Don’t you see? I love you and I can’t keep acting like I don’t. You were never ‘just’ a friend to me. I’m tired.”
The second she finished talking, Peter pulled her in for a hug. 
“I know, and I’m sorry I didn’t see it earlier.” They parted, their foreheads now touching, both of them too nervous to make the first move.
“Can I kiss-” He was interrupted by her lips meeting his, her hands traveling to the back of his head, hanging onto his soft curls. 
“Ooh yes, get it I guess.” Said Iris looking away from the young couple.
“So hottest man to walk the earth huh?” A voice said from behind her startling her. 
Iris looked back, only to see the love of her life. 
“What’re you doing here?” She asked America’s ass. 
“Well I just figured that by the size of heels you wore, you would tower over Parker and also because we haven’t been dancing in years, love.” He responded.
“Well then kind sir, let us dance the night away between teenagers getting pregnant in the middle of the dance floor.” Iris suggested pointing at the young teenagers making out. Steve laughed, kissing Iris’s forehead, and then walking up to the DJ, requesting a song. And so that night, the two 80-year-old popsicles danced to ‘it’s been a long long time,’ reminiscing about all the years they’d spent together. 
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