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#okay I KNOW she probably read his novels and not his philosophy
catefrankie · 7 days ago
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I am still haunted by the knowledge that Jane Penderwick, sometime between the ages of ten and seventeen, read Jean Paul Sartre. Obviously she was disillusioned enough with him to later use him as an example of a writer with a small heart, but how long did she take to arrive at that conclusion?? Was she walking around the winter of her sixteenth year in black turtlenecks and berets? Was she pestering her sisters about creating their own meaning? Did she repeat dramatically such Sartreisms as “I am condemned to be free” and “Hell is other people”? Did she justify every quirk by saying that she was being authentic?
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whereisnardo · 17 days ago
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Building off the college AU (1st post here)
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Hidan is a student that has been at university for 8 years and still doesn’t have his MA. He’s so focused on the parties and bar fights he forgets he’s paying out the ass for an education. Gets extremely pissed every time someone calls him Hayden instead of Hidan.
Kakazu is an economics and business professor. He owns at least three of his own corporations and has significant knowledge in stocks and trading. He has a short temper but he is actually a really good teacher.
Shikamaru is torn ok? He’s a lil genius and he knows he should do something like aerospace engineering or biochemistry, but he just can’t make up his mind because they all take so much work. He probably picks a career path that’s is both intellectual and straightforward. Theoretical’s are fun when it’s purely curiosity, but working in a field of almost entirely theoretical anything is a nightmare for him. It’s a shame, he’d be good at it too.
Choji is a food science major. Not a culinary student, a food scientist. They’re different. He’s also minoring in philosophy and history because he just likes those subjects.
Tsunade is one of the biomedicine professors. She yells a lot. You can tell she’s passionate about what she does but omg her class is HARD. Sakura and Ino have this class together, they are lab partners.
Jiraiya teaches in the English department, specifically about literature. He used to tell his students about his... novels. But then someone actually looked them up, read them, and proceeded to tell the class what they were all about. He got roasted to Hell, other teachers heard about it. He has never lived it down. Gets smacked around by Tsunade for making female students feel uncomfortable.
Aoba teaches computer science and coding classes. He’s quiet and gets mistaken for a student more often than he would like to admit. His grading scale and assignment load are fair, and most of his students like him. He accepts late work with a 5% penalty for every day the assignment is late.
Sasuke never grew out of his emo phase. Girls used to love that shit, but he can’t get a girlfriend to save his life now. Ino beat him up and Itachi lectured him about being cruel. He goes to university across the country from his brother, he has a chip on his shoulder for something that happened when they were kids. Itachi has tried righting it, and their parents encourage Sasuke to go to group therapy. He does not, he would rather brood. It’s for the AeStHeTiC.
Asuma, i mentioned before teaches engineering. He also rides a motorcycle and turns up to class in worn jeans and a car-grease stained t-shirt. He does minor mechanic work on the side for fun. He tries to straighten out Shikamaru because he knows that he could do great things. Constantly brings flowers to Kurenai’s class room to remind people that she (and he) are married.
Temari is majoring in mechanical engineering. She’s one of the only girls in her class and will physically fight the men that look at her sideways. We stan a strong, independent queen.
Kankuro isn’t even a student. He’s made his own way making very elaborate wooden furniture. He just comes to visit his siblings—but the reason he’s actually coming by is to go to parties. Temari has thrown him out several times. Usually Gaara offers him his couch out of pity.
Gaara is majoring in poli-sci like Naruto. They end up being good friends, but Nardo’s abrasive personality does shock him at first. He introduces him to Kankuro, they actually hit it off. Temari cannot stand the three of them together, but she’s happy that Gaara had made a friend.
Tenten is studying to be a physical therapist, she’s also minoring in psychology and biology. She works on campus and lives in the dorms, she’s thought about joining a sorority, but when she checked one out to pledge, she realized they were not for her. She didn’t even think that most of the girls even liked each other. But it’s okay, she ends up making friends with a girl (Hinata) that lives on her floor.
Hinata told her parents that she was going to med school to be a surgeon, because that’s what they want her to do. But she’s double majoring in chemistry and biomedicine instead, she wants to do research and help people by finding new treatments for diseases. Her cousin Neji knows she changed her major, but he hasn’t said anything.
Neji is following his family’s example and going to med school to be a surgeon. He finds out that he really likes pediatric medicine, and wants to work in that. He likes child patients over adult patients, they also tend to complain less.
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sjjsalamanders · a month ago
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Principles You Can Use From Rowling’s Philosophy of Writing 
by Ruthanne Reid
If you’re like me, you loved the Harry Potter series. Maybe you watched the movies or even visited the theme park, and you wondered about JK Rowling’s writing process and the strategy she uses to write her best-selling books. If you’re like me, though, you’ve also been deeply hurt by things Rowling herself has said. On Twitter, on her website, in interviews, and more, Rowling has promoted harmful views of trans people, and you might be one of her many readers who find it painful, or even impossible, to return to the Harry Potter books you once loved.I understand. Before I dive into the wisdom we can draw from Rowling’s writing process in order to write our first draft (or others), allow me to share a principle with you. Death of the Author: Or, How to Love the Book, Not the Author In 1967, a French literary critic named Roland Barthes wrote an essay called La mort de l’auteur, or Death of the Author, in which he states that any piece of writing should be separated from the author that wrote it. In other words, he believed in judging the written work completely on its own merits, without involving personal beliefs or actions of the author in question. Sometimes, this is possible to do. Sometimes, it isn’t, and we readers have to apply discernment to what we read and the lens in which we view things.I have two examples for you. HP Lovecraft First, HP Lovecraft, whose incredible work literally created today’s modern horror genre. Do you enjoy any kind of tale with Elder Ones, or chaos gods, or even just good old Cthulhu? (I know I do!) His work was so creative, so new, that you’d be hard-pressed to find any horror story that doesn’t show at least some of his influence.Unfortunately, Lovecraft was also an extremely xenophobic racist. Now, I enjoy a good chaos god, and I’ve made the decision to separate his xenophobia from his writing. That means, of course, that I must view critically anything he wrote that implies white English people are somehow the pinnacle of humanity.It means I purposely do not allow his racism to infect my way of thinking. By doing so, I am practicing la mort de l’auteur. JRR Tolkien Here’s a second example: JRR Tolkien, whose work defined modern fantasy. Do you enjoy anything with elves and dwarves or made-up languages? We owe Tolkien for that. He redefined and polished the fantasy genre so well that everything from movies to MMORPGs still use his templates. Unfortunately, he also described his orcs as “squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes: in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types.” Yowza. Now, was Tolkien a racist? Not exactly. In fact, according to the standards of the time, he was absolutely liberal and anti-racist. So then what do we do with this bizarro and racially horrifying description? We see it and choose to discard it. Generations of artists and authors have done exactly that, turning orcs into anything but“least lovely Mongol-types,” and aiding this genre.Again, it’s important to see the problem so you can avoid letting it influence your work. We enjoy the good parts while consciously discarding the bad, rather than being influenced by it. So What About JK Rowling? She’s not dead. In fact, she’s still saying harmful things, even as we speak. Instead of listening to her readers, who (at least initially) approached her in love, trying to help her understand, she doubled down, rejected their experience and their words, and in the process, caused an unbelievable amount of pain. Here’s the thing about la mort de l’auteur: it is entirely up to you whether to apply it to what you read, or to simply discard the whole thing and find less troublesome authors. Both roads are valid. In no way do I condone her attacks on the trans community, or her persistent sharing of misinformation. I choose to apply la mort de l’auteur for the simple reason that I benefited from the good things she’s written, and I wanted to share them with you. However, if you aren’t comfortable doing that, you are absolutely welcome to walk away. In fact, I’d suggest these writing articles instead: Neil Gaiman’s rules of writing, or how to create your own rules of writing. Okay. Awkward stuff done. Ready to dive into the process stuff instead? Let’s go! 9 Rules From JK Rowling’s Writing Process Over the course of her writing career, Rowling shared a lot of solid writing wisdom, and in my opinion, eight writing rules stand out—along with a ninth we can apply from her choices since. Whether or not you’re writing your first book like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) or last book in a series (like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), I think these rules speak to Ms. Joanne Rowling’s philosophy on writing.They are great writing tips for you to reflect on in your spare moments and then apply to your writing process, for short stories, novels, bestsellers, or even the first time you’ve ever attempted a book. Rule One: Protect your writing time “Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it.” This is especially hard for those of us with family. Our loved ones come first, and while that is important, our loved ones also need to understand that we need time to write. Setting reasonable boundaries is a crucial step for a writer—even if they’re as simple as, “Mommy needs fifteen minutes of quiet time, okay?” If you have trouble setting boundaries with loved ones, try setting a reasonable boundary for one week. See how it goes. If it’s too much time or too little, tweak it. Establish a routine that signals to others that it’s your writing time, but also lets them know that outside of your writing space, you’re there for them. Not only will this teach the importance of flexibility and discipline to others, but also that your writing is valuable. It’s your work, and your dream! Needing quiet time to write doesn’t mean that you don’t love your family. Your writing deserves your time, too. Open communication about this can help everyone understand and respect that. Rule Two: Treat your writing like a job “You’ve got to work. It’s about structure. It’s about discipline.” It’s easy to forget that writing is a job. We don’t always feel like doing our job. We certainly don’t always feel inspired. To be writers, we must train ourselves to sit down and write even when we don’t feel like it. Those moments are the ones that really matter, even more than the shining, flying, muse-kissed moments.Writing when we don’t feel like it is what turn amateurs into professionals and rough drafts into polished manuscripts. “The muse works for you. You don’t write at her beck and call—you train her to show up when you’re writing. “ Rule Three: Believe you ARE a writer “I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” Yes, writing is possible with another job. Yes, writing is possible with other responsibilities. Are you a writer? (I know your inner critic snarled no, but I also know a tiny candle-flicker of unquenchable hope in you whispered yes with so much longing you could cry.) You ARE a writer. That means you write. A runner runs. A painter paints. A cook cooks. You are a writer. You write. Accept this, fight to believe it, and be amazed at how far that takes you. Rule Four: Write what you know “Write what you know: your own interests, feelings, beliefs, friends, family and even pets will be your raw materials when you start writing.” This doesn’t mean you need to experience aliens in order to write about them. It means that all good stories have universal application. A great example is this Google Doodle. (Trust me. I’m going somewhere with this.) Take two minutes and thirty-six seconds to watch this: Halloween 2017 Google Doodle: Jinx’s Night Out It’s adorable, right? Without a single word, this video told an effective story. You felt for the little ghost, both when it was sad and when it was happy, right? News flash: you’re not a ghost. That was universal application. It doesn’t matter what culture you’re from or what language you speak; all human beings know what it is to be lonely, to feel left out, to be frustrated, determined, and to finally be with friends. That story works because the creators used their interests, feelings, beliefs, friends, family and even pets to tell this story. (I’m fond of the kitty, myself.) I’m greatly oversimplifying, but here’s the gist: you already know how to tell a moving story because you live one. If you’ve ever had emotions, ever responded to anything, then you already know what universal application looks like. Listen to the people around you, and apply empathy. You don’t have to be a ghost to write a good ghost story. Rule Five: Read “I always advise children who ask me for tips on being a writer to read as much as they possibly can. Jane Austen gave a young friend the same advice, so I’m in good company there.” Read. Read. Read some more! The more you read, the bigger your arsenal of words will be. The more you read, the better your grasp of metaphor, poetry, beauty, passion, and empathy will be. The more you read, the greater you will be as a writer (and probably human being). It’s like learning more dance moves or impressively difficult notes on an instrument. The more you learn, the better you’ll be. So read in your genre. Read outside your genre. Get in the habit of finding time to pick up a book instead of your phone (unless it’s to open up another book.) You DO have the time to read. Even if that’s just ten minutes a day. Any time counts. And the more stories you read, the more likely you’ll start to implicitly develop the skills you need to become a great writer. Rule Six: Persevere “Perseverance is absolutely essential, not just to produce all those words, but to survive rejection and criticism.” This is one of those unpleasant truths about publishing: you’re gonna get rejected. A lot. I wish there were a way around this. Harry Potter was turned down again and again because that’s just the way it goes sometimes. And it isn’t only publishers: when you get published, and your work is out there, you’ll get bad reviews, too. Mostly, they’ll just be people who don’t understand what you’re doing. Intellectually, you’ll know that. Your heart, on the other hand, is going to break into a thousand pieces. But here’s the secret: you can’t stop writing because of push-back. You MUST NOT stop writing because of push-back. Keep going. Don’t stop. When you get rejected, pick up your pen and keep going (and use the way you feel to put more universal application into your work). And when you’re feeling really discouraged? Remember that when someone doesn’t like your book, they might also just not be your ideal reader. That person just wasn’t your target audience.If your book isn’t to someone’s taste, that’s all right. It will be to someone else’s.Keep writing your book, because your ideal readers need it. Rule Seven: Bring your whole self to the page “What you write becomes who you are … So make sure you love what you write!” Writing is a little like a Mobius strip, in a way: Your beliefs and experiences and feelings all help craft your writing. However, your writing clarifies, corrects, and often reveals your beliefs, experiences, and feelings. As you write, you’ll discover things about yourself. You’ll clarify things, too, because it’s only as you come to write them that you realize they needed clarification in the first place. Now, understand: this means that if you haven’t given yourself a good look to find your biases (we all have them), you will bring those to the page, too. It’s important to see who you are as you bring your whole self to the page. Writing is a brave, bold venture, and life-altering discovery is part of the journey. Rule Eight: Accept that failure is part of the process “Failure is inevitable—make it a strength. You have to resign yourself to the fact that you waste a lot of trees before you write anything you really like, and that’s just the way it is. It’s like learning an instrument, you’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot. I wrote an awful lot before I wrote anything I was really happy with.” Failure is normal. Also, it is okay. You’re going to write a lot of crap. You’re going to push past those things and write more crap. It may take you twelve years. It may take you a million words. If it does, then you’re on the right path—the same one your favorite authors walk. Accept that it will take time, and that sometimes, your pencil won’t be your friend. If you accept it, then when it happens, you won’t throw in the towel and set the house on fire. Instead, you’ll be able to go, “Well, dang; that sucked, didn’t it? Knew it would happen. Time to write some more.” Rule Nine: Respect Your Reader Sadly, this rule doesn’t come from writing advice she’s given, but in a way, it’s the final conclusion of the previous eight. This involves bringing your whole self to the page. This involves empathy and universal application. This involves perseverance, never quitting, and willingness to tackle your writing troubles. If your readers value what you created, they will listen to what you say. Your words have the power to uplift or hurt others. None of us can ever really know where someone else is coming from, and it’s essential that both our stories and our interactions reflect respect. Respect yourself enough to be a better person. Respect your readers enough to hear what they have to say. This sounds scary, I know, but I promise you, it’s worth it.
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canghai-sangtian · 3 months ago
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Legend of Fei Reread Chapter 84
Impervious to Fire
Spoilers for the entire novel
Ugh, I want to stop quoting, both because I don't give the best translations, and because it takes a really long time. But Xie Yun is just on a roll with his ‘shadows of the past’ and ‘life philosophy’ shit, and it’s too good.
「當你長大成人,所有扶着你的手都會慢慢離開,你得自己走過無數的坎坷,你覺得自己的命運懸在刀尖上,每時每刻都不能鬆懈——但你可知道,這已經是世上最大的幸運了。」
“When you grow up, all the hands that once supported you will gradually leave. You need to walk countless uneven paths by yourself. You’ll feel that your fate hangs from the point of a blade, and you cannot relax at any moment — But you need to know, that is already the greatest fortune you can have in this world.”
你手握利器,只要刀尖向前,就能披荆斩棘,无处不可去。生死、尊卑、英雄还是懦夫,无数的路在你脚下,是非曲直贤愚忠奸,也都在你的一念之间,这还不够幸运吗?”谢允在她的刀身上轻轻弹了一下,“呛”一声轻响,他微笑道,“你可知道这世上绝大多数人,或限于出身、或限于资质,都只能随波逐流,不由自主,从未有过可以选择的余地? 「你手握利器,只要刀尖向前,就能披荊斬棘,無處不可去。生死、尊卑、英雄還是懦夫,無數的路在你腳下,是非曲直賢愚忠奸,也都在你的一念之間,這還不夠幸運嗎?」謝允在她的刀身上輕輕彈了一下,「嗆」一聲輕響,他微笑道,「你可知道這世上絕大多數人,或限於出身、或限於資質,都只能隨波逐流,不由自主,從未有過可以選擇的餘地?
“You grasp a weapon in your hand, and as long as the point faces forward, you can cut your way through thistles and thorns. There is nowhere you cannot go. Life and death, honour and humility, heroism or cowardice: countless roads lie beneath your feet. Right and wrong, virtue and wickedness, they are all within your thoughts. Is that not fortunate enough?” Xie Yun lightly flicked her sabre. It rang with a ‘qiang,’ and he smiled slightly. “Do you know that the vast majority of people in this world are either bound by their birth or by their aptitude? They can only float involuntarily with the waves, never having the leisure to choose.”
He would have absolutely hated being Emperor, but he would have been good at it if they had stuffed him on the throne. He cares so much about people, whether the world sees them as important or not.
I’m reminded of the scene in the inn, when he tells Zhou Fei to give some money to the entertainers, even though they’re not rolling in it themselves. And when he explains why the woman burned her own face, he says it in such a calm and measured way, as if it’s not surprising, but that very calm is, I feel, a comment on the world. It isn’t surprising, but that’s a shame.
I think this attitude is why he’s so quick to let things go: not to forgive Zhao Yuan, really, but not to pursue it; not to be entirely okay with being mediocre, but being fine enough. (He carries his needles with him, but he also never digs up Liang Shao’s grave.) Compared to the vast majority of people, isn’t he already lucky to have had choices?
And I’m reminded of how much he talks about luck at the beginning of the novel. In his first scene, he flips a coin, saying that one side means he’ll be favoured by fortune, and the other side means that there’ll be frights but no mishaps. It’s a really silly assignment of probability, but in his mind, he’s already lucky.
As for his choice of Meimei as a pseudonym, I’m gonna have to think about that.
謝允眼睛有一點天然的弧度,不笑的時候也有好像抺着一層淺的笑意,將眼神裡的千言萬語都藏在下面,但凡被有心人發現一點端倪,他就無賴與二百五齊發,來一出千錘百煉的「賤遁」,直賤得人眼花繚亂,想追究什麼也顧不得了。
Xie Yun’s eyes had a natural curve to them. Even when he wasn’t smiling, there seemed to be a hint of a light smile about them, hiding all the words in the depths of his gaze. But whenever anyone found even a hint of a clue there, he turned on the uselessness and idiocy all at once, pulling a practised escape by dazzling everyone with his despicable behaviour, until they couldn’t pay attention to what they’d been thinking before.
This is so true. He does it with the romance, but he also does it with every other moment that could have a speck of sincerity about it. It isn’t until near the very end, when he tells everything to Tongming-dashi, that we get a sense of how much he’s been hiding behind a smiling demeanour.
(Consider how lighthearted and teasing he is during the secret prison bit. From a Doylist perspective, the book is still something of a lighthearted adventure romp at that point; the tone hasn’t shifted yet. But from a Watsonian perspective, Zhou Fei hasn’t learned to read him yet. So you get the Xie Yun he shows to the world, without any hint of what he hides. That persona isn’t false, exactly. It’s part of who he is, and I think it’s who he would have been completely, if the world was kind. Unfortunately, the world isn’t.)
And he immediately proves the point by following up this deep introspective musing by yanking Zhou Fei’s braid and running away.
Then Zhou Fei leaves too, ditching the guards after ‘requesting’ them to keep watch over the river from the pavilion. Except … you know … they can’t leave because you turned on the qianji, so it’s not so much a request as a blatant trap.
As dawn is about to break, the Northern forces charge into the villages around the Forty-Eight Strongholds. We meet for the first time Northern Prince Duan, Cao Ning. (This arc is just full of Xie Yun parallels, isn’t it?)
And of course, Zhang Bolin and Zhao Qiusheng are once again behaving like children in the Elders’ Hall. I highly suspect that Lin Hao would like nothing more than to just knock them both out so he can keep on doing his job, like the actually competent Elder he is.
那麼如今有敵來犯,當年的義士反而高掛吊橋,不聞不問,豈不是有違當年盟約?
Now that enemies have come, if the heroes of yesteryear turn around and raise their drawbridges, shutting their ears [to the world outside], would that not be breaking our original pact?
You tell ‘em, Lin Hao!
Lin Hao is rapidly becoming one of my faves. Cautious when he should be cautious, stubborn when he should be stubborn, smart and politically astute. He’s described in the narration as 陽奉陰違, pretending to be devoted in the light but opposing in secret. That, combined with the righteousness and concern for common people, is giving me Faramir vibes. (But Denethor is made of way sterner stuff than Zhao Qiusheng. There is no love lost for Zhao Qiusheng in this household. Not even the merest flicker of affection.)
Zhou Fei shows up, and they try to send her away, on a ‘mission’ to send a message to Li Jinrong. Without even blinking, she tears this thinly veiled dismissal apart:
偽朝出兵攻打四十八寨,這消息自己會長腿飛到大當家耳朵裡,再滯後也肯定比我沒頭蒼蠅一樣滿世界找她去得快,這道理林師兄不明白?你自己傻還是我傻?
The news that the False Dynasty has sent an army to besiege the Forty-Eight Strongholds will grow its own wings to fly into dadangjia’s ears. However sluggish, the message will surely find her faster than I will, flying around the entire world like a headless housefly. Does Lin-shixiong not understand this reasoning? Are you a fool, or am I?
Then she rips a page directly from his playbook by immediately apologizing, but of course the apology does not match the burn.
She asks for a hundred people to run a guerrilla campaign in the villages. That’s some pretty fast decision making there. I’d have liked to see the planning process that led to this request.
When she leaves with the Elders (with her command granted!) she runs into Wu Chuchu and Li Yan.
I’ve said before that I love Zhou Fei’s friendship with Wu Chuchu.
可還不等她開口,吳楚楚忽然上前一步,將自己脖子上的長命鎖摘了下來,递給周翡。
But without waiting for her to open her mouth, Wu Chuchu suddenly stepped forward, removed her necklace, and handed it to Zhou Fei.
周翡一愣。
Zhou Fei blanked.
接着,吳楚楚又摘下了身上的耳墜,手鐲——連頭上一枝素色的小釵都沒放過,一股腦地塞進周翡懷裡。
Then Wu Chuchu removed her earrings and bangle — not even passing over the white hairpin on her head — and shoved them all into Zhou Fei’s grasp.
周翡:“……”
Zhou Fei: “…”
旁邊李妍嚇了一跳,忙道:「吳姑娘,我姐不收保護費,你⋯⋯」
On the side, Li Yan jumped in surprise and hurried to say: “Wu-guniang, my jie doesn’t ask for protection fees, you …”
吳楚楚道:「我身上不怕燒的東西都在這裡了。」
Wu Chuchu said: “All the things I own that would survive a fire are here.”
周翡倏地抬眼——原來吳楚楚心裡一直知道仇天璣喪心病狂的搜捕華容鎮,是跟她有關!
Zhou Fei raised her eyes abruptly. So Wu Chuchu had known all alone that Qiu Tianji’s frantic search of Huarong City was related to her.
吳楚楚眼睛裡有淚光閃過,但很快又自己憋回去了。
The glitter of tears flashed through Wu Chuchu’s eyes, but she quickly stifled them.
「我沒聽說過所謂『海天一色』,」她一字一頓說道,「我也⋯⋯知道你現在還有要緊事,未見得願意幫我保管這些鷄零狗碎的累贅,但我不相信別人,只相信你。」
“I have never heard of anything called ‘haitianyise,’” she said measuredly. “I also … know that you have important things to do now, and won’t necessarily be willing to help me protect these piecemeal burdens, but I don’t trust anybody else. I only trust you.”
李妍不知前因後果,聽見這前言不搭後語的幾句交代,一腦門茫然。
Not knowing the full story, Li Yan was lost after hearing this series of non sequiturs.
周翡心下卻十分了然,她將吳楚楚交給她的東西用細絲卷包了起來,貼身揣進懷中,衝吳楚楚一點頭:「多謝,放心,死生不負。」
But Zhou Fei understood clearly. She wrapped up the things Wu Chuchu had given her and stored them beneath her lapels, near her skin, then nodded to Wu Chuchu. “Thank you. Don’t worry, I will not fail you in life or death.”
This novel! Just ~12 hours ago in novel time, it gave me “陪著你” (I’ll be at your side). Now it’s giving me “生死不負” (I will not fail you in life or death).
You know how this is like Huarong 2 for Zhou Fei? It’s also a continuation of Huarong for Wu Chuchu. Yes, she is probably safer (at least she has more people on her side than she did in Huarong), but it’s clear that she doesn’t trust anyone around her. Because they’re after her, and she still doesn’t entirely know why.
She figured out in Huarong that they wanted a possession that she has, and now she has figured out that her family died for something called haitianyise …. And what does she think about that? Something her father gave her without telling her, that led to her mother and brother’s deaths, and she doesn’t even know what it is or what it means, or why a sword has been hanging over her neck for the last year.
And let me also talk about “我身上不怕燒的東西都在這裡了” (All the things I own that would survive a fire are here.). She’s just so clever and so restrained. She’s known all along and never breathed a word. She’s just been quietly wearing her own death sentence around her neck, or on her wrist, or from her ears, or on her neck.
And she and Zhou Fei understand each other so well that no explanation is required.
I die for this friendship.
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fresh-prince-of-denmark · 3 months ago
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Cyberpunk 2077 Literary Analysis Pt 7: Leave me Alone, Hemingway, You’re Supposed to be Dead
Surprise bitch I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.
Cyberpunk spoilers ahead!
Cyberpunk meta literary analysis masterpost here 
Okay, so I thought I would be done with this, but it kinda feels like Hemingway has me by the left asscheek and won’t let me go as of late. So here we are: Cyberpunk literature meta-analysis part 7: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Hemingway comes up a few times in Cyberpunk, too many times to ignore. It’s not surprising, really. We know that Johnny is actually a pretty well-read guy from some of his passing comments, and if I had to guess, he’d probably really connect to Hemingway. In fact, if you play Johnny’s ending with Rogue, the final quest is called “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (which is also cool since it keeps the theme of all the missions being song titles, as this is also a Metallica song). But for once, this analysis isn’t entirely about Johnny or V. Hopefully this rings a bell (pun intended), as we’re very explicitly told who else really connected to Hemingway.  
Jackie Wells.
During the quest Heroes, Mama Wells will ask you to go through Jackie’s garage to find something for the ofrenda. One option is a book, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Earnest Hemingway. Misty will comment that he used to read it before a big job, and that it was important to him. If you choose to bring the book for the ofrenda, V will “read from the book” (I put this in quotes because the passage they read has actually been misattributed, it is a Hemingway quote, but not from FWTBT, rather from another of his works titled “Men at War”):
“When you go to war as a boy, you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed, not you... Then, when you are badly wounded the first time, you lose that illusion, and you know it can happen to you.”
The majority of our main characters start out as The Fool, naive and feeling like they’re on top of the world, the kind of hubris that can only come with youth. Yet, like Hemingway says, it takes a bullet to give one a dose of reality.
For Whom the Bell Tolls is a story of war. Our protagonist, Robert Jordan (I’d be really interested to know if Johnny’s birth name, Robert John Linder, was inspired by this), leaves his cushy job as a college instructor in the United States to join the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. Robert begins the novel fairly bland; he has no real friends, no real family, and he feels completely disconnected from the world. In all honesty, he’s boring. Like, if wet cardboard were a person. He doesn’t really care if he lives or dies, not because he’s a badass, but because he really doesn’t have anything to lose. No passion, no connections, nothing he loves that ties him to this earth despite the fact that he is a man of such strong convictions that he willingly joins this war. Robert is tasked with destroying a bridge, meeting comrades of varying philosophies along the way, who become a kind of found family to him. Despite going out of his way to avoid making connections, he falls in love, not just with the love interest Maria, but with his friends, finally giving him something worth fighting for, something connecting him to this life. The novel concludes as the group finally blow up the bridge (a task done in vain, since the Republican side has ultimately sustained more losses than the Fascists), and Robert is injured. He convinces the others to leave him behind so he can buy them time to escape. The novel ends just as it begins; our protagonist lying in wait in a forest, gun in hand, “heart to the ground,” on a bed of pine needles. (For more on cycles/mirrors/reflections, see here).
While there’s a much larger political message here that could parallel the themes of Cyberpunk, I want to focus more on the philosophical side, as it ties in with my previous analysis much more coherently. The biggest theme of this novel is about how interpersonal relationships are what matter most in this life, which is summarized very nicely by the poem by John Donne which not only lends the novel it’s name, but serves as it’s opening epitaph:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
This poem and the overall meaning of the book work on two levels. The most obvious is that we all die one day, that mortality is fleeting. But on another level, No man is an island. Our identity is tied within our communities, those that love us, and those we live for. “Therefore, send not to know/For whom the bell tolls/It tolls for thee.” Each time a person dies, a piece of all those who loved them dies with them. Funerals are not just for the deceased, but for us, a chance to bury the pieces of ourselves that died with them. “Each is a piece of the continent/Apart of the main/If a clod be washed away by the sea/Europe is the less.”
Johnny is incredibly similar to Robert Jordan. Despite knowing a lot of people and having a lot of connections, Johnny is not particularly loved, and that feeling is mutual. He even tells V that they are the only person who knows him that that doesn’t hate his guts. Both Robert and Johnny are men who base their morals and identity solely on principal and ideals; standing up for what is right, fighting against oppression, rebellion, but that passion is not borne from interpersonal relationships and connections. It is made of hate of the world, not love of their fellow man. This leads to one of Johnny’s fatal flaws; he did not fear death, because he did not feel as if he had anything to lose. He was consumed and driven by hate, not love, leading to all of his failed relationships. Had Johnny something to lose, he may not have taken all of the stupid the risks he did, acting as if he did not care about his own life.
V, in many ways, parallels Maria, Robert’s love interest in the novel. While Robert salvation lies in the love he has for all of his newfound friends, the main focus is on the love interest, Maria. Here’s an interesting bit of dialogue between Maria and Robert:
"Now, feel. I am thee and thou art me and all of one is the other. And I love thee, oh, I love thee so. Are you not truly one? Canst thou not feel it?"
"Yes," he said, "it is true."
"And feel now. Thou hast no heart but mine."
"Nor any other legs, nor feet, nor of the body."
"But we are different," she said. "I would have us exactly the same."
"You do not mean that." (20.66-71)
In this moment, Robert and Maria are talking about how they feel as if they have fused into the same person, as if they share a body. Yet there is a key difference in how they view their relationship: Maria wishes that they were exactly the same, while Robert states that she doesn’t mean that. Similarly, while Johnny seems to enjoy the growth he and V provide one another, his greatest fear is V/himself being changed into something they are not. Hmmmm….
Johnny and V are very different people by the end of Cyberpunk, finding meaning in relationships just as Robert has. For V, this means Judy, River, Panem, Kerry, Misty, Vik, etc. And for Johnny, this means V, and by extension, all of the people who make up V’s identity through their love and friendship. Despite dying and rising again as lines of code, V is able to finally show Johnny what it means to be human. His journey, I believe, can be accurate summed up by this quote from the novel:
“This was the greatest gift that he had, the talent that fitted him for war; that ability not to ignore but to despise whatever bad ending there could be. This quality was destroyed by too much responsibility for others or the necessity of undertaking something ill planned or badly conceived. For in such things the bad ending, failure, could not be ignored. It was not simply a possibility of harm to one's self, which could be ignored. He knew he himself was nothing, and he knew death was nothing. He knew that truly, as truly as he knew anything. In the last few days he had learned that he himself, with another person, could be everything. But inside himself he knew that this was the exception. That we have had, he thought. In that I have been most fortunate. That was given to me, perhaps, because I never asked for it. That cannot be taken away nor lost. But that is over and done with now on this morning and what there is to do now is our work.”
In addition, Robert’s final conversation with Maria as he is convincing the others to leave him behind so he can buy them time to escape is nearly identical to Johnny and V’s final conversation:
"Listen to this well, rabbit," he said. He knew there was a great hurry and he was sweating very much, but this had to be said and understood. "Thou wilt go now, rabbit. But I go with thee. As long as there is one of us there is both of us. Do you understand?" (43.319)
Here, Robert is telling Maria that because they are the same, only one of them needs to survive in order for them both to live. Compare that to what Johnny tells V:
V: For fucks sake, defend yourself! You’re not even trying!
Johnny: Hmm…sounds kind of familiar. We know that attitude. See, V? Stayin’ with you whether you like it or not.”
This scene is further paralleled by the fact that V crosses a bridge to reach Mikoshi, which is set to be destroyed, just as Robert was tasked with destroying the bridge. Furthermore, in the Suicide ending, the overall theme is about how V “never realized just how many friends they had.” Friends who, in all other endings, were willing to die for V, as losing them meant a piece of themselves dying with them. Similarly, Robert considers killing himself as his friends escape, as the pain of his injury becomes too much to bear. However, he is comforted knowing that his sacrifice will mean that they live, telling himself, "I don't mind this at all now they are away.” Despite now having something to live for, like Johnny, they are still able to brave their deaths as now they have been given meaning. And not just any meaning; love. No longer hate, or rage, or blind idealism. Love. 
This is the overall message of Cyberpunk: maybe you won’t change the world. Maybe you won’t win the war. Maybe your sacrifice isn’t going to change history. Maybe, in the grand scheme of the universe, you don’t matter, and you won’t ever be a legend. But you do matter to the people in your life. No man is an island. We were made to be in each other’s lives, to love one another, to change one another for the better. And that’s what life is all about.
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carrottuan93 · 5 months ago
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Haven’t met you yet | Mark
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Masterlist (1/4) | part2 - part3 - part4
Starring: MK x You
Tags: Mark Tuan, Fluff, Destiny, Waiting, Christmas, Bookworm, Nerd, Love, Fate
Total WC: 2631
Foreword: You promise yourself you’re going to wait for the perfect love even if it takes forever but you’re already barging on it’s doorstep without even realizing that love has met you already in the first place.
It’s all about timing and seeking reassurance in all the right places.
It’s a chance you never want to miss and an opportunity that you wouldn’t trade for anything.
Learn to take risks and learn to fall in love along the way. Cause true love is patient and it’ll come when you least expect it.
Have you been good all year round? You never know what Santa has in stored for you this Christmas.
[Feel free to listen on the playlist that I made for this one shot :)))]
"Eunhee, I should probably take a break from your endless blind date setups. Nothing is working out for me, seriously." You heaved a sigh, slouching on the couch as you gave your best friend an exasperated look the moment you entered her humble bookshop. She's too excited for your love life ever since she and her long-time university crush Jackson became an official couple on your birthday when you celebrated it on Jeju last year. It was a really cold New Year’s Eve when you chose to reserve this romantic restaurant by the beach as the venue for your special day. Eunhee doesn't have any idea about Jackson's plan when you booked a flight to Jeju Island for a week despite the busy season. Since you wanted to play the fairy godmother role for the both of them, you saved Jackson from worrying and suggested that he'd do it on your birthday instead. And just like that, they spent the New Year countdown melting into each other’s puddle while greeting you a happy birthday. The things you do for your friend, if that ain’t salty for your part (it is, for being the third wheel), automatically elected you as the sole Queen of singles club after Neun’s grand exit.
 Since their anniversary is just around the corner, they are planning to spend it once again on Jeju and Eunhee, for being the supportive sister from another mother that she is, will surely drag you with them at all costs since it has been your tradition to celebrate New Year’s Eve with your best friend. She is dying to set you up with someone so you won't be celebrating your birthday alone anymore.
 "I'm sorry, Y/N. I thought you and my friend Hae In will work out. What happened by the way? tell me about your date." She sat beside your spot after closing the shop and did the honor of pouring you a glass of your favorite merlot. This girl knows how to calm you down for sure. I mean she isn't your best friend if she have no idea that wine is your comfort drink. For whatever reason it is, you don't know why it helps to lessen your loneliness by drinking the night away. Maybe knocking you down into a deep slumber and finding yourself completely clueless the next day, alongside the horrible hangover can patch up the painful truth that you are still single up to this point of your life. In addition to the earthly and God-sent smell of neatly piled books crowding the interior of her paradise, Eunhee's bookshop is your go-to place at all times. You used to frequent this a lot during your childhood days where you first met her and together you shared the same passion and love for books and wine through all these years.
 "He's too overrated for my type. Like I don't know why we need to talk about all of his exes and why his relationship with them didn't work out when we can sit and be comfortable with just talking about our interests, 'us' the present and not his past. He's a perfectionist per se and I don't like it when a guy shows disinterest whenever I told them about myself as some nerdy bookish girl who craves for a netflix kind of night compared to his ideal dream girl-next-door whom you can freely bring to a club the minute next." You look down on the red liquid in your glass, appreciating its refined and classic smell that is clouding your nostrils. You're way too excited to go home so you can finally sink on your newly changed bed sheets and savor the enticing smell of fabric conditioner which you cannot live without. You glanced outside the window, observing the couples walking together under the falling snow, as if Valentines day has come all of a sudden in the middle of December. Red roses are a popular gift for the ladies as you've observed and you cannot help yourself from wondering if someone will ever give you flowers on Christmas, particularly pink roses, which you really admire. You always dreamt of tending a bed of pink roses only for yourself because the sight of it makes you really happy. It's just unfortunate that they aren't in full bloom during this season that's why you can only wait for February to come so you could save the trouble of finding a lame date and just buy yourself a bouquet for Valentines. You can give yourself flowers and still feel like in a relationship with all the fictional characters on your novels. No one is stopping you from dating them in your mind, you thought.
 “Ugh I can’t believe that guy. I thought he’s a good catch but actually a bummer for real. Don’t worry, I’ll choose better next time." She gave you a warm hug, patting your head as you lay your cheek on her shoulder. She released you and you gave her an 'I'm-okay-don't-worry' kind of smile. And you sat there for almost an hour talking about your other failed blind dates in the past week that all belongs in either Jackson or Eunhee's circle. You have no idea why none of them matched your personality. Either they are too wild or too boring for them to function as your potential boyfriend. No one could really captivate your specific taste in a guy. It's not that you are too picky and have a high standard when it comes to scouting a lover. You just have your own preferences when it comes to choosing someone whom you'll devote your precious time into. No relationship is perfect because everything is built out of flaws, misunderstandings, heartaches and drama but if you'll enter in a commitment at least choose someone who's worthy of that pain. You aren’t getting any younger and all you need right now is someone reliable, honest and trustworthy enough to not waste your feelings and emotion. You need a serious guy who will not take you for granted and who welcomes the idea of settling in the near future. At least someone with a nice job? Or a bearable attitude, outlook and philosophy in life? He doesn't need to be the most handsome or richest guy in the planet. After all, you always talk to God about giving you with someone who will really love all your imperfections and flawed nature. You always pray to the heavens above that maybe he'll cross the mountains and bring you the moon and the stars like they always did on the movies and in stories but you're fed with too much fantasy and began to think that maybe the guy for you was rather inexistent or an alien inhabiting a distant galaxy located in a million light years away.
 "A break is all I need after all. I will be fine tomorrow at Christmas eve. Don't worry about me having a date on our dinner. I'll bring some macarons as an antidote for all things bitter for you and Jackson's couple party." It's your best friend’s first Christmas with her boyfriend that's why they are throwing a mini gathering for their family and close friends. You had this feeling that you will be the only one attending the party without a date so might as well go straight to the kitchen and grab a bottle of whatever wine you can get and spend the evening dancing on tipsy toes and the floor would be very much pleased to accommodate your drunken needs. But you will not gonna end up wasted on a party especially Eunhee will not be there beside you to take you home since you do not want to rob Jackson of his time with her. Their happiness always matters before you and that's what makes you happy, to see your best friend happy with the man that he really deserves.
 "All right sweetcheeks. We'll not let you feel gloomy on Christmas eve. Good girls get a reward from Santa so you have nothing to worry about." She gave you a wink and clanked your glasses in unison as you both emptied the bottle of wine to your heart's content. You both agreed to watch a romantic holiday movie over a shared furry blanket and hear out your friend as she talked to you mostly of his boyfriend, as if you’ve read a book about the guide to 101 ways on how to fall for Jackson. Maybe the love bug bit too hard on your friend now that she really has the man of her dreams right on her fingertips, she can’t ask for anything else. Their love story is too underrated and you’re one of the living witnesses that a coin is never wasted on a wishing well. If you only joined Eunhee on her wishing spree every time you both pass by your University’s fountain of love, your coin bank would have gone empty by now. But you didn’t do it and saved all of your coins for yourself cause you really enjoy playing basketball in the arcades for fun. For all you can remember way back in college days, your friend is just one of the many timid girls who are cheering and admiring the ever-famous fencing athlete, business student and heartthrob, Jackson. You have classes together with him and that is how your job as a love guru began. You really deserve a raise because you did succeed on making them a couple. You could set up a dating agency and earn better than your current job for all you care. But amidst all the love advice that you gave to them, you’re the complete opposite of a matchmaker. Because love never finds your way despite making love work for the others. Love is sweet but a bitch most of the time.
 If love finally came to Eunhee and Jackson, hopefully yours would come in a whirlpool, sweeping you off of your feet and rendering all the other love stories made in the history irrelevant. You love spontaneity and you’re up for the extraordinary. In fact, you already made a dozen of playlists on spotify and counting, awaiting to be dedicated to him. You may have weird habits, like using ketchup as a dip for your honey glazed donuts, and still act straight and sit the whole day finishing a book with your favorite espresso at coffee shops. You love taking midnight trips to the art museum and you wonder if he can appreciate the abstract the way it makes your soul come alive. You love travelling back to time and studying history and it would be a bonus if he’ll join you on the 3% mint choco enthusiasts in the whole world. And your list goes on and on and it’ll take a lifetime to introduce yourself to someone but you want to meet him soon. You can’t wait for that time to annoy the hell out of him and if he still chooses to come back after your endless nagging, that’s the time when you’re not gonna let go of him anymore. You know for yourself, you’re looking for an almost perfect individual but you’re ready to tear up your never ending list of your ideal guy if someone could really surprise you and made you want to look at the world in a different dimension. After all, an ideal can never be achieved in real life. You cannot make someone ‘the one’ but you can only search for someone and make them ‘your one’. Things may not come out the way you want them to be but things will work out if he’s your destiny. It might be hard to find the rarest form of love, which is true love, but you’re willing to go on a train trip bound to a destination you’ve never been to given that he’ll meet you at the end of the tunnel. Love isn’t hard. Love is supposed to be easy. You just need patience and it’ll come to you when you least expect it.
 It's nearing 11 pm already when you feel lightheaded because of your wine intake and maybe due to the fact that your early sleeping schedule has been breached by tonight's unfortunate event. You bid goodbye to your friend despite her invitation that you should just sleep on her place and decided to call for an uber to save yourself from zoning out like a zombie because you can no longer walk straight with your clouded vision. Eunhee lives upstairs her bookstore because she manages her family's business when her father passed away that's why she isn't living with you anymore. You've grown to be independent now that you're living on your own after sharing the same apartment with your friend during your university days.
 "Tomorrow night at 8. I'll text you the address. Don't be late, Y/n. Have a goodnight!” Eunhee tucked you up nicely on your seat and soon the taxi sped up passing underneath the city lights in the mood for the radio's yuletide playlist. You're a bit drunk to see clearly but you can recognize the faint Christmas lights flickering throughout the busy streets. In just half an hour, the uber came to a stop and you hopped off the cab as you made your way towards the entrance of the condo that you’re residing in. You walked past the concierge and romantic music is donning the halls screaming love is in the air but not for you cause it makes you suffocated. Inside the elevator you noticed that you'll join a couple on your way to a 5-minute trip to the 12th floor. You silently wished that nobody would enter in between floors so as not to slow down your fast lane to your unit or else it'll be another episode of 'You-are-single-fgds' slapping your face. Geez, you badly want a damn break but the couple is too absorbed in their own selves, doing whatever cringey couple thing it is behind you, so you chose to ignore their reflection on the elevator walls.
 God spared you for that ride and luckily you reached the 12th floor in the fastest speed possible. You walked in a crazy zigzag pattern when you reached the front step of your door and you held on the handle to prevent yourself from falling directly on the ground. Your eyes are zooming in for the door lock as you punch in your keycode multiple times and still wonder why the door isn't granting you any access at all.
 "The fudge why aren't you opening?" You tried all possible combinations already but to no luck, you are still denied. For the 10th time, the lock gave up on you and is now urging for a password reset when all of a sudden the heavens finally heard your prayer and the door automatically opened. You fell towards a pair of arms, as if on cue you are saved once again from falling directly on the floor. You grabbed on a pair of shoulders, and you felt like you've reached your bed already as your senses are welcomed with a lovely scent of fabcon, which for you is the sweetest scent in the world.
 "Hmm. I can finally sleep now." You smiled the moment you felt safe and secured within the parameters of what you think of as your bed.
"Wait, you cannot sleep on my arms." It's too late for you to wake up because you're already dozing off to dreamland.
"Oh shoot. What am I gonna do with you?" You barged into someone's room and you haven't had the slightest idea of what you'll gonna do the next morning when you wake up.
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btsarmy9593 · 6 months ago
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Catchlight - JHS - 1
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Pairing: model?hoseok x photographerreader
Genre: fluff, angst, strangers to lovers, romance, maybe some other stuff, artsy people doing artsy things
Rating: PG15 (currently, i’m considering pushing myself on content)
Word Count: 1.9k
Blurb: You don’t pick out muses in your favorite restaurant, but he’s different. You’ll find out how different.
warnings: um, charming hoseok being charming? i think that’s it. 
a/n: thank you to @xjoonchildx​ and @sasseone​ for read-throughs to encourage me to stick with this one. 
Catchlight is a photography term meaning “The reflection of a light source in a subject's eyes. Intentionally creating a catchlight by providing a small amount of illumination with a flash or reflector can make your subject look more vivid” (Nikon USA).
Wanna be tagged? Ko-fi. AO3
Series List
Chapter One - Meeting
You see him at the noodle shop. You’ve just stopped to pick up your favorite sujebi ever to be made in all of Seoul and rush to your next appointment. As you wait for your change, you take a moment to scan the area. It’s full at lunchtime of all types: business men and women, couriers, students, taxi drivers, and everything in between. You want to take a photo right then because it’s always fascinating to see such a plethora of all walks of life. Perhaps that’s why you can’t leave the city to venture anywhere else. Where else do you get this?
You are also sad and amused how 90% of the people are attached to some form of technology whether it be cell phones or e-readers or tablets. 
Maybe that’s why you first notice him. He has a book in front of him, not a tablet and not a textbook. A paperback novel, worn from use. Your eyes move to the person holding the book.
Sometimes you aren’t very good with words. Perhaps that’s why you stick with photography, using images you capture to create your unspoken words.
He’s beautiful. You can think that without adding anything else other than mere appreciation for someone well-crafted. A strong brow, sharp jawline, high cheekbones, and soft lips. There’s a beanie on the table, and his pullover is a muted green. He shouldn’t stand out, but he does. 
You take your money from the clerk before striding over to him. You have ten minutes to spare before your appointment. As you get closer, you realize that he is more attractive the closer you get with warm nutmeg hair, ruffled from a hand that runs through it on occasion. 
You pull out your card and lay it on the table. He looks up at you.
You will have to not only do black & whites, but color prints as well. Those playful brown eyes deserve to be seen.
It’s an unusual beauty, glasses perched on his nose, almost too big for his face. You aren’t sure that everyone would see the pleasing lines of his face, the nose that would be too long on someone else, the cheekbones that could have been too sharp. But together...both beautiful and interesting. 
“----------, photographer.” Jungkook likes to make fun of your professional voice, but your everyday voice sounds too flighty to be taken seriously. . 
He glances at the card then back at you, a faint smirk curving his lips. “Jung Hoseok, coffee-drinker.” There’s a lightness to his voice that makes you think he could voice work in radio. 
You smile and gesture to the seat across from him.
“Indeed. Join me.” His eyes never leave you as you slide into the chair. “Did we have a date and I stupidly forgot?”
“Do you often forget dates?” You’re concerned with the charm he’s oozing. You don’t want some cocky once-fratboy in your studio. Or someone thinking that your photography is a ploy for getting off. 
Art could certainly be stimulating, but not like that.
“No. But my aunt is always telling me the dangers of mobile phone use, so perhaps this is one of those effects.” His grin turns cheeky.
You chuckle, glancing once at the book he’s set on the table. The Little Prince. 
 Whimsy and philosophy. Interesting. 
 “I am a photographer and I was wondering if you’d be willing to be my subject for a photo shoot. I’d pay you. Not a lot, I’m afraid. I’m still building my portfolio, but I have a really impressive interview for a magazine in over a week and…”
“That’s exciting,” he interrupts, leaning on the table toward you. “You normally freelance?”
His words make you pause in your typical spiel. “Yes. I do stock photos as well. To pay rent.”
He nods as though words and terminology aren’t foreign to him. You wonder what he does if there’s no question of what ‘stock photos’ are. 
“Are you interested?” 
He rotates your business card in his hands, looking at it thoughtfully. You drop your gaze to his hands. Okay, definitely getting a shot of those long fingers. Several shots.
Focus.
He still doesn’t speak. You think of saying more about your qualifications, but don’t want to appear desperate. You glance at your watch before sliding back out of the booth. He looks up, too bright eyes curious.
“Leaving so soon?” The smile, ripe with allure and delight, makes you hesitate in considering him as a model. His face is worth thousands of photos alone and the inner part of you who adores beauty desperately wants the chance to do him justice, but that smile does weird things to your stomach.
You’re probably just hungry.
“I have an appointment. Think about it,” You put on your best business voice. “I have a website with my stuff. Take a look and if you want to, give me a call.” You stand with your takeout box, camera bag, and messenger bag over your shoulder. 
He meets your eyes and you feel that feeling again.
“If I want to,” he repeats, emphasizing the ‘want.’
You have to drag your eyes from his mouth. “I have to go. Nice to meet you, Hoseok.” You hurry off, seeking the fresh air all of a sudden with great need.
----
Jungkook shuts the door of your apartment with a sigh. “Glad that’s over. Honestly, she’s such a diva.”
You don’t look up as you scroll through the digitals you’ve just taken. “Yes, and one day someone will show her humility, but that won’t be us because she practically can’t look bad in my photos.”
Jungkook plops next to you on the only regular couch in the apartment (the other is only for photos) with an exaggerated sigh. “Food?”
“Go ahead, I want to download these and start tweaking.” You move to get up, but Jungkook reaches out to grab you by the arm and only then do you look away from the camera. “What?”
He’s pouting, his almost perfectly-symmetrical face drawn into a child’s expression. “I’m ordering pizza and I will force feed it to you if you do not voluntarily eat on your own.” The pout turns threatening. 
For all his muscles and working out, he should be intimidating, but his face and big eyes would always out him as the sweetheart he is. 
It’s why you keep him around. That, and he can do makeup witchery. 
You wrinkle your nose and pull on the errant strand of his hair that always falls over his forehead. “You are not responsible for feeding me.”
“I don’t want my ticket to a life of luxury to waste away cause she works too much.” There is another trademark pointed look from him before he gets up to call for a pizza. 
You roll your eyes and head to your makeshift bedroom. Most of the apartment you share with Jungkook is studio space. There really isn’t a living room or a dining room, all industrial studio with exposed vents, pipes and one huge window that looks out on the city. Your bedrooms are a little more than a walk-in closet for you, and loft space for him. But it’s Seoul and space costs, so you both do what you can until either you land a lucrative contract or Jungkook gets hired to do makeup on a show. 
You pull out the memory card and insert it into your laptop before sitting back down and sighing. The recent subject is very much a diva, but she has a quality that you don’t see a lot of, both darkness and light depending on the angle of the shot. So you put up with the nonsense and patronization until you get the gig that gives you a little more authority.
You feel your phone vibrate in your back pocket as you watch the downloading take ages and quickly pull it out to answer with your name.
“Hello.”
One word, you know exactly who it is. You haven’t been actively thinking about him, not really. But you have wondered several times in the last forty-eight hours if he’ll call. If he’d help you out.
“Jung Hoseok.”
“It’s the accent, right? Gwangju always gets me noticed.” There is a warmth to his tone, a teasing familiarity. Like you’ve known each other for longer than just a few minutes. 
“I’m sure that’s very difficult for you,” you tease back before leaning in your office chair. “What can I do for you, Mr. Jung?”
“Hoseok, please. I’d like to help you in this portfolio venture of yours. Do you still want me?”
Your breath hitches at the phrasing of his words, but you swallow quickly. “As a model. Yes.”
He chuckles, low and husky and you shiver, thinking that Jungkook should turn down the air conditioning. 
“How much of my time do you need?”
You move to your calendar on your laptop and open it, scanning your very fully scheduled days. “I’d really prefer you here for a whole day, but I suppose with whatever you do that might…”
“I can manage it. What day?”
You look at the phone as though it would explain. Can anyone just take off work that easily? Is that what it is like with a ‘normal’ job?
“Tuesday?” That’s in two days.
“Sure.” He waits. “Do I have any instructions and perhaps an address of where I might find you?”
“Oh right.” Your brain is hazy, but you successfully rattle out your and Jungkook’s address. “Bring a few outfits of yours that your girlfriend or wife likes you in.”
“If you wanted to know my marital status, you just had to ask.”
“Most men, even in Seoul, don’t have a clue how to dress. A female eye is often better,” you bite back and he laughs again.
“I don’t have either a girlfriend, wife, or a boyfriend in case you were wondering that too. I’ll do my best though.”
“I have some basics here as well. My roommate does makeup.” You wait for his protest on wearing makeup but there is none. “And another friend does wardrobe.” You grab a pen and paper. “Tell me your sizes.”
“For what exactly?” The humor never leaves his voice.
You roll your eyes. “Pants, suit coat, dress shirt, t-shirt, shoes, hat.”
The rumbling of his low chuckle fills your ear and you close your eyes for a second to savor it. “Right then, got a pen?” And he gives you the information though he spouts he has no idea about his hat size. “What time do you need me there?”
“No later than eight.”
“Eight o’clock. I’ll bring coffee for you and your friends.” 
“That’s not really necessary.”
“Then you must not love coffee as I do.”
You laugh. “No, I do love coffee. Go ahead then, if you’d like.”
“Excellent. So I will see you promptly at eight am on Tuesday.”
You drop your hand the moment you realize that you’re twirling your hair while speaking to him. You clear your throat, also realizing that you’d lost your ‘professional’ voice. 
“Good. See you then, Mr…I mean, Hoseok.”
“Night. Pleasant dreams.” And he ends the call. 
You stare at your phone for several seconds until your computer beeps that the photos are done loading. 
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tessatechaitea · 7 months ago
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Justice League International #9 (1988)
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I guess that means Black Canary will have to defeat the Manhunters.
I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was twelve and I'll admit that I thought Éowyn killing the Witch-king was a pretty good twist on the prophecy that he would not be killed by the hand of man. Later, as I got old enough to despise everything in the world because my sense of wonder had been worn down to a nub like a well-used eraser, I realized twelve year old me was a credulous little rat bastard who wouldn't know a good twist if it jumped up out of the lake as a drowned zombie boy and pulled him under just when he thought the film was over and he was safe. Wait a second. I don't want to discuss Éowyn anymore! Maybe I'll get back to it but I've just realized something more important. If Jason had drowned and remained a little boy from 1957 to 1979, how does he become a grown ass adult in the subsequent movies?! I suppose serious Friday the 13th fans believe Alice simply imagined being pulled into the lake, since the police found no trace of a small boy. And the actual Jason didn't drown at all but received such severe brain damage that he decided to live in the woods like Grizzly Adams. Maybe he didn't even remember his mother until she showed up to murder all those counselors and he learned who he was by observing the first movie from the woods. Then we was all, "Man! That woman killed Ma! I'll show her you can't behead my Ma and not get beheaded yourself!" Hmm, that was too easy to solve once I spent any time at all thinking about it. I wonder how many hours I could lose looking up what actual fans of the franchise think? I'll never know though because I dislike fans and fan theories almost as much as I dislike my twelve year old self for being so amazed by the Éowyn twist! Maybe the Éowyn twist is just as good as I thought it was 37 years ago. It's not like I've ever gone back to re-read The Lord of the Rings. I've only read a handful of books more than once in my life and have never re-read a book immediately after reading it until now with Gravity's Rainbow. You can blame Thomas Pynchon on my lack of reading comic books lately because his book was so fucking good and had so much going on that I had to read it again immediately. This issue takes place during the big DC Millennium event so it might be a bit confusing for me. I'll be damned if I'm going to dig through one of the forty comic book boxes lying around just to find Millennium to read before this.
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No thanks! I think I'll just muddle through!
Remember when DC had huge events that crossed over into every single comic they put out but were totally boring and inconsequential and didn't have "METAL!" in the title? I'm so glad those days are over and Scott Snyder has made crossover events super fucking hardcore and radical again! *five minutes of mouth guitar noises*
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Oh! Is this some of that Éowyn-like prophetic foreshadowing?!
Rocket Red #7 has to be the most lame attempt at having a team member betray the team, especially since he's immediately replaced by Rocket Red #4. "Whoa! What a twist!" I probably thought back at my still tender and rat-bastardly age of sixteen. Rocket Red #7 comes right out and tells everybody that he's a Manhunter. I guess part of the Manhunter philosophy is to first try and recruit man. If unsuccessful, only then do you hunt man. Batman explains to Manhunter Rocket Red #7 how to painfully shove offers like that up excretory orifices. After Black Canary gets on his ass several times for not including her in his exclamations of "gentlemen," Manhunter Rocket Red #7 learns to say, "No man—or woman—can escape the Manhunters!" So I guess no Éowyn twist this time. Hell, I'll probably never learn the twist for how the Manhunters can be defeated because that's the kind of plot point that's going to take place in the actual Millennium issues. And I probably won't re-read those for another few years!
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"Suck on this, manhunter!" was my most commonly used phrase in college.
Black Canary is so concerned about gender equality maybe she should be scolding Batman for not hiring any other women. Rocket Red #7 beats the shit out of everybody inside the ship (not Beetle's Bug for some reason probably explained in Millennium #1) and then flies out to stand on top of it and not say he's king of the world because Titanic wasn't the huge breakout romantic hit it would be a decade later. What a great movie! It had everything! Boobs, guns, people dying. Like an Agatha Christie novel but with boobs! Once Rocket Red #7 is outside of the ship, the members of the Justice League with actual, non-screaming-related super-powers take notice of him. That's because they're flying to show off to the others their super powers. The characters I'm talking about are Guy Gardner and Martian Manhunter. Booster Gold is also flying outside the ship but he's just a small town thief with a Legion flight ring and a force field. He doesn't even have a manly bulge in this super tight suit! One thing I learned that maybe I knew once but probably not for long because I don't think it was ever front loaded as part of his characterization is that Rocket Red (like all Rocket Reds) is a techno-empath. That means his suit allows him to control technology by crying or getting angry. If you know for a fact that it means something else, just keep it to yourself, okay? This isn't fucking Wikipedia. It's a stupid joke review blog that, most of the time, forgets to even review the comic book. Nobody knows how to stop Rocket Red #7 from crashing the ship into a Bialian oil refinery because if they try to stop him, he'll blow up the ship and kill everybody inside. Which, you know, will happen anyway if it crashes into the oil refinery. So I don't know why nobody tries to stop him anyway. They just fly ahead to save civilians. Luckily Rocket Reds #1-...I don't know, 53 (minus #7) save the day! I guess they use their Techno-Empathy to shut down Rocket Red #7's eyeballs.
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Oh yeah, Rocket Red #7 dies here. I mean, not here, exactly, because nobody stops the Manhunters. He dies a little later after the jump scare out of the pile of debris scene.
Max Lord consults his mysterious robotic sounding friend about the Manhunter threat but the dumb thing doesn't know any more than he does. Lord mentions that the Manhunters have gotten close to all of their potential recruits while looking at a monitor with those recruits. One of them is Halo and Geoforce from The Outsiders! Oh why oh why couldn't Halo have become a member?! Halo was my pre-Sailor Moon role model. I think I've just always wanted to be a hot young woman. Oh yeah. Didn't Doctor Jace turn out to be a Manhunter? The story ends with Maxwell Lord's personal assistant shooting him because she was also a Manhunter. How all these people were Manhunters, I'll never know! I suppose it's like when you've been playing a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for four months and suddenly one of the NPCs turns out to be a polymorphed dragon and you're all, "Holy shit! What a twist! This DM is devious!" But in reality, the DM only thought up the twist thirty minutes before that night's campaign. It's pretty much exactly like that. Every writer at DC must have gotten a memo from editorial that read: "One of your characters needs to be a Manhunter. It doesn't matter which one but it would be a lot more exciting if they were an important part of the team!" And Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatties read their memo, shrugged, and concluded they were only willing to rid themselves of Max Lord's secretary and the stupid, replaceable Rocket Red. A second short story finishes up this issue. It's about Jack-o-lantern of the now defunct Global Guardians being wooed by Bialian Rumaan Harjavti. He wants a super group of terrorists to threaten the Western world with. I guess they'll become Bialya's version of Qurac's Jihad. If it ever comes together, of course. Jack-o-Lantern would just be using Rumaan's money and support to get a new global team together. Probably. Justice League International #9 Rating: B. Did you know China has a university called the China University of Mining and Technology? That acronym is so close to being disgusting! Some translator should point it out so they can come up with a synonym for "mining" that begins with an "n" so they can sell a ton of school merch to the West.
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Character ask: How about Avatar Roku and Kyoshi? 😁😁
Okay, so keeping in mind that I have very limited knowledge of the Kyoshi novels and therefore will probably be wildly out of canon...
Avatar Roku
Sexuality Headcanon: Comfortably straight, very romantic and probably more flexible on that end.    Gender Headcanon: Masculine, but with a more traditional feminine side. Less about presentation or experimentation/expression and more like, philosophy. Roku is a mom friend.  A ship I have with said character: Honestly, I’m all for loving husband Roku. Let him and Ta Min have many happy years together.  A BROTP I have with said character: I’m getting strong Gyatso vibes for this. Similar trickster energy as we see with young Sozin. Roku likely has a lot of BROTPs, actually.   A NOTP I have with said character: So many Sozin/Roku pairings and I’m just like... maybe as young men there’s solid BROTP material there, but as adults there’s just so much murder.   A random headcanon: I feel like Roku could have been the avatar credited with using fire for healing purposes -- reducing fever / inflammation, using heightened temperature as a way to flush out infection and ease muscles, that kind of thing. He’s got such a gentle demeanor and it would be cool to see him take a non-destructive approach to his native element.  General Opinion over said character: Roku gets shat on a lot for how he handles Sozin and they aren’t invalid criticisms, but I like the idea of an unconditionally compassionate Avatar. He’s this BFG (big friendly giant) filled with cosmic power and I would 100% read or watch a series just about his adventures.  
Avatar Kyoshi
Sexuality Headcanon: Big bi energy from this lady. Absolutely dominant.   Gender Headcanon: I’m pretty certain Kyoshi doesn’t care about gender, unless it’s to affirm something for someone else.  A ship I have with said character: All I see is Kyoshi / Rangi love and though I don’t know what it is, I am here for it all the way.  A BROTP I have with said character: Again, hardly a canon-accurate take, but I get the sense that Kyoshi might have been a bit lonely? Or that close friendship was difficult? My instinct is to say that in this case, her OTP is also her BROTP, so Rangi again.    A NOTP I have with said character: Chin the Conqueror? I have no idea.  A random headcanon: Kyoshi as Roku’s primary spiritual connection was a bit of a rough ride at first, because they had such divergent personalities. I suspect by the end there was tension too.  General Opinion over said character: I love that she became the fandom’s Murder Aunt, even if that isn’t necessarily accurate to her character. 
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lilikags · 9 months ago
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Trash Talk & ‘Evil Plans’ (Oikawa Tooru)
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I sincerely wonder if gossip might be a better word, I don’t know.
Pairing: Oikawa Tooru x female reader Type: Fluff (?) I don’t think it could be much of anything else so Words: 3542
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"(y/n)... I think we should break up."
Tears formed in your eyes. You expected this- you knew it would happen, for a long time. Yet, you were still surprised. It didn't make sense to you. It was just what emotions did, you figured.
"Yes, we should break up. Enjoy your time with your new girlfriend. Don't come back to me when she gets together with someone else though. I'm not your pillow."
You walked away, holding back your tears. Your slow gait soon turned into the fastest you could run, in the direction of your house. You didn't want to see him tomorrow, but you knew you were going to anyways at school.
⊱ ────── {.⋅ ✯ ⋅.} ────── ⊰
You watched him with his new girlfriend. It's not like you really wanted to- you couldn't care less. It just happened the three of you were in the same class and it was break. Meaning, there was nothing for you to do. You didn't have any inspiration to draw anything, and no one to talk to. He used to be the one you talked to during break, but you didn't want to talk to him anymore. Actually, it's been like that for a while. He's had his eye on her for a while, and you noticed that early on. Sometimes you wish you weren't observant.
But sometimes, you liked being observant. You could pick up on things others couldn't. You were in the same class as her in every class, meaning you had a lot of opportunities to observe her. You observed everyone in class, but ever since she had taken a slight interest in Mitsuo, your boyfriend at the time and the one you recently broke up with, you started to take a closer look at her. No matter how you looked at it, she was an Oikawa fangirl. He was the most popular guy in the entire school. You understood that though- he had the looks, the personality, and he even played volleyball. You've never had such an attraction to him. It looked fake to you- the happy smiles, the nice talk. You bet he thought his fangirls were annoying. What mattered to you was personality- someone who cared. You wanted someone who loved you in a special way, an you were the only one they loved that way. Maybe you set the bar too high from the romance novels you read. But your expectations were your expectations, and of course you didn't expect something like that right away, but that was what you wanted.
You thought you could have that with Mitsuo. He was smart, and he was nice to you. You got along well, and he respected your wishes. When you couldn't make it to plans you had made, he said that it was okay and that things that needed to be done had to be done. He treated you different than any other girl; he showed a lot more interest and was often protective of you. That was before he started liking her- the Oikawa fangirl. Her name was Yumi- Yoshino Yumi. Her family was much more well off than yours, and she had chill parents who let her date whoever she wanted. Their philosophy was "A textbook lesson can teach one lesson. Experiences can teach a hundred." Yumi always had a bright smile on her face. It made her look pretty and happy and always gave her positive vibes. She was new to the school, and Mitsuo liked her from the start. Apparently she had been the most popular girl in the school she previously attended, and asked Oikawa if they could date after they met a few times. He refused her like any other girl, and you assumed she was angry. The next day, she didn't show up for class. She must have cried and you figured she didn't want to come back to school with eyes red from tears. Her excuse was that she had come down with a fever.
You once saw her take out her phone during break. You didn't mean to look; she was just right next to you and you just happened to see it. What you saw was her lockscreen- and it had Oikawa on it. She and Mitsuo shared the same look when they saw each other, as if saying, "Are we meeting after school today? (y/n) won't know." Being next to her, you ended up seeing her lockscreen a lot. You noticed some things. First, they changed every week. She never repeated a picture nor did she change it mid-week. Second, they were all touched up with editing apps, having filters and other "beautifying" tools available. Third, they were all of Oikawa. No matter how you looked at it, she still liked him.
You felt pity for Mitsuo- having a girlfriend with no real interest in him. She probably got together with him because she felt he was the best option after being rejected by Oikawa. She would probably break up with him when she found someone more attractive than him.
The bell rung and everyone returned to their seats. The teacher for their next class arrived in the classroom and started the class. You went back to taking notes and doodling on the paper when she went on a tangent. She often did that and said, "Ah, I went off-topic again. Sorry about that!" Class went by pretty quickly that day, since you were just focusing on school. When the dismissal bell rung, you packed your things in your backpack and headed to your locker. Now that there wasn't much to think about, your mind drifted to Mitsuo. You missed how he acted before, how he used to walk with you to your locker after school and you used to have conversations all the way home. You absentmindedly opened your locker, with almost an emotionless face.
"(f/n)-chan!" (b/f/n) tried to jump scare you from behind. You turned around. "What's up, (b/f/n)?" you asked, unfazed. You knew all her shenanigans and tricks. After all, you two were best friends, and the two of you were very close. You had told her about what you noticed with Mitsuo and Yumi the first day you noticed something was up, and you confided in her with just about everything. "Wanna go hang out today? And it'll be at your house, because my brother has his friends over. It won't be fun with them around," she suggested, shaking her head when she mentioned her brother's friends. They were loud and annoying, and they often liked to bother (b/f/n) when they saw her. "Sure," you agreed, closing your locker's door after getting all the things you needed. You put the lock back on and the two of you headed to your house. It was quite close to the school, and you often walked home. Usually with Mitsuo, but now it was going to be (b/f/n). You felt that was better; after all, you didn't need someone who didn't care to walk you home. At least (b/f/n) cared.
⊱ ────── {.⋅ ✯ ⋅.} ────── ⊰
By nighttime, the two of you were done with your homework and had studied for the one upcoming test you both had. You were now just hanging out, sitting in your room and talking. The two of you sat on your bed, scrolling on your phones. She had decided to stay the night- something she did often since you were young children. Your parents considered her somewhat like their own daughter, since she was basically half living in your house and half living in hers. She even wore your clothes, and it was okay since you had been sharing clothes since you could remember. The two of you were the same size, so it didn't really make much of a difference.
"Hey, (f/n)-chan, ya up to a date?" (b/f/n) looked up from her phone. "Wha-" you looked at your best friend. "Aimi and I arranged a blind date with some guys at school and I think we hit jackpot this time!" She gave you that face, the one where she was begging for you to go and you could absolutely not refuse. "Fine..." you sighed. "It can't be that bad, after all, maybe you'll find the right guy this time," you thought, getting up to stretch. "When is it?" "Tomorrow! I don't even need to ask if you're free: you are. What else do you have to do?" she giggled. "Right. When exactly, tomorrow though? I know I'm free but I need to have an idea of when it'll be, so I can get ready," you took out your phone again, putting a reminder on your phone. "Lunch, right at noon. Don't you forget!" "I have a reminder right here- I won't forget," you put down your phone and plugged it in to charge it and pulled the covers over you. "Night, I'm tired now." "Night! Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite!" You  laughed at (b/f/n). It was a childish thing to say, so like her, "Yes, yes."
⊱ ────── {.⋅ ✯ ⋅.} ────── ⊰
"(y/n)~ Wake up~" you heard (b/f/n) say in you ear as she pulled the blanket off of you. "Argh, stop, I'm still sleeping," you turned back around. "You're going to wake up in two seconds," she declared. "1! 2!" As she counted to two, she pulled the blanket off again, this time making it out of your reach. You frantically reached for the blanket, waking yourself up in annoyance. "You got me there," you said, getting up and rubbing your eyes. You looked at the clock. It was 10:24 AM. "Let's go get ready! The blind date's gonna be soon~" (b/f/n) hopped over to the kitchen to find your mom cooking breakfast. (b/f/n) got even more excited when she saw the waffles being made and immediately grabbed a plate and the whipped cream from the fridge. She sat down on the island table, sitting at a place she could easily see the waffles being made.
You still sat on your bed, stretching. You definitely didn't feel like going out today, not one bit. On days like these, Mitsuo would come over and the two of you would just talk all day, sitting on your bed in your room. You would talk about anything, from what you did in the morning to a huge event that was happening. It was easy to talk to him, easy to tell him all your worries, easy to listen to him. Maybe that's what love did.
Nonetheless, you had to get up. You promised (b/f/n) you would go, and you weren't going to break that promise and trust you had built up over your whole life. She was a sensitive person, and you would rather deal with some annoying people then lose her. So, you went to get ready. You headed over to the bathroom and turned on the shower, so that you could get your clothes while the water warms up. You then walked back into your room and over to your closet, picking out a cute outfit to wear. It was warm today, so you decided a t-shirt and denim shorts would do. You picked out a simple white t-shirt with a cute duck drawn on it and a pair of shorts made from ripped denim. You spotted a light jacket with a flower design made of almost see-through fabric you recently bought and figured it would be a good time to wear it.
You went back to your bathroom and lay the clothes onto a dry part of the countertop by the sink and felt the water from the shower with your hand to see if it was warm yet. Drying off your hand with your pajamas, you took them off and headed into the shower. Meanwhile, when you were in the shower, (b/f/n) started talking to your mom while she was making the waffles. You hadn't told your mom yet about the breakup with Mitsuo, and you planned on telling her eventually, when she noticed something. (b/f/n), being (b/f/n), just had to go tell your mom about it. "Did you notice something about (y/n) today?" (b/f/n) got up to take a closer look at the waffles. "She does seem a bit down, but it could be due to many things. I'm sure it'll be over soon," your mom replied, focusing on the waffles. "Well, actually, she broke up with Mitsuo. More like Mitsuo broke up with (y/n), but nonetheless they broke up." Your mom stopped what she was doing for a second, "Huh? But I thought they were doing so well!"
When you were done with your shower, you turned off the water and grabbed your towel, which had your name on it. You mom thought it was a good idea to have everyone's names embroidered on their towels, and she had that done for New Years a few years back. Once dried, you quickly put on your clothes and brushed your hair, fixing it in a (hairstyle). You then put on some light makeup and headed out of the bathroom and into the kitchen, smelling the aroma of fresh waffles. You heard the name Mitsuo as you walked in and stopped before they could see you, listening in a bit on their conversation. "(b/f/n), seriously? I know you're the type to do that, but still, ugh," you thought to yourself. After a few minutes of listening in on the conversation, you decided to come out, hungry. You didn't eat that much last night, and waffles were delicious. You acted as if you didn't hear anything and got a plate of waffles for yourself, until your mom said, "(y/n), you broke up with Mitsuo?" "Yeah, we can talk about it later," you said, starting to eat your waffle at a faster pace.
You went back to the bathroom to brush your teeth, thinking about what you were going to say to your mom about Mitsuo. You'd known about this for a long time, yet you hadn't thought about what you were to say to your mom about what happened. Were you going to tell her the truth? It seemed like a favorable option, until you realized she'd make a big deal about it. You didn't want that; it would make it seem you were still hung up about that, and that was one of the last things you needed at the moment.
You headed back to your room to wait for (b/f/n) as she got ready. It always took her just about forever to get ready, especially for an occasion as big as this, so you laid in bed, playing games on your phone. They weren't exactly engaging, you would say, but they were definitely intriguing and good time passers. "Hey (y/n), Aimi can't make it to the blind date, and one of the guys too. Apparently her mom is dragging her to some class because she didn't get a good grade. Aimi, don't die! The guy that isn't coming is in the soccer club and there was an emergency meeting. So, it's just the two of us and the other two guys. This'll be interesting!" (b/f/n) said from the bathroom as she was fixing her makeup. You nodded in response, but internally, you were freaking out. Aimi was always good at making things less awkward for you, gladly taking the attention you didn't want in socially awkward situations. She was your saving grace in these kinds of situations, and you didn't know what to do without her.
After what felt like forever, (b/f/n) finally finished her makeup and got out of the bathroom. You stopped playing the game you were playing and got up from your bed. You walked over to the front door, slipping on your shoes and started heading your way to the bus station. The cafe Aimi had the arranged the blind date at wasn't far, but it was much quicker to get there by bus. After all, (b/f/n) took forever to do everything.
It wasn't long until you arrived at the cafe, with a wooden and plant themed aesthetic. There was a vine wall, which you thought was neat and the colors matched well.  A lot of wood was used throughout the cafe, but it all matched and didn't feel repetitive due to the different types wood used. The two of you sat down at a table Aimi reserved and waited for the guys.
The two of you didn't wait long before one of the guys showed up, and (b/f/n) instantly started talking to him. You knew who he was- he was on the basketball team and was pretty popular among the girls. Aimi had liked him for a long time, no wonder she was eager to talk to him. The two, being pretty similar, hit it off pretty quickly, leaving you to sip your (drink) by yourself while you waited for the other guy. You started to think he wouldn't come, and that was alright with you since you weren't thinking of dating someone yet.
After a while, and you had almost completely forgotten about the mysterious guy who wouldn't show up, until someone in a volleyball uniform showed up. He seemed tired, though he didn't how it much. He smiled and looked as if he was enjoying the attention given to him by both (b/f/n) and her partner. You felt you shouldn't care less, but you couldn't help but want to get out of there already. You knew who it was- Oikawa Tooru- and you already didn't want to talk to him. You were already in a bad mood and someone with a personality like his did not seem like a good combination to you.
"Hey, you're pretty cute. You're (y/n), right? I think I've seen you in the hallways before," he started. "Yeah," you put down your phone and looked at him with the most "can I go home, this is the most boring thing ever and I couldn't care less" face. "You know, you were half an hour late. Shouldn't you have learned manners?" "I did learn manners! I was just busy and forgot to notify Aimi about it." He then struck back,  "Oh, I heard you broke up with your boyfriend recently. Mitsuo, was it?" he asked, ordering a drink of his own. Your mood went even more south, when he asked that. That was your business, what right did he have to ask about it? "Yeah. He cheated on me with one of your fangirls." "Oh wow." "That's all you have to say?" "Well, it's not like I'm in control of my fandom." "Yeah, but you have the power to influence them into not doing rude things, like interfering with other people's business." "You're saying that I should have stopped that girl from going to Mitsuo?! That makes no sense." "You could have been nice and tried." "It's literally that witch who started it. She goes around asking certain guys out one after another and if she gets rejected, she goes to the next one. She did that to me too. She's so annoying, honestly." "Yeah. Honestly, I feel pity for her. She doesn't have anyone, so she just goes around searching for someone until she gets somebody. I bet she doesn't even like Mitsuo." "The way she acts, I bet she's just using them, till she can find a guy she likes." "Exactly! Honestly, I want to see her face when she realizes that people don't like her. Honestly." "That's a genius idea."
The two of you then started with the prank planning, putting whatever ideas out there and concocting a vicious plan to expose her. On the other hand, (b/f/n) and her date were having a pleasant conversation. They talked about a number of things, mostly funny stories. You didn't even realize she told him about that time you messed up cracking an egg while saying you were better than her at cooking.
Before you knew it, you had spent hours talking to him, forming a plan to expose this entitled brat and see the face the two of you wanted to see. It was around 3 when the other guy had to leave for practice with his team, and (b/f/n) exchanged contact info with him and waved him goodbye. With a smile on her face, she looked towards the two of you. Both you and Oikawa wore grins that signaled trouble, and (b/f/n) wondered what happened between the two of you. She nudged you that the other guy had left and she was waiting, and it so happened that the two of you were wrapping up your brilliant plans.
"Hey, maybe we should exchange phone numbers so we can finish up our plans? They're gonna be great." you said to him, standing up. "Yes, that would be awesome," he took out his phone as you took out yours.
⊱ ────── {.⋅ ✯ ⋅.} ────── ⊰
"Hey, (y/n), I wonder what you two were talking about. The two of you looked like you were evil villains in a movie planning something," (b/f/n) said to you on your way home. "Oh, you'll see, (b/f/n). It'll be glorious." you smiled.
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˚₊·͟͟͟͟͟͟͞͞͞͞͞͞➳❥ ꒰ ⌨ ✰ Lili ⁱˢ ᵗʸᵖⁱⁿᵍ··· ꒱ | ೃ࿔₊•
A/N: Hey! Sorry this took a whole month to write, school started and everything's been a mess. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this! Question: did it feel like it dragged or was it good?
Also, this is dedicated to my friend Hyacinth :3 (and tagging @kisasaysmuah because (yes this is the reason))
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Image credits: Daan Evers on Unsplash
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antihero-writings · 9 months ago
Text
Such Fragile Things
Fandom: Castlevania (I wrote it for the Netflix series, but it works for SOTN too!)
Summary: Dracula thought love was soft, and breakable...but what he feels holding his newborn son is anything but. || Some Dracula and and Adrian feels.
Character focus: Dracula
Notes: I also posted this on my Castlevania blog @symphonyofthewrite if you want to check it out there!! (Decided to repost it instead of reblogging it because I wanted to use different notes here XD)
Chapter 1: His Son's Life
Dracula did not read romance novels. He wasn’t really one for novels in general, especially written by humans. Science. Philosophy. Medicine. Not flights of fantasy.
But the humans have a word for this…and it isn’t quite scientific.
That word is ‘love.’
…But that can’t possibly cover it.
But ‘love’ was always a silly little notion. Love was flowers and candy. Love was sappy letters and maudlin advances. ‘Love’ was sensitive and easy to break. ‘Love’ was soft.
But this… this is anything but soft.
This is a thing that does the breaking. It is painful, and sharp in the way it pierces him so thoroughly. It is tethered so tightly around his heart, that if he tried to sever its bonds his heart would burn, and quite possibly break.
This is daggers and I’d die for you. This is a stake stabbed through the chest.
And that is not what he knows of love.
The the baby boy murmurs quiet nonsense beside his sleeping mother.
Vlad stands over the cradle—(a cradle his parents made out of metal, and cotton, and dedication)—the fabric soft against his fingers.
His mother. A human. Completely, and thoroughly. No turning necessary. He could have turned her…but that would have sullied the pink of her cheeks, the red of her lips, the blue of her eyes.
So many humans are out for blood without thirst involved. He needn’t corrupt one that didn’t experience such desires.
Just an ordinary human, who was either brave or very stupid… or maybe a bit of both to walk straight into the demon’s castle. Maybe she was just curious. …He hoped it wouldn’t kill her one day, like the cat who meant well.
His mother. Lisa. With golden hair, and certain shimmer to her words too.
His father. Dracula. A vampire. The vampire. The king of night and all its hordes. A scary story, full of blood and death and the moon was full that night.
—(Could he even be a father after all that killing? Was there a father behind all that bloodshed? Dare he even try to keep something alive, when these hands were constructed to kill?)—
And Adrian. Just born, already with one foot in each world. Half human. Half vampire. The stars dripped from the ceiling, and the sun spilled in through the window.
Would they hurt him for it?
Would this fact grant him safe passage into both worlds, or make him hated by both? Had he cursed this being to a life of not belonging? Or had he given him an opportunity no one else had; to belong to both?
Would being Dracula’s son make him a villain? Or would it make him a prince? Would the humans fear and hate him? Would the vampires bow to him?
Would being Lisa’s son make him a hero? Would the humans accept him as one of them? Would the vampires exile him as a half-breed, impure, no matter if his father had a castle, and a crown, and fangs all too ready to sink into their necks?
Barely noticeable now, he has golden hair like his mother, and fangs like his father.
…He wonders how this creature, so full of light, could come from the king of night.
Then Adrian starts crying.
The king of night is uh…not equipped for this. He’s never comforted a crying child before. He’s made more than a few cry in his time, but he’s never been on the other end…it seems the much more difficult side of things.
He has half—(okay, more than half)—a mind to wake Lisa for help. …But Lisa has done enough for today. Surely he can handle one crying baby.
Vlad is careful not to let his nails pierce the child’s skin as he scoops him up, cradling him in his arms.
Adrian is so small. It doesn’t feel like he’s made of thumping, pumping blood and bone. He feels as if he’s made of glass, and Dracula fears he’ll shatter in his hands.
Dracula has killed so many things in his life. He has killed humans, and animals and, yes, another vampire or two. But he doesn’t want to kill this one. He is so desperate to keep him alive he thinks he might die himself before he saw anything touch him.
Lisa stirs, and Vlad moves the child further away so as not to wake her. He sits in the chair in the corner of the room, by the basket full of toys he will soon play with, and the alphabet charts he will soon learn with.
Dracula did not read romance novels. But he had once heard a lullaby, and he wonders if he can remember the lyrics.
At the gentle song, slowly Adrian calms down in his father’s arms, and looks up at him with those golden eyes.
And Dracula wonders if the world was always this big.
Vampire’s eyes are usually so cold and dark. But he is only half dark, and his eyes are full of sunlight.
He looks up at his father, this dark thing, the killer, the monster king. The creature they said could never learn to love.
And Adrian smiles.
When Dracula returns that smile, it is not an evil sneer tugging at his lips. It is like his face breaks, pouring out all the joy inside him. He leans forward and rests his forehead gently upon Adrian’s.
“My boy.”
******
Notes: 
First of all, stay tuned, because I'm probably going to post another chapter of this!! (Fair warning, though, it's gonna be pretty different from this one tonally...though very much related, and feels-inducing!!)
Don't know if anyone will believe me, but this is actually the first Castlevania fic I ever wrote!! This was actually the precursor to “If These Walls Could Talk”!!
 I was playing with how to start the scene, and I started describing that "Castlevania was not a good place to raise a child" thing that starts off “If These Walls Could Talk”. Then the way I was describing it started sounding like I was personifying the Castle, and then I was like WAIT THAT'S A BETTER IDEA XD So I kinda got more interested in that idea, haha! (By the way, if any of the lines from this fic are also in If These Walls Can Talk too, now you know why XD I didn't intend for there to be any repeats though.) 
Then a little while later I got a really nice prompt asking me to write a diary-style fic about Drac and Lisa recounting Adrian's birth, and I was thinking this ^^ fic and its images would work really well for it, so I didn't post it after that because I thought I'd reconfigure it for the diary thing.
I loved the prompt, but diary-style implies first person...and first person is really tough for fanfiction, and even more so a character like Dracula. It's weird, I love going into characters internal monologue, and I love first person (at least I do as far as my original writing goes), but in fanfiction when I try to write first person it feels almost like "I don't have a right to say I know directly what they're thinking"??...but it's weird, cuz I pretty much already do that... Sorry, I'm rambling! I really hope I can still write that diary fic at some point, but at the moment I'm still struggling, haha.
I've been wanting to get better at editing faster, and posting more often. Lately I've been going through my old/unfinished fics and trying to polish them up and post them, even if they're not perfect in my eyes. So I decided to go back to this one and finish it up anyways! If I do the diary one I guess I'll just have to use other images!
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f-society-arcade · 9 months ago
For the ask game- 69 (lmao), 68, 63, 62, 53, and 34 (is this too many??)
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69 - Do you believe in soulmates?
Hehe 69. Nice.
As a romantic, I want to say yes. Like I am such a sucker for those Soulmate AU fics with like the tattoos or the first words or the seeing colors for the first time, like I love love and I love that shit. The idea of immediately knowing someone and them knowing you so perfectly intimately, that you were literally MADE for them and vice versa is *mwah!* for my little sappy heart.
But my pessimism says probably not? Like I’m pretty bad at math but like what are the actual, statistical odds that out of alllllllllll the people on this floating hell rock that you would actually meet your soulmate or your absolute perfect match.
And sometimes I think thats a big problem for some people and relationships? Like I know someone who is always looking for “the perfect guy” but like that’s not a thing, people are people you know? She’s put this imaginary person on such an impossibly high pedestal that it ruins actual relationships.
Tldr; being a romantic AND a pessimist is hard dude
68 - Who’s the last person you had a deep conversation with?
Probably my friend Jordan. Jordan is great. He’s an ex, my high school sweetheart. We broke up about four years ago and there was no hard feelings about it and we’re still really good friends. I’m sure you’ve seen me bitch about House of Leaves a million times, we’re reading it together and facetime every week to talk about it. I call it our “Baby Book Club”. He’s so smart dude, idk if I’ve ever told him this but he’s probably like one of the smartest people I know. Getting to talk with him about the characters and the House is so fascinating. I mean, it’s always cool to consume media and watch how other peoples brains work in interpreting it. Like you already know I’m bad at that kinda stuff and the book is difficult enough as it is, but watching him peel back the layers and go “Okay see, the House knows their mentalities, its almost representative of their psyche. Like Holloway expects X and then Becomes X! But then when Navidson goes in the dark hallway and Y happens? Its because...” (thats me trying not to spoil anything for anybody else who’s considering reading this monstrosity of a novel but also explain how much smarter he is than me). And we just talk about anything and everything. We talked on Tuesday until like 2am about philosophy and his new interest in Buddhism and it was super awesome. Its awesome to have a person that you can talk to about anything and everything and nothing whatsoever.
I know a part of me will always love Jordan, he’s such a great person and he’s so interesting to talk to and I really should tell him that.
Tldr; my friend Jordan
63 - Would you change your name?
See below but the short answer is nah fam. I’d link it but mobile hates me basically
62 - What makes you happy?
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens!
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens!
Ok I’m done meme-ing but I do really like all those things.
My chubby wubby cat makes me so stupidly happy. His name is Zoro bc he only has one eye and while he doesn’t hunt pirates, he is an excellent bug hunter! Pic below bc cat tax obvi. He’s so handsome and even though he’s only 3, we’ve been through a lot together and he’s been by my side through the worst of things. He’s a butthole who yells for attention at 4am and throws things on the floor and hides my chapstick from me but I love this little fucker.
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Books, books make me happy. I have come to terms with the fact that buying books and reading books are two different hobbies and I really like buying books. I have so many books on my “Things to Read” list its insane, but I want to have a personal library in my house one day and I gotta start somewhere!
53 - What is the last thing you did before you went to bed last night?
I just recently bought a Nintendo Switch and I’ve been playing that before bed. Animal Crossing, specifically. Late night AC is so soothing. The music is so chill, there’s no rush in the world. The music and the ocean sounds are just 👌🏻
There’s different creatures to catch at night versus during the day, so I’m just working on beefing up my museum. Like that tweet like “The first one always goes to Blathers, I say, handing my infant son to the owl”
I also have Pokemon Lets Go Eevee (bc Eevee is my favorite pokemon, Sylveon specifically), but I haven’t even started it bc I’ve just been so hyped on being the only person on an island full of sentient animals hahaha
34 - Who/what was your last dream about?
Dude. I like almost never dream? Idk what that is. My mom doesn’t either and neither did her mom so I wonder what that’s about? Or I mean, I’ve been told that you always dream and I just don’t remember it or whatever.
But the last one I remember is honestly horrifying. So don’t read if you’re squeamish!!
It was maybe like a month or so ago? And all I can remember is like... like picture the torture rooms in the FOB? Like gritty dirty disgusting tiles everywhere and nasty yellow lighting. And all I can remember is a dog? Like a doberman type dog, hanging from the ceiling. And it was very much alive and panicking and in pain and swinging around and there were these faceless people trying to tattoo this dog? And I can hear the sounds of the tattoo gun and the chains rattling and this dog like whining and crying and it’s just bone chilling. I feel like Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs bc I can still hear it screaming.
And I woke up like really abruptly and it kinda scared me and I have no idea what it means. Like I wish I could tell Sigmund Freud to stick that in his pipe and smoke it because I was so shook that day.
Tldr; never owned a Doberman but I can hear its cries
Dude these are so much fun, I understand why people do these now.
And you are never too much my darling 🖤
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imaginarystateofdenial · 9 months ago
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Okay, I’ve taken a nap, MORE READMORE TIME ABOUT A SHOW I ENJOY spoilers ahead
Infinity Traaaaain spoilers because wow,
It’s fun reading the tag cause like... You absolutely can’t take this season in by itself,
People are like, conveniently forgetting that Amelia REMOVED passengers coming onto the train with proper context. She left in the mechanics of other passengers coming onto the train, but let’s look at the fact that Tulip, just a child, was able to figure out the coding of the train better than Amelia in a matter of months when she was on it for YEARS.
Tulip’s “whY WOULD I WANT U TO MAKE ME A CAR, U CAN’T EVEN MAKE ONE WITHOUT TURTLES” and she rite!!
Once again- NO ONE BEFORE TULIP WAS GETTING INTRO VIDEOS ABOUT WHY THEY WERE ON THE TRAIN AND ITS PURPOSE. Like, I’m rewatching their intro video now and Grace... Is trying to lead Jesse down her path out of genuine belief that she’s right. Oh wow, Simon has always been grabby, he tried that with Jesse jfc.
Anyway-- But One-One comes back into power, the Apex rejects his message! Why?
Because literally, we watch Simon and Grace just.. Having fun on train and escaping whatever problems they were having at home. Grace sees Amelia just.. Taking what she wants from the car and follows through with that unintended message. The train is here for your taking.
And here comes One-One saying they need to leave. Who is u??
But anyway, I need to reread the tags again but I feel like there’s been no emphasis on Grace’s “I don’t know” which I ranted about in the morning.
This show does a LOT of showing, just as much as it tells us directly. I feel like a lot of people kind of... Miss out on the showing, or at least, forget it in moments like these.
We get shown plenty of times that Simon has a crush on Grace and as much as she manipulated him, he also chose to follow along due to liking her so much. But even his crush on her didn’t prevent him from killing Tuba after her direct order not to. Grace came to Simon as a friend when she told him that. But after that, she continuously used her rank to keep him in line and even that didn’t work. 
He finally lets her go when she “chooses” a null over him. She’s never going to “care” about him in the way he sees himself caring about her. 
Right before the roachdog attacks, Simon still fully believes Grace owes him. Owes him for everything apparently. Grace while, in her tape, does take responsibility for her part in building the Apex ideology, but Simon spits in the face of every opportunity to change his mind. Especially in the case of respecting Grace’s autonomy. 
Like, Simon reveals that he had been going through Grace’s memories. He knew she had an unhappy childhood. And the happiest she had been was when she came on the train.
But the scene with the conductor, the very uncaring conductor... Simon still tries to blame Amelia for Grace changing her mind. But it’s all Grace. And when she takes responsibility for her change of heart, he no longer cares what happens to her.
Like... Simon didn’t know whether or not Grace would come back. But he chooooose fucking CHOSE to drill in the Apex kids minds that if they see Grace, IT’S ON SITE, KILL THAT DECEIVING HOE
He chose to leave out what actually happened on their separation from the Apex. 
And while it’s a silly 10 seconds, Grace picking up his out in the open fantasy novel... He was still diluting himself with lies and fantasy where he’s the hero here.
The throne that he and Grace sat on was one of lies. Grace’s lies weren’t out of malice, but Simon’s definitely were. If anything needs to get wheeled, it’s that goddamn throne. 
So back to that “I don’t know...”
While people are clear to see Grace’s attempts at bringing Simon on the side of chance, people are rly ignoring his own attempts at returning to complacency despite that also being clearly spelled out. 
I swear to one-oneeeee, hah, that was him giving her one final shot of giving him back everything she “owed” him. Now, there wasn’t any actual right answer to his question because everything Grace says is a lie to him.
That “I don’t know” was the first time in a while she had been completely honest with him without a second thought. No walls, no passive props to herself.
When Grace first saves Simon from the roachdog, this is the same instance of “I don’t know”-- Okay, so, it’s not a literal “I don’t know” tho-- It was instinctive. It, for Grace, wasn’t a question of whether or not Simon deserved to be saved. For Grace... It was just the right thing for HER to do. 
Simon isn’t special in this aspect.
There wasn’t a declaration of love. No mention of love. And definitely no “I owe you”
And that was the issue for Simon. Once again... Grace asserting her autonomy. Her not actively choosing him. 
Just that whole sober pause before he DECIDES to go through with kicking her off the train. The way his mind was too far gone (at the moment) to see Grace as anything but what should have been his prize for sticking to his beliefs. 
Simon had liked their dynamic, he said it himself. But Grace saw what they had become. Toxic.
And it wasn’t always like that!! 
In Grace’s earlier memories, we don’t see any instances of them wheeling denizens together. They’re just... Enjoying the train. We also see that Grace never got a companion.
Wheeling denizens came sometime later. I did see people saying that perhaps, it came about in an unhealthy coping mechanism for Simon who couldn’t get over Samantha’s abandonment. 
“Samantha abandoned me!!” “...Well, she’s-- She’s not even real!” 
And despite everything, Simon clearly held onto the feeling and the belief that she is real. Simon knew denizens are real. And apparently, did try to kill her too at some point before this all happened.
But if he can’t kill her... He’ll just kill everything like her.
Before I forget, I still can’t get a feel on what was going through Simon’s mind when Grace was saved. His number doesn’t change. But he isn’t actively trying to continue his revenge. He just... Watches. And then WHAM.
And jfc, as he’s being killed by the roachdog... He’s crying. 
I don’t really believe the roachdogs are there as the train for exacting punishment. That completely goes against One-One’s notecard philosophy of “everyone is here for growth!”
Amelia, with her highest number, had to be given a SHIELD to protect her-- And that shield is clearly for the roachdogs.
The roachdogs are clearly just.. Attracted to high numbers and the higher your number, the faster they can eat you. 
Cause really, compare it to the way both Tulip and Grace were attacked. Simon died in basically an INSTANT. That CAN’T be random. ...Well, it can, but that would rly betray the narrative to me.
Simon met a tragic fate that, in the story itself, no one wanted for him. Grace even with her “i don’t know”-- she didn’t know in her brain, but knew in her heart, that she didn’t want Simon to die despite all that he did. She was trying to convince him to the very end that she understood that he was in pain and that he could still change.
But, he didn’t want that.
It is very possible that watching Grace being saved by denizens, denizens that HE tried to kill... Was going to change something in him. 
For me, it’s just the way his irises get bigger as he watches Grace board the train and the kids cheering. 
It’s very possible that he would’ve walked away. It’s possible that he would’ve tried to kill her again.
We... Just don’t know. And we’ll never know. That’s what makes his death heart-breaking rather than satisfying. We all recognize that he was traumatized and we all want to believe that people can change. But sometimes, we do run out of chances. 
Back on the topic of reading the tag... It’s funny to me that people are doing what Simon would’ve absolutely hated. They’re babying him. They’re calling him a child.
In the Cat’s car after she gives him the tools to trap Grace-- She warns him. Warns him of the danger of watching your own tape. Warns him of the danger of prying into the mind of those you love.
Simon rejects the notion that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He states that he isn’t a kid anymore. He still gives Grace the opportunity to return to their normal. After that.. He was gone.
It’s not clear how long Grace was in her tape, but everyone agrees that Simon looks older but.. Is he actually that much older? I doubt it because literally all the kids are the same. 
Simon chooses to forgo anything that makes him look “childish”. He also gets rid of his ponytail which was a CONSTANT touching point for Grace and one of her nicknames for him. He literally sheds his former childish exterior. 
There’s a lot of comparisons to be made about how the Apex car looks before and after Simon’s coming into power. Were there clear changes in number of how many kids were in the cart?
Without doing much digging, the clearest thing is that he’s stripped the Apex of their own autonomy and turned them into his soldiers. Honestly, if I had to guess, this was a lot of the building block to how his number got so high. Taking out his fears and frustrations on other passengers.
Look how goddamn afraid Lucy is when another Apex calls for reinforcements. They had been training for this. They’ve... Probably been training by wheeling other denizens. 
Grace.. Did it for fun, out of forced ignorance to the autonomy of the denizens.
Simon... Did for vengeance, for power, to build his version of what it means to be strong.
Just... Simon, jfc Simon. His end is a tragic lesson of the train that takes no happiness in his demise. No one is happy in story that Simon wasn’t able to see the light and change for the better. Grace is going to miss the good times with Simon and while she does know she wasn’t responsible for ‘fixing’ him, she’s upset that she’ll never be able to join him on this new journey of self discovery.
I haven’t mentioned Hazel at all, but Grace also realizes that Hazel was right to leave her and that she really did what was best for herself. That she is responsible for the trauma Hazel experienced by trying to force her to remain with the man who killed her surrogate mother. 
Hazel was so right to tell Grace “Good luck” she doesn’t say goodbye, which would have probably destroyed Grace right then and there-- But good luck, to whatever path Grace is going head down now. Good luck with your number. Good luck with the apex. Good luck with... Simon. Hazel did recognize the good in Grace, but she wasn’t going take the risk of constantly being put down or walking back into the lion’s den.
Grace says that to Simon, even with the mistakes she made, she respected Hazel’s autonomy to leave her, despite it destroying her emotionally for the moment. It needed to happen. While Grace may never be able to make amends with Hazel, she recognizes that she isn’t owed forgiveness. But there’s still something else she can do in her memory. 
When Grace goes to the Apex, she is not there to fight Simon. She’s there to make amends with the kids she has also done wrong by. That whole speech she made at the end... That is probably the speech she wanted to give the kids from the get-go.
Anyway! I started school this week so jfc, I better be able to write paper as much as I am able to ramble on and on about this damn series. Haaai future Sam!
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vkelleyart · 10 months ago
okay so I've had a bit of a rough time recently in terms of relationships and loving someone and I just want to say that your wedding art was the most beautiful reminder to keep believing that love like that is real, and powerful, and not to shut myself off from it because I know it will be worth it – kinda disney but that's what YA fiction teaches you:) anyways I'm off to go read WTTHTM and probably cry but I'm so down for it. Love your work as always.
First off, I’m so sorry you’ve been going through a rough time. I’ve been there and I sympathize 100%. You may remember in the “Wedding Letters” post that I vaguely alluded to some unhappy circumstances ahead of receiving Mike’s first message. In short, one of my closest friends had decided to kiss me to test his devotion to his girlfriend. He failed to tell me he was still involved with her when it happened, and I only found out about it after he ghosted me and a mutual friend later informed me that I’d been used. I'd gone from feeling high and happy to feeling lower than I’d felt in a long, long time. It was the second time in two years that someone had used me as a catalyst to either end or preserve a relationship with someone else.
I was pretty sure there was no hope. Being gray-ace (and not knowing it at the time) already made my relationships complicated; opening myself up to someone was usually a herculean feat. Imagine my surprise when Mike appeared and everything that usually came with difficulty was suddenly easy. For one who typically took YEARS to form that kind of attachment, it felt pretty miraculous indeed.
But that’s just my story. Everyone’s is different. I’m ecstatic that my art for the zine gave your faith in love a boost, but let me also remind you that the most important love is the love you give yourself. As much as I complained through it, the years I was single taught me to feel comfortable in my own skin, in my own company, so that when I finally was in a partnership, I was able to hold my own, so to speak (as opposed to losing myself in it).
I think that’s what Simon and Baz are hopefully about to learn in AWTWB: that in order to truly love someone else the way they deserve, you must accept and love yourself as you are. Individually. Unconditionally. 
I’m so sorry for this novel of a reply and hope you didn’t mind getting into the trenches of my philosophies on love with me. All I can say is, hang in there. You are worthy of love and validation, and if you desire it, romance as well. Keep the door of your heart open. As Ebb says to Simon in WTTHTM:
“...remember always to stay soft”—she pointed to my chest—“in here.”
Thank you so much for your kind words about “Wedding Letters” (and for reading WTTHTM!). Sending you light and love, friend. <3
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jungshookz · 11 months ago
Hiiii cee, so question, we been knew that all of the couples are some kind of soulmate and are in that shit for life bUt, if u had to think of one or more -for whatever reason- who do you think would be more likely to break up for good?
hmMmm out of all of the couples i feel like maybe librarian!joon and y/n??? i know that opposites attract but in this case they’re literally comPLETE opposites so that might be something that could make them butt heads and eventually break up :-(( like y/n will get too into her head about how she’s not smart and well-read enough for joon which has always always been one of her biggest insecurities in their relationship and joon might find it difficult to make her feel better just because he’s?? not very good at comforting people?? and the argument will start off with something small like namjoon teasing y/n about how she said romeo and juliet was a “trajectory. what’s the word? tramedy?” (she was thinking of traGEDY) and joon would be like heeheehaha how do u not know the word tragedy u silly dum dum >:D but after all this internal buildup y/n will finally snap and just be like yeah!!!! yeah i am stupid!!!! okay!!! i’m a frickin idiot i get it!!!! 
“i was kidding!! it was banter!!! you know i’m no good at banter- i just don’t understand why you’re getting so hyped up about thi-”
“well, you’re clearly the smarter one out of the two of us. i’m just the dumbass, right? i’m always the dumbass!” you snap as you slap your book shut, “god, you always have to rub in my face how much better you are than i am-”
“i have never- when have i ever done that?!” namjoon gawks before scoffing, “you’ve been so... so on edge lately and i don’t know if it’s something i’ve done or if it’s something to do with your courses because you won’t talk to me about it-” 
“why don’t you go figure it out??” you cross your arms and huff, “you’re the one with the bigger brain-”
“i don’t want to figure it out if you can just tell me the answer right now!” namjoon throws his arms up into the air, “y/n, just talk to me, you know you can talk to me-” 
you resist the urge to throW your book at namjoon as you get up off his couch
you can’t explain why you’re getting so worked up over his harmless little comment
it’s just... you know he doesn’t do it on purpose and his intention is never to hurt you but you always feel so inferior compared to namjoon whenever you guys are together
and it’s hard to pretend that everything is okay when the question that’s always on your mind is ‘am i good enough for him?’
he deserves to be with someone who can keep up with all his novel references 
someone who understands all the dorky philosophy jokes he makes
it’s not just because you don’t understand what he’s talking about half of the time that you’re feeling this way 
it’s hard to explain
you feel like you’ve wasted his time
you feel like he knows he can do better 
you feel like he deserves to be with someone who... 
who isn’t you.
... 
maybe you’re just being dramatic about this but you know that you can’t be here right now 
there’s just a loT going through your mind and you need to figure this out on your own without namjoon freaking out in front of you 
“oh, i see, so you’re just going to leave, then?” namjoon shakes his head when you start shoving your things back into your purse, “just do what you always do, y/n - panic and leave when things get hard-” 
“i think we should break up.” the phrase slips from your mouth before you even realize it and you’re able to pinpoint the exact moment namjoon’s heart splinters in his chest
(his eyes flicker and his shoulders droop) 
“wh- what?” namjoon blinks cluelessly, “what do you mean-” 
you shrug as you chew on the inside of your cheek anxiously, “we should break up.” 
“but- but i-” namjoon’s eyes start to glaze over and you swallow the lump growing in your throat, “i-i don’t- i don’t understand-” 
this’ll be better for the two of you in the long run, right? (no) 
namjoon will find someone better suited for someone of his stature and you’ll... 
well, you’ll probably find someone. 
you’re making the right decision, right? (no)
you’re 100% sure about this, right? (no)
if you truly loved namjoon, you know that this is the right thing to do... and you do love namjoon with every fibre of your being, so... 
writing this gave me The Depression so i’m stopping here before i fall into an endless pit of miSERY 
:-(
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randomwriting-misc · 11 months ago
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Spilled Tea and Dry Eyes | Part Two | Spencer Reid
Author’s Note: Ah! I am very excited to post this, I like it better than part one. Thoughts and comments always welcome! Enjoy the flirtation butterflies and Spencer fluff! Also I should mention this is months after Maeve and season 8 ish things!
Part One: https://randomwriting-misc.tumblr.com/post/621326074045956096/spilled-tea-and-dry-eyes-spencer-reid
Spencer x Fem!Reader
Series Summary:  A novelist that feels lost in her writing comes across Spencer Reid, and her original work holds a special place in his heart, inspiring a light in both of them. With a budding romance fit for one of her books, will Spencer and her make it to the happy ending?
CW: Talk of suicide and death of a book character, slight cursing
Word Count: 3,410
______________________________________________________
*Y/N’s POV*
Days passed as I made that coffee shop my temporary home office away from home, and there was no sign of him yet. I never even got his name, and I was starting to worry that I was being insanely creepy hoping to see him like this. Around day four, I actually decided to get some more work done as another deadline loomed at the end of the week. I had been writing the last few days, just not the current novel I was technically supposed to be working on. Seeing someone hold that first book, and seeing that it had looked to be well loved, sparked something in me that wanted to go back to that style. Nowadays, I wrote about being swept off your feet into a whirlwind romance and that feeling of being in love. It’s not that I didn’t love that genre, I did. I was in love with love, and had been all my life. Admittedly, I was a sap, but I was worried my current book was just too perfect. I wanted them to be realistic, and I haven’t found the conflict for this couple to take on that seemed convincing.  
Now, Revival, that was a book that had been therapy to me. It followed a young girl in a small Southern town, who is trying to find the least painful and cheapest way to kill herself to get out of her terrible life. Pills were too expensive, hanging was too painful, and the possibility of surviving slitting her wrist was a chance she couldn’t take. It wasn’t until she meets Mason, a boy who is all smiles and sunshine, that she sees hope in the possibility of life. When she still tragically dies in an accident at the fault of her aunt and uncle, we see the world from her afterlife, helping Mason try to move on and cope.  
It wasn’t a best seller, but it was incredibly special to me, and the kickstart to my career. A couple good reviews and a following on social media was enough to peak the interests of some companies, and when I started writing about young adult life and romance, everything took off from there.  
Hyper focused, I was analyzing my drafts, trying to find something believable on my latest book until there was a subtle thump next my laptop. The small noise made me jump a little and stopped me in my tracks.
“Chai Latte with an espresso shot, right?”
I knew that voice, and a glance up confirmed it. He came back. I tried so hard to hide the huge grin across my face, but after days of my over active imagination running through scenarios in my head about him, I couldn’t manage it. He was wearing a dark blue button down, with a patterned tie to match. His sleeves were rolled up just at his elbow, showing off his forearms and hands, which was ridiculously unfair of him. I was surprised I managed to choke out a few words.
“You are correct,” he smiled back at me, “but you did not have to do that. You’re very sweet.” Please stay though, I thought.  
“It’s the least I can do, I did make you wear half of yours the last time we ran into each other.”
“Well technically, you ran into me,” I said with an involuntary giggle, I glanced up to make sure he was still smiling, hoping not to scare him off with my lack of filter.
“But thank you, really. I hope I didn’t come off as rude the other day, I just had a lot on my mind. I didn’t even get your name,” I continued on.
“Spencer. Spencer Reid.”  
Fuck, I thought, that’s a cute name. I nodded, still trying to keep my cool, as much as I wrote about love and romance, I thought I personally had the flirting skills of a wet sock. Not only did I have nothing to clue me in on if he was interested, but if he had dropped a hint, I probably would have missed it. After all he could just be into modern fiction?  
“Did you want to sit?” I asked, hopeful. Now it was his turn to act nervous, he glanced down at his fidgeting hands. I was worried I was making him uncomfortable.  
“Yeah actually, I’d love too.” He moved to the seat sitting across from me and I rushed to move all of my papers out of the way. I heard him chuckle at my frantic movements.  
“It’s okay,” he said, “I am not one to judge about a messy workspace.” The words calmed you down a bit.  
“I’m sorry, I just have been having a hard time getting a good solid foundation going, all of this is research.” His hands moved across the small table to gather some papers, to help me with the mess.  
“Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love,” he read aloud, “the working theory that love can be understood in three components. Passion. Intimacy. Commitment.” His eyes flickered up to me while stacking everything to the side. I had been reading so much research on love, having only getting glimpses of it here and there in my own life, I wanted to try to break it open and explore all its dimensions in order to portray it accurately.
“Have you read it?” I asked. He laughed, as if that was a silly question. It should have come across as odd, but all it made me think about was how I could listen to that laugh nonstop.  
“You could say that, I kind of know the research by heart. Are you writing a new book?”  
I nodded.  
“Why the studies? It seems odd to write a scientifically accurate romance book. I can’t imagine “your pheromones light up the temporal lobe of my brain, flooding receptors with serotonin” to be inherently sexy. I always assumed people who wrote about love just, felt it.” This time I was the one who laughed. He sounded like he was genuinely interested in my answer, as his face searched mine like he was searching for a light in the dark.  
“Brave of you to assume my temporal lobe has been affected by anyone’s pheromones Spencer. I do at times just “feel it”, and a lot of it is wishes and hopes and dreams. But sometimes I want it to be more real for people, and with my limited experience in that area, I try to dissect the psychology of it as much as I can. It’s sometimes very unromantic to write a romance.” I was expecting his face to fall, disappointed with my answer, but instead he perked up and smile even wider.  
God, he has a beautiful smile.
“I actually like that, to analyze it from that perspective. I have a degree in psychology in fact. That knowledge is a lot more powerful than you think. I can see why your books have become so popular, and how it ties in to a few of them.”  
“Oh, so you’re a psychologist?” It made sense, it fit him and his aesthetic.
“No, not really, I just have a degree in it. Technically, I have a few degrees.” His demeanor changed as he seemed to become a little self-conscious.  
“You don’t have to tell me them; I know I over share a bit and that can put pressure on others to overshare, I’m sorry.” I sat back in my chair to give him a little distance. This is why I suck at talking to people, I get weird.
“It’s not that, it’s just a little odd to some. I have bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Sociology, and Philosophy. As well as PHD’s in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Engineering.”
I perked back up in my seat.
“Ah, so it's actually, Dr. Spencer Reid. My apologies,” I smiled, “I don’t think it’s odd. I think it’s really cool. Obviously very impressive.” When I had called him doctor, his eyes shot up at me with a look in his eye I could only describe as yearning, and I had to hold back a mischievous giggle. That told me a lot more about him than he could have said. I felt a vibration from the table and saw his phone light up. I could tell from his face it meant our time might be ending soon. It was now or never. I couldn’t wait another week to talk to him again. It felt so natural to sit across from him, like I could sit there for hours without noticing the time. I took a deep breath and gathered my courage.
“I don’t mean to be too forward here Spencer, but would you maybe want to, uhm,” I stammered, “maybe we could do this again?” I hid my face in my hands as the words left my mouth, peaking with one eye between my fingers to see him perk up. He chuckled at my awkward actions.  
“I would love that.”
My hands fell, effectively bringing down my hiding place. I wrote down my phone number on a piece of notebook paper and tore it out, I added my name as well, to make sure he got the proper spelling, because things like that mattered to me. I wondered if it mattered to him? Or was I just showing my oddities. I wrote something else, shielding his eyes from it, before folded the note in half, then for good measure, once more.  I slid the paper over and finally met his eyes. For a second, there was just a silence between us, just looking at the other. My breathing got deeper as his stare got to me. It was just for a moment though, as his phone started ringing to break the silence. He groaned and I nodded at him, gesturing him to take the call.  
“Reid.” He said, the person on the other end other call was talking, but I couldn’t really distinguish anything.  
“Yeah, I got it. I can meet you in 30.” He paused for the voice again before saying goodbye and looked up at me apologetically.
“Work?” I asked. He simply nodded.  
“Yeah, unfortunately I have to go. I might be gone for a few days,” he explained. He saw the curiosity almost jump out at him.
“It’s... complicated?” He answered my question before I even asked.  
“Mm, Spencer, you should know better than to make yourself a mystery to a writer. It’s just going to make me that much more eager to see you again,” I said teasingly, but my words made him blush and chuckle.  
“Text me?” I asked, my tone shifting to hopeful. He nodded furiously and stood up. Gathering his things, he leaned over and whispered in my ear.  
“You know, I’m just as eager to see you again.” I felt the air leaving my lungs, having not been prepared at all for the effect he had on me. He stood upright and smirked at me.  
“Have a good day Y/N, good luck with the research.”  
Before he left, I tried to recover from how he left me speechless. I shouted a goodbye to him as he rushed out the door, the café feeling empty as soon as he was gone. I shook my head and thought it all over. I didn’t know anything about him besides his name and that he’s incredibly smart. I never did this sort of thing either, give my number out to strangers, yearn over men I just met. I was turning into a cliché! But there was something about him that made me think it might be worth it. His smile maybe, or his eyes?  
Writing became a little easier after he left, jumping ahead in my book to write where my thoughts took me. From the romantic to the steamy, Spencer Reid would at least get me out of the hot pan with my publisher and editor.  
*Spencer’s POV*
Climbing onto the jet, I thought about how this was most I had ever disliked being on it. I wanted to talk to Y/N for as long as possible. It was the first time I had felt like myself in a while. I loved my job, but suddenly I was faced with the fact that once again, it made making connections so hard, and I already had a hard time with them. I sat on the couch and looked at the note in my hand, I couldn’t bring myself to open it just yet. It made me so nervous.  
“Hey, kid, you good?”
“Yep.” That question was started to get quite repetitive. Even if I knew Derek Morgan just meant it genuinely.  
“What’s that?” he asked. I stopped before answering. Last time I never told anyone I had started seeing someone, and no one ever got to meet her. No one understood how I felt or how wonderful it all was. Maybe letting down a few rows of stone on the walls I had built up would be good? I could use the advice in the dating world, that’s for sure.  
“It’s a girl’s number.” Morgan looked a bit shocked, and from across the aisle saw JJ choke on her water, then try to recover. I guess it’s safe to assume they were all eavesdropping.  
“Is it that shocking?” I asked her, feeling defensive. She cleared her throat and moved closer.
“No, it's not shocking that someone likes you, not at all, it’s just interesting that you like them back.” Damn, she did have a point. It wasn’t often I noticed someone liked me, let alone reciprocated those feelings.  
“Oh.”
Morgan spoke up next.
“Yeah, I’m happy for you man, why haven’t you looked at it yet? You should call her,” he said. I sighed and stared on the paper in my hand, my head spinning.
“Because, she’s just not any girl, she’s different, and I’m just nervous around her. I’m nervous around most girls, and I don’t know how to act normal after having such a non-normal relationship with...” my voice fell flat, not being able to continue, but I didn’t have too. Everyone knew.
“Spence, what about her makes you so nervous?” JJ asked, I could her the concern in her voice.  
“It’s odd, it's just that, I’m afraid to get close to her. After... after Maeve I wasn’t okay, and that’s when I found her book, she’s an author. Not only am I going to be terrified of losing someone I like, someone I love again, but that she's perceptive, and that she could know the reason I love her writing so much is because I was just as broken as her character. So now I’m vulnerable and scared.”
Silence fell over the plane. All the agents who had been listening in did not even move. JJ was the first one to step into the silence once again.  
“Well, I’m sure that she wouldn’t have given you her number if she didn’t think you were worth getting to know. I never thought you were broken, Spencer. No one did. But, if that’s what you’re afraid of, maybe you should consider the opposite. If she was the one writing about a broken character, maybe she herself knows what it feels like to be broken.”
I guess a part of me knew that. That maybe she could understand more than most could. It was clouded by the fact I didn’t want my emotional baggage to cast a shadow on how she made me feel, as selfish as it was.
“Don’t be nervous,” Derek said, “just text her.”
I nodded at him and pulled out my phone. I finally opened to read what she had written alongside her number.
I’m excited to get to know you Spencer Reid. You intrigue me as much as one can. As you can imagine, words mean a lot to me. Here are some of my favorites.  
“We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed with the windows open and the stars bright” A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway.
*Y/N’s POV*
The sound of my phone ringing woke me up from a light sleep. Groaning I looked over to see it was a little past 2 am. With a rolling of my eyes I answered.
“Hello?” I mumbled,
“Y/N?” His voice made me sit straight up in bed, my tone a lot more chipper now
“Spencer?”
“Yeah, hi, I wanted to call you and give you my number. I didn’t really take into account how late it was.”  He stammered.
“Ah so you’re a “I’ll call you” and then actually calls kind of guy huh.” I laughed lightly. Turning on my speaker, I added his number to a new contact.  
“Kind of, are you a text only kind of gal?”  
“Yes. Very much so, I like to be able to obsess over what I’m saying in order to make sure it’s perfect before sending it and second guessing it all. “
He busted out a laugh.
“Sounds stressful.”
“You have no idea.” I said sighing, but still there was a smile in my voice.
There was a pause between us, and it was heavy, but not awkward. It was almost as if we were both testing the waters of this new flirtation. Spencer was the one to speak first.
“You know, that quote is now one of my favorites.”  
I blushed; thankful he couldn’t see.
“Really? I’m glad, I was worried it was too cheesy.”
“Not at all, it made me smile. I like smiling. It’s nice to be happy like this.” While the sentiment was sweet, there was a sadness behind his words. I wanted to know why that sadness resided there.
“I like your smile.” I didn’t push too much, not just yet, and decided to change the subject, “Where are you in the world tonight Dr. Reid?”
“Washington State. Once again, I’m sorry about how late it is on the East Coast.”
“Don’t worry, I don’t have much to do in the morning.”
“What about this Saturday?”
Oh my god is this happening?
“Free as a bird.” Extremely proud I didn’t sound crazy.
“Would I be able to steal some of your time away on a date?”
Stop. Time stopped for a second and my heart pounded.
“I truly would like nothing more. Did you have something in mind?”  
“I do, but I think I would like to keep it a surprise, is that okay?” He said with hope in his voice.  
I nodded, but then realized I had to use my voice, which I could not find at the moment.  
“As long as you tell me the vibe so I can dress appropriately, we are golden Spencer Reid.” The way his name sounded would never get old. He laughed a little.
“The vibe, got it, I definitely will.”  
We talked for a bit more, before I remembered once again something I had yet to learn about him.
“You know, you never really told me what you do. Just your degrees.”
This time the pause that came seemed cold.
“Oh, yeah. I’m an FBI agent. Specifically, for a behavioral analysis unit.”
He didn’t seem to inept to tell me, but I tried to play off his change in tone.
“That literally is the coolest thing I have ever heard. I’m almost positive you have walked off the pages of a book. Are you sure you are real?”  
It worked; I could hear him give a slight chuckle.
“Why yes, I do believe I am a real boy, Y/N.”
You might love to say his name, but my name on his lips didn’t sound too bad either.
“Hm, you’re lucky I can’t see your nose to verify.” I said followed by a yawn. I cursed slightly as my body showed how tired I had grown. I wasn’t ready to sleep, but he definitely noticed.
“You should sleep, can I text you tomorrow?”
I sighed, but it was late where he was too, so I gave in.
“Of course. Goodnight Spencer. Please stay safe.”  
“You too Y/N. Sweet dreams.”
I smiled and said goodnight one last time before hanging up. I stared at my phone for a second before falling back into my pillows.  
Five days until our first date.
That night, I fell into dreams about Spencer, butterflies in my stomach and a smile on my face.
___________________________________
Taglist: @eu-solidao @andiebeaword
Part Three being written!!
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brightbeautifulthings · 12 months ago
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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
"Heart and head are contrary historians."
Year Read: before 2006, 2016, 2020
Rating: 5/5
About: The students at Mica Area High School, Leo Borlock among them, are content conformists, few of them standing out among the others. Everything changes the day Stargirl Caraway joins them. She plays the ukulele, sings happy birthday to strangers at lunchtime, carries around a pet rat in her pocket, and cheers for both teams at basketball games. At first, everyone can hardly believe she's real, but Leo is among the first to discover that Stargirl is as real as they come, maybe realer than anyone he's ever met. He's drawn to her light, but when the social tide of Mica High turns against her and the school shuns her for everything that makes her different, Leo will have to choose whether to stand out with her or fade back into the crowd without her. Spoilers will be clearly marked. Trigger warnings: bullying, mild violence.
Thoughts: It's hard for me to write reviews about books I really love. I'm never sure I'm doing them justice or fully explaining how much they mean to me. If I had to choose books that most impacted my life when I was younger, Stargirl would easily make the top ten. In present day, she'd probably be accused of being a manic pixie dream girl, but like a lot of stories about supposed MPDGs, that's actually the opposite of the point of the story. The point is that she's not some charming figment brought to life by a teenage boy's daydreams and sent to teach him life lessons; she's a living, breathing person of her own, and she suffers as much as anyone in high school--maybe more.
But of course, there are lot more lessons in this book than that, and not all of them sit easily in agreement with each other. Stargirl is all about being herself, the most authentic version of herself, but the lesson could just as easily be that high school is a terrible place to be yourself. There are themes in it about teenage love (and what a rotten age that is to be in love), how hard it is to go against popular opinion, how bullying takes a lot of forms, and how thin the line is between generosity and selfishness--how hard it is to see outside ourselves, even when we're trying to do good. For its slim size, Spinelli packs a lot of nuance and philosophy in there, and it keeps me finding new things each time I read it. While the sentences are often short and simple, he never condescends to his audience.
Stargirl has always been one of my fictional heroes. As Leo notes, she has absolutely no ego. She dresses how she likes, sings and dances when the fancy strikes her, and she's always going out of her way to do random acts of kindness for strangers. It would be easy to say the lesson I learned from her was to be myself, but I'm not sure that's quite it. (I, like Leo, hate having public attention on me, so I could never do a fraction of the things she does.) I think what I most took from Stargirl is that she's happy, that's okay to be happy and to do little things that make you happy, and that so much of her happiness comes from doing kind things for other people. I'm not as selfless as she is, never have been, but I like to think I absorbed some of that growing up and tried to be a better person for it. It's delightful, funny, heart-breaking, and insightful at any age.
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. TURN BACK BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.
I loved Leo a lot more as a teenager, likely because Stargirl loves him, but now that I'm an adult, I see him better from Archie's--their wise old man archetype who gives them riddles instead of direct answers--perspective. He's a bit of an everyman, content not to stand out from the crowd, an observer to the natural phenomenon that is Stargirl. The problems arise when he tries to become a participant, and I think his reluctance to publicly accept Stargirl's strangeness is so sixteen. Leo does what most people would do in that situation, and it's not the nicest path he could have taken; he even knows that, but at that age, he isn't brave enough to change it. As a teenager, I never liked that Leo and Stargirl do not end up together. As an adult, I think that Spinelli wrote a much better novel for it. Happily ever after was never the point of this story. Like the reader, Leo comes away a little bit better just for having known her.
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yikesharringrove · a year ago
i’m sorry that you’re having a rough time. if you need to talk my ask is always open! 💜 something I haven’t really seen in the harringrove fandom is a bookstore aus. do you have any head cannons for that? or maybe you could write something? i can see billy being a pretentious, flirty sometimes grumpy bookstore owner who is simultaneously annoyed and charmed by clueless steve who is obvi not a reader, but keeps coming in. Billy’s clueless why the pretty keeps coming in. robin is not clueless!
(ao3)
“Fuck.”
Billy shook out his hand, just dropped a large box of books on his fingers.
“Dumbass.” Robin was perched at the counter, leafing lazily through some indie zine her friends made.
“You know you could, like, help.” Billy shot her a glare as she rolled her eyes, leaving him and his smushed little hand to shelve the new stock.
“No point in that, Boss.” Billy just kept sorting maneuvering himself through the narrow shelves to sort the new arrivals.
His bookshop had been open for about a month, and was doing well. He had a little cafe in the back corner, run by Heather and her baked goods. There was a second level to the shop he filled with squashy armchairs, and little tables. It had become a fairly popular spot with the kids from the local university as they studied, or avoided their studies with the books he had on the first level.
He had new and used books, had a trade-in program with book donations. It was warm in the little shop, sweet and cozy.
The bell above the door chimed.
“Hi, I was looking for Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals by Immanuel Kant.”
“You can find Billy, he’s in the stacks over there, and he should be able to help you better than I can.” Billy rolled his eyes, could hear the smile in her voice. He kept shelving, could hear the light footsteps approaching.
“Um, excuse me, I was told you can help?” Billy looked up, his breath hitching when he saw the guy. He was tall and lanky, slouching like he wanted to be small. He had all this messy brown hair, these big dark eyes behind his glasses.
“Kant, right?”
“Yep!”
“This is a good one. Have you read the Critique of Pure Reason? That book was pretty big for me, his thoughts on causation in relationship to time and experience were so new to me first time I read it.”
“Oh, it’s uh, it’s actually for a class. I’m not any good at this philosophy stuff.” Billy just smiled weekly. This guy was almost fucking perfect. He wandered over a few stacks to search.
“You at the university?”
“Yeah, I’m a senior. Just finishing up my generals and everything so I can graduate. I’m studying to be a teacher. Sorry, you probably don’t give a shit.” He had red splotches high on his cheeks.
“No, I always love talkin’ with new folks.” He smiled gently at the guy, reaching up for the book. “Immanuel Kant. Robin up front’ll take care ‘a you.” The guy fidgeted for a second, taking the book slowly.
“Thank you, I’m Steve, by the way.”
“Billy.” Steve waved at him, awkwardly and adorably.
-
Steve began coming in just about every other day.
He would say an awkward hello to Billy, would be all fidgety and weird, and retreat to the comfy second floor with a large iced latte, face red, mumbling to himself.
“He has a crush on you.” Robin was poking him over the counter. Steve had just high-tailed it up to work on his schoolwork after asking Billy how he was and looking so fond when Billy just said not so bad.
“Shut up, Rob.”
“He does. He’s in here almost every day, and gets so fucking nervous when talking to you. He wants to date you and kiss you.” She sang it at him, wiggling around a bit.
“Jesus Christ, Robin, he doesn’t. He’s a paying customer.”
“A paying customer that gets all cute and blushy when you two talk, and who never says more than three words to me.” Billy rolled his eyes, retreating to the back office.
She followed him, stomping loudly.
“At least admit you think he’s cute.”
“He’s fuckin’ adorable, but he said he’s not a big reader, and when I started talkin’ about Kant philosophies, his eyes got all big like that shit went way over his head. I don’t think we’d work out.”
“Just because someone doesn’t read and-slash-or comprehend eighteenth century philosophy, doesn’t make them not worthwhile.”
“It’s kind of a deal breaker for me, Rob.” She glared at him.
“You are so pretentious. He’s cute, and he seems sweet, what does it matter?”
“I just like intellectual types.”
“I fucking hate you.” She huffed, stomping back out into the shop.
-
“What in the hell?” Billy was up on the second floor, cleaning up the discarded coffee mugs and books left behind before closing. He heard muttering from the corner, looking to see Steve, tucked in a large armchair, frowning heavily at the book propped in his lap, something thick and heavy, probably for that philosophy class he’s been trudging through.
“You okay, Pretty Boy.” Steve slammed the book shut.
“Yeah I’m fine.” He began shoving his school work away, stuffing it roughly into his bag.
“Hey, whoa.” Billy plopped down across from him, taking one of Steve’s wrists in his own. “What’s wrong?” Steve whipped off his glasses, digging his thumbs into his eyes.
“It’s just been a long day, and my dyslexia gets so much worse when I’m tired, but this midterm is tomorrow and I need to study.”
“I didn’t know you were dyslexic.”
“Oh, sorry, I forgot my button that says I’m dyslexic, ask me how!” Billy sat back, one eyebrow raised. “I’m sorry, I’m just tired. And my brain hurts.”
“You know we have audiobooks. There’s a whole selection in the back downstairs.” Steve looked up at him.
“Wait, seriously?”
“Yeah. We have tapes and CDs. Have a bunch of random stuff. You wanna take a look through it all?” Steve’s eyes were wide. He shoved his glasses back on, following Billy to the display.
They were sitting on the ground, going through the selection Billy had, Steve had found two of the books he needed for his philosophy class.
“Billy I’m heading out-” Robin stopped when she saw the two of them, sitting in a sea of tapes and CDs. “You do know we closed, like half an hour ago.”
“Holy shit. Seriously? Why didn’t you tell me to go! I would’ve gotten outta your hair.”
“Relax, Pretty Boy. I don’t mind stickin’ around. Don’t got much else goin’ on.” Robin was watching them with a smug look on her face, sitting in one hip.
“No I have to, I should go. I’ll, um, I’ll come back for these tomorrow.” He pressed the few he had selected into Billy’s hand, gripping his upper arm. “Thank you, Billy. It really means a lot to me.” He gave him a sweet smile, threw Robin a two-finger salute as he hefted his backpack, leaving the shop with a jingle.
Robin slapped Billy’s arm.
“He’s so hot for you, and you’re practically in love with him too, this is disgusting and gay.”
“Robin no homophobia in my store, please.” She laughed at him as they locked up, Billy cleaning up the mess of audiobooks.
-
“Hi, I brought you this.” Steve was wearing a soft sweater under a pair of overalls. He looked so soft and Billy wanted to cuddle him.
He was currently pushing a plastic container full of chocolate chip cookies over the counter.
“I wanted to say thank you for helping me last night, and I know there’s straight up a cafe that sells these in the back, and you could probably eat as many as you like because you own the whole place, but I thought it’d be nice and I bake when I’m stressed and ramble when I’m nervous, if you couldn’t already tell, but you’re really nice and I just wanted to do something nice for you, and I’m gonna shut the fuck up if you don’t mind.” He was bright red, his eyes darting around the shop, looking everywhere but at Billy.
“Thank you, Sweet Thing.” He took a cookie, taking a big bite out of it. “And I got your audiobooks on hold.” Steve giggled when Billy talked with his mouth full of cookie, rifling through his wallet to get cash for the CDs. “Your midterm was today, right?”
“Oh, yeah. I, you remembered.”
“You told me last night.” Steve shrugged.
“Sometimes people kinda tune me out.” Billy frowned, opened his mouth to say something in rebuttle but Steve plowed on. “I had the test today. I think it was okay, but it always goes either way with me. Sometimes I feel super good about it afterwards, but then I’ll straight up fail and sometimes it goes the other way, so I’m hoping ambivalence is key.”
“I think that sounds like a valid plan. Just keep your mind off it.”
“You read anything good lately.” Billy just gave him a look.
“Take in where we are, then get back to me.”
“I mean, you probably read a lot, but have you read anything good lately?”
“Define good.” Steve shrugged. One of the straps on his overalls fell off his shoulder. It was so cute.
“Like, engaging content.”
“That’s a pretty low bar.”
“Well, I know you probably read like, super smart stuff that goes way over my head. If we were talking about novels I would say, engaging plot, interesting rounded characters, all that shit, but you probably read, like, I don’t even fucking know.”
“I’m gonna let you in on my best kept secret.” He leaned into the counter a little. Steve’s eyes were bright as he leaned over the counter, shoving his nose right into Billy’s space. “I’m a sucker for classics.” Steve had this cute little half smile on his face.
“Like, Moby Dick?”
“Jesus, no. Nobody actually likes that book. I mean like, Pride & Prejudice and Emma and Wuthering Heights and Don Quixote.”
“I think I’ve heard of like, two of those.” He gasped a little, his eyebrows going up. “I have an idea! Would you recommend me audio books? Of all your favorites? I want to be able to like, talk about them with you.” His eyes were shining and bright, so excited to share these books with Billy, these books that mean the world to Billy.
“Sure thing, Pretty Boy. I’ll pick a new one out for you every week or so.” Steve hoped from foot to foot, wiggling and excited.
“I wanna do that! WE can have our own little bookclub. It’ll be so fun, we can like talk about your favorite books, and I’ll actually get it because I won’t have to be, like, translating the fucking wiggly words.” He was crackling with energy over this idea, it was making Billy excited.
And then Steve’s phone started going off in the chest pocket of the overalls. When he took it out Billy caught a glimpse of the name Nance.
“Sorry, this is my ex-girlfriend.” He smiled at Billy who’s heart dropped. “But I’ll be back tomorrow, if you wanna have a book ready for me!” He pushed the cookies closer to Billy with a Look, answering the phone as he awkwardly pushed open the door with his back, and a little hey, Nance!
“How was your boyfriend today?”
“Straight. He’s fucking straight.” Robin furrowed her brows.
“Sorry, there’s no way that boy is completely  straight.”
“He got a call from his ex-girlfriend. He’s fucking straight, and we’re gonna start a stupid bookclub thing because he wants to read my favorite books and he’s fucking straight.” Billy shoved the cookies away from him, taking up on of the heavy boxes of book donations, heaving it to be shelved.
Robin followed him to the stacks.
“Just because he had an ex-girlfriend doesn’t mean he’s straight, Billy. He could be bi, or pan, or fluid, or literally anything.” Billy just ignored he, kept shoving the new arrivals away. She sighed at his back. “Okay, asshole. Give him some queer book, like Orlando and see what he says about it.” Robin tromped away when Billy refused to answer.
-
Steve tripped on the door frame the next day.
He spilled out hard on the floor, smacking his chin and spilling paper. It was so fucking funny, but Billy stifled his laugh, and helped Steve up. His face was red, the flush spreading down his neck.
He took one look at Billy when he stood up, and walked right back out the door.
-
He gathered up the courage to come back in three days later.
“Watch yourself there, Pretty Boy.” Steve’s face went hot again.
“I’m so sorry about that. I was so fucking embarrassed, I had to go have a panic attack for like, six hours after that.” He gave a shaky little laugh. “I believe I was promised an audiobook?” Billy took it out from under the counter.
“Maurice, by E.M. Forster. It’s a gay classic about coming of age, and having to live in the closet, and being in love. It’s excellent.”
“Sounds like my fuckin’ life.” Billy stared as Steve just read the snippet on the back of the box.
“You gay?”
“Pan.” Steve said it easily, didn’t even look up from reading the box. Billy can hear Robin gloating in his head, saying that she’s right.
“Cool.” Steve gave him a weird look.
“You’re being weird.” Billy shrugged. Steve glanced at the large pride flag hanging in the window of the store, looking back at Billy with one eyebrow raised.
“Yeah, I’m a big ol’ homo. I’m really not being weird. I just didn’t know.” Steve reached out to push his shoulder.
“I’m kidding, Bill! Quit bein’ so grumpy.” Billy couldn’t help but smile when Steve was looking at him like that, was giggling at him like that.
-
When Steve finished the audiobook, they talked about it over hot tea after closing.
That became their ritual, Steve would get a book recommendation, would finish it in about four days, he’d stay after closing an they’d talk. The next day, he’d get a new one.
They began talking about more than just the books.
Steve was an incredibly easy person to talk to. Something about his big eyes made Billy want to open, to share his past.
He told Steve about his dad, just the tip of the iceberg, just the basic he’s a homophobic asshole. But then Steve told him he’d been kicked out of his house at eighteen, so Billy told him his father was physically abusive, and before he fucking knew it, they were both tearing up and connecting.
“Who’re you texting?” Robin snatched his phone, dancing out of his reach as she scrolled through the texts between him and Steve. “Oh my God, are you sure you two aren’t dating.” He ripped his phone out of her hands.
“Shut up, Robin.” He stormed to the back office, his refuge whenever Robin started bugging him.
“No. You two have been doing this dance for months. You two have your own special bookclub. You need to ask him out.”
“I just don’t wanna assume anything and fuck up this friendship. I don’t have very many friends, and i don’t wanna lose him. Just because he’s into guys doesn’t mean he’s into me.”
“Billy you’re hot. And me, a whole lesbian, telling you that means it’s true. I’ve seen the way he is around you. Remember when he fucking fell and had to leave immediately? He’s so hot for you and nervous rambles all the time. If you asked him out he would say yes.”
But Billy never actually got a chance to ask him out.
The same night Robin was bugging him Steve came slamming roughly into the shop.
“You okay?” Steve was quiet, something Billy had never seen in him.
“Just a bad day.” He sipped at the tea Billy had placed in front of him.
“You wanna talk about it?” Billy said at the exact same moment Steve looked right at Billy as said.
“You wanna go on a date with me?”
“Sorry, what did-” Billy ears were ringing.
“No, I didn’t say anything.” Steve was looking everywhere but Billy.
“No you asked me out.” He took a breath.
“Look, I really like you. Like a whole lot. And today was shit and the whole time I just kept thinking about how I wanted to see you, and talk to you about it, and I knew just walking in here and looking at you would make the whole awful day that much fucking better and I just wanna go on a date. With you.”
Billy’s mouth was open.
“Holy shit.” Steve was steadily going even more red.
“I’m sorry if I just fucked up this whole thing we had goin’ on-”
“No, I wanna go out with you. I really like you too.” Steve was still, and then he started wiggling, that excited little side to side he does.
“Seriously?”
“Seriously.” Steve stood up, shaking and wiggling in the cutest little happy dance Billy has ever fucking seen.
“Oh my God. I’ve wanted to ask you out for like, months. I’m so excited.” He flopped back into his seat. “Okay but first, Animal Farm. I think the pig’s an asshole.”
Billy leaned forward, pressing a kiss to Steve’s cheek.
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theevetoyouradam · a year ago
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suicidals anonymous // chapter 1
warnings: swearing, drinking, vulgarity., mentions of death and attempted suicide. not edited as good, sorry about that. notes/disclaimer: this fic is set in the philippines (my home country). there will be some tagalog words but i will be translating them and hopefully i don’t miss anything. this is actually a novel that i’m hoping will be published one day. this is one of three that i’m working on atm. summary: university student kitty is back to attending her suicidals anonymous meetings. and she also has a secret admirer (signed as “dog lover”) she talks to pretty much everyday. her older brother wes wants her to end things. but her other best friend, cassie, has 4 prime suspects: cirian “wolf” (her brother’s best friend), duke (her childhood friend), baste (her crush and Duke’s twin brother), and tom (her sa mate). chapter summary: for her older brother, a secret admirer isn’t always a good thing but kitty’s not having any of that, and he also thinks it’s time to go back to her sa meetings
Dog Lover: Did you get the flowers I sent you?
The ding of that message in Kitty’s phone startled her. She was in her room, supposedly doing homework, but she was staring off into space instead. Usually, the message notifications don’t bother her, in fact, she gets excited when she hears them. Lately, she’s been texting with that one person back and forth for the past few weeks.
She reached for her phone just a few inches away from her book and smiled as she saw the text. Immediately, she replied.
Kitty Langit: They were very lovely. Thank you.
Dog Lover: Aren’t those your favorite?
Kitty Langit: I don’t think I ever told you what my favorite is. Dog Lover: Because you have a lot. I chose the big gerberas especially because I know they’re your number one fave. Kitty Langit: Then goes the white and pink roses with three sunflowers. Dog Lover: I’m glad you like them.
Kitty smiled. Her heart fluttered. This guy really knew her yet, she didn’t have a clue as to who he was.
Kitty Langit: I have to do some homework. :(
Dog Lover: Aww :( I was hoping we could chat some more. Kitty Langit: Tell you what, I’ll finish my papers and message you when I’m done. Dog Lover: Sounds like a plan. Just ring when you need me. Kitty Langit: Haha. You any good at philosophy? Dog Lover: …no. Kitty Langit: :P I’ll message you later, oki? Dog Lover: I love you. Kitty Langit: Oh please. :P
Kitty skimmed through her book and quickly wrote down her thoughts. Philosophy was not one of her strong subjects so thankfully she only had one class of that her whole university life. Math came and went; now that was one of her strong subjects. She loved analyzing numbers and solving problems. English and Literature were so-so. She liked the subjects but not to a great extent. She did love reading Smaller and Smaller Circles in her Lit class.
She closed her book after reading a few chapters, leaned on her chair and sighed. “Done,” she murmured. Glancing at the clock, she grinned when she realized that it only took her about two hours to finish everything.
Quickly, she fixed her desk and placed everything she needed in her bag that she had to bring the next day. She had hoped that her mystery admirer messaged her without her noticing but she had no new message and she heaved a sigh of slight disappointment.
She knew she should not feel so entitled just because she had an admirer. On lonely days, she would be the first to message them, then regret it as soon as she did. Luckily, her admirer would reply with an “I was just thinking about you” or “I was going to message you in awhile” and all those other comforting one-liners…but who knows when he’ll begin realizing that she isn’t worth it.
Sighing, she flopped down on her bed and raised her phone up to her face, waiting. She knew she should be the one to message first, she was the one who had to go earlier. But she was scared. She didn’t want to annoy him or anything. What if he was busy studying or working? He had told her that he was a working student. And he assured her that he was a ‘he’; not that she had a problem if he were a ‘she’.
Finally, she gave a firm nod to herself and opened her texts. She quickly typed a short “Hello :)” and sent it but quickly regretting that she initiated it. In less than a minute, she got a reply from him.
Dog Lover: Hey! You done with homework? Kitty Langit: Yeah. Wasn’t as difficult as I thought. You studying or working? Dog Lover: Neither. Not on shift and I was studying while you were, too. Kitty Langit: Fuck, did I disturb you? Dog Lover: You know as much as I do that you are never ever a disturbance to me. Kitty Langit: You really know how to make a girl feel good, know that?
Then there goes that feeling of a pit in her stomach again. He was probably doing this to other girls, too. She can just feel it.
Dog Lover: ;) I’ve been told I’m a smooth talker.
She doesn’t respond.
Dog Lover: Shit. I didn’t mean it that way. Kitty Langit: Haha. It’s fine, don’t worry about it. Dog Lover: You’re the only one, I swear. Kitty Langit: I didn’t think that, haha.
Dog Lover: I don’t believe you.
Well, it is true that she wasn’t thinking that. But she wasn’t thinking that she was the only one either. She may not know how this guy looks like but he sounds like just her type. Call her superficial but that’s just the way it is for some people.
Dog Lover: Can I call?
That wasn’t unusual. He would sometimes call her. She was wary at first but when she became curious, she decided to try it out. And God did she love his voice.
Dog Lover: If you don’t want to then it’s okay. I just wanted to hear your voice.
Kitty rolled her eyes. She’s heard that line before so many times…all from him.
Dog Lover: Please, Kitty? Kitty Langit: I have to go get dinner. Dog Lover: After? Kitty Langit: Let’s see.
She dropped her phone on her bed and pursed her lips. There were times she wanted him to just go away. But no matter how much she pushed, he would always come back. He’d send her sweet messages and chocolates and flowers and really, anything she wanted she found herself getting it.
There was another ding from her phone and she read it.
Dog Lover: I’ll wait for you, okay?
“Wait until you drop dead,” she muttered. She frowned. She knew that was mean. Damn her and her mood swings.
She got out of bed and exited her room. She went down the stairs and turned to the kitchen to find some grub. “We got anything to eat?” she asked the housemaid Lenny. “I am hungry.” That was one of her quotable quotes…she would say that every single day.
“The cake that your secret admirer sent you,” Lenny replied. Esther, the other maid who happened to pass by, nodded. “We’ll eat if you don’t,” she joked.
Kitty sighed and closed the refrigerator. “I don’t feel like eating that. I want some chips.”
Esther shook her head. “You’ve been eating chips for the past three days. No, I’m cooked some bistek [Filipino beef steak]. You’re eating that.”
Kitty pouted but sat on the kitchen table anyway. Lenny brought out the cake and said, “Why don’t you want to eat it? You were happy to see it awhile ago.”
Kitty propped her elbow on the table and placed her head on the palm of her hand. “I changed my mind,” she grumbled. Her chest heaved as she thought of Dog Lover’s response earlier. That he was told to be a smooth talker. She may have read it a bit too much, maybe he really just was. Maybe he actually didn’t have anyone else he’s courting. Maybe…just maybe. “They’re all maybe’s,” she muttered.
After eating some dinner with their housemaids, she loved talking to them during meal times, she headed back upstairs and dropped on her bed. She reached for her phone and saw that she had three messages. One from Dog Lover, two from her best friend Duke.
Dog Lover: I hope you’ll allow me to call. :(
Duke Montemayor: I need help with the philo homework. Duke Montemayor: Come on, Kit-Kat. Just because we’re not in the same course doesn’t mean you can’t help me. We’re still in the same class!
Kitty rolled her eyes at the drama queen. And just then, another ding from him.
Duke Montemayor: I know you’re probably talking to Mr. Casanova but I really need your help.
Immediately, Kitty answered.
Kitty Langit: Sorry, I was eating. And don’t call him that. I’m not associating Dog Lover with Wolf Casanova.
Duke Montemayor: He’s your brother’s best friend. Kitty Langit: And your point is…? Duke Montemayor: Nothing, I have no point. But know that you gave Wolf his nickname, which is pretty similar tot Dog Lover. Kitty Langit: Cirian was really hard to pronounce! Anyway, video chat so I can help?
And not a minute later, he called her via Skype.
After forty-five minutes of bickering back and forth, the two finally bid farewell knowing they might not be able to see each other the next day. There was another text from Dog Lover a few minutes ago asking if she had fallen asleep.
Kitty puffed her cheeks then blew out the air. Fine, she thought.
Kitty Langit: Hey. Dog Lover: Can I call?
She thought it over for a minute before giving her response. A few seconds later, the familiar tone of her phone blasted and she slid her thumb after five seconds. “Hey,” she greeted.
“I didn’t mean…I…you’re the only one, I swear.” His voice was deep and heavy; as if he was thinking of what to say yet did not get it right. “My friends say I’m a smooth talker. And yes, other girls have said that well, but I swear, I don’t smooth talk them the way I with you. You’re the only one I’m courting, I swear.”
“Dog Lover—”
“You’re the only one I want.”
Kitty sighed. “Yeah, you’ve said.”
“It’s true.”
Silence.
“Do you want to put down the phone?” he asked.
Kitty shook her head despite knowing that he couldn’t see her. “No, it’s cool. We can talk.”
“Great.” She can feel his grin. “How was your day?”
“The highlight was definitely those flowers. That’s the first time you’ve sent me a bouquet.” She smiled. “Any special reason?”
“I just wanted to surprise you.”
“All the girls were so jealous,” she said, proud. She replayed the memory.
She was sitting on a chair, waiting for her turn to sing a song in front of those auditioning with her. Before her were some of the best singers she’s ever heard of and she knew she had no chance but she wanted to give it a shot.
“I was the only one who got a ‘great job’ gift.”
She returned to the back room where they were all waiting for instructions. Her head was low and she could feel the eyes on her. As she was about to sit down, someone had called her. Initially, she thought that she was the first go but she only saw a huge bouquet of assorted flowers being held by the attendant standing by the doorway. He repeated her name as he looked at a clipboard he was holding on the other hand.
Kitty raised her hand. “That’s me!”
The attendant looked through his clipboard, turning the page once, twice, three times before nodding his head. “These are for you.”
She rose from her seat feeling eyes on her again. As she got the bouquet she heard the attendant mutter, “Lucky you.” And really, who wouldn’t be proud of that?
Immediately, she examines the gift before looking at the tag. “Break a leg!” And under it, in smaller handwriting wrote, “And if you do, I’ll be there to catch you.” She grinned. Of course, the usual paw print was the signature.
“You can sit back down now, Ms. Langit,” the attendant said.
Kitty blushed and returned to her seat. Some of them cooed and teased her, others stayed put and were either indifferent or looked at her with envy.
But in the end, she wasn’t even in the shortlist.
“You were a little too late though,” she told her admirer through the phone.
Dog Lover sighed. “I know. I heard from a source that the attendant didn’t give it to you until after the audition.”
“A source, huh,” she murmured. “I’m not even surprised anymore.”
He chuckled. “You know me so well.”
Kitty smiled at that. “You know me more.”
The two talked to one another until the wee hours of the night. When Kitty yawned a bit too many times, Dog Lover said it was time for her to sleep. She refused and said that she was still up and about.
“Shadowcat,” he started, “you’ve been mumbling things that don’t make sense anymore.”
“What are you talking about?” she said, yawning once more.
“You’d just be embarrassed,” he said. “Come on, it’s time to sleep.” But she continued to refuse. “Tell you what, I won’t put down the phone until I know you’ve fallen asleep. Sounds good?”
“What if you fall asleep first?” she half-said, half-mumbled.
“I’m not. Because when we get married, I’ll be watching you while you sleep.” Kitty told him how creepy that would be just as he said, “And I’ll be the luckiest guy in the world.”
She smiled. “You’ll be the luckiest guy in the world when you score with Ariana Grande, or J-Lo, Kathryn Bernando…”
“Too loud, too old, not my type…I’d still be a bit lucky if it were Liza.” He laughed nervously. “And I said a bit because you know she’s my celebrity crush.”
“I’d be lucky if I had Paulo, or Albie,” she murmured.
“Now that hurts.”
“Are you not as macho as them?” she teased.
“You know I am.”
“I’ve never seen you.”
“Just know that I’m better.”
Kitty rolled her eyes. “Whatever.”
“So, about that sleeping deal…”
She hummed. “Yeah, okay, sounds good.” She stood up to turn on her lamp before turning off the main lights. She sighed as she laid down on the bed. “How do we do this?” she asked. “Do I get my earphones or something?”
“Have you been talking without them?”
“Yeah,” she answered. “Hold on.” She turned to her side and fished for her earphones from the side table. She plugged them in and put on one bud. “Okay, I’m ready.”
“Do you want me to sing you a lullaby?”
“Are you a good singer?”
“Um…” he began, “I think I’ll leave the singing to you. Sing to me?”
She smiled. “But oh/can’t you see/that no matter what happens/life goes and on/so baby/just smile/’cause I’m always around you/and I’ll make you see how beautiful life is for you and me…”
And as she sang, she began drifting off. When Dog Lover realizes that she had fallen asleep, he smiled. “Goodnight, Kitty. I’ll see you soon.” Click.
The next day, Kitty was walking to her usual spot in the garden of her university. People never sit there because the room behind it would always be left open and the AC was on at maximum level. Plus the area would always be a target of the strong winds during a good day, or the drizzles of rain when the water would pour.
Unfortunately, it was a rainy day and although she brought her cardigan to block out the AC and wind, she hadn’t expected a heavy downpour. She shivered a little as the water touched her skin from time to time.
She felt a poke at her cheek and she didn’t bother whirling around to see who it was. Wolf used to do that to her when they were younger…and he never stopped. Her cheeks were puffy then, her weight wasn’t what you called average, and so Wolf teased her all the time. Even as she worked hard to get to her weight now, he wouldn’t stop. Wes Langit, her older brother and Wolf’s best friend, wasn’t really helping much.
“You’re cold,” he stated.
“Yeah,” she said, shrugging, “I don’t really listen to the weatherman.”
Wolf chuckled. “Here,” he started. Kitty turned to her side and saw him removing his hoodie. “You can have it for the day.”
“What about you?” she asked but not refusing his offer. She had given her belongings to him as she put on the hoodie. It has his number on it, 3, and his last name. She has always wondered what the number 3 meant to him. It was her lucky number, that’s for sure, but that didn’t really add up. “Thanks though.”
He shrugged. “I’ll live. Besides, Wes would kill me for not being a gentleman to his baby sister.”
Kitty rolled her eyes. “Yep, he would.” They reached the stone bench with a matching stone table. There were seats on either side. “Sit with me?”
Wolf nodded and sat down. Kitty sat opposite of him.
“Is Duke coming?”
Kitty shook her head. “Just me and you for now. Cassie’s coming, though. We have Lit together and she wasn’t very impressed with Circle.”
“Nice,” Wolf murmured.
Kitty couldn’t hold back a scoff. “You do know she’s gay, right?”
“Can’t I admire her?”
She nodded her head slowly then shrugged. “I suppose so.”
The two took out their materials in silence. Before Kitty could start on problem number 1, Wolf cleared his throat.
She looked up and tilted her head a little to the left. “Yeah?”
“How’s Dog Lover?” he asked, looking anywhere but at her. “Everything good?”
She smiled. “Yeah, everything’s fine. I still get wary and all but he seems good. Thanks for asking. But…why did you ask? Hasn’t Wes filled you in?”
“Wes doesn’t really like talking about it,” he admitted. “He doesn’t like the idea that…” he trailed off, “that some guy is getting too close to you and you don’t even know him. He could be doing all these things to impress you but he has other agendas.”
Kitty puffed her right cheek. “Possible.”
“But…?”
“I’m just enjoying the moment for now, I guess.” She shrugged. “No one has ever noticed me.”
Wolf rolled his eyes. “Keep telling that to yourself.”
“Wolf,” she began, “you know my past…relationships, if you can call it that, have been huge failures. Maybe this time it isn’t!”
“He’s a stalker, Kitty.”
Kitty paused. “True. But he gives me things.”
“So you’re using him?”
Kitty shook her head. “No, of course not.”
Just a Wolf was about to speak, Cassie arrived and sat beside him. “Okay, so Circles made me fall asleep and—oh hey, Wolf. What’s up?”
“Nothing,” he grumbled. “I was just asking Kitty how she’s doing.”
Cassie laughed. “Bullshit. But okay, okay. Anyways,” she took out her materials, “I was hoping you could help me with this part…”
The three spent some time together before Cassie had to go again. “You coming to practice or have you gotten another audition?” She smiled. Kitty knew Cassie supported her but she has been missing practice a lot.
“I’ll be there,” Kitty replied.
“Great. The team hasn’t seen you in awhile.”
But awhile meant a day, Kitty gave a sorry smile either way. “I know.”
Cassie nodded and waved before leaving the table. And as soon as she left, Wes Langit appeared and sat beside his sister. “Cassie hates me.”
“She does not.”
“After what happened?”
“You didn’t mean it.”
“But I still did it.”
Both Wolf and Kitty sighed.
“Have you been going to the meetings?” Wes asked, turning to his sister. Just as Kitty was about to reply he stopped her. “Don’t,” he held up his hand, “don’t even bother answering that question.”
Kitty bit the bottom of her lip.
Wolf said, “The meetings are on Sundays, right? Usually after the first mass of the day.”
Kitty nodded.
Wes sighed. “It’s for your own good, Kits. I know it can be a hassle but it helps.”
“How do you know?” she murmured.
“Because when you were going to them, you made pretty good progress. You were more jolly, you kept telling yourself that there are always solutions to problems…that you weren’t alone in fighting this battle. You would always go to me, you know?” His eyes softened. “I know you don’t really like going to Mom and Dad so you would go to me.”
Kitty laughed a little. “You were the one who signed me up.”
“And it worked, didn’t it?”
Kitty shrugged. “I guess so.”
Wes shook his head. “I’ll go with you.”
“You can’t enter the room.”
“Then I’ll wait for you out there. I’ll have my phone to keep me company.”
Kitty stayed silent for awhile. She turned to the side and saw Wolf waiting for her response as well. “Okay,” she said. She looked back at her brother and nodded. “Okay, I’ll go back.”
Wes smiled. “Great. That’s great.” He looked at her for a few seconds then frowned. “Why are you wearing Wolf’s hoodie?”
Kitty replied, “He knew I was cold.”
Wes sighed and shook his head at Wolf. “No wonder people have been giving her the stink eye.”
“Like that’s my fault,” Wolf said defensively
Kitty scoffed. “It’s all your fault.”
Wes chuckled, Wolf followed right after.
Later that day, the practice was kind of better than she thought it would be. She knew none of her teammates would criticize her for missing a day to audition for a small role she didn’t even get. They knew her love for singing matched her love for archery. They supported her, but they also had to think of their team, and she understood that. If she wasn’t a good singer in the eyes of the judges, then there’s nothing to worry about, she was a good archer, that she knew.
She stretched her arm, leveling it to her lip. She let out a bit of breath, locked her eyes on the red dot then released.
Straight hit.
Someone from behind her clapped. “Nice.”
Kitty smiled and turned around. “I’m just as good as an archer as bad as I am as a singer.”
“You can carry a tune,” Cassie said.
A small, sad smile appeared on Kitty’s face. “Not enough, I guess.”
Cassie frowned. Putting her bow down on the table, she shook her head then looped her arm around Kitty’s. “There’s a play in my village. It’s a small production but it’s something.”
Kitty placed bow next to Cassie’s. “I’m not from your village.”
“I know,” she said. “But no one wants to join but the people have already spent all the budget. They’re pretty desperate.”
Kitty giggled. “That doesn’t sound very nice.”
Cassie sighed. “Mm, yeah, it is their fault.”
“What play?”
“An original one.”
“Nice. You wrote it?” Kitty knew about Cassie’s love for writing. “I bet you did.”
“If I said yes will you join?” Cassie grinned.
“I’ll consider it.”
Cassie laughed. “I didn’t write it. Some twenty-something who works for the barangay did. I don’t know what it’s about.” She shrugged. “Probably something about lost love or a forbidden one or…I dunno, something about love.”
“Don’t you write about love?”
“I don’t go all cliche if you must know.” Cassie looked up and nudged Kitty lightly. “Duke Montemayor sighting.”
Kitty could never admit but she always found Duke cute in his boy-next-door kind of way. But she’s known him her whole life, ever since they were both whiny babies until they hit puberty and were each other’s first kiss until now where they realize nothing is ever going to happen to them…despite admitting that they were attracted to one another.
“Oh, and look who’s with him.”
Baste Montemayor, Duke’s twin brother, was with him. And he was the one that Kitty couldn’t help but imagine was Mr. Dog Lover. They had the same voice and Baste’s love for dogs is no secret either. Kitty’s had a thing for him since she stepped foot on the school grounds.
Baste had lived with his father after his and Duke’s parents separated. Duke never talked much about him since they were never close, their father leaving their mother when they were just two-years-old. But they reconnected when they realized they were in the same university.
“Oh,” she sighed. Her heart fluttered, she knew that it was the same flutter she felt with Dog Lover, and she had a strong feeling that they were one and the same.
Duke waved his hand as they got closer. “Hey,” he greeted.
“Nice of you to visit,” Cassie said.
Duke shrugged. “Baste wanted to see the archery range.”
“Are you sure that’s what he wanted to see?” Cassie narrowed her eyes at the two boys. “Nothing else?”
Kitty could feel her neck getting red.
Baste chuckled. “I’ve always been an archery fan but I’ve never seen one up close. Duke said he was on his way here and I jumped at the chance to ask him if I could come along.” His head circled the place and he nodded, a smile forming on his face. “It’s nice.”
“It should be,” Kitty can’t help but murmur. She could then feel someone’s eyes on her and she dared look in front. Baste Montemayor was looking at her with interest. “We have some classes together,” is all she can say after racking her brain for something to say to him. “Lab, math and—”
“Filipino,” he finished, nodding his head. “Katharine Langit, right?”
Cassie tilted her head. “She’s Duke’s best friend.”
Baste nodded again. “Yeah. But I’ve never interacted with her,” he explained. “This is the first time we’ve been up close.”
But you’re such a stalker, Kitty thought. She bit her lip from saying anything. “Do you want to try to shoot?” she offered.
Baste’s eyebrows raised. “Legit?”
Cassie shrugged. “Yeah, why not? Come on.” She gestured for him to follow her.
Kitty and Duke were left alone.
“You agreed to bring him here,” she said, not bothering to look at him. “When you know I’m not ready.”
Duke rolled his eyes. “Oh please. Even if I tell you, give you a warning, you would never be prepared.”
Kitty nodded once. She then watched as Cassie taught the guy how to hold up his bow.
Unlike Kitty’s pink bow, Cassie’s was a neutral blue.
Cassie then put leveled his arm and nodded. Kitty heard her say something about aiming and a second later, he released the string and the arrow flew to the board…missing the bullseye by a foot.
Duke couldn’t help but laugh. Kitty nudged him. They walked towards them just as Cassie’s arrow hit the board, missing the bullseye by just a few inches.
“That was so cool!” Baste clapped. “Do it again.”
“Who am I? Your dog?” Cassie glared at him. She noticed Kitty and Duke beside her and smiled. She turned back to Baste and smirked. “Watch the pro.” She looked at Kitty. “You ready.”
Kitty snapped her head back a little but a part of her knew that this was going to happen. “Yeah, sure.” She took Cassie’s bow and got an arrow from her quiver. She put it in place, readied her stance, let out a bit of breath and released.
Like earlier, she hit the bullseye with ease.
When she turned to look at Baste, and feeling very proud of herself, he was gaping.
“Y-y-you h-hit the uh…um…bullseye,” he stammered.
Kitty smiled. “I did.”
“Amazing!”
Kitty blushed. You should know that, the voice said. She shook her head. You have no proof, Katharine. No proof at all. But good Lord did she wish that he was just a really good actor and that he really was Dog Lover.
“You should definitely teach me!”
“You’d have to sign up and try out first,” Cassie told him with a roll of her eyes.
“Be nice,” Duke teased.
“During your free time?” Baste asked, hopeful.
“She auditions for musicals or bands during her free time,” Cassie continued to talk for the lady in subject. “I don’t think—”
“Let Kitty speak for herself,” Duke said in a serious tone, but it was obvious that he wanted to laugh at the scenario.
Cassie shut her mouth. The three then looked at Kitty and she felt very pressured. “I suppose it’s fine,” she said with a shrug. “There’s an archery range not too far from my house. If you’re willing to—”
“Yes!” Baste interrupted her.
“Great,” she said. A smile was on her face.
Duke pursed his lips. “Well, I think we have to go.”
Baste frowned. “Okay then.”
Kitty hid her disappointment. If you want to spend time with me then this is your chance, the voice inside her shouted. Another voice told her to shut up. “Just tell Duke if you’re still interested.”
He nodded. “I will. Definitely.” He smiled. “Thanks, Katharine.” Then he turned to Cassie. “You, too, Cassie.”
“I never told you my name,” she said, surprised.
“I’m friends with Duke, remember?” he chuckled softly.
Cassie lifted her head a little. “Right.”
Duke grabbed Baste’s arm and began dragging him. “I’ll see you later, Kit-Kat!”
“Meatloaf for dinner!” she shouted.
“YES!”
Cassie laughed. “He really loves his meatloaf.”
Kitty watched the two disappear. One second Baste looked back at her, and three seconds later it was Duke’s turn. Her heart began to beat faster. Cassie noticed her frozen form and reached for her hand.
“We don’t know who it is, Kit-Kat.”
Kitty sighed. “Yeah, I know.”
It has only been a few days but Kitty was getting anxious about Baste’s offer to be her student. Duke hasn’t mentioned anything and she didn’t really want to pry. So she stayed quiet.
But it was Sunday and she and her family had just finished hearing mass. Like their excuse before, Wes said that they would be having some sibling bonding at the ice cream shop nearby. They knew their parents didn’t have sweet tooths so it was the perfect alibi.
As they walked to the building next to the Church, Wes began giving her a lecture. “I haven’t been able to hear mass with you on Sundays because of training. I asked them to give me a day off. So please, Kitty, the next time I’m not here to have mass with you, go to the meeting. It isn’t hard. It’s free. It helps.”
Kitty’s head was low. “Yes, Kuya [older/big brother].”
They reached the building and then entered. Wes pushed the door open and allowed Kitty inside first. There weren’t much people and she was still familiar with how it is. She walked in and inhaled the scent that she had been missing out on. She can’t help but admit that she liked the vanilla and pumpkin aroma. They headed up the second floor and walked to the third door on the left.
Before them was one of her meeting members. Tom. They only knew each other by the names they want to be called.
Tom noticed that he was being watched. He looked up and a grin formed on his face. “Kitty. It’s been awhile.”
“Yeah,” she said with a small smile. She introduced Tom to her brother and her brother to Tom. “I’ll see you later?”
Wes nodded. “Yeah, I’ll see you. Be good. Or else no Sundae’s Best after.”
Kitty smiled. “You really know a way to get to a girl’s heart.”
They chuckled and Wes left.
Kitty walked over to the door and Tom let her in first.
As Tom closed the door behind him, the sign on the door became very visible as the blinds behind it closed.
Suicidals Anonymous.
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