#this is me actively avoiding my schoolwork :)
question: if i were to write a series for the mcu with an oc, who would you guys be interested in seeing as the love interest?
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Twilight Wings is not only back but has an Oleana background cameo.
oh i saw.......you wound me, sending me this as if i wouldn’t be like. one of the first to discover new canon Oleana content...😔
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May 29, 2021
Today is my self care day. Showed up for myself today to avoid being lazy and stagnant. I did my morning routine, ate on time, drank lots of water, slept, watched my ongoing netflix show, meditated, did some yoga, fixed my stuffs, did a lil schoolwork on the side, my night time routine, and now I am journaling. I did a lot of things today, its not that they are a lot of activities to make me productive but they are meaningful to me and they make me happy and a better person.
If youre a Virgo, ikyk. Routines and being organized is what makes me alive. LOL.
Anyway, for the past months, there has been a lot of things that happened. And now that I am writing this on my laptop, I can feel I can I fully expressed myself now.
Unfortunately, last May 24, the dad of my boyfriend had covid and after a few days, he died. I don’t know if it was because of a heart attack or because of covid. Everything was just so fast, it was shocking of course. My boyfriend was struggling and I felt like I was struggling too. It was very hard, I rarely had updates from him because he was tired too, I guess emotionally, physically, and mentally. His mom got covid too, but it was mild so thank god. Luckily, he and his sister didnt acquire it because I swear to god, it would be so stressful. We talked about death and grief last night, it was hard but we shared our experiences. I know he is not fine and I can’t tell him everything is gonna be okay soon again because truthfully, it will not. It will get worse and worse as time passes by. Idk. Or maybe its just different for all of us.
P.S His mom and I are now friends on facebook and we exchanged messages now!! IT FEELS WEIRD, A LIL MIX OF BEING SCARED AND HAPPY. HAHA. And his mom even calls me ‘nak’ char *flips hair*
Another life update, it’s our finals now and my grade on Architectural Design wasn’t really what I wanted. It was fine but meh. As a person, who is always grade conscious, its hard to accept line of eight-ish grades okay. Especially it is the most major of all major subjects. But i’ll do what I can this finals to make my grades higher again.
Another life update, my sister is finally graduating on junior high school!! I’m a very proud ate to say she has an academic excellence award for high honors!! Like deym gurl. Aside from that, my siblings weren’t fighting that much these days so I’m at peace as well.
The only problem we experienced these days, are my parents. My mom is always stressed out of all the bills we have to pay, because my lazy ass dad rejects every project that comes to him. Wala ka ngang pera, choosy ka pa. lol. It’s hard for me as well, and the pressure is just too much as the eldest child. They didnt bother to make savings and in the future, everyone will just rely on me. LOL. Kill me already! I kinda hate my dad honestly because he’s very stupid, forgiving, and spends a lot of money on his relatives but not on us. It’s always us who had to suffer. It’s like we’re just second option to him. He’s very selfish.
My mom always tells me, he just doesnt show to us that he love us, but he really love us. And as I grew up, I realized it was a very misleading love she called. It wasn’t love at all because the only thing he loved is himself. A father who didnt showed up to important days of my life, who didnt even greet me a happy birthday once, who didnt bother to send me to school himself, or pick me up at school at night or dawn, who didnt teach me what is right and wrong, who didnt sided with me when I was sexually abused by a relative. Was it love? No.
Anyway, that is all. So much for the rants lol.
It’s very hot today, it’s so annoying. We don’t have any supply of water. prime water and villar can go to hell!!! Ugh.
Anyway that is all, goodnight. I hope everything will be great and I wish to leave the Philippines.
Word Gets Around - Inarizaki
AU: Gang / Organized Crime
Requested (Hopefully you’ll like it, dear requester)
Tags/Warning: GN! Reader, a little cliche...I’m running out of ideas for gang aus sjdfk, not much plot...just random times with some of the inarizaki boys, I hope you get a kick from it though (it’s a bit different than how I usually write...at least in my opinion)
Word Count: 5.2k +
The most unexpected thing to happen to you was something that you should have expected, which was kind of sad, to be honest.
You tended to stay away from your family’s business: running one of the most powerful gangs in Miyagi prefecture, Shiratorizawa. You made that decision very early on in your life, knowing where the money for your food, house, and clothes came from made you want to vomit.
Your father hadn’t liked your decision but didn’t actively protest it either. However, whenever he tried to talk you into it, you would walk away and then hear him mumble, “They’ll change their mind eventually.”
You always resisted the urge to say, “I doubt it.” But even you wouldn’t provoke him like that. Not directly at least.
Since the pressure to take over the business had started at a young age, younger you thought the only way to combat your predestined fate was to be inherently bad at all of the skills that your father had deemed “worthy”.
He would give you a gun and you would accidentally shoot him in the foot. If he gave you reports and paperwork, you would spill your coffee or tea on them or accidentally place them in the shredder. If he gave you a group of people to manage a job—which you knew would be illegal—you would give them the day off or not show up at all.
Your father would lecture you and yell at you, but you learned to find joy from the look on his face when it turned blue and red from all the yelling. He tried to con you into it further, only bringing you into meetings and making you sit in his office for hours on end to convince you otherwise. It didn’t work. Hearing your father’s plans and account numbers was the most boring and dull thing on the planet.
You were great at being terrible and your father thought that you were terrible. After a while, he stopped trying.
You would spend most of your spare time doing schoolwork or helping your mom with whatever she needed to do that day.
As you helped your mom prepare dinner for that night, one of your father’s lackeys pulled you aside. You frowned. You didn’t recognize him, which was strange because you knew almost everyone who was a part of Shiratorizawa.
“Your father requested to see you,” he said. His face was pinched into an annoyed look. You doubted that he joined Shirtorizawa to be a messenger between parent and child.
“Okay,” you said. “Do you know what it's about?”
He glanced at you for a brief moment and then looked away quickly. He shook his head and then walked away.
Well, he definitely knows something, you thought. You called back to your mom and told her where you were going.
Though you’ve lived here your entire life, your house still amazed you. It was bigger than any house on the block, the floors were white and grey marble, all of the doors were taller and wider than they need to be, and there were more pieces of art littered around than a museum. You didn’t know how they were all acquired, but something in you never asked.
You knocked once on the door to your father’s office and let yourself in.
Your father sat behind his desk like he always would, back straight and arms folded and balanced on the edge of the desk, but there was something different.
A group of people sat around him. An older-looking man sat back in the chair that was across your father’s desk. You could see the edges of his glasses poke out, but he otherwise didn’t look at you. You had, however, caught the attention of the two boys that were standing on either side of the man.
They couldn’t have been much older than you. The taller of the two had dark brown hair, parted directly down the middle with little strings at the front that stood up. He looked at you rather indifferently, giving you a glance over, narrowing his eyes slightly, and then turning back to your father as if he took a mental picture of you for him to dissect later.
The other one had a head of grey hair with black tips on the ends. He looked at you softly, but, still, after a moment turned his attention back to your father.
Dread filled your stomach. You mentally ticked off all of the things your father could have called you up here for. He wasn’t the type of person to yell at you for being a disappointment in front of an audience. Unless he decided to switch things up a bit.
“Am I interrupting? I can come back,” you said, steeling yourself. You clenched your jaw tightly.
“No,” your father said. “Take a seat, (Y/N).”
You walked through the silence and sat in the chair that was opposite to your father and beside the unknown man and boys.
You looked between the two sets of people. “No.”
Your father raised his brow. “Excuse me.”
You shrugged. “Whatever is going here, I disagree, so no to what you’re going to ask me.”
The boy with the brown hair snorted, earning him a jab in the side from the older man sitting in the chair beside you.
Your father sighed. “You don’t really have a choice.”
“I don’t?” you said, questioning the words as they left your mouth.
“You don’t,” he repeated sternly. His voice was low and rough. You recognized his tone as your queue to stop talking. You learned the hard way that if you pushed past that point, it would end badly.
You looked away. “Then why am I here?”
“I can answer that,” the man said. He adjusted his glasses and turned to you. “Your father made a deal with us and lost. So, you will be working for us until his debt is paid off.”
You blinked. “Excuse me?” You looked pointedly towards your father. “Is that true? You traded your own child? So you could what? Avoid whatever they threaten you with? You’re pathetic.”
Your father glared at you, his fists tightening into balls on his desk. “Do not speak to me that way. And you will go with them.”
“No, I won’t,” you said, “and I’m pretty sure that this is illegal.”
“All that we do is illegal, (Y/N).”
“All that you do is illegal,” you spat back.
Your father bolted up from behind his desk and walked over to your side of the table. He excused himself, curtly, to his guests, then grabbed your arm roughly and pulled you outside of his office.
He closed the door and turned to you. “Go along with it.”
“What is your problem,” you said, ignoring the pain in your arm from where his grip held on. “Even though you do shady things all of the time, I thought you’d at least draw the line at giving your kid to someone, which is definitely illegal and out of some wacky-ass fanfiction.”
“Calm down,” your father said. “This is all a part of the plan.”
The plan? You thought. He has officially lost it. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“You’re going to go with them,” he said again, “and you’re going to gather intel about them and report back. You’ll be at the heart of Inarizaki. You’ll know everything that they do, plan, and you can come back and tell me everything that they do and plan. You’ll redeem yourself and then be ready to take over.”
You scoffed. “The only thing that I will be doing is getting axe-murdered or worse.”
He ignored you. “You’ll come back after a year and it’ll be like nothing happened. They aren’t going to harm you either. It’s a part of the deal that we made, they just wanted to have someone do grunt work for them and they wanted you because you’re my child.”
Maybe you should axe murder him. When have people in his line of work ever kept promises they made? You’ve seen him make and break more promises than you could keep track of.
“What deal did you make?” You already knew you were fighting a losing battle. “What about mom? You’re insane if you think she’ll forgive you for this.”
“It’s nothing bad,” he said. Lie, you thought. “I made a bad bet—”
“And I’m paying the price.”
“You’re just going to live with them for a bit and your mother is going to think that you’re going abroad. Listen—”
You stopped listening. You couldn’t believe it. You shook in rage and hatred for the person standing in front of you. You always knew that he did awful things to a lot of people, but you never expected that you would make it onto that list.
At least if you were murdered in the middle of the night wherever these Inarizaki people were taking you, you’d be far away from him.
“Fine,” you said. “Let’s lead me to my death.”
“We aren’t going to kill you,” the man in the glasses—Kurosu, you reminded yourself, the leader of Inarizaki—said as he pulled out of your house’s driveway.
You got some time to pack up your things and got to hug and say goodbye to your mom before leaving. Your father had offered you a smile and a knowing look, but you barely cast him a second glance. It probably never occurred to him that you could spill all of Shiratorizawa’s secrets without blinking.
Yes, you did your best to stay away from all of the technical and logistics of Shirstorizawa’s operations, but that was the sole reason that your father had been flimsy and unaware of all of the stuff he said to the members of his gang while you were in the room.
You looked at the rearview mirror, catching the eyes of Kurosu. “And I totally believe you.”
The boy sitting beside you, the one with the dark hair, the one who snorted at your previous comment, laughed.
“Suna,” said Kurosu.
“Yes?” he said.
“Would you like to add something?”
Suna turned to you. “We don’t axe murder people.”
You glared at him. “And I totally believe you too.”
Suna fixed his gaze out the window again. “Kita? Much longer until we’re back home?”
The grey-haired boy shrugged. “10 minutes. Maybe 20 if there’s any more traffic.”
Kita, who was sitting in the passenger seat, turned around and looked at you. His eyes drifted to your arm and then back up to your eyes. “Do you even know what you’ll be doing?”
“Planning my funeral?”
Kurosu sighed and made a left turn. “You will be doing what you did for your father.”
Your eyebrows drew together. “What do you think I did for my father?”
“You were trained to take over Shiratorizawa were you not? Paperwork, running jobs, fieldwork. Sound familiar?”
You caught eyes with the grey hair boy again. You almost felt bad for them. Has your father really made this deal? He told you that you’d be doing grunt work, so it looks like they weren’t the only ones being lied to.
“Unless paperwork includes shredding files; running jobs means getting groceries; and fieldwork means taking the bus to school, then my father really oversold my skills.”
“What do you mean?” Kita asked.
Something rude to say sat at the tip of your tongue. You paused. It wasn’t their fault. They didn’t know that they made a deal with a lair. But how intelligent could their organization be if they wanted the child of someone else’s gang to help them? How intelligent was your father for sending you over with them?
“I never wanted any part in Shiratorizawa,” you said. “So, I refused to learn everything that came with the job. I never did any of the things you listed and never wanted any part in it.”
As Kurosu pulled up to a red light, he turned to look at you. You felt all three pairs of eyes on you. You tugged at the sleeves of your sweater and looked out the window.
“Congrats,” you said dully, “you’ve hired the most skilless person for the job.”
It wasn’t as if you were expecting a grand entrance with a red and gold carpet, but it did shock you when absolutely no one was standing at the entrance of the Inarizaki house. You could tell that the house was full of people too. There were shoes scattered along the entrance and you could hear quick footsteps and backtracks from the floor above you. At your house, there were always people patrolling and walking through the halls.
They were completely unguarded.
You made a note of that. Even though you were going to tell your father that they were heavily guarded and armed, you never knew when the information you took in would be of use. The unguarded doors meant that they were trying to keep people out, but they weren’t trying to keep you in.
“Excuse me,” Kurosu muttered. He made the first left and disappeared around it. You hoped that he was going to yell at your father. Maybe he would send you back in the process.
Suna had left quietly. You hadn’t noticed he was gone until you turned around and only saw Kita. His expression was unreadable.
So far, you had only met two of the members of Inarizaki and their leader, and you couldn’t tell if they liked you or even accepted your presence in their home.
“Do I get a room?” you asked.
He didn’t answer, only tipping his head to the side slightly.
“Or am I sleeping in a barn or something?”
You took a step further into the building. From the outside, you couldn’t make out the size of the building. One thing that you could discern was that it was definitely bigger than your house. This was a place that was meant to hold a lot of people.
A grand staircase stood at the centre of the main floor—the floor that you were on—and led to a second landing which branched off into opposite directions.
“The second floor is where all of the rooms are,” Kita said. He walked up beside you and pointed to the left, the hallway that Kurosu had disappeared down. “That is where Kurosu’s quarters and office are. It’s not off-limits, but no one really goes there unless they need something or it’s an emergency”—he gestured to the right— “the kitchen and training room are over there. There are smaller hallways that lead elsewhere, but I’m not sure that you’ll be staying here for that long.”
“What makes you say that?”
Kita took a step forward and then turned to face you. “I’m not sure what the deal was exactly. I overheard that picking you, specifically, was just to tick off your father. Kurosu thought that you’d be helpful in something, but since you said that you don’t have any skills for what we could use you for, he might send you back.”
You ignored the fact that you were being spoken of as if you were talked up to be a prized cattle, only for the person who brought you to realize that you couldn’t make milk. Now, you were being sent to the slaughterhouse.
“What do you think?” you asked.
“About this situation,” you said. “Would you have taken someone away from their family as a power move? Made them do something to settle a score?”
Kita paused. And you waited. You didn’t know how long he was going to think for his answer, but you wanted to know and it’s not like you had anything else to do.
“I would like to think that I wouldn’t. I’m sorry that this happened to you, but it’s not something that anyone else but Kurosu and your father had control over. I’m sure you’ll find a way to settle the score.”
You swallowed. Oh, he had no idea what was coming to your father.
“Does your arm hurt?” he asked calmly.
You blinked. “My arm?”
He pointed at your arm that your father had grabbed. Without a word, he carefully held your wrist and pushed up your sleeve. You winced when the bunched up cloth rolled over the spot where your father’s grip was the strongest. The faintest marks of a bruise were starting to form.
Kita dropped your arm and started walking to the right of the staircase. “Stay there.”
What was that? you thought. After a moment, you were sure that he had abandoned you. You only took a couple of steps forwards when he rounded the corner. In his hand was a blue gel pack.
He handed it to you. “Put it on your arm,” he said.
Kita nodded and then started up the stairs. “I’ll show you to your room.”
You kept your eyes busy. There was still no security of any kind, no bars on the windows, or cameras everywhere.
He stopped in front of a door. “Can I ask you something?”
The coolness of the gel pack made you shiver. “If I say no, are you still going to ask?”
You sighed. “Go ahead then.”
“What did your father tell you when he pulled you aside?”
You squeezed the pack between your fingers. Kita’s eyes were marked on you, unwavering. You knew he wasn’t going to leave it alone until you answered.
There was no point in lying, is there? These were the people who you’d be staying with for who knows how long—they said a year, but that could always change and it wasn’t something that you were in control of.
“He told me to spy for him,” you told him.
“Are you going to?”
“I haven’t decided.”
Kita clicked his tongue and then opened the door. “I think you have.”
He took a step back. As you passed him, he leaned down to whisper, “I pity your father.”
Sleep did not find you. At all. Maybe it was because the room Kita showed you was so unfamiliar—and surprisingly well-furnished—that it just made you miss your own room. But your unrested mind brought you back to the fear of being axed murdered.
Your stomach growled. You frowned. Right, you were in the middle of preparing dinner before you were suddenly ripped away from your home, and now that it was in the middle of the night, you were nervous, anxious, and hungry.
You opened the door to your room. The hallway was brightly lit and empty. All of the footsteps you heard on your way up to the room had gone quiet. You turned back into your room and grabbed a candle holding that was placed on one of the mantels.
Their father’s words echoed in their brain. In an unknown place, never go without a weapon.
At least he was good for something, you thought.
Closing the door behind you, you made your way down the hallway. You recognized the familiar landmarks in the hallway that had led to the staircase—a picture frame a few doors down, a vase that stood on the podium at the corner where you had to turn.
Soon enough, you found your way back to the grand staircase. The tall door loomed over you as you placed your hand on the doorknob.
I could leave.
You began to twist it.
You jumped in alarm as a small crash sounded to the left of the hall. You glanced back at the door. It was probably locked and you didn’t have any of your stuff. How far would you have gotten? And even if you got far, where would you go?
Despite your better judgment, you followed the sound. This is how people in horror movies get killed, you thought. This hallway was darker than the one upstairs, but a strong crack of light shone through a door. You raised the candle holder.
Toe-ing the door opened, you straightened your spine and held the holder tighter. As your line of sight got wider, you saw a boy standing behind a long metal table. A backdrop of fridges and cabinets came into view. He had his head down, his rough grey hair fell in front of his forehead and eyes. He focused on something that was in hind hands.
The creaking of the door gave you away. The boy’s head jerked up, dropping what he was working on. His hand cautiously slid over the knife on the table.
His eyes locked onto yours and then travelled to the candle holder in your raised hand. He frowned. “Are you (Y/N)?”
You swallowed. “Maybe.”
The corners of his lips tugged up. “Are you going to hit me with that thing?”
“Maybe,” you repeated.
“Okay,” he said. His eyes lingered on you for another moment before he shrugged and picked up the thing he had dropped.
Were all of the Inarizaki members so...carefree? If you were back at your house, the slightest creak in the floorboards was enough cause to have security roaming around the halls.
You took a step closer. The item that he dropped was rice. You glanced at the table. A bowl of rice was beside him as well as various fillings and dishes. A cutting board that was covered in pieces of cut seaweed was in front of him. His head was back down and his hands were shaping rice into triangles.
“Are you making Onigiri?”
He met your gaze again, his eyes gleaming in a way they hadn’t before as if the topic cheered him up. “I am,” he said. He cocked his head to the side. “The finished ones are over there if you want some.”
He watched you. “Unless you want to beat me to death with a candle holder.”
You glared and tentatively put the holder down. “It would be a waste of a candle holder. It’s probably expensive too.”
“It is,” he said, “it’s also stolen.”
You scrunch your nose. “Pleasant.”
You picked up the Onigiri closest to you. It was still warm. “It’s not...poisoned is it?”
He scoffed and looked at you offendedly. “You can threaten me with a candle holder, but do not insult my food.”
You raised your eyebrows, a small smile finding its way to your mouth. “I’ll take that as a no then.”
The rice melted in your mouth. It tasted so much like your mother’s; if you closed your eyes, you could picture yourself standing back in your kitchen. Your mother would smile at you and then scold you for moulding the rice too harshly.
“A lighter touch, (Y/N),” she would say. “Take your time. No need to rush.”
“Are you okay?” the grey-haired boy asked.
You wiped your tears away hastily and turned to him. “These are really good,” you said, a light tone in your voice. You finished off the Onigiri in silence and then picked up another one. He didn’t pressure any more information out of you. “Do you need any help?”
He glanced at the bowl of rice beside him. Despite the full try of onigiri, there was still quite a bit of rice left. “Do you know how to make them?”
“My mom taught me.”
He regarded you thoughtfully. “There are gloves under the sink,” he said, “or you can just wash your hands. It doesn’t matter.”
Shortly after you washed your hands, you joined him at the table. The first few were done in silence. You focused on the repeated motion.
“I am (Y/N), by the way,” you muttered. “In case you didn’t notice.”
He chuckled. “I’ve noticed.” He paused. “Miya Osamu.”
You nodded. You slowed your pace, not wanting to go back upstairs yet.
“I heard you think that we’re going to axe murder you,” he said. When he saw you look at him, he shrugged. “Word gets around. My brother got a kick out of it.”
You jutted out your chin. “Maybe I should kick your brother.”
Osamu laughed, a sharp, cheerful sound that made you smile. “I would love to see that.” He looked at you from the corner of his eye. “We’re not that bad, you know.”
“I don’t think that you’re all spawns of demons,” you said. “I just think that it would be easier if I could...hate all of you,” you admitted. “It’s obvious that I don’t want to be here, which you probably know. I have zero skills that are helpful to Inarizaki as a whole and if I hate it here then it’ll be easier to go back.”
“To the father who gave you to us like nothing?”
You shrugged. “My mother’s there. The little details don’t matter.”
Osamu smiled. “Okay, but don’t say that you’re skill-less. You know how to make Onigiri and probably a lot more, if you ask me, that’s a solid skill in my book.”
Word gets around.
You thought about it when you parted ways with Osamu and until your eyes closed for the night. The words still lingered in your mind when you woke up.
You washed up and changed clothes.
When you had arrived at Inarizaki house, it couldn’t have been more than a couple of hours for word to get around. The members either had a way to get a message around or they were all super chatty among each other.
You frowned. Texts messages you dumbass.
“Why. Am. I. So. Stupid,” you muttered, banging your head against the door for each word. But if it was something else, you wanted to know how they did it.
Your door opened and you jumped back.
A golden-yellow head of hair popped out from the crack in the door. The boy widened the door and stood up straight. He had a lazy smirk on his face and looked like Osamu. My brother got a kick out of it.
“Did you knock?” he asked.
You narrowed your eyes. “Were you waiting for my knock?”
His lazy smirk grew. “I wait for a lot of things, lunch for one. I’ll walk you?”
You hesitated. All of the people you’ve met have been kind to you, or at least didn’t harm you, but you couldn’t be sure when that would end.
“Unless you’d rather kick me first? Word—”
“—gets around,” you finished. “I know.” You cleared your throat. “I said that your brother could watch when I did.”
He laughed. “I bet he did. Let’s go.”
He—Atsumu, he introduced—walked ahead of you, only glancing back every now and then to make sure you were following. “Were you just lying about not being able to do anything?”
“I know how to make Onigiri and I’m surprisingly good at cutting out paper hearts.”
He rolled his eyes.
You continued, “I can also hold my breath underwater for—”
“You know what I mean,” he cut off.
You grinned. “I know what I’m supposed to do, I’ve just never done any of it.”
Atsumu furrowed his eyes together. “But you know what to do.”
You matched his pace as he descended the stairs. “Is there something that you want in particular or are you just full of fun questions?
Atsumu turned around. You pulled yourself back from nearly crashing into him. He eyed you weirdly. It was reminiscent of his brother’s gaze, but it had a level of confidence and menace that made you feel like you were on the losing side.
If I’m getting axe-murdered by anyone here, it’ll definitely be by this guy, you thought. You pulled your shoulders back.
“Are you usually this straightforward?” he asked.
“Are you usually this vague?”
“I want to know what you know.”
You blinked. “Yeah, I’m not following.”
Atsumu looked around the room. There were loud sounds coming from the kitchen, but otherwise, the main room was empty. He leaned in, smirk gone. You forced yourself not to move away.
“Kurosu doesn’t tell us much in terms of how Inarizaki runs, like he just assumes that he’s going to live forever and won’t pass on any information to any of us. You, out of all odds, probably know more about how to run a gang than any of us.”
“So you want me to tell you what I know?” You shook your head. “That requires the assumption that I actually know what you want.”
“But you do,” a voice said.
You and Atsumu whipped your heads over the banister of the stairs. Kita, Osamu, Suna, and a few other people you didn’t recognize gathered to the side of the stairs.
Kita’s eye’s flashed as he took a step forward. “You can’t tell me that your father didn’t make you sit through meetings and forced information on you. I saw the way you looked around when I was showing you to your room, you were taking in information the way that Kurosu did when we went to your house, the way that we’re all trained to do. Even if you claim that you’re skilless, it doesn’t mean that you are.”
“It could be a partnership,” Atsumu suggested, his eyes back on you. “Kurosu told us this morning that you’re staying until the deal is over. Your father said it was his own fault that Kurosu didn’t verify if you had the skills or not.”
“Sounds like him,” you said. “What an ass.”
You went around Atsumu to level yourself with the rest of the Inarizaki members. They all had the same gleam in their eye of determination...and something else. You couldn’t put your finger on it. Atsumu footsteps followed behind you and then joined the side of the other members.
You stood away from them. “Are you going to tell Kurosu?”
“No,” Kita said.
“A partnership,” you repeated. “Doesn’t that mean we both benefit from this? Not that I really need or want anything, but there’s got to be something right? Are you going to get me a lifetime supply of ice cream?”
“We can get you that, or at least try, if that’s what you want,” Suna said, his quiet voice took over the room. “A lot can happen in a year. For instance, your father could have an unfortunate accident.”
“You want to kill him?”
Suna shrugged. “It can be arranged is what I’m saying.”
You sighed. “No killing, please.”
“Then what do you want?” Osamu asked.
You could picture yourself clearly. A year from now you would walk into your father’s house and recite all of the things that you’ve learned from Inarizaki. You would stretch the truth until it became paper-thin. You would watch your father fall so slowly, it would be as if he willingly pushed himself off the cliff
You smiled. “I’ve got a thing or two in mind.”
A lot could happen in a year and you would make the most of it.
Tackling these requests slowly because my tiny peanut brain can’t come up with any ideas of how I want stories to go.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed - Kiwi
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Ummm so I'm new to tumblr so don't judge if I did something wrong.Ummm how can I be like you? Like you know? Productive and smart.I always push myself but ended up being distracted by things (I have adhd and depression).I can't even remember anything after.I suffer,and continue suffering, from my mental illnesses.I just can't keep myself on track.My family makes fun of me for trying.I'm actually trying to find a part time job here but nothing hires minors.Idk please help meee.
hi, friend! answer under the cut because this will be long.
please know you’re doing nothing wrong, and that the fact you keep trying to become better and to push yourself to always get things done despite difficult circumstances already shows that you ARE already productive and smart.
second, it also helped me when i was struggling very heavily last year to learn two things:
1) there will always be particularly bad days when you live with mental illness, but all the little efforts you take, it slowly does get less difficult. getting better does not mean completely getting rid of all the symptoms you experience, but mostly just learning the best ways and small, gentle things you can do for yourself to manage your condition.
this really requires a gentle but firm balance between pushing yourself to do the things you absolutely need to do, but also knowing when what level of work/school/self-care or hobbies is the limit, so that you don’t get too overwhelmed.
this means most of the time, you don’t have to worry about being productive for its own sake. it helps me when i feel like i’m drowning to know how little i can do/the most non-negotiable bare minimum, that still helps me not to fall behind.
^ this is a small, cheap pad of sticky notes i carry with me throughout my entire day. it’s only big enough so that i can only write a few school tasks/personal things i need to do/chores, which helps me evaluate what exactly i can only get done, especially on days where i don’t feel well. checking off absolutely everything on my tiny list makes me feel like i’ve accomplished a lot, because i i have-- they aren’t necessarily a lot of tasks, but they’re the ones that i know really do need to get done. it also helps me focus when i have a lot of nervous energy, and have a panicked sense of “so many things need to get done!!!?” because i can give myself a bit of time to sit down, maybe turn on an episode of a show i like or make some coffee, and write down my tasks. it really helps me with the faint, tiny guilt and dread i used to feel day by day that i was being unproductive or lazy, because now i know i’ve fulfilled all my obligations to myself (everything from doing laundry, to making dinner) and to other people (schoolwork and other tasks).
it’s okay to move at the pace that’s only possible for you right now. it’s better to feel comfortable with the smallest things you can do, and build on that as the days come.
2) getting distracted is normal, given Everything Happening Right Now, plus with a mental health condition that makes it hard to focus. it can also be hard to remember things when i study, because of my own health conditions, but i’ve found that the following things have helped:
- use a small system that keeps you from accessing any distractions when you need to get something done. i try to leave my non-essential device in another room, and set up a timer-based blocker, to limit the websites i access.
- i try to acknowledge the distractions as they come, and try to figure out why: am i hungry? am i tired? have i gotten enough sleep? do i need a break? if it isn’t anything serious, i just acknowledge that i’ve gone briefly off-track-- without guilt, without judgment. then i try to turn my mind back to the task at hand.
- a good ambient playlist can make me feel more focused during hard tasks in the sense that i have some form of stimulation to keep the “itchiness” at bay. video game soundtracks and film soundtracks are also wonderful for long, tricky tasks.
- sometimes i just have to start to feel motivated-- the focus actually comes in in the middle of the task. the fact of starting something may actually make you feel motivated.
- procrastinate productively: sometimes when i really don’t want to study i turn on a movie or a show and use the time to clean my room or fold laundry. my life still feels put-together, and i enjoyed myself! win-win.
- and sometimes i realize that focus may be impossible at the moment: take a break, go for a run, do something you like, take a nap.
regarding learning and remembering things
i used to have the worst time recalling things for school, until i prioritized two things: SLEEP, and not cramming.
i used to get extremely poor grades in my first year of law school because i would put off studying at the last and latest moment-- a few days before exams, pulling all-nighters right up until the hour the exam started. i would also just use my free time to scroll on social media, instead of taking a nap or going to bed early.
this was absolutely wrong. during the exam, i couldn’t recall anything because i was too tired, too frazzled, probably didn’t have breakfast, and because i had started and finished half a semester of reading in one night.
my grades have gotten much better lately-- i’d like to think it’s because i’ve centered it around two things: (a) getting enough sleep every single night (helpful ESPECIALLY if you have health problems-- mental or physical), and (b) making exam day the least stressful it can be.
how do i do this?
- this means not only learning things for the exam, but also for classes on a daily period. you don’t have to study particularly hard, but you just have to study enough that you can understand what the professor is saying in class. set definite study hours every day, stop at a very specific and reasonable hour, and go to bed. try to get at least 6 hours of sleep. sleep helps me absorb everything better (idk science but this is from experience and also some very smart people i know ALSO prioritize getting sleep). wake up at a reasonable hour.
- how to study: read the syllabus, and try to get a decent overview of all the topics you need to cover before you start testing/making flashcards/doing active recall (which is IMPORTANT bc this helps you actually train your brain to retrieve information). imho as someone low-energy i find that rewriting notes/making reviewers/making flashcards makes me very tired and leaves very little time for actual studying, so it just helps to test myself by looking at the syllabus and trying to explain the concept to myself, then peeking at the textbook or materials to see what i’m missing. mind-maps are also energy-efficient ways of figuring out how concepts fit together.
- how to study for exams: the very latest you should start is a week ahead. two weeks ahead is ideal. map out how much information you need to re-learn from the syllabus. move slowly with the aim of finishing the coverage by the first week. the second is for reviewing and RESTING.
- THE NIGHT BEFORE THE EXAM: do a final, gentle survey over the topics you may not understand. stop at 10 pm. go to sleep.
- EXAM DAY: you’ve done the work. take the time to eat breakfast, test yourself SLOWLY AND GENTLY (avoid reading huge chunks of textbook at this point-- youll only confuse yourself), and set up your workspace to take the exam. crush said exam.
as a final note: it can be hard to get things done when the people closest to you aren’t supportive. try to reach out on studyblr and find discord study with me servers, or study communities on reddit (they’re actually really nice), or with students in your class. if you need to talk, just dm me. you can do this friend, okay? take care always. gentler days will come.
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I have been making meaningful progress working with Sutha over the past two months, but it unfortunately has to come to an end with her moving to a different employer. A silver lining was that we decided to focus the remaining sessions on the more important topics that I wanted to address.
As frustrating as I find my family and childhood to be, I do not feel that they have a continuing influence on me going forward. What seems to bother me presently is the sense of self doubt that arises whenever I encounter challenges or learn of "contemporaries" achieving something I admire. Perhaps lingering effect of my upbringing, slowly decaying over time, but no longer accumulating in a direct sense due to my family.
In preparation for this discussion, I thought that it made sense to sort through my source of triggers.
To this day I am not exactly sure if I lucked out attending the middle school I attended. On one hand, I had truly brilliant classmates who sparkled academically/intellectually beyond the standard curriculum -- composing poems during Mid-Autumn Festival gatherings, voluntarily organizing trips to read 史铁生's essay out loud at the Temple of Earth, literally reviewing books and adding notes with pencil, purchasing geometry problem set for sheer enjoyment of solving the puzzles ... The folks I met at UMass, especially within my program, just did not sparkle in that way. Sure, there were disciplined students who committed themselves to schoolwork and maintained good grades. But I did not see anyone inspire me in the same way that my high school classmates did. In that sense, I was very blessed to witness the upper bound of human brilliance.
At the same time, my high school experience honestly made me doubt my own aptitude as a potential natural scientist. I think certain features of structural engineering clicked with me in a rudimentary sense, but I also think that I intentionally avoided mathematics and physics as my college major after seeing many other people excel at it much more easily in high school. Yet, now I think those were my true calling, as I gradually drift back towards that stratosphere of academia.
Without doubt, I was unhappy with my college application outcome and somewhat regret not dealing with those feelings immediately. I naively thought applying to graduate school would bring a sense of redemption, but later realized it never would. I have mixed feelings about people who transferred to places like Cornell, or even Georgia Tech, after sophomore year. A part of me wish I followed that path.
When I attended the graduation ceremonies of Yisi, of my brothers, and read about the student recognition that takes place at Hopkins, Michigan, and even Minnesota, I immediately feel that I was mistreated my the inferior experience at UMass. I did not have a 4.0 GPA, but was easily top 10% in my class and was among the few people who actively engaged in research projects early on -- yet I never got recognized. It naturally led to a sense of feeling lost. Not having a good point of reference also led to my devoting energy to wrong place, from a practical sense.
On a deeper level, I wonder if I missed out on bravely exploring my identity at a perfect timing. Instead of actively considering possibilities, I did the boring task of maintaining a good grade while learning very standard contents, without facing too much challenge.
As a result, I get very complex feelings whenever I get stuck. Is this something I missed because I went to a lesser school? Can I ever make up the difference? I acknowledge that a main difference between undergraduate experience at different tiers of schools is the social network, which I am more or less okay with by now. But I still worry that I permanently missed out on something else important, that an inferior seed is forever planted in my identity.
I also realize that this is something much less important working outside of academia, but I unfortunately feel a great desire to return to that messy world.
My original intention was to write a list of people I envy or feel jealous of, but wonderfully, I came up with more fundamental sources of unease. Great.
In other news, I have resumed summer running, pumping out six runs over the past eight days, skipping Monday and Friday as planned. It sucks that Michigan decided to be cold again, with morning temperature below 40 Fahrenheit. But at least it's finally bright enough outside to get that special sense of "kick" when watching the rising sun at 6 am.
I have two modes
One is Student Mode, which also activates during car rides and tense family arguments (which is apparently just a “conversation” among family members but the tones used suggest otherwise) in which I Make Minimal Noise to Avoid Notice so that I don’t get Forced To Choose Sides, which I hate doing. It also lets me get schoolwork done super fast
The other mode is Friend Mode in which I am the clingiest yet most distant person you will ever meet. You can tell the thing I value most is talking to my friends, or being included in a conversation (which means it’s about a topic I can Share Knowledge and Thoughts about and also talk for a solid hour about a particular concept seemingly exclusive to Fanfic with my friend whos into that stuff too)
The level of trust and comfort are the key factors, for instance if an adult, which im already baseline untrusting of, Raises Voice at Me I immediately shit down and answer with simple Yes Sir/Ma’am, No Sir/Ma’am, and variants like that, no adults I know are gender neutral so I haven’t had to come up with anything special yet
mr. perfectly fine - mat barzal
okay first ever fic for Mat and I really hope you all like it. sorry it took so long i've been busy with school and work and the only time i got to work on it was in the middle of the night and it's finally done. sorry that it’s really long i sort of got carried away with it and if it's really bad
i got the idea for the fic after Taylor released the song and i lowkey got some mat vibes on some of the lyrics
(please note this is fiction and just like my nolan “all too well” fic, i don’t think that mat is like this as a person and would not be like this)
warnings: angst, fluff, mainly angst
# of words: 3,550
Being with Mat was something you never thought would happen. From the moment the two of you met the first time to where you currently were it felt like it was all just a dream. He would tell you stupid jokes that would always make you laugh, try to make you breakfast or dinner, if you were upset he’ll start singing off-key while holding you to make you give him a small smile. It wasn’t like that anymore. No more stupid jokes, attempted dinners or breakfast, and off-key singing.
Mr. "Perfect face"
Mr. "Here to stay"
Mr. "Looked me in the eye and told me you would never go away"
Everything was right
Mr. "I've been waitin' for you all my life"
Mr. "Every single day until the end, I will be by your side"
It was the morning. The morning after 1 year of being together. You had everything planned for a nice dinner, a walk back to the apartment before a night of activities. The sunlight was creeping into yours and Mat’s bedroom through the closed curtains as your eyes began to flicker open. Mat was still asleep, his hand lightly touching yours, mouth parted open a bit and his hair now messy as a piece of his face in his face. Everything about him just felt perfect and the moment felt perfect.
“I can feel you staring at me and it’s rude.” he mumbled in his sleep, feeling your eyes on him causing you to giggle as he pulled you in
“Well I’m sorry Mr. Perfect. You just have such a beautiful face, nice features I can’t help but stare.” you told him before giving him a kiss. Pulling away, the two of you stared at each other for a small moment. Nothing but silence between you two before you spoke up again
“What’s going through that head of yours? I can see the gears in your head tuning and overworking.” you said to him while rubbing his hand, trying to calm him down
“Nothing, just thinking about how much I love you. I know we’ve only been dating for a year, but I wanted you to know that I don’t think I could imagine myself anywhere else or with anyone else.” he said before continuing
“I promise you I will never go away. I’m going to be with you every single day, by your side, and how we’ll work out every single one of our problems when we run into them until we’re old and gray. I didn’t think I’d meet someone like you and I’ve waited for it to meet someone like you. I want to be with you until the end when we’re old and gray.” he said
When he said that you could help but kiss him. He wasn’t shocked to say the least but he returned the favor and kissed you back. Pulling away, your foreheads touching as he gave you one last peck. Everything in that moment felt right as he held you in silence
You knew that’s where you should’ve been cautious. Making promises that you can’t keep like the ones he made. The only promises he was capable of making that he fulfilled were protecting you when it came to feeling unsafe at times and coming back home from long roadies. You never suspected anything because you always thought everything would be alright, especially if he was out with Beau or any of his other friends but sometimes they never suspected anything either. You didn’t blame them seeing that you weren’t dating them or anything but it would’ve been nice for them to tell you what happened sometimes. Now you were thinking about everything all over again even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t give into any thoughts of him no matter what and tried to block it all off.
But that was when I got to know Mr. "Change of heart"
Mr. "Leaves me all alone, " I fall apart
It takes everything in me just to get up each day
But it's wonderful to see that you're okay
Your relationship with Mat was odd to say. You both understood that there were days that you needed to be alone even if you wanted to help each other. It was worse with Mat because he would hold everything back most of the time and not tell you what’s going on with him. The worst was when he would get up and leave. It felt like someone had just stabbed you and all you could do was just go lay down and think about every small thought that could make you cry.
Your friends have helped you get over him when you two broke it off, after allowing yourself to wallow and take time for yourself. The hardest was having to wake up in a bed alone without him holding you, his hand on your leg, or your head on his chest.
It’s been 2 weeks since he called it off. 2 weeks since you’ve seen his face that wasn’t on the tv. You knew you had to get over him sometime but every time you saw him or someone had mentioned him, your heart broke all over again. Anthony has tried calling you multiple times to see what happened and why Mat was in a mood during practices and games. You didn’t have the heart to tell him what happened seeing that it should be Mat who does so. You didn’t know whether or not it was worth watching the games and hockey entirely anymore. It annoyed Mat whenever the team and wags asked about you and why you weren’t going to any home games, or why you were never answering any messages they’ve sent. He would simply just ignore them or pretend that he didn’t hear.
“Hey so is Y/N coming to celebrate? We haven’t seen her in a while.”
“Yeah, we miss her.”
“Well she’s busy so you won’t be seeing her anytime soon” Mat finally snapped
Everyone stayed quiet after that and didn’t ask anymore questions as they left to go celebrate. You knew that they would be celebrating due to the fact that they’re one step closer to going to the playoffs. You haven’t done anything other than manage to hide the fact that you got your heart broken and have to force yourself to get out of your bed since those 2 weeks. Your friends have come and checked up on you but they knew that you needed space and will come out on your own.
Hello, Mr. "Perfectly fine"
How's your heart after breakin' mine?
Mr. "Always at the right place at the right time," baby
Hello, Mr. "Casually cruel"
Mr. "Everything revolves around you"
I've been Miss Misery since your goodbye
And you're Mr. "Perfectly fine"
You’d never thought you’d run into him again, especially seeing and remembering his schedule all the time and the routes he takes. It wasn’t your fault you ran into him and it wasn’t his either. Mat had spotted you hiding in between the fruits and vegetables. You had no choice but to face him seeing that you didn’t want to cause a scene by running away and leaving everything. He still looked the same but his hair was a little longer and some stubble of his beard was growing in. Mat couldn’t help but smile at the way you looked. He always thought that you could be wearing a garbage bag and still look beautiful. There wasn’t any between the two of you other than the faint music playing from the speakers
“Hey.” he said with a smile
“Hi.” you answered, voice barely above a whisper and trying to avoid looking at him
“How have you been? It’s been awhile since what happened and I wanted to see how you were” mat asked knowing it was probably a stupid question seeing that he broke your heart
“I’ve been okay. You know always busy with school and work” lie
It wasn’t entirely a full lie seeing you’ve been doing your schoolwork and going but you haven’t been to work since those few weeks
“How have you been? I heard about your recent win” you asked him wanting to change the subject and quickly finish the conversation
“I’m doing great, and yeah no one suspected that I’d make the goal but you know, guess I was lucky. Just really glad that Nelson was there with the assist to help me out before shooting” he chuckled a bit. He’s been shooting goals and living his dream while you drown in your own misery by listening to your depression playlists on repeat and going back into old habits. Mat could see that you were lying but he didn’t want to say anything. The most he could do was nod and smile knowing how much he hurt you
“That’s good. Always knew that you could make any shot no matter the situation. Always at the right place and the right time.” you smiled trying not to tear up knowing that he’s living his best life at the moment. He smiled back and was about to say something before you both got interrupted by the sound of your phone ringing
“It was nice seeing you again Mat. Hope you win the cup this year.” you tell him while giving a small smile before leaving
Mr. "Never told me why"
Mr. "Never had to see me cry"
Mr. "Insincere apology so he doesn't look like the bad guy"
He goes about his day
Forgets he ever even heard my name
Well, I thought you might be different than the rest, I guess you're all the same
Trying to wrap around everything that happened the day he broke up with you hurt but you had to figure out why he did it. The thing about Mat was that he sometimes would never tell you how he was feeling and you’d have to read off the signals he was giving from his body language and at times he was good at hiding those too. One moment you were getting ready to go out then next you’re at Julie’s crying into her shirt as she rubbed your back.
Taking days off where you just needed to focus on yourself were always needed. The entire day you wouldn’t use your phone, unless it was an emergency, and you would try to treat yourself to a good day. You’ve managed to go to the gym and workout not caring if people were staring at you, you went out for a nice lunch and decided to try something you’ve never had before. It was going well until during your lunch you saw him again. He was by himself and at his stuff with him which meant he must’ve come out of practice. He hasn’t changed much since the grocery store but this time you knew he had a girlfriend. Mat must’ve known you were staring at him because he looked up as soon as you got up to leave and waved you over to join him. It’s not like you hated him with a passion, it’s just you still didn’t feel comfortable or confident enough to ask him why he wanted to break things off.
“Hey Y/N, it’s good to see you again” Mat said with a smile as you sat down
“It’s good to see you too.” you said back to him trying to hide the fake smile
“So how’s everything” you asked him trying to make it less awkward
“Um, before we talk, I just wanted to apologize. I know I wasn’t the best boyfriend when we were together but I’m trying to change. Before you interrupt and say something, save it. I was wrong to hurt you like that”
You didn’t know what to say and sat there shocked. It was hard to tell whether or not he truly meant it due to his body language but you brushed it off and told him it was fine
“Mat, don’t worry you know. It happens. So what is going on? How’s hockey? I see pre-seasons about to start”
“Yes it is and I know this season we’re going to make the playoffs and win the cup” He started as you began to zone off. You couldn’t help but realize that he was just like the rest of them; every other guy you’ve dated or even went on one date with.
Cause I hear he's got his arm 'round a brand-new girl
I've been pickin' up my heart, he's been pickin' up her
And I never got past what you put me through
But it's wonderful to see that it never fazed you
Social media was sometimes cruel to you but it wasn’t their fault entirely that people decided to post about their personal lives on there. You haven’t really checked anything in a month thinking it was best to limit social media for your own mental health. Occasionally you would check for any news but otherwise it was for the best to delete them all. It was a good breather. No one has tried contacting you about any celebrity gossip that was happening. You knew your friends would post pictures of you (with your permission of course) but other than that, they completely respected your choice of not posting or liking anything.
You were currently out with some friends for lunch after a long week of being busy and needing a day to each other. They were telling you all about everything that’s going on in their life and were about to show you pictures from their siblings' wedding. When one of them handed you their phone, your finger hit the home button again and took you to the top of the timeline. As soon as it hit the top, you felt your heart stop and drop all the way down to your stomach. It was Mat with his arm around a girl as they both laughed and looked each other in the eyes. You knew he’d move on quickly but you didn’t know exactly when they got together. Julie was the first one to notice your face and took the phone from your hands to see what made you react the way you did. Everyone gathered around before looking back at you and giving you their sympathy. It wasn’t their fault that they still followed him on social media and you had no problem with it, it was what you heard ended up being true.
“Babe, i’m so-”
“No, it's fine. I mean he’s allowed to move on. People don't always move on at the same time and if that’s how quickly he moves on, then that’s okay. You know? I need to focus on myself. That means taking my time to heal whether it ends up being weeks, a month, or a year. I’m taking my own time to find myself. I’ve overheard him talking to someone from when I ran into him and Anthony but it’s nothing now.” you let out all in one breath as your friends sat there in silence as you handed them their phone back.
The rest of the lunch no one bothered to open their phone unless it was their work, family, etc. they kept glancing at you throughout the entire lunch to see if they were able to read your face and how you were really feeling but they couldn’t get anything. It did hurt to see him with someone new but as you said you need to pick up your heart. The thing was you couldn’t. You remembered everything from that night and at times it’ll haunt you in your dreams, everything feeling real and having to constantly relive your heartbreaking over and over again.
So dignified in your well-pressed suit
So strategized, all the eyes on you
Sashay your way to your seat
It's the best seat, in the best room
Oh, he's so smug, Mr. "Always wins"
So far above me in every sense
So far above feeling anything
As you came out of the hotel bathroom ready for the night, you saw Mat standing in the mirror fixing his tie. It was the night of the NHL awards where he was nominated for the Calder Rookie of the Year award. You stood there for a while admiring him as he caught your eyes in the mirror.
“You know, instead of standing there and admiring your hot boyfriend, you can help me fix this.”
“Who says I can’t do both?” you asked walking over to him and making sure that his tie was straightened and not crooked
“I’m proud of you. You deserve this award so much.”
“By the way, Tito is also coming but since he didn’t know if you agreed or not, he’s also my date.” he said holding your waist and pulling you in to kiss you to distract you
“Mmm okay. At this point I’m not shocked. Now c’mon, your family and your “date” are waiting for you in the lobby.” you told him while taking his hands off your waist and grabbing one of them to drag him to the awards before he made you both late
The awards were going by smoothly and Mat wasn’t joking when he said that Anthony was going to be there as they pretended to take pictures the way you and Mat would. You didn’t mind it though because you knew what their friendship meant to each other and knew Mat would do the same if Anthony were ever to be nominated for something this big. During his speech, he was trying not to sound smug and let his ego show, especially only being a rookie and having his whole life ahead of him within the NHL. You couldn’t help but admire the way he talked and how he stood up there from a seat that you didn’t realize how good they were until he was up there. When he came back, the smile didn’t leave his face for the rest of the night. It was another win in his book but he didn’t want to be smug about it even if you knew.
And it's really such a shame
It's such a shame
'Cause I was Miss "Here to stay"
Now I'm Miss "Gonna be alright someday"
And someday maybe you'll miss me
But by then, you'll be Mr. "Too late"
The first person who was there for you after the break up was Julie. Your best friend who you told everything to. She knew something was wrong as soon as you were at her doorstep in the middle of the night. Julie knew something was wrong with Mat a few months before the breakup but she didn’t want to say anything to make you upset but you knew she was right and you ignored all the signs. She supported you with every decision you made afterwards and thought you were right to take time to focus on yourself before getting into another relationship. The moment you told her you were seeing some she was happy that you were moving on and told her that you were going to be okay. You were happy that you’ve got to notice what you really needed and that your life didn’t always need to revolve around a man. Mat has tried to get into contact with Julie and apologize but he was late to it. You’ve moved on from him and he needed to know.
Goodbye, Mr. "Perfectly fine"
How's your heart after breakin' mine?
Mr. "Always at the right place at the right time," baby
Goodbye, Mr. "Casually cruel"
Mr. "Everything revolves around you"
I've been Miss Misery for the last time
And you're Mr. "Perfectly fine"
“How do you feel?” Julie asked as you looked in the mirror for the last time
“Honestly? I still feel upset but it’s time to move on and go ahead with my life. He’s no longer dating me and I’ve accepted it but I’ve met someone new and he’s all that’s on my mind” you told her with smile on your face while turning to face her
“I’m proud of you. You’ve been Miss Misery for the last time and now you’ve grown up.” Julie faked cried but still feeling proud
“I feel like it too. He’s moved on and his heart doesn’t seem to be broken and mine is on the mend and forgetting about him. I just know that he’s perfectly fine the way he is and I don’t need it anymore. I felt like being with him, I was always in the shadows and I know he’s a professional hockey player, but I felt like there was just never time for “just us” like it always felt like it only revolved around him and I didn’t need that anymore.” you smiled while letting out a deep breath.
You're perfectly fine
Mr. "Look me in the eye and told me you would never go away"
You said you'd never go away
He promised and he always told himself he’ll keep the promise of never going away and fulfill it someday. Sometimes when you meet someone that’s what you think, but sometimes it never does and they break your heart in the end
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My Experience with the Pandemic
By Angela Clarin
It's been a year since the pandemic began, and 2020 has been the most difficult year for me—no, for everyone. A lot of changes have been made, and everyone's routine has been altered. We are adjusting to the new normal, but we are still unable to cope with the stress caused by the pandemic. The fear of contracting the virus is growing, and the number of cases is rapidly increasing. When it comes to safety, none of us can be sure. Even the OC ones are not an exception in COVID-19. All we can do is pray and follow all of the protocols to avoid contracting a virus.
To cope with the stress caused by the pandemic, I entertained myself in a variety of ways. I watched movies and animes, listened to a lot of music, read some novels online, and did a lot more. However, there is one thing that continues to stress me out: the online class.
It is extremely difficult to adjust as a student. There are times when you have no choice but to self-study in order to catch up on missed classes. Sometimes all of my activities pile up because I don't have enough time to complete them all. I got to the point where I was crying so hard because I felt helpless, but then I found myself finishing all of my schoolwork. Every day feels like hell to me, and I don't want to be in that situation where I'm constantly stressed. That is why, when the government finally placed our province under General Community Quarantine, I was able to leave our home. My partner and I unwind in various places, such as malls in Manila and Bulacan. We go to milk tea shops because we miss the taste of milk tea while conversing. We eat at the same fast food restaurants where we used to hang out. And when we want to thrift, we go to different ukay-ukay stores like we used to.
But now that we're back on Enhance Community Quarantine, the stress I was feeling has returned. But now I can say that I'm not as stressed because I've found some ways to deal with it.
The number one way I discovered is to spend more time with family. Have a serious conversation, watch television together, and practice sharing with one another.
Number two, concentrate on what you can control. We have no control over COVID-19, but we can control how we respond to it. To avoid stress, you must monitor all of your actions and how you react to things over which you have no control.
The third option is to get some exercise. A ten-minute workout will help you both physically and mentally.
Number four is to spend less time on gadgets. Try to relax first after your online class. Time out on gadgets first, and then entertain yourself by doing things you enjoy, such as playing the guitar, reading a book, or playing with your younger siblings or nieces.
And, finally, alter your perspective on a particular situation. For example, this pandemic makes it difficult to go out with friends and hang out together, but if you change your perspective on the pandemic, a plethora of opportunities emerge. Why not connect with your friends online? Organize an online party via video call. While doing face time, the family eats together. In this way, the pandemic is no longer a hindrance. It is a new experience with many lessons.
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Breaking the Weekly Cycle Through the World of Animal Crossing
by Kyle Boyce
Class of 2022, Member of the Honors College, School of Engineering
As we reach the home stretch of our second fully virtual semester, what has been dubbed “Zoom Fatigue” is at a high point. Fortunately, I have not dealt with this waning motivation and focus until recently. I have taken some time to reflect on some reasons why this was just happening now, after many months of remote learning. Last spring and fall, I was lucky to have some great professors with varying instruction techniques. In retrospect, variety kept me on my toes and engaged in my classes. At that time, I happened to be making some great progress with my goal of breeding every Animal Crossing flower hybrid. I first got into Animal Crossing after watching videos and live streams of people playing the game when it was first released in March 2020. After getting a Switch in July I started playing the game for myself and was finally able to experience what all the hype was about, and I was not disappointed. The game not only provided a creativity outlet in which I am able to change almost every aspect of the landscape and design to my likings, but it also gave me a goal to try and achieve in breeding all the flower colors and species.
This semester, it seems all of my classes are taking the same approach to lectures and assignments. As week after week of the spring semester passed, I was feeling more and more dreary and disinterested just at the thought of attending lectures or looking at my notes. I found myself pushing off projects and homework assignments, avoiding them at all costs. After almost missing a few deadlines, I needed to make some changes and find a better approach to the rest of the semester. I started by looking at what my fall semester weekly and daily routines were compared to what I have been doing this semester. I realized I have spent significantly less time dedicated to leisure this spring. Every day in the fall, I worked on my Animal Crossing garden, replanting flowers and making sure they all were watered. All in an attempt to get the elusive blue rose. Having finally gotten a blue rose and also completing the other flower families before finals week, my time spent in game was steadily decreasing. By the end of winter break I was only playing occasionally. So the first change to my schedule was to dedicate time for fun, creative activities.
To differentiate from Animal Crossing, I figured I could play Pokémon GO, which offers some added sunshine to my day. Near my house, there is a nice sports complex with virtual gyms and PokéStops that I can reach from my car. These gyms and PokéStops are the in-game way to collect items such as PokéBalls and berries which allow users to catch and feed Pokémon. I mixed up what I would do throughout the week, by either doing some island cleanup and item moving in Animal Crossing or taking 30-45 minutes for a nice ride to battle a few gyms and complete research in Pokémon GO.
Implementing this mental break every day to disrupt the repetitive cycle of classes energized me to focus on academics again. When one lecture starts to blend into another, I change things up by taking my classes in slightly different places at home. Last spring and fall, I got into the habit of watching every lecture laying or sitting in my bed against the wall. This semester, that spot became too comfortable, so I started sitting at my desk or in my kitchen.
Although not everyone is interested in Pokémon GO or Animal Crossing, taking a mental break can be very flexible and shaped to fit any interests. My suggestion would be to take a moment to think about a topic that makes you happy. When you identify a topic, you can look into different hobbies or activities that relate to that topic. Search the app store for a game based on your topic, look at a book series, or a television show and read/watch in short periods of time. If you already have a game or activity you enjoy, start by incorporating it into your weekly schedule and find a way to break your repetitive cycle.
From my experience, if you are having a rough time staying focused and motivated with your schoolwork everything could get better by simply disrupting your typical school cycle, taking a break, or getting a change of scenery. While at home, too much of the same thing everyday can be tough, but some small changes can help you stay motivated to get through the semester with more ease and interest. Taking time to have fun and get creative gives my brain a much needed break from the pressure and difficulty of coursework. Taking this time not only relieves stress, but actually helps me to find and fix any problems I run into. As I am actively focused on Animal Crossing or Pokémon GO my subconscious is still working on solving the problem in my schoolwork, so when I go back to solving it I am actually closer to finding a solution than when I started my break. I suggest readers find something they enjoy and get into a rhythm of using it as a way to destress and take a mental break. From there, you can then take what you learn and start the fall semester on solid footing.
Omg! Only just noticed ur tag on the rb, idk if u were joking abt any of these but... if you /do/ have e thoughts on voting rights, parenting culture and/or cereal brands id love to hear them ✨👀📝
wow 2 asks in a row true bestie <3
voting rights: ok this mostly us-centric, but i’ll be referencing several other countries’ policies. obviously voting rights in the us are kind of a hot mess. from voter suppression to gerrymandering to the actual counting system to felons’ lack of rights. so here’s a couple priorities, not in any particular order: 1) popular vote national elections. none of this electoral college bullshit. the idea that a state is a fundamental unit that needs rights in a national election is bullshit. it drowns out minorities in each state (california conservatives, wyoming democrats, etc). 2) limits of voter purges. this one is kinda obvious, but states use really fucked mechanisms for voter roll purges as a form of voter suppression. 3) automatic voter registration + same day voting registration. the fact is that the system is designed to be as inconvenient as possible on purpose. we need to make it way easier to register + vote 4) some sort of geographic / population requirement for polls + ballot dropboxes. again, one i haven’t fully hammered out in my head, but we need to actually put numbers into the law wrt to how much time and effort a state can legally make a voter put in to vote. 5) universal mail in voting w/ the deadline according to the date of post-marking, not the date of arrival. this is obvious. for people in rural areas, disabled people, people who are simply too busy. 6) make election day a national holiday + make it a saturday + make it illegal for employers to give any less than 6 hours off. most laws are state based, and some don’t even have laws forcing employers to give any time off. obviously, this affects the working class the most. frankly, one of the most common reasons cited for not voting is that people were simply too busy. 7) ranked voting. this is the one where you rank n candidates from 1st choice to nth choice. it would stop people from strategically voting one of the 2 parties’ candidates because independents can’t break through. would also probably decrease polarization, and takes into account the people you really don’t want in power. another option is ranking each candidate from 1-5 or smth. 8) independent districting. a few states have this, but it needs to be national policy for independent committees w/ equal republicans, equal democrats, and equal independents. here’s an example of what some states do. in many states, the politicians currently in power draw the redistricting map for the next election. gerrymander away i guess. an interesting tidbit: iirc HR1 proposes this + has some actual numbers like “if a candidate can win with x% of the vote or less your districting isn’t allowed” and those could have real power. 9) dc statehood + puerto rico statehood + some form of congressional representation for all the us territiories.
parenting culture: ok so i have lots of opinions on this like i know i’ve never been a parent obv, but i’ve been doing tutoring and daycare work for kids ranged 6 from 8th grade to high schoolers more recently. first of all, grounding is like such a fucked concept in general, especially as a punishment for bad grades. like it makes total sense to be like “hey you gotta time block x hours for homework, put ur phone away during hw, and check in with us every day until shit gets back on track” or something like that. but i’ve seen parents (not often luckily) be like “you’re grounded so you can’t go out with friends, do fun extracurriculars, or have the internet or read books for fun (<- that last one is less common but my parents did it 💀)” which in general is like wtf. that’s basically an exhaustive list of all the things a kid uses for relaxation. taking all of that away and only allowing a kid to do work is the fastest recipe for a kid that’s burnt out, unable to focus, and frustrated. you need to link the consequences to the problem, and the consequences should also be remedial in some form. that often does mean added supervision, but some of this is just like detrimental and damaging. also, if schoolwork, if scheduled and time managed properly, is taking so much time a kid has no time for fun, there’s a bigger problem that’s either a) the school is teaching your kid poorly / assigning too much work or b) your kid genuinely needs extra help and accommodations in the classroom. outside of more supervision during hw time, there’s no reason to like ban socialization + activities, all of which are essential to a child’s growth and mental health. your child needs to unwind after a school day and homework, which might i remind you, is a lot of work for children!!! also, this is kind of a pet peeve, but the entire you can’t have the opposite sex in ur room with the door closed is just so funny like it doesn’t even inspire rage in me just mocking laughter wow the heteronormativity really jumped out lol. also, this is kind of weird again, but you should probably have a conversation with your children about religion + religious freedom at some point, especially if they grow up in a household that practices religion actively. like at some point if your child is like “i don’t want to go to church / the kovil / other religious house of worship” or expresses desire to drop other religious practices like prayer, or fasting, or something of the like, you should let them. like i am a very big believer in children’s religious freedom lol. uhhh finally this one is more geared towards parenting culture around teenagers + high schoolers, but i generally feel like the correlation of grades with how “good” your child is is really fucked. like i’m sorry if you raised a kind, polite, honest child and you made them think they were “a bad kid” or deserved to be punished for bad grades get out. like obv encourage academic growth if your child is into that, but don’t punish a lack of academic success. a few positive things tho: you should teach your child how to do chores and also cook food. like when hammering out a chores schedule, i’d suggest allowing them some freedom in what time of day they do the chores, but they’re life skills that need to be taught, even if kids complain (i certainly did). another strange one: uhhh immigrant parents from outside the anglosphere please take care to pass on your mother tongue to your child. like this is one of those things where it’s better to teach them now than later. growing up bilingual is a lot easier than relearning a mother tongue. speak your mother tongue at home. if you’re worried about your child learning english properly for school, most public schools have language remedial courses or something of the like. also your cuisine if possible. a final one: your high schooler is probably stressed the fuck out. studies show that the increasing amount of homework, the increased competitiveness of college, and the fact that the school start time is way too early for teens’ sleep schedules. like we know there are pervasive mental health and depression problems linked directly to how much work and stress high schoolers have to deal with, which leads to poorer sleeping habits, poorer mental health, and increased substance use as a coping mechanism. before you add more stress to their lives by “pushing” them towards more competitive colleges, maybe take this into consideration. also maybe consider if this is why you feel like your kid went through the stereotypical teenage phase. was it hormones making them cranky or was it sleep depression and stress? just try to avoid adding pressure onto them, especially in junior year and the first half of senior year. finally, there’s no need to make your teenage daughter shave. period. also, liberal families please maybe check yourselves on this one. maybe think about why you pressure your daughters to shave your legs but not your sons, and then go on to talk about gender equality. stop pretending it’s “a part of hygiene” or “basic grooming and self care”.
cereal brands: ok this is the most light hearted one 😊. ranked in order of acceptably health to wtf, i like a few cereal brands, specifically raisin bran (unpopular opinion i know 🙄), honey bunches of oats, and if i feel like a treat, cinnamon crunch toast :)
Ask Game: thoughts on “________”
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FYS Survival Kit
The following is my (FYS) First Year Survival kit. it includes everything I would give to a new student that I believe will best help their experience starting at a new college or university. (Carol Radiwon / FYS 1010 / Horwitz)
First are (5) Physical items that I have personally found to be useful in my experience with school and think would also help another new student:
1- A portable planner
Firstly, I recommend a portable planner that you can carry around wherever you go. This is because if something comes up and you have to add it to your plans, you can do so immediately so that you don’t forget, and then later add it to your computer or regular wall planner. The portable planner also allows you to quickly pull out and check to see what your schedule is going to be like in the short term. Finding one that is customizable and/or suits your personality can also be a fun way to express yourself. I have received many compliments for my planner shown above, which was imported from Japan.
2- A regular wall/ Academic calendar (only used for homework assignments)
Second, it is important to have a large wall calendar that is only used for homework assignments. This is so that you can easily identify what upcoming assignments you have to complete, and will thus better allow you to plan out your work easily ahead of time instead of rushing last minute to complete them. It is a good idea to place it in view nearby your desk or wherever you mainly do your school work.
3- Emotional support animal
Next, I highly suggest obtaining or adopting an emotional support creature, because they will help to ease your anxiety for school by providing companionship without any judgement. If you are allergic or cannot have animals for some reason, you can also download an app where you take care of an animal or buy a Tamagotchi. Having something you can take care of will make you feel dependable and give you a sense of being needed, which can be a uplifting experience and provide more confidence for school responsibilities.
4- Aromatic candles
Having candles, especially ones that have relaxing scents can provide a soothing and ambient atmosphere while doing assignments. This environment calms the mind and allows for a reduced and stress-free way to complete assignment.
5- USB Drive
I cannot recommend one of these devices enough. USB drives provide an easy was to store all of your homework assignments and other important school documents, and then you can transfer them anywhere to any computer. This is super important for in case your computer or laptop stops working or you cannot access your google/Microsoft backups. You can use the USB drives to work on another computer such as your friend’s computer or the library and still keep all your documents safe. It’s really convenient!
Next I will list (3) Campus Resources provided my Wayne State University that I believe are extremely helpful when navigating school:
1- PASS Mentoring Services
P.A.S.S stands for Peer Assisted Support Services, and is a program provided by WSU that is made up of student volunteers who help tutor students with their psychology classes and other related inquiries. I have been a PASS mentor and have therefore witnessed some of the benefits first-hand. As a psychology major and someone who has taken many psychology classes, I find this to be an extremely helpful way to receive help for my homework.
2- Mental Health support groups
There is a organization at WSU called Mental Health Matters (MHM) and it is a mental health support group on campus which provides a safe space for students to get mutual emotional support or to ask for information about relieving academic / personal life anxiety. They also have a WhatsApp group where it is easy to talk to people about everything related to school and mental health.
3- CAPS counseling services
Wayne State University offers a counseling service to students which allows them to meet with counselors who will help them navigate their emotions, which is really important because our mental health has a huge impact on our ability to do schoolwork. I have utilized this service and it has been a huge help for me. It is much easier to get schoolwork done when we have a clear mind and are able to focus.
Next are (3) strategies I have learned while taking FYS 1010:
1- Weekly scheduling
Scheduling schoolwork a week or more in advance is important because a lot of us tend to to either under or over estimate our ability to get assignments done in a certain amount of time. Scheduling avoids falling into this mistake by portioning out work in a way that is more realistic to achieve and avoids the anxiety of rushing to get assignments done on time.
2- Note-taking strategies
Finding the best way for you to take and read notes is very important, because often you will have to look back at notes in order to study for a test or review the material for answering questions on an assignment. Therefore, the notes should be organized in a way that makes sense to the person reading it, in this case yourself. For example, through FYS I have learned that I best take notes when using the “flow chart” strategy, and found that this allows me to learn beast learn and understand the given material.
3- Tips for surviving test anxiety
Whenever there is a huge exam for a class, it is easy to get anxious which can affect the ability to concentrate on the test itself. Therefore it is important to find ways to alleviate stress before an exam in a way that works for you. We went over many tips for this in class, and some I have found to work for me included: acknowledging the stress, giving myself a pep talk, and deep breathing techniques. Finding the right ones that work for you will help before taking a huge test.
(2) Habits I’ve implemented since starting class:
1- Since learning that regular physical activity improves school performance, I have gone outside for a walk and walked for at least 30 minutes every day. Even this seemingly light exercise has not only improved my physical health but has also helped with my mental health, which in turn allows me to better focus on my assignments and has led to better school performance overall. Therefore I recommend going for a walk or participating in some type of light exercise every single day.
2- Another healthy habit I have begun to do is to intake less caffeine throughout the day to allow for better sleep at night. I used to drink a lot of coffee during the day and it would keep me up or prevent me from falling asleep on time. However, sleep is important for school because it allows you to process difficult material that you need to know for exams. So now I not only limit the amount of caffeine I drink but I also do not drink coffee after a certain time (1 pm). Since doing this I have found I sleep better and memorize material more easily.
(1) The most meaningful piece of advice given to me:
1- The most meaningful and significant piece of advice related to learning came from a twitter post I cam across over a year ago and can no longer find. It was about how important it is to have fun no matter what it is you are trying to do or learn. To me it means that we sometimes limit ourselves by believing something to be too boring or too difficult to do, but if we can somehow make what we are trying to do interesting or fun to us on a personal level, than it will be much easier to accomplish. For me, I like challenges so instead of viewing something as difficult, I will instead view it as a game or challenge that I can overcome with will. This allows me to then feel a sense of accomplishment when I do complete a “difficult” task, such as homework or a project.
This FYS kit that I have put together will be useful for anyone beginning college or university. I believe this because everything included in it has helped me to become a better student by helping me to become a better learner. A lot of the strategies discussed (including utilizing available resources and ways to reduce anxiety) have taught me how to organize my lifestyle in a way that best matches my academic strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully it will help someone else the same way it has helped me, and going forward I know I will use the same strategies when completing the rest of my time here at WSU.
its been a while. ive been feeling really unproductive this semester. between my class schedule and my classes in general. its been super tiring to listen to professors talk for hours on end. i think that alone has hampered my productivity. i resort to playing lots of video games during class just out of boredom, although i know i should be paying attention. i spend too much time on social media. perhaps its my environment thats causing me to resort to the same activities, being that i sit at the same desk everyday. im behind in only one class but it feels like im slacking incredibly.
im taking more responsibility for my actions. ive been able to recognize these stupid things im doing and try to avoid them. i keep having dreams about people ive grown distant from, where we end up talking again and everything is fine. if only it were that simple.
i keep thinking about this time last year. i keep thinking about the days i spent lonely in quarantine and all the little things i did to get through. i dont exercise regularly, although i easily could. like i mentioned earlier, video games and social media absorb a lot of my time (just take for instance this post, im probably avoiding doing some work by writing this).
im doing more things that make me happy. im drawing, talking to more friends, and actually engaging in schoolwork. ive really been enjoying talking to some of my internet friends more. its really sucked growing distant from a friend i had just a month or two ago, but ive found other things to think about and other friends to talk to. theres absolutely some guilt and some responsibility behind growing distant with that friend, but it just doesnt seem worth it being that they literally dont want to talk to me anymore. thats fine and thats just how its going to be, until theyre ready to talk about it at least.
i feel like im reaping the consequences of my alcohol consumption. sitting at this desk all day has given me shoulder pain and neck pain. i wish i could have a change in scenery. maybe the best thing to do is to use my laptop and not work at this god forsaken desk all day. maybe get outside and work out there for once. maybe get ahead on my work for once this semester.
this class schedule is painful. i have two classes monday, no classes tuesday, three classes wednesday, and one class on both thursday and friday. its sounds fine but its terrible. the class content is driving me nuts. i wish this schedule was more consistent. having tuesday off was originally a blessing but now its a curse. i was to use it for getting work done. i have no idea what i do with my tuesdays, i couldnt tell you.
theres also the guilt of having no job and spending my money. ive been searching for internships but with no luck. i keep telling myself ive applied to a lot of internships, but really ive only applied to 12 or so. i needed to get on that months ago, but we're here now. im trying to get into a paid internship through my school for the summer. im hoping it goes well.
i visited my parents for easter. it was actually really nice for once. i felt reluctant to leave, but im back here at my apartment now. and thats okay. im really glad to be here close to my partner. i really love them alot and it means so much that im here with them.
i think thats all i really wanted to talk about. like i said, im trying my best to do my best. im getting better. its getting better, despite the things that happened recently. if you read this then your insane.
Something’s Missing: Part 4
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
Thursday Night - Day 3
You try to get through your last three classes, but in each one you have someone asking you about Peter. You avoided answering most of their questions by reminding them you’ve only known him for a couple days. Meaning you haven’t had the chance to learn all these details about him. Every girl seemed so enamored with Peter, you wondered, why? Maybe you’d just have to get to know him more to see what they did. You wondered how it was going for Peter, was he being asked all the same questions you were?
“So, you're officially with (Y/N)? When did that happen? It definitely wasn’t at the cafeteria. We both know how that turned out.” Trevor says to Peter while doing drills on the field.
“Thanks for reminding me...no, it uhh... happened last night. I was driving home after Coach was kicking my ass in practice and I ended up at a diner where she works and we just got to talking.”
“So, what? You just activated your PK charm to max level? Why’d she say yes this time around?” Trevor questions.
“We just connected, that’s all...what?”
“Nothing. I didn’t say anything.”
“Then what's with the look?" Peter asks his friend.
“Nothing, it just must’ve been a really good 'conversation' for you to ask her to be your girl.” Trevor implies to Peter.
“We really did JUST talk Trev." Peter clarifies.
"Surrree.. you did. You know most guys wait until AFTER the first date to make it official.”
"Will you stop with the air quotes. It’s really NOT what you think. We just talked and I don’t know... I guess I liked her enough to ask her out.”
“Okay, okay, I believe you. By the way, it was a good move on your part. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about you and (Y/Initials) all day. Gen’s probably fuming.”
“Really? What were they saying?”
“Well, mostly everyone was wondering who (Y/N) was. They haven’t really seen you two together before this morning. They wanted to know who this girl was that had your heart even before your first date. When is that by the way?"
“The date? I'm...uhh...I’m actually meeting her tonight after practice."
“Well congrats my man. To getting over the she-devil. May we never have to see her face again.” Trevor says raising his lacrosse stick in the air.
“You really dislike Gen that much?” Peter asks his friend.
“Uhh, did you forget that she made the last month of your relationship a living hell. It’s one thing to just break up with you. That’s whatever, but she cheated on you, then tried to guilt you into thinking it was your fault. Who does that? Psychopathic tendencies for sure.” Trevor explains.
“Psychopathic tendencies? That’s a bit extreme don’t you think? You need to chill out on these psych courses.” Peter reasons with him.
“Look, all I’m saying is (Y/N) is like the complete opposite of ‘you-know-who”. She’s like this quiet, chill, nice girl. That’s a big change from loud, rude, always-has-to-be-right, mean girl...Genevieve.” Trevor says over-dramatically shivering when he mentions Gen’s name.
Peter rolls his eyes staring at his friend.
“I mean it PK, (Y/Initials) will probably be a good change for you. She doesn’t seem manipulative, jealous, or clingy, so at least you have that going for you.” Trevor continues
“Yeah, it will be nice not having to apologize for always being in the wrong.” Peter admits.
“She’s not mad is she? I mean, she doesn’t want to bail on you just because she found out about the bet?” Trevor asks his friend remembering the look on your face earlier after he told you.
“You mean the bet that you mentioned to her? No, luckily she didn’t seem too worried about it.” Peter assures his friend.
“You see that’s exactly what I mean. You just met this girl and she doesn’t let this type of stuff get to her head. Gen would’ve already had you on your knees apologizing.”
“It was not that bad. I was not whipped.” Peter defends.
“Uhh, yeah you were Kavinsky. You just couldn’t see it.” Trevor stands his ground.
“Pike, Kavinsky...save the girl talk for the locker room. It’s time to focus, we have a big game coming up next week, and I don’t need YOU two LOSERS messing it up for us. We all know Greenberg does enough messing up for the rest of us.” Coach Finstock reprimands to the guys.
After lacrosse practice, Peter heads to the diner like you had asked him to. He makes his way over to the counter where you are cashing out a customer. He waits for you to finish before he begins speaking.
“Hi. I’ll have a burger, fries and a cherry Coke.” he says trying to lighten the mood.
“Sure, I’ll get your order in. We can talk once I have my break which should be in 10 min.” You let him know. He nods taking a seat at an empty table, occupying his time by texting on his phone.
You bring out his drink, then move to wait on another table. His order is ready once you put in the new tables order in. You glance at the clock and it’s 7:30 pm. You let Joann know you’re taking a break, moving to walk over to Peter with his food in hand.
“Okay, I have 30 min. Then another hour until I can leave.” You say. Placing his order in front of him.
“Do you work here everyday after school?” He asks curiously.
“Yeah and most weekends, keeps me busy.”
“What about, schoolwork?”
“I get that done at home or in between classes. Anyways, about this whole...” You start.
“Relationship?” He finishes for you.
“Yeah, that. You mentioned rules. What were you thinking?” You asked.
“I don’t know really, I just kinda said it. Things we have to do to make it believable to others.” he says
“Like... holding hands, walking each other to class, going to my games and practices.”
“So, this is gonna take more work than I thought.”
“It’s not that bad. Here, gimme that.” He grabs your notebook that you take orders on and starts listing rules off. “First things first, neither of us can let anyone know this isn’t real. First rule of Fight Club, you know?”
“’Don’t talk about, Fight Club.’ Got it. Don’t mention ‘fake relationship’ to anyone.” You respond back to him without missing a beat.
“You watched Fight Club?” Peter asks pleasantly surprised.
“Uh, have you seen Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham-Carter? Plus, it’s a cult classic. Why wouldn’t I have seen it?”
“I don’t know just surprised, doesn’t seem like your type of movie.”
“Well, I guess you don’t know me as well as you thought.”
“I guess you’re right. But, that goes both ways. You probably don’t know much about me either.” He counters.
“It’s weird that we’re doing this isn’t it? I mean considering we were basically strangers two days ago.”
“You’re second guessing it now aren’t you?”
“No, well... maybe. I don’t know. It just seems odd to me that we can’t be honest with everyone. Maybe they’ll understand.”
“We’ve been through this. It’s not that easy. We can’t just explain it to them. Trust me I know these guys. They won’t understand. We’ll be outcasts for that next two years.”
“You mean, I would be an outcast...again. They’d probably welcome you back with open arms.”
“That’s not what I said. And, it’s not true. You don’t know that.”
“Whatever, forget I mentioned it. No snitching is number one. Let’s see what else you have written down.” You look at the list he started.
1) No snitching
2) (Y/N) will attend Peter’s lacrosse games and practices
3) Peter drives (Y/N) to school and picks her up after work.
4) (Y/N) has to attend social gatherings Peter is invited too.
"You don’t have to drive me. I told you, I don’t mind walking.” You let him know.
“I think people would think it’d be weird if I let my girlfriend walk to school alone. They’d think I was a jerk or something.”
“Wow, Peter K. cares what people think.” You joke.
“Ha ha. I’m not scratching that one off. You get a ride to school and home. Most people would kill for that, especially with me as the driver.” He boasts.
“You do realize you just made it seem like you’re so full of yourself, right?” You say lightly.
He takes a bite of his burger, ignoring your statement. You continue to look over the list.
“I get going to your games, but parties? Is that really necessary?”
“No guy is going to go to a party without his girlfriend. That’s a non-negotiable.” He responds quickly.
“You know, now may not be a good time to tell you I hate following rules.” You reply playfully.
“You’re not getting out of the parties (y/n/n).” He repeats.
“Fine.” You say looking over the list once more. “I don’t want you to kiss me anymore.” You say suddenly.
“What?” he says taken aback.
“You can’t kiss me like you did in the hall earlier today.” you say again.
“Who’s gonna believe we’re in a relationship if I’m not allowed to kiss you?” Peter explains.
“You know, you may be the James Dean of this kind of stuff, but I’ve never had a boyfriend before.” You admit
“You have the references of an 80-year-old women. Why does that matter?”
“It matters, because I don’t want all my firsts to be fake. And, if i’m going to be making out with someone i’m gonna do it for real.”
You pull the notebook from him and add that rule to the list.
1) No snitching
2) (Y/N) will attend Peter’s lacrosse games and practices
3) Peter drives (Y/N) to school and picks her up after work.
4) (Y/N) has to attend social gatherings Peter is invited too.
5) No Kissing
“Okay, but, we’re gonna need to figure something out. People will get very suspicious if i’m not allowed to touch you.”
“We can hold hands, or gaze into each others eyes, hug, whatever. But, no kissing. We can even do the hand in back pocket thing from Sixteen Candles.”
He looks at you like you’re speaking gibberish.
“You don’t know what I’m talking about do you?” You ask him.
“Not a clue.”
“Forget it. But, that rule is MY non-negotiable.” You say in the same tone he did.
“Fine.” He accept.
“Anything else?” You ask him.
“I could...umm...I could write you notes everyday.” Peter says hesitantly at first.
“Why would you do that?” You curiously ask not expecting him to have said that.
“It’s just Gen was always on me to write her them, I never did. So, if I start sending them to you she’d be pissed.” He explains adding it to the list, before finishing off with one more.
1) No snitching
2) (Y/N) will attend Peter’s lacrosse games and practices
3) Peter drives (Y/N) to school and picks her up after work.
4) (Y/N) has to attend social gatherings Peter is invited too.
5) No Kissing
6) Peter will write (Y/N) a letter every day
7) Ski Trip!!
“Ski trip?” You question looking at the list. “That’s like 3 months away from now. You really think we’ll still be doing this by then?” you ask.
“Let’s call it a contingency. Look, no one in the right mind is gonna let their boyfriend go on that trip without them. So, if we are still doing this by the time it comes around, you have to go with me.” Peter tells you.
Realistically speaking most high school relationships end around the 2 month mark. So, there’s no way you’d still be fake dating Peter by the time the Ski Trip rolls around. And, that’s the only reason you say. “Okay. Deal.”
“Great. Sign here and we have a legally bound receipt.” He says winking at you. You sign and get up to go back to work.
“Don’t you get to eat on your break?” He asks.
“Typically, I would. But, I had to handle my affairs.” You say before grabbing a fry of his, and going back to work. You had one more hour. You could do this. What you didn’t expect was for Peter to stay there the whole time. 9 pm on the dot Peter was still there. He waited for you to gather your things, and say your goodbyes to your team, before standing up and saying. “Ready?”
“You know you didn’t have to wait for me.” you say.
He then points to the list, rule #3.
“It’s in the contract (Y/L/N). Come on, let’s go.” He says leading you outside with his hand on your back. He unlocks his car, opening the passenger side door for you to get in, then makes his way to the drivers side.
Peter starts driving and you go to tell him where your house is before he stops you saying “Don’t worry, I remember.” You smile.
“So, about the bet that you mentioned earlier.” Peter says breaking the silence.
“You don’t have to...” you say before he cuts you off.
“No, I want to explain. Yes, there was a bet, it was that I could ask any girl out and they’d say yes. But, you said no. And, the bet was over. When I came to the diner, I honestly didn’t know you worked there. I just don’t want you thinking I played dumb, and stalked you just to earn brownie points to get you to eventually say ‘yes’. Which for the record. I never asked you out after that first day.” Peter rambles a bit explaining himself.
“For what?” He asks looking at you briefly.
“Caring enough to explain that to me.” You say looking at him smiling. “So, what’d you bet for anyways?”
“$100 bucks. But, seeing as how Trev thinks he may be causing our breakup when we haven’t even been on a date, he’s not likely to collect.” You both chuckle at that.
“So, what’s our story? I mean if someone asks me how we got together, what do I tell them?”
“We say that I asked you out last night at the diner. I liked you so much, I asked you to be my girlfriend before our first date. Which was today.”
“Such a productive first date, we made rules and everything.” You joke with him. “So, we’ve been “dating” since that night at the diner?” You repeat.
“Yeah, I guess better to be clear on details, before someone notices a flaw in our story.”
“Why does this seem like we’re criminals crafting an alibi?”
Peter just laughs. “In a way, we have to be smart enough to get everyone to buy it. At least until we both get what we want.”
“What do you expect to get out of this anyway? Gen back?”
“I don’t know. Probably not, but making her jealous is definitely a plus.”
“How about you? I mean, it must be nice having your crush pay more attention to you.”
“Yeah, Ed. And, don’t even try to say you’re not crushing on him. I saw the way you were looking at him.”
“I...fine. I admit... I may have a small crush on him.”
“I knew it! So, making Scissorhands jealous. That’s what you want out of this?”
“His name is Edward, pretty sure he hates the Scissorhands reference.”
“You’re deflecting, (Y/N). It’s a simple question ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”
“No, i’m not doing this to make him or anyone else jealous. I don’t like games remember?”
“But, you just admitted to liking him. And, game or not, he does seem to be talking to you more than he has before.”
“Maybe, he was just surprised by us dating. Let’s be real here no one makes someone their girlfriend when they haven’t even been out on a date.”
“Yeah, but he and Gen probably just assumed we’ve been seeing each other on the DL.”
“Okay, if that’s what they think...but no way Trevor thinks we’ve been seeing each other on the “DL”. He was surprised I ended up saying ‘yes’ to going out with you in the first place.”
“Yeah, but Trev won’t mention it to them.”
“How do you know that?”
“He’s my best friend he can keep a secret.”
“This is going to be harder than I thought. Now we have to keep track of the stories we tell everyone. You got me playing a game I didn’t want to in the first place.”
“If you don’t like playing games, why did you agree to do this?”
“Like you said, it seems like we have no choice since everyone believes us already. Besides, you seem like you really want to prove something to Gen. So, if faking this thing helps with that then...”
“So...you’re doing this for me?” He asks looking at you.
“Partially, maybe I feel bad for ghosting/rejecting you. I didn’t realize you were still hung up on her. If this will help her get back with you then whatever. No harm I guess.”
“Yeah, no harm.”
He arrives at your house shortly after, turning the engine off.
“Your parents not home again?” he asks.
“I guess not.” You say.
“Are they always working late?” He asks curious.
“Pretty much” You say. Moving to open the door to leave before Peter stops you by speaking.
“What do they do for work anyways?” Peter questions, mostly wondering what job could keep them away for long periods of time.
“Why do you care?” You ask, mostly surprised.
“It’s just, I realized we’re going into this fake relationship, and I don’t know anything about you or your family. What if people ask me questions that I can’t answer?”
“You know some could say the beauty of fake dating someone, is that you don’t have to talk about all the details.”
“Well, it’d be nice to know something about you, other than you work at the diner, like photography, and have great taste in movies.” Peter says trying to get you to open up.
“He’s away on business. I’m not sure when he’ll be back.” You admit.
“You never know?”
“I guess he’s like Chris in that sense. They're free birds, they come and go as they please.
Peter just nods in response before speaking again. “I’m sorry, by the way. I know that I got you into this mess. I really didn’t think that flirting with a you would, become the headline of the day.” He admits.
“Everything’s a big deal in high school. Especially when the star lacrosse player is supposedly dating a nobody.” You say going to opening the door.
“You’re definitely not a nobody (Y/N). And, with the way I’ve been playing at practice I don’t know if you can still consider me a “star” player.” He confesses grabbing your hand gently making you look him in the eyes to see his sincerity. You nod in understanding before he lets go of your hand speaking again.
“Before you go, I need your number. You know to make it official.”
“I thought the signed receipt made it official.” You joke while you trade phones. He enters in his number and takes a picture for his contact photo. You enter your name and number and hand it back to him.
“No, picture?” he asks.
“I hate selfies. With a passion.” You respond.
“Well how about one with the both of us? That no longer constitutes as a selfie, just a photo. Come on, you’re the photography expert you should be great at this.” He says scooting closer to you pulling up his camera.
“I guess it is just a photo in that case. But, I’m used to taking pictures of anything but myself. Plus, on a film camera you have to adjust the aperture, exposure level, with the phone you just click don’t think too much about it.”
“Some may say that’s the beauty of an instant picture... Smile (Y/N/N).” He says posing for the camera trying to get you to loosen up. You break a smile and he ends up taking a couple of different photos.
“Are they any good?” You ask.
“Perfect.” He says, while you move to unlock the door.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” You say stepping out of his Jeep.
“See you tomorrow.” He says waving.
“Peter?” You say turning back to face him. “Thank you again for the ride.” You let him know and his face instantly lights up with a smile.
“Your welcome, (Y/N). I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” He reminds you. You wave him a goodbye and head inside your home.
You spend the night wondering how a simple misunderstanding was changing everything you once knew. Peter was right though, if you didn’t like games why did you agree to all of this? Did you really want Edward to be into you just because he thinks you’re taken? That reflects badly on his character, right? Or, what if it was more so what he was saying in the library, he didn’t know if I would be open to dating so he never tried? But, since I’m supposedly dating Peter now, he sees that I was or am open to it. All of this is too much to process. So, you end up trying to clear your head making some dinner and trying to get as much homework done as you could before falling asleep. Not really sure if you were prepared for what tomorrow would bring.
Authors Note: If you would like to be added to my Taglist for this series, please comment a butterfly emoji below. 🦋
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One of the things I most enjoyed most about Cas was the excuse to try out new things and to draw and that it pushed me to do things I would not have otherwise done. The greatest challenge was finding the time to do all the activities, because it was hard to balance time for schoolwork and Cas. I still had problems overcoming the issue entirely, however planning, and consistent work helped me organize myself to effectively balance out CAS and work. Moreover, I would usually constitute activity in my room as well as drawing or chess games as my free time. A difficulty I found was leaving my comfort zone while trying out new things, especially service. Prior to helping homeless people, I would usually avoid them. They appeared as intimidating. However, once I started interacting more and having conversations, I learned they were interesting people that had their own stories to tell and they were not as scary as I thought. While meeting up with Alek the largest struggle was speaking polish. It was difficult to engage Alek in the first place, and with the addition of my unsureness towards my polish skills it was hard for me to properly connect and talk. It was not really a matter possible to entirely overcome, however as time progressed, we developed a common understanding which helped us connect. Through CAS I achieved greater appreciation in the diversity of extracurricular activities and people. I learned that I cannot solely focus on school and I need to adjust my time to fit other activities important for personal growth. The skills and abilities I developed most significantly was communication. I was interacting with people of various backgrounds which allowed me to develop linguistically by talking with people I would not normally talk to. Thanks to this I believe I become more tactful and developed a better understanding of others. I also expanded significantly on my art styles, which I would not have tried otherwise. I believe it helped me develop as an artist. I found the 1st learning outcome: "identification of strengths and areas for personal growth " to be the easiest to achieve because I tried out different art styles and services and I quickly realized what I enjoyed and what I did not and was able to distinguish my strengths and areas for improvement. The most difficult to achieve was the 3rd learning outcome “initiating and planning a CAS experience”. After COVID-19 it was difficult to plan and organize my CAS activities as the restriction that were imposed made it difficult to adjust. I had to drop my service and look for a new one, as well as my activity, which was biking to school. These changes made it difficult to adapt and plan out my CAS experience. This experience was only made more difficult in IB2 with all the additional work that came with the new educational year.
Mobile Media (Xing Hui)
In Portable Objects in Three Global Cities: The Personalization of Urban Places, Ito, Okabe and Anderson (2017), aim to investigate how portable ICTs are able to “shape our relationships with urban spaces and services”. The author acknowledged that past research only focusses on mobile phone, hence they decided to focus on the different forms of portable media in this research. In the reading, they focused on the three genres of presence namely “cocoons”, “encampments” and “footprints” that are common across the 3 global cities – Tokyo, London and Los Angeles. The various ICTs have made the three processes possible in our everyday life. Firstly, cocooning refers to the usage of media devices in the public to create a cocoon to shield themselves from their direct environment and avoid engaging with people. This is especially prevalent on trains where people busy themselves with their phones, tablets or use their headphones to listen to music. Secondly, camping refers to the establishment of a personal bubbles in public spaces by bringing portable media devices to places of choice, for example, cafes or libraries. Unlike cocooning, people choose to spend time doing productive work in places they find aesthetically appealing and desirable. Thirdly, footprinting refers to leaving traces of ourselves in places that we have visited, which are usually in the form of reward cards or transaction data.
Given the proliferation of media devices, I agree with the author’s argument that portable ICTs have managed to shape our relationships with urban spaces and services, and these processes are far from unusual. If one observes closely, cocooning, camping and footprinting are processes that we see happening around us and even to us. Our mobile phone is something that all of us carry around whenever we go. Personally, I cannot live without my mobile phone as my day-to-day activities revolve around the usage of it. For example, I tend to use my phone whenever I am on the public transport while travelling to my destination. I would either read a book, scroll social media, play games or keep myself busy by texting my friends as this offers me a sense of security. I am sure I am not the only one as this is a common sight whenever I take the MRT or the bus. In this case, I am “cocooning” myself by shielding myself away from the people on the train.
Secondly, I bring my laptop and charger along with me whenever I go out to study. For instance, my favourite spot is the window seat at Starbucks and that is where I would spend the whole day just catching up on schoolwork. Starbucks has a pleasant and cosy ambience, making it a conducive environment. Hence, “camping” at Starbucks is a way in which I interact with the built environment and infrastructure.
Lastly, “footprinting” manages our relationships with infrastructure as well as places that we have visited. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is compulsory for us to use the TraceTogether App to check in before we are allowed to enter public spaces. Records of the places we have visited, our personal particulars and the time we enter and leave the space are traces of data we leave behind whenever we visit a place. Another example would be a bubble tea shop that I used to visit weekly. Its customer loyalty system had changed from the use of physical cards to having customers’ handphone numbers keyed into a system. Hence, the three processes, namely “cocooning”, “camping” and “footprinting” are processes that are prevalent in our everyday lives and these processes influence and help us to maintain our relationships with the built environment and infrastructure.
The advantages that digital devices have brought into our lives are undeniable. Despite this, the privacy of our data is something that should be of concern. For instance, people can easily look over our shoulders to peek at what we are doing on our devices. Although this may seem far-fetched, I look behind my back whenever I key in my password to access internet banking or PayLah! as someone might be able to see my password. In addition, an innocent action such as connecting to an open network in a public space to get access free WI-FI may have serious repercussions. Malicious people or hackers are able to make use of this to gain access to our private information, for example phone numbers, credit card information or any kinds of information available on our phones. Therefore, since digital devices are a double-edged sword, we should be conscious and discerning of how we use them.
Ito, M., Okabe, D., & Anderson, K. (2017). Portable objects in three global cities: The personalization of urban places. In The Reconstruction of Space and Time (pp. 67-87). Routledge.
pairing :: iwaizumi hajime x f!reader
synopsis :: your roommate is one of the nicest people you know, and at the same time, he’s one of the most tapped boys on campus. an unfortunate set up and a domino effect ensues, causing you to find out why he’s built such a reputation.
word count :: 5.2k
genre :: college!au, roomamtes!au, player!iwaizumi, friends to lovers trope
warning :: swearing, suggestive activity, making out, metaphorical violence
notes :: this fic was initially based off the song pink lemonade by the wombats, and while i took some creative liberties i love the title so im keeping it,,, anyways take a listen and enjoy kithes <3 thank u cass for collaborating with me on the borderline filth at the end that’s so sexc of u <3 @aitarose
You needed new headphones, not that yours were broken or anything—they just weren’t doing an adequate job of keeping out the antics in which your roommate had now subjected you too. There were no established rules, however you assumed common courtesy was a given when two were sharing a space.
Iwaizumi Hajime was not the roommate you expected to have your second year of college, but sometimes things don’t work as initially planned. This was the only apartment on campus that held a reasonable distance from your frequented lecture hall, your job, and the local grocery store.
With all the roommates on the roster taken, desperate times called for desperate measures, and a friend of a friend led you here, sharing a small apartment with one of the most infamous boys on campus. Don’t be fooled, Iwaizumi was a very kind roommate; he cleaned up after himself, gave you space, even made dinner on some nights. It was surprisingly easy to live with someone who you presumed to be your complete opposite.
Yet, all those redeeming qualities seemed to fly out the door every time you heard the unfamiliar giggles of Iwaizumi’s guests, the opening and closing of doors, the hushed whispers in the late hours of the night, and of course, the sounds of the forbidden dance being performed in the room directly next to your own.
It erupted a flame within you that couldn’t be smothered by a pre-made cup of coffee the next morning and an apologetic smile—no matter how adorning it was. For this reason, you continued to abuse the keys of your laptop, in a desperate attempt to get the volume of your music to surpass whatever was happening about twenty feet away.
You weren’t one to shame someone for their body count—oftentimes you found yourself cheering on your friends in their romantic and sexual endeavors. However, something about having to hear it first hand made you itch—but Iwaizumi was your roommate, and therefore out of your control.
It would’ve been easy to ask him to stop, but who wants to be a killjoy?
In short, you’ve since settled on dealing with it—but if you kept hearing the mattress squeak you might have to accidentally drop a glass on the ground or something. Turning on your playlist, which contained music that couldn't possibly be good for your ears, and utilizing the already high frequency—you tuned out what you could.
You had an essay due in thirty minutes, and unfortunately you could still hear Iwaizumi’s voice in the back of your mind from earlier that day, telling you that you should’ve started earlier. Scoffing at the recollection, you turned back to your keyboard.
The bags under your eyes were a dramatic contrast to the whites of his smile, which shone bright even in the early hours of the morning—it was utterly infuriating. “Good morning, sunshine,” He beamed, showcasing the world renowned sarcasm which you’ve fostered a love-hate relationship with. “How’d that essay go?”
“It went,” you trudged into your shared kitchen, grabbing the coffee from your self-proclaimed mug—that of which contained an obscure ratio only Iwaizumi could make for you. Taking a sip of it only reminded you of the day ahead, but it did taste really good—another sip. “I got it done on time, if that’s what you're asking.”
Feigning shock, he leaned against the counter with a steady forearm and allowed a toned bicep to flex due to the weight. You tried not to stare—and failed miserably. His eyes narrowed at your distracted state, and the swelling under your sockets stretched at your unprompted focus. Looking back up to meet his eyes, you saw a self-satisfied smirk playing on his lips.
You’d been up for maybe five minutes, how did he already have a one up on you? “You also had quite a busy night...no?” Clearing his throat, he turned to face the counter in an attempt to tidy something that didn’t matter—embarrassed at the fact that you could hear him. It was almost endearing how flustered the mention made him, and you felt bad before reminding him of his loaded notoriety.
As if on cue, the facilitator of aforementioned events slugged out of his room in what looked to be one of his hoodies, and skirt that could only be fitting for a nightclub—you assumed she was a souvenir from his night out and took another nonchalant sip of your coffee. She approached him, with a bag slung over her shoulder, to place a chaste kiss to his lips—you cringed.
She whispered something you couldn’t quite hear, before giving you a wave and letting herself out. You searched through the makeshift name-face database in your head, trying to distinguish her familiarity, but to no avail. “She’s cute.” You spat quickly and even laced with spite, if you looked at it a certain way, but there was no room for Iwaizumi to pick it apart because you were already making a B-line to the bathroom, mirror still steamy from his own shower.
It wasn’t that you were angry at the fact that Iwaizumi had an active social life— friends and girls alike lining up to see him most every night, it was the fact that yours dulled in comparison. You wanted to suspect when he got his schoolwork done, but you frequently watched him study in your shared living room whenever he wasn’t in class or going out—he had the balance of his life down to a T.
On the other hand, you did not—because as you walked out of the library with study papers in hand, you bumped into someone and the illusion of organization you had created dissipated into thin air. It was your own fault for not paying attention, you mumbled an apology while scrambling down to pick up the papers.
The girl you had slammed into was kind enough to lean down and help, feeling the stress radiating off your body. She told you it was no problem, and that these things happened, but it wasn’t until you stood up (somewhat) tall, with your papers in hand, that you realized who the voice belonged to.
You recognized her fluffed black strands—the frame of her face very distinct and rather beautiful. Yet, you instantly categorized her as part of the statistic you were building in your head—where she belonged to the majority of female students on campus that Iwaizumi had been involved with.
She didn’t find you familiar in the slightest, because she wasn’t the one who had to see the instagram photos over dinner a month ago, when Iwaizumi rambled on about how ‘he was serious about this one’ (spoiler alert, he wasn’t). Giving her a polite smile and a sincere thank you, you quickly concluded the interaction—it wasn’t her fault Iwaizumi had the charm of a Charis reincarnate.
The order that you had established for your freshly printed papers was long gone as you started towards the science building, effectively catching your roommate before an afternoon lecture. Living with Iwaizumi was nice—but the part you enjoyed most was simply being his friend, because that meant there was one less stranger you had to avoid eye contact with—it was the little things that made life as a student easier.
He walked out of a class you forgot the name of, but you knew it ended in an -ology, definitely a major requirement of some sort. Iwaizumi’s neck was craned down at his phone, thumbs twiddling away at the small screen, before he noticed you and a smile quickly overtook his face. “Told you to stop waiting for me,” he accompanied this with a small ruffle to the top of your head.
“I didn’t wait for you—,” you giggled, swatting his hand away, “—just didn’t want to walk to my next class alone, don’t flatter yourself!” Stepping to the side, before swearing back towards him, the two of you settled into a comfortable pace, “So I’m just arm candy then?” He teased, lightheartedly, however the comment created a fluttering in your stomach that you’d rather keep pushed down with an iron first.
“Keep dreaming!” Refusing to let the silence settle, and eager to move past the warmth in your chest at his proximity, you kept the conversation going. “Speaking of you being arm candy, you won’t believe who I bumped into just now.” You name-dropped the girl he dated for all of two weeks, and teased him for his short term tendencies, he was quick to defend himself— almost embarrassed by the mere allusion—despite his shamelessly spellbinding reputation.
It almost made you feel lucky, to witness Iwaizumi so bashful, when really you were just his roommate who somehow managed to nuzzle a way into his hyperactive, sociable heart. He was always physically close yet you still managed to feel a substantial distance between the two of you, as if you were a piece outside of his life, as opposed to a part of it.
“To be fair, that breakup was mutual,” he reasoned.
“Oh yeah? And what about the ones that weren’t?” You began counting off the girls he had brought home off the top of your head, missing many names, as you saw them in passing as opposed to having actual introductions. By the time you filled the capacity of your counting fingers, the two of you had reached your building.
Stopping at the door, you began to tune out his stutters as he tried to justify his actions—you played it off as typical college boy antics, something you were observing from afar and wasn’t actually your business outside of teasing material. Waving him off, you interrupted his tangent, “Whatever Iwa, see you later.”
You opened the door only to turn back around, a question prompting a furrow in your brows, “Are you going to be home tonight?” He thought for a moment, looking around before checking the time on his phone out of habit, and finally returning your gaze when he had an answer. “Not today, tomorrow though. Going out with some friends from high school.”
A nonchalant nod was thrown his way, as you ignored the subtle pang of disappointment in your chest, “Lock the door when you get back.” And with that, you left him under the scolding summer sun. You tried to shift your headspace away from your roommate and onto the lecture you were about to enter—still your mind lingered. It wasn’t a feeling of missing out, but rather a feeling of missing him.
But he wasn’t yours to miss.
The cat—or rather, the dog, rolled in half past three. You would’ve remained asleep, had he not knocked over the coat rack when he came in—muttering curses that you miraculously heard from your bedroom down the hall. You came to learn early on that drunk Iwaizumi had no sense of volume control.
Then, almost as if it never happened, he was up with the sun and ready for the day before you even got the chance to steal a shower. It was honestly infuriating, his biological clock was some sort of enigma and you wouldn’t be surprised if scientists made note of him to study in the future. ‘Hangover’ was not a word that existed in Iwaizumi Hajime’s vocabulary, only tolerable nausea apparently.
That day, you didn’t cross paths again until seven, an evening at home seemed fitting for the melancholy of a Thursday—though it’s not like you had many other options. You found refuge in the hand-me-down couch that your dad had lent to you when moving into this apartment, surprisingly taking a quick liking to Iwaizumi during the process.
On the other hand, Iwaizumi, allowed himself to melt into the armchair that had the faintest scent of dust lingering in its cushions. Neither of you were in a position to complain about the furniture, as nights at home were few and far in between, yet there was an itch in his brain that refused to let him rest his shoulders like he hoped.
His glance flickered across the way and he had to manually tear his eyes away as he quickly became distracted from the game highlights on his phone. Your pants were abnormally short—but that was just lounge attire—which he had no right to a second glance at. He never wanted to inhibit you, you were his roommate and the last thing he wanted was to make you feel as though you couldn’t be comfortable in your own home.
Though, a pit in his stomach threw a wrench into his sense of control, and it wasn’t until you dramatically fell back with a groan that he realized the direction his brain was leading him into, he pulled himself back to reality.
“This sucks.” You grouched. Questioning with a hum, Iwaizumi, suddenly became very interested by the ball flying around his phone screen, “Dating. All my friends are out with their partners and I haven’t gotten an ounce or action since freshman year.” You jumped back up to drop your head in your hands, “Pathetic.”
“Yeah, you are.” He chuckled, seizing the opportunity. “But y’know, I have quite the network.” Iwaizumi began to stretch, the strain of his muscles thickening the rasp of his voice, “I could always set you up.” Turning to look at him, and waiting for his gaze to land on you, you tilted your head in confusion in hopes of prompting an explanation.
“I mean, I know a close friend of mine is looking for something new—that’s what you're looking for right? A relationship?” You were surprised to find he was actually engaged in this conversation, quick to help you solve your unprompted problem. It would've been heartwarming, if it didn’t feel like a set up from your grandma who was desperate to marry you off.
“Uh, yeah. I don’t do flings anymore.” You trailed off, praying that your words didn’t carry any unintentional weight. He looked up from his phone, eyes narrowing slightly, as your face gave him hints that you were aware of the implications of your comment. Iwaizumi wondered what experience you had that made you swear off casual relationships, he concluded that it wasn’t his business.
“Right.” He dropped his eyes back to his phone, before typing something you couldn’t see, “I’m going—to reach out to a friend of mine, you’ll probably know him.” It would’ve been fruitless to sweep your brain for the possible friend he was talking about, between his ever changing circle of drinking buddies and revolving door of girls covering all fields of study, the list would never end.
About a week later, you concluded that maybe you shouldn’t have put so much trust in Iwaizumi—because while you were only passively involved in his life you didn’t expect to be whisked away on a date with Oikawa Tooru. The man across from you was in Iwaizumi’s lockscreen for God’s sake, was there really no other options?
You could sense the tension in Oikawa’s shoulders, and a nervous hand flung up to his face to readjust his glasses. He was probably just as uncomfortable as you were, only an acquaintance, but one with a weirdly complex understanding of the common thread you two held, nonetheless.
However, it wasn’t just Iwaizumi’s lingering presence that made the date awkward. No, it was the fact that the poor brunette across from you was trying so desperately to outrun the awkwardness that he just ended up tripping, falling flat on his face. You didn’t initially take Oikawa for a talker—or a sweater, but his nervousness was unnerving and obviously got the better of him.
“I’m sorry—,” he said, after coming to realize that he had been talking about his flopping major for the past five minutes or so, “I’m not usually this nervous, I wasn’t expecting someone I already knew.” You nodded, your lips forming a straight line, as you reminded yourself to pour cold water on your roommate tomorrow.
“It's alright,” you reassured, “I’m surprised you're still dating in all honestly—thought someone would’ve picked up the handsome-student-athlete package by now.” It was silent for a moment, as he examined your features for any traces of mockery. You began to do the same when he suddenly fell into a fit of chuckles, which you couldn’t help but feel alienated by.
Looking around, and apologizing to the passing waiters with your eyes, you waited for Oikawa to cease his attack. Wiping a hand across his tear line, he pointed a finger your way, “Since we’re being honest,” he began earnestly, “I thought you and Iwa we're definitely fucking on the down-low.”
You choked on the cola you were nursing, trying to hold back the flush that spread across your face and realizing how grateful you were for the dim lights scattered above you. This insinuation did not make any sense to you, was Oikawa familiar with Iwaizumi at all? It was impossible for him to be ignorant to the girls in which his best friend cycled through on a weekly basis.
Were you supposed to be offended by the fact that he thought you were one of them? You condemned yourself at the thought, trying not to judge either party for the fact that they were getting laid and you, unfortunately, we're not. Then again, did he think you were charming enough to be one of those girls?
Confliction ran rampant in your brain, and you soon became lost in your thoughts. Oikawa pulled you out when he noticed the look in your eyes getting farther and farther away, “I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to be vulgar or assume anything its just—”
“It’s fine, really!” You were a little too eager to reassure this time, as you took another sip out of your drink in embarrassment, it was a shame that this would go down as one of the worst dates you’ve ever been on, because Oikawa truly was sweet. If only your instigator of a roommate hadn’t put you both in this position, maybe you would've actually enjoyed yourself.
You and Oikawa split the bill.
Iwaizumi didn’t ask any questions that night when you came home and immediately crashed onto the couch, throwing your purse somewhere unidentifiable. He simply sipped his drink, before returning to his room to study, without getting his hopes up at either outcome—at this point he wasn’t entirely sure which one he preferred.
The conversation didn’t come up until you were out grocery shopping a few days later, and you muttered something almost incomprehensible while examining a stem of scallions. “You’re paying this week.” He followed up your declaration with a hum before you decided the greens were adequate and tossed them his way. “You owe me repercussions for that train wreck of a date.”
You continued walking down the vegetable aisle, and Iwaizumi was quick to trail after you despite the rusted wheels of the cart—suddenly very intrigued by what you had to say. “What do you mean?” He wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed or relieved, “I would be careful what you say, thats my best friend you—”
“It wasn’t Oikawa himself,” you emphasized, “It was the fact that he’s like—your brother—shit was weird. Never again.” You huffed, dropping some oranges you most likely weren’t going to eat in front of him. “I thought you said you had a network—I see him like once a week at least.”
Iwaizumi pondered your analysis, he did say he had a network didn’t he? Pursing his lips, he wanted to offer another friend, but realized that when you said never again, you probably meant never again. He put the conversation to rest until you reached the next aisle, “I still don’t understand why I have to pay repercussions, it was kind of a pain in ass to get you that date.”
You rolled your eyes at the ever difficult boy to your left, “Right, because a phone call is so much damn work.” He squinted, opening his mouth to reply only to be cut off by your stern tone once again, “Reach up and grab that box, the red one.” Even in his irritated state, he complied, grabbing the cardboard and passing it to you before throwing out his hands in exasperation.
“I’m not a damn matchmatcher, y/n. The least I could get is a thank you.” He felt the frustration rising up his throat, words flying your way like sharp daggers, “Not many people are looking for a whole fucking relationship, I did my best.”
Maybe it was your lack of gratitude, but other than that, he really had no reason to be getting so worked up—Iwaizumi was always selfless, why now was he so insistent on gaining recognition for his efforts? It seemed far too trivial, and you felt yourself getting just as worked up as he was, “Not everyone wants to sleep around like you do, Iwa!”
The eyes of the other patrons in the aisle fell on the two of you, and the stares directed at your back practically suffocated you. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” He whispered, shooting those around his apologetic glances as you cowarded in embarrassment, the gesture on his end almost felt condescending. “What, you’re going to slut-shame me now?”
The ghostly asphyxiation had a hold on your throat, as you stuttered, “I just—no of course not—why would I— forget it.” You trudged out the aisle, leaving Iwaizumi alone to stare at the boxes of cereal. He quickly turned around to gather the cart, still embarrassed by the lingering energy you two managed to leave behind.
Neither one of you spoke to one another for the rest of the outing.
Fights we're not good for the longevity of a living space, so you and Iwaizumi avoided them at all costs. If there was a disagreement with the utility bill, or a miscommunication that left one, the other, or both parties angry—the two of you would actually sit down and talk about it. Your arrangement was healthier than most relationships, and you were only tenants by chance.
This is why you were so shocked to see Iwaizumi giving you the cold shoulder, quite literally, as he passed you a cup of cold coffee the next morning with not nearly enough creamer. He then would make some comment under his breath before leaving abruptly, and not returning until the late hours of the night.
He even went as far as making a ruckus whenever he brought a guest over—which mind you—was a frequent occurrence. It was the uncharacteristic pettiness that hinted at the fact that this time you may have crossed a line. The last thing you intended to do was shame him, you didn’t feel morally superior to him, but you’d be lying to yourself by saying that you weren’t at least trying to act so in the heat of the moment.
Obviously, it failed—and now your apartment always felt ten degrees colder in the mornings, and ten times louder in the night. Your headphones we're deemed useless a few days into this grudge he insisted on holding.
Even Oikawa noticed, he had rolled in sometime around eleven the following Friday to pick up Iwaizumi—and as your roommate left he noticed how you remained unmoving against the kitchen counter, not even sparing one another so much as a glance. “Aren’t you going to say goodbye?”
Iwaizumi scowled at him, and he couldn’t help but feel scolded under the gaze of his best friend. “No.” He snapped, titling his head down, his tone somehow insinuating that it should’ve been obvious, “Assholes don’t get goodbyes.” He ducked out the door, leaving Oikawa to bore holes into the back of your head with confused eyes, you didn’t spare him a glance either.
You presumed Iwaizumi was angry because you judged his lifestyle, dabbling in his life where you didn’t belong and this was your payback. He was most likely waiting for you to apologize, and say that you were thankful for his help even if you didn’t have to be, and reassure him that there was no room for judgement behind your eyes.
Something you came to learn was that Iwaizumi was ridiculously stubborn, but so were you.
There was a reason you told him to forget it, you didn’t mean it, and no matter how illogical it seemed, you felt it was his fault for taking it the wrong way. There was no need to prolong this squabble, and have it escalate until a full blown fight—if he wanted to be childish and refuse to swallow that horrendous pride of his, so be it.
However, there was a point when things boiled over, especially when neither of you were well-versed in the ins and outs of quarreling with the one person you needed to get along with. You had to give yourself quite the pep talk, before putting your ego aside and taking a step into his bedroom, where he was hunched over a wide desk.
“Can I charge my phone in here? The outlets in the kitchen and my room are loose.” Iwaizumi pulled a headphone away from his ear, before turning to you with a furrowed brow. He was well aware of the fact that sometimes the outlets around the apartment didn’t hold, but the last thing he expected was for you to come to him with a favor amidst what he assumed to be a deadlock.
Then again, he also saw an opening to crack a joke that was most certainly uncalled for. “Loose? Is that another dig at my sex life?” He tsked, before standing up and approaching the door, which you stood right outside of, refusing to enter the threshold of his bedroom—lord knows how many ghosts were in those walls.
You took a step back, a little taken by his comment and unable to think of a quip in counter. His smirk was subtle, as he rested two arms above his head, leaning forward and allowing his weight to rest against the doorframe. “So judgemental.” The warmth of his breath gently grazed the tops of your cheeks, making it difficult to remember that the two of you were supposed to be fighting.
“Will you just shut the fuck up and take my phone?” His eyebrow remained raised at your rude comment, before he dropped his arms and tore the device from your hands, the small veins on his knuckles growing at the tight grip. You turned on a heel to return to your room, but before you could make the full trip some words popped in your head that you couldn’t seem to push down fast enough.
“And by the way, Iwa?” He stuck his head out the door, “I didn’t mean it like that and you know it. You're acting like an immature jackass.” You paused, a sudden wave of courage overtaking you, “Cut the victim complex, your the one who called me a fucking prude for not being the campus wide booty call, alright?”
His eyes widened at your name calling, and he stepped out into the hallway to eye you down, your stature remained unmoved, but if he looked closely he could see your pupils double in size as he stood at his full height. “Woah, try uncalled for? If you have a problem with me bringing people over then say it to my face and let that be the end of it.” He pointed to himself, as his voice became rougher.
The stiff tone of his words sliced your eardrums causing you to cringe. Your bravery flushed and went as quickly as it came now that he was the one shouting. Desperate to redeem yourself, you managed to push out a stuttered response, “I don’t care if you bring people over!”
Iwaizumi was, at this point, beside himself—both of you had forgotten the root of this argument, the root of your anger, and yet there was a hole in the pit of your stomach propelling you forward. The floodgates had been opened, and neither of you were going to stop until everything was up in the air—even if that led to a less than favorable predicament.
“Then what is the problem!” Iwaizumi hated to yell, but his voice had reached uncharacteristic heights as he attuned himself to your volume, the two of you were now going in a circle and the brakes were out of reach, “I don’t know Iwa, what is the fucking problem?!”
“The problem is that I’ve fucked most every girl on this campus and all I can think about is you!” The veins in his neck popped as the words flew well over your head, hitting the wall behind you, before ricocheting and stabbing you right in back—gracing your heart and making it bubble with fiery warmth.
“For months all I can seem to think about is your stupid fucking face, no matter how many girls I go out with I always come back to you and its so goddamn annoying y/n!” He took a deep breath, leveling out his chest before taking a step back to watch you process. Your mouth was hung agape, and he couldn’t help but mimic it—a desperate attempt to form some reaction, any reaction, to the detrimental confession he just made.
Mind running wild, debating back and forth whether or not what was happening was good—was what you wanted—and it was. It really was, despite how much you loathed his nature. The way your heart raced whenever he was around, the way it was racing now—feet moving on instinct towards his large and inviting body.
His hands immediately found their place on your cheeks, cupping your jaw with force and pulling you as close as he possibly could as your lips came together in ecstasy. You could feel the blood rush to your head, flushing your skin whilst adrenaline pulsed through your veins—the energy alive and lustful, all of the tension you’d been holding for Iwaizumi flooding out of your heart.
You grasped his hair, strands between your fingertips, yanking his head back and moving your mouth down to pepper sparse kisses down his face, sucking on the skin of his neck and leaving purple and brown bruises in its wake. The sounds of his moans encouraged you further, driving the need in the pit of your stomach—bodies having ached for each other for so long.
“Let me see you,” he groaned, breathing out as he grabbed you by the jawline, guiding your lips back to his. He nipped at your lower lip, deepening the kiss with a little smirk growing on his sly expression. “You taste even better than I thought.”
“Good to know you’d been thinking about me.” You smirked, speaking between collisions, arms slung behind his head—pulling him closer, bodies pressed together, never wanting to let go. It was at this moment in which he knew that you’d been what he’d needed. You were the person he’d wanted all this time. “Might’ve been thinking about you,” he rasped.
“In between all the fuck buddies, right?” You couldn’t help but joke with him, even now—the smirk playing on your lips was a playful rendition of his own, which now blossomed to a full smile, gracing his face and allowing you to see the whites of his teeth.
“Shut up.” He groaned, rolling his eyes and loosening his grip slightly. Once again finding your opening, you slid in with your best witticism yet.
“Make me,” and with that—he pulled you back in.
Afterwards, the door to Iwaizumi’s bedroom closed for good—only the two of you remaining behind it.
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Title: A Tale of Two Slaves (9/?)
Summary: “Soulmates don’t exist. Fate doesn’t exist. Everything is a choice.” At that moment, Levi could only watch as she made the choice for him.“
Reincarnation AU. Levi remembers everything from their past life. Hange doesn’t.
Other Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Link to cross-postings: AO3
The oval stretched out in front of him, much wider than his range of vision but Levi felt no need to look around him and take in the whole view. It was the largest oval in his city and having been one of the more active high jumpers the past five years, he had been there enough to memorize it inside and out.
That particular day, instead of being out there in the field doing warm up jumps like he had been for the past decade of his life, he was on the bleachers, a few seats away from the front. He was merely a part of the audience, an oddly surreal experience. For years, Levi had never given the audience a passing thought after all. His world during those few hours on the track had consisted of the bar he had to jump over, the jumper before him, his coach and teammates on the bench and maybe some the interviewers who would flock to him after the medal ceremony.
Although he had gone to that track so many times before, somehow it felt like he was experiencing it for the first time.
He was unprepared as well. Levi found himself pushing his hands farther into his hoodie huddling for whatever warmth it could afford him. Possibly it was the long days he had spent indoors that had made him unready for how cold mid autumn could actually be.
The past two weeks leading up to that particular night, Levi had not left the comforts of Hange's apartment much aside from for the occasional check up or regular therapy session. When he wasn't writing or making sense of new dreams, he spent most of his days catching up with schoolwork or trying to help around her apartment even with his injury.
With the long hours he had spent indoors, he was almost sedentary in comparison to the twice a day training and it was a drastic change. As he watched the other athletes warm up on the track, he was unable to fathom how he had survived long ago in light athletic wear. He started to wonder how much he had changed. If his knee wasn’t casted or buckling at the slightest weight, if he had a perfectly good knee just like a few weeks ago, would he have still been able to jump.
Was that sudden sensitivity to the cold he was feeling a product of his psyche or did his body just suddenly get weaker due to his long stint indoors?
To think I used to actually win these events. With the disbelief that came with that passing thought, Levi suddenly remembered why he had hesitated to join them in the first place. Everything from the atmosphere, to the warm up jumps found a way to hurt him. The few whispers he could hear from his place on the bleachers about the Ackerman kid, who had achieved a college record less than a year ago suddenly sidelined for life, were reminding him why exactly he had cooped himself up in the first place.
At first, he had attributed a huge chunk of that to the healing process, the writing process and the general lack of necessity to go out. At that moment, he was watching athletes do the jumps he knew how to perfectly execute yet was sure he would never be capable of doing again. At the same time, he was listening to whispers that could have been very much about him with the smatters of conversations on knee injuries and wasted talent.
He had looked towards Hange for comfort, an almost instinctive movement. Ironically, that movement had him rubbing more salt on his already reopened wounds. He had ended up watching Hange fall so easily to a state of a daydream and Levi did not need to look back at the oval to know why. She was watching the athletes go through the motions of the jumps.
He recognized that same look to be the one she had given Elijah and those athletes on her instagram feed. He would have given a lot to be able to go back to the Levi of a few weeks ago, the Levi who had been the subject of her hyper fixations. The inevitability of time had him hating himself a little more.
Levi cleared his throat in an attempt to swallow the lump that had settled there and willed himself to look back at the field. The temptation to space out was strong.
He had decided on watching the high jump event for a reason though and he was determined to make it worth it.
A Tale of Two Slaves
"Mike and Nanaba?” Levi repeated. The names flowed out of his mouth so smoothly so easily as if he had said those names many times before. Of course, he knew them. They were the subject of Hange’s case study years ago, the one he had read in preparation for meeting Hange.
“Mike Zacharius and Nanaba Briete,” Hange repeated. “Two friends from high school. They’re both participating in the high jump event so I thought of watching."
Mike and Nanaba. As Levi soon found out though the names weren’t cold to his tongue. They didn’t feel as stiff or professional despite their clear origins from an academic paper. It was almost second nature for Levi to attach faces to both of their names.
And that had been a breakthrough at that moment. For the past few days, he had been struggling to dream something different. Ever since Hange had given him a dream catcher, the dreams with Erwin and Hange had surprisingly been clearer and those scenes he had pictured had so easily flown from mind to paper, particularly his dreams to see the outside wall, his drive for atonement, his heroic sacrifice. It had also made him familiar with more subtle things like the long hours he had spent in the office, the amount of time he had spent joined to Erwin’s hip as his right hand man, and the trust he had put on him all the way until the end of his life.
He had squeezed what he had taken out of every memory and every dream and suddenly one day, he woke up to find himself completely intimate with that dream Erwin. Yet the story wasn’t complete, he just had to find inspiration elsewhere.
In an attempt to support him, Hange had been doing her part too to invite him out when she could.
She had suggested movies, shopping or dinner out. Levi could see behind it though and knew Hange would have preferred hiking, park hopping or working out. Not wanting to settle for bland ideas, they probably would have both slogged through, Levi declined all of them despite Hange’s insistence.
Ironically, her mention of plans to watch his college track and field event of all things had been an exception. "I'll come with you," Levi said without thinking.
Hange frowned in concern. “You sure?”
“Why? You don’t want me to come?”
Hange shook her head. “It’s not that…. I’m just surprised that you seemed a little too eager. I talk watching something like that might be torture for you.”
“I haven’t gone out in so long. I’m fine with anything at this rate.”
“We could start with a trip to the mall? Or we could go out for dinner?” Hange lightly suggested.
“I wanna get to know your friends too,” Levi said.
Hange raised one eyebrow at him as she eyed him a little too suspiciously. “You never seemed like the type to actually enjoy meeting new people.”
Levi avoided her gaze. If it were any other friends, he probably wouldn’t have cared enough to leave the comforts of Hange’s apartment. In fact, meeting his classmates and having face-to-face classes were a burden he was happy to avoid. Those names which Hange had mentioned, the faces that suddenly clicked in his brain, which were further confirmed by a quick google search had him all the more invested. “Nanaba and Mike seem like interesting people,” Levi finally admitted.
Her reaction was unexpected to say the least. Levi found himself practically jumping out of his seat in shock at the explosion of laughter that came out of your mouth. “Why the hell are you laughing?”
Eventually, her laughter did die down but Levi wasn’t counting the seconds until it did. He had been too busy enjoying the way her eyes crinkled and her nose wrinkled as she smiled. “Wait ‘til Nanaba and Mike hear this. The quiet antisocial guy who beat them out of first place every single fucking time is actually interested in getting to know them
“Wait. I went against them?”
“Aaaaand you don’t even remember.” Hange flailed her hands up exaggeratedly. “I should have known.” She shook her head. Her voice still had the remnants of the loud laughter of a while ago and she didn’t look like she would be getting rid of that playful demeanor anytime soon.
“And now you’re just making fun of me.
Hange wiped a tear from the side of her eye. “I’m sorry. I probably look so weird right now. I know I shouldn’t be acting like this.” As she put her hand down, she looked back up at him, her smile visibly wider than it was a second ago. “It just never dawned on me till now how weird it just feels. If I told my past self I’d be sharing an apartment with jumper extraordinaire Levi Ackerman, past Hange would have tried to slap some sense into me.”
Jumper extraordinaire Levi Ackerman. Somehow, Levi was recalling the way she had held his hands and stared at him, the first time he had laid eyes on her. I heard you’re the best one in the team… I’d love to see you in action. The glimmer in eyes and the excited tone in her voice that fluctuated between highs and lows with every syllable, it was the same as it had been then when she first called out to him.
Hange took a deep breath. “The tournaments were the only times Nanabe and Mike would visit this part of town so they’d invite me to watch every year…”
“And you watched it every year…” Levi didn’t need to confirm anything. It was all in her eyes.
As if she knew she had given it all away through her eyes, Hange quickly looked away. She had done nothing though to hide the pink in her cheeks. She probably couldn’t have done anything to hide it anyway. “When the super rookie Levi Ackerman scored an almost record breaking upset win…” Hange recounted so mechanically as if she were reading a headline. “I was in the crowd. And I never stopped following him since.”
And I never stopped following him since. The moment Hange said it, she dropped her shoulders to the side, so quickly and so eagerly, Levi wondered what kind of baggage she had been holding for her to look so free as she said those last words. His mind shifted elsewhere before he could ponder it any longer.
It was a long shot but Levi still found himself looking back, scrambling to recall his first every competition through lasting sensations from the cold breeze, the blinding lights and the cacophony of cheers mixed with announcers’ commentaries.
As if by some miracle, he remembered it. He remembered it as he mentally prepared for the most crucial jump. The bar was a good two meters up in the air. His legs were aching, his heartbeat was getting wilder. Before he jumped, he had glanced at the bleachers as the murmurs and cheers got stronger and consequently more difficult to ignore. On the bleachers, more specifically on the fifth row from the front, sat Hange. Her hair still as brown and untamed as always, her eyes held the same wonder it always had. And maybe a little surprise? That had been his first tournament after all.
He had only given her a passing glance then. Within a split second, she had blended with the scenery as he ran towards the bar. The jump that came quickly after was strong and exhilarating.
And as Levi landed on the cushion on the other side of the bar, welcoming explosions of gasps and wild cheers as he did, he couldn’t help but reflect on it.
Rookie Ackerman bags gold in the Regional Cup with record breaking height.
That first tournament jump had been life changing, inspiring. Possibly it was the jump that had paved the way to the years of victory that followed.
No sane athlete would have memorized the faces in the crowd. For him though, it felt criminal that he had only noticed it then as she admitted it to him herself.
She had been a part of that experience too.
A Tale of Two Slaves
Eventually, Levi did get tired of torturing himself. He knew the way to the barely used locker rooms in the building next to the oval and he seeked solace there. Somehow, he found it worth it to make a slight scene as he struggled to keep his balance and he maneuvered his crutches down the bleachers.
When he got to the empty locker room, with only the dark ceiling above him and silence, that made even the dripping of water deafening, he was able to forget the embarrassing and frustrating journey there. And within a few more minutes, he did forget the onslaught of emotion that had culminated into a wave of incomprehensible emotions, manifesting as demons in his head.
With a lack of stimuli to remind him of his reality, he was once again numb. And numbness tended to lead to dreaming. The old locker room was no place to fall asleep though and Levi found himself trying to focus on whatever faint stimuli could reach him as to stay rooted in his reality.
Faint cheers made their way into the dark room. Levi had watched more than enough jumps to know the cheers flowed with the movements, always at their loudest when the athlete is at their highest. Oddly enough, he had managed to drown out the cheers more easily when he was in the middle of them.
Although they were faint, they were still much louder and more rattling than Levi had ever experienced them to be. And the cheers did rattle him to the bone. His body shook every time the cheers reached their crescendo and he wondered if Hange was watching too. Was she screaming? He could imagine her cheers so easily and he found himself trying to pick it out among what could have been hundreds of other voices.
Her voice was unique, nostalgic, memorable. It should have been easy. But the cheers were too faint. Even in the silence, he found it difficult to split them into individual voices, let alone isolate one out of hundreds. He leaned back on the cold wall, slipped onto the floor and closed his eyes.
Levi had assumed it to have been a dream at first. The voice he had been raring to pick out among the crowd was right next to him. He willed himself not to open his eyes for fear that the voice might just disappear.
That small voice had opened up to sounds of steps then the brush of cloth on tiles. He felt a warm hand behind him, pulling him gently away from the wall and the warmth of something around him. Levi let out a cough, only then, when the cold was replace by warmth, did he realize how chilly the room actually was.
“You can really sleep anywhere huh?" Her voice had been too near, right next to his ear. Her breath tickled his ear and brushed past his neck. Even before he realized it, he had opened his eyes, Levi was already returning the subtle smile Hange had given him.
“What were you dreaming about?” It had become routine for Hange to ask that question. Levi couldn’t blame her. When he was at his worst, sometimes that was the only thing he was willing to talk about.
“Nothing. I wasn’t sleeping. I was just thinking,” Levi answered. “How are the results?”
Hange shrugged. “You saw it yourself. Elijah grabbed gold in the vertical jump. Mike silver…” She paused for a second.
“So none of the other jumpers after them got higher scores?”
“They still didn’t beat your record from last season.”
“I don’t need that reassurance,” Levi said. “This would have been my last season anyway. I’m gonna graduate, find a job, forget this sport then find out some other kid beat my record in a few years.”
“Why did you leave after Elijah cleared the 2.3 meter bar then?” Hange didn’t at all sound like she had wanted to provoke him. Levi was certain all she had wanted were answers.
“Why were you staring at Elijah like that when he jumped?” As he thought back to the final straw that had made him stand up and brave the stairs and the whispers from the crowd just so he could leave the field mid tournament, he realized exactly why. Hange hadn’t even noticed the way her eyes lit up at him. Somehow, that was enough to have Levi shaking as he saw the confusion in her eyes.
“Staring like what?”
“Your mouth was wide open and your eyes were stuck on him.”
“I just got a little excited I guess. When I see jumps that high, sometimes I feel like I’m flying myself,” Hange said. “Or I dunno, I’ve never flown before but it’s just so easy to get lost in it sometimes.”
“Did you feel that same way? When I jumped?” Used to jump. Regret weighed on him. As the seconds ticked as he waited for her answer, that regret gradually took over and pushed at his chest, making it more difficult to breath. It had been that one movement after all, that impulsive and reckless decision that had him there in that dark unused locker room instead of outside in the tournament.
It was his last season anyway. He had consoled himself so many times before. But it wasn’t the season and the career-ending injury that had him heavy hearted at that moment. Impending retirement in sports loomed for most college athletes, especially in their senior year. Levi had prepared himself for it already.
At first, it had been the loss of that one unique sensation, the blue sky above him, and the his body detached from the earth for that split second, the loss of that memorable and unique experience of having both air and gravity as his enemy as he flew through the air with the wind blowing through his face as if executing their own plans to stop him. When the dreams returned and when he had started to write them out, eventually the weight in his chest lightened, replaced by another one.
As he spent more time observing Hange and talking to her in between her thesis writing and his own writing, he noticed it fester slowly. Only when his chest lightened, set free from that other weight, did it start to make itself known.
Hange never stopped watching jumps, turns, tumbles, runs and spins. Sometimes, she would turn on the tv in the living room to some athletic meet. Sometimes, she’d just be scrolling through her timeline, liking whatever inhumane stunts an athlete was showing her at that moment. She had those same raised eyebrows, that same gaping mouth, those same dilated pupils and that same glimmer in the eyes that he wished was just the glare of the screen.
And I never stopped following him since. Had she looked at him with that same expression? That same exact expression she had given Elijah? Would there ever be away to look back at those moments, zoom into her and look for everything from the raised eyebrows, gaping mouth, dilated pupils and that glimmer in her eyes?
Did you look at me that same way? That was all he had wanted to ask. Hange wouldn’t have known though.
“Of course I did.” Hange answered. Levi could only wish it were true. Without seeing that same expression, he would never know.
“But I’ll never jump like that again. So I don’t think you’ll get that from me anymore.”
I can get it elsewhere. Levi had prepared his heart for that reply. He was at least ready enough not to lash out.
“Because you offer other things,” Hange said. “These stories about Captain Levi and Hange Zoe… Commander Erwin Smith? When we’re up late at night and you start talking about those contraptions that get us flying through the air like birds? I don’t know if it’s the way you describe it or if it’s the passion in your eyes but… it’s like I could have been flying too.”
“You were flying.” And Levi held on to the image so tightly, that the words flowed too naturally out of his mouth. If he hadn’t been staring at the blank ceiling above him, recalling easily how she had tumbled and turned so freely in the air, he probably would have been conscious about how much of a madman he had sounded like.
Hange didn’t seem to mind though. “Even if just in my own dreams, it would be nice.”
The dim room only made the transition from consciousness to unconsciousness a little easier. The coat over his shoulders and the warmth that it kept close to him didn’t help keep him awake either. His dim surroundings blurred into nothingness, the last two sensations he made out was the arm around his shoulder and the faint discomfort as he dropped his head onto what could have been a bony shoulder.
You were flying.
It was as if his dreams had heard the conversation of a while ago. Squad Leader Zoe, Commander Hange Zoe. Dreams of her came in snapshots, in crumbs that indulged all his five senses. The whizzing of cables, the explosion of gas, familiar yet distant screams of excitement, week old sweat.
Her greasy hair on his hands. Then Levi found himself on horseback, his and Hange’s faces were a little too close for comfort. It didn’t take much to remember why though.
She had said something about wanting to meet an abnormal titan and he was in the mood for jokes.
A Tale of Two Slaves
“Of all the years and tournaments you could have ditched, it had to be the tournament with my first ever golden medal performance.”
“Nanaba, I’ll make it up to you promise…”
“To think you’re the one who roped me into this sport in the first place…”
They had the whole taxi ride to start an argument. Levi was grateful at least the conversation only reached that topic when they were already in the elevator on the way to Hange’s apartment. Hange had prepared some hard drinks, some soft drinks, some chasers and a lot of water. He was sure that the argument with devolve into something a little less coherent and might actually fizzle out within an hour or so with the right cocktail mix.
He had gone through that same bout of adventure with his own teammates after all. Nanaba continued to talk her ear off while Mike and Hange cleared out the dining table. Levi sat on one of the chairs, making himself useful by opening up the bottles handed to him by Moblit.
“I’m gonna need something hard first. Imagining being awarded that gold medal then looking in the crowd for the person who inspired me to try high jumping in the first place.” Nanaba sat to Levi’s left pouring what could be a nauseating amount of gin into the cup and emptied it within seconds. “And lo and behold, it looks like you were hiding out with wonderboy here in one of the old locker rooms.” She turned to Levi. “So… What were you guys doing there?”
Oddly enough, Levi didn’t understand the question at first glance. It could have been interpreted as an innocent question. When he wasn’t taking into account the cat-like grin, the raised eyebrows and the wide-eyed gaze.
It was Moblit who confirmed her intention. He turned to Hange. “There isn’t anything between you and Levi though right?”
“No one needs to be in a relationship to do anything.” Mike added, begrudgingly wise words from the most quiet one in the room.
“Nothing really…” Hange sat next to Nanaba and poured her own glass of gin, mixing it with some soft drinks. “I just kept him company. And he fell asleep next to me.”
Nanaba turned to Levi, her cheeks much redder than they were a second ago. “You sure?” She cupped her hands over her mouth and whispered in a still very audible volume. “Blink twice if you need help.”
“I don’t remember much, I fell asleep.”
Everyone in the room jumped as Nanaba abruptly slammed her hand on the table. “And you just let your biggest fangirl get away with doing whatever she wanted with you huh?”
“Biggest… fangirl?” Levi asked.
Nanaba turned to Hange. “Don’t you have a folder of pictures of him on your phone?” She dove under the table. From where Levi sat he could only hear the frazzled protests of Hange.
“The pictures aren’t on my phone anymore!” Hange screamed.
“What pictures?” Levi asked, trying his best to ignore the slams and the sounds of struggle from below.
“We did go to all of your competitions.” Mike admitted. “They went for personal reasons… I went for my own research.”
Levi noted that Mike and Elijah tended to alternate second and third place between the both of them. According to Hange that is. He never looked beyond his own experiences and his own injury had made him all the more hesitant to research high jumping stats.
“That sounds reasonable.” Levi managed to say. Small talk had never been his forte. Especially when his conversation partner wasn’t leaving much opening to continue.
For a while they were both silent. “It’s a shame. You made the competition interesting. If this didn’t happen, you could have pushed the sport to new levels.”
“Accidents happen. Someone else will show up and do it,” Levi kept his voice toneless as if he were just rattling off a list of inevitable events. That probably was going to happen anyway. His current inebriated state just convinced him that it wasn’t worth pondering at that moment.
“Moblit! Keep my phone and Nanaba, just go the fuck to sleep already.” Hange’s tone and her face then that managed to be both cold and furious at the same time was terrifying. Maybe, because it was the first time he had ever seen her so angry.
“You’re one of my closest friends Hange…. Be happy…” Nanaba slurred.
Happy. Hange always seemed happy, barring that one sleepless night he did see her cry. At that moment though, Levi instinctively looked towards her, his brain somehow expecting to see a smile on her face.
Of course, with what happened just a while ago she wasn’t smiling. She pressed her phone onto Moblit’s hand and whispered something to him. She returned back and sat next to Levi, taking Nanaba’s seat of a while ago. “Well, I had pictures to be honest but just for a few months I guess? I mean I really liked your jumps and I wanted to keep them...”
“No. It’s nice to know I had a secret admirer.” No actually, Levi probably would have found it odd if it were anyone else. He was doing the equivalent of writing fanfiction about her and somehow, keeping a secret folder of photos of him seemed mild. Although she had mentioned deleting it, Levi found himself clinging to the hope that she might still have kept a few.
“Hange, Let me make it up to you,” A voice and a pair of arms came up from behind Hange and wrapped around both of their shoulders. Levi could smell the strong alcohol in them.
“Nanaba, I think you should go to sleep now…” Moblit said. He stood up and started to prepare one of the mattresses Hange had laid out on the side of the room.
“Make it up to me by going to sleep…” Hange mumbled visibly uncomfortable.
Nanaba ignored her. “Levi, could I ask you one favor?”
“What is it?” Levi asked, keeping his eyes fixed on the still half fall glass of tequila in front of him. He had only been taking only small and cautious sips after all.
“Could you kiss Hange?” Nanaba asked “At least, just a peck on the cheek?”
“Nanaba! Go. to sleep.”
Levi could hear the rattle of her chair and from his peripherals he could see Hange moving to stand up but before he could have even processed anything else, he felt a hand on his head, a slight push.
And within a split second, he felt wet lips, he tasted alcohol, he saw scenes and he heard voices.
Within another split second they were all gone.
Hange had gone red, he could see it in her cheekbones. She had her hand cupped to her mouth, her eyes wide with what could have been shock or embarrassment. As Levi felt the blood run through his cheeks and his incapacity to do anything but stare, he started to wonder what he had looked like.
“Weren’t you wondering how his lips tasted? During that one tournament?”
“That was a joke…” Hange said. She swallowed a lump on her throat and as she narrowed her eyes, Levi could see the beginnings of what could have been tears. Was it really a joke?
“Nanaba. Let’s get you to bed.” Mike appeared from behind Nanaba and guided her back to the mattress Moblit had prepared. He started whispering to Nanaba so slowly and gently, Levi almost admired him for his patience.
That exchange between Nanaba and Mike had only lasted a second. By the time Levi did look beside him, Hange was already gone and he could hear the door slam behind him.
Levi took a quick glance at both Moblit and Mike who were still trying to subdue an overly excited Nanaba before he stood up. Not bothering to even grab his crutches from the other side of the wall, he hobbled the few meter distance toward the door of her room.
“Hange?” Levi opened the door just wide enough to see it. She hadn’t locked the door at least.
“I still have the pictures on my phone.” She sounded apologetic. She sat at the foot of her bed, her face towards the ground. Levi could tell by the crack on her voice that she was in no mood to look up.
“The pictures of me?”
“I can delete them if you want. I know it’s creepy. I shouldn’t have taken so many during tournaments.”
“And you wanted to kiss me?”
Hange fell limply on the bed and looked up at the blank ceiling. She had looked like she was avoiding his gaze. “It was a weird passing thought. I mean, I know a lot of girls have those types of things but I guess it really is creepy when the person isn’t as big of a celebrity as boy groups or actors. But I’ve wanted to be an athlete since before I could remember. I wanted to jump, to see how it feels like flying through the air. And when I saw you jump, I swear you could have had wings on your back with how well you were able to control yourself up there. You made me feel like I could fly too and I guess I got a little obsessed and ended up thinking a lot of creepy shit. I know it’s weird and I sound like a stalker…”
“No it’s not. I still have the stories about you. I’m just as weird,” Levi looked towards the wall, a gesture of respect for Hange who looked like she was in no mood to look at him.
“But, you only started writing them after we met.”
“But the stories are so detailed, it’s embarrassing,” Levi said. “if I made you feel so strongly about this, you felt obsessed enough to sneak pictures. Just remember, you made me feel things too. And these things I felt, ended up making me write. And I’ve never written in my life.”
“How did I make you feel?”
“Like I could fly too.” His dreams could attest to the fact that he wasn’t lying. Levi chose that moment to look at her and their eyes locked even before he consciously tried to follow her gaze. She had lain on the bed, looking more relaxed than a second ago.
Hange scooched over. Levi noticed then with the slight movement that his right knee was starting to ache, having taken the load of all his body weight as he hobbled.
Her scooching over could have been a subtle movement more than anything but with his aching legs, Levi decided the risk was probably worth it. He approached the bed on the side Hange had opened up. “I thought of stuff I wanted to write... Nanaba and Mike were in those dreams too. For a time we would go out for drinks after a long day of training. Meat was hard to come by but sometimes, we would have the budget to blow on a plate of meat and we’d share it. Erwin would be there too. And sometimes, they would joke that we bickered like a married couple.”
“You really built your whole world huh? What inspired you to think that up this time? The alcohol? Meeting Mike and Nanaba? Having our heads bashed together?
The kiss? The visions of the split second chose to remind Levi of their existence at that particular moment. “The kiss?” The words rolled off his tongue so easily and so fluidly.
“You don’t have to call it a kiss if you don’t want to.” We didn’t decide to do it. So technically it isn’t right?”
Levi had wanted to argue. Hange’s denial of that kiss only made his memories clearer and the emotions tied to them much stronger.
That peck had been satisfying, euphoric. It was a cathartic release of pent up emotions. Yet at the same time it had only lasted a split second. In that silent room, on the bed next to Hange, he had enough of a breather to reflect and maybe articulate that particular gesture. His feelings were strong enough to at least convince him to keep it as is. “It’s a kiss,” he said.
The silence stretched for what could have been eternity. “It’s a kiss then,” Hange said. “Did it make you feel anything?”
“I liked it.” Levi kept it to those three words. If he gave his mouth and his emotions free reign, he might just say something he would regret.
“Did you see anything? Did it inspire you to write something else about Captain Levi and Commander Zoe?” It was just like Hange to pull those words out of his mouth anyway.
“If they weren’t constantly fighting for their lives, they might have ended up kissing.”
“And you’re not going to write a kissing scene?”
“They didn’t kiss.” Of course, they wouldn’t kiss during the war. They were fellow soldiers, subordinate and superior, it wouldn’t have been professional in the battlefield.
“Maybe after their relationship develops then.”
“It won’t develop.” The words came out automatically.
“Why not? What about after the war?” Hange suggested. Words like why always bring up more questions than answers and Levi found himself racking his brain for it.
The dreams and the memories or as Hange liked to call it, bouts of inspiration, came in images and scenes and sometimes pieces of information. From what he could tell, Hange and Levi had a strong bond and it would have only been natural that they had stayed close long after the war ended.
And a kiss probably wouldn’t have been too far off. But why didn’t they kiss? Why didn’t their relationship develop? Levi asked himself, as his mind caught up to the words he said.
Maybe because the war hadn't ended yet. But after that there should be potential to develop.
With time, Levi had started to realize a pattern to the dreams though. The answers to the questions came gradually. They came in meetings, conversations and dreams. If he waited patiently, if he just opened up, those questions would be answered right?
Before Levi even noticed it, he had settled on the bed next to her and had fallen asleep to those questions. His brain chose those moments in between the sleeping and waking world to go through the voices and visions that went through him in that split second kiss.
One day in the barracks, he had overheard three of his squad members talking.
“You know I’ve been working with the commander closely right?”
“After the meetings, Levi always stays in the room with her and every time I see them together. I can’t help but think, there might be something between them.”
“Maybe you’re just overanalyzing it. You do analyze a lot
“Hey, he was right about the titan shifters and their locations back in Shiganshina."
“We’re talking about romance here, not military intelligence. Besides, can you even imagine the captain and commander kissing?”
“Just because you can’t get a girl with your horse face.”
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The Skylark’s Song [2/4]
Fandom: Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
Characters: Hibari Kyoya, Kusakabe Tetsuya, Namimori Middle Disciplinary Committee, Fon (mentioned)
Warnings: PTSD, Mild Language, Violence
[A/N: Depiction of PTSD may not be accurate. I apologize if this bothers anyone.]
Word Count: 1.7k
Summary: My personal headcanons of the (pre-canon) experiences that made Hibari into the man that he is today. Part Two: the development of his commitment to discipline and explaining his apparent state of constant sleep deprivation.
[This may end up being a four-part story, lol. Or a three-part with a small extra... which I guess is also four parts. I hope you enjoy! xD]
Ever since that night, Hibari had never had a good night's rest.
Other than the week that he'd been in the hospital, woozy from the painkillers that had been constantly fed to him and barely aware of the world around him, he'd never slept for more than a few hours at any given time. At first, the nightmares--the memories--would wake him up in an empty house, screaming for his parents who were no longer there, and then he'd spend the rest of the night huddled in the corner, flinching at every shadow. For a long time, he feared that the men would return, but as time passed uneventfully, he grew more convinced that they didn't care. That they didn't think a mere child could be any danger to them. And they were probably right.
By all rights, he should have probably been taken away and moved to an orphanage, but a distant relative had been found who was willing to become his legal guardian. They'd spoken briefly on the phone, eventually coming to an agreement: since Hibari refused to leave his childhood home and Fon had special circumstances that made traveling and raising a child difficult, a housekeeper would be hired to watch over him, paid out of the fortune that he had inherited from his parents. Initially, she would come early in the morning every day and leave only when he was about to go to bed, but his growing preference for solitude and independence quickly asserted itself, so that she would eventually only come in the afternoon when he was at school, to clean and prepare his meals.
In school, his teachers also noticed a drastic change in his personality. Though he remained a good student, the previously outgoing and energetic child became withdrawn, appearing as though he was actively avoiding his classmates. Any attempts to speak with him outside of his assigned schoolwork were met with a stony wall of silence, and the many phone conversations that they had with his guardian did nothing to improve the situation.
In fact, the only activity in which Hibari demonstrated any initiative of his own was in his new studies of martial arts. Every evening found him at one dojo or another, practicing karate, boxing, kenjutsu, and a number of other combat arts with single-minded focus until he could barely drag himself back home. The physical pain was a welcome distraction, though it was short-lived as his body accustomed itself to the new routine.
His devotion to the arts and strict self-discipline meant that he quickly learned all that the instructors in Namimori could teach him. By the time he started middle school, he was no longer attending the dojos, instead practicing with masters that Fon would occasionally send to him while developing his own style. Hibari also began experimenting with weapons, discarding the sword and spear as impractical to carry and bare fists as too weak, before he eventually settled on his tonfa. The metal was hard enough to be difficult to deform, they were easily concealed, and simply adjusting the force could mean the difference between injury and death.
He still saw his parents every night. But at least he stopped screaming when he woke.
For the most part, his middle school years passed without anything of particular note until his third year, when he joined the disciplinary committee and a group of wannabe punks started to attend. In general, they were harmless, just mimicking the types of idiots that they saw in anime and manga and mouthing off out of the mistaken impression that it made them cool. But it irked Hibari to have to tell them off every morning for their appearances and watch them swagger around like thugs. When they finally started trying to extort their peers, however, he finally had a real excuse to step in.
"Hey, c'mon, you've got cash, right? We just need to borrow a couple thousand. We'll pay you back later, really!"
Hibari had been about to return home when he heard voices coming from behind the gym. If there was a response to Kusakabe, it was too quiet for him to hear, but he hoisted his bookbag higher over his shoulders as he went to investigate. As he turned the corner, the sight before him turned him cold with rage.
Kusakabe and his friends stood in a loose half-circle, a few of them holding wooden swords, leering at the student they had trapped against the wall, a young boy who looked absolutely terrified. His bookbag appeared to have been upended all over the ground, with books and pens scattered everywhere, and Kusakabe knelt before him, his hand outstretched expectantly. One of his friends stretched, cricking his neck threateningly, and noticed the prefect standing there, shaking. He smirked, reaching out to nudge their leader and jerking a thumb toward Hibari when Kusakabe looked up.
"Get rid of him," Kusakabe ordered, and three of his pack peeled away, advancing on Hibari and blocking his view.
"There's nothing to see here, Prefect-san. Get lost, unless you want what he's getting," one of them snapped, and Hibari's eyes fell to the ground as his hands clenched into trembling fists.
"Hey, look at him. You think he's gonna piss himself?" Another one laughed, jabbing his bokken toward Hibari, who took a step back, to more laughter. But in the next instant, Hibari was lunging forward, the gleam of metal in his hands knocking the wood aside and slamming the boy under the chin. Before the other two realized what was happening, they were splayed on the ground, clutching their heads as Hibari stood in front of them, breathing heavily. He staggered slightly, as if he were injured or drunk, as the rest of the gang advanced on him, Kusakabe in the lead, their victim forgotten. They were cautious now, now that they saw he could fight back, and when Hibari's head snapped up, even Kusakube seemed to hesitate. There was a gleam of madness and bloodlust in Hibari's normally flat black eyes, and his stance as he lifted his tonfa in front of his body telegraphed experience.
Even so, they couldn't back down, not from a fight that they had picked, so they approached the older boy carefully, trying to spread out to encircle him. He didn't make any move to stop them from doing so, just standing with an air of watchful patience, like a predator waiting to pounce. The fact that he was outnumbered didn't seem to bother him at all, and he kept his eyes fixed on Kusakabe. His unwavering gaze seemed to make the younger boy hesitate, but at the same time, foolish pride urged the delinquent forward.
After a heartbeat of uncertainty, they rushed in wildly, fists swinging and getting in each other's way more often than not. And in the midst of all of them, Hibari's weapons flashed like quicksilver, falling with precise blows upon heads and joints until he was the only one who remained standing among the carnage, like some ancient god of war. The few boys who weren't unconscious were groaning, clutching where they had been struck, and their victim had run away, leaving behind only a few pencils and a snapped ruler.
Languidly, Hibari walked over to the leader, nudging Kusakabe under the chin with his foot to make sure he had the boy's attention.
"Try this again, and I'll break your bones. A third time, and I'll bite you to death. Do you understand?"
It wasn't a threat, but a simple statement of fact, delivered in a flat tone that left no room for discussion. He waited for Kusakabe to nod, then turned around and walked away, stepping over the bodies that littered the ground.
From his experiences with hot-blooded people, Hibari didn't expect things to just end there, but nothing could have surprised him more when he arrived at school the next day. The moment he stepped inside the gates, he was greeted by a shout of "Good morning, boss!" and he turned to see Kusakabe and his hoodlums bowing to him.
Hibari watched warily as Kusakabe approached him, smiling while sporting a black eye.
"Hibari-san, you're strong, and you've earned our respect. Please feel free to use us however you want," Kusakabe addressed him formally, bowing again. Some of the other students were staring at them, wide-eyed, and Hibari shoved the punk away with one hand.
"I'm not strong. You're just weak," he snapped. "That's why you just crowd together with the others. It makes me sick."
But his words didn't seem to upset the other boy, who deferentially took a step back to give Hibari the personal space that he clearly wanted. However, for the rest of the day, they hung in small groups at the corners of Hibari's vision whenever he wasn't in his classroom, following him around like a pack of devoted dogs. It was irritating, and when they began to follow him home after school, he snapped again, beating them all thoroughly, even though they didn't even try to fight back.
Gradually, though, Hibari noticed that their one-sided admiration seemed to be imposing better order on his beloved school. Small incidents were quickly straightened out without his interference, and for the most part, the gang stayed out of his way. So he tolerated their existences so long as they avoided grouping up in front of him, using them as yet another tool to protect the discipline at Namimori Middle School and in town as a whole. He never dealt with any of them directly except for Kusakabe, on the rare occasions that he had to give them orders; even so, he kept a close eye on them to ensure that they didn't overstep their bounds.
His parents had loved the town, and so did he. Even though they had been betrayed, it was only because the authorities had all been weak: afraid of violence, dazzled by money, grasping for power, or any number of other reasons. Although Hibari intended to control them himself through the same methods, he had no intention of unleashing another pack of animals that would cause even more problems for others.
And on the day that he finally finished his compulsory education, he set out to settle the score.
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Never Alone by @singmetothesun
Summary: Global Pandemic of 2060 and Alan is forced to quarantine after contracting the virus on a trip to L.A. His family remind him that he doesn’t have to go through it without help. Inspired by misssquidtracy’s Tumblr post and written for IR Relief.
Word count: 4700 words
Notes: This was inspired by @misssquidtracy’s “A note for the ‘Fam” tumblr post. Written using @tsarinatorment’s IR Relief prompts of light in the darkness, never alone, and family hug. Dedicated to the Thunderfam.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Thunderbirds nor any other references you may recognise.
* * *
“Hey, Alan, how’re you feeling?”
Alan yawned as he looked up from his video game, his eldest brother appearing on the holo unit. “Oh, hey, Scott. Yeah!” He yawned again, rubbing a hand over his eyes. “I’m good.”
“It’s three in the afternoon, are you still in bed?”
Another yawn. “Yeah! I’m stuck in quarantine, bro, I can’t exactly go exploring.”
“Alan, you live on a tropical island in the middle of the ocean and yet you always find something to do. It’s important.”
Alan frowned. He was only in this situation because of very unlucky timing. It wasn’t his fault his comm went off with a warning that he’d been exposed to the latest viral threat to humanity and he’d been immediately escorted from LAX airport to this hotel. They’d taken his details, assigned him a room, told him to stay put and to use the holo unit for all of his needs. So here he was.
He swigged some orange juice. “I am doing something. I’m enjoying the room service,” he answered with a belch, “and playing games.”
Scott hummed in disapproval. “Sleeping until past noon? No schoolwork? No workout sessions? Alan, you can’t just stay in bed the entire time.”
“You’re such a buzzkill, Scott, it’s only for two weeks.”
“Two weeks is a long time to be stuck in one room.”
“Hey, I’m an astronaut!”
Scott raised his eyebrows. “You’re not in space.”
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” Alan asked, straining with the controller as he battled a boss to end the level.
“Do what you do at home. In the best way you can, given the circumstances. Routine, Alan. Else by day five, you’ll be going stir crazy. Trust me, I know.”
Alan screwed up his face as he shot his brother a look that showed him how he felt about that. But Scott didn’t relent, and the youngest Tracy sighed, paused and quit his video game, putting the controller down. Flopping back against the pillows, he reached for his orange juice and cradled it in his hands.
“So, what do I do?” he asked in a dejected voice.
“Have you done the symptoms check yet?”
Alan hung his head. Scott would already know the answer because John would also know. “No.”
“You need to, sprout, how are we gonna know you’re not sick if you’re not checking? Can you do that now?”
“Yeah,” he said, pressing the button on the nightstand that activated a scanner. It took just seconds before a hologram of his vitals showed up. He also knew Thunderbird 5 would be receiving the readouts as well. “See, all fine.”
“Good. Now go shower and try and stay out of bed. Do something productive, like your schoolwork, and make sure you keep a regular meal schedule, then by all means, have some fun. I’ll check back in later, but you know you can call any of us at any time, right?”
He nodded. “Thanks, Scott.”
Scott disappeared and he didn’t move for several seconds, leaning his head back and staring up at the blank white ceiling. With a huff, he got himself out of the bed, left a random channel playing on the holo and made his way to the bathroom. After all, in a hotel no one could scream at him for using up all the hot water, even if that was just a joke.
Running out of free hot water in 2060? You’d have to be older than Grandma.
* * *
“Not now, Virg, I’m trying to solve this equation.”
“Well, that’s new. You need any help?”
“Two hours of homework in the morning and I can get it over and done with. Ooh, that reminds me, I should order my lunch.”
“You sound like you have things in hand.”
Alan moved away from the holo on the desk to the one on the nightstand that belonged to the hotel, activating it and choosing his choice of meal for lunch. Tomato soup, followed by a chicken sandwich and salad, with a slice of cheesecake. “Well, yesterday didn’t go very well, I spent most of the whole day in bed. Scott wasn’t very happy.”
“If anyone knows about keeping a routine in confinement, it’s Scott.”
“Doesn’t matter. So, walk me through what you’ve been up to so far.”
“I got a wake-up alarm for seven, tried to do some sit-ups on the floor but it felt too weird, and I’m certainly not jogging on the spot for an hour. Took a shower, ordered and ate breakfast-”
“What did you have?”
“Nice choice, bro! I’m jealous, Grandma charred our bacon sandwiches.”
He chuckled. “Thanks, then I found a background noise channel on the holo and sat down to do my homework.”
“So, what you doing this afternoon?”
He shrugged. “Maybe watch a movie.”
“You know, the hotel could probably bring you some gym equipment if you asked. If you’re missing your runs, I don’t see why you can’t ask for one of those self-assembling treadmills. They have to give you your food and take your garbage, so they have a safe delivery system.”
“Huh. I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Exercise is good for endorphins, Alan, gets your blood pumping which is pretty important if you’re just stuck in that room for the next fortnight.”
“12 days now.”
“It can help elevate your mood and also help regulate your sleep. How much did you get last night?”
“A couple of hours.”
“We can work on that.” Virgil looked off to his right. “F-A-B. I gotta gear up, Al, looks like we’re heading out.”
“Stay safe,” Alan said. “And thanks, Virg.”
“Anytime, bro. You know where we are, right?”
“Yeah,” he said with a smile.
“I’m sure John can update you on the mission. Catch you later.”
The holo rang off and Alan took a sip of his soda, before bringing back up his homework assignment. He didn’t get back to it immediately, though, instead leaving it open on the desk as an open reminder to finish it.
Thinking about what his brother had said, Alan headed back over to the nightstand and opened up the holo unit again, beginning to scroll through all the different features offered by the hotel.
There were the standard options you would expect, the food and drink menus, laundry, wake-up calls, and toiletries. Then, there were extras as he delved deeper, much more specialised for the current situation. There were indeed some exercise options available, from weights and ready-to-view videos to yoga mats and music tracks.
Arguably the best feature was a setting that changed the ceiling, and he spent a good quarter of an hour flicking through the options, eventually settling on one with bright coloured stripes. He’d save the space one for bedtime.
There was even a panic button for the nearest hospital on there. Alan prayed he wouldn’t have to use that one. While he may be positive for the virus after the test on admission to the hotel, he didn’t actually seem to have any symptoms. Small mercies he supposed. To be stuck here, struggling to breathe and breaking out in rashes and fever, all alone, would’ve been far from enjoyable. It made him ache for his family.
With a swipe of his hand, he filed a request for a treadmill and a gym mat just as his lunch arrived. Sitting down to eat, he let his mind reboot itself ready to solve the last equation on his math homework.
* * *
Alan had just gotten out of the shower when another call came through. Wrapping himself up in the fluffy bathrobe, delivered to his room courtesy of the hotel, he headed to the desk where he took a gulp from the waiting can.
“What are you drinking?”
He belched loudly, thumping his chest. “Soda.”
“Alan! It’s eight in the morning! What did you have for breakfast?”
“I’m in quarantine, John! Scott and Virgil have already got me doing things every day, surely, I’m allowed to eat and drink what I want, I deserve it!”
“They don’t have you just doing things, Alan, they want to make sure you’re managing because they care about you, as do I.”
Alan folded his arms. “Oh, so what, you’re now going to dictate to me what I can and can’t eat?”
“No! I just care about you maintaining your vitamins while you’re stuck in one room for two weeks.”
“But we eat loads of junk at home.”
“I’m not saying you can’t eat junk, Alan – some of the time. I’m saying you shouldn’t be drinking soda at eight in the morning. Have you been drinking water at all?”
Alan contemplated for a second then deflated. “I- No.”
“Not even for your runs?”
He had only had the treadmill for barely more than a day, but he could see John’s point. “Okay, when you put it like that-”
“Can you drink some water now?”
“I do know that there’s a large sign in the bathroom saying it’s not drinking water.”
“Then how are you brushing your teeth?”
He avoided his brother’s gaze. “Umm-”
“Fine, fine! I’ll order some bottles of water.”
“Already done,” John dismissed, and Alan raised an eyebrow.
“You hacked their system?”
“To get me some water?”
“Yes. Dehydration isn’t a laughing matter, Alan. You’re already at risk of getting sick, no need to give the virus easier access if you’re just a sitting duck from not looking after yourself.”
Alan scrunched up his face. “Nice, thanks for that.”
“Also,” John said, “some of your favourite fast food for dinner. You can order your own lunch. Some snacks wouldn’t hurt either, you know, fruits, veg, nuts. And, of course, dessert. Never forget dessert.”
“What happened to not eating junk?”
His brother looked affronted. “Dessert is not junk. Especially when you’re combining it with a meal. A Tracy appetite needs to be thoroughly satiated. Just don’t have soda at this time of the day, or late at night.”
“Make sure you call one of us if you need anything.
“Yeah, yeah, I know.”
* * *
Gordon shrieked and threw his arms high into the air. “Haha, YES! I win!”
“C’mon, that was a lucky shot,” Alan protested, slumping. “You’re supposed to only be good at the swimming.” He and Gordon had spent three hours gaming, Alan having completed his morning routine in record time, even his homework, and so he’d been glad of the company when Gordon commed.
He watched as his brother inhaled a fistful of popcorn. “So, how are you?”
Alan made a face. “Just doing the same old stuff day-in day-out. I mean, it’s a good way to start off the day, you know, but then I’m just a bit stuck. At least I’m not sick. I might have what’s going around but I don’t seem to have it. That’s a plus, but then why do I have to stay here?”
“That makes you a carrier, little brother. You’re still just as dangerous to everyone else, I’m afraid.”
“Great, who doesn’t love spending day after day in bed.”
“Well, if anyone knows how shit staying in bed is, it’s me.”
“Oh, uh. Sorry, Gords.”
His brother shrugged. “Don’t sweat it. My point is that it’s a tough process. Being on your own for a long time would turn anyone a bit mental, except John but he’s always the exception there.” He sighed deeply, fixing Alan with a piercing, searching stare. “Alan, are you okay?”
Alan blanched. “You know I am. I have to scan myself every day as proof.”
“I mean up here.” Gordon tapped his head.
“I don’t have a headache. I’m drinking water now, see!” He showed off the nearest water bottle. “I think John ordered me enough for a year.”
“Alan, stop it.”
He flinched at his brother’s harsh tone. It wasn’t normally directed his way, not in such a serious manner anyway. “What?”
“You’re stuck in that hotel room all on your own, bro. I’m asking you if you’re okay!”
There were a few beats of silence as Alan grasped what Gordon was getting at. Gordon started speaking before he got there.
“It’s okay to admit you’re not doing well, you know. Don’t hide it. In fact, the worst thing you can do is ignore it and pretend like everything is fine.”
Alan didn’t say anything, ignoring Gordon’s eyes. His brother took that as an opportunity to continue.
“You don’t have to have everything all put together just because you think that’s what we want to see. We’re here for you, little brother, you know? You can talk about how bad you’re feeling, because I know you’re feeling awful. A Tracy doesn’t do trapped.”
He took a long, steadying breath, and it was like his body lined up with his brain and he could feel the weight on his chest. “I guess – I guess I didn’t even realise,” Alan mumbled.
“Alan, you haven’t called anyone.”
“Yes I hav-”
“No, you haven’t. We’ve called you. You haven’t reached out to anyone. Have you even called your friends who you were with before this?”
“I- No.” He’d been purposely avoiding the group chat, ashamed of ending up quarantined while trying to travel home.
He’d met up with some school and gamer friends in California for a week. They’d stayed at Charlie’s house, who had an entire floor of her family’s six-storey house full of the newest and best gaming software, thanks to her being a beta tester. It had been a blast, not having to listen out for a rescue call either.
The Tracy’s weren’t the type to ignore the law just because they were rich. If he hadn’t been allowed to travel, Alan wouldn’t have left the island. Scott barely allowed him to go to California as it was.
2060 technology, with a bit of Brains’ added genius, allowed for instantaneous warning of exposure to foreign bodies from his comm, meaning that despite the global pandemic, life could continue pretty much as normal. When exposed, their comm would chime, as Alan’s had done, and safe quarantine could be waited out before symptoms even showed. If the worst case did happen and the exposed person did become sick, they were closely monitored by remote scans and safely delivered to the nearest hospital if necessary.
“Why not?” Gordon asked. “They’re your friends. I’m sure they’d want to know you’re okay.”
Alan shrugged. “It didn’t seem like a big deal.”
“I just didn’t want to bother them, I guess. We just spent the whole week together and now I’m isolated for the next two, a bit unfair of me to ask them to spare more time for me.”
“Alan, you need people more than ever right now.” He sat up straighter, folding his arms. “Look, I’m not hanging up until you talk to me. Properly. And don’t you dare try and hang up on me ‘cause I can get John to lock you out of the holo unit.”
Alan sighed. “I’m not good with loneliness.”
“So why are you pushing people away? Normally we can’t get you to shut up.”
“I don’t know, okay!”
“Send a message to your friends, right now.”
“Alan! Now! Come on, let them at least know you’re alive.”
“Fine, fine!” He made a point of bringing up the display on the holo and his friends’ group chat sprang into life, most of the messages asking after Alan. Gordon was smirking in utter triumph.
“See! Now stop being such a dumbass and reply to them.”
Alan glared at him but did as he was told. The chat flowed back into life again and arrangements were made to call each other later that evening. When he finished, Gordon was smiling proudly at him.
“How about we watch some Buddy & Ellie?”
Alan smiled back. As much as he might loathe Gordon’s obsession with the show and the two explorers, he appreciated his brother was trying to make sure Alan felt included, letting him know he wasn’t alone.
* * *
The eighth day of isolation found Alan lying in bed, feeling very, very down. He wasn’t sick, the symptoms checker proved as much, he just felt useless.
He’d given up on his morning routine after slipping on the bathroom floor and now had a bruised hip for show, deciding instead to skip breakfast and stick on a tv show that he wasn’t even paying attention to. Today was perhaps a day for consuming mindless junk.
He thought over what Gordon had said to him yesterday. He knew his family would always be there for him, of course he knew that there was never any question. It was one of those funny things. If he was at home, back on the island, or on a rescue out in deep space, he knew he wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to any of his brothers, Kayo, Grandma, or even Brains.
But he wasn’t home, and apparently his brain was just not using its usual coping mechanisms.
Sitting up, he made a decision. It was just past 10am, which made it early morning the following day on the island and he figured at least someone would be up.
Grandma brandished some silverware at him. “Now, young man, care to explain to me why it has taken you a whole eight days to call me? That’s half your isolation period, Alan!”
“I’ve been worried sick about you, we all have, and you decide to go radio silent on us? What were you thinking?”
“You’re much better at this when you’re deep in space on a rescue. Don’t you know how worried I’ve been for you?”
“GRANDMA!” he yelled, and she stopped. He immediately looked down at his lap, feeling sheepish and absolutely not imagining Scott cuffing him over the head. He wiped a hand over his face.
“Alan, honey, look at me.”
Surprised at her quiet voice, Alan obeyed.
“I’m sorry. Talk to me, Alan.”
When he didn’t reply she spoke again. “Do you need me to get anyone else?”
He nodded. “Maybe Scott. Please? But you can be here too.”
“Okay.” He watched as she commed John to get Scott to come up to the den. John asked if everything was okay and he smiled, nodding. It would be.
“Grandma, what’s going on? John seemed to think that- Alan!” Scott came into view and Alan waved lamely at him.
“Alan decided to call us today,” Grandma said.
Scott smiled, before giving Alan his best sweeping smother hen look, like he was trying to read his mind. Given Alan was still in his pajamas and probably looking as miserable as he felt, it probably told Scott enough.
Alan took a deep breath. “I suck at everything today. I haven’t even done anything.”
“Have you eaten yet?”
“What part of ‘I haven’t done anything’ do you not understand?” he grumbled.
“Grandma, it’s okay,” Scott mediated.
“You told me to keep doing things every day and I have, I swear I have, but today I just can’t and I don’t know-”
Scott held up his hands. “Allie, easy, okay? You with me?”
“Yeah,” he said, catching his breath and sounding very much like a child who’d lost their favourite toy.
“Now, stop stressing yourself out. If you can’t do anything today, then that’s absolutely fine!”
“But you said-”
“I wanted you to try and keep to a routine as much as possible, Alan, to keep you from being bored and sad. That never meant you weren’t allowed days where you do nothing. Sometimes it’s what we all need to recharge.”
“Have you ever thought about listening to your own advice, Scott?” Grandma remarked and Scott shot her a look. “He’s right though, honey. When I was your brother’s age, we had our own Global Pandemic.”
“The 2020s one? That was always a fun discussion in World History.”
“Yep. The whole world shut down and nobody could go anywhere, and we had to wear masks all the time when leaving the house. No instant checking either, you’d have to either wait until symptoms showed and even then, a diagnostic test could take days, even a week. The death rate was terrifying.”
“That sounds horrible,” Alan said. “Wait, weren’t you a doctor?”
“That’s right. Your father was just a boy and while your grandpa would be working the farm, I’d be constantly on call at the hospital because we were so overrun.”
Scott put an arm around her. “That decade is probably one your generation won’t ever forget, hey, Grandma.”
Alan frowned. “Wasn’t that the time one of the last Presidents staged their own coup?”
“And got impeached twice if I remember,” Scott added. “Add the Coronavirus Pandemic to that and it was the worst time of the twenty-first century before the Global Conflict.”
“Technology has certainly come along,” said Grandma. “Even if I can’t use any of it.”
The conversation came to a natural end but neither Scott nor Grandma pushed him, but Alan had called them for a reason. He took another deep breath.
“I’m not having a good day.”
“That’s okay, Alan, it happens to all of us,” Scott reassured. “Don’t feel guilty about it. Take it as you need to but try and stay hydrated at least. What do you normally like to do when you feel bad?”
“Maybe game, eat lots of snacks, watch my favourite movies.”
“You up for doing any of those?”
Alan nodded. “Watching films is probably all I’m good for.”
“Do you have a bath or shower in your bathroom?” Grandma asked.
“Uh, both?” Alan replied, caught off guard.
“Trust me, kid, soak in a long hot bath with a movie, maybe some snacks. It works wonders.”
“I’m sure we can handle snacks,” Scott said, immediately opening a channel with John. “Hey, John, you think you could be Alan’s waiter for the day?”
John looked at Alan. “It worked before.”
Alan chuckled. “Yeah, I think I’ve got enough water to supply all of L.A. for a week.”
“I don’t want you to feel like you’re being spied on,” Scott said slowly, “but do you want to keep open comms with John and the island for the rest of the day? That way you just have to yell for one of us if you need anything and we can just have you hanging around.”
Alan nodded, already feeling a lot better. “Please, I think I need that today. I miss you guys.”
“We miss you more, Allie. You already know you’re getting all the hugs when we get you out of there.”
“Thanks,” he said, rolling his eyes with a smile. Scott, Grandma, and John were all looking at him with that look he knew oh so well. Safety and comfort and love. The wordless promise that he wasn’t alone, that he was protected.
His family were a light in the darkness.
As they left him to it, though he could still hear the faint sounds of island activity as everyone went about their day, he shuffled himself out of his bed and headed to the bathroom.
After a few attempts of fiddling with the controls on the wall, at one point accidentally starting the shower rather than the bath, he eventually managed to ready himself a glorious looking bubbly bath.
Heading back out he saw that a huge selection of food and drink had been delivered through the hatch next to the door. Enough for a feast, and more than enough to get Alan through the horrible day. Grinning and yelling a thank you to John at the holo, he set about getting everything ready.
* * *
“Another gif, Alan?”
Kayo didn’t break rhythm, continuing her fluid movements as if she hadn’t been disturbed. “How many hours a day do you spend on that holo unit? Or your games console?”
Alan shrugged. “What else do I do with all the spare time I have? I’ll be back home in three days.”
“Anything but screen time, maybe? What are you doing now?”
“Swiping through social media.”
“I just don’t see the appeal.”
“I’ve finished all my homework, Kayo, I’ve exhausted all of the movie and tv show options, and I’m even bored of gaming! No! No, I’m not, but I don’t fancy it today.”
“Sounds like you need something new to do.”
“Where’s the fun in that when I can swipe my way through social media for the rest of the day?”
She did stop her movements this time. “Alan, what do you get out of social media?”
“What do you mean?”
“Watching other people’s lives? How does that make you feel happy?”
He shrugged. “I dunno, it just does. People can post hilarious things, it’s fun.”
“But it’s not real. People project what they think we want to see.”
“Yes, it is. Like that one of Hayley and Jason, Gordon’s friends, ziplining through the Grand Canyon and Jason vomits. Classic!”
“Why do you even have Gordon’s friends on social media?”
“Okay, stop right there. Get up, come on, off the bed.”
Alan just blinked.
“Okay, fine, I’m doing it! What are you making me do?”
“Endless swiping on social media does nothing for your self-esteem, and especially in your current position, it only serves to make you feel more alone and inadequate. You’re more than that. Now, Tai Chi offers strength and a balance between the mind, body, and spirit. It’s a martial art, thought it doesn’t appear so. Most importantly it’s slow and smooth, requiring patience and control.”
Kayo talked him through several moves, emphasizing the flow of energy between one move and the next, maintaining a rhythm of breathing, and not getting distracted.
“This is like element bending!”
Kayo rolled her eyes. “A crude way to look at it, but if it helps you focus that can only be a good thing.”
“I’m a Pisces so does that mean I’d be a waterbender?”
“I don’t think that’s how it works, Alan. Strictly speaking waterbending is the closest to Tai Chi, concentrating on the flow of energy.”
“I could see you as a firebender.”
“Alan, you’re supposed to be silent.”
“Oh yeah, sorry.”
“Besides, I would obviously be the Avatar.”
* * *
Alan followed Scott into the den with a big wide grin on his face. It was great to be home, and even greater to see all of his family there waiting for him.
“There he is, our little virus!” Gordon yelled happily. Alan pulled a face. It looked like that name was gonna stick for a while.
“I’m all clear, Gords. They wouldn’t have let me leave otherwise.” Gordon immediately pulled him in for a noogie and Alan yelped, shoving him off.
“Good to have you back, Alan,” John said, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Alan beamed. “Can’t wait to get back into space!”
Kayo punched him lightly on the arm. “Still got a big head, I see. More Tai Chi tomorrow?”
“Come here, Alan,” Grandma said, ushering him in for a tight hug. “We’re all very proud of you.”
“For staying in a hotel for two weeks?”
“For being a Tracy,” Scott said, moving in and stealing Alan away from Grandma when he was released. “It can’t have been easy, but you saw it through.”
“I didn’t have much of a choice.”
“Family hug!” Virgil called, holding out his arms.
They all laughed as they bunched and huddled together in a tight circle, Alan getting well and truly sandwiched, but he knew there was no place in the world he’d rather be. He looked around at them all.
“Thank you, all of you, for everything. I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without you. I know I never got sick, but still.”
“Always remember, Alan, you never have to go through anything alone.”
“I know, I have you guys.” He grinned. “Hey, did somebody order cake?”
* * *
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