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#I unconsciously start swaying to the beat every time I hear it
disco-descent · a year ago
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music to wiggle stim to
music to sway to the beat to
music to gently bop to the beat of
music to headbang to
music to fucking VIBE to
music to grove to (holy SHIT that solo)
music to tap stim to
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kleohoneyao3 · 5 months ago
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depths II
Pairing: Stucky x Reader
Word Count: 4k
Summary: you’re taken and brought to a place that shouldn't even exist with people who speak an unfamiliar language. You can make out only two words - wife and auction.
Warnings: 18+, no minors, kidnapping, non-con drug use, bride auction, alternate universe, inner conflict, Stockholm Syndrome, mentions of war, magic, fantasy 
*i made the moodpboard but images are all from Google*
MASTERLIST
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You were definitely underground. As you got further away, the walls got rougher and the passages got tighter. The air was warm and clammy and you sucked in gulps of it greedily.
As you rounded a corner, the reason for the stuffy air became apparent. There was a length of cloth handing from the ceiling and Meridith lifted it. A plume of hot air air mist hit you in the face and it took a moment for it to clear.
“Hot springs?” You blinked. 
There were several pools connecting to one large one in the centre of the room. A nook in one of the walls contained a heap of towels and another that contained containers of some kind of liquid. The water was startlingly blue and there seemed to be some kind of light radiating up through it. 
Several torches were held up along the wall and you were surprised to see you were alone. You took a good look around. The only exit was the one you were currently standing in.
Meridith patted your shoulder. “You will be allowed some time to wash. Alone.”
You sucked in a breath. “Okay.” 
Meridith helped you lift the gown off over your head. She left you another, similar to the ones you’d been wearing during your time in the cell. You watched as she walked out, letting the curtain drop back into place.
For a moment you stood still. You waited another few minutes before creeping back over to the entrance and tentatively lifting the curtain. A guard stood directly in front of it and you gasped as the curtain dusted the back of her knees. You let go and scrambled back. 
Even though they had been nothing but polite, you saw the way they held themselves. There was no doubt in your mind that they would take you down if they had to. You couldn’t see weapons on them but that wasn’t to say they didn’t have any.
It felt strange to be alone. You couldn’t help but feel like you weren’t, like something was still there with you. Something other than the guard. The torches along the walls flickered and prompted you to turn away from the entrance.
Curling your arms around yourself, you stepped up to the biggest pool. You dipped your toe into the waters and found them pleasantly hot. With a shudder, you sat down on the edge of the pool and pushed yourself in.
It was your first proper wash in over a month but the experience was tainted. You had no idea what would come after, but all that talk of brides and beautiful gowns had given you a good idea.
You submerged yourself completely in the water, kicking down to touch the bottom. The bottom of it wasn’t hard, like you had expected, but soft. You sucked in a mouthful of water as it suddenly started to glow. Light flared up in the places your hands and feet had touched and you shot up to the top, coughing up water when you surfaced. 
You rubbed your fingers together. There was a slimy kind of substance on them, and you could feel the same stuff between your toes. It felt so soft and it glowed. 
There was more light now. It had felt like moss, and you were sure you’d heard of moss that glowed in the dark before. You frowned. You hadn’t known it glowed this brightly. 
You giggled and slapped your hand over your mouth, your smile fading. This wasn’t a time for laughing. You should be scared - you were scared, but the more you saw of this place, the more intrigued you found yourself. 
There was a sudden noise. You wouldn’t have heard it if it wasn’t so silent, save for the soft trickling of water. It was a soft ‘pop’, like when your eardrums popped just before take off. A slight change in the air.
There, on the side where you had gotten in, was a wash cloth and a bottle of some kind of soap. Your lips parted and you looked back toward the curtain, expecting to see it swaying. It was eerily still.
“Hello?” You called. 
There was no reply but you could hear the guard shuffling outside. You reached out and grabbed the soap, popping open the top and inhaling. It smelled like fresh flowers. You picked up the cloth and dribbled some on before running it over your arms and upper chest.
Once you’d washed it off, you sat up on the edge and began to clean your legs. Fear made it hard to enjoy it but you were glad to be properly clean. 
You touched your hair and winced. It felt dry and tangled. “I wish I had some shampoo and conditioner,” you mourned, watching water trickle down your thighs and back into the pool.
Pop.
Your heart thumped as you whipped your head to the side, expecting to see Meridith creeping in to give you what you’d asked for. The air was unnatural still and you could hear your heard beating in your ears.
Meridith was nowhere in sight, but there was two more containers in the same spot that the cloth and body wash had been in. 
You pushed yourself back into the water and away from the edge. “Hello?” You called again, hoping for an answer.
The curtain stirred as the guard peeked her head in. “Are you okay?”
“Did you put that in here?” You pointed towards the bottles of what you assumed were shampoo and conditioner. 
The guard seemed confused. “No.”
The room seemed alive. You thought back to all those times the torches had flickered along the wall outside your cell. Had there been a breeze? You couldn’t remember. Were you closer to the surface than you’d thought?
“Who did?” You said slowly, unsure if the guard was understanding everything you were saying. “How?”
The guard shrugged. “You ask, they give.”
She dropped the curtain back into place and left you alone. You blinked at the spot where she had just been. Slowly you turned, searching the room for whoever ‘they’ were. It was entirely empty, apart from yourself. 
You didn’t understand. Maybe there was a language barrier? The guards had always been the ones to bring you things. They had probably brought those in when you weren’t paying attention. 
You released a shaky breath, rubbing your damp palms over your face. You reached for the bottles and let your mind switch off. 
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Meridith returned not long after you’d rinsed your hair. You towelled yourself off and she presented you with a bottle of sweet smelling oil. 
You worked it into your legs, arms and stomach. Meridith stood just outside the entrance and you could hear low voices. You tried to listen but they were in that language they all spoke, the one that sounded ancient and complicated.
You gritted your teeth and capped the bottle of oil. Going along with it was the most difficult thing you had ever done in your life. You wanted to yell and hit and throw things. But you had no doubt that doing those things would put you right back in your cell.
Would that be better? To be in the cell? Would they keep you there forever? You had no idea. You didn’t know anything and it scared you beyond belief.
Meridith entered just as you were putting on your gown. It was an off-white colour and hung just below your knees. It was comfortable but looked like it had been hastily thrown together.
Meridith tutted and tugged at the neckline. “Just until we get there,” she hummed, “then this.” She held up the gown you’d tried on before coming into the hot springs.
As if sensing how antsy you were getting, she reached forward and gripped your elbow. “Don’t,” she shook her head. “It will be okay. It will be more than okay.”
You felt dizzy and suffocated. The humid air was not helping. Meridith steered you from the room by your elbows and you were greeted by several more guards. 
Your breathing picked up. Meridith smiled at them. “She will not be difficult. She’s a sweet one.”
Being sweet was the last ring on your mind and the guards seemed to sense it. They arranged themselves around you, Meridith at the front and two of them wedged on either side of you. 
There was no room for you to turn and run. Not that you would get far. From the little you’d seen, the tunnels seemed like a Labyrinth. There was no telling whether you would actually make it or wind yourself deeper and deeper underground. 
You expected to be lead back to your cell. Panic set in deeper when you realised that you weren’t. The torches along the wall seemed to flare as you walked by, casting ghostly shadows along the wall and making you jump. 
You felt as if you were walking for ages. Your feet were aching after just a few minutes and your thin shoes seemed to dig into all the wrong places. Your heels dragged and you kicked up dust with every step. 
Twenty minutes later and the pace seemed to slow. The guards seemed to prepare themselves, standing straighter and walking with purpose. Meridith only hummed, as if she was used to it all. 
You trembled at the first sight of daylight. You blinked several times, pausing and bumping into Meridith. It took a few tries for you to be able to see.
There were three other girls lined up along the wall. Each had her hands clasped in front of her and seemed to be almost unconscious, sagging against the wall and relying on the guards to keep them upright.
Two hundred metres away was the mouth of the cave. You got the sense that it wasn’t the main entrance. There were at least ten other guards, not including your own. The more you took in, the more apparent it became that escape would not be possible.
Meridith took your hands in hers. You didn’t notice the bracelets until they were on. You gasped and cried out as your hands suddenly slammed together, held in place by the bracelets. They were thin and gold and you couldn’t tell how they were holding together. It was like magnetic force, only stronger.
“What - what?” Your chest was heaving as you struggled against the bracelets.
“Calm, calm,” Meridith tried to sooth you, cupping your face in her weathered hands. “It will be okay. You need to stay calm.”
You tried to wrestle free from the guards but it was like fighting against statues. They did not flinch no matter which way you twisted and turned. 
The sound of footsteps had you looking up and you watched in horror as the other girls were lead out, swaying on their feet, to some kind of carriage. It looked like a shed on wheels and was drawn by four horses. Even from your distance you could see chains and locks around it.
The guards exchanged words and Meridith frowned, seeming saddened. You thrashed and kicked but they did not budge. You could see several more waiting for you at the mouth of the cave. One walked by with a gown and you recognised it as the one Meridith had made for you. They loaded it only the carriage and looked back expectantly.
As a last ditch effort, you leaned down and bit one of the guards. They swore but did not let go of you. Someone pinched your nose and you couldn’t breath until you stopped biting, yanking away from their arm with a snarl.
Their blood was green.
You wiped your mouth onto your shoulder and blinked. It was dark but it was definitely green. 
“I’m sorry,” Meridith murmured, “but you will understand.”
You coughed and hacked as powder was blown into your face. Instantly you recognised it as the same stuff that woman and man had used.
It took less than a minute for you to go limp, less than two for them to lift you up into the carriage with the other girls. They were in the sam state as you; unresponsive and leaning against each other for support. 
You curled up to the one closest to you and let yourself fall down, down, down. 
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You didn’t quite fall asleep. Your eyes stayed half-open and your body rocked with the carriage as it moved. There were barred windows in the top corners of the carriage and your eyes stayed glued to them, soaking in the daylight.
Movement came back slowly. The other women began groaning and fidgeting but you were the first to sit up properly. You sat back against the wall and scrubbed at your eyes.
Whatever that stuff was, you hoped you never had to see it again. What if it was addicting? It had to be come kind of drug but it wasn’t one you had heard of before. 
As the other women began to sit up, you tried to talk of them. You were met with frustration as you realised they all spoke different language - French, Italian, Yoruba. You couldn’t help but feel like it was done intentionally.
Still, you sat closely to one another and held hands. It was enough just to know that you had all been taken and had been through the same things. Like you, the other women were spotless. You wouldn’t have been able to tell they’d been kept in cells at all. 
An hour passed by and the carriage showed no signs of slowing. You were getting panicky. You had no idea how you’d gotten to this place but as you got further away from the caves where you’d been kept, you couldn’t help but feel like you were getting further away from home.
Unsteadily, you got to your feet. The other women pressed their hands against your legs and gripped your arms to keep you upright as you tottered to the window. It was a stretch but you were just about tall enough to see out.
Your lips parted at the sight that greeted you. Green fields, blue skies and cobblestone paths, children playing far off. The air was salty and you bet that, if you could see a little further ahead, you would be able to see the sea.
Everything looked so. . .perfect. Like you were driving through a fairytale whilst simultaneously living out your worst nightmare. You could hear the sounds of people far off and you bet that was where you were headed.
You came away from the window and slumped back down. One by one, the other women got to their feet and took a look for themselves. Each came away with the same shellshocked look as you.
There was no mistaking that you were headed towards a town. Did the people there know what had happened to you? What was going to happen? If they did, how were they all okay with it? What kind of people were they?
The carriage seemed to slow as it entered the village but it didn’t stop. The sound of people became deafening. You peered out the window once more and saw stalls lining the streets, buildings that looked like something out of a history book but brand new. You made eye contact with a group of men and they smiled - smiled - and offered friendly waves. 
You sat back down and put your head in your hands. You couldn’t be sure but. . .”I didn’t see any women.”
The others looked towards you, confusion in their expressions. You gestured towards yourself, them and then outside. “Out there. There are no women.”
One seemed to catch on. Her eyes seemed to dull a little and she curled in on herself. You looked towards the others, who still didn’t seem to understand what you were saying. Maybe that was better. 
Your brows furrowed. There had been the woman who had taken you, Meridith, that female guard and a few other women like Meridith at the caves. Maybe that was why you’d seen no others; they were too busy abducting females. 
The voices got quieter and you got the sense you were moving away from the busy part of town. The houses became further apart and you could hear waves crashing against the shore and taste the saltiness of it on your tongue.
Where were you? You had been nowhere near the sea when you had been taken. The language these people spoke was not one you knew. And the other women. . .what was the chance you had all been travelling? Some of them had to have been taken from their homes.
You’d been in a small country when you had been taken. Now you were with women from around the globe. How was it possible?
Your vision grew momentarily dim when the carriage finally slowed to a stop. One of the women whimpered and another began openly crying. All of you were frozen in fear, staring at the doors of the carriage.
They opened with a bang. You jumped and covered your hands with your mouth. A man stood there, smiling. He wore a tunic, the bottom of it just hovering above his knees. The top was loose with a gaping neckline and there was a belt of beads at his waist. He wore sandals similar to the ones you wore.
“Ladies,” he grinned, “you will come with me now.”
Another man appeared over his shoulder. Your lips parted as he translated for the other women who began to murmured amongst themselves, the language barrier irrelevant. It was easy to pick up on the mood; panic, confusion, fear.
The man seemed saddened. “This is. . .” he paused to think. “This is a good day. You will understand.”
You will understand. Those were the same words Meridith had repeated to you. There was so much you wanted to understand. Why they were all wearing those clothes, why you hadn’t seen a single car or phone, why you had been taken.
You bit your lip and rocked to your feet. The man smiled encouragingly at you and held out his hand, which you ignored. The brackets still kept your hands clasped together and you nearly fell out of the carriage.
There was a line of guards waiting for you and several woman. The women stood in the entrance to a colossal building. It looked magnificent. The entire thing was ivory with gold accents and detailing. It was dome shaped and you could see another, smaller dome slightly to its left. That one had a glass ceiling.
The women waved you forward. “Come, come! It is a day for celebrating!”
You nearly laughed. The other women stumbled out of the carriage after you and stared uneasily at the guards. These ones were armed with spears and - swords?
You desperately hoped that things would begin to come together. It felt like you were trapped in a book about ancient Greece. You had been obsessed with books about the Greek life and Greek Gods and Goddesses when you were younger, and that made it easily to spot the differences.
It wasn’t exactly like ancient Greece but it was. . .ancient? As if you were in the same time period, just a different place.
The women at the doors beckoned you forward. One was holding the gowns and you spotted yours amongst all the fabric. 
“Angela,” one of them announced, pressing her hand to her chest. “It is good to meet you!”
The door swung open as you walked in but you couldn’t see who had opened it. Automatic doors? Maybe you were as far from home as you thought.
The women led you and the others up a corridor. There was artwork on each side and you struggled to keep up with them.
Many were depictions of women. Women laughing, women crying, women being buried. Men who mourned them. Your lips parted when you saw the biggest picture - it was a mountain. And right at its base was a series of smaller mountains. 
I was kept underground, you thought. What if it wasn’t quire underground? What if I was in one of those mountains?
The biggest one had a trail of women winding out of its entrance, holding hands with their heads tilted back as if they were singing. They looked happy. Men stood at the bottom of the mountain as if to welcome them, their arms thrown up in what looked like relief? Joy?
Your face dropped when you spotted the final image. Women were stood on what looked like a stage, their hands clasped together in front of them. They looked serene. The audience was full of men, some sat in chairs, some standing up. 
It took you a moment to realise what it reminded you off. You swayed on your feet and one of the guards grasped your elbow, urging you along.
An auction. It looked like an auction.
“Oh my God,” your voice wobbled, “this is human trafficking!”
The other women seemed to have come to the same conclusion as they stopped and took in the art work. You watched as one dropped away in a dead faint and the guards uttered what sounded like a curse.
“No, no,” Angela waved her hands as if to dispel your words from the air. “It is an honour. It is a privilege for the men to have you, they will treat you -“
You turned to run and got no further than two feet. You were scooped up and tossed over a thick shoulder. The other women received the same treatment and you struggled numbly as you were carried further and further into the strange building.
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Steve Rogers was nervous. He couldn’t stop fidgeting and he still hadn’t chosen between his two favourite tunics. One was a blue that supposedly matched his eyes, and the other was a tamer cream option. 
He turned in the mirror, admiring the way it fell down his legs and showed the muscled definition of his thighs. He tugged it against himself and wished it was maybe a little smaller. 
With a hefty sigh, Steve balled up the cream one and tossed it back in the direction of his wardrobe. He pulled the blue one on and chose a beaded belt to go with it. He opened the neckline a little further and admired the way his freshly oiled chest gleamed.
“Stop preening,” Bucky’s voice sounded from the hallway. “We have to go in a minute.”
Steve turned to face his husband and grinned. Despite his words, Bucky had spent the better half of the morning choosing his own clothes. He wore loosely fitting trousers and a baggy top that had a dangerously low split down the middle.
Steve had braided Bucky’s hair out of his face last night, adding beads and golden string to the brown strands. Bucky had grown his beard out a little and Steve relished in the scrape of it on his palms. He looked dangerously handsome. 
Steve walked over to his husband and placed his hand on his arm, rubbing up and down. A few months ago he wouldn’t done the same to the other arm, but now. . .
“I’m proud of you,” Steve said quietly. “I’m proud of everything you’ve done.”
The months after they had returned from the war had been one of the worst times of Steve’s life. All of the appointments, the medicines, the surgeries. A year later and Bucky was better than ever and their friend, Shuri, was working on something special for him. 
Bucky shuddered and held Steve’s gaze, giving him a small smile. “I know.”
They shared a chaste kiss, not parting until their chests began to heave and their breathing became ragged.
Bucky shrugged. “Besides, if it wasn’t for me, we wouldn’t be going to the Choosing.” 
“They wanted to reward you for your bravery,” Steve rolled his eyes. “Be grateful.”
“I’m already grateful for the partner I have,” Bucky growled playfully and nipped at Steve’s jaw. “I am interested, though. Never seen a Choosing ceremony before.”
“It’s an ancient ceremony, have some respect,” Steve pinched Bucky’s side. “You don’t think we’ll. . .”
“Choose a wife?” Bucky filled in. “No, I don’t think so.”
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oh my god i’m so excited for this fic😭 please reblog/comment, it keeps me going!!!
add yourself to the taglist for this fic HERE
i do not give my permission for any of my works to be reposted on other sites.
dividers by @firefly-graphics
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daddyjackfrost · 6 months ago
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Akaashi Keiji;
Prompt 6: “There’s nothing you could say to me that would ever make me stop.”
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i’m so in love with this man.
warnings: angst? hurt/comfort? fluff kinda? insecure Akaashi, mention of not being good enough, tears, a sweet kiss, akaashi hating himself:(
a/n: this was kinda rushed and it’s 2:57 am rn and i just thought about this and i had to write it. which is ironic because there are like 8 half finished writing pieces staring at me rn but wtvr
!!!! A/ex/g ➡️ Akaashi’s ex-girlfriend
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Akaashi Keiji stared at himself in the window of a floral shop. 
His blue eyes raked over his simple attire, messy black hair, and the briefcase he clutched in his right hand. 
Akaashi had planned to stop at this floral shop today to plan and get an order on your favourite flowers for your one year anniversary in two days.
Akaashi couldn’t believe it had almost been a whole year. He couldn’t believe that someone like you stayed with him for a whole year. 
Akaashi reached for the door handle, and then paused. What if he got you the wrong flowers? What if they didn’t come on time? What if you hated them? 
With pursed lips, Akaashi took a step back, and then turned around and began walking back to his car. Akaashi had been a mess all day. He woke up five minutes after his alarm went off, causing you to wake up, and Akaashi had felt so guilty. Then, at work, he had managed to lose a manga panel, which he found after ten minutes, but those ten minutes had been the most terrifying ten minutes of his life. 
Akaashi sat in his car and gripped the steering wheel. His eyes fell on his hands and he frowned. Long and pale fingers stared back at him, and he quickly released the wheel. 
Akaashi sighed and then did something out of character.
Akaashi slammed the steering wheel and let out a quiet string of curses. 
As of right now, Akaashi hated himself. Akaashi had a bad habit of being caught up in his own head and indulging in his negative thoughts, but he had been really good at keeping himself level headed. 
Akaashi knew why he had done a good job. 
You. 
Biting the inside of his cheek, Akaashi started his car and began to drive, making sure to keep his eyes on the road and not his hands. His stomach churned and Akaashi had no idea why he couldn’t just stay out of his head. Why did he have to fall into this negative and self-loathing mindset so close to your anniversary?
Unknowing to Akaashi, his subconscious knew why. The only reason Akaashi was on a self destructive rampage was because of your one year anniversary. Akaashi didn’t think he was capable—deserving—of the love you had for him, and it was eating him up. 
Ever since he was a young boy, Akaashi had known that life was not on anyone’s side. Akaashi would have a few great weeks, and then he would have a terrible week. It had become a routine, a sixth sense. Akaashi had been waiting for the terrible week for a while, not believing that he was allowed to have just a good month. 
The writer believed in happy endings, just not his own. Past relationships had made it very clear that Akaashi could not be loved. His last and longest relationship had shown him that he would never be enough, and it was eating him. 
Akaashi hadn’t even realized he was home until he stopped the car and looked up. Slowly, Akaashi turned off the car and opened the car door. 
He was anxious. 
He knew you waited inside, and although a bigger part of Akaashi wanted to see you and lay in your arms, the insecure version of Akaashi, the one he kept hidden, wanted to be alone. Akaashi had always been a calm and collected person, until he wasn’t, and Akaashi hated it when others saw him at his weakest. 
You knew of Akaashi’s insecurities. His anxiety attacks. And even though you have told him countless times that it was nothing to be ashamed of, Akaashi wasn’t willing to believe you. 
Akaashi wiped the sweat off his hands, and forced a small smile upon his face. He knew you would immediately see through his facade, but he did it anyways. 
Akaashi opened the door to his house and was immediately greeted with soft music playing. He took a few small steps in and heard a familiar tune of BTS’s The Truth Untold. Akaashi quietly untied his tie and slipped off his shoes, his eyes on your back as you quietly swayed, staring at two picture frames in your hands. 
You hadn’t noticed Akaashi yet, and he was thankful. Akaashi’s eyes glazed over some of the boxes that belonged to you, and his heart started beating faster. 
Akaashi had asked you to move in with him two weeks ago, so why was he nervous? Why was his heart beating faster at the thought of you in his space?
Akaashi finally cleared his throat and you quickly turned around, releasing a small breath of surprise. 
You quickly put down the two frames and smiled at Akaashi. “Keiji! How long have you been standing there?”
Akaashi swallowed the lump in his throat, and licked his cracked lips. 
Your eyes zeroed in on Akaashi’s slightly pale face, his disheveled tie, and the slight shake of his fingers. 
You immediately took small steps towards Akaashi, frowning when you noticed how shaken he looked. 
Akaashi just stared at you with wide eyes. You were really here. You were really with him. You were moving in with him. All of the evidence was right there, so why was Akaashi having such a hard time believing it? 
You slowly brought your hand up to rest on Akaashi’s arm but he flinched, and you dropped your hand. 
With furrowed eyebrows and eyes filled with concern, you took a small step back, wanting to give Akaashi his space. 
“Keiji? What’s wrong?” 
I don’t know, Akaashi wanted to tell you. Sometimes I look at you and my heart begins to beat faster. I don’t why you’re with me, he wants to yell, when you can do so much better. 
Instead, Akaashi says, “Why are you here, y/n?”
Your heart drops into your stomach but you don’t move. You don’t show your hurt, because you know Akaashi didn’t mean it like that. You knew the signs. Akaashi looked pained, like he had been walking through a storm, except the storm was in his head. 
“What do you mean, Keiji?”
Akaashi dropped his briefcase and ran his hands through his hair. You bent down and picked up the briefcase, and gently put it down on the table. 
You walked to the kitchen and filled up a cup with water, and then walked to the sofa. You looked up and met Akaashi’s clouded eyes. 
“Sit down, Keiji.” You sat down on the couch, motioning for Akaashi to do so as well. “Talk to me.”
Akaashi had no control over his movements, not when you spoke to him with a soft voice and gentle eyes. 
Akaashi walked to the sofa, sitting down on the edge. He wasn’t used to talking about his feelings. Before you, he never even tried, but ever since you walked into his life six years ago, it had been a bit easier for him to talk and try and explain his feelings. 
Akaashi sighed and rubbed his hands together. Your eyes were on his hands. Akaashi unconsciously dragged his fingernails across his hands, leaving red marks. 
You reached out and grabbed both of his hands in yours. You didn’t look up at him, your sole focus on his hands. You gently rubbed your thumb over the scratches, trying to soothe them. 
Akaashi stared at your actions with watering eyes. 
You both were quiet, your music had filled the silence. You would never force Akaashi to talk, and he knew that, but you also wanted to push Akaashi into talking. Akaashi was intelligent, and he usually found the solutions to his concerns as he talked. All you did was make sure he was on the right path. 
“I’m scared,” Akaashi finally mumbled after some time. You didn’t stop holding his hands, you slowly drew circles on the backside of his hands, knowing that it brought him comfort. 
“Scared of what, Keiji?”
“You.” 
You looked up, and Akaashi looked down to meet your eyes. Your eyes met his and you were quite sure everything around you stopped. His dark eyes reminded you of the bottom of the ocean. They were dark, hiding secrets you would only know if you swam all the way down. Fortunately for you, you weren’t scared of drowning, and as you looked into those heavenly deep eyes, you could see yourself sinking to the bottom of the ocean. 
Akaashi’s eyes held so many emotions, so many unsaid words he wished to convey. 
“I’m scared of the way you make me feel. I see you and I stop breathing.” Akaashi stared into your eyes. His lips lightly quivered and you knew that the words coming out of Akaashi’s mouth would be the most important words you would ever hear. “When A/ex/g left me, I never thought I would love again. I was so sure that I would never open my heart again, and then you stood by me every single day and you always smiled at me and you--you never let me feel alone, y/n.” 
You let out a small breath. Akaashi had never been this vocal about his feelings for you, and your eyes began to water. You weren’t quite sure where Akaashi was going with his words, but you were just glad that you were here to hear them. 
“It hurts. I just want you to have the best and I’m not the best y/n.” Akaashi’s watering blue eyes locked on yours and you felt your heart break as you heard Akaashi’s next words.
“I’m not the best for you, y/n. You deserve better but I’m greedy and I don’t want you to leave me but I can’t give you much. I’m a mess and I’m anxious and I can’t really breathe and I want to love you the way you deserve but I don’t think I can.”
You watched as a tear rolled down Akaashi’s beautifully pale skin. Akaashi’s words rang in your head, but you wanted to laugh. You wanted to laugh and you wanted to cry and you wanted to hold and kiss Akaashi, but all of that had to wait.
As smoothly as you could, you slipped off the sofa and sat on your knees in front of Akaashi. You held his hands in yours and you looked up at him. 
You pulled your hand away from Akaashi’s to wipe the tears that spilled from his eyes. The ocean was bleeding and you hated it. You licked your lips and took a deep breath, hoping the tears that had gathered in your eyes wouldn’t fall. 
“Keiji,” you whispered. “Look at me.”
Akaashi lifted his head and almost choked when he saw the love and adoration swirl in your eyes. Akaashi was afraid to look at you because he didn’t want to see satisfaction in your eyes. He didn’t want to see everything he was afraid of. 
“I don’t deserve better, Keiji, you are the best. I’m greedy too, and I’m not going to leave you, ever. I love you, Keiji. I love you with everything I am and everything I hope to be. After all this time, I still love you.” You squeezed Akaashi’s hands. “Keiji, It’s always been you. I’ve only ever wanted you, I love you with your anxiousness and I love you with all your messes. I love you today, and I’ll love you tomorrow, and I’ll love you forever. There’s nothing you could ever say to me that would make me stop.”
Tears fell freely down Akaashi’s face. He had never been told that he was loved this much. If you hadn’t been staring into his eyes the whole time and clutching his hands like you would collapse if you didn’t hold them, Akaashi would have never believed you. Your words were burned onto his heart, but Akaashi still felt like he didn’t deserve them.
“What if I said,” Akaashi paused. “What if I said I hated you? Would you love me then?”
“Do you, Keiji?” You smiled at him. “Hate me, I mean.”
Akaashi stared at you with vulnerable eyes. “No,” Akaashi let out a small disbelieving laugh. “I don’t hate you. I can’t hate you, y/n. Not when you hold my heart.”
You brought Akaashi’s hands to your lips and laid a soft kiss on his fingers. “You hold my heart too, Keiji. You’ve held my heart since the first day we met.” You pressed your lips against his hands again and then looked up, your eyes meeting his. “You are enough for me, Keiji. You’re more than enough for me.”
Akaashi bit his lips to stop the sob that he knew was coming. Akaashi wasn’t surprised you knew the insecurities that plagued him. Akaashi didn’t know how to react to your words because the way you looked up at him, with your eyes shining, made him want to believe your words. You looked at Akaashi like he had hung all the stars in the sky and Akaashi wanted to cry. 
“Keiji, it’s okay to doubt yourself. It’s okay to be insecure, but Keiji,” you squeezed Akaashi’s hands and pushed yourself up so you were now on your knees and almost at eye level with him. “Don’t ever doubt me. Because no matter how much I say I love you, I always love you more than that.”
You captured Akaashi’s sob with your lips, having pressed your lips gently against his as he cried.
You tried pulling away, but Akaashi’s hands cupped your face and kept you in place. The kiss was soft, just two lover’s lips pressed together, but it was what Akaashi needed. 
When Akaashi pulled away, you grabbed the glass of water and handed it to Akaashi. 
The writer let out a dry laugh but you didn’t miss the small smile and the way his eyes shined. 
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xmalfoyweasleyx · 6 months ago
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Years and years (part 1/2) - Draco Malfoy (smut + fluff)
Summary: A walk through the years of your relationship with Draco, all the ups and downs, all the passion and al the love in one story <3
Includes: a LOOOT of SMUT 18+!! more parts of smut! , also a LOT of fluffy stuff and a little bit of angst, dad!draco at the end.
THIS STORY WILL HAVE 2 PARTS!
Warnings for THIS PART: Umbridge her quill , sad Draco, the war and its injuries, alcohol, let's pretend they are already old enough for everything!!!!, masturbation, very dirty thoughts, fingering and oral (fem receiving)
3,2k words
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September 1991
Y/n was nervous. It was her first year going to Hogwarts. The excitement tickling inside of her tummy was pleasant and horrible at the same time.
The castle was right in front of her, it was astonishing. Lots of other kids around her age were walking to the boats. A hard beat on y/n's shoulder made her almost fall into the ground.
"Get out of my way" she heard a little blond boy say. His hair was blonde and ashy and his eyes were like ice. Y/n already hated him. "Prick" was the only thing she answered when she quickly walked away. It made an anger boil inside the little bully. Draco already hated her too. Nobody walks in his way on the first day of school, the day he looked forward to for already 11 years. AND how dare she? Talking to him like that?
March 1995
Draco was bored. He was sitting next to the window, the only amusing thing was the view outside. It was snowing in march. Not that common for this time of the year. He messed a little with the badge on his robe, the badge Umbridge gave him. He was proud of himself. No actually he wasn't, he was just delighted with the fact that his father was going to be proud. A big plus was the fact that those stupid other houses were finally put in their place.
Y/n came out of Umbridge her office. Relieved. Finally, her tears could come out. She was holding them in for so long now. The burning sensation on her arm wasn't the only reason. Umbridge hated her. She abused her mentally and physically.
Tears rolled down her cheeks like a river, finally coming out after so long. And like it couldn't get any worse Draco Malfoy was right in front of her, and he saw her. He saw her tears and he heard her sobs.
"Don't you dare laugh at me, not this time, please" y/n begged, not even embarrassed about how pathetic it looked.
Y/n and Draco had a weird history. From the first day they met until now. It was an abnormal relationship. Of course y/n hated him like everyone else hates Draco Malfoy. And of course he hated her like Draco Malfoy hated everyone.
But there was this tension, an unexplainable one, the both of them never understood.
"What happened?" Draco asked by y/n her surprise.
"I- uh- I, Umbridge, she.." y/n stuttered confused while unconsciously rubbing her arm where Umbridge had harmed her.
Draco automatically looked at it and had a thoughtful look on his face. Then he saw the wound on her arm 'blood traitor'.
Without thinking he grabbed her arm, a shock of concern went through his body. He didn't know what happened to him.
"Are you okay?" he asked concerned.
Y/n was in shock, not knowing what to say. But she wasn't the only one confused because of his sudden concern, Draco was too. It was the first time he realized how vulnerable she was. He had the sudden urge to take care of her, to make sure she was okay.
It went as fast as his first time riding a broom. Out of the blue it was like his mission to make sure she was okay, to make sure she was safe. Even though he still had that primitive hate towards her.
"Sit down, I might know something" he promised.
Y/n sat down next to him, a tear still running down her cheek.
"Episkey" Draco whispered carefully with a wave of his dark colored wand. With his other hand he held her arm still. The soft and warm touch surprised her. She imagined them cold and harsh but his fingers were the opposite. Even his eyes were soft now, the cold grey was a little more warm and blue now.
The cuts in her arm healed. Not completely, you could still see a scar, but it didn't hurt any more. "Wow, thank you Draco" she whispered with a smile. For a moment Draco's eyes softened and he felt his body warm up when she said his first name. It was an unknown feeling to the Slytherin boy.
A moment of silence followed when they looked in each others eyes. But then they realized he was still holding her hand. They both let go awkwardly and the moment was over. Leaving both of them confused.
April 1995
Y/n was already getting tipsy. She poured another shot of firewhisky down her throat while laughing with Hermione. The music at the party was loud and made y/n even more dizzy.
"Mione, guess who was nice to me today, you'll never guess" I mumbled. Hermione was of course, taking this seriously. So she kept thinking and thinking, leaving y/n impatient. "Okay I'll just say it, it was Malfoy" she tells her eventually.
"The Draco Malfoy?" she mouthed confused. Y/n nodded. "He healed my arm after Umbridge's detention" y/n confirmed. Hermione's mouth hung open in response.
What y/n didn't know was that Draco was watching her from a distance, trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with him. He noticed how pretty she actually was. He spent the past 5 years despising the girl. From the day she called him 'a prick' until now, until he suddenly had this weird feeling. She looked hot, y/n was sexy. She had a nice ass, Draco noticed. He was a little drunk and that always made him horny.
"Okay, y/n. Believe it or not but Draco is checking you out" Hermione told y/n. She immediately turned around and saw Draco looking straight into her eyes now.
"I'm going to say hi, I think he wants me " y/n boasted full with confidence because of the alcohol. Draco was still watching her when she strode up to him. She stopped right in front of him and looked him up and down.
"Well well Draco Malfoy, you were checking me out, weren't you? You like my new dress?" she joked drunkly.
"You're drunk" Draco laughed. It made y/n furrow her eyebrows.
"I think you're drunk because you're actually laughing!" she answered mocking him. Draco smiled and took a closer look at the girl in the party lights. He never noticed her y/e/c eyes and her pretty lips. Oh how they would look so perfect wrapped around his co-
"LET'S DANCE!!!" y/n screamed, cutting off his daydreams.
Draco did something very surprising and followed her to the dance floor. Y/n swayed her hips to the music seductively, moving very very close to Draco. Of course she did that on purpose but she didn't want Draco to know.
When y/n turned around and rubbed her ass against his clothed cock, Draco was afraid he would cum in his pants already. He was used to be dancing like this at parties with girls, but this felt different. Draco tried to convince himself this was just because he was extra horny, but deep down he knew it was because of the girl in front of him.
Without thinking Draco turned her around again. He pressed y/n close to him and before he knew it their lips were pressed against each other.
Her soft lips moved slowly against his. Y/n grabbed his neck and pulled on his hair softly while Draco pushed her hips closer.
The kiss was heated and full of passion. A soft moan escaped her lips. Draco's erection appeared in his pants. Suddenly the boy realized the effect y/n had on him.
He couldn't let this happen. He couldn't ruin the reputation he worked on for years! So he searched all his willpower and pushed her away.
"What are you doing, stupid girl!" he screamed.
Y/n was surprised and a look full of hurt appeared on her face.
-
That night Draco was still horny. The mix of emotions was unbearable.
He didn't want to, but he had to.
So he pulled his pants down slowly, a big sigh left his mouth when his erection finally came free. Draco had never been this horny, especially not after hurting someone. Because he did hurt y/n, he knew that. But eventually this was normal, she wouldn't mind that much... She's used to him being like that. At least that's what Draco thought.
So he wiped the precum from is tip and sighed. Draco started to pump very slowly, a grunt of relief left his mouth.
He tried to come up with something else in his head, he tried really really hard. But the only thing that came up was how y/n danced against him, how sexy she was. He thought about her beautiful lips and how perfect they felt on his.
He imagined how it would feel if she was in front of him, pumping him slowly, with her innocent eyes locked with his. How her eyes wouldn't be leaving his, looking so so desperate for him.
He imagined how she then would put her mouth around his cock. Draco started to pump faster and faster. Because of his drunk state it felt almost real. Her warm pretty mouth...
Draco grunted loudly now, imagining how he would slap that ass of her, how he would completely destroy the girl. A soft moan left his mouth, he was imagining her boobs now. How they would bounce right in front of him.
His stomach began to tingle more and more. He was cumming very soon. His hips started to buck op when he imagined how he would just pound into her mercilessly. It was almost like he could hear her pretty moans and screams.
And with one last pump he came. Hard. Moaning her name when his head fell backwards.
He just laid there for a moment. Panting very loudly. He never came that hard.
Fuck Draco Malfoy, what's wrong with you, he thought.
November 1996
Being in 6th year for almost 3 months now, y/n and Draco only saw each other from a distance in the great hall. The only interaction they had were little glances and a lot of staring.
Y/n was still mad. How could that stupid fucking Slytherin boy just kiss her and talk to her like that and then leave and get mad?!
It was stupid.
It was stupid how sometimes their eyes met during dinner and how it made their hearts beat like crazy.
It was stupid how they still thought about each other every day because of just one stupid kiss.
February 1996
5 months later they finally talked again. Their anger towards each other was mostly gone now. It was time to call a truce now.
Y/n decided it had been enough of all this silliness. So when she bumped into Draco she decided to finally talk to him.
"Who do we have here" she tried sounding polite and playful.
"Hey" Draco said. It was now that y/n saw how tired he looked. All these months they had non-verbal conversations from a distance, but now she really saw him and how terrible he looked, almost ill.
"Draco, are you okay?" was the first question that came up in her mind to say.
Draco just nodded. The last thing he wanted was to show her how terrible he felt. His task, becoming a death eater,...
So he just decided to nod and walk away.
"Oh and sorry about getting mad at you last year" he said from a distance when he quickly walked away.
It left y/n worried and surprised. He apologized?
June 5, 1996
It was the last month of the school year. Y/n heard sobs when she walked past the prefects bathroom. Never had sobs been so recognizable. It was Draco. She knew that immediately. So she didn't hesitate to walk inside the bathroom.
Draco and y/n had been talking last months after all. What you can call talking. It were silly little talks and her friends even judged her for doing it. But the talks didn't really represent that much. Draco felt too bad and she wanted to ask what was going on but she couldn't.
The sight broke her heart. Draco looked at her with fearful eyes.
"Draco" y/n gasped "come here" was the only thing she said. The right words didn't come up in her mind so she just stepped closer to him.
She grabbed his back and pushed him in for a hug. Draco didn't fight it but also didn't hug back. He didn't know what to do. Only his mother hugged him. But y/n started to stroke his back and her smell was so comforting.
"It's okay Dray, you're safe with me" she whispered.
Draco felt calm now. After all those months he finally felt good. So he hugged her back and started to cry again.
"Yes Draco, you can let it al go now" she promised when Draco kept crying harder en harder finally feeling free and safe to let go.
They stayed like that for a while. When Draco calmed down completely he explained her everything and y/n listened. They talked for hours. He told y/n it was his birthday and no one said happy birthday to him today. After all the serious talk they even talked about more fun stuff.
Draco was happy. He hasn't been in years.
June 31, 1996
Believe it or not, but y/n was laying in Draco's bed. Summer was there and everyone was packing to go home for the break.
Y/n has been Draco's girlfriend for a few weeks now. It was a secret. She secretly came to his dorm every night and sometimes she stayed to sleep in his arms.
Y/n got to know the other side of Draco, a part she actually loved.
Draco got to know his own new side and still tried and struggled with being in a relationship now. But he was so so so in love, he realized that now.
His heart fluttered in his chest again when y/n snuggled her nose deeper into his shoulder, trying to be closer to him than before. She laid on him with the half of her body and stroked his arm lightly.
"So we're not going to see each other this summer?" she asked.
"We'll figure it out, I promise we'll see each other" Draco smiled while stroking her hair, making y/n shiver a little.
Y/n stroked up and down his chest now. "I want to try something before we leave, I want to have sex" she suddenly said.
"What?" Draco answered a little bit shocked. Not that he didn't want it he was just surprised.
"If-if.. if you don't want to it's okay, I don't know how experienced you are and..." y/n stuttered.
Draco laughed a little at the thought. She thought he didn't want this? He wanted this for so so so long now. "I want to, but we only have 15 minutes till the train leaves. And.. are you... are.. have you ever had sex before?" he asked getting nervous now.
"No, but I want you to take my virginity, did you do it before?" she asked interested.
"I'm not a virgin. No. But, you are, I don't want you to lose your virginity when we're rushed. We'll see each other this summer and I'll make it perfect, okay?" Draco assured her.
God how he wanted to fuck her there and then, destroy his little innocent girlfriend. But not when it's rushed.
Y/n looked disappointed and she really really was. It took her a lot of courage to ask this.
So Draco had an idea.
"But, I can do something else, if you trust me" he smiled while stroking under her skirt, going closer and closer to her pussy.
"You said we have only 15 minutes" she whispered with flushed cheeks.
"I can make you cum in less than that" Draco promised. Y/n bit her lip and nodded.
He started slowly stroking her clothed pussy now, making y/n gasp a little. Y/n still laid partly on him and her hand was on his chest. Draco had a perfect view on her face and she was so close, it was the perfect position.
"Do you touch yourself?" he asked while pushing her panties down very slowly, lightly touching her pussy now.
Y/n nodded while biting her lip to hold in the moans.
"You don't have to be shy princess, you can let it all out for me, okay? Now tell me what you think when you touch yourself" Draco asked huskily while drawing little circles on her clit now.
A soft moan left y/n her lips and her cheeks were already flushed. Her pussy already wetter than ever.
"I- I think about you, how you would touch me" she moaned. Draco answered with a soft moan too, not able to hold it in. He imagined how she would be thinking of him while pleasuring herself, and moaning his name.
He entered his finger slowly. Y/n gasped. "Draco" she moaned when he started to pump into her softly.
"Good girl" he praised.
"Go faster Dray, it feels so good" y/n moans.
Draco did what she told him and started to pump faster while adding another finger. "You're so tight for me baby, I can't wait to feel you wrapped around my cock this summer when I fuck you so hard" Draco grunts.
Y/n was a moaning mess now. His name left her mouth multiple times. Something he would remember for ever.
"God you're so fucking sexy y/n" he moaned. Draco was surprised how turned on this made him.
And then Draco stopped and pulled his fingers out.
"What are you doing?" she asked when Draco left her side.
"Can I do this?" he asked when going down with his mouth now very close to her pussy.
Y/n nodded eagerly.
Draco attached his soft lips to her clit, sucking on it gently. She was already very sensitive from before so a loud moan came out.
Draco started to suck harder and moaned on her pussy, sending vibrations that went through her whole body. Y/n automatically grabbed his hair and pulled harder than she meant to.
Draco absolutely loved it. It was the hottest thing ever to him, the way she moaned and how she pulled his hair but pushed him closer at the same time.
"I- I think I'm cumming Dray" she gasped.
"Yes, my good girl, cum for me" he whispered.
A loud moan of his name filled the room and her eyes scrunched shut. Y/n panted loudly. "God I think I saw the stars" she breathed.
Draco chuckled and came back up to her pulling her close to him like before. "Told you I could do it in less than 15 minutes" he joked.
"I'm going to miss you Draco" y/n said more serious now with a big frown.
"Me too. But we'll see each other again soon, I promise. I'll be showing you more than just the stars then, princess" he promised her, his heart full of love and joy. He placed a little kiss on her head.
She made a new Draco Malfoy come alive, but what they didn't know yet, is that it will get much much more difficult in the future...
Okay so part 2 will have more (and better) smut in it, like promised, if you want the be tagged in it you can just fill in my taglist
Thanks for reading loves x
new taglist: @rudypankowisdaddy
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commanderspeach · 5 months ago
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It’s Always Been You
Cordelia Goode X Reader
A/N: Ahh it feels good to be back! I am sincerely sorry for not posting, I was feeling kinda lost and still am but oh well :)) This piece of trash came to me while playing the guitar...enjoy :)
Tags: @d14n4ol @pearplate @paulawand @pluied-ete @littlejeaniehugsbumblebees @sapphicforsarahh
Huge double doors slowly opened to reveal the angel you knew as Cordelia Goode. The woman you grew up with, your best friend, the woman you’re hopelessly in love with. There she stood in her stunningly white wedding gown, a bouquet of lilacs in her hands while a shy smile graced her lips.
All eyes focused on her and watched as she took the very first step of her long walk down to the aisle. The sunlight seeped through the doorway and hit her back making her look like a floating goddess.
“Wow, she looks beautiful.” You heard someone whisper and you couldn’t agree more, she was indeed beautiful; breathtakingly beautiful. This is the day your Delia has ever dreamt of since you were kids and it filled your heart with so much joy to see that dream come true.
A small smile crept its way onto your face as the memory of the two of you playing wedding crosses your mind. Cordelia always forced you to play with her and insisted that you play the groom, seeing as there were no boys at the academy and you were the only one who was close to her.
The young girl always made sure that you had the ring pops and that every single one of her stuffed toys were there, especially her panda bear and Miss Piggy since they’re your best man and maid of honor.
But as the two of you grew older you stopped playing and instead created scrapbooks of your ideal weddings, planning everything down to the very last detail. Back then you didn’t know what it was, but whenever the young witch gushed about who she’ll marry you felt irritated.
It wasn’t until Myrtle pointed it out for you one day. The memory etched in your mind like it happened yesterday.
The redhead regarded you with sympathy from afar as you, with a heavy heart, watched Cordelia step out of the academy with Hank, on their way to their first date. The twinkle in her brown eyes as she looked at the man you despised didn’t go unnoticed making your stomach churn.
“My dear Y/N, why don’t you just confess her your love?” Startled you hastily turn around to face the older witch with an incredulous look on your face. Strangely though, your heart started beating faster at the question.
“I’m...I’m not in lo-love with her. She’s...she’s my best friend.” You stumbled over your words, panic clearly visible in your eyes. Myrtle walked up to you while she shook her head, amused by your denial. Delicate hands placed themselves on your cheeks and lightly forced you to meet her soft eyes.
“Don’t be a fool, Y/N. Anyone with eyes can see how much you love our dear Delia.” You couldn’t possibly be in love with your best friend right? It would certainly explain a few things like the need to always be near her and make sure that she’s safe and sound, or the raging jealousy inside of you whenever you hear Cordelia laugh at something Hank said.
Your gaze fell on the door Cordelia walked out of just moments ago as realization dawned on you. The longing look that occupied your y/e/c eyes broke the redhead’s heart, she knows how much you two mean to each other. A sigh escaped your lips while you freed yourself from Myrtle’s hands by gently shaking your head.
“It’s not like she’ll ever reciprocate my love, Myrtle.” With slumped shoulders you walked up the stairs and to your room in defeat, leaving a frowning Myrtle behind.
Brown orbs met yours for the first time making you unconsciously hold your breath. She flashed you that one particular smile you believe is always reserved for you causing a tingling warmth to spread across your body. You winked at her with a gentle smile etched on your lips, eliciting a small chuckle from her.
Your sweet little moment is cut short when her doe eyes wander off to the front, meeting her soon-to-be husband’s gaze. The blonde strode past you as you try your best to mask the pain with a trembling smile. You watched the only woman you’ve ever loved walk towards her future, a future without you.
With every step that she took your heart broke more and more. A comforting hand found its place on your shoulder, you didn’t have to look to know that it was Myrtle’s. You try to fight the tear that is close to escaping and for a second you were certain that you’re winning but as soon as the tear prickled down your cheek you knew you’ve lost.
Piece by piece your heart crumbled throughout the whole ceremony until there’s only a pile of dust left. The last blow that scatters the remains of your heart is your soulmate saying “I do.” to him; someone who will never lover her as much as you do.
Cheers erupted from left and right when they shared their first kiss as husband and wife, but it is all deafened by the howling of the wind that blows your heart away. Of course you clapped as well even with the heartbreak you’re going through because after all you were still happy for her.
————
“Alright, I think it’s time for the newly-weds first dance!” The hostess excitedly exclaimed while you tuned your guitar for your small performance with one of your bandmates.
Plucking the strings of the intro to Ed Sheeran’s How Would You Feel, you watched the pair walk to the middle of the dance floor hand in hand. Cordelia leaned her head against Hank’s shoulder as they started to sway to the music.
You envied the way he’s holding her close to his body, the way his hands comfortably rest on her hips while whispering sweet nothings into her ear. If you just had the courage back then to tell her how you feel, maybe it would have been you on the dancefloor instead of him.
Even though you dreaded this day, out of love for the blonde did you agree to sing a song when Myrtle asked you to. The older witch subtly advised you to pick a song that reminds you of Cordelia. Unbeknownst to the woman dancing in front of you, you’re dedicating this song to her.
Chocolate colored eyes met your gaze perfectly in time for the chorus. Although she doesn’t know that you’re secretly asking her how she would feel if you told her you loved her, the weight that’s been lifted of your chest is relieving and freeing, giving you the chance to properly breathe for the first time.
The thought that she perhaps may get the subtle but at the same time obvious confession awoke a small spark of hope inside you. But it is short-lived when the blonde’s head tilted up only to whisper Hank an I love you.
You tore your eyes away from the couple as tears started to well up again. Looking anywhere but them you tried to keep your tears at bay with the will power you have left and get through the song without your voice cracking.
Once you strummed the last chord the audience burst out in cheers and whistles while the pair turned your way to applaud you. With a curt nod you hastily ran off the stage to rush into the nearest bathroom. You hunched over the first sink that came into view to steady yourself as it was getting harder to breathe.
It felt like your lungs are closing in on you while you fought for air, chest heavily rising up and down with every breath. Tears freely ran down your face, leaving wet trails of lost hope behind.
In your broken state you didn’t hear the door open and close but soon enough you feel arms wrap around you accompanied by the soothing voice of Myrtle Snow, whispering reassuring words.
“I can’t do this anymore,” you sniffed out, wiping away teardrops only for a set of fresh tears to roll down. “I need to get away Myrtle, away from her. I can’t live like this anymore.”
You have endured so much pain all these years that you forgot how it feels like to be happy. Myrtle witnessed how your once beaming smile faltered with each passing day until it was replaced with a fake smile, hiding your misery. That is why she didn't try to talk you out of your plans.
She helped you look presentable again, swiping her thumbs across you tear stained face and brushing stray strands of your hair back. Together you walked out of the bathroom and share one last hug before parting once and for all.
It was now your turn to stand at the entrance, well more like exit in your case. Taking one last glance at Cordelia you see how she shoved a chunky piece of cake into Hank’s face while her laughter filled the already noisy room. She’ll be fine without you, you thought and sighed before turning around to walk out the doors. Out of her life.
———
Swirling the glass, you observed how the brown liquor inside whirls around while the ice cubes lightly clink against the glass wall. The booming sound of music and loud conversations filled your ears as you stood at the bar, eyes now trained on the dancing crowd.
You found yourself once more at another wedding, at Emily's wedding to be precise. Emily is a close friend of yours from the academy and when you got the invitation to her wedding you just had to fly back home. Never in your life did you imagine her settling down, but here she was twerking against her now husband.
You knew that accepting the invitation and coming back home would eventually lead to you seeing Cordelia again. You knew Emily would invite all the girls from the academy, old and new members which of course included the blonde witch who's now your Supreme.
You tried to keep a low profile but it was rather difficult with all the young witches looming all over you. In the last seven years you managed to become a successful musician with your band, touring around the world, meeting fans and just making music. You're living your dream but somehow you still feel empty, like something's missing.
"I would love to chat with you girls a little more but the air is slowly getting thin in here,” You announce and awkwardly scratch the back of your head before shuffling your way out the circle. “I’m gonna get some fresh air.” Pointing back to the terrace of the ballroom you quickly scramble off before anyone can ask to join you.
Breathing in the fresh crispy night air you let yourself relax for the first time this evening. Y/e/c eyes wandered around taking in the beautifully decorated terrace, fairy lights hung around while a small fire place gave you the chance to warm up.
A light breeze gently hit your skin causing goosebumps to rise and for you to pull your blazer closer in an attempt to shield yourself from it. Slowly you make your way over to the railing with your drink still in hand and leaned on it once you're close enough.
Sipping on your bourbon you let out a sigh after as you take in the view of New Orleans at night. It feels good to be back home after all these years, surely you've visited the city but only for concerts and nothing more.
Every time you were tempted to visit the academy but you knew visiting them would bring back old and unwanted feelings, it's the reason why you suppressed the urge to just waltz in and fall into your favorite pair of arms.
A familiar presence way more powerful than you've ever known, pulled you out of your thoughts. She radiated so much more confidence and strength since her wedding that you almost felt intimidated.
The sound of her heel softly meeting the ground made you turn your head to the side. Like a hunter stalking its prey she carefully stepped closer to you, afraid that making any other sound will cause you to run away and leave her like last time.
"Supremacy suits you, Dee." You mutter loud enough for her to hear and turn around to fully face her. The blonde scoffed and shook her head in disbelief. After everything she's been through, the nights she's spent crying over you, missed calls and unread messages and all she gets is an 'Supremacy suits you, Dee'.
Cordelia didn't understand why you just up and left, why you never reached out. It didn't make any sense, she even blamed herself for your disappearance and tried to figure out what she had done wrong.
Something inside her snapped, all the pain and ache turned into anger. Cordelia was furious. Her blood was boiling and her eyes flashed with rage. Seething with anger, your childhood friend approached you menacingly with heavy steps.
A burning sensation shot through your left cheek as her right hand collided with your face. In shock a hand instantly flew up to your reddening cheek, that definitely caught you off guard.
"Ok, I deserved that but-"
"You promised you'd never leave me! How could you?!" She screamed at you and harshly stabbed your chest with her index finger, not giving a crap if someone could hear her. All this pent up anger came rushing out of her and its only target was you.
"It's like you vanished from the face of the earth! I had to find out from my girls that you're living in L.A.!" The blonde continued, her fists repeatedly banging against your chest now. Hot trails of tears stained her beautifully carved face while her lower lip slowly started to quiver.
Pulling her closer by her wrist you hugged her, trying to stop the assault on you. She tried to free herself from your embrace, pushing you as hard as she could away but you just held her tighter. Cordelia didn't need a hug, what she needed was an explanation.
Eventually though she gave up, the familiarity of your arms wrapped around her accompanied by the comfort and safety you always provided being her weakness. Small sobs escaped her perfectly shaped lips, the sorrowful sounds pinching at your already broken heart. 
“After everything that has happened with Hank and the witch hunters, the only person I needed the most wasn’t there,” Her voice was low and hoarse from crying. The sight of her so broken pained you, if you had known that it would cause her so much pain you would have never left. “Tell me, Y/N. Why did you leave?” 
You took a deep breath only to let out a weary sigh after. You’re tired. Tired of hiding your true feelings, tired of lying to her. Nuzzling your nose in her hair and inhaling her lavender scent you take a moment to gather your thoughts and think about how to put them into words. It is time for you to come clean. 
“I left because I love you.” Cordelia’s head slowly lifted up, her brown eyes wide in surprise. It took her a second to finally register the words that came out of your mouth. She eyed you with a look you couldn’t decipher just before cupping your cheeks and effectively pulling you closer to her face. 
With a cold glare and gritted teeth she threatened you with more than just a slap to the face if you were ever to leave her again without saying a word, before sealing her threat with a heated kiss. The sweet taste of her vanilla chapstick mixed with the taste of champagne temporarily caused you to lose your senses. 
It was all you ever dreamt of, her plump lips pressed against yours moving in perfect sync like they’re meant to be. Kissing the only woman you’ve ever loved  was an undescribable feeling, but before you could enjoy the kiss any further it was over.
Hot breaths meshed together becoming one as you exhaled, your senses came back just in time to open your eyes and meet her awaiting gaze. Her puffy face lifted up into a small smile, your smile, while her thumb softly caressed your red cheek. Cordelia whispered an apology and gently placed a kiss on the warm skin.
Piece by piece the blonde witch picked up the broken parts of your heart with that kiss and mended them back together with her next words. 
“I literally had to go blind to realize that you’re the one for me. It’s always been you, Y/N.” 
A huge grin broke out on your face as tears welled up in your eyes. You pulled her back in for another kiss, this one much more deeper than previous one. She finally is yours and you are hers.  
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solarpearl · 9 months ago
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you get hurt.
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characters: tartaglia / childe, diluc, xiao content warnings: uh nothing i think? let me know if you need anything tagged! word count: 1.4k me screaming: hi first post. lets go. rip diluc’s part. excuse the crap portrayals and my askbox is open! what’s playing: dkdk by fromis_9
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tartaglia
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tartaglia, 11th harbinger, who’s name could strike fear into an average millelith, goes wherever he pleases, always looking for a good fight. the young man is always looking to be absorbed in the ecstasy of a heart-pounding challenge, although he finds the fight against this particular hilichurl somewhat boring as it swings its wooden club wildly, and he swears it was trying to get killed as he brings his blades hard against its back.
in the heat and excitement of battle, he neglects to hear the scream over the clash of blades as you go down, weapon thrown to the side as an abyss mage sends a wave rolling flames your way, something you scramble to avoid.
he throws an arrow into the last hilichurl on his side, and swiftly turns on his heel, bow drawn and smile ready to wow you (again) with his prowess in battle.
he watches a weapon skid across the floor, and in a split second he realises that that’s your weapon, and you’re the one on the floor with your arms up. the abyss mage towering before you waves its little wand and dances its little dance in glee at your cowering figure.
you shut your eyes in preparation for the inevitable burn, the abyss mage staring down at you as its wand waves right between your eyes.
a second passes. and nothing comes down. you count to five before you feel that something’s off.
you crack open an eye, only to for an arrow to whistle over your head, lodging into the pyro shield of the abyss mage, who shrieks as it cracks under the splash of water.
it only takes another arrow to the head before it’s down, wriggling and shrieking its way into dust.
the two of you lock eyes, and for a moment you see the steely cold of a trained weapon before he’s rushing over, dropping to his knees as he pecks after you like an overly-concerned mother hen, scooping you into his arms.
“are you hurt?” “no, just a scratch.” “are you sure? no broken bones?” “no, mom.”
you say the last line with a snort, a genuine attempt at lightening the mood, which works as you hear him sigh, tense muscles relaxing and his grip on you loosening.
“i don’t like you getting hurt.” “i just tripped, that’s all. stop worrying!”
tartaglia might like jumping into challenges, but he doesn’t like the thought of losing you to someone else’s blade, especially before he’s conquered the world.
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diluc
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the wine tycoon had always found that his eyes drifted to you, whatever he was doing-- from simple day-to-day mundane tasks in mondstadt to amidst a fierce battle. red eyes always searched for the person who has his heart in their hands.
which is why when he spots a familiar figure right outside his window in the winery does he blink twice and squint. the night is too dark to make sure, but he can’t shake off the feeling of dread settling onto his shoulders, an unexpected weight as he hears desperate rapping at the door of his study-- a maid huffing & rushing in, talking of a distraught adventurer by the door.
“what trouble have you gotten into this time?”
a familiar voice accompanied by a weary sigh. you hear him before you see him, seeing red hair stark against the blue of the mondstadt sky through your hazy eyes.
“i tripped.”
you wince, hand nursing your throbbing ankle (that you swear is turning an ugly shade of purple as you speak).
he sighs again, fixing his collar as he gauges the distance between the dawn winery and the place you’ve landed. you realise he must have arrived in a hurry, slightly out of breath as he pushes down the collar of his jacket-- hastily thrown on.
“i’m fine,” you flub through the obvious lie, an aching ankle did not scream fine, and if your previous attempts were anything to go off of, you wouldn’t make it far before collapsing again, wind breezing over your face in some mockery, applauding you for a lackluster attempt.
he simply frowns at you and reaches down, pulling you to his chest as he picks you up with ease. the pyro user is warm, incredibly so, and you can’t help but sigh and shift yourself closer, something he exhales amusedly at. rhythmic steps create a lullaby that you easily succumb to, a siren song that sings of home as your eyes shut as the dull throbbing subsides.
“i suppose i always have to keep an eye on you, don’t i?”
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xiao
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you know that lightning doesn’t strike twice, so you think you’ve achieved some kind of once in a thousand year miracle, or managed to get cursed, either goes. to think you‘ve managed to catch the adepti on that fateful day and keep him by your side (for now, you think. although xiao thinks otherwise, for he’s fallen impossibly far, and he’s hopelessly dedicated).
“i brought flower crisps... moon pie. and obviously almond tofu, can’t forget that,” you ramble off the dishes stacked atop another, neatly placed on top another within steel bowls and rounded off with a bamboo handle.
he doesn’t say anything in response, although you’re grateful that he doesn’t make you climb the stairs up wangshu inn alone. almost spooking you as he appears out of the wind halfway up the creaky wooden steps, muttering something about you being slow. 
that doesn’t stop him from being steps ahead, though. easily jumping two steps at a time as he leaves you in the dust to strenuously lift a leg and repeat the cycle yourself. at this point you’re outright lamenting the refusal of zhongli’s endurance test back in liyue harbour.
“hey! stop moving... so fast!”
you huff, stopping to catch your breath. the adepti stills at the top of the stairs, habitually crossing his arms as he waits, watching as he gives a quiet “take your time”.
you squeeze yourself as close to the walls of the stone pillar as possible, hand steadying yourself as you feel the entire world sway. the smooth and cool surface a stark contrast to the emptiness underneath, something you gawk at every time you precariously stick your neck out to stare down at the marsh below.
you grasp at something to fill the silence as you start again.
“it’ll snow soon..?”
the question dies out-- much like the stairs beneath your feet. before you can react, it shatters and the wooden plank cracks like thunder, splinters flying as you scream.
looking back, you did seem quite stupid for clutching the food close to you instead of abandoning it to grasp at the wooden planks, but to be fair you were falling to certain death.
xiao’s voice dies in his throat as amber eyes widen, gloved fingers just brushing against yours as he darts across the wooden planks. you slip right through his fingers and he feels his heart squeeze and skip a beat as he almost stops breathing.
the world seemed to slow, leaving you falling forever before you feel a rush of wind and a spark of green, and you choke as you feel yourself stopped in mid-air, lungs crushing as arms wrapped themselves around your figure and you disappear into wind.
“the food got ruined.”
is the first thing you find yourself deliriously uttering. the hammering of your heart and the shortness of breath unfamiliar as you unconsciously grasp for his hand, something he allows after he sets you down on solid ground, peering at you, but not quite meeting your eyes.
“and thanks-- for saving me.”
you shut your eyes, heading leaning against the wall as you count down, from five to one, then over again, until you can see a stick dragging through the sand, drawing five strokes before being washed away by the waves.
“you should be more careful.”
he simply states, staring down at your hands, he doesn’t dare pull away-- not when your grip is so tight, and not when he still hasn’t gotten rid of the feeling of you just out of reach.
“you’ll be there to catch me, everytime.”
you crack a smile, although he catches the way your hand still tremble slightly, and he can feel the drumming pulse when he uses his free hand to draw soothing circles into your wrist.
“of course.”
a truthful promise. something that makes your face grow hot as you turn away, choking out some poor excuse.
that night, verr goldet receives a very strongly worded note on her desk, and you come to realise that xiao now steps on every beam-- as inconvenient as it might be, nothing’s worth losing you over.
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caesthetix · 7 months ago
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SAY A LITTLE PRAYER — Ep. What Paradise Is
↪Eren Yeager mini-series
↪content; major character death, canon universe, heavy angst, description of violence, established relationship, spoiler for season 4, alternate ending, manga spoiler
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"You know, I can't help but thank Eren that he killed her that night."
Everyone was busy with themselves after Jean beat Reiner to a pulp. The rest of them who were still awake, circling the campfire, waiting for sleepiness to engulf them. But that sentence was enough to stop them from dozing off, some pairs of eyes decided to fall upon them instead.
Hange tried to be neutral all the time. They needed to be the mediator between the Marleyans and the rest of the Survey Corps. After all, they needed each other if they wanted to stop the rumbling. Yet they couldn't help but speak up, they were human too after all.
"Huh?" It was Connie. "What do you mean by that, H-Hange-san?"
They just smiled softly as they looked down, watching their own reflection from the brown liquid in their hand. It was your favourite drink, coffee. Every sip would always be savoured as they imagined you sitting right in front of them.
"But we could use her strength. If she lived, she could help us to sway Eren." Armin spoke up, responding to their statement before. His blue eyes staring at the crackling fire, deep in his thoughts. "When we lost her, we lost seventy-five percent of the chance for winning this without having to harm Eren."
"You tell me that is the reason why he killed her?" The scowl on Connie's face hardened as he tried to connect the dots. "So we can't use her against him, eh? What a coward at the end. That lunatic bastard—"
"She would have followed him."
Mikasa's voice was soft and tiny as she cut his sentence. Yet even though it heard like a whisper, everyone could hear what she said. They blinked in confusion, except Hange and Jean who currently stood a few feet from them, somehow understood. The Marleyan raised their eyebrows in confusion, Annie could not understand what they were all talking about.
The rest of them were begging for more information, but the ravenette didn't give them any.
"She would have followed him."
Instead, she repeated the words. Her friends would understand her sentence — if they decided to use their brains for a while. They all knew you, she didn't have to give any further explanation regarding her statement.
Of course, now they understood why Hange thanked Eren for what he did to you. Even if you were alive right now, you were not going to be here, eating stew and drinking coffee while fretting about how to stop your lover who tried to commit genocide to the whole world.
You were going to be there, by his side, with your swords ready to be pointed out to anyone who tried to stop and harm Eren in any way. You would stand there, devoting your heart not for humanity, but for him. That was how big your love was, something that was blinding you, to the extent of worshipping him.
And they couldn't imagine themselves to be the one who sears their blades at you.
"You never told us, Hange."
Jean's voice filled the void, his feet stomping the grass underneath him, echoing through the quiet night. "That night, you never told us what happened." He stood on the other side of the campfire, his tall body looming in front of them as they seated on the ground.
The brunette stared at the man with a stern gaze, contemplating if it was the right moment to tell them. But their time was limited now, as their friends, they all deserved to know what happened that night.
"Alright." They put the metal cup down their lap. "Though I remind you now, it wouldn't be pleasant but," It even felt so heavy for them, by just thinking about your death. "But it would be so — her."
The veteran scout told them everything. From how you stood in front of their door, the coffee that they shared with you, to the time you cried when they gave you the key so you could go inside his cell. They were sure that you went there to talk and asked for a reason, but they knew thirty minutes wouldn't be enough.
Jean felt bad for asking, as he could see how much the commander suffered from this burden. Hange's hand balled into a fist, the other gripping tight on the cup's handle. Yet they keep on going, telling them how they saw Eren wash his face as if his hands were not stained by his lover's blood.
They explained the bruises on your neck, shaped like fingers as an indicator of how you died.
"Fuck." Jean cursed, his eyes glistening with tears that were threatening to fall. "Fuck." He shouldn't have asked, but it was too late, he could see the horror in your eyes, how afraid you were that night, how you were screaming for help but no one came.
For you to die, and the one who was responsible was your lover, he couldn't imagine the betrayal on your—
"But you know what's funny?" Hange spoke up once again, they were not finished yet. Their comrades immediately looked at them once again, asking for them to continue.
They sipped their coffee, recalling the gleam in your eyes, the comfort that they remembered up until now. There was no terror, you were not afraid of him even in your last moment. "There was no sign of resistance."
And that fact was enough to wake them up.
"Even from the start, when Eren choked her, she just stood there, letting him do it." They chuckled, almost maniacal. "Her eyes still shone with comfort as she looked at him. I-I always figure her out, I understand a lot of things about her. But, but I can't with this one."
They stopped, groaning as once again your eyes were the only thing that they could see. "I don't know anymore if she really believed that he must have to kill her for a reason," His hand shook the cup gently, letting the liquid swirl inside. "Or she believed that he would stop and let her go, even until she's gone for real."
And that last sentence broke them all.
The Marleyan couldn't look at the broken soldiers in front of them. Gabi and Falco pursed their lips, trying so hard to sleep. Annie who was sitting beside the unconscious Reiner, now having her pupils dilated as she understood the story, and who would be the mysterious woman that made them distressed like this.
Connie was silent as he kept gulping down water down his throat. Armin closed his eyes, but he could see it so clearly, the faith in your orbs. Jean just chuckled bitterly, muttering stupid woman again and again as tears were cascading down his cheek.
Then, Mikasa, her lips trembled as she tried not to sob. But whimpers already slipped, her empty cup fell to the ground as she put her hands on her ears as she wanted to stop the noises in her head. You brought joy, even in her life, and to be reminded that you were killed by Eren nonetheless, tore her apart.
The rest of the night was filled with nothing but sorrow. Tears accompanied them all to their sleep, silent weeps and choked-out sobs could be heard here and there.
Hange could only stay put under the white cloth that works as their blanket, staring into the dark green of trees, then went beyond that to see the night blue skies which adorned with stars. They subconsciously raised their hand, as if they were reaching for someone.
“Tell me, Hange!”
They tried to understand him, they really did. When they closed your eyes as you laid on the infirmary bed, they knew that you would appreciate it if they tried to understand why he killed you. Down in the basement, they tried to bait him with your condition, blaming him for how they lost another comrade.
“If there’s another way, then tell me what it is!”
But they were not you, they couldn’t see it. They wanted a reason but all they got from the man was just subtle answers, pain, anger, and how what he did was something inevitable. They just knew that he suffered too from what he had done, so perhaps it was enough.
They just wished — they could understand you.
"Oh, (Y/n)." They sighed, finally letting the tears slip down their cheeks. No one else saw them, it was just their lonely soul and the craving for your existence. "I think I didn’t know you enough."
✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ༶•┈┈⛧┈〄┈⛧┈┈•༶ *:・゚✧*:・゚✧
His vision was supposed to be filled with lights, dark blue lights that came from the coordinate. He used to know it all, see it all, what happened in the world as he activated the rumbling, he could hear all the screams from those people underneath him. Trampled by gigantic power, without given any mercy.
He couldn't remember when it stopped. The terror, his friends fighting him so they could stop his plan — suddenly all he saw was just a bright pinkish sky. It was as if he was laying down on one of the clouds, soft and free.
The breeze tickled his long hair, good that it just swayed his brown strands softly, but not good enough to give him comfort.
Comfort, oh, how much he longed for that word.
The past few days had been so hard as he kept on living to grant freedom to the Island of Paradis. He could not count how many of his comrades died, how many of his followers ended up not seeing that freedom, let alone all the lives that he took.
And now when he knew that he failed, he chuckled as the realisation dawned upon him. After all these years — he was still the same useless boy.
"Eren."
He sat up in an instant. Dark green eyes searching for the source of where it came from. Surely he was not hallucinating, but that was a possibility. He didn't even know what this place, let alone believing that it was her voice.
"Hey, Eren."
But it was indeed your voice. No matter how many days or weeks passed after some time he had to part with you, he could always recognise that voice anywhere. Gentle, warm, and comforting, it felt like he was so close to heaven.
"You are here."
Then he felt it. He felt you. He looked down on his torso, finding two arms wrapped around him from behind. It felt so right as his hand slowly covered yours, testing it in case it was all in his head. But he could touch, he could trace his finger on the back of your hand.
He laughed, just a short one as he still processed what kind of magic existed in this place. You rested your chin on his shoulder, planting a peck on his cheek without warning that caused him to blush a hundred shades of red.
"(Y/n)?" He called out your name. "Are you real?" You only answered with a single hum. "How come are you real? Where is this place? Why am I here? I am not supposed to be here, I needed to finish the plan, Ymir is—"
You shut him up by placing your finger in front of his lips.
"You are free, Eren."
Silence. He could not understand that. Did it mean that he already died? But if that was the truth, why did he even feel more alive now compared to all those years that he spent before?
You slowly retracted your finger, pulling yourself from his embrace as gently as possible. Eren was still deep in thought, hands falling to the cloud-like ground he was sitting on right now. You stood up and walked in front of him, bare feet were now within his eyesight.
He could touch you before, and it didn’t feel like he was hallucinating. He felt your kiss before, and it made him sure that it was real. Bewildered, he looked up only to find you looking forward. Even though he felt that he was finally free, he was still curious about what happened in this moment.
"What is this place?" He asked again, now a lot calmer than before as he gazed at your face which showed nothing but peace.
"A transit." You started, eyes never leaving the glowing sight in front of you. "A place where you are finally free, but still misplaced since it was not the last destination where you should go." He hummed, processing your words that still felt unreal.
"Then why are you here?" All this afterlife thing was so foreign for him. "Why don't you leave and go to your last destination?"
"Oh, boy, you really asking me that?" You chuckled softly, snickering as if that was the dumbest question that you ever heard. Your eyes finally cast down to face him, and when he still looked so confused, you could only let out a sigh. "Because I am waiting for you, Eren."
You smiled wistfully, extending your hand for him to take. "What else could it be at this point?" He took it as he nodded at your answer. You helped him up, letting him stand by himself. And now as he looked around the endless clouds, he could finally embrace the fact that he was indeed — dead.
Anywhere he looked, he could only find the soft, white clouds refreshing the air. The colour was tinted orange as the sun in front of him shone like it would set anytime soon. But it had been perhaps minutes by now, and yet the colour never changed.
If he was finally here to feel his freedom, then he would take it. The world where he lived before was not his responsibility anymore. His friends had won, and it was not his place to ask for what happened next. Yes, he was ready to be free. But as he looked at you, he still had one, unanswered question that he needed to know.
"Hey, (Y/n)." He cleared his throat, melancholy striking his feature as your gaze met with his.
"Yes, Eren?"
How come you are here on his side? Why did you stay in this place alone just to wait for him? He killed you, why are you not running away? There was so much, so many questions that he never dared to ask you. But one, he needed to know the answer to this one question.
"Why don't you fight back when I try to kill you?"
You didn't flinch, you stood there with a neutral expression as if he just asked you if you had eaten before.
"Truthfully, Eren? I always thought that you were just trying to make me hate you. Looking at me with those cold eyes, tightening your grip like that." Your finger subconsciously went to your neck. "At first, I thought you were going to let me go at some point."
He could feel a lump start forming in his throat as he listened, tears were threatening to fall already. That was what you felt that night, you didn’t want to die. Of course, who in the right mind wanted to die? Let alone killed by someone that you loved.
"But as seconds passed and you were not loosening the grip, I understood." Then you continued, your hand now fell back to your side. Though, you still looked at him with earnestness written all over your face. "I understand that you had to kill me for a reason, that you knew it was for the best."
His breath hitched at your statement; which was supposed to make him feel guilty, to make him feel like he was not worthy of your faith. But with how there was no ill will nor sadness in your intonation, he couldn't feel any other feelings except — relief.
"So I believed in you, and I wanted you to know until the end that wherever I go next, I will always devote my heart to you."
You said it without doubt, as if you have been saying the same thing over and over again throughout your life. Yet somehow he could know that it was the truth. Perhaps you said that inside your heart for all the times that you spent with him.
While you still alive, you have put your faith in him, following him anywhere he goes. No one could sway your belief, you were devoted solely just to him. You praised his name, never leaving his side under any circumstances.
And he realised — that was the way you said you loved him.
So now, it was his time to do the same, to believe in you.
"Come on, Eren." You dusted the non-existent wrinkles on your clothes before extending your hand for him to take, a smile never leaving your face as you waited for him patiently. "Let's go home."
And without wasting another second, without any hesitation, he reached for your hand. The smile on your face widened at this, and the wind suddenly twirled around the two of you. He didn't know where home was, he didn't know where you would take him.
But as you started to walk in the direction of the sun, he followed. His eyes looked forward, dark green eyes turned into the emerald shade that was gone before. It was so beautiful, how he walked above the clouds, with your hand around his, guiding him to a new place called home.
Your laugh resonated in his ears as he caught up with you, gripping your hand tighter, afraid that he would lose you if he loosened up. Yet somehow he knew that he wouldn't have to be scared anymore.
Now he was finally free. From the burden on his shoulders, from the duty that was thrown at him by his ancestors, from the endless nightmare that he saw on each vision — it was all gone. And as his gaze fleeted toward your running form, he blinked in astonishment.
He saw you, a younger self of you perhaps, maybe when you were nine or ten. You looked beautiful, even with your hair slightly shorter, with chubby, adorable cheeks. Then you turned to face him, and he saw those glossy beads filled with purity.
And inside those, he saw a reflection. Of a boy not older than ten years old, with a brown outer and a sage green shirt, holding on to someone. Oh, it was him. He looked so free as he ran side by side with you, he looked so free with you leading him to his new home.
Laughter filled the air that surrounded you and him; high-pitched, carefree laughter that people would hear when children ran around the street to catch one another. That happy laugh slipped from both of your lips.
He held your hand tighter, not because he was afraid to lose you, but so he could feel your love even more. He ran with you faster, now becoming the one who followed you as he believed that you were going to take him somewhere, to the last destination.
A place where he could finally be free.
With you.
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↪Back to Wall Maria
↪Citizen; @queenofcurse
↪Send an ask if you want to be a citizen of Paradis (taglist)!
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shitfanficmeupsblog · 7 months ago
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Chapter 1: Maladaptive (1/?)
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Summary: You are Tony Stark’s daughter. He sent you off to a boarding school in California before high school to help cultivate your brilliant mind. With the world facing more enemies, visits happen less and less often and you seem to fall through the cracks. Now in college, you fall on hard times and your distant father swoops in to save you. 
Warnings: ANGST!! Drugs use! Alcohol, self-esteem issues. Family drama! Descriptions of assault (not sexual) and typical violence.
The constant strobe lights added to your nausea; flashing green, purple, and red neon lasers were in sync with the pounding bass. It radiated into your feet and through your chest; the music vibrating within your aching bones. The ocean of hot bodies closely packed together pulsed out heat, dancing like it was the end of the world.  
The vodka soda you were clutching in your hand added onto the many other shots you had earlier in the evening. Just as well, the energy of the club was as intoxicating as the alcohol in your system.
Stumbling over to the table your friends were sitting at, you put your drink down and leaned over, your clumsy hands grabbing at the tray that was laid out in front of you; snorting a portion of the white pills that were crushed on the tray, you braced yourself for another round of endorphins.
You took another sip of your drink to continue chasing your high, you had barely had a second to breathe before your friend Marcy, who was quickly turning into a blur of curly red hair, was dragging you back onto the crowded dance floor.
Laughing loudly, you held onto her hips and danced your 24th birthday away. Your college assignments that had been due were now long forgotten, replaced by only raw feelings and immediate reactions.
Dancing until last call, you began the long trip back to your dorm room all alone as Marcy went home with the guy she’d been hooking up with. You tried to walk in a straight line but the damp concrete swayed and dipped from under your feet.
By some miracle, you managed to return to your room safely, you looked around your empty room, cold and with a deep exhaustion that settled in your bones. It didn’t take long after crawling under your sheets for you to fall unconscious.
The Avengers Compound - 10:14 AM
Tony, Bruce, Natasha, Wanda, and Loki were all sitting around the sleek, white dining table while Steve, Sam, Bucky, and Thor were sitting at the kitchen island everyone had their breakfast plates piled high with food and were quietly chatting about their coming day.
From the table, Tony’s phone beeped with a notification, quickly scooping up his phone, he walked over to the coffee maker to casually pour himself another cup of the dark liquid.
Walking up behind him, Natasha placed her hand on his tense shoulder, knowing what today was. She gave him a knowing look with her big green eyes, “Call her, Tony.”
Natasha was the only one who knew about you. After getting drunk with the Black Widow one night, your father had told her all about you. About how much he loved you, how much he wanted to be a family… a real one who eats dinner together every night and has the holidays together but that just wasn’t realistic. He was the Iron Man and you were just a baby when he obtained custody of you. The world grew dangerous and things changed.
He always loved you more than anything, it didn’t matter when you spilt your apple juice all over the project he’d been working on for two weeks or when you built your first Arc Reactor at 13, he loved you unconditionally. But when everything started to fall apart, he shipped you off to a boarding school across the country and he never forgave himself for that decision.  
After excusing himself from the group, Tony picked up his phone and dialed your number. He let the phone ring until your voice mail beeped and he began to stutter out his message,  “Hey kidd- Y/n… Just calling to say hi… check in. Wanted to wish you a happy birthday. Call me back if you can. I know you’re probably in class, have a good day.” He reluctantly hung up and shook his head in defeat, wishing he could be there for you.
You woke up around one o’clock in the afternoon the next day to a voice message from your father, you truly did consider listening to it but the pounding headache and nausea flipping in your stomach prevented you from doing anything other than downing two water bottles, taking a painkiller and passing back out.
When you woke up again a few hours later, you finally mustered up the courage to listen to the message. The rage that filled your body at his words was terrifying and unbridled. Hurling your phone across the room, you tried to fight back the tears. If he cared, he would have been there but no, he never was.
It didn’t take you long to recover from your birthday celebration, so when Marcy asked for you to go out with her on Friday, you gladly said yes. Unfortunately, there was no club when her car stopped driving that night. There was so pounding music, no flowing drinks, no beautiful shining lights. There was only a disgusting apartment, crowded with strangers who were filled with bad intentions.
Marcy eagerly dragged you inside, both of you trying not to choke on the cloud of smoke that hit you after opening the door.
After slumping down on the couch, one of the shady guys next to you handed you a lukewarm beer. This is definitely not the Friday night you wanted but luckily you remembered you had a few uppers stashed away in your pocket, you pulled them out and downed them with some of your beer.
You were trying to relax into the lumpy old couch when a warm body flopped down next to you. A hand crept its way onto your thigh, burning your skin like acid, itching like ivy. His touch foreign and wrong on your skin. His words and hot breath disgustingly vile on your neck,  “Hey there babe.”
Trying to escape his dangerous grip, you scooted away from him and tried to cooly sip your drink but the couch was only so big and he was insistent, “Come on, want to get out of here?”
You tried to sound strong and unmovable as your stood from your seat, “No, thank you.” However, he grabbed your wrist and spun you to face him.
In a moment of pure reflex, your right foot swung up to swiftly round-house kick him in the side, quickly you twisted his arm around to his back with one hand and unsheathed your knife that had been hidden in your boot with the other, holding the cool metal to his throat. Your voice is dangerously low as you growled, “Don’t ever fucking touch me again.”
Ignoring the stunned faces and broken bottle you had left in your wake, you left the apartment and started to quickly walk down the empty street. At the same moment you were wishing you hadn’t drank so much, a hand grabbed your arm from behind and threw you into a dark alleyway.  
“That was a mistake.” You instantly recognized the voice, it was the same asshole from the party.
He managed to get a few punches in before you got your bearings but after you climbed to your wobbling feet, it was over for him. You had him pinned to the brick wall with your knife plunged deep into his shoulder in seconds.
Unfortunately, along with his cries of pain, you could distinctly make out the blare of sirens quickly rushing towards your location.
Pulling your knife out of the squirming man on the ground, you took off down the street but the substances in your blood stream and blunt force trauma made running anywhere fast very difficult.
From behind you, barked out a booming voice, “Stop! L.A PD! Drop the knife! Get on the ground!”
You knew you had been caught, you fell to your knees and let the blood soaked knife fall beside you. This definitely did not look good; neither did the cops walking towards you with their guns out or the inside of the holding cell they threw you in.
Back at the compound the comforting voice of JARVIS spoke out into the living room where Tony was reviewing files, “Mr. Stark, you’re getting a call.”
Tony picked up his phone and held it to his ear listening to the man on the other end of the line, “Hello, this is Lieutenant Rosa from the Los Angeles Police Department. I’m looking for Mr. Stark.”
Tony couldn’t help but run a hand over his face, rubbing at his eyes. There is no way this could be good news, still he replied, “This is Tony Stark.”
“We have your daughter, Y/n here in our holding cell. She assaulted and stabbed somebody tonight.” Out of everything he was worried about, Tony certainly did not expect to hear those words. “She is also under the influence of drugs and alcohol. She asked for you to be her phone call. Her bail is $8,000.” And somehow, it just kept getting worse.
All he could manage to muster out was a tense, “Put her on please.” Hearing the phone being rustled around before a beat of silence, he softly asked, “Y/n… what happened?”
You coldly replied, “Some asshole fucked with me. I only did what I was taught.” Your father and grandfather always thought you should have proficient defensive training, little did they know they were making you into a weapon that would eventually hurt yourself and others.
Your voice sounded so broken in your father’s ears, he tried to say he would be on the way as soon as possible but you angrily cut him off, “No! I don’t need you! I just need bail money! I haven’t needed you and I don’t now!”
His voice raised to meet yours, “Clearly you do need me since you called me!”
You two were like oil and water and you had no plans to mix anytime soon. In one last act of defiance you screeched, “Fuck you!”
With a click, the line went dead and Tony glanced up to a very concerned Captain America. Steve’s blue eyes were trained on Tony’s face, who remained deathly silent until he managed to say, “Rogers, please get Romanoff and Barnes. Meet me in the conference room in five minutes.”
Instantly curious, it took them less than two minutes until they were seated around the conference table where Natasha, Bucky, and Steve were listening to Tony explain the situation, “It’s Y/n. I got a call from the LA PD. Apparently she got arrested for being under the influence and stabbing somebody.”
Feeling shocked, like all the wind had been knocked out of her chest, Natasha covered her mouth with her hand, “Oh my god…”
Quietly observing Tony’s behavior and Nat’s reaction, Bucky was trying to put the pieces together in his head, “I’m sorry… who’s Y/n?”
“My daughter… she just turned 24. She is at a boarding school in Santa Clarita.” This was not how Tony wanted his team to find out about you but no time had ever felt right. The world was never safe enough.
Both Bucky and Steve asked the same question, “You have a daughter!?”
Scrolling through his phone, Tony explained the story of you, “Yes, her mother was just a one night stand. Unfortunately, when Y/n was five-years-old her mother died in a car accident and she came to live with me. When everything started happening, I sent her off to a boarding school in California. Everything had been going okay… I don’t know what happened.” Sliding his phone to the middle of the table, the three Avengers in front of him looked down at the photo of you bright and smiling at your high school graduation.
His small smile quickly fell as he pulled his phone back, “She doesn’t want to see me so I need you to go get her and bring her home. I'm going to set up a room for her here. I’ll give you the bail money.”
It took them less than fifteen minutes until they were in the air and flying in the QuinJet towards your boarding school. Letting the A.I take the wheel, Steve and Bucky listened to Nat talk about the time she had spent with you, “She was such a bright child. Tony would always tell me how they would play in his lab and I even met her a few times… she always asked me if I would braid her hair. I think she missed her mother but through everything she stayed so sweet and outgoing. It’s hard to imagine her suffering…”
A few hours later, Steve touched the Jet down outside of Los Angeles and the three of them rented a car and drove inside the city towards the police precinct where you were being held. The two super soldiers waited outside while Natasha ventured inside to retrieve you.
A  strangely comforting face from your past appeared in front of you and tried to make herself seem non-threatening but you could see the outline of the gun holster on her hip. Her voice was soft and there was something gentle and distantly familiar about it, “Hey, Y/n…”
You stared up at her with broken eyes that were surrounded with purple and yellow bruises that matched the ones littering your arms. You recognized the voice and those green eyes, Natasha Romanoff... Auntie Nat, you loved spending time with her as a child but you were no longer that starry-eyed kid she once knew. 
You looked exhausted and sickly, Natasha’s stoic nature shook but she took a deep breath and offered you her hand, “Come on, Honey.”
Once you followed her out of the precinct, you were met with two large unfamiliar men who Natasha introduced you to, “Y/n, this is Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes.”
With your voice laced with sarcasm you looked right through them, “I’ve heard about you guys, America’s golden boy and the professional assassin.”
After that, the ride back to your college dorm room was filled with the kind of silence that made your skin crawl and your stomach flip. As much as you prayed that they would stay in their car, drive off and you’d never have to see the heroes again, that is not what happened.
The three of them followed you up to your room where a horrible feeling washed over you like a bucket of ice water as they looked around at the piles of dirty clothes and seemingly endless number of empty alcohol containers, the judgement growing in their eyes.  
Nat crept up to you and quietly tried to talk with you, “Y/n… pack your stuff. You’re coming to New York, okay?”
So many thoughts instantly flooded through your head, you’d have to leave your friends, the parties, the drugs. You couldn’t control yourself, you felt the panic taking over, “No! I mean— I can’t just leave! All my shit is here!”
Leaning with his arms crossed over his chest, Bucky chuckled, “Better start packing then.”
Quickly picking up an empty beer bottle, you chucked it at the super soldier’s boyish smile in a fit of rage. After barely dodging the projectile and watching it shatter behind him, his patience was running thin. Bucky marched over to you, threw you over his strong shoulder and carried you out of your room.
Your screams were deafening in his ears as you continued to punch and kick him with all the force you could muster.
After having no effect on him, he tossed you in the back seat of the rental car and held you down with his large hands and proceeded to buckle you in, “Knock it off, brat.” A slam of the car door punctuated his order.
Back in your room, Steve and Natasha were busy packing your bags and trying to clean up some of the bottles. While she was packing some of your t-shirts, Nat found your stash of coke and pills. She felt bile rise in her throat as she reached for Steve.
He scooped her up into his arms and soothingly rubbed her back, trying to calm her, “She’s going to be okay, Nat.”
After they had finished and reached the car, Bucky had your feet pinned to the seat to stop you from continuously kicking him. When Steve and Nat climbed into the front seat, Bucky heavily sighed with relief, “Thank God, you guys are back! I can’t baby sit any more.”
Angrily, you spit back, “Why?! Scared I’ll kick your ass?!”
To prevent an all out war in the back seat, Natalie switched with Bucky and you were all silent for the rest of the drive to the QuinJet.
Onboard the jet, all you could do was continuously pace, your shoes thudding on the metal floor, desperate thoughts filling your head with panic.
Steve called out from the driver’s seat, “Why don't you sit down? We have a long ride.” He said that like your whole life hadn’t just been uprooted! What were you going to do now? You needed to get out of here!
His comment was all it took to push you over the edge, your distressed voice screaming out, “I don’t want to! I don’t want to be here! Don’t you get that? He doesn’t want me!”
Nat’s warm arms pulled you against her chest as she allowed you to sob against her. You cried until your exhaustion took over, your eyes finally drifted shut half-way through the trip back to the compound. Emotionally drained, you were not sure if you were ready what was ahead of you.
Part 2
@blackxwidowsxwife​  @bxby-riah​ 
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starlight-starwrites · 7 months ago
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not me taking days to come up with a request 😌💅 lmao may I get some hurt/comfort with Ezra 🥺 maybe he or Reader is injured and the other has to patch them up (and maybe they feel at fault for the other's injury 🥺) thank you, my love 😍 you're the best! 😘💜
Angel
ezra x reader
wc: 2.9k (oops this was supposed to be like 1k...) warnings: some non descriptive violence, swearing, injuries, hurt/comfort, vague and inaccurate medical care, and soft feelings (it ends in fluff i swear it) note: not me taking weeks to answer it 😌 so sorry i took so long to get this out for you!!! but i hope it lives up to the wait? i also couldn’t decide who should be injured and who would feel at fault so i said ~both~ :)
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“Shit, shit.”
You pull Ezra’s arm tighter over your shoulders, but his added weight aggravates your leg. Your limp slows you down, but you aren’t leaving him behind. Not after what he did for you.
“Ezra, c’mon.” You jostle him slightly as you try to stumble further back to the pod, moving as fast as you can. You don’t know if he’s fully conscious. “Please you gotta help me out. I can’t do this on my own.”
He mumbles something into your shoulder, and you don’t quite catch it. But he’s not unconscious. Not yet.
“Fuck,” you cry out. You can see the pod in front of you, it’s so close now. But Ezra still sways into your side, barely able to do more than drag his feet after you. A jolt of pain shoots though your leg, and you collapse onto one knee. “Ezra!” Tears prick at your eyes.
You’re so close. So fucking close.
You can hear shouts behind you, and the fear rises. You had shot one of them, though not fatally, after Ezra had killed two of theirs. You didn’t know how many were left. Not too many, but certainly too many to take on by yourself while injured.
You try to push yourself up with your one good leg, tucking yourself under Ezra’s arm to get him up, but it’s too much. You sob into the cold air, trying to catch your breath. Castomore had a breathable atmosphere so you didn’t need helmets, but the air was thin, and combined with your recent skirmish, you were already feeling lightheaded.
“Ez, please,” you whisper. His head lolls to the side, mouth moving but eyes closed.
You can’t do it. You sink to your knees in the powdered snow, tears already freezing on your face. You lower Ezra slowly to the ground next to you and try not to cry again at the sight of the red stains on his suit. You don’t have a choice anymore. You could hole yourselves up in the pod for a while, maybe try to fix Ezra and yourself up best you can. But it would only delay the inevitable.
You’d be trapped inside, and the miscreants following you would get you eventually, possibly even damage the pod before you could do anything. You couldn’t afford to be trapped here.
Ezra still breathes, talking quietly, though nothing more than nonsense. You drag him behind a fallen tree, hiding him as best you can for now. You sling the thrower off your back, prepping it quickly.
You only have one option now.
Ezra’s face is soaked in sweat despite the cold, and you steel yourself. You wouldn’t let it end like this. You wouldn’t let him die for something that was your fault. His cheek is scratchy under your palm, and you gently brush your thumb along his face. You resolve to tell him. You’d tell him exactly how you felt if you survived this.
Another shout comes, this time closer. You breathe out and look away from the man that lays on the ground, taking up your thrower and balancing it on the stump you hide behind. You turn your head, squint through the scope, waiting for it to come into focus.
Three men. One limping, just like you.
You take another deep breath. Take Aim. Fire.
--
Ezra jolts up with a gasp, nearly knocking into you, and you have to push him back down just to make sure he doesn’t make his wound any worse.
The stim in your hand is quickly tossed away, both hands gently holding him and pressing on his chest.
“Hey,” you say it softly while his eyes dart quickly around your cabin, “just breathe, we’re safe now.”
He glances around, checking your surroundings as if he were still in danger. His heart beats rapidly underneath your palm now, so much faster than the dull thump when he lay unconscious. You breathe a sigh of relief.
“I had to stim you,” you reach up to smooth down his hair, and his panicked eyes meet yours. “Ezra, we’re alright, I just need you to breathe okay? You’re shot full of adrenaline, it’s going to take a moment, just stay with me baby?”
He lets his head fall back on the bunk beneath him, trying to breathe just like you said.
“What?” His voice is nothing more than a rasp, and you carefully check the bandage you pressed to his skin. The bleeding has slowed considerably.
“A stim,” you say it slowly, thinking he didn’t understand you. “I had to bring you back, but now I need you to try and breathe.”
His eyes slipped closed when he smiles, huffing a laugh that quickly turns into a wince.
“Ezra.”
You diligently work on fully patching him up now, wiping up some of the residue from the medpatch you put on him, and securing it nicely with the bandage tape.
“What appears to be my diagnosis, Doctor? Am I to continue on this wretched rock, or will I be sent to float among the stars?”
Even injured as he is, he still finds a way to be melodramatic. Or maybe he’s just cracking a joke at your expense.
You roll your eyes. “You’ll live. Now be quiet while I clean you up.”
Tossing away some of the wipes you used earlier, you tidy up the bunk to turn back to your patient. He smiles, eyes still closed, and you take the moment to admire his features.
He looks like shit.
His skin is pale and lips blue from the cold. His hair is slicked back with sweat and dark circles lie under his eyes. Added with his cut open suit and the patches on his chest and abdomen, he looks lucky to be alive.
You focus on cleaning up the dried blood, inspecting him for any other injuries as you sit on the bunk beside him. His smile slowly fades.
“Does it hurt at all when you breathe?”
He shakes his head, eyes opening. He reaches a hand up over yours and holds it to his chest as he looks to you.
“What happened?” his voice sounds weak. He looks so tired. You’re willing to bet you both do. You needed a week’s worth of rotations just to recover from this expedition. Neither of you were on top of your game—hadn’t been for some time now.
The both of you lost more money and supplies than you made so far, and every chance you got to make up the difference somehow ended in disaster. You sadly stared at his bandages.
“They’re dead,” you whisper. “I got you back here while you were unconscious.”
His thumb strokes the back of your hand. “My angel.”
You look up, see the slight curve to his lips. He’s trying to comfort you.
It’s your turn to close your eyes, hold back the tears you’ve been trying get rid of since the moment you stopped outside, fully believing that was your last stand.
“I’m so sorry, Ez.” Your voice cracks, and that’s when it starts. A silent tear tracks down your cheek, and you shake your head when you feel him squeeze your hand tight. “I’m so sorry, I thought it would be fine, I should have listened to you, I should never have made you come—”
“Hey.” He squeezes tighter and all you think is that you’re relieved he has some strength left. “This ain’t your fault. We went together.” His hand lets go of yours, and he moves to place it on your thigh. “Here I lay, nothing more than a sad—”
“Ow!” you yelp as soon as his hand closes around your leg.
He immediately snatches it away at your cry, startled. He starts to sit up, looking over you truly for the first time. His eyes widen when they see the track of blood that runs down your leg, the torn hole in your trousers.
“You’re hurt.”
He’s shocked by it. You had forgone checking over yourself and instead focused only on the man before you now. The pain had dulled to a constant throb, uncomfortable, but with more pressing matters at hand, able to ignore. His reminder suddenly brings it back.
You shift where you sit, taking your leg away from his reach, and he starts to sit up.
“No, you need to lie down,” you say through gritted teeth. “You shouldn’t be moving, just rest.”
“You are hurt. Let me—” He looks at you more intently now, scanning your body. You’re not sure what he sees. His face morphs into an expression of concern, then anger. “Look at me.”
You don’t move. He’s forced to reach up, and you can tell it strains him. His fingers take your chin, turning your head to the side so he can look at the part of your face you hid from him. He looks murderous.
“They shot you.”
“It was just a graze.”
“They shot you twice.”
You lower your head. Feeling the dull ache in your leg, your cheek. Your arm.
“Three times,” you whisper.
Your jacket is pulled off, revealing the hole in your bicep. It went straight through, seemed to have missed your artery, going through the meat of your upper arm. You were lucky. Incredibly lucky.
Ezra stares at it, breathing raggedly still. He says nothing for once, situating himself so he can sit on the edge just as you do. He should be resting, but you refuse to say anything more. You make sure he is as comfortable as can be, help him bring the field kit closer so he doesn’t have to reach.
He takes care of you silently, efficiently patching up your leg first. His brow is furrowed, eyes focused as he does it. You hate how it makes you feel. You had almost gotten him killed, and now here he was, forced to patch you up too.
The arm is quicker than your leg, and his hands are rough and shaking as he wraps the white cloth around it. He tries not to aggravate it, you know that, but it still hurts when he pulls it tight. You had used most of the pain killers when you worked on him. You would just have to bear it.
His hands still before coming to gently hold your face again, turning it towards him. Your eyes find the white square on his chest, and you think of the hole underneath. You’d almost lost him because of a reckless decision, because you had been foolish and greedy and too tired to care. It was your fault, and you deserved the three wounds you sustained. But he didn’t.
You feel Ezra swipe his thumb over your uninjured cheek, taking a tear with it. “Sweet angel,” he whispers, “don’t you cry for me.”
Your chest shudders when you breathe, and as he carefully wipes the blood from your cheek, you fight to not collapse into him. “I almost got you killed. I could have lost you. And I—” You stop yourself quickly, feeling a pull in your chest again.
You wonder if he remembers how you screamed when he went down, how you yelled and begged for him to stay with you, how you whispered your confession into the frozen air when you feared you wouldn’t make it.
“You’ve done nothing of the sort.” His touch his gentle as he cleans you up, tilts your head so he has better access to the gash that runs from the bridge of your cheekbone to the tip of your ear. He looks so tired and worn, and you want to comfort him. All you can do is bring your hand to his leg, relieved by his proximity and that he’s still here to speak with you. His gaze is fixed on your cheek, thumb still stroking your other, obviously distracted from treating your graze. “It was my fault, birdie. I…”
He trails off, a pained look in his eye as he turns from your cheek to your bandaged leg. You sag where you sit, leaning closer but still hesitate to put any weight on him. “No, Ez, it’s not.”
“I vowed once I would protect you,” he steels himself as he says it, snapping back into action and raising the disinfectant to your cheek. The sting makes you hiss, stopping you from interrupting him. “I may not be much, but if I was ever a man of my word, I was to you.”
He patches you up quietly, and you watch his eyes as they follow the graze along your cheek. You never had the chance to look at yourself, but from what you surmised by the blood flow, it wasn’t too deep. He pointedly fails to meet your gaze, scanning you for anything else while he smooths the bandage at your face, his other hand braced on the bunk by your hip to keep him upright.
He was right. Ezra was many things, but he had never lied to you. And remembering the promise you made to yourself not minutes before, you wouldn’t make a liar of yourself either.
“I love you, Ezra.”
His one hand fumbles with the tape and it falls into your lap.
“I’m afraid these drugs might be a little stronger than I first believed, angel.” His lips quirk up nervously, and his eyes dart between yours. “What did you just say?”
“I love you.”
It feels like such a small thing to say. As though the words don’t really convey exactly what you want them to mean. It’s a true statement, and you’re not afraid to say it finally. No matter how it’s received, it’s true, and you think he at least ought to know it.
It doesn’t stop you from fiddling with seam of your pants however, and you drop your gaze from his when he’s still quiet.
His hand comes back to gently cup your jaw, just under the now-bandaged gash.
“I’m…still not sure I…”
You lean forward at the same time he does, your hand finding the curve of his face. His lips fit nicely to yours, like they were meant to be there. His forehead rests against yours, nose brushing your uninjured cheek, and each of you become the other’s support. Neither of you move for a moment, content to feel the press of each other’s lips, have the knowledge that someone cared for you, and, of course, much too exhausted to do anything else.
He breathes out, lips adjusting over yours before his thumb brushes your cheek. You tense as the touch skirts over the edge of your bandage. Ezra pulls back, and you already mourn the loss of his warmth. You drop your hand from his face to his shoulder, and he grunts at the pressure, the two of you barely able to hold each other upright.
“I must apologize,” he speaks slowly but a soft smile plays on his lips. “As much as I should like to, I cannot in good conscience—” he breathes deep again, a hand over his chest, “nor in good health do anything more.”
You let out an easy laugh, finding it hard to keep your eyes open now that you had to chance to close them.
“Please, angel,” he starts again while letting himself lie back against the bunk, hand taking hold of yours on the way. “Please tell me we’ve at least earned a moment of respite.”
“Yeah, Ez,” you set the kit on the floor, not wanting to deal with anything else now. The man you love is calling you to bed. “We can have a moment.” Or ten, you think.
You shuffle silently in next to him, fitting so the two of you can lay shoulder to shoulder. You turn your head to watch his eyes slip closed, just as he reaches to clasp your hand in his and entwines your fingers over his stomach.
You let him, finding the bunk somehow much more comfortable than it ever was before. Your eyes roam over his face, noting the way his lashes kiss his cheek, the slope of his nose that dips to the curve of his mouth, the patches of scruff along his jaw. His eyelids flutter as he settles, his chest moving with each breath, and you’re grateful to see the life in him.
His head turns to face you, eyes opening just as yours drift closed, too heavy to keep open. You’re safe in your temporary home, nestled into Ezra’s side. No one was left to chase you, the pod is sealed, your wounds bandaged. You breathe easier, reassuring yourself that all is well, just as you feel a finger trace along the side of your face, carefully avoiding your newest scar. Even as you begin to fade, the action makes you smile, and you sigh, focusing in on the small details you still feel.
His thumb caresses yours, the gentle motion lulling you further to sleep. You only feel the hard press of the bunk mat at your back, the press of his shoulder to yours and the touch of his hand. All you hear is the gentle hum of the air regulator and his soft breathing, and just before you drift off, Ezra’s quiet whisper.
“I love you too, angel.”
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duskandstarlight · 9 months ago
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Embers & Light (Chapter 28)
Notes: Happy Sunday every one. Thanks for last week's comments. They were so lovely and I love to hear from you all!This chapter is the one lots of you have been waiting for... not smut, but THE conversation. I hope you enjoy it... And sorry about the typos in this chapter, I can't look at this chapter any more! I'll try and scan over it tomorrow...Lastly, just a head's up that I might not be able to post next Sunday. Work is super busy this coming week and I haven't yet started the chapter. I'll try my best, though :)
Oh, and for those of you who ask every week, I post Sunday evening UK time between 7-10PM. I will rarely change and if it’s late, it’s because I’m still working on it :)
Also, sorry, there should be italics in some places but I am done editing so Tumblr will get what copy and paste has done!
Twenty-Eight Cassian POV
Lorrian and Cassian walked silently down the hall, following the servant who was scurrying in front of them. The sound of their footsteps rang around the hallway in an echo that was almost haunting, and if it wasn't for the meeting that has just adjourned—the Rite meeting which that was whirring around in his mind—Cassian would be contemplating how quickly he could organise their departure despite the wishes of his High Lord.
As distracted as Cassian was, he had still committed every corridor to memory. Every twist and turn as the house tunnelled into mountain rock. Up the wide staircase, right, second left, first right, next left…
Deeper and deeper they moved into the mountain. No doubt to ensure that the General and Colonel felt as uneasy as possible. No Illyrian liked being unable to escape through a window and step straight into the skies, and from what Cassian could tell, there would be no windows or doors that led them straight out into the heavens. Only endless crystalline rock and shadow.
Lord Marsh’s property always had been unusual in that way. Even though it was positioned on the wide ledge of the mountain pass, suspended high in the sky above the rest of the Ironcrest camp, the house did not stop when it hit the mountain wall. Instead, it tunnelled inside of it, providing a lodgings that was a vast, confusing labyrinth that was too easy to get lost in.
It was why Cassian had been so loathe to stay the night. To stay any longer than necessary.
Cassian could only thank the Cauldron that Rhys and Feyre’s presence had not been required. Neither of them deserved to be trapped inside a mountain again. Cassian supposed he could count his lucky stars that their presence had not been necessary. Would not be able to bear their anguish, even if they did their best to conceal it.
“Your rooms,” the servant announced suddenly, with a bow that was so deep Cassian wouldn’t have been surprised if the male’s nose had scraped the floor.
They had reached the end of the hallway, and in front of them was a heavy wooden door set into an arch.
Even through rock and stone, Cassian could sense Nesta. Knew she was located somewhere to the left with Frawley, thanks to that magnetic pull which never seemed to cease, even just for a moment. That was the one thing Nesta hadn’t been able to stop. She could constrict their bond as much as she liked—could freeze him out so nothing could travel up and down their twisted tether—but it didn’t stop him from being able to sense her. It was as if he was hyper alert to where she was. His body moved when hers did. His heart did its best to beat in tandem with hers. And when they were near, everything in him had a tendency to relax, as if he no longer had to worry.
Cassian didn’t know if Nesta felt the same. Would never know, given that they did not discuss their fate at all.
Lorrian bid goodbye to the servant as Cassian stepped through the door and into a hallway that was equally as dark. Two doors flanked the short, cramped hallway and Cassian took the immediate left, pushing the door that was ajar so it creaked wide open.
Unlike the rest of Marsh’s residence, the room was cast in a light that was almost unforgiving, betraying the dark ominous furniture and the gloomy crystalline rock thanks to bobbing faelights which Frawley had magicked to illuminate the room. To his left, fire raged silently in the grate, and ahead of him, in a huge stone bay straight ahead of him, sat Nesta.
The carved out rock was fashioned as if it were a window—an irony, given how deep underground they were—and Nesta’s back rested against the far left-hand wall. Her knees were bent, and her long legs, which were hidden beneath her skirts, stretched across expanse of the ledge. She was facing Frawley, who was sitting on the huge Illyrian bed which took up most of the floor space.
Cassian just had time to catch Nesta’s unfettered expression—the tight, bracketed mouth and the downward pull of her brows— before it was wiped clean.
“What happened?” she demanded, as Cassian cast a shield which threw the whole suite into an impenetrable sound bubble.
Her eyes bore into his, and across the surface, silver roiled like liquid mercury. Despite her careful expression, he felt her worry and Cassian wondered just how much he had accidentally hurtled down their shared bond whilst he sat in that meeting to have her so concerned.
“They’ve cancelled the Blood Rite,” Lorrian announced grimly, from where he had entered the room behind Cassian.
Nesta’s eyes snapped to Lorrian. Confusion twisted across her features, but she did not say anything.
“That,” Frawley said after a moment’s pause, “is very clever.”
Begrudgingly, Cassian nodded. Because it had been clever. None of them had seen it coming. The Solstice luncheon, which invited all of the nobility across Illyria, had been enough to ward away any suspicion when it came to the lordlings presence. Rite representatives were chosen privately by each camp, so there was no way that Cassian could have known that the lordlings who had recently met with Kallon planned to fill many of the positions. Nor had it crossed Cassian’s mind that the Rite meeting might have been pulled forward only for it to be cancelled, especially given how steadfast and stubborn Illyrians were when it came to tradition.
But, even if Cassian had asked Az to find out what representatives had been chosen for the Rite that year, they never could have predicted that Kallon intended to instate a hiatus on the most important ritual in Illyria’s long history—a political manoeuvre that would make the Night Court look even worse than it already did.
“How did he get the lords to agree to it?” Frawley asked, as she watched her husband sink down into a chair that sat in the right hand corner of the room next to a dark, looming wardrobe that only served to make the room feel even more cramped. “Those princes will usually be damned if they listen to a word the other says.”
“The Rite representatives,” Cassian announced with a heavy sigh, wishing he too would give in to the temptation to sink down and sit somewhere. Next to Nesta, ideally. “All of them were lordlings who met with Kallon all those months ago. And the worst thing about it all is that Lorrian and I swayed the vote in Kallon’s favour. He played us and we walked straight into his damn den. It made us look as if we were agreeing with him for the sake of politics, rather than because we thought it ourselves.”
Which was the irony of the situation, Cassian thought to himself grimly. Cassian had been worried for a long time about the unnecessary loss of further lives due to the Blood Rite. Had been losing sleep over it, just as his nightmares continued to plague him whenever he did succumb to the clutches of the unconscious. There was already so much ash of flesh and bone on Cassian’s hands from when he had deserted his legion for desperate screams. And now… he was existing on stolen time—a time which had been bought by a female who at the end of it all, had not accepted his heart.
“Every word of Kallon’s appeal resonated with the Lords,” Lorrian told Nesta and Frawley as he ran his hands over his face… over his dark, close-cropped hair and the nicked scars on his scalp. “He played upon the sentiment that is already festering inside so many of the Fae in Illyria. That the Night Court uses our warriors for their own gain in war but does not care about them in the interim.”
“And then Kallon presented them with the damn sword,” Cassian growled, clenching his fists at the memory.
Frawley’s eyes gleamed so brightly her irises turned glacial blue and amber. “You saw it up close?” she asked, leaning forward so eagerly from where she was sitting on the mattress that she near folded in half. “And what did you feel?”
“Ancient magic,” Lorrian replied grimly, even as his wife continue to stare at Cassian. “My own magic spiked at the sight of it. It was…” he broke off and shook his head, “It was odd. All of the lords could feel it, I am sure of it. Not one of them disputed that it was Enalius’s.”
Cassian remembered the way his siphons had throbbed and the ruby star over his chest had pulsed so fiercely it felt like a second heart—as if it were answering a silent call that even he couldn't hear. Only Nesta’s power had made Cassian feel like that before. It didn’t matter if it was silver fire or healing light, Nesta’s magic called to him, chanting and moaning until he thought he might combust from it.
But Cassian did not say any of that. Had barely dared to admit it to himself, let alone voice it out loud. So, instead, he flared his siphons and rummaged through the travel bag which appeared on the upholstered bench at the foot of the bed.
His fingers found the book without having to search for it, his callouses brushing against soft brown leather. He pulled out Heroicis, the gold-lettering on the cover shimmering as he flipped it open to peel back the delicate pages.
It was easy to find the illustration of the sword. Cassian had stared at the drawing so many times the book wanted to be opened to that page.
He placed the book down on the vanity.  “It looked exactly like that,” he announced wearily, waving a hand to the illustration. “Except the jewel is missing.”
The rustle of clothing sounded as three Fae moved towards him. Cassian did not turn but he scented all three of them. Lorrian’s gentle rush of heat and sandalwood. Frawley’s damp forest earth after rain and air streaked with fire smoke. And then Nesta. She had drawn up to his left, but he would have known where she was in a room without scent or sight. Yet, he allowed himself the privilege of scenting her all the same, as that rush of her became sharper and more focussed, like a blade narrowing to an essential point: jasmine and vanilla and Nesta.
Rivalling most Fae in height, Nesta’s head barely reached his shoulder. Cassian desperately wanted to wind his arm around her and pull her close, but out of the public eye they were no longer pretending. He didn’t want to push the boundaries that were already so brittle. Would not disrespect Nesta by overstepping the mark. Not unless she indicated she wanted it otherwise.
So, Cassian pushed away the stark vision of him moulding her to his body, or the way he had bowed earlier to press his lips to her knuckles. Tried not to ponder over the temptation of brushing his lips over her cheek by the end of their visit…
“I did not expect a General to carry epic poetry,” Frawley drawled in amusement, but there was an edge to her voice that told Cassian she was holding something back.
Lorrian snickered at his wife and did what Cassian had yearned to do to Nesta—he dropped a kiss to the top of her white head. The Colonel had used his siphons to peel back his armour as soon as the door had closed behind them. With it, his arm had disappeared, and the Colonel looked more like himself.
“Well, witch,” Cassian demanded with forced lightness, “is this an accurate depiction?”
“It is the only illustration I have ever seen that is correct,” Frawley said simply, her head cocked to the side so the white of her hair fell in an impossibly straight stream. The strands shimmered pearlescent in the light. The colour was almost otherworldly.
“Did you find anything out from the females?” Lorrian asked. He was rubbing over the stub of his limp, as if it was causing him phantom pain, his expression drawn tight.
The change of subject wasn’t as abrupt as it seemed. Cassian knew why Lorrian was asking. If they found anything incriminating against Kallon or the Ironcrest clan, it would aid them in stifling the rebellion that at this point seemed inevitable.
A fierce flare of pain wrangled through Cassian’s gut and his head snapped to Nesta, but she was staring fixedly at the book.
Lorrian had also turned sharply to Nesta, his eyes wide. His hand dropped from where he had been trying to ease the pain from his arm and his expression, although surprised, was free of any discomfort.
“Thank you,” Lorrian said quietly.
There was a pause that stretched out too long. All of them were silent, but Nesta dipped her chin without turning her head.
“The females didn’t speak beyond polite conversation,” Frawley began, steering all of their attention from Nesta. “But I did mention the kerit attacks on the widows camps.”
“Did you pick up any emotion?” Cassian asked Nesta.
“Yes,” Nesta replied, but her shrug dismissed the notion that she may have felt anything prominent. “Fear, disgust, anger towards the attacks. Most of it low level.”
Cassian frowned. “I suppose the attacks have not hit Ironcrest. They have not experienced the damage first hand.”
“There was a spike of horror and despair,” Nesta told him. “From someone. But I couldn't place it. It came from behind me and by the time I had turned the emotion had gone.”
Cassian stared down at Nesta. “Did you scent it? The insignia behind the emotion?”
Nesta shook her head. “All of the scents were jumbled. I got a flash of something, but I couldn’t—” Nesta stopped abruptly and her beautiful face twisted into a dissatisfied grimace. “If I sensed it again, I might recognise it, but—”
Already Cassian knew she was punishing herself. He refrained from putting a hand on her shoulder in silent reassurance.
“Even a Fae with years of practice would find it difficult to associate the source of an emotion in a crowded room,” Frawley said with a dismissive wave of her hand, as if she too knew that Nesta would not stop the self-blame. That it would rage internally until it consumed her. “You do not have eyes in the back of your head.”
“And from Kallon?” Cassian asked, even though he suspected he already knew the answer, and that he wasn’t going to like it.
They all watched Nesta’s lips tighten into a thin line. Eventually, she said, “He likes my power.”
Cassian knew that expression. Knew from the way everything had gone very quiet that she had frozen him out so he would not know how the promise in those yellow eyes had turned triggered Nesta’s trauma.
But the problem was that Cassian had learnt to notice the slightest change in Nesta’s expression. Had catalogued every movement in the four months they had lived together, even when he didn’t know what it meant.
Frawley’s brown eye flicked to Cassian. Even behind the brisk facade, Cassian could tell she was worried about Nesta. Cassian wondered what they had spoken about whilst he and Lorrian had been gone. “What time is this dreaded dinner?” she asked.
“In an hour,” Cassian grimaced.
“And do you think the princeling will be carrying the sword with him, now he has confirmed the rumours?”
Lorrian grunted a laugh. Cassian wondered if he, too, was thinking of the way Kallon’s eyes had gleamed triumphant. How tempting it had been to smack the princeling around the face. “I think we can count on it.”
 *** 
An hour later, the same servant escorted the four of them down the warren corridors to dinner.
Both Lorrian and Cassian had discarded their full-scaled armour for tunics layered with a stainless steel cuirass over the top. That, coupled with plates and fingerless leather gauntlets on both of their hands, allowed Cassian and Lorrian to showcase their siphons. The light-weight pieces of armour were made of the usual Illyrian scales, and whilst the armour was more ornamental than for the purpose of fighting, Rhys had worked his magic so it was as indestructible as carbon steel, if not more.
Lorrian’s right arm was back and glowing. Cassian understood why his friend wanted to face the vultures with all of his limbs, but he wished he could take Lorrian’s shame away. He supposed there was nothing to be done but to hope that time led to acceptance. Already Lorrian had come a long way. Had even started training with Cassian without his arm, learning to wield a sword with his left-hand should the occasion every call for it.
It was that willingness to adapt that reminded Cassian why Lorrian was an exceptional warrior. Why he would conquer where others would fail. The Colonel would be prepared for every scenario. Would know how to balance his body with and without a limb.
Opponents would not expect it. It would give Lorrian the upper hand in battle, rather than showcasing a weakness that anyone who knew about his limb would expect.
It meant that if Lorrian’s siphons ever became drained, that he could still fight.
Nesta and Frawley had also changed for dinner, even though the witch had grumbled at having to dress up for company she would rather obliterate from Prythian. Unsurprisingly, Nesta had only grown more divine with a change of clothes, but she had barely spared him a glance as she looped her hand through his arm.
Which, Cassian thought, had been just as well, because he had not been able to stop his eyes from darkening and his wings from rustling at the sheer sight of her.
Now, Nesta held onto him as they followed the backs of Lorrian and Frawley from where they walked in front of them. The two of them had fallen slightly behind, most likely because of their hesitancy to fling themselves back in the path of the vultures that were Marsh and Kallon.
And, Cassian admitted, because he had purposefully shortened his stride so he could glance surreptitiously at Nesta—at the dark, deep forest green of her long-sleeved dress, which had actually stopped Cassian’s heart and made his breath catch in his throat. Something which he knew Lorrian had clocked but had decided not to mention— thank the Cauldron.
The top half of the velvet material wrapped around Nesta’s every curve, before it billowed out softly at the hips into an A-line skirt. At her chest—which was bared rather than hidden away—the silver chain of the pyrite necklace fell tauntingly below the v-neckline.
Cassian thanked his lucky stars and the Gods combined that he could not glimpse her cleavage.
“Want to go home yet?” Cassian murmured, breaking their silence.
They had barely spoken since the luncheon and certainly not alone. Nesta had not commented when she had emerged from their bedroom. Had not mentioned the single bed that had taunted him when he had first entered to change.
Cassian had ensured they were not in the room at the same time. Was actually terrified to close himself into such a small and cramped space with her.
The way in which Nesta did not look up at him as he spoke told Cassian that she was very far away. Her huffed breath was practically inaudible, and she had an almost unreachable air about her that told him that for some reason, her trauma had caught up with her.
So, Cassian did what he did best. He decided to rile her.
“You’re going to have to lower your shields,” he warned her.
The slightest of frowns graced Nesta’s expression as they came to the end of a corridor and entered the vast landing that graced the first floor. Here, the flagstone floor was layered with a carpet runner that was dappled in brown and white, like the feathers of a hawk-crested eagle. “I’m aware,” Nesta clipped, that chin of hers raising as her back straightened.
Cassian brought a hand up to cover hers. Anything to get her to look at him. “You can stay in the room if you’d prefer,” he said quietly.
Those tempting lips thinned into a straight line. She turned her head away from him, so he could only see the intricate braid that weaved a halo around her head. “No, I can’t,” Nesta replied shortly.
She was not wrong. Cassian would not leave her deep in the mountain where he could not protect her. Even if that meant taking her to a place where her trauma would intensify.
He hated himself for it.
“I won’t let him harm you. I won’t let them touch you.” The words came out fiercer than he had intended, even if his voice was a low rumble.
There must have been enough urgency in his voice, because finally Nesta twisted her head to look up at him. Those eyes were a little less hollow. “I know,” she replied simply. Her eyes slid to a spot past his head. “I might harm them, though.”
A dark, please laugh issued from his throat, even as he wished that mercury would slide over the frosty blue of her irises. Nesta had issues summoning her magic when she succumbed to the numbness, and Cassian did not want her in this Gods damned awful place without her power at her disposable.
“I look forward to seeing it,” he responded smoothly, but his heart fell as she turned away from him again.
Desperation clawed at his insides—at the bond which was constricted by ice—that the next words left him without contemplating the gravity of them. “Are you wearing that dress to taunt me, Nesta?”
Nesta’s eyes snapped to his so quickly that everything in him jolted. A dim light throbbed in the depth of her gaze. “Excuse me?”
“This dress,” he said in a low confession, “has become my favourite thing.”
An unamused snort, even as a glimmer of embarrassment forced its way down their bond. It was fleeting and barely there, but Cassian felt it. Grasped for it. “Your favourite thing is chocolate.”
“My favourite thing is you,” he corrected, scarcely believing his loose tongue. He made his eyes glint playfully. “Chocolate is a close second.”
“In fact,” he mused after a moment’s pause. “The two together—”
“In your dreams,” Nesta snapped, her words coming out so sharply and with such aggression that both Frawley and Lorrian’s heads whipped round to stare at them.
Cassian grinned wolfishly, watching Lorrian shake his head at the obvious fire in Nesta’s eyes. The fire that Cassian was doing everything to rally.
Both of his friends had noticed Nesta turn silent in the hour before dinner, but neither of them had uttered a word. They understood the peaks and troughs—the challenges of life when things became too hard.
“That comeback again, sweetheart? I’d have thought you’d have something more original by now.”
“You are insufferable,” Nesta clipped. And at her hands… a wisp of that mist.
“Do you not like being complimented” Cassian taunted, stifling the way his blood soared at the faint pink that stained her cheeks—another blessed reaction.
Together they descended the elaborately wide staircase, moving slowly to accommodate for Nesta’s skirts. Usually, Cassian had no time for impractical attire, but he had long learnt that Nesta could wear whatever she liked and he would accommodate it, no matter how ill-thought-out. 
Nesta’s grip on his arm tightened into a death grip.
She was not looking at him again. Deliberately avoiding his gaze, even as his eyes did not once stray from her face, his legs carrying him blindly as he furiously scanned her for expression.
Finally, Nesta said with a quiet that did not lack in intensity, “A compliment isn’t true if it’s designed to be a distraction.”
Cassian huffed a breath of laughter. Of course, she had seen right through him. Yet…
He dared to lean towards her, to close the distance between them so he could murmur into her elegantly tipped ear. “It was a distraction,” he confessed honestly as they turned down the corridor that led off to the right-hand side of the foyer, “but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true, does it?”
Blue, smoky eyes latched onto his, Nesta’s chin tilting upwards to meet his gaze. It was a torturous form of bliss, the movement bringing her face far too close to his. She stared at him and he stared right back, even as his heart thumped hard against his ribcage.
He lowered his head further. Watched Nesta’s eyes widen ever so slightly as he closed the distance between them. She had stilled completely, halting them just outside of the dining room.
This time he allowed his lips to ghost her ear. Let the Illyrian roll of his tongue and savoured her suppressed shiver. The spark of something which wound itself around his ribcage. “After you, amore.”
Cassian made himself wink as he straightened up, as if he were entirely unaffected by her proximity.
And then he steered her into the dining room.
 ***
Dinner was worse than Cassian had anticipated, and by the time the four of them arrived back at their suite, none of them were bothering to hide their exhaustion. The door had barely shut behind them when Frawley brusquely announced that the sword which had been showcased at the dinner was undoubtedly Enalius’s, before she disappeared into her room with Lorrian following closely behind.
The first thing Cassian had done upon entering he and Nesta’s shared room was to flop onto the bed. Dealing with Lord Marsh was trying at the best of times, but tackling Lord Marsh, Kallon and the other arrogant lords, as well as the drama that came with it… Cassian had been fighting a headache all day and the pressure was now a keen, insistent throb behind his eyes.
That, coupled with a tense dinner that had slowly chipped away at his pain threshold, had Cassian desperately wanting to slide beneath the sheets and succumb to sleep.
To Cassian’s surprise, Marsh had not been present at dinner, and from the way that Kallon sat unfazed at the head of the table, Cassian gathered that it was not an unusual occurrence.
Kallon had held audience with an ease that had rivalled Rhys when he was playing cruel High Lord during a visit to the Hewn City, and apart from the shadows of servants lining the walls, no other lords and ladies had been present at dinner. It had been a surprising move. Cassian had expected Kallon to parade and taunt in front of the watchful eyes of the Illyrian nobility, who would no doubt disappear later to whisper into others ears…
But, instead, it had only been the five of them. That had been enough to tell Cassian that whilst Kallon might have no qualms in wielding words as vicious as Nesta’s, he also did not believe he could control the tongues of those he was dining with. That he knew that despite the sword that lay gleaming on the gilded cushion further down the table, that they his company had the capability of maiming him if they saw fit. Something which Kallon could not afford given his victory earlier that afternoon.
This fear came to a conclusion halfway through their main course, when Kallon deigned to insinuate that females were not designed to wield a sword.
“Are you saying,” Nesta asked with a deathly sort of calm that had Cassian tensing, “that you do not deem females worthy of protecting themselves?”
“I think that the Night Court should protect the entirety of its court so the females don’t have to worry about protecting themselves,” Kallon had responded swiftly, his sharp knife slicing into his bloody steak as if it were nothing but butter.
“What you are saying,” Frawley corrected, her voice brusque and hard, “is that you do not  see females as having any other purpose than bearing younglings.”
“Is that not their purpose?” Kallon had challenged. He paused, surveying all of their faces with a grim sort of satisfaction, before he had pressed on, “Is that not what is needed for a race who has lost more males in this war than it has seen in hundreds of years?”
“A female’s worth is not found in their ability to reproduce,” Nesta had responded coolly. Her voice, Cassian had noticed, had dipped into the deathly sort of calm that usually preceded an outburst of flame. “In fact, I have not met one male in Illyria who is more worthy of learning how to wield a weapon than the females in Illyria’s camps.”
“And does that sense of worth extend to the males around this table?” Kallon had replied, his yellow eyes gleaming at a sudden opportunity. Like the rest of the residence, the dining room had been dimly lit, illuminated by faint faelight and the fire that raged in the hearth. It meant that shadows had crept across the walls and table as Kallon leant forward to where Nesta was sitting at his right. “I assume not, given your tendency to fuck anything that moves.”
The sentence was as abrupt as a slap to the face, but Nesta did not move. Did not give any indication that the princeling’s words had hit home, even as Cassian’s gut had wrenched.
“It is funny,” Nesta had mused icily, her voice as cold as the fiercest Illyrian winter, “that you should try to shame me, especially given that if I was a male, I am sure you would be praising me for such a consistent pursuit of pleasure.”
Carefully, Nesta had set down her goblet, her eyes boring into the princeling’s with such intensity that Cassian had been surprised that the male hadn’t burst into flame.
Other than Frawley’s snort of agreement, nobody had dared to move. Time had passed. Time in which Cassian vowed to remain steadfast to his silent promise that he should not interference unless it was absolutely necessary. Even as Kallon did not back down.
Together, they had all watched the princeling settle back into his chair with the relaxed sort of ease that had Cassian wanting to castrate him. “Perhaps then, I should surprise you by showing you my room in case you fancy pursuing some real pleasure later—”
“That is —” Cassian had started to snarled, banging a fist on the table just as Lorrian had growled, the sound a low, deep warning—
And that was when the entire room had glowed silver, the magic snapping around the room with such ferocity that it was like a whip cracking against bare skin.
When Nesta’s magic dropped—when Cassian’s blood had reduced to a simmer rather than boiling—Cassian realised that exercising her magic had been the perfect excuse for Nesta to silence the fire that had been crackling fiercely in the grate behind them. The fire from which Cassian had spent the entirety of the meal trying to shield her from as best as possible, his wing curled protectively around the back of her chair.
Even so, the showcase of Nesta’s power had been startling and undeniably effective. As Nesta’s temper had flared, that silver fire had ignited in the grate, swallowing the orange flames as mist wreathed up her arms, eddying around her at such speed that it began to seep across the table towards Kallon.
And the whole time Kallon’s eyes had gleamed. Not with fear, but with the kind of awe that Cassian felt when he’d first witnessed how magnificent Nesta was.
It had taken everything in Cassian not to leap across the table and rip the princeling’s head from his body. From the way Frawley was gripping Lorrian, it had seemed as if his friend felt the exact same way.
But to Cassian’s surprise, Nesta had only let out a low, cruel laugh which had sliced through any of Cassian’s intention to intervene.
Instead, he had watched, riveted as those eyes of pure mercury raked up and down Kallon’s body with a look of unbridled disgust. And when Nesta had spoken, her voice was as terrifying as the promise of death, “I would never deign to lower myself by sharing a bed with you,” she told Kallon, “and I certainly hope that no other female has been forced to endure it.”
Infuriatingly, Kallon had only let out a musical laugh rather than a snarled retort. “And I suppose you would rather pair yourself with a male who has nothing to give you—not a title or a name, only the promise of a cheap necklace. Perhaps that is why you seem to have no true inclination to secure your future with him.”
Then, Kallon had slowly dragged his eyes to Cassian. “I would have thought your role in leading the Night Court’s armies would pay better than that, General. But I suppose you can’t take the bastard out of the slums.”
It had been at that point that Nesta had found Cassian’s hand under the table. It had been the most careful of movements—unnoticeable to anybody but them. The clasp of her fingers around his and the easing of the pain and fury in his gut had been the only thing that had stopped him from either beating Kallon to a pulp or leaving the meal in a rage.
Both of which would only have allowed Kallon to emerge triumphant… So, they had eaten in the sort of tense silence, speared sporadically with the odd ferocious comment. And at the end of the table, that damned sword had lain on the gilded cushion, gleaming magnificently in the firelight, calling to Cassian’s power in a way that pulled at his skin…
Now, recollecting the monstrosity of the evening, Cassian wanted to ward away the feeling of unworthiness that still lay bitter on his tongue. There was also a sense of foreboding that he could not shake. A terrible knowledge that whatever he and Nesta had  constructed between them was something false rather than true.
There were so many cracks they had hastily tried to ignore. So many past actions that had been pushed to the background rather than being acknowledged.
Cassian didn’t know what would happen if they were addressed. If it would fling the two of them so far back into the past that it would shatter the present.
Yet… it seemed inevitable. A hulking, looming presence that clung to them like a shadow.
But for now… Cassian wanted lightness. He wanted to know that he and Nesta were ok. So he waved a hand tiredly at the room, and said, “Sorry we have to share.”
“It’s fine,” Nesta replied finally, as if she had been so far away it had taken her a while to rope herself back to reality.
Cracking open an eye, Cassian watched her close the bedroom door behind her. She had closed their bond as soon as they had left the dinner table. Cassian did not know if it was a deliberate move to shut him out, or just an attempt to sever any emotion. He knew she must be feeling raw. Lowering one’s shields did that, especially for Nesta, who felt more than everyone else. Azriel had warned him of that. Had confirmed what Cassian and Feyre had always thought. That Nesta’s gift expanded outside of the power she had clawed from the Cauldron. Something which had always existed inside of her but which had been magnified further when she was Made.
“I wouldn’t want my own room here,” Nesta elaborated when she caught him studying her.
Cassian watched Nesta’s ever perceptive eyes scan the room: the simple, whitewashed walls and the pine furniture. The room was of moderate size, although Cassian would wager that it wasn’t Lord Marsh’s biggest guest room. That silent rebuff hadn't gone unnoticed — not that Cassian cared. He had endured far worse conditions, after all.
Most of the floor space was taken up by the Illyrian bed, which was big enough for two sets of wings. Now, Nesta hovered beside it as if she were unsure what to do next. It was the most awkward he had ever seen her.
“By all means,” he drawled tiredly, waving to the other side of the mattress. He folded the wing that he had spread onto the other side—her side—of the bed, “I can sleep on the floor. Just...give me a moment.”
Ignoring his invitation, Nesta floated over to the dressing table instead. Propping his head under a bent arm, Cassian watched her as she started to slowly take the pins out of her hair.
For a long while, the clink of metal on wood was the only noise that filled the room, and Cassian was just about to ask Nesta how many gods damned pins she used, when she started to slowly unspool the hair from the top of her head. Jaw slightly slack, Cassian watched in awe as Nesta parted the thick strands of the braid with well-practiced hands. When she was finished, she began to brush it out, until the light brown strands shimmered gold in the faelight and the teeth no longer snagged on knows.
Cassian wondered if any male had ever seen her do this: the simple act of getting ready for bed. He hoped not. There was something intimate about watching Nesta let her hair down, as if every pin that came out of her head removed a little bit of that mask, revealing a younger, softer version of the hot-headed hellcat he usually had to contend with.
“You’re staring.”
The words clipped through the silence, as sharp as a cutting knife.
Well, perhaps she wasn’t a softer version, after all.
Cassian’s eyes slid to Nesta’s in the mirror. In the dim faelight, the blue of her irises had given way to a stormy, mesmerising grey. He made his lips pout, even as he imagined running his fingers through the soft strands. “Your hair looks prettier than mine.”
The faintest of smiles tugged at Nesta’s lips. It was slightly wicked, the only warning she gave him before she tossed him the ivory-handled brush.
Cassian’s hand snapped up, catching the brush inches from his face, his eyes never straying from hers.
His grin was triumphant and when Nesta rolled her eyes at him, the gesture so uncharacteristically playful, satisfaction burned through every pore, every fibre of his being.
How far they had come.
“Then brush it, you stupid brute. I won’t deny that it needs it.”
Cassian laughed throatily—the first true laugh he had let loose that day. “I thought you liked my rugged looks?”
A soft, unimpressed snort. “A wholly made up notion.”
He watched Nesta rummage through her travel bag and pull out a white cotton nightdress and some toiletries, before disappearing into the adjoining bathroom. He brushed his hair whilst the water ran and then peeled off his clothes, baring his skin to the chill air.
The glare Nesta sent him when she reemerged would have sent a lesser male scarpering. It made him wonder how any of the males she had bedded had even made it home with her in the first place. She crossed her arms defiantly over her chest, which only emphasised the swell of her breasts beneath the cotton. She was still wearing the pyrite, and the metal shone mockingly against her creamy skin—silver flecked with gold.
The sight of it so close to her cleavage had him biting back a groan.
Mother Above, he had to get a grip if they were going to sharing a room all night.
“You can’t wear night clothes like a normal person?” Nesta hissed at him.
With a taunting grin, Cassian rested a hand on a hip, highlighting his tight undershorts. He refrained from flaring his wings—largely because the space did not accommodate for it. “I usually sleep nude sweetheart, which would you prefer?”
And then, not waiting for her to start on him, he headed straight for the bathroom, making sure their skin brushed as he passed.
To his delight, Nesta’s angry snarl chased him until he closed the bathroom door firmly behind him.
When he reappeared five minutes later, Nesta was already under the covers with her nose buried in a book. Silent, silver flames licking fiercely up the chimney from the open fire grate. The heat was fiercely warm and very welcome, especially given that this deep underground, there was little warmth to be found. The heat sunk deliciously into his skin, and Cassian flared his wings slightly to fight the goosebumps that were scattered across the sensitive membrane.
Since Nesta had lit the torch at the widows funeral, she had taken to lighting the fires throughout the house, and Cassian had become so used to the glow of silver flames in every fire grate around the house that he barely bat an eyelid.
It warmed him, though, to see the house alight with silver and warmth. To see Nesta unafraid and relaxed. To see her sit near the fire, rather than as far away from it as possible.
“I didn’t see you sneak a book into the bag,” Cassian commented, as he pulled a blanket from the wardrobe and pulled on some loose pants. He had been teasing her before about sleeping in his undershorts. He’d mainly wanted to pull a reaction from her, to see how she would respond to his bare skin.
Her hiss had been satisfying enough. Not that Cassian hadn’t hoped for more. A too long glance, or even better, a blush.
Nesta didn’t glance up at Cassian as she turned the page. “You should know better than to think I’d travel without a book.”
He watched her eyes move across the page, utterly absorbed. Her long hair fell over her face and unconsciously she tucked the strand behind an elegantly arched ear. A signature move of hers, however unconscious, that he had yet to name. It was fast becoming one of his favourites.
Nodding, Cassian reached for the pillows on his side of the bed to distract himself from looking at her. Her next words made him pause.
“Just stick to your side.”
Nesta did not look up. She gave none of her focus to him yet she must have been watching him out of the corner of her eye.
“I don’t mind,” he reassured her after a moment.
A flip of a page. “There’s no room for your wings down there.”
She was right. It was a tight enough squeeze for his body let alone the wings on his back, and the blanket would do little to protect him from the cold flagstone floor. Cassian had endured far worse of course, but the thought of tucking his wings in that tight all night... well, he’d suffer for it tomorrow. And even though he knew sleeping an arms length away from her would be torture of a different kind...
“Thank you,” he conceded softly.
No acknowledgement, yet… this was progress. Only months ago, Nesta would have made him sleep on the cold just to watch him suffer.
A contented groan escaped him as the mattress moulded to his sore back. He rolled onto his side, flaring his wings to settle behind him and examined her.
The faded paperback Nesta was reading was well-worn. Many of the pages were dog-eared and Cassian knew that he’d seen her curled up with it before. He craned his neck in an attempt to try and read the title on the spine. He would bet good money it was a love story. No, he would bet his entire wealth that it was a love story.
It was quick, but he caught Nesta’s darting glance. It was enough for him to break the silence.
“Why do you read romance novels?”
A burning question Cassian had wanted to ask her more times than he could count. On both hands.
Not that he didn’t have his own theory on that.
“Why do you read books about war?” Nesta countered.
A slow, taunting smile. “I asked you first, sweetheart.”
Nesta rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Why can’t I read them?”
Cassian bit back a growl of frustration. “You can read whatever you like. What I mean is why do you enjoy reading romance novels so much?”
Nesta bookmarked her page with a scarlet ribbon—a gesture at odds with the earmarked pages—and placed it on the nightstand with a sigh. “I revoke my offer, you can sleep on the floor.”
“But what about my poor wings,” he whined.
“Feyre’s right, you really are Illyrian babies.”
Cassian scowled. “I’m full of testosterone, thank you very much.”
Nesta snorted. “Rumour has it that Azriel has the largest wingspan.”
The soft snarl that tore out of Cassian’s mouth surprised even him. He hadn’t made the noise deliberately, it had been completely unconscious, just as much as the next words out of his mouth. “Would you like me to prove you wrong, Nesta?”
His voice had turned low and husky without his bidding, as if it had done so purely on instinct. Maybe allowing himself to get in the same bed as Nesta had been a mistake. The scent of her was enough to cloud his judgement and this close... He could have his mouth on hers in seconds.
“I’d like anything but, actually,” Nesta clipped, completely unfazed by his act of dominance. “Besides, males seem to forget that it’s style over substance.”
Propping himself up on an elbow, Cassian leant towards her. He arched an eyebrow at her, his expression cocksure. Somehow, his headache had completely vanished. “Lucky for you, I have both.”
Nesta’s groan was one of long suffering. She reached to undo the clasp of the chain around her neck.
“Don’t take it off.”
Nesta’s head snapped round to his, his sudden command at odds with their banter. He held up his hands, the two ruby siphons glinting from where they sat firmly on the leather straps.
“We’re in that much danger?” she asked.
Cassian sunk back down onto his side, “I’m not taking any chances, and... I won’t be able to sleep if I know you’re not wearing it.”
Nesta’s lips parted slightly but her hands slowly withdrew from her neck. The stone glinted briefly against Nesta’s skin and then she extinguished the lights.
The soft flicker of silver that glowed from the hearth was the only reprieve from the darkness that fell across the room. Cassian wondered if flames would go out when Nesta fell asleep or if they would keep on burning.
The sheets rustled as Nesta got comfortable. In the following silence, Cassian could make out the reassuring thump of her heart. It wrapped around his own, the feeling a comfort until his breathing slowed and his muscles relaxed.
“He’s horrible,” Nesta said suddenly into the darkness.
“Marsh?” Cassian asked, but he knew who she meant. Wasn’t sure why he didn’t say it out loud.
“Him too, but I meant Kallon.”
Cassian grunted in agreement. Then, he dared to say, “He’s taken a liking to you.”
Revulsion forced its way down their constricted bond and into his gut.
Cassian didn’t need to look at Nesta to know her expression was hard. “He’s a pig-headed Illyrian brute.”
A flicker of a smile tugged at Cassian’s mouth, despite the subject. “I thought I was a pig-headed Illyrian brute?”
“Then I’ll have to rework my insults for you in light of recent events.”
Cassian barked another true laugh. Would Nesta ever stop surprising him? He suspected that if they were to spend a lifetime together, he would never grow bored. Would never be tempted to look in another female’s direction.
“I feel both triumphant and expectant,” he confided, before he sobered. “You didn’t have to defend me, earlier. I’m used to the comments. It doesn’t matter what I do, but my race will always see me as a bastard first and a General second. Being coupled with you is not something they will ever believe I deserve.”
More rustling of the sheets as Nesta turned onto her side to face him. Through the shadows, Cassian’s Fae eyesight could make out Nesta’s eyes staring directly at him. Even in the muted light, they were mesmerising. “I had a pretence to upkeep,” she replied shortly, as if that explained everything. But then her voice became so quiet that his ears strained to hear her. “You’re worth more than them.”
Usually, Cassian would have teased Nesta for voicing something so groundbreaking, but in this room—in this shared bed—the words dissolved on his tongue. He was momentarily speechless, so much so that the silence became awkward and weighted. His family had attempted to address his insecurities before, but it had never been enough to quash the beliefs that had been drummed into him from a young age. Cassian, too proud to succumb to the seriousness of the conversation, had brushed his family off until they left him well alone.
Azriel was the only one who truly understood; it was why he had never seen himself worthy enough to pursue Mor.
By the time Cassian summoned the courage to open his mouth, Nesta was already speaking, “How do they know about the war?”
The question made his heart stop. Not just because Nesta had mentioned a subject they usually stayed well clear of, but because, for the first time, she was addressing what had happened between them on the battlefield.
“I don’t know,” he admitted softly, ignoring the way his heart had begun to hammer in his chest. “By the time the healer had mended my wings everyone was talking about it. I think a conversation must have been overhead by a healer.” He paused, hoping Nesta might speak again. When she didn't, he added, “I was… very angry when I found out.” He palmed a hand over his face to try and soothe away the nerves that were humming agitatedly inside of him. He had done his best to ignore the whisperings behind his back.
It hadn’t been hard at first. The aftermath of the war had taken all of his attention. He had barely had time to eat and sleep, let alone digest the gravity of what others had found out. Not that he had gotten the gist of it in drabs: the entirety of the Night Court knew of how they had defended one another; how Nesta had been willing to die with Cassian when she could have run.
They did not know what he had promised. That he had kissed her, even though they were calling it the greatest love story in centuries. Cassian would never forget how Nesta had lain over him when she’d had the chance to run, and the urgency to her voice—the way it had cracked—as she had said; I can’t.
It was those two words which hounded Cassian the most, because even now, he did not know whether Nesta had said that because she hadn’t wanted to leave him, or because she had no choice.
“I assumed it was my sister and her loose mouth.”
Nesta’s words startled Cassian, bringing him back to the dark room rather than the muddy battlefield where his body was broken but his heart was full and aching. And in truth, Cassian had expected Nesta to draw a line under the conversation by ignoring him and feigning sleep, the next morning a fresh page where they need not bring up the previous night’s discussion.
Despite the dark, Cassian nodded, even though he was unsure as to whether Nesta could see it.
He had considered the same about Feyre. Not on purpose, of course, but by mistake. Feyre had been a witness. The original witness. “One thing I’ve learnt growing up Fae is that there are eyes and ears everywhere,” Cassian said eventually. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t prefer having my business kept to myself.”
Cassian knew Nesta was fiercely private, far more than him. Was it that invasion coupled with the monumental pressure that came with being spoken about by Fae and humans alike, as they whispered about the greatest love story in Prythian—the lowly bastard and the human Made Fae—that had been the final straw for her? Or had it been the death and destruction which had slammed the door shut on something as naive and fanciful as love?
The desperation to know—to understand—was so fierce that Cassian could not stop himself from asking what he had never dared, “Is that why you wanted nothing to do with me?”
A long, stony silence that eventually began to simmer with anger. Cassian did not know if it was the audacity of him having asked or for bringing unwanted memories to the surface.
Finally, Nesta clipped, “I wanted nothing to do with someone who treated me as second best.”
The icy dismissal in Nesta’s tone had goosebumps rising on Cassian’s bare arms. Recently their conversations had been a torturous, delicious heat rather than frosty, but this delivery… it made Cassian feel as if he had stepped back into the past.
They were going there then. A conversation Cassian never dreamed they would have. Yet here they were... and suddenly he was so terrified it would ruin everything he wished it would stop, even as he asked in a low voice, “In what capacity?”
Snapped words like the crack of a whip. “In every capacity. Let me go to sleep.”
“Nesta,” Cassian pressed, not caring that it was dangerous. Desperate to try and understand why they were not together when his entire body was begging him to close the distance. He knew she must feel it too. Hoped that she did. That it was not just a wishful fantasy on his part. Cassian had always thought their chemistry undeniable. It was what scared him.
It never went away, the wanting.
“What do you mean second best?” he urged.
“The fact that you do not know shows how stupid you are,” Nesta replied coldly, turning away from him, signalling that the conversation was over. Through the shadowy dark, Cassian could make out the slope of her shoulder and the outline of her curvaceous side. The spill of her hair, a tempting drape across the pillow.
He curbed most of the desperation that wanted to creep into his voice. “You are speaking of Mor.”
An abrupt snort of confirmation.
“Mor is my family,” Cassian said carefully, even though he knew his words would not convince Nesta.
“Your dynamic is not familial.”
“Not at the start, no,” Cassian admitted, rolling onto his back and staring at the ceiling. To give himself distance. Because he could not bear to stare at her turned back as she tried to shut him out. “We slept together once when we were very young. It has never been repeated.” He blew out a long breath as he ran a hand over his face, trying to smooth over his pained expression. “She used me to lose her maidenhead. I don’t know how much you know, but Mor was mutilated by her family for it—she was dumped in the Autumn court with a note nailed to her womb for her betrothed to find her. It collapsed her marriage proposal and I have been responsible for that mutilation every day since, not least for driving a wedge between me and my brother.”
As he trailed off, the blankets moved and to his surprise, Nesta’s shoulder dipped slightly towards him. He’d clearly piqued her interest. “You mean Azriel.”
“Yes,” Cassian admitted bitterly. “I slept with Mor because I was a jealous prick and Az was besotted with her. His diverted attention made me feel like I had lost my brother and I thought it would make him move on.” Loosing another sigh, Cassian rubbed his tired eyes with the heel of his palms. “I grew up alone, so when I moved in with Rhysand’s mother and Azriel joined us… he and Rhys were the closest I had ever had to a real family. When we were a three, it was the first time I remembered being truly happy. Mor threatened that, so I did what I thought would remedy it. I was a naive, arrogant prick and bedding Mor is a regret that I have lived with ever since.”
Pausing, Cassian took in a deep breath. He’d never voiced any of this out loud before. It had always been something he and his family did not discuss out in the open, not until recently with Mor, anyway. And he had not gone into so much depth.
He hoped that Nesta understood what it had meant for him to be happy for the first time, when before that he had been miserable and alone. Nesta herself had confessed to Frawley that she did not know when she had last felt joy, but then Cassian had felt it the other day, the sensation so wonderful in her stomach he felt as if he had been knocked of breath. He had flown to find her, followed that tether between them that was more visceral than he had ever felt it, before he realised that this was not his moment to experience. So he had turned around in the skies, headed back home, waited to see Nesta later. Her face had been flushed and she was dirty from a day of helping in the widows camp… but her face, it was free of that mask. With it, her expression was less severe and the light in her eyes made her irises a shade lighter. It was the most beautiful thing Cassian had ever seen. And when she had seen him, she had smiled without thinking. As if he, too, brought her joy.
It had been a quiet smile. Secret. His.
But where could Cassian even start to begin explaining the mess of the love triangle between Mor, Az and himself? Of the guilt he felt for a few minutes of pleasure which nearly costed Mor her life.
A bitter laugh escaped his lips. “I felt so much guilt over what I had done—over what happened to Mor and for betraying Azriel like that—I spent the next five hundred years doing everything I could to make things easier between them. Azriel doesn’t think he is worthy of Mor and Mor isn’t interested. So I stepped in when I could… I eased the tension. I let Mor use me as a buffer and it just… it became a bad habit. We fell into an unusual friendship. Mor can be very protective of me.” He sighed again, pinching the bridge of his nose with his fingers. “I can see how things were misconstrued. I think about it a lot, Nesta. I think about it all the time.”
Only silence met his confession.
“Things won’t be like that anymore,” he pressed on. Because he needed Nesta to understand that Mor was not in the equation—that she never had been—even though he was sure he and Nesta would never be anything but two Fae forced into close quarters. “Mor has finally been honest with Azriel.”
No reply. Nesta had turned preternaturally still again, as if she weren’t breathing.
“Nesta?"
“What.”
It was only one word but it was more vicious than anything she had said to him in months.
He felt his blood heat as he propped himself up onto an elbow. “Are you going to say anything or are you going to ignore me and pretend this conversation never happened?”
Nesta’s body moved slightly beneath the sheets as her muscles seized up. “I don’t think any of it matters now, so it’s not relevant.”
“It has always been relevant to me.” Cassian’s voice came out as a low hiss, his self-control snapping as his vulnerability became too much to bear. He threw a protective bubble around the room, sound proofing them inside. For the sake of their pretence, he couldn't have Fae ears overhearing their conversation. And… he could not bear Lorrian and Frawley overhearing something so painful. “You terrify me, Nesta, because I have never been so fucking captivated by anyone in the whole five hundred years I have been alive. From the very start you were different and it scared the shit out of me. My entire family knew it, too. I’m not a fan of everyone knowing my business, either, believe it or not, and they witnessed you putting me down at every step.”
Nesta’s snort was so cold that his entire blood heated fire. He was thankful for the dark to conceal how red his face has turned. He wanted to throttle her at the same time as he wanted to press her into the mattress and slant his mouth on hers. To show her that even now he only wanted her. That Mor meant nothing. Hadn’t for centuries. That he’d royally fucked up in so many ways that he didn’t even know how to start apologising.
“If you cared so much, perhaps you would not drop my hand when your friend enters the scene or gift her lingerie whilst I am in the same room. You are disgusting,” she spat. 
Then, Nesta was facing him again with such sudden speed that Cassian braced himself for an attack, but Nesta only propped herself up onto an elbow. Her hair fell like a curtain over her shoulder, the flare of silver from her fingertips lighting the room with a sudden brightness.
“You asked why I read romance novels,” Nesta said, her voice having dropped suddenly into a quiet fervour that was no less chilling. “I read them because I was engaged to a boy who turned out to be cruel and I have watched a five hundred year old male discard and ignore me as he pleased. I would rather read about love than be in it. After all, I recall you saying that I was not worthy of love.”
“Sweetheart—” Cassian croaked. The blood had drained from his face and he knew that if he were to look in the mirror all he would see was a haunted ghost of himself. “I’m sorry. It was wrong of me to say that. You were so empty. I couldn’t reach you and so I lied. I thought you’d get angry at me, but instead you just walked away.”
“You are not unloveable,” he told her fiercely, when she remained silent and so fiercely sad his heart clenched. He had not known that she was engaged to that human filth. “You are the exact opposite. If anything—”
He stopped abruptly. Took stock. Her light was still glowing around them, illuminating the room in an ethereal mist which he would have considered beautiful if the two of them hadn’t been consumed by such agony.
“You’re not unloveable,” he insisted vehemently, after a moment’s pause. “And love doesn’t work like that. You can’t choose not to love, sweetheart. You know—”
“We decide how we act on it, that’s what matters,” Nesta interrupted, that mist sparking momentarily into flame before it was eaten by shadow.
And that was the crux of it. The truth behind the words—the calculated response that told Cassian that Nesta had thought of this over and over again. He would not change her mind when it came to him, because it all boiled down to her ability to choose. And he was not a choice. He had been thrust upon her. They were history rather than present. Would always be that way, it seemed.
Cassian fell onto his back as the gravity of the realisation crushed him with such force that for a moment, he felt as if he was choking.
“It was wrong of me to do those things,” Cassian said quietly, forcing out the hoarse words through the tightness in his windpipes as a result of the crushing disappointment. “All of it was wrong of me. I know that, Nesta. You may think I’m old but around you I find myself a teenager.  On Solstice last year I didn’t know how to deal with the situation so I ignored you before you could do it to me and then regretted it later. I hoped you would speak to me. I hoped—”
That you would change your mind. That you would want to be with me. That you would stop fucking all those males. That you would forgive me.
But Cassian did not say those things. Instead, he said, “Look, we just need to pretend to be together for one more day and then you don’t have to think about being tied to anyone ever again.”
Silence.
That as all he needed to move. Logic told him that he should stay put—that he should remain calm and rational rather than affected—but the pain was too much and he found himself sitting up and pushing off the covers. He needed distance. In this room all he could scent was her—jasmine and vanilla—and it hurt, to be so close and know that he could not comfort her without the knowledge that she’d set him alight.
Cassian had thought he’d drawn a line under it all. Thought he’d accepted that he was content to co-habit with her and resist the undeniable pull between them for the rest of his days. But they had taken such big steps forward recently. Had thought things had continually shifted until all it boiled down to was their connection, which ran far deeper than twists of rope and a damn Cauldron.
At times, Cassian had even thought Nesta had wanted him to touch her. Had almost leant in to him. Walked close, stayed close.
Snorting, he discarded the memories, angry at himself for having wished for something that he had tried to put to rest.
“Where are you going?” Nesta’s words were sharp. The fanciful part of him detected alarm, but Cassian pushed it away. He knew better.
“To sleep on the floor.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
Again, Nesta moved with that extraordinary speed that Cassian should have accounted for. He had seen her in the sparring ring, had witnessed her move so fast that she was almost a blur. Only he could move that fast.
A mist-wreathed hand closed around his wrist with a strength that had his heart beating in his mouth and his siphons flaring. “Stay.”
Cassian ran a shaking palm over his face, pressing the heel of it to his eyes, hoping the pain of it would ground him. “I can’t,” he lied.
“You can,” Nesta said shortly, but there was a quiet plea lacing her voice. “You will.”
When Cassian didn’t move, Nesta tugged on his arm, urging him to join her back on the mattress. “Please,” she breathed, and this time Cassian did detect panic, as if Nesta had not bothered to conceal it. “I don’t want to fight with you. You’re the only—”
To Cassian’s dismay, Nesta broke off as her eyes filled with tears. When she spoke, her words were barely audible—small, “I like my life at the moment. I’ve never liked it before.”
Something cracked inside of Cassian, the sound internal and akin to the smashing of china.
“I don’t want anything to change,” Nesta continued. “I don’t want to have to move back to Velaris. I want to stay with you where I feel safe.”
Her expression cracked. The tight line to her mouth trembled and a frown twisted across her features. A tear slid down her cheek. “I said awful things to you,” she admitted.
“Yes,” Cassian conceded with a sad, tremulous smile, because even now he did not want her to hurt. “And I said awful things to you.”
“I wanted you to leave me alone. You scared me.”
“I know,” he replied. Because he understood what she meant. How even though his blood sang when she was near, he was equal parts terrified. “You scared me, too.”
“I needed to make you leave.”
“I know,” he repeated again. Because he knew that, too. Knew she had purposefully driven him away. She had wanted to hurt and be consumed with trauma. To finally feel nothing. To make sure the those she cared for were safe from her.
A broken sob had Cassian cupping Nesta’s face before he could help himself. Her skin was unbelievably soft against his calloused palms. He brushed a thumb over the arch of her cheekbone. “Nesta,” he breathed, waiting until she looked at him, until blue and hazel clicked into place. “I want you to stay with me. You never have to move back to Velaris, not if you don’t want to.”
Nesta did not reply. Did not move away. He bowed his head until his forehead was resting against hers, wanting her to know that he was sincere. That he wanted her to stay not because that’s what she needed to hear, but because he didn’t know what life would be like without her in it.
“I like living with you,” he told her again, because he knew somehow that she didn’t believe it. “I don’t want you to leave, either.”
Then he pulled her to him. She didn’t resist, her body pliant as he wrapped his arms around her. Cassian could feel Nesta’s heart, the sound pattering to meet his, as she wound her arms around his bare waist.
Her furled fists rested lightly against his skin, the pressure welcome and wonderful as she finally held him back.
“So, you won’t sleep on the floor?”
Such a small voice. Vulnerable and trusting. A voice she didn’t use with anyone but him.
“No,” Cassian assured her, knowing that staying was something he would never refuse. Something he couldn’t. “I won’t sleep on the floor.”
When he lay on the edge of his pillow closest to hers, Nesta settled beside him. She found his hand beneath the blankets, her fingers threading through his.
The initiated contact had his blood thrumming and he resisted the urge to pull Nesta back to him and wrap her in his arms.
An indeterminate amount of time passed.
Cassian listened to Nesta’s breathing as it became even; the slow, relaxed beat of her heart. The sound of his, thumping in tandem. Watched her eyelids flutter shut and her features soften. Felt how her fingers remained entwined with his.
“We would have crashed and burned. I would have dragged you down.”
Quiet, sleepy words. A confession, really, and Cassian stilled in surprise at the honesty that was not spat or wringing with deadly venom, but level. And if Cassian allowed himself to be rational, he knew that Nesta was right. Despite the thorny, overgrown path they were trampling down, it had all been necessary. Trauma, internal conflicts, self-doubt, complicated relationships… there were so many things that the both of them had needed to face before they could be truly content. What was it Cassian had said to Rhys when his brother had asked about his happiness? I’m working on it. He still was, but with Nesta beside him, still holding tight to his hand, Cassian found the world a little brighter, despite the shadowy future that lay ahead of them—a shape that had not yet taken form.
So, Cassian allowed a small smile to creep onto his face. “Maybe I’d like to be set alight.”
A soft snort. “That doesn’t mean you should.”
Then, Nesta’s fingers squeezed his. Soft breath travelled across the pillow to caress his cheek. “Goodnight, Cassian.”
He wondered how many times Nesta had actually said his name without being in mortal danger or when she had needed to get his attention. His name sounded intimate on her lips, a whisper of a prayer across the void that he hoped was narrowing between them.
In his mind, Cassian raised her hand again to press a kiss to her knuckles, even as he merely tightened his hold on hers.
It was in that moment of calm that Cassian vowed that he would change Nesta’s mind. That he would spend this gifted time showing Nesta that they might be strung together but that he had chosen her, if she would have him.
In the flickering silver light, Cassian felt Nesta began to slip into unconscious. Felt her fingers loosen their grip on his, but he held on tight, and said, “Goodnight, Nesta.”
Tags: @arin1030 @superspiritfestival @sayosdreams @perseusannabeth @mylittlebigplanet @biggestwingspan-az @bellsqueen @ekaterinakostrova @bookstantrash @prophecyerised @rainbowcheetah512 @awesomelena555 @wannawriteyouabook @iammissstark @lovelynesta @melphss @nestalytical @darkshadowqueensrule @laylaameer01 @a-trifling-matter @grouchycritic7794 @thalia-2-rose @champanheandluxxury @swankii-art-teacher @princessconsuela02 @lavendergoomsltd @little-diyosa @princessofmerchants-reads @jeakat @sjm-things @imwritingthesewords @nestable @inejbrekkxr @silvernesta @inyourmindeye @amelie775  @iwastoowildinthe70s @helen-the-weirdo @pizzaneverdisappoints @san-y-a-blog 
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mochiusagifanficchaos · 5 months ago
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Crowley x Reader • You look like you've gone through hell•
Trigger Warning: mentions abuse and violence
This is an older fanfic I wrote some years ago but I still like the plot, please forgive me my shitty writing from back than 😂
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A door slammed loudly and woke you up, angry footsteps followed and something was thrown to the ground, shattering on the wooden floor.
You flinched and looked at your alarm clock on your nightstand with sleepy eyes: 2 o'clock in the morning...
The door to the bedroom was slammed open and you already knew what was going to happen.
Scared you hid under your blanket, acting as if you would sleep.
But your boyfriend didn't care about it. He grabbed you by your shoulder and pushed you out of the bed: "Make me something to eat!", he ordered as you whined because you had hit the nightstand with your shoulder.
Without a word you stood up and went downstairs in the kitchen, making a Peanut-butter-jelly sandwich and placing it on the table.
You heard your boyfriend stomping down the stairs and mentally prepared for whatever he might get angry with you again.
"Are you fucking kidding me?!", he yelled, pointing at the sandwich and threw the plate to the ground. "A sandwich?! I'm hungry and you dare to make me a sandwich?!"
With every word he walked nearer to you and was now standing right before you. You could smell the alcohol he had been drinking like every night and didn't dare to look him in the eyes. Angry he pushed you and you fell backward, hitting the oven behind you once again.
"Go and get me a pizza."
With tears in your eyes, you rushed into the bathroom. Your reflection in the mirror showed a pale girl with deep eye rings, bruises all over your body and a skeleton like build.
Tears swell up again as you saw yourself in such a bad state.
As tears rolled down your cheeks you asked yourself how it had come to this. When it had started that he hit you. When the good times had stopped. You sobbed and buried your face in your hands.
"(Y/N)!", you could hear him yelling out of the living room. "Go, now!"
Sniffing you pulled yourself together, wiping the tears away, put some makeup on and tied your hair into a messy bun before you walked out of the bathroom again.
Your boyfriend was sitting on the couch, watching some sort of porn and had another bottle of beer in his hand.
You opened the front door and the cool air hit you, immediately crawling under your t-shirt and sweatpants.
Shivering you walked through the empty streets, passing closed stores and full bars.
In front of one bar, you suddenly felt the urge to stop. You knew it wasn't a good idea to go drinking now since your boyfriend would beat the crap out of you when you come back in the morning but you didn't care right now. Determined you opened the door and walked straight to the counter, you sat down on one of the stools and studied the small menu, not sure what you wanted to order to drink yourself away.
"Two Whiskeys, please.", a deep voice next to you ordered and the next second you had one in front of you. Wondering you turned around to get a look at the man next to you.
He looked handsome with his black suit and his bristly beard, on his lips played a charming smile and he looked at you with mysterious eyes.
"Hello, darling", he greeted you and sipped at his Whiskey.
Suddenly you recognized the man. It had been years since you met him and you had nearly forgotten him but now he was sitting in front of you: Crowley, the King of the Crossroads.
"May I ask your name?", he asked politely, it seemed like he didn't recognize you yet, no wonder because of the way you looked now.
" It's (Y/N).", you smiled weakly.
This name rang a bell in his head, he narrowed his eyes and stared at you for a second before he finally recognized you: "(Y/N)?? My god, what happened to you?"
"Ironically for the king of the crossroad to talk about god", you chuckled, trying to change the subject.
" It's King of hell now.", he corrected you with a haughty look and crooked smile.
"Oh,", you answered in surprise. "So you moved up the ladder, huh?", you swayed the Whiskey in your glass, watching the liquid swirl.
"Now tell me what had happened to you. You look like you've gone through hell, and I must know it."
Sighting you took a long drink from your Whiskey before you cleared your throat: "My boyfriend became a pisshead and found fun in beating me up."
That was all you had to say about it, it explained everything and you rather stayed short about your problems since you didn't want any pity.
You gulped the rest of the whiskey down and felt the familiar burning in your throat. Crowley passed you his glass and you took it thankfully.
His face got serious: "Why haven't you left him?"
"I couldn't.", you replied between sips. " He is the only one left in my life. I would have nowhere to go and if I go who knows what he might do to me."
He looked at you as if someone had hurt his puppy: "Do you still love him?"
You needed to think for a moment, it wasn't easy to answer this question. You still loved the man he had been, when you looked at old pictures you felt butterflies in your stomach but then you looked at him now and it felt like somebody was stabbing those butterflies, leaving nothing but an empty feeling and sadness.
"No..", you answered Crowley's question with a shaking voice and attempted to gulp the rest of the Whiskey down again but Crowley stopped you, taking the glass out of your hand and putting it back on the counter: " Don't waste the good stuff, darling."
You sighed again, running your fingers over your face and through your hair.
"You know, I could help you.", he stated and you huffed amused: " I'm still not gonna make a deal, Crowley."
"How sad...But I already doubt it.", he said and stood up.
A feeling of disappointment grew inside you as you heard him walk away.
Maybe you should have made a deal. Crowley's hell couldn't be worse than your hell on earth.
You flinched as suddenly someone placed his hand on your hip and a hot breath brushed your right ear: " I'm still going to help you, love.", Crowley behind you whispered.
Your body tingled at his touch and his low voice like it hasn't done in years.
It felt so much better than the burning of whiskey in your throat.
"And how do you wanna do that?", you finally asked as the wave of desire had finally stopped rushing over you.
"Let's say...", he lightly kissed your neck. "He fell down the stairs and broke his spine..."
Crowley knew exactly damn well which buttons he needed to push to get the reaction out of you he wanted.
You bit your lip and inhaled sharply.
"Why would you do that for me? What are you hoping to get in return?"
He chuckled: "Oh, I already did it."
And with that, his hand left your hip and he was gone, leaving you uncertain about if he had said the truth.
Back at home, you found your boyfriend lying on the floor, unconscious but still breathing.
You called an ambulance and they first wanted to take you with them to take a look at your bruises and wounds but you were able to shrug them off.
Now you were sitting on the couch, staring into the black tv screen and didn't know what to do.
Meanwhile, Crowley visited your boyfriend in the hospital, he appeared in his room with a cocky grin on the face and his hands in the pockets of his black suit.
"Hello, Zac." [Let's just call him Zac], Crowley greeted and Zac jumped in surprise, letting out a quiet scream.
"What the hell?!", he yelled and threw a glass after Crowley, but he easily eschewed it.
" That's where I come from, I'm impressed you noticed it so fast.", Crowley chuckled and Zac looked at him with terror as Crowley's eyes switched to red and back.
"I heard you will never be able to walk again. Must be worse for a football player."
Zac stared at him with furious eyes, not really getting where this was going.
Crowley calmly walked towards the bed, Zac was sitting on.
"I could give you your legs back. You would be able to walk again and play football", Crowley's smirk grew as he saw how Zac was thinking about it. "What do you think?"
"What do you want in return?"
"Your soul."
Zac eyes narrowed in disbelief: "H-how?"
"Oh, you don't have to do anything for it. I'm just gonna claim it someday.", Crowley licked his lips, already knowing that Zac was about to say yes.
"Okay, deal.", he finally said and Crowley grinned once again. "I still can't feel my legs. Isn't the deal sealed yet?"
"It's sealed with a kiss."
"No way!", Zac shouted and Crowley sighted: "Normally our girl demons do the boys but there was no one available today, sorry."
With a disgusted expression, Zac pressed his lips onto Crowley's and pulled away fast.
"It was a pleasure to make a deal with you.", Crowley said and disappeared again.
At home you still sat on the couch, staring blankly at the tv screen.
Suddenly you heard a rustle behind you and turned around, only to see Crowly standing in the kitchen.
He had lifted his right foot and looked at it grossed out: " I knew it wouldn't be neat and tidy here because I haven't announced that I would come over but I wouldn't have expected that.", he said and pointed at the pb&j sandwich which was now sticking under his shoe.
A giggle escaped your mouth and he smiled softly at you before he whipped the sandwich away.
"We don't have much time, darling. Zac will be here in at least one hour so we need to hurry.", he said and grabbed your coat from the closet next to the door.
" What, how? The doctors told me that he wouldn't be able to walk again.", you asked puzzled and stood up.
"I made a deal with him, he can walk again. Now get your favorite belongings so that we can go.", he explained to you and you looked at him in disbelief. " So you only 'helped' me to make a deal with him?", you asked angrily.
Crowley walked over to you and looked you deep in the eyes as he spoke: "No, the other way around, love. I made a deal with him to help you. He only got three days until I'll claim what is mine."
You bit your lip and quickly turned away, walking upstairs to pack a bag with your clothes.
'(Y/N), don't even think about it!', you thought to yourself. 'He's the King of Hell and only playing with you!'
A bit grumpy about yourself you threw your clothes in your bag, hurried in the bathroom to get all your stuff and then rushed down the stairs.
Crowley noticed the grumpy look on your face: "Everything okay, darling?"
"S-sure,", you stuttered. " We can go."
He narrowed his brows, questioning himself what might be up with you, then he showed you a piece of paper: "I wrote him a goodbye letter from you. Maybe this will stop him from searching for you."
Surprised you took and read it: "Dear Zac, I'm sorry but I can't live like this anymore. I wish you the best. Love, (Y/N)."
"Did I hit your tone?", he asked and you just nodded, placing the paper on the kitchen table.
Your eyes rested on an old picture from you and Zac. He had an arm around your shoulders and kissed you on the cheek.
It felt wrong for you to go now, to just leave him since you always hoped he would get better again. But deep inside you knew that you had lost him.
Crowley laid his hands on your shoulder and turned you around: "We need to go now. He doesn't deserve this look on your face.", he said caring and before you knew it he had teleported you with him.
A bit dizzy you looked around in the new room.
It smelled and looked like a hotel room, there was one small bed beside a window, a little nightstand next to it and another door on the opposite, you guessed that there would be a bathroom behind.
"This was the best I could get in this short time, I hope it's okay, my queen.", Crowley said as he scratched his head.
You walked over to the bed, acting like you overheard his nickname for you and placed your bag on it.
"It's fine, don't worry.", you answered and failed to hide a smile.
The way he cared for you was so sweet and made you feel butterflies in your stomach.
"Are you going to stay with me the next days?", you asked with a bit of hope in your voice.
" No, I have some business to do. I'm sorry, darling", he answered and you sighted in disappointment.
"But I'm going to leave two of my men here. They will watch after you and protect you from Zac."
He snapped his fingers and two men appeared in the room, next to the door.
Crowley walked over to you, bend forward and whispered in your ear: "Don't go outside alone and don't do something stupid. I know you. Be a good girl, for me, okay?"
Shivers ran down your body at his words and the way his breath hit your ear: "Okay..."
Your gaze rested on his lips as he returned to his upright position, suddenly feeling the burning desire to kiss him.
Little did you know that he felt the same way, but he turned around and grinned to himself.
"Watch after her and don't leave her alone.", he ordered his minions and they nodded.
Then he turned back to you: " I have to go now. Goodbye, darling.", he bowed slightly and disappeared.
Sighting you threw yourself on to the bed, exhausted and looked at the clock: 6 o'clock in the morning, no wonder that you were tired. As you tried to recall everything that had happened in the last hours, your eyes closed and you drifted off into a restless sleep.
A loud crash woke you up, someone groaned in pain and something fell to the ground.
It took you some seconds to realize that you weren't at home anymore and that this probably wasn't just a drunk Zac, but also a really angry one.
You jumped out of the bed, ready to defend yourself, sick of always letting him beat you up.
In the light of the lantern which shined through the window, you could see two bodies lying on the floor, they didn't move or made any sounds. Fear crawled under your skin as you realized that your bodyguards were dead.
You didn't know if Zac actually killed the demons or if they just left in fear.
"Hello, (Y/N).", he said and your muscles tensioned by his cold voice. "Why have you left me? Don't you love me anymore?"
With every step he made towards you, you took one back until you hit the wall behind you: "Leave... Leave me alone!", you stuttered, feeling your pulse rising as he stood so near to you. His hand grabbed you by your throat and pushed you against the wall, making it difficult for you to breath.
" You think you can just walk away from me? Just write a goodbye letter and be gone?", the pressure on your throat increased. "Oh, how wrong you were. I'm not gonna let you go, my princess."
Tears swell up in your eyes, hearing him using your old nickname.
Formerly, when he called you this you could hear his love for you in his voice, but now you could only here obsession.
"Please don't hurt me...", you whispered between short breaths and sobbing.
"I'm sorry, but you're the one who made this ugly.", he answered and the next second his first hit your stomach, knocking all the air out of your lungs before he pushed you to the ground.
Coughing you tried to get your breath back, the room around you was blurry and you couldn't straighten your upper body since your stomach hurt so much.
You heard him unbuckle his belt and flinched as he snapped the leather against each other.
He kneeled down in front of you and grabbed your face, squeezing your cheeks: "Are you going to come back with me now?"
You thought about every option, but everyone was even worse than the one before.
'Crowley!', you screamed his name in your head, hoping that he would somehow hear you.
Zac shouted something but you didn't hear it, you tried to shut everything out, cried Crowley's name over and over again in your head and became numb of the pain as Zac hit you with his belt.
Suddenly the hitting stopped and everything was silent, scared you dared to look up.
Zac stood there with his arm raised, the belt in his hand.
Crowley stood behind him, holding his arm in place.
It was like the time had frozen at this moment.
You didn't dare to speak.
Zac, who had turned his head towards Crowley didn't dare to speak.
And Crowley, whose eyes were red, didn't need to speak.
"I could kill you.", he broke the silence. "I just need to snap my fingers and you would be dead."
Scared and angry Zac freed himself from Crowley's grip, letting the belt fall to the ground.
"Please don't, Crowley...", you begged with a shaky voice and stood up.
Both of you looked at each other, he felt your pain and it took him all he had to hold himself back.
"You know him?!", Zac suddenly yelled and you flinched. " Did I fell down the stairs because of you?! You made a deal with him, didn't you?"
Crowley answered for you before you even knew what to say: "No, she didn't. She wasn't as bloody stupid as you to make a deal with me. But you are right in one point, I'm responsible for your fall. And I hope it had hurt."
All the anger and hatred Crowley had for Zac swang in his voice as he spoke the last sentence.
"By the way, I just decided to claim your soul today.", Crowley started in an ice-cold voice and smiled evilly after he saw the fear crawling into Zac as he heard a loud growl from behind him.
"I would recommend you to run. My little hellhound is fast."
Juliet growled again, dangerously and Zac ran off, as fast as he could, slamming the door after him which Juliet tore down seconds after as she jumped through it.
It was silent again. You stared at the door in shock. Not sure if you were happy or sad about what just happened. Suddenly all the pain rushed over you, mentally and physically and the tears, which you were holding back for so long streamed down your cheeks. Loud sobbing you collapsed to the ground.
Crowley caught you, embracing you as you both sat on the ground now.
"It's okay, I'm here, no one can hurt you now.", he whispered calming as he held you in his arms.
Crying you pressed yourself against his chest, sobbing and sniffing and realizing that it wasn't just because of the pain, but also because of relief.
It was over.
You wouldn't come home to an angry boyfriend anymore who yelled at you every day and hit you.
You wouldn't come home in fear anymore.
You could finally live again.
......................................................................
"Thank you...", you mumbled into his shirt as the tears stopped rolling down your face.
Crowley cupped your face between his hands as he lifted your chin to make you look at him.
Your cheeks were red and your eyes puffy, probably making you look like a fish but his eyes got softer and a small smile appeared on his lips.
Gently he placed a warm kiss on your forehead and then pulled you back into a tight embrace.
This time it was you who smiled. Sometimes actions do say more than words...❤
......................................................................
Sooo, this was it!
I hope you enjoyed this one-shot, and yes I know, it's pretty long🙈 (I really didn't mean to write so much!)
The ending is separated by the way because I first wanted to finish it with the sentence "You could finally live again", but I thought some fluff at the end wouldn't be bad ;)
It would mean much to me if you leave a vote and comment🙇
Sending you all my love, thank you for reading! ❤❤❤
My Wattpad: @/lilakudo
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deepperplexity · 9 months ago
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Title: Your Pain Is Valid
Request: Hi! I love how you write about Snape❤️ I don't know if requests are open but I was wondering if you could write a fic where the reader has awful period cramps and faints in the bathroom where Severus finds her and he is very worried because the reader never told him how bad the pain was so he gives her lots of cuddles. If you don't feel like writing it, don't worry❤️ p.s. sorry if there are grammatical errors but English is not my native tongue❤️ - Nonny (Anon Ask)
A/N: Thank you lovely Nonny for this request! I rather enjoyed writing this as I’ve been so ensnared with R&R lately - this was quite natural for me to write as I myself suffer from horrendous period cramps and fainting is not uncommon. *sigh on that* A topic that really should be more openly discussed; periods and period cramps that is. So again, thank you for requesting! ❤️
~This fic is split in both Your POV and Third POV for Severus!~
Setting: Spinner’s End, Mid June
Pairing: Snape x Girlfriend!Reader
ABBR.:│(y/n) - Your Name│ (y/l/n) - Your Last Name │
Word Count: 2974
Warnings: Period Pain/Blood, Fainting, Fluff, Angst, Cuddling, Swear Words
Masterlist page // Masterlist post // AO3 
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~You~
You stumbled out of bed. Sweat soaked your skin and you shivered as another sharp pain shot through you, at its strongest in your belly only to radiate outward. It felt as if someone had taken a blunt knife and stabbed you repeatedly. You groaned as you hugged your aching stomach. Why now? He doesn’t-, fuck-! You hunched over and panted as the pain shot through you once more. 
Blood ran down your leg. Menstrual blood. As you had risen it felt as if it just flowed from you, like a damn river. Along with the sticky sweat as well, you were a total mess. I can’t, can’t let him see me like this, you thought as you walked towards the bathroom on the other side of the hall; you used all your strength to stay upright and not make any sound as you could hear him downstairs. 
You had been with Severus for nearly a year but you had always timed yours and his visits when you were not on your period as the pain was so intense and you feared he would see you as weak, or a nuisance, for your - well, illness to be frank. It was out of your control yet many seemed to be under the impression you could just ignore it, or deal with it. Honestly, the number of people who had no true understanding of periods were ridiculous.  
You gritted your teeth as you tried to close the bathroom door as silently as possible. The pain stabbed your gut again and your knees nearly bent from the pain. “Fuck-” you hissed through clenched teeth. You held on to the sink with one hand and splayed the other over your stomach with hard pressure. You tried to focus on your breathing, in through the nose, hold for three seconds, out through the mouth - over and over. 
But it didn’t help. You bit your lip as tears slinked down your cheeks and dripped from your chin. You looked towards your left, your foggy view made it hard to see but your toiletry bag was there and you started to rummage through it for your painkillers. You had tried a multitude of pills, potions and brews. None had helped enough for you to function normally but the once you had now at least took the worst edge of the pain. Turned the blunt knife into a hammer that pounded rather than stabbed. It was more bearable. 
You were shaking as you heard Severus call out your name. Not now, not now, go away- you moaned in a panic in your head. “(Y/n), breakfast is ready,” Severus said with that rumbling voice of his. You knew he was still downstairs as his voice was ever so slightly raised. “Comming!” you called out with as normal a voice as you could muster. A second later the pain stabbed you again and you dropped the bottle of pills as your hands shook violently. 
They scattered all over the floor and you couldn’t see the tiny little pills that blended perfectly with the off-white tiles that made up the floor as your tears made your vision blurry. You took a shuddering breath and held back a moaning scream as the pain intensified. It felt as if you were breaking in two, were torn apart. You gripped the sink with both hands just to remain upright. 
“Not now, not now-,” you muttered under your breath as you tried to control your breathing once more as the stabbing refused to ebb away. Your skin was now soaked with sweat, it mixed with the blood that had run down your legs in two long streaks. Your feet were wet with the red liquid and you tried not to think of what a mess you might have done of the bed. Some had surely leaked out before you rose. He’s going to see, I don’t want him to- you thought and your knuckles turned white as you gripped the sink harder. 
I, can’t do this, you thought as you turned towards the door. You wanted to call for him to help you as the pain just kept rising. But you couldn’t find your voice through your clenched jaw and the throbbing that seemed to occupy every inch of your shivering body. The shirt you had borrowed from Severus was now as soaked as your skin and you feared you had stained the white material. I need, need help- 
You let go of the sink and reached for the closed and locked bathroom door. But you never made it to the handle. Your vision blurred more, a black mist came in and limited your view as you got dizzy, so very dizzy. You heard the thud of your body against the harsh floor as you were already in such pain from your cramps the hits didn’t register despite the harsh thuds you somehow knew would leave ugly bruises. Then, you were gone. 
 ~Severus~
He was pouring his coffee, black as the darkest night with a tinge of brown closest to the edge of the cup. The smell filled his hooked nose and he raised the cup to take the first sip. His movement halted mid-air as a loud thud was heard from upstairs. He froze. What on earth- but his thought was cut short as fear seared him. “(Y/n),” he breathed out and the cup crashed against the floor, the dark liquid covered it but Severus was already halfway to the stairs by then. 
He leapt up the stairs, his thoughts ran rampant at what had happened. He stopped dead in his tracks as he saw bloody footprints and drops on the floor. From the bedroom where the door stood ajar to the bathroom where the door was closed. His heart pounded and he reached for the handle as he had instantly taken the last few steps needed to reach the door. It was locked and he tugged as he called your name, his voice laced with worry. 
“Alohomora!” he shouted as he pointed his wand towards the lock and it clicked open. He pulled the door open and his heart skipped a beat as he saw you sprawled half-naked on the floor in a sweaty mess with bloody legs and feet. “(Y/n)?!” he rumbled out as he threw himself down beside your unconscious body. 
You were breathing and some of the fear eased, but the panic still held him. He reached out to wipe away a few tendrils of moist hair from your face. “(Y/n)? (Y/n), wake up,” he said. His voice low and dark, deeply rumbling but it dripped with worry. But you did not stir. You just laid there. His mind was frantic, his pulls raced and he felt, for a moment, as if the world was swallowing him. 
Severus pulled you into his embrace, he checked you all over for cuts as he searched for the source of the blood but he found none. Internal bleeding? She, she needs to go to a hospital. He thought in a panic as he scooped you up in his arms. You were heavy in your unconscious state and he held you tighter, not a care in the world regarding the sweat or the blood as it seeped into his clothes and made his hands slick. All he could focus on was getting you help as he feared the worst. 
 ~You~
You felt weirdly elevated and cradled. You groaned as the stabbing in your stomach recommenced. You tensed and the swaying movement that you had been in stopped. The smell of sage, peppermint and husky perfection penetrated your sense of smell. You felt safe in an instant. 
His chest vibrated as his deep rumble of a voice pronounced your name with worry. Your eyelids fluttered and a moment later you were looking up at him. Severus. Your beloved. You were in his arms. Cradled and held tightly. “Sev-Severus?” you stuttered out and his dark eyes shined with worry as he looked down at you. Oh no, no, no, no-, your mind raced as you understood he had found you in the bathroom. Fear of what he would think filled you with dread. 
But he looked more worried than anything. His harsh face ravaged by lines and streaks of the unpleasant emotion. His dark onyx eyes seemed to sway with concern. “I’m taking you to the hospital,” he stated and his voice really shook ever so slightly with the worry that was so evident in his eyes. “Don’t,” you whispered, “there is nothing, nothing they can do.” You tensed again as another stabbing sensation crawled through you with that blunt knife as its clawing paws. You moaned in pain and Severus tensed. 
“You need help,” he stated and his voice was so concerned you felt like an asshole for not warning him of your, predicament, once a month. “Severus, don’t-, they can’t, can’t-” but you were unable to finish the sentence as you gripped his shirt and pressed your legs up and in towards your stomach to quell the pain that washed over you again. It was truly horrendous. And to know, to know it would happen every month was just as horrendous. 
He held you tightly in the middle of the hallway on the upper floor. “(Y/n), what, what is the matter?” he asked and guilt washed over you at his sad tone of voice. “It’s, nothing, just-” “You’re hurting, bleeding, do not say it is nothing.” You looked up at him with tear-filled eyes as you bit your lower lip. His worry for you made your heart flutter ever so slightly despite the pain. “Period,” you said. His eyebrows raised ever so slightly and a blush crept over your cheeks. “Period?” You nodded at his questioned word. 
For a moment he was silent but then you heard how he blew out a breath and his tense arms seemed to relax ever so slightly while they still embraced you firmly. “I’m sorry,” you whispered as you tried not to scream or cry. “What in the world for?” You looked up at him and his brows were knitted together. “You, love, have nothing to apologies for. You are a woman, periods are natural. I just, are they always-” You bit your lip and curled together again as another wave of pain shot through you and he went silent as he carried you back into the bathroom. 
A crunching sound was heard as he stepped on some of the scattered pills and he stopped. “Painkillers? Really?” You nodded. “I’ve, tried everything,” you breathed out as you clung to him. Desperate for the comfort he provided. The stability, the warmth. “Not everything,” he said and you felt - yes felt - the sneer on his face as your own face was pressed against his chest. 
A few moments later you were placed gently in the tub that Severus had filled with warm water and some of the bath oils he had in the room. You hummed in the softening feel the water provided but you still had your legs tugged up and in towards you. The pain was still unbearable and you felt yourself sway as another wave crashed over you. You bit your lip and nearly snarled. 
Severus placed his sturdy hand on your back and you smiled through the tears. His comfort was more than welcome. You heard him mutter something and in the next moment, he held a yellow vial in front of you - no label. You glanced up at him and he arched a brow. You took the vial and tipped all the content into your mouth before you swallowed. Your trust in him was unwavering and wholehearted. 
It tasted like sweet orange juice with a tinge of honey. It was a quite pleasant taste. He took the empty vial and then his hands were on you again. He stroked soothing circles over your back with one and gently held you upright with the other. You swayed a little with his movements as a warmth started to spread within you. You felt a bit fuzzy actually. No, not again-! You didn’t want to pass out again, and not in front of Severus. You gripped the sides of the tub in a panic to keep yourself upright.
“Sch, it’s just the potion, just relax,” he whispered gently and his words instantly soothed you. You allowed the fuzzy feeling to take over and it felt, quite wonderful. The stabbing pain became a dull ache and you felt as if you were being lulled to sleep. “Severus,” you whispered and you heard him move as his hands left you for a moment. “Let’s get you cleaned and dried,” he said in the next and then you felt his gentle hands with rough skin wipe your legs down. The water turned a little red from your blood but he didn’t seem to mind. Even if you were thoroughly embarrassed. You couldn’t help it; it was just ingrained in you. Ingrained in society in general...
He had left you alone to insert a tampon but other than that he had been by your side constantly. He had dried you off, had done your hair, dressed you in clean pyjamas clothes that were way too big but so comfortable you felt as if you were wrapped in a cloud that smelled like Severus. As if you were bundled up in your own private heaven.
He had perched you on the couch with pillows, blankets and a warm bag of wheat over your stomach. The potion still made you feel fuzzy and kept the pain at bay. It was, without a doubt, the least amount of pain you had experienced during your period for as long as you could remember. You hummed ever so slightly and Severus came in with a plate of delicious-looking sandwiches and a cup that steam rose from. It was tea, it smelled of honey and something more acidic. 
“Thank you,” you breathed out and he smiled ever so slightly at you. A Severus smile. The best kind of smile there was in the world. He looked as you ate one of the triangle-shaped sandwiches and sipped the tea before he sat down beside you. He took your legs over his own, gently, and scooted closer so that you could still keep your knees high. He fussed with the blanket and your heart swelled at his care for you. 
“Why did you not tell me?” You looked up from the teacup that was nearly empty. He gazed into your eyes as his hand stroked your leg in a slow and gentle motion.  “I, it’s not, well, it’s not something I talk about. People tend to-” “I, am not, people,” he growled out through nearly closed lips. You smiled softly at him as you placed your cup on the table. 
“No, no you are not. I’m, sorry honey,” you said as a blush crept over your cheeks again while you gave his arm a small stroking pet to ease him. “Don’t. Just, tell me of such things. I could have helped you,” he huffed and you allowed your hand to reach up towards his cheek. “You are helping me.” He blushed ever so slightly at your touch and words. It made your heart flutter once again as the stoic man was so swayed by your affection. 
You crawled over to hug him. But he just gently grabbed you and placed you on his lap as his arms encircled you under your knees and around your shoulders. You were sat snuggly in a V and it did wonders for the dull ache that still persisted. 
“I love you,” you whispered and you hoped that he would still feel such feelings for you as well. “And I love you,” he murmured as his nose nuzzled your temple as his lips kissed your cheek. You smiled and felt a relief flood you. “I am sorry,” you said though. “What ever for?” “For-, well, my-” “Illness? That’s preposterous. It would be as if you apologized for having an allergy or suffered from lycanthropy. That is not your fault and your pain is valid. Utter nonsense to say otherwise,” he muttered as he glared at the air before him and held you tighter. 
You leaned into him as he gently rocked you while you felt wholeheartedly loved and cared for. As his soft yet firm embrace cradled you, as he made sure you were as comfortable as possible, that you had everything you needed and then some - you felt happy. Truly happy. He accepted, understood and validated something that had plagued you in so many ways for several years. 
It was somewhat shocking, yet at the same time, it was so him that you felt silly for all the excuses you had made up not to meet with him during your time of the month. Felt silly for not asking him for help, for not trusting in his love for you completely to let him see you in such a state. But now he had and he still loved you without a doubt. Took care of you and made sure you were as content as possible. 
I think I’m in heaven. The thought made you sigh and you sank deeper into his chest, his steady heartbeat paired with the potion lulled you into a deep slumber. You could escape the physical ache altogether for a while. Safely enveloped in his strong arms with a gentle smile over your lips as you felt him kiss your forehead even in your sleeping state. That was your love for each other. Endless and accepting. Understanding and caring. That he was only that man for you, well, it made it all the better in all honesty...
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[Jan:2021]
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bluesweatshirt · 5 months ago
Text
Our endless, numbered days
By @bluesweatshirt for @cassiecasyl for the @friendly-neighborhood-exchange
Rating: T
Relationships: Peter Parker & Tony Stark
Characters: Peter Parker, Tony Stark, May Parker, Happy Hogan, Ned Leeds, Morgan Stark, Pepper Potts
Read on AO3
Summary: 
Mr. Stark stared at him in silence for a long moment.
Peter’s heart sunk in his chest. The last time he’d seen Mr. Stark awake, Mr. Stark had actually embraced him. He’d seemed so happy that the time travel and Bruce’s snap had worked, and that Peter was back. But now—“How long?” Tony asked coolly.
*** Or, the one where Peter has magic powers that come with a heavy cost.
The first time Peter saw Tony awake after the battle against Thanos, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
Tony had lost an arm and his entire left side was covered in grisly chemical burns that were still healing. But Peter knew all of that already. He’d been stationed by Mr. Stark’s bedside for nearly two weeks, after all, sometimes coloring with Morgan or catching up with May or just sitting in silence with Pepper and Rhodey.
What Tony’s mood and emotions would be like when he woke up and understood what Peter had done—well, that was anyone’s guess.
Peter was optimistic, though, and when Pepper called him to say that Tony had finally squeezed her hand and opened his eyes, he swung over to the Tower as fast as humanly possible. He ran through the Med Bay to get to Mr. Stark’s room, grinning broadly.
“Peter!” Bruce called. He’d been spending most of his time in Med Bay since the fight, helping Dr. Cho tend to the wounded.
“Hi, Dr. Banner, can’t stop—I heard Tony’s awake,” Peter waved, jogging past.
“Peter,” Bruce called again. This time, his tone of voice made Peter stop in his tracks.
“Is everything okay? Is Tony—is he—”
“He’s fine,” Bruce said quickly. “He’s still awake; I was just in there. I wanted to warn you, though—the first thing he asked Pepper and I was if you had—you know…”
He wiggled his fingers vaguely.
Peter nodded. He knew.
“And he’s a bit—well, I don’t think he took the news very well.”
“It’s okay,” Peter assured Bruce. “I’m going to explain it to him. Plus, we’re all alive, and that’s what’s most important. It’ll be fine.”
Bruce looked dubious, his mouth twisting into a concerned line. But Peter didn’t stick around to hear what else he had to say on the matter.
***
He’d been expecting Tony to be groggy and disoriented, but that wasn’t the case. As soon as Peter stepped into the room, Tony’s eyes were on him, tracking him with intent precision.
Peter should’ve known then, but he ignored the warning signs.  
“Hi, Mr. Stark!” He exclaimed happily, practically flinging himself into the chair next to the hospital bed. He wanted to hug his mentor, but—well, there had probably been enough of that already lately.
Mr. Stark stared at him in silence for a long moment.
Peter’s heart sunk in his chest. The last time he’d seen Mr. Stark awake, Mr. Stark had actually embraced him. He’d seemed so happy that the time travel and Bruce’s snap had worked, and that Peter was back. But now—
“How long?” Tony asked coolly.
Peter momentarily wondered if he could get away with playing dumb, but he scrapped the thought when he saw Tony’s expression.
“You know, my mom always used to say that it’s not an exact science—”
“Peter. How long.”
He couldn’t meet Mr. Stark’s eyes.
“Ten years, probably.”
He heard a sharp intake of breath.
“I was fine. It’s not a big deal,” Peter said, unable to keep from sounding sullen.
“Bruce said you were unconscious for nearly a week, after. They thought you were going to die of magical exhaustion.”
When he finally chanced a glance at his mentor, it almost looked like Mr. Stark had a glimmer of tears in his eyes.
It turned out to just be a glint of anger.
“What were you thinking ?” Mr. Stark said in a tone that made Peter’s stomach drop. He’d never heard this cold, flinty tone of voice directed at him. At Captain America, at various bad guys, at Thanos, sure—but never him. Even when he’d almost sunk the ferry, early on in their relationship, Mr. Stark had been direct and disappointed.
Not furious. Not disgusted.  
“I was thinking,” Peter said, holding his chin high to distract from how his voice shook slightly. “That I didn’t want you to die.”
“Yeah, well, you picked the wrong person to give ten years to,” Mr. Stark retorted, still using an odd, detached kind of voice that made Peter want to seize him by the shoulders and give him a good shake. “I’ve manufactured weapons that killed millions of people. I failed to stop Thanos the first time around. You really think that I, out of all people—” Mr. Stark trailed off, drawing in a deep, pained breath. “To have this on my conscience now, on top of everything else—”
Peter was torn between crying and screaming in frustration.
“You think I don’t know? That children are dying of cancer at New York Presbyterian? That domestic violence probably happens somewhere in my apartment building? That I could stop some of these things? I’m so sorry about your conscience, Mr. Stark, really,” he snapped. “It must be really tough to feel a crushing sense of guilt and responsibility over matters of life and death, huh?”
“You had no right —”
“I had every right!” Peter yelled, suddenly on his feet. “I couldn’t stop my parents and Ben from dying, but I could stop you! And I would never change that. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
His chest was heaving like he’d just run a marathon. Mr. Stark’s face was white with an unidentifiable emotion. Probably anger.  
“You’re going to grow up and get married and have a family, and then you’re going to just—die. Way before your time. And that’s going to be on me.”
You’re my family, he wanted to say. But then the doubts crept in, the same doubts he’d been having since he’d returned and learned about everything that had changed in the years he was gone—Morgan, and the lake house, and the wedding ring they’d placed on Mr. Stark’s bedside table after surgery, since he no longer had a left ring finger to wear it on.
Years of grief and fury seemed to spill over, all at once. “That’s not true,” he said, low and tight. “Because I’m never even going to have a family, besides May and Ned. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a freak!”
His voice had risen to a shout by the end of this statement.
Mr. Stark flinched as if he’d been slapped.
“Peter,” He started to say.  
“No,” he retorted, hating how his voice cracked, hating how he ached to wrap his arms around his own torso in a familiar self-soothing gesture. “Don’t. Just—don’t.”
He pulled his sweatshirt sleeves up so that he could access his web shooters, and then he swung out the window and into the night, ignoring how Mr. Stark called after him.
He muted Karen and turned off his phone. He didn’t speak to Mr. Stark again for a long time after that.
i.
Even before the spider bite, Peter was never quite fully human.
When he was five, he heard a strange sound, almost like crying, in the alleyway behind the duplex where he lived with his parents. He was supposed to be asleep, but he couldn’t just lay in his bed when someone or something was hurt and scared. He slipped down the stairs, tiptoed past the kitchen where his parents were washing the dishes and chatting, and made it out the back door undetected.
He wasn’t allowed to play in the alleyway past dark, but his concern gave him courage. He found an orange tabby cat hiding behind some garbage bins. The cat had clearly been hit by a car, and she was in bad shape. Peter wasted no time in scooping her up and holding her close to his chest, being careful of her back leg, which was bent at an odd angle, and her side, where he could feel blood matted in her fur. He felt her little heart beating, fast and shallow, through his pajama shirt. He heard her soft, pained whines. A kind of love and determination like he’d never known before swept through him.
“It’s okay,” he promised the cat. “I’ll make it better.”
When he burst into the house a moment later, his parents looked up, startled, to see Peter, exhausted, his pajamas stained with blood and his hands glowing a soft, unearthly blue, with golden runes trailing down his fingers, clutching a perfectly healthy cat in his arms.
***
It came from his mother’s side of the family. Because his parents died when he was only six, however, he never got the chance to completely understand what it was.
“Many people in my family had gifts,” his mother told him a few days after his gift manifested for the first time. She reached over and petted the cat, who Peter had named Leia. Leia, the picture of perfect health, was lounging next to them in a spot of sunlight on the front porch, purring and cleaning her paws.
“Your path will not be an easy one,” she continued. Her green-gray eyes were sad. A vine full of bougainvilleas curling down from the roof seemed to sway sympathetically towards her.
She told him then that his gift had an important drawback: if he hugged people, he would give them some of his life force. But once it was given, she didn’t know if he could ever get it back again.
It sounded fantastical, even to his open, creative six-year-old mind, but it turned out to be true. If Peter thought about it hard enough, he found that he could make the runes appear and disappear from his hands. Sure enough, a tiny smidge was now missing from the top of the markings.
“That’s how much of your life force you used up by healing the cat,” his mother said. “Maybe as much as a whole year of your life, gone. You have to be very careful, honey.”
“I don’t care,” Peter declared staunchly, looking at Leia. She blinked at him lazily and yawned, trusting and warm and perfect. “I’m glad I did it.”
His parents exchanged worried glances, and nothing was quite the same after that.
***
Mary Fitzpatrick Parker’s gift was more innocuous than Peter’s—she had a green thumb in the extreme. Their garden had won a neighborhood award five years running, but his parents had never planted any seeds or pulled a single weed. The horticulturists from the local botanic garden had even come by to ask his mom for tips, and they were shocked to learn that she was a trained geneticist, not a botanist.
Mary often took Peter to the park after school, and she liked to lay in the grass and read a book while Peter played on the swings and the slide. When she’d stand up and call to Peter that it was time to go, the ground beneath her would be full of blossoming flowers—purple crocuses and blush-pink peonies, yellow tulips and even red roses, sweet-smelling and opening to the late afternoon sun.
When Richard and Mary left to go to a conference in Hawaii, and May and Ben heard the breaking news that a plane traveling from New York to Hawaii had crashed in Nebraska, they sat on the couch with Peter between them, white-knuckled and waiting for updates.
And even before the newscaster announced that there were no known survivors, they knew Richard and Mary were dead.
“We’re still waiting for news about casualties, but it’s very strange,” the reporter said, frowning thoughtfully at the crash site, located just off-camera. “When the first responders reached the plane, they were expecting it to be in flames. Instead, the whole area, including the plane, was covered in a bed of fresh white lilies.”
***
Gift was the word his mother had always used. “I’ll teach you to harness your gift, Peter,” she’d assured him. “Magic is different for everyone, but we’ll figure it out together.”
But then she’d died, and there’d been no one left to teach him. Adrift and alone as a magic-user, as Peter grew, he began to think of his ability as more of a curse. May and Ben agreed with him fervently.
“It’s like he’s being punished for his goodness and empathy,” he once heard May complain to Ben. “If he helps people, he loses some of his own life. But it’s Peter . How is he ever supposed to sit back and not help someone who needs it? It goes against who he is as a person.”
This was why The Rule existed.
The Rule was this: Peter wasn’t allowed to hug anyone until he turned eighteen.
It was a compromise, after a long discussion between Ben and May. “We can’t ban him from ever using his gift,” Ben had told May. “But maybe it can wait. When he’s grown up, he’ll be able to assess situations independently and decide if he wants to give his life energy up.”
May heartily disapproved of this logic. “Never, Peter. Never,” she told him after he came home from soccer practice one day in fourth grade and confessed that he’d used his magic to heal Ned Leeds’ ankle, which had broken when Flash Thompson slide-tackled him.
“Your life is your own,” she’d said, holding his face in her hands to emphasize the point. “Your time is your own. You’re never obligated to use your powers, and you never should.”
He knew that May said this out of love and concern and a fierce desire to protect him. But he’d never had a best friend before until he healed Ned Leeds’ ankle.
He learned at an early age that some things were worth giving up a year or two of his life for.
***
Then there were the more serious situations.
When Peter was eight, he saw a car accident. A truck sped through a yellow light and t-boned a car that was turning left. Before Ben could stop him, Peter dropped his hand, ran across the street, and threw his arms around a little girl with long dark hair who’d been thrown from the vehicle.
His gift had saved her life and mended her crushed spine, but it had cost him what May and Ben estimated was about three years.
When he was eleven, he’d stopped by his elderly neighbor Mrs. Williams’ apartment after school to say hi. She’d babysat him sometimes when he’d first moved in with May and Ben, and he liked to look at her collection of antique baseball cards. Plus, he’d never known any of his grandparents, and he liked to think that Mrs. Williams thought of him as a grandson too, since she didn’t have grandkids of her own.
She’d fallen to the ground in the middle of his story about math class that day, obviously in the throes of a heart attack.
Fortunately, Ben had heard his frantic yell for help from next door. He’d run over, already midway through a conversation with the 9-1-1 operator, and yanked Peter’s glowing hands away from her.
Mrs. Williams rallied briefly, but died three days later.
Peter was heartbroken. May was furious.
“Magic can’t fix everything, Peter!” May shouted, pacing around their living room. He couldn’t remember ever seeing her quite so angry before, not even when Ben forgot their anniversary one year. “Mrs. Williams was 89 years old. It was her time to go, and not even you could change that! You gave up a year of your life for nothing!”
Peter felt hot tears begin to drip down his face. “It wasn’t for nothing!” He shot back defiantly, his voice cracking. “She—she was my friend. I loved her!”
May took one look at his face and started crying herself.
She crossed the room in an instant and threw her arms around him.
“I’m sorry, baby,” she murmured remorsefully into his hair, shaking and holding him close. “I’m sorry. I know it’s hard. I know. I just want you to have a long, happy life. Mrs. Williams never would’ve wanted you to give up a year for her. She loved you, too. She was so happy whenever you visited her.”
That didn’t make it any easier to accept her death, though.
***
And then there were the psychological ramifications.
Peter had always been an easygoing, affectionate kid. Before his gift manifested, he gave his hugs freely and often.
After he saved Leia, however, he had to stop hugging altogether. When Peter fell off his bike and scraped his knee, his dad picked him up cautiously and tentatively, holding him slightly away from his body so that Peter’s magic wouldn’t try to latch on. When Ben or May picked him up from school, they’d have to remind him not to run up and hug them.
“If I just hug you for a few seconds,” Peter tried to argue, “it’ll only take away a few hours or days of my life.”
Unsurprisingly, none of the adults thought that this was an acceptable compromise. At first, his parents and May and Ben tried to shower him with more affection than ever to make up for it. Especially after his parents’ death, May and Ben hugged, kissed, and squeezed him within an inch of his life.
After awhile, however, it became clear that this actually made things worse. The more Peter was touched, the more his magic wanted to jump out of his skin and help the people who loved him. Even if May or Ben didn’t have any physical ailments, his magic still wanted to spill from his fingertips to rejuvenate and sustain them. He’d have to sit on his hands, teeth gritted, and fight to force the magic back down.
By the time he was seven or eight, he’d stopped almost all physical contact with other humans.
May and Ben found little ways to get around it—a quick pat on the head or the shoulder, plenty of stuffed animals for him to hug and cuddle at night, a brief hug every year on his birthday and on Christmas, sitting extra close to him on the sofa while they watched movies.
Ned, who’d known about Peter’s gift ever since Peter fixed his ankle, offered him a fist bump every day at school.
That was about it.
As a result, Peter became a little bit obsessed with physical affection.
He watched his fellow students flood out of the main doors of the school and run to hug their parents every afternoon.
(He once saw Flash’s mom coldly wave at him to hurry up before turning back to her cell phone, and he thought that, for once, he understood how Flash felt).
He tried not to stare as a dad at the park swung his daughter up in the air while she giggled happily.
He almost cried when his eighth grade science teacher, Ms. Eames, put an arm around his shoulders to congratulate him for getting a scholarship to Midtown.
And when the dental hygienist cleaned his teeth and the barber cut his hair, Peter absorbed every neutral, professional touch with amazement, his slightly-glowing hands tucked firmly into his pockets.
“You’re one of the only people I know who falls asleep every time he gets his teeth cleaned,” Mario, the dental hygienist, always told him with a laugh.
But Peter didn’t know how to explain what it felt like when someone finally touched him after all the weeks and months of waiting, how his brain went quiet and calm, how the tension and the fear of his own skin faded away. You’re a real person, the dental hygienist was unconsciously saying when he tilted Peter’s head so that he could see his back molars. You exist in this world.
And the older he got, the more it all ate away at him—the forced distance from others, the fact that he had the potential to help people, but he couldn’t. He didn’t know how he felt about love and marriage and all of that, but how was he supposed to even try being in a relationship with somebody if he couldn’t hold their hand or hug them?
And why was his life more valuable than anybody else’s? If he had the power to give part of his life away, who was he to keep it? There were adults out there who died and left their children behind. There were little kids who were born with terrible illnesses, living in terrible agony, and he could cure them. There were lonely old ladies like Mrs. Williams, who lived next door and always remembered that he liked sugar cookies better than chocolate chip cookies.
Leia died of old age when Peter was thirteen. He’d gotten eight amazing years with her; eight years that he never would’ve had if he hadn’t given up one year of his life to save her.
He tried to focus on that—the time he’d given other people, the time they gained, not the time he’d lost. He tried not to do the math in his head—90 year lifespan, probably, minus a year for Leia, minus a year for Ned’s ankle, minus three years for that little girl’s crushed spine, minus a year for Mrs. Williams—
Time went on. May continued to lecture him, Ned continued to be supportive, Peter got bit by a radioactive spider and acquired a whole new set of problems, and Ben—
Ben got shot while out looking for Peter after they had a fight about Peter’s newfound evasiveness and secretiveness. From the moment Peter arrived on the scene, it was evident that Ben was beyond saving.
That didn’t stop Peter from pouring two years’ worth of his life energy into his uncle’s fading soul in a last-ditch attempt to bring him back, though.
ii.
Tony Stark was the first person that Peter hugged in almost a decade who wasn’t actively dying or injured.
It was a fluke, he told himself later, as he carried the metallic case with his new suit up to his and May’s apartment, his cheeks still flushed with embarrassment.
What the hell were you thinking?! He asked himself, trying to get his emotions under control before he walked in the front door. May always knew when he was trying to hide something, and she always knew when he’d been using his powers.
The answer he settled on later, kicking his shoes off and staring up at the glow-in-the-dark stars he and Ned had stuck on his bedroom ceiling in sixth grade, was this: He hadn’t been thinking.
He’d been sleep-deprived and so excited to be talking to Mr. Stark, his science idol and his favorite superhero. And when Mr. Stark had reached across him to open the door, Peter had just gotten a bit carried away. He hadn’t truly hugged anyone in ages, he missed Ben with a fierce ache that never seemed to fade or diminish, and he rarely saw his aunt nowadays since she had to work a lot of double shifts to make up for Ben’s lost income.
(Ben had still hugged him sometimes, always when May wasn’t home to complain about it. And every once in a while, if Peter had a bad dream or a really hard day, he let Peter hug him back. Just for a few seconds. Even though it probably cost him a few hours or days of his life.
Ben had always understood.)
Yes, the thing with Mr. Stark had just been a weird one-off, fueled by adrenaline and the thrill of working with the Avengers.  
***
He ignored the fact that his magic had sung out happily when Mr. Stark’s arm wrapped around him, that it had cheerfully jumped from Peter’s fingers to soothe Mr. Stark’s aches and pains from the fight.
We trust him, his magic seemed to say. We should stay close to him.
It was...odd. His magic was usually pretty friendly, just like Peter himself, but its response to Mr. Stark was stronger than most new people he met.
“I don’t need Mr. Stark in my life,” he muttered irritably to his magic, quietly, so that his aunt wouldn’t hear. “You’re just upset because we lost—we lost Ben. And you saw Mr. Stark, he wasn’t interested in a hug. At all. So calm down.”
His magic subsided, a little sadly. But it was stubborn, just like Peter.
***
Peter threw himself into being Spider-Man.
He came home bruised, scraped, and exhausted most nights, but incandescently happy.
For the first time, he had a gift that he didn’t have to hide away and fight against. He could use his spidey abilities to help people without holding back or thinking of his own well-being.
“With great power comes great responsibility,” Ben had often said in reference to Peter’s gift. He’d always known, in a way May didn’t or couldn’t, how hard it was for Peter to not use his magic to help others.
“When you can do the things that I can, but you don’t, and then the bad things happen...they happen because of you,” Peter told Mr. Stark the first time they met, sitting across from one another in Peter’s small, cramped bedroom.
He’d never meant anything more in his life.
Mr. Stark gave him an odd, pensive look, as if Peter wasn’t what he’d been expecting.
“So you want to look out for the little guy, you want to do your part, make the world a better place, all that, right?”
Protect him, Peter’s magic said eagerly. Help him. Make him proud.
***
Peter tried. But he almost sank a ferry full of commuters and tourists.
“I just wanted to be like you,” he said, sick to his stomach.
“And I wanted you to be better,” Mr. Stark replied, and Peter hated how he said it so calmly, like some part of him had been expecting Peter to fail all along. Mr. Stark wasn’t much taller than Peter, but in that moment, Peter felt about as tall as a five-year-old kid.
Mr. Stark took the suit away and brought Peter home in a tourist t-shirt and Hello Kitty pajama pants.
Peter spent the entire car ride trying to keep the tears welling up in his eyes from spilling over.
Mr. Stark only looked at him once during the drive. Something complicated passed over his face, and it was only then that Peter realized he had wrapped his arms around himself in a poor imitation of a hug.
He immediately dropped his arms by his sides and turned away, looking out the window.
***
Something odd happened after that.
Peter actually managed to prove himself.
It was...strange. Peter was used to being good at school, but not much else. He’d been a bad athlete before the bite, uncoordinated and asthmatic. He was good at photography, but he had no other artistic or musical talent to speak of. And he had a good sense of humor, but he wasn’t witty or charismatic in a way that would ever make him popular in the lunchroom or at parties.
Hell, he spent most of his time repressing his gift, so he couldn’t even say he felt like a good magic user.
So maybe some part of him had always expected to fail at being Spider-Man, too. To be good, but never great.
But when Toomes toppled the warehouse on top of him, Peter realized something else: he was good at helping others. And as long as Toomes was out there, trying to steal Avengers tech and threatening the safety of his fellow New Yorkers, Peter would do anything in his power to stop him.
So he lifted the warehouse off his back. He saved Mr. Stark’s stuff. He got Toomes put away.
And in return, he got the invite that all kids dreamed of: a chance to join the Avengers, to live at their compound and train with them.
He said no. He wanted to help the people he knew. His neighbors. Fellow residents of Queens. He walked through his borough every single day, holding back from using his magic to save the people who lived there. He wouldn’t relocate to a distant compound and jet off to fight crime around the world. He’d stay in his own backyard and use his powers there.
Of course, giving up the Avengers opportunity probably meant that he’d never see Mr. Stark again, but Peter accepted that. He was even a little relieved—he still thought it was odd how strongly his magic reacted to Mr. Stark. Mr. Stark put an arm around Peter’s shoulders when he welcomed him to the Avengers compound, and his magic bubbled up happily. He had to shove his hands in his pocket to prevent their slight blue glow from being noticeable.
It was best this way, he told himself when he left the Compound. Mr. Stark would’ve gotten bored with him soon enough, anyway. Or Peter would’ve messed up again, and it all would’ve fallen apart a second time.
“Good riddance,” May said when he came home that afternoon and told her that he thought his internship had reached a peaceful, natural conclusion. “I don’t like that he thought he could just kick you out of the internship program. No matter how badly you messed up, that’s the point of an internship—trying things, messing up, learning. No, you’re lucky you got out now.”
Peter couldn’t say her opinion of Mr. Stark improved at all when she found out that Peter was actually Spider-Man.
May made him give her Mr. Stark’s phone number, and she shouted at him for an hour straight.
That’s really it, Peter told himself that night as he laid in bed and stared up at the ceiling (he’d been grounded for the foreseeable future, so there wasn’t much else to do). There was no way Mr. Stark was going to call him again after what May had put him through.
***
“Dude, the character design is so flawed. By having Kylo Ren kill Han Solo in the first movie, there’s nowhere to go with his character. He’s too evil to be redeemed.” Ned shook his head remorsefully as they followed a group of sophomores outside of school.
“But why does he need to be redeemed? Can’t he just be evil?” Peter asked to play devil’s advocate, zipping his jacket up against the bitter early winter cold.
“Why does he need to be redeemed? Because the point of Star Wars is that good triumphs over evil, ultimately, and Ren—”
Peter was so into his discussion with Ned that he almost walked right past Happy..
“I thought you had super senses,” Happy said grumpily when Peter finally noticed him and gave a small jerk of surprised recognition.
“Happy?” Peter hurried over to the shiny black car that Happy always drove, tugging Ned along with him. “Why are you here? Is everything okay? Is there a, uh, emergency?” He asked, careful to keep his questions neutral in case anyone overheard.
He glanced up at the sky out of habit, since it tended to be very noticeable when New York got attacked by something, but everything seemed quiet and peaceful. A few snowflakes had begun to fall, but there were no alien spaceships or gods fighting overhead.
Happy rolled his eyes. “Get in,” he directed, just as unenthusiastic as ever.
Peter glanced uncertainly over at Ned. They were supposed to hang out at Ned’s apartment and study for an upcoming Spanish test.
“Dude! Go!” Ned hissed, poking him. “Are you kidding? Maybe there’s a mission!”
Peter opened the back door of the car tentatively. He almost expected to see Mr. Stark sitting there, frowning unhappily, demanding the suit back. The seat was empty, however, and he couldn’t decide if this made him more or less anxious.
“Where are we going?” Peter asked when Happy started the engine.
“The Tower. Boss wants to see you.”
Peter spent the entire car ride mentally reviewing his recent patrols to see if he could recall anything he’d done wrong. It had been a month since May found out he was Spider-Man, and she’d just started letting him patrol again about a week and a half ago. He’d been very careful to stick to his curfew and not get involved in anything too big, since he didn’t want to risk May’s wrath again.
He couldn’t come up with anything bad that he’d done, but that didn’t mean he was in the clear. The ferry incident had started off as something small and quickly turned into a near-death situation for dozens of people, after all. Maybe somebody he’d webbed up was actually innocent, and now they wanted to sue him.  
Or maybe one of the mugging victims from yesterday was more injured than he let on, and he’d died of his injuries. The possibilities were endless, really, oh god, he was definitely going to lose his suit for good—
Peter was a wreck by the time Happy escorted him to Mr. Stark’s lab.
“Mr. Stark?” He called, wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans.
“Over here, kid.” Peter followed the sound of his voice and found Mr. Stark sitting on the floor near a lab bench and fiddling with the feet of a partially-constructed Iron Man suit that was suspended in mid-air.
“Whoa,” he couldn’t help gasping. “Is that—"
Mr. Stark looked up at him, and to Peter’s surprise, he grinned.
“Go ahead, ask away. I thought you’d get a kick out of seeing the suit.”
“Is that how the arc reactor transmits power to the rest of the suit?” He asked, eagerly pointing at a series of intricate wires.
“Yeah. C’mere, I’ll show you,” Mr. Stark said, beckoning him over. “Oh, and grab those pliers for me, will you?”
***
Three or four hours had passed before Peter remembered his earlier fear and anxiety.
He’d just finished checking the wiring of Mr. Stark’s gauntlets when he sat bolt upright.
“My suit,” he blurted out, regretting it almost instantly. It had been...really nice to work alongside Mr. Stark. The man was surprisingly patient with Peter’s barrage of excited questions. He hadn’t made Peter just sit and watch, either; he’d given him a few simple tasks to carry out.
Peter was even more awed by Mr. Stark’s genius than ever, having seen the guts of the suit. And now he was going to have to give his own Stark-made suit back.
“Oh, yeah—right,” Mr. Stark nodded. He looked more relaxed than Peter had ever seen him before, completely at home with hands buried in the guts of a suit. He had grease smeared on his chin, and Peter suspected he had a few grease marks of his own. “That’s the whole reason I made Happy bring you here.”
Peter’s stomach sunk. He went over to the sink and washed his hands, and then he dutifully pulled the suit out of his backpack and handed it over.
To his surprise, Mr. Stark smiled at him, looking up from his phone. “You like Chinese food?” He asked.
Peter blinked at him. Was Mr. Stark going to buy him dinner to make him feel better about losing the suit?
“Sure,” he nodded, trying not to seem morose or ungrateful.
Mr. Stark swiped a few more times on his phone, and then he picked up Peter’s suit and plugged it into his laptop using a USB port.
He waved Peter over, pulling up a screen full of code. “So here’s the coding for the suit. We shouldn’t need to check it too often, I’m thinking once a month or so, or if you have any glitches or bugs, of course. Most of the maintenance will be physical.”
“I—what?” Peter responded inarticulately.
Mr. Stark looked puzzled. “Your suit, Underoos. It needs regular maintenance. You don’t want to find out the hard way that your parachute isn’t working or that your web shooters are jammed, do you?”
“You’re—you’re letting me keep the suit?” Peter stammered.
Mr. Stark’s eyes narrowed. “Yes. What—did Happy tell you I was taking the suit away as a joke or something?”
"No. He just said that you wanted to see me. I thought—”
Mr. Stark sighed. “Alright, listen up, kid. Look. I...shouldn’t have taken your suit away. It was far more dangerous for you to be out there in that onesie—”
“Not a onesie.”
“Fine, in those pajamas, then. No, don’t argue. Anyway, lesson learned. I’m not going to take the suit away again.”
“R-really?”
“Well, if you disable my protocols again or do something reckless, I might take it away temporarily.”
“You’re going to ground me?”
As soon as he asked, Peter felt mortified. Mr. Stark wouldn’t ground Peter. That was something that parents did. Not superheroes.
To his surprise, Mr. Stark didn’t seem freaked out. “Sure, if that’s how you want to think about it,” he shrugged. “Anyway, suit maintenance. It’s gotta be part of your superhero routine, kiddo. I’m thinking every other week, what do you say?”
Peter could only nod, still in a state of shock.
“Mr. Stark...I wanted to say. I’m sorry about May, uh, yelling at you.”
Mr. Stark laughed. “Trust me, Pete. That isn’t the first time an attractive woman has called to yell at me for being an asshole. Probably won’t be the last.”
Mr. Stark clapped him on the shoulder. Peter barely managed to stop himself from leaning into it.
***
He and Mr. Stark never talked about it, but once every other week gradually became once every week. And after a few months, once every week turned into Wednesdays and Fridays, with an occasional Friday overnight thrown in if they found themselves working late.
At first, there was a lot to be done with the suit. Peter needed to learn how to do the maintenance himself, what to look for in the code, how to check that everything was in working order. He started manufacturing his web fluid in Mr. Stark’s lab, too, and it was a lot easier to concentrate and make improvements to his formula when he didn’t have to hide what he was doing from his chemistry teacher.
But after a while, he just started helping Mr. Stark out with whatever projects he was in the middle of.
“You seem happier,” Ned commented unexpectedly at lunch one day after Peter finished describing the modifications they’d been making to Rhodey’s leg braces the previous evening.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Peter asked, suddenly uncomfortable.
Ned held his hands up in a gesture of innocence. “Nothing, Peter. I just think working with Mr. Stark has been good for you.” When he saw Peter’s suspicious expression, he quickly added, “Think about all the engineering experience you’re getting.”
Even May, who’d taken to scowling every time she saw Mr. Stark’s face on TV or a magazine cover, seemed to have softened somewhat.
“Alright.” May clapped her hands together when he emerged from his bedroom in Ben’s old suit, ready for Midtown’s spring dance. “I’ve got the usual YouTube video pulled up. Let’s figure out that tie.”
“Oh,” Peter said. “I actually—I can do it. Mr. Stark taught me last month when I had to wear a suit to that conference.”
May watched thoughtfully as Peter carefully went through the motions that Mr. Stark had drilled into his head. The knot was a bit lopsided at the end, but it was passable.
The next time they were grocery shopping, the magazine rack next to the check-out featured several unflattering paparazzi photos of Mr. Stark with the usual headlines: “Shocking New Proof That Tony Stark Is Dating Vladamir Putin’s daughter,” and “Is Stark Industries Designing a New Line of Weapons for Child Soldiers?” and Peter’s personal favorite: “Is Rihanna Pregnant with Tony Stark’s Love Child?”
“She just had lunch with Mr. Stark and Ms. Potts when she was in town,” Peter clarified to May. “Pepper really loves her music.”
“The paparazzi should mind their own business,” May sniffed disapprovingly. “It’s really disrespectful to spread rumors like that. These are real people with real lives.”
Peter wisely kept his mouth shut and kept piling food on the conveyor belt, but he smiled when he was sure May wasn’t looking.
It wasn’t a compliment or actual approval, but it was a start.
***
Here was the thing that Peter didn’t tell May or Mr. Stark: He sometimes used his magic in the line of duty as Spider-Man.
He’d started off resolved against it. After all, Spider-Man was a way for him to make up for selfishly conserving his life energy. It was supposed to be something different, something separate. Not to mention, it made May sad and anxious when he used his gift, and she was barely allowing him to be Spider-Man at all. Plus, Ben had always wanted him to wait until he was eighteen to decide how to use his magic.
But people bleeding out and dying couldn’t wait until he was eighteen.
It was just bits and pieces, here and there. A woman who’d been stabbed during a mugging gone wrong on her morning jog in the park. A teenager who’d crashed his car into a pole. A middle-aged man who had a heart attack while sweeping the front stoop of his bodega.
He did the proper thing and always called the authorities first. But sometimes, when he was waiting for an ambulance to show up, he couldn’t help but soothe their pain with just a bit of his magic.
It cost him a few days. A few weeks. A month or two, tops.
Of course, it would all add up over time.
But Peter was used to ignoring the math.
***
There was another pressing matter to worry about, too: Tony Stark turned out to be, surprisingly, a very physically affectionate human being.
He was the same type of second-generation Italian-American as May: he talked with his hands, he made the sign of the cross whenever he was shocked by something (despite no other signs of having any sort of religious belief), and he was a hugger.
Peter had first observed this last phenomenon in relation to Mr. Rhodes and Ms. Potts, who often hung around the Tower. Mr. Stark was always throwing an arm around Rhodey’s shoulders, hugging him hello and goodbye, kissing Pepper on the cheek after a long work day, leaning around her during dinner prep to grab a pan or some salt. Once, as he and Mr. Stark sat on the couch watching a movie after dinner and Pepper sat on the floor in front of them typing away on her laptop, he’d even watched Mr. Stark absentmindedly braid her hair.
It made sense, Peter supposed. Mr. Stark had been through a lot, when you really stopped to think about it. His parents had been murdered, he’d been kidnapped and almost died in Afghanistan, his dad’s business partner had betrayed him, he’d almost been sucked into a wormhole, one of his inventions had gone power-mad and tried to take over the world—and, oh yeah, just last year, one of his best friends had taken a bunch of his other friends and gone rogue, caused an international crisis, and disappeared—and the list went on.
Here was the thing that Peter now realized: he’d known all of this about Mr. Stark for years, but none of it had been real until he knew Mr. Stark.
Mr. Stark’s public persona didn’t have any trauma. He was brash, swaggering, and confident. A party animal. Genius, billionaire, playboy, etc.
Mr. Stark—the real Mr. Stark—had very few people he trusted and was actually close to.
And Peter...wasn’t sure where he fit into that continuum.
There had been a few times, early on, when Mr. Stark had tried to pat him on the shoulder, or ruffle his hair, or even wrap one arm around him, seemingly on autopilot. Peter flinched back or ducked away every single time, even as his magic tried to nudge him forward.
It was awful.
He missed Ben. He was trying to be strong for May. And here was Mr. Stark, his idol and kind-of mentor, who seemed to be trying to say through his body language, I’ve got you, kid, you belong here.
And Peter brushed him off each time.
At first, Mr. Stark just looked at him kind of weirdly, retracting his hand. He tried it another time or two after that and looked confused and a bit...upset?...when Peter shrugged out of his grip.
And then he stopped trying to bestow any kind of physical affection on Peter, which...sucked. Sometimes, they’d be working close together on an engine or a piece of nanotech, and Mr. Stark’s shoulder would accidentally brush against his, and Peter would think, Please, god. I’m so tired. I just want a hug.
But the less he used his magic, the more reactive it was.
And he definitely didn’t want Mr. Stark to find out about his magic, so he’d reluctantly drag himself back, scooting a few inches further out of Mr. Stark’s personal space.
One time, he fell asleep on the couch in the penthouse after dinner, exhausted from a long day of school and lab work. Mr. Stark gently nudged him awake and escorted him, stumbling and half-asleep, to the guest room he always used when he stayed over.
This time, when Mr. Stark wrapped an arm around him to support his weight, Peter slumped into it. He had the common sense to make sure his hands were buried in the sleeves of his oversized sweatshirt in case they started glowing blue, but he didn’t care much beyond that. His guard was down, and it felt good to lean against Mr. Stark, to trust someone else with his weight.
“Whoa,” he dimly heard Mr. Stark grunt, adjusting his grip so that he could keep Peter upright. “When you let me hug you, you really go all in, huh, kiddo?”
Peter tried to say something, but it just came out as an unintelligible mumble.
The bedroom was dark, except for the silvery light of the moon. Over the past few months, more and more of Peter’s stuff had ended up in this guest room. Mr. Stark and Pepper had eventually started calling it Peter’s room instead of the second guest room on the left.
Mr. Stark pulled back the covers so that Peter could flop into bed.
He felt gentle hands pull the blanket up near his chin. The last person who’d done this for him was Ben, just a year or two ago. It felt like lifetimes ago.
Mr. Stark was quiet for a moment. Peter had almost drifted off again when he felt a warm hand reach out and rest on the top of his head, just for a second.
“G’night, Mr. Stark,” he managed to say.
“Night, Pete,” he thought he heard before he fell back to sleep.
***
It was all going swimmingly until an apartment building caught fire off 31st Ave in Jackson Heights.
“Peter, per my protocols, I’m—"
“No, no, no, no—” Peter chanted breathlessly as he scrambled up the side of the building. The façade was alarmingly hot to the touch, and he had to move quickly so his fingers didn’t burn. “Don’t call him. Please, Karen.”
“I’m sorry, Peter, but you have repeatedly entered and exited a building that is on the verge of collapse. Per my algorithms, once you have engaged in a risky behavior, you are unlikely to disengage without intervention."
Peter was only listening to this with half an ear. A mother waiting with the assembled crowd of onlookers had screamed to him that her kids were trapped in their bedroom on the fifth floor.
“Peter, my scans show that the building is extremely volatile, and the fire is at the point of flashover,” Karen continued. “Mr. Stark says—”
“Mute, Karen! Mute,” he commanded quickly. If Peter couldn’t hear Mr. Stark’s message, then he couldn’t be at fault for disobeying.
If an AI could be reluctant, he was sure that Karen was reluctant. But she obediently fell silent, and Peter focused on his task again. Having reached the fifth floor, he began to wall-walk horizontally, stopping by each fifth floor window and calling out.
He made it to the eighth window before his super hearing picked up on faint coughing noises. Wasting no time, he used his elbow to break the glass and clamber inside.
“Hello?” He called, beginning to cough himself. His mask filtered the air, but the room was almost pitch black from the smoke, and some of it inevitably seeped into his suit.
“Help!” He heard a faint voice call from under one of the beds.
Peter stumbled forward blindly until his legs made contact with something soft but solid. He dropped to his knees and shouted under the bed.
“I’m here! Crawl out and we’ll go out the window!”
A preteen boy crawled out from under the bed. He looked to be just a few years younger than Peter.
“My brother,” he choked in a weak voice. “He’s unconscious.”
Peter nodded grimly, fumbling around until he found the younger brother. He picked the unconscious boy up and grabbed the other one by the arm. Together, they made their way to the window.
“Peter!” Karen shouted suddenly in his ear. It must have been something bad if she’d been able to override his mute command. “The east side of the building is about to collapse. Evacuate immediately.”
Fortunately, they were on the west side of the building. But there was no telling what the impact of half the building falling would be.
“Right,” Peter told the boy at his side, trying to sound calm. “Hold on tight, okay?” He quickly scanned the surrounding area, looking for something he could web onto to swing them down. They couldn’t rely on the building facade anymore.
“Spidey!” A familiar voice shouted. Peter thought he’d never been so grateful to see Mr. Stark before. Iron Man flew towards them. “Give me the kids!”
Peter helped the older boy jump into Mr. Stark’s grip. But then the entire building began to rumble ominously, and there was no more time to pass the younger brother over. Peter shot a web at the closest building, and, clutching the remaining brother with a death grip, swung away from the falling building.
He slammed into the wall of the building he’d webbed onto, and only the tensile strength of his webbing saved himself and his charge from plummeting four stories down to earth.
Peter hastily swung down, carefully laying the unconscious boy on the ground. He looked to be about 10 or 11, with freckles and a shock of bright orange hair. His face was deathly white, almost bluish. He didn’t stir when Peter rubbed his sternum and spoke loudly. His pulse was thready. Peter’s heart twisted when he noticed that the kid was wearing Avengers-themed pajamas.
Fortunately, they were in an alleyway, out of the view of the crowd.
“Alright, buddy,” Peter muttered determinedly. “Let’s do this.”
He wrapped his arms around the boy as best as he could without moving him too much, allowing his magic to swell to the surface. It was always eager to help, especially after he kept it locked away. Peter felt the magic jump from his arms to the kid, clearing his lungs, easing his breathing, healing the burns on his arms and legs.
Once the boy seemed stable, Peter began to withdraw, exhausted from expending so much energy. He wanted to slump over and join the kid on the ground, but he still needed urgent medical care and Peter was sure that his mom was panicking somewhere nearby.
“Okay,” he sighed tiredly. “Let’s get you over to an ambulance, okay?” He had just mustered the strength to stand up when he heard a sudden movement behind him.
When he turned around, Mr. Stark was standing there, staring in shock at Peter’s hands, which were glowing bright blue through his suit.
***
“Hello,” Mr. Stark said pleasantly when May opened the door, breezing inside and helping Peter over to the nearby couch. “Either your kid has a serious circulatory problem with his hands, or he’s about to turn into a blueberry like that girl from Willy Wonka.”
Through his haze of weariness, Peter winced. This was probably not the best way to break the news to May, especially since she wasn’t exactly Mr. Stark’s biggest fan.
Mr. Stark kept one hand on Peter’s shoulder as Peter slumped further into the couch cushions, perhaps in a gesture of support. May, noticing this, quickly pushed his arm away from Peter.
“Get your hand off him!”
Mr. Stark obeyed instantly, looking confused and concerned. Peter sighed in relief, letting his head tip back against the couch. Now that Mr. Stark wasn’t supporting his weight or touching him, his magic finally began to settle. In a matter of seconds, the blue glow faded from his fingers.  
Mr. Stark’s face paled. “I...Pete, I’m sorry. Was I hurting you?”
It seemed wrong for Mr. Stark to sound so uncertain.
Peter grimaced. There went any chance of him possibly getting away with not explaining his magic.
“It’s nothing,” May said firmly. “He’s fine. You should just—go.”
“It’s okay, May,” Peter said. “He should know. He's trying to keep me alive, just like you.”
Mr. Stark looked between the two of them slowly. “Know what?” He asked.
***
Mr. Stark took it about as well as Peter had thought he would.
“I’m sorry,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose between two fingers and pacing across their living room disbelievingly. “So you’re telling me that every time I patted you on the shoulder, I was...what, sucking a week of your life away? Like a...like a dementor?”
“No,” Peter said quickly. “I mean, good analogy. But it’s only if I hug you . Usually. But...if people hug me or get too close, my magic wants to reach out and latch on. It’s a bit difficult to control, so I usually just...don’t let people touch me.”
“Christ, Pete. That’s—”
“It’s okay,” Peter shrugged. “You ever read that old book, Ella Enchanted? Where her fairy godmother gives her the gift of obedience, but it really turned out to be more of a curse? It’s kind of like that. Cool idea, yeah, sure, save lives—but turns out that it’s not super practical.”
May had been mostly silent, allowing Peter to explain everything to Mr. Stark. She cut into his rambling now, and her accusatory tone of voice instantly put him on alert. “You’ve done this before. You’ve been using your magic as Spider-Man, haven’t you?”
Mr. Stark stopped pacing to stare at him, horror dawning on his face as he seemed to understand the implication of what May was suggesting.
Peter looked between the two of them nervously. “Just—just every once in a while,” he admitted meekly.
May looked crestfallen. “Peter, you promised.”
“It’s not that easy! If someone is dying and I can save them, I can’t just do nothing. ”
May shook her head. “This is why I knew the superhero thing was a bad idea. You’ve never been able to keep from using your powers when someone needed it, and now you’re deliberately putting yourself into situations where people are hurt and dying.”
“Please, May,” Peter pleaded, looking frantically between her and Mr. Stark. “Don’t take the suit away again. Being Spider-Man—it helps. It makes it easier not to use my gift. I swear!”
There was a moment of tense silence.
“Emergency medicine,” Mr. Stark said finally.
They both looked at him, confused by the non sequitur.
“Summer is coming up in a few months. Peter can take an EMT class at the community college. And I can put a function in the suit so that he can call my Med Bay during any kind of medical emergency, and they can advise him.” Mr. Stark looked directly at Peter now. “That way you can help save people without using your magic.”
May was quiet for a minute. “That...isn’t a half-bad idea,” she said slowly.
“And I can put a protocol in the suit that will alert me if Peter uses his magic.”
Peter groaned.
“Sorry, Peter. Those are the terms and conditions if you want us to trust you with the suit,” May said decisively, crossing her arms over her chest.
It was then that Peter perceived a shift in the room’s dynamics. May and Mr. Stark were suddenly united and determined to work together to keep him safe.
He was sure that the increased scrutiny and mother-henning was going to be a pain in the ass. But some small part of him was pleased, too, remembering what it had been like when Ben and his parents were alive.
***
The next time Peter used his magic on the job, Mr. Stark showed up looking ready for an argument. It was late at night, nearly an hour past Peter’s 11 PM curfew. Strike 2 was the fact that Peter’s hands were still blazing bright blue when Mr. Stark arrived, evidence of his misdeeds.
All of the fight seemed to leave Mr. Stark the second he saw Peter sitting in an alleyway with his arms wrapped around his knees, however. It was a rainy night, but Peter took no notice of the cold drops of water pelting his skin.
“Hey, Underoos,” Mr. Stark said, dropping into a crouch in front of Peter and popping an umbrella open so it covered both of them. “What happened?”
“The ambulance just left,” Peter whispered. “The guy...he didn’t make it.”
“Oh, kid,” Mr. Stark sighed. He reached out like he wanted to put a hand on Peter’s shoulder, twitching and stopping at the last second when he remembered how overactive Peter’s magic always got after he used it. “Come on. Let’s get out of this weather, okay?”
Peter shrugged, but he obediently followed Mr. Stark to the waiting car.
Mr. Stark cranked the heat up, and they drove in silence. Peter was surprised when they pulled up in front of the Tower’s parking garage.
“Oh. You could have brought me home,” he protested weakly. “I’m fine.”
Mr. Stark gave him a look that was difficult to decipher. “Your aunt usually works a double on Thursdays, right?”
Peter nodded.
“Then that settles it. Come on up.”
The elevator doors opened, and they stepped inside, quiet and dripping wet from the rain. The ride up to the penthouse took a few minutes, since they had to go up so many stories. Peter stared straight ahead, completely numb. The rain had washed most of the victim’s blood off of Peter’s hands, but he kept remembering how scared the man had been, how he’d tried to tell Peter something about his wife, probably that he loved her.
Peter didn’t realize he was shaking until Mr. Stark tentatively reached out and removed Peter’s mask, gently tugging it over his face and hair.
“What’s going on in that head of yours, Pete?” He asked, looking carefully at Peter’s face.  
“I just keep thinking…” Peter’s voice faltered.  
“It’s okay, bud. Take your time.” Mr. Stark once again lifted a hand like he wanted to put it on Peter’s shoulder, but he stopped himself at the last second.  
Peter swallowed. “It was just like Ben.” He wrapped his arms tightly around his torso to hold himself, shivering uncontrollably. “The guy, he was shot by some muggers. And I couldn’t save him.”
Peter still remembered how Ben used to sit next to him on the couch while they watched TV, close enough to offer comfort without touching. He remembered how, on the first anniversary of his parents’ deaths, Ben had taken him on a camping trip up north, in Maine, far away from all the familiar old places that hurt to drive past or think about. They’d stayed up late, lying on a blanket and looking up at the night sky. Once their campfire had dwindled down to a smoky flicker, they’d been able to see millions of stars. Ben had pointed out some constellations, and then he’d told Peter about how every person was made up of bits of stardust, and that no energy in the universe was ever lost or gained. His parents still lived, Ben had said, even if it was only through Peter’s curly hair and his keen interest in science and his inherited dislike of mushrooms.
Even if it was only in the broadest sense, in the equilibrium of the entire universe.
Peter had only been seven, so he hadn’t been able to put it into words then, but when he looked back on that night now, he thought, That’s what it’s like to be held by somebody, even without them ever touching you.
“Pete,” Mr. Stark was saying in the present. “You did everything you could. For your uncle and for this guy tonight. Hell, you did more than any other human could do for both of them.”
Peter’s magic felt like a wildfire inside of him, burning to get out.
“It still wasn’t enough. It’s never enough,” Peter whispered.
Mr. Stark looked physically pained that he couldn’t put a hand on Peter’s shoulder.
“Right,” he said when the elevator doors opened at the penthouse. “Here’s what we’re going to do: You’re going to take a hot shower and change into something warm, okay? Let me take care of everything else.”
Peter shrugged but went to do as he was bade.
When he emerged from his room some time later, dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, the first thing he noticed was a pile of what looked like clothing on the couch. There was a note on top of it.
Underoos, it said, meet me on the roof.
The bundle turned out to be a thick, warm blanket and an old MIT sweatshirt that he’d seen Mr. Stark wear around the lab sometimes. He found himself smiling slightly as he picked the sweatshirt up. It smelled just like Mr. Stark—like coffee and cologne and machine oil. It was like Mr. Stark, ever the engineer, had calculated the closest way possible to hug him without actually hugging him. He felt his magic instantly begin to settle as he pulled it over his head.
Wrapping the blanket around his shoulders, he took the elevator up to the roof. He’d never been up here before. He got cold easily to begin with, and the weather hadn’t been quite warm enough yet, especially this high up in the air.
But when he stepped outside onto the rooftop deck, he saw that Mr. Stark had a plan to keep them warm and dry. There was another blanket spread out on the ground with a few different thermoses on top of it. The rain had trailed off into a drizzle, and Mr. Stark had set everything up, including a heat lamp, under a covered part of the rooftop, so they wouldn’t get wet or cold.
“There’s tea in that thermos,” Mr. Stark said by way of greeting. “And I’ve got the heat lamp turned up, but let me know if you’re still cold.”
“It’s—it’s great,” Peter said, suddenly at a loss for words. “Thanks.”
Mr. Stark watched with a slightly anxious gaze as Peter settled himself on the blanket.
“I know it’s not exactly a great view, with the rain and all the city lights,” he apologized. “But I think being up here is kind of nice, regardless. It always gives me a bit of perspective—kind of like flying over the city in a plane.”
Peter nodded, looking out at the immense sprawl of the city. It stretched on for miles in each direction, interrupted only by the blank, dark splotches where the river and the ocean were.
“Makes you realize how many people are out there who need protection,” Peter remarked soberly.
“Or,” Mr. Stark said gently, nudging Peter’s shoulder with his own, just a fleeting second of physical contact. “It could remind you of the fact that you’re just one human, and even if you do your best, you’ll never be able to save everyone.”
Peter couldn’t help but smile wistfully at that. “You sound like Ben,” he said, watching the tiny red lights of cars flicker in the distance below. “May always just comes out and tells me not to use my magic. Ben—he understood that it wasn’t quite that easy.”
Mr. Stark was quiet for a moment. “He sounds like he was a good man.”
“I think he would’ve liked you,” Peter found himself saying. “May was always telling me not to look up to you. No offense—”
“None taken. I was a shit show,” Mr. Stark snorted.
Peter laughed. “But Ben saw what I saw. That your real superpower was your brain, not your wallet or your famous name. I think he—I think he wanted me to look up to someone like that. You couldn’t control being a Stark, just like I couldn’t control having the Fitzpatrick magic.”
“I’m sorry I never got to meet him.”
Peter nodded, his throat tight. “Me too,” he whispered. It was the most he’d spoken about Ben since he had died nearly a year earlier, he realized.
They sat in silence for a long time after that, just watching the city go by below. It was silent this high up, the noises of cars and pedestrians 93 stories away from them. The only sound was the rain gently pattering on the awning above their heads, and it was a blissful relief to Peter’s overtaxed super senses.
Some time later, well into the night, a cloud descended and blanketed the top of Stark Tower. Peter dozed off, but when he awoke again, he found that the cloud had completely blocked out the view of the city below.
“Pretty amazing, right?” Mr. Stark asked. He’d brought a circuit board with him, and he was messing with some coding on his Stark Pad. He set it aside when Peter woke up, though, and for some hazy amount of time, they watched the clouds swirl below them.
It felt like they were the only two people in the world at that moment.
The next time Peter woke up, it was just before dawn, right when everything took on a soft bluish cast. The clouds were still there and so was Mr. Stark, working on his circuit board, like a sentinel guarding Peter from his nightmares and his grief.
***
Sometimes there were days when Peter could barely get out of bed.
It had been the same way after his parents died, but it was almost worse with Ben. At least his grief over his parents had been simple and guiltless. Now, he would lay in bed, listening to May get ready for work a few rooms over, and he would think to himself: She could get hit by a car while crossing the road. A patient could attack her.
She could die too.
Fitzpatrick Luck had cursed him with a magical gift. Parker Luck had gotten his parents and Ben killed.
It could happen again.
On the bad days, he’d sit on the subway on his way to school and look around at all the people, some chatting quietly with one another, some listening to music. An old lady doing a crossword puzzle. A baby smiling at the man sitting next to her, who couldn’t seem to stop himself from smiling back.
And he’d wonder, on the bad days, how these people could do it. How they could put on their work clothes and leave their homes and stop for a coffee, all the while ignoring the fact that people died every day, in horrible and tragic ways.
But sometimes there were days when everything felt okay.
Days when Ned would send him a funny meme in the morning, and they’d text each other on their respective train rides to school. Days when MJ would sit with them at lunch, and she’d glare so fiercely at everyone who walked past that not even Flash would come over and bother them. Days when May would get off work early, and she’d pick him up from school and take him to their favorite Thai restaurant. Days when he’d have a good patrol, and he’d fall into bed at night knowing that he’d helped people.
And, increasingly, days where Mr. Stark would swoop in and keep him so busy mixing web fluid and rebuilding old car engines and programming new nanotech that he didn’t have time to think about Ben, or May dying, or Ned going to college on the other side of the country and no longer needing him.
Or days when there was a knock at the door and Mr. Stark was standing outside of his apartment, holding a bag of groceries.
“Um. Did I forget lab day or something?” Peter asked, scratching his head. He’d just gotten home from patrol half an hour earlier, and he could’ve sworn it was a Tuesday, not a Wednesday—
“Gee, thanks for the warm greeting, kid,” Mr. Stark said cheerfully, inviting himself in and heading straight for the kitchen.
Peter followed, nonplussed. “Yeah, sure, make yourself at home.” He watched as Mr. Stark began putting vegetables in the refrigerator. “Did the penthouse kitchen spring a leak, or something?”
Mr. Stark didn’t quite meet his eyes. “What, can’t I come visit my favorite crime-fighting spider without an interrogation? You wound me, Pete.”
“No,” Peter said slowly. “But—I mean. You’ve never shown up and cooked dinner here before.”
Mr. Stark didn’t seem to want to talk about it. “Cute pajama pants, kid.”
Peter looked down and flushed. He hadn’t been expecting to see anyone tonight, since May was working late, so he’d put on the Hello Kitty pajama pants after his shower.
Well, if Mr. Stark could change the subject, then so could he.
“I was already making dinner,” he said, pointing to a tray on the counter where he’d been laying out pizza rolls.
Mr. Stark looked offended. “You’re not eating pizza rolls when I’m here to make you my mom’s spaghetti alla puttanesca. Put that away and get a knife. You know how to mince garlic?”
Peter nodded. “But I have a lot of reading to do for my English class.” He felt bad as soon as he said it. Some of the fake cheerfulness slipped from Mr. Stark’s face, and Peter realized, for the first time, that Mr. Stark probably had bad days too. Maybe he wasn’t here because of anything related to Peter. Maybe he was just here because he needed to go somewhere and do something to get his mind off his problems. Pepper was on a business trip in Japan, and the penthouse was a big place.
“I could play the audiobook version, though,” he added quickly.
Mr. Stark nodded, and Peter quickly set up his phone’s YouTube account to play Pride and Prejudice.
“Really?” Mr. Stark groaned. “ Pride and Prejudice? They still make you guys read this stuff in school?”
Peter shrugged. “I guess so. I’m a few chapters in. May loves it, and it’s easier to understand than Beowulf. That’s about all I know about it.”
Mr. Stark snorted and tossed him a bulb of garlic.
“You okay, Mr. Stark?” Peter asked cautiously.
Mr. Stark shook his head as if to clear it. “Just...got some news. Every so often, I hear rumors of a new threat to the existence of the universe. But...95% of the time, it turns out to be nothing. I’m sure it’ll be nothing in this case, too.”
He didn’t look entirely convinced of his own words, but he turned away and began to loudly rummage around for pots and pans, effectively ending the conversation.
***
By the time that May arrived home a few hours later, they were sitting at the kitchen table and hotly debating whether or not Mr. Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth had been out of line.
“He insulted her family!” Peter exclaimed.
“But her mother was extremely objectionable! You heard how she was going around and basically bragging that Jane would marry Bingley and make them wealthy!”
“No!” Peter shook his head furiously. “No, she’s a product of the system. She has no other agency in this society. The only way for her to secure her daughters’ futures is to marry them off. Of course she’s a bit overeager—”
“Just because she’s a product of her circumstances doesn’t mean that she’s not a ridiculous person!”
“Hi, boys,” May said, barely holding back a laugh.
“May!” Peter greeted her happily. “Come eat some spaghetti alla puttanesca."
“Yeah, and tell us that Darcy was right to be honest about his concerns with Elizabeth’s family.”
“Don’t listen to him, May. He’s not exactly a shining example. He only proposed to Pepper because I said no to joining the Avengers and he’d already called a press conference,” Peter said, laughing.
Mr. Stark pretended to be mad about this comment, but he ended up laughing too, and Peter suddenly found himself wanting to memorize the moment—May, home safe from a long day at work, pouring herself a glass of wine. Mr. Stark, looking far more at ease than when he’d arrived here earlier.  
Something could go wrong, Peter’s anxiety told him. Or maybe it was his spidey sense. Something could change. This could all go away.
But this was a good day, so Peter didn’t let himself dwell on it for long.
***
He told Ned an abbreviated version of the story a few days later. It was a field trip day, and they were using the bus ride to debrief.
“Dude,” Ned said, sounding impressed. “I think he, like, really loves you. Oh my god, man, Iron Man is basically your dad!”
“Ned!” Peter hissed, panicked. “Keep your voice down. And don’t say stuff like that! He’s not—he’s just—”
Ned backed off, holding his hands up in surrender. “I know he’s not literally your dad. It just—it kind of seems like a dad type of thing to do, that’s all. He made you his mom’s pasta, Peter.”
“He’s just my mentor,” Peter grumbled. “And he barely wanted that job in the first place.”
“Yeah, but I’m sure he’s changed his mind by now. I mean, you spend the night over there like once a week now, dude!”
Peter shrugged. “I think he’s just paying careful attention because he’s afraid of May, to be honest.”
He didn’t like the knowing look Ned leveled at him. But he didn’t want to think about his relationship with Mr. Stark right now. He just—he needed time. Time to mourn Ben, time to figure everything out. And now, he actually had time. Homecoming was long over, and he was really starting to get the hang of being Spider-Man.
What was that old saying— Had we but world enough, and time —?
“Hey,” Ned interrupted his thoughts. “What do you think we’re going to see on the field trip? I haven’t been to MOMA in ages.”
Peter was about to reply, but all of a sudden, his skin erupted in goosebumps. He scrambled across the bus to look out the window. When he saw smoke and chaos in the distance, he activated his web shooters and swung out the bus and off to find Mr. Stark.
iii.
When Peter came back to life on Titan, everything was a blur. It felt like he’d been asleep for a very, very long time, in a place where the sun was always orange, just like the last moments of a sunset.
He looked around and saw others reappearing, and then Dr. Strange said that five years had passed and he transported them all back to earth and—it was a lot to wrap his mind around. Where was May? Was she okay? What about Mr. Stark? And Ned? Had they gotten dusty too? If so, had they reappeared like Peter? Why was a battle happening at the Avengers compound?
It wasn’t until he saw the familiar Iron Man suit again from across the battlefield that his stomach began to unclench. Mr. Stark was the safest person he could’ve seen in that moment besides May. He was the only constant variable in a quickly-shifting nightmare. Surely he’d be able to reassure Peter that, no, five years hadn’t passed, and yes, everything was fine. This was just a bizarre dream and he’d wake up soon and everything would be like it used to.
He swung over, helping Mr. Stark up after Ant-Man stomped past.
Mr. Stark retracted his mask, then, and the illusion of safety fell away. Because Mr. Stark looked—different. Worn. Older. And he was currently staring at Peter with a completely unfamiliar look—shock and disbelief and wonder and other emotions openly warring for dominance on his face.
“Hey! Holy cow, you will not believe what’s been going on,” Peter rambled nervously, desperately trying to cling to something familiar. If there was anything that was a constant in his relationship with Mr. Stark, it was him spouting off nonsense and Mr. Stark bantering with him in response.
“Do you remember when we were in space? And I got all dusty? And I must have passed out, because I woke up and you were gone, but Dr. Strange was there, right? And he was like, ‘It’s been five years; come on, they need us.’ And then he started doing the yellow sparkly thing—”
He stepped back slightly to demonstrate the yellow sparkly thing, and he was startled when Mr. Stark stepped forward into his personal space. This was another thing that Mr. Stark normally never would’ve done, because he was just as zealous about Peter not using his magic carelessly as May was.
Please, Mr. Stark, he wanted to plead. Tell me it’s not true. Tell me it hasn’t really been five years—
“Hold me, kid. Hold me,” Mr. Stark said, and then—the world must have really been ending, because Mr. Stark was hugging him.
“What are you doing?” Peter asked, bewildered, before his brain caught up to his body and he registered the fact that Mr. Stark’s arms were pulling him close. And he remembered that his last memory before the eternal orange sunset had been of crumbling into tiny pieces, clinging to Mr. Stark and crying and begging not to go. The battle had distracted him from the remnants of that fear and grief, but it was still there. And he remembered all the other times he’d wished for a hug from Mr. Stark; all the times that Mr. Stark had held a hand out to touch him but backed off at the last second.
“Oh...this is nice,” he said inanely.
He should’ve known then, what Tony planned to do if he had to.
Tony was the last person, besides May, who would ever give him a long, close hug. The only reason Tony would allow it was as a way to say goodbye.
So he should’ve known, but he didn’t. He was too busy enjoying the way it felt to be cradled in Mr. Stark’s arms, temporarily shielded from the battle and his own anxious thoughts about May and Ned.
Perhaps his spider sense knew the truth on some level, though. When Tony let him go after a minute, Peter’s throat instantly closed off with inexplicable tears.
It didn’t feel like a reunion, he realized later. It felt like a farewell.
***
“We’re going to be okay. You can rest now,” Pepper promised Tony as they all stood in front of his crumpled form.
Tony looked up at Peter then. He seemed beyond speech, slipping away more and more each second.
Yet somehow, Peter knew what Tony was saying, even though the only part of his body he could move anymore was his eyes.
Don’t do it, kid, he was saying. Let me go.
“No!” Peter snapped suddenly, interrupting Pepper’s peaceful goodbye.  
Mr. Stark couldn’t rest now. And they weren’t going to be okay. Nothing was ever going to be okay again after this.
Mr. Stark still had to take him to see the redwood trees in California. He was supposed to be there when Peter graduated high school. He had to finish teaching Peter how to parallel park. And sit on the roof of the Tower with him when things got rough. And make him spaghetti using his mom’s old recipe—
Peter dove forward, wrapping his arms around Mr. Stark’s shoulders, calling on his magic like he’d never called on it before.
With great power comes great responsibility, Ben had always told him.
Ben had been too far gone when Peter had gotten to the scene of his death. He’d tried to use his magic anyway, and later, he’d found himself thinking bitterly, You were wrong, Ben—with great power comes great grief and guilt and loss and pain.
Now, as he poured his magic into Mr. Stark’s wounds, he could sense that he wasn’t too late. There was the slightest chance that if he stopped the radiation from spreading any further than his arm—if he could block it from reaching Mr. Stark’s lungs and heart and other organs—he might survive.
His magic greeted Mr. Stark like an old friend, swiftly neutralizing the radiation, reversing the damage, easing Mr. Stark’s pain.
“What’s he doing?” He heard Rhodey ask behind him.
“I don’t—Tony is trying to say something! What are you saying, Tony?” Pepper called frantically.
That was the last thing Peter heard. Every fiber of his being had tunneled down to the golden threads of magic connecting his fingers to Tony.
Are you sure you want to keep going? His magic seemed to be asking him. This is further than we’ve ever gone before.
Give as much as he needs, Peter thought back instantly. His vision was beginning to dim, but he kept his arms wrapped tightly around Mr. Stark’s neck, even as he felt someone trying to pull him away.
For a blurred, glorious moment, it felt like he and his magic were one being instead of two separate entities, completely united in the task of saving Mr. Stark.
Give it all, if he needs it, was his last thought before darkness swept over him and he lost consciousness.
iv.  
“You have to talk to him, Peter,” May sighed, handing a plate to Peter to dry. They’d just eaten dinner, and Peter was helping her clean up the kitchen. “I know this is killing you inside just as much as it’s affecting Tony.”
It had been a month since his fight with Tony in Med Bay, and May had been relentlessly on his case about making up with his mentor.
Peter rolled his eyes, drying the plate and putting it in the cupboard above. “Yeah, he seemed really affected when he was shouting at me.”
“He’s been calling me every single day and trying to get me to put you on the line. He said you haven’t been answering his calls, either. I swear, if he wasn’t banned from leaving the penthouse until he’s feeling a little stronger, he’d be breaking down our front door right now.”
Peter just shrugged.
“It’s not like you, baby. You usually don’t hold grudges.”
Peter frowned. “It’s not—it’s not a grudge. I’m not mad at Mr. Stark. He’s mad at me, in case you forgot.”
“Peter,” May sighed. “I think you know that he was only mad at you initially because he was scared and upset. And I think you know, deep down, that there’s another reason why you don’t want to call him or see him now.”
She passed him a mug. Peter dried it, and then he found himself staring at the maze of cupboards, trying to remember where it belonged.
“Mugs go above the stove,” Happy reminded him from the doorway, pointing at the correct cabinet. “Just there.”
“Thanks, Happy,” Peter said.
This was just another thing that was different since he’d come back from the blip—May and Happy’s new apartment, with different places to put cups and plates from the old place.
“Boss has been annoying me about you everyday, too, for the record,” Happy added. He pulled some wet wipes out from underneath the sink and began to wipe down the stove and the countertops. It was clearly a familiar ritual and it was still bizarre to Peter—Happy being here, in his apartment, dressed in old sweats and a t-shirt, holding hands with May while they all watched TV before bed.
“Okay, I get that you’re on Tony’s side, Happy,” Peter said, frowning at his aunt. “But what about you, May? You used to hate him.”
May smiled at him. “That was ages ago, honey. Nowadays, he worries about you even more than I do. Can’t take issue with that.”
“He doesn’t understand,” Peter sighed morosely, flopping onto one of the kitchen chairs.
“You haven’t really given him a chance to, Peter,” May reminded him gently.
***
The thing was: Peter knew, deep down, that May was right. People sometimes said things they regretted or didn’t mean in anger, and he owed Tony a chance to explain himself.
Peter decided that he didn’t have to tell May she was right, though.
So one day, he gathered up all of his courage and swung over to Stark Tower after patrol. The Starks were spending all of their time there while Mr. Stark recovered, but apparently they lived at a lake house three hours north most of the time now.
Just another new thing.
He webbed his way up to the ledge of the penthouse’s balcony, and he was about to swing his legs over the balcony fence when a light flicked on in the penthouse. He’d entered the penthouse by climbing up the side of Stark Tower countless times before, but something made him pause in this instance. Feeling like an intruder, he remained where he was, peeking over the edge of the balcony.
He watched as Tony, Pepper, and Morgan entered the room. Mr. Stark must’ve just come from a physical therapy session or something. He was dressed in workout clothes, and he looked exhausted. He appeared a million times better from how he’d looked in the Med Bay, especially wearing a new prosthetic arm, but it was still strange to see him walk so slowly and carefully.
Morgan kicked off her shoes and tossed her backpack on the couch, immediately grabbing some stuffed animals off the floor. Pepper helped ease Tony onto the couch, and he propped his feet up on the ottoman, looking like he was about to melt into the cushions for a long nap.
Pepper settled on the couch next to Tony on his good side, leaning against him.
As Peter watched, Morgan said something that made both her parents laugh. She skipped over to the couch and gingerly climbed onto Tony’s lap, obviously having been warned several times to mind Tony’s injuries.
She leaned her head against Tony’s chest, and Tony smiled down at her. Both of their faces were bathed in golden lamplight, and the whole scene was warm and cozy. It was clear how much the Starks all loved each other and—
Peter suddenly understood what May had meant when she’d suggested that maybe there was another reason why he didn’t want to talk to Mr. Stark.
Because if he kept his distance, it was easier to pretend that Mr. Stark was still the same. His aunt was different, Happy was different, his apartment was different, and now—now Mr. Stark was different, too.
Because Tony had a kid now. A normal kid, who didn’t cause life-and-death problems when she hugged people. A kid who didn’t stick to walls or have super powers. A kid who was his by blood, who had his exact same dark eyes and bright smile.
All of a sudden, all three Starks turned their heads in his direction, and Peter quickly ducked out of sight.
“Thanks a lot, FRIDAY,” he grumbled, assuming that the AI had ratted him out.
“FRIDAY apologizes, Peter,” Karen informed him. She could connect to FRIDAY when they were in close range of the Tower. “She said that you often come to the Tower this way, and she presumed you wanted her to inform Boss that you were here, like usual.”
Peter shot a web and swung away before Tony or Pepper could come find him. As he soared through the air, he couldn’t help but remember all the times he had entered the Tower just like FRIDAY said—running across the balcony to show Mr. Stark the new LEGO set Ned had bought him for his birthday, staggering into the kitchen with a stab wound after a patrol gone wrong, swinging by for dinner because Ms. Potts was traveling for work and he knew Tony got lonely, even though he would never say it—
“Tell FRIDAY to cancel that protocol,” Peter informed Karen woodenly when he landed on a nearby building.
***
It was almost inevitable.
Peter had been burning both ends of the candle and running himself ragged. The world was in chaos in the aftermath of the blip’s reversal. Patrol was the easiest way to help others and avoid seeing Mr. Stark, so patrol was what he did. He completely ignored the curfew Mr. Stark had set on his suit, muting Karen whenever she reminded him that it was time to head home.
He walked people to relief centers. He gave directions to people whose sense of place had been thrown off by the cityscape’s many changes in the last five years.
He fought against people who wanted to take advantage of the mass disorder to rob convenience stores and banks and mug people in back alleys.
On this particular day, it was just a run-of-the-mill evil guy in Flushing Meadows Park, wearing a stupid-looking green costume that he’d obviously sewed himself. It was probably supposed to look streamlined and reptilian, but it made him look like someone dressed up as an alligator for Halloween, ill-fitting and with odd swaths of extra fabric. Said guy had created, bought, or stolen some kind of alien technology. He had scaled the giant globe in the center of the park and was brandishing a ray gun and was taking shots at random passersby.
“Cute costume,” Peter called casually, climbing the side of the Unisphere with very little effort.
“Get lost, Spider-Boy,” the man had the nerve to say. “I have a new world order to create.”
“Yikes—no can do, Crocodile Boy.”
The man actually stopped shooting momentarily to wheel around and face Peter. “It’s Lizard Man,” he hissed.
Peter knew he shouldn’t escalate the situation when there were innocent bystanders at stake, but he couldn’t help rolling his eyes. Now that he’d gotten closer, he could see that the man was relatively short and slim. He had a mask on, so Peter couldn’t see his face, but his nasally voice was hardly intimidating. Hopefully, he could web the guy up in a matter of seconds and be on his way.
“Peter,” Karen spoke up. “I recommend calling Mr.—”
“Mute, Karen,” Peter snapped.
“At least I do my own work, Spider-Boy,” Lizard Man taunted. “What, you have to call Stark to get his approval to climb up here and fight me? How touching. Your sugar daddy made you that suit, and he—”
Peter shot a web right at Lizard Man’s mouth, not particularly wanting to hear the end of the comment. He watched with satisfaction as the web hit its mark, wrapping around the lower half of Lizard Man’s face.
“I have to say, Crocodile Boy, I like you a lot more when you’re not talking,” Peter said, shooting more webs to fix the villain’s legs to the globe they were standing on top of. “And even more when you’re webbed up.”
He was getting ready to web the ray gun and pull it over to himself when something odd happened. Lizard Man ripped through the webs and freed himself, making it look as easy as ripping through tissue paper. Then he reached up and yanked the web off of his mouth.
Peter stared. It had taken him nearly six months of trial and error to engineer a solution that would dissolve his webs. How—
“Looks like someone didn’t do their research,” Lizard Man grinned smugly.
“Unmute, Karen,” Peter immediately ordered.
“As I was attempting to say earlier, you are currently fighting Lizard Man, Peter, a highly wanted fugitive who has been attempting world domination over the course of the past three years.”
“Oh, shit,” Peter breathed. Peter hadn’t been around for the past three years. He hadn’t even known that Lizard Man was a thing.
“Yes, that’s what I thought you would say,” Lizard Man continued, his mouth curling unsettlingly. “You see, Spider-Boy, I’ve been planning this day for a long time.”
Peter’s spidey sense had been tingling for the past few minutes, but it grew even stronger now. “Call Dr. Banner, Karen,” he muttered under his breath. He had a bad feeling about this.
“Look, I’m not really interested in your tragic backstory,” he said in a louder tone. “Lots of people have tragic backstories. Including a lot of those innocent people you’re shooting at down there. Have you ever thought about trying therapy? Or recreational gardening or something?”
“Stark ruined my plans,” Lizard Man said in a low, dangerous voice. “He defeated Thanos, destroying the possibility of—”
“—creating a new world order, yes, I got that already.”
Peter took a step closer to Lizard Man, who was holding the ray gun behind his back. If he could just get the ray gun and eliminate the risk to the people below—
“I knew I would meet you if I came to Queens. Brave little Spider-Boy, to the rescue.”
Peter’s mind was racing. “Great, cool trap. You got me. Where’s the catch? Because all I see is some dude in a kids’ costume.”
Lizard Man ripped his mask off, and for a second, Peter caught a glimpse of a pale, unremarkable face with mousy hair. But then it looked like Lizard Man’s face was—melting and changing.
Peter recoiled in shock. It almost seemed like Lizard Man was—getting taller? And changing shape?
“Karen,” Peter said slowly, his heart in his throat. “Why is he called Lizard Man?”
“Because he consumed a super serum that turns him into a radioactive lizard at will.”
“Ah, right. Yes. Okay,” Peter said, trying to keep a note of hysteria from his voice.
***
When the horrible transformation stopped, Lizard Man looked undeniably like a lizard. He was grotesque, huge, and hulking, with green scales, a long tail, and glowing yellow eyes.
Peter immediately began shooting webs, because it was his usual go-to battle maneuver. But once again, Lizard Man was able to shrug the webs off as if they were confetti. They were on top of Unisphere, which meant that there was nothing nearby for him to web onto. Thinking quickly, he grabbed onto one of the pieces of metal making the top of the dome, and then he dropped his body into the hollow part of the globe, holding onto the metal as if it were a rung on the monkey bars.
He shot a web across the underside of the top of the globe and swung through the globe, building up some speed. Using the momentum, he flipped back out on top of the globe on the other side of Lizard Man, landing a sharp kick to his back.
Lizard Man barely flinched. He whipped his tail around, catching Peter in the side. Peter relied mostly on his webbing, which meant that his suit was lightweight and not designed for close combat. He fell hard and rolled. His ribs aching, Peter dived for the gun.
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed something strange. His midsection had begun to glow a familiar shade of blue, and the ache in his ribs instantly subsided.
Had his magic just healed his own injury, completely unbidden?
There was no time to think about it in great detail, however, because he had to abruptly change course when Lizard Man fired a blazing bolt in his direction. In order to dodge the blast, he was forced to flip closer to Lizard Man at the last second, putting himself in a vulnerable position. Sharp claws raked down his back, and Peter couldn’t help the scream that escaped him. It felt like Lizard Man’s claws were dipped in acid or poison, the wounds immediately beginning to burn.
Staggering to his feet, Peter jumped at Lizard Man again, landing on his back and using his stickiness to adhere to the villain. He began to pummel Lizard Man with kicks and punches, but the guy clearly had managed to acquire the thick skin characteristic of reptiles.
Still, he was able to snake one hand down and grab onto the gun. He used his stickiness to latch on and he refused to let go. He and Lizard Man began a rather inelegant game of tug-of-war then, each of them determined not to yield the gun. His back was on fire, but he kept holding on.
Using all of his might, Peter suddenly kicked the gun. He watched with satisfaction as it fell towards the earth below. His wounds were burning so badly that he could barely see or stand anymore.
Lizard Man let out a furious, wordless bellow. Peter staggered and struggled to catch his breath. He realized, with a sudden surge of panic, that his limbs were beginning to go numb, perhaps from whatever toxin Lizard Man had on his claws.
As a result, he wasn’t quick enough to move out of the way when Lizard Man’s tail lashed out and whipped him in the legs. Peter scrambled to catch his balance, but there was nothing he could do. The top of the Unisphere was full of gaps and holes. Peter was falling, falling, falling then, careening towards the concrete below with alarming speed. He tried to move his arm to shoot a web, but it barely twitched in response.
As he plummeted towards the earth, darkness crept around the edges of his vision.
He waited for impact, but it never came. He thought felt strong arms metallic arms wrap around him at the last second.
The last thing he remembered was a frantic voice near his ear, calling his name and saying something over and over again to him.
Over the sound of the voice, he thought he heard a familiar heartbeat—just slightly offbeat and uneven, beating unusually fast with fear.
***
Peter woke up in the Med Bay at Stark Tower, and for a moment, it felt just like the good old days—staggering in after patrol, concussed or stabbed, begging Mr. Stark not to tell May what had happened. Waking up in the morning with Mr. Stark dozing next to his bed or working on his Stark Pad.
Mr. Stark was sitting in the usual visitor’s chair, but his gray hair and prosthetic arm immediately reminded Peter that the good old days were long gone.
Mr. Stark was watching him with an unreadable expression, his mouth drawn in a tight line.
“Did they get Lizard Man?” Peter asked cautiously.
Mr. Stark scrubbed a hand over his face, looking tired. “Yeah, Pete. They did. You did good.”
Peter shook his head, remembering how stupid he’d been. “I was ignoring Karen. She was trying to tell me about Lizard Man, but I muted her. It was dumb. I’m sorry.”
Mr. Stark shook his head. “It’s my fault, Pete. I knew he had a grudge against me. I’ve been monitoring him for a few years now, and I knew Thanos’ defeat would piss him off. I just didn’t expect that he’d go for you. And we both know that I’m the reason why you wanted to mute Karen—”
“It’s not your fault,” Peter quickly interjected. “None of this is your fault.”
But Mr. Stark suddenly surged to his feet. “You almost died, ” he croaked, his face pale. “Lizard Man’s claws were coated with enough poison to take down a small army, let alone one superkid. Your magic was the only thing that kept you alive. You were glowing blue all over when I caught you at the Unisphere.”
“I’m—I’m sorry,” Peter stammered.
Mr. Stark shook his head emphatically. “You don’t understand, Pete. Bruce and Helen were in here working on you, and all I could think about was the fight we had, and how the last thing I ever said to you was said in anger.”
Mr. Stark’s voice had changed from the dead, flat tone he’d been using during their fight in Med Bay. He was back to the Mr. Stark that Peter knew, the one who always ordered pizza from Peter’s favorite place, even though he didn’t like their crust. The one who’d bought him Hamilton tickets after he played the soundtrack in the lab a hundred times. The one who’d designed a million safety features for his spidey suit. The one who’d promised him a summer road trip down the West Coast once Peter graduated high school
“Pete,” Mr. Stark repeated, his tone raw. “Buddy. About the fight we had—”  
It was all Peter had been wanting, this entire time, since he’d come back to life on Titan. The easy comfort and familiarity he and Mr. Stark had once shared. But he couldn’t accept it, because Mr. Stark still didn’t understand .
“Mr. Stark,” he said firmly, even though he could feel himself leaning slightly closer to his mentor, like one of his mom’s flowers stretching towards the sun. “I’m not going to apologize or act sorry for what I did. I don’t regret it, and I never will.”
Mr. Stark took a step closer to the bed, as though testing the waters.
“I know, Pete. I’m sorry for the things I said. I just—I hate that you have to deal with this. I was scared and sad, and it was easier to be angry. Can you just—can you try to imagine how I felt, finding out that you gave me ten years of your life?”
Peter shrugged, picking at a thread on his hospital blanket.
“You shouldn’t have come to get me from the Unisphere,” he said, careful to keep his tone neutral. “You’re retired and you’re still recovering. You could’ve injured yourself again.”
“Of course I was going to come for you.” Mr. Stark stared at him. “C’mon, Underoos, you can’t honestly believe that I wouldn’t.”
Peter shrugged.
Mr. Stark sighed and changed tack. “Okay, and what if I got a message that Morgan had been in a fight against a giant lizard-man and her vitals were bottoming out?” He asked, his eyes intent and serious. “What then, Pete? Would you expect me to sit at home at the lake house and wait for Sam and Rhodey to go out and find her?”
“No!” Peter exclaimed, horrified. “Of course not. But that’s Morgan!”
“How is me putting on a suit to help Morgan any different from me putting on a suit to help you?”
“Morgan is four, and she’s not enhanced,” Peter scoffed, his arms crossed over his chest. He struggled into a sitting position and swung his legs over the hospital bed as if to stand, and Tony gently took him by the shoulders and held him in place, expression earnest.
“It doesn’t matter, Pete! I would try to save Morgan even if she was an adult! Even if she was enhanced like you! Even if I was 96 and in a nursing home, I would try to save her! You know why?”
Peter nodded. “Yeah. She’s your kid.”
Mr. Stark nodded back, looking encouraged. “Okay, you see where I’m going with this?”
Peter thought for a moment. It almost sounded like Mr. Stark was trying to imply that—
He quickly shook his head.
Tony deflated slightly but kept going.
“Well, think of it this way: What if it was Morgan who had magic, and she gave me ten years of her life?”
Peter’s fingers spasmed and clenched around the edge of the bed automatically. It was awful to imagine. He hadn’t spent much time with Morgan yet, but she was sweet and stubborn and such a perfect little mixture of Tony and Pepper. She deserved to have a long, happy childhood, unburdened by magic and superpowers.
“That would be terrible,” he said quietly, looking away. “You’d never want her to make a sacrifice like that for you. She’s your daughter.”
Tony nodded, and then he knelt down in front of Peter, so that he was just below Peter’s eye level. He was confused when Tony reached up, slow and deliberate in a way that he usually wasn’t. With his remaining hand, he lifted Peter’s chin so that Peter was looking at him. Tony’s expression was gentle and unusually serious.
“And you’re my son,” Tony said with such calm certainty that it made Peter’s eyes water. “And I’m always going to be sad when you feel like you have to make a sacrifice on my behalf. And I’m always going to want to protect you, no matter how old or strong or brave you are.”
Two tears dripped down Peter’s cheeks. Mr. Stark wiped them away.
“I’m going to hug you now,” Tony said. “And I’m giving you a free pass to hug me back, just this once.”
And then strong arms were wrapping around him, one metal and one human.
It took Peter’s brain a long moment to catch up. This hug—it wasn’t hurried and urgent like the time they’d hugged on the battlefield, Tony’s hands clutching at him and verifying that he was really there, that he was really okay. This hug was gentle. Easy. Tony was just—just embracing him, because he could, because he wanted to, because they were both alive and they cared about each other.
When the initial shock and disbelief faded, Peter practically dove into the embrace, burying his face in Mr. Stark’s neck, inhaling the familiar scent of metal and coffee .
To his surprise, his hands began to glow their normal blue, but the golden runes never formed. It was as if his magic was saying, You’ve done enough.
And, Just this once, keep this bit of life and let yourself be held.
Peter happily acquiesced, tangling his glowing fingers in the back of Mr. Stark’s t-shirt, and it was as if his magic sighed in relief.
Mr. Stark gave Peter a few minutes to hug him back before he broke away.
“Alright, alright,” he said gruffly, but his eyes looked a bit damp. “Let’s not get carried away. You have to get those smurf hands to go away before your aunt gets here.”
“If May kills you, I’m happy to give another ten years up to revive you,” Peter grinned.
Tony winced. “Too soon, bud. Way too soon.”
But he sat down in the chair next to Peter’s bed and turned on Brooklyn 99, and he was still there the next morning when Peter woke up, just like old times.
v.  
Morgan came to visit him on the second day of his recovery, when he could sit up and hobble to the bathroom and stay awake for more than an hour at a time.
“Have you ever seen the movie Frozen ?” She asked, pulling two dolls out of her backpack. One had white-blond hair, and the other had gingery-red braids.
Peter shook his head.
Morgan handed him the blond doll. “You’re like Elsa, and I’m like Anna!” She kept the red-haired doll for herself, swinging her little legs over the edge of the plastic visitor’s chair idly.
“This one is Elsa?” Peter confirmed, holding up his doll.
“Yeah,” Morgan nodded seriously. “She has magic powers, just like you. She can control ice and snow and winter.”
“And what about Anna? Does she have magic powers?”
Morgan shook her head. “She’s a regular person, like me. But she’s a good sister. And she’s funny.”
Peter couldn’t help but smile at that. He could hardly believe that Tony had called Peter his—his kid the night before. And if he was Tony’s kid, that meant Morgan was—
“That does sound a lot like you, Mo.”
“So anyway, Elsa has these magic powers, but she’s afraid of hurting people with them, so she has to wear gloves and she never touches people, and Daddy said you were the same way—”
Peter’s mouth fell open.
“Seriously?” He asked, intrigued in spite of himself. “What—what happens in the story?”
He listened intently as Morgan recounted the events of the plot—sometimes in a style that was a bit difficult to follow, and with a few musical interludes, where Morgan insisted that he try to sing Elsa’s part in songs that he’d never heard before—but eventually she got to the end of the story.
“And then Anna gets totally frozen, but Elsa hugs her and brings her back to life, because she loves her. And Elsa realizes that she shouldn’t be scared of her magic, because then she can’t control it.”
Then Morgan made him pull up a scene from the end of the movie where Elsa finally realized that she could use her magic to thaw the winter she accidentally created.
As he watched, Elsa accepted her magic and made spring return to the kingdom, the ice melting and the sun shining overhead.
“Wow,” Peter said, a bit choked up even though it was a kids’ movie.
But...he couldn’t deny that the connection between himself and her character made sense. He’d spent so much time repressing his magic that he had to admit that he didn’t fully understand it. And he definitely feared it.
Maybe...maybe if he stopped caring so much, it could be harnessed. Maybe he and his magic could find peace with one another, and live in equilibrium.
It was a thought that had been living in some corner of his brain for a while now, but he hadn’t been ready to acknowledge it.
Now, though, he recalled how it had felt to use his magic to save Mr. Stark, how he’d surrendered the control he always clung to so fiercely and finally let his magic do what it was meant to do. He thought about how he’d hugged Mr. Stark the day before, and his magic hadn’t taken any of his life force away. He thought about how his magic had saved him in the fight against Lizard Man, healing his ribs and helping his body absorb the poison.
And most of all, he thought about his mom, who had never held back her gift. Despite the neighbors spying over the fence to see how exactly she did her gardening. Despite the baffled stares of people at the playground, who wondered why a bed of flowers had suddenly appeared in the middle of Central Park.
Morgan was watching his face carefully. “Daddy cried when we watched the movie, and Mommy said he was sad because he missed you. And Mommy said I could only watch the movie on my StarkPad with headphones after that,” she recounted.
“Maybe your dad would want to watch it now,” Peter told her. “I know I’d like to see it. We could have a movie night, or something.”
“Yeah!” Morgan shouted enthusiastically.
Peter tipped his head back against his hospital bed pillow, listening to Morgan go on about how he was going to love the giant TV at the lake house, and how her mom always made the best popcorn on movie nights.
When he’d first found out about Morgan, he’d felt threatened. Replaced. Unnecessary.
Now he was beginning to understand that Morgan had been waiting for him all this time. She’d heard countless stories about him. She’d already made plans to play superheroes with him and show him how to catch fireflies.
He hadn’t been forgotten. He’d been loved and missed, even when he was gone for those five years.
***
He celebrated his sixteenth birthday at the lake house that summer, surrounded by his friends, his aunt, the Starks, and most of the Avengers.
“I’ve got to say,” Peter said solemnly when the candles on his birthday cake were lit and everyone was preparing to sing to him. “Being fifteen—it’s been a long year, waiting to turn sixteen. As a matter of fact, it almost felt like it was six years, not one—”
Everyone groaned. Morgan threw a blueberry at his head.
Later, as the party was wrapping up, Mr. Stark came and found him down on the dock next to the lake.
“I never had the chance to give you your gift,” he said, taking a seat next to Peter and passing him a small, rectangular box that was covered in Iron Man-themed wrapping paper.
“You didn’t have to get me anything, Mr. Stark,” Peter said, feeling a bit overwhelmed already by the party.
“It’s ‘Tony,’ kid, remember?”
“Okay, you didn’t have to get me anything, Tony, ” he repeated, refusing to be distracted.
“Are you kidding me? I have five years of birthday gifts to make up for, here, kiddo. This is nothing.”
“Yeah, I know. May told me she had to talk you out of buying me a car. ”
“Well, it was either that or an apartment building,” Tony shrugged.
Peter rolled his eyes. “I live in Queens. Where the hell would I park a car? And, if you haven’t noticed, I already live in an apartment building.”
“It would be a good long term investment,” Tony said, as if this was a perfectly normal birthday gift to offer someone. “But I think you’ll like what I’m giving you here more. It’s handmade, for one. Straight from the heart, and all of that.”
Peter had to admit that he was intrigued. As far as he knew, Tony had been spending most of his lab time working on his new prosthetic arm, not some mysterious gift for Peter.
“I’ve been working on this for a long time,” Tony said gently, as if reading Peter’s mind. “Since before the blip.”
“Alright, you win,” Peter grumbled, curiously tearing the wrapping paper off. Tony looked pleased with himself.
When Peter opened the box, he saw two wrist gauntlets—almost like his web shooters.
“Is this nanotech?” He asked, picking one up and inspecting it. “Or new web shooters?”
“Neither,” Tony said, looking oddly nervous. “It’s—okay, look, kid—it’s just a prototype right now. It’s a work in progress. But...these gauntlets. When I get them working, they should, you know. Temporarily channel your magic away from your body. So you can hug people without sucking your soul out.”
Peter’s mouth fell open. “You—you invented a way to block my magic?”
Tony shook his head quickly. “Just temporarily. Not permanently. I would never try to take your magic away.”
“You—you don’t even think magic is real!” Peter exclaimed in disbelief. “How—”
“Dr. Strange consulted on the project. So did Bruce.”
“You willingly took advice from Dr. Strange about magic?”
“It’s not magic,” Tony grumbled. “It’s just—”
“Science that we don’t understand yet,” Peter recited.
Tony flicked him on the ear.
“Dr. Strange also recommended some magic lessons. He thinks he might be able to teach you to channel your...mysterious science better, so that you have some control over it. He...he even thinks that you might be able to restore some of the magic you’ve given away over the years.”
Peter could only stare in shock. The idea was almost too fantastical to consider. Having the ability to hug May and Ned and Tony whenever he wanted, free of cost—it was insane.
“Pete,” Tony said, unusually serious. “Your aunt and I have been talking—and we think we might have been going about this all wrong. Your magic is part of you, and it’s clear that repressing it is just hurting you.”
“It’s not that bad,” Peter deflected automatically, not wanting Mr. Stark or May to feel guilty on his behalf.
“You called yourself a freak, buddy.” Tony’s gaze was pained. “In the hospital, when I woke up. I couldn’t—I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
“You and May—you’ve been amazing. You’ve been trying your best.”
But Tony shook his head. “Part of being a parent is being able to admit when you’re wrong. I know May wants the three of us to sit down and have a proper conversation about all of this. Expect profuse apologies and lots of crying from both of us.”
Peter winced. “Oh, what do you know, my calendar is really booked—I think I’m going to have to skip that meeting.”
But there was an unfamiliar emotion buoying his chest, and it took him a long moment to realize that it was hope.
When he looked at Tony, he could see that his mentor felt the same way. “Pete...if Strange can help you—I think you should try it.”
Peter nodded. “I’ve been thinking about it, too. And...I want to try it.”
Tony bumped his shoulder against Peter’s. “Proud of you, kid.”
“Thanks for the gauntlets, Tony. It’s amazing.”
“Yeah, well. I invented time travel to bring you back to life. It was the least I could do,” Tony shrugged modestly.
“Yeah, well. I used magic to bring you back to life. So I win.”
“No way, kid,” Tony laughed, reaching over and ruffling his hair. Quickly, just like Ben always used to do.
“Morgan!” Peter shouted. Morgan was running around with Ned and MJ, having trapped them in some kind of imaginary game where she was a queen and they were her servants.
“What?” Morgan shouted back.
“Which is cooler—time travel or magic powers?”
“Magic!” She replied instantly.
“See,” Peter said smugly, flashing Morgan a thumb’s up. “I win.”
Mr. Stark sighed. “Unbelievable. I slave away for four and a half years raising her, and then you come along and suddenly I’m nothing.”
But he was glancing between Peter and Morgan with unmistakable fondness, his eyes crinkled at the corners with happiness.
“Hey...did you and Pepper plant those flowers?” Peter asked curiously, suddenly pointing at a patch of white lilies that he was pretty sure hadn’t been next to the dock a few minutes earlier. They seemed to almost glow in the moonlight.
Mr. Stark looked over at the lilies, his eyes widening. “No. We can barely manage to keep tomatoes alive, let alone flowers. And how did they appear so quickly?” He scratched his goatee, confused.
But Peter just smiled to himself. His mom had always understood that their gifts were meant to be used, no matter how bittersweet and difficult it was. The root of their magic was love, after all—a kind of love that, when shared with others freely, could linger on for a long time, stronger than death, acting as a protector and a guide.
After all, Ned always swore that his left ankle had become immune to all injury ever since Peter’s magic fixed it. Leia had been an old cat already when he’d found her, and she’d lived eight more years.
Maybe somewhere out there in the world, a little girl who’d survived a car crash was walking around with a spine of steel. And a boy with red hair and Avengers pajamas would have strong lungs for the rest of his life.
And maybe his parents and Ben weren’t really gone, after all. Maybe they were still around somewhere. In white lilies. In his Parker earlobes. In his love of stargazing.
Even if it was only in the broadest sense, in the equilibrium of the entire universe.
So, really, how could he really regret having his magic, with all it had given him?
Later, he would pick some of the flowers and show them to May, who would understand what they meant. But for now, he and Mr. Stark would sit together in the moonlight, not quite touching, but still close enough that his magic swelled contentedly beneath his skin.
And maybe someday—not today, but someday—he’d put on a pair of gauntlets, or he’d leave a lesson with Dr. Strange, and he’d lean his head against Tony’s shoulder, and Tony would wrap an arm around him—and nothing would happen.
Nothing at all. No empires would crumble. Nobody would live or die. There would just be comfort and silence, and the two of them looking up at the night sky.
Not today, but maybe someday.
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chili-aux · 9 months ago
Text
Soothing Touches
Summary: Hange suffered from a headache alone until Levi came to her rescue.
Note: My first contribution to Levihan community. Inspiration sprouted from my headache. Anyways, hope you’ll enjoy.
Link to cross-posting: AO3
Sitting on her wooden chair inside her messy laboratory, as Levi loved to call it, Hange puts her elbow on the table, fingers delicately massaging her pounding head. She cannot recall how did this headache start. Was it from her enthusiastic greetings to her subordinates this morning? No, because she is always like that. Was it from the experiment that she and Titan Eren did this afternoon? No, besides, she should not be the one who must have this excruciating pain because she was the one who conducted the experiment. 
‘Was it from lunch?’ Hange asked in her mind, recurrence of the conversation she had with Moblit surfaces, realization dawning on her.
“Squad Leader! Take a break, please!” Moblit said exasperatedly to her, ignoring his plea as she continuously writes down the necessary materials for their new technology, the Thunder Spear. She's feeling giddy about this ever since they found research information about it upon raiding the Military Police Brigade. Hange intended to use this new weapon to penetrate the Armored Titan's armoury skin. It might just be wishful thinking, but she hopes that it will damage Reiner, or their efforts will all be in vain.
“I’m busy right now, Moblit. I need to present this to Erwin immediately.” Hange replied without removing her attention from the paper. She got a sigh in return.
“Just please, eat or drink something.” Moblit pleaded one last time. Feeling bad, she assured him that she will do it later. The man left with slumped shoulders after.
Now, when was that later again? She completely forgot about it. Ironically, a scientist like her who possesses vast knowledge about the human organ systems and the effects of neglecting your bodily needs like eating will ignore her bodies' humanly calls. She just wants to pound her pulsing head to the table. This happened to her quite an amount of times before, but stubbornness is just one of her innate characteristics.
I need to eat.
Hange took a deep breath, before standing up but regret instantly invaded her system. She felt her world spinning, her blurry vision even gets blurrier. She holds the edge of the table, finding support to regain her balance. She was quite successful with this one, allowing her to take steps to the laboratory's door. While walking, however, the pounding became insistent, feeling her pulses pumping at her temples. She felt that this might escalate, much worse, to migraine.  She wished she was wrong with this one though.
Once outside, Hange calculated the minutes she might take to get to the cafeteria downstairs. Luckily for her, her office is just located on the 2nd floor of the Survey Corps’ Headquarters. There are three rooms the size of her lab she will pass by to get to the stairs, which has 25 steps.
“5 minutes or so? That bad, huh?” Hange said to herself before placing her right hand on the corridor wall as a support for her excruciating journey to fill her hollow stomach. Every step she takes, her head will pound with more intense pain, blood pumping more rapidly.
She sometimes stopped momentarily to regain her composure, collecting herself via deep breaths, leaning her head on the wall, and saying words of self-encouragement. Hange wished that some soldier will pass by to call for help, but she still believes that she can reach her destination. She can do this, she said, Titans are more merciless than this.
However, the pain levelled up to the point where tears are now escaping her eyes, feeling like vomiting whatever content her stomach has even if it’s empty for hours now. Her eyes are now sensitive to the firelights the hallway’s torches are emitting, bowing her head so she cannot see it. She lost the ability to tell the time now, not knowing how many minutes have passed until she reached the end of the hallway.
Grasping the conjunction of the two walls with shaky hands, she lifted her throbbing head up with tears still running down her face. She expected to see a deserted stair for she already feels hopeless that she will see anyone who can help her. Hange already lost her courage moments ago. But it seems like her incessant fight for humanity’s freedom had paid off.
“Levi…” Hange said with a sniff, voice laced with gratefulness. Even in her headache mess, she can still recognize the emotion that painted Levi’s handsome face. But before she can open her mouth again, she lost consciousness, Levi’s panicked expression was the last thing she saw.
-o-
The next thing Hange saw was a familiar ceiling, free of dust and cobwebs because of the owner’s excessive cleaning habits. She remembers the moments she woke up to this ceiling in peaceful cockcrows, nights of heeded passion let her fall into undisturbed slumber. She recalls the warmth that always envelops her, accompanied by the early morning sunlight, drawing herself to the arms that constantly welcomes Hange, returning the affection she received in the process.
This time, however, the only light that illuminates the room she had grown to love was the fire coming from the lamp, swaying and flickering in an age-old dance. She heightened up her hearing senses, raindrops falling on the solid ground can be heard from outside with wind whistling its natural hymn.
Then, Hange observed herself if she still has that freaking headache. She has, but the pain becomes tolerable now thankfully. That’s when she noticed a firm grip on her left hand, transferring her gaze slowly to the man holding her.
Levi.
He is sitting uncomfortably on his small stool, his head laid upon the soft mattress of his bed, supported by his left arm. Hange silently hopes that his muscles wouldn’t grow numb. Unsurprisingly, for her, the man is sleeping. Getting up as silent as possible, she glanced to the bedside table to see her glasses placed there, grasping and wearing it to see properly.
With a small smile painted on her face, she transferred her gaze once again to the sleeping Corporal, her free hand unconsciously reached for Levi’s soft hair. She ran her hand through the soft locks, down to the man’s handsome face, caressing the flawless skin of his cheeks with her delicate fingers.
Hange knows that Levi is insomniac, his daily sleep just ranged in 2-3 hours. However, her mind cannot help but trace back to the moment she first saw an asleep Levi.
It happened in her messy room one rainy night. While sitting on her comfy bed and reading her small findings of Titans for that day, courtesy of Eren of course, Hange heard a knock that she grew familiar with.
“Come in, shorty! Cannot sleep, huh?” Hange smiled at an entering Levi dressed in his white long-sleeved shirt and black pants. The man just rolled his eyes at her and nod tiredly.
Upon reaching her bed, Levi spoke, “Move your ass a bit, shitty glasses.”
Hange just stared at him for a moment, worried about the bags under his eyes that are growing gradually, days with lack of sleep are taking a toll on Humanity's strongest. Moments later, she broke out of her reverie, put her notes on her bedside table and complied, letting the man settle beside her.
Levi had other plans though. Instead of placing his head on the comfortable pillow, he laid on Hange’s lap, facing her stomach and encircling his arms around her slim waist. Hange’s eyes widened like a saucer, mouth releasing an audible gasp, her hands instinctively move up as if she had just been busted by the Military Police.
“Oi, Levi! W-what are you doing?!” Hange exclaimed. The man in question just gazes up briefly at her before burying his face on her tummy. "Hey, answer me!"
"Shut up, shitty glasses. I'm trying to sleep." Levi answered with a voice muffled by her clothes.
“If you want to sleep, why on my lap, you clean freak?!”
“Tch.” Levi, tired of her shouting, removed one arm around Hange. He reached for her right hand, pulling it down to place it on his hair. Hange’s jaw dropped again.
“What the?! You want me to pet you, Levi?! Are you a cat or something?!”
“Just do it, four eyes.” Noticing the tiredness in his voice, Hange just gave up and give Levi a soft continuous rub. Minutes have passed by in silence, spent with her just staring at the man’s handsome and peaceful face. She knows that the raven-haired man isn't sleeping yet, so she decided to ask what was bothering her from the start of… whatever this is.
“I thought… you don’t want to sleep in other people’s presence?” Hange asked carefully, almost whispering.
It took seconds or even a minute before Levi spoke, his answer shook Hange’s world like no other.
“You’re not just other people to me, four-eyes.”
While Hange tried to calm her rapid beating heart and removed the blush that painted her face, Levi finally succumbed to a peaceful slumber.
Hange just laughed at the memory, feeling the familiar butterflies that love pestering her tummy. Her heart beats hastily like how it pounds inside her chest during that flustering scene. Her small smile widens, gentleness and adoration for the man beside her and holding her hand like it was his lifeline. She just stared at his sleeping face happily in tranquil when his lips suddenly moved.
"Draw me now, it will last longer," Levi said with his usual grumpy voice.
“Eh! When did you wake up?!” Hange yelled from shock. Damn it, she thought.
Lifting his head, Levi stretched his arm that he used as a support to remove its numbness. Hange just looked at him, blushing and admiring how the flare from the lamp accentuated his immaculate features. Then the man turned his head and looked at her, steel blue eyes staring straight into brown orbs.
Hange can feel the man studying every part of her, his eyes and expression unreadable. She can feel a lump forming in her throat, a bead of sweat ran down from her hair to her temple. Her hands that Levi’s yet to let go is getting clammy, which she is sure that the man had noticed. She can sense the brewing anger from the man as the hold in her hand tightened.
With her eyes hurting from not blinking, combined with the intensity from those blue eyes that she cannot already take, Hange closed her eyes and bow her head.
“I-I’m sorry if I made you take care of me again, Levi," Hange said lowly, guilt plagued her system in a record speed. “Moblit tried to remind me to take a break but I forgot. So yeah.”
“Ahh. As if that’s something new, four eyes. Now,” Hange suddenly felt fingers under her chin, lifting it to gaze up in her beautiful brown orbs. Their eyes met and she was captivated once more. “Does your head still hurt?”
"A little," Hange answered softly.
Letting go of her hand, Levi suddenly stood up, and said, “Move your ass a bit, shitty glasses.”
“It’s the second time you said that to me. But whatever,” Hange teasingly said, which Levi just scoffed at, and just move a bit like how the captain wishes. Levi sat and leaned his back securely on the headboard. What he did next shocked her though.
The man just tapped his freaking thighs, people!
Whilst Levi just stared at her expectantly, Hange is still processing what she saw, giving the man an incredulous look. And her eyeballs went out of its socket when Levi tapped his thighs again.
"W-What?! Are you kidding me?" She screamed, moving closer to the man to put her hand on his forehead, checking if he got the flu or something. "You're not even sick! What have you eaten to say those freaky things, huh Levi? I'm- "
Her rambling stopped when Levi held her hands at once, pulling her body closer to his, diminishing the distance between them. Hange released a yelp with the sudden movement and gazed up immediately to the Lance Corporal, seeing the intensity that his eyes always emit.
Realizing what he did, Levi grumbled under his breath, “Tch. Just fucking do it, four eyes, while I’m still in the mood.” Before she can complain once more, Levi continued, “Enough peevish.”
Hange just sighed and scooted a little further towards the edge of the bed, then lay her head where the captain wants it to be after. The man then removed the hair strands under her nape, making it sprawl out freely on the top of her brunette. Closing her eyes, she felt the man taking the glasses off her face before placing it carefully on the bedside table. Then a cool fragrant mint enveloped her senses, the substance that Levi always apply when Levi or she suffered from stress and sleep deprivation.
That’s when Hange felt it, cool, strong fingers pressing on her temple with a firm circular motion. Those delicate fingers then moved to her forehead, meeting in the middle, and slowly traced a line back to the side, whilst she hummed in glee as the pain slowly subsides. After this soothing pattern, Levi’s hands then transferred to the scalp of her unwashed locks, massaging her head on all sides in continuous presses. She let out a pleased moan as Levi massaged a particular spot, her head reeling with the satisfying pressure. Then Levi gathered her brunette locks in one hand, proceeds on tugging it in with careful interval, making her remember the time when Levi purposely made her look at him by holding her messy ponytailed hair atop of their horses before an expedition. She just chuckled at the memory.
“What are you laughing at, shitty glasses?” Levi asked, which Hange just giggled at. “Oi!”
“It’s nothing, Levi. I just remembered when you tugged my hair to call me an abnormal. Well, you’re not wrong though.”
“Tch. Did you also remember that I regretted that? Your hair is so fucking greasy! You didn’t even bathe that time, four-eyes!” While Levi grimaced with the memory, Hange just laughed her ass off.
Opening her eyes, she saw piercing but gentle blue eyes staring intently at her. Despite her upside-down view, Hange appreciates how handsome Levi looked, how even if he always displayed that nonchalant face, his façade will go down when he is with her. That even though she was the messiest person that the man ever encountered, Levi still stayed with her, treat her like she is the most important figure in this goddamn cruel world that they lived in. That inside closed rooms, Hange can freely strip her inhibitions and Levi won't judge but expressed genuine love and care for her.
Hange slowly reached for Levi’s face. Caressing his soft and flawless skin with her fingers, she saw Levi leaning down towards her, which made her closed her eyes again. She first felt his soft lips on her forehead, kissing her gently without minding that it was still coated by that minty substance he just used for her headache. Then he traced tender kisses to her nose, making her laugh a little as the action sends ticklish bolts to her cheeks, making them glow with sweet pink blushes. Levi stroked her cheeks with both of his calloused but caring fingers, before moving further.
With lips tingling in anticipation, Hange moved her head up slightly as Levi reached what he intended to devour. Then their lips met, slowly meshing and mingling with each other, both savouring the familiar and homey taste of one another. Hange's hands managed to snake around Levi’s head, fingers feeling the soft locks and baby hairs of his undercut. As she pulled him closer, Levi’s tongue knocks on her mouth, pushing its way to her hot cavern, relishing every part for his satisfaction. Hange hummed as Levi sucked on her tongue, electrifying delight immediately ran through her body. With pleasure reeling both of their heads, Levi and Hange continuously taste each other until the need for air arises.
Parting, Hange gets up and faces Levi, sitting herself up on the raven-haired man’s lap and welcoming her fully by wrapping one arm around her slim waist. Flipping her hair away from her neck, Hange placed her thoroughly kissed lips on Levi’s, battling for dominance, expressing their passionate love and deep admiration for each other. Pressing her body closer to his, his free hand managed to sneak under her shirt, caressing the warm smooth skin, pinching it softly as the atmosphere around them intensify. After a minute full of fervent kisses, they separate, foreheads pressed, nose touching, and heaving breaths mixing.
“You okay now, shitty glasses?” Levi huskily whispered on her still stinging red lips.
“A-huh, thanks to my clean freak, best service, no fees included. As if I’m paying him anyway.” Hange answered, snickering.
“As if you had the money to pay me, four-eyes. News flash, you can’t.” Then Levi moved to whisper in her ear, licking her earlobe before saying, “But I know a way that you can, no fees included.”
“Oh, hot shit, Corporal!” Hange cannot help but scream and laugh at the same time. Levi saying dirty remarks isn’t new to her, but due to the man’s flowery language, she is always amazed when he does. Besides, it’s only for her.
Pushing herself away from the man, she giggled and said, “C’mon Levi, I’m hungry.”
“You just fucking noticed, huh? I keep hearing that monster grumble when… Never mind.” Levi suddenly stood up and walked to the door.
Hange also stood up and laughingly followed the Corporal, “What ‘when’? Huh, shorty?!”
“Shut up, Hange.”
“Make me, Levi!”
As their bickering continues and their echoing footsteps match the sound of  the pouring rain, Hange sketched this rare and precious memory inside her now healing head. In the middle of their journey to the kitchen, they unconsciously held each other's hands. And Hange thought she will never mind another round of headache if she can feel Levi’s soothing touches again.
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thinking1bee · 6 months ago
Text
Changed Part 2
Requested by Anonymous
Parings: Lena Luthor x Reader
Tags: Violence, Angst, Mentions of Death, PTSD and Anxiety, War, Fluff, Humor
Everything Taglist:  @sammy90682 @nobody13 @owloftheshadows @captain-josslett @camslightstories @worldovart @finleyfray @acertainredhead
Getting reacclimated to civilian life was harder than you anticipated. The fear of being attacked when no one was going to assault you was unlike anything that you’d ever experience. It was like hearing whispers in your brain, telling you to constantly be on guard no matter how safe your environment was. Any loud noice was like a bomb. Any bright light was like a flash bang. It was hard living in fear, living on the defensive when there wasn’t a need to be. Lena, though, was with you every step of the way. There were days where she spent the night with you in your apartment when you asked, and then when you needed your space, she would always reassure you that she was just a phone call away. You didn’t know why Lena stuck around through all the anger and irritability. You don’t know why she stuck through the random bursts of rage or the flinching whenever she got nearby. You didn’t know why she would even bother dealing with someone so broken. She would always say that it was because she loved you, but you knew that there was only so much one person could take. You hated being fragmented, your shards jagged and strewn in scattered places that you never seemed to find. You hated that the continued therapy sessions that you were taking weren’t helping as fast as you thought they would. You were as beaten as the day you were airlifted from the battlefield, and every inch of you despised it.
Falling asleep was a nightmare and staying asleep was damn near impossible. You could never stay asleep for long, no matter how many drugs you were prescribed or how often you took them. Memories of dead bodies littering the desert sand had you waking up in a puddle of sweat every time and you shivered as their lifeless faces haunted the shadows of your mind. Every time you woke up gasping from a horrible dream, your first instinct was always to check your surroundings, to make sure that you weren’t in the hands of the enemy or worse, surrounded by the bodies of your platoon. Your heart would be in your throat, beating hard and only fueling the adrenaline you felt, and the moment that you realized that you were all alone, you would cry. Hot tears would spill down your face because in addition to the fear, guilt would sweep over you in strong waves, reminding you that this was your punishment for surviving what others had not. You would cry and cry and cry, until you couldn’t anymore. Then you would isolate yourself, tending to your emotion and mental wounds by yourself. You didn’t want to be seen like this. It was a disgrace.
Lena was always the one to keep you from falling too deep into the rabbit hole. She always made sure that you didn’t turn to vices to try and numb the pain. She always made sure that you weren’t a danger to yourself. As a girlfriend, she took on more responsibility than what was fair, and you tried to keep that in mind. Never had you wanted to be a burden nor take advantage of her, but she was always there, making sure that you were well taken care of. Even now, she was opening all the blinds to let in the sunlight, and you watched as the setting sun illuminated the dark living room. Lena was off from work and quite early given the nights you know she’ll would put it weren’t it for you, and even as she gave you a reassuring smile, you still couldn’t help the regret that you felt for interrupting her life.
“Hey Y/n, when’s the last time you showered?” she asked, and you furrowed your eyebrows as you tried to think hard. You couldn’t remember honestly, another delightful symptom of the PTSD. You remembered the times when you could recall almost anything you wanted. Now it was like the hard drive of what was left of your mind would get wiped frequently and it sucked. Lena took your silence as an answer and she leaned down slowly, as to not spook you, and kissed your forehead sweetly.
“Why don’t you get cleaned up while I get dinner started?” she suggested, and you nodded.
You got up from the couch and made your way to the bathroom, and pausing before going inside, looked at her.
“Lena, if you ever decided that you didn’t want to stick around anymore, I would understand.”
Lena smiled but still shook her head. It was something you said to her rather often, your way of reminding her that she had a way out, but her answer was always the same. She would just smile and shake her head. You’re slow to get undressed. It was your least favorite part about showering. The mirror above the sink had newspaper taped over it so you couldn’t see your reflection. The scars on your body made you hate the skin you were in and every time you saw them, you would dissolve into tears. They were ugly, another token from war, and there were few days where you were apathetic towards them, and then there were many, many, days when you never wanted to see them again. You hid every inch of your skin behind sweats and long sleeved shirts. As far as you were concerned, if you didn’t see them then they didn’t exist. Except that line of thinking never worked when you had to shower. You closed your eyes as you nervously undressed and you moved as fast as you could into the hot, cascading water of your shower. You let the droplets wash over you. Their warmth chafed away the bitter cold that seemed to settle into your bones as of late and you closed your eyes as she heat warmed your finger and toes. You let your mind go blank and took several deep breaths on and out. You were doing good, and almost relaxed, until you became hyper aware of the water hitting your skin, and the more you focused on the droplets, the more it felt like grains of sand against you. The next thing you knew, you were back in the desert, and the steam from the shower felt like sweltering desert heat against your brow. Shadows floated behind closed eye lids and you forced them open right before the bodies could come into view, and right before you almost vomited on your feet. You threw yourself out of the shower, emptying the contents of your stomach into the toilet, and laid there panting as the stress fueled adrenaline continued to make your world sway chaotically. Puddles of water soaked the bathroom floor as you swallowed down gulps of air in attempt to slow your heart. You couldn’t do this. It was a bad idea, so after getting on shaky feet, you turned the shower off and got dressed as fast as you could.
You returned to the kitchen to find that Lena made homemade chicken soup, and though you weren’t hungry, you forced yourself to take a few bites. Though Lena wasn’t trying to make it obvious, you could tell that every so often she would steal glasses at the bowl between your hands to make sure that you were eating properly. She knew that you wouldn’t finish the whole thing, but as long as you finished most of it, she considered it a victory. After a while, you slowed down before stopping altogether, and the soup settled heavily in your stomach.
“Good job, baby girl,” Lena said genuinely as she placed a warm hand on top of yours. You smiled sheepishly at her gentle offering of praise and you helped her to clean up. It was dark now, and you dreaded going to sleep. Twisting your fingers nervously together, you faced Lena who turned to look at you.
“Lena, do you mind staying with me tonight? I don’t want to be alone.”
She gave you her signature bright smile and nodded. “Of course.”
It was only a 20 minutes later when Lena had changed into her pajamas and you were snuggled against her under the blankets on your bed. Lena held you close to her, your back against her front, as her arms wrapped around you with warmth and security. With her here, your eyes drifted close instantly as you floated down the lazy river of unconsciousness.
***
Lena was jarred awake. The feeling of you struggling within her hold had her eyes flying open and her body out of the bed in an instant. She could see how your eyes moved wildly behind closed eyelids and how taut your body was. You mumbled something before immediately gasping and swiping aggressively at your arms. Fire. Lena knew immediately that you were having a nightmare. You relived the same scene again and again in your head and it was always when the vehicle blew up with you in it, and you were engulfed in fire.
The last time that she tried to wake you up, she had done so forcefully on accident. She was spurred on by her fear of what was happening. The ending result had ended up with you putting her in a chokehold on accident. You didn’t forgive yourself for days. So, she tried a different method that she had found on the internet. With a clear and calm voice, she called your name.
“Y/n?”
You didn’t respond immediately. Your head jerked to the side as you continued to put out the flames that weren’t there.
“Y/n, I need you to wake up.”
You woke up gasping, your eyes searching your surroundings subconsciously for threats as you immediately threw off your sweatshirt in fear.
“Y/n, you’re home. There’s no fire and it’s just you and me. You’re safe,” Lena said over and over. She repeated it as many times as needed until she saw you calm down a little.
You were suffocating. You could taste the smoke in your mouth, the arid atmosphere crisp and dry and so very, very hot. You could smell burning flesh and what you wanted more than anything was to run. You didn’t care where. You just wanted to run away from the fire and the burning pain in your body. But you listened to Lena’s level voice. You let it ground you and you hung on to every word. Her promise that everything was safe was what calmed you down. You were safe. You weren’t being dragged from the burning remains of your vehicle. You had fallen asleep in your girlfriend’s arms.
While your breathing never slowed, you did eventually stop swiping at your arms and your gasps turned into sobs. Lena watched you, her heart aching for you, as you folded in on yourself and hid your face in hands.
“Can I hold you?” she asked, and you nodded frantically as you shuddered hard. You felt the bed dip, followed by arms encircling you softly. She kissed you tenderly and you buried your face into her neck.
“I kept seeing them!” you wailed. “I saw all of them. It’s was nothing but faces and fire, and they were grabbing me, pulling me in. I couldn’t fight them!”
Lena was on the verge of crying as she continued to hug you close. Snapping you out of a nightmare was the worse, but more damage would have been done if she hadn’t woken you up at all. Her hand rubbed your back soothingly as you cried it out. You were so scared. The fire felt like hands that were pulling you straight to hell, and no matter how hard you fought, you were powerless against the force that kept dragging you. The faces were what always lingered. Grotesque and grisly images of your fallen friends tortured you in your sleep, and every time you saw them, they would manage to always look worse than the previous night.
You cried until nothing more came out, until there were no more tears, no more gasps, and when it all finally stopped, you felt numb. Lena released you to look at your body. You were drenched in sweat. Droplets if it trickled down the side of your head and you shivered as your undershirt clung wetly to your skin.
“Let’s get you out of these clothes.”
Lena helped you change, and she helped you gently to drink some water. You gulped it down, sighing in relief as the dryness in your throat went away. You settled back into the bed with her by your side, but you were still too on edge to close your eyes. Sleep wouldn’t be coming soon so you lie there as Lena cuddled you close.
“Thanks for being here,” you whispered, and you felt her kiss the back of your head.
“Of course. I’m not going anywhere.”  
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blubberingmess · a year ago
Text
[Beautiful]
Pairing: Bucky x plus size!reader
No plot, just your average normal smut :)
Warning: smut (m/f), slight dirty talk, daddy kink, oral sex (f receiving), fingering, cunt slapping, a very short thought about anal, unprotected sex (I can't rhyme, but yeah, use condom, kids.)
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There's no denying at the fact that bucky loves his women thick, has a bit more meat on their bones. But what's more beautiful than a big curvy woman? Big curvy woman with confidence. It's a big turn on for Bucky, seeing a woman flaunting her beautiful assets without giving a single fuck to whoever tries to say otherwise.
So the moment Bucky met you, he just knew he'd be a total goner.
Your 'I don't give a fuck' personality, your body, the way you move, the way you carry yourself, it's everything Bucky ever wanted to a woman. How your chin is always held up high like a queen, It's beautiful - you're beautiful.
And you're his.
"Damn Bucky, your girl's looking good." Sam whistled in appreciation as the three of them-- Bucky, Sam, and Steve-- look over and saw you chatting with the rest of the guests.
You're wearing a luxurious red bodycon dress that hugs your curves, it also makes your ass look good than they already are, while also wearing those black stilettos that Bucky loves so much.
Bucky grins with pride at the awe look in his friends' faces, chuckling to himself. "What are you talking about? She always does."
It's true. No matter what you wear or if your hair is all over the place and looking like someone just ran over you (morbid, I know), you're still the most gorgeous human being Bucky had ever laid his eyes upon.
While Sam and Steve continues back on conversing about something Bucky don't really give a damn about, his eyes are fixated on you. Traveling up and down your round form like a predator hungry for his prey, unconsciously licking his lips when you down the rest of your drink.
How did he became so lucky?
You gave the guest a smile before turning your head towards the table where you know Bucky is seated, and saw him already has his eyes at you. Heart skipping a beat at the lovesick expression on his face, a look you know is solely meant for you.
"I have to go," you said to the guest without looking at them. Walking towards your man, purposely made your walk slow and teasing. He watched you with a hungry glint in his eyes as you made your way towards him, biting his bottom lip at the way you sway your wide hips from side to side. Sam and Steve already know what's going on and decided to leave the table to go to the bar instead, good for them.
You flashed your boyfriend a playful grin, placing both of your hands on his broad shoulders, unconsciously (or not) giving him an eyeful of your cleavage.
"Hi."
"Hi." He chuckled, grabbing your plump waist and giving it a gentle squeeze. "You look beautiful in that dress, baby."
"Yeah?"
"Yeah." He then smirks. "But I rather see you without one right now."
You were about to open your mouth to tease him back when the music started blaring to a more upbeat song, a female voice calling for your name after. Breaking your gaze from Bucky, you saw Wanda waving her hand at you from the dance floor with Natasha on her side.
'Dance with us' Natasha mouthed.
You jerked your head down to Bucky, silently yelling at them in your head 'I'm busy!' Hoping they'd get it which they did, but sadly, didn't care as the two gave you puppy eyes.
Chuckling, you took a step back from Bucky, a frown visible on his face. "We'll finish this later."
He groans, leaning his head back. "You're a fucking tease, you know that?" You only winked as a response before making your way towards your two girl friends, while the dance floor started to be filled with dancing bodies.
Bucky is now left sitting there, feeling a bit annoyed from the interruption and also extremely aroused. He sighed, his pants that had tighten by just a small amount of time from your teasing, taking a sip of his champagne.
Nope, Bucky thought. I can't take this anymore.
The heated gaze you'd sent his way for the past twenty minutes while biting that kissable lip of yours, all while sexily grinding with the Wanda and Natasha to the beat of the music. It's all sent his body on fire, specifically, down south.
You just love torturing him don't you? Love how you can make him squirm and growl possesively at the sight of you, taking pride of every second of it.
Bucky slammed his third glass of champagne on the table before sauntering towards your dancing figure, pretending you didn't just saw the way he looks at you from afar.
"Hello ladies, can I borrow my girl real quick?"
You gave Bucky a knowing look while he just innocently smile in return, both knowing it'll be far from quick - maybe the whole night and early morning. Without actually waiting for a response from the two, Bucky practically dragged you away from the party by the wrist and in the elevator.
As soon as the elevator door closed, he slammed you to the wall and smashes his lips against yours heatedly. You moaned when you felt his tongue slithered inside your mouth, easily gaining dominance.
"Thought I didn't noticed your teasing, baby girl? Dancing in that pretty little dress of yours - fuck." Bucky groans, harshly squeezing your ass before letting go and giving it a nice slap.
It felt like hours before the door finally opens. Bucky, like the impatient man he is, crouched down carries you on his shoulder, his flesh hand not leaving your ass.
"Can't wait to fuck this ass," Bucky whispered to himself.
You both haven't talked about trying anal yet, but neither of you are against. Who knows? It might happen sooner or later, depends on how tempting you look - which is every fucking day.
He got to his door and hastily opens it, slamming the door shut with the heel of his shoe.
You giggle when he unceremoniously laid you down on the bed making you slightly bounce. He gave you a quick yet sweet peck on the lips before kneeling down on the edge of the bed.
You immediately strip out from your dress, leaving your body exposed with nothing but your lacey panty and your stilettos.
For Bucky, everything suddenly stilled as his eyes trails the length of your body, absorbing the sight in front of him. From his view, Bucky could see the wet mark in the middle of your panty, a clear sign that his baby is aroused and it's all because of him - just for him.
Gorgeous, Bucky thought to himself. Absolutely stunning.
Bucky snapped out from his lovesick daze the moment he saw you roll your hips against the mattress, silently begging him to do something - anything.
"It's okay, baby. I gotchu," he whispered as he began stripping off his clothes, giving you show. Slowly pulling off his coat and unbuttoning his shirt.
"I'm gonna fuck you so hard the only word that'll be coming out of your mouth tonight is my name." And it's not Bucky.
He smirks when he heard you let out a small moan, pulling his shirt off completely and kicking off his shoes. "You like the sound of that, baby girl? Bet you fucking do."
"Please Bucky."
"Patience, sweetheart." Was his only response before scooting down so he's now facing your clothed pussy, groaning as he inhaled your sweet scent.
"Fuck. Smell so good." He hooked his finger on your panty and moved it to the side. The sight of your glistening pussy made his cock twitch, already feeling the arousal forming at the tip.
"Bucky, please, I can't take it-- oh~" a pornographic moan escaped your lips as Bucky latches his whole mouth on your clit, sucking on it harshly while simultaneously using his tongue to rub the nub.
"F-Fuck, yeah, that's it." You gasped as he let go of your clit for a moment just to lick a fat strip from your entrance to the top, before once again latching his soft pink lips around your clit, sucking on it harshly like a pacifier.
"So good - yes! Yes! Yes!"
One of the things that you love about Bucky is that he doesn't half-assed on pleasuring you, making sure you're satisfied wether it's a quick fuck or a long hours of love making. He will eat you out like a starved man, temporarily ignoring the very strong urge to just slam you down and drill into you like he wanted.
He will always put you first.
Bucky sat back up before you could even reach your peak, gently rubbing his fingers up and down your slit.
"Bucky, plea-- ah!" You let out a small scream when he suddenly gave your clit a slap, not enough to actually hurt but enough to make you jolt in surprise.
"Wrong name, baby girl," he growls out all while pulling off his pants as well as his boxer, throwing it somewhere around the room. His dick is standing up thick and proud, a small drip of precum on top.
Oh, he's in that mood huh?
"Daddy, please fuck me. I can't take it anymore," you begged, pulling your knees up and spreading your legs apart, giving him a clear view of your wet cunt.
"Fuck, baby, look at that." Bucky is in awe as you completely exposed yourself to him. It's not your first time having sex, but damn, does it feel like it everytime.
That's is all your fault. You made the man insatiable; made him crave for you all day - everyday. He cannot seem to get enough of you no matter how many times he gets a taste, and he don't think he will ever get enough.
Bucky grabs his rock hard dick and gave it a few pumps. The sight of you spread out for him like this, it feels like a dream.
"So wet and needy. Is this all for me, baby?" He asks, tapping the head of his cock against your clit a few times, before sliding it up and down your slit in a teasing manner.
Bucky grunts in disapproval when he didn't hear you answer and just moaned at his lazy rubbing. He pulls his cock away and gave your cunt another warning slap, making you jump in surprise.
"Use your words."
"Yes daddy, I'm sorry," you whimper as Bucky began circling your red and swollen cunt, spitting on it before pressing two flesh fingers inside in one go.
As much as Bucky likes to see you come undone by his metal fingers, he loves the feel of your slick walls against his flesh ones. Feeling your arousal around his fingers, so warm and velvety - especially around his cock.
You gasped out loud when he began thrusting hard and fast, prepping you up. Even with his fingers bucky can still feel how tight you are, getting him all more excited than he already are.
He placed his metal hand on the back of your thighs, pushing it up so he could take a better look and he knows you like it that way.
He added a third finger and your puffy cunt just swallows his fingers hungrily, coaxing him to push his fingers inside knuckles deep.
"Yes Daddy, oh my gosh!" You can feel the your stomach tightening. Bucky started to feel your walls clenched on his fingers, a clear indication that you're about to come.
"Come for me, (Y/n)." He doesn't have to say it because your legs clamped around his arm, rolling your hips through your orgasm as you moaned his name out loud.
Bucky didn't waste any more time and hover above your body, lining his throbbing cock at your entrance. In one swift thrust of his hips, he had buried himself inside. Bucky groans as your walls deliciously squeezed him, already wanting to milk him dry.
"Shit - relax, doll. You're squeezing me too hard." You breathe in and out, eyes clenched tightly as you relax yourself on the mattress.
Bucky smiles, leaning down to kiss you lovingly and comfortingly on you forehead. "That's it, baby girl. Relax." Slowly, he began to grind his hips against yours. His eyes locked on your face as it contorts to a look of pure pleasure, your breathing started to get ragged as his thrusts gets harder; much more faster.
Before you know it, he was now pounding your slick cunt. The wet obscene noise, slapping of skin to skin is now much more audible.
"Fuck me harder, Daddy. Please!" And harder he goes. He hooked his strong buffy arms around your thighs and placed them on his shoulders, before slamming into you over and over again. At this point you are now screaming in pleasure, head tilting back as your body bowed.
Bucky's gaze trails down from yours face, down to your soft breasts, your round middle, and then down to where you both are connected. He could see your wetness coating the base of cock. A particular roll of his hips got your toes curling, instinctively jolting up, your nails digging shallowly on the skin of his back, marking him.
You squealed. "Fuck!"
"Right here, princess?" He asked as he keeps on hitting that spot again and again. He sat up, gripping your thick thighs tightly and resumes his fast pounding.
You opened your eyes and witnessed how Bucky's face morphs into a blissful look; eyes closed tightly and his head tilted back. A fine sheen of sweat covering his chest making him look so good.
"I'm gonna come," you gasped. You could tell he is too because his thrusts are getting sloppy and desperate. Your legs shakes as you came, moaning and chanting out his name 'Bucky' like a prayer.
With your walls fluttering around him and that lewd, fucked out look on your face sent him over the edge.
He groans as he came deep inside of you, staying balls deep for a few moment before pulling out. He watched as his cum drips out of your hole, soaking the sheets underneath you.
"Fuck, look at that. Such a good girl for me," he praised. You could feel him slides himself inside a few times and then completely pulls out, laying down next to your spent body.
You're heart is beating fast against your chest, not because from the sex (although that's mainly the reason) but for the man you've just did it with.
Bucky is still gasping, pupils are still dilated as he turn his head to the side to look at you. A fond smile formed on his lips when he noticed that you're already focused at him.
"You okay, princess?" He asked, now turning his body to his side. He lifted his metal hand up when he noticed your eyes are still a bit teary and dazed, gently holding your cheek in his large palm.
"Great," you breathed out before flashing him a soft pleased smile. You were about to stand up to clean yourself up when Bucky quickly grasped your wrist, pulling you back onto to mattress, caging your body with his.
Looking down at you with a playful glint in his eyes, cocking his head to the side. Something hard poking your belly and you don't need to put two on two together to know what's about to happen next.
"You're insatiable."
"What can I say? I have a wife who just looks so stunning and perfect every single fucking day." He chuckles darkly. "It's hard to not want to fuck you on the nearest surface - fill your pussy up until you're dripping with my cum, until--"
He stops.
Suddenly, his eyes slightly widens. You waited, he seems to be having an inner battle with himself. Eyes darting around your face, searching for something you don't quite know.
"Are you okay, baby?" Bucky's whole body tensed up at the word, though quickly relaxing soon after. Soft blue eyes flickering from yours and down to your round belly then back up, silently suggesting -- begging -- for something.
Oh boy.
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This is my first ever smut and It feels like my first fic all over again.
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the-silentium · a year ago
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Folded messages
Masterlist
Pairing: Five Hargreeves x Reader
Words: 4900 words
Warnings: TUA season 1 and 2 spoilers, swearing.
Requested by: Anon
Hello!! I just recently read you 11 Five fic and I have to say it was incredible. I have no words to describe it, your writing is so good💖💖 with that, I was wondering if you did fics based on songs, if you do, would you mind doing a 5xreader based on “sway with me” by Micheal Buble? Idk what the plot could be, maybe they are in a mission from commission and have to go to a fancy ballroom. Maybe they are enemies. Maybe reader pulls him to dance around S2. The choices are endless, go crazy :”)
A/N: Finally I found time to write! I've had insomnia for too long because I couldn't write! Damn day job! 
On a better note, I really hope you guys like this little piece of fluff 💜 I swear, this started as a small idea and then it just got bigger and bigger. Sorry not sorry!
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Was it even possible? The prospect of falling in love for someone of his nature was almost as high as his targets' survival rate. He wasn't an emotional man, his feelings were deeply buried in the depth of his heavily guarded heart, locked away in a three inches thick chest that was itself hidden in an impossible maze where traumas and demons were furiously protecting the paths. 
Add this to the fact that he never saw her, not even once, the only proof of her existence being the small animals made of colorful folded paper that appears in his jacket pockets whenever he crossed her path, the possibilities of developing such feelings were in no way probable. The origami aside, the woman seemingly took pleasure in throwing wrenches into his work. He was asked to assassinate a brilliant inventor who was getting too close to discovering the secrets of time-traveling? It would have been an easy job if it wasn’t that every single bullet he had in his possession suddenly disappeared, forcing him to finish the job with his knife. 
There was another time, he was tasked with the termination of a group of people meeting in the back of a bar, his guns were loaded, his knives were sharpened, he was full of juice, there was no way that this job would take more than one minute and forty-three seconds. He made his way to the door leading to the room hosting his targets when he noticed a small dark purple llama on the door handle. He pocketed the folded piece of paper for later and tried the handle to find out that it wouldn't even turn on itself. The assassin rolled his eyes at the futile attempt to keep him from completing his mission, he closed his hands into fists but his ability decided to fail at this right moment.
The door behind him closed on a loud banging noise, a delicate click following closely behind, indicating that the door was locked from the other side. Five remembers it clear as day, the moment he knew he had found his equal. He heard you giggling lightly on the other side of the door and his heart started speeding up. Not in anger, not in annoyance nor in embarrassment. He couldn't say what it was, but he knew for sure that he wanted more of it. 
It happened four times, you making his job more challenging and him receiving a small gift before Five decided to do some research. In a box carefully concealed under the double bottom of his drawer were stored every paper animal he found during his missions along with books about origami and colors. 
An olive green and lavender cat, a dark blue dragon, an orange fish and a dark purple llama were now aligned on his desk in order of acquisition. The different books were opened on different pages and then Five started his information gathering. He scribbled in his notebook the different significance associated to each color and animal and an hour and a half later, he was contemplating his findings. 
The cat was a symbol of independence and mystery among other things. Its olive-green body with the patches of lavender told him that the first gift was, in fact, a peace offering from a feminine person. Her very own olive branch that he took long enough to decipher. 
Then there was the dragon, symbol of power, wisdom, mastery and success. The dark shade of blue told him that the dragon was full of knowledge, power and seriousness. He frowned, thinking and slightly hoping that maybe this was how she saw him. 
He didn't know what to think of the orange fish. Happiness, freedom and energy. He couldn't relate to this one, having not been free for many years now as stipulated by his contract with the Commission. He was a slave, used for his ability and his will to do everything to survive one more day and save his family from their imminent doom. 
Maybe the fish was a reference to yourself. This was the only explanation he could find. You were a young adult from what he deduced of your giggles and were pretty happy and free if the folded paper was anything to go by. 
The last gift proved that Five's theory stipulating that every origami was a metaphor about yourself and himself was correct. 
A dark purple llama. An animal representing hard work, endurance under difficult situations and responsibility. His heart accelerated at the possibility that you knew that he was trying to buy some time and betray his employer sooner than later. Would you rat him out? He really hoped that the olive cat meant that you were on his side and not against him, he would really hate to put an end to the warm feeling dancing in his chest whenever he realized that you were around and ready to play a trick on him. 
Now if he followed your logic, the next one he will receive will say more about yourself and he couldn't wait to be assigned to another mission so that he had a chance to learn more about you or even possibly see you. You, his little time traveler. Five had thought about this for the longest of time and he came to the conclusion that you were indeed a time traveler. The Commission kept very close control over their briefcase so there was no way that you had one in your possession, he would know, after all, he checked the lost briefcases records and they were all reported destroyed. 
To his dismay, his next mission was uneventful. He got in and got out. No hiccup, no paper animal. Nothing. It went like this for his next six missions and with every passing success, Five found himself getting irritated. Every night he found himself chasing your shadow in his dreams and every time you managed to evade his attempts at catching you. One morning when even his first coffee of the day wasn't enough to ease his frustration, he thought of a plan that would allow him to finally see you. 
To avoid making his kills personal, Five always prioritized a long-range way to kill, meaning with guns. Guns had a way to remove all responsibilities off his shoulder and lighten his soul at the end of the day. He had enough demons consuming more and more of his conscience on a daily basis, he definitely could do without this kind of remorse. Sure, he was the one who pulled the trigger, but ultimately, it was the bullet that killed the target, not his hands. 
But tonight, Five decided that he would complete his mission with the idea that you were around. If you were, then he would finally meet you. If not, he would need something strong to accompany his coffee. Whiskey maybe. 
He abandoned his prized sniper in the deserted building next to the one his target was currently dancing in and made his way to a back door. There he space-jumped inside the building and quickly blended himself with the crowd. He found himself straightening his suit in the case you were around and made his way to the bar. 
A glass of whiskey in hand, Five turned his back to the counter and analyzed the crowd in search of his wealthy bastard who was enjoying his very last evening on this Earth. There he was, dancing around, totally unconcerned of the people around him. 
Unconsciously, Five reached into his pockets where the gifts usually appeared out of thin air, his fingers searching around as they did a hundred times before but ultimately finding nothing. With a frustrated groan, Five grabbed his glass, emptied its content in one gulp, smashed the glass back on the counter and pushed his way to his target. Another night without your little schemes meaning another night chasing your shadow in his sleep. If this was how the night would unfold, then he wanted to finish this quickly. 
Five's hand reached for his target, grabbed a hold of his upper arm and pulled him in a nearby hallway before jumping the both of them in the nearby abandoned building where his weapons were patiently waiting for him. 
Five turned around to face his target, knife in hand and ready to strike when his breath caught in his throat and every muscle in his body contracted, stopping every movement. Where his prey stood mere milliseconds ago was now an elegant woman in a beautiful gown, all smile and giggling at his reaction. He knew it was you the second he heard your giggles, causing his heart to skip a beat and his fingers to let go of the sharp weapon. 
He stopped himself from moving a stray strand of hair behind your ear, instead choosing to release his grip on your arm and take a step away. You were too beautiful, so much more beautiful than what he imagined, with your shining eyes, your soft-looking hair, your perfectly curved body, he tried to burn every detail into his memory. 
"Dance with me?" You asked, closing the distance and reaching for his hand. Your movement got him out of his thoughts and everything came back full force. The mischievous glint into your eyes caused a smirk to form on his lips.
"You just want to keep me from my job." And you were doing a magnificent job at it.
"Is it working?" You batted your eyelashes in an innocent way, making Five roll his eyes before he positioned your hands correctly and pull your body so that you were almost touching each other. 
You smiled in satisfaction, following his steps flawlessly on a tempo only he could hear. The blue-eyed man enjoyed the silent minute, savoring the feeling of your soft skin cradled into his palm and the warmth of your waist radiating through the fabric under his opposite hand. The comfortable silence was soon replaced by a soft song playing in the background, stopping Five in his tracks and almost causing you to fall if it wasn’t for his strong arms keeping you up and close. 
Five eyes finally left your face and widened at the new scenery surrounding him. The once dusty floor was now pristine and exempt of all the trash and needles that were once lingering around, the tagged walls were perfectly painted in a new shade of light grey, giving the room a nice glow under the gleam of the light strings hanging from the ceiling. 
Five didn’t know his mouth had opened in awe before you chuckled and your hand left his shoulder to caress his chin, effectively causing him to close it. 
"I take it that you like it?" Your eyes were shining under the soft lights and the pride he saw in them almost got a smile out of him.
"You made this?" He was still stunned about the complete makeover of the room. Even the lingering moldy smell disappeared, letting a pleasant smell floating around in its place. 
"You’re not the first one the Commission took a liking to, ya know. I’m kinda like an illusionist, but my stuff is the real deal. They saw my potential and offered me a job, which I refused and they’ve been on my tail ever since." You shrugged, replacing your hand at its rightful place on his shoulder. 
Five was truly amazed by the woman standing in front of him. Her ability had so many possibilities and she managed to escape the Commission for seemingly a long time. Add this to the fact that she can time-travel and play tricks on the best assassin this planet has ever seen, Five has never been so interested in someone like that before, not even Dolores who has been his everything for many years. 
"I can see why they were interested in you." He resumed his dancing, this time following the rhythm of the soft music playing around them. "Having two abilities is pretty rare."
You shook your head, before clarifying. "I only have one. I don't know where you get the second one from." You frowned in confusion, which reflected on his own face. 
"But you time-travel." He remembered finding the folded fish in the 1800s, the dragon around the 1950s and today was September 23th, 1987.
"Yeah, the same way as you. With a briefcase." You nodded toward the black briefcase neatly placed near the window. Five only got more and more confused. 
"But they were all dest-" He cut himself at your cheeky grin. "You created your very own. Impressive."
"Thank you." You were beaming at that point and Five felt proud that he was the source of your happiness. 
The slow song ended but neither of you stopped moving your feet in unison. Five was enjoying himself like never before and he wasn't in a hurry to end it. The corner of his lips quirked upward when he realized that you pressed yourself against him when the song ended, your way of saying that you didn't want this to end either. 
You silently danced the second song in its entirety, living every second like everything would disappear at any moment. Five was scared that this was a one night deal and that he would never see you again. Why did you reveal yourself tonight of any other night? 
Before he gathered the courage to ask you, the song reached its end and a completely different kind of music floated in the air. 
When marimba rhythms start to play
Dance with me, make me sway
Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore
Hold me close, sway me more
Five pulled away slightly, not much, only to be able to see the sheepish smile on your lips. "I love this song." Was your only answer to his frowned brows. 
Five laughed softly before stepping away and made you spin. He pulled you back to him, your melodious laugh bouncing around him like the greatest melody ever written. 
Like a flower bending in the breeze
Bend with me, sway with ease
When we dance you have a way with me
Stay with me, sway with me
It was clear that neither of you knew how to dance on this song, but you didn't care. You were both moving around freely, Five making you spin from time to time. 
Other dancers may be on the floor
Dear, but my eyes will see only you
Only you have that magic technique
When we sway I go weak
Five's heart was beating quickly, not because of the physical exercise, he was trained to accomplish way more than dancing without breaking a sweat, but because the sight of your delighted face stroked something deep within himself. A primal need. The need of a life partner. Someone who he could trust blindly and love without holding back. 
I can hear the sounds of violins
Long before it begins
Make me thrill as only you know how
Sway me smooth, sway me now
A too-quick step made you trip on your own feet, in an attempt to keep you on your feet Five reached for your arms but it was already too late. Instead of helping, Five only unbalanced you more leading you to fall to the ground and drag the man with you. Thanks to his sharp reflexes, Five caught himself on his forearms before he crushed your small form under his larger one. 
When marimba rhythms start to play
Dance with me, make me sway
Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore
Hold me close, sway me more
For a moment the assassin's heart stopped in fear. He hasn't felt afraid in years and it definitely wasn't a feeling he had missed. Your laugh flicked a switch in his heart, making it beat again in an erratic rhythm that he was almost embarrassed of. He guessed that if feeling that good meant that sometimes he was going to be afraid, it wasn't a big deal. He could deal with his fears if at the end of the day you were fine and happy in his arms. 
Like a flower bending in the breeze
Bend with me, sway with ease
When we dance you have a way with me
Stay with me, sway with me
"I'm so sorry Five!" You managed to say after catching your breath. Tears rolled from your eyes and into your hair, the reflection of the lights above creating stars in your eyes. 
"It's fine." Was all he could say, for his brain had stopped working when he realized that only a couple of centimeters separated the two of you. His body started heating up to his dismay, Five pushed on his arms and sit on his heels to help you sit up. 
When marimba rhythms start to play
Hold me close, make me sway
Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore
Hold me close, sway me more
"Thanks." You muttered while passing a hand through your messy hair. 
The sound of a metallic object falling on the ground made you jump. Five frowned, confused as to why the Commission would send him another assignment right now and not wait until his return. 
"What was that?" You whispered. 
"My employer." He was beyond annoyed by the interruption. They couldn't have chosen a worse time than tonight. 
Offering you a helping hand, Five got up and helped you when your hand closed on his. He couldn't stop himself, he enlaced his fingers through yours, the tightness of your grip made him chuckle. 
"Don't worry, they are not here." He lightly hit the wall near the window with the underside of his fist, searching for a spot on the wall that wasn't hollow. When he found it, he searched for the dissimulated door and took the canister with his name written on it. 
Releasing your hand, Five opened the canister, took the folded paper and read the words. Terminate Y/N L/N. How was he supposed to terminate someone he didn't even know? This job was so frustrating! He folded back the paper, storing it in his pants pocket. This would have to wait. He turned back to you and the sight bring a genuine smile to his lips. 
You were smiling at something outside the window, the light of the moon joined to the string lights gave you an angelic glow. He would have loved to contemplate you longer, but duty called and he now had two targets instead of one. 
"I have to go." He didn't dare say it too loud, maybe time would stop and let him live this perfect night for all eternity. 
You turned around with a small smile on your lips. He could see that you were disappointed even though you nodded like it was nothing. "Well, tonight couldn't go on forever." You walked up to him, with each one of your steps Five felt himself growing weak in the knees. Oh how he didn't want to go. "It's fine. I'll find you again." At that, you tenderly reached for his cheek while your lips pressed a delicate kiss on the other one, stealing his breath. 
You giggled, surely at the blush covering his cheeks and walked away, the illusion fading along with your steps. Just as you were about to walk down the stairs, Five remembered something. 
"Wait! I didn't get your name!" He quickly space-jumped in front of you to block your path. 
"Y/N L/N." Her smile dropped when a dark expression fell on his face. Even if he tried, he couldn’t have repressed it, the surprise and the anger were too much. 
"You have to leave." He didn’t know how they found her, he always made sure he didn’t have any bug on himself before going on a mission. 
"N-not that I wasn’t doing that anyway, but w-why the long face?" His fingers twitched at the waver in your voice. It wasn’t his intention to scare you, even less to scare you off. 
"The Commission knows you’re here. I don't know how, but they know." Five was starting to get tired of them pretty quickly. Maybe one day he would get out of there with explosions resonating through the hallways. Maybe he could use grenades. Yeah, grenades were good. 
You started to walk down the stairs when you stopped and turned to him, one last time. "Be careful."
Five smirked although your concern was touching. "I should be the one telling you that." 
With one last giggle, you walked out of his sight. Five returned to his very first task of the night, took place at his spot by the window and finished the initial job. 
Back at the Commission that night, Five removed his jacket, eager to go to bed and find himself dancing in your arms again to the sound of soft slow music. A sound caught his attention when he threw his jacket on the back of his chair, the sound of crumbling paper. 
His hands searched his pocket, grabbing the grey fox that somehow found its way into his jacket without him noticing. A smile stretched his lips before he carefully slipped the fox under his pillow and went to bed. 
A whole year passed before the next animal appeared in his pocket. As frustrated as he was of being away from you for a whole year, Five knew why this was necessary. The Commission was close on your tail. Apparently, he wasn't the only agent tasked of your termination and some got lucky enough to find your location but not enough to hurt you. 
The whole year he kept tabs on the Commission's information on you and kept worrying that someday he would find a red stamp crossing out your picture.  As of today, his worst nightmare hasn't yet come true, so he pushed his worry aside and continued his job. 
He assembled his sniper, preparing himself to kill the president of the United States in 1963 when something hit him in the head. It didn't hurt or anything, it was light as a leaf. Frowning, Five pulled away from the scope of his weapon to discover a brown frog made of folded paper lying on the ground next to his feet.
Receiving one of your signature gift after all that time caused his heart to skyrocket in his chest. All those feelings he had repressed, fearing that one day you would be gone for good and that he would definitely be alone in this cruel world, came rushing back at full speed, making him drop his gun and look around for you. 
You weren't far, waving at him with a tired smile on your face, dark shadows marking the underside of your eyes. He didn't take the time to run, simply jumping to you and engulfing your body into his arms.
Many times he thought about how much he had fallen for you after only one dancing night and five tricks followed by origamis. If it were someone else, he would have told them that they were being stupidly influenced by their primal urges that forced them to find a partner and procreate, for this was the circle of life since the dawn of time. In his case, he knew it was much more than that. It was more important to him than a need to procreate. He had found his equal, someone that sparked an insatiable interest in him and showed him that there was way more in this life than what he originally knew. 
Five tensed as soon as he heard the first sobs. Immediately he started to scan your body for wounds or blood, anything to show that you were hurt. However, his analysis was cut short by both your hands cradling his cheeks. 
"I'm fine. I'm just real' tired and I'm so happy to see you." Your arms wrapped around his neck forcing Five to hug your body closer. Not that he minded. 
He whispered words of reassurance into your hair while thinking of what to do next. You couldn't keep fleeing the Commission alone, not in your state. They would catch up to you in no time and he couldn't have that. He couldn't say that he killed you to get them off your back, the higher-ups would request physical proof of your death. It only left him with his last resort. He would have liked to find the good variable, but time was against him so he would have to deal with it. 
"I have a plan, don't worry." He dried her tears with his thumb when she lifted her head to look into his eyes. "I'll get us out of here." 
You managed a smile before chuckling. "I know. Why do you think I gave you a brown frog? A frog to ensure a safe return of your journey and brown for home." 
Five shook his head, once again amazed at how perfectly you could read him despite everyone else describing him as unpredictable. 
He grabbed your hands in his, mentally reciting the equation he passed the last 45 years developing. Before the portal appeared, Five stopped everything in a hurry, scaring the shit out of you. He let go of your hands for two seconds, enough time for him to run back at his sniper, grab the brown frog and run back at you. You rolled your eyes when he secured the frog in his jacket pocket, quickly saying that it has sentimental value, before concentrating on the portal again. 
The blue vortex appeared, its power pushing them away. It took every ounce of strength into Five's body to pull you with him through the portal, your weakened state left you helpless in front of the blue resistance. 
Five did his best to catch you during the fall, your body falling directly on top of his, stealing his breath for a moment. 
You managed to roll off of him, allowing him to take a nice bowl of air to fill his lungs. He made it. You weren't 100% safe, but he could have help now. He cou-
"Five." The worry in your voice along with your hand closing tightly on his forearm pushed him to sit up quickly and find the source of the danger. He understood your reaction when his eyes fell on his siblings who looked like hell. 
"You guys didn't change one bit." He deadpanned. His usual unimpressed face was back in service at the gaping fish-like faces of his siblings. 
"We should be the one telling you that. You haven't aged at all!" Klaus yelled, his outstretched arms moving up and down in his direction. 
Confused, Five glanced at his body and realization hit him like a brick. He knew something wasn't right! 
Your repressed giggles caught his attention, he found your 13 years old body, a hand on your mouth desperately trying to keep a full-on laugh in. He couldn't help but notice how much more tired you looked in your younger self. 
"It's not funny." Was all he said before he spacial-jumped the two of you to his old bedroom. There he guided you to the bed where he helped you get under the covers and watched you get comfortable. 
"It is funny." Five scoffed and went to the door, knowing his siblings were gathered behind it and very probably listening to their conversation. He hit the door with his foot and as expected, Klaus yelled in pain, complaining about his hurting ear. 
"I'll be downstairs to talk in a few minutes so get lost." He told them through the door. He was awarded by some angry muttering and finally, fading footsteps. 
He walked back to your side when he was sure that everyone went on their merry way, sitting on the nearby chair with your hand in his. 
"You need to rest. You'll be safe here." He kissed your hand at your tired smile. "I'll stay until you fall asleep, that okay?" You nodded, already your eyelids seemed pretty heavy. 
"I missed you Five."
You were out in less than two minutes, your breathing became deeper and slower, your facial muscles relaxed and your mouth opened slightly allowing Five to hear your even respiration. 
The boy didn't notice exactly when it happened, but the demons were now silent and the traumas shrank in size, forming a clear path toward the center of the maze that was his heart. There, the three inches thick chest that was protecting his feelings was now wide open, strings were delicately wrapped around them, not too tight as to not suffocate them, but with just enough contact so that he could permanently feel her affection enveloping him.  
"I missed you too."
[A/N] This passed SO close to having an angsty ending! So close! I figured you guys had enough angst with 11 already… and the part 2 that's coming next. 
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merinnan · 5 months ago
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Starting to work on my prompt fill list! Bet you thought I’d forgotten this one, @lacommunarde! This one’s for your prompt “Did you get any sleep last night?”
--
It started, as most things did, with a tomb, some traps, and Wu Xie. And Wu Xie triggering said traps in said tomb.
In his defence, he didn’t mean to set off the trap. He didn’t even know it was there – none of them did. Not even Xiaoge, with his apparent sixth sense for tomb traps, or Liu Sang, with his hearing, had realised that there was a second trap on top of the one that they had identified until it was too late, and Wu Xie was staggering back, choking on a cloud of fine white powder, right onto the trapdoor mechanism that Xiaoge had just warned them about.
He was aware, through his watering eyes and burning lungs and the godawful sound of stone grinding against stone, that the white cloud was expanding as more powder sprayed out into the room from the open-mouthed statue that he’d been examining and had made the mistake of touching in precisely the wrong spot. He could hear Pangzi coughing, could see Liu Sang jumping back, pulling his shirt over his nose and mouth. As the floor gave way beneath him, Wu Xie could see Xiaoge darting forward into the cloud, hand extended, dark eyes fixed on him as they widened in alarm.
He was sure, just before he hit the freezing cold water, just before his vision went dark and his awareness went blank, that he felt a firm, familiar hand around his arm, and heard a panicked “Ouxiang!” from somewhere above them.
*
The first thing that Wu Xie became aware of was a thundering headache right behind his closed eyes, beating in time with his pulse. Thump, thump, thump. Pain, pain, pain. He tried squeezing his eyes shut even harder, but it didn’t help at all.
The second thing he became aware of was the truly foul taste in his mouth, what tasted like a mix of vomit and something sickeningly floral sweet. When he tried to wet his mouth and swallow away the taste, he became aware of the third thing, which was that his throat was parched dry and felt like it had been scoured.
Between these three things, it took him several moments to become aware of some additional facts – that he was sitting on something hard, probably rocky ground, judging from what felt like stones digging into his leg through the slightly damp probably-a-sleeping-bag that he was wrapped in. he was propped up against what he thought was a rocky wall against his back, and to his side he was leaning against something big, fleshy, and warm. Pangzi, his brain helpfully provided, aided in its identification by a loud and familiar snore.
Also, that he was stripped down to his underwear inside sleeping bag, there was something both sweet and foul-smelling nearby, barely masked by the scent of strong coffee, and he could hear a fire crackling somewhere in front of him.
“I know you’re awake.” The voice was familiar, cranky, and so very tired, but, most importantly to Wu Xie right now, it set his headache to throbbing even more. He groaned, trying to get his eyes further shut, before giving up and cautiously cracking first one eye open, then the other.
He was, as he expected, met by Liu Sang’s judgemental gaze. Or it would have been judgemental, had those pretty eyes not been slightly dull and surrounded by the darkest circles Wu Xie had ever seen, ones that couldn’t even be hidden by the large, sturdy glasses that Liu Sang wore on tomb expeditions. The younger man looked pale and slightly haggard, and even more exhausted than Wu Xie felt. Wu Xie blinked at him, then groaned again, trying to sit up properly and look around.
They were in… to be honest, calling it a ‘cave’ would be generous. Large crack in the side of a larger cavern would be more accurate.  He was, as he thought, wrapped in his sleeping back and propped up against Pangzi, with both of them propped up against the very back wall, their packs on Pangzi’s other side, and not much more room back here than that. In front of him, the crack widened a little, enough for Liu Sang and Xiaoge, both shirtless, to be sitting side by side in front of a camp stove, where a bubbling pot produced the blessed smell of coffee, and Wu Xie managed to free his hands from the sleeping bag enough to make some slightly pathetic grabby hands at it before he realised that Xiaoge’s hand was bandaged, and that the entrance to the crack was entirely walled off by a line of fire.
“Xiaoge? You got hurt?” Wu Xie asked, his voice a little raspy both from unconsciousness and from how dry and sore it was. Xiaoge looked up at him, eyes scanning him, before eventually shaking his head. “But…” Wu Xie waved at the bandaged hand.
“Shibie,” Xiaoge said, his voice soft enough that Wu Xie could barely hear it above the fire, and the sound of water in the cavern outside.
“Shibie?” Wu Xie looked around again, this time noticing blood smeared on walls, noticing spent flares tossed beyond the line of fire. “They’re gone now?”
“Finally,” Liu Sang said, and Wu Xie noticed how the usual snap and fire was so subdued, so tired. “Ouxiang drove the rest of them away when he woke up.”
“What do you mean, ‘when he woke up’? What happened?” Wu Xie frowned, blinking himself more awake, and noticing more details about the place. He could see his clothes - all of their clothes, actually, spread out on the ground close to the fire, evidently drying out. And one patch of ground that had everything well clear of it, dark with water and some discarded water bottles next to it, and… lumps. And that was where the awful smell was coming from. He wrinkled his nose, looking back at Liu Sang and Xiaoge.
“You all got poisoned,” Liu Sang said flatly, then gave a huge yawn before glaring at Wu Xie as if he was personally responsible, but still reached out to scoop out a cup of the strong-smelling coffee and shove it into Wu Xie’s hands.
“The white powder,” Wu Xie guessed, taking a sip and almost gagging. That was… that was a lot stronger than he generally had his coffee. He took one look at Liu Sang’s glare, sharp enough to cut glass even through the obvious exhaustion, and meekly took another sip. “Wait. All?”
“All,” Liu Sang confirmed.
“Even Xiaoge?”
“Even Ouxiang.” Beyond Liu Sang, Xiaoge just nodded with an ever-so-slight shrug.
“But…” Wu Xie let go of the cup with one hand to wave around at where they were, at the blood, the fire, the packs, and at what was clearly a patch of vomit that someone had attempted to wash away.
“Ouxiang managed to drag you out of the water and in here,” Liu Sang said, before breaking off in another yawn and scooping out another cup of the coffee. Wu Xie was secretly gratified to see the face that Liu Sang pulled upon sipping it was similar to his own, before Liu Sang just went ahead and downed a full half of the cup anyway. “I dragged Pangzi here, and I am billing the both of you for how much my back hurts now,” he added. “When I said I heard shibie, ouxiang cut his hand,” and here that trademark glare was turned on Xiaoge, who just shrugged again, and Wu Xie felt himself sympathising with the both of them for different reasons, “and smeared his blood on the walls before he passed out. But I suppose it worked,” Liu Sang conceded, “since no shibie tried to get in that way. There was enough dried plant matter and some old washed up wood here that I was able to set up the fire to keep them from coming in that way most of the time. The flares worked for the rest.”
Wu Xie looked at the fire again, and the spent flares, silently counting them. Unless he missed his guess, that was almost every flare they’d brought with them, and Liu Sang must have had to go through everyone’s packs for them. Then he glanced at the smelly patch, down at himself, then at their clothes.
“You all spent half the night throwing up,” Liu Sang grumbled, catching the glances. “It was disgusting. I’m a specialist, not a nursemaid. It’s a miracle none of you choked.” He gulped down the rest of his coffee, then scooped out another cup. “I think the smell of it is partly what kept attracting the shibie, too.” He drained half the second cup, not even pulling a face this time. “Once you finally stopped, I got you all out of your clothes, wrapped you up, and sat you up so you wouldn’t choke on the coughing fits that came next.”
“Oh.” Wu Xie wrapped both hands around his cup again, staring at Liu Sang, and trying to find the right words to what he’d just heard. That Liu Sang, by himself, had nursed them through poisoning and vomiting while having to contend with shibie. He looked again at how pale Liu Sang was, noting how he was swaying where he sat, and shaking a little from the amount of coffee he was downing.
“How long were we out?” he finally asked, and Liu Sang shrugged before glancing at his watch.
“You? About ten hours. Ouxiang woke up a couple of hours ago and drove the rest of the shibie away, again in a completely unsanitary manner.” He glared at Xiaoge again. “And you can’t even use the excuse that you’re less affected by germs and drugs and such, ouxiang, because you were affected by the poison just like Wu Xie and Pangzi were.”
Xiaoge gave one of his barely-there smiles, and just patted Liu Sang on the shoulder. Wu Xie was about to smile at the sight, before he realised something.
“Liu Sang,” he said. “Did you get any sleep last night?”
The eyeroll that that question netted him was truly epic.
“What do you think?” Liu Sang said. “Between the three of you trying to choke on your own vomit, then on your own breathing, and shibie not leaving us the fuck alone, when do you think the only conscious person should have slept?”
Wu Xie caught Xiaoge’s eye over Liu Sang’s shoulder, and the man nodded slightly. They were clearly going to be here a little while yet, since Pangzi was still asleep, and this little place had been made as safe as possible through the efforts of both Xiaoge and Liu Sang. Liu Sang, who had only saved all three of them, and was clearly not going to look after himself.
He reached forward, taking the now empty cup from Liu Sang’s hands, then wrapped the man in a hug and pulled him close to him, ignoring the squawk and weak flailing to get away.
“What are you doing?!” Liu Sang demanded, and Wu Xie aggressively cuddled him closer while Xiaoge picked up the sleeping bag laying across his lap and tucked it around Liu Sang instead. “Ouxiang?!”
“Thank you,” Wu Xie told him. “I don’t know what we would have done without you. But you’re clearly exhausted, so sleep now, okay?”
Liu Sang blinked up at him through his glasses, opened his mouth to say something, and whatever it was was cut off by another huge yawn.
 “We’ve got you,” Wu Xie told him, reaching up to take his glasses off and pass them to Xiaoge, then gently pat the still-damp hair. “You took care of us, so we’ll take care of you now. We can figure out how to get out of here once you’ve rested.”
“But…” Liu Sang mumbled through another yawn, then startled slightly when Xiaoge tucked the sleeping bag around a little tighter and patted his shoulder.
“Sleep,” Xiaoge told him. Liu Sang blinked at him, then at Wu Xie, still gently patting his hair.
“Just for a little bit,” he finally conceded, and closed his eyes. Wu Xie silently counted to one, two, three, and then Liu Sang was asleep, exhaustion winning out over stubbornness. Wu Xie smiled down at him, then at Xiaoge, and leaned back to rest some more.
They weren’t going anywhere until they were all rested and recovered, after all.
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coffeeforcastiel · 9 months ago
Text
Destiel Coda to 9.06 “Heaven Can Wait” 
They were both drunk off multiple shots of cheap vodka chased with admittedly nasty bottled lemonade that warmed their stomachs along with slices of greasy, cheesy pizza. Dean hadn’t thought he was going to be spending the night with Castiel, but after what had happened earlier and seeing Castiel’s pained face as he slowly lowered himself into the Impala, Dean held back from his previous plans.  
He knew what always seemed to help him in situations that left him feeling hollow….booze, fast food and stupid decisions. It wasn’t a perfect solution and maybe it wouldn’t work, but Dean figured it was worth a shot.  So Dean hauled them to the nearest pizza joint with take-out, ransacked a convenience store for their cheapest alcohol and convinced the stubborn fallen angel to ‘stop bitching and get out of the fucking car already’ when they made it back to his highway motel.
Dean was now laughing uncontrollably at Castiel’s confusion over the road runner cartoon on TV in their motel room. Cas’ head lolled to the side and he asked in a drunken ramble why the coyote was so intent on catching the road runner,  “Especially when the road runner obviously always wins.” Cas burped, “I mean, wouldn’t the coyote get sick of taking on bodily harm?”
“It’s just a cartoon, Cas.” Dean replied, swigging down another shot, “Don’t think so hard.”
Cas nodded and poured himself another shot, giggling as his now drunken lack of coordination made the clear alcohol slosh over the brim of his coffee mug, “Whoopsie!”
Dean pushed himself to slide along the foot of the bed where both he and Castiel were leaning against the large bed frame, trying to get himself closer to his best friend’s side. “When did you learn that?”
Castiel grimaced after he chugged down the shot, grabbing another piece of pizza and taking a bite, “Learn what?”
“The uhm…” Dean couldn’t concentrate with this much alcohol drowning his synapses, the room and TV seeming to sway and swim in his field of vision, “Whoopsie?”
The rest of Castiel’s pizza slice was then forgotten and thrown back into the box with a slap, his eyes glazed as he finished chewing, “A young girl…came into the store…” he wiped his hands on the questionable, rosy-hued and stained, motel carpet, “She bought an ice-cream cone with chocolate fudge.” He looked over at Dean, whose eyes followed Castiel’s hands as he mimed her holding the ice cream and going to take a bite…and then, “Splat!” Castiel shouted, one palm slapping forcefully down on the carpet, shaking the pizza box slightly, “Ice cream and chocolate all over the floor.” He cleared his throat, smiling, “She said, whoopsie. It seemed endearing.”
“Wow.” Dean chuckled as he watched Cas push his empty mug away as a nonchalant sign of being done with the vodka, “Learning all kinds of...stuff.”
Castiel nodded, “All the important skills…how to mop up ice cream, how to clean the slushie machine, get unknown substances off of bathroom walls…” Castiel’s eyes narrowed as he glared at the TV, unseeing the cartoon still playing on low volume, “How to read signals from people.” He chuckled without humor, “Apparently that skill still needs some honing, seeing as I didn’t notice how Nora’s advances were more focused on getting a babysitter than a boyfriend.”
“I wouldn’t say that, exactly…” Dean said, setting his own empty mug down beside him.
Castiel swung his head in Dean’s direction, “I WOULD say that, exactly.”
“Disagree with me all you want, Cas.” Dean closed the pizza box, moving it on top of the bed, scooting himself even closer to Castiel’s side, “I am sure you are better than you think at….reading signals…or whatever.”
Castiel crossed his arms as he continued to stare intently in Dean’s direction, barely blinking and bringing Dean to wonder how many hues of blue he could find in Castiel’s eyes if he looked long enough. “How about you try to read me?” Dean proposed.
A roll of Castiel’s eyes broke them from out of their shared gaze, “I am sure I will fail at this endeavor.”
They argued drunkenly, Dean continuing to goad with ‘come on, it’ll be easy’ and a few slaps to Castiel’s, thicker than expected, upper arm. With a sigh, Castiel finally agreed, Dean standing up and turning away to go through in his head the multiple different poses and facial expressions he’d seen women throw his way over the years, trying to narrow down the ones he figured would be easiest to decipher.
After a few seconds, Dean spun around on the balls of his feet, his voice cranked into a woman’s higher pitch and his hands in a pose he hoped came off as dainty in his drunken state, “Hey, you must be new because I definitely would have remembered you if you’d worked here before.”
Castiel sat silent for a second, “Uhm…I think that means she finds me attractive?”
Dean nodded and stepped closer to give Castiel a slap on the shoulder, “See, no problem! I don’t even have to do more than one. You’re a master.” Then sat down on the carpet again, this time near the end of Castiel’s outstretched legs.
Dubious was the best word to describe the look on Castiel’s face, “Dean, even if I read all the…” Castiel flailed his arms, circling in the stale air coming from the rattling air conditioner, “signals correctly…that doesn’t mean much.”
With a shake of his head, Dean replied, “It might not, but that’s no reason to quit trying!”
They fell quiet, the TV now flickering through an infomercial and softening the silence around the room with a low level drone.
Dean cleared his throat, “Listen,” he started, unconsciously scratching at his wrist, “I’m sorry about Nora. She, uhm....she doesn’t know what she’s missing.”
Castiel shrugged, “Possibly…”
Dean cleared his throat, he needed to say something to make Cas feel better…and he knew what it was, but it still took a second to give himself the slap to the balls to start, “You know, I never meant to kick you out of the bunker, Cas. I can’t explain exactly why right now, but believe me, I wanted you to stay. Honestly.”
Cas nodded, picked randomly at his bandages, and quietly replied, “Yes, I know, Dean. Thank you.”
Dean didn’t know what came over him, maybe it was the forlorn look in Castiel’s eyes or the fact that his shoulders looked taught with the burden of human life and emotions, but he felt the need to prove his words.  He needed to get Castiel to understand how much he meant to him, how much Dean wasn’t lying when he said he needed him around, wanted him around.
Without thinking too much and trying not to knock over his own nearby mug, Dean grabbed Castiel’s cut hand, slowly bringing his lips to Castiel’s palm and looking up as he deftly kissed over the layers of bandages. Cas’ eyes widened and his mouth parted in a sigh as Dean looked up into his face, green eyes glittering in the soft yellow glow of a nearby bedside lamp.
A beat. The air was suddenly heavy and thick.
A halt in the murmur of the television and the hum of the air conditioner had Castiel slowly leaning forward, stopping close enough where Dean could smell the sweet lemonade on Cas’ breath and see the sparks of gold slicing through the bright blue of his glassy eyes.
Another beat.
Dean realized Cas was waiting for him to finish the push forward. He was waiting for permission. Waiting for Dean to cut the caution tape. To smash the invisible, unspoken about wall they’d put between them.
And he did. Oh boy….he did.
He brought a hand up to the back of Castiel’s neck, gently gripping at the soft hair and coming into taste the lips he had desired for so long. Castiel sighed into the kiss, body beginning to lax, his mouth opening, sweet and warm, his undamaged hand coming to rest between Dean’s shoulder-blades while the unbandaged fingers of his other lean against the jut of Dean’s collarbone. 
Gripping the back of Cas’ head a little harder, Dean nipped once, twice, at Castiel’s lower lip, pushing the kiss from soft and gentle, into a thundering territory of hard desire and feral, desperate hunger.  With his one free hand, Dean slid it to the small of Castiel’s back, gently maneuvering Cas to straddle his outstretched legs, not once breaking their searing deep kiss.
Dean could feel his heart pounding as his mind drowned in a flood of excitement. He was kissing Castiel, he was kissing his best friend, an angel of the damn lord….and he was loving every second of it. He loved feeling Castiel’s soft, silken hair running through his fingers and the muscles of his back flexing, he loved hearing Cas’ little moans and deep breaths between the rhythms of their lips. It was intoxicating.
Castiel gave back as much as he took from Dean, his hips instinctively rolling forward repeatedly with every swipe of his tongue along Dean’s lips and teeth. His good hand trailed down Dean’s spine, his fingers tickling along the band of Dean’s jeans and under his shirts, back and fourth, over the dip in his lower back while scratching at the soft skin of his hipbones.
Dean pulled away, just barely, to suck in much needed air, “Fuck, Cas…” he trailed off, his hips pushing up to meet Castiel’s, the muscles in his thighs aching from the repetitive motion. Their lips still rubbed together, slick with spit and hot with their breath.  Dean ran his palms down from Cas’ neck, over his strong shoulders and trailing along the front of his shirt, biting his lip as the muscles underneath twitched. Looking down, following his hand’s path, Dean could see through the opening the two undone buttons of the shirt to the golden skin beneath.
Damn.
After a few more moments, Castiel moved his head back a little further and Dean took in his kiss swollen, red lips, his mussed hair and wide chest flushed with exertion. Dean knew he probably looked the same.
“We should stop.” Cas whispered, but not physically moving from Dean’s lap. He swallowed, “We are drunk.”
Dean shook his head, not really knowing what to say but blurting out, “Not drunk anymore.”
Cas smiled and chuckled sadly, fitting his warm palms to frame Dean’s face, his thumbs trailing over the shape of Dean’s lips and down his stubbled chin. Words didn’t need to be spoken, Dean knew what Castiel was trying to tell him, even through the fog of alcohol and sleep deprivation. They did have to stop. As much as it felt impossible, no matter how desperate their desire, no matter how intensely as it tore their hearts in two, this time was not the right one. Not yet, anyway.
Dean sighed and nodded, “Let’s get some shut-eye, then, I guess.”
It took all of Dean’s strength to pry himself off and away from Castiel on that musty motel floor. Not only because his legs were still half asleep even after Castiel stood up, but because his body didn’t seem to want to leave their heady embrace. 
After they both stood, Dean allowed himself the chance to watch with a heated stare as Cas took off his jeans and white button up and slipped quietly between the bed sheets. Castiel looked up at Dean expectantly, wordlessly showcasing his intent. Dean chuckled and took up the invitation Castiel gave, stripping down to his boxers and sliding into the bed. Clicking off the lights and scootching close to Castiel, Dean bent his arm to lay on Cas’ toned torso and push his cheek against a broad, strong shoulder. It was different to lay like this with another man, but it was still warm. Still calming. If Dean thought about it too much, he might have even admitted he felt safe. The safest he’d ever felt. 
“Goodnight, Dean.” Castiel whispered into Dean’s hair as the early morning dark enveloped them.
“Goodnight, Cas.” Dean replied, knowing that they were both trying to stay awake, trying to cling to this reality as long as they possibly could. Sleep would come and the dawn would arrive, and with it, the personalized forced forgetfulness of what had just occurred. They would get dressed and go their separate ways again, focused on their self-imposed missions. No more time for whatever this night brought about. Put those feelings and those intense desires back into the box, lock them away again….because emotions and feelings….those things made you a target. Made you malleable. Made you weak. And they both knew it.  They knew, it was plain and simple, that this comfort was all they could have for a while. This was the limit to what they could allow themselves to have.
But until the morning, until the clock struck the final hour, they could just be together. Hold on to each other in the dark.
Because hell…what more could a repressed hunter and a fallen angel of the lord really need anyway?
Right?
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katsuflossy · a year ago
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I saw you do a cheerleader headcannon can you do that again but this time with Izuku, Shinsou, and Sero please Also I love your work keep it up 💜👏🏾
Their Cheerleader S/o Pt. 2
Pairings: Midoriya Izuku x reader, Shinso Hitoshi x reader, Sero Hanta x reader
TW: lil curse words, touching on insecurities in Shinso’s part
A/N: So...writer’s block sucks ass but I’m trying to write some good stuff for y’all. Also for Midoriya I touched little on Majorette/baton twirling because I couldn’t stop thinking about it but overall it’s still about cheerleading. I hope you enjoy!! ❤️
Taglist: @sunset-novice-writer @goatsenpaiultimate
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🥦 Oh baby
🥦 Been eyeing you from before but at the school festival? When you taught the girls a lil routine like it was Beychella? He can’t stop making heart eyes at you.
🥦 It was like an intermission for the concert. Had to put Shouji as the trumpeteer and the trombonist cause he was the only one who could do the whole melody himself.
🥦 You had your little twirler solo and Midoriya nearly dropped Aoyama like a New Years Eve ball. And that shit would’ve fell on Mineta’s ass cause God don’t like ugly. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Click da vid)
🥦 Anyways he loves your flexible, twirling ass. Studies you like your All Might himself because your time as a cheerleader adapted its way into your fight technique.
🥦 The best couple and duo. He’s every flyers’ dream because he’s so gentle but strong when throwing you up and catching you.
🥦 You don’t think our baby boy can’t lift you? He’s uses you when he’s doing light bench presses... a scrong mf.
🥦 Like Todoroki, he ain’t got no rhythm, can’t catch a beat if it was a virus. Lord have mercy, you gave Iida more rhythm than him
🥦 But he’ll write down all your material and beats in his very special journal for you.
🥦 Do a special sum sum for him. He’ll be wide-eyed trying to capture your every move, curve and roll, red cheeked noting how your skirt swayed a little higher, peaking at a little more thigh, and off to the Recovery Girl because you broke him.
🥦 Failed a stunt? He’s right there with water, an ice pack, a twix bar because your sugar may be low, and a bunch of sweet, encouraging words.
🥦 He’s your nurse and no. 1 fan.
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🩹 Was actually passing when he saw you around the girls in your new hero suit, trying to see if it could handle all of DAT ASS long strenuous activities.
🩹 You did one flip, two flip, three, and four. Mans was falling for you more and more.
🩹 Loves hearing you cheer for him on the sidelines. He gets really motivated if you made a special cheer for him.
🩹 And he’s one of the only ones who can do a cheer because he got that sazón; the rhythm and beat gods had blessed him and sadly only him.
🩹 As much of a cheerleader as you. So when your training, he’s in the front chanting for you, letting you feel yourself as you mop the floor with your opponent.
🩹 But his favorite thing about you being a cheerleader is the FLEXIBILITY.
🩹 When he tries to get up from a cuddling session on the couch and you lift your leg to stop him...
🩹 Sero.exe stopped working.
🩹 When you do a leg extension to close the top shelf in the kitchen, he has to recollect yourself because wow.
🩹 His favorite part of your body is your legs...I wonder why.
🩹 Always has a hand on your thigh, massaging and rubbing them to comfort himself. It’s his version of a stress ball.
🩹 Will unconsciously grope them as you two fall asleep.
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🎆 Meets you through Aizawa’s training session.
🎆 With you being the most nimble in the entire year and Shinso being...close to the bottom, the pro-hero asked for you assistance in his apprentice.
🎆 He was very upset that someone from the hero course who was blessed with such skill is helping him. He doesn’t like the pity.
🎆 You straightened him out, saying that you’re not a prodigy and you’ve worked blood, sweat and tears to get have this skill.
🎆 You told him about your competitive cheerleading background and how gruelling and toxic it was. How they poked fun at your weight and every other feature that did not fit the cheerleading model. He felt guilty about judging you.
🎆 The relationship bloomed from there.
🎆 You’re a great teacher...and a great distraction.
🎆 His eyes never leaves you when you’re stretching.
🎆 Aizawa will ask you to demonstrate a handspring and Shinso just notice the sliver of skin that showed when you were in the air.
🎆 “—And remember to push off the ground in order to get on your feet firmly. Got that?”
🎆 Shinso blinked, coming out of his trance, not hearing a word Aizawa has said “Umm, yes sir.”
🎆 Starts smacking the back of his head when his sight trails off to you, who’s just existing.
🎆 Make a cheer for him...he’ll be completely flustered, from his ears to his neck sporting red as he scratches the back of his nape.
🎆 Knows that your years of competitive cheerleading made you feel slightly insecure. If he sees you looking in your mirror, frowning at a particular body part, he’ll wrap his arms around you, complimenting your entire physique.
🎆 At the end, he’ll kiss your forehead, the tip of your nose and then dedicate a special kiss to that one “problem” part on your body.
🎆 He’s your cheerleader in his own way ☺️.
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