Things you don't want to hear:
"Ok, but don’t tell [Virgil]." - is it boring if I say Scott&Gordon again?
And just for fun because of this post on Tumblr I’m also throwing in a knife…
Scott was the daredevil. The adrenaline junkie. The ultimate risk-taker. And that was before International Rescue. If it could be done the chances were that he had done it. Base-jump off one of the tallest buildings in the world? Jumped out of a balloon? Slack-lined across the Grand canyon? Whitewater rafting? Dived with sharks? Speed-flying over the Alps? Wing-walking, free-climbing. Hell, he’d even stood at the mouth of an erupting volcano. These were the ones his brother knew about.
The thing was, he never talked about them. They were achievements of his very own. Not even John knew all his exploits, and Scott planned to keep it that way, his brother had enough blackmail material to last a lifetime – he didn’t need any more.
Besides, there was no way that he wanted certain little brothers to follow in his footsteps.
And then there was Virgil. His closest brother and confidant in almost everything else was sure to get an aneurysm if he knew just how close to the mark Scott’s life had got for fun.
But there was one tale that neither John nor Virgil knew. One that was currently making Scott’s internal alarm wail at DEFCON 1. And the reason he was currently at this state of panic alert? In one word: Gordon.
Gordon, who’d gone on holiday for two weeks to some small town in England.
Gordon, who had visited the Cirque du Soleil.
Gordon, who had got very friendly with a certain act.
Gordon, who had cornered him the minute he had got home.
Gordon, who had produced a very old picture without saying a word. Placed it in Scott’s hands and walked away. Three days later and still his fish brother, his brother who loved to prank, had said and done nothing. He’d even gone to the mainland for a day without coming back with anything. And for every hour that passed Scott’s concern increased.
Until he came across one of the most frightening things he had ever had to deal with on the island.
Scott had set out for a run. He’d missed his morning one, being out on an all-night rescue with Virgil, so waking up at just after lunch, his first priority had been his routine. There was a slight frown when Gordon wasn’t in the pool, until he realised just what the time was. Virgil was still in bed. Alan and Grandma had gone to the mainland. Kayo was…well, who knew where, and John was up where he normally was, having already told Scott where everyone else was.
So Scott was running. Through the forest trail, up part of the side of the volcano and back along the beach. It was a long route, and by the time he had hit the beach he had a healthy sweat going.
Until he turned the corner and saw the mess. Then the sweat turned cold and dripped like ice down his back.
For spread out along the remainder of the beach were small fires, tiny ones. And in the middle of them stood Gordon. He was spinning some kind of pole and each end was alight. And both flames were moving closer to his brother.
Scott didn’t wait. He charged down the beach and almost tackled Gordon to the ground. Only, he just stopped short as his brother dropped the pole with a yelp.
Gordon turned around and almost collided with Scott, jumping back at the last moment in surprise. Scott was, for once, speechless. And Gordon gave him a sheepish grin before going to pick up the pole.
It was then that Scott recognised what his brother was holding, and he had to really fight himself to stand his ground. For Gordon was holding a traditional long Samoan knife. The wicked blade with its hooked tip, a good 37-inches long. It might have been years, but he recognised the official knife right away.
Besides, the small piles of burning paraffin dotted along the beach told Scott all he needed to know. How his brother hadn’t chopped a hand off by now was amazing in of itself, but as Scott looked closer Gordon was dotted about with small burns. He sighed.
‘If I promise to help you clear up and treat your burns with Brains’ special cream, will you promise to never do this again?’ Gordon looked at himself for the first time, seeing all the little burns. There was also a small slash along one arm. Explaining that to Virgil would be interesting…’Maybe, Scott, if I promise not to tell John or show him the photo, you will agree to not tell Virgil?’ If Virgil found out Gordon was pretty sure the medic would blow a gasket.
‘Deal,’ Scott replied, holding out his hand. They shook.
It took almost an hour to clear up the beach so that it looked normal. If Scott hadn’t touched the knife itself, he had been very helpful with the paraffin and the beach. Brains’ cream was wonderfully soothing, and Scott was liberal in its’ application. Now the only problem was that Gordon couldn’t hide from Virgil or John that he had been hurt.
It was the only time Scott suggested that he should take Tracy Two out and go see Lady Penelope, a suggestion Gordon jumped at. By the time Virgil awoke Gordon was already in the air.
As his brother headed for his first coffee of the day, Scott looked at the photo in his hands. How on earth Gordon found it Scott would never know, but he was glad that it didn’t name him. Maybe he would be lucky that his brothers – John – would never work it out.
The photo showed a picture of a very, very young Scott, in full Samoan costume, accepting a prize for winning the amateur section of the 57th Annual Fire-Knife Dance.
From the kitchen Virgil’s voice suddenly called. ‘Why can I smell burning paraffin?’
Bay/rise 38!! @errorfreak88 @brightlotusmoon @digitl-art-monstr @selfindulgenz @dakotafinely @yarchurr @sententiously-sarcastic @sprinklestheditty
Content warnings!! Trauma and a scene that may resemble suicidal signs (please lmk if you can think of a better phrasing)
Leonardo and Hueso sat lotus style facing each other, Leonardo’s sword laid out in front of them. The rest of the mutants and April were forced behind a line of tape, told they could watch as long as they were quiet. Mikey and Raphael, it seemed, had trouble remembering that they couldn’t cross the line and would have to be gently reminded by Raph and Michalengalo to move back. They’d be so drawn into the ceremony like fish to a lure that they’d outright forget that they had crossed the line. Raphael, after the long nap gifted to him, was looking much brighter and calmer than the state Leonardo had left him in, and Leonardo had trouble focusing on Hueso without his eyes wandering back over to check on his brother. Hueso would snap his fingers each time Leonardo strayed and give a simple, “Eyes on me.”
The two of them sat in a silence for a long time, their hands joined. Hueso said it was only supposed to be a ten minute reflection to draw the memories forth from the sword, but for the first few times, Leonardo would have made some noise, no matter how small, and the progress of the ceremony would be lost. Finally, with great mental strain and biting his tongue to keep it from wanting to talk, finally they made it the full ten minutes. It was a delayed reaction, just enough for each of the brothers to consider that maybe they did something wrong. Then it happened all at once.
The lines traced along the blade of the odachi lit up in the brightest cerulean blue, spiraling in on itself until it illuminated a sixteen-petaled lotus with a downward-facing triangle in its middle surrounding a circle. Hueso opened his eyes finally, and Leonardo couldn’t hide the gasp as he witnessed the newfound beauty of the calaca. The usually blank canvas of his bones were decorated in bright rainbows of designs that seemed somehow dull in the presence of the glowing odachi. His normally white eyes shone a deep, powerful blue and his teeth each took on a different color.
“Hueso— your bones!” Leonardo remembered he wasn’t supposed to talk the minute the words left his mouth and he flinched with the expectation that all their progress would be erased, but it was not.
Hueso laughed at Leonardo. “My bones? You should take a look at yourself!”
Leonardo gave a confused hum and looked back at his companions, who all stared at him with wide expressions of awe and in various stages of cheers and silent words Leonardo couldn’t hear. “Why can’t I…?”
“It’s normal, don’t worry.” Hueso said, “We are truly alone. Check your reflection in the glint of your odachi if you care to.”
Leonardo leaned forward to look at the glowing odachi closer and, beyond the blue light, his reflection was as clear as if it were a mirror. Every mark and flaw on Leonardo’s face was lit up brightly, his stripes the brighter shades of the normal color, except glowing, while the rest of the imperfections matched the color of the odachi. Every scar and fault and blemish that covered his face and body was highlighted bright and beautiful.
“Wow…” Leonardo whistled, “I look hot!”
“You are Kintsugi.” Hueso said with a laugh, “And your chakra, of course, Vishuddha.”
“The throat chakra…” Leonardo touched his neck and felt the heat of the burning chakra within. “Wow. I’m literally hot!”
“You have no shame do you?”
“None at all.” Leonardo stuck out his tongue.
Hueso sighed and shook his head. “The sword holds the memories of all the places it has been.
Each rift is opens leaves a mark in the very metal…”
The reflection in the sword started to shift and change to show the most recent uses. Leonardo using the portal to defeat Leo in the spar. Leonardo using the portal to reach his father. Leonardo portaling away from Krang’s technodrone...
“There.” The memories stopped shifting at Hueso’s word, “When you’re more experienced, you will be able to draw forth these memories on your own. But for now, you did amazing.” Hueso let go of Leonardo’s hands to stand up. “Take your odachi and create your rift.”
Leonardo grabbed his odachi and stood up, every part of his body feeling numb and overwhelmed at the same time, and he traced the odachi through the air. It ripped through the fabric of reality almost audibly, the portal brighter and stronger than Leonardo had ever made or seen. The force of its draw was intense and unrelenting that Leonardo would have been pulled off his feet if it wasn’t for Hueso grabbing him by the bridge of his carapace to hold him still.
“We do not want to cross through there.” Hueso spoke just loud enough to be heard over the whistling of the rift, “You must move the rift to a safe entry point.”
Leonardo back to the rift and saw its placement, high in the center of the technodrone with hundreds of feet of open air below. He took a shaky breath as he moved just close enough to take a better look inside.
“T… there?” He pointed at a ledge farther down the wall of the technodrone.
“You tell me.” Hueso said calmly.
“Y… yes.” Leonardo decided, almost confident. “Yes, that would work.”
“Then let us retrieve your brothers.”
Everything was going just as planned. Krang was rubbing his ring with that devilish grin spit across his pink face, a tentacle occasionally rubbing the ring just to feel the rush of its power once more. The Shadow Fiend did just as Krang ordered, down to the smallest request. When Krang said to walk, The Shadow Fiend walked. When Krang said to sit, the Shadow Fiend sat. When Krang said to jump or growl or roar or beg, The Shadow Fiend listened. Krang liked that. He could only imagine what this creature would be like at its full power, and he could hardly wait to use it to its full potential.
“How much longer?” Krang looked away from his ring just long enough to address Draxum.
Draxum was humming softly as he did his work, as slow as he could manage without drawing attention from Krang. He had to give that skeleton enough time to find the brothers and bring them here, and he was running out of ways to stall. “The ceremony has to be perfect, Great Oni. I must make sure there is no fault in my lines.”
“Very well then.” Krang huffed, “Just hurry up then! I want my new prize sooner rather than later.”
“You will have your prize.” Draxum promised, “You just must be patient.”
“Patience isn’t a virtue of us ‘oni’ in case you haven’t noticed.”
“Oh trust me, I have.” Draxum muttered under his breath, too low for Krang to hear. Krang was too busy looking at his ring again to care anyway. Finally, Draxum brought Yoshi to the middle of the ceremony, the rat blind folded with his arms and legs tied as Draxum could manage without snapping the limbs. Mutants were all so delicate compared to yokai, especially their fleshy bits.
“You are a cruel creature, Baron Draxum!” Yoshi spat, trying to snap at Draxum’s hand while the yokai handled and positioned him like a doll. “Gaining the trust of me and my sons, pretending you’ve changed— betraying my dear Orange!”
“You should talk less.” Draxum warned.
Yoshi didn't stop. “And now you bring these innocent other worldly creatures into your lust for power?! What— you want to steal their mutagen too? Haven’t you done enough damage to the people of New York?!”
Draxum laughed and planted his hoof firmly on Yoshi’s back, pressing the mutant slowly and firmly into the ground and twisting him almost playfully. “You are not people, Yoshi. You. Are. A. RAT!”
He slammed his hoof down hard and Yoshi cried out as the sharp hoof pierced the fur and flesh.
“Leave him alone!” Splinter cried out from where he was still being held captive by Draxum’s vines.
Draxum rolled his eyes and tightened his grip on the talkative mutant. “Why is he still alive again?”
“I want him to watch as I destroy his sons.” Krang laughed, “Or, more as my new pet here does. It’ll make him all the more entertaining after I freeze him.”
Cassandra didn't know how to feel. She trusted her master more than anything, and her master seemed to trust this ‘oni’ so she had to trust him too. But at the same time… this Splinter had been so kind to her. Sat down with her during her girl scouts phase… talked with her… advised her. He was so nice, and to see him being abused by her master jut felt wrong. But then she shook her head to dismiss such treasonous thoughts as they tried to invade. She was Cassandra freaking Jones! Loyal to the Foot Clan and to her masters to the very end! And when she could get her hands on the orb and free her family and clan, she would do just that and everything would be well again— just as long as they got those turtles out of the way!
The portal took them through just as planned. Their feet carried them swift and quiet, even the large box turtles able to walk as silent as a panther stalking through the night. The bigger brothers were the first through, followed by the mix-matched set, and lastly April, which made the bay brother’s eyes widen in apprehension .
“Should she be here?” Raph asked, his voice as low as one could hope it to be. “This ain’t exactly safe!”
Donnie’s eyes seemed to bug out of their sockets in his panic that quickly turned to confusion. “Wait— her o2 stats are still stable… how is she breathing right now?”
“She won’t be if she goes down there.” Raph growled, “This ain’t amateur hour.”
Michelangelo practically tackled April, pressing his finger to her lips to shush her. Leonardo watched the scene with a strange expression on his face. Raphael and Donatello were quick to notice, both of them exchanging looks to make sure the other was seeing what they were. The expression wasn’t quite sad nor happy nor upset nor mad. It was just… calm. Calm and so unnerving on the usually animated face of their little brother.
“April, maybe you should stay behind.” Leonardo’s voice was even and quiet.
“What? But Leo—“ April stopped talking the minute she saw the look on Leonardo’s face. Tired and scared and calm all stitched into his face in such a subtle manner that to anyone other than family it would be inperceptible. Something was wrong, and Leonardo’s voice sounded so serious that April quickly forsaked her previous outrage for a gentle, “Yeah… right. Whatever you say Leo…”
She went back through the rift and left them. Leonardo turned his attention then to Raphael.
“Are you sure you’re okay to fight?”
“Y-yeah! Feeling better already.” Raphael tried to smile, but it was hard. “Are you alright Leo?”
“Yeah. Fine.” Leonardo sounded more like Donatello than like himself as he hovered over the edge of the ledge and looked down at the long drop beneath, vertigo spiraling in his mind though he hardly cared. “On your call, bud.”
“Leo…?” Michelangelo finally caught onto what was happening, sticking out his bottom lip as he eyed Leonardo with red eyes that burned like the sun. “Are you okay?”
Leonardo gave a weak laugh and smiled, his eyes looking to Michelangelo, and the box turtle could see tears trying to escape them. “Don’t you worry, Hermano. You’ll be just fine. I love you all so much.”
“Why does it sound like you’re saying goodbye…?”
Leonardo didn't answer.
Candy Coated 💝
Ichiban x Reader
A short about platonic love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The water on the stove still bubbled a bit so you quickly turned around and put the pan on a cold area of the stovetop. The sun was setting now so you flicked on the kitchen light. You didn't expect to spend this much time on this project, but looking at your accomplishment it was well worth it. They didn't look too horrible, definitely not professional, but they didn't look amateur either. You let out a small sigh of pride at your work.
A sudden knock at the door called you out of your messy work station so you wiped your hands on your cooking apron and went to see who it was. When you opened the door a bright red suit greeted you. A smile and a small wave came from the happy person.
You gave him a smile in return and responded.
“Hi Ichi, what are you doing here?”
You backed up and left the door open while walking back into your apartment, which was a routine invitation for him to come in and make himself comfortable. He shut the door with a soft click and after kicking off his shoes he made a beeline for your living room and flopped onto the couch.
“You don’t mind me visiting right?”
Even if you did mind he would probably show up anyway because he was bored.
He pushed his face into a pillow and still spoke even though his voice was muffled.
“I missed you and your comfy couch”
You puttered around collecting the dishes that were left and placed them in the sink, finally cleaning up everything from your cooking venture.
“I think you just missed my couch.”
He popped up from the couch and peeked over its back, he crossed his arms on top as he lazily laid his head on them.
“Not true! I missed you, today was a long day.”
He watched you take off your apron and hang it on a small hook by the pantry, and then his eyes drifted over to the counter where there was the white box containing the treats you had just made.
“Did you make something??”
He quickly jumped over the couch and walked towards the counter where your gift rested, you turned around right as he was about to open the box.
He quickly lifted his hands off of it and held them up to his chest. He looked at you like a mischievous pet who had just been caught. There was a heavy tension in the air as you both stared at each other.
“I made those for a special someone for Valentine’s tomorrow, so no peeking.”
He felt a little bit of jealousy involuntarily rise in him, who were you giving them to? You never mentioned any guy you were talking to, and most of your time was spent with him, Eri and Saeko. His brow furrowed as he looked at the box and kept thinking to himself. He wanted to know who this mystery person was. You watched his very apparent concern rise steadily and laughed a bit as he continued to be in deep thought, you decided not to torture him any further.
“That someone is you silly.”
He looked back at you with confusion and then excitement.
He placed his hands on the box in preparation for opening and looked at you expectantly, waiting for the go-ahead. A big smile was plastered on his face.
You gave him The Look.
His face fell and he threw his head back with a loud theatrical groan. But it sounded more like a halfhearted whine.
He shuffled away from the box and threw himself on the couch once more. The pouting would be over in about 2 minutes tops you guessed. But either way, you were already giving in as you grabbed the box when you passed by the counter.
When you rounded the couch he was laying face down in the cushions and his whole body covered the length of the couch. You sat on the coffee table across from him, waiting for a moment, but he didn’t move.
“Okay Ichi. Get up.”
He turned his head to look at you and then looked at the box in your hand. He was initiating his plan of persuasion with his puppy dog eyes.
“You don’t have to do that. You can open it today, I don’t mind.”
He situated himself so he sat cross-legged with his hands hidden in the center of his lap, like a child warming their hands. It was quiet as he looked at you patiently, so you handed over the gift.
The box sat in his lap as he carefully opened it. When he saw the contents he froze.
Inside rested three candy-coated strawberries, brightly colored in light blue, pink, and lime green. They each mimicked a dragon quest slime and had candy eyes with icing smiles. They sat in a bed of pink tissue paper surrounded by smaller chocolates that were cutely shaped into stars and hearts. He smiled brightly and you couldn't stop a huge smile from forming on your face after seeing his reaction.
“Do you like it?”
You smirked as you poked him with your finger a little to get his reaction, but you got worried when his brow furrowed and his smile turned into a small frown. He nodded as he looked up at you and tried to stifle his tears.
“Oh no, Ichi.”
You quickly stood up and sat next to him. Your arm went across his back and you squeezed him next to you in a sideways hug and then rubbed his back as you waited for him to regain words. His head rested on top of yours until he moved. He set the box aside and turned and grabbed you, you returned the hug and he squeezed so tightly you almost got winded. He finally responded when he pulled away.
“Thank you. I love it”
He sniffled a bit and wiped away the wetness on his cheeks with the back of his hand. He gave you another smile and spoke softly.
“I've never been given such a thoughtful gift. You didn't have to do this y/n.”
“What do you mean? Why wouldn't I do this for you? I love you.”
You gave him a genuine smile and he returned a sheepish one as you said it so bluntly, but he quickly realized it wasn't anything to be nervous about. True friendship isn't something that is easily obtained, but trust and love easily flows when honest emotion is there. Why should appreciation not be verbalized when opportunity allows it?
He let out a soft laugh and responded with
“I love you too.”
You moved and sat on top of your legs on the couch while facing him, outstretching your arms widely for a huge hug so he tackled you into one while you both laughed. He suddenly sat up and his eyes were wide with the look of a realization, you looked back at him mirroring his reaction.
“Wait a second.”
Your eyes darted from left to right and then back at him in question.
“I have to give you your gift too!!”
He scrambled to get up and once he was standing he fished around in his pocket to produce a small velvet pouch. He handed it to you proudly. It was very light in your hands but there was a small amount of weight you could feel within the pouch as you loosened the drawstrings. A thin golden bracelet fell out onto your palm and delicate heart was in the middle of it. As you observed it you noticed there were small digits thinly etched into the metal. A month and a year.
It was the month you both met.
“Now you never have an excuse if you forget our friendiversary.”
Ichiban seemed to puff out his chest with pride upon seeing your reaction so you laughed a bit and held it out to him so he could help you put it on.
The chain felt cool but it was comfortable as it rested on your skin. You questioned him as he latched the delicate chain on your wrist.
“A whole month?”
He gave you a serious look and voice to match.
The pause he left hanging in the air and the face he was making at you meant he was dead serious.
Another soft laugh from you made him regain his relaxed composure.
“Okay okay, I won’t forget.”
He smiled gratefully and began to move again.
Ichiban sat cross-legged on the couch again and reached for the box. He handed you a ‘slime’.
“Share these with me, buddy.”
You took it from him and took a nibble out of the strawberry. He ate the fruit whole and spoke with his mouth full.
“Theefs arw reawwy good y/n!”
You almost choked when you laughed at his puffed-out cheeks.
“Ichi please, close your mouth.”
You spent the evening sharing the confections while talking about everything and everything. He had mentioned a few times how he still had more gifts for you but you insisted you didn't need anything more than his company.
He visited you on Valentine’s day with flowers and your favorite food in tow. But you didn't see he had that for you until you shoved off the huge stuffed teddy bear that had attacked you.
I want that ~ Jay Halstead imagine for @blahblahblahblahhhhhhhhhhhhhh
I groaned as I pulled my hair up into a high ponytail, it was the middle of August and to say that Chicago was roasting was an understatement. Pulling a few strands of hair down to frame my face I jumped as a pair of arms wrapped themselves around my waist, a chuckle leaving their lips as they rested their head on my shoulder. I adjusted my skirt slightly trying to make sure that it was long enough for the small gathering that Adam and Kim were having to celebrate the birth of their little boy, who as far as I’m aware was still nameless.
“You look beautiful.” He winked in the mirror making me laugh and turn around in his arms, mine moving to rest on his shoulders, my fingers finding the hair on the bottom of his neck immediately.
“You don’t look so bad yourself.” I smiled up at him, getting lost in his sea blue eyes as I did everytime. Jay halstead, the love of my life and quite literally my knight in shinning armour.
We had met after I’d been taken hostage during a bank robbery, the two guys were apparently amateurs since they panicked as soon as they heard the sirens outside after the bank teller had pressed the panic button. They’d held a gun to my head and attempted to use me as a human shield so they could get to the car they had waiting, unfortunately for them the intelligence unit was one step ahead and had tackled them to the ground as they stepped out, one of them accidentally pulling me to the ground with them.
“You okay?” A flustered voice came from above me, my eyes adjusting and focusing on the gorgeous man above me, his blues eyes glistening as they ran over my body quickly checking for any injuries.
“Uh, yeah, yeah I’m fine.” I stuttered making him chuckle slightly before he stood up and held a hand out for me, easily pulling me to my feet.
He’d asked me for my number the next day after I had to sign a report about what had happened, and as they say, the rest was history.
Even though he was a few years older than me, him being thirty one while I was just twenty four, we worked and we worked pretty damn well if I do say so myself, we barely argued and when we did it was easily resolved.
“You ready?” Jay asked dragging me out of my thoughts.
“Yeah.” I nodded placing a quick peck to his lips. “Let’s go.” I pulled away and led the way out of our shared apartment.
“Hey! You made it!” Kim grinned as she opened her front door, pulling me into a hug. “Everyone’s already here, come on.” She smiled as she led the way through the house and to the backyard where intelligence, fifty-one and some doctors from med were enjoying themselves in the sun, the girls fawning over a tiny body in Adams arms.
“Oh Kim, he’s gorgeous.” I cooed as I smiled down at the tiny human, eyes wide as he took in everything happening around him.
“Wanna hold?” Adam asked with a small smile as he looked down at his son.
“Uh obviously.” I laughed as Adam manoeuvred the baby into my arms, his head resting in the crook of my arm while I swayed softly. “I didn’t come here to see your ugly ass.” I winked and laughed as he put a hand to his chest in mock offence as he backed away. “Has he got a name yet?” I asked looking up at Kim briefly before a small gurgle took my attention again.
“Adam Juniour, or AJ.” She smiled as she rubbed her sons head gently.
- Jay’s POV -
I couldn’t help but stare, as she stood there with Kim, the little baby in her arms as she swayed gently, small smile on her face.
“Hey man, beer?” Adam held a beer towards me snapping me from my thoughts. “You good?” He asked with a raised eyebrow before he turns to where I was looking. “It’s surreal man, knowing that he’s depending on me, that they both are.”
“You’re a lucky man.” I smiled at him before looking back at y/n, laughing as she spoke to Kim, looking down at the baby every few seconds.
“That could be you one day.” His words caught my attention, his eyes on y/n and Kim.
“She’s too young.” I mumbled shaking my head. “She’s got her whole life ahead of her, I don’t want to burden her like that.” I sighed shaking my head, it was true, no matter how much I wished it wasn’t.
“Have you spoke to her about it?” He asked turning and leaning on a table.
“What? No, not yet.” I replied shaking my head.
“Well then how do you know it’s not what she wants? She loves you man, and there’s what? Like six years between you?” “Seven.” I corrected making him roll his eyes with a laugh. “Okay, seven, that’s not a big deal.” He shrugged just as y/n’s loud laugh caught my attention, looking over I spotted her sat at a garden table with Kim and Sylvie, she still had the baby in her arms except now she was feeding him from a bottle.
“I’ll talk to her about it.” I nodded to myself.
- y/n POV -
“Hey.” I said quietly as I entered the Ruzek’s kitchen were Jay was stood leaning against the counter lost in a world of his own.
“Hi.” He smiled opening his arms for me, resting my head on his chest I let out a happy and content sigh. “Everything okay.” He asked as he placed a kiss on the top of my head.
“Yeah, I’m just tired.” I mumbled, everyone else had gone home about half hour ago, I opted to stay and help Kim out with the tidying before we left.
“I want a baby.”
Those four simple words made my head snap up to him, pulling away slightly I looked at him with wide eyes and an open mouth, gaping like a fish out of water.
“I know it’s out of the blue, I know you’re young and you’ve got your whole life to come but I love you, I really do and when I think about our future there’s always a baby, with your face, your y/h/c hair and your gorgeous eyes and seeing you with AJ today I just, I want that. We can get married and we’ll have family nights and go on holidays, we can go on family days out with Kim and Adam, our kids will be best friends and we’ll just be happy, plain and simple.” He rambled while looking anywhere but at me, missing the grin that was growing on my face.
“Jay.” I laughed slightly putting my hands on either side of his face so he would look at me. “You are the love of my life, there is nothing I want more than to have a family with you Jay Halstead.” I smiled as his eyes lit up. “But.” I said, his face dropping slightly. “If we’re gunna get married you’re going to have to propose first, you know that right?” I asked with a laugh as he shook his head.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to have you by my side till the end of time.” He whispered resting his forehead against mine.
“Come on then!” I grinned moving away, grabbing his hand and pulling him along with me, saying a quick goodbye to Adam and Kim as I continued to drag him to his truck.
“What’s the rush exactly?” He laughed as he climbed into the truck and buckled himself in.
“Well,” I sighed leaning over and resting my hand on his crotch. “There’s only one way to make a baby.” I winked.
“God, I love you.” He mumbled pulling me in for a quick yet passionate kiss.
“I love you too.” I laughed as he pulled away and sped away from the house.
eavesdrop ch 3: H/G (M)
A/N: For @fightfortherightsofhouseelves :) some hinny sultry times for you :)
FF and Ao3
@petals-to-fish here it is :)
Golden light cuts across the darkened bedroom in a shard. Of course, it finds Harry’s half-cracked eyes with sniper-like accuracy.
“Anyone alive in here?”
Harry groans and pushes up on his elbow, inhaling sharply as the movement tweaks his back. Mm, pizza. “You’re a goddess.”
Ginny chuckles, only half her face visible in the dark room. “I know, but it’s still nice to hear.”
He flops onto his back, spine popping, and throws one arm over his face. “Gonna bring that delicious package in here?”
She twists the small dresser lamp on and smirks at him, pizza box propped on her hip. “Not sure which of us I want you to mean.”
“While you decide, care to come a little closer?”
Smirking, Ginny sets down the six-pack of... something with a clatter and kicks off her trainers while Harry fumbles around for his glasses and pats the bed. “Get over here beautiful.”
“I hope that’s about me,” Ginny laughs, “But this really is a gorgeous pizza.”
Ginny crawls up the bed, holding the pizza box high while Harry works his way into a sitting position with much grunting, groaning, and joint-popping. “How was your day?”
“Eh, too much press, too little pitch time,” Ginny shrugs, popping open a Butterbeer for each of them. “Dare I ask about yours?”
Harry flicks the pizza box open and blushes. “Nothing exciting.”
“Oh, look at those little rosy cheeks,” Ginny teases, “Embarrassed about your latest heroics? Rescue some damsels?”
“Hardly,” Harry grumbles around a bite of pizza, “Since when is being Robards’ personal labor force in my job description?”
After swiping a slice of pepperoni from Harry’s pizza and popping it into her mouth, Ginny says, “I dunno, probably since you told Rita Skeeter to ‘fuck off’ on the record.”
“Someone had to say it,” Harry mumbles as he twists his slice to get at the crust. “I’m a protector of the public, it was my duty.”
“No complaints from me, dear. I have never found you sexier.”
By the time Harry polishes off his second slice and Ginny her third, they’re bellies are full and aching with laughter. Harry swipes at Ginny blindly. “No - no more Ron impressions. I’ll sick up right on you.”
“Be still my heart,” Ginny deadpans, wiping tears from her cheeks and pressing a smacking kiss to Harry’s cheek.
He can’t manage to tear his eyes away when she pulls back, her ponytail half gone, cheeks red with laughter, liner and mascara smudged into oblivion, and as soppy as it sounds, the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. In fact, if he said it to her, with all that build up, she’d probably punch his arm and ask when he got to be so lame .
It does sound lame though, to make it so simple, just her laughing with him over pizza being that thing that sparks amateur poetics. Particularly since it’s a whole myriad of things that make him love her. And most of the time it’s stupid things like her telling him off for being a moody git, or coming home with a new board game they just have to try only to discover it’s for children under four. Or that time it was a card game definitely not for children. That game’s main goal had been accomplished, though not in the way the creator’s might have envisioned considering they got three cards in before she tossed hers aside and tackled him to the rug.
He’d had to invent a few lies to cover those burns on his arse when Ron and the others spotted them in the locker room.
“Someone’s daydreaming,” Ginny says, prodding his cheek. Apparently she’s cleared the bed while he followed that mental rabbit trail and is now simply observing until he works his way back to reality. Or was, until she got bored.
“Sorry - does it help if it was about you?”
She eyes him up and down, “Depends how naughty it was.”
Harry’s retort dies on his lips when she rises on her knees and throws one leg over his lap, settling them into what’s been one of his favorite positions since he was sixteen. “Dessert time.”
“See, Gin, that is just so expected,” Harry says with a shake of his head, “Dessert is sex, predictable.”
Ginny blinks at him and finishes pulling her t-shirt overhead and tosses it aside. “Your girlfriend is in your lap - half naked might I add - and you’re calling her predictable .”
“I’m just saying, we can be creative,” Harry continues, his lips on her neck, “No need to fall into a rut.”
“Do I get credit for not making that a dirty joke?” Ginny asks, discarding his jumper.
His hands slip below her waistband. “I like your dirty jokes.”
She groans when he drags her hips against his; mouth skirting her collarbone. “So long as they’re creative.”
Ginny laughs and gets back to her knees to help him begin rolling the waistband of her purple tights down. “Style is important.”
Harry grunts and prods Ginny to flop backwards on the bed, crowding after her. “How ticked would you be if I tore them?”
“Buy me new ones?”
“Anything to keep you satisfied, dear,” Harry mutters against her midriff, nipping at her hip bone.
The seam rips unevenly and gives a bit of a fight at the waist itself, but Harry’s nothing if not determined, so he eventually gets to rolling the legs down past her knees and beyond, pressing kisses on each inch of exposed skin.
He nuzzles her ankle and Ginny droops back on the bed. “What’s - ah - the sudden concern for our excitement levels.”
Harry inwardly steels himself and props his chin on Ginny’s sternum, her hands finding his hair like it’s habit. And really, it is. “Well, I plan on us staying together as long as you’ll agree,” he flounders and Ginny pushes up on her elbows, watching, waiting.
“I - hell this was supposed to be cheeky and I was going to tease you about keeping each other excited,” Harry blurts, “But now with you in front of me, giving me that look, I can’t imagine ever being bored of you - god I hope you think the same.”
Her mouth ticks up in a half smile, soft and fond even as she teases, “You’re such a sop.”
As a sigh leaves his lips, Harry lets his head fall to her stomach, only for Ginny to tug at his hair. “There’s nothing wrong with a bit of soppiness every once in a while.”
He kisses a freckle just under her rib cage, nuzzles the band of her bra. “Your fault.”
Ginny laughs and tries to pull him up, but he works his way back down, slipping the button of her jean skirt open and dragging it down her bare legs. “And there’s just one way I can think to punish you.”
Harry’s teeth tug at her knickers, snapping the elastic just enough to sting her soft skin. “What about that little idea you skirted around - the whole center of that soppy rant?”
“I find it best to soften the suspect before the important questions,” Harry murmurs as he drags her legs over his shoulders and nuzzles closer, his breath warm and torturous against her now bare lower half.
And then his mouth is too occupied for more witticisms and Ginny’s barely able to string together the mix of swearing and praises that fall from her lips as she presses him closer to her. As he slowly brings her to the edge, her back arches and he’s sure she can feel his smirk as he lets off just too soon.
“I may kill you.”
He nips at her inner thigh. “Not yet you won’t.”
Her chest rises and falls with her unsteady breaths. “Why’s that?”
“You know how good it’ll be when I do follow through.”
Ginny curses him, even as he resumes his work, even as he praises her for the noises she makes, the way she feels, smells, tastes, and soon she’s blasted over the precipice in a rush, any semblance of coherent chatter lost as her shout echoes against the walls.
Gently, he places her legs back on the bed and slips up until his mouth meets hers, moaning as her tongue sweeps between his lips. “Gin.”
She doesn’t answer so he pulls away, nudging her nose with his. “Gin?”
“I want to say I’ve gone boneless, but I also don’t want to make you feel too self important.”
Backing away further, Harry frowns, full of mischief, “Should I go?”
Ginny’s leg locks around his hips and drags him forward so forcefully he almost knocks their heads together. “No. You should get these trousers off and have your way with me.”
After a muffled hmph in response, Harry manages to make enough space between them to assist as Ginny rather violently wrestles his trousers and pants off. “I believe it’s usually you having your way with me.”
She moans as he drags his hips over hers, almost but not quite exactly where she’d like. “Not if you do that thing - ”
Her eyes are dark, pupils blown wide, and Harry can’t really find a reason to say no , so he bites at her neck and lets his hands run down her arms briskly. His voice is a rough whisper in her ear. “Whatever you say, dear.”
As he alternates nips and swipes of his tongue along her dewy skin, Harry grasps Ginny’s wrists and drags them overhead, pinning her arms to the sheets. “Stay.”
Ginny quirks her brow and wraps her fingers around the spokes of the headboard,
As if he’s ever the one in charge .
On the way back down, Harry lets his hands grasp at her hair, tugging just enough that her neck arches so he can run his lips over the exposed skin and further. Her chest rises automatically, bringing her closer to his adoring mouth, even as her groans and sighs have him pressing his body into the mattress.
She looks almost drunk when she turns her gaze back to him, eyes heavy lidded, smirk barely there. “Don’t waste all that fun on some bedsprings.”
Harry works his way over to the other side of her chest, teasing her with the drag of his tongue. His voice is a rasp. “I believe I’m in charge.”
“Not for much longer if - ah - Ah ,” Ginny’s ultimatum dies as he lifts her hips and brings them together, her arms going taught over her head while her knuckles turn white.
The springs creak beneath them as their bodies move together in tandem, the bedframe skittering along the floor with each renewed push.
One hand remains in place, dragging her into him, while the other caresses her cheek, cups her neck, and slowly meanders down her chest, looping and swirling over the patterns of freckles that decorate her skin.
The headboard clatters against the wall, and Harry groans. “Ginny.”
“Yes - Harry.”
“Am I - shit - is it really up to me?”
Ginny pulls his hips in with one leg, lifting hers at upward just as he dives in. “ Yes .”
“Shit,” Harry grunts again, “Good.”
And then he’s tipping forward, her soft front against his sweat damp chest while his arms come to bracket her head and his movements become more frantic. The neighbors will not be happy.
“Please - ”
She groans against his throat, “Please what?”
“Use your hands - oh hell .”
Apparently, he’s convincing, because soom her hands are everywhere - pushing him in closer, tugging his overgrown hair, teasing the trembling muscles of his arms as he shifts to prod her over the edge once more before he falls too.
His mouth wanders, licking, sucking, biting, and finally she shouts, murmuring encouragement for him to follow.
And he does after one two - three .
He collapses against her, treasuring the thud thud thud of her heart against his chest, the feel of her breaths as they rise and fall, but he can only press her into the mattress so long. As Harry rolls to the side, Ginny follows, keeping their bodies entwined.
“Exciting enough, Potter?”
And Harry’s brain is operating on half capacity, so he’s beyond witty repartee, beyond thinking things over any more, and even if he wasn’t - Ginny Weasley is looking at him like he’s the best thing she’s ever seen and he’d be an idiot to let another moment pass.
She hums and nods against his chest. “Marry me?”
He chuckles as she begins to drift off. “Name the place.”
Jupiter’s Top 10 Fic Series of the Decade
In no particular order (and belonging to no particular fandom)
Honourable Mentions: Of Hunters & Hellblazers by KittyAug - Self Help by maskedfangirl - Bad Jokes by hahaharley - Doubtful Sanity by DustToDust - Wilton’s Bakery ‘Verse by machine_dove & sproings - Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc by etothepii - New Favourite F Word by Polaris - little beasts by noctiphany & likewinning
drawn into something by Nonymos (Venom, Eddie/Venom, Dan/Anne, Eddie/Venom/Dan/Anne)
“Eddie, you… and him.”
“Yeah.” Eddie stares at the floor. “And… and look, Annie, I know it’s weird, but I can explain, I…”
His voice breaks, he’s damn near tearing up, panic rising again—and he jumps when Anne cups his face.
“Hey, it’s—it’s all right, Eddie.” She’s making a valiant effort to smile. “Don’t get so worked up. I’m not gonna run screaming.”
“No?” He laughs and sniffs. “Damn. Starting to wonder what it’s gonna take, at this point.”
This is not Nonymos’s only entry on this list. In fact they may just be my favourite fanfic author of all time. Drawn into something is everything everything I want from a Venom sequel, emotional, kinky, romantic, and poly.
OTP: Fight Club by MorganOfTheFey (Detroit: Become Human, RK900/Gavin)
"One hundred. Ten X," Nines says, voice flat enough it almost doesn't sound like bragging. "I would have been decommissioned otherwise."
"Ohhhh. Aw, that's sad. Just," She tries to snap her fingers and gets distracted for a moment when she can't. "Jus'like that?"
"Yeah RK, that's so sad," Gavin echoes. "Can you play yourself despacito?"
His own phone blares the song barely a second later. Gavin drops a few f-bombs fumbling to get it out of his jacket pocket and turn it off. Then as soon as he puts it back in his pocket, it starts up again.
"Thank you for the suggestion, detective," RK900 says. "This is making me feel better."
The fourth part of this is still coming out, and it’s the highlight of my week when the new chapter drops.
Dreams of the Waking Man by Lex_Munroe (Marvel Comics, Wade/Cable, Daken/Bullseye, Wade & Hope)
All at once, it hurts. It hurts worse than the day Nate died (because Wade couldn’t accept it back then, insisted that Nate had managed to timeslide out, that the busted old telemetry circuit would only let him go forward and he was just lost for a little while).
He sits in the middle of the floor, ducks his head, cries.
She was smarter than he was—than he is. She’d known all along. Brave girl.
Timesliding doesn’t work right on Wade, never has, and their cobbled-together sliding module barely had power to take one stringy teenager for one jump.
She’d known she was leaving her parents, that she certainly wouldn’t see one of them again and quite possibly wouldn’t see the other.
Wade allows himself a moment more for grief and shame and humility. Then he clears his throat and wipes his eyes and gets back to work.
This may be the cleverest fic I’ve ever read. Crossovers, theoretical physics, and the best love story Marvel never wrote.
The Mountains Are The Same by bonehandledknife & Primarybufferpanel (Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa/Max, Furiosa/Ace, Everyone & Healthy Coping Mechanisms)
“'Real isn’t how you are made’” Gilly said with the air of a quote, of a Remembering, “'It’s a thing that happens to you.’”
Rotor closed his eyes in a long blink, “A thing that hurts, innit it right?”
“Sometimes,” Gilly agreed, squeezing his hand, “That’s life though, when you are Real. We all become it bit by bit. But it doesn’t happen if you’re not strong, if you’re not soft, if you’re not sturdy.”
“ But how can y'be all of those at once ?” he wheezed out. It’s getting hard to catch his breath.
“You are all that right now, aren’t you?” Gilly asked him with piercing eyes, “No one else of all these Boys has had the strength to ask for me. And I will Witness you as I have kept all those of my sisters who’ve fallen these past days.”
This series is not always easy, it doesn’t shy away from the hard or the dark or the painful, but it is always worth reading.
The Unspoken Truth by Nonymos (MCU, Clint/Loki)
Barton glared at him like he was trying to decide whether he was being mocked or not, but the next second, his shoulders slumped. Loki was familiar with the feeling – that dreadful feeling of discovering something repulsive in one's own nature.
And then, he waited. He waited for Barton to think and connect the dots, to realize that an obvious solution was standing just before him, to remember how he had felt when waking up tied down, or being forced to drink down the water. The demi-god just stood there, hoping – almost praying for the first time in his life – that his enemy would look up at him with something else than hatred in his eyes.
No one writes kink quite like Nonymos writes kink, and this series is the perfect encapsulation of that.
The Stone Gryphon by rthstewart (Narnia, primarily Gen)
"Tools!" Richard was so shocked he was near speechless. He sat down heavily on the bench and began writing frantically in that strange code. "You are saying that you have observed ordinary crows use tools? Peter, that is… remarkable."
"Well, I've seen Beavers use fishing tackle and sewing machines, so it didn't seem that unusual at the time."
I’m not going to lie, this may not be to everyone’s taste. But, amateur theologian, lover of weird animal facts, and history nerd that I am, there are very few fics more exactly tailored to my interests.
Republic of Heaven Community Radio by ErinPtah (WtNV x His Dark Materials, Cecil/Carlos)
The greeting catches both her and Carlos off-guard. It's not wrong to talk directly to another person's daemon, but it's still a little weird. "Likewise," she stammers.
They're both waiting for the obvious next step, which is for Cecil to introduce his daemon. The fact that Carlos hasn't spotted her yet is understandable — a big community gathering in a small space, you get plenty of daemons breaking away from their humans to socialize directly with each other. Any of the dozen animal shapes currently within ten feet of them could be Cecil's. If his daemon has an unusually high range, there are even more possibilities.
What Cecil says instead is, "If you ever have any important experimental-theology news that you need to share with the town, call me any time! Everyone listens to my show." There's a touch of what Carlos hopes is nothing more sinister than smugness when he adds, "Everyone."
He steps out of the way to let someone else interrogate Carlos, and vanishes into the crowd. Carlos doesn't get a chance to see what daemon he leaves with.
This may be the most carefully thought out crossover I’ve ever read, and I’m a little in awe of ErinPtah’s skills.
The Soul in the Machine by missdreawrites & Troodon (Dishonoured, Corvo/Outsider)
“... Outsider?” Corvo asked, sitting down on the filthy floor. “In the published list of the people who died of the Plague… how many were registered Augments?”
<There have been a total of 231 dead in the past year. Of that group, 100% were Augmented individuals. This number has increased exponentially under Hiram Burrows’ “The Boldest Moves Are The Safest” law, allowing the execution of any individual infected by the Plague.>
“Son of a bitch, ” Corvo swore with feeling. “This is… look at this waste. We aren't even people to them, are we?” He looked down at the body next to him. “And I killed the one person who could help. I did this. I doomed an entire people to plague, and murder and…”
The cyberpunk Dishonoured AU I desperately wish I’d thought of, because it works so very well.
In Which Tony Stark Builds Himself Some Friends (But His Family Was Assigned by Nick Fury) by scifigrl47 (MCU, Steve/Tony)
“Do you know what the difference between a villain and a super villain is, Stark?” Coulson said, leaning his palms on the tabletop, looming over everything like a very snappily dressed gargoyle.
“Style?” Tony asked, pointing both index fingers in Coulson's direction like the gunslinger that he was. He added a wide grin to the gesture, but Coulson didn't seem to notice.
“A villain has a giant mass of robotic vacuum cleaners that he can sic on his enemies. A super villain gives them the ability to fly.”
“In my defense, I do not actually remember installing repulsor technology in the Roombas,” Tony said, choosing his words carefully. It had been a working theory, sure, but he still wasn't quite sure when he implemented it. Maybe sometime on Tuesday night... That one was a blur. “It was a very long couple of days. So I was as surprised by that as everyone else.”
This doesn’t really count as a rec, since everyone in the fandom has read it already, but it really wouldn’t be fair to draw up a ‘best of the 2010s’ list and not include this.
A Great and Gruesome Height by mokuyoubi (Hannibal, Will/Hannibal)
Bedelia lashes out but Will is quicker. He grabs her wrist, pressing hard between the delicate bones with his thumb, until she makes a soft noise of distress and drops the fork.
Hannibal purses his lips and leans in close to her ear. “Now that is disappointing,” he whispers, and Bedelia has the good sense to be afraid with that mouth so near her skin. He inhales her scent deeply and straightens. “I thought you and I were beyond such petty jabs.”
“Were it not for the fact that you required medical attention, I have no doubt I would have met a similarly crass ending at the hands of your pet,” she says, lip curling in disgust.
Hannibal smiles serenely and says, “Will is a creature entirely of his own making. It is not to me to guide his hand. Merely to share in the sublime perfection of his vision, when he allows it.”
There are many dark!Will stories out there, and most of them are a lot of fun, but few are quite at believable as this one.
Fishing Charters for the Deep Sea
Deep sea fishing is considered a sport where in search of a catch, amateur or experienced fishermen embark on the deepest sections of the ocean. The deep sea-related forms of fish are those that exist below what is referred to as the ocean's 'photic zone.' Some of the oddest animals are known to live in the deep oceans. Just as interesting are the names assigned to these species, including the lantern fish, cookie cutter shark, anglerfish, and flashlight fish.
When diving in the deep sea, you should note that during your travels there are many endangered species of fish to stop. Fish like the spiny eel and the onion-eye grenadier are nearing extinction because of the high rate of commercial fishing.
What is a Charter for Deep Water Fishing?
Deep sea fishing charters are boats owned by a corporation or individual who will take visitors to the water for a fishing trip that they will never forget. The kind of fish you can hope to capture varies based on the time of year. If this is of interest to you it is advised to review the calendars for the region where you choose to participate in deep sea fishing. Also, check about Cheap Fishing Charter Seychelles.
You will determine whether you want to bottom fish or troll while traveling in a deep sea fishing charter. Both alternatives are picked occasionally. Deep sea fishing charters will pull close to the reef if trolling does not seem to yield the results you had hoped for and let you have your way with the fish in that area. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word, trolling means that when slowly moving the boat, you throw a baited line in the water and wait for fish to catch on.
You should be mindful of where they live if you get your eyes focused on capturing a single fish. This means that to reach your goal, you will have to fly quite a lot to hire a deep sea fishing charter. There are charters for deep water fishing based all over the world.
Popular Options & Locations for Deep Sea Fishing Charters
There are charters for deep sea fishing available in a wide variety of locations around the United States, as well as around the world. Around the Florida region, such as Pensacola, Key Largo, Key West, and Tampa Bay, some of the more famous deep sea fishing charters have been created. In Biloxi, Mississippi; New Jersey; New Hampshire; Hawaii; Charleston, South Carolina; Orange Beach, Alabama; Cape Cod; British Columbia; and the Gulf of Mexico, additional deep sea fishing opportunities are open. More tropical deep sea fishing destinations include Phuket, Mexico, and the Bahamas.
Fishing for a whole day, which is around 8 hours of fun, could be an instance of a deep sea fishing charter. Typically, departure times commence at 7:30 in the morning. 6-hour charters and 3-hour options are often open. There is a deep sea fishing charter in the Florida Keys that provides swordfish tours, where guests depart the dock at 3 pm and arrive about 4:00 am. For this option, the going rate is close to $1300. Deep water fishing opportunities are also available from sunrise to sunset.
There are deep sea fishing charters in Cancun which provide all-inclusive packages. When searching for Kingfish, Barracuda, Tuna, Wahoo and Blue Marlin, you can rest assured knowing that with one kit cost, you have obtained a boat captain, crew, fishing tackle, bait, beer, soda, water, a fishing license, as well as port charges and taxes. Bear in mind, it is polite to tip the crew after a fun deep sea fishing journey.
King Falls AM - Episode Three: Catch And Release
View on Google Docs
Summary: June 1, 2015 - Sammy & Ben are live at Lake Hatchenhaw for the 55th Annual King Falls Bass Tournament with special guest Mayor Grisham.
[Podcast intro music]
[heavy southern accent] Howdy y’all! It’s Randy McMullet from McMullet’s International Palace of Snake Skin Boots and I’m here to tell you we got some slithery savings this weekend! So much savings you’ll have a hissy fit! We’re not holdin’ anything back ‘cause it’s that time of year again! It’s our annual Snake Skin Blowout! I’m talkin’ ‘bout rattlesnake, copperhead, viper, black mamba, and boa constrictor. We got big snake boots at baby snake prices! Ya better hurry though before our inventory is extinct! So come on down to McMullet’s International Palace of Snake Skin Boots! We’ll be there from sun up to sun down this Saturday and Sunday at the corner of Route 72 and ol’ Bombin’ Range Road! McMullet’s International Palace of Snake Skin Boots! Where we fill your boots, with savin’s!
[Banjo music fades out]
[KFAM rock intro music]
Good morning! You’re listening to King Falls AM, that’s 660 on the radio dial. It’s twelve minutes to six and a beautiful 67 degrees out here at Lake Hatchenhaw.
We are mere minutes away from the starter pistol going off signaling the beginning of the 55th annual King Falls Bass Tournament.
Ben! I couldn’t have said that better myself, you’re a natural!
[“aw shucks”] Whatever, Sammy.
But you heard it, kids! The tournament’s about to get under way, but the festivities will be happening all day today. Be sure to swing on by the King Falls AM booth, pick up a bumper sticker, say hi to your favorite personalities, that sort of thing.
And, of course, don’t forget to tweet us your pics today @KingFallsAM or Instagram us with the hashtag kingfalls, and we will repost those bad boys.
Absolutely, Ben. But just because this show is winding down, doesn’t mean we’re going to sleep on you! We’ve got a guest!
We’re here with Ron Begley, of Begley’s Bait and Tackle. Sponsor of today’s outing.
[note: Ron’s voice can generally be described as “gruff”, any descriptors in transcription are more-so]
[gruffly] Watch it, Ben. Outing is a big word. This is a gathering.
Hey, nice to meet ya, Ron!
[sweetly] Nice meetin’ you too, Sammy! And always good to see you, Ben.
Now, Ron. For all the listeners on the fence about making their way down to the Tourney today, what would you tell ‘em to change their minds?
Ah hell, if they aren’t here now, they ain’t coming.
[harshly] Don’t use ten dollar words when a five dollar word will suffice, Ben. If the lazy bastards aren’t up an’ at em and waiting on Mayor Grisham to fire that pistol, then there ain’t no convincing them otherwise.
Well, you know what- We’ve got quite the turn out here it seems, so uh, maybe everybody made it down?
[aggressively] I’ll give you fifty damn bucks if you show me Shell Snyder’s fat ass at this lake right now!
Uhhh, I’m sure-
I saw that lazy son of a bitch at the town hidey-hole last night, and I know he hasn’t drug his carcass outta bed.
You want something that’ll put some asses in the seats? I’ll give you somethin’ and this one’s for free. Today we got the fishing tournament, we got the bouncy house for the kiddies, we got that weird food truck that nobody ever eats at but it still shows up to all the King Falls events,
[teasing] And you know where I’m going, Ben. And just last week out by the sunken pontoon boats… We had a sighting!
By the BOATS? That is so close.
Alright guys. You got me. What did we see?
Why, the Lake Hatchenhaw monster, Sammy!
Why the hell didn’t you Wikipedia-Google-book this town before you moved your sweet ass to it?! Everybody in creation knows about the Lake Hatchenhaw monster!
Alright, *chuckles* I’m sorry. Uhhh, I don’t mean to be rude, Ron, but you’re talking about your own version of the Loch—
Don’t. Say it. Don’t even think it! That fake sh[bleep]show of a lake monster has nothin’ on Kingsie.
You’ll have to pardon Sammy. He doesn’t believe in the extra-ordinary.
[softly for Ron] What a sad life you must live, Samuel.
So, Ron. This will be the fifth sighting this year, is that correct?
[happy/proud] Fifth this year! She’s been a busy one. Since I took over this shop from my dad, I don’t know that we ever got Kingsie more than twice a year.
Well, ya heard it here ladies and gents. Uh, If tournament, the bouncy house, and the weird food truck don’t get you down— Kingsie will.
That’s the spirit!
*chuckles* Okay, about the tournament, Ron. What exactly is on the line here? Wha-Whats the prize today?
Same as every year, Sammy! Brand new bass boat with all the fixin’s and a 500 dollar check from the King Falls Chamber of Commerce.
That is a hell of a prize! I might just put the mic down and have a go myself, guys!
More than welcome! [gruffly] But you better bring Ben along so you don’t end up as a “fictional lake monster”’s din-din.
*sighs* I’d love to be out on that lake today! Nothing like it!
Ron Begley, everyone. Uh, Ron, thanks for dropping by and adding some color to the end of our broadcast today!
[quiet and angry] Is that a gay joke, Sammy?
Uh, I-I’m sorry, what?
Ron, not. At all.
[threateningly] I’m not going to come on this show, and have you talkin’ trash. I’m the only soul brave enough in this town to own my identity and I’m not going to take any flack about it—
Ron. Ron. No harm was intended. I-I didn’t even know.
[angry, almost shouting] Well now you do so watch your mouth! I like f[bleep]in’ and I like fightin’ and I’m completely sure you don’t want any part of either!
I-I Ron. *nervous laugh* I mean—
[pleasantly] I’m just jerkin’ your chain, Sammy! Keep up the good work, guys!
*Laughing loudly* Oh, you should see your face!
Thanks, Ben. Uh—
*Slurred* Heyy Ben! What up duuude?
Heyy, uh, Matt! Uhhh. We’re-we’re kinda live here, buddy.
Riiight on! … maintain brah…
Oh, no worries, bro.
Uh, uh- alright folks! You’ll never believe who we’ve got heading this way! The man of the hour, the man with all the power… Mayor Grisham.
Mayor Grisham. Thanks so much for taking some time out to talk with us today!
Oh, I’ve been wanting to! Believe me. But you boys are on so darn early! I just can’t drag myself out of the bed.
However, my assistant, Riley, transcribes every show for me. Seems like you’re doing a great job. The both of you.
Oh! Thanks so much, Mayor Grisham!
You got it, Ben! Hey, how’s your mom doing these days?
Great! She’ll be thrilled that you mentioned her!
Least I can do.
Now, Mayor Grisham, you’re joining us today because in just a few short minutes we’re gonna be kicking off the 55th annual King Falls Bass Tournament—
Absolutely! It’s one of the perks of the job that makes it all worthwhile. I mean, who could turn down a beautiful morning on the lake, with all the people of King Falls?
So, do you ever partake in the tournament yourself?
*chuckles* I wouldn’t want to put the King Falls residents to shame! I’m quite an avid outdoorsman.
Well, it’s nice of you to give everybody a sporting chance.
Now, before we let you go- and believe me I hate to break down the mood —
Oh, *chuckles nervously* well I-I was just gonna ask if you had heard any recent news regarding…
Sammy. Another time and another place.
Well, Mayor Grisham. [floundering] We here, we—
That’s all at this time. Thanks for having me. Have your people call Riley and we’ll schedule something soon, Sam.
[confused and irritated] Heh… Okaay?
What is he- he- can’t- we’re supposed to be here for another three minutes, Sammy.
*unamused laugh* It’s fine, Ben, uh- it’s not your fault.
Well, no. You ran him off, *scoffs* [growing frantic] buuut he was supposed to stay with us until we went live! with the opening ceremonies!
Hey, hey. It’s okay.
[worked up] I’m going to fix this. Uh- I got it!
Ben-Be- Well. That was Ben just leaving in a full sprint, kids. Uh, seems it’s just you and me now, uh, and the mayor’s assistant, recording our every word.
Voice in distance
*groans* Okay, so we’re about four minutes away from the top of the hour, and the tournament getting started. Uh, we’d like to wish all the participants today the best of luck, break legs, uh, you know catch fish, wh-what have you. Uh, watch out for Kingsie, obviousl—
I got it! I got it! I’m back!
Oh, Ben’s back ladies and gents! And he has a friend!
Sammy, King Falls, this is Mr. Herschel Baumgartner. Winner of last year’s tournament! How you doing today, Mr. Baumgartner?
Good, Benny. Real good. Just ready to get my spot and giveitago this year. Uh, you know it’s about to start, right boys?
So, Herschel, you won the actual tournament last year, is that correct?
Oh, you bet I did! Won it back in ‘92, and ‘89 as well. But don’t go askin’ for tips now, son. Now if you excuse me—
Oh wow! So you are a three time winner of the King Falls Bass Tournament lookin’ for big number four this morning!
[sarcastic] Huh, Big City can count. We’re T-minus three minutes here, boys. If you don’t have anything pressing…
Uh, for the listeners, Mr. Baumgartner, wha-what would you say is, is, is, the-the most important part—
[suspiciously] Who put you up to this? Was it Cecil? [grumbling] Amateur, usurpin’ so-and-so-
No! We-we just needed to fill some time.*nervous laugh*
You’re going to pull me out of my boat to fill time? You are a DUMB son of a b[bleep]!
[warning] Hey now!
Don’t you dad-voice me, son. I’ll put a boot rrright up your ass, just like I did those Krauts back in WWII! [said “dubya-dubya two”]
[harshly] You know what? Great talking to you Herschel.
[grumbling] New-fangled radio bums, looking for a hand-out. I ain’t givin’ ya no tips! No spots, no tricks o’ the trade! How I flick my wrist [fades out as he walks away]
[woman screams in bg]
Was… that a scream?
[laughing dismissively] I’m sure it was just someone seeing Mr. Baumgartner’s lovely personality.
I think something might be up, Sammy. Seriously.
Uh, ladies and gentlemen, as always, we thank you for tuning in with us here at King Falls AM. We’re about to go live with the opening ceremonies at the 55th annual-
[another, longer scream. Someone in the bg yells “There’s a body in the lake!” followed by sounds of an agitated crowd and a lot of people screaming]
Folks, stay with us! It seems that a body has just surfaced here at Lake Hatchenhaw! Come on, Ben!
[incredulously] We’re going there?
Cronkite. Brokaw. Ben Arnold.
[Deputy Troy yells incomprehensibly through a megaphone.]
Alright, we’re on the dock. [aside] if we could just push past— There’s the mayor! Right there!
[through a megaphone] Everybody please stay calm!
[quiet,worried] What if it’s Tim?
Mayor Grisham! Can you confirm that there is a body here—
[still through the megaphone] Sorry boys. I don’t want to, but the Mayor’s going to cut—
[audio cuts to static]
 Kraut - a derogatory term for a German, especially a German soldier, during WWI and WWII
Shallow mood-snippets on that damsel-rescue trope, post-Endgame AU with Tony alive. Life after adopting a tortured Loki.
mildly Frostiron fluff ~ T+ ~ 2,700 words ~ incomplete
Even after playing paper football with a blue alien cyborg, 3D chess with a genocidal god was not among his long term plans. Then again, he was kind of renowned for his spur-of-the-moment plotting, so the Universe didn’t manage to catch him off guard with it. Not even when he lost every single game. He kept a good face for it. He took away from it what he delved in for anyway: data.
FRIDAY was present in this safehouse as well, monitoring the brain activity, amongst all, of the sorcerer. Or ex-sorcerer, possibly sorcerer-on-a-break-from-magic, given that he was unable or unwilling to produce a spark of the impressive unexplainable shit he showed off with back in 2012. Tony was in the middle of a lengthy project: exploring the change (damage, to be crudely exact) these New Asgardians had done to their local devil.
He had detected the trickster during one of his virtual trips among SHIELD’s ultra-private guardian satellites that were overlooking that particular snippet of land Thor’s people were huddled upon; and the nosy twat he was, he soon learned about the inhuman circumstances of the prisoner’s keeping. That was a suicidal move, since he’d have suffocated if he had stayed put from then on. He infiltrated the still developing land without much hassle and rescued the sinner from his well earned penitence, not to distort justice but to stop a living being from such abasement. Then he sent an obscure goodbye to his wife and baby daughter, and he hid away with the shell of Loki for an unspecified length of time, until he evaluated his freshly made decisions and got over what an idiot he was.
As observed through the satellite records and the signs personally noted, Loki had appeared in New Asgard two years after Thor had left Earth with his new pals, the A-holes of the Galaxy. Little did he know, apparently, that his good old people were waiting specifically for said target to show himself. It took no longer than half a day for them to lure the distrusting god into their trap, which, Tony derived, must have been the filthiest one ever set around here. Some friendly meekness flashed, telltale signs of an amateur organisation scattered, they had the sorcerer practically walk into their arms trusting his so-called silver tongue or his ambitions or whatever.
(SHIELD had been watching. Did they let it happen for diplomatic reasons? Did they deem it satisfactory punishment in their place? Did they command the homeless god-wannabes to destroy their own kin? Was it blackmailing or bribing?) (Questions in brackets: things Tony did not acknowledge and delve into, unless he wanted to destroy himself along with his loved ones, or simply go mad. Brackets were strategic avoidance, a fence with crimson self reminders yelling keep out, moron.)
Since the formerly imprisoned god’s arrival, they had managed to seal that silver tongue entirely back into Loki’s mind. They were highly efficient at presenting him to the greatest fears and weaknesses fished out from his nightmares with some shamanistic ballyhoo.
Tony found the hidden chambers in an underground dungeon carved out by the relentless hands of these newcomers, lit by crystalline torches whose light only Tony could see because Loki was blindfolded. His ears plugged. Body bare and freshly scarred, hair trimmed to curled stubble. His swollen limbs floating mid-air, captive to cruel bondages, genitals and anus capped, plugged with tubes leading into the ceiling. His mouth gagged by another one. A strap holding two small disks on each side of the Adam’s apple. Tony had felt his heart and stomach crowd up in his throat at the sight and craved to turn away, to lessen the indignity; but he needed to take in every detail to be able to free the (mass of flesh) without further harm. He’d brought along no allies with himself, as usual.
The silence, the slackness of the body should have alerted him already while he, in the Ironsuit, lifted it off the distasteful hooks that held it up for the public’s service (see the cushioned seats and ornamented tables around); but he settled with relishing the even, listless trembling of the muscles and the arrhythmical, hoarse breathing of the scarred throat as signs of life. He didn’t have much time before he‘d be discovered and overpowered, he had to leave with his loot immediately.
The records dated back to half a decade ago, and Tony wished now that he had been less on his good behaviour and found out earlier. He had no idea why he felt guilty, really. Not even Friday could answer him this.
As mentioned, he couldn’t have breathed without doing what he felt right against the less attended shadowy bits of the Universe, and during the first period of this elopement, he was actually suffocating, despising each atom of stupid inside himself. He was tending to a body with a snippet of life awkwardly trapped in, muscles ceaselessly tugged at by some neural stress he and Friday couldn’t find the base of; none of Earth’s virtual libraries had answers, not even on the esoteric bullshit-shelves. It resembled the fine tremor of fear, but it didn’t show on the languid facial expression and it would never stop. It made spoon feeding difficult, and sleep impossible. The trickster broke Tony’s record awake time at the first run.
Loki healed rapidly from the scars, and he perceived his surroundings, but he was cocooned in a thick wall of disinterest. And Tony was choking in place of the human race, and went on in the single-storey, two-bedroom wooden cottage in the middle of a bird-ridden forest, his dark eyes lit with a peculiar light in (exhaustion) his passion for outplaying magic. If any.
He never found out before the problem solved itself – either the supposed spell wore off, or the god caught up with the events, possibly his mood changed. Tony was habitually sharing his wit about the silly T-shirt he laid by the bed for Loki’s later use. His startled jump was a moment late compared to the trickster’s, who suddenly shuddered and attempted to back up into the wall on his elbows, a groan or a moan stuck deep in his throat.
“Whoa, that’s some entry,” formed the billionaire’s exhale, which probably went unheard: the teal eyes (glowing faintly in the shutter-dimmed room like the sunlit ocean) were fixed on the Ironsuit cosily sitting in the opposite corner’s armchair.
Loki rose cautiously like the slightest breeze could have woken the beast. Or triggered a defensive mechanism, to stay on a realistic ground.
“He’s okay,” Tony informed him from the side. “He’s friendly now. I’m here. That guy is sleeping, see?” He waved with an arm to catch the scattering attention and only spoke again when Loki proceeded to take him in from head to toe. “I’m here to help you. Remember me?”
The trembling ceased gradually from then on, it faded out of the god’s posture. He remained inside his head for most of the time, however, looking at the billionaire distantly like he was made of glass.
Tony suspected and soon experienced that it helped if he had a routine – if they had a routine. It made Loki responsive, if only as much as Dum-E, bless his resting soul, minus the mistakes. He comprehended rules of games, for example, and though those brain graphs didn’t detect enjoyment in them, the thought processes were there: he understood speech, he remembered, he obeyed suggestions; at least on the outside.
His inability to fall asleep remained, for example, even though he did such biddings of Tony without a counterargument, like his lagging presence in the world didn’t leave him any other choices. Each time he was advised to try taking a nap, regardless of the time of the day, he spent several hours lying on the bed or couch appointed for him, breathing in heightened alertness, his body motionless but mind wakeful, revealed by the brain functions recorded without his knowledge. Well, at least he tried.
If he did fall into some exhausted coma, the buzzing of a fly could stir him up in the roughest manner. He was clearly a species that needed sleep, though, Tony could recognise dark circles of insomnia well enough. He had yet to tackle that problem for the sorcerer-on-a-break.
Whatever these god guys were doing with their hocus pocus to punish him or better him or gain his knowledge, they had pretty vile means at it. And the earthen authorities had deemed it acceptable to let these creatures live among humans. Fully aware of what they were capable of doing, and simply trusting some superstitious belief that they wouldn’t.
The thought made the hairs stand up on Tony’s back.
Loki was terrified of bodies of water, anything larger than a measuring cup. So a bath to cool or comfort him in the mid-summer heat was out of question. Even when the shower got a little clogged and the ankle-high basin started filling up, he was instantly out of the bathroom straining to wind the hand-towel around his waist area on his way to his room, probably the only one he could reach in his hurry. Leaving a trail of puddles behind, mightily ignoring Tony’s inquiry from the kitchen. In the two minutes the billionaire detected the running water in the bathroom and cleaned up the floor, Loki snuck into Tony’s bedroom and stole some fresh clothes instead of the ones he had left in the dangerous area. Tony found him back in his own territory by the time he went to check on him, sitting in the armchair, chewing his nail ragged, glaring out the window, holding onto the notion with claws and teeth that this was the most natural thing in the world. Tony’s Black Sabbath shirt had soaked through around the chest area and the shoulders, the dark cotton pants stuck to the pulled-up shins, the bare toes were clawing at the cushioned seat in tension.
He abhorred from the basement where the tinkering chambers and the gym were, or the entrance leading down there. Figures.
He started speaking shortly after he let himself be convinced to do activities for and with Tony. Some exercise started it all, the billionaire wanted to try measuring his protégé’s physical abilities – try, mind you. He didn’t really expect Loki to comply exactly as he wanted. The mental pushback, the fear was only present in the first few minutes in his brain, and it ceased as Tony stopped his reassuring comments that nothing vile was going to happen and the process became natural. Loki did the required push-ups or sit-ups alongside Tony in the grass before the house without complaint; they jogged together on the forest path around the residence, although only the billionaire panted heavily at the end of each round. On the third day, Loki left him behind and waited for him idling under the pear tree near the entrance, perhaps he didn’t even cheat it off.
Elated, Tony initiated exercise that required more creativity, like boxing and wrestling, but Loki pulled out of those regardless of whether he was asked to do it alone or invited for a duel.
“Please, no,” were his first words answering the billionaire’s insistence then, before he went back into the house. Tony decided not to make a big deal out of it; he invited him for a game of chess instead; as it occurred, very wisely.
The God of Fears smelt and avoided hot cooking oil from the next room. Before Tony discovered the trait and started with food preparation in the American kitchen whenever it felt fit, the sorcerer tended to leave the bathroom through the window, enter his quarters through the closed terrace door (ruining the lock and making an innocent face afterwards each time) while oil sizzled in the pan for lunch or dinner. The kitchen was a mine field of triggers in itself, it occurred.
He reeled back out of the kitchen-lounge like a virgin in a brothel once as he caught Tony making dumplings.
“What are you doing?” came the muffled question from the other side of the wall; his second sentence uttered aloud.
“Food,” Tony answered while squeezing small pieces of the paste through a gap between his thumb and index finger. “Not poison.”
It took about half a minute to guess the subject of the god’s abhorrence. This meaty, sticky-slippery mess did remind of guts, if you thought hard enough. If you had a well conditioned imagination.
There went Tony’s plan to eat something natural once in a lifetime; to eat at all that evening, in fact. Pepper might have been able to make the dumplings irresistible even for a traumatised god, they were her speciality. Tony missed them.
“Loki,” he leaned forwards in the chair on an idle afternoon, while they were sitting out on the shaded porch like two cowboys in jogging pants. He looked deep into the teal eyes to have their attention while sharing the important truth. “In case you’re wondering why I’m so keen on fathering you, it’s not to be pushy or demand anything in return. You don’t owe me anything. It’s a favour to an old friend, okay? Your brother has asked me to look after you in case of your return.”
Well, it was almost entirely the truth, Thor did scatter shyly grumbled notes in defence of his brother when it came up among the remaining Avengers. And the feeling might have been mutual because the trickster perked up subtly at the mention of the thunder god, his head still bent down but his eyes watching intently for the continuation.
“Sorry, pal, I can’t tell you where he went,” Tony threw up an arm apologetically. “I only know he left for Space with a bunch of whackos. A raccoon, a tree, some demigod, a moth girl… and a few more chaps. In an orange spaceship, if that helps; I don’t know how many orange ships fly around out there. Is it a popular colour in the Galaxy-?”
He found himself blinking a few times because the sight was unbelievable: Loki was smiling. Leering. Laughing maybe; though he made no sound, his shoulders were shaking while his palm slid over his lips, then his eyes, head bent down amongst a curtain of hair.
“Pretty expectable, huh?” the billionaire agreed. “Oh. You haven’t seen him in the past decade, have you? Boy, are you in for a treat.”
He stood up during the latter note and stepped into the house, to find the suitable device for displaying his digital photo albums.
He had Friday order McDonald’s to the end of the forest path for safety reasons, then took a cap and sunglasses to head out.
“I need to accept delivery out there,” he told the god lounging in an armchair. “A fifteen-minute walk with birds and bees. Wanna come?”
He put on his shoes while waiting for the never-coming answer. He caught sight of the trickster lingering in the doorway afterwards.
“We can go by car if you prefer,” he noted. “I just thought to get some air, to satisfy my wife’s voice in my head. But the car is fine. We can pull down the windows, that should suffice for her.”
Loki shook his head and then added verbal confirmation.
“No. Thank you.”
The latter was soft and sounded intensely desperate to Tony’s ears, but he wasn’t the one to tell. He might have been projecting his own nervousness from leaving the god here alone for the first time.
“I’ll be back in thirty,” he reassured himself and maybe Loki, and he descended the steps of the porch. He decided to take the car, after all.
He jogged from the car to the house with the bags in his arms, seeing no reason to be careful with the lidded cups and all anyway.
“Schmo’s back,” he announced from the entrance. It sounded a tad more commanding than he intended, but at least his stomach’s uneasiness was out of it.
Loki only spoke up when the billionaire stepped into the lounge with the rustling bags.
“So slow,” he muttered, occupied with the mixing of cold water and instant tea at the kitchen counter.
Tony tried not to judge on his own, but he strongly felt like the following silence was rather sassy than nonchalant.
Chapter Five: The Juniper
Yang ducked underneath a wild, drunken hook A man who was reminiscent of a bellowing mass of fat, grease and body hair staggered forward, off-balance. She took advantage of the man’s lack of balance and landed two solid kidney blows, before smashing his jaw with a powerful left hook, dropping the man like a side of beef cut from a butcher’s hook.
Yang barely had time to admire her work, when a heeled boot, belonging to one Belladonna Zech Blake Ist Dawn’s Hope, connected with the side of her head. She was sent sprawling across the liquor-stained and chair-scratched floor.
Keep your head up, don’t drop your guard like a damn amateur. This isn't your first bar room ball. She used the momentum from the kick to roll to her feet. She shot Belladonna a scowl as she turned and spat blood.
All Yang wanted was a drink, and after knocking that Arc guy down to twenty-three thousand she had Void damned deserved it. But Little Miss Belladonna had to get pissy after Yang called her Blakey that last time. She just had to throw her drink. She just had to hit that group of pirates.
Yep. This was all the cat’s fucking fault.
Yang ducked underneath another kick from Belladonna, then threw a couple of quick jabs; more to create space for Yang to think and get a feel for her opponent than to actually try to connect with the cat.
Belladonna dodged the two half-hearted punches, quickly ducking a good six or seven paces back. So that’s how you play huh? Attack, avoid the counter, retreat. Rinse and repeat eh? Yang slammed her fist together in eager anticipation.
Yang had to admire the grace and agility with which Belladonna danced through the mess of bodies before she leapt onto a table and used it as a springboard to launch another kick at Yang’s head.
But… Yang grinned in savage triumph as she caught Belladonna’s leg and threw her across the bar, you ain’t beating me in strength.
Belladonna hit the floor in a thud but quickly leapt to her feet, only to be set upon by another group of angry, howling patrons.
“Well I guess cats don’t always land on their feet,” Yang quipped, chuckling to herself.
Yang cursed as she ducked beneath an outstretched arm and wrapped her own across the burly, unkempt man’s chest and over his shoulders. With a grunt of effort, Yang lifted the man up and slammed her victim through an empty table.
Another patron attempted to blindside her with a flying rugby tackle, which she deftly sidestepped. She caught another patron by surprise with her devastating right hook. Yang almost laughed as he was tossed to the beer-stained floor where he spat teeth, barely conscious.
Several more drunk patrons rushed her and Yang was forced to give ground. As she ducked, weaved and dodged angry punches, kicks, the odd bottle, and broken chair leg, she felt her back press up against someone else’s.
“Duck!” the person, a woman by her voice, yelled.
Yang didn’t hesitate and felt the woosh of air as a weapon of some kind swung over their heads.
Using her shoulder to keep her back to the other woman, Yang spun around, catching a chair leg, and the arm that held it, on the backswing. With a tug, Yang pulled the man off balance and brought her knee into his groin.
The man gasped in pain and his knees buckled as he fell to the floor. Yang followed it up with a quick right straight punch into the nose. She felt a crunch as the man fell over grabbing at his face as he screamed in pain.
“Thanks!” Yang shouted over the screams and the billowing anger of the patrons. She cast a quick look over her shoulder and was surprised to find the long, lush black hair and cat ears of Belladonna.
“Not now,” Belladonna grunted, punching a man in the gut, then bringing her heel down in an axe kick on the man’s shoulder. “I’ll deal with you when I’m not about to get brained by some human pirate.”
“Deal!” Yang heartily laughed. This was the most fun she had in age; it had been a long time since she had actually been able to cut loose.
Who knew a bar fight could be so relaxing, Yang mused as she ripped a bottle from another man and smashed it against the side of his jaw before she hurled it into the face of another.
“Belladonna!” Yang yelled as three obviously genetically tailored men, who were more like slabs of muscle on bone, charged into the fray.
The Faunus dodged nimbly away as Yang rushed to meet them. She caught the first one with a powerful uppercut snapping the man’s overly muscled neck back, just as Belladonna delivered a sharp kick to the back of the man’s legs. The man fell back, and before Yang could admire her work, she was smacked aside by a brutal backhand that threw her to the now sticky floor.
Yang shook her head, as her vision blurred and the room spun as she climbed to her feet, only to be knocked back and into a set of tables as Belladonna was thrown into her.
“And here I was starting to have fun” Yang groaned cheerfully as she picked herself up, offering a hand to Belladonna, who, much to Yang’s surprise, took it.
“This is what you do for fun?” Belladonna gasped painfully, taking a position beside her facing the two giants.
“Sometimes. Though usually, I’m the only vat-freak involved.” Yang smiled sardonically as she took a step forward. “So... you want the one on the left or right?”
“You can have the one on the right. The left is the one who threw me,” Belladonna turned and spat.
As the two remaining muscle heads advanced Yang roared a battle cry and the two charged.
Yang groaned as she felt something poking her in the forehead. Annoyingly and insistently.
“Go away.” Yang was tired, and she tried to pull the heavy blanket over her and snuggle back into bed. Only the blanket didn’t move… And it was made of squishy flesh, not of various artificial and wool fabrics.
And...there was someone resting their head on her shoulder!?
Yang’s eyes snapped open and she looked straight into the face of the annoyed, grizzled face of the barkeep.
Injured patrons laid all about. Most of the chairs, tables, and stools were in various stages between damaged and completely destroyed. Belladonna was resting her head on Yang’s shoulder, her cat ears tickling Yang’s neck as they flicked and moved. What Yang had thought was a blanket turned out to be one of the unconscious vat-freaks, who had so graciously helped them to destroy what little undamaged furniture had been left.
Yang hung her head, slightly embarrassed as she fished for in her pocket for a bar of Aegisalt. She maybe was a hot-head who got into fights for fun…but she never liked wrecking other people’s property if they didn’t deserve it.
“This should more than cover it.” Yang laughed painfully as her numerous bruises made themselves known; and tossed a milky white and purple bar to the barkeep.
The man grumbled something which Yang couldn’t be bothered to decipher and closed her eyes. She needed to sleep.
“Let’s… try not to do this again,” Belladonna whispered against her shoulder.
“Yeah… not for a while,” Yang nodded in agreement, and then paused “Hey Belladonna?”
“...Blake… You can call me Blake.”
Yang grinned tiredly as she closed her eyes and slowly drifted back off to sleep. “You fight real good, Blake. Real good.”
“You too, Yang.”
Jaune and Ren walked in silence as they weaved their way through the dirty, rubbish-strewn streets. Though Ren was difficult to read at the best of times, Jaune had known the man long enough to know the subtle clues he gave off when something was gnawing at him; a slight tightening of his shoulders, a quick or barely visible frown. If it wasn’t for his rotten luck, the man would be a masterful card player.
“Well, what do you think?” Jaune asked, breaking the silence as they entered the crowded bazaar.
“You undersold us by two-thousand,” Ren answered, his tone was as quiet and contemplative as it always was. His magenta coloured eyes roamed over the crowd and stalls instead of looking directly at Jaune. “They’re not telling us the truth either.”
Jaune shrugged as they passed by several stalls, offering various charms and trinkets for protection, cheap and poorly kept weapons, and adulterated intoxicants; which most were highly illegal throughout the more civilized parts of the galaxy.
“When has a client ever told us the truth about what we’ll be doing?” Jaune was rather ambivalent; several years as a smuggler had taught him that clients were rarely upfront. He was more concerned with Ren’s thoughts on the underselling, especially as the Juniper was still in the red for the past few months.
Ren sighed, which, for him, was as telling a long string of frustrated expletives from anyone else. “Jaune you need to take your responsibilities more seriously. We’re in the red for this month, and you and I both know twenty-three is barely going to cover fuel costs."
Jaune smiled lightly as he patted his friend on the shoulder. “We’ll manage. We always do. Plus there is a way to reduce our fuel-”
“Roman Torchwick?” Ren interrupted, as he cocked his head.
“Roman,” Jaune sheepishly admitted. Ever since their first meeting, Ren didn’t have the greatest opinion of the man; Ren and Roman had taken a polite, but obvious dislike for one another. So much so, that the day Ren had anything positive to say about the Crime Lord, Jaune would quit the smuggling life and settle down as a farmer somewhere.
"He still owes me that favour," Jaune added hurriedly, as he noticed Ren’s disapproving frown. “Even if we take the loop around Mistral space to the Protectorate, we’ll still be able to cut our fuel costs by at least a quarter.”
“True,” Ren agreed reluctantly, “Doesn’t mean I have to like it. You are playing it too close with that man.”
“He’s the one that helped me get into the business,” Jaune countered, “He’s never done me wrong.”
Ren stayed silent and Jaune let the matter drop. He understood Ren’s… suspicion of Torchwick, he understood it very well. Torchwick was a crime lord, running one of the largest criminal enterprises in Protectorate space, whose tendrils reached even into Vale Space. Jaune was not a fan of dishonesty; and honesty was not a trait one would accuse Mr. Roman Torchwick of having. It would be a lie to say the man didn’t joyfully embrace dishonesty. But Roman had always been good to Jaune, always paid, never shorted and always lived up to his word once it was given.
He just wished it wasn’t brought up every time Jaune mentioned the man.
The two walked in silence for a short time, until Ren turned off the street and towards a run-down stall managed by a wizened old man. A local soothsayer, by the look of him, who was hawking his wares and the promises of protection for voidsmen on shore leave.
"Another trip, another charm," Jaune said as he stepped behind Ren, watching as he picked up brightly painted charms, carved idols, and beaded fetishes in turn. He turned each around in his thin fingers, examining them each with a critical eye.
“They work,” Ren replied as he picked up a dark amber coloured one that dangled from a silver chain. A dozen handcrafted metal flowers had been woven into the chain and on each side of the charm was a small bell, which chimed merrily with every movement. A small, satisfied smile crossed Ren’s lips.
It was a ritual the two had completed dozens of times since Ren and Nora had joined the crew. The inside of the Juniper was now decorated with dozens of idols, talismans, charms, and fetishes each one was supposedly imbued with the power to repel the Grimm.
They’ve had multiple encounters with the monsters, who were the blight of the galaxy. Jaune remembered pointing that out once to Ren after a particularly close encounter with a small flock of Griffin Grimm out near the border of the Vale frontier and Wild Space.
Ren had simply nodded and then he had looked Jaune straight in the eye and quietly reminded him that, ever since they had been together; and despite their years in the void, sometimes at the very edge of Grimm Space, Not Once had they ever encountered anything bigger than a Nevermore. Not once had they seen anything more dangerous than that small flock of Griffin.
Ren believed in them. He deeply believed in them.
And in the end, that was enough for Jaune, despite his doubts.
Jaune watched the crowd as Ren paid and carefully slipped his new purchase into his bag. The two resumed their walk back to the Juniper now that one of Ren’s customary pre-voyage traditions was completed.
“Did you notice we were being watched?” Ren quietly asked under his breath, once they were back out in the main street.
“I did. Over by the alley to our right,” Jaune replied with a whisper as he kept his hands relaxed to his side. He knew better than to gesture or look in the indicated direction.
He had seen the bearded man watching them from across the street, noting that he hadn’t taken his eyes off of them during the whole transaction. It had been fairly obvious too, which stank of an amateur.
“Then you missed the other two,” Ren whispered back, “One was sneaking glances at us from the meat stall that was to the left. There’s another we just passed, on the right side of the street. Near that dust-bike.”
Jaune smiled fondly; Ren’s observation skills were always a source of amazement. “Where would I be without you?”
“Probably dead out in the desert somewhere,” Ren noted, the corners of his mouth barely ticking up.
“Thought that was Pyrrha’s job,” Jaune chuckled darkly, before sobering up, “Think they’re Perry’s?”
Ren shrugged as the two turned a corner towards Hanger Thirty-Two A. “Possibly. Want to take them now or wait?”
Jaune thought about that for a moment. If the stalkers were Perry’s men, then he couldn’t have more than eight or nine, including him and his crew. His ship had taken heavy damage from their previous little exchange and he wouldn’t be able to afford the extra hands in Jaune’s opinion.
However, if on the odd chance these men weren’t Perry’s, then it was impossible to know how many more might there be. Attacking them would also tip off any survivors, and more importantly, their employer, that the crew of the Juniper was on to them.
But on the other hand, remaining idle would give whoever they were the initiative. Worse yet, they might try something with their new passengers aboard. A firefight breaking out would risk one the passengers getting hurt, or even killed. Something like that, taking place while under the care of Jaune and his crew would give that Yang woman a very good reason to demand compensation. Even after Jaune had given her a heavily discounted fee.
He wished he had Pyrrha with them right now. Out of the entire crew, she was by far the best fighter and having her here would allow him to go on the offensive. But she was back on the ship; cities and towns never made her feel comfortable.
“They know where the Juniper is. We could have the advantage in the hangar with Nora and Pyrrha. But we would have to give up the initiative,” Jaune thought out loud in a low voice, carefully scanning the crowd ahead for any more suspicious actors. “On the other hand, Nora would be rather annoyed if she missed out on a firefight. ”
“We wouldn’t hear the end of it for a good couple of weeks,” Ren quietly agreed with a small nod. “She has been complaining that Magnhild has been getting little use recently.”
“I think we’re going to have to find out who they are.” Jaune finally decided as he came to a stop in front of the door to Hanger Thirty-Two A. “Get Nora and Pyrrha and ...uhh... see if we can’t lure one or two out with a piece of bait.”
“Let me guess. That bait is going to be you,” Ren commented with a raised eyebrow, as he followed his captain through the door.
“Call it my punishment for underselling to the two ladies,” Jaune laughed as the door slid shut behind them.
Ruby sighed irritably as she looked out of the window and over the bazaar, from the small boarding room they had rented, while Belladonna and Yang had gone to sell the ship and purchase passage aboard another. She had wanted to go with them, but Yang had shot her down.
“Someone needs to keep an eye on the Heiress, and she seems to like you the best.,” Yang had teased her before she and the Faunus had wandered off into the bazaar.
That had been several hours ago and Ruby was starting to worry. Sure, Yang was tough and that Belladonna woman seemed like she could handle herself.
Still, Yang was her sister. It was Ruby’s job to worry.
She had tried to take her mind off the anxiety, eventually stepping out briefly to buy some clothes and to buy both herself and Weiss some lunch. Nothing more than local lizard meat on toasted bread, with a strange purple drink. But after several days of eating nutrient bars and drinking recycled water, it had been among the most delicious meals Ruby had ever eaten.
“What is taking those two so long?” Weiss loudly complained for the nth time. “Surely it doesn’t take this long for them to find us a ship. The quicker we can out of this vermin-infested hellhole the better.”
Weiss huffed irritability behind her. The room, once again, echoed with the near-ceaseless pacing of her boots against the pitted, hardwood floor.
"I'm sure it's fine," Ruby smiled assuredly over her shoulder, "They probably just stopped to eat or explore the market.”
Weiss scoffed but stopped her pacing. Quiet finally fell over the room as Ruby turned to observe the Heir Apparent. Weiss had ditched her dirty, tattered officer’s uniform and had dressed in the newly purchased items Ruby had brought, choosing a pair of knee-high boots, a long blue trail coat, which was popular among spacers. Beneath that was a pale, ice blue shirt and trousers; and belted around her waist were her rapier and pistol.
Yet there was still that air of nobility that was draped around Weiss’s shoulders like an ermine mantle: the way she held herself, the way she moved, her clipped accent and speaking manner all implied she was far above any lowly ruffian spacer. They would draw unwanted attention, so she was stuck in this hole with Weiss.
Despite her nobility, Weiss seemed to be shrinking. Her shoulders hunched, her fingers clenching and unclenching as though she was working the courage to do something that the Heir Apparent was not used to doing.
“Ruby?” Weiss asked after several seconds of silence. Her voice was so soft that Ruby wasn’t even sure if she had spoken at all. “I’m… I’m not good at this. Making friends, being part of a team.”
“It’s okay, Weiss. It’s okay,” Ruby reassured gently, sitting down next to her and putting her arm around the other girl’s shoulder.
“Not it’s not.” Weiss shook her head. “I shouldn’t be like this. I’m the Heir Apparent of the Protectorate. Certain things are… expected. Demanded of me. I’m supposed to be strong. Able to shoulder anything and everything that can be demanded of you; and shoulder it alone.”
Ruby shook her head. She couldn’t imagine growing up like that. She at least always had her mother and, after she died, her sister and father after Uncle Qrow had smacked him awake. She could have always turned to them when she needed help. And when Yang had left…
Ruby couldn’t help but stifle a small sniff and wiped a tear.
“What I am saying…,” Weiss hesitated, then stood up and turned to face Ruby, “I’m sorry. I’m not like this. It’s just… Old habits. I’ll try to do better.”
Ruby was quiet for a moment, then leapt up from the bed and pulled Weiss into a tight hug. The other girl gasped and wheezed out a faint, “Please get off of me.”
Not that Weiss tried to fight her off, Ruby noted, as she gave the white-haired Heir Apparent one last squeeze before breaking off.
Weiss coughed and straightened out her clothes which had been rumpled in the hug.
“Well now. It's going to be us against the galaxy!” Ruby proclaimed with an eye-dazzling grin, “You, me, Belladonna and Yang against whatever they can throw at us.”
Ruby threw a few excited punches into the air, shadow boxing. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Weiss finally smiled.
“Ain’t nothing that can stop us!” Ruby shouted eagerly.
“Well… Be that as it may, I would feel better if your sister and Belladonna were back with news of a ship that can get us off the planet,” Weiss added dryly, providing a bucket of cold water to Ruby’s over-enthusiasm.
“Aaaaand guess what we got!” Yang, as though summoned by her name, bellowed as she shoved the door in, waving a data slate in her hand.
“Yang!” Ruby exclaimed, bounding over to her older sister. She came to a skidding halt however when she noticed Yang’s puffy eye and purple-yellow bruise covering the side of her face.
“What happened?” Ruby badgered, her voice filled with concern as she rushed to her sister’s side, peering at the bruises.
“Bar fight,” Belladonna answered calmly as she slid past Yang and into the now crowded room. “Yang here thought it was a good idea to try and take on the whole bar at once.”
Yang laughed as she looked over at her. “Only because you threw your drink at them, Blake.”
Ruby grimaced and looked over at Belladonna, who had previously been so vocal about Yang’s casual informality . To her surprise though, Belladonna merely smiled with a roll of her eyes, despite her own bruises.
"So what's the ship, is that it? Let me see, let me see!" Ruby eagerly pointed to the data slate which Yang cheerfully held out of reach.
“Yep,” Yang confirmed as Ruby jumped grabbing the slate and burying herself into the glorious details.
Ruby was so engrossed in the schematics of the ship on the registry that she barely paid attention to Yang and the rest.
The ship was a Pharos class long-range freighter; a ship-class used almost exclusively by the Royal Vale Navy. Ruby’s eyes went wide; seeing it out here was rather shocking. She looked deeper into the registry furrowing her brow as she flicked through the slate’s documents. Some of the systems… most of the systems didn’t make sense.
There was no way they could have an SPDC Series 5 Cold Fission Power Core! That wasn’t even available on the civilian market! There would be massive power overdraw, even if they did have the Han-B280 Sublight engines. The registry crazily claimed that the Juniper was capable of a one-point-five Fold! That put it as fast as any frigate in any fleet! A freighter, even a naval one should be torn apart at those speeds. She shuddered at the thought of the levels of stress such a Fold would put on the poor ship’s superstructure.
“...We managed to get him down to twenty-three once I showed him a bit of the girls,” Yang was boasting as she took a seat on the table, scooping up the last little bit of lizard on toast.
“Yang…” Ruby called out as she waved the data slate, “are you sure this is right?”
Yang shrugged, popping the last little bit of toast into her mouth. “It’s what I got from the registry. Though considering the planet we’re on… who knows.”
Ruby shook her head. “This can’t be right. They are saying they have a power core that only the Protectorate military has access to, a Fold drove capable of one-point-five and guns that should be mounted on a destroyer.”
“What are you saying then, Rose? That they’re lying?” Belladonna asked curiously from where she leaned against the wall.
“If I was to take a guess… I would say most likely,” Ruby acknowledged, tossing the slate onto the table next to the platter.
“Great,” Weiss fumed as she crossed her arms in a huff, “So we just hired a ship that most likely is overstating its capabilities.”
“Ah, you are worrying too much Weiss. That’s why you got me and Blake. If it turns out this guy is a complete and total scumbag, I’m sure that we can drop him and take the ship. No sweat” Yang bragged as she flexed her muscle.
She was getting a bad feeling about all of this.
Jaune stretched in the evening air of the hangar. The passengers hadn’t shown up yet, and the Juniper was ready to go when they did. Nora had finished the pre-flight maintenance over an hour ago and Ren had called it a night with the pre-flight checks.
Which meant there was only one…well, two more things for them to do.
Get another bottle for the celebratory drink of a job well done and hopefully lure Perry, or whoever it was who had been following him into a trap.
The streets were mostly quiet now. Most of the merchants either had or were still in the process of packing up their wares before they shuffled off to whatever hovel they called home.
However, Jaune still kept his rifle, Crocea Mors, slung across his back. It was never a good idea to go anywhere on Caviis IV without some sort of protection. Doubly so if one was hoping to ambush a group of paid killers working for some pirate gang or crime family.
Jaune whistled a light tune he had picked up in the Royal Valian Academy, as he followed the winding street back down to the bar where he had met his newest customers. His boots kicking up stray clouds of red dust.
It was a quiet night. A calm night.
Despite knowing it would be a trap, despite knowing that there were some people after him, Jaune was still caught completely off guard when two rounds slammed into his chest, knocking the wind out of him and tossing him the ground in a painful heap.
And that was the second thing you should never go without. Jaune thought bitterly as he coughed painfully. A good solid piece of armour.
He pulled his jacket open. His white ceramic and micro-woven nerosteel layered breastplate looked to still be intact. Which was great… even if it still hurt like Hell.
Boots crunched against the ground as dark, shadowy figures, a half-dozen of them, burst from cover in the dark alleyways covering him with various guns and rifles.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here.” A man rasped, his voice grating like sandpaper on ancient gnarled bark. “Jaune… Didn’t expect you to be out this late.”
It wasn’t Perry.
He flopped back down and closed his eyes. Well, that was just great.
“Dex…,“ Jaune gasped as he tried to get up, “Got to say wasn’t expecting you.”
Dex chuckled through smoke-stained teeth as he stepped into the dim light of a barely lit street lamp. “There’s a few, well, actually more than a few, individuals out looking for you, Jaune. I just happened to be the lucky bastard who found you first.”
Jaune cursed under his breath. One or two dirt suckers he was prepared to deal with. Three, he was pretty sure they could handle. But if there were more than that after him, then he and his crew were in a lot of danger.
Not that he already wasn’t in a lot of danger, considering the circumstances.
Dex took a few steps forward, drawing his pistol and dropping his knee onto Jaune’s chest.
“Look Dex…. You can tell the Clan I can get their money…,” he coughed out through a beggar’s grin.
Dex waved a finger in his face. “Nah Jaune. The Clan don’t care about that anymore. You see, time’s up. You promised them a payment, you missed it. For the last three months. They want your head.”
Dex brought his pistol up and laid the muzzle against Jaune’s forehead.
“Sorry Jaune,” he apologized without actually sounding sorry at all, “It’s nothing personal. Just business.”
Jaune couldn’t help but chuckle. “I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.”
Just then there was a crack of a rifle and Dex’s head snapped back with a spray of blood and bone. His gang stood there, stunned as another two shots rang out, dropping two more in less than a second.
A figure jumped the roof and landed in a neat crouch rifle raised right in front of Jaune. Her long red hair fell elegantly around her shoulders; her bronze coloured armour gleamed in the dim light. Her rifle cracked again, dropping another one of Jaune’s would-be killers.
The rest scattered, leaping to cover while firing wildly. Jaune scrambled to his hands and knees and threw himself behind a merchant stall. His rescuer leapt to her feet and seemed to almost glide across the ground.
She was fast. Graceful.
Though Jaune had seen her in action a hundred times before, he knew that even if he could live to see it a thousand times, a million times, a million million times, he would still be awestruck by the sheer, deadly, inhuman grace, of Pyrrha Nikos.
She was among the band of would-be-killers before they had even reached cover, her rifle mag-locked to her back, her xiphos style sword in her hands. She brought it up in a quick stroke, slicing easily through a man’s chest, before stabbing into one of his companion’s sternum.
Grabbing the dying man, Pyrrha pulled him in front of her, as another one of Jaune’s attackers fired off several shots from his pistol. Jaune could hear the thump of bullets hitting her human shield before she threw him off her sword and charged.
She was on him before he had a chance to react, her blood-stained blade slicing through his raised arm, as he attempted to ward off the blow. It fell to the ground, his hand still gripped the pistol, his stump sprayed the ground with blood. With a quick flick of her wrist and a short spin to face her last opponent, Pyrrha casually decapitated the man.
The last surviving member of the gang had already run away, after he had tossed his weapon to the ground to escape the carnage.
Jaune gave a relieved smile as he stumbled to his feet, his hand still covering his chest where he had been shot. Slowly he bent over to pick Crocea Mors from where it had fallen from his back.
“Jaune,” Pyrrha smiled fondly with a nod of greeting.
“Thanks for the help.” Jaune looked around with a raised eyebrow. “Where's Nora and Ren? Thought they were going to help.”
“Guarding the ship,” Pyrrha answered, sitting him back down and started to check his chest to make sure his ribs hadn’t broken where he had been shot. “Thought there might have been a chance of them coming after it, so I had them stay behind.”
Jaune panted painfully as she stripped off his armour. “I’m hoping that’s going to be the only one.”
“Doubtful,” Pyrrha said evenly despite the look of worry in her bright emerald eyes. “They said you’ve missed the Clans payments.”
Jaune muttered another curse. This was the last thing he needed. He didn’t need his crew to worry. But now that was kind of out of the bag.
“Just the last couple of months,” he admitted after a moment of awkward silence, “We’ve been in the red for a bit….”
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Pyrrha’s tone was gentle and filled with concern, as she helped Jaune back to his feet and threw his arm over her shoulder to support his weight. “We’ve known about the money troubles, but why not tell us about the gangs wanting to collect?”
“It’s my job. You shouldn’t have to pick up the slack,” Jaune insisted as the two slowly made their way back towards the Juniper .
“We’re your friends, not just your crew,” Pyrrha chided lightly, “We can help you know.”
“I’ll figure something out.” Jaune deflected lamely, “Maybe after this job, we can quit Wild Space. Go join a mercenary band, or sell our services on the Frontier.”
“We would still have the syndicates and gangs coming after us. If I’m not wrong in guessing it's not just the Clan we owe money to.”
Jaune winced. How she always managed to see right through him? It was uncanny.
“No…” he admitted, lowering his head, “The Spiders want us dead, but that’s because they shorted us, so I sold off the remainder of their cargo to Tiandihui. The Clan… well… I promised the Clan a thirty percent return on investment on that Protectorate Run.”
“You mean that one where we were almost blown out of space and lost the cargo?” Pyrrha questioned as they rounded a corner.
“Yeah… that one.” Jaune remembered bitterly, “I told them I would pay back their investment plus ten percent… but it seems like they were getting impatient.”
“There are more, aren’t there?” Pyrrha continued to probe with a soft voice; Jaune could tell she wasn’t mad but there was a certain amount of disappointment at his own stubborn refusal to inform Nora, Ren and her.
“Yeah,” Jaune admitted sheepishly. “The Mercaricus Guild for the repairs last month. The Go-Land Syndicate for hijacking those weapon shipments three months ago…”
As he named off various syndicates and crime families, Jaune was slowly coming to the realisation that the Juniper had overstayed their welcome. They were bleeding money and owed quite a bit to the various gangs, pirates, and syndicates that called Caviis IV home.
“Fuck, I’ve really messed this up.”
“Yes. You have.” Pyrrha agreed with a slight smile, as she used her free arm to punch in the code to Hangar Thirty-Two A. “But we’re all still together. All of us, you, me, Nora and Ren. We’ll figure something out after this job.”
“Thanks, Pyrrha.” Jaune smiled tiredly as they climbed up the boarding ramp to the Juniper . “Again… What would I do without you?”
The Juniper was like no other ship that Weiss had ever seen. And she didn’t mean that in a good way.
The … thing that sat in Hangar Thirty-Two A was a Frankenstein-like monstrosity of various parts, subsystems and wielded on armour plating. It was squat, long and probably the ugliest ship that she had ever seen.
“Good morning ladies,” a rather tall and thin towheaded man, called out, as he walked down the boarding ramp. He wore a short white and yellow coat, an armoured breastplate, boots, and dust-coloured trousers and it made him appear like he was some cast-off from a poor frontier paramilitary.
“May I introduce you to the Juniper!” He knocked on the plating. “Fastest tin can in the galaxy.” The man grinned proudly before he bowed at the waist. “My name is Jaune Arc - your Captain for the voyage.”
“We remember,” Yang said, holding out her hand, which Captain took. “My name is Yang, the cat Faunus is Belladonna Zech Blake Ist Dawn’s Hope, the one in red is my little sister Ruby and last but not least is Ms. Snow, the academic who we are escorting.”
Weiss couldn’t help herself as she shook her head at the ship. “It’s a piece of junk.”
Captain Arc was about to reply when a sharp and angry “HEY!” cut him off.
A short woman with bright red-hair, welders goggles, and a light blue and pink leather jacket lept from the top of the trash heap that these people generously called a ship. She landed with a heavy thud that was well beyond anything someone of her size and weight should have been able to create.
“This ship is the best and greatest ship to ever ship!” The woman shouted as she marched up to the four, fists on her hips, a thunderous scowl on her face. “And she has sensitive feelings too! You need to apologize to her!”
Weiss was taken aback by the diminutive woman who thundered across the hangar to scold them. Weiss could feel Yang tensing up beside her in order to intercept the angry woman just in case she became a threat.
“Nora, Nora!” Captain Arc intercepted the woman before Yang was forced to defend Weiss. “She didn’t mean it. She just doesn’t know the Juniper. I’m sure once she sees what she can do she’ll take it back.”
Weiss struggled not to roll her eyes. If the hunk of metal junk didn’t fall apart on take-off she would be surprised.
The Captain rubbed the back of his neck nervously as he introduced them. “Ladies, this is my chief engineer, Nora Valkyrie.”
The woman, as though having already forgotten her outburst, smiled and waved, before, much to Weiss’s surprise, she began grilling them on all sorts of personal matters that no well-bred Protectorate lordling would ever reveal in polite conversation.
“Captain…,” Weiss began.
He waved her off with a fond smile. “It's how she assigns quarters.”
The woman, Nora, shot him a glare. “It’s a precise calculation on which quarters they should get to ensure that we are cursed with as little bad luck as humanly possible, Cap’n. Now then! You with the white hair! What did you eat this morning? What’s your shoe size? What time and where were you born?”
Weiss found herself too dumbstruck to not answer.
After this brief and rapid interrogation, Weiss found that she had been assigned quarters on the starboard side with Ruby, while Blake and Yang had been given their own quarters port and aft. All according to this girl’s ‘logical calculations.’
The inside of the Juniper was as chaotic as the outside, various charms, fetishes, talismans, and idols decorated the hallways and whatever shelving space was available. Some were intricate and delicately made, woven with thin wire and precious stones. Others were simply crude carvings from wood, stone, and bone. Some of the walls were brightly painted, some had weird shapes and bizarre patterns, while others were more traditional in their scenes.
The common area slash dining hall was comfortable and roomy. A homemade rag rug was laid out in the centre, made from white fabric and decorated with a pair of yellow crescents. It felt lived in and homey, so different than the hard and barren ships of the Protectorate.
Ruby was having the time of her life. She ran from room to room, squealing with delight, her previous apprehension all but forgotten as she fired off rapid questions to the Engineer, who fired back answers almost as rapidly. Even more strangely, Ms. Valkyrie didn’t seem to mind the strange aura that hung around Ruby. If anything, save for the briefest moment when Ruby had been first introduced to her, Ms. Valkyrie seemed not to feel it at all.
Which made Weiss feel terrible. She had given Ruby this big speech about how she would try to be a better person. Weiss did have to admit that as she and Ruby grew closer together as friends, that aura seemed to dissipate. But to see Nora accept her so readily… Was she that judgemental? That prejudice?
The thoughts continued to eat at Weiss even after the brief tour.
Captain Arc took them to the cockpit introduced them to his first mate and copilot: a quiet and stoic man, with magenta eyes and long black hair by the name of Lie Ren.
Everything seemed to be going well for once.
That was until they met the last of the crew.
Weiss felt her breath catch in her throat. She was awestruck.
It was the only word she could think of. The woman was beautiful, graceful. Every step was measured and every stride was artfully placed. Yet… there was more to it. Weiss almost felt peaceful, safe, protected, like she was in the presence of a goddess-given flesh.
Then the woman caught sight of Ruby…
And she fell to the floor, clutching at her head as she screamed in gut-wrenching pain. A second later she heaved and blood spewed from her mouth landing in a dark crimson pool.
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