How To Avoid A Virus That Can Take All Your Accounts With It
"women need to learn everything about tech that we can, and carve our own spaces." how does one get started on that? what do you think the priorities would be?
Learn the basics of information security, so your info doesn't get stolen and used against you. The resource page on the Crash Override Network has some material that's worth reading.
Learn how to mantain and repair your own computer, both hardware and software. Learn what's the function of each component, how do they interact together, how to assemble and disassemble, how to do basic troubleshooting on your operational system of choice, etc. Relying on tech dudes to do repair an maintenance for you is a bad idea, they will often try to steal your data, and they will scour your machine specifically looking for nudes or other lewd pictures (which you shouldn't even have in the first place, btw).
Learning how make the computer do things that you want it to do i.e. programming is not everyone's cup of tea, but if you're interested in that, there's a plethora of resources on the internet you can use. Harvard's CS50 is a great starting point.
There are some programming, computer science and computer hardware related subreddits that have a lot of good info on their faqs. You can start with r/compsci, r/learnprogramming and r/programming. In general, being curious and persistent in seeking out information, studying and learning will get you pretty far. If you enjoy it, you can look into taking a course into the area.
If you want to communicate, remember that tech moids are among the rudest, most socially inept moids there are and they usually have a chip on their shoulder because they're low on the moid hyerarchy, and a lot of them are openly hostile to women and minorities, and even to each other. Just don't say you're a woman if you need to interact with them online.
There are also organizations like Women Who Code, PyLadies or Lesbians Who Tech, that promote workshops and other events focused on women. Keep in mind that their definition of women might be quee-quee woke, and sometimes you will bump into Sally ProgrammerSocks who transitioned at 35 there, but still worth checking out.
Overall, there are a LOT of resources out there. You will just have to counsciously swim in moid-infested waters, learning all you can. Knowing how to research and how to find the information you need is the most essential skill you need to develop. It's not easy, but it's worth it. A whole new world opens up when you understand how the computer turns 0s and 1s into tweets with terrible opinions.
Natasha Romanoff x fem!reader
Summary: A top trained assassin, her girlfriend, and a build-a-bear workshop, what better way to spend a day off.
Word count: 2.1k
Warnings: Agonisingly fluffy.
I was planning on posting angst, but, decided on a fluff instead<33
“But babe. Babe. Babe.” You poked your girlfriend, fully aware that with every prod, you were only contributing to the headache worthy eye rolls she had been giving you for the past hour. You were joking, of course you were, she knew that, but she also knew that it was possible you were about to be single in 0.2 of a second if you didn’t stop poking her.
With a sarcastic smile and a deep breath, she turned her head towards you, momentarily stopping your movements as you returned a sickeningly sweet smile back.
“I don’t think you understand.”
“I do understand.”
“This is life or death.” You spoke with a poker face, a weak attempt to try and make your point valid.
“I think that may be exaggerating just a little bit honey.” She chuckled lightly at your tone and the way you moved in your spot on the sofa, now having your legs crossed in front of you, hands enthusiastically moving in front of you.
“No. No, see, you don’t understand! We need to do this!”
“Is my unconditional love not enough?”
“Ouch.” She dramatically placed her hand on her chest, a smirk plastered onto her face as she watched you rile yourself up with every sentence.
“Okay, sorry, I didn’t mean that, your unconditional love is more than enough, and while I unconditionally love you too, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a necessity.”
“Like the ones from the jungle book?”
You groaned loudly, throwing your head back as the assassin teased you.
“Baby, please!” You moved once again, now clambering onto her lap with your hands interlocked behind her neck, your faces mere inches away from hers. Her hands immediately went to your waist to steady you, pure energy coursed through your veins as you tried to convince Natasha to go ahead with your idea and she wasn’t certain you wouldn’t fall off of you if she didn’t hold you down.
“You seriously want to?”
“Instead of cuddling in bed with movies?” Her eyebrows raised in question, not faltering as she watched you pretend to ponder, stroking an imaginary beard on your chin.
“Yes.” You smiled, your inner child shining through.
Knowing she wasn’t going to win, she sighed gently, running a hand through your hair and giving you a quick kiss on your temple before tapping your thighs to signal for you to stand up.
“Alright. Get ready and we’ll go.”
“Really?” You squealed, clapping your hands together as you rocked back and forth on your heels.
“Really. Now hurry and get your shoes on, we don’t want to get stuck in traffic.”
She watched with nothing but adoration as you whizzed off to get ready to leave, swearing that she’s never seen you move so quickly in her life. Despite her playful protest, she walked over to the kitchen counter to pick up her car keys, swinging them around her pointer finger as she walked over to the doorway of the compound living room.
‘I can’t believe I'm doing this.’ She thought.
Although she’ll deny it to anyone that asks, she’s absolutely whipped for you.
“I’m ready!” Your voice called out, encouraging Natasha to shrug her leather jacket on and walk towards her smiling girlfriend, taking her hand as they walked out together with content smiles on their faces.
‘Let’s do this.’
It didn’t take long to arrive at your destination, your eyes immediately drew themselves to the store windows filled with stuffed bears in a variety of different outfits, some bears were dressed up to fit a theme, some bears were characters from loved movies, some were just bears in dungarees.
That’s right. You’ve managed to bring a trained assassin to a build-a-bear workshop. Why?
To get matching bears.
You looked towards Natasha, a huge grin on your face, only faltering slightly as you were met with her hands and forehead on the drivers wheel. You tugged on her sleeve, ignoring her disagreement, her head not leaving the wheel, but turned to face you.
“Stop being silly, c’mon, you’re looking forward to it! I know you are!”
“Babe. We’re parked outside of a teddy store.”
“Exactly! It’s fun, you’re excited, I'm excited, let’s go!”
You didn’t hesitate to open your car door, jumping out of the car and shutting the door behind you, the redhead not far behind you as she once again took your hand, reminding you how lucky you are that she loves you. Your response was a simple kiss on her cheek, a small blush following shortly afterwards.
“You’re cute.” You pinched her cheek.
“Yeah yeah, let’s go get our bears.”
“So, that’s both of your bears stuffed, do you guys want to put voice boxes in them?” The kind staff member asked the pair of you.
You glanced towards Natasha, silently asking if she’d like one or not. She gave you a brief smile before looking back at the woman helping you with your bears.
“Sure, I don’t see why not.” She winked at you before following the woman over to another station within the store. There were rows and rows of different shapes and coloured voice boxes to choose from.
You had the option of choosing a pre-recorded sound, like animal sounds or a bunch of different ‘i love you.’ in different voices. You didn’t mind what voice you had, honestly, you would’ve been content with an ‘i love you’ from Elsa at this point. However, you saw your girlfriend make a beeline for the ones that you record your own message into.
“You’re gonna do your own one?” You asked, moving over to stand beside her.
“Nope. I’m making one for yours.” She said proudly, holding two of the small items in her hand, holding it out for you to take one. You couldn’t help but feel your heartbeat quicken at her words. This is the sweetest thing you’ve ever done with someone else, and to think she wasn’t even that eager to come in the first place. You knew she’d have fun.
Taking the small blue speaker from her hand, you were instructed to press the button on the back of the plastic, hold it down to speak, and release it when you were finished, but it can only be a short message. The both of you tucked your bears under your arm, bringing the box to your mouth and cupping it so that it would come out loud and clear, and so the other couldn’t hear what you were saying.
Once your messages were done, you handed each other the speaker to place in the paw that had a ‘press me’ sign sewed into it. The woman ensured it was inserted correctly before taking them elsewhere to be sewn up, leaving you both to look at the racks of tiny clothes hung on the wall.
It was almost as difficult as choosing clothes for yourself, there were too many options, and every single one was adorable. How did literal children do this?
“Please tell me you can’t decide on an outfit either.” The Russian spoke from beside you, her gaze focused on the fabrics, styles and patterns in front of you.
“It’s easier trying to take a pop tart off of the demi-god at home than trying to pick a pair of jeans and a t-shirt for a stuffed animal. What the hell?” Your arms gestured to the wall in front of you, exasperated as you tried to decide whether you wanted the blue jeans or black.”
“Hi guys, here are your bears, just letting you know, there’s also some dresses over there if you want to check them out.” The woman smiled, watching as you and Natasha shared a glance of horror.
The two of you were gonna be here for a while.
Finally, you and Nat had dressed both your bears. You chose a pair of black jeans, a white t-shirt and a black leather jacket for yours, and Natasha had chosen a Y/F/O. It appeared as though each of you had made ‘mini me’s’ of the other, and they seemed pretty damn accurate too.
After successfully creating and dressing your bears, it was time to name them, pay, and then you could both go home and relax. You had no idea building a bear could be so exhausting.
Both you and Natasha had to pick a name. You thought it over, whereas Nat had just rushed right in, choosing to call her bear ‘honey.’, the nickname she always reserved for you. Gripping your bear tightly, you observed the birth certificate being printed out, the name, the owner’s name and the date clearly written in bold, black letters. You could’ve sworn you saw Natasha’s eyes light up when she was handed the sheet of paper.
“What about you, miss?” The woman asked, ready to type in whatever name you gave her. Glancing behind you quickly, you caught the eye of your girlfriend behind you, immediately knowing what to call it.
You heard one loud and short laugh erupt from Natasha’s lips, her hand shot to cover her mouth, not intending to be so disruptive when she heard what you had called it.
‘Snoopy’ is the name of a cartoon character, which was probably what people would think you named the bear after. In reality, it wasn’t that at all.
When you first met the team, you were informed of what everyone’s roles were and how they contributed to the group. There were supersoldiers, scientists, a god, all different kinds of people, including the incredibly attractive spy. When you went on your first mission, she had to hack into a computer to retrieve some stolen data, but took her time to also look at some other things they had on there too, just to kill time.
The first words you said to her on that mission that wasn’t to do with what direction you were running in, was ‘Alright, hold off Snoopy, you can do that in your spare time, hurry up.’, and at first she was annoyed with the nickname, claiming she wasn’t snooping, nor does she ever ‘snoop’, but she soon took it in her stride. It was still a running joke between the pair of you 2 years down the line, and you never let her forget it.
“Nice name, babe.” She coughed, unable to fully settle down from her laughing fit.
“Why, thank you! Yours isn’t so bad yourself.” You spoke as you blew her a kiss that she grabbed in thin air and pretended to shove into her jean pocket, earning a small shake of the head before you took your printed certificate and went to purchase the bears.
Once you got back to the compound, the both of you were completely shattered, unable to keep your eyes open to watch some TV before bed. Eager to get some sleep, the two of you just ended up changing into your pyjamas, following your shared night routine before collapsing onto your bed.
You lay beside her, still able to smell her perfume after so many hours, the scent making your eyelids feel like rocks. Grabbing your bear, you put it in between you, Natasha doing the same thing, before snuggling up close together under the covers. She reached over to put some fallen hair behind your ear, smiling gently at you as she did so, the gesture lazily returned.
“Thank you for suggesting today, baby. I really enjoyed myself.” She whispered, a murmur of agreement following her words.
“Thank you for taking us Natty, I had fun.” You mumbled with closed eyes, sleep quickly taking over.
“Get some sleep, my love.”
You nodded once before responding. “G’night Nat.”
And that was you, out like a light.
Natasha reached over to give you a kiss on the forehead as her final goodnight, not realised that she’d leant on the teddy in the process, only noticing when she heard your voice in a non sleepy state.
“I’m madly in love with you, Romanoff.” She heard you laugh, followed by an excited “I’m done!”, obviously you forgot to let go of the button after you recorded the initial message, but it had made it even more special. She couldn’t help but adore you with every bone in her body.
You weren’t awake now, but when you were, she hoped to see your reaction when you listened to her message in your bear, the words spoken in Russian, but you’d heard them before, so you’d definitely know what it meant.
“Moye serdtse tvoye, lyubov' moya.” (My heart is yours, my love.)
She was right.
She’s absolutely whipped.
Taglist: @natashas-favourite-knives @eilarch @natashaswifey @lostandsearching @wandaromanova @pottahishotasf @d14n4ol @xxromanoffxx
Do the Right Thing
S.H.I.E.L.D recruited you right out of high school and you slipped into the academy like a second skin. They brought you in because your hacking skills - while rarely encouraged or legal - were more honed at 15 than most of their seniors agents, and while your hacking improved you also proved yourself more than competent at espionage and sharp shooting.
Natasha was always in your peripherals at the academy - she was hard not to notice. She mentored some of your more advanced classes and knowing what you knew about her-- what the world knew about her after the records dump - it was impossible not to be curious.
But honestly, you probably gave her less thought than most. You rarely if ever needed to be corrected in your courses so your interaction with her at the academy was minimal, and unlike a lot of your peers you had a very chaotic personal life and a much stronger penchant to party or -- hack into NASA for fun-- than obsess over your higher-ups.
Between school, your big, loud close knit family, and your boyfriend Ryan who you met your first week at the academy, you were busy -- and happy.
It wasn’t until you were pulled out of a Military Strategy class and instructed to report to none other than Phil Coulson himself your third year at the academy that Natasha became more to you than a passing curiosity.
It felt like a long walk to the principal's on your way to his office in the Tri-Skeleton. The whole way you just kept trying to think what the hell you possibly could have done wrong.
And several, several things came to mind.
It was even more perturbing when his door keeper let you into his personal office and the only other person there was Natasha Romanoff.
Oh God. They know about NASA.
Despite how well you’d been doing in your espionage courses, you faltered hard seeing her sitting there relaxed in one of the leather armchairs facing Director Coulson's desk.
“Um.. hey, hi!” you squeaked out like a 12 year-old with a crush. It was the first time you can remember honestly being flustered since Adam Tam asked you out in 9th grade, and you’d handled it better then.
She just raised one perfectly sculpted eyebrow at you, smirked, and tilted her head towards the other chair.
Your cheeks were redder than her hair as you took a seat. Where the fuck was Phil.
The silence was stiflingly awkward for you, but you could have sworn she was enjoying your turmoil. After several long minutes though, she took pity.
“I know you,” she stated so casually like your heart wasn’t pounding out of your body. “I did a couple days of training in your sharp-shooting class last semester. You’re good.”
Ok- a compliment from the Black Widow- that you can deal with.
You cleared your throat which had somehow gone so dry, “Yeah, you were also a mentor in one of my undercover strategy classes my first year,” you added, nervously tucking some hair behind my ear.
“Huh,” she replied. “I don’t remember that.”
You laughed a little louder and more hysterically than you meant to, “Well, I guess I was that good.”
Her smile looked a little more genuine and she was about to reply when the back door to the office opened and Coulson walked in.
Natasha immediately straightened, all signs of leisure erased from her posture.
“Agent Romanoff, Recruit (y/l/n), thank you for coming.” His smile is less than reassuring.
It was rare - almost unheard of - for a student to be sent on an active duty mission, but this was classified as low risk and the most important component was someone who could hack - fast.
And it is a simple mission - drop into northwest Russia 13:00. Hike to old HYDRA base- reach location by 17:00. Copy files off Saved by the Bell looking computer to an (actual) floppy disk - which with all of your years of computer hacking it’s the first time you've ever held one. You giggle a little about how much more data could fit on something smaller than one of your eyelashes.
But you do your job - in an out - no complications.
There’s a safe house about 10 miles to your east- just a tiny cabin in the Russian tundra but it has secure wifi where you can upload your stolen files to SHIELD. It also has a fireplace which you more than welcome after the long, freezing trek.
You’ve been trying to act cool the whole time. You are (y/n y/l/n) agent of SHIELD, bad ass spy, defender of --- you know that’s always been less than clear. Democracy, maybe? But you’re a good guy - for sure. You’re on a mission with a literal superhero. You can handle the cold.
You cannot handle the cold. Last New Years Eve, Ryan had to carry you home in tears because you swore you were gonna lose your toes from frost bite. You could feel them dying inside your shoes.
It was 42 degrees and your shoes were too small but you were chilly and drunk and you get dramatic when you’re cold.
But needless to say, a 10 mile hike through the Russian Tundra did not suit you.
When you finally (FINALLY) got the to small one room cabin, Natasha got a fire going while you shivered pathetically, balled up in your parka on a battered, old sofa.
The warmth from the small log fireplace feels like the best luxury you’ve ever known and the lumpy couch - pattern straight out of an teenager’s basement in an 80s movie - might be the most comfortable thing you’ve ever sat on.
Slowly, you unfurl yourself in and take off your gear. First your tactical boots, then your tool belt, and eventually even your SHIELD issued catsuit when the place gets warm enough.
By the time you’ve zonked out on the couch with your head back and mouth hanging open, you’ve almost forgotten Natasha even exists until she nudges you back into consciousness with a smirk and a hot mug of tea and says, “Stand up for a minute, it’s a pull out.”
You sip your tea lazily and watch her make up the futon before gracelessly collapsing right back into it and muttering a slurred, “g’night”. Your brain feels like mush and your limbs feel so heavy and you don’t remember anything else until the next morning except maybe...
Later you’ll think you dreamed it, but you have this persistent memory of Natasha wrapping around you and murmuring, “have to keep you warm,” into the crook of your neck.
But that doesn’t make any sense. It was plenty warm with the fire. You were just exhausted.
The next mission you get sent on with Natasha is also very simple and routine.
But it goes anything but.
The base was supposed to be abandoned. It was a simple recon mission - Technically Natasha didn't even need to go except you were still a student and needed to be supervised - and also as good as you’d gotten they hadn't taught you how to fly a Quinjet yet.
You can hear the chaos raging outside. The air smells like gunpowder and blood and you are so, so close to cracking the firewall. You’re scared. Terrified, but these files are essential. They could save people’s lives. You keep going and right as you break in the door to the lab you're in flies open.
It’s the end. It’s HYDRA, you’re sure of it. And it is, but it’s Natasha too and she has one huge man in a headlock between her legs as she fires three shots into the other big guy trying to come in.
You register- briefly - that it’s the first time you’ve ever seen someone die.
But you can’t unpack that right then - the files are on the thumb drive and Natasha is fighting off 3 men twice her size.
So you pull out your SHIELD issued pistol that you were so good at in training, but have never actually had to point at a living target. You prepare yourself to shoot, but before you can another shot rings out and you hear a desperate scream of your name.
Before you can even register what’s happened 7... maybe 8 more gun shots fire and the men you were prepared to kill are very dead on the ground in front of you - their bodies still and bullet riddled in grotesque ways that make you want to vomit.
And Natasha is sitting amongst them looking very annoyed as blood pools from a wound in her thigh.
‘Backup is on the way,” she grunts through gritted teeth. “There’s a chopper coming, but you gotta get us to the roof. I don’t think I can walk alone.”
The walk to the roof is a surreal blur with Natasha’s weight leaning heavily into your side. You should be the one comforting her, but she’s the one who has to tell you to keep going, that you’ve done so good, that it’s almost over, that you’ll be fine.
You make it to the roof right as the SHIELD chopper is landing. Medics immediately swarm out to tend to Natasha and the last thing you hear from her as she’s being wheeled away is an indignant insistence that she’s fine and they need to be looking after you.
She’s under the rest of the way back to the safehouse in Berlin, and you don’t see her again until you’re already back in New York and debriefed.
You’re furious. Of all the things you know you should be feeling, anger is not one of them (though it does tend to be your default). As far as appropriate feelings are concerned, gratitude is probably up there, relief, undying devotion, maybe - but you just feel angry.
You storm into medbay three days later - straight from your debrief.
She smiled when you walked in, earnest and authentic - not expressions most people ever get to see from the Black Widow.
“What in the actual hell, Agent Romanoff??” you demand.
She’s frowning now. She positions herself a little more upright in the hospital bed - where her leg is still hanging elevated in a sling from where she took a bullet.
Where she took a bullet for you.
“Why would you do that? Why would you jump in front of a fucking bullet for me?”
She’s not saying anything. Just watching you pace with an intense look that you cannot place but it makes you feel foolish and young and like she knows all your secrets and maybe you should apologize and what were you mad about again?
She’s still looking at you like that when she speaks slowly and low, like she’s telling you something vital, something she really needs you to understand.
“(y/n), it was a kill shot. They were aiming to kill you. If I hadn’t gotten between you and them, you could have died.”
You blink dumbly a few times. Well, that didn’t seem like a big secret. It was HYDRA. Of course they were shooting to kill.
You give her the most incredulous look you can muster, “Yes, of course but you..”
Almost faster than you can register, her intense look is gone and the smug little smirk you’re much more accustom to is back when she cuts you off, “analyzed the threat and intercepted the bullet in a non-essential body part. They were aiming for your kidney, they got a little piece of my thigh. Everyone is alive and we got what we went for.”
You really don’t have anything to say to that.
When you do speak again, it comes out more as a helpless question. “Still, you took a bullet.. for.. me?”
She just shrugs, still smirking, “No regrets.”
“I…” You have no idea what to say to that either. “I um, thank you?” Probably shouldn’t have been that.
But her smirk changes to a genuine smile when she says, “Of course.”
You leave after that, but you send her flowers. Really nice ones.
That’s the last time you see Natasha before it happens.
Honestly, the worst thing about the New World Order might be the hindsight.
You want to kick yourself everyday thinking back for not seeing it coming.
The most powerful nation on earth assembles elite groups of super humans (and aliens!) to protect the planet -- and then that same nation had a really bad crisis of conscience and elects a sycophant wannabe dictator as its president, who is then given power as commander and chief over these elite superheroes and black ops divisions.
The thing is, no one should have been able to use these… people? People, mostly, for any sort of political reason. But this time, it’s really bad.
They’re given bad intel from the Pentagon - intentionally. Sent on what they think are humanitarian crisis missions only to end up being the humanitarian crisis.
And they’re heroes. They’re the good guys. As soon as it became blindingly obvious to them that they were pawns of a tyrannical government - They rebelled. Of course they did. It’s admirable really.
But the betrayal hit hard and the atrocities they had conducted by order of the new regime hit harder. It wasn’t a stretch for them to assume they could do it better on their own. And it wasn’t surprising how that turned out.
Superman was the first to break. Wonder woman followed soon after and in less than 6 months the entire Justice League was a “rogue enemy combatant” of the United States. They were wiping out governing bodies at every level - from the United State’s Congress to rural Montana neighborhood boards - and implementing their own governance - one of fairness and righteousness. Where theirs was the absolute authority, and people would learn quickly not to question it.
Ryan -sweet, strong, duty bound Ryan, was a SHIELD legacy. His great-grandfather had been there at the beginning with Agent Carter and everyone in his family had signed up since. Ryan was one of the first to join the Resistance. Ryan joined the resistance before the Avengers even sided with the NWO.
He asked if you would come with him and he warned you it would be horrible. But how could you have said no? You loved him so much and he wasn’t wrong - what was happening under the New World Order was terrible. Governments falling all over the world, mass executions without trials of anyone who seemed associated with a dissenting government. Forced, strictly controlled “Utopias” that felt like that felt like something straight out of an Orwell novel being diligently monitored by NWO members. Horrific punishments for so much as disagreeing with what the local NWO head deemed “ Unifying”.
Joining the Resistance was the right thing to do.
The first six months as rogues were awful. Nights so cold you sometimes fantasize about being back in that cabin in Russia with Natasha. At first because you remembered that was the numbest your toes had ever been before-- that you weren’t lying about-- --- but sometimes, when you were wrapped around Ryan, shivering and clutching socks full of the long cold coal you used to heat up your shitty canned dinner- you’d wonder if you imagined how warm you felt falling asleep that night in Russia- if you imagined Natasha holding you - if you imagined the cottony feeling of opiates when you finished your tea.
You weren’t surprised really, that she chose to join the Order. You imagined she’s been the pawn of one tyrannical government too many and everyone has their “fuck it, I’ll do myself” point.
So no, you weren’t surprised when you heard what side Black Widow had taken.
But you were surprised the next time you saw her.
Ryan and you and your little rag tag team of rebels were in some tiny town in Bulgaria about 100 kilometers south out of Sofia. It was just supposed to be a safe place to hole up and plan for a few days, somewhere you could sleep.
And you were asleep. Comfortably and peacefully in a bed that maybe in your old life you would have thought was lumpy, but at the time felt like heaven - felt like that old busted futon in Russia.
You never even got to say Goodbye.
There was one quick “Whoosh” of wind and then Ryan was still laying next to you, but his neck was bent at a horrible angle. You could barely even feel the hands wrapping around your neck too as you looked at him in such shock and loss.
And then a familiar, raspy voice wrung out strong and loud.
The hands left your neck.
“She’s mine. I’ll take her. She’s mine.”
The last thing you remember is staring at Ryan’s unmoving face and whispering, “please, no.” before you felt the icy prick of a needle in your neck and everything went dark under a curtain of red hair .
I have no idea what the 141 does in Office AU still, but here's them in a nutshell too hehe
Also idk if this will be canon in the AU but I just thought of Makarov hacking into Shepherd's computer and reading his emails when he's bored djejdjdj
Edit: I posted this too early and had to fix something sorry
Office Dad number 2
The head of the 141 department
Doesn't like Zakhaev (the feeling is mutual) but they're still respectful to each other
Good boss. Would make sure you take breaks and all that
Honestly just a pretty swell guy all around
Assistant manager, doubles as an assistant to MacMillan
Hates Makarov too but isn't a petty lil bitch about it. Thunks files on Makarov's desk without a word and leaves
Boonie Hat 24/7. Popular office debate: Does The Hat Come Off?
Has a "do no harm, take no shit" poster in his office
A pleasure to be around unless you're the Inner Circle
Makes fun of the IC, specifically Makarov, to make his own department laugh
"OY LASS I NEED YER HELP ON THIS"
Please don't bring your dog to work
He's an editor but he's got other tasks that he does with Scarlet
Scarlet (@welldonekhushi 's OC)
Soap's partner (romantically and in work ;))
Very kind but would cut a bitch and look so cute while doing so
Sasha probably stares at her in silence if she comes by
Also an editor, does other tasks with Soap
Customer service rep since he's the only one Actually Capable of handling rude people
Just such a delight. Kind to everyone
Knows the two ways to tell someone to go to hell: one where they're angry and one where they enjoy the trip (stolen from one of my mom's old coworkers)
"Well fuck you then"/ "you too sir. Have a great day :)" (also stolen from my mom)
Scarlet kinda scares him sometimes
Punk lady with a cool burn scar
Irish accent gets thicker when she's mad
Soap's ex, but the two are on great terms and still best friends
Treats Scarlet like her little sister. It's really cute
They/He in this. Ghost is nonbinary and you can rip that headcanon from my cold dead hands /lh
Why do they wear a balaclava all the time. Who are they
Does work that doesn't require him to be seen by people, so like data entry and that kinda stuff
Morbid Humour For Daaaaaays
Close to Roach :) calls him Bug
People support their identity btw. None of that lgbt-phobia bs here
I almost forgot he existed
Funny guy as well; him, Soap, and Roach provide moral support through comedy
Calls Zakhaev a headache (get it)
Responsible for interviews and training interns/new employees
Probably a fan of Fruit Ninja
Bootleg Tom Nook
You Never see him and if you do, it's for some annual once-a-month/year meeting
Golfer probably. He's a big Corp boss of course he's a golfer
Tells Makarov about 9 times a day not to bring Sasha to work. He does not listen
PART TWO OF THREE
Read part one here
“Come to bed.”
Gavin hummed an absent-minded response.
“We’re so damn close. We can’t stop now.”
“You’ve been at it for hours and we have work tomorrow. Come to bed.”
Lips pressed against his neck and arms wrapped around his torso from behind. Gavin finally stopped clattering away at his keyboard and leaned into Connor’s embrace.
They both sighed as their eyes fell upon the android laying on their couch in apparent slumber. They had made heaps of progress in the five weeks since smuggling the RK900 out of the Cyberlife warehouse.
His thirium pump now beat steadily and his LED glowed blue. They’d even managed to activate his synth skin (and dressed him in their own clothes when that presented obvious problems)... but they just couldn’t get him to open his eyes.
It was now a mission of their own. Independent of anything North asked of them, and far exceeding the expectations of her original offhand instruction. It made absolutely no sense, but the couple had developed an attachment, if not an obsession, with the RK900.
They’d even named him.
“He kind of looks like a David.”
“Fuck no. Richard.”
“Allen. Shit that reminds me of Sixty’s boss.”
“Maybe he doesn’t need a human name. RK… Nine…. hmm… Nine sounds nice. Nine, Nine… Nines?”
Connor’s eyes had lit up spectacularly at the suggestion and it so came to be that their silent roommate was called Nines.
Outside of detective work and North’s secret errands, Gavin spent all his time poring through the data stolen from Cyberlife in the hope of finding some clue on activating Nines. He’d fall asleep at his workstation and his boyfriend would carry him to bed… but not join him there.
Instead, Connor would resume his place on the floor beside the couch. He’d take his successor model’s hand and whisper to him, pushing parcel after parcel of code through a one-way interface.
A lesser man might have found it creepy to see Connor frozen on the ground in the early hours of the morning, staring deep into a face identical to his own… but Gavin would merely brush a hand through both Connor and Nines’ hair and sit back down at his computer to generate more code for them to try.
This went on for weeks.
Then came the text messages.
Gavin thought it was advertising spam at first.
[Too much caffeine and not enough melatonin. Try decaf.]
[When was the last time you shaved? I can add razor blades to your shopping cart if you like]
[Your couch is really comfortable but a blanket would be nice]
Then one morning Connor had dashed into the bathroom where Gavin was brushing his teeth. It was technically impossible, but the RK800 looked like he was out of breath.
“Gav, he can talk! He’s talking to me! In my head!”
“I think he’s tried to speak to you too.”
Mouth otherwise occupied, Gavin’s eyes widened to the size of dinner plates.
His phone buzzed from the edge of the bathroom vanity. He snatched it up.
[Good morning, Gavin. Don’t you look fresh! Told you a shave was in order.]
Gavin went white as a ghost. The toothbrush clattered into the sink and his phone slipped from his grasp. It was saved from landing in the toilet by Connor’s deft catch.
“Yes! It’s him! Gavin, I’m so happy I could kiss you but I’d rather you rinse your mouth out first.”
“I haven’t stepped into the living room yet. How the phck did he know I shaved?”
“Er... I might have... don’t be mad, don’t be mad! I gave him access to my peripherals. He can see and sense whatever I do. Poor devil, he’s been immobile for so long. I thought it was only fair to give him some stimuli.”
A lesser man might have found objections to that, but all Gavin did was spit in the sink and pull Connor in for a celebratory kiss.
From that point on, there was new zeal behind their efforts. Gavin furiously wracked his brains for any residual knowledge, any subconscious memory that might explain why Cyberlife had placed the RK900 behind such bars.
But nothing came to mind.
Then North had come knocking on their door.
She shoved past Gavin and barged into their living room. Her brown eyes swept over the prone figure on the couch (now swaddled in fluffy blankets) and pierced through the guilty-looking pair.
“How dare you keep this from me?”
“You found what we were looking for all along and now you want to keep the glory all for yourself? I should have known not to trust a human.”
“The hell are you talking about?”
“Don’t play dumb, Reed. This is the Singularity. Cyberlife’s crown jewel.”
“North, I love you, but you sound crazy. He’s just another unlucky experiment and we’re just helping-”
Connor held a hand out.
“What did you say he was?”
“Technological Singularity. I mean, that’s what they used to say about androids in general, Con. Artificial intelligence equivalent or greater to human intellect. But this unit you took from that warehouse... is the holy grail of robotics.”
[Really? I’m more of a digital vegetable at this point than anything else.]
“I went over all our plans again. Every single one of them. My Tracis helped me run through every alternative direction our search could have gone. It all led back to that warehouse! We didn’t end up in the wrong place, guys. We just didn’t know what we were looking for... and it’s that android lying on your overstuffed and ugly couch.”
[Your friend has an excellent sense of humor.]
“North, that makes no sense. He’s not some tech marvel. We can’t even get him awake. There’s too many interlocking protocols preventing-”
Gavin trailed off as realization dawned. He turned to face his boyfriend and found his thoughts mirrored in Connor’s awestruck expression. There was no reason for an ordinary android to have security measures that prevented activation.
They ushered North out of the apartment and began another one of Gavin’s ten-hour coding sprints.
The result was a shockingly simple landing page. An activation code request. Merely six digits of alphanumeric input.
So close… yet so far.
[Go to bed, Gavin. I’ll still be here in the morning.]
Connor pulled the human even closer and clamped his mouth over his throat. Gavin sucked air sharply in through his teeth, tipping his head back to offer more access.
That certainly brought them into the bedroom.
Their clothes landed on the floor in no time and they ended up wound tightly together... breathing and moving against each other in sync... reveling in the intimacy after a long break.
Gavin moaned as a hundred sweet nothings were whispered into the crook of his neck.
“I never thought we would be this close.”
“I knew you were kind... but I’d have never dreamed of receiving this love.”
The honeyed voice was laden with emotion that was a shade deeper than expected. Gavin stroked the handsome face and pressed kisses to the perfect cheekbones... closed eyelids... plush lips...
He pulled back to gauge the reaction and the android on top of him sighed blissfully, eyes fluttering open.
Brilliant, sheer, piercing, icy steel blue.
A lesser man might have screamed... jumped out of bed... or maybe just fainted in shock... but Gavin leaned back in... somehow at peace with the fact that the lips on his were Connor’s but there was someone else kissing him...
The rest of their lovemaking was something profound.
The climax was monumental.
Gavin couldn’t prevent the name that escaped his mouth nor the tears that streamed down his face. Connor pulled out with an uncharacteristic roar and fell onto the mattress, LED cycling furiously and chest heaving as his system reset. He blinked several times to restore the chocolate brown irises.
“What the phck did we just do?”
Data - As The World Falls Down
♫ - As The World Falls Down - David Bowie
For MJ, @okamiredfoxx , I hope you enjoy! ♡
"Hey, Y/N, you like those old 20th century-era films, right?" Geordi had asked you, and you looked up from your station in the engineering bay.
"I do?" you smiled at your friend, knowing he and Argyle were bound to be debating something, as per each day there was always something. Always.
"What would you say then," Argyle began, turning to you with a smile as he continued. "is the best film to come from that era of Earth?"
You sat wide eyed at the two men who waited for your answer. You hadn't thought anybody else had an interest in 1900s/2000s era film, especially given the time frame currently. Still, you chuckled to yourself, a definitive answer that never wavered rolling off your tongue.
Argyle chuckled. "Labyrinth?" He repeated, almost confused. "Like Pans Labyrinth with the hand guy?" He placed the backs of his hands against his eyes and motioned Pale Man's actions, leaving you laughing as Geordi swatted his arm.
"No, Y/N means the film about the goblin city and the girl who's brother is stolen by the goblin king, right?" Geordi nodded at you and you smiled back, nodding too.
"That one exactly, Geords."
"Huh," Argyle shrugged and smiled along with the both of you. "I still think it's Interstellar."
The three of you began working once more in a comfortable silence, and unbeknownst to you, a certain android had been listening to your conversation in its entirety.
Data was an enigma, but despite everything, the two of you were close. You'd begun talking to Data through Geordi, usually Data would be there when you had your meet ups in Ten Forward, not that you had minded. You found the man fascinating, he had such impartial views on everything, and he was knowledgeable about most topics, so he made for good conversation. Soon enough, you found yourself in Data's company more and more without the presence of anyone else; be that walks through the ship simply talking, or jaunts on various holodeck programmes, you were just happy to be with him. You hoped, though he didn't feel human emotion, he felt the same in his own rights.
Data watched you leave early for your lunch break, and walked to his friend.
"Geordi, may I inquire about your conversation with Lieutenant Y/N?" Data asked, and Geordi placed his hand on Data's shoulder.
"Of course, go right ahead."
Data asked him about your interest specifically, and what Labyrinth was all about. As Geordi recounted the plot, and all the fine details Data asked for in between, Geordi look quizzically at his friend.
"You planning on a movie night, Data? I would recommend it, but there are also far better films out there than that, in my humble opinion."
As Geordi laughed to himself, Data simply nodded.
"Thank you, Geordi."
You hadn't seen Data the next day, and when you had, it had been fleeting in the hall; usually your work meant you'd run into him almost hourly. You would be lying if you said it hadn't made you a little sad, but still, you carried on with your day, assuming that Captain Picard had given him more tasks than usual. What you didn't know in that moment, however, was how wrong you were.
Sighing, you entered your quarters and breathed out; another day was over and you could finally relax. You'd been enjoying your shift and the company was great, that much wasn't being disputed, but you found yourself simply longing for a nap. Exhausted, you asked the computer to dim the lights and made your way to the bed.
Upon entering your room, however, your eyes wandered to the package on your bed; a silver box tied neatly with a light blue bow. Attached was a note, seemingly handwritten in copperplate text.
'For tonight, 20:00 hours. Holodeck three. - Commander Data.'
Twiddling the note in your hands for a couple of seconds, you smiled to yourself. Everything that man did made you love him one bit more, though each and every time you would state that was impossible. Untying the bow delicately, it fell off and you opened the lid to reveal a mass of material, shimmering even under the dim light. Confused, you pulled it out of the box to reveal it was in fact a dress. As you lifted it, it unravelled fully and you could see the intricacies of the pleating combined with the embroidery, instantly recognisable to you; it was Sarah's dress from Labyrinth. A breath of shock left you as you stared at the dress in disbelief. The box also held her hairpiece, replicated with an accuracy you hadn't thought possible. Sleep was now the last thing on your mind.
8pm had rolled around both far too quickly and not quick enough for you. The halls were fairly empty as you stepped out of your quarters. Nerves overtook you as you approached the holodecks, but you couldn't think why. It was just another holo-adventure with Data, you'd done those before. The uncertainty of what he had planned was what got to you, though you knew it was more excited nerves than bad ones. Finally reaching the door, it opened for you and you gasped.
The light hit your eyes and the sounds of soft music came from inside. You stepped in, lifting the bottom of your skirt as you did so. Looking round, your eyes were met with people dancing everywhere. Tables and chairs littered the outside of the dancefloor, adorned with different foods and embellishments. Your eyes couldn't scan quick enough, every little detail was beyond accurate and you couldn't quite believe you were stood in your favourite film scene of all time.
Looking around, you failed to see Data, far too many people were spinning by you as you walked. A few offered their hands to dance but you declined politely, still searching for the android. Eventually, your eyes landed on him, and he approached you slowly, a mask covering his face. The closer he got to you, he reached his hand out, the music still playing softly around you. Taking his hand, Data lowered his mask and you saw his face; it was beautiful at the best of times but in the light of the ballroom he looked all the more handsome.
"Hello there," you spoke softly, unable to contain your happiness. Data nodded at you.
"Good evening, I am glad you showed up." His voice was low, but you heard him well despite the noise and giggled.
"As though I could say no."
Data began to sway you to the music, and you placed your hand on his shoulder and his free one laid on your waist. A gentleman, it never faltered either. As the two of you danced, Data leaned in closer to you and began to hum along, clearly having memorised the film beforehand. You instinctively curled closer to his chest, until his chin rested atop your head and you swayed in comfortable silence. The android slowly began to sing the lyrics, quietly, but definitely there.
"I'll place the sky, within your eyes..." Data trailed off as you lifted your head to look at him, astounded more than anything that the android had sung. Not only that, but he had a lovely singing voice, too.
"There's such a fooled heart, beating so fast; in search of new dreams, a love that will last.."
"I'll place the moon, within your heart." You cut him off with your own sing along, and you saw a faint hint of a smile present on his face.
Data spun you round, your skirt flowing around you seconds later, and danced just as you'd expect, with precision and correctness. The same smile never left your face as the dance continued, the two of you working around the others perfectly, as though you had done this a thousand times before. That was what you loved about him the most, that no matter what was happening or what you were doing, Data made everything comfortable. Never once had anything felt foreign, and you had just clicked with him instantly. He felt homely, and made you feel safe whenever he was around, and times like this made you realise why you'd fallen for him in the first place.
"Y/N, may I have your attention for a second?" He asked, pulling you out of your slight daydream as you stepped with each other calmly once more.
"As ever, Data, of course."
"I have been meaning to tell you this for a while now, though I did not know how best to approach such a subject. Upon consulting Geordi, I believe this was the best way to do it," Data gestured to the program, a more serious tone to his voice. He continued. "I recalled you mentioning that Jim Henson's work was among your favourites from the 20th century, in particular Labyrinth. I wished for this to be perfect for you, because that is what I believe you deserve."
"Data?" you questioned softly, looking the android in the eye as he carried on his speech.
"Since we began to talk more often, I realised that we got along very well, and you were very willing to listen to me talk; I cannot recall one time you have ever cut me off or told me to stop talking, for which I thank you. But, I have come to realise it is more than that. Though I do not have emotions, what I feel for you I know is true, and it most certainly is there. I believe, in my own way, I have come to care for you a great deal, and in human terms, I am sure that it is love. I love you, Y/N."
Your eyes were brimmed with tears, nothing but adoration in your eyes for the man stood before you. You stood shocked at his declaration, smiling nonetheless. Letting go of his hand, you wrapped your arms around his neck and pulled him closer. On your prompt, Data's arms wound themselves around your waist, keeping you against him as you spoke against his ear.
"And here I was, thinking this was purely one sided." You chuckled, and he pulled you back to look at you. No matter the time of day he found you beautiful, and right now Data couldn't deny to himself that such a fact was still true.
"Does that mean you also feel the same? That you.." For the first time ever, you cut him off, unable to contain the happy feelings you had.
"I do, I love you, Data."
On instinct, the android leant in and captured your lips with his own, and you took his face in your hands. The kiss was bliss, the sounds around you adding to the atmosphere, and this time neither of you could keep the small smiles off your faces. Pulling back, Data kept you held close to him, dancing with you once more.
"But I'll be there for you," he sang once more, and you rested your head against his chest and joined in.
"As the world falls down."
Schools in Session [Bayverse Donnie]
Summary: You had managed to hack into Baxter’s emails by doing the unthinkable. Dressing up a hot collage girl. And with this new outfit, you might have found something out about your boyfriend that you didn’t think he had.
Warning! This is smutty one! If you UNDER 18!! UNDER 18! Please leave! NSFW! NSFW! NSFW!
Bayverse! Donnie x Female! Cosplaying College Student! Reader
You knew that no matter what, you had to do what you had to get to get information from a guy working for Shredder.
Even if that meant dressing up as sexy school girl to fit into a group of cosplayers to get it. No matter how cold or kind of humiliating it got. So, as you went over the emails you managed to steal from Baxter Stockman’s tablet, you called your boyfriend Donatello, or Donnie as he liked to go by.
“Hey baby. How did it go?” Donnie asked as he immediately picked up the phone.
“Hey babe. I’m looking over the data from Baxter’s IPad.” You said into the microphone of the headphones you plugged into your phone so no on else could hear him and you could look over the rest of the files you managed to read.
“You got in, great. What did you find?”
“Hold on, wait.” You blinked as all the emails began to disappear from your phone, like it was all being deleted. “Donnie, the files are erasing themselves. It looks like some sort of self-destruction program.”
‘Erasing?” Donnie muttered in confusion through the earbuds.
“Look, before they started erasing, I managed to read a few of Baxter’s emails, and I was right. Baxter Stockman is working with Shredder and the Foot Clan. Shredder is being transferred to a high state prison in upstate New York. And the Foot Clan plan on hitting the convoy.” You spoke softly, pacing back and forth as you talked to your boyfriend, ignoring the way some people looked at you Especially some guys.
“They’re gonna break him out of police custody..” Donnie said as it hit him.
“Who Donnie?” Leo asked in the background.
“Shredder.” Donnie said to his brothers, his voice hard. The last thing any of them needed was Shredder breaking free and raining havoc on the city again like he did a year ago. Years of training, and they barely survived him the first time with luck. They might stand a better chance this time, but they didn’t want to chance it. And neither did you.
“Look, just get out there and stop him. I’m headed to the lair now.” You said and started walking out of the subway and onto the streets.
“Okay, be careful babe. We’ll seen you soon.” Donnie said to you, making you smile and your heart flutter. You loved it when he called you those small pet names.
“You be safe to Donnie. I’ll see you soon.” You said and hung up, wrapping your earbuds around your phone and stuffing the device in your bra so you didn’t risk having it stolen out of your hand.
You had arrived a few minutes after the boys did. How did you know? Cause you could hear them talking frantically about Shredder disappearing. Being careful, you climbed down from the pipes and into the lair, where you saw the turtles surrounding Donnie at his computer, who was muttering and typing away furiously.
“I’m guessing it was a failure?” You asked, stopping beside Raph, who grunted in acknowledgment. He looked down at you and choked on his breath, making you raise an eyebrow at him.
“What the hell are ya wearing?” He asked you, and you looked down at yourself, before looking back up at him with a small grin.
“Had hack a tablet with the help of some cosplayers. And had to fit in to do it.” You grinned and pulled the black cropped cardigan closer to your body when a shudder washed over your body. He chuckled and held his fist, which you raised yours and bumped against his.
“Alright, let’s get some shut eye. We’ll go back out tomorrow night and start looking for Shredder. We have to capture him before something bad happens.” Leo said, giving you a nod of greetings and goodbye as he walked to his room. Raph patted your shoulder and Mikey waved goodbye as they headed towards their own room. Leaving you and Donnie, who muttered and continued to type on his computer.
“Come Donnie, you should head to bed to.” You tugged on his arm, making him mutter and sigh, his typing slowing down before he was just sitting at his computer, starring at the screen with the vide still frozen with Shredder being sucked through a portal. “Come on, you must be tired.” You muttered and rested your cheek on his shoulder.
“Yeah, okay.” He said and turned to you, but he eyes widened and he sputtered in shock when he saw what you were wearing. His green flushed heavily and he felt his hands get clampy and sweat when you bent down, giving him a concerned look. Donnie’s eyes flickered around, looking anywhere but your exposed cleavage.
“You good babe?” You asked and your hand over his sweaty forehead, checking to make sure he wasn’t running a fever. You watched as he nodded frantically, trying to form words, but he couldn’t. You thought over what happened, and what caused the reaction, and you began to smirk a little bit.
“Your positive?” You gave him a sly smirk and moved to lean back against his desk. You managed to sneakily moved the cropped cardigan away from your stomach and chest, exposing your smooth skin. To add effect to your teasing, you moved a leg out, showing him the thigh high black stockings and the black pumps you wore. You watched in glee as he froze and his eyes slowly trailed up your leg, over your exposed thigh, over your stomach and chest, before making eye contact.
A heat washed over your body when you saw the shadow of lust and desire in his hazel colored eyes. Sure, you loved how sweet and loving Donnie was, but seeing those emotions in his eyes, was a big turn on. When he saw your coy smile, he blushed and coughed, breaking eye contact and he leaped up from his, and fumbled back when it toppled to.
“Well, uh, goodnight babe. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He spoke quickly, kissed your cheek and practically ran to his room, your laugh echoing behind him.
Man, you thought taking down Shredder was hard the first time, this last battle was even harder. To put it simply, you had to help the boys stop Shredder, two new mutants and a alien brain thing called Kraang from taking over New York. The boys exposed themselves and made allies with the Police in the long run, which you were happy about.
You met a new guy, Cassey Jones, who was a huge flirt. But he was quick to back down when Donnie growled at him and curled you close to his side, hand resting right under your breast, where he could feel your steady beating heart. You were starting to like this primal side of your boyfriend. The night when you interacted with Donnie, dressed as sexy school girl was still fresh on your mind. And you knew it was on his mind to, cause he would blush a lot and sputter in his speech, which you found adorable as fuck. So when this whole ordeal ended, you had a plan. A great plan.
Weeks passed after the big failed invasion and the City was still being repaired, but luckily tonight, was the first date you and Donnie would have. You both liked to have at least one date, every week, any day, just the two of you. Sometimes he would take you the highest thing in the city and sit there to stargaze. Or he would take you the Collage campus, break in and have fun swimming in the dark with the only lights in the pool. It was always something sweet and romantic.
But tonight, was so gonna be different. In a good way though.
You heard the window open, followed by the small thump of someone landing on the ground. You knew it was Donnie, cause 1:) the other brothers knock on your window and 2:) you would hear the way he moved. He was light, like Leo but a little heavy in his foot steps and landing.
“Baby? You here?” You heard Donnie call out, no doubt noticing how you didn’t greet him instantly. You always greeted him when he came over. So not seeing you was concerning him.
“In the bathroom.” You called back, adding the last remaining makeup to your face. He shuffled around, before walking into your room, and instantly noticed something was off. You had arranged your bed neatly, candles were lit, giving off a very pleasant scent and the fairy lights around your room where on giving off a soft purple color.
“So, where do you want to go tonight? The campus, Lady Liberty?” Donnie asked as he sat down on your bed. You smirked and ran your hands down your sides, making sure everything was in position before adding the last needed necessary accessory to your face.
“Actually, I thought we could something a little different tonight Donnie~” You purred his name and opened your bathroom door and stepped out, leaning against the doorframe.
Donnie looked up from his phone and he froze, his phone slipping from his hand and landing on the ground when he saw you before him with a sly smirk. Like that time all those weeks ago, his eyes moved from your feet and up.
You were barefooted, but you wore a pair of ink black, see through stockings that stopped at your mid thighs, with purple lace bows on the top. You wore a purple and black plaid mini skirt. It was so short, he could see your inner thighs and the purple lace panties underneath. A dark purple crepe tie front cropped shirt was wrapped around your chest with the sleeves hanging off your shoulder with the straps of the lace black and purple bra you wore being the only thing on your shoulders. A purple bow was in your hair and a pair of black glasses settled on your nose.
“Woah...” He whispered in awe, mouth gaped open in shock. Smirking, you made your way over to him, hips swaying slowly. Donnie’s eyes watched hungrily as you swayed your way over to him, loving the way your hips swayed and your waist move.
"What do you think?" You asked and stood in front of him with a hand on your hip, and pushed the fake glasses up on your nose.
"You look.....hot." He breathed out, his eyes wondering over your body, the same look of lust and desire in his eyes that caused a wave of heat to travel through your body. Reaching out, you grasped his shoulders and moved, settling down on his lap. His larger hands grasped your waist instantly, fingers rubbing against your soft skin.
“Especially in your color?” You muttered, fingers moving over his shoulders to tug on the bandana tails softly, making him grunt slightly when his head was tugged back by your pulling. But he didn’t mind, not in the slightest.
“Especially in my color.” He confirmed it with a heavy growl, leaning his head forward to place his lips on your neck, right between your shoulder and neck. Sighing softly, your arms weaved around his neck, pushing your chest up against his plastron, hips grinding down on his.
Already, you could fell his hard on pressing up against the apex of your thighs. He wasn’t even undressed and already, you could feel your body warming right up. You two haven’t really had sex a bunch, but you have. He did things to your body that no man, human man, could compare to ever. It had crossed your mind before, and you were quick to get rid of it. If you had a choice to chose any person in the world to love, cherish and worship you, it would always be Donnie.
“Donnie.” You moaned when his hands moved from your waist to grip your thighs and squeeze your flesh. He smirked against your neck, and with a burst of confidence, his hands slid around your hips and gripped your ass, squeezing and kneading at the round mounds of muscle and skin.
You had this whole evening planned out. You planned on how you were gonna tease him, stroke him, lick him, suck him. Deny him him what he wanted. You had it all planned. But you should have known, that the moment you moved to straddle his hips and he started placing butterfly kisses on your neck and his hands squeezed your thighs and ass. All thoughts of teasing and playing flew out your mind. And honestly, you could care less right now.
“Got all prettied up for me..” He groaned slowly and grinded up into your hips, hands holding your hips in place. He wanted to be in control. He wanted to be the dominant one this time. And be the dominate one he shall.
The friction made between your legs made you squirm against him and pant heavily, eyes closing. His lips tailed over your jaw and connected to your lips, pulling you into a mind boggling kiss that made you wetter and your head spin. His hands moved from your ass and weaved over your stomach, leaving hot trails behind and he undid the knot keeping the shirt in place around your chest. Without breaking contract from the kiss, he practically ripped the shirt off of you and tossed it to the ground, making you whine.
“That was my favorite.” You muttered against his mouth, your words being replaced with a moan as he grabbed your breasts and kneaded into them like he did with your ass. Blindly, you worked on removing his glasses and bandana from his face, setting them gently on the table beside the bed. Oh how you were glad he removed all the other gear on his body and on the back of his shell for tonight except for his bandana, goggles and purple silk fabric around his arm.
Donnie nibbled on your lips, his tongue moving past your lips to explore your mouth. Leaving your breasts for a moment, he unclasped the bra and took it off, tossing it somewhere in the room. Pulling out of the heated kiss, his head ducked down and he licked and kissed your right breast, his other hand giving your left breast the same attention. Gnawing on your bottom lip, you pulled him closer as your head leaned back, eyes closed in bliss. He was still grinding up into your hips in a slow pace that drove you mad.
You yelped in shock when Donnie turned suddenly, and pinned you to the bed with him above you, straddling you between your legs. When he smirked down at you, your inner walls clenched in excitement, and you bit your lip, wiggling your hips against him, earning a soft moan in return. Your hands slid over his muscularly arms and shoulders, but he seized your wrists and pinned them above your head with only one hand. The fairy lights that casted a soft purplei glow in the room just heightened the lust in his eyes. It made him look more sexy if anything.
“No touching.” He growled lowly down at you, eyes dark in lust. You swallowed, butterflies erupting in excitement in the pit of your stomach as he unwrapped the purple fabric wrapped around his arm and bound your wrists, then tied them to the headboard so you couldn’t move your arms. (We all know you would hat thing for a lot of things.)
“That’s not fair.” You whined as you tugged on the fabric keeping your wrists bound, but the slight smirk on your face told Donnie otherwise. He knew you liked it. Being tied up like this, especially by the fabric he liked to keep wrapped around his arm. It excited you to the core.
“Things aren’t fair.” He smirked and moved your hair away from your face, softly moving it above your hair. He kneeled above you, taking in your beauty. E/c eyes that gleamed in excitement and reflected the purple from the lights with your h/c hair pooled around you like a halo. Swallowing, he cuffed your cheek and leaned closer, placing a soft kiss your lips that made you melt.
“Your so beautiful.” He muttered, making you blush at his words. He always made sure to tell you that everyday since you started dating. He loved to shower you in compliments, like your eyes, your skin and eyes. Donnie was such a softie and despite him always saying these sweet things everyday, they always made you blush and feel like you were the luckiest girl in the world. Which you were.
“So are you.” You muttered, gazing up at the huge turtle hovering above you. The way his eyes ate you up, his big hands basically circling around your entire waist. You loved the way how good his green skin contrasted against your own soft skin, with him kneeled perfectly between your thighs. You loved everything about him so much. You didn’t care if he was a turtle or not. It was the way he treated you that made you love him. Besides, he was very handsome.
Donnie chuckled and kissed you softly, that began to get more and more heated by the second. His hands moved over your waist, before gripping your hips and puling them up so he could move up a little bit, the tip of his knees right under the curve of your ass.
Throwing your head back against the bed, you broke the kiss and moaned softly as his fingers dug into your sensitive hips, before trailing over your thighs and moved to your still covered core. He began to trail his lips over your neck and down your shoulder and between your breasts, eyes watching the way your face scrunched up at his touches. One massive finger brushed over your core, feeling just how soaked you were already.
“So wet already dove~” He purred his pet name for you against your chest, sliding further down, tongue flickering out to lick a few small swirls around your belly button, before continuing down. Panting, you lifted your head, watching though half open eyes as he effortlessly lifted your lips, pulling your legs to rest over his massive shoulders, all the while keeping eye contact with you.
Mooning his name softly, he bunched your purple and black plaid skirt up around your hips and pressed his snout against your underwear, taking in a deep breath, your sweet musk filling his nose. He could get drunk off your scent forever. So sweet and heavenly. He bet you tasted better than you smelled.
Swallowing heavily, you watched as Donnie closed his eyes and took in another breath through his nose, before he nudged your underwear aside with a finger. A breathy moan left you when his finger slowly entered you, thumb pressed against your sensitive nub.
“Fuck.” You breathed out as he filled you fully. And this was only his finger filling you, not his cock. Heat washed through your face and body at the sounds from between your legs as he rocked his thick digit in and out your warm heat. You were so focused on his finger, you didn’t feel his thumb move away until you felt the pad of his tongue press against you.
“F-fuck, Donnie.” You panted, eyes squeezing shut as heat spread through your belly like fire. Tugging on the silk fabric wrapped around your wrists, you wiggled your hips, trying to get more friction from him. He chuckled against you, the vibrates added to the pleasure that coiled up in the pit of your stomach that approached rapidly. But Donnie sensed when you were at your peak and pulled out of you, earning a frustrated groan from you.
“You f-fucking dick.” You growled at him, watching him smirk and drop one of your legs from his shoulder. Rolling your hips against nothing, you tried to get that sweet release you had been denied, but it wouldn’t come. You watched with hungry as eyes he sat up on his knees, and undid the belt around his pants and slid them down his thick legs.
“Like what you see?” He teased as he moved his knees out of them and kicked his pants away and his boxers, leaving him bare, kneeling before you. Licking your lips, you nodded silently, gaze narrowed onto his hard cock. He wasn’t huge, but he was still as thick as your arm and long. You felt your mouth water when he leaned down and picked up your loose leg and moved it to rest on his arm, while his other arm came to rest beside your head, hand moving to fist your hair in a tight, but soft grip.
A soft gasp left your parted lips when he moved your underwater aside again and pushed just the head in and paused. Grinding your teeth together, you lifted your hips, needing him fully in you. You wanted it so bad. You craved it. Donnie tugged on your hair and you looked up at him with a soft whine. He slammed his lips down onto yours and snapped his hips forward, filling you completely in one thrust, making you mewl in absolute pleasure into his mouth.
Moving your leg more up his arm, spreading you further, he pulled back and slammed into you. It wasn’t a steady pace like it usually was. No, this was primal. Fast. Hard. This wasn’t the normal love making, this was him marking you. You were his. His mate.
He grunted against your lips when he slammed into your cervix, hitting just all the right places. Donnie removed his lips from yours and instead moved to your neck, lips sucking and biting on your jugular, earning a moan of pleasure as you rocked your hips up into his, taking him in deeper. Your walls clenched around as he thrusted into you, pelvis connecting with your pelvis.
“Donnie, ohmygod, Donnie!” You gasped, throwing your head back and arching up against him as he pounded into your hot core. That same spring came back into your lower stomach each time he moved into you. You couldn’t even find yourself to be embarrassed when you heard the noises between your legs or how desperate you sounded. All you cared about, was his hips against yours and giving you the release you craved so bad.
“Cum for me baby. Cum for me.” Donnie hissed as he gripped your thigh in a bruising grip, hips grinding into you before pulling back, leaving the head in, before thrusting back in, earning another moan of his name. The headboard was slimming into the wall, no doubt keeping the neighbors up, but he didn’t care. Neither of you did.
“Please, please!” You panted desperately, pulling on the purple silk wrapped around your wrists. He understood you need and underdid the knot, lettings your arms free. Ignoring the ache in your shoulders, you wrapped your arms around his shoulders, pulling him as close as you could to your body that was lined with sweat.
The spring coiled, and finally snapped. With a scream that no doubt woke the rest of the apartment building, Donnie slammed his hips into yours and spilled himself deep into your womb. Panting heavily above you, he twitched as ropes and ropes of his life essence filled you to the brim. He even felt some of your combined slick run down your thighs and onto the bed sheets, but he didn’t care.
“Holy...” You panted, relaxing into the bed, arms shaking as you slowly unwound them from his neck and laid on the bed, chest heaving up and down with your panting's.
“You okay? I wasn’t to rough was I?” Donnie asked you softly as he moved his arm out from under your leg and rubbed the muscles in your calf and thigh, before moving the leg that was thrown over his shoulder. When you nodded breathlessly, he chuckled and kissed the side of your knee, fingers rubbing your thigh and hip to help loosen up the quivering muscles.
“That was perfect. You know, I had...this whole evening planned out on how I was gonna tease you..but as you can tell, that didn’t work out very well..” You chuckled and rubbed your eyes, not caring if you smeared the eyeliner of purple eyeshadow. Donnie laughed and dropped your leg softly, before working on removing your skirt and underwear so you were completely bare. Not caring for once on the the after clean up, he moved you under the blankets and crawled under them, pulling you into his arms.
“Maybe next time babe.” He muttered as he settled down into the mattress, that creaked a bit in protest. You curled up against him plastron with his arms wrapped around your body, keeping your close. Smiling, you kissed his plastron, right above his heart, before closing your eyes, your breathing back to normal.
Oof. Oof. Oof. Man, talk about hot. This is the first ever nsfw oneshot I’ve down, so please don’t hate! Hope you guys enjoyed it though!
Haunted by the Past Part 48
Brighton: Who the hell is this and how did you get past the block?
Nemo: My identity is not important.
Nemo: You have been speaking with my associate and I am here to set some ground rules for how things are to proceed.
Brighton: Ah, my staff told me that you are quite spunky. They admire your tenacity.
Brighton: I have to say it is quite admirable how you two will defend each other.
Brighton: State your demands.
Nemo: In order for this operation to go ahead, we will require physical access to a terminal within the Senate's local network. Your staff will assist in this matter to ensure access and safety.
Brighton: I take it that will be you?
Nemo: It will be one of our associates.
Brighton: Yes, of course.
Nemo: No data will be distributed until the associate has returned unharmed. Failure to comply will result in certain materials being sent to the media.
Brighton: You do understand my staff cannot be found to have any connection to you, otherwise this entire scheme fails.
Nemo: That is up to you to work out. I have provided you with our stipulations.
Nemo: Now for the terms of immunity.
Brighton: Did you read the drafts?
Brighton: You didn’t, did you?
Nemo: Those materials provided could not be trusted.
Brighton: I can send you the files, if he'll let me.
Jake shook his head, “Tell him to upload them to the server.”
Nemo: Upload the files to the server.
Brighton: Fine, I’ll give him 5 minutes and then they’ll be removed. Starting now.
Jake flipped screens on his monitor and began typing away.
Brighton: You'll see it is full immunity for Jake from the moment he originally obtained Hathaway’s communiques to now. Not a lot to discuss there.
Nemo: We need further proof that you'll meet your end of the bargain before we can begin.
Brighton: Very well. Give me a moment.
Jake leant back in the chair as a PDF opened on his monitor. It was the same version that I saw the other day. He started to look it over, then frowned, “There’s a lot of legal nonsense in this.”
“We're up against lawyers, we need our own,” I sighed. “Can you find the one my brother referred to?”
“Maybe?” Jake picked up his phone and opened up my brother’s chat log with me. “He wasn’t very specific.”
“I'll see if I can get more out of him later,” I went back to my phone.
Brighton: 55552472 12374838 BoA
“Jake, I don’t know what this is,” I showed him my phone.
He put down his and took mine, “That’s a bank account and PIN. Give me a minute.” Jake typed away at his computer, then he opened a browser on his screen and used the credentials to log into the account. It asked for two-step authentication. “Really, genius?”
Suddenly my phone beeped with the code, “97352.”
Jake typed in the code and waited for the account to load. “I thought I masked your number,” he grumbled.
We both looked at the screen confused. “20,000? Is this for real?”
“He knows I can wipe it immediately,” Jake frowned.
Nemo: What sort of trap is this?
Brighton: It’s not theft if it’s your own money.
Nemo: I didn’t have this much in savings.
Brighton: He did. And more.
Brighton: Cards are on their way. Should arrive tomorrow into PO Box 117 in Duskwood.
Brighton: Don’t let me catch either one of you using stolen details again. They won’t be covered by the immunity.
Brighton: He never told you how much he was earning for the brief time he was employed, did he?
Brighton: It is a shame things went down the path that it did. He had a very promising future.
Brighton: I can’t guarantee his reputation will be salvaged at the end of all of this, but if you two don’t screw around, he should be able to regain a piece of that respect in the industry.
Brighton is offline.
I looked over at Jake, who was still confused by the bank account. “Um, it’s apparently from your seized account. We're to receive cards via PO Box 117 tomorrow.”
“My money?” Jake looked at me baffled. “No, there are strings on this. We can’t use those cards.”
I sighed, “Any credit card theft from here won’t be covered by the immunity.”
“Damnit!” Jake hit his fist on the desk.
“Hey, they know we’re in Duskwood. We’ll hit the ATM and drain the account dry. Then we can get rid of the cards,” I smiled.
Jake looked back at me and grinned, “Thanks for reminding me why I love you so much.”
I put my phone down and climbed onto his lap straddling him. My nose was just touching his, “Did you really need reminding?”
“No, but it’s still nice to be reminded why we’re such a good team,” he smiled.
“Brighton suggested there was a lot more where that came from,” I commented.
Jake caressed my cheek, “If it hasn’t been touched, sure. Plenty to start new lives. I have some of it earmarked already though.”
“For what?” I asked curiously.
He smirked, “You'll see when the time comes.”
“You know how I feel about that phrase,” I glared.
“I’m not budging on this one,” he pecked my lips. “Now before we get too distracted, you should get that lawyer's details. I'll make sure your connection is properly tunnelled, you contact your brother via Messenger, and I’ll clean the history so keep it short. Then we can reconvene and discuss our situation.”
“Mmhmm, reconvene? In the bedroom?” I smiled.
“Bedroom, living, kitchen, this very room, wherever you would like,” Jake tilted his head.
“Really? I'm surprised you'd even consider the desk,” I laughed.
“Oh you’re not allowed to be near the desk and computers. There is plenty of other space in this room,” he gestured. “Plenty of space to play with.” I smiled and kissed him deeply. He pushed me away, “But you need to complete your task first.”
I pouted and said sarcastically, “Yes Master.”
Jake twitched beneath me. “Don’t do that.”
I smirked and leant over to whisper in his ear, “What’s wrong with calling you Master?”
He twitched again and gulped, “That implies a certain level of...”
I grinned. Teasing him was too easy, “Ok Master.”
“MC!” he yelled and pushed me off. “G-go!”
“Go to my room?” I teased and picked up my phone. “If you say so... Master.”
Jake chased me out of his office. I ran off giggling. I looked back from the doorway of our bedroom. He stood in the doorway of his office with a hand gripping the frame. His eyes were very dark.
“I'll let you know when I’m done,” I waved my phone and went to plop down on the bed.
I could hear Jake closing the door, which he rarely did.
Jake: If you keep playing with fire you're going to get burned.
MC: That never has stopped any pyros.
Jake: Your phone is ready. Complete your task.
Jake is offline.
I grinned. He didn’t even give me a chance to slip another one in.
I had to take some real deep breaths to re-center myself.
MC: Hi bro.
Aaron: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?
MC: I can’t answer that right now. Can you send me the details for that lawyer?
Aaron: Are you ok? Are you hurt?
MC: Aaron, I’m ok. The lawyer? I don’t have a lot of time.
Aaron: Hang on, I have to message my friend.
Aaron: It might be a while before I get a response. Is that ok?
MC: Yes, just message the details when you have them.
Aaron: Of course!
Aaron: The lawyer’s name is Frank Singer. He'll send me the number later.
MC: Thank you, Aaron! Love you!
Aaron: Please, please come home!! I'll pay the fees! Just come home!
Aaron: Or message me where you are! I'll pick you up! No Mom questions, no Dad comments! I promise!
I bit my lip. I really missed the pain in the ass. Leaving the conversation there hurt so much, but I blinked and the log was gone. It was a bit unsettling how easily Jake could wipe history. What else could he also erase?
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The rapid scroll of data as it compiled filled Vlad with nostalgic warmth, as did Garrett’s presence. While Garrett set parameters and ensured everything started correctly, Vlad mentioned, “You said you’ve received puzzling information from your deep space explorer?”
“Yes, it was... unexpected, to say the least,” Garrett told him, absorbed in his work. “I’m still studying it, but from what I can gather, our world isn’t moving in synch with time as it should be. It’s a pretty substantial amount, not as much as what’s affecting Morgyn’s world, but it will still affect attempted manipulation here on our earth. Hopefully, in Aerie’s case, it won’t impede any attempts to retrieve him.”
“I see,” Vlad said, wisely volunteering nothing on the subject for fear of Felix scolding him.
“Vlad, are you so certain Felix wanted you to help Aerie get home?” Garrett asked, granting him his full attention and getting to the heart of the subject. “We’ll keep working on it of course, but we all know the chances him returning are extraordinarily slim. Do you think perhaps dad just wanted you to raise Aerie?”
“He couldn’t possibly!” Vlad scoffed, unable to entertain the thought of it. “Garrett, I’m simply not father material, and no one knows that better than Felix! Why, look at the terrible mess I made with my Symbiont children! And now Lilith pays the price for my foolishness, depriving her of her only chance to be a mother!”
Garrett just watched him, his brown eyes tranquil and far too knowing.
“You know, you’re not as bad as you like to think you are,” Garrett said, amused by his bluster. “You’ve done frankly awful things in your life, Vlad. And there are a lot of people who would gladly see you pay your dues, but there’s no rule saying you can’t turn a new page and start over. You don’t have to be who people think you are, or judge you to be. You’re free to change, and that’s something you know without me telling you.”
Vlad looked away, oddly chastened to be spoken to so kindly by a boy whose life he’d literally stolen.
“Making amends isn’t just saying you’re sorry,” Garrett said, glancing at his computer screen to spare Vlad the intensity of his look. “It’s becoming a better person than you were the day before, and being a force for positive change in a world that’s largely cruel to those who have the least defenses.”
From the Beginning
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Aerendyl Echo and this incredible laboratory by @dynastiasimss
Birthmark: Pt. 2
Pairing: Namjoon x Jimin
Genre: Soulmate!au, Sci-fi, Angst, Smut
Word Count: 6k
Summary: Namjoon, Hoseok and Yoongi were street punks pulling heists before they pulled the wrong one. Now, they have to drag a weird alien and his caretaker to another planet because otherwise the galaxy will fall into chaos. Oh, and the alien’s got the same birthmark as Namjoon. Weird, amiright?
Disclaimer: These works are completely fictitious and for entertainment purposes only. They are not meant to reflect or label the members of BTS in any way. The events within never took place. Thank you
Tags: Soulmates, smut, angst, Graphic Depictions of Violence (fight scenes), gun violence, alien!Jimin, alien!Jin, criminal activity, hacking, sci-fi, futuristic dystopia, repressed memories, mentions of war, mentions of traumatic pasts, mentions of mental illness, mental breakdowns, panic attacks, swearing/cursing,
A/N: I wanted to thank @erotikkook for beta-ing this and the first chapter for me! you’re the best! <3
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They grouped them together in the interrogation room. Namjoon found it particularly strange. Everything these guys did seemed off. When they arrested them, they did not force them into a cell immediately. They did not get a phone call, a lawyer, or even a damn sandwich. He knew Dee was going to kill him if she heard he got arrested again. Seeing the severity of their arrest, he knew she would eventually.
“We’re fucked,” hissed Hoseok, arms crossed over his chest. “If these bastards don’t kill us, Hutch will.”
“It’s your own damn fault we’re even here,” said Yoongi from the other side of Namjoon.
The shortest of the three, Yoongi's leather jacket and skinny jeans made him seem even smaller. Namjoon looked to the cybernetic plates in his hair. Black strands shaved on the sides, the small plates glowed a soft pink underneath his hair. “You good?” he asked him quietly.
“Fine,” Yoongi muttered. “Just the regular dose. Nothing to worry about.”
“They didn’t hit you too hard though, right? I don’t need that shit breaking inside your brain.”
He smirked, “No. They saw the plates and my medical card. They know better than to abuse a patient.”
“When the hell are they gonna come in here?” asked Hoseok.
“I thought you’d want to stay in here as long as possible. Hutch can’t get you from in here.”
“No way,” he looked to Yoongi. “You saw those government guys when we pulled up? The soldiers? This is some serious stuff.”
Before Yoongi could retort, the door opened. In walked an older man in a military uniform. Namjoon spotted the medals and patches on his front and saw the crew cut underneath his black beret. Namjoon recalled the soldiers they’d seen when they were escorted in. He found it strange to see so many soldiers. He expected other hardened criminals or militants; not government soldiers. He wondered if it had to do with why Rackham had Jimin in the first place.
“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” the officer said, sitting down in front of them. “I’m Colonel Harold Lee of Special Forces. State your names for the record, please.”
“Hm, good,” he folded his hands over the folder, “Gentlemen, I will cut to the chase: you are currently being charged with identity theft, computer hacking, breaking and entering, attempting to flee, assaulting officers, resisting arrest, kidnapping-”
“-Kidnapping?” Hoseok spoke up in bewilderment. “Who did we kidnap?”
“-And stealing government property. Now,” he put the paper aside, “Those are some hefty charges. Considering you three are habitual criminals, this recent crime can put you all away for a very, very, very long time.”
“Then why are we sitting here with a Colonel and not being processed?” asked Namjoon, leaning back in his chair. When the officer gave him a surprised look, he said, “Your badge. You’re a colonel.”
He gave Namjoon a long stare, then said, “Either of your parents served, boy?”
“No. I didn’t know them; they died when I was a kid. I used to see people like you around my orphanage growing up. You learn to notice the badges, medals and ribbons after a while.” He then said, “So, again: why are we talking to you and not halfway to prison by now?”
“Because we have a proposition for you.”
“We?” Yoongi spoke up, “You mean, the government?”
“Yes, I do, Mr. Min,” he nodded. “From looking at your records, I see you three have executed numerous heists over the years. You might get caught from time to time, but I’m sure there are plenty of them that aren’t on here, am I correct?”
“Mr. Min,” he looked at Yoongi, “You have broken into confidential files of mega corporations, extracted data from government and military computers, stole money from high security banks, and are credited with creating some of the most dangerous viruses out there. I think people like you are the reason we even have anti-virus software now. There are locals around here who say you tinker with high tech weaponry and cybernetics too.”
“I might have done all that.”
“You certainly showcased those skills today, and as an old man who has trouble with a holo communicator, I’m impressed.”
“Thanks, I guess?”
“Mr. Jung,” he turned to Hoseok, “You’re a real piece of work. Grand-theft auto, carjacking, breaking and entering, and theft charges left and right. Ha, you really like taking things that don’t belong to you.”
“I guess I’m just jealous of the people who have so many shiny things,” grinned Hoseok smugly.
“But you got a real good talent for it. We could use someone with those skills."
He finally returned to Namjoon, "And you're the leader of this whole thing."
"I suppose. I like to say we work as a team. It's how we pull off jobs."
Colonel Lee looked at another sheet. "Perfect test scores in all grades. 148 IQ level. Past college entrance exams with flying colors. Not to mention you ran in track and field; probably explains why my guys couldn't catch you. You apparently have a great deal of strength and combat skills from physical exams."
Hoseok snorted, "You have no idea. I've seen this guy take out three guys in a bar on his own. Nobody fights as well as Namjoon. Did you know he was-"
"-Shut up, Hobi," Namjoon hissed before he could finish. He then said, "Okay, you're impressed by us. So what? Are our special skills gonna get us out of here?"
"They will... if you accept our offer."
"What’s s your offer, sir?" Yoongi asked, still smirking. "Please, tell my best friends why you haven't tossed us in jail yet. Tell us why you were in Rackham Industries in the first place."
He studied Yoongi for a moment, "You know, then?"
"I might have found a few stolen case files in Rackham’s R&D department."
"I'm in confusion," said Hoseok.
Namjoon thought back to what Yoongi translated. "Jimin said he'd been kidnapped," he said. "That someone took him away. Did Rackham kidnap him from you guys?"
"Rackham is currently under investigation," he said, "And that's all I am going to tell you."
"You don't need to worry about him."
"Where is he? We went through a shit ton of trouble to end up finding him instead."
He sighed, "The asset is in protective custody."
"He didn't do anything wrong," said Namjoon. "They kidnapped him. They beat him. They probably planned on experimenting on him. He should be in a hospital or something getting checked out."
"He's under special care and he's not under arrest. But, he is important to us, especially due to recent events."
He pulled out a photo and placed it in front of him. A photocopy of a computer screen showed dozens of numbers and letters. Namjoon didn't understand any of it. It looked like a special code. He looked over at Yoongi, who he knew was already decoding it.
"A few days ago, we received this message via our comms system. Mr. Min, I'm sure you're able to translate right off the bat?"
Yoongi grabbed the folder and a pen, and began scribbling frantically. "It's a cypher code. I don't know the language but the format is the same," he copied the symbols across the folder's backside. "Did your people track down this code? Codes like this come from specific sources."
Namjoon took a look at it. "I know this language. It's Murdo. It's more common in the outer rim planets." He read it for them: "Humans, in two weeks time, we will be coming to take everything. Murdos will rise again'." He reread it to himself, then asked, "Why are Murdodans sending you messages?"
"To threaten us. Scouts around the outer rim have told us Murdos is slowly dying. They’ve created too many factories and are killing their environment. They've done the same on other moons and planets they'd conquered. They have unified as one tribe under a single leader."
"Murdodans don't unify."
"They do now. I guess they realized if they banded together instead of fighting amongst themselves, they'd be a force to be reckoned with. They said that they’ll destroy us and every planet they come across until they are the superior species."
Namjoon remembered Murdodans. A species of alien, they were large, green-skinned and had tusks of various sizes. On their homeplanet, they separated themselves into different tribes that quarreled over territory and resources. Namjoon only saw them on trips to the outer rim; they aren't allowed in a lot of center planets. He heard stories of them conquering smaller moons around their planet, and turning them into industrial wonders. Factories producing mechanical technology and weapons made decent living for themselves. Namjoon felt bad for anyone who lived on a Murdodan moon.
"They planned on using something called The Kyubeu, translated as The Cube," Colonel Lee continued. "We scouted them throughout their territory until our Archive Department contacted us and said they'd found it. They told us they'd found The Cube in some temple there and planned on studying it before the Murdodans attacked them. Thankfully, one of their top archaeologists took it before the Murdodans could acquire both key and Cube.”
“Key? You mean Jimin?”
“We think so. They lost a good chunk of their research when those thugs came barreling through.”
“So this means that they’ve been held off for now since we have the thing they want?” asked Yoongi.
“Then why don’t you fire it back at them?” Hoseok looked between them and the colonel, “Like, you got the key and the cube, right? Just fire or throw it at them or whatever that thing does.”
“We can’t,” he said.
“Because the archaeologist didn’t give it to the government,” Namjoon answered. “They gave it to someone else, didn’t they?”
Colonel Lee held back the glare, “Yes. He did. He said he did not trust us.”
“For good reason. I don’t blame him one bit.”
“He told us who he gave it to, but part of his terms is that he will not allow military forces to accompany him and the asset.”
“You keep calling him ‘the asset’,” Namjoon dared to glare. “He’s got a name.”
“In our files, he is the asset,” he remarked. “Anyways, Dr. Jeon handed it off to a trusted person he will not name, but has given us this person’s location. Our offer to your, gentlemen, is to escort Dr. Jeon and the asset to this location, then bring it back to us.”
“Why back to you?”
“So we can make sure the Murdodans do not get it. If it’s under military protection, it will stay out of dangerous hands.”
“And what makes us think military hands aren’t dangerous hands?” Yoongi asked. “The Cube holds immense power unlike anything we’ve ever seen. It was created by the Rituians thousands of years ago; they were technological geniuses. They created a device that could bring life back to dead planets. There are so many moons here that could be inhabited if they were given the proper resources. The homeless population would be almost non-existent if you guys left their shit alone.” He looked to the pair next to him, “I researched Ritua. They were such peaceful people, and the Murdodans and humans alike came and took life from them. They died out because we stole their water, their trees-”
“-You are to escort Dr. Jeon and the asset and bring back The Cube,” he interrupted him. “If you do this for us, we will clean your records.”
They paused and stared at him. A clean record sounded almost unheard of. Namjoon imagined the kind of life he could live if he did not have his sheet. The bank might finally give him a loan for his cybernetics shop. Yoongi can get a license to make them legally; Hoseok can start a mechanic shop and work on cars people actually give him. They can live normal lives.
He leaned forward, “You for real? Fully cleaned?”
“Yes. You can finally live as law-abiding citizens of society.”
He turned to the two on either side of him. He met Yoongi’s eyes first, seeing the skepticism inside the glimmer of hope. When he looked at Hoseok, the red-haired man tilted his head, disbelievingly.
“We also will give you compensation for your effort,” Colonel Lee told them. “And pay all expenses necessary.”
Compensation did not sound so bad. “We want it in writing,” Namjoon said, “Not on camera. Not recorded. On hard copy paper signed by you, your superiors, and whoever else signs off on this.”
“I already have those. You mean you’ll do it?”
He looked at his friends again. He refused to do the job without them. Ever since their teen years, they have stuck together. They both nodded, and he said, “Sur-”
The door bursts open halfway through. A young man in a brown leather jacket and buttoned shirt stormed into the room, giving each of them a scowl.
“Just who the hell do you three think you are?!” he asked them.
“Dr. Jeon,” Colonel Lee said, “You were told to wait outside.”
“Who sent you to take him?” the man ignored him. “Huh? Who? A kingpin? A local thug? Another scientist? Who? Who are you to be taking him like he’s some kind of object you can cart around everywhere?”
“We were there for the power thing,” said Namjoon, standing up to meet the man. “We didn’t know it was a person. We were getting him out of there!”
“And gonna hand him over to one of your low-life friends to abuse and sell, huh? He’s a person! Not a thing! Do you feel any sort of guilt for what you were gonna do?”
“Hey, we fucking saved his ass,” called out Hoseok, also getting out of his chair. “If we hadn’t come along, he’d be strapped to a chair and hooked up to a machine. You should be fucking grateful!”
“Grateful?" Dr. Jeon scoffed. "Grateful that the militants got to you before you could sell him? You should be lucky that I wasn’t there!”
“Oh yeah?" Hoseok challenged. "You planned on scanning us with your little bone scanner?”
“No, I would've sent your scrawny ass to the hospital!”
"Come at me, bitch!"
The scientist nearly jumped at Hoseok before Namjoon, Yoongi and Lee intervened. “Dr. Jeon! Dr. Jeon!” Lee called over him. “That is enough!”
He immediately understood why Lee was a Colonel. He fixed his uniform jacket and looked between them, “Gentlemen, this is Dr. Jeon Jungkook. He was one of the archaeologists on the expedition of Planet 227, Ritua. Dr. Jeon, this is Kim Namjoon, Min Yoongi and Jung Hoseok. They have agreed to help you with your journey.”
“What? You’re kidding.”
“No. They are highly qualified for your mission, and won’t raise any flags crossing into spaceports and shuttle buses. You refused to use anyone I could supply, so this is the best we can do.”
Dr. Jeon looked back at the men in front of him. Namjoon saw the thoughts running through his mind; he knew he wouldn't get anything better than them. “Fine,” he said, adjusting his jacket, “But listen to me: If you even think of running off with Jimin or The Cube, I will personally track you down. Got it?”
Hoseok snorted, “Yeah, sure. We’re terrified of you.”
He pulled a side of his jacket, revealing the weapon concealed in a holster. “How do you think I got away from the Murdodans?” he covered it back up, then said, “I’ll finish briefing them in the conference room, Colonel.”
Once he left, Colonel Lee pulled out a contract from the folder. "This is just a few official documents stating our agreement. If you should break this contract, you will be considered enemies of the state and wanted men."
The fire of the moment put out, Namjoon read over the copy. It was everything they promised on their end. Namjoon knew they'd have to keep their word if the group had a copy. He considered all the complications they can run into, but he thought of the two men beside him. The trust they shared and the lives they wished for seemed within reach. The two might pretend they loved their life of crime, but that was due to never being given any other choice. He remembered Dr. Jeon's words: street guys. They come from the southside of Seoul where things are not so shiny and pretty. He saw them owning an actual apartment in a decent part of the city. No more jobs. No more militant raids.
Namjoon signed his name first, then Yoongi, then Hoseok. "You better not be dicking around," warned Hoseok.
"I trust you, we're not. I cannot stress enough how important this mission is: you’ll be saving billions of lives across the galaxy if you succeed."
Or be handing over the galaxy's most dangerous weapon into the government's hands. Colonel Lee led them out of the room and down the hall. Namjoon ran a hand through his dark blond hair, and spotted his birthmark again. Nobody in the orphanage could explain the strange pattern. Dee told him it meant he was special, though never said how. He never imagined someone else having the same mark, but he'd seen it today. He'd seen it on Jimin's wrist, and it was how the alien recognized him. But, how can someone he'd never seen before recognize him? He stayed out of the Colonel's earshot as he spoke to Yoongi.
"You were able to translate what Jimin was saying, right?"
"Roughly. Like I said, Rituian is a dead language. Not a lot of modern translators have it programmed nor are there many texts written in the language."
"But you knew what that word he called me was?"
"What was it?"
Yoongi hesitated. "It meant 'protector'."
"That's just what the translator said," he shrugged.
Namjoon did not have time to speak, as they came into the conference room. Dr. Jeon stood by the table, a holobook in front of him as he switched pages. Beside him sat Jimin, who whispered to him while they read together. Judging by the pointing and nodding, Jimin was clearing up the information. He imagined it was not everyday Archives came across an ancient alien from an extinct colony. When they entered, Jimin's eyes fell on Namjoon. His smile brought up the corners of his eyes; his full lips curled into the sweetest of grins. Jimin was happy to see him, to be near him. Namjoon felt the warm, comfortable sensation once more. Something about him felt familiar. It was as if he were traveling a foreign planet and came across someone from home.
Home. Is that what Jimin felt like? But why?
"Namjoon!" he beamed, rushing over and hugging him. "Namjoon…"
Namjoon went stiff in his arms, unsure how to respond right away. But, Jimin felt so warm and small against him. Namjoon thought he'd let go, but instead he looked up at him. Still bruised, they'd cleaned up his injuries and slathered healing gels over them. They should clear up in a few hours. Yet, even like this, Jimin was beautiful. Namjoon never thought he'd meet someone who mesmerized him. Were all Rituians this lovely or was it just Jimin? He'd changed out of his shirt and sweatpants. He wore an oversized sweater over his shirt, and changed into denim jeans and sneakers. Soft and delicate. Someone Namjoon wanted to protect.
This moment broke when he noticed Jimin leaning up to him for a kiss. "Woah, woah, woah," he said, pulling away from Jimin with his hands up, “At least take me out to dinner first, yeah?”
“Jimin!” Jungkook looked at him incredulously. “What are you doing?”
“Namjoon,” he pointed to Namjoon. “This is Namjoon.”
“Yeah, okay, that’s nice,” he said, “But you don’t go around kissing strangers.”
“But this is Namjoon-”
“-Hold on,” Hoseok interrupted, “You could speak English this entire time?”
“Of course. Jungkook taught me,” he looked at Namjoon, “You...You didn’t understand me when we met?”
“Why would I understand you? You speak a language that died out centuries ago.”
He saw disappointment fill Jimin’s bright eyes. He stepped away from Namjoon and suddenly the world felt cold. Seeing his smile turn into a frown, he did not meet Namjoon’s eyes as he said, “You don’t remember me.”
“Am I supposed to?”
Guilt punched him in the gut the moment he saw Jimin’s teary eyes. He moved to hold him again, to make those tears disappear, but Jimin went beside Jungkook. Jungkook whispered words to him, glancing between the alien and Namjoon. He had no idea what they were talking about, but he knew it could not be anything good.
“I’m sorry,” he found himself saying. “I just...I don’t...I don’t think we’ve ever met.”
Jungkook gave him a look over, but stopped at his hands. Then he whispered a few comforting words to Jimin, who nodded and went into a separate room. Something in him wanted to run after him. He should have played along. He should have kissed him. He imagined kissing those luscious lips and feeling that sensation again. Yoongi, however, tapped his shoulder instead.
“We’re starting,” he said gently. “Come on.”
Namjoon moved over to the table where Jungkook had placed several star charts and photographs. In the photographs, he saw ancient ruins of temples and houses. Archaeologists stood inside them, brushing the stones and examining their findings. Other photos showed the artifacts they’d found: pieces of stone carvings, decorative household items, and dusty mechanical pieces. Bone fragments were measured up against what he assumed were human bones. Much smaller and thinner than normal bones, he imagined Rituians were a fragile species. Explains why they went extinct and why Jimin is short.
“Hey Yoongs,” Hoseok snickered, “I think they’ve found your ancestors.”
“Screw you,” Yoongi nudged him, but laughed.
“What are these?” Namjoon picked up one of the mechanical photos. It was a rod missing protective plates and dusty, broken wires. “Machine parts?”
“Precisely,” he answered. “We think they were part of The Cube’s central device. It has the same inscriptions on the plates we found,” he showed them another photo of the coverings, “And it was found in the lowest part of the factories around there.”
“Factories?” Yoongi raised an eyebrow, “Rituians didn’t have factories. Their main exports were agriculture and spices they got from their planet.”
Jungkook’s eyes widened slightly in surprise. “Yeah, that’s how it was until the Murdodans took over and turned it into an industrial planet. Nobody was sure exactly what happened, and Jimin won’t tell me. But we believe they made The Cube in a basement area so they can bring life back to their planet. There were weapons,” he showed them an old gun model, “Stockpiled underneath a temple, and drawings,” he pulled out a photo of a stone wall. “See these figures?” he pointed to stick figures in a triangle formation against larger figures with ugly, angry faces. "We think they rebelled, and the Murdodans began killing them off. However, they never found The Cube. I honestly think they didn’t know about it until recently.”
“Is that why they want it? To restore their planet?" asked Yoongi.
"No," he sighed. "They want it to steal resources from other planets. That's how they plan on destroying ours. The Cube was made for good, but most things made for the greater good can be used for bad too."
"How does it do that?" Namjoon studied a photo of The Cube. He saw the sphere floating in the center, "Yoongi said it absorbs energy or something like that?"
"It does," Jungkook confirmed. "Using a drop of Jimin's blood."
"Hold on," Hoseok said. "Using his blood? That's why he's this key they were talking about?"
"Yes," he said. "The Rituians didn't want anyone using it, so they made it so only they can." He showed them another drawing. More stick figures stood around a glowing square shape, while one stood above. "See? They did some sort of ritual to make it work. We think that's why Jimin was put into a sleeping pod; he was meant to protect it if anyone stole it."
"He did mention something about getting it back," said Yoongi. "When I translated what he was saying to Namjoon, he said they needed to find it."
"We did find it. I told him who I gave it to and he knows it's safe with them for now."
"Is this person the one you handed it off to?" asked Hoseok.
"Yes. His name is Jin, and he's a Veela," he told them.
"Wait, Jin? As in Kim Seokjin?" Hoseok leaned forward, "The singer?"
"That's him. Veelas and Rituians were allies. A lot of Veela technology came from the Rituians, so they've always honored them. I told Jin about our findings and he wanted to help. Being a famous opera singer, he has personal bodyguards, private ships and shuttle buses. Where he's at now is heavily guarded as well since lots of celebrities and politicians will be there to see his performance." He pressed a button on the holographic star chart and showed them a moon not too far from the core planets. "I'm guessing you know what moon this is?"
Hoseok's eyes widened and Yoongi's jaw dropped. Namjoon moved closer to see it clearly. He spotted the beige and white sections bordering the large bodies of water. He recognized it for sure. "This is Mavis...Diamond Paradise...He's there?"
"Yup. He plays at a lot of popular places and he's currently on his way there. It'll be easier for us to meet in a crowded place that Murdodan agents can't enter. The officers and guards there are told to keep a lookout." He turned it off, "When we finally have The Cube, Jin is lending one of his ships to get us safely to Ritua."
"Ritua is not on any star charts," said Yoongi.
"But Jimin knows how to get there."
"If this is supposed to be so safe," started Namjoon, "Then explain why you even need us."
"The Murdodans are still looking for The Cube, and according to Colonel Lee, Rackham might be looking too. I can't take them on by myself and I don't trust the men outside this room." He then shrugged, "Well, I don't trust you three that much either but don't have a choice. Humans can't be trusted with this kind of tech. The Cube belongs where it was created and with the person who made it."
"What was Archives planning to do with it?"
"Study it. Preserve it. But…" he hesitated, "We didn't anticipate the reaction our trustworthy government would have when hearing about it." He sighed, "Anyways, your part is just making sure nothing happens along the way, okay? Nothing complicated. You might even make some good money in the end."
Namjoon didn't bother saying he wanted a clean slate more than money. Jimin's reactions to him and the feelings he brought concerned him more. "When do we leave?"
"Tomorrow at 10am. We will meet at the local spaceport." Jungkook passed each of them boarding passes, "Terminal six."
Hoseok and Yoongi examined the boarding passes but Namjoon looked to the door Jimin went through. He felt guilty for what he’d done and didn’t even know why. He didn’t know Jimin until a few hours ago. Yet, his heart beat a bit stronger thinking of him. Jungkook allowed Colonel Lee back into the room, and he escorted them out of the building. He gave a final warning:
“Any attempt to deviate from your objective, and you will be arrested and imprisoned for the rest of your days.”
“Talk about a bunch of stiffs,” said Hoseok as they walked down the street. “You guys still think this is a good idea?”
“I honestly don’t think we were given a choice,” Yoongi responded. “They would’ve stuck us in prison if we didn’t agree to their demands.” He turned to Namjoon, “But clean records...Joon, imagine us with clean records.”
“I do. I have,” he answered. “It’s the only reason I’m doing this pointless ‘mission’.”
“And that we’d get to see Diamond Paradise,” smiled Hoseok. “Dude, only the biggest, richest people can afford to go there, and we’re getting free rides! You think they’ll have that champagne that’s got those golden flakes inside?”
“I think drinking champagne during a job isn’t a good idea,” said Namjoon. “We need to be focused. If there really are a lot of people after that thing, then we gotta be alert at all times.”
A blue Flyer landed down beside them. Namjoon’s hand twitched to the pistol in his waistband, but then the window rolled down. In the driver’s seat sat Jungkook, who begrudgingly looked at them. Beside him was Jimin. His eyes seemed less puffy, his nose not as red, but the sadness from before seemed to have left. He looked at him brightly as before.
“He wanted us to give you a ride,” said Jungkook. He pressed a button and the backseat opened, “Get in.”
“You sure?” Hoseok crossed his arms, “Not worried we won’t jack your Flyer when you’re not looking?”
“You couldn’t even if you tried,” he retorted. “Get in before I change my mind.”
Yoongi and Hoseok slid in first, then Namjoon went to the other side. He kept Jimin in his view. He wanted to ask if he was alright. He hated the thought of Jimin still being upset because of him. Jimin turned to look at them.
“Where y’all stay at?” asked Jungkook, the slang catching them off guard. “Southbridge?”
“Southbridge,” Namjoon answered though looking at Jimin.
The features became more noticeable: the slight point to his ears, the shape of his eyes, and his nose. Rituians must’ve looked highly similar to humans for Jimin to seem that way. In the light, Namjoon spotted the pinkish tinge to his fair skin, mostly around the contours of his face than anywhere else. It resembled pink blush to the untrained eye. The healing gels worked their magic on his injuries; they were nearly cleared up.
“Thank you for agreeing to help us,” Jimin said. "The Kyubue means a lot to me, and it needs to be protected."
“Don’t think we had much of a choice to be honest,” said Yoongi. “It was between helping you or going to prison.”
“But you could have been truly coldhearted and left me in that cage in the first place,” his eyes glimpsed Namjoon in the rearview mirror. “You would’ve gotten out faster.”
“Yeah, we would have,” Hoseok shot a glare to Namjoon, who ignored him. “You do realize just because we got cuffed doesn’t mean Hutch won’t be looking for our asses.”
“He won’t be,” Jungkook intervened.
“How would you know, Doc?”
“You owed money to Hutch, right? Hutch Robinson?” they stopped at a redlight, “Kingpin of Southbridge? I have friends who still live in the neighborhood and all I did was call them. They said you owed him a pretty big sum of credits, so the Colonel was generous enough to pay him off.”
“He still didn’t get what he wanted,” said Namjoon.
“No, but now that he knows the government and Militants are after it, he’s gonna back off. He got his money, so he’s appeased for now.”
That was a relief. The weight of his shoulders still did not come off. He met Jimin’s eyes again. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Namjoon could come across all kinds of Veelas and feline Cattas, but still find this man to be the most enchanting creature in the galaxy. But why? Why did he feel this? He never felt this way, not even for crushes or former lovers. Something rooted deep inside him ache whenever he saw Jimin’s eyes. He looked at his birthmark, seeing the small dotted lines. Jimin had the exact same birthmark on his left wrist, while Namjoon had it on the right.
“You think Rackham is still after this thing?” Yoongi asked nobody in particular.
“They’d be stupid to,” Namjoon answered. “The Colonel said they’re being investigated for it. It’d be dumb of them to try with the government watching them. Still…”
“You should be on the lookout,” finished Jimin. “The men who took me killed a lot of people to get me. They don’t seem the type to give up easily.”
“No, they’re not.”
He wondered what exactly they planned on doing with Jimin. Did they know his connection to The Cube? Did Hutch? He hated thinking what the gangster might’ve done if they brought Jimin instead of The Cube.
‘But you were gonna hand him over anyways,’ a voice inside him hissed. ‘Just to save your own ass.’
He thought of Jimin in the cage. He’d looked so scared until he saw Namjoon. He realized in that moment: he would not have given Jimin away. He would’ve kept him safe. He would’ve brought him home and found another way of getting the device or the money. Jimin might have helped too. There was no way he would have turned Jimin over to that monster. Not when the man made him feel so warm and comfortable in his own skin.
They arrived in Southbridge, a city district where the underbelly lived in their slum. Clubs, bars and little shops went along the streets and eventually into the tall apartment buildings. Everything appeared run down or dirty. He spotted the homeless people sitting in their tent city under the bridge, no doubt hungry and cold. He thought of what Yoongi said: restored planets could employ and house the displaced. The Cube could do that for them. Namjoon gave Jungkook directions to their building, and then the three stepped out.
“Where are you staying?” Namjoon asked Jungkook.
“Government housing,” he answered.
“Government housing? That cold building where they serve shitty sandwiches and have itchy blankets?”
“That’s the one.”
He met Jimin’s eyes again. “You could stay with us,” he heard himself say. “We got warm food and comfy sleeping spots.”
“Hol’ up, what?” Hoseok and Yoongi came up beside him.
“We got plenty of room,” he continued, “And we’re all going to the same place tomorrow morning anyways. Don’t you want to make sure we show up, Doctor?”
Jungkook turned to Jimin, who nodded. “Alright,” he said, unbuckling his seatbelt. “Your place can’t be much worse than housing, anyways.”
Jungkook parked, and he and Jimin followed the men to the elevator. Jimin ended up beside Namjoon in the poorly lit box. “You okay?” he asked Jimin, “The gel doesn’t, like, pinch or anything like that, right? It sometimes does when it’s putting your skin back together.”
“It stung,” he answered. “But I’m better, thank you.”
“We, um, have more if you need it.”
“I won’t. The nurse put plenty on me.” He then said, “It really is amazing how advanced humankind has become. I saw the Colonel using a communicator, but he was able to see the person he was talking to in a hologram.”
“Yeah, they can do that now.” The elevator stopped on their floor.
“They didn’t do that when we first made them.”
“You made them?”
“Communicators? Yes, we did. We made them so we could talk to our allies on other planets. They can’t do what the modern ones can, but it was the same basic function.” Jimin grinned softly as they reached the door. “Before communicators, you could only talk to people on your own planet. There was no way to find out what was going on in other places. When some of our explorers landed on Venas, they met the Veela living there, and we became friends.”
“And you gave them some of your tech?”
They entered the apartment. A large space with two different rooms coming off it, posters of rock stars and models covered parts of the walls. He realized the junk they had laying around made the place messier than he remembered: discarded clothes, mechanical pieces, and dishes could be found in various places. Namjoon quickly cleared off the plush sofa near the television, and tossed it into a box nearby. Hoseok plopped himself on the couch while Yoongi went to change his medicine plates in the bathroom.
“Um, uh, you can just make yourselves at home,” Namjoon said. “I can get some food started if you’re hungry.”
“We’re goo-” Jungkook began to say.
“-That’d be nice, thank you,” Jimin interrupted him. He heard him whisper something to Jungkook, who appeared disgruntled by it.
Namjoon went into the small kitchen area and searched around for food. They hadn’t done much shopping. His heart sank realizing the last can of stew was gone. He’d been searching the pantry for food packages when his communicator rang on his wrist. He saw Dee’s name once again, and sucked his teeth.
“Young man,” he heard her stern tone and knew what was coming, “What in the hell were you thinking? Don’t you have any sense? Robbing a Rackham facility? What is wrong with you?”
“Dee, I can explain. We had this deal with Hutch to get this thing from Rackham, but-”
“-You know Hutch Robinson ain’t no good,” she interrupted. “I told you that you can always come to me if you run into trouble. You don’t need to do these jobs. One day you’re either gonna end up dead or in a prison for life.”
“I’ve borrowed enough money from you already, Dee.”
“And I don’t mind giving you more.” She took a beat, “Are you all okay?”
“We are.” He leaned against a kitchen counter, “They were government guys.”
“Yeah, some guy named Harold Lee? He’s a colonel. Have you heard of him?”
“I’ve heard of him, but we’ve never met. What did he want from you?”
He couldn’t tell her. He didn’t want to worry her any more than he already had. “He just wanted whatever information we might’ve found at Rackham. They’re exactly as shady as people think they are.”
“What megacorp isn’t?” she scoffed in a laugh, “I guess you’re missing dinner?”
“I’d come by but Yoongi has a medical appointment tomorrow morning on Hippa,” he said. “He needs to get his doses and cybernetics fixed. He’s been acting kinda funny lately.”
“Well, alright. You call me when you come back then. Tell Yoongs I hope he gets better.”
“Okay. Talk to you later, Dee. Love you.”
“Love you too. Take care of yourself.”
As he hung up, someone entered the kitchen.
“Dee?” Jimin came into the kitchenette, but stayed by the counter. “Who’s that?”
“She was my caregiver at the orphanage,” he answered. “She’s always kept up with me over the years; she’s kind of like my mom, in a way.”
“That’s very sweet,” he said. “You must love her a lot.”
“I do,” he nodded. He thought of all the times Dee was there for him and grinned. “She’s great, but she doesn’t put up with my shit,” he laughed. “We meant to go by her place tonight for dinner, but, you know, they kept us there for a while.”
“But, doesn’t that little food ship come by here?” Jimin’s soft voice stopped him mid-way into the search.
“Food ship?” he looked at him confused.
“I saw it at the police station,” he answered. “This man had a flying ship and was selling food. Jungkook bought us these meat skewers from him.”
“You mean a vending cart,” Namjoon stood up, nodding in comprehension. “Yeah, they come by here sometimes. They’re kinda expensive-”
“-It’s okay,” he dug into his pocket, “I have money.” He showed Namjoon the blue and black credit chips. “Jungkook gave me some in case I was ever left on my own. I am more than happy to share it with you three, especially after you helped me escape.” He then added, “Even if it wasn’t for noble reasons.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I...We really were there for The Cube. You and the device must’ve had the same tracking number since you’re kind of a package deal.”
“But you wouldn’t have given me over to them.”
“Yes, I would have…” he scratched the back of his head, pretending to eye an empty food wrapper. “I would’ve done it to save Hoseok from ending up in a dumpster.”
“No, you would’ve found another way of pleasing that thug you owed money to,” he shook his head. “You were never the type to betray friends that way.”
“You don’t know me-”
“-I might not know this you,” he put the handful of chips into Namjoon’s hand, “But I know your heart is still the same."
Namjoon saw the birthmark once more when Jimin pushed hair from his face. He wanted to ask but decided not to. His head already felt foggy from the day's events. So much had happened, and he'd had very little time to process it all. He thanked Jimin, then headed to the long window near the kitchen. He searched around and saw the food vendor making his rounds across from them. He then called the man over through his watch.
"Is that a communicator too?" Jimin asked as the vendor slowly crossed the street. He eyes the watch in Namjoon's wrist, marveling at the technology.
"Communicator, encryptor, GPS map...all kinds of stuff."
"Incredible. May I…?"
Namjoon immediately took it off for the alien to examine. He watched Jimin turn it over in his hands and look at the touch screen. He mumbled about the wonders of advancement and how his people never considered this. It seemed like such a familiar sight to Namioon, but he stopped wondering about it.
He focused on filling his empty stomach.
Regarding your tag about not understanding the hate for crypto: it's a few things.
The big one is a common argument: it's environmentally unfriendly. The amount of computer power necessary to mine crypto uses a lot of energy. Unlike other computing processes, it's not really doing anything useful. It's burning resources for no real value. It uses power equivalent to small countries every year.
It's also fake currency based solely on gambling. It will never be stable. It's going to wildly fluctuate based on buying and selling, so it's rather useless as a currency.
The main use for crypto is money laundering and other shady deals. You can't really untangle it from serious crime.
It's also prone to hacking. If you have $100 worth of crypto and it's stolen in a hack, you have no way to get the money back. It can't be insured, and no one is responsible for making it right. Your money is just gone.
That's among the reason that scam coins are so common in the crypto landscape.
It also uses computer parts, like graphics cards, in large quantities. This is a major reason for graphics card shortages and price increases. Crypto makes it harder for anyone else to get necessary computer equipment at a reasonable price.
There aren't any real positives to crypto unless you're a very rich criminal.
Thanks for reaching out! I actually really enjoy these discussions and I'm curious as to your further thoughts on my responses.
1) You are correct regarding environmental unfriendliness. When bitcoin was initially developed, it was developed on a Proof of Work (POW) ideology. For the beginning stages, that worked and it was a legitimate innovation. The problem was it didn't scale. As bitcoin and POW blockchains became more popular, POW doesn't scale efficiently. Kind of like if you are screen printing your own shirts out of your garage, its fine for doing 20 a day. If you start receiving requests for thousands on a daily basis, your initial operation can't scale, so you will need to implement new technologies. That's where Proof of Stake (POS) and Proof of History (POH) come into play. They are much more environmentally friendly and scalable.
2) Saying crypto is "fake" and "based on gambling", I'm hoping you can elaborate a little bit further. Everything only has value because there is a common consensus of value. Whether it is a dollar bill, a piece of art, a bottle of whiskey, or a cryptocoin value is added based on a societal consensus. So I'm not really sure what you mean by its "fake". In tems of solely based on gambling, gambling has been around long before crypto and we've been using all forms of currency for gambling. Crypto is used for much more than just gambling. In terms of volatility, yes there is a lot of volatility in the crypto world. This is still the wild west hence all of the volatility. That's why there has been the introduction of Stable Coins. Coins like DAI, UST, USDC are all designed to remain stable against the USD. There are even Stable Coins designed to remain stable against other currencies. (edited)
3) Again, in the beginning, it was a technology favored by criminal activity as you stated it is difficult to track. Regardless of what currency is used, there will always be money laundering and criminal activity. UN reports estimate 2%-5% of global GDP is attached to criminal activity. So, yes nefarious activities are conducted with crypto, but there are nefarious activities used with all currencies and the vast majority of crypto use is not associated with criminal activity.
4) So, with this argument, I think you are interchanging "hack" and "insurance". Crypto stored in a wallet is arguably one of the safest forms of data security. With today's technology, it would take 2 centuries to crack a standard bitcoin wallet. If you look at financial institutions, many have fallen victim to ransomeware and other types of attacks. They are much less secure than a crypto wallet, but a financial institution is insured and you can get your money back. It just goes back to whether you are for decentralization or for centralization of finances.
Centralization: You trust your money to an institution and if they are attacked, your money will be replaced.
Decentralization: You trust your money to yourself and it is up to you to keep your passwords and seed phrases safe. If you let that go, it can't be replaced.
I'm not saying one is better over the other. Both have their positives and negatives, it just comes down to what you prefer. (edited)
5) I absolutely agree with you on the computer parts piece. As a computer builder myself, it frustrates me to see these mining farms filled with graphics cards that I can't get to build out my rig for entertainment purposes. But, I go back to my initial comment in #1. As blockchain technology scales and grows, we will move away from POW which is the major consumer of all the resources. Just like any technology it is going to take time to work out the bugs and kinks and I'm sure as it continues to grow we will find more and more.
I would caution you to outright deny blockchain technology. It is a revolutionary new concept on the scale of when the internet was first introduced. Sure they crypto aspects of it can be frustrating, but look at specific projects and see what they are doing. There is a lot of good being built on blockchain technology. POWR is trying to redesign the distribution of renewable resources. GRT is working to index smart contracts to increase efficiencies. There are a lot of great projects out there.
Summary: Losing your job is more than you can bear…
Pairing: CEO!Dean x Accountant!Reader
Characters: Sam Winchester, Charlie Bradburry, Jo Harvelle, Lisa Braeden
Warnings: angst, language, mentions of cancer/cancer treatment, accusation, mentions of anxiety
Nervously chewing on your lower lip, you wait for Dean Winchester to finally say a word. Usually, you work with his brother Sam or on rare occasions with his father but Dean, well Dean Winchester is the man they send you to if you messed up.
You wreck your brain since Jo told you worriedly that Dean Winchester wants to see you at his office. The last time that man talked to you was when he asked if you could bring him a coffee too as his secretary quit yet again.
“Do you know why you are here?” Dean’s voice low and stern brings you out of your thoughts. “I asked you a question Ms. Y/L/N.”
“Jo told me you want to see me, Sir. I know I was late last week but it was the first time and I swear it will never happen again,” apologizing for the only mistake you made in the five years you work for Winchester Inc. you dare not to meet Dean’s gaze.
“You think I would waste my time for nonsense as coming too late to work? This is serious, Ms. Y/L/N. Stealing money from our clients’ accounts is a crime. You are lucky I did not call the cops,” Dean barks and your head snaps upward to meet his gaze.
“I would never steal, Sir. I swear I do not know what you are talking about. I work hard, never make mistakes, and came too late only this once in over five years. I’m loyal and reliable. I never stole anything,” close to tears, you feel your anxiety rise again. Your lips start to quiver, and you need all your strength to not start to hyperventilate.
“Do you think I am dumb, that Lisa is dumb?” You shake your head, wiping a few rogue tears away.
“Lisa? I don’t understand. She talked to me just yesterday, asked me questions about the accounts I had to close as the clients left us,” you want to open your laptop to show Dean the data but he grasps it, tossing it onto the couch.
“Stop lying, Y/N!” He slams the palm of his hands onto the leans of your chair, making you flinch.
“I do not lie, Sir. Cole signed the papers. He would’ve seen any mistake or if money would have disappeared. I swear, there is nothing wrong with my accounts.” Dean doesn’t believe you, rather gets papers out for you to sign.
“You’re lucky I got the money back from the account you transferred it to. This way, we can keep the cops out of this and not lose our reputation for being safer than any bank,” Dean hands you a pen, glaring at you. “You are fired. Sign this, pack your shit and leave.”
“Sir, please, I need this job. I didn’t do anything wrong. Let me check the accounts, or ask Charlie. I know she can find out if I manipulated any account, Sir. Give me the chance to prove I am innocent,” you try but Dean points toward the papers and you know – he will not give you a chance.
“To think I believed you are different, Y/N,” Dean huffs, grabbing your wrist harshly to lead you out of his office. “I’ll stay next to you and watch you pack your things. You are not allowed to enter this building or have contact with one of the employers ever again.
“Y/N,” Jo gasp watching tears run down your cheeks while you toss the few belongings you brought to your working place into your bag. “What happened?”
“Lisa said I stole money,” you sniffle. “Mr. Winchdester didn’t let me prove I am innocent so she won and will get my position.”
“That’s what she wanted after all,” Jo, grunts. “I can’t believe she lied to get your job,” Dean furrows his brows at Jo, searching her face. “Shame, Y/N. How will you pay for your dad’s…” You shake your head, pressing your index finger to your friend's lips.
“I’ll find a way, always did Jo. Losing a job is not the end of the world…”
Three months later…
“I am back bitches and…” Charlie looks at your working place, wondering why Lisa Braeden sits at your place. “What the fuck happened, Jo?”
“Lisa the bitch Braeden accused Y/N she stole money from two accounts. Dean didn’t give her a chance to prove she’s innocent. Cole tried to talk to Dean but he stayed adamant. I think she works three jobs now to pay for her dad’s treatment.”
“Holy fucking shit!” Charlie yells before she waltzes toward Dean’s office. “Why did no one call me or Sam? I bet we could’ve found the culprit in no time and I am sure, it’s not Y/N.”
“Charlie, what the…,” Dean gasps when Charlie shoves him aside to get access to his computer. “Charlie?”
“Show me the accounts, now. I don’t believe Y/N stole money. If you do not give her a chance, fine, but I will check her story before judging her.”
“Fine, check it. I bet you will not find anything proving she’s innocent…” Dean enters his password, opening the accounts. “There. Money got transferred to this bank account.”
“Did you look at the time stamp Dean?” Charlie looks up at Dean, pointing toward the time stamp. “I mean, Y/N was in Melbourne with Sam, Jo, and Cole at that time. I know as we had a great video chat sleepover that night.”
“What? No, this is impossible,” Dean swallows thickly, nervously rubbing his scruffy cheek. “She could’ve accessed…oh, no…we changed the system back then. You can only access the account from the main server at this building.”
“Exactly, Mr. Winchester. Not only did you accuse the poor girl, but you also fired her. Do you know what it means to get fired by a Winchester?” Nodding Dean looks at the next account and the time stamp. “Same date and time, Dean. If anyone stole the money, it was not Y/N, Jo, or Sam. I was at Paris and I don’t think you stole the money to fire Y/N…”
Whilst Dean tries to find out where you moved to or how to apologize for not giving you a chance to prove you are innocent you work three jobs. You even had to move out of her apartment to spare money as your father’s condition got worse.
“How is he today?” Rubbing your sore eyes you look up at Alex, giving the friendly nurse a sad smile. “You look tired, Y/N.”
“Just came home from my night job, had a shower to spend a few hours here before my day job starts,” you huff, hating you lied to your father. “Dad asked why I am always tired, you know, I didn’t have the heart to tell him I got fired.”
“Whatever that guy said is wrong. I know you for three years now. Never would you steal anything, Y/N,” Alex looks at your father, giving you a soft smile. “He’s doing better, the therapy seems to help.”
“It’s worth working three jobs, I know it,” grasping for your father’s hand you gently press it to your face. “One day he’ll get better.”
“Mom, I know that I shall not mess with a Winchester, but that douche fired Y/N. You know, the girl I told you about. Her father has lung cancer, and she spends all the money she earns with three jobs for an expensive experimental treatment. You know Dean Winchester, tell him he’s an asshole for ruining the girl,” Alex angrily hangs up the phone, shaking her head at Jody’s words.
“Was that your mom?” Claire sighs, watching you sleepily read your father his favorite book. “Does the girl ever sleep?”
“Not with three jobs and her dad’s condition,” Alex explains what happened to you, your job, and Dean Winchester, unbeknownst Claire’s father is a good friend of Dean. “Poor girl will break down sooner or later…”
Dean doesn’t know if he’s allowed to enter your father's hospital room. Only stealing glances he watches you talk to your father, telling him it’s an honor to work for John Winchester’s company.
“You know the company dad. Always work, but it’s worth it, just like you said. The Winchesters are fair men,” you almost choke on your lie but your father would worry about you, and that’s the last thing he needs.
“I’m so proud of you, sugarplum,” you nod, holding back the tears when your father drifts back into sleep.
“I wish you had a reason, daddy. I’m working three lousy jobs,” pressing a soft kiss to your father's cheek you forget about your sorrows for a moment. “Get better dad, that’s all I want.”
Dean hides behind a corner when you leave your father’s room. He can see the bags under your eyes, a sign that you haven’t slept for too long. You lost weight too, just like the smile you used to ‘wear’.
“What can I get you? Whiskey, vodka, or beer?”
Dean nervously looks at you, waiting for you to recognize him at the end of the bar. You are busy explaining a drink to a customer so he must wait before you turn your attention toward him.
“What can I…?” You clench your jaw when you meet familiar green eyes, “get you, Sir?”
“Hi, erm…uh, beer would be fine, Y/N,” he stammers pointing toward the other guest. “Some nuts too?”
“Sure,” turning around you take deep breaths. You hate Dean Winchester, but you can’t lose one of your jobs, so you place a beer and nuts in front of him. “Anything else, Sir?”
“Y/N, when do you get off? I’d like to talk to you,” you wipe your hands at your jeans, not meeting Dean’s gaze.
“Sir, I have to ask you to not use my forename. It’s Ms. Y/L/N or bartender to you. If you excuse me now, I can’t lose another job because of you,” you jerk your head toward two waiting customers. “Other people want to have a drink too. Goodnight, Sir.”
“Y/N, damnit,” grumbling Dean moves to the other end of the bar, looking at you, expectantly. “I want another drink, no, the whole bottle, and your company.” He places his wallet onto the counter, slamming two-hundred bucks onto the counter. “Stay.”
“I got no time, okay. If you want to sue me or call the cops for the lies Lisa told about me, do so,” with two fingers you shove the money toward Dean, glaring at your former boss. “I don’t need or want your dirty money. Go and spend it at someone else.”
“Sweetheart,” Dean tries, “Charlie proved it wasn’t you who manipulated the accounts of our customers. I’m sorry for not giving you a chance.”
“Not giving me a chance?” You toss the dishtowel you use to clean the counter into Dean’s face. “Are you fucking kidding me? I lost my reputation thanks to you. I work at night at a bar, clean toilets during the day, and in the morning, I work at a diner barely making any money. Sorry doesn’t fix shit, you son of a bitch!” Emptying the bottle of Whiskey over Dean’s face you nod at your boss who mouths ‘you are fired’. “Fuck you, Winchester…”
“What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you a stalker? Do I need to call the cops to get you off my back? Is making my life even more miserable your new hobby?” Brushing past Dean who waited for you at your father’s house you ignore he tries to talk to you.
“Y/N, please wait. I made a dumb mistake. I never wanted you to lose your job or reputation. Lisa came to me, showing me, the accounts and I did not check the date, okay. I should’ve looked closer at the data, but I was so mad. I wanted you to be the new head of the financial department. I felt betrayed, sweetheart.” Dean grasps for your hand, not wanting you to believe he fired you on purpose.
“I’m not your sweetheart, Winchester. My name is Y/N, not sweetheart, baby girl, or the other shit you call your secretaries. I might not own money, a house, or fancy shit but I got dignity, which means I do not have to listen to your stupid pet names for me.”
“I apologize for the pet names, sw…Y/N. Please, let’s go inside and talk about the data, Lisa’s lies, and the stolen money. Dad, he told me to get you back.”
“Your father?” Not believing John Winchester even knows you exist you blink a few times. “Why should he want me to come back? I don’t think he remembers we ever talked.”
“You’re wrong. My father, he remembers your work, the data you handed him just in time for a big deal. John Winchester only remembers people impressing him. You are one of them.”
“John Winchester remembers me…” Mumbling the words you smile. “I’ll tell my dad John Winchester remembered me.”
“Can we talk now? I’d like to have my best worker back. I will do anything to make it up to you,” Dean offers, holding out his hand. “Let me prove I can be fair.”
“I need to sleep for my job in the morning. Maybe I find some spare time between my job at the diner and my cleaning job,” you turn on your heels, looking for your keys. “If you excuse me now, Mr. Winchester.”
“Jesus, sweetheart you are hard to crack. Shall I fall to my knees?” Angrily turning around, you glare at Dean.
“You don’t get it.” You slap his cheek harshly. “It’s not about losing about a job, it’s so much more. I invested five years into your fathers’ company. I spend more time at my desk than with friends or dating. My father was proud of me. I could pay his bills from the hospital.”
“We can find a way to help you, Y/N. Let me…”
“I am not done!” Your angry eyes meet Dean’s, and he gulps, not knowing if he shall be turned on by or scared of you. Suddenly my job was gone, my home too, just like the reputation I build for years. I lost everything as you used your downstairs brain.”
“What the…oh-I get it,” Dean huffs, hanging his head in shame. “You know about me and Lisa. It was after a Christmas party. I got drunk and you know the rest.”
“Only as you banged her doesn’t mean you had to believe her lies. You could’ve handled the situation like a Winchester. Sam or your father would’ve checked the data and not believe that woman.”
Dean nods, taking your hand to squeeze it tightly. “I’m honestly sorry, Y/N. I should’ve treated you with respect and checked the data. I promise to do better if you give me a chance and come back. Work for us again and you’ll get the respect and position you deserve,” you consider Dean’s proposal, glancing at your watch.
“No pet names,” Dean nods, laughing at your angry expression. “I mean it. Not all girls like to get called sweetheart at work.”
“Okay, noted, Y/N. No pet names at work,” he grins now, looking at your hand in his. “Maybe one day I can call you sweetheart outside of work…”
“You can dream, Winchester…you can dream…”
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Honeydew (Marcus Pike/Moreno x OC) | Chapter 1
Summary: Erin He moves to DC after working for the FBI in Texas and runs into a hero in disguise; Marcus Moreno. Something about him is familiar, too familiar, yet different in a way that she can’t quite place. Although confused, she can’t deny her feelings for him; perhaps, after years of regret, she finally found the one.
Warnings: food/drink mention
Like my writing? Here’s my masterlist.
Author’s Note: I’m so excited for you all to read this story! Special thanks go to Lynn (@mindless--ramblings) for always being so supportive and helping me stay inspired! Ever since I found out Pedro now has two characters named Marcus, I’ve wondered about ways I could connect them in one piece of writing. And this? This is that piece of writing. Moreno won’t be making an appearance in this one, but I hope Pike will make up for that 😉 Enjoy!
Erin He took a deep breath, thankful that the elevator was empty. She straightened the collar of her shirt as the fourth floor approached. At her side was her government-issued laptop, which she’d picked up from the front desk. Her fingers gripped its edges tightly. This was it. She made it.
The elevator let out a soft ding and opened its doors, revealing a floor of cubicles and conference rooms. Austin sunlight filtered through large windows, illuminating the space alongside the bright fluorescent lights.
She stepped out, searching for the art theft department’s main office. As much as she understood the need for technology specialists across all the FBI’s branches, she never quite grasped why she was placed in the art theft department, of all places. She always thought she’d be in the operational technologies department, developing and maintaining tools for others to use. Though she couldn’t blame them; intellectual property was highly valued and often stolen.
The email said to report to the department supervisor’s office for a quick onboarding, but they didn’t exactly mention what it would be. It could’ve been anything from a quick handshake to being told to shadow a coworker. Hopefully the former.
Part of her begged to the gods of computer science that she wouldn’t be assigned to yet another condescending old white man. Her last welcome at a company had been less than mediocre, and lukewarm at best.
The other part of her nagged that she’d signed up for exactly that.
“Ah, there you are. Welcome to your first day, Special Agent He,” the department supervisor–Harold Strauss–greeted as she entered his office. He gestured to the man standing in front of his desk. “This is Agent Marcus Pike. He will be showing you the ropes today.”
Agent Pike looked at her over his shoulder, the corners of his lips curling in a friendly smile. He couldn’t have been much older than her, with his faint smile lines and soft brown hair. He tucked his hands into his pockets and turned around to face her.
“Thank you, sir,” she replied. She shook his hand and then extended her hand to Pike. “Nice to meet you. Thanks for taking time out of your day to show me around.”
“Likewise,” he replied, shaking her hand. His brown eyes sparkled as he proposed, “Should we start? I have a meeting in about half an hour, and I’m sure you’ll want to meet some of our operational techs and digital forensics team. They’re the backbone of everything we do here.”
They acknowledged their supervisor once more and then left to begin the tour.
As her personal guide gave her the rundown of the floor’s organization and workflow, Erin couldn’t help but sneak a couple more glances at him.
He was taller than her by a few inches, but not in such a way that she felt like shrinking into herself. And he always stayed at her side, never walking ahead or lagging behind. His strong jaw led her gaze to a pair of soft lips, which seemed to be in a perpetual smile as he talked about the breakthroughs the department had in the past days.
“Do you know where your desk is?” Pike asked.
“Yeah, they told me the other day,” she answered, tucking a loose strand of her hair behind her ears. They walked over to her assigned desk, which was barren save for a standard computer, box of pens, and notepad. “If you’re going to ask if I need help with setup, I think I should be alright for now. Nothing a few installations and linux commands can’t fix.”
He chuckled softly and nodded. “You’re living up to your title, Agent He. If I’m being honest, I don’t think I could’ve been much help even if I offered. Have you done work similar to this before?”
She shrugged. “I worked in cybersecurity and software development,” Erin replied, setting down her bag and laptop on her desk. Slipping off her black blazer, she continued, “But I figured I should do something more than just build products for tech companies. Use my skills to aid in investigations.”
He nodded in understanding. “I see what you mean. Actually, I was originally studying to be an art history professor. But then I found this job and figured I could use my knowledge to help find and preserve artworks.”
“Sounds like we aren’t so different,” she observed, following him across the officespace. “Let’s hope that I can be of help around here.”
He chuckled softly, the dimple in his cheek showing as he smiled. “I think you’ll fit right in.”
The words on the screen blurred into the white background of the screen, as if they were mocking her. Each line of test slowly lost its meaning, turning into mind-numbing strings.
Erin pushed her computer away and rubbed her eyes defeatedly, sighing. The department was launching an investigation regarding a museum that was broken into and wiped clean. What little data was left on the computers, from what she gathered after hours of poring over them, was largely useless. Hopefully, one of the other agents would find something helpful in the other remnants. Perhaps an address, or some sort of signature that could be traced to a group. Her, on the other hand? She just wasted hours of work.
A steaming cup of coffee was set down onto her desk, along with some sugar and tiny cups of cream.
She looked up to find Marcus–Pike, she reminded herself–standing at her side, looking down at her with a soft smile. “Find anything?”
“Nope,” she sighed. It turned out that Pike was one of the best agents in the department, and that meant he spent most of his time leading and organizing investigations. What that meant for Erin, then, was that she had to answer to him. Thankfully, he was never weird about it. Quite the opposite, actually. Tapping the side of the cup, she asked, “Is this for me?”
He laughed softly, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah! Sorry; I would’ve fixed it, but I wasn’t sure how you liked your coffee.”
“Well it’s nothing complex, if that’s what you’re nervous about,” she teased. Two sugars and a drizzle of cream turned the pitch black liquid into a deep brown. She took a sip, the placebo of caffeine already kicking in. “When you’re in STEM, you learn to appreciate caffeine in any form. But I like it like this.”
“Noted,” he said, his voice a soft timbre amongst the flutter of papers and clacking of keys. Hands resting on his hips he asked, “How long do you think it’ll be before you find anything?”
“Anywhere from an hour to another three...or five,” she sighed, lazily scrolling down the file. Basking in the steam from her cup, she continued, “I’m gonna need a lot more of this coffee. There has to be something useful in this file, I just need to find it. I might need to cross-reference with some of the other evidence to notice anything.”
A headache was already descending upon her, and she was only six hours in. Weak–she’d stared at a computer much longer without any problem many times before. Why, of all times, did it have to happen when she was talking to her coworker?
“Well, I’ll be here pretty late tonight, so if you need anything, just let me know,” he replied, patting her shoulder. The crease between his brows deepened as he squinted down at the screen. “Maybe you need a fresh set of eyes on it. Take a break, Erin.” At her responding pout, he reasoned, “It’s been almost a month and I don’t think I’ve ever seen you rest.”
Of course he noticed her breaks, or lack thereof. She rolled her eyes, hiding a bashful smile in her cup. “I work best in sprints.”
He hummed amusedly. “But even sprinters need breaks, don’t they?” Then, his eyes lit up. “Actually, why don’t you take a break now?”
Erin raised a brow. “Am I not taking a break right now?”
His laugh was warm. “I mean a real break. Let’s get lunch; my treat.”
“Are you really going to make me choose between food and digital forensics, Agent Pike?”
Nodding definitively, he replied, “Yes, Agent He.”
Unable to resist the prospect of free lunch, she gave in and followed him out to his car. The work would still be there when she returned. For the moment, she could just enjoy Marcus’s companionship.
He drove out to a local diner about ten minutes away, his turns confident as if he’d gone there hundreds of times before. Judging by the way his eyes had sparked with joy at her agreement, he probably had.
They let their shoulders relax in the serenity of the car, shedding the formalities and passing time as if they were close friends.
The diner was small and cozy, booths worn with age and serving breakfast all day. Erin’s lips curled up in a little smile as the hostess recognized Marcus. So he was a regular, after all.
They sat down across from each other in a booth. Erin shrugged off her navy blue blazer and smoothed her dark hair back into a thick ponytail.
As she fixed her hair, Marcus gave her his recommendations, leaning in with the menu so she could follow along with her eyes. He seemed particularly fond of the pancakes, so she decided on those. Surely he wouldn’t lead her astray.
And with the way his voice rasped just slightly, she could listen to him speak for a whole day.
“Honey? Did you hear anything I said?” he asked, tilting his head slightly with a little smirk.
Erin snapped out of her reverie, cheeks burning. “Oh, um. Yeah. Sorry, I spaced out for a bit.”
“No worries, it happens to all of us,” he reassured, laying the menu flat on the table. “What were you thinking about?”
Less than an hour had passed before they were back in the office, stepping out of the elevator with full bellies. The familiar clicking from computers and buzz of conversations filled the air, and they were officially agents again.
Erin turned to him and nudged his arm. “Hey, thanks for the break.”
“Anytime,” he replied, walking with her along the perimeter of the room. They stopped at the hallway leading to the conference rooms and offices. His large hand moved to rest on her arm, his thumb rubbing gently. “I guess this is my stop. You know where to find me.”
“And you know where I’ll be.”
The next day, Marcus was greeted in his office by tupperwares containing homemade fried rice, some cut up fruit, and a sticky note.
Thanks for sticking with me yesterday. -E
The corners of his eyes crinkled as he tried to refrain from grinning like a maniac, though he was sure anyone who happened to pass by would’ve thought he looked like a schoolgirl with a crush. Erin’s handwriting was soft and curved, so similar to calligraphy but simple in a way that made the note feel that much more intimate.
She had an interesting way of showing her care for others, he found. Perhaps it was a byproduct of the work she dedicated her life to; she seemed to always be one step ahead, ready to pull out small details that others would dismiss. He wondered what she might know of him.
There were a few things she clearly knew; things that surprised him every day. Just as he’d learned her usual coffee order, she’d learned his. When he’d walk in every morning, her head of dark hair would tilt to peek over her cubicle, as if she could sense his presence. And when their eyes would meet, her smile was better than the best espresso in the world.
Marcus shook his head to himself as his heart fluttered. Years of failed relationships and a divorce later, he still couldn’t keep his feelings in check. His mother always said he had a soft heart, one that would be his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. But Erin was anything but a weakness.
She wasn’t a weakness, but a strength. A constant in his life, making each day feel just a little more special. He didn’t need a relationship to be happy, but….he wouldn’t be opposed to one either.
Yet, as he spotted Ian Malarkey standing a bit too close to her, he forced himself to backtrack. What if she didn’t want him? What if they were meant to be just as they were: just friends?
Maybe it was time for him to move on.
After a few months, their friendship had grown well past a workplace acquaintance. It wasn’t as if she was trying to get attached to him; it just...happened. And it was only a little surprising to her; she tried to stay as professional as she could in the office, but outside? Outside, she could just be Erin, not FBI Special Agent He. Outside, she could shed her jacket and swap the button-down shirt for a ribbed sweater and some jeans. Outside, she and Marcus could sit as close together as they wanted without drawing unwanted attention.
She knew it was silly to fantasize. After all, Marcus was a coworker, if not a superior. And with the way he fussed over her water intake and made sure that she wore her glasses at the right times, he could easily see her as a little sister. As nothing more than a new agent who happened to be friendly.
But if that were true, why would he go through the effort of bringing her lunch on Thursdays? Why did he call her little names like “honeydew” and “sweetheart,” and why did it feel so natural coming from his mouth?
The commotion coming from the direction of the conference rooms told her that the team was back from the investigation. Maybe Marcus was there; she knew he’d gone, but he hadn’t texted since morning. It wouldn’t hurt to pop in to check on him; he did that often enough with her.
When she entered the break room, her heart sank. Sitting off to the side, by the wall, was Marcus asking Teresa Lisbon out on a date. She wasn’t sure why she felt defeated; it wasn’t like she had any plans on asking him out.
But then why did it hurt her to the core to see him giving those puppy eyes and little smiles to Lisbon? The woman didn’t even look interested in him; if anything, she looked confused and hesitant.
Ian caught her eye as she surveyed the room once more, his lips pulling into a tight-lipped smile. He knew about her feelings for Marcus, having spent hours going over evidence and making small talk. In fact, he’d even encouraged her to tell Marcus her feelings, out of fear that she might never get the chance.
Perhaps her chance had passed after all. Turning on her heel, Erin decided that, for once, it was time to go home. Marcus would come to her when he was less busy.
The thing was, though, she didn’t want to go home. She wanted to go over and say hello, and check to make sure he wasn’t injured in the scuffle. Moreover, she didn’t want to be a fill-in for Lisbon’s absence. She didn’t want to be his second choice. And she knew it wasn’t her fault, nor Lisbon’s, that Marcus didn’t choose her. But it still stung.
She watched as their shared lunches became less frequent, the senior agent replacing her space by Marcus’s side. When the elevator would ding at 7AM and she’d glance up to see if it was him, she found him searching the room for Lisbon. They never drifted over to her desk. That fact always made her grip her pen just a little tighter.
On the days when he did grace her with his presence, she felt like a tornado of emotions.
Happy, because she had missed her best friend.
Sad, because she knew the next time she’d spend time with him was in a few weeks rather than a few days.
Grateful, because she knew how hard it was to socialize after a work week of at least 50 hours.
Envious, because of the stories he told.
Relieved, because he still cared.
Plastering a halfhearted smile on her face, Erin listened to Marcus practically worship his girlfriend. His summer breeze of a smile and sparkling eyes made the pain that came with listening worth it. The only other time she’d heard him talk that passionately was when they’d visited an art museum.
At least one of them was happy.
She thought of trying to date again; it had been over a year since she’d been in a relationship. But she couldn’t do it. More than once, she’d put on some simple makeup and casual clothes, ready to head out to the bar, but no. She couldn’t bring herself to leave the apartment. The apartment was where she and Marcus watched movies, where she would cut up fruit and bring them to him on a plate while he pored over reports in the warm lights of the kitchen. It was where he’d navigate her cupboards and fridge to make her a mug of his special hot chocolate. It was her safe space, the one place in her life where she could just be Erin, and he could just be Marcus.
The knife cleaved the melon in half with ease, revealing its pale green interior.
Marcus leaned up against the counter next to her, hair tousled and necktie loosened against his chest. He absentmindedly started rolling up his sleeves, undoing the cuffs of his shirt and folding them up.
She tried not to stare too long at the way his forearms tensed with the movement.
He broke the silence first. “I got the job in DC,” he said, voice soft like velvet.
“That’s great.” A simple response, though Erin cringed internally. Was that any way to react to her best friend’s job promotion? Surely not, but a part of her–a selfish part of her–knew that it meant he was leaving. Leaving not just his position, but her. Texas. The apartment.
It would’ve been disingenuous for her to say anything more.
Then, he added, almost sheepishly, “I also asked Teresa to marry me. And move to DC so we can be together.”
The blade of her knife hit the cutting board a little harder than normal. “Oh. That’s nice.” Cutting away the tough outer skin, she forced herself to ask, “What did she say?”
He sighed and crossed his arms, biting his lip as if to contain a smile. “She said she’d think about it. But I think she’ll come around. I kind of, uh, sprung it onto her the other night.”
And yet there he was, standing next to a woman who would’ve been ready to say yes. But even so, she said, “I’m sure things will work out between you two. You’ve already given so much to your relationship; it would be a shame for her to not see how great you are.”
She slid him a bowl of perfectly cubed melon.
Smiling softly, he took the bowl into his hands. “You’re the best, honeydew.”
The best, but not the one.
“You’re just trying to get on my good side before you leave for DC, brown eyes,” she jested, nudging him with her elbow. Her chest filled with warmth at his laugh. She tried her best to hang onto that feeling, to that sound. “When are you two leaving?”
“I’m already about halfway packed,” he mused, chewing on a cube of honeydew thoughtfully. “So maybe within the week? I hope that’s enough time for Teresa to make a decision.”
There was less time than she thought. She hummed softly. “Are you sure that’s what she wants? That it’s what you want?”
He nodded confidently. “Yes, I...I know that I don’t have the best track record with relationships, but something about her feels right.” The bowl was set into the sink and filled with water. “I’m happy, honey. You don’t have to worry.”
Erin’s eyes burned as she quietly replied, “Okay.”
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Someone requested 5 in a DM for the WIP poll thing, so:
5.) Trans Sunny Emmerich, pre-MGS2
“How do you know it’s a ‘he’?” Raiden asks, and the question gives Snake a moment of pause, as if he hadn’t considered it before.
The answer, though, comes as smoothly as if Snake had written it in advance.
“Suppose I don’t,” he says, lowering his cigarette. “Nobody knows. Except, one day, for the kid. That’s what it means, isn’t it? To decide your own fate - to not to be chained down by your genes. It’s up to Olga’s child to decide the path of their life - their gender, their name, the clothes they wear. A few tiny steps towards forging their own destiny.”
Raiden looked down at the dog tag in his hand, with its name he didn’t recognize.
“And that’s what you want to pass on to them?” he asked.
“That’s right. The choices that none of us had.”
Olga had not been given the chance to name her child, and they were not much for names. Individual identities were all so much junk data.
So it was given no name at all. It lived its life as “it.”
Hardly one to waste a useful tool, they immediately fed it - first food, then a steady diet of carefully rationed and portioned information. The food, sent through a tiny mail slot at the bottom of a steel door, were one of its brief windows to the outside. Once it had taught itself to walk, its tiny hands, in a tiny cage in a tiny facility in the middle of a vast desert, became the second.
But even that window was given bars.
It’s said that a thousand monkeys typing on a keyboard, for all eternity, will reproduce the works of Shakespeare. As it turns out, one human, with one keyboard, will break through the firewalls put in front of them and access the entire works of Shakespeare in less than a year.
They had planned for this. The data it was given access to was only a fraction of all the data that humans had collected - expunged of anything not potentially useful, and yet more than enough that no human could access it all within one lifetime. But they were pleased.
It was progressing better than expected.
Grab and go. Quick and quiet. In and out. "Don’t be Rambo.”
That had been the plan. And, as things usually did, it had all gone south.
The Patriots, after all, weren’t going to let their bargaining chip go without a fight. No matter how much he had planned for this mission, no matter how hard he had worked, they had the advantage of information and preparation. He would never have been given the element of surprise, no matter how much skill he had.
Hell, maybe they’d planned even this. It’d explain why Olga’s child wasn’t already dead.
Still, in terms of first impressions, the one he hadn’t wanted to give was of himself, silhouetted in a flashing red light and sheathing a blood-drenched sword, his face and his skeletal suit matted with fluids that weren’t his own.
He supposed it was, on the other hand, fitting. “Jack the Ripper.”
The child in front of him (no older than four, Raiden guessed) didn’t seem to care that he looked like some kind of demon. They stared quietly at him from within his shadow, their large eyes wide, but their mouth a thin, unquestioning line. He was struck, first, by how much he was reminded not just of Olga, but of himself at a similar age - the long, wispy blonde hair, the expression, the innocence.
He was struck, second, by another thing that reminded him too much of himself for comfort. The empty room. No windows. The one door. Solid, unyielding steel walls. A showerhead. A toilet. No bed, or crib, or pillow. Just the flashing lights of a computer with seven monitors, a hydra in a closet, with a chair just small enough for a toddler to sit in.
And, finally, he was struck by how the child was nude. They stood in front of him without the slightest hint of shame or modesty, and he wondered if the very concept of clothes was foreign to them.
The Patriots hadn’t even afforded them the decency of rags. No one had ever come to dress them. No one had ever bathed them. No one had ever spoken to them. Based on the mail slot at the bottom of the door, no one had even fed them. Had they seen, briefly in the night, another human come to take their filthy dishes? Or had they never once been given the courtesy of knowing the existence of another person like them?
Everyone in this facility had cheerfully gone about their daily lives while a toddler - a baby - had lived an existence so cruel in its emptiness, in its inhumanity, that even he could hardly imagine it. It made him sick. It made him worse than sick - it made him feel that every drop of blood he’d shed today was deserved, and that was a sickness of its own.
He took a deep breath and crouched down to the toddler’s level. He wasn’t good with kids. He’d barely been a kid himself, much less been around kids. Even if this child wasn’t, for all he knew, half-feral, he didn’t know what kids were like.
“...Hello,” he said awkwardly, lifting his blood-soaked hand as slowly and non-threateningly as he could manage.
They didn’t respond. They just stared, not at his hand, but at his face.
God, this was going to be hard.
“What’s your name, little...?” Don’t say ‘guy.’ “Uh, buddy?”
He realized that was a stupid question. Why would you give a name to something that was less than a pet? He looked around for some kind of clipboard or medical chart, a tag, a number, but found nothing. If Otacon’s research had shown anything, there wouldn’t be any traces of them anywhere, not even within this facility. No trails, paper or digital. As if they didn’t exist.
They continued to stare.
“No name then,” he said, more to himself. “Well, my name’s...” Raiden. “Jack. You can say that, right?”
The child opened their mouth, but no words came out. They coughed violently instead, and for a horrible, too-long instant, he thought the Patriots had finally decided to pull the plug.
“J... J...” they said, tears in their eyes. Their voice was unbelievably hoarse and dry. It sounded as if sandpaper could speak. “Jack.”
He tried to smile reassuringly at them. “That’s right. I’m Jack. And I’m here to help you. We need to get a move on, OK? So... I’m going to pick you up, and we’re getting the hell out of here. Got that?”
He didn’t know what he was expecting them to do in response. He was expecting them to be frightened. To resist or run screaming from the blood-covered monster in front of them.
Instead, they stuttered, “O-O-OK.”
He reached out and carefully nestled his gloved, blood-slick fingers under the crook of their arms, lifting them up. He realized this was the first time since their birth that they’d probably ever been touched by another person, so he was exceedingly gentle with them as he slid one arm underneath them and cradled them in the crook of the other.
“I’m going to have to fight bad guys,” he told them, as they stared into his eyes. He unsheathed his sword with his now-freed hand, adrenaline already flowing his combat nanomachines back through his bloodstream. “It’ll be scary, but don’t make any noise. OK?”
He’d actually managed to do it. He’d broken into Area 51 and escaped, alive, with Olga’s child.
Now came the hard part. He was driving a stolen jeep, covered in blood, carrying a sword, with a naked toddler in the back seat. There was no possible way this looked like he wasn’t insane.
So his only refuge was complete and utter audacity.
He drove straight to the nearest town of Rachel, Nevada (population of about fifty), got out of the jeep, and walked right into the only motel with Olga’s child cradled in his arms. The clerk merely raised their eyebrows.
“Room, please,” Raiden announced.
The clerk gave him a room.
After one long shower, a change into his only other set of clothes, and a quick trip to the home of a neighboring rancher, he returned to the motel room and crouched down in front of Olga’s child. They were sitting placidly on the bed, exactly where he’d left them.
“I, uh, couldn’t get much,” he admitted, raising a shirt that would have fit Snake better than himself. It had a cartoon of a UFO and aliens on the front, along with the words ‘WELCOME TO RACHEL!’ “But it’s better than nothing, I guess.”
They continued to say nothing in response, so he merely helped them to get the shirt over their head and their arms in the sleeves. It hung off their tiny, skeleton-thin body like an ocean of blankets.
“Better than nothing,” Raiden repeated to himself. God. They looked so small in it. “So... I’m going to have to call you something. I can’t just call you ‘little buddy.’ You know?”
They stared into his eyes.
“You... seem like a pretty smart kid,” he offered. “Got any ideas?”
Raiden blinked in surprise. That was the first word they’d used besides “Jack” and “OK.” But they only reached out with their skeletal arms and repeated it.
“P-pretty. J-J-Jack. P-p-pretty.”
He hesitated for a long moment. He wasn’t good with children. He really wasn’t, and how could he be? He was a soldier, not a father figure. A soldier was all he was - everything else he tried to be felt like trying to fit a square box into a round hole. But he still reached out towards them too and took them in his arms, and he hugged them tight to his chest (but not too tight), and for the first time in a very, very long time, he started to cry.
They decided on the name Haru. It was a Japanese name Raiden had heard once, somewhere, maybe in a VR sim, and though he didn’t know what it meant, it seemed to fit them somehow. Haru had immediately taken a liking to it, repeating it over and over in their stammering, hoarse voice. They even smiled, for the first time.
Raiden thought their smile was like a sunbeam. Maybe that was what Haru meant. He’d have to ask Otacon - he would know every meaning of it there was, and then a few others.
He just had to get to Otacon first.
After the Big Shell, the former two members of Philanthropy had done everything they could to hide themselves from the ever-watching eyes of the Patriots. They’d gone completely off the grid, holing themselves in a number of safehouses littered all across the continental United States, and abandoning any that were compromised. Finding any of them was a difficult task. Contacting them without giving away all three of their identities to the Patriots was more difficult still.
But he’d do it. He had to. There was no other option.
Otacon had given him one clue to their location - a frequency that connected to a numbers station that, every day at 2:12 PM, played the song “Fly Me To The Moon.” It was inaccessible to the wider Internet, hidden on servers on the dark web and encrypted to only be accessible through codec.
But as it turns out, while he was investigating that lead, he had an additional weapon up his sleeve. Haru took to his laptop like a fish takes for water, which only made sense - a computer had been their only companion their entire life. And as much as Otacon was good at not leaving a digital trail behind him (and he was very, very good), Haru was leaps and bounds ahead of him. They were an impossibly gifted genius - he only had to tell them what information he was looking for and they programmed the algorithms, bots, password crackers, and whatever else he needed to access it.
They worked together for months, travelling undercover from state to state, a regular buddy cop drama. With the scraps of money Haru siphoned out of Wall Street bankers’ accounts, Raiden fed them, kept them warm, and kept them clothed. All the while, he taught them how to talk, how to walk, how to maintain a disguise, even how to use a combat knife. He would have taught them how to use a handgun, if the recoil wouldn’t have broken their arm. If the worst-case scenario came to pass, at least they’d know how to hide, how to defend themselves.
He hadn’t ever once been the type to pray, and he felt alien doing it, but he still prayed every day that never happened.
It was one day along their long road trip, close to the day they made the final breakthrough on the location of Otacon’s signal, that Haru made an unexpected request.
“I-I-I want... I want... to be p-p-pretty.”
He looked at them, in their decidedly not-pretty brown khakis and white buttoned shirt, their expression as serious as ever.
He could hardly say no.
He came back twenty minutes later with all the clothes that would fit them and that they could buy without drawing attention. He didn’t know what they considered “pretty,” or what most people considered “pretty,” besides the fact that apparently included himself, so he’d just bought the standards - blouses, skirts, dresses, and so on.
He had to help them wear them, because they were too young and too sheltered to know how to get them on themselves. When they’d finally managed to get the first outfit on - a white and pink pinafore dress, black leggings, and a gray knit cap - Raiden was immediately struck by how normal they looked. Even with their gaunt frame having filled up over the past few months, giving them more of the chubby cheeks and baby fat they should have had at that age, they still tended to look sickly.
But now they looked like a photograph. They could have passed for any four-year old girl.
They could have been him, he realized, in another world. Another lifetime.
Why did that make his heart ache so much to think about?
He stepped back from them and watched for their reaction, Snake’s words ringing in their ears. They were deciding their own path now, with tiny, baby steps. He had to let them make their own decisions.
They looked down at themselves, left and right, reaching out and pinching the skirt of the dress between their fingers. They looked unsure, their brows creased, and Raiden wondered if he’d made a mistake.
What do they do in movies? he thought to himself. When the girl gets a makeover?
“Twirl in a circle?” he suggested, making a twirling motion with his fingers, but they still didn’t seem to understand. So he offered his hand to them, and they took it, and he twirled them around like a ballet dancer in sneakers.
The dress twirled around their legs, and their eyes widened. They started to laugh, high-pitched and giggly.
Raiden grinned down at them, and they beamed back at him, and he took their other hand in his and started to dance with her, spinning around the room in a circle. It was uncoordinated, not graceful at all, especially since the child still struggled to walk, so it could barely really be called dancing, but something about it made them laugh even harder. It was such a joy to hear them laugh, to see them happy, after they’d been through so much pain and loneliness.
The choices that none of us had, he remembered Snake saying. He had no idea how right he’d been. He’d given this child the freedom to choose, the freedom to be happy, that had been denied to himself - forced to be a child soldier, his parents killed, raised by Solidus, but... more than that. From the day he’d been born, he’d been told who he was, who he had to be, and the rest of his life had been other people telling him different things in the same way.
They deserved better than that life.
After a short while, they were too tired to continue, and he crouched down and took them in his arms, hugging them tight to his chest, but still not too tightly. They were so small, and so frail, and his hands were stained with blood that’d never wash off. He couldn’t hurt them too.
“T-t...” they said. “Thank you. Jack.”
They could never stay where they were for long, even if they wanted to. They were constantly on the move, and even if Haru wasn’t looking over their shoulder, Raiden was constantly looking over his.
Still, they could have fun sometimes.
Raiden sat in a chair at an outdoor cafe, in the hot summer heat, with a large sun hat on his head and huge novelty sunglasses. Next to him was Haru, in a simple dark green dress and equally large novelty sunglasses and a sun hat that threatened to fall down on their head at any second. They were both drinking lemonade through spiral straws.
“Hmm. That one?” Raiden said, pointing to a brunette child a few years older than Haru in a lacey pink dress, wearing a flowery headband. He didn’t bother being subtle, since what they were wearing was already getting them stares.
Haru shook their head.
“Oh, yeah. Definitely too girly.” He looked around. There was another slightly older child there, dark-haired, wearing what looked like military fatigues and huge boots. He was reminded uncomfortably of children he’d seen just like them, but he let the thought pass. He pointed to them. “That one?”
Haru followed his finger and nodded, much to Raiden’s surprise. He didn’t really think they were the type for military gear. Maybe he was rubbing off on them.
“Wait, really?” he asked. “I thought you wanted to be pretty.”
Haru frowned. He wasn’t sure how he’d offended them, but maybe he’d just been wrong in that assumption. But then they pointed to someone else, on their own, even less subtly than him. Even the few people ignoring the strange man and strange child in ostentatious clothes stared.
It was an older child, much older than Haru, basically a teenager, sitting at a cafe table alone and looking bored. They were in a plain black shirt and a short gray skirt with sunglasses hiding their eyes. On their legs was a set of stockings much more prominent than the rest of their simple outfit - pink and white - and below that was a pair of high heels. They turned towards the child pointing at them and then turned away.
Then Haru motioned back to the person he had pointed out before, in the military fatigues. Then, finally, they pointed towards themselves.
“G-g-girl,” Haru announced. “P-pretty g-girl.”
Raiden laughed. It was rare that he had ever laughed - he really wasn’t the type for chuckling or snickering or anything involving being boisterous or jovial. Even in comedy movies, as Rosemary had pointed out to him, he rarely even smiled.
But, around Haru, he laughed a lot more. They bought something out of him, something new, something different. He felt almost, almost normal around them, like a drowning man coming up for air.
“You’re already pretty,” he said with a smile, not even caring that his giant novelty hat and sunglasses made him look ridiculous when he was trying to be serious. “But that’s what you want? To be a girl, right?”
They nodded once, as confidently as if they were hacking into a network.
“Well,” he said, and lifted his glass of lemonade up between them. “Cheers to the pretty girl.”
She looked confused, but then she repeated his gesture, and he clinked the glasses between them.
“C-cheers!” she announced, and he didn’t think anything of laughing that time, because she laughed too.
It wasn’t your violent nature that scared me. It was your room... your heart. There wasn’t anything in your room - only a bed and a small desk. It looked like a prison cell...
No television set, no family pictures, not even a poster...
A lifeless room... almost like your empty heart.
“J-Jack! Eggs! Eggs!”
Raiden jolted. He’d been zoning out staring at the sunny side eggs he’d been helping Haru to make, and they were turning brown. Quickly, he turned off the fire and moved the pan to another burner before he accidentally burned down the house that someone had been kind enough to let them stay in.
“Sorry. I’m... not a great cook.” He smiled at her. “Better than Rosemary, though.”
He used a spatula to check to make sure that the eggs weren’t blackened, and then he set them onto a plate.
“I... oh. I didn’t tell you about her,” he said, awkwardly. “She’s... we’re...” He struggled to find the words. Rosemary and him hadn’t been on the best of terms since the Big Shell incident. He was at fault, but... she always told him it wasn’t actually his fault, whenever he tried to explain to her that, sometimes, he didn’t even think she was real. PTSD, she said - he didn’t think that quite described it. “Girlfriends. You know what a girlfriend is, right?”
She frowned, and then pointed towards herself.
“Friend? G-girl?” she tried.
He can’t help but crack a smile. It was funny that she knew every programming language in existence, but she didn’t know what a girlfriend was.
“No, you’re... definitely not my girlfriend.” He almost said ‘you’re my daughter,’ but stopped himself. That was completely ridiculous. She wasn’t his daughter, she was... something else, even though he wasn’t sure what that is. But they absolutely hadn’t known each other long enough for him to call her his daughter - he can’t imagine himself as a father to anyone at all. “A girlfriend is, uh... I guess it’s someone really close to you, closer than family. Someone you want to marry? That’s... also a girl.”
She nodded in understanding. She’s smart. It makes sense that it wouldn’t take much for her to understand.
He served the eggs and sat down at the table with her.
“You might have a boyfriend someday, Haru,” he said, and then quickly added, “Or a girlfriend, or... something? Or nothing? Or both?”
Her brows furrowed, confused.
“Well, I mean... it’s your choice.”
“Girls...” she said, staring at him intently. “G-girls... h-have girlfriends?”
Huh, he thought. He wasn’t expecting that to be the part she stumbled over.
“Yeah. Girls can have girlfriends...” he said, raising two fingers on separate hands and bringing them together. “And boys can have boyfriends.” He repeated the gesture. “Or you can just... not be with anyone, if you don’t want to be.” He lowered the number of fingers to just one.
She nodded, took a bite of her eggs, and made a face. He cringed - he’d have to get better at making those.
“You know, Snake and Otacon are basically boyfriends,” he added, to lighten the mood.
“R-really?” she said.
He let himself smile. “Well, they wouldn’t say that. But they’re....” He paused when his brain immediately went to the words ‘secretly fucking.’ Even he wasn’t dumb enough to say that to a four year old. “Definitely in love.”
“L-like... y-y-you and R-Rosemary?”
He quickly took a bite of his own eggs. They tasted worse than any rations he’d ever ate. They tasted like roasted paste.
You’ve changed, Jack. I barely recognize you anymore.
There’s nothing to recognize, Rose! I’ve never known who I am!
He forced a smile and looked at Haru.
“Yeah. Like me and Rosemary.”