#an adult who GOT HER from the shelter
I find it odd how the fandom focuses so much on Aang’s childhood being ruined when he learned he was the Avatar at 12, but there’s very little talk about how discovering she was the Avatar as a toddler affected Korra’s life and how she was raised.
But we’ll circle back to that...
Because this is a good starting point to talk about one of the most prevalent themes in the story, which the mainstream discussion of tends to only focus on a few characters -- That is the Child Prodigy.
We’ll start with the two most obvious. The ones we always talk about.
The clearest example of your typical child prodigy (if there is anything typical about a prodigy). Azula showed early mastery of very advanced Fire-Bending techniques, and is the only Fire-Bender to use blue flames, which was intended to make her stand out amongst the other villains but is also indicative that her Fire-Bending is more pure and powerful (blue flame is produced when burning pure O2 or fuel without contaminant at a very high temperature).
All this lead to her being praised and favored by Ozai as a child, but as double-edged swords go, this also meant she had a lot of pressure on her shoulders to never fail, and she rarely did. Her ego matched her talent, and let’s be honest she was the baddest bitch the show had ever seen. Conquering Ba Sing Se, defeating the Avatar in combat, and dropping some of the most devastating lines of dialogue in villain history; she was a force nobody wanted to reckon with.
And that become a problem for one asshole in particular...
Being jealous of his own child is just one item on a laundry list of reasons why this guy is the worst father in the history of fathers. Azula had begun to outshine him with her victories, and Ozai’s maniacal ego couldn’t handle that, so he left her behind to babysit the Fire Nation while he went out to burn/conquer the world, which also was her idea.
And while this wasn’t the only thing that aided in her demise, it certainly was the final straw which sent her spiraling down into this...
In the end Azula is a sad example of how certain unfair expectations are placed upon talented children, and the more they succeed, the more these expectations grow and weigh on the them until they either disappoint those looking down on them or surpass and embarrass their elders.
It is a lose-lose situation which inevitably destroys them.
There is a similar example of the child prodigy, but his story goes a little different.
Even as a twelve/thirteen year-old boy Aang by far has the most impressive stats among any character in the Avatar universe.
Basically mastering 3 of the 4 Elements in less than a year, after mastering Air by the time he is twelve (not to mention inventing his own Air-bending move, the Air scooter).
Aang is an example of a child prodigy who had too much thrust onto him at too young an age because of the talent he showed; because of this he panicked and ran away, and the world was worse off for it.
Aang/Sokka/Katara’s story is all about how in times of War, responsibilities normally handled by adults are pushed onto kids who then have to grow up very fast in order to deal with it all.
The message is clear. War robs the young of their childhoods.
Now, let’s talk about a different kind of child prodigy.
Yes, of course I’m talking about Toph, the greatest Earth-Bender to ever live.
Because of her blindness, Toph’s family tried to keep her sheltered and safe by hiding her from the world. Refusing to believe she could ever be more than helpless. Anyone who has seen the show knows that is far from the truth.
But because her potential went unseen, there were some negative effects to her personality. Initially, she resented her parents, and rebelled; which established a certain level of independence, a bad attitude, and a hot-headed streak. Over time spent with the Gaang these behaviors subsided because she finally had friends and they accepted her for who she was. By the end of the series she was fully willing to accept aid from them when she needed it, like holding on to Sokka’s arm in environment where her bending couldn’t help her “see”.
Toph’s story is a foil to Azula’s, both showed immense talent and badassery, but while recognition of Azula lead to ever-mounting pressure for her to succeed; the lack of recognition for Toph created a need for her to be acknowledged and set an undercurrent of frustration which leads to her acting out in the ways she does.
The lesson to take from Toph’s story is not to shelter your kid from the world out of fear for their safety, and to be open to recognizing their talents, not shun them.
Next are two more Unacknowledged.
Katara and Sokka.
Their story, and the reason behind their circumstances, is one of the more complicated and nuanced ones in the series, so here we’ll focus on how it fits into the subject of discussion.
Because of the War, Katara was robbed not only of her mother but also of any Southern Masters to train her, and any role models Sokka could have looked up to left with his father to fight. Because of this Katara’s potential and Sokka’s genius went unacknowledged not due to neglect but rather due to circumstance. (Yes, I think Sokka is a genius, how many 15 yr olds do you know that can plan an invasion, design submarines, and spit poetry off the cuff?).
This is a further example of how War robs kids of necessary childhood experiences, and these two robberies had particular effects on both Katara and Sokka’s character developments.
Sokka had the responsibility of protecting his home put upon him at a young age. The men of his tribe leaving prevented him from completing his rite of manhood until the Gaang ran into Bato of the Water Tribe, and early on Sokka was constantly trying to prove himself as a man and a leader. Sokka is one of the smarter characters of the series, but he rarely got credit for it until the third season. Not to mention that because he wasn’t a bender he often seemed less useful than the others. The circumstances of war made his talent go unnoticed and because of that he often was unsure of himself and overcompensated to prove something.
Speaking of talent going unnoticed.
Katara is definitely one of the more talented benders of the series. After training herself for years with little progress, she essentially mastered Water-Bending in a few weeks under Master Pakku. While her anger towards the Fire-Nation mostly centers around the loss of her mother, it can’t be ignored that the delay in her training was a direct result of the Fire-Nations’ actions. Toph’s anger and frustration vented itself as rebellion. However, the same frustration and anger is within Katara, but because she wasn’t as natural a bender as Toph she sought to learn and be respected, and when that was denied to her is when that anger bubbled to the surface in some terrifying ways.
While Toph’s talent went unnoticed because of her families neglect, Katara and Sokka’s wasn’t acknowledged because there was nobody to acknowledge it. Because of that both brother and sister wanted to prove themselves to the world.
And then there is Zuko.
I know what you’re thinking. Zuko wasn’t a prodigy, his Fire-Bending skill didn’t catch up with Azula’s until the finale and he never mastered Lightning-Bending, but this section is about the Unacknowledged.
Zuko had many other talents besides Fire-Bending, he was a master swordsmen, and was able to successfully break into every secure facility he attempted in the show (which was almost every secure facility the show featured). Unfortunately, these talents were never recognized, because the only thing the royal family cared about was bending ability (It’s possible the reason he learned the sword was because he lacked skill in Fire-Bending).
As per usual with Zuko, this part of his tale is quite sad. Many can relate to being outshined by a sibling, and when it becomes all too clear that one cannot match another’s talent it’s quite understandable to focus on what they do excel at, but even then there is no promise of recognition for their own talent. Zuko was even mocked by his father during the solar eclipse when Ozai tried baiting him into attacking with his swords.
This lack of recognition is one of many sad aspects of Zuko’s early life, but it is a definitive example of one of the hardest unacknowledged prodigy’s cross to bear. The Outshone prodigy, one whose talents are never noticed because a bigger and brighter star stands in the way of such recognition, and arguably the most frustrating type mentioned here. Toph/Sokka/Katara all came from situations were there was no recognition being given to them or anyone, but Zuko had to bear watching massive amounts of praise be piled on to his sister while he and his accomplishments went by the way side.
Ozai summed up the situation best.
“Azula was born lucky, Zuko was lucky to be born”
Alright now where have I been going with all this?
So, far we’ve covered a lot of wrong ways to treat a child, whether they show talent or not, and how the circumstances of war can also take many things from children.
But what happened to Korra?
(Before we get into to this I should state that I like Korra, and the purpose of this is not to bash her as a character or her arc, but rather to give a little of my insight into it.)
It’s well established that Aang was told of his heritage too young, and that was a detriment on his development into an adult, but what would have happened if he realized his powers himself not long after he could walk? We’ll never know, but we do get to see the effects it had on Korra.
When she revealed herself as the Avatar, Korra set her entire life in a new direction, and because Aang tasked the White Lotus with finding and training her that direction was out of her control. There are two key differences between Korras’ and other Avatars’ lives.
1. She grew up in isolation on a White Lotus compound.
Every Avatar before Korra we know of spent a portion of their early lives traveling the world in order to master the elements; along this journey they not only learned how to bend the other 3 elements, buy also many things about the 3 other nations and the world they are tasked to protect as a whole. By confining Korra in safety and bringing the masters to her the White Lotus deprived Korra of this opportunity to learn and grow and understand the world and the people within in. It also deprived her of learning modern bending styles until she reached Republic City.
While this might have kept Korra safe from the Red Lotus, it grew within her a naiveté about how the world worked, and because of this when she actually did venture out into the world she was terribly unprepared for it.
2. She was trained and mastered 3 of the elements by the time she was 16.
Most Avatars don’t know they have this power until they reach 16 and then they spend several years learning to control it. Korra’s natural talent in the bending lead to her training being expedited not by necessity like Aang’s, but due to her talent and eagerness. Korra excelled at the physical part of being the Avatar and because of this by the time she reached maturity she had become over-confident in her abilities and true to what her Fire-Bending master said in Ep.1 she lacked restraint.
I’m not saying her bending isn’t great, but rather because it is so great it’s her go-to solution to anything, and she enjoys that so she uses it with enthusiastic gusto and not a lot of thinking before striking.
This overconfidence coupled with her naiveté of the world is what lead to many of her rash decisions and actions, most of which had negative consequences, and I believe are the reason behind some fan are dissatisfied with her. Aang had been almost the complete opposite, even by the age of twelve he was an experienced world traveler and an incredibly humble guy.
Some may have been dissatisfied by these character decisions, but they served a purpose, they are only the beginning of her arc. The internal challenge Korra must overcome through 4 seasons is to humble herself before the world, and learn from it. This was finally achieved in the 4th season when the metal poisoning in her body forces her to face others in the world as equals, only then had she completed her journey.
And why did it all go this way?
Because she is a very unique child prodigy, what she demonstrates in the first episode of LOK would be akin to a toddler playing the violin or hitting a three-pointer; she could bend 3 elements close to just after learning to walk. That is the kind of prodigious talent rarely seen because it is mostly impossible. How does a rational person handle a child like that?
It’s a tough question, and something this essay has been circling around the whole time. Each example here is the wrong way to handle talented and different children, but what is the right way?
As always look to Iroh.
Who treated his surrogate son Zuko with both respect and compassion.
Unlike Toph’s parents, Iroh worried over Zuko’s well being, but also allowed him to be independent, make his own decisions, and take his own risks.
Unlike the Nomad Leaders, he didn’t want Zuko weighed down by his position in the world and the responsibility that came with, and always encouraged him relax and take advantage of the moment.
Unlike Ozai, Iroh would always be there to support Zuko in his victories and his failures. Iroh shows him the right path but does not force him down it.
And even after Zuko betrayed and abandoned him.
Iroh was never angry with him, and embraced him upon his return.
He wanted Zuko to grow and be a better man. Even if Zuko wasn’t a prodigy like his sister.
And that is the answer here. The way to raise a prodigy is the same way anyone should raise any child. Love, Support, a Guiding Hand rather than a Forceful Shove, Recognition of What Makes Them Unique, and Forgiveness When They Falter. The problem comes along when you start treating children differently because you see them as different or special. All children are different, all children are special.
Kids are kids, and they all deserve a proper childhood.
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Being an Agender, 1st-Gen Indian-American
I’m a first-generation immigrant, with both my parents being Indian immigrants. My mom immigrated to Canada before she came to America (when she was in her late twenties), and is a Canadian citizen. She was born and raised in Ahmedabad, a city in Gujarat. My dad moved to India when he was in his early twenties. He moved from Ahmedabad to Mumbai in his fifth standard, and moved from a Gujarati-medium school to an English-medium one.
My dad is more fluent in English than my mom, though they both are fluent and speak mostly without an accent. I speak Gujarati more-or-less fluently, since that’s what we spoke at home, but I can barely even write my name. I’m Hindu, as is my family, and a strict vegetarian. I’m agender, but I use she/her and they/them pronouns.
One of the biggest issues in the Indian-American community is the issue of body hair. I’m AFAB, so I was expected to have smooth, hairless legs and arms. The reality was rather different. Since the age of ten, I had more body hair than the boys in my class. I was mocked and called by the name of a TV animal character, whose name was a mispronunciation of my own. No one ever did anything about it. I was eight. My mother, though she meant well, pushed me into waxing and threading and other forms of hair removal since the day I turned eleven. Even now, as a fully-grown adult with my own apartment and my own life, I can’t bring myself to wear shorts or capris without having spent hours making sure my legs are smooth. Body hair is a huge issue that needs to be addressed more, and not just as a few wisps of blonde hair in the armpit region.
It’s complicated. Growing up, we had thaalis (with roti, rice, sweet dal, and shaak [which is a mix of vegetables and spices]) for dinner almost every night. When we didn’t, it was supplemented with foods like pasta, veggie burgers, and khichdi. We made different types of khichdi each time, based off of different familial recipes that were all named after the family member who introduced them. My mom had to make milder food for my sister, and while my sister loves spicy foods now, I’m still not a big fan. A side effect of growing up in a non-white, vegetarian family is that no one in my family has any idea of what white non-vegetarians eat. Like, at all. It’s kind of funny, to be honest.
My mom is a Vaishnav, and my dad is a Brahmin, so the way they both worship is very different. My dad’s family places a huge emphasis on chanting and prayer, as well as meditation. They mostly pray to capital-G G-d, as the metaphysical embodiment of Grace. My mom’s family, however, places emphasis on– I don’t want to say “idol worship" because of the negative connotations that has– but they worship to murtis, statues that represent our gods. My mom’s favored god to pray to is Krishna, and we have murtis in our home that she performs sevato every day.
We celebrate Janmashtmi, Holi, Diwali, Ganesha Puja, Lakshmi Puja– too many to count, really. We don’t always go all-out, especially on most of the smaller celebrations, but we do try and attend the temple lectures on those days, or host our own. We also celebrate Christmas and Easter secularly. I didn’t even know Christmas was a Christian holiday until I was in elementary school, and Easter until I was in high school.
Whooo, boy. Where do I start?
When my sister was in first grade, she had a friend. I’ll call her Mary. Mary, upon learning that my sister was not, in fact, Christian, brought an entire Bible to school and forced my sister to read it during recess, saying that otherwise, she wouldn’t be her friend anymore. Mary kept telling my sister that she would go to hell if she didn’t repent, and that our entire family was a group of “ugly sinners.” When my sister came to me for advice, I told her that Mary wasn’t her friend, that Mary wasn’t being nice, and that my sister wasn’t going to go to hell, and that we don’t even believe in hell. When my sister finally stood up to Mary and told her that she wasn’t going to listen to her anymore, Mary got angry and dumped a mini-carton of chocolate milk on her and told her that “now she looks like what she is– a dirty [the Roma slur term].” Not only was that inaccurate, it was extremely racist, and Mary was only reprimanded for the milk-spilling, not the racist remark that came with it.
On top of that, since I have long hair, I’m always getting asked if so-and-so can touch it, or what I do to get it so long, or why I allow myself to be “shaped by such backwards ideals of women.” My name is never pronounced correctly, and I’ve been asked to give people my “American name” to be called by instead of my actual name. I’ve been called a terrorist, asked why I wasn’t wearing a hijab (by white people btw), and mocked for my food. I’ve been told that I wasn’t “really Indian” because I didn’t have a dot on my forehead. I’ve been told I wasn’t “really Hindu” because I had milk on my plate, by a white boy whose mom was a leader of a local choir.
I grew up in a town where only 4-5% of the population was South Asian, and there were a total of five South Asians in my grade level. The school administration consistently and intentionally placed us in different classes, and I never made a friend that was South Asian until 7th grade. When I came to the school, I was placed in ESOL without even being tested, while also being in the Advanced Readers class. The school didn’t even care to look at my school records before placing me into ESOL based on the color of my skin.
Things I’d Like to See Less/More Of
I’d like to see less of the “nerd” stereotype, of the “weak, nonathletic” stereotype. I’d like to see less of the “prude” stereotype, of the “I hate my culture/feel I don’t belong” stereotype. I’d like to see less of the “rebellion” stereotype, of the “my parents are so strict and I hate them” stereotype. I never want to see the “unwanted arranged marriage” trope. Ever.
I want to see bulky, tall Indian characters. I’d like to see Indian characters confident in their sexuality, whether that’s not having sex (for LEGITIMATE reasons like risk of STDs, general awkwardness before and after The Deed, and wanting to wait, not “oh my parents said so and also I’m sheltered and innocent”), or having a new sexual partner every night.
I want Indian characters (especially children/teens!!!) proud of their culture and their heritage and their religion, whether that’s Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, or anything else. I want to see supportive Indian parents, I want to see more than chiding Indian grandmothers and strict Indian fathers. I want to see healthy arranged marriages, or healthy mixed-marriages. I want to see mixed Indian-POC couples, I want to see queer Indian couples.
I want to see body hair on female-presenting characters, I want to see more of India that isn’t “bustling market with the scent of spices in the air” and “poor slums rampant with disease” and “Taj Mahal”. I want to see casual mentions of prayer and Hinduism and Indian culture (a short “My mom’s at the temple, she can’t come pick us up” or a “what is it? i’m in the middle of a holi fight! eep! ugh, gulaab in my mouth” over a phone call, or a “she won’t answer until 12– she’s in her Bharatnatyam class/Gurukul class/doing seva/at the temple” would suffice). I want to see more Indian languages represented than just Hindi. There’s Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, Nepali, and Kashmiri, just off the top of my head. The language your character speaks depends on the place they come from in India, and they might not even speak Hindi! (I don’t!)
I hate that Indian culture is reduced to “oppressive, strict, and prudish” when it's so much more than that. I hate that Indians are stereotyped to the point where it is a norm, and the companies reinforcing these stereotypes don’t take responsibility for their actions and don’t change. I hate the appropriation of Indian culture (like yoga, pronounced “yogh”, not “yo-gaaa” fyi, the Om symbol, meditation, and Shri Ganapathidada) and how normalized it is in Western society.
This ended up a lot longer than I had expected, but I hope it helps! Good luck with your writing :)
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OK SO UH
ADVENTURE TIME: DISTANT LANDS OBSIDIAN TRAILER IS HERE!!! GO WATCH IT!!! OBSIDIAN WILL RELEASE ON THURSDAY THE 19TH OF NOVEMBER. THAT’S ONLY TEN DAYS AWAY.
Anyway, here’s my trailer breakdown. This is kind of just an emotional outpouring of everything that stuck out to me so sorry if it’s a little rambly.
Right off the bat I’m curious to know what’s going on with Princess Bubblegum. We saw at the end of the finale she was hanging out in Marceline’s house, and similarly this trailer depicts her having domestic moments with Marceline. So is she still ruling the Candy Kingdom? Has that responsibility perhaps passed on to somebody else? Or am I reading too much into some establishing shots designed to tell the viewer that this is set post-finale? Who knows.
The song in the background is, of course, “Monster”, the song sung at SDCC by Olivia Olson. We’ve already heard the full song, but it’s nice to hear a cleaned up studio version. I wonder when in the episode it will actually be sung, and whether or not it will be diegetic.
It looks like we’re going to be getting plenty of new Marceline and Bubblegum outfits over the course of the special. Even the establishing shots of Marceline’s house featured three different ones, which makes me think these shots will actually appear as a montage in the episode itself. It wouldn’t make much sense for them to change clothes over the course of the same scene otherwise.
Okay, as much as I want to, I’m not gonna fill this post with every Bubbline shot because I’m sure there are plenty of people doing that already.
THEN THERE’S THIS FUCKING SHOT:
The little girl on the right is almost certainly Marceline, but who is the person on the left? Simon, Marceline’s mom, and Hunson all come to mind but don’t really match the mysterious figure. It could be some kind of weird hybrid flashback scene where young Marcy is leading adult Bubblegum through her past. Whatever the case, this is clearly shortly after the war, and I am standing by my theory that the Glass Kingdom could be located in the Earth’s crater.
I don’t have a lot to say about the Glass Kingdom and its inhabitants. These are new characters and locations and it remains to be seen exactly how they will tie into Marceline and Bubblegum’s story. The animation and background design is looking exceedingly good, though. Again, this landscape doesn’t really match any of the deserts we’ve seen in Ooo so far, which makes me think this is somewhere else on Earth.
A fun Easter Egg: This shirt Marcy is wearing is the shirt given to her by Hunson in the episode “Marcy & Hunson”:
It’s interesting to see that what a lot of people assumed were spacesuits is actually motorcycle gear. I actually checked if Marceline’s motorbike is the same one she rides in the Thunder Road graphic novel, which would have been a neat tie-in, but unfortunately it’s not. Also I love that Glassboy has been duct taped to the back and covered in bubblewrap.
Oop there’s the storyboard we’ve seen. Seems like Marceline has been summoned by Glassboy to come and defend the kingdom against this mysterious dragon and its dark minions, which is pretty much what we already knew from the bits and pieces of plot information that have already been revealed.
It’s cool to see Bubblegum putting her elemental powers to use. She didn’t get much opportunity to show them off before the show ended. So far, most of the spotlight has been on Marceline, so I’m also interested to see what role Bubblegum plays in this story, and how her character will develop.
Also THE MORROW IS BACK! Bubblegum’s trusty mount was last seen helping her perform recon over Gumbaldia before the finale, but it looks like they’re getting back into the hero business this time.
We already know from the screenshot Muto posted that there is going to be a visit to a human gas station, but this looks more like some kind of bomb shelter. This is certainly one of the darker shots I’ve ever seen from Adventure Time. It looks like we’re going to be getting a lot more Mushroom War lore. Marceline’s dejected stance here makes me think this place has some personal meaning to her. If that skeleton turns out to be her mum or something I will never stop crying.
That’s all I’ve got for now. There’s probably some stuff I haven’t noticed. I haven’t looked at anyone else’s reactions or thoughts yet, I went in totally blind.
There isn’t long to wait until the special now! I was certainly not expecting a November release. Expect an Easter egg/lore breakdown from me when it drops!
Farewell for now!
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A lad finally gets some of that coveted spotlight!
Benjamin Bane (just Ben or Benji, thanks) may be the youngest of the active Autobot team as their sprightly scout who’s got a chip on his shoulder he wants to hurl into the next Functionist or Decepticon picking on him for his size, and who’s been through quite a bit despite his age, if the burn on his left arm, the slide bite on his right hand and the multitude of old cigarette burns he’s reluctant to explain are anything to go by.
When not on the field, he’s an avid dancer (with a love for ballet, something he could only pursue in secret until recently, and something which forms the core of his offensive style) and a good enough artist that he, alongside Mirage, are the two assigned to decorate armor for the team.
His smiley, chirpy facade hides quite a couple of issues, including PSTD and self-esteem issues, anxiety attacks, and an urge to please those he trusts even if it comes at his detriment.
More to his story below. (TW for child abuse)
Benjamin Bane (Bumblebee) would be hard-pressed to come up with a single good memory concerning his biological family during his childhood, and not for the lack of trying.
Born to an upper middle-class family in New York comprising a bullish, hot-tempered police sergeant father and a housewife mother, he grew up in the shadow of the son his father, who came from a family of law enforcers, wanted him to be in order to carry on the family legacy.
That he was a gentle, bubbly, sensitive child who loved following his mother around in the kitchen and spending his free time drawing did not bode well for the image his father wished to portray, and it didn’t take long for the discipline intended to mold him into a ‘man’ to become horrifically physical when he was barely five.
His mother, already used to his old man’s temper and quick hand, would often step in to take the punishment meant for him whenever he did something undesirable, though she couldn’t save Ben from the man’s wrath completely, and by the time he was nine, he was never seen without a hoodie in school and had perfected every excuse he’d been told to repeat when asked why he could not take it off or why he would come in on some days with a split lip.
He was small for his size, quiet, and took great pains not to be noticed, which had the opposite effect of making him the target of every other larger child looking to blow off steam, and he became good at running.
There was no running from home however, home where the walls were insulated so neighbours wouldn’t hear what was happening within, and while some days would be better than others, there wasn’t a moment that he didn’t break into a cold sweat whenever he heard his father’s footsteps approaching his room.
With his mother unable to bear more children due to an illness, his father furiously continued with the campaign (sometimes the carrot was used though mostly it was the stick) to mold him into the son the man wanted, so he could make the cut during the streaming process prior to high school where students would be sorted into their future occupational classes.
What support he might have had from his mother in his young years also evaporated, as she pushed him to be the son his father needed him to be to keep the peace, putting the weight of the household’s sanctity on his slight shoulders.
He was forced into marksmanship lessons (where his first attempt to fire a gun went awry and left him with a deep slide bite wound), multiple self-defence classes to toughen him up (helpful for bullies whenever they didn’t come in packs), and a series of workouts to encourage a growth spurt so he could catch up to other potential cadet candidates.
The little sliver of hope that he would be good enough to make the junior police cadets went up in smoke when he was assigned to the manual class instead, owing to his size and his visceral aversion to handling firearms.
Branded as worthless and only good for paying off the ‘debt’ accumulated from the classes his father had earlier forced him into, Ben entered high school with his self-esteem scrapping at topsoil and digging deeper, and had it not been for a chance encounter with another boy who was evading a group of military-classed students intending to instil a lesson about talking back to those higher in the hierarchy, it might have dug itself into a grave.
The boy, who introduced himself as Guillermo ‘Memo’ Gutierrez after Ben dutifully sent the bullies scattering, was also assigned to the manual class and both of them decided to stick together for safety in numbers.
Ben had ruefully accepted his lot in life after years of being broken and beaten down. Memo, however, had a loving and supportive family; this kept the spark of his defiance to the system alive and he kindled it in Ben’s by giving his friend a safe space to escape to whenever the situation at Ben’s home became too intense.
Among Memo and Memo’s family was the first time where Ben opened up about his interests, could speak freely and found acceptance for what he liked and who he was.
The desire to reclaim the things he loved pushed him to seek out part-time work, which he eventually found after befriending a girl, Charlie Watson, who had helped put an end to the harassment he and Memo endured at school by playing the hierarchy to their favour and wielding her Navy ‘prime-pick’ status.
That she actually wanted nothing to do with the class she was pushed into (Navy) and wished to pursue a career in automotives despite parental objections was something that she and Ben bonded over, and she brought him to the scrapyard her uncle ran where he found work sorting out car parts and helping perform repairs.
He began to pursue art and dance in secret with part of his pay (keeping his sketchbooks and supplies at Memo’s place and taking dance lessons under the guise of after-class study sessions), while saving up the rest and planning for the day he would eventually break free of his father, ‘debt’ or no ‘debt’.
During this time, he subtly packed away important items and was careful not to anger his old man more than his mere presence already did on a good day——something which would become increasingly hard when the Clampdown began.
He would hear his father rant over the dinner table about how ungrateful the protesters who were made up mostly of the Manual Class were, how they weren’t worth the safety net they were demanding for the job they were doing, how they needed to know their place.
He would hear, as time went by, about how his father would beat the ones who were arrested, and more than once, how he would be killed if he, as the man’s son, ever did something as stupid and insolent as that.
He bit his tongue through all this and reluctantly refused Memo’s offer to join a peaceful protest for better wages and workplace compensation.
The protest turned violent after police assaulted those taking part however, and as he watched the news hoping to see if Memo was alright, he saw his friend among those who were tossed into the dreaded black vans to be brought over to stations for interrogation.
His father, fielding a call from a colleague about the batch of protesters being brought in, told them to separate the adults from the teenagers, who would be easier to break, and it was at this point Ben’s spark turned into a bonfire.
As his father got dressed for work, he crept into the man’s study and managed to figure out the combination to the safe where the man’s gun was kept, retrieving it and aiming it at the police sergeant who came in and demanded for him to stand down.
Ben, in turn, demanded for his father to call the station and have Memo released, and when his father laughed at his audacity, mocked the way his hands shook while he was holding the gun and threatened to beat him senseless once this was all over, he shot the man close enough to the head to clip an ear to prove a point, before repeating his demand again.
This time, his father complied and called the station to order for Memo’s release; Ben’s relief however was all the momentary lapse of guard that his father needed to rush in and attempt to wrest the gun back, and in the struggle, he accidentally shot his father in the knee.
Under the hail of threats on how he was going to die once his father got hands on him, Ben flung the gun where the man could not reach, grabbed one of the bags he had secretly packed and ran out of the house to the screams of his mother.
He called Charlie and explained the situation to her, as both of them made their way to the station where his father worked to pick up Memo, who was confused about the state of affairs.
At 18 years, Ben was now a fugitive who could no longer go home; Memo brought him to the manual class district where Ben could hide among allies, and it was here that he spent a few months in hiding, disguised as a manual worker.
However, still fully terrified at the thought of his father eventually hunting him down within the confines of the city, he made plans to leave and head to the West Coast, far away from any chance that he would meet his old man by accident on the streets.
To his surprise, Charlie and Memo elected to join him in the move, and the three of them left together on a Greyhound bus; Him to escape his father, Charlie to escape her future with a military complex which her father died for and Memo to protect his family after he was named a person of interest in the protest.
However, they were forced to stop in Texas when police were inspecting passing buses for runaway Cold Constructs. Here, they met Ian Hart (Ironhide), a rancher secretly helping Cold Constructs escape ownership by crossing over into Mexico to start new lives.
Ian, seeing how they ran from the bus, assumed they were young Cold Constructs and immediately took them in and offered them shelter; when they explained their situation, he kept his offer, letting them stay until they had their plans sorted out and paying them for work done on his ranch in the meantime.
All three of them grew fond of him and spent a month working on his ranch, helping out equally between his longhorn cattle and the Cold Constructs who would come in scared, starving, and seeking refuge from bounty hunters looking to bring them back to the establishments they were assigned to.
Someone however, had gotten wind of Ian’s clandestine operation, and the man was arrested during a midnight raid, though not before he flung Ben, Charlie and Memo into a secret basement with three Cold Constructs who he told them to help cross the border the next day.
They did as they were told, but decided to return to the ranch to figure out how to help Ian, and when they came back there, it was to come face to face with two strangers who were also seeking Ian after seeing him on the news.
These strangers introduced themselves as Omar Parvez (Optimus Prime), Jace Zayden (Jazz) and Preston Wan (Prowl), members of a rebellion that had sprung up in the UK, and upon hearing that they had been with Ian for the past month, requested for their help in tracking the man down to save him from a terrible fate at the hands of government interrogators.
Realising that they were now caught up in something bigger than they ever imagined, Ben nonetheless accepted the request, unwilling to stand back and do nothing while a good man suffered.
Youth, size and a lifetime of abuse would not be an obstacle to him helping someone else, especially with his best friends by his side.
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Steve Rogers x Reader AU
Run-through: Tony Stark found you while on a mission one day, since then he raised you as his own daughter. Most of the Avengers knew nothing about you, because Tony was so protective over you that he kept you sheltered and cut off from most of the outside world almost all the time. The few people who knew about you were Nat and Steve. And they adored you, even though you were a whiny baby most of the time despite being a young adult. However, somewhere in his all righteous, super soldier heart, hidden in a shadowy chamber beneath all the courage, loyalty and bravery - Steve Rogers nurtured his immoral, sinful desires for you. He was a composed man, and he thought he could keep it all hidden, in complete secrecy and perhaps never let his improper feelings show. But that was until he no longer could…
Themes: fluff, smut, age gap
“Steve!” you shouted in excitement, almost running to the front door to greet your favorite super soldier.
His laughter filled the entire house as you jumped into his arms, wrapping your arms around him and gave him the tightest hug you could. “Hey doll! Happy Birthday!” He wished you, returning the same excitement you showed him.
You pulled away from the hug, smiling as big as you could. His deep, ocean blue eyes looked down at you in awe.
“Well I’m not jealous at all. Not even one bit.” A voice spoke from behind Steve.
Steve moved to the side and your face lit up again at the sight of Natasha standing there with the biggest teddy bear you had ever seen under her arm. She gave you her signature smirk and you went in for a tight hug.
“Nat! I missed you!” You whispered against her hair. She chuckled and kissed the side of your head.
She pulled away smiling, “Don’t lie, we all know you only ever miss Steve.” She teased and walked past you and Steve and further into your home.
Once she was gone, you immediately grabbed Steve’s hands and led him inside the lavish living room.
“You just turned twenty one, doll. Are you excited?” Steve asked, letting his attentive gaze roam all over you. Something about you always made his body tingle with excitement.
You looked adorable, he thought, as always. The blue dress looked perfect on you, and as much as he tried to fight the urge to look down at your chest, he couldn’t. He felt something stir inside him the more he looked at you. So he looked away.
“I don’t know. Being a grown up is scary.” You answered, mindlessly playing with Steve’s fingers as you walked into the spacious living room.
“Hey,” Steve said gently, turning his body towards you. He carefully cupped your face to make sure he has your undivided attention, “You don’t have to worry about anything. We’re all here for you.” He meant that with all his heart. “I’m here for you, I’ll keep you safe.”
You smiled up at him and went in for another bone crushing hug. “Thank you Steve.” You mumbled against his chest.
Steve kissed the top of your head and wrapped his arms around you. He could feel your body heat pressing up against him - and his mind went straight to filth. He couldn’t help it, he tried. He always tried to suppress what he felt for you and hide it beneath many, many layers but he could never truly get over you.
Steve met you for the first time just a few weeks after you turned 18. Because that’s when him and Nat finally figured out what secret Tony had been hiding for so many years. It was you; you were the perfectly hidden secret that Tony kept away from the rest of the world. The adopted, darling daughter of Tony Stark.
Tony was very much protective of you. You only ever left the house when accompanied by someone. You were very much sheltered too. Too innocent for your own good. Shortly after Steve met you he realized that you were void of all the sinful things which filled the heads of most young adults your age. You were a perfect, pure little princess who was needy and playful but also more beautiful and feminin than any woman Steve had ever met.
He was whipped, gone. You had him wrapped around your little finger and he wasn’t even complaining. He caught feelings pretty quickly for you, thinking it was nothing Steve thought he would get over it soon. But here he was now, years later and still feeling the same way.
He knew he couldn’t be with you, Tony would kill him. But at the same time, the thought of you with someone else enraged him. He couldn’t bear the thought of another man touching you like he couldn’t. Something in him flipped like a switch when it came to you; he no longer wanted to be just or brave or be the hero or the knight which saved everyone.
With you, he felt something much stronger, darker. The need to protect, the need to be territorial. To be selfish, and keep you all to himself. All his righteousness faded into sin around you. Secretly, he liked how everyone knew that he was your favorite. He liked how whenever you were being difficult, Tony would always call him for help to deal with you. He liked how even with other people around, you chose to stick to his side like his shadow.
He loved it, loved you.
“Okay honey, make a wish.” Tony spoke as soon as he finished lighting up all the candles. Twenty one of them.
You were so excited, on your tiptoes as you closed your eyes and thought of a wish and right as you bent to blow your candles, the sound of the AI alerting something urgent was heard. You looked at Steve, a little nervous, and he was by your side in less than a second.
“It’s okay, princess. It’s okay, it’s probably nothing.” He whispered, wrapping a protective arm around you while Tony and Nat were looking into what information they had just received.
And judging by the look on your dad’s face, you could tell something bad had happened somewhere in the world, and they needed him to fix it. Which meant that you would have to spend the rest of your birthday evening all alone in this big, empty house.
“You have to go to work?” You asked Tony, tears already forming at your waterline. You sounded hurt and heartbroken.
Tony walked over to you and pulled you into his arms. Steve had to hide how he hated having to let go of you, as he took a few steps back to let Tony hug you. “I’m sorry, honey. But people need help right now.” He whispered into your hair. “I have to go.”
Steve noticed that Nat was already gone, probably getting the Jet or calling the rest of the team for backup. Part of him knew that duty came first and he hated how he’d have to leave you.
You pulled away from Tony’s hug, “You’re all gonna leave me alone on my birthday?” You asked, looking so broken that Tony felt his world breaking apart. He looked past you and his eyes landed on Steve.
“No,” Tony answered, “Steve will be here keeping you company and keeping you safe until I return. Okay?” Tony knew that you loved spending time with Steve more than anything, and he knew that your mood would get a little better upon hearing that. “Right Steve?”
Steve was surprised. It’s not that the team wouldn’t be able to manage without him, but he truly wasn’t expecting this.
“Yeah. Of course,” he spoke as you turned to face him with tears in your eyes. He reached out and gently wiped a tear away. “Don’t cry princess, I’ll be here with you. Let Tony go, he’ll be back before you even know it.”
You sniffled, weighing it out. Hmm, spending time with Steve was your favorite thing to do. But that would mean having to let your dad go. You hated it when Tony went away on missions. But you also knew that this was important. This was his job as Earth’s best defender after all.
“Fine,” you mumbled, a little grumpy.
Tony gave you a kiss on the forehead and apologized and promised to make it up to you when he came back, and left.
Within the next half an hour, Tony and Nat were gone. You watched the Jet take off from your bedroom’s balcony, tears streaming down your face. You hoped and prayed that they came back home safe but you were also hurt and angry that they left you on your birthday.
You stared at the night sky until the Jet could no longer be seen, then you walked back into your room and angrily started undressing, murmuring under your breath, “Stupid, stupid, stupid! Stupid dress! Stupid cake! Stupid birthday!” you got stuck in your dress because of the zipper and that’s when you started sobbing.
Steve heard you crying and hurried his way upstairs and into your room. He found you knelt on the ground, on your soft rug, crying. Your dress was almost off but not quite, stuck around your hips, exposing your entire upper body. He pretended not to see the black, lace bodysuit you were left in. Your hair was a slight mess and the teddy bear that Nat gave you was thrown carelessly on the ground. Steve approached you with caution.
“Hey princess,” he spoke softly. Your hands covered your face but he could tell you were silently crying. “What’s wrong? Don’t you wanna go downstairs? We can have a movie night, and there’s so much cake-,”
You cut him off with a calm, yet bitter tone. “I don’t want that stupid fucking cake. I don’t want a stupid fucking party. I want my dad, and Nat.” You sniffled. “But where are they? Right, out saving the fucking world because people need them. Well I need them too.” You sniffled again. “Throw that stupid fucking cake away!” You raised your voice by the end.
“Hey!” Steve grabbed both your hands and pulled them away from your face. His heart broke at the sight of your teary eyes. “I know you’re upset, but watch your language.”
You lowered your eyes in shame. “Sorry.” You mumbled.
Steve settled down on your rug, leaning against your bed as he gently pulled you onto his lap. You happily settled on his thighs, like you had many times before. And he noticed that you didn’t seem to mind your semi nudity.
Steve placed his hands on your thighs, rubbing them gently. He reached behind your back and unzipped the dress fully so you could take it off. You tossed the dress aside and Steve watched how you purposely threw it and made sure that it landed on the teddy; Nat’s gift to you.
“That wasn’t nice.” Steve pulled your closer, praying to God that you don’t notice his erected cock pressing against you.
“I hate it.” You mumbled, crossing your arms over your chest and huffing in anger.
“No you don’t.” Steve fought back a chuckle. “You’re adorable when you’re angry.” The correct word would be ‘smoking hot’ but he knew he couldn’t say that out loud. But fuck did you look hot.
You glared at him through your lashes and he could no longer hold back the chuckle.
“Oh come on. There’s so much we can do.” He tried to get you in a better mood. And there was one thing which worked each time, “You want ice-cream?”
The minute he said that, your face lit up in excitement. “Yes please!” You bounced with excitement right on his lap and Steve had to fight back the urge to lean in and kiss the living hell out of you.
“Alright then,” he tried to ignore the way his body was begging for you. “Wait right here, I’ll go get you some.”
Steve walked out and was back in less than five minutes. He wondered if you had gotten dressed in the meantime but when he walked back into your room; you were just as he left you. Half naked on the floor, waiting patiently, sat on your fluffy rug.
“There you go,” as he handed you your tub of ice-cream and sat down next to you he also noticed that the teddy that Nat had given you was no longer on the floor but perfectly placed on your bed. He was right after all, you didn’t hate it. “Wanna watch a movie?” he turned to look at you and found you with a mouth full of rich, chocolate ice-cream.
Steve couldn’t sit still. The sounds of your moans of delight after each spoonful of ice-cream was driving him insane. And you weren’t doing it on purpose either. But he was falling apart, he could no longer maintain his calm and composure.
He had to do something to get you to stop before he loses it. “Okay now, that’s enough. You’re gonna get sick.” He took the spoon and the half-empty tub from you and you groaned.
“No,” he set it aside, looking at the mess you made with ice-cream all over yourself; somehow all over your lips and chin. “You’re a mess, princess.” He said, looking at you lovingly.
You felt the sudden need to get on his lap again, so you did, probably high off all the sugar. You straddled his thighs and scooted closer to him. “Clean it.” You demanded, playfully.
You caught Steve by surprise. His arms wrapped around you instinctively but he was still a little surprised by your behavior. “Okay,” he reached out and wiped the sides of your mouth with his thumb and then he got lost in your eyes and before he knew it, he began leaning in.
Your lips met his halfway, and while he was still surprised he kissed you gently; testing the waters. You kissed him back, slowly. Steve smirked through the kiss and deepened it while he gently laid you down on the fluffy rug, on your back. He hovered above you, your legs wrapped around his waist. He nibbled on your lip, tugging on it before slipping his tongue past your lips. You moaned, letting him do what he wanted.
Steve’s heart raced in his chest as he pulled away to look down into your eyes. He then saw the wild look in your eyes. Had you always looked at him with that look in your eyes?
“Hey,” he said softly, caressing your cheek with his thumb. “What’s that look for?” He couldn’t help but ask.
Your face felt really hot for a moment, then you answered, shyly, “I… I’ve always wanted to kiss you.”
Steve’s eyes widened in surprise. Then he chuckled, “Is that so?”
You nodded quickly. And Steve leaned in for another kiss; he kissed you with all he had. He had dreamt of kissing you so, so many times. But not once had he ever thought that it would be on your bedroom floor, on your pink rug.
You could feel his hunger through his kiss. Your hands gently cupped his face to pull him closer when he tried to pull away. Steve smiled and kissed you with more passion and he didn’t stop until you pulled away to take a breath.
“Why didn’t you ever tell me?” he asked, looking down at you and wondering if this was truly happening. You got shy and tried to hide your face but he wouldn’t let you. “No no, answer me princess.”
You told him the truth. “I was… scared that you didn’t… that you wouldn’t- I was scared that you wouldn’t believe me if I told you how I feel.”
It was true. Ever since you met Steve, you have had a secret crush on him which morphed into something so much more over time. No one knew, it was your little secret. Although, not so much anymore.
Steve fought the need to smirk. “And how do you feel?”
You released the lip you had in between your teeth. “Right now, tingly.”
Steve smirked. “Show me where, princess.”
You grabbed his hand, the one which gently touched your face and you guided it down till in between your legs. “Here.” You were almost breathless.
He immediately cupped your core, applying just the right amount of pressure against your throbbing clit. He chuckled before leaning in to kiss along your jaw, whispering sinfully, “Mind if I touch you?”
You let out a quiet moan, “Please…”
Steve kissed down along your neck as he gently moved your underwear aside and gently slid his fingers up and down your wet folds. You gasped the moment he slowly circled your clit. You moaned when he dragged his finger down and pushed it past your entrance. “You okay, princess?”
You nodded. “More...please,” you whined.
Steve placed his mouth back onto yours and then added another finger and started gently pumping them in and out of you.
He placed his thumb on your throbbing clit and rubbing it gently while he finger-fucked you; your wetness dripping and smearing all over his hand. You threw your head back and moaned when his fingers touched you in all the right places. Your body squirmed, your back arching off the floor as he made you feel good.
“Have you ever thought of me? While touching yourself? Hmm?” He asked and your face burned again and you whispered out your answer.
He chuckled against your lips. “You dirty, dirty little girl.”
You moaned again when he sped up; his fingers stroking your walls perfectly and increasing the sweet pressure forming in between your hips.
“Are you gonna cum for me, princess?”
You nodded at his question and caught yourself grinding your hips against his hand; moaning and whimpering.
“It’s okay, princess. Let go, cum for me…”
You didn’t hear the rest of what he said. You came all over his fingers, moaning out loud in pleasure. Coming undone all over his hand as he kept pumping them in and out, getting everything he could out of you.
Steve pressed his lips to yours and kissed you like there’s no tomorrow; there was nothing gentle or innocent about the kiss anymore, just hunger and passion and pure craving. He moaned through the kiss when you slid your hands into his hair and tugged on it gently.
He couldn’t take it any longer, he had to feel you. So before you could process what was happening, Steve tore your body suit off of you like it was nothing. You gasped in surprise but before you could say anything, he diverted your attention elsewhere by kissing down your body.
“Do you know,” he kissed along your chest, “how long I’ve wanted this for?” He took one of your breasts into his mouth, sucking and teasing it with his teeth before releasing it and giving the other the same attention. “Been waiting to kiss you,” he kissed further down your body, “to touch you,” he settled in between your legs and spread them further apart, “to taste you…” you felt his warm breath and then you felt his warm tongue, parting your folds gently.
Your back arched off the rug as his tongue slowly circled your throbbing clit and licked down again, teasing your entrance with the tip of his tongue. You whined and whimpered; with your legs wrapped around his head, your body squirming in pleasure and your moans incessant. Your hand flew to his hair instinctively and you tugged on it as he flicked his tongue and teased your clit over and over again.
You felt your legs shaking as he teased your entrance with the tip of his tongue. His hands wrapped around your thighs, securing you in his grip as he pushed his face further into you, making you cry out loud in pleasure.
“Steve…” you whined.
You heard him chuckle as he kissed along your inner thighs for a moment. “You’re gonna cum for me again, princess?”
You nodded, and let out a moan when he got back to eating you out. You had touched yourself before, but none of that compared to what his mouth felt like.
“Go on, cum for me again…”
You did. You came all over his mouth, shaking and moaning in pleasure under him. He looked down at you in pure adoration. “You did so good, baby.” He leaned in to kiss your lips briefly, “So good,” he mumbled against your lips.
Next thing you knew, Steve tossed his shirt off and started unbuckling his pants to free his erected cock. He couldn’t wait to just be inside of you but before he could, you got on your knees and gave him a look he couldn’t quite understand.
“What is it, baby?” he gently touched your cheek.
Your lips were swollen, and he couldn’t take your eyes off them. “I want to make you feel good too.” You mumbled, quietly, avoiding his eyes.
Steve smirked and leaned forward to kiss the side of your mouth. “You want to use that pretty little mouth and make me cum, is that it?” he sounded cocky, and his sinful words sent shivers down your body.
You nodded, shy despite your request. Steve stood up immediately; towering you with his tall and large frame as you remained on your knees in front of him. You realized that you liked it when he looked down at you.
“Go ahead princess, make me feel good.”
You inched closer to him and went ahead and unbuckled his pants and lowered it just enough to free his erected cock. You bit your lip as you looked up at him, “But I… I don’t know how…” you finished in a whisper and a nervous look in your eyes.
Steve traced your mouth with his thumb, urging you to part your lips. “Know what you do to those big lollipops you love so much?”
You nodded at his question.
“Just like that, princess. Go on,” he inched forward, pressing his tip to your lips.
You parted your lips, sticking your tongue out and licked his tip.
Judging by the way he hissed in pleasure you assumed you were doing something right and it only made you want to hear him moan even more. He inched his hips slightly forward, encouraging you to take more of him into your mouth.
“Come on, you can take it princess…”
You did. You let him into your mouth and then pulled him out, then let him in again. You watched how his face morphed into a frown as he gently slid his fingers into your hair. Steve looked down at you and smiled, you got the hang of it pretty quickly.
In no time you were bobbing your head around him. You took him in inch by inch until he hit the back of your throat.
“Fuck…” he swore under his breath again as you took him deeper into your mouth. “Your mouth feels so good, princess.”
His praise gave you a rush. You wanted more. You wanted to be good for him; good to him. You wanted to be his good little princess. So you gave him your all. You took most of his cock into your mouth and repeated your actions again and again, letting his raw taste fill your senses.
He bucked his hips forward very gently into your mouth, and loved the sight of your spit coating his cock. He moaned and growled and tugged on your hair occasionally as you pleasured him. His taste was all you could focus on; his raw taste, the occasional saltiness of his cum and the feeling of his smooth skin against your cheeks and the top of your mouth. You felt the veins of his firm cock against your tongue.
You closed your eyes to keep the newly formed tears from escaping, and you sucked his cock until he came undone all over your tongue; groaning and hissing in pleasure. You swallowed all that he gave you, licking his tip gently even after he came; wanting to get every last drop of him.
He smiled down at you, “That’s enough baby, stand up.”
Steve leaned in to kiss your face once you stood up again; along your cheek, your lips, your chin, whispering, “You did so well. I’m so proud of you, princess.”
You stood there, a faint smile on your swollen lips as you let him shower you with compliments. Steve wrapped his arms around you as he walked the two of you back until you felt the end of your bed. He pushed you down on it gently.
“I need you… bad,” he mumbled, looking down at your naked body lying there in front of him. “Will you be my good girl, baby? You’re gonna let me make you feel good?”
You nodded, lips parting as your heart raced. “Yes…” You were a bit too eager.
Steve discarded the rest of his clothes and he was on top of you in no time. He parted your legs and settled in between them. “You ready, princess? It might hurt a little bit, but it’s gonna be okay. I’m here, okay?”
You nodded quickly.
“Good girl,” he mumbled under his breath and lifted his hips to align his erected cock to your entrance. You instinctively spread your legs apart to give him more room.
You squirmed and moaned as he rubbed the tip of his cock up and down your wet folds, parting them as he circled your clit gently. You shuddered under him; whining in need. Your body was on fire, you wanted him. Bad.
With a slow, steady push, he inserted his length into you. You shuddered as you felt all of him. A strange pressure building up in between your legs as your body accommodated him inside.
“You okay, baby?” He asked, stopping halfway.
You forced your eyes open as you looked up at him, nodding, “Yeah…” You gasped as he pushed his cock further into you, your eyes closing once he was seated deep inside you. It took you sometime to get over the foreign, yet pleasurable feeling.
“Look at me.” He almost moaned, and the sound forced you to open your eyes again. “I want you to look at me while I fuck you,” he whispered a little breathlessly, looking intensely into your eyes.
Your eyes were fixed on his as he gently pulled out and pushed back into you again. You whimpered, but his kisses and soft words calmed you down. He sped up just a little, rocking his hips against yours. He stared into your eyes, speeding up into you again as he repeated his actions.
“Does that feel good? Do you like having me inside of you? Huh?” he whispered, leaning in to kiss your open mouth, shamelessly shoving his tongue past your parted lips and stroking the inside of your mouth as you nodded, or tried to.
His lips left your mouth and kissed down your face. You moaned again as he bit and licked the skin beneath your jaw, all while fucking you like his life depended on it. Passionately and gradually speeding up.
Your legs trembled as you wrapped them around his waist. The tip of his cock touched your most sensitive spots and your back arched off your bed.
“You feel so good, baby…”his voice cracked as he whimpered in your ear. You could feel your walls clench around him, and tighten around his thick member; making him swear out loud.
“Steve…” you whimpered as fucked deeper into you.
He groaned, and swore and bit down on your skin as he felt his orgasm building up nicely. “Are you close, baby? Are you gonna be my good little princess and cum all over my cock, huh?” He cooed. “Come on baby, cum for me…”
He didn’t slow down as you felt your orgasm wash over you, he kept pounding into you as your eyes rolled back and you moaned out his name as you came. “Steve….”
Your body trembled under him as you came. He caught his breath, then leaned in to kiss you, repeatedly. Whispering something you couldn’t make sense of at the moment. Your mind was clouded, with lust mainly.
You weren’t sure how long it took you to calm your heartbeats and your breathing, but when you got back to your senses you were cuddling Steve, holding onto his chest. Your ear was right above his heart and his steady heartbeats calmed you down.
“You did so well, baby.” He whispered, kissing the top of your head.
You were quiet for some time, and Steve thought you had fallen asleep but then you replied, “Thank you, Steve.”
You smiled, turning your head to kiss his damp chest. His cologne was fading but it was still there, and you loved it. “For always making me feel safe.”
“This is gonna be our little secret though. Okay, princess?” He asked, playing with your hair and running his hand down your back.
You giggled. “I know, I won’t tell anyone.”
Steve caught the mischief in your tone. “God, you’re gonna use this against me to get all the ice-cream you want in the world, aren’t you?”
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↳ suna rintarou x f!reader
summary: after a viral pandemic wiped out half of the world’s population, a group of abandoned young adults embark on a life-threatening journey in hopes of finding a safe permanent home. unfortunately, for you and Rin, love is only a temporary option.
genre: heavy angst, unrequited, post apocalypse au, 18+
cw: profanity, smoking, mentions of suicide
notes: sorry if this one took so damn long but we r down to four chapters !! <3
series masterlist -> part seven
Haru was already squeezing you in his arms before you had the time to react. The familiarity with his scent, his embrace, and the comfort he brought was enough for you to tighten the arms that you’ve wrapped around his neck, not caring about anything else but the guy in front of you.
Although you were overcome by lassitude from the recent events, seeing someone from home reminded you of home. He had always been a kind person to you even beyond the relationship that you’ve shared as a ‘couple’ from way back in high school. Haru exceeded being just an ex—he was a true friend who looked after you even from afar. A friend that cared about your well-being without having to be romantic. Platonic, you supposed, was the best word to describe it.
Perhaps that was why you placed no malice at enveloping yourself in his warmth. You were simply happy to know that he was alive and his eyes reflected the same domestic felicity when he briefly pulled away to look at you, “You’re still alive.”
Because of Rintarou. You pushed your thoughts away and smiled, “Takes a while to get rid of me, you know?" Only then did you realize that he was in a military uniform after you separated from the embrace. “Oh, you’re—?”
“Yeah, I... They needed more guys to help around,” he explained, eyes never leaving yours. “They thought I was fit enough to join the military so, you know. The world’s different now, Y/N. Doesn’t matter if you’re trained for it.”
You weren’t really surprised that he’d be asked to join the military because he was a superstar quarterback in high school. Aside from being physically fit, he had bigger chances of surviving from his cardio routine alone. Running from Zs? Thrashing them? Killing them? On a scale of 1-10, the difficulty level of it was probably just a 4 to him. If Rin was skillful with his shotgun, Haru was adroit with his combat.
“You’re made for this,” you told him. Made to save lives, made to be the strongest in a room full of fragile people. Before you knew it, you were wrapping your arms around him again. “I missed you so fucking much, Haru. I’m so glad to see you here.”
You could feel his smile even if you couldn’t see it. His hot breath tickled your skin as he whispered the words, “me, too," on your left ear. You had no idea how much of his family was gone but you were certain that not all of them were saved. All families lost a member or two, if not all. Haru and his family were not exempt from it.
“Sunarin, you coming?”
You dared not to turn around at the sound of Suna’s footsteps going further away from your earshot. He left. He could have been shocked to see Haru, but there was very little ounce of care that you could give for him at the moment. Thinking about Rin was hurting you and Haru saw the pain in your eyes after glancing back and forth between you and the group who had now gone into the cabin.
“How did you find yourself with them?” was an inquiry that matched Haru’s questioning gaze.
Biting your inner cheeks, you answered, “Rin came to my house and took me along.”
There was a glint of intrigue in Haru’s chocolate eyes, a glint that spoke for itself and told you that he was wondering if anything further happened between you two. “Interesting.”
Not. You decided to avert the topic to something more important. “Haru, listen... I need to see Asher. Can you please tell me which cabin he’s in? We got separated on the day of the rescue and I-I have to see him. I wanna know if he’s okay, please...”
When disappointment washed over his face, your heart skipped a beat in anticipation of the bad news. “Asher’s not here in Tokyo, Y/N. I’ve been here for more than three months. Survivors from the Osaka camp were transferred to Aomori. It’s the safest place right now aside from Okinawa.”
Aomori. You mapped it out in your head. Aomori was far up north just as how Aran mentioned it. For fuck’s sake, was the pain you’ve gone through for the past 4 months not enough? Was this pain endless? Never-ending? Like an abyss of eternal suffering? It seemed as if the air filling your lungs were not enough to supply your body’s demand for oxygen. All you wanted was to see Asher safe and sound. You just wanted to see your brother and take care of him until your last dying breath, but the fact that you’d still have to keep going through this arduous traverse across the country just to search for him was making the situation almost impossible.
You must have looked so wan because Haru’s eyes suddenly bathed in concern. You just couldn’t bear the thought that you’d have to travel again and risk your life fighting even more undead creatures throughout your journey.
Would you still pursue it? Of course. You’d rather die attempting to find your brother than simply not doing anything at all. No matter how many death-defying risks you would have to face when you did go on this journey, at least you would be one step closer to Asher. He needed you and you have to do whatever it took to be with him.
For now, you ought to find your shelter at this current safe zone amongst many other refugees who lost families and their homes. Every where you looked, all of them were occupied with something. Some kids were playing hide-and-seek, some teenagers were sitting outside of their bivouacs—this could have been a typical summer camp in the woods had you not have any knowledge of what the world really looked like from outside the borders of this military base.
As your eyes wandered to appreciate the small community they’ve built in the camp, Haru’s warm hand suddenly grabbed yours. “Come on, I’ll show you around.”
And he did. You spent the past hour walking around the campsite while Haru introduced you to the ‘world’ inside the Tokyo camp and how the people in here were all still in denial of the zombie-infested cacotopia beyond the tall cemented walls. It was a coping mechanism not to be reminded of how ugly the world has become while they were here in their temporary sanctuary.
Somehow, in the middle of your tour, you met some of Haru’s friends that he confided with on the duration of his 3-month stay in here.￼￼￼ There was an Alisa and her brother Lev, a Kuroo, a Bokuto, an Akaashi, and a Kenma. They were all really nice people who shared the same fate as you—orphaned and just trying to survive while they still could. Happy go lucky, living their life at the moment. ‘Every second of each day counts’ were Alisa’s words of wisdom when you sat with them for supper. It was a cathartic feeling to be surrounded by people who all exuded contagious positivity. The only way to cope from the trauma was by appreciating the fact that you could still wake up to a new day despite living in an age of an apocalypse.
Dinner regularly commenced at 7PM and the food were prepared in a manner that reminded you of the school cafeteria—rationed for each person equally to cater to everyone else in the camp. Tonight, the menu was bread and baked beans although Akaashi claimed that the good home-cooked meals were always during the weekends when more supplies would come in. It was only a Wednesday, so if you could last three more days in the camp, you could perhaps get a taste of the ‘better food’ that he was talking about.
“Gimme my bread back!” Kuroo griped towards a food-stealing Bokuto who sat across him from the picnic table. The silver-haired guy was already munching on the bread before the former could snatch it back. “Fuck you.”
Bokuto grinned, “You said you were limiting your carbo!”
“I didn’t say you could still take it!” he retorted, huffing while Haru sniggered from beside him. Both Bokuto and Kuroo were also in military uniforms which gave you the conclusion that it was how they met Haru and had gotten close to him. You weren’t really surprised since they gave off the vibe of having the same humor and interests in life.
The tattooed guy had an arm around you as you sat at the edge of the bench in front of Alisa who asked, “So, how did you come here?”
You acknowledged her friendly smile in return. “Um, I actually came with,” you paused, considering if it was even right to call the other group ‘your friends’ after feeling ostracized some few days ago, “I came here with some people from my school. We kinda just ended up surviving together by fate.”
You happened to have spotted the other group from three tables away and you honestly wished you hadn’t because you could see Rin not paying attention to whatever story Atsumu was telling them because he was busy staring daggers at you. What was his problem? He already had Sophia sitting on his lap. There was no need to look so cold and demeaning towards you.
“I’m guessing they’re the people from your school?” Alisa chimed in, following your gaze as you snapped out of your staring contest with Suna.
Responding with a mere nod, Haru squeezed your shoulder to distract you. “Alisa, don’t you know Y/N’s my ex?”
Oh, God. “Haru,” you shyly elbowed his gut, to which he chuckled to.
Alisa’s eyes sparked in humor. “The cheerleader?”
Now that earned a cackle out of you as you turned to Haru to playwith his messy undercut. “You still talk about Naori, huh?"
He was quick to deliver his defense, “No, I just mentioned her once,” turning back to Alisa, he reminded, “I meant the other one. The cute innocent ex, but not so innocent in—”
“Hey!” You covered his mouth, watching his suppressed chuckle while your cheeks were limned with a red tint. It was crazy how Haru never changed despite the colossal impact of the deadly outbreak.
“Rin, where are you going?” Hearing Sophia’s voice stole your attention as she ran after Suna who darted away from their table in obvious aggravation.
Today was for the first time in four months where you’ve barely paid him any attention and you weren’t particularly sure if he still deserved it in the first place. He didn’t need you now that Sophia was around so you chose not to feel concerned even if the lack of interaction bugged you. You missed him, of course you did, but your newfound pride had you keeping your distance from him and it was surprisingly very freeing.
“Yo.” Turning your attention back to the new group, your eyes widened at the sight of Atsumu greeting everyone else as if they were his best of friends. To add to that, the guy had a stupid simper on his face to match his hubris. “What's up, Y/N's new friends? The name’s Atsumu Miya.”
Lev, who was sitting next to Kenma, was gasping at the sight of the twins. “Woah, woah! There’s two of them?”
Osamu showed himself from behind his blond twin, scratching the back of his head before timidly introducing himself. “Osamu Miya,” he spoke, towering over everyone next to his brother.
“Twins amaze me so much, bro! They're like clones,” Bokuto delighted. “Must be hard for your mom, though. She had to stay pregnant for eighteen months.”
What even... The perplexed look that the guy earned from everyone else was almost comical but you tried not to laugh.
Atsumu, however, did not shy away from guffawing. “Yo, I found my guy! I like ‘ya already!”
With a quick handshake and an instant connection, you agreed that the two dumbass really clicked. Perhaps Bokuto was the Atsumu of the group while Kuroo was their Osamu. Either way, while Atsumu found his new set of friends with the two guys, Osamu and Haru nodded at each other in acknowledgment.
“Good to see you here,” was Osamu’s first greeting, standing at the corner of the table with hands in his pockets. “Life’s a mess, huh?”
Haru agreed, "A fucking mess. I witness people turn into zombies every single day. Who thought we'd have to live a real-life Walking Dead episode?"
"It's not just an episode for sure." The grey-haired twin smirked, shaking his head in dismay.
It was pretty nice to see them getting along even if they weren't really close in high school. Since the population had decreased into an alarming amount, you knew Osamu simply appreciated seeing someone from his hometown. If only Akari was still alive, she would have been here with you talking about how crazy this life was and how she wished that you could all just turn back time and be high school kids again.
Unfortunately, your only closest friend died after she committed suicide the moment she contracted the virus. It was sacrificial in a sense because she did it so as not to harm her family further, but in the end, all of Akari's family had died, too.
The apocalypse gave no mercy to anyone and that was a great reminder of how your life was never in your hands.
Curfews were heavily imposed in the camp where by 10 PM, everyone must return to their cabins because the military were strict with their rules to ensure law and order within the base. One thing they were less likely to deal with was for chaos to ensue in a place that was meant to be a safe shelter so everyone was expected to abide by the rules. You want to survive? Follow orders. Otherwise, you were welcome to become a part of the zombie food chain outside.
They had communal bathrooms in the camp and Alisa was nice enough to offer you some of her clothes that you could use. By then, you took a quick shower to clean the dried up blood on your foot where the Z had previously latched on to and double-checked the area to ensure that you weren't infected. Thankfully, the hot water coming from the shower allowed you to use it as a warm compress for your swollen ankle. It was still painful, but now bearable.
Nonetheless, you still limped when you made your way back to your cabin, halting by the door after you've heard the guys' voices coming from inside. It was 9:45 PM and they should be in their cabins by now.
"Asher's not in this camp," you heard Kita say, "I'm pretty sure Y/N's not gonna wish to stay here for long."
"I might not be able to come with you guys," Aran added, "they asked me to join the troop. I've got no other choice."
It was followed by a groan from Sophia, "Hold on, don't tell me you guys will go with her? Are you kidding me?" and then a pause, "You can't risk yourselves out there trying to be some kinda superhero when we're already safe here. Use your brains!"
"I don't know..." That was Osamu. "I'd personally feel bad if I left her to find Asher by herself. It's not safe and she would need our help. She's been through so much."
Sophia huffed in utter disbelief. "So, what? It's her duty to find her own brother, not yours. I'm telling you guys, you should just... Like, why do you guys even bother? She isn't part of our circle. She can die tomorrow for all I care. I'm not letting you guys leave."
Your nails were digging deep on your palm until they left crescent marks on your plump flesh. It wasn't the fact that Sophia's words hurt you. It was the fact that what she was saying was true. You appreciated that the guys were considering to help you in finding Asher, but you would risk their lives for dragging them along. Your own guilt would only eat you alive. They have already done their part at bringing you here alone, everything else was a journey you'd have to go on your own.
"Don't fucking... You're being so mean right now." Surprisingly, the orotund voice came from Rintarou. You couldn't be wrong. "Don't think I forgot how you wanted to leave her at the house."
"Yeah, what's the deal with that?" Atsumu egged on.
"I'm not talking to you," Sophia directed that question to the blond twin.
Then Kita's voice came back, "You guys, let's just—”
"I made a promise with her," Suna cut him off, announcing the pact that you two agreed to. A pact that you thought he had long forgotten.
"You broke your promise with me while you can't break your stupid promise with her?" His girlfriend then questioned in growing irritation. "Why don't you choose now? Her or me?"
She insisted, "Her or me?"
"You. Always you."
You should have already expected his answer and yet the burning feeling in your chest ignited flames of infinite pain within you. Between you and Sophia, he had always picked her. It was her. Even when he was alone with you, Sophia was the first choice and Sophia would also be the last.
You were growing tired of the heartache that you constantly have to receive whenever you were around him and you were beginning to lose your sense of purpose. Loving Rintarou Suna was directionless, hopeless, and unrequited in itself. The only thing you should worry about at this point was Asher, so you gathered the remaining pride you had in your system to walk inside the cabin and ignore their presence as you paced towards your bunk bed.
If their eyes followed your every move, you no longer cared. Between the eight bunk beds inside the cabin, you were glad that Sophia was at least two beds away so it was easy for you to lay in bed with your back facing them. Your mind was blocking off every sound. An unusual silence overcame the group.
Until it was followed by footsteps approaching you closer. No, not Rintarou, please. Your chest heaved as your eyes remained shut, the footsteps ceased and the next thing you knew, a blanket was neatly placed over your body. The fabric hugged you with the kind of warmth that was enough to suffice the icy pricks in your heart.
Only, when you looked up, you saw Haru's smile when he sat at the edge of your bed. "Just thought it'd get cold 'round here so I brought you a blanket. Good night."
"Good night, Haru."
Asher is safer in Aomori, they said. They have tall iron walls in there, they said. They have better supplies, weapons, and most of the doctors and medical personnels are sent there. As soon as another day began for you in the camp, you were greeted by reassurances from Kuroo and Alisa saying that your little brother would be secured in one of the safest, heavily guarded prefecture in all of Japan at this moment.
You've barely had any sleep last night with thoughts running through your head nonstop. You could deal with homesickness just fine, but thinking about pursuing Asher alongside the thought of your unrequited love for Suna was causing whirlwinds of emotion in your mind and in your heart.
For the rest of the day, you've avoided Suna.
You ignored him during breakfast. You walked past him during lunch. You did your best not to exchange eye contacts knowing that you would only succumb to his spell again and it would be harder for you to stick to your plan.
You couldn't back out now, not when you've already firmly decided for the sake of yourself and your brother.
Haru was kind enough to discreetly give you the map that you asked for before you joined them in the campfire as the group exchanged tales of their experiences and rules to survival. Unsure if you considered yourself lucky, but by the time you sat on the log next to Alisa, Bokuto and Atsumu were already talking about nonsensical things.
"I fuckin' swear I saw a werewolf last night," Atsumu indulged, gaining Lev and Bokuto's interest. The rest of you were just listening to how ridiculous he sounded.
"It's just a dog," Osamu clarified to his twin, "don't be fucking ridiculous. This isn't Teen Wolf."
Kuroo cleared his throat in amusement, "Now going with that logic, this isn't The Walking Dead either but here we are now."
"I miss Netflix, man," Akaashi lamented with Alisa humming in agreement.
"Okay, okay. Just listen to my werewolf story first!" Atsumu whined as Kita shook his head out of secondhand embarrassment. "Remember what they said about werewolves having heightened senses and all that stuff?"
Suna grinned from where he was seated, visibly gassing him up, "No shit?"
"Yes shit," Atsumu continued, "I saw this wolf-like dog, right? Then a few minutes after it disappeared, I came across this guy last night saying that he could hear my bullshit from a hundred meters away. I was like, are you a werewolf, bro?"
Jesus Christ. You didn't come here for this stupid shit.
The guys, on one hand, erupted into roaring snorts that made you chuckle a little. It felt good to laugh again and just simply forget about the millions of problems that you were keeping to yourself. For a moment, you enjoyed the positive atmosphere and the heat coming from the bonfire as you snuggled on your sweater. You felt warm and content, listening to their voices mixing with the susurration of leaves.
That was until your line of sight lingered to the guy across from you. Suna, whose arm was wrapped around his girlfriend, was also planting a kiss on her temple saying flowery words to let her know just how loved she was by him. You said to yourself that it shouldn't hurt anymore. This had been a typical scene between the three of you for the last four years, but how come your heart was still being squeezed inside of your chest? How come the pain just never stops?
Because seeing Suna and Sophia nestling on each other was a sight for sore eyes, you chose to leave.
Your limping feet carried you away from the campfire to look for the only possible guy that treated you with the affection you yearned for. You found him at the smoking area, nodding in acknowledgment as soon as he saw you approaching closer. Standing by his side, he withdrew a cigarette stick from the pack and tapped the filter against the carton before placing it between his lips.
“You alright?” he asked, noticing your troubled expression.
You dismissed any of your obvious fret. “I think I’m going with my plan. Whatever happens, just know that I’m very thankful for you.”
Haru took a long drag from the cigarette before blowing it into thin air, “Y/N, if only I can—”
“No, it’s fine,” you cut him off before he could continue, “Just be safe, Haru. That’s enough.”
He had his arms wrapped around your body for a soothing embrace, later planting a kiss on your forehead. You would have melted on the spot if he was Rin but receiving such affection from Haru was like a band-aid to a broken heart. It doesn’t completely fix it, but just conceals it from further abrasions that it could receive.
As he remained hugging you, you took the opportunity to steal the cigarette from his grasp and sucked the air out of the filter. A grey puff of smoke crawled out of your lips as you released the deadly air from your lungs. There was a menthol aftertaste, similar to the one Suna has, and it only directed your thoughts back to him.
Everything directed you back to him even when your band-aid of a man was right here.
But he was peeled right off your embrace, only to see the man who caused your broken heart glaring at you while snatching the cigarette stick off your hand.
"S-Suna." Your eyes wide, your mouth parted—you watched him pull you close as he shot Haru a look of warning before throwing the cigarette to the ground. You didn’t expect to see him going out of his way to separate you and Haru at all.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing with her?" His fox eyes glowered right through your ex boyfriend's soul.
In spite of that, Haru gave a menacing laugh. "Hugging my ex or letting her smoke? Be clear. She's free to do what she wants." He then placed his hands in his pockets, unfazed by Suna's glare.
“I think you should back off.”
“I think you should mind your business.”
Suna huffed in clear distaste, “I think you should mind who you’re talking to.”
“Don’t need to,” Haru—still unbothered and nonchalant—merely shrugged in response. “Why don’t you go back to Sophia and play your little games with her?”
With the way Rintarou balled his fists, you knew where this conversation was heading to and you just wanted to get out of it. You didn't want to cause a scene, especially in a camp that welcomed you with open arms so the least you could do was prevent any confrontation.
"Haru, I'll just..." You sent him an apologetic look, pulling Suna with you. "I'll talk to you later."
Despite the look of protest in Haru's eyes as you walked away with Suna, you ended up trudging further into the woods but not too far from the main camp. Just enough to be away from earshot before you faced Suna with a heavy, weary sigh. It was now or never.
"Rin, what is wrong with you?" Your brows creased as you locked your gaze on his amber orbs. "Haru's my friend. I can talk to him if I—"
"Friend," he ridiculed, shaking his head at the word he believed was absurd. "First you wanted to 'be with Osamu', now you're leeching off that guy? Your fucking ex? What is wrong with you? Do you plan to be with every guy you see?"
In the long agonizing years that you've unconditionally loved Rintarou, you have never felt an ounce of rage towards him. You resented that he unintentionally did things to hurt you, but never did you really truly get angry with him because you were stupidly in love. Your love for him outgrew any bitterness that you had inside and it was one of the reasons why you had a hard time at letting go.
But with his accusatory eyes, his sharp hypocritical words, and his blatant disregard for your feelings—maybe you have reached your peak. Perhaps you really have grown tired of him, because the only emotions that he summoned out of you now were the 7 years worth of frustration.
“How dare you,” your voice came out shaky as your tears were threatening to spill. Nothing could stop your heart from breaking in half. “How fucking dare you, Suna! You push me around, treat me like a fucking toy, and disregard my feelings over and over like you’re having fun with it because nothing else matters except for Sophia. You made me insecure about myself, you made me feel like...” tears left your eyes as you struggled, “made me feel so low that I started to believe that no one could love me. For seven years, I have only ever loved you, Rin. Seven fucking years. Others would have simply given up!”
Even as his eyes softened and his stance shifted from his previous hostility, you were far too absorbed by the intensity of your emotions because the gravity of your pain was now all falling down at you like an asteroid destroying everything into fragments as it lands.
You didn’t let him speak, you didn’t listen to his subtle call for your name.
You sobbed because it hurt and you finally wish to free yourself from being a prisoner to his existence. “I’m so tired, Rin,” you muttered, wiping your eyes while your lips quivered. “I’m so tired. I know that I’ll still end up loving you no matter what but I think this is where I should finally put an end to my own delusions. You have Sophia and I know you love her and I... I was just... some kinda temporary replacement while she was gone. I accept that now.” Blinking the tears away only made you form new ones. “All I ever did was love you, Rin. Even if it hurts me. Even if I experience pain just to see you smile. But if I can go back in time, I wish I never met you so I won’t have to hurt this much.”
“Y/N...” He tried to grab your wrist, holding on to you as if he wanted to fix your brokenness, but you knew better not to fool yourself anymore. You weren’t meant for him and he was definitely not meant for you.
“Thank you for saving my life that day,” you said, withdrawing your hand away from him. The gloss in your eyes blurred your vision. “I don’t know if I can repay you for that, but one last thing I can offer is to let you go.” You were numb, because for all its worth, letting go was even more painful than loving him. However, this was your only option and giving up on him would be purgative in the end. His eyes told you that he knew that, too. “You found Sophia now and I wish you a happy life with her. I-I wish someday I’ll find someone who can... who can love me that much too, but from now on, I will no longer expect it from you. I don’t wanna burden myself with this pain anymore.”
While his feet were stuck from the sensory overload he was experiencing from your breakdown, you were the one who initiated to walk away. For your sake. For his. Giving him one last look as he stood between the tall forest trees under the fuliginous skies, this was your good bye.
And perhaps the last time you’d ever see Rintarou Suna in this lifetime.
Suna couldn’t sleep last night after he heard those words from you.
The image of you breaking down was engraved in his mind, leaving a void in his heart—a hollowness that would seem to remain until he learned how to grasp what his overwhelming feelings meant to him whenever you were at a close proximity.
He didn’t mean to snap at you. He didn’t know why he did so, but seeing you with Haru tugged at his heart until he could no longer think straight. Suna was aware of how irrational he was, but he didn’t expect that you would breakdown after years of loving him.
It was the amalgam of guilt, frustration, remorse, and agitation that led him to run up to your cabin the first thing in the morning. He wanted to apologize and talk to you because his stupid self didn’t get the chance to speak last night because of his cowardice.
He wanted to right his wrongs.
“Y/N?” he called, peeking inside the empty cabin. It looked like most of the girls, including Sophia, had left for a morning bath. Were you with them, too?
“Sunarin,” unfortunately did not come from you. He turned around to face Kita and Osamu who were both seemingly gauging on his reaction. “She’s not there.”
Suna couldn’t explain the rapid beat of his heart. “Where’s she?”
Osamu sighed, eyes full of fret. “She left the camp.”
Unsure if he heard that right or he was just strongly in denial. He was having a hard time processing the information in his head because he wasn’t prepared for this.
For the first time in his life, Rintarou finally understood what it was like to see his whole world shattering before him.
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why Endeavor wasn’t “protecting” Touya, he was punishing him
And by extension, punishing his own past weakness
This chapter had pretty messy framing, even by Horikoshi’s standards, so I’m not at all surprised that it split the fandom in two. On the one side, some people thought that the chapter showed us a more caring side of Endeavor. On the other side, some were outraged at what looks pretty much like a retcon - cause since when does Endeavor know how to acknowledge people’s limits? Since when does he care about hurting his kids, if he never afforded Shouto the luxury of skipping out on his brutal training?
I... am somewhere in the middle. I think Horikoshi’s intention wasn’t to humanize Endeavor by showing us how he cares, but rather, to humanize him by showing just how deeply he failed as a parent. By showing us how he wasn’t a better father for trying to stop Touya, but a much, much worse one for doing the one thing he knew wouldn’t work. Cause you can love someone and still abuse them. And in fact, Endeavor did. Deliberately so.
(more under the cut bc of spoilers and cw child abuse)
The first thing that jumped to my attention was that Enji acknowledges that he and Touya are the same. Now, while this isn’t exactly a fair or accurate reading of the situation — Endeavor quite literally created Touya as the perfect quirk holder and then groomed him to be the receptacle of his life’s ambitions by Enji’s own admission — what matters for the sake of this meta is that Endeavor sees himself reflected in Touya. More specifically, he sees the man he was in his twenties:
the man who was consumed by a burning need to achieve his goal, but who slammed against the wall of his own weakness instead.
The parallel works, because just like how Touya can’t accept any external criticism and persists on his path (getting angry at Fuyumi and his dad, insisting that he’s the one who knows his body best), Endeavor similarly couldn’t give up his own dream for over 20 years, and persisted despite encountering criticism himself:
Touya even admits that if he feels this way, if he can’t make sense of his own feelings of inadequacy, if he can’t give up, it’s because his father made him feel this way:
Endeavor lit the flame, and then didn’t know how to put it off, because he couldn’t put off the one that burned in his own chest. Which, I mean, makes sense. If Endeavor had known any healthy way of dealing with failed self-expectations, he would’ve never bought a wife to make her give him kids to try and achieve his goal. Which I think is what the chapter wants us to consider, since it opens right on Enji’s meeting with Rei’s parents to sign off on the quirk marriage.
The narrative is telling us: Endeavor doesn’t know when the fuck to quit. And he is directly responsible for teaching Touya to deal with feelings of failure in the same toxic way.
Now, we might argue that Endeavor was trying to fix his shortcomings as a father when he interrupted Touya’s training. After all, he saw the new burns and blisters Touya collected every day and decided to stop for Touya’s own well being. Except... did he really? Was he actually acting in Touya’s best interest?
The story tells us otherwise.
The reading that Endeavor and Touya share the same stubbornness is not an authorial statement, but Endeavor’s personal and biased point of view. It’s just another occurrence of him making easy excuses to himself in order to dodge responsibility, cause Enji’s character rotates around the theme of avoidance. What Enji rationalizes here is not that he failed to provide care and emotional shelter to his son, it’s that Touya was too stubborn for his own good. That even if Enji tried everything in his power, Touya was too difficult. It’s a shifting of the blame from his shoulder onto Touya’s. Making sure that a child is emotionally and psychologically well-adjusted and physically healthy is a parent’s responsibility. If a kid grows up to be a rude asshole, for example, it’s not on the kid for not knowing better, but on the parents for not teaching them to clean up their language and treat others with respect. In other words, it’s a parenting failure.
So it’s not true that Touya “inherited his foolishness”. He didn’t. A child of four is too young to understand what ambition even is, let alone to cling to it. Touya’s desire here manifests as the wish to surpass All Might because that’s how Endeavor put into words the goal Touya had to achieve in order to unlock his attention.
To understand the point I’m trying to argue, you need to understand that from the start, Enji never interacted with his kids in a healthy father-son way. He didn’t spend time with them to build a relationship outside of training. Notice how all their interactions in the flashbacks always revolve around that. We never see them watch movies together. Have meals together. Go to the park, read bedtime stories, or do literally anything that constitutes a proper father/son bonding time. What ended up becoming their equivalent for a relationship was the training itself. That.... is not healthy. By a long shot. Neither is it good parenting.
A child’s healthy development entails love and care. If the love Endeavor gave out was only ever limited to the pride he exhibited during training, it's perfectly normal that Touya internalized that in order to have his father’s love, he had to be a strong fighter. That’s why you need a relationship outside of it as well. Endeavor didn’t provide one, and that’s the root of all Touya’s problems.
The thing is, children are engineered to depend on their parents. Until puberty, their whole world revolves around them, because they still perceive them as unshakable pillars of love and care and safety. It’s perfectly normal for a child of Touya’s age to crave his father’s attention and his time. Children are clingy by definition, and their brains are not yet developed enough to process emotions the way an adult can, because they’re still growing. When I was five and my aunt (who was also my nanny) got a boyfriend, I got incredibly upset when he came over and he took my seat next to her at the dining table. I suddenly had to share my aunt’s attention with someone new, and I didn’t like that, because it made me feel like I was being replaced. Like she didn’t love me as much as before, because there was someone else she liked to spend her time with. All of this is perfectly normal by the way. Children just work that way. Now, if your family environment isn’t dysfunctional, though, you eventually learn to share. The adults around you will keep making time for you, and will talk to you to make you understand that you’re not being loved less.
That wasn’t the case in the Todoroki household. In fact, right after calling off Touya’s training, Endeavor stopped making time for him altogether.
and Touya clearly noticed.
The point here is: had they had any other bonding experiences outside of training, Touya wouldn’t have felt that separation as strongly. But since the training was all their time together revolved around, when it was suddenly off the plate, Touya essentially lost his entire bond with his dad. He lost his attention, his love, his pride. And for a child’s psyche, that’s devastating. Cause again, a child doesn’t have much else in the world than their parents. This seems even more the case for the Todorokis, since none of them was ever shown as having even a single close friend at the time.
Now, we could make a case that Endeavor isn’t emotionally intelligent. It could make sense to argue that he’s not acting this way to intentionally hurt Touya’s feelings, because Enji simply doesn’t know how to process a child’s emotions. But the thing is, that doesn’t work as an excuse because of this:
immediately after this scene, the story cuts to Natsuo’s and Shouto’s births. So basically, when Endeavor realized that Touya wasn’t going to simply give up his dream of becoming a hero, his magical solution to “fix” the issue was to give him a harsh reality check. Instead of trying for dialogue, instead of creating a different bonding experience to make Touya feel loved again, looked after again, he chose to punish him. Cause he saw himself in Touya and he projected.
He thought: “Touya wants the number one spot too, just like I did. But he can’t beat All Might because his body isn’t strong enough. Just like I wasn’t strong enough to physically overpower my rival.”
I think that in a tiny corner of his mind that Endeavor shuts down, he realizes that his actions are wrong. That what he did to his family is wrong. He calls his ambition “foolishness”, a word with a distinct negative connotation. I think some part of him feels shame for it, even. So when he thinks he sees it reflected in Touya, he decides to punish that weakness. That stubbornness.
And that’s when he became purposefully cruel. He still frames it to himself as “having no other choice”, but before that he didn’t really try to do anything.
He just... passively hoped that Touya would move on from it on his own. He fully expected a kid to be emotionally mature enough to handle what he felt was the same frustration Endeavor himself couldn’t process at 20, as a fully grown adult. When that failed, he assumed that what Touya needed was to slam against a wall in order to feel the same despair Endeavor felt. He chose to make him feel that despair by continuing to have kids. So that Touya would be forced to acknowledge that Endeavor wouldn’t resume the training ever again. That one of his siblings would take the mantle from him, and be the perfect quirk user that Touya wasn’t.
Besides how freaking abusive that is, it was also pointless. Cause 1. slamming against a wall didn’t stop Endeavor, either. He simply found a way to climb it by living vicariously through his children. And 2. Touya’s true motivator was never the ambition to best All Might, but the very normal, very human need for his father’s attention.
The multiple ways this chapter calls attention to how Touya wanted his father to look at him aren’t simply a childish tantrum. It’s not Touya being a self-centered asshole who couldn’t quit the training. It’s a desperate call to be loved. To be given affection and care.
This is a repeated theme in the Todoroki family, and it doesn’t just happen with Touya.
Endeavor was emotionally neglectful to Natsuo as well. Notice how Natsuo says that Endeavor “wouldn’t even look [him] in the eye”.
If Touya’s desire to be acknowledged — to spend time with his dad, to make him proud — later manifested as jealousy towards his siblings, it’s a direct consequence of Endeavor refusing to provide affection that didn’t come with conditions.
This is not a tantrum. This is a child asking their parent, “why am I not good enough for you to care about me, too?”
Again, since Endeavor wasn’t emotionally available for Touya, and since the only time he dedicated to him was in the gym, Touya internalized that in order to “earn” his father’s attention, his care, he had to be a worthy successor. He had to be strong enough to beat All Might.
A child should be loved unconditionally, but Touya never was. None of the Todorokis ever was, at least from Enji’s side. And unlike Shouto later on, Touya didn’t even have Rei on his side.
A fact that Rei herself later admits. Neither of them looked at Touya. Neither provided the care that a child needs. They are responsible for not doing anything to prevent the worsening of Touya’s mental health, for not loving him enough for him to develop a healthy way to perceive himself and his relationship with his siblings. They are responsible for making him feel alone, unloved and unwanted
A trauma that Touya still carries with himself to this day, one that was strong enough to make him become Dabi in order to finally get them all to look at him
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she plays songs i’ve never heard || h. styles
warnings: references to sex, swearing, mentions of alcohol, harry gets a lil pervy (pls don’t watch your neighbours get dressed), kissing, not proofread properly
word count: 1.8k
summary: when you get a new neighbour and his dog breaks into your garden, it sets off a chain reaction of events that might change your life...
The day he moved into the house next door seemed like a normal day for you. Sure, the sound of him actually moving in had woken you up early. The furniture being moved in through the small front door and the busy workers he’d hired banging about as if it wasn’t 8 in the morning. Begrudgingly, you had pulled yourself out of bed, poured yourself a glass of orange juice and buttered some crisp toast. Toast in hand, you watched from your kitchen window as grumpy Mr Bennet from across the road came out to shout at the new man and the workers. You’d managed to make out something about ‘too early on a weekend to be making that kind of noise’. Rolling your eyes, you went back upstairs to get dressed.
And that was that. You’d ordered a pizza for lunch and your mother had rung you during the afternoon to catch up. You told her about your new neighbour. And that was that.
It was, in fact, the day that the tattooed man’s dog broke into your back garden that your life seemed to change. You had been sat in your living room, watching The Sound of Music - a personal favourite of yours. Just as you were preparing to invest three hours of your life into the lives of the von Trapps, there was a loud bang on your door. Huffing quietly to yourself, you climbed off the sofa and left to open the door. And there, on the other side, was the tattooed neighbour. However, his tattoos were covered by a black hoodie but you could see a couple poking out beneath the hoodie’s cuffs. He was wearing shorts, exposing you to the tiny doodles of ink along his legs. His brown curls were hidden beneath a baseball cap. His features were hidden almost entirely in the shadows as it was dark outside and his cap sheltered him from whatever light there was. “Hi?” you said awkwardly.
“I’m so sorry, but my dog got into your backyard. Do you think you can go and get him for me?” he asked.
You were almost taken aback. Though not entirely sure what you’d expected when being confronted with your tattooed neighbour outside your house, you definitely didn’t expect him to be searching for his dog. You didn’t even know he had a dog.
You nodded slowly, “Sure. Come in, if you want.”
He thanked you, stepping in before you closed the door behind him. He shuffled awkwardly into the hallway, knocking your coat off the rack. It landed in a heap on the floor. “Shit, sorry,” he said quickly, bending down to pick it up. “Fuck! Sorry for swearing!”
“It’s okay, we’re both adults,” you smiled softly. You moved forward through the house, unlocking the back door. And there, chasing a wasp around the garden, was a small black dog. He wiggled in your arms as you picked him up carefully. You carried him into your house and back to Harry, who you found in the living room.
The dog licked your face before you place him in his owner’s arms. “Thanks. Sorry for the inconvenience - I know it’s late. I’m Harry by the way.”
He extended his hand for you to shake. “Y/N,” you replied, smiling up at him.
His grip on your hand was strong and firm. While you’d been away finding his little treasure, Gabriel (named after Peter Gabriel), he’d had a chance to explore your living room. The first time Harry saw you was when he happened to catch a glance of you reading in your back garden in your green shorts and sweater. It had been a hot day and you had a pair of sunglasses pushed up over your head. You looked ethereal with the sun highlighting your skin. From then, he’d tried to time his dog walks perfectly so he’d ‘accidentally’ bump into you on the way out. But, his attempts had come with little success. It was rather fortunate that Gabriel had escaped into your garden.
He’d actually jumped at the opportunity to come round and meet you in person. After all, he only knew your name because his other neighbour, Edna, had told him a bit about you after he asked. And when you’d invited him in, he was ecstatic. He couldn’t help but wander into your living room. He noticed The Sound of Music paused on your tv, wondering if he’d get to watch it with you one day. Maybe you’d exchange favourites - he’d watch The Sound of Music and you’d watch The Notebook. He then noticed a stack of books on the coffee table, with everything from Cervantes’ Don Quixote to Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. Your current read, Sally Rooney’s Normal People, was being held open by the tv remote. He wanted to ask what you thought of Norwegian Wood, after all, it was one of his favourites. But he refrained.
There was a glass of wine on a coaster, a half-eaten bowl of cheese pasta beside it. The room was littered with lovely plants - some were hanging down from shelves and others were standing up high beside the sofa. The walls were a soft grey, but they were drowned out by the green of the plants and the subtle pink tones littered throughout the room. “What’s this little guy’s name?” you asked, tickling behind the dog’s ear.
“His name’s Gabriel.”
“As in Peter?” you asked.
“Yep. You a fan?”
“Who isn’t?” you grinned in response. He knew you were a fan of Peter Gabriel. He’d seen your rack of records in the corner and he’d been gardening a few weeks ago and heard you listening to one of his albums in your own backyard. Upon examining your record collection, he’d noticed some Beatles albums, a bit of Lionel Richie, some Taylor Swift, a few ABBA albums, a sprinkle of Bee Gees and a plethora of Elton John albums. Relatively mainstream, but a mixture nonetheless.
“Exactly,” he agreed, before gesturing to the wine. “Special night?”
“Huh?” you’d replied.
“The wine?” he responded.
“Oh,” you laughed, “that’s cranberry juice.”
He flushed bright red as you laughed quietly. You placed a comforting hand on his arm, guiding him out of the room. “I think you’re a bit tired. I guess I’ll see you around then?” you offered a hopeful smile.
“Yeah,” he nodded, holding Gabriel at arm’s length as the dog tried licking his cheek. “I’d like that.”
“Great,” you smiled, closing the door. “What an odd man.”
You couldn’t help grin to yourself. He was strange, yes, but very kind. You resumed your position on your sofa, taking a sip of cranberry juice, and pressing play on The Sound of Music. What a bizarre evening…
Come a few days later, Harry found himself busying himself in his bedroom. Gabriel was sat on his bed, barking at Harry as he worked away at his computer, sending emails back and forth to his boss. It was only when he saw your own bedroom light flick on in the corner of his eye. You wandered in, throwing your phone down onto your bed. A white towel was wrapped tightly around your body and your hair was wet and your skin glistening.
He knew he shouldn’t look. He knew he shouldn’t stare. But he couldn’t help it. He watched as you pulled a silky pyjama set from your dresser. You seemed to examine it briefly before deciding it was good enough. And when you dropped the towel, he knew he was wrong for staring. He knew you’d never speak to him again if you caught his gaze on your naked body. But he couldn’t tear his eyes away.
You sighed as you stepped into your silk shorts and slipped on the matching shirt. As you finished doing up the buttons, you happened to glance up and catch Harry’s gaze. He’d been staring. Once he realised you’d caught him, he went bright red; redder than when he’d mistaken cranberry juice for wine. You smirked, challenging him to look away.
When he didn’t avert his gaze, you leaned over to grab your notebook from your desk. Embracing your 2009 Taylor Swift moment, you scribbled down: wanna come over? You laughed as you watched him scramble away from the window and out of his room.
It was thirty seconds later that you heard his knocking on your door. You dashed down to open it. There he was. Grabbing his hand, you pulled him into your house and up the stairs. And there you were, standing in your bedroom with your tattooed neighbour. “That was super pervy, you know?” you whispered, your faces inches apart.
“But you’re so beautiful,” he choked out, revelling in the feeling of your hands dancing up his arms.
“What if I told you I did it on purpose?”
“Yeah, what if I left the light on so you could see me? What if I wanted you to stare?”
He couldn’t resist you any longer. He pressed his mouth to your own, pushing your wet hair out of your face. He slipped his attractively large hands under your thighs, lifting you into his arms, only to drop you down onto your bed. You squealed as you hit the soft mattress, laughing as he buried his face in your neck, his fingers fiddling to undo your buttons. And that was that.
Before you knew it, you were lying beside his naked figure, panting loudly. Both of your bodies were covered in a thin layer of sweat. “That was amazing,” he whispered, rolling over to face you. “You’re amazing.”
You smiled, kissing his nose, “Thanks. I think you’ll find you’re pretty sensational too. I need another shower now, though… wanna join?”
It was just after 11 when Harry left. The night had spiralled in the most perfect way. You switched off your bedroom light, slipping under your soft bedsheets. You were excited for the day to come - you’d asked him if he wanted to come over for a date. He agreed ecstatically.
The following morning, you woke up as you usually did. You were groggy, unexcited for the uneventful day to come. That was until you remembered your date that night with your tattooed neighbour. Up until 7, you had nothing to do but wait. You watched some episodes of a drama your mother had been raving about. You made yourself a sandwich for lunch. But finally, 6.30 rolled around and you peeled yourself off the sofa to get ready. At 7.02, Harry arrived. He knocked on your door and when you answered, his smile was bright and his eyes were alive with excitement. “Hello,” you grinned until you noticed something behind his back. “What’s that you’ve got there?”
He held out a bouquet of roses, “I got you some flowers… and I brought round a bottle of cranberry juice.”
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Looking Too Closely (Bucky x Stark!Fem!Reader) -- part one
I know, I know. I just finished a 100k fic about Aaron Hotchner, I have another fic for him coming in May, and yet here I am, writing a Bucky Barnes fic. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has done things to me, guys. I knew I was going to fall right back in love with Bucky and I totally did. So here’s this xx.
(Also, as for the timeline, don’t question it. I’m kind of imagining this on its own separate timeline, but I’ll pull details from everywhere)
Summary: You’re (possibly) Tony Stark’s daughter. You’re also (possibly) on the run from the law. What better place to show up than the Avengers Tower? [Oh and no Bucky in this one! He comes in part 2]
Warnings: angst, mentions of death (your mom), mentions of homelessness, Tony is kinda an asshole (but I still think it’s in character)
BUCKY BARNES MASTERLIST
You weren’t going to come here.
It was a last-resort kind of option. A I-don’t-want-to-sleep-on-a-park-bench-(again) option. An is-going-to-jail-really-better-than-just-knocking-on-a-door? Kind of option.
Turns out, knocking on a door is better than going to jail. Especially when Tony Stark’s shocked face is almost as comical as your mom’s.
Currently, you’re soaking wet (damn skies decided to open up before you could get to the Tower) and sitting in Tony’s office while he paces and talks on the phone.
“Pepper, honey, I know this is bad timing, but I need you to pick up, okay? I have a kid here— Okay, she’s glaring at me, so not a kid— No, you know what? She is a kid and she’s getting water everywhere and she says she’s my kid and I’m two seconds from going into crisis mode.”
You and me both, you think to yourself. If you knew Tony was this much of a drama queen, you would’ve just gone to the police station. It was closer, anyway. Damn.
Tony ends the voicemail (which is his fifth one, you believe) and spins around to face you, a nervous smile on his lips. “Okay. How old are you again?”
“19,” you repeat tiredly. It was one of the first questions he asked you. “And I don’t actually know if I’m really your kid, okay? My mom says you are, but I don’t know.”
“Where is your mom?” His eyebrows raise like he’s brilliant and has found a way out. “Can you call her?”
“I don’t have a phone, but even if I did, no, I can’t,” you pause, rolling your eyes at his confusion. “She’s dead, Tony. She passed away last month.”
His confusion settles into shock. “Oh.”
“Oh is right,” you chuckle, ignoring your teeth chattering. “And trust me, I wouldn’t be here if I had literally anywhere else I could go.”
Tony opens his mouth to reply, but is cut off by his phone. He hurriedly answers and returns to pacing. “Pepper! Hi!— Okay, slow down, yes I’m telling the truth! Why would I lie— Okay, that was one time. Listen, this time, I’m not lying.” Pause. “Yes, there really is a kid here. You’re serious? Okay, fine, hang on.”
You watch as Tony starts a video call, and then turns the phone around on you.
Pepper Potts’s eyes widen when she sees you staring back at her, a cold and shivering mess.
“Um, hi?” Your voice is small and wary.
“Shit,” Pepper replies, and Tony turns the phone back on his face.
“See? Not lying.”
“For God’s sake, Tony!” Pepper yells. “Get the poor girl some dry clothes! I’ll be there as soon as I can, but try not to freeze her to death before I can get there. Christ.” The call ends.
You muffle a giggle in your hand, looking up to find a tired stare from Tony. Your laughter ends and you mirror his expression. “I told you dude, if I had literally anywhere else I could go, I’d be there.”
“Homeless shelter?” Tony questions.
“A homeless shelter in New York? You mean a breeding ground for disease and sexual assault?”
Your blunt reply has Tony faltering, but he accepts it. “Right. Let’s just— Let’s get you into something dry and warm and maybe get some food in you.” His eyes graze over your form. “When was the last time you ate?”
“Do you really want to ask me that?”
He thinks it over, and nods. “Never mind. Follow me.”
You stand and follow him, leaving a trail of water wherever you step.
He grimaces, pausing in his steps to say, “FRIDAY, will you dry the floors in here before I get back?”
“Who the hell are you talking to—”
Your question is promptly cut off by a female voice answering Tony. “Yes, Mr. Stark.” The voice echoes all around and sounds human, but distinctly sounds like it isn’t.
“What the fuck was that?”
“FRIDAY,” Tony replies. “Stands for ‘Female Replacement Intelligent Digital Assistant Youth’. A mouthful, I know, so I just call her FRIDAY. She’s my AI and she’s all over this building.”
“She— Never mind,” you shake your head. “Cool. Weird, but cool. I guess.”
Tony smiles, but then continues walking, exiting his office.
You follow closely behind, trying not to get too distracted by everything you’re seeing. All you saw on the way up here was the lobby, the elevator, and then right into Tony’s office. Now, you’re seeing out glass windows and down into the rest of the Tower. You have a clean view into what looks like a lab, and you see a few people working in there, but they’re too focused to even bother looking elsewhere.
After stepping into the elevator with you, Tony says, “Wanda should have some extra clothes you can borrow and if not she can at least help you...find some.”
He eyes you like he doesn’t quite know what to do with you, which you think is remarkably humbling of him. Part of you expected (what with all the stories you’ve heard and read about him) that he would act like he knew exactly what to do — regardless of whether it was right.
Maybe he will act that way later, but right now he almost seems frightened, and it’s weirdly comforting.
“Wanda is one of the…” Tony pauses. “You know where we are, right?”
You raise one eyebrow. “You mean do I know this is the Avengers Tower and that the Avengers are real people?”
“Okay,” Tony says, straightening and composing himself once more. “Wanda is one of the Avengers.”
Tony hesitates, and the elevator is still going. “You’re not some crazy fan, right?”
“Dude, I told you. If I had anywhere else to be, I would’ve gone there.” You shrug. “Yeah, it’s cool or whatever, but I’m not going to faint.”
“Good to know,” he says, though you faintly hear him mutter, “cool or whatever,” to himself.
Finally, the elevator stops and the doors open to a new floor, one that you quickly realize is what can be described as the residential area for the Avengers. Their rooms are on this floor, along with a kitchen and a living area of sorts — both of which are empty right now.
Tony notices you looking around and says, “Most everyone is out on a mission right now, so it’s just me and Wanda around.”
“Okay,” you say.
Tony takes you down a hall and around a corner, and stops at a door. He knocks a couple times and then says, “Hey Wan, it’s me and I have a...an issue that I need your help with.”
The door opens a moment later to reveal Wanda Maximoff, a younger woman closer to your age wearing a confused expression. “An issue?” She questions, and then her eyes land on you. “Oh, hi.”
“Hey,” you offer a small smile. “I’m Y/N.”
“I’m Wanda,” she replies, offering a smile in return. But when she looks at Tony, it drops. “What did you do?”
“Why does everyone always assume that I’ve done something?”
“Because when have you not done something?”
Tony pauses. “Fair point. Look, the kid needs some clothes, and I figured borrowing something old of yours would be more comfortable than Avengers workout gear.”
Wanda seems surprised Tony even thought of that. “Of course,” she looks at you. “You can take a shower to warm up, if you want. But I definitely have some clothes you can borrow.”
“Just uh…” Tony pauses, waving around like the words will appear in thin air. “Bring her to the kitchen when she’s done.”
“Standing right here,” you mutter, earning a laugh from Wanda.
“Go away,” she waves at Tony. “I’ve got this.”
Tony walks away, clearly elated to be rid of you and have you in the hands of a responsible adult that is not himself.
Wanda shuts her door with a roll of her eyes. “Sometimes I wonder how Pepper keeps him afloat,” she murmurs. “Anyway, on to you— Oh, before all that, I can read minds, but I am actively blocking that right now. I’ll try really hard not to be nosy, but don’t worry, I am really good at keeping secrets because of it.”
You can’t help but smile. “It’s okay. There’s not much that goes on up here anyway.”
She gives you a skeptical look. “I may not be listening, but the amount of energy I am using right now to not listen tells me that’s far from true.”
You just shrug in response, not wanting to get into it.
Thankfully, she keeps her promise and moves on, too, walking toward her closet. “I have loads of t-shirts and hoodies, skirts, too, but I do have some leggings. Do you have a preference?”
“Just whatever you’re comfortable with letting me borrow.”
Part of you thinks she read your mind, though, because she hands you leggings and a t-shirt, along with one of her many zip-up hoodies. You were silently wishing she wouldn’t hand you a skirt.
“My bathroom is just through there and there’s clean towels on the shelf if you want to shower.” Wanda smiles, gesturing toward the open door at the other end of her room.
“Thanks.” You walk over and quickly pee, not realizing until you entered that you’ve desperately had to piss this entire time.
You decide against a shower for the sake of not wanting to take up too much time, and not feeling up for being naked in a stranger’s shower (albeit a kind stranger).
After changing into Wanda’s clothes, and hanging your wet ones over the shower curtain, you go back into Wanda’s bedroom. She’s sitting on her bed, mindlessly moving a red ball of energy between her fingers and up her arms.
She smiles upon seeing you, but doesn’t drop the energy. “Feel better?”
“Yeah,” you nod, mesmerized by the glowing ball of red in her palms. “That’s so dope.”
“Really cool,” you clarify.
“Oh,” she giggles, and the energy evaporates. “I think I’ve heard Peter say that a few times.”
You have no clue who Peter is, but you don’t question it. “Should we go out there?”
“Yes,” she slides off the bed. “I’ll come with you. Tony can be a handful.”
That’s what your mom used to say about him, too.
You follow Wanda silently out into the hallway, and as you both get closer to the living area and kitchen, you hear two voices this time. One is Tony’s and after a few more steps, you find out that the other voice is Pepper.
“You’re saying she just showed up out of nowhere?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying because that’s exactly what happened.”
“And she says you’re her father?”
“Allegedly,” Tony scoffs, resting his hands on the kitchen counter. “I don’t actually know. I can’t remember that far back.”
“How far back?” Pepper asks, arms crossed over her chest.
“She says she’s 19.”
“I’ll be 20 this year,” you interject, enjoying the way Tony fumbles and tries to put on his mask one more time.
“Hey kiddo,” he says. “This is Pepper Potts, she’s the one who wrangles me in.”
Pepper shakes her head before offering you a warm smile and her hand to shake. “It’s nice to meet you, Y/N. I’m sorry you seem to be going through such a tough time.”
“It’s okay,” you say while shaking her hand. “I’m sorry for barging in and all. I didn’t know where else to really go.”
“Nope, that’s okay,” she assures you. “We’re going to get this figured out. Do you mind if you and I just talk for a minute?”
“That sounds good.”
“Awesome,” Pepper smiles. “Okay, Tony, just...go to the lab or something. But...go away.”
You and Wanda share a look as Tony saunters off, no doubt muttering under his breath.
“I’ll leave you guys to it,” Wanda says, gesturing between you and Pepper. “It was nice to meet you.”
“You too,” you smile. “Thanks again for the clothes. I’ll try to give them back soon.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Wanda shakes her head before heading back down the hallway to her room.
You’re left alone with Pepper, who doesn’t terrify you, but the prospect of what conversation is going to come next does.
“Do you want something to eat?” She asks. “I can order something while we talk.”
“Um...pizza?” It’s inexpensive and never fails you in terms of being able to eat it.
“Sure,” Pepper smiles gently. “What kind?”
After telling her your favorite toppings, the two of you take a seat on one of the couches. She finishes placing the order on her phone before she sets down the device and gives you her full attention.
“So. Tony told me your mom passed away,” Pepper pauses. “I’m really sorry for your loss.”
“He also told me you didn’t show up with anything at all,” Pepper says. “Do you mind if FRIDAY does an identity check?”
“Is that like a background check?”
“Essentially, but it’s not that extensive. It’s just so we know the truth about who you are.” She pauses again, sensing your hesitation. “Unfortunately, it’s just a precaution we have to take.”
“Okay,” you agree, realizing you have nothing left to lose. “Uh, how do I…?”
“Right,” Pepper chuckles. “FRIDAY?”
“Yes, Ms. Potts.”
“Will you please do an identity check on…”
“Y/N M/N L/N.”
“It should just take a few seconds,” Pepper explains. “Oh, and there will be a hologram that will appear— Right there.”
The hologram appears in front of the TV, showing general information about you alongside a picture of you — a picture that you think is on your driver’s license, wherever the ashes of that is.
“Y/N M/N L/N, born to Isabella L/N in 2001 in a hospital in Newark, New Jersey. She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”
Your eyes widen. “That’s weird.”
“Thank you, FRIDAY,” Pepper says, and the hologram disappears. “It is a little freaky. I’m still not totally used to all of Tony’s tech, but I’ve stopped worrying about it. Good news is, you are who you say you are.” She pauses. “But I do have to ask why you decided to show up here? You told Tony if you had anywhere else to go, you would’ve, so I understand.”
“It’s the first place I could think of,” you admit quietly. “I’ve been living on the streets for a few weeks now.”
Pepper pales. “You’ve been homeless?”
You nod. “Mom died in a house fire. It was our house. I was on a walk to the gas station to get her favorite candy bar because she had been having a rough time.”
“By the time I came out of the gas station, fire trucks were blaring past and I could smell the smoke. The flames were high enough to see from a mile away.”
“I...I am so sorry.”
You shrug, surprised you’re not crying. “Everything I had was in there, except the clothes I was wearing when I got here. She had my cell phone because we could only afford the one, but it burned, too. Everything burned.
“Anyway, she… She always told me Tony was my dad and I didn’t believe her, but then she showed me pictures of them together, and it made me believe her. So I figured coming here would be better than staying on the streets or going to another shelter.”
Pepper nods. “Okay, well, I’m glad you came here. I am. But...Tony can’t do anything for you if he isn’t your real father.”
“We can do a paternity test,” she offers. “If you want to, I’ll get him to agree. It wouldn’t be the first one he’s had to do, but this one…this one would probably be the first I think he’d do willingly.”
You furrow your eyebrows. “Really?”
She nods. “The others have been infants and the mothers have mostly been after money. The paternity tests were used in court.”
Your eyes widen. “I do not want to go to court.”
“You won’t,” she says. “The test could be done here and kept between the three of us. But, until then, it is up to Tony what he wants to do — whether or not he wants to let you stay. I’m not saying I will allow him to kick you out, but if he doesn’t want you to stay here, I will do everything I can to make sure you are somewhere safe.” She pauses, watching your expression as it changes. “I’m sorry if this sounds so harsh. It’s a recycled speech I’ve had to give a thousand times,” she laughs airily. “But I do mean it when I say I will make sure you’re safe. I don’t care if it comes out of my paycheck.”
“No, you don’t need to do that,” you start shaking your head, but she stops you.
“You are special, I can tell,” Pepper says. “And Wanda seems to like you, which is telling. In the time that she’s been here, it hasn’t been easy to get her to open up to others.”
You felt comfortable around Wanda, too. The same kind of comfortable you feel with Pepper right now.
Before anything else can be said, footsteps are heard and the smell of pizza fills your nostrils.
“Did you order me pizza? You’re too kind, Ms. Potts,” Tony’s voice floats from the hallway before he enters the living room, pizza box in hand.
“Actually, it’s for Y/N,” Pepper says.
“It’s fine,” you wave them off, but neither of them let it slide.
“Nope,” Tony says, placing the box down on the table in front of the couch. “I’ll get plates. You’re eating.”
“But if you—”
“Ah-ah,” he holds up his index finger, raising his eyebrows. “No arguing.”
“Seriously?” You deadpan, rolling your eyes.
You open the box and pull out a slice while he’s busy wasting time getting plates. When he returns, he hands you a plate, even though you won’t use it. He plops down next to Pepper and grabs a slice, shoving half of it in his mouth.
“Want some?” He gestures the half-eaten slice toward Pepper.
She shakes her head. “No, it’s your favorite, not mine.”
Your chewing slows. “It’s your favorite?”
“Yeah,” Tony replies, eating the other half of his slice.
“It’s my favorite, too,” you reply slowly, reaching for a second piece.
Tony smiles, grabbing a second slice, too. “You’ve got good taste, kid.” He takes less of a big bite this time. “So, what’s the consensus? How much money do you want?”
“Tony—” Pepper starts, but he doesn’t let her finish.
“Or, let me guess, paternity test. And money. College? I can give you a scholarship.”
With every word that falls from his lips, you get more and more angry.
“Or are we just waiting for the police to pick you up? I have to admit, that’s boring, but if that’s what we’re doing—”
“That is enough,” Pepper hisses.
“Um,” you swallow the bite of pizza that you had in your mouth. “Thanks for the pizza and...dry clothes and the talk, but I’m gonna go.”
“Y/N--” Pepper tries.
“No, it’s fine,” you shake your head as you stand. “It’s okay, it was a bad idea anyway. Don’t worry about the test, I mean, I’m an adult anyway, it’s not like it would make any difference.”
“She has a point,” Tony adds.
You ignore him. “I’ll just...yeah.”
The two of them are still bickering when you run off, toward the elevator. The doors open quickly and you let the elevator swallow you whole.
You were stupid, so stupid for coming here. You would’ve been better off on another park bench or something.
When the elevator reaches the lobby, you’re running out as fast as your feet will carry you.
You’re thankful for Wanda’s hoodie when the cold wind of New York starts biting into your skin. It’s a miracle to find an open park bench, and it’d be a miracle if it could be a few degrees warmer outside, but you know that’s asking for way too much.
Still, you try to relax and rest. You have no clue where to go from here. Maybe back to a shelter, but the idea of that makes your body shiver for a different reason other than the cold.
You zip the hoodie up to your chin and wrap your arms around yourself, keeping the heat in as much as you can. Eventually, because of the exhaustion, you find yourself drifting off.
When you wake, it’s with a jolt because the empty seat next to you on the bench is now filled.
“What do you want?” After realizing the person is none other than Tony Stark, you can’t be bothered to be polite.
“For you to come back to the Tower before it starts raining.”
You sit up straighter, shaking your head. “No thanks. Did Pepper put you up to this?”
“Actually, I put myself up to this,” he replies. “I was a jackass. I’m sorry.”
“I mean it, kid.”
“Maybe stop calling me ‘kid.’”
“I will when you quit acting like one.”
You lift your head to glare at him. “That’s a low blow. Even for you.”
“I just want you to come back to the Tower with me,” Tony says. “I’m sorry. It was a low blow, and so was everything else I said earlier. But I refuse to let you sleep here when there’s a perfectly fine and vacant room at the Tower. Right next to Wanda’s room.”
You mull it over for a second. The mention of Wanda is enticing because despite today’s circumstances, she did seem kind and harmless. The two of you seemed like you could get along well, too, which is rare for you — and her, apparently.
“Fine,” you cave. “But only because this bench is uncomfortable as hell.”
Tony sighs, but doesn’t comment on that. Instead, he stands, gesturing for you to follow, and you do. “Okay, come on. I parked over here.”
“Yeah, ki— You walked a good thirty minute drive from the Tower.”
“It’s fine,” he says. “But it is about to rain, so.”
He clicks something and what was once a black smudge in your vision suddenly lit up as the car’s engine roared to life, turning the headlights on, too.
You can’t help but scoff.
“What?” Tony asks through a laugh. “It’s my car.”
“It’s so flashy.”
He accepts it. “Fair point.”
You have no clue what make or model the car is, but regardless it’s too sleek and too low to the ground. Thank God you aren’t driving.
You hop in the passenger seat, unashamed that you want to get out of the wind. Tony silently turns the seat warmers on when he gets in.
After driving for a few minutes, Tony breaks the silence.
“I need to call Pepper to let her know I found you,” he says, and without another word, the car begins calling Pepper. Well, FRIDAY does, because she’s in his cars, too.
Pepper picks up almost immediately. “Please tell me you found her.”
“I did, Pep.”
“Thank God,” she says, exhaling deeply. “Is she in the car? Y/N?”
“I’m here,” you speak up.
“Good,” she replies. “I was scared he made you angrier instead of apologizing.”
You’re still angry with him, but you don’t say that. “He apologized.”
“Good,” Pepper says. “Drive safe, Tony, please.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll only go ten above the speed limit.”
“Oops,” Tony says. “Do you want a milkshake? Late night snack?”
“Suit yourself,” he shrugs, speeding up.
You got a milkshake.
Not because you really wanted one, but because Tony ordered you one anyway. He guessed your favorite — it’s the same as his, but still — and didn’t let you argue. And you’re not one to let something go to waste if it’s right in front of you.
Pepper and Wanda look more than relieved when you enter the Tower beside Tony, milkshake still in hand.
“I have returned with the… With Y/N.”
You roll your eyes.
“Thank you,” Pepper says, but she still gives Tony a glare. When she looks back at you, her expression is soft. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay,” you murmur. “I won’t stay for long, I promise.”
Pepper shook her head. “You can stay for as long as you need to. There’s no sense in you sleeping anywhere else when there’s a room here you can have.”
“I could use the company,” Wanda adds, smiling gently. “If you want.”
You smile in return, but you’re still wary. You look at Tony to see what he thinks, but to your complete surprise, he doesn’t look angry or anything.
“As long as you don’t ask for an entire floor, you can stay,” he says.
That’s about as good a response you’re going to get out of him, it seems, so you accept it.
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it’s a typical love story pt. 3
suna rintarou x f!reader
genre: angst, unrequited love, friends to lovers.
synopsis: a typical love story of typical lovers. a story where love in itself isn’t enough to keep two foolish individuals together. this story doesn’t have a special ending - it’s typical. it’s a typical story of typical people making the same typical mistakes causing them to feel the multitude of typical emotions of heartbreak - only to be entrapped in the same typical love story, once again or… does the cycle finally break?
it’s highly typical.
tw: profanity. implications of sex. physical, mental, emotional abuse. toxic relationship. mentions of partying. gaslighting, gatekeeping, alcohol.
this can be triggering to some people. so please read with caution. I just want to inform, men also go through emotional, mental, and physical abuse... so please refrain from using words of aggression if you have to comment about Suna. He was in the wrong, but a victim never deserves pain from refuge.
Also, there are implications of sex here. ‘It’s a typical love story’ is mostly sfw, so if that makes you uncomfortable you can skip through it.
Artwork by : salgoolulu
3 // previous // next // masterlist
If you were to ask Suna Rintarou age 4 who the love of his life was, the answer would conditionally be his mom.
Ask him the same question, a year later, with an extra cookie packed in his bento, the answer would now be YN, with a certain shyness to his response.
Ask him couple years down, where his limbs are now lanky and he’s grown taller, and his answer would still consistently be YN.
Ask him as a legal adult standing at height well over the average, pro volleyball player without lacking anything, who the love of his life was… it would still be YN, without a doubt, without condition, and without hesitation.
And, now, if you were to ask, Suna Rintarou, with his girlfriend of two years in his arms tightly pulling his naked torso closer to her bosom… who is the love of his life? The answer would be…
There has always been room for one in my heart.
My heart was never grand, nor was it willing to open up to people. My heart is selfish, stubborn and selective… but that’s only because I’ve only known of YN and for a long time, she was all I needed... up to a certain point. Even at a young age, I knew YN was meant for me. I was ready to fight fate, and if the world deemed us unfit it didn’t matter because YN and I were soulmates. I was willing to bend forward and back if that meant that she could be happy… with me, but somehow I fucked up.
Or maybe that was before I met Hana...
Maybe, just maybe... I have gotten over YN because the woman that resides in my arms tonight was Hana... for two years it’s been her and nothing but her.
Am I happy?
Probably... Hana was here, why wouldn’t there be a reason to not be happy.
Do I miss YN?
Most entirely, she’s someone I will never forget... no matter how long time has passed... no matter how far away I am from her.
Then, do I love Hana?
Yes, I believe so.
The day I gave my cookie to YN, was the day that I fell in love. I was five, but never have I seen someone more pretty and captivating than her. But despite her beauty and purity and under such a pretty smile, even at such a young age I saw her eyes… and her eyes looked lonely and hurt - I wanted to be the one that sheltered her from it all. And I have done so for the past twenty years.
I’ve done my best… until my insecurities got the best of me.
For twenty two years of my life, I firmly held to the belief that it would always be YN and I as endgame. That we would be the two lonesome survivors in this wicked world... that no matter what the universe threw at us... I believed, that nothing could separate us both.
But, I was the one that let go first. How ironic is that?
She didn’t love me... and twenty years of pursuing her - what was the point in it anymore? To test my loyalty and love for her? That would be foolish because the world already deemed me as insane for waiting for so long, only to hear a rejection every time... so am I in the wrong for looking else where?
I would feel a sense of assurance if only YN opened up. I was there... I was always there for her, but never did she share her heart with me. The assurance that I had to think that she reciprocated my feelings, I wasn’t so sure of it anymore.
Even with the death of her father, I was informed a couple years into our friendship... and I had to hear it through my mother. Despite it being her right to share and her choice to let me in... I still couldn’t help but feel hurt.
Did she not trust me? Was I not enough of her trust? Did I ever show myself disloyal that she couldn’t burden the truth with me? Did she even consider me a friend?
She never shared about her father, or any of her problems, except for the random times where she would silently cry, and in those moments when she felt most alone… she would come to me, and I would simply hold her thinking that was the best I could do for her - without nothing much to say.
Despite no physical tears falling from my eyes, my heart bore the marks of her tears instead... and each time she wept in my arms, I was willing to rip a portion of my heart to seal it to her broken edges and allow her to heal... if that meant she’ll feel less pain.
I wanted to be her everything, but she wouldn’t let me.
For twenty years she was my life and rock. She was the one that stood by me, the one I always ran to for comfort. The one I always sought after and unapologetically pursued for so long… never once will I regret my time spent with her - I could never. I was obsessed with her and I simply just wanted her all to myself. I would never show it, nor would I ever tell her, but I didn’t want anyone being near her, except for me.
So I would confess whenever I felt the moment was right because I knew I loved her and I convinced she felt the same for me. But I never got to hear words of reciprocation except “I don’t want to lose you.” And those were the only words she left me with - all the time.
I'm selfish so I stayed even closer to her.
I knew why she rejected me so… it wasn’t hard for me to decipher when I knew her so well. She didn’t want to lose me like her father, and despite promising myself that would never happen… I made it happen with my foolishness.
I was jealous of her time and attention. Whenever I would see her interacting with other men, the insecurity of mine started to overwhelm me. Was I not good enough for her? Why can’t she see me when I’ve been waiting for all my life? I couldn’t lie, despite all the times she rejected me… it hurt me badly, but I still wanted her - all of her.
I was always willing to hold her hand, wrapped perfectly encased with mine, despite my palms feeling sweaty and my heart beating too fast... I was always ready to catch her, to tell her everything will be okay, that she was safe in my arms, that I would protect her from the harshness of the world ... but she never let me.
Ready to expose my back for the world to tear apart if that meant she’ll feel safe... but again, she never let me.
I wanted all of her...
Even... if that meant I found that in someone else.
I met Hana as I waited for YN the night that I last confessed.
My first mistake was when I did not harshly reject her when I’ve done so for all my life when girls tried to seduce me… because my heart only knew of YN. But blinded by insecurity and unconsciously accepting that I would be rejected again… I told her off with an open ended answer, something that would later be my greatest downfall, I let a devil into my life but sweet as the devil can be, that she spiked my interest...
My second mistake was when I met her again at the same cafe, and she approached me with the same confidence, but this time she brought YN into the conversation and I didn’t stop her. “How’d your date go? She looked awfully pretty, loved the dress she had on.” At first I was repelled of the fact YN was being spewed out of that woman’s mouth. But she was consistent and she was fierce. She wanted me, and I clearly knew it... and I never stopped her from reaching.
My third was when I gave her what she wanted, because she gave me something in return that I would never be able to find again - even if I scourged all over the world. But I’m foolish… because I only realized my heart’s intent until the damages have been made - far too late for me to fix.
My fourth... was being too late in noticing, and being content to continue forward despite being aware.
Hana was a striking image of you… she held the same soft eyes, long healthy locks of hair, skin clear that radiated, a body that molded perfectly with my frame… everything about Hana reminded me of you. The way she held me, ran her fingers through my hair, and rubbed my back in comfort. So I subconsciously and foolishly thought… if I couldn’t have YN then I’ll have something just like her because that was how much I wanted YN. I was obsessed with her and all of her… and if it meant I had to have a cheap version of my YN, I was willing because letting go of YN wasn’t an option.
She was the closest thing to YN, so...
I’ll love Hana with all my heart.
Hana. My girlfriend of two years, the girl that stole my gaze from YN - my love.
I was fully convinced that she had my heart, I kept up with her for two years and I was willing to go for even longer… but my relationship with her has never been easy.
Our foundation was built upon lust and suspicion, it was unstable - something that was bound to fail from the beginning but I fought hard and she clung on even harder. Even before dating, she was jealous and mildly obsessive. She wouldn’t let me meet with YN, and whenever I would get a text from her she would delete it behind my back and act as if nothing happened. It was until I caught her once, that she cried fat tears of sorrow, and the best of it all... I couldn’t do anything about it because when she cried… I saw YN crying. So I would simply hold her, just like when YN would cry in my arms and feel the same ecstasy and happiness that I felt years ago.
Hana would guilt trip me whenever I texted YN, with eyes full of fake tears and mouth spewing out harsh curses, and for a period of time I had to have YN’s number blocked just so that Hana would feel safe. Just for our fights to stop, but continue again a week later because she found out that I unblocked her number.
People may laugh, how could a guy be so helpless with his girl?
Love makes you do the wildest of things... and sometimes it makes you sacrifice your morals. The pain of toxicity scrapes down at your character that you don’t realize how harmful a relationship was until long after damages have been made. And at that time of realization... it’s often too late to fix the problem - the price of foolishness was paid through pain, this was my sin to carry.
I sacrificed my all for Hana, and I did it willingly.
I knew all my friends were disapproving of my relationship with Hana. None of them understood why I would make such a rash decision… but again, none of them knew how I felt when I looked into Hana’s eyes... because unknown to me then... I felt safe, because her eyes held the same familiarity as YN’s.
Touching, holding, kissing, making love with Hana... it was a dream come true for me - a false reality that I have built to cope with the heartbreak that I was facing in terms of losing YN, of YN breaking my heart.
I admit it was wrong for me to tell YN in such a manner, especially outwardly displaying my affection to Hana. But at that time… foolish as I was, I believed I loved Hana and my heart for YN dissipated.
what an utter fool.
I couldn’t be more wrong than such.
I simply convinced myself that all of Hana was like YN and in that I thrived, because I had the idea of having YN but not really have her... so I was content.
At first, it started off with finding similarities to how you both dressed. Simple in aesthetic, clean, and effortlessly beautiful. Then I would see similarities between how you both looked and your physical attributes - both the same height, same body frame, similar in everything.
But my heart started getting confused and latched onto whatever was like you when I started noticing traits of YN that I was able to personally experience through Hana. It started off with the way Hana would graze her skin across my arm, I felt the same electricity pursing through my bones just like when YN would. When she would encase her hands in mine, I felt the same harsh beatings of my heart and sweaty palms. When Hana would pull me in for an embrace, I felt the same euphoric bliss being within her arms. And when she cupped my face to look me in the eyes, and smile with eyes bright like the brightest of moons, I saw YN in front of me so I gave in and I gave Hana my all.
For two years I was in this tumultuous relationship. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but my heart wouldn’t let me stop. It simply wanted anything like YN and the longer I stayed the deeper hole I fell into - but never willing to pull out from this disaster.
I simply didn’t have the courage to.
I knew Hana wasn’t kind. If she possessed everything of YN, there was one thing she would never have… her heart was not like yours - it would never be. YN was always the topic of our heated arguments. Fights where lamps would be tossed, cups would be thrown, where the yelling of Hana’s voice would often cause a ringing in my ears... but no matter how many times I confessed and tried to reassure her, that I didn’t love YN anymore, Hana was never satisfied. She wanted YN completely gone - better yet dead for her to feel content. And her obsession with being the only person in my life grew worse as days passed...
And for all my life, I have longed for such desire from YN... to simply be wanted by the woman I loved and Hana was willingly doing it for me, so I continued to stay despite my heart never feeling the same. I grew tired, but even then I still stayed.
For my heart always knew who it belonged to... and it was not her.
It started before we even dated, when we would simply fool around and partake in acts that I would heavily regret the day after. Hana made me feel as if I needed to hide myself from YN... a feeling of insecurity that I’ve never felt, but the shame only got worse as I spent more time with the devil.
But I saw YN when I was with Hana so how could I leave?…
Hana would always try her best to keep me away from YN, doing whatever she could… lie, cry, yell, hit… if it meant that I stayed with her and only professed my love to her. Keeping me from seeing her, hiding my phone, deleting her number... but I let it all slide - because Hana was the one I loved.
The day that I told YN about Hana… I tried contacting her, but I was stopped by Hana crying up a storm, throwing false accusations of my loyalty to her. And foolish I was… again, I accepted it all.
So, in the middle of the night, when I assumed Hana was asleep, I silently removed myself from her grasp and went to the living room to text YN if she was okay, to say that I was sorry...
... only to meet a disappointed Hana grabbing my phone and chucking it against the wall, shattering my phone into pieces. Another round of fighting, another session of reassurance, and another wound to my already wounded heart.
There is no excuse for my actions and the decisions that I have made. I’m willing to bear it all… because this is the price I’ll have to pay.
And foolish I was… I stayed through it all because… I subconsciously wanted YN and Hana was the closest that I would get to having my love. My heart only knew of YN… so is there anyone that can blame me? So the twenty years of love that I harbored for YN was given to the stranger that I have acquainted for only a couple of months. And that to me, was more than enough for me to feel happy.
Throughout the two years, I got to see YN less than the fingers on my hand, and less than ten times I actually got in contact with her. When she asked me to stop texting YN, I listened. When she asked me to stop talking about YN, I obeyed. When she asked me to take her to all my get together with my friends, I took her because I didn’t want her to doubt my love for her. Even if my friends disapproved of my choices… I still found myself faithful to Hana and her alone. The two years were torturous without my YN… but it was my burden to bear to have an ounce of her.
I knew YN always cared for me, I was once convinced she loved me back. But she was never willing to sacrifice for me, because her calls became less and texts were minimal. I knew she didn’t reach out because she was being considerate of Hana… and I also knew YN didn’t treat Hana in the way that she accused. I trusted YN enough, but I took Hana’s side because I wasn’t willing to let her go.
If YN wasn’t willing to give me her heart, then I will take the side of the one who did... that reminded me of her.
But would it be foolish of me to be waiting for her contact, every single day for the past two years, hoping she’ll simply text or call with her voice sweet as saccharine, “Hey Rin” - to show me she still cared and loved me… when I knew all too well that she wouldn’t?
Staying with Hana was all on my accord. I received backlash, received judgment, received criticism - all I endured. Atsumu had no patience for Hana and I, nor did I blame him. Osamu simply never gave an input, as if he just accepted my fate. Not knowing then, I wanted something, anything that resembled a part of YN… and if Hana was going to be the victim of my selfish deeds, I was willing to take it. And it didn’t matter what my friends had to say... that was my fifth mistake.
I vowed since five… YN would always be mine, and she will forever be the ruler of my heart. So, I needed to beat the odds of what the heavens desired, I was willing to take a risk. That was my love for YN - I was infatuated in having her.
YN would forever be in my heart, even if she physically didn’t reside within, even if another stranger was in wrecking the home that I carefully built for my love... it didn’t matter.
My friends would often check up on me and try to pry at my heart, to convince me to go back to YN - to try and understand why I would “give up”. I wasn’t stupid, I knew they wanted to know what I was thinking. And I honestly answered every question they had. Whenever Kita-San would often pay a visit, and every time he would ask me, “Suna, do you truly love Hana?”
I would respond, without a second to waste, “yes.”
There was a time when he bluntly told me to stop, to stop waiting for YN. Confused because there was nothing for me to stop, since I no longer loved YN...but I guess he caught me staring at out picture one day… one that I secretly saved on my phone locked with a passcode - a picture of her and I sitting under the willow tree back at home, with her lovely head placed on my shoulder.
He simply grasped my shoulder, “Move on Sunarin, this isn’t healthy. You’ve had your chance with YN, waited long enough, and it’s time to let her go.” But he was wrong. He didn’t understand the burning sensation palpating in my heart, as it conducted each beat. He didn’t know about the nights that I dreamt of YN, wishing it was reality. He didn’t know about how confused I was feeling when I somehow felt comfort in Hana’s arms but later be repulsed by such act. My heart and mind played games with me, and I was losing every time. But as if my body knew better, my voice came off strained and forced, without my consent my fists gripped firmly as I confessed my love for Hana, with bile threatening to eject, and that I simply saw YN as a friend….
I guess, everyone knew I was living a life of lies… all except for me.
Or, maybe I did... I just chose not to believe. And that would make me the bigger fool.
I would often hear about YN from the boys and as much as it pained my heart from hearing such great news about her from other people, I was still ecstatic and genuinely happy. YN finding her happiness was all I needed for my silently beating heart to sound louder than the rolling thunder. I knew that she was well within capable hands of my friends. Even if I wasn’t there, she was safe.
Atsumu always had a tender relationship with her, always chasing after her and protecting her. He was kind and loyal to her - unlike me. He shielded her whenever Hana would have a remark about YN when she would come up in conversations, and he was the one that wouldn’t be afraid to tell me off that Hana was the “cheap version” of you… but I didn’t listen, I didn’t have the capacity to believe then.
But Atsumu wasn’t my threat. He’s never had been. It was someone else, someone that I’ve always been jealous of since the beginning… He was all that I couldn’t be, and I knew introducing YN to him would be my greatest demise. The one that had loved YN just as long, and just as fervently as I have, but unlike me silently waited like YN’s destined lover...
Osamu never told me about his relationship with YN. I only found out through Atsumu when he was drunk off his mind. It was the night of a simple get together, just the boys with Aran and Kita… no Hana. So Atsumu, thrilled as ever of not seeing his worst enemy, drank a bit too much than what he could handle - a half of a bottle of sake.
“Sunarin, you fucker… ya still love YN huh? Shit, I remember the day you got caught by me and your ears went all red.” Leaning against the shoulder of his brother, hiccuping, “I’ve never thought you would be able to display emotions bro… you’re still so down bad for YN huh?”
What the hell was he on? I haven’t seen or heard from YN in months…
“Atsumu shut up… you’re fucking drunk” his brother warned. “Well it’s not like we all don’t know” Atsumu quickly responded as he swirled his drink, not failing to send a glare at Suna.
“What do ya fucking know, Atsumu?” I challenged him wanting to know what his deal was. If he was going to bring YN into my life, I wasn’t willing to hear what his pathetic drunk self had to say.
“You’re with Hana because you can’t have YN huh. Wait.. or is it because you still love YN?”
What? No, I love Hana.
Unaware of what he was saying, Atsumu spilled the secret… “but watch out Suna, ‘Samu’s been eyeing her since the beginning and he visits her almost everyday” with Suna’s eyes now on Samu with brows furrowed, confused and disheartened at his friend’s lack of loyalty, “I thought I told you you’ll never have a chance.”
“chance? Hah! you wanna talk about chance Sunarin?” Looking straight into my eyes, as if he was sober, “you lost your chance when you couldn’t get her despite being her bitch for twenty years.” Chuckling at his words, “and you further lost it when you went to date a Walmart version of YN and to do what? simply dropped her from your life because your girl is a psycho?”
“Ya don’t deserve YN...” with heavy lidded eyes, Atsumu was gone the moment he finished his sentence.
“Shut the fuck up Miya… you have no idea what goes on in my mind,” I warned at his intoxicated self, unflinching of my gaze I had on his twin. I knew it was the alcohol talking, but I couldn’t help but take offense to Atsumu’s words…
Maybe… was I wrong this whole time? And if Atsumu’s words were true… then Osamu was with YN this whole time? Has he held her in his arms as she cried? Was he there to witness her smile that can shine brighter than the earliest of mornings, where the softness of her voice brought peace and serenity to the soul?
... was he able to experience something with YN that I have yet to...?
“You still like YN?” I clenched my jaw, and gripped my cup with so much force that it started to shake within my grasp. “I thought I told you she’ll never be yours.”
But the Osamu that had once sacrificed his feelings for Suna years prior, that Osamu did not exist anymore. He’s been carrying your burdens for so long, that he didn’t have the capacity to be forgiving of Suna anymore. And with such bitterness, Osamu spat out, “why does it matter anymore? You got Hana. Don’t fucking tell me you’re still in love with YN… because you have no fucking right, bastard. You let go of YN first.”
“You have no idea how much pain you’ve caused her… get a grip and wake the fuck up Suna.”
Pain? I’ve caused her pain? What pain can I cause when she never loved me in the first place.
But his words angered me. Either it be from my conscience or my hidden guilt, pure rage overwhelmed me.
Suna - the calm and quiet one that never showed emotion… cracked that night. “This will be the last time I tell you, stay away from my YN.”
Laughing at his audacity, Osamu fearlessly stepped forward matching Suna’s threat, “with what right do you have for telling me this. The night you told YN you were dating that bitch, I was the one that comforted her. I held her in my arms for the fucking pain you’ve caused. And I’ll continue to be there until she doesn’t want me to.”
“When you left her to fend for herself, when you left her to simply die, when you chose to pick your toxic girlfriend that you’ve met for a couple months, who is crazily obsessed with YN, rather than siding with the apparent love of your life of twenty years. I was the one that she called. I was the one that carried her through.” With eyes that blazed with fire, a rare sight to see in the man’s cool, grey orbs, “I was the one that picked up her broken pieces, praying that they would come together... all because of fucking the mess that you made, a mess she never asked for.” With chest puffed, and fingers pointed directly at Suna’s chest in accusation,”So tell me, Suna... do you even have the right to be talking to me right now?”
“She’s not yours to gatekeep, and have a relationship on the side with another chick. If you think that’s normal, get some help because you’re insane.”
And with a clench to his jaw, Osamu stepped back thinking this would hurt you if you were to see… and warned, “this is my warning to you. Stay away from YN because you lost all right to be in her life the moment you chose to stick with your girl and simply drop her like trash. I guess twenty years means nothing in the eyes of a clown.”
I had nothing to say... the weight of Osamu’s words came crashing down too fast for me to absorb...
did I still love YN? No… but Hana has my heart… fuck
Or was it... that my heart has always been telling me so, but it was my selfish desire of wanting something utterly close to her… that I mistaken my ignorance and pain for love?
If that is the case...
... what have I done?
For those two years, it felt as if I truly did love Hana. Despite Hana’s toxicity, I embraced all that she was because, for me, that was love. Whenever she would hit me and throw insults at me for not being able to understand her, unable to meet her standards, I took the full blow because that was love. When she accused me of seeing YN behind her back, I took it all and further removed myself from YN because that to me… that was all love - a downright, foolish obsession.
I wasn’t able to fully realize how much of a selfish food I was until one fateful day, a couple days after my heated encounter with Osamu.
As per usual, after a tumultuous and exhausting hour of fighting, as a form of reconciliation our bodies were intertwined in an all too familiar position... never offering healing but oiling more flame to the fire...
Hana was pinned under my body as she moaned out my name to go faster… for me to keep touching her and continue making love to her. I swore my mind was filled with thoughts of pleasing her and solely concentrating on her… but for a split second I saw YN underneath me - moaning my name, gripping the sheets, scratching my skin - and seeing her there, pressed close underneath my skin…
I knew I was close.
I tried to think of anything to get my mind away from YN, she shouldn’t be in my mind … especially not when I was making love with my girlfriend. But my reserve was too low and that’s when my heart finally betrayed me.
No matter how hard I tried to get YN off my mind, I kept envisioning her under me, thoughts of her overwhelming my conscious.
How would she feel? What noises would she make when I kissed her sweetly? Would she squirm under my touch? Would she radiate a heat that would drive me insane?
“ YN….” I gluttonously moaned out.
Breath heavy with gasping pants, brows heavily furrowed, and with sweat falling from my temple. Without my knowledge, I came hard… harder than I have ever climaxed- leaving me speechless, trembling, gasping for air - I felt as if I was on drugs with the amount of euphoria I felt from my release.
And all came to a halt, when I was quickly met with an all too familiar smack to my face and the raging beast underneath me harshly push me off the bed.
“what the fuck did you just say…” I heard her curdling scream. Confused, I simply got up to console her, just like how I would always, it was now my second nature to appease her anger… totally aware of what I had done.
“Don’t touch me Rintarou… did you just come moaning out her name?”
Yes. And I felt no guilt.
“What, baby no!! I’m sorry… it just slipped out.. fuck I swear I was thinking of you.” With my arms tightly embracing Hana, I shamelessly pleaded…I unwilling to let her go but my voice could not lie... and Hana saw right through me.
“Get the fuck off of me… I’m leaving.”
With a final slap to my face, pushing me against the cold walls, she slammed the door and left the apartment. As I snuck deep into my knees thinking of what I have done and the guilt that started to form in my heart… my thoughts were filled with only of YN, and how good I felt from imagining her underneath me.
This isn’t normal… fuck what the hell am I doing?
Would it be selfish if I stated that the guilt wasn’t for Hana… but for YN? That I put YN into a mess that was undeserving of her… only if I had simply waited for her, something I’ve patiently been doing for 20 years... only for me to throw it all away just for a cheap copy?
A fake that constantly tortured my soul and mind, never leaving me alone… making me feel as if I was a slave? But a good enough replica that helped me to sickly imagine - maybe a relationship with you would feel like this? When I would touch Hana and made love to her - maybe that was what it would feel like with you? Fighting with Hana… maybe that was what fighting would be like with you?
I wasn’t sorry for my actions towards Hana, I only felt sorrow for what I have done to YN.
All the pain that I could’ve caused Hana, I redirected it to you...
I know I should’ve left Hana the moment this happened… but, through this I realized my mistake.
YN wasn’t Hana… she would never be, but yet she was close to something that of her - and that was more than enough for me. Because I am undeserving to pursue YN; therefore, I’ll settle for something like her.
Knowing how much damage it would inflict onto my heart… knowing how much it will kill me to be with Hana again…
if that meant I could somehow have YN in my heart...
Then the woman that I love would be Hana...
And I wasn’t willing to let go…
Would you guys want a taglist?? A couple of you guys asked but I wasn’t able to get your users down. There are only two parts left… lmk if you do, I’ll try and get one sorted.
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► BERRY PASTEL RAINBOWCY - UPDATED VERSION ◄
It is finally here! After weeks of working on this challenge, I can finally say that I am done and ready to start playing 👀 But first, let me introduce you to the challenge!
After the ungodly amount of love I received after sharing the NSB updated rules, I figured why not continue this trend and update one of my favorite berry legacies on this planet! Similarly to the NSB updated rules, I wanted to make the Berry Pastel Rainbowcy challenge by @berrysweetboutique more challenging and add content from the newer packs to the challenge to make it more current. That being said, this challenge first and foremost belongs to Berry, who kindly gave me permission to share this updated rules version of her beloved legacy challenge!
► WHAT ABOUT THE RULES? ◄
Similarly to the NSB updated challenge, the rules will be posted in a google document for easy access and to enable me to edit the rules whenever I want/need to. In the google document, I have listed the original rules as well so you are able to choose between playing with the original rules or playing with the updated rules. Also, this gives you an overview of what changed and what remained the same. Feel free to skip or add objectives as you play, you don’t have to stick to the objectives I’ve laid out for you, but they’re there if you would like to play around with them!
SEND ME TO THE GOOGLE DOC!
For easy access and to show an example of the rules, here are the first generation’s rules all written out. If you want to look at the other generations, click on the “send me to the rules” link!
Generation One: White
Growing up you’ve always been the creative mind of your family, the outcast, with your head in the clouds. You didn’t really have anyone to relate to but your parents though, since you’ve lived a rather sheltered life… When things get rough, you decide to get away from your overbearing parent(s) and seek refuge in the family’s vacation home. With no job and thus no income, you try to make the best of things by growing your own crops to eat and sell your art for money. Love doesn’t come easy for you and your love-live is a bit of a mess, but all in all you’ll have a big happy family you’ve always dreamt of!
traits: creative (family trait), art lover, FREE SLOT
aspiration: big happy family
career: none (earn money through selling paintings and foragables)
max painting skill
make one painting of all genres
sell at least 5 masterpieces
make a career out of selling your artwork
have 5 children with two different sims (pink & purple)
adoptions allowed after the birth of the 5th required child
paint a portrait of your heir to hang proudly in the family home (generational requirement)
mate’s career: choose between detective, secret agent or criminal
other sim’s career: unemployed (they’ll be helping you out on the farm)
only decorate your house with your own art, you are not allowed to buy art
escape the original family home and move to Henford-on-Bagley where you move into a small cottage on one of the larger residential lots (50x40). At least in the first gen, you will continue to add to this cottage as your family grows.
your lot has to have the Simple Living lot challenge (cooking is cheaper but depends on what you’ve got in your inventory; you need to forage your ingredients)
max gardening skill (you are allowed to sell foregables for income too)
besides painting, you also enjoy the outdoors and will have multiple different animals on your small farm. Choose between the following animals (can choose multiple animals)
Max the relationship with all of your animals
As you grow up into adulthood (adult or elder), either max the knitting skill or the cross-stitch skill because you need to start knitting some clothing for all your grandchildren!
become good friends with all 5 children and at least 2 grandchildren
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Initiative - aka NMJ and JYL get engaged - ao3 or tumblr pt 1, pt 2
Jiang Yanli’s first engagement had been announced when she was three and a half years old – there had been a big party, festooned in color, exquisitely and meticulously planned out in advance, and she’d been obliged to stand on stage next to a baby in a cradle that had done nothing but cry and spit as all the adults around her congregated and congratulated each other on the excellent match.
She hadn’t enjoyed that at all.
Her second wedding announcement was simultaneously more casual and more noteworthy, and she enjoyed it tremendously.
Madame Jin had sent several invitations to Jiang Yanli to come visit Lanling in advance of the hunt planned for Phoenix Mountain, speaking of how beautiful it was and how much she looked forward to seeing her good friend’s daughter – talking about she’d always regretted how Jiang Yanli had been obligated by circumstances to take shelter at the Unclean Realm rather than in Lanling City, although she’d been pleased to hear from her son that she was doing well – all the right sort of words. The words might have been more welcome if Jiang Yanli hadn’t known that Madame Jin was still intent on securing the marriage she had arranged.
If she hadn’t been engaged, she would have accepted the invitation, hoping to form an alliance for her sect through a close relationship with Madame Jin even if she didn’t have one with Jin Zixuan (no matter what Madame Jin hoped), but as she was, in fact, engaged to another – even if it hadn’t been formally announced – it would be inappropriate to go. So she instead played ignorant and responded graciously, protesting that she couldn’t possibly impose, that the rebuilding at the Lotus Pier needed her, but that she would of course be happy to attend the hunt alongside the rest of her sect.
She arrived at her brother’s side, smiling all the while.
Her second engagement was announced like this: Sect Leader Jin, using his newly legitimized son as his mouthpiece, had brought forward some ghastly ‘entertainment’ that involved shooting at helpless prisoners, tied up in chains. Jin Zixuan had complied, but Wei Wuxian had marched out and disrupted everything by showing off to a ridiculous extent – Nie Mingjue, who had been watching with a black face full of rage but unable to speak due to propriety, had started applauding very loudly and very enthusiastically – and Sect Leader Jin had ordered the prisoners taken away.
“Well, then,” he said, clapping as if he had impressed himself: as if they hadn’t just been subjected to a powerplay under the guise of hospitality, as if everyone would be over-awed by his might now that they had seen him abuse the helpless while they were all forced by the rules of etiquette to say nothing or else risk carrying the blame for trying to start another war. “Absent anything else, we should proceed to the hunt itself, where await you only the finest of prey and the sharpest competition among your peers.”
For the further display of the power of the Jin sect, he meant.
“Actually,” Nie Mingjue said, interjecting in a moment in which Sect Leader Jin had paused to take a breath so that it was technically not an interruption, “there is one thing. A request, in fact.”
Sect Leader Jin’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, but he maintained his false smile. “Of course, Sect Leader Nie. What can I do for you?”
“I’m getting married,” Nie Mingjue said. “The bride is Young Mistress Jiang, of Yunmeng Jiang, and I would like –” He raised his voice to overcome the abrupt explosion of talk that had erupted. “– I would like to have her accompany my sect in today’s hunt. I hope that doesn’t interfere with your plans for a competition between the sects?”
There were those who said that Jiang Yanli’s chosen husband was bad at politics, and they might even be right. But it didn’t really matter in the end if he’d thought of the idea on a whim or if it’d been a prearranged plan by Nie Huaisang, who was cleverer than he liked to let on to people, Jiang Yanli’s future husband had still wiped away in a single sentence all memory of the farce they’d all just endured and of the hunt that was yet to come, ensuring that the only thing anyone would remember about today was the shocking news of the engagement of the leader of one Great Sect to the sister of another.
(And if everyone remembered that at the last celebration hosted by Sect Leader Jin, he had proposed to resurrect the marriage between Jiang Yanli and his own son, instead, forcing her to publicly demur on vague terms…well, that just made it all the more satisfying.)
Now it was Sect Leader Jin’s turn to scowl and glare, and Madame Jin’s expression looked no less thunderous, but in the end Jiang Yanli got to go with the Nie sect on the hunt.
“You know I’ll only slow you down,” she said to Nie Mingjue, who snorted.
“No more than Huaisang will,” he said, and if his face was stern and his voice gruff then she still thought she detected fondness and humor beneath it. “Besides, it’ll be a good opportunity to measure you.”
It turned out that he meant that more literally than she might have thought.
Jiang Yanli was promptly whisked away to the back of the Nie retinue by a small cadre of Nie disciples, men and women both. She was presented with a number of training sabers shaped out of wood and made to hold them in a variety of positions as they murmured things about stability and reach and balance as if they really, truly thought that she would actually use the saber they were preparing for her.
“This one,” Nie Jiahui, a steely older woman with silver in her hair and fierce eyes, eventually announced, and the practice saber Jiang Yanli had been waving around was taken away. She was then presented with one that was twice as heavy, for “practice”.
“Do you always practice with something heavier than the actual thing?” she asked, and Nie Jiahui nodded.
“Strengthens the shoulders,” she said, curt but not standoffish. “Have some candy.”
Jiang Yanli blinked, but smiled and accepted the offer. It was licorice, which she liked.
“Do you often carry candy with you on night-hunts?” she asked, listening to the sound of fighting from up ahead. Every so often, a disciple or two would trot by carrying the corpses of larger and larger creatures, slain in the fighting; it seemed that the Nie sect was not, in fact, being slowed down in the slightest by her presence.
Of course, she also wasn’t being tended to as if she were their chosen lady, either, as she might have otherwise expected – all pomp and flowery language, Nie Mingjue by her side at all times to show her around as if they were on a pleasure stroll – but in all honesty that would have been a little bewildering. It was very much not the Nie sect’s character, all practical and straightforward, and she found that she preferred it that way.
“It’s important to have something to replenish energy,” Nie Huaisang said, having dropped back to join them from the front. He looked tired and grumpy, but his saber appeared to have been put to some work; he immediately climbed up into the carriage that people were taking turns riding and started cleaning it. “And licorice candy clears the lungs.”
“Clears the lungs?” Jiang Yanli asked.
“It’s good for more than that,” Nie Jiahui said. “But that’s one of the uses, yes. Do you ever feel like your chest is too tight, especially when you move too much? Leading to coughing, shortness of breath, your lips turning blue?”
Jiang Yanli blinked. “Yes,” she said. “But that’s just because I was born with a weak body.”
Nie Jiahui scoffed and Nie Huaisang laughed. “Good luck with that,” he said cheerfully. “I was born with muscles that didn’t keep their tone: too flexible, incapable of gathering strength, requiring more energy to do less, making me twice as tired twice as fast – even sitting up straight can be a struggle in some extreme cases, though luckily not mine. And do you think that helped me one bit in getting out of saber training? It did not.”
“Early childhood intervention is best,” Nie Jiahui said. “But the next best is starting today. I’ll show you some low-impact exercises that you can start working on to strengthen your shoulders and stomach, as well as some balance movements to center yourself and improve your posture – that way, by the time your actual saber is ready, you’ll be able to take it through one of the basic routines.”
“I’m happy to learn whatever you have to teach,” Jiang Yanli said, ignoring Nie Huaisang’s dramatic cry of ‘And here I thought you’d be on my side!’ “I only regret troubling you.”
“Not at all,” Nie Jiahui said. “It’ll be good to have someone watching the Sect Leader’s back on night-hunts.”
Jiang Yanli felt a surge of terror and excitement in her belly. “He would trust me with that? You would trust me with that?”
“I did tell you that you’d need to keep up with him,” Nie Huaisang said mildly, and it was true, he had, only she’d assumed it was a bit more metaphorical. “You don’t have to fight or even walk too much, if it doesn’t suit you – my grandmother was lame in both her legs from a childhood illness, she rode everywhere, scariest woman I’ve ever met by far – but you do have to be there. Someone needs to be able to tell my brother to stop. Someone he’ll listen to.”
And wasn’t that something of a thrill to think of?
Jiang Yanli wasn’t someone anyone listened to – not her parents, not her brother, not her sect disciples. She’d always been the one who comforted them afterwards, who supported them; she made them food and tried to convince them to be kinder to each other, and sometimes they even tried for a while before getting into another tiff. They would kill for her if she so much as hinted at it, tear down the sky for her, but it was more in the nature of indulging her rather than actually allowing them to guide her.
Yet here was Chifeng-zun, a war hero and a sect leader, one of the most powerful men in the world, a man admired by men and sought after (even if only in their hearts) by women, and his family was telling her that he would listen to her.
“If you say so,” she demurred, but they insisted, and by the time the hunt was over Jiang Yanli was surprised to realize that she hadn’t needed to resort to sitting on the carriage more than twice the entire time.
“We’ll send Auntie Jiahui to the Lotus Pier after today’s hunt is done,” Nie Huaisang chattered cheerfully in her ear as they headed back towards Jinlin Tower. “She’ll work you through your paces, believe you me, and all the supplemental things, too – making sure you eat the right thing, take medicinal baths to improve your meridians, apply massages to loosen your joints…those parts are nice, actually. Take care of your body as you would your saber, take care of your saber as you would your wife! That’s how the saying goes. Trust me, you’ll be regretting the whole thing soon enough.”
Jiang Yanli didn’t think she would. “You seem very confident that A-Cheng will allow you to do as you please, even in the Lotus Pier.”
“I’ll tell him it concerns secret Nie sect marriage rituals,” Nie Jiahui interjected. “When two women are involved, men tend to run away when the words ‘marriage’ and ‘secret’ are combined.”
Sadly, she was probably right.
“Show me those exercises again,” she requested, and Nie Jiahui climbed up on to the carriage to show her the ones she could do even while sitting down.
Jiang Yanli might never have had the opportunity to strengthen herself before, and she was moderately certain that she wouldn’t have too much success now, as the various tricks Nie Jiahui had taught her were largely body refinement, barely reliant on qi, and her cultivation was still as low as ever.
But she was good at devoting herself to learning something when she wanted to, and as soon the hunt at Phoenix Mountain was over and they had shifted over to the various feasts and meetings that Lanling Jin had planned for the rest of the week, she began her efforts at self-improvement in earnest.
The weak body her mother had always despaired of might always be weak – Nie Jiahui had been quite blunt on that subject, making it clear that nothing she was suggesting was some sort of miracle pill, and furthermore that there was nothing wrong with being weak as long as she made an effort (Nie Huaisang had been the recipient of several pointed looks there) – but Jiang Yanli was determined to at least demonstrate that she was trying.
A gesture of good faith, perhaps. Some small show of initiative.
Nie Huaisang had said that Nie Mingjue appreciated her initiative.
“A-Xian,” she called one morning, only a few days later. “A-Xian, are you going out for a walk? Let me come with you.”
“You’ve gone on a lot of walks recently,” Wei Wuxian laughed, but allowed her to take his arm as they walked into the crowd. “Do you like Lanling City so much?”
“It’s the exercise I’m after,” she said, smiling at him. “The Nie sect is a martial sect, remember? I’ll be going on more night-hunts in the future, if all goes well, and I’ll need to keep up.”
“Oh, but surely they’ll bring a carriage..? I don’t know if you really need to go on night-hunts –”
“I want to! It’ll be nice. Don’t worry about me so much, A-Xian –”
Wei Wuxian was shaking his head, smiling, and he wasn’t looking where he was going; perhaps that was why he bumped into the young woman.
But then she looked up at him, and he looked down at her, and he froze.
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Rebellion in Ojibwe Society: Considerations for Pre-Contact Indigenous Peoples
Hi! I'm writing a fantasy story with an Ojibwe-like culture, and I'm wondering what rebellion/counter culture would look like in a tribal culture pre-contact? One of my characters has a rebellious spirit, but I keep writing her in a very ... American-teenage-rebellion way, which I know isn't a phase of life in all cultures. To rephrase in snarky terms, "what were Ojibwe punks up to 500 years ago?" I haven't been able to find any helpful information, so I thought I'd ask here! Thank you!
Traditional disclaimer: not raised under traditional parenting techniques, not from that nation, this is primarily pointing out structural differences in Indigenous society vs Western from a reconnecting person.
Teenagerhood as we know it is modern
When it comes to the concept of rebellion, there is one very important thing to keep in mind: how recent and privileged the concept of “teenagerhood is a sheltered time you figure yourself out” is. In a lot of traditional societies, you started helping doing the adult work in childhood alongside your parents. By teenage years you were a pretty valued member of the community, and were beginning to work on adult honours, were looking to get married, etc.
Pre-contact parenting traditions exists in modern day, too. You can absolutely look at very modern, very connected Indigenous societies and notice the way they structure work and parenting is different. Parenting traditions are going under a huge revival as communities heal from residential schools, and these traditional techniques are being preserved.
So what is she even rebelling against? She’d be in a world where she’d be granted a lot of autonomy, be able to do basically everything an adult could by this point, and would have been guided by people working alongside her. The traditional avenues of rebellion like “you don’t know what it’s like to grow up now” and “I’m not a kid stop treating me like one” are harder to rely on.
It’s really primarily an industrialization invention to have teen years be the “in between” years we know them as today. In modern times, teenage years are considered the years you focus on your education to eventually get started as an adult in your 20s, once you have a job that is in a separate institution to your family.
In non-industrial societies where the primary work available is what keeps the community running, and extra time is spent creating beauty (art, stories, music), or advancing our understanding of the world (medicine, scientific experiments). There is far less need for a period of being sheltered where all you do is educate yourself in order to be an adult; I’d assume the primary structures of teenage years would be based around helping teach emotional regulation.
A note: the average hunter-gatherer, according to anthropologists, only “does work” (to survive) about 20 hours a week. There would be plenty of time to do fun things in society.
And I’m sure somebody in the notes will mention it: yes, the fact that the average age was closer to 60-70 instead of 80-90 like we have in industrial society is part of it. But elders could and did live into their 80s pre-contact, so the point is less salient than you’d think.
Environmental controls didn’t exist
The other important thing to keep in mind is: there was only so much rebellion you could do before you ended up dead from the natural world.
Elders were those who had survived and whose wisdom you could use to help everyone’s survival. Counsel and collective leadership were often prized, along with young experience. Humility was often taught as a virtue because pride went out and got you killed, and greed would render the land uninhabitable.
So really, the likelihood of having her be rebellious in any way we’d recognize is slim to none. Traditional Indigenous parenting techniques are worlds different than American parenting techniques, and anthropologist after anthropologist has noted that kids in Indigenous societies—when those societies don’t have massive traumas that come from, say, residential schools and parents never being able to learn Indigenous practices—are way more well adjusted than Western teenagers.
If you’re dead set on having her be rebellious in some way: my biggest suggestion would be to read ethnographies of the Ojibwe that described their cultural practices and see if there were any social norms discussed around teenage rebellion; you could get lucky and find a gem of rebellion actively described, or you might have to read through a bunch and piece together a cultural context from them.
But you need to do this research anyway, so look for particularly thick and comprehensive tomes. As I said, this can be found in modern day, so you’re not super limited by time period. If you really want to focus on “as it was”, you’ll be looking for writings between 1850 and 1930.
(I’ve read one ethnography that mentioned an avenue of rebellion among the Omaha, written in 1911. It described how arranged marriages for teenage girls were common, but if the girl could get her chosen husband’s family to treat her as his wife, then the father couldn’t force her to marry the guy he chose. But that relies on a patriarchal society, even if the idea of a patriarchal society would have looked different at the time)
Look for things published by universities; those will have the best academic rigour. I’m not super well versed in the modern anthropology programs because my education stopped right before I got to that point, but an edu with a heavy involvement in the tribe will be the best.
Historically your best sources, or at least a place to look for sources, are those who had close connections with the tribe and lived there for extended periods of time, or even better had tribal co-writers. An example of the former would be Margaret Mead, who wrote Coming of Age in American Samoa, and she kind of single handedly brought breastfeeding back to American society. Her work is highly debated, but the Samoans she worked with loved her; she lived with them for most of her life, from her 20s to retirement. An example of the latter is Alice Fletcher, who co-wrote The Omaha Tribe with Francis La Flesche.
Ojibwe, please comment: What does “rebellion” look like to you?
~ Mod Lesya
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Do we think Villanelle will have a redemption arc in s4?😬
A redemption arc for Villanelle sounds like an extraordinary bad idea.
She doesn't need one and shouldn't want one either. Villanelle is not entirely a villain, but she's far from hero material. Redemption arcs are for characters who want to change from doing bad things to doing good things.
That's not her.
Telling Dasha she doesn't want to do her job anymore and telling Carolyn she doesn't want to carry out assassinations for MI6 or The Twelve is not the same as Villanelle working in a homeless shelter and serving meals. When she whispers, "I've killed so many people, Eve," it's not an apology, but an admission of fact. She's got the body count to back up that she's kind of a big deal in the assassination business.
What has made Villanelle so charmingly chilling is how easily she embodies the idea of evil wearing a pretty face. Few could dismiss how alluring Villanelle is despite the fact she never weaponizes her sexuality. Seducing, then slaughtering some sucker between the sheets is left to James Bond bad girls. Villanelle has scruples and standards to maintain.
But she's coming off a bit of a losing streak where most of her kills in Season 3 were lacking in style, wit, as well as effectiveness. Strangling middle-aged widows is basic shit. So is knocking shopkeepers off ladders and then bludgeoning them to death. The piano tuning fork kills were laughably ludicrous. Not to say you couldn't kill two adult women with a perfectly thrown instrument, but to that degree of lethality? It seems a bit...exaggerated.
Villanelle doesn't need redemption. She needs a reset.
In Killing Eve's final season the solution is not to go "cold turkey" and stop murdering. Instead, Villanelle needs to think bigger and start taking out The Twelve. Now when she's most underestimated by her enemies (Hi, Hélène!) is the moment where she can not only be at her most dangerous, but backed up with a partner-in-crime eager to assist her in doing this good work (guess who?).
The last thought to go through Rhian's brain before the wheels of the train did was, "She's still got it. She can still kill."
Rhian came by that knowledge a little too late to do any good. Poke the bear and the bear pokes back. After that? You're dead.
Then there's the Eve Factor. Villanelle may not want to kill, but she certainly doesn't want to die. Self-preservation is very much a primal instinct she possess in abundance. So is her instinct to protect her chosen mate: Eve Polastri. The only human being in the world she cares for.
Villanelle would wade through a human mountain of blood and gore and bleeding bodies to save Eve.
Now, throw in Eve's own rapidly developing savagery which she seems very uninterested in putting on a leash. Quite the contrary. Eve's monster thrills her as much as it frightens her and she sees in Villanelle a kindred spirit who has found a way to control her more violent impulses, but not eliminate them entirely.
Eve wants to learn how to do that too and the second best thing that could happen for their last ride is Villanelle shows her how to tame that tiger until she chooses to let it loose (the first best thing would be Villaneve Sex, but you knew that, right?).
Villanelle doesn't need redemption, doesn't deserve redemption and shouldn't even want redemption. Being this bad feels so good and who's badder than Villanelle? What would you have her be if she wasn't filled with gloriously evil purpose? Normal?
I shudder to think what a "normal" Villanelle would look like, but boring as hell instantly comes to mind.
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Tiny Treasures | JJK x Reader | 💜🐾(☁️)🔞
Commission for @eyerin !! Thank you sm for that request! 💖
Want to request too? Take a look at my ko-fi then! (ko-fi.com/bonnykookoo)
Pairing: Jeon Jungkook x Hybrid!Reader
Genre: hybrid AU, non-idol!AU, Web-Designer!Jungkook, bunny hybrid!Reader, featuring Taehyung: your local scatterbrain (TM)
Warnings: absolute fluff, it’s cotton candy I swear, so soft, so sweet, oh lord, reader is shy and sweet, Jungkook is whipped, he’s so sweet with her ugh, this is now my official emotional support Koo, some mentions of past abuse/neglect, did I mention that kook is whipped, because his heart go boom boom whenever reader so much as BREATHES, strength kink (hint), your local praise and size kink say hi as well, no smut would you believe it, possibly future parts? I dont know I just love them okay
Summary: Jungkook was a hopeless romantic believing in love at first sight- and then there was you, a bunny experiencing the tiny treasures of life for the first time. Together, with him.
It's busy in Jungkooks apartment- something thats unusual, considering that technically, the young man lives alone, doesn't really fuck around, and works at home as well ever since he took on the job as a web-designer. There was no reason to cause such an amount of stress in his home- other than the simple fact of his best friend currently pacing around, steps so fast and hard that Jungkook scared his flooring would soon melt underneath the older ones shoes he didn't take off in a rush. There were bags on his couch, bags on his counter, and a backpack somewhere in his living room- all because of;
"Okay so, she's okay with eating almost everything BUT!" Taehyung holds his finger up as if he's lecturing a child in front of him- which he's not, Jungkook is a full grown adult at this point, and looks at him unimpressed with furrowed brows as his older friend lists up things he needs to keep in mind for the hybrid he's looking after for the day. "Please make sure she's hydrated, she tends to forget to drink during the day. If she does and gets a headache there's medication in the bag that I've put on the couch- you've seen it right? Should I show you again?" He stresses, and Jungkook holds his friend's shoulders for a moment.
"Can you like, breathe for a moment please?" He says, and Taehyung nods, following the instructions for a moment before Jungkook continues. "Okay great. Now that you're not hyperventilating anymore I can tell you that yes, I've seen the bag-" He says, pointing towards the couch that's littered with so many things it seems like he's giving the hybrid up for adoption today instead of just dropping her off until tomorrow. "Second of all, I've taken care of Yoongi before and he's still alive, what's so different? Just because she's a bunny- or was it hare- wait is there a difference..?" Jungkook drawls off, suddenly thinking and not quite remembering if he's ever quite asked himself the difference of these two things. Taehyung however seems offended by that.
"Jungkook, she's a BUNNY, not a hare! That's a HUGE difference!" He whines out, and Jungkook looks at him a bit sheepish, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. "Oh god maybe I shouldn't go, this is a bad idea.." He says, already taking out his phone to cancel the date he has tonight, but jungkook holds the elders friend before he can make that mistake. Taehyung was a busy man, running a hybrid rehabilitation center in Seoul and Daegu- while talking to Busan's department for partnership. He really loves his job- but sometimes he gets too invested in it, just like now. He's finally got a date for himself after years of being alone; but he almost shot the poor woman down when he remembered that you, a newly rescued hybrid was staying at his home- something he never did before. Sure, he had taken over the rehabilitation of hybrids before, but he had never ever taken a case home with him. But after meeting you, seeing you, and knowing what you've been put through, his heart simply couldn't leave you at the shelter- even though he knew that it was probably the best place to be for you. But he had done what he had done now- there was no turning back with you. He couldn't leave you alone yet, so Jungkook had volunteered to look after you for the day and night, until Taehyung would pick you up the next day. The younger one had always looked after Yoongi, a cat hybrid later on adopted by Jung Hoseok, a friend of both of them; so he personally felt good about taking you in.
It was just for a day- what could go wrong?
"Come on, don't you trust me? Or is she like, super aggressive or something?" Jungkook asks, and Taehyung sighs. He hasn't told the younger one much about you, believing it was bad karma to talk about others when they weren't present. Yet this time he'd have to make an exception- because Jungkook needed to know at least some things about you and where you came from. Everything else would be unfair.
Taehyung sighed. "She's a category 3, so she's still recovering from her past home. She's just.. super shy and timid, and gets scared pretty easily so, I'm just terrified Jungkook. I know you don't want to cause any harm, but what if something happens and she just falls back? She's come so far these days, you should've seen her when I got her.." He said, and Jungkook looked at him- the eyes of the younger serious, reminding Taehyung that deep inside, he was more than just a schoolfriend. "When she got to me, she didn't even know how to use cutlery Kook. She.." But Jungkook smiled, placing a hand to his friend's shoulder in reassurance.
"I get it. I'll do my best, okay?" He says. "I promise I'll call you as soon as something's up, okay?" He says, and Taehyung nods. With a small wave he leaves the apartment to pick you up from the shelter- and Jungkook, in exchange, began to rummage through the plastic bags Taehyung had dumped onto his couch.
He was familiar with hybrids to some degree- he never really had owned one, and neither did his family. He knew that his brother owned a dog hybrid, but he had yet to bring him to family gatherings; Jungkook had never seen the puppy hybrid himself. His parents however said that she was nice, and Jungkook never really had any bad experiences with them. He sometimes visited Taehyung at work and conversed with some of the more chatty hybrids.
He was familiar with caring for them to some degree. As already stated before, he'd looked after 'grumpy-cat' Yoongi a lot back in the days when he was still in the center for rehabilitation. Jungkook knew about their different preferences in food, and their different behaviors. He, sadly, also knew about the mistreatment most of the hybrids went through before getting to the center into Taehyungs and his Staff's care- and he always hated it. The stories he sometimes heard made him sleepless during the night, made him research donation websites just to cleanse his mind for the moment.
But it only ever lasted until the next case would turn up at Taehyung's doorstep.
Quite frankly, Jungkook didn't know what he'd expected. After all, he'd never seen you in person, he simply went after Taehyungs description of you, but what was now standing at his door, was something that erased any thought he may had prior to opening it.
You were so.. delicate? Cute? He's never used the word 'cute' for a person before, because he simply thought aegyo and all of that was something girls put up for a facade of innocence. He hated that with a passion, cringing any time he saw it- yet there was, in his opinion, no other word that described you better.
You were just as shy as Taehyung said, yet you forced yourself to bow a little as a greeting, taking a small step back however when Jungkook snapped out of his thoughts and opened the door fully to step aside. He threw a smile your way, hoping it could ease your nerves a little- and it seemed to work, because he saw your lips turn a bit upwards into a shy smile.
He felt as if he'd just won a ranked overwatch match against the seoul dynasty.
"Okay, I'm gonna pick you up tomorrow ASAP, okay? Are you gonna be fine here?" Taehyung asked you, and you looked over his shoulder- your bright eyes meeting Jungkooks, who was leaning against his kitchen counter, smiling boyishly while waving a little. It made you feel okay; he seemed nice enough, and after all, any friend of Taehyungs was a friend of yours. He'd taught you that. So you nodded, and Taehyung smiled, patting your head for a moment, your ears flopping to the sides before standing upright again after his hand left you. He waved goodbye and seemed a bit reluctant to leave- but you knew that Taehyung was excited for his date. He'd talked about nothing else these past days, and it made you happy to see him so giddy over something.
"So." Jungkook started, his voice fitting him, you thought. He looked fit, and comfortable to you- his oversized sweater probably big enough for you to hide in. Wait- what was that thought?! You averted your eyes immediately, ears shyly drooping backwards as you began to shuffle your fluffy socks on his wooden floor, the laminate suddenly super interesting. "Taehyung said you should have a nice healthy dinner- but I may forgot to buy groceries, so, is it okay for you to tag along?" He asked. "You can choose what you want to eat while we're at it, too." He said, and you perked up at that.
"I can?" You asked, ears slowly moving into a more confident position again, and he smiled at that achievement.
"Sure!" He exclaimed, and walked towards the door, grabbing his jacket, before he looked at you. You were staring at something- and as he followed your gaze, he saw your shoes. Simple sneakers in colors that fit your current clothes, but, was he connecting the dots correctly? He didn't want to offend you in case you were simply deep in thought, so he simply waited, slipping on his own shoes, as he watched you out of the corner of his eyes.
You really were struggling to tie your shoes.
So he simply sat down on the small step that divided his entrance from the rest of his apartment, and tapped the top of his knee. "Come here, I'll help." He said, and your eyes widened, shaking your head.
"I'll- I'll get your pants dirty.." You said worriedly, but Jungkook shook his head again.
"Don't worry about that." He said, and you hesitantly placed your shoe on his knee with just the very tip- something that made him smile a bit before he placed it down properly, tying the laces quickly.
"Sorry." You apologized, but he shook his head yet again as he tied the other.
"It's fine." He simply said, before you both got up, going outside. "Do you, uhm.." He began, nervously picking on the slight fuzz of his skin against his chin before he finished, by holding his hand out. "You know, so you don't, accidentally get lost or something. Taehyung would kill me." He laughed, and you blushed, before hesitantly taking his larger hand, holding it as he walked to the nearby grocery store with you.
Inside, it was busy as usual- but Taehyung typically didn't take you out during these hours, something about you maybe becoming overloaded by sensations and sounds. You've never been to a grocery like this before though- because while yes, it was a lot, Jungkooks hand never left yours even for a second. He calmly explained things you seemed interested in, and his entire presence calmed you down, even though you didn't really know him at all.
But your instincts were telling you that he was a good person; and until now, they had never been wrong.
"So, which one do you like?" He asked, pulling you from your thoughts as you were drifting off a little. He smiled at you, while you were looking at the shelves, pointing towards a pack of ramen. You've never tried it, but you had been interested when you saw them at Taehyungs place once or twice- however, back then you had been too shy to ask if you could maybe try it sometimes. "Hmm.. you sure about this one? It's pretty spicy sweetheart." He said, letting the petname slip as your ear flinched a bit into his direction, eyes widening a bit. Taehyung sometimes called you sweetheart as well- but somehow, in some weird way, it made you feel all tingly inside hearing it from Jungkook. "Uhm.. maybe, I can buy this one, and this chicken flavoured one- you can taste mine, and if you like it, we can switch. Okay?" He explained, and you nodded, not really listening anymore as you looked at him with an almost fascinated expression.
Taehyung had told you he had never truly taken care of a female hybrid, let alone a rehab-case such as you were. But he seemed so nice, so sweet, it was hard to imagine him not owning a hybrid- or being single. While Taehyung had never outright said that Jungkook was, you assumed so by the hints you noticed here and there. No other scent than his in his home, and you also remember Taehyung teasing the younger yesterday over the phone, saying something that at least Taehyung was getting himself some dating action.
For some weird reason, knowing that Jungkook didn't have a partner made you feel nice.
But then you remembered his words. "But- what will you eat if I eat yours?" You ask, and he shrugs.
"We'll simply switch then. I don't mind." He says, placing both packs in the shopping cart as you watched him. Your old home hadn't been too kind to you, yet you still didn't know anything else than the treatment you got back there. It was still new to you how easy going some people were, how much freedom you actually had. You've seen kids on swings last week, and a girl feeding a stray cat in an alleyway. Those were things you've never seen before.
"Okay, now the fun part." He says, and you look up at him, his head nodding towards something specific.
Your eyes widened seeing all the different packages and flavours, making your ears droop a bit in confusion. You were lost; what should you choose? You didn't know any of these except some flavors Taehyung had at his house. Jungkook, already connecting the dots, opens one of the doors. "Do you like fruity things? I personally like mild flavors, like vanilla." He says, picking a box of two separate containers. "How about this one?" He asks, and you nod excitedly.
"Yes please.!" You say, pretty much vibrating on the spot as Jungkook places the box into the cart, making an elderly lady next to the two of you chuckle.
"So sweet. And great manners too!" She says, before a hybrid walks up to her; his bright orange badge showing that the dog hybrid was a service worker. "Take good care of her, young man, yes?" She says, and Jungkook nods, squeezing your hand a little tighter as you both watch the lady getting escorted towards the cashiering section.
Jungkook had honestly never really thought about taking care of his own hybrid. He always worried that his friend's teasing was actually real- that he was too immature to quite take care of another living being except his own. Depp down he knew of course that he was capable of that, but insecurities sometimes still bit at his soul from the inside. He couldn't do much about that- he was a hopeless person in that department; still believing in love at first sight, and that human-hybrid relationships are nothing weird.He secretly loved romantic dramas, read shōjo mangas at the bookstore whenever he was too scared to buy them- afraid of being teased for it. He hated perfumes, enjoyed soft smells and fabrics, and even knew how to braid hair. He may looked like a typical muscle-head; with nothing filling his brain apart from protein powder and the need to work out and survive off of energy drinks and leftover cup noodles, but that wasn't really who he was. He simply liked to take care of himself, nothing more. He didn't work out for anyone but himself.
For some reason he enjoyed taking care of you like this. You were so sweet, so cute, that he couldn't help but already feel a little protective of you- that fact having only little to do with Taehyung. Maybe he simply needed a small push into the right direction to finally experience what it was like to have a hybrid, to test out what it was like to live with one.
But he didn't just want a hybrid, he noticed as he watched you carefully place the items of the shopping cart on the cash register, just like he'd asked you to do-
He wanted you.
He could feel someone staring at him. It was like it was piercing his neck, like laser dots on his skin, and it should freak him out like nothing else if it wasn't for the fact that he knew it couldn't be any other than you. He looked at the pot he was putting water in, the reflection showing your form sneakily watching him from the entrance of the kitchen. He chuckled. "Hm.." He began, dramatically sighing. "I wish there was a certain sweet bunny hybrid here to help me cook.. but I guess she's too busy.." He hummed, as he made sure the water in the pot was enough for one pack, before he turned around, your form now standing a few steps behind him. "Oh?" He said, acting surprised as you shyly smiled.
"Can I help.?" You asked, and he nodded, patting the counter to which you walked, squeaking cutely as he simply turned you around with gentle hands, lifting you up to sit between the stove on one side, and the sink on the other. You'd somehow come to the conclusion already that he was quite strong- but the short taste you got of his strength made your heart race a little. It was instinctively, really; your kind looked for partners with certain attributes, after all. They were supposed to protect you and your offspring at some point- even though that part made you look at your knees in shame, before Jungkook snapped you out of your thoughts before they could sway.
"Can you open the packages for me?" He asks, and you nod, taking them out of his hands and opening the foil carefully. You take out the still hard noodles before the flavor pack falls out, slapping on the floor as it falls down out of your hand. Jungkook however doesn't scold you- simply picks it up and gives it to you, and you look at him for a moment- watching him for any indication that he's mad. But he's not.
It's as if nothing had happened.
So you put the flavor pack and tiny oil package on top of the noodle blocks, so carefully Jungkook has to force himself not to just simply scream from how concentrated you look doing something so simple. "When the water boils, like, when it bubbles a lot, you can put these packs in, alright?" He says, and you nod, as if he's giving you instructions on how to prepare for war. He can't help himself at that moment, grinning so hard his dimples show as he reaches out to pet your head.
It's a little like Taehyung, but it feels a lot different.
With Taehyung, while you do feel safe and comfortable around him, and it feels nice, it's not at all like Jungkook. The younger one makes your heart race. He makes your pride swell, and your eyes sparkle- it's as if you've been given an award for the greatest achievement ever. You almost whine when he lets go.
So you later on put the packs into the boiling water with so much precision, immediately seeking his approval right after, to which he smiles at you. "Good job, Bunny." He says, and pets your head, absentmindedly moving the palm of his hand from the top of your head to instead cradle your cheek. Its such a soft and gentle touch that you almost go limp- closing your eyes and leaning into it. He only notices that when he looks back from the pots- now turned down a bit to a simmer as to not overcook- and his heart surely bursts in that moment.
You look so.. there's no word in Jungkooks head to properly describe the view he has, that image of you in front of him. He can't help himself- begins to trace his thumb against the soft skin, watching your ears relax and flop down. He can't imagine that someone like you could ever be done harm to; and while he doesn't know much about your past, he's sure it hadn't been pretty. It makes him want to just keep you right here, in his apartment, close to him, where he can make sure no one could ever cause you to be upset.
Both of you are abruptly pulled out of your thoughts by his phone ringing, the device so badly placed that it falls down to the floor after vibrating a few seconds. "Fuck!" He exclaims, picking it up and sighing in relief when it turns out to still be without damage. He takes on the call, and on the other side of the line, is Taehyung. He greets his younger friend, instantly asking him if you're okay- if you've eaten yet, drank anything, if you're homesick- all in one breath, it seems. Jungkook chuckles, simply placing a hand on your knee, thumb again tracing a pattern he's unsure of what its supposed to be. The warmth seeps into your skin through the fabric of your clothing. He smiles at you, and for the first time, maybe because you're feeling so.. smitten with him, you smile back. Not just a shy little lift of your lips, but a full on beaming smile, making his hand reach out to brush along your ear- internally gasping at how soft the fur is. How can something be this soft?! "Taehyung, she's fine. We're making ramen right now, she helped me cook, and afterwards we're gonna have icecream and watch a movie or something." He explains, and Taehyung claps back with something along the lines of 'but don't let her have the spicy stuff, she can't handle that-' but the younger one doesn't listen that much anymore. "Yeah yeah, listen, we're fine. Go get your girl, jesus." He laughs, and Taehyung chuckles as well, hanging up after reminding him to get you to bed at a reasonable time- as if you're a child he's taking care of.
Because that's the thing. You're not a child- and in Jungkooks eyes, you're not a pet. You're so sweet and easily interested in the simplest of things, he can't help but wonder if you had any hobbies. Did you like video games? Or drawing? Were you into books- hell, could you even read? He wanted to know so much more about you than just those tiny breadcrumbs of info he had gotten from Taehyung. He dearly hoped that maybe, maybe you would like to see him again after leaving tomorrow. He really hoped.
And as you ate, shaking your head at Jungkooks spicy ramen after tasting the broth a little from his spoon (which he did make sure to blow on as to not have you burn your tongue, bless his heart), he really did hope.
He really hoped that maybe, you felt just as happy around him as he felt around you.
It seemed that going grocery shopping, cooking, and eating icecream had taken its toll on you. Your eyes were practically falling shut every few seconds, yet you tried to stay awake as much as possible. Jungkook smiled at you, brushing some hair back before he moved your shoulder a bit. "Hey, bunny?" He asked, and you nodded, humming a noise of yes, you heard him. He chuckled. "You'll have to get up baby. I have to prepare the couch for you." Typically, it would be normal to give a guest the bed- if he was being a gentleman. But that was what he was being; because his couch was the most comfortable thing in his entire apartment for that matter. Yet maybe it was the sleep inside your bones making you drowsy, but you shook your head. "Hm?" He asks, and you suddenly move.
You shuffle around, suddenly hugging him tightly, head hidden in his chest as you rub your nose against the soft fabric of his shirt for a moment. "Don't wanna." You complain, and he swears he dies and gets ressurected all at once seven times in total at your next words. "Wanna sleep with 'koo." You drawl, and he knows he should not let you. You're not thinking clearly- but he can't deny you anything when you're like this, it seems. You've got him wrapped around your little finger, tightly, with no chance of escape.
So he gently picks you up after turning off the TV, bringing you to his bedroom, where he puts you on the bed, your tired form struggling to stay seated. He picks out a shirt of his to wear, and a pair of your shorts out of your backpack Taehyung has left for you. "Sweetheart, can you change for me?" He asks, and you simply let yourself playfully fall ontop of his mattress, making him sigh. You're going to be the death of me. "Oh really now?" He says, before he crawls over you, with the intention to tickle you a little awake- but he stops in his tracks. In fact, time seems to stop as well, as your eyes stare at him, so big and full of wonder he almost can't stop himself from looking at your lips.
But its you who shyly- and so quickly he almost doesnt catch it- pecks his lips before sneakily slipping out his grasp, taking your clothes with you into the bathroom, leaving him on the bed. He sits down, touching his lips for a second, absolutely unsure if he'd just experienced this, or if he had just had a fever dream of some sorts.
It's only when he notices you don't emerge from the bathroom, that he moves. He gently knocks at the wooden door, asking for you, but you don't answer. "I'm gonna open the door, okay?" He says, and does so seconds after, spotting you sitting on the tiled floor- now dressed in his sweater and your shorts, ready for bed. He notices however how you're hiding in the sweater- the hood covering your ears, while your hands shield your face. "Whats wrong?" He asks as he squats down in front of you, his hands gently pulling yours away from your face. You're not crying, thank god, but the look on your face speaks entire novels about how embarrassed you feel.
"M'sorry." You say, and pout, and he shakes his head.
"Don't be." He simply answers, helping you stand up after a moment. "Why do you feel bad?" He asks, and you shrug your shoulders.
"I just.." You start, but suddenly your eyes grow glossy. "I miss Taehyung-" You say, and Jungkook's heart drops for a moment. "-but I also don't wanna go home tomorrow." You finish, and Jungkook blinks twice, before he looks at you, confused. You didn't want to leave? Him? "I.. no, it's fi-"
"Say it." He demands- its not harsh, its not even loud, its almost just a whisper, tuneless words pressed out in a breath of air. "Don't keep it in- say it." He prompts you, and you swallow, not looking at him.
"I wanna stay with you." You say.
And he swears, the pain in his heart was the sweetest he'd ever felt.
The next day, after breakfast, Jungkook and you sit on his living room floor, him teaching you how to build a rubber powered plane- the one's he used to make as a kid. He'd kept a kit in his apartment back when he moved out of his family home but never got around to really use it. It was the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy the things you had missed out on in your life. He loved the way you so intensely watching his every move as he showed you how to put the pieces together. "And that's gonna fly?" You ask curiously, leaning over a bit as to get a better look at it.
"Hmhm." He says, holding it up, before giving it to you. "Here, turn this part until you can't anymore." He says, and you start twisting it for a while. "Don't worry, you can't break it." He says when you hesitate a little. He highly doubts you'll be able to snap the rubber band. "Tight?" He asks, checking, before he nods, standing up. "Lets go fly it outside!" He says, opening the glass door to the small backyard of his apartment. "And- Go!" he says, and you throw it just how he showed you minutes prior; letting it fly for a good moment before it landed.
"It flew!" You exclaimed happily, and he laughed as well, congratulating you as if you had just won a competition. He held you tightly to his body for a moment after you had jumped into his arms- and that was how you just stood there for a moment, simply existing, holding each other. For you, this was a moment of realizing that no, you're not alone. You're not useless, you're not just a pet, you're not just existing for someone's enjoyment. You had this one person at your side now, someone you could count on, someone to make you feel safe. And for him? Weirdly enough, he felt like the male lead of a romantic drama show- finally getting the happy ending he always craved in his life. He never knew what exactly he always wanted from his time here on earth. Was it success? Was it money? A big apartment, a nice home, a lot of friends? No, it was building a blanket fort with you in his living room. It was going to the grocery store with you, protecting you from big dogs that scared you, or holding you during the night. Every cheesy romantic thing he could imagine, now always featured you in his head; and it just, fit. It fit perfectly.
You fit into his life just perfectly.
It's later that day when Taehyung picks you up that he realizes that yes, he's positively in love with you. Because how can he not fall in love with those glistening eyes, hand waving goodbye for now because of course he can't just keep you like he wants to. There's paperwork involved, and your things need to be moved to his place- all of that needing to wait for social services to check his home, so that they can make sure he's really the right fit for you. It's then that he finally lets everything sink in, finally lets him think about what's going to happen, whats going to change.
And for the first time, he couldn't wait for it. He couldn't wait for things to change.
Jungkook baked you a small cake for your welcoming into his home- finally yours as well, as you hug Taehyung for the last time, the older friend waving before the door closes, Jungkooks arms instantly pulling your back into his chest. He leans his head down, kissing your shoulder, before he runs his sensitive lips over the so unbelievably soft fur of your ears. Three weeks had passed, yet to him it had felt like an entire year. Jungkook was sometimes impatient, and waiting had been pure torture for him. So now, as he was finally able to hold you again, he felt his entire stress vaporize into nothingness.
You giggled, before turning around, hugging him fully, and rubbing your face into his sweater, as if to get your scent onto him. Which was exactly your plan- after all, he was your human now, officially yours, so everyone should know that. The rumble in his chest that was his chuckle made you smile widely, grinning as you looked up at him, chin resting on his chest.
Oh may god have mercy on his soul!
He leaned downwards, finally capturing your lips with his, the first real long kiss to be shared between the two of you. Both of you melted into the sweet gesture, your ears falling down lazily as he showered you in affection; kisses to your nose, your cheeks, and your lips again. He continued until the corners of your eyes gathered tears from laughing so much.
This was how you were supposed to be. You were never supposed to cry because you were upset-
the only tears you should ever have to shed, should be tears of happiness.
(c) Bonny-Kookoo. Please do not translate, re-post or claim as your own. Thank you for reading- and please stay happy and healthy.
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who cares if it’s cliche?
-Aizawa x gn!reader-
This was a commission for @seraphicghost! They asked for a fluffy/sweet scenario with the reader confessing in the rain plus a kiss. Thank you so much for the commission! This was super cute to write!
“Here’s your beer, boys!” Nemuri set the bottles down for Hizashi and Aizawa. She scooted in beside you, chirping, “And here’s your Sex in the Driveway.”
“Thanks,” you droned, choosing to ignore her suggestive eyebrow wiggle. She wasn’t one to let anyone live anything down, and now that she noticed, it has only gotten worse.
Hizashi chugged his beer, then slammed it rather loudly. “Alright! Sho, I’ve shown up at work high, I’ve had a one-night stand with Nemuri, and I’ve never been on a rollercoaster.”
“What? How’d you figure that out so quickly?!”
“Hizashi,” both you and Aizawa said, telling him to control his volume. Aizawa finished flatly, “You can’t not talk about everything you do. You’d tell me something like that. Not to mention how useless you are high. The entire school would’ve noticed.”
You hid your smile behind your drink. The faint smirk that lifted Aizawa’s lips fluttered your chest, spinning into your stomach. If only he let himself smile more, experience happiness more, then you could see his handsome smile more. Dark eyes flicked to yours, flustering your heated heart further.
You had to look away and drink some water. You were an adult. He shouldn’t be making you flashback to high school crushes and wistful, young romance.
The game continued for a few more rounds, eventually petering out. Nemuri leaned against you. Alcohol swarmed from her sigh. Pink flushed her cheeks, sticking hair to skin. She mumbled into her glass before finishing it, “I think it’s time to head home.”
“I’ll get a ride.” You clicked on your phone, and it wasn’t long till it beeped: “Car’s here.”
Sooner than you could even move a leg, Hizashi jumped up, swooping an arm around Nemuri’s waist. “I’ll bring her home. You two have fun.”
“Hizashi,” you called after him. He didn’t acknowledge you as he escorted her outside.
They just abandoned you with Aizawa, who was already looking at you when you glanced over. You went to take a drink. The empty glass prevented that. Lemon slices and ice taunted you, laughing that your last barrier between you two was gone. You set the cup down with a sigh.
Shouta nodded at it, “Want another drink?”
You were once again beaten to your feet; He stood and took the glass. “Same thing?”
“Yeah, another Sex-” Your voice flatlined upon meeting his eyes. Despite the shadow under them, the red in them, and the heavy brow above, their sudden sharpness took your breath, completely unlike their usual dull and dry tone. The change nailed your brain useless.
“More sex?” His lips lifted ever so slightly. When no sound escaped your hanging mouth, he goaded, “More sex then.”
You slumped in the chair, holding your too-fast heart, replaying the bumbling. Saying ‘sex’ while being within two feet of his face, able to discern the bristles of his beard, a crack in his bottom lip, how attractive- Stop. If you couldn’t grow up and say something to him, then don’t bother thinking it.
A blue drink was placed in front of you. It was only your second, yet combined with the tickling in your neck and the bite in your chest, it felt like you were four or five in.
Shouta retook his seat across from you. Whatever you were feeling, anxiety or infatuation, that weighed your heart, lightened with his soft smile. It reached up to a soar when he asked about your most recent patrol.
Thankfully, the conversation from there flowed smoothly. You could keep up with no fumbling and simply enjoy your time with him. And you even got to see a couple more smiles, though they were faint. Every single one made thoughts echo inside: Just ask. It’s not that hard. Just ask! It made it difficult to focus on his words.
Once you finished your drink, your body, while light, lagged tired. You spoke through a yawn, “I’m gonna head out, Sho.”
“Need a cab?”
“No. I actually think I’m going to walk. It’s a pleasant night.” You stood and zipped up your sweatshirt.
He mirrored you and fixed his scarf. It wasn’t his Hero one, just a simple dark gray one, still allowing him ample room to nuzzle into it. Plus, it made him look reasonably fashionable compared to how he typically dressed. He grabbed your wallet from the table, holding it out for you, “I paid for the drink upfront.”
“Shouta, you didn’t need to do that.”
“No big deal,” he shrugged it off.
Yes, it was. If the others were here, you doubted- No. You knew he wouldn’t have done that.
You accepted your wallet and his kindness, muttering on the way out, “Thank you.”
The stroll home started quietly. Gusts blew your hood around. Shouta maneuvered to the outside of the sidewalk, so he was between you and traffic. Your elbows bumped every few steps. Neither of you commented or changed positions, letting it keep happening. If anything, you wanted to step closer to feel the emitting from his body.
Water dripped down the back of your sweatshirt, startling you. The single droplet increased to a steady rain in seconds. You hugged your hood and yourself. He nudged your arm and nodded to a nearby drugstore. It wasn’t much. But it was shelter.
Inside, Shouta slicked his hair back. Pale fingers combed through thick black, unveiling a sharp jaw and lovely scruff; too stunning to always hide under a mess of hair. The wet strands struggled to fit into an elastic. With enough finagling, they finally pulled into place, leaving room for the darkened line on his cheekbone to stick out. Just like his eyes did…
Which were staring at you. Dammit. You turned into an aisle, searching for anything interesting that wasn’t him. All it would take was a handful of sentences then he would know. If he reciprocated, all would be grand; your worry was for naught. However, if he didn’t, the plague of dread that’s accompanied the crush would crash. Never knowing felt like the better option.
You walked the main aisle. There were pool toys, makeup, hygiene, sex toys that you vehemently avoided, fearing Shouta would see the smallest glance towards them. A pair of fleece socks got your attention. The inside was incredibly fluffy and thick. The outside had kitty pawprints designed all over them.
“These are cute,” you smiled and showed them to the approaching Shouta.
He grunted and continued. It didn’t hide the fact you knew he thought them cute as well. Cats were the only things he gave into.
You combed the rest of the rows of items. Not one thing piqued your interest enough to buy. You searched for Shouta, finding him at the checkout, buying a pack of gum and some migraine relief pills. He lifted his brow.
You answered the silent question, “Didn’t see anything special.”
“Not even the cat socks?”
“If I’m still thinking about them in a few days, I’ll come back for them,” you smiled.
After thanking the cashier, your walk home resumed. The rain had stopped, leaving everything glossy and smelling of the earth. It lifted the air between yours and his shoulders.
Thick fingers extended a piece of gum. His eyes remained on the sidewalk when you took it and thanked him. The fresh mint sent a little chill down your back, frosting your mouth as you watched him, thinking, ‘Now was a perfect time. No one’s around. You just need to say it. A few sentences and you’re done.’
The instant your mouth opened, rain poured, loud and heavy. Your hood provided sparse protection.
Shouta grumbled into his scarf, “So much for a nice night.”
“Sorry… But you didn’t have to walk with me, you know? You could’ve called for a ride.”
His eyebrows scrunched with a groan.
“Here’s your turn, anyway. Get home fast,” you called over the pattering, nodding towards the left turnoff. The top of his apartment peaked out over the smaller buildings.
“It’s late. I’ll walk you home,” he grumbled again. His voice carried much less complaint this time and more concern.
Both of you picked up the pace, fast-walking down the sidewalks and hustling across the streets.
Only at your door did you face Shouta, not caring about being soaking wet anymore. He was closer than you expected, nearly bumping into his chest. You looked to his mouth, unable to make it to his eyes, unsure if you wanted to see them this close. You surprised yourself with how steady your voice sounded, “Do you want to come inside? Drink something warm?”
“I’m alright. Just wanted to make sure you got home alright.”
“I did. Thank you.” Your legs didn’t move. It’d be a whole lot warmer, calmer, dryer inside. “I know Hizashi drags you out to these things, but I still hope you had fun tonight.”
“I did.” His flat face gave you no emotional indicators.
“Good, I’m glad.” You said your goodbyes, yet your feet stayed put. Water soaked through all of your clothing. Goosebumps pricked down your arms. The rain vaguely obscured the handsome features you’ve been ogling at, wishing to call them yours.
He spun and took five steps away before you mustered, “Shouta?”
He faced you, waiting, half scowling, probably, hopefully, due to the rain.
“There’s something I’d like- There’s something I want- I want you to know. It’s okay if you don’t- If you’re not on the same page as me. I just- just…” Just say it. It was only a few words. You sucked in, preparing yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically for the absolute worst outcome, then spoke as confident as you could, “I just think you’re- I wanted to tell you that I’m-” Your heart heated as you finished, “I’m interested in you… more than a friend.”
The downpour built. You could no longer see his face. His mouth mumbled something. Unable to hear, you shuffled close, wiped water from your face, and asked him to repeat himself.
Shouta closed the tiny gap between your chests. You could only look at his mouth. This time though, you wanted to meet his eyes. It was the damn rain preventing that.
A finger lifted your chin. Instinct lowered your eyelids. The rain ceased on your face as lips connected to yours. They pressed unexpectedly sweetly, only to curl into a smirk and pull away.
You matched his smile, struggling to hold in the laugh, “A kiss in the rain, Shouta? Don’t you think it’s kinda cliche?”
“Who cares?” The hold on your chin tightened a bit and guided you back to him. All the anxiety bubbled up, popping and releasing as a giggle. Weight freed from your shoulders. You cupped his cheeks, kissing back with new excitement.
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follow me home (to where the lonely ones roam.)
It was 1am when I started this, and I'm literally the (jolts up in bed at crack of dawn to write plotbunny fic) Meme lmao. Literally came to me in a dream. Finished this up after going back to sleep.
🍓 Crossover-AU: Demon Slayer!MC getting killed sometime during the final battle with Muzan and the Demon Moons, and turning up alive and (mostly unscathed) in NRC.
I woke up halfway, so I only had some teachers + Heartslabyul for this one ahahaha!
🍓CW + TW: Canon-typical violence, mentions of death.
They wake up when a weird cat suddenly shakes them awake, but unlike the usual, Slayer!MC isn't soft. They kick Grimm away, leaping out of the coffin with agile grace and reaction time that would make Rook Hunt swoon. When Crowley arrives, everything's in chaos, because "Who IN THE HELL is this feral sword-toting gremlin in my established educational institution?"
Slayer!MC on the other hand is a whole bag of confused because they were pretty sure they just got minced in an all-out war with their sworn enemies. The standard Kocho-Nichirin hangs from their waist, with another Nichirin blade in their hand, half-broken and splashed with unmentionables, makes for an intimidating image.
Slayer!MC is more or less a seasoned warrior with terrifying fighting skills, the likes of which haven't been seen since the wars in Lilia's heyday. Instead of disturbing the ceremony, a much less silent affair ensues, where Slayer!MC literally recounts the last few minutes of their life, the war, and their (scarily impressive) sword skills.
The raven college teachers are more or less interested in this secret war, in a world where magic doesn't exist and most creatures like mermaids and werewolves are legendary and mythological figments of imagination. Crowley being Crowley doesn't really show much care, but rather, leaves it to Crewel to manage. Crowley honestly doesn't understand why you would want to return to such a war-torn world either.
Crewel is more or less understanding; assuming that you may have had some friends or family left in your world. Tying into the personal headcanon that while Crowley funds the prefect's basic needs (i.e. shelter, food, and necessities), Crewel actively goes out of his way to aid the Prefect in restoring Ramshackle to a more presentable state, along with Trein's help.
In this case, Crewel is absolutely gleeful when Slayer!MC cracks open the Kochou-Nichirin scabbard and gives Crewel some unbroken vials of the demon-slaying poison.
Slayer!MC: Today is a day of running through hurdles.
Crowley: Aren’t you supposed to jump OVER hurdles?
Slayer!MC: Whatever. Fear is only something to be afraid of if you let it scare you.
Crewel: You know, not every problem can be solved with a sword.
Slayer!MC, smugly: That's why I carry two swords.
Events come and go as usual, and MC is later made Ramshackle Prefect and half of a whole student with Grimm, who is less haughty than in canon, having borne witness (and unfortunate victim) to MC's physical capabilities. He slowly warms up to the MC and is more or less curious about their home. Grimm doesn't show that he cares much, but he grows to dislike it when the Prefect zones out when looking at their scarred, calloused hands as if they were looking at some ghosts that weren't even friendly enough to be remembered.
( When that happens, Grimm obnoxiously begins asking for pets. He purrs when the Prefect snaps out of that trance and laughs obligingly.)
Ace starts out the prick that he is, and immediately switches gears when Slayer!MC shows him two swords and a good fight. He likes the Kocho-Nichirin and often pretends to swing it around alone, to his eternal embarrassment. Ace also likes watching when MC goes through all the kata and Breathing Forms, and deep, deep, inside, Ace smugly thinks that Royal Sword Academy didn't have anything on the Prefect in swordplay. He clumsily tries to mimic the Kata in the privacy of his dorm room.
(Slayer!MC knows how Ace snoops around to look and play with the Kocho-Nichirin, but they keep it a secret. A Demon Slayer's footwork is nothing to scoff at, after all. The fact that Ace was observant enough to clumsily mimic some of them stirs some glee in their chest.)
Deuce really, really, wants to learn the way Slayer!MC does self-defense. It's just so...graceful. Not unlike the street throwdowns that he's seen, but measured movements with no wasted motions. Deuce likes hearing things about the battles and oddities that Slayer!MC has encountered. He glows with childish excitement when he hears about the Pillars; the strongest demon slayers, and how the stories and legends of the Pillars and Muzan's origin had begun.
(In particular, Deuce gets goosebumps when MC tells him the story of the Marked Slayers, most prominently the Sun Breathing Slayer: to be so unmatched and powerful, and to be the pinnacle of such graceful swordsmanship--it simply awes the child in him. )
Slayer MC: Here’s a fun Christmas idea. We hang mistletoe, but instead of kissing, you have to FIGHT whoever else is under it.
Ace: Slayer MC no.
Ace: Please stop encouraging them
Cater is more or less intrigued at first. It's a familiar thing: he finds something interesting, and then slowly loses interest in the passing of time, in a good way. The swordsmanship and the Slayer Corps Uniform along with the haori Slayer!MC wears are quite aesthetically pleasing to him, and the swords are absolutely beautiful. Cater's inner issues are more or less obvious to anyone who bothers to look at his tells, or with heightened senses. Slayer!MC is noticeably more toned down around Cater, who also does the same, with his flamboyant persona. Slayer!MC and Cater are unusually quiet together in a comfortable way. They talk about fashion and politics, and about traveling. While there are some comedic moments between them, most people notice how at peace the two seem to be when they're together.
(Cater doesn't hold much fondness for traveling around, due to the nature of his Father's work and how it has molded him. But sometimes, listening to the Prefect tell stories about misty forests and high pine trees makes him feel like he could inhale cold mist from around it. Red-light districts which were labyrinthine mazes, old temples with eerie rumors, a golden ginko forest in autumn, and the crash of blue waves along steep cliffs. Cater somehow feels so vividly present when the Prefect describes the sights and things they've seen, and it makes Cater dream peacefully of traveling in some remote place as an adult.)
Slayer MC: *Kicks the door down looking panicked*
Cater: What did you do?
Slayer MC: Nobody died.
Cater: WHAT KIND OF ANSWER IS THAT?!
Trey has siblings, and to be perfectly blunt, the Prefect concerns him: young, war-hardened, and terrifyingly skilled in battle. No magic did not erase his concerns: sometimes, Magic wasn't needed to hurt. Ace and Deuce sing praises for the Prefect, with a dash of ribbing, but that was fine. It was good that Cater could be more of himself around the Prefect too. But Trey also looks out for the Prefect in tandem with Grimm: the beast cat often offhandedly mentions moments where the Slayer had night terrors of comrades mercilessly slaughtered, of zoning out and staring at a thousand yards for minutes, of being afraid to sleep without a sword. Trey noticeably tries not to approach the Prefect from behind, and if he does, he calls out to them first. He often mother-hens Slayer!MC, but it's born out of worry. There's something unsettlingly sad about seeing an actual child soldier tumble into a relatively peaceful world like Twisted-Wonderland.
(After Riddle is saved from Overblotting, Trey is bodily dragged by Ace and Deuce into a corner, and for all his pranks and mischief, Trey's chest squeezes, and his elder brother instincts shove his sadism, pranks, and other miscellaneous thoughts when he sees the Prefect curled into a ball, their knuckles pale around the sheathed blade with the butterfly-shaped guard.
Trey skids to a halt beside the prefect, and (oh Great Seven, they're not breathing), he meets their eyes, and "Breathe. Slooowly, in. Out." Grimm and Ace are very helpfully uncurling the hand around the sword, and Deuce grimaces when he sees palms with skin split open by nails. Ace hovers nearby, unsure what to do.
The Prefect attempts to breathe, following the rhythm of Trey's gentle patting. "Yes, yes, that's it," Trey puts on his kindest face, and smiles. "Can you...oh, tell me five things that you can see, hmm?")
Trey: Okay, truth or dare?
Slayer MC: Truth
Trey: How many hours have you slept this week?
Slayer MC: ...Dare
Trey: Go to bed.
Slayer MC: I don’t like this game.
Riddle and Demon Slayer!MC are more or less the straight man-comic relief duo. Riddle is between exasperated and later fondly respectful of the Ramshackle Prefect, who is around the same age, yet is so resilient. Riddle ropes MC into teatime and tea parties. He also teaches them to play croquet. Sometimes, when Slayer MC seems more quiet than usual, they both just bask in the roses and animals in the garden. Sometimes, Riddle listens to Slayer!MC when they tell old folk tales and legends from their world and even sing the occasional folk songs, such as Sakura, Sakura. Riddle also finds himself humming the tune to Soran Bushi once in a while, especially when he's happily relaxed during work.
(Riddle basks in the silence of the Rose Garden, and he sets down his teacup with a clink. The Prefect is silent, seemingly contemplating something. Riddle doesn't mind. He lets the cool breeze sway his hair, carrying the scent of grass and roses over the garden.
"...One of our Pillars once treated me to black tea."
Riddle tenses, grey eyes gleaming with curiosity. The Prefect only ever spoke about her comrades in quick thoughts and whispers, only to Grimm or Professor Crewel, when they had panic attacks in hallways. Trey and the ADeuce duo hears the occasional name during vivid flashbacks, tearful apologies to "Kochou-sama," and "Kanao" along with garbled, tangled words that sounded like 'R'goku--sorr-y, so--'
"Oh? Do you enjoy it?" Riddle replies softly. "If so, I shall give you a box as a housewarming present."
You smile crookedly. "Thank you, Riddle-san. That would be nice." a pause. "The person who...gave us black tea--heaped with honey, now that I remember it--she was a Pillar." You smile. "Her name was Kanroji Mitsuri, the Pillar of Love."
Riddle feels himself smile as he watches you stare at the amber liquid, the sunlight reflecting it in your eyes, tinting it gold. He sips his tea. Today too, was a good day.)
Riddle, watching the news: Someone tried to fight a squid at the aquarium today!
Slayer MC: *walks in covered with ink* Well, maybe the squid was being a dick.
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Top 5 Ladies of Berserk ?
yoooo i’m here for questions like this. Gotta warn you though, I’m not the very good at going into depth about these things, but I’mma try
Honestly she’s terrible, but we stan lol. But seriously, I find her absolutely fascinating and I really wish we could have learned who she was before she ascended, what actually made her activate her Crimson Behelit, and who did she sacrifice. Really I think I’m just fascinated by the mystery surrounding her.
Such a wonderful lil bean :’). I’ve always adored child characters who are wise beyond their years and Schierke is definitely one of my favorites. I mean, we’re talking about a 12-13 year old girl who ADULTS look to for assistance when it comes to learning magic or staying sane, here. That to me speaks volumes of her strength. What I love most about her, though, is her dynamic with Guts. It’s so sweet how, aside from Casca, she’s the only other person he’s ever been completely open with and the fact that he trusts and believes in her so much is just so amazing to me. Plus her and Isidro’s antics never cease to make me laugh.
She’s just a ray of sunshine in such a dark setting ☺️. I admire that despite living in such a bleak world and being in a hellish situation, she still remains, kind, selfless, and brave. And the unconditional, motherly love she has for her girls is just so heartwarming. I’ll be honest, I was pretty bummed when she didn’t join Guts’ party, but she had to look out for her girls so I get it.
Ngl she got on my nerves at first, but I also found myself intrigued by her and the more I read, the more I ended up empathizing with her and liking her.
For all intents and purposes, she should have become a terrible person, hell she almost did. Though I will say that’s pretty understandable, given how she was raised. Growing up neglected, sheltered and lonely can be really damaging to a person’s psyche. And the fact that she only got positive attention by hurting others did NOT help her mental instability. But when she joined Guts’ party, became Casca’s caretaker, and became Schierke’s student, I saw a side of her that I never would have expected to see in a character like her. It turns out her sadism hid kindness and compassion and selflessness. She just needed an opportunity to let that side of her shine through. I especially love her relationship with Casca and how she went from being a protector to a close female friend for Casca to rely on (which is something Casca really needs atm).
Also, I thought it was cool how Miura wrote Farnese using her penchant for bondage and sadomasochism to do good after her characterization (i.e. the thorn snakes). She’s actually the first instance I’ve seen of BDSM being portrayed in a positive way with a story like this, so that was pretty refreshing.
Words just cannot express how much I love this woman. But I’ll do my best.
Everything about her is just so amazing and she’s probably one of the STRONGEST female characters I know. I mean, this girl kept the Band of the Hawk together and lead them for a whole ass YEAR in Griffith’s place and when the Eclipse went down, she maintained a level head and managed to calm everyone down before everything went to shit. That honestly says a lot about her strength and leadership prowess.
That’s not to say that she always has it together. She can be hot-tempered at times but even then, she still has good judgement. She’s also emotional, and tends to cry a lot, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, the fact that she wears her heart on her sleeve is just another thing that I admire about her. Her vulnerability only ADDS to her strength and imo makes her that much more relatable, because it underlines that while she is a gifted sword fighter, soldier, and commander, she’s still a human not a machine or weapon. And Casca realizing this, learning to find value within herself and learning to consider what SHE wants out of life rather than letting her value be dictated by her usefulness to someone else is something I love so much about her. And you probably have seen this a lot across tumblr, but I love, love, LOVE that she’s a WOC. I mean, how many instances are there of a leading lady in a dark medieval fantasy being POC, especially during the ‘90s?
My only complaint about her was that it took so long for her to come back to us. I don’t mind that Miura decided to have her dissociate after the Eclipse (in a few ways it makes sense given all that she witnessed and what she had to endure at the hands of Griffith and the apostles), but I wish it didn’t take 20 irl years for her to regain her sanity. Tbh, I think it would have been better if she began to gradually come back to herself or learned to cope with her trauma over the course of her and Guts’ journey, but it is what it is, and I’m just glad she’s back.
I just love her sooo much, holy shit 😩.
(btw, sorry it took so long for me to answer, I’m not used to people asking me stuff like this and I wanted to answer it the best that I could)
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Lightning Scars and Listening Ears
Phic phight prompt by @datawyrms : Danny Phantom's jumpsuit is hiding a secret he'd rather not reveal to anyone. (feel free to be metaphorical if you want.) l
Team Human: @currentlylurking
Most citizens of Amity Park often forgot that Phantom wasn’t human. Sure he would fly through the skies, turn invisible, and shoot ectoplasm at the ghosts who would attack the city on a daily basis, but the way he acted when not saving the city always seemed so alive. That’s where the problem lied though. The ghost kid wasn’t alive, a fact that Amity Park never actually thought much about.
Phantom was playing around with some kids in the park when it all happened. It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence to see the boy play with the younger citizens of the city, under their parents supervision most of the time. Seeing him give them piggyback rides and playing tag was actually a common sight when there were no ghosts to fight. Phantom had six different kids hanging off of his arms and legs, apparently trying to tackle him and get him to fall down. The group of parents laughed at the sight as the teenage hero fell to the ground admitting his defeat in a dramatic flourish.
“Ahh you got me! Foul villains, you will regret this!” He laughed as he lunged at the closest kid and launched a tickle attack. Childish squeels rang out as the uncaptured children ran trying to avoid being tickled. The little girl in his arms was finally released from her attacker when she turned on Phantom and started to tickle him back. His laughter attracted the other kids who scattered and they joined the counter attack.
“I yield I yield!” He flailed his arms as a dozen little hands tickled any spot they could reach. The kids slowly let up their assault leaving the teen gasping for breath.
One of the children, the girl who started the attack on Phantom, pulled on his arm. “Mr. Phantom? What’s that did you get a owie?” She asked pointing to his neck where part of his jumpsuit wrinkled down revealing a few red raised streaks maring his skin.
Phantom froze eyes jumping over to the adults just a few feet over who had stopped their conversation to try to see what the young girl was asking about. He quickly pulled the collar of his suit back into place. He gave the girl and the other kids surrounding him a pained smile. “Yeah I did get an owie. Don’t worry though I’m fine, doesn’t even hurt anymore.” Suddenly blue frost escaped his lips, the adults sitting nearby never saw him more relieved to have a ghost show up than in that moment. He gave quick goodbyes to the kids before shooting off to find the day's threat to the city.
All the adults gathered waved over their respective kids. While they trusted Phantom to get rid of the threat it was always smart to stay inside during a ghost attack. A loud boom sounded in the direction where Phantom flew off, shaking the ground. They all gave each other uncertain looks. “My house is closest we can take shelter there.” One of the men said leading everyone away.
After a block of running the group was almost to shelter when the ghost fight moved over their heads. The adults grabbed onto the children doing their best to shield them from the flying debris. They held the kids against their chests as they watched the sky in horror. They didn’t recognize the attacking ghost, but it was certainly doing a number on Phantom. The rest of the battle lasted at most a minute when Phantom managed to suck up the ghost into his thermos before he seemed to wobble in the sky and falling to the ground creating a small crater where he landed.
The man who was leading the group passed off the kid he was holding to the man next to him. “David what are you-?”
“Brian just hold her.” He ran over to the fallen teen and picked him up in a fireman's carry and rushed the rest of the way to his house.
Once he arrived he kicked open the door and placed the teen onto the couch in his living room. He looked down trying to assess the situation. Phantom’s jumpsuit was torn in numerous places exposing spots of his arms, neck, and chest that had splatterings of green ectoplasm across the exposed flesh. He started taking the rest of the jumpsuit off of the teen wanting to make sure there were no hidden injuries underneath. Behind him he could hear his husband and the other parents come through the door. “Get me a wet rag and some warm water!” He yelled behind him.
Once he was handed the items he started working on cleaning up the cuts and wiping off the ectoplasm. He silently thanked any higher being out there that he took a first aid class a few years back. The wounds actually seemed less severe than what David initially thought, that or the kid had some seriously advanced healing. One of the parents led the kids upstairs while the rest of them crowded around David and Phantom.
Once Phantom was as patched up as he could be David finally sat back and actually took a full look at the boy. His breath caught in his throat as he examined the body infront of him. In the end all he could get out was.“Oh my god. He’s- he’s dead.”
“What the hell do you mean? Of course he’s not, I can clearly see him breathing right now.” One of the parents protested.
David shook his head. “No.” He went to run his hands down his face before spotting the blood- no the ectoplasm covering them and settled for grabbing onto his husband for support. “No, I mean he’s a ghost.”
“Well yeah he’s a ghost it’s not like that’s news now is it?” Brian said running his hand up and down his husband's back.
“You guys don’t get it.” David pulled back. “Think! Look!” He ran his hand through his hair, staining it green. “Look at him.” He pointed at the teen’s unconscious body.
There were lightning shaped scars running all over the boy’s body, from the base of his neck trailing all the way down to his ankles. Those weren’t the only scars marring his body though, small scars were scattered all over his body, there was a rather large one on his abdomen in the same spot where he was hit the other week fighting off a ghost who was attacking the high school. The gathered adults looked back at Phantom’s face. As he slept he almost looked like a normal teenager, there were small bags under his eyes, his closed eyes hid the toxic green color, and the glow surrounding him was almost nonexistent.
Three things seemed to dawn on the parents all at once.
1: Phantom at some point had died
2: He died young, at most he was just out of middle school when it happened.
3: From the looks of it he didn’t die in his sleep but painfully. They all silently hoped that at least it wasn’t drawn out.
As they all looked at each other they couldn’t help but think of their own children who were just upstairs. Did Phantom have a family? Did his parents miss their little boy? Do they know that Phantom was their son? Even worse, the boy had a jumpsuit on when he died, was his parents the cause of his premature death?
Of course if Phantom was conscious, didn’t have to worry about the whole identity thing, and could read their minds the boy would quickly put their minds to rest responding; yes, no he sees them daily, god no, and sorta it really was more of a case of teenage stupidity than his parents fault though.
Two of those issues though were quickly resolved as two white rings shocked the group out of their grief for a boy they hardly knew. The rings traveled across the boy’s body replacing bare skin with street clothes and white hair with black. Everyone looked at Phantom(?) confused, the boy in front of them was very unghost-like and the scratch on his face that was previously bleeding green now had a red where the scab was forming.
“What the fu- wait isn’t that the Fenton kid, Danny I think?” David asked looking back at the other parents who were in the same amount of shock that he was. Actually he was positive it was him, his older sister Jazz used to babysit their daughter and he would sometimes come along.
If someone was going to respond they were cut off as the boy in front of them started to stir and open his eyes. He sat up almost falling off the couch in his panic, thankfully David was quick enough to catch him. “Woah there Danny, be careful you took a pretty bad beating out there. Hell I’m surprised you’re already awake to be honest kid.”
Danny gave him a thankful smile as he steadied himself. He froze once he caught a glimpse of his hair, his eyes shot down to his clothes. He looked back up and noticed the group of adults in front of him. “Now before you jump to any conclusions there’s a very reasonable explanation for this, or there will be just give me a few minutes.”
“Wait so does this mean you’re not dead?” Brian asked.
“Brian you can’t just ask that! What if it’s a sensitive subject?” David scolded his husband then looked over at Danny. “Sorry about him.”
Danny looked over to the men who for some reason had hope in their eyes. “What? It’s fine. I mean I guess no- well yes- no- sorta- it’s complicated.”
As Danny looked at the numerous questioning eyes he sighed. It’s not like he could convince them that it was a trick of the light or something. And he did owe them since they patched him up better than he would have been able to at home in his bedroom. But before he could start he turned to David. “I’ll tell you guys everything but first um… is that my ectoplasm in your hair and on your hands? Because if so you probably should wash that off, prolonged exposure isn’t harmful per say but you could start to glow or something if you don’t wash it off soon.”
David looked down to his hands, apparently just now remembering he was still covered in the boy’s ectoplasm and rushed to the bathroom to wash it off. He’d worry about why the sight of his own blood- ectoplasm didn’t phase Danny at all later.
Once David returned, now free of ectoplasm, Danny sat down and started from the beginning. At one point in the story he must have started to cry because he was handed a tissue box, which he accepted with a thanks. By the end he wasn’t the only one with tears in his eyes, one of the adults had to go into the kitchen to compose themselves. Danny didn’t really understand why though, sure he sort of half died, but he didn’t see why it would affect any of them. “Hey! It’s fine, I’m fine it’s not a big deal! I mean it’s not like it only happened to me. Vlad went through it too like 20 years ago.” Danny seized up after he said that. “Don’t tell him you know about him though! Me not telling anyone about him is the only reason he’s not trying to fully kill me when we fight. That and he has a weird obsession with my mom and me.”
David paused at that. “So you’re telling us that not only did you go through a highly traumatic situation at a young age, but the only adult that even knows about it has tried to kill you multiple times?”
“I mean I guess but Jazz, my sister, knows about it too and she’s older than me and my friends.”
“Danny she’s also still a kid, an older one sure, but she is not an adult. Even if you didn’t go to your parents, was there no one else you could have talked to about it with? A therapist maybe?” David asked.
Danny laughed. “Ah no, Jazz tried having me go to the school therapist but she turned out to be a ghost who wanted to try to cause as much pain as possible. She even almost killed Jazz in front of the whole school.”
“Dear god.” David sighed. “All right, we will all keep your secret on one condition.” Danny cringed and looked down at his lap, of course there was a catch. He just hoped it wasn’t anything too bad like letting them run a bunch of experiments on him whenever they wanted to. His ghost injuries were bad enough to hide from others, he didn’t need to have to explain away needle marks or something. “You’ll see Brian once a week for therapy sessions. He’s a licensed psychiatrist.”
“Wait what?” Danny looked up confused.
“Oh don’t worry I won’t charge you of course since we are forcing you to do this, and obviously you can choose the day of the week. I usually don't work fridays or the weekends but if those are the only days that work I’m sure we can rearrange some of our family time to make room for you.” Brian smiled. “Now it’s getting pretty late isn’t it? I’m sure it’s about time everyone here starts to head home now hmm? Of course if you aren’t feeling well enough Danny I can call your parent’s up and just let them know you’ll be staying here. I’ll just tell them you were injured in a ghost fight, not exactly lying now is it?”
“Um no I’m fine enough to walk home thank you though.” Danny said. Everyone started saying their goodbyes and calling the children down to get them ready to leave. Danny was the last one left, he was almost out the door when he was stopped by David handing him a piece of paper.
“Here are our numbers, I also wrote down where Brian’s office is, you can set up your appointment over text. As well as our address, you can stop by or call us for any reason Danny and I mean it okay, any.”
Danny looked down at the paper and pocketed it with a nod. As he left he felt almost lighter for some reason. Maybe having adults who knew and didn’t want to kill him but actually wanted to help him wasn’t so bad after all.
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Promises - Rafe Cameron
Request: Can you do one where Rafe asked reader to marry him when they were like toddlers. Reader said maybe when we’re older and at 16 he asks again with a ring and they say yes, but they’re not dating or anything.
A/N: I changed the ages a little bit but hopefully its good lol.
Outer Banks Masterlist
✰ ✰ ✰ ✰
Not a lot of people took Rafe seriously, his dad always treated everything like it must’ve been some massive joke that highlighted how ungrateful and disrespectful his son was, Sarah rarely spent enough time with him to actually care what he was doing, and his friends dismissed most of what he said. Not a lot of people took Rafe seriously but when he said something he meant it. Not exactly a concept that you could fully understand as a kid butt definitely one that you recognized as an adult. Or almost adult.
You had known Rafe since you were kids, since before his mom died. She’d been childhood friends with your mom and somehow that translated into the need for their kids to get along. It was fortunate for them that you did because even as a kid Rafe was bossy and disagreeable. He’d be pushing you on a swing only to knock you off in the next instance. Not the kind of kid who made friends easily (that would come later when people cared about money and looks more than personality). For that moment in time though, Rafe had you and you were obsessed with one thing.
Your dad had been married before and his oldest was nearing 24, practically 20 years older than you, when you were given the opportunity to be a flower girl in her wedding. The whole thing felt like some magical event, with big dresses and jewelry and you were a little more enamored by it than anything else in your life. It had caught all your attention and, for the weeks following, it was all you wanted to play.
“We can play werewolves after we get married,” you reasoned, standing on the swing in the Cameron’s backyard, hands gripping the chains as Rafe pushed you. There was a 50/50 chance you would get hurt, like the time two years ago that he told you to try climbing up the fence and you broke your arm, but you placated him because you always had and because his mom had died and his dad was already getting married again. You were both six and Rafe’s half-sister was seven months from being born.
“I hate playing wedding, you know it.”
“Fine, we skip wedding. We just be married.” You reasoned, gripping the chain tighter when he shook the swing, “stop it, Rafe!”
“Fine, we’ll get married.” He huffed, “marrying is stupid.”
“No it isn’t...when you love someone you get married.” The understanding was simple because you were six and had lived a relatively sheltered life, even with the death of Rafe’s mom.
“We aren’t married.”
“We will be, if we play wedding!” You hopped off the swing in a tumble, laying on the grass.
Rafe stayed where he was, contemplating more than his six-year-old self could comprehend. “I’m gonna marry you for real one day. Then we don’t have to play wedding anymore.”
At the time, the only thing on your mind was Rafe and playing together and you barely registered the words. You definitely didn’t take him seriously.
The years that followed strained your relationship. Second grade was far from kind to Rafe and after an outburst with a teacher during class, Ward sent him to school on the mainland. They spun a story of wanting a better education, as if the island’s private school somehow wasn’t good enough for Rafe but was perfectly acceptable for Sarah and eventually Wheezie. No one believed the story but they all played along.
It was your own stubbornness that kept you coming back to him, relentless in your efforts to keep your best friend just that. He resisted, more as the two of you got older and he got different friends, more reckless ones, but you kept the line open and there were plenty of nights that he showed up at your bedroom window needing to be talked off that ledge.
When you were both 19, you in your sophomore year at Berkeley and him still home, playing up the unreformed partier, Ward announced that the playset in the backyard would be removed from the Cameron property.
“I wore black, seeing as this is a funeral.” You called, crossing the backyard and thinking that Rafe looked somewhat comical sitting in the only swing left of the pair, far too big for a play set that was meant for little kids.
“You look more like some Hallmark ‘staying with my estranged dad for the summer’ goth kid pre-makeover.” He replied, reaching a hand out and tugging a loose string on your black denim jeans.
“The fact that you’ve seen a Hallmark movie-”
“You’ve made me watch enough Christmas ones to rot my brain.” He pointed out.
“Well, as it turns out, the Cali beach vibe is less black and more boho.” You joked, “my closet looks like I stole it from Alexis Rose.”
“Thanks for coming.” He felt stupid for calling you. He hadn’t talked to you since the summer and that was just an awkward run in at the gym. But it felt like someone was ripping away a piece of him by removing the swing set, he was losing another part of his connection to you. Rafe knew you were home for Thanksgiving so he called and hoped for the best and here you were in his backyard, sitting cross-legged at the bottom of the slide.
“I can’t believe your dad is having this removed. I mean, none of us can use it and the fact it’s still standing is amazing but getting rid of it just to put up another of Rose’s dumb sculptures...ugh.” You laid against the slide, the bright yellow plastic feeling a little like it was burning your shoulders, even in November. The only black shirt you’d packed was a spaghetti strap tank top. A little too cold for the weather until you were in the sun, but your sweatshirt was tucked in your backpack.
“How are you not freezing?” Rafe asked the same question you’d been contemplating a minute earlier.
“I am, a little bit...the roasting plastic behind me is helping. How is this slide always warm?” You asked.
You stuck your tongue out at him before tilting your head to look up the length of the slide, “when we were younger, I always wanted to get married in your backyard.”
“Why?” He pulled himself out of the swing, tugging at the sides of his jeans and his sweatshirt to fix them.
You shrugged, “I don’t know...it overlooks the bay and it’s got that old southern home feel that’s both really pretty architecturally and mildly troubling in a historical sense.”
He hummed, “that’s how I picked wedding venues as a kid too.”
“Shut up,” you unfolded one leg and tried to kick him, “I think I honestly thought, I mean, we played wedding enough, that maybe we really would get married someday.”
“I could see it.”
“You could see us married someday?” You asked, sitting all the way up and reaching for your sweatshirt. You put your arms in but didn’t pull it over your head, wearing it upside down.
He nodded. No one ever took Rafe seriously when he voiced an opinion or shared his emotions but you usually did.
“Okay, well, I expect a ring. And you to be sober like...95 percent of the time.” You replied, “just cause I’m 3000 miles away-”
You bit your bottom lip to stop yourself from smiling, “I still hear things.”
“Yeah well, Sarah’s got a biased opinion.”
“I thought you wanted to marry me?” You teased, “you’ve heard my terms.”
“Unless you wanna chain yourself to the slide, you want to get something to eat?” He offered, hoping to prolong the time you were willing to spend with him.
Time elapsed between the two of you again, the talk of marriage feeling like a well-orchestrated dream instead of a memory. You settled more into Berkeley life, finding an apartment and a part time job to balance with school in your junior year. You heard from Rafe sporadically, on birthdays or holidays or whenever something reminded you of each other.
You mulled over inviting him to your graduation for a few days before finally texting him about it, telling him to come out early, that maybe the two of you could go to the beach on the west coast together. Sometimes you felt like a different person when you were away from the Outer Banks, but when Rafe was there, walking along the sidewalk at the edge of the beach with you, it was like you got to be that kid again. That slightly too sure of herself girl that was best friends with a kid no one wanted to be best friends with. He was different now too but together, far away from prying eyes, you could be yourselves.
“Campus isn’t far from here,” you mentioned, as you walked along beside Rafe. You’d driven from the airport to your apartment to drop his bag off and now you were just walking around, chatting about favorite places and impending graduation.
“What are you gonna do once you graduate? Anything set up?” Rafe asked.
“I got an internship at a newspaper in D.C. that starts in a month.” You replied, “I’m really excited for it but...kinda freaked too.” You admitted. Berkeley had been scary but you had flourished and you knew you would be okay in D.C., even if you wished you weren’t going to be there alone.
“Why’re you freaked?” He asked, “you’ll kill it.”
“What would I do without your confidence in me?” You joked, “wish I could take you to D.C. with me.”
“What?” You asked, stopping on the sidewalk and turning to look at him.
Rafe pulled a small box out of his pocket and held it out to you, “I try to keep good on all my promises.”
“Shut up,” you laughed, more out of nervousness than anything else as you took the box from him and opened it, the diamond ring inside just like he’d sworn he would give you. “Rafe.”
“You don’t have to say yes, but I wasn’t joking, when I said I wanted to marry you. I know we’ve never even dated but...you’re my best friend, I love you.”
You nodded your head slowly, trying to comprehend what Rafe had just said to you. When you were younger, playing in the yard together, you had certainly considered the possibility of marrying your best friend someday. But you had been kids back then, unaware of all the things that would pull you apart. You knew also, that when he had asked you in his backyard on the demolition day of the swing set, you had honestly considered it. The suggestion had settled in your heart and you’d been hard pressed to get rid of it.
“I think we need to hit a few milestones before we get married...but I could see it.” You replied.
“Yeah? That a yes?”
“Yes Rafe, it’s a yes...it’s a yes.” You laughed, “but maybe ease my family into the idea that I’m moving back to the east coast and we’re gonna be married someday.”
Rafe laughed, “They’ll come around.”
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