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#dads get railed hours
touchmycoat · 2 months ago
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like, do i want to see the proud young upstart run his mouth and get accidentally triggered by the unassuming yet secretly super experienced older bodyguard, throw a fit and quit his job, come scampering back under some guise of “I’m gonna figure out your secret and expose you and then we’ll see who’s boss hahaha,” scrutinize the older man’s every action for “research,” pretend like he totally doesn’t care and is absolutely above it all (but buys the older man strawberries, ‘cause he just happened to have extras, whatever), get told he obviously has incredible amounts of faith and respect for the older man, get told the older man respects him back, obsess after the older man suddenly quitting their brand new post-merger company, risk his entire career to seek out the older man and aggressively help the older man out all while rolling his eyes and telling the older man’s son that “this is all very hard to explain okay, stfu,” yell out Shimazaki Akira’s full name in a fit of desperation when he can’t find him on the job, save the older man’s life in a deeply emotional montage of team work and eye contact, and then end the start of season 2 by breaking up with his girlfriend explicitly for the sake of following Shimazaki into a life of risk?????????
yeah. the answer is yeah, i do.
in other news the best part of season 1′s b-cast was Suganuma + Takanashi’s wlw/mlm solidarity what the fuck happened to that Suganuma hates men that was canon don’t do her like this she would never date a fucko like Takanashi fuck off
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slimewrites · 17 hours ago
DILFZA HOURS HELL YES ITS MY TIME TO SHINE.
alrighty, you’re a milf/dilf. congrats. ya did it. and phil? he’s,, intrigued to say the least-
of course, he was enamoured before, but the appeal of your newly milf/dilf self? h o t . hot as fuck. fucking him when the kids arent home? sexy as hell. fucking his when the kids are home? PHEW. the need to stay quiet and the way you just swat at his thigh when he lets out a noise is just so sexy to him omg- the adrenaline and the risk of one of the kids walking in- ESPECIALLY if the kids dont know you’re together? MMMMMMM.
or another favourite of mine- you’re wilburs best friend. maybe a year or two older than him. thing is though, uhhhh youre fucking his dad. and wilbur doesnt know and you keep having to hide it, having near misses- like when wilbur came over while you were fucking phil stupid at your place, or when you heard wilbur get up from his sleep for a glass of water as you slowly continued to fuck phil in his room, phil biting his hand to keep quiet until wilbur goes to bed again. oh my god- can you imagine that? you’re just railing phil while he’s on his back, maybe jerking him off too and then you hear wilbur’s door creak open and footsteps down the hall. phil was already trying to be quiet considering it’s like,, 2 AM and they didnt want to wake wilbur but now wilbur’s up and he’s walking down the hall and sure, your thrusts have slowed, as has your hand on his dick, but they havent stopped. so phil’s just gripping onto your wrist with one hand as you work his cock, and using the other to bite and silence himself.
p h e w .
-🌒
I can’t even add to this, is too good 🥵 another masterpiece by our local moon dom anon 😩
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morganaspendragonss · a day ago
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our steady true north fades
for @911lonestarweek day 3: found family/“We’ve got your back, no matter what”/hurt/comfort
some parts are inspired by this promo
Judd will never forget the first time he laid eyes on Grace. 
She'd been so alive that night, her face lit up with joy as they'd danced and laughed and talked. She couldn’t look more different now, unnaturally still on the hospital bed with too many machines doing the work her body can’t. Judd's legs tremble as he clutches onto the railings of her bed, silent tears slipping down his cheeks. He wants, desperately, to touch her, but he keeps his hands resolutely to himself - Grace is so fragile right now, and Judd… 
Well, Judd is known for breaking fragile things. 
*
judd struggles in the wake of the accident, but, luckily, he has a whole team around to support him.
ao3 | 1.5k | grace/judd
Judd wakes up to a pounding headache and no Grace at his side.
To say that he panics is an understatement; the last thing he remembers, they were driving down the highway on their way to see his dad, and now he’s alone, apparently in a hospital, with machines going off all around him. He tries to struggle upright, only to be met with resistance in the form of hands on his shoulders. Judd wants to fight them, but too quickly his body gives out as he heaves for air.
The darkness on the edges of his vision comes for him once more, and Judd slips back into sleep, the only thought on his mind, Grace.
*
It’s calmer the next time he opens his eyes, but there’s still no Grace. Instead, when Judd manages to get his vision to focus, there’s just Owen and Tommy camped out in his room, both looking incredibly weary. That’s no surprise at least - last he heard, Tommy was supposed to be recovering from being kidnapped, and TK was in a hospital bed of his own, so seeing the Cap here instead of with his son is unexpected.
Judd clears his throat as best he can, suppressing a wince at the action, and both their heads snap up, relief flooding their faces at the sight of him awake. After a quick greeting, Owen heads out to fetch a doctor, but Tommy lingers, something heavy in her expression.
“Hey, Juddy,” she says softly, smiling at him sadly. “How’re you feeling?”
“Like I’ve been hit by a truck,” Judd croaks out, which, for some reason, makes Tommy laugh.
“You’re not far off there.”
Judd frowns, more questions crowding his mind, but then Owen’s back with doctors and there’s no more time. He’s wheeled off for scans and exams, and though he asks a million times, no-one will tell him where Grace is. 
Judd Ryder is not a patient man at the best of times, and being in the hospital with no idea why and no clue as to his wife’s whereabouts is far from the best of times. He barely refrains from snapping at the nurses, irritated by their platitudes and well-meaning smiles. By the time he’s finally taken back to his room, under strict instructions to take it easy, Judd’s on the verge of losing it, a fact that does not go missed by Tommy when she walks back in.
“Judd -”
“Where’s Grace?” he interrupts. “Where’s my wife?”
“There was an accident,” Owen says, coming round to the foot of the bed. “You and Grace were run off a bridge into the water; you were both brought in a few hours ago.
Judd waits, but Owen doesn’t say anything else, and he feels the last tendrils of his patience ebb away.
“I appreciate the rundown, Cap,” he grits out, “but that does not answer what I asked you. Now, I’mma ask you again, and you’d better give it to me straight this time. Where is my wife?”
Owen hesitates sharing a pained look with Tommy. She steps forward and takes his hand, Judd only just managing not to snatch it away.
“The first thing you need to know is that she’s alive,” she says, tone carefully steady, like he’s one of her patients. 
“Then where is she, dammit?”
“Judd…” Tommy sighs, sudden tears in her eyes, and Judd almost feels guilty for snapping at her. “She hasn’t woken up yet. She was in a really bad shape when they brought you two in, and they… Judd, they don’t know if she will wake up.”
And, just like that, Judd’s entire world crumbles.
*
He’ll never forget the first time he laid eyes on Grace Williams.
They were in a bar packed to the brim with people, but, from the moment he saw her, it was like she was the only person that existed. Tommy had laughed herself silly when she noticed - and has made many jokes in the years since - before revealing that she knew the lady in question, and, if he wanted, could probably swing an introduction.
Judd’s mouth had gone completely dry at the news, but he’d managed a nod, taking a few moments to prepare himself while Tommy threaded her way through the crowd. She got back quicker than he’d been expecting, but one look at the woman next to her had a grin instantly emerging on Judd’s face. He’d stared at her for a long time, her own smile beginning to fade, before Tommy had none too gently elbowed him, clearing her throat.
“Oh! Right, right,” he’d stammered, blushing darkly (though, years later, he’d deny any and all awkwardness). He held a hand out. “I’m Judd.”
Grace took his hand, Judd lifting it to his lips and kissing her knuckles. He’d earned an eye roll from Tommy for that, but Grace had just smiled wider, which was all that mattered. 
“I’m Grace.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
*
Grace had been so alive that night, her face lit up with joy as they'd danced and laughed and talked. She couldn’t look more different now, unnaturally still on the hospital bed with too many machines doing the work her body can’t. Judd’s legs tremble as he clutches onto the railings of her bed, silent tears slipping down his cheeks. He wants, desperately, to touch her, but he keeps his hands resolutely to himself - Grace is so fragile right now, and Judd… Well, Judd is known for breaking fragile things. China, in their house, is only to be handled by Grace, a lesson learned after too many accidental breakages.
And now, there’s no doubt about it; this is all Judd’s fault. He’d been the one driving, he’d been the one not paying enough attention, he’s the reason Grace can’t even breathe on her own anymore. She could still die, and there’ll be no-one to blame but himself.
Judd knows - if Grace dies, there’ll be no coming back from that. Not for him.
He doesn’t know how long he stands there before his legs grow too weak to hold him upright any longer. Owen and Tommy catch him before he falls, gently guiding him out of Grace’s room and into a chair, despite his feeble protests to the contrary. As much as it hurts to see Grace like that, being away from her right now is pure hell, and Judd wishes he had the strength to fight his way back to her side.
More than that, he wishes it could be him in her place. Judd has already escaped death once; what gives him the right to do it again, especially when Grace might not get that second chance?
“She’ll get through this, Judd,” Tommy says, crouching down in front of him. “I know she will.”
Judd shakes his head, his voice coming out hollow when he speaks. “You shouldn’t make promises you know you can’t keep.”
Tommy sucks in a sharp breath, straightening and backing up a step. Judd can’t feel guilty for using her own words against her - though that’s not saying much, as he can’t really feel anything right now.
“You just have to have faith,” she tries. “God -”
“Don’t.” Judd looks up at her, clenching his jaw. “Just… I don’t wanna hear it, alright? The only thing I care about right now is Grace, not whatever God might say or do or think. Fat lot of use He is anyway; how can someone so almighty let something like this happen to Grace, huh? And don’t you dare try and tell me He works in mysterious ways, because I ain’t having it.”
“I wasn’t going to,” Tommy says mildly, apparently unfazed by his outburst. “Hell, maybe you’re right, I don’t know. But what I do know is that you have a whole team waiting and willing to support you, no matter what happens. We’ve got each other’s backs.” She looks past him, a broad smile appearing on her face. “As long as you’re willing to accept it.”
Judd follows her gaze, a choked sob forcing its way out of his throat as he spots the entire 126 - plus Charles and even Carlos - mingling in the waiting room. They make their way over to him once they notice him staring and Judd rises on shaky legs to greet them, despite Tommy protesting for him to stay off his feet.
Mateo instantly, albeit carefully, launches himself into his chest, the others following suit at a much slower pace. Carlos lingers behind for a moment before Judd nods at him, and he adds his arms to the embrace, slotting in between TK and Marjan.
“We’ve got you, man,” Paul says into his shoulder. “No matter what.”
The others murmur their agreement, and Judd closes his eyes, resting his head on top of Marjan’s. Tears fall hot and fast from his eyes, but none of them complain, instead just holding on tighter.
It doesn’t make Grace wake up, and it doesn’t take the pain away, but it makes it feel a little lighter.
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theyakuzaswife · 4 days ago
Currently thinking about Overhaul’s absolute GILF of a dad. Currently thinking about flirting with his pop even though you work for him. Currently thinking about getting triple decker railed by pops. Will soon be thinking about Overhaul finding out you got destroyed by pops and losing his mind.
Oh my god forgive me mutuals and besties for the things I’m about to say. elaine dont judge me
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So let’s get something out of the way first yeah? I was thinking about this for like half and hour and I’ve decided on something. You know this one drawing I did theorizing Pop’s body? Also please sexualize him
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He may not even be buff at all, HOWEVER my horny dilf fucked brain is going to say he is so I can justify it 😾 point is, if he is still that buff at that age, I think he’d still have enough sense stamina left for a good fuck contrary to what I’ve said before. I literally live with a man who was required to always be fit and muscular for his job, and more than a decade and a half later, he doesn’t bear any signs that would let you think that since he’s gained more weight and stopped working out. THEREFORE if Pops still is that buff I imagine he is keeping it that way with fitness, and if he has enough stamina to work out HE 👏 CAN 👏 FUCK.
Now onto the actual ask. I feel like if you flirted with him, he would be oblivious at first. Has he had his fair share of women throughout his life? Yes. Had he flirted with and been flirted with on multiple occasions? Yes. But he’s an old man and he doesn’t expect a healthy, single, well bodied younger person such as yourself to want to be with him so he just thinks you are a particularly spicy person if that makes sense. However, the flirting eventually gets to the point he seriously has to consider if this is just your way of showing affection in general, or showing your fondness to him in particular. Maybe one day he decides to do a small flirt back to test his theory, and if you give a reaction he expects, then well... you may be taking your relationship to the next level.
Now, Pops is old, but he isn't dumb. In fact you could easily argue that because of his age he is smarter... I mean he's certainly smarter and more self aware than Kai at least, so when you start fucking, he is fairly wary. It isn't against you, but he's had people try all kinds of methods to kill him before. He's been shot at, people have tried to stab him, poison him, etc. He's a yakuza boss. This being said your first few times he's fairly wary of you. He still isn't totally convinced you are into him of all people, why not his son? His son is just as good as him, just more immature, at least in his eyes if only he knew. For all he knows, you could be an assassin and as soon as he gets you into bed, you'll turn on him and try to kill him. That being said, the sex is probably slow and vanilla at first so he can remain aware and alert, he's also the dominant in the 'relationship', no sub Pops here, and likely the top as well the first few times. However if you get to the degree that he can trust you, he will do different things with you. Like bottoming although he still remains in control, like allowing you to ride him. He also begins to let himself go a bit more, so after a while he's a lot more rough and fast. He might even be interested in trying his favorite kink with you: Shibari. He likes the creativity it brings and also the control he has when he has you bound. Let's time skip a bit and let's just say that after a while of your sexual relationship, he's a lot more rough. He loves to have you bound while he absolutely wrecks your body. It's safe to say your poor little body will usually be destroyed when he is done with you.
The likelihood of Kai finding out is low, but not none. Unless you try to get Pops into a romantic relationship, he will treat your relationship professionally publicly, and sexually privately. He makes it fairly clear he doesn't want this to be a thing people know about, even his son. However, I did say the chance he finds out isn't zero. Cue the trope of Kai walking by his room, and hearing you two going at it. Of course, Kai isn't a total virgin and knows things about sex, so he immediately has his theories when he hears you two. The small, low occasional groans of his father and the mewls of you, although he doesn't know it's you specifically, with a chorus of wet slapping on skin and a creaking bed. He tries to make up things at first, maybe it's not his father at all and it's some random underlings wanting to have a spicy scene by using the Boss's bed, so he opens the door open slightly, and his suspicions are confirmed when he sees his old man railing you into the next day. He would immediately shut the door, and for a moment he is just there in shock. He doesn't even know how to process it, so he just leaves. He doesn't mention anything to either of you. Not only because the sheer idea of such a conversation is mortifying, but also because he doesn't want to even know anyways. He's just going to keep what he saw to himself, although the image will be engraved in his mind for a lifetime.
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yourtaletotell · 5 days ago
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The Scarlet Hassassin - I
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Warnings: Mention of murder; mention of self-mutilation; sensitive content.
Words: 1,499
Preview ⥷ II
Everything was being conducted according to what had been explained to you, the Assassin's Council was meeting to judge your initiation. You might be the daughter of Y/M/N, but you still had to prove that it was in your blood, that you were really part of it. The Four of the Council had been meeting for more than two hours in their meeting room. You took this time to observe the place where you were and the route that brought you to where you were standing.
You entered the deactivated subway station, Highgate, in the second corridor on the right, there was a symbol of the Creed hidden under the human eye, but you could see it. With the key your mother gave you before she died, you removed a brick and put the key in, which opened a secret door, where it led you into a corridor maybe 100 feet long, if you counted straight. The walls were made of stone by the corridor, there were tombs with candles and statues of people who must have been there before the 13th century, that's what you thought. The appearance of the place changed completely when you reached the main hall, where there was a symbol, this one now very visible, carved in marble. The colors of the council were suspended under the railing above the floor where the council meeting was taking place. It was magenta, your mother's favorite color. The whole place smelled like cheap candles and old things, like some old museum your mother used to take you to.
The doors to the council meeting room opened, and they took up position, looking at you in the center of the hall. You tried to identify their faces, but all were covered by the hoods of their vestments.
"Y/N Y/L/N, daughter of Y/M/N, the council has decided that you should pass through the 3 stages of assassin initiation." The voice of the 1 assassin on your left caught your attention.
"Ahead of you is the fountain of truth, where you will access your memories. You will see your fears, your weaknesses, your strengths, and your abilities." The second voice on your right, was a woman.
"After that, you must give what symbolizes the alliance between you and the creed." The third voice was on your left, it was also a woman.
"The end, of your initiation, will be the leap of faith." The fourth voice said, it was a man on your right.
"Are you ready?" they all asked together.
You took a step forward, as a sign of yes. They moved out of your field of vision, only then you noticed Connor approaching you, handing you a chalice. The chalice appeared to be made of gold and to have precious stones in it. Connor pointed with his hand toward the fountain, which was in the middle of the symbol of the creed. You stepped closer, placing the chalice under the fountain, seeing a pink liquid gathering in the chalice, your throat involuntarily went dry. You lifted the chalice to your mouth, avoiding smelling the liquid that was there, you took a sip.
You dropped the chalice when you realized that your vision began to blur. Everything was seeming to grow distant, until the ground began to break apart, causing you to jump to the pieces that remained whole.
"Mom, why I don't have a father?" Images began to take shape in front of you, images of you as a child, on your mother's lap in some living room,
"Honey, you have dad, he's just too busy, but don't worry, he's taking care of us even far away."
The images changed when you jumped onto another piece of floor that was still standing.
"Hi, my name is Y/N, I am Mr Stark's daughter." your image was when you were 10 years old, you had gone to the stark convention just to meet your father,
"Girl, as much as Stark had adventures I'm sure you're not his daughter." The image of the event security guard looked directly at you.
"Hey, hey Mr. Stark, it's me, your daughter!" you shouted getting the attention of the man who looked like just a blur.
"Little girl, I'm not so sure about that!" Anthony laughed at your childlike figure. "Happy, give her a hat and get her out of here."
You jumped to the last piece of ground that remained still, realizing that the images had now changed. You were in a room full of police officers, the same police officers who shot your mother. In the middle of the room was the perpetrator, walking in, you couldn't see his face, only the white clothes he was wearing that day. You then saw that on his arm was a hidden blade, you would have to kill him without drawing attention. You blended in among the police, without making a sound, without making yourself stand out, arriving behind your target, you stabbed him vertically in his rib, killing him instantly.
Before you could move, a pillar formed in front of you, causing you to grab it with your hands, you climbed to where a straight flat, floor-like had formed. You climbed quickly, getting to your feet. You looked around and saw a light, three pillars higher. You took a deep breath, didn't think twice about it, and ran, making the same climb as before.
As you reached the light, you saw the scene repeat itself, the policeman was pointing the gun at your mother's head, who was on her knees, tied up. You ran to her, but the policeman pulled the trigger, and as you approached the figure, it disappeared in front of you, leaving only a mechanism and an instruction of what to do. You took the mechanism, without hesitation, and put your right ring finger on it, with a click your finger was ripped off completely. The blood squirted away, causing you to quickly rip off a piece of your shirt and tie it over your hand to keep it from bleeding more.
The light in front of you turned into a door, you, again, without hesitation stepped through it.
You were off balance when you realized that you were now standing on top of Tower Bridge, you threw your arms back and forth to keep yourself standing and get back on balance. The evening breeze held you back. You looked out over the surrounding city and straightened up.
Throwing your body forward, arms outstretched, you jumped. The fall was slow, smooth, you stretched your arms in a circle in the air. When you got close to the water you put your arms together so that you wouldn't get hurt by the fall. But the river was deeper than it should have been.
You saw images of a woman, a woman you had never seen before in your life, you memorized the characteristics of her face, her hair was brown and her eyes were green.
You were losing oxygen, but you gave up swimming to the surface when you noticed that you were further away than usual, so you decided to dive deeper to a small door at the bottom of the river. Opening the door made you fall on your face to the floor of the hall of the Assassins' Sanctuary. You coughed up all the water that somehow made its way into your mouth. You supported yourself on your hands, ignoring the discomfort in your right hand, and got onto your knees.
The Council members were all looking at you, surprised that you had completed the whole process so quickly. Connor approached you, with a vestment in hand, he stood beside you.
"Y/N, recite the three fundamentals that an assassin must follow." The first voice to your left commanded you.
"Keep the blade away from innocent lives; hide in plain sight; never compromise the brotherhood."You said loud and clear for them to hear.
Connor stretched out the arm that was free for you to stand on and so you did. Your hand was pulsing, it could be your body having the realization of the lack of a finger.
"Recite the Creed" the second voice to your left commanded.
"When other men blindly follow the truth, remember." Connor said, waiting for you to complete.
"Nothing is true." You replied.
"When other men are bound by morality or law, remember." Connor stood behind you, placing the vestment over your body.
"Everything is permitted." You replied, watching a disguised smile appear at the corner of Connor's lip as he tied a scarlet colored sash around your waist.
"We work in the shadows..." Connor finished your vestment, now standing in front of you.
"To serve the light." You finished.
"Nothing is true, everything is permitted. We are Assassins." All the council members, Connor and you said together.
"As a member of the council of assassins, we appoint you a member of the Assassin's Brotherhood."
Taglist: @tomy5girls @helloalycia @izalesbean @trikruismybitch @aimezvousbrahms
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the-ultimate-avenger · 5 days ago
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seabound chapter four
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description: the final battle and a beautiful letter written to cause tears.
warnings: blood, death, cursing
word count: 1.6k
masterlist | seabound masterlist
note: thank you so much for coming along on this ride! i appreciate all the love on this story and please please please, know you can always request any story from me! love you all!
•·················•·················•
aegea moved down the dock in a numbness that made no sense to her. sure, she was heartbroken and betrayed by someone who she was open to actually loving but she isn't supposed to love. how could she have been so stupid? and to let steve know of her plans with the stones? it was almost a laughable lapse in judgement. wanda and natasha hadn't said a single thing since they had left the boys in the jungle, natasha just not wanting to get involved since she didn't really know everybody like that and wanda just as heartbroken. aegea felt guilty for putting her best friend through this as well but there was nothing she could do about it now. stepping onto the ship, aegea was ready to just end this whole chapter of her life and head home to forget what she has spent months doing.
"wanda, we're going to head home. i don't want to be here anymore and then we can figure out where to go from there."
"huh. didn't think the daughter i raised was a quitter."
aegea spun towards the voice to find her father, the tony stark, leaning against the railing, her mother sitting on the stairs.
"dad?"
"you can't just quit. you've spent a year evading me and trying to find these stones and the minute something goes wrong, you quit?"
"how did you even-"
"captain rogers."
aegea scoffed at the mention of the captain who had betrayed her trust and her heart. moving across the deck, aegea stood in front of her father, waiting for an answer.
"i've known where you were at every port you've been in and going to since i sent steve out looking for you."
"so why didn't you just come get me?"
"steve had asked me not to. he said you were very passionate about what you were doing and he would accompany you until the very end of the line."
"he did?"
"yup. but now, you're giving up and i just can't understand why. from what i understood, you made some amazing connections. so let's bring the fight to this…"
"thanos."
"then let's bring the fight to thanos. you didn't work this hard to leave empty handed."
"i love you dad."
your dad smiled at you and pat your shoulder, bringing his hand up to his mouth and whistling, signaling someone.
"lady aegea," a thick accent called out from behind her. aegea turned to see thor and the asgardians stepping down the dock and making their way to their ship. behind them, the guardians were making their way to the smaller ship decked out in weapons. pyms crew were joining the guardians while the group of wakandians stood at attention. there were people you had made friends with on your journeys, getting ready to help you fight the biggest battle of your life.
"we set out in an hour, be prepared," aegea shouted to the many people willing to stand by her. there was a shout of agreement and the large group dispersed to get ready.
"aegea?"
aegea turned to see steve standing off to the side, bucky standing with wanda. he looked so lost, it was a weird sight since steve had been the strong one of the two of them when he needed to be. but for some reason, he was the weak one now.
"steve, can we talk?"
the taller man nodded and the two made their way back into captains quarters. once the door closed, steve was pressed into aegea's back, hugging around her waist.
"i am so sorry, aegea. please. i never meant to hurt you, and yes it started as a lie, but it changed so quickly. once i got to know you, i knew that i needed to be with you and protect you, even if you don't need the protection."
"steve…."
"let me finish," he replied, spinning aegea to face him. "i love you aegea stark and i want to be with you for the rest of our lives."
"i love you too steve. it'll be a while until we can get back to where we were but, i'm willing to make it work."
steve smiled and leaned down, pressing his lips to aegea's as she wrapped her arms around his neck. his hands moved lower and cupped her ass as a moan slipped from her lips.
"hey," aegea mumbled, pulling back. "i would love to finish this but we have a whole battle to fight and we need to prepare for. we'll have plenty of time after for this."
when the hour was up and aegea worked through a plan with the captains of each ship, the group set out to find the one person that had managed to follow in the footsteps of aegea and rob her of the stones she had set out to find. it didn't take long to find thanos, his ship and a few smaller ones were hiding in the cove on the other side of the island, close to the cavern where the stones were. the ships lined the entrance and exit to the cove as aegea made her way to the end of the bowspirit, squatting and playing with a small dagger.
"thanos," she yelled out, catching his attention. the large man moved to the front of his ship and watched the small girl.
"the king and his men took the queen from her bed… and bound her in her bones… the seas be ours and by the powers, where in will we'll roam."
as aegea finished her section of the song, her crew began singing the next verse until all the ships were singing, preparing for the battle of a lifetime. as the song ended, aegea stood, winked at steve and jumped towards thanos' boat, sword ready and a fight commencing. a battlecry rang out and everyone began fighting, aegea moving to thanos immediately, their fight almost moving in slow motion. thanos easily cornered aegea, his sword just missing her neck when there was a clang of swords above her head. aegea looked up and saw steve, his sword pushing thanos' back as the two began tag teaming him. as they fought, the skies opened up and rain meeting the warm cheeks of the fighters. thanos became distracted as his daughter yelped out and aegea took her moment, swiping the bag with the stones off of his waist and moving around him, her sword pushing past his clothing and into his skin.
"you bitch," he growled, whipping around and catching aegea off guard, her sword stuck in him as he forced his own into her stomach. grunting and falling to his knees, thanos smiled at the girl he had just killed.
"you may have won the battle but i will win the war. you are just a child. i am…"
thanos was cut off as steve slid his sword across thanos next, finishing off the job aegea had started. his body fell to the side and steve quickly made his way around the large body in time to catch aegea as she fell to the ground.
"hey, hey. don't you leave me, aegea. i just got you back."
"steve… i am so sorry and i love you."
her words were followed by a cough, some blood trickling down the side of her mouth.
"aegea," steve wailed, holding her body closer. "please don't leave me. please don't go."
the girl in his arms didn't respond and steve loosened his grip to see that she had closed her eyes, a faint smile on her lips that she was able to tell steve that she had loved him. a guttural cry left steve's body, his heart shattering as the rest of their team finished off the job they had started and made their way over to see steve holding their captain. wanda cried out, turning into bucky as he wrapped his arms around her. hats were removed from heads as respect was paid to the captain that had led them into this battle and won it, paying the ultimate price. tony and pepper made their way through the crowd, the sight of their daughter coming into view. pepper screamed as tony grabbed her, steve's eyes meeting his. they had both lost the most important person in their lives. holding aegea's body closer to him, steve stood, crossing the ship to the dandy, laying her body in it and placing her hat on her chest, the small bag with the stones underneath. the crowd had moved to the smaller boat and watched as steve lowered it to the water, silent tears streaming down his face. the boat reached the water and began floating towards the sunset. as it floated away, the crowd began heading back to their ships. bucky placed a hand on his shoulder and the two began moving back towards the red star, wanda following closely behind as she introduced herself to tony and pepper quietly. as they reached their boat and walked across the plank that was set between the two, bucky moved across to the captain's quarters and motioning steve to follow him. once inside the peacefulness of the room, bucky grabbed a sealed envelope from a small side table.
"aegea gave me this before we set out, told me to give it to you if anything happened to her."
steve took the envelope and nodded silently, watching bucky leave to comfort wanda and aegea's parents. once the door closed, steve moved to his desk and sat down, ripping open the paper and unfolding the letter. tears ran down his face and met with the ink as he read the beautiful words aegea had written.
*𝓈𝓉𝑒𝓋𝑒,
𝒾 𝓁𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓈𝑜 𝓂𝓊𝒸𝒽 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒾𝒻 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝑔𝑜𝓉 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈 𝓁𝑒𝓉𝓉𝑒𝓇, 𝒾 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓃𝓀 𝒾𝓉'𝓈 𝒷𝑒𝒸𝒶𝓊𝓈𝑒 𝒾'𝓂 𝒹𝑒𝒶𝒹. 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓌𝑒𝓇𝑒 𝓈𝓊𝒸𝒽 𝒶 𝓁𝒾𝑔𝒽𝓉 𝒾𝓃 𝓂𝓎 𝓁𝒾𝒻𝑒 𝒻𝑜𝓇 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓅𝒶𝓈𝓉 𝒻𝑒𝓌 𝓂𝑜𝓃𝓉𝒽𝓈 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒾 𝒶𝓂 𝓈𝑜 𝑔𝓁𝒶𝒹 𝓉𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝒾 𝑔𝑜𝓉 𝓉𝑜 𝓂𝑒𝑒𝓉 𝓎𝑜𝓊. 𝒾 𝓁𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒾 𝓅𝓇𝑜𝓂𝒾𝓈𝑒 𝒾 𝓌𝒾𝓁𝓁 𝒻𝒾𝓃𝒹 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒾𝓃 𝒶𝓃𝑜𝓉𝒽𝑒𝓇 𝓁𝒾𝒻𝑒𝓉𝒾𝓂𝑒.
𝒶𝑒𝑔𝑒𝒶
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dreamwarehouse · 10 days ago
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Selecting a Mid Sleeper Bed for Your Youngster
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kyuublu · 12 days ago
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Haunt me
Toji Fushiguro x reader (she/her)
Neighbor AU - angst
note: the bold passages are flashbacks + Megumi is an only child in this one lol
song inspo: How to dissapear - Lana Del Rey
Blue skies and big fields of green; the road had always stayed the same, y/n noticed as she left the bus. Once the young women made her way home, she took in all the familiar sights she hadn’t seen in years. She had missed walking through the familiar streets, despite disliking her home town when she was younger, since it didn’t have anything really interesting for teenagers around her age. There were no clubs, cool stores, really anything that was rebellious or at least didn’t look like it was owned by a 70-year-old man. Everything always stayed the same.
Y/n’s footsteps came to a halt, right before the door of her own home. Subconsciously turning her head to the side, she was suddenly aware of the presence that stood further away. The familiar figure leaned against the railing of his porch, back turned to her as he focused on something in his hands. Toji Fushiguro.
Had he stayed the same too?
For a moment, y/n had thought about greeting him but was interrupted by the sudden opening of the door infront of her.
“Y/n! Why didn’t you knock? Oh, come here-“ The older lady put her arms around her daughter lovingly and pulled them inside.
“I made a bunch of your favorites, but there are going to take a bit more time.” She pointed at the stove as both of them entered the kitchen.
“Where’s dad?”
Her mom rolled her eyes at the thought of her stubborn husband, they apparently had argued about the maintenance of their garden a couple of hours prior. Y/n chuckled at her mothers’ frustration, but went to look for her dad on her own, since her mom seemed too busy with cooking. After greeting him and exchanging a couple of words, the daughter convinced him to let her mow the lawn. “But you better not break it again like the first time!” The man teased playfully, earning an eyeroll from y/n as she ushered him inside.
“Damn it-“
Muttering under her breath, the girl almost kicked the device infront of her in a fit of rage. The lawnmower had suddenly been stuck before she could really even start, and was now only a rattling mess.
“Fuck...” She sighed one more time, putting her hand lazily on her hip and the other over her eyes, shielding her from the sun.
“For a young lady, ya do seem to swear alot.”
Y/n whipped her head towards the strangers’ voice, almost gasping as she realized who the voice had belonged to. He was the husband of the new family that had moved next to their house a few weeks ago. Before that encounter she hadn’t seen him up close, but now his appearance immediately burned itself into her brain. He was handsome, not the kind of handsome that she had seen from popular boys in school or the hollywood actors on tv, but the attraction she had to him felt a thousand times better.
“I- uhm-“ The girl stuttered as she avoided his eyes, only to look back at the problem at hand.
“It’s broken.” She pointed at the lawnmower dumbfounded, smacking herself internally at the way she was behaving like a 7-year-old.
“Let’s see if I can help, shall we?” A confident smile appeared on the mans’ face, making the girl’s knees even weaker, before he approached the device. He had quickly figured out the problem and got rid of the piece that had been stuck inside the lawnmower, but continued talking to y/n casually, throwing in a joke or two.
“I’m Toji by the way, but I’m guessing your dad already told you about us.”
She watched as the dark haired man held his hand out to her. His politeness felt strange from the start, as if he was playing a character in a movie and she couldn’t quite figure out why.
“What was your name again?”
“Y/n.” The girl shakily took his hand, getting even more nervous at the roughness that was contrasting her own.
“I also wanted to ask ya something - my wife has been buggin’ me about it for days now. Are ya any good with kids?”
That day Toji had asked her if she could babysit his 5-year old son, since he had a job that required to be available at any moment and his wife had to take night shifts at the hospital. Y/n agreed to it without any question, since her dad had taken a liking to the family and she wanted to earn some money on the side. She had just graduated in that same year and wasn’t sure as to what her next step should be in life or what her future looked like really. But right now, the man walking away from her seemed like the best distraction from the dull routine she had been used to.
Shortly after y/n finished the rest of the lawn, her mom waved her inside to eat. The dinner had tasted better than ever, y/n thought as she greedily dug into her plate and asked her mom for more. The older lady only chuckled at her antics, appreciating the sentiment behind it though.
“I really wouldn’t have thought you’d go through with it, honestly.” Her father spoke with his usual sarcastic tone as he watched his daughter take another plate full of food.
“With college? Yeah, I guess I understand what you mean. I’ve always been the lazy type.”
Y/n knew her dad well enough not to argue with him about what he believed his daughter was like. He only knew what she had let him see, and three years ago that had been an 18-year-old girl that took a year off to stay at her parents home without any plans or direction. Only she herself knew that lazyness hadn’t been the real issue, it was her fear of growing up and failing. Before they could dig any deeper into the topic, the daughter decided to ask about the one thing that had been stuck in her mind since she had seen Toji on the porch.
“So, how are the Fushiguro’s doing?” She casually picked at the food on her plate.
“I thought I’ve told you on the phone already? About Toji’s wife and kid.” The mother looked at her child in disbelief until she saw the genuine confusion in her eyes and started explaining.
“His wife died almost a year ago. She became very sick all of a sudden and then it just happened so quickly. Toji hasn’t really been the same since.”
Y/n’s eyes widened in shock, she couldn’t comprehend the fact that something did change so drastically around here, and it hat happened to the family she had wished it upon the least.
“W-What about Megumi?”
Ms.L/n eyes locked with her husband’s, both of their heads hanging a bit lower now.
“Toji gave him away for adoption. He didn’t seem to be in the right state of mind to be handling a child on his own after an incident like that.” The daughter only nodded her head slowly at her dads’ words, as she remembered the big pouty cheeks on that little boys’ face three years ago and his mother that had the same big blue eyes.
Since the very first time y/n had visited the Fushiguros’ house, the wife had always been extremely caring and sweet towards her, reassuring her that she’d be a great babysitter (and even mother someday, which always made her cringe a little). Eventhough she wanted to be grateful, she felt a tinge of jealousy, almost resentment towards her. The woman was beautiful in every way posssible and even stood up against her husband plenty of times, never doubting her confidence once - Y/n had been the complete opposite.
Especially confrontation was something she had always struggled with, even feeling bad when she overheard some of the fights that the Fushiguro’s had occasionally.
One night when y/n had been taking care of the little boy again, Toji came home earlier than expected, leaving her a bit taken back at the sudden appearance. Thankfully, Megumi had already been asleep at this point, making it easier for the parent to just arrive home without worrying about the whole putting him to bed routine. He had walked straight pass her, only muttering a short “Hey” before grabbing a beer and sitting down on the couch. The girl recalled the fight before the couple both headed off to work but didn’t expect to have to deal with his mood already.
What was she supposed to say to a man twice her age that was visibly pissed, sitting on the couch that she was supposed to sleep on tonight. She could only stare at the back of his head helplessly, wondering if she should just change into her normal clothes again and leave.
“Are ya gonna stand there all day?”
Y/n’s eyes snapped back to the man, as he streched one of his arms over the back of the couch.
“No, I just thought-“ Stopping herself from ending the sentence, she thought about actually engaging in conversation with him. The girl didn’t have the chance nor the guts to talk to him completely alone yet, since he always kept his ‘nice neighbor facade’ up around other people. Stepping closer to the couch, she could feel herself getting more tense. She knew Toji wasn’t going to give her much attention, since he hadn’t ever given her any signs of actually liking her in any way, but somehow the girl couldn’t overlook the weird tension. Once y/n settled down a bit further away from him, she noticed his eyes had been glued to her since she’d walked over.
“Wasn’t too hard now was it?”
He muttered with a slight smirk, before taking a swig of his drink. Y/n let out a nervous chuckle before leaning back more comfortably.
Just stay cool.
“So, I heard you’ve graduated not too long ago, congratulations.” It was more of a statement than a question but she still answered nonetheless.
“Yeah it’s crazy, actually- I also turned 19 a week ago too. Everything is going by so fast now.” She cringed at herself once she heard the deeple chuckle from the man beside her.
Why would you tell him that? Your age of all things?
“Well, why are ya still stuck here then? Ya should be out there in the world, not in this shithole.” Toji had his eyes back on the bottle as he tapped his finger on the dark colored glass.
“Or is a boyfriend of yours keeping ya here?” Glancing to the side teasingly, he leaned in a bit closer, making the girl’s heartbeat race even more.
“No! I’m j-just...” Y/n shook her head, staring at him with big eyes until she mumbled out
“I don’t have a boyfriend.”
Raising his eyebrows, he really began acknowledging her presence. The way she acted more shy around him and always seemed to be shaking a bit, making her look like a scared little puppy. Then he noticed her clothes, or rather lack there of. “What? Don’t tell me a pretty girl like you didn’t get chased by the guys at ya school.”
Does he really think I’m pretty?
Y/n almost held her breath once he lowered his eyes down her figure, remembering now that she was only wearing a top, without a bra, and shorts to sleep in, because summer had just started and the temperatures felt like hell at night.
“Not really, I guess I just wasn’t anyone’s type.”
The girl let out a nervous chuckle yet again, her body feeling like it was overheating and her brain was about to explode at any moment. It only worsened once the dark haired man loosened his arm on the couch and bend it towards her face, his hand slowly pulling a piece of hair behind her ears. Their eyes locked for what felt like an eternity; She couldn’t get enough of this feeling.
“Too bad.”
Y/n waited for something more, anything to explain what he had meant, but got startled by the sudden ringing in her pocket.
“A-ah uhm, sorry-“
She quickly picked up the phone, only to be bombarded by questions from her father. Eventually she ended the call and turned back to Toji, who still hadn’t looked away from her.
“I have to go. My dad he- he thought that I wasn’t going to babysit tonight and now he’s kind of mad, so...”
The man nodded understandingly until a smirk appeared on his face, as if he had just read her thoughts for a moment.
“I guess ya can’t keep me company then, huh?”
Y/n only shook her head, almost sighing in frustration. Tonight had already felt like a dream, but a way too short one.
Cleaning the dishes had always been a task assigned to y/n since she could remember, but hoped that she could’ve escape tonight. Sadly not though - making her the last one to go to bed. She dragged her feet up the stairs that led to her old bedroom but stopped before falling into the soft pillows. Instinctively the woman looked out her window, only to catch a glimpse of the one across from hers. Before the Fushiguro’s had moved in, it had always bugged her that the neighbors view directly faced her room. Her mom had always warned her daughter to close the curtains as much as possible and change in the bathroom instead, but like most teenagers often do - she didn’t listen, or just wasn’t planning on walking back to the bathroom for every time she had to change her clothes. But y/n did remembered the first time she had changed infront of the window on purpose.
With only a towel draped around her body, the girl quickly peaked at the neighbors house as she stood with her back to the wall. She had panicked at first, seeing the husband leaning against the window frame, a cigarette hanging on the side of his lips. Y/n didn’t know if he had seen her walk in with the towel but she was intrigued by his sight, the way he had just casually leaned forward, as the thick smoke escaped his lips. Without thinking any further she stepped away from the wall and infront of the window, her back turned towards the dark haired man on the other side.
Was he going to notice? Would he even want to see her like this?
Dropping the towel and slowly putting on the underwear that was layed out on her bed, she kept imagining what he might’ve looked like in that moment. Thousands of pictures would pop up in her head until she couldn’t help but want to see for herself. Her head moved on it’s own, as she turned it to the side, only to see that the figure was gone.
Y/n blinked a couple of times, utterly confused on how to feel, should she have wanted this? This was exactly the opposite of thing’s a girl of her age should feel excited about, but she couldn’t deny that the tiny bit inside of her that wanted him to watch, wanted to be desired by him - had been disappointed.
Y/n tossed and turned, never seeming to find any rest from her constant thinking. She couldn’t’ help but feel bad about disappearing from the small town, even though there had never been any reason for her to stay in the first place - there hadn’t been any jobs that would have been interesting to her, no new people to connect to. The deep heavy weighing feeling inside of her told her the opposite though, probably resulting in a restless and never ending night of overthinking.
I have to see him. Sitting up, her buzzing head turned to the side, she considered going with the idea that had popped into her head momentarily.
Y/n let out a huff, putting on the robe that had been draped over the chair in the corner of the room (and took the keys with her, of course) and made her way downstairs carefully, each step creaking slightly under her shaking feet. Fleeting moments of feeling like a teenager again went through her mind; even though she had rarely snuck out of the house back then, the young woman had only wished that those years would’ve been that exciting. Shrugging at the thought, she finally stood infront of the door of her home, opening it slowly. As her hands pushed the wooden surface back, she slipped through and looked to the side, towards the house she hadn’t stepped foot in in 3 years. Suddenly the pace of her heart quickened, not only by the thought of seeing the older man again, but by the figure that was leaving the house at that moment. Y/n squinted until she recognized that it hadn’t been Toji leaving the house. The long black hair immediately made her perk up and lean back, she didn’t want to be noticed by the guy - even though he might’ve been easier to approach than the man sitting in that very house next door.
It had been in the middle of the day that Mrs.Fushiguro called the young woman. Y/n had the spare time of course and agreed to come over, happy to see the little boy and maybe even catch a second to talk with Toji again. She hadn’t seen him often after that night and couldn’t quite place yet what the dark haired man thought of her now. How was she supposed to behave around him? Groaning in frustration the girl began walking towards the house, but as the door opened, the student began slowing down. An unknown man, visibly younger than the parents that lived in the house, suddenly locked eyes with her. Y/n imagined him to be around around his mid-tenties, which made her curious - Toji didn’t ever seem to invite any guests over, so why would he choose to be around a guy that young?
The stranger smiled politely, which she only returned while approaching the porch he had been standing on.
“Don’t tell me Toji has another kid he didn’t tell me about.”
Thrown off by the sudden comment, y/n’s eyes widened as she snapped her head back to the stranger. The mans’ soft laugh made her feel more at ease, ultimately making her laugh too.
“No, I’m just the babysitter slash next door neighbor.”
“I’m Geto Suguru, it’s nice to meet you.”
His smile was smug but sweet, she noted. Before Geto could leave, the girl spoke up once again, the curiosity getting the best of her.
“How do you know the family? Do you work for them too?”
The man turned, giving her his full attention.
“Oh, god no I’d never work for that idiot.” He chuckled yet again, shaking his head in the process. “I am a colleague of Toji. Sometimes I just come around, since he does have a charm that I can’t resist, you know.”
By the looks of it he had only made a joke, but to y/n, that only chuckled in response, the vibe had felt off.
“What do you do exactly? I’m not trying to pry or anything, but Mr.Fushiguro has never really told me about it, so...”
Geto quirked a brow, he had caught a slight glimpse of her in that moment that almost gave her intentions away - but he looked past it, she seemed too young to actually be interested in Toji’s personal life. “We work at a workshop not too far from here, repairing cars and all that. It’s probably not something worth mentioning to be honest.”
The girl infront of him didn’t believe a word. She didn’t have any evidence not to, but the way he talked had been so sugarcoated, that she couldn’t help but feel suspicious of him. “You’re probably right, I don’t know a thing about cars.”
Smiling innocently at the guy, she slowly began turning back to the entrance of the house.
“Well I’ll see you around then.”
Geto only held up a hand smoothly, smiling yet again - which only confirmed what y/n had been thinking this whole time. This man was too much of a flirt, a smooth talker to be around someone like Toji as a normal friend. It only raised the question as to why the father always seemed to avoided talking about his job, and what the hell it had to do with this Geto guy. Y/n shook her head lightly until she was met with the devil himself.
“Right on time as always, mh?”
Toji’s smirk only drew her eyes down his face, making her noticed the scar in the corner of his lips.
“Oh uh- yeah.”
Y/n nodded as he let her inside. She stepped in, thinking that maybe there was more to the man than she originally had thought, a side of him nobody knew about.
It took a long time before a shadow appeared at the foot of the door. To the young adult it had felt like hours until she could finally hear the lock being opened. The girl inside of her was screaming, begging to see him again - as to why she did feel that way still, she didn’t have an answer to. Then the door creaked open just a bit. Y/n could see him peak through for just a second, the dark bags under his eyes were alarming, but to be expected. He must’ve been through alot, things she wouldn’t be able to grasp at her age.
A sigh escaped Fushiguro’s lips as he leaned away from the door, only letting a crack of light fall through, contrasting the dark of the night. Suddenly the door swung open, the brightness of the light illuminating her completely now, as she squinted her eyes to adjust to it. Toji had his back turned to her, trudging towards the living room without a word. She watched as his body disappeared into the room and followed slowly after, unsure of what’s to come.
As y/n stepped in, closing the door after her, she began taking a peak at the rooms that she passed by. They had all been in the same conditions as the day she left, which made her wonder how much of that was really Toji’s doing - he had never been the one to clean the house or cook. It was always one of the things his wife had complained about the most, y/n remembered the bickering everytime the woman left for work. Mrs.Fushiguro had been right about the way her husband had never participated in doing his part, but the girl couldn’t deny that back then she would’ve done anything to be a housewife if that meant she could call the man she had been infatuated with - hers. Y/n often joked about it to her friends at school, but deep down she knew there was an inexplicable feeling she couldn’t get rid of as soon as he left her sight.
The young woman almost gasped once she stood in the doorway of the living room, it contrasting to the rest of the home so much that she almost wanted to laugh. Beer cans were scattered across the floor, half eaten food laying around on the table and in between the rest of all the mess, was Toji, his head hanging low.
Y/n had expected some sort of comment from the dark haired man that was now sitting on the same old couch that she had imprinted into her memories - but he hadn’t uttered a word.
She knew she was the one that had to initiate the conversation, but couldn’t shake off the anxiety that was creeping up. Once her feet were ready to move without shaking, she approached the man, sitting right on the spot next to him that she had been used to back then.
“What are you doing here...”
Toji’s low tone almost made her shiver. His question rather sounding like an accusation, an observation than anything else. It was the same old thing he’d always do, where he didn’t ask for the other person’s sake but rather to emphasize that what they were doing was almost a joke to him, something so obvious that he didn’t need an answer for.
She shouldn’t be here - nobody asked her to come and he was probably the last person to know what to do with her. They weren’t friends, y/n told herself as she looked at his disheveled state, she was only an old memory, coming back to haunt him.
“I just thought-“
The womans’ eyes began watering, but she swore to herself that she didn’t want to be that stuttering mess in front of him ever again. She didn’t want to remind him of that same girl he had met three years ago. Y/n was a grown woman now, and for some reason she felt the need to prove it to him.
“I heard what happened. I don’t know if it makes any difference, but I just wanted to give you my condolences.”
A creak of one of the beer cans made her look up to the man, his face unreadable. Toji scoffed as he watched the can crinkle between his fingers.
“Everyone says the same shit. It was stupid of me to think ya would be any different.”
Y/n watched as he let the empty can drop to the floor, making it painfully obvious how silent it had gotten.
“Did Geto say the same too?”
Toji finally casted her eyes towards her form, almost seeming caught off guard by the question.
“He came to the funeral after everything that happened. Suguru was never somebody I would’ve considered a friend honestly, but there he was, standing next to me in a black suit.”
The dark haired man paused for a moment as his eyes darted to the glass door that led to their garden. A sudden chuckle escaped his lips, without any certain emotion being evident on his face.
“He didn’t once pity me. The guy just padded me on the back and said he’d see me at work again.” His gaze found it’s way to the girl in the robe.
“So?”
She knitted her brows in confusion, unsure of what to say. “What?” He laughed at the quick response, turning away to shake his head.
“I never really understood you, y/n. Even before you left-“
Toji leaned forward, prompting his arms on his thighs as he looked down at his hands.
“You were always looming around but ya never got to the damn point. It was like you were hiding something in that pretty little head of yours.”
Suddenly the young woman felt defensive, finally grasping the fact that she didn’t have to stand back anymore - this was her only chance.
“And you weren’t?”
His head turned, as he looked over his shoulder questioningly. Y/n took the opportunity to go further, staring back at him intently.
“You always acted all polite infront of others, casually waved at the neighbors, talked to my parents with a friendly smile - but once you were in here...”
She scoffed at the memories flooting her thoughts again. The harsh words Toji had thrown at his wife, the way he wouldn’t as much as look in his son’s direction most of the time.
“You were awful, Toji.”
The mans’ eyes grew dark with every word she uttered, but y/n was insistent on not taking it back this time, she needed answers.
“Sure, make me the bad guy all ya want. I’ll let ya have that, but don’t act all innocent on me.”
Slowly the distance between them became smaller, as the man leaned closer to y/n with a devilish grin.
“Do you really think I didn’t notice your little attempts? Ya think my wife would’ve appreciated the way you acted around me?”
The hand that was propped onto his leg was dangerously closer to her thigh, y/n noted as her eyes flickered down nervously. He knew all along - but what did that mean for her? Y/n gulped before speaking up again and meeting his gaze.
“You were already fighting with her about every possible thing you could, but you think that the girl next door would’ve made her break? Really?”
Toji’s stare was cold again, his lips shut close as he almost mumbled to himself in disbelief.
“What did I ever do to you?”
“Nothing.” The woman shook her head as the tears slipped down her cheeks. “You didn’t even spare me a glance.”
Her voice broke as she smiled sadly, not knowing how to put into words why she had felt the way she did. Y/n couldn’t quite grasp it herself.
“I didn’t understand why even though you did everything your own way, disrespecting her multiple times and seemingly not even giving a fuck about your own family - you still never even dared to look at me in any other way than the fucking babysitter.”
A sniffle broke through the silence of the house, Toji still not wavering as he watched the woman break right infront of him.
“I know that you shouldn’t have and that it was selfish of me, childish to think you could ever see me as more, but I was so frustrated. I just wanted to be desired by you, and the little amount of attention you did give me just made it hard not to be addicted to you.”
In that moment, y/n felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She didn’t explain everything perfectly but she felt as if maybe this was the only way she could’ve made him understand, even just a little.
The girl back then already knew that her way of thinking had been selfish, and even now she couldn’t look past at how toxic it was to think that way about someone with a family, someone much older than her - but y/n still never stopped thinking about him.
Y/n closed her eyes, sparing herself the embarrassment she might’ve felt by looking at Toji’s reaction but suddenly felt his body moving beside hers. She opened her eyes as the man took her chin in his hand and looked down her lips longingly. Just for a moment, y/n thought that maybe she had been wrong all along - Maybe Toji had catched a glimpse of her when he smoked out of the bedroom window, maybe he too had wondered what it would be like to lay next to her and hold her for just one night.
Then his lips crashed into hers, softly but with a lingering determination. Before y/n could even react properly, Toji had moved back again. His eyes staying on the spot he had kissed her, tracing his thumb over it lightly.
“I can’t give you what you want. I never could.”
No. No. No.
Y/n thought back to when she had arrived today, when she claimed that everything had stayed the same. “Why?”
She pleaded with glassy eyes, her e/c ones boring into his.
“Because you don’t belong at a place like this - and I do.”
Even as the young woman sat there, watching him move away and stand back up, she didn’t feel any hatred towards him. He never did anything bad to her. He never treated her the way he had treated his wife. He never once took advantage of the situation.
But both of them knew he wasn’t a good person, and maybe letting each other go was the only way to avoid causing any more damage.
“I’m sorry.”
Y/n didn’t know what exactly she had apologized for; if it had been for leaving the town out of the blue, or for crashing into his home without any warning. Maybe even for something that only Toji could know, like what circumstances he had been in to become this way - but she did feel sorry. Toji’s steps come to a halt at the doorway, turning his head, only to give her one last smile.
He had left the room without a response.
Y/n knew there hadn’t been anything left to say - this was their last chapter and she was finally ready to turn the page.
————
My first jjk story for now, but I’ll probably write more for other characters from the show soon. Also please feel free to correct me on anything grammar related since english isn’t my first language & i’m only trying to get better. ^^
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itsclydebitches · 22 days ago
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RWBY Recaps: Volume 8 “The Final Word”
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Well, we made it to the finale, everyone, and if you're reading this it seems you've survived the watching of it too. Barely. To say that some questionable choices were made across these 20 minutes is... an understatement.
But before we delve into the episode, I want you to cast your mind back to November 7th, 2020. A horrible year that heralded a horrible RWBY volume. There, coming off the shaky writing of Volume 7, I posed a number of questions and concerns that the show needed to tackle, with the promise that we would return to these expectations in four months time. Now, here we are! Let's refresh everyone's memory, yeah?
Taken directly from that recap, what RWBY promised us, through various teasers and Q&As, included:
Emphasis on Ruby’s leadership and how Summer’s death has impacted her
Insight into Ren and Nora’s flaws
May Merigold will supposedly have a larger part
More information about The Long Memory (Ozpin’s cane)
Theme of the volume is that you can respect someone but that doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with them
Very short timeline (supposedly just two days)
Yang in particular is very suspicious and distrustful
And you know what? They did all this. In the spirit of being fair and honest to this show, RWBY succeeded in delivering on everything they promised... it was just our foolishness that expected that these ideas would be delivered well. Ruby's leadership took center stage in the form of her hiding for multiple episodes and then others telling her she's still The Best before the plot dropped a solution into her lap... one she could have used at any point prior to this. Summer's death certainly has an impact, though it's an impact born of a crazy reveal that Summer likely isn't dead, but turned into a horrifying grimm monster. Ren and Nora both delve into their flaws, but heaven forbid either grow from that reflection. Ren learns that if he pushes past his primary flaw of keeping his emotions buried and actually expresses his doubts for once, he'll be yelled at and ignored until he admits how wrong he was. The "real" flaw is being a bad friend, with "bad friend" equaling "Not agreeing with Ruby 100%." Meanwhile, Nora considers that maybe she shouldn't rush in recklessly and hit things with her hammer... which is why she rushes in recklessly, hits something with her hammer, gets grievously injured, and is told that this is just who she truly is. No growth there, not unless we count her sudden desire to figure out who she is without Ren... but that exploration hasn't started yet. Too bad she wasn't the teammate separated at the end of the volume!
Meanwhile, May did indeed have a larger role to play, one I quite liked, it's just that this role — like all the others — inevitably circled back to realizing how wonderful Ruby is. May challenges Ruby to make a decision, but instead of being the catalyst for Ruby's growth, May becomes another forgotten side character who does a sudden about-turn regarding her perspective, leaving the group with the contradictory message that Ruby is actually doing her best, she's just a kid, no need to try any harder... everyone who claimed otherwise up until now was mistaken. May is another Cordovin. She's another Qrow. She's another Maria.
Fun fact: we don't even know if Maria is alive right now. That's how little she means to the show!
Actually, wait... anyone remember this nonsense from Volume 7? 
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I was too lazy to change the date.
Moving on, Ozpin's cane turned out to be a stakes obliterating bomb that came out of nowhere, makes no sense logistically — how do battles store energy that only hurts grimm? — yet nevertheless seems to have killed Hazel? It's a disaster of unanswered questions. Similar to the disaster of our two day timeline when, I'm fairly sure, we've had an unnatural number of sunrises and sunsets. I'll have to take a look back at the volume as a whole now that it's complete to be sure of that though. As for our themes... did we really explore the idea of respecting someone even if you disagree with them? Because Ironwood wasn't shown any respect. Ren wasn't shown respect. I think the closest we got was Oscar calmly validating Yang's worry about getting buddy-buddy with Emerald, but the whole point there was that Yang was wrong. She wasn't wrong, but that's what the text would have you believe. She is indeed "very suspicious and distrustful," but that's hardly unjustified in these circumstances. I'm still boggling at the fact that it took the group three volumes for forgive Ozpin, even while he was actively working to assist them, yet I-helped-destroy-Beacon-and-tried-to-kill-everyone-you-love Emerald is the group's new BFF after she... ran away with Oscar? She didn't save him, she just went along for the ride. At the very least we might have gotten a scene where Penny was like, "Hey, why are you all laughing with the woman who just tried to kill my dad?"
But oh yeah, the story doesn't remember Pietro exists either. His daughter is DEAD and he hasn't been on screen since Episode Five, let alone there when she passes.
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I had my own list going in, including such expectations as "Ozpin bb you got done dirty please acknowledge this" and "Queer baiting, queer baiting… you’re on thin ice at this point, RWBY. Just skate on over to the queer snack bar before you fall straight into the lake." Obviously these needs were not met.
So what, given this mess of expectations, did we end up with?
Our finale — for some reason — breaks the one word title trend with "The Final Word." It's an expression that refers to the final word in an argument or a discussion, the idea of winning by making a last, devastating point. It can also refer to making the final decision on something, which is the best way I'm able to apply the title to this episode (outside of any “final” comparisons). Penny's death is certainly all about choice and making some kind of decision... but on the whole, this title doesn't feel like it fits well. Not like "Worthy" or "Creation" or "Risk." The two latter titles had obvious connections to the episode in question through dialogue and plot, while the former was a deliberate callback to Watts' speech. "The Final Word" feels... less obvious in what it’s trying to say.
That's a minor nitpick though. Let's get into the meat of the episode.
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We open on the grimm whale still disappearing, which is weird. I get that it's massively bigger than any other grimm we've seen, but they all turned to dust near instantaneously and it's been, what? At least an hour since Oscar blew it up? Likely longer when we factor in their walk back to the manor, the fight with Ironwood, fixing Penny, and this entire evacuation. It certainly makes for a nice visual, but like so many details in RWBY, it raises unnecessary questions along the way.
The important bit though is that amidst the whale carcass a blob of evil is swirling about. Salem, obviously. 
She’s not reforming in time to actually do anything though, don't worry.
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Instead, we cut to the Ironwood vs. Winter fight and there's at least some dialogue this time. Ironwood yells that he's sacrificed everything to keep Remnant safe. Winter yells back that he actually sacrificed everyone else. Obviously, Ironwood should be called out for things like, you know, his unprompted murders, but instead they have Winter listing stuff that she was never shown to have a problem with before. The embargo? "Squeezed Mantle until it broke?" She, as Ironwood's second hand, understood and supported both the decision to close the border and the need to collect resources for a plan designed to take out Salem. I hate that no only did she turn without an ounce of hesitation or grief, but now they're having her act as if Ironwood forced these decisions on everyone, rather than everyone supporting him through them. We all remember Volume 7 when Ruby pressured him to finish Amity, right? And in trust RWBY fashion, most of these words are meaningless. Mantle "broke"? What does that mean? The class disparity did not come about through Ironwood: that's been in the works for generations. The lack of resources made things harder, yes, but when they were reclaimed by Robyn nothing improved. Watts is the one who turned off the heat and Salem attacked Atlas, leaving Mantle alone. Now, all the citizens have escaped through magical portals. So how is Mantle "broken" exactly? More importantly, why is Winter upset over this vague, nonsensical dilemma when she could be yelling about Ironwood wanting to bomb Mantle?
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Again: this woman watched Ironwood shoot the councilman, shrugged, and continued to believe in him up until she realized his bomb threat was real. That was one of the main reasons why I thought the councilman might be alive, with Ironwood only shooting a warning shot past him. Because this is how you react to a good person unexpectedly killing someone else
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whereas this is what we got from Winter and Harriet.
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Hell, Weiss has more of a reaction to Yang telling Ruby things aren't super great right now.
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So either Ironwood didn't do something that bad, thereby justifying these tame reactions (unlikely, given where his character ended up), or we should believe based on the animation that everyone was super chill with him killing an unarmed civilian. Which is then directly contradicted when they're like, "You're going to shoot Marrow? Bomb a city?? How could you do such horrible things??? 😲" Friends, buddies, fictional pals... you already watched him murder a dude.
The point is, there's a lot for Winter to be upset about, but she's not upset about that. There's a lot that Winter herself believed in, but the writing has forgotten that. This entire arc went off the rails a volume ago.
Also, why is Ironwood fighting with that giant gun? This is his final battle, presumably ever, and he's wielding this awkward, sluggish weapon we saw him randomly pick up two episodes ago? Let him use his regular guns! Give us a fantastic battle like he had with Watts! Instead, RWBY's final showdown consists of him using this no-name weapon as a unwieldy club in some of the most boring choreography we've seen to date. It doesn't help that this fight needs to share time with three others. Instead of an epic showdown, we're given glimpses of the battle before continually cutting away from it. 
During that first cut we return to the Team RWBY battle where Penny, doing her best to stay out of Cinder's reach, is whisked away on Weiss' wasp.
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Too bad she didn't do that for Yang...
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Jaune and Nora watch this horror unfold until Jaune says, "Priority one!" and they split. Except... what is priority one exactly? Helping the civilians? I guess, because they don't enter the fight until the very end of it, when everyone else seems to have made it to Vacuo. And you know what, I like that. For once it feels like the group — or at least the B Team — is acting like huntsmen, putting the needs of the people over their own, personal desires. I'm sure Nora wants to help the group after Yang's (presumed) demise and that Jaune would like nothing more than to get his hands on Cinder, but they put those grievances aside to do the work they signed up for. Good job!
My only real gripe is that we don't really see this struggling in the animation, I'm just assuming it's there. In particular, there's a moment when Jaune sends Nora through the portal for reinforcements — not knowing they can't return — and they seem a little too jovial when, by this point, three friends have died.
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There's letting your cast be supportive, and then there's having them ignore that three teammates have perished in an abyss. It really doesn't help to sell the idea that Yang, Ruby, and Blake are in any danger here.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Penny tells Weiss that since Cinder is really just after the Maiden powers, she can buy the rest of the group time to escape. Weiss, obviously, isn't fond of this idea... and then the both of them are blasted off the wasp by Cinder's fire. Which they deserve, frankly. They're just having this casual conversation about sacrifice while in the middle of a battle. Did they somehow forget that Cinder can fly too?
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Note that multiple attacks from Cinder, another blast, and a hard landing on the pathway gives their auras a knock, but doesn't break them. The primary defense for Yang's aura shattering in a single, simple hit was that everyone is exhausted and running on little to no power... yet here the rest of the cast is, tanking multiple hits as we've come to expect. There is no explanation for Yang's defeat except that the writers chose to ignore the rules of their world for a dramatic death scene... even though that drama was erased a week later as half our team falls into the void too.
We'll get to that though. For now, Cinder corrects Penny's belief with "I want it all" and proceeds to try to finish them off, only for Blake to arrive, having made her choice from last episode about who to help. It's a legitimately nice attack, but I happened to pause at the bEST MOMENT
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Anyway.
We leave that fight to return to Qrow and Harriet who have, off screen, started an entirely different battle. What I mean is, last we saw Qrow had broken through the windshield of the airship, roughly pinned Harriet, and was taunting her about getting the fight she wanted. Now, suddenly, he's going “You’re making a mistake, Harriet, what happened to Clover—” as if he's been trying to talk her down this whole time. It's jarring, especially when we consider that Qrow had a volume long "kill Ironwood" arc that was dropped because... Robyn reminded him that murder is bad? RWBY feels like a storytelling pinball machine. Characters bounce from one personality to the next, one perspective and another, round and round until you don't know where they'll end up.
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Harriet screams for Qrow to just shut up already and honestly? Same. I love Qrow, he's one of my favorites, but I can't deny that he's been done dirty like so many others since Volume 6. I love who Qrow was, not the mess RWBY has created the last few years.
Time to delve back into fic after recapping!
Sadly though, this strange dialogue wasn't the only "wtf" moment. Harriet is still trying to drop the bomb — which is its own mess of confusing motivations — when Vine and Elm show up on Harriet's ship. Elm begs Harriet not to do this "because you’re our friend!”
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Am I glad that they finally acknowledged that the Ace Ops have always been friends? Sure, but why did we spend two volumes claiming otherwise? They were friends, a fantastic team, then Harriet announces that's a lie and we get a bunch of "Team RWBY is superior because they're actually friends" messages. Except this entire time we're still watching the Ace Ops be kind and playful with one another. But they're not friends, the story says. Not friends as they fight these battles. Not friends as they grieve for Clover. Definitely not friends as they react in horror at Ironwood nearly shooting Marrow. No, there's nothing there... until Elm claims there is! Then Harriet reacts in shock. I have friends?
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Except Elm was labeled the one "just following orders" by Yang. Elm is the one who shook off Vine after the whale exploded. This isn't the story of one character, Harriet, thinking she was alone and then realizing that people do care for her, this is a story that, seemingly at random, had this group being BFFs or acting like they hated each other — and at each point the visuals are contradicted by the story's message. When they act like friends, we're told they're not friends. When they don't act like friends, we're told they really have been this whole time. I mean, do any of them even care that Marrow teamed up with Qrow and Robyn to take them out five minutes ago? All three were going along with Ironwood's scheme until they were physically stopped, but now Elm is convinced this is a bad decision she needs to talk Harriet down from with the power of friendship?
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None of these characters are characters, they're just slapped together reactions based on whatever the plot needs. Who is Elm? I've got no clue. Her personality changes every episode.
Also, love that Qrow moves to stop the bomb from dropping and Harriet screams at him to "Get out of the way!" rather than just... attacking him? She even throws her hands out like she's having a temper tantrum. This feels like schoolyard bickering, not a life or death struggle.
Even though, you know, the audience is aware that the people of Mantle have already been evacuated and Qrow's group is aware that Atlas is falling on top of Mantle as they speak, so... why does the bomb matter? It's going to, what? Destroy the city thirty seconds before Atlas does? Oh no, the horror.
Things then, if you can believe it, get even worse. The bomb is still about to drop, so instead of doing anything to stop it — I mean seriously, we know it takes four people to shoulder the bomb's weight, but you're telling me Qrow and a reformed Harriet can't snag it in a pinch? — Qrow sits there, looks at Clover's pin... and the bomb careens towards the side of the airship instead, stopping.
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Because I guess Qrow has good luck now? Or always did and somehow never noticed it? Or his semblance evolved?? Again, we don't know, but it's a bad moment any way you slice it, imo. Qrow has always been defined as the guy with a bad luck semblance and, much like Penny's android struggles, the allure was in watching him overcome those challenges, not having the show erase the challenge entirely. Especially when we don't even understand how it was erased. Qrow just... stops drinking, stops caring for Ironwood, stops wanting to kill Ironwood, stops causing bad luck, I guess. RWBY takes major character traits and flips them off like a light switch, leaving the audience with no emotional tether. We didn't watch Qrow overcome his drinking, or realize he can't bear to kill Ironwood, or discover a way to live life with the horrible hand he was dealt, he just blinks one day and those things are gone. Why? No one is sure. Not even the writers, I'd wager, because otherwise they would have written explanations into the text.
Many in the fandom insist that any basic information provided by the story amounts to "hand holding" when in fact there is a massive difference between the sort of unnecessary exposition that bogs down a tale, and having facts enough for the audience in its entirety to be on the same page about what is actually happening. For example, recently someone argued strongly that the "Penny is human" take is incorrect because Penny isn't human, she has an inhuman body made entirely of aura... yet where in the world does this exist in the story? Ambrosius may have been unsure about what Penny would be prior to removing her robotic parts, but that ambiguity is gone once her body forms, the equivalent of worrying about that gun only for a flag with 'BANG' to appear instead of a bullet. Worrying about something doesn't mean that something actually occurred. Penny appears human, expresses human sentiments, and then, this episode, dies as a human. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck and succumbs to the mortal peril that all ducks face... it's probably a duck. As I said in a recent ask, I implore the fandom to stop writing RWBY's scripts for them. Or rather, do so in some amazing fanfics. Don't do it on critical posts as a means of insisting that your revision is canon.
So Qrow has good luck now, maybe, but this character change doesn't amount to anything because Watts remotely starts the bomb's countdown.
At least he’s entertaining and competent. We had that for a time. 
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Back to the main battle, Neo is kicking Ruby's ass. Why? Because there's no consistency in power levels in this show. The ancient woman who hasn't fought in decades dances circles around Neo, highlighting how weak she supposedly is, yet now Neo dances circles around our main character. None of us should expect fights to follow the logic of the world, only what drama the plot wants to stir up. Ruby is eventually knocked down from a hard hit — yet her aura's intact! — and is saved at the last second by Weiss tossing Neo into one of the portals. 
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Far more of a problem than the power leveling is that Ruby gives no indication here that Neo just murdered her sister. Again, that's what the characters are meant to believe, yet Ruby is as stoic as she would be fighting a bunch of White Fang grunts. If you showed this scene to a RWBY fan on its own and asked, "What do you think happened prior to this?" the answer would be, "Uh... nothing? Ruby is just fighting Neo like she did on the airship in Volume 3." Nothing about this scene — from dialogue to animation — sells the idea that Ruby just lost the person most important to her in the world.
When we do finally mention Yang, it's Weiss who goes, “Come on, we have to do this for Yang” and the delivery is... meh. Honestly, I normally don't pay much attention to the voice acting, but I had a problem with most of Weiss' lines this episode. The "Leave her alone!" during this fight and later a "Get back!" as she attacks Cinder both fell really flat for me. Given the devastation and charged emotion that's supposed to be here, we can't give her anything better than generic cries that, again, she’d throw at any grunt? In that later scene the animation absolutely helps sell Weiss' distress, but the dialogue is common and the delivery has no emotional punch, leaving it feeling like Yang is just hanging out in Vacuo and they promised they'd beat the baddies before catching up with her. No one but Blake is acting like Yang died.
In fact, we see more emotion from Ruby when Weiss shoves her back, taking the brunt of Cinder's blast.
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Weiss' aura breaks, not that that's a danger or anything. Everyone falls before they're injured, Winter gets the Maiden powers, Ren barely has to fight. Losing aura in this show used to be a moment of peril, where just last volume Winter was bruised, bleeding, and now needs an assistive device because she had to continue a battle with no aura. Now it's a joke. Aura breaks left and right across the volume with no repercussions attached to that.
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We see a bit of the Blake and Penny vs. Cinder fight where Cinder blasts Blake off the edge. Penny rushes after her because at least one character remembered that they can fly.
Ruby, meanwhile, remembers that she can fly when it benefits her. After getting hit down onto a lower level and watching Crescent Rose plummet, she taunts Neo into an attack with a move that's actually quite good. I like the confidence with which Ruby riles her up and I like the strategy of darting behind Neo to knock her off the path instead. “Whatever you wanted, I hope it was worth it."
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The only thing I don't like is that this speed and ingenuity had to disappear to justify Yang falling.
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Cinder breaks Ruby's aura from behind though, sending her over too and grabbing onto Neo's leg. In an obvious moment born of the trope, it looks as if Cinder is reaching to help Neo, only for her to snag the Relic instead. “You should have never threatened me," she tells Neo and to Ruby: "you should have never been born.” 
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Love that they erased all that cool growth from last episode! And by "love" I mean "hate." As I said last recap, I'm not going to pretend that Cinder's character isn't riddled with problems, but realizing she was stronger by teaming up with Neo and Watts was one of the best things they've ever done for her. It made Cinder dangerous again and showed Watts' speech having a clear impact. It also made her more entertaining, creating a new dynamic among the three villains. Now though, Cinder is just... Cinder. The same boring, stupid Cinder we've had since Volume 4. She betrays Neo and then later betrays Watts.
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So Cinder kicks Neo and Ruby both over the edge because why would we want to make her interesting? Neo falls, but Ruby has friends there to catch her! Unlike Yang. Jk. Weiss’ aura is gone and Blake actually tried both times, so major kudos for her. Using momentum supplied by Penny, she snags Ruby and hooks her weapon into one of the pathways... only for Cinder to cut the ribbon. Both plummet and once again Penny has a more believable reaction to all this, just like she did last week
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Speaking of reactions, does anyone else find it weird that Cinder finally succeeded in killing Ruby and... doesn’t seem to care? 
No? Just me? 
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At least we get that good animation with Weiss I was talking about before, even if the dialogue is lacking. I love that she snagged Blake's weapon and uses it to try and take out Cinder, shaking the whole time. Those are some great details. 
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Back to the bomb, Qrow is trying to escape, but Harriet says there isn't enough time to get out of the blast range. "I've killed us all." Vine has the solution though, using his semblance to wrap up the airship, thus containing the blast when it goes off. His final words are to reassure Elm that he can give his life, "if it means saving all of my friends." Just in case you missed the part about the Ace Ops being super close this whole time. Even though they also weren’t. Trying to eat your cake too, RWBY? 
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Frankly, I didn't feel much of anything during this scene, not when Vine made the sacrifice, nor when Elm and Harriet look on sadly while Robyn pilots them away (that's her contribution this episode). 
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All I can say is, good on RWBY for not killing one of the three dark skinned characters, or just murdering the Ace Ops as a whole. What the story is going to do with them though, who knows.
Jaune and Nora have that ‘You can do it!’ moment after three of their friends have presumably been killed. I swear, about 80% of Jaune's scenes do not work tonally and oh boy, things only get worse from here.
First though, I like his entrance. He slams into the fight against Cinder and lines up with Penny and Weiss, who is still dual-wielding her and Blake's weapons. That's an epic shot.  
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It looks as if they stand a decent chance against Cinder — Weiss' lost aura notwithstanding — except then Cinder's arm starts going crazy and she gleefully announces that Salem has returned.
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Working on a time limit now, Cinder unleashes a volley of attacks that Penny steps in to protect the other two from. It's here that Cinder grabs hold with her grimm arm.
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It's here that Penny dies. Again.
For the third time.
Friends, I am tired. This moment honestly deserves the most epic of rants, but that, in turn, requires energy. Energy? In this economy? Ha! That's hilarious. Taking this seriously though, the problem here can — as usual — be boiled down to a single question: What was the point?
Penny died in a horrible attack that shook the cast and audience both to their core.
That emotional impact was erased through her resurrection.
The resurrection did not create a new emotional impact for our heroes to grapple with.
Penny is given the Maiden powers, solidifying the fact that she's always been a "real girl."
That lesson was erased when the story decided to make her human for unexplained reasons (because no, she never needed to be human to survive the virus).
Penny then dies, passing the power to Winter... who was set to get the power in the first place.
We have, once again, come full circle. You can take Penny out of the story and nothing changes. Does Ruby lose any lessons or emotional growth? No. Does anyone survive who would have otherwise died? No. Does her getting the powers lead to someone unexpected snagging them upon her death? No. Penny's existence was filler. She was put in the story to take up time and, that done, was removed from the story once again. It's a choice that wouldn't be half as horrible if that filler hadn't done so much damage along the way.
First is the obvious: that Penny didn't deserve this. As a character, she didn't deserve to be brought back just to be killed off again, seemingly without narrative purpose, serving only to draw in viewers who RT knew loved the character. Second, keeping her in the story led to her entire arc unraveling. Initially, Penny died as an android in the world's eyes, but those who actually knew her — Ruby and Pietro — mourned the girl she really was. Now we have this horrible message that being a machine isn't real enough, so she has to die as a human being. It's a disservice to her character and, as an allegory for many minorities, downright insulting to the audience. Third, this offensive 'better to die as a human than live as a robot' message is wrapped up in the claim that Penny finally gets to choose something — “Let me choose this one thing. Trust me” — but she already did that when she chose to take the Maiden powers. We already had the better written version of this last volume!
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And the fourth issue...well.  
Fourth and fifth are the real kickers. Fourth is that Penny's death was an assisted suicide. She explicitly asks Jaune to kill her so she can ensure she's thinking of the right person when she passes (never mind that her thoughts would probably be on Jaune while this is happening) and that's... pretty horrible. Look, I'm no purist. I like a great deal of dark, gritty stories whose plot exists to make us uncomfortable. That's a valuable emotion that fiction can generate. The problem is not that RWBY is tackling a sensitive topic, but that they aren’t tackling it well. Yes, they put in a content warning and (from what I've heard) a suicide helpline as well, but providing the already necessary resources is not the same thing as writing that kind of scene with respect and care. All of the above tells us that, no matter what RT may have intended, that respect and care weren't communicated to the audience. Like Yang, they didn't even bother to keep Penny's death within the rules of their world. Jaune is right there ready to heal her and Penny says no, there's supposedly not time.
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Um... since when?
Jaune's aura boost is instantaneous. The second he amplifies aura is the same second the healing starts and their talk could have been spent saving Penny. There was certainly time to save Weiss in Volume 5. To have a character go, 'Nah, it's too late' when the solution is right there is the ultimate cop-out. Suddenly announcing that the solution will no longer work For Reasons is not a legitimate limitation and it's made doubly insulting that RT didn't simply use the limitations already available to them. Jaune has been running low on aura since the whale. He then expended a great deal of aura boosting Penny to keep the virus in check. Every other ally has had their aura broken in this fight so, there. That's your solution. Have Jaune take a few hard hits from Cinder, his aura breaks, and then when Penny is mortally wounded he no longer has a semblance to heal her. It's that easy! Yet instead they had Penny reject help so that she could ask to die. That's what's offensive here.
Finally, reason number five... why is this moment given to Jaune? That's another easy solution: Jaune has gone through the portal and can't get back to heal Penny. There. Done. But logistics aside, this scene should have gone to any other character. Who is Jaune to Penny? Or Penny to Jaune? No one! They don't have a relationship. I get that the writers didn't want any of the girls at her side because then it would be hard to justify Penny not passing the power to them (which I get: making one team member a Maiden changes the show drastically), but you know who should be there instead of Jaune?
Pietro.
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Pietro, who built Penny as a weapon and who was never given the chance to apologize for that. Pietro, who told Ruby he could only rebuild her once more, setting up an expectation that he'd sacrifice himself for his daughter (despite the complicated racial issues that would bring up). Pietro, who watched Penny plummet and has no idea what happened to her, let alone that she's been made into a human girl. Pietro should have been at her side, saying goodbye to his child and helping her complete her last wish.
And it would be so very easy to pull off. All it takes is a single line where Penny remembers that her father exists, asking Ruby to ensure a portal opens up in Amity. There's a quick reunion along the pathways before Cinder attacks. We hear a cry of despair as Penny falls and she looks, seeing her father racing towards her, though she thought he'd already made it out. There, you’re done. We open ourselves up to a lot of attacks whenever we say, "Why didn't RWBY just do ____?" because those who vehemently defend the writing like to go, "Oh, you think you could write RWBY better?" and no, I don't. I struggle with long-form storytelling and massive casts. I don't think I could do justice to the sort of show RWBY wants to be, but I do think I'm a decent enough writer to spot when there are major problems like this. The question of "Why doesn't Penny remember that her beloved dad exists?" and "Why, out of that massive cast, is Jaune the one to do this deed?" are both things that a newbie writer can spot, and a sometimes okay writer can figure out how to fix them both simultaneously. A good writer will start thinking about themes — what might it mean for Pietro to kill the creation he made? — and a great writer will find a way to pull that off without having that insulting, discomforting feeling pop up. At this point, our RWBY crew feels less like new writers making mistakes (because they're not new, not at all), but rather just writers who haven't bothered to learn from their mistakes after eight years. That's a lot harder to watch.
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Because putting Jaune here doesn't just mess with RWBY's internal rules (not using his semblance) and it's not just useless in terms of Penny's development (she doesn't know him outside of "dude who boosted my aura for an hour"), but it also falls back into a pattern I thought RWBY had finally broken from: making Jaune the story's emotional center. This is not the JAUNE show. It's the RWBY show. Yet here, once again, we have Jaune in the spotlight. Why, after a whole volume of Ruby avoiding making decisions, does Jaune finally make the hard call? Why, after a scene where Penny asked Ruby to kill her, does Jaune do that deed? Why, after a divisive arc where all the grief for Pyrrha went to Jaune, is Jaune now set to shoulder the grief of Penny? At least Jaune had a relationship with Pyrrha, even if Nora and Ren did too. Yet with Penny he seems to be there solely because the writers can't bear to keep him out of that center spot for long. All of Team JNOR make it through to Vacuo... except Jaune. Jaune falls into the abyss too because, if the show goes this route, we apparently can’t have a volume just about Team RWBY, the main characters. The main characters are separated from the rest of the team and it's Jaune, not Oscar and Ozpin with a connection to the lore, not Nora or Ren whose development now hinges on them learning who they are without the other, it's Jaune who follows the title characters into a new dimension. 
The issue is not whether Jaune deserves to grieve over the truly traumatic thing he just did now that he’s done it. He obviously does. The issue is the writers setting up a scenario where Jaune is situated to do that emotional work in the first place. 
I like Jaune as a character. I don't like how the writing uses him as a character. RWBY is built on the idea that these four girls are the heroes of this tale, not the expected blond, blue-eyed, sword wielding guy we’ve seen in so many other stories. So why does that guy get the most important scene of the finale? Yes, Jaune had much less screen time this volume than he did in the past, that’s a good thing given the number of important characters RWBY has to balance, but that hasn't erased the problem of him being given significant moments that should be going to title characters. Does Ruby’s team rescue Oscar and take on Salem? No, Jaune's team does. Does Ruby's team save Penny? No, Jaune's semblance keeps her grounded and then holds the virus off. Not everything is a problem — we've also got good choices like having Ruby defeat the Hound and Ruby's team take on Cinder for the majority of the fight — but that doesn't erase that Penny’s death wasn’t something Jaune should have been a part of. Not unless he was going to heal her. Doing better than they have in the past doesn't mean that RT isn't still slipping when it comes to giving him undeserved focus.
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They took one of the most controversial characters, controversial because of how much emotional focus he's gotten in the past, and had him help a fan favorite commit suicide while he cried about it, showing more emotion for a near stranger than our title character showed for her sister. This is a character who, up until two or three episodes ago, had no connection to the victim and still has no reason to thematically be the one committing this act. That is why the fandom goes, “The crew loves Jaune and does everything they can to put him in the center of the action.” Ruby, as main character and Penny’s first friend, is the obvious choice here. Pietro, as Penny's father, would be a good choice too. Hell, Nora is a better option given their moment in the Schnee manor this volume. Or Winter given their moments in Volume 7! Have her escape Ironwood, find Penny, receive the powers, and then finish him off. Literally anyone would be better than Jaune, not because Jaune is a bad character, but because Jaune has no emotional stakes here and putting him in a position where he could heal Penny but doesn’t is massively stupid. No one should be surprised that a lot of the fandom is upset about this. It was one hell of a reach to give him this moment and, since Jaune's problem has always been getting too much screen time and emotional nuance compared to our main cast, it's no wonder this act brought up a lot of bad memories. RT fell back into an old pattern after two volumes of improvement and they did so at the worst possible time. 
The tl;dr is that Penny's third death is a writing travesty, just like her second. I shouldn't be surprised, given that this is the same volume that tortured a kid and the only thing they did with it was have him blindly trust his torturer... yet I find myself surprised nonetheless. Because Penny had such potential as an android Maiden and, as much as I personally hated it, potential as a former android learning to be human too. But why explore any of that when you can kill her off instead? Again.
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As a final, far smaller note about this scene, we have the continuing problem of what purpose Cinder's arm is serving. If everyone recalls, its threat comes primarily from the fact that she can "siphon off" power from other Maidens.
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She did it to Penny during the Amity battle and now she does it again, a great deal of green energy absorbed into Cinder. So what's left to give to Winter? Why doesn't Cinder become noticeably stronger with each successful theft? Like so much else in RWBY, we're told it exists without actually seeing the impact of that. Winter isn't a weaker Maiden for having lost power and Cinder isn't a stronger Maiden for having snagged it. It's just.. there, hanging out and looking vaguely menacing, I guess.
Outside of this unnatural not-transfer, we get to see how the power normally passes as Penny meets with Winter in some in-between place. It's a soft, heartfelt scene... with the exception that Winter says, “You were always the real Maiden at heart. I was just the machine. Just following orders."
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I don't know how any viewer can doubt that RT now believes machinery = evil. Penny's machine body is magicked away so she can be a real-real girl. Yang announces that the arm she worked hard to make a part of herself is just "extra." The man with half a metal body is made this volume's villain and losing his second arm is, by the authors' own admission, a symbol of his lost humanity. Mercury with two metal legs remains a bad guy while Emerald and Hazel are hastily redeemed. Tyrian with his cybernetic tail is the most devoted crazy of the bunch. Maria, blind and in need of assistive lenses, is so forgotten by the story she was left in the tundra nine episode ago and won't be mentioned again until next volume (if then). Pietro, the guy in the wheelchair, is forgotten too, despite it being his daughter who dies on screen.
Now Winter, also bearing an assistive device, says that she's the real "machine" here and tells Penny, now human, that she was always the "real Maiden." I don't know what happened to make RT do a 180 lately, but the disability rep is no longer what it was.
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Penny reassures Winter that she'll always be a part of her and then passes on, for good this time.
The rest of the episode feels lackluster, if I'm being honest. Images of Cinder beating Weiss are intercut with Ironwood beating Winter, getting her to a point where her aura breaks. 
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But then the powers appear and, as we'd expect, she easily turns the tide. 
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Gorgeous animation there. 
But RT once again rewrites earlier scenes by having Ironwood claim that the "destiny" he chose for Winter has finally arrived — isn't that Cinder's MO? — and Winter shoots back that he chose nothing, this was a "gift." Except, it was never about destiny or orders? This was why Weiss' anger in Volume 7 was ridiculous. She acted like Ironwood forced Winter to accept the powers and Winter told her point blank she chose this. Ironwood didn't decide anything, he offered and Winter chose... kind of like how Penny is choosing now. I hate how nearly all of Ironwood's character has been ignored or, during times like this, outright lied about to make him seem super duper evil. He tried to bomb a city! You don't need to make him seem evil anymore, that job is done! Like their sudden change regarding disability, RT now seems to be allergic to nuance. Heaven forbid Ironwood be allowed to have valid points like he did in Volume 3. No, if you've got an antagonist every single thing they've ever said must be twisted into a display of their evilness.
Unless you're Hazel, who Oscar trusts for #reasons. Unless you're Emerald, who the group immediately embraces. Unless you're Cinder, who gets to cry on a rooftop and secures the trust of her allies long enough to betray them again.
But Ironwood? Nah, screw that guy.
Salt aside, the fight is pretty boring. Winter literally just throws up a wall of ice and Ironwood's blast rebounds, taking him out.
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Winter flies through the portal and we return to Jaune. His sword is broken by Cinder, so weapons should be quite the problem in Volume 9. 
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There's a bit of sword vs. sword Maiden battling — this episode really pulled heavily from both Volume 3 and 5's finales — before Cinder gets smart again and attacks Weiss, currently trying to escape with Jaune. Weiss goes right off the edge and Winter isn't able to reach her in time. That's the entirety of Team RWBY, lost to the magical void.
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Kudos to Winter's VA and the writing here though. This feels like an appropriate reaction to losing a sister. Screaming, sobbing, falling to her knees and beating the floor... Ruby, take notes.
A roar sounds through all the portals though, the sort of roar a pissed off witch might give. Jaune convinces Winter they need to leave Cinder behind, but before they can escape Cinder... makes a new wish?
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Look, it works on all the major fronts. Cinder has the staff, check. We've basically established that Ambrosius can make an unlimited number of things per era, check. We know the previous thing disappears when a new wish is made, check. My only question is the timing. In all honesty, I'll have to re-watch the scene to be sure, but at the time it felt like the portals began disappearing almost the second Cinder left. Did she really have time to summon Ambrosius, deal with his explanatory nonsense, and get him to make a new wish without any fiddly concerns? Sure, fire is just fire, but it still felt like way too much happening too fast off screen.
Either way, the portals are gone and Winter makes it through in time, but Jaune does not. He falls through the void along with Team RWBY. And Neo.
Neo is the only addition I'm looking forward to here.
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We get a few shots of our other characters as Winter arrives, saving the day by taking her grief out on the grimm. So glad something came of Ren breaking his aura again! Maybe they'll be more fighting at the beginning of Volume 9? If we see any of this group outside of 9's finale. My worst fear right now is that we'll spend an entire season away from the main action — remember how I said it would be stupid for Team RWBY to go on a side adventure while Salem is attacking the world? — and when they return there will have been some major time skip. Salem has destroyed most of Remnant, only pockets of survivors remain, it's all dark and dystopian... and oh look, every bit of character development happened off screen. How did Nora discover who she is without Ren? She did it while Team RWBY was gone. That merge we've been teasing for five years? That happened while you were gone too and, btw, Ozpin has ceased to exist. So sad, right? Not that anyone will actually mourn. Just take comfort in the fact that his last line was an "Oh no" about Ambrosius and his last major scene was apologizing for how the group treated him. Emerald's redemption? Off screen. Winter's grief? Off screen. Any and every one of these challenging beats to tackle can be waved away with, "We went through that arc while you were lost in the magical realm. Just get to know our new, improved selves now!"
Please, oh writing gods, don't let that happen.
Though I do worry because my last prediction came true.
But we all knew we’d end up here. My current theory? The portal should still be open at the vault. Winter will fight Ironwood, escape through it, and it will close right before he escapes too. He’ll fall with Atlas and everyone will act as if it’s some beautiful, poetic justice for him to perish with the city. 
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Ironwood didn't make a break for the portal — too busy being unconscious — but we got everything else. Winter left him, he falls with Atlas, and this is some poetic justice, I guess. Really, it's just an undignified death. I'd hoped for a sympathetic kill, something that showed the characters still cared about him even if they knew Ironwood had to be stopped. Baring that, I'd hoped for an epic battle that took him out with style. Instead, no one even bothers to kill him. Ironwood is now beneath the entire cast, not even worth finishing off. Winter casually tosses his blast back at him and leaves. Cinder throws out a "that's checkmate" and leaves. I don't think Salem even looks at him. Ironwood (presumably) dies with no one and nothing, just a casualty of the city Team RWBY made fall. And I say "presumably" because the audience isn't even given the satisfaction of being sure he's passed on. Like Hazel, Ironwood's death is this weird, ambiguous moment that, based on the other character reactions, isn’t meant to be ambiguous. Is he dead? Most likely. Is it possible, based on what we've seen, that he'll pop up two volumes later like
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Yes and, memes aside, that sucks. I don't want to be wondering for the next couple years if Ironwood survived and if they'll bring him back just to drag his character through the mud again. Move on.
But no, we don't even get that.
I've spoken at great deal about Ironwood both in these recaps and on my blog more generally. Last week, I said I'd covered it all and there was no need to rehash it all again. I stand by that, so let me just conclude this travesty with a final note: if your bad guy's final moment is using the last of his strength to point a gun at the actual villain of this story, and you don't realize the problem of how this image contrasts everything else the story has insisted about his character? … I just don't know what to do with that.
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Oh, actually, final-final note: Ironwood’s semblance is officially a Schrodinger's semblance. It is both canonical and noncanonical simultaneously. Wooo. 
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Cinder tells Salem she used her wish to "add more flames to the first of Atlas" and we cut to Watts, trapped in a roaring fire, unsuccessfully trying to break his way out. Wow, I hate that too! Next to Tyrian, Watts was our last remaining, entertaining villain. He carried a lot of the last two volumes and, I had hoped, was going to add some bright spots to the coming volumes as well. Apparently not.
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Just another waste.
In addition to this casual, second murder of her ally, Cinder successfully convinces Salem that Neo killed Ruby and Ruby used the Lamp's last question, but she's back in her good graces since she snagged the Relics anyway. “You’ve done well, Cinder. Our work here is done" and they leave, blasting off like a less cool Team Rocket as Atlas plummets into Mantle.
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Let's spend a second to tally things up then, shall we? What happens if Ruby, instead of throwing a moral fit, says, "You're right and we never should have lied to you, or betrayed you. But we want to help now. You get the Relics and the Maiden to safety in Atlas, if you can, we'll defend the people of Mantle"?
Well, they can still tell the world about Salem and call for help, much more easily now since Ironwood would likely just give them the code rather than them needing to spend an episode stealing it.
The Staff at least may not have ended up in Salem's hands and the group could have actually focused on getting the Lamp back (also solved if they'd been smart and just put it in the vault to begin with).
Mantle would still have been safe because Salem was never interested in Mantle to begin with.
Atlas wouldn't have fallen.
Ironwood wouldn't have died.
Penny wouldn't have died.
Even Vine wouldn't have died!
Our heroes unambiguously made the situation worse. Rather than banding together with their allies to fight the real enemy, Salem, they pushed until they made enemies of Ironwood and the Ace Ops both. Then they asked for help — which a pinch of logic said would never arrive — and twiddled their thumbs waiting for it. When it was clear none would come they...did nothing. They sat around, upset that the people were in danger, but not willing to do anything about it. It's only when one of their own, Penny, is threatened that they kick into high gear, hitting on a solution that they could have posed to Ironwood from the very start if no one liked the fly away plan. Yet instead of taking a few minutes to brainstorm other ideas — doing anything other than denouncing Ironwood to the rest of the group and attacking the Ace Ops — they spent two days sitting around, fixing minor messes they’d helped to create, then rushed through the portal plan, messing up the wish and stranding an entire kingdom in a sandstorm, with only Winter now to protect them from grimm.
Fantastically done, team. 
The villains won, yes, but not because the villains were smart and compelling. Watts' hack on Penny and the heat petered out to nothing and Salem... well, she sat around for the whole volume, expending energy only to torture Oscar and try to (unsuccessfully) stop some escapees. Neo and, miraculously, Cinder did the most damage, but only in the final hour, with this "damage" being that our characters fall into a void that we now know looks remarkably like a paradise! Everything bad that happened was a result of our heroes being stupid and stubborn. That's a compelling story to tell... but RT isn't trying to tell it. Our heroes caused so much damage, yet that damage goes unacknowledged — or worse, ignored into silence like with Ren — and everything else is waved away with the magic wand the series claims isn't there. The cold doesn't kill anyone. Oscar has no problems walking off the torture. Nora hops back out of bed. Ruby one-shots the Hound. The civilians lost to the void must have survived too. The entire kingdom successfully makes it to Vacuo... unless you count the massive army we never saw making use of the portals, but who cares about them, right?
The villains won, there was indeed something resembling consequences, but none of it was emotionally satisfying. Not even when the series tries so hard to insist that emotion is there.
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Qrow watches Atlas fall, mouthing Ruby and Yang's names, but it's too little, too late. Where was this care for his nieces when he was obsessed with killing Ironwood? When did they care about him? Was it when Ruby shrugged at his arrest, when neither cared that he was missing, or when they were designing an escape plan that didn't include putting a portal where Qrow could reach? RWBY markets itself around the found family-ness of its cast, but they're done a poor job in recent volumes (not others) of convincing me that most of these characters care for one another. We went from Ruby denouncing all adults, to Ruby pulling an Ozpin with Ironwood, to Ruby watching blandly as her sister falls to her presumed death. This is my hero? This is the simple soul we're supposed to rally behind? Ruby doesn't feel like a character who cares about other people anymore and, given that she leads the charge, neither do most of her friends. Or, when that emotion appears, it's jarring and undeserved. Jaune cries over Penny's death? That's tonally and characteristically backwards.
This volume was the culmination of so many mistakes over the past two years. No, Covid couldn't have made things any easier for the crew — the fact that they got a volume out at all is amazing — but the pandemic isn't to blame for the problems in the story. These seeds have existed since Volume 5, with some (like Jaune) going back even farther. I don't think we're ever going to get that flawed, but emotionally fulfilling RWBY back. The show has dug too deep and unless it somehow manages to create a clean slate — those time travel ideas get more and more alluring! — there's nothing they can do but keep on digging. At this point, I can only hope that the series does wrap up within the next two volumes, rather than dragging RWBY to a Supernatural-esque length.
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Our final shot of the episode proper feels fitting for what this volume has been. Atlas and Mantle flood rather than exploding, something that makes a certain amount of sense, sure, but definitely wasn't what I was expecting. And after all these shocking images — Penny dying, the grimm attacking, our main characters disappearing in a puff of gold dust — we end it all with bits of random debris. It's strange and underwhelming. Out of everything you could have done with the options you had, you choose to do this?
Of course, RWBY always has an after-credits scene (RIP Raven's, still amounting to nothing). Here, the sounds of water return to show us a beach. Crescent Rose imbedded in the sand, mirroring its classic pose in the snow.  
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There's a tree. It's a very different kind of tree from what we saw in Volume 6, but the height and shape is nevertheless reminiscent of Light's domain.
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A tree of life, anyone? After all, the group has fallen into a dimension created by a Relic, the gift of Light himself. It certainly seems as if RWBY is heading towards another encounter with the Gods, though what that will look like and how narratively satisfying it will be remains to be seen.
As for our bingo board, RWBY certainly pulled its weight! Only three squares got gold stars: Watts and Jacques didn't manage another team up because both are dead, Oscar didn't apologize for getting shot because he was too busy being tortured, and Qrow didn't drink likely because he didn't have access to any alcohol across the whole volume. Can't say that's a stellar result. The final image is something to behold though lol.
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What a mess.
And on that less than exciting note... we’re done. This has been the volume of desertion, with a large number of fans telling me that they will no longer watch RWBY, but baring something entirely unexpected in my future, I'll be back next volume, for whatever that's worth. It never ceases to amaze me that even one person would give these nonsense recaps the time of day, so in all seriousness: thank you for reading. You rock.
Now go forth and fill the hiatus with great RWBY content!
✌️
106 notes · View notes
tohearandbeheard · 22 days ago
Text
Rufus
It took like an hour to get home. The bus would go over the lake, up the mountain, down the canyon, up the canyon, past that old wood house that looked like it had just sunk into the ground, past that big meadow where there was always a herd of elk, then finally to my stop, which was the second to last. I had missed my stop many times. I would burst out of that rolling cage and make a flying leap over the massive gorge formed by some tiny creek in past years. I loved that jump. Even when Jason’s dad put in a sturdy bridge, it was faster and funner to jump and sink my fingers into the rough weeds on the other side, pull myself up. I’d hop in the car, and we’d wind our way up the Rocky Mountain that was ours, fast as can be, the van or truck shuddering around wide dirt turns made wavy by erosion and speed. 
Then there was home, a white house with evergreen trim, the gravel driveway, the little rock wall and stepstones leading up to the great green porch. The last, a sandstone, was immense. I’d always wondered how my dad had got it there, it was so embedded in the earth it was like it had always been there. I would take those steps in great strides, pouncing on the porch and rounding the railing with a habitat familiarity.
My dad had taken some plywood and boards—I had seen the process, even, and impossibly turned them into a house. By little, he had carved a civilized home out of the wilderness, incrementally. First walls, then heat, then comfort. The house was perched like a roc on the cliffside, overlooking a great slab of granite and a roiling sea of pine trees. I still know exactly what it smells like, the vanilla or butterscotch of the ponderosa, the sour bite of crushed juniper berries. My room towered over it all, with a great window overlooking it. I don’t remember ever having blinds or curtains on that big window, it was always open. It scared me, often, to lay awake at night and see the vast expanse of dark held back by only a pane of glass. The unyielding granite below was like this altar where nightly, howling sacrifices were made, where unseen beasts would tear and cut short each other’s yelps. Have you ever heard a fox cry? It screams, like a child. Sometimes, in the silence before or after the snarling, I would hear the crying, the screaming of a kid lost out in the indifferent mountain winds. I couldn’t tell if it was crying out of fear or what, it was sort of just screaming for the hell of it.
By day, maybe on Saturdays or the long afternoons, I would patrol my domain and catch bugs. Sticks were swords and empires rose and fell in the sandbox. I would have to check in on all my haunts, as if they might disappear without my stewardship. The treehouse was intact, the ladder and the bucket pulley still worked. Pride rock and bed of soft needles in its lee were still there. I’d peer at the different types of lichen, greens and yellows and oranges. The long stretch to the end of the driveway was often a field of wild chamomile and things my mom said were weeds but I thought were good. I’d break apart some decomposing granite—that’s what my dad told me it was—with my bare hands and feel strong, maybe find a piece of mica and pocket it. 
Down I’d descend towards the Fox Trail. That’s what it was called, and it was the deepest and wildest. There was moss growing at the head of it. Moss didn’t grow anywhere else around, so that signaled to me the place was special. The trail itself sloped down, down into the forest, the gnarled trees clasped hands overhead and turned it into a hallowed, hollow promenade. As I remember it, there was fog along the ground and it went on for minutes through the dark, though I am sure that I could never find the real trail, as I remember it. As a reward, at the end of it, someone had put a bench that overlooked a patch of forest. I’d always wondered who put it there—it was never my dad, but some ancient precursor who would sit there and ponder. I never sat, not for long. 
I never saw the fox in the Fox Trail. I wonder why we called it that. Maybe it belonged to him, or maybe the fox was this fey spirit that owned the whole place. I ever saw him unless he really meant me to. His name was Rufus. Rufus would patrol about like I did, though he surveyed much wider territories. He would trot in, down the same trails I did. I’d be playing in the sandbox, maybe, or reading on the porch, and he’d come say hello. Not enthusiastically, mind you, he was always aloof. We’d exchange a glance, two wild things, and maybe nod briefly. It was always magical to see him, a little flowing fire weaving through the trees. He’d come right up on the dark green porch, through the opening in the white railing. Some days, I’d put a board over that opening so I could keep my hamster in as he rolled around his ball. Rufus came and went—in fact, there was once I had left Nicodemus (that’s the hamster) out rolling on the porch and forgotten about him. I came out at night, and poor Nicodemus was having a stroke inside his little yellow ball as Rufus batted it around with an ashen paw. Nicodemus wasn’t cut out for the outside, I reckon.
Rufus, the feral, would come up on the front doorstep and eat slices of smoked ham from my hand. He would snap it up, graciously and gently, flashing white teeth behind black lips. I wondered if he bit and tore at other animals below my window. He’d eat as much as he felt was proper and curl up on the porch, a little fiery wreath. I never tried to pet him. I knew he wouldn’t accept it. To pet him would be to sully our relationship, to imply something egregious. Instead we’d sit, and I’d pretend to be a wild thing and he’d pretend to be a tame thing, contained briefly in the same space by the porch roof and white rails carved out of the mountain forest.
There’s a picture of him somewhere. Rufus. My mum says that there were tons of foxes and I called them all Rufus, but I don’t think she knows. We left that house, eventually. It was sad. We drove to see it once, but other people lived there then. They were using it wrong. They didn’t know about the Fox Trail or the decomposing granite. They probably never even saw Rufus. 
We moved somewhere else, but that place stuck with me, in my heart. Often, usually in the limnal space between awake and sleep, I can conjure it up.  If I listen, the rush of blood through me sounds like the murmur of the breeze through the trees. I can smell the pine and feel exposed to the cold whip of the wind. It feels like the cry of a feral child, a bit like fear and a bit for the hell of it. If I sit still on my dark green porch amidst all that, soon enough a native ember will blow in, on sooty feet and an ink-dipped tail. Aloof and wild, with bright eyes that know me.
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drabbles-mc · 23 days ago
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Up All Night
Nestor Oceteva x F!Reader
Request by @garbinge​: “Meeting the love of your life in a police station does not make for a good story to tell your children, but definitely an interesting one.”
Warnings: the littlest tiniest dash of angst, and Nestor being a softie
Word Count: 1.7k
A/N: Anj sent me this prompt and I immediately got in my soft Nestor feelings. So now you guys get to have him as a dad. I will not be taking any criticism at this time, for I am too busy being soft.
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You heard the front door shut, followed by a very loud sigh from Nestor. You bit back your laugh in an attempt to stay quiet, desperate to not wake the sleeping baby that was cradled in your arms. Rocking slowly in the chair, you waited for him to appear in the doorway. The upside of having a baby that struggled to sleep through the night was that you were usually awake when he got home from work these days.
Like clockwork, within seconds he was leaning against the doorframe. The exhaustion was clearly written all over his face, but despite that he was still smiling at the two of you curled up together on the chair. You smiled over at him, letting out a quiet hum in greeting as you fought to keep your own eyes open.
He walked over, leaning down to press a light kiss to your forehead. His voice was hardly a whisper as he spoke, “Another rough night?”
You gave a tiny shrug, trying not to move too much, “More of the same,” you looked up at him, “What about you? Rough night?”
He shook his head, unable to take his eyes off the little infant in your arms, “Just long. Nothing bad, though.”
“Everyone’s safe?”
He kissed your temple, “Everyone’s safe.”
Seeing that you weren’t ready to get up and try to put her back in the crib just yet, Nestor pulled her small toy chest over and sat down on top of it to join the two of you. He leaned onto the arm of the chair, thumb tracing lightly back and forth over your forearm as both of you looked down at the little bundle of joy in your arms.
“She’s beautiful.”
You let you a quiet chuckle as you nodded, “Remember that when she wakes up crying in another hour or so.”
He leaned over, kissing you on the cheek, “That’s why they make ‘em so cute.”
“Oh? Is it? I thought she just got all my good genes.”
He smiled, “That didn’t hurt.”
You leaned back against the chair as he rested the side of his head against the outside of your arm. The house was silent save for the sounds of your breathing. There was something peaceful about spending the small hours of the morning in the nursery together despite the tiredness that was weighing on both your mind and Nestor’s.
“I want to go lay down,” you whispered, “but I don’t want to risk waking her up.”
He chuckled, “Can’t spend your whole life in the rocking chair,” he looked down at the peaceful expression on your daughter’s face, “Pretty sure she’s out.”
Taking a deep breath, you slowly stand up from the rocking chair. You pause, relief flooding over you when you see her eyes still closed. You slowly walked over to the crib, laying her down. You leaned on the railing of it for a few moments, watching her sleeping soundly. Nestor’s arms wrapped around your waist, chin resting on your shoulder as he joined you. Reaching up, you lightly traced your fingertips along his cheek. He leaned into your touch, humming in approval.
“Ready?” he mumbled against your shoulder.
You nodded, “I think so.”
You walked back to your room, Nestor’s arms still wrapped around you. You laughed softly as he scooped you up and set you on the bed. He changed into an old t-shirt and pair of sweatpants before crawling into bed beside you. He pulled the blanket up over the both of you, pulling you tight against his chest and letting out a deep sigh.
Neither of you fell right to sleep despite the fact that your bodies were begging for rest. You listened to the steady thrum of his heartbeat as his hands massaged circles into the small of your back. Quiet moments with just the two of you were rare and more precious than they’d ever been. He inhaled deeply, squeezing you tight for a moment.
“I love you,” he kissed your forehead.
You smiled into his chest, “I love you too.”
That was all the two of you said, falling back into peaceful, comfortable silence once more. You felt your eyes starting to grow heavy, letting yourself melt into Nestor as you drifted off to sleep. He could feel you leaning more and more of your weight onto him and he took comfort in the sensation, liking that he could feel you pressed to close to him.
Just as he was about to fall asleep as well, the sound of crying came in through the baby monitor. You woke up instantly, sitting straight up in bed as you began to wipe the sleep from your eyes. You went to pull the blanket down off of yourself but Nestor motioned for you to stop.
“I got it,” he leaned in and kissed you, “Get some rest.”
You smiled, flopping back onto your pillow with no hesitation, “Thank you.”
He chuckled quietly to himself as he stood up and made his way out of the bedroom. You listened on the baby monitor and could hear him walking into the nursery. Your eyes drifted shut again but you were still listening intently as the scene unfolded a couple rooms down the hall.
“Hey, now,” he said with a soft smile on his face, “what’s all this about?” he scooped her up and carefully cradled her in his arms, “Hm? What’s wrong?”
He paced around the nursery, swaying slightly as he continued to whisper and coo in an attempt to quiet her cries. He shifted her so that she was laying against his shoulder. Her tiny little hands gripping what they could of the fabric of his t-shirt as her crying slowly but surely began to lessen. He hummed absent-mindedly as he continued to walk around the room. His feet adopted a rhythm without him even realizing it as he gently rubbed her back.
“You’re alright,” he whispered once her crying had quieted, “I’ve got you.”
You hadn’t been able to stay in bed. As quietly as you could manage, you made your way to the doorway of the nursery, watching Nestor get wrapped up with his daughter falling back to sleep against him. She looked so small as she rested against him. Nestor never seemed as comfortable and gentle as when he was holding her.
He turned around, eyebrows raising slightly when he saw you in the doorway. He laughed quietly, “You’re supposed to be sleeping.”
You stepped in, shaking your head with a smile, “Sounded more fun in here,” you walked behind him to get a good look at your daughter’s face and smiled when you saw that she was already falling back to sleep, “You’ve got the magic touch. Think it might be the dancing.”
He chuckled, “I might not have much, but I do have rhythm.”
You laughed, shaking your head, “Sometimes.”
Nestor managed to get her to fall completely back sleep and tucked back away in her crib. He sat down in the rocking chair, motioning for you to come and join him. You laughed softly as you walked over, taking the hand that he offered you as you curled up into his lap. You pulled your knees to your chest and rested your head against his shoulder as he wrapped his arms completely around you. Both of you had your eyes on the crib as Nestor began to make the chair sway slightly.
“Gonna put me back to sleep too?” you asked quietly.
He chuckled, pressing a kiss to the side of your head, “Maybe.”
“You know what I was thinking about the other day?” you asked, not taking your eyes off of your daughter.
“What’s that?”
“What are we going to tell her when she asks how we met?”
He pulled away, looking down at you with a confused look on his face, “What do you mean? We’ll tell her the truth.”
You laughed, “Really? Are you sure you wanna do that?”
“Why not?”
“Being in holding cells next to each other isn’t exactly a sweetheart romance story.”
His lips curled into a smile as they rested against the side of your head, “Meeting the love of your life in a police station may not make for a good story to tell your children, but definitely makes for an interesting one.”
“You going to tell her what you were in for?”
“I’ll tell her what you were in for,” he laughed, “Make sure your daughter knows that her mother used to be a hot-head.”
You smiled, “Used to be?”
“It’s been a while since you’ve gotten in someone’s face. Especially a cop’s. Especially while you’re drunk.”
You chuckled, “That’s fair. That guy deserved it, though.”
“I’m sure.”
You looked up at him, “What were you in for again? Street racing?”
“Yea,” he shook his head, “Me and my brother.”
You laughed, “That’s right. Good thing we both decided to get into trouble that night.”
“Good thing my brother had money to post your bail.”
“Yea. How’d you swing that anyway?”
He laughed, shaking his head, “You really wanna know?”
“I really do.”
“I told him, she’s cute, and she tried to punch a cop in the face. We gotta bail her out. And that was all it took.”
“So you both always had a problem with authority, huh?”
“Yea. You had that in common with us, Miss ‘Drunk & Disorderly’. I remember when they brought you in and threw you in the cell next to ours. Looking like a mess, all pissed off. Pretty sure I was already in love with you by the time they locked the door.”
You giggled quietly, leaning into him. It felt like lifetimes ago, and in a lot of ways it was. So much had changed since then. You took a deep breath as you felt his arms wrap a little tighter around you.  He didn’t talk about his brother very often, but in those soft, quiet moments it felt safe to do so. For a few minutes everything was still just like it was back then—no responsibilities, no extra weight to carry from day to day. You could tell that he was getting lost in it all by the way his breathing changed slightly.
“We did alright,” you whispered, trying to lighten the mood, “for a couple of degenerates. Right?”
You could feel him smiling against you as he nodded, “Yea, I’d say so.”
“We’re gonna have out hands full, aren’t we?”
He laughed, “I’d be willing to bet money on it.”
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misterbitches · 23 days ago
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i feel SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 0h9uagfijojsga i hate hate hate hate hate hate hate it when someone moves something off someone’s face and eats it esp now i guess id ont know i wont let anyone do it ii dont KNOW WHAT IS IS BUT I WAS LIKE NOOOOO NO NO NO NO NO NO???? but it was cute anyways also theer was a good editing moment in ep 4 but i am too tired to think.
their dad sucks.
should i choose to believe that zhen xuan’s s/l is about how data privacy is important, rich people suck, and the cops are bad and also persecute people that are marginalized to the edge and hurts them? punishing mppl for living? i choose to believe that even though im pretty sure it isnt that.
there was good stuff here. i am confused abt the rs in HS and i think it’s true that he needs help. getting help is constant! and with paranoia and self harm you absolutely can go off the rails. even with stuff like anxiety esp OCD i know when i have things i hold on to and have to let go cos it’s literally an ocd tic for me. i really like teh way he is portrayed but idk. i like the actor.
i have a bone to pick with the costume designer abt the pants on both xuan and yi tho. it’s  ugly. 
anyways i hope hes ok. tbh i was scared he was gonna commit skewerslide i know they wouldnt go there but even tho there’s plenty that was correct about what sou yi said it was still harmful. it’s not his fault u were a creep bitch
ah and last but not least and perhaps not actually last. i hate the father did i say that anyway their reunioon was great. it took me um 11 hours from seeing the first svcene until now to finish  but ugh. my chest gets all tight and i want to vomit and that’s how i know it’s good.
controversial i know: i could spend 4eva just watching them together they dont need 2 kiss. when GSD was like looking at the bracelet i was like so ur just...gonna fuck now? or? lmao but yea it’s nice. i NEEEEEEEEED NEED. NEED. NEED. a scene where we go through those emails. ok i dont want them if theyre super sappy and romantic but i feel like thered be some deep shit.
also i love how much shu yi loves him and i love hearing him speak japanese and his dad is going to hell which doesnt exist but it does and hes in it
does anyone know whyyyyy there were images of him sitting in his lap but we didnt get the scene? it’s when theyre in the office with the emails (god, america ruined this word for me forever. i just went EMAAAAIIIIILLLLS if u know u know)  and uhhhhhh another 5 hours of us watching them :)
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julies-butterflies · 23 days ago
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fall out boy knockoff   //    8000+ words, luke - centric, sunset curve gen relationship, julie / luke
( five times luke patterson fell off of something he wasn't supposed to be climbing in the first place... and one time someone caught him )
                                       ( read on ao3 here! )
          i.  free fallin’  —  tom petty (1989)
The first thing Luke says when he sets foot in the garage for the first time is, “Whoa! You’re kidding me, you got a loft!”
Oh,  thinks Bobby, as his friend makes an immediate beeline for the loft ladder.  Oh no. Okay.
He probably should’ve seen it coming, given Luke’s habit of… scaling things. It’s been that way since they were kids, or at least as long as Bobby’s known him. If there’s a ladder, he’ll climb it; a piece of furniture, he’ll jump on it; a solid wall, he’ll use it as his personal backboard. Luke can’t keep from causing troubles. Nine times out of ten, his sort of trouble ends with him on top of — or falling off of — something he shouldn’t be.
Luke sports bruises like trophies. Every one has a story behind it. He tumbles off the backs of couches a lot. Bobby’s had to rescue him from trees. He got stuck inside a McDonalds play place for two hours, because he just couldn’t help himself… not when they were kids, literally last week.
Bobby should have seen the loft obsession coming from the first goddamn second.
“Dude, I don’t know how sturdy that ladder i—“
He’s too late. Luke is already climbing, scrambling up the wooden rings faster than anyone can catch him. He’s nimble and surefooted, every movement charged with inexhaustible energy. No sooner has Bobby taken a step forward, than Luke is already at the top, vanishing into the dusty attic above.
“Bro! You've got all these boxes up here — what are these, a bunch of old records?”
“Quit going through my parents’ stuff.” Bobby doesn’t want to sound like a buzzkill, but with Luke, better safe than sorry. He’s pretty sure his grandpa’s old service rifle is up there — along with a bunch of other priceless war relics that don’t need Luke’s Cheeto-dust fingerprints all over them.
“Does your dad seriously have a  dictionary  collection — oh man! Comic books!”
“Where?” exclaims Reggie, bounding over to the loft railing. At least Alex has the decency to hang back, hands on his pockets as he lingers by the door. When Bobby catches his eyes, he offers an eye roll over the predictability of it all. Give Luke five free minutes, and if he can’t find trouble, he’ll make some; and Reggie will always jump headfirst into the mess, if Luke’s by his side.
“Not you too,” Bobby interjects, his raised voice freezing Reggie halfway up the rickety ladder. “The loft can’t hold two people at once. That’s my parents’ one rule for letting us practice here.”
“I thought that was ‘don’t bother the neighbors’?” says Alex.
“That too. You —“ Bobby points at Reggie, gesturing for him to get down. “Wait your turn."
“Aww, man!” Grumbling, Reggie leaps back onto the ground. Bobby actually doesn’t know if the loft’s too unstable to hold more than one person — it looks sturdy enough, so he doubts it, but his mom’s weird about things. Plus, Luke and Reggie up there at the same time is just asking for trouble.
Of course, trouble will find them anyway. Luke suddenly reappears at the edge of the loft, sticking his head through the railing and leaning perilously far over. “Over here, Reg,” he calls, and Reggie comes running. “Look!”
“Bro!” Bobby and Reggie both shout, in varied tones of enthusiasm, as a hailstorm of comic books rains down from the loft. Reggie scrambles to pick them up, literally bouncing with glee over twenty year old Spiderman editions. Luke grins down on him, arms folded on the railing; Bobby looks for something to lob at his head.
“Those are probably vintage, man! My dad’s gonna freak!”
“Don’t worry,” Reggie says, cradling the comics reverently. “I’ll take good care of them…”
Luke’s laugh rings through the studio, and his total lack of shame is what finally pushes Bobby to his wit’s end. “Luke,  get down!” 
“Dude, I’m just messing around,” Luke exclaims — famous last words. He springs back to his feet, bracing himself against the rickety wooden railing as he leans over the edge. Staring down at their new practice space from above, he’s able to take it all in— probably imagining what it could be, what it will be when they get set up. Bobby can read Luke’s starry-eyes expression too well; he’s so caught up looking at the future, he doesn’t even notice he’s standing fifteen feet in the air, with barely anything to hold him back. 
“This is so fly!” Luke exclaims, throwing his arms out as he braces against the railing.
Something cracks.
“Uh oh,” says Alex.
It’s like watching a train crash in slow motion. The railing doesn’t break, so much as crumple like a piece of paper. One second, Luke’s leaning against solid wood — then there’s nothing but air holding him up, and he’s scrambling for something to hold onto. His arms pinwheel; his legs flail. In a hail of broken wood, he goes down. Reggie, standing underneath, has just enough time to look up, before he’s crushed by 140 pounds of freefalling Patterson.
When the dust settles, it’s all quiet.
Until the rubble shifts around them, to reveal Luke trying to roll off of Reggie like a drunk pillbug.
“Dude,” Reggie moans, “I think you landed on my kidney.”
“I landed on all of you, man.”
“Oh my god,” says Alex, with a tiny, hysterical giggle. “Oh my god.”
Bobby can’t breathe until Luke pulls himself to his feet, hauling Reggie up after him. A cloud of dust and shattered wood billows around them; Luke’s got splinters in his hair, and Reggie’s lip is busted, but they both look no worse for wear.
The same can’t be said for Bobby’s parents’ loft.
“Dude,” Bobby says, in a terrifyingly calm voice.
Luke flashes an awkward smile. “Uhh. I know a really great handyman?”
When Bobby launches himself at him, Luke doesn’t even try to get away.
          ii.  who wants to live forever —  queen   (1986)
Luke is casual about climbing in and out of windows. A frightening level of casual, actually. He seems to see them as alternate doors. More  convenient  doors, when it’s late in the night or there are parents guarding the main entry/exitways. 
He's got a peculiar knack for finding the quickest way in — into people's hearts, into their heads, and into their houses. Even if that way is two stories off the ground, and involves scaling a roof to make it there.
“Dude,” Alex hisses, rushing over to pull open his bedroom curtains. Luke’s face, pressed against the pane, leaves a ghost-like imprint when he pulls away. Moonlight dances in his hair, painting his skin cerulean and lips silver. Teeth like silver bullets gleam in his wide, reckless grin.
Alex fumbles with his window latch, cursing under his breath, before managing to pull it open. “How—“ he starts, then catches himself; it’s past midnight, and his parents expect Alex and his sister to be asleep by ten. “How,” he presses on, in a furious whisper, “did you even get up here? The trellis  broke  last time you climbed it, and I had to make something up about aggressive squirrels.”
“Chillax, Fair Juliet, I didn’t touch your trellis.” Luke is laughing as he tumbles into the room, landing on Alex’s bedroom floor with  way too loud a thud. Alex tenses. Catching his mistake immediately, Luke goes still, eyes widening. They both remain frozen for a minute, until certain no parents have been roused by the noise.
Luke straightens up, manic grin back in place, and claps Alex on the shoulder. “Who needs a trellis when your tree is right there?”
“My t—  really, Luke?” That tree is at least ten feet away from Alex’s window. Luke would have had to shuffle out onto thin, precarious branches, and even then, leap at least two feet to land on the roof’s ledge. He gapes out the window, turning only at the recoil of bouncing box springs.
“Your bed is like heaven, man,” Luke declares, spreading himself out on top of Alex’s plaid comforter. “Ugh, it’s — I could melt into this. How are you always so tense when you’re sleeping on a cloud every night?”
“Get your shoes off my bed, Patterson,” Alex warns. Luke promptly angles his feet over the side, giving two little kicks, like he’s got something to be proud of.
With a sigh, Alex lowers himself down besides Luke, running a hand through his sleep-frazzled hair. Nothing Luke hasn’t seen before; even this, these late night visits, aren’t new. He’s familiar with the mania that often strikes Luke after the sun goes down. He works best at night, is his favorite excuse — but Alex’s going theory is that his brain’s too loud, his body too charged with energy he doesn’t manage to burn off during the day. It all builds, and builds, until some nights he can’t sleep at all. On those nights, Luke has two options: spill lyrics onto the page until his hands cramp and eyes burn, or to run.
For some reason, he loves to run to Alex.
“Where were you?” Alex asks after a moment, angling sideways to study his best friend. Luke’s eyes glitter up at him, unnaturally bright in the dim room. In his poetic moments, Alex swears, Luke hoards all the stars in the sky, just to knock people breathless when he looks their way.
“I took my bike down to Hollywood. Met a few guys at the Crocodile Lounge, that dude who saw us play last month —“ He squirms, kicking the covers up around him; it’s an admirable ten seconds of self-control, before he breaks into another wide grin. “And he scored us a gig, Alex! Next weekend, Saturday and Sunday night!”
“Down at the Crocodile?”
“Yes!”
Alex’s eyes widen; he can’t help laughing out loud. Luke springs up, gripping his arms, and for a minute, all Alex can do is lean into him. Adrenaline bursts like fireworks in his chest. No one else can make him feel that way,  no one  can manage it but Luke… and it’s a minute of hushed excitement and eager embraces before they come back to themselves, jerking away.
Luke’s face is flushed; Alex can make out that much in the dim light, at least. By all rights, he’s the one who should be embarrassed, the one who ought to be indignant — Luke’s come into  his  room,  his  space, two months after their breakup. No matter how short lived their thing was, sometimes it’s easy to forget it’s not still alive. They’ve given up the experimental kisses, but Luke still sneaks into his room after dark, like it’s the most natural thing in the world…
And a part of Alex would probably be uncomfortable, might even resent it, if it wasn’t Luke.
Luke makes everything feel easy. (Except dating him, which sometimes felt like an uphill race against the Energizer Bunny.)
This moment should be awkward; it should be painfully tender; but a wider grin breaks across Luke’s face, and Alex’s hand drags up his bare arm to rest on his shoulder, and it just  isn’t.
They descend into hushed excitement all over again. Luke chattering on about the gig, the venue,  the doors this is gonna open up for us, man, who  knows  who’ll see us play there — and Alex knows how infectious his enthusiasm can be, so he should really be immune by now.
He isn’t. A laugh bursts out of him, completely unbidden. It rings through the dark room.
When a question echoes from the hallway, he knows in an instant that he’s screwed.
“My mom! My mom!” His panicked hissing is drowned out by Luke, scrambling like a beetle in his haste to get off the bed. He tumbles to the floor, catching himself on his hands and knees. It would be quicker to hide, really — under the bed, or in the closet — but Alex’s bedroom window is still wide open, and too obvious to miss.
“Close it after me!” Luke exclaims, scrambling over the ledge.
Alex doesn’t even have the chance to panic. He’s on his feet in an instant; even with every instinct screaming that this is a terrible idea, the threat of being caught by his mom has alarm sirens wailing in his head. They drown out everything else, including common sense. A boy in his room past dark… Luke in his room… he’ll be outed, he’ll be done for, he is so not ready for that conversation yet…
“Be careful!” he manages to hiss, before clicking the window shut.
Perched on the roof’s ledge, Luke glances over his shoulder, and flashes Alex a thumbs-up. Maybe he says something; Alex can’t hear over the pounding of his own heart, or the sound of his bedroom door opening.
“Alex? Honey, what —“ His mother pulls her nightrobe tighter around her chest, blinking in the dim light. She’s bleary-eyed, bedheaded, and less upset to see him out of bed than bewildered. “What’s going on? I heard a ruckus.”
“Uhh — sorry, Mom. I was just…” He gestures vaguely to his bed, the covers rumpled and clearly slept in. “Just had to use the bathroom. I’m going back to bed now. Did I wake you?”
“No, honey, of course not.” Her smile is drowsy, without an ounce of suspicion. The hummingbird heartbeat in Alex’s chest begins to slow. “Get some sleep, alright?”
“Yeah, mom. Of course.”
He slides back into bed, offering his mother a reassuring nod. She’s still smiling as she closes the door behind her.
Left in darkness once more, Alex breathes out a sigh of relief.
Then he hears it.
A clatter — a crack — a round of curses that have no place in a Christian household, young man —
He doesn’t  see  Luke hit the ground, but swears to god he feels it.
“Those crazy squirrels,” he grits out, scrambling back to the window to make sure Luke’s still alive. “Back at it again.”
          iii.   survivor  —  destiny’s child (2002)
They’ve all got their roles as members of Sunset Curve — their own functions, their own thing. It’s one of Luke’s favorite metaphors: a band is like a body, and one part is useless without all the others. 
(“Organ donations are a thing,” Bobby pointed out; prompting Luke to cuff him in the head and declare, “Yeah, if we ever need to replace you, we’ll call up General Hospital for a new rhythm guitarist on ice.”)
Bobby’s the brain of the band. He’s not flashy, but he’s thoughtful, never rushing into a rhythm before he knows what he’s playing. Bobby is dependable, steady, versatile. He’s good at thinking outside the box, and can charm their venue hosts into almost anything. Without Bobby, they’d have less direction; chances are, they’d find themselves moving in circles.
Alex is the spine. The backbone of the entire band, holding them up with his steady beat; he rigs their posture, sets their pulse, and keeps them on their toes even as waves of melody crash down around them. It would be impossible to stand tall on stage without Alex’s drumbeat, always holding them up… or off stage, without his level head always keeping them in sync. 
According to Luke, Reggie is the heart — and this is where his metaphor gets a little weak, in Reggie’s opinion, but he appreciates it anyways. “I sure can keep the beat,” he likes to quip; but when Luke cuffs his head and replies, “that’s not what I mean, you know it,”  Reggie realizes he’s not sure what being the heart of the band means at all.
And Luke? Where does he fit into Sunset Curve’s smokin’, fresh-off-the-cover-of-Sports-Illustrated body?
Easy. He’s the pretty face.
(That one earns Alex a cuff on the head, and he deserves it.)
No one can put on a show like Luke; no one can play off a crowd’s energy, win them over with a smile or a wink, like him. He shines on stage, soaking in the crowd’s admiration like it’s all he’s ever known. Luke’s got a gift. 
So long as he’s standing behind his guitar, connecting with a crowd is as easy as breathing.
“This isn’t working, man.”
So, it’s hard for him to accept defeat, on the rare occasions his pretty face  doesn’t  come through.
“Not with that attitude,” he retorts, shooting Alex a pointed look. “C’mon, we’ve just gotta play louder. Put on a better show.”
“They’re not listening,” Bobby retorts, leaning back against the wooden bench. Reggie cradles his ice cream cone in both hands, licking up the streams of vanilla before they can drip onto his jeans. Alex, beside him, has his face tipped back into the sunshine, completely zoned out. The other boys gave up putting on a show  ages  ago. Luke is the only one still determined to busk — out of boredom at first, but now it’s turned into something more. 
He can’t  stand  being ignored. It’s becomes a matter of pride, good taste, and dignity.
Specifically: his pride is wounded, his good taste is questionable, and he has  no dignity.
“If he’s going to keep this up,” Reggie mutters, “I want another ice cream.”
“Are you paying for it?” asks Alex.
Bobby snorts. “Clearly Luke’s going to pay for it, with the show stopping fortune he’s made today.”
Luke stares down their sarcastic boredom like a disappointed parent — or that one math teacher who always looks like he’s just swallowed a lemon. “Real funny,” he mutters, popping his guitar strap. “One more song, guys. That’s all. Then we can get outta here.”
Alex crosses his arms, leaning back against the bench. Reggie sighs. When Luke breaks into a grin, it feels like being run over by a snowplow; no way could they have stopped it if they tried, but still, kind of a pain.
Luke strikes up a melody on his guitar again. In seconds, he’s back in the game — bouncing around pedestrians, singing at the top of his voice. Even after hours of this, his vocals haven’t worn themselves out; neither has his energy. He works the pier for all its worth, bouncing and weaving through the crowd.
He winks at girls; he grins at anyone who spares him a glance. At some points, he’s literally singing  at  people. It’s the most shameless thing Reggie’s ever witnessed, and he can’t look away.
“No one’s paying him,” Bobby observes.
“You mean cash?” asks Alex. “Or a single scrap of attention? We  know  what’s bothering him more.”
“Sure is trying though,” Reggie observes, as their lead singer serenades a grandmother.
“Look at him go.”
“That spring in his step.”
“Those riffs.”
“That  footwork .”
Luke’s moves really are something to marvel at. He bounces right along the edge of the pier, sure-footed as ever, weaving his way around a man drawing portraits, and a stand selling iced drinks.  Never once does he lose his balance — even when he’s nearly blindsided by a few overeager preschoolers.
“Do you think he’d notice if we just…” Bobby sucks his cheeks. “Left him here?”
“When he’s like this, he wouldn’t notice if aliens landed on the water,” Alex replies.
“Ooh,” gasps Reggie, “that’d be the  coolest  , dude! Do you think they have spaceships, like, specifically designed  to—“
Luke’s song cuts off with a sudden yelp.
Three heads jerk up at the exact same time, at just the right second. Luke flails, the solid deck under his feet suddenly giving way to nothing… and in that instant, revelation flashes across his face. In the split second he’s suspended in midair, a lightbulb blinks on over his head; he sees the face of God in the clouds, and God is rolling his eyes at him.
Oh,  he thinks,  I’ve made a mistake.
And then, a second later, another realization:  Bet everybody’s going to be looking at me now.
So it’s in triumph, not in defeat, that Luke tumbles backwards off the pier, and into the waters below.
A few seconds pass before Alex says, in a very calm voice, “You guys just saw that happen too, right?”
“Oh yeah,” says Reggie, staring wide-eyed at the crowd assembling along the side of the dock. “Sure did.”
The surviving members of Sunset Curve exchange wide-eyed glances.
“Should we —“ Alex asks.
“For the guitar, at least. We gotta save the guitar,” Bobby declares, springing to his feet, quickly followed by the rest of his bandmates.
If Luke’s still down there, he can swim for it.
          iv.  uh oh — jeremy shada (2020)
In retrospect, this one’s a little  everyone’s  fault.
The stage was obviously too small going into the performance. Hardly enough space for Alex’s drum set… and that isn’t even counting the countless amps, mics, and wires needed to put on  any  kind of show, let alone a good one. It’s basically a narrow square platform, about eight feet off the ground, with a steep set of stairs leading from both sides into the crowd below. With so little room for the entire band on stage, Bobby is left straddling one of the staircases, careful not to lose his balance with each pulse of heavy rock melody. It's safest that he's the one on the edge; all the other band members are disasters waiting to happen.
(Reggie actually does walk right off the stage at one point —  backwards  — but, with typical Reggie-like grace, lands on his feet. He’s got all the dexterity of a cat, and the attention span of a pigeon.)
Somehow, the performance ends up not being a total disaster. They make it through their sound check unscathed, at least. As Alex sets his drumsticks aside and stands, he finds himself eager to step offstage for a breather before the real show begins. The venue is claustrophobic. Sitting behind the drumkit, pressed against a solid brick wall, is the worst… but one look at his bandmates’ faces shows they’re feeling the heat too.
“Remind me again why we're playing the  smallest  club in Bakersfield,” Reggie huffs, dragging a hand through his hair. Luke snorts. Alex, braced against one of the checker-board tables, rolls his eyes. 
“Because we’re in Bakersfield, man. What do you expect?” Bobby juggles four drinks with ease; in half a second, he’s slid Colas across the counter for Luke and Alex, saved a club soda for himself, and passes Reggie his Shirley Temple. (Extra cherries — count on Bobby to remember — since Reggie pouts if he only gets one.)
Placated, Reggie sets about trying to spear one of the cherries with his straw. Alex is just happy to have something to drink. The club isn’t only small, it’s stiflingly hot; in an hour, once it’s packed with people, no doubt it’ll be even worse.
Three out of four members of Sunset Curve are content to take a breather, winding down for a few minute before the show begins. Luke, though — Luke can  never  relax before a performance. He’s still dancing on a live wire.
“Ain’t gonna be much of a show when we’re on top of each other like this.” He perches in his metal chair like he’s got a vendetta against it; restless fingers drum against the tabletop. “We gotta give these folks a performance to remember, boys. We didn’t come all the way out here to be background music.”
“We could whip out a country tune in the middle of the set, shift the mood of the room —“
“No. Nope, Reg, not today.” Luke’s eyes narrow at the stage, like he’s plotting out every detail of their future performance in his mind. Whatever he imagines seems to satisfy him; after a minute, his lips flatten out, then break into a broad grin. “Oh yeah, boys. I’ve got it.”
Coming from Luke, those are the most ominous words in the English language.
“What do you have?” Alex prods, like asking a puppy what it's got in it's mouth. He’s straddling the line somewhere between curiously and dread, not sure where to come down between the two. Luke’s smirk, tossed carelessly over his shoulder, shifts the wind towards  dread.
“Whatever he's got, there are probably antibiotics for it,” Bobby quips.
In retaliation, Luke swipes his club soda, and promptly refuses to drink it on principle. Bobby starts to tussle with him to get it back; Reggie accidentally splashes a bit of Sprite on his jacket, and  screeches; and it’s all chaos, but the normal kind of chaos, so familiar that Alex genuinely forgets what had him worried in the first place.
Until halfway through their set that night, when he remembers with a vengeance.
The bridge of  Late Last Night  features a long guitar solo… and they all know Luke wrote it for the express purpose of performing. He never misses a chance to ham it up on stage, but this song really lets him go for it. Luke puts his whole self into every song they play, but  Late Last Night…  well, he shoots the moon.
Alex’s mom loves inspirational quotes. Those cheesy, overly-saccharine inspirational ones which all the middle-aged ladies like to sling back and forth at church events. There’s a “charming tea mug” in the Mercers’ kitchen cabinets, with the phrase  “Always shoot for the moon; even if you miss it, you’ll land amongst the stars.”  Luke, Alex just  knows, would take the advice literally.
It goes like this; they’re midway through Late Last Night, the solo comes around, and Luke puts his entire body into it, in the most dangerous way possible. He doesn’t just pass Bobby, but thunders by him, too fast for their fellow guitarist to even realize what’s happening… and suddenly Luke is balanced on the steep staircase, straddling it while playing to the audience below.
The crowd eats it up. As they roar, reaching up to Luke just for the sake of getting close to him, his grin widens. Fingers flying through the solo, he can’t help it as energy gets the best of him. He bounces his knee, shifting a step back to adjust his posture… maneuvering the tiny set of stairs like a tightrope artist.
Luke lives by sayings too, but has no patience for clichés. Luke only lives by truths… and his favorite?  What goes up must come down.
Down the stairs, that is.
Head over heels.
He lands on a waiter.
Some would call it stupidity. Luke would call it performance art. Alex just calls it a death wish, because he has no patience for clichés either. By now, Luke falling off things he shouldn’t have been on top of in the first place is turning into deja vu. 
“We’ve never had to stop a whole show for it, though,” Reggie muses later, sitting in the back of their van, surrounded by loaded-up instruments. “That’s a new one.”
“Still finished my guitar solo,” Luke declares. He’s laying flat on his back, head balanced in Bobby’s lap; Bobby holds a steadily-melting icepack over the goose egg on his scalp.
“Nine lives,” Bobby mutters, shaking his head. “Like a damn cat.”
“Wildcat,” Luke declares, sticking a hand in the air. “‘M a cheetah. A puma.”
“You’re concussed,” says Alex.
“Meow,” says Luke, and drops his hand back down on his face. It slams into his nose with a disturbing crack.
Wincing, Reggie reaches over, picks up Luke’s limp hand, and sets it to the side. Luke doesn’t notice. He's finally knocked himself out.
“Took him long enough,” Bobby mutters, rolling his eyes.
          v.   BANG!  —  AJR  (2020)
Not that Reggie’s in the habit of shaming bad ideas — call him an idiot, fine, but he’s no hypocrite.  Sometimes, though… sometimes even he has to admit, Luke just  deserves  what he gets.
“I already told you,” a voice booms through the studio. “Get off my piano!” 
Exhibit A. Testing Julie. A smart ghost doesn’t test Julie if he values his own afterlife. That Reggie understands this, and Luke doesn’t, is just another penny in the ‘Luke Deserves To Be Bullied’ jar.
“Julie, come on,” Luke exclaims, bouncing on his knees… while perched on the flat top of the piano. “I just want us to see eye to eye here!”
“This isn’t eye to eye, this is ‘if you don’t get down right now, you won’t have any eyes left to see from’!” 
Julie circles the piano like an enraged hornet, hands balled into fists at her sides. Her face has gone that funny shade of dark maroon it only takes on when she’s really ticked about something. The only reason she doesn’t take a swing at Luke is probably because he’s out of her reach.
Luke has no excuse, really. Musicians are territorial over their instruments; that’s just how it works. Alex would protect his drum kit over his own life; the guys joke that Reggie treats Sweet Caroline like a girlfriend, polishing and tightening her strings at least once a week. Luke has three guitars, and he’s deeply attached to every one of them… to the point that he gets antsy whenever another person lays a hand on them. 
He should understand exactly why it’s not cool to treat Julie’s piano like another piece of furniture, but, well…
Luke and furniture don’t get along.
“All I’m saying is, if you’d just consider my idea —“
“You don’t have to be on top of the piano to pitch it!"
“Then listen to me, Julie! Look at me!"
Julie’s looking. She can’t  not  look, when Luke lays on the eye contact that intensely — with a bit of bicep flexing for good measure, because he knows exactly what he’s doing. (Heck, even  Reggie’s  looking; he couldn’t tear himself away if he tried.)
As soon as their gazes find each other, a bit of Julie’s fight seems to shoulder. She stops pacing, going very still as the full force of Luke’s gaze hits her; from his perspective, at a distance, Reggie observes the way her shoulders slump, the furrow smoothing from her brows. She’s still blushing… but it’s probably for a very different reason.
“We’re stronger than a hurricane, bolder than a storm,”  Luke sings, bopping to the melody while tapping it out on the piano’s surface.  “We’re everything that we’ve became, shining bright forevermore  —  ever-more, see, you can take it up. Really quickly, up and down again. Change the key, and the entire chorus shifts with it. The audience won’t know what hit them!”
Julie bristles. “It’s good,” she admits, grudgingly. “Just what the song needs.”
Luke beams at her. “You see?” he exclaims, bouncing on the piano top. “We always figure it out together!”
Reggie clears his throat, and loudly turns a page in his comic book. He goes completely unacknowledged.
“Sure we do, hotshot. Sure.”
With a roll of her eyes, Julie finally breaks the weirdly-intense staring contest between them; turning, she rounds the piano to sit at the bench. For Luke, however, the spell’s still on… and as Julie moves, he follows her, not just with his eyes but his entire body. Shifting, inching back as he sits up to keep her in his sights, too distracted by Julie to even watch where he’s balancing…
Reggie sees it coming a second before Luke drops.
One second, his hands are braced against piano top… and the next second, he’s leaning against midair, then tumbling backwards with a sharp yelp. Head over heels, sneakers over stupid… and he’s gone. The impact echoes throughout the studio.
“Luke!” Julie exclaims, springing up from the piano bench. 
Reggie, hardly bothering to lift his head from his position on the couch, just winces. “Ow.”
To his credit, Luke doesn’t stay down long. Reggie’s never seen him recover that fast, scrambling to his feet in all the time it takes Julie to reach hers. He landed in a potted plant; there’s soil scattered across the studio floor, dusting his hair, and he’s got a fern leaf stuck in his hoodie. He doesn’t seem to notice — too busy striking a casual pose, like he meant to do that all along.
“You told me to get off the piano,” he points out, and spreads his arms with an unnecessary little bounce. “Tah-dah.”
Julie’s face slowly sets into a bitter mouthed grimace— like she just bit into a lemon, and has no right to be surprised that it’s sour. Her jaw sets, nose crinkling; after a minute, she has to squeeze her eyes shut. “If you were alive,” she sighs, “you’d literally be dead right now."
“What did that Shakespeare guy say? You only die once, but your music lives on forever?”
“Shakespeare absolutely didn’t say that, he wasn’t even a musician, what are you—“
“Come on, he’s gotta have said something like it! Can you do the Google-It?”
“I’m not going t— Luke, keep away from my piano!”
Reggie sighs, and drops a couch pillow on his head. It phases straight through him; he can’t even complain.
Sometimes, he doesn’t even have to look for things to bully Luke about; he hands them right up on a silver platter. It’d just be nice if he remembered Reggie’s in the room while he’s at it.
          ( + vi.   never let me go  —  florence and the machine  (2011) )
Julie falls into rhythm with her phantoms so naturally, so quickly… that sometimes it’s easy to forget how long they knew each other prior to her entering the picture. They were a band long before Julie was even a blip in the timeline. They’ve got each other’s tics down, their mannerisms memorized; their personalities as familiar to each other as a shared melody. Some days, it feels like Julie’s scrambling to catch up — tearing through notes as she tries to speed-learn a song they already know by heart.
She  knows  the boys, yeah… but they’re the real experts on each other. Every day, she’s surprised by how much she’s got to learn.
“Okay,” Julie says one afternoon, cornering Reggie and Alex on the studio couch. “How long has he been like this?”
Alex stops trying to balance his drumstick on his nose. Reggie looks up from his country song in progress, brows slowly raising.
“Uhh… I don’t know, I think it’s kind of a lifelong thing? Like, I don’t think he woke up one morning like…  ‘I’m gonna choose rainbow!’  As the Queen of the 21st Century, Lady Gaga says, you’re  ‘Born This Way’.” He turns a bright grin on his bandmate. “Am I right, Alex?”
Alex stares at him for a long moment, slowly shaking his head. When he finally turns to Julie, he looks exhausted. “You mean Luke, right?”
“Obviously,” Julie sighs. “And not… I mean, not about  that.  I mean the furniture thing.” When the boys continue to stare at her, she huffs, crossing his arms. “He’s like a cat! Why does he have to climb on everything he can reach? Like, does he have a running vendetta against furniture or something?” When the boys say nothing, she throws her arms wide. “You saw him launch over the coffee table this morning, right? For literally no reason! He saw it, he  vaulted  it, and he almost broke his ghost nose!”
Reggie snorts. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”
Alex is the one to take pity on Julie, leaning forward to brace himself against his knees. “Yeah, Luke’s always been that way. His impulse control… it’s just not always there?”
“He sees something worth climbing, and thinks, ‘yeah, I can do that!’ But never stops to wonder if he should.”
“It might actually be a height thing.”
“He wants to be tall!”
“That, or he’s taken one too many blows to the head. Even though we’re dead, he still thinks he’s invincible.”
“With no excuse! The amount of times he’s absolutely wrecked himself —“
Teaching Reggie meme culture was  worth it,  Julie decides, as she takes a seat across from the boys. They’re usually happy to tell stories about Sunset Curve’s glory days, and today, she’s caught them on a chatty afternoon. For the next hour, Julie is entertained with tales of Luke’s many spectacular falls: from tumbling out of a tree age breaking his arm at age nine, to mid-show stunts gone wrong, to falling out of a car window —  really, Luke?  — because he “wanted to know how dogs feel”.
It puts a lot of things in context. Julie’s eyes have been opened. The next time he leaps over the back of a chair, instead of just standing up like a normal person, she doesn’t even blink… because of course he would, he’s Luke.
Luke doesn’t go around things; he goes on, above, or on top of them. To Luke, no view from the top is worth it if you don’t climb the mountain first. Every piece of furniture standing in his way is an individual mountain, and he just…
Climbs. He climbs everything. For fun, probably. 
Julie stops batting an eye at it, because it’s really not something Luke can help. She does warn him not to do it in her house, though — even though he can’t exactly leave footprints on the furniture with his ghost sneakers. Luke tries to follow the rules. He keeps his feet off the furniture, doesn’t try to drop down from the loft anymore… and even keeps off the piano, finally, like she’s been asking him to for ages. Julie recognizes the effort, and appreciates it — even on the occasions when he slips up, and she catches him jumping over chairs instead of walking around them.
A new phenomenon emerges about six months into playing together. No one really notices — least of all, Julie herself — until one soundcheck, when she catches Luke testing the weight of a precarious-looking scaffold against the stage wall. Julie
“Nope!” Julie calls across the stage.
Luke backs away, hands raised, and returns to his mic stand.
It doesn’t register as weird until she catches sight of Reggie and Alex, both gaping like they’ve both just sprouted new heads. Luke doesn’t notice; he’s too absorbed with warming up. The area he’s definitely not supposed to be climbing goes ignored for the rest of the night. Julie only feels relief.
Reggie, of all people, has to point it out to her. “You’ve got a superpower! He actually listened to you!”
Julie blinks. “Why wouldn’t he listen? If he tried to climb that thing, he’d have broken his back.”
“Yeah, but it’s  Luke.”
Julie considers this; after a beat, her eyes widen.  Superpower’s  a good way to put it.
From then on, she tries to only use her powers for good. Whenever she catches Luke on top of something, hanging from something, scaling something… all it takes is a sharp look, or a “be careful,” and Luke’s scrambling down like he’s just been zapped. He never looks ashamed of himself. A little proud, actually — like he likes showing off just how much trouble he could get into without actually digging himself a hole he can't get out of. When Julie rolls her eyes, he just smirks, and she hates the way it gets under her skin.
If Luke wants to be on his best behavior for her… well, she’s not going to complain.
Of course, a peacock doesn’t change its colors in a day. She’s not asking him to act like a normal person around furniture  all the time… just to use some common sense. Don’t risk his life being an idiot... at least, not while Julie’s around to see it.
Still. Luke is Luke. She can’t expect anything less.
“What’s going on?” Julie asks, stopping short in her jog down to the garage. Reggie and Alex, in nothing but their lightest clothes — Reggie in his black tank top, Alex in a t-shirt and shorts — still wear the oppressive heat like an advertisement for LA summer splattered across their skin. Alex’s bangs clings to his face, cornsilk hair darkened by sweat. Reggie’s face and neck glistens, flushes from exhertion… but neither of them stir as Julie approaches, even to do the  sane  thing and go back inside. Instead, they both stand outside the garage doors, still as statues, staring up at the basketball hoop.
Julie slots in between them, planting her hands on her hips. “So,” she says casually. “What are we looking at?”
Alex grimaces. “Are you sure you want to know?”
If that doesn’t send alarm bells wailing in Julie’s head, nothing can. She follows their gazes up — up, she realizes, past the basketball hoop… all the way onto the sloping studio roof. The higher she goes, the more her eyes widen… and, just as she finally reaches the peak of the roof, he appears.
“I’ve got it!” Luke bellows, shaggy head popping out over the ledge. “It got stuck in some tree branches, but —“ He cuts off short, eyes widening at his expanded audience. “Uhh. Hey, Julie. How’s it goin’?”
“Luke,” she says — very calmly, given the circumstances. “What in the name of  Dios Todopoderoso are you doing on the roof?”
“See, the real person you should be blaming is Alex, ‘cause he’s got  terrible  aim —“
“There’s a reason I was a band kid, not a jock, Luke!”
“And he threw the ball, and he missed by a mile, and the whole thi kinda went whoosh —“ Gripping the roof’s ledge with his knees, Luke mimes the motion, hand flying over his head. Julie’s heart plummets. “And when it didn’t come down, we figured it got stuck, so I just kinda —“
“Scaled the roof!” Reggie helpfully chimes in, as Luke begins to taper off. “Like Spiderman! He climbed a tree, leapt from the gazebo, everything!”
“You did  what?” Okay. Now Julie’s not so calm. “Get down from there!”
“No worries,” Luke exclaims, waving off her concern with eager hands that are still not holding onto the roof. “All I gotta do is —“
They don’t actually find out what Luke’s got to do. For a second, he seems to lean into it — turning, one leg loosening its grip on the ledge to sling over the slope. His idea is  probably  to slide down, like a little hill, and hit the ground on his feet. This is the worst idea Luke has ever had… a very high bar.
It ends up not mattering at all, though, because the moment Luke loosens his hold on the roof, he tumbles. The air seems to give way around him; he flails, twisting sideways, even as momentum carries him over the roof’s edge at its highest point— at least fifteen feet in the air. Luke doesn’t even have time to help before he’s falling.
“Luke!”
Reggie and Alex drop back in horror; somehow, Julie’s the only one who falls forward. With a speed she never even knew she possessed, she leaps, arms outstretched. She doesn’t think about bracing herself for impact, or even how it will hurt; all she sees are Luke’s wide eyes, his flailing arms, the terror of plunging down without anything below to catch him.
Except he’s not falling alone, because Julie’s here, and she won’t let him hit the ground.
Luke lands in her arms like a sack of bricks, taking them both down. Julie’s never been blindsided by a truck before, but the feeling is probably similar. The breath is knocked from her lungs; her vision explodes in stars; and she only comes back to herself a few seconds later, at the agony in her ribs from a heavy weight bearing down on top of them.
“Oh man,” someone moans above her. “Owww.”
Julie would be moaning too, if she could breathe.
A second later, two blurry figures appear above them, and the massive weight on her chest suddenly hoists off. Julie only has time to gasp a much-needed lungful of air... before suddenly, someone’s jostling her shoulders, hauling her upright before she knows she’s moving.
“Julie! Oh man, Julie, are you okay?”
“Get off her, you idiot,” exclaims Alex, hailing Luke back by the collar. “Almost killing her isn’t enough for one day?”
“Julie.” Luke’s eyes are wide, earnest; he’s blissfully unbroken. “I didn’t hurt you, did I? Please say I didn’t hurt you.”
Julie’s hurting in more places than she can count; her bruises are going to have bruises, and at least half of them will be Luke Patterson-shaped. Dusting off her aching limbs, she takes a moment to regather herself. 
When she straightens up, her glare sends all three boys a step back.
“Luke,” she says — very, very calmly. “Can you explain to me why I keep having to save your life... even though you’re already dead?” She doesn’t give him time to answer. Try —  try  — to explain it, ‘cause I  really  have no clue.”
Luke wilts one the face of her glare… then, since he’ll  always  be Luke, tries for a grin. “‘Cause your life would be totally depressing if I was just a Luke-shaped splat on the ground?”
Julie’s eye twitches.
The boys take another step back.
-------------
It ends up not mattering in the end; because her phantoms have to stay outside, enjoying the afternoon in the sweltering studio, Julie gets air conditioner, multiple ice packs, and a couch to lie on while she recovers.
She’s two hours into a Brooklyn 99 binge, seriously enjoying her day off, when a familiar pop rings out from behind her. Julie doesn’t even look up.
“Out!  I was very clear!”
“I know, I know —“ Luke scuttles into her sightline like a scared hermit crab, holding up his hands. Something about the sight stifles the anger burning in Julie’s chest. Maybe it’s his hangdog look, his hesitation… or his complete lack of sleeves, arms straight-up shining with sweat.
Either way… she pauses the TV, and sits up to greet him.
“You, uhh…” He perches at the end of the coffee table, knee bouncing. “You didn’t have to catch me, you know.”
Julie blinks at him. “Okay, I’m hearing you right now. But you know what I’m absolutely  not  hearing?”
“Thank you!” Luke blurts automatically. Julie’s shoulders relax. “That’s what I came in here to say — come on, boss, gimme a chance…” He scratches behind his neck, rubbing at the sweat in his hair. For some reason, he can’t meet her eyes.  Not just nervous, Julie realizes; downright embarrassed.
“I’m just... sorry you had to get hurt because of me. You should’ve never been in that position. Like, we all know I’m not the most careful guy — I do dumb stunts all the time, and I’m used to falling down, it’s fine — but — but people don’t catch me. That’s kinda the point.”
Julie closes her eyes against the impulse to roll them; when they flutter open again, Luke is still staring at her, gaze unusually earnest. His seriousness strikes her like a punch to the chest.
“Luke,” she says softly. “You  always  deserve someone to catch you.” He ducks his head at her words, but she doesn’t give him the chance to deny them. “Yeah, it would be great if you’d  stop climbing things,  but...”
“Everybody’s gotta have a hobby,” Luke contributes with a weak laugh. In spite of herself, Julie giggles too.
It’s a tiny victory, but the grin on Luke’s face is genuine.
“I’m just the kind person who falls,” he says, shrugging. His gaze lingers on Julie a moment too long, unnervingly tender. “And you’re the kind who catches people.”
It’s Julie’s turn to duck her head. The breath has been knocked from her lungs, and as always, Luke has absolutely no shame.
“Be more careful from now on? Please?” Even she’s surprised by how small her own voice sounds. “I… don’t want to see you get hurt.”
She can’t see Luke’s face, in the silence that lingers too long to mean nothing; but his sigh reverberates in her chest, and the conviction in his voice makes her heart sing when he replies.
“Anything for you, Julie. I promise.”
When her hand finds his in the stillness, he squeezes back, like he’s surprised to be held at all.
It means nothing; it means everything; so long as Luke knows he’ll never hit the ground alone.
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beskaradberoya · 24 days ago
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The Tie That Binds - Chapter 8
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This is a spin-off in what I call the “Bound Series,” telling John Winchester’s story.
Summary: John Winchester is a successful attorney, that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty to get what he wants. He has the money, the connections, and the know-how to get it done. When he meets Eve for the first time at a café with her friend, he knows he wants her for his boys and himself, stopping at nothing to get her.
Characters: Step-grandfather John x OC Eve/Stepfather Sam x OC Eve/Step-uncle x OC Eve
Words: 7205
Warnings: step-grandfather/Step-granddaughter relationship, stepfather/stepdaughter relationship, Step-uncle/Step-niece relationship, Loss of a loved one, Murder, Mentions of War, Dom/Sub relationship, 24/7 Dom/Sub, swearing, caning/whipping, subspace, oral sex (male and female receiving), sexting, rough sex, dirty talk, female and male masturbation, multiple orgasms, voyeurism, threesomes, edging, loss of virginity, squirting, sex in public spaces, drinking under 21, death of a parent, death of a sibling, car accident, angst, grief, PTSD, PTSD Flashbacks. Poly relationship, group sex.
All tags above will be in every chapter, in some form or another, unless otherwise specified.
A/N: When his boys have no idea what they're doing, John steps in and teaches them how to pleasure their Wifey properly.  For more stories in this series revolving around Sam x Eve, there’s Bound To You, and for Dean and Eve, there’s Unbound. All stories are interconnected so I would recommend reading them all.
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Liking is nice; feedback and reblogs are appreciated a lot more.
Please don’t copy or edit and post my stories to this or any other site.
 Dividers by @firefly-graphics
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Chapter 8: Eve’s Manual
He rouses from his slumber, turning around, her side of the bed empty. For a second, he feels puzzled, and then he remembers she is upstairs with the boys. After they came back from the mansion in the early morning hours on Thursday, he had carried her from the car, fast asleep, but instead of taking her to her own bed, he put her down in his, falling asleep next to her, holding her in his arms. When she woke the following day, they made sweet fucking love to each other, and after, they ate breakfast together until she had to go upstairs and get ready for work because she couldn’t wear the same outfit she had on the day before. He let her go, but only if she promised to have lunch with him, to which she, of course, agreed.
John knows one thing for sure; he can’t remember the last time he had so much fun at work. She was truly a delight to be around and an expert at stealing his time. He had to tell her no when it came to fucking, mainly because he wanted her to save up her energy for today. She understood, but then her lips just constantly ended up on his, in secret little makeout sessions in every dark and abandoned corner of the building, or she wrapped them around his cock every chance she got. John wasn’t an idiot, and he loved that she loved to suck him off.
He loves her so Goddamn much; he even gave her a spare key to his apartment, and besides his sons, and Robert, he trusts no one else in there. Eve didn’t waste any time using it because yesterday, early in the morning, she snuck into his bed to steal a few more hours with him, falling asleep in his arms, no sex, no naughty stuff, just being with him. Much to his disappointment, she didn’t sneak into his bed this morning, but it doesn’t matter; they’re going to spend the entire day together anyway.
A quick shower is all he needs, a bit of grooming and a simple outfit because he knows the clothes are coming off anyway. He heads for the elevator and to the top floor. John turns the spare key Sam had made for him in the lock and enters the penthouse, Eve’s moans filling his ears. He knows precisely which video his boys are watching.
“Good morning, boys! Rise and shine because it’s going to be a beautiful Goddamn day!” he exclaims, startling them, Eve’s squeals and moans continuing to fill the room; Sam doesn’t even attempt to turn the video off. And why would he? They’re all familiar with her sex sounds.
“I see you boys are still enjoying my handiwork?” John says, a grin spreading on his face, nodding towards Sam’s phone.
“Yeah, well, it’s hot,” both his boys say in unison. Sam presses play on the other video, and they watch John facefuck her.
“How did you even convince her to let you fuck her mouth like that? She never let me or Dean do it.”
“Well boys, all I did was worship at her altar and treat her like a fuckin’ queen, and she offered it to me on a silver platter.”
“Really?” Dean asks, a big grin on his face.
“No, Dean, she still won’t take it up her ass if that’s what you’re getting at. You should know better after the whole thumb debacle.”
“Thumb debacle?”
“Yeah, Samuel. Your big idiot brother over here felt all kinds of frisky while he was railing our Wifey from behind one night, and he shoved his thumb right up her pretty little asshole.”
“Let me guess,” Sam says, chuckling, “She didn’t like it.”
“Understatement Samuel. She went from horny cute little girl to raging Bitch in two seconds flat and Bitch-slapped Dean across his face hard before grabbing her stuff and storming out the door.”
John had to be honest; he loved it. He never raised his boys to be disrespectful to women, so when Dean crossed a boundary she had set, John was all for her slapping the shit out of him. No means no.
“Yeah, she didn’t speak to me for days. I had to beg for her forgiveness and grovel at her feet before she let me fuck her again.”
“You groveled? At her feet?”
“Oh yeah.”
“Believe me, Sammy, she’s worth groveling for. Best fucking cunt I ever had.”
Dean isn’t wrong. In both aspects. She has, hands down, the best cunt John has ever had the pleasure to fuck. And even though she is incredibly fucking cute when she’s angry, you don’t want her to be cross with you. He had seen her mad with Dean and Sam a few times, and he had vowed never to do anything to make her mad at him, and if he did, he would grovel and beg for her forgiveness.
“Where is our Wifey, by the way?” John asks, looking around.
“In the pool, dad,” Sam says, nodding towards the patio.
“Don’t tell me she likes to swim naked too?”
Dean chuckles. “Not quite no. You have to see it to believe it.”
John is intrigued, so he follows his boys outside to the pool. He’s not sure he’s seeing this right but is his Queen swimming in full mermaid attire? It’s not only super-hot but goddamn it, the girl has super-impressive breath-control too.
“That is cute as shit. The girl does this a lot?”
“Yeah, just about every other day, when she isn’t going on morning runs with me.”
“She’s just as insane as you are, Sammy.”
“Well, you were the one not being able to keep up with our fucking sessions, so the joke’s on you, Jerk.”
“Bitch.”
John can’t help but smile. His boys wouldn’t even be able to keep up with John and her sessions. They’re amazing together, and he’s fucking lucky to have her. All of her. He watches as
Eve turns sideways in the water, looking up at them, and then makes her way to the surface, gasping for air when she comes up. John offers her his hand, and she takes it, pulling her out of the pool and onto the deck.
“Well, good morning to you, Miss Ariel.”
“Careful, I’m all wet.”
“Hmmm, I bet you are Darlin’,” he says, kissing her passionately.
“Have you been a good girl for Daddy? You haven’t flicked your bean, have you?”
“Nuh-uh, Daddy.”
“Hmmm… atta girl, you’re going to need all that sexual tension today. We’re going to have so much fuckin’ fun, you and me…”
John pulls her up from the ground, helps her wiggle out of her fin, and gently slaps her ass as she walks towards the door, making her squeal with delight.
“You think she’s going to like Amber?” Dean asks.
“I doubt it. Amber is a Bitch, much like those girls that used to pick on her in school, Sammy.”
Ah, yes. Amber. Girls like that were the bane of Eve's existence, making her life miserable at every turn. He had witnessed her crying in her room so many times because of them but no more. Today, he would help her take back her dignity because those girls were nothing if not wholly insecure, and Eve, well, she’s better than them. He’s not saying anything about it to his boys, though; they’re smart enough to figure it out on their own, so he keeps his mouth shut. The three of them prepare breakfast, and once they’re ready to eat, Eve is still nowhere to be found. Knowing her, she’s probably still in her closet deciding what to wear.
“I’ll go see what’s taking our Wifey so long, boys.”
He makes his way to the bedroom, and just like he expected, she’s still not dressed. She’s dancing around in nothing but her black lace thong, and he just leans against the doorframe, his hands in his pockets, smiling, watching her dance around, drinking her in. She really shouldn’t be dancing alone, so he moves towards her, snakes his arms around her waist, pressing her body against hers, matching her rhythm and moves.
“Dance with me, my Queen,” John whispers in her ear; his voice is dripping with desire.
He twirls her around and takes the lead, dancing around the enormous closet, twirling her, dipping her. They move so well together, and she instinctively knows what his next move is, flawlessly matching it with her body, like they’ve been together for years. Like soulmates. What he feels for Eve goes so much deeper than what he ever felt for Mary. He still loves his late wife, which will never change, but his feelings for this girl are on a whole other level. When she’s not near him, it’s like he can’t breathe. Her kisses, her hands on his skin, they feel like he’s being touched by divinity because she is divine. She is love. When he makes love to her, it feels like the universe explodes and is reborn repeatedly, and he’s floating through the stars with her in his arms, nothing else mattering but the two of them. He dips her one last time as the song ends, smiling and looking into her eyes, seeing that she feels the same.
“Need help getting dressed, Darlin’?” he asks as they come back up.
“Yeah. At this rate, I might as well just go to the loft like this.”
“Well…” he says, as his mouth captures one of her nipples, making her moan, “I wouldn’t mind if you did.”
He can see those little cogwheels turning in her pretty little head, and he knows she’s up to something cheeky.
“Hmm… I still feel kind of naked, though,” she states, and John watches her grab a string of expensive pearls, putting them on and letting them rest between her tits and then slipping into a pair of Louboutins. She fixes her hair in one of those high ponytails and then turns to him.
“What do you think? Am I dressed enough for today?”
I think you’re still too dressed. If it were up to me, I’d have you walking around naked and accessible to me all day, every day.
“There’s one thing missing though, Darlin’,” he says, as he pulls out a long black trench coat from one of the racks and holds it up for her so she can slip it on. “Perfect. Now let’s get out of here and get you something to eat before I fuck your brains out right here and now.”  
They make their way back to the kitchen island, Dean sipping on his coffee, and Sam is on the phone.
“Yeah, if you can arrange for the delivery guys to set up the new bed for us and have Theresa make the bed, that would be great. Thanks, Robert, much appreciated. Talk soon.”
He puts the phone down and looks their way, and John can see Sam’s eyes growing big when his eyes rest on Eve, nudging Dean and subtly nodding toward her.
“Sorry for the delay boys, she didn’t know what to wear, so I had to help her choose,” John says.
“Is that what you’re wearing today, Little Bug?”
“Yeah. Is it too much? Because I can take something off if needed,” she says, slipping the trench coat off her shoulders, just enough to give them a full view of her tits. Both of his sons groan in unison, and Eve giggles, slipping it back on and tying it closed before she sits down on one of the stools. She’s such a little tease, knowing full well how her body affects the three of them and taking advantage of it whenever she can.
“So… who is this Amber chick you’ve been talking about?” she asks, munching on a triple chocolate muffin.
“Well, Darlin’, Amber has been our go-to sub for a while now because there’s nothing that she won’t fuckin’ do. Which is pretty fun.”
There’s the tiniest micro-expression on her face, just half a second, and John knows she’s jealous.
“So… you guys are going to play with her then?” she asks.
“Not exactly Darlin’. We are going to play with her,” he says, pointing to her and back at himself.
John can see she’s feeling a tad insecure, but he has the utmost faith in her capabilities. He would never let her play with anyone, let alone Amber if he wasn’t confident that Eve would make a fantastic Dominatrix. He even bought her the outfit to match.
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 They arrive at the loft, and Amber is already waiting at the building entrance. As usual, she greets him, Sam, and Dean with a load of enthusiasm, immediately flirting with the three of them, not even bothering to introduce herself to Eve, pretending she isn’t even there. His Queen is not amused, but John doesn’t intervene, interested to see what she’ll do. Sam wants to, judging by the look on his face, but Eve is faster.
“Excuse me, but who the fuck are you?” she asks.
“Little Bug, this is…”
“Nuh-uh…” lifting her hand to silence him. “I wasn’t asking you. I was asking this thing,” she says, gesturing at the woman, wrinkling her nose in disgust.
There it is. You show that cock-hungry slut who’s boss.
Just like he expected, Amber is not amused and defiantly keeps her mouth shut, which was precisely what he had counted on.
Let’s see how Eve handles her defiance.
“Fine. We’ll just go and have fun without you. I am confident one of my boys here has a veritable plethora of subs lined up dying to play with us. We can manage without you just fine.”
John offers her his arm, and she takes it. The four of them walk towards the entrance, leaving Amber standing there, completely confounded.
“I’m sorry for being rude to you. My name is Amber,” she calls after them.
“Didn’t you forget something?” Eve says, stopping and turning to look at Amber, who lowers her eyes immediately.
“My name is Amber, Mistress.”
“See? That wasn’t too hard, now was it? Come along now; you’ve wasted enough of our time.”
When the elevator comes, Amber tries to get in with them, but Eve stops her.
“Not you. You can wait over there, in the corner, and think about how you should behave in my presence until we are all upstairs. Then, and only then, are you allowed to come up and join us.”
“Yes, Mistress,” she whispers as she makes her way to the corner and stands there, just like Eve told her to.
If he could, he’d fucking rip off her panties and fuck her in the elevator right in front of her boys. She’s exceeding all his expectations. He didn’t choose an easy sub for her to tame, but she’s doing it faster than the three of them ever could.  
“Was that okay?” she asks as she looks at John.
“That was more than okay, Doll. You were fuckin’ magnificent. Holy smokes, woman, I knew you had it in you, but I wasn’t expecting this. You were born for this.”
As they get out of the elevator and enter the loft, she turns to Dean.
“Dee, can you send the elevator down?”
“Sure thing, Artoo.”  
It doesn’t take long for Amber to join them, so Eve grabs a set of ankle cuffs, wrist cuffs, and a collar and tosses them at her Amber’s feet, telling her to strip and put those on, which reminds John of the first time they fucked in his office when she ordered him to strip. Super-hot. She walks to one of the panels and picks a nice big ball gag and a pair of noise-canceling earmuffs. As she instructs Sam to put them on Amber, John watches as she tells his youngest son she doesn’t want the sub to run her filthy mouth or listen to them talk while Eve is in the dressing room with him. With that out of the way, she follows John through the door to get changed. Once inside, he turns to her, and he can see she’s nervous as fuck.
“Now let’s get you ready, Darlin’. Are you still feeling okay? Because you look a little tense.”
“Yeah, I think so,” Eve says while she takes off the little clothing she has on until she’s standing naked in front of him. “It’s just new and exciting,” she says, her body shuddering with excitement as she speaks. “And I love it.”
“Come here, my Queen,” he says, and she does as he commands. Once she’s within his reach, he proceeds to rub her body in talcum powder. She looks at him, a confused look on her face, which subsides as soon as he hands her the purple-colored latex catsuit he bought for her. John helps her put it on, reaching between her thighs and pulling the zipper from her crotch to her neck, closing her in. Lastly, he hands her a pair of white thigh-high platform boots, which he helps zip up as well.
“Hmm… you look fucking stunning, my Queen. Now go look at yourself in the mirror over there,” he says, handing her a Hooker Red lipstick.
He watches her apply the lipstick, taking a step back and admiring herself in the mirror. She looks even better than he had imagined, the latex hugging her in all the right places.
“How do you feel?”
“Like I’m a fucking Boss Ass Bitch.”
“You’re Goddamn fuckin’ right you are,” he says, wrapping his arms around her and nuzzling her neck. “My boys are going to cream their fucking pants when they see you,” he says, kissing her behind her ear.
It’s John’s turn to take his clothes off as he slips into a pair of leather pants. He takes his sweet ass time pulling them up, giving her a nice view of his erection. He can see her squeezing her thighs together, and by the way she’s looking at his cock, she’s having all sorts of dirty thoughts of where she would like to have him stick it. He’s not sure what’s happening, but she’s starting to tremble, little whimpers and moans escaping from her lips.
“Holy fucking shit, Doll, did you just cream your catsuit right in front of me? Because that shit is super-hot.”
“Yeah, I think I did, Daddy,” she says, followed by a giggle.
It’s the latex suit. It’s tight on Eve, and she’s naked in it, so that zipper and the latex are probably doing an excellent job at getting her off with every move she makes. Nice. Best. Purchase. Ever.
“Let’s get this show on the road then, my Queen. The sooner we finish with the play session, the sooner we can tend to your cock-hungry cunt.”
He swaggers out of the dressing room, and he can hear her following behind him, her heels clicking on the wood flooring, with confidence. Sam and Dean both are staring at her like they want to fuck her six ways from Sunday, which is precisely what he wants them to do to her today. Just not now. Not yet anyway. Eve walks over to Sam, sliding her arms around his neck, brushing her lips against his, and John watches as he slides his huge hands down her back and cupping the globes of her ass.
“careful, son…” John says, but it’s already too late because, as he squeezes the globes of her ass, probably creating extra friction on Eve’s sensitive clit, she gasps and comes again.
“Did Artoo just…?”
“Yeah, she did.”
“For the second time, I might add, because she just creamed herself in there with me while only staring at my cock.”
She wiggles out of Sam’s grasp, and without saying a word, makes her way to the wall with the winch controller. Meanwhile, Sam and Dean head into the dressing room to change. As Eve is pressing the button to lower the winch until it’s at the correct height, they emerge again, shirtless, wearing leather pants just like him. John removes the earmuffs and the ball gag from Amber and outstretches his hand to Eve, and as she takes it, he twirls her around, so she ends up flush against his body.
“I believe some introductions are in order. Amber, this fine young lady is Mistress Eve, love of my life and theirs, as he nods to Sam and Dean. And this, my Queen, is Amber, which you already knew, after some persuasion. What you don’t know, however, is that she is a filthy fucking little cockslut, and there’s nothing she won’t fucking do to get some. Sadly, for Amber, my cock now belongs to this exquisite Queen over here and is off the market, as is Sam and Dean’s. So, no cock for you today, you little whore.”
“It sucks to be you right now,” Eve says as she looks around the loft, her eyes resting on a panel. John follows her gaze, and she’s looking at the board with the strap-ons.
“Or…not…I could fuck her for you if you want, my Love,” she says, looking at him.
“Holy smokes…shit just got fuckin’ real. You’re fuckin’ serious, aren’t you? Fuckin’ hell woman, I think I am even more in love with you right now than I was five minutes ago. You’d fuck her for me?”
“Yeah, it’s not like I haven’t done it before.”
“Hmm… I can’t wait to see this, you fucking little pervert,” he says, grinning from ear to ear, his hand squeezing her ass, feeling a little disappointed that it doesn’t make her come.
He can’t believe his luck. He has seen Eve railing Anna with a strap-on, but to get to witness her fucking another girl for him, well, that it is a fucking treat that tickles his motherfucking balls.
“So, if you’d have to choose a strap on from that panel, which one would you use?” Sam asks her.
Probably the biggest Goddamn fake cock on there. My Queen love a big cock herself.
“Like you don’t already know,” she says, grinning widely.
“Hmmm… someone’s in for a… treat.”
“If she behaves herself, then yes,” Eve says, followed by a giggle.
As John attaches Amber to the winch hook, the same music Eve used in her session with Sam starts playing. He looks her way, and she has her back turned to them, stretching her body, preparing herself, and by the way, she’s breathing, it’s not just physically, but mentally as well, to the rhythm of the music. He’s seen her do it before, in those gymnastic videos John found online.  It doesn’t surprise him that she had no problems with the breathing exercises he told her to do while he was getting her off last Wednesday since Eve uses breathing exercises for everything else in her life as well. It’s good. It means he made the right choice to let her play with one of his subs, plus he’s there to guide her through every step. Though he has a sneaking suspicion that she doesn’t need it. When Eve’s done, she moves to the rope panel gracefully. John watches as she takes a long rope off it and knots a harness on Amber, her fingers working quickly but expertly.
“Sam, can you get me a small vibrator, please?”
Sam hands her one, and John nods in silent approval as Eve ties it into the rope, passing it in between her legs and letting it rest on Amber’s clit. She’s good at this, but then again, she loves bondage, so it’s not surprising. Eve finishes the harness and gives it a few hard tugs, making Amber squirm because of the vibrator between her legs. Eve gestures towards John, and to see if she did a good job and add to Amber’s discomfort, he tugs at the harness a bit harder than Eve does, making the woman moan and yelp out in pain simultaneously. Eve takes a blindfold from the panel and picks up two additional ropes. She hands one to John, nodding at the ring on the floor. John grins as they both tie the rope to the woman’s ankle cuffs and then to the floor ring, forcing her to spread her legs, the vibrator Eve tied to the harness landing between the lips of Amber’s cunt even better.
She takes Dean’s hand, inviting him to play with them. John knows exactly why, and he likes that she knows his sons so well, Dean not being a Sadist, but very much into softer play. When his eldest reaches for the vibrator, she slaps his hand away, shaking her head.
“Not yet.”
The three of them are soon playing with Amber, twisting her nipples, covering her in candle wax, spanking her, and using all sorts of toys. John can see Eve likes this, but she’s eager to move on. With the ‘foreplay’ out of the way, she nods towards the panel with the canes, whips, and floggers, inviting Sam over to the board. Both John and Sam let her choose first, and John’s not surprised when Eve chooses Sam’s favorite cane. He likes that one too, and he knows for sure she is her father’s daughter, and there is a little Sadist hidden inside of her that enjoys inflicting pain on people. John had seen her whip it through the air her first time in the loft on the footage because, of course, there are cameras here too, and John knew she was in love with it the moment she had it in her hand. He doesn’t mind she’s picking it now, and he chooses a flogger, and so does Sam. They rotate around Amber, switching what they use to hit her with as they move. After the warming up, Eve switches on the vibrator, signaling to him and Sam that they should continue their play. Soon Amber is sobbing and screaming in pleasure and pain until she’s had enough and cries the safeword, “Poughkeepsie.”
They untie her, removing the harness, and Eve lets Amber rest for a bit. She then orders her to get on the sex swing; John and her both tying her to it, so she has nowhere to go. Eve picks the most giant strap-on from the panel, and John watches as Sam helps her strap into it. She looks super-hot with it. Standing in between Amber’s legs, he watches as Eve slides her fingers through Amber’s folds, and by the look on her face, John can see the sub is not wet enough for her taste, so Eve grabs a bottle of lube, squirting a fair amount in her hand, and moves back into her initial position. John stands behind her, pressing his body against hers, and watches her as she lathers the dildo in lube.
“That’s very considerate of you, Darlin’.”
“I know… I’m not a total Bitch.”
“Hmm... let’s fuck her together, Doll.”
John’s hips press against her ass, and they find a rhythm together, his hips pushing against hers and her hips thrusting, fucking into Amber. He wishes he had chosen another outfit because he was dying to slip his cock into her from behind, but the catsuit wasn’t the ideal garment for that. Amber is starting to moan, getting closer to her climax. John can see she’s about to come, and Eve pulls out and removes her fingers from Amber’s clit, stopping everything.
“What do you think? Has Amber been a good little slut for us? Does she deserve to cream all over our big fat fake cock?”
Jesus fucking Christ woman, that is some fucking filthy talk. I like it. Fucking sexy little Dominatrix.
Sam and Dean both nod, and John kisses her neck, nudging her ass with his hips, getting Eve back into the rhythm of fucking Amber, Eve’s fingers rubbing the subs clit until she’s close.
Fuck… Mistress… it feels so good…
“That’s it, you little dirty slut, come for me.”
Amber comes hard, trembling, her legs quaking, moaning, Eve fucking her through her orgasm. The moment she’s ridden out Amber’s climax, she pulls out, and John unbuckles her, the strap-on falling to the floor with a wet thud. John helps her untie Amber, and she pulls her up by her collar, hugging her, Amber dissolving into a puddle of tears.
“Thank you… Mistress. I…”
“Shhh…it’s okay…” Eve coos, kissing Amber’s head. She tilts her face up, looking into her eyes, and says: “Let’s get you cleaned up, okay?”
The four of them offer her water, a candy bar, and tend to her body by rubbing it in Arnica balm. When she’s ready and feeling better, John watches as Eve helps her get dressed and sends her on her way, Amber thanking her for playing with her and apologizing once more for her behavior. Amber is going to come back for more, that’s for sure, because Eve is quite a hit with the ladies, and even if Amber is straight, his Queen made her come so hard, she’s never going to forget it.
Eve checks if Amber is truly gone, and when she’s sure, she holds her hands against her head, letting out an excited squeal.
“Holy shit. I can’t believe I did all that. And I liked it.”
“Well, Doll, we’re not done yet, so brace yourself for a whole lot more fun.”
John walks up to her, throws her over his shoulder, and she yelps with delight when he slaps her ass hard as he carries her to the dressing room.
“Daddy! Put me down!”
“Not a chance, Darlin’, because I am enjoying the shit out of this,” he says, as he smacks her ass again, another delighted squeal escaping from her lips.
He only puts her down once they’re in the dressing room and the first thing she does is kiss him hungrily.
“I need to feel you inside me, Daddy.”
“Hmmm… I know you do…patience, my Queen; you’ll feel me inside you soon enough.”
“Promise?”
“Promise. Now turn around so I can unzip you.”
She turns around, looking at him over her shoulder. She sticks her tongue out between her teeth, arching her back slightly, presenting her ass is to him, tempting him to slap her again. He’s not going to refuse her when she’s that hungry for his attention. Plus, she deserves it since she’s been such a good girl for him.
“You’re a little fuckin’ tease; you know that?”
“Yes, Daddy,” she purrs, followed by a giggle and a squeak when he happily obliges her.
John reaches between her thighs, his fingers rubbing her cunt through the latex, finding the lip, and zipping her open. She takes off her boots first, and then he helps her out of the catsuit. She’s rubbing off the remaining talcum powder, John aiding her with that as well.
“I think I see some more talcum powder… right… over… here,” John says, pulling her flush against him, kissing her neck and cupping her breasts with his hands, playing with her already swollen peaks.
“Did you get it all?”
“Hmm, let me check,” he says as he moves around her. “Nope, looks like I missed three spots.”
He leans in and flicks his tongue over her right nipple, then does the same to her left, making her mewl with desire. He looks into her eyes as he kneels and slips his tongue between her folds, tasting her sweet cunt, giving some extra attention to her throbbing clit, before pulling away.
“Yeah, I think I got it all now.”
“Now who’s being the tease here again?”
“Don’t worry, Doll; you’ll be fucking coming all over the loft soon enough.”
“I can’t fucking wait.”
“I know; let’s go get you off proper now, shall we?”
Time for the best part of the day. John stands up, taking her hand, and she follows him into the play area and up the stairs, where he helps her sit in the gynecological chair, strapping her in, Sam and Dean joining them as well.
“Welcome to Eve 101, boys,” John says, all three of them staring at her, their eyes full of lust. “Eve came to me on Wednesday. And when I say came, I mean she came, because hot diggity dog, I gave it to her good. Didn’t I Darlin’? Go on, tell my boys how many times I made you come in my mouth and how many goddamn times your tight little cunt creamed all over my cock. No lying now, you know how your Daddy hates liars.”
“Fifteen, Daddy,” she whispers, her voice barely audible, as she blushes.
And that was in the car ride on the way to the mansion alone.
“And that’s only half of it, fifteen times she creamed all over my cock, the other fifteen she came in my mouth. Tell them, Darlin’, did I use any toys to get you off?”
“No, Daddy.”
“Tell my boys what I used to make you come.’
“Your mouth, your fingers, and your cock, Daddy,” she says, biting her lip.
He grins when he sees slick dripping out of her and onto the seating below her, knowing the memory of what happened that day makes her fucking horny and wet.
“Toys are fun and all, but to truly know a woman’s body is to explore it fully. To know what she likes and how she likes it. Sex is an art. And Eve is the fucking canvas.”
And what a canvas she is when I cover her in my cum.
“You see, you boys don’t know how to please Eve. You think pounding her into a mattress, using toys to make her scream and sob while she squirts all over you is pleasuring her? You’re dead fuckin’ wrong. This isn’t fuckin’ porn. It fuckin’ hurts her. And she can only handle it maybe two or three times before she’s too fuckin’ sore. Isn’t that so, Doll?”
“Yes, Daddy.”
“I know Eve is a bit of a Masochist, so she probably doesn’t mind you boys pounding into her cervix, but that’s not the way. You know why you boys make her squirt?”
“No, Sir,” they both say in sync.
“Because she has a tight fucking cunt, and we are all blessed with big fucking cocks, and depending on the position, she’s going to squirt anyway. Tell me, did either of you ever make her squirt with your fingers alone?”
Sam and Dean look at each other and then shake their heads in unison.
“Well, boys, today you’re going to learn. And I will teach you how to please our Queen over there properly. Isn’t that right, Darlin’? You ready for some real loving?”
“Hmm… yes, Daddy, but don’t forget to talk about the lube.”
“You are right, Darlin’. Use tons of it. Even if she’s wet enough, use it. It’s going to make it a lot more comfortable for her, and she’ll be a lot less sore after. So always make sure you lather your cock and her cunt in lube before you fuck. Water sex is fun, but if you’re planning on fucking her more than once, don’t do it.”
He sits on a stool between her legs, and Sam is the first to grab another and joins him. John and Sam both lube up their fingers, and Sam teasingly squirts some on her cunt, making her squeak.
“Ah! Cold.”
“Don’t worry, Doll; we’ll warm that cunt of yours up in a sec.”
Eve nods, biting his lip, as John starts to explain to Sam how to get his Queen off, telling him where her sweet spot is. John watches her close her eyes and relaxing into the chair, focusing on her breathing. She gasps when they plunge their fingers into her, John guiding Sam to her sweet spot, telling him to follow the come-hither motion precisely and rubbing their fingers along it. Dean joins in as well, lubing up and rubbing her clit, and it doesn’t take long for her to climax,
moaning and swearing as Eve gushes over their hands. Sam switches places with Dean, and soon she squirts again, and then again when Sam fingers her solo, and then again when Dean does the same.
My boys are learning. Perfect.
John unties her, picks her up, carries her down the stairs, and playfully throws her onto the bed. He drops his pants, palming his erection, pumping it a few times before he climbs on the bed with her.
“Boys, if you could get on either side of her, hold her wrists, and keep her legs spread for me, so you can both see what I am doing, that would be fucking great.”
He lubes himself up and her as well, impaling her on his cock slowly, making sure he never once loses eye-contact with her, and like the good girl she is, she’s controlling her breathing. He fucks her in a steady rhythm, showing Sam and Dean exactly how to screw her, and it doesn’t take long for her to reach her climax.
“Fuck Daddy, I’m…ungh…gonna come…”
“Hmm… look at you, coming for Daddy already like the good girl that you are.”
He makes her come a few more times before he allows himself to climax with her, as he chokes her, just the way she likes it.
John gets off the bed and puts ten marks on the blackboard, four orgasms from fingering her, six from just John fucking her. It’s Sam’s turn, and he pushes into her, and as soon as he’s inside of her, she comes, gushing all over his cock and thighs. He was expecting that; it happened to him Wednesday too. Once you make her come a few times, she keeps coming.
“Fuck her through it, Sam, nice and slow, make her feel every inch of you, keep hitting her spot.”
“Hmmm… Baby Girl…your cunt feels so fucking good…I don’t ever want to stop fucking you.”
She’s biting and scratching Sam, going buck wild underneath him, licking into his mouth, moaning his name, mewling and panting, and he growls and bites her, groaning at regular intervals, probably when she comes, because he raises his hand. Dean marks it down on the blackboard. They’re on fifteen orgasms for their Wifey now. Sam’s thrusts are getting sloppier, and John can hear her whisper: “come for me Meleth Nîn…come deep inside of me, fill me with your seed,” she says as she comes again, making that orgasm number sixteen. Sam finally climaxes, too, holding her in her place by wrapping his hands around her throat as he thrusts into her a few more times.
John isn’t planning on letting her breathe, so he signals to Dean that it’s his turn and he needs to hurry up. He’s naked and on the bed in a flash, already brandishing a condom in his hand.
“Not today, son. I know you’ve fucked her without one before, and she’s your girl now too. It’s time you remove the barrier and experience her fully now that you’ve admitted to yourself you love her.”
Dean looks at her. “You want me to fuck you without one?”
Of course, she does, you dipshit. She loves it when you pump her full of your cum.
“Yes, Dee, I want to feel you come deep inside of me…”
His eldest doesn’t waste any time when she consents, crawling on top of her and lining himself up with her entrance, slowly pushing himself into her.
“Dammit, Artoo, I’ve missed this so much…”
John can hear Eve starting to whimper as soon as Dean pushes into her, and he rushes to her side, gesturing Sam to do so as well on the other side of her. She loses complete control, writhing, grinding, clawing at the sheets, as her orgasms hit her one after the other. Dean slides his arms underneath her shoulders, pulling her close to him, stopping her from moving as he chases his climax, moaning her name. Sam and John are rubbing her thighs, soothing her, talking her through it, until Dean comes deep inside her.
Dean rolls off her, and she just lays there, completely out of it and starving.
“I’m hungry, Daddy,” she says, looking at John, her stomach growling.
“And what would you like to eat, Doll?”
“I dunno…”
“Well, we could head back to the penthouse and order pizza? Would you like that Little Bug?”
“Uh-huh. I have a mighty need for pizza.”
They gather their things and get dressed, Eve quickly rinsing her body in the shower and slipping into what she wore this morning.
Back at the penthouse, The pizza arrives, and they sit in the lounge area chatting and laughing about the entire day.
“Artoo? Can I ask you something?”
“Yeah, sure.”
“What happened that made you come when Sam grabbed your ass? And uh… before?”
“It was the catsuit. It was so Goddamn tight, and because I was… uhm…not wearing underwear. The latex and the zipper were…well…providing extra stimulation, though the visual did help. Eve giggles, glancing at John, sitting there staring at her with a delighted grin on his face. And when Sam grabbed my ass, well…”
“Still hot, though, watching you come like that.”
“Meleth Nîn, can you come with me for a sec?”
“Sure, Little Bug.”
John and Dean sit around, talking some more until they hear labored noises coming from the bedroom, paired with squeals and slapping noises.
“What on earth are they doing?” Dean asks.
“I don’t know, but I’m dying to find out son, let’s go see what kind of freaky-deeky shit is going down on the new bed.”
They sneak towards the bedroom, and when they enter, they see both Sam and Eve engaged in a wrestling match, with scratching and biting and slapping included. She’s cute because there’s no way she could ever win this, but she’s not giving up. He can see her thinking, and just like Sam, he realizes what she’s planning.
“Don’t you dare…. Ungh...” he groans as she grips his cock, firmly, immobilizing him.
That cheeky little shit. Look at that smug little face. I wonder how Sam is going to get out of it.
“Let go, Little Bug.”
“Nuh-uh.”
He fists her hair, pulling her head back roughly, biting her neck and jaw.
“Let go.”
“Nope.”
With his free hand, he reaches between them, pushing two fingers inside of her, but that only makes her grip him tighter.
“Goddammit, woman, let go.”
“Make me.”
He starts to finger her, rubbing her clit with his thumb, just like John taught him. As he works her closer to her climax, she starts working his cock too, until they both come at the same time, his cum shooting all over her abdomen and cunt, Eve finally letting him go as she gushes over his hand.
John clears his throat, letting them know they’re no longer alone, and it doesn’t take the four of them long to pick up where they left off in the loft,
making her come over and over and over again until they all fall asleep, exhausted.
To be continued...
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ericvick · 25 days ago
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Marty Walsh the mayor: A transform agent, but not by himself
Marty Walsh served as Boston’s mayor for a little more than 7 yrs, a time that unfolded mostly as a dashboard of growth and inclusion, with units of development, stasis, or misplaced ground. But in a considerably less granular future, he will be judged extra as the mayor who aided the city out of one disaster only to contend with yet another.
He introduced his to start with candidacy for Mayor of Boston in April 2013, significantly less than two weeks right after his predecessor, Tom Menino, whose fifth straight time period had been hampered by a collection of overall health problems, created it regarded he would not request a sixth. Neither conclusion was pretty shocking. As a condition agent and labor leader from Dorchester, Walsh used a long time developing alliances, navigating via differences of race, community, and social agenda. With his attention to individual get hold of and personal needs—including work opportunities in the creating trades and aid with restoration, he was groomed as a single more exponent of the “retail politics” related with his most current predecessors—Menino and Ray Flynn.
Political Template and Personal Get in touch with
Interviewed only a thirty day period into his campaign, Walsh outlined himself as a political merchandise of the city who started off out as a young foot soldier in nearby campaigns. “Being in a position to aid someone, a family member, get into detox, give counselling to a dad or mum or a thing like that,” he reported, “that means an dreadful good deal to me, and I have finished it my complete vocation. It is what I adore, it is my passion. I enjoy encouraging people. And that’s why I’m managing for mayor.”
At the identical time, Walsh praised Menino’s role in the resurgence of massive-scale development in downtown Boston and the rising Seaport District, both of which ended up accompanied by continuously higher bond rankings for the town. Vowing to be the “CFO of the City of Boston,” Walsh pressured the worth of work as the way to elevate earnings and fix challenges. It was an update of the identical growth credo that experienced held sway in Metropolis Hall considering the fact that 1949, when John B. Hynes defeated James Michael Curley.
Significantly less than a few months following Menino’s announcement, the city was rattled to its core by the bombing in the vicinity of the end line of the Boston Marathon. It was a blow to Boston’s standing as a planet-course city, but also something particular for Walsh. A person of the victims, 8-12 months-previous Martin Richard, played in the similar Minimal League where Walsh was a mentor. A handful of nights right after the bombing, 3,000 people today responded with a vigil at Garvey Playground in Dorchester. Walsh was there, searching quite much like the very same figure stockpiling 1-on-one particular contacts with voters at a polling spot or a candidate discussion board.
By means of the relaxation of 2013, Menino presided about the beginning of recovery – and also summoned the duck boats for one more Globe Series championship celebration. But the Walsh for Mayor marketing campaign signage—matching the colours of the Boston Purple Sox—also channeled the spirit of “Boston Strong” that would afterwards be revived in the “One Boston” events on the bombing’s anniversary.
Seven yrs later, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, a mayor employed to personal speaking to and whole-throated gatherings observed himself governing as a product of experience mask attire and social distancing. When the distribute of bacterial infections and fatalities overlapped with the national surge of protest more than the racial divide exacerbated by the use of drive by law enforcement, the changeover from continuity to improve became all the much more urgent. As marchers took to the streets in Boston and others throughout the place – and practically 3 months right after racial disparities have been spotlighted by Metropolis Councillor Ricardo Arroyo – Walsh declared racism a “public health and fitness crisis.”
Entrenched Divides, Struggles with Progress
If there was a racial reckoning for Walsh, it would be inaccurate to say it was sudden. Even although his co-finalist in the November 2013 election was a fellow Irish-American, John Connolly, each were being pressed to make the forged of metropolis federal government a closer match for Boston’s increasingly various populace.
In November 2014, as protests raged close to the nation following a jury refused to indict a white police officer for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Walsh took part—mostly as a listener – in a talk-out at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. The dialogue touched on racial profiling and accountability for the actions of law enforcement. Walsh explained the challenge was also something further, which could be recognized as acknowledging its seriousness, but also the restricted powers of a single mayor.
He did provide racial range to positions with significant profile in his administration, most visibly with the city’s initially Asian-American faculty superintendent and the to start with African-American law enforcement commissioner, but also with cabinet appointments for economic development and wellbeing and human products and services. What transformed pretty small was the disproportionate share of folks of shade in positions with lower visibility and shell out.
Walsh also set additional formidable targets for range and the using the services of of Boston inhabitants on important construction jobs in Boston. But as late as 2020, community advocates have been continuing to express irritation with the lack of development. And metrics for town spending on products and products and services continued to clearly show a broad racial hole, even as late as early 2021.
For the duration of Walsh’s tenure, the dropout premiums for the Boston Community Educational facilities confirmed an overall drop and the higher college graduation amount climbed to an all-time higher in 2018, only to decrease the following year. The absence of all round development was adequate to bring about a heightened danger of intervention from the State Department of Elementary Education and learning, coming fewer than two months just after the most recent Boston College Superintendent, Brenda Cassellius, released her 5-calendar year strategic system. She is the fourth superintendent to provide underneath Walsh, creating for the optimum turnover charge of that workplace underneath any Boston mayor given that at minimum the beginning of the 20th century.
Mayor Walsh utilised an excavator to ceremonially kick off construction for A single Seaport Sq. on Nov. 14, 2014. Mayor’s Business office image by Don Harney
Growth, Displacement, Arrested Development
In his very first term, Walsh tried out to spur new varieties of growth, even for the hours when Boston’s vibrancy could be open for business enterprise. The feasible choice of Boston for internet hosting the Olympics in 2024 triggered some fleeting euphoria, but even more questions and press-again. Nor did any positive aspects materialize from an abortive proposal to use sections of the Seaport District for an IndyCar race.
Possibly the most outstanding expansion metric under Walsh was for housing generation.
He exceeded the speed in his Boston 2030 approach and even elevated the bar in 2018, right after expectations have been also revised upwards for Boston’s inhabitants expansion.
The 2018 revision set a intention of 69,000 new units by 2030, with 16,000 of them income-restricted, to be created achievable by bigger linkage contributions from developers and zoning largesse from the metropolis.
A Boston 2030 report cited a modest drop in the price tag of leasing the city’s older housing, but other figures showed some of the most economical places ended up faced with a increased rate of evictions—even right before the economic disaster brought on by the pandemic. Alongside the Fairmount/Indigo rail line—a primary conduit for transit-oriented housing, a lot of residents of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park confronted displacement or steep increases in hire.
The very same population progress that fed the supply of housing and careers also resulted in far more website traffic congestion. Walsh oversaw efforts to diversify transportation, with far more lanes for bikes and buses. But, just after a succession of fare will increase on the MBTA, the similar populace battling disproportionately squeezed by the housing marketplace struggled with the price tag of transportation and, in lots of conditions, substandard assistance.
Mayor Walsh, surrounded by associates of the Boston City Council and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, declared the district-huge closure of all Boston Public Faculties as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the town in March 2020. Isabel Leon/Mayor’s Office picture
From Disaster Applicant to Anti-Trump Personage
The to start with crisis to confront Walsh as mayor was the closing of the Extended Island Bridge, with a have to have to uncover rapid substitution for the reduction of the island’s recovery plans and shelter potential. He responded with new amenities and new gains for transitional housing. But the troubling spectacle of unmet requires all over homelessness and drug activity at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard—much of it gravitating to Boston from other communities – remained in location, and, through the pandemic, turned even more alarming.
In March 2020, when Boston had experienced only its second loss of life from the pandemic, Walsh brought on the retired four-star typical Stanley McChrystal as an crisis guide for pandemic response. Following intense outbreaks in northern Italy and New York Town, there was an powerful concentration on stopping bacterial infections and including potential for treatment—even if it meant shutting countless numbers of people out of operate and closing educational facilities.
Pandemic response also intended an considerable reduction effort—in some scenarios creating on grassroots efforts and assist from small business leaders. By January of this year, the “Boston Resiliency Fund” had dispersed more than $30 million, typically for simple requires and enable with remote mastering, alongside with help for first responders and healthcare staff. By the city’s count, far more than 50 percent the grants went to companies headed by gals or people today of shade. Walsh experienced to concurrently be a mayor for neighborhoods and downtown, but in a way not foreseen seven several years previously.
The racial disparities in Boston’s pandemic figures were extraordinary early on, with Blacks accounting for far more than 40 p.c of the spread almost by way of the stop of April 2020. However that determine would gradually lower to significantly less than 25 %, the number of fatalities remained disproportionately significant.
Walsh also experienced to contend with the division in between men and women who could function or analyze from home and individuals who depended on in-man or woman call for earnings and training. As he was creating his transition to become President Biden’s Secretary of Labor, inquiries about the balance in between shutdown and reopening ended up nonetheless being debated, most critically about no matter whether a distinctive mix of management and assets could have speeded up reopening of educational institutions, at the very least for early grades.
As he was on the lookout to one more election calendar year in 2021, Walsh could have followed the playbook of Donald Trump: boasting of the financial development just before a pandemic inflicted from outside the house, or even reinforcing a division concerning the champions of reopening and proponents of warning. Rather, the mayor forged himself as the anti-Trump, as he had geared up his re-election campaign 4 a long time previously, in 2017.
If Trump claimed to be the one and only person who could restore greatness on a nationwide scale, Walsh solid himself as the city’s listener, learner, and issue solver. By approving reforms in police accountability—advanced by his have undertaking power in 2020, but subsequent a push by numerous other elected officers from Boston—Walsh did invite the issue of what could possibly have been accomplished faster experienced he been extra assertive.
Even if his tenure supplied considerably less continuity than envisioned, he was continue to Trump’s reverse: an agent of improve, soon after all, but not on his personal.
Mayor Walsh exited phase remaining at Boston’s Symphony Corridor subsequent one particular of his State of the Metropolis speeches held in the live performance location. Chris Lovett picture
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neokids · 25 days ago
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Fortune's Fool: Act V
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Masterlist
Act V
Tw: Lots of blood, character death, violence, murder, guns, knives, weapons, foul language, self-inflicted wounds, suicide, overall graphic content
“I just don’t understand” Yeji exclaimed as she was pacing around her room back and forth, “Who does he think he is? Who is he to walk these grounds like he owns the place?!” Yeji finally sighed as she sat just beside Karina and Lia on her bed.
Karina and Lia could only sigh in return, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that the twins also despised Hyunjin. It wasn’t because of Yeji’s reasons, but because Hyunjin would never let them forget they weren’t, and never will be, Hwangs.
“You know, worse comes to worse, you could just easily slip a drug in his night tea and pretend it was–Ow! Lia!” Karina tried, only for Lia to accidentally tug a little bit too tight on her hair.
“Stop moving so much when you talk then, Jesus…” Lia said as she gripped Karina’s hair tighter, only for the latter to let out another yelp in pain. “Do you want two perfectly even dutch braids or two ‘I-look-like-I-came-home-from-a-long-night-out’ braids hmm?” With that said, Karina’s face started to slowly morph into a sly smile.
“Depends on what I was doing in that long night out,” She paused as she batted her eyelashes, “I don’t mind spending a few hours with a stranger,” Karina said as she wiggled her eyebrows towards her sister and her cousin. Yeji let out a short chuckle as she threw a pillow to her face, due to Karina’s fast reflexes, she was immediately able to dodge it. Her statement earlier only made Lia tighten her grip even more, causing Karina to immediately shut up.
“You know what I think, dearest twin of mine? I think you should learn to loosen up.” Karina said as she tried to look at her sister, only for Lia to jerk Karina’s head back to its original position. “What were you saying again, Yeji?” Lia said as she wanted to quickly get on topic.
“I was saying that who does Hyunjin think he is, I just don’t get why he desperately wants to take what’s mine.” Yeji said as she rolled her eyes, just thinking about her cousin already made her a little irritated.
“The way I see it, he doesn’t really have a say in this gang, he’s just a nuisance–”
“Hush, stop talking. I think someone’s outside.” Yeji immediately cut Karina’s sentence as she stood up and placed her ear on the door.
It wasn’t an uncommon thing for maids to eavesdrop on what they had to say, but when someone would eavesdrop while they were talking in fast English, was. Not everyone in the Hwang household had the ability to speak the said language, even if the person outside was listening, they doubt they could actually understand them. In the silence, the footsteps sounded again, only this time the sounds were actually faltering, a sign that said they left already.
“They’re gone, anyway as I was saying, I doubt everyone would agree to his stupid strategies, I doubt no one would even listen to him. ” Karina said as she stood up and looked at herself in the mirror, satisfied with how her braids turned out.
“Yeah, I mean at the end of the day, Lord Hwang would always have the final say, your dad would always have the final say.” Lia added as she cracked her knuckles after braiding Karina’s waist-length hair, “But I worry, times like this cause people to act without thinking.” Yeji admitted as she rose from her seat and headed towards her balcony.
“We may have not discussed it out loud, but the deaths already have been piling up. How long before we have no one or nothing to rule over?” She added as she gripped the railings harder,
“That won’t happen,” Lia tried as she combed through her own hair, “Seoul is under our–”
“Seoul was under our power.” Karina corrected, causing Yeji to look at her. ” Now we have those stupid Neos to fight while trying to maintain our power over everything and everyone else.”
“Oy didn’t you go to school with a Neo before?” Lia suddenly asked. The question had startled Karina, she didn’t expect for a question like that to be thrown to her face. The question only made Yeji gulp in anticipation as well, no one knew she had loved the heir of the Neos, not even her two most trusted people standing right in front of her.
Karina had to blink a few times before she could answer, “Yeah… But I realized only after transferring to your school that he was a Neo, he wasn’t vocal about it I guess…”
Karina didn’t originally attend the same school as Yeji and her sister did. She had to attend this other school since she was too bad at Korean. She had spent only a year there, only keeping to herself since she saw no point in trying to make friends only for her to leave them. The school she had attended was unfortunately run by the Rovers, meaning her title as a Viper had no bearing there whatsoever. And so for the first weeks in school, it was just her. Not until a certain boy had approached her, and suddenly started talking. Karina looked at him in surprise, how could he keep talking and talking for so long about something the person he was talking to had no idea about? He was talking about this painting that he had wanted to desperately buy, yet couldn’t since it was placed on bidding, and he said he was too young to attend one of those, but he still kept going. Everyday he would approach Karina and tell the most random stories imaginable, from what he had seen going to school, to asking Karina whether or not she believed in the La Llorona.
As the school year passed, Karina kept her distance. She didn’t want to make friends, obviously. He was too much for her, he was all over the place. Everything was going fine one day, until he came into school. He had changed entirely. He was stoic, face blank, void of any emotion whatsoever. Karina almost remembered her trying to approach him, but she had stopped herself. Soon enough, the school year was over, and it was her time to leave.
“Was he nice?” Lia had asked, causing Karina to snap out of her trance. She could only shrug, “Eh, he was fine I guess, I didn’t really care. Different from that arrogant Jeno Lee, I guess.”
This time it was Yeji’s turn to snap out of her trance. Her eyebrow had twitched, blood rising to her head. Just hearing his name made Yeji’s vision hazy with rage. Just as she could say anything, a knock made its way to their ears. “Come in.” Yeji answered. The new maid took only one step in her room. “There is a visitor downstairs, miss” The maid asked, hands fiddling with the hem of her skirt, Yeji could only groan.
“So? It is not I who entertains guests in this household, my parents are the ones responsible for that.” She asked as she crossed her legs. “Sh-should I just ask Hwang Hyunjin? Your parents are not here so I assume you were the next per–”
“No it’s fine, leave Hyunjin alone. Alright, I’m coming.” With that said, the maid immediately fled from her room. Eversince Nurse died, Yeji had learned her lesson. The maids were always being replaced every month. This was for their safety, and to prevent them from knowing too much.
“There it is again,” Lia said, making Karina snicker. “There is what again?” Yeji asked, oblivious why the twins were suddenly giddy. “The expression on your face that looks like you’re about to strangle someone,” Yeji feigned a hurt expression and exaggerated a gasp, “You bi–”’
“Shoo.” Lia said standing up, pushing Yeji towards the door. “Go attend your duties.”
As Yeji went downstairs, she stopped by her parents’ office only to see them discussing something. “I thought the maid said you weren’t here?” With that, Lord and Lady Hwang only looked at each other.
“They say what we want them to say, the visitor specifically asked for your presence.” Lady Hwang said as she flicked her wrist, signaling Yeji to go.
“Secretary-general Jinyoung Park has been growing in power recently, the whole rover side even.” His father said in a hushed tone, causing Yeji to freeze just outside their door. “I don’t see how and why the people of Seoul choose to side with them, why now when there is this madness happening.” Her mother added, stressed and confused.
“Word on the street says they have made a vaccine.” Lord Hwang said as he turned towards Lady Hwang who was now more confused than ever, so was Yeji outside the door.
A vaccine? To this madness? How could they make a vaccine so soon?
“What?” Lady Hwang asked as she removed the hand resting on her forehead. “A vaccine?”
“Indeed. Times like this when people are scared, they cling to almost everything. They need reassurance, comfort, anything they need to make them feel they still have control over the madness.” Lord Hwang concluded, sharp and quick.
Yeji could only stare at them for a while before actually moving. She had to process everything she had heard. As she bound the last step, she already saw a figure sitting.
“Hello!” Yeji shouted, “I am here! What is it you need, stranger?” She entered the room only to find the same figure already looking up at her with a gummy smile. The stranger quickly rose to his feet, he was around her age, and he extended his hand.
“My father couldn't make it today, so he sent me.” He said, expression very bright with his gummy smile. Yeji almost found her smiling at the stranger in front of her, but before she could, she quickly brushed it off, maintaining her sharp expression.
“I’m Yangyang, Yangyang Liu.”
Oh, he’s the son Mr. Liu was talking about.
Yeji accepted his hand and shook it. Just before she was about to let go, he brought Yeji’s hand to his lips and smiled.
“And you’re Yeji Hwang.” He concluded before letting go, Yeji wasn’t flustered at all. In fact, she was more surprised by the fact that he sounded like native Korean speaker, a very different contrast from his father.
“I suppose you’re here for the same reason?” She asked as she sat down a few seats away from Yangyang, the latter following suit.
“Yes actually. We have much more supply of Kryocrom and I promise you you won’t find better quality and price elsewhere.”
Yeji sighed, this would have been much easier if the man beside her wasn’t as charming as he looked. Just as she was about to answer, she saw Karina and Lia enter the living room. Lia was so focused on reading her daily horoscope that she had failed to see Yeji. Karina on the other hand, was thoughtful enough to stick her tongue out for her cousin, she could only playfully role her eyes.
“You have sisters?” Yangyang suddenly asked, his smile not faltering. “Oh hell no,” Karina said, walking towards them.
“I already have a twin who’s such a pain in the ass. I don’t need another to add to my misery.” Karina said, a bit too exaggerated, causing Yangyang to laugh a little and for Yeji to send a glare. Hearing Yangyang’s laugh only made Karina smile and wink as she took a piece of candy from the jar on the table in front of them.
“Good luck,” She said before she left to catch up with Lia.
“Please, Mr. Liu, do take one.” Yeji said as she motioned towards the jar of candy.
“Thank you, don’t mind If I do,” Yangyang said before getting a piece and popping it into his mouth. “And please, do call me Yangyang, Mr. Liu is my father. We are a new generation, aren’t we?”
Yeji could only grip the armchair of the seat she was sitting on. She let out a steady breath to shake off the feeling of cringe. “Well most certainly, Yangyang.”
“We have been admiring the Vipers for a while now.” Yangyang said as he swallowed the candy, “My father has high hopes of a partnership.”
A visible annoyed expression was displayed on Yeji’s face. A loud sigh could also be heard from her, she looked away for a moment only for her to look back to see Yangyang’s enthusiastic face.
“I’ll give you the same reply that I gave your father then.” She continued as she crossed her legs. “We are not accepting any new offers from new clients. We are already so busy enough with our current ones.”
Yangyang only exaggerated a sigh and leaned forward, thinking it had made any influence on Yeji. “Oh come on, Yeji.” Yangyang said with puppy eyes.
This only made the urge to roll her eyes harder to fight. He did not look pleasing whatsoever, thoughts she had when she hadn’t known that he was Mr. Liu’s son all came upon her in a wave of regret.
“I told you, we don’t want to.” Yeji said, making sure her tone was sharp and firm. “I hear there’s a rival business who might be more willing to accept our–”
“Perhaps you should try them then.” Yeji said, standing up as she adjusted her dress. It wasn’t their loss anyway. In fact, the Lius were actually a client they wanted to lose. The threat of going to the Neos did not matter at all, Yeji was glad even.
“Wait wha–”
“I appreciated you going all the way here…” Yeji pretended to think, “Winwin? Yiyang? Ningning?”
“Yangyang… but close enough, I guess.” Yangyang said as she stood up.
“Ah yes of course!” Yeji tried her hardest to charm a smile, “Have a great day, Yangyang!”
She went to the door in three large steps, eager for the Chinese visitor to leave. She motioned for Yangyang to come to the door, her hands already on the heavy door handles.
Yangyang, who quickly reacted, immediately stood up and made his way to the door. He was now face to face with Yeji.
“As you wish,” He stepped out and took one step, before turning around to meet Yeji again. “But may I make a request, Miss Hwang?”
“My apologies, Yangyang but I already–”
“May I see you again?” He asked, full gummy smile on show.
Yeji had to blink several times before she could answer “If it does not have anything to do with business…” She trailed off before looking at Yangyang.
“Then I guess we may,” Yeji thought it wasn’t possible for the boy to smile brighter, but she was wrong. He looked like a child who was finally entering Disneyland for the first time.
“I’ll see you then, Yeji.” With one last smile and last nod, he left. Just as Yeji closed the door, she was immediately greeted by two faces.
“Who was that?” Lia asked, all curious now. “Is he a suitor or something?”
“He’s cute, Yeji. I thought you had no interest in him.” Karina said with a huff.
“A stranger, Lia. He’s just a stranger.”
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imthekingofnewyork · 26 days ago
Text
HOW DOES THIS EVEN HAPPEN???
This is one of my fics from my ao3 but i really wanted to post it here cause i really like it soo- --- Joan had been having a peaceful weekend. Note the word had. Because it had been a peaceful weekend. Her foster parents were out of town for the day on business and she was home alone and watching tv when she heard the house phone ring from down the hall.
She begrudgingly got up from her blanket nest on the couch and picked up the phone on the third ring.
“Hey Joan,” a calm voice said from the other line.
She checked the caller ID and it was coming from Jack's house but the voice didn’t sound like jacks. The voice was higher than jacks but more calm than his, and it didn’t have his usual stammer. She knew it wasn’t Jack but she asked anyways.
“Jack?” She asked, confused. Mainly because neither of Jack's dads called her house and Jack usually didn’t wake up until noon on weekends.
“No Vincent actually. So funny story,” He said from the other line. “Your boyfriends stuck in the banister.” He said simply.
There was a moment of silence.
“Um, what?” She asked, obviously confused.
“Your boyfriend got his head stuck in the banister.” He said again.
There was another moment of silence.
“Your-you're joking right?” She said, not believing Jack would be that stupid to do something like that.
“I really really wish I was Joan,” Vincent said, still pretty calm.
Joan didn’t respond.
“Yeah, i came over to work on our science project and his head was stuck in between the bars of the banister.’’ He said, still relatively calm. Then another voice chimed in from the background.
“Don’t believe him Joan he er uh told me to!” the voice yelled. Ok, now this voice sounded like Jacks.
“No I didn't! I said ‘Jack don’t stick your head in the banister you’ll get stuck’ and then you proceeded to stick your head in the banister and you got stuck,” Vincent yelled to Jack.
“Anyways we need you to come by and help get him out, I already called cleo and she's on her way.” Vincent said, turning the conversation back to Joan.
She couldn’t help but chuckle slightly at the situation. Jack’s done some stupid stuff before but they most of the time didn’t need three people to get him out of the situation.
“So can you help?” Vincent said, also laughing slightly.
Joan mumbled out a ‘yeah’ in between giggles.
Joan hung up the phone and quickly made herself look halfway decent and made her way to Jack's house.
---
Vincent heard the dial tone and clicked the phone back into the receiver. He chuckled slightly before turning back to Jack.
The taller boy was currently curled up with his hands holding two of the bars next to his head.
“I still can’t believe you got your head stuck here,” Vincent said, a small grin plastered on his face. “Please shut upppp” Jack groaned from his place next to the banister.
He stopped teasing the taller boy when he heard the doorbell ring and he had to sort of step over said taller boy to actually get to the front door. When he did finally get to the door he saw the much taller black haired girl.
She pushed past him and made her way to the stairs where she saw her ex boyfriend curled up on the stairs with his head once again, stuck in the banister. She also couldn’t hold back laughter when she saw this scene. She bent over giggling for a few moments before collecting herself and going to investigate to see how to fix this.
“How-how did this happen?” She asked, a small bit of laughter coming out at the end.
“I honestly don’t know, he says i told him too but i think we both know that's a lie” Vincent said, going to stand next to cleo.
Jack groaned from his place on the stairs.
“Ask questions later, get me out now,” He said, trying to deflect from the subject.
“Ok so we can’t bend the bars, they are wood so if we call the fire department they should be able to saw him out,” Cleo said, starting to go over to the house phone.
“NO! No no no no no no no” He said as he struggled which was hard to do since he was still stuck. “We can’t do that my parents can’t know about this,” He said, turning as much as he could.
Everyone was silent for a moment.
“And why is that?” Vincent asked as Cleo stopped dialing the phone.
Jack murmured something under his breath.
“Sorry what was that?” Cleo said loudly and obnoxiously.
Jack sucked in a breath and just as he opened his mouth to say something the doorbell rang, rather loudly because of the quiet house.
Vincent sighed but stepped over Jack and made his way to the front door. He swung it open to see the pink haired goth girl with a crowbar in her hand. She also pushed past him and quickly made her way to the stuck boy.
Vincent quickly followed, laughing slightly when he saw the look of terror on Jack's face as he tried to force his head out.
“NO no no no no no no no no no no no you are not using that,” He said, pointing at the crowbar.
“Yeah don’t deflect from it, why can’t your parents know?” Cleo said accusingly.
There was another long pause.
“Ok so i may or may not have,” He said, gesturing. “I er I may or may not have done this… before,” He said shamefully, looking down at the floor as a dark blush colored his face. There was a moment of silence before it was broken by Joans almost choked back chuckle.
Jack just rested his head against the floor as both Vincent and Cleo laughed, imagining a younger Jack getting his head stuck in this same railing. Joan came up to him and squatted down to his level and set a hand on his back and also giggled along with them.
After it died down a bit they realised that if they force it enough they might be able to get his head out. They decided to just pull for a while and see where that led.
---
All three of them had been pulling on Jacks torso from behind him for the past half an hour and they had only been able to dislodge his head just a tiny bit. At one point there was talk of pouring butter on his head to see if that would work but Jack refused, saying something about how it’d ruin his hair and that was the end of it.
Joan was now seriously considering using the crowbar she brought along.
After a small break they started pulling again and finally after nearly an hour of pulling they were all pulled back against the wall next to the stairs and finally Jack was free. His neck had red marks on it and his face was a bit flushed but he was fine.
Jack promised not to do that again but i think both of us know thats a lie.
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