#fallen hero fanfic
chaniters · 11 months ago
And I never told him.
Just some short Ortega introspection on Cyrus, memories and other stuff. _________________________ It was a particular kind of tragedy that he couldn’t see it.
And of course, if you dared mention something, It would be dismissed. “You’re just saying that because you like me” he’d say. What an absurd sentence…
Shouldn’t liking him be further proof that you also liked what you saw? You could never understand why he wouldn’t accept any compliments.
He was barely a skinny ginger kid when you first met him, no matter how hard he tried to deny it. For two years you could only take glimpses of the pale and anxious kid, that is, during the brief instants in which he even dared take his mask off. It wasn’t until the Psychopathor disaster that you managed to get a good look when an unplanned kiss made him lower his guard.
By then, you had seen him become a man, decided to measure up to the job he had chosen. What he didn’t have in stature he made up within tenacity. He remained lean but became defined, you could tell even under all the silly layers he wore.
All of it happened during endless hours of shared training. It’s hard not to remember Anathema, towering above him, laughing as he tried to hit him, while he dodged each punch, barely moving from the spot. It looked like Themmie was fighting their own shadow, and it could go on forever until Sidestep finally took a hit. At some point he started laughing too, taunting Themmie to go faster, once he felt he could let the facade fall around you two.
You’re not exactly sure when did things change, but it definitely had to do with your insisting that he should train against someone he couldn’t read if he wanted to get better. He agreed -he almost always agreed to any stupid thing that came out of your mouth come to think about it- and that’s when things began to get physical.
That’s when you began noticing the looks he was giving you, the contact that you were both holding longer than necessary, the closeness and the smell of his sweat… Pinning him down suddenly became more than just training, and you started to wonder if he was losing on purpose.
You called him out on it… of course, you did. You remember how he looked at you.
And then asked him if it was crazy that you wanted to kiss him. He said it was, asked why would you even think of that.
You told him the truth… he had become a handsome devil and it was impossible to resist.
But he wouldn’t accept it.
Not even if you described how you could spend hours looking into the loveliest forest eyes.
No. You knew better by then.
That’d just make him flee, turn away, avoid your gaze, anything to push you away as if being truly seen was the worst kind of torture.
No, you had to get creative.
Psychopathor was getting old, he wasn’t always going to be around to facilitate things.
So you’d claim there was something in your eye, let him fruitlessly look for it, enjoying every moment. Anything to get him close until he realized he’d been fooled yet again, blushing all over his freckled cheeks. You’d laugh, and he’d pretend to be angry but he rarely pulled. No, he stood his ground, calling your bluff, wanting to know what would happen next.
Left you no choice but to go further, because that’s what Charge does best.
And you would pull him closer, rumple his annoying wildfire hair, receive the hopeless smile of surrender, and get called an idiot.
You’d feel his dumb dry lips at the tip of your tongue, watching the brief jump of (fear? excitement?) in his system as he realized the two of you were going to make out again.
Each time he swore it’d be the last. Each time you made him a liar. Worse, he always kissed back. It was like flipping a switch, suddenly he’d be the one who was rough and hungry for more.
You could never figure out what broke the spell. What made him pull back, laugh nervously, make a mess of himself as he babbled some made-up excuse, while you held him in your arms, looking down at him with sad patience.
Watching him go was Infuriating.
Cheerful wave, gentle walk before he transformed, reverting to his usual cautious stance as if the world was out to get him.
Fuck the world, you’re the one who wanted to get him and he kept getting away…
The same regular car crash almost every other week. No matter how many times you told yourself you were over it, you’d always step on the gas and collide against the same tree, ending up alone to gather the pieces. Was it the same for him? Were you going crazy?
And then he died, leaving you without an answer.
You can’t even remember his eyes anymore.
Can’t remember his smile.
Would you even recognize him, if a miracle brought him back?
Only there are no miracles.
Not for Ricardo Ortega, Los Diablos very own punching bag.
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wesker20 · 2 years ago
Another gift exchange I did, this time for @boundtoanandroid and their sidestep, Six. Inspired by one of the pictures in their Tumblr. Enjoy.
"Agh" Ortega groans right as the cloth makes contact with the wound. You're cleaning his wounds, of course. Because if you don't do it, he won't. Or at least, not as good as he should. Besides, it's the least you could do, you gave him this wound.
"Stop acting like a baby, It's not that deep," you tell him as you touch the wound with the cloth bit by bit, slowly, touching it only with the tip of your fingers.
"Of course you'll say that. Trying to make yourself feel better about it," he chuckles right before you cause him to groan in pain. On purpose this time.
"I barely even slashed you. You're just being childish." You put the cloth aside and begin preparing the bandages. "Why would you even leave yourself open like that," you mutter. Not low enough though, as he hears you.
"You're too fast." He smiles with that big smile only he can muster. Your heart stops for a second and your body freezes over. Damn you, Ricardo Ortega.
"Uhuh, because it was not predictible at all." You begin wrapping the bandage around with a care you didn't know you had.
"Ok, I wanted to give you at least a couple of attacks in. I mean if you can't get a couple in you'd be a crappy villain and no one would pay any attention to you."
"Since when are you an expert?" You are almost done.
"Being fighting them for a decade, you know." There's that damn smile again. You begin fuming at it.
"Stop smiling," you say as you finish the bandage and cross your arms. Your cheeks not red at all. Not at all.
"You look stupid," you say puffing and looking away, but whatever he was looking in your face, he found because that smile only grows.
"I think you're the only person in the world who thinks that, Six."
"I'm also the only person who has to deal with it every day," you mutter. Again, not low enough, though.
"What?" He says.
"What?" You say. "Nothing turn around so I can continue on the back," you finish while grabbing a new piece of cloth to wet.
"But like that you won't be able to see my precious smile."
You stare at him with the blankest expression you can muster. Which isn't much because you're smiling. "You're an idiot."
"No, you are."
You both chuckle.
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ladyshivs · 2 years ago
Session Number
Fandom: Fallen Hero: Rebirth (all disclaimers to @fallenhero-rebirth)
WC~ 2700
Pairings: Referenced Flystep (Herald/Richard)
Tags: your regularly scheduled therapy break, Dr. Finch, farm headcanons, retribution spoilers, safe for work, discussions of self worth, shaky descriptions of psychology 
Dr. Finch is interested in Richard’s relationships with other people
Dr. Finch shifted, adjusting her legs and crossing them. Ran a hand over her notepad as though it could help smooth down those sharper bits that they kept snagging on. Richard could follow the line of thought on her mental map steadily enough to see where it was headed. Where the last stop for that session would be. If he let it end there.
Ah, beans.
“We haven’t spent too much time discussing your partner,” she opened with, giving him a quick glance up from her notepad. And then added on quietly: “We don’t need to use names, if you’re not comfortable with that,” but she knew. Finch wasn’t the sort to spend her time watching gossip tv shows, but she went to the grocery store. Newsstands and food stalls to grab a cup of coffee occasionally. And sometimes the headlines in the gossip rags propped out front of the checkout line were too bright to miss.
At least she had the decency to let him try and wiggle out from it. Richard felt his hands twist hard and could do nothing to stop them.
“Nope. We haven’t,” mouth tight and not poisonous yet. Yet. His tongue was filing itself down against the edges of his teeth—sharpening itself. Just in case. Of. In case of what? He wasn’t sure.
Dr. Finch paused, scribbled a few words, and then looked back at him. “We don’t need--,” she began to repeat again, silenced by his hand waving dismissively.
“We can talk about it,” which earned him a long silence from her. A gentler movement as she set her notebook aside. A sort of olive branch, were it not for the fact that Richard knew how keenly her memory worked if and when he didn’t slide in to remove his mistakes after a session. It was a display; she’d make her mental notes all the same. Still. It was appreciated that she was at least. Richard sighed. “What do you want to know?” and Dr. Finch smiled kindly, relaxing back into her chair.
“We can start with just telling me about them,” she suggested. There was an open door in that sentence, waiting for Richard to step through it. “How the two of you met, what you like about them. You’ve been together for almost as long as you’ve been coming to see me,” which was a sentence that barged into Richard’s mind, not even bothering to wipe it’s feet. Tracking mud and leaving a stink with it.  
“Don’t act like you don’t know who he is,”
Finch had the decency to look sheepish as she nodded. “I didn’t want to make assumptions,” a mild defense, said more for the saying than for anything else. “Although, for the record, me knowing who he is doesn’t tell me much about why you like him,”
“We met through Ricardo, a while ago,” timelines could be dangerous for someone as observant as Doctor Finch. “The first time I met him I thought he was obnoxious. All this…peppy boy scout energy,” the eye roll couldn’t be contained but Richard did his best to minimize it by looking over at the far wall. “He was just. He felt. Too bright, if that makes sense,”
Apparently it didn’t. Or Dr. Finch wanted an excuse to needle a bit more at that statement. “Can you explain what you mean by too bright feeling?” and. Alright, she made the mental map shift a bit to accommodate ‘bright’ as though he meant quick witted. With a question mark next to it. The request for explanation was a valid one.
“I mean. Have you ever gone,” he trailed. “Like when you leave a movie theater in the middle of the day. You go from this dark room where your eyes have adjusted and then step out into the sun—you can’t see straight and have to flinch and squint because everything’s too bright,” which didn’t help very much, but Dr. Finch adjusted the map again, plotting out a different route. And then waiting to see what he would say next. “So. So he was this sunshiny, annoying little poster boy. All blonde hair and Prince Charming smile. Like he’d stepped out of some PR manager’s wet dream. I thought he was fake and naïve and I didn’t like him very much when we first met,”
She smiled encouragingly. “And clearly that changed,” a softer nudge, one that made him snort.
“It did. After a while,” trying to parse out how much was too much to tell and how to. “I wanting to start working on trusting people,” a good mile marker, one that could offer Dr. Finch a more solid timeline to work with. Figure out the speed of the conversation with some quick mental math and. And reaching down for the clipboard again, to start writing her questions in case she misplaced any of them along the journey.  “And he wanted to hang out,” he shrugged, deliberately avoiding anything that might key her more into the fact that he wasn’t just some old friend of Ortega’s. She already had her suspicions about who he might have been in a past life—no need to give her more to work with there. “Which…was hard. Because he really was. Is that bright and shiny. I mean, he’s not perfect, but,” he bit the bullet, stinging his teeth. Spit it out onto the carpet to sit between them, smoking and volatile. “Alright,”
“Alright?” Dr. Finch echoed, curiosity and caution lacing the word.  
“I hated him when I first met him,” dredging up the past with an ancient net from depths he’d rather lie about and say didn’t exist. “It wasn’t just dislike. I hated him for how he made me feel about myself,”
To her credit, Dr. Finch didn’t immediately jump on that admission, instead her mind trying to sort into place the plethora of sources the hatred could come from. Coupled with what they’d been discussing of his ‘family life’ and ‘childhood’ she. Well, it was understandable that she’d think that.
“it wasn’t because he’s a guy,” Richard shuffled that answer out the door. “It was…. he felt shiny and clean. Fresh out of the box and worth every penny. And I’m,” he made a gesture with his hands, as though he could shuffle himself out of the door alongside Dr. Finch’s assumed homophobia. “Not. I never have been. So, I hated him for a while, so much so that,” how to say it without. The words stuck in Richard’s throat. “I got into a fight and ended up trying to hurt him,”
“A fight?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” quick and sharp. Forcing out another sigh. Ah. “But it was ugly and petty of me—not a shock I know, I’m such a friendly and open guy otherwise,” trying to mend any cut he may have made with light sarcasm. Dr. Finch’s attention stayed hard.
“And he still wanted to spend time with you afterwards?”
“Surprised me too,” and at least that could be honest. “He was mad about it; it’s not like he just let me—I apologized about it, but I don’t deserve him forgiving me for it,” too quiet. Too much towards. He cleared his throat and continued before Dr. Finch could open her mouth. “I still feel that way,” an admission that drug its claws in deep through the thin barrier of his throat. “Not hating him for it, obviously but. Like. I’m not putting him on a pedestal, I know it sounds like I am. But he’s just a better person than I am and I’ve. I can’t even compare to him, you know? I wouldn’t even dream of treating myself the way he treats me,”  
There was no sign of acknowledgement from Dr. Finch. Not for a while, as she carefully wrote out her thoughts and pressed her lips thin. She knew about his issues with self-worth, so that wasn’t too surprising for her to hear about. And even though he’d been careful, some pips of recognition fired along her mental pathways. Reminding her of half caught whispers about trying to hurt himself. And worse.
“When did you first start feeling differently towards him?” she asked carefully.
Richard swallowed. “When we started hanging out together. Just us. And. I guess he was just,” the claws in his throat caught and began twisting. “He was happy to see me. And I couldn’t figure out any good reason he could have to actually want to be around me, when I kept being so rude and petty to him, but he kept. Showing up, kept expecting me to keep showing up. And we went to get coffee, nothing. Nothing big,” there was a pressure on his legs that his brain dimly recognized as his fingers gripping his thighs just above the knee. “It was just little things and it. I felt. It was nice to be around him. I felt better around him. Like I could be happy,” and that was too much. “Which I know is fucked up,” the profanity catching her attention. “Sitting here talking about how I hated him and how disgusting I am for wanting to stay with him even when I know,” Getting it out in the open how selfish it was of him not to call the whole thing off. Not to break it up and let Daniel. Let him.
“Richard.” Harsher than normal. Softening as she spoke. “There is nothing shameful or disgusting about wanting to feel happy,”
“There is if you’re ruining other people’s lives with it,”
A small pause. “What makes you think that you’re ruining his life?” quiet and measured. “Has he ever said anything to that effect?”
“No,” miserable and strained coming out of his chest. But it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t like she knew. Could only work with what he told her and he certainly wasn’t about to. To. “But if he were with someone healthy—someone who wasn’t so broken, then,”
“You are not broken, Richard,”
“Says the woman getting paid to fix me,” too bitter but he couldn’t stop it. Dr. Finch took in a slow breath, not responding for a moment. They’d been over that before; it remained a sticking point even though he could see in her thoughts that she cared. Something in him continued to rail against it and scream that it was just her job. As soon as he walked out the door and his time was up, her willingness to deal with him would be over. Which was a good thing, ha. Proved she was a professional.
Which was when she hit him with a surprise hair pin turn. Not uncharted territory by far, but certainly not a destination that had been on her map. “From what you’ve described, and what you’re saying you feel with Herald, the way your family treated you has made it very difficult for you to know that you’re worthy of love,”
Well. That wasn’t fair. Because obviously. But admitting that she was right came with the admission that of the second half of her statement. That.
He’d left his face unmonitored. And she wasn’t stopping. “When it comes to these people in your life, Ortega and,” a slight pause “Herald. You become very agitated with yourself when you describe their roles in your life, as though the affection you feel for them is a source of negativity and shame,”
The way his stomach wanted to drop into his feet was sickeningly slow. A long and hideous slip. Not a surprising one—because in what way didn’t the Farm fuck him up. It felt like acid on his tongue.
“And?” he felt Finch’s mind start to gather itself. A little bit of tension winding itself tighter and tighter.
“And I believe that it’s fairly clear those feelings stem from fear,” she said gently, setting the clipboard down on the table. Speaking slowly and clearly. A presenter giving her final speech. “The first people in your life who were meant to show you love failed you. You describe your family as hating and resenting you, and that it continued well out of childhood. It set a precedent for and confirmed your developing emotions that you were unworthy of being cared about. That you didn’t have worth. And now that you’re an adult, you have no way of reconciling it when people do care about you. There’s medical evidence that shows if the neural pathways responsible for feeling safety and happiness aren’t reinforced at an early age, that they can literally degrade. Which means experiencing those feelings later on are not only much more difficult but are uncomfortable and even distressing. It can lead to a fear response,” a slight adjustment in her mind because, oh god, ah beans, his hands were clenched too tightly and he couldn’t sit still and. “None of those things are your fault. And it isn’t your fault now that you struggle with these feelings,”
A longer silence. No remark as he tried to relax his hands, only to find crescents of skin pulled up from his palms and the beginning beads of blood. He clasped them tightly together and ignored the sting.
“Was all that meant to convince me that I’m not broken?”
“It was meant to tell you that there are reasons you feel so scared and threatened by people caring about you, and that none of them are because you are unworthy of being loved,” she said, quiet and careful. Richard snorted. Full of rancid and bitter.
“Fine. So what?” there were hundreds of other questions beating at his teeth and he clenched down hard against them. What would she have to say when it wasn’t just a fight—that he’d hurt Daniel badly enough to send him to the hospital. To give him nightmares that went on to this day. That he’d lied to Ortega for years and still couldn’t find it in him to not want to. To not stop wanting to.
“So,” Dr. Finch began, drawing on her reserves of patience with a quiet sigh. “It means that for a long while, you’re going to continue feeling like you don’t deserve the things that make you happy. That you don’t deserve having anyone care about you. The good news is those pathways can be rebuilt. Those feelings can be learned again,”
Sure they could. By someone who was actually human. By someone with a functioning brain and not a malfunctioning. Someone who had had a childhood and not a programming chip, because real childhoods meant external forces. Teachers. Bus drivers. People from outside who would have treated him like a normal. Little bits and pieces. ‘The pathways can degrade’. As if they’d ever existed in the first place.  
Apparently his silence went on for too long. “This has been an intense session, Richard. How are you feeling about it?”
He pressed his lips tight. “… angry,” and an even harder and cruel sounding bark of a laugh. “Which just confirms your theory, doesn’t it? The only way I know how to react to things is by breaking down and sobbing or by getting ‘agitated’,”
Not a full break. “It does help confirm it, Richard, yes,” measured and even. Clearly not wanting to upset him any further, but not willing to. To. “I won’t lie to you. Working on this will be difficult. It might be painful and frightening,”
“And what makes it worth it? What if,” couldn’t keep looking at her, had to turn his head down to the carpet. “What if you’re wrong? What if you find out something about me and it turns out that my family was right? And that I don’t deserve to be happy,” part of him registered her movement. “What if it turns out there’s no fixing me because I really am that awful?”
“That isn’t going to happen,” confident and clear and making him, for a brief second, want to lash out at her. “I can’t make you feel like it is going to be worth the struggle. And it isn’t going to be a magical switch that flips, and one day you’ll wake up and be able to accept that people do care about you. But you’ve made it this far—I don’t think you’re going to give up now,”
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ortegatrash · 2 years ago
FH:R Fic - Bright as a Warning
Name: Léon Bellandini | Puppet: Simba | Villain name: Pride
Daring/arrogant/fighter/lots of contacts/gang leader.
— You talk a lot these days. Talk; because sometimes you remember phantom muzzles on your jaw (because you were just as much of beast as the hounds.)
They taught you to be plain. Forgettable. Blend in with silence and dullness and being as memorable as a rock. Maybe it's your own way of rebelling against that, taking up bright colours like a peacock and trying your best to stand out. Deliberately pulling together the most eye-catching, blindingly horrific outfits in your civilian disguise as a final fuck you....
Who are you even fucking kidding? You were always best at lying to yourself.
The truth is bitter as any cyanide pill on your tongue. Makes you resentful, a little too harsh, a little too eager to lash out when people manage to get anywhere near your still bleeding wound of a heart.
At least when they're looking at you, you matter. You *exist*. If they won't acknowledge you, you'll make them.
Now it's time for you to have the power.
Now, they'll never be able to look away again.
But humans are such domesticated, soft fools. They see your bright bursts of colour and think such things are good and safe for them to reach out and handle, like the world's their very own idiot-proofed padded room of an enclosure. They've forgotten the teachings of nature; the coral snake's strikingly bold colours all but screaming out a warning to the other creatures of the wild - Keep away, I'm venomous.
Keep away, if you know what's good for you.
(Ortega is such a domesticated fool.)
You've managed to keep from being collared like them, see the way each of the Rangers struggle with the short leash, see Angie snarl and chew at the line. See how resigned Steel has become to his situation, an attack hound that grudgingly rolls over on command and never dares leave his too-small enclosure. Little puppy Danny who would looks at you like you put the stars themselves in the sky and do anything for a little praise and a pat on the head.
And then there's Ortega. Ortega, the stupid, foolish stray that you fed one day before he decided you were his new favourite person and followed you home. And no matter how many times you tried to shoo him away, he just kept coming back. Too domesticated to truly understand how dangerous you could be to him when you bear your teeth- too sharp, too much of a snarl to be truly friendly- and he decides it's a smile.
(What does that mean for you, That you keep skirting the edges of civilised just hang out with him?).
Ortega looks at you like you're a dying star. It does feel that way, sometimes. You've always known that you were living on borrowed time, it's just a matter of going out in the most spectacular way you can.
He frowns at you over his drink and tells you, ever so softly: "You're going to burn yourself out." Says it like he actually cares. You almost believe it.
"I'm fine," you say. Except it's not the usual empty platitude that comes out of your mouth. It leaves your lip with more of a growl, more real anger and tiredness and frustration than both of you expected that is makes the table falls into a silence.
He looks so pained. Like he wants so badly to help you but he has no idea where to even start. "...I think you just proved you're very much *not* okay,"  he tells you, a half-hearted smile twitching at his face.Still trying to smile. Still trying to make light of things even as he's so damn swollen with pity at your sorry sight.
"Shut up. Shut...up!"  It's the only thing you can think to even say. You're too raw, too wild, too exposed to even pretend at acting like everything's okay when it's so clearly not okay.
Deep breath in. Nope, still angry. You start up again. "Why do you even care?!  I'm not dead, you've more than done enough to fulfill whatever dumb guilt or obligations you feel towards me so if that's why you're still sticking around-" you stick your arms out wide for emphasis, "-Fucking stop. I don't care about it anymore." Lie. "So just forget about it. Forget about all this and forget about me and we'll all be better for it!"
Ortega just gapes at you like- like some sort of dumb land goldfish, his eyes looking suspiciously shiny. "But-"
"No!" You smack your hand down on the sticky booth table, narrowly missing your half finished lemonade. "Stop chasing me around like some sort of stalker ghost-"
"-Stalker ghost!?" You weren’t aware his voice even went up that high.
“-and mind your own damn business." Because he keeps orbiting you, near enough that you know it's all but inevitable he's going to scorch himself. That he's gonna get caught in the fallout when you eventually implode and take out everyone near you.
And you're really fucking selfish sometimes. You want to protect him and also enjoy his company. Ortega did always talk shit about you wanting cake and eating it. (But isn't that the point of cake?)
There's a cough from beside your table before someone slams down on the table. You both turn at once, immediately rising into combat ready positions back to back, despite how many years it's been.
"HEY!" Owl scowls, looking pissed. "No shouting in here. I don't care about your status-" eyes narrow cynically darting between the both of you, "-but I'm not gonna deal with a commotion in here."
"Sorry-"  Ortega of course tries to deescalate the situation with his charm. You're having nothing of it.
"Fine. I'll go,"  you tell them, pushing past Ortega. "I've had enough of this place."
"Oh! Also, Owl," you spin on your heels to give a one fingered salute in farewell, taking sadistic joy in the way they splutter at you. "This place sucks and you suck too."  Always was petty in holding a grudge.
...Yeah, maybe you do deserve that plastic cup Owl hurls at you. So what? You got the last word.
You don't have friends. You don't need such things. They're just foolish notions for actual people from when you were stupidly naïve enough to believe you could be one of them.
Ortega is not your friend.
He's going to end up bitten by you one day and it will be his own damn fault.
You still twitch reflexively when your burner phone rings, though.
You should let it ring out. Dump it in a lake the first chance you get.
A deep breath in.
God, you’re dumb.
“...Hello? Is that you, Léon?”
“...Shut up, Dickardo.”
You slam the phone down on your bed, face burning,
and the sound of tinny, muffled laughter reverberating through your sheets.
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andr0leda · 2 years ago
What will you choose? Will you live to regret it?
Pre-Sidestep Era, Rangers have a cameo at the end | ~2,400 words CW: violence, guns, blood, strangulation, light stabbing, but no one dies! [READ ON AO3]
You wouldn't be able to say how long you've been standing here. Staring at the desserts through the smudged glass door of the freezer. Could be two minutes, could be twenty. It was around two am on this uncomfortably hot night when you walked in here but you're not sure what time it is now.
The only thing that you are sure of is that the finalists are rainbow and cookies & cream.
The cookies & cream have little cookie pieces that you discovered that you really like a couple weeks ago, but the fun mascot of the rainbow seems to beckon you, the spectrum of colors blending together when your eyes slide out of focus.
The tinny radio in the convenient store is tuned to a station that's playing looping easy listening music. The budget fluorescent lighting buzzes faintly overhead, one flickers occasionally, and you wonder, in a distant sort of way, if you have entered a liminal space. It's possible you need to sort out your sleep schedule.
You open the freezer door and the brisk air whispers over your face, the tubs are cold in your hands, but it doesn't seem to be helping you decide any quicker.
You are staring unblinkingly into the black lifeless eyes of the cartoon mascot on the rainbow ice cream when you hear it.
The intent before the voice. You step back until you're against the aisle behind you, hidden from the front of the store.
“Money. Now,” gun, raised.
Gun held up to the level of your head-
No, not your head. The head on the shoulders of the young teen behind the counter, they’re only a year younger than you are supposed to be. They are terrified.
You are terrified. There’s five-
No, there’s only two thieves and only one gun.
You’ve gone up against worse odds.
You put the ice cream tubs on a shelf and move to the end of the aisle, silent. Your hoodie has been up since you entered the store and you pull the collar of your turtleneck up over the bridge of your nose to cover the lower half of your face.
At the end of the aisle you pause, the door is only a couple feet to your left, you know you’re silent, you could make it. If you chose to make a run for it.
The cashier is trembling trying to put the cash and cigarettes into the backpack, they are clumsy in their terror and the thieves are getting impatient.
You chose no to run.
Red and black at the level of your eyes catch your attention, you take a bottle of cola off the shelf, a glass one. It flips easily over itself in your hands, as you weigh it up, weigh your options. The one with the gun seems fresh to this, plan already forming in your mind.
Your heart-rate picks up, the adrenaline before a fight is reassuring in its familiarity.
Fuck it, you step out from behind the isle and shout “Hey!”
The armed thief turns his whole torso, including the hand with the gun, towards you and away from the cashier, like you knew he would.
You have already thrown the bottle and it explodes on impact, opens up and scatters sugar coated glass, knocks the gun out of his grasp. It hits the floor and spins away and you're already running.
Your knee lands in the second guy's chest, throwing him hard into the aisle behind him, packets and tins tumble off the shelf.
The first, nursing the hand that formerly held the gun, swings at you with his less dominant hand. You kick him in the solar plexus and he crashes into a display to the side of the counter, a tower of sunglasses landing on top of him and he’s down but not out.
The second, still currently has the use of both his hands, and they are closed fist and coming for you. You dodge, spin on reflex, strike him under the ribs, kick him into the shelf opposite the one he was in before.
You know he’s going to take out the knife and lunge at you so you duck, easily, as he slices open packets where your neck was. Contents spilling down onto the linoleum. You tackle him to the floor of the aisle and it only takes one hit to get him to stay down. You stand above him full of some wild, unnamed thing, heartbeat racing.
The first is finally managing to extract himself from the heap, so you move back to the front of the store. He‘s slow, fishes out his own larger knife and you’re grinning behind the black fabric.
You grab his wrist with one hand, put your other into his nose hard enough that it cracks, and he falls boneless back into the mess and everything becomes silent. A wet heat slowly drips down your knuckles. You have won.
The cashier is knees to chest behind the counter, shaking. You don't get too close.
“Are you ok?” because that's what you’re meant to ask.
No, is what you hear.
You try to send them feelings of safety, of relief, but they just break apart against the wall of blinding fear. You’re not sure what those things feel like anyway. So you pull down the mask instead, show them your face, try to wear something reassuring instead.
“You’ll be ok,” because that's what you’re meant to say. They just look up at you with big brown eyes, so scared.
They aren’t ok so instead you tell them, “You’re going to make it out the other side of this.” You flip the knife you took from first so you’re holding the blade, hold it out to them to take, offer them the weapon of those that wanted to hurt them.
You don't know how to say out loud what you want this to mean.
What you want this to mean to them? Or to yourself?
They look at the knife for a long moment before they take it.
Before a noise behind you startles them, and you look over your shoulder to watch a third larger man walk out of the bathroom.
You yank up your mask, how could you be so fucking stupid.
You stand in front of the cashier who gets under the counter to hide.
He is built, muscles just as strong as the walls around his mind.
You shake out your hands, ignore the ache of oncoming swelling, take up a stance, you haven’t had a proper fight since-
You don’t know where the gun is.
He takes in your pulled up turtleneck, his guys out cold on the floor and drawls, “You want to play hero?”
“I just wanted my fucking rainbow ice cream you son of a bitch.”
You see the gun on the ground when he does, and you lunge for it, kick it hard and it slides away and under the shelves.
He strikes faster than you expected but you still turn and duck and kick him in the back of the knees. He buckles, but turns just as quick and you’re too close to avoid his fist and you catch it in the ribs. Punching the air from your lungs and you stagger back. He is up again, too quick.
Or are you just too slow?
You’re gasping under cold fluorescent lights, past a fractured rib, slow is not acceptable, if the unit does not meet directive standards it will be recycled-
You straighten up, through the pain in your ribs and snarl, underneath the fabric so that it reaches your eyes, so that he can see.
He sneers at you, and you run at him, using a freezer box to kick off, you deliver a punch down across his face that sends him reeling and you are alive.
So you punch him again, and again. And you dodge and sidestep and punch him harder.
Feel your knuckles open up, feel adrenaline rush to your head in exhilaration.  
And this is where you slip up. Literally, on the spilled guts of the coke bottle.
He has already grabbed you by your jacket front to slam you down onto the freezer boxes hard enough that you hear it crack. He wraps his gold ringed fingers around your neck, and you feel the cold caress of the freezer seeping into you as you struggle. You bring your forearm down to buckle his elbow and slam your forehead into his nose, he doesn't let go. Just straightens his arms and looks down at you, a warped smile on his cruel features, and he squeezes and-
And How Dare HE.
He recoils and you know at once that you couldn’t have spoken that, you couldn't get air past your throat for a noise let alone words.
His smile is gone. He’s afraid now, afraid of what will happen if you get back up.
You always get back up.
You release your death grip on his wrist to pull your knife from your hoodie, flick it open and bury it into his guts.
His hands vanish from your throat and you gasp down a wretched sound.
Gripping the edge of the box you bring your legs up between you and launch him off.
He’s flung backwards, clips the end of an aisle and goes down, spits out a curse, clutches a scarlet hand to his side.
You get up, unhurriedly in a way you know unnerves him. You don't wipe the blood dripping down your forehead and that unnerves him too. His shields decay with the panic. You see yourself in his mind's eye, a dark silhouette looming above him back lit by the flickering fluorescent light above you.
Your breath pants out in half gasps, half growls, past the bruising in your throat. You’re not sure whose blood drips from your knuckles and off the blades drop point.
He manages to stand only to receive your right hook to his jaw and he’s down once more. He doesn’t try standing again. Instead scrambles back towards the bathroom, leaving a fragmented red streak behind.
He’s not fast enough.
The cheap wooden door splinters as you kick him through it. You sink the knife into the door frame and stand over him, sprawled onto the dirty tile floor. You put a heel hard onto the side where you put your knife and he screams.
You feed him back his own fear, the terror of the cashier, feed him your own horror from somewhere dark and deep, until you see it consume him, until it’s up to his eyes. Then with a bloody hand you smash the back of his head into the tile.
And it's over. It’s a mess, it’s-
Five bloodied soldiers dead on the cold tiled floor of a gas station in desert Nevada, painting the walls red-
No. It’s just three unconscious thieves in a convenient store.
You take a deep breath through your aching throat, and pull the knife from the frame. The soft looping music of the radio drifts back into your awareness. Then exhaustion creeps back, you feel more tired than you were holding the ice cream. You can feel a headache forming at the base of your skull and you’d rather spend what little money you have on a smoke, or several.
Stepping over first on your way to the counter you pick one of the almost stolen cigarette packs and drop it by the register.
You’re opening your wallet to get your only twenty dollar note with red and aching hands when the cashier says.
“Just take it,” they’re looking directly at you like you grew a second head, they're standing up now, white knuckling the knife you gave them, like an anchor, a lifeline. It’s the first thing you’ve heard them speak.
You check upstairs to make sure they're going to be ok. You’re startled to see they’re wondering the same of you. They're having a hard time processing the deadbeat mess that stood for half an hour in front of the frozen desserts with the brawler that just took down three guys and possibly saved their life.
Was it really half an hour?
“And don’t choose rainbow, my boss changed the dates. Take the cookies and cream instead” they say, voice no longer shaking. Cookies & cream is their favourite.
“Thanks,” your voice is almost unrecognisable, you’ll have a necklace of bruises for sure.
"No, thank you. I don't know what would've happened but you probably saved my life." A hero , they think, their hero.
And you don't know what to say to that so you just thank them again and tell them they should probably call an ambulance for the guy bleeding over the bathroom floor. Then you take the cigarettes and the ice cream and you leave.
You go home, rest your split and swollen knuckles, hold the frozen tub against your violet throat and eat your dessert.
It was a good choice.
Marshal Charge stands in the Rangers Headquarters kitchen, arms crossed and staring at the tv mounted on the wall.
“Chen, have you seen this?” she throws over her shoulder, eyes not leaving the screen.
Steel looks up from cutting fruit to see grainy footage showing a figure in black kicking a larger man into a convenient store shelf. Text rolls across the bottom of the screen that reads, “Citizen hero takes down 3 armed men in attempted robbery.”
He continues with making breakfast, “we already deal with too many vigilantes.”
Anathema walks past him, “but this one’s weird,” she steals a strawberry to which Steel makes a face.
The Marshal turns and looks back for the first time in a while, eyebrow raised.
Anathema just looks pleased that she’s hooked an audience, “I looked into it, the full security footage shows them staring at the frozen desserts for like 35 minutes before they take down 3 guys with what I believe to be a variety of martial arts. Their reflexes seem unnatural too,” she steals another strawberry and Steel frowns harder.
“There's a point where the guy pulls down their mask to calm the cashier, but when the police questioned them all they would say was that they ‘couldn’t remember’ what the masked person looked like,” which is said sarcastically, her disbelief evident. “They just seem… interesting,” she finishes.
Steel throws the strawberries into the blender before she can steal a third, “Los Diablos is interesting enough.”
“Hmm,” comes the reply from the Marshal, a small smile hidden in the corner of her mouth as she watches the footage again. The figure appears to move faster than they should. Her smile grows wider.
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sky-scribbles · 2 years ago
Some not entirely work-safe and bittersweet Steelstep, because I’m having feelings. ~600 words, Retribution spoilers.
There’s a moment, in between the kisses you’re burying into his tattoos, into his scar-wreathed skin, when he pulls back and looks at you.
Looks at you, with something in his face that you can’t read or name. His eyes are half-lidded and his gaze is unfocused – whether because his glasses are off or because he’s mostly undressed on your couch and you’re kissing him, you’re not sure.
‘Chen,’ he says. Quiet. His body is so still that it would be easy to forget that moments ago he was squirming beneath you, hips against yours. Scarred skin against scarred skin. His fingers gripping your back as if he might start falling if he let go.
So you touch him as gently as your hands can, stroking his hair away from his face with careful metal digits. ‘Are you okay?’
‘Yes. Just –’Jalal swallows, licks his lips, and blinks away what might be tears. ‘Go easy on me.’
And you know from the way his voice cracks that he doesn’t just mean what’s about to happen between the two of you. (Though you’ll be gentle. Of course you will.) He means the fact that he’s Eidolon, and you know it; that he’s broken, and you know that too. You could so easily be the last touch that makes him shatter along his fault lines.
He’s warm and alive in your arms, and he thinks you might destroy him.
Breath always sounds louder in moments like this. You want to kiss his forehead and promise that you won’t hurt him, but that could all too easily become a lie. His scars go so much deeper than his skin and they bind him to Eidolon with strings you don’t know how to cut. But you need to try. You need to stop him. For your team’s sake, for the city’s, for yours, for his. 
And he knows. He’s not asking to be saved. He’s not asking you to never hurt him, because he’s resigned himself to that being inevitable – just for you to hurt him gently. He’s begging for kindness, not forgiveness.
There’s a part of you that wants to scream, but you’ve never been one for screaming. So you cup his face with one hand instead, and don’t bother to fight the hoarseness in your voice. ‘Please let me.’
Please don't force me to fight you.
Jalal’s eyes flicker aside, and his head twists away from your hand – so you catch his cheek and turn him back. For a second, he watches you, silent. Then he closes his eyes, breathes in until his chest rises against you. Exhales. Gives you a small and wondering smile.
‘I’ll try,’ he says.
It’s the first time you’ve heard him talk like he has a future.
He slides his hands up to your head and leans up to kiss you again. And you lean in to meet him, then drag your lips down over his chin, his neck, the base of his throat. Learning his body with your hands, metal fingers tracing acid-orange markings. Gently as you can, of course.
Maybe you can tell him – with the way you kiss the path of his freckles over his collarbone, the way you knot your fingers into his hair until he gasps – that for once, something in the world is not waiting to hurt him. He is wanted. He is real. He is safe while you hold him. While you urge him with every touch into letting go and letting himself feel until his heartbeat is furious against your chest and he’s coming apart under your hands.
Go easy on me. He asked it of you like he was begging for a miracle. So you’ll just have to give him something to believe in.
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queenofthieves · 2 years ago
18) “I’ll be here as long as it takes.”
Thank you for the prompt!! I’m sorry that this took me a while to do. 
tw for panic attack, self harm, trauma, and suicidal ideation
Everything stops. The flood of memories a knife in your sternum, stuttering you to a deafening stop. Throat closing, ears muffled, the burn of tears. Your legs can barely hold you up, and you just barely manage to wave an arm behind you reaching for the bed before you fall back onto it. 
With a gasp the tears come, and you can’t stop your body from trembling. Can’t grasp a strand of thought that can pull you out of it. Nothing. 
You’re nothing. 
The words repeat. The voice changes.
Sobs come harder, and you want to force your hand down your throat, tear at your vocal folds until there’s nothing left. Tear yourself apart until there’s nothing left.
Grasp a strand and it pulls you lower, surrounded, enveloped. There’s never going to be a life where you’re free from this. There’s no peace you could deserve. Remove the Farm, kill them all, and you’ll be left. Far too damaged. Their sick hands tainted your roots. There’s nothing good left. 
Your nails push into your skin, bruising and you hope for blood. 
The memory holds you down. This is it. The Farm…. Home?
Home. Home. Home homehomehomehome 
What is home? A room but you’re not alone, a living nightmare trapped with-
It’s out of place, enough to disrupt and make you aware enough. Other thoughts - concern - and your hit with a different flood of emotion.
Embarrassment. You weren’t alone. You’re suddenly way too aware of your nails in your skin and the tears on your face. Huddled in a ball on the bed. 
The mattress shifts with a new weight. “Can I touch you?”
You try to speak but nothing comes out, throat too rough and everything hurts in too many ways. All you can muster is a weak nod accompanied by a humiliating whimper.
Angie manages to pry your hand from your arm and locks her hand into it. She gives your hand a squeeze before moving your head onto her lap and combing fingers through your hair. The scratch of her nails on your head sends a tingling sensation to the base of your neck.
You’re not sure how long this goes on for, it feels like hours but realistically it has to be minutes. Your sobs turn to a sniffling cry before your breathing starts to get somewhere normal and you close your eyes. 
This isn’t necessary. You extend your mind enough to get a sense of how she’s feeling, this can’t be comfortable for her. You’re met again with concern, soothing softness, it feels warm. 
“You don’t have to stay.” The words fall clumsily from your mouth.
“I’m here. As long as it takes, I’m here.”
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dickeybbqpit · 2 years ago
sentimental reasons
{synopsis: a little tender moment in Argent’s apartment, pairing: Argent/f!Sidepstep (Wanda Beckett), wordcount: 1,046}
Decade’s old high piano keys are soft against grainy textured jazz guitar strokes and the sweet tone of a voice trained to encourage dreamy, unobtainable nostalgia that sugars so much media from before the Big One. The same wistful sentimentality that tastes like shelved hopes, hidden dreams, and freedom.
Warmly wrapped in the sturdy arms around your shoulders.
Argent’s forehead is smooth against the beginnings of furrow lines you’ve carelessly etched atop your own by route of years worth of surly ire—fiery wrath—soothed and coerced to flow with the idling current deep beneath the surface. The graceful slope of her nose collides with your own in a breathy rhythm as she sways with you around her kitchen tiles. Gently, like the laps of an empty glassy sea rocking the hull of a lone sailboat beneath blue, cottony skies.
You can feel her mind churning like the hem of her shirt between your fingertips, deliberately slower than the hurricane you’ve seen reside within. Calmer. Settled, without the edgy chop she’d unintentionally broadcasted your way the first few times you’d set foot within her home—her fortified castle.
There are still tendrils of masked uncertainty, and yet . . . .
Welcoming. Desire.
It strikes you so suddenly that her quiet yearning for your company outweighs the beckoning refuge of utter solitude whispering behind her thoughts—you are not alone in your surprise—you struggle to ward off the happy expression twitching at your lips.
When was the last time you smiled like that? Back then did it feel so. . . tender?
Tender. The word seems foreign and misaligned with every bitter, hardened line that defines you, but in the deepest depths of whatever twisted soul you carry you know it to be true.
Argent’s fingertips—remiss of their claws—scratch gingerly at your scalp in a way that tugs the bottom of your heart closer to the earth and she longs, absurdly shy—closer, please—to feel it beat in her embrace.
Even though your heart isn’t real. Despite the fact it possesses no human origin, merely manufactured in a lab with stolen experimental bits of DNA to keep you ticking.
Because your heart is hers.
Your jaw slacks of it own volition nearly imperceptibly.
Oh, oh, oh.
Your thoughts dare not step further in or even knock upon the exterior of her mind. Not without her consent. You’d promised.
Your body’s reflex foolishly locks in kind, missing the tempo of the music by a beat, trickles of ice melting down your spine and a sudden thud in your chest.
“Did you almost trip?” Argent snorts into her whisper. Another scratch.
You shake your head because your throat is too clogged for words, and she affectionately coins you a liar.
Argent dismantles your crumbling defenses and draws you nearer. Enough you’re sure she must hear the pulse jumping in your throat with the way the plain of her cheek tucks comfortably into whatever skin of your face she can reach.
Your forearms are bare at her back. Clad in pushed-up sleeves with horrific orange markings etched across the surface, but Argent’s hushed inner machinations only radiate a summery gladness as you hold her tighter. Even within her muted mind there is no trace of disgust or distaste for the government plaything you are.
To her, you are real and you are . . . .
A sudden flash of possessiveness.
Her lips glide across the crook of your neck to your gaping collar where another ugly orange mark glares out from beneath its hiding place. She kisses you there sentimentally, though you would be hard pressed to hear her admit so aloud. Her teeth are rounded of their sharp edges when they make brief contact with your skin. Reclaiming you.
It is a guttural sort of growl echoing out from her mind that inspires you to nearly feel a different variety of heat rise in your chest. A visceral, dangerous one.
You are no one’s slave.
Yet, Argent does not wield this coveted word as an unflinching command, as a master with a whip. No, it is possessive, but the ill effects of such an emotion are diluted and softened by motif. By a desire to keep you from slavery’s clutches because she cares for you. Because she . . . .
The word is encased. Crystallized. Glowing up at you like some warm precious stone, ripe for the picking. Below the sparkly surface and distorted by light. She knows full well who and what you are, alas there it is. Very much present in her mind.
Heat swells at the backs of your eyes and you blink before they begin to water. Instead you hold her tighter a moment longer to carry out the music, face buried into the sweet-smelling strands of fleecy silver hair.
“Ximena,” you whisper when the final chorus tones down.
You simply peel apart enough to catch her staring back at you with a measured look, unforthcoming with any suspicions on which thoughts she let filter up too loudly. She tilts her head curiously, and only cuts her pale eyes when your stare lingers a tad too long and far too silently. More amused than suspicious.
“You have a captive audience,” she drawls, leaning in to kiss you quickly with sun-warm marble lips.
“I would like to contest your flagrant use of the word ‘captive’.” You smirk and gesture with the back of your head towards her arms resting so close to your throat.
She could squish you like a bug beneath her heel.
“Dangerous for you then,” Lady Argent teases.
She won’t, but she could.
You neglect to respond in favor of pacing your own thoughts together again, but none of them feel coherently pliable enough. Others are as stubborn as you are and have rooted themselves to frozen ground when Argent’s curiosity prickles back to life.
Another tender smile dons your face. You can only manage to quietly confess, “You’re so beautiful.”
You’ve lost count of how many times you’ve said it, and the frequency of Argent’s embarrassedly satisfied retorts. Still, the sincerity is full-force and the intensity of your lowered lids draws a gladdened pink to her silvery cheeks. She lets you say it without rebuttal and drags you close again as the grainy, old soundtrack loops across her stereo.
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sexysideoftheforce · 2 years ago
No I don’t know what any of this says bc I got distracted half way through and forgot. Steelstep. idk Sidestep being awkward and kissy kissy
You’re standing in the rangers break room, hip resting against the counter, and you’re waiting. Ortega chatters in the background, Hollow Ground this and Hollow Ground that.
It was easy to use her as an excuse to come. Easy to pretend you aren’t hoping to catch a glimpse of someone else.
You sip at your coffee, tongue tingling at the heat, and wait. You came because of Julia but you stay for Chen. It’s been awkward and you think it’s your fault because you don’t know what to do. He does, of course he does, he’s had a relationship before but you never have.
Stray thoughts of not wanting to spook you have slipped through. As if sitting too close will make you run. In Chen’s defense, it might.
Even if you run he could come closer when you’re walking Spoon. He could hold your hand. You think you’d like that. If he holds you he’d be strong enough to keep you there.
That thought might make you run. (But part of you wants to be kept)
“I wasn’t sure what brand of coffee to get you.”
It should bother you more that he can sneak up on you. Instead you smile. Trying to hide your expression behind the mug you reply, “This is good.”
Chen walks over to the fridge, looking at you from the corner of his eye. “I’m glad.”
There’s a buzz to his thoughts today but you keep your distance from his thoughts. He wanted to kiss you. He did kiss you. No, you kissed him. But he started it. Now it’s weird. It shouldn’t be weird.
You look up to ask about Spoon, he’s a good conversation topic, safe and calming for both of you, but Chen is in front of you. Right in front of you.
Really close.
So close you can feel his warmth. You don’t know why but it reminds you of when you were Sidestep and collided with him in a hallway. Julia had been teasing you and you’d denied, denied, denied. Only for the source of your denial to smack into you. You’d had such a stupid crush on him.
“Are you alright, Lovely?”
“Yeah. Yes, I’m fine.” You’re not fine. He kissed you and then left the elevator and you didn’t know what to do with it then and you don’t know what to do with it now. So you just went home but now you’re here again and he’s in front of you asking how you are and you want to kiss him again but you don’t know if you can. You do know you shouldn’t.
Shouldn’t is sounding really dumb. Should seems good.
You gulp. Courage time. “We should get a drink. Like you said. Before, like you said before but I said no but now I’m saying yes. Well, I’m asking you out- not like a date! No, not a date just a drink because I’m thirsty and- “
Chen leans in and kisses you. It’s effective at shutting you up. He has to kiss you again when the moment he pulls away you start babbling again. You wrap your arms around his shoulders and try to figure out what to do with your lips. He’s good with his. Aaand that’s a thought that’s taking you places. Okay.
His nose rubs against yours and you giggle. There’s an ache in your chest that’s not an ache. Something that almost hurts but you want to chase it like Spoon chases his tail. Chen’s eyes look like how he feels at the park, it’s wild to think you’re the cause.
“I was serious about the drink though.”
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vicekings · 2 years ago
Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media
you collect scars because you want proof that you are paying for whatever sins you have committed
Jasper Colt + A Timeline of Personality
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chaniters · 11 months ago
Prompt: Scare Sidestep Shitless in 10 sentences or less.
As the title describes. TW: Mention of suicide.
“Can I stay on your couch for a few days?” It’s 3 am, and Ric was clearly not expecting anyone, you least of all, but he immediately ushers you in anyways, saying the couch is yours for as long as you need it, and you can’t be grateful enough as he passes you some blankets and pillows arranging everything for you to spend the night there. When it’s all said and done, he walks to the bedroom, before turning back, almost hesitant... “I’ve never seen you like this, Cye… please, just this once, could you tell me what’s going on?”
“It’s just that… a guy... on the building across the street… seventh floor... he j-… he j-… he jumped.” His expression shifts to worry, as he walks the few steps back towards, you giving you the strongest hug, trying to comfort you with words and company. You can’t even pretend you’re ok, you wouldn’t be here tonight if you were. It’s absurd that you asked for the couch not to take the bed from him, and both of you end up sleeping in it in the end, you being the little spoon for once, holding onto someone so you won’t be alone. You didn’t know that man, you never saw him or even remember feeling his mind, but you know that he was within your range… How can you ever be sure it wasn’t one of your nightmares that caused it? ____________________________________________ My Fanfiction: https://chaniters.tumblr.com/post/181692759294/my-fanfiction-for-fallen-hero
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fan fiction using characters and the setting of the Fallen Hero: Rebirth and upcoming Fallen Hero: Retribution games written by Malin Riden. I do not claim ownership of any characters from the Fallen Hero world. These stories are a work of my imagination, and I do not ascribe them to the official story canon. These works are intended for entertainment outside the official storyline owned by the author. I am not profiting financially from the creation of these stories, and thank the author for her wonderful game/s, without which these works would not exist.
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wesker20 · 2 years ago
Happy Valentine’s Day
Something I wrote for a valentine’s day exchange in the discord. My giftee, @feather-x-crown told me I could share it here so here it is. Enjoy my first soft fic. The sidestep here is called Aeris and her puppet Aurelia. M!Ortega/F!sidestep
You wake up for probably the tenth time now; the sun is out. Another night with barely any sleep. Either because of restlessness or bad dreams you couldn’t keep your eyes shut.
You don’t turn the lights on in the bathroom nor do you look at the mirror as you brush your teeth and enter the shower. You try your best to avoid looking at them, always raising your eyes and looking elsewhere while passing the soap through your body. You succeed for a couple of minutes. Until the surface of the tub and walls reflect back the light in them your eyes divert to them.
All over your body, wrapped around your arms and legs like snakes ready to squeeze the life out of you. They already have…
You shake your head out of your trance and wipe the water from your cheeks to end your morning routine.
Today is a day you made no plans for. Why would you when you have nothing to celebrate. Everyone else planned something for today. Even Mortum said something about having a bourbon for himself today. He invited Aurelia over it but you said no. You wonder why but have no answer for it; and you don’t want to find it.
One small breath, that’s all it takes, one breath and closing your eyes before you find yourself in a different body. A better body. You prepare to put Aurelia through the same routine you just went through. Only this time you turned the lights on and washed on without a care in the world. Perfect. No scars, no wrinkles…
…no tattoos to spoil her. Just perfect. You smirk for a moment then your fist closes and now your pride in this body vanishes as you realize it’s not truly your body. It never will be. It’s just a puppet, an empty doll for you use. Nothing more, nothing less. Why is she so much better? You bite your lip, your heart accelerates, and before you know it, your fist clashes with the mirror.
“Damn it!” you pull back and take a look at your hand. A bit bloody but nothing big. Guess now she has at least one thing wrong.
 Even without your telepathy to listen to others, the walk to the gym is annoying. Everywhere you go you see decorations. Hundreds of hearts strung up everywhere, in buildings, cars, even the car seats of babies are littered with the damn symbol. Red and pink dominate the color schemes everywhere and you notice dozens of people going into stores and coming out with enough boxes on their hands that they have to watch every step they take.
Couples are the worst though. They kiss and make out in the open as if nothing else in the world exists; they giggle and speak in hushed tones while laughing. You quicken your pace to the gym. You can’t get there soon enough.
You are relieved to find only one person in the gym and they seem to be finishing. You change and proceed to hit the bag.
Punch after punch come and go. The bag moves forward and backward as each punch lands harder than the last one. Your hurt hand hurts a little more but you keep going in spite of it. You stop for a moment. Just a moment. You look around to find that you are still alone. Still alone. No one in sight. You check the clock to find that you are well past the time you usually come here for. By this time the gym should be filled. Probably out there, enjoying the life. This day. Hugging their friends and families. Their loved ones. Worrying about what to buy, what to wear, will their loved ones like the gifts or not. Day to day stuff. Stuff for this day. Normal stuff… normal…
You shake your head and go back to punching the bag. Much easier to just keep punching.
You lay Aurelia to rest and back to your body. Your real body. Not five minutes later you get a call. Ortega? That’s surprising. Ortega has been out of the loop over the last month. ‘Too busy’ he said. You’ve been wondering what the hell he was up to all this time.
“What do you want Ortega?”
“Woah, a bit aggressive there, aren’t you?” you roll your eyes at that.
“It’s, what time, 7:00pm.”
“Still early.”
“Still late for me.”
“Alright, alright. Just wanted to talk to you.”
“Uhuh,” you say. What is it about?
“In person.” What?
“Nothing big. Just want to talk, that’s all.”
This doesn’t look good. Something must not be right. Maybe he found something in his investigation on Hollow Ground. Or maybe… maybe he found out about you? Maybe he knows you are Retribution. And if he did, he may be setting a trap. If it’s like that you have to act quick, you have to come up with a plan. Something to make sure you don’t get caught, something like-
“You still there?” his voice rips you out of your thoughts.
“Yes, Yes! I’m here. I’ll go.” What! That wasn’t what I wanted to say. Stupid Aeris.
“Great. Remember the park that was close to the old HQ? I’ll see you there.” He hangs.
 Damn it!
You put on the first clothes you find, a long sleeve shirt, a hoodie, some pants and move on.
In the walk there you keep thinking about what could possibly be happening. All the worst things come to mind over and over again. Could be a trap, could be something dangerous, could be anything bad. Why would Ortega ask you to meet at the park in the night?
And your thoughts are suddenly invaded by other thoughts. You face palm as you realize you forgot to tune yourself out, to block your mind from other thoughts. You look around and find several couples, families, groups of friends, all of them smiling and laughing. Enjoying the day, this day that according to them is of love and friendship and some other stuff. Things you can’t have.
You shake your thoughts out and tune your mind off.
Finally you arrive at the park and you prepare for the worst. You scout it out, you reach out with your mind to sense others, you circle around, and find nothing. There’s people alright, but they are all normal people celebrating and spending time together, no problems, no ambushes, no strange looks.
“Sooo you gonna turn around anytime soon?” Ortega’s voice snap you out of your thoughts and you do as he says.
The first thing you notice is his hair and mustache are combed well. You can smell a bit of perfume and he’s dressed as if he was ready for a date or something. And he’s carrying a box shaped like a heart. Oh. Oh no…
“Happy valentine’s day. Was wondering if you wanted to celebrate it with me.” He puts on his best smile, though there’s something different about this one. It’s not forced, nor meant to lift you up. It’s…
And it hits you. He’s spent the last month preparing something for you. You don’t know what it is, but knowing Ortega… a lot of things. Of course he was planning something like this. How could you be so stupid Aeris.
You open you mouth to say something but nothing comes out. You can’t accept this. You are not someone who does this sort of things. This sort of things are for others, for those who are born and raised, for those who have lived their entire lives here in the world. Not in some lab with a number as your name. You are not good enough for him. You are not even a real person you are just…
And you are the one person he decided to spend his time with. He could have just invited anyone, he could have just gone with the other rangers, you know rangers used to do something together, you were present in some of those. He could have even asked Aurelia. She is, after all, better than you in every conceivable way. She’s taller, prettier, outgoing, charismatic, the center of the room, all things you are not nor ever will be. And yet…
…here he is. With his stupid smile, his combed hair, and a box of chocolates that make him look more like a teenager than an actual adult.
It must have started raining as you feel your cheeks getting wet. You can feel yourself smiling a bit as you take a step forward. Whole, fulfilled, even if it is for a moment. For a day. The rest of the world doesn’t matter right now, just you two. Just this, this moment. No thinking about the worst, no thinking about how bad things could get in the future, no thinking on how this will affect your plans or not. None of that. Just this moment. Is this what others feel? Is this how others would feel? Or are you just thinking of an ideal? Maybe you are just imagining that this is how it feels. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Right now, it’s just you and you can’t deny you want this.
“…yes,” you say and you throw yourself into his embrace, hiding your face in his chest. “Happy valentine’s day.”
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ladyshivs · 2 years ago
A Simple Proposal
Fandom: Fallen Hero: Rebirth (all disclaimers to @fallenhero-rebirth)
WC~ 2500
Pairing: Flystep (Herald/Richard)
Tags: retribution spoilers, headcanon heavy, established relationship, canon typical angst, references to past bad planning, sort of soft, safe for you know
Daniel has a suggestion, but Richard beats him to it. 
“Absolutely not,” Up. Daniel was up from the chair, off the guard, and. “We need to talk,” A hand. Oh, fisting into his shirt and Daniel was practically dragging him towards the door where Chen was standing guard. There was a brief glimmer of hope that. Nope. Not a chance, Chen turned and unlocked the door without a word. Clearly, he could recognize a private argument brewing. Other movement. Ricardo half moving towards the door as well before being stopped by whatever look was on Chen’s face.
Not good.
Daniel’s hand slipped down and clenched into Richard’s. He could feel a heartbeat in his fingertips—impossible to tell if it was his or Daniel’s at this point. A wave of something accusatory and.
Not good.
“Danny,” pain. Fear. Anger. Frustration. Determination. Pulling Richard down the hallway as far as he thought was away from questioning ears. Thoughts swirling fast and hard. Determination. Resolve.
“No,” firm. Solid like a gale force wind smacking him in the face. Like getting hit with a brick wall. Like smacking into the.
“Daniel,” Richard tried and failed to keep the threading anxiety from his voice.
“I will not sit by and let you kill yourself,” Daniel hissed, finally turning to look at him. The wince wasn’t gone by then and Daniel grimaced. “Richie I,” and trailed for a while, turning his gaze down to the floor and staring at it like it was a face he only half recognized. Anger at himself as well, which stung even more. “I won’t let that happen,” bright and searing hot. Fresh metal pulling from the forge. “I have spent too long watching this kill you slowly and watching you plan your own death around it,”
It took more effort than Richard wanted to admit to force the words out. “I’m not going there to die,” It didn’t taste like a lie. But it stuck between his teeth and bled something acrid over his tongue. He wasn’t. That’s not what this was about. Anymore. It. It was about getting Regina away from the people he cared about. Making sure they weren’t attacked. It was about getting into the Farm and trying to sabotage something—anything—that he could while he was in there. Wreck their computers or their back up files, set it on. No, not fire, couldn’t do fire without risking the lives of. Just information dumping then. Try to do subtly so that the other minds hard at work debasing human morality wouldn’t panic and flush everything down the drain.
It wasn’t about dying.
Ghosts of the original plans he’d had flitted in and out of his mind like a cheap haunted house attraction. He could flush them out of the buildings. The poor souls in the vats couldn’t. Wouldn’t. But a slow evacuation. Maybe a gas leak? And then all it would take was an unfortunate spark. And then. Was he willing to put their blood on his hands if something went wrong? The blood of those left behind, deemed unworthy of saving in the face of a disaster. Only if his blood was there too.
If everything went the way it should with Miss Ochoa. If he was lucky. Kept getting lucky. If he played it right, they were already exposed. Not nearly enough was in place to ensure it could work.
Hope was poisonous. And infectious. And beginning to be the only thing Richard had left to work with besides the far more seductive and intoxicating despair.
“Promise me,” shot it out like a bullet. Ripping through skin and flesh and burying itself deep in Richard’s spine. “Promise me you mean to come back from there,” Daniel finally looked him in the eye and pinned him down with the stare. Richard could feel his hips tightening and aching with the tension in his legs. “That you’re not going to try some stupid blaze of glory shit,”
The temptation was horrible and sat hideous and heavy in Richard’s lungs.
He swallowed against it and felt it croak in his throat, furious at being denied.
“I promise,” there was no more adrenaline left to dump into his system, and all that was left was bone aching exhaustion. But it was honest. He wanted it to be honest even more than Daniel did, which was certainly saying something.
“Good,” Daniel nodded, hints of grim satisfaction flitting through his head. Those thoughts had razor edges, fit to slice deep and hook in. He placed his hands on Richard’s shoulders, squeezing ever so gently. “Then it won’t bother you that I’m coming with you,”
Ah. It seemed there was plenty of epinephrine left after all. Hiding just behind his heart and ready to spring into action. Eyes widening and muscles tensing for an unknown assailant. Ready for the fight. The heaviness in his limbs was swept away like a shot of caffeine to the brain and Richard managed to reach up and place his hands on Daniel’s forearms. It took about half a second for the words to crash into the back of his teeth and begin pilling up on his tongue.
“What? No, no, no,” weak and squeaking with. Nameless. “You can’t,” Pure and unadulterated. “I,” Stronger than fear, punching into his stomach and making him want to curl into a ball. Not just in theory anymore. Not just the thought of him getting caught and picked apart. Ripping open his back and prodding at the nerves to see if they could find what made him fly. Real deal really happening really going to.
“Yes, yes, yes,” only half mocking. “You are not doing this alone, Richie,” harder pressure on the shoulders. Not a threat but related to it. Some distant cousin that wasn’t invited to family reunions anymore. “I need to make sure you get out of there alive,” Richard’s mind groped out for something to say. He could see and feel what was coming. Hear it sizzling in the back of his throat like bare flesh on sun baked pavement in summer.
“What? Don’t trust me?” it didn’t even sound like a joke in his own head, and it did nothing to soften any of Daniel’s sudden edges. Toned down none of the blinding light and soothed none of the burning heat. No shade. No mercy. Summer in the desert spared no one.  He wanted to shrivel up and turn to dust.
“I want to,” quieter at least. God only knew what was going on on his face to earn the softness in Daniel’s voice. “But even if I didn’t, this isn’t about trusting you,” Richard knew. Had hoped to distract him with the misdirection and failed, spectacularly because Daniel was still. Was still going to. “It’s about you trusting me when I say that I need you alive. Edith needs you alive,” which earned an ugly snort.
“Bringing the dog in is playing dirty,” It wasn’t like someone else couldn’t adopt and take care of her. Wasn’t like Daniel couldn’t take care of her on his own. She loved Danny just as much as she loved Richard. It still struck a hard chord inside his chest to think about her waiting for him to come home and never seeing him again. Dog minds didn’t accept loss well.
“Maybe,” and at least Daniel huffed out a little at that. “But it’s true. I agree that something has to be done. And if this is the way you think is best to deal with it, then I’ll support you. But I’m not going to let anything happen to you, Richard. I’m going to be there with you,” leaning in just enough to press his forehead firmly to Richard’s. “I can fly behind the plane. Hell, I can lay down and relax on the roof to keep an eye on things, but I’m not letting you do this without me,”
And Richard could see the light at the end of the tunnel was not sunlight, but in fact the head beams of an approaching train. Set to run him over and grind him into the earth between the tracks. Had enough time to. Barely enough time to. He could dodge or completely let it run him down or. Heard Daniel take a deep inhale and felt his thoughts fluttering into a hap hazard type of order. Focusing.
“Trust me to be there for you when you need it, Richard,” like a warning bellow that the end was approaching. “Not just now, but in the future too. Trust me to be your partner,”
“Danny,” almost desperate sounding in his own ears. Daniel pressed on, regardless. Building momentum and speed. Gathering his courage. Speeding down the tracks with one destination in sight.
He set his mouth firmly, squaring his shoulders. He stayed hovering at Richard’s height. “And when we both make it out of this alive, because we both are making it out of this alive,”
“Daniel,” and Christ in heaven his hand felt like it weighed three thousand pounds as he reached up and flattened his palm over Daniel’s mouth. Without any pressure. All for show but he couldn’t. There wasn’t a single fiber of his being that could let him finish that sentence. Not when he could see exactly what Danny wanted to say. Notes of pain from Daniel’s thoughts as the flew up and then settled again. Spiraling only for a moment or two before stilling and waiting. Knowing that he knew. “I love you,” as if it was an apology.
He let his hand fall away from Danny’s mouth, freeing that dangerous tongue up to. To. “I love you too, Richie,” softer than it had any right to be. Not slipping into an accusation. But. “You know what I was going to say, don’t you?” wary. And deservedly so. A tiptoe on the surface of cracking ice. That only seemed to be splintering more and more with every ounce of new weight.
Something inside of him shattered and cut deep. “I,” couldn’t. Even admitting to. To knowing any part of it. Because then Daniel would. He could. The shaking must have started in his hands; Daniel had reached down and was holding them between his own. Warm. Solid. Steady, despite the nervous flicker going on his own mind. Little pips of dread and hurt and. “I do, and,” a long pause that stretched itself thin, arching over them both like clouds that only threatened rain and never delivered. Finally blocking out some of the heat from Daniel’s heart. Stifling some of the brightness.
Ah, beans.
“And?” It must have been an either an eternity or a minute before Daniel finally pushed at him, weakening under the strain of his own internal agony. So sure. So sure that he knew Richard would say no and shut it down. But wanting it anyway. Wanting at least some sort of answer so that if things went wrong. If Richard couldn’t be saved. If.
Whatever it was that surged up from his toes, if took control. Settled deep in the darkest corners of his brain and spread out, sticky and putrid. And Richard resented how easily it did so. It hurt. Every second of it hurt and felt like tiny explosions between his temples. He could do this. He. Daniel asked for so very fucking little of him. Wanting such small things. Had such basic desires and.  
It terrified him that he wanted it too. Almost beyond words. Almost.
“And. If we’re doing this, we should at least try to do it right, right?” bitterness that he couldn’t clear from his throat. Desperately hoping that Daniel didn’t think it was directed at him. There was a moment of recognition in Daniel’s eyes that was immediately overshadowed by. By. Richard squeezed the hands holding his own and took a deep breath, using them to steady himself. Lowering down. Daniel took in a small breath and bit down on his lower lip. Tense. Excited. Scared.
This was stupid. It was. He couldn’t do this to Daniel, but he couldn’t just not do it, either. Not when. When he was right there and already pressing on and. He couldn’t do this to himself. Because if he really did go through with it, then it would mean so much more than. No. Another spot of his brain piped up and fought with a different argument. Why would it matter? He shouldn’t do it because it was just symbolic. All that would change would be the vocabulary. Nothing between the two of them would be adjusted at all. It would mean exactly the. A third, desperate voice. Begging him to wait. To really do it right. To make it memorable and sweet and something worth cherishing and.
His hips grumbled but accepted the new position.
Kneeling on the floor with Daniel’s hands still in his own. Heart and roughly a dozen more voices screaming in his throat. Desperate. Terrified. Furious.
“You were going to ask me a question,” this was awful. Was this dying? He felt like he was dying. He’d died before and this was strikingly similar and. Daniel nodded, eyes squinting tight and swallowing hard.
“I was,” an easy admission. No spikes or beating wind. It burned itself into Richard’s brain. He felt himself nodding along, copying Daniel’s lead as though he had no thoughts of his own to offer up.
“Alright then,” and fuck, his hands were still shaking. It felt like his whole body was. Probably was. His chest certainly shuddered, audible in the inhale. Richard swallowed and heard his throat click. “Daniel Sullivan. Will you marry me?” tightening his hands against Daniel’s but he couldn’t help it. Couldn’t stop himself because Daniel’s face broke into a grin even as. As. Fuck, he was crying? That.
“Yes,” pulling him up in a clean movement that would have made his hips scream were it not for the fact that at the end of the tug was Daniel’s mouth on his. Half crying and smiling into the kiss. It didn’t linger nearly long enough to hide Richard’s own tears. To help settle the complete chaos scrambling his thoughts. “Yes, I will,” more secure sounding now. More steady and stable and he was wrapping his arms tightly around Richard’s shoulders. Clutching him close. And holding for a long few seconds as Richard tried to get a hold of himself. It felt like he was rising up through water—crushed on every side and just one more kick, one more handful of emptiness away from the surface and clean air flooding his lungs. Burning.
And then a small laugh from Daniel, bringing sudden heat as he nestled his forehead against Richard’s neck. “You could have just told me to kneel down, you know?” slightly breathy and distant sounding.
“I wanted to ask you,” the words came completely unbidden from his mouth, without planning or inspection. A simple truth. He wanted to ask so some part of him could hear Daniel say yes. To make it seem like it was Daniel’s choice whether or not. Whether or not.
Down the hallway behind them, the door swung back open and Chen stepped heavily out. Took a brief second to take in the embrace. The tears. A not unkind expression passed over his features before settling back to his normal expression.
“Argent called in. She’s almost back here with the regene,” speaking slowly as he decided not to comment. “If we’re doing this, we need to go over the details and get moving,”
32 notes · View notes
justcharliebruh · 2 years ago
a dead star alive again
A passion project full of 25 steps I adore, hope I got everyone in character!!
Zia ( @ratkingkisses )
This is how the world starts, Kit believes — with a kiss.
Kit isn't one for cliche poetry, but with the way she kisses them, it's like the world they saw before isn't the one they're in now. They'd gotten used to the drab monotone of Los Diablos, ready to leave it behind at the next possible chance when she had come waltzing into their life. All flowing garments and curled smirks, the quiet affection in her eyes that makes the flowers in their heart bloom. 
She reaches for them, haloed by the sunlight filtering through their apartment window and they lean in to her, their salvation. Zia is beautiful— always— but when she's in this state, so serene and accepting, Kit can't help but be stunned by her magnificence. Her warm hands cup their face, bring them close enough to just barely brush her lips against theirs. It's chaste but enough to heat them up from their head to the tips of their toes; they feel like they could drown in her forever. 
Camilla ( @themidnighttiger )
Her lips are sticky with strawberries when they tilt up to meet her. Their sunlight personified as they sit together atop the grassy knoll, watching the world turn. They give her an eskimo kiss in return, noses nudging gently as it sends the affection they can’t put into words. She just kisses them again, hands coming up to grasp their face and track the summer wine across their skin. 
Everything that had haunted them before this moment falls away in the light of her love, her radiance. And their hand comes up, pressing a calloused palm against her cheek so carefully, like if they hold her any tighter, she’ll disappear. They don’t want her to disappear, try to show that in how desperately they kiss her and she hums, understanding. Their wife keeps them close enough for them to be the air she breathes with how she takes them in. Kit doesn’t blame her; they’d spend the rest of eternity giving her their final breath if they could.
Hannah ( @aromanticmage )
She kisses them with desperation overflowing from every pore, her strawberry beer heavy on her lips as the bar’s music thrums deep in their bones. She kisses them like it’s the last time they’ll ever meet. And maybe it is.
Hollow Ground isn’t kind with the missions they assign, but not exactly cruel either. Still, they owe the kingpin a favor and the damned bastard has come to collect. So they kiss her tenderly, pretend to promise that they’ll come back to her unscathed when even this next mission has their ‘patron’ worried for them. 
Maybe if they lie to themself enough, they’ll begin to see it as truth.
Bean ( @liimemight )
They’re drifting between sleep and awareness when Bean strikes. Lips brush gently against the crest of their scarred cheek as warmth settles next to them on the leather couch they’d scared a feral soccer mom away from during last week’s garage sale. It’d been a slow day, both of them taking it off to rest and recover after a few bouts against the Rangers as Javanaut and Firebrand respectively.
It’d be dangerous for the two to collaborate, considering how often they’re seen together. For a moment, in their mind’s eye, they can feel Steel’s glare between their shoulder blades and they can’t help a huff. Turning into Bean’s embrace, they bury their face into a warm throat, pressing a chaste kiss in return as laughter flows over them. It makes them smile, makes them as warm as the mocha Bean gifts them every morning.
V ( @sorceressassassin )
It’s by no means soft or gentle or loving. Well, it’s a little bit loving, but more furious than anything as V presses them against the wall and snarls into their mouth. But the snarl turns to a sigh and it’s followed by wet sliding against their cheeks and they realize in this moment that V is shaking. Her lips tremble against theirs, an earthquake against their usual, sturdy foundation until they find themself overcome with tears too.
Those tears do not fall, they don’t allow them to. They have no right to shed tears over a mistake they’d made tonight when the right belongs to her and her alone. She almost lost them tonight, grips them tight like they’ll disappear if she lets go. They won’t leave her, they want to tell her as much, but can’t. Not like this when their lips are occupied, so they just run a hand up and down her spine and try to quell her shaking.
Lovelle ( @cheion-writes )
Kit once called Lovelle sweet, sweet to touch, to taste. This moment only proves them right as they slow dance in her living room, dipping her gently in time with the music as her laughter harmonizes with the swell of instruments. When they bring her back up, they place their head over her heart, swaying in time with her as she lets her fingers run up and down the bumps of their spine.
They want to melt into her, to never be away from light personified, as they had called her before. It’s funny, they shield the thought from her, that someone as bloodsoaked and cynical as them could still find something good about the world. Kit presses a kiss to her chin, humming their thanks as she nuzzles a kiss to their hair.
Keiron ( @seph-scribbles )
He's a liar, they realize. Says he hates this type of affection, but they see the way his eye softens. See how he tilts his head just so and his lips quirk up. He's just like them, they realize. And they press a kiss to the back of his hand, hoping the unspoken promise crosses between them.
Kit is not one to make a promise, very rarely so. But Keiron is worthy. The stars will fall from the heavens before Kit will ever make a promise like this. A promise to return to him. To the sun of their sky and the moon of their night. To the last piece of warmth in their heart. He exhales shakily, an almost huff if not for the waver at the end, and just nod, looking like he doesn't want to let them go. 
They don't want to go either.
Lydia ( @ladyshivs )
Often, it's hard to catch Lydia unaware, but if the sun and moon are aligned just right, Kit can. The two of them are rough-around-the-edge jigsaw pieces of a puzzle that probably should have never fit the way they did. But somehow, just somehow, the two of them fit better than any others could. Something just...slot into place. Perhaps it was a telepathic connection or even just their two personalities somehow meshing better than either of them thought. 
So Kit surprises her with a chaste kiss to the corner of her lips and a genuine smile, a 'welcome home' without saying much. Not that they can. It's a bit of a bother, losing their voice to the common cold, but with the way Lydia grins. Well, it makes staying home and resting while she was out taking care of their groceries all the more worth it.
Roy ( @disastersteps )
It comes as a challenge, a bet. See who flusters first out of the two of them. It's Roy who makes it, unsurprisingly. It's Roy who thinks she's going to win. Kit only hums, narrows their eye and lets her catch wisps of fake plans to plot against. It takes some time of course, everything good always does, to wait until she almost forgets of it after a month of trying to break through their walls. It takes another week of scanning the edges of her mind, and another to be sure, but when they are— when they truly do feel ready, they strike.
It's chaste, nothing dangerous, nothing to show how they've gotten attached. Just a simple, genuine kiss to her wrist. Just above her pulse. An easy thing. But it takes a moment to keep their cheeks cool, takes a moment to stop their lips from twitching as red raises in her cheeks and they burn the image into every part of them to keep forever. 
They win.
Anita ( @disastersteps )
She's cute, that's the first thought to come to mind; it stops them in their tracks on their morning walk with Shark. The great Danebull huffs at stopping, but goes no further than a palm's width away from their hip even as pigeons coo just beyond reach. Oh shit, she's cute. They stare into the unforgiving blue of the Los Diablos sky, eye wide in surprise under the coal dark of their bangs. 
They exhale shakily, running a hand through their hair as Shark stares, apathetic to their whole crisis. Really, she could care less, only growling at those who stray too close as her owner fantasizes— and then gets flustered over— showing affection to the one who's made them smile the most. It'd almost be endearing if it wasn't so dangerous to be distracted as such in the middle of a busy walkway with thieves lurking just nearby. 
Jasper ( @troblinidae )
They've always known Jasper to be a bit of a big softie when it comes to them. The taller of their duo comes home, Kit's latest craving in hand as they cradle several bags of food that surely can't be good for even those like them. The smell of artery-clogging deliciousness has Kit skidding and sliding over the wooden floors of their shared apartment, stomach rumbling hard enough that they can hear Jasper's noise of amusement in the front hallway.
Careening, they can barely control their momentum enough to not knock over their date-mate as their arms reach out for the food. Jasper, lovely asshole that they are, only holds it above their head, leaning down with a gleam in pale eyes. Of course, a toll to pay. Kit sinks back to the floor, tilting their head in faux curiosity as a smile fights to take over their lips. Letting their arms wrap around the other’s waist, they let themself feel no embarrassment as they stretch onto their tiptoes to place a peck on Jasper’s lips. For a moment, they hold, and then— 
They swipe the food and flee; footfalls behind them, signaling the beginning of the chase. 
Logan ( @animaopen )
They could watch her forever, they realize. The steady movement of her chest. The way she curls tightly around them as a bar of sunlight is allowed to pass through heavy curtains. They trace the bumps of her spine with a finger, pressing their foreheads together as tranquility spills over them. During the night, her hands seem to have slipped under their shirt, beacons of warmth against their shoulder blades as they debate how exactly to wake her.
Maybe it’s best not to wake her at all, best to just see the way she comes to life in the mid-morning warmth as the rest of Los Diablos bustles below. They press a kiss to her shoulder, feel how Logan’s mind shows wisps of clarity beneath the lake still with sleep, and they can’t help a smile. They send a little leaf boat full of love, watch it float across her mind and steady off in the center before sinking. She shifts, both physically and mentally and they can’t help but smile at how the flowers at the edges of her lake bloom. Yes, they really could watch her forever.
Maryam ( @jpriest85-blog )
Kissing Maryam comes with an ease that Kit delights in. Of course, it may just be because they’re letting her take control tonight. Control is an easy thing to give up, they find, when her hand ghosts against the back of their neck and her warmth spreads. Fingers grip at their nape and the day’s stress melts. 
Sand through their closed hands, it slips and is barely something that matters as they tilt their face to her like a devotee praying to God. And she lets their lips meet, blesses them with the opportunity to love her. It’s hard not to bare themself to her, let their heart be hers for the taking as they kiss her with the desperation of a dying man. Maryam simply hums, and then hushes their whining, draws her arms around them and smothers them in a comfortable warmth.
Ariadne ( @erintoknow )
It’s like a tightrope. She’s the kerosene to their match, another flame to jumpstart the pyre. The two of them get along amazingly well— depending on who you’re asking. So it’s no surprise it culminates to this, to Kit trapping her against a chair and kissing her like their life depends on it. Maybe in this moment, it does. But they won’t tell her that.
They’re just going to kiss her eyelids, her cheeks, the bridge of her nose. The column of her throat as she leans back and the palm of her hand as she moves to try and put some space between them. But they can’t allow that, not now. Not when her life hangs in the balance too. So they distract her with as much love as they can emulate, with the heat of a forest blaze as shadows dance across the wall and they keep her focused solely on them.
One day, she’ll thank them, but until then, as Kit presses a kiss to her pulse, they can live with her hatred once she learns what they’ve done.
Jasper Colt ( @iseektheholygrail )
Kit’s never been fond of mornings, at least they weren’t before they’d met Jasper. Actually, a lot of things have changed since they’ve met him, they realize as he exhale periodically against the skin of their shoulder. He’s deep asleep from what they can feel, mind barely stirring at their little impish pokes. 
It’s good, they suppose, shifting in his arms to press a kiss to his throat, that they’ve changed so much. Allowing themself to be softer around him, nevertheless softer at all. He’s changed them for the better, that much they can see, smoothing out their hard edges and turning them to the person they are today. Someone who likes mornings and the color yellow, who enjoys long showers without the reinforced trauma and handholding as long as their hands aren’t clammy. It feels weird, being someone again. But as long as they’re with him, they know that they can turn into someone he’ll be proud of.
Mikoto ( @nln4 )
They press a quick kiss to the corner of her lips, enjoying her little squeak and widening eyes as they pull away with a smirk. Mikoto fumbles with their latest gift for her as she flushes. She’s adorable, their favorite bumblebee, even she jolts as they nuzzle another kiss to the skin on her ear. She’s fully red now, as red as the almost-ripe tomatoes sitting out on the balcony that they’ve carefully cultivated through the Los Diablos heat. 
They want to speak and break the silence, but — Watching steam pour from her ears as she buries her face into the side of their neck is too much fun. It lifts a laugh from their lips, swelling with the soft music blaring in their apartment as they wrap an arm around her flustered shoulders. She pinches at their side in retaliation, but they only press a kiss to the skin of her throat, humming as sunlight breaks through the far window, framing their world in gentle yellow as she pulls back to glare at them.
Baptiste ( @auroriane )
Doing their nails, Kit finds, is a lot of fun. Baptiste is gentle with the brush, gentle with their nails; gentle, gentle, gentle. It’s weird being treated so carefully. But it’s nice. The brush glides, pink sticking brightly to their nail plate as he smiles something warm. He looks so fond and so at peace, it’s hard to imagine the blood that stains both of their hands. 
But they imagine it anyways and continue to imagine it even when the paint has dried and their nails catch in his hair as they pull him into a kiss four dates later. They imagine the things the both of them have done and as he presses his lips to theirs like a drowning man to air, they find it all falling away. None of what they’ve done matters, as long as he’s with them.
Michael ( @tiredopossums )
It was only a kiss, they’ve had plenty of those before. But this, somehow, feels so much more different. He tilts down, almost stubborn in his affection as he presses their lips together chastely; they don’t know how it feels for him, but for them— For them, the earth shakes under their feet. 
They tremble from the knees up, falling against him as he wraps an arm around their shoulders to keep them steady. Their heart beats heavy in their ears as they bracket his face with scarred hands and hold him tight enough in case he tries to disappear. In case he tries to leave them like he had before. 
Birdy ( @angiric )
Birdy's whole body seems to jolt as Kit presses a kiss to their cheek. It's a simple thank you kiss, the other telepath having made them a beautiful flower crown after four days of silence. And the flower crown is breath-taking, the mix of colors always drawing their eye whenever they're in the room with it. 
The flowers are haphazard and firmly placed, but wonderful all the same. Even as Kit presses another kiss to Birdy's cheek and Birdy seems to falter, they can't help how warm their chest feels at the healthy flush on the other's cheeks and a glazed look in their eyes.
Vi ( @violet-siamese )
They press a kiss to the tip of her nose, an envelope full of money sliding into her palm. She doesn't need the money, of course, just like she doesn't need the kiss. But it's nice to give both, to see the way their viper startles and blushes brightly against the alleyway wall. 
She fumbles with her words for a second, consonants dropping from her lips like stone as she holds a hand to her cheek. She's cute. They say as much, giving her a wink before sauntering back into the shadows, laughter held in their throat as her squawks at the amount of money they've given bounce off the brick.
Kit Amari ( @dyingwarlock )
Flustering their fellow Kit has always been a hobby, something to kill the time. Black hair hangs in both their eyes as Amari pushes them against the wall after another bout of purposefully showing as much skin as possible, caging them in with a heavy blush on those pale cheeks. 
They're ready to say something when Amari screws their eyes shut and presses forward. Thoughts streamline behind their eye, both of their thoughts. Can't believe I'm doing this. Is this really happening? Will they hate me? 
Kit just finally kisses back, threading their hands through soft hair.
Serafina ( @abyssalhandmaiden )
They press a kiss to her forehead, awkward in their affection as they step back. She stares into space a moment and Kit wonders if they’d have enough time to run before she’d catch them. Eternity seems to tick past and as they shuffle backwards, her hand latches onto their wrist. Not exactly a tough grip to break out of and if they were truly, truly desperate to, they could. 
But this, hurting her would hurt them and it’d ruin every single shaky interaction they’d suffered through once the realization of their love hit like a comet. Gods, they love her and they realize they’ve just shown the worst way to show it. Who the fuck does a forehead kiss, why would anyone— She pulls them close, pulls at them desperately as if about to lose them and every other anxious thought falls away as her lips meet theirs.
Jie-sun ( @saturnsage )
They press a kiss to the cut of his jaw absentmindedly, nuzzling another as his eyes widen, long lashes fluttering in surprise against their forehead and the bridge of their nose. When they pull back, he simply stares like he had when they first pressed a butterfly's kiss to his cheek. (They'd been nervous, pulling that out after a few months of slow pining, but it's lead them here so they can't complain.)
It takes him a moment but he melts against them, arm heavy over their waist as his lips shyly find their forehead. It spreads a warmth through them, chasing away the day's ice. A sigh leaves them as they bury their face against him, unable to fight the smile on their lips as they curl up, feeling small and safe and secure.
Kyra ( @crowsister )
Kit has always found Kyra interesting. The woman just continuously draws their attention with how effortlessly she seems to glide and try to swipe things from their apartment. Keyword being try, of course. Kit wouldn't have made it far by being so lackadaisical with everything they've come to own.
It's after her latest attempt to flirt and swipe that they corner her against their front door. She has the gall to smirk, mask unwavering as they lean in with an almost hungry grin. They hum, pressing hungry lips to hungry lips as she leans in to them to take with the same ravenous need as she does when faced with a new target. It’s honestly cute, how she believes she’s so confident that she can take from them without being allowed to. 
Magnus ( @sanguinemori )
He doesn't expect it, which is a shame in and of itself. Everyday, at least as far as Kit can recall, he swaggered and strolled like such things are commonplace for him. It's a simple kiss on the cheek, a 'thank you' for saving their ass in last week's bout as stars rained over them and the world seemed to burn.
They're grateful, and not sure how else to show it, so a kiss it is. A kiss that Magnus should have expected. But it has him flushing and stumbling and they can't help but laugh a moment. He flusters like a bloom in the sun and for a moment, Kit feels the world is bright and everything they’ve gone through has been worth it. 
Paris ( @ratastrofiend )
If the world ends like this, then Kit is perfectly fine with it.
His hands roam them lazily, fingertips like warm rain tracing the planes of their back as they bury their face into his neck to hide from the light that seems so determined to fully wake them up. They tangle themself in him, pressing as closely as they can to blot out the rest of the world and just live in this moment as he traces the bumps of their spine, as his palm stays steady against their shoulder blade. They’re in and out of sleep when they feel it, feel him do it. Warm lips press against their temple quietly, without any fanfare and the refusal to acknowledge it. 
At least for right now. They feel him mentally press, to get them to not mention it and they simply hum. Fine. They wrap their arms tighter around him in a squeeze; if he doesn’t want to talk about what just happened, then they won’t. But they let him know that they will, some time in the future maybe, when they’re not so tired.
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remnantofahero · 3 years ago
-takes a deep breath- FOLKS I’m in deep and I am full of emotions please take some shippy Ortega!POV rambling
Ortega thinks it’s her fault, at first.
It wouldn’t be the first time she’s inadvertently said or done something to put someone off when first meeting them, nor would it be the first time someone has decided, entirely on their own, that they don’t like her attitude, or the way she walks, or talks, or… something. She’s never been one to apologize for the space she occupies in the world, but for some reason it’s still a strange sort of relief when she realizes it has nothing to do with her. Shiloh is just… like that. All the time, with everyone. Always distant, impersonal. Never unfriendly, but friendly in that artificial, “customer service” sort of way, with a demeanor meant to placate and appease, a smile designed with everyone else’s comfort in mind. Closed off, but deceptively so, letting you think you’re getting along just fine until you really stop and think, and realize you don’t know a single specific detail about them.
Perhaps it shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise, considering how many times they had worked together before she even learned their name, much less saw their face. They’ve refined keeping people at arm’s length to an art. More than anything, she has to admit, it piques her curiosity. By now she thinks of Shiloh as a part of the team, even if it is off the record, (even if Shiloh denies it), and it’s important to her to know her team, connect with them. Yet at the same time she finds herself reticent to pry too deep, or too fast. Even without any of the specifics, she can all too easily hazard a guess at the kind of upbringing that might teach someone to be so concerned with being… unobtrusive. Inoffensive. That alone makes her feel like maybe she already knows more than Shiloh would have liked.
So she wills herself to be patient, however much it feels at odds with her own nature. She tests the edges of Shiloh’s perimeter, oh so carefully, to see how close she can get. First names? A phone call? Coffee? Tiny, tiny steps, always watching for the moment the wall comes back up, the invisible mask goes back on. And in time, watching so closely for that mask has another, unexpected effect--when the facade begins to fall away, little by little when they’re together, she notices immediately. While she learns frustratingly little about Shiloh’s past in spite of her efforts, she still learns a lot. She learns what Shiloh’s smile looks like--not the measured facsimile, but something quick and eager and bright, as vibrant as it is fleeting, like the sun peeking through a momentary parting of the clouds. She learns what their laugh sounds like--not the restrained chuckle that expresses little more than polite acknowledgement, but a sudden, unglamorous bark of delight, as much surprise as it is humor, disbelief at the sheer whimsy of the world. She learns that they’re quick, clever, that their sense of humor is playful but it’s merciless. She learns that, out from under their cloak of apprehension and restraint, they partake in even the simplest indulgences with all the impish glee of a child left without a babysitter for the first time. Going out late, eating junk food in the middle of the day, playing music too loud--with Shiloh everything feels like getting away with something scandalous.
Ortega’s heart breaks for the person Shiloh must have been before they were Sidestep. But at the same time, despite herself, she is charmed by the person she watches them become.
She is afraid it’s her fault, regardless of what Shiloh keeps telling her.
If she had moved in faster, if she had paced herself better at the onset of the fight, if she had come up with a better plan sooner…
There’s so much blood--on her hands, on the pavement, seeping into Shiloh’s torn suit. The sound of their scream keeps rattling around in her head, even as they’re sitting in front of her, reassuring her, “it’s fine, I’m fine, Ortega, I’m okay.” Even behind the mask there’s laughter in their voice, and it only makes the guilt in her stomach twist a little tighter as they flinch away from her touch, surreptitiously try to guide her hands away from their wounded leg. No one absorbs the full force of an exploding vehicle and is really fine, right?
Maybe that’s why she does it. It’s impulsive, audacious even… not entirely out of character for her, but unexpected in the moment. She just wants to know what they’re really thinking, really feeling, hidden behind the mask.
So she reaches out, finds the edge of it, tugs. Just a little, a test, let them know what she’s thinking. Shiloh tenses slightly and raises a hand as if to stop her, but they hesitate, fingers doing little more than graze the back of her hand. She rolls the mask up further, exposing lips, parted just slightly, like there’s a question resting there waiting to be asked. Cheeks, flushed and glistening with what could have been sweat or just as easily been tears. Eyes… that’s it. There’s no humor in those eyes, she realizes, no laughter. What she sees is confusion, layered over the last vestiges of real, honest fear.
“I’m sorry,” Ortega breathes, and Shiloh’s brows knit together in bemusement, their eyes darting from her face, to her hands, to their immediate surroundings. They don’t have a chance to say anything before she pulls them into a careful embrace, placing a hasty kiss on their cheek without even really thinking about it. It’s a gesture of relief, affection, comfort, and she doesn’t fully realize what she’s just done until she feels Shiloh’s shoulders go stone-stiff in her arms. She leans back abruptly, at arm’s length now although she keeps her hands on their shoulders, a tether, grounding them both. It’s a long moment before Shiloh finally blinks, gaze refocusing and rising to meet hers.
“I’m sorry,” she says again, still breathless. “I wasn’t- I don’t know what-”
“It’s fine,” Shiloh cuts her off, and there’s a smile tugging at the corners of their mouth, “It… it’s more than fine.” Their fear and confusion is melting away under something more mischievous as they narrow their eyes. “How long have you been waiting to do that?”
Ortega sputters, stumbling over a response--an explanation? An excuse?--but Shiloh leans forward, soothing her to silence again with a proper kiss.
She knows it’s her fault, despite what the Rangers, the therapists, the general public tells her.
Her mission. Her call. Her mistakes. She carries that certainty with her for seven years, through grieving, readjusting, retiring, re-enlisting. The guilt never completely goes away, but she learns to live with it. With the fact that Anathema and Shiloh died on her watch.
That’s why she doesn’t know what to do about the ghost sitting there, alone in a random booth in a random diner.
At first, all she can do is stare, and try to force a deep breath into her chest as it tightens with a baffling mix of… what? Confusion, fear, excitement, feelings she isn’t even sure how to name. It becomes obvious rather quickly that this is no ghost. Seven years have been as hard on them as on her. They look tired, gaunt and worn down, and the small, mean scars scattered across their face and hands send a sharp pang of regret through Ortega’s chest.
But she draws closer hesitantly, and when she speaks their name--quiet, careful, like the single word might banish them back out of existence if she isn’t--and Shiloh looks up at her, wide eyed and guileless, it feels like the ground shifts abruptly under her feet.
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sky-scribbles · 2 years ago
I hope someone wants ~1700 words of Ortega angst, because I have it. Nonspecific Ortega and Sidestep, minor Retribution spoilers. Tw: mentions of death and funerals.
‘Herald can handle it. He's stronger than you think.’
You look at your old friend’s face: defensive, defiant, daring you to argue. And you realise that you’re angry.
It’s a small thing. It shouldn’t really be a thing at all, but you’ve heard these words too many times. And shit, here goes your brain, flinging you back in time to a life before Sidestep fell from the tower and you fell apart. Forcing you to remember –
 –  yourself, on the ground. You’ve fallen, and you can’t get up.
Like an idiot, you forgot to lock the wheels of your chair last night. So the damn thing skidded to the side as you tried to get in, and you slipped out. Crashed out, really. Now you’re anchored to the floor by your own legs, a deadweight you can’t shift, and you’re trying to drag yourself into the chair and you can’t.
‘Stop it. Just stop and let me help you.’ There’s an awful, choked note in your mother’s voice, and you look away, so you won’t have to see her cry.
You want to tell her you can manage, because this is beyond embarrassing and it makes you feel beyond helpless.  But you can’t manage. So you stop moving and let her lift you. It’s clumsy, because she’s so small, but after a moment of struggle you’re in the chair at last, and she’s kneeling in front of you. Reaching up to touch your face. Trying to turn it towards her.
You turn further away instead. Because you made her cry. You were careless and stupid, you idiot, and you made her cry.
‘I’m sorry,’ you mumble. And of course she says something about you not needing to apologise, but you do, so you don’t listen. ‘This won’t be happening much longer.’
She sucks in a sharp breath and takes hold of your hands. ‘I know we’ve been over this, but –’
‘Yeah. We have. And I’m sure.’
‘About wanting to walk again. Of course you’re sure about that.’ Her hands close firmer around yours. ‘But once you put your name on that contract, once they mod you… they could ask you to do anything. And you know what kind of people they’ll make you fight, you know what monsters like that can do, you know what happened to your grandpa – ‘
You bite the inside of your mouth. You know what’s coming, and you mustn’t cry.
‘- and after watching you go through this…’ Her voice is cracking into splinters, and you bite down harder. ‘You’ve been so, so brave, but you don’t have to spend the rest of your life fighting the government’s battles. And I – I want to see you walking, I want you to see you happy, but I don’t want to see you – ’
She can’t get the word out, but you know what she would have said. And maybe you will end up dead. But at least you’ll have had a chance to fight, first.
‘Mom. It’s okay.’ It’s not, but you wriggle your fingers around until your hands are holding hers instead, and meet her eyes at last. ‘I know the risks. I’ve made the choice. And I can handle it.’
‘You don’t have to do this,’ Sentinel says.
There’s a hand on your arm, and you suppose it’s his. He’s looking at you with the same gentle, wary look that everyone’s been giving you recently. Since it happened. Since Hood became gone.
Hood. You half expect him to straighten up in the casket, roll his eyes at you before flinging the suit jacket aside. He’d probably tear off the shirt sleeves for good measure. Are his tattoos still just as vibrant, underneath the clothes that smother him? Do tattoos fade after death? Why is this what you’re thinking about at his funeral?
Why are you thinking at all? It hurts. You should stop.
You swallow, and force your focus onto Sentinel. ‘I’m all right. Everything’s ready.'
His lips purse. ‘I wasn’t talking about the speech.’
You’d rather not talk about the speech either. It’s laughable, the idea that you could contain a man like Hood – a man who got drunk with you and who fought alongside you and who made you – in a handful of flashcards and some pretty words.
But you know what’s Sentinel’s worried about. The aftermath. He knows what you’ll do, once all the cameras are on you: declare war.
You shouldn’t step in front of so many flashing lights, and you shouldn’t challenge the person who has the strings of the city in their hands, but Hood is dead. Hood is in a suit he would have hated. Hood is gone and you are burning worse than you ever did when your electricity escaped its emitters. It’s not safe, making an enemy of Hollow Ground, but it doesn’t matter, because Hollow Ground has made an enemy of you.
The city’s kingpin has cracked you open like the earth, and magma is bubbling through the wounds. Nothing can stop that. Sentinel is wrong; there’s no choice. Not for you.
‘I have to do this,’ you say. For Hood, for yourself. Because you’re the Marshal now. ‘Don’t worry. I can handle it.’
Maybe Anathema was right. Maybe you should have brought in the whole team.
But you’re the Marshal; you’re the one who makes these decisions and deals with the consequences. Your eyes flick to Themmy, who can’t be hurt, to Steel, who’s protected, to Sidestep, who knows how to fight this kind of threat. Nothing should happen to them. And if it does, you’ll protect them.
That’s what you do. You will give everything you have for them, and it will have to be enough. You can handle it.
Still, you turn to Sidestep, wishing you could see behind the mask, spot any misgivings or mistrust on the face you’ve come to know so well. ‘Sure you don’t want to sit this one out?’
But you get a firm no in response, and you nod. Breathe in deep. Part of being a leader is believing in your friends and their skills, so you will. It’s okay. Sidestep can handle this.
(You’re wrong.)
Chen comes to find you, after the funeral, after everything, finding his way to your apartment even in the dark and the rain. He doesn’t yell. He doesn’t ask you what you were thinking when you punched that asshole, because he knows the answer is that you couldn’t think, and he doesn’t ask why you did it, because he knows the answer to that, too. He just sighs, sits down beside you, and waits for you to speak.
Which you do, without looking up. ‘I’m done. I’m out. It’s over.’
You wait for the protest, the we can’t afford to lose you too. Instead he says, ‘Are you sure?’
‘You know that I am.’
You should apologise for leaving him without a team. But there’s only room inside you for one apology, and the people you want to give it to are dead.
‘I was wrong,’ you say, because you can at least give him an explanation. ‘I thought I was doing enough. Giving enough. All those operations and press interviews and all the times I nearly died, I thought that was enough, and I thought I was enough. And it wasn’t, and I wasn’t, and I’m not, and –’
Chen says your name, you think, and perhaps he touches your arm to stop you. You don’t stop. ‘I told myself I could handle it, and I told my team I could handle it, and I was lying. I lied to Sidestep and Themmy and now they’re dead. And I’m not going back. I’m not giving another team a Marshal who breaks when it matters most and who lies to them.’
‘You didn’t lie.’ Chen’s voice is gentle, and you’re almost angry. Why is he comforting you? Why isn’t he grabbing you by the shoulders and snarling at you that you failed? Someone should. ‘You tried to make the call that kept your team safe. What else could you have done?’
‘I could have not been Marshal.’ You look him in the face, like you did with your mother all that time ago, because he needs to understand. He needs to see through your lies like she didn’t. ‘I shouldn’t have been the one making that call. I should never have been making any calls. Because I can’t handle it, Wei. I never could –’
 –  and now you need to stop. Stop reliving that. Breathe in, breathe out, and you’re back in the break room with Sidestep, who’s watching you without knowing what just happened in your head.
And you think of Herald. He pushed himself so hard after the gala, even when he couldn’t walk without pain. Kept volunteering for press conference after press conference because he had to do something. ‘I can handle it,’ he told you.
Wei says they’re grooming him to be Marshal one day.
Daniel thinks he’s willing to pay the price of being a hero. And maybe he’ll keep thinking that. Maybe he’ll survive where Hood didn’t, stay whole like you didn’t.
Or maybe he won’t.  And it’ll be your fault again, for not protecting him. You couldn’t even train him right; he had to pull Sidestep in himself. He thinks he can handle it, and Sidestep thinks he can handle it, but you no longer believe that this life can be handled. You think it handles people instead, snatches them up and breaks them limb by limb.
‘You treat him like a baby,’ Sidestep’s saying. ‘I should know, I've been trying to pick up your slack with his training.’ And everything inside you twists into a knot and you’re snapping back before you can stop yourself, because Herald’s not a baby, he’s a man who’s too much like you.
You can’t bear to see him meet your fate. You can’t bear to see him break. You can’t live with it.
You can’t handle it.
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queenofthieves · 2 years ago
"i feel like i can tell you anything" lyn/argent?
You tense at the feather-light touch of her fingers on your back. Repress the shiver and urge yourself to relax. Think of the silk sheets and close your eyes against the pillow as her fingers trace patterns. Scars. Not tattoos, you had avoided getting a glance at those for as long as you could, but you’ve used Alice enough times to patching yourself up to remember them. Seared into your mind like the rest of them. Tendrils of orange spreading out from your spinal column. 
Breath and relax, you’re safe here. Remaining exposed like this is new, something that’s only happened in the arms of Argent, a place where you can relax. No panicked hurry to cover yourself like you do when you’re alone. Funny what just a little acceptance can do, with her it’s comfortable. A trust you never could have dreamed of sharing. 
No dream could ever be this sweet. 
The self-hate not erased but you find yourself more bearable when she’s around. Sometimes you can’t help but wonder if that’s not just a bit selfish of you. You turn it around in your head enough you start to worry about whether or not you’re using her. An idea that hurts to even consider. But everyone gets something out of relationships, you’ve been in enough heads to know that, and you’re starting to think you might be allowed this. Allowed to actually feel good. 
Now that’s a concept that’s new and hard to accept. You weren’t made to be selfish, you were made as a tool. You weren’t made to feel good, fuck they made sure you knew that while you were at the Farm. Reminded you of how wrong it was when you escaped.
There’s a pause as Ximena takes the time to study a particularly nasty scar. 
The answers to questions she doesn’t ask - doesn’t even think - dance behind your teeth. You feel as if you could tell her anything in this moment. Like you could allow her to see you in every way. Being seen and connecting was another thing that you weren’t allowed. Get too close and there was always someone there to destroy it. 
But here there’s a relief, a happiness that brings the sting of tears to your eyes. A feeling you could have never imagined being this good. A bubbling in your stomach, different from the usual anxiety. Something that tickles your cheeks and brings a warmth and brightness to the world. It makes the smile you try to hide grow. 
And then Ximena’s fingers find the side of your waist and you can’t help the involuntary kick. 
“You’re ticklish,” it’s not a question, and you don’t have to turn your head to know that she’s smirking. “Good to know.”
“Don’t get any ideas,” you try to sound intimidating, but there’s no denying the grin. Her only response is a chuckle as she leans down to kiss your temple. And you reach out, urging her to lay down beside you so you can wrap yourself around her. 
She laughs again, adjusting so you can comfortably hold her close while you pepper kisses across her cheeks. 
This feeling is something you could really get used to. 
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dickeybbqpit · 2 years ago
@fallenhero-rebirth stuff In which Ricardo teases Wanda about Argent and mocks her villainous monologuing from as far back as her Sidestep days
“Angie’s been smiling a lot lately,” Julia mentions as you bare your teeth around the last twist of your wrist wrap.
Your other hand is already stiffly bound in a fist and short of nimble enough to catch the safety orange cloth before it unravels for the final damn time. Besides, your pride is not so willing to entertain Ortega’s offered ‘give it here’ gesture when in moments you plan to checker those same knuckles across every opening she gives you on the mat.
It takes a moment for your brain to play speedball with her smug static shift and register the implication heavy in her quirked brow. Like you’re the reason for Argent’s sudden shift in demeanor.
Although . . . the idea sears your cheeks pink and floats you on air a bit more than you’d care to admit so you squint, curiously narrowing olive eyes. “Oh?”
“Yeah,” she says, rolling her shoulder. The one she’s favored since the museum—you’re a little more weighted now, angry claws in your belly a proper punishment. “In that quiet sort of way that she gets when she’s marathoning her favorites or I don’t know, remembering something happy she doesn’t want to share. Not in that, ‘I want to hunt you for sport on a private island like an eccentric billionaire’ way she’s so fond of.”
The dazed smile on your own face is awfully stupid and you know the dare you force into raised fists doesn’t convince her otherwise. “That’s a shame.”
“If you’re into it. Weirdo.”
“You reading The Most Dangerous Game again?”
“What was it you said?” A twinkle in her eyes, she scampers across the mat, heels springing the padding beneath your feet. He strikes a wide pose, reaches out to wave his hand across an invisible crowd. Mocking you. “‘The quality of this literary excitement doesn’t expire?’”
“Please, don’t quote me.” You grimace, bounce once with the excitement pounding in your veins with the thrill of a new fight, and charge him. “You make me sound like a jackass.”
Same shit-eating grin leans into her slide, slicker than your brute inertia. Always heavy-handed as you are, she knows not to let you up close and personal.
Thump! Raps her flat contact against the curve your ear and suddenly you hear the ocean.
“Bit of a pendeja.”
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sexysideoftheforce · 2 years ago
Maia said this was cute so if u don’t like it ur wrong. Flynn Becker is my ho for this fic btw. Flystep uh kissy kissy blah blah blah, u know when u forget what ur writing? Happens to me 3 words in every time.
“Why do you always make pancakes?” You smile, sleep still clinging to you like a blanket. You can never seem to wake up when you’re with Daniel.
He pecks your forehead, and sets the food on the table. “Why do you always eat all of them?”
“I don’t eat all of them!”
He looks down at your plate already piled high. In your defense you don’t eat often, you’re just making it count. Daniel just smiles and you can’t muster the annoyance at how happy he feels about you eating breakfast.
You let him fill the silence, content just to listen and to look at him. The messy bun his hair is in is ridiculously endearing, and you know you have it bad because any other time you see a man bun you hate it.
Daniel goes to leave you catch his hand and pull him down for a kiss, a quick goodbye peck that you pull closer for something deeper. Something warm and a little more open mouthed than intended, and now the kiss has turned into two, into three, and now you don’t want to stop at all. Sliding your fingers into Daniel’s hair, you stand him to make it easier. If only by a little.
You lean back on your heels and blink open your eyes to that soft smile Daniel won’t stop giving you. Everyday now since the first dinner Daniel’s been sending you these soft looks and little smiles.
His thoughts are worse. A cloud of butterflies that fly around your head and blanket itself over your thoughts. It feels like a kiss. Like the one Daniel wakes you up with after accidental sleepovers, too tired from the nights activities to remember to leave. It feels like your hands intertwining as he tugs you across the room to dance. Full of promise and want and so many things you don’t want to hear because if you acknowledge it then it’s real, and if it’s real- you don’t know what to do with real.
You want to let Daniel pull you in for more, to wrap your arms around him in answer and grind your hips together because the way Daniel’s mind sparks and blanks every time you do is addictive.
“I need to go to work,” Daniel laughs against your lips.
“Call in sick.” Besides, he started it. You run your hands under his shirt, feeling your way up his back.
He has stupidly good muscles. Muscles you can’t stop thinking about, that you can’t stop looking at. Sometimes you wonder what he’ll look like when he’s older, when times gotten to him and he’s softer around the edges, and it hits you, you want to be there to see it.
This man’s wormed his way into your heart and you don’t even want to rip him out. You want him to stay.
None of it fits into your plans.
“Are you okay, Flynn?” Daniel takes your face in his hands. A worried wrinkle working its way into his brow. You should have never told him about the touching, now he’ll think it’s his fault.
It is his fault. For loving you, for being here, for never leaving no matter what you reveal. But it’s really your fault isn’t it, for being an idiot. Your fault because you’re selfish and now that you have him you won’t let him go. You’ll hurt him and hurt him and pretend loving him is enough to make up for it.
You can only kiss apologies to the scars you left so many times.
Daniel pulls you in and you bury your face in his neck as he wraps his arms around you. “Okay.” He reaches for his phone.
“I’m calling in.”
“I was just joking.” You try to pull away but he holds you so tightly. The call is over with a few words, so he definitely didn’t call Ortega, and he leads you to the living room.
“I’m going to spend the day with you in our pajamas and we’re going to watch Star Wars,” Daniel says.
You roll your eyes but you settle onto the couch anyway. He’s determined to make you watch every movie in existence. Once the movie is in you pull him into your lap and kiss his shoulder.
“You don’t have to stay with me every time I feel a little bit bad.”
“It’s okay,” he kisses your cheek, “I needed a day off anyway.”
Liar. He loves his job. It’s a little annoying how badly he wants you to be okay, but there are worse things. He settles back against you and rests his head on your shoulder.
“Yeah, I guess it’s okay.”
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lackingbeans · 2 years ago
dust and bone, pocket holes
Fandom: fh:r (disclaimers: @fallenhero-rebirth​)
Pairing: Chargestep
Tags: vague retribution spoilers, implied/referenced suicide, delusions, unhealthy coping mechanisms, survivor guilt!!, first person POV: ortega, m!sidestep but ambiguous enough 
He looks scared, as if you wouldn’t have come for him. Relief nearly cripples you by the time you reach him, or when he reaches for you. The chunk of rubble gives when you lift it and he tries not to scream as he comes free.
He comes away like this: spilling from the wreckage, his trajectory looking too much like a half-met tragedy. You catch him on reflex, kind of, grounding him or you or him, him with his hands that drag you downward. The both of you trying to gain ground. Hook, line, sinker. No, that’s not quite right.
The line; where’s the line?
“I’m fine,“ he says, a scrape of sound hoarse off screams. Hook, fingers on your suit. Flaying. When he takes off his mask, he peels it off: disgusted almost, stricken with battle-blood confusion and a silence that tells you nothing. His face twists when you try to catch his eyes, and you wonder how long he’s been suffocating under there. He smothers his face with your shoulder. (His face, a wet streak of sweat and blood and other things he would not admit to you.) He lets you wind your arms around him, bodies seeking alignment. A sinking weight.
The distance between silence and silence, yours and his, bared. A fine line that you want to be traceable, his against yours, hands along skin, parted from suit to suit to scars.  
(A finer line is the way moths take into fire, light pitched to black. He’s the thing that runs headlong into storm, perished by his own will. Free. Frantic. Hook—-sinker. Maybe you two have that in common.)
You don’t fall. He leans back a little, and you follow. You can’t tell the difference between the acrid smoke from fried armor or the loose hang of cigarettes in his teeth. Blood slides between your mouths like metal in bones like yours like rust along windpipes like old screws coming loose. If this is a dream, at all, lips becoming love and finding it, new and naked and hopeless, would you press forward as if to seal something there, in this place he has allowed you? (You aren’t scared, no; you have him now. His palms shift and shed ash as they crease across your chest.)
He is dry, lingering the way smoke is; you inhale whatever is left of him, and you can’t breathe when he smirks a little against your mouth. Like the break of a windpipe, made breathless.  
The line, you wonder. The thing between him and the next. A line, you do not cross. You leak. 
He doesn’t fall. He puts the gun in his mouth, bows, caving around metal. Teeth clattering against the bone of the barrel, sounding like a clock on countdown click, click, click even when you pry it away from him. It doesn’t stop, even though you should have stopped him.
He doesn’t fall. He slips past you. 
So, pain. It comes, occasionally so violently it shakes you from your skin, or forcibly perishes the common misconception of invulnerability by ways of lost blood, quite extraordinary amounts of it. You are cold and dying, sometimes, but you are cold mostly because cables run into you, tuning the clock. Extending it. That does not concern you. In order to survive yourself, to survive further: the line that ceased to be.
You can still die, though, an important bit to keep in mind. It’s one of the most human parts of you. Reminder: he always said no. Chen said something did not add up. You didn’t look. How could you? How dare you? (Your heart, another. A difficulty. This is flesh, muscle, the least unchanged out of all of you and physically-speaking the thing should not be such an elaborate metaphor, an irony locked into a machine or man or something else entirely. It kills you. Makes you that martyr that everyone else believes he is.)
The past and present feel displaced, forced apart in brief resentments, wave into wave into wave. Lost to the rhythmic and undying stillness that you do not want. No line to keep, a bunch of sharp nothings. (“You survived,” says the therapist, without irony.)
So, pain. You live with it, it being formless in the same way Guilt is: viscous and boneless. It takes place closest to home, to heart. It piles into your old settlement and greases over, too unclean to be called pure or ice but it bites, clatters your teeth together like spoons and scraped knees. Your soul is wooden, wounded, and you creak. Rickety, like a decrepit cabin spread on sand, and you were made to last, weren’t you. How you have, you think before his body-void casket: outlasted him and them and even yourself.
So strong. My hero, is his voice in macabre tones, careening into laughter strange and terrible. Grotesque, the way he has gotten in you, the way he is, run down edges and chafing. The way he was: underneath your skin. A thin viscous marrow, running into you.
It doesn’t take long for you to buy a pack of cigarettes. An old brand, a cheap vice, one you remember. You use it to remember (he breathes through you). Chen sees and says nothing. You never listened to him, anyway.
(“So sentimental,” he says, sneers. “You will make an old man yet.”)  
He couldn’t read your mind. Your brain wasn’t open for interpretation, but the rest of you had been.
But isn’t that why he lingered? Your brain, wired wrong in just the right way so that he could not hear you, like he did others. He stayed for it, your presence which did not give way to unwanted thoughts. He was not haunted by you.
The heart is in the mind, reflected there like an opaque rhythm. The two are not totalities a dichotomy apart. Maybe then it was, in an implicit and unkind sense. He could not sense you and therefore could not see you, understand you and your–what. What.
("Spit it out,” he demands, eyes wide and ragged–ripped open, vehemence pried out like fingers choked along skin-suits. As if suddenly unclenched, or caught. As if mauled. “What do you have to say?” He looks angry. He looks sad. You don’t remember him like this. You don’t. Remember.
It’s pointless, but you answer him anyway. A barb that your tongue cuts in two: “I was in love with you.” )
In your dreams, he does not die wrecked in speechless silence. There is no scream or an abused voice, so maybe this is how you know that this isn’t yours. (“You’ll regret this,” and he looks at you like you are the thing moths fly to and die in.)
In your dreams, you seal a promise there, in the place he has allowed you. It transforms, tumbling through you and him, colliding. Breathless, the point at which ghost meets chest. He topples, tumbles, breaks away–and he doesn’t fall. 
You are still left with nothing to save.
The point is, you lose. And lose. Blood, face, pride, limbs, sanity, friends, lovers, heart and whatever it is that keeps you up at night. All rendered to nothing. It doesn’t matter what they meant, if they were going to mean something.
There is always something. (Him; redundant; as natural in the way you breathe, sucker, stupid, sentimental. Repeat.)
You go back because you want to save someone or some-thing. The crumpled pack of cigarettes sits in your pocket. (That is what is wrong here. Nothing is as it seems.) Chen almost smiles when you come through the door.
“Here,” he says, offering a cigarette in your direction. You look at it, then at his face, lifted towards you. “I don’t smoke,” you say dumbly.
He only raises an eyebrow and doesn’t withdraw. Neither of you move; you are putting weight on your injured leg, a minor thing with pain leftover. There wasn’t much of a battle this time. You shift, and it hurts, but only just. He looks at you, expectant. You take the cigarette, two fingers pinching it, trying to hold it naturally. You don’t bring it to your lips (press the thing between your teeth where you can taste him). He makes a small noise of triumph, and you hold back a similar sound, like concession.
“Like this.” He lights his own, then presses close to light yours. They catch on fire, and he motions towards his lips, where he slots the cigarette. You do the same and immediately choke.
“No,” He is saying, snorting, collapsing into a small series of hiccuping sounds. A laugh. He is laughing at you, through the veil that covers his face, seething under a blank sky. “Wrong,” he manages to choke out in the in-between. The cigarette burns, and you let it burn. “What?” You try to say. “Why?” You try to ask. It smells like him. You are breathing in, burning it along your throat. Vague, acrid, a line or this trace of him. The smoke is up your nose, sliding over your tongue.
Sinker. Sucker, he says in a voice you can no longer hear.
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