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#have revisiting this one for three days straight i have a problem
macperalta · 11 days ago
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i cannot stop watching this dhdnxhdnd
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dameronology · a year ago
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everything i need {mando x reader}
summary: din has to rethink his life plans how that you’re by side - not that he’s complaining {i do have a taglist but it’s 1am and i simply cannot be arsed to find it, please accept my not very sincere and very tired apologies}
warnings: much language 
enjoy!! sorry for the lack of imagines lately, i’m back at work and working as a director on two of my group projects so i am neck deep in covid-related paperwork. 
- jazz
p.s this has not been proofread, because i am just that shit 
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Din Djarin had never needed a reason to find a home. Settling down permanently wasn’t an option in his line of work. Permanence had never been part of his plan. 
Then again, a lot of things hadn’t been part of his plan. The Child certainly hadn’t; if you’d told him five years ago that his firstborn son was going to look like...well, like that, he probably would have drop kicked you into the next rim. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t imagine his life without the kid now, or that he would rain hell on anyone who would dare lay a finger on the toad-like toddler. His life had gone in a direction he never could have anticipated and his son wasn’t even the biggest detour. That was you. Din wasn’t even entirely sure where you’d come from or when you’d come into his life, but he would have first surrendered his ship and everything on it before even considering the notion of living without you. Whether it was simply luck, or whether there was some higher power who finally decided to give him a fucking break, The Mandalorian had a family. He was no longer a lone gunslinger with nothing to lose; now, he had everything to lose.
The fear that came with his newfound vulnerability was a small price to pay, however. In the quieter moments - when it was just you and him and the kid - he had no question in his mind that everything was worth it. Every fright, every concern, every agonising moment that Din spent overthinking and calculating a million and one ways to keep you both safe was completely and irretrievably worthwhile. It was a little unconventional but a family was a family. A clan of three. 
You didn’t often get to take breaks. They came every few months, usually whenever Din needed had had a particularly had job. You’d found your place halfway between helping him kick-ass and babysitting the Child (who at this point, was essentially your son too). It meant that days you were running across rooftops in Nevarro with a blaster in hand, and others you were running around after your kid, holding a diaper rather than a gun. The duality was astounding.
The last few weeks had been a little hard. There had been one bounty who had been relentless, and another who had tried to take a hit at you. It hadn’t taken long for you to put the bastard in his place but the Mandalorian had taken it a little more personally than you. Before throwing him into the carbonite, Din had broken a little more than six of the target’s ribs and given him a nice shiner on his left eye. He never minded when he was the one who had a punch or two thrown at him but when it was you? Din never took to it lightly. 
Once both bounties had been sent to their respective clients and you’d collected your rewards, Din had set the Crest’s path towards a jungle planet. It was one he had frequented a few years ago - before you, before the kid - and whilst it was a little desolate, it was safe. It was away from any Imps, any potential danger. It meant that you could both let your guards down for a bit and put your feet up. Plus, the Child had been dealing with cabin fever for the better part of two weeks and you were convinced you were going to lose it if you didn’t get the little fucker to some open space soon. Preferably one with lots of frogs, because he was not taking well to the freeze-dried food that you’d been fobbing him with him for the last few months. 
You were laying in an open field, weight propped up on your elbows as you glanced out into the grass over your sunglasses. Din was making his way back towards you, trudging through the long blades; the low evening sun was bouncing off the beskar of his helmet, causing you to scrunch your face up. You could tell from the way he was talking that he was exhausted. He’d been on kid duty all day (it was your turn tomorrow) and somehow, that was more tiring that any bounty. 
‘Where is he-’
Your question was answered before you could even finish it; the little creature suddenly appeared through the grass, hitting your shin with a thump. Digging his claws into your jeans, he scrambled up onto your legs, plopping into your lap and leaning against your stomach. He peered up at you with big brown eyes for a second, before twisting back around to rest his head against your chest for a nap. There went your evening plans.
‘Did he eat anything?’ You raised your arm out to Din, signalling for him to sit next to you.
Aside from his helmet, he had shed the rest of his armour. The material of the undershirt he was wearing was soft against your skin as you leant into his side, letting it a small hmph as you did. He instinctively wrapped his arm your waist - because even on a safe planet, Din was naturally protective - and pulled you closer, using his free hand to run a finger over the kid’s wrinkly head. 
‘I saw him swallow a frog whole.’ His modulated voice replied. ‘It’s still disturbing.’
‘Not as disturbing as when he ate the fish whole.’ You grimaced, glancing up at him. ‘The thing was bigger than him and he gulped it down. Biologically, it doesn’t work.’
‘Nothing about him makes sense.’ He said. 
‘The only thing that makes sense is that nothing makes sense.’ You joked. ‘But I guess we’ll find out a little bit more when we work out where the hell he actually came from.’
It was a subject you didn’t approach too much. You knew that one day, you’d have to hand him back over to his own species; it was all well and good to look after him when he was still small, but you had no idea what he was going to grow to be. Finding his home planet had sort of been a secondary quest for you and Din, between bounties. Given how slow the little bastard aged, time wasn’t too much of a concern. Knowing where to start was the problem.
‘I wish we could keep him forever.’ You quietly murmured. 
‘Me too, cya’rika.’ Din gave your shoulders a light squeeze. ‘But we have to do what’s right for him.’
‘I know.’ You nodded. ‘What do you think we’ll do after we’ve found his home? His species?’
It wasn’t something that Din had given much thought. He was so used to planning everything in the moment - hours ahead, at most. He hadn’t thought in terms of days, let alone weeks or years. It made sense to, because you weren’t going anywhere. He had an opportunity to have a life outside of being a bounty hunter; you’d shown him that much. He’d found a home with you - a sense of contentment and belonging - but in a physical sense, he’d never thought about settling on a planet. When he was younger, the idea of having his own children and his own clan had played on his mind, but it had faded as the years went by. Maybe it was time to revisit the idea.
‘We could get married.’ Din quietly suggested. ‘Start a clan of our own. Something permanent.’
‘I didn’t realise that the word permanent was in your vocabulary.’ You replied. 
‘It wasn’t. Not before you.’ He said. ‘There was a lot of things I never thought about before you.’
‘A clan?’ You intertwined your fingers with his, giving his hand a light squeeze. ‘In a few years, absolutely - but I am not doing it on that pile of junk.’
‘That pile of junk got us here.’
You rolled your eyes, shaking your head - but there was a smile on your face. ‘We don’t have to think about it now. One step at a time.’
There was silence for a minute, as you both pondered to yourselves. In the same way you hadn’t been part of Din’s plan, he hadn’t really been part of yours. When you’d met him, you’d never expected to fall in love with him. You couldn’t see his face, or his emotions or his feelings - but after a while, you saw him. It was though you had seen straight through the armour and right into his very soul without either of you trying. You were first person to see him as Din, and not as the Mandalorian. You understood his humanity, and the fact he wasn’t always a warrior; it meant he could let his walls down around you, and seek support and solace in a way he’d always thought to be terrifying. And it was, at first, but now it felt natural and healthy. He had you and you had him. Nothing else mattered.
‘I’ll go wherever you go.’ Din broke the quiet, eyes falling down to where the child lay in your lap.
‘You’d do that for me?’ You rested a hand on the side of his helmet; it was cold against your skin, but the gesture was there. ‘You’d give us all this up for me?’
‘I’m not giving anything up.’ He replied. ‘When I have you, I have everything I need.’
Din had always been blunt and straight to the point: sometimes it was a blessing, sometimes it was a curse. Right now, it was completely and entirely a virtue. It meant that you didn’t have to second guess his feelings for you, or worry about him leaving you. Everything he said to you was a promise. Talks of your future were mutuals goals, things to look forward to together. 
‘I love you.’ You pressed a kiss to the edge of his helmet. 
‘I love you too.’ Din replied. 
‘So let’s retire right now and get a moisture farm on Tatooine-’
‘- don’t push it.’ 
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ghostgirlinsatin · 5 months ago
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Turn back the clock: Byler/M!leven/Jancy + growing up. Stranger Things is a coming of age story. + details
Hi :) I was watching S3 E1 and I had a crisis moment (lol no, it’s a bit “too much”) but I noticed another detail which could be a hint for Byler (or just a coincidence, you tell me). I feel like this guy at the moment, aha.  
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Please don’t judge me. x) I know it’s a mess, but my stupid brain doesn’t work straight. Like. My ideas are all over the place, I can’t think linearly, and it’s infuriating. XD
So we know how S3 of ST opens up. It reveals the “Evil Russians” in a “Secret base” and then it pans to Mike and El kissing in her room (with a queer-coded music because Mike is gay and in love with Will lol) while Hopper is watching TV and “spying on them” (”THREE INCHES MINIMUM!”). Then Mike goes to his movie date (He’s “Late”, “Again!”) and the power goes out, but comes back. Okay, after the movie date with Lucas/Max, Will/Mike, we’ve got a scene with Jonathan and Nancy. The camera focuses on Nancy as she wakes up in a hurry, looks at her watch with a panicked face, and when Jonathan asks her what’s wrong she says “We forgot to reset the clocks”. And the camera pans to Jonathan’s clock (which is covered with his shirt), where we can see that the time is “12:00″ (midnight) while “Open the door” by Gentlemen Afterdak plays.
So, I don’t know about you, guys, but in France we’ve got this idiom: “Remettre les pendules à l’heure”. I think you can translate it like that: “Set the clock back” (aka reset the clock) but the American English meaning seems to be “to set the record straight” (apparently).  
"Remettre les pendules à l’heure" is an expression based on synchronization. It means "to focus", so that things are clear for everyone. This expression is mainly used in the context of a disagreement or misunderstanding involving several people. Each person must "take stock" of the situation in order to move forward and make a decision. Now, we know that one of the main themes of ST3 was the dangers of miscommunication. I’ve already talked about that before, but the simple fact that Lumax and Byler go to the movies to watch “Day of the Dead” is telling. Romero (the director of the movie) described the film as a "tragedy about how a lack of human communication causes chaos and collapse even in this small little pie slice of society." And we’ve got all the communication problems between the kids and the adults during S3, including m!leven, jancy, jopper, lumax, dustin/suzie, dustin/the party, steve/robin, ted/karen, alexei/the adults...and byler problems due to the lack of communication and misunderstandings which result in disagreements. (Note-to-self: I really need to write that post about Miscommunication/Day of The Dead).
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(Nice detail: We can see this box of Tri-x pan 400 film on Jonathan’s nightstand. Wikipedia says: “Tri-X is a black and white photographic film produced by Eastman Kodak Company, and distributed by Kodak Alaris. The combination of hand held cameras and high speed Tri-X film was transformative for photojournalism and for cinema.” we know that photography and journalism are two of the many reasons Jancy fight in S3: Nancy interrupts Jonathan 3 times when he’s developing his photos, and they fight because she wants to investigate a case, but he doesn’t believe her... because they don’t listen to each other properly lol) (Jancy won’t be endgame imo) (also they say “shit” seven times).
So I found it interesting that the Jancy scene begins with that expression “we forgot to reset the clocks” when we know that it’s very similar to the idiom “to set back the clock”  which means: to revisit, recount, return to, or recreate a time or era from the past.  
So this simple sentence is a foreshadowing of the whole season. Because Nancy and Jonathan “forgot to reset the clocks” they are late to their work. They have an argument on the road (followed by many arguments during the season because they don’t understand each other because they don’t talk enough). Both of their passions are important in their fights. They don’t respect each other’s passion. Like I said before, Nancy doesn’t respect Jonathan’s photography (could this be a backlash after what happened in season 1: the fact that Jonathan spied on her by taking pictures of her behind her back?) and Jonathan doesn’t respect Nancy’s desire to lead a proper investigation and to write a good paper (and not just to serve coffee to misogynists assh*les). They also have issues with classism, but that’s a subject for another day.
M!leven are not on the same page either. We can see that their values differ during the season because they both LIE (= miscommunication) and MAKE THEIR OWN RULES without respecting each other’s boundaries, or without trusting each other as Max pointed out to Mike. (Thank you, Max. Sometimes Mike’s total obliviousness blows my mind, as a wise boy said before.) Kaypeace21 wrote a post about M!leven not trusting each other here if you want. I completely agree with her. The fact that they’re not on the same page is also shown during the “blank makes you crazy” scene. (With a nice parallel to “crazy together” byler scene as everyone already knows).
Lumax, Jopper and every other ship/interaction of S3 is foreshadowed by “we forgot to reset the clocks”. We forgot to "set the record straight”. (We forgot to talk to each other, and now we are arguing, or misunderstanding each other. And that sucks.)
And yes, I do believe that Byler will be canon, but this expression doesn’t exclude them. They are just as stuck as the others.
Mike and Will’s fight scene is important because it establishes that: Mike thinks that you’re supposed to like girls when you grow up, and that’s why you date them. And Will doesn’t want to grow up. We can see that he tries to grasp the remnants of his childhood by having a hyperfixation on DnD. He wants to stay in Mike’s basement (aka one of the meanings of the “cave” that Hopper is talking about in is letter), hidden from the rest of the world, and he wants to play DnD with him (because he’s in love with him but if he stays in the basement, he can just pretend to be his DnD character while in the external world, his feelings are real, and he must acknowledge them if he wants to grow up, but he’s not ready yet to face his trauma + internalized homophobia + his feelings for his bff + the numerous challenges that come up when you’re growing up... Huh, S3′s monster represents puberty, for instance.)  
Neither of them is on the same page because they are both stuck between “two slides”. They are stuck between their conflicted feelings. They are stuck in the middle of the adult-part of their life and the kid-part of their life.  
Also, please notice what Dustin shows to Will, El and Mike in S3 E1. When Lumax are in the kitchen, he gives his “Forever clock” to Will. And he shows his “slammer” to Mike and El (who are clinging to each other).  
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The forever clock... Because the time (life) is moving, “always moving, whether you like it or not”. Will can’t fight the fact that he’s growing up.  
The clock can symbolize a feeling of time pressure. If this meaning resonates, it may indicate a need to give yourself the gift of time. It is also a reminder that time is a limited resource that must be used wisely. ... The clock may also be a sign that you feel overwhelmed by something in your life. (source)
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......LOL. “The slammer” is a slang for “jail”. Mike feels trapped. (and look at El’s demeanor: she’s holding him back and he doesn’t want to let go).  
Hopper uses a very similar idiom to “reset the clock” in his letter at the end of S3, which (as others pointed out before me) is very Byler-centric. = TO TURN BACK THE CLOCK.  
To turn back the clock:  to remember or imagine times in the past (idiom)
“There's something I've been wanting to talk to you both about. I know this is a difficult conversation, but I care about you both very much. And I know that you care about each other very much, and that's why it's important that we set these boundaries moving forward, so we can build an environment where we all feel comfortable, trusted, and open to sharing our feelings.
Feelings. Jesus. The truth is, for so long I'd forgotten what those even were. I've been stuck in one place. In a cave, you might say. A deep, dark cave. And then I left some Eggos out in the woods, and you came into my life. For the first time in a long time, I started to feel things again. I started to feel happy. But lately, I guess I've been feeling distant from you. Like you're pulling away from me or something. I miss playing board games every night, making triple-Decker Eggo extravaganzas at sunrise, watching Westerns together before we doze off.
But I know you're getting older, growing, changing. And, I guess, if I'm being really honest, that's what scares me. I don't want things to change. So I think maybe that's why I came in here, to try and stop that change. To turn back the clock. To make things go back to how they were. But I know that's naive. It's just not how life works. It's moving, always moving, whether you like it or not. And yeah, sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's sad. And sometimes, it's surprising. Happy.
So you know what? Keep on growing up, kid. Don't let me stop you. Make mistakes, learn from 'em. And When life hurts you, because it will, remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you're out of that cave. But, please, if you don't mind, for the sake of your poor old dad, keep the door open three inches.”
I believe Hopper’s letter is very important. It’s a foreshadowing of what’s going to happen in the next seasons. His words about the fear of change, the desire to get back to how things were “before” could apply to a lot of characters in the show, but it’s particularly true for Will. Because this is his story, and Stranger Things is a coming-of-age story, it won’t end until he’s “out of the cave” (same as Mike) and that he accepts that things are moving, always moving, whether he likes it or not. ;) The same goes for Mike, of course. Deep down, he doesn’t want things to change. He doesn’t want to acknowledge his feelings for Will (but he “can’t fight his feelings anymore” as the song said) and the fact that he’s projecting his feelings for his boy bff onto El. And yes, I believe it’s going to hurt both of them, but “the hurt is good”. We all learn from our mistakes. That’s how growing up works (and life, as a matter of fact).
And then ST4 teases this:
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where you can see a clock...
(Pinterest)
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and Steve and Robin’s conversation about Back to the future (I love that movie <3) is very telling of the next events. “He has to go back to the future because he’s in the past. So, the future is actually the present, which is his time”.  
A lot of people think it means we’re going to have time-travel elements in ST4. I don’t interpret it that way (I could be wrong of course!), but as a metaphor about growing up, facing childhood traumas and accepting the present and its challenges.  
And I’ll add this last little thing (I didn’t want to write a long post...ahem):
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mobscene-london · 17 days ago
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All right, so this particular writing event is a little throwback to some vintage Mob Scene, and we’re going to keep it going like we did last year! Once again, I would like to first start off by thanking Lia. This was her idea the first time, and we always have so much fun with it, not revisiting would be a crime. Thank you for everything you have contributed over the years, and continue to contribute now, bab. Love you muchies. ♥
The event is just going to be called ‘Mistletoe’ because I’m not creative.
THE GENERAL IDEA:
For every character you play, you get a piece of mistletoe. (So if you play three characters, you get three nominations.)
Each piece of mistletoe gives you the chance to nominate a couple–any two taken characters in the group (or past characters current members are willing to bring back for the event)–to meet underneath it.
The players behind the couples will write out the interaction of a mistletoe moment, and you will get to watch it unfold. Most will likely have to be written in an AU format, because I know you people are going to be extra as fuck about this, but the players involved do have the option to make it canon if they so wish.
THE RULES:
Please read them.
To select your couple of choice, just send the word ’Mistletoe’ to the main page, followed by the two names, and I will add it to the list. If the couple has already been suggested, I may prompt you to send another to get a more even spread.
You can send your nominations in straight away.
Nominations must be off anonymous, so I know that you’re only picking one couple per character played. That being said, I’ll be the only one who knows which couple you’ve picked, so it will be anonymous in that sense.
Any format is acceptable. Whether you want to gif chat, do a joint-drabble/self para, mini-paras or a full-blown novel, all is good. Whatever you have time for.
Please don’t nominate a couple that includes your own character, vain sluts.
Please try to get involved! It’s not compulsory, but it’s a bit of fun, and I feel like we could all do with that right now. If for some reason you really are opposed to the idea of your character being involved, however, send me a message as soon as possible and we can make it known. It’s not a problem. :)
When the list of couples is posted, if you have too many characters nominated and you don’t think you’ll be able to keep up, just let me know! There’s no need to feel pressured. This is just some fun, and you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed.
Lastly, after I post the list of nominated couples, if your characters aren’t amongst those selected and you would still like to be involved, I will pick a partner for you! Don’t be afraid to come forward if you didn’t get nominated but wanted to be, and remember not to take it personally. With limited numbers of selections, it stands to reason that some people won’t get a nomination.
The closing dates for the nominations will be posted in the coming days, but I would recommend getting them in as soon as possible as you can start writing them December 1st. The interactions should be aimed to be completed by New Year’s Eve, ready for NYE plot drops.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
HAPPY NOMINATING!
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iam93percentstardust · a year ago
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hi! i really like your writing and was wondering if you’d recommend other authors that you enjoy or even specific fanfics you like? i’ve only just started getting into the steve/tony fandom and want to follow more people! thank you!
Hi there and welcome! We’re glad to have you here!! 💙
I’m more of an MCU kind of gal myself but if you’re interested in the comics, I highly recommend checking out the below authors and fics:
Living in the Future by Closer: Eighteen-year-old Tony Stark is the boy genius who woke Captain America, and now he's stuck with him. That's not a bad thing, but between Steve's wide-eyed wonder at the new world and Tony's little fanboy crush, the awkwardness just keeps happening.
@blossomsinthemist: seriously one of the best smut authors I’ve ever read with lots of feelings, trust me, you won’t regret getting into their works
@sineala: been writing Marvel since approximately 2014 (though if you like their works, it’s worth reading their other stuff as well even if you’re not familiar with the fandom, it’s all that good) and has written a lot of the classics including Like a Comet Streaming On and Slipping off the Page into Your Hands
Stars Fading, but I Linger On, Dear by Chibisquirt: A Soulmate AU where people meet their soulmate in their dreams. Of course, not even that solves all the world's problems, especially if one or more of the soulmates has a secret identity...
MCU and Ambiguous Fandom:
@festiveferret: has written so much and I can pretty much guarantee that you’ve stumbled across something that they’ve written at least once, writes both on tumblr and on ao3 but everything they post on tumblr is also cross-posted to ao3 so you don’t have to go digging through their blog to find ficlets
@no-gorms: has literally the most interesting AUs, I always read whatever is new pretty much the moment it comes out, can promise lots of feelings and happy endings
A Series of Learning Experiences by @riotfalling: In which Tony finds out that his tiny artist boyfriend is not a nice boy. In the best possible way. (Riot doesn’t write much Stevetony but what she does write is amazing)
Heart in Hand by janonny: Or the story where Tony, an Omega, holds a much belated Courting Ceremony. Steve joins up and loses his mind a little.
@maguna-stxrk: writes lots of fluff here on tumblr
@omg-just-peachy: widely acknowledged as the inventor of fluff
@itsallavengers: no longer as active but writes the most heartbreaking angst with a happy ending, you will feel so many things, has written classics like Versions of Reality and Nobody Panic, Everything’s Fine
@aurumacadicus: I’ve said before (I think on the stuckony reclist) that her version of Tony is my favorite but I’m going to say it again: seriously, fantastic Tony
Finding Pack by @naferty: In a world where pack means everything from status to fame to survival and to family, newly pack-less Tony Stark is trying to survive after those he once trusted betrayed him, and starting over by searching for a new pack to take him in, but with his age and status weighing heavily on his shoulders finding someone to take a chance on him might be easier said than done.What pack wanted an old infertile omega in their ranks? Certainly not the famous Avengers pack led by the equally famous Captain. (one day this fic will be finished and when that happens, I will scream for three days straight)
@sabrecmc: hmmm yes, especially check out Celestial Navigation and The Prize (also has an incredibly comprehensive rec blog, @sabrecmcstonyficrecs)
Sunrise by NotEvenCloseToStraight: Nomad is a soldier forced to do Hydra's bidding. When his mission takes him to the castle and to the bed chambers of Prince Antony Stark, Nomad is faced with a choice-- to finish his mission and finally earn his freedom or to save the last piece of his scarred soul and let the beautiful Prince live.Antony is trapped in the Palace, his life controlled by his Uncle, the Sovereign Stane. He yearns for a life beyond the palace walls but when the Nomad breaks into his rooms with blade held at the ready, Antony thinks all is lost--and then the assassin hesitates.Steven and Antony are two souls together in the moonlight, two lives on the cusp of ruin and as the sun rises over the palace, perhaps they will be two kindred spirits, finding freedom in each other's arms.
take my heart clean apart by mistymountainking: Tony comes home exhausted after an SI event. Steve acts as welcoming committee. It's an old, careworn routine they've perfected over the years, but tonight ends up going in a very different direction.
Dear Mr. Fantasy by @pineapplebread: Tony writes letters to his past loves to get over them. They’re all but meaningless by this point, but he keeps them hidden anyways, never to be seen or read by anyone else. Until one day they all mysteriously get sent out.His deepest secrets are revealed and he scrambles to do damage control, striking a deal to enter a fake relationship with Steve Rogers who just wants his ex back. Tony conveniently forgets to mention that the only love letter he still means is the one he wrote to his fake boyfriend.
slipping through the years by often_adamanta: The plane crash and subsequent ice might have killed him, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still around, haunting those he cares about. And since the only person who can see him is Tony Stark, death sure isn’t going to be boring.
Insomnia by Scavenge4Dreams: Its 3am. Do you know where your Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist is?
rough enough for love by silkspectred: The first time they had sex was right after their first kiss. Steve dropped to his knees and then Tony reciprocated after making Steve lie down on the bed. The second time it was Steve that initiated it, slow handjobs under the hot spray of the shower, and Tony looked surprised by it. Like it was weird that Steve wanted it. Wanted him.
I’m a Grown-Ass Man by not_applicable: or, 5 Times Steve Carried Tony and 1 Time Tony Didn't Mind. At all.
Containment by D: After Tony ends up severely injured from a surprise attack, triggering a flashback and putting him in the hospital for emergency surgery, the Avengers come together in worry for their friend and teammate and are disquieted by the intensity of Tony’s reaction. Between the flashback and the sedatives, Tony’s mind revisits key moments in his life while the team bands together in support of each other and their injured friend, letting SHIELD handle Tony’s attacker, they remain where they are needed, even if Tony isn’t awake to truly realize this. And through it all, Steve makes a decision that will change things with Tony.
His Fate Will Be Unlearned by scifigrl47: Tony Stark spent his childhood making weapons, filling the hole his father left in the world when he succumbed to alcohol, grief, and his own demons. At the age of fifteen, he ran away from home, and made it as far as MIT before all of his responsibilities caught up to him. Now seventeen, he just wants to finish his degree and escape from everything connected to the Stark name. Steve Rogers crashed into the icy North Atlantic in the 1940's, sacrificing himself to save the world. He never expected to wake up, and now that he has, he's not sure he's glad. The US Army has other plans for him, but for now, Steve is slowly learning to live life in the 21st century, and taking classes at Boston College. He's beginning to suspect that there is no escape. Boston College is on the T's Green Line. MIT is on the Red. The two lines meet at the Park Street Station, and so will Steve and Tony.
The Twice-Told Tale by arysteia: For someone he'd hero-worshipped for so long, Steve Rogers in the flesh is a pretty big disappointment. For one thing, he keeps looking at Tony as though he reminds him of someone else, and even if he never says anything, Tony's pretty sure it's his father. A lifetime of not measuring up to Howard's expectations is more than enough, thank you very much, and he's certainly not going to make an effort to live up to any of Steve's. Steve's pretty clearly failed to live up to his expectations, in any case, and that's not hypocritical at all.
Like Gene Kelly in the Movies by lyra_wing: Everything Tony Stark does is a dance. And it's super confusing for Steve.
bedrock and brick by lyra_wing: Immediate sequel to the movie, wherein Tony builds Avengers Tower. Or plays interior designer, take your pick.
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hms-no-fun · 6 months ago
Note
did anything specifically inspire the idea of june merging with vriska?
heads up, got another long answer for ya!
so obviously one of the big origin points for june as a popular headcanon was that early conversation with vriska. you know the one.
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following this moment vriska proceeds to tell john she's gonna make him better by making him more like her, a process that includes dressing him up in her clothes and giving him items she possesses. he then at some point (can't remember if it's before or after this moment) shares with vriska his love of the film con air, and vriska becomes basically the only person in homestuck to share john's enthusiasm about it.
in summer 2019 a lot of people were revisiting that section of the story to uncover homestuck's nascent transgender themes, and i kinda piggybacked off of that! what really struck me is how familiar this little episode felt. i remember rapidly developing really close personal friendships with other girls my age as a young teen, which at the time i parsed as a crush but never really understood even as a crush. these friendships would last maybe two or three weeks, and then i'd fall off the map because [vague egg denial noises]. looking back i can see that i was confusing wanting to be those girls with wanting to date those girls. anyway i think it's so interesting that john has this very specific relationship with vriska that dissolves about as fast as it starts, but that still feels painfully relevant to his character in some abstract way.
so going into gf2.1, i had the idea that vriska would show up in john's dreams and be a gender pest... then i remembered con air, and specifically that scene where john shows it to jade and then loses his shit about how bad of a movie it actually is. i don't know that i'd say it's one of the best scenes in homestuck but it's certainly among the ones that most hit home for me. i have lost count of the movies i loved so much as a kid and teen that i made them a core part of my personality, which i now find utterly contemptible and garbage. and just how AWFUL it can feel to rewatch something you used to love and realize that actually it sucks, and everyone who ever told you it sucks was right. so i figured, hey, why not revisit that scene in a dream and play up the vriska connection? and then as i was writing later scenes it was like, you know what, let's make con air the locus of john's gender revelation.
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(fun fact: someone on the hs2 team told andrew about this scene waaaaaaaay back in like september 2019 and he was like "yeah that sounds about right," which i thought was pretty cool)
anyway, the fusion thing specifically was another of those divine inspiration moments. because as i was writing those early chapters of 2.1 (and i think you can see hints of this if you look back), my idea was that the person june was talking to in the dreamspace was... someone/something else. maybe june from the future? i had a lot of different ideas floating around in my head that ultimately wound up set aside because vriska, being vriska, completely stole the show from me! honestly i wanted to have june just be like, transgender john, without much difference, but it was again like. wait. if john's gonna fuse with vriska, even if it's this sort of parallel memory-based fictive of her, then that's really gotta stick doesn't it? like it can't just be "oh i'm kinda vriska-esque now" without really staring into the heart of who vriska is. or, more specifically, who vriska was at the time that john really latched onto her as "the kind of woman i want to be."
and that's the point at which godfeels really got away from me (in a good way). i've actually been revisiting early gf stuff as i'm problem-solving 3.1 ch8 and what's stuck out to me the most is how rapidly the story's tone changes as soon as the narration switches from second person to first person. that was a trick i knew i wanted to pull, but the vriska aspect of it with the new text color and everything, rereading that scene almost two years out from writing it i can still feel the energy of that revelation. it was so strong then that it's still fueling the narrative to this day! i mean, gf3 would be a COMPLETELY different story if i hadn't made june part-vriska.
after that chapter came out, i saw a few folks sort of deriding my june as a cringe self-insert, and like, i've never made a secret of june's autobiographical elements? and i even joke about it in the story and in the tags with stuff like "vriska-kin" or whatever. but i think the wish-fulfillment/power-fantasy line of critique only carries so far. i don't want to speak for all trans women here, but i know that i spent a lot of my life as an egg struggling through infinite brain fog, slowly losing track of all my interests and my friends and my everything else. and then realizing i was trans, coming out, it was genuinely like finding my desire to LIVE again. and with that came all these realizations about myself, realizing that despite being (at the time) almost 28 years old i still didn't really understand much about me or who really wanted to be. and i think this is an extremely common transgender experience! where you come out and suddenly you're able to live life and have opinions about things and feel ENTITLED to being treated well! and i just think, there's something really beautiful in a trans woman who comes out and decides, no, i'm not gonna apologize for who i am. i'm not gonna make excuses, even if that makes people think i'm a bitch!
and that's all vriska, baby. i leaned into the vriska stuff more and more entirely because of that uncomfortable zone she inhabits that's like, yeah, you're right, but you don't have to be an asshole about it. and that's just really compelling to write! i love writing mean, damaged women who have unfathomable superpowers!! and that basically became the core theme of godfeels as a whole: what is power if you lack the will to use it? june's existence is an inconvenience for a lot of people in the story entirely because for maybe the first time in her life, she has the will to really truly use it. i think if you get galaxy brained enough you can trace a direct line from this theme straight to gf3's "it's a space opera now."
anyway i hope that answered your question lmao
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omg-imagine · a year ago
Text
⊱ Forget Me Not (11/15) ⊰
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Pairing: Keanu Reeves x Reader
Summary: After you wake up from a coma and realize that your memories from the last five years have been erased, Keanu works to bring back what you have lost.
Words: 8.3k
Warnings: Angst, language, mentions of sex, alcohol and cheating
A/N: Aaand here it is! This chapter is quite long and heavy, and honestly I’m super nervous about it. As a friendly reminder, this is a work of fiction. Everything written here is simply for the d r a m a :)
Hope you all enjoy!
Part 10
The scene had been all too familiar—your eyes searching for the truth, his expressing sincere regret. Outside, the rain fell as the world around Keanu crumbled, your love for him slowly ripping apart at its delicate seams.
“Please,” you intoned, holding back your tears. “Don’t lie to me, Ke.”
He could do nothing else but revisit the pain you had forgotten, a pain that still burns in his chest. Like a knife cut deep into his heart, the wound continued to bleed, and he wondered when it would stop, if it would ever stop.
Desperately, he wanted it to stop.
Keanu breathed in deeply, then exhaled heavily. Silently, he counted in his head—one, two, three.
And with one last, sorrowful look at you, his lips finally part, beginning the tale...
—four months before the accident;
January was bitterly cold; the air frigid and sharp. It nipped at your fragile skin and froze your bare fingers as you stood out on the balcony, letting the wintery dry breeze blow around you. The weather made you dearly miss the beauty of summer, where everyone and everything seemed much more alive.
It was past midnight in Milan. The city was quiet and peaceful, its cobbled roads were empty, glimmering beneath the streetlights’ pale yellow glow. The view from your hotel was beautiful, and for just a few fleeting moments, you admired the breathtaking sight of it all.
But no matter how much you tried, you couldn’t bring yourself to fully savor it. As you gazed out on the skyline, the ache inside was ever-present, nearly unshakable. You had noticed it during these last several weeks and thought nothing of it at first. Yet, as the days passed by, the feeling only grew stronger, and slowly, you began to understand the reason why.
Sauntering back inside where you were immediately greeted by the comforting warmth of your hotel room, you lowered yourself carefully on the quilted leather couch with your phone already in hand. For a second, your thumb hovered above Keanu’s number displayed on the screen. Hesitating, you then glanced at the clock on the wall and assumed that it’s a reasonable hour where he was to call.
The phone rang and rang. It rang almost endlessly until finally, it halted. A split-second of empty silence filled your ears before a monotonous voice told you to leave a message at the end of the tone. Sighing deeply, a frown creased your face when you realized the call only led to Keanu’s voicemail once again, the third occurrence this week alone.
He doesn’t want to speak with you. He’s avoiding you. He doesn’t care.
He doesn’t love you any—
A half-glass of red wine sat still on top of the mahogany coffee table just within reach. Fingers curling on the glass stem, you downed the rest of the drink in one quick go, hoping that it would calm the thoughts swirling in your head.
But, the alcohol didn’t help quell the storm. Rather, it allowed it to rage on.
In an attempt to soothe, you reasoned that Keanu was merely too busy to answer his phone. It was a bad habit of his—shutting out the rest of the world as he drowns himself in his work. You knew how committed he was when it came to acting, how he wanted to focus most of his time and energy to the role he was bringing to life.
Yet, there was something different about this time. Never in the five years you’ve dated has Keanu gone a day without calling or texting while he was away working. Even if he was bone-tired from a long day of shooting, he would send you a message to ask how your day went. The conversation would be short, but at least you knew he was still thinking of you.
You wondered where it all went wrong. After Christmas, things seemed to go downhill. Work for the two of you was stressful, the atmosphere at home becoming tense. It started out as simple bickering, which later turned into angry arguments. You easily set the other off, picking fights over issues that seemed so trivial now.
Why did it all go wrong?
The question has lingered in the back of your mind for weeks. This wasn’t the first time you two encountered a rough patch in your relationship, but you have never felt so distant from Keanu. It was as if there was always between you and him. No matter how hard you tried, you just couldn’t get through him anymore.
You didn’t want to think of it, but you wondered if this was the end. You wondered if the relationship had simply run its course. The love between you and Keanu was close to emptying out, leaving a bitter frustration that had you at each other’s throats. Perhaps you were both tricked into believing that this was something that would last forever, and the past couple of weeks was the universe’s cruel attempt in telling you so.
Or maybe it was your respective careers. Keanu had several projects lined up, and yours was steadily growing. There were many, many days when you barely saw a glimpse of each other at home. You spent more time with your colleagues than together, and the sad truth was, being apart felt better. Any time you were alone in a room with Keanu, it would always end in a shouting match, with you shedding countless tears after.
It hurt. Every waking day, it continued to hurt, and all you could do was swallow the pain, hoping that the dark gray cloud looming over would eventually pass. You couldn’t take it anymore; the stinging remarks, the venomous voices, and the sleepless nights. It was exhausting, yet despite it all, you realized that you still loved Keanu, and you desperately wanted for the relationship to work out.
At that very moment, as you walk back to the tall glass windows overlooking the city, you decided to confront Keanu the next time he’s home. For nearly a month, neither one of you has brought up the fact of how bad things have gotten. You were scared to do it because it meant facing the reality of the situation. What if it was really the end for the two of you? What if it wasn’t meant to be?
The answers frightened you, but as you gazed out at the scenery for a silent moment more, your heart convinced you not to give up so soon. It tried assuring you that this was merely normal, something that happens to even the strongest of couples. You and Keanu had simply lost each other, but you were hopeful that one day, you would find your way back together.
One day.
Your phone remained quiet in your hand, and you couldn’t stop the single tear rolling down your cheek when you caught sight of your lock screen. The smiling photo of you and Keanu displayed was a gentle reminder of fonder times, ones you would forever cherish. You would do anything if it meant having more of those moments with him.
Moments when you were deeply in love and felt the happiest.
The wind blew crisp, cold air that seeped through the slight crack between the balcony doors. You felt it gently sweeping along your skin, causing you to shiver.
Winter was beautiful, so serene, but you yearned for summer to return.
Surely, it will get better when it’s warm again.
—three months before the accident;
A thick, weighted silence hung over the air as Keanu stepped foot inside the house, and it was nearly suffocating. He couldn’t recall the last time he came home expecting you to greet him by the door, either with a smile, a kiss, or both. Those days were a distant memory, faintly glowing in a dark abyss, drifting further and further away from his reach.
He lingered briefly in the middle of the empty foyer, not knowing whether he should head straight upstairs where you would be. It was a long day at the Arch office, and the last thing Keanu wanted was to resume the quarrel that had erupted earlier. He didn’t have the energy to defend himself from something you and he have been fighting about for far too long.
Turning down the hall, Keanu headed to the kitchen, his footsteps heavy as the ache settling in his chest. At this point, he was at a loss. Things between you and him were only getting worse, and he didn’t know what to do. When you had brought up the fact that the two of you were spiraling down, he listened and was willing to fix the problem.
That was until you mentioned his job.
Keanu loved you, of course, but his career was also important to him. Lately, he’s been swamped dealing with his current projects. His hands were full, but instead of you being the support he needed, you had been quite upset with the amount of time he’s working. It ticked Keanu off immensely when you requested that he cut-back on his job. You knew it was almost impossible for him to do so, yet you were adamant about it.
And after Keanu refused, it drove the wedge even farther between the two of you.
He didn’t understand how you and he came to be this way. You were hurting, and he was hurting, too. But it was difficult to compromise when he didn’t want to slow down or take a break, especially not while Keanu had a lot going on. This was part of his life, and he had explained that to you from the very beginning. Five years have passed, and only now did you realize that maybe you couldn’t handle it.
Keanu forgoes turning on the kitchen lights and padded into the slight darkness, making his way to the refrigerator for a glass of water. The phone in his pocket vibrates, but before he could take it out to check who had messaged him, the lights above him switched on, and he quickly glanced behind him to see you standing by the entryway.
“You said you’d be home at seven,” you muttered lowly, arms coming to cross over your front. “It’s ten.”
“I had a lot of things to wrap up before I go back to shooting,” Keanu replied, knowing full-well it was a lie. He had finished at eight o’clock, opting to stay at the office for two more hours because he needed peace, just for a little while longer.
“I can’t believe it. You’ve only been here a week, and you’re leaving again.” The sound of your voice cracking gnawed at his chest, the growing guilt doing just the same. “We live together, and I barely see you.”
The tense silence that fell was unbearable but unfamiliar. Keanu’s gaze shifted downwards, avoiding your tearful eyes, afraid of what would happen if he meets them.
You swallowed thickly, your words laced heavily with despair as you ask, “What happened to us?”
He remained quiet, unsure of where to begin.
“I-I know we’ve been arguing over ridiculous things, mostly. But when I try to fix us, it’s like you don’t even want to meet me halfway,” you explained tautly. “Does our relationship still matter to you?”
Again, quiet.
“Do I still matter to you?”
It was barely above a whisper, but the question rang loud in Keanu’s ears. His features softened as he tilted his head up just the slightest bit, his attention settling on you, the woman he supposedly loves yet pushes away. “Of course, you matter. You mean everything to me.”
With a small shake of your head, you sighed. “Are you sure about that?”
“Yes,” came his swift response.
“Then, why do you avoid me? Why do you choose your work before us? Before me?”
Keanu chuckled mirthlessly, running a hand down his face and blowing out a sharp huff. “I’m not choosing my job over you. I thought we went over this already?”
“Really? Because from what I can remember, the last time we spent time together without bickering was when we visited my parents during the holidays. You were gone soon after that for your movie, and whenever you flew back here for a couple of days, you were off doing other things.”
“Well, what was I supposed to do? Just ignore all of my responsibilities? And how’s it different from what you do? You were barely at home, too. Now that you’re not busy having drinks with your boss, you suddenly have time for me.”
Keanu had more than certainly struck a nerve there at the end, but by the time he realized what he’d said, it was too late to take it back. He watched as your eyes flashed with anger, shooting him a fiery glare that had him regretting the spiteful words he had thrown at you.
“What the hell are you talking about?” The bitterness dripping from your tone was enough for Keanu to make him step back, distancing himself away from you.
As if you and he weren’t far apart already.
Your question was met with absolute silence, and it only infuriated you even more. “Ke, what are you trying to say? Do you think something’s going on between Nick and me?”
Keanu didn’t answer immediately. It was another thought deep in the back of his mind, which fueled many earlier fights. He’s never been the jealous type, but he’s seen the way Nicholas has looked at you, as well as how he acted whenever you were around. Keanu has never mentioned it because he knew you weren’t capable of doing such a thing, and yet he said it, knowing that it would hurt you.
Because it’s what you two do best as of late—hurt and hurt each other.
“And what if there was, huh? Would it matter anyway? With the way you’re acting, as if you don’t want us to get better, I bet it doesn’t,” you added sharply, the tears you tried so hard to contain now falling. “Can you say something? Anything?”
Shoulders slumping, Keanu looked at you and saw the pain in your weary eyes. It’s beginning to dawn on him that he was the problem. It wasn’t the stress or exhaustion. It wasn’t that he no longer loved you. You were correct, he hasn’t been around for a while, and when he was home, he was more concerned with everything else but you.
“I’m sorry I’m never here,” he whispered, his sorrowful gaze dropping. The realization was overwhelming—he was pushing you away to protect himself from what was bound to happen.
No matter how much he loved you and how happy you were with him, Keanu knew you would grow tired as others have in the past. Despite the years you’ve spent together, the memories shared, and the house you’ve made a home, he believed that one day, this fairytale of a life would cease. No one has stayed with him for that long, and with the amount of heartbreak he’s experienced, it was only a matter of time until you decide to leave.
Leave. God, he didn’t want you to leave. The thought of it made his stomach turn, but after all the arguments you both have had, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one night, you decided to pack up your bags and walk out the door.
“This isn’t the life you signed up for,” Keanu mumbled low under his breath. “I love you, but this job—it’s who I am.”
“No, it’s not.” You slowly approached him, standing close enough for him to hear you exhale deeply. “It’s what you do. Look, take some time off after this movie, and I’ll do the same. We can go on a trip, maybe back to Italy like on my birthday. We’ll forget about work and enjoy ourselves. Just you and me, baby.”
You touched your hand to his cheek, rubbing his scruff with the gentle pad of your thumb. For a moment, he closed his eyes, relishing the tenderness he hasn’t felt in months. He could do what you’ve suggested, back out of a big upcoming project and spend time repairing the cracks in your relationship. Eyes fluttering open, Keanu was met with your soft gaze focusing on him, your finger moving to brush a stray strand of his hair to the side.
But then, he saw it. Staring deeply into your eyes, he could see himself hurting you again. Basing it on past history, this wouldn’t be the last time, and Keanu was sure of it. Things would be good until it isn’t, and the two of you would find yourselves back in this situation. It would be a vicious cycle, one which he couldn’t go through with, especially with you.
“What’s wrong?” You could sense a change in him. The hope that was there one second ago had now disappeared, replaced with something else indescribable.
Disappointment? Despair? Defeat?
“I-I can’t,” Keanu stuttered, ashamed. Your hand dropped from his face, your jaw clenching as you staggered backwards.
“Tell me straight,” you demanded, still holding his gaze. “Do you want to break up?”
Keanu opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Not even a slight utterance of a word. Inwardly, he’s conflicted. Why was it so difficult for him to say no? That’s what he wanted, was it? He loved you, didn’t he?
But you don’t hurt someone you love.
“I-I don’t know.”
You paused for a beat, wiping the tears from your eyes with the back of your hand. It was quiet again, and it was driving Keanu mad.
“Y/N,” he murmured your name as softly as he could, but he didn’t know what else to say.
“No,” you choked out before slowly turning around, suppressing your sobs.
Keanu made a choice not to follow you out of the room. He listened to your footsteps tapping away, getting softer as you head up the stairs, closing the bedroom door shut once you were inside.
“Fuck,” he angrily uttered, slamming his fist into the granite kitchen island counter.
As Keanu idly stood there mulling over what had just happened, he was reminded of the text that came in earlier. Quickly, he took his cell out of his pocket and read the message.
Drinks tonight at Barry’s. Are you in?
Without hesitation, he typed out a response and hit send. Drinking with her always helped, and after tonight, Keanu needed a glass or two. Possibly even three, just enough to get his mind off of everything.
Grabbing his keys hanging by the front door, Keanu briefly looked up at the second-floor landing. He wondered if he should go up there and apologize. You were broken by his answer, and knowing that he was the reason behind your tears pained him in his heart.
But before he could move, Keanu already had his hand on the doorknob, twisting it to let himself out. He didn’t want to face what could happen. Not tonight.
So he left, because avoiding the problem instead of facing it seemed like the better option, as always.
For now, you needed to cool off.
It could wait till morning.
—two months before the accident;
“Sweetheart?”
The sound of your mother’s voice caused you to snap out of the daze you were in, and you quickly fixed yourself in front of your vanity mirror. Your eyes were slightly puffy and red from crying, but you didn’t have time to mask it. Still, you mustered up your best, convincing smile as the door to your room carefully swung open.
“Hey, mom,” you greeted as she entered, a frown immediately forming on her lips. “What’s up?”
She sighed sadly before taking a seat on the edge of your bed, hands clasped as her eyes wandered around the room. “I remember when you were a teenager, you would lock yourself in your bedroom for the entire day whenever a boy broke your heart. You thought it’s the end of the world for you, and I’d sit there by your bedside, telling you that it’s not.”
Watching your mom pat the empty space beside her, you followed her wordless request for you to sit on the mattress. “I still don’t understand how you were able to handle all that teenage angst back then,” you quipped lightly. “Every breakup, you were there listening to me through my ugly, overdramatic cries.”
The two of you shared a small laugh, and for the briefest of moments, you forgot the pain.
“I’m glad you were able to fly out here for my birthday,” your mother began, her hand reaching for yours to give it a squeeze. “I thought Keanu was coming?”
You bit your lip at the mention of Keanu, the tears in your eyes already starting to form. You held them back, however. You didn’t want to sour the day.
“He couldn’t make it,” you shrugged, not wanting to explain any further, but the sadness emanating from your voice immediately gave her the impression that there was more to the story. She gave you a look—the one telling you to open up, like how you’ve done in the past with her.
“It’s okay, baby,” she assured softly. “What happened?”
And just like that, you let your walls down. After the night you asked if he wanted to breakup, things had been stagnant. Keanu went out of town again to resume filming two days later, never bringing up the topic before leaving. You haven’t seen him in a month, and to be honest, you didn’t bother contacting him.
“I don’t know what to do, mom,” you wept, and her arms wrapped around you, one hand stroking your hair as you cried into her side. “I still love him. I love him so much that the reason why I haven’t ended things is that I keep imagining that somehow, it’ll get better.”
“Oh, darling. I know it hurts, but if it’s getting too much for you, perhaps the best thing to do is to let go.”
Shaking your head, you managed to calm your unsteady breaths before sitting up. “I thought he was the one. After Eric, Ke was there to pick up the broken pieces. He was the one who made me believe in love again and made me feel worthy of being loved. But now, it’s like he’s not the same man I fell in love with years ago.”
“People change,” your mother stated as she tucked a loose lock of hair behind your ear. “To tell you the truth, I’m shocked to hear this. I’ve always thought Keanu was a good guy, the right guy for you. But this is life, Y/N. It’s all about learning and living, and accepting things the way they are, no matter how painful it is.”
You absorbed your words for a minute, only then asking, “If people change, do you think he’ll change back?”
“I can’t answer that question, but what I can tell you is that you’re stronger than you think. The decision will come to you eventually, and even though you’re scared of what could happen, you’ll know in your heart if it’s the right one.”
“I want to think that he’ll change,” you said, sighing. “But maybe we’re just not meant to be.”
Blinking away the tears, you feel like more weight has just been added to your shoulders. You didn’t want to give up on Keanu, yet how much longer of this can you endure?
“Come,” your mother suddenly spoke, changing the subject for now. “The food is ready, and your father is excited to dig into that cake you baked last night.”
“Did you remind him that it’s your birthday and not his?” You chuckled as you stood up.
She smiled fondly, and you found yourself smiling genuinely with her.
“Of course, I did, but you know how he is when it comes to sweets.”
Your mom exited your bedroom, and for a moment, you let the quiet relax you. Fixing your disheveled appearance, you were about to walk out of the door when you stopped, the phone on your nightstand catching your attention. Suddenly, you felt the need to call Keanu, just this once, despite knowing he wouldn’t pick up.
You didn’t give in. Instead, you turned off the lights and headed to the dining room.
You were done hurting for the evening.
But what about for the rest of your life?
—one week before the accident;
Keanu was never a big drinker, yet here he was, downing his fifth shot of whisky that night. He disliked parties; he didn’t care much for the crowds. But now that production has ended, the cast and crew held a big after-party to celebrate, renting out an entire bar with drinks to go around until the last person leaves.
Almost everyone was drunk and on the dance floor by the third hour, leaving Keanu to sulk in peace. He’s back in LA for the meantime but came home to a cold, empty house. You were in San Francisco for work, and he didn’t find out until he read the hastily written note stuck on the console table by the front door.
It was like this now—no words exchanged, no proper conversations, not even a simple “hello” in passing. You were just two lonely and longing souls living under the same roof, waiting for the inevitable end. Keanu was unsure of who would make the first move; both of you seem afraid to quit when you’re hanging onto the very last shredding thread of hope.
This past month, you and Keanu were the newest talk of the town. One of Hollywood’s favorite couples on the verge of splitting to “focus on their respective careers.” Usually, he didn’t pay any attention to the tabloids. They never got the story right. But as the number of reports began to increase, it even left close friends and family asking if it were true. Keanu hasn’t said a word, and as far as he knew, neither have you.
The alcohol washing down his throat didn’t sting anymore, and he wondered if it’s because he’s drank too much in one sitting or he’s that numb inside. It could have been both, Keanu mused, ordering another glass that the poor bartender had no choice but to serve. The room around him started to spin, but at least temporarily, he stopped thinking of you.
Teetering on the edge of oblivion, Keanu nearly missed the calling of his name amid the blaring music. A petite hand came to rest on his shoulder, a light squeeze following it afterwards. He glanced up and was met with a pair of kind, cerulean blue eyes.
Her eyes.
“Want some company?” She queried, and Keanu nodded, gesturing for her to take the stool next to his. “You’re awfully quiet tonight. Not liking the party?”
“Honestly, I’d rather be home,” he simply replied.
Home. Their house wasn’t a home. Not anymore.
“Is it Y/N?”
Keanu exhaled a long breath, drumming his fingers on the counter. She knew most of what went on when he told her while working together in the past few months.
At first, it was a slip of the tongue; he normally didn’t discuss his private life with others. But when it became too overwhelming for him to internalize everything, he had vented to her late one night over a bottle of wine. After that, they had grown close. She had been a good friend throughout the ordeal, the listening ear he needed.
“That obvious, huh?” He snorted, amused. Bleary-eyed, he turned to her, and she shot him a sympathetic smile. “Why are you here? Why not enjoy the party?”
“Well, every time we go out drinking, you always talk about her.” Nonchalantly, she sipped on her martini, batting her eyelashes at him. “And to answer your question, you said you needed company, so here I am.”
Her hand made its way to Keanu’s bicep, and the touch alone sent a kind of warmth that he hasn’t felt in a while. A nervous chuckle escaped his throat, but her hand doesn’t move away. Slowly, she leaned in closer, her scarlet stained lips hovering by his ear. Her voice was low, seductive and Keanu was too drunk to understand what was happening.
“You want to forget about her, right?”
Confusion marred his face, yet he gave her a silent nod. He’s not sober enough to think clearly, but the one surety he has was that tonight, at least for tonight, he didn’t want to feel pain. The alcohol solely wasn’t enough to distract him from it. Perhaps he needed something else.
Something more.
All Keanu wanted to do was forget. His conscious screamed that it’s wrong and that he shouldn’t. But as she kept staring at him with those hungry eyes, her wandering hand shifting to graze up his thigh, he could feel the electricity coursing through his veins.
And suddenly, she was all he could think of.
It’s a mistake. But what’s one more mistake going to do?
She led him down an empty hall, far away from the others. No one noticed them disappear into the back area, making it easier for Keanu to go through with this. Not too long after, they stumbled into the bathroom, lips crashing together in a bruising kiss. He had her pressed up against the door as he locked it, her fingers burying themselves into his hair as their tongues dueled.
Desire ruled over any rational thought as Keanu’s mouth trailed wet, hot kisses down her neck. Her small, nimble fingers reached down to unbuckle his pants, the clinking of metal lost in the soft moans they were letting out.
It felt good; he was feeling good. It was working, and to him, that’s what mattered.
“Keanu, please…”
Keanu stopped abruptly when his name came from her lips. It didn’t sound right to him and hearing it finally knocked back some sense into him. She’s standing in front of him, but all he could see were your eyes and the look of betrayal in them.
“What’s wrong?”
She’s not Y/N.
Pushing himself off of her, he ran his hand over his face, realizing what he had done. “I shouldn’t have.”
She inched closer to him, still panting. “I thought you wanted this, Keanu? I can help make you forget about her. I mean, isn’t that what you wanted me to do these last few months? You’re a good guy, and you deserve to feel good…”
Keanu stepped away, shaking his head. “No, this was a mistake. I-I wasn’t thinking straight. Please, don’t say a word about this to anyone.”
He didn’t even let her respond. He’s too frazzled thinking that he resorted to being the same man who had hurt you years before. Keanu had promised, he swore on his life, that he would never be like your ex. That he would treat you with the love you deserved, and you deserved only the best.
A wave of nausea hit him, and he had to get out of the confining room fast. Shuffling around her, he unlocked the door before taking a second to fix his pants. It turned out to be another mistake made that night because without warning, the entrance to the bathroom swung open, and he froze in fear.
“What the fuck, Keanu?”
Molly stood on the other side, stunned. Keanu recalled that she was friends with the director, who had mentioned in passing how she was invited to the party, too. It was funny how big the entertainment industry was, but at times, it was still such a small world.
Noting his disheveled appearance, it was clear to her what had transpired, and she could not be any more furious. The other woman, Heidi, quickly adjusted her top before hurrying past Keanu, muttering an apology as she made her hasty exit. The door closed behind Molly with a thud, and that’s when he began his plea.
“Please don’t tell Y/N,” Keanu spoke as Molly looked at him in disgust.
“Why? Are you planning to keep this a secret from her?” She was controlling the volume of her voice the best she could. Molly sincerely cared about you, and there was no doubt that she would allow this to slide.
“It’s complicated, Molly. Y/N and I aren’t doing so good and—”
Molly scoffed, shaking her head in disbelief. “And instead of working it out, you decide to fuck the PA behind her back.”
“It’s not like that. Nothing happened between us,” Keanu tried to explain, but he knew he was wasting his time.
It was still infidelity, the worst sin he could ever commit to her.
Sighing in defeat, Keanu lowered his head in shame. He could only imagine how you would react if you found out. It would break you, rip your heart in half, and for that, it was unforgivable.
He was unforgivable.
“Don’t tell her,” he repeated. “She needs to hear it from me.”
Molly approached him, and he captured the disappointment in her eyes. “I had a feeling that something wrong was going on between you two. I could see it in her face. She hasn’t been herself in a long time, and she’s never mentioned why.”
“I screwed up,” he admitted. “I knew I was going to hurt Y/N. It’s happened in the past, and I began pushing her away, thinking that she would leave eventually.”
“But you don’t want her to leave.”
Keanu lifted his tearful gaze. “I love her.”
“And she loves you,” Molly imparted following a pause, then she began walking towards the door. Before she could leave, she turned her head back to say one last thing. “Do the right thing, Keanu. If you love her that much, you owe it to her to tell the truth.”
Once alone, Keanu let out a breath, shuffling his feet to the bathroom sink where he glared at the reflection in the mirror. He was enraged, not at Molly, nor Heidi, and it wasn’t because he got caught either. The simmering anger was directed at his own self, but it didn’t matter if he took the blame.
He knew then he had already lost you.
—the night of the accident;
Rain.
It usually never rained in Los Angeles, not this much, at least.
Yet, it was beautiful, calming. The skies were shrouded by a sullen shade of grey that darkened as the hour passed to the next. The pitter-patter against the window lulled you into relaxation as you focused on the trickling drops chasing each other down the glass.
For as long as you could remember, you’ve always loved the rain. Even amidst this torrential storm, you managed to find a semblance of serenity in the chaos. Peace was there all the time. You just had to look real hard for it.
Inside, the house was quiet. It has been for days, ever since you came back from a work trip. No arguments, no yelling, nothing. You wondered if this was the turning point you’ve been waiting for. It was the reason why you stayed. In your heart, you still had hope that the pain would stop, and the healing would commence.
Maybe this was it.
This was the part when everything fell back into place.
Hearing the door leading out to the garage open, you set your coffee mug on the table as Keanu walked into the living area, wiping the grease stains off his hands with a small towel. You crossed the room to meet him halfway, and when he noticed you standing in front of him, only then did he look at you.
“How’s the new bike?” You asked, softly smiling at him.
You haven’t smiled at him like that in a while.
Keanu licked his dry lips before replying. “I-It’s good. It rides pretty great, too.”
“It’s been a while since we went on a ride together,” you pointed out, not to make him feel guilty but instead, remind him of the better times.
Times when you and Keanu were blissfully unaware of the hurt ahead.
“Yeah,” he mumbled, his chestnut orbs slightly obscured by the locks falling over his face when he bows his head. “Listen, I gotta take care of—”
“Ke,” you interjected him mid-sentence, ignoring the poor excuse he has made up on the spot to leave the room. “I don’t know what happened between us, but I really want to fix this. I have this hope that you don’t want to give up on us because if you didn’t, you would have left me a long time ago.”
A thunderous roar pierced the still air, but it wasn’t as loud as the pounding of your heart in your ears. Letting out a shaky breath, you inched closer as Keanu brought his gaze up, meeting yours. You remembered how much his eyes made you feel safe.
They still do; they still were home to you.
But as you stare into them, you could see the sadness masking their warmth. Keanu flinched when the palm of your hand caressed the side of his cheek, though he soon found himself leaning into your touch. The sensation almost seemed foreign to you both, and you would give anything in the world to change that—to have it all go back to the way it once was.
“I love you, Keanu,” you spoke softly, glossy eyes connected with his. “Please, just tell me what to do to make this better. I promise I won’t get mad at you for being away. I get it, it’s your job, and I should have understood. I’m sorry—I’m sorry for everything.”
You didn’t bother keeping the tears from falling. You didn’t care that you looked like a desperate mess in front of Keanu, but this was you laying your heart out bare. It hurt too much fighting, and you thought it would hurt even more if you left when you couldn’t even begin to imagine doing so.
In a last attempt to convince him, you pressed your lips to him, the first time in a long while. The roof continued to be pelted by the heavy rain as you kissed him, only realizing just a few seconds later that he wasn’t responding. You pulled back, seeing the flooding of sorrow in Keanu’s features. It was alarming, and you had no idea what was going in his mind.
“I-I have to tell you something,” Keanu murmured after a pause. His hand came up to rest behind the back of yours that was cupping his face.
“Whatever it is, it’s okay,” you reassured him, and then you saw it—guilt, shame, and regret. They all flashed in his wistful eyes, and immediately, panic settled in. You dreaded hearing what he had to say.
What else could Keanu have done?
You took a step back when a horrifying thought suddenly makes itself known. A part of you didn’t dare to consider it, but what if?
What if Keanu had done the last thing you expected him to, especially while knowing how it broke you the last time?
“You don’t have to lie to me, Ke,” you trembled out as your chest tightened, making it harder to breathe. You needed to know. No matter how much it would hurt, you had to know. “I-Is there someone else?”
“No.” Keanu’s short reply came quickly, but you could easily tell that he was lying; you knew him that well. The silence erupting proved to him that you had caught him at a lie, and he sighed. “It was just a kiss. I was drunk, hurt, and upset because of what’s been going on. But it was nothing, okay? None of it mattered, and it was a stupid mistake.”
You don’t respond. What was there to say?
This had to be a nightmare. You had to be in a deep sleep, experiencing a god-awful nightmare that you were willing yourself to wake up from.  
But you didn’t.
This was reality. Your reality.
And it was tragic.
“I swear to you, I stopped before anything else could happen.” Keanu continued to explain himself, but you couldn’t focus on his words; none of them were making sense to you, not that you cared in the first place.
You dragged your feet away from him, though you were worried that you would collapse as you moved. You needed to get out and be someplace else because the more you stayed there, the more you felt your soul wilting away.
Why couldn’t you have just let go?
“Y/N…”
“Don’t,” you warned, the stinging tears clouding your vision, a betrayal of your grief. “I-I don’t want to hear it.”
Ignoring what you said, Keanu reached out to put his hand on your shoulder, but you pushed it away. “No, don’t touch me.”
“Baby, just listen to me.”
“Don’t call me that,” you spat out bitterly, your chest heaving with rage. “I’m a fool for thinking that things would be okay when you’re out there sleeping with someone else.”
Keanu shook his head as another roll of thunder crashed in the background. “It was only a kiss, Y/N. That’s it.”
“Fuck, a kiss is still something.”
You sharply turned on your heel and stalked towards the foyer, only stopping when you saw the photo displayed by the bottom of the staircase. It was from the night the two of you first kissed, when you and Keanu were deeply, truly in love.
Removing the frame from its hook, the couple on the image was barely recognizable as their smiles mocked at you, reminding you of the happiness and the love you once had.
If only they knew...
Devastated, you hurled the picture onto the floor. The glass cracked but didn’t shatter, and before you could do the same to the next photo, Keanu was towering over you, his hands holding you firmly by your wrist. You struggled in his grip as you kicked and yelled at him to let you go.
It was too much. Everything was too much. Inside, you feel an aching hollowness, the love that used to be there has now become pain.
Unbearable and excruciating pain.
“Calm down, Y/N, please,” Keanu begged, yet it was no use. “Stop acting like a child, and just listen.”
You managed to break free from his hold, backing away as far as you could until you reached the door. “A child? I’m acting like a child? You’re the one who messed up, and you’re acting as if you’ve done nothing wrong.”
“I didn’t sleep—”
“Yeah, you didn’t,” you cut him off, noticing the growing frustration appearing on his face. “What are you going to say? That you’re sorry? Because that’s not enough, Ke.”
“Well, what do you want me to say?” Keanu scoffed. “I want to talk about this, but you’re being difficult by not giving me a chance.”
“So, now I’m difficult?”
“I didn’t mean it that way.”
“Then what? Tell me what you meant by that.” You waited for a few beats for Keanu to answer, but before he could answer, you decided you had enough. “Never mind, just leave me alone.”
“See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. How can we work this out if you won’t even hear what I have to say?”
“No, Keanu. I’m done listening. I’ve given you plenty of opportunities to speak up and tell me what’s wrong, but you never did. I wanted to fix this— us— so fucking badly, and… ”
You ceased as your voice broke, and Keanu standing there only affected you even more. You trusted him, you thought that he could never hurt you, you loved—
You don’t know anymore.
“I can’t be here right now,” you muttered, reaching for your car keys simultaneously. You’re not sure of where to go, just that you need to be far away.
Far away from him.
“Fine,” Keanu breathed out as you threw on your shoes. “Leave.”
The coldness in his tone was one you’d never heard before. It was not like Keanu to do this, but how would you know? Your mother’s words echoed in your head as you opened the front door, the loud howl of wind greeting you outside.
People change.
And it was your mistake for thinking that Keanu would change back.
“Do you even love me anymore?” You blurted out the question before you could cross the threshold, glancing back at Keanu with tired eyes.
You waited for what seemed like the longest time, his silence serving enough as confirmation.
It was over.
Wordlessly, you hurried to your car parked in the driveway, not caring that the torrent of rain had drenched you within seconds. Starting the engine, you didn’t expect him to run out of the house in a final attempt to make you stay. All hope was lost, and at this point, you’ve now accepted it.
As you drove further away from the house, the past began to haunt you. From it, you had thought good things didn’t last forever until you met Keanu. Then, you were led to believe that he was the exception.
But you had been wrong.
So damn wrong.
And as you fault yourself for your mistakes, you didn’t notice how much you were speeding until the tires skidded against the wet pavement. Your car spun as you struggled to regain control, but it was too late.
One loud crash and everything went black.
—now;
By the time Keanu had finished explaining, you had distanced yourself away from him. Your tear-stained gaze was unwavering, as if you’re processing every detail, every word. He carefully gauged your reaction, waiting for an explosive outburst or a string of curses.
“Y/N. Baby?” The wooden floor creaked under his weight when he stepped forward, the sound of it snapping you out from a trance-like state. “Can you say something? Please?”
“I can’t… I don’t know.”
You were overwhelmed, and Keanu couldn’t do much nor say anything to be of comfort. His lie had been revealed, and once more, he was breaking your heart all over again. “I’m sorry—”
“Don’t you dare say another word,” you choked, forcing Keanu to halt his movements. “You didn’t plan on telling me, did you? You were going to act like it never happened.”
“I was going to tell you, but I was waiting for the right time.”
The excuse was painfully pathetic, and Keanu was already losing the uphill battle. He’s gone through this before, and he could tell that the newly found love you had with him was swiftly vanishing. The resentment was building in front of him, replacing the light that used to be in you. He’s unsure whether he would get to see it again.
“I just wanted things to go back to the way they used to be—when we were happy,” Keanu added, mirroring the hope you had before he took it away.
“No,” you denied sternly. “You tried to paint our lives as perfect when it’s far from it. You saw my amnesia as a way to start over.”
“I know it’s fucked up, but the one thing I’m not lying about is how much I love you, Y/N. Please understand that.”
“Then, why was it so hard for you to say that before? It could have saved us a lot of trouble,” you replied as you marched out of the room, only for Keanu to trail closely behind.
“It was a mistake, but these recent months made me realize that I can’t bear even the thought of losing you. We were so happy together and—”
“But, I’m not the Y/N who was there during those times, Keanu. I wouldn’t know. You’re a stranger to me, and I can’t believe I trusted you so easily just because you showed me pictures of a happy couple.”
Keanu didn’t know what else to say. Every scenario he came up with would end the same way, but it wasn’t too surprising. You and he were broken beyond repair, all thanks to his selfish decisions. If only he had told you the truth from the start. Maybe somehow, it would have fared better for the two of you.
“I-I have to go,” you stammered, and before you could open the front door, Keanu bolted next to you, pressing his hand on the frame to prevent you from walking out. “I can’t do this right now. Please, I just need to get—.”
“No, I’m letting you out there,” he stated worryingly. “I don’t want anything bad happening to you again.”
You wiped a lone tear as you exhaled. “Something bad has already happened, and it’s you, Ke.”
Silence.
You didn’t say more. Instead, you brushed past Keanu and dashed up the stairs, slamming the bedroom door shut behind you. The force rattled the house, and once he realized he was finally alone, the tears Keanu tried his mightiest to keep at bay started to fall. He stood there for what felt like an eternity as he figured out what was next for you both.
But Keanu already knew, however. He just didn’t want to admit it.
The storm outside passed, but the atmosphere inside was far from calm. Exhausted, Keanu was about to head to the guest room upstairs when his gaze settled on the very same picture you had tried to break that night. You had just got around to buying a new frame to replace the old one, and you were excited to have it back on the wall.
Since the accident, you and Keanu had made new happy memories similar to the one photographed. But after all that has been said, tonight would be the only memory you would forever remember him by.
Part 12
Tags: @penwieldingdreamer @fanficsrusz @toomanystoriessolittletime @awessomness @meetmeinthematinee @ringa-starr @ficsnroses @iworshipkeanureeves @keandrews @greenmanalishi @feminine-machinegun @thehumanistsdiary @lussdew @rdjloverxxx @flaminasteroid @danceoftwowolves @ravenpuff02 @wheretheriversrunintothesea @breakthenight @allie1804-fan​
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weilongfu · 9 months ago
Text
Saifah and the Mask of Mnemosyne
The next installment of the Rich Boys PJO!AU, featuring Camp Jupiter!
Summary: When Zon is struck by a mysteriously poisoned arrow, not even turning Camp Jupiter upside down is enough to find the culprit or treat Zon's wound. Saifah takes the dangerous risk of invoking the power of Mnemosyne, the titan of memory, in order to see what Zon saw before the attack, but there lies a catch. Saifah is forced to view and maintain the last three days of Zon's memories to find the information he seeks. In saving Zon's life, Saifah sees the full depth of his boyfriend's involvement at Camp Jupiter and a new danger to both camps.
With this fic, I’ve absolutely fucked myself over because you’ve now got “confirmation” that the 2gether and My Engineer boys are also in this alt universe. Kill me since we’ve got 32 potential “main” boys at any one point in time. Never mind any other references to other boys. Some of which... you might see in future installments. Maybe even the next one if the ending of this fic was ANY indication.
I do hope that those of you who have been waiting for this fic enjoyed it. It started out very strong with this idea and slowly... Kind of became a struggle for me. But I hope that you can still find something to enjoy.
All the same, I hope you'll look forward to the next one: The Wild Doctors and the Five Blessings of Apollo.
------
“Do you swear it though,” a young man asked. Although his back was straight and his expression proud, his voice cracked ever so slightly. “That if I do this task for you, you’ll-”
“Oh… yessssssss…” The sound of shifting flesh and scale echoed in the subterranean chamber. “I will foresee the waysssss you can obtain the heart you desssssssire…”
“And all I have to do is this task.”
“I ssswear it on the River Sssstixss…” Thunder boomed overhead. “Kill them… the strongest of hissss blood in both your campssss and it ssssshhall be done.”
The young man held out his hand. “And the aid you promised me in this task?”
“Foolisssshhh boy. Do not sssseek such aid with empty handssssss…”
The young man rolled his eyes and held out a crystal vial. Five drops of viscous fluid fell into the vial, steaming as they fell through the air and smoking upon contact with the crystal. The young man pulled away quickly and put a stopper in the vial.
“And how should I contact you when I’m done?”
“Ssssilly boy… Of course I will know… I will contact you…  Who do you think I am?”
-------
Although Saifah was not always the most observant, he was pretty sure he was at the very least aware of all the different shops in the forum of Camp Jupiter. Not once had he ever seen the strange little mask shop that had suddenly taken residence in between Zon’s favorite bookstore and his favorite music shop.
But perhaps calling it a shop was being generous.
A small stand, barely held together, could hardly count as a proper shop. But there were many masks to choose from, some sturdy and ornate, some cheap and plastic, and some even from video games. Saifah picked up a purple, heart shaped mask, with yellow spikes and patterns drawn across the face in white while yellow and red eyes stared out. Saifah nearly put it on his face before the mask was taken away.
“No, no, no. I’ve already had enough trouble with little kids thinking they can put on this mask and run about. I’ll not let a young man who should know better do the same,” said the shopkeeper. He was thin and hunched over, red hair fading into dull orange and gray, and his eyes were so narrow as to almost look closed. “But please, do look at some of my other selections.” He held up a Pikachu mask. “This one has been popular amongst people your age.”
“Oh…” Saifah craned his neck and looked at the other masks. “Actually do you have a Squirtle one? Because my boyfriend likes that one more…” Saifah trailed off as his eyes landed on another mask, carved like the face of a beautiful woman, at least if the shape of the brows and the red of the lips were any indication.
There were no holes to see through, for the mask’s eyes were shut but weeping teal-colored tears. The same teal was used to paint markings across the forehead and down to the temples. Braided gold cords hung from the sides as the means to tie the mask on. The shopkeep followed Saifah’s gaze and frowned.
“Oh no, please don’t take that one. I’ve only just gotten it after such a hard search.” The shopkeeper pleaded with his hands together. “Please young sir, it’s such a rare mask, I’d like to enjoy it in my collection for a few days longer.”
“What… What mask is it?” Saifah said as he blinked.
“This,” said the shopkeep as he took it down with reverent hands, “is the Mask of Mnemosyne. The titan of memory. Finding one of these, a relic of her cult, was so difficult!” He held it out for Saifah to take a closer look at. From the designs across the forehead and temples, thinner and finer lines branched off, trailing down across the face, as if writing in a script long forgotten. “Some even say, her masks give one power over their memories and the memories of others.” The shopkeeper scoffed. “But that’s just a legend. Still, you wanted a Squirtle mask, eh? I’ve a few over here…” He gently placed the mask back in it’s spot before digging behind the stall for Saifah’s requested mask.
Saifah continued to stare at the supposed face of Mnemosyne until the Squirtle mask was thrust into his face and payment was demanded.
“That was way too much for a Squirtle mask,” Saifah grumbled as he walked away with the plastic mask in hand. “Does that old man think we’re all praetors and centurions or something?”
Without thinking, Saifah sidestepped King as he ran towards the Lake of the Little Tibber, Duen not far behind. Saifah then veered around Tine whining about something as Sarawat pet his head, his normally stoic face changed into something else.
“Is the love bug biting everyone lately?” Saifah said around the straw of his iced coffee as he saw Frong put a jasmine flower into Thara’s hair. “Or am I just missing Zon?”
“Probably both.” Saifah jumped as Fighter elbowed him in the side. “Your boy’s been busy.”
“Don’t scare me like that!” Saifah relaxed from his initial recoil. “And how do you know what Zon’s been up to?”
Fighter simply shrugged. “I’ve apparently been recruited to the cause. Centurion’s orders.” Fighter gave a small smirk and Saifah winced just a little at wondering whether Tutor’s orders had been explicit or explicit. “Zon says he’ll meet you at the usual place tonight.” An unholy howl and rattling of bones echoed over the forum and Fighter paused and took it in. “Well, assuming that… doesn’t go poorly.”
“He’s… He’s not fucking around with Ram is he?” Saifah shuddered with the memory of the Son of Pluto’s “birthday present.” Pluto apparently had spared no expense in offering his son something Ram enjoyed, dogs. The unfortunate thing being that they were undead dogs. “Those skeleton dogs of his…”
Fighter winced. “It’s not… Zon’s fault?”
“Whose fault is it?!”
------
Later that night, Saifah waited at the usual spot for Zon, as per Zon’s message that he’d be free to meet. It was strange to see the Son of Mercury be so busy over the course of so many days. Clearly, something had changed since their last excursion to Camp Half-Blood and their visit into, what Kao had called, “The Collective Unconscious.” What exactly Zon was working his way through, the shorter boy wouldn’t say. Instead he often frowned up at Saifah and said, “We all fought our personal demons of sorts back there. Don’t tell me you don’t feel different at all after that.”
Saifah winced at the thought. The edges of his psyche that had come up were something he wasn’t keen on revisiting. “What’s worse,” Saifah mumbled to himself as he adjusted his guitar in his lap, “Is that the Wild Doctors had to see that.” Saifah strummed a chord. “I’m never going to live that down, am I?” However one other memory came to mind as Saifah continued to simply run through chords as a warm-up. “I’m also never going to forget the sight of Shadow Kit with cat ears…”
Saifah’s fingers stilled on his guitar when a familiar warm weight draped itself over his shoulders. He reached up and ruffled Zon’s hair, earning himself only a mild grumble than the usual yelp.
“Tired?” Saifah asked before resuming his strumming, switching to a different song. Zon nodded against Saifah’s head. “Long day?”
“Long days ,” Zon said before sitting down and slumping against Saifah’s shoulder. “I don’t know how I ended up at the nexus of everyone’s problems, and yet there I was.”
“You could have said no.”
“But would I?”
Saifah smirked. “I distinctly recall several instances, so… yes.”
Zon slapped Saifah’s chest half-heartedly. “Ugh…” Zon followed it up by rubbing his face into Saifah’s shoulder. “I should have said no, but it was really for the best to help…”
“How can I help you recover?” Saifah said, the sounds of his guitar changing again.
Zon sat up for a moment. “Oh… You’re playing…”
“Your favorite song, yes.” Saifah kissed the top of Zon’s head without pausing in his playing. “Is it helping?”
“Whenever you play my favorite song I always feel a bit better.” Zon hid his face in Saifah’s shoulder. “Ugh, now I’m being sappy.”
“I’m glad.” Saifah smiled softly. “Want to talk about the last couple of days? If it helps, I bought you a Squirtle mask. You can finally stop being Darth Vader when you’re being moody.”
“Ass,” Zon huffed, but he accepted the mask and put it on anyway. Saifah gently nudged it and Zon elbowed him back before getting comfortable against Saifah’s side again. “Okay so first Tutor was trying to help Tine…”
A few hours later, after finishing his story, Zon sighed in relief. “I promise, I’m done sorting out the lives of others.” Zon took off the Squirtle mask and fiddled with it in his hands. “No matter what the Fates said. It’s time to go back to worrying about my own life.”
Saifah smiled down at Zon, happy to see him relaxing despite the ominous tone. “And what did the Fates say?”
It was with a strange seriousness that Zon looked back up at Saifah. “The same thing they always say. That all things must end.”
------
The next morning, Saifah strolled through the forum to meet Zon for breakfast. Although Zon found himself free, Zon had insisted it didn’t mean he could stay with Saifah that night.
“But my Zon, it’s been a week!”
“You’ll live another night!”
Still, Saifah was happy to take what he could get. Any time spent with the shorter Son of Mercury was time well spent.
“Saifah!” Saifah looked up to see Zon running and waving. Saifah slowed down and waved back.
For a moment, Zon’s face lit up and Saifah wondered if Zon was supposed to be the Son of Apollo when his face could light up the world when he smiled. A moment later, Zon’s eyes widened. With a burst of speed more attributed to Can than Zon, Zon sprinted over, jumping onto Saifah and making him turn around.
The unmistakable sound of an arrow sinking into flesh was loud in Saifah’s ears before he felt Zon sag against his body.
“Zon!” Saifah held Zon’s body while quickly darting his eyes everywhere he could to catch the archer. “Archer loose in the forum! Take cover!” Saifah yelled before pulling Zon behind the nearest pillar.
“AN ARCHER IN MY BOUNDARY? IMPOSSIBLE!” Terminus screeched. His voice echoed from everywhere, as if all his statues screamed in unison.
Other people and campers dove for cover as Saifah yelled, “And I need a medic!”
Weapons being forbidden in the forum, several people had picked up tables and trays to use as impromptu shields and were carefully canvassing the area to find the archer. Saifah looked over Zon’s body and allowed himself a brief sigh of relief to see the arrow had only hit Zon’s shoulder.
“A flesh wound… It shouldn’t be…” Saifah paused as he took in the pallor of Zon’s skin. An acrid smell filled his nose. “Poison?”
“Let me look.” Saifah whipped his head around, arm up in defense to find Thara looking down at him. “I’ll do what I can to stabilize him, but we need to get him to the medical facility immediately.” Thara crouched down and put a hand over the arrow wound, muttering a prayer before pouring some unicorn draught onto it. The acrid smell intensified and Thara leaned back. “This is…” Thara’s eyes narrowed and he muttered a different prayer, only for sparks and black smoke to lash out from the wound. The arrow itself turned to ash. “How-”
“Get up and get moving!” Tutor appeared, breastplate on, before getting on Zon’s other side. “Saifah, help me and let’s go!” Tutor turned to Thara. “Get ahead of us so we’ll be able to cover you. As the medic, we can’t afford to let you get hit covering us.”
Thara nodded, and after a brief scan of the area, he ran off, going from cover to cover. It was not long before Frong, armed with a chair leg and a tray table, was at Thara’s side and assisting him. Tutor and Saifah shared a look before they hefted Zon up and ran.
The acrid smell did not leave Saifah’s nostrils as they ran despite how fast or shallow Saifah breathed.
------
Saifah sat in a chair in the waiting room with Tutor and Fighter nearby. At the sound of doors opening, Saifah bolted up, but wilted upon finding out it was only Duen.
“I came as soon as I heard.” Duen sat down next to Saifah. “Bohn and Ram are using Ram’s dogs to search for any intruders. King, Boss, and Mek are also on the search.” Duen bit his lip. “Did you manage to see-”
“No.” Saifah scrubbed his face with his hands.
Duen pulled away and looked to Tutor and Fighter. Tutor continued to make an expression of disdain and as if he’d eaten something sour. Fighter’s expression was terrifyingly emotionless.
The doors opened again and this time Thara emerged, looking exhausted.
“How is he? Is Zon okay?” Saifah said immediately.
Thara pat Saifah’s shoulder. “He’s stable for now but…”
“But?”
“The arrow was poisoned.” Saifah fell back into his seat. “None of the antidotes we’ve tried are working-”
“What antidote do you need?” Saifah asked. “I’ll go get it. I’ll go wherever I have to.”
“I don’t know,” Thara said softly. Everyone else in the room froze. “It isn’t a poison I’ve ever…”
Saifah felt his nails biting into his palm as he clenched his fists. “There has to be something-”
“If we could find out what poison it is-”
“The archer! Someone has to have found him by now!” Saifah turned to Tutor. “Right?”
Tutor clenched his jaw and Saifah watched the muscles move. “I’ll see what I can do.” Tutor stormed off and Fighter followed behind as if he was Tutor’s shadow.
“If only Zon had seen the archer,” Duen said mournfully. “And he could tell us what to look for…”
Saifah stopped in his tracks. “Zon did see the archer.” The memory of Zon’s widening eyes hit Saifah like a brick. “He saw the archer behind me! He tackled me so that I wouldn’t get hit!”
“But we can’t find out until he wakes up. And he won’t wake up without an antidote. It’s all trapped in his memories for all the good it does,” Thara said wearily.
“In his memories…” Saifah frowned and looked at the door. “There’s no way. That would be a massive coincidence.”
“What coincidence?” Duen asked.
Saifah turned and squeezed Duen’s shoulders. “Look after Zon for me. I’ve got an idea.”
“Hah? Wait!” Duen reached out, but Saifah had already run off.
After all the trouble of getting to the hospital, finding the way back to the forum completely empty was almost startling. Only almost because Saifah had his sights set on one thing, the mask stall.
Panting for breath, Saifah found it exactly as it had been yesterday. Still in between the bookstore and record shop, still just as rickety as ever, and yet after all the commotion of earlier, not a single mask was out of place.
All except one.
“Excuse me!” Saifah riffled through all the masks available. “You said something about the Mask of Mnemosyne? Hello?”
“My what a noisy young man you are.” Saifah jolted before spinning around. The mask seller had returned, his hair still the same orange and red fading into gray but his eyes were more open than ever, revealing a piercing blue. A far too familiar piercing blue for Saifah’s tastes followed with a smile he’d seen more times than he could count.
Especially when Zon thought he was being particularly clever.
“Lord Mercury,” Saifah said quietly.
“Indeed.” Mercury shook his head and his fading hair took on a rich dark color once more. “Are you here about another mask you’d like to purchase? Or perhaps…” The mirth in Mercury’s face faded just a bit. “Have you come to ask me to help my son?”
“Both,” Saifah said in a rush. “I can use the mask to help Zon. Please, Lord Mercury.”
Mercury revealed the mask from behind his back. The expression of Mnemosyne seemed different, if only just a tiny bit less serene. “I was actually asked by your father to bring this here…”
“M-my father?”
“Mm… Apollo seems to think you might need it. And perhaps, you might help a few more people if you do.” Mercury held the mask up towards the sky, blocking the mid-day sun from his face. “But I must warn you, young demigod, if you take this mask, if you use it to help my son, this will start you on a journey which you cannot stop until it ends.”
“And when does it end?”
“A tricky question, that.” Mercury’s smile returned. “Apollo was vague, so unlike him… I suppose it’s the Greek in him.” Mercury’s lips twitched. “And perhaps my care for Zon is the same.”
“I am thankful that you care,” Saifah said softly.
“Hmm… My business here today is not to gauge the level of your affections for my son. My business is to give you this.” Mercury held out the mask. “Use it wisely and use it well. You have only one chance, for all those who have invoked the power of Mnemosyne have only one chance.” Saifah took the mask as Mercury continued. It felt far too light for something as powerful as Mercury claimed it to be. “Memories are powerful and dangerous. Mnemosyne is the same. The only other thing I can guarantee is that Apollo will be watching you. You are, afterall, one of his favored sons.”
“Father has many favored sons. He listens to many of us,” Saifah said, almost by rote.
“Yes, your father has sowed many seeds. A field of wheat and all the grain it produces would pale in comparison, perhaps matched only by my father.” And this time Mercury’s mirth was far too similar to Zon’s expression when he thought he’d told a particularly funny joke. Another common thing between him and Can. Saifah personally thought Mercury had little room to talk about who had more demigod children. “But there are a select few of you that he has been particularly proud of, has particularly blessed....” Thunder boomed above them suddenly and Mercury’s mouth snapped shut. “I suppose I’ve said too much. Goodbye, Saifah, Son of Apollo.” Mercury turned away. “I hope this is not the last time I will see you.”
In a flash and a bang, Mercury disappeared and Saifah stared at the smudge on the pavement where he’d previously been for a moment before turning around and finding the mask stand gone without a trace. Saifah then turned to peer up at the bright sky, sun still slowly moving overhead.
“Thank you, father.”
And without another moment of hesitation, Saifah ran off.
------
On Saifah’s return, magic guitar case on his back as a quiver and mask around his neck, Zon had been moved to a private care room. Tine had taken up a vigil with Tanthai and Blue under Thara’s permission.
“Duen said he was going to go help Bohn search,” Tine offered by way of explanation. “By the way, this fell off of Zon’s wrist while they were moving him… I managed to catch it.” Tine held up a tell-tale silver bracelet with a guitar pick on it. Saifah swallowed down a remark about ill omens before taking it from Tine.
“Thanks…” Saifah put the bracelet on his left wrist. “I’ll hold it for him until he wakes up.”
“What’s that mask around your neck?” Blue asked as he stood up to poke it.
Saifah jerked out of the way. “Keep Zon safe for me,” Saifah said as he held the mask close to his face. “And wish me luck.”
“Wait! Sai, what are you-”
Saifah didn’t hear the rest as he pressed the mask to his face and touched Zon’s shoulder.
The world spun and tilted. Saifah felt as if he was tumbling even though his feet were firmly on the ground. Laughter, light and just slightly to the left of melodious to Saifah’s ears rang all around him. When the world stopped spinning, Saifah found himself in the Caldecott maintenance service tunnel.
“Oh? You’re much more handsome than the previous men that have used my mask.” Saifah spun attempting to find the source of the voice only to find a tiny woman, dressed in green, teal, blue, and white, floating in midair with her face a near exact copy of the one Saifah wore with the mask. “Mnemosyne, she that knows the burden of memory.” The tiny image of Mnemosyne gave a tiny bow which gave off a great amount of sarcasm. “Tell me young demigod, what do you seek here, in the world of memory?”
“I need to see what Zon saw.” Saifah shifted and finally realized the mask was still on his face. He moved to remove it.
“Ah ah ah! You’ll need to leave that on. If it falls off your face, you’ll leave the memory.” Mnemosyne smiled and the tunnel shuddered around them. “After all, this isn’t your memory. So long as you’re here, you’ll be taking the place of your unfortunate friend.”
“What do you mean? Zon’s going to be fine,” Saifah said as he started walking in the direction of New Rome and Camp Jupiter.
“Silly boy, can’t you see it? The memory is unstable.” Mnemosyne flitted around Saifah’s head and Saifah fought the urge to slap her down like a fly. “But if you insist, then I won’t say a thing.”
Saifah bit back his retort and instead continued on. As he stepped out of the tunnel, he found himself walking out of a doorway and into the forum proper. Saifah glanced around him but no one seemed to care. Trying to place himself with a date and time, Saifah attempted to walk around the forum in the least conspicuous manner. And as Zon had often chastised him for before, Saifah failed to pay attention and tripped over himself, immediately drawing attention. A second later, Saifah found himself being hefted up by Tutor’s strong grip.
“Geez, get a hold of yourself,” Tutor muttered under his breath. “Are you spending too much time around Saifah?”
Saifah opened his mouth to retort that Zon was most definitely not spending enough time around him lately when Tine also ran up to him. “Oh Zon! You’re back!” Saifah bit his lip to hide his giggle at how Tine was looking down at his chest when normally he and Tine saw eye to eye just fine. “Is uh… everything okay?” Tine’s full set of blindingly white teeth flashed in Saifah’s eyes and Saifah was momentarily blinded.
“Gods damn Children of Venus,” Saifah muttered under his breath as he tried to blink his eyes clear.
“Hey, watch your mouth, Zon,” Tutor said while elbowing him gently. “I thought you knew better than to talk about Children of Venus like that.”
Saifah groaned at the secondary assault. “Tor… Give me a break.” Saifah rubbed his side. “I’ve been blinded by Tine’s pearly whites and then your bony elbow.”
Tutor looked at Saifah strangely and the world wobbled for a moment. Mnemosyne laughed in Saifah’s ear, but did not say a thing. Gritting his teeth, Saifah got back up.
“Pearly whites? Bony elbow? Zon, are you feeling okay?” Tutor lifted a hand up to reach Saifah’s forehead, but continued to stare directly in front as if meeting Zon’s eyes. Saifah stifled a laugh and gently pushed Tutor’s hand away.
“I’m fine, I promise. Just uh… bit disoriented. Didn’t sleep well.” Saifah smiled. “By the way, what day is it today?”
Tutor blinked. “It’s Wednesday.”
“WHAT?”
This time Tine put a hand on Saifah’s shoulder. “Is everything okay? Did you forget to do something today?”
“Uh no! No, I’ve got…” Saifah frowned. “If today is the morning of Wednesday, I’ve got at least two whole days.” Saifah tilted his head up and groaned. “What am I supposed to do with two whole days?”
“If you don’t have any work to do,” Tutor said cautiously, a specific voice he used for new campers that weren’t adjusting to the Fifth Cohort that well. “Then maybe you should see about training Phu, Ting, and Tang for me. They could use some help on their close combat and you’re doing better at it lately.” Tutor tapped his chin. “Maybe Blue too. If you can get him away from Dew and Champ.”
“I’ll uh, think about it. Thanks, Tor.”
“Sure.” Tutor nodded before pulling Tine away. “So like I was saying…”
Saifah sighed and sat on the nearest chair. “Two whole days of memories? Really?” Mnemosyne only continued to smile. “Fine. If you won’t explain anything, then I’ll wait.”
“Waiting, what an interesting strategy.” Mnemosyne landed on the table next to Saifah. “I wonder how well it will work?”
“You could just tell me.”
“Oh, but I tried to tell you the rules before and you refused to listen.”
Saifah said nothing and only crossed his arms and stewed for the rest of the day before spending the night in Zon’s room. The next day, Saifah did not leave and simply let the day pass as he picked at his guitar strings. True to form, Mnemosyne did not say anything.
On the final day, Saifah rushed out of Zon’s room for the forum only to find everyone in the forum standing still in exactly the same positions they were the first day he’d arrived.
“What? But… They should have kept on going! This is Zon’s memory!” Saifah twisted and turned, looking all around him, but everyone was as still as stone. “No!”
“Silly boy…” Mnemosyne sighed over Saifah’s shoulder. “Did you think all memories exist in a vacuum? That they just exist like pictures in a book?” Saifah grit his teeth as Mnemosyne giggled. His fists shook in repressed motion as she tossed her hair and continued. “Memories are more like a chain of links or bricks in a wall. If one is removed, eventually the rest will decay and fall apart. You thought you could use my mask, come into this poor boy’s dying memories, and just happen to find what you like?”
Saifah stared stubbornly ahead as the colors of Zon’s memory slowly started to turn gray. “Say something useful or shut up!”
“So rude…” Mnemosyne giggled again. “His dying means the links are falling apart. If you wanted him to remember, you would have had to restore each link until he did remember the details you want.” Her lips formed a sharp smirk. “But it seems our time together is up. You can only see this far and now my mask will be useless to you.”
Saifah felt the sting of his nails splitting the skin of his palm and looked at his wrist to see Zon’s guitar pick bracelet that he’d taken for courage and luck.
“Whenever you play my favorite song I always feel a bit better.”
“A song… To make Zon feel better… A song to remember…” Saifah whispered. He quickly put his quiver on the ground, turning it back into a guitar case. Saifah pulled out his guitar and immediately began to strum.
“A song can’t help you now!” Mnemosyne laughed. “You can’t see more than three days worth with my mask!”
“I can’t see more,” Saifah said softly as his strumming continued. The notes of Zon’s favorite song began to travel, attracting the notice of those in Zon’s memory and they turned their heads. “But I can make Zon remember these three days again.”
“What?!”
“Zon…” Saifah whispered as the sound of his guitar seemed to reverberate through the space, growing louder and louder. “Remember for me. Help me.”
A gust of wind blew past, like a breathy exhale of an aurae. “Saifah…” it seemed to whisper as it passed by Saifah’s ear. Color returned to the memory, the sun paused and slowly began to move backwards. Saifah could not help the smile growing on his face.
“That’s it. That’s my Zon… My best Zon… Come on!” Saifah shouted. Never had Saifah felt his fingers move so fast on his guitar. Not even after several shots of espresso while attempting to play Through Fire and Flames. Note after note, chord after chord, all flowed with an ease. Saifah focused on the feeling of the music, trying to capture the fleeting blessing of Apollo in his mind.
“No! This is… No one has ever…” Mnemosyne looked in wonder as people in Zon’s memory began to walk backwards. The air around them shimmered and vibrated. “What is this?!”
“You who are a fragment of what you were, a titan of memory now just a whisper,” said Saifah as his song continued. “Watch me pull these links back together, the fragment made whole through a song.” Saifah strummed one final chord and the world became a blur around him and the now miniscule titan floating over his shoulder.
When everything stopped, the sun was in the sky as if it had just become morning. Just as it had been two days ago in Zon’s memories. All the little details Saifah had ignored before, he took in now. Tutor sat at the fountain in the forum, attempting to counsel Tine. Somewhere in the distance, the rumbling that usually preceded Bohn and Ram disagreeing was happening, but the way to that area of the forum was still fuzzy and indistinct. Thara passed by, a basket of sweet jasmine in one arm while Frong frowned from under the awning of his family’s flower shop.
“Would you look at that,” Saifah said airily as he put his guitar away and returned the case to his back, turning it back into a quiver. “Looks like my three days aren’t over just yet.”
Saifah was immediately thankful he was the only one who could see Mnemosyne because of her ear piercing shriek that followed.
As Mnemosyne raged in a circular path around his head, Saifah focused on the first story Zon had told him.
“...Tutor was trying to help Tine…”
It wasn’t as if Tutor was always standoff-ish. Tutor was as nice as anyone else really. More so perhaps if Saifah thought about how frequently Tutor had offered extra training or lessons to anyone falling behind in their cohort. Saifah had taken advantage of that plenty of times.
But Tutor was not one that Saifah would describe as always… in tune with his emotions, especially romantic ones. The contradiction of emotional intelligence versus parentage was the one way Saifah could tell Tutor from his “twin,” Pete. Tutor had spent years avoiding and dancing around Fighter’s puppy eyes and overtures. The tension between them had gotten better after their adventure into the depths of the Collective Unconscious, if his slowly blooming relationship with Fighter was any indication. But to see Tutor sitting with Tine, his fellow son of Venus, by the forum fountain was particularly jarring. Especially considering Tine’s most recent woes.
Tine had spent most of his time at Camp Jupiter with minimal issues until recently when Sarawat, a new son of Apollo, had joined. Suddenly Tine’s life of just barely getting by in training and managing to look “chic” at the same time had suddenly gone into a tumult. Saifah didn’t have all the details, but Sarawat was involved in multiple ways and perhaps, if the jersey in Tine’s hands was any indication, the main cause of Tine’s distress. While Tutor often gave good advice, Tutor was not the one Saifah would run to for relationship advice.
Saifah politely suppressed the memory of Tutor brushing him off when Saifah had wanted to ask for advice in pursuing Zon before stepping closer to listen in while whistling in an approximation of the way that Zon did when acting like he wasn’t up to anything.
“I just… he keeps giving me all these mixed signals and…” Tine sighed. “I don’t know if I should take him seriously…”
“Well, if it’s mixed signals, then maybe it’s best that you leave it be,” Tutor said firmly. “He’s clearly not thought it through either.”
Saifah winced and thought back to the day he’d caught Sarawat staring at an old picture while laying on his bed. An oddly familiar hairstyle and stylish figure were all he was able to catch before Sarawat stuffed the picture under his pillow and demanded what Saifah had wanted.
Leaving Tine and Tutor alone, Saifah edged to where Sarawat was staring at them from behind a few pillars. His expression was as stoic as ever, but Saifah could feel the jealousy coming off of him in waves.
“Hi, Sarawat.” Saifah smiled and waved. Sarawat turned and acknowledged him cautiously and only then did Saifah remember that he currently looked like Zon. “I’m Zon! A senior legionnaire here in the Legion. If you need help with anything, you should feel free to ask me,” Saifah said, attempting to interject as much Zon-like cheer into his words as possible.
“Thanks, uh Zon.” Sarawat turned right back to staring at Tine and Saifah frowned and made a note to see what could be done about fixing Sarawat’s attitude when he was out of Zon’s memories.
“Is something over there bothering you?” Sarawat stayed silent. “Or perhaps… you have a crush on Centurion Tutor?” Sarawat whipped around to glare at Saifah. “I have to warn you, if it’s Tor you’re after, he’s already got someone…”
“Of course it’s not Centurion Tutor!”
“Then?”
“Then, what does it matter to you?”
“Well, I’m just saying…” Saifah let a cocky grin cross his face. “If it’s the first time you’ve been exposed to Children of Venus… I mean, they are very pretty, but you’d be in big trouble if you tried to take advantage of that-” Saifah was cut off by being pulled by the collar.
“Tine is not just a pretty face-”
“Oh, so it’s Tine!” Saifah reached up and casually twisted Sarawat’s hand, twisting his arm and freeing himself from Sarawat’s novice grip in the process. Sarawat could only squawk. “I hear Tine likes music. And you’re a Son of Apollo after all, have you even tried playing him some music?”
“You-”
“Here, I’ll even lend you my guitar this once.” Saifah let go of Sarawat to offer him his guitar. “Go on. I bet if you play Everything by Scrubb, Tine will come running right now.”
Sarawat scowled as he took the guitar from Saifah. “It’s so loud here, there’s no way-”
“Try it. And if it doesn’t work, I’ll persuade Centurion Tutor to get you out of probatio status faster. Think about it. Finally getting treated like your own person. You get to have a room to yourself in the barracks!”
Sarawat didn’t even think twice before strumming the first chord. His singing was strong and clear. Saifah took a moment to enjoy the artistry of a fellow musician before he heard the sound of running.
“Oh my gosh, are you playing, ‘Everything?!’” Tine’s eyes were sparkling. “No one else in camp has heard of the song! Do you know any other Scrubb songs?”
“So you’ll talk to me now?”
Tine had the decency to blush and Saifah took it as his cue to casually take the guitar away from Sarawat and step back. “Well… I… I’m… You see...”
Sarawat sighed. “If you meet me later tonight, I’ll play any Scrubb song you can name.”
“Really?!”
“But you have to promise to listen to me first.”
Mnemosyne frowned. “This… This is not how his memories go…” She almost danced in front of Saifah’s face, but only if stomping was a dance. “How did you-”
“It’s kind of the same but different.” Saifah shrugged. “Zon doesn’t know Sarawat like I do. I don’t blame him. We stay in different parts of the barracks for Cohort Five. But I know what Zon told me about Tine. And that’s plenty to play with.”
“...your approach disturbs me.”
“I’m not here to satisfy you. I’m here to get through this.”
“This isn’t a game,” Mnemosyne said as she flicked Saifah’s forehead. “If you mess up, you might do worse than ignoring the passage of the days.” She smirked. “Do you think your little trick with your song will help you again?” Saifah stopped in his tracks. “So careless… What will you do then, if you have to start over? Did you even pay attention to what Zon said since you claim to remember everything he did?”
“Zon didn’t give specifics,” Saifah hissed as he rubbed his forehead. “So even though I know what Zon said he did, I don’t know how he did it.” Saifah swatted at the titan of memory and Mnemosyne barely managed to avoid his hand. “But for all your naysaying and chastising, it’s not doing anything to Zon’s memory. So how much of what you told me is the truth and how much is a lie?”
Mnemosyne remained silent and that was enough for Saifah.
Meanwhile, Tine had happily run off, humming another Scrub song while Sarawat scowled and blushed before walking off. But even he had a particular jaunt to his step, as if he was incredibly pleased with himself. Only Tutor remained, mildly stunned and staring at the empty space the odd couple had left. Saifah casually wandered up and tapped him on the shoulder.
“So, still got those new recruits that need training?”
------
Saifah groaned as he slowly walked to the place Tine and Sarawat were supposed to meet.
After training the newest batch of probatio ( “You’re evil, Zon….” Ting said as she collapsed into a heap in the training ring. Tang fell next to her, and Phu was the only one bending over, hands on his knees gasping for breath. ), Saifah ran over to Frong’s flower shop and made a nuisance of himself until Thara came around for his afternoon batch of jasmine flowers ( “You should join our D&D game, Frong. I don’t understand why you’re resisting… Oh, is it because Thara joins us? He’s not playing Cleric. He’s playing Barbarian… Maybe you should give him something else to use that Rage ability on...” “GET OUT!” ).
Mnemosyne had been suspiciously quiet throughout it all. Not a single word about how Saifah’s methods had deviated if any from Zon’s original memories. Saifah paid her no mind anyway except to occasionally check if her glowing form was still hovering somewhere around his head. Exhaustion from the day’s events was finally sinking in and Saifah wondered if he was out of shape or if his boyfriend was simply far too energetic for his own good.
Still, Mnemosyne’s threat of memories paused and locked was enough to keep Saifah going to see the first day through to completion. Climbing up into a tree, Saifah rested on a sturdy branch and waited, softly plucking at guitar strings to pass the time. Soon enough, Sarawat appeared, guitar strapped to his back, a strange cross between anxiety and a scowl on his face. A few minutes later, a nervous Tine appeared, the only proof of which was the bruise bitten into his lip.
The pair were a bit too far for Saifah to hear clearly while talking, but Sarawat’s song was strong and clear. Saifah strummed along by ear, weaving his notes between Sarawat’s. Tine’s eyes seemed to sparkle and gleam in a way that Saifah had only seen with Pete or Yo, something that seemed more Aphrodite than Venus. But regardless, such a gaze hooked into Sarawat’s soul cleanly and deeply. Sarawat continued to play. Tine continued his soft gaze. Saifah sighed to himself and continued to enjoy the secret duet, counting Sarawat’s parting line to Tine as a victory.
“You don’t have to have me in your heart yet, but just keep your heart open for me.” Tine’s red face was apparently a sufficient answer as Sarawat let him run off.
“Well I’d say that’s a day well sorted,” Saifah said as he put his guitar back into his magic case, turning the whole thing back into his quiver. “Now I can actually eat something… ugh… What did Zon eat today anyway?” Saifah racked his brain. “He’s been going on and on about some noodle place King took Ram to, and apparently Kao said it was good when he dragged Phu there so…”
“...You really do listen to him, don’t you?”
Saifah tiredly turned to look at Mnemosyne, casually sitting with her legs crossed on his shoulder. “Of course I do,” he said as he scoffed before climbing back down the tree. “What kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn’t?”
“Interesting… very interesting…”
“Aren’t you a titan of memory?” Saifah slowly began his walk in the direction of the noodle restaurant in the forum. “Since when do you concern yourself with the sincerities of love?”
“Don’t be foolish, mortal.” Mnemosyne dusted off her incorporeal skirt. “Of all the kinds of memories that endure, memories of love and pain endure the longest. I would be a fool to not acknowledge that. And it has been a very long time since a mortal has dared to ask for my blessing out of love.”
“Were there many that did?” Saifah sighed as he sat down. A waiter ran over immediately and Saifah pointed to the nearest thing on the menu before continuing his conversation. “Didn’t most people come to you for visions of the future or past?”
“A few did. Though those I rarely blessed. But…” Mnemosyne slowly fluttered down to stand on the table, looking at the various condiments available to dress the noodle dishes. “The ones that truly impressed me were those who wanted to remember less painful times, not for power or glory, but to keep one last beautiful memory.”
“That’s surprisingly mortal of you.”
Mnemosyne scoffed. “I suppose my years of interacting with you lot have made me soft. I never was fond of Prometheus and his overbearing heart. Shame Jupiter did not punish him to have that clawed out every day.”
Saifah paused, noodles halfway to his lips. “Never mind, you’re still very much a titan.”
Mnemosyne waved her hand at him dismissively. “Eat your fill, mortal.” She snapped her fingers and a surprising stack of coins appeared out of thin air onto the table. “This once, it’s on me.” Mnemosine hovered back in front of Saifah’s face and Saifah nearly went cross-eyed to look at her. “I am interested to see how you will finish your three days now.”
------
Saifah was out like a light the minute his head hit the pillow, but was surprised to find himself waking up to Mnemosyne’s insistent tugging on his hair fully refreshed. After preparing himself for the day, Saifah ran into the forum to feel the ground rumbling under his feet and the sounds of bones rattling.
“Oh. Shit.” Saifah turned his head left and right until he caught King and Duen running towards the commotion. “Fuck! I’m late!” Saifah bolted, attempting to use his longer legs to get him to the scene of Bohn and Ram’s fight before King and Duen could get there. It was crucial that “Zon” resolve the fight between the sons of Neptune and Pluto before King and Duen got involved. Or at least, Zon had claimed he managed to resolve the fight before King and Duen got there. However, Zon had been especially vague on how he managed that.
Out of the four children of the Big Three at Camp Jupiter, Bohn and Ram had one of the most intense rivalries and disagreements that Camp Jupiter had seen for a long time. Saifah attributed it to the fact that at least all the Camp Half-Blood Big Three campers had boyfriends to work their extra energy out on. As far as Saifah was aware, neither Bohn or Ram had managed to make complete overtures to Duen (in Bohn’s case) or King (in Ram’s case) as the other was always interfering. On the other hand, Solo had only ever had eyes for Gui after Gui had greeted the newest probatio of Jupiter with a cup of warm milk a year ago. Phu would forever deny that the sunny Kao managed to worm his way into his steely heart, but Kao’s constant songs about the eldest son of Pluto would prove otherwise.
Gasping for breath after managing to get ahead of Duen and King, Saifah watched as Bohn raised a large wave from the lake of the Little Tibber and Ram continued to whistle, summoning an army of skeletal dogs.
“I hate when Big Three kids fight,” Saifah yelled over the howling and rattling of skeletal dogs and the roar of rushing water. “I hate it.” Saifah then reached for his quiver, turning it back into a guitar case.
“What are you doing?!” Mnemosyne yelled as Saifah pulled out his guitar. “I don’t think a camp song is going to help you now!”
“I saw this on a Chinese drama once!”
“WHAT?!”
Saifah held a chord and focused his energy into his guitar with intent before strumming in the direction of the impending crash of water and bone. A wave of sound and energy seemed to fire off from his guitar, colliding with the other two forces and dispersing them. Saifah cheered and pumped a fist in the air. Bohn and Ram turned their furious gazes on Saifah, who ignored them.
“FUCK YEAH! SOUND OF VANQUISHING! I knew watching that drama would come in handy one day.”
“Zon! Don’t interfere!” Bohn yelled as he pulled up another wave of water. “Gonna teach this graveyard punk to leave me alone!”
Ram said nothing but continued his low and menacing whistle, making his dogs reassemble themselves.
“Are you sure you want to do that?” Saifah absently strummed another chord on his guitar and the water and skeletons went still. “Duen and King are coming… And if I remember right, they were both reaaaaaaly mad you two are still fighting….”
“Wait! Don’t let them-”
At that very moment King and Duen ran onto the field. Bohn hastily put his hands up, making the wave crash back into the lake. Ram cut his whistle short, making all his skeletal dogs heel.
“Cool boy, are you two fighting again?!” King threw his arm over Ram’s shoulders and started to haul him away. “Come on, put your creepy dogs away and just trust me when I say Bohn isn’t going to hurt your friend.”
“King.”
“Yeah, yeah, come on. I’ll buy you a coffee and you can glare it aaaalllll out…”
Ram, in a rare display of difference, did not roll his eyes and instead kept his gaze firmly fixed on the Son of Ceres and allowed himself to be pulled away. Bohn was less fortunate.
“Bohn!” Duen reached out and managed to grab and twist Bohn’s ear. “Again?! How many times do I have to tell you-”
“He challenged me first! Ow! Hey! Come on! Let’s talk this out!”
“Oh, now you want to talk?”
“Duen! Please!”
Saifah sighed as Bohn’s protests faded into the distance. “Finally…” Saifah slumped to the ground. “Okay… I think… Short of a few other things… Zon didn’t really do anything else too crazy today.”
“Take a breather, Son of Apollo,” Mnemosyne said as she sat on Saifah’s head. “I suppose you’ve earned it this morning.”
Saifah didn’t argue and closed his eyes before they flew open. “Wait! Tonight Zon and I are supposed to…”
“Supposed to?”
“Er… Does this mean I’m going to meet myself?” Mnemosyne’s pause and lack of answer was enough. “This is… going to be interesting.”
------
Thursday night, the night of the second day, descended with only a small amount of Saifah induced chaos which included, but was not limited to: Thara catching Frong as he nearly fell off a ladder; this lead to Sarawat catching a loose flower from the arrangements Frong was trying to display and tucking it into Tine’s hair; Mek getting tackled by Boss after a casual foot in the right place to trip Boss in the first place; and lastly, Tutor catching Fighter parading around in a pair of very short basketball shorts. Fighter’s choice in shorts had not directly been Saifah’s doing, but more caused by his delivery of a package sent by Pete.
Saifah walked slowly to the place where he had met Zon that night. However, no matter how hard he strained his ears, he could not pick up the expected strains of his own guitar playing. Saifah frowned and peeked around the corner to find someone else he didn’t expect waiting.
“Zon? Zon!” Saifah rushed in and picked up the shorter boy and swung him around. “Is this really…”
“Saifah!” Saifah tried not to shiver after not hearing Zon say his name for what felt like nearly an entire week worth of memories. “Put me down!”
“But how?! I thought you-” Mnemosyne simply cleared her throat before flying off into a tree. “Thank you, Lady Mnemosyne,” Saifah said in her direction. Mnemosyne’s only response was to pretend to retch.
“Saifah? How are you…”
“It’s a long story.” Saifah pulled away to fully take in Zon’s face. It had become a little paler, a little more gaunt, but there was still a liveliness to his eyes. Zon, or at least the way he felt or saw himself, was still fighting. “Do you… Can you tell me who…”
Zon shook his head before resting it against Saifah’s chest. “I don’t… I can’t remember his name.” Zon closed his eyes and Saifah pulled him closer. “I’m dying, aren’t I? I… I feel cold…”
“I’m going to fix it,” Saifah said as he stroked the back of Zon’s head, comforting Zon and himself. “I’ll find out what poison he used on you and you’ll be fine.”
“Saifah… If you can’t…”
“No. I’m going to do it. I can do it..”
Zon fisted his hands in Saifah’s shirt. “If you can’t save me,” Zon said again firmly, “Don’t blame yourself.”
“Zon.”
“I chose to jump in the way. I chose it because…”
“I love you too, my best Zon,” Saifah said into Zon’s hair before kissing the top of his head. “I love you so much.”
Zon said nothing more and the two held each other in the quiet until Mnemosyne came back down from the tree and told Saifah it was time to leave.
------
After a restless night, Saifah bolted out of bed with a manic energy. Friday morning had arrived.
Hours before Zon would have met him, Saifah prowled the entire perimeter of the forum, looking for all possible positions an archer could hide to snipe shots. Not many could be found, least of all from the back of where he had been standing. Soon, Saifah could do nothing but wait for the proper moment to step out into the forum and attempt to see his would be assassin.
As Saifah stepped out, he had hoped for a repeat of the previous night, that Mnemosine would bless him once more with a moment with Zon, but it was not to be. A smiling image of himself was waiting for him instead. Saifah looked past the memory of himself as he walked with haste, but there was not even a hint of where the shot might come from.
A foot away from his own image, Saifah finally spotted it. A glimmer before the shot was released. Jumping, Saifah tackled himself, reached into the air, prayed, and grasped.
The burn of a wooden arrow shaft coming to a halt in his fist was an odd relief to Saifah as he tumbled to the ground. Stuffing the poisoned arrow into his quiver, Saifah ran in the direction of the fired shot, ignoring his own screams about an archer in the forum. But as Saifah ran, the memory started to slow and fade.
“No!” Saifah tried to run faster, but it was as if running through syrup. “Let me see him! Let me see who did this!”
“You are pushing the limits,” Mnemosyne said sadly. “I commend you, Saifah, for doing so much.”
“Please! Just one more moment,” Saifah begged. “Let me see his face! Zon saw it! You have that much power!” Mnemosyne sighed. The moment hung in the air. An image swam in front of Saifah’s face. Saifah’s eyes widened once he realized what he was looking at. “This is… He’s…”
“Good bye, Saifah, Son of Apollo.” Mnemosyne’s body grew until she was the size of a human and she lifted the mask off of Saifah’s face. “I can do no more for you.”
“Lady Mnemosyne…”
“Thank you for sharing with me the memory of your love. May you save him. And yourself.” Mnemosyne then flicked Saifah’s forehead with her finger. And with that, Saifah fell into darkness.
-----
“Saifah! Saifah!” Saifah awoke to Tine shaking his shoulder. “Saifah wake up!”
Saifah sat up and looked around. Zon was still as pale as ever, lying in his infirmary bed. Tanthai and Blue were also standing around Saifah’s spot on the floor. “What? How long was I-”
“You just… fainted the second you touched Zon. Tine started trying to wake you up immediately.” Blue said while blinking. “You were just out for a minute.”
“A… a minute?!” Saifah rubbed his eyes. “But I…” Saifah touched his face, the Mask of Mnemosyne was gone. “Damn it.”
“What happened? Why did you- Shit! Saifah! Your quiver is smoking!” Tanthai shouted as he moved to pull it off of his shoulder.
Saifah yelped before pulling out all the arrows from his quiver. Thankfully, the magic quiver itself had not been damaged, but all his remaining arrows but one had melted. Saifah eyed it with disdain and held it carefully.
“Call Thara in. Now. I’ve got the poison.”
Blue bolted into the hallway, shouting at the top of his lungs while Tine and Tanthai took a respectful step back. Saifah did not let go of the arrow until Thara came to whisk him away with it.
------
After several prayers and Thara’s fervent mixing of herbs and other tinctures, Saifah watched as Thara administered a concoction into Zon’s IV drip. Moments stretched like soft caramel candy until Zon’s breathing became deep and easy. Thara and Saifah both sighed with relief before Thara left Saifah to his vigil as he went to see more patients. Saifah took Zon’s hand and put his bracelet back around his wrist before kissing his knuckles.
“I’ve got you,” Saifah whispered against Zon’s hand. “You’re going to be fine.” Zon’s hand seemed to squeeze back in reply and Saifah was more than happy to admit tears of relief at the gesture.
When Saifah allowed himself to relax from his vigil, hours had passed. The door opened to reveal Thara again to do his regular vitals check.
“Thank you, Thara,” Saifah said as Thara scribbled on Zon’s chart.
“Thank you, father,” Thara muttered as he put Zon’s chart back. “Asclepius be praised.” Thara then put a hand on Saifah’s shoulder. “You’re both very lucky. You got the arrow and Zon kept fighting.” Thara then squeezed Saifah’s shoulder. “Let Zon rest. I need to tell you something outside.”
Saifah followed Thara and was confronted with the remains of the arrowhead in a vial. “Just who is trying to kill you, Saifah.”
Saifah pinched the bridge of his nose as the image of a face came to the forefront of his thoughts. “Thara…”
“There is no average person or demigod that would get their hands on something like this. And the gods themselves would simply smite you off the earth.”
“Thara, please.”
“This is Python’s poison, Saifah. Your father’s mortal enemy.” The rattle of the arrowhead took on a different tone as the great snake’s name was spoken, setting Saifah’s thoughts into place. “Saifah, who wants you dead? Who did you see in Zon’s memories?”
“You have to promise you won’t tell Tutor, the other Centurions, or the Praetors,” Saifah said quietly. “We don’t need to start another war.”
Thara’s eyes widened. “No, after so many years of peace? Someone from Camp Half-Blood?”
Saifah winced. “Not… quite. Last time we visited… Pete told me this camper had run away from camp. After…”
“After?”
“He… He attempted something with another camper, Techno. Type and Chiron were not pleased. Before they could discipline him, he ran away.”
“Techno isn’t a son of Apollo.”
“No.” Saifah closed his eyes. “Techno isn’t.”
“And you aren’t interested in Techno.”
“This person... is targeting specific people. Not people blocking his way to Techno.” Saifah frowned. “People in the way of Python.” Mercury’s words floated to the surface of Saifah’s mind. “Thara… Do you remember where Kao was sent on a quest a few days ago?”
“Kao? Why would someone go after Kao?” Thara frowned. “Kao isn’t particularly-”
“There are many children of Apollo, Thara.” Saifah pulled off his quiver and stared at the embossed leather and gold before tracing the bold sun in the center. “Some of us are more blessed than others.” Saifah pulled his quiver back on. “Python must want us out of the way and this person targeting me is his agent. Which means… Kao is next, at least.”
“Kao is next?” Tutor said as he turned the corner followed by Fighter. “What exactly are you talking about, Saifah?”
Secret revealed, Saifah forced himself to make the most formal posture he had ever done in his entire life before saluting Tutor. “Centurion Tutor, I request permission to pursue today’s attacker to prevent a larger disaster, the hunting of several children of Apollo.”
Noting the formality, Tutor also stood a bit straighter. “You know I can’t authorize that.”
“If you don’t try, I’m going anyway.”
“You’ll be called a deserter.”
“Then that means you’ll just have to argue harder for me, Tor.”
Tutor pulled Saifah down to stare him in the eyes. “You can’t go alone, even if I wanted to let you.”
“I won’t be alone. I’ll pick up Kao on my way,” Saifah said calmly. “And I’m calling for backup from Camp Half-Blood. I’ll need the Wild Doctors too.”
“The Wild Doctors? Chiron won’t-”
“He won’t have a choice, Tor.” Saifah’s expression softened to pleading. “Please Tutor, I need to do this. I think… I think we need to do this as children of Apollo.”
Fighter put a hand on Tutor’s shoulder. “It sounds like a quest to me.”
“It was not given as a prophecy,” Tutor growled as he turned on Fighter. “You know that.”
“It… kind of was.” Saifah rubbed the back of his neck. “Lord Mercury came to see me before I tried to help Zon. He warned me… that if I helped Zon, I would start a journey that must be finished. And I think that journey is to deal with this. And whoever else is behind him.”
“You could sell that to the Praetors, you know,” Fighter said with a slight nudge to Tutor’s side. “A request from a god is as valid as anything after the last war when Mars showed up and made Frank Zhang go on a quest.”
Tutor groaned and scrubbed at his face. “Just once. Just ONCE I’d like you all to not start something ridiculous.”
Saifah squeezed Tutor’s shoulder. “Thank you, Tor.”
Tutor waved him off. “Last I remember, Kao was deployed to Ohio for a request for assistance from a former legatus. Khai and Third should be heading out that way on another assistance run tomorrow morning. Catch a ride with them.” Saifah quickly saluted Tutor before running off. “And for gods sake pack some more arrows!”
Fighter put his arm over Tutor’s shoulder. “You did the right thing.”
Tutor huffed. “Don’t you start. I still need to punish you for public indecency.”
“Do you promise?”
Tutor said nothing but stomped off to find Thara to hear about Zon’s condition while Fighter laughed.
------
The next morning, Saifah stood by Zon’s bedside again, carding his fingers through Zon’s hair. Zon stirred a little, eyes barely cracking open, but apparently seeing enough to be able to smile at Saifah.
“I’ll be back soon,” Saifah said before kissing Zon’s forehead. “Rest up well.”
Saifah then tracked down Junior, Tanthai, Natee, and Zen.
“I’m pulling rank. Keep an eye on Zon and don’t let him overexert himself while I’m gone.” The four looked at each other and then back to Saifah. “I’m serious!”
“Sai, you know how hard it is to make Zon do anything he doesn’t want to do,” Junior said around the straw for his iced coffee. “Unless you want us to handcuff him to his infirmary bed.”
“Then do that.”
“He’d be even madder if we did do that,” Natee pointed out. “And he said Can’s been teaching him how to lockpick.”
Saifah huffed before checking the time. “Look, under no circumstances is he to come chasing after me while I’m on this mission, got it? That’s all I’m asking for.”
Zen looked at the stand off between Saifah and the three other boys. “We’ll do what we can, but we’re not making any promises it’ll be successful.”
“That’s all I need. Thara doesn’t think Zon’s getting out of bed for another week at least. And hopefully, this doesn’t last longer than that.” Saifah saluted his friends before running off to catch up with Third and Khai.
------
“Welcome aboard, Saifah,” Third said as he buckled himself into his seat. “Long time no see.”
“So, I thought you swore you’d never get into my plane again,” Khai said over the intercom as he began the procedure for take off from Sonoma County Airport.
Saifah stopped piling several vomit bags near him to reply, “Desperate times call for desperate measures, Khai.”
“You little shit. If it weren’t for legion rules-”
“Khai!”
The second Third’s shout came in over the headset, Khai’s expression immediately changed. “Welcome to KhaiThird Air! We hope you enjoy your flight! Now departing for Cleveland Hopkins International Airport! Please keep your seat trays in the upright position for takeoff. Thank you for choosing KhaiThird Air! Senatus Populusque Romanus!”
Saifah closed his eyes and took a deep breath to steel himself.
“I’m coming for you, Klengkla. You’re not getting what you want. Python isn’t either.”
23 notes · View notes
seasonsofeverlark · a year ago
Text
Curiosity Killed the Kat
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Author: @mellarkablegirl​
Prompt: Everlark going to a haunted house (or other haunted tour event, e.g., zombie paintball, haunted farm, etc) Everlark can be friends or together. One of them is scared, and the other is fearless. You choose which! The emergence of fluff and/or romance is a bonus! [submitted by @mandelion82​]
Rating: T
Author’s Note: This is part 1 of 3. The other two parts will be posted on my blog. Thank you!
__________
“Ugh! Peeta Mellark is the biggest thorn in my side,” she all but yelled into the emptiness of her apartment.
Katniss Everdeen, or as the gossip rags liked to call her, Miss Uptight Restaurant Heiress, was a perfectionist. She ran a tight ship. The three restaurants she owned on the upper east side of Panem were her babies, and if there was one thing she hated more than mistakes, it was a wrench in her carefully calculated plans. The head chef of one of her most celebrated outlets was just that, a giant wrench in her plans. Not that she could blame him really, but where did he get off with his jovial, always ready for a laugh, all-around chaotic personality? She still remembered the day she was forced (yes forced, there was no way she did it willingly) to hire the culinary genius, as the restaurant world called him.
She’d been having the week from hell. No scratch that. The whole month was doomed. She just couldn’t manage to keep up with all three of her restaurants. The fourth one had been in the pipeline for a while, waiting to be scrapped. Her mother had called up again, from whatever part of the world she was currently holidaying in with her latest husband, only to berate her on her lack of social life (read significant other).
And to top it all off her next-door neighbor just wouldn’t stop playing Metallica at the loudest possible decibel at ungodly hours.
So yes, she was a mess when her uncle Mitch walked into her office on that fateful Thursday morning. The first thing out of his mouth was,“ Sweetheart, you need a break and a drink, or six.” But his usual smirk was replaced with a look of concern. “I spent the weekend going over your plans for the new bistro, but I’ll be honest with you Kit, it makes the most sense to leave it untouched for now and revisit it later.” He’d called her Kit, and that’s how she knew just how serious this was. “However,” he said, “I do think I’ve found a solution for your other problem and have managed to set up a meeting with him too.”
“Him? What are you going on about Mitch? I have no other problems, it’s just been a bad week. And I hope to god you haven’t gone and set me up with that nephew of Effie’s!” she all but yelled at him.
He let out a belly laugh, a real one this time. “Oh no, I’d never do such a thing. I was talking about how you’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately. I think what you need is to delegate your work to more people, and I think I’ve found the perfect candidate to fit that role.” She raised her eyebrow for him to continue, not wanting to interrupt what he had to say. “Kit you can’t keep going around handling all aspects of all three restaurants. You already handle the finances, curating the menu, and the whole running of the places. And if I’m being honest with you the menu’s been looking dull for a bit.”
A brief flash of anger (or was that offense?), followed by hurt, spread across her face before she settled on a serenely calm façade. “So what is it that you’re suggesting Mitch?” she asked, fighting to keep her voice void of any emotion.
“Hire a new creative head. A head chef, if you may? Try and spice up the menu and add a little more life to this place. It’s starting to get a tad boring if I’m honest with you.”
“Hire?” she asked incredulously. Then she sighed. “Hm, Mitch, I don’t I have the finances to hire a big shot chef right now. We are struggling as it is.”
“Oh sweetheart, you just need to go see him once. I’m sure the financials will fall into place. He’s an all-around nice guy. I’m pretty sure he’ll be flexible for us.”
Great, nice guys were easy to handle, right? Wrong. Because, for as nice of a guy Peeta Mellark was, he pushed all of her last buttons.
—————–
Two hours later, she found herself standing in the mall district, searching and failing to find an appropriate meeting location anywhere on the entire street. The place was drowned in various fall and Halloween paraphernalia, although the weird mishmash seemed to bring a smile onto her face.
Katniss stuck out like a sore thumb standing in a blazer and dress pants with a few files under her arm. Why would anyone invite your prospective employer to the middle of a busy shopping area on Halloween?
Her internal musing (and admitted grumbling) was interrupted by a tap on her shoulder. She turned around to the most brilliant flash of white teeth, blue eyes, and floppy blonde curls. Who was this golden retriever?
“Peeta Mellark. Nice to meet you,” he said extending his arm to introduce himself.
Her eyes widened, and the look she saw on his face was a mix of extreme joy and mischief. She took his hand and shook it vigorously, avoiding making eye contact, because if she did, she was sure to burst out laughing. She took in his outfit, regarded his chef coat, and what she could only describe as a pair of bottoms from a Marvel-themed pajama set. Was this the man Haymitch thought would be the best creative head of her restaurants?
No thank you.
“So shall we?” he asked, motioning towards the mall entrance. Her face scrunched up in a look of confusion.
“You’ve invited me to a mall? For what could be a business meeting?” she asked.
“Oh, we’re not going to the mall. We’re going there,” and he pointed in the vague direction of the building attached to the mall. Her eyes almost bugged out of her head.
“The Horror House?” she coughed and sputtered. “I’m sorry, Mr. Mellark. I think that’s highly inappropriate for the meeting. This is not a date; this is essentially an interview. ”
“Oh, Miss Everdeen, I think the Horror House is the perfect place to showcase my skills. You could always eat the food I cook at one of the restaurants. I’m sure you’ve gone through my resume before you came here,” he said, ending it with an infuriating smirk.
Where did this man get off? She admitted he was beautiful in a boy-next-door kind of way. He seemed very very confident about himself (a tad too much), and really what did he think of himself and her? Was this some kind of elaborate joke Mitch was trying to pull on her? He kept saying she needed to lighten up.
He piped up as if reading her thoughts came second nature to Peeta Mellark. “I’m sure the respected Katniss Everdeen isn’t scared of haunted houses?” But she was.
Was he egging her on? Because now he’d gone too far to insinuate that she was afraid, and if there was one thing Katniss was, it was a hot-headed, stubborn woman.
She put on her bravest expression and turned to Peeta. “Alright, Mr. Mellark, I’m curious to see how exactly you turn this experience into a prospective employment opportunity for yourself, but let’s get some things straight. I’m not your friend. Do not egg me on about being scared, and if you aren’t able to convince me in eighteen minutes on just how much I need you, I will walk myself to the car, and that will be the end of this conversation. I hope we’re clear?”
“Crystal,” he said with a shit-eating grin on his face.
Oh, the man was already getting on her nerves. How was she supposed to work with him? Yet, to be honest, she had read his resume and was impressed enough to hire him on the spot. Hell, Mitch had threatened to use his veto as the financier behind her projects to hire him if she didn’t herself.
But curiosity killed the Kat.
And as absolutely unprofessional and infuriating as Peeta Mellark was, his chaotic attitude seemed to intrigue her. She was curious to see how he’d manage to turn a haunted house trip into a successful employment opportunity. What she did not expect, however, was having a full-blown panic attack five minutes into the ordeal.
She’d always hated graveyards and spooky places (haunted mansions and abandoned buildings), but her true trigger was collapsing walls. Ever since she’d lost her Pa at the age of thirteen from a building collapse, she was extremely paranoid about being stuck in similar situations. Although, the first five minutes of the ride were comparatively normal, the usual jump scares caused her to latch onto Peeta’s hand.
It was at the entrance to the second room when a simulation caused the walls to start collapsing on them. Some part of her brain told her it was mechanized. Still, fear gripped her like a vise and wouldn’t let go.
As her senses shut down, she had the distinct feeling of being lifted off the ground. Was it an actual building collapse? Would she die in there? Maybe she’d see Pa now.
Her therapy conditioned brain made her automatically start reciting her mantra. “I’m Katniss Everdeen. I’m 26 years old. I run three restaurants: Iris, Luna, and Hestia on the Upper east side. I love the feeling of freshly fallen snow and marshmallows in hot chocolate. My favorite color is green. My dog Willow is an adorable puppy. I am going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay. ”
She came to under the harsh fluorescent lights of the lobby. Comfortable earth engulfed her, and she felt someone rubbing her back as they muttered assurances in her ear. She lifted her head to look into the eyes of her tether, immediately getting lost in the bright pools of blue. The color was as clear as the sea off the Maldivian coast. He had tiny flecks of gold and green in them too.
She’d never seen a prettier pair of eyes before.
“Well thank you, Miss Everdeen,” came the deep reverberations of his voice, which she felt through her body. Then she realized she was cradled in his lap.
She leaped up like she’d been burned, a blush spreading across her face. The feel of his arm around her did things to her that she’d never expected. “I’m sorry, Mr. Mellark, I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
“Peeta.”
She blinked. “Excuse me?”
“I believe if we’re going to be working closely together over the next few years, it only seems right that we get comfortable addressing each other by our first names.”
“Well, in that case, Peeta,” she said, testing how it felt to say his name out loud. “It’s Katniss from today forward.” His smile could have lit up the entire dreary dark Horror House with its brightness. “I’ll see you on Monday at Hestia. We start team meetings at eleven in the morning,” she said in a way of farewell, before turning to walk towards her car parked on the curb.
As she threw a backward glance over her shoulder, she saw him standing where she left him, smiling even brighter than before if that was possible.
He was infuriating.
Infuriatingly adorable, and she was going to have a hard time maintaining a strictly professional relationship with him. Never had anyone been able to break down her walls quicker, and she was curious to see just how well they worked together. After all, curiosity killed the Kat, but she had a good feeling about this.
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argylemnwrites · a year ago
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I Fold
Pairing: Drake Walker x MC (Riley Liu)
Book: The Royal Romance (Book 1, chapter 12)
Word Count: ~2400
Rating: PG-13 (language, mild sensuality)
Summary: Spending time with her always feels like a gamble
Author’s Note: Written for the @choicesmonthlychallenge for August 21 - temptation. With TRH3 coming out today, I found myself feeling a little bummed that I had no desire to play this series I once loved, so I decided to throw this together to revisit a time when I adored this series and these characters.
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Drake stepped into the lounge almost tentatively, scanning the room quickly from the doorway and letting out a sigh when he confirmed he was alone. He didn’t want to think about the fact that there was a lot of disappointment mixed in with his relief at that realization.
He walked over to the bar, rooting through the bottles of liquor until he found the Bushmills he was looking for. He had no reason to suspect that she would be joining him tonight. She wouldn’t even know about this lounge at Applewood. But then again, she’d stumbled upon him in that lounge back at the palace without any warning, and she hadn’t exactly known where to find him then, at least at first. It had been pure coincidence.
The truth he didn’t want to admit was that he’d rather enjoyed the handful of nights they’d spent drinking whiskey and playing poker. Before they’d made the trip to Applewood, it had kind of settled into a late night tradition, with her waiting for him in the lounge after the first couple of times. But now, things were apparently back to normal, which Drake knew in his soul was for the best. Since his birthday yesterday, he was having thoughts he definitely shouldn’t be. Or rather, more thoughts he shouldn’t be. But part of him still just wanted to spend a little more time with her.
He took his glass of whiskey and headed for the couches, pulling out his phone and trying to not feel let down that it looked like she wasn’t joining him. After all, he’d never had problems drinking alone before she dropped into his life. So, he pulled up scores from the football matches today and was ready to watch some highlights when he heard the door creak open.
His eyes flew to the door in an instant. There she was, her dark hair swinging as she glanced around the room, a smile appearing when she met his gaze.
“There you are. I’ve been hunting for where you might be hiding,” she said, stepping fully into the lounge, closing the door behind her. She’d changed into a pair of tight jeans and a loose, purplish sort of top. She looked good, so much more comfortable than he’d seen her all day. “After not only being forced to bake today, but forced to bake with Olivia, I definitely need a drink.”
Drake moved to stand up and pour her some whiskey, but she shook her head. “I got it. Why don’t you find some cards?” And just like that, she was striding over to the bar like she owned the place. His eyes drifted down, watching the way her hips and ass rolled in those jeans before he snapped out of it, jerking his head to the side and standing up, running his hands through his hair as he made his way to the small cupboard off to the side. He needed to stop. He couldn’t let himself get carried away here.
“What’s on the drink menu tonight?” he heard her call out as he dug around, trying to find a deck of cards and some poker chips.
“Bushmills, but if you want something else, Liu-”
“Nah, that’s fine with me.” He heard the splash of liquid into a glass as he continued his search. He eventually found an old deck of cards, but there did not appear to be any chips.
“How’s the hunt going?” she asked, her voice much closer. She must be at the coffee table.
“I don’t think there are any poker chips here, Liu.” He reached his arm in as deep as he could, feeling around the back of the cupboard, but he was still coming up empty.
“Hmmm. Do you have any cash on you? We could use that.”
He pivoted to face her, finding her sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table, her arms wrapped around her knees. “Are you literally trying to take my money? Because of all your potential marks at the manor, I’m probably the dumbest choice.”
She threw her head back and laughed at that, deep and rich, her black hair hanging like a surreal curtain behind her. “Maybe I just figured I could start small, gradually work my way through the court!” He chuckled lightly at that before she continued, “But seriously, I don’t know. I was just trying to come up with something we could use. So unless you have other ideas…” She trailed off with a little shrug, her dark eyes wide as they locked on his. The silence that followed was tense and expectant. 
Drake swallowed roughly. He could think of one option besides poker chips as he let his eyes drift across her body, picturing each piece of clothing she was wearing piled on the table in front of her. Those damn jeans that fit her like a second skin. That shirt that was loose and slipping off her shoulder just a bit. The bra he knew was blue based on the strap he could see on that shoulder. Her panties, probably not a matching blue, but still undoubtedly perfect, regardless of color.
He tried to reign in his overactive imagination, dragging his eyes back to her face, shocked to see a coy little smirk on her face. It almost felt like she was flirting, like she wanted him to suggest strip poker or something, but he knew he had to be just imagining things, so he shook his head to get that way too appealing fantasy out of his mind, twisting back to the cupboard and looking at their actual options.
“How about Scrabble tiles?”
There was a slight pause before she answered, “That could work.”
So he tugged the old box of Scrabble from the shelf and joined her on the floor, resting his back against the couch behind him as he set the game on the coffee table and handed her the deck of cards, ignoring how her fingers brushed against his as he did so. As she shuffled the deck, he sorted out the tiles, dividing them into vowels and consonants, then sliding half of each pile over to her. 
“Alright, vowels are one, consonants are five, ante is one? That work for you, Liu?”
She nodded. “Five card draw?” They’d mixed it up a couple of times, but they seemed to both prefer the standard.
“Sounds good.”
And so she dealt the cards. He watched her hands as she briskly alternated placing cards in front of each of them. He noticed a bit of glitter in her pink nail polish. He wasn’t sure if she knew that wasn’t exactly appropriate for court, or if she did and it was a tiny bit of rebellion. He liked to think it was the latter.
“So, how long do Apple Court cup-bearer duties last?” Riley asked as she picked up her cards, scanning them over without changing her expression. “Should you have tasted my whiskey before I had any?”
Drake lifted his eyes from the five cards he was holding to look at her. Her eyes were bright and playful, an eyebrow cocked and the corner of her lips quirked up.
“Ha. Ha,” he deadpanned, looking back at his cards, trying to decide whether he should play it safe and keep his pair of tens, or trade in one of them and to go for a flush as he tossed in an “I” as his initial bet. “Nice to see the power of being fake queen is already going to your head. Good practice for when you’re actually queen.”
She let out a little hum at that, but didn’t say anything else when she matched him with an “O.” It surprised Drake, as normally she gave as good as she got. But for whatever reason, his little teasing comment didn’t draw a response from her. He wondered if he’d struck a nerve. That hadn’t been his goal, but maybe she was worried he really saw her as just as stuck up and irritating as the rest of them. He didn’t know how that could be, because who else at court would sit on the floor and drink whiskey straight up with him? But this place tended to have a way of screwing with minds. He knew that better than anyone probably.
“Liu, I was just teasing. I know you aren’t-”
“It’s not that,” she interrupted, shaking her head lightly as she took the three cards he offered her and passed him three new ones from the deck. “It’s just… Do you really think I’ll be queen?”
He felt a gnawing in the pit of his stomach. Of course she was just worried that Liam wasn’t as interested as she was. She didn’t care how he saw her at all. He glanced at his new cards, disappointed to find nothing useful. The pair of tens was going to have to be good enough. He tossed an “E” tile into the pot before he answered, “Liu, I’m not gonna act like a teenager and gossip about my best friend’s feelings. You are smart enough to see that-”
“That’s not what I meant. I… sometimes… I don’t know. I just don’t feel like I’m cut out to be queen, you know?”
His eyes jumped to her face, but she was staring at her hand, aggressively avoiding eye contact with him as she tossed in a “K” tile, raising his bet.
“Liu, where is this coming from?” He kept staring at her, trying to determine what she wanted here. Did she want a confidence boost and pep talk? Or did she want his honest assessment? Because while he was sure she could be an amazing queen, a breath of fresh air, bringing common sense and real world experiences to the role, he also was scared of what being queen might do to her. To be queen was to play peacemaker, to embody decorum and diplomacy at all times. And she was too fierce, too intense, too free to ever be truly happy locked away in that gilded cage.
She gave a little shrug after a moment, finally looking up to meet his eyes. “I just don’t have anything in common with any of the other suitors. I’m nothing like them at all, and it just makes me wonder if I’m right for this. They’ve trained all their lives for this shit, and if I am so different from them, then I don’t see how I am remotely the right choice.”
“Your differences from them are why you are the right choice, Liu. You aren’t sheltered or out of touch or completely stuck up your own ass.”
“I just don’t know. It feels so weird and the closer the Coronation gets, I just…” she trailed off, biting her lip and staring at him with those damn eyes. She looked lost and unsure, and he wasn’t used to that.
“Did Olivia or Madeleine say something today?” It was the only thing he could think that would have made her suddenly unsettled.
Riley shook her head aggressively. “God no! And I know better than to let anything those bitches say get to me. I’ve just been thinking about it more lately, and I just can’t picture myself sitting there with a crown on my head and a smile plastered on my face.”
Drake shrugged. She wasn’t exactly wrong, and he wasn’t going to lie to her. She would have to put on a happy face publicly a lot when she married Liam.
When he didn’t say anything, she kept going. “Sometimes it all just feels so surreal, like I’m an actress in some cheap romance movie. I don’t know… I guess the only times I feel like I’m still a real human are…” 
Her eyes dropped to the surface of the coffee table as she trailed off again. He followed her gaze, surprised to see her hand mere millimeters from his, his little finger nearly touching her thumb. It happened almost in slow motion, as he watched her thumb scoot over, brushing over the back of his hand deliberately.
Drake looked up and was shocked to find her staring at him, her gaze so intense it almost felt like it could cut through him. He didn’t know what she was looking for, what she was searching for in him, but he couldn’t bring himself to break the moment, to look away. So he stared right back. The urge to slide their hands together, the temptation to lean over and kiss her was so strong, he almost felt himself leaning towards her.
But he knew he couldn’t. It would be a massive mistake. She was just getting worn down by the stresses of the social season, and she was looking for comfort where she could find it. He knew it had to be true. Hell, the only reason she kept coming back for these midnight poker games was probably because she just needed a moment away from all the pressure and he kind of just represented the antithesis of that whole world. It had nothing to actually do with him beyond his outsider status.
She was here for Liam. He should be the one to kiss away her worries and fears, to hold her close, to reassure her. Drake was just supposed to keep an eye on her, not steal those intimate moments. So he closed his eyes, trying to break the spell it felt like she had him under with her stare as he cleared his throat, sliding his hand back. “I fold.”
He opened his eyes to find her still staring at him, an almost skeptical look in her eyes. He felt his cheeks getting slightly warm with her continued attention, so he shoved the handful of Scrabble tiles over to her, trying to move this evening back in a safer direction. “Here, just take your damn winnings so I can deal the next hand.”
She didn’t say anything as she tossed her hand onto the discard pile and handed him the deck. Out of curiosity, he flipped over those five cards. The five of clubs, the three and nine of diamonds, and the six and Jack of spades. She had nothing, had been bluffing the entire time.
“What can I say? Sometimes you just need to raise the stakes.” He glanced up at her statement and saw her watching him. “What did you have?”
“It doesn’t matter, Liu.” And with that, he shuffled his hand into the deck, dealing the cards out without saying another word. From where he was sitting, the stakes were already high enough.
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Permatag: @choicesficwriterscreations  @walkerswhiskeygirl   @riley--walker  @bebepac @ravenpuff02 @oofchoices @octobereighth @drakewalker04 @kimmiedoo5  @mfackenthal  @thequeenofcronuts  
The Royal Romance/The Royal Heir: @iaminlovewithtrr @ao719 @mskaneko @katedrakeohd @jovialyouthmusic @marshmallowsandfire @axwalker @kingliam2019 @sirbeepsalot @texaskitten30 @princessleac1 @ladyangel70 @dcbbw @yaushie
Drake x MC: @no-one-u-know @drakeandcamilleofvaltoria  @iplaydrake @gibbles82 @drakewalkerisreal @notoriouscs  @drakesensworld @drake-colt-lover-99​
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relatablegenzwriter · a year ago
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heya~ bit weird but do you have any advice for outlining? I always outline but half way through actually writing something I realise I've not thought of something (OTL) Thanks in advance!!
Advice on Outlining
I honestly never thought I’d see the day someone asked me for advice on outlining. When I was about ten and aiming to be the world’s youngest published novelist (lmao look how that turned out), everyone who knew me as a writer also knew that I would never, ever outline before I wrote something. I argued that it sucked all the fun out of writing. I couldn’t let my characters do whatever they wanted if I had to stick to a script. I would have to spend more time planning that I could’ve spent on actually writing my stories. I’d see all the gaps and places where my story was lacking in its plot. I’m not selling this outlining thing well, am I?
As I’ve written more, I’ve also warmed up to the idea of outlining. I’ll again preface this by saying I have never finished a novel, despite having started countless, so I can’t speak to how outlining has helped me throughout a project. But I do have a general sense of what works and what doesn’t, at least for me, so I’ll do what I can.
After some careful thought, here’s my advice on how to outline.
Don’t outline.
At least, not right away. I’ve found that I need to know my story, its characters, its ~vibes~, etc. before I can really make an accurate outline. A common concern with outlines is that you’ll make people do things out of character, or that the story won’t want to go in the direction you tell it to. Test out the waters a little bit first. Write that one scene that’s been in your head–you know which one I’m talking about–and figure out the style, the main characters, the mood, everything you really need to get the feel of your story. I like to write a bunch of beginnings, which can be helpful even if you don’t know where to start your story. Some people like to do character questionnaires so they know who they’re dealing with. Others will have that one scene that they think of when they think of their story, and will write that first to figure out where to go from there. There’s a lot of ways to warm up to the story, so play with a bunch of them and figure out what works for you. The point I’m trying to get across here is that you can’t successfully outline if you don’t know your story well enough. Fortunately, that’s an easy problem to fix.
What’s next?
That depends. If you look up “outlining methods”, you’ll find hundreds of lists, questionnaires, and weird diagrams that look like they came straight out of high school English class. There is no magical way to outline. With that being said, I’ll describe the way that I outline my work, and then add some general tips at the end.
       2. The basics.
Trying to write out every little detail from the beginning will likely overwhelm you and create writer’s block before you’ve even started writing.
don't do that.
Instead, get your basics all in one place: who are your characters? Where is it set? What is the premise? Once you do that, make note of the events that you know will happen. “Lily dies”, “Sam and Evan kiss”, “Aiyana confronts her family”, etc. I sometimes like to fill this out on paper or on a whiteboard like a timeline. Otherwise, making a bulleted list in a digital document also works. The one thing I’d advise is not to make this kind of list on paper, because as you start to insert more events between others, it’ll start to get really crowded.
      3. Fill in the rest!
Start to generate scenes and events that go between the ones you already have. Some things to consider:
what propels the story from point A to point B?
what needs to happen to further your characters’ arcs? (a follow up: do you know how you want your characters to grow throughout this story? what needs to happen in order for them to change?)
what could POSSIBLY happen?
is there a character who’s not doing enough yet who you want to give more attention to? something that’s not highlighted much in your list that you want to focus on more?
And essentially, you’ve made an outline! I know, so few steps. But this is actually going to take a while. This method may not work for you, and you’ll have to find other ones (that I’m not going into detail about because I don’t use them or know much about them). You’ll have to take some time to get to know your story. Step three WILL give you writer’s block, and as always you’ll be able to break through it, but don’t expect this process to be easy. But it is worth it!
And finally…
      4. Change it.
Once you sit down to write your story, chances are you’ll run into a plothole, or something you want to do differently. You asked about this in your question, and all I can say is yes! You’re right! For my oldest WIP, which has been around for almost six years, I can recall four specific outline revisions where I wrote the whole outline again from scratch. (This particular WIP has given me SERIOUS trouble, so take my experience with a grain of salt.) What I can say is that every time you revise your outline, it will get stronger, you’ll know your story better, and you’ll have more opportunity to be creative and revisit your story. I don’t understand why it’s considered the norm to outline once and then move on with a project, when it should be perfectly acceptable to pause your writing, say “that doesn’t look right”, and outline the story again. Your story, especially in the early stages, is fluid! You’ll actually be surprised by how long it remains that way, too. Point is, it’s okay for things to come up in the writing that don’t make sense with the outline, as long as you’re willing to revisit your original plans and reassess. I haven’t seen this approach discussed much if at all, so there’s a very good chance I could simply be a very disorganized writer who hasn’t made much progress on her big projects. But there could also be some legitimacy to this word jumble, so take what you will from it.
      5. Other outlining exercises…
Try to map out individual character arcs as part of your outlining. That way, you can make sure that their development lines up with the events in the story and the development of other characters.
If you’re a visual person, writing plot points on sticky notes and arranging them on a wall is very useful and also makes you feel like This Man. 
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Free write (no erasing!), by hand, a summary of your plot–no detailed prose or dialogue, just a straightforward description of what happens. If questions come up, write them into the outline and keep writing. Once you finish you can go back and highlight all the questions you wrote.
Speaking of questions: when one comes up, really dive into it. What I like to do is write the question on top of a piece of paper and make a bulleted list of all the possible answers. Dive deeper into the ones you like, maybe combine a few. You could also do one of those web diagram things (those ones that look like clouds) if you’re the diagram type.
As your outline evolves, reassess why each scene is there. If it’s only purpose is “I like writing it”, maybe it’s time to write it for you and cut it out of the story. (Side note: this still applies to That Scene. You know the one.)
Call someone and explain the plot to them. They don’t necessarily need to be a writer, just someone who’s willing to listen to you relay the plot of a whole story to them. They can give input if they like, but the purpose of this is for you to have to explain your plot to someone else. It’ll be more obvious to you when something doesn’t make sense or belong in the story if you’re explaining it to another person. Especially note any clarifying questions or moments of confusion that they have. If you don’t have a person willing to do this, record yourself talking about it to your phone/camera/tablet/computer.
Don’t be afraid of the dramatic. When you’re first coming up with an outline, you’re exploring ALL possibilities. Even if your answer to “How does Aoife end up at Shauna’s house?” ends up being “She took the bus” instead of “The mailman, who is actually her estranged uncle, kidnapped her from her home and hid her in Shauna’s basement because Shauna and her uncle were having an affair”. You get to be creative, have fun, and even if you take the more realistic route, you’re reaffirming that that’s the direction you want to take.
Best of luck to you!
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chooseyouovereveryone · 9 months ago
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Brittana Analysis Part 2: Musical Choices (Smaller Parts in Songs)
Continuing on the Brittana Music Analysis. Part 1 focuses on all of their main songs, but thought it would be good to also mention some of the smaller ones too, their parts in group numbers etc.
So here goes:
Do You Wanna Touch and Touch a Touch a Touch a Touch Me refers to their sexual relationship, back in the days when Santana would only label it as so, and no feelings were allowed.
My Cup, the whole damn song. No explanation needed.
Light Up The World is one of the most meaningful smaller parts for me, because the lyrics are just perfect for them. Santana singing "you and me keep on dancing in the dark, it's been tearing me apart, never knowing what we are etc." is absolutely the Brittana relationship at that point in the series from her perspective. Then we have Brittany singing all about "throw your doubts away", while Artie takes the other line, showing the love triangle dynamic between the three of them. Since this is an original song, I head canon that Santana wrote this part of the song.
Run The World (Girls) is mainly a Brittany solo in line with her presidential campaign, but it's interesting to me that they have Santana sing the "you'll do anything for me" line. Since this song is about Brittany, it's likely Santana is meaning that about her, in that she's acknowledging Brittany will do anything for her. A nice touch because I already touched on in the previous post how Songbird shows Santana implying she'd give Brittany the world. It seems they are both mutual in that aspect.
Rumour Has It/Someone Like You sang in the aftermath of Santana finding out she's been outed, with Brittany and Santana both sharing such a powerful moment together in this song. The transition from Santana singing about finding a girl to her spinning around to look at this girl she's found is such a pivotal moment for them and really well done imo. You can clearly see Santana's fear during this performance, Brittany's too (she too is about to be consequentially outed but I feel her fear is more for Santana than for her own sake), but that moment they share is almost like Santana draws the strength from Brittany. The world is about to find out her secret, but in the same breath her "dreams came true" (as it says in the lyrics) and she's happy with Brittany, so maybe (just maybe) it will all be okay in the end. And guess what Santana? It was.
Constant Craving is mainly about Santana's journey to acceptance, but notice how Santana looks at Brittany when she sings "even through the darkest phase, be it thick or thin, always someone marches brave, here beneath my skin", as if Brittany's own bravery during those hard times gave Santana strength and courage. It's also plausible to say that Brittany was a "constant craving" for Santana.
The First Time implies that Santana felt deeper feelings from the first time she hooked up with Brittany, even though she couldn't accept that at the time. This is later backed up when she admits in 4x04 that she had feelings in Sophomore Year so right back in S1 when they potentially started sleeping together (if not before). While it's obvious what Santana is reflecting on since she sings about "the first time ever I lay with you", it's uncertain whether the flashback scene is from the first time they met or their first hook up, but regardless we see that instant attraction and spark between them from both the scene and the lyrics.
Take My Breath Away and Love You Like A Love Song; the prom songs. Take My Breath Away is pretty self explanatory because the whole song is a love song, and Santana makes sure to sing part of this to Brittany and they share a moment together. Love You Like A Love Song is even more poignant because it's a Santana solo, so it's likely she picked the song. She picked a song all about her girlfriend, but she made sure to pick a current song. That way, in true private Santana fashion, she could pass it off as it just being a crowd pleasing song that everyone loves at the moment. But she does make sure to turn to Brittany and sing to her "constantly, girl you play through my mind like a symphony". Hello lyric change from boy to girl as well, which Brittana always do in their songs with/about each other.
So Emotional while being a duet that symbolises the Pezberry friendship, both Santana and Rachel are singing to their respective partners. They both run over to them for the "I get so emotional baby" part, and although they turn to point at each other for the "every time I think of you" bit, I feel this was just for performance purposes. It's more realistic for Santana to be singing that about Britt, and likewise Rachel with Finn. Santana also points at Brittany for the "I keep your photograph beside my bed" and although we don't know if Santana actually does have a photo of Britt beside her bed, we know that Brittany definitely has one of Santana.
You Get What You Give is naturally an emotional number for them since Santana is having to leave Brittany behind when she should have been graduating with her. Santana runs over to Brittany for the "don't let go" part which could relate to their relationship and not letting go of that despite the obstacles and distance they are ultimately about to face. The "one dance left" part is also significant.
The Scientist has two meanings for me when it comes to Santana's lines when she's singing "Nobody said it was easy etc." in that nobody said that long distance relationships were easy, as well as nobody said that breaking up with Brittany was the easiest choice either. The mature choice, but not the easy one.
There Are Worse Things I Could Do is something Santana merely has to sing in character as Rizzo, but it's clear that she is thinking about Brittany when she sings "but to cry in front of you, that's the worst thing I could do". This off the back of Brittany telling Santana to think of something really emotional to get in character aka. them not being together anymore. It references how Santana could be the one putting on a tough front (Brittany being the one to be more expressive with her feelings in telling Santana how much she misses her and how she wants them to get back together), but deep down her feelings are evident. She clearly misses and loves Brittany, she's just trying her hardest not to show it, because once she gives in that to vulnerability she knows there's no way back.
Toxic the unholy trinity version was rehashed since it was a past performance of theirs, but contextually I do think about the fact they picked that particular number since it was a group song rather than them redoing a performance that just the three of them did. Since Santana is most probably the one who picks the song with it being her idea, it's telling to me that she picks to do a sexually charged routine with the lyrics "I'm addicted to you" etc. It's almost like she wanted to do this sort of routine with Brittany, but uses the guise of Quinn to make it more subtle. As it's also a song about falling for someone dangerously and "it's getting late to give you up", it foreshadows the temptation Santana encounters later when Brittany kisses her and lays everything on the line, even though Santana has a girlfriend. We later see she chooses Brittany, so this could link to the song.
Problem, well the "every time you touch me, and say you love me" line that they sing to each other is pretty self explanatory, but Brittany also sings "cause even though I shouldn't want it, I gotta have it, I want you" which could relate back to their earlier days when Brittany was the one chasing Santana, but could also have a double meaning of Brittany referring to Santana being the one who used to tell her she shouldn't want it, and almost teasing her with that. The playful manner in which they dance to this line, and the wink from Brittany, could be them showing us how far they've come in that the fear of "I shouldn't want it" was very much real for them both at one point, and now no longer is.
Home I think is really poignant for them because that whole performance takes them back to the beginning in their relationship in terms of Santana being homecoming royalty with Puck, and having to revisit all of that. I talk more about it here and how all their S6 scenes paralleled earlier scenes. In this song they sing "man oh man you're my best friend", which links to that whole "going back to the start thing" in showing how it all began, since best friends is how they started out. It's also how they've always remained throughout their relationship and even during their break up, and something they've always said to each other first and foremost, and I believe at times they said this when they weren't brave enough to say I love you (Santana in 2x22) or when they were restricted in saying it (4x13 when they clearly still loved each other but Brittany was with Sam).
You Learn/You've Got A Friend is actually one of my fav Glee performances, and I think the Brittana moment in this is super sweet and underrated. I always love how as soon as Santana walks in, Brittany gets straight up to join her and stand by her side. She can't get to her fast enough. Lyrically, their lines fit this because Santana sings "close your eyes and think of me, and soon I will be there" on her own, and it's almost as if Brittany was sitting and thinking about her since they are apart, but as she thought of her, Santana appeared. They then begin singing together about brightening up even the darkest nights for each other, something that I'm sure they've both done a lot of. The way they sing that line when they are reunited (not that I think they were apart for very long haha) is almost as if being around each other brightens up everything. The whole song is obviously about living, loving and learning, something they've definitely had experience of all 3 of, and they make reference to that in their gestures throughout the song.
At Last is one that I'm going to talk about since they picked it as their wedding song. It's also one that doesn't need much analysis. It was a very fitting song for them, because even though they got married young, their relationship was still very "at last", this is where we are. It took them so long to get there. Santana's denial, the love triangle with Artie, the grey area of not labelling things even though they were already acting like they were dating, the pain of Santana's outing, the long-distance, the break up, Sam, MIT, Dani, Santana being scared to get back with Brittany at first. But it's kinda like what Brittany says in their vows, she would have suffered it all just for the tiny chance of marrying Santana, and undoubtedly Santana would "1000 times yes" do the same. "At last the lonely days were gone", and they got their happy ending. I also really like the lyric "And life is like a song" because it could relate back to Songbird "and the songbirds are singing like they know the score". This on makes my heart happy, it was the perfect choice for them ❤️
Hey Ya! & last but not least I couldn't not talk about their other wedding song choice, Hey Ya! This is a pretty typical song to play at weddings, gets everyone up dancing, it's feel good etc. That's probably the reason that Brittany and Santana picked it (also fitting with what I said about them keeping private mushy moments to themselves and picking a more up beat first dance song that everyone can join in for the actual wedding). But the writers obviously picked it as a nod to Heather and Naya with it being their final episode, and to humour the Heya fandom.
& that's a wrap :) Might have missed some, but off the top of my head this is what I've got!
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tothemeadow · 11 months ago
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Commissioned by @hinokami-s​
Kamado Tanjiro x OC
- When the days seem gloomy and Hayami’s obviously stuck in a rut, Tanjiro decides it’s on him to make her feel better, but with secret little notes... - 
warnings: none
words: 3.5k
-
And when the world treats you way too fairly, well it’s a shame that I’m a dream…
It hurts. It hurts so, so much. No matter how far she tries to escape it, the visions keep coming back, haunt her during the dragging hours of the night. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when Hayami firsts starts to see the darkening bags underneath her eyes, the way her fair skin loses its gentle glow. It’s only a nightmare, she constantly tells herself. That may be so, but this certain nightmare shouldn’t be revisiting her so often, just waiting for her to drift asleep.
Even now, her memories of the dreadful dream run through her head, make her days dimmer than what they should be. How long is this going to last? Hayami desperately needs her sleep, but if this continues, well… She doesn’t know what to do.
On the other side of the door, there’s a gentle knock. “Yami-chan? Are you alright?” Nezuko’s sweet, twinkling voice sounds. “You’ve been in the bathroom for a while, now…”
Oh, yeah. Hayami supposes Nezuko is right; she has been in the bathroom for some time now, absentmindedly staring into the mirror, at her horrified eyes and dark circles. If anything, she looks more like a shell of her usual self.
“Give me a moment!” she calls back. No, she doesn’t want Nezuko to worry. Frankly, she doesn’t want anyone to worry, but the Kamado family has a certain way of creeping into people’s hearts and rooting themselves onto their souls. Quickly splashing some water in her face, Hayami releases a long, shaky breath. Pushing the loose strands of hair behind her ears, she takes one last glance at her reflection before finally turning away and opening the door.
As expected, Nezuko’s large eyes glitter with concern, her eyebrows furrowed. She looks too much like Tanjiro whenever she does it, and it never fails to pull at Hayami’s heartstrings. “Yami-chan, you know I don’t want to pressure you or anything…” she starts, voice small. Tapping her fingers together, she glances around, makes sure that the two of them are truly alone. “But what’s bothering you?”
Ah, there it is – the inevitable question. Now, Hayami’s always been one to turn away her own problems, rather choosing to focus on the other people around her, but when the tables are turned… Well, it leaves her feeling icky, to say the least.
Still, Hayami forces a smile, both for her own sake and for Nezuko’s. “What do you mean?”
Nezuko sighs, much like she was expecting this exact response. “You look… tired. Dead, even. And, well, your hair is down, so I thought…” Trailing off, Nezuko shifts her weight from foot to foot, clearly uncomfortable and unsure of how to approach the subject. Like Tanjiro, her senses are keen; she’s able to pick up on the slightest of troubles, but she usually stays to herself, not wanting to bring discomfort to others.
It’s one of the things Hayami admires about her, but at the same time, she wishes Nezuko would drop it. She has a point, though; instead of her usual ponytail, Hayami’s long hair hangs loose, brushes against the entirety of her back. At times like these – at times of unease­ – her hair is the closest thing she has to a shield. Granted, only few people know of this so-called “habit,” so she can’t necessarily blame Nezuko for asking the reason why.
“Don’t worry about it, Nezuko,” Hayami tells her, albeit softly. “I just haven’t been sleeping well. It’s no big deal.”
Nezuko opens her mouth, seemingly ready to complain, but then she’s abruptly cut off by excited squeals. Shigeru and Rokuta come barreling down the hallway, cowboy hats on their heads and horse figurines in their hands. A chorus of neechan! greets her; both boys hop up and down in their spots, beaming grins on their faces.
“Neechan, play outlaws with us!” Shigeru exclaims.
“Yeah! Yeah! Outlaws!” Rokuta echoes, his voice a bit more chipper than Shigeru’s.
“Now where are those sneaky no-good-doers?” a voice drawls. Tanjiro comes into the hallway, then, a cowboy hat of his own sitting on his head. His face instantly flushes upon seeing Hayami. “O-oh… Yami-chan, how are you feeling? I was afraid you fell ill or something!”
“Uh-oh, the cop’s here!” Shigeru yelps. Both he and Rokuta scramble to hide behind Hayami, giggles spilling from their lips.
Hayami can’t help but laugh, the unease settling over her heart dissipating for once. Nezuko’s expression softens at that, but the look in her eyes still yells concern. Hayami ignores it, opting to forget her woes, even if it’s just for a little bit.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” she says to the two boys behind her. “I’ll keep him distracted while you two make your getaway! Go on, hurry!”
And, just as fast as they appeared, the boys take off again, proclaiming their gratitude as they scurry down the hall. With an amused huff, Tanjiro walks over to the girls, pushing his hat further away from his face in the process.
“Thanks for that,” Tanjiro says, a smile spreading easily on his features. “I swear, it’s like everyone else in this family wants you to be the eldest sibling rather than me sometimes.” His eyes flitter over Hayami’s loose hair for a moment; the smile on his face flattens into a straight line, the happy gleam in his eyes melting away into something sadder. “Yami-chan…”
“Listen,” Hayami interrupts, putting her hand up, “is it okay if I can crash here for the night? It’s just… Things are a little trying at home right now. I could really use the company.”
Cocking his head, Tanjiro seems bewildered by the sudden request, but the surprise quickly dwindles away. Sharing a glance with Nezuko, he nods his head, that familiar, soft expression coming back to his face. “Of course you can. You know you’re welcome here anytime, right?”
At that, Hayami’s heart flutters, both from gratefulness and well, something else. “Thank you, Tanjiro.”
-
Now, Tanjiro may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he does have heart. His empathetic nature is one he was born with, one that developed into something strong once his younger siblings graced his life. And, considering that he and Hayami are extremely close, it’s only natural for him to pick up on her continuous crestfallen behavior. He doesn’t want to push it, though, because he knows that she’s just like him, always willing to put others first and ignore her own problems for the sake of others.
He still wants to support her, no matter what. And so, he does the only thing he think that might actually help…
-
“A note?”
Both of Hayami’s friends – Shinobu and Mitsuri – say it simultaneously, although in different tones. Mitsuri’s in more whimsical, romantic; Shinobu’s is more or less skeptical. Hayami nods at them, feeling just as confused as they are. It was mysteriously left in her locker this morning, and it had no name on it whatsoever. No initial, no hint, nothing. In fact, if it didn’t have her name on it, Hayami would have thought it belonged to someone else.
Granted, finding something so… special… waiting for her sent her heart flying into the clouds. The note itself was made of pink construction paper, neatly folded and even tied with a white ribbon. The sheer amount of effort put into the outside of the note only left impatient wonders for what could possibly be written on the inside. Hayami has already reread it, like, three times, but that’s not the point.
Handing it over to her friends, she watches as Mitsuri eagerly pulls off the ribbon; she’s practically shaking with excitement at this point. Knowing Mitsuri as much as she does, Hayami is more than aware of her romantic side. She’s not surprised as Misturi releases a delighted squeal, a lovely blush blooming on her face.
“Calm down,” Shinobu tells her, but a shit-eating grin is on her own face. “Let me read it.” Taking it from Mitsuri, she holds in before her, clearing her throat before she begins.
|Hayami,
I know things haven’t been the best lately. I can tell you’re hurting, but I just want you to remember something important. You’re important to so many people (me included) and you’re truly incredible. It pains me to see you without that beautiful smile of yours, but I’m not sure how to help. You always keep your pain hidden, and I want nothing more than to take it away. I want to see you smile again.
Sunny days are coming, I promise.
<3<3<3<3 xoxoxo|
“Oh my gosh!” Misturi gushes. “Look! There’s even little doodles on the paper!”
“Is that… supposed to be a cat?” Shinobu asks, cocking her head and squinting her eyes. “I don’t wear glasses, but I might need my eyes checked out after looking at that.”
“Shinobu!” Hayami squeaks. “Don’t say that!”
“Yami-chan, you have a secret admirer!” Misturi continues. Clutching her hands to her chest, her eyes glaze over with a joyful, love-stricken glow. “Think about it! Somebody is just waiting out there, wanting to confess their love to you! This is great!”
“Okay, but don’t you remember Valentine’s Day?” Shinobu interjects, a neat eyebrow raising on her forehead. “She got – what? 23 different people confess to her?”
At that, Hayami scratches her cheek in embarrassment. While it is true that she’s had so many people confess to her throughout the years, something about this note strikes her as different. For once, it doesn’t outright say that the anonymous sender holds any romantic feelings for her, but the choice of words leaves much food for thought. At most, this person is only wanting what’s best for her – pure, unadulterated happiness. It’s sweet, nonetheless.
Mitsuri pouts. “But this is different! This is secretive! Clearly whoever sent it doesn’t want to be outed for their feelings just yet. They’re giving chase! I say we try and figure out who it is!”
“Isn’t that a bit… irrational?” Hayami says. “There’s so many people who go to this school-“
“I agree with Mitsuri,” Shinobu cuts in. Hayami does not like the mischievous expression playing on her face. “We can single out the person who wrote this. Look at the handwriting, for example. Whoever left it obviously took their time writing it – it’s neat, but their natural handwriting still shines through. It’s messy.”
Both Hayami and Mitsuri gawk at the other. “You got that just by looking at it?” Mitsuri exclaims. “That’s so cool!”
“Hang on. Aren’t you two taking this too seriously? I doubt it’ll lead to anything more…”
Shinobu rolls her eyes. “Oh, to be young and naïve. It’s only because you’re super popular and have people practically drooling at your feet to have a chance with you. If we can find out who sent it, it shouldn’t be a problem. Like you said, it probably won’t lead to anything more.”
“Except that it will!” Mitsuri says with a giggle.
Hayami doesn’t know why her friends are so adamant about something so trivial – silly, even – but she supposes they have a point. Though, in the back of her mind, she’s almost positive that it’s some random admirer, just like the others. However, there’s another part of her that’s saying the exact opposite.
Either way, her friends have set their minds to discovering the so-called “culprit” or whatever their selected codename is. If one thing’s for sure, it’s that the hunt is on.
-
By the end of the school week, there’s still no obvious suspect.
Shinobu and Mitsuri are still hellbent on figuring out who’s leaving the sickeningly sweet notes; they’ve been popping up every day, much to Hayami’s secret pleasure. Something about them makes her heart soar, the overwhelming sense of joy and love flooding her very being. The feeling can only be described as beautiful.
Even now, she stares down at the folded piece of pink paper, the darling white ribbon wrapped neatly into a bow. Heart beating furiously against her ribcage, she gently pulls at the end, loosening the ribbon and opening the note.
Like usual, the various doodles decorating the edges catch her attention first. Pictures of cherry blossoms, mochi, crude cats… They’re all so delightful, and Hayami cherishes each and every single one of them. Little stickers join in alongside them: fluffy little animals, Sanrio characters, cute things like that. Whoever’s been leaving these notes obviously knows what Hayami likes, that much is clear. The attention to detail makes the note so much more special; worrying her bottom lip, she flicks her gaze over the neat-yet-messy handwriting, absorbing each and every word carefully.
|Hayami,
I’ve noticed you’ve been wearing your hair up again! Things are looking up, right? You always had this habit of wearing your hair down when something’s bothering you… Not that I mind (I think your hair is really pretty!) but it’s nice to know that your old self is coming back. I’d like to think these letters are at least bringing a smile to your face 😊 You’ve always been special to me, you know that? I wouldn’t know what to do if you weren’t my friend. We should have frozen yogurt at my house sometime this weekend! I think I have some strawberry froyo in the freezer… You like strawberry, right? I can always pick up another flavor if you don’t!
<3<3<3<3 xoxoxo|
That’s just… so cute!
Holding the note close to her chest, Hayami suppresses a squeal. How could somebody be so sweet? Pulling it away, she rereads it over and over, the smile on her face growing to such a point that it hurts her cheeks.
Now that she’s really looking at it, it says that she and the anonymous writer are friends. Plus, they mentioned frozen yogurt, and not many people know that’s one of her favorite treats! Does this mean that this mysterious person is going to give themselves up? If they were going to follow through with their plans and invite her over for froyo, then they’d have to, right? It only makes sense.
As much as she doesn’t really want to admit it, her curiosity is getting the best of her. Maybe – just maybe­ – if she follows in Shinobu’s and Mitsuri’s footsteps and plays detective herself, she can find out who’s been leaving the notes! It shouldn’t be that hard…
Right?
-
And so, at the end of that very school day, Hayami sets her little “plan” into motion. Well, it’s not really a “plan,” but it’s pretty close. Instead of going on a whole shebang of deciphering handwriting and dusting her locker for fingerprints (and yes, Mitsuri did think of that idea), she’s choosing to sit and wait. Call it intuition or simply a gut feeling, but the person whoever was responsible for the notes was bound to show up again. And, if they were going to show up and invite Hayami to their house, this is the time to do so.
As the last stragglers hanging around in the hallway finally take their exit from the building, Hayami slings her backpack her shoulder. A mix of anticipation and excitement boils within her blood, makes her nerves frantic and tingly. She isn’t quite sure how she should she go about this; after a moment or so of silent thought, she decides to hide around the corner and wait for this “knight in shining armor.”
Time passes – seconds, minutes, hours, Hayami doesn’t know. All of it feels like days to her. Before long, she’s mindlessly scrolling through her phone, debating whether if she should ditch the plan or not. With a sigh, she slips her phone away, drawing herself to a stand. Her knees ache from crouching so long; taking a moment, she winces at the slight pain, but then she immediately clamps her mouth shut at the sound of footsteps drawing near.
Slapping a hand over her lips, Hayami peers around the corner, her long ponytail swinging behind her. Wait, wait – are her eyes deceiving her? Tanjiro? What’s he doing here?
And if that wasn’t enough, Tanjiro glances around, seemingly checking out for any bystanders. Hayami ducks away just in time, her breath going still in her lungs. She watches on as Tanjiro shucks his backpack off his shoulders and brings it around his front; digging around inside one of the front pockets, he pulls out a folded-up piece of pink paper, a white ribbon wrapped neatly around it. Quickly, he walks up to Hayami’s locker, pops it open, and then gently places the note inside.
It was Tanjiro the whole time…?
The revelation sends Hayami’s heart wild; forget about the clouds, the clear blue sky. Her heart is flying through outer space, becoming one with the millions of stars shining through the darkness. Her best friend, this sweet, sweet boy… Now that she knows, it doesn’t seem surprising. Actually, she should’ve figured that it was Tanjiro the entire time, considering how his personality is.
“Tanjiro,” Hayami calls out, stepping away from her hiding place.
Upon hearing his name, Tanjiro flinches. Whirling around, he drops his backpack, his jaw dropping once he sees who it is. “Y-yami-chan!” he stammers, his face immediately heating up. “What are you doing here?”
“I should be asking you the same thing,” Hayami says, a delicate smile coming to her pretty face. “Tanjiro… Have you been the ones leaving the notes behind?”
If possible, Tanjiro’s blush turns even darker. Rubbing the back of his neck with a hand, he looks away, a sheepish smile spreading across his lips. “I… I can’t lie, and there’s no point if you saw me…” Clearing his throat, he dares to look at Hayami. “…It was me. It’s just… You’ve been so bummed lately, you know? And I wanted to do something to help you out – gah!”
Hayami suddenly slams into him, then, her arms snaking around him as she buries her face in his shoulder. Although she’s taller than Tanjiro, their bodies fit well together, almost like two long-lost puzzle pieces. He’s warm, delightfully so, and he smells like the bread his family’s shop makes.
“Thank you, Tanjiro,” Hayami mutters. “Really. Those notes you left… I love them. They mean a lot to me.” She squeezes him harder. “Thank you so much.”
Tanjiro releases a pent-up sigh. “Of course,” he says, his arms wrapping themselves around Hayami’s form. “You know that I’ll always be there for you, right? No matter what it is, thick or thin… I’m here for you.” He pulls away, then, just far enough that the two are looking face-to-face. “It hurt to see you so sad like that.” His face crinkles with concern. “I didn’t want you to be sad anymore.”
Oh, lord, is this boy an angel or what? Saying such sweet things like that…
“Tanjiro…”
Looking at each other like that, eyes glistening, cheeks rosy, Hayami doesn’t know who moves first. Maybe it’s the both of them, drawn to each other like magnets or something easily as cliché - it doesn’t matter, though. Tanjiro’s lips are ridiculously soft as they slide against Hayami’s; it’s a dream of hers that she’s never dared to speak of, one that she thought of frequently. But to finally be able to live it, to make it a reality…
Her mind goes completely blank as her fingers slink into Tanjiro’s hair. He’s just so soft, so tender, so dreamy. Here’s literal perfection standing before her, kissing her with a gentle passion. After a moment or so, Tanjiro pulls away; eyes fluttering open, Hayami looks to him, to his pleasant smile and mirthful eyes.
“That was nice,” she hums.
Tanjiro’s earrings clank as he bobs his head. “It was perfect,” he chirps. Pressing his forehead to hers, his eyes fall shut. “You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to do that,” he confesses, his voice just barely above a whisper.
Something irresistible and warm caresses Hayami’s chest, whisks her away to a world of fairy tales and happy endings. She’s only heard of such feelings in movies and in writing, but to experience it for herself – well, it’s a little off-putting, if she’s being honest, but it’s so wonderful.
“Same here,” she replies. “What… What do we do now?”
Leaning back once more, Tanjiro opens his eyes, a hopeful gleam to them. “I guess… If you want… We can be together? You know, be more than friends?”
At that, Hayami can’t help but release a giggle. “Is the famous Kamado Tanjiro nervous? You’re one of the most confident people I know, and this is what gets you?”
“Hey, don’t be like that! I’m not experienced with this sort of thing…”
“I know, I know. I’m just teasing you, Tanji. I’d love to be more than friends.”
“Wait – seriously? For real? I-I mean… Of course! That’d be great! Yami-chan, I’m so happy!”
Again, that cheek-hurting smile comes back to Hayami’s lips. “I’m happy too, Tanjiro. I’m happy too.”
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youngboy-oldmind · a year ago
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ALBUM REVIEW: THE BLACK ALBUM
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“And this was the stress I lived with/ 'Til I decided to try this rap shit for a livin', I pray I'm forgiven/ For every bad decision I made, every sister I played/ ‘Cause I'm still paranoid to this day/ And it's nobody's fault, I made the decisions I made/ This is the life I chose, or rather, the life that chose me/ If you can't respect that, your whole perspective is wack/ Maybe you'll love me when I fade to black”
After the masterpieces of The Dynasty and The Blueprint & The Blueprint 2, Jay-Z comes through with ANOTHER masterpiece that’s borderline a greatest hits album within itself. With a variety of producers, flows, tones, and topics, Jay-Z displays legendary, iconic versatility. This 55 minute walk through territory of hip hop heaven is one fo the best illustrations of hip hop expertise to ever impact the industry.
In honor of the 17th anniversary of this album’s release date (November 14th, 2003), I decided to revisit The Black Album, one of my favorite hip hop/rap projects. This is among one of the three albums where I have every song saved to my playlist, the other two being Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Chance’s Coloring Book. Like I said earlier, this project is practically a greatest hits record. The history behind why it has that feeling is actually quite interesting.
This project was initially planned as Jay-Z’s retirement project, hence “fading to black”. So, Jay-Z formed an all star team of 12 producers to fuel The Black Album, which explains the variety sounds, including the trumpet-ty, soulful instrumental of “Encore” produced by Kanye West, the hard rock sound in “99 Problems” produced by Rick Rubin, and the traditional hip hop melodic sound of “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” produced by Timbaland. Jay-Z utilizes these sounds expertly, creating a project that differentiates yet mushes together perfectly.
There’s no understating Jay-Z’s lyrical ability. He wouldn’t be considered one of the best to ever do it if his pen game was average. Here, he brings some of his best storytelling, flexing, and reflection. Back to back tracks "Lucifer” and “Allure” talk about his drive for revenge, admittance of his internal evil, and wish for his peers who’ve passed to be accepted into heaven and forgiven for any evil in their heart because it was Lucifer’s fault. “Allure” discusses his experience with drug dealing in high school. These tracks transition back to back so well, when I first heard it I didn’t realize the song switched. While they’re made by completely different producers and have different instrumentals, the transition created perfect cohesiveness between the two tracks. “Moment of Clarity” has Jay-Z reflecting on his career and success, twisting his past albums into a clever chorus over a beat produced by Eminem. It sounds like an instrumental straight out of The Eminem Show, which considering that’s Eminem’s best album, is definitely a good aspect to have in a project of this magnitude. And of course, Jay-Z flexes a little throughout this journey, my personal favorite being “Encore”.
I have 0 complaints about this record. Every facet of this album was carefully constructed and combined into a Hall of Fame jewel. If Jay-Z left the rap game with this album and went onto production and business, I’d be a happy fan. However, Kingdom Come, 4:44, and Blueprint 3 are stellar, and the idea of those being wiped from existence is definitely a downside to Jay-Z retiring in ‘03. Overall, the expertise of this project cannot be overstated.
To quote Jay-Z, what more can I say?
Top 3 Tracks:
1) December 4th
2) 99 Problems
3) Allure
Overall Grade: Hall Of Fame
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notquitecanon · a year ago
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hello! i hope you’re doing well and staying safe!! i was wondering if you could do a imagine/fic where y/n is also in the bau and gets hurt on the job, and spencer is super worried, protective and sweet when they finally find her? thank you so much!! i adore your work and honestly can’t wait to read loads more!! 🥺👉🏻👈🏻🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰
This is way longer than I anticipated. Sorry I got a little carried away.
TW: uh, blood, guns, basically if you can’t watch criminal minds, don’t read this??
_____
Everything hurt as you started to come to, confused and out of it. Slowly, you remembered what happened, raising a shaky hand to find warm, sticky blood on your temple where you had been hit. It was hard to keep your eyes open, even the dim lighting of the basement was too much for your throbbing head. Nevertheless, you pried them open and looked around for anything you could use against your attacker- who, at this point, was undoubtedly the unsub. 
“I knew filling in for JJ while she was on maternity leave might be a little more dangerous than teaching at the FBI academy, but I didn’t expect to get hit in the head just for showing my badge-  I know I retired from the field early, but I used to get a lot farther before someone tried to hit me.”  You thought, wincing as you tried to sit up- everything from the neck down was hurting, “What did he push me down the stairs too?” 
Finally, you were able to push your self so you sat against the wall- which you tried to ignore the dark red smeared and splattered stains on- as you heard the unsub stomping around upstairs. If you strained you could barely hear him talking to himself, definitely delusional, those are the most dangerous types. Delusional or not, he knew you were FBI (and judging by the sun flitting in through the one, tiny window you’d only been out a couple hours) so it wouldn’t be long before people came looking for you. 
Peeling off the blazer you had worn that day, you took a deep breath. You just had to stay alive until they found you.
_______
Meanwhile at the local police station:
Spencer tiredly popped his neck before taking a sip of his coffee (the station hadn’t had Tea and he needed the caffeine), relishing the short mental break before he went back to the board. Morgan was with Lewis going over the latest autopsy results while Rossi interviewed a couple of parents in one of the station’s waiting areas- so the conference room they had taken over was unusually quiet. Not that the genius minded. Those meticulous eyes raked over the map where he’d originally designed the geographic profile, but they’d exhausted every possibility in the area. He glanced over his shoulder at the fresh map where he had been trying to come up with another one, but something didn’t feel right. He knew the original geographic profile was right, they just had to be missing something. 
In his peripheral, he saw Hotch slip into the room with a folder in his hand- like Reid, his mind was stuck on something too- a missing person's case. The only person in the whole town who fit their profile went missing five years ago at fifteen. They’d already interviewed the man’s parents, who just explained that he was a troubled individual and slipped away in the night. That didn’t sit well with Hotch, so he sent you back to their house to ask some follow-up questions since they hadn’t been answering their phone- he just forgot to tell Spencer. 
Spencer hummed in acknowledgment of his arrival, and Hotch gave him a nod, not even looking up. The doctor tapped a finger on the map of the suburban town they were in, sighing “I feel like we’re missing the one piece of information we need to solve this case.”
“Isn’t that how it always goes, though?” Rossi teased lightly as he sauntered in, the three agents could hear the latest victim’s mother sobbing as she left the precinct. They all grimaced but carried on. 
“Yes, but I agree. We’re definitely missing something.” Hotch agreed as Morgan and Lewis rushed into the conference room. 
“You’ll never guess what we just found.” Lewis announced as she pulled two evidance bags out of her coat pocket, tossing one to Hotch who shared with Rossi and one to Spencer. The clear bags both contained a stained scrap of paper, but the writing was clear. 
“I’m Still Here.” Reid read aloud, throwing Morgan a questioning look. 
“These were hidden in the last two victims throats, the ME is reexamining the other victims as we speak.” Morgan clarified, “We only found this because a different ME examined the lastest body.”
Hotch frowned, remember the lackluster medical examiner they first encountered. As the team threw around ideas about this new find, Spencer looked around the room realizing a voice was missing. 
“Hey, has anyone seen (Y/N)? I haven’t seen her since she left to revisit the dumpsites.” He asked, not paying attention to Morgan’s teasing. (You and Spencer had been dating for months before you got asked to temporarily join the team, and the team had only found out about it recently. Hotch agreed to let you stay, since your work with them was only temporary and JJ would be back in two weeks anyway.)  
Hotch glanced at him, furrowing his eyebrows, “After she did that, I asked her to follow up with the Greys since she was already on that side of town.”
Spencer turned his head to gaze out of the large window at the setting sun, Hotch seemed to follow his line of thought, “That was hours ago, has anyone heard from her?” 
The air in the room turned tense as everyone drew up blank, everyone in the room could see the lines of worry and stress tension rapidly appearing in the youngest team member as he left the room. Minutes later, he came back looking even worse, “Guys, her phone is going straight to ‘caller unavailable’”
Hotch pressed a button on the conference rooms phone, near immediately Spencer’s claims were confirmed with a monotonous, “I’m sorry the number you're attempting to reach is unavailable please try again at a later date.” 
Morgan was quick to do something similar, switching to speaker as the line connected this time to a bright, cheery voice as Spencer began nervously picking at his fingernails, foot-tapping as she greeted them, “Hello, crime fighters, what can I do for you!” 
“Baby girl, we need a location on (Y/N)’s cell phone.” Morgan was quick to cut to the chase, negating their usual banter. Even over the phone, Spencer could feel the hacker’s mood change only confirmed by the immediate clicking of keys followed by muttering. 
“Oh, ok, oh no, that’s never good.” She whispered as she worked, “Oh! oh...”
“What is it?” Spencer pressed immediately, almost tripping over a chair leg as if getting closer to the phone would give him answers faster. Rossi tried to comfort him with a reassuring hand on his shoulder, but Reid didn’t even notice it. 
“That last transmitted location was 5 hours ago.” She informed them,  “Address is on your phones.” 
Spencer did the mental math in a fraction of a second, five hours ago was around noon. You’d been missing since noon and he’d just found out? A flash of frustration went through the doctor before melting into an even greater sense of worry- a lot could happen in five hours. 
His genius brain was working so fast in a downward spiral of all the terrible possibilities that could happen that he almost didn’t hear Hotch announce, “That’s Mason Grey’s parent’s house, she was there to ask some follow-up questions.”
“The kid that went missing?” Rossi asked as the missing piece clicked in Spencer’s brain. 
“I’m still here! What if Mason Grey didn’t go missing, but his parents just hid him. He was showing early symptoms of mental problems, and we’ve seen it before.” Spencer almost shouted. Garcia was still on the line, and announced, “And, the house is in the middle of the kill zone” 
“Neither one of the Grey’s showed up to their jobs today or yesterday. That’s not a good sign is it.” 
“That kind of isolation could drive someone crazy, especially if they were already mentally ill,” Lewis added. Spencer had already made up his mind, and every minute that they weren’t on their way to you was slowly driving him crazy.
Hotch only thought about it for another minute, “Vests on, we’re leaving in five minutes.”
Spencer was in the car in two.
__________
You could barely see the sun setting through the tiny basement window, but it didn’t bode well as it was your only source of light. Your attempts to explore hadn’t been very fruitful, as once you finally managed to stand up you were made painfully aware that your knee was dislocated. Nevertheless, with a huff you resigned yourself to limp around. 
Fruitful or not, you made some discoveries. First, you found the remained peices of your destroyed phone- considering it was in four large pieces you didn’t even attempt to turn it on. Next, you discovered the tiny window was sealed shut so you couldn’t even attempt an escape. Lastly, you found a locked room in corner of the room with an all too familiar rotting smell seeping from under the door. That must be the Grey’s you decided solemnly. The door itself was old and rickety-splintering in some places, even with bad leg you figured you could probably get it open. I could probably use my shoulder and ram it down, bodies or not, there might be a window in there that isn’t sealed. 
“Get away from there!” 
A shout startled you, and instinctively you ripped your hand off the doorknob you were jiggling. You didn’t have to turn around to know he had a gun, you heard the safety click off. Holding your hands up, you were quiet. With these types of unsubs, it was best to let him call the shots. 
“T-turn around.” He demanded so you did, slowly. Greeted with the face you’d only briefly seen earlier before he’d hit you over the head with a bottle. The same face from the missing posters Hotch had shown you. This had to be Mason Grey, the missing teenager from five years ago- he’d be something like 20 years old now. He was using both hands to point a gun-your gun- at you, hands shaking as he glared at you. 
Softly speaking, you rose your eyebrows, “Are you Mason?”
He didn’t answer, using the gun to motion you to kneel down. You were already at a disadvantage, and you didn’t like the added weakness of being on the ground. 
“You’re FBI.” It was a statement not a question, but you nodded anyway. 
“Yes, I am, and my team knows I’m here. If they get here and you’re pointing a gun at me, I promise you, it won’t end well for you.” You informed him, voice stern but not malicious. It was a fact, not a threat. 
“What if you’re dead when you get here?” That wasn’t a threat either, a genuine question. Somehow, that was scarier.
“Well, since your parents are behind that door and they’ll connect you to at least five victims? It still won’t end well for you.” You calmly informed him as he moved one of his hands to nibble on his dirty fingernails. His forehead was sweating, eyes darting around, and hair greasy. He was scared.
“You were never missing were you?” You asked quietly, voice soft and sympathetic. His head shook.
“Did your parents make you stay down here?” 
This time he nodded, lip wobbling as he took a sharp, deep breath, “I was different and they didn’t want people to know, so they made me stay down here. If I tried to leave, they’d lock me in there. Once they figured out I was leaving at night to go see my girlfriend, they tried to lock me up again. So I locked them in there, to see how bad it was.”
His girlfriend? Mason Grey’s real girlfriend died shortly after he went missing, maybe he saw all his victims as her? But you couldn’t worry about that, towards the end of his explanation his voice turned angry, erratic. 
“If the FBI comes here. They’ll lock me up too. You’re gonna lock me up! I DON’T WANT TO BE LOCKED UP AGAIN.” He was yelling, inching closer to you and jabbing the gun towards you. He was distracted, so he didn’t hear the sirens approaching. But you did. 
I just have to hold on a little longer. 
“Mason, I don’t want to lock you up. If you put the gun down, I can help you. I’ll tell my friends what happened to you and that you cooperated and didn’t hurt me-” You tried promising him, but you were cut off by the sound of squealing breaks in front of the house. Your eyes flicked to the tiny window, it was dusk which allowed you to see red and blue flashing lights. 
“Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” He bellowed, for a moment he clawed both hands into his short greasy hair. Nervously, you strained to hear stomping feet above you. Then you heard the basement door open, and at the top of the stairs, you could see those unmistakeable converse paired with Morgan shouting behind him. 
“Mason Grey, FBI.”
Spencer was here. You thought, sighing in relief, but it didn’t last long. You could see their feet, but not them so they definitely couldn’t see you- couldn’t see the gun. A moment too late, you saw Mason erratically wave the gun towards them, towards Spence. 
“NO!” You shrieked, jumping up and grabbing his arm as you tackled him. The noise and pain came at the exact moment you hit the ground with him, almost immediately rolling off of him and grasping at the warm, wet, extremely painful wound on your stomach as your eyes screwed shut. 
“(Y/N)!” You heard distantly as you tried to bring yourself back to reality, “We need an ambulance!”
You cracked your eyes open to Spencer crouched over you, eyes filled with worry as you brushed the hair off your forehead, behind him Morgan was shoving Mason up the basement stairs, probably rougher than he had to. 
Breathing heavily, one of your hands pawed at the source of pain but Spencer instead took it in his, “You’re gonna be ok, you’re going to be just fine.”
You barely nodded, trying to slow your breathing as the genius grabbed the blazer you had discarded earlier. Balling it up, he pressed against the wound to stop the bleeding. You cried out in pain at the sudden pressure reflexively squeezing his hand, Spencer winced, “I know, I know, I’m so sorry, (Y/N).” 
Everything was hazy after that, you honestly didn’t remember much, just flashes of his face, the EMT’s, him kissing your forehead begging you to stay awake, until finally you were allowed to slip off into a dreamless sleep.
_________
Spencer was sitting in the waiting room, hands still bloody as they clasped tightly. To the untrained eye, it would look like he was praying, but really he was mentally recounting everything he could have done different. I could of asked where she was earlier, I could have snuck behind him instead of letting Morgan announce us, I could of gone with her to the dumpsites so I would have been with her when Hotch asked her to go to the Grey’s home. I could of asked her not to take the job with the BAU. Derek was sitting across from him, watching him carefully and sympathetically. He was the one who had to physically hold him back from following the doctors into the surgery area, besides a whispered apology the younger agent hadn’t said anything to him since the doors closed. 
Spencer had ridden in the ambulance with you, while Derek and Hotch took an SUV behind. Rossi and Tara stuck around the Grey house to finish up the case and were still there. 
Derek watched as Spencer’s knee bounced faster than he thought was possible, the kid’s fingernails were nubs from being bitten, and Spencer had bitten his lip so much that it had started to bleed. The older agent wanted to comfort him, but didn’t know how. “Kid-”
He started, but was quickly cut off by Hotch striding back into the waiting room- he had left earlier to demand information, “She’s out of surgery. The doctor said that even though it hit an artery, the bullet missed all her organs. She’s going to be fine.” 
Derek had never seen Spencer look so relieved, he practically melted back into his chair before bowing his head. Hotch continued, “They’re getting her settled into a room, but I asked them to come get you when she’s allowed, visitors.”
Spencer just nodded allowing his eyes to close as Hotch turned to Morgan, “I’ll call Lewis and Rossi if you’ll tell Garcia.”
Morgan chuckled before agreeing, but all Spencer could think about was that you were going to be ok. 
______
Two hours later, Spencer was sitting beside your bed while you dozed- he’d been informed that you would wake up soon and decided that he wouldn’t move until you did. After the team had all come and checked on you (Spencer might be in love with you, but they were all worried as well), Derek had driven Lewis to your hotel to gather your belongings. Rossi and Hotch periodically checked on him but gave him some privacy by waiting in a lounge down the hall. 
Absentmindedly thumbing through a well-loved copy of War and Peace (the Russian Translation mind you), in two hours he could have read the book four times over if was actually focussed on it, but he was still struggling through the first half of the book. Every time you so much as sniffed in your sleep, the book was discarded not to mention that he was so caught in thought he wasn’t reading anywhere near his usual 20,000 words per minute. Sighing, he moved his eyes back to the top of the page, forcing his eyes to read the lines he’d long since memorized and mentally translate them to English. 
“You look like shit, honey.”
War and Peace clattered to the floor as his head snapped up to meet your eyes.  You hadn’t moved much, but he was the first thing you saw when you opened your eyes. Still a little fuzzy from the anesthesia, you just watched him read trying to ignore how tired and anxious he looked. 
Without thinking you trying to sit up, but both the pain and the man next to were quick to convince you to lay back again. Spencer’s touch was gentle (it always was, but more so than usual), like you’d break if he used to much force. That was going to get annoying quickly, but you’d enjoy the doting for the moment. 
“H-How long have you been awake?” He asked as he sat back down, scooting the chair so close to the bed that his long legs had his knees pressed to the underside of the bed. You smiled softly.
“Not long, I just opened my eyes and you were muttering Russian under your breath. You only read aloud like that when you're worried.” You answered, smile turning sassy as you played with his fingers- something that always calmed him down. He managed the slightest chuckle. 
“Well, when my girlfriend has a GSW, a concussion, and bruised ribs, I get a little anxious.” He nodded, watching your hand in his. 
“Don’t forget the dislocated knee,” Hotch announced from the door, getting yours and his attention. Hotch, Tara, Rossi, and Derek (who was holding Garcia up on facetime) were waiting in the hall. You nodded in stride. 
“Oh, can’t forget about that. Is that all? Nothing much to worry about then.” You halfway shrugged, but threw a glance to Spencer and squeezed his hand as if to silently promise him, I’m ok. 
He just smiled, raising your hand to his lips to press a sweet kiss to your knuckle. Your cheeks reddened, Spencer had never been one for PDA especially in front of the team, so he must have been really worried.  
“Derek Morgan, if you don’t hand me to (Y/N) right now, I’m going to scream!” Garcia demanded, bringing your attention back to the team waiting in the door. You sent Spencer another smile before receiving the phone and tuckering in for a long, classic, Garcia ‘i was so worried’ speech. 
_______
After an hour of visiting with the team, Hotch decided it was time to let you get your rest. Derek ruffled your hair and teased you on his way out, while Tara only told you to feel better soon (you weren’t offended, Tara seemed lovely, you just weren’t near as close to her yet). As they filed out, Hotch poked his head back in the room. 
“We’re needed back at Quantico, but you won’t be cleared for air travel for some time. I contacted JJ, and she’s ready to come in. Once you’re discharged from the hospital, you’ll have to drive back. Reid, if you want it, you’ve already been approved some days off if you’d like to stay here as well.” He paused to smile, “Thanks again for everything you’ve done for the BAU. It’s been a pleasure working with you, but I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around.” 
This time, Spencer’s cheeks turned red as he nodded, only blushing more when Rossi winked as he left, throwing a last remark over his shoulder, “Feel free to take the scenic route, lovebirds.”
With the rest of the team gone, it was quiet, but you didn’t mind. The two of you sat in comfortable silence for a bit until Spencer spoke back up, “As much as I loved having you at the BAU, it’ll be nice to not be so worried about you all the time.”
“Yeah, there’s only room for one person getting shot at in this relationship, besides I miss my students.” You giggled, leaning back against the criminally uncomfortable pillows, “Just keep in mind that I feel that worried about you all the time.”
You hummed as he pressed another sweet kiss to your forehead before spouting off a long winded mathematical statistic about getting shot. You half-listened, but the complex math was going over your head, so instead, you just thought about having to go back to your old job. You’d miss the BAU, but you had plenty of stories to tell your students. 
Scooting over as far as you could, you patted the newly empty space beside you. Spencer looked skeptical, afraid to hurt you, so you used a tiny bit of guilt-tripping with puppy dog eyes and a quiet, “I’ve been shot and I just want to be near you.”
Reluctantly, he climbed into the tiny bed beside you after slipping out of his shoes. You giggled at the sight of his mismatched socks as he gingerly settled in beside you. He tensed as you moved to lay in the crook of his shoulder but having you so close, he couldn’t help just relax. His long arms reached over and picked his book back up, and as he started to read again he absentmindedly played with the ends of your hair. 
“So, what do you think, wanna take the scenic route with me? We just might get lost.” You smiled up at him after his arm finally, tentatively wrapped around you.  First, he glanced at your hand, which had reached up to mess with his fingers and then to meet your eyes. 
“Is that a promise?”  He asked, taking your hand in his, “Because I kind of like the sound of that.”
“Spencer, I’ll always get lost with you.” You promised, deciding against your better judgment to stretch up to kiss him. You didn’t make it all the way to his lips, so you settled on his jaw before he fussed over you to lay back down. 
“Well, now that that’s settled.” You whispered voice strained at the light pain in your abdomen after you settled back into a comfortable position beside him and closing your eyes. “Read to me?” 
“Always.”
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Note
All of them *^*
Heya Ash!! Oof you're giving me a project lol thank you so much for the ask!!!
1. How big is your mods folder?
That is a really great question. I couldn't tell you off the top of my head, but it got to the point where I had to put all my mods on a thumb drive and only move them around as I need them because I'm computer was running so terribly. So I'd say it's a lot 😅.
2. How would you describe your style?
Uh, I would say very graphic novel type vibes. I'm a huge graphic novel buff and the story I'm actually working on I intended to be a graphic novel, but it really got away from me and is much too big for that now (not a brag, just my legitimate crack head antics) so when I got into Sims editing the thought was always to kind of keep the drawn/comicbook-y feel to it.
3. What is your favorite challenge?
Thus far it's been the stereotype challenge ! It was a lot of fun and I got to do it with four of my OCs who ended up fitting the criteria pretty well! I just think it came out really well both as an edit and as my OCs.
4. Do you make CC?
Aahahaahahahhaahahaah!!!!!! No. I tried to make poses one time! One singular time and it ended so poorly that I decided to swear off making anymore off my own CC for the distant future. Maybe I'll try it again, maybe I'm scarred for life, only time can tell!
5. What type of CC do you hoard?
I had answered this one before, but I FUCKING LOVE POSES!!!! And like I said I didn't have the best experience making my own so I prefer to use downloaded ones. But I never really clean out my poses in case I need them for something else! So my pose folder is astronomical at this point.
6. What default eyes and skin do you use?
You know.... This really is a question I should have the answer to but I'm totally drawing a blank right now so I'll go ahead and put a link to the eyes here and the skin here when I can look it up! ✌
7. How many URLs have you had, and what are the meanings behind them?
On this blog I've only had the one? And I feel like it's pretty self explanatory, I love Morgyn because 1.) They're the absolute best 2.) Untamed magic? Yes ma'am! 3.) They're gender fluid / nonbinary like me!! And 4.) They're an absolute snack!!!! So it was a perfect fit for me.
8. Who is your favorite gameplay blog?
Why would you do me like this??????? I can't choose!!! I love them all and I'm friends with all of them because they're absolutely amazing people that I love so much!!! I don't have a favorite! 🥺
9. Favorite story telling blog?
Please see above answer!!!!! I LOVE YOU GUYS ALL SO MUCH I AHDHAHSGA I CANT!!!!
10. Who is your favorite CC creator?
I don't really want to answer this one either 😭 but I think the only person I know that makes CC is the awesome @barbieaiden they made a really kick ass emo glove CC that I absolutely love and you should check out. (Sorry if the rest of you make CC I'm sure I've probably seen it, probably even downloaded and reblogged, but this is all I can think if right now 💜) Also my go to for all pose stuff is the glorious @katverse they do incredible poses for pretty much anything you could think up, highly recommend.
11. How do you edit you photos?
This is certainly going to get a few gasps, but I make all of my edits on my phone!!!!! I use just a basic free photo editor app and kind of bend it to my will to get what I want out of it! I'm really bad at figuring out stuff like Photoshop and I'm not willing to pay the expensive price when I can do it and get just as good as a result as I want from something free easy and portable.
12. What's the last screenshot you took?
Once again it has to do with an edit I'm working on so here's the last one I put up if you're interested.
13. What do you do when you are unmotivated?
Honestly, this! Editing and the Sims are my escape from the real world. It helps me when I'm having a hard time with my anxiety because it gives me control over something, it helps me a lot with writer's block I can't tell you how my stories have been inspired because of it. But I guess if I'm bored in the game I usually just start a new save or play another game for a bit, I always come back after like a day though! To be fair I haven't been doing this long enough to feel unmotivated yet, maybe we should revisit this when I've been doing this longer than two months 😅
14. Who is your current favorite Sim?
Ugh!!! As you guys have found out about me I don't like to play favorites......... But if I had to say maybe my OC Parker's Sim, he just came out perfectly and is just spot on.
15. Who is your current favorite Sims that isn't yours?
Guidry!!!! He's frickin' hilarious and just so great. I honestly didn't expect them to put as much into him as they did but I'm glad they did!!! He's the best!! He's no Morgyn, but he's pretty great too.
16. Recreate someone else's Sim in your style.
So this sounds like a lot of fun! But I really don't want to change anyone else's Sim, I know how much we all put into them and they're basically like our babies. They mean a lot, so unless I get explicit consent from someone saying I can use their Sim in my style I'm going to pass out of respect this time.
17. Do you talk about the Sims with people in your life?
Yes! One of my really close friends is the whole reason I'm into editing and mods and stuff! She showed me everything I know and is totally awesome for that. (@jennifermakesstuff on Instagram, go check out she's absolutely amazing and a crocheting god, go do it)
18. How many packs do you own?
.......... I don't want to answer this..... It's honestly a problem..... But I have them all.... Minus the star wars one I just I cannot bring myself to get it, it just looks terrible. But yeah I collect the packs and it's a problem 😅 but if you need advice on what pack to get next I'm your person!
19. How many posts do you have on your blog currently?
141 👀 I uh.... I have nothing else to say about that lol
20. How many drafts do you have currently?
Too many. But they're all like ask games and stuff for my OCs so yup!
21. How many posts are currently in your queue?
Only two 🙃 I need to get back to editing so I can hopefully have some more but I'm sick right now so... Maybe it's time for me to start that gameplay I've been threatening.
22. Have you ever moved blogs?
Okay yes, but not intentionally but I've moved three times? I had a blog for when I first started on tumblr it was for music stuff but I forgot to pass code to it so now it's just there, the other one I had was for my art & make up stuff but it wasn't doing good at all so I just turned it into my personal blog, and then from there I moved to this one! Also I'm avoiding my personal one like the plague right now because of a whole disaster that happened with someone I followed and I don't have the balls to unfollow them so I'm just pretending that account doesn't exist 😅.
23. Are you in any Sims related discords?
Yep! This one right here by the very amazing @clumsyghostie I'm really new to discord so it's the only one I've been apart of (EVER) but everyone has been really nice and friendly!!
24. What are your thoughts on the most recent pack? (Paranormal)
I like it! It added more to the gameplay than past packs have, but I always felt it left something to be desired in the way of CAS and build mode. Spoilers starting here if you care: Also it would've been cool if you could have had more interactions with Temperance like you can with Guidry, and if the specters did more that would be cool too. Either way I think it's good, I wouldn't say it's groundbreaking for the game experience, but it is fun.
25. How many hours have you played the Sims?
Let's find out 3,215 hours 😅 that's board line a problem hahaha if my math is right (it probably isn't because I'm gay and bad at math) that's a hundred and thirty three days straight? Jesus I might need help lol.
26. If you play gameplay, do you play with mods?
I used to! But I play on a regular laptop so it can't really run gameplay mods unfortunately so unless I'm doing edits my game is vanilla.
27. What's the furthest you've gotten on a challenge?
So I'm really bad at challenges! My favorite lately has been rags to riches it's a lot of fun but I always get bored after they get married and pregnant :/ I never know what to do after that because like the challenge is over but I'm so invested in these Sims 😅
Thank you again for the asks! This was a lot of fun 💖 I know I answered all the questions just now but feel free to send me an ask for whatever you want! I love interacting with you all, you're all so amazing 💖💖💖
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ssurveys · 8 months ago
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1139
1 - What's your favourite TV show that was released before you were born? What is it that got you into that show in the first place? My parents introduced me to Perfect Strangers when I was 10 since they both grew up watching and enjoying the show - it came out in 1986 and ended in 1993. I love it mostly for the dynamic of Larry and Balki, which was really the whole point of the series. Then there’s also Friends, which first came out in 1994. It’s my comfort show for years to come and it’ll always be a series I’ll come back to whenever I need a pick-me-up.
2 - What is your preferred brand and flavour of ice-cream? I usually just stick to Selecta and I always get cookies and cream. Sometimes I’ll spoil myself and get Ben and Jerry’s and get whatever flavor that has cookie dough.
3 - When's the last time you got something in your eye? Can’t remember the last time I either cried or felt irritated with something in my eye.
4 - When was the last time someone got you flowers and what was the occasion? I’m not so sure. It was two or three years ago, I think. I don’t get to receive flowers or bouquets often, and especially not these days.
5 - What are your plans for tomorrow? Are these normal for that particular day of the week or are you doing something out of the ordinary? It was such a draining work week so I wanna use the free time this weekend to relax; but since I’m a bit of a workaholic I might also end up finding some time to do some work on the side just to feel productive hahah. I can’t go out either since we’re experiencing another spike in Covid cases - we’re reaching 7000 new cases a day - and stay-at-home orders and curfews are in place everywhere again, so I’ll just have to make the most of my time at home this weekend.
6 - What will you be eating for your next meal? Depends on what my mom is making for dinner, but I’m guessing another pasta dish...it’s Friday, though, and I usually allot this day to have food delivered in the evening as a reward to myself for finishing the week strong heheh. I got a spicy tuna salad and sushi again :)
7 - Who was the last person to pay you a compliment? How did you come to know that person? Andi, I think. We met at an anti-Marcos rally three years ago. They were carrying a big-ass guitar and I approached them because I liked their wrestling shirt.
8 - When is the last time the weather changed your plans? What were your plans and what did you end up doing instead? That would be last November, when we were in the middle of a bad typhoon and I had to file an emergency leave because we had a village-wide power outage and it kept me from being readily available for work. I made plans to a nearby mall to get wi-fi, but our village was seriously flooded so there was no way out. I had no choice but to begrudgingly file the leave even though I really wanted to attend work lol.
9 - What's your favourite kind of liquor? Do you prefer it "plain", flavoured or in a mixer? Tequila. Preferably as straight shots, because I like having a good time lmao.
10 - Who was the last person you spoke to via video call? Did you speak to this person via video before the pandemic hit? My workplace doesn’t really make it a norm to turn on our videos unless we’re pitching to or speaking with clients who prefer video calls. But I did just come from a Google Meet (albeit just using audio) this afternoon to present a deck and that call was with my co-workers and the clients we were presenting to. And no, I wasn’t even employed before the pandemic so other than Bea, I’ve never met any of the people in the call in person.
11 - Are you someone who prefers routine or spontaneity? I thrive on routine, but I also like it spiked with the occasional spontaneity.
12 - What streaming services (if any) are you subscribed to? Do you think they're good value for money? Just Netflix and Spotify. Yeah, I’d say both are good deals, especially Spotify.
13 - When was the last time you struggled to get to sleep? What did you do to help things? I’m not so sure, actually. I have no problem passing out these days lol. If I do have trouble falling asleep, I usually remedy it by watching YouTube videos or take a survey until my eyes feel tired.
14 - How often do you get your five a day? What was the last fruit or veggie that you ate? I’ve never heard of that concept...anyway, I looked it up and it has something to do with having a good amount of fruits and veggies per day. In any case, I had eggplants in my dinner tonight.
15 - How do you take your coffee? 3-in-1, so that it’s already made and blended well for me lmaaaaao. If I’m ordering at a coffee shop, I like sweeter flavors; I never take mine black.
16 - Is there anything that you're currently putting off? When do you think you'll finally get round to doing it? Getting new frames for my eyeglasses and an updated prescription along with it. Idk man, it just seems pointless to book  an appointment for the meantime since I’m never out and I can manage during my workdays without glasses anyway. With another strict lockdown order in place, idk when I’ll ever get around to setting an appointment.
17 - When was the last time you watched a Disney film? Which one was it and is it one of your favourites? I have no idea, it’s definitely been a while.
18 - What was the last household chore you completed? Is this something you do regularly? Just cleaned out the tray underneath Cooper’s playpen since it had some food crumbs and some of his fur. Yeah, I do it every night.
19 - Who were you with the last time you went out for a meal? Angela, Hans, Pia, Kyelle, Al, Gab, and Sam.
20 - Have you had your COVID vaccine yet? If not, are you going to accept it when you're offered? No, not yet. My workplace booked a bulk order for one of the vaccines - though I can’t remember which one - and we should be getting it in a few months or so.
21 - Do you have any pets and how many? If not, would you like to have one someday? I have two dogs. I’ve always wanted dogs, so I’m okay for now.
22 - What's the most unusual meat you've ever eaten? Did you like it? Carabao meat. It was fine, not horrid-tasting or anything, but I wouldn’t have it again. The one I had felt very hastily made, apart from smelling and tasting very farm-y.
23 - Do you prefer still or sparkling water and why? Still. I don’t like carbonated stuff period, so I doubt I’d enjoy sparkling water.
24 - Do you own a car? If so, could you live your current lifestyle without one? If you don't have one, would having one change your life in any way? My parents technically own it because they bought it, but it was designated for me. I mean I’d obviously survive without a car, but I’d find it very inconvenient. Booking a Grab every time would be so costly, and I’m not willing to try out our public transport anyway because they’ve been constantly terrible with disinfection and sanitation protocols throughout the pandemic.
25 - Who was the last person you made plans with and what are you going to do? Andi; we made plans to have our thesis printed and bound so that we can finally put a close to our college life hahaha. We just have to figure out a date and I also have to remove Gabie from my acknowledgments.
26 - What's the worst kind of physical pain you've ever experienced? Is this a one-off or is it something you experience regularly? Accidentally ripping my earring off my piercing was a fucking thrill I’d never want to go through again.
27 - What's your favourite length for a survey to be? Do you get put off if surveys are longer or shorter than you like? Anywhere between 35-80 questions is fine. Anything else would be too short or long. I’ll occasionally give long surveys a pass since it’s easy to take breaks in between, but I ignore short ones altogether.
28 - What colours are you wearing at the moment? Are any of those colours your favourite? I have a multi-colored striped top on and a scarlet pair of shorts. And no, I’m not wearing any pink rn.
29 - Once you've found a TV show you like, do you tend to watch it over and over again? What was the last TV programme you watched for the second or third time? Not with all shows - like I haven’t revisited BoJack Horseman after completing it the first time. I’ve been like this with Friends and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, though.
30 - When was the last time you cried and what was the reason for it? Do you feel better now? No idea when but it was probably from a heartwarming video.
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peakyblinderswhore · a year ago
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Hi love ! Hope you’re okay ! Can I please request something with Tommy being jealous ? Have a good day/night and stay safe ! xx
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A/N: hi anon! i suppose i just couldn’t resist. it’s currently exactly 3am and i cannot sleep. so i revisited this and wrote this for you. at one point i felt like i was straying from what you asked so i moved some things about and put it back on track. i hope you like it!
W/C: 1.5k
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You’re giggling at everything he’s saying. Flashing your pearly smile at him, he leans closer to you, attempting to make the conversation more personal. He’s drinking you in and he’s looking for more. His hand in your arm, you touch his hand feather light — you’d only had one drink tonight and you fancied trying to get him to buy you another, something fruity or something strong.
“How about you buy me something to drink and I’ll think about your proposition,” you purr, fingers tracing up and down his forearm.
Grinning, he waves Harry over and says, “Something nice, for the lady.”
You hold up three fingers to him and mouth the word “rye”.
Harry goes to object but you throw him a pointed look and he obliged to his request, pouring your favourite liquor. Of course that was between you and Harry, this man had no idea that the two of you were, in fact, well acquainted. Not for reasons that you wished to expand on.
Sliding the drink across the counter, Harry offers a tight smile and you grin back at him, thanking him silently for not ratting you out to this poor man.
You take a long sip of your drink.
Three fingers of rye was not seen around these parts in the hands of a woman but when it was, she was certainly assumed to be either drunk or important. You were the latter.
He’s fiddling with your hair, twisting a few loose curls and tucking them behind your ear, tracing his finger down your face and to the neck of your blouse. He’s got a wide grin on his face and a glint in his eyes.
He leans in to you, hoping that you’re feeling a little more comfortable with his offer just as the doors to the Garrison swing open. Turning your head to find out who was making such a scene of their arrival you are far from shocked with who you are witnessing walk through those doors. Behold, Thomas Shelby. You scoff at his arrival. Of course he’d find out what you were up to — he always did and it bothered the hell out of you. Pushing yourself up and onto the bar, you prepare yourself for what was about to go down.
Other than your drink down your throat, of course.
Beside you, the man trying to court you for the past half an hour looks up to you, trying to figure out your odd behaviour, completely oblivious to who had just made his entrance on the premises.
“Thomas Shelby,” you announce to the room full of half-drunk men.
Hurriedly, the man you were with makes sure his suit is straight and without another glance, Thomas socked him one, bang on his nose. The crunch that echoed around the room was the one thing that pulled a real emotion out of you the entire night.
“Oh-oh,” you’re screaming whilst all of the other inebriated men in the room are smiling, clapping and laughing at what you had caused to happen.
“You,” he grits his teeth and moves closer to the mans face, pointing a finger square in his forehead, “are lucky that I didn’t do anything worse.”
You roll your eyes, “Tommy, don’t threaten a man when he doesn’t know what he’s done wrong.”
Tommy walks over to you and manages to grit out, “What do you think is happenin’ here, eh?”
He grabs you by your upper arm and pulls you into the private snug, somewhere more private — he always granted you privacy, no matter how many times he got jealous. He always showed he was jealous in private (after the beating up of another man first) because it was between the two of you and not fifteen other men.
Fighting Tommy’s grip, you pull yourself arm away from him when you get into the snug, “Tommy!”
You hair is slightly messy from all of your hard work flirting for drinks and letting that man curl his fingers around your hair. Your blouse now has creases and you’re barely holding onto your drink as some of it had spilt over as Tommy pulled you abruptly away.
“Yes.”
“Thomas!”
“That’s my name; don’t wear it out,” he replies.
“Thomas Shelby! How dare you pull me away from him, him and I were having a drink together.”
“See,” Tommy begins, throwing his cap down on the seats behind you, “that’s just the problem. The drinking isn’t, it’s with him that I have a problem with.”
Scoffing, you reply, “You know why I came here. You did this Tommy; you know what you did.”
Tommy sighs and puts his hands in his trouser pockets, “You know, if you just didn’t push my buttons so much, I wouldn’t have to come here and claim you back all the time.”
“Claim me? I am not a thing to be owned!” You exclaim — oh he’s really ruffled your feathers now.
You put your drink down and step towards him. As you take a step towards him, hand raised to slap him in the face, he quickly catches your hand before swiftly swooping you round so that your back is pressed firm against his chest.
“Well, little miss, I, Thomas Shelby, will lay claim to you, right here, right now,” he’s holding your hand in the air and has his lips right next to your ears, his deep voice reverberating in your ears.
“You wouldn’t dare…” your voice trails off as he leans into you more and tilts his head, pressing his soft lips against your neck.
He pulls away, “Wouldn’t I?”
Gasping, you say, “Tommy are you forgetting that I am just as dominant as you are?”
He grunts.
“I could flip this situation, if I wanted to, of course. You could be the one begging — and I mean begging — me to fuck you, right here on this table,” You smirk as you feel him twitching behind you, you could feel him growing with lust as you spoke.
“Hot, are we, Thomas?”
His grip loosens, and you turn around to face him, your wicked green eyes loving how vulnerable he was.
“You know,” you say, “I get so…”
He’s waiting on the edge of every word you say, his eyes are trained on your lips, your hands are placed flat on his chest and you’re watching his eyes.
“I get so…”
“So, what, love, you get so what?”
Your smile flips into a frown and you push Tommy away with your hands, “I get so fucking annoyed when you come in here — acting so goddamned entitled — and beat up men just ‘cause they were talking to me. What’s with that, Tommy, eh?”
Brushing past him you open the doors to the snug and try your best to ignore all of the staring men as Tommy chases you out, trying to catch up with you.
You’re already out of the Garrison and matching home when Tommy finally comes level with your pace.
“You knew what you were doing,” he starts, “with that man; I can’t have that. Not with you.”
“You knew what you were doing this morning, entertaining Lizzie’s flirting,” you counter, clearly pissed off but Tommy doesn’t take the hint and carries on following you even when you pick up the pace.
“We weren’t flirting,” he replied, adamant.
“You may not have been Tommy, but she was.”
Tommy stops, all of a sudden. You continue walking until you realise that he’s not pestering you anymore and come to a halt, wondering where he went.
Before you could even comprehend what was happening, Tommy comes up from behind you and turns you around. He places his hands on either side of your face, his fingers spanning across your cheeks and pulls you in for a long kiss.
“I want you,” he breathes out, “not some ex-whore. You.”
Unfortunately, you couldn’t help but smile at his statement, going completely against what you had set out to do earlier this morning after finding Lizzie overly confident, overly flirty and overly shameless about it. In front of you.
“Say it again.”
“I want you.”
“No,” you breathe, “the part where you said, loud and clear, that you’re a jealous man disguised as Thomas Shelby.”
He raises an eyebrow and looks displeased; at that you giggle, “Say it, Tommy, or I’ll tease you some more,” you say and bite your lip, a massive grin radiating off of your face.
He can’t help cracking a small smile before hiding it away again, “I won’t say a thing that depreciates my public image.”
Making a pouting face, you say, “but how will I know otherwise?”
He pulls you closer, growling in your ear, “I am only jealous when you go out and seek my attention… with other men.”
“I am no whore, Tommy.”
“I know,” he leans in to kiss your neck.
He captures your mouth when you gasp from the contact — instead of objecting you smile into the kiss, somehow loving him more and more every day.
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lunedelorient · a year ago
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Spirit Animal (Part 1)
Warnings: None. Just introduction to the story.
Word count: 1.580
Tag List: @henchry - @princess-of-riviaa - @thiccgeralt - @madbaddic7ed - @demivampirew - @oh-for-fic-sake - @operationcavill - @modernmorticiaa - @magdelen69 - @fishcustardandclintbarton - @viking-raider - @luna-aestas - @connieisland - @agniavateira and the always fantastic @mylittlepartofthegalaxy, who’s amazingness keeps me inventing all this crazy stories. Thank you, my darling.
A/N: This story was inspired by a chat about tattoos with @mylittlepartofthegalaxy, and certain British lad having them (We chat about lots of things, because she is awesome). All possible triggers are described in the warnings, read them before you start, please. I’ve hidden some lines here and there, that you probably recognize from somewhere else, hope you can catch ‘em all… 😉 (Little clue: They are 25.)
🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘
Chapter 1 ~ Colourless
(Reader’s POV)
Three days. Three terribly painful days. That’s what it took for yours to appear.
You woke up screaming in the middle of the night, and after you ran to the bathroom, you notices the firsts small lines appearing on your skin. It felt like some shapeless, invisible force was cutting black lines on the tender flesh of you right thigh with a blazing hot knife. The fucker was big.
No matter what you took, nothing could help you to ease the pain, just like if it was necessary for you to feel it; as some sort of sadistic rite of passage. You even had to call to your work to let them know you were completely unable to attend until further notice. It was that time. Finally. You boss was the only one that knew, and she understood.
By the second day you realized it was a massive head of an elephant, so immediately, you went to The Book, to see the meaning of it.
The Book, was a manual every single person had access to, in which you could find the meaning of every tattoo that could appear in your body.
It wasn’t really a book, but a very big database that started as a printed edition, but then it became so big it was impractical to keep doing it on paper. You read the first part of the introduction, even though it told the whole historical event from which all this developed, from the very beginning and you already know about it.
“The most important happening in a human being’s life is to find the absolute right partner. The rest will solve on itself once each person finish their education and get the job they want.” You recited it out loud to distract your brain from the feeling on your skin.
That was the life of people now. “Centuries ago, Earth was a completely different place, illness, inequality, racism, violence and death were a common thing. There were good things, too, like love and solidarity, although the others made a more permanent mark. Until the Awakening happened.” You could only wonder how was to live like that. 'That was a world of nightmare, for sure.’
“The actual details of what it was, were known only for the experts on history, but, according to what was common knowledge, something changed completely and the entire organization of the world was shifted into a new order; a utopia, that not even the craziest artists of the written word, could have ever imagined.
"The resources were distributed between the people that really needed them, with equanimity. Education and health systems were modified and bettered all over the world. People didn’t have to fled their country for fear, armed conflicts or hunger, because there were no more wars. Political differences were settled in coordinated debates that, sometimes, took months because they didn’t finished until a solution was found.” You sighed, and smiled, thanking for being born in this time and place. 'I’m lucky as fuck…’
“There was only a few registered violent conflicts, that ended up being resolved by the mean of a duel. The participants wanted to make it to death, but the moderator thought it was extremely exaggerated, and settled at first blood.” That part never failed on making you laugh, imagining the poor moderator rolling their eyes in frustration.
“And that new order of things were kept for the following hundreds of years. People got the education they deserved, and the jobs they wanted, crime rates were as low as almost inexistent, and everybody was happy.
"The problem was, people was so content and fulfilled with their lives, that started to slowly focus more on finding realization throughout professionalism and excellence, and decided to leave love and family, a little bit on the side.
"When the number of humans started to get extremely low, the leaders of every country in the world, decided to do something, and after a very long debate, they all agreed on the fact that humans needed to start reproducting again, in order to not get lost in the annals of history and desapear as species.” You sighed, knowing perfectly the rest of the story.
“Mariage and parenthood was mandatory for everyone. It didn’t matter, how, when, where, or with whom, but every person in the world was forced to leave behind the legacy of, at least, one descendant. And all the conflic that was kept at bay for so long, reignited stronger than ever. Hundreds went to the streets, all over the globe, claiming for the right to not bear children and not being force to have to take care of another human being, if they didn’t want to. The cry was so clear and loud, that there was no other way to restore peace, than forget that horrible decision and get back to square one.” You imagined how awful it probably was to go through that, but quickly, you kept reading.
“What was know as The Freedom - or the second happening - shifted the entire history of the planet forever. Suddenly, people started to love each other so intensely, that kids magically sprouted all over, like wild flowers at the beginning of the spring. In no time, every place was repopulated and even exceeding the expert’s prospects and calculations.
"For some reason - that people related to the Freedom, but probably had more to do with fashion - getting a matching tattoo with your life partner became more and more, a common thing; at the point of being part of the actual wedding ceremony, no matter the religion or background of the participants. It was so rooted in people’s lives, that after a few long decades, the thing started to happen on its own accord, and once people found the person they felt they belonged with, the tattoo appeared to confirmed the union.” That was the part that fascinated you the most, because there was absolutely no scientific explanation for it.
“The complications started when nature decided that she will not wait until the people were together, and all of the sudden 'Love Life Tattoos’ started to draw themselves on people’s skins at any given moment without previous notice, except for the pain, that was the very same one people usually felt when getting inked professionally, but with no possibility of asking the artist to stop; not knowing where it would be placed and neither when will it going to pop. And, of course, the designs were random.” 'Or that’s what people believed’ you thought, amused.
“At the beginning they were matching, but then, to make it more difficult, the design started to be exactly the same on every partner. Obviously, that caused worldwide confusion, at first. Then, it came the tsunami of divorces; thousands ended up realising they were pointing in the wrong direction; others, that the person they thought they were in love with wasn’t the right one; some people found that being alone was the best for them; or even that they loved more than one person at the same time.
"Life kept moving, and by the current time, the fact that people got at least one, was a completely normal thing. It was actually celebrated, and expected because it meant you were destined to meet a special someone, with that exact same draw, somewhere on their body.” You went to the kitchen for a glass of water. 'The complicated part, it’s actually find that person.’
It was your first - and you hope - the only one, because you didn’t trust yourself to bare the pain of a second. Besides, in general, people that get two or more, had the indescribable sorrow of having lost their first partner. Usually, by death.
You went straight to the Elephant’s section of the book, and read it out loud, to the audience of nobody else but yourself.
“The mark of the Elephant means you are destined to find a person that it’s exactly like those giants of the jungle. It could be African or Asian - depending on the size of the animal and some other morphological aspects - but both are symbols of wisdom, strength, good fortune, loyalty and a deeply rooted family orientation. If it’s only black and white, it means that you know the person you belong with, but you probably not ready to be with them yet, or didn’t realize who that person is. If it’s on full colour, then you know your partner and you are completely ready for them.”
You went to the bathroom and lifting the hem of your dress, you observed the dark lines of the design, sighing and hoping for your quest to not being so difficult. 'Fucking great. I should start a list.’
You revisited some familiar cases, and found out there was no pattern to follow; your parents took a few years to find each other; your sibling found their partner while on high school and there was one of your aunties that lived almost her entire life on her own until the love of her life bumped into her, at the grocery store door, on her 60th birthday.
“Well, you should pay a bit more attention now…” You said to the puzzled expression of the person looking back at you on the bathroom mirror, but the buzzing of your phone interrupted your self pep talk. You groaned, when to see who it was, and your entire annoyance immediately disappeared when you saw his name on the text notification.
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gatheringfiki · 11 months ago
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The following ficlet was written by @fikidurin​ based on this photoset.
Pairing: Fili/Kili Rating: G
Tags: Major Character Injury, minor angst, happy ending
(Also, I highly recommend watching the video I used as inspiration for Fili’s skate, it will be embedded on AO3)
You can also read this story on AO3.
If you’ve enjoyed this story, please leave a comment either in replies or on AO3. :)
Don’t Stop The Music
2014
Fili leaves the ice, panting heavily and exhilarated. He can still hear the cheers and applause, fancied that he can hear his mother and uncle the loudest of all, though truth be told he can’t distinguish any scream from the next.
This isn’t the first time he’s skated for an audience, although it’s the first time he’s competed in a competition as an adult.
His navy sweater is covered in shavings of ice, and he’s shivering, but not from the cold. His throat feels parched, but he’s too busy getting his breath back to seek out a drink.
“Here,” someone hails him, pressing a bottle of water into his hand. It should be his coach, waiting for him here, but Fili’s fairly sure his coach is trying to get him six sponsorship deals before the end of the day, and a little thing like dealing with post-skate adrenaline isn’t going to stand in his way.
“Thanks,” he replies, taking a long swig and almost spitting the water straight back out when he sees who he’s talking to. “Holy shit, you’re Kili Durin.”
“In the flesh,” Kili grins, and pats the seat next to him. “And you’re Fili Oakenshield. You were pretty amazing out there.”
Fili’s eyes almost bulge out of his head. Kili Durin is complimenting him. Kili Durin, the youngest gold medallist for the UK Olympics team in like ever. Kili, who was allowed to compete in the World Championships as an adult when he was only seventeen years old, because he outclassed half of his peers.
“Thanks,” Fili chokes out, and takes another swig of water to cover up his craziness. “You too. I mean, not that I… I know you haven’t skated yet, but you’re like my hero.”
Kili laughs and throws an arm over Fili’s shoulder. “Well, thanks, I think. Welcome to the big leagues, kid.”
“I’m older than you,” Fili points out feebly, but it’s lost as Kili laughs again, and Fili thinks he might be a little bit in love.
*
2018
“How bad is it?” Kili asks quietly.
Fili hates how weak Kili’s voice is. How all the sparkle has gone from his eyes since the accident. It’s like he can’t bring himself to hope, and it’s dulled his appreciation for life. He spends most of his days moping on the sofa of their shared apartment, at least when he’s not in the hospital. 
It was so stupid. One of the junior competitors had snuck into their private practice and crashed into him. The combination of Kili’s triple salchow and an overeager fan resulted in two broken bones and some muscle damage to Kili’s ankle. The kid had skated away without even a scratch, though there’s probably some psychological damage there.
Three surgeries later, they’re finally about to get some answers regarding Kili’s future on the ice.
“I still can’t say for certain. What I can tell you is that the surgeries have been successful in repairing the damage to your ankle. You’re looking at some quite intensive physiotherapy to help strengthen the atrophied muscles.”
Kili’s already shaking his head. “Ballpark it for me. Will I be able to skate again?”
The doctor visibly hesitates, and Fili feels his stomach drop. “Yes,” he says carefully, cautiously. “I should think so.”
“But?” Kili prompts.
“I can’t recommend you return to competitive skating, at least not any time soon. You have to understand, recovery from an accident like this only goes so far. The rigorous training regimen will only serve to strain your muscles, and another accident could mean you’ll never skate again.”
Fili feels tears sting his eyes, and he hates himself for it. This isn’t his career being snatched away. It’s Kili’s. He’s supposed to be strong, but the selfish part of his brain is fixated on the fact that they’ll likely never skate together competitively.
The doctor is still talking, but Kili no longer appears to be listening. “For now, I can only recommend you take it easy, undergo the physiotherapy, and we’ll revisit this conversation in a few years.”
“Can we have a minute, Doctor?” Fili interrupts, and makes no apology for his rudeness. But his boyfriend has just been given the worst news of his life, and Fili needs to understand how he’s handling that. How he can be there for him.
He reaches for Kili’s hand, but it just lies limp against his knee when Kili makes no move to take it. It leaves him feeling helpless. He doesn’t know how to reach Kili like this. 
“This is all I know how to be,” Kili whispers brokenly.
“No,” Fili insists. “No, you are so much more than this. Skating is what you do. It’s not what you are.”
“It’s not either anymore,” Kili replies, and he sounds so tired. “Can we just… go home?”
Fili nods, wishing he knew how to take away Kili’s pain, and lets his hand fall away. 
*
2020
“Congratulations again,” Kili tells him sincerely. “Another trophy to add to the collection.”
Fili gives a sheepish half-shrug. “Only a silver one though. Clearly I need to step up my game if I’m going to take gold next year.”
The high of the win hasn’t yet worn off. Kili has been cheering him on from the sidelines, and they’ve decided to join the official afterparty, get a few drinks and celebrate the end of the year and the end of the competition.
It’s been two whole years since Kili’s accident, but he’s still welcomed here as much as any competitor. It has been a long road, filled with tears and fear and moments Fili wasn’t sure they’d make it, but they have. They’ve come out the other side, stronger and more in love than ever.
They’re all dressed up, fitted suits and open collars and Fili hates it. They’re stuck in a tiny room decorated like an industrial factory, with a sheet metal alloy countertop and rustic bar stools. The only hint of modernity are blue twinkling Christmas lights, and they’re tacky as hell.
It’s pretentious and hipster and Fili would much rather be at home with Kili, celebrating their way in clothes they chose to wear.
But he has to show his face, at least for a little while.
He loses Kili somewhere between one congratulations and the next, and cranes his neck to catch sight of his partner, to no avail. Fili sips champagne, let’s someone buy him a beer, which he nurses while he waits for Kili to return.
When he doesn’t, Fili knows exactly where he’ll be.
The rink closed hours ago, but they’ve both skated here for years now. It’s where they both come to think, where they work out their issues. They know how to get inside without disturbing anyone, they know the caretakers, the owners, the security.
He watches from the stands, shrouded in darkness, as Kili skates. There’s no music, no lights, but he’s as fluid as graceful as he ever has been. 
Kili skates, and Fili falls in love with him all over again.
The spotlights come on and Fili jumps, thinking he’s been spotted, but the light isn’t aimed at him. It’s aimed at Kili.
Music begins to play, and Fili recognises the song from some sheet music he’s seen around the apartment. But he spares no further thoughts for the melody, as Kili begins a routine that Fili has never seen before.
He seems to fall onto the ice almost immediately, but Fili can see the precise control Kili has over his body. He didn’t slip, this is part of the routine.
The sight is entrancing. The routine is daring, rugged, sexy. Every part of the routine screams sex and desire.
Kili has never skated like this before.
Yet something about the routine is discordant. There are no jumps. No toe loops, no lutz. 
It’s a complex choreography, but there’s nothing that would have an audience cheering at the skill.
“It’s what I planned to skate against you this year,” Kili calls out, and Fili represses a smile as he steps out of the darkness.
“How did you know?”
Kili gives him a wry smile and skates backwards, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his jacket. “You always see me. You always have. Since we were kids and you practically fainted in my presence.”
Fili frowned. “I was 26 and I’m still older than you!” he protested. “And you flustered me. You were hot and talented. You still are. I could never come up with something like this.”
Kili twirls and bends, his hands knotting into fists as he attempts a salchow, but fumbles the landing and is forced to brace against the ice with his hand. There’s a fleeting moment where ugly frustration spreads across his face, and then it’s gone.
Instead, he signals for the music to stop, the spotlights to cut out, and he leaves the ice.
*
2021
“I’m sorry, what?” Kili stares at Fili, but every part of his stunned expression shows he heard exactly what Fili just said.
“I want to skate your routine,” Fili replies patiently. “The one you showed me at the end of last year. I’ve been practicing it. Added a few jumps in where there was space.”
“Are you serious? You’re up in like… thirty minutes. You’ve got a routine. You’ve got music, an outfit, everything is tailored to your performance. You can’t just change to a routine you saw me do once.”
Fili just shrugs. “I told you, I’ve been practicing. Don’t worry about all of the details. Those are my problems. But the routine is yours, and I can’t skate it unless you say yes, right now.”
He meets Kili’s gaze, unflinching and sincere. He wants to do this. That choreography, he’ll never be able to do it justice the way Kili did. He’ll never have that level of self-confidence. But Kili can’t skate it, and it deserves to be shared with the world.
So Fili will skate it for him.
“Why?” Kili asks, eventually. “Why does this mean so much to you?”
Fili swallows. “I haven’t been at my best recently, not since your injury. No, don’t pull that face, Kee. It’s true. Because the truth is, I’ve always loved skating. But skating with you just… magnified that. Competing against you was half of the fun. And then that suddenly stopped.”
“It’s not like I could help that,” Kili sighed. “You think I don’t want to be out there with you?”
“I know you do. And that’s exactly my point. I want you out there with me. Because for me, being out there, it’s us. It’s a combination of our history and our story and our love. Let me immortalise that. And I can’t take you with me physically. So let me carry a part of you emotionally. Let me skate what you can’t, and the end result will be greater than the sum of both of us.”
He barely finishes speaking and Kili is kissing him, and Fili lets the world slip away in favour of the thing that matters most: the love of his life.
“I take it that’s a yes,” he laughs between kisses.
“How was I supposed to say no to that?” Kili huffs, but he’s too busy pulling Fili into another kiss to wait for a response.
(They take home a shiny gold trophy, and call it a joint win.)
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