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#i have a ways to go with ambient lighting but better late than never right
forged-through-trials · a month ago
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Just when I was feeling good about finally overcoming my vampire troubles, I stumbled upon the answers to the case of the missing dead wife... and those answers knocked me for a loop. Rather than investigate Grayrock Cave right away, Ruin and I took a few days off. I’m sure, Gentle Reader, you might think that foolhardy, but you’ve never had to fight vampires before. It’s not something one normally does... but on Skooma, it is. Skooma; not even once!
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I just needed some time to recover and detox, so I was laid up in bed for a few days before Ruin and I could hit the road again. But once we did, we made a beeline straight from Skingrad to Grayrock Cave. Boy, oh boy do I have to thank Kud-Ei for the Illusion lessons. They’ve just really improved my dungeon diving experience, and likely made cave-diving trips a lot more visually interesting for you, Gentle Reader. The cave was large, and sprawling, with at least two visible levels. Sheer ledges over looked a steep drop into a small valley, and the place was sparsely populated, mostly by animals.
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...and skeletons. Lots and lots of skeletons. Oh, boy, is that a lot of rattled bones. What the heck was going on in here? As Ruin and I searched, we came upon a tunnel, behind a chest... which opened up into an area that glowed with red ambient light, lined with pikes decorated with skulls. Well, if they’re gonna roll out the ‘welcome mat’ for me, guess I oughtta come on in and check things out, eh?
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Amid bonfires on opposite sides of cavern, we were jumped by an ogre. To think that not too long ago, getting jumped by an ogre would be a pretty big deal... but now, I was Forged-Through-Trials; Vampire Hunter. And I had a big friend with a big sword able to help me out. We two made fast work of the ogre, and were free now to explore the rest of this cavern. Near where the ogre was standing was a shelf, and upon it was some Suspicious looking meat. Gentle Reader, you know me; under normal circumstances, I find free meat, I’d be stuffing that stuff into my pack without a second thought. But to find meat in a dank cave, especially meat that looks this sketchy? Yeah... I ain’t touchin’ that stuff with a ten-foot pole. On the opposite side of the cavern, there sat a simple potion lab. Sharp-looking bottles littered the table and the shelf behind it, along with a globe with an unusually large rendition of Tamriel on it. Kind of a crap-globe, because I couldn’t find Akivir, Yokudan, or Atmora on it. It only had one huge Tamriel on it. A strange book sat on the table, with a few more up on the shelf. I tried to give it a once over, but the stuff was written in some kind of chicken-scratch that I couldn’t read. Hoping that this wasn’t some child’s imaginary scribbling--or worse, that the Skooma had brained my damage--I held onto the assumption that the writing was, in fact, a discernible language, and plucked up the book, and two more off of the shelf, stuffing them into my pack. What we found in there only raised more questions. So Baldor Varian was seen going in and out of this place frequently, but what ever for? And how would he get past the ogre who guarded it? Perhaps I’ll learn those answers when and if I can find someone to translate these books?
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Once back in Skingrad, we legged it over to the Mages Guild, where we had the ‘pleasure’ of speaking to Adrienne Berene again. I found her... carrying a riding crop and calling for Erthor. Trials: “...” I groaned and shook my head. “Hey! Uh, sorry to interrupt... whatever it is you’re doing. And please, don’t explain, but I found some books written in a strange script, and I need them identified and translated.” Adrienne: She gave a jump, and quickly hid the riding crop behind her back. “...sure. On one condition; you didn’t see anything, just now.” Trials: “Oh, trust me, I will be trying to unsee everything related to you for the next week!” I passed her the three books I’d pinched. Adrienne: She inspected the books, and gave a thoughtful nod. “Ah, these appear to be written in Ogrish.” Trials: “...wow, ogres have a written language? I wonder what they write about.” Adrienne: “Mostly, they write about onions. But these books look considerably more complex, and I only know about three phrases in Ogrish; ‘this is my swamp,’ ‘it’s all ogre now,’ and ‘Malacath is love, Malacath is life’.” Trials: “...huh, not the most articulate of species, are they? Well, know anybody who might know a bit more Ogrish and could translate these books for me?” Adrienne: “I can think of several people, but your best chance would be Boderi Farano, at the Arcane University, in the Imperial City.” Trials: “Thanks! ...oh, and go easy on Erthor. He bruises like grape.” Adrienne: She blinked, and narrowed her eyes. “How do you kno--that cheating little son of a--” She drew her riding crop again and resumed searching for the Wood Elf. Trials: “...” I sighed and shook my head. “Time to repress another memory.”
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So we had our lead; Ruin and I would be heading back to the Imperial City. By now, the heat from that Mages Staff job has probably died down, so it’s safe to return to the IC. But before we departed Skingrad, its Chronicles book mentioned a trainer of the bow, so I sought out the man, “Reman Broder.” Finding him near his home, I chatted him up about some training. Trials: “Hey, I know it’s late, but I’ve heard you’re ex-Legion and know a thing about how to use a bow. Think you could teach me?” Reman: “No, this is perfect. If you can hit something at night, you can hit it in the light.” Trials: “Huh, I never thought of it that way.” Reman: “If you don’t think of it that way, you’ll never think of it that day.” Trials: “...what’re you doing?” Reman: “I’m just practicing my poetry. I’m retired. What? There’s no hurry.” Trials: “...” I rolled my eyes at him. “Can we cut the rhymes and shoot some bows?” Reman: “Rhymes and bows have much in common, so saith this ex-lawman. “There’s a rhythm to each. That’s not easy to teach. “If you hope to hit the broadside of a barrow, you must master a cadence with your bow and arrows.” Trials: “...” [Speechcraft skill increased.] “...I’m not paying for that!” Reman: “That one’s for free. Now get down on one knee, take aim, and shoot an arrow or three, with me.” We practiced into the night, and after a few lessons, Reman congratulated me on my progress. I’d apparently learned all he could offer, so he offered me a recommendation. Reman: “I can teach you no more. And while it might be a chore, “Seek a Wood Elf in the wilds, a master of the bow she’s styled. “’Alawen’ was her name, and in the forest east of Anvil, she hunts game. “From you, a master of the bow she’ll make, assuming you’ve got the Drakes.” Trials: “...great, now do it in Haiku!” Reman: “...” He sighed. “Alawen, master, “East of Anvil, South, Kvatch “She’ll teach you, for gold.”
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The following morning, Ruin and I ‘borrowed’ a horse, and made for the Imperial City. Ruin: “...you own a horse?” Trials: “Not exactly... but I know the guy who owns this horse.” Ruin: “I see. And they will be alright with you taking their horse to the Imperial City?” Trials: “Trust me. We’ll never hear any complaints about it.” All technically true. I know most of the major players in Skingrad, so I ‘know’ the person who owns this horse. And ‘we’ll never hear them complain’... because he’s never going to find out it was me! With my pack loaded down with loot, we rode to the Imperial City. If I was going to schlep it all the way there, I was going to make some Septims off of this trip.
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First real stop, after arriving, was A Fighting Chance. Even though I have the Light of Dawn, now, I still wanted one of those replica sword from Mercator. If anything else, Ruin could use it. It still cost quite the pretty Drake, but I managed to acquire one of those marvelous swords, and... well... this replica is actually slightly sharper than Light of Dawn. Hmm... [Light of Dawn seethed with jealousy.] Nah, nah, I’ll be sticking with LoD for now, hehe. But this beauty will look fabulous on my mantle... too bad I don’t have a house! After that, I turned around to Rohssan to sell off a little more loot, and take a few lessons in Smithing. I don’t plan on becoming a professional smith or anything, but if I can keep my gear in tip-top shape, well that would just be one more thing that could help keep me alive, now wouldn’t it? Rohssan: “Well, what’re you hoping to learn about Smithing?” Trials: “How to swing a hammer without breaking my thumbs.“ Rohssan: “You... just tuck your thumb in before you swing.” Trials: Revelation. “Of course!” [Armorer skill increased.] Rohssan: “...that’ll be thee-hundred gold.” Trials: “...by the Nine!” Well, that lesson apparently pushed me into the category of ‘Expert’... which makes me fear for the poor Journeyman Smiths. But now that I’m at this level, I’d need to seek out a Master to get any better. So Rohssan referred me to a local Master; “Gin-Wulm.” With recommendation in hand, I sought out Gin-Wulm, and found him in the Market square. He was... less than enthused with my request. Gin-Wulm: He groaned, and crossed his arms. “Ugh... fine, if you care so much about learning the art of Smithing, then you should be able to pass a simple quiz.” Trials: “Uh... sure. Lay it on me!” Gin-Wulm: “Alright. What does the name ‘Hazadir’ mean to you?” Trials: “...” I blinked. “...dammit, a quiz I haven’t studied for. This is just like that dream, only I’m not in my underwear.” Gin-Wulm: “...uuuuuuhh.”
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Trials: “...” I yelped and covered myself as best I could. “AHH!?”
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Retreating from the Market square, I... first found my clothes. Then, I decided to hit up the First Edition bookstore. While I ran from the square, Gin-Wulm had mentioned a book, “The Armorer’s Challenge” as a hint to the answer to his riddle. The gist of the story is; during the reign of Empress Katariah, she proposed that an ex-slave, ‘Hazadir,’ design armor and weapons for troops going into Black Marsh. He was to compete with Sirollus Saccus, the greatest smith in the Imperial City at the time, for the contract. Long story short; Hazadir won the competition, by knowing the environment of Black Marsh well, and designing simple, cheap, effective armor made for the climate and conditions. Huh, and here I thought studying for this quiz would be boring? It was actually kind of fun learning about an Argonian, a former slave at that, who won a competition through wit and wisdom. Now, armed with both pants and answers, I returned to Gin-Wulm to answer his quiz. Gun-Wulm: “Ah, I see you remembered your clothes this time. So, can you now answer my question?” Trials: “Sure can! ‘Hazadir’ was the winner of the Armorer’s Challenge.” Gun-Wulm: “So, you do know a thing or two... Hazadir was my father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.” Trials: “...what’s that make us?” Gun-Wulm: “Absolutely nothing!” Trials: “Alright, now will you teach me what you know about Smithing?” Gun-Wulm: “Alright... do you know about tucking your thumbs in?” Trials: “...I’m not paying for this.”
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mrcifci · 2 months ago
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The New Garmin Makes a Compelling Case for Smaller Smartwatches
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo
Smartwatches have gotten thinner and smaller, but none are quite as small as the new Garmin Lily. With a 34mm case, it’s the smallest smartwatch I’ve ever strapped to my tiny bird wrist. And after years of testing bulky, gargantuan smartwatches, it felt like my prayers had been answered.
The small size was only one reason I was excited to unbox the Lily. Another reason was that Garmin finally put out another smartwatch that wasn’t a bulky eyesore and fairly reasonably priced. (Nothing will be quite as gorgeous as Garmin’s Vivomove Luxe, but its $500 price tag was too much for a hybrid.) Plus, I was extremely curious to see for myself how well a teeny smartwatch like this would function compared to larger smartwatches with beefier components.
Garmin Lily
What is it?
The smallest smartwatch ever
Like
Stylish and comfortable to wear on petite wrists. Full-featured for a hybrid analog.
No Like
The interface is too swipe heavy. Screen not as responsive as I'd like. Tethered GPS is sometimes unreliable. Automatic activity tracking is wildly inaccurate.
After a few weeks of testing, I have to admit I like the way my review unit looks on my wrist. There are six design SKUs. There are “Classic” models with leather straps and the other three are “Sport” models with silicone straps. Mine was the black-and-gold Classic model and features a plaid pattern on the lens. It caught me off guard, but the fact that each of the six Lily models has its own unique patterned lens made choosing which one I wanted to wear feel more personal. In renders, I thought the T-bar lug was kind of ugly, but I didn’t mind it so much in person. The smaller case size also meant the Lily was one of the most comfortable smartwatches I’ve tested for 24/7 wear.
G/O Media may get a commission
However, while I appreciated the smaller size overall, there was one unavoidable drawback. Notifications were harder to read just because there’s less screen to work with. It wasn’t ideal, but it was workable. The only time it was a major problem was when I panicked because the Lily was telling me I was late for a call with my friend Tom (a meeting I had no recollection of making). In reality, it was a reminder for a meeting the next day because the word “tomorrow” was cut off. To be fair, this is simply a trade-off you have to accept. The only way to cram everything into the 34mm screen would be to make the font too small to read.
My bigger issue was that gestures weren’t always reliable and the monochrome LCD touchscreen wasn’t as responsive as I’d like. On more than one occasion, I’d raise my wrist, only to be greeted by a blank screen. Swipes were 50/50. Half the time they registered fine, other times the response was laggy. During exercise, it often took multiple attempts to stop a workout because my fingers were too sweaty.
It looks neat on my wrist! The textured patterned lens is also prettier than I expected.
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo
I also didn’t love the interface. Swiping left and right will let you scroll through widgets, while swiping down will give you quick access to settings. Tapping the tiny home button will bring you to a limited list of features, like changing settings, starting an activity, setting an alarm, or changing your clock face. That’s pretty standard menu navigation for smartwatches! So is swiping up to view your notifications—which the Lily doesn’t do. The only way to easily go through your notifications on your wrist is to make sure the notifications widget is enabled. I didn’t do that during setup and spent a good 20 minutes wondering why the hell I couldn’t find my notifications. (I also highly recommend putting the notifications at the top of the widgets list when customizing, or you’ll have to do a lot of swiping through widgets.) In general, there’s just a lot of left-and-right swiping, which means it can be hard to access any menus quickly.
You’re also limited as to what you can do from your wrist. For example, you can’t edit or add alarms without going through the Garmin Connect app. You can only toggle them on or off. Actually, you can’t do a lot of things without first going through the app. It’s not a problem for everyone, but if you want a watch that’s somewhat independent of your phone, this ain’t it.
The Garmin Lily is the smallest smartwatch I’ve tested. The Suunto 7 is the largest. Look at that massive size difference!
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo
These quibbles aside, I love that the Lily is a full-featured hybrid, proving smaller size doesn’t mean you have to give up excellent features. You get SpO2 sensors, continuous heart rate-monitoring, an ambient light sensor, and an accelerometer. It also has neat Garmin-specific features, like Body Battery (which is surprisingly accurate at measuring how stressed or well-rested you are), and pregnancy-tracking (though this isn’t exclusive to the Lily). Also included are metrics like 24/7 respiration rate, blood oxygen saturation levels, breathing and move reminders, sleep tracking, and the ability to track water intake. You can also control your music, view calendar events, find your phone, and if you’re on Android, respond to texts and reject phone calls. The main things you’re missing are NFC payments and built-in GPS. (The Lily opts for connected GPS, more on that below.) The Garmin Connect app can feel clunky at times, but you won’t be lacking in data by opting for the Lily.
As for battery, Garmin says the Lily has an estimated 5 days but I never got anywhere close to that. That’s probably because I enabled Garmin’s Pulse Ox tracking, which is their version of blood oxygen-monitoring. With Pulse Ox turned on, I got maybe 2.5 or 3 days of battery on a single charge. That’s way better than the Apple Watch and probably every Wear OS watch. It’s also on par with Samsung’s watches. However, it pales in comparison to Fitbits or other hybrid analogs, which can often get up to two weeks.
Garmin is one of the best companies out there for fitness-tracking, but if fitness is your top priority, the Lily isn’t the Garmin watch you want. It’s not that it’s bad. You still get really in-depth metrics in the app, and the heart rate-tracking was on par with the Apple Watch SE and my Polar H10 chest strap. It’s more that you’re not getting what Garmin watches are best known for: a great GPS-tracking experience. Compared to other Garmin watches I’ve tested, the Lily’s tethered GPS left me hanging. On a few runs, I had to stand there shivering in the winter wind, waiting for the watch to find a signal via my phone. Twice, I rebooted the Garmin Connect app, re-synced the watch, and fiddled with my phone’s Bluetooth settings to no avail. The times when the Lily managed to get a tethered GPS signal, the performance was on par with my Apple Watch SE but lagged compared to my phone. However, I never knew on a given day whether the GPS gods would favor the Lily.
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo
While you have the option of enabling automatic activity-tracking, I found it was wildly off. For instance, on one 3-mile run, the Lily auto-tracked that I ran 1.8 miles. Similarly, an auto-tracked 23-minute walk was cut off after 10 minutes. I’d recommend manually starting each activity, but that involves a lot of swiping compared to other smartwatches.
I’ve already gone into why I think the “for women” marketing on the Lily isn’t necessary, so I won’t rehash it too much here. But after my testing, the only feature that’s truly woman-centric on the Lily is pregnancy-tracking. However, pregnancy-tracking is available on several other Garmin watches, so I’m really not seeing why a small watch means it’s for women. I’m sure plenty of men and nonbinary folks would love the Lily, while some women may prefer larger screens for readability. After all, women are not the sole gender that cares about style and women are not monolith in their gadget preferences.
It might sound like I’m harping on the Lily, but even with the spotty GPS connectivity, mixed fitness-tracking, and the not-ideal interface, I really think it’s a decent option for casual users. It’d just be an excellent pick if these things weren’t an issue. Garmin’s done a great job here, marketing schlock aside, in proving that you can make a decent smartwatch in a smaller form factor.
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo
The only thing that gives me slight pause is that at $250, it’s about $50 more expensive than similar watches. Fossil’s hybrid analogs are also great on the style front (though not as great on the health tracking) and are $195. The Withings Steel HR is also another sleek hybrid analog that costs $200. Meanwhile, the Fitbit Versa 3 isn’t too shabby-looking either and offers built-in GPS, NFC payments, and digital assistants for $20 less at $230. Arguably, Garmin does get you access to a more robust fitness platform, but again, the Lily’s strengths are its small size and stylish design. At the end of the day, a roughly $50 price difference isn’t the worst—especially if you find the Lily on sale. It’s just a question of whether you think it’s worth paying more for what boils down to smaller size and style.
Ultimately, I was hoping the Lily would be a tiny powerhouse that also looked chic and felt comfortable on my small wrist. It’s not a powerhouse, and I’m definitely left wanting a bit more. But you know what? Two out of three isn’t bad.
from Gizmodo https://ift.tt/3llRg6R via IFTTT
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salemorbit · 2 months ago
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By Suprise
[MHA x genderneutral!Reader]
Headcanons for Midoriya, Bakugou, and Todoroki
~~~~~~~
first kissesssssss how they would do it bc i'm soft like that hehehe
~~~~~~~
❄️Todoroki 🔥
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whoooooo boy this man
when i say This Man
Yes, he's mostly emotionally oblivious but alas...
You had had a crush on Todoroki since the first day of class 1-A
When you walked in and chose your seat, everything was going smoothly
Until He Walked In
And Oh My God
You could've sworn it raised ten degrees in the classroom and it wasn't just todoroki's quirk as you felt your face heat up at the sight of the pretty boy
And then he sat next to you and your entire world froze
From then on, you were always so nervous around Todoroki and flustered whenever he would ask you a question about an assignment or if he could borrow a pencil
You greatly admired his quirk and his control over either side of his body, jealous of the fact that he had such an amazing quirk that caught the eye of tons of hero agencies
Little did you know, Todoroki also had feelings for you as well *eyebrow wiggle*
He thought your personality was amazing, and your skills in battle were astounding when both improvisational and strategic
Poor guy totally fell for you in a matter of days
It wasn't until near your graduation from UA that Todoroki grew a pair and decided to shoot his shot before your hero agency whisked you away from him for good
With proper support from Midoriya and Bakugou Todoroki invited you to a celebratory dinner for your graduation and planned to seal the deal then
Todoroki nervously fiddled with his hands under the table, staring down the candle in the middle of it intensely. It was two minutes until your scheduled meeting time, but Todoroki had arrived ten minutes early to get over his nerves.
A minute later, you walked in with all smiles, and your eyes twinkling under the ambient light, and your hair done exactly the way he liked it, and--
He wasn't over his nerves.
Todoroki awkwardly stood up as you came toward him, returning your smile gently.
"Hey, Shotou!" You said, sitting down across from him. "Long time, no see," you joked. Todoroki smiled at your lax nature and sat down again, gripping his napkin tightly.
"You look wonderful, [Y/N]," he commented, trying not to let the nerves shine through. You felt yourself blush at the compliment, waving it away bashfully.
"Oh, stop that," you grinned. "You look dashing as always, Sho."
Todoroki's cheeks flared as the waiter came over to take your orders. Miraculously, Todoroki didn't stutter or make a fool out of himself the whole night. The two of you just chatted about the upcoming graduation plans and futures with your respective hero agencies. His heart raced at the fear of possibly backing out of his plan last minute, but Todoroki scolded himself for his anxiety. He was going to do this, whether his legs were shaking or not.
At the end of the dinner, Todoroki walked you back to your third-year dorms. Your conversation never slacked, flowing normally between you two with the foundation of your friendship for the last three years.
You walked close to Todoroki, hand brushing against his every now and again, and you would be lying if you said it wasn't on purpose. As you arrived in front of your dorm door, you both fell quiet. It was the first time in the night that it was awkward, neither of you willing to look the other in the face. You cleared your throat and glanced up at Todoroki, noticing his red-tipped ears. A smile flitted across your face.
"Thank you for tonight," you said, rocking back and forth on your feet. "It was really fun! We should do it again sometime, you know, to catch up with our hero agencies and all."
"Yes, that would be nice," Todoroki nodded stiffly. He awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck as silence blossomed between you again.
"Well, good night," you said, turning to unlock your door. Right as you opened it to step inside, Todoroki stopped you.
"Wait," he said, quickly grabbing your wrist with one hand and tugging on it. Your heart skipped a beat as you turned around with his pull.
And suddenly you were right in front of him, looking into his bi-colored eyes that were mere inches from your own. Your breath caught in your throat as you realized the proximity, one of your hands instinctively going to his shoulder to steady yourself while his own hand held your wrist gently.
"I-" You started out, but Todoroki nervously interrupted you.
"If you're uncomfortable-" He rushed out, but you shook your head, smiling slightly.
"No, this is good."
"Yeah?"
"Yes," you breathed out, swallowing thickly. There were a few seconds of quiet before Todoroki's eyes flicked down to your mouth then back to your eyes.
Then his lips were on yours, soft and hesitant, giving you the option to pull away if you'd like. Luckily for Todoroki, you returned the favor, deepening the caresses and moving to interlace your fingers with his.
The moment was tender and vulnerable, spilling out three years worth of pining and stolen glances when the other wasn't looking. You smiled into the kiss, pulling away to catch a breath.
Todoroki looked flushed, an excited gleam in his eyes that bore into yours. You knew how he felt without him having to utter a word, and vice versa.
Stepping backward toward your door, you smiled more fully at him, apparently not able to wipe the look off your face. Todoroki had a dazed look in his eyes as you leaned against the doorway.
"Good night, Sho," you said, squeezing his hand before letting go. He nodded, a stupid grin on his beautiful face.
"Good night, [Y/N]."
••••
💥Bakugou💥
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If you think you're making the first move with Bakugou, you are sorely mistaken
With his incredibly spicy attitude, it was no mystery why you would always get so frustrated with Bakugou so quickly
This is kind of like an enemies to lovers situation, ya dig?
Walking into UA, you had known Bakugou sparingly throughout elementary and middle school
There were a few words exchanged here and there, but nothing lengthy until you found out you would be in the same hero course with him at UA
During the first year, you got to know him a little better
You got to see how he fought, how he learned, how he pissed you off
And he also got to see all those same qualities from you :)
But underneath all of that surface level rage and red-haze lay thick layers of admiration and romantic feelings you both had toward each other
tho you totally wouldn't outright admit it
It wasn't until halfway through your second year at UA that things really started to heat up between the two of you (no pun intended)
It all started with a group assignment that paired you with Tsuyu, Kaminari, and Bakugou
Let's just say...things escalated pretty quickly
"You're an absolute ass, and you know it, Bakugou!" Your voice rang through the common area, despite it being relatively late in the evening and most of your classmates were in their rooms relaxing.
Or at least trying to relax, but becoming unsuccessful when your and Bakugou's voices reached decibels such as these. Even Jirou couldn't stand the noise.
"Maybe if you listened to me in the first place, we wouldn't have to recalculate all of your stupid equations!" Bakugou snarled back, throwing his papers onto a table. They spread out and fluttered to the floor, creating another mess you would have to clean up later.
Poor Tsuyu and Kaminari watched the back and forth for several minutes, not daring to intervene between your quarrel. With Bakugou's explosions dotting the air around his clenched fists and your quirk making your aura radiate intense energy? No, thanks.
"That's rich, coming from you," you scoffed, crossing your arms. Bakugou huffed and took a threatening step closer to you.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" His voice got dangerously low, but you were determined not to let your facade crumble. You lifted your chin higher indignantly.
"Uh, guys?" Kaminari gulped. "Maybe we should take a break-"
"Piss off, Sparky!" You and Bakugou yelled at the same time. Kaminari withered in his seat, exchanging a worried look with Tsuyu. The frog-girl just shrugged, trying to finish her own work in the meantime.
"You're so unbelievably dense, Bakugou," you let your head fall into your hands. The fiery blond grit his teeth and clenched his fists.
"Says you."
"You know what? I've had enough of your insults-"
"You've had enough of my insults? Eat shit and die."
"Take your own advice!" You yelled, throwing the last of your papers at Bakugou and finally storming out of the room. Bakugou let out a frustrated roar and fell back into his seat, shoving his hands into his pockets.
For the first time that evening, the common room was quiet. Bakugou was silently seething in his seat, not touching any of the papers that flew to the floor. It went like this for about five minutes until Tsuyu spoke up.
"Bakugou," she cleared her throat, "maybe you should go apologize to [Y/N]. What you said was kind of uncalled for."
"Yeah," Kaminari hesitantly agreed, testing the waters. "You were kinda rough with them."
"Well, maybe if they weren't so stupid then I wouldn't have had to say shit like that," Bakugou grumbled. He was quiet for a moment before he sighed, getting up.
"I don't need you extras sopping all over me," he grunted, walking out the door. "I'll go find them."
The sun was setting as you sat on the bench outside the dorms, trying your best not to cry. Tears welled up at the edges of your eyes, but you refused to let them fall. You couldn't let Bakugou get to you like that. He didn't deserve to get to you like that.
You sniffed and looked down at your hands, feeling a pang in your chest. Did he really think you were that stupid? Did he really want you out of his way? You dryly laughed to yourself, wiping at your eyes. Of course he wouldn't want you, you thought. He was dead set on his future and you were just an obstacle he needed to step over. You meant less to him than you wanted to.
"Hey."
Your head snapped up to see Bakugou standing a few feet away from you, hands in his pockets and eyes trained on you. You frowned, purposefully looking away from him.
"I said, 'hey.' What, did you go mute all of a sudden?" Bakugou scowled at you when you didn't turn to look at him. He sighed deeply before looking out at the sunset himself.
"I'm sorry."
Your breath caught in your throat at the words. Did Bakugou, the Bakugou Katsuki, really just apologize? And to you of all people? You turned a surpised gaze to his standing figure, eyes on his profile. His scowl was softened as he looked at the sun, golden light washing over his features.
In that moment, he was beautiful. And your face heated up at the realization, butterflies swarming your stomach. Flustered, you shifted in your seat, attempting to compose yourself.
"You feel sick or something?" You teased.
"A guy can't apologize without it being weird?" Bakugou shot back, eyebrows furrowed, annoyed.
"It's a little out of character for you specifically," you tilted your head to look at him.
"Yeah? Well, it's 'a little out of character' to just walk away from a fight," he mocked you. You shook your head, standing up to face him.
"Do you ever stop?"
"Do you ever shut up?"
"What's your issue, Bakugou?"
"Maybe you're my issue!"
"What does that even mean?" You spread your arms exasperatedly. Bakugou took two steps toward you.
"It means what I want it to mean," he growled.
"Care to share?"
"Shut up!"
"Make me!"
Bakugou grabbed your waist and pulled you close, forcefully joining his lips with yours. Your hands found their way onto the sides of his head as he gripped one hand on your torso and the other in your hair. The kiss was furious, passionate, and longing all rolled into one.
It eventually slowed down as soon as it started, your previously knitted brows relaxing as you two found a rhythm in the madness. He smelled of singed wood and something sweet underneath. Exactly what you expected.
Breaking away with a gasp, you let your hands slide down his neck and rest on his shoulders. You searched his eyes for anything negative: regret, disgust, anger. Instead, you found a firm softness looking back into your own.
"Hey," you whispered, unable to raise your voice any louder. He smirked at your speechlessness.
"Hey," he replied smoothly, wrapping both arms around your waist. You smiled, playing with the locks of hair at the back of his neck.
"I'd like more where that came from," you quirked an eyebrow at him playfully. Bakugou just rolled his eyes and took your hand from his neck begrudgingly, pulling you toward the dorm entrance.
"Get your calculations right, and maybe we can negotiate."
••••
Midoriya
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soft boy soft boy soft boy soft boy
We all know that if Midoriya finds someone he likes, this boy PINES
Pines like a mfing evergreen forest man
Anyway, you and Midoriya had always known each other in middle school and now in UA
You both ended up in the hero course, but you transferred in after the first year because of some quirk development
Midoriya with his own developing quirk felt sympathy for you trying to keep control over something so new for you
He naturally gravitated toward you, kind of self-appointing himself as your mentor as you went through the different changes and trained with your new abilities
He grew to really like your humor and openness to the situation and how your spirit never died even when you were struggling
And you admired his willingness to help you! He was so kind and you'd never really had anyone be nice to you with no ulterior motives before
It wasn't long, or surprising, when you two started to develop feelings for each other
One day while you were training your quirk, Midoriya thought he'd stop by to spar and test your skills
One thing led to another and....well....
You dodged Midoriya's leg with expertise and landed squarely on the ground. Jetting off to the left, you aimed for a side sneak attack to catch him off-guard. You activated your quirk for a boost, one of the new developed abilities, and swept his legs from under him in a flash. Midorya was sent to the matted ground with an oof, landing on his back. You stood over him proudly, holding out a hand for him to take.
"That's a new one," Midoriya commented, hoisting himself up. "What do you call it?"
"I don't have a name for it yet," you rubbed the back of your neck as he walked to his bag on the bench. "Probably just...sneak attack kick? I dunno, it's not much of a sneak attack if you see it in broad daylight."
Midoriya laughed at that and lifted a notebook from his bag, clicking a pen and writing in it messily. You stretched your arm over your head and attempted to peek around his shoulder to see what he was writing.
"Whatcha doin'?" You asked curiously. Midoriya quickly closed the notebook and turned around, an embarrassed look on his face.
"N-nothing!" He said. You grinned evilly and put your hands on your hips. Midoriya gulped.
"You got a super secret notebook for super secret thoughts?" You joked, pointing a finger in his chest. He nervously shook his head quickly, tightening his hold on the notebook.
"No way! I was just- uh, just making a note, that's all!" He tried to cover up, but you could see through his facade. Shaking your head, you gave him a pitying look.
"After I just showed you how quick I can be, you really think you can keep your little notebook a secret?" You held the notebook up in your hand, causing Midoriya to do a double-take. He lifted his hands from behind his back to see that you put one of your own empty notebooks in his hands, fooling him into not noticing your switch. You wiggled the notebook cheekily.
"Give that back!" He squeaked out, reaching for the book. You held it up and away from his reach just barely, pushing him away with one of your hands.
"If you want the notebook, you're gonna have to catch me!" You laughed, sprinting off to the other side of the room. Midoriya chased you, using his quirk to make his reflexes faster. Fortunately for you, you knew his tricks. Anything he thought of to try to get the book back, you already figured he would do.
"[Y/N], don't make me ask again," Midoriya reasoned, holding up his hands. You shook your head again, grinning.
"I don't think you even asked a first time!"
"[Y/N], please."
"Why don't I just take a little look-see here..."
"No!"
Midoriya launched at you, but you twisted your body at the last moment to catch him with your legs. He fell to the ground with you pinning him and sitting on top, still holding the notebook. He was dazed from the landing as you began to flip through the pages tauntingly.
"Let's see..." You began, not noticing the terrified look on Midoriya's face. "Stat records, costume ideas...Ah! Hero notes!"
"[Y/N]-" Midoriya groaned but you hushed him.
"You've taken notes on almost all the heroes you've encountered. Impressive!" You nodded. Midoriya covered his reddening face with his hands, admitting defeat. You remained perched above him, straddling his torso.
"I'll pay you fifteen dollars to let this whole thing go," Midoriya reasoned. You just ignored him, scanning through the entries until you found one on yourself.
"Wow, my first fan!" You laughed, looking over the page. "Such detailed notes, too. You've got my special attacks, my defense moves, my favorite color-"
That made you stop. You instantly shut up, staring at the entries that Midoriya had made on you. Looking over the list, and it was long, you saw that his notes stretched far past just what made you a hero.
He had noted your favorite color, what you liked to eat, your favorite animal. He had your likes and dislikes neatly scrawled on the pages, front and back filled with different tidbits about yourself that he had picked up. You looked past the notebook and down at the embarrassed boy.
"I don't know if I find this flattering or creepy," you admitted. Midoriya quickly removed his hands from his face urgently.
"It-it's not like that, I swear!" He exclaimed, shaking his head. "I'm not weird, I promise. I just...thought you were noteworthy, that's all."
You felt something blossom in your chest as your own cheeks went red. Clearing your throat, you glanced back at the notes he had taken on you, no doubt things you had told him or ranted about in the past. He really thought you were noteworthy?
Further down the list were things that were less surface-level and more of his own opinions: your personality, the sound of your laugh, how your eyes looked when you were excited. You couldn't help but smile at the effort.
"I'm sorry if it's weird, I just-"
"I think it's really sweet," you interrupted him, laying the notebook on the ground. His chest warmed at the sight of your sincere smile, you looking down at him like that.
"Y-You do?"
"Yeah! No one's ever really paid that much notice to me," you admitted sheepishly. Midoriya's eyes softened at your comment.
"I don't see why they wouldn't," he said impulsively. "You're amazing. I couldn't help but notice you."
You smiled stupidly down at the boy who had shown you so much kindness these past few months. He had shown that he cared about you in so many ways, all of them small and unique to who he was. You felt so incredibly lucky to have found someone like him.
"I know we just sparred," Midoriya blurted out, "and I know we're kinda sweaty, but you look really cute right now, and I don't really have much else to hide so I guess it couldn't hurt to maybe just-"
"Yes, you can kiss me," you finished for him. Midoriya sucked in a breath, smiling thankfully, before pulling you down to meet him halfway.
Your hands rested on the mat on either side of his head as he pulled you down by your shirt, gently moving his lips against yours. The kiss was soft and sweet, just like the way he treated you daily. You couldn't help but smile into it, allowing yourself to get lost in the moment that you'd dreamed of for weeks.
Breaking apart, neither of you had much to say as your faces were both incredibly red and Midoriya could barely process how his dreams had come true just like that. You leaned down to give him one last parting kiss before attempting to get up from the floor.
"I didn't say I was done," he muttered, pulling you down again and smiling before going in for another kiss.
~~~~~~
AHDKFISHWNEKDDJ these all ruined me completely goodbye i am deceased from the adorableness
requests are welcome! :)
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dragons-bones · 2 months ago
Text
FFXIV: A Synthesis of Aether
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#FebHyurary Day 17: Food + Day 18: Music
A/N: So I had too many ideas for yesterday, but knew for today touching on Synnove’s aether synesthesia would work well, and then I said, “DT YOU FOOL YOU CAN COMBINE BOTH DAYS FOR HER AETHER SYNESTHESIA.” And lo: a fic! Mostly dialogue, I haven’t done a dialogue heavy ficlet in a loooong time so I feel a bit rusty, but this was a fun exercise!
RATING: T WORD COUNT: 1455 WARNINGS: None!
---
[Installing SCAEVAN SYSTEMICS operating software.]
[Installation successful, running update cycle.]
[Updates complete. Archive Node Unit 453 now online. Please specify primary user.]
“Synnove Greywolfe.”
[USER: SYNNOVE now registered. How may I assist you today?]
“Please stand by for audio recording.”
[Standing by.]
The node’s lights dimmed from bright grass green to soft seafoam as it partially powered down, its northern and southern hemispheres slowly rotating in opposite directions.
Synnove lowered her hand and glanced over at Rereha. “All right, you can babble now,” the Highlander said.
Rere took her hands off her mouth to tug at her braided pigtails and beamed at her. “Whatcha doing?” she said, in the sing-song tone of someone feeling exceptionally nosy, rocking back on her heels.
Synnove rolled her eyes and set her hands on her hips. “Y’shtola’s working on a compilation of aetheric synesthesic perceptions as a downtime project,” she said. “She asked me if I was willing to contribute, to which I obviously said ‘yes.’ But because I’m not often able to spend much time in Revenant’s Toll that doesn’t devolve into Warrior of Light or Ironworks business—”
“—audio recordings you can send or give her are more convenient.”
“Careful, Rere, or other people will begin realizing you’re smarter than you pretend to be.”
The lalafell gasped. “Madam, you wound me!”
She received a satisfied smirk in reply as Synnove added, “And what better way to create an audio recording than with my new archive node?”
Rere pulled herself up onto Synnove’s desk, sitting on the edge and kicking her feet back and forth as she leaned back to rest on her hands. “Did you liberate it from the Ironworks?”
“I purchased this fair and square, I have a bill of sale from Jessie herself.”
“Nero’s OS?”
“The fact you know that term is vaguely frightening, but the man does have an unparalleled understanding of Allagan technology and if you tell him I said that, I will hang you by your toes from the edge of the Steps of Faith.”
Rere mimed locking her lips.
“Hand me that stack of paper, please.” Synnove pointed to Rere’s right. The lalafell snagged it and dutifully handed it over.
The arcanist shuffled through them, humming tunelessly as she did, before she came across the correct page. “All right,” she said, mostly to herself. “Start with Y’shtola’s list of baseline sensations today and go from there.” Louder now: “Begin recording.”
[Audio recording now live.]
Synnove automatically straightened her spine and rolled down her shoulders in the same way she did before she began a lecture for the fourth-year arcanist students. In a clear, strong voice: “Synnove Greywolfe recording for Y’shtola Rhul on the 18th day of the Second Umbral Moon, 11 Year of the Seventh Astral Era, on the subject of synesthetic perceptions of aether. I personally perceive aether, in addition to visual manifestations, as both taste and sound. Occasionally, one sensation will dominate the other, and certain sounds and tastes aren’t exclusive to one elemental type.
“For this recording, I’ll describe the overall generalities I associate with different elemental aether; variance is high depending on factors such as location or origin, in terms of ambient or crystallized aether, or in the case of spells, if they are being performed correctly or are altered in some capacity.”
“How to spot the catastrophic boom just before the boom becomes catastrophic and it’s too late to do anything about it.”
Synnove sighed. Rere giggled.
“Y’sthola, remind me to recalculate the angle needed to ensure Rere lands in Silvertear if thrown from the highest tower in the Toll.”
“Hey!”
“You’d be fine, Hydaelyn likes you best.”
Rere pouted, lower lip pushed out to the point of exaggeration, which meant she wasn’t actually offended.
“To get back on topic: fire. Fire aether most frequently tastes like hot spices, such as peppers; coffee; red meat, such as buffalo; bitter chocolate; cherries; wine. Sound tends to be uniformly brass instruments such as horns and trumpets; very occasionally it can sound like metal striking metal.
“Earth aether is auditorily simple and gustatorily complex. The sound of earth is always rhythmic and steady, if not outright drumming; the sensation of it echoing follows fairly often, too. Taste runs a huge gamut: savory or sweet seasonings, such as cumin or cinnamon; white meat, such as pork; most vegetables, particularly green or starchy vegetables; certain fruits such as apples and figs; bread; cheeses; stews; whiskeys.”
“I’d call most of those foods ‘homey.’”
Synnove frowned thoughtfully. “That’s a fair assessment,” she said after a moment. “Earth aether tends to ‘taste’ comforting.”
“Does that mean Tyr is the ultimate comfort food?”
“Does that mean you want to go flying out of my office window into the harbor?”
“I’m going to shut up now!”
“See how long that lasts,” Synnove said under her breath while her sister smiled beatifically. “Where was I… Ah, wind.”
The Highlander frowned. “Wind aether is another oddity, taste-wise. Mint tends to present quite frequently, along with sweet chocolate, white grapes, vanilla, white wine, arak, olives, and scallions. Thankfully when it seems to be a combination of flavors, it’s complimentary…” She shook her head. “Sound is similar to flutes, chimes, whistles. Bit stereotypical, honestly.
“Lightning…” Synnove paused, frowning again. “Sound tends to be similar to specific string instruments such as violas and cellos; deeper sounds. Low notes on a piano or harpsichord, sometimes simple humming or vibrations. Taste does not tend to be strong, but most frequently has manifested as berries and/or stonefruits. Alcohols such as gin, palm wine, ouzo, and brandy.”
“That is not the element I’d consider boozy,” Rere said idly. She had lain back on the desk and was staring up at the huge arched ceiling of the tower office, twiddling her thumbs.
Synnove shrugged without further comment, already looking at the next item on the list Krile had transcribed on Y’shtola’s behalf. “Water is what one would think would be boozy but I have legitimately never tasted ‘boozy’ water aether before. Tropical fruits dominate; in terms of savory, as horrifically stereotypical as it is, seafood. But almost never in a way that makes sense, I once found a water cluster in a bluefin tuna’s belly that tasted like Coerthan oyster confit.”
“I remember that, you made the weirdest face.”
“I still can’t find the words to describe just how fucked up that taste versus visual dichotomy was. In any event, water aether also sounds like string instruments, mostly harps, dulcimers, and brighter pianos. Also, a very specific drum… Rere, what’s that staccato-sounding drum the Flames have been using in their parades of late?”
The lalafell picked her head up. “Snare drum?”
“That’s the one. Timpanis on occasion, too. And finally…ice. Sound leans towards woodwind instruments like the clarinet and piccolo, as well as bells. Any bell. Taste…hmm. Slaw, fruits that freezes well, fruit juices, Thavnairian sweet tea—”
“That is not tea, that is an abomination.”
“—some melons, cucumbers, white rum, wintergreen.”
“I still can’t believe you’ve never come across ice aether that tastes like the Bismarck’s root beer float.”
“They introduced it to the menu last year.”
“So?”
Synnove sighed that heavy, gusting sigh everyone who spent longer than thirty minutes with Rereha learned. “Y’shtola, I see a note here about Primordial Light and Dark, but I’ll do that in the next recording along with variations and discrepancies, as first, I need to beat my sister over the head with a grimoire—”
Rereha hopped down from the desk and ran for the office door, shouting BYE Y’SHTOLA I LOVE YOU BEST over her shoulder as she did.
“—and second, I’m hungry and now is a good time to break for lunch. Recording end.”
[End of recording. Is there anything else on which I may provide assistance?]
“No, that will be all for now—ah! Before I forget. Please create new nodal designation of own choice.”
[Clarification requested.]
“Pick a name for yourself.”
[…]
[Accessing imperial Allagan databases for repository of birth certificates. Scanning records.]
[Archive Node Unit 453 rename complete. Archive Node Unit 453 is now Kleio.]
Synnove smiled, pleased. “It’s nice to meet you, Kleio.”
[…Thank you. Database scans are currently inconclusive as relates to instruments in modern usage versus those of Allag. What samples are available to provide edification?]
The Highlander cocked her head, staring at the silver-and-green node for a few long moments, before another smile, this one slow and delighted, crossed her features. “I have a few orchestrion rolls that include solos and chamber music that you could listen to while I have lunch, and I can provide lists of which instruments are used in each piece.”
[That would be satisfactory.]
“Perfect! Let’s get you set up…”
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weakzen · 2 months ago
Left on the detective’s desk, a single red rose and a note written in precise handwriting:
Alex,
What happened to you - you didn’t deserve it. You can be loved, if you let yourself.
Happy Valentine’s Day
(yolo experimental style; alex/mason, early established relationship, angst and fluff; no direct mention of abuse, just oblique circling and fatalistic thoughts; rated m for mason; also on AO3~)
Even though I didn't finish reading it, even though I hid it from sight, imprisoned it in darkness, cast it to the depths of the bottom drawer until the end of shift, when it would be possible to smuggle the thing into the break room recycle bin without risking Tina's eyes or interrogation, that stupid fucking note has somehow still managed to reach up through all those heavy files and twist my stomach into knots.
For hours.
Plucking my nerves hard enough to make my hands fucking shake too. Typos in every report, backspace key pulling overtime without pay. Not helped by eyes that won't stop stinging. Armpits that haven't fully dried either, along with a weird chill, shivers that persist despite the sweater and the cranked-up thermostat.
At least the rose is gone. Snuck it into the arrangement on Tina's desk, the one I get her every year.
It looks better surrounded by friends.
It was nice to see it on the desk this morning
(Can still smell it perfuming the air.)
And if I could get rid of my thoughts as easily, I would. Because after half a day of chasing them in circles, I still can't figure out who the fuck sent that goddamn note, who the fuck would write something like that—say shit like that, to me—who could possibly fucking think or know or say anything about that, or that I-I, that I—
Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckingfuck.
That sickly feeling wrenches again, hard enough to jerk me forward over the desk, face buried in my hands while my breathing shudders into something unsteady and vaguely gasping.
Fuck.
It can't be Tina.
It can't.
It should be, but it can't.
The writing's not loopy enough to be hers, and it's not slanted enough to be Verda's, and the damn thing isn't covered in nearly enough heart stickers to be from Felix. We all should know. Nate's been sighing nonstop for the past week, scraping them off every available surface in the Warehouse—except for the lacy pink one Felix managed to sneak right between Adam's shoulders.
And the glittery red one I pressed covertly to Mason's ass.
(Maybe not so covertly. Found a few hearts stuck to my underwear later when I slipped outta my jeans, and the secrets of how the fuck he pulled that off are still locked behind his smirk.)
A smile tries to pull at my lips, but the tightness in my gut warps it crooked.
Another shuddery breath.
It can't be from Adam either. If he had something to say to me, he'd just say it, preferably after he finished laying me out on the mats, all sweaty and sucking down air from another session of his gentle ass-kicking. Nate, however, would write a note to me. Has written a note to me. Has written many notes to me and still not made a dent in that stack of expensive stationary, and although the card stock was silk cream, the pigment obsidian night, and the calligraphy swooping in almost a dead ringer, I know it can't be from Nate because he would never leave a rose with his words, not the ones meant for me.
But there isn't anyone else.
There's Mason
And it can't be from him.
It's not his handwriting, to start. I think. I'm pretty sure. I've never actually seen his writing, but I can't imagine it would be anything resembling neat or careful. It's gotta be complete chicken scratch. All cramped and illegible. He's left handed too, barely patient enough to sit through a stoplight, much less give ink the time to dry, so there'd be definitely be smears, and there weren't any smears. At all. Can't be him.
Not to mention he'd never do anything like this.
Don't know why he keeps coming to mind anyway. Just because we're…
Together
—for now.
Doesn't mean he'd ever say anything like that—
He already has
(He did. He said I deserved better and I believe him, but I don't, I can't.)
—only because he'd say differently if he knew.
If he really knew.
He'd say different and I'm not gonna fucking tell him and it doesn't fucking matter anyway, it doesn't. Shine's gonna wear off soon enough. Novelty, satisfied. Boredom, returning. And at least the conversation won't be awkward, just… blunt. To the point. A first for us both, in topic, if not style.
I've never been dumped before, at least not in a romantic sense.
Another breath. Another shuddery breath.
Wonder how it's gonna feel.
(It's gonna suck.)
No fucking shit.
If it can't last, why agree to it at all?
I rub hard at my eyes, grinding palms into sockets.
If it can't last, why not tell him anyway?
Because I already fucking know! Don't need to hear it from him, don't wanna hear it from—
If it can't last, why does it matter what he thinks?
“…Stupid fucking note.”
It was nice to see it on the desk this morning
(Someone took the time, wrote it, left it in here. Someone cares.)
Someone's playing a sick fucking joke, more like.
What if it's genuine?
I scoff ragged, squeezing fingers around the back of my neck.
(Tina cares. So does Verda. The whole team, so many others, I know, and I believe them all but I don't. I can't.)
What if you didn't deserve it?
I did. I stayed and I did. My fault. Fucking stupid, like he always said.
(All Mason ever speaks is care. In a thousand different ways of touch, in silence, in lingering looks, he cares.)
What if you can be loved?
What if you can?
A brittle laugh wheezes past my lips and shoots toward something hysterical, boosted by acid burn and cloying petals and that churning, churning tightness. My shoulders hunch high around my ears while the sound pitches even higher, lungs immolated and screaming along, nails digging, cutting crescents as I shake and curl tighter, smaller, compacting into stiffness hard enough to rival diamonds, every muscle verging on a cramp and my throat is stinging and my eyes are on fire, hot, wet, and the door is closed, the blinds shut, and maybe I could just— this time— if I stayed quiet, I could—
I could—
But I don't.
I swallow once, twice, suck down, blink it away, then snap upright and get back to work. There's too much shit, not enough time.
Never enough time, not for that.
For you
(Remember to eat lunch.)
I don't.
I don't really remember talking to anyone either. Or finishing paperwork. Answering email. Clearing the inbox backlog, digital and otherwise, but the stack depletes, the numbers go down, Tina gives me shit from the doorway, and soon the peripheral lights tick off overhead in the foyer, a mop bucket rattles its rounds, darkness crept into my office at some point for a visit and now it's here to stay, just its quiet company along with the monitor blasting eye strain, clacking keys, tight shoulders, a headache, and then—
A familiar ass plops down on my desk and scares the shit out of me.
I jerk back in the chair, wheels rolling, hand over heart to keep it from pounding free and Mason looms above it all, bathed in harsh blues, deep shadows, a deeper frown, and eyes that refuse to obey the rules of any ambient illumination.
Right now? They're crinkled soft, even as they scrutinize.
He looks… worried.
When did he even open my door?
“You okay, sweetheart?”
“…Yeah,” I mutter. A lie, an obvious one, but I fight the urge to glance away and dare him to call me out anyway. “You need something, sunshine?”
A muscle in his jaw twitches. “You're late.”
“For what?”
We didn't make plans.
“Getting home.”
Fuck.
I sigh, slumping in the seat, and now I'm looking away, now I'm backing down, running a hand through my hair, mussing and tangling, just like he always does when he's uncertain.
And when the hell did I start doing that?
“Yeah, I'm still behind on shit from my vacation. I was gonna stay late tonight, try and catch up…” I explain, because Tina and I also didn't make plans this year.
(Because she's been marinating in smugness ever since I sighed and told her about the relationship. Because she dropped that shit-eating smirk earlier—that I remember, at least—dripping suggestion all over my office as she waggled her brows and winked and made obnoxious kissy faces until I shoved her out the door, but not before she told me to 'have lots of fun tonight, Alexandra.')
Sure.
“Sorry I didn't text. I… forgot.”
That tightness in my stomach does another loop, and I huff a quiet breath.
Stupid fucking note.
Mason folds his arms. “…The fuck is going on with you?”
Concern blunts the teeth of his words, not that there's any real bite. There never is, not with him, but I tense up anyway, expecting it, expecting to be ripped open.
Blood and pain.
I'd tense up no matter how he asked.
It's okay
(He's not Bobby.)
“Nothing,” I reply, folding my arms, eyes down, “just…”
It's okay
(He's not looking to hurt.)
Probably will anyway, but fuck it. I already know his answer.
Let's just get it over with.
“You didn't leave me a valentine earlier, did you?” My gaze snaps to his. “On my desk?”
Mason scoffs. “Why the hell would I do that?”
This time, it stabs instead of twists, higher up, somewhere in my chest. Something sharp instead of dull.
Disappointment? …Relief? I'm not sure.
Just that it stings.
And it's nighttime, so maybe he feels it too, and maybe that's why he unfolds his arms and shifts toward me, boot heel dangling by the bottom drawer while his voice drops to a softness that matches his accent. “What it say?”
“Nothing,” I repeat, even quieter than him. “Just someone fucking with me. It doesn't matter.”
It does
(Shouldn't lie, not to him. Don't need to. Don't want to, don't like it.)
Mason doesn't like it either, but he doesn't push it. Neither do I.
We look away from each other.
The office swelters around us, too stuffy, too small. Too silent and uncomfortable now to stay. I roll forward to save my work, then turn the computer off and Mason's already waiting for me by the door, a dark silhouette framed by distant fluorescent, my coat and bag hanging off his arms. He pulls me in while I put it all on, yanking me by lapels before abandoning them for the sweater on my lower back, the loose hair at my nape. His lips brush against mine in slow movements, soft nibbling, and he's whispering something to me with it all, with the strokes of his fingers and the circle of our chins, but I can't quite hear.
So ask
(He'll answer—and he won't lie.)
I swallow, then I do.
“…What kind of kiss was that?”
“Dunno.” He shrugs beneath my hands, breath tickling my face. “I want you to feel better.”
“Oh.”
A shadow flits behind his eyes.
“…And if he's still bothering you, I'm gonna break his fucking jaw again.”
I chuckle softly. “Pretty sure it wasn't him this time.”
“Good.” Mason nibbles another kiss, then smirks. “Might still do it anyway.”
That gets a laugh from both of us, one that sprawls into a pause, grey eyes locked to mine while our grins fade out and our breath catches on everything unspoken and nameless rushing in to take the space.
Honesty. It's what I try to speak. Trailing up from the emotional ooze, raw and sticky.
I hope he can fucking see it, hear it cry, but I wipe it off and whisper the words into shape anyway, cheeks flaming, just to be sure—
“I'm sorry, I just… I don't wanna talk about it now.”
—and he answers me with a brush of his mouth, with his tongue parting my lips, with the way he teases into me before licking deeper, the way he jerks our hips together then shoves, a knee between my thighs, my back into a wall, a door frame, a sharp corner, a low groan rumbling up his chest directly into mine and I hear it all this time, in his breathy panting at the edge of our kiss, the firmness in his fingers angling my face to his, the solid heat of his cock pressed hard against me, grinding slow while I cling tight and moan, I hear it all, but he sucks my lip in with a sharp inhale, rolls me around his mouth before releasing with a drag of teeth, and he murmurs it aloud anyway, just to be sure—
“I know, sweetheart. It's fine.”
—then he nips down hard, and it's hard not to smile, hard not to laugh, harder still not to nip that asshole right back, so I don't.
Hold back, that is.
Our lips are swollen and sore by the time the station door swings shut behind us.
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puffin-socks · 3 months ago
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Multiple-vehicle collision, Fort Worth, Texas, Accident SpaceX Starship SN10 could fly in February ֠Will it land successfully?
So yes, look. I know it’s taken a long time for sn9 to fly with a bunch of delays, but damn was it worth the wait. Remember all of these prototype flights are gearing up to that ultimate goal of sending humans to mars. There are always going to be a few stumbles along the way very late in the evening. On monday, approval was finally gained so that spacex could proceed with the launch. They then began preparations for the local areas, population to be evacuated on tuesday, ahead of potential flight attempts later in the day, ending more than a week of delays and a significant faa licensing issue. So then, that amazing launch day came with sn9 looking to match the success of sn8’s flight, with the ultimate prize being a smooth touchdown on the landing pad. However, that was not quite what we saw, not that this will be news to anyone that follows spacex closely, but sn9 suffered a similar fate to its predecessor, the flight itself performed flawlessly for almost six and a half minutes before an engine. Reload issue led to a hard landing and an energetic, rapid, unscheduled, disassembly all was actually trending well for a 2pm launch. However, a range violation delayed the launch to 24 minutes past the hour there. It was the ignition and gigantic plume of exhaust and dust sn9, gracefully lifted off the launch, stand and rode the pillar of fire with those three raptor engines flawlessly hurling the vehicle into the texas sky as starship ascended, one engine was shut down, followed soon by the Second, that was normal, of course, and was done to reduce the overall thrust to weight ratio, as the tanks emptied out just like with sn8, once it reached its maximum altitude of 10 kilometers, which is just a little over six miles.
It hovered for a short time. Completing a tank handoff where the raptor engine source of propellant was transferred from the main tanks to the header tanks, ready for that flip maneuver, their reaction control system started firing and aero surfaces started maneuvering into position to transition the vehicle into that horizontal skydive position to Complete the subsonic portion of the flight, the aft and forward flaps, were then utilized to hold the vehicle’s stability for a controlled descent back to the landing site. So, as the starship approached the landing pad, the intention was that two of the raptors would fire up to bring sn9 back to its vertical position. However, this did not go to plan as one of the two raptors failed to ignite correctly, because that second engine failed to light up. The ship was not able to stop its rotation from belly flop to vertical, which led the vehicle losing control and crashing on its leeward side at around 200 kilometers per hour, rgv aerial photography planned a flyover as soon as the temporary flight restrictions ended, providing the community With stunning footage of the wreckage right after the event, this is all due to the support that you all provide on his youtube and patreon. So thanks so much for allowing maruchio to do what he does here. The community, i think, would just be lost without these awesome perspectives. So, yes, as sn9, impacted the ground at a much higher velocity than sn8. The debris spread far and wide.
Now, as it was only one raptor that failed to ignite with the other one. Providing good thrust all the way to the ground, we can assume that it was just an issue with that single raptor and not a low pressure header tank issue, as we saw with sn8, meaning that they hopefully mitigated that specific issue. Now there is some info that we can take away from spacex’s footage here of the flip maneuver. That could explain why that single engine failed to reignite there’s, actually, a couple of items that have been seen to be blown out of the skirt during the flip. But it’s unknown at this point, if that had anything to do with the landing failure itself also, we can actually see flames at the head of the engine that failed all in all, though, without any solid proof from elon or spacex. This is very much looking like an engine failing and coming apart, as we saw there with sn9. If one of the two raptors fail to ignite, then there is no way to recover, which ultimately led to sn 9’s failed landing. Just recently, elon musk agreed with this and tweeted that it would be foolish of them to not start three engines and then immediately shut down one. This would mean that if one fails that they still have the other two raptors to carry out the flip maneuver and land successfully, that decision would automatically be decided based on the available data right after the relight.
He also added that if three engines are good, then the engine with the least lever arm would shut down. Now the lever arm in question is the relationship of the engines to the vehicle and its direction of motion, which, in this case, would be towards the ground brendan created a diagram to explain this more clearly to which elon immediately gave the thumbs up on these changes Are going to be implemented into sn10s test flight and with that extra redundancy we hope to see a successful landing next time as spacex’s webcast host and engineer, john in spruce, noted by the company’s live coverage, the primary purpose of sn9 was to gather as much data As possible throughout the subsonic flight, starship will need to be comfortable during this part of the flight in order to reliably perform these unorthodox skydiver style landings. Thankfully, there was no damage to the tank farm either, which should allow sn10 to continue through preparations to launch later. On this month, hopefully this time, the testing campaign is much more streamlined compared to its two predecessors, sn8 and sn9, who spent much more time on the pad than was really expected. Things are looking better for sn10, which has already been obviously rolled to the pad and has also undergone an ambient nitrogen test that verified that the vehicle is sound and leak free. The ultimate hope, of course, is that sn10 will undergo a single static fire before its own flight.
This, however, was also the plan for sn9, which ended up having multiple engine swaps and a total of six static fires. Late on monday, preparation for sn10s raptor installation was taking place with a single raptor engine being moved to the pad. Sn10 also has a greater number of those thermal protection system. Heat shield tiles than sn9 did as spacex works to gain even more data on the performance. During launch and landing now, i just wanted to share with you a little teaser of this beautiful video released this week by cosmic perspective on starship sn9s attempted landing. This just blew me away. The quality of this and the music and emotion is just breathtaking. It’S all output in super high resolution as well much higher than you’re seeing here so do yourself a favor and check it out from the link in the description and be sure to follow the team there as well. There is a lot more footage coming from cosmic perspective, so over to news at the build site. At present, the entire section of the booster number one’s liquid oxygen tank has now been stacked. This section here we see, will be stacked on top of the methane tank. Thank you, as always to the incredible bokeh chicago with nasa spaceflight capturing these details in between the excitement of course, of the main flight early in the week as well. The common dome for this same booster prototype was moved outside and then flipped to its correct orientation.
The massive 18 ring tall section that is currently in the high bay will be stacked on top of this common dome to enclose and complete the liquid oxygen tank section, along with that, its after dome was also rolled outside ready to be sleeved. Now, in the lead up to the flight, we also saw sn 15’s forward dome lifted into the mid bay, which was then stacked on top of its common dome. We also saw this sleeving of an aft stone. Presumably we think for sn16. Its nose cone barrel was also spotted earlier in the week as well. So to sum up, of course, we have brendan’s awesome diagram for the week showing all of these updates and more if you want to keep updated with all things, starship and space news. Please do consider, subscribing and taking a second to tap that like button, there is loads, more updates and live streams coming very soon with starship serial number 10 and super heavy prototypes and i’d love to share all that with you. So yes, now we all await sn10. For our next fix for the starship flight, the attention has already shifted to this flight and the likelihood of a successful landing where sn8 and sn9 bit the dust that leads us to some new unbelievable work from neopork, providing the most detailed textured models. There is a very good reason why i so frequently refer to the naked starship renders such as this one we see here or some of the belly flop, renders that just look so realistic.
It is the closest thing to a real photograph that i have seen so far with all of this crazy stuff rendered in autodesk maya for modelling arnold render for rendering images and animations and also zed, brush or z brush for organic modelling like rocks and creatures. He is a real pro at this too, with experience in maya going back almost 15 years and zed brush for a decade. So yes, until march of 2020, less than a year ago now he had never once modelled a rocket, but wow has that changed to what we see here now he had stumbled on and was inspired by, the works going on by rafael, kimmy and casper stanley, and Then he was just hooked and since then this has been the result. The continuous series of beautiful artwork that we’ve been promoting here on the channel ever since that time now he mostly enjoys the constant pursuit of realism, and we can really tell these realistic models. Of course, are notoriously difficult, because us humans are so good at spotting things that look just a little too perfect or move in an unrealistic way over the course of the year, though, it is getting harder and harder to distinguish these renders from reality, but, as he Says there is always a way to do better and take it one level higher. So yes, neopork found this new inspiration as an artist for the very first time with this community and believe me when i say you have inspired us mate, not only that you’ve inspired a string of other artists to follow in your passion.
He is also working on some really exciting new projects that he’s pouring a load of time into, and also some new collaborative efforts with other artists that could turn out to be pretty special, so stay tuned for that by following his twitter and supporting via patreon, where You can i just can’t, wait to see what is coming. The links to those are in the description now some really exciting news from spacex this week, as well with the announcement that, towards the end of this year, a falcon 9 is going to launch a mission called inspiration. 4.. This is going to be the very first time that a fully commercial mission is launched into orbit by spacex commercial, of course, meaning that this is in no part a government mission. This is going to be for all commercial astronauts. How cool is that now? Obviously, in 2020 spacex enabled the united states to again send humans back to space from american soil. That is a big achievement of its own and not to be downplayed. But this new milestone will add a new feather to spacex’s cap, with the founder and ceo of shift 4 payments jared isaacman to fly on board the crew dragon vessel alongside him will be three seats to fill up as well. He is actually going to be giving these three places to people that will be selected and announced in weeks ahead. There is more information on how this will be selected on the inspiration4.
com website, where it says that these spots are open to legal us residents 18 years and older. Now. This really is the start of what we are going to see more frequently loads of tourism missions. Heading up all the time, not just the lucky few government assigned astronauts. The four crew once selected are going to be receiving astronaut training by spacex themselves around the workings of the falcon 9 launch vehicle and the crew dragon, and that is going to also cover everything. From operating in zero g, orbital, mechanics and much much more, there is a great deal to learn everything from using the spacesuits emergency procedures and mission simulations. What an incredible experience that this would be. I just can’t wait to see who is selected for this flight. All we really know at this stage about the mission itself is that it’s going to be multiple days, and we can assume that it will be a typical low earth orbit. Concluding the mission, of course, will be the epic earth reentry and water landing near florida’s coast. Now things are definitely ramping up for 2021, with spacex, showing that they are serious about achieving that 40 or more launches. On february 3rd, it looked like we were going to see a double header, styling mission, just four hours apart with two separate launches, but one was obviously pushed back with the extra time needed to gather additional ground data. Instead, we saw a single starting mission with the 60 satellites there safely stowed away inside the fairings.
The weather was perfect with this launch attempt and as if two starships side by side this week, wasn’t enough just take a look at this picture here with pad ‘a at kennedy, space center occupied as well. So yes, at t0 the nine merlin engines roared to life hoisting the vehicle skyward on thursday february 4th at 1 19 am. We saw there the main engine cut off the second stage: separation, just beautiful views there of the second stage, lighting up the first stage grid fins there also great as well to see the telemetry readings for both stages, one and two. At the same time. That is a nice touch there that we haven’t typically seen before. I hope that that is going to become a regular change now. This was a tough landing too, with elon tweeting here saying that it was a tricky one due to high winds and seas. All the same, it was another perfect bullseye from the falcon 9 booster terrific work there now back to the payload, and there was a coast phase to complete before a quick one. Second, engine firing, as it passed by my neighborhood here with tasmania, getting a quick mention from kate in the stream, and there we go deployment there of the payload in yet another seamless mission once again, spacex making it look too easy when we know full well that It is not now in conclusion to this segment: i’ve just got to say wow here from this breathtaking clip of the falcon 9 flying right through the view of the moon here now, if you are not subscribed to trevor here on youtube, you are missing out.
There is huge preparation to get a shot like this well done mate. The link to that video is in the description, go check it out. Some news has emerged recently from sirius, xm and maxar technologies. The satellite launched by spacex in december last year has encountered failures with some of the payload units during in orbit testing. We’Ll talk more about that in a moment, but before that a big, thank you to curiositystream for sponsoring this video. Now this amazing subscription streaming service provides thousands of award winning documentaries. Of course, if you’re anything like me, the space related content such as this great documentary talking about the mars perseverance rover, will catch your eye immediately. This episode of breakthrough lets us meet perseverance in greater detail. This is nasa’s latest rover and it is a beast as it heads towards the groundbreaking re entry into the atmosphere of mars. We are closer to researching that big question: did life once exist on the red planet? Ancient rivers and vast lakes now gone may hold the silent signs of past life, but that silence may well soon be broken. The perseverance rover is about to be hunting for martian life, and that is a story that i can’t wait to see. Play out now i’ve been a subscriber to curiosity stream for a long time and i’ve loved. So many of the documentaries and series offered here now if space content isn’t your thing, perhaps you’re interested in history – nature, food, travel, science and technology.
There are many great libraries here for you to explore and you can even stream this incredible content worldwide anytime on a range of supported devices. If you would like to help support me and would like to check it out, give it a try by heading to curiositystream.com, marcus house, with that you can sign up for access at just 14.99 for the entire year. You’Ll find that link in the description below now. As far as we know, the issues with sirius xm7 has nothing to do with the performance of the falcon 9 itself. It seems instead, like the satellite itself, has had a failure of the payload units. The reason why this has happened, or the extent of the damage is currently unknown, yet sirius xm hopes to be able to recover this satellite and continue operations. The launch itself was originally, of course, delayed from december 11th in 2020 and spacex sent sirius xm to agi stationary orbit a few days later on the 13th. This is just one of a pair of very high powered digital audio radio satellites with xm8 set to launch later this year. It was maxar technologies who built the xm7 satellite. So yes, in no way have these issues been attributed to the spacex launch vehicle in any way that performed its role perfectly. So the issues are, of course under investigation, but they’re not going to impact the business operations or the other operational satellites belonging to the company.
Xm7 was meant to provide 15 years or more of serviceability working in conjunction with the current fleet of sirius xm satellites. This particular satellite apparently had an insurance policy, valued at 225 million dollars that not only included the launch phase and the deployment, but it also included the first entire year of operation that just goes to show right there. How expensive these satellites are. Just compare that for a moment of the launch cost of the falcon 9, which last we heard sits at around 50 million dollars when launched with a reused booster like this one was. That means that the insurance policy alone there is worth over four times the entire launch vehicle. That seems pretty nuts. To me. I guess this is a good reminder that insurance for not only the launch but the operational period, is very important, so maxa have stated they’re assisting sirius with investigations, despite having already handed over the satellite after launch. We do hope that they find a way to salvage the situation and can quickly determine what happened all while, of course, xm8 is still being built. Now we are huge supporters of the transition to electric vehicles here on the channel and our partner ev offers the ability for travelers in australia to rent an electric vehicle and tour the country in style. Also, if you have an electric vehicle in australia, you can earn money when you’re not using your car by sharing it with others.
If any of that sounds interesting to you, the link is in the description, huge thanks to my amazing, patrons and youtube members here. The support that you are all providing allows us to increase the time that we can spend, and that is all thanks to the growing list of supporters. Thank you to each and every one of you as support increases that just helps the entire team. So if you like what we’re doing and you’d like to join us head to patreon.com marcus house or, alternatively, you can join up as a youtube member that gives you access to interact with me more directly via the linked roles on our discord server. You can have your name listed right here, like all these other amazing people, and you can also have earlier access to watch these videos before anyone else massive. Thank you as well to the production crew, assisting greatly with video production and, of course, to the quality control squad here for helping me research and proof the material for all of these videos. If all of this interests you and you’d like to be a part of it, follow me on twitter and please do get in touch in the tile in the bottom left. Today we have my video last week talking about all things spacex with starship and transporter one. We show off some brilliant work by cory and talk a little about boeing style on as a next launch attempt in the top right is my latest video in the bottom right content that youtube has selected from my channel.
Just for you. Thank you.
https://trendybuzz.news/02/11/multiple-vehicle-collision-fort-worth-texas-accident-spacex-starship-sn10-could-fly-in-february-will-it-land-successfully/
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bellarxse · 3 months ago
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february 2nd: interruption
the world turned sweet (AO3) Nate hates the rain – hates the way it punishes the flowers in the grounds of Tulip Hall, hates that it has spoiled his companions’ moods.
Hates that it has thwarted his plans for a ride with the Captain.
The Captain, though, is genial enough. And also, it seems, an inveterate flirt, eyes lidded as he brushes off Nate’s grousing about the weather from the other end of the chesterfield. “I can hardly complain of spending more time with you, here.”
“I—” Nate is grateful for the low, ambient light of the hearth in the drawing room to hide even the barest hint of a flush on his face, turning his face away to collect himself and not be drawn in by the way the Captain’s eyes shine with fire beneath dark waves.
“I should like that too, Captain—”
“Mickey. I insist.” The Captain’s—Mickey’s—intervention is gentle, and a muscled arm stretches out across the back of the chesterfield as if to bridge the gap between them, and Nate turns to face him as if following some long-forgotten instinct.
“Mickey.” Mickey’s eyes are warm at Nate’s words, and he smiles at Nate widely enough to make Nate’s heart ache.
“I had merely hoped that I would be able to show you more of the estate.” The weather outside was far too inclement, winds howling and sky steel-grey, though thick, dark eyebrows disappear under lush tresses as Mickey reassures Nate.
“I had expected nothing more from my first English winter, you need not worry.” Mickey draws closer to him and slowly—so slowly—raises a calloused finger to trace the flush high on Nate’s cheekbones, making Nate’s eyes flutter shut for a moment.
“Though I had not expected the winter blooms to be so captivating.” Mickey’s voice is sinfully deep, and when Nate opens his eyes again Mickey is right there, pupils ink-like as normally bright blue eyes flicker down to watch as Nate licks his lower lip reflexively, his mouth inexplicably dry all of a sudden.
Nate’s breath hitches, and he dimly recalls his governess teaching him about Isaac Newton’s theories and—
And then the Lieutenant arrives, and the moment shatters like cristallo in Nate’s hands.
Mickey leans back as if burned, scowls at the Lieutenant who affects not to notice the irritation. The three of them sit in silence for a while before Nate requests more lights to be brought in, so at least he can escape into another world in one of his books.
Tries to, at least. Every other page, his eyes are drawn back to Mickey, who has not stopped looking at him in what feels like centuries, sometimes with a small, secret smile that Nate feels warm his soul.
They continue thus (the Lieutenant having stubbornly resisted any of the Captain’s increasingly less gentle suggestions that he might like to tend the horses, or check the bags, or be somewhere else) until it is dark without and Mickey and the Lieutenant must leave to return to Sutherland’s townhouse.
“We will see you soon, your Grace.” Mickey’s tone is thick and dark with promise, and Nate does not sleep a wink that night.
**
The day after his valiant attempts to stop his commanding officer making a fool of himself, Mason is bored, and tired, and bored, trying to explain something very simple to a man in his late twenties who should know better. “You know that you cannot stay here.”
Mickey looks bored too – or tries to, but the tightness around his eyes betrays the affectation, even as he tries to cover it with a sharp laugh. “I know. But why can I not enjoy myself while I am here?”
It is not as if Mason does not know fun – has not indulged himself in the pleasures of the flesh (though not recently, not since they first arrived in London, and he does not like to think about why that might be). Instead, he deflects and defends Richmond with a scowl.
“He deserves to be more than a plaything, you—”
“He is.” Mickey is harsher than Mason remembers ever seeing him, even on the blood-soaked battlefield at Santa Maura, blue eyes now ablaze and teeth bared in a snarl.
“Prove it.” Mason is shocked at himself, that he is involving himself in Mickey’s business so – but he Nate deserves better than to be cast aside, and Mickey is hurtling towards a precipice that Mason cannot save him from.
“I—” Mickey, for all his bluster on the battlefield, looks like a lost, little boy then, blue eyes wide with what looks like fear and soft, Mason realises, with unshed tears.
“I’ve never—” Mickey has not said much about his past, but Mason knows he had wandered half the globe before his 22nd nameday, lost and adrift – little wonder, then, that he has not known this kind of companionship before, even if he is well-versed in the other.
“Talk to him.” Mason tries to calm his voice, squeezes Mickey’s well-muscled shoulder gently, even as he chides him. “Get your head out of your arse.”
A wet-sounding hum of assent and a nod, before Mickey turns to face the wall to compose himself.
~
Nate does not want to interrupt them, is perfectly prepared to return to the library from whence he came – but he fancies that he hears his name on Mickey’s—Mickey’s—lips and cannot resist listening.
“You know that you cannot stay here.” The Lieutenant’s accent is as familiar as Mickey’s, as is the flat tone of his voice.
What is not familiar, is the harsh bark of laughter that leaves Mickey, whose laughter is usually warm and lilting, musical in its peaks and troughs.
“I know. But why can I not enjoy myself while I am here?”
Nate feels quite ill, all of a sudden, feels something within him slam to the floor like a leaden weight. Jerks away from the door and lets the book fall through his fingers as he flees to his father’s folly, where he stays until the storm outside has grown to a crescendo, loud and wild enough to match the storm of his own heart.
Nate jerks away from the door, flees to his father’s folly, where he stays until the storm outside has grown to a crescendo, loud and wild enough to match the storm of his own emotions.
**
Nate can hear the men searching for him and for a selfish moment does not care, does not want to care (caring hurts, it hurts to have been used so). Then thinks of what might happen if they do not find him soon, thinks of Riona and how the scandal might affect her with their arrangement in place, and ventures out into the storm, one step at a time.
The wind is punishing, and he welcomes this pain, drinks it in instead of savouring his own.
“Richmond!” And too late, Nate realises that even when trying to lose himself in the storm he has fallen back into Mickey’s orbit.
Mickey walks slowly up to him, dark hair plastered to his cheeks and blue eyes wild with a worry that does not seem to dissipate even though he has found his quarry. “We were worried sick, what—”
Nate brushes the outstretched hand away and carries on walking, carries on even when he loses his footing in the mud and skids down the bank.
“Don’t walk away from me!” Mickey’s voice is little more than a howl, primal and wanting, and Nate turns to face him with lips pulled back in the nearest thing to a snarl he has ever managed.
“Why? Is this not fun?” Nate’s voice is harsh, harsher than it has ever been, and he enjoys the flinch that draws from Mickey, even as Mickey strides confidently down the bank and stands before him.
“Fun is us being able to laugh in the warm. Safe and happy.” Mickey’s eyes are soft as he brushes hair away from Nate’s cheek, and Nate’s skin burns under Mickey’s touch, calloused fingers sanding away his hurt.
“But you—”
“I would not – you deserve more. That doesn’t mean I can’t want—” Exactly what Mickey wants must go unanswered for now, as Nate bends to capture Mickey’s lips, tastes the rain and salt on his tongue, and is not sure whose it is as he tangles a hand in thick, dark hair and devours the man in front of him, who offers himself willingly with a gasp.
“Your Grace!” Mr. Jenkins’ voice can just be hear over the storm and over Nate’s thundering heartbeat.
Mickey laughs helplessly, even as he steps away reluctantly to look up at Nate as best he can with the rain in his eyes.
“Always with the interruptions.”
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douchebagbrainwaves · 3 months ago
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HERE'S WHAT I JUST REALIZED ABOUT POWER
So saying startups should move to Silicon Valley, the single best thing they could do might be to create a new language, it's because you think it's better in some way than what people already had. Our startup, Viaweb, was built to be sold.1 The same thing happened during the Mississippi and South Sea Bubbles. Average age of their founders: 24. You see the same program written in two languages, and one that other big technology companies will no doubt try to duplicate.2 They would be in the software business there is an ongoing struggle between the pointy-headed academics, and another equally formidable force, the pointy-haired boss's opinion ever change? For example, it is no fun to be at the bottom, nor noblesse oblige at the top of the base language a language for the one above. Because of the circumstances in which they encounter it, children tend to misunderstand wealth.
In 1995 we thought only professional writers were entitled to publish their ideas, and that means it has to cost. I got was $12. The answer, I think, is going to happen to you, because both acquirers and investors judge you by your level of commitment. It might actually carry some weight.3 Fortran, C, C, C, C, C, Java, and Visual Basic—it is not clear whether you can afford the risk.4 Within large organizations, and the rest of the company through the COO. I come home to Boston.5 Into this already bad situation comes the third problem: Sarbanes-Oxley loosened.
Technology often should be cutting-edge. But if you had no users, it would at least make a great pseudocode.6 So future founders may not have to accept new CEOs if they don't want to offend Big Company by refusing to meet. When times get bad, hackers go to grad school. As with exercise, improvements beget improvements. And then you're really in trouble. Indeed, as with expensive cars, if you're prepared to live on ramen. This is an interesting question.7 And that also means there will always be undervalued by large organizations, because the harder it is to sell something to you, because odds are they'll have to deal with this is to collect them together in one place for a certain number of hours each day. Fortunately, this flaw should be easy to fix. When a decision causes you to develop software twenty times faster than you'd ever had to before, they expected you to answer support calls, administer the servers, design the web site, cold-call customers, find the company office space, and go out and discover startups when they're young, before VCs have puffed them up into companies that cost $100 million to acquire. So performance in the future.8
Part of the reason I say this is optimism: it seems that it should be distributed equally. There may be cases where this is a constant problem when you're painting still lifes. We're up against a hard one here. Surely a field like that would be dominated by fearsome startups with five million dollars of VC money each.9 This lets me get ip addresses and prices intact.10 No, probably not.11 But beyond that they didn't want to be able to find statistical differences between these and my real mail. Research. One often hears a policy criticized on the grounds that it would increase the income gap between rich and poor.
But partly it was because our lives were at times genuinely miserable. So what if some of the money to pay you.12 In fact, some might argue that it was too late to change.13 It's much safer to invest in them.14 No one I knew did it, but several planned to, and some may have tried. Why do people move to suburbia? If you run every day, you'll probably get something better. This is the sort of society that gets created in American secondary schools.15 The Airbnbs themselves never even saw these emails at the time, and that women will all be trained in the martial arts.16
You have to be high, and if there's a limit on the number of things people want, and that what we've seen so far is nothing compared to what's coming. But as technology has grown more important, the power of nerds has grown to reflect it.17 Inefficient software isn't gross. So the rate of evolution in mathematical notation than, say, transportation or communications.18 Empirically, boldness wins.19 Now anything that became fashionable during the Bubble robbed their companies by granting themselves options doesn't mean options are a bad idea. The Airbnbs themselves never even saw these emails at the time. I assumed it was derived from the same root as tacit and taciturn, and that you sometimes have to figure out what's actually wrong with him, and treat that. But Occam's razor suggests the truth is less flattering. Editorials quote this kind of lonely squirming to avoid it will increasingly be COOs rather than CEOs. These things don't scale linearly. Values are what have types, not variables, and assigning or binding variables means copying pointers, not what they want to be able to get into the best deals at all.
There is one thing companies can do short of structuring themselves as sponges: they can stay small.20 The root cause of variation in income is a sign of how much programmers like to be alone, so when kids opt out of the way into Lisp, they could always just.21 While refutation generally entails quoting, quoting doesn't necessarily imply refutation.22 The fact is, despite all the nonsense we heard during the Bubble about the new economy. How could any technology that old even be relevant, let alone of Bayesian spam filtering per se seem to have just humiliated them technologically. The number of people who want to work on. Why? And I think that's precisely why people put it off for as long as possible. The mere fact is so overwhelming that it may seem strange to imagine that it could be.23 In 1900, if you combine them, suggest interesting possibilities: 1 the hundred-year language now, it would arguably be gross even if they ran on a fuel which would never run out and generated no pollution. The reason we don't see the opportunities all around us is that we adjust to however things are, and are often mistaken about what they really want is the development team and the software they've built so far.
Between December 10 2002 and January 10 2003 I got about 1750 spams. You'll find more interesting things by looking at the world than you could steal it.24 I still wonder if this was a smart idea.25 Just like the committee approving software purchases. They like to get you? Typefaces to be cut in metal were initially designed with a brush on paper. And there is another, newer language, called Python, whose users tend to look down on Perl, and more waiting in the wings.
Notes
If early abstract paintings seem more interesting than random marks would be lost in friction. Cit. But this is the only one.
It's hard to judge for yourself and that don't scale is to claim that their explicit goal at Y Combinator was a sort of community. You'll be lucky if fundraising feels pleasant enough to incorporate a prediction of quality in the 1990s, except that no one thinks of calling that unfair.
The story of creation in the U.
After a while we might think it was putting local grocery stores out of them, initially, to the size of the number of situations.
There were a first approximation, it's easy for small children to consider themselves immortal, because the kind that evolves naturally, and for filters it's textual. You'll be lucky if fundraising feels pleasant enough to supply the activation energy for enterprise software. That's not a commodity or article of commerce. Viaweb, if you have 8 months of runway or less, then add beans don't drain the beans, and help keep the next three years, it would be enough to do right.
4%, Macintosh 18. Not in New York.
Roger Bannister is famous as the cause. To spread them. Oddly enough, the underlying cause is the accumulator generator in other ways.
The cause may have no connections, you'll be well on your thesis. This is a particularly clever one in an empty room, and they were still so small that no one is harder, the light bulb, the world, and the hundreds of thousands of small and use whatever advantages that brings.
No. If Paris is where all the red counties. A significant component of piracy is simply that it refers to features you could beat the death spiral by buying politicians.
Microsoft, not all do. Which is precisely because they wanted, so they had to write about the idea of starting a startup, unless it was wiser for them.
The ordering system was small. The image shows us, they may then, depending on their appearance.
When you fund a startup, and the low countries, where you wanted it? One YC founder told me about a form that asks for your work. Could it not grow just as you can ask us who's who; otherwise you may have allotted for the same reason 1980s-style knowledge representation could never have left PARC.
I call it ambient thought. They're motivated by examples of how to appeal to space aliens, but hardly any type we tell kids are probably not far from the compromise you'd have reached after lots of exemptions, especially for individuals. Even the cheap kinds of work have different time quanta.
I'm not going to give their associates the title partner, not you. Indifference, mainly. Basically, the number of discrepancies currently blamed on various forbidden isms. Some blue counties are false positives reflecting the remaining power of Democractic party machines, but Javascript now works.
That's probably too much to say whether the program is no personnel department, and more pervasive though. Wufoo was based in Tampa and they succeeded. It was born when Plato and Aristotle looked at the valuation turns out only to your brain that you're not trying to figure this out. That's a good way to pressure them to make software incompatible.
Then when we were working on some project of your identity. They don't know of any that died from releasing something full of bugs. Maybe that isn't the last step is to protect one's children seems weaker, judging from things people have seen, when they decide you're a YC startup and you have a competent startup lawyer handle the deal for you. A round about the same thing twice.
She ventured a toe in that respect. The Industrial Revolution, England was already the richest country in the standard series AA paperwork aims at a regularly increasing rate to impress investors. So if they want. Some of Aristotle's contribution?
Apparently the mall was not just a Judeo-Christian concept; it's random; but it wasn't. Cit. On the way they have to pass.
But if idea clashes got bad enough, but they can't hire highly skilled people to do with the best ways to help a society generally is to tell them about your conversations with potential acquirers. It was revoltingly familiar to anyone who had recently arrived from Russia. It would have for one another indirectly through the founders: agree with them in advance that you're not sure. Mueller, Friedrich M.
You've gone from guest to servant.
So if it's dismissed, it's cool with us if the current options suck enough. I'm not saying you should always get a job to get them to make peace. How to Make Wealth in Hackers Painters, what that means the right question, which people used to wonder if that got built this way.
I make it easy. I don't know of any that died from releasing something full of bugs, and owns significant equity in it.
It is still possible, to allow multiple urls in a signal.
What I should probably pack investor meetings too closely, you'll be able to distinguish between gravity and acceleration.
Cit. One father told me: One way to create a silicon valley. Users judge a site not as a game, you can see the Valley, MIT Press, 1996.
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justthehiddleswrites · 3 months ago
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Follow My Lead | Tom Hiddleston x OFC | Chapter 1 | Either you met someone or you didn’t? This isn’t Schrödinger’s Cat
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A/N: This will update every Thursday.  There are 13 chapters.  There are all sorts of kinds of D/s relationships.  This is the one I choose to write this time.  
Pairing: Tom Hiddleston x OFC (Vivian Swann)
Summary: Tom and Vivian have both been unlucky in love, searching for something outside of the bounds of a typical relationship.  When the two of them connect via a dating app, Tom is introduced to the idea of being submissive to Vivian.  Which is the one thing he never knew he needed.  Under the firm hand of Vivian, Tom learns what it means to submit and Vivian learns what it means to be in a loving dominant relationship.  But not everyone seems to understand what they have and the best intentions can destroy the strongest relationship.
This Chapter: After another failed relationship and a less than positive interaction at a bar, Tom joins an online dating app in hopes to find a relationship that will meet his needs.  Not that he knows what that is.  Vivian Swann knows exactly what she wants and is not afraid to take the steps to get it.
Warnings for story: Dominant/submissive relationship (sub!Tom), lots of smut including but not limited to: vaginal sex, oral sex (male and female receiving), edging, denial, teasing, use of restraints, spanking, multiple orgasm, anal play, use of toys.
Taglists are open!  Let me know if you wish to be added! Thank you for reading!!
-
Two Years Earlier
“This isn’t working for me, Vivian.” Jonathan grabbed his clothes from the floor.
She rolled onto her side to face him. “What’s the problem?” Vivian knew the answer, but she was going to make Jonathan say it out loud.
His shoulders slumped as he shot a derisive glare at Vivian. “You know what the problem is.”
“Tell me.” She pursed her lips.
“THIS!! VIVIAN!! Fucking this!” His hands flying around. “You can’t let go. Everything is your way! Your choice. Where we eat. What we do. The sex we have. I get no say!”
“I know what I like, Jonathan. And I was very upfront with you. I never lied.” She sat up on the bed, the sheet fell away.
He sighed. “No, you never lied. But I want to be ‘the man’, ‘the guy’. Not the little puppy following you around.”
She drew along the mattress with her nail. “You make it sound like a bad thing. Like I’m wrong.”
Jonathan tugged on his jeans. The ones she hated. They were too baggy and too light and worn.
“It’s just not me. I’m sure there is a guy somewhere out there who would be more than willing to be your pet. But that guy is not me.” He pulled on the shirt she bought for him. “I’ll come by later for my stuff.”
Vivian jerked open the drawer and grabbed a small box of things.
“No need to bother. Here is the shirt you left and a pair of underwear. If you don’t mind, I’ll just toss the toothbrush and razor.”
“And your stuff at my place?”
“What stuff?” She strolled across the room and pulled on her robe. “If you find any of my stuff, burn it or throw it out. I don’t care.”
Jonathan nodded. “Wow. I guess this is goodbye.”
Vivian kissed his cheek. “I guess it is. Goodbye Jonathan.”
She waited until the front door clicked before slumping against the bed, holding her head in her hands.
-
Two Years Earlier
“What do you want to do, darling?” Tom asked, stretched out on his couch.
His girlfriend paced in front of him. Her irritation grew by the moment. “You pick, Tom.”
He sighed. “I don’t care. I’ll do whatever you want.”
She stopped in her tracks. Tom turned his head to stare at her. Her eyes glaring and toe tapping against the living room rug.
“I thought that is what you wanted.” he answered, sincerely. “To be in charge.”
She placed her hands on her hips. “Not all the fucking time, Thomas!”
His brows raised as he sat up. “But I don’t care about where we eat. Or which movie we see. As long as you are there. So just pick.”
“No! I’m not going to pick, Thomas! Oh my God!” She stomped off.
Tom rolled his eyes and took off after her. “What is the problem? If you tell me, I am certain I can—”
“You’re too nice, Tom!” She tugged her jacket.
“That’s a problem?!” Tom blinked. “That I am too nice?” He stared at her in disbelief. Tom always believed it to be one of his better qualities.
“UGH! Yes! You exuded all this ‘bad boy’ ‘big dick energy’ and then…” She imitated an explosion with her hands. “POOF! It disappears into… well… you.”
“Which is?” Tom grew irritated.
“An overgrown puppy desperate for attention.” She grabbed her purse. “I wanted a bad boy. A man to take charge. Not this, some little boy who looks to me to tell me what to do. Everywhere. And I mean everywhere.”
“I can change… try to be—” He stuttered. He realized what was happening.
“It’s over, Tom. I’m leaving.”
His eyes welled with tears. “I wish you would stay.”
She sighed and cupped his cheek. “No, you don’t. Not really. I can’t give you what you want.”
“But I can give you—”
“NO!” She pushed her arms straight at her sides. “No, you can’t. And I can’t keep lying. And faking it. Not even for great sex.”
Tom nodded and blinked, the tears coating his lashes and cheeks. “I guess it’s goodbye then.”
“It is.” She opened the door. “If anyone asks, I’ll just say it was the long distance thing.”
“I’ll tell Luke the same.”
She left without another word. Tom punched the wall with his fist.
“Every fucking time.”
Present Day
Vivian slipped into The Bloomsbury Club late that Tuesday night, craving the burn of an aged single malt whisky on her throat. She sidled up to the bar and order the Macallan 18 year, neat. A low whistle from the other end of the bar cut through the low hum of voices and ambient music.
“That is quite an order.” The man’s accent British, his tone resonant. Like the sounds of an upright bass being played by a virtuoso.
“Jealous?” She didn’t bother to turn to face him.
“On the contrary. I have one of my own.” A half filled glass swirled in her peripheral vision. Vivian spied a gold cufflink in a French cuff. What the man lacked in manners, he appeared to make up for it in style.
She raised the glass, eyes still forward. “Cheers.”
And in one gulp, Vivian necked the whisky. Her throat burn just as she hoped, and her shoulders relaxed as warmth enveloped her chest. She set the glass on the bar and motioned the bar to refill.
“Same for me. And put her drinks on my tab.” the man asked the bartender.
“No.” Vivian waved at the bartender. “I’ll pay for my own drinks.”
She slapped down three £50 notes on the bar and grabbed her drink to find a dark corner to nurse it in peace. The man in question stepped in front of her, hands held up in a gesture of defeat.
“Apologies if I offended, that wasn’t my intention.”
Vivian took a quick assessment of the man from his blond locks, curly but trimmed short. A suit cut in a manner that screamed “bespoke” and an expression of a puppy being scolded for piddling on the floor. That made her stop.
“I’m listening.” she tapped her heel and crossed her arms.
He folded his arms across his chest. “I was out of line back there. I was trying to be cute, and it came across as domineering and rude. Allow me to make it up to you.” He extended his hand. “The name’s Tom.”
She leaned away from him, as though she needed to see the entire picture. She shook his hand, squeezing hard. “Vivian.”
Tom chuckled like a boy on a first date. “That’s some grip. Can I get a last name?”
“No. Can I?”
He smiled a tight smile. “Not yet.” Tom clapped his hands together. “Now what can I do to make amends?”
“Buy me an appetizer.” She quickly demanded.
Tom blinked. He did not expect her to have an answer at the ready. “Any preference?”
“Guess.” Vivian pushed past him and sat down at the closest empty table. She stretched her legs in front of her, crossing them. She smirked as Tom’s pupils widened. “I’m waiting.”
Tom jumped as his mind snapped back to reality and out from between Vivian’s legs. “Right away.” He hustled off to the bar. He waved the bartender over. “Do you know that lady over there in the heels?”
The bartender craned to glance over Tom’s shoulder. Vivian sipped her drink, disinterested in Tom’s predicament. “Sort of. Why do you want to know?” His eyes narrowed at Tom.
“What appetizer does she usually order? At first glance, I would say the tuna…” the bartender grimaced. Tom’s brows dropped. For whatever reason, he wanted to impress. “… but my heart says sausage roll.”
“I would go with your heart, dude.”
Tom let go his breath and his shoulders relaxed away from his ears. “One sausage roll, please.”
The bartender smiled. “Give me five minutes.”
Tom turned around and gave Vivian a brief salute with a smile. She sipped her whisky. Vivian hated to admit how nice Tom was put together, in particular the way his suit pants hug that firm ass. For a moment, she contemplated giving him her number but decided otherwise based on his abhorrent behavior.
Tom returned with an enormous smile on his face as he placed the sausage roll in front of her. On the inside, he impressed Vivian. Most men peg her for the sashimi. It was not enough to earn a phone number, but she would like to continue to chat with Tom. Help take her mind off the day.
“Good job, Tom.” She praised and patted the seat next to her.
Tom beamed as he sat down. She cut the roll in bite-sized pieces and dunked one in the tomato relish and popped it into her mouth. Vivian hummed in appreciation as she swallowed the first, second and third bite. Tom squirmed next to her but said nothing.
“Would you like a bite?” she offered.
“Only if you aren’t going to it all yourself. It’s yours. I’m just happy you are enjoying it. I can one for myself later.”
She smiled while scooting the smallest piece to the side of plate closest to Tom and offered him the fork. He stabbed the piece and placed it in his mouth. His eyes closed as he chewed, enjoying the salt and fat on the food. A small moan escaped his lips.
“That’s delicious. Thank you.” He handed the fork back. “I will certainly order one myself in a while.”
“You’re welcome.”
Tom wiped his lips of a few errant crumbs. “So what happened today to warrant two shots of whisky?”
“Depositions.” Vivian responded, continuing to eat her food.
“A barrister? Impressive. Where did you go to school?”
“Oxford. What about you? Where did you matriculate?”
“Cambridge and then RADA.”
Vivian blinked, working to hide her surprise. “Actor or director?”
“Actor. But you never know what the future holds. Tell me do you—”
Vivian finished up her food and stood up, ready to head home. “I appreciate the food, Tom. It is time for me to head home. Thank you again for the apology.”
Tom scrambled to his feet. “My pleasure. Can I get your number?”
Vivian threw a pained smile. “I’m afraid you’re not my type.” she half-lied. Physically, Tom was exactly what she wanted. Her other tastes, however, skewed less vanilla.
“Would you give me the chance to convince you otherwise?” He pleaded with wide baby blue eyes.
“Sorry.” She held her hands up and shrugged her shoulders. “Have a good evening.”
“You as well.” He extended his hand again, and Vivian shook again. His sad face brightened for a moment. “Still a strong grip.”
“It’s a no.” And with a nod, Vivian walked out of the bar as Tom’s eyes followed her until she disappeared from view.
“Damn it, Tom.” he cursed. “Way to mess things up.” He slumped back into his chair and swallowed the rest of his drink in one gulp, savoring the burn.
-
Vivian’s entire body ached by the time she stepped inside her Camden apartment. She unpinned her hair, letting her dark locks to fall past her shoulders. After hanging up her bag, she trudged to the bedroom, toeing off her black patent stilettos, replacing them onto the rack, and folded her jacket over the back of a chair in the corner.
Vivian contemplated whether she wanted a shower or bath. She decided she couldn’t be bothered with running a bath and flicked on the shower and clipped up her hair, determined to extend her blow out as long as possible.
The scalding water sizzled on her skin as she stepped into the glass enclosure, and the burdens of the day melted away. Her mind wandered as she lathered up using her favorite body wash, back to the Bloomsbury Club. Back to Tom.
“Damn.” Her fingers slipped between her legs, finding her folds wet with more than just the water. She teased herself, fantasizing of Tom, naked on her bed, desperate to please her.
She finished up, removing her fingers and washing off the soap before turning off the water. Vivian toweled off and completed her nighttime routine, slipping on her favorite satin pajama sheet. Black tap pants and matching chemise.
She sighed as she slipped between the cool sheets and drifted off, thinking of Tom’s ass in that suit.
-
Tom left the bar soon after Vivian did, disappointed in himself more than anything. A gorgeous, assertive woman landed in front of him and he got cute. Just another in a long list of dating and relationship fuck ups. Like his crazy hours or fledgling celebrity wasn’t enough, he got in his own way to find the relationship he craved. And what he craved was not a traditional relationship. After his most recent failed relationship, Tom did a bit of soul searching and a lot of research. He was pretty sure he knew what he wanted, but he wouldn’t know unless he tried it out. Which was proving difficult.
He stared down at his computer, opened to the dating website. “Fuck it.” he muttered as he sat down to write up his profile. Tom cracked his knuckles and typed, after about an hour, he hit submit.
“Let’s see what happens.”
-
Vivian checked her email that morning before heading into the office, grateful for a day light on meetings. A notification popped up from the dating site she signed up for three months ago after her 36th birthday.
“William…” She checked out the profile pic. The man in the photo was in silhouette, standing in a tropical jungle. Vivian clicked on the profile.
While a private school British education would lend itself to a life more ordinary, filled with tradition, I forged my own path to the stage and screen. Dedicating myself to my craft, I have made a name for myself as a consummate professional and a hard worker. And it has blessed me beyond measure.
My friends and family would describe me as loyal, kind, independent, assertive, not as funny as I think I am, and passionate. They would groan at my penchant to quote Shakespeare on a whim and prefer I keep things low key. It would surprise them to know I desire to serve and obey behind closed doors.
William Booth once said, “The greatness of the man’s power is the measure of his surrender.” This is the beginning of my journey on my path of surrender. If you would like to accompany on this journey or at least offer some directions, I’d love to hear from you.
Vivian licked her lips as she re-read the profile. Even though the dating site was vanilla, the man in this profile was looking for something of a different flavor. Could this be a submissive male? She hit the reply button.
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. What is yours?
She hit send and readied herself for the day.
-
Tom’s phone beeped during his morning jog. The fifth time so far. His profile got a lot of attention, but nothing sparked his interest. He would know it when he saw it. The message was short. Just two sentences.
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. What is yours?
Tom smiled. She quoted Lao Tzu. He clicked on the profile. The face staring back at him on the screen was familiar.
“Vivian.” he purred, stopping his jog to read her entire profile.
A less than perfect childhood only steeled myself to work harder and smarter in every way. I scraped and fought my way to the top of my profession, with the tenacity of a dog with a bone.
My friends would tell you I am fierce, independent, smart, loyal and a force to be reckoned with. My dominance carries through all aspects of my life. From picking out restaurant to dine at to the men I encounter.
“No shit.” Tom flashed back to last night.
I take all things in life seriously, including my opinion that there are no villains, just two sides to a story. Chocolate is often better than sex, and pineapple never belongs on pizza.
Looking for someone to serve as my other half. If you are not feeling whole or believe something is missing, chat me up.
Tom laughed. Not only was Vivian interested in his profile, but by appeared to be a dominant. He couldn’t believe his luck.
He typed out a quick reply before returning to his jog.
-
Vivian didn’t check her email again until nearly 3 o’clock when she broke for lunch, after untangling the mess of a junior associate.
She sipped her water while eating a salad at her desk. She scrolled through ads for clothing companies and news alert when one email caught her eye. From William.
“Did he take the bait?” she pondered out loud, clicking open the message.
I would ask you what direction.
Her lips curled into a smile. The perfect response.
Good boy. Always forward. Never backwards.
She typed a few more questions and comments to see if their interests meshed and hit send.
-
Tom smiled as he fished out his phone as he wrapped up his late lunch.
“What is it?” Benedict asked, leaning over to look at Tom’s phone.
He pulled it tight to his chest. “Nothing.” he lied.
“Bullshit. Nothing cause you to smile like that. Is it a girl?” Benedict teased, taking the last sip of his beer. Tom’s face paled. Benedict slammed his fists on the table, rattling their glasses. “I knew it! You met someone.”
“Not exactly.”
“What do you mean, not exactly? Either you met someone or you didn’t? This isn’t Schrödinger’s Cat.”
Tom threw Benedict a withering glance. “It’s complicated.”
Ben leaned back in his chair. “Then simplify it for me. Use that Cambridge education and small words for my feeble brain.”
Tom pocketed his phone after reading the message. “I would rather not, actually.”
Benedict waved him off. “Have your secrets.”
“I will.” he smiled. “Now I believe it’s your turn to pay.”
Benedict rolled his eyes as he fished out his wallet.
-
Vivian and Tom continued to exchange messages back and forth through the app for several weeks. Tom expressed his failed previous relationships while Vivian confided in her failed relationships in the past because of incompatibilities.
I am not entirely sure what it is that I want more, but rather what I don’t want. Tom typed to her one evening after a long day of work and interviews.
Which is? Vivian is hoping to get a better idea of what exactly Tom was looking for.
I don’t want to be the one calling the shots. I would like someone who is willing to take those decisions from me. If they would be willing to do that, I would be willing to do anything for them.
Vivian smiled at his response.
They both shared an affinity for movies, although neither saw as many as they wanted to due to work. Vivian took the initiative to move the relationship forward.
I would like to meet you in person. This weekend preferably.
Tom’s heart soared, but his mind ran with anxiety. How mad would Vivian be when she discovered his true identity? He eased her into the truth.
I would like that too. I am available all weekend. Tell me a time and place and I will meet you.
I must admit I haven’t been entirely honest with you. Due to the nature of my job, I used my middle name. My real name is Thomas.
He held his breath, waiting her response.
An understandable precaution. You are forgiven. Caffe Nero. Saturday 7 a.m. Camden.
Not far from her house or her yoga studio where she caught the early Saturday class. Hopefully William, er Thomas showed. Although, it wouldn’t be the first time an online date stood her up.
Tom noted her choice of shop wasn’t too far from his own home. He prayed it meant she lived in the neighborhood of Camden.
I will see at 7 a.m. Have a great Friday.
Vivian’s body buzzed with excitement.
You too.
-
Vivian fell three times during yoga on Saturday, distracted by her coffee date later. Her instructor pointed out her sloppiness, making her only more self-conscious. She showered at the studio and changed into a casual outfit of jeans and an emerald green billowy blouse which highlighted her hazel eyes. And as always, she slipped on high heels, although shorter than her work heels.
She arrived at the coffee shop 15 minutes early and settled into one of the small tables by the entrance. She pulled out Anna Karenina from her tote. Vivian set a goal to read all of Tolstoy’s work that year.
“That’s one of my favorites.” Tom’s voice rang out.
Vivian stared up at him. “What are the odds of running into you again?”
He rocked back on his heels. “Pretty high, since you told me to be here at 7 a.m. and it is now…” He glanced at the clock on the wall. “7:01.” He smiled at her.
She blinked in silence. “You’re William.” she commented. A smile teased her mouth.
“In the flesh.” He remained standing, waiting to see what Vivian would do. “My full name is Thomas William Hiddleston and you are…”
Vivian sat as her brain processed the information Tom presented to her. After several awkward moments, she spoke.
“Wait, Tom Hiddleston, I play God of Mischief Loki, Tom Hiddleston?”
His face pulled into an exaggerated frown, and his eyes widened. “I’m afraid so. May I sit?” He gestured to the seat.
“Sit.” she snapped. He sat across from her. “Um… name is Vivian Leigh Swann.”
“Like Gone With The Wind Vivien Leigh?” Thomas chuckled, but one glance from her caused him to stop and stare at the floor. “Apologies.”
“My mother was a fan. And it’s spelled differently.” She collected herself. “Now what do you say you get us some coffee and we talk?”
“Right away.” Tom nodded and headed off to place an order.
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freshconnoisseurflower · 3 months ago
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Amnesia Collection
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Amnesia: Collection has 23 Trophies. View all the Trophies here.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent puts you in the shoes of Daniel as he wakes up in a desolate castle, barely remembering anything about his past. Exploring its eerie pathways, you must piece together Daniel's troubled memories and uncover the horror that lies deep below.
Amnesia Ps4
Amnesia Collection Pc
Amnesia Collection Review
Amnesia Collection Achievements
Shop for amnesia collection at Best Buy. Find low everyday prices and buy online for delivery or in-store pick-up. The collection was first announced for PS4 by Frictional Games on October 19, 2016, with a very unique trailer consisting entirely of footage taken from early YouTube 'Let's Plays' of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The Frictional Games team later clarified a few things about the collection in a blog post on their website on October 21.
Do you remember those times when you’ve been genuinely scared? A moment where you had a physical reaction because you were so terrified? Maybe it was a vivid nightmare you had just woken up from or maybe it was eerily effective horror movie… maybe even a video game….
The Chinese Room and Frictional Games are hoping to stir up those haunting memories (or create new ones) with Amnesia Collection. The compilation features two games and one short piece of DLC from their successful horror series.
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This is not a nostalgic trip for yours truly as I only played a short portion of the first game on my PC soon after it first came out. I went into the collection with (mostly) fresh eyes and I can honestly say that I won’t be forgetting some of these scares anytime soon. But in the same vein, not everything that I played was as memorable.
Let’s break down the actual compilation first: Amnesia Collection contains Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010) and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (2013). Also included is the strange bit of DLC from the first game called Amnesia: Justine (2011). The collection is available on PC and also makes these titles available for the first time on consoles with the PS4 release.
An ancient projector from Amnesia: Justine.
There’s really not much in the way of upgrades or extras for the games. The PC collection contains the same ports of the originals except with no mod support. The PS4 version has trophies and some GUI changes to make it easier to use on consoles. In terms of technical specs, Frictional Games stated:
“All games will be 1080p. The Dark Descent and Justine will run at 60 fps. We are having some performance issues with A Machine for Pigs and might have to settle with 30 fps for it.”
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The stories in all the Amnesia titles are complicated and generally multi-layered. Because of this (and because I don’t want to give too much away) I’m going to just give very short synopses. Dark Descent focuses on Daniel as he wakes up in an abandoned castle with no memory and is pushed forward by an insane need for revenge. Machine is set 60 years later (1899) and follows Mandus as he searches for his missing twin boys in a giant steampunk facility below the streets of London. Both stories are connected by a vague backstory of mystical orbs that were recovered in Algeria; of course these McGuffins are able to conjure horrors from beyond as well as in the minds of man.
Justine was originally made as a part of a larger project to promote Portal 2 so the DLC purposefully imitates Valve’s massively popular game. Basically, you are a female prisoner being put through a number of trials that put you in the role of survivor, savior, and/or executioner.
Gameplay is very similar between the three titles and is really what makes the Amnesia series so memorable. All are first person horror-adventure games where you are given a lantern to explore. The series is most famous for its ‘hiding in the darkness’ mechanic where the player has to avoid light altogether in order to not be killed by vicious creatures. Physic and logic puzzles are prominent in Dark Descent and Justine but are mostly absent from Machine. The same is true for inventory management (especially with the precious light-producing tinderboxes) and the sanity meter.
Escape from tethys. Building atmosphere is incredibly important with horror games as sound, graphics and pacing collide to try and capture the most terrifying experience. Ultimately all of the Amnesia titles are successful in being scary, but each has their own strengths and weaknesses. The main two contenders are Dark Descent and Machine since Justine is just an offshoot of the former with the same assets. The big question is how to the two games compare and hold up today.
The original Amnesia was released six years ago from an indie studio and it shows. That being said, the dark aesthetic and the blocky nature of castle design are still impressive. There are some character models (especially of human bodies) that haven’t aged as nicely. The audio is fantastic with the ambient music working in concert with smart and unpredictable sound effects. The voice work does falter a bit unfortunately, mainly due to the appearance of a mentor character late in the game. Bill Corkey gives a bland and somewhat goofy portrayal of key character which quickly broke immersion.
Dark Descent is also blessed with some great pacing. Outside a few moments of backtracking and one or two obtuse puzzles, you’re in for a well curated ‘descent.’ There’s a slow burn with the story and gameplay that goes a long way. The hideous ‘Gatherers’ don’t start terrorizing you right off the bat but you are susceptible to certain sanity effects from the get-go: like when the castle starts to shake, or red puss grows from the walls, or, worst of all, when all the lights go out. If you’re in the shadows too long (and don’t forget that’s the only ‘safe’ place to hide) your sanity will drop as the camera and controls reflect your fear. This constant struggle between the need for light and dark is the primary reason that Dark Descent is still remembered as a modern classic of the survival-horror genre.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent’s Gatherer Grunt in all its unholy glory
And then there’s Machine. The graphics are unsurprisingly much crisper for the more recent game. The labyrinthine facility is larger-than-life. There are panoramic moments where octopus like constructions sprawl everywhere with their pipe tentacles. The antagonistic and disgusting Manpigs are sometimes seen in great detail. But these graphical improvements don’t work in the game’s favor. Many of the areas of the facility look similar and get redundant. The swine-monsters lose the dark mystery of the Gatherers. I also found some issues with clipping as well. The audio, while keeping the eerie otherness of the original, is a bit more bombastic and suffered from brief moments of unintended silence. It felt like the elements that made Dark Descent so great were stripped away while a fresh coat of paint was applied as a distraction.
This is seen full force with the structure of the game. Machine contains a familiar slow build which never grows into anything substantial. The encounters with the Manpigs are surprisingly limited and very little pads out the rest of the journey. You walk down hallway after hallway, sometimes stopping to pull or turn a lever (these are the ‘puzzles’ of the game). The sanity meter is completely gone and replaced by crippling flashbacks where your speed grinds to a halt. Unfortunately, slowdown wasn’t limited to just that as the game struggled to keep up with all the architecture at select points in the story.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t actual horror in the sequel; It’s just presented very differently. A lot of the strengths of Dark Descent organically evolve through gameplay whereas Machine takes a more cerebral route. The story elements of both games are actually well written but clunkily delivered through the survival-horror standard of found notes/diaries. The tale of the man who built the massive machine under London is the stronger of the two; its exploration of the horrors that man is capable of is fascinating and quite unsettling. This kind of story seems better suited for a novel or a screenplay rather than haphazardly scattered on floors, desks, and bookshelves. Machine does achieve fear through some of the visuals and the rare encounter with a Manpig but these are fleeting moments. Or in other words, forgettable.
A Manpig (unfortunately not ManBearPig) from Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.
The black sheep of the collection is Justine. It has some decent moments packed into the 30 minutes playtime but there’s one extremely frustrating design decision: You can’t save. While it is short and there are only a handful of situations where you can die, it feels like this choice was made just to prolong the DLC.
The worst part is a section where you have to run away from a water-traversing monster while trying to solve a few puzzles. It ends up being an exercise in ‘quickly explore this area and see if there’s anything useful’ which will inevitably end in death. This point is about 15 minutes in and each time you restart you have to sit through a unskippable waking up sequence.
The story and gameplay found within the DLC pales in comparison to Dark Descent. For some reason the lantern, a series staple, isn’t fully utilized in this small chapter. Justine is that part of the package that you can just ignore (unless you’re a completionist).
Just one of the ways you can die and have to start over in Amnesia: Justine.
At the end of the day, Amnesia Collection is more a port of two games and one piece of DLC (about 20+ hours of gameplay) rather than a proper compilation. There aren’t any extra features and nothing has really been remastered. That being said, the quality of the games and the fact that (some) console players can now experience these titles does a lot to redeem the lack of new content.
Where Machine is a flawed but intriguing playthrough, Dark Descent still holds up as an important piece of survival-horror history which should be experienced. It’s a perfect mix of hide-in-the-shadows anxiety with trippy mind games that is a blast to survive through. There’s also the bonus of a commentary option for only this game (which is surprising to find out wasn’t an addition to the collection). Unfortunately, there’s no subtitles for this feature so you might struggle to decipher the words behind heavy Swedish accents.
Can you honestly trust your memories of playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent? Maybe you need to pick it up again…
Amnesia Collection retails for $29.99 USD on both the PC and PS4. If you own Dark Descent on PC, I would suggest skipping the collection and just buying Machine if you’re curious enough. But if you’re someone who’s never tried the series (especially if you own a PS4 but don’t have a PC strong enough to handle the original game) I highly recommend picking up the compilation. Sometimes it’s worth it to go out and seek out those scares that will stay with you a long, long time.
Supported by 22 fans who also own “HIVESWAP: ACT 2 Original Soundtrack” This album does a great job not just keeping the same vibes as the original album, but improving upon them too. Such a Friendly Town also is such a friendly song, makes me happy every time I listen to it. HIVESWAP: ACT 2 Original Soundtrack by James Roach, Toby Fox, and Clark Powell, released 26 November 2020 1. On-Time Departure 2. Above Sea Level 4. Ticket to Ride: Rusty 9. Ticket to Ride: Quadrant Confusion 10. The Prince of All Mustardbloods 11. Ticket to Ride: Trial Variation 12. HIVESWAP: ACT 2 Original Soundtrack. This is additional content for HIVESWAP: ACT 2, but does not include the base game. All Reviews: No user reviews Release Date: Nov 25, 2020. Developer: What Pumpkin Games, Inc. Publisher: What Pumpkin Games, Inc. No tags entered yet + + Add your own tags. Hiveswap: act 2 original soundtrack release.
Do you remember those times when you’ve been genuinely scared? A moment where you had a physical reaction because you were so terrified? Maybe it was a vivid nightmare you had just woken up from or maybe it was eerily effective horror movie… maybe even a video game….
The Chinese Room and Frictional Games are hoping to stir up those haunting memories (or create new ones) with Amnesia Collection. The compilation features two games and one short piece of DLC from their successful horror series.
This is not a nostalgic trip for yours truly as I only played a short portion of the first game on my PC soon after it first came out. I went into the collection with (mostly) fresh eyes and I can honestly say that I won’t be forgetting some of these scares anytime soon. But in the same vein, not everything that I played was as memorable.
Let’s break down the actual compilation first: Amnesia Collection contains Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010) and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (2013). Also included is the strange bit of DLC from the first game called Amnesia: Justine (2011). The collection is available on PC and also makes these titles available for the first time on consoles with the PS4 release.
An ancient projector from Amnesia: Justine.
There’s really not much in the way of upgrades or extras for the games. The PC collection contains the same ports of the originals except with no mod support. The PS4 version has trophies and some GUI changes to make it easier to use on consoles. In terms of technical specs, Frictional Games stated:
“All games will be 1080p. The Dark Descent and Justine will run at 60 fps. We are having some performance issues with A Machine for Pigs and might have to settle with 30 fps for it.”
The stories in all the Amnesia titles are complicated and generally multi-layered. Because of this (and because I don’t want to give too much away) I’m going to just give very short synopses. Dark Descent focuses on Daniel as he wakes up in an abandoned castle with no memory and is pushed forward by an insane need for revenge. Machine is set 60 years later (1899) and follows Mandus as he searches for his missing twin boys in a giant steampunk facility below the streets of London. Both stories are connected by a vague backstory of mystical orbs that were recovered in Algeria; of course these McGuffins are able to conjure horrors from beyond as well as in the minds of man.
Justine was originally made as a part of a larger project to promote Portal 2 so the DLC purposefully imitates Valve’s massively popular game. Basically, you are a female prisoner being put through a number of trials that put you in the role of survivor, savior, and/or executioner.
Gameplay is very similar between the three titles and is really what makes the Amnesia series so memorable. All are first person horror-adventure games where you are given a lantern to explore. The series is most famous for its ‘hiding in the darkness’ mechanic where the player has to avoid light altogether in order to not be killed by vicious creatures. Physic and logic puzzles are prominent in Dark Descent and Justine but are mostly absent from Machine. The same is true for inventory management (especially with the precious light-producing tinderboxes) and the sanity meter.
Building atmosphere is incredibly important with horror games as sound, graphics and pacing collide to try and capture the most terrifying experience. Ultimately all of the Amnesia titles are successful in being scary, but each has their own strengths and weaknesses. The main two contenders are Dark Descent and Machine since Justine is just an offshoot of the former with the same assets. The big question is how to the two games compare and hold up today.
The original Amnesia was released six years ago from an indie studio and it shows. That being said, the dark aesthetic and the blocky nature of castle design are still impressive. There are some character models (especially of human bodies) that haven’t aged as nicely. The audio is fantastic with the ambient music working in concert with smart and unpredictable sound effects. The voice work does falter a bit unfortunately, mainly due to the appearance of a mentor character late in the game. Bill Corkey gives a bland and somewhat goofy portrayal of key character which quickly broke immersion.
Dark Descent is also blessed with some great pacing. Outside a few moments of backtracking and one or two obtuse puzzles, you’re in for a well curated ‘descent.’ There’s a slow burn with the story and gameplay that goes a long way. The hideous ‘Gatherers’ don’t start terrorizing you right off the bat but you are susceptible to certain sanity effects from the get-go: like when the castle starts to shake, or red puss grows from the walls, or, worst of all, when all the lights go out. If you’re in the shadows too long (and don’t forget that’s the only ‘safe’ place to hide) your sanity will drop as the camera and controls reflect your fear. This constant struggle between the need for light and dark is the primary reason that Dark Descent is still remembered as a modern classic of the survival-horror genre.
Amnesia Ps4
Amnesia: The Dark Descent’s Gatherer Grunt in all its unholy glory
And then there’s Machine. The graphics are unsurprisingly much crisper for the more recent game. The labyrinthine facility is larger-than-life. There are panoramic moments where octopus like constructions sprawl everywhere with their pipe tentacles. The antagonistic and disgusting Manpigs are sometimes seen in great detail. But these graphical improvements don’t work in the game’s favor. Many of the areas of the facility look similar and get redundant. The swine-monsters lose the dark mystery of the Gatherers. I also found some issues with clipping as well. The audio, while keeping the eerie otherness of the original, is a bit more bombastic and suffered from brief moments of unintended silence. It felt like the elements that made Dark Descent so great were stripped away while a fresh coat of paint was applied as a distraction.
This is seen full force with the structure of the game. Machine contains a familiar slow build which never grows into anything substantial. The encounters with the Manpigs are surprisingly limited and very little pads out the rest of the journey. You walk down hallway after hallway, sometimes stopping to pull or turn a lever (these are the ‘puzzles’ of the game). The sanity meter is completely gone and replaced by crippling flashbacks where your speed grinds to a halt. Unfortunately, slowdown wasn’t limited to just that as the game struggled to keep up with all the architecture at select points in the story.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t actual horror in the sequel; It’s just presented very differently. A lot of the strengths of Dark Descent organically evolve through gameplay whereas Machine takes a more cerebral route. The story elements of both games are actually well written but clunkily delivered through the survival-horror standard of found notes/diaries. The tale of the man who built the massive machine under London is the stronger of the two; its exploration of the horrors that man is capable of is fascinating and quite unsettling. This kind of story seems better suited for a novel or a screenplay rather than haphazardly scattered on floors, desks, and bookshelves. Machine does achieve fear through some of the visuals and the rare encounter with a Manpig but these are fleeting moments. Or in other words, forgettable.
A Manpig (unfortunately not ManBearPig) from Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.
The black sheep of the collection is Justine. It has some decent moments packed into the 30 minutes playtime but there’s one extremely frustrating design decision: You can’t save. While it is short and there are only a handful of situations where you can die, it feels like this choice was made just to prolong the DLC.
The worst part is a section where you have to run away from a water-traversing monster while trying to solve a few puzzles. It ends up being an exercise in ‘quickly explore this area and see if there’s anything useful’ which will inevitably end in death. This point is about 15 minutes in and each time you restart you have to sit through a unskippable waking up sequence.
The story and gameplay found within the DLC pales in comparison to Dark Descent. For some reason the lantern, a series staple, isn’t fully utilized in this small chapter. Justine is that part of the package that you can just ignore (unless you’re a completionist).
Just one of the ways you can die and have to start over in Amnesia: Justine.
At the end of the day, Amnesia Collection is more a port of two games and one piece of DLC (about 20+ hours of gameplay) rather than a proper compilation. There aren’t any extra features and nothing has really been remastered. That being said, the quality of the games and the fact that (some) console players can now experience these titles does a lot to redeem the lack of new content.
Amnesia Collection Pc
Where Machine is a flawed but intriguing playthrough, Dark Descent still holds up as an important piece of survival-horror history which should be experienced. It’s a perfect mix of hide-in-the-shadows anxiety with trippy mind games that is a blast to survive through. There’s also the bonus of a commentary option for only this game (which is surprising to find out wasn’t an addition to the collection). Unfortunately, there’s no subtitles for this feature so you might struggle to decipher the words behind heavy Swedish accents.
Amnesia Collection Review
Can you honestly trust your memories of playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent? Maybe you need to pick it up again…
Amnesia Collection Achievements
Amnesia Collection retails for $29.99 USD on both the PC and PS4. If you own Dark Descent on PC, I would suggest skipping the collection and just buying Machine if you’re curious enough. But if you’re someone who’s never tried the series (especially if you own a PS4 but don’t have a PC strong enough to handle the original game) I highly recommend picking up the compilation. Sometimes it’s worth it to go out and seek out those scares that will stay with you a long, long time.
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sehoenghwa · 4 months ago
Text
cake [c.s] [final part]
concept: Choi San x gender neutral reader (ft. Park Seonghwa) warnings ⚠: smut, angst, choking, shitty behaviour
[Part 1]
A/N: aaaa it’s finally done!! I really like the endinggg I hope you enjoy part 2!! I’m sorry if I ever mention a gender on the reader, sometimes I get distracted but please let me know!! All criticism is appreciated :D
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 You thanked all of the gods in existance for the fact that the academic year would be over in a couple of days. You decided that missing them wouldn't be of much importance, since you couldn't bear the embsfassment. You didn't want to face San, and you weren't sure you could face anyone at all. You felt like everyone knew about what had happened, and like everyone was silently judging you for falling right onto his trap. You needed time away from everyone in that place, as everyone reminded you of him.
  You spent days crying onto your pillow, because the unbearable heartbreak and weird sense of betrayal you couldn't help but to feel.
   It had been about two weeks into summer vacation when you decided to pick yourself up from bed. You looked at yourself in the mirror: bloated face, massive eye bags, hair severely overgrown and your body looked unhealthy. Your heart broke at the sight, and you cursed yourself for getting to this point because of a man.
   You decided that, from that point on, you'd get better. You'd treat yourself, and become someone new. But it's easier said than done of course... You sort of did that. At least you were happier...
    When you finally emerged from the comfort of your bed you fixed yourself the best you could and made way towards the nearest non-suspicious looking bar. It was a nice medium-sized bar, that looked like it was straight from a gossip girl set. It was only 5pm, but as soon as you closed the door behind you, it felt like it was 1am. The music wasn't loud nor quiet, the decoration wasn't exaggerated, and the purple and pink neon lights lit up the bar nicely.
  Despite not having any windows, the smell of smoke wasn't unbearable like most bars, it was almost as if it was just setting the ambient.
   You sat at the bar and order a 'whatever you recommend here'. You actually had about 4 of those. You felt surprisingly well, that is, until you stood up to go to the bathroom. Your legs were wobbly and suddenly the room was spinning. Somehow you made it to the bathroom and came back, to find that your seat was taken. Yes, there were about 5 other seats, but slightly drunk you had decided that that was your seat. How dare guy-who-looked-handsome-from-the-back tke it from you?
   You tapped his shoulder, a little too harshly but you couldn't control it really. The male turned around and you gasped loudly. He raised an eyebrow at your extreme reaction, but again, your emotions, actions and reactions were highly enhanced with the help of alcohol.
   You recognized those deep dark eyes and eye-catching lips anywhere.
    Seonghwa. He was one of San's 'og' friends. You saw him in San's ig pictures from years ago, and you'd never seen one without the other walking around the halls.
    'Y/N?'
    You could feel your face get hotter, out of anger. You turned around and wobbled towards the door, but Seonghwa was faster. He grabbed your wrist.
    'Y/N, are you drunk? It's 7pm what are you doing here?'
    You turned to face him and placed your index finger on his chest, pushing him back.
    'None of your business. Don't talk to me.'
   Seonghwa was smart, it didn't take him long to understand your behaviour. His grip on your wrist was steady and he didn't let you go.
    'You know I'm not him, right? I didn't do it, and I would never do something like that.' He told you.
   Tears immediately brimmed in your eyes and your furrowed your eyebrows angrily.
    'So you know about it.'
    Seonghwa sighed and nodded.
    'He tells me about every single one...'
    You fought his grip and ran outside, the best you could. Seonghwa followed you, not wanting to leave you alone, drunk and wobbling in the streets that had already gotten dark.
     'Y/N please, I'm sorry he did that to you. I had no idea.' He tried to excuse himself.
     'But you're still friends with him!' You yelled, earning a couple of looks from people passing by.
     'I can't just drop him Y/N! I've been his friend since we were kids. I hate that he does this, and I hate that I'm associated with it even more. You don't see it, but I see the dirty looks I get from every girl he fucked and trashed away because they think I'm just like him.'
   'Oh boo hoo poor you!' You mocked.
   He placed his hands on his hips and sighed.
   'Do you live nearby?' He asked.
   'Why? So you can fuck me and dump me too?' You mocked.
   'Because I'm driving you home before some idiot on the street picks you up and convinces you to fuck him.'
   You felt a little shy for assuming anything about him when he meant to do something good. You just nodded and told him your address as you walked to his car. The drive was silent, the only sound being his finger tapping on the wheel.
   Once he pulled up in your driveway, he turned off the engine and sighed.
    'Y/N I'm genuinely worried for you. I'm not San, okay? He texted me after you left his house, and told me what happened. The days after he does that we usually get some nasty comments from whoever he fucks. I looked for you, I expected to see you breaking a couple pencils imagining it was his dick or shooting him death glares, but you didn't come to class. Neither did you the next day. And it's two weeks into summer vacation and I find you, completely different, getting drunk in a bar at 5pm. I don't want you to waste one of the best years in your life because of my friend. I don't know how he gets away with that façade, I guess no one believes that he's actually kind of an ass...'
   You listened to him carefully. He sounded genuinely concerned, and you were touched by his words for a second.
   'The deed is done.' You told him, coldly.
   He sighed, a little sad at your disbelief in him.
   'Let me give you my number. Text me if it gets to your head again, please.'
   The next day, when you woke up, you felt a little embarrassed at the way you spoke to him. A couple days went by but you never texted him, your pride wouldn't let you. But you couldn't stop thinking about him. How sweet he had been to you even though he didn't know you at all. How genuine he seemed...
    Still, you didn't text him. You got in some nice clothes, fixed the hair you still hadn't bother to get an appointment for, and went to the same bar you had seen him the other day. Except at a decent hour this time.
   As soon as you walked in you spotted him. He was very hard to miss, as he always seemed to be the best mannered and best composed person in the room.
  'Drink alone often?'   He turned around, a little surprised to hear your voice again. Seonghwa smirked.
  'Didn't think I'd see you again so soon.' He told you, setting down his drink.
  You said nothing. Your ego stopped you from doing so, you'd never admit you felt bad for being so cold to him.
  There wasn't much of a conversation between the two of you, only some small talk accompanied by one too many drinks.
   You only realized how late it was when the music became louder and the dance floor started becoming full of drunk men and women. The bar around you was spinning a little, but not enough that you couldn’t grab Seonghwa’s hand and pull him to dance with you.
   ‘Who knew you could act normal for once instead of stone cold?’ 
   You slapped his chest as you drunk-danced to a random trap song. 
   ‘I’m not stone cold, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t like your dear friend.’ You explained, looking at him as if you meant an offense.
    Seonghwa rolled his eyes and pulled close so you could see well his eyes under the flashing lights. He was dead serious. 
    ‘Y/N, please stop. I’m not like him. I told this over and over, I hate what he does, so please stop comparing me to San.’ 
    You looked at him for a second, not knowing what to do, or say. Up until this point you were the harsh one, but now his calm, soft side had turned into a serious person that you had never seen before.
    As you thought about what he said, you gulped, rummaging through your brain, trying to find an adequate response. 
    ‘Then help me take him down.’
    Seonghwa tilted his head and frowned, not quite understanding what you meant.
    ‘If you hate it so much, help me do something about it. No one deserves to be treated that way and I want to make sure no other girl gets fooled by him.’ 
    The male was a little mervous about it. A frienship with San was something he had known his whole life. Hell, he had a key to San’s house, he was on a first name basis with San’s parents... The male gulped and sighed.
    He grabbed your wrist and took you outside, so you could speak properly without the banging sound of the music interrupting you.
   ‘Y/N you know I can’t do that, he’s my-’
    ‘Your friend? Is he though? Is he the person you became friends with? If a narcissistic asshole who lures in girls with a fake persona just to fuck them and trash them the second after came up to you and asked you to be ‘best friends’ would you happily take it?’ You interrupted him. 
    Seonghwa’s head was confused. It was torn between the comfort of a life-long friendship and what was morally correct. His head was trying to separate all the events, all the good memories and fun times, from the things that he didn’t like. And after a short minute, he came to a conclusion: you were right. All of the rainbows and flowers were buried in the past, all of the laughs and giggles he could remember was from little San, that went to church every Sunday and refused to kill any backyard bug because ‘bugs are friends’. Not new San. Not bubblegum-haired San that got Seonghwa in trouble over and over, not San that had Seonghwa pick him up from random girls’ houses at 2am because ‘he didn’t want to be in the same room as them after he fucked them’. Current San wasn’t Seonghwa’s friend.
   ‘Fine, I’ll help you. But how?’ He finally replied, earning a wide grin from you.
   You didn’t exactly know how tho... You only knew that you wanted- no, you needed revenge. You thought for a while, before something came to mind. 
   ‘Like this!’ 
   You grabbed Seonghwa’s face and kissed his lips, for a brief second. When you pulled away his face was red and his eyeballs looked like they were going to pop out of the socket at any second.
   ‘By kissing me!? I’m not complaining Y/N but, what?’
   ‘No dumb dumb, pretend we’re dating. It’ll make him uncomfortable. At least enough until he throws a fit and I get a confession out of him. Plus, if I’m close to his best friend it adds credibility when I say that he’s an ass, and people won’t just take me for ‘another crazy bitch who was rejected by San’.’
   Seonghwa just shrugged.
   ‘Fine by me, I don’t care.’
   After saying that, Seonghwa grabbed your waist and pulled you close, close enough so he could close the gap between your lips, just for a second longer than you had before. 
   ‘What was that for?’ You asked, a little shocked, once you two pulled away.
   ‘Would you believe my excuse if I told you it’s to make it seem more realistic and not because you look very fuckable right now?’ Whether it was the alcohol or a hidden desire speaking, he meant it.
   You just laughed him off, thinking it was a joke. Quickly you understood it wasn’t, by taking a look at the way his eyes became even darker and the way he bit his lower lip.
  You didn’t hesitate when Seonghwa gently grabbed your hair and intertwined your fingers with his, as he dragged you along to his flat.
 As soon as you stepped inside, the male shut the door and pressed you against it, taking a second to appreciate the way you looked under the dim lights. Seonghwa crashed his lips against yours and began undressing you in his living room, too needy to even let you get to his bedroom. 
   Unlike San, Seonghwa was gentle with his touch. It was a nice mix of romantic and passionate. He removed your clothes as his lips moved down your neck, leving very light bites so it wouldn’t be shamelessly marked on your neck. As soon as he got to your chest, however, you could tell the purple spots would be lasting for weeks. 
   You undressed him just as quickly as he undressed you, and it was truly mesmerizing what clothes could hide. Seonghwa’s body was just perfectly: fit, but not in excess. Broad shoulders, thick thighs and toned torso, that you kept on admiring as he picked you up and laid you on the couch slowly. 
   Seonghwa’s tip grazed over your entrance and you moaned into the kiss.
   ‘O-oh wait!’ He said, and stood up, leaving you confused as he stepped away.
   He soon came back with a little bottle of lube, causing you both to flush.
   ‘I didn’t... want it to hurt?’
   You smiled a little, and watched as the light from the moon shined and reflected on his slightly sweaty body.
    Seonghwa aligned his tip by your entrance once more, and hovered over you, allowing you to encircle his neck with your arms.
   He filled you up, slowly. You bit down on his shoulder causing him to groan. He started slow, but you could see he wanted to do more.
   ‘D-do it.’
   ‘What?’ He asked.
   ‘Don’t hold back, please.’
   Seonghwa stopped for a second and looked at you.
   ‘I don’t want to hurt you...’
   ‘You won’t.’
   The male licked his lips and kissed your temple.
   ‘Fine by me.’
   Seonghwa grabbed waist, snapping his hips rapidly against yours, causing you to grip onto the couch for dear life. He reached for your neck, encircling it with his hand in a way that you didn’t even know you liked.
   There were so many groans and moans and noises echoing around the room, and you couldn’t even hear them. You were too focused on the way he fucked you.
   ‘You like that? Like when I fuck your pretty little head dumb?’
   ‘S-shit! Yes!’
   Soon enough you came, but he kept thrusting into you. The overstimulation was painful, yet pleasurable. 
   ‘Can y-you take it babydoll?’ 
   ‘Fuck- yes! Seonghwa!’ 
   You came once more, with a yell for his name, and almost immediately he pulled out and came all over your torso. 
    He looked down at the mess he made. 
   ‘Oh... Sorry about that. You look good though.’
   You collected some of the cum on your finger, put it in your mouth, and winked at him.
   ‘Fuck... You’re golden.’
  Weeks went by and the changes were slow. You wanted it to look natural. It started with a couple of selfies the two of you posted when you met from time to time, then the dates became more frequent, and more public, and then you became his lockscreen photo. Soon enough, academic year began once more, and you agreed to walk into the building holding hands, as if you truly were in love. It shocked everybody, even San. They all had seen you two, but people just assumed that it was a summer fling, not a serious thing.
   San wouldn’t deny that it bothered him, because it did. Very much actually. It made him uncomfortable that he treated you like that, because to him you were nothing, and now you were hanging out with his best friend all the time, which meant you were hanging out with him. And you didn’t even look bothered, at all.
   The day came when you and Seonghwa first kissed in front of everybody, it was about a week into it, and that’s when San lost it. You were sitting with Seonghwa, San and a couple other guys that often hung out with them in the cafeteria. San was desperately trying not to look at the two of you. How did this even happen? Seonghwa did tell him he was seeing somebody but... You? He usually never looked at any other person he fucked again and now not only did he have to look at you, but he also had to hang out with you. 
   You were sitting so close to your ‘boyfriend’ that you were nearly on his lap. Your head was resting on his shoulder as he caressed your thigh. Seonghwa said something funny, and as both of you laughed you looked at each other. Your lips were awfully close, and as you stared into each other’s eyes you couldn’t help but share a brief, innocent kiss. A kiss that triggered San.
   ‘Okay what the fuck is going on!?’ The irritated male finally asked, through gritted teeth, while looking at the two of you. 
   ‘What do you mean?’ You asked, feigning ignorance. 
   Seonghwa squeezed your thigh, as a warning to take it easy.
   ‘You know exactly what I mean.’
   ‘No, I don’t. I met Seonghwa, we started talking, enjoying our time together and eventually... we fell for each other.’ You told him, looking at Seonghwa lovingly to sell the lie. 
   ‘Is this a part of some fucking plan to make me jealous?’
   ‘You? Why would this be about you?’ 
   ‘You know why.’ 
   ‘I really don’t.’ 
   San gripped his cutlery hard. The way you were pretending nothing had happened was pissing him off beyond belief. 
   ‘Stop pretending you don’t remember.’
   ‘Did... Something happen between the two of you? Did you date or something?’ Yeosang, who had become a little awkward by the conversation asked.
   A couple curious students that were eating in tables nearby were overeharing the conversation, and quickly stopped what they were doing to focus on the gossip.
   ‘No, we didn’t date.’ San told Yeosang. 
   ‘We didn’t, but I think I seem to remember something... Oh! Right! It was the way you pretended to be interested in me, then fucked me, and kicked me out of your house to never speak to me again.’
   Yeosang and Yunho looked at San, with disgust painted all over their faces.
   ‘Dude, you still do that!?’ Yunho asked.
   ‘He never stopped.’ 
    Everyone was shocked, as Seonghwa said that. He didn’t look up from his sad chocolate pudding. 
    ‘What the fuck Seonghwa!? Is that what you do now!? Screw my leftovers and then stab me in the back!?’ San exclaimed.
   Seonghwa slammed his fist on the table and looked up at San to meet his eyes. It was an expression that the latter had never seen on his cute, kind, puppy-like best-friend, and he wasn’t so sure he ever wanted to see it.
   ‘I’ve had enough! I’ve had fucking enough of you and your shitty behaviour, I’ve had enough of you using our friendship as an excuse to make me run around like a dog doing whatever you need, and I’m tired of getting angry looks from all the girls you fucked and then trashed away in this school. All while putting up this angel boy façade! You wanna fuck random girls and leave them on the side of the road the next day!? Get a hooker. You’re disgusting for toying with people like that. I’ve had it!’
   Murmurs and whispers could be heard in the cafeteria, after Seonghwa’s explosion. There was silence in the table, however.
   Suddenly, San’s famously adored pink hair was stained by brown goo. 
   ‘This is for screwing me and telling me to ‘skidaddle’ right after you came.’ A sobbing girl said, as she dumped another pudding on his head. ‘And this one is for running off and fucking my sister the next day.’ 
   San looked around. There was an occasional ‘you go king’ face from some pathetic little man who seemed to love his behaviour, but those ones were hidden behind the dozens angry and disgusted faces of every single peer of his.
   He panicked. A guy stood up and as he started to step towards San, the latter just ran away. He dashed out of the cafeteria to never be seen again, at least in that building.
   You turned to Seonghwa and hugged him. 
   ‘Thank you.’
   He smiled at you, as he pet your head. 
   ‘It’s alright honey, it needed to be done.’ 
   Seonghwa leaned in to kiss you, a sweet victory kiss, but you backed away.
   ‘Woah, we did it, we don’t need to fake it anymore!’ You told him with a smile. Silly him, he had forgotten!
   ‘Oh... Yes sorry, it’s the habit. Excuse me I... I need to go to the bathroom.’ 
   He stood up and walked away, and you were left to talk to his friends. But you missed the way tears pooled in his eyes. You missed the way his face grew red and the unstability in his voice. You missed the red, puffy eyes and the bruised knuckles he tried to hide once he came back from the bathroom. 
   Seonghwa cursed himself for forgetting that it was all fake.
----
   taglist: @sansbun​ @haram-monbebe​ @beefpork​ @softvelvetkisses​ @palegardenrebel​ @swimmingkpopblog​ @mirror-juliet​ @mingismoon​ @raysanshine​ @staytinyy​ 
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sinceileftyoublog · 4 months ago
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30 (Technically 34) Albums We Loved That Happened To Come Out in 2020
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So much has already been said and written about this cursed past year, but a few good things came out of it, including the music. Album-wise, like many before it and many to come, it was an embarrassment of riches. But even with so much time on our hands to devour new tunes, it was often old favorites, songs of comfort or familiarity that garnered the heaviest rotation. For many artists, too, it was a year ripe for revisiting or reissues of old material, looking at existing songs with fresh and new perspectives. Simply put, with so much to listen to, new and old, the prospect of ranking a finite number of albums felt not only daunting, but frankly a bit stupid. Maybe we were late to the game, but 2020 taught us that music should and can be appreciated in multiple contexts, not limited to but including when it first came out and when it was heard again and again, even if years later. The records below--listed in alphabetical order--happened to be released in some form in 2020, whether never-before-heard or heard before but in a different format. And the only thing I know is that we’ll be listening to them in 2021 and beyond.
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Autechre - SIGN & PLUS (Warp)
The legendary British electronic music duo surprise released SIGN a mere month and a half after its announcement and then PLUS 12 days later. The former was a beatific collection of soundscapes that belied the band’s usual harsh noise, while PLUS embraced that noise right back, drawing you in with the clattering chaotic burbles of opener “DekDre Scap B” and lurching forward. -Jordan Mainzer
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Against All Logic - 2017-2019 (Other People)
The perennially chill ambient house artist Nicolas Jaar had a busy 2020, as usual, releasing two albums under his name, Cenizas and Telas. But it was 2017-2019, the follow-up to the debut album from his Against All Logic moniker, that came first and throughout the year helped to illustrate Jaar’s penchant for combining inspired samples with club beats and tape hiss. Take the way the lovelorn vocals of “Fantasy” or soulful coos of “If Loving You Is Wrong” war skittering, scratchy percussion and cool arpeggios, respectively: Jaar is coming into his own as a masterful producer almost a decade after he released his first full-length. Oh, and bonus points for including none other than Lydia Lunch on a banger so blunt it would make Death Grips blush. - JM
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Bartees Strange - Live Forever (Memory Music)
Like many, my introduction to Bartees Strange was through Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy, his EP of The National covers. Creativity and shifting perspectives shine through each song’s reimaging, like flipping the coarse, almost manic “Mr. November” into something softer, more meditative. It felt like a mere peek into what was to come on Live Forever. Bartees Strange is a world-builder. Each track on his debut unfolds and welcomes you to a wildly engaging tableau, a fully constructed vision. “Jealousy” opens with soft vocals and birdsong. “In a Cab” is the slick soundtrack to racing through a cityscape in the rain, seeing the blurred lights of the high-rises above as you pass by. “Kelly Rowland” warps wistful pop song feelings. “Flagey God” takes you into a dark, pulsing club while only a few songs later, “Fallen For You” wraps you in echoed vocals and romantic, raw acoustic guitar.
It’s an accomplishment to craft an album of individual songs that stand strongly on their own but still feel cohesive. 2020 wasn’t all bad. It gave us Live Forever, a declaration of an artist’s arrival. - Lauren Lederman
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Charli XCX - how i’m feeling now (Atlantic)
Back in the spring, many of us wondered who would put out something great in 2020’s quarantine. It was hard to imagine that the intensity of a global pandemic would really allow for artists to embrace creativity. That thought carries the same eye-roll inducing feeling of “We’ll get some great punk music out of a Trump presidency,” but of course, Charli XCX delivered. Through live workshops with fans and longstanding collaborators, she delivered songs to dance alone to in your bubble. Charli embraces the unknown of the moment but clutches onto what’s familiar. Under the glitch-pop veneer of the album, she digs into the anxieties of not just this moment of time but of the bigger questions we all confront: trajectories of relationships with friends, romantic partners, ourselves. Album standouts “forever” and “i finally understand” embrace that feeling of both looking for control and accepting the lack of it. Charli is a master at balancing this. - LL
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Christine and the Queens - La Vita Nuova (Because Music)
Named after a Latin text by Dante Alighieri about missing a woman who has died, Chris’ La Vita Nuova is not about mourning a death but instead about loneliness and isolation, post-relationship or otherwise. It doesn’t bang quite like her previous two albums, but it hits harder than ever.
Read our full review here.
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Dogleg - Melee (Triple Crown)
Released on March 13th, right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Melee was supposed to be supported by three cancelled tours–SXSW, an opening slot for Microwave, and an opening slot for Joyce Manor–and an appearance at this year’s cancelled Pitchfork Music Festival. Listening to the songs on the record, you can only imagine how they translate: the jerky momentum of “Bueno”, build-up of “Prom Hell”, gang vocals of “Fox”, clear-vocal anthem of “Wrist”, and odd groove of “Ender”.
Read “Buckle Up, Motherfucker”, our interview with Dogleg.
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Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia & Dua Lipa/The Blessed Madonna: Club Future Nostalgia (Warner)
Where Dua Lipa’s much-anticipated second album Future Nostalgia succeeded was in its disco anthems and retro, club-ready beats, so who better to bring out the best of the record than The Blessed Madonna? The turntablist masterfully curates a mix of heavy hitters of the charts and the underground that not only offers an essential complement to Future Nostalgia but transcends it. Sending the tracks out to various producers and singers for features and then adding her own samples on top, she invites you to peel back the layers, enter a YouTube rabbit hole of sample searching as much as bopping along.
Read our full review here.
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Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou - May Our Chambers Be Full (Sacred Bones)
Roadburn Festival has long been on my bucket list, and since the pandemic showed me how much live music can be taken away in a flash, when it’s safe again to travel and go to a festival, I may just pull the trigger and go--especially considering it’s the springboard for such fruitful and inspired collaborations as the one between Louisville singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle and Baton Rouge sludge dwellers Thou. Rundle embraces the heavier opportunities on the follow-up to her incredible 2018 record On Dark Horses with the ever-flexible Thou backing her up vocally and instrumentally. Slow-burning opener “Killing Floor” offers a familiar introduction to fans of both--sort of what a Rundle/Thou song would sound like--before grunge chugger “Monolith” introduces huge, catchy riffs and “Out of Existence” a True Widow-esque dirge, newfound inspirations for both artists bringing the best out of each other. - JM
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Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic)
What makes Fetch the Bolt Cutters stand out among Apple’s catalog and music in general is the clarity with which Apple seethes at those who have wronged her, whether ex-boyfriends or patriarchal oppressors, and looks to her relationships with other women for peace of mind.
Read our full review here.
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HAIM - Women in Music Pt. III (Columbia)
For HAIM, the title Women in Music Pt. III is suggestive that, more than their previous two records, their third centers around the experiences of being an all-female band in a historically white cis male-dominated scene, at least one that wouldn’t call catchy riffs written by a man “simple” or call attention to the faces a man makes while playing. What it doesn’t let on to is how deeply personal the record is, how, by unabashedly embracing genres and styles of music that they love, HAIM have made far and away their best album. Co-produced by the usual suspects, Danielle Haim, Ariel Rechtshaid, and ex-Vampire Weekender Rostam Batmanglij, it’s instrumentally and aesthetically dynamic and diverse, consistently earnest without devolving into cheese.
Read our full review here.
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Irreversible Entanglements - Who Sent You? (International Anthem)
I’ve been captivated by Irreversible Entanglements ever since I first saw them at Pitchfork Music Festival 2018. The radical poetry of Camae Ayewa (aka Moor Mother) is the perfect front for a ramshackle mix of Luke Stewart’s spidery bass, Tcheser Holmes’ weighty drums, and a horn section that concocts tones that range from hopeful to desperate. At their best, Who Sent You? is a shining example of celebratory Afrofuturism and metaphysics that makes the urgency of Ayewa’s more concrete and political words all the more necessary. “No Más”, composed by Panamanian-born trumpeter Aquiles Navarro, is a declaration against imperialist oppression, while the stunning title track flips the switch like a Kara Walker painting, as Ayewa’s the one interrogating the police officer terrorizing her community. “Who sent you?” she repeats, never spiraling, grabbing a hold of the power and never letting go. - JM
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Jeff Parker - Suite for Max Brown (International Anthem/Nonesuch)
It’s Jeff Parker’s mom’s turn. After 2016′s The New Breed ended up being a tribute to the guitarist’s father, who passed away during the making of it, Parker decided to pay tribute to Maxine while she was still alive. Suite for Max Brown (Brown is his mother’s maiden name; Max is what people call her) is a genre-bending collection of tracks inspired by Parker’s DJing, juxtapositions of sequenced beats with improvisation that certainly sound like the brainchild of one individual. Indeed, Parker plays the majority of the instruments on it and engineered most of it at home or during his 2018 Headlands Center residency in Sausalito, CA; though all of the players and the vocalist (Jeff’s daughter Ruby Parker) on The New Breed show up, plus a couple trumpeters (piccolo player Rob Mazurek and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes) and cellist Katinka Kleijn, Suite for Max Brown is a distinctly Jeff Parker record.
Read our preview of Jeff Parker & The New Breed’s set at Dorian’s last year.
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Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM (Polyvinyl)
Jeff Rosenstock throws us right into the spinning, manic energy of NO DREAM, his latest release from a seemingly endless well of music that never lacks urgency. It’s a reminder that though it’s been a strange year, the issues Rosenstock tackles here aren’t new. There’s no interest in making you feel comfortable here. On the album’s title track, Rosenstock sings, lulling you into a false sense of security, “They were separating families carelessly / Under the guise of protecting you and me.” But reality sets in, and the hazy guitars spin out as he spits, “It’s not a dream!” and, “Fuck violence!”
My image of Jeff Rosenstock in the year 2020 is masked up with “Black Lives Matter” scrawled across the fabric of his mask in Sharpie, performing album highlight “Scram!” on Late Night with Seth Meyers as high energy as ever. It felt like watching someone send out a beacon, both a distress signal and a call to arms. - LL
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Jessie Ware - What’s Your Pleasure? (PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope)
I am not someone who goes to clubs. I don’t “go out dancing,” preferring to let loose in the privacy of my own home or a trusted friend’s house party. But Jessie Ware’s What’s Your Pleasure? makes me think I could embrace a night out like that, once the world opens up again, of course. The album is filled with syncopated disco beats that feel fresh and classic all at once. The abundant horns and strings on “Step Into My Life” are decadent, like light bouncing off sequins in a dark room. Ware’s voice is slinky and velvety one moment, windswept like her album cover the next. It’s songs like “Save a Kiss” that embrace both, allowing her to show off her range. - LL
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Laura Marling - Song for Our Daughter (Partisan)
With sparse production, mostly from her but with additions from Ethan Johns and Dom Monks, Marling foregoes the comparative maximalism of the Blake Mills-produced Semper Femina, her last proper full-length, and 2018′s LUMP collaboration. The songs aren’t simple, but they’re succinct, and every element, from Marling’s finger-picked guitars, the occasional slide guitar, and that unmistakably calm voice, sometimes alone and sometimes layered, fits. It’s her most universal set of songs yet, centering around the times when we’re apart from one another but reflecting on when we were together and when we might be together again, with no guarantees.
Read the rest of our review here.
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Les Amazones d’Afrique - Amazones Power (Real World Records)
The groovy pan-African collective expands upon their debut Republique Amazone and then some with Amazones Power, a tour-de-force statement of female empowerment in the face of oppression against women throughout the African diaspora. Indeed, the album is more than just songs boldly decrying FGM, though those demands ring heavily. Instead, the group goes further, delving into gender power structures in marriage on “Queens” and selectively finding strength in tradition on “Dreams”. And this time, they include men to stand alongside with them. “Together we must stand / Together we must end this,” sings Guinean musician/dancer/artist Niariu on opener “Heavy” in solidarity with features Douranne (Boy) Fall and Magueye Diouk (Jon Grace) of Paris band Nyoko Bokbae. But perhaps it’s her kiss-off on “Smile” that hits hardest: “I shut up for no one.” - JM
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Lianne La Havas - Lianne La Havas (Nonesuch)
The British singer-songwriter’s much anticipated follow-up to 2015′s Blood was better than I could have ever imagined. A song cycle about life cycles--of nature, of lives, of a relationship--inspired by an actual breakup, Lianne La Havas is a contemporary neo soul masterpiece. Overview opener “Bittersweet” is an instant earworm, La Havas’ coo-turned-belt filling the space between classic and increasingly emotive slabs of piano and guitar. Funky, lovestruck strut “Read My Mind” is the soundtrack for the unbridled confidence of finding new love. Yes, the doubts begin to sow on the fingerpicked melancholy of “Green Papaya” and “Can’t Fight”, and where the album goes from a simple narrative perspective may be predictable: They break up, they don’t get back together, La Havas enjoys her independence. But the depth of the arrangements and assuredness of La Havas’ singing is a product of an artist starting to really show us what she can do. And how many people can pull off a Radiohead cover like that? - JM
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Lomelda - Hannah (Double Double Whammy)
What does it mean to title an album after yourself? Lomelda’s latest album is centered around discovering more about yourself while not always having the answers. Despite the lyrical content, the album is self-assured. Hannah Read’s voice feels as steady as ever as it navigates these twisting questions, like the way the world can shift after a kiss. She finds power in softness and reflection throughout the album, like when she explores the mantra-like words of “Wonder” or through a reminder to do no harm in “Hannah Sun”. In a year that allowed for perhaps more reflection than usual, Hannah makes space for the questions that arise out of figuring yourself out, of making sense of the messiness of it all, wrapped in warm guitar, balanced vocals, and steady drums. - LL
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Moses Sumney - Grae (Jagjaguwar)
“Am I vital / If my heart is idle? / Am I doomed?” Moses Sumney famously sang on his stunning 2017 debut Aromanticism, an album that saw him developing his acceptance of being alone. grae, his two-part 2nd full-length, and his first since officially moving from L.A. to the Appalachian Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, doubles down on themes of heartbreak, but instead of being sure in his seclusion, he embraces the unknown. The album teeters between interludes of platitudes about isolation and ruminations on failed human connection, and maximally arranged clutches of uncertainty. “When my mind’s clouded and filled with doubt / That’s when I feel the most alive,” Sumney coos over horns and piano on slinky soul song “Cut Me”; it’s an effective mantra for the album.
Read the rest of our review here.
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Norah Jones - Pick Me Up Off The Floor (Blue Note)
At the time we previewed Norah Jones’ 7th studio album, she had only released a few tracks from it. Turns out the rest was just as powerful. From the blues stomp of “Flame Twin” to the rolling piano stylings of “Hurts to Be Alone”, Pick Me Up Off The Floor is an album full of jazzy orchestrations and soul and gospel-indebted arrangements, Jones’ silky, yearning voice tying together the simple, yet lush and deep instrumentation. And that other Tweedy feature, that closes the album? It’s a heartbreaking portrait of loneliness, one of many on a record that still manages to celebrate being alive all the while. - JM
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Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher (Dead Oceans)
Phoebe Bridgers is a master of details. Her lyrics shine when they get specific. They range from the mundane to morbid: A superfan’s ghost-like wandering under a drugstore’s fluorescent lights, a skinhead likely buried under a blooming garden, reckoning with the you in “Moon Song”’s lines, “You are sick, and you’re married / And you might be dying.” Bridgers has always been able to set a scene meticulously, and Punisher arrived with 11 songs that expanded that skill, both lyrically and musically, with her dark humor intact and a fuller sound that includes her boygenuis collaborators’ harmonies. - LL
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PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love: The Demos & Dry - The Demos (Island)
Yes, revisiting Dry’s demos as a separate entity is still worthwhile. Harvey’s powerhouse vocal performance carries the acoustic strummed “Oh My Lover”, while the comparatively minimal arrangement of “Victory” highlights bluesy riffing, call-and-response harmonies, and layered guitar and vocals. The singles, the slinky and sharp “Dress” and propulsive anthem “Sheela-Na-Gig”, hold up to their ultimate studio versions, too. But it’s the To Bring You My Love material that provides novelty because it’s never been released and more so because it encompasses the greatest aesthetic contrast from the album. From the warbling hues and guitar lines of the title track to the tremolo haze of “Teclo” to the crisp snares of “Working With The Man”, the demos show a continuity and level of cohesiveness with the diversity of Dry and Rid of Me not shown on the studio version of Harvey’s more accessible commercial breakout. (Predictably, the album’s most well-known song, “Down by the Water”, is the closest to its eventual version.) “Long Snake Moan” is simultaneously more spacious and more noisy, its garage blues a total contrast to the lurking “I Think I’m A Mother” and swaying shanty “Send His Love To Me”. And “The Dancer” fully embraces its flamenco influences, hand claps and all.
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Porridge Radio - Every Bad (Secretly Canadian)
Is there a better opening line than “I’m bored to death, let’s argue”? That kind of duality is found across all of Every Bad as it grapples with the frustrations and anxiety of trying to figure it all out, whatever that might mean for you. “Maybe I was born confused, but I’m not,” vocalist Dana Margolin repeats throughout the opening track, roping in listeners with the dizzying feeling of trying to make sense of yourself. The band’s guitar and synth sound coupled with Margolin’s howl makes for a dance party filled with dread, rendering Margolin’s already strong, repetitive lyrics even more spiraling. And yet, by the time we get to “Lilacs”, a glimmer of something else shines through as the music gets more manic and Margolin’s voice begins to soar: “I don’t want to get bitter / I want us to get better / I want us to be kinder / To ourselves and to each other.” - LL
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Sault - Untitled (Rise) & Untitled (Black Is) (Forever Living Originals)
Yes, Black Is still pulls plenty of devastating punches. “Eternal Life”, a segue from the gospel boost of “US”, juxtaposes a deliberate drum beat with zooming synths, both ascending like a chorus of angels, as they sing, “I see sadness in your eye / ‘Cause I know you don’t wanna die,” presenting the oppression of Black life at the hands of white supremacy in inarguable terms. Ultimately, though, it’s the anthemic nature of the songs, resistant of platitudes, that shines through. “Nobody cared / This generation cares,” says Laurette Josiah on “This Generation”. Whether she’s talking about young people in general or the latest generation of young Black leaders, the sentiment is reflected on songs like “Black”, wherein over dynamic, sinewy instrumentation, the singers alternate between encouragement, support, and love of the self and others.
Read our full review here.
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Shamir - Shamir (self-released)
Shamir’s voice is a bright beacon in a sea of conventional singers. Shamir captures the effervescence of pop music and weaves it together with elements of country, alt rock, and diary confessional lyrics all supported by the emotion and range of his vocals. There’s something for everyone across the album’s 11 shimmering tracks. Lead single and opener “On My Own” feels like a declaration of self and self-sufficiency, an anthem of a breakup song. The almost pop-punk bounce of “Pretty When I’m Sad”, paired perfectly with lines like the angst-ridden, “Let’s fuck around inside each other’s heads,” feels impossible to not bop along to. The twang of “Other Side” would put a country crooner to shame. That’s the power of Shamir. His voice has the ability to smoothly convey joy, resilience, and humor. He uses elements of several genres, not just the dance-pop of his debut, to build a unique album that gives listeners so much to sift through and, of course, dance to. - LL
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Songhoy Blues - Optimisme (Fat Possum)
If Songhoy Blues’ second album Resistance lacked “the grit of its predecessor,” it’s clear from the hard rock stomp of the opening track of Malian band’s third album Optimisme that they rediscovered their mojo. More importantly, they couple this maximal brashness with tributes to those who make their world a better place: fighters for freedom, women, the young. It’s perhaps the first Songhoy Blues record to truly combine the celebratory nature of their desert blues with a balanced mixture of idealism and vigor. - JM
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Spanish Love Songs - Brave Faces Everyone (Pure Noise)  
How can you find hope in hopelessness, or optimism when every news story points to cruelty? Is it naïve to keep searching for light in the dark? I don’t think so, and I don’t think Spanish Love Songs does, either. I’d like to think we both believe that’s not naivety, but power. It’s the embers you need to really ignite a flame. After all, this is the band with a song titled “Optimism (As a Radical Life Choice)”. It’s a band whose crunching guitars and earnestness insist that despite death and depression and addiction, the instinct to survive shines brightly above all. That relentless hope resurfaces across Brave Faces Everyone’s 10 tracks even as it works through the bleakness of everyday life. - LL
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Tashi Dorji - Stateless (Drag City)
The magnum opus from the Asheville-based picker is a group of evocatively titled, disorderly songs about the desolate hellscape of America for outsiders and immigrants. Enigmatic in its nature, not exactly narrative, Stateless combines Dorji’s urgent strumming with moody motifs, captured beautifully in a studio setting for maximum emotional wallop. - JM
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Touche Amore - Lament (Epitaph)
Is this what an almost uplifting Touche Amore album sounds like? It’s cathartic in a newer way for the band, especially after the beautifully rendered grief of Stage Four. Lament loses none of the band’s aggression or urgency. “Come Heroine” thrusts listeners into that urgency and introduces a moment of warmth, Jeremy Bolm’s vocals still rasping and insistent: “You brought me in / You took to me / And reversed the atrophy.” The bounciness of “Reminders” may seem close to optimism, but a sharper look at the lyrics uncovers more than blindly looking to the things that bring joy. “I’ll Be Your Host” is reflective, a few years removed from Touche Amore’s previous album and the immediacy of loss, self-aware and growing, but still raw. The album closer, “A Forecast”, takes a turn, a lone voice and piano acting as a confessional before giving way to thrashing guitars and the realization that growth and reckoning with trauma doesn’t mean minimizing it. It means learning to keep moving forward and to stop for help when you may need it. - LL
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Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud (Merge)
The best album yet from Katie Crutchfield is inspired by positive personal change (getting sober, dealing with codependency issues, her blossoming love with singer-songwriter Kevin Morby) and reflections on family and friends. Named after the suburb of Orlando where her father’s from, Saint Cloud is a genre-hopping collection of stories and feelings that doesn’t necessarily follow any semblance of narrative. On opener “Oxbow” and country-tinged ditty “Can’t Do Much”, Crutchfield’s increasingly aware of the need to pick your side and your battles, whether in the relationship between two people or between the allure of the bottle and the next-day hangover. Some of the best songs on the album see her finding commonalities with others as a means towards self-love. Gentle strummer “The Eye” refers to her natural creative relationships with Morby and her sister Allison. “War” she wrote for herself and best friend, who is also sober, the title a metaphor for one’s fight to remain substance-free. “Witches” is an ode to her best friends, including Allison and Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan, all equally frustrated by the toxic nature of the music industry and the world at large, ultimately lifting each other up because they simply have each other.
Read our full review here.
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newmusicmonthly · 4 months ago
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2020
Hello. I hope you and yours are well. As is tradition, below are my selections for albums and songs of the year. As I have yet to receive a reply from you, dear reader, sincerely asking to unsubscribe, you are therefore the proud recipient of the list once more! I’ve altered the format from 5 tracks each month because, as I suspect many of you did, I went into a nostalgic hole for large chunks of this year (for me this consisted of at least two months of nothing but Funkadelic, which does mean my personalised algorithm is now ace), but also when I looked back at when many of these tracks were released it was front heavy for the first half of the year – another body blow to the supposed “monthly” mailer. I even considered not writing my one-liners, but where is the fun in that? Furthermore, trying to keep the long list to 60 tracks in total (equivalent to 5 per month) proved overly frustrating, so I’ve included some extras, especially as this year felt 13 month long. Notwithstanding said excuses, enough preamble, on with the list! Let me know what you think and do send me your own selections. Lots of love xx TOP 10s TOP 10 ALBUMS Baxter Dury – The Night Chancers Mildlife – Automatic SAULT – Untitled (Black Is) Alice Boman – Dream On Kanaan – Odense Sessions Lightning Orchestra – Source And Deliver Yves Tumor – Heaven To A Tortured Mind The Strokes – The New Abnormal Woods – Strange to Explain Erland Cooper – Hether Blether TOP 10 TRACKS Malena Zavala – En la Noche Caribou – You & I Yves Tumor – Kerosene! Puscifer – Apocalyptical Mildlife – Automatic King Hannah – Meal Deal SAULT – Wildfires // Bow [yes, there are two tracks there] Kanaan – Urgent Excursions To the Tundrasphere Frazey Ford – Golden Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure? NEW MUSIC ‘MONTHLY’ MAILER Spotify Link Here Holy Fuck – Near Mint What better way to kick off a retrospective look at 2020 than with ‘Holy Fuck’ Alice Boman – It’s OK, It’s Alright Really love this album and this pick is a real downer, spectral and haunting but also touching Smoke Fairies – Out Of The Woods Jessica and Katherine still delivering a decade on, the chorus guitar riff is tops Nicolas Godin – The Border Air’s Nicolas Godin doing his best detached friendly robot, mais bien sur Moses Boyd – BTB Vibrant, propulsive, energetic, gotta move! The Men – Wading In Dirty Water Avid readers will know I’m a fan of these guys and this one rides a familiar Crazy Horse choogle Tame Impala – Breathe Deeper Funky bass, piano flourishes, solid synths, all groove Kanaan – Urgent Excursions To the Tundrasphere Ok, here it is, there’s always going to be at least one – this is the 14 min space rock jam – skip/enjoy! Frazey Ford – Golden This production is right up my street, soulful vocals swoop around tight rhythm section and hammond keys, an analogue dream Caribou – You and I From the analogue to a digital master, man this beat is catchy Pulled By Magnets – Cold Regime People Die File this under terrifying experimental jazz Jonathan Wilson – Riding The Blinds JW doing that 6/8 minor ballad thang Baxter Dury – Say Nothing Another album I loved this year and could have picked any number of tracks, so here’s a quote from Baxter: “My craft and in a sense a certain style has been perfected and it’s easy… I don’t have to do it again basically. I don’t want to hear another man talking over an orchestral background.” Ha! U.S. Girls – 4 American Dollars Slick funky, soulful, classic strings, building into a brilliant outro with great lyrics Deeper – Lake Song Detached vibe ala Joy Division / The Cure done through a Pavement lens with serious downer lyrics Pretty Lightning – Voo Doo Boo Swampy dirge guitar grooves Tamikrest – Anha Achal Wad Namda Another mailer favourite, Touareg guitar wizards Tony Allen, Hugh Masekela – Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same) Master drummer who sadly passed away earlier this year just after this release, and two years after master trumpeter Masekela’s own passing, this track is a buzzing tribute to Fela Myrkur – House Carpenter Danish black metaller does Scandinavian folk: bright and beautiful Sufjan Stevens, Lowell Brams – The Runaround A weird album, even by Sufjan standards, but I found these electronic ambient sounds strangely comforting R.A.P. Ferreira – ABSOLUTES Rhythm & poetry The Weeknd – Blinding Lights What can I add to the smash of 2020? Catchy af Porridge Radio – Long Indie banger, with a decidedly angry, bitter, playful lyrics Cleo Sol – Her Light If online research is to be believed Cleo is part of the collective in SAULT with producer Inflo, but this album is standalone brilliance without knowing that, this is pure vintage soul vibes Malena Zavala – En la Noche I returned to this track more than any other this year, the rhythm, the vocals, the melody, the production, even if I have to use google translate to fully understand the lyrics Tom Misch, Yussef Dayes – Lift Off Molten guitar, groovy arrangements, and plenty of business from Dayes Yves Tumor – Kerosene! An absolute belter, amazing vocals, groove and crescendo perfection Warm Digits, The Orielles – Shake The Wheels Off (feat. The Orielles) Immediate synth pop, indie dancefloor (with some solid cowbell) EOB – Brasil First solo venture for Ed, acoustic folk gives way to rumbling bass banger, would very much like to experience this in a field Other Lives – Hey Hey I Grand rocking orchestral aural assault with hints of Morricone Elephant Tree – Sails Fulfilling the heavy dirge quota, that hit at 2:33 is a proper head in the speakers moment The Strokes – Why Are Sundays So Depressing This album snuck up on me, and then I found myself listening to it non-stop, this track such an ear worm Houses of Heaven – In Soft Confusion I think the right descriptor is darkwave – insistent drum machine, reverb soaked vocals, industrial production, gloomy pop hooks Joel Sarakula – Don’t Give Up on Me Operating in a dangerous space between homage and pastiche, groove and parody, this is smooth easy yacht rock Donny Benét – Second Dinner Following hot on the heels of pastiche, this time with tongue firmly in cheek, The Don and his 80s reverence lolz Perfume Genius – Whole Life Completely arresting, the lyrics an absolute gut punch, yet still gorgeous Jake Blount – Beyond This Wall From the press release, this album “features fourteen carefully chosen tracks drawn from Blount’s extensive research of Black and Indigenous mountain music. The result is an unprecedented testament to the voices paradoxically obscured yet profoundly ingrained into the Appalachian tradition” – this contemporary instrumental is a superb banjo and fiddle tune Holy Hive – Broom Formed by the drummer from the Dap Tones and inspired by being on tour with Lee Fields, this gentle soul, complete with tremolo guitar and horns, really floats Woods – Where Do You Go When You Dream A welcome return to form, this mellotron infused number is beautifully catchy Erland Cooper – Linga Holm Dramatic piano and strings from an altogether wild and wonderful album Mystery Jets – Screwdriver Loud / quiet dynamic, bombastic riffs, seething verses, the Jets turn it up to eleven to fight with love Jehnny Beth – Flower Another track where hushed verses give way to chorus explosions, serious tension and intensity Hinds – Good Bad Times Love that thudding bass drum, big stomping pop Norah Jones – Were You Watching? Smooth but haunting, with added Celtic flavour Braids – Young Buck Bleeps and bloops, melancholic poppy vocals, and the damnedest catchiest chorus Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure? Is it getting hot in here? No further questions LA Priest – What Moves Quirky strutting electro, sleek yet squelchy SAULT – Wildfires + SAULT, Michael Kiwanuka – Bow Double billing because I couldn’t make a choice (plus when I realised the rhythms flow perfectly into one another it’s like it’s one song) Run The Jewels – a few words for the firing squad (radiation) Again, difficult to choose which track on this album; this is pure fire with sax and all GUM – The Thrill Of Doing It Right Turn this feel good banger up! Such a big hit when the horns drop at the start The Vacant Lots - Fracture Catchy, icy, synths (and Desert Sands label mates by the by) A.A. Williams – Melt Enchanting slow-burning, stirring post-rock, with a wonderful, soaring crescendo Lightning Orchestra – For Those Who Are Yet To Be Born A late discovery, but immediately catapulted to the top, self-described “psychedelic booty-shake” Kamaal Williams – Save Me Almost chose ‘Pigalle’ but the tight push drumming on this won out, hard funky jazz stylings of the Herbie variety Victoria Monét – Dive Lavish and groovy, and as Monét puts it: “They say most humans are about 60% water, but I believe women must be 69% so dive in baby." Secret Machines – Talos’ Corpse Genuinely so happy to see Brandon and Josh back and still with the big sounds All Them Witches – Enemy of My Enemy Relentlessly heavy, all the chops and described by one reviewer as the love child of TOOL, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Kyuss; I love this band Fenne Lily – Birthday Beautiful and bruised Mildlife – Automatic Another new discovery, in the pocket cosmic goodness and much as it pains me to quote from NME I can’t think of a better description than ‘Mobius strip funk’ Puscifer – Apocalyptical Maynard in the video for this track is an indelible image; massive swaggering Intruder-esque drums, angular menacing guitars, Carina’s ethereal edgy vocals, Maynard’s gritted teeth whispers, and apposite apocalyptical lyrics Matt Berninger – Loved So Little Confessional moody acoustic conjuring up Western-esque vistas Goldensuns – Denandra Moore Californian sun-drenched lo-fi groove, for fans of Conan Mockasin and Night Moves Frankie and the Witch Fingers – Cavehead F*cking excellent west coast garage psych melange and the B,D,E ascend at 3:10 is nod central King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – The Hungry Wolf Of Fate Genre bending brilliance once again from down under, this cut a heavy, doomy Sabbath assault King Hannah – Meal Deal Ominous drone opens into an acoustic tale of buying a flat with a spider in the bath, Hannah’s sinister smoky sultry vocals draw you in, before some menacing low frequency dirge guitar and drums kick in at 1:30… By this point on first listen I was already hooked, but then comes a great walloping Angel Olsen ‘Sister’ style crescendo, a glorious find at the end of the year (props to Manuel) HONOURABLE MENTIONS Elephant Stone – I See You Sam Lee, Elizabeth Frazer – The Moon Shines Bright Priscilla Ermel – Martim Pescador Rheinzand – Blind Dogleg – Fox The Flaming Lips, Deap Lips – Home Thru Hell The Heliocentrics – Hanging By A Thread Midwife – 2018 Chicano Batman – Color My life Trace Mountains – Rock & Roll Peach Pit – Shampoo Bottles Buscabulla – Vámono Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Cars In Space Jess Williamson – Wind on Tin Thiago Nassif, Arto Lindsay – Plástico The Vacant Lots – Endless Rain Nubya Garcia – Stand With Each Other (Feat. Ms MAURICE, Cassie Kinoshi, & Richie Seivwright) Juanita Stein – L.O.T.F. Carlton Melton – Waylay Paul McCartney – Long Tailed Winter Bird
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mintmatcha · 4 months ago
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ukai keishin - grumpy
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amy!!!! ty so much for the request- i really admire your writing and i hope you like this!!!]
Summary: just a snapshot of your relationship with keishin
Contains: NFSW, 18+, no reader pronouns, reader has a vagina, new relationship/established relationship, soft smut, slight mention of relationship issues.
ukai x reader
word count: 4k
cross posted: ao3
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The woody vine digs into the pad of your thumb as you pluck another pepper. The repetition has dug a noticeable indentation into the skin, one that makes you wince every time you harvest a vegetable. In the low light of pre-dawn, sun still tucked behind the mountains, you can't see the bruising on your fingers, but you can feel how it pulses. Popping the digit into your mouth, the warmth of your tongue is automatically soothing, so much so that you can ignore the soft taste of soil on your skin.
“I told you to bring gloves.” Keishin chides, barely looking up at you. He’s squatted a couple feet away, elbows resting on his thighs as he works. The rubber boots, with his oversized overalls crammed into the top, squeak every time he shifts. Pick, squeak, pick, squeak. You open your mouth to tease him, but the way his eyes meet yours, steeled and firm, tell you he’s not in the mood. Cinching his teeth around the worn leather, he pulls his hand from the glove and leaves it dangling from his mouth, lips curled to avoid touching the dust directly. Even in his goofy attire, there’s something about his focus- the downward cast of his eyes, the hint of his canine over the leather, the steadiness of his hands- that makes your heart flutter. Wordlessly, he takes the glove out of his mouth and tosses it your way. You catch it with a fumble.
“Are you sure?” you ask as you pull it on. The tips of the glove gap above your fingertips, bending outward as you clench your fist.  “What about you?”
He shrugs and returns to work. Even in the darkness you can see his scowl. “I guess I’m not as delicate as you.”
You didn’t blame him. He doesn’t mean to be this… grumpy. This was the worst time of year for Keishin; harvest season overlapped with volleyball preliminaries. The late nights he had been pulling with the team after work on top of these early mornings at his family’s farm had to be draining. It was no wonder that date nights had become nearly nonexistent. It didn’t help that your work schedule often led to you working on the weekends, meaning that between the two of you there were no free days. Sleepovers are far and few between; both of you still live at home and, despite the fact you are both well into your twenties, your parents weren’t too keen on your sleeping next to someone while unwed. No free days, no free nights.
Again, you didn’t blame him. It wasn’t like he was trying to avoid you, three jobs was a lot for anyone. It was hard to ignore your concern for his well-being, but he was always quick to dismiss your worries. ‘I’m an adult.’ he always insisted. ‘I can balance myself.’ 
Was it selfish to miss him? Was it selfish to wish there was an extra hour in his day for you? 
“You didn’t have to come.” Ukai says, matter-of-fact. “You should be sleeping right now.” 
“I want to be here.” you insist. It’s almost a lie. Do you really want to be here, squatting in the dirt, picking vegetables at 5:30am? Of course not, but you wanted to be here for him. With him. 
The metal thermos at your feet wobbles as you adjust, the deep squat you’ve been sitting in starting to ache deep in your thighs. Dropping forward onto your knees, the gravel of the path digging into your kneecaps, you wrap your hands around the metal, pressing it against your chest to feel the ambient warmth. The blonde doesn’t turn from his work, but he does tilt his head towards you, a small sign of his attention.
“You gonna hold it or drink it?’ 
You huff before taking a delicate sip, trying to avoid burning your lips. “I’m savoring it, ‘Shin.”
“ ‘Savoring it.’ ” he repeats. The grit of sleep still clings to his voice. He sounds weathered, tired. “Are you gonna let me ‘savor’ some of that?”
“Maybe.” you take another sip before placing the cup back down, this time closer to him, a silent invitation. It’s like trying to feed a stray cat, luring him in with the promise of something tasty. “If you’re good.”
A long moment passes and he doesn’t move, he just studies you. There may have been a flicker of a smile, a hint of a good mood hiding underneath the surface, but it's gone before you can process it.
“You know.” he says, “I don’t know how you do it.” he continues working with bare hands and, even without protection, he works so much faster than you. You can tell he’s been doing this for years; every twist of his wrist seems practiced. It’s something you try and emulate each time you’re here with him, but it only slows you down more. 
“Do what?”
Keishin finally stops. He chews his cheek for a moment, eyes flickering across your features. He opens his mouth, then shuts it with a sigh as he weakly gestures to the thermos at your feet. “The coffee. How do you make the coffee?”
You can’t help but sigh as you fall back onto your seat. You cross your legs as you grab the thermos, taking a deep pull. Again, you savor it with a hum and Keishin snorts at your antics. He picks from the row of plants once more before standing. Hands on the back of his pelvis, he stretches slowly, popping his back with the same care an old man would. It reminds you of his grandfather, but you keep that remark to yourself. 
“ ‘Shin, you make yourself coffee every day- probably the same way I do.” you say as he plops himself next to you. The cup is already waiting for him when he reaches for it.
“But yours is always better.” he doesn’t say it with the sweetness of a compliment- he says it like a fact. It shouldn’t make you smile this wide, but it does. He blows over the lid of the mug, watching the steam twist into the air for a moment before taking a drink. It was your coffee, but  you had made it for him- just a splash of cream, a crazy amount of sugar: just the way he likes it.  The crinkle at the corner of his eye as drinks tells you that he notices. 
“Are you savoring it?” you ask. He just closes his eyes and sighs.
"I guess I am."
Even without looking, his pinky finds yours, looping together gently. It's the gloveless hand, finding yours. Bare skin against bare skin, warmth against warm. Your body prickles with warmth as he squeezes; something about him pulling you closer, even if it’s just a finger’s width closer, makes your heart jump.  It’s funny how the smallest gesture makes you melt. Keishin didn’t always have a lot to give you; your relationship was a collection of these small moments together, settled between his jobs and yours, but it was enough. 
Every moment together is restorative.
“Cinnamon.” you press a kiss into his shoulder as you snag your cup back. He peeks at you through one open eye,  “I put cinnamon in the coffee.”
Keishin leans into you, resting his head against your shoulder. He nuzzles into your sleeve, drawing in a deep breath, before pulling away to sit up straight again. Reaching back into the row of plants before you, he plucks one carefully before dropping it into the bucket. “Nah, that’s not it.”
You blink. “Uh, yeah. It is.”
“Nah. It’s because it’s made with love.” he smirks.
You pretend to think for a moment. "Actually, I didn't make this cup with love- so you're wrong."
He rolls his head back to watch you. "Oh yeah?"
"I made it with hate." 
"Really." he tilts his body, chest pressed against your shoulder.
"You didn’t taste my loathing?" you tease.
The tip of his nose grazes your ear, nudging you softly. His breath warms the side of your face, lips just a moment from your skin. He’s patient, waiting for you to come to him. You try and resist for just a moment, but he nudges you with a huff. 
You can’t help but crumble.
 There’s a hint of a chuckle as you finally turn to meet his lips. The kiss is off center, connecting at the corner of your mouth. You try to pull back to correct it when a leathered hand grips on to your jaw and he holds your face steady, squishing your lips with sheer force. Ukai doesn’t hesitate to deepen the kiss, his tongue swiping your lower lip before dipping into your mouth. He tastes like coffee and cinnamon, sweet and bitter. With every movement, he savors you, pulling you deeper and deeper until the both of you are twisted into each other's embrace. 
When he pulls away, it’s too soon. It’s not until he’s panting against you that you realize your own lungs are burning for air, almost as if your hunger for him had outweighed your need to breathe.
He hums thoughtfully. “I dunno, tastes like love to me.”
You roll your eyes, trying to bite back your smirk as you lean in for another kiss. “God, you’re the worst, Shin.”
This time, he doesn’t connect. Instead, he pulls away, mouth downturned once again as he stares back into the sea of green. It’s an unfocused stare, focused more on his thoughts than his surroundings. 
“Yeah, I kinda am, aren’t I?”
“Hey, what-” you struggle with what to say. “Don’t be like that.”
“I mean, it’s true.” he shrugs. “This is our first date in, what? 3 weeks? And we’re working on my fucking grandpa’s-”
Your elbow cracks against the soft of his ribs, a bit harder than necessary. He wheezes slightly as you knock the air out of him. “Negativity be gone.”
He whines a bit too dramatically. “Oh my god, what’s wrong with you? Did you learn that from Sugawara? I’m never letting you watch a game ever again.”
It’s hard to hold back your smirk. “I mean- it worked! I’m not going to let you ruin the moment with your nega-!”
“Shut up for a second!” he says and this time he’s the one throwing an elbow. “I’m trying to apologize for being a shitty boyfriend!”
“You shut up!” you mirror him, but he’s ready this time. His response is quick, catching your arms against his. You two continue, poking back and forth roughly, laughter bubbling up. “You don’t need to apologize for being busy!”
“Well, I’m going to.” he grabs the edge of your shirt, leaning into you once again. “Come here and accept it.”
The gravel shifts under your feet as you scramble to stand, pulling out of his grasp. He watches you in confusion as you back away, but his look quickly transforms into something playfully predatory. The shift is wordless, but both of you understand the game that’s about to unfold. 
“Come. Here.”
“No way.”
You turn on your heel and run. Keishin’s quick, grunting with effort as he throws himself forward. The sound of his shoes, squeaking against the rock, is faster than you anticipate and you have to force your legs to pump quicker. The  cool morning air burns your throat as you barrel down the row, the dew covered leaves brushing against your arms and leaving wet stripes. Something about the simple act of moving dissolves all your tension, all your worries. 
You turn your head to check in on your pursuer. Keishin is behind you, running with just as much force as you, but he’s grinning ear to ear with breathless laugh. It’s not his usual mischievous grin, but a soft one. A relaxed one. His baseball cap is halfway off of his head, caught by the wind, but he doesn’t reach to save it. He’s too busy reaching for you.
Everything is quiet except the two of you, laughing breathlessly as you chase each other like children. The sun has just started to crest the mountains, illuminating the sky with a blur of pastels. The pink of the sky reflects in his hair, catching in the glint of his eye as his gaze meets yours, and something in your brain tells you that you’ll remember this exact moment for the rest of your life.  You want the moment to freeze, to stay  in this childish bliss forever-
-but, of course, it doesn’t.
The rubber toe of Keishin’s boot catches a rock, sending him tumbling forward into a slow fall. He stumbles, catching himself for a moment before falling onto his knees, then his face. With a wince, he rolls on to his back, arms and legs spread eagle in defeat. Oversized pants, chunky boots, a stupid baseball cap: he looked more like an exhausted toddler than an adult. You slow to a jog, trying to pretend his fall wasn’t absolutely hilarious, but your stomach is clenching with the repressed laughter. Backtracking, you join his crumbled form.
“You okay?” you’re panting much harder than you should be. God,  shouldn’t the smoker be less athletic? 
“No, I think I’m really hurt.” 
“Where? Your knees?” you drop to your knees immediately and reach for him, taking his hands in yours. The palm of his non gloved hand is scraped, but there’s no sign of blood. 
“My ego.” he groans, “I think I bruised it.”
You  let out something that isn’t quite a sigh or a groan. “You jerk.” you lean down and place a kiss on the bridge of his nose, right over where it crinkles when he smiles. “You had me worried for a second.”
He cranes forward to press his lips against yours, but only going as far as to brush his lips against yours. Every movement of your lips is a ghost against his, each breath more present than the feeling of skin. Each kiss is just a tease, barely a taste, and it makes you feel hungry. His hand circles your waist before drawing a line up your spine and your hunger deepens, burning deep into your core.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been around lately.” he says against your skin, hand guiding you closer to him. You lay down next to him, resting your head on his bicep. It should feel silly, to be laying in the dirt, in the middle of the field, but there’s something so natural about being with him that makes you forget about your surroundings. There’s something natural and unadulterated about being quiet with each other.
“It won’t be like this forever, I promise.” he’s the first to break the silence. “One day, we’ll see each other every day. Just- be patient with me.”
You kiss his shoulder. “You’re worth the wait.” you place another one a few inches upwards. “I miss you, but you’ll always be worth the wait.”
Ukai rolls, throwing a knee over your hips to loom over you. His bangs tickle your forehead as he kisses you. It’s short. “I miss you.”
He places another peck on your lips. “Every day.”
Another kiss catches you off guard. “Every night.” 
Another one. This one is long enough for you to kiss back. “Constantly. I miss you constantly.”
You hook a leg over his ass, fingers starting to fiddle with the buttons holding his overalls up. “Prove it.”
He hesitates. Tilting his head up, he holds his breath as he scans the row, searching for any signs of movement in the distance. Until now, you had forgotten that other people even exist. The air is still, only the distant sound of crows cutting through the silence. His muscles relax against you after a moment, gaze returning to study your features. 
“I missed you.” he leans in and breathes into the shell of your ear before sinking his canines into the lobe. The sharpness sends you keening in surprise, pressing yourself farther into him. He takes the opportunity to tuck his arm under the arch of your back, using the angle to hold your hips against his, his forming bulge pressed right against your core. Your hands are still twiddling with the clasp on his overalls, your proximity to him making the simple task much harder than it should be. Every one of his movements is pulling you into him, like he can’t get you close enough to be satisfied. He sucks on the soft on your neck finishing the hickey off with a bite.
“Why’d you wear these stupid, ugly pants?” you huff as you finally free a button. Ukai breaks away from your neck to laugh before tracing his tongue across the bruise. The warmth surprises you and you can’t stop the whine that escapes you. 
“Fuck off.” his free hand easily unclinches your pants before shoving them down. The denim digs into the plush of your thighs as he struggles to place himself between your legs. The ground is cold and coarse against your bare skin, but you can’t focus on anything other than the heat of his breath trailing down your neck.
“Fuck- I missed you.” he repeats as you finally unclasp his overalls and slide them down. They hang off his hips, just low enough for his erection to hang over the fabric, his dooling cockhead resting against your stomach. Firmly, he taps his cock against you with a soft thwack, watching the translucent strings of precum connecting you stretch and break. It dribbles on the hem of your shirt and you want to admonish him for it, but when your eyes meet, his blown out pupils take your words away. The way he watches you, eyes hazed over with lust, is borderline feral. All you can do is kick down a pant leg, freeing your leg and allowing it to fall farther open for him.
Keishin slides further down you, greedily dragging the spongy head of his cock through your folds, gathering your slick. Each pass across your clit makes you twitch, thighs squeezing around his hips.  With a wolfish grin, he splits your cunt with his free hand and whistles at the sight. 
“I missed this pretty little pussy.” he pressed forward unceremoniously and the head of his cock squeezes into you with a pop. The stretch aches, but something deeper in you is burning for more. “Fuck, look how wet you are… “
He’s quick to bottom out, slamming his hips into yours as if he can’t hold back any longer. His eyes are struggling to stay open as he rolls his hips against you faster, struggling to continue watching your poor pussy struggle to take him. The weeks without him have left you desperate, hips uncontrollably bucking against his. The rhythm is off, your bodies struggling to keep up with each other and just ending up slamming against each other unevenly. It’s wild,  it leaves you breathless but your approaching high is so painfully close, neither of you can slow down to gather yourselves.
“You’re so good, fuck, so tight…” his head lolls forward, eyes fluttering closed, “You… so good… so hot… fuck, I missed you.”
Your hands wander up the front of his shirt, nails scraping against his chest. “Ple-ase, Keishin.” you beg, too breathless to say anything else. The sound of your voice makes him crumple over with a whine, fingers digging painfully hard into the fat of your hips as he struggles to pull you impossibly close. His cock twitches, spilling pulse after pulse of hot cum deep inside you. 
“Shit. Shit, shit, shit.” he murmurs, hips dragging out of you slowly. The movement makes you feel sloppy, the mixture of his cum and yours spilling down the crack of your ass. The sheer lewdness of it makes your core clench with desire, but the fading heat in your core makes you feel borderline nauseous. 
As you begin to untangle yourself, trying to hide your disappointment, he pulls you back in.
“Don’t.” he whispers into your chest. “I’m not- I’m not done with you.”
Ukai’s headband has slipped backwards, barely hanging on to the back of his head. The mess of blonde, half of it plastered to his forehead, tickles your cheek as he kisses your cheek. The edge of desperation is gone, replaced with something gentler, as he rolls back into you. Every bit of friction has been replaced with the slick, warmness of his cum. 
“I wanna wake up next to you every day.” Something about cumming has made him sappy. His hand dips low to circle your clit, tracing those practiced patterns you love so much. This time, instead of a fast, dangerous rise, the heat inside you pours slowly, like magma flowing through your core. 
“I’m going to buy you a big ol’ house.” he mumbles into your chest, looking up at you through his eyelashes. “And a pretty little ring. And -oh fuck you feel so good-  and, and you’re never gonna miss me again.” 
God, the term making love is corny, so impossibly cringey, but as he whispers those promises into your skin, you understand it. It’s more about the need to feel closer, the need to hold and be held. It’s three weeks of emotions that neither of you can vocalize.
Fuck, you feel so full. Physically, emotionally. Every caress is tender, delicate and appreciative. Your thumbs trace over his crow’s feet and for the umpteeth time this morning, you savor the moment. 
“I wanna be with you forever.”
Everything feels in focus- the friction of his jeans against your knees, the fabric clinging to your stomach, prickled with sweat, the ministrations of your lover’s lips against your skin as he whispers sweet nothings into you- but everything fades as you cum. Your orgasm hits slowly; you don’t even know you’re there until your legs are kicking out uncontrollably. Fingers tangled in the cotton of his shirt, you keen one last time. In the blur, you’re faintly aware of him joining you, his words dissolving into whines.
It takes a heartbeat for everything to still again. Keishin tilts his head up, studying you for a moment before speaking. 
“‘M so tired.” he essentially collapses on you, knocking the air out of your lungs. The lay he goes immediately slack in your arms would have been cute if whte weight of his body wasn’t pressing our bare skin into the gravel under you.  “I’m gonna nap.”
After quickly ruffling his hair, you press him up, gentling encouraging him to get off. “Come on, sleepyhead, your grandpa’s gonna start looking for us if we’re gone for too long.”
Keishin grimaces, propping himself up onto his elbows as he withdraws from you. The air against the mess on your thighs makes you shiver. “Please don’t mention the old man while I’m still inside you.”
He falls back into his heels and leaves you laying there. Before adjusting himself, he takes your bare leg by the ankle and tries to slip your pant leg back on. The hem gets caught on your heel and he fumbles.
“I can dress myself, Shin, you don’t have to.” you sigh, even as you adjust to make it easier. Denim sticks to your wet skin and he continues to work, completely ignoring your protest. As you lift your hips, letting him slide it past your waist. “Did you mean it?” 
He hums a question, buttoning your pants.
“You really wanna spend the rest of your days with me?”
Ukai looks up at you. “Well. Yeah, of course.” he smiles, “Who else is gonna put cinnamon in my coffee?”
712 notes · View notes
its-nuwanda-baby · 4 months ago
its a bit of a odd pair but maybe some neil x knox?? hcs if you do them or a confession fic 👉👈
confession one shot, coming right up!
A Punch in the Right Direction (Knox x Neil)
Warnings: underaged drinking, language, slight mentions of blood, slight mentions of homophobia (only in the beginning!)
I PROMISE YOU IT’S WAYYY FLUFFIER THAN IT SOUNDS LOLL
when neil befriends a girl at rehearsals, he has no idea that she will single-handedly deliver him his doom... in the form of one, stupidly wasted knox overstreet. chaos ensues. also Todd and Stick are boyfriends because I can, and because that funky lil man will have a place in everything I write (I am but a stick stan account). ENJOY!!! let me know what you think!
Neil Perry had always known he was gay. He knew right when he kissed Charlie in the first grade, on a dare from Pitts, that this was what a crush was supposed to feel like. He accepted early on in life that the world was not kind to people like him. He understood that words like “queer,” “fairy,” and “homo” were names for people like him, and that the sneers of disgust that accompanied them were just part of a package deal. He knew when he started school at Welton Academy that there was the inevitable danger of crushing on roommates and friends, and by his senior year at the all boys school, he was used to the routine of identifying and burying unwanted feelings until they were forgotten. So, when Knox Overstreet had leaned against his doorframe on the first day of school, smirking like an idiot, Neil had no problem identifying the beginnings of a crush bubbling in his chest. He had no problem, when Knox had reached out to shake the hand of Neil’s new (incredibly shy) roommate, pushing down the goofy smile that had threatened to spread on his face at how sweet Knox was being. Neil Perry had a crush on Knox Overstreet, and, given his previous experiences, it was about as scary as a kitten.
He had no problem hiding his disappointment when Knox announced he wouldn’t be at study group that night, even trying to pull him out of his obvious state of disappointment- “anything’s better than Hell-ton hash, Knox…” he had said, with just the perfect amount of nonchalance to make it convincing. Oh well, he thought, at least it would be easier to focus on the trig homework he needed to finish. 
And, when Knox returned, looking like his head was stuck in the atmosphere of Jupiter, Neil had so convincingly feigned his excitement when Knox had announced his infatuation with Chris- “are you crazy? What’s wrong with that?”- when the only thought going through his head had been you idiot, she has a boyfriend. What about me? I’m right here? 
Neil Perry was, for the most part, a good actor. He could play the part of the excited friend, the matchmaker, the hopeless romantic, and he could play them with ease. It was Todd’s fault, really, that everything had begun to unravel. That the feelings became too much to bury. In Neil’s experience, once it was out in the open, there’s no going back. If only Todd wasn’t so damn observant.
The conversation had gone somewhat normal, in the beginning:
“I dunno, Todd… I guess I just don’t understand it! I mean, she has a boyfriend already! If Knox really loves her so much, why isn’t he happy for her?”
“Neil, no offense, but don’t you have more important things to worry about than Knox’s love life?”
“Like?”
“Like, just about everything else? Why is it so important to you, anyways?”
That had shut Neil up. Maybe he wasn’t too good at hiding his feelings, after all. Then, the dreaded question reared its ugly head.
“Do you… like Knox?”
He had never been good at this part, the part where he had to lie about his feelings. Usually, nobody could even tell something was off, and he never even had to think about what to say if someone guessed. Todd was just… different, somehow. Neil knew he was also queer. He had seen Todd holding hands with another boy from their hall, nicknamed Stick. They were a nice couple, and Neil had to bite back his jealousy at seeing what he only wished he could have with Knox. 
“Neil? You know you can tell me, right?”
“You know the answer to that question already.”
Todd gave a small nod and moved to sit next to Neil, putting an arm around his shoulders.
“You know, I may be the newest addition to this friend group, but I don’t think Chris is the one Knox really wants.”
And before Neil could process the implications of the statement, Stick was at their door, and Todd was waving goodbye to Neil and leaning to kiss his boyfriend hello, and then they were gone.
But, if not Chris, then who? The question haunted his mind for days, and by the end of October, Neil Perry’s crush had grown into quite a bit more, which meant that burying his feelings was about to get a hell of a lot more complicated. Thanks to rehearsals and a new friend, maybe even impossible.
Neil enjoyed rehearsals. He loved watching his fellow actors lose themselves in the performance. He loved listening to the chatter of the tech crew as they discussed backdrops and lighting. He loved the smell of sawdust and paint that lingered in the air and on his clothes. The one thing he never really got the hang of was the talking. Despite being known as a social butterfly at Welton, the mixture of Henley Hall girls and public school kids was a whole new atmosphere for him, and if there’s one thing Neil Perry hated, it was change. So, when the girl who played Hermia walked up and introduced herself, he was so overjoyed at the prospect of a friend that he hadn’t stopped to ponder over the familiarity of her surname. 
“Hey, you look a little lost! I’m Ginny, Ginny Danbury. I play Hermia.”
He had looked up, unsure at first of whether he was the one being addressed. In discovering that he was, his face broke out into the trademark Neil Perry Smile, the one he reserved for his dad and Dr. Nolan. 
“Neil. Perry. I, uh, I play Puck.”
They had shaken hands, he in his crown of twigs, and she in her pink tulle dress, and a friendship was born. 
Two weeks before the performance, she mentioned her older brother. 
“So, I got home last night, and Chet- that’s my brother, by the way- Chet asked me if I had been hooking up with someone. Apparently, he thinks the only valid reason to be out late is if you’re getting laid…”
She had kept talking after that, but Neil had stopped listening. What had Knox said about that girl? Practically engaged… to Chet Danbury. When rehearsal was over that night, Ginny asked Neil a question.
“Would you mind giving me your phone number?”
The smell of cheap liquor greeted Knox before he had even opened the door. Charlie’s words rang in his head; you don’t really think she means you’re going with her? He was right, after all… this was Chris’s boyfriend’s house, and he was a guest. His guest. He was really starting to regret passing up a Poets meeting for this, when he could have been cozied up next to Neil in the cave. Neil… with his perfect brown eyes that should be considered national treasures, in Knox’s opinion, and a voice like velvet… Neil, the reason he had even begun pursuing Chris in the first place, as a way to distract him from the true object of his affections. Neil, whose absent-minded, yearning looks were surely reserved for everyone, not just him… keep it together, Knox, tonight is the night you forget about Neil Perry, once and for all.
“Carpe diem, Knoxious… carpe diem.”
He opened the door.
About an hour later, he was wasted. His earlier attempt to get a beer had been sabotaged by two football players who were a little too closely acquainted with the bottles of vodka and whiskey lined up on the counter. Before he knew what was happening, his beer had been replaced by a shot of liquor that smelled exactly like the stuff his sisters used to clean off their nail polish, and he had been affectionately dubbed “Mutt Sanders’ brother” by the shorter of the two jocks, despite his protests of never having met a Mutt Sanders. A few shots later and he was stumbling into the basement, nearly incoherent. What happened after that would surely remain burned into his memory forever, but the most that he could bring himself to tell anyone was that he had somehow ended up on the floor with a bloody nose and a splitting headache.
The full story is a bit more complicated. Knox, intoxicated and feeling brave, had begun his search for Chris in the kitchen, weaving around crowds of people he didn’t know. If he had been sober, he certainly would have been a little less obvious, but Knox Overstreet was a man on a mission, and although the alcohol helped him focus on the task at hand (find Chris, woo Chris, (maybe) hook up with Chris, fall in love with Chris, forget Neil Perry), it certainly didn’t aid him in his attempts at subtlety. By the time he managed to get to the basement, he forgot why he was there.
Neil, Knox, you’re here to find- no, you’re here to FORGET Neil. Find Chris, forget Neil. Find Chris, forget Neil. It was here that Knox began to feel the fourth shot in his legs, and he quickly moved to sit on the couch before they gave out. Cursing his low alcohol tolerance, he began to scope out the crowd in the basement for Chris, when he suddenly became aware of two things at once: the presence of an annoyingly loud couple mid-makeout on his right, and the sleeping presence of Chris Noel on his left. And Knox Overstreet, in a burst of alcohol-infused idiocy, began to stroke her hair, and suddenly it wasn’t Chris on the couch beside him, but Neil. Neil Perry, and he was smiling up at Knox, saying something that Knox couldn’t understand because all he could see was the shape of Neil’s lips, moving ever so slowly towards his, and in that moment, as their lips met, time seemed to slow down, and the voices and music were all combining into a kind of ambient soundtrack- that is, until the distorted voice of Kitchen Jock #1 made its way into Knox’s alcohol-muddled brain, pulling him back to earth in word form.
Chet… CHET, it’s Mutt Sanders’ brother! And he’s feelin’ up YOUR GIRL!
And he wasn’t kissing Neil, he was kissing Chris, and she wasn’t asleep, she was sitting up, asking him what he was doing, and, hell, what was he doing? As he opened his mouth to answer her, he picked up a bright red blur in his peripheral vision, moving towards him.
Next thing he knew, he was on the floor.
There was a knock on the door.
“Mr. Perry. You have a phone call.”
“Yessir, I’ll be right there, sir.”
Todd shot him a confused look from where he was sat on the floor with Stick. He and Neil had left the Poets meeting about ten minutes after Charlie showed up with girls and liquor, and Meeks and Pitts had soon followed. The latter two had denied their invites to a study group, which meant they were most definitely making out in their room, so Todd had asked Neil about inviting Stick to work on the Latin conjugation assignment together, to which Neil had happily agreed.
In all honesty, Neil was glad for the phone call. Todd and Stick were so cute together it was nearly maddening, especially when Neil could so easily imagine him and Knox together in the same ways. The gentle brush of their shoulders against one another as Todd checked Stick’s spelling, the way Stick watched Todd’s lips moved as he practiced his pronunciations… to anyone else, it would have been endearing, but to Neil it felt like a lifetime prison sentence. 
Dr. Hager handed him the telephone when he got to the end of the hall, and he nodded a “thank you” before watching the man disappear into his room.
“Hello, this is Neil Perry?”
“Neil, thank goodness you’re there!”
“Ginny?”
“Yes, oh, I’m so sorry to bother you on a Friday night, but there’s been a bit of an… incident…”
Shit. Knox had been at the Danburys’ house. Neil’s blood turned to ice.
“What sort of incident? Is everyone alright?”
“Well, sort of… do you happen to know Knox Overstreet?”
Boy, did he ever…
So that’s how Neil ended up at the Danburys’ house at 10 pm on a Friday night, picking up a bleeding (and incredibly drunk) Knox. Ginny hadn’t been able to tell him what happened, and nobody else got a good look, but the story was that, while an intoxicated Knox had been trying to dance with Chris, Chet noticed and punched him in the nose. Neil believed it. 
So there they were, sitting on the dock near the lake as Neil pressed snow to the bruise that was rapidly forming around Knox’s eye. 
Around 11, Neil deemed Knox sober enough to take back to the dorms without causing suspicion, and they crept up the stairs and down the hall to Neil’s and Todd’s dorm.
Neil softly pushed the door open with his foot to see Todd at his desk, surrounded by crumpled pieces of paper. Upon seeing Knox’s inebriated state and the exhausted look on Neil’s face, he immediately jumped to help Knox out of his coat and tie while Neil guided him to sit on one of the beds.
“Neil! Buddy! How’d you get here?”
Neil and Todd immediately shushed Knox, whose bruised face contorted into a frown.
“Sorryyyy” was the slurred response, given in a sort of whisper-yell smoothie.
“Knoxy, don’t talk. Your nose is still bleeding.” Neil’s voice was dripping in concern, which caused one of Todd’s eyebrows to perk up in his tell-tale “I told you so” smirk. Knox was preoccupied with trying to lick the blood from his nose “to clean it!”, and Neil was trying to get him to sit still. 
After about an hour, Todd had gone to room with Hopkins for the night, to his immense gratitude (drunk Knox was not a character Hopkins was particularly interested in dealing with, and neither Todd nor Neil blamed him one bit). Knox, who had sobered up enough to gain the ability to form coherent sentences (but not a filter) was delighted to fill Neil in on the happenings of the party, to which Neil couldn’t bring an objection from his lips. As annoying as he could be, Neil loved Knox’s ramblings, sober or otherwise.
“And then, I was sitting on the couch and the strangest thing happened! Chris was there, but it wasn’t really Chris! It was you, Neil, can you believe it? You were there!”
Neil hummed in mock surprise, grabbing the cup of water he had gotten from the bathroom and wetting another towel.
“No, Neil, you gotta remember, you kissed me! Well, you almost did…”
Neil froze, almost dropping the water.
“I.. did what?”
“You kissed me, silly! And I thought I was drunk…”
“Knox, I wasn’t at the party… I didn’t kiss you.”
The crushed look on Knox’s face at Neil’s words would have been adorable if it hadn’t been so sad…
“You… didn’t kiss me?” Neil shook his head slowly. “But then, who did I kiss?”
“Knox, Chris’s boyfriend punched your lights out. You were seeing things.”
“But Neil, you don’t get it. That was supposed to be our kiss!”
“Shh, Knox, stop moving so much. Your nose isn’t bleeding anymore, so let’s get you to bed. Can you stand up?”
Knox pouted, pouted, which almost caused Neil to drop dead on the spot, and stood up shakily before giggling and leaning into the wall.
“Nope!” He sang, popping the “p.”
Neil sighed. Knox was wearing jeans and a dress shirt, which meant he was going to be incredibly uncomfortable. Might as well do it now, then at least he won’t remember if anything embarrassing happens…
“Knox, you’re going to be uncomfortable sleeping in that.”
“So strip me, Perry, I’m not afraid,” he said with a drunken attempt at a wink that should not have made Neil’s heart flutter in the way that it did. He sighed and moved to unbutton Knox’s shirt, breathing another sigh of relief when he was met with the sight of a cotton t-shirt underneath. Crisis number one, averted.
“If I hold onto your shoulders, can you get your own pants off?”
“Yyyyyyeup!” It took Knox three tries to find the button on his jeans, but eventually, his clothes were folded neatly on Neil’s desk and Knox was sitting on the bed in just a t-shirt and boxers.
“You know, Neil, it’s your fault I went to that stupid party anyways.”
“Pardon?”
“Your fault, Neil. You and your stupid hair and your stupid face… you’re so stupid and fucking hot and it drives me so insane. It’s your fault I tried so hard to get Chris, and… and it’s your fault that my fucking nose is broken. There, I said it.”
There had only ever been a handful of times where Neil Perry was rendered fully speechless. Usually, it happened when his father said something particularly nasty, or when Todd occasionally worked up the courage to read his original poems at DPS meetings. But nothing could have prepared him for what Knox Overstreet said to him at 11:30pm on that fateful Friday night as he knelt on the floor between his legs.
“Wh-what?”
“You’re so stupid, Neil… I can’t do this anymore.”
And before he could say anything, Knox pulled him in by his tie and captured Neil’s parted lips with alcohol drowned ones of his own.
Neil pushed him away with no hesitation. “Knox, I-“
“Neil, come on… first Chris, now you too?”
“Knox…”
“No, Neil. You always talk, now I’m talking. I’m in love with you, and I thought maybe you might have been in love with me after tonight, but I was wrong and I’m starting to think that maybe going after Chris was a good thing, because she made me forget about you, even if it was just a little bit for a little bit of time. I’m…” Knox went silent as Neil kissed him again, softly.
“Knox, I like you. I like you a lot, actually, but you’re still really drunk and we should wait to talk about this, yeah?”
He stroked Knox’s hair softly, smiling when the other boy nodded and leaned into his touch.
“Okay. I’m gonna get ready for bed now, alright? I’m not leaving, I promise.”
Knox hummed affirmatively, getting under the covers of Neil’s bed.
“Smells like you… smells nice.” He buried his face in Neil’s pillow.
Neil smiled as he turned off the lights and got into Todd’s bed, listening to Knox’s quiet snores until he fell asleep.
“Fuck”
Knox opened his eyes, and immediately regretted it when the world exploded, sending shards of light and color into his aching brain. Groaning, he buried his face in his (no, not his,  his was softer?) pillow, wincing at the unexpected throb around his eye. He rolled over, facing the ceiling, moving an arm up to cover his eye when he heard the door open and relaxing immensely when he heard Todd’s voice.
“Morning, Knoxious. You okay?” Todd’s concern was evident, which made Knox feel a lot better. He loved that about Todd, he made up for what he lacked in confidence with an abundance of love and care for other people. Here he was now, handing Knox a bad of ice and a plate of pancakes from the diner he loved in town.
“Stick and I got breakfast this morning, thought you could use a hangover cure. Oh, which reminds me, I also brought you this,” he said, handing Knox a cup of water and a bottle of aspirin. He took everything with a smile, which widened when he saw Todd return it. Todd never smiled, and when he did, it was almost always genuine, and it made Knox feel warm inside to know that he had caused it.
“Where’s- ahem- where’s Neil?” Knox cleared the sleep from his throat and gulped down a couple pills before digging into the pancakes- blueberry. My favorite! Todd knows my favorite!
“Oh, uh, I actually don’t know,” Todd shrugged, furrowing his eyebrows, “He might be down by the dock? He goes there to study sometimes when he’s conflicted.”
Knox nodded, drinking the rest of the water and making quick work of the remaining pancakes.
“I’m gonna go find him. We gotta talk. If you see him, let him know I’m looking for him, alright?”
Knox got out of bed, only slowing for a moment when he realized he wasn’t wearing pants, before grabbing his jeans from their place on Neil’s chair and tugging them on before leaving the room.
Knox Overstreet had shitty hangovers. He had the headaches, the nausea, the fatigue, the dehydration, you name it… but he couldn’t seem to get wasted enough to ever forget anything. Usually, that was a good thing. As Knox marched towards the dock, he couldn’t decide whether he was glad to have the memories of the previous night, or if he wished that they would disappear forever.
His eyes are so fucking pretty. Fuck, how could I ever think I was in love with Chris when he was right here in front of me? 
“Knox? You okay?”
“Mmm. You’re pretty, that’s all.”
He had laughed, then. God, his laugh was like music. His laugh was music.
“You’re pretty too, Knoxy.”
Fuck. It was too much, he was right here, and he had just taken Knox’s shirt off, and he was sitting on the floor between his legs, and it was all too much. 
Carpe fucking Diem.
“You’re so stupid, Neil… I can’t do this anymore.”
Knox was grateful for Neil’s tie in that moment, because it was the one thing tethering him to the mortal world. Neil’s lips felt like home, and he knew it was more than just a drunken kiss. He was made to be kissing Neil, and he felt like he could do it forever.
And then it had ended.
“Knox, I-“
“Fuck.” He cursed at himself, the memory hurting his head worse than the alcohol or the bruise. 
“I like you a lot, actually…”
“You’re pretty drunk still”
“Wait to talk about this, yeah?”
“Knox! Down here!”
Speak of the fucking devil. Neil Perry, looking as beautiful as ever, was sitting on the dock, long legs sprawled out, reading glasses balanced on the tip of his nose. He looked delicious. Knox shoved back those thoughts before they made themselves known on his physical form and waved at Neil, walking towards him.
“Hey, Neil.”
“I’m glad you’re up! How are you? How’s your head?”
“‘M fine, Neil. Really. Thanks to you and Todd.”
As he sat down next to Neil, he couldn’t tell if the look the other boy gave him was a look of concern or of longing.
“The bruise actually looks a lot better. I’ll bet it’s gone completely by Monday.”
Knox tried to hide the way his breath hitched as Neil’s hand moved to cup his cheek, stroking the area around his eye so tenderly it should have been illegal.
“Neil…”
“I know. We need to talk about last night.”
“I shouldn’t have…”
“Actually, I’m… I’m glad you did. Considering you meant it, at least.”
Knox was speechless. He had planned a whole speech out on his way down, only to have all words robbed from him by the flecks of sunlit gold in Neil’s brown eyes. 
I love you
“I did. Mean it, that is… I definitely meant it.”
Jesus Christ, I love you, Neil Perry
“Then you won’t mind if… if I did it again?”
Knox met Neil’s eyes with his own. 
“Not in the slightest.”
Then, he did the same with his lips.
And I love you, Knox Overstreet.
5 notes · View notes
skygirl5 · 4 months ago
Text
12 Prompts of Christmas - #9 Eggnog
This is a continuation of the previous chapter’s universe (behind the jump due to length) 
NINE - Eggnog
On his first morning waking up in the isolated cabin, Rick wished to sleep late, but he couldn’t because he woke up before dawn absolutely, positively freezing. His normal sleeping attire for winter was boxers and a t-shirt because he generally kept his apartment fairly warm. He’d thought the blankets on the cabin’s bed would keep him warm enough, but evidently that was not the case; all his extremities felt like ice. Rick shivered so bad he could hardly pull on his jeans and button-down from the prior day before hobbling to the potbelly stove in the main room of the cabin and fiddling with it for ten minutes before he could figure out how to get a fire going inside of it once more.
Knowing warmth would soon come, Rick grabbed a blanket and tried to lay on the couch, which was the closest place to the stove on which to lay, but he was too miserably cold to fall back to sleep. Figuring maybe an afternoon nap would be more productive, he made coffee and sat with it cradled in his hand while wearing a blanket as a cape as he tried to warm up.
Though it took an hour, the cabin soon almost became too warm, but given how cold he had been Rick chose not to mind that too much and did his best to get some writing done. He wrote a few pages, but soon found it difficult to focus, and decided to go on a walk around the lake for a distraction. He also thought perhaps he might run into Kate, the intriguing woman whose mitten he found the day before, but he sadly did not. He did bump into an older couple who had a very friendly yellow lab and chatted with them for about ten minutes, but that was all the human interaction he had.
Back in his cabin, he called Alexis once it was a reasonable hour on the west coast. Unfortunately, their conversation was quite jumbled due to very poor reception, but he was at least able to confirm that Meredith had picked her up from the airport and was taking her shopping that day.
Since speaking with his daughter reminded him once again that she was not going to be with him for Christmas, Rick distracted himself by eating the pre-made salad he’d purchased for lunch and turned back to his writing, which was actually successful that round. He found himself so “in the zone” that he didn’t even notice how late it was getting until he got out of his chair to go to the bathroom and realized most of the cabin was completely dark.
Satisfied with the amount of work he’d done, Rick decided it was time to make himself dinner. He’d purchased some chicken cutlets which he planned on stir-frying and with some vegetables he purchased and so he began rummaging in the kitchen cabinets for the tools he’d need. He found a cast iron skillet and cutting board to use to prep his food. He’d purchased oil just in case the cabin didn’t have any, which ended up being a good call because he didn’t find any in the small pantry.
After pouring the oil into the skillet, he set it on the two burner stove so that it could heat up, but when he turned the knob to ignite the burner, he heard a click, but no flames appeared. Twisting his lips to the side in concentration, he crouched down and proceeded to fiddle with the knobs and burner for several more minutes to no avail; he could not get the stove to turn on.
Not too worried at that point, Rick decided that the best thing to do would be to call the cabin’s owner, Chip. He was a friendly older gentleman who had talked to Rick for nearly an hour when the cabin booking was made. Evidently the cabin belonged to Chip’s father, who was an avid fisherman. After his father passed, Chip inherited the place, but didn’t enjoy fishing as much, so he mostly rented it out. He’d told Rick not to hesitate to call if an issue arose, and Rick decided to do just that—even though it was technically Christmas Eve.
Rick walked over to where he’d left his laptop at the table. There, he’d left his phone as well as the contact information for Chip. Before he’d even begun to dial, Rick frustratingly realized his phone displayed a “No Signal” error. It hadn’t been that long since he’d spoken to Alexis, though admittedly the call had been cutting in and out at that time.
Figuring the reception had to be better outside, he put on his heavy coat and then dialed Chips number on the phone but didn’t hit the “send” button. Then, he stepped outside the cabin and was immediately knocked back by a wall of bone-chilling cold. The stinging temperature of the air was so great that he actually yelped, but then tried to recover as quickly as he could so he could get his phone call over with. Rick wandered around the area in front of the cabin for several minutes with his phone above his head waiting for the “No Signal” to vanish and bars to appear, but they never did.
Frustrated, Rick stomped out further into the yard, chasing an elusive signal. Just one bar!! He only needed one bar!!
He was about fifteen feet away from the house when he realized that small snowflakes had begun to fall from the sky above. He glanced up briefly, but that far after dusk it was almost pitch black outside. He was stumbling around only from the ambient light of the cabin’s exterior lighting, which at that distance was minimal at best. Yet, Rick remained determined to get a cell signal.
“Uhh Rick? Are you okay?” Rick heard after about seven minutes of wanting around in the freezing cold darkness.
“Wha—huh?” Startled he spun around until he saw the beam of a flashlight approaching, though due to the darkness he could not see the face of the person speaking to him.
“Are you okay?”
“I—who are you?”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” The woman moved the flashlight beam from the ground to point straight upwards. It barely illuminated her face, but he recognized her immediately. “You found my glove yesterday; I’m-”
“Kate,” he breathed, still a bit shocked to have met up with her by the lake near his cabin. “Yeah, I remember.”
“So…are you alright? You don’t have a flashlight…”
He grumbled. “I didn’t mean to walk this far from my cabin I just—I’m trying to get some cell reception.”
She hummed. “Well, you might not have too much luck with that, especially with this snowstorm coming in.”
Rick frowned. “Oh…I…hmm…sorry,” he added quickly when he could see Kate’s brow tightening in confusion. “The stove in the cabin stopped working and I tried to fix it, but, frankly, I have no idea what could be wrong, so I thought I’d call the cabin’s owner but…”
“Right.” Kate nodded. Then, after a beat added, “I can take a look if you want. I was just taking a little walk so it’s not big deal.”
“Oh—oh!” his tone elevated with surprise when he realized she was offering to help him, a total stranger, without being asked. Then again, he had found her glove earlier, so they weren’t total strangers, just mostly strangers. “Sure. That would be—that’d be great, thank you. Thank you so much.”
She shrugged and the followed him across the crisp ground towards the cabin. “It’s not a problem. The stove my parents had for years was…something. Probably a terrible fire hazard, to be honest. I finally made my father replace it a few years ago, because I was convinced one of the times he tried to fry up one of the fish he caught the whole place would go up in smoke.”
“Fair enough,” Rick chuckled as they reached the cabin’s porch.
He led the way inside where Kate scuffed her boots against the welcome mat and unzipped her coat as she slipped through the narrow doorway. She gazed around for a moment, but then immediately walked into the kitchen on the left. “Oh, yeah, this one is just like ours—only smaller,” she proclaimed upon looking at the stove.
“So you know all its secrets,” he concluded, hopeful.
“Let’s hope so,” she said, smiling at him over her shoulder before setting to work. Rick tried to ignore the tingles that smile sent down his spine as he leaned against the kitchen table, wanting to stay out of her way and feeling a bit awkward that he was unable to assist.
Rick watched as Kate checked dials and plugs and arched her body over the top of the range unit so she could presumably check the wall connection. Then with a quick, “Be right back,” she walked outside the cabin once more and he could see her walking around the house through the small window above the kitchen sink. She was outside about five minutes before she returned with a frown.
“Well, I have good news and bad news.”
Suspecting he knew the bad news, Rick concluded, “You know what’s wrong, but can’t fix it.”
Giving him a sad smile, she said, “No, I can’t. For whatever reason this stove uses a different fuel tank than the one hooked up to the water heater and furnace and that fuel tank is very empty. The owner must have forgotten to have it refilled; I’m sorry.”
Rick huffed out a breath. “Well considering its Christmas Eve I don’t think I’m going to get a fuel delivery
“No, I don’t think so.” After a moment she suggested, “You could make a fire?”
His immediate reaction was to cringe. “Ah… at the risk of sounding unmanly: I don’t know that I could successfully cook chicken that way without either burning it or giving myself food poisoning.”
She laughed and nodded, “Yeah, I guess I couldn’t either.”
They stood side by side in the tight kitchen silently for a moment before Rick said, “Well, that’s okay. I’ll just cut my trip a little short and go home first thing tomorrow morning, but I really appreciate your help, Kate.”
She stared at him for a few seconds before trapping her bottom lip between her teeth and glancing over to the kitchen counter, where his packet of chicken and vegetables were sitting beside the stove, waiting patiently for him to finish prepping them. After nearly twenty seconds of silence she finally concluded, “C’mon—grab your food; you can use my stove.”
Now taken completely aback, he held his one hand up defensively and stammered, “Oh—I—I wasn’t-”
“I know, but it’s Christmas, right? C’mon.”
Nodding, he hurried to the counter and began gathering what he could and shoving it back into the shopping bag it came from. “Thanks—thanks so much. Should we drive to your place, or…?”
She nodded. “Might as well. It’s only going to snow harder as the night goes on.”
Ten minutes later, after grabbing his food, other necessary cooking items, and his coat, Rick was following Kate’s directions to navigate his Mercedes towards her family’s cabin. The journey was short and she soon was leading the way into the warm, rustic space. Her cabin was significantly larger than the one he was renting. The living space was more expansive and from the length of the hall he could see in the rear, he guessed it had three bedrooms not just two. Unlike his cabin, which was decorated with mostly generic fishing or rustic décor, this was clearly a family cabin with knickknacks and family photos adding to the warmth.
“Oh, wow this is really nice.”
Kate shrugged as she took off her coat, “It isn’t much…mostly just a little escape.”
“Yeah, but it’s still great—homey.” He smiled at her for a few seconds then put his grocery bags down while he took off his coat, too. “Well, uh, I won’t take up too much of your time. Can I make you something, too? As a thank you.”
“Oh, um…” she hesitated for a moment then threw her hands out to the side in a ‘giving up’ gesture. “Sure, why not. I saw you had chicken and vegetables…”
“Yeah, I was going to put them all together in a stir fry.”
“I have some rice to make.”
“Perfect!”
For the next few minutes they both busied themselves in the tight kitchen. It was a delicate dance as there was not too much counter space around the stove, even though it did seem, as Kate had implied, that the space had been renovated recently. They managed it well enough, and after Kate started the rice, Rick chopped the vegetables and dumped them into the skillet before turning to the chicken cutlets and slicing them as well.
“So, tell me Kate, what is it that you do?”
“I’m a police officer.”
His brow arched as he pushed the chicken off the cutting board and into the pan. “Really? So you’re used to saving people in distress?”
She laughed airily. “Something like that.”
He washed his hands at the kitchen sink and then, after turning off the water, he told her. “I’m an author.”
“I know.”
Startled by her words, he did a double-take in her direction and nearly dropped the towel he was using to dry his hands. “You…do you read my books?”
Kate’s cheeks turned slightly pink as she confessed, “I might have skimmed through one or two.”
Assuming her dismissive comment was just meant to be a way to avoid some embarrassment, Rick smiled as he turned to their skillet meal, picked up a spatula, and began pushing around chicken and vegetable pieces so nothing burned.
So, Kate was, presumably, a fan of his books. How else would she have recognized him from just his first name? That also made sense. Since she was saving him from going hungry that evening he hadn’t wanted to question it, but he did find it slightly odd that a young woman such as herself would invite a strange man back to her cabin, which was isolated in the middle of nowhere. Maybe that was just his writer’s mind used to spinning dark scenarios but…well, thinking about his daughter, he hoped that she would not make the same decision in a similar circumstance for the sake of her safety. Finding out she was a police officer made a bit more sense; her training presumably made her feel more comfortable with self-defense, but if she knew him as a public figure, she would have been more likely to feel safe around him—not that he would have ever thought of hurting a woman, but sadly he knew that was not always the case with others.
Feeling in the mood to tease her a little bit more, he said, “So that’s why you wanted to have dinner with me? Because I’m one of your favorite authors?”
When he glanced over his shoulder, he saw that she eyed him skeptically. “I’m not sure that’s what I said.”
“It was implied.”
She laughed. “I see.”
Silence hung in the air for several moments before he changed the subject with, “So you live around here?”
“No, Manhattan.”
Now even more pleasantly surprised he proclaimed, “Oh! You’re NYPD?” After she confirmed with a nod, he said, “That’s amazing. How long have you been on the force?”
“Oh, not long. I graduated the academy in August.”
“Ahh well if you’re willing, I’d be all too happy to hear all your rookie stories as we eat.”
Ignoring his question, she instead offered, “Do you need help with anything? I feel bad I’m just standing here.”
“Nonsense,” he said casually. There really wouldn’t have been room for her to join him at the stove; the space was too tight. Besides, he didn’t mind. “I really enjoy cooking; it helps me think and plan my writing usually.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, because it keeps my hands busy, but my mind free to wander.”
“Hmm…makes sense.”
A few minutes later their meal was complete. Rick divided the stir fry and rice between two plates and then carried them over to the small dining table tucked in the corner of the room. As he set the plates down, he noticed a photo hung on the wall of a family: a man and a woman with a young girl about seven or eight standing in between them. The photo was clearly older and faded, and both adults wore sunglasses, but the woman had long dark hair and distinctive jawline and the man lighter brown hair and a soft smile. All three wore lifejackets and the lake—presumably the one located just a few feet away—could be seen behind them.
“This is you and your parents, I assume?” he asked, thumbing towards the photo.
“Yeah.”
“Where are they at? Don’t tell me they took a tropical vacation without you?”
She gave a soft smile as she picked up her fork and began to eat. “No, nothing like that.”
“You’re lucky, though—getting Christmas off,” Rick said in between bites. He didn’t imagine that was common for a rookie officer.
“I have to work Christmas day in the evening. And…I’ll be in Times’ Square on New Year’s Eve,” she explained.
“Oh! And you’re…not excited about that?” he guessed based on her tone. She gave him a look and he let out a small laugh. “Ah, right, I suppose not.”
“It’s only supposed to be fifteen degrees out!”
He nodded, sympathetic. “I know, I know; I don’t envy you at all. I’ve done it a few times as a spectator and it was never too bad as long as I’d had plenty of alcohol to warm me up.”
“I’m sure.”
They ate quietly for several minutes before Rick asked, “Did you spend your Christmases up here when you were little?”
“Mmm no. This place was usually my dad’s escape. His father and uncles purchased it when they were all young men. Now, they’ve all passed, and the cabin became my father’s, so he’s the one with the most connection to it. We used to come up here at least one week every summer to do things with the lake and just get out of the city, but almost never in the winter.”
Rick considered her comments as he slowly chewed his meal. He wondered why, if Kate’s father was so connected to the cabin, the elder man hadn’t joined her for the holiday? Furthermore, why hadn’t her mother? Sensing the question may have been a bit too personal to ask with that moment, he decided on a slight change of subject.
“I, um, I think I need to come up with some good holiday traditions for my daughter. I used to make sure I got her picture sitting on Santa’s lap every year, but this year she outright refused because she’s figured out that Santa isn’t real, so she’s a little salty about the whole ritual and refused to humor me. That’s literally what she said to—‘Dad, don’t expect me to humor you.’”
Kate laughed. “How old is she?”
“Six.”
Kate laughed again, harder that time. “Six?!”
“Yeah: six going on twenty. I think she’s already too smart for me and I fear that will soon be a pretty big problem.”
Kate nodded. “Yeah, it might be. Where is she spending Christmas?”
Sighing, Rick set down his fork and said, “With her mother. Last year, we’d just separated, so we tried to have a joint Christmas and it…didn’t go so well.” He involuntarily shivered at the memory of the wildly inappropriate phone conversation Meredith had with her new lover during their shared meal and their fight thereafter. “So, this year we decided to split the winter holidays: I got Thanksgiving and Meredith got Christmas.”
She nodded and said, “That must be hard.”
Unable to verbalize just how much his heart was breaking, Rick tried to stay positive. “I suppose it’s unfair of me to complain. I have primary custody, so I have Alexis nearly all the time, but Christmas…it’s my favorite holiday. My favorite time of the year. What’s worse is I had to send her to California by herself. I did get to take her through security to the gate and the assigned chaperone was extremely nice and gave her a candy cane but… it was still really hard to walk away.”
“I can’t imagine,” Kate said. When he met her sympathetic gaze, Rick did have to admit to feeling slightly better. Still, his heart was heavy.
“Sorry to bring the mood down.”
She waved her hand dismissively. “Don’t even worry about it.”
Finishing his glass of water, Rick continued with, “It’s, ah, why I came out here. Being in my apartment without her just felt like something that was too sad to bear.”
“I get that. It’s one of the reasons I’m not doing Christmas in the city this year.”
Surprised, his brow rose sharply. “You have a child?”
“What? No—sorry. Sorry. My mother…died.”
His eyes widened and his chest constricted with sorrow. Though he knew he didn’t do it directly, Rick did feel bad about bringing up a subject that was sensitive. “Oh—oh Kate I’m so sorry.”
One corner of her lip tugged upwards in a sad half-smile in acknowledgement of his comment. “This is the fourth Christmas without her. She, ah, died in January. Just after the holidays and…and my dad and I haven’t really celebrated since. He…we don’t even talk about it. We just don’t celebrate, which is…well, it is what it is, but being in the city makes it harder—walking past all the places where we made memories together as a family. And then this year…” She paused for a moment and took a deep breath, almost as though she needed to reset herself. “The reason I even got to take off work at all was because I had to take him to rehab.”
“Oh god,” Rick sighed, now feeling even worse. There he was complaining about not getting to spend a few days with his kid, who would be back before New Years’, and poor Kate had lost one parent forever and the other was struggling to the point where he was unavailable to her as well. “I’m so sorry to hear that, Kate.”
She gave him an appreciative smile. “It’s been bad for a while. I knew it. We both knew it. He’s been trying to get a handle on it on his own and been insisting he didn’t need an in-patient program, but it just wasn’t working, you know? Finally, I got him to agree to go as a Christmas present to me. Some present,” she added wryly.
“It will be if it helps him,” Rick pointed out in a soft tone.
“Yeah. Yeah, I know that. It’s just…hard.” She sat for another moment before pushing herself up out of her chair suddenly, walking over to the refrigerator and pulling out a cardboard carton, which she held up to him. “Want some?”
Even from that distance, Rick could clearly read the word “Eggnog” printed on the side and said, “Sure. Why not? It’s Christmas Eve.”
Kate poured two small glasses and handed him one. At the first sip he choked, his palate shocked by the alcohol, which he hadn’t expected since she poured it from a store-bought container and to his knowledge the store-bought kind was alcohol free. “Wow,” he croaked. “Your recipe could give my mother’s a run for her money.”
“Sorry—I should have warned you. I, uh, got a little heavy handed last night when I poured the whisky in the container.”
He shook his head in as an indication he didn’t mind, but he did make sure to take a more delicate sip the next time.
“So, your mother—will you see her for Christmas?” Kate asked.
“Ah, no, actually. She’s an actress and she’s touring with a holiday production. Their shows run through January second and she’ll come back home after that.”
“And your father?”
“Never met him,” Rick replied casually, taking another sip of eggnog.
Kate’s eyes widened. “Really? Never?”
Rick bobbed his head, knowing his untraditional backstory was a bit hard to process for most people. “Yeah; I don’t even know who he is. I was the, ah, product of a one-night stand.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
Rick shook his head. “’s okay. I’ve had over thirty years to process it.”
“Still…to never know a parent…I can’t imagine.”
He nodded. “Most can’t—and I’m glad. It’s certainly not something I would wish on anyone, but yet it’s also something that made me who I am.”
She nodded approvingly. “That’s a very healthy attitude, Rick.”
He raised his glass in salute. “Well, thank you.”
For the next three hours they drank the remainder of the quart of eggnog and chatted about an amalgamation of subjects: their jobs, the holiday season, life. Though he didn’t exactly acknowledge it at the time, looking back Rick was almost stunned how easy it seemed to talk to her about anything. Over the course of his life, he’d found himself having quick and easy connections to people he met several times, but each one was unique in its own way. With Kate, their conversation flowed effortlessly. They bounced around to a variety of topics and then back again without feeling like the conversation was too disjointed or nonsensical. It was all smooth and connected, like she was one of his oldest friends in the world instead of a woman he’d met by pure chance the day before.
Once the eggnog was finished, Kate offered Rick some water since he was driving, but he declined when he realized how long they’d been talking. By traditional standards it wasn’t that late, but he felt as though a holiday such as Christmas Eve had an exception. He didn’t want to displace whatever existing holiday plans she had for herself that night, particularly since she was returning to work the following day.
“I appreciate it, but I really should get out of your hair.”
“Ahh, yeah okay. I…I don’t think I realized what time it was,” she said with a light laugh.
“Yeah me neither. I, um, I really appreciate you letting me use your stove.”
She nodded. “Of course. Thanks for making dinner. It was…nice to have someone to eat with.”
Smiling, he agreed with, “Same,” and then stared at her for a moment, unsure of the proper way to say goodbye. A handshake seemed far too impersonal, but would a hug be too much? Deciding he shouldn’t over think it and that it was probably okay considering the intimacy of their conversation, he stepped up and gave her a brief one-armed hug, which she thankfully reciprocated. “Merry Christmas,” he said as he backed his way to the door, where he’d left his coat.
“Yes, Merry Christmas.”
Now zipping his coat, he reached for the door handle and smiled back over his shoulder at her, “Goodnight Kate.”
“Goodnight, Rick,” she echoed. Then, with a nod of his head, he disappeared out into the freezing snow-covered night.
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sckyie · 5 months ago
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song: dancing in my room by 347aidan
word count: 1.3k
genre + warnings: fluff; swearing, emo mode & insecurities mentioned
pronouns used: female insert (she/her)
a/n: no thoughts just bokuto <3 also requested by @lulu-102 also ive been tagging my general taglist not my imagine taglist bc it makes no sense to tag everyone in my playlist event thing
The upbeat music filled your room as you danced around in your room. You smiled as you jammed out to the melody. It was late at night and you'd been home alone all day. A dance session was the one thing that relieved your stress.
Bokuto could see from his window you dancing all about your room. He wasn't trying to peek in, but your bright LED lights and music caught his attention. He chuckled at the sight before returning to his conversation with Akaashi over video chat.
"Okay, that's the third time you weren't paying attention Bokuto-san. What are you looking at?" Akaashi asked.
"Y/n," He sighed. "She's dancing in her room and she's just too cute. I just- Sorry Akaashi."
"It's okay, why don't you ask her out?"
"Because she's in Class 6, why would she go out with me?" Bokuto groaned. He puts his head on the table as he sulked. "She's so fucking pretty."
"Bokuto-san."
"Hm?"
"You're one of the most popular boys in school, how wouldn't she like you? Plus, you guys are neighbors, isn't that a good thing?"
"Hnnnnngh." Bokuto groaned. He sat up and looked at his best friend. "We used to be close as kids then I took volleyball seriously and she drifted off. I don't even think she would like me. Fuck it, I don't even care."
"Bokuto, don't be so hard on yourself," Akaashi turns to talk to his mom. "I have to go, just try, you never know."
The call ends and he's left in his quiet room. The muffled music from your room made Bokuto wonder about you. He leaned over to peek at you dancing and notice you trip over yourself. He giggled at the sight as you immediately picked yourself up.
Bokuto sighed before turning off his light and laying in his bed. Only thing on his mind was you. He'd fallen for you in your first year. Whenever he saw you, his mood was brought up but then dipped back down. He told himself that he'd never get a relationship with you and that there were better guys for you.
After your stumble, you notice the light in Bokuto's window turn off. You tilted your head and lowered down your music. You looked around to find your long umbrella and approached your balcony. Sliding open the door, the cool air hit your arms, causing you to shiver. Carefully, you reached over and tapped Bokuto's window with the umbrella.
No response.
"Hmph," You huffed. You tapped again and the light flickered on. You watched as Bokuto made his way to the window. "Hey Ko." You smiled.
"Hey," He says softly.
"Oh, did I wake you?" You panicked.
"No, no, I'm just..." Bokuto rubbed the back of his neck.
"Didn't have a good day?" You ask.
"You could say that," He sighed.
"Well, I saw your light go out early so I was confused. Since you're having a bad day, did you wanna come over?" You suggest.
"Wait, come over?" He asks.
"Yea," You smiled. "You could always climb over the balcony like you did when we were kids."
"No, I shouldn't," He sighed.
"Please," You pouted. You quickly took the remote for your lights out and change the color to blue. "Come dance with me?" Bokuto chuckled at your way of begging.
"Fine, move over shorty," He says. He closes his glass door and turned back to you. You rolled your eyes at your old nickname and entered your room.
"I was taller than you back then, just saying," You argued. Bokuto easily climbed between balconies and followed after you, closing the door behind him.
"Yea but who's taller now?" He joked. You jabbed his shoulder before turning to change the lights to a color fade. "How do I dance with you? I haven't danced before."
"Just do what feels right," You say as you started swaying to the beat. You held out your hand to him as you moved. Bokuto chuckled at you before grabbing your hand. You tug him closer as you continued to dance.
As the songs end, you couldn't help but notice the smile on Bokuto's face. You two danced for another twelve songs before you got a text that you were being too loud. You turned down the music as Bokuto played with your lights while sitting on your bed.
You seat yourself next to him, leaning yourself on his shoulder. "It's been too long since we hung out Ko," You sighed.
"Yeah, last time I was here you had Hello Kitty on the walls not-" He paused to read the record title on your wall. "Not records that say Sex by The Beach." He looked at you chuckling.
"Shut up," You laughed.
"Is this us?" He pointed out a frame by your bedside table.
"Oh, it fell off my wall," You say. "It's one of my favorite photos of us."
The picture was of you and Bokuto in his sister's room. You had put on heels way too big for a seven year old and wore a long feather boa. Bokuto had a cardboard crown on his head and your pearl necklace. You two held up both ends of a bear to the camera, smiling like idiots.
"Damn we look fly," He laughed. You changed the lights to a less intense blue before laying back on your bed. Bokuto pokes your stomach before standing up. "I should get going now."
"Nooo," you whined. You held out your arms for him to cuddle you. "Come here snuggle bug."
"You haven't called me that since we were eight," He laughed. "Plus we're older now, it wouldn't be right."
"Why not?" You sat up.
"Because you're a girl and I'm-"
"A boy? Ko, what's wrong?" You tilt your head.
"Nothing, what would people say if they found out we slept next to each other?" Bokuto says. You could tell he was worried about your reputation. You shuffled to the end of the bed and reached up to Bokuto's shoulders. "Wha-"
You peck his cheek before sitting back. You notice his shocked expression and giggle at the sight. "Who cares Ko? No one will know we cuddled. Not unless you tell them. What's the harm?" You say. Bokuto sighs and looks at your puppy dog eyes. "Please. Just this once."
"Fine," He gave in. You open your arms for him to join you but he decides to tackle you into your pillows.
"Oh my god Kōtarō you're suffocating me," You muffled. He rolls of you and lays on his back. You turn to snuggle him, laying your head on his chest. "I...kinda missed this.." You hand subconsciously began to draw shapes on his torso.
"Really?" Bokuto looked down to see you and noticed your sleepy eyes. He chuckled before staring at the ceiling. "You know, you really made my night. All the dancing brought up my mood and...I'm glad it did. I missed hanging out with you."
He looks at you to find you asleep, softly snoring to the ambient noise of your fan. Bokuto could feel the heat rise to his cheeks as you shifted to hold him closer. He couldn't find himself to fall asleep after thinking about you all night. That was until you began to sleep talk.
"Mfffm Ko," You mumbled.
"Hm?" He looks down to see you dead asleep. "Sleep talking." He whispered.
"I like..I love you..." You slurred. "I miss hanging out with fou...But you're too pop- popular to date..."
You fell back asleep before you could finish your sentence. All Bokuto wanted to do was wake you to confirm your confession. Nonetheless, he smiled before kissing your forehead. "I love you too," he responded. He knew that in the morning, he'd repeat himself to you, starting your new relationship.
taglist: @amillionfandoms-onlyoneme @d0llpie @elianetsantana @joy-laufeyson
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domesticadventures · 5 months ago
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bottom shelf. deancas, 1.8k. (ao3)
insp: (x)
Cas is becoming human and Dean, for all intents and purposes, is ruining him.
He’s picking up all of Dean’s bad habits, all his bad taste. When they’re on the road and stop for gas, Cas grabs Corn Nuts and Snickers and Mtn Dew Code Red and Dean stares daggers at Sam, willing him not to say anything as he stands there with his sad overripe banana and bruised apple, looking like a disappointed parent. When they’re at home, Cas turns up his nose at salads, at vegetarian literally anything, at smoothies. He wants Dean to make him burgers and tater tots, the boxed mac and cheese that comes out an unnatural shade of yellow, he wants frito pie and grilled cheese sandwiches and Totino’s® Pizza Rolls® and Dean isn’t going to tell him no.
But he can’t help but think that surely if Cas knew there was better stuff out there, if someone had taught him better, he would choose something else.
So Dean takes it upon himself to be a better teacher, because it’s not just the food, it’s...everything. It’s the way Cas dresses in torn jeans and faded t-shirts and secondhand flannels, it’s the way he’ll spend an entire day binge-watching Catfish: The TV Show, it’s the way he’ll read whatever dime novel Dean puts in his hands but can never find time for Emerson or Thoreau or Kant.
It isn’t too late to fix the damage he’s done, Dean tells himself. They finish working a case outside of Chicago and Dean picks up some last-minute tickets to Anastasia. Cas raises an eyebrow at Dean’s announcement that they’ll be leaving Sam at the motel to spend a night at the theater, but he obediently puts on his fed suit, lets Dean drive him downtown, ignores Dean’s swearing as he tries to find a good place to park. Dean thinks the whole thing is going pretty well right up until the point where Cas falls asleep with his head on Dean’s shoulder before they even hit intermission.
“Do you want to leave?” Dean asks, as the lights come on and Cas jerks awake, rubbing at his eyes with the back of his hand.
“No,” Cas says. “No. Sorry. Just tired from the hunt.” At Dean’s skeptical look, he adds, “I want to stay. I want to watch the rest of it with you.”
Cas manages to remain conscious through the second half, but when Dean asks him for his review as they make their way out with the rest of the theater patrons, Cas shrugs.
“It was all right,” Cas says. “But I like the cartoon version better. The one with the actual sorcerer in it.”
And it’s not that Dean disagrees, but his heart sinks a little, anyway.
So he tries something different the next time. They off a Jersey Devil and drive into New York the next day, wander through the Museum of Modern Art a bit aimlessly, neither of them really knowing what to do. Cas squints at the pieces made by some dude whose name Dean forgot the instant he learned it, carefully examines all the bizarre art Dean doesn’t understand, even after he dutifully reads the accompanying plaques—the table covered in egg shells, the painted bones, the pot filled a foot past the brim with mussels.
“Well,” Dean says as they leave, “what did you think?”
“I think,” Cas says slowly, “maybe I just don’t ‘get’ art. But I appreciated the experience, anyway.”
After that, Dean decides maybe he’s aiming a little too high. Maybe he just needs to start a little simpler, that’s all. What could go wrong with, say, a nice meal?
Dean picks out a well-reviewed place on Yelp and tries to temper his expectations as he and Cas sit up on a balcony in the ambient lighting, surrounded on all sides by people there for business meetings, for lunch dates.
He’s disappointed as soon as he takes his first bite. By all accounts, it should be good—how did a restaurant this expensive manage to mess up mashed potatoes with gruyere and bacon?—but it just...isn’t. Or maybe it is objectively good and Dean is simply incapable of enjoying it. He was raised on MSG and high fructose corn syrup and maybe he just can’t tell, maybe his taste buds are permanently broken.
Cas’ tiny bites, his half-finished food, tell Dean he feels much the same, and it makes him feel like shit. He can’t shake the feeling that Cas would have been able to enjoy normal people food if Dean hadn’t fucked it all up for him.
Cas deserves better than this, Dean thinks, as he turns on the car, grips the wheel to steady himself. Cas deserves better food, better dates. He deserves someone who can show him all life has to offer, someone who isn’t too scared to get on a goddamn plane, who would take him to see the seven wonders of the world instead of pulling off the highway to see stupid shit like the country’s largest rubber band ball. He deserves to be tired not from running from one hunt to another but from doing things that are actually fucking fun, to lay down at night next to someone who can sleep for more than a few restless hours at a clip. Cas deserves someone who didn’t learn everything he knows about making other men feel good in truck stop bathrooms or against the sides of 18 wheelers, someone who doesn’t occasionally still freak out in the middle of sex and need to be gently coaxed out of the past and back into the present. He deserves someone who knows how to take care of him, who doesn’t ask for so much while giving so little back.
“Dean,” Cas says, startling him out of his thoughts. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Dean says. “Everything is fine.” The fact that he’s still sitting with the car in park and his knuckles white against the wheel says otherwise, but Cas is nothing if not impossibly patient with him. He clenches his jaw, swallows. “I just wanted you to have a good time.”
“I did have a good time,” Cas says, “with you.”
“No, you didn’t,” Dean says. “You’re being polite about it, but you didn’t like dinner, and you didn’t like the museum or the theater or—or—any of that stuff.”
He can see Cas frowning out of the corner of his eye, but his voice is gentle as he asks, “Dean, what has all this been about?”
“I wanted you to be able to experience stuff that’s actually good.”
“I’ve experienced plenty of good things.”
“That’s not what I mean,” Dean says, heat rising up his neck, creeping into his face. “You find shit like the theater and museums and actual good fucking food just as boring and bland as I do.”
“Okay?” Cas says. He seems legitimately confused, like it isn’t obvious how badly Dean has screwed everything up. “There’s nothing wrong with those things. They’re just not for us, and that’s okay.”
“It’s not okay!” Dean says, louder than he means to. “It’s not okay. I’m—I’m ruining you.”
Cas’ frown deepens. “I’m not a baby,” he says. “You didn't shape me from birth. Give me some credit for my own personality.”
The heat spreads across Dean’s cheeks, burns behind his eyes. “I don’t—I don’t think that. But it’s just…”
“It’s just what?”
“You just. You don’t get it, okay?” Dean twists his hands against the leather, tries to keep his voice steady. “You’re not supposed to be the kind of person who likes the—the—the absolute worst garbage humanity has to offer. If you’d been human from birth, you’d know that. You’d know better. I’m the dollar menu equivalent of a person and you just haven’t realized it yet.”
There’s a long moment of silence during which Dean has plenty of time to imagine Cas telling him he’s insane, getting out of the Impala, and slamming the door behind himself.
Instead, Cas slides closer to him, their knees knocking together, and turns off the car. He reaches up and moves Dean’s hands from the wheel, holds them in one of his own. Uses his other hand to cup Dean’s face, stroke a thumb across his cheek until Dean hesitantly turns towards him, meets his gaze.
“Dean,” Cas says quietly. “You’re right. I haven’t always been human. I wasn’t raised in human society. But I like to think that gives me a certain different perspective.” He considers Dean carefully, looking from one of his eyes to the other. “I didn’t learn what I should or shouldn’t like from other people telling me. I’m learning it by doing. By trying and figuring it out. I mean this in the nicest way possible,” he says, the corner of his mouth ticking up in the barest hint of a smile, “but I don’t have all of your same hangups. To me, there’s just what I like and what I don’t. And what I like is fast food, and dumb movies that will never win a Tony—”
“I think those are the music ones—”
“Whatever,” Cas says, rolling his eyes. “You see my point.” He shifts to sit with one of his legs folded up on the seat, faces Dean more fully. “Dean. I know you grew up in a world that devalued you and the things you love. I would undo that if I could, but I can’t. All I can hope to do is to somehow convince you that you have value. I know what the other options are, and I want you to know that I’m not settling on you. I’m choosing you intentionally.”
Dean squeezes his eyes shut as Cas leans forward, as he presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth—so easily, so gently that it makes Dean’s breath catch in his throat.
“I love you,” Cas murmurs, “just as you are.”
Dean reaches his hand up, lays it over Cas’ own where it still rests against his cheek. “How’d you get so good at this, huh?” he asks, a little hoarsely. He runs his thumb against Cas’ knuckles and hopes he gets what he means—this tenderness, this comfort, this honest emotion. All of it.
Cas huffs a laugh. “This part I did learn from you.”
“Oh,” Dean manages, trying his best to internalize it as Cas kisses him again, more deeply this time, as he runs gentle fingers through the hair at the back of Dean’s neck. By the time Cas pulls away, Dean feels almost normal. Whatever ‘normal’ is for him, anyway. “Okay,” he says. “I’m okay.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” He clears his throat. “Yes.”
“Good,” Cas says, sliding back into his own seat. He nods once, decisively. “So can we pick up Taco Bell on the way home? That meal was extremely unsatisfying and I’m still hungry.”
Dean surprises himself by laughing. He thinks, wildly, that he’s never loved Cas more than he does at this moment.
“Yeah, Cas,” he says, turning the key in the ignition. “Whatever you want.”
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starr-fall-knight-rise · 5 months ago
Text
HASO, “Boarding Party.”
Thought this was fun to write. Hope you all enjoy this morning. 
Geaa watched Captain Kell carefully as he guided his ship through the asteroid field She didn’t really consider that it required much guiding since each of the asteroids were spaced about 100 miles apart, but their maneuvering had less to do with multiple objects and more to do with the large ball of rock and ice that he was using for cover.
Captain Kell was a surprisingly talented pilot, and was easily able to maneuver the ship around the rocky crags that made up the mile wide asteroid. He was trying to cloak their radar signature from the Omen, which he said would be constantly scanning for unknown lifeforms.
She kept her hand clasped against the back of his chair, though he mostly ignored her.
He had to time it just right.
She saw the front end of the Omen appear behind the asteroid, a massive ship glowing blue in select areas, with little pinpricks of white light filtering out of its observation decks. Captain Kell gunned the engine and slid seamlessly under the belly of the Omen, where their radar signature would be indistinguishable from the ship above.
“Engage grapple.” He ordered, and his voice was calm and firm as his men moved to do as ordered.
He moved slowly towards the lower airlock and largest docking bay. Most of their supplies would be kept there. It would be the most full and the most out of use. Hopefully no one would notice them enter.
Captain Kell tightened his grip on the controls.
“Engage hologram.”
Someone did as ordered and soon there was a hologram of their ship next to the omen.
Captain Kell watched it very closely, adjusting their ship’s location by mere inches towards the airlock. His hands moved as delicately as that of a surgeon as he attempted to maneuver them into position. One wrong move and they would be sent crashing into the omen or flying away into space only to be spotted.
Captain Kell remained steady, holding them in place.
As soon as they were close enough one of his deck officers barked the command. There was a sudden sharp thud as the exterior attachment engaged the airlock door. They wouldn’t be opening the entire airlock, but using the small exterior door that might be used for spacewalks. The attachment they had would force its way onto the deck computer and open the door into their airlock.
If they did it right the airlock alarms wouldn’t go off.
Beatrice was standing next to the officer in charge of that, and she watched them hungrily as their fingers flew across the keys of their station. She had a knife in one hand gently twirling it from side to side, though the deck officer, thankfully, ignored her as she worked.
There was a sharp hiss and a green light blinked on her console.
Attachment made sir.
Captain Kell let go of the controls with a sigh of relief, and drew to his feet. He turned and headed towards the door in a hurry and Beatrice and Geea followed after accompanying him to the docking bay where their boarding team was waiting.
Geea had insisted that the vast majority of the boarding team be her people, though Captain Kell had insisted that a few of his chosen command come as well. She could see the ones named Angelo Mace and Noble waiting for them at the head of the group.
Captain kell made a few silent hand motions before taking position at the front of the group. He pulled up his hood and drew it over his face leaving nothing but the glow of his eye and accepted a gun from one of his companions. Geea simply readied her spear while Beatrice retrieved her knives.
Beatrice loved her knives.
Captain Kell motioned two of his men forward, and they did as ordered, slowly racing through to open the airlock hatch.
There was a hiss, and then the room was  suddenly filled with fresh oxygen. She had to admit that it smelled much better than her ship, or even Captain kell’ship. They must have had some pretty nice life support set up to handle that.
Captain Kell was the first to go in, creeping in through the deck and out into the open cargo bay. When he saw no one coming he ordered the others through until they were all huddled together behind a large stack of crates. The door sealed behind them so a snot to cause any suspicion.
“We take a small team upstairs.” he said quietly, repeating his plan from before.
If they were going to do this, he wanted to do it quietly if they could, and so decided to leave most of her men down here to guard the door. The small group he took with him consisted of Angelo, Geea and Beatrice who had insisted upon coming along no matter what. He didn’t seem pleased about the idea, but he let them, and after slowly checking over their gear they headed into the hull.
Inside Geea felt her heart racing. This had been far easier than she anticipated. If pirates knew how easy it was to break onto the omen, than someone else would already have done it. Of course some of the credit had to go to captain Kell for his superior flying ability, but she bet that you could find software that could fly a ship just as good as he could, and then she wouldn’t even have to worry about it.
They moved out into the hallway, which was mostly deserted aside from the distant thrumming of the engine.
He held up a hand and tilted his head to listen. She waited for him and Beatrice to give the all clear. Humans had better hearing than Drev on average, so she was fine with letting them take the lead. She was just happy to be here finally doing the mission that she had been promised so many days ago.
Enough stalling, she wanted action.
He moved them down the hall following the schematics that had been laid out for them earlier.
He must have memorized the entire thing, because he made his way don the hall without so much as stopping to console a map. On his shoulder, the fuzzy little alien still rested keeping an eye out behind Captain kell in case something went wrong.
She had no doubt that it was watching her as well, but she had no interest in hurting the man, he was her ticket to the good life.
He stopped before a small side door and opened it quietly with a hiss. The door itself opened into a tight maintenance tunnel, which was a small fit even for the humans, but for Geea it was downright unpleasant, and she had to walk tightly hunched over as they made their way through the halls.
Their footsteps were mostly quiet, and as they walked she could hear the sounds of humans talking quietly on the other side of walls. She guessed that they were mostly sleeping quarters, or even the night shift keeping up late.
She couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but it didn’t sound like they were too alarmed.
She was sure no one had noticed them yet.
They made their way up what must have been nine or ten floors. The palace was huge, bigger than she had expected.
She heard plenty of life before the ship, but she didn’t see anyone.
Geea keyed her mic and quietly asked for a status check. To her annoyance Mace answered, but she said it was all clear in the docking bay.
So they kept going.
Geea was growing antsy spear held tight at her side as they moved through the tunnels.
Captain kell held out a hand to stop them as they came to a final door. He pressed his ear up to it and waited for a long moment before crouching and turning to look at them, “This door is going to lead us onto the administrative deck. The Admiral’s quarters are at the end of the hall and up a flight of stairs. He doesn’t usually sleep with the door locked, but if it is, I am going to have to hack it.
Geea nodded, and Beatrice snarled bright white teeth glittering in the red light from above. He reached out and the door hissed open. There was no one in the hallway, and the sound of the engine grew distant as they stepped out of the maintenance corridors. Captain Kell kept towards the front of the group walking as if he belonged there.
Acting suspicious would just arouse worries in anyone who might see them in passing.
They made it to the end of the hall without incident, and followed him up the small flight of stairs. They were so close now, either way she knew that their mission was secured. There was no way Admiral Vir was going to be able to avoid all of them. 
She clenched her spear in one hand, especially not if she had anything to say about it.
The door was so close.
The man raised a hand to stop them and quickly reached up towards one of the overhead lights. He popped the casing and then with a strategic movement of his hand cut off the power. The interior of the hall went dark and Geea had to squint in the dim light to see as he moved forward towards the door. 
Captain Kell reached up to the touch pad next to the door, and it opened with a silent hiss.
There was no change in lighting, likely why the man had disabled the light to begin with. The inside of the room was lit by nothing more than a dull neon glow and whatever ambient light filtered in through the window. She saw an assortment of strange objects inside the room placed at odd intervals, a few things hanging on the walls.
She saw a Drev ceremonial spear in one corner, and then an entire set of human sized Drev armor on a mount beside that.
She knew the Admiral was the de facto sentinel of a Drev clan, but she had always assumed the position was more ceremonial than anything. It seemed as if she was incorrect.
They snuck a little further into the room, and in her excitement Geea was able to draw forward as she approached the bed and the sleeping person that lay within.
He was curled up in a tight ball, his head resting on the pillow.
Beatrice moved forward raising her knives.
Sure Captain Kell wanted them to do this quietly, but the two of them had never really intended on following that.
Beatrice’s knife descended, and then clattered off something with a sharp ping.
She yelped quietly drawing back as, all of a sudden there was a glowing white/silver spear blocking the downstroke over her knife.
The two of them looked up just then, and as if she had materialized out of nowhere,  a Saint stood before them, her armor glowing almost white in the dark. Her blue carapace like blue lightning. She was the most beautiful creature Geea had ever seen despite her size, and she was pissed.
Beatrice drew back in shock and then went to lunge forward hoping to finish the job quickly before something worse happened. But as she did there was a sudden hiss, and a shape dropped out of nowhere, long and thin and thrashing falling from the sky and latching right onto Beatrice’s face. Beatrice flailed and fell back onto the floor her face covered by the strange alien’s open mouth as its snake-like body thrashed from side to side.
Below them, the admiral had awoken and rolled to the side over the edge of the bed and out of sight.
The Saint lunged forward speeds faster than Geea could comprehend, and it was only by luck that she was able to dodge the strike, turn and make a break for it as Beatrice lay on the floor still thrashing and clutching at the thing latched onto her face. Behind her the Saint followed, and Geea sprinted even faster hoping that her longer legs would give her the advantage.
She raced even faster, until a figure at the end of the hallway appeared.
She grew relieved as she saw Angelo waiting for her.
He could help!
But as she approached the hungry glittering in his eyes caused her to slow in doubt, and he grinned maliciously a strange looking spear in one hand.
Not wanting to discover what that was all about, she took a quick turn down the stairs and onto the next deck where she ran down the hall and into a large room.
A shadow fell across the door behind her. The saint stood in the doorway glittering like a jewel in the half darkness, her beautiful golden eyes narrowed in hate.
Geea looked up an stepped back in shock as, across the room, another figure appeared. This one glowed white and floated off the floor like some sort of ethereal spirit. It had pale white skin and black eyes and when it moved its hands words were spoken to the room, “Somebody's in trouble.” It chanted at her. She turned in one last direction, hoping beyond hope that she would be able to escape, but there in the doorway she found Captain kell standing motionless and un-harried.
The small Celzex still sat on his shoulder.
“Kell, Help me.” She hissed 
But the man simply smiled and shook his head. No one moved to stop him.
He pulled back his hood, and then slowly, very slowly he reached up to his face, hooking his fingers under the mechanical component on the right side of his face and pulled. There was a sickening sort of tearing noise and Geea tried to look away in disgust, but watched as the mechanical component pulled away from the skin, and he dropped it to the floor leading his face bare.
With his other hand he reached up to his other eye.
She pulled back in disgust as he pulled something from the surface of his Iris and held it out for her to see.
“Contact lenses, they can change your eye color pretty easily.” her mouth was open in shock, as the man reached up his other hand, to unclip the metallic gauntlet he wore and allow it to drop to the ground a well, “I had been working for months to develop the character of Captain kell. Using secret communications between the UNSC and certain GA and UNSC transport ships,  I was able to give the impression of a pirate who could infiltrate any ship, and vanish without a trace.” He dropped his jacket onto the floor, “I showed up in a few locations, sold a few things on the black market, and had a few of my underground friends spread some rumors about the new player on the field.
He crouched down and unlaced one of his boots, kickin it off so she could see the shiny blue prosthetic on which he now stood.
“From there it was easy to feed my name to the right people until they got me in contact with you.” Admiral Vir ran a hand through his hair with one hand, “Imagine my surprise when you came and hired me to do a hit on myself.” He smiled, “Ironic, no.”
Behind him the figure from the bedroom stopped behind him, pulling off the eyepatch and handing it  to the Admiral.
She could see now that there was a resemblance between the two men, though side by side it was an imperfect comparison.
Admiral Vir slipped on his eye patch, “My brother Thomas did a wonderful job at impersonating me while I was away. We have our mother’s looks.”
He stepped just a little closer and smiled a familiar and affable smile, “This feels nice. I always thought it was a little stupid bot villians in movies to monologue when they have the hero trapped, but it definitely does give one a heightened sense of superiority. The knowledge that I am smarter than you and I outmaneuvered you at your own game, and since I have all your men lock downstairs in the brig, I think I am safe enough for the moment. Anyway it was easy enough to convince you that I needed more supplies, and demand to see your employer. In that way you led me right to them.”
He held up a hand, “And I don’t mean your fake employer I mean the real one you were talking to while I watched through the door.”
He was close now, so very close. Geea knew she wasn’t going to escape, but… but mauve.
She lunged forward, her spear aimed for his throat.
But there was a sharp clash of steel on steel and she was thrown back. 
“Oh also, I have a Saint.”
The blue drev stepped in between them just then stalking forward. Geea tried to protect herself but was only barely able to keep the blows from hitting her as she desperately flailed against the attacks.
The Saint didn’t even look winded.
She was pushed backward, into the circle at the center of the room desperately throwing herself to the floor to dodge an overhand swipe.
She moved to the other side as the second swing came in.
The Saint was just playing with her now.
She lunged forward again, but to her shock the Saint caught it in her upper right hand, wrenched the spear from her grip, closing a fist and punching Geea square in the jaw. She hit the ground hard dazed. She had never seen a Drev use tactics like that before.
“Tie her up will you Sunny.”
“With pleasure.” She growled 
Just then another figure entered the room, tall with dark hair pulled back in a tight bun, “Sir.”
“Yes Simon.”
“We have the ship locked down and all the crew escorted to safety, sir.
“Godo work.”
There was a struggle in the doorway behind them, and Angelo stepped onto the deck hauling beatrice behind him. She tried kicking him and headbutting him, but he didn’t seem phased.
“Ramirez..” The admiral said nodding. He threw Beatrice to the ground and Admiral vir walked over making a face as he looked at her head.
Her entire head from temple to jaw was a massive red welt, kind of like a hickey but ten times worse.
There was a soft Screeee sound and he looked up to smile, “There you are Jeffery.”
The strange alien creature slithered across the floor and climbed up his arm, “Did you do that?” he asked pointing at Beatrice’s face”
The Snake thing-made a happy sort of noise, and he patted it’s head, “Good boy.”
Admiral Vir smiled at Geea as two massive Drev stepped in to tie her arms and legs, “Imagine, if you had just killed me the moment you had seen me this would all be over.”
Geea was so livid at this point she could hardly speak watching as she was dragged out of the door watching the Saint and the Admiral recede into the distance, catching his voice just as she was almost out of view.
“Now to deal with the real problem.”
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