HEKTOR HEKTOR HEKTOR!!! I've had this design for him in my head for like a month. I drew a 10 min sketch of him at one point and accidentally fell very much in love so I knew I had to make him some polished drawings
I have too many story ideas and new ones keep popping up
Undertale and Deltarune are full of mysteries, mysteries out the wazoo! You can’t walk two feet before tripping over and drowning in some extremely weird guys. And my favorite of these weird and mysterious guys is Everyman!
Everyone who knows Undertale knows about Gaster, even if just conceptually. He is like, the mascot of Undertale’s and Deltarune’s mysteries. The thing is, though, we kind of know a lot about him! We know his backstory and his fate, and we have a pretty good idea of what is going on with him currently, as far as we can tell. This isn’t much compared to most actual characters, but it IS a lot compared to Everyman!
Everyman’s most prominent appearance is in the attack patterns of the amalgamate Reaper Bird, where he stands motionlessly and Emotionlessly, until butterflies begin swarming his face and driving him to his knees in agony. The next attack has these butterflies target the player from his face-swarm, and finally, a butterfliy-less Everyman will stoically send spinning copies of his own head as projectiles, before the attack pattern loops.
Even among Amalgamates, this is really weird stuff! Even the Amalgamates have generally followed the standard idea of monsters’ bullet pattern attacks having thematically-fitting appearances, at least until now. Everyman is a totally new entity, with, as far as we know, NO relation to Reaper Bird, who is composed of Final Froggit, Whimsalot, and Astigmatism. The only link present is the butterflies, and while butterflies are present in Whimsalot’s attacks, Everyman’s actually use unique sprites made just for him!
Outside of this battle, Everyman makes small, mysterious cameos, his only other Undertale appearance being some plush toys that SORTA look like him, but may not actually be him. In Deltarune, while he is not seen, his cameos increase! He can randomly appear in certain enemies’ bullet patterns, replacing heads that would normally appear, and this can sometimes be purely aesthetic, but in a certain attack, an Everyman head will appear silent among faces that otherwise emit harmful words...
My favorite of these cameos is this pop-up window in Poppup’s “block” command, where the player is instructed to rapidly close every window that pops up. Most of these seem to be spam and advertisements and viruses... but there he is, our friend! Our friend in the computer! What would happen if you were to click on this?!
His last notable appearance at the time of writing is his only one in Deltarune’s Light World, as graffiti in the alley in town. Who drew this? We have no idea! But this indicates that in this world, at least SOMEONE is aware of Everyman, who is otherwise never actually talked about whatsoever!
Now let’s talk about his design! For all the mystery and eeriness surrounding him, Everyman is so very cute. He is so simple, and so soft-looking, so utterly non-threatening. He is just a sort of dumpy little guy, with maybe a nose, maybe a beak. And yet, the simplicity actively enhances his eeriness! All he needs to do is Appear...
There are many theories about the identity of Everyman, and I think the one I most believe, at least at the moment, is that he is a sort of in-universe character. This is going by the fact that his only “real-world” appearances are as a plush or as graffiti, and yet he is never seen, like everyone is aware of him, but he is not quite real. He could maybe be a distinct character, explaining how he has a name, or a more basal, conceptual one, like the monster equivalent of a stick figure, which fits with his simple appearance and his name!
With this in mind, consider the design of the Dummy found in the ruins. A typical dummy for monsters would be designed to resemble a basic, generic monster, and the “nose” of the dummy certainly brings Everyman to mind!
Of course, we really have not the slightest idea. Everyman is a character who only exists through small, strange cameos, preventing us from ever truly learning anything about him, and I love it so much! In the official Undertale art book, he is described as “Just a good guy who shows up on occasion.” It’s true! He is good, and he shows up on occasion!
There is certainly more to Everyman than we know about, far more, that will be seen in future chapters of Deltarune. I very much look forward to seeing more of him! Maybe we will learn more about him, and he will have a shocking significance, but... maybe we will NEVER learn more about him. Maybe he will continue to appear sparingly and unexpectedly, without any acknowledgment. Maybe we will never truly know about Everyman!
And I think that would be okay.
The First Contract. Yan Zhongli x F Reader
Warnings: Yandere themes, explicit not SFW, dubcon, unhealthy relationships, minor character death, and forced marriage.
Word count: 5k.
Note: i have no idea how i gathered the willpower to write all this in two days. i fell in love with the concept and just... kept rolling... and here we are. 5,000 words later . i hope that you enjoy, i put lots of effort into this piece! while the reader in this story presents as afab, honestly, they’re a god so... that’s just the form they chose to take. i put the warning there still just in case.
[The First Contract index]
There was once a time when the nation known as Liyue hadn’t yet been named. There was no singular Archon that ruled over the land, nor were the people inhabiting the vast wilderness fully united. Numerous beings, described by mortals to be gods, roamed the land side by side with those who chose to follow. Humans had yet to grasp the many concepts that made modern civilization possible and leisurely.
For one, there was no common currency mutually agreed upon. What valuables one would covet but not be able to gain for themselves had to be bartered for, a primitive version of a verbal contract. Silk garments, sugary sweets, exquisite jewelry — no one cared for such things as they simply did not exist. To live meant to hunt, gather, perhaps dabble in early artisan attempts, and engage with the scattered community when time allowed.
Those days were simple, if not a touch plain. And yet… compared to all the finest luxuries in the world now at your fingertips, you would choose that simpler time in a heartbeat. For what good is fragrant incense, flowing outfits tailored perfectly to your body’s measurements, diamond-encrusted hairpins, rouge pigment to dust both your cheeks and lips, if at the end of the day, you were miserable?
And you were nothing if not miserable. Bound by oath and shackled to a lifetime of another’s intricate design.
Nothing could have ever prepared you for what was, by all means, the makings of a normal evening. While weaving around Liyue Harbor, there was suddenly an excited crowd forming on the busy streets. Children jumped up and down trying to get a better look at the main event, some even rushing to climb nearby trees for a better vantage point. Those of revered status, likely hailing from Yujing Terrace, sat in plush chairs with a clear view of the stage. You were greeted with some less than pleased grunts as you stopped in place, wanting to find the source of all this unusual commotion.
Theatre and plays were commonplace in the era, what was it about this one that had people so riled up? Amidst the tightly packed crowd, you’re unable to clearly see the main stage, too many taller folk blocking the way. The incessant murmuring stops when a voice calls out from the stage, loud and bellowing. What he says next has you spiraling into what you long considered a nightmare of the forgotten past.
“Today is the debut of our most anticipated production yet! Thank you for your patience. Now, ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy this historic rendition that’s never been seen on stage before. This is the epic tale of The God of War, Rex Lapis, and his devoted lover, The God of Sand, Vephar...”
“You… wish to learn how to make glass?”
Rex Lapis was a most peculiar sort. That was the impression you got from him, the select few times he made an appearance in your humble lands. He had to be if he saw fit to spend hours with you in leisure. It’s not that you thought lowly of yourself — you were a divine being, after all — you just found his persistence strange. There was bright motivation lit inside him, his ambitions far surpassed yours. You were content to spend your many days walking the beach, interacting with those who approached you, or searching for treasures from the ocean’s depths that washed onto the shore.
Needless to say, the two of you were very different, despite having more in common than most.
Rex Lapis had set his eyes on some commendable goals and would not rest until he reached them. So for him to never once miss a promised meeting, meetings that he adamantly set up, made little sense to you. Perhaps he was lonely, you once concluded. Whatever the case, you never gave it much thought. He was knowledgeable and had a tranquil presence. You suppose he must have appreciated your company as well, or at least enough to always come back.
“If you’d take me on as your student,” Rex Lapis responded, a serious expression etched onto his deceivingly young-looking face. He was handsome in this form, you’d give him that.
You couldn’t see any reason to not entertain his request. The element of Geo rushed through your veins the same as it does his, which allowed him to pick up on the necessary techniques with ease. He was a dutiful learner and patiently sat through your various explanations. Sand materialized by your decree and transformed into a variety of shapes, everything from vases meant to carry water and polearms for hunting. These were the same methods you taught the humans under your care to make their brief lives easier. Of course, a god such as Rex Lapis had the unfair advantage of being able to manipulate the earth to his wishes; he picked up on the various nuances faster than the mortals did.
You ran your fingertips over a translucent bowl he made for your examination. “I could be mistaken, but it appears to me that the great Rex Lapis is already acquainted with intricate glasswork.”
“I am familiar with the basics,” he confessed, arms crossed over his lean chest. “You, on the other hand, are an unequivocal master of the art. I simply wished to learn from the best.”
“Your praise flatters me.” Your smile is tentative and meant to give little away. This further confirmed your suspicions that something else was at play here, something he’s kept purposefully hidden. Call it intuition from living many centuries, but you had an inkling that whatever secret Rex Lapis held close to his chest would spell trouble for you and your people.
Rex Lapis frowned at the evident strain in your voice. “Something is troubling you.”
He didn’t skirt around the issue with tact as you’ve come to expect, his amber eyes evaluated your every mannerism for information. You sat his creation down, careful not to harm the fragile bowl, and met his unflinching gaze. This is a side of Rex Lapis that you heard solely through word of mouth. When he was with you, he was thoughtful and courteous, a far cry from what his enemies saw before they were obliterated into dust.
“You have a war to be fighting,” you pointed out, an eyebrow raised. “Definitive godhood to obtain. All these ambitions and more — and yet here you are — spending a calm evening crafting glass utensils with me. Why is that?”
For the first time since you were acquainted, Rex Lapis didn’t have an immediate retort.
He cleared his throat. “In truth, that is the topic I came here to speak with you about. I’m in need of your services—”
Rex Lapis cut himself off at the glower you shoot his way. It’s remained an unspoken rule that you would have nothing to do with his war, his carnage, his cause. Your people weren’t warriors, they were fishermen and nomads. The two of you had long established that you wouldn’t stand in his way to Celestia. He could have the throne for himself, such things were of no interest to you. Your main priority was and would always be your people and your freedom.
“Please, [First]. Lend me your ear for this brief moment. What I want isn’t what you think it to be.” Rex Lapis pleaded with you, humbly lowering his head. It made for an amusing sight, considering if he saw fit, he could strike you down with unfair ease. There was a reason why he had been accurately dubbed the God of War and you hadn’t. He rarely addressed you by your personally chosen name, another detail that was not overlooked. This was serious.
You gritted your teeth together. “So be it. Continue.”
“I understand and respect your stance on wanting to remain neutral,” he assessed your reaction and continued when you raised no further protest. “However, I’m afraid such a position is no longer within the realm of possibility. This will reach you and your people. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”
Mortal sickness never affected you, but to hear those words fall from his lips, you might as well have been rendered terminally ill. Your pulse quickened and by your silence, he knew that you knew he was right. It would be a fool’s error to think yourself above the elongated, skeletal hand that is war, much like the kind hearted Havria.
Rex Lapis took a step closer to you and unexpectedly placed his gloved hand on your bare arm, in what he must’ve considered a comforting gesture. “Let us form a mutually beneficial agreement. My Adepti and I will protect you and your people as if they were our own.”
You pause to reflect on his suspiciously generous offer. “... And what is it that you want in return?”
“In return,” he repeated, and the tips of his hair glowed a bewitching amber, “There are two conditions that must be met. Firstly, you will lend me your aid in crafting a polearm that can slay even a god. I have — for the most part — created the base for you to work with. All you need to do is adorn it with your indestructible glass, imbued with Geo energy.”
A reasonable enough request. “That I can do.”
“Excellent. Second, is the matter of your position in regards to ascension. You’ve stated before that you hold no interest in Celestia’s seven thrones, am I correct?”
You swallowed the saliva that had been building up in your mouth, not liking where this was going. The intensity in which he stared down at you did not bode well. He accepted your nod as reason to continue.
“While that may be your position now, there’s no saying for certain you will always feel that way. That is why I’m suggesting an alternative, concrete solution. I will have you as my wife as proof of your intentions eternally aligning with mine.”
This rendered you completely and utterly speechless. His calm proposal, posed in such an affirmative manner, stole your breath like your lungs had been punched. That is what he came here for? Rex Lapis wanted to seal the deal in a union? There must be some mistake, a misunderstanding you failed to catch. What he proposed felt more skewed in his favor than yours.
“Y-you couldn’t possibly mean,” you sputtered, eyes widened and mouth agape, “To marry me?”
“If that’s what you wish to call it, then yes, that is my exact intention.”
Rex Lapis reacted to your outburst with complete composure, like you were the one acting unreasonable here. Never could you have dreamed he wanted to pursue this. He allowed you all the time you needed to regain yourself, standing patiently by and regarding you with an unreadable expression. This wasn’t a joke, that much you know for certain. He’d never been the best with the nuances of humor. No, he’s dead serious about everything.
“I… can’t agree to this,” you averted your gaze from his, finding it too heavy. “The polearm, yes, but not the second condition. My word should suffice; have I ever gone back on it?”
He hummed thoughtfully and placed a hand to his chin. “I’m afraid that this requires more than a mere verbal promise — it requires a contract. The stakes are too high for anything less.”
“Then I refuse.”
“Have you not readily agreed to spend time with me? The gods are a dying breed, and in time, they will be all but wiped from this world. I could protect you from meeting that fate. No one else can understand you like I do; and no one else can understand me like you do. [First], allow me the honor of being wholly yours.”
You shook his hand off of your arm and he frowned. “This is little more than coercion, Rex Lapis. I’ll only say it one more time: I refuse.”
The ocean breeze whisked by and ruffled his long, dark hair. The ensuing silence is anything but comfortable — you could feel him critically assessing both you and your aggressive body language — yet he didn’t act on the tense atmosphere. Instead of pouncing like you feared he might, he reluctantly nodded. It may have been your overactive imagination, but you swore you saw genuine disappointment flash through his weary eyes. The only disappointment that could compare to the degree he felt it was yours. That your century old friend would try and manipulate you in such an overt manner betrayed the trust he previously cultivated.
“We shall see.”
That was all Rex Lapis said before he turned to leave you with your many thoughts.
You had never seen anything like it in your many centuries of life.
The frantic whispers that bled into the night, stories that mothers told misbehaving children to earn their obedience, nothing could deliver justice to witnessing the bone-chilling sight in the flesh.
It was like they were objects frozen in time. Their last moments had been ones marked by realization, then by all-encompassing terror. Decimated without hope of salvation in what must have been mere seconds. Those few moments were all it took to steal the lives of everyone who once inhabited this small settlement — the one under your watch — rendering what was once living and breathing humans to crackling stone. You knew their names, their faces, everything that made them a unique individual by heart. Those who prayed to you and those who didn’t. None of that mattered, you cared for them all the same.
There was no doubting who had done this.
You paused your heavy walk to tearfully inspect a statue-like woman, Zhi Ruo, who had dropped her pottery in an attempt to shield herself from the oncoming petrification. She was once a dedicated mother who asked for your healing hand when her children fell ill. Her eyes were wide blown and faintly bloodshot — could she still see you somewhere in there? Did her soul reside in the crackled rock? Would she curse you, if she had known that this was due to a decision you had made?
There would be no answer to these many questions that haunted you.
The words Rex Lapis had said before departing that day echoed in your mind with every step. Had you known that they were a challenge, you wouldn’t have let him leave, wouldn’t have let him come here to punish those who were not involved in your affairs. Men, women, and children; none were discriminated against. In just a few days, they would be nothing but ash dusting the earth, forgotten by everyone but you. You. Their God, the one who was supposed to protect them, the one who swore to shield them from this senseless war.
You failed them all.
It doesn’t make any difference, and yet you’ve spent these past few hours vehemently apologizing to each of them, wept countless times at their feet. What could ever free you from the guilt that shackled you? Some apologies were through tears, others accompanied by raw screams, and some so quiet that even you couldn’t hear them. Their faces will remain immortalized in your head until the day you too return to the earth.
This would just be the beginning. What was there to prevent Rex Lapis from raining down execution upon your people who could still draw breath? Nothing, is the answer you concluded. Nothing, save for sacrificing your tattered pride and future. Maybe it would’ve been different had you been stronger. For all that talk of not wanting to turn out like Havria, sweet yet oh so foolish Havria, here you were.
There was work to be done. You didn’t have the luxury of time to mourn the deceased, not when more lives were in harm’s way. Exhaustion had long since seeped into your weary bones, but you pushed on and ignored the reverberating shrieks ringing in your ears. While you weren’t there at the time, your soul was tugged down by the massive loss of your precious people. You had fallen to the ground, rendered unable to even breathe, felt their lives slip through your fingers like they were nothing but sand.
Rex Lapis’ domain was half a day’s walk from this location. You couldn’t afford to waste any more time here, wallowing in your self-hatred. So you continued on, gliding like a specter in the long night, to face the one responsible for it all.
He had anticipated your imminent arrival.
The terms were laid out once more, just like that evening spent on the beach weeks ago. From nothing, he formed a scroll of parchment, with lines upon lines detailing your extensive agreement. There was little point in looking over it, yet you did anyways, checking for possible deceptions. Everything was as he said it would be. You might have given him a little credit for not adding any unnecessary fat to the contract, had it not been for the burning resentment he ignited by slaughtering your people.
With a heavy heart, you signed your name, not as [First], but as the deity Vephar.
The matter of the polearm he wanted you to help form — Vortex Vanquisher, as he called it — would be tended to at a later time. There was something else that had caught his full attention after you signed on the dotted line. You could feel it pulsating in the air without him uttering a single word. What he was most focused on, more than anything else in the everlasting universe, was you.
That night, the two of you consummate your marriage.
Rex Lapis took his time with you, and worshipped every inch of your bare body with the utmost reverence. The God of War had conquered you and this was his sweet reward. You laid beneath him, squirming and unable to relax, your chest heaved desperately for air in between his ministrations.
You swore his eyes shone when you shakily reached for his erect length.
Never had you felt so humiliated — so undignified — when you parted your lips to press a kiss against the tip of his leaking cock. Rex Lapis gave no outward reaction to this, aside from his tightened grip on your head. Your entire body burned with indignation when his smooth, baritone voice filled the room, blocking out everything other than him.
“Are you so determined to please me, my pearl?” He chuckled, running an affectionate hand over your cheek. You don’t humor him with a response and instead set out to finish the job you started. All he can do is hum in approval when you wrapped your trembling hands around the base of his cock and slowly pumped upwards to test the waters. From the breathy noise he released, you assume he approved, and continued on.
Precum starts to leak from the tip, which you tentatively licked up, your mouth wrapped around what parts of him you could take.
His hand helped guide you up and down his sizable length. Rex Lapis leaned back onto the bed but made sure to never tear his eyes away from you so earnestly pleasing him. Eventually, he started to not so gently thrust his pelvis upwards, cherishing the warm cavern of your mouth wrapped tightly around his twitching cock. He felt his release getting closer, the sight of you being so subservient to his every whim almost enough to make him cum down your throat.
However, he’s been patient this long; he can wait to do that another day. You do have eternity to spend together, after all.
Rex Lapis suddenly pulled you back and away from his flushed dick. Your bruised lips are connected to his cock by a thin line of his cum and your saliva, an image he resolved to engrave into his head. Before you could question why he stopped, he’s upon you, and his hands gently pushed you against the bed reserved for the occasion.
Ah. Does that mean he finally wanted to…?
“Be a dear and spread your legs for me,” he whispered into the crook of your neck, sending heat down your body.
You did as he commanded, albeit hesitantly. He hummed in appreciation, and took a moment to teasingly rub the head of his leaking cock against your slick entrance. Tonight, you got to witness his unfair patience firsthand; he had teased and touched you for many hours now. Where you just wanted it to be over with, he wouldn’t rest until he had committed every inch of your body to memory. This is what he worked so hard for, he was going to enjoy himself, to enjoy you.
He entered you slowly, his dick sliding inside and stretching you out. Your neck shifted to the side, every muscle in your body had gone tense at the unusual sensation, you were somewhat grateful that he took the generous time to prepare you beforehand. Once he was completely inside you, he pulled back, the drag of his length against your sensitive walls enough to make a shy moan leave your lips.
Encouraged by the sinful sound, he started to slowly thrust in and out of you. He marked you with his protruding teeth, whispered high praise into your ear, ran his ravenous hands up and down your body which now forever belonged to him. So this was always his goal, you realized. Rex Lapis intended to make you his all this time when you regarded him as good company. Was he always like this? How did you overlook it? These thoughts clouded your mind while he went deeper into you.
You cried out when all the sensations became too much to handle. He exhaled shakily at how your walls spasmed around him, and tightened his bruising grip on your hips. Your new husband happily fucked you through your nth orgasm of the night, greatly pleased by how your body responded so positively to him. He didn’t need to say what he was thinking for you to know.
Finally, Rex Lapis pulled your hips flush against his, and a sound akin to a low growl left his lips when he emptied himself deep inside you as the final insulting blow.
He pulled himself out of you seconds later and laid by your side. The regal air that normally surrounded him returned, the ravenous beast from minutes prior tucked deep away once again. All was silent, save for your pants. You were brought into a tight, suffocating embrace, while he affectionately stroked your back. Maybe you should have fought harder against his touch, maybe you should have cursed him for what he had done.
Yet you didn’t. You allowed Rex Lapis to do as he pleased, though you remained stiff as a board. How disgusted you felt, that his hands which pleasured you without ceasing were the same hands used to martyr your people. Still, you would not cry; you had no more tears left to shed. So you laid there, by his side, counting the seconds as they passed to keep yourself anchored.
It was then you realized that this was only the start to your eternal imprisonment.
Rex Lapis — or Zhongli, as he goes by these days — greets you at the door with a closed mouth smile. It doesn’t matter that he’s seen you everyday for thousands of years, he always looks as pleased as the first time.
“Ah, [First], what excellent timing. I was just about to look for you—”
“What is this?” You cut him off, shoving a flier for the disrespectful play against his chest. His eyes flicker from the paper and back up to you. It doesn’t take a genius to surmise that you’re pissed, though having millenniums of marriage to you underneath his belt does lend some assistance. Zhongli appraises what you’ve pressed against him, pupils moving left to right while he examines the flier.
“A theatrical production based on Liyue’s folklore,” he replies, unwrinkling the paper to get a better look at it. “Specifically, the beloved tale of Rex Lapis and the God of Sand.”
Your will to remain calm is far past its limit. “I know that. What I’m talking about is the contents of the play itself. None of this is accurate, none of it all!”
“Such is the nature of these things, my dear. History often loses its authenticity as time erodes the scarcely well-preserved facts,” Zhongli motions to the table, two teacups with steam rising from them awaiting in your respective spots. You don’t honor him with a verbal response. Everything in your mind is too hazy to properly formulate how enraged you feel, it took all of your waning self-restraint not to lunge a meteor at the stage and obliterate it.
If you were to be honest with yourself, it’s not even the fault of the oblivious humans and their idealistic take on the past. They are ignorant to what truly occurred and boast no ill intent. However, it’s easier to have something concrete to direct your ire at, so they’ll suffice as a scapegoat for now.
You despise how your tea was made just to your specific liking, the flavor perfected in a technique Zhongli curated centuries past. The burning hot liquid stings your clenching throat as you take a hefty sip. “Can’t you— can’t you do something about it? That poor imitation is insulting to us both.”
Ever the graceful one, Zhongli takes his seat across from you, lifting his teacup to inhale the subtle aroma. “What would you have me do?”
“Anything. The Rite of Descension approaches, why not condemn the play and insist on its immediate removal?”
Zhongli raises an eyebrow at your severe suggestion. “That is not my place.”
To be fair, if you were in a better state of mind, you would agree. Of course he wouldn’t go to extremes over something like this. Unless they were making an outright mockery of you — which he would argue that they were not even if you considered it was — Rex Lapis doesn’t interfere with Liyue’s theatre scene. Much less the rose-colored version they were reciting. It’s the version he passed for truth, never denying or confirming the validity. You considered it to be lying by omission, an argument that the two of you hadn’t had in centuries, but that might change in a few minutes.
“It displeases me greatly,” you reaffirm, placing your cup back onto the table and steepling your fingers. “In the past, you offered to impale anyone who so much as looked at me the wrong way. Why not apply the same logic to this?”
Zhongli doesn’t deny the promise he made centuries ago. “That isn’t the case here, is it? Had I found myself incensed to violence over historical accuracies being portrayed as fact, Liyue Harbor would’ve ceased to exist long ago.”
“Morax,” you plead in a low voice, causing him to frown at the unexpected usage of his official title, “Please. I simply cannot fathom walking the streets while that… mockery of a show exists.”
His dark eyelashes flutter shut as he considers the problem at hand. “I can send for the items you require until the production has finished.”
“That’s not the problem!” You exclaim, warmth rising to your face at the uncharacteristic outburst. He extends you enough grace to not comment, allowing you the time necessary to regain yourself, which you gratefully accept. Your fists clench by your side, but that doesn’t compare to how your heart churns. No one knows the truth. No one knows the pain you endured by his hand, the agony of losing those you cherished, no one knows. They portray you as a lovestruck maiden, head over heels for the benevolent God who saved you from the throes of war; the ideal love.
Your husband takes in your distraught expression with pity. “I will see if there’s something I can do.”
It’s likely an empty promise meant to pacify you more than anything, yet you force yourself to believe it, taking in a deep breath. Truthfully, what you fear runs deeper than mortal’s silly falsehoods. The roots of it have long been planted and cultivated by the man sitting across from you, peacefully nursing his tea on what you’d describe as an average afternoon. What you fear is that you’ll forget. That one day, he will have successfully brainwashed you into overlooking the past injustices. The whispering temptation is both unbearable and alluring. When you find yourself slipping into that placated state, you almost hate yourself more than you hate him, an incredible feat.
Zhongli leans forward, resting his elbows on the table. “Tell me, [First]... what version is it that you believe?”
“I—” Your breath catches in your throat. Damn those omnipotent, breathtaking eyes of his. For all the verbal grief that you don’t mind putting him up to, this topic is a terribly sore one, that you don’t dare tread upon. Zhongli’s patience for your contempt only extends so far. What you have learned — entirely against your will as he seemed so fond of doing — was that he wouldn’t stand to let you slander your closely interwoven past. For whatever reason, it was entirely taboo.
Perhaps even he had deluded himself into thinking that your tale was a sweet love story.
“The version I believe, huh?” You muse, laughing a humorless laugh. Zhongli and the people of Liyue’s palpable variant, or the scraps of truth you’ve somehow managed to clung to? A lovestruck tale of two gods finding comfort in each other during all out war, or the tragedy of being coerced into an unrequited marriage to defend those you cared for? What was fact, what was fiction?
You no longer can say that you know for certain.
“There was once a time when the nation known as Liyue hadn’t yet been named…”
Actor!Eren Yeager Headcanons
Pairing: Actor!Eren Yeager x MakeupArtist!Reader (AOT Live Action Show AU)
A/N: I’ve never written for AOT before, but I love the idea of AOT characters as actors playing their characters and was super inspired by @nihaalart ‘s actor au fan art and how Eren is portrayed in them. I might make this multiple parts we’ll see :)
pt 2, pt 3
okay so like
Basically in this world AOT is a live action show instead of an anime
And the characters are actors who play the characters
Same names or at least the same first names for the sake of everything
Think of it as like the characters as actors were just so destined to play these roles that they were born with the same/nearly the same names
But aNYWAYS BACK TO THE STORY
Attack on Titan is a huge deal
Like I’m talking Marvel/Stranger Things/Squid Game big deal
It’s quite possibly THE MOST anticipated show every year or two a season comes out
And the biggest franchise at the moment
People love it A LOT
So naturally, as a makeup artist working on the final two seasons you were nervous as hell
You did both normal and Special Effects (wounds, mid transformation, gore, all that good stuff) makeup for the production
And you were terrified your first day bc you didn’t want to mess up and then have the director yell at you and then lose your job because this was a once in a lifetime opportunity
But once you got to set you quickly found that everyone was super chill and friendly
You made friends almost instantly with all sorts of people: catering, directors, assistants, other makeup artists, costume designers
You get the gist
But you WOULD NOT even DARE to approach the cast
They were like gods
Beautiful, scary, and untouchable
They had millions upon millions of dedicated followers (Mikasa, Eren, and Levi took the lead with over fifty million Instagram followers each)
And those followers could be very protective over them
Plus you’ve only ever seen them as the rage filled, vengeful fighters on the show
So yeah it’s kind of intimidating
But you had to talk to them eventually
So you mustered up all your courage and introduced yourself as the new makeup artist
Mikasa and Sasha were so welcoming and immediately asked you to put your number in their phones so you guys could hang out
You found out you were the exact same age as them so you clicked immediately
You all started chatting and they asked you to show them what you’ve done
So you showed a few pictures of different kinds of makeup
Including the test makeup for this season
End they were super impressed
Sasha was like, “Woah, you’re so talented!!! Whoever gets you is gonna be so lucky. No offense to you, Pablo, you do an amazing job” (Pablo was Sasha’s MUA and he just ignored her antics as he set up his equipment)
Mikasa was curious about who you had gotten assigned to
So you looked down at your roster with all the makeup info and found who you’d be primarily taking care of
“It looks like I’ve got Eren Yeager”
And both Mikasa and Sasha had the biggest shit eating grins on their faces after you had said that bc you were really cute and Eren was really single
Just a thought
And so they asked you if you’d met him yet and you said you hadn’t and probably wouldn’t until the next day when he came to set to shoot
Today you were just going to shadow some of the other MUAs to see how things worked
They nodded and gave each other a look before being called to their chairs to get their makeup done
The day went by pretty fast and you were surprised when it was over
Back in your trailer you tried to sleep early but your nerves were eating away at you
What if Eren was mean? What if he didn’t like you or your work? What if he was cold and didn’t talk to you or hated you so much you got fired and replaced?
Even if the rest of the cast was nice you couldn’t be sure he would be too
Especially since his character was so intense
These were the thoughts that plagued you as you shakily set up your equipment in front of a chair embroidered with Eren’s name on it
You were about to finish when you felt a tap on your shoulder
You turned around and were met with none other than Eren Yeager himself
And you felt your hands go numb
Because holy moly he was GORGEOUS
Tall with tanned skin and long brown hair pulled back in a messy bun that had no business being that attractive
His green hoodie that he had gotten from season one (complete with the Survey Corps Scout crest on the front) brought out the color of his eyes
Which you had to admit were the most brilliant color you’d ever seen
He smiled at you and introduced himself
And by god you thought your heart was gonna beat out of your chest
Because it seemed like there was a literal god in front of you
And if god was real and had favorites Eren Yeager was certainly one of them
But you shakily put your hand in his and shook it, introducing yourself as well
He smiled again and sat down in the chair, letting you get to work on his makeup
Being so close to him was kind of nerve wracking to be honest
You learned early on as a MUA that it was your job to make your client feel comfortable though, so you talked to him
You had also showered extra hard last night, brushed your teeth like five times, and sprayed on tons of body spray
You wanted to smell good oKAY
When you work in such close proximity to someone it can get hellish if you didn’t smell good
And Eren definitely noticed
Bc most of his other MUAs before hadn’t really cared
They’d been in the game so long they’d drink like five cups of coffee and have onions and anchovies for lunch and wake up twenty minutes before the call time but Eren didn’t wanna be mean or embarrass them so he would just hold his breath or breathe through his mouth if he could until they finished
So you were a very nice and welcome change
And he thought you were really pretty
Like REALLY REALLY pretty
You began talking to him bc you wanted to know his comfort level and personality so you could cater your work towards him for comfort
No other reasons you started talking to him
And you slowly realized that 1: Eren Yeager the actor was very different from Eren Yeager the character
He was fun and laidback and kind of flirty if you were being honest
And 2: Eren Yeager the actor was extremely easy to talk to
He didn’t try to hide anything
He was straightforward like his character, but not blunt or harsh
He was also super kind, you noticed
Always talked about his cast mates and directors with respect and fondness
Never put a bad word to anyone’s name
He was also kind of funny
Not even like he was a joker like Connie or Jean
He was just naturally a funny guy somehow
So you found yourself smiling and laughing most of the time you were doing his makeup
And you realized within the short time frame of meeting him that you really enjoyed his presence
(Ngl he realized this about you too)
Once you were finished you pulled away and gave him a mirror
Tbh he didn’t even look at his reflection he just looked at your concentrated face as you fixed his hair or blended something a bit more
And he thanked his lucky stars he was wearing makeup because you were so cute you were making him blush
“It looks great”
You looked down at him with a slight worried expression
“Are you sure? I can blend it more if you want. Maybe I should double check with the director-“
You began to walk away to get someone to check but Eren grabbed your wrist before you could
You turned around and found him looking at you with a soft gaze
His hand around your wrist was warm
It was kinda hard to concentrate
“(Y/N), I promise you, it looks amazing. You’re really talented.”
And you just stood there in shock because
THE Eren Yeager just complimented your work
You just kinda stared at him for a second before thanking him
And then you two stayed like that
Which should’ve been awkward but wasn’t
And then the director called everyone to get their costumes and stuff on
Eren snapped out of whatever trance he had been under and let go of your wrist
“Guess that’s my cue”
You nodded and he began to leave but you called after him
“Come back after you get your costume on so I can do some touch ups and fix your hair”
With any other person he would’ve responded with some sarcastic or mischievous comment
But he just nodded and waved before jogging off
It wasn’t until he had left that you realized how fast your heart had been beating
This boy was gonna be the death of you
it's beautiful. the moon. isn't it?
Bonten!Ran x fem!reader
GENRE: Smut Warning +18, fluff too? kinda
WARNINGS: soft dom!ran, cursing, sexual themes so MDNI, public sex
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters; the story is purely fictional and created from my imagination
🏷️ TAGLIST: @xenefid @kipani-snow-25 @bontensbabygirl @des-tru6tion @hell-temptations @mitsuyaswifeey @sunnydino @trashmemebitch @bontenacious @sassyglassesbunny @bontensucker (if someone wants to be added to the taglist please do reply!)
This wasn't your usual scene. No, it definitely wasn’t. But it was his. Though to anyone in this room you seemed like you fit just perfectly. You were gorgeous and the dress Ran bought you for tonight was hugging your body just perfectly.
All eyes were on you, from single men and women to the married ones. You didn't particularly enjoy or indulge in such a thing.
''You enjoying yourself sweetheart?'', Ran's arm suddenly wrapped around your waist placing a small peck on your exposed shoulder.
You rolled your eyes instantly while taking a sip from the drink in your hand. ''Tch- you know I don't like the attention''
''Just a bit longer and I promise I'll reward my baby in just the right way'', softly kissing your temple he moved his hand to your ass giving it a quick squeeze and just as quickly pulling away.
''Idiot- you better.. I could've been in my comfy clothes munching on some take-away right now, these fucking heels are killing me'', you huffed but he just chuckled back.
This personality of yours will be the death of him. But he loved every part of you nevertheless.
It was already night time, it was a full moon tonight. It gave you an idea to seek a balcony in this place since you have already gotten tired of the gala hall, it was suffocating.
Fortunately for you, there was just the perfect one, completely designated from the rest of the crowd and to your luck on the highest floor or the building. The beautiful starry sky brought you joy. Somehow you always found peace in the moonlight, ever since you were little. Suddenly you felt another presence close to you, approaching you slowly.
''It's beautiful. The moon. Isn't it?'' you inquired with a soft smile on your face still facing forward not turning around. The next moment you felt two hands wrapped around your waist and his face buried in between your neck and shoulder.
''Not like my gorgeous girlfriend'', barely audible but you heard him perfectly
''Well she seems like a catch, mind if you introduce me to her?'', you chuckled, a soft smile decorating your face.
''Hmm, I don't like sharing her'', he proceeded to trace your neck with his lips. ''God, you are making me so hard without doing a thing, you know?''
''Don't say such dirty things here Ran...'' your breath was shaky, eyes starting to flutter as his hands caressed your curves oh so gently
Ran's lips were close to your ear now, ''I can say whatever I want princess''
''Is that so?'', you turned around to finally face your boyfriend, hand resting on his chest. He took your hand in his, urging you to slowly move lower and lower to the point where he needed you. As your hand traced over the area with the visible tent in his pants, you knew you wanted this just as much as he did. Right here. Right now.
Palming him, you felt him pull away for a quick moment, breaking the oh so heated make out session to let out a long breath. He pulled his head back in pleasure moving his hands to cup your breast to which you moaned softly. ''Fuck'', you breathed out, feeling your nipples harden under his touch, only the tiny material separating from a direct contact on your skin.
''Well isn't my princess suddenly so needy.'', he pointed out, noticing how your hand continued to palm his crotch desperately and you angling your hips closer and closer to him just to get absolutely any sort of friction you could.
You were well aware of his teasing nature. He loved this. He enjoyed every moment of your desperation and neediness for him which only he could fulfil.
''Ran, please-...'', you slowly trailed, eyes closing shut with your head now buried in the crook of his neck, you were begging for more.
''I don't remember that being my name princess'', Ran smirked at you, loving how you were already putty in his hands
''D-d-daddy please...'', you softly breathed out once more.
''That's my good girl'', he cooed, moving your body against the glass railing of the balcony, your clothed front now in contact with the glass frame.
You instinctively turned your head around as you were scanning his hand's movement which was slowly nearing the lower part of your dress, but you were almost immediately cut off as he turned your head back to look at the moon in front of you. Reminding you why you were on this balcony in the first place.
You obliged, now looking at the beautiful moon and the starry sky in front of you. Suddenly, you began feeling his fierce touch. He delicately slid his long fingers up and down your thighs, you shivered upon feeling the cool metal of his rings against your bare skin. As he was slowly moving his hands upwards, his fingers grazed your lacey thin underwear. He could feel you stiffen but he disregarded it, only a smirk on his face feeling so proud of himself. The next moment your panties were pulled down pooling around your ankles, on you nothing but the black tight dress.
Ran let out a deep breath, the tightness of his pants almost unbearable but he knew he wanted to take his sweet time with your body. His hand slid under your dress from below pulling it upwards a bit. Fingertips slowly moving over your slit, catching the formed liquid on him.
A sweet moan fell from your lips. ''Oh, want me to touch you here?'', Ran was still in his teasing mood, moving his hand form your slit just for a moment.
His fingers trail back down your slit once more until they were met with your slick hole. ''How are you already so fucking wet princess, and I barely even touched you hmm..'', he says before slowly dipping in two of his long fingers.
''Just two fingers in and you are already clenching around me'', he chuckled.
You hummed back, just barely used to the feeling of your velvety walls gripping around his digits when he suddenly started slowly pumping them inside of you.
''Oh fuck yess, 's so good, fuck'', you breathed.
He had your upper part pressing against the glass railing while your ass was closely pressed against his painfully grown crotch. His arms wrapped around your upper half keeping you close to him as his fingers kept going in a scissoring motion inside of you. You couldn't contain the flow of your moans anymore
''Hmm? Is my princess enjoying this?'', he inquired. You only moaned our as a response as he snuck a third finger in and curled upwards, reaching all the right spots, while his thumb found your clit.
''Or maybe you prefer this hmm?'', he knew you were unable to form coherent word so he finished for you. Your head leaned back now against his chest, you could barely contain a scream.
''Careful now princess or someone just might catch us in the act'', he softly whispered to your ear placing two fingers in your mouth. ''...or you might like that hmm?''
You could only mumble against his fingers in your mouth. He slowly pulled out his fingers and moved slightly back, but you already didn't like the emptiness. His fingers were still in your mouth making you unable to vocally beg for him to continue, so instead you pushed your hips back to grind against him. Not even a second later you heard the sound of a belt being undone so, you stopped your movements and decided to wait for him to finally fill you up again.
He took a moment to look at your awaiting hole, clenching around absolutely nothing, just waiting for him. Your eyes widen suddenly as you felt his raw tip slide into your opening.
''Remember you gotta be quiet princess'', and with that Ran drove his hips forward, bottoming out inside of you without a warning whatsoever. It didn't matter that you had sex way too many times to even count a grin formed across his lips with delight of seeing you still struggle to take all of his length.
''Ahh- fuck...'', you moaned as you already felt your orgasm crashing down but his hand came over your mouth once again.
''What’s this hmm? Was my princess this eager that she came already just from me bottoming inside of you'', he placed a kiss on the back of your head.
''Ughh- shut up and just fuck me.'', you groaned.
''What my princess wants, she gets. You deserved it'', Ran hummed, a smirk once again evident on his lips.
He started slowly thrusting into you as deep as he could go. Once he found a perfect pace, quite quicker than with what he started off, you could swear you were seeing stars even with your eyes closed.
''Now, now... Weren't you here to watch the moon?’’, he cooed at you as he pulled your hair back in a makeshift ponytail, pressing your back against his chest, your eyes immediately open again. ''... so, you better enjoy the view then princess''
You could feel his pace accelerating a bit more, his tip reaching just the right spot as the urge to cum once more was overwhelming.
''Oh- FUCK. Yes. Just like that, don't stop please, fuckk I’m about to cum again.'', you moaned out, hearing him groan right into your ear as he kept continuously pounding himself into your abused hole.
''Mhmm, yes princess, be my good girl and cum for me again. Cum on my cock''
That was more than enough for you as you felt your high come crashing down on you. The sensation was out of this world, heavenly even. ''Fuck Ran, I love you so fucking much, fuck.'', you could not contain yourself anymore
To that Ran groaned almost loudly, his high just around the corner too so he kept on thrusting in, fucking you through your high and chasing his now.
''Fuck princess'', he groaned once again as he thrusted one last time before emptying himself completely and painting your walls white. He pulled out feeling oh so proud of himself as he then moved your body close to his, enveloping you in his strong arms. You turned around to look into his eyes.
''You didn't say it back fucker'', your lips forming a small pout
''What exactly?'', he smirked, moving closer to kiss the pout on your face but you quickly shifted your face to the side avoiding it
''You should already be aware that I love you idiot, didn’t I just already show you?'', he chuckled at your childish antics.
You huffed, ''well it wouldn't hurt you to say it too from time to time''
''I love you too princess'', a sudden smile on your face as if you just won something.
He smiled back at you looking down into your sweet eyes as he was questioning what he exactly did to deserve you. But that didn't matter now. You were his, and he was yours, and no matter how chaotic you both might be, you were just perfect for each other.
I think yall deserved this one after all the angsty content I put you through.
Even though I do write a lot of angsty shit for this man I do headcanon him as he's portayed in this story.
I really hope you enjoy this one since this will be such a rare occurance on my page, sorry (im not actually sorry, love the hurt); but I do believe that after all that hurt content you learn to appreciate these ones more
Sooo until next time my loves! :)
Kris' Overly Uncanny Default Sprite...
This has been an idea of mine for quite a while, but...
Kris in certain scenes.....Scenes that we are told have Kris undergoing....Rather emotional moments, which are very important about their character...They just remain with the same default sprite
Like yeah we've all been laughing our tuna cans off, as we have yet another "-_-" child in the KFC gang, but it truly is weird
When Queen reveals that she has plugged Berdly's face and basically mind controlling him, everyone backs away in shock, even Kris....But Kris doesn't change their sprite in the slightest....They were shocked enough to back away like everyone else....but not enough to change their sprite...?
Same goes on in here, when Noelle intrudes upon Kris and Susie, right before they enter the Supply Closet, Kris very clearly is as shocked as Susie, instantly backing into the Closet next to Susie i guess in an attempt to hide the door for some reason (....Or it's just their first instinct to go near the strong, moss enjoying, purple dragon, mean girl to defend them from threats)....And even then Kris...Just slides away in their default sprite, there isn't even any walking animation
the entire thing just....looks so uncanny and I HIGHLY doubt that this is just Toby not wanting to make sprites for a single scene....Because come on, he has done that already countless times with Susie and let's be honest, if we got a shocked Kris sprite, we would all collectively loose our minds and paste into every meme possible
Even in the post-Spamton NEO scene, where Kris basically yells "NO"....their sprite remains unchanged, sure they turn away from us, but other than that....They remain the exact same
in all of those scenes, Kris remains unchanged, with their seemingly apathetic exterior never seeming to crack...
...or so we've been lead to believe
There are countless times in which Kris is said to be showcasing emotions that we never get to see (heck we never even get to see what they are actually saying, depending on the Narrator and the Characters around them to tell us)
and all of the other characters' overworld sprites always change in scenes, even when we are most likely focused on the dialogue, or even for small moments
but NEVER with Kris....
....and the same goes on in Undertale with Frisk
So, what? Are all the humans just a singular face at all times? Is that like a design decision that Toby made?
...well not really...Because we actually do get to see humans show off different sprites and I'm not talking about Chara, who other than having a smile as their sprite can also make a fully animated jumpscare
I'm talking about Kris
Whenever we are ripped out of them...or about to be ripped off, Kris becomes a trillion times far more...Energetic, gaining all sorts of overly expressive sprites and frames, their "-_-" sprite vanishes entirely
"..okay so maybe it's just that the Scene was given far more detailed sprites to make it clear what's going on with Kris?"
well that would be likely...but when Kris finally inserts back in, seeing a glimpse of their face feeling the pain that such an action causes them.......There's silence...They're just sitting there for quite a while...And then we are given back control, instantly, already on our feet, no animation in between and then the music returns as if nothing ever happened....
So we've seen Humans showcase different sprites showcasing emotions...and the only times it has happened was with characters that weren't under our control, Chara ,when they were talking to us had become fully independent from us and Kris when they are about to or have removed us from them
Leaving us with Frisk and controlled Kris...Who are both under our possession (details about that in here)
So where am I going with all this?
Well seeing as We are the only ones incapable of seeing their emotions and in general hearing their voice and only whenever We are in control...I think the conclusion I'm trying to reach is:
Whenever we possess Kris, Frisk or in general anyone....Seemingly an "illusion" is cast (or just something happens to make it like that) on them making us only see them through that weird default sprite which only changes when the sprite itself has undergone some rather big change in position (falling on ground, sitting on the floor after being knocked out, or when engaging in battle, which is the only place in which we see the large amount of their unique sprites (which are still devoid of emotion))
the best example I can think of would be from OFF (the game)...in which SPOILERS but
The Batter the protagonist we are specifically told we are puppeteering, exactly like Kris...And depending on our actions, he can become the final boss of the game...and well...His Sprite undergoes a slightly small change...Turning from just a baseball dude....To...Well, This and from many clues throughout the game itself it can be gathered...That this is how everyone has been seeing us the entire game, not as a normal baseball man, but as a "huge, frightening ducky"
And if you didn't know, OFF has been an inspiration to Undertale...soo....Who knows!
...Thank you for reading!~
M. Fushiguro || Girlfriend VS. Best friend! Now Fight!!
Pairing: Megumi Fushiguro x Jujustu Sorcerer Fem! (Reader)
Warning: This isn’t spicy, angst kinda, language warning, it’s gonna probably get more sexual next part but either way characters are all aged up and in college, everyone is over 18
Ever since you were a child, you had been best friends with Megumi Fushiguro, and lately things had been off. You two did everything together; from killing curses and protecting the human population of Japan, to watching tv and having late night talks about life in your dorm. You were basically inseparable, but these past few weeks things had been different. Ever since Megumi went and got a girlfriend, things had definitely changed between the both of you.
You two had met when you had your fourth birthday party where Gojo (who was best friends with your dad) brought little Megumi as his plus one. It was like ever since that one fateful day, you two had been attached at the hip. Even the day you met, Megumi ended up sleeping over since Gojo got absolutely wasted with your parents and passed out in your living room.
You shared everything with one another; your feelings, food, drinks, your crazy ideas for the future, your training time, and even your clothes. There were virtually no secrets between you two, well except how you truly felt about one another. And it was safe to say, that wasn't going to be a secret for very much longer.
"Nooooo, please Y/N-chan let's watch it. I promise I'll watch Howl's with you if you watch Spirited Away with me." Yuuji pleaded, leaning for the remote on your right side and making puppy dog eyes at you so you would give in to his request. You raised the remote out of his reach, smirking at the way he was playfully pouting at you on the other side of your bed.
“You’re really going to sit through Howls with me?” You questioned, seconds away from accepting his offer, when your gaze shifted to your dorm door that suddenly burst open.
Your eyes met the dark blue gaze of your best friend under your red LED lights, raising a brow at the way he dramatically walked into the room.
"Well, hello to you too Megs."
"There you are, I've been looking for both of you for the past 20 minutes. Itadori-kun, Gojo-sensei wanted to talk to you about something. He's on the first floor looking for you," Megumi announced, ignoring your comment.
Yuuji turned to you and pointed in determination as he shimmied out of your bed.
"Rain check on Movie night?" He asked, and you rolled your eyes and nodded.
"Fineeeee, but you're buying the snacks then." You agreed, and Yuuji smiled back at you and offered his hand for you to shake.
"Deal. Movie night snacks are on me." You shook his hand in agreement and turned your attention back to Megumi who was standing at the foot of your bed waiting for Yuuji to get out of his designated spot. You sat up, reaching for the phone on your nightstand as Megumi made himself at home on your bed and Yuuji went to find Gojo.
"What's up Megs?" You asked, seeing that something was clearly bothering your brooding best friend. You were ready to listen to whatever rant he was about to make you endure, while you sorted through the messages that you had to reply to.
“I hate that women are so complicated,” He answered, leaning his head on your left shoulder while you resisted the urge to cuddle into him. He absent minded grabbed your right hand and started interlocking your fingers, tracing circles with his thumb into the back of your hand.
“Men aren’t any better if those are the other horizons you were looking towards,” You joked, putting on Netflix and handing him the remote so he could pick what you were going to watch. You had developed a sort of wordless routine around one another when you were alone, you were the only person Megumi went to for physical affection since he was a kid so he took every chance you had together to touch you in some way.
"I had a fight with Mira-san, and I don't know what to do." He revealed and you fought the urge to roll your eyes. You had a feeling that it had been his girlfriend bothering him, but as a supportive best friend you tried not to assume.
"Oh really, what happened?" You asked disinterestedly while you checked who had messaged you.
You replied to Yuta-senpai, who had asked you how you were and told him you couldn't wait for him to come back and visit you. You also had some texts from the group chat with Nobara and Maki, asking you if you were still on for shopping tomorrow and as you were about to send her back the confirmation you felt a hand on your thigh.
Instantly your gaze shot up to Megumi, feeling like the skin underneath his hand was growing hotter. He was gazing at you with one of his rare determined expressions.
"What's wrong?" You asked, trying to suppress the shivers that were running down your spine at the contact. You were used to Megumi touching you out of nowhere to get your attention, but the way his eyes were boring into yours was different this time.
"I have to ask you something and I need you to be completely honest with me." He let out, and you nodded.
"Yeah, of course. What's going on Megs? You know I'll answer whatever you want to know."
"Do you think that our relationship isn't completely friendly?" He questioned, and you could feel your heart racing in your chest. His hand was still firmly on your thigh and the combination of his hand, and piercing gaze was starting to get to you. You felt your stomach tighten, nerves building as you searched for a non suspicious way to answer his question.
"What do you mean completely friendly? I've known you since we were literally 4 years old Megumi, I think you're basically considered family at this point. You're like my parent's unofficial adopted child." You responded, trying to play off the slight raise in octave in your voice as you tried to convince him and yourself that you were almost insulted at the question.
“So you’ve never felt anything romantic towards me then?” He outright asked you, making your eyes go wide. You glanced down at his hand on your thigh, it was absolutely still and you couldn’t stop the racing of your heart in your chest.
“Why are you asking me that all of a sudden? What type of fight did you have with Mira-San?” You questioned back, shooting up from your bed and turning away from Megumi so he couldn’t see your blush. You pretended to be interested in a sheet of paper that was on your desk, trying to suppress the heat that was traveling up your neck to your cheeks.
“It’s just that we fought about, well you and me actually. Mira-san thinks that we have feelings for each other and no matter how many times I tell her that you’re just my best friend, every fight we have always seems to circle back to us.” Megumi answered, and you turned to look at him in shock.
You couldn’t believe she had actually noticed your feelings for the brunette sorcerer, you had been so accustomed to hiding how you felt from everyone that it was one of the first times you truly felt caught. You had your words stuck in your throat, your brain was working overtime to try and find a way out of this conversation but there was nothing you could come up with.
“You mean you’ve fought with her multiple times about this?” You said, and he nodded.
“Is that why you haven’t been coming over as often? Because your girlfriend thinks I’m in love with you?” You continued, feeling your stomach tighten once more.
“She doesn’t just think you’re in love with me, she's convinced that I’m also in love with you. Can you believe it? I keep telling her she’s crazy, but lately everytime I tell her I’m going to hang out with you she tries to keep me longer and then it just gets too late to come over.” He explained and you knew you shouldn’t but you felt anger beginning to build.
“So you mean to tell me, that your girlfriend who is constantly around me and has never mentioned anything about this, is trying to get you to stop hanging out with me because she thinks I like you?” You asked for clarification and Megumi’s eyes went wide. He quickly stood and grabbed your shoulders, rubbing his thumbs on your arms. It was something he frequently did when he was trying to calm you down.
“No, she’s not trying to get us to stop hanging out. She’s just worried that you may have hidden intentions towards me. She really likes you, she just has the wrong idea.” He denied and that’s when you felt your blood begin to boil.
“Megumi, please don’t try and lie about what she’s doing. If you think that’s the case then you know what? Maybe we shouldn’t hang out at all. I mean I would hate to damage your relationship with some girl you’ve known for the past 5 months.” You snapped suddenly, not missing the way hurt flashed in Megumi’s eyes as you pushed his hands off you and walked towards the door.
“Wait Y/-,” Megumi began to protest, but you interrupted him.
You grabbed the door, pulled it open and stared at Megumi.
“Get out,” You ordered, gaze hardening so that the tears that were beginning to build wouldn’t fall.
“Are you serious right now?” He questioned, still not walking towards the door.
“Abso-fucking-lutely. Get the fuck out of my room Fushiguro.” You answered and he finally began to walk towards you and the door.
“Fine. I’ll talk to you later then,”
“Good luck with that.” You bid your farewell, slamming the door behind him and resting behind it. All the tears you had been suppressing were free falling now, you used one hand to cover your mouth while you thought about what had just happened.
You just lost your best friend.
3 𝐌𝐎𝐍𝐓𝐇𝐒 𝐋𝐀𝐓𝐄𝐑....
It had been months since your fight with Megumi, and true to your word you didn’t talk to him.
You avoided him at every opportunity. Leaving any room that he was in alone with you, shooting down every attempt at a conversation and staying as far as physically possible from him when you were all hanging out in the common rooms.
It was getting to the point where you had borderline replaced him with anyone that was available, and you were starting to suffer because of it.
“So, not that I don’t love having cute dates with my students but shouldn’t you be here with Megumi-Chan?” Gojo questioned as he reached over and grabbed some fries from your tray while you glared at your phone.
You were watching his girlfriend’s Instagram story, frowning at the image of annoyed looking Megumi covering his face as they had a picnic.
“Shut up and eat. You owe me for breaking my finger during training, I’m not exactly overjoyed to be with you either. If Yuuji didn’t have remedial classes he would be here right now,” You demanded, looking up at your white haired teacher who was grinning at you.
“Oh come on, you know you love me,” he teased and you rolled your eyes.
“Actually considering you’ve been annoying me since birth, I kinda hate you,” You deadpanned and he laughed,
“Well if you hate me so much then why was I your first choice?” He batted his eyelashes at you, making you snort.
“Because as much as I hate you, you’re rich,” you answered, grinning as you reached for his milkshake and stole a sip.
“Gold digger,” he playfully gasped and you rolled your eyes. You were about to reply when you heard someone clear their throat beside you.
You looked up and saw Megumi and his beaming girlfriend who was standing beside him admiring Gojo. You felt dread fill your being as he looked at you and Gojo with annoyance.
“Wow you two! Crazy seeing you here,” Gojo greeted, sneaking a glance at you and his playful gaze softened when he saw your expression.
“Yeah, crazy. Hi Gojo-san, Y/N-San, are you guys staying? Do you mind if we sit here?” Mira-san asked while she pulled up a chair to our table. You instantly got up as she settled down. Megumi instantly reached for your hand as you moved to walk away,
“Stay, come on. It’s been months.” He pleaded in a low whisper, and even though you felt like your stomach had a zoo going rampant inside of it you pulled your hand back. You regretted looking into his eyes, it was easier to get mad at Megumi for being influenced by a girl he just met, then acknowledge that he had an idea of how you felt and still chose her.
You pulled back your hand and turned to look at Mira, who was sitting smug in her chair.
“Sorry I realized I was late to something, you two can enjoy the table.”
“Well it was great seeing you, kid. We’re going to head out to that rooftop I mentioned earlier. Now you two, enjoy your youth. I’ll make sure Y/N does,” Gojo announced, standing and as gracefully as you’ve ever seen him, pushed in his chair and ran a hand through his hair.
He turned his head towards Megumi, walked over to you, flashing him an obnoxious smile and put his hand on the small of your back leading you out.
You wordlessly let Gojo lead you to the front register, where he thanked the waitress and you walked out. You were so engrossed in your thoughts that you didn’t realize you had absentmindedly grabbed Gojo’s hand, until you were about to cross a street and he pulled you back.
“Hey, Y/N-Chan. We drove here and the car is the other way, come on I’ll take you back to the dorms.” He explained and you looked up at him with an absentminded expression.
“How bad did it look?” You asked, knowing he would tell you brutally how bad it seemed.
“It was a complete trainwreck. Honestly it was like a k-drama but Megumi-Chan is still a little girl, he needs to grow into his protagonist role already.” He answered, trying to lighten the mood, and you let out a small chuckle.
“I can’t keep hanging out with him having movie nights if he knows how I feel. I don’t want to keep pretending anytime my eyes meet him when we’re dancing at some event that I don’t want to kiss him. For the first time in months I haven’t had to pretend.” You let out and he put his hand on your shoulder in sympathy. You couldn’t believe you had actually said it out loud, and much less to Gojo of all people. But it did kind of make sense.
“Come on kid, let’s go somewhere. You need to get some fresh air.” Gojo advised, pulling your hand towards the direction of the car and wordlessly leading you somewhere to get your mind off things.
You were getting in the passenger seat of the car when you were pulled back by the arm, you turned to see an out of breath Megumi that was holding his chest. He was glaring at Gojo, and there was the brief moment of hope where you thought you saw hints of jealousy in his glare. You glanced at him confused and ripped your arm out of his hold.
“Listen, I know you may not want to hear this from me right now but I fucking hate this. I don’t want to be fighting anymore and I don’t want one stupid argument to throw all of this away. It was stupid to question our friendship and I know that now but you’re the one throwing away 14 years of friendship for a girl I met 5 months ago, not me.” He said and he reached out to grab your hand. You looked at him for a moment, and felt all the feelings that you had been holding back for the past 6 months bubble to the surface.
“Megumi, I’m not the one wh-,” You began to explain and he interrupted you by grabbing your face.
You stopped mid sentence, Megumi leaned into you and closed his eyes before placing his lips on yours. You stopped breathing for a moment, closing your eyes out of instinct and grabbing onto his shirt.
Megumi was kissing you. You were kissing Megumi. Megumi and you were kissing in the middle of the sidewalk.
“Wow how does that song go? I don’t like your girlfriend, I think you need a new one.” Gojo joked and you pulled apart.
What the fuck.
an artificial family 💉 💀
i had doodled this idea in a corner of a notebook months ago and was very happy to finally work on it for real, i adore working on more minimalistic styles! plus i really wanted to make a loving homage to the mechs, i came late to the party but they’ve offered so much solace in the last year. and the character designs they built for themselves are irresistible, so of course i’d want to try my hand at some sort of lineup or group picture, and i’m very happy with the result 💙 i went through a lot of ideas for a more colorful background but in the end nearly white really was what looked best... i guess the figures work well by themselves.
i’d say raph was the one i was most excited to draw, i saved her for last and to me, her and carmilla are like the stars of the composition! i’m also REALLY happy with how nastya, marius and ts came out and i want to kiss them a lot. hope you like it as much as i enjoyed making it! :33 i like these enough to post them individually too and am possibly going to print them as stickers for myself at some point -that got me thinking that if anyone wanted to do the same or use these as icons or blog stuff, i’d be happy to share the hi-res files, so let me know what you think n.n
edit: you got it, friends! here’s the post with each mech individually as well as the info and link to download the files and get your own mechs thingies!
[ID: a digital illustration of doctor carmilla and the mechanisms, donde in a flat-colored, sharp, minimalistic style. the background is a light cream color a few lines of light coming from behind the group. on the bottom of the image, below the figures, is written ‘’dr. carmilla & the mechanisms’’. the group is arranged in a triangle, with carmilla sitting at the front and center. brian and jonny come from behind her seat to her right, while tim and ashes do the same to her left. behind her nastya and ivy stand nearly back to back. the cusp of the triangle is made up from marius and the toy soldier to the left and right, and raphaella in the center a ways above. carmilla looks to us, everyone else save for marius and the toy soldier, who have their eyes closed, look at her. everyone’s faces save for raph’s are in a sharp profile, and the only features drawn are eyes and noses.
carmilla is sitting on a small throne with her legs to the right, not quite crossed, her left hand on her lap and her right on top of her ukelele, which she holds upright against the floor. brian is to her right coming from behind the chair, standing very hunched over, holding a drumstick in each hand. behind him, jonny stands leaning towards his front, with his gun pointing up. on the other side, tim comes from behind carmilla, also hunched over, holding his guitar pointing diagonally downwards. behind him, ashes stands upright with a hand on their pocket and the other holding a lit lighter up. their expression is less wary than that of brian, tim or jonny. behind carmilla and between jonny and ashes are nastya to our left, and ivy to our right. nastya stands with her back to us, looking over her shoulder with narrowed eyes at carmilla. ivy is also with her back to us, holding a book over her hip with her left hand, and with her right in a shushing motion near her face. next are marius and the toy soldier behind them, marius to our left and ts to our right, both posing similarly: they stand on one leg, like in a happy jump, and have their outer arm lifted high and their inner arm near their faces. their eyes are happily closed, marius’s left arm is adjustingthe monocle on the non-visible side of his face, and the toy soldier’s right hand goes to their forehead in a salute. lastly is raphaella behind and slightly above them, her wings splayed wide. her hair is floating wildly to the sides, she’s standing upright with her hands behind her back, looking straight down at carmilla. she’s the only figure shown fully frontal. end ID]
I'll Take Care of You
xiao x reader
word count: 1.1k
genre: fluff I guess
warnings: sickness, not proof read
after a long day of commissions, you wake up in an unknown room
a/n; I've been meaning to write this for a while but I wanted to try writing for some other characters first because unfortunately I can't really just keep writing for xiao over and over again, no matter how much I may want to
What time is it? you wondered to yourself as your bleary eyes blinked open. You had just woken up in a room that you noticed to be different from your own. It was quite a bit bigger and contained none of your belongings – in fact, it seemed more like some kind of guest room rather than one with a designated owner. The curtains were shut, making the room appear dim, but you could still see small streams of light seeping through the gaps around the curtains. You guessed it was morning.
You had no idea where you were or how you even got there in the first place but you decided your first step would be getting out of this bed that was notably more comfortable than yours. However, as you tried to sit up, your muscles failed you and your joints betrayed you. Just as you were about to shift your weight to your elbows to balance yourself on the mattress, a terrible pain shot through your arms and you came crashing down immediately. You tried moving your legs but they ached too – your chest especially felt tight as you tried (and failed) to swallow your coughs.
Did I really get beaten up this badly yesterday? you thought. You couldn’t remember much from the day before, only that you had a long day of commissions and that –
“Oh…” you groaned to yourself. Your memory was slowly but surely being restored and you briefly recalled your legs giving out somewhere near Guili Plains. Though you hadn’t been beaten up by anything, you did know that the weather around Liyue lately had been inconsistent and turbulent – one minute it was boiling hot, the next there were gale winds from the anemo archon himself, the next there would be hail stones pouring from the sky – and as you coughed, wheezed and sneezed in the mystery bedroom, you didn’t find it too hard to deduce what had happened. Your temperature was all over the place; under the covers you felt like you were pork on a spit roast but as soon as you shifted out of them you felt like you were on the highest peak of Dragonspine. No, you hadn’t been bested in battle against a stonehide lawachurl, treasure hoarders or a fatui agent, instead, your immune system had been bested by the nationwide menace known as Liyue’s weather. In other words, you were sick; very sick.
But there was no point in laying here alone in the Mystery Bedroom doing nothing. Though it was strenuous and painful, you forced yourself to sit up on the edge of the bed. Your eyes were still hazy and you could feel beads of sweat forming on your forehead. Just as you were about to take the leap of faith and attempt to stand up, you noticed the door creak open in front of you. You lifted your head for your eyes to be met with golden ones staring at you blankly.
Although you were slightly seeing double, it was still difficult to mistake those piercing eyes coupled with the dark green hair and teal coloured highlights. The face of the man before you was definitely one you had seen many times before due to all sorts of emergency commissions you received from Wangshu Inn and his beauty especially was hard to forget. However, you were shocked at the fact that you didn’t have to seek him out and, rather, he came to you.
Whenever you were around the inn, you tended to make almond tofu for him as a way to lure him out and from there the two of you would just spend time together – whether you were talking about anything and everything or simply just enjoying each others presence – and you appreciated how he seemed to ease up around you more and more with each visit.
“So you’re finally awake,” the man muttered as he swiftly made his way over to you.
“Hello Xiao-” you began before being interrupted by the feeling of Xiao’s bare hand on your forehead. You weren't sure if the warmth in your face was caused by the close proximity between you and Xiao or your illness, perhaps it was a bit of both.
Though his facial expression remained fairly stoic, you could still make out the slight concern hidden deep within his eyes.
He hummed quietly before saying, “It appears your temperature has gone down slightly, which is good. You’re steadily recovering from your illness.”
“I’m assuming I’m in Wangshu Inn, then?” you asked after a moment of silence between the two of you.
“Yes. I found you nearby two days ago while I was clearing out monsters.”
Two days? you nearly exclaimed but were cut short as you choked on your words and began spluttering. You couldn’t believe that you had been out for so long but you didn’t have the opportunity to ponder on that fact for much longer as Xiao began lightly pressing down on your shoulder. Though he was gentle, your weak body still gave in under the pressure and you found yourself flat on the mattress again in no time.
The adeptus helped lift your legs onto the bed before muttering, “You still haven’t fully recovered. You should let yourself rest for now. I’ll get you some water to drink.” Xiao now had a more obvious look of worry and perhaps even sadness on his face as he regarded you. For someone whose countenance was usually apathetic or wearing a scowl, this new expression was foreign – you had never seen him look this way, and you definitely hadn’t expected to be the cause of such a look.
You stared at Xiao in silence, slight guilt washing over you before croaking out, “You don’t need to worry about me, Xiao. I’ll be right as rain in no time.” You strained a smile but even that wasn’t enough to convince him.
“I know I don’t need to worry about you but I still do,” the adeptus mumbled more audibly than he would have preferred as he turned away.
You opened your mouth to respond but were cut off again.
“You always worry about me for nothing,” Xiao started. His words sounded similar to his usual chiding, but his tone was far softer than that which he tended to use for scolding. “Even though your life as a human is much more fragile than mine, you try to look after me for some reason... so now it's my turn, I'll take care of you.”
By now, Xiao had reached the door and you could do nothing but stare at his toned back before he spoke his final words while leaving your room.
“I trust that you know to speak my name whenever you are in need of anything. I will be there when you call.”
Scene vs. Summary & When to Use Which
When I was a young writer, I didn't fully understand what a scene was and what a summary was. Later, when I understood the difference, I wasn't always sure when to use which. These days, I occasionally help writers with the same things. They may use summary for what should have been a scene, or they may write a whole scene for what really should have been summary. Understanding the difference and when to use which can be key when writing a successful novel.
Sure, some of it is subjective.
But what might be surprising to some, is that most of the time, one is more . . . "correct" than the other.
A scene is a structural unit that tends to have these qualities:
- Happens in Real Time
A scene will largely happen in real time. This means we "watch" the characters move, act, and talk, as if it were happening in real life.
- Dramatizes (Shows > Tells)
A scene dramatizes. It uses showing more than telling. If a character is angry with a friend, we see that anger in action and conversation. We may witness her yell or kick a rock, for example. It's like watching a stage play.
Because it is dramatized, a scene will usually be more concrete. It will more likely appeal to our senses and the physical world and experience.
- Characters Acting in a Specific Location
A scene will have characters in a location (in some very rare cases, the setting or society may act as characters). They might be talking on a train ride, or exploring a cave, or dueling in the snow.
(Because a full scene often lasts pages, these examples are passages from specific scenes.)
"This won't take long, Andrew," said the doctor.
"It's designed to be removed. Without infection, without damage. But there'll be some tickling, and some people say they have a feeling of something missing. You'll keep looking around for something, something you were looking for, but you can't find it, and you can't remember what it was. So I'll tell you. It's the monitor you're looking for, and it isn't there. In a few days that feeling will pass."
The doctor was twisting something at the back of Ender's head. Suddenly a pain stabbed through him like a needle from his neck to his groin. Ender felt his back spasm, and his body arched violently backward; his head struck the bed. He could feel his legs thrashing, and his hands were clenching each other, wringing each other so tightly that they arched.
"Deedee!" shouted the doctor. "I need you!" The nurse ran in, gasped. "Got to relax these muscles. Get it to me, now! What are you waiting for!"
Something changed hands; Ender could not see. He lurched to one side and fell off the examining table. "Catch him!" cried the nurse.
"Just hold him steady--"
"You hold him, doctor, he's too strong for me--"
"Not the whole thing! You'll stop his heart--"
Ender felt a needle enter his back just above the neck of his shirt. It burned, but wherever in him the fire spread, his muscles gradually un-clenched. Now he could cry for the fear and pain of it.
"Are you all right, Andrew?" the nurse asked.
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Mrs. Reed occupied her usual seat by the fireside; she made a signal to me to approach; I did so, and she introduced me to the stony stranger with the words: “This is the little girl respecting whom I applied to you.”
He, for it was a man, turned his head slowly towards where I stood, and having examined me with the two inquisitive-looking grey eyes which twinkled under a pair of bushy brows, said solemnly, and in a bass voice, “Her size is small: what is her age?”
“So much?” was the doubtful answer; and he prolonged his scrutiny for some minutes. Presently he addressed me—“Your name, little girl?”
“Jane Eyre, sir.”
In uttering these words I looked up: he seemed to me a tall gentleman; but then I was very little; his features were large, and they and all the lines of his frame were equally harsh and prim.
“Well, Jane Eyre, and are you a good child?”
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
A summary has these qualities:
- Condensed Time
Summaries condense time. They may cover a month in a single sentence. They may talk about recurring events over a time period, within one paragraph. They may relay a past event (or in some cases, a future event) within a brief moment. They don't happen in real time.
- Explains through Telling
Since the moment isn't happening in real time, the audience is told more than shown what happened. This gives summary a stronger, guiding, narrative hand. Rather than experiencing the passage like the character, it's more like the audience is being guided by a storyteller (generally speaking).
- More Abstract
For those reasons, telling is more abstract. It's more likely to express ideas and concepts, rather than specific experiences.
- Characters and/or Setting may Change Swiftly (or Maybe Not Even Be Present In Some Cases)
A summary may not focus on a specific character or stay in the same setting. It may move quickly through settings or may not even mention a specific setting.
Mother came home and commiserated with Ender about the monitor. Father came home and kept saying it was such a wonderful surprise, they had such fantastic children that the government told them to have three, and now the government didn't want to take any of them after all, so here they were with three, they still had a Third . . . until Ender wanted to scream at him, I know I'm a Third, I know it, if you want I'll go away so you don't have to be embarrassed in front of everybody. - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh in my bones shrank when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence, more frequently, however, behind her back.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
When to Use Which
Most novels are better written with more scene than summary. Scenes dramatize the story, so that the audience feels like they are experiencing and participating in it. Scenes are more impactful. Scenes are more likely to stir emotions. Because they are more concrete, they are more likely to stick in the reader's memory.
However, this is not to say all novels are better with more scene than summary. You can indeed find successful books with more summary. This can be particularly useful in books with huge casts and many viewpoint characters, books that take place over a long period of time (such as a character's entire life), or books with powerful, present omniscient narrators. Not all books that rely on summary more than scene are bad.
But most books are better told largely through scene than summary.
And pretty much all novels need some of both.
So when do we use which?
Sometimes I edit passages that are weakened because they are summarized instead of dramatized. Other times I read scenes that offer very little dramatic value and should have been summarized.
A good rule of thumb is the more significant the moment, the more likely it needs to be rendered as a scene.
Big turning points and climactic moments should almost always be a scene--whether that turning point relates to character arc, plot, or theme.
This means that the climactic moments of the beginning, middle, and end, should almost always be a scene.
Anything we've been building up to in the primary plotline related to the arc, events, or theme, should probably be a scene.
If you are following a story structure, key moments in that structure should likely be a scene. The inciting incident should likely be a scene, the midpoint should likely be a scene, Plot Point 2 should likely be a scene . . .
Now, in a novel, there may be many plotlines besides the primary. The less important the plotline, the less likely you need all its turning points in scenes (or even on page).
Impactful moments should usually be scenes. If they are summary, sometimes the audience feels cheated. Imagine building up to the climax of a novel, only to have the author summarize it. It's almost always a letdown.
Sometimes newer writers do this sort of thing, because they are intimidated by trying to write the scene. They may feel unsure that they can write it well. Remember, you can edit, and edit, and re-edit the scene to make it better. Daring to write a poor scene and then edit it, will get you further in the long run than avoiding it altogether.
In many genres, you will have what are called "obligatory scenes." These are what they sound like. They need to happen. In a scene.
So in romance, you almost always need to have a first kiss scene. In a murder mystery, you almost always need to have an opening scene where a body is discovered. Obligatory scenes should be scenes, not summary, most of the time.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have summary. If an entire novel were written with scenes, it would probably be long and boring. Not everything is important enough to be a scene. And if you make it a scene, it's a flat scene without any real turning point or change. This kills pacing.
Use summary when the audience needs to know the fact that something happened, but it's not important for them to experience it.
For example, the fact that Jacob didn't get much sleep the prior night probably isn't important enough for a full scene, but it might be important for the audience to know for the next scene. It might influence what happens in the next scene. That is a good time to use summary.
Use summary when you need to cover a broader length of time in a shorter amount of space. For example, you may have characters who need to trek to a distant land, which may take months. But the story isn't about the trek itself. Use summary to tell us about the trek, without making the story only about the trek. (Not to mention if the trek was all in scenes, it'd be overly detailed and likely boring.)
Along the same line, summary can sometimes be great for scene transitions--usually when what happened between the scenes is worth mentioning, but not worth dramatizing.
Summary is also important in providing context for the reader. Summary may be used to set up a situation or to provide additional background information that the reader needs in order to interpret what is happening in the story, accurately.
For example, you may summarize a short backstory to explain a character's current behavior.
Scene vs. Showing; Summary vs. Telling
Scene is mostly like showing, and summary is mostly like telling. However, the concepts are slightly different. For example, I may write in a scene "Emily was tired," which would be "telling" but I wouldn't consider it "summary." Just as I wouldn't necessarily consider "I felt angry" summary, so much as I would consider it to be telling.
Likewise, you may have a scene that is largely introspection, which may be showing a character's thought process as he summarizes events through telling sentences.
Yeah, if we get deep, it turns into splitting hairs.
Even between showing and telling, if you want to make yourself really crazy, sometimes you can use summary and telling on a small scale to show something on a big scale. For example, to show that a character has a habit of being late, you may use summary that includes some telling about his morning routine, to cover several such instances. However, one could easily argue that you could simply do a scene that shows him showing up late, and have another character use dialogue that implies this is a common occurrence.
But let's not induce headaches today! My point is, that the boundaries do blur, and things aren't always as clear cut as we make them sound.
Nonetheless, because summary and telling overlap, you can use many of the same technique that we use to write great telling, to write great summary. And rather than rewrite all those techniques, I have them in my article "10 Cheats to Tell Well."
Mixing Scene and Summary
In order to write a great novel, many scenes will include some summary within them. Like I mentioned above, you may need to slip in some backstory information through summary. Or perhaps in the scene, the characters are having dinner, but you want half the scene to be the cooking and the other half to happen while they are eating. Depending on how long the food takes to make, you may need some summarizing: "Don finished putting the toppings on the pizza and then put it in the oven for 30 minutes."
Similarly, if you are going to have a lengthy passage of summary, it's often effective to include scene-like moments--perhaps a paragraph that captures part of a conversation in real time, before going back to summary. Or maybe the summary includes a significant action that would be rendered better with a little more detail, like a half-scene.
In any case, we want to make sure we are using both scene and summary, and perhaps just as important, that we are using them at the right moments.
Fix You (5)
hybrid!Min Yoongi x female!reader
Summary: When you take in a stray cat, you have no idea he’s secretly a hybrid trying to escape his past. Can you help him heal?
Genre: hurt/comfort, angst, slow burn, fluff
Word Count: 2,987
Warnings (may not appear in every part): minor character is a dick to animals, mentions of a gun, main character injury (non-serious), discussion of physical abuse, emotional abuse, discussion of sexual abuse, discussion of self-harm
Notes: Banner by @birbdae; thanks to @voiceswithoutlips, @taetaesbaebaepsae, and @hoebii for editing this for me.
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Ever since that first night, Yoongi had slept in your bed. It hadn’t changed when you learned he was a hybrid, and it hadn’t changed when you bought a bed to put in his room. When he was masquerading as a cat, he had slowly gotten more cuddly, moving from sleeping curled in a ball near your pillow to sleeping tightly tucked into your side. After he had shifted, he had drifted away from you, but now that he was becoming more comfortable--now that he felt safe--he was starting to unconsciously be cuddly again.
He would fall asleep facing away from you, with enough space between your bodies for a whole other person. Eventually, though, he would roll over and practically pull himself toward you, his arm draped over your waist and his face nuzzled into your neck. The first time he had woken up like that, he had jumped back so far, he had fallen off the bed.
You knew that letting him continue to sleep in your bed was setting yourself up for something to go wrong, but you just couldn’t bring yourself to ask him to leave. If you were honest with yourself, you didn’t mind him being there.
Yoongi had taken to cooking breakfast, despite the fact that he was most certainly not a morning person. He would get up when you did and grumble almost the entire time until he had coffee. Then he would set about making eggs or French toast, or whatever he felt like making that morning.
You would use the time after he had his coffee to tell him the day’s schedule. He worked better with a schedule, you had realized that fairly quickly. It made him less anxious and helped him focus.
“I have a meeting with my cafe clients today,” you told him, scrolling through your calendar on your phone. You liked these clients. They had made your life easier when you were creating their menus, and apparently they had liked working with you enough that they decided to keep you on their payroll for when they needed menu updates and other graphics requests. Which, because they also offered catering, was fairly often.
Yoongi nodded, sliding a thin, multi-layered omelette onto a piece of toast. He covered the egg with another piece of toast and handed the plate to you. “What’s their next project?”
“I don’t know. They’re giving me the details today.” You watched him busy himself with frying a slide of ham. “Yoongi?” He hummed, and after a moment, his copper eyes met yours. “They’re hybrids.”
“I just thought you’d like to know.”
“I appreciate it.” He shot you a wide, toothy smile that caused his eyes to crinkle up at the corners. Behind him, his tail swished casually.
You ate the rest of your breakfast in relative silence, switching over to your news app and every once in a while reading out headlines you thought were amusing or that you thought Yoongi might enjoy.
You made a note on your iPad and let go of the end of the measuring tape. It receded back into the roll held by one of your clients. She regarded you curiously, her fluffy tail giving an inquisitive flick.
“Do you think they can print a banner that long?” the Siamese hybrid, Sage, asked.
“Oh sure.” You chuckled. “They’ll print you a banner however large you want. You’ll pay for it, but they’ll do it.”
“I suppose that’s true.” She offered you a wide smile. “I guess I meant if that size would work in general. Will that be okay for the programs you use?”
“I’ll make it work.”
“Let’s talk menu next?” Sage gestured for you to join her and her partner at a table.
The venue they had purchased for their catering and events space was huge. The inaugural event was going to be a wedding, and the hybrids had asked you to design an elegant banner with their logo to hide their prep station from the rest of the room, as well as design table tents for each table and some other small graphics. It wasn’t necessarily a difficult project, just a lot of work. Luckily, they didn’t need any of it for a few months.
Sage’s partner, Khai--a graceful Bengal cat hybrid with sandy hair--patted the seat beside him at the table. You sat, scooting your chair closer so you could see the laptop he was looking at. Khai was the tech and logistics of the company, and his preparation and forethought had certainly saved you time and headache on your previous project with them.
“I’ll email you all this later,” he said, clicking to the beginning of a folder in his cloud storage.
Khai walked you through all the material he had collected in preparation for the event. He had a copy of the couple’s wedding and reception invitations, hex codes and examples of the specific colors they wanted, dimensions, pretty much anything that could possibly help, and even some stuff that wouldn’t, but he had included just in case. The whole conversation took about 45 minutes.
Then you shifted gears to discuss what they needed for their next client. At some point, Sage sat down on your other side, pulling out her binder of notes. You found yourself sandwiched between the two hybrids, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder as you looked through both of their notes and created your own on your iPad.
The three of you ended up going over needs for four more of their upcoming clients. You had been at the event space for hours. Thankfully, you had told Yoongi not to expect you home for lunch. When you left, they hugged you goodbye.
You walked into your apartment to find Yoongi sitting uncomfortably on the couch, attempting to read a book. You could tell that he hadn’t been there long--the book was barely open, and he was sitting stiffly with it in his lap.
“I’m home,” you greeted, kicking off your shoes.
He grinned at you, practically throwing the book to the side. “I was wondering when you’d be home.”
“Yeah, sorry. They wanted to go over a few projects.” You grabbed your iPad out of your bag and went to put it in your office. As you passed him, you noticed as his ears flattened against his hair. “Something wrong?” you questioned over your shoulder.
You heard him follow you back the hall and into your office. “Why do you smell?”
“You smell,” he repeated, as if it was obvious. “Why?”
“I don’t…” You trailed off, shaking your head in confusion. Then, it hit you. “My clients are hybrids.” You took a step toward him in an attempt to leave your office, but the look on his face stopped you in your tracks. He looked hurt, and a small growl rumbled through his chest. “I warned you about them this morning,” you reminded him. “They’re good people.”
“Why do you smell like them, though?”
“We were sitting at a table together. They hugged me goodbye.” Yoongi’s puffed-up tail flicked back and forth in annoyance. “If I had known it was going to be a problem, I wouldn’t have let them.”
“No, I just… it’s…” He sighed, grabbing at his tail so it would stop thrashing behind him.
“They’re good clients,” you said softly. “If you met them, would you be okay with them?”
“No, that’s not it. I’m sure they’re great. It’s just… you smell different.” His cheeks flushed pink, and he wrung his tail in his hands.
Finally, it clicked. He wasn’t necessarily upset by your clients. He probably didn’t even really care about them, or that they hugged you. He cared that you smelled like them and not him. You weren’t super familiar with the practice, but you knew hybrids were sensitive to that sort of thing.
For a moment, you stood there in silence, watching him. His copper eyes were on his hands. He was clutching his tail, running his fingers through the soft onyx fur soothingly. You could tell he was tense just from how he was standing.
“Yoongi.” His ears swiveled in your direction, but he didn’t look up. You took a tentative step toward him. “I didn’t realize… You’re the first hybrid I’ve really interacted with. I have no idea what I’m doing 80 percent of the time.” You reached out, your hands gently running up and down his upper arms. He relaxed a little at your touch. “If you want, you can… I don’t know. Fix it?”
“What?” His eyes snapped to you, wide and unbelieving.
You shrugged. “Yeah, I mean, if it’s bothering you. I don’t mind.”
Yoongi swallowed thickly, his tail falling out of his grip. “You want me to scent you?”
“If it would make you feel better.”
He stared at you, his ears alternating between pressing against his head and standing straight up as if he was deep in thought. Then, his arms wrapped around your waist, and he was watching you nervously. You offered him a small smile and pulled him close. He stiffened at first, but relaxed almost immediately.
“I… are you sure?” Yoongi whispered, gently nuzzling into your neck. “Seungri said-”
“Seungri can get fucked,” you told him firmly, running your hand up and down his back.
He took a deep breath and gently rubbed his cheek against the skin of your neck. His tail swished happily, and you felt the rumblings of a purr start to stutter in his chest. It was oddly comforting to feel. You had read somewhere that cats’ purrs had positive mental effects on their owners--you supposed it wasn’t far off to assume cat hybrids were similar.
His cheek rubbed against your neck a few more times, and then you felt something rough and wet on the skin just below your ear. You tried not to react. It took a few seconds, but you eventually realized what it was. His tongue was rough, but not nearly as sandpaper-y as a house cat’s, and it felt strange but not unpleasant. You had to resist the urge to pull away because he was your roommate and he was licking you. But you had been around cats long enough to know that sometimes, they just do that, so you stayed still.
Eventually, he stopped, his arms tightening around you slightly. He nuzzled back into your neck and you felt him take a deep breath. His purring got louder.
“Better?” you asked, pulling away slightly.
Yoongi’s pupils were blown wide, his tail swaying happily behind him. He nodded, a slight blush spreading across his cheeks. “I’m sorry. That was probably weird, right?”
You shook your head, chuckling slightly. “No weirder than realizing your cat is actually a person.” You smiled, bringing a hand up to cup his cheek. “Seriously, though. It’s fine. If you ever need something, y’know, instinctually, just ask.”
Copper eyes darted around your face, though what he was looking for, you weren’t sure. After a second he nodded. “I’ll try.” He offered you a thin-lipped smile.
When he didn’t let go, you frowned, running your thumb across his cheek bone. “Something wrong?”
“No, I…” He sighed. “Just… thanks. I’ve never done that before. I wasn’t allowed.”
“Seungri can get fucked,” you said again, pulling him in for a hug. His arms wrapped around you tightly as he tucked his chin over your shoulder. He hadn’t stopped purring.
You weren’t sure you would ever have the misfortune of meeting Yoongi’s former owner, but part of you--a large part--hoped that you would. You wanted the chance to meet the man who had treated Yoongi so terribly. There were a few things you wanted to tell him.
As always, your feedback is appreciated. Feel free to pop into my ask box with questions or thoughts about the series. I’d love to hear from you!
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From Chuck E. Cheese to Jasper T. Jowls, from the Awesome Adventure Machine to Ronnie the Unicorn, from Showbiz Pizza Place to Concept Unification, animatronic enthusiasts have questioned one thing! Allow me, dear readers, to introduce you to an old friend of mine:
I know what you’re thinking.
“Who the hell is this kid?” “Why should I care?” “Did he really deserve to show up in a model sheet that otherwise exclusively showcases Munch’s Make-Believe Band?”
Charlie Rockit is an obscure character introduced with Concept Unification, comparable to Pizzacam in many aspects. He’s cool! He’s fresh! He’s a little dude with an attitude! And he’s got a puppet that looks like THIS:
Charlie showed up in many of the Tux showtapes. Usually they’d just assume the audience already knew him. Most of the time he would just appear, play a guitar solo, make a mediocre quip, and leave. He was supposed to be a “cool dude”, hence the name Rockit. He’s punk rock! He listens to Green Day! Charlie never got to a point of merchandise or anything, but CEC seemed to be banking on this character! His model sheet went mostly unused, but it was still implemented. There was this little guy, who’s a lot less scary than his typical puppet and uses the cute model sheet design:
Look at him! So sweet!! A puppet from about 1994. I’d consider this a redesign of sorts. He sure needed it…
As to be expected with something out of Concept Unification, the company sorta got bored with Charlie. He was tossed aside with Munch Jr., Pizzacam, and the hopes and dreams of Aaron Fechter. At least the demise of those other characters were memorable. Poor Charlie never got a reference in-store. No matter, CEC was onto bigger and better things! The Awesome Adventure Machine was the next big idea! Chuck didn’t need a little boy to make his shows cool. Chuck WAS cool.
…And then Chuck E. Cheese in the Galaxy 5000 released in 1999. Unfortunately for everyone, this seems to be Charlie’s most notable appearance:
LIVE ACTION HUMAN CHILD.
Look, I know all the CEC humans (and by “all” I mean Pasqually) in this movie were face actors, but dress the boy up a little!!! Put him in a green t shirt or something, I don’t know!
Charlie was a major plot point in Galaxy 5000. I don’t really consider this an appearance, as he was played straight as some random human child with none of his original personality, but I would be remiss not to mention him. Charlie is in the movie for about two scenes. Not ONCE does he play electric guitar or make a mediocre quip!! NOT ONCE!!!
Charlie occasionally makes small cameos in the Rockstar era. Fitting, huh? This is the extent of interesting information about him, but I think he’s a neat little guy. Never forget his…sweet…little smile 😬
With the Witcher and Wheel of Time and LOTR getting tv shows, HOW have Brandon Sanderson’s books not been picked up as the next big money card for all these tv networks?
Watching the Wheel of Time and the Witcher made me realise a) how good fantasy tv shows are when they’ve got a budget behind them b) how much people like them even when they’re full of faults and c) that these shows are really trying to market themselves as “something different” while struggling to find their own identity and playing on existing popular tropes.
Wheel of Time is trying to be Lord of the Rings (which it’s very similar to and heavily based on) while throwing in themes stolen directly from Game of Thrones - the court politics, the complex characters with differing motivations, the violence and gore). Sure it does some fun thing with fantasy film tropes. I love the care and attention it pays to details of the lives of regular folk, I think the music was evocative and they did some amazing thing with set pieces and cgi backgrounds, even if the cgi wasn’t always perfect. I get what they were going for and I dig it. But it feels like a mishmash of existing fantasy media (which the books honestly sort of were, and what fantasy as a genre sort of is).
The Witcher leaned heavily into grim-dark production design. And it does do things that are more unique to it’s ip, but also, it’s an adaption of an adaption. It’s based on content from an already visual medium. Adapting it to long form is exciting, but they had less to play with, and the genre they made it fit into was… well, itself. That said, I think it used a lot of devices of older fantasy tv series adaptions, like Legend of the Seeker, while at the same time doing a good job of modernising it.
But it’s still pretty traditional and nothing outstanding. The biggest and best things of all these series by far is their budget. To be the next game of thrones or stranger things, you need more than that. You need to be the right idea at the right time, but you also need to forge an identity. Witcher already had one. Wheel of Time will ride the coattails of former beloved franchises.
But Mistborn and Stormlight Archive have so much potential. They have a huge, almost mainstream fanbase. They are capable of creating very strong visual elements - landscapes and settings, magic vfx design, character and creature design. The mystery-box style narrative is great for hooking an audience. It needs a huge budget to pull it off, but that’s the one guarantee for these series - the network is throwing massive amounts of money at it for it to pull in viewers.
They’re not even that difficult to adapt to film, scriptwise. Certainly easier than wheel of time with its meandering plots and heavy internal narration (look at how much they had to change Perrin because of it!)
Idk maybe it’s just because I want more fantasy tv series, especially series like Mistborn. But it seems like a no-brainer.
asking him how to confess to your crush (him)
characters: c!technoblade, c!dream; [x gn! reader]
warnings/content: fluff, probably second hand embarrassment, some swearing in dream’s part (because tommy lol)
authors note: i saw headcanons similar to this, but instead of haikyuu characters, i did mcyt!!!! i hope you enjoy! if a part two is requested, please give me characters to write about! <3
if the cc is uncomfortable by me writing and posting this, i will take it down with no question. thank you.
he was just chilling in the kitchen, sitting down at his dinner table reading a book while making soup for you and him.
you guys met when you were badly injured on his doorstep, and him being retired from anarchy, he let you in to help you. you didn’t remember what happened to you, you just remember crawling up his stairs and passing out in front of his door.
turns out you had a broken leg, terrible bruises spotted over your entire body, and some scratches here and there.
you stumbled in the dining room, sitting next to the man. he wasn’t wearing his cloak, just his button up shirt (his sleeves were pulled up), and trousers. his hair wasn’t pulled up, resting onto his shoulders and almost reaching to the floor.
you’ve always thought he was nice to look at; he was very well kept, his hair always silky-looking (you weren’t allowed to touch his hair), his face in a relaxed manner 24/7. the more you knew the pig, you started to develop feelings.
you watched as he pushed a strand of hair behind his ear, sighing loudly. you would totally braid his hair for him, but you were always too scared to ask. he turned to the next page, and as he looked to the left, he saw you staring at him. clear glasses were set on the bridge of his nose, but he took them off right when he looked at you.
“ah- hello.” he says, getting up out of his chair to check on the soup. you nod your head at him as a hey, as you thought of something to say to him. you turned to where he was, looking up at the tall piglin.
“hey techno?” he hums in response, stirring the pot of soup with a wooden spoon, “could you give me some advice?” he stops stirring, looks over at you, and nods. you couldn’t stop yourself from what you said next;
“how do you confess to your crush?” you say, looking down at your intertwined hands on the table.
he surely wasn’t expecting that. “um, i’m not sure, i-i’d ne- i’d never really had feelin’s for anyone before.”
that was a lie; he had feelings for you (his first, though). he thought you were kind. you treated him like a human, unlike everyone else he’d met. (besides phil, of course.)
speaking of phil; he tried to make techno say his feelings, because phil was fed up on (his words) “there’s so much tension between the two of you, the way you look at them is unbelievable.”
“oh,” you mumbled, your face heating up at the awkward tension you’d just caused. until techno spoke up again, “maybe ask tommy?” techno stops, but soon continues. “wait no, don’t do that, that’s a terrible idea,” he shook his head, why did he think of that? telling you to ask about ‘how to confess to your crush’ to a not matured yet 16 year old. plus, he’d just make fun of you. probably. that was a stupid way to tell your feelings, y/n. so instead you did it the up forward way.
you watched as technoblade again turned his attention back to the soup, adding some spices to the liquid. you cleared your throat loudly, causing techno to look at you with an eyebrow raised.
“you need somethin’?” he asked, his eyes still caught on you. “i like you, not as a friend, as something more.” you squeak out quickly, causing his pale pink face to erupt in red.
techno clicked his tongue, nodding his head. he didn’t know what to say, what was he supposed to say?
you felt more uncomfortable in this conversation than the last. “um, sorry, you probably don’t like me back. christ, just forget i said anything.” you said, standing up quickly.
everything went so fast; all you saw was techno’s hair flowing behind him, the clack of his shoes, and soon enough, he placed his lips against yours. once it came, it was gone. he leaned away from your face, feeling one of his ears twitch. “i like you too, if you couldn’t tell, from what i uh, just did.” he turned away from you, and went back to the kitchen.
you met through tommy, since you visited him frequently when he was exiled. (sibling love type of beat) you heard a lot about the mask wearing man, half good things, half bad.
that day when you meant dream, it was rainy. you saw tommy under his tent, talking to a man in a green sweatshirt.
the mysterious man’s hood was up, and you could see some of his wet blonde hair, sticking onto his forehead. there was some sort of mask on the side of his head; a simple design. there was a vertical scar above his lips, and on his left eye.
once you talked to dream, you soon grown close with one another.
and even later into the friendship, you developed feelings for dream.
it was months after you realized you had feelings for dream, and tommy told you to just confess already. he thought you talking about dream was weird; speaking about him in such a highly way.
“just fucking do it, it’s not that hard. the worst thing that’ll happen is that he’ll reject you. plus, if he does, i’ll beat his ass.” tommy explains, a prideful look in his eyes. his eyes were shining with such emotion, you rose an eyebrow.
such words coming from you, tommy, you thought.
“that’s just the reason. i don’t want to ruin our relationship.” you say, looking down at your shoes. you could practically hear the eye rolling coming from tommy, “again,” he starts, “because you didn’t hear me the first time, i’ll beat his ass.” he pats your shoulder, and continues on what he was doing.
days later, when you walked towards tommy’s tent, dream was sitting next to the teen’s tent, leaning against a tree. his mask was on the ground next to him, and his eyes were closed.
tommy was no where to be seen.
you smiled softly, admiring the scene in front of you. he looked peaceful. you walked closer to him, and sat in front of him.
he opened his eyes at the sound of walking, startled by your sudden presence. you waved at him before speaking, “hi there.”
you watched as his lips stuttered upward, then falling back down into a thin line. “hello, y/n,” he cleared his throat, “tommy went to get more food, if you were woundering.” he says, running a hand through his hair.
you tilted your head. you thought he had plenty of food?
“why are you still here?” you questioned. he usually left when tommy was doing his own thing. dream shrugged, “was tired.” he slurred sleepily. he closed his eyes again when you didn’t say anything back, giving a nice silence between the two of you.
you thought about confessing to the green hooded man, but the more you thought about it, the more you got nervous. then, you had an idea. maybe instead of confessing, maybe ask about confessing?
“hey, dream, do you know how to confess to your crush?” you murmur, but loud enough for the man in front of you to hear.
his eyes shot open immediately and raised his eyebrows at you. he sits up straight, his fingerless glove clad hands cradled into his lap. his lips slide up into a smirk, “what? crush? what are we in? middle school?” he chuckles, trying to tease you, trying to change the subject quickly.
because, he, dream, had an eye on you for a while now.
he’d never call it a crush.
deep down inside him, he felt his heart twist with jealousy. who would you have a crush on?
“uh, yeah, it’s a normal human feeling.” you quip back, crossing your arms. jesus, was he trying to kill you with embarrassment? the look in his eyes made you wish the ground could swallow you, so you could just leave the situation. you should’ve just kept your mouth shut.
dream hums in amusement, his smirk turning into a thin line, regaining his composure. he sees your face has fallen, your attention onto the grass under you. “oh, damn, you’re serious.” he laughs nervously, leaning his head back onto the tree behind him.
“tell me who your crush is, so i can help you properly.” dream says after a yawn. it’s like he was bored.
i thought was obvious you idiot, you thought.
you heard him chuckle under his breath, “oh? what do you mean?” he teases, which triggers your head to shoot upwards, glancing at his face.
you said that out loud? shit.
there was a slight pink hue on his freckled covered face, his eyes still shut. outside, dream was a cocky bastard. on the inside, his heart was beating fast, and he felt himself sweating.
you decided to fight back once more, “yeah, i like you, you dumbass!” you almost yell. his eyes open again, but more calm. he sets his forearms on his thighs, staring at you.
you cover your mouth right away. you could feel your face turn red as you close your eyes tightly, embracing yourself for a rejection.
you didn’t see it, but a smirk proudly stands on his lips, loving the shade of red on your cheeks.
“i like you too, yknow.”
Having some thoughts about the references and inspirations used for the Bad Batch’s designs.
So Boba Fett is my absolute favorite character and Temeura Morrison was perfect casting. I went to see the 2008 TCW movie in theaters because I was so excited to see him again, even if he was animated. You can imagine my disappointment. Whoever was on screen was not Temeura Morrison. You could sort of see a resemblance if you squinted and didn’t think too hard about it. They replaced Temeura with Racially Ambiguous G.I. Joe. If I didn’t know better and someone told me the animated clones are space Italians from the moon of New Jersey I would buy it. One Million Brothers Pizzeria and Italian Bistro. Not that there’s something wrong with being space Italian, I just don’t think it’s the right choice for the Fetts. The design got slightly improved by season 7 but it still bugs the hell out of me.
I did eventually get into the show later and (of course) got invested in the clones. Unfortunately, they were largely sidelined by the Jedi storylines. Out of the two new main characters created for TCW, Ahsoka definitely got more development and focus than Rex. When they announced The Bad Batch, I was excited to see a show specifically devoted to the clones… at least that’s what it said on the tin. We have all seen what lurks beneath those stylish helmets.
Jango Fett, you are NOT the father.
So who is?
Based on interviews with Filoni, it sounds like the Bad Batch was a George Lucas idea. And like all his ideas, it’s super derivative. The original trilogy directly lifted elements from sci fi serials, westerns, and samurai movies, more specifically Kurosawa films like The Hidden Fortress. For The Bad Batch character designs, the influence is obviously American action and adventure movies.
Now let’s get specific. Bad Batch, who’s your daddy?
Sylvester Stallone as Rambo in First Blood 1982. That bandana has become an integral part of the iconic action hero look. You see a character wearing one and it’s a visual shorthand for either “this character is a tough guy” like Billy played by Sonny Landham in Predator 1987, or “this character thinks he is/wants to be a tough guy” like Brand played by Josh Brolin in The Goonies 1985 or Edward Frog played by Corey Feldman in The Lost Boys 1987.
Hunter’s model is closest to the original clone base. If you look closely you will see the eyebrows are straighter with a much lower angle to the arch. His nose is also not the same shape as a standard clone like Rex, including a narrower bridge. It’s certainly not Temeura Morrison’s nose. Remember what I said about space Italians? It didn’t take much to push the existing clone design to resemble an specific Italian man instead of a specific Māori man. The 23&Me came back, and Hunter inherited more than the bandana from Sylvester.
The long narrow nose, the sharp cheekbones, the scowl. That’s no clone, that’s just animated Clint Eastwood. Not even Young and Hot Clint Eastwood from Rawhide 1959-1965. With that hair, I’m talking Gran Torino 2008. The man of few words schtick and family friendly toothpick in lieu of cigar are pure Eastwood as The Man With No Name from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns A Fist Full of Dollars 1964, For a Few Dollars More 1965, and The Good the Bad and the Ugly 1966.
In a way, this is full circle because the actor Jeremy Bulloch took inspiration from Clint Eastwood for his performance as Boba Fett in ESB.
In an interview Filoni lists the Hulk as an (obvious) inspiration for Wrecker. Ever seen the old Hulk tv show from 1978? Well take a look at the actor who played him, Lou Ferrigno. Would you look at that. Even has his papa’s nose.
You could make the argument that Wrecker was influenced by The Rock, an appropriately buff ‘n bald Polynesian (Samoan, not Maori) man. But look at him next his Fast and Furious costar Vin Diesel and tell me which one resembles Wrecker’s character model more.
Tech is a little trickier for me to place. If he has a more direct inspiration it must be something I haven’t seen. That said, his hairline is very Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard 1988. His quippiness and large glasses remind me of Shane Black as Hawkins from Predator 1987. In terms of his face, he looks a but like the result of McClane and Hawkins deciding to settle down and start a family. Although, Tech’s biggest contributors are probably just everyone on TV Trope’s list for Smart People Wear Glasses.
Oh Echo. Considering he wasn’t created for the Bad Batch, he probably wasn’t based on a particular character or movie. But if I had to guess, his situation and appearance remind me a lot of Alex Murphy played by Peter Weller in Robocop 1987. However, Robocop explored the Man or Machine Identity Crisis with more nuance, depth, and dignity. Yikes.
The exact tropes and references used in The Bad Batch have been done successfully with characters who aren’t even human. Gizmo from Gremlins 2: The New Batch 1990 had a brief stint with the Rambo bandana. I could have picked any number of characters for Defining Feature Is Glasses but here is the most cursed version of Simon of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Suffer as I have. Marc Antony with his beloved Pussyfoot from Looney Tunes has the same tough guy with a soft center vibe as Wrecker and his Lula (also a kind of cat). Hell, in the same show we have Cad Bane sharing Cowboy Clint Eastwood with Crosshair. I actually think Bane makes a better Eastwood which is wild considering Crosshair has Eastwood’s entire face and Bane is blue.
So we’ve established you don’t need your characters to look exactly like their inspirations to match their vibe. So why go through the trouble and cost of creating completely new character designs instead of recycling and altering assets they already had on hand? Just slap on a bandana, toothpick, goggles, and make Wrecker bigger than the others while he does a Hulk pose and you’re done. Based on the general reaction to Howzer it would have been a low effort slam dunk crowd pleaser.
But they didn’t do that.
So here’s the thing. I like the tropes used in The Bad Batch. I am a fan of action adventure movies from the 80s-90s, the sillier the better. I am part of the Bad Batch’s target audience. Considering what I know about Disney and Lucasfilm, I went in with low expectations. I genuinely don’t hate the idea of seeing references to these actors and media in The Bad Batch. I don’t think basing these characters on tropes was a bad idea. If anything it’s a solid starting point for building the characters.
The trouble is nothing got built on the foundation. The plot is directionless, the pacing is wacky, and the characters have nearly no emotional depth or defining character arcs. They just sort of exist without reacting much while the story happens around them. But I can excuse all of that. You don’t stay a fan of Star Wars as long as I have not being able to cherrypick and fill in the gaps. This show has a deeper issue that shouldn’t be ignored.
Why do the animated clones bear at best only a passing resemblance to their live action actor? In interviews, Filoni wouldn’t shut up but the technological advancements in the animation for season 7. So if they are updating things, why not try to make the clones a closer match to their source material? Why did they have to look like completely different people in The Bad Batch to be “unique”? Looking like Temeura Morrison would have no bearing on their special abilities and TCW proved you can have identical looking characters and still have them be distinct. In fact, that’s a powerful theme and the source of tragedy for the clones’ narrative overall.
Here’s Filoni’s early concept art of Crosshair, Wrecker, Tech, and Hunter. (Interesting but irrelevant: Wrecker seems to have a cog tattoo similar to Jesse’s instead of a scar. Wouldn’t it have been funny if they kept that so when they met in season 7 one if them could say something like “Hey we’re twins!” That’s a little clone humor. Just for you guys 😘)
None of these drawings look like the clones in TCW, much less Temeura Morrison. Let’s be generous. Maybe Filoni struggles with drawing a real person’s likeness, as many people do. But he had to hand this off to other artists down the line whose job specifically involves making a stylized character resemble their actor. Yet the final designs missed the mark almost as much as this initial concept. Starting to seem as if the clones looking more like Temeura Morrison was never even on the table. It wasn’t a lack of creativity, skill or technical limitations on the part of the creative team. I don’t think there is an innocent explanation. They went out of their way to make the final product exactly how we got it.
This goes beyond homage. They could have made the same pop culture references and character tropes without completely stripping Temeura Morrison from the role he originated. It was a very purposeful choice to replace him with more immediately familiar actors from established franchises and films. It wouldn’t shock me if Filoni, Lucas, and anyone else calling the shots didn’t even think hard or care enough about the decision to immediately recognize a problem. And I don’t think they believed anyone else would either. At least no one whose opinion they cared about. Those faces are comfortingly familiar and proven bankable. They are what we’re all used to seeing after all. They’re white.
Lack of imagination, bad intentions, or simple ignorance doesn’t really matter in the end. The result is the same. Call it what it is. They replaced a man of color with a bunch of white guys. That’s by the book garden variety run of the mill whitewashing. There’s no debate worth having about it. For a fanbase that loves to nitpick things like whether or not it’s in character for Han to shoot first or Jeans Guy in the Mandalorian, we sure are quick to find excuses for clones who look nothing like their template. Why is that? If you don’t see the problem, congratulations. Your ass is showing. Pull your jeans up.
Musicians On Musicians: Paul McCartney & Taylor Swift
By: Patrick Doyle for Rolling Stone
Date: November 13th 2020
On songwriting secrets, making albums at home, and what they’ve learned during the pandemic.
Taylor Swift arrived early to Paul McCartney’s London office in October, “mask on, brimming with excitement.” “I mostly work from home these days,” she writes about that day, “and today feels like a rare school field trip that you actually want to go on.”
Swift showed up without a team, doing her own hair and makeup. In addition to being two of the most famous pop songwriters in the world, Swift and McCartney have spent the past year on similar journeys. McCartney, isolated at home in the U.K., recorded McCartney III. Like his first solo album, in 1970, he played nearly all of the instruments himself, resulting in some of his most wildly ambitious songs in a long time. Swift also took some new chances, writing over email with the National’s Aaron Dessner and recording the raw Folklore, which abandons arena pop entirely in favor of rich character songs. It’s the bestselling album of 2020.
Swift listened to McCartney III as she prepared for today’s conversation; McCartney delved into Folkore. Before the photo shoot, Swift caught up with his daughters Mary (who would be photographing them) and Stella (who designed Swift’s clothes; the two are close friends). “I’ve met Paul a few times, mostly onstage at parties, but we’ll get to that later,” Swift writes. “Soon he walks in with his wife, Nancy. They’re a sunny and playful pair, and I immediately feel like this will be a good day. During the shoot, Paul dances and takes almost none of it too seriously and sings along to Motown songs playing from the speakers. A few times Mary scolds, ‘Daaad, try to stand still!’ And it feels like a window into a pretty awesome family dynamic. We walk into his office for a chat, and after I make a nervous request, Paul is kind enough to handwrite my favorite lyric of his and sign it. He makes a joke about me selling it, and I laugh because it’s something I know I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. That’s around the time when we start talking about music.”
Taylor Swift: I think it’s important to note that if this year had gone the way that we thought it was going to go, you and I would have played Glastonbury this year, and instead, you and I both made albums in isolation.
Paul McCartney: Yeah!
Swift: And I remember thinking it would have been so much fun because the times that I’ve run into you, I correlate with being some of the most fun nights of my life. I was at a party with you, when everybody just started playing music. And it was Dave Grohl playing, and you...
McCartney: You were playing one of his songs, weren’t you?
Swift: Yes, I was playing his song called “Best of You,” but I was playing it on piano, and he didn’t recognize it until about halfway through. I just remember thinking, “Are you the catalyst for the most fun times ever?” Is it your willingness to get up and play music that makes everyone feel like this is a thing that can happen tonight?
McCartney: I mean, I think it’s a bit of everything, isn’t it? I’ll tell you who was very... Reese Witherspoon was like, “Are you going to sing?” I said “Oh, I don’t know.” She said, “You’ve got to, yeah!” She’s bossing me around. So I said, “Whoa,” so it’s a bit of that.
Swift: I love that person, because the party does not turn musical without that person.
McCartney: Yeah, that’s true.
Swift: If nobody says, “Can you guys play music?” we’re not going to invite ourselves up onstage at whatever living-room party it is.
McCartney: I seem to remember Woody Harrelson got on the piano, and he starts playing “Let It Be,” and I’m thinking, “I can do that better.” So I said, “Come on, move over, Woody.” So we’re both playing it. It was really nice... I love people like Dan Aykroyd, who’s just full of energy and he loves his music so much, but he’s not necessarily a musician, but he just wanders around the room, just saying, “You got to get up, got to get up, do some stuff.”
Swift: I listened to your new record. And I loved a lot of things about it, but it really did feel like kind of a flex to write, produce, and play every instrument on every track. To me, that’s like flexing a muscle and saying, “I can do all this on my own if I have to.”
McCartney: Well, I don’t think like that, I must admit. I just picked up some of these instruments over the years. We had a piano at home that my dad played, so I picked around on that. I wrote the melody to “When I’m 64” when I was, you know, a teenager.
McCartney: When the Beatles went to Hamburg, there were always drum kits knocking around, so when there was a quiet moment, I’d say, “Do you mind if I have a knock around?” So I was able to practice, you know, without practicing. That’s why I play right-handed. Guitar was just the first instrument I got. Guitar turned to bass; it also turned into ukulele, mandolin. Suddenly, it’s like, “Wow,” but it’s really only two or three instruments.
Swift: Well, I think that’s downplaying it a little bit. In my mind, it came with a visual of you being in the country, kind of absorbing the sort of do-it-yourself [quality] that has had to come with the quarantine and this pandemic. I found that I’ve adapted a do-it-yourself mentality to a lot of things in my career that I used to outsource. I’m just wondering what a day of recording in the pandemic looked like for you.
McCartney: Well, I’m very lucky because I have a studio that’s, like, 20 minutes away from where I live. We were in lockdown on a farm, a sheep farm with my daughter Mary and her four kids and her husband. So I had four of my grandkids, I had Mary, who’s a great cook, so I would just drive myself to the studio. And there were two other guys that could come in and we’d be very careful and distanced and everything: my engineer Steve, and then my equipment guy Keith. So the three of us made the record, and I just started off. I had to do a little bit of film music - I had to do an instrumental for a film thing - so I did that. And I just kept going, and that turned into the opening track on the album. I would just come in, say, “Oh, yeah, what are we gonna do?” [Then] have some sort of idea, and start doing it. Normally, I’d start with the instrument I wrote it on, either piano or guitar, and then probably add some drums and then a bit of bass till it started to sound like a record, and then just gradually layer it all up. It was fun.
Swift: That’s so cool.
McCartney: What about yours? You’re playing guitar and piano on yours.
Swift: Yeah, on some of it, but a lot of it was made with Aaron Dessner, who’s in a band called the National that I really love. And I had met him at a concert a year before, and I had a conversation with him, asking him how he writes. It’s my favorite thing to ask people who I’m a fan of. And he had an interesting answer. He said, “All the band members live in different parts of the world. So I make tracks. And I send them to our lead singer, Matt, and he writes the top line.” I just remember thinking, “That is really efficient.” And I kind of stored it in my brain as a future idea for a project. You know, how you have these ideas... “Maybe one day I’ll do this.” I always had in my head: “Maybe one day I’ll work with Aaron Dessner.”
So when lockdown happened, I was in L.A., and we kind of got stuck there. It’s not a terrible place to be stuck. We were there for four months maybe, and during that time, I sent an email to Aaron Dessner and I said, “Do you think you would want to work during this time? Because my brain is all scrambled, and I need to make something, even if we’re just kind of making songs that we don’t know what will happen...”
McCartney: Yeah, that was the thing. You could do stuff - you didn’t really worry it was going to turn into anything.
Swift: Yeah, and it turned out he had been writing instrumental tracks to keep from absolutely going crazy during the pandemic as well, so he sends me this file of probably 30 instrumentals, and the first one I opened ended up being a song called “Cardigan,” and it really happened rapid-fire like that. He’d send me a track; he’d make new tracks, add to the folder; I would write the entire top line for a song, and he wouldn’t know what the song would be about, what it was going to be called, where I was going to put the chorus. I had originally thought, “Maybe I’ll make an album in the next year, and put it out in January or something,” but it ended up being done and we put it out in July. And I just thought there are no rules anymore, because I used to put all these parameters on myself, like, “How will this song sound in a stadium? How will this song sound on radio?” If you take away all the parameters, what do you make? And I guess the answer is Folklore.
McCartney: And it’s more music for yourself than music that’s got to go do a job. My thing was similar to that: After having done this little bit of film music, I had a lot of stuff that I had been working on, but I’d said, “I’m just going home now,” and it’d be left half-finished. So I just started saying, “Well, what about that? I never finished that.” So we’d pull it out, and we said, “Oh, well, this could be good.” And because it didn’t have to amount to anything, I would say, “Ah, I really want to do tape loops. I don’t care if they fit on this song, I just want to do some.” So I go and make some tape loops, and put them in the song, just really trying to do stuff that I fancy.
I had no idea it would end up as an album; I may have been a bit less indulgent, but if a track was eight minutes long, to tell you the truth, what I thought was, “I’ll be taking it home tonight, Mary will be cooking, the grandkids will all be there running around, and someone, maybe Simon, Mary’s husband, is going to say, ‘What did you do today?’ And I’m going to go, ‘Oh,’ and then get my phone and play it for them.” So this became the ritual.
Swift: That’s the coziest thing I’ve ever heard.
McCartney: Well, it’s like eight minutes long, and I said, “I hate it when I’m playing someone something and it finishes after three minutes.” I kind of like that it just [continues] on.
Swift: You want to stay in the zone.
McCartney: It just keeps going on. I would just come home, “Well, what did you do today?” “Oh, well, I did this. I’m halfway through this,” or, “We finished this.”
Swift: I was wondering about the numerology element to McCartney III. McCartney I, II, and III have all come out on years with zeroes.
McCartney: Ends of decades.
Swift: Was that important?
McCartney: Yeah, well, this was being done in 2020, and I didn’t really think about it. I think everyone expected great things of 2020. “It’s gonna be great! Look at that number! 2020! Auspicious!” Then suddenly Covid hit, and it was like, “That’s gonna be auspicious all right, but maybe for the wrong reasons.” Someone said to me, “Well, you put out McCartney right after the Beatles broke up, and that was 1970, and then you did McCartney II in 1980.” And I said, “Oh, I’m going to release this in 2020 just for whatever you call it, the numerology...”
Swift: The numerology, the kind of look, the symbolism. I love numbers. Numbers kind of rule my whole world. The numbers 13... 89 is a big one. I have a few others that I find...
McCartney: Thirteen is lucky for some.
Swift: Yeah, it’s lucky for me. It’s my birthday. It’s all these weird coincidences of good things that have happened. Now, when I see it places, I look at it as a sign that things are going the way they’re supposed to. They may not be good now, they could be painful now, but things are on a track. I don’t know, I love the numerology.
McCartney: It’s spooky, Taylor. It’s very spooky. Now wait a minute: Where’d you get 89?
Swift: That’s when I was born, in 1989, and so I see it in different places and I just think it’s...
McCartney: No, it’s good. I like that, where certain things you attach yourself to, and you get a good feeling off them. I think that’s great.
Swift: Yeah, one of my favorite artists, Bon Iver, he has this thing with the number 22. But I was also wondering: You have always kind of seeked out a band or a communal atmosphere with like, you know, the Beatles and Wings, and then Egypt Station. I thought it was interesting when I realized you had made a record with no one else. I just wondered, did that feel natural?
McCartney: It’s one of the things I’ve done. Like with McCartney, because the Beatles had broken up, there was no alternative but to get a drum kit at home, get a guitar, get an amp, get a bass, and just make something for myself. So on that album, which I didn’t really expect to do very well, I don’t think it did. But people sort of say, “I like that. It was a very casual album.” It didn’t really have to mean anything. So I’ve done that, the play-everything-myself thing. And then I discovered synths and stuff, and sequencers, so I had a few of those at home. I just thought I’m going to play around with this and record it, so that became McCartney II. But it’s a thing I do. Certain people can do it. Stevie Wonder can do it. Stevie Winwood, I believe, has done it. So there are certain people quite like that.
When you’re working with someone else, you have to worry about their variances. Whereas your own variance, you kind of know it. It’s just something I’ve grown to like. Once you can do it, it becomes a little bit addictive. I actually made some records under the name the Fireman.
Swift: Love a pseudonym.
McCartney: Yeah, for the fun! But, you know, let’s face it, you crave fame and attention when you’re young. And I just remembered the other day, I was the guy in the Beatles that would write to journalists and say [speaks in a formal voice]: “We are a semiprofessional rock combo, and I’d think you’d like [us]... We’ve written over 100 songs (which was a lie), my friend John and I. If you mention us in your newspaper...” You know, I was always, like, craving the attention.
Swift: The hustle! That’s so great, though.
McCartney: Well, yeah, you need that.
Swift: Yeah, I think, when a pseudonym comes in is when you still have a love for making the work and you don’t want the work to become overshadowed by this thing that’s been built around you, based on what people know about you. And that’s when it’s really fun to create fake names and write under them.
McCartney: Do you ever do that?
Swift: Oh, yeah.
McCartney: Oh, yeah? Oh, well, we didn’t know that! Is that a widely known fact?
Swift: I think it is now, but it wasn’t. I wrote under the name Nils Sjöberg because those are two of the most popular names of Swedish males. I wrote this song called “This Is What You Came For” that Rihanna ended up singing. And nobody knew for a while. I remembered always hearing that when Prince wrote “Manic Monday,” they didn’t reveal it for a couple of months.
McCartney: Yeah, it also proves you can do something without the fame tag. I did something for Peter and Gordon; my girlfriend’s brother and his mate were in a band called Peter and Gordon. And I used to write under the name Bernard Webb.
Swift: [Laughs.] That’s a good one! I love it.
McCartney: As Americans call it, Ber-nard Webb. I did the Fireman thing. I worked with a producer, a guy called Youth, who’s this real cool dude. We got along great. He did a mix for me early on, and we got friendly. I would just go into the studio, and he would say, “Hey, what about this groove?” and he’d just made me have a little groove going. He’d say, “You ought to put some bass on it. Put some drums on it.” I’d just spend the whole day putting stuff on it. And we’d make these tracks, and nobody knew who Fireman was for a while. We must have sold all of 15 copies.
Swift: Thrilling, absolutely thrilling.
McCartney: And we didn’t mind, you know?
Swift: I think it’s so cool that you do projects that are just for you. Because I went with my family to see you in concert in 2010 or 2011, and the thing I took away from the show most was that it was the most selfless set list I had ever seen. It was completely geared toward what it would thrill us to hear. It had new stuff, but it had every hit we wanted to hear, every song we’d ever cried to, every song people had gotten married to, or been brokenhearted to. And I just remembered thinking, “I’ve got to remember that,” that you do that set list for your fans.
McCartney: You do that, do you?
Swift: I do now. I think that learning that lesson from you taught me at a really important stage in my career that if people want to hear “Love Story” and “Shake It Off,” and I’ve played them 300 million times, play them the 300-millionth-and-first time. I think there are times to be selfish in your career, and times to be selfless, and sometimes they line up.
McCartney: I always remembered going to concerts as a kid, completely before the Beatles, and I really hoped they would play the ones I loved. And if they didn’t, it was kind of disappointing. I had no money, and the family wasn’t wealthy. So this would be a big deal for me, to save up for months to afford the concert ticket.
Swift: Yeah, it feels like a bond. It feels like that person on the stage has given something, and it makes you as a crowd want to give even more back, in terms of applause, in terms of dedication. And I just remembered feeling that bond in the crowd, and thinking, “He’s up there playing these Beatles songs, my dad is crying, my mom is trying to figure out how to work her phone because her hands are shaking so much.” Because seeing the excitement course through not only me, but my family and the entire crowd in Nashville, it just was really special. I love learning lessons and not having to learn them the hard way. Like learning nice lessons I really value.
McCartney: Well, that’s great, and I’m glad that set you on that path. I understand people who don’t want to do that, and if you do, they’ll say, “Oh, it’s a jukebox show.” I hear what they’re saying. But I think it’s a bit of a cheat, because the people who come to our shows have spent a lot of money. We can afford to go to a couple of shows and it doesn’t make much difference. But a lot of ordinary working folks... it’s a big event in their life, and so I try and deliver. I also, like you say, try and put in a few weirdos.
Swift: That’s the best. I want to hear current things, too, to update me on where the artist is. I was wondering about lyrics, and where you were lyrically when you were making this record. Because when I was making Folklore, I went lyrically in a total direction of escapism and romanticism. And I wrote songs imagining I was, like, a pioneer woman in a forbidden love affair [laughs]. I was completely...
McCartney: Was this “I want to give you a child”? Is that one of the lines?
Swift: Oh, that’s a song called “Peace.”
McCartney: “Peace,” I like that one.
Swift: “Peace” is actually more rooted in my personal life. I know you have done a really excellent job of this in your personal life: carving out a human life within a public life, and how scary that can be when you do fall in love and you meet someone, especially if you’ve met someone who has a very grounded, normal way of living. I, oftentimes, in my anxieties, can control how I am as a person and how normal I act and rationalize things, but I cannot control if there are 20 photographers outside in the bushes and what they do and if they follow our car and if they interrupt our lives. I can’t control if there’s going to be a fake weird headline about us in the news tomorrow.
McCartney: So how does that go? Does your partner sympathize with that and understand?
Swift: Oh, absolutely.
McCartney: They have to, don’t they?
Swift: But I think that in knowing him and being in the relationship I am in now, I have definitely made decisions that have made my life feel more like a real life and less like just a storyline to be commented on in tabloids. Whether that’s deciding where to live, who to hang out with, when to not take a picture - the idea of privacy feels so strange to try to explain, but it’s really just trying to find bits of normalcy. That’s what that song “Peace” is talking about. Like, would it be enough if I could never fully achieve the normalcy that we both crave? Stella always tells me that she had as normal a childhood as she could ever hope for under the circumstances.
McCartney: Yeah, it was very important to us to try and keep their feet on the ground amongst the craziness.
Swift: She went to a regular school...
McCartney: Yeah, she did.
Swift: And you would go trick-or-treating with them, wearing masks.
McCartney: All of them did, yeah. It was important, but it worked pretty well, because when they kind of reached adulthood, they would meet other kids who might have gone to private schools, who were a little less grounded.
And they could be the budding mothers to [kids]. I remember Mary had a friend, Orlando. Not Bloom. She used to really counsel him. And it’s ’cause she’d gone through that. Obviously, they got made fun of, my kids. They’d come in the classroom and somebody would sing, “Na na na na,” you know, one of the songs. And they’d have to handle that. They’d have to front it out.
Swift: Did that give you a lot of anxiety when you had kids, when you felt like all this pressure that’s been put on me is spilling over onto them, that they didn’t sign up for it? Was that hard for you?
McCartney: Yeah, a little bit, but it wasn’t like it is now. You know, we were just living a kind of semi-hippie life, where we withdrew from a lot of stuff. The kids would be doing all the ordinary things, and their school friends would be coming up to the house and having parties, and it was just great. I remember one lovely evening when it was Stella’s birthday, and she brought a bunch of school kids up. And, you know, they’d all ignore me. It happens very quickly. At first they’re like, “Oh, yeah, he’s like a famous guy,” and then it’s like [yawns]. I like that. I go in the other room and suddenly I hear this music going on. And one of the kids, his name was Luke, and he’s doing break dancing.
McCartney: He was a really good break dancer, so all the kids are hanging out. That allowed them to be kind of normal with those kids. The other thing is, I don’t live fancy. I really don’t. Sometimes it’s a little bit of an embarrassment, if I’ve got someone coming to visit me, or who I know…
Swift: Cares about that stuff?
McCartney: Who’s got a nice big house, you know. Quincy Jones came to see me and I’m, like, making him a veggie burger or something. I’m doing some cooking. This was after I’d lost Linda, in between there. But the point I’m making is that I’m very consciously thinking, “Oh, God, Quincy’s got to be thinking, ‘What is this guy on? He hasn’t got big things going on. It’s not a fancy house at all. And we’re eating in the kitchen! He’s not even got the dining room going,’” you know?
Swift: I think that sounds like a perfect day.
McCartney: But that’s me. I’m awkward like that. That’s my kind of thing. Maybe I should have, like, a big stately home. Maybe I should get a staff. But I think I couldn’t do that. I’d be so embarrassed. I’d want to walk around dressed as I want to walk around, or naked, if I wanted to.
Swift: That can’t happen in Downton Abbey.
McCartney: [Laughs.] Exactly.
Swift: I remember what I wanted to know about, which is lyrics. Like, when you’re in this kind of strange, unparalleled time, and you’re making this record, are lyrics first? Or is it when you get a little melodic idea?
McCartney: It was a bit of both. As it kind of always is with me. There’s no fixed way. People used to ask me and John, “Well, who does the words, who does the music?” I used to say, “We both do both.” We used to say we don’t have a formula, and we don’t want one. Because the minute we get a formula, we should rip it up. I will sometimes, as I did with a couple of songs on this album, sit down at the piano and just start noodling around, and I’ll get a little idea and start to fill that out. So the lyrics - for me, it’s following a trail. I’ll start [sings “Find My Way,” a song from “McCartney III”]: “I can find my way. I know my left from right, da da da.” And I’ll just sort of fill it in. Like, we know this song, and I’m trying to remember the lyrics. Sometimes I’ll just be inspired by something. I had a little book which was all about the constellations and the stars and the orbits of Venus and...
Swift: Oh, I know that song - “The Kiss of Venus”?
McCartney: Yeah, “The Kiss of Venus.” And I just thought, “That’s a nice phrase.” So I was actually just taking phrases out of the book, harmonic sounds. And the book is talking about the maths of the universe, and how when things orbit around each other, and if you trace all the patterns, it becomes like a lotus flower.
McCartney: It’s very magical.
Swift: That is magical. I definitely relate to needing to find magical things in this very not-magical time, needing to read more books and learn to sew, and watch movies that take place hundreds of years ago. In a time where, if you look at the news, you just want to have a panic attack - I really relate to the idea that you are thinking about stars and constellations.
McCartney: Did you do that on Folklore?
Swift: Yes. I was reading so much more than I ever did, and watching so many more films.
McCartney: What stuff were you reading?
Swift: I was reading, you know, books like Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, which I highly recommend, and books that dealt with times past, a world that doesn’t exist anymore. I was also using words I always wanted to use - kind of bigger, flowerier, prettier words, like “epiphany,” in songs. I always thought, “Well, that’ll never track on pop radio,” but when I was making this record, I thought, “What tracks? Nothing makes sense anymore. If there’s chaos everywhere, why don’t I just use the damn word I want to use in the song?”
McCartney: Exactly. So you’d see the word in a book and think, “I love that word”?
Swift: Yeah, I have favorite words, like “elegies” and “epiphany” and “divorcée,” and just words that I think sound beautiful, and I have lists and lists of them.
McCartney: How about “marzipan”?
Swift: Love “marzipan.”
McCartney: The other day, I was remembering when we wrote “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”: “kaleidoscope.”
Swift: “Kaleidoscope” is one of mine! I have a song on 1989, a song called “Welcome to New York,” that I put the word “kaleidoscope” in just because I’m obsessed with the word.
McCartney: I think a love of words is a great thing, particularly if you’re going to try to write a lyric, and for me, it’s like, “What is this going to say to that person?” I often feel like I’m writing to someone who is not doing so well. So I’m trying to write songs that might help. Not in a goody-goody, crusading kind of way, but just thinking there have been so many times in my life when I’ve heard a song and felt so much better. I think that’s the angle I want, that inspirational thing.
I remember once, a friend of mine from Liverpool, we were teenagers and we were going to a fairground. He was a schoolmate, and we had these jackets that had a little fleck in the material, which was the cool thing at the time.
Swift: We should have done matching jackets for this photo shoot.
McCartney: Find me a fleck, I’m in. But we went to the fair, and I just remember - this is what happens with songs - there was this girl at the fair. This is just a little Liverpool fair - it was in a place called Sefton Park - and there was this girl, who was so beautiful. She wasn’t a star. She was so beautiful. Everyone was following her, and it’s like, “Wow.” It’s like a magical scene, you know? But all this gave me a headache, so I ended up going back to his house - I didn’t normally get headaches. And we thought, “What can we do?” So we put on the Elvis song “All Shook Up.” By the end of that song, my headache had gone. I thought, you know, “That’s powerful.”
Swift: That really is powerful.
McCartney: I love that, when people stop me in the street and say, “Oh, I was going through an illness and I listened to a lot of your stuff, and I’m better now and it got me through,” or kids will say, “It got me through exams.” You know, they’re studying, they’re going crazy, but they put your music on. I’m sure it happens with a lot of your fans. It inspires them, you know?
Swift: Yeah, I definitely think about that as a goal. There’s so much stress everywhere you turn that I kind of wanted to make an album that felt sort of like a hug, or like your favorite sweater that makes you feel like you want to put it on.
McCartney: What, a “cardigan”?
Swift: Like a good cardigan, a good, worn-in cardigan. Or something that makes you reminisce on your childhood. I think sadness can be cozy. It can obviously be traumatic and stressful, too, but I kind of was trying to lean into sadness that feels like somehow enveloping in not such a scary way - like nostalgia and whimsy incorporated into a feeling like you’re not all right. Because I don’t think anybody was really feeling like they were in their prime this year. Isolation can mean escaping into your imagination in a way that’s kind of nice.
McCartney: I think a lot of people have found that. I would say to people, “I feel a bit guilty about saying I’m actually enjoying this quarantine thing,” and people go, “Yeah, I know, don’t say it to anyone.” A lot of people are really suffering.
Swift: Because there’s a lot in life that’s arbitrary. Completely and totally arbitrary. And [the quarantine] is really shining a light on that, and also a lot of things we have that we outsource that you can actually do yourself.
McCartney: I love that. This is why I said I live simply. That’s, like, at the core of it. With so many things, something goes wrong and you go, “Oh, I’ll get somebody to fix that.” And then it’s like, “No, let me have a look at it...”
Swift: Get a hammer and a nail.
McCartney: “Maybe I can put that picture up.” It’s not rocket science. The period after the Beatles, when we went to live in Scotland on a really - talk about dumpy - little farm. I mean, I see pictures of it now and I’m not ashamed, but I’m almost ashamed. Because it’s like, “God, nobody’s cleaned up around here.”
But it was really a relief. Because when I was with the Beatles, we’d formed Apple Records, and if I wanted a Christmas tree, someone would just buy it. And I thought, after a while, “No, you know what? I really would like to go and buy our Christmas tree. Because that’s what everyone does.” So you go down - “I’ll have that one” - and you carried it back. I mean, it’s little, but it’s huge at the same time.
I needed a table in Scotland and I was looking through a catalog and I thought, “I could make one. I did woodwork in school, so I know what a dovetail joint is.” So I just figured it out. I’m just sitting in the kitchen, and I’m whittling away at this wood and I made this little joint. There was no nail technology - it was glue. And I was scared to put it together. I said, “It’s not going to fit,” but one day, I got my woodwork glue and thought, “There’s no going back.” But it turned out to be a real nice little table I was very proud of. It was that sense of achievement.
The weird thing was, Stella went up to Scotland recently and I said, “Isn’t it there?” and she said, “No.” Anyway, I searched for it. Nobody remembered it. Somebody said, “Well, there’s a pile of wood in the corner of one of the barns, maybe that’s it. Maybe they used it for firewood.” I said, “No, it’s not firewood.” Anyway, we found it, and do you know how joyous that was for me? I was like, “You found my table?!” Somebody might say that’s a bit boring.
Swift: No, it’s cool!
McCartney: But it was a real sort of great thing for me to be able to do stuff for yourself. You were talking about sewing. I mean normally, in your position, you’ve got any amount of tailors.
Swift: Well, there’s been a bit of a baby boom recently; several of my friends have gotten pregnant.
McCartney: Oh, yeah, you’re at the age.
Swift: And I was just thinking, “I really want to spend time with my hands, making something for their children.” So I made this really cool flying-squirrel stuffed animal that I sent to one of my friends. I sent a teddy bear to another one, and I started making these little silk baby blankets with embroidery. It’s gotten pretty fancy. And I’ve been painting a lot.
McCartney: What do you paint? Watercolors?
Swift: Acrylic or oil. Whenever I do watercolor, all I paint is flowers. When I have oil, I really like to do landscapes. I always kind of return to painting a lonely little cottage on a hill.
McCartney: It’s a bit of a romantic dream. I agree with you, though, I think you’ve got to have dreams, particularly this year. You’ve got to have something to escape to. When you say “escapism,” it sounds like a dirty word, but this year, it definitely wasn’t. And in the books you’re reading, you’ve gone into that world. That’s, I think, a great thing. Then you come back out. I normally will read a lot before I go to bed. So I’ll come back out, then I’ll go to sleep, so I think it really is nice to have those dreams that can be fantasies or stuff you want to achieve.
Swift: You’re creating characters. This was the first album where I ever created characters, or wrote about the life of a real-life person. There’s a song called “The Last Great American Dynasty” that’s about this real-life heiress who lived just an absolutely chaotic, hectic...
McCartney: She’s a fantasy character?
Swift: She’s a real person. Who lived in the house that I live in.
McCartney: She’s a real person? I listened to that and I thought, “Who is this?”
Swift: Her name was Rebekah Harkness. And she lived in the house that I ended up buying in Rhode Island. That’s how I learned about her. But she was a woman who was very, very talked about, and everything she did was scandalous. I found a connection in that. But I also was thinking about how you write “Eleanor Rigby” and go into that whole story about what all these people in this town are doing and how their lives intersect, and I hadn’t really done that in a very long time with my music. It had always been so microscope personal.
McCartney: Yeah, ’cause you were writing breakup songs like they were going out of style.
Swift: I was, before my luck changed [laughs]. I still write breakup songs. I love a good breakup song. Because somewhere in the world, I always have a friend going through a breakup, and that will make me write one.
McCartney: Yeah, this goes back to this thing of me and John: When you’ve got a formula, break it. I don’t have a formula. It’s the mood I’m in. So I love the idea of writing a character. And, you know, trying to think, “What am I basing this on?” So “Eleanor Rigby” was based on old ladies I knew as a kid. For some reason or other, I got great relationships with a couple of local old ladies. I was thinking the other day, I don’t know how I met them, it wasn’t like they were family. I’d just run into them, and I’d do their shopping for them.
Swift: That’s amazing.
McCartney: It just felt good to me. I would sit and talk, and they’d have amazing stories. That’s what I liked. They would have stories from the wartime - because I was born actually in the war - and so these old ladies, they were participating in the war. This one lady I used to sort of just hang out with, she had a crystal radio that I found very magical. In the war, a lot of people made their own radios - you’d make them out of crystals [sings “The Twilight Zone” theme].
Swift: How did I not know this? That sounds like something I would have tried to learn about.
McCartney: It’s interesting, because there is a lot of parallels with the virus and lockdowns and wartime. It happened to everyone. Like, this isn’t HIV, or SARS, or Avian flu, which happened to others, generally. This has happened to everyone, all around the world. That’s the defining thing about this particular virus. And, you know, my parents... it happened to everyone in Britain, including the queen and Churchill. War happened. So they were all part of this thing, and they all had to figure out a way through it. So you figured out Folklore. I figured out McCartney III.
Swift: And a lot of people have been baking sourdough bread. Whatever gets you through!
McCartney: Some people used to make radios. And they’d take a crystal - we should look it up, but it actually is a crystal. I thought, “Oh, no, they just called it a crystal radio,” but it’s actually crystals like we know and love.
McCartney: And somehow they get the radio waves - this crystal attracts them - they tune it in, and that’s how they used to get their news. Back to “Eleanor Rigby,” so I would think of her and think of what she’s doing and then just try to get lyrical, just try to bring poetry into it, words you love, just try to get images like “picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been,” and Father McKenzie “is darning his socks in the night.” You know, he’s a religious man, so I could’ve said, you know, “preparing his Bible,” which would have been more obvious. But “darning his socks” kind of says more about him. So you get into this lovely fantasy. And that’s the magic of songs, you know. It’s a black hole, and then you start doing this process, and then there’s this beautiful little flower that you’ve just made. So it is very like embroidery, making something.
Swift: Making a table.
McCartney: Making a table.
Swift: Wow, it would’ve been so fun to play Glastonbury for the 50th anniversary together.
McCartney: It would’ve been great, wouldn’t it? And I was going to be asking you to play with me.
Swift: Were you going to invite me? I was hoping that you would. I was going to ask you.
McCartney: I would’ve done “Shake It Off.”
Swift: Oh, my God, that would have been amazing.
McCartney: I know it, it’s in C!
Swift: One thing I just find so cool about you is that you really do seem to have the joy of it, still, just no matter what. You seem to have the purest sense of joy of playing an instrument and making music, and that’s just the best, I think.
McCartney: Well, we’re just so lucky, aren’t we?
Swift: We’re really lucky.
McCartney: I don’t know if it ever happens to you, but with me, it’s like, “Oh, my god, I’ve ended up as a musician.”
Swift: Yeah, I can’t believe it’s my job.
McCartney: I must tell you a story I told Mary the other day, which is just one of my favorite little sort of Beatles stories. We were in a terrible, big blizzard, going from London to Liverpool, which we always did. We’d be working in London and then drive back in the van, just the four of us with our roadie, who would be driving. And this was a blizzard. You couldn’t see the road. At one point, it slid off and it went down an embankment. So it was “Ahhh,” a bunch of yelling. We ended up at the bottom. It didn’t flip, luckily, but so there we are, and then it’s like, “Oh, how are we going to get back up? We’re in a van. It’s snowing, and there’s no way.” We’re all standing around in a little circle, and thinking, “What are we going to do?” And one of us said, “Well, something will happen.” And I thought that was just the greatest. I love that, that’s a philosophy.
Swift: “Something will happen.”
McCartney: And it did. We sort of went up the bank, we thumbed a lift, we got the lorry driver to take us, and Mal, our roadie, sorted the van and everything. So that was kind of our career. And I suppose that’s like how I ended up being a musician and a songwriter: “Something will happen.”
Swift: That’s the best.
McCartney: It’s so stupid it’s brilliant. It’s great if you’re ever in that sort of panic attack: “Oh, my God,” or, “Ahhh, what am I going to do?”
Swift: “Something will happen.”
McCartney: All right then, thanks for doing this, and this was, you know, a lot of fun.
Swift: You’re the best. This was so awesome. Those were some quality stories!
» pairing: shigaraki tomura x genderfluid!reader
» word count: 5.8k
» notes: This is shameless, self-indulgent enby smut written for a target audience of exactly one (1) person, and that person is me. But, as always, likes/reblogs/replies are always appreciated ♡ ♡ ♡
» contains: reader with a sex change quirk, heteroflexible Shigaraki (he does you both ways), top Shigaraki, coming out, edgeplay, overstimulation, vaginal sex, anal sex, overuse of ‘pet’ as a pet name. 18+, minors DNI.
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"We're together, right?"
"What?" The question catches you so off guard that for a moment you forget what you're doing. Before you know it your character onscreen has died, a squelchy, strangled sound blasting from the speakers of the television. Next to you, Shigaraki tosses his game controller to the side, turning a little on the sofa to face you.
"You and me," Tomura says, gesturing between you. "We're a couple, right? I'm your boyfriend?" His voice is flat, and his teeth work at the inside of his cheek as he waits for your answer, visibly tense.
You set your own controller on the coffee table. "I was under the impression you are."
The two of you have never actually discussed labels, but you've spent a lot of time together since you designed the prosthetic to replace his mangled fingers. And it's not just fucking either; you frequently hole up in his quarters - like you are now - to play video games or watch movies or do other couple-y things. After all that, you'd just sort of assumed that you were officially dating.
And you'd assumed that he assumed the same, so you're not sure what to make of this line of inquiry, or the fact that his fingertips are grazing against his neck. "So you're not...seeing anyone else, or anything?" There's a sharp glint in his eye as he spits out the question from between clenched teeth, as though just the idea is unacceptable.
"What? No, of course not." Even if you wanted to, which you don't, you can't imagine how you could possibly do so, when the two of you spend every free moment together. "Why would you ask that?"
Tomura slumps a little, his fingers digging harder at the reddened patches along his throat even as the edge leaves his voice. "I was talking to Toga about you earlier today, and one of the Violet Regiment members came up to say you probably wouldn't like me calling you my girlfriend. But she wouldn't say why."
"Oh." Well, fuck. Even without asking you know who it must have been; there's one woman who always goes out of her way to hang around Tomura, and you've seen the way she looks at him, not even trying to be subtle. You've heard what she says behind your back too, that the Grand Commander of the Paranormal Liberation Front should be with someone who's strong and can fight beside him, not some support tech with a useless Quirk. Tomura, for his part, has seemed entirely oblivious to her interest, so you're not surprised she'd do something like this - even if she was right about your preferences for labels, you know she didn't mention it out of any sort of real courtesy.
You let out a long sigh. No point beating around the bush now. "It was probably because of my Quirk."
"Your Quirk?" His brow furrows, his gaze drifting off as he obviously tries to recall whether your Quirk has come up in conversation before, and when those red eyes snap back to yours then you know he's realizing it hasn't. It's intentional in your case and an oversight on his part, not the kind of thing that would normally escape Tomura's attention, but he tends to find himself more distracted than usual when he's around you. "What is it?"
You chew at your lower lip as you debate the best way to explain. While you don't exactly keep your Quirk a secret, people can get...strange when the subject comes up, making judgmental comments or asking overly personal questions. You still normally try to be up front with people you date - it isn't worth keeping it to yourself only to suffer belated rejections or accusations of dishonesty - but things with Shigaraki had moved quickly, to say the least. He'd been overly familiar during the first fitting for his prosthetic, and downright flirty at the second. Then during his last visit you'd apparently reciprocated a little too enthusiastically, because next thing you knew he was bending you over your workbench and burying himself in your cunt.
You'd had no complaints in the moment, but afterwards things had suddenly felt a little more complicated.
"Just keep an open mind, okay? I normally tell people about it before getting involved, but everything between us happened so suddenly that I didn't have the chance, and then I got worried it would fuck things up if I brought it up and..." You trail off. There's an anxious knot forming in your stomach that's not helped by the way his eyes have narrowed.
"It's just a Quirk," he huffs. "The only thing that's going to piss me off is you keeping secrets for no reason."
"You say that, but you don't know what it is."
Tomura gives you a long, hard look. Then he mutters, "I could kill you, you know."
"What?" You can't help the way your eyes widen, but Tomura just rolls his own.
"It's not a threat. I mean my Quirk - one slip and you'd be dead, but you still let me touch you. So why would it matter to me if yours is dangerous or something? I'm not going care."
The knot in your stomach loosens, but only slightly. In all your worrying about how this conversation would go, you'd never considered that he might think his Quirk was a turn off. But Decay is also very different from your own Quirk, and entirely involuntary, whereas the control you have over yours sometimes makes things a bit more...fraught. Suffice to say, you've gotten some fairly negative reactions in the past when you haven't been forthright.
And now here you are, inadvertently making the same mistakes all over again. You take a deep a breath, let it out slowly. "It's not dangerous. It's not even really useful," you admit. "I can change my sex."
Tomura blinks. "What, like turn into a guy?"
You nod, dropping your gaze so you don't have to look at him. It's not exactly the phrasing that you would use, but it's close enough to make clear he understands, and you prepare yourself for the impending barrage of questions and insecurities. Maybe anger too, since that's what you've sometimes been met with when, thanks to the folly of youth, you'd waited too long to have this conversation with men you were dating.
None of those previous experiences have prepared you for Tomura to simply wave his hand and snort, "Is that all? You made it sound so serious."
Your head shoots up, taking in his expression. He really doesn't look bothered, just slightly incredulous, and a flicker of hope sparks in your chest. You really, really want things to work with him, are far more taken than you'd expected to be with your intimidating yet somehow boyish leader, but in the back of your mind you'd been worried it was too good to be true. "You don't care?"
He snorts again. "Why would that matter?"
"I don't feel like it should, but it has in the past. I've had people not want to date me because of it, or had them ask me to promise not to use it so they don't have to think about what that would mean for them. Or they want to know what I 'really' am - even people I hardly know ask me that. And obviously I was born a particular way," you pause, swallowing hard and trying to work up to being completely honest, "but I don't want that to matter. I don't feel like I'm any more one thing than the other. They're both me."
Tomura nods, and then a distressed look crosses his face as he scratches at his throat again. "Does that mean you've been holding back this whole time? Not using your Quirk because of me?"
You shake your head quickly to reassure him and then stop, nodding uncertainly instead. In a way he's right. "It was just coincidence that I was female the first few times we met about your prosthetic. Then after we hooked up, I still used my Quirk, but I made sure I was always the same way when I saw you. I wasn't sure what you'd think."
Tomura's lip curls in distaste as his hand drops from his neck, his red eyes fixing on you intently. "Don't do that. I don't care."
Despite how emphatically he says it, you still can't quite bring yourself to believe he's being honest, that the conversation you've been dreading for weeks has gone so easily. "Really?"
He nods, his tone going serious. "I don't want you to not be yourself because of me. And sometimes it's complicated, right? That's what Magne said. She..." He pauses, seeming to choose his next words carefully. "A lot of people thought she was a man. But she wasn't."
"Oh." You've heard Magne mentioned before, of course, but that particular detail is new to you. If you'd known, you might have been slightly less nervous about this entire exchange. "Well, she was right. I don't feel like it should be complicated, but people make it that way. But you really wouldn't care if I'm not always the same? Just when we hang out, I mean. I don't expect you to...you know...when I'm..." You can feel your face growing hot as you trail off again.
"I already told you I don't care. Not about that either."
His words give you pause, and you raise an eyebrow, trying again not to get your hopes up prematurely, albeit for an entirely different reason this time. God knows you've thought about that - stroked yourself off to the idea more than once even, that wider ranger of experiences being one of the only tangible perks your Quirk offers - but you'd never expected it to actually happen. "You mean you'd fuck me either way? I didn't think you were into that."
You'd done your best to assess that too, and while asking about prior relationships hadn't helped much, you had taken a close enough look at his video game collection to note the eroges all starred female love interests.
"I've never really thought about it before to be honest, but sure." He shrugs. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not getting fucked. But if it was me fucking you then why not? I like you." He smirks a little, giving you a lascivious look that has your thighs clenching. "And a hole's a hole."
"Y-yeah, I guess so," you mumble. You're not usually this easily flustered, but his crass wording and the way he's looking at you has you unexpectedly, sheepishly heated. That fact doesn't seem to have escaped him either - he shifts forward, pushing you back into the sofa, his arms caging you against the cushions.
"I'll fuck you like that right now if you want," he taunts, his breath hot in your ear, and a shiver runs down your spine.
You really, really want that.
But, you also know you don't want it to be quite so impromptu, so you reluctantly shake your head, even as your hands lift to cling at the front of his shirt. "I'd have to prep for that," you admit. "But later?"
He lets out a throaty growl, nimble fingers creeping up your side to grope at your chest, roughly twisting your nipple through your clothes. "Later for that, maybe," he says, "but I want you now."
His lips catch yours in a hungry kiss, barely giving you a chance to respond before his tongue is coaxing its way into your mouth, feverishly circling your own. The sudden intensity has you reeling, struggling to catch your breath even as his hand is sliding purposefully to cup between your legs, his palm grinding against your clothed core.
You mewl in response, hips already bucking, and he wastes no time undoing your pants, tugging them down over your hips just low enough so that he can tease at your already-soaked folds.
"Someone's eager," he murmurs teasingly against your lips. "Did you get all worked up thinking about me fucking your tight little ass?"
The heat in your cheeks worsens at his words and you try to hide behind your hands, but he only tugs them away, clicking his tongue in disapproval. "C'mon, tell me."
"Y-yes," you nod, and then you gasp as his fingers plunge into your dripping cunt, curling immediately to seek out that sensitive spot deep within. He kisses you again roughly, swallowing the whimpers that escape you when he adds the pressure of his thumb against your puffy clit. Already his efforts have that knot in your lower belly tightening, your teeth sinking into his lower lip as you writhe, inching your way closer to release.
And then he's pulling away, his dry lips stretching into a satisfied grin at the sound of you whining. Tomura sits back on his heels, undoing his own pants, his own firm arousal springing forth. The tip is already flushed red, leaking precum as he strokes himself a couple times. Then he gestures expectantly. "Well? Don't be selfish, help me out."
Your mouth is already watering at the sight of him, and you scramble forward at once to take him in hand, leaning in eagerly to run your tongue over the head of his glans. He shudders when you do, his hand coming to rest at the back of your neck, holding you close as you graduate to small kitten licks along the underside of his shaft and around his tip.
"A-ah, that's a good little pet," he hisses when you finally wrap your lips around him, hollowing your cheeks and swallowing him as deep as you can. Then he chuckles. "I guess now I know why you're so good at this, huh?"
The praise sends your stomach fluttering, and you pick up the pace, lewd, wet sounds filling the room as you suck him sloppily. His hips are bucking, his hand tightening at your nape to guide you as he thrusts roughly down your throat. There's drool starting to trickle down your chin but you don't care, too caught up in the taste of him and the throaty noises he lets out every time the head of his glans pushes past the tight ring at the back of your throat.
All the while the ache between your thighs is growing steadily, slick dripping from your neglected cunt. Your free hand moves to rub at your throbbing clit, desperate for some relief, but two pale fingers quickly catch your wrist, tugging your hand away.
"Tch, so impatient," Tomura says. He stills his movements, the tip of his cock still nestled against your tonsils so that all you can do is give a tiny nod and whine pathetically. Those glinting red eyes scan your face, the corner of his mouth quirking up at the sight of you gagged by his member, eyes watering and spit-slicked lips stretched vulgarly around his substantial girth. Then his hand lifts to cup your face, his thumb stroking lightly over your damp cheek. "You want me to fuck you?"
You nod again, a tiny, pleading noise slipping involuntarily from the back of your throat. Tomura ruts into your mouth lazily a couple more times before withdrawing, wasting no time peeling away the rest of your clothes and then flipping you over, positioning you on all fours before him.
His knee forces your legs a little wider before he settles between them, his cock brushing over your drenched slit, gathering some of that wetness. The friction alone is enough to have you whimpering and canting your hips, trying to guide him to where you need him most, but cruel fingers pinch at the curve of your rear in response.
Tomura clicks his tongue again. "Be good and hold still," he commands. You do your best but don't quite succeed, too flushed and impatient not to wiggle against him the tiniest bit when he glides his length over your folds with excruciating slowness.
It takes all your restraint not to sink back against him when he aligns himself with your entrance, the anticipation enough to send your eager cunt fluttering around nothing. When he finally, finally surges forward, sheathing himself inside you in one quick stroke, you can't help moaning at the sensation of being stretched so abruptly wide.
"Fuck, you're so wet," he groans. His hands settle at your hips, holding you in place as he starts to move, shallow thrusts that have you mewling, sparks of heat radiating through your sex every time he brushes against the spongy spot deep inside.
Tomura's an expert at working you over by now, angling his hips just right and driving himself repeatedly into your most tender points until you're a gasping mess, your fingers clawing at the cushion beneath you. His balls slap against your sensitive clit with every thrust, sending tension coiling in your gut, threatening to snap, but just when you're about to slip over the edge he changes the angle, repositioning himself just enough that he's no longer hitting the right spot, once again robbing you of your release.
"Tomu," you plead. The word comes out as a choked sob, tears of frustration pricking at your eyes. A soothing hand caresses your back, but his words are mocking.
"Aw, is my little slut that greedy? That desperate to cum on my cock?" He fucks into you harder, slamming against your cervix with each thrust, the angle of his hips still not quite what you need. "Not until I'm ready for you," he rasps. "I want to feel you milking me dry when I fill you up."
You don't respond. Can't respond, can only let out pathetic cries as he pistons his hips faster, your tight heat pulsing around him every time he sinks into you. He reaches around to tease at your clit, rolling it lightly between two fingers. It's just enough to keep you hovering on the edge as he assails your cunt, sucking in sharp breaths every time he bottoms out inside you. His other hand is clutching tightly at your hip, cool fingers digging roughly into that supple flesh, holding you in place so that you can't shift to increase the friction. You're left entirely at his mercy as he ruts relentlessly into you, leaving you a trembling, keening mess.
It's clear that he's getting close - his movements are growing more erratic, his own grunts and swears spilling out more rapidly, and then he's hunching over you, his fingers rubbing at your clit as he pants in your ear. "Are you gonna be a good pet and cum for me?"
You nod frantically, whimpering, "Please please please please," and his fingers speed up. Your core tightens rapidly until you're spiraling over the edge, your thighs trembling and your back arching as you keen loudly, your cunt clenching around Tomura as he buries himself to the hilt. He lets out his own long, strangled groan, his own cock spasming as he makes good on that promise to fill you up.
He slumps over the moment he's stopped twitching inside you, and you hear the faint rusting of his clothes as he tucks himself back into his pants. His withdrawal sends your combined juices dribbling down your thigh, making you grimace, but he tugs you into his lap, uncaring of the mess. His fingertips tracing gentle circles over your flushed skin as you rest against his chest, struggling to catch your breath.
You're entirely spent, your limbs jelly, but Tomura, insatiable as always, is already nuzzling against your temple. "So we're going to this again later, right? The other way?"
The eagerness in his voice has your heart fluttering and the faintest flicker of heat sparking again between your thighs. "If you want to," you pant.
"I already told you I do." He pauses, buries his face against your hair, before mumbling, "I want all of you."
Despite his reassurances, you're still a ball of nerves when you return to Tomura's room later that night, showered and changed in more ways than one. You shift your weight back and forth on your feet after you knock, your stomach knotted and your palms sweaty, a thousand worries weighing heavy - that he'll change his mind when he sees you, or worse, that he'll go through with it unenthusiastically, merely trying to placate you.
Tomura ushers you in immediately when he opens the door, and it isn't until you're standing awkwardly in the middle of the room that he stops to look you over, his head cocked as those red eyes scan up and down your new, masculine form.
"I thought it'd be more different," he says thoughtfully. "But you still look like you."
His words help you relax a little. It's true that besides the obvious - the flatter chest and the notable addition between your legs - the differences are subtle. A modest widening of your jaw and nose, slightly broader shoulders and narrower hips, a few extra inches of height. But your eyes and mouth stay mostly the same, and your hair doesn't change at all; if you could stand side by side with your female form, you'd look like siblings bearing a strong familial resemblance and matching haircuts.
You don't really know to respond to his comment, so you simply chew at your lip, waiting uncertainly. Tomura lets out a soft snort and steps closer, leaving only a few inches of space between the two of you. "You're nervous," he says, not without a hint of amusement, and you nod. A concerned look flashes across his face, the corner of his lips turning down. "You've done this before, right? Like this?"
"I have. It's just...been a while." You can feel your face heating up at the admission. It had been a while since you'd been with anyone before him, and now this will be, in many ways, like sleeping together for the first time again. Only this time you've had time to dwell on the idea, to let nerves and excitement both get the best of you.
Tomura lets out a small hum and then tips his head towards the bed, a wordless instruction that you follow quickly, laying back against the pillows, twinges of anticipation flickering in you belly. You expect him to join you, but he stops at the foot at the bed, looking you up and down again.
"Aren't you going to show me the rest of you?" he asks, smirking, and you sit up, swallowing hard before doing what he asks. Your hands shake a little as you tug your shirt over your head and kick off your jeans. You pause after that, shooting him an uncertain look, and he clicks his tongue impatiently. "All of you."
You hook your thumbs hesitantly under the waistband of your underwear and start to peel them down. You've been naked in front of him before in other ways, obviously, but this reveal has you feeling extra exposed. The intensity of his gaze isn't helping - it has your face burning again, and that heat only worsens when your cock bounces free, already embarrassingly hard and dripping.
For an unbearably long moment, Tomura simply stares, head tilted and red eyes gleaming as he takes in the sight of you. Then he's joining you on the bed, settling his weight half on top of you and brushing his lips lightly over yours. "You're cute when you're nervous," he says throatily, and you shiver.
Tomura lifts one hand to caress slowly along your side, exploratory movements that have you trembling under the gentleness of his touch. He watches your reactions raptly, that glint in his eye sharpening steadily as his fingers venture continually lower until they're tracing along your hips, dangerously close to your throbbing arousal. When he finally runs one calloused thumb along the underside of your shift, teasing at that sensitive spot just below your tip, you can't help but let out a tiny whimper, your hips bucking involuntarily against his touch.
He continues those excruciatingly soft ministrations, one side of his mouth stretching into a broad grin as he watches your reactions.
"You're needy like this," he taunts, and then he finally leans in to kiss you properly, sucking and nibbling at your lower lip until you're gasping, then working his scarred lips along your jaw and down your neck, sucking a mark there. You cling at the fabric of his shirt as you squirm beneath him, and when his hand wraps around your length, stroking slowly, your small whimpers escalate to undignified whines, your hips jerking against his hand. "So needy," he repeats.
You can't help it - it's almost overwhelming, how different this is from the ways he's touched you before, or how it feels when you touch yourself. His hands are rougher and his grip firmer, and he squeezes just a little tighter every time he brushes over the sensitive head of your cock. It's a heady combination, made all the more thrilling when you realize this must be how he strokes himself off, that you're getting some tiny peek at his own habits and experience.
You try to return the favor, taking him in hand and massaging his clothed length, but you're too distracted by his touch to do it well, your movements graceless and inconsistent. After another moment he's swatting your hand away, releasing his grip on you so he can tear off his clothes, his own erection jutting impressively out from a thatch of coarse, pale hair.
Tomura repositions you slightly, just enough to rut his own length experimentally against yours, making you mewl. He seems pleased with that reaction, his grin widening as he takes you both in hand, those long fingers wrapping around both your shafts. You swear when he starts to jerk his wrist, fisting you both, occasionally letting his palm graze over your cockheads to spread around the precum beading at your tips.
You let out a stuttering cry almost immediately. The feel of his straining member gliding against your own, the roughness of his hand as he speeds up his strokes, and the slick lubrication of your combined arousals spreading over your skin is all too much, has your balls tightening and your fingers clutching at Tomura's arms as you try to ground yourself. It's no use - the next time his palm circles your sensitive head you're spilling over, your cock twitching and hots spurts of cum splattering against your stomach.
Tomura lets out a throaty laugh. "Needy little pet made a mess," he purrs in your ear, his fingers dipping into the puddle of white on your stomach, smearing it around and then collecting some on his fingertips. Those same fingers lift to prod at your lips insistently until you part them, and then he's shoving his fingers in your mouth, the salty taste of your cum slick on your tongue. He works those digits in and out as you lap and suck, groaning and watching transfixed until you've cleaned away every drop he's fed you.
As soon as you've finished, Tomura is spreading your legs, teasing at your asshole with those spit-soaked fingers, circling and prodding at your tight hole until you've relaxed enough for him to slip one finger in. He keeps his movements slow and shallow, only working himself one knuckle deep to start, but it's enough to have you shaking, pleading for more as you start to loosen up.
You try to direct Tomura to your pants, and the bottle of lube you'd brought, but he's already pulling away, reaching past you and fumbling for something on the bedside table, and when he settles back into place you see him snapping the cap off a bottle of lube that's obviously brand new. Somewhere beyond the haze of your arousal is a flicker of warmth that he was prepared for this, committed to taking care of you and doing it right.
He coats his fingers generously before resuming his efforts to work you open, and it becomes clear that he's made other efforts too. He works another digit in, the feel of his second knuckles breaching the resistance of your tight hole making you gasp, and then he's bending his fingers inside you, obviously seeking out something in particular.
You cry out when he finds it, the pad of one finger brushing against your prostate, and he lets out a satisfied growl, focusing his attentions on that sensitive spot. It has your cock swelling rapidly, your hands fisting at the sheets beneath you as Tomura works his fingers more roughly, pausing only briefly to add more lube, and a third finger. He scissors those digits, stretching you wider, and your hips jerk to meet his thrusts.
His attentions have you twisting and moaning, a sheen of sweat coating your heated skin as white hot pleasure swells up deep inside, all while he watches you with that lusty smile, seemingly captivated by the effect he's having. He thrusts his fingers deeper, leaning in to slot his mouth against your own, his tongue tangling greedily with yours, a thin strand of saliva connecting your mouths when he finally breaks the kiss.
"Think you're ready to take me, pet?" he asks, and you nod instantly, all too eager to have him inside you, to feel that intoxicating fullness. Still, you let out a feeble whine when his fingers withdraw, leaving you agonizingly empty, and you don't miss the look of satisfaction on his face at that.
You watch through glazed, half-lidded eyes as he generously lubes of his cock, and then he's positioning himself between your thighs, shoving your knees to your chest so that you're spread wide and ready for him. You moan immediately when he begins sinking himself into your eager hole, your hips rocking up to meet him even as the intensity of the stretch has your face scrunching in slight discomfort.
Tomura's watching your reactions closely, pushing through the initial resistance that tight ring of muscle offers and only pausing when the head of his cock is firmly inside you. "Fuck, you're so tight," he hisses through gritted teeth. "I wasn't expecting it to be tighter."
He's panting, fingertips digging roughly into the backs of your thighs as he holds you in place, unmoving while he gives you time to adjust. Even having worked you open with his fingers, his girth feels like it's stretching you impossibly wide, and you suck in deep breaths, trying to relax. When you feel ready, you give a small nod, canting your hips to encourage him to move.
Rocking his hips, Tomura starts to work his way deeper. They're slow, shallow thrusts at first, Tomura only pushing deeper when you've loosened up a little, and he lets out a pleased growl when the entirety of his length is finally buried inside you, his hips flush against your own. Your heart flutters in your chest again when you take in his expression, the pink flush of his cheeks and the thrilled curl of his lips, all making it apparent your worries were unfounded - he's obviously getting off on this.
Tomura resumes his efforts, fucking into you for real now with long, rhythmic strokes, making small adjustments to the angle until he finds the one he wants, the one that has you crying out as he brushes against that tender ball of nerves inside with every thrust. Everything else goes hazy as you lose yourself in that sensation, unable to focus on anything except the heat pooling in your gut and the exquisite feeling of him stretching you wide.
"Tomu- oh god, Tomu, I-" You're sobbing, unable to form a coherent thought as you cry out his name, and that only has him rutting into you harder. He traces one finger along the underside of your aching cock, and then takes it away just as quickly.
"Can you cum untouched?" he asks breathily. "I read that can happen."
"I don’t- I don’t-" I don't know, is what you were trying to say, but you already have your answer, can feel yourself hurtling towards your release, and you nod frantically. "I'm gonna...fuck...gonna c-cum, I-" And then you're cut off as your orgasm hits you, white spots flashing bright behind your eyes as every muscle in your body seizes. Your toes curl and your cock spasms, painting your stomach white as you let out a long, discordant wail.
Tomura hisses in satisfaction, not relenting in the slightest as he fucks you through your peak and beyond, still brushing against that now overly-sensitive spot with each thrust. Your entire body is hot, quivering as he continues to assault your overworked hole, your cries growing more desperate and strangled with each overwhelming stroke.
"Shh," he pants, "You're doing so good, you, a-ah, you take me so well." His pace grows harsher, his own strangled growls and groans spilling forth each time he bottoms out inside you. It has tears pricking at your eyes, pleasure and discomfort rippling through your body in equal measure as he pushes you into overstimulation, but beneath all that you can feel his ruthless attentions shoving you towards another peak.
Tomura's hips are starting to stutter, his movements growing more frantic, and he grips your already half-hard cock, jerking you in time with his thrusts. "Fuck I'm- fuck, I'm gonna cum, gonna fill you up. That's what you want, right pet?"
You're nodding, crying out, nothing but a blubbering, overstimulated mess beneath him as he fucks you mercilessly, and then you're cumming again, your body going rigid as you shoot another load weakly onto your messy belly. Tomura's not far behind, only managing another handful of short, erratic thrusts before you can feel hot spurts of cum flooding your insides, his cock twitching and throbbing as he climaxes. He manages a couple more faltering thrusts, shoving his seed deeper, and then he's slumping on top of you, drawing heaving breaths.
After a moment his hand lifts to brush some of the dampness from your cheeks, his lips finding yours in a lazy, sloppy kiss. You're still panting raggedly, only just starting to come down from your high, but Tomura's wearing a look of obvious gratification as he softens inside you. He lifts one hand to brush the dampness from your cheeks, his lips nuzzling contentedly along your jaw and up to your ear. "Damn, pet," he whispers, rolling slightly so he can wrap his arms around you, "you were really holding out on me."
#202: What Should You Focus on as a Writer?
Being a writer means many things. You will be researching, outlining, writing, editing, formatting, publishing, selling and marketing your work. If things go well, you'll also be dealing with accounting and taxes. That's a lot to figure out for anybody.
When you're starting out, there's no shortage of advice on what you should do and learn. Stop using adverbs. Create outlines. Don't edit while writing. Follow the three-act structure. Think about character arcs. Pick a genre and stick to it. Set up a writing routine. Build an audience before you write your book. It can be overwhelming.
But is all that stuff equally important? And if not, what should be your priority?
Focus on Your Strengths
You will be naturally more interested in some aspects of the process than others. We all have our preferences. Maybe you're a beast on Twitter and can build a massive audience there before publishing your work. Or you're super organised and can meticulously plan out a story to a point where writing it becomes a mere formality.
Perhaps you love rewriting and editing, in which case it might be a good idea to power through the first draft as fast as you can so you can focus on that.
You may be able to build a website in an afternoon or publish a weekly newsletter where you share the ups and downs of your writing journey — you should absolutely do it.
However, if there's something that you don't particularly enjoy, don't do it unless it's necessary. As a writer, you do have to write. But you don't need a website. You don't need a newsletter or a massive Twitter following before publication. Many writers are happy without outlining or doing research too.
These things will eat into your writing time and slow you down.
The Pitfalls to Avoid
Then there's the stuff that may seem good to know but is entirely counter-productive. I've seen writers working on the first draft of their debut novel, asking about movie deals and researching publication contracts.
It's ok to dream, and if this sort of thing doesn't cut into your writing time in any way, feel free to do it. But too often, writers spend way more time researching how much money will they earn in the future than they do writing.
You may spend two months designing your author website (been there before) or setting up your social media presence. There are infinite ways to waste your time.
Don't Miss the Forest for the Trees
All that stuff is important, but way, way less important than writing a great story.
It's better to be clueless about movie deals and publication contracts when you receive an offer than to know everything about those things and never receive any. If someone really wants what you wrote, they will wait for a week or two while you do your research to make sure you're not getting ripped off.
For every hour that you waste worrying about those things and not writing, another writer somewhere is working on their draft. One day, both of your books will land in some agent's slush pile, and the agent will pick them instead.
You may have a degree in publishing law, a world-class author website and thousands of followers. Your may have your story outlined in excruciating detail and be determined to never use an adverb again, but if you never finish your draft, all that work will be useless.
Your readers want a great book. Focus on writing one first.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Radek 👋. I’m a writer, software engineer and the founder of Writing Analytics — an editor and writing tracker designed to help you beat writer’s block and create a sustainable writing routine.
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#201: How to Create a Compelling Story, June 2021
#200: Make a Commitment to Write, June 2021
#199: How to Start a Story, June 2021
#198: Can You Write a Story Right Now?, June 2021
#197: Whatever You’re Doing Can Be Fixed, May 2021