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#i swear blinked and suddenly august was almost over
a-dorin · 5 months ago
"it's not a big deal"
pairing: professor!maul x fem!reader
word count: 2.022k
warnings: alcohol use, drinking, swearing, flirting, sexual harassment, slight age gap (no romance yet), sexual tension, mentions of student/professor relationship, 18+
a/n: i do not own the gif below! this takes place between ardor and tempestuous, which are chapters one and two. also i hope y'all enjoy how hot maul is in this like i did ;)
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“how many times do i have to tell you this? professor kenobi is banging that hot political science professor. that blonde one.”
“nice word choice hardcase,” a platinum blonde snorts, bringing a cup to his lips, “i think you mean professor kenobi might be having sexual relations with professor satine.”
“isn’t she the pacifist or something?” another voice chirps, “a few of my friends have taken her classes. they’ve all said the same thing about her.”
“and that is?” the blonde arches a brow, his voice raised to a shout over the music.
“do we really have to talk about professors and class right now? shouldn’t we be celebrating our survival of the first week of classes?”
“and so she speaks!” hardcase bursts into a fit of laughter, taking another swig of his bottle, “sorry, you just hadn’t spoken in a while. i thought you went out to the dance floor or something.”
swiveling your head, your eyes dart over to the corner of the car, nose wrinkling in disgust at the sight of the mass of students, bodies pressed together, sweat plastering their bodies and clothes. why were some of them wearing jeans in august? surely they were overheated, the air muggy and thick. summer in coruscant was awful, even if the sun was well set.
the scent of alcohol and sweat hung in the air, almost clouding over your booth. shaking your head, your gaze falls on hardcase, his eyes glinting with the promise of more teasing, “i would rather not be included in the student body orgy.”
“everyone must be took drunk to care that they’re getting showered in sweat,” rex mutters, “tup, do you know what time coach buir said we had practice?”
“i think he mentioned something about weights at five,” a new voice remarks, flicking a water drop at hardcase, “that means if we leave now, we’ll all be getting about four and a half hours of sleep.”
“here we go,” hardcase lets out a dramatic sigh, rolling his eyes, “typical wolffe. always gotta ruin the fun.”
“i’m just trying to look out for your dumbass because i know you’re going to bitch about it tomorrow morning. i’d rather not run laps in the morning either for any tardiness. you know how much coach hates when we’re late,” wolffe growls, before taking a glance at his phone, “i don’t know about you guys, but i’m going to be responsible and head out now.”
beside you, rex mumbles a strand of curses under his breath, leaning his head against your shoulder, “sorry but i should probably head out too. the last thing i want is wolffe bitching and shit tomorrow. you know how he is, bein’ captain and all.”
closing your eyes, you exhale, gritting your teeth, “so you’re just going to leave me here?”
“i’ll leave my ringer on if you need me,” lips graze your temple, “hey, maybe you’ll run into that hot professor of yours. he can pick up a couple drinks for ya on his tab. i got the ones from earlier on mine. don’t worry about paying me back either.”
sliding out of the booth, you allow rex to make his way past you, “is this your ‘i’m sorry for leaving you behind on a packed night’?”
“perhaps,” the blonde shoots you a wink, patting his pocket, “again, if you need me, please don’t hesitate to call. i can come get you or pay for your uber. love you.’
“love you,” shifting your head upwards, you place a gentle kiss on rex’s cheek, “make it back safe. drink some water and take some tylenol. don’t want you feeling hungover in the morning.”
“i’m more worried about the ass-beating that’ll ensue when hardcase doesn’t show up on time,” a warm chuckle fills your ear, “see ya, bestie. make it home safe.”
“i will,” you take rex’s hand, squeezing it gently, “bye.”
“bye,” rex takes a step forward, waving a hasty goodbye before catching up with the rest of the boys, loud laughter rumbling amongst the group as they make their way towards the exit.
swallowing thickly, you slide back into the booth, fingers gripping the half-empty cup. of course they all had to leave, abandoning you on one of the busiest nights of the year. students of all ages, undergrad to grad, linger in groups, chatter filling the space as the song ended, leaving a pause before the next one started.
“you look lonely,” a voice, smooth and brassy, sounds to your right.
next to your table, stood a nautolan, drinks in hand. squeezing your cup, you blink, registering he was speaking to you, “oh -- um, uh, hi.”
“mind if i join you?”
“not at all,” you shake your head, “feel free to take a seat.”
“i’ve never seen you here before,” he states, flashing you a dazzling grin, “i’m nigel, a junior in bio. how about you?”
“oh,” you pause, biting your lower lip, “i’m just in health sciences. i’m a junior too.”
“a gorgeous girl like you doesn’t have a name?” carefully, nigel slides a cup towards you, “i talked to one bartender but another brought me my drink. somehow i ended up with two.”
cautiously, you accepted the drink, but didn’t take a sip, “thank you, but i’ve had my fair share tonight.”
which, you weren’t wrong. as you sat in the booth, you couldn’t help but feel this tingly feeling, as it rippled from your head to your toes. it was almost as if you weighed nothing, as if you were bouncy and light. a blissful sensation, really.
yet, there was this other feeling in your stomach, gnawing at you, threatening to consume you whole. the leather on the seat clung to your thighs, the temperature of the air elevating a few degrees as nigel’s eyes narrow into slits, his lips falling.
“come on, you don’t want a free drink?”
“like i said,” you clear your throat, “i’ve had my fair share tonight. i don’t want to feel it in the morning, ya know?”
“hm,” nigel hums, a hand darting across the table, finding yours, “could i interest you in something else, maybe? something like you come home with me instead, and i can offer you something other than drinks? we could have some fun, and then i could eat you for brea--”
“hey love,” suddenly, a hand falls on your shoulder, “i asked for what you wanted but they were out for the night.”
glancing upwards, your heart skips a beat at the person beside you.
warm amber eyes lock with yours, nearly glowing in the dim light, “i didn’t frighten you, did i?”
“hey,” nigel’s voice cuts in, “we’re having a conversation here, bud.”
his attention shifts, eyes hardening at the sight of the nautolan, “i was not aware that they hadn’t taken the trash out for the evening.”
“m-maul--” you begin, but you’re swiftly interrupted by his lips connecting with yours.
the kiss was brief, only a mere peck. yet, you couldn’t help but melt. his lips were soft, and gods were they so tantalizing as he pulls away, glowering over to nigel.
if only a moment could have lasted just a second longer.
“i believe you should have left the moment she expressed her disinterest in you. she can hold her own but gods you must be a fly or something. some sort of pest. leave her alone.”
nigel did not utter another word, exiting the booth promptly while you remained seated, cheeks burning hot, a fiery feeling in your chest. maul cleared his throat, lingering at your side.
“do you need someone to walk you home?”
“do you always kiss your students?”
there’s a brief exhale, the zabrak’s fingers finding your chin. he was more dressed than the last time you saw him, a light cotton tee clinging to his torso, the color complementing his tattoos. a pair of heather grey shorts hung on his hips, the cotton leaving nothing to the imagination. it helped him blend in, giving him a facade that he was just like you. a student stopping by the bar for some fun.
tilting your head upwards, you meet his gaze once more, finding it increasingly more difficult to maintain your composure as he leans in, chain nearly dangling in your face.
“i only kiss the ones who have my utmost attention.”
“how did you manage to slip in without people noticing? you’re pretty popular on campus, you know.”
“kallus lets me slip in through the back,” in the corner of your eye, there’s this shiny object.
quickly, you realize it’s a six-pack of bottles. beer bottles.
maul continues, his voice gravelly as his fingers remain on your chin, “this is the only bar in town who carries this kind of beer i like. now, is that a satisfactory explanation?”
“it’s good enough,” you’re surprised that he could hear the words your voice was so low, “you should leave.”
“not without getting you an uber first,” maul sets the six-pack on the table, pulling his phone out, “what’s your address?”
“i can make it home just fine,” you scoff, “just go already before we draw in any more unwanted attention.”
“i know you can make it home just fine,” you tense at the firm tone in his voice, “i just need to know you’ll get there safe. it’ll bring me some peace of mind. also, why are you here by yourself?”
“rex had to leave,” you mutter, fidgeting with your own phone, “just go, all right? it’s not a big deal.”
“all right,” the zabrak gives in, huffing, “i’ll see you in class on monday.”
“what if nigel recognizes you and reports you?” bringing a hand to your mouth, you feel horrible for even asking the question.
but, it needed to be said.
after all, your psychology professor conducted some very unprofessional behavior. not only in front of one student, but an entire bar full of them, no less.
“don’t worry about it,” maul places a tender hand on your shoulder, “if i do, it was worth it. i’m sure that prick was too intoxicated to even establish who i was. don’t worry about it too much, okay? i don’t want you losing sleep over your professor.”
“i lose sleep over your class anyways,” taking your cup, you finish off your drink from earlier, recoiling at the lukewarm taste.
grabbing his six-pack maul shoves his phone in his pocket, clearing his throat.
“be prepared to lose some more, love. you won’t sleep much when it comes to me. see you in class.”
“s-see you in class.”
as the zabrak slips into the crowd, weaving between all sorts of species and humans, the ambiance seems to crumble away, leaving you in the booth, mind reeling, wondering what the hell just happened.
maul, the professor from your psychology class, the one you saw at the gym, nearly half-naked, clobbering away at a punching bag, also happened to run into you at the bar, stepping in to prevent any more harassment from a very drunk nautolan. he kissed you. his lips were on yours, leaving you dazed and entranced, somehow craving more.
fingers brush your lips, and for a moment you forget that they’re your own, ghosting over the plush skin where his mouth once touched.
gods, this was only fuel to the fire, this attraction that left you yearning more and more.
yearning for him.
this wasn’t a big deal, was it? surely he would’ve done this for any other student? surely he wasn’t giving you some sort of special treatment. this was just some sort of fucked up incident. a fever dream, of sorts. gods, it sure fucking felt like one.
surely this wasn’t going to make things awkward in class. after all, you were going to see him bright and early within a matter of days. maybe he’d forget about it. maybe it was nothing.
this wasn’t a big deal. he said it wasn’t.
you were sure of one thing, though.
monday morning was going to be an interesting one, that was without a doubt.
taglist: @maulieber @galacticdream @anakinswhore @zabrak-show @justalittlecloud @hounding-around @meshlamando @fandom-gal44 @xcertaindarkthingsx @maximumninjavoid @alwayshappysith @doobiwankenooku @javierpenaspinkshirt
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applepiekyuu · 10 months ago
circus mirrors & stereo hearts
sugawara koushi x reader
this one goes out to my new friend, @twat-101 :) it’s a bit long, but I hope you still like it ! sending lotsa love your way <3
synopsis: (y/n) is struggling with her mental health so her best friend suga-san invites her over to study. general chaos and dumbassery ensues.
warnings: some swearing, mentions of mental health struggles, suga’s tone deaf singing.
word count: 4,226
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Koushi always kept his windows open. Always.
In the winter, this transformed his room into a tiny Antarctica, replete with stray snowflakes, but in the summer, it meant cool tradewinds cutting through the typically stifling heat, creating a little pocket of the ideal climate. You often found yourself there in these warmer months, perched on the corner of his bed, contently listening to him blithely gossip about his teammates or playing a giggly game of Connect Four rife with not so subtle cheating.
Today, a sunny August Saturday, was no different. Koushi sat cross legged on the carpet. Sprawled out across his pale blue comforter, which smelled of fresh linen and that familiar Old Spice he’d been wearing since the eighth grade, you listened to him recite a chapter from your history book, something about post World War II foreign policy. Struggling to remain attentive, however, you found yourself spiraling into those cheerless resignations of hopelessness that had been far too frequent for you lately.
“--which resulted in Europe’s economic recovery chiefly in terms of raw materials, food, and fuel. The Soviet Union soon attempted to replicate a similar plan but ultimately-- hey, (Y/N)?”
You blinked hard and sunk back into reality, turning onto your cheek to look Koushi in his big brown eyes full of rather matronly concern. “Hmm?”
“Do you know what we’re learning about right now?” he asked, sounding both amused and disapproving. A strand of grey fell in front of his face and he quickly blew it away, smiling slightly. “Because it seems like you’ve been zoning out for the last ten or so minutes. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, but Mr. Shishido specifically said this chapter was going to be on the test.”
“Uh… something about muzzer Roosia?” you joked with an exaggerated accent.
Koushi rolled his eyes and flicked your forehead. You yelped and glared at him reproachfully. “We were talking about the Marshall Plan. The United States’ recovery aid program for Western Europe after wartime devastation.”
“Right, right, I knew that,” you protested as Koushi tugged on your forearms and you toppled off the bed, nearly landing right on top of him. With a soft laugh, he extracted his limbs from yours and plopped his head into your lap like he used to when you were kids, resting beneath the boughs of that little oak tree in his backyard, listening to a choir of cicadas croon under a late afternoon sun. The ghost of a grin flitted over your face as you looked back on those halcyon days of your childhood. Usually Koushi’s mom would come out onto the porch with a couple of already-melting lemon popsicles in hand, and the two of you would scramble out of each other’s embrace and tear towards her, breathlessly racing for a priceless reward of sweet smiles and sticky hands.
What you wouldn’t give to go back to that time of gleeful oblivion, before your world became characterized by that all too persistent self-consciousness and excruciating anxiety. What you wouldn’t give to once again feel worthy of Koushi’s innocent adoration…
For the second time today, you shook yourself awake. Koushi gazed up at you, brows furrowed. “Sorry, what were you saying?”
“I was asking if you needed to take a little study break. Obviously, you do. I swear, your attention span gets shorter every day.” He pointed somewhere behind you. “Mind grabbing my phone? It’s on the bed.”
You leaned over as far as you could without disturbing Koushi’s position, head still nestled in your lap, and swept your hand over the covers before it bumped into his phone, which you promptly snatched and dropped onto his stomach. He gave a soft “oomph” at the impact before pulling up his Spotify and selecting a playlist, the cover of which was a selfie of the two of you at last year’s spring carnival. A blurred sakura tree provided the perfect backdrop for your smiling faces pressed cheek-to-cheek to fit in the frame. Sugar dusted the corners of Koushi’s mouth, the last trace of the powdered donut you’d shared right before.
“What’s that? I don’t think I’ve listened to that one before.” You reached for the phone, but Koushi held it out just out of reach as music began to play, batting your hand away. “I look awful in that picture; you could’ve chosen something a little more flattering.”
“Oh, shush. You looked pretty that day, wearing that blue sundress with the little flowers on the hem… blue really suits you, you know.” Koushi smiled fondly at his screen, and you blushed despite yourself. “It’s a compilation of all our songs. I listened to this a lot last summer when you were in France with your family for a month. Whenever I missed you. You were off climbing the Eiffel Tower or making croissants and I was lounging around here, bored out of my mind and wishing you were home so we could be bored together.”
“You sappy bastard,” you said, though you really felt quite touched. “I didn’t even realize we had a song.”
“Not just a song,” he corrected. “Songs. Plural. Most of the songs we’ve ever listened to together, I reckon. Anything that reminds me of you, I put on here.”
“Why in the world would you do that?” you asked, aghast at his effort.
Koushi laughed at your surprise. “You’re my best friend, (Y/N). And believe or not, you mean a lot to me. I just like remembering the stuff we’ve done together.”
You nodded slowly, letting your fingers rest on his forehead and gently play with his grey locks. His eyes closed as you settled into a brief, comfortable almost-silence, tainted only by the soft, muffled melody trickling from tiny phone speakers. You cocked your head. “What song is this?”
“You don’t remember?” Koushi asked, sounding almost offended. He turned the volume up a few notches and held the phone closer to your ear.
Let's Marvin Gaye and get it on
You got the healing that I want
Just like they say it in the song
Until the dawn, let's Marvin Gaye and get it on
“I don’t know if--” you cut off as it dawned on you. “Wait… no way. This isn’t…?”
“It is.” Koushi laughed as your face flushed a vivid crimson. “Uchimura’s party.”
Though embarrassed, you grinned, remembering that night. “The song that played at her twelfth birthday while we were in the closet during seven minutes in heaven.”
“We were way too young for that dumb game,” Koushi said with a smile, shaking his head. “God, I was so nervous. That was my first kiss, you know.”
“It was mine too,” you admitted. You remembered sitting on the carpeted floor of Uchimura’s rather cramped closet, knees touching, just barely able to see the outline of Koushi’s face illuminated by the smallest sliver of light shining through a crack in the door. He’d leaned forward, taking your hand in his own small clammy one. “It was really just a peck, though. It might not have counted.”
“It counted,” said Koushi firmly. “Whenever I get asked about my first kiss, I say it was ours. I say it was the best one I’ve ever had, too.”
You shook your head with a soft laugh. “Now, I know that’s a lie. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.”
“Neither did I,” agreed Koushi. He caught your eye, crinkling his nose cutely. “That’s what made it so sweet. It was innocent. I tasted your bubblegum chapstick on my lips afterwards.”
“Bubblegum chapstick, huh?” You rolled your eyes and poked him softly in the ribs. “I couldn’t look you straight in the eyes for like three weeks after that.”
“I remember. You kept running away whenever I tried to talk to you.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m not sure we would’ve even stayed friends if Ms. Miyato hadn’t partnered us up for the volcano project at the end of that month.” You recalled those afternoons spent in Koushi’s kitchen, newspapers covering every visible surface and a huge, paper-mache volcano resting on the dining table, splattered with orange and yellow paint and smelling strongly of Elmer’s glue and vinegar. Oftentimes, work sessions would dissolve into paint fights, staining your school uniforms with small, colorful hand prints.
“Nah,” said Koushi confidently. “I wouldn’t have let you go that easily.”
“Maybe you should’ve,” you said under your breath.
Koushi stared at you for a second, sighing. Then he reached up to grasp your hand, interlocking his fingers with yours and softly stroking his thumb across your palm. “You know, it was Uchimura’s eighteenth last weekend. You didn’t come.”
“Yeah. I had to study.” That was a lie. You just hadn’t thought anyone really wanted you there. Uchimura had been a friend of yours for years, but she had plenty of other friends to celebrate with. Probably didn’t even notice you weren’t there…
“She asked me where you were,” Koushi continued. “I said I didn’t know because you didn’t answer my texts that night.”
“Sorry,” you said quietly, avoiding eye contact. “Studying.”
“On a Friday night?” You didn’t answer, and Koushi squeezed your hand. “I had to choose Daichi for my charades partner… do you have any idea how shit he is at charades? He flopped on the ground and started convulsing, so I guessed ‘epilepsy.’ Guess what the word really was.”
“Orgasm. The word was orgasm. You’d think he could just execute a simple pelvic thrust and make a face, but no, he had to go ahead and act like my great uncle Kaito when he had that heart attack at his ninety-fifth birthday last year.”
You cracked a small smile, imagining Daichi violently wiggling on the floor like a fish out of water. “Sounds like I missed out, then.”
“You really did,” said Koushi, eyes twinkling. He suddenly got solemn. “I missed you. Would’ve been a million times more fun with you there.”
“I doubt it.” You fiddled with the edge of your shirt, smile fading. “I can be a real killjoy sometimes.”
“Not to me,” said Koushi. “Whenever you walk into the room, suddenly that’s the only room I wanna be in.”
Your breath caught in your throat and you swallowed thickly. “Koushi… why are you telling me this?”
“You’ve been avoiding me,” he said simply. He took your hand again, the one that had been playing with his hair, and held it to his chest. You felt his heart beat erratically beneath your palm. “You’ve been avoiding all our friends in general.”
“That’s not true,” you protested, though your heart sank. He had noticed. You wished you didn’t have to drag him into all your problems. “I’ve just been busy.”
“Busy with what, (Y/N)? Homework? Our physics teacher came and talked to me at my locker after school, asking if you’ve been struggling with any personal issues, because apparently you haven’t been turning in your assignments.” Koushi glanced up at you. “It seems like you’ve just been locked away in your room whenever you’re not in class. Not doing work, not going out. Remember a couple weeks ago, when I asked if you wanted to go see that movie with me at the drive-in? You said you had a family dinner in town, but later I passed by on my bike and your bedroom light was on. And today, it took four separate phone calls before you finally picked up and I managed to invite you over… I’ve been worried.”
“Maybe I’m just changing,” you protested weakly. “That’s a thing that happens. People change.”
“I agree, you have been changing. Just not for the better.” Koushi squeezed your hand again, his skin warm on your own. “I haven’t seen you smile, really smile, for ages. You’re always faking these days. What’s going on?”
“I…” you trailed off, trying to think of some excuse. The last thing you wanted was for Koushi to see what was really going on inside your head.
“The truth, (Y/N).”
You relented, shoulders sagging. “Just been tired, I guess.”
“Tired of what?”
“Tired of…” Your eyes grew moist despite your best efforts and you fought to keep from choking on the sob rising up your throat.
“Tired of…?” he pressed on, eyebrow raised.
Your next words tumbled out in a rush. “Just tired of being me, okay? It’s like… it’s just like, whenever I look in the mirror… I don’t like what I see. I don’t like myself, so I don’t want to be me anymore. I’m so tired of it. And I feel like everyone else is, too. Everyone is tired of my shit, so I thought I’d just do you all a favor and disappear.”
Your words stunned Koushi into silence. He remained resting in your lap for a few long seconds before he felt something hot and wet roll down his cheek. A tear. But not his own.
He looked up just in time for another one of your tears to land on his face, right underneath his eye. Quickly, he sat up and tenderly cupped your face in his hands, gently brushing the tears away with his thumbs. “Oh, (Y/N)... c’mere. That’s such bullshit.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” you hiccupped as he pulled you into his lap by your waist-- facing him-- and gingerly tucked your head into the crook of his neck. “I’m sorry you have to see me like this. It’s gross, I know.”
“It’s not gross,” said Koushi, fiercely hugging you to his chest. “It’s much better than watching you try to pretend like you’re fine. I don’t care if your snot gets on my shirt-- that’s a small price to pay. So long as I can be there for you right now.”
You cried harder, immense guilt racking your body at his inexplicable kindness. “I’ve been treating you terribly these past few months, but you’re still so good to me. Goddamnit, Koushi. I don’t deserve you.”
Koushi pulled you back by the shoulders, narrowed eyes searching your face, though tears continued to stream down your cheeks. “(Y/N). You don’t have to earn my love.”
“I-- love?” you asked, eyes wide. You snatched a tissue from Koushi’s bedside table and blew your nose loudly.
“Yeah,” he said firmly, without missing a beat. “I said it. I love you. And don’t ask if I mean in a friend way or a girlfriend way, because the answer is neither. I love you like you’re the person I wanna spend the rest of my life with. I don’t care if that means as, like, your husband or just as your best friend. Whatever I can get, I’m happy with, because I love you like you’re a part of me. Unconditionally. I thought you knew that.”
“Please, don’t say that,” you sobbed, covering your face with your hands. “I’m not good enough for you. I’m really not.”
Koushi pulled your hands away so he could look you in the eye. “What don't you understand about the term ‘unconditional love’? It’s unconditional. There is literally nothing you nor anyone else can say or do to change that. Unconditional love is not a feeling, it’s a choice, and I’ve made that choice. I’ve had nearly two decades to think about it, so now I’m telling you I will love you no matter what. I always have, alright? This isn’t exactly how I wanted to say it, but it’s true.”
You stared at him, disbelieving. You hadn’t known he’d felt this way. Of course, you two had been partners-in-crime your entire lives, and you couldn’t count the number of times he’d materialized at your side as soon as you were in the slightest bit of trouble. Whenever you were a dollar short at the canteen, he’d stuff a five in your hand and push you towards the front of the line. That time you went camping with his family and you forgot your sleeping bag, he’d given you his and spent the night shivering. He always carried an extra pen for you because yours often inexplicably ran out of ink in the middle of a test. He’d been there for every crush, boyfriend, and breakup, cheering you on and drying your tears when the time came. He’d been there when your pet dog died and you planned a funeral in your backyard, complete with a little cardboard headstone, holding an umbrella above your head when it began to rain but you weren’t done mourning. He’d just always been there when you needed him.
You’d tried to be there for him, too, because, as you had begun to realize, his pain was your pain and vice versa. That time when you were six and he’d lost his favorite stuffed animal (a giraffe) it had felt like you’d lost yours too. That day in junior high when he fell out of the oak tree trying to retrieve a stray frisbee and broke his arm, you swore you felt the same pain in yours. Last year when he got dumped outside the gym on Valentine’s Day and you found him sitting in a corner, trying to hide the fact he’d obviously been crying-- you’d stayed late to crack stupid jokes and eat the chocolate he meant to give to his girlfriend, because he deserved a girl who would eat the damn chocolate. Not stomp on his heart and leave it to bleed. I love you like you’re a part of me. You understood.
“It’s okay to not be okay sometimes, but it’s not okay to bundle it all up and bury it deep inside when you have someone right next to you wanting to help you bear that burden.” Koushi’s voice shook just slightly. “It just… it hurts to see you like this, okay? (Y/N), if you love me back, then let me help you. Let me be there for you. Please.”
You were silent for a moment, staring into his pleading eyes. Those beautiful brown eyes.
Then you took a deep breath and started laughing through the tears. You were sure you looked insane, puffy eyes, red nose, and mascara running down your cheeks, but it didn’t matter. “I do. I love you, too. I love you. I didn’t know I loved you before, but now I do, because if you were torn away from me that heartbreak would probably kill me. No, it would definitely kill me. And it would hurt like a motherfucker while it did.”
Koushi let out the breath he’d been holding then, after a brief pause, began to laugh with you as you laced your arms around the back of your neck. “Oh, yeah? Well, losing you would probably hurt like a father-fucker to me.”
“Is that worse than a motherfucker?” you asked, giggling at the ridiculousness of it all. Here you were, bawling on the floor of your best friend’s room while you confessed your love to one another and cussed each other out at the same time.
“For sure. It’s a million times worse than a motherfucker. It’s like, if something hurting like a motherfucker is the equivalent of getting shot by a Nerf gun, something hurting like a fatherfucker probably feels like getting run over by a tank.” Koushi intertwined his fingers with yours yet again and smiled.
“You’re a dumbass,” you said, but you laughed anyways as Koushi looked proud of himself.
“I know,” he said softly, affectionately. “But I’m your dumbass.”
You sighed and shook your head. “I’d love you to be. But you could still do so much better than me--”
“Will you stop saying that, already?” Koushi took your face in his hand, stroking his thumb right beneath your eye. “You’re the most radiant person I’ve ever met. Notice how I didn’t say ‘beautiful’ because the word beautiful doesn’t even begin to cover it. Although you are that, too.”
“Oh, goodness. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-- you’re so sappy.”
Koushi rolled his eyes with a smile. “Yeah, I am. You like it though.”
“You caught me,” you said as he leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to your forehead. You leaned into it, savoring the warmth of his lips on your skin. “I do.”
“But really, (Y/N),” he said seriously. “It astounds me that you don’t realize that.”
“Don’t realize what?”
“That you’re cool! You’re so cool and fun and awesome. And a zillion other adjectives I could sit here and list out for hours. You’re the only person who can make me laugh when I cry, and you make the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted, and you’re a literal god at Mario Kart, and you’ve got the prettiest eyes I’ve ever had the privilege to look into.” You flushed as Koushi thought for a moment, chewing on his lip before his eyes widened. “It’s kinda like a circus mirror, I think.”
“What?” You furrowed your brow.
“The way you see yourself is like someone looking into one of those circus mirrors. It makes you look too tall, or really squished, or just bent out of shape in general. And if that was the only mirror you’d ever looked into, you’d probably think that ugly, distorted reflection is how you actually look in real life. You can’t see yourself for how amazing you really are-- but everyone else can.”
“Well, aren’t you just full of relevant analogies today?” you teased. A circus mirror. Now that was something new. You had to give Koushi credit for the comparison-- it actually did kind of make sense.
“What can I say?” he said, puffing out his chest. “I’m a poet.”
“So I guess that would make you my real mirror then?” you offered shyly. Koushi looked confused for a second. “If the way I see myself is supposedly ‘distorted,’ then you can reflect to me how I supposedly really am.”
“Oh, yes!” he said happily. “I’m the mirror. I like that. Quit talking like you don’t believe me, though. You’re incredible. A little thick-skulled sometimes, yes, but incredible nonetheless.”
“It’s going to be hard for me,” you said quietly, gently running a hand through his hair. “Really hard. I haven’t liked myself for a long time.”
“I know. I know. But someday, you’ll be able to understand what a beautiful human being you are. I’m sure of it. I need you to promise you won’t give up until that happens.”
He held out his pinky for a pinky swear, something you two did frequently as children. You smiled and laced your pinky with his. “Alright. I promise.”
“Good.” Koushi stood up, brushed the wrinkles from his pants, and offered you his hand. You took it and he pulled you up. “Listen. Do you remember this song?”
His little playlist had been playing this entire time. You hadn’t noticed. You strained to catch the lyrics. “Turn it up a little, I can’t quite hear.”
...a stereo
It beats for you, so listen close
Hear my thoughts in every note
“Koushi.” A slow smile spread across your face. “Tell me this isn’t Stereo Hearts.”
“Oh, this is Stereo Hearts alright!” he responded gleefully. He took your hand and spun you around like a ballroom dancer, catching you before you tripped over his bedside table. “You remember when we--”
“When we performed it at the junior high talent show and got booed off the stage?” You giggled, remembering that awful night that was somehow hilarious in retrospect. “I still have nightmares about that.”
Koushi continued to swing you around in some sort of clumsy dance, pulling you this way and that while you laughed wildly. “It’s ‘cause you were such a shit singer.”
You gasped in mock offense. “No way! You’re a much worse singer than I am. At least I can carry a tune.”
Koushi just rolled his eyes and grabbed a hairbrush from his shelf, using it like a microphone. He sat you down on the edge of the bed and began to serenade you in his terrible, tone-deaf manner.
Make me your radio
Turn me up when you feel low
This melody was meant for you
Just sing along to my stereo
“God, you really do suck at this,” you said, but he just smiled and kept singing. You had to admit, it was sweet. As silly as the memory associated with the song was, it remained a nostalgic favorite even now. You had to join in a few times, just for memory’s sake.
I only pray you never leave me behind
Because good music can be so hard to find
Koushi sat down next to you and wound one arm around your waist, leaning close.
I take your hand and pull it closer to mine
Thought love was dead, but now you're changing my mind
You turned and leaned in too, nearly touching noses.
“Hey,” he said in an almost whisper. “(Y/N) (L/N), I love you.”
“Hey,” you whispered back, gaze flitting down to his lips and back up again. “I love you, too, you sappy bastard.” sing along to my stereo
“I know.” He closed the remaining inch of distance. Your hand tangled itself in his hair while his tugged your body a little closer.
The kiss was almost as good as the one in Uchimura’s closet all those years ago. Almost.
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penaltbox · a year ago
flights, fate, and football games (4+1) - quinn hughes
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*or 4 times you were in the same place and didn’t know it + 1 time you were in the same place on purpose*
if you like it let me know :) reblog it, send me a message, leave your thoughts in the tags. thanks in advance!
word count: ~3k
Same restaurant/Post playoffs 
You wave at your two best friends as soon as you enter the restaurant, surprisingly being the one who was late this time. You hit more traffic than you expected, but Pop’s was not to be missed. 
The little Ferndale restaurant was one of your favorites and you needed the time to wind down after the crazy week you’d had. You hear a guy’s voice behind you talking to the suddenly excited hostess as you walk past her to get to your table, but never glance back at who it might have been. 
“Wow, for once we aren’t the late ones,” Abby smiles, nudging Hannah with her elbow.
“Oh, aren’t you guys funny,” you roll your eyes playfully, but take a seat with them, “it wasn’t my fault though. Traffic was insane on the highway. It’s like everyone forgot how to drive at once.”
“I hit some traffic too, no worries,” Hannah smiles, glancing over your shoulder, “did you somehow miss those super cute boys that came in behind you though? The one was so your type.”
Your eyes widen a little as you turn around to quickly survey the area you’d just come from. There’s no one waiting at the front of the restaurant though, so you turn back with a frown. 
“I mean, I heard a guy’s voice as I walked in but I didn’t think to look back at him. Why? Was he really that cute?” You ask, looking around the restaurant to see if you could find who she was talking about. 
Abby sighs, “I can’t see where they went either but Hannah and I noticed them as soon as you got here. We should have got you to turn around somehow.”
You shrug, checking over the menu and deciding between a pizza or the bolognese instead, “I guess if I was supposed to have seen him then I would have.”
You would have looked around for him more but the waiter showed up and you were dying to get your hands on a glass of wine to start your weekend off. 
“Quinn, I swear if you don’t start talking to cute girls when you see them I’ll end your career,” Will points across the table. 
Josh holds his hands up and laughs, “guys, come on. We all know Quinn isn’t smooth enough to seal the deal anyways.”
This gets the other two laughing, but Quinn doesn’t find it as humorous. He rolls his eyes and tries to fight off a smile. He opts for focusing his attention extra carefully on the menu rather than fueling the fire that was already started. 
“Hey, by the end of summer you never know. Maybe you’ll be able to land a girl. It might take a small miracle, but we’ll help you out if we can,” Will grins, thinking it’s the funniest thing in the world. 
“Great,” Quinn nods, thinking matchmaker Will sounded like a living nightmare, “I’m sure that would go well.”
He tries to brush it off, but the thought lingers a little longer. He’d find someone one of these days. His mom always told him he shouldn’t rush a good thing. It would happen when it was supposed to. 
Your brother’s hockey practice/Early June
“I swear to god, Adam, you need to get moving,” you mumble, watching your brother get beat in yet another drill. 
The air inside USA arena was definitely colder than outside and you were wondering how you’d managed to get stuck picking him up that night. He seemed off though so maybe he’d asked your mom if you’d get him. Sometimes he needed to talk, and definitely not to your parents. 
The whistle blows loudly and you watch your little brother skate off with his head down. He’d been lucky to make the U17’s but you could tell he was struggling. It made your heart hurt and you knew the drive home would involve the long route that day. 
You wait in the lobby, responding to your group chat that had somehow blown up while you watched the end of the practice. You’re in the middle of a message when an oddly familiar voice catches your attention.
You pick up your head and look around just as a group of guys head down the stairs to the locker rooms. You don’t manage to see any of them but something about the voice you’d heard seemed to catch your attention for some reason. Where had you heard that voice before?
Adam comes barreling out of the doors, an annoyed look on his face, “let’s go.”
“Hi to you too, asshole,” you scoff, but the look on his face matches the tone he’d given you. Something was wrong. 
You grab your keys and walk out of the arena, glancing over at your only sibling, “Adam, what’s wrong? Wasn’t there another practice after that you wanted to watch or something?”
“No, some alumni guys rented the ice next and pushed the 18’s back an hour,” he mumbles, his hands dug down in his pockets. 
You reach over and ruffle his hair, despite the fact he’s well taller than you now, “come on, we’re getting ice cream before we get home. And you can tell me what’s got you so worked up on the way.”
A smile takes over his face finally as he reaches your car, “okay fine. So there’s this girl in my chem class but she’s dating a football player.”
“Ew,” you laugh, playing along with the story, “also if you’re playing like shit because you’re mad that a girl you like is taken then I’m kicking your ass”.
“Hey, it was one bad practice. Just don’t tell dad,” he looks over, “surprised you didn’t want to stay and watch the next practice though. You know it’s the guys who went on to play college and pros and stuff right?”
You almost smack him when you see how smug he looks, but you hold off for once, “the last thing I need is some trouble maker hockey player to deal with. I already have you.”
“Suit yourself. Every girl I know loves Hughes though,” he shrugs. 
The name sounds familiar but you don’t think twice about it for some reason. Of course you wanted a boyfriend but you weren’t sure you wanted your younger brother setting that up for you. 
“Try not to suck tonight, okay?” Jack laughs, shrugging his bag a little higher on his shoulder as he picks on his older brother. 
Quinn laughs and shoves him sideways, “try not to get run over. Are you gonna put any weight on this summer, bud?”
“You’re both getting lapped,” Alex interjects, walking between the two and entering the arena first. 
Quinn notices you leaning against the wall in the lobby and does a double take. Had he seen you before? Why did you seem so familiar? You had to be waiting for someone if you were there, he knew the 17’s had the ice, so maybe you were younger than he thought. 
He shakes off the odd feeling he gets from seeing you and turns to find his brother grinning. Quinn knows he’s been caught staring and he immediately bumps Jack into the wall. 
“Don’t even think about it!” He says, hurrying down the stairs as Alex holds the door. 
“I’m just saying!” Jack yells after his older brother, “I could go play wingman for you!”
Quinn thinks that sounds like the worst thing ever, if he’s being honest. The last thing he needs is to rely on his brother to set him up. He could see that going wrong in a million different ways. 
The airport/pre-4th of July
You sigh, slouching down in your seat a little further as you take a sip of your coffee. You wish your anxiety didn’t have you at the airport almost two hours before takeoff, but here you were. 
You watch a few planes take off, ignoring your surroundings for a little while as you wonder where the people might be going and why. You respond to a text from your aunt in Boston, who you were going to visit, and quickly get lost in your thoughts again. 
You let your eyes start to wander after a bit and they land on a cute boy a few rows over. He’s sitting with a few other boys around his age and you glance over at their gate. New Hampshire? What was even in New Hampshire? 
You watch him for a few more minutes, but shake your head before looking back out the window. You certainly weren’t brave enough to go talk to him and you didn’t want to get caught staring. Something about him seemed so familiar but you brush it off, figuring you were just imagining things. 
Quinn drops his backpack and sits heavily into the creaky airport chair, arguing with Luke about what they’d do first when they got to the cabin. There was no winning the argument but Luke liked to be a pest and Quinn had learned from being gone so much that sometimes he just needed to let his little brother bug him while he could. 
Airports were so boring and he’d luckily stalled enough that his parents didn’t have them all there three hours early for once. Quinn lets Luke “win” the argument finally, agreeing that they’ll go on the boat as soon as they get there. 
Quinn’s attention wanders and he looks around the airport, his eyes seeming to focus on the gate heading for Boston. His eyebrows pull together as he tries to squint and see the line of people boarding. He swears he sees a familiar face but he’s not so sure. 
There’s no way it was the same person he saw at the arena a few weeks ago, right? He blinks hard and suddenly he’s hit with a water bottle in the chest. 
“Dude are you good?” Jack questions him, waving a hand in front of the older boy’s face. 
Quinn looks at his brother quickly before checking where you’d been standing, only to find you’d already boarded the plane, “yeah, knock it off. Can’t you leave me alone for like five minutes ever?”
Quinn is mildly annoyed that his brother pulled the stunt when he did and he’d lost sight of you before he could be sure. Maybe you were from Boston and you were headed home. That wouldn’t explain why you were at USA arena unless your brother played there, too. 
He turns to Luke then, elbowing the youngest Hughes to get his attention, “do you play with any kids from Boston?”
Ann Arbor/football game/late August
You laugh as you try and keep up with Abby and Hannah, excited for one last year at the school that held your heart. You were convinced you could never leave Ann Arbor and luckily for one more year you didn’t have to. 
The weather was perfect that night as the first football game was set to kickoff in no time but the three of you had left a pregame a bit later than you planned for. You’re being rushed through the crowd by Hannah, who has a tight hold on your hand, when Abby suddenly veers off. 
“Hold on, I need to say hi to him!” She yells over her shoulder, causing Hannah to stop in her tracks and you to slam into her back. 
The two of you stumble a little but fix yourself, standing and watching where Abby had run off to. She moves to a group of guys and your stomach turns a little with worry, hoping she actually knew who these people were. 
You’re about to march over when you see the boy. The one from the airport. You shake your head a little, trying to make sure you weren’t imagining what you were seeing, but he really is there. Abby is talking to his friends and he’s got a soft smile that makes you want to know more about him. He’s not as outspoken as his friends and his hands are stuffed in his pockets like he’s not sure what else to do with them. 
Hannah catches you staring and laughs, “that’s Quinn by the way. I know you’re looking. Abby met those boys a couple months ago while she did her classes on campus. Can you believe they’re the ones we saw at Pop’s at the beginning of the summer?”
“They’re who?” You ask, your brain speeding through the memories, but all that keeps coming up is Quinn. 
Pop’s, the airport, and now here. Was he the guy from the rink too? Was that the voice you’d recognized. There was no way you’d been in all the same places for the last three months and never talked to each other or actually truly met. What kind of fate was playing around with you two?
You glance back over at Quinn only to find him looking at you, too. Your cheeks feel instantly hot and you bite your lip, looking away quickly. You hated that you reacted so quickly to something so simple. Maybe he was looking at Hannah, you tried to reason with yourself. Or maybe he recognized you too. 
Quinn is shocked when a bouncy little blonde runs up to Josh and says hello to him. She’s happy as can be and Quinn would be lying if he said she wasn’t cute. She quickly introduces herself and motions back at her friends, talking a mile a minute, when Quinn realizes he’d definitely met her earlier that summer. 
Her and her friends were going to the game but if the boys wanted to hang out after they’d be having a small party at their place and they were more than welcome to come. Quinn gives Josh a little nod when the taller boy checks with him for plans and Josh smiles at the girl he’d been talking about for weeks now. 
Quinn looks around the crowd of maize and blue, looking for the friends she’d mentioned, and his eyes freeze on one in particular. You’re so familiar in that moment and suddenly you’re the prettiest girl he sees there. It was the same feeling as the rink, the airport, and now here in Ann Arbor. What were the chances that he’d ran into you this many times but never talked to you? 
He sees you and your friend watching in their direction and he catches your eye. You blush and bite your lip, making him smile right away. That had to be the cutest thing he’d seen in a long time. He forgets that Abby has mentioned her friends and he’s about to walk over and talk to you when Josh grabs his arm. 
“Come on, we have to go this way to get to the field,” Josh says, nodding in the opposite direction of the girls. 
Quinn is about to argue, but sighs instead, “yeah, okay. Did you say we’re seeing them again later?”
+1 Your friends set you up/late August/post football game
“You wouldn’t stop staring at him. Don’t even try and lie about it now!” Hannah accuses, pointing her finger at you. 
You feel like you’re dying of embarrassment and Abby can’t stand up straight because of how hard she’s laughing over the situation. You were being bullied by your best friends and none of you could contain your laughter over it all. There were more than a few people watching the scene as you made your way around the field, trying to find which section your tickets were for. 
“Stop, I don’t even know him!” You say, though it’s only a partial lie. 
Abby snorts a little and carefully wipes a tear away from the corner of her eye, “holy shit, my stomach hurts from laughing so hard. Yeah, Quinn is awkward as hell but I think you two would be amazing so you’re definitely meeting him tonight.”
She’s quick to pull out her phone and text Josh, already making a plan with him to get you and Quinn cornered in the same area. You can’t fight her on this. Once Abby set her mind to something it was going to happen so you were just along for the ride at this point. 
The football game goes by too fast considering it was the last first game of the season you’d ever get as an undergrad, but the three of you are in such good moods that you hardly have time to be sad about it. 
You leave the game a few minutes early to try and beat some of the crowds as you head back for the house you all shared. You almost forget the boys are coming over as you head to the kitchen and grab a drink. You figured you had a little while before they’d show anyways. 
Popping the top of your can, you take a big drink and sigh. You hear Abby’s little giggle behind you and you whip around confused. You’re suddenly face to face with Quinn and you immediately blush in embarrassment. 
“Uh, hi,” you stutter, giving him a little smile even though you wish the ground would open up and swallow you whole. 
“Hi,” he says, and you know immediately that he was the one you’d almost run into so many times that summer. 
His smile is just as nervous as yours and you get why Abby had called him awkward before. He fidgets with his hands as he stands in front of you but it’s endearing somehow. He’s not overly cocky or trying to impress you somehow and yet you’re completely on board with getting to know him. 
He’s a stranger, technically, but he feels so familiar that you laugh a little. Quinn’s eyebrows furrow over the noise but he doesn’t actually ask. 
“Sorry, it’s just… did you want a drink or something?” you offer, trying to keep yourself from getting giddy over having him in front of you after all the months of fate making sure you dodged each other. 
His smile gets bigger then and he seems to relax, “yeah, that sounds good. Maybe I could steal you too and get to know you? If you want anyways.”
You nod, not hiding your smile anymore, “I think I’d really like that. It’s nice to finally meet you.”
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adhd-disaster-willie · 8 months ago
seventeen and strung out on confusion; chapter 4/4
chapter 1
chapter 2
chapter 3
Warnings: mentions of homophobia, swearing
Alex coming out to Julie! I’ve been daydreaming about this chapter since I started the fic because dammit I need some Julie in here. okay. I hope you like it!
August (?) 2020
Alex would’ve liked to say that he thought it couldn’t get weirder than dying, becoming a ghost, being seen by Julie -and by association… everyone-. But anxiety does this fun little thing where it makes you run over and nitpick at every possible and impossible scenario until you’ve sent yourself into an endless spiral of possibilities and what if’s and suddenly you’ve been pacing for 2 hours and your mouth is dry from all the rambling you’ve done. So Alex knew it could get weirder, and he had a very long list of exactly how it could get weirder; a list which Luke and Reggie had heard about a dozen too many times. However, being chased down by an evil soul-stealing ghost in sparkly capes with their only hope for being saved being Alex’s not-boyfriend hijacking a bus to get them the gig at the Orpheum that would hopefully make them cross over? That was not on his list.
And y’know what else was not on his list for whatever reason? Coming out to Julie. Because apparently, his brain had skipped over the fact that she didn’t know until it was looming before him and screaming in his face: She doesn’t know you’re gay?! Why didn’t you tell her?! She’s gonna kick you out of the garage and laugh when Caleb steals your soul!!!! Right, it’d probably be good to explain exactly why Alex was being sent into this particular panic.
“So-” Luke leaned forward, grinning. “Willie’s gonna hijack the opening band’s bus, so that-”
“Wait a minute, back up.” Julie waved her hands, interrupting him. “Who’s Willie?”
“Oh!” Reggie piped up. “Willie is Alex’s ghost boyf-”
“Alex’s ghost friend.” Luke slapped a hand over Reggie’s mouth, eyes wide. He jerked his head in Alex’s direction, who was sitting frozen on the couch beside Reggie, and then plastered a grin on his face to look back at Julie.
Reggie nodded, realization taking hold, and mouthed a quick sorry at Alex. Alex blinked himself out of his reverie and smiled shakily back. This was fine. Julie was looking at the three boys skeptically and he was sure that she was getting ready to push and prod until Alex broke and-
“Okay, so Alex’s ghost… friend is gonna hijack the other band’s bus,” Julie gave a tight-lipped smile. “And then what?”
Alex blinked. He dug his nails into his palms, waiting for Julie to say something about Reggie’s slip up, but nothing came and the conversation continued, Luke reciting the plan until it fully sunk in, and Julie nodding along like nothing had happened. Okay.  
Everyone began to file out of the studio, but Alex had been too lost in his thoughts to know why or where they were going. He leaned back on the couch and exhaled shakily, shutting his eyes tight.
It’s not like he had never wondered if the future was more accepting. Of course he had. But he hadn’t quite begun to process that it was an actual possibility. Back home… or 25 years ago, Alex corrected himself, coming out meant alienating yourself from half the people you care about and most of the ones you don’t. Alex’s parents hated him, his grandparents had never been allowed to even know, and for all he knew, Angie had been brainwashed to believe that he was a monster. And that’s not to mention the dirty looks and slurs tossed at him by anyone who even had an inkling that he was gay. So it was difficult to imagine that things had gotten better in 25 years, and that he could tell Julie and have her not bat an eye. Because Luke, Reggie, and Bobby had accepted him unconditionally, but that was rare. Most of the people he’d come out to either hated him, asked him a slew of inappropriate questions, or couldn’t look at him without pity overriding their features.
Alex’s head snapped up, turning to face Julie, who was standing in the entrance of the studio looking at him pitifully. Of course. Ok, he could deal with this. It was better than being kicked out. Fine.
“Yea?” Alex finally stammered, swallowing past the dryness in his throat.. “I just came to get my laptop, we’re gonna watch Netflix,” she hesitated. “Are you alright? You kinda zoned out the last 10 minutes of that conversation. And you were looking at the floor like it was gonna bite you.”
Alex chuckled weakly at the last comment. “Yeah, no, I’m fine.” He smiled up at her to prove his alleged fine-ness. Julie raised an eyebrow.
“Ok, you are not fine.” Julie sat down beside him.
“Julie… I’m okay, go watch your netflakes.”
“First of all, it’s Netflix. Also, when I said we I meant all four of us. I’m not gonna watch tv with those idiots while you sit alone in the studio spiraling.” Julie scooted closer to him, her eyebrows knitted in worry. She sighed softly before clasping her hands together in her lap and staring downwards. “I know… I know this sucks. This whole thing sucks so much. But we should enjoy the time we have. And yes that’s hypocritical of me considering I holed up in my room alone when I found out. But-” -she nudged Alex and laughed softly- “I’m not gonna let you sit here moping while Luke makes me watch Back to the Future.”
Alex smiled bittersweetly. He was sure his heart could be heard a hundred miles away and fuck why were his palms so sweaty? He began fiddling with the strap of his fannypack. Julie raised her eyebrows. Of course she already knew all his nervous ticks. Because Julie knows everything; he was starting to think that Reggie wasn’t so far off with the witch thing because no one should ever be that good at reading people.
“That’s not what’s bothering me,” Alex admitted, his voice quivering. He was really gonna do this. Fuck, ok then.
Julie nodded, allowing him to continue.
“It’s about, uh…” He closed his eyes and exhaled, counting as he did. “It’s about what Reggie said, kind of.” He looked over, assessing Julie’s reaction. She gave him an encouraging smile.
Alex clenched his fists to try and stop them from trembling. “I-” Come on Alex, you can’t turn back now, just get it over with. “I’m gay.” He almost poofed out right then and there. He felt completely frozen, and if being ghost didn’t already make him feel floaty and not feel, this certainly did. He was milliseconds from leaving when Julie launched herself forward, wrapping her arms around Alex
“Thank you for telling me, Alex. Thank you for trusting me,” she murmured into his hoodie. When she pulled away, they were both smiling and Alex felt a weight lift off his shoulders that he hadn’t even noticed had been hanging around since he appeared in the garage.
“Well, I guess now’s a good a time as any,” Julie said, taking a deep breath.
“A good time for…”
“I’m bisexual.” Julie smiled brightly and let out a breath.
“Oh,” Alex’s brow furrowed for a moment, but perked up just as swiftly. “That’s the one with the pink purple and blue!” He said proudly. “Willie told me.” The last part was laced with a pink blush that Julie thankfully chose to ignore.
“Yeah!” Julie grinned. She gave him a high five and laughed.
“Thank you for telling me Jules,” Alex said, repeating what she’d just told him.
Julie nodded and squeezed his hand. She stood up, pulling Alex up with her.
“Aw, c’mon I was comfy,” Alex whined.
Julie gave him a stern look. “Alex, if we sat for even 10 seconds longer, Luke would come barging in convinced I was dead and you like, fainted from a panic attack or something.”
“Yea, he would,” Alex sighed reluctantly. “Your punishment for making me stand up is listening to Luke pause Back to the Future every 5 seconds to tell us all his theories that we’ve heard a hundred times.”
“But I haven’t heard them,” Julie pouted, a smile breaking through her expression as she pulled the studio doors open and began walking towards the house.
“No. No, do not say that when he’s in the room, you’ll only encourage him.”
A beat of silence passed, but not an uncomfortable one, Alex noted.
“So… you wanna tell me about this ghost boyfriend of yours?” Julie teased, wiggling her eyebrows and giggling.
Alex flushed crimson. “He is not my boyfriend!”
Aaaand we’re done. I need to stop writing multichapter things because I suck at them askajshdsk. I hope that you liked this fic though! Feedback is highly appreciated.
Taglist: @stars-soph @thatsmyverb
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underalavendersky · a year ago
I didn’t dare you to make out!! HC
Sero,Todoroki,Bakugo who are playing truth and dare and are dared to kiss there crush in front of everybody and end up having a small make out session but is cut off because of the whole class watching. Thanks! love your writing btw @spookynekoz​
type: fluff + a bit... steamy? if I dare say
a/n: first time writing sero so sorry if he’s ooc. and yes, I did use an otter for his emoji bc they didn’t have tape and I like otters :)
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let me set the scene for you 
it’s a nice august night: the outdoors had went from a sweat-endorsing 95 degrees to a relaxing, but annoyingly humid, 76. The fireflies are visible from where you sit on the sofa and the moon’s light gently reflects off the window
surrounded by your friends--aka, class 1-A (minus Mineta, who had become a bit too pervy for you to consider a friend)--you can’t help but wonder how the night can get any better
as a congratulations for completing your junior year of high school, Aizawa had managed to persuade the school into letting your class take a ‘school trip’
’school trip’, as in, going down to the shore
the class rented a nice beach house and, while the girls took the top floor, the boys were stuck on the main floor, under the watchful eye of Aizawa
anyway, it was your last night here and everybody was getting a bit... anxious?
Mina had somehow managed to smuggle some alcohol into her suitcase and a few of your classmates, and you (if you drink), had had your fair share of sips and glasses
nobody was drunk, however
at the most, someone was tipsy because you’re all responsible and know that drinking uncontrollably and with the intent of blacking out is not safe 
it was getting close to eleven thirty when the idea escaped Momo’s tired lips
“Why don’t we play Truth or Dare?” Momo’s tranquil voice interrupted the sleepy silence that had fallen over the class. You perked up at the idea, slowly shifting out from where you were resting against Katsuki. 
Even though nothing had ever been said between the two of you, everybody knew there was something there. 
“That sounds fun,” You agreed, rolling your shoulders and letting out a relieved sigh as the sound of your bones cracking echoed throughout the room. 
Slowly, your friends seemed to shake off their own sleepiness and murmurs of agreement rustled around the room. 
Katsuki grunted as he shifted so that you were pressed against his chest, and you sighed, completely content with the warmth that was radiating off of him
even though it was pretty humid outside, the house had been cranked so that the AC was blasting
honestly, everyone was a bit cold... even Shouto
as everyone settled down into their spots, getting comfortable, Momo quickly explained the rules, bring out out an empty beer bottle and placing it in the middle of the circle you all had formed
the rules were simple; if the bottle landed on you, you were asked either ‘truth’ or ‘dare’. If you picked dare and you didn’t go through with it, you had to go through with an embarrassing/gross challenge instead (i.e. taking a shot of hot sauce or streaking down the beach). The same went for truth
Uraraka was the first person the bottle landed on and she had been a blushing mess when she decided to go with a ‘truth’ question
“Truth,” Uraraka’s voice wavered as she answered the unspoken question, and Momo smirked at the younger girl. 
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life with Izuku?” Momo asked, her eyes sharpening as she eagerly awaited the answer. Uraraka, on the other hand, let out a sharp ‘eep’ before burrowing her face in her boyfriend’s shoulder--whose face was almost as red as her.
“Yes,” She quietly admitted, and the class cackled
by the time the eighth spin had come and gone, you were still awaiting the bottle to land on you 
not gonna lie, you were getting a bit annoyed 
just as the bottle wobbled to a stop, the tip shaking between landing neither you or Katuski, you leaned forward 
much to your disappointment, it landed on Katsuki
or were you even disappointed to begin with
Of course, he picked dare 
“Oh, Bakugo~” Your eyes widened as Momo’s grin turned a bit sadistic. She had been dying to get you and Katuski to confess to each other but each time she got the two of you even close, something always ended distracting either you or Katsuki.
“Just give me the fucking dare already,” Katsuki growled, acting as though he were being forced against his will to participate
Momo’s eyes narrowed, her grin growing 
“I dare you to kiss your crush,” She smirked, and you honestly felt your heart explode as your face darkened with a deep flush. 
There was no way she just said that. 
Katsuki seemed to have done a double take at her words, his face blanching for a hot second
“Okay,” He shrugged. 
You watched in the complete awe as Katsuki turned to you and placed his index finger under your chin, his thumb on your chin, as he angled your head up. 
Soft lips, although a tad cracked and roughed, pressed against yours. 
were you in heaven~~~~~
Katsuki’s lips moved against yours with a dominant gentleness
you nearly lost your mind when you felt his tongue swipe against your lower lip, a sharp gasp escaping your lips and he took that opportunity to slip his tongue into your mouth
the two of you fought for dominance, Katsuki seemed to favor nipping and sucking on your lower lip, but, in the end, you let him win
you smiled, completely and utterly content with everything that was happening. And to think, it was all because of a dare--
you tore yourself away from Katsuki, suddenly remember that the two of you were very much so in a public place
Katsuki was pretty smug, wrapping his arm possessively around your waist
and that’s the story of how Momo go the two of you together
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ah, shouto todoroki~~~~ now, where do I start
it had been after a long day of training. Aizawa had gone hard on the class of 1-A, knowing that there was the last year before you all were to graduate
it had become a habit for you guys to all meet up in the common room around seven to relax together, hang out, and just spend time together 
anyway, you had gone to your dorm to clean up
let’s just say you were hella sweaty
and were walking down the stairs with Mina and Tsuya 
the three of you were bonding over how much you hated Mineta’s growth spirt. He was just hitting 6′1
but~~ to your relief, and surprise, the conversation turned to how Shouto was one of the tallest kids in class. He was almost at 6′3 and, even though he had stopped growing, you were pretty sure that nobody (i.e. Kirishima, Bakugo, Sero, Deku, Mineta, Denki, Tokoyami ), was going to be able to beat him
“It’s so weird though,” Mina exclaimed as the three of you walked down the second floor hallway and towards the common room, “I swear, it’s like all the guys took these growth spirt pills and BOOM! They’re giants!” 
“Yeah,” You hummed in agreement, “I guess I’m gonna miss the days where I towered over Shouto.” 
Mina laughed, “Y/n, you never towered over him. In fact, you have to be one of the shortest people in the class.” 
you denied that fact
upon entering the common room, you quickly dispersed from your friends and headed over to where Shouto was sitting
sliding next to him, you were gently curled up next to him, ignoring the small smile that crossed his lips when he saw you
you pressed yourself happily against his right side, enjoying the coolness against your warm body
it had honestly been like this since the end of your sophomore year
the two of you just... clicked. It was like Yin and Yang 
the class still seemed pretty riled up from today--as in, everybody seemed exceptionally chipper and happy--and Mina decided to take this opportunity to throw out her burning desire
“Let’s play truth or dare!”
automatically, the whole class wanted to do it and, soon enough, they were all settled down in a circle
luckily, neither you or Shouto had to move
you were quite pleased with this 
highkey you were incredibly lazy
Mina set an empty soda bottle in the middle of the circle before explaining the rules
the rules were simple; if the bottle landed on you, you were asked either ‘truth’ or ‘dare’. If you picked dare and you didn’t go through with it, you had to go through with an embarrassing/gross challenge instead (i.e. taking a shot of hot sauce or streaking down the hall). The same went for truth
the first spin made you cackle with glee
Bakugo glared at the bottle as though it had offended him in the worst possible way
“Truth or dare,” Mina grinned, and Bakugo rolled his eyes, making you roll yours. He was acting as though he was being forced to babysit a bunch of rabid children.
“Dare,” He grunted, causing Mina’s grin to grow into a smirk.
“I dare you to tell us if you truly do hate Deku.”
“What the FUCK?!” Bakugo screeched, his eyes narrowing as he glared at the pink girl, “That’s the shittiest fucking dare I’ve ever heard--”
let’s just say that Bakugo ended up have to prank call Present Mic and act like a crazed fangirl
he also forgot to make it an anonymous call
but oh well
your eyes, however, widened in surprise when the bottle landed on Shouto
he, on the other hand, seemed perfectly fine with this
“Okay, Todoroki,” Bakugo smirked, “Truth or Dare?” 
“Dare,” Shouto answered with ease, his face remaining passive an unreadable... an action that seemed to anger Bakugo even more.
“I fucking dare you to kiss the prettiest girl in this goddamn room,” Bakugo hissed as dark, scheming energy practically radiated from him. 
“Okay,” Shouto blinked. 
before you knew it, BAM, Shouto’s lips were pressed against yours
it surprised you that they were pretty cold, almost as though they were controlled by his left side, and you hummed happily at the feeling
you felt Shouto hesitate and you froze, thinking that he was uncomfortable, before you felt his tongue run against your lower lip
without question, you opened your mouth to him
surprisingly, there was no fight for dominance, the two of you equally exploring each other and taking your time...
your eyes snapped open and you gently pushed Shouto away from you, your face burning as you felt your classmates stare at the two of you: some in awe, some in horror, and some in confusion
you were ignoring Mineta crying in the background
“I knew it!” Mina cheered, and you buried your face into Shouto’s chest 
it was a great way to start your senior year 
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Sero and you had been a team since you were in diapers
your moms’ had been best friends and forced the two of you to spend a ridiculous amount of time together
you knew him like the back of your hand
he knew you like the back of his
anyway, it was the summer before your senior year and the class of 1-A had decided to do a massive sleepover at Izuku’s house
Shinsou had been invited instead of Mineta 
you were relaxing against Sero, your hand running lazily through your hair as Toru rested against you
the class and settled down around nine to watch a horror movie and, while half the class seemed to hate it, the other half seemed to enjoy it
you were barely paying attention
“Why don’t we play a game or something?” You voiced, your face remaining passive as your friends turned to look at you. 
“Sure,” Uraraka chirped after a few moments of silence, “I think it would be fun!” 
slowly, the class came to an agreement that they wanted to play a game instead of finishing the movie
the new problem was figuring out which game to play 
“Why not Truth or Dare?” Kirishima offered and, immediately, it was a hit 
the rules were simple; if the bottle landed on you, you were asked either ‘truth’ or ‘dare’. If you picked dare and you didn’t go through with it, you had to go through with an embarrassing/gross challenge instead (i.e. taking a shot of hot sauce or streaking down the beach). The same went for truth
grabbing an empty water bottle from the table, Kirishima spun it and you leaned forward, watching intently and hoping the bottle would stop on Sero
oddly enough, your wish had came true
“Oh,” Kirishima’s shark-like grin seemed almost vicious, “Sero, Truth or Dare?” 
“Definitely dare,” Sero smiled, sitting up and causing your to shift so that your head was now relaxing against his arm.
“I dare you,” Kirishima’s eyes glinted with an unspoken excitement, “To kiss your crush.”
you blanched
it had occurred to you, for the first time, that you had no idea who Sero’s crush was
or that he even had a crush
“Easy,” Sero grinned, before turning to you and cupping your cheek.
your heart soared as his soft lips connected with yours and you wondered if this was why he was so insistent on wearing chapstick
it was clumsy and awkward, but it perfectly defined your relationship because it felt, well, familiar
your brows shot up your forehead as you felt Sero’s tongue brush against your lower lip 
teasingly, you opened your mouth just a smidge
not enough for him to get in, but enough for him to know you felt it
however, your plan backfired when Sero bit down gently on your lower lip, causing you to gasp and allowing him the opportunity to slip his tongue in
your tongues danced around one another and you couldn’t stop the hum of content from escaping
but you froze suddenly, remembering where you were and what was going on
pulling back, your face burned a dark red as you felt your classmates gazes
“Get it, Sero!” Kirishima cheered, breaking the awkward silence.
weirdly enough, your moms’ wishes came true
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oh-for-fic-sake · a year ago
Your Best Idea
Summary: Napolen returns to a happily drunk wife!
This was wrote for the challenge posted by @cavillanche​ I asked to do prompt 10. Your drunk aren't you? For Napoleon. So this isnt technically smutty but risqué I really really hope that it still counts and can be in the challenge but if not I understand...Either way I do hope you all enjoy it this is my first time posting a Napoleon fic sofeeback would be appreciated
Warnings:Risqué, Swearing
Taglist: @two-unbeatable-beaters​ @thatgirly81​ @angelofthorr @iloveyouyen​ @sofiebstar​ @thefangirlsblog​ @harrysthiccthighss​ @loserrlauraa​ @tumblnewby @cheeseman​ @isitmine​ @tinabean37​
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This was the best idea you ever had. Ever. Well okay to begin with maybe not sneaking out here with Napoleon, that bit had been a bad spare of the moment decision that had ruffled his feathers. But dammit four nearly five years of marriage and he still owed you a honeymoon! Desperate times call for Desperate measures.  And how the bloody hell were you meant to know it would be so damn hot! Or that he'd be to busy for you...Right okay so you knew Turkey in august would be warm not this brutal forty degrees and up bullshit!
And in a way it was his faut, he said it was a basic mission 'nothing to worry about'  yeah turns out this itty bitty mission that 'wasnt even dangerou' was in fact him helping to bring down a fucking terrorist organisation in Turkey...Not that you'd known that at the time, all you knew is he was going to Turkey and you'd be stuck at home once again! No you were going and spending time with him fuck u.n.c.l.e he was their agent but he was your husband. 
Things hadn't turned out well he yelled at you and he'd  grounded you to the hotel suite. But it was hot as balls even in here so you had to come up with a plan and it wasn't half bad? A few large swigs of wine and you'd come up with this idea....If you couldn't go use the pool you'd make one yourself! And here you were laying in a half filled bath ,cool water in your cotton playsuit.Yes brilliant.
"Your drunk arent you?"
"Oh fuck mee! Jesus you nearly gave me a fucking heart attack!" You squeaked loud and proud into the straw your lips encompassed spinning around in the tub wine bottle in hand to face the doorway where the dissaproving tone had come from. The man your husband had as usual come out of nowhere and was leaning on the doorframe eyeing your form. 
There you were his beautiful wife in the bath fully dressed in a cotton playsuit he'd got you for your birthday a few weeks ago. It was clear you had been laying back relaxing in the tub before he came in. Cheeks flushed eyes looking a typically drowsy yet alive look, you'd obviously been drinking for a while....Or not. He summarised eyes locking onto the straw just peeking over the bottle opening. So that explains it, you were getting yourself drunk quicker that way.
You pouted at him farrowing your brows as he crossed his arms over his chest. You grunted cutely and made a show of angrily sucking another long glug of the sweet expensive wine up the straw swallowing. Then shrugged and turned back to your book covered in a clear zip lock bag. That had been a good idea at the time but you now realised through the buzz of the wine you couldn't turn the pages, so had just re-read the lines again and again. 
You lounged back in the ridiculously large tub that sat in the hotel suite you were confined to by the handsome scowling man that was lindering by the door. You began chewing the straw vaguely wondering if he was angry about you gettin drunk or not. He had told you to be ready for anything...But you were thirsty and bored getting drunk solves both those issues! Two birds and one very expensive stone.
"Alice?...How long have you been drinking that swill- scratch that why are you in the bath with your clothes on?" You eyed him sucking another large gulp of wine then whined as the tiny bit of straw fell into the bottle and you could no longer reach it. It almost brought tears to your eye's but then you brushed it off tipping the bottle up. Bottoms up . He sighed and moved across the small space polished leather shoes hitting the tiled floor in decisive steps.
You panicked knowing he was going to take the bottle away, so like a toddler who'd just been asked 'what have you got in your mouth?' You chugged as much as you could. Seeing this he swore and moved faster Once standing at the side of the deep tub he held out his hands and somehow managed to pry the nearly empty bottle from your hands as you still tried necking the rest of it.
He wasn't bothered by you drinking in the tub so much as concerned that you'd end up choking on the straw. Well that was a lie he was irritated he had told you to stay alert this was a highly dangerous mission you'd snuck away on with him and he needed you to be ready to get out of here at the drop of a hat...He needed you to have your witts about you. He eyed you again almost cracking under your now sour gaze, you did look sweet he always thought you looked cute angry and pouting. But this time you were tipsy to adding another layer to the overwhelmingly precious image. You getting this drunk this quick was the straws doing he doubted the wine would have effected you if you'd been drinking from a glass...Where the fuck did you get the straw anyway? He pulled the bottle to his nose out of curiosity and sniffed then grimanced pulling it away sharply. 
"How much of this shit did you drink? Honestly love this smells foul if your set on getting drunk atleast drink a decent wine" he said moving stretching out an arm placing it on the counter by the his andnhers sink that the swanky hotel provided.
"It was watery and wet and I was thirsty!" You huffed sticking your nose in the air choosing not to answer anymore then that.He sighed at you watching as your face grew brighted and you got more docile... The wine was really doing a number on you smelt like shit but was apparently effective...He might have to get some brought in after all. You turned to him slowly he expected a pout or for you to start trying to wiggle your way out of trouble; which was not going to happen but no, instead you smiled a drunk lazy smile up at him eyeing his form, wow that blue suit looked good~ it'd be better on the floor. You tipped your head back.
"Hey gorgeous you come here often?~" you leant back and giggled out of the side of your mouth and ducked down letting your shouldes sink into the water. He rolled his eyes, you were definitely drunk the cheesy pick up lines were the final nail in he proverbial coffin. He shifted on his feet and blinked slowly seeing your face light up another comment brewing already. 
"Whats a man like you doing in a bathroom like this?~" that was it he panicked making to grab you as you sunk further mouth slipping under the waters cool surface blowing bubbles. He shook his head at your antics not sure if he found them amusing or if he was still to annoyed at you for your sneaking out here with him and pulling this shit.
"What even is this? Lambrini? And why are you drinking from a straw?" He said moving twisting the bottle with his fingertips as if reluctant to touch the wine. Your eyes widened and you kicked off the bottom of the tub with your toes, sending yourself sliding up its slanted end splashing a torrent of water over the floor pouting indignantly before speaking.
"How dare you?! Its not lambrini! It's...Something I...I can't remember but its not lambrini! and I have a straw cos im a classy bitch" You cried out motioneing for him to give it back but he shook his head tutting at you. 
"Yes I see that, a classy little lady getting dunk in the bath tub finishing a bottle with a straw~...Where did you get the straw? why do you have a straw, drink it from a glass like everyone else love..." he asked placing the bottle on the side of the sink and turned back to you for an awnser.
"Straws get you drunk quicker...So it saves money" You shrugged chewing your bottom lip then sent him a dreamy look as Napoleon rolled his sleeves up  god you loved it when he did that...You dont know why but you loved his arms and hands. He moved and sat on the side of the tub sighing trying to look annoyed but a small smirk was on his lips, he was very amused by you now that his initial summarize was gone. He placed the tips of his fingers in the water shaking his head as he finally figured out why you were in the tub fully clothed. You were trying to cool down, the waster was a cool luke warm. You never were one for the heat so t made sense.
"Money? oh god do I want to know how much that foul wine has cost me?" you shrugged at him pouting which looked all the more sweeter on your wine induced flush on your cheeks. You wriggled in the water trying to avoid his gaze and pretend to read you book but he snatched it and threw it in the sink you whined even drunk you knew he wouldn't be happy with the three hundred dollar price tag.
"Alice? How much has it cost me to come back to find you drunk?" His voice dropped an octive and you felt a little guilty. You just hoped you looked cut enough to get away with it.
"" his brows shot up and he shook his head in disbelief you wouldn't look at him you were playing with the waters surface looking guilty. So he had  definitely heard you right. He quickly leaned over the tub one hand on each side of the porcelain trapping you below him in the water. And ducked down to your eye level.
"Three hundred dollars? On wine I wouldn't feed our fucking dog?!" you gave him a comical look as if he had offended you and huffed at him
"Thats irresponsible" he frowned for a moment blinking what? you agreed with him? That was new, normally you argued.
"Yes it was my love very irresponsible! You never ever spend that on wine unless I've tasted it love-" Napoleon was cut short as you shook your head laughing at him holding your tummy.
"Not that...The dog...It'd be a waste of wine" he took a breath as you suddenly burst out laughing loud slipping down in the tub he managed to grasp your biceps and sit you up which you pouted and whined at him for feeling the muggy heat in the room engulf your pleasantly cool form.
"Leon...I don't think I needed a straw~" you said then rolled about the tub in his arms laughing and giggling as the last few swigs of wine registered and you fell into a giggleing fit barely catching your breath.
"Yes thats quite obvious dear, your tickled pink~" he smiled and laughed with you slowly standing and crouching over you following helping you stay above the water as you laid back into it. He blinked his eyes as you splashed droplets up as his face lightly in your uncoordinated movements. he stayed there for a few seconds not wanting you to go under, you didn't like being underwater. Not after nearly drowning as a kid. He removed his hands slowly easing himself away. He wanted to be angry over the wines price tag but he just couldn't stay mad at his cute wife hicupping in the bath far from sober. He smirked you definitely looked quite appealing maybe he could turn this around? Get a little something whilst you wasnt sulking about beingGrounded... No point in wasting a perfectly good hotel stay...And you did want a honeymoon, who was he to deny you the experience.
"Hmm love it doesn't seem safe to be drunk in the bath tub so I must insist I join you"  he said suggestivly moving to loosen the buttons on his shirt. You smiled at him leaning over the side of the bath kneeling up high fluttering your lashes and crooking a finger to him intiving him to lean down expecting a kiss. It was only when he was a breath away you bit your lip holding back a giggle.
"No leave~" You sat back down with a large splash sending a wave of water at him giggles echoing arounf the room as he jumped back trying to avoid the water. He growled at you and stepped forwad again throwing his hands up.
"What? why my love? Its hot ,Im hot!" He stopped when you slid back into the water rocking he water again another splash signalling you were succeeding in flooring the room.
"Exactly!" You cried through your laughter eyeing him with a cheeky smile he frowned at you confused giving a small huh? 
"I want a cool bath duh!" you stated stifeling your chuckles biting the inside of your cheeks a he stood up straight.
"And that means I cant join you why exactly?" He didn't follow, you were drunk...But not paroletic. You should be making sense still...Not talking nonsense. You looked up at him smirking as he wathed your tongue poke out wetting your bottom lip.
"I'm hot enough on my own...But you? If you got in here you hot enough to make the water boil~" you said managing to keep a straight face for all of two seconds then threw your head back in hysterics sinking into the water again letting the now cold water lap across your sill Warm form. Napoleon sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose then peaked an eye was you twitching slightly. He wanted to laugh along with you from just how bad that one had been. He shook his head and crouched by the tub as you calmed down wiping tears from your eyes pointing at him. He hung his head the  was struck by an idea and stood up giving you bedroom eyes. Oh hell! what was he going to do with you?
"Would you like some crackers?" He asked his voice was light and head a playfull tone that genuine and rare. Now it was your turn to frown at him blinking fast at him. 
"Some wha?..." He smirked and tutted looking down tugging his tie looser he eyed you from the top of his eyes and winked. As you gulped. Oh no this was backfiring somehow.
"I-err don't get it...L-leon?" You swallowed eyeing his suggestive smirk wearily as he looped the tie up over his head letting the expensive silk drop unceremoniously to the floor. He grinned showing off his pearly teeth taking a step forward getting ready to kick off his shoes.
"Oh come on~ you know crackers, to go with that very cheesey line~" there was a small thud followed by another as he rid himself of his shoes he didnt even cringe as his socked feet stood in the puddle of water. In fact he looked relieved as his foot hit the cold water.
"Oh! Its to damn hot for your dicking about!!....Stop it! Leon no its to hot stop!!" You argued fanning yourself gulping and panting. You couldnt help it he was giving you a strip tease and you wasnt exactly hating it. Your mouth opened wider and wider as ou followed his lithe fingers popping the buttons on his shirt.
"But the water will cool us down~ besides I do owe a certain little lady a honeymoon, theres no time like the present~" you cursed under your breath as he quickly rid himself of his shirt and smiled he knew he had you already.
"So what do you say Mrs Solo?" He said moving closer hands resting on his belt a single digit running acro the buckle teasingly. You swallowed eyes folloeing the finger. Oh god yes! Youd not indulged in a while...Your mouth opened and closed a few times trying to find the words. He broke the trnce with a chuckle then quickly spun around making to leave.
"If not I can just go and take care of myself-"he stopped hearing you slosh abput in the water panicking sending another splash of water over the side
"NO NO NO! LEON I MEAN...YES?...Yes Come back come back!...Maybe?...No definitely get your little tushy in here....But only if you promise to honeymoon me!!" he scoffed twisting aound seeing you'd gotton ourself into a delicious little state, haphazardly shrugged your playsuit down your chest letting it hang at your waist one hand was trying to slip it over your ass to kick it off completly but in your indesposed state you couldn't manage it. He tilted his head back smirking and unbuckled his belt.
"Having some trouble there babe? Want me to help?" He teased and pulled the belt off in one swoop making a show of it. You flinched somthing about watching him shuck it from the belt loops so easily made you hot all over again blood burning in your veins and the wine hold on you receded as you became thirsty all over again but for your husband. He dropped the leather belt to the floor with the growing pile.
"It'll be worth it love~" he added enjoying having your full attention as your eyes followed his fingers undoing his trousers letting the blue fabric land at his feet and stepped out of them. Oh sweet jesus. You Gulped and took a breath somehow managing to find some words.
"Y-you promise?" You asked dryly licking at your lips again unable to stop looking at his exposed chest he was hot~ in more ways then one he was covered in a thin sheen of sweat, it doesnt surprize you he'd been out in the suit all day. He tipped his head to you and saluted.
"Scouts honour" he wniked tucking his thumbs into the waist band of his boxers but you waved your hands in the air and blinked at him. What?
"Wait what? You were a scout?" You asked him suddenly intrigued he'd never let that one slip before. He shrugged then smirked at you a cheeky grin.
"No but...It felt appropriate...Now shuffle over woman" he said finally droping his boxers as a big finale making you gasp as he lowered himself into the water sighing as he submerged himself in the cool water relaxing then moved forward pulling your playsuit completely off then looked around the room and gowled.
"What?" You asked wondering if you'd done somehing wrong.
"I left the wine on the sink!" You threw your head back laughing again at the man.Who looked less than impressed it seemed like he was going to steal a leaf from your book. You leaned over him and kissed his lips sweetly.
"Awe my poor baby~" you cooed and gave him another soft kiss. This was the definitely the best  idea you'd ever had.
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wiypt-writes · 8 months ago
Stark Spangled Banner
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Ch26: The Only One In Colour
Summary: Mr Anthony Stark requests the pleasure of your company at the wedding of his little sister, Katie Marie Stark to Captain Steven Grant Rogers…
Warnings: Bad language, Fluff, Smut! (NSFW, Under 18s) Bad Language words, a hungover Captain…and who is that lurking in the shadows??
Pairing: Steve Rogers x OFC Katie Stark
A/N: The big day is finally here. And I ADORE this edit from @angrybirdcr. Lots of visuals in this chapter and it’s a REALLY long one- like 10k words long- but, well, IT’S THEIR WEDDING!
Disclaimer: This is a pure work of fiction and classified as 18+. Please respect this and do not read if you are underage. I do not own any characters in this series bar Katie Stark and the other OCs. By reading beyond this point you understand and accept the terms of this disclaimer.
Chapter 25
Stark Spangled Banner Masterlist // Main Masterlist
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 31st August 2015.
It took Katie a while to realise where she was when she woke. As her mind came to, she realised she was in her apartment at the tower, and when her eyes flew to the dress in its cover which was hanging up in the open closet, her stomach did a flip.
It was her wedding day!
“Good Morning Miss Stark.” FRIDAY spoke, and Katie grinned. 
Miss Stark…not for much longer!
“Miss Potts requested I inform her when you are awake…”
“Inform away.” She smiled, and jumped out of bed, grinning at the reflection of her tacky ‘Bride’ short and vest Pyjamas that the girls had surprised her with last night when they had been sat around having their pamper session with several glasses of champagne. Making her way into the living room, she was greeted by a loud squeal from Wanda, who along with Laura Barton had stayed in her apartment last night. Considering the amount of champagne that had been drunk, they all had surprisingly clear heads. It wasn’t long before Pepper and Nat arrived, and after a breakfast of fruit, pastries and croissants provided by the local bakery, Katie was ushered into the shower surprised at how calm she actually felt…
The boys, however, were faring a little worse, especially after Tony had cracked open a bottle of his dad’s vintage scotch which he had been saving for a special occasion and Thor had supplied Steve with copious amounts of that lethal Asgardian liquor along with some equally as potent Asgardian Ale. The Groom cracked one eye open and groaned when he realised he had passed out, fully clothed, on the sofa, Tony led flat out along the other side of it, drooling into the cushions.
Steve looked round, Clint was on the large arm chair in the corner of the room, Sam was sprawled face down on the large rug and Thor nowhere to be seen. Jesus Christ it had been a heavy one.
Of all the days to get his first hangover in over seventy years…his wedding morning.
His wedding morning. Shit.
Sitting up, a stupid grin on his face, headache forgotten he nudged Tony with his foot. The billionaire jerked and tumbled off the side of the sofa.
“Whassgoin on?” He looked around, blinking, before he grimaced. “Shit, my head…”
Clint let out a groan from the chair.  “Keep it down man…”
Sam let out an equally pained noise, not moving. “What day is it?” “My wedding day, fellas.” Steve grinned.
Tony groaned again, leaning back against the sofa “How are you so sprightly, Old Man?” “Trust me I’m not.” Steve shook his head, standing up “But Katie will kill me if we turn up like this.”
“Coffee.” Clint yawned, swaying slightly as he got to his feet. “We need coffee…” “And food.” Sam mumbled into the rug
“Good job I organised some.” Tony looked at his watch, squinting. “Should be arriving soon.” “Where’s Thor?” Clint suddenly asked as he glanced around.
“Here.” came the god’s deep voice as he strolled into the room. He was already dressed in a pair of jeans, t-shirt and his hair was damp from the shower
“How are you so alive, Thunder boy?” Sam sighed, sitting up.
“Like you just said, Bird Man.” Thor beamed round at them all. “I am the God of Thunder.” ******
Two hours later, Pepper was bustling around topping everyone’s Champagne up and when she reached Katie she gave her smile. “You ok?”
“Yeah.” She beamed back. “Maybe a little nervous, but mostly excited. I can’t believe I’m finally here. It feels like we’ve been waiting for this for so long.”
Pepper gently squeezed her hand. “Yeah. Tony has been on the job making sure the tent is right. The Caterers have arrived. And I got a full blow by blow as he was nearly having had a fit when the alcohol and bar were an entire four minutes and thirty-four seconds late.” “I thought organisation was your job?” Nat quipped from where she was lounging in a chair, dressed in her light blue ‘Bridesmaid’ robe.
“It is.” Pepper rolled her eyes. “And I told him it would be okay but, well, he just want everything to be right.” Katie rolled her eyes, a fond little smile playing on her lips at the thought of her brother still trying to make sure she was happy. “Where is he now?”
“He spent the night with the boys at the compound so he’ll be on his way back shortly to get changed. Apparently they sat outside at the compound with a bottle of whiskey and a few cigars and there are some sore heads this morning” Pepper smirked. “Even Steve is feeling it.”
Katie grinned, she’d only seen drunk Steve a handful of times, and Drunk Rogers was definitely one of her favourite Steves to see.
Wanda shook her head. “What is it about men and cigars?”
Natasha shrugged. “I like cigars.”
“What a surprise.” Laura grinned, earning herself a glare off the red head. They were cut off then by FRIDAY informing them that the stylists had arrived. Pepper told her to send them up and suddenly the room was filled with people, greetings being shared and Pepper organising everyone into their places as she did ever so efficiently.
And then, it was down to business. The Hairstylist, Franco, knew exactly what Katie wanted as she’d had a rehearsal and he set about, sweeping her brunette locks up into the up-do she’d picked- a bun sporting a few small braids running from her crown and round into the hair set at the nape of her neck. Loose tendrils of dark brunette fell forward around her cheeks, the whole thing set perfectly to frame her pretty face.
Time seemed to fly as one by one they exchanged places and moved around, and soon enough Katie was then in front of the make-up artist.
“Don’t worry about a thing,” The tiny blonde in front of her said as Katie quietly asked her to do her best to cover the scars by her mouth and temple, small reminders of what she’d been through at the hands of HYDRA. “You’re going to look perfect. I promise.”
Another glass of champagne made it into Katie’s hand and thirty minutes later she was done and handed a mirror. Her mouth dropped open. She’d had her make-up professionally done more times than she cared to remember but something about this was different. Someone else, but yet, still her glanced back. She had a light, neutral shade across her eye lids, which had a darker colour in the crease and a hit of sparkle. The contouring across her sculptured cheek bones was amazing, yet subtle, as the highlighter sweeping up and out caught the light perfectly, and the nude gloss on her lips set everything off.
And her scars were gone.
She swallowed and turned to the woman, smiling. “It’s perfect, thank you.”
Before the woman could reply, there was another announcement from FRIDAY about a delivery, and Katie glanced around and Pepper.
“What did you order?”
“That’s not me, I swear.” Pepper shook her head.
“I’ll go.” Nat offered, “I’m done here now.”
She headed out of the room and Katie stood up to allow Pepper to sit down for the make-up artist in the seat next to where Wanda was sat having the finishing touches done to her face. She looked amazing, dark smoky eye-shadow set off her eyes and red locks perfectly.
Natasha arrived back, a smirk on her face as she carried a simply huge bouquet of flowers which were tied with a blue ribbon and sat in a clear bag of water, a small Cartier bag also hanging from her hands.
“For the Bride.” She drawled, and Katie took the bouquet, smiling, not even needing to read the card to know who they were from.
“They’re from Steve.”
“How do you know?” Laura frowned. “They’re the ones in my tattoo.” She explained as she placed them gently on the kitchen area of her Tower Apartment admiring the various lilies, daisies and greenery set into the arrangements. “My favourite flowers.”
She picked the card out of the bouquet, spotting Steve’s looping scrawl straight away.
I can’t wait to make you Mrs Rogers, Sweetheart. See you at the Alter. All my love,  now and forever, Steve xxx
“That’s disgustingly cute.” Laura groaned, reading the card over Katie’s shoulder as she grinned at the simple yet meaningful message.
“That’s my Soldier all over.” Katie smiled before she opened the bag. She pulled out the small box and opened it, her mouth falling open at the beautiful drop earrings inside. They were roughly two inches long, chains of small diamond and white gold stars which glinted in the light.
“Star Spangled Man, huh?” Nat smirked and Katie turned to her grinning.
And suddenly the excitement washed over her. This was happening. Actually happening.
“Shit!” Katie wheeled round as her stomach started to flip “Oh my God, I’m getting married!”
**** Steve finished brushing off his shoes which were polished that much he could almost see his face in them. With a groan as the pain in his head had once again reared, damned that fucking Asgardian shit, he slipped them on and laced them up and then turned his attention to his hair. Once he had finally got it to lie how he wanted, it was time for his tie.
He hadn’t taken the decision to wear his army uniform lightly. It had been one he had agonised over for ages, but after Katie had told him it was entirely his choice but he should stay true to who he was, he’d realised that before Captain America, he’d been Steve Rogers, and all he had ever wanted was to be in the army. So he was going to be Captain Rogers today, who he was. 
There was a knock on the bedroom door and Sam walked in, already in his uniform. Steve smiled at him in the mirror before expertly tying the double-Windsor and turning round.
“Got the rings?” Sam asked. Steve nodded to the two boxes sat on the dresser which contained their bands. Picking them up, Sam slid them into his breast pockets, fastening the buttons.
“Nervous?” He asked and Steve considered the question for a second.
Was he?
“Kinda.” He admitted with a slight pop of his shoulder. “I don’t wanna mess up my vows, but I’m not nervous about marrying her, nothing has ever felt more right, Sam.”
Sam smiled and swept the man up into a bro-hug, clapping his back. “Tony’s heading off to the tower now. The tent  is ready, waiters are here setting the tables. It’s all going to plan.” “Maybe for once it might stay that way.” Steve sighed and Sam chuckled.
“How’s the head?”
Steve let out a small groan. “Pounding. As best man, I’m holding you totally responsible.”
Sam shrugged “Wouldn’t be the worst thing I’ve been blamed for.”
Steve snorted.
“You know what you need?” Sam looked at him. “A leveller.” “A what?”
“Another drink, hair of the dog that bit you and all that…”
At the mere thought Steve’s stomach lurched and he shook his head. “The fuck I do.”
“Trust me.” Sam grinned, as he left the bedroom. “It never fails. How do you think I’ve just cured mine?” Steve followed him into the living room where a photographer was there taking snaps, Thor loudly asking what he was doing. Sam hastily explained, placating the god who was already in his Asgardian dress. Steve paused, looking at him for a second. Instead of the silver and red everyone was used to seeing him in, his robes were a glittering white lined with gold piping, his cape was deep blue and his hair was well groomed.
“Wow, Thor.”
“Traditional Asgardian formal dress.” Thor grinned, turning to Steve. “Little Stark’s request, which reminds me.” He jerked his head signalling for the Captain to follow him. Frowning slightly, Steve obliged, and the men stepped outside onto the patio area.
“Little Stark is very dear to me.” Thor began. “But she is your intended, so I thought it only right to ask your permission to give something to her.”
“Okay.” Steve frowned, a little puzzled.
“I have a headdress.” Thor explained, “It belonged to my mother and has been passed down the line for years. I would very much like to offer it to her to wear today.” Steve smiled, the man’s care for his girl was genuinely something he liked. He was a good man to have onside, and his intentions were always honourable. “She’ll love that.” Steve nodded. Thor shook his hand and held out his other, Steve just getting out of the way in time to avoid being flattened as Mjolnir flew into it with the familiar metallic swoosh, followed by a slap as the leather handle hit the god’s large palm. With a nod to the Captain, and a promise to be back shortly, he took off.
Pepper and Natasha looked stunning in their pale blue bridesmaid dresses. Knee length, skater style with off the shoulder straps. Laura’s dress was also blue, but a dark shade peplum style with a slit up the side and Wanda’s was slightly more grungy, almost 50s style, navy blue with polka-dots and a large, puffy skirt.
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All four of them looked amazing and Katie told them so, beaming, before Pepper informed her it was time to get into her dress. In a daze Katie headed into the bedroom and taking a deep breath she peeled herself out of her robe as Pepper set the dress ready, and Katie stepped into it. She pulled it up, holding it in place as Pepper’s fingers deftly fastened up the buttons, before she smoothed down and fluffed out the skirt. Katie stepped into her heels, took a glance in the mirror and felt the tears prick her eyes.
“Don’t…” Pepper instructed, handing her a tissue from a box on the side, one which she had clearly bought, prepared to the very end “You’ll set me off, and there’s gonna be enough of that when Tony sees you.” “Where is he?” Katie asked, tissue gently dabbing at her eyes.
“Just getting into his suit.” Pepper smiled. “He won’t be long. Okay, you ready?”
Taking a deep, steadying breath, Katie nodded and the two of them made their way out of the bedroom and into the hall. The photographer that had been taking photos all morning was waiting, snapping away, capturing, she hoped, the look on the girls faces as for the first time ever she saw Natasha’s eyes watering over.
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“Shit, Nova.” Nat’s hand flew to her mouth. “Wow.” Katie grinned at her, and was about to answer when the elevator door slid open.
"I’m looking for the one wearing white.” A familiar voice teased as Tony stepped into the apartment, making Katie turn to face him. He stopped dead, his eyes widening.
“Oh Kiddo, you look incredible.”  he whispered, swallowing slightly as his deep brown eyes sparkled, his face curling into a gently smile.
“Thank you, so do you.” Katie gestured to the charcoal suit and light blue Stock Tie he was wearing. Tony took the glass of champagne that Pepper handed to him but, before he could say anything else, another person stepped into the apartment.
A tall, large blonde God dressed in gold and white Asgardian armour beamed at Katie as her mouth fell open.
“Thor?” She looked at him, surprise on her face as he strode across the room to wrap his arms around her.
“Little Stark, you look beautiful.” He smiled down at her. “The Captain is a lucky man indeed.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I cannot stop long I just wanted to give you something.”
She frowned as he held up his hammer and with a sudden flash that made Pepper and Laura jump, she felt something land on her head. Katie reached up gently and felt the outline of a tiara perched on her hair.
“What…I don’t understand?” She whispered as she looked up at him, her fingers tracing the headdress. “It was my mothers.” Thor said gently. “I do not have a sister, you are the closest thing to it and I’d be honoured if you would wear it today.” Katie was speechless as she crossed to the mirror. Made of a silvery metal, the tiara consisted of a mass of intricate lines and reminded her somewhat of how the lost Diadem of Ravenclaw had looked in the Harry Potter films. It shimmered in the light and was adorned with what looked like diamonds, a larger deep red stone in the centre, and she could just make out the small ancient Asgardian runes
“Thor…I…” she turned to him, unable to speak. “I told your Captain of my intention.” He beamed. “He thought you would appreciate it. The runes are an ancient Asgardian blessing, they wish the bearer happiness and safety” “It’s beautiful, thank you.” Her voice cracked.
Thor pulled her in for another hug and nodded. “I must go now, back to the compound. Barton and Birdman and doing one final sweep of the grounds. I said I would help before we meet at the church.”
A final squeeze and nod and he left the room, and minutes later they all heard the tell-tale whoosh as he summoned the bi-frost.
“I really hope he was on the jet pad.” Tony grumbled. “Those damned marks are impossible to get rid of.” ***** Against his better judgment, Steve had a ‘leveller’- another shot of that lethal liquor- and to his surprise, it had actually gone someway to sorting his head out. Either that or his metabolism was finally working it out of his system.
But now he had another issue…
“Where the hell is it?” He was getting flustered, because how the HELL had he misplaced his uniform belt? He’d had it last night, he knew he had.
“It’ll be here somewhere.” Sam assured him, and after a frantic search, which left the apartment almost upside down, Clint located it down the back of the sofa.
“What was it doing there?” Steve frowned.
“Stark was wearing it as a headdress last night.” Thor supplied “You were wearing a tie, Birdman was wearing a pair of Little Stark’s tights and Barton was using a sash from a robe. You were, I believe Stark said the term was, rocking out to some form of music. Do you not remember?”
“No.” Steve mumbled, sliding it on and clipping it round his waist. He walked to the long mirror in the hall and looked at his reflection. Being dressed in this jerked back a lot of memories of his time with the Howlies, Bucky and Peggy…
“Just go talk to her.” Bucky said, leaning against the bar as Steve’s eyes roved up and down Peggy as she stood at the bar in the pub in London talking to Howard Stark.
“I talk to her all the time.” Steve looked at his friend.
“God you’re a dumbass.” Bucky shook his head “I don’t mean just talk I mean, you know…talk, ask her out.”
Peggy looked up, caught his eye and he found himself blushing before turning back to his drink. It really wasn’t appropriate, maybe if it was a different time…
“Captain America and still a pussy when it comes to women.” Bucky snorted, clocking the look on his friend’s face “Glad to see not everything has changed.”
But everything had changed now. And it was funny how it had all worked out in the end. But he wouldn’t change a damned second.
“Captain Rogers…” FRIDAY spoke. “Your cars are arriving.”
Steve took a deep breath and smiled at Sam who walked towards him, clapping him on the shoulder. “You alright?”
Steve nodded, suddenly his stomach was doing flips and this was nothing to do with the alcohol. “Let’s go.”
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“The cars are here.” Pepper smiled, walking into the room with the box that contained the flowers. She handed Katie her bouquet, a simple bunch of Cala Lilies tied with pale blue, gold and red ribbons. She set about pinning one of the boutonnieres to Tony’s lapel before she smoothed his shirt down and pecked him on the cheek.
“Okay. Nat, Wanda, Laura and me are gonna go ahead now.” Pepper instructed. “You follow on in about fifteen or so, give us enough time to hand these out-“ she patted the box contained the remaining boutonnieres, “-and sort the boys into the right places.”
Katie smiled at her and she looked at the woman she had long since come to regard as a younger sister. “You really do look stunning!”
“Thanks Pep.” She kissed Tony again before she bustled the other three women out.
"You know,” Tony said gently when the door closed behind them, “I always thought when you were a kid that you’d look ridiculous in a wedding dress. But, I was wrong, yeah it happens occasionally.” His face softened as he looked at his sister “You turned into a beautiful woman. Mom and dad would be proud, just as I am.”
“They’d be proud of you too.” Katie smiled, the tears springing into her eyes as he wrapped his arms around her. “You know that right?”
“Yeah, yeah, anyway.” He pulled back, sniffing slightly, before he ran his fingers underneath his eyes. “I have something for you.” With a flourish he reached into his suit jacket and withdrew a slim box.
Katie took it from him, her hands shaking slightly as she opened it. Inside was a stunning white gold necklace. It sported five teardrop shaped loops, each set with diamonds, the middle of the loops holding sapphires.
“It was Mom’s” Tony explained as she ran her fingers over the stones. “I’ve been saving it for you and figured that this…” his voice cracked, “was the perfect opportunity to give it to you.” “Tone,” she swallowed, the tears forming in her eyes once more, “it’s stunning.”
Tony took the box from his sister and gently removed the necklace and she turned round so he could fasten it round her neck.
“So that’s your something blue.” He said as she turned round, and let out a watery laugh.
“My garter’s blue.” “Don’t wanna know.”
Katie giggled and gently wiped at her eyes. “If you’ve ruined my make-up…” She headed to the full length mirror in the hallway and leaned forward to examine her face.
“I think you’re good.” He smiled as she locked eyes with him in the mirror. Satisfied that all the make-up artist’s work was still intact she turned to Tony who rocked forward on his feet a little, giving a clap.
“So, we got time for one last drink before you become a Rogers?” He asked, walking over to the liquor cabinet and reaching for two crystal tumblers.
“You know its’ only in name.” Katie smiled as he poured a few fingers worth of scotch into each glass.
“Still gonna be odd calling you by it.” He handed her one and she smiled. “But either way, you’ll always be my little Kiddo, you know that?” His voice cracked slightly and Katie took a deep breath, her eyes shining.
“Yeah.” She chinked her glass gently against his “I do Tone.” *****
Steve strode across from the car, Sam following and the pair of them began to greet the guests. Steve was starting to feel nervous now. He shook hands with Evans and Lawson, both of them giving him friendly slaps on the back, welcomed a load of other people he’d seen in Katie’s office before, but his mind wasn’t there. He was mulling over his declaration, and his eyes which were hidden behind his aviators, constantly roved the area in front of the church.
And then Sam slapped him on his shoulder.
“What?” Steve asked, turning to face him. 
“Bridesmaids are here Cap.” He smiled, and Steve turned to see the sleek, black Jaguar pull up to the side of the kerb. The driver got out and opened the back door to allow Natasha to climb out first, then Pepper followed, Wanda and Laura Barton getting out of the other side. Laura beelined for Clint who dropped a kiss to her cheek whilst Pepper, Nat and Wanda made their way over to Steve and Sam.
“You look great.” Steve smiled as he dropped a kiss to Pepper’s cheek, then Natasha’s then Wanda. “How’s Katie?”
“Nervous as hell.” Nat drawled, smoothing down her skirt before she looked up at Steve grinning. “Nice touch on the flowers and the earrings by the way, you almost set her off.”
 “But she’s ok?” He pressed.
“If you’re asking whether she’s having second thoughts, not a chance.” Pepper touched his arm. Steve took a deep breath and then turned to the Priest who had joined them.
“She’s about ten minutes or so behind.” Pepper smiled, at the man before she turned to Sam and Steve. “So I suggest you lot get to where you should be.”
“Right, yeah…” Steve took a deep breath, “Ok…”
He turned to head into the church and Sam looked at Natasha. “On a scale of one to ten how dead is she gonna knock him?”
“Eleven.” Nat grinned.
Sam let out a laugh before he yelled to the other groomsmen, and began his duty organising people into the church to the right seats.
**** Katie had a tight hold of Tony’s hand all the drive into Brooklyn. They made easy talk, the pair of them laughing in the back of the car but, as they rounded the corner to the street where the church was, Katie suddenly fell silent.
“You okay?” Tony looked at her. Katie nodded. 
“A bit nervous. Not about marrying Steve but…” She trailed off. “It feels strange, being happy, after everything that we’ve been through.”
“You deserve it.” Tony pressed a kiss to her temple. “Now push that thought out of your mind okay? Today is about you…and Steve.” He added as an afterthought.
Katie laughed as the car pulled to a stop and the driver hopped out. Tony got out of his side and rounded the car to offer Katie his arm. She tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow, her bouquet clutched in the other and together they made their way up to the entrance where the Priest, Pepper and Natasha were waiting. The photographer got a few snaps before he nodded and said he would see them inside.
The Priest smiled and ran through the usual checks and questions which Katie answered and he smiled, clapping his hands together.
“Okay, well, let’s get you married.” He grinned, heading back inside, leaving them stood in the vestibule area. 
Katie took a deep breath and Natasha and Pepper took their places.
“You ready?” Tony questioned, placing his hand over Katie’s as the opening chords to Eva Cassidy’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” started up.
“I’ve never been more ready for anything in my entire life.” She squeezed his arm when her knees threatened to wobble as the doors opened.
All heads turned in their direction as Pepper and Natasha made their way down the aisle and Katie’s legs suddenly felt like jello.
“Don’t let me fall.” She whispered as she gripped her big brother’s arm even tighter. 
Tony turned his head to press an affectionate kiss to the side of her head, “Never.” He whispered back with a smile.
As they made their way down the aisle, Katie wanted to take a look around the full church but she couldn’t. She couldn’t take her eyes off her soldier at the front. It wasn’t the fact that he looked especially handsome in his 40s dress uniform that made Katie’s knees tremble, neither was it his, as usual, clean shaven face or his perfectly styled hair. It was his eyes, and the smile on his face that lit up the moment he saw her.
“Oh my god...” Steve managed to mumble, his mouth dropping open, and Sam clapped him between the shoulder blades.
“You’re a lucky man.”
Steve couldn’t bring himself to reply. Instead he stood, gawping like an idiot as his girl glided towards him. She looked incredible, almost like she was glowing. Her dress was elegant, yet almost princess like. Her hair was twisted up off her face and she wore the biggest smile on her face he’d ever seen. He watched as she clutched onto Tony’s arm, her brother giving her hand another squeeze and the two turned to face each other, sharing a moment, before she looked back at Steve and their eyes locked. The Captain took a deep shuddering breath and smiled back, a smile which didn’t leave his face all the time she made her way towards him. 
After what felt like an age, his nearly wife reached his side and stood in front of him.
“Hi.” She managed to whisper, and he shook his head, blinking back his tears as he let out a deep breath.
“You look astonishingly beautiful.” His voice trembled as his eyes bored into hers and she felt herself flush, the grin still plastered to her face.
“Why thanks.” Tony said, and the pair of them looked at him, Steve letting out a simple snort as Katie shook her head, a small laugh escaping her mouth as she handed her bouquet over to Natasha.
“Dearly beloved,” the Priest opened. “We are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Steve and Katie.”
Steve looked at Katie and she gave him another huge grin, neither of them paying any attention to the Priest as he ran through his usual greetings, until there was a little chuckle from the congregation that shook them both back round and the turned to look at him.
“Who here gives this bride away?” he questioned.
“Oh, right, that would be err, me.” Tony stepped forward and gently turned Katie’s left hand into Steve’s right. The two men shared a meaningful look that could only be described as pure respect before Tony stepped back, taking his seat next to Pepper, blinking away his tears as she gripped his hand.
“You have prepared your own declarations before the vows?” The Priest looked at them, and they nodded. “In that case, ladies first.” he smiled at Katie and she took a deep breath, turning to face Steve, as he took both her hands in his, clearing her throat.
“You know, if someone had told me that the man I met for the first time in that small boxing gym down town would be the man I would fall in love with and one day marry, I would have told them they were being ridiculous.” She smiled and Steve squeezed her hands. “Stevie, I’ve watched you grow and thrive in a world that you thought you didn’t belong in but you never let it break you. You have no idea how strong you are and how strong you make me.” She hadn’t realised she’d started crying until Steve released one of her hands to wipe her cheek, his own eyes shining as he felt like his heart was going to burst through his chest as she continued. "When I think back on how much we’ve been through over the past few years, it never fails to amaze me how you carried not just me through it, but everyone around you too. You’re the most honourable, beautiful man I know, and that’s nothing to do with any serum, it’s just who you are. You’re my best friend. My lover. My everything. And I’ll always love you Steven Grant Rogers.”
"Wow,” The minister said clearing his throat. “Captain? Think you could top that?”
“I’ll try my best.” He choked out making laughter ripple through the crowd along with a few sniffles, before he took a deep breath. “Katie, when I went into the ice, I thought I knew what love was. I thought that I was in love before and that I wouldn’t ever feel like that again. And then you walked into my life and not only did I get to know you, I fell head over heels in love with you and you made me understand that a first love and a true love are two Stark-ly different things.”
Katie smiled, and there were a few titters at the pun he had used. He took another shaky breath and continued. “You’re the most beautiful, kind hearted, brave woman I’ve ever met. Each second I spend with you is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Everything I’ve been through I’d do it a thousand times over, and then some, if it meant I’d find my way back to you. You’re my world, my home, my girl, and for that I will always do my best to be the husband you deserve, to keep you safe, and happy and I’ll always love and cherish you. To the end of the line.”
As he finished, his voice broke a little and Katie took a shuddering breath as she reached up to wipe a tear away from his eye, just as he had done to her before. He smiled at her and she beamed back, her own tears threatening to trickle down her face, as he took her hands back in his, both of them turning to the minister again.
“Anyone got a tissue?” The man asked, pretending to dab at his eyes with his robes causing a few chuckles to ring around the church before he addressed her and Steve again.
“Ready for the serious business?”
They both nodded. One by one they made their vows, promises to love, honour, cherish and forsake all others for richer, for poorer and in sickness and in health being uttered as their eyes intently bored into each other, driving the words home into each of their souls.
The sentiment wasn’t lost on either of them, they’d been through all of it and so much more already.
“Do you have the rings?” The minister asked. Sam stepped forward and gave Katie Steve’s.
Katie did as she was told, placed the ring at the end of Steve’s finger and repeated the vows they had chosen as she looked him straight in the eyes.
“I give you this ring as a token of my love for you. I give it with my loving heart, with my willing body and with my eternal soul.” She slid the plain platinum band onto Steve’s previously bare ring finger and once it passed his knuckle and nestled in its new permanent home, he took a deep breath then exhaled.
Then it was his turn. He rolled Katie’s ring in his fingers before looking up and locking gazes with her as he repeated after the minister the same vows she had made,  finally sliding her diamond studded band down her perfectly manicured finger, his thumb sliding over the top of it. She looked at it for a second, before glancing back up at him, smiling.
"By the power vested in me by the Church and the State of New York, in the presence of God…I mean Gods,” the Minister politely corrected himself, looking at Thor and the bride and groom laughed along with the rest of the Church as Thor raised a hand, grinning. “I now pronounce you Husband and Wife. Captain,” he patted Steve on the shoulder, “you may now kiss your bride.”
Oh, he’d wanted to do that the minute she had walked into the Church!
With a smile, Steve closed the small distance between them and took her face in both his large hands, as hers slid up to his chest and he pressed a soft, sweet and perfect kiss to her lips.
There was loud cheering and clapping as they pulled back and Katie had just enough time to register the cheeky wink he flashed her before his hands pulled her back to him and this time he really kissed her, in a way that was totally not appropriate for a church but neither of them cared as his tongue slid along hers. Through the blood rushing in their ears, they could just make out the sound of more cheering and a couple of wolf whistles. They broke apart and for a long moment, their foreheads pressed together and they just smiled stupidly at one another, until Steve reluctantly stepped back so he could take his wife’s hand in his, and turn to face their guests.
“Ladies, gentlemen, please be upstanding for your bride and groom!” The minister spoke “Mr and Mrs Rogers!”
Their exit song ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ struck up and for the first time Katie got to glance at everyone in the room. She smiled at so many people, when a squeeze to her hand from Steve brought her back and he beamed at her.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Never better!” she grinned.
He pressed another soft kiss to her lips before they set off down the aisle. As they reached the end, Steve bent to pick up something, and Katie watched the familiar flash of red, white and blue vibranium as he swung it onto his arm.
“Seriously?” She arched an eyebrow.
“Trust me, Doll.” He muttered. “Because I don’t trust that lot one bit.”
The photographer got a few shots of everyone and then people started to climb into cars and head to the compound, all except the Avengers plus partners who had made an arch for the bride and groom to walk under. Steve grinned and turned to Katie, the two sharing another kiss before he nodded at her and they made their way down the steps onto the path. As soon as they did, Katie realised what Steve had been talking about as suddenly a barrage of rice rained down on them as the group yelled and cheered. As she shrieked with laughter, Steve pulled her to him, shield raised over his head, ducking slightly as they made their way to the waiting car. The chauffeur opened the door to the Jaguar SUV and Steve helped Katie in.
“I love you Mrs Rogers.” He grinned as they settled in the back of the car.
“I love you too.” She whispered back as his face dropped towards hers.
“Good, because you’re stuck with me now.” He leaned in, his nose rubbing against hers before he gave her another soft kiss as the car pulled away.
As the group filed out of the church, no one noticed the man staying close to the shadows across the road. But then they wouldn’t, as it’s a good hiding place, he knew this neighbourhood like the back of his hand after all, and he should do too given the amount of times he and that scrawny little blonde haired punk used to tread the sidewalks getting up to mischief. Full of dirt and leaves from scaling trees they would head back to Steve’s house for his Ma to patch them up, normally getting a clout upside the head (fondly, he recalls, never meant to hurt) as she complained in a strong, Irish brogue, which always seemed so unbecoming from such a slight woman. “You two young hooleys are going to be the death of me, so you are!” She’d admonish as she wiped their various bruises and fed them large pieces of whatever she’d managed to bake from that week’s meagre supplies. Now that small, sickly kid was a strapping six-foot plus mass of muscle, his outward appearance now reflected the brave Captain he had always been, stood in his old army dress uniform, his stunning wife a vision in ivory, and he was pleased to see, looking a lot healthier than she had when he had carried her out of that outpost in Canada. He watched as Steve raised his shield above his bride’s head to shelter her as their group of friends pelt them with rice, planting a kiss to her lips as various cheers and whoops hit his ears, and then they hurried to the waiting car. As it pulled away the last he saw of Steve was him leaning across the to place a kiss on his girl’s, no, his wife’s lips who’s pretty face looked like it might split in half from her smiling so much. “Good for you, Punk.” He muttered and, smiling to himself, he pulled his cap further down over his face and tucked his hands into his pockets. Yes, he had taken a huge risk coming here but he couldn’t not see his childhood best friend on his wedding day… even if his childhood best friend hadn’t seen him. 
With more of a spring in his step than he remembered having since before the war, he headed back to where he had hidden the stolen motorcycle ready to trek back North where he could catch a flight to Europe and slink back into the shadows once more.
The sunny August afternoon passed in a daze of champagne, photos and food. 
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The head table was situated in the middle of the banquet tent, occupied by Katie, Steve, Sam, Pepper, Tony and Natasha. The rest of the guests were seated at circular tables dotted around, Katie and Pepper having carefully plotted places. Of course the Avengers had their own table, which was rowdy, Thor’s loud voice booming across the Tent as he sat with Jane, who was chatting away to Linda Barton. Vision was perched next to Wanda, conspicuous as always, whilst Banner was talking to Clint. 
When the desert had been eaten, glasses were charged and it was time for the speeches. 
It was Tony’s turn first and as he stood up, both hands raised in his usual flamboyant manner, Katie let out a soft groan as she knew she was about to get a roasting. Her brother started off fairly mildly, toasting the bridesmaids cheekily quipping he was looking forward to taking one home with him that evening.  
“Which one?” Quipped Clint, earning him a slap round the head from Laura whilst the tent laughed. 
Tony paused before he dropped a hand to Pepper’s shoulder where she sat to his right and grinned. “Well there’s a fifty-fifty chance it’ll be the one I’m in a relationship with. No offence, Widow, but you’re not my type.”
Natasha flipped him off as the tent laughed, and all raised their glasses, before a wicked glint flashed in Tony’s eyes and he turned to his left, looking at Katie where she sat at the head of the table.
“Kiddo.” He smirked “I don’t know where to start.”
“Then don’t.” “Oh I’m gonna…” He winked “For the last Thirty-One years you’ve been a monumental pain in my ass. From making me fight monsters under your bed with the vacuum cleaner to your Vegan Goth phase and that damned Turkey that you insisted we keep.” He looked at her fondly as he grinned. “And we won’t even mention the amount of times I was called into School because you’d sassed a teacher, or when you refused point blank to fly home from University on a normal jet, or the time you wrapped your BMW round a lamppost and blamed the road for being too bendy. But, for the record, there isn’t a day that I’d change any of it. Watching you flourish into the beautiful, brave, kind young woman sat in front of me has, and always will be, my greatest achievement. Everything that life has put in front of you, you’ve taken and more. And I’ll always be proud of you.”
He took a deep breath as Steve’s hand curled round Katie’s under the table.
“And as for the groom, well, there’s not much to say about Spangles really. When I first met him, thought he was a Star Spangled asshole. Now I know him, think he’s just a normal asshole.”
Steve rolled his eyes, “Thanks Tony.” he quipped as the he guests laughed. But as his brother-in-law locked eyes with him, the two of them smiled.
“How I found out about you two was less than desirable.” He raised his eyebrows and they both let out a groan “For those of you that don’t know I walked in on them, in the kitchen, and interrupted something, and I won’t lie, I wasn’t overly enamoured about the idea but you fast proved me wrong and, well, here we are.” Tony swallowed and looked at Steve. “For the record, Cap,  I’m glad she has someone like you to look after her, care for her and cherish her but just so you know…” he raised his two fingers to his eyes and then moved them towards Steve, the same I’m watching you gesture as he had given him in his apartment over two years ago. Steve snorted into his glass which was once more full of Asgardian ale and Katie simply shook her head.
“In all seriousness, Rogers and I had a nice long talk last night about what it means to be a family. To love and be loved. To feel like you do and will forever belong with a certain person. And he told me that’s what he felt about Katie. That he does and will forever belong with her.”  Tony looked around the room with a flourish before he turned to look at the newly-weds. “And I know I speak for everyone here when I say, we are so lucky – and happy – that we’re all part of this weird-ass family. Even with Rhodey here.”
Rhodey flipped him off from where he sat across the tent and the guests laughed once more
“So if you’ll please all raise your glasses.” Tony picked his up, as everyone stood their glasses raised. “Steve and Katie, Cap and Kiddo, and our friends, family, be they with us or not.”
The murmurs of the echoed toast died down being replaced applause and whoops as Tony took a short bow, before he rounded the table and Katie stood up to hug him kissing his cheek. 
“Love you.” She grinned, and Tony beamed back at her before he returned to his seat. 
At that point Steve stood up to a load of cheers and he held his hand up.
“Yeah, not sure how I can follow that.” He smiled, “Thanks for those kind words Tony.” He cleared his throat. “You know, looking around the place, seeing everyone here to help us celebrate has brought it home to me how lucky I actually am. When I came out of the ice, I thought I’d lost everything, my entire life, everyone I knew. But I fast came to realise that whilst that may have been true once, what I’ve gained since is irreplaceable.” He glanced down at Katie before he looked back around. “When Katie walked into that gym which was only a few blocks away from where we got married today, we shared a ten minute conversation. By the end of those ten minutes I’d already realised how sassy, sarcastic and loyal she was, and dare I say it, damned gorgeous too”
Katie shook her head as titters rose around the tent.
“But then I got to know her. And she became my best friend, still is, and frankly now I think she’s the most amazing human being on the planet. I could continue to wax lyrical about you Doll, but I won’t. I said everything I had to say to you in the church, but there is one thing I wanted to add. You said that I make you strong, but it’s really you who does that to me. I’m only strong because you’re by my side. You make me want to be a better person and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of waking up in the morning by your side, simply being able to call you mine.” He took a deep breath, blinking back the tears that were threatening to fall as he looked down at the table, then back to her. “From that first date I knew we had something special and everything we’ve been through in the past two and a bit years, we’ve made it through because we’ve been together. So if I could ask you all to raise your glasses in the direction of my gorgeous, amazing wife.” He stopped, dropped his head and shook it, chuckling. “Man I’ll never get tired of saying that…” He looked back up, a huge grin on his face and Katie laughed, wiping her eyes “Mrs Rogers.”
He sat down and Katie leaned over to give him a soft kiss, smiling as her hand gently traced down his cheek. More cheers and Steve grinned against her mouth, his cheeks flushing slightly as he pressed his forehead to hers.
And then Sam got up.
“Yeah, saved the best till last I know.” He said as everyone giggled “I’ll keep mine short and sweet as we all know there’s a party to get started. I first met Cap when he was running. Well, I say running, it was more like tearing up the ground. Kept lapping me like a crazy mother, nearly killed me trying to keep up.” He grinned and Katie and Steve both laughed. “I haven’t known him for very long all things considered, so being asked to be best man was a privilege, so thank you brother. It means a lot.” He nodded to Steve who raised his glass in his direction. “Now, being friends with Captain America is probably the same as what being friends with Steve Rogers is like, from what I can gather. He’s a great guy, with a fully functioning moral compass, only there’s the added complication that you’ll have a building dropped on your head, get shot at and generally be whipped into a whole heap of trouble, and that was only within the first three days we’d met.” Sam quipped as the tent laughed and Steve shook his head. “But the thing is, when Captain America knocks on your door and needs your help, you gotta follow, even if it means your life expectancy is probably gonna halve.  Mind you, my chances of getting laid have more than doubled so I think they cancel one another out.” At that Steve groaned and dropped his head into his hands as the tent erupted into laughter. “But in all my life I’ve never met two people more suited for each other. You’re like peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, Simon and Garfunkel, can’t have one without the other.” Sam smirked “So, without further ado, charge your glasses one final time, to the new Mr and Mrs Rogers.”
Everyone did so and Sam drained his glass, clapping his hands together. “Now how about we get this party started?”
A few hours later as the sun was dipping behind the trees and several bottles of champagne, Asgardian beer and a fair few measures of whiskey had been drunk, Steve led his wife to the dance floor for their first dance. Surrounded by their friends and family he gently pulled her into his arms as the first bars of their song rang out from the speakers.
I’ve been searching all my life I used to be so color blind You opened up my eyes Do you wanna share your dreams See a different side of me You’re everything I need He pulled her closer, his hand curling round the small of her back, his other tightly clasped around hers as they gently swayed to the music, foreheads pressed together, smiles stuck firmly to their faces.
I like it when you think out loud Things you say when you know There is no one else around I can dig my own graves now But will you smile every time I try to crawl my way out
His left hand dropped from the small of her back and he took a step away, spinning her out into a twirl as the chorus struck up, drawing cheers from the circle of people around the dance floor.
There is no one like you I live in a world of black and white And you are the only one in color There is no one like you Into mystery I slide I want you to keep it all uncovered You are the only one in color
Katie smiled as he pulled her back to him, his face beaming and, as was tradition, they were joined on the floor by a few other couples, Tony and Pepper, Clint and Laura, Thor and Jane amongst them. Wanda and Natasha were dancing together too, in a joking, friendly way, which made Katie’s smile grow even larger.
You know how to set that mood You can light up any room Just by the way you move The only one who understands What I’ve given you you’ve given back Come on and take my hand
The music continued and, as the chorus struck up again Steve span her out once more, making her laugh and this time he pulled her back in so her back pressed against his chest. Wrapping both arms tightly around her middle he pressed a soft kiss to her neck, breathing her in deeply. Katie laughed, her hands coming to rest over his own, thumb stroking the new addition to his ring finger.
You turned an old world upside down A wave of calm when I was so tightly wound And so full of doubt I’ll never tell you that two’s a crowd I know I can’t get through without Ever needing you around
Steve knew everyone was watching, probably taking pictures or video along with the official photographer, but he didn’t care. Extending his arm above her head, he took hers with him and gently spun her to face him. His right hand slid up to cup her face and as he leaned close to capture her lips. Katie’s hand slid up to tangle in the back of his hair before she pulled away slowly and he let out a soft moan as his forehead dropped to hers.
"Mrs Rogers.” He whispered in her ear.
“Yeah?” “Nothing, I just wanted to say it.”
“Garter off. No hands Rogers!” Nat yelled over the music as Katie sat in a chair on the dance floor. “That’s the rules.”
“Well we all know I’m a stickler for rules.” Steve grinned, discarding his jacket and tie to a few whoops and a loud whistle from his bride, he tossed them over a chair as the men in the party gathered around, the women standing a bit behind, Pepper explaining what was going onto Wanda.
Steve strolled casually past them, hands in his pockets, his eyes locked on Katie’s as she arched an eyebrow in an almost challenging manner. This was the point where he would normally flush red but he hadn’t got a shred of embarrassment about his nature thanks to the Asgardian alcohol which once more coursed through his veins. He gave her a grin as he dropped to his knees and then, with a devious wink, dove under her skirt. Katie giggled and covered her face with her hands whilst the outline of Steve’s broad shoulders could just be made out moving up her legs. But only she could feel his breath on her thighs. He grinned and pressed a soft but hot kiss to the very top of her thigh and it took everything in her not to jump or show any outward indication of his actions, but she did bite her lip when his teeth nipped down her thigh until he caught the lace of the blue garter that he himself had given to her the day before, then dragged it down her leg.
There were more whistles and cheers when he emerged from beneath her skirt with the garter in his mouth, a loud groan coming from Tony, before Steve took it in his hands, stood up and fired it towards the men. Sam was the catcher, hastily dropping it from one hand to the other until he finally snatched it, and looked around, winking at Natasha.
“What about it Red?” He grinned at her “Fancy a bit of Sammy-lovin’?”
“In your dreams birdbrain” she drawled, as everyone cackled.
**** All too soon their day came to an end, but Steve had one final surprise for Katie. She had been fully expecting to go back to their room at the compound but Steve simply shook his head and led her over to a waiting car which was parked on the expansive gravel driveway.
“We are not spending our wedding night at home, Kitten.” He said simply when she asked where they were going. The car drove them out of Brooklyn and into Manhattan as they drank more champagne, finally pulling up outside The Mark, where they were greeted by a red carpet and applause from staff.
Between the alcohol and being drunk on happiness, they were tripping over each other by the time they made it to the bridal suite. Steve opened the door into the huge room, and the pair of them stumbled forward. Laughing, Steve curled an arm round her.
“Hang on.” With a flourish he bent down and scooped her up, carrying her into the room and she giggled as he stepped forward, kicking the door shut behind them before dropping her to her feet. She spun round and grabbed a fist full of his shirt, just below his open collar button, bringing him down to kiss her, hard as they backed across the suite into the bedroom where Steve spun her round and carefully, delicately popped the buttons down her back, his fingers brushing her skin as her dress fell open and dropped, pooling at her feet, leaving her in nothing but a pair of white, lace French knickers
He leaned in and pressed soft kisses to the crook of her neck, nuzzling into her hair, as she reached up to remove the various clips, freeing her brunette tresses.
“God you’re beautiful.” He whispered as she spun to face him, eyes shining as she started to undo his shirt.
“You’re not so bad yourself,” she smirked as her hands gently undid the buttons on his shirt, her eyes never leaving his.
And then it was a race to get out of their remaining clothes before they both collapsed on the bed. Steve took his time, kissing down his wife’s body, running his fingers down her ribs before his hands gently parted her legs. His nose skimmed below her bellybutton before he moved downwards, nipping at her inner thigh before he set his mouth to her.
Katie groaned and all but melted into the bed letting him have and play with her all he wanted. Her first orgasm hit her hard in a ridiculously short amount of time and, leaving her breathless, he kissed all the way back up her body before he settled his hips against hers. He was rock hard and aching for her, and she shivered as he pressed up against where she needed him most.
He took her left hand in his, his thumb skating over her rings and placed a soft kiss over them before interlocking their fingers and pressing her hand down on the pillow next to her head.
“I love you so much, Mrs Rogers.” He mumbled leaning down and running his nose alongside hers.
“I love you too Captain Rogers.” She responded, holding eye contact with him as he slowly slid inside her, letting out a moan as she lay back and he kissed her again, deeply, passionately, slowly rocking into her. Katie rolled her hips up taking him deeper, moans flowing freely between the pair as he slowly built up his rhythm, releasing her hand so that he could grasp onto her hips. Katie’s arms wrapped around his shoulders pulling him in close and she buried her fingers into his hair.
“Faster.” She moaned, wrenching her mouth from his so she could breath and he didn’t hesitate to oblige. After a few more thrusts he slid his hand under her lower back and lifted her slightly, face buried in her neck, nipping, making her gasp and shudder as he hit her spot with every thrust of his hips until she was moaning and writhing and muttering nonsense.
Whether it was the passion of the day or the fact that it was just different because they were now married, for Steve it felt the most intense love they had ever made. It was the perfect way to finish off an amazing day and when they both fell apart completely immersed in one another, cries of names and curses tumbling from lips, Katie happily welcomed his weight on top of her as he caught his breath whilst she peppered soft kisses against his sweaty forehead before their noses gently rubbed against one another. Both of them remained, trembling in the afterglow and it took a while but finally Steve gathered enough strength to roll himself to the side where Katie immediately curled up into his side, her head on his chest.
“Was it everything you hoped for?” He asked, and she hummed blissfully as he carded his fingers through her hair
“And more.” she whispered softly.” And wanna know the best bit?” “What?” She moved so she could look up at him, her face soft as she gave him the most intimate and incredible smile he had ever seen on her face as she answered “We have the rest of our lives ahead.”
**** Chapter 27
**Original Posting**
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imaginethebeautifulworld · 7 months ago
Um hi. I was hoping you could do "beware how you give your heart" with Ireland please? He's my favorite, and I wondered how you would write him. If not it's ok!! Love u!!
Hello, lovely!
I’m actually a huge fan of Ireland myself; I hope you enjoy~
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If there is one thing in this world that travels faster than the westward winds, it is gossip, and by the Heavens above, there seems to be nothing else that people enjoy more than spreading it.
All throughout April, you had heard whispers from seemingly every corner of the city- the breathless musings of recently launched debutantes, the half-amused, half-envious exchanges of stable hands, pensive commentary by merchants and retired professors.
There was a ship bound for port, stopping in for repairs and resupply, the crew destined to stay ashore until August. Her captain, however, was the true subject of discussion.
It was rumoured that he had earned his promotion through a series of dangerous feats and bouts of heroism, as well as an unshakeable loyalty he had earned from his own crew and, allegedly, a half dozen others.
Depending upon the orator, tales of his adventures ranged from the morally ambiguous (courtesy of the fanciful Lady Dashwood), to positively Grecian (Monsieur F​aucet ​on Carrickphierish​), and even the absolutely mythical (young Teagan and Amelie during a weekly trip to the patisserie).
There was such mysticism to his name that it was hard to believe it could ever be tied to a real person.
Truth be told, by the time The Gráinne finally docked in the earliest days of May, you had grown so weary of the name Captain Cavanaugh that you could only pray to never cross paths with the man.
Time, of course, has a habit of changing all things, and now, sitting in the mid-afternoon sun, sharing discourse on Merriman over curacoa, the very thought of his imminent departure fuels a bone-deep ache you’re certain you shall have to endure for the rest of your days.
There's almost a bittersweetness to it all, you think, some cruel, poetic irony.
You had never intended to become so attached, had never even considered the possibility of such an attachment.
Yet it had progressed so naturally, so quickly, that you know his departure will absolutely crush you.
He's laughing, lost in carefree amusement over a quip you had made regarding one of the couples on promenade.
It's taking every ounce of energy to focus on the delicate detailing ​of the doily beneath your plate, all in effort to prevent becoming distracted by the slip of his collar as his head tilts back, to ignore the sharp contrast of white against tanned skin.
You eagerly drink up his delight, savour every bit of it, defying a spike of pessimism that refuses to be suppressed.
He's always so earnest, his nature so open and genuine. 
It’s such a refreshing contrast to the socialites that you've made acquaintance with, and truthfully you should not have been so surprised to find yourself so helplessly drawn to him.
The cruelest twist of all that he had been the one advising you to guard your affections, lest they be stolen.
It had been a muggy July evening, candlelight playing off freshly polished silver, sparkling from precious crystal.
Captain Cavanaugh- as he still was to you then- had swept in from seemingly nowhere, saving you from a very... eager young nobleman.
The waltz he had half-hauled you into was, fortunately, popular enough among the town that no one thought twice of him guiding you halfway across the chamber.
"You should beware how you give your heart," he had whispered in reply to your offering of gratitude for his rescue.
You nearly blanched upon the insinuation, quickly assuring him that it was Her Ladyship, your employer, who was so adamant to see you paired off, and that: "I swear to you, Captain. I have absolutely no intentions of giving my heart to anyone."
It was a curious look he gave you then, one that nearly stole your breath. Whatever daggers he had been sending to your persistent suitor were long gone, only the unreadable remaining.
It's the same expression he's wearing now, somewhat sprawled in his chair. The sharpness of his gaze is enough to pin you in place, an unseasonable shiver passing through you.
He's sitting upright once more, uncharacteristically serious.
You offer a perplexed look, act as if all is right with the universe, apart from his odd behavior of course. "Captain?"
He's conflicted; you can see it now in the tension of his shoulders, the almost indiscernible lines of his brow. It's enough to offer his name again, concern unrestrained this time. "What's troubling you?"
There's some indeterminable sound that escapes him, one you could almost confuse for a laugh, a sigh, feasibly a groan. "Honestly? You are."
With others, it would seem uncharacteristic, this brusqueness.
With others, it would have been cruel, impertinent.
But with him, you’re thankful for it, knowing you were long ago granted full pardon for your own authenticity, no matter how sharp or soft it may be.
It is somewhere between those two extremes with which you respond, cautiously wrapping your fingers around your glass in an effort to ground yourself.
"Aye. Y-" And suddenly he's cutting himself off, apparently opting for another proclamation entirely. "I'm leaving in less than a fortnight."
You try to ignore how much the reminder pains you, how it feels your very heart is constricting, as if all the air has been stolen from your lungs. You try to ignore it, mostly for his sake, terrified suddenly of how closely he's studying you, watching for your reaction.
You force out feigned enthusiasm, donning what you hope appears to be excitement. "Bound for the Bay of Bengal, wasn't it?"
He's still pinning you with that fierce gaze, the sunlight playing off the conflicting mess of grey and green; his eyes almost seem to shimmer. It’s as if he didn't even hear your inquiry, as if he sees right through your facade.
"I don't want to go."
It takes a moment for his declaration to register, your mouth falling open in mild surprise, a question already starting to take shape before he interrupts you, words steady.
"Not without you."
Perhaps you've been too long in the heat. The summer sun has a notoriety for its effect on those with weak constitution and too-often those who loiter too long in its gaze.
"I'm sorry?"
There's an unmistakable nervousness to his behavior now, eyes focused on some point beyond your shoulder- perhaps the fountain or passing carriages?
"I know we've only been acquainted for a few months, but-" His eyes drift shut, and suddenly his focus is on you once more, voice light and gentle. "I want you by my side, for the rest of our days. Come with me."
The world falls away; surely you're dreaming. There's no possible way-
Yet he is.
Offering himself.
Offering everything.
And oh- How the offer makes your heart swell.
You can almost taste the salty air, feel the wind whipping through your hair, the lightheaded rush that comes from being on the open water. 
How you miss it.
And to stand at his side? To spend each day chasing a new adventure, sharing laughter and tears and- perhaps, someday, by the grace of the Heavens- love?
There are no words known to Man to describe your elation at proposal, your stupefaction. So overwhelmed are you that he misreads your silence entirely, and begins backing out of his offer before you even have the chance to offer a reply. "​Nach mé an t-amadán. Forget I said-"
You're uncertain who is more startled by your outburst, the command loud enough to offend several other patrons at nearby tables. Flustered, you dip your head in what you pray to be a suitably apologetic manner.
Your name passes through his lips as barely a murmur, soft, curious, almost hopeful. It's enough to capture your attention, eyes rising to meet his gaze once more.
Your heart gives a sharp lurch, seeing the clear yearning awaiting you there.
It is one of the things you love most about him, you decide in that moment. His openness, his unwillingness to conceal his true feelings for the sake of false politeness or the desperate hope at falling into some noble's good graces. He is, was, and always will be, simply Séamus, and you know from the very depths of your soul that you would want him no other way.
It is in that knowledge that you find your boldness, reaching for his hand and secretly thrilled when he meets you halfway, almost intuitively.
He blinks down at your entwined fingers almost as if he's dazed by the sudden contact, eyebrows furrowing before he studies you once more, offering you an unspoken question that demands to be answered.
The air is heavy with it- the sticky sweet over-saturation of wisteria and roses and humidity trying to crush you, to hinder your resolve.
Instead, you cling to his hand, desperately, terrified that if you let go he will truly leave you here alone.
"Take me with you."
He seems equally aware of the heavy stares your behavior is earning, the whispers that are surely spreading beyond the terrace, rumours likely already slipping into the gilded apartments of the Eastern Bank. There's a wariness to his expression, even as his thumb moves in a tender, alluring pattern across your knuckles.
Were the situation different, you're certain you could lose yourself in that alone.
He watches you, carefully, his words coming out in unrepentant gentleness. "You have a whole life here, ​a ghrá​. Are you sure?"
In your heart, you know already that there is nothing in this world you have ever been so certain of, that there is nothing in this world so right.
For his sake, however, you do consider what you would be leaving behind, taking a moment to wonder at the life you could still live should you choose to remain.
The stark contrast between the two worlds, the decisive polarity- It's almost laughable how easy a choice it is.
You've no real family here to speak of, having left home behind ages ago.
Your friends will understand, would likely encourage and assist you with your escape.
As for your employer-
"There are children everywhere, Séa. I'm sure I can do far more helping them than I can chaperoning my current charges."
There's a distinct fondness in his expression, some​thing​ soft​ and ​unspoken​, yet it fills you with something akin to pride, a warmth cycling through your veins as he lightly squeezes your hand in acknowledgement.
"And what of your honour?"
For a moment, you feel the slightest hint of bewilderment, but upon registering the small grin starting to take shape, the sharpness of his eyes as he glances towards your audience, understanding crashes over you.
There is a moment of panic, instinctive and eternal, but it is quickly dismissed, an unhindered, liberated smile of your own rising to greet his. "Society can hang, for all that I care."​​
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Thank you for reading!
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ahh-fxck · a year ago
ok but i just saw this AU "My incredibly stupid cat just jumped out of my apartment window after a bird and you caught her in your arms like a baby and looked up, stared me dead in the eye and said "I think you dropped something" and this is geraskier y/y? :D?
Yes! Yes I love this so much! So much that I accidentally wrote five pages about it!
Please enjoy :D It is also here on ao3.
(Also please pardon the no beta, I will come back and edit this but I got excited and wanted to post it!!)
Also also- The song I quote is a real Ren Faire song and is pretty fucking funny if you’re into that kind of thing.
Also also also- Holy shit I am the kind of nerd that will spend two hours researching 500+ year old slang for pussy because I wanted to make a throwaway joke in a fic.
And finally: Yes! I am willing to write more of this if enough people are into it. :) Let me know!
Jaskier threw his leg up on the couch, strumming his lute and singing his heart out. He had just gotten his first shitty apartment for the summer between college semesters, and he was massively behind on practicing for the Faire. August was only a month and a half a way, and he had at least twenty more songs to memorize into his repertoire. It was his first summer as an adult, and he’d finally been allowed to act as one of the wandering bards. 
If all of the girls were bells in a tower
And I was a clapper, I'd bang one each hour
Go roll your leg over, roll your leg over
Roll your leg over the man in the moon.
If all of the girls were fish in the ocean
And I was a wave I would teach them the motion.
Go roll your leg over, roll your leg over
Roll your leg over the man in the moon.
The young bard-to-be resumed striding around the room, practicing his struts and flourishes. Nothing less than perfection would do. If he didn’t impress the first week, he would be relegated back to the fairy chorus again, and the fucking leggings itched in the August heat. 
If all of the girls were little white rabbits
And I was a hare, I would teach them bad habits.
Go roll your leg over, roll your leg over
Roll your leg over the man in the moon.
If all them young ladies was up for improvement.
I'd give them some help with a ball-bearing movement.
Go roll your leg over, roll your leg over
Roll your leg over the man in the moon.
As he paced back and forth, he tossed his head to throw a sweat-sticky curl of hair off of his forehead. The merciless summer heat had started early this year, and by June it was in full swing. The windows of his little apartment were wide open, and a standing fan was turning back and forth, stirring lazy eddies in the arid air. Nearby, his elderly cat grey cat, Pipkin, lazed in the cool shadow of the table. 
If all them young ladies was little white kittens
And I was the tom cat, I'd give them new fittin's 
Go roll your leg over, roll your leg over-
As he spun with particular exuberance, he landed wrong and staggered onto the cat’s tail. Flailing backwards, Jaskier flew one way and the cat flew another. He hit the floor near the ratty couch with a crash, all the breath rushing out of his lungs. Nearby he heard a ‘bang!’ and then a howl of fury and fear as the ancient screen gave way under her considerable weight. Jaskier’s heart leapt into his throat.
“Pipkin!” He screamed, scrambling over to the window and looking frantically downward. As he scanned the sidewalk for his cat, he saw a man with white hair and golden eyes staring up at him. His hammering heart did a complicated skip as the man locked eyes with him and smirked, gesturing with something in his arms. 
“I think you dropped something,” he called up, his voice a gravelly baritone. In his arms was Pipkin, who had such a look of shock on her face that it was almost comical. 
Despite his terror, Jaskier gave a slightly hysterical titter. Oh shit, it was his drop-dead gorgeous neighbor. “I can’t believe you caught her. Oh Melitele, thank you!” No such goddess existed anymore, but in his upset he had forgotten to drop out of character and used the ancient name. 
Below him, his neighbor’s eyebrows went up. “It’s fine,” he said, but he sounded a little thrown. The cat, recovering from her shock, began to struggle in his arms. She gave a surprisingly deep snarl for such a tiny animal. Lashing out, she spat at her rescuer and tried to claw him. Dodging easily, he fixed his eyes on the little animal and gestured in the air above her. “Hush,” he said, though Jaskier could barely hear him. With a slow blink, the little cat settled down in his arms. 
Jaskier gaped at this exchange from above. When the stranger’s compelling golden eyes returned to him, it sparked him suddenly back into motion. “Sweet goddess are you ok?” Leaning out of the window, he peered down at Pipkin. “Pipkin, you be good! What is wrong with you?! I’ll be right down.”
The big man holding his cat smiled a slow smile, shaking his head. “If you don’t mind, I think I’d better bring her up to you. She’s not going to be very happy when I let her go.” 
Jaskier blinked at him, puffed, and then nodded. He wasn’t expecting guests and his apartment was a mess, but he imagined his neighbor was right. It was odd to see her so quiet, though. Feeling a stir of unease, he called, “Okay! I’m in 503!”
“I know,” the white-haired man replied with a crooked grin. He walked around the side of the building to the entryway and vanished out of sight. 
Struck by a sudden panic, Jaskier slammed the window closed and flew away from it. He began frantically cleaning his apartment. Pizza boxes in the trash, empty soda cans in the recycling, oh sweet goddess his socks were everywhere. “Why am I like this?!” He groaned, running a pile of dirty laundry across the apartment and flinging it into his bedroom.
He’d watched his blisteringly hot neighbor move in less than a month ago to the apartment next door, and since then had become a little obsessed. Not only was he gorgeous, he had some weird habits. He kept odd hours. Sometimes he’d leave around twilight one evening and not show up until noon next day, limping into his apartment with a long, dark jacket on, even in the heat of summer. Others, he’d be out at dawn with a large pack of some sort on his back. Then he’d come back in the middle of the day, looking like ten miles of bad road. Sometimes Jaskier could swear there was blood on the carpet, but every time he’d go back to look later, it had vanished- scrubbed away, or never there?  
He never seemed to mind the noise Jaskier made, either. While other philistines railed at his 3 AM renditions of “Roll Your Leg Over,” banging on the floor and wall of his apartment. On one memorable occasion, they had even sent an exasperated police officer to bang on his door. Never the white-haired stranger, though, no matter how loud he was being. 
Just then, knocking interrupted his frantic cleaning. Dropping the lute onto the couch and swearing, Jaskier ran to answer the door. It was only after he had flung the door wide and the white-haired man had stepped inside that he realized he was still only in his boxers. Mortified, he froze to the floor as his neighbor slipped around him and punted the door shut with his foot. He hadn’t even cleared away all of the empty soda bottles, and he’d forgotten his pants.
The big man glanced at him as he entered and smirked. Cradled in his arms, no doubt getting his black jacket all furry, was Pipkin. She had a vague, dazed expression on her face, but her tail swished calmly as he turned to close the door. When he released her on the floor however, some sort of spell seemed to break. She blinked, spun around yowling, and whacked the man’s thick calf-high leather boot three times in quick succession. Then she sprinted away into the recesses of Jaskier’s apartment, vanishing in a trice. 
“Pipkin!” Jaskier gasped, the shock of seeing his usually friendly cat smack the man jarring him into motion. “I am, so sorry,” he quavered, grabbing a yellow, furry jacket off of the coat hook near the door and wrapping it self-consciously around his waist. “She’s normally very sweet, I promise. Are you all right?!” He looked down at the unharmed boot and back up into shocking golden eyes, bright and intelligent, glittering with amusement. 
“I’m fine,” the stranger drawled, removing silver-studded black leather gloves and putting them into his jacket pocket. Closer up, it was possible to see that he carried something bulky under the black duster, strapped to his back. What it was, however, was unclear. 
“That’s… that’s good, I’m glad to hear it,” Jaskier bubbled awkwardly, at a loss. He couldn’t just bolt for his trousers without introducing himself first, but he didn’t want to introduce himself without trousers. Dithering, he clutched the jacket to his waist and stared with wide blue eyes at the black-clad vision in front of him. Tall, white hair, long black jacket, some sort of… was that biker’s gear? The pants appeared to be leather with thick plates sewn into them, perhaps to protect from road rash. He also had some sort of sturdy leather vest or something peeking through the opening of his jacket. A tingle raced across the back of Jaskier’s arms. Whatever he was, this was no normal neighbor. 
“Want to go grab some pants?” A dry voice cut through his dithering. “I’ll wait.” Bright eyes tracked across the fluffy yellow jacket, the smirk widening slightly. 
“Oh thank you,” Jaskier gasped, fleeing before he even had a chance to think. “I’ll be right back!” he called over his shoulder, vanishing into his bedroom. He blindly grabbed for the first pair of pants he could find in his drawer and staggered into them. They were a pair of high-waisted blue trousers that tied at the back- part of one of his Faire outfits. 
Then he peeked under the bed for Pipkin, who he found in the closet. She was hiding in an empty shoe box, and emitted a peevish growl when he gently fished her out, cooing softly to her to calm her. Once he had satisfied himself that the struggling creature was uninjured, he gently returned her to her nest. Then, too flustered to grab a shirt, Jaskier bounced back out into the living room.
His guest greeted his return with a slightly stricken look, though it was hidden quickly behind a look of guarded amusement. He eyed Jaskier up and down, taking in the thatch of chest hair, the bare feet, the blue trousers. “Cat ok?” He asked, his voice a deep, pleasantly gravelly baritone. 
“She’s fine,” Jaskier shuffled awkwardly, then stuck his hand out. “Thank you so much for being there to catch her. Um. Gosh, I wish I’d met you under better circumstances, you’re really um… I mean.” He stopped, swallowed, catching his breath and reeling himself back in. “My name is Jaskier, it’s nice to meet you.”
The man eyed his hand for a moment that was slightly longer than Jaskier was actually comfortable with, before grasping it firmly. “Geralt,” he introduced himself. “Geralt z Rivii.” 
His hand was warm and held a truly surprising amount of strength; Jaskier very rarely felt someone deliberately being gentle with him, but he could tell the big man could crush his fingers like bird bones if he wanted to. It made Jaskier’s bones feel like they were melting like butter, to feel that strength. “Wow…” he said, eyes wide, then mentally kicked himself. “I mean, uh. Nice to meet you,” he burbled, before trailing off awkwardly into silence, kicking himself the entire time for sounding like an idiot. 
The corners of Geralt’s eyes crinkled as he squeezed Jaskier’s hand delicately. “Nice to meet you too.” Turning, he scanned the apartment, his expression unreadable. “Why did you name your cat Pipkin? That’s… an unusual choice.” 
“Uh… Well, funny story…” Jaskier blushed. Normally, he loved telling this story, but somehow it seems silly and small under that bright gaze. “It’s sort of a play on words. People call their cats ‘pussy,’ so I named her… uh… another word for pussy. An old word. Pipkin.” Damn. He hadn’t even managed to make it funny this time. 
“That joke’s more than five hundred years out of date,” Geralt noted, tipping his head to the side and fixing him with a warm, amused look. 
“How- How do you know that?” Jaskier sputtered, astonished. The slang was from the 17th century, no one outside certain academic circles had any business knowing that. “Are you… do you do the Faire?”
Shifting the pack on his back, which concealed two swords- one silver, and one steel, Geralt snorted. “I really don’t.” 
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ollieofthebeholder · 3 months ago
leaves to high to touch (roots too strong to fall): a TMA fanfic
Read from the beginning on Tumblr || Also on AO3
Chapter 51: Statement of Walter Sims, regarding a list. Recorded direct from subject, twenty-sixth of January, 1990.
You’re certain you don’t mind?
Not at all. Honestly, when you said you would come to me rather than have me come to you, I assumed this wasn’t going to be…official.
Yes, well.
People don’t often send messages ahead of time. They simply…come to give their statements. I admit I was intrigued.
I’m here most of the hours the Institute is open. Simple as that.
Still. I have a…feeling, shall we say, that your statement doesn’t need to be available for research.
I don’t think you’re wrong about that.
Are you ready?
One moment.
Statement of Walter Sims, regarding—how would you term it?
Let’s just say “a list.”
Recorded direct from subject, twenty-sixth of January, 1990.
Whenever you’re ready.
WALTER (Statement)
I’ve worked here for almost three years now—ever since we found out we were going to be parents. My mother made it clear that she was not going to make herself responsible for what she termed “my careless mistakes,” and Sarah’s only family is a sister over in America with a family of her own. My choices were to drop out of school and get a job or let us both starve. Put like that, it’s no choice at all, really.
I’d thought to go to sea. My best mate and I always talked about it, and he had a job on a commercial deep-sea fishing vessel, so I asked him about getting a job. He talked me out of it, though. The captain’s a bit…odd, he says. He knew his father-in-law was looking for a handyman and suggested I apply. The old man and I suited each other well enough, and he hired me on the spot.
The work isn’t hard. I’m a general man about the place. I do repairs, painting, gardening, a bit of housework. He buys the groceries, but I put them away. Sometimes I do a bit of cooking for him. He’s not infirm or an invalid—well, obviously—but he can’t climb ladders or do a lot of bending over, so anything regarding hard labor, I handle for him. (heh) My biggest job these days is keeping next door’s grandson from getting at the entire cherry crop in the summer. They hang pretty near the property line, and the lad’s learned to climb pretty well these last couple years.
It’s nice for a lot of reasons, probably the biggest of which is that I can bring my boy with me sometimes. Sarah’s trying to finish her degree, at least part time, so on days she has classes, I bring him to work. He adores the old man—it’s the closest he’s got to a grandfather—and my best mate’s boy is only a bit older than him, so they play together. Can’t separate them with a pry bar. They’re good lads, both of them.
Neither one was here the first day I saw it.
It was just after the first of the year. The couple next door must have had some sort of party; there were paper streamers and fragments of fireworks all over this side of the fence. I was picking up all the bits when I saw a figure standing by the house.
He wore a suit, a three-piece suit. All of it was black as night, except for his tie, which was pure white—or so I thought at the time. His hands and face were white as snow, too. No, more than that. He was colorless. Completely devoid of any color. He was staring up at the house. When I got a little closer, I realized he was staring up at the old man’s bedroom window. He had a clipboard in one hand—black, like his suit—and a pen in the other. It was the only splash of real color about him, and it was gold, very pale gold. Like a shaft of light.
I saw him write something down on the clipboard. I called out to him, just like I did when you came up—told him this was private property. There’s a place down the road with an orchard open to the public, and the numbers are reversed, so sometimes we get people coming here by mistake. It’s not usually a big deal.
But this one…he looked at me. He didn’t have any eyebrows, or, well, they were so pale they didn’t show up, but I thought he looked…surprised. Like he hadn’t expected anyone to be there. I asked him again if I could help him, but he just—he vanished. It was like he’d never been there at all.
It gave me a bit of a turn, I won’t deny it, but for the most part, I shrugged it off. Either I was having a hallucination, or he’d just moved very quickly. I wouldn’t ever have thought of it again, except that a couple of days later, I saw him again.
He was in the same place, just underneath one of the cherry trees. Matter of fact, I’d seen the branches rattling and thought it was next door’s grandson again, climbing up. (soft laugh) Obviously there aren’t any cherries this time of year; the trees are bare as bones. But we’d had something of a freeze the night before, and the branches were slick with ice. I was worried he might slip and hurt himself, so I went over to get him down. But when I got closer, I saw the same man again.
This time, he was looking away from the house, towards the Stokers’ place. He was peering very intently over there, not moving except to make a note on his clipboard. I called out to him again, a little louder and a little less friendly this time, wanting to know what he was doing and where he came from.
He vanished again, but this time, just after he disappeared, the old man came out onto the porch here and wanted to know what was going on. I told him about the strange visitor, and the fact that he just kept…leaving so quickly.
To my surprise, the old man got pretty agitated. He wasn’t mad at me—wasn’t even mad, really. Just…agitated. He told me not to have anything to do with the man if he turned up again. I asked if he knew him, and he said no, not exactly, but that he’d been around enough to know something related to one of the Fourteen when he heard it.
We’ve talked, of course. I knew what he meant. He obviously couldn’t say which one it was, not without seeing it for himself, but he told me to keep away from him, not make eye contact, and hope he didn’t turn his attention to me. I asked if I should come talk to someone from your Institute, and he said no again. Said it was such a small thing, not worth bothering about. Nothing for you all to really sink your teeth into. And he said he didn’t want you lot touching me, either.
So I left it alone. Kept my head down and got back to work. Until yesterday.
Both the boys were here. I let them “help” me a bit, but, well, they’re two. Eventually I told them to go play on the porch while I cleaned out the gutters. I don’t want them running about under the ladders when I’m up high. It’s a good way for someone to get hurt.
I was just coming down when I saw him again. Standing behind the skeletal remains of the privet hedge, facing the house again. Facing the porch. He was watching the boys, just as intently as he’d looked at all the others, but this time he was watching the boys.
I didn’t call out to him this time. I jumped off the ladder and went for him. When I got close enough, I shouted, “Hey!” Just to get his attention, you know, before I grabbed him.
Well…it worked, insofar as it got his attention. He looked even more surprised than the first two times. This time, I was close enough to see the barely-there shape of his eyebrows, the thin lines of his mouth, the way light just slid off his suit, still solid black except for the tie. This time, though, I was close enough to see it wasn’t pure white. There were faint lines and whorls in it—like a feather from a gigantic wing. But when I grabbed at him, he vanished again.
This time, though…he dropped his clipboard.
I picked it up and studied it. I half expected it to be some oddity as well, like black paper written on in gold ink, but…no, it was perfectly ordinary stock, good quality paper, and it was neatly written in a deep black ink. The handwriting was clear as daylight, as were the contents of the note.
It was a list of names. Seven of them. With yours truly right at the top.
Do you still have the list?
No. I was almost done reading it when it…disintegrated in my hand, I guess.
But I have it memorized. It burned itself into my mind. Not just the names, but each one had a pair of dates after it, separated by a single dash. Like a range.
Seven names, you say? And what were the dates?
If you mean “what do they mean”…I’m not sure, but I have a guess. I know what the first date means, anyway, and I have my suspicions about the second. But the list itself…
Let’s record it. For posterity.
(deep breath) Walter Sims, fourth July 1976 to seventh April 1990.
Alastair Koskiewicz, twenty-sixth January 1935 to eighteenth March 1997.
Daniel Stoker, first May 1990 to fourteenth August 2013.
Gertrude Robinson, seventeenth December 1934 to fifteenth May 2015.
Timothy Stoker, thirteenth January 1985 to—and that’s when it started to dissolve.
It was like a drop of black ink on the page, obscuring the second half of the date, and then it just…spread. It absorbed the bottom three names and dates first. Then it burned all the way through the paper, and the clipboard, and just kept spreading until…until it was just dust in the wind.
I talked to Kier—my best mate—when he turned up to get his son, while the old man was helping them (slight laugh) conspire to let them spend the night. Gave him the whole rundown. I think it would have stopped there, except that while I was telling him, I suddenly remembered that, right before the paper started dissolving, when it was still just the ink blot—for just a moment, where the dates at the bottom would have been, it coalesced into a drawing of an eye.
And I swear it blinked.
That’s when we sent the note round. I’m sorry to make you come all the way out here. I’d have been perfectly willing to come to you if you’d been willing to work with me.
I don’t know that this would keep.
Did you see any of the dates on the last two?
No. Didn’t need to, really. Saw the names, which means I know the first dates, and—oh, hang on.
Hey, there’s my boy.
All right there, Kier?
All right there, Walt.
This is Gertrude Robinson. The Archivist at the Magnus Institute. Ms. Robinson, this is Kieran Blackwood, my best mate, and this is my boy.
Go on, say hello.
Hello! I’m Jonny. I’m two and one-quarter.
A pleasure to meet you both. And who is this?
(gently) It’s all right, Wickie. Tell her your name.
(mumbled) Martin.
He’s my very best friend in the whole wide world. And that’s a very wide place. Uncle Kier told me that, and he’s almost the smartest man there is, so he should know.
Yes, well…that’s wonderful.
Tell you what. Ms. Robinson’s never seen how fast you can run. Why don’t you two race to see who can be the first one to run all the way around the house and get back?
We can do that! Come on, Martin!
Ready, steady, go!
Hmm. How long do you estimate this will take?
As long as we need. They’ll probably race around to the far side of the house, slow down, and sing a few rousing choruses of the song I taught them a couple months ago.
It’s the one that goes, “La la la, la la la la la, the grown-ups are talking.”
They’re two, not stupid.
You’ve told her, then?
Aye. We just finished up.
…How do you know about the Fourteen?
…Ma’am, you do know I work for Alastair Koskiewicz, right?
Yes, I…oh.
Oh, I see.
He told you?
In bits and bobs. Enough to avoid them, anyway. Or at least I think that was his intention. Doesn’t always work.
Of course.
(sigh) Yes. I believe you’re correct. The person you saw was likely an agent of Terminus.
Thought as much.
Well. Suppose I’d best let the old man know. Seventh of April, that’s…what, three weeks before you leave on your next run?
More or less. Depends on the tides, really.
Well, I should be able to get supplies ordered in, at least, but that’s a bit early to have the garden laid out. He’ll need to get someone else for that.
I must say, you’re taking this remarkably well.
What do you expect me to do? Start crying? Curl up in a ball in a dark room and mourn?
At least I know. And I’m not ill or anything—not that I know of, anyway—so it’s going to be an accident. It’ll be sudden. Which means that, if I hadn’t seen this list, it would catch us all off-guard. Now I’ve got time to put things in order. I can make arrangements to make sure Sarah and Jonny will be taken care of. I can get whatever work around here needs to be done finished, or at least started.
There’s always more work to do, I suppose. Always one more job. But at least I won’t have to worry that I didn’t do all I could.
He says, as though he had ever, in his life, put forth less than one hundred percent effort into anything he did.
That’s as may be. But still.
I’m sorry I won’t get to see my boy grow up. I can’t imagine what he and Martin will be like when they’re our age, or when they’re thirty, or when they’re old men.
You, I can easily imagine as an old man. Some grizzled old lighthouse keeper with a weatherbeaten face and snow-white hair, staring out over the storm-tossed ocean and longing…
Blackwoods don’t go white. We go silver.
You know I’ll look out for them for you, right?
I thought that went without saying. But…thank you.
(sigh) Damn. Hoped we could get you out of here before he got back.
And what brings you out to the haunts of coot and hearn?
She came to get my statement about the man I saw.
(gruffly) Told you to have nothing to do with him. Or the Institute. You want them to mark you?
I think it’s a bit late for that. He showed up yesterday and was watching the boys, and—well, he dropped his clipboard. List of names and dates.
(more gently) How long have you got?
Ten weeks, give or take. Enough time to finish the painting. Patch the roof over the dormer. I might even be able to get that shed built for you. I can definitely get the ground prepped, but I think you’ll need to get someone else to do the planting this year.
How can you think of that at a time like this, what?
Like I told Ms. Robinson here, what else am I supposed to do? Spend the rest of my life mourning that I won’t have more time? That just wastes the time I do have.
You’re facing down the End—
I’m facing death.
It is the same thing.
I can see how they’d get lumped together, but they’re really not. Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.
(audibly grinning) Look out, here comes trouble.
Granddad! Granddad!
All right, come here, you rips. What have you been up to?
We were just racing around the house and then we saw a skylark, honest we did, and Martin told me the poem about it, and—
And then it flew away and, and we heard your car and came to see you, and here you are!
(whispering loudly) Papa, is Mr. K’s surprise ready?
(matching his volume) Just about.
(also whispering loudly) I’m not deaf, laddie buck.
Why don’t you two go wash your hands and set the table for tea? I trust you to be careful.
Yes, sir!
Well. I won’t take up any more of your time. I suppose I’d best be getting back to the Institute.
Oh, hang the Institute, Trudy. Surely your assistants can spare you for the afternoon. I’m sure Mendelson won’t mind, what?
Mendelson retired more than fifteen years ago. James Wright is the current head of the Institute.
Wright? That little dog’s todger?
He does well. It surprised me, too.
I—I shouldn’t.
You’re not even a little curious to see what those two little nippers have conjured up as a surprise for Alastair’s birthday?
Speaking of those two, I am curious why Jonny calls you “Mr. K”.
“Koskiewicz” is a bit of a mouthful for a two-year-old.
(simultaneously and accurately mimicking Jon’s tones) Two and a quarter.
So why don’t they both call you “Granddad?”
We used to refer to him that way for both, but once Jonny started talking, he decided that if Martin can’t call my mother “Grandmother,” he wasn’t going to steal Martin’s grandfather. He wanted Martin to have someone of his very own.
Gertrude, he’s Lily’s boy.
(softly) My God.
I did tell you Kier got me a job with his father-in-law. Did you just not make the connection?
No, I—I didn’t.
How is Lily these days?
Lily’s…fine, ma’am.
Should’ve stayed at the Institute and left her to be raised by wolves. Would’ve solved a lot of problems.
Aye, but then we wouldn’t have our Wickie. And I wouldn’t trade him for a king’s ransom.
Hmm, yes, yes. Thank God he takes after his father, what?
…I take it she hasn’t improved with maturity, then.
Let’s just say there’s a reason Martin spends most of his days here when Kieran’s away for work.
U-um, ‘scuse me. Are—are you going to stay for tea, Ms. Robinson?
I really shouldn’t.
Come on, Trudy. Just an hour or two.
I have missed you, what?
Say you’ll join us.
Since you ask so politely…I’d be delighted.
Final notes.
I…I really don’t quite know what to say here. The statement itself is…fairly straightforward. Obviously those dates bear watching, but I suppose I can’t be certain of them. Of all the abilities I seem to have developed in the last twenty-five years, the ability to Know the future is not one of them.
Still, I suppose finding a way to warn the Stokers would not go amiss. Mr. Sims did give me a bit more to go on there.
I am not made of stone. I do feel very keenly for that young father and his…situation. He did finally get the chance to give me the last two names on the list, and I suppose it’s no surprise that they belonged to his son and his godson. (heh) They’re quite a pair, those two. I admit that I’m somewhat relieved the dates on their names were obscured before he could see them. No parent should have to know when their child is going to die.
And he has given me much to think about. I have a date. If his statement is accurate, I have a little over twenty-five years to accomplish all I need to accomplish. Of course, it’s entirely possible that those dates are the absolute limit, not the concrete end—that I will live no longer than that—but…well. That should give me time, if I work hard at it.
He’s right. There will always be more to do. (heh) Unless I fail, and it all ends. Perhaps that’s why the last three dates are—no. No, I have to believe that these rituals can be stopped, will be stopped. And now I have even more of a reason to work at them than before.
Honestly, I’m not sure what about this whole experience has shaken me more. Finding out the date of my own death…(voice hitches) or meeting my grandson.
I don’t think I’ll make a file in the Archives for this one.
What. The. Fuck.
(softly) Oh, God.
Gertrude Robinson was your grandmother?
I—I didn’t know…
Neither did I. I don’t—
It kind of explains a lot.
Like what?
Like why she avoided me? Like why errands to the Archives were the only ones Diana never sent me on?
A-and it’s—when, when Elias—when Jonah made me experience her death. I-it was—you said it wasn’t usually that intense.
Was that why? I could f-feel her thoughts and emotions because we’re not just connected by the Eye, we’re—related.
No one ever knew. No one apart from Alastair Koskiewicz, and Liliana herself, ever knew that Gertrude gave birth shortly before being appointed Archivist. The baby was placed with Alastair’s parents, for a while anyway, but they were quite elderly and died within a few months of each other four years later, at which time Alastair resigned his position in Research to raise her. Gertrude always made absolutely sure that nobody knew about Liliana. The one and only time she ever tried to reach out to her, Liliana made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with the woman who had given her life and nothing else, as far as she was concerned.
Gertrude didn’t know about you until that day, but afterward, you became the single driving force behind her war against the Fears. She worried that the appearance of the eye on the list might mean that the Ceaseless Watcher had taken an interest in you, and she became ruthless in her zeal to keep it away from you. She spoke with you only twice after that day, taking care to be in disguise and using a false name, just in case.
When she found out you had joined the Institute, she was devastated and terrified in equal measures. It was only when Elias Bouchard did not come down to the Archives to casually mention that he had hired Alastair Koskiewicz’s grandson that she realized her steps to protect you had been, in some small way, successful, and Jonah Magnus had no idea of the connection between her and you. Still, she redoubled her efforts, becoming ever more ruthless in her determination to stop the rituals, to make the world—
J-Jon. Jon!
Wh—(realizes) Oh, God. Martin, I’m sorry, I—
It’s okay. It’s okay. Just—settle down, okay?
Okay, I—
(sighs) Are you three all right?
Do you all need a minute?
Yeah. Thanks, Melanie.
We’ll probably be down in the tunnels. Whenever you’re ready.
(softly) They moved.
Grandmother and Grandfather, they—just before Danny was born. They’d always lived on this little farm, but they abruptly decided they wanted something smaller and moved to a flat not far from where we were living at the time. We moved a few months later. I never knew why, but…
Y-you think it was because Gertrude…found them. Tried to, to warn them. About Danny, about you.
Oh, Tim.
It’s okay. It’s okay.
It’s going to be okay.
We can get through this.
I like the sound of that.
Jon, I—I’m sorry your dad didn’t get to see the man you’ve become. I think he’d be proud of you.
Sounds like your grandfather would have been proud of you both.
He’d have been proud of you, too. I-if he’d had the chance to—I think you would have liked him.
I know he would have liked you.
…Thanks, Martin.
So—so now what? We go…up to Hainault, find the storage unit, figure out what it is—what’s up there?
No, not—not now. I-I need the weekend. I’ve…it’s been one thing after another for so long. I’ve been going non-stop. It’s not time-sensitive, not really, and…I’m tired.
Let’s just…not think about it for a couple of days. Let’s close down the Archives early and, I don’t know, go meet Charlie when he gets home from school and take him out for ice cream. Something like that. Let me have a couple of days to enjoy being home and with you again and—a-and we can worry about it on Monday.
We won’t talk about it. We won’t think about it. We’ll just…take a break. I think we all deserve it.
…Okay. Okay, that—that sounds good.
(deep sigh) Sure. Sounds great.
All right then. Let’s go.
6 notes · View notes
philliamwrites · 6 months ago
One Fool's Heart [Rank 6]
Fandom: Persona 5
Pairing: Akira / Reader, later: Akira / Akechi (one-sided)
Tags: #reader-insert, #implied/referenced past child abuse, #implied/referenced self-harm, #swearing, #unreliable narrator, #bisexual female character, #fem! reader, #bisexual akira kurusu, #reader is 23y, #reader is a student, #introducing a new arcana for plot’s sake, #unreal depictions of psychologists & psychiatrists, #references to depression, #humor, #slow burn, #persona 5 spoilers, #angst and hurt/comfort, #age difference #consenual underage romance, #eating disorder, #healing, #persona 3 easter eggs, #persona 4 easter eggs, #no persona 5 royal spoilers
Words: 12.9k
Summary: All you wanted was a nice part time job to scrape by. But if you had known how much of a smug sass-master Akira Kurusu would turn out to be, you’d have thought twice about agreeing to tutor him.
Notes: Rank 5 | Rank 7
[Rank 6]
    “Pickpockets and cat burglars get charged with larceny, but what about these next two cases?” asks the game show host, pulling up cards to the viewers. “A: Take money from a lost wallet, or B: Joyride, but return the car?”
    You’re nibbling on your cup’s rim, squinting at the TV screen. “It’s gotta be A, right?”
    Narukami doesn’t even look up as he struggles to pull a pizza slice on his plate. “It’s B.”
    “The correct answer is B! Saying you planned on returning it just won’t fly in court!”
    You don’t have to see to know Narukami is giving you a smug smile, and for that you try and push him off the couch. He remains unfazed as if he’s Siddhartha Gautama himself sitting below the sacred fig tree. “That’s cheating,” you say.
    “You consume gas and wear down the tires. Driving someone’s car without permission is larceny,” Narukami explains with a casual voice like he’s talking to a grade schooler. “Taking something that someone lost or dropped is theft by finding, a much lighter crime.”
    “Stop showing off.”
    Narukami gives you an indulgent smile. For someone claiming he hasn’t slept in 29 hours, he’s surprisingly attentive and ready to pounce on every sort of bullshit you think you might get away with. Only the grayish shadows under his eyes betray how exhausted he must be. And still he accepted your invitation to hang out. He’s either a fool for giving up so much of himself for you, or a saint. Sometimes the line between those is paper thin.
    Suddenly, Narukami leans over and sniffs at your shoulder, which is rude much? You startle back to the other side of the couch, eyes wide.
    “Oh, wow! Dude, wow! Ever heard of, eh, personal space? Is that still a thing that we do?” you say like you never huddle too close to him whenever you’re cold and rob him of excessive warmth.
    “Coffee,” he says, ignoring you. “You smell like coffee lately.”
    “Yeah? You do know it’s the only thing keeping me alive, right?” It’s a strange observation because you probably owe him a car’s worth considering how often he pays for coffee when you two meet up or you shut yourself in during exam periods and he comes over to check if you’re still alive.
    “No.” Narukami shakes his head. “This is like … quality stuff. Not the cheap poison you drink.”
    “Well, excuse you,” you mutter. Heat settles in your cheeks. He must pick on Leblanc’s trademark scent which is unsurprising. You’ve spent the past days lounging in Leblanc, helping Akira catch up with his studies during summer break. Those sessions only confirmed what you’ve learnt the last couple of weeks: Akira really doesn’t need tutoring. He’s smart and picks up on things very quickly. The way he adapts to problems with lightning speed is something you should learn from himin fact. So that opens up the bigger question: Why are you two still doing this? You’re sure he’s got better stuff to do than meet twice a week for barely needed tutor sessions. Even so he demands you two meet up, and still insists to pay even though you told him tutoring became more like a favour than an actual job.
    “I don’t mind,” he’d said when you settled in his room, watching him play a game on his dinosaur of a console. “It’s the condition of our deal, isn’t it?”
    “If you want us only to be all business, sure,” you’d told him, scribbling notes on a chart paper. “I just thought you’d have better use of 7,000yen than wasting it on me.”
    “I don’t think I’m wasting it.” Akira had looked away from his TV at you, his grey eyes the colour of a storm cloud. “Especially not on you.”
    “Sweet talker.” You’d nudged his knee with your toes, and Akira caught your ankle to place your foot on his thigh like it’s a daily ritual for you two.
    It’s still such a mystery why he’s single.
    Speaking of single, only one slice of pizza is left. While you were thinking about Akira, Narukami has vacuumed almost everything. He notices as much and stares from the now nearly empty carton to your plate.
    “How are you still not finished?” he asks, considering your barely nibbled slice that’s gone cold.
    “Huh?” You follow his eyes to your untouched plate. When you think back to your last decent meal, your mind becomes blank.
    “Uh, I’ve already eaten. Brunch,” you lie. “Just two hours ago.”
    “And you still decided to order pizza?” Narukami shakes his head. “Talk about waste of money.”
    “Sorry, dad.”
    “I didn’t raise you to be like this.”
    “You didn’t raise me at all,” you mumble, tugging your toes under his naked thighs. Narukami looks at you like you’ve lost your mind, which might be true because it’s 86F outside, not uncommon for mid-August, and you still manage to have cold feet. He tries to shuffle away, but there’s only so far he can get on your small couch until he reaches the end. With a defeated sigh, Narukami succumbs to be your heater, as if he ever got a chance for a different outcome, that fool.
    You lean back and slurp your ice tea, when your phone starts buzzing with an incoming call. The screen tells you it’s Cat Boy calling, and before you can stop it, a smile has already found its way on your face. Narukami raises an eyebrow at the name which reminds you that you have to tell him the story how Akira jumped into Ryuji’s arms and demanded to be carried because he refused to walk on wet ground. It’s a whole new level of extra that didn’t surprise you about him.
    “What’s up?” you greed him, wiggling your toes under Narukami. He mouths “Stop it” at you.
    “What do you know about cognitive psience?” Akira asks, his voice a little muffled.
    You tug your phone between ear and shoulder, grabbing a note pad and pen from your table. “Cognitive science?”
    “No, psience. With psi.”
    “I, well. I’m not sure. It might have been mentioned sometime during a lecture as a new research field, but I don’t think I have much about it.”
    “Could you look into it for me?”
    “Uhh, what’s it for?”
    Wood creaks in the background, and you hear a conversation in hushed whispers. “It’s part of our deal, isn’t it? ” Akira says, trying to sound carefree but you don’t miss the little edge to his voice. Or maybe it’s just bad reception. “You teach me about all the things I don’t know.”
    “Okay. Fine. I mean, yeah, sure. Just give me some time.”
    “You’re the best, teach,” Akira says, and before you can reply, he’s already ended the call. You blink at your phone, a little surprised. Narukami watches you with mild interest, chewing the last pizza slice slowly.
    “Kids these days,” you say with a shake of your head.
    “You tell me.” Narukami sighs and sinks deeper into the cushions. “Nanako stopped calling me big bro. She thinks it’s embarrassing for her age.”
    “You poor man.”
    Narukami pinches the thin skin on your ankle. “I’m serious. I can’t believe she’ll be 15 this year.”
    “I bet she’ll be a real heart breaker.”
    He looks at you in utter shock, like the very thought that Nanako might soon engage in romantic relationships didn’t occur to him at all. His protective instinct towards her warms your heart like the early sunshine winking in your room each morning.
    “And now, please welcome the young Charismatic Detective, Goro Akechi!”
    Your head snaps to the TV just as Akechi appears on screen. A bolt strikes through you as the image of your first meeting in Leblanc settles in your mind, him leaning over Akira. You scramble to your feet and jump over the narrow table, ignoring Narukami calling your name in warning as your toes barely miss a bottle of water. He probably worries for your sanity, but nothing can stop you. You kneel in front of your TV, holding your weight with both hands pressed against the screen and stare at Akechi’s face, waiting for a close up. When it finally comes, whatever he’s saying to the host and audience is lost on you. You stick your tongue out and drag it over Screen-Akechi’s cheek.
    There’s silence. Then, Narukami, because he’s your bestest friend, very gently, says, “What the fuck are you doing.”
    “My fortune reader told me that’s how I can get insight about my rival,” you explain, smacking your lips. It tastes like plastic. Which means Akechi must be fake. You’re a genius.
    Narukami whispers your name softly. He sounds like you hurt him on a spiritual level.
    “What?” you say, frowning. “Shut up, I’m an intellectual.”
    “God, please help me with this idiot,” Narukami mumbles looking up at the ceiling. “Get back here and explain. How do you even know him. And please don’t believe everything your fortune teller says.”
    You listen for now and retreat back to your seat, tugging your toes back where they belong under Narukami’s legs. He gives a disgusted groan, but you don’t know if it’s because of your feet or what you just did. Could be both.
    “Let’s just say I became a fan of the Phantom Thieves and I don’t like what he’s saying about them,” you explain because it’s easier than the truth: that he’s your rival in love and you’re trying to conquer the heart of your underage student.
    “Since when do you support the Phantom Thieves?” Narukami asks, looking more than doubtful. You haven’t really told him about the fallout with your dad and it causing your opinion on them doing a complete turnaround, but it’s constantly waiting on the tip of your tongue. You only need the right time to confide in him.
    “Well, since … you know. Since they dealth with Kaneshiro.”
    Narukami hums thoughtfully and nods, but the way he’s looking at you screams he knows you’re hiding something from him. Still, he lets it drop for now and looks back at the screen, considering Akechi. “I heard he’s the Second Advent of the Detective Prince. I knew the first one.”
    “I didn’t tell you?” he says, turning back to you. “Naoto Shirogane was my underclassman in high school.”
    “What is she doing now? Can we get her so she can hand him his ass?”
    “You really don’t like him, huh?” Narukami observes impartially, watching the boy answer a few questions from the audience.
    “Yeah, well, what can I say. He seems like a fake bitch,” you mutter, sharing your revelation with him. Narukami grunts a barely restrained laugh.
    “He’s what? 18? Be the adult one, will you?”
    You mumble where he can put being the adult one under your breath. Narukami pinches your ankle again.
    “Well, he sure seems nice, doesn’t he?” he says. “And apparently everyone shares his opinion about the Phantom Thieves and Medjed.”
    “Because that’s what he wants you to believe,” you groan, waving your hands in wild gesticulation and only missing the pinboard showcasing your conspiracy theory behind you. “What if he’s a serial killer. Detective at day, serial killer at night. Wasn’t there some case like that in a rural city a couple of years ago?”
    Narukami tenses beside you for a moment, his fingers disappearing from your skin. “You’re paranoid,” he says with a strange edge to his voice. “And I don’t know. Never heard of a case like that.”
    You hum thoughtfully, feeling like there’s something he doesn’t tell you. For all the things he demands you to tell him, there’s shockingly little you know about Narukami and it hasn’t bothered you much. But now that you’ve known the benefits of trusting someone thanks to Akira, maybe it’s time to work on your friendship.
    So you lean forward and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing.
    “It’s okay, Yuu,” you say, feeling confident. “I may be a paranoid idiot, but I am your paranoid idiot. And I’ll be it as long as we’re together.”
    Narukami raises an eyebrow. “Why does this feel like a marriage proposal.”
    “It can be anything you want, sweetie.”
    He grunts, now unable to fight the smile on his face. “If you say so.” Narukami taps a rhythm on your leg, eyes fixed on the screen that’s showing a pole about the public’ votes of who might become the next prime minister. He narrows his eyes as he goes through the list. “I heard your dad might become a member of congress? They introduced him as a potential candidate,” he starts carefully, treading into dangerous waters. He eyes you sideways, probably waiting for a rejection that will stop him like an iceberg and sink his ship.
    “He didn’t tell me anything,” you say, and you can see how Narukami visibly exhales as he’s allowed to transit. “And we haven’t seen each other since he blessed me with an unannounced visit. But politics is exactly the thing he needs to stoke his ego.”
    Narukami throws you little glances as if he’s still estimating when you’ll close the door on him. ”He’ll be entirely focused on his work, even more than now, won’t he?”
    “Nothing unusual about that,” you say, looking where he’s playing an uneven rhythm on your ankle. “I don’t even know the last time he went to see my brother.”
    His fingers stop. “You have a brother?”
    “Yeah.” You take in a shaky breath, focusing on breathing instead of thinking about all the ways to abandon the topic from its course. “And he’s what the kids call ‘troubled.’”
    Narukami shifts, all amusement drained from his face as he gives you his undivided attention. Talking about Kinoe feels a lot less like fumbling on a thorn stuck in your flesh. It’s the soothing balm after a burn, the warming bath after spending nights in the freezing cold. Narukami listens to you as if he’s always waited all his life for this moment, knowing it’s the last piece to finish a puzzle that will give him a clear picture of you. When you’re done, he’s resting both hands intertwined on your foot as if in prayer, frowning deeply.
    “Your brother deserves better,” he says quietly, his gaze solely fixed on you. You feel strangely vulnerable, but it’s the first time it isn’t connected to a bad feeling and instead you feel like you’re finally bearing your innermost fears. “And what your father does is unacceptable. Kinoe isn’t a minor anymore, and therefore should decide to leave the facility whenever he wants.”
    “If only it were that easy,” you sigh. “At this point I don’t know if he knows … or wants.”
    “But was his referral justified?” Narukami asks, straight to the case. It’s still hard to decide if you like or hate that about him.
    “Yes, he needs medical treatment, if you mean that.” Meeting his eyes becomes harder, so instead you focus on a blank spot on a shelf where for some time after your moving in, you’d kept a picture of you and Kinoe that’s mysteriously disappeared after a visit from your mother. “I remember when he started feeling unwell. And when everything got worse.”
    Not that this is something you might easily forget. Saying your earliest memories of him start in the womb sounds like something from a movie and you don’t believe in superstitious stuff like that. But then again, rather than a memory, it’s more like a feeling. The feeling that the only right way to be born is together, side by side with another person instead of alone. Some very clear memories of you together are how you two were four years and fighting for a pink doll’s plastic car. When you won, Kinoe was so upset with you he punched your nose bloody. Or when you mocked him for getting into anime and he didn’t talk to you for a whole week. The only way to make up then was to watch a whole season of his current favourite show, and yeah, you had to admit anime wasn’t so bad.
    But once he became a teenager, everything turned worse. Instead of talking each other’s ears off, you spend hours silently in your separate rooms, a locked door to his room and heart not allowing to remain. The first time your mother found out he’d hurt himself willingly ended in a full night of her screaming at him to stop because she was afraid of what her neighbours and friends might think.
    Kinoe turned from a bright boy charming everyone with his jokes and spectacular acting abilities to a withdrawn, quiet hermit not leaving his room with his eyes glued to the ground; moments of clear and bright moods more often and quickly followed by nervous breakdowns and uncontrollable crying. You imagine now he must have been like walking around with his head on fire and no one could see the flames.
    You always thought you were the one helpless; unable to support him or help, unable to change the way he sees the world. But how much worse was it for Kinoe, imprisoned in a mind that didn’t allow him to; couldn’t see the good, the worthwhile, the little promises of overcoming hardships. It was something you learnt only once he was gone, locked up by your dad and never mentioned again like a dirty secret that might cease to exist once forgotten.
    The word missing can’t even encompass what you feel right now. Everyone says twins have a special connection, that they are so much more emotionally linked to each other, but you doubt it’s different from normal siblings. Right now, you just want to see him, and hold him, and maybe hold him so tight you can crawl into his skin and stay there so nothing separates you again. Maybe that’s the only thing differentiating you from siblings. The physical proximity that calls for its original; being born from the very same egg, the very same protein structure.
    “I wish I had a sibling,” Narukami says after you finish talking, and you’re very thankful he doesn’t comment on you red, tear-dimmed eyes. Something wistful lies in his expression, making him look a lot younger.
    “Nanako left that much of an impression on you, huh?” you say, surprised by how steady you sound even though your chest feels like it’s crushed by grief.
    “Nanako, uncle Dojima. Pretty much everyone in Inaba.”
    “But you don’t really talk much about your time there,” you start slowly, unsure where this conversation is heading. “I always got the feeling it wasn’t so good after all.”
    “There were good and bad things, as are everywhere,” Narukami states, his expression wistful. “I only managed because I met a bunch of great people who helped me and made me the person I am today.”
    “Why did you go in the first place?”
    Narukami hesitates for a brief second, bracing himself for God knows what. “I didn’t have much of a choice. My parents send me there because they were working overseas.”
    “Were your parents also a little too focused on their work?” you ask, feeling like Narukami opens the biography to your own life when he nods.
    “Work is like a religion to them. You either give everything up for it or you’re doing it wrong.” He pauses and looks at the TV screen. Ironically, a commercial about parents going on vacation with their children is showing, mocking you both. “So of course they wanted me to be their honour student, their perfect son. They were never satisfied.”
    “How can you be so … nonchalant about it?”
    He shrugs, returning your gaze. “I never hated them for focusing on their work or being away all the time. I knew pretty early nothing I did would change that. I didn’t give them a reason to be disappointed, but I never strove to outdo their expectations. I wanted to live. Be a normal kid and do dumb stuff kids do.”
    And you feel the last one; know exactly what he means. It’s the same with your parents, even more so with your mother, and you understand why you still cling to the pride of youth, the glory of rebellion teenagers thrive on—the need to be different from them is so strong, it’s basically a own life force propelling you forward.
    “You’ve become a suspiciously decent person despite having parents like that,” you say, not ready in the slightest to go on with such heavy, depressing topics.
    Narukami manages a sound between groan and grunt. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
    “I mean it,” you say, scrambling to your knees. “I’m glad you’re around. And I’m glad you are the person you are right now.” Struck with a flash of affection towards him, you lean forward and loop your arms around his shoulders, holding him tightly. He tenses for a brief second, then relaxes immediately.
    “I’m sorry our parents suck,” you mumble against his shirt, feeling tears burn behind your eyes again.
    Narukami’s body rumbles with a deep chuckle. His hands settle on your arm, patting gently. “I’m not. It allowed me to meet a different kind of family. One that doesn’t start in blood.”
    You exhale a shaky breath, your heart squeezed to the size of a walnut. “I can’t believe you’re quoting Supernaturalfor me, Yu.”
    This time, he explodes into a real, throaty laugh. “I hate this show so much. But that is something they did right.”
    “Yeah,” you say, listening to the beating heart of another warm, familiar body. “And so did we.”
    When news about the Phantom Thieves’ victory over Medjed spread, you consider sending Akechi a gift basket with flowers and a card saying Fuck you. Narukami chides you for your immaturity and he’s right, so you settle on stealing your friends’ phones and open their social media to unfollow Akechi. Not that it’s a major blow. His reputation dropped faster than your grades after the disastrous essay you wrote before Kenji took you to Crossroads. The backfire sort of tingles your sense of pity whenever comments border on downright inhumane, but whenever there’s talk about him on TV, you quickly switch channels or stop listening.
    Nonetheless, it’s 1:0 for the Phantom Thieves and messages about their little deeds on the forum spread with each day. More and more often you catch yourself writing the first lines of a potential request, only to close the document and dump it into a multiple path of folders where you’ll hopefully forget about it because they’re just too many folders to open. How unfortunate something like quick access exists.
    Your happy mood only lasts so long until Akira informs you about his class planning a school trip to Hawaii so there won’t be lessons for a full week. Which isn’t bad at all. No. You can totally go without seeing him for seven days; been there, done that. Especially since during his summer break he seemed to be busy with tons of other obligations and part-time jobs and something about needing to bring more water and sunscreen for the desert. Whatever that meant.
    So when you finally, finally see him again around mid September, nerves tensed with joy and anticipation, the sight of a certain boy sitting at Leblanc’s bar with a steaming cup in slender fingers destroys every bit of excitement. When Akechi looks up, it takes him only a few seconds to recognise who you are.
    “Ah, the tutor,” he greets you with a pleasant smile, lowering the cup from his lips. “I was hoping to see you again to clarify the misunderstanding from last time.”
    “I don’t know,” you say, taking a seat at the bar as well but leaving two stools between you and the detective. He eyes you sideways, but doesn’t comment on it. “Does Akira know you’re walking around and deny everything?”
    Akechi blinks. Sojiro coughs behind his newspaper, probably trying to cover up a laugh.
    “Where is he anyway?” you ask, turning to Leblanc’s owner.
    “Went to the public bath,” Sojiro grunts, flipping a page. “He should be back in a bit. You want a drink? Curry?”
    “No curry,” you immediately reply, maybe a little too hasty. You hope you don’t grow pale. Sojiro raises an eyebrow but only shrugs. “Coffee it is then.”
    While he goes to work, your eyes catch movement. Akechi turns his upper body towards you, opening the conversation without handing you an invitation. Unsure what to expect, you only turn your head a little, observing him with caution.
    “Kurusu is very secretive about what you two do,” he starts, and you don’t know if he’s deliberately making it sound as if you two are holding conversations about starting an anarchy. Or fuck. Oh God, you hope Akechi doesn’t think you two fuck instead of study. “So I’ve been wondering about your studies.”
    “You’re the detective,” you say dryly. “You tell me.”
    Akechi laughs, but you fail to see the joke in what you said. “That is true. Which also means I can’t just guess and be correct. That would make me a psychic, which I’m not.” He leans forward, eyes focused on your face. You shudder. “Or am I?”
    You don’t like the way he’s staring at you, like you’re the exotic exhibit in a museum. The sigh of relief escaping you when he finally leans back quickly dissipates when he says, “It’s psychology, right?”
    What the, you think, and then “What the?” you say.
    Akechi smiles, pleased with himself. “Excuse me, I couldn’t resist. After our very first meeting, I saw you once more inside a book store, purchasing a magazine about neuropsychoanalysis. I doubt you’d buy it if it was just a mere hobby since it belongs to the more expensive books on infantile amnesia targeting a specific audience. I deduced that it is something you really have to invest in and understand on top of it, hence psychology. So, not the work of a psychic, but it’s always a pleasure to see people react like you did.”
    Yeah, not the work of a psychic, but a stalker, you don’t say, because fuck Goro Akechi, right?
    “Okay, haha,” you say. It sounds like wheezing. “Got me there.”
    “Does Kurusu plan to pursue the same field of study?”
    “I don’t know,” you say, though you clearly remember Akira telling you that going to college isn’t something he can decide at the moment. Now that you know about his criminal record, it doesn’t seem so far fetched that only a handful of colleges might accept Akira. Which uncoils another knot of hot fury when you remember the unfairness of his case.
    “Strange. I thought it’s something you talk about,” says Akechi and successfully forces himself back into the centre of your attention. This time you don’t miss how he deliberately makes it sound like such topics should be priority between tutors and students, and while it isn’t something you two explicitly talk about (no really, what do you two talk about, you wonder, and quickly remember you don’t talk much besides studying and occasionally exchanging sad cat memes), you’re aware of his situation and the difficulties coming with it. So of course you don’t bring it up, lest talking about it ends up rubbing salt into the wound, and Akira probably doesn’t want that either. Unless he’s a masochist. Now that might be an interesting conversation topic.
    Thinking of the devil, Akira finally makes his appearance and strolls inside Leblanc, whistling an off-key tune. He notices Akechi first, and it’s strange to see how obvious he is, the smile reaching his eyes even before the corners of his mouth can catch up. If he thinks his glasses are obstacle enough to hide behind, you have very bad news for him. When he finally sees you as well, the smile is stuck between grimace and surprise. His eyes grow a little wider, and for a split second you imagine how they follow the curve of your exposed neck. Since the temperatures don’t get any more endurable in the evening hours, you put your hair into a loose bun, stray stands falling into your face and curling around the nape of your neck. Maybe he thinks you look more like a homeless than usual and saves his comment for when you’re alone.
    Morgana is the first to set the picture back into motion. He jumps on the bar stool beside you and greets you with a loud meow.
    “Why, hello to you too, handsome,” you say, scratching him behind his ears. He answers with another enthusiastic meow, licking at your thumb. Akira stops behind your stool, one hand drying his unruly hair with the towel hanging around his shoulders.
    “Why don’t you greet me like that,” he mumbles but does a poor job saying the words quietly. You’d really like to jokingly ask if he means you or Morgana, but Akechi beats you to it and says, “You certainly look refreshed after your bath. Maybe I should try it as well some day.”
    “You mean cleaning yourself? Yeah, that might help,” you say at the same time as Akira says, “Yeah, let’s go together next time.”
    Only Sojiro’s pen scratching on paper and the quiet mumbling of the TV fills the silence around you. Morgana looks like he’d like to be anywhere but here and you agree. Akechi only smiles pleasantly, and you want to kick him under the bar where no one sees it.
    “Well kids, that’s my cue to go,” Sojiro announces and folds his newspaper. You’re slightly amazed by the trust he places in Akira, leaving his shop to him, a bunch of fishy kids and a cat. He takes his leave, and you aren’t sure how to get through this evening without him. Begging him to stay seems a little too much for your current level of acquaintance, so you remain in your seat and stare at the shelf filled with coffee beans in front of you, trying to guess the prices for each sort and failing spectacularly. Luckily, life returns back into Akira. He pulls the towel off his shoulders and walks past the bar. “Wait here, I need to change again,” he says. “This heat is horrible.”
    He disappears upstairs, and you can’t for the love of God and all that is Holy bear to sit any second longer beside Akechi, so you slide off your stool and quickly follow Akira upstairs, apparently deaf to what he just said. Akechi pretends to be interested in the evening news, but you feel his eyes heavy on you just before you disappear around the corner.
    “Akira, can we talk about your taste in friends?” you start once you reach the top, “I mean, no offence, but—”
    Your thoughts hit a brick wall, exploding into thousands bits you don’t know which to start picking up first. Right in front of you is the glory that is Akira’s naked upper body, white skin stretching over taut back muscles.
    His damp hair is in soft, humid curls, and you feel a slow flip inside you, like your stomach running over. It seems unusually black, probably because his skin is so pale. Even the sun in Hawaii wasn’t able to leave any trace, and you wonder what would remain on his body. Does he bruise easily? How would teeth mark look on his skin? He looks so delicate—you have to glance away from the shape of his shoulder blades, the fragility of his spine, but there’s only so long you can avert your eyes while knowing that he is in front of you. When you return your sight on him, Akira looks up in just that moment. Your eyes meet, and there is something vulnerable in his eyes. Only now you notice he isn’t wearing his glasses, and it knocks the breath out of you realising how much younger he looks without them. That vulnerability disappears so quick behind a cocky smile, you wonder if maybe his glasses work as a sort of mask he usually hides behind. “Wanna take a picture?” he asks.
    “I said, I’ll be down in a second,” he says, grinning when you glare at him.
    “Yeah, just hurry up.” When you turn away, Akira exhales audibly, making you stop. Before you can turn around and ask if everything is alright, Akira has already closed the distance and reaches a hand up to your hair.
    “Don’t wear it like that.” His low voice is hot breath on your skin. You don’t dare to turn around, afraid of the look on his face. His fingers unclasp the clip from your hair, his thumb a ghost touch on the nape of your neck. Soft curls fall over your shoulders like a waterfall, obscuring your pounding pulse.
    Akira takes a step back, allowing you to breathe again. Unsure how to react, you hold your hand out to him. “You wanna give that back?”
    “Okay.” It comes out more as an exhale and stays hanging in the air. Making your way back downstairs, you think about a different way Akira could have shown his dislike about you wearing your hair like that, but whatever. Now it happened and you’re glad about a few more seconds away from him so you can sort out your feelings about what you just saw and he just did.
    Back down, you notice Akechi is gone. Good. Maybe Morgana ate him. Said cat lies curled up on a bar stool, purring, and you let him rest. Meanwhile, you spread out the tasks for Akira, and when he returns downstairs, wearing a dark red shirt to your dismay, and notices Akechi has left, the disappointment about that is so clear on his face, you have to look away and pretend you’re engrossed in the news coverage of a car accident that’s occurred a couple of days ago.
    “Oh,” you say when they show the victim’s picture and occupation, forgetting all about Akechi. “Oh God. Your school’s principle is dead?”
    Akira follows your gaze, and his expression darkens. “Yeah,” he says, his voice sounding distant like it doesn’t really concern him. “Some say he’s been targeted by the Phantom Thieves.”
    “Why? I thought they only changed the hearts of criminals?”
    “Remember their first target, Kamoshida? Apparently our principal new everything and covered him.” Akira sits down and opens a note book, scribbling a barely recognisable logo of the Phantom Thieves in a corner.
    “Still, killing?” You take the seat opposite from him, starting a game of tic-tac-toe in the opposite corner. “The Phantom Thieves don’t do that.”
    “Hmm,” Akira hums thoughtfully, and accepts your challenge.
    Needless to say, you don’t get much studying done that day, and when you leave a few hours later, Akira still holds onto you hair clip.
    The high temperatures are quickly followed by heavy showers and intense thunder you wish would hit you because no one likes finals and every lecturer thinks their seminars are the most important. Case studies pile up on your desk, charts wait to be analysed, and you dread the last week of next month in which every day holds an exam and no time in between to study properly. And student council wonders why the higher ups complain about dropping grades.
    Unable to do anything but bow to the system, you stock up on additional literature and tons of coffee to fortify yourself in your apartment, deliberately leaving out ingredients or even oven-ready food. Just thinking about eating makes your stomach flip, and you’re not hungry anyway. Or at least that’s what you tell yourself.
    Leaving the last shop for today, another bookstore selling additional scripts, you step out into the pouring rain. People hurry to catch their trains or get under a roof, and you entertain the idea to retreat to the Diner that added a new item to the menu: the Pururun Fresh Tea that somehow never fails to make you feel a little more charming after finishing one cup. But nothing beats the safe comfort of your own walls, and who knows, maybe you’ll pass out and when Narukami comes over to check on you, he’ll see how hard you worked and pity you enough to invite you to some drinks.
    So towards home you go, hiding under your transparent umbrella, and clutching the book bag close to your side before water damage destroys the thousands of yen you just spent. Five feet towards Shibuya Central Station later you hear footsteps explode like gunshots somewhere behind you. Hoping the runners won’t hit you with puddle water, you step out of the way, but it doesn’t matter because you’re the target and just like that, Akira and goddamn freaking Akechi huddle with you under the safe, dry space, both flushed and breathing heavily like they just ran a marathon. Or made out in a dark alleyway. You bite your lower lip and force your mind to think about kitties and puppies and not how good a bruise would look on Akechi’s face.
    “What is it with guys and not knowing about personal space?” you say, trying to avoid pressing your arm against Akechi’s. “Is chivalry dead or what?”
    “We didn’t want to wait for the rain to pass,” Akira explains, and shakes his head like a wet cat, getting water all over the place. Akechi and you exchange the briefest look an outsider might interpret as you two planning to strangle Akira.
    “So you just mug the first person you see?”
    “No, but it’s you, and you live near Leblanc.”
    “Still not convinced.”
    “Please, it would be bad if any of us got sick in this rain,” Akechi joins, and tentatively places his hand on yours so he’s holding onto your umbrella as well, and leans it more to his side, getting you two others wet. Akira and you exchange the briefest look an outsider might interpret as you two planning to drown Akechi.
    “Let’s just go to the subway,” you say when his eyes shift to where Akechi and you are basically holding hands. You want to tell him that you also hate it and that you’d love changing positions and those two could hands for all that you care. This evening can’t go worse, right?
    As you make your way agonisingly slow to the subway, because it’s harder than expected with limbs everywhere and bodies touching all the time, you say, “So, are you guys on a date?”
    Akira winks. “Maybe.”
    Akechi opens his mouth and chokes on saliva, but you aren’t entirely sure that’s the only reason he flushes furiously. “Certainly not.”
    “Hey, I won’t judge,” you say a little too sullen, wondering why Akira doesn’t take you out on a date.
    “We went to the cinema,” Akira fails to clarify. He’s cleaning his glasses with the hem of his shirt, and you’re not sure how effective that is, but Akira seems pleased, even though there’s still the smudge of a finger left on a lower corner. You swallow the urge to play mother hen, currently preoccupied with untangling your elbow out from between Akechi’s side and arm.
    “The movie was certainly entertaining,” Akechi says, not moving his arm whatsoever. Probably because he doesn’t want his shirt to get wetter, that jerk. “Though I’m not a big fan of open endings. What do you think, did the top stop spinning?”
    “It did,” Akira says.
    “It didn’t,” Akechi replies.
    “You watched Inception?” you ask.
    “We still got some popcorn left, if you want,” Akira offers to you, and to Akechi he says with the very same breath, “It totally did.”
    “It certainly didn’t.”
    “Does it even matter?” you throw in, returning your umbrella back to its case once you reach the station. It’s filled with people looking for shelter from the rain; the air humid and stuffy with the smell of sweat and wet clothes. “It doesn’t really tell us if it’s a dream, because consider how totems work in that world and you figure out it might stop because he expects it to stop because he thinks he’s back, but he also might still be dreaming.”
    Akira and Akechi pull a face at you for spoiling their game. When you’re the first walking through the control terminal, you’re pretty sure you can still hear them argue quietly, completely ignoring your thoroughly-explained analysis.
    The train compartment is surprisingly full at this kind of hour. Most seats are filled with teenagers and young adults either on their way home or heading for one of the city bars. You three huddle to the opposite end, where one only one seat is open.
    “Take it,” Akira says to you, slowly pushing you down like you’re an old grandma.
    “I don’t need it,” you say, but Akira insists, pushing harder until you’re sitting down with a clear sight of two pairs of slim hips. Immediately, your eyes go down to where the bag rests on your lap, pretending to check the contents. From down here, it’s harder to join their conversation. They’re talking about a show or a game, and Akira has his phone out and shows something to Akechi, and because it’s a situation like that, Akechi leans forward to get a better look and their cheeks almost touch. You watch them with with narrowed eyes, staring daggers at Akechi, which he notices because this is just your kind of lucky day. Your eyes lock for a second, but it’s hard to read anything in his. Also, what is this colour he has, you wonder for the first time, only noticing now how unnatural the brown is. Maybe it’s just the harsh neon light above you turning them into a strange, harsh hue that’s borderline aggressive. You blink, and it’s gone.
    The train jolts.
    Akira looses his footing, threatening to fall backwards and during the split second that you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do, Akechi’s hand shoots out and grabs Akira’s wrist, holding onto him like a vice.
    The driver’s apology rattles unintelligibly through the cabins as Akira and Akechi stare at each other with wide eyes.
    “Better hold on to something,” Akechi says with a brilliant smile that makes you want to vomit. Akira’s reaction is quite different as red blotches explode on his face, disappearing under his shirt where it covers his neck and you can’t believe this. Akira. Blushing. Embarrassed. Now you really feel sick.
    “You should have taken the seat instead,” you say, nudging Akira’s foot with yours. He runs a hand through his hair, breathing a soft laugh.
    “No, it’s fine,” he says, glancing sideways to Akechi who’s currently focused on an advertisement above your head. It sounds like he’s dismissing a peasant. “I think I’ll manage.”
    You don’t doubt that for a second.
    In Yongen-Jaya you finally snap back to their attention as the only one carrying an umbrella, and it feels more uncomfortable than before walking between them. By now Akira has noticed something is bothering you, and he keeps talking about Morgana’s strange morning habits. It barely manages to lift your mood, but his effort alone soothes your raw nerves and uncurls tight knots inside you.
    Leblanc is dark when you reach it. Akira looks through the glass anyway, but it only confirms that Sojiro is long gone.
    “You wanna come in too?” Akira asks, patting his jeans for the keys. Usually, you wouldn’t say no to a free cup of exquisite coffee, but right now your brain refuses to stay attentive for more than five seconds. Plus you feel like cockblocking them any longer isn’t good for any of you, so what happens should happen. Not that it concerns you. You can totally live with that. Without him in that certain way.
    “I can hear my bed screaming for me,” you tell them, already waving goodbye. You wonder if they can see how desperate you are to get away. “Enjoy your quote-not-date-unquote.”
    “Uuuhm.” Akira stops patting his pockets and finally turns around, dips his head, and looks up at you and Akechi with big, doe like eyes from behind thick, black lashes. “I may or may not have forgotten my keys inside.”
    You want to ask him if he’s stupid, but then you remember all the times you had to couch surf at Iori’s before asking the janitor to open your door. Now you pat his back and head in condolences, cooing “There, there,” and Akira nods like he’s been kicked and deserves at least a million yen of injury award, leaning like a cat into your touch. You wonder how you could have thought just seconds ago you’d be totally fine without him.
    Akechi clears his throat, looking like he thinks you both are imbeciles. “It would be a terrible inconvenience, but why don’t you give Boss a call. I am sure he’ll come at once to let us in.”
    “Or accuse me of losing them on purpose,” Akira mutters, but his hand dips into his pocket and holds onto his phone, contemplating for a moment. His eyes land on you, and even while he’s chirping your name, you already say, “No.”
    Akira’s shoulders drop. “I haven’t said anything yet.”
    “And you don’t need to. Listen to the smart detective and call Sojiro.”
    You don’t understand why Akira hesitates, and it’s something you’ll probably never know. The only lead you’re holding onto is that even though he lives in the attic above the cafe, he doesn’t fully trust Sojiro with whatever is going on in his mind. Which is fine, because everyone carries their secrets, and even you know how hard it is to try and allow someone to help carry the weight. That’s the only reason you end up asking, “What do you want?”
    Akira looks at you with an expression that’s clearly indicating he has a bad idea and he knows it. “We could go to your place,” he offers.
    You think about that for two seconds. “How about we don’t.”
    “You’d rather leave us here in the cold rain?” Akira pushes his bottom lip forward, bribing you with big puppy eyes. Behind you, Akechi starts a coughing fit that sounds as fake as his rehearsed TV interview responses. Akira joins, but he doesn’t even make an effort to sound authentic.
    “You’re the worst,” you mumble, but no one is surprised when you gesture them to follow you. Moving past Akechi, you swear you can hear a quiet high five behind you. Or maybe that was only rain. Akechi doesn’t strike you as someone giving high fives.
    So it’s back under your umbrella, and as you make your way to the student’s dorms, you realise it’ll be Akira’s first time seeing your place and finally your obsession from the last couple of weeks with keeping the place clean pays out. Not that you have anything to hide. Were it not for Akechi accompanying you, this moment could easily be stretched into a metaphorical meaning about you two deepening your friendship. Alas, with the detective prince closely trailing behind as well it feels more like the prelude to a comedy with a script you haven’t learnt fully but the curtains have been raised already. Of course improvising was never one of your strengths.
    The student dorm looms like a prison into the dark sky, looking more like a haunted building than one which holds residents. The lift inside luckily works, sparing you from climbing stairs to the 8th floor. In front of your entrance, you fumble with your keys, feeling wet locks glued against your skin from the humidity.
    “Just don’t expect anything fancy,” you say, glancing at Akechi and failing gloriously to hide your nervousness. But how can you not feel like the roof is going to fall on you when someone close to a celebrity is going to enter your little shabby apartment. Insecurity forgot to knock on your door this morning to announce you’d have to deal with it today, so of course you’re sort of overwhelmed.
    But Akechi gives you a sweet, pleasant smile in return. “Please don’t concern yourself with my opinion. I am truthfully thankful for you to give us shelter.”
    If he thinks he’s calming your nerves with his humble reply, he’s wrong because even the way he talks exudes superiority that’s frustrating on so many levels.
    The door is stuck and only opens after you bump into it for the third time with your shoulder. Both boys are polite enough to keep their comments to themselves. When you enter, Akechi mumbles, “Pardon the intrusion,” at least sounding somewhat sincere about it unlike Akira, who enters the apartment like he’s a man on a mission. His eyes wander over every nook and cranny as he takes in how you live, what books you’ve arranged on your shelves, and what litters your desk. He moves like a cat in a new environment, curious and you’re just waiting for him to push stuff off tables and act like he couldn’t even begin to imagine how it landed on the floor.
    Akechi is a lot subtler. He’s barely inside and excuses himself to the bathroom, leaving you and Akira alone for the moment. You manoeuvrer around him, acting like he’s a big house plant that’s missing out a month worth of water sessions. He seems to think the same, and mopes like a wilted flower. You retreat to the kitchen and rummage through the cabinets.
    “You want coffee?” you ask, arranging three cups on the counter.
    “Sure, but don’t let Sojiro know you drink this heretic stuff,” Akira says, and shakes the small container, surprising you by how naturally he just manages around you. You snatch the instant coffee away from him and push Akira out of the way to work. Looming above you and filling in the empty space is something he is unnervingly good at.
    “Fascinating,” Akechi says somewhere behind you once you’ve prepared everything. “There are no mirrors in this apartment.”
    A bolt strikes through your body. Your hand knocks a mug over, spilling hot coffee all over the worktop. Akira easily dodges the mess while your body immediately clicks into clean it, clean it, clean it before they see, so you don’t even hear him ask if you’re alright. Movement out of the corner of your eyes makes you flinch, but it’s only Akechi joining you, putting another paper towel on the puddle.
    “Apologies,” he offers with a quiet voice, eyes cast down. He bends his head, like a knight acknowledging a lady in an old painting. “I didn’t mean to startle you. It was merely an observation, but it seems I should have kept my curiosity to myself.”
    Something dark inside you really wants to stuff the wet towel in Akechi’s mouth to make him stop talking like that.
    “No, I just thought I saw a House Centipede, that’s all,” you mumble, cleaning the rest. Akira is still standing a couple feet away, watching you two with an unreadable expression.
    “I saw it too,” he says, shifting his weight from left to right. “Horrible thing.”
    “Hmm.” Akechi doesn’t look convinced, but leaves it at that. Akira helps you prepare a new cup and carries it to the narrow table in front of your couch.
    The realisation that you reallyshouldn’t have brought Akechi of all people to your place hits you when Akira excuses himself for a moment, stepping outside the room to get a call. Immediately, Akechi turns his body in your direction, focusing his eyes on you. It’s at Leblanc’s all over again.
    “I was wondering what you were trying to clean up, using something strong as the Acid Wash 100,” he says in a light tone, and you decide he’s the worst at small talk.
    “I wasn’t—” You stop, giving him every reason to be suspicious. “You know, usually people ask where I got that picture over there with Domo-kun. Or how much rent I pay.”
    “I’m sure those are fascinating topics as well,” he says, and instantly dismisses them with a flick of his wrist. “I was just wondering, really. It isn’t something you’d find in a common household.”
    “And I’m wondering why you think that’s any of your concern,” you snap, feeling defencive walls hulk up inside you, this time adorned with a barbed wire fence just for the detective, and you really can’t wait for him to bloody his hands in trying to climb over them.
    Nothing could make you tell him the truth: the truth about the furious scrubbing of toilet and bathtub, the intense obsession with cleaning everything spotless until the intense caustic stench irritates your lungs so much you vomit and the vicious cleaning cycle starts again. The habit started when you cleaned the food you threw around the room after your dad had left. Who could have known it would turn into an obsession to cope with the hurt he left inside you. You created a prison that kept you docile in fear of your father’s wrath, its walls coated in poison.
    Suddenly, the image of Akechi’s bony wrists and ironed shirt strikes you like a sudden, painful flash of bright light. The fact that he knows about a brand your friend studying chemistry vowed is hardly known outside except for people boarding on mysophobia, makes your mind leap to crazy ideas. It’s your turn to stare Akechi down, though you can’t possibly think of a way to ask without sounding like you’re crazy. He’s a detective. Of course he knows everything. And still, something about this doesn’t sit right with you, like a picture that’s put into the wrong frame.
    Luckily, you’re spared of a reply when Akira returns and flops back down between you, either not noticing or ignoring the tense air.
    “It’s still pouring cats and dogs outside,” he says, sinking into the cushions. “If this goes on, we might have to stay the night.”
    “Or I’ll just kick you out once you finish up drinking.”
    “I heard they predicted a severe storm for tonight,” Akechi chimes in, returning to his tooth-rotting pleasant TV persona and not like someone who invades other people’s privacy. “People shouldn’t leave their houses. But of course we wouldn’t want to overstay our welcome.”
    “Technically you both got in here uninvited,” you say, ignoring the guilt-tripping.
    “It doesn’t count as burglary,” Akira objects. He sprawls his legs over your lap and leans his upper body heavily on Akechi’s side, like a cat trying to claim as much space as possible.
    “I could still call the cops.”
    Akira jerks his thumb towards Akechi. “He’s on my side.”
    Akechi smiles like a saint, his back straight like a sword. “I’m on the side of justice.”
    “And I hate you both,” you conclude. “Shut up and let me watch the news.”
    At least they listen to you now and keep silent as you turn on the TV and switch to a news channel. Akechi was right, there’s apparently only one short timeframe left before the storm picks up, buildings swaying and all. You really start to wonder if you should keep them overnight before they get hit by a traffic sign or something like that.
    Your phone vibrates in one long call and shortly followed quick messages—Iori’s signature move when he’s in desperate need of help. You hope his hand isn’t stuck behind the refrigerator again.
    “I’ll be back in a bit, just going to my neighbour,” you say and tap Akira’s legs so he releases you. “Try anything nasty in here and I’ll beat you up.”
    Both boys nod absently, their attention solely focused on the screen and a report about the Phantom Thieves’ targets.
    Just one knock, and Iori opens the door, breathing heavily. “Thank God,” he wheezes. “There’s a House Centipede in my bathroom and I think it’s eating the mice living inside the walls.”
    If this isn’t karma, you don’t know what it is.
    Iori’s apartment is like a trash dump, and it never fails to amaze you how he moves in it like he’s swimming in clear water. They do say only a genius dominates the chaos and Iori seems to live up to it. After convincing him that an improvised flame thrower made out of deodorant and lighter is a really bad idea, you manage to catch the little monster of a centipede under a glass, making Iori promise to bring it outside later. He nods vigorously but from the way he’s eyeing the centipede you can immediately tell he’s fallen in love and will prepare a terrarium for it. Stranger hobbies do exist.
    Back in your apartment, you notice the rain doesn’t fall as hard as before against the windows. Either Akira and Akechi leave now or you have to think about food you could serve your guests. A choice is pretty much nonexistent since you’ve kept your fridge empty for almost a week now, only managing with chocolate bars and a few apples from time to time. Plus where would they even stay considering Akira refuses to ask Sojiro to come and open Leblanc.
    The sight in front of your TV stops you dead. Akira has his eyes closed, sleeping peacefully. He leans on Akechi’s shoulder, curls into his side, while Akechi keeps his gaze on the screen, looking a little like a statue with how hard he tries not to move. It hits you with the force of a train. Jealousy: white-hot, boiling, venomous. It ripples through your body, making it shudder with the force of this feeling. Emotion tears at you; hot waves of jealousy mixed with desperate longing. This ought to be you Akira leans against; Akira trusts enough to rest against.
    Akechi looks up when you approach, and slightly angles his head to the right. “Is everything alright?”
    “Yes,” you hiss, retreating to the far end of the couch. “Why wouldn’t it be.”
    “Well, we pretty much forced you to take us in,” he elaborates unnecessarily. “But luckily, we won’t be a bother to you for much longer.”
    That brings a stop to the furious pounding of your heart, the angry bee swarm buzzing in your ears. “What are you talking about?”
    Instead of a simple answer, Akechi shows Akira’s phone. On the screen is a message to Sojiro asking to open up Leblanc because he forgot his keys, and you stare a long moment at the letters and the sentence, trying to understand what sounds so off about them. An answer plops into the thread just as you realise, “You wrote that.”
    The corners of Akechi’s mouth twitch. He deletes both messages, closes the app and puts it back beside Akira’s bag. “Like I said, we won’t bother you.”
    “That isn’t nice,” you shoot back. “Don’t just take other people’s phones and impersonate them.”
    “What makes you think I just took it?” he replies. “Maybe Akira asked me to write to Sojiro?”
    With how he reacted back in front of Leblanc, you seriously doubt that, but before you can say anything, Akechi blinks thoughtfully up to your ceiling, and adds as an afterthought, “And anyway, doesn’t the end justify the means?”
    You scowl. “Don’t talk philosophical to me at this kind of hour, kid.”
    Something in your expression makes Akechi back down. He simpl shrugs, the motion stirring Akira awake. He grunts unpleasant and nuzzles into Akechi’s shoulder.
    “What time’s it,” he mumbles, running both hands through his messy hair.
    “Time for you to go to bed,” you provide, humour void in your voice.
    Akira shoots up, wide awake now. “You sound exactly like Morgana,” he groans miserably.
    “I mean, you sound exactly how I would imagine Morgana to sound like if he could speak. I imagine he’d always tell me when to go to bed,” he blurts, his expression turning sour. “And it would be the worst.”
    “You seem very tired, Kurusu,” Akechi unhelpfully contributes. Akira considers him for a short moment, then yawns. “Yeah. Yeah, seems like it.”
    “Well, then it’s good Sojiro will come and open Leblanc,” you say, unable to hide the bitter edge to your voice. “Better go now, before you make him wait, right?”
    Akira blinks in confusion, but Akechi already rises, brushing off his spotless shirt. “That’s right. We don’t want him waiting in the rain at this late hour.” He marches to your entrance area, not looking if Akira follows him. But he does, and you’re so focused on the fact that Akira trails behind him like a little puppy that you don’t notice the way he looks at Akechi: the keen eyes narrowed sharply in question and careful contemplation.
    At the door, you consider just closing it on Akechi’s face and keeping Akira inside. But he also slips into his shoes, not showing any hint of wanting to stay. You want to tell yourself the feeling of disappointment is linked to Akechi’s rude behaviour but your talent of bullshitting yourself is fairly non-existent at this moment.
    “Thank you again,” Akechi says, his smile razor sharp. “It was an interesting experience and good for future reference to see how a student lives.”
    “Don’t mention it. And no,” you say. He blinks in confusion. “The end doesn’t justify the means. Unless you want immoral or violent means to corrupt the end.”
    “Ah,” Akechi breathes softly and smiles like he’s pleased that you did engage with him in philosophical talk in the end. “Fair point,” he says. “Oh, but isn’t it the same as All’s fair in love and war? Don’t you think so as well?”
    He smiles like a beautiful angel seconds away from throwing heavenly fire at mortals. That is the moment you realise. You realise that Akechi knows what you feel towards Akira. It’s in the way he looks at you, the things he just said. He’s a detective, for Christ’s sake, and reading people belongs as much to his repertory of skills making him so successful in his profession as to your studies of the mind and brain. Caught off guard, you can’t help but stare at him and for the first time you feel like Akechi is deliberately showing his superiority. You lost a game he knew from the very beginning he’d come out as victorious.
    “When did you two bond over consequentialism?” Akira says, breaking the staring contest between you and Akechi. He sounds a little sulky, and God you hope he isn’t reading too much into it.
    “We’ll be taking our leave now,” Akechi says, and says goodbye with a curt nod.
    “Yeah, do that.” And don’t come back, you throw at the back of Akechi’s neck, hoping he feels it burning on his skin like the Cain’s mark expelling him from this place.
    Akira remains a little longer. He bows his head in your direction. “Thanks again, teach.”
    “Don’t sweat it.” You stare at the top of his head, feeling the urge to pat him. And you do. Akira hums approvingly, and you allow yourself to breathe again now that Akechi’s out of sight. “Just be careful on your way back.”
    “Scared someone might snatch me away?”
    More than you think, you don’t want to admit. “Knowing you, you might go out there and punch a police man. We don’t need that.”
    “Only if he wears Prada.” Akira winks and grins when you try to kick him off your doormat. Without him, your apartment already feels a few degrees colder.
    A couple days later, the first thing you notice when entering Leblanc is that Morgana doesn’t greet you like usual. Now that maybe wouldn’t be that big of a deal were it not for Akira sulking in a booth, flipping his pen so vigorously around it looks like he wants it to take off and fly towards the ceiling.
    “Easy there, cowboy,” you say. The skin under his eyes is a few shades darker again, and his slumping form speaks louder of sleepless nights than a yawn. “You might hurt someone with that thing.”
    Akira looks from you to the pen and throws it carelessly on the table. “Sorry.”
    “Don’t worry. I just don’t want you to stab yourself. Or me.”
    Seeing how that sneaks a little smile on his face, you relax a little. “Where’s Morgana?”
    Akira tenses slightly. “Outside. He is a cat after all.”
    “Yeah, but…” Somehow this answer doesn’t satisfy you. At the same time, you don’t really feel confident enough to say that you always thought he and Morgana were inseparable; that if Akira was a cat, he’d be like Morgana, and if Morgana turned into a human, he’d be like Akira. But maybe you’re just overthinking it and Morgana will stroll inside the shop in a couple of minutes to place a dead mouse in your lap.
    “So, you wanted to talk?” Akira changes the subject, playing again with his pen. He must be either really nervous about something or just needs his fingers occupied in general, which is a whole new revelation you want to hide inside your chest and unfold later to wonder about.
    “Yes. Remember when you asked me to look into cognitive psience? I found something.”
    Akira’s expression falls, then gets solid with a frown. “Don’t.”
    “I changed my mind. I don’t want to know about it,” he says. “Throw away everything that you’ve found about it.”
    “You’re joking.”
    “I’m not. Not about that.”
    You narrow your eyes, trying to see if he’s really playing with you. But this might easily be another one of those rare times you see him serious. He’s agitated and keeps peeking at this phone that’s blinking repeatedly with fast incoming messages. Whatever happened in this short time that has changed his mind, apparently it’s still holding him in its claws and tightens its hold around him. Akira looks like a prisoner hold at gunpoint, preventing him from sayingt the wrong thing.
    “You won’t answer if I ask what’s wrong, will you?”
    Akira looks from you to his phone. “No.”
    “But you do know that I’ll look into it myself. Why cognitive psience specifically. You’re not someone who loses interest in whatever is on your mind. Telling me to throw my research away means there’s danger included, and you don’t want danger and your friends inside the same room.”
    He pales slightly, and swallows. “Stop it. I’m not your patient, and I didn’t ask for you to look into my head.”
    “I’m not looking anywhere,” you say, slightly growing irritated. “I’m only taking what you’re giving me.”
    “Then stop taking.”
    You consider each other from the distance of the table between you. After bracing yourself for a fight you might lose, you get up and take the seat beside Akira, turning to him.
    “You know I won’t keep pestering you if you continue to refuse to answer. But please tell me if you’re in danger or something like that. I want to help.”
    He exhales audibly. “I know. Thanks. But it’s nothing. I just thought cognitive psience isn’t as interesting as I expected.”
    “Okay,” you say, and leave out that you found suspiciously little on the matter because apparently the government keeps it secret. Which could also be just typical government conspiracies, but you feel like dropping the subject is a better course of action.
    A guest enters Leblanc even though you’re sure Akira has flipped the sign to Closed. Your mood drops when Akechi moves to your table like he owns the place.
    “Apologies,” he says in way of a greeting. At least he understands he just walked in on something, because he hesitates and pulls his eyebrows together. “I’m only here to return the clothes you lent me.” He puts a paper bag on the table, successfully putting a wall between you and Akira.
    “Your clothes,” you repeat like a parrot, looking from the bag to Akira and back. “Why would you—” Immediately you can think of one reason, and oh boy, is it hot in here or is it just you? Akira seems to follow your train of thought and immediately turns red. Akechi looks between you two like he’s trying to solve a mystery.
    “I want to thank you again for letting me stay on the night of the storm,” Akechi explains, and to you he says, “You might have noticed the storm resuming once we left. Kurusu was nice enough to offer me shelter.”
    “Yeah, well. He’s a nice guy like that,” you admit, trying to smother the desperate desire inside you to throw yourself on Akira and obscure him from the detective’s eyes. “Unlike someone I know,” you’re unable to hold back, staring at the detective.
    Akira pinches your thigh. “Be nice,” he mumbles, pushing the paper bag to the opposite end of the table.
    “Don’t worry about it.” Akechi shakes his head, his easy-going smile saved for his fans and the public turning into a sad little curve that changes his whole face into a picture painted in tragedy. “I am quite used to people calling me unkind. I assume you too are a fan of the Phantom Thieves? Apologies if anything I said about them upset you.”
    You want to tell him this has nothing to do with them and that you didn’t like him before it became cool with the kids, but under the table, Akira squeezes your thigh in warning, and up until now you haven’t even noticed how his hand has remained there. You nearly choke on your saliva and manage a high-pitched, “No need to apologise. I’m the one who stepped out of line.”
    Akechi smiles heart-breakingly wistful as if he knows Akira’s the reason for your sudden change of heart. “No, please don’t. I should go now. Have a nice evening you two.” He leaves Leblanc, his usually straight spine slightly bowed and for the first time you can see past all the jealousy and petty hate where a boy condemned by the public leaves a warm shelter.
    You swallow past the bitter taste, feeling your thigh getting cold and Akira’s hand nowhere near it. Instead he surprises you by bowing his head until his cheek rests against your shoulder, his glasses pushing uncomfortably against your skin. You look at the door’s reflection in the black TV screen; slim shoulders hidden underneath a white shirt on your mind.
    “Do you like him?” you ask, shuddering when the tips of his fingers ghost over your knuckles.
    Akira’s warm breath brushes against the crook of your neck as he settles in more comfortably, puts more weight onto you. “Yeah.”
    His whisper is like silk, hiding the dagger that pierces into your heart. But you are prepared for this. It’s a moment you’ve dreaded coming but also braced yourself for a long time.
    “Then why are you doing this?” you say, and turn your hand around, the open palm facing upwards. Just like you expected, Akira wedges his fingers through yours. A trembling breath leaves his mouth, ghosting over your skin when you feel his lips brush the nape of your neck. Nothing can stop the shudder rippling through your body, earning a deep, low chuckle from him.
    “Because I know that he’ll never feel the same.”
    Ah, you think, and wonder how many people are out tonight who can’t be with the one they love so they settle for a substitution.
    You squeeze Akira’s hand in return. A shadow settles over his eyes when he searches for yours, a question waiting on the tip of his tongue you answer when you dip your head once he raises his and your lips meet in a silent vow.
    Kissing is new to him. It’s evident in how he tries to do so much at the same time, kissing, licking, whispering your name against your mouth. He tastes like coffee and you regret you drank it earlier because you want to know how Akira truly tastes. When his grip on your hand tightens, you flinch, your joints hurting because he’s holding on too tight, too hard, even though he should know by the way you willingly open your mouth that you won’t just abandon him.
    As an apology, he drags his tongue over your lower lip but it feels half-heartedly when the thumb of his free hand digs into your jaw to prevent you from moving away. Fine, two can play this game. Sneaking your free hand to the back of his neck, Akira grunts in pleasure when your nails scratch his scalp. His smile pushes against your lips and smugness curls in your stomach when you yank his head back, black curls caught in your fingers. They really are as soft as you’ve imagined.
    Greedily, your mouth latches onto a spot just under his jaw, the skin so soft and warm you want to rip it apart with your teeth. A pleasant sound leaves his lips when you straddle his lap, and you hastily stretch up to catch it with your mouth but it escapes, and hangs between you in the dark cafe; the only source of light is the dim, orange light from the lantern outside the shop that catches Akira’s ethereal, beautiful expression—a face artists want to paint so history remembers him. His thumb dugs into the inside of your thigh, his nail scratching against the fabric of your jeans.
    Oxygen is unfortunately something you both need to survive. You reluctantly break away, interlacing your fingers behind Akira’s neck and lower your forehead against his collarbones, trying to piece your mind back together to form words to say how bad of an idea this is.
    But then he kisses the top of your head and loops both arms around your neck and your plan flies out the window as you relish in his warmth, his unexpected softness.
    Seconds tick away. In this short moment you feel like there’s only you two in this world, a population of two, uninhibited by anything and anyone.
    “Do you want another cup?” he asks quietly, affectionately tugging your hair.
    You nod, but none of you move immediately, and you think, Just five more seconds until five become ten, then twenty. He’s the first to move, placing both hands on your thighs and drawing lazy circles with his thumbs until you lean back and finally find enough courage to look at him.
    Akira smiles, his grey eyes filled with a glint that can’t be from a reflection somewhere around you. It’s the kind of inner light shining to the outside that can only be explained by pure happiness, and it uncurls something deep inside you, loosening a knot that finally disappears after so long. Reluctantly, you climb off his lap and allow him to get up. He moves across the room and switches the lights on above the bar. The first shock of sudden brightness to your eyes doesn’t make you react as strong as the sight of dishevelled Akira, his hair sticking to all sides, his lips red and bruised with a dark spot just under his jaw where the hickey is already blooming. He moves behind the bar and you take a stool, desperate to close the distance between you, and when he has his back to you, you wonder if you’re the only one so deeply rattled to the bone just from a little kissing.
    “I’m sure Sojiro won’t mind if we treat ourself to some of his better beans,” Akira says. “Or rather I treat you to some better beans.”
    You’re already a great bean, you want to say but maybe cheesiness is better saved for another day. Or not used at all. “Ok,” you say instead. “Thanks.”
    He gives a little smile, then proceeds to open the cap. And struggles. And almost drops the can with Jamaica Blue Mountain beans, successfully giving you both a heart attack because that shit is more valuable than you two together. What usually is a smooth procedure of Akira making coffee turns into a spectacle of bumping, him almost dropping half the dishes and nearly burning his hand on the glass syphon.
    “Christ, are you okay?” you ask, finally awarded with hot coffee. Akira looks at you from behind the counter, eyes big, and suddenly, he just falls into himself, both elbows leaning on the counter as he puts his face in his hands and you notice for the first time that his fingers are shaking.
    “How can I be after that,” he mumbles into his hands, peeking at you between his fingers, and oh—maybe he isn’t so unaffected from kissing you as you thought. Struck with a forceful flash of affection and endearment towards the boy, you’re pretty sure you’re a lost cause.
    Crushing on Akira was a laughable joke, a fling that would disappear and remembered fondly like summer—only missed when it’s gone. But falling for him was never meant to happen, never a plan, and the implication of that and what might follow is like a pinprick of ice driving into your heart. The sorrow mixed with excitement is so bittersweet, you don’t know if the tears pricking behind your eyes are of joy or fear. But the worst and best part is seeing the hope in Akira’s eyes, the affection towards you in his gaze as he whispers your name again and leans over to steal another kiss.
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dylanxmin · a year ago
painkiller ∣ 1 ∣ j.hs
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breakups are habitual, ordinary maybe even easy for some other people, and maybe it could be easy for you, too, if you haven’t been dumped by your boyfriend after finding out that you were pregnant. no, it wasn’t easy even a bit. and a stranger who wants to be your side doesn’t make this all easy for you, at all.
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pairing; jung hoseok x reader  
genre; angst,  pregnancy au, strangers to lovers au, single!mom au,,
warnings; angst and more angst, but we have slight humor and mother comfort, don’t worry, side with swearings,, 
ratings; nc17
word count; 4.7k
a/n; oh, here is the first episode!! i was so nervous and couldn’t decide if i should post this episode or not, so i’ll need your feedbacks, but pls be gentle with me shsfds,, hope you’ll like this fic, and be with me on this journey,, love y’all ♡
˚masterlist˚ ➭ next 
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'It is good news, you are not sick. You're pregnant.'' 
The familiar voice starts to repeat on your mind, over and over again, for almost a thousand times, while you're sitting on the sidewalk, tears falling down on your face, and people who pass by you with furrowed brows. Thankfully, you were too fucked up to care for people's thoughts about you. 
In fact, you will not care for anyone from now on, as you decided. In the end, no one cared for you, even your boyfriend who had grabbed his stuff from your apartment, after hearing your current situation. Pregnant. Pregnant and from him, obviously. 
He had a point to freak out, as it was a very unexpected situation, but you never thought that he would leave you, and the thing that recently starts to grow in you. You'd tried to find a way to deal with this, as you had limited options such as abortion or, registering yourself for the people who try to adopt babies. But he decided to choose the easiest way, run away from you and the responsibilities. Great way to end a three-year relationship. Just great. 
So here you are, crying until your eyes pop out, having great pain and a growing human inside of you, while still sitting on the sidewalk. You couldn't bear to stay in that home, all alone and all dumped. Besides, his perfume was still pervaded all around the place. So you found yourself on the outside, walking until you feel dead tired, finally letting yourself to sit on the ground, where everyone pities your current situation, and some of them walk distantly from you like you were going to bite them. Huh! Idiots. 
''U-uh, is she okay?'' 
''I think she drunk bro, should we help her?'' 
You heard two men speaking close to you, but didn't mind looking at them or, give an answer. No, you were not drunk, but badly wished to be drunk at this point. You already feel wasted, so it would better for you to numb your mind right now, but you were banned from drinking because of the thing in your belly. 
''Are you okay?'' a timid touch starts to poke your shoulder, which you turn right away, annoyed gaze of yours placed on the person who bothers you. After your swift move, he flinched, looking at you with wide worried eyes. You couldn't distinguish his face right away, due to the dark street, and your eyes were blurry from all the crying so it wasn't only because of the dark. ''I'm sorry. I don't want to disturb you, but you look like in a need of help.'' 
''Well, the good news that I don't need any of your help.'' you talk back without even thinking for a moment, but this time your eyes get used to the dark and could choose the man's face. You could see his furrowed brow, above on the narrowed eyes, even in the dark you could see his smooth skin, boned face stood in there perfectly. ''Then why are you crying? Are you drunk?'' 
''Hoseok, I guess we need to leave her alone.'' you almost forget that there was another man, standing right beside the man who is closer to you. A tall man with blonde hair, as you could choose his hair due to the street light, hitting right at his head. ''Yes, listen to your friend, leave me alone.'' 
Normally, you were not a person who acts like a rude brat, but at the moment, you were highly full of hate for everyone, and have zero-tolerance inside of you. But the man in front of you, simply shakes his head, slowly in disappointment. ''We can't leave her like...this.'' 
''Hey!'' instinctively you leaned to the man while yelling, as he was pointing at you while talking with his friends, and semi-insulting you. ''I'm not drunk and can look out for myself. So, leave.'' 
''Not gonna happen.'' as you watch the man while he was sitting right beside you, giving you a light smile, you stay in shock because of his attitudes. What was he thinking? ''I said lea-''
''You can leave Jin. I'm staying,'' he said without even letting you finish your words. You look at the other man, asking for help with your eyes, you wished that he would drag this lunatic from your side, but he just chuckled and start to walk without saying anything. What was happening? You look at the man's face once again, blink your eyes a couple of times, maybe he would vanish if you do it constantly, but he stayed there, all smiling at you. 
''Why don't you leave me alone?'' you exclaimed with wide eyes. A clingy stranger is the last thing you want on this day, and to be honest, every other day in your life. You had enough problems in your life, and adding another was your least request in life. “You look like you need a friend.” 
“I don’t know what is going on in your mind but we are not friends,” you said after his words leave you in surprise. This man is a lunatic, for sure. How could he think that even if you needed a friend, would you expect it from a total stranger? It’s just not something normal to think. 
“Okay, insult me all you want, but still you need someone. It is very obvious by your...face.” his eyebrows raised with his last word, but lips were curled in sympathy. He didn’t look like a threat for you, at least by giving him a look, everyone would think this way about him, you supposed. His eyes sparkling under his lashes, trying to reach you, help you with the intention you couldn’t understand. 
“If you are staying, then I’m leaving.” you stand up, sloppily. The quick move caused dizziness and before you could get ready to brush the sidewalk with your face, two hands grabbed you, hold you on line. “Are you sure about not being drunk?” under his giggle, you heard his voice once again, but very close this time. Breaths of him brushing your cheeks, chest touching your shoulder. 
“I’m good,” you said simply, pushing him slightly as you feel uncomfortable with the closeness of this stranger, and he gets the message as taking a small step back from you. When his hands on your arms start to loosen, without waiting for another minute, you start to walk, away from this man. You did not like the sudden affection, at the moment that you wanted to be alone while pitying yourself and crying a lot. You did not want to comfort by a stranger, who is probably after your lungs, or something. 
A cold breeze hits your face, as you start to walk toward the wind, even though it was mid-august, the weather was enough for you to get chills over a breeze. In a way of habit, you start to rub against your arms with both of your hands. The street you were walking down was slightly dark, under your blurry sight, the light provided by the streetlights were not enough for you to see everything clearly, but you couldn't care less about that now, as your heart still itching in sorrow, your legs were worn out from all of your previous walks. 
You had no idea about what to do with this whole pregnancy situation, how to deal with you being pregnant and all. You were feeling blue about the abortion, but you could think of adoption when your mind not clouded by all of these thoughts. It was a better idea than others when you think about it. As a woman who is twenty-six, barely hold her shits together while trying to live a decent life like every living person, and now, you had a raisin on your belly, who will grow the size of a kiwi, then a watermelon, and finally turn into a real human, popping out from inside of you. 
Tiny shiver takes a trace on your back, starting from your neck and you suddenly stopped. Your chest starts to feel havier, vulnerability surrounds, and anxiety passively starts to hit in you, numbing your hands even though they were shaking violently. 
You don't want to be pregnant. 
Even if you use the option of adaption, you'll be pregnant for all of these months, nearly one year. Your heart starts to beat even faster now, unintentionally your right hand placed on your moving chest. 
You don't want to give birth.
It was the most painful thing in this world for god sake, and obviously, you didn't want to feel that. An actual human being would come out from you, inside of you. Even the idea of giving birth was enough to give you vertigoes, and if you feel like this even with thinking of it, how could you survive from an actual birth? Hell no! 
You were going to sue that condom brand and spend the money you get from them to buy a new house, a car, and taking yourself on a holiday. Yes, you were going to this.
While you were walking to your house with anger and anxiety in your heart, as today would be your first day without him, you weren't sure if you are ready for this or not. Nevertheless, you had no other choice but to go to your home, other than sleeping in the street or going to your friend's house which is a way worse choice than staying in the street. 
After fifteen minutes of walking, you reached your house, try to ignore the familiar scent where it was sunk in everything in your house. Sheets, pillows, couch, and stupid towels. Even in the fucking curtains, there was his scent. The rough spiced perfume of him got too familiar after years of living in here and left its ruins everywhere. Even though you wanted to wipe his perfume from everywhere, you were too worn out for doing that. Rather, you lay on the bed, take a shape of a ball, crawling, and crawling until your knees touch to your chest. 
It was such a lame move, but you couldn't stop yourself from reaching the other pillow from his side and take a deep breath, filling your lungs with the familiar perfume, additionally you felt heartbroken, drained. Your body starts to shake violently against to pillow, tightened your arms around it, and let yourself wet it with your tears. You didn’t care about making a mess right now. 
Sweet sleep slowly takes you into its arms, tears start to dry on your face while your mind blocked from functioning anymore. As you strained yourself for all day, now your muscles start to pain, due to relaxing. While you were sinking into sleep, and having zero clue about the man who starts to walk oppositely from your apartment to where he should attend twenty minutes before he met you. 
He felt like a complete creep, but he couldn't leave you like that, so down in the dumps. And he would happily walk with your side, only if you let him help you, instead of following you, afraid of seeing by you. A part of Hoseok didn't want to leave you all alone, wanted to help you. For a moment, he thought that he was going to get caught, when you suddenly stopped at the street, freeze for a couple of minutes. He has to admit that he never sees a person as this torn up. 
He clearly had no idea about what was going on with you, but he hope that you could put everything in order. He speeds up, smiles when a memory comes back to his mind, hands in his pocket. ''What a night,'' he sighed, shaking his head with the same smile. He finds himself very amused by the way you treated him. When he finally arrives at the place, where he should be there about half an hour ago, the memory of you slipped away, placed on back of his mind only as a weird memory. 
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You have to change your life choices, for real from now on. This idea came across to your mind, while you are walking under the hot sun, sweat dripping from your forehead, and you constantly wiping it with the back of your hand. Jeez. Does it have to be this hot? Or, do you have to be this stupid to choose parking your car far away from your destination stop, and deciding to walk on this hot day? No surprise that you were pregnant with these senses, to be honest. Shit.
After your 'crying and doing nothing other than laying on your bed' sessions coming to an end, as you were pregnant and have to find a new doctor for your current situation, you forcefully leave the bed. You had to find a new doctor because of your stupid temper. The one where you learned that you were pregnant, she was a good doctor, and there was nothing wrong with her if you hadn't had a panic attack while crying, screaming, and ruining her office. Obviously, there is no way that you can go back to her office and continue like there is nothing happened, like you didn't humiliate yourself in front of her. No way.
Searching and finding a decent doctor on the internet took your two days. Finally, you find Dr. Kim, according to his patients, he was the best doctor. Further, he was incredibly handsome, once again, addition to his patients. However, you didn't want to learn his physical appearances because you were done with them. You neither want to date with another man nor want to talk with a man to be specific. 
Plus, you were pregnant and no man would want to deal with you and with the thing inside of your belly. To be honest. 
After fifteen minutes of walking, you find the hospital. Dude, it was huge and fancy. Of course that doctor has to be the best at his job, otherwise, how could he work in such a fancy hospital? You thrilled that finally you were going to sit for a moment and rest, but a thought came to your mind. You take your phone from your pocket to examine your face. You look like crap, and it was so obvious that you were sluggish. There is no way that you were going there while looking like this. 
Yes, maybe you said that you were done with men and all, but you weren’t dead, right? 
''Okay... I guess,'' you murmured to your reflection on the phone, putting it back to your pocket. Now, you were ready to meet with Dr. Kim. At least you were looking like a human now. 
''Come in,'' after knocking and hearing his call, you take a breath and headed to inside of the room. A sheepish smile appeared on your lips, after seeing the man who is probably Dr. Kim. Now you understand why all of these people were rooting for him. He is handsome. His oval-shaped face, spotless skin, and his lively brown eyes. Perfection. ''Hey, you must be Y/L/N Y/N, come in-''
When he eyed you for the second time, he stopped. Eyes of him checking your face, narrowed as if he was looking for something, and you start to feel uncomfortable under his gaze but continued to look at his face. The face that has no flaw on- Shit! After a quick moment of realization, you understand why this man was staring at you while raising his thick dark brows.
''You are the drunk girl!'' he squeaked while pointing at you. 
''And you are the one who is a friend with that annoying boy!'' you stated, hands placing on your hips, profound anxiety starts to build in you. And it takes a while before you could object what he said before, but he was fast. 
''You are pregnant?'' he declared but it was kind of a question that where he was trying to adjust your situation.
 ''No, I just love to make appointments with gynecologists.'' you leered but your smile was soft, as you didn't want to offend him. His quizzical looks changed after a minute, straighten his back, and his judgy glares scanning you from head to toe. Okay, it was getting uncomfortable right now. ''You were drunk while expecting a baby?'' he scolded, brows narrowed.
''I was drunk?'' you repeat, hands on your hips now tightened around there. How could he accuse you of something like this? Yes, maybe you were not happy about being pregnant but you weren't some ignorant brat who would consume alcohol while pregnant. 
''Yes, you were crying and looking all... messed up,'' his voice turns into a whisper in the end, which you appreciated how he manages to think about your pride, even in the last moment. But, you still heard him and your blood start to boil in your veins. 
''Who are you? Social worker?''
''I am a very decent doctor, who would not accept a patient who isn't taking care of herself and her baby.'' he criticized, hands crossed under his wide chest. You couldn't decide if he is a really good doctor while treating like garbage to his patients, but it meant that he cares for them, you guessed. 
Normally, you would walk out from there in rage, but you wanted to be a good patient, who would take care of that bean, very well. So, you gave up, shrugged your shoulders, and fixed your attitude. ''I wasn't drunk. I was just having a panic moment. Seriously.'' after examining your words, he nods. From his unreadable face, and flatten lips you only get that he was done with you, not wanting a client like you, and you didn't surprise by that. Even though you needed him desperately. 
''Okay, then.'' he takes you by surprise, a heartwarming smile appears on his plumpy lips. You feel very appalled with his sudden agreement, heart race start to go back to its normal beat. ''Take a place on there so we can check on what's going on with the little baby.'' he points your back. You turn back to see another room, where the door is open, so you can see the parts of a stretcher. You gave him a small, sullen smile while heading to another room. 
Everything is going to be alright. You repeated inside of your head, try to calm your mind and heart, nonplussed by the current situation as taking hesitate steps. You will be going to figure out something. You always do. It is your best ability, you can get through this. 
''Oh, we really have a little baby in here, don't we?'' Dr. Kim, sending you a reassuring smile, pressuring the ultrasound's part to under your stomach. Your hands were still clenching to your palms, anxiety starts to build in you when Dr. Kim put the gel first time. And it was still there. Eating your soul, confusing your mind. ''Do you want to take a look?'' 
After your gaze meets, you shake your head swiftly. It was too soon, you think while sweat starts to appear on your forehead, your pulse beating on your head. You feel like you were going to throw up. ''N-no,'' you could only manage to whisper. 
''Well... okay. I will give you the photo in case you change your mind, but it's okay, Y/N.'' contrary to his words, you could catch his bewildered gaze for a second, but he tried to cover it up with a bright smile. ''You can get up,'' he takes himself back, resting his back on the chair, intentionally not looking at you. You appreciate this act, and quickly fixed your clothes, zipping your jean back. 
''Little baby is almost six-week now,'' he reports while taking his place on his desk, still smiling. Probably he understands your situation, how anxious you are, and not ready for all of this. And, it's all can read by your face to be honest, as you constantly chew your bottom lip, eyes looking all brooding. ''and everything is fine, there is nothing to worry about.'' he continues, trying to catch your attention. 
''Oh... good, right?'' 
''Yes, of course, it is good, Y/N,'' he reassures you once again, eyes staring you pityingly. You wonder if he ever had a patient like you before, you hope that he had, didn't want to be the stranger patient/to-be mother. You want this come to an end because all these things only made you anxious and upset. Upset because you were all alone in this room, having grain rice on your belly without the daddy by your side. You continue to chew your lip, playing with your fingers scared to look at Dr. Kim's face because it reminded you that this was all real, and happening to you. The one truth you wanted to run away, even though you can't. 
''Okay, Y/N, we are going to see each other one time a month, but if you want to ask me or feel like somethings wrong, you can come here, okay?'' he pauses from taking notes to be sure that you understand what he said, and you nod, not knowing what to say to him. He gives you a warm smile before continuing to talk. ''If you have morning sickness, you can try to eat several meals but with smaller portions, drinking plenty of fluids...'' his voice feels like it was coming from far away, as your mind clouded by your overthinking. 
This is how it is going to be now? You visiting Dr.Kim, one time in a month, then it will turn out to every two weeks in a month, then every week? A side you have to be careful what you eat, drink, and adjusting your sleeping schedule due to the thing in your belly needs resting. You have to take vitamins as Dr.Kim says you will need them, and the list goes on and on like that. 
Why no one asks if you are ready or not? If you want this or not? What if you don't want to sleep all night, inject your body lots of caffeine and things like that? 
Dr. Kim stops talking after seeing your hands shaking violently, your eyelids filled with tears due to your mini-panic attack. You feel that he was calling your name but your mind still overthinking. 
''Y/N, can you hear me? Can you focus on me?'' you stop thinking after your vision starts to get clear again. Dr. Kim's face now closer to yours, checking on you to make sure that you are okay, and he gets back after seeing you better. 
''Oh... I-I'm sorry. I'm okay,'' you mumbled the first word comes to your mind, but he eyes you worriedly. He takes a deep breath before heading back to his place, sits on his chair. 
''If you feel truly okay, this is all for today's visit,'' he holds out the notes he takes while talking with you, ''but are you sure that you are okay? If you want we can make a little check on you.'' he adds, forehead furrowed scanning your face. Can you say that you weren't excepting to be pregnant and now your anxiety eating you alive? You didn't think so. 
''I'm okay, but thanks for your wonder,'' you forced a smile to reassure him, not wanting to be here anymore. 
''Of course, we will see each other for a long time. I'll always double-check you from now on, Y/N,'' his smile gets wider while you take the notes from his hand, adjusting your purse on your shoulder to get ready to get going. He holds up his hand, takes you into a handshake, eyes darting yours shining bright. ''Just know that you are not alone in this, okay?'' 
You gave him a big smile, not forcing this time. ''Thank you,'' you said before heading outside from his office. Now you did understand why people adored this man so much. He is not only good at his job but also caring and wants to make sure that you can rely on him. You surprised how your heart eased a bit after hearing his words, even though he was only doing his job, it made you feel a little less worry about this whole pregnancy thing. Maybe you need to ask help from the people who would willingly do. As the thought of getting help looked less scary, you take your phone from your purse to call the only person who could help you with this situation. 
''Oh, I'm sorry baby, I was watching a movie on Netflix. I needed to run here. Oh, I missed hearing your voice, baby,'' after a couple of minutes you listening to the beeps coming from the other side of the line, finally you hear the very excited voice. 
''And, you didn't even let me say anything, Mom,'' you whine while sitting on a bench in front of the hospital. ''but I missed you, too,'' you heard her laugh from the phone, you could imagine how her eyes crinkled while she laughs, and warmness filled your heart with the thought of your mom. 
''Oh, silly girl, just visit me when you had the chance or even better idea, create the chance, right?'' your mom's laugh fills your ear once again as she continues to mock you, ''two hours of car drive is not that long honey,'' 
You let out a sob, mixing with a giggle, covered your face with your hand. You really missed her, the comfort she gave you, and all the laughter you have when you two get together. She could win the best mother award without a doubt, you think. 
''So tell me what's wrong with my baby?'' her tone changed to smoother one, always manage to surprise you with her maternal instincts. Your eyelids fill with tears once again, a bump takes its place on your throat, making it hard for you to talk. ''I didn't say something was wrong, Mom,'' 
''Oh, c'mon. You call me and stay silent without mentioning about your new game? Don't be a silly baby and tell me what's wrong,'' she claimed to make you giggle between your tears. She was right as always, but you wait for a couple of minutes before telling her the big news. She wouldn't be mad at you or scold you for not being more careful, but you still get cold feet to talk about this topic with her. You take three deep breaths before starting to talk, as your mother says you to do this before making something you afraid to.  
''Do you remember how you had me, Mom?'' your voice breaks before you could end your sentence, but you hear your mother giggle on the other side of the line. ''Oh, of course, I do. You were the best yet, shocking surprise ever, honey. You know that I love you so much, but God knows how I was shocked.'' she continues her giggle, turning into a laugh. 
''Yeah, I know,'' you whispered, wiping your tears to fix your posture. ''I guess it's our legacy, Mom,'' your words cut her laugh like a knife. You heard that she takes three deep breaths and it cause you to scoff. She was probably having a deja vu at the moment, and you couldn't blame her for needing to take a moment to talk back. 
''Oh baby, we have lots of things to talk about, don't we?'' you could understand that she was about the cry by her voice, so were you. You hang up the phone after agreeing and saying that you will visit her soon. You did need her support at a topic like this, her comfort and her delicious so-called homemade cookies. You both knew that she wasn't the best at cooking, but you let her fool you. You covered your face with your palms, waiting for your strength to come back to you, so you could head home, having a warm bath, and then cry at your bed, like in the past days. 
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bush-viper-cutie · a year ago
Love Me Roughly: A New Start
Pairing: Snape x fem!reader
Word Count: 2,968
Rating: M for Mature
Plot:  Severus is ready to start a new chapter of his life with the woman he loves. Nothing could come between them, or the life he knows he deserves.
A/N: This is part 7 of 7 for the Schedule 1 week 1: Snape Lives AU for Snape Appreciation Month 2020!  @snapeloveposts​     Also if anyone is interested in me continuing this little fluff series, please let me know :) I wouldn’t be opposed to updating it every so often after the month has ended :D
DISCLAIMER: I have edited (drawn over the original) the artwork (taken from a 80′s bodice ripper novel) for the purpose of this short series and will post more information about the original work here.
Posted: 6/7/20
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The August sun blasted through all the windows, illuminating the house in bright yellow sunlight, turning the dark wood walls and floors into warm hazel colors. Ice cracked in the glasses of lemonade and broke apart only to come back together, floating peacefully in the sweet liquid.
Severus picked up his glass and brought it to his lips, shivering at the sudden cold. He let the lemonade swish around his mouth, cooling him down, before swallowing and sighing merrily. He looked up at the bunches of flowers all around the room, blooming and stretching, filling the air with colors and scents of nature.
He looked at the clock on a shelf and smiled. In precisely two hours there was to be a marriage officiant, and, in precisely two hours and fifteen minutes he was to be wed to his love. In the month after he told her his story, they had grown closer than he could have imagined.
Every day was bliss with her and although he was still saddened by the loss of his friends, he could bare it with her by his side. He loved her and cherished her and never knew someone could be so understanding, compassionate, and kind.
In two hours, their lives were to be forever combined and he would finally belong. Gone would be the days of being alone with no one to hold or lean on. He would never go through anything alone ever again.
Severus set his empty glass in the sink and walked into the laundry. There was a small mirror hung between the toilet and the dryer where he kept practicing saying the simplest and most important words he could ever say, “I do.”
He would be upstairs practicing in the bathroom except the whole floor was hers for the day. He had agreed not to look and promised to stay put downstairs. He sighed and walked back out, kicking Jiggy’s toy out of the way.
Jiggy came bounding after it and tripped over his tiny paws. He clenched it in his jaw and ran wildly back towards Severus, dropping the slobbery toy on his shoes. Severus kicked it away again and shook his head.
“Severus? Come upstairs.”
Confused, he headed up the stairs and stood on the landing, “I thought you wanted us not to see each other until – ”
“Close your eyes,” she sang.
Severus closed them and smiled. He heard the bedroom door open and a hand gripped his wrist, pulling him inside.
“Keep them closed the entire time you’re here, alright?”
He nodded, wondering what it was she wanted.
“Stand here and don’t move and don’t. Say. A word,” she led him to the edge of the bed and held him there.
He held perfectly still waiting for her to say anything, but she never did. Instead he felt her hands sliding from his arms where she held him in place down to his waist and around to the buttons on the front. He opened his mouth, forgetting he wasn’t supposed to talk, but was stopped with her soft lips.
He felt each button come undone and smiled as she pulled his trousers down until they were pooled around his ankles. She pulled on the elastic band of his pants and dragged them down as well. He bit his lip, wishing he could open his eyes and look at her.
He was pushed back suddenly, and he almost did open them, but kept them shut as he landed on the bed. He laughed and sat up, stretching his legs out. He could hear his own breathing, rough and excited, along with his racing heartbeat.
He felt her hand first, stroking him gently, and then her other hand around his shoulder, pulling him forward until his lips connected to hers. He immediately reached to pull her onto him but she resisted, forcing his hands away. She slid her tongue over his, teasing him with the promise of what was soon to come.
He let out a moan of desperation as her gentle strokes became faster. Her lips left his and before he knew it, they had replaced her hand. He let out a louder moan than the one before, wishing he could speak her name over and over as she continued tending to him.
Her lips were wet and her mouth was warm. He could feel her tongue licking him all over and all he could do to keep from opening his eyes and pinning her to the ground was to instead reach out for her head.
Her hair was soft and put up in pinned braids with what felt like small flowers pulled through the loops. He was careful not to ruin anything and gently placed his hand, feeling her head bob up and down in perfect rhythm.
He could feel drops of saliva dripping down from her lips as she moved up and down and he knew he wouldn’t be able to last much longer. He could feel the inside of her cheeks as she suctioned them in, creating an incredible sensation of pleasure so good he whimpered and moaned, wanting to beg her to go faster.
He knew she could sense his need because immediately he felt her bobbing faster and her hand left his knee to grip him just below her lips, following the faster rhythm. She tightened her hold and started moaning, sending vibration deep within him.
Almost immediately he lost all composer, throwing his head back and moaning deeply one last time. He felt the wave touch every cell in his body, reach every nerve, and bathe him completely in steaming hot bliss and happiness.
He fell back onto the bed, fully satisfied and felt her pin his hands above his head and climb over him, kissing every inch of his face while giggling. She kissed him fully and gave a little moan before climbing off him.
“And that is the last thing we did before getting married! I’m going into the bathroom and you, Sir, have ten minutes to get back downstairs.”
Severus nodded and listened for her footsteps and the thump of the door closing behind her. He opened his eyes and smiled, jumped to his feet and pulled his pants back on. He slid his trousers on and buttoned them up, fixing the pockets and tucking his white shirt back inside.
He stretched his back and immediately realized how much more relaxed and loose he was. He chuckled to himself and jumped up and down, feeling elated and lighter than air. The day couldn’t possibly get better than what it was already turning out to be.
He left the bedroom and headed back downstairs and into the laundry room again, “I do, I do, I do, I do.” He looked in the mirror and smiled, noticing she had put a tiny flower in his hair. He reached to remove it but thought better of it and kept it in, letting it hold back his long hair from coming down onto his face. “I do,” he whispered.
He splashed water on his face and dried off just as Jiggy started barking in the other room. Severus stepped out and followed the sound into the living room until he stood behind Jiggy. He was barking at the front door and before he could tell him to stop there were three knocks.
Severus jumped back and looked around, realizing he would have to open it. He was confused, because it was still an hour before the officiate was supposed to arrive and he didn’t know anyone else around town, but he unlatched the locks either way.
He opened the door and stared at Minerva McGonagall, standing on his porch in elegant green robes and a summer hat. They stared at each other for a long while and Severus didn’t know whether to scream, cry, hide, or beg on his knees for forgiveness. He kept perfectly still, analyzing her face which was as stern as ever. He looked into her eyes and noticed tears had formed on the corners and were threatening to come down.
“May I come in, Severus?”
Severus stammered and closed his mouth, opening the door further and stepping aside to let her in. She gave him a small nod and stepped inside, heading for the center of the living room. She looked around once and settled her eyes on him.
“Severus – ”
“Minerva, I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry, I – ” there were hot tears running down his face and his words caught in his throat, “Please, I didn’t… I had to,” he sobbed into his elbow, “I had to.”
He couldn’t breathe through his nose and all he could manage to do to keep from falling to the ground crying was keep searching his pockets for anything to blow into. He heard her step forward and he looked up, his vision blurred, to see she was holding out a small white handkerchief out to him.
“Severus, please, sit down. I’ve come to tell you something,” she took his elbow and led him to his fiancé’s chair.
He sat down and blew his nose as she sat in his reading chair. She turned the chair more and sniffed, as if holding back tears of her own.
“Severus, (Y/n) came to see me last month and… Well I have to apologize because I did not react the way I… I should have. She explained to me what happened, and I turned her away and as a result, turned you away as well.”
Severus blinked, realizing she must have gone to see Minerva during those three days away. She had lied to him. And worst of all went against his wishes.
“I told her not to. I swear I had nothing to do with her finding you and disturbing you – ”
Minerva held up a hand and nodded, “She told me. She made herself very clear. But I am not… I hated you Severus. I hated you for quite a while, as I’m sure I made myself clear during your time as Headmaster at Hogwarts… I hated you so much – ” she looked down and a single tear fell onto her trembling hands. “ – that I was glad when Harry told me you had died. I didn’t even care that they didn’t find your body… I never wanted to see you again.”
Severus stared at the light reflecting of his black shoes, focusing on it, trying not to let the words sink in. His oldest friend hated him, and there was no going back. He had already gone through this before, he knew there was no coming back this time either.
He felt his heart grow cold and his seething sadness died down to nothing. He felt like nothing. He looked back up at Minerva as she continued.
“After the battle was over, about a day afterwards, Harry came to see me. He told me what you had done, and I refused to listen. I could not understand how… how you could follow the instructions of-of a second mad man!” She stood up and paced the floor, “I couldn’t believe what he had forced upon you, made you do… and I was still angry that you had listened. That you didn’t even think to tell me.”
She turned to him and shook her head. He lowered his eyes again.
She sat back down and sighed, wiping her tears with her finger, “Then Poppy came to see me.”
Severus turned his head slightly, watching her as she spoke.
“There was a second Poppy Pomfrey who was covered in blood running from her neck and drenching the spare gardening robes tending to students with dark, deadly hexes that only a skilled Dark Arts master could have cured.” She looked into his eyes, “She knew it was you and that you had survived.”
Severus nodded, “I needed to assume a disguise to get closer, to help any way I could.”
“And then I was given word that the Ministry had organized a raid on your house. They told the Daily Prophet that you had been attacked in your house by the remaining Death Eaters hours after the battle and had burnt to death inside…” she closed her eyes and tears started streaming down. Her voice came out broken, “And I regretted hating you… Severus, I should have believed in you. I should have known – ”
“I needed to play my part, to convince everyone. Even the Dark Lord… How could you have possibly – ”
“Because we knew you best! Poppy and Pomona, Hagrid, all of us… We knew you and I knew that you were working with Albus very closely to take Riddle down. I should have believed in you,” she nodded and put her hand to her heart.
“I let them hurt the students,” he whispered.
“You kept them alive.”
There was a silence between the both of them that allowed them to take in each other’s presence. He knew she wasn’t finished speaking, but he was glad to have seen her, even if the conversation still ended with her not wanting anything to do with him.
“When (Y/n) came to see me, I was still mourning your loss, upset that I could have ever been so glad that you had left us all. She told me everything Harry had and when she knew I believed her to be telling the truth, she told me you were alive and in hiding.” Minerva looked back down at her hands, stretching them and clasping them together, “And I was upset again, angry again, that you had left and let me believe you were dead. Another soul among the many who had left us that day.” She shook her head, “I sent her away to tell you I was glad you had left because there was nothing for you there anymore.”
Severus pulled his hair behind his ear, “I know.”
“No, you don’t. Because I was wrong.” She reached out and put a hand on his knee, “I’m there for you, along with your colleagues and your students. All the ones you saved, and all the ones who have been reading the Daily Prophet to stay informed on Harry’s case against the Ministry to clear your record, and award you the Highest Degree Order of Merlin for your sacrifice to the cause.”
Severus blinked several tears away and looked around the room as if searching for something, “Potter’s doing what?” He fidgeted his fingers and shook his head, “I-Why?”
“Because as we all now know, your efforts as a double agent won us the war. You sacrificed your life for everyone, and barely made it out alive. The Dark Lord fell because of you and by Harry’s hand… He, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger are refusing their Order of Merlins until Harry’s demands are met.”
Tears were forming in his eyes again, although this time he did not know why. He couldn’t understand why they would be doing that for him, let alone Harry Potter. He more than anyone had every right to hate him and despise him… and yet he was out there fighting for him long after his victory.
“Why are there so many flowers?” Minerva waved her hand at all the vases around the room.
“I’m getting married today,” Severus leaned back in the chair and pinched the corners of his eyes to stop the tears from flowing.
“Then, as a wedding present, I offer you a position to teach at Hogwarts once again.”
Severus looked to her immediately. She was smiling. He couldn’t believe she wanted him back at the school.
“Do you really think anyone would even want me – ”
“They do if they want to attend,” she looked sterner than ever, “I’m Headmistress now and I insist you come back. Hogwarts could not be a safer place without you, Severus.”
Severus laughed, grabbing his stomach, and cleared his throat, “I don’t suppose I can teach only Newt classes for Defense and Potions?”
Minerva smiled, “That can easily be arranged.”
. . .
Minerva’s visit lasted an hour and when the time came for her to leave, Severus felt nothing but relief that his friendship with her had endured the war. He heard a creak on the stairs, and he knew she had heard everything that was said. He walked out onto the living room and looked up at her.
She was sitting down on the top step looking at the tissue in her hands, “I’m sorry, Severus.”
He nodded and sat down in a kitchen chair, also looking at his hands, “You kept this from me.” He could hear her sobbing quietly, “You lied about what you were doing, where you were going… and you knew I didn’t want anyone to know.”
She walked down the stairs and sat in a chair opposite him. He kept his eyes down on his hands, not wanting to look at her.
“I betrayed you… I’m sorry. I just-I know you had been feeling guilty about how you left, and I wanted to help you… I couldn’t bare seeing you so torn up, even when you tried to hide it. I can tell when you think about those things.” She sobbed again, “It was wrong of me to go find her and talk to her… I betrayed you and I can’t be forgiven for that.”
She got up and made to run back upstairs. Without thinking Severus pulled her back to him and hugged her tight, keeping his eyes closed while his tears dried. She placed her arms around him and hugged back, burying her head in his shoulder.
“Do you still want to marry me?” her voice was quiet and trembled.
Severus smiled and hugged her tighter, “I do.”
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cake-in-a-tin · 9 months ago
Secret Santa
This is my secret santa post for @siriuslyjames, i havent interacted with you loads but you seem lovely. have an amazing christmas if you celebrate it, and if you dont i hope you’re having a wonderful holiday :)
Lily Evans and James Potter lay side by side in the flower filled meadow behind the former’s house, underneath an ancient oak tree. It was a tradition of theirs - every year on the 31st of August they would lie together, heads buried among the flowers and grass, staring up at the oranges and pinks of the clouds in the setting sunlight. Lily couldn't believe this would be their last year at Hogwarts, and tried desperately to ignore the nagging impulse to turn and look at James instead of the clouds. 
So much had changed since their first meeting, which she still remembered vividly; as if it had happened yesterday. She had sat among the flowers, underneath the old oak in the middle of the field, her back against the mossy, rough trunk, desperately trying to stay in the shade, and holding a small daisy bud in her hand. It was the beginning of the summer holidays, she had endless days of nothing stretched out before her. Focusing as hard as possible on the small bud in her hand, she squinted her eyes in the way she had taught herself, and slowly but surely the small flower bloomed before her very eyes. She loved this adrenaline rush of sensing every small rustle of the leaves from the tree above, feeling the life of the daisy in her hand, and the grasses and other flowers around her. Shutting her eyes, she leaned back against the tree, breathing deeply, and gradually fell into a light sleep, when suddenly from nowhere she heard someone say, “Hello there!” 
Lily had blinked her eyes open, startled, and looked around to see who it was. Surely not Petunia, or one of her annoying little friends. He was sitting a little way away, straight in front of her. She was mightily confused, why hadn’t she heard him approach? She hadn’t been that deeply asleep. She was brought back to the present by the odd boy saying, “I’m James. James Potter. What’s your name?” She coughed slightly, still in a state of bewilderment, and said abruptly,
“Lily Evans.”
“Well, it’s good to meet you Lily. I just moved in around here, that’s why you haven't seen me before. I was exploring and I saw you sitting there. I saw what you did with that flower. I can do stuff like that as well you know. It's so cool! My dad taught me and so did my mum. Which one of your parents taught you then?” Lily sat in silence, feeling stupid that she had nothing to say. She was surprised that someone could have all of those thoughts and say so much in such a short period of time. 
“Neither of them taught me. I can just do it, my mind just knows.”
“...Huh.” It seemed that the boy, James, was speechless for the first time since she had met him. She took this opportunity to look at him, for the first time. He was quite tall, and she reckoned he was around her age. His hair was a dark brown, and very messy, as though on his “exploration” he had been dragged through at least two hedges backwards. She considered whether she could ask him if that was the case, but decided against it. He had gold rimmed round glasses that were slightly squinted on his face, and his hazel eyes had a mischievous glint to them.
“Wait- so are your parents muggles?” Lily was taken aback - was this strange boy now insulting her parents, after interrupting her one peaceful moment? 
“I’m sorry?”
“Uh, non-magical people.”
“What on earth are you talking about?” James’ eyes were wide.
“You don’t know about anything? Oh gosh, okay so… People like you and me, who can make stuff like that happen, like what you did with the daisy, they’re witches and wizards, magical people. People who can't, they’re muggles. The witches and wizards have a whole hidden world, and they’re all around the muggles, but they don't see anything.” Lily was in shock - who was this boy?
“Why are you telling me this? I don’t believe you. Why should I believe you?” She narrowed her eyes at him, skeptically.
“You’re telling me you’ve never seen something that your family didn’t or made something happen that is not explainable?” Lily thought back to when she’d seen a shop with bottles of weird substances and frogs in bowls, and cages of owls, but when she had pointed it out to Petunia and her parents they had simply looked at her in confusion, and brushed her off. Or the time she had jumped off the swing in her back garden and stayed in the air a little longer than what someone might consider “normal”.
“Well, maybe. But that doesn’t mean it's magic… Does it?” shaking her head in disbelief, Lily leaned her head against the tree trying to process the information, and contemplated James. She wasn’t quite sure whether to trust him or not. He seemed relatively pleasant, in a way she couldn't quite explain. His presence made her want to smile, and she was hooked on his words. But- that was just because he was saying such outrageous things wasn't it?
The two sat talking in that meadow until the crickets were buzzing around them and the light was almost gone. A small figure at the edge of Lily’s vision got steadily larger and larger until her sister was directly in front of her. “Lily! Mummy says you should have been home an hour ago!” Petunia was using the sing-song voice that she knew Lily couldn’t stand.
“I know Tuni, but i was just talking to- “ Lily looked beside her to where James had been sitting just seconds before, and he was gone. “Nevermind.”
She hauled herself up, her legs stiff from sitting in the same position for too long. She peered around, in the fading light, and saw a figure disappearing under a hedge at the edge of the meadow. So he had been dragged through a hedge backwards. Smiling, and shaking her head she followed Petunia back to her house, where she apologised to her parents about seven times before they let her go to her room to sleep. As she lay in the dark she contemplated all the day’s events. Was what James had been saying true? Was she really a witch? She didn’t know, but half of her hoped it was true, because the world the odd boy who came from nowhere was describing seemed incredible and free, and she so desperately wanted to explore it with him.
Over the next month, everyday Lily would go to the meadow and wait under the tree, and every day James would crawl under his hedge and run over to her, waving his arms like a madman. She would tease him, and they’d laugh, then spend the day talking, James telling Lily more about the curious new wizarding world, or Lily regaling him with tales of muggle behaviour or exploring the woodland, or racing to open the flower buds (Lily was better at this than James) and climb trees (James was better at this than Lily). They seemed to get along amazingly, and soon James was a better friend to Lily than anyone she’d ever known. When they had both gotten their letters from Hogwarts their families went to Diagon Alley together, and James dragged Lily in and out of all the shops, showing her the newest broomstick, and the best sweets to buy. 
On the 31st of August they had lain in the meadow, and Lily had voiced her fear, the one she had been mulling over in her mind for the past couple of weeks. “James?”
“What if nobody at Hogwarts likes me?” James propped himself up on one elbow and turned to look at her, eyebrows drawn together in confusion.
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, I don't have magical parents, so i don't know about all the things that everyone else does. What if they think I’m not good enough, and I have no friends?” James shook his head.
“That stuff doesn’t matter. You’ve already seen you’re better than me at most of it, and everyone is starting from scratch.” He looked more serious for a second. “Even if it did matter, I’d still be your friend, so you needn’t worry.” “You promise you won't forget me?” James sat up and held up his hand.
“I swear on my life I won’t forget you Lily Evans.” She giggled and sat up as well holding her hand high.
“And I won't forget you James Potter.” He flopped back onto the ground.
“Well, we don’t have to worry about being lonely then - we have each other, always.” Lily smiled, and closed her eyes, the cool end of summer breeze ticking her face and the sound of the grass blowing soothed her ears.
Over the next years Lily and James kept their promise. Every other evening they would sit together in the common room or the library, talking, doing homework, just enjoying one another’s company. And every August on the 31st both of them would lie in the same meadow where they met, sometimes in silence watching the sunset, or talking quietly about the year to come.  And, along with becoming very close friends, Lily sometimes suspected it could be something more. At the end of fifth year their teasing and joking had really hit a peak, and along with it came the joke”” flirting. Well, it had been joking at first. Then Lily started to realise that she might like James as more than a friend. 
She had tried to suppress those feelings as much as she possibly could, but it was difficult when she saw him every single day, joking and laughing with his perfect smile, and dimples (why the dimples?), and his hair that he was so obsessed with. Whenever she was around him she always made fun of him and his hair, joking that she’d charm it off when he was sleeping, but really? She couldn’t have done that if she’d tried. 
Sometimes, however, she got the feeling that James liked her back. Just little things, that were probably just best friend things (at this point she didn’t know the difference), like carrying her books, and waiting for her after lessons, but she had once or twice caught him looking at her with an expression that she couldn’t quite place. Whenever that had happened he’d pulled a goofy face and brushed it off with a joke, though, so she never had a chance to see more clearly.
Like just now, she could feel him staring at her, in that way, even with her eyes closed. They had spent so much time together that Lily often thought that they could manage perfectly fine even if they were silenced for the rest of time. She knew what all his little facial expressions and hand gestures meant, which was how she could so easily tell what he was trying to tell Sirius across the classroom (it was usually about a prank, but she generally ignored it).
The sun had almost set, and the crickets were humming contentedly. Suddenly James broke the comfortable silence they had been in for about twenty minutes.
“Hey, Lils?”
“Mm?” It felt weirdly familiar to their first time lying in this same spot, her confiding her fears in James.
“Do you think there really is gonna be a war?”
 Of course, the topic that was on everyone’s mind at the moment. The silent thoughts and whispered conversations she heard her friend’s parents talking about when she was staying with them. 
“I think that Minnie and Dumbledore think there will be.”
“Yes, I know that much. But do you?” James was looking at her like nothing but her opinion would matter on the topic. She sighed.
“As much as I’d love to keep denying it, the Death Eaters and You Know Who are only getting stronger. It’s inevitable at this point I reckon.” She sat up and looked at him, chin in her hand. “I’m scared though.” He also sat up, mirroring her position, and smiled sadly.
“We all are Lils.” She shook her head.
“I’m a muggle-born. They target people like me, and you know it James. You heard Severus, didn’t you, I’m a ‘filthy mudblood’.” James had a pained expression, as Lily blinked furiously to try and rid the stupid tears from her eyes. She felt his hand on her free one and met his eyes, surprised.
“Don’t, please,” he looked sincere, and she could see her reflection and his eyes, wide and clear, in his glasses. “You’re way more than that. Snape’s a prick - don’t believe a word he says.” He squeezed her hand, keeping it firmly in his.
“I know he is, but I’m sure everyone’s thinking it.” She looked down, embarrassed. “Sorry, I’m sure you don't want to hear all this.” “Shut up, Evans. Of course I wanna hear it. And you really think that I’d agree with Snivellus Snape on anything?” He looked genuinely hurt for a couple of seconds. She shook her head, fighting a smile and tears at the same time. “You know what I think of you?” She shrugged.
“You're the most amazing person I know. Genuinely.” He held her gaze, “ And i know some pretty incredible people. But you’re the best by far. I think I’d know after being around you constantly for seven years. 
You’re the smartest in the year, all the teachers love you, plus, you’re a fucking badass (like damn i did not realise you could throw such a good punch). You’re so kind and thoughtful and on top of that you’re freaking gorgeous. Poor Bellatrix and all her cronies are jealous, Lils, leave some good qualities for the rest of us.” James looked a little embarrassed at his outburst but he wasn’t making a joke out of it, which meant he was sincere. He looked into her eyes, and his hazel ones were shining, as though he was fighting off tears as well. On top of all that he still had her hand held tightly in his.
Lily blushed at the intensity of his stare, but didn’t pull her hand away. She realised she should probably have said something by now, so in absence of anything else she blurted out, “You think I’m gorgeous?” (Why had she said that? Such an idiot, shit.)
“Uh, well…” James was a little red, and ran his fingers through his hair, a sign of nervousness, Lily knew. “I mean, have you seen yourself?” She caught his eye, and smiled. 
“You’re not too bad either.”
“Oh, shut up.” James rolled his eyes.
“You can't joke about it anymore, okay - I… I forbid it.” He stuck his tongue out at her, in the way he had always done.
“Who says I’m joking?” James’s expression changed in an instant.
“You are, though, aren't you?”
She felt her cheeks redden. “Maybe, maybe not.” He frowned and raised a finger, mimicking Professor McGonagall in an almost scarily accurate way for someone who looked so little like her.
“Miss Evans, I demand you tell me whether you are madly in love with me or not.” She grinned, and lay back down on the grass, subtly pulling her hand away from his and wiping it on her jeans. Why was she nervous? It was just James - they did this all the time. Was she going to tell him the truth? Before she would have just brushed it off, and laughed that of course not, she’d rather marry a troll, but there was something about the moment that told her she should do otherwise.
“What if I am?” She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. His eyes were wide, he looked rather taken aback by that statement. She smiled, sheepishly, barely able to meet his eyes all of a sudden. Why on earth was she saying all this? James was probably just messing around with her.
“Well, what if I am?” he sat back and raised himself up on an elbow to peer at her with the same mischievous glint in his eye. 
“I guess we wont know,” she mused, grinning at him, and shuffling closer, so their sides were touching.
“I guess not.” Lily stared up at the almost completely dark sky, the first star just becoming visible. She felt James take her hand, and she intertwined her fingers with his. 
Her life was full of uncertainties, but there was one thing she did know, and that was that she would stay true to her promise, the one she had made seven years ago. Lily Evans would never forget James Potter, or leave his side until the day she died.
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Same Old Storm Again
Same Old Storm Again But you’re stuck out in the same old storm again
It is, just the sort of day he’d forget his umbrella. If his wife were here (she isn’t), she’d have an extra stashed somewhere neat and convenient, maybe in her tote bag or her wallet or the bottom of her shoe— But Isabelle isn’t here (he sighs, jamming his hands in his pockets)—Isabelle isn’t here, and he distinctly remembers sticking his umbrella absently into the trunk of his car, meaning to take it out later when he went for a walk— But he’s walking now, and he doesn’t have it, and Isabelle isn’t here. The rain is already coming down, slow but determined; he can tell this isn’t going to be one of those passing things, the storms that come with a bang and go with a whimper, fading into sunshine before the grass has even had time to drink. No, he thinks, pausing under a knotty-looking oak (stuck out in the same old storm again)—no, this is gonna be one that sticks around. The water is pooling in the cracks of the sidewalk, spilling into the patchy lawns; he watches a beetle roll onto its back like a kid in a swimming pool, kicking its legs in the air like it’s got nowhere to be. It was stupid, he thinks, to go walking on the wettest, nastiest day August has had so far—stupid to go wandering around suburbia when his phone was at 2 percent and his patience at zero—stupid to not sit in his nice dry living room and drink coffee and pretend likethis isn’t three years to the day that his mom died. But he did go for a walk (he was only worrying Isabelle sitting at home), and his phone is dead if not broken—soaked as it is in his pocket—and it’s a solid half mile to his house, and he sighs. Swipes his hand across his eyes—scoffs at himself. It’s been three years; that should be long enough, he thinks, to get over something, even something like this. Mom, he knows, smiling a little wryly, wouldn’t have been sympathetic: sitting around moping, she would say, shaking her head at him like she used to do when he was worried about a math test, acting like you haven’t got anything useful to do to spend your time. Then, smiling a little, her mouth pinching at the corner: By now, you could have landscaped the whole garden if you wanted to. He chuckles a little—swallows. Wonders if she would understand what he meant if he said he was sorry. (Ever since you got married, it’s like I have to schedule an appointment with you, she told him once, a year before she died. Doesn’t that wife of yours have time to have an old woman over for lunch? Mom, he had said, and he could hear his voice fraying at the ends. I…you know you’re always welcome. But right now, Isabelle and I have been a little swamped, so we haven’t— You mean SHE’S been swamped, Mom had said, frowning grimly. Are you really going to cater to that girl the rest of your life? He had just grit his teeth. Swallowed and told himself that this was what he got for being happy. Mom. She’s my wife. I—I need you to accept that. I accept it just fine, his mom said, but her voice had a thin, querulous note in it now, and he wished suddenly he had just asked her over for lunch. I’m just trying to see my son, that’s all. He sighed. Mom… No, by all means, don’t worry about me, she said, and he could hear the proud tilt of her chin, and he kind of smiled. Go carry her purse for her or something. Who needs to see their mother? Not you. He just sighed again—kneaded his temple and swallowed. I…why don’t you come by for dinner tonight? We’d be happy to have you.) He wishes he could tell her he was sorry—wishes now, leaning against the wet, gnarly tree, that he had both been a better son and a better husband, that he had managed to give at least one of them what they deserved. He swallows again—blinks hard at the grass and waits (stuck out in that same old storm again) for his vision to stop swimming. “I miss you,” he mumbles, to no one in particular. “I really miss you.” (C’mon, she had said, the weekend after he got kicked out of that Catholic high school. Let’s go get some ice cream. Then, looking at him now, giving him that little half-smile that was the closest she ever got to darling: You look like you could use it, boy.) He reaches into his pocket, pulling out his phone; the button is jammed, and he’ll be lucky if the whole thing even makes it to tomorrow. He gets up, shoving the phone back in his pocket—turns back the way he came and stands for a moment, looking into the rain. It has to be dinner time by now; if he stays out much later than this, Isabelle will worry, and given the state his phone is in, who knows what wild suppositions she’ll come up with as to what happened to him. So he heads back—head down, hands in his pockets, sludging through the cold, sloshy puddles—makes it a solid block or so before he realizes suddenly that the rain has stopped sliding down his ear and into his shirt collar. He blinks, looking up to see if the storm has moved on to bother someone else; it hasn’t. But his head comes smack against what feels like the tight metal skeleton of an umbrella, and he swears. “Fuck—what the—” “I thought you might want it,” says a voice, and he almost drops his keys—because there’s Isabelle, neat and dry as if she just came from church and holding an umbrella over his head, and he can’t help his grin. “Hey,” he says. “I-I thought you were at home.” “I was,” she smiles. “But I didn’t like to think of you out here all by yourself; I figured you probably had forgotten your umbrella.” He chuckles a little, acknowledging it. “Yeah, well—guess I left without really thinking.” But his wife just shrugs. “It happens,” she says. “That’s why it’s good there’s two of us, see—because the chances are one of us probably remembered our umbrella.” He laughs again—reaches instinctively for her free hand and squeezes it. “Yeah, I guess you’re onto something.” Then, after a moment: “I love you, y’know.” “I know,” she says, and she sounds like she does. “I love you, too, sweetheart.” And, gesturing up the street: “I parked just up here. I was driving around looking for you—c’mon, it’s not far.” His chest warms almost irrationally at the thought of her looking for him; he holds her hand tighter. “Okay. Cool.” And for the moment, it might as well not even be raining.
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geronimo-11 · 11 months ago
These Secrets That We Hide
Chapter: 1/?
Pairing: Jeremy Danvers x OFC
Summary: Katherine Adler thought she was moving to upstate New York with her brother for a chance to start her life over. But when events from her past catch up to her and secrets about the family down the road come to light, her dreams of a fresh start start to crumble. It seems like everyone has secrets to hide.
Warnings: None
A/N: This has been a long time in the making, but it’s finally finished! The first chapter of Katherine’s canon!! Big thank you to @mtwalker for brainstorming with me and just being an all around amazing person and friend.
This strays from canon quite a bit, but just stay with me okay?
Read it here or on AO3!
Chapter 1: Loyalty
No one under the age of fifty willingly moved to Bear Valley.
Most of the inhabitants were elderly retirees fleeing the pressures of city life, or locals whose families had been there for generations and just couldn’t picture a life outside the familiar comfort of their small town. The few young people who did live there were born there, but even then they were looking forward to the day they could bolt to greener, more exciting, pastures.
So when Nick got a call from a friend saying that he was making the long trek from Tennessee to upstate New York with the idea of putting down roots closer to the Pack, he was definitely surprised. He was excited to see an old friend — and at the prospect of having someone new to talk to besides Jeremy, Clay, and Elena — but surprised nonetheless.
Most of the Pack wanted to live as far from being under the Alpha’s thumb as they could get, so they could live their lives as ordinary as possible. Well, actually, so they could break as many rules without getting caught as possible. For someone who didn’t have as close of a relationship with Jeremy as the rest of them, it was odd for any member of the Pack to suddenly want to live so close. But, regardless, Simon was coming, and he seemed very adamant about the fact. 
Nick waited until the day after Simon had told him he would be officially moved in before getting in his car and driving down to greet him, just so he’d have enough time to get settled. The house Simon purchased bordered Stonehaven property and was barely a five minute drive from the house. It was closer to town, but there was an abundance of trees and land this far north, meaning there was plenty of space for a wolf to run and not be seen. As part of the Pack, Simon could even venture onto the Stonehaven property for a run if he wanted. All in all it was a pretty nice setup he'd made for himself.
The road to Simon’s house was long and straight and Nick’s car kicked up dirt in the dry August heat as he turned off the main road and onto a gravel driveway. He thought briefly of having to wash his car again when he got back to Stonehaven. Or maybe he’d run it through the carwash in town. See if he could finally learn the name of the girl working the desk… Focus.
The house came into view and Nick whistled under his breath. From what he remembered, the old farmhouse had belonged to an elderly woman in town who had died almost a year ago. She hadn’t been able to really take care of the house due to her age, and after remaining unoccupied for so long Nick was expecting the house to look a bit worse for wear. That didn’t seem to be the case.
The outside of the house had a fresh coat of white paint and the new porch was large enough to accomodate a wooden swing and two rocking chairs. Nick could smell the strong scent of new mulch in the flower bed as he parked his car and noticed that there were freshly planted bushes decorating the outside of the house. Simon had apparently been hard at work.
Nick shut the car door as he took in all of the new renovations and made his way towards the house. He hadn’t made it far before the front door opened -- heavy dark oak that didn’t creak on the hinges, also very new -- and Simon stepped out.
Simon hadn’t changed that much from the last time Nick had seen him three years ago. His messy brown hair was pushed back from his face --  uselessly, it would seem, since several strands still hung down in his dark brown eyes. A gray t-shirt clung to his broad shoulders and outlined the muscles in his arms. The only difference Nick could really see was that he hadn’t shaved in a while. Heavy stubble clung to his jaw and Simon swiped a hand over it as he hopped hastily down the porch steps. 
“Hey, man,” Simon greeted, holding out his hand and flashing teeth in a grin. “Good to see you.”
“Yeah, you too. Been a while.” Nick grasped Simon’s hand tightly and pulled him into a hug. He clapped a hand on Simon’s back and stepped away, looking around at the house once again. “Looks like you’ve been busy. This place was practically falling apart from what I heard.”
Simon turned back to the house and smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, it needed some work. I can’t take all the credit, though. I had some guys come in and do some work before we got here, I just okayed everything over the phone.”
Nick raised a brow, doing a quick scan of the outside and then back towards the house. “We?”
Simon’s eyes widened and he turned to Nick with a nervous laugh. 
“Yeah. Um…” he paused and cleared his throat. Another laugh bubbled anxiously passed his lips and he ran a hand through his hair. “I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon. I thought I’d have a chance to…” 
Nick crossed his arms across his chest. “A chance to what?”
Silence. Simon bounced on the heels of his feet and gave Nick a wary glance. 
Nick frowned and took a step forward. “Simon?”
With another glance in his direction Simon gestured for Nick to follow him towards the house. He didn’t say another word until the front door shut behind them.
“I found my sister.” The words seemed to tumble from Simon’s mouth before he could stop himself. He was practically vibrating with excitement, eyes lit up with barely restrained joy.
Nick raised his brows and smiled. Simon and his sister had had a falling out about six years ago, severe enough that his sister had left their hometown, cut off all communication with her family, and remained completely off the grid. Simon couldn’t find her anywhere. That is, until about a year and a half ago, when he’d come to Nick wanting to reconnect with his sibling, and Nick managed to pull enough strings to get a general location for him. He hadn’t heard anything afterwards, when Simon went basically off the grid himself, but Nick was happy that the two seemed to have reconciled.
“That’s great, Si. I’m happy to hear it. But, uh,” He looked around the small entryway Simon had shuffled them into. “Why did we have to come in here for you to tell me that?”
“Because that’s not all I have to tell you, and I thought you’d feel better hearing the rest sitting down.” All the previous excitement Simon had shown when they first entered the house was gone. Even though he was still trying to put on a light-hearted air, he looked more serious than Nick had ever seen him. 
A pit settled in the middle of Nick’s stomach and he cast Simon an apprehensive look as he allowed himself to be led into the living room and seated on the couch.
“Is everything okay? Are you and your sister good now, or..?” Nick prodded when it seemed like Simon may fall silent again. Dancing around the subject was making his fingers twitch. He clasped his hands between his knees and waited for Simon to, hopefully, tell him what was going on.
“Yeah, Katherine and I are fine. Better than fine, actually.” Simon sat in an armchair across from Nick and grinned. “I apologized and we talked and cleared the air. It’s almost like nothing happened at all.”
Simon’s smile faltered slightly and he looked down at the floor. 
“But it just didn’t feel like enough to say sorry. Not after everything…” He trailed off and shook his head, his eyes glazing over as he lost himself in thought. After a moment he blinked, coming back to himself, and looked up at Nick. “That’s why I bought her this house.”
Nick stared at him. He… he must have heard wrong.
“You bought her… this house?” He gestured around the room with a single finger. Simon nodded. Nick’s eyes widened and he felt his jaw drop. He couldn’t think of anything to say other than, “That’s an awfully big gesture for just an apology.”
Simon’s eyes darkened and Nick watched as his jaw clenched and unclenched reflexively. 
“There’s more to it than that.”
Before Nick could snap and ask what the hell was going on, they heard the rumbling of a car engine coming down the driveway. Nick glanced out the window behind him and then back to Simon, only to find the other wolf’s eyes were already on him.
“I haven’t told Jeremy any of this,” Simon confessed cautiously. Nick pressed his lips in a firm line, the pit in his stomach growing with every word.
“I was planning to, I swear,” he placated with open palms when he saw the look on Nick’s face. “But I wanted to call you first and have you come over so I could tell you everything. You just beat me to it.”
Nick shook his head, eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. “Why would you call me-” The realization clicked and Nick felt his face drop. “You want me to tell Jeremy first. To cushion the blow for when you talk to him.”
Because Simon will have to talk to him. If he brought a human into his house -- a house that was basically on Stonehaven property -- without telling Jeremy, it definitely wouldn’t go unanswered. It probably wouldn’t have gone unanswered if he had told Jeremy. Regardless, either Simon would go talk to Jeremy or Jeremy would go talk to Simon, and the latter would be infinitely worse.
The engine was getting louder now and Simon glanced anxiously out the window. 
“There’s one other thing that I haven’t told you about,” he started slowly, standing up and walking towards the door. Nick stood to follow.
“You mean other than the fact you have a human living with you on Stonehaven’s doorstep?” Nick quipped. “I don’t see how it can get much worse.”
Simon offered him a wry smile. He paused with his hand on the doorknob and met Nick’s gaze.. Something flashed in Simon’s eyes then -- anxiety, protectiveness, fear -- but they all vanished before Nick could pinpoint just one.
“I just… I need you to keep an open mind.”
With that said he opened the door and stepped out on the porch, leaving Nick following after him slightly bewildered. There was an old, red jeep sputtering down the driveway when they went outside. The brakes squeaked as it pulled to a stop next to Nick’s car, and the jeep hissed and groaned so badly as the engine was shut off that Nick wouldn’t have been surprised if the entire thing fell apart right in front of him.
“I wish she’d get rid of that thing,” Simon mumbled beside him, shifting side to side as the engine gave a final sputter before it died. The driver’s side door creaked as it was forced open, and a woman stepped out. 
She was fairly tall, with long dark hair and sharp cheekbones. A smile lit up her pretty face when she saw the two of them on the porch and she held up a hand to wave. Nick held up his hand in response before realizing just exactly who she was. He looked at her and then again at his friend, brows raised.
“That’s your sister?” He asked. Simon shot him a half-hearted glare.
Before Nick could defend himself there was another loud, metallic groaning sound and one of the back doors of the jeep popped open. Considering Katherine was leaning over the passenger seat and grabbing a bag, there was no way she could have opened it. So, who..?
He didn’t have to wait long to find out. A pair of small legs poked out from the side of the jeep, and then a mess of sandy brown hair was barrelling towards them, shouting excitedly. 
“Uncle Si!” 
It was a little boy, probably no more than six or seven years old. He was bolting through the grass with the same blinding grin on his face that Katherine had given them moments ago.
This must be her son. Nick looked over at Simon, who was actively avoiding looking at him. He was grinning, holding out his arms for the boy as he raced up the steps and into his uncle’s arms. 
When the breeze picked up, Nick realized why.
He had thought at first that maybe Simon was avoiding his gaze because he’d let not one but two humans into his home. But that wasn’t it. The wind picked up, ruffling the boy’s hair and carrying his scent towards the house. At first, Nick thought he was imagining things so he took a deeper inhale. His blood turned cold and his gaze immediately snapped to Simon, not even bothering to hide the panic he was feeling and wishing he had bit his tongue because things just got much, much worse.
The boy was a wolf.
“Does she know?” Nick asked, glancing down the hall where Katherine had disappeared. 
After brief introductions Nick offered to help carry in the luggage and boxes Katherine had stacked in the back of her jeep. She had offered to make dinner for him as thanks for helping them unpack, but Nick politely declined, saying he couldn’t stay long and just wanted to catch up with her brother for a bit. He’d turned on Simon the second she was out of sight. They hadn’t even made it past the entryway.
“Of course she doesn’t know. Do you honestly think I’d bring her here if she did? We’d be on the other side of the country by now,” Simon scoffed.
Nick threw his hands in the air, exasperated, “I don’t know! I’m still trying to figure out why you would bring her here in the first place!”
Simon shushed him, glancing down the hallway to make sure they hadn’t been overheard. He turned back to Nick earnestly, raking a hand through his hair.
“Listen, I just… I couldn’t just take Caleb away from her. And even if I had wanted to, there’s no way I’d have been able to do it without a nationwide manhunt being called down on me. Believe it or not I actually brought her here to keep her from finding out her son is a werewolf.”
Nick gaped at him.
“By surrounding her with other werewolves?” his voice strained, rising in pitch and cracking slightly in disbelief as he tried to keep from yelling. “I’m pretty sure she’s gonna notice when he hits puberty and you have to put deadbolts on his bedroom door.” 
Simon’s lips pressed in a firm line, biting back a retort, but remarkably he said nothing. Sighing heavily Nick brought up a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose.
“Do you honestly think Jeremy will be okay with this?” he asked. Simon laughed bitterly.
“Of course not,” he admitted. “There’s nothing about this situation that’s okay. Hell, I’m not even really okay with this. But I wouldn’t be here if I thought I had another choice.”
Nick rubbed his palms on his eyes and took a deep breath. He shook his head and looked Simon in the eye, making sure every word he said would register, that Simon was aware of the danger he was putting his family in.
 “You are knowingly backing him into a corner, Simon. And you might not be glad you did.”
A warning was all he could give him now. Maybe if Simon had bothered to call him earlier, Nick could have listed all the reasons why this was an absolutely horrible idea. But he hadn’t, and now they are where they are, with Simon digging himself a hole and Nick apparently the one handing him the shovel. Jeremy was likely to bury them both if they weren’t careful.
Simon swallowed and offered a sharp nod. “I know. But what was I supposed to do, let my nephew become a Mutt?”
Nick rubbed at the side of his face, exasperated. He threw his hands in the air helplessly. 
“No, just… I don’t know.”
Nick placed his hands on his hips, words dying in his mouth as the boy -- Caleb, Simon had told him during their introductions -- ran down the staircase beside them.
“Look!” he held up a small plastic dinosaur to Nick, a grin stretching across his face. “Uncle Si got this for me! They’re all over my room, even my bed has dinosaurs on it!”
Nick smiled at him. “That’s really cool, bud.”
Caleb offered Nick another toothy grin and took off down the hall, yelling excitedly about his new bedroom to his mother in the kitchen. Once he was out of sight Nick ran a hand over his jaw and shared an uneasy look with his friend. 
“What exactly are you going to tell Jeremy?”
Simon exhaled a long, sharp gust of air and rubbed a hand at the back of his neck.  
“The truth. All of it.”
Nick laughed once, a humorless puff of air past his lips. Katherine emerged from the kitchen then, with Caleb gripping her hand tightly and dragging her down the hall. His face was alight with excitement and his mouth was moving a mile a minute as he urged his mother towards the stairs.
Katherine’s eyes held the patience of a saint as she looked down at her son, smiling encouragingly at him and nodding every so often as she allowed herself to be drug across the hardwood floor. Nick felt his chest tighten, his thoughts turning to his own mother. The brief time they’d spent together in Ontario felt like a lifetime ago now, and he knew he’d never get the chance to see her again. He couldn’t, for her sake, and it killed him inside every time he thought about it. And not just her, either. Jeremy was still trying to decide what to do about Rachel. He hadn't made any decision yet, but he had to eventually.
As they passed, Katherine looked up and met Nick’s gaze. She smiled at him, the corners of her hazel eyes crinkling, and Nick felt himself smile in return. He looked between Katherine and Caleb one more time, saw the joy on each of their faces, and knew he’d made his decision. There was no way he could pass up an opportunity to help a wolf stay with his mother. He'd lost his own, and he may have no real say in what happens with Rachel and her son, but he has a chance to do something now. When they’d disappeared up the stairs once more, Nick sighed resignedly and dug his car keys out of his pocket.
“Well, it better be convincing. For your sake and for theirs.”
Katherine offered to make dinner twice more before Nick left and he turned them both down as kindly as he could -- although when she mentioned grilled steak he felt his resolve falter and mouth water. But he took one glance at Simon and shook his head, telling her he’d be more than happy to join them some other night. For now, he needed to think. About, well, everything. 
First he needed to figure out how to tell Jeremy about the situation that he had inadvertently dropped on their doorstep. If he’d known the real reason why Simon was looking for his sister-- no. He couldn’t go there. Not when he didn’t even know if Simon knew Katherine had had a son. He would give him the benefit of the doubt. For now.
The drive back to Stonehaven seemed shorter than the drive to Simon’s house, and before he even realized it Nick was turning onto the driveway. He felt his stomach clench and his grip tightened on the steering wheel. It was one of the few times in his life where he was genuinely nervous to go home. 
With any luck no one would be awake, and he could think about the best way to approach the news tonight and tell Jeremy about everything tomorrow. Simon hadn’t mentioned when he was thinking about coming to Stonehaven, but Nick knew he’d need to fill Jeremy in before that happened. He didn’t want Jeremy getting blindsided like he had been, especially considering the Alpha’s influence would literally mean life or death. 
His car rolled to a stop in front of the house and Nick felt his stomach sink. There was a light on in the living room. Maybe it was Clay or Elena, sitting up for a drink. Although, if they thought they were alone, he should probably knock before he entered the house. He snorted his amusement and turned the car off to head towards the front door.
Nick peeked into the living room when he got into the house, and the door shut behind him with a foreboding click as he felt his stomach sink impossibly lower.
Luck, it seemed, was not on his side tonight. 
Jeremy was sitting at his desk, a lamp beside him providing a soft yellow glow, just enough for him to see the papers in front of him. He looked up as Nick walked in and smiled.
Well. There was certainly no avoiding him now.
“You’re back late,” Jeremy commented off-handedly. Nick scratched at the back of his neck as he walked into the living room, stopping just in front of Jeremy’s desk.
“Yeah, we, uh, ended up talking for a while. There was a lot for us to catch up on,” he mumbled the last part and Jeremy raised a brow at him.
“And? How is Simon? It’s been a while since he was here last. I was surprised to hear he wanted a change of scene so suddenly.” He looked down at the papers in his hand and Nick shifted on his feet.
“He’s… good.”
His hesitation made Jeremy pause and then Nick was on the receiving end of two intense, questioning eyes. Suddenly Nick was sent back to all the times he’d seen that exact look when he was a child, the few instances when his father wasn’t around and he’d managed to sneak cookies before dinner only to be caught after the fact with chocolate all over his face. He squirmed just like he did when he was eight years old and Jeremy zeroed in on the movement. 
“Nick?” he prodded, dropping the papers on his desk and giving the younger wolf his full attention.
Taking a deep breath through his nose Nick stepped forward. He pressed his palms flat on the cool wood of the desk to steady himself and looked Jeremy in the eye.
“There’s, um… There’s something you should know.”
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ittybittywordsmith · a year ago
Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story
August 2nd, 2014 — the 43rd anniversary of the death of Leon Reynolds.
This day was always the hardest. Even as it had gotten easier, even as time had done its sacred duty and healed her wounds, it was still the hardest day of the whole year. Aurora preferred to take the day to herself. Her children would have accompanied her, if she had allowed it — Circe knew that they, perhaps even more so that herself, deserved that right, but they respected their mother's wishes for peace and tranquility. Sometimes others would be there when she arrived, or would join her shortly after, but over the years, they had all dropped away quietly. All but one. But today — today Aurora could see no one waiting for her. That was fine. Some conversations were best had in private, were they not? The August air was warm as Aurora walked through the grounds of Elysium, the light breeze whistling softly through the lush green grass that surrounded tombstones and grave markers. Elysium was a beautiful place, for a cemetery. It wasn't where Aurora would have wanted her husband to be buried, but Leon had been an American hero as well as a wizarding spy, and it turned out national security still took priority in her husband's life, even after death. It took her several minutes of walking by names that had grown so familiar to her over the years, she could recite them off the tip of her tongue without ever having seen the faces they belonged to. Men and women who all died around the same time, who all gave their lives and sometimes their deaths for their people and their countries. Aurora had never learned their stories. She didn't need to. They each had their own to mourn them, after all, and she'd had her fill of tragedy without adopting theirs. So Aurora continued to walk, until she found the headstone she'd been visiting for more years than she'd even been married.
Leon Reynolds. December 9th, 1937 - August 2nd, 1971. Beloved friend, husband, and father. A hero to us all. A sigh escaped Aurora's lips — the same sigh she had been carrying around in her chest for the last forty-three years, it felt like — and she folded her hands across her abdomen. "Hello, darling. I know it's been awhile. . ." 
When Aurora was twelve, she met Leon Reynolds for the first time, in a tussle with her eldest brother on the streets outside her family estate. Leon was a strange boy — grubby and skinny, with a touch of wildness about him that called to something deeper inside her. Aurora chased off her brother before he could do too much damage to this strange wild boy, and together, they ran so fast that Aurora thought her feet might very well lift right off the ground without the help of a broom at all. And just like that, he became her strange wild boy, and if her brother ever wanted to knock him to the ground again, he had to go through her. 
"The children are doing well. I knew you'd want to know." Aurora spoke conversationally as she pulled the bouquet of dying flowers from the vase that had been sitting in front of her husband's gravestone for more than a decade now. The flowers had once been lovely, with large white petals — daisies, perhaps, although she didn't have an intimate enough knowledge of flowers to be certain — but they had wilted long ago, the petals beginning to curl into a dry and dismal brown. Aurora had no idea who had brought them here. Not herself, she was reasonably certain, but it could have easily been Celeste or Castor, or any of the number of random individuals she'd met throughout the years that had attributed their lives or their loved ones' lives to some action or another of Leon Reynolds. Aurora had never tried to keep track of them — the grief had been hard enough, back then, without the reminder that there were absolute strangers who knew more about that part of her husband's life than she did. "Celeste is still drawing star charts, though I find myself wondering if she will give it up any day now. New Orleans was a good place for her to settle — bright and vivacious, just like her, and just like you, really — but now that the children are all readying to leave the nest, I can see her growing antsy." Aurora twirled her wand around the vase, conjuring a new bouquet of deep red roses yet to bloom. She gave the flowers a tap, and a charm to extend their limited shelf life shimmered over the petals. It was a tidy bit of spellwork — if there was anything Aurora had learned by spending half her life in a school, it was how to keep her magic tidy. "If that husband of hers isn't careful, she'll drag him out to Timbuktu before he even knows what hit him." Aurora pulled a cloth from within her robes and began to wipe the dust from the vase. "Meanwhile Castor has thrown himself into his astrolabes. He seems to think he's on the verge of developing a new model that will nearly double how far we can project accurate astrological readings. I swear, that boy sends me a new letter about it twice a week. He's considering seeking a new patent for it." Aurora clicked her tongue and shook her head as she adjusted the vase, centering it against the headstone. She tilted her head just slightly for a moment, considering, before she gave a small, self-satisfied smile. "Still — our son, the inventor of a new and improved way to read our universe? Wouldn't that be something." 
When Aurora was fifteen, she was in love with Leon Reynolds. Despite being two years older, that Reynolds boy was as good as Aurora's shadow, or so whispered the teachers at school. Aurora didn't mind. Leon still had a wildness to him, and being near it reminded Aurora that there was more to her than star charts and ink stains and her mother's expectations. Her greatest fear was June, when he would leave her behind in these cold stone walls forever, whatever he promised about summers and letters to be sent. But no matter how slow time seems, it never stops, and the day came and went. Aurora kissed him after he crossed the graduation stage before she let him go. A few days later she returned to her home estate and waited on the humid streets just outside, but her strange wild boy didn't come back that day, or for a very long time. 
"The grandchildren are all growing like weeds — I'm sure you're not surprised, but still, it manages to catch me off guard all the time, and I see them more often than most grandmothers can claim, I think." Aurora had moved on to dusting the headstone herself. There was no need, really — either magically or otherwise, Elysium was well maintained, gravestones included — but still, it made Aurora feel better. Like there was something she could still do for her late husband. "You would be proud. Little Fae is busy working for Spirito Santo. Jeanne Marie is off putting her chaotic energy to professional use — much to Celeste's relief. I thought maybe she'd worry herself into an ulcer there for a little while. You'd think she'd have more sympathy now for how difficult it was when she was a teenager, but Celeste doesn't seem to enjoy the irony." Aurora smiled to herself as she brushed away a fallen leaf from a corner of the headstone. "Then again, I remember you used to get a little surly too, whenever I was right. And she certainly is your daughter." It was almost funny, how personality traits like that could manifest on their own. Celeste was her father's daughter, and Castor his father's son, but between them they could hardly manage a single coherent memory of Leon Reynolds. "Castor's twins graduated school this year. Calypso's ready to go out and grab the world by the horns — clever as the devil and twice as pretty, that one is. She looks so much like my mother, have I ever told you that? And Cassiopeia is going into professional quodpot. Do you remember the fights that you and Orion used to get into? You swore up and down that quodpot was the world's most useless sport — but oh, darling, how you would change your tune if you could see your granddaughter in the sky now. She's a natural — that part, at least, I'm certain she didn't get from you." Aurora sighed again, and pulled away from the headstone. It was perfectly clean now — had been clean in the first place, if that were something she was willing to admit, but now there wasn't anything Aurora could even pretend to tidy. "The others are still in school. Auriga, and Lucian, and Aquila. Even little Fox will start in a week or two. But before you know it, I'll be here again in a blink of the eye, telling you about how they're all making their way into the world themselves, young and proud and full of life. Like you and I did, not so long ago. Time is funny that way, isn't it?" 
When Aurora was eighteen, she found Leon Reynolds mulling around the streets outside her family estate, casual as sin and waiting for her like it was just any other summer day from their childhood. Like there hadn’t been almost four years of absence, of grief and yearning and silence between them. Aurora had slapped him, quick and hard as she could manage, a burst of wildness that had suddenly returned to her after vanishing without a trace more than three years ago. She’d pushed him away — and then just as quickly, pulled him back, wanting nothing more than for her strange wild boy to make up for the years he should have spent touching her. 
"They would have come, if they could. Celeste and Castor, perhaps even the grandchildren, if someone had asked them. If I had asked. But I didn't. I hope you'll forgive me." Aurora closed her tired eyes and took a deep breath. This was always the most difficult part — when she ran out of things to do, of things to distract her from the fact that she was standing in front of her husband's grave. In other years, she would have taken her leave at this point — but not this year. She still had more to say. "I don't quite know when I got this old," Aurora admitted to the headstone, the echo of a mirthless laugh in her voice. "Castor and Celeste have started to worry when I do things on my own — have started to worry, even, of my living in the school, as if I didn't have an entire army of house elves at my beck and call. And for this — I thought Castor was going to insist on accompanying me, really, but I suspect his wife talked him out of it. Perhaps that is selfish of me, not to bring your children here to see you. But they know where you are, and how to get here, and are perfectly competent in doing so on their own, I imagine. And you and I — well, they say parents need to take time to themselves too, don't they?" It wasn't a funny remark, not even to Aurora, but if Leon were actually here, and not merely a stone in the ground, she knew he would have smiled. "Mostly, I wanted to speak to you in private. To say the things that I have only been saying to myself for the past several years. I know you can't answer — I am not so aged out of my own wits as to expect a talking headstone — but. . . you can still listen. After everything you put me through, Leon Reynolds, you owe me this much." 
When Aurora was twenty-two, her younger brother died. Little Altair, who in truth hadn’t been any smaller than Aurora herself, and only two years her junior. But he had always been clever, far too clever for his own good. His own cleverness had been his downfall — it had led to overachievement, and then to boredom, and then to experimentation. As it turned out, drugs didn’t care about cleverness, and in the end, the overdose won out. Aurora stood alone at the funeral while her elder brother supported their mother, and when Leon Reynolds showed up late to the wake, he hadn’t tried to stop her from yelling or shoving or crying. He simply waited until she wore herself out, and then offered her an escape — to run away with him, to marry him, to live with him in New York where the rest of his new life was waiting. Aurora loved her family and her home, but it was broken now, and maybe she loved her strange wild boy more, so she went. 
"Did you know?" The breeze picked up into a short gust at her question, like the air itself could sense her agitation. Aurora didn't even know exactly what she was asking. Had Leon known — what, exactly? That he had sired a child on some nameless woman on another continent? That his child would one day go on to wreak the worst destruction magical America had seen in decades? That Aurora would one day be summoned to the presence of the Director of Magical Security and asked with pitying eyes whether she could identify her husband as the father of another woman's child? She shook with her rage and indignation, but closed her eyes, taking a deep, steadying breath. Her anger wasn't the point here. "Would you have told me, if you'd had the chance? I can't imagine you had the opportunity. They say he's a little younger than Castor, and when you left, Castor wasn't — well, I suppose that hardly matters. Because I don't think you would have told me. You never wanted to tell me things, when they were hard. You always ran away when things were difficult, and blamed it on your job, your unknowable life that I could never be a part of, and I always took you back. Did you think I wouldn't have taken you back after this? You were probably right, but that doesn't make you any less of a Circe-fucked coward over it." Aurora bit down hard on her lip and looked away, trying to reign in her anger. It took her several long seconds before she could continue in a more controlled voice. "I didn't tell them." Castor and Celeste, she'd meant, and the grandchildren in turn. Hadn't told them about their father's betrayal, about Scott James sliding a picture before her and explaining that the man who had just struck such a blow against their nation had come about as part of her husband's infidelity. "How could I tell them? I raised them to idolize you, damn you. I told them you were a hero. And what's worse, I believed it. I let it dictate my life. The impossible standard of Leon Reynolds, war hero. Martyr. Love of my life. And now what have you left me with in my final days? Leon Reynolds, traitor. Adulterer. Liar." Aurora spat the words, feeling her rage draw tears to her eyes, but she didn't dare cry. She had never cried when she and Leon fought — only after he was gone, and had left her to pick up the pieces of her life alone, as she always did. "And of course, in a true coward's fashion, you went and died, and don't even have to deal with the consequences of this mess you've made. Damn you." 
When Aurora was twenty-nine, she and Leon had a fight that would haunt her for the rest of her life. She had always hated this career of his, no matter what Leon preached about truth and justice and serving his country. She loathed this agency that had swept her strange wild boy away from her before he’d taken more than two steps from the graduation stage, that continued to take him away from her night after night, week after week. The nights when he returned home to her were the easiest — all she could remember was how she loved him, how she missed him, how to get lost in him, and after Celeste, the sounds of him murmuring stories in the dark as he tucked her into bed filled Aurora with a contentment that felt like it would never fade. But inevitably the nights when he would leave would come — those were the hardest. The incessant tapping of the owl at the window, and the feeling inside her heart as she watched him walk away into the night. Once, she fought back and asked him to stay — for her, for their daughter, for their growing family. The back and forth grew so loud, Aurora thought it would wake Celeste, and by the time the man who had once been her cherished strange wild boy strode into the night, she was not sorry to see him go, and not sorry that she didn’t tell him about the subtle swell of her belly. 
"But do you know what I think I'm most angry about, Leon?" Aurora had grown quiet in her words, so intent was she on this lifeless gray headstone before her. A flock of hippogriffs could have begun mating rituals just behind her, and she wouldn't have noticed. No, she needed to have it out between her and her husband — even if he did quite conveniently happen to be dead. "If we put the lying, and the cheating, and the fact that you apparently fathered a mass murderer aside — I think what I'm most angry about is that you never did live up to your promise. Do you remember it, darling? I was standing in a cemetery just like this, after Altair. . . and you said that we could make a life worth living together. But we didn't, did we? I made it. We made Celeste, and Castor, but you were never there for them. You were never there for me. All those promises, and what did you ever give me? A lonely house, a cold bed, and an ugly headstone." How many years had Aurora wanted to say such an unthinkable thing out loud? All those years she had let those thoughts fester with the guilt inside of her. Not anymore. Not after this. Leon Reynolds, Circe rest his soul, did not deserve her guilt. "I love you," Aurora Belmont Reynolds whispered into the warm August air. "And I miss you. But the thing is, my darling — I missed you before you were dead." 
When Aurora was thirty, an unfamiliar man showed up at her door and brought news that shattered her world. Her strange wild boy was dead in some strange wild land across a sea, and he would never return to her arms again. Their last words were argumentative, and mean, and full of hurt — but how could they have known it to be their last fight, their last conversation, their last chance to embrace, slipping through their fingers? Knowledge was power, they said, but what power could there be in knowledge that arrived too late? It took Aurora days upon weeks upon months to come to terms with the reality — that Leon would never be more than a figment of their daughter's memory, and a stranger to their son. It was cruel, and unfair, and all Aurora had left of the strange wild boy she'd loved all her life. It may have been Leon's story, but it was Aurora's to tell. 
Tell his story she had — except she hadn't known quite all of it, had she? She hadn't known the full truth of the man she had always considered the love of her life. But she did now, and she had questions. And if she was being honest, it wasn't Leon she had come here to speak with.
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cockslut-padalecki · a year ago
Love You to Death - Chapter Seven
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Summary: Dean Winchester is a FBI Agent; intent on capturing murderers while his brother Sam, a high profile Prosecutor, puts them behind bars.
Y/N is elusive and seductive, turning both brothers’ heads. Sam might be captivated but Dean isn’t convinced she’s as innocent as she seems. Can Y/N fool them long enough to love them both to death?
Characters: Lawyer!Sam x Serial Killer!Reader // FBI agent!Dean x Serial Killer!Reader // Other x Serial Killer!Reader
Writers: @ne-gans & @negans-lucille-tblr​.
Word Count: 1606.
Chapter Tags: none.
A/N: In regards to a tag list for this story, Bee and I will only be tagging those that request it. Our forevers and specific character/actor tags will not apply so you want to keep reading this story, you MUST let us know via an ask to either myself or Bee. Replies are too hard to keep track of. Also if you request to be tagged, please make sure you’re active to keep your space. Thank you x
The sun blaring through the gap in the curtains is what wakes Dean the next morning. He takes a quick glance at his phone, noticing the time: 08:34. God, he hasn’t slept that well since—
He barely remembers her leaving, mentioning something about pizza before the memory of fucking her slams into him like a ten ton truck. Guilt resonates hard deep in his gut but the overwhelming sense of suspicion manages to wash away the guilt in one swift wave. 
Pulling on his pants and a clean shirt from his closet, he slowly shuffles to the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Pouring himself a coffee, he walks back to the lounge to grab up Bobby’s file. After Y/N arrived last night he never got a chance to even glance over the first page so he may as well make the most of the time he has to drink his coffee. 
Opening the folder, he’s met with all of Bobby’s personal details. Name - Robert Steven Singer. Date of birth - August 12th, 1950. Known aliases - none. Next of Kin - wife Bela Singer, whereabouts unknown. Cause of Death - supposed gas explosion. 
Dean skims through the rest of his file, reading a little about Bobby’s past but it’s not really sinking in knowing he needs to get down to the office before AD Collins busts his balls for being late again. As he’s about to close it up, he notices a paper clip hanging precariously off the first page with nothing attached to it. Odd. He swears something was there last night. He tries to think back before Y/N showed up in that smoking hot lingerie… 
Shit, what the hell was it? 
Something clicks as Dean retraces his mental footsteps, trying to put things in order that they happened. He got his pizza, opened the file, Y/N came to the door… 
A photo. That’s it. Before he had got up to let her in, he’d seen a photo of Bobby with his wife which he now knows was named Bela. He can’t remember the physicalities but it was definitely the two of them together. Where could it have gone? Could it have fallen somewhere after Y/N arrived? A draught from the open door causing it to flutter away? 
He checks under the table, shoves his hand beneath the couch, behind the curtains, everywhere. It was nowhere to be found. He curses, knowing he’ll be in trouble for losing a potential bit of evidence as a thought crosses his mind. Y/N had taken a slice of pizza on her way out, could she have knocked it away? Or perhaps? No surely not. Had she taken it? Why would she want a photo of an old coot and his gold digger wife? 
Pulling the messy file back into some sort of order, he shoves it into his suit jacket and makes his way to the office. He didn’t know why she took it but Dean was sure as shit he was going to find out. 
The more Dean delved into Bobby’s file, the more the ruling of an accidental death seemed farcical. The gas company who supplied the old man’s mansion had only carried out an inspection a month before his death, with no reason for concern, fingers were now firmly being pointed at his wife, Bela. But she was nowhere to be found. 
A few times he wished he hadn’t pushed to be on the case so much, the circumstances hitting a little too close to home. In his rush to leave the apartment, he’d picked up the files on his father’s murder and found himself skimming back through the details and coming across the photo of John and his young wife Jody, only hours before he was brutally murdered. Just seeing her smiling, her arms tight around his father’s waist roused anger within Dean he found hard to control but the secret whiskey bottle he had stashed in his desk draw helped to stem the hatred, even if just for a little while. Did she plan to kill him as the photo was taken? Did she flee knowing that she was leaving her husband to die in a pool of his own blood? He was glad the bitch had drowned but he hated that he had so many unanswered questions that he’d never get the answer to. 
The ping of an email received pulls Dean from his thoughts. He looks up, skimming over the name of the sender. Garth. Dean clicks it open and a short message reveals. 
Hey man. Here’s the picture of Bobby Singer and his wife you asked for. Bizarre that it wasn’t included in his file but hey, that’s archives problem! Shame, she’s super hot. 
Dean opens the attachment and studies it closely. Shit, Garth’s right; she sure is pretty. As inappropriate as it is, he can’t help but think that if he met her in a bar, he’d definitely be buying her breakfast the next morning. As he gazes over her image again, stood next to Bobby, a wide smile across her lips, he can’t shake an overwhelming feeling of familiarity. 
The niggle in Dean’s brain continues to burrow its way further in, like a parasite settling inside its host. He has to check for peace of mind - to dispel his curiousness. He hurriedly types away and up comes a copy of Y/N’s squeaky clean record that Garth has sent him, complete with a picture of her state driving licence. Dragging the two images side by side he studies them hard and suddenly—
No. It can’t be.
She must’ve had work done before marrying Bobby; her lips fuller from what Dean assumes is Botox and her hair is yet another colour, her waist a little trimmer. But it’s definitely her - the look in her eyes giving her away immediately. The darkness, the wickedness Dean found sexy which he naturally attributed to her just being… well, her. But that was all part of her allure of course. Get men to fall in love with her… murder them.
Dean pulls the trash can under his desk out just in time, hurling into it with heavy retches, bile burning the back of his throat. Once he’s sure he’s finished, he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and reaches for his desk drawer, yanking it open quickly. He takes a swig from the whiskey bottle, the warmth of the liquid melting away the acidic taste collecting on his tonsils. As he shifts his gaze back to his computer screen, the image of her glares back at him, her once beautiful smile now a twisted, murderous grin. 
He needs to warn Sam.
“Are you sure?” Sam paces up and down the kitchen, hands running through his hair. A layer of sweat shines across his forehead and his breath is still a little ragged from the workout Dean had interrupted. 
As soon as Dean managed to compose himself with a few more gulps of whiskey than he cared to confess, he had rushed to Sam’s right away. Dean knew he would probably be skeptical - his enamour with Y/N starting to take its toll - but Sam always trusted Dean’s instinct above all else.
“I’m certain Sammy. It’s her.” Dean replies matter of factly. 
“Look Dean, I know you want to solve this case, I wanna see the bitch who murdered Bobby get what’s coming to her too but you’re clutching at straws here.” Sam replies, sliding Bobby’s case file back to Dean - a copy of Y/N’s driving licence photo pinned to the front. 
“You don’t believe me? You don’t see it?” He almost shoves the photos back under Sam’s nose willing him to realise but he can tell from the look on Sam’s face that he doesn’t. “Sam, it’s her—“ Dean protests in disbelief.
“I admit there’s the tiniest resemblance there but that’s it Dean. She’s not Bela or whatever her name is. She’s just Y/N so drop it okay?”
Dean opens his mouth to speak but thinks better of it. He can’t tell Sam it’s all in her eyes, in the way her stare seems to pierce through Dean’s soul even though a photograph. Sam can’t find out that Dean knows her just as intimately as he does. 
“When did you last sleep?” Sam asks diverting the subject, clearly done with the conversation about Y/N.
“Hm?” Dean blinks himself out of his momentary daze, eyes locked on her smile leering up at him from the paper it’s printed on. When did he last sleep? 
Oh. Last night. That’s now the second time in a matter of weeks he’s slept without a drop of alcohol to aid him. It baffles him how she can make him so powerless, so weak that he can do nothing but pass out after being in her presence.
It feels like an eternity has passed since the previous evening when she arrived on his doorstep, clad in the lingerie set that had his dick swelling in seconds. He swallows uncomfortably, remembering how incredible it felt to sink into her hot little pussy again but reality hits, his stomach turning from how tight his slacks are getting.
“Sleep? Jesus Dean, you’re gonna crash and burn soon if you’re not careful. Go home dude, get some rest. You look like shit.”
Dean takes Sam’s advice and makes his way home but he knows he can’t rest. Not until he has the proof he needs. And he knows that it means going straight into the lion’s den.
Series tags: @wegoddessofhell​​ / @foxyjwls007​​ / @flamencodiva​​ / @superlockedtimelord​​ / @lupine-princess​​ / @letsdisneythings​​ / @x-waywardaf-x​​ / @fandom-princess-forevermore​​ / @delicatefirespyplaid​​ / @becs-bunker​​ / @vader-kai​​ / @shypyroqueen​​ / @littlemiddlefoxbabe​​ / @kricketc28​​ / @wonderstruckbyfandoms​​ / @kawaiirepublic​​ / @facadeformyrealblog / @mayaslifeinabox​​​ / @socalgem1124​​​ / @inquisitor-selvala​​​ / @crashlyrose​​​ / @donnaintx​​​ / @squirrelnotsam​​​ / @chamberofsloths​​​ / @daughterofthenight117​​​ / @deanmonandnegansbitch​​​ / @girl-with-a-fandom-fettish​​​ / @the-minus-four​​​ / @i-am-a-mes​​​ / @pisces-cutie​​​ / @markofdean79​​​ / @princessmisery666​​​ / @supernotnaturalcas​​​ / @baasooreexiiaa​​​ / @multi-fandom-fanfiction​​​ / @heythereimhaylz​​​ / @footballffbarbiex​​​ / @eggingamazinglove​​​ / @aeo10fan​​​ / @adoptdontshoppets​​​ / @shylittlewolf​​​ / @spnfamily-j2​​​ / @sister-winchesters99​​​ / @wecantgiggleitsafandom​​​ / @keymology​​​ / @linki-locks11​​​ / @kyjey​​​ / @stoneyggirl​​​ / @akshi8278​​​ / @destielhoneybee​​​
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paodequeijofeliz-blog · a year ago
Let me tell you a good story
Bloodbound Fanfiction (characters and main story belongs to Pixelberry Studios).
Pairing: Kamilah Sayeed and MC (Annie)
Information:  this takes place after Bloodbound 3, here I’m recreating how Kamilah and MC would meet if she had never gone to Raines Corporation right away.
Summary: Thirty years after meeting Annie for the first time, Kamilah is now a wife and a mother. During a regular family dinner, she decides to tell her daughter and their new son-in-law the story of how she fell in love with Annie after an unusual meeting through the hallways of NYU.
Warnings: none.
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 5
Let me tell you a good story - Part 4
March 2nd, 2048.
           “Do not laugh”. – Anna pointed a finger at Drake. – “I was still confused.”
           “Not laughing, I swear. It is completely reasonable that you thought she worked for Ms. Sayeed.” He nervously took a long gulp of soda.
           Kamilah was taping her fingers on the table, a sweet melody playing in her head. Nothing could disturb her peaceful life anymore. She was sitting by a beautiful wife, someone who still held her heart. In front of them, there was the most intelligent and sweet child in the world, named after Kamilah’s brother Lysimachus. Even Drake, the goofy human, was a delight company. He was the perfect balance for Lysia’s seriousness.
           “Are you ok?” Annie’s touch woke her up.
           “I’m perfect. Why don’t you go fetch the dessert while I continue for a while? I left a surprise for you in the microwave.”
           Anna jumped into the kitchen with impressionable speed. If there was one thing she loved, that was Kamilah’s volcano chocolate cake, a masterpiece perfected over years and years of repeatedly baking it.
           “Child.” Both Lysia and Kamilah said at the same time when they saw Annie’s reaction.
           “You know, it creeps me out when you two do that.” Drake scratched his arm, having goosebumps.
           “You should see when they fight!!” Anna yelled from the kitchen. “It’s like watching a couple of clones!”
           They were interrupted by someone opening the door. The flash of a sparkle on Lysia’s face told Kamilah who the person was faster than anything else. The human girl opened the biggest smile she could, but remained sat on the chair, not even losing her posture.
           “Uncle Adrian!”
           “Hi, sweetie. I’m sorry to be late, there was an emergency to solve.” He placed a soft kiss on Lysia’s forehead before shaking Drake’s hands and smiling at Kamilah. “Am I interrupting?”
           “Not at all. We were talking about the past. Actually, little brother, you arrived at the perfect moment. Now you can help me remember this part of the story.”
           “Which story?”
           “Ti storu uf ru we fil in luv.” Anna came back carrying the cake, a big piece of it already missing. Her face had chocolate all over the mouth, nose, and chin.
           Kamilah sighed. At this point, there was no need for translation anymore. Adrian only laughed and carried on. “The story of how you two fell in love? Oh, boy. Rough times. You think Kamilah is a tense person? Should’ve seen her realizing her feelings for Annie. I thought New York wouldn’t survive it.”
           “Adrian, why don’t you continue for us? We were just getting to the part you entered the story.” The vampire queen said over the table while cleaning Annie’s face with a napkin. “And you, behave. The last time you ate so much chocolate, you cried for the entire night with a stomach-ache.”
           “Yu crid the whole niti withy stumachache, bla bla bla” she mocked her wife, taking another big bite of dessert. Kamilah solemnly ignored this part.  
           “Ok, ok. Let’s see… So, after that dinner and the job proposition, Kamilah wanted to either kill or kiss Annie, it was still unclear.”
           “Hmm, both.” Answered Kamilah, watching her wife out of the corner of the eye.
 August 29th, 2018
           The sky was already dark.
           The sky is always dark when Kamilah is looking through the window. The same old dark sky she had seen for years. But, tonight, something feels different. The sight that usually calms her down, the peaceful shade of black marked by the city lights, it was suddenly not enough. There was an irritation growing inside her chest, heavy and dangerous like a bomb ready to explode. The reason of it was worse than the feeling itself. She had felt anger many times before, with better motives. Right now, Kamilah knew deep down it was stupid to be so bothered by something that small. Finally, not being able to stand her own company anymore, her fingers called the same number it always does at moments like this.
           “Hey.” Adrian’s voice surged on the other side of the line.
           “Why hasn’t she given us an answer yet?”
           “What? Who?”
           Kamilah sighed. She was so tired. Angry. Frustrated. “Why hasn’t that mewling tiny stupid woman answered our business proposal? It has been a week, Adrian. There’s a limit for my patience. I don’t have time for this.”
           “Hm, you’re mad.” He just acknowledged it, his voice a little surprised. “I didn’t know this matter to be so urgent. In fact, I remember vividly that you were the one saying not to rush things when I suggested hiring a historian. She must have given you quite the impression to make you so eager to close the deal.”
           She snorted, and Adrian was sure her eyes rolled as well. “It’s not about her. It could be anyone. I just want to put things in motion.”
           “Right.” He didn’t buy it. “Well, my friend, then I’m going to tell you the options we have, since you clearly won’t quiet down until something is done.”
           Kamilah fixed her posture immediately, ready to jump into a plan.
           “Fist: you can call one of the historians on the list I sent to you last month. Call all the fifteen options, if it suits better. They were all graduated in high profile universities and sustain the best curriculums in the country.” Adrian gave it a second of silence, and since she didn’t make a sound, he continued. “Second: throw away the idea of working with one of them and just make a deal with one of us. I don’t know any of our group who is a historian, but most of them know a lot about the past and maybe will even understand the mission better than an outsider.”
           Silence again. And then, the distant sound of Kamilah’s high heels hitting the floor, like she was impatiently trembling her leg. Adrian knew that sign. It meant none of the options were good enough for her. “Or… Third: if you do believe she’s worth it, you can always go over there and demand an answer.”
           Her eyes widened.  
           “Can I do that?”
           “Sure.” He laughed. “As long as you don’t hurt, yell or kill the poor woman.”
           That was it. The solution. She wanted the mission to start already, and if Kamilah wanted anything, no one could stop her from getting it. Much less a professor who hadn’t done the courtesy of giving a simple answer. After a couple minutes, the Egyptian found Anna’s address on the university website and head there without thinking twice. In a blink, she was already ringing the intercom, but it seemed to not be working.
           “Kamilah?” Annie was dangerously leaning on the window. “What are you doing here?”
           “We need to talk. Open the door.”
           The grumpy and ordering tone made Anna frown, but she didn’t argue. From the street, the Egyptian could hear her mumbling things in Portuguese while getting down the stairs. Even though Kamilah couldn’t understand it, she was sure it was cursing. Without saying a word to each other, they climbed the stairs to the third floor. Annie’s place was thoroughly clean and covered with the pleasant scent of vanilla. A mess of books and papers had taken over the living room, where a dining table was set: a dish with a weird sandwich, a glass of cheap wine and an opened notebook. It looked like she was working late.
           “Take a sit. Do you want to drink something? I’ve got wine, rum, whisky, gin, coffee… Water.” The sweet tone on her voice disarmed Kamilah for just a second. The professor seemed extremely tired, but even like this, she wasn’t able to be rude.
           “No, I… I’m fine. Thank you.”
           “What happened?”
           Kamilah’s arms crossed over her breasts. That confused look on Annie’s face was genuine. How could she not know why Kamilah was there? That was the last drop. It unlocked all the irritation that had been burning on the Egyptian’s chest for days. “Did you hit your head recently? Or do you suffer from diseases such as Alzheimer?”
           “Wh…What? I… No…”
           “Why the hell do you think I am here, Ms. Mali? Do you believe I am a woman who has the time to sit around waiting for you to make a simple decision? To answer a yes or no question? Look at me. Do not stare at the floor. Raise your eyes.” Kamilah approached her with such a fast movement, Annie barely saw it happening. In a second, she was standing before her, lifting the professor’s chin to make their eyes meet. “It is not polite to just disappear once a business proposal is showed to you. I do not tolerate this kind of behaviour. If you’re too much of a child yet, then maybe we were wrong to approach you in the first place.”
           Anna didn’t stop her. Didn’t move either. Kamilah saw something growing on the professor’s face, some sort of weakness she wasn’t expecting to find. Her expression was flickering between insecurity and sadness. Finally, an answer came.
           “I can’t stay.” A whisper. The palpable shame in her tone. “I’m leaving.”
            “What do you mean by that?”
           “I mean… I got fired. I’m leaving the country. I’m sorry.” She shrunk her shoulders. Somehow, the woman was getting smaller. More fragile. “It happened on Saturday morning, right after that dinner. I know it’s no excuse and should’ve called you sooner. I’m really sorry. I just thought that now that I’m no longer related to the NYU, my name and reputation wouldn’t be of any value to you. I guess… I was embarrassed to let you know and go through the whole ‘well, then we don’t want you anymore’ conversation. Either way, I am sorry. For not answering, for making you come here, for everything.”
           Kamilah was not at all prepared for this. She went from almost tearing the professor’s throat opened to drowning inside her sorrow and beautiful features. Without much thinking, the Egyptian brushed some hair behind Annie’s ears in a soft movement.
           “Are you leaving the country because of visa issues?”
           “Yes. Not the main reason though… Even if they granted me a permanent visa, I don’t have money to stay. I was a recent teacher at NYU, my payment wasn’t that high and most of it went to cover the costs of the postdoctoral course. Now I’m trying to finish some papers quickly and I still need to buy the plane tickets.”
           “I don’t care about NYU.”
           Annie’s eyes came back to Kamilah only to find an unreadable face. “What?”
           “It’s not relevant if you’re related or not to a University. That doesn’t change my stand.”
           “We still want you.”
           The professor was speechless, staring in disbelief.
           “Answer me, Annie. Will you accept the proposal?”
           Kamilah’s arms uncrossed and her hands went to rest on the hips. She saw a thousand of emotions running through the professor’s eyes in a second.
          “What about my visa?”
         “Not a problem I can’t solve. As for the money part… Adrian will discuss this with you. He’s responsible for the bureaucracies. But I can guarantee, regardless of how the conversation goes, it’s going to be way more than what NYU was paying. So, there won’t remain any obstacles forcing you to leave.”
         Anna smiled. Not because of the money. She just noticed that Kamilah had come in person not to fight, but to persuade her to say yes. That made her wonder what the Egyptian’s thoughts were right now. “I did answer, you know. When I got home, after dinner.”
       She pointed at the computer on the desk. “It’s in the draft emails part. I was going to send it on Monday morning.”
       Kamilah arched one eyebrow. “And what was the answer?”
       Instead of giving her the pleasure to hear it, Annie decided to contour the table and send the draft email that was waiting there all along. Inside Kamilah’s pocket, her cell phone immediately buzzed. She gave it a quick glance before smiling and walking towards the door.
        “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Ms. Mali. Don’t be late.”
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