#it's not the roaring twenties... it's the suffering twenties
Sun — Kaz Brekker
Resume: Feelings are destabilizing things.
A/N: This story is not set in the books of Six Crows, I also changed the age of the characters to twenty-something because the idea of writing something about a child makes me uncomfortable. All my stories, of any characters, are with them being of up age. Just like many fanfics out there in the teen series.
English is not my first language, so I so sorry if have a mistake.
Couple: Kaz Brekker/ Fem!Reader.
Warnings: Mention of fight, swearing, mention of post-traumatic stress, angst, mention of kiss, mention of desire, desire, mention of death, but so fucking fluff.
Word count: 3k.
Requests are open. Love you ❤️
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There were few things in life that he was absolutely sure of. Things that were immutable, solid, unshakable. That even the strongest of winds would not be able to shake the structure. A life built on the basis of an equation of chaos, suffering, death and despair generated a result where it was necessary to be sure of something. And one of those certainties was the ability of himself, of his instincts, of his intelligence, the notion that he himself was a person capable of resolving any type of situation with iron fists. The second was the certainty of the loyalty of his crows, of the two people who, he knew, would never turn their backs on him.
And the third... the third was that when Kaz Brekker first laid eyes on you, he was sure that you would divide his life between a before and an after.
It was a lepid, ferocious feeling that swept the body of The Bastard of the Barrel from the top of his head to the tip of his polished boots. The heat immediately gave way to a cold sweat, a shiver as if receiving a midnight sigh at the back of the neck. There was a quick sensation of burning in the heat of an icy fire, but his composure did not flinch a single millimeter. He had learned to keep it in all situations, trained with steel fists.
Kaz looked at you deeply, from the top of your hair to the tip of your feet, trying to find answers as to why you had triggered such disturbing sensations with a simple and ridiculous exchange of looks. But he found no answers. He found neither after a day, nor after a week, damn it, he did not find nor after a month!
You had joined the infamous trio because they needed a fighting expert, someone who could defeat a good number of men on her own without needing backup, which would make their bigger and more complex robberies much easier. And when they found you, a girl who had been the subject for a experiment to create super soldiers, your ability to fight, physical endurance, and your sense of loyalty, made you perfect for the job.
But none of that explained why, whenever the stormy blue eyes met yours, he felt like he was ricochet by living eels. It was exasperating, frustrating on so many levels that it was difficult to put into words. Kaz could not expose this misfortune to his two closest people, first because his pride in admitting a disturbance in his subtly balanced world was too great, and second that... even if he considered said that, he would not know how to name those feelings for express what he were feeling.
How would Jesper and Inej understand something that even he did not understand?
Kaz Brekker had a firm and calm demeanor, an implacably logical mind and a way of narrowing his eyes that ensured that his orders were carried out with great efficiency, all according to the moment he wished. Then, just as he did to get rid of any disturbance, he buried those sensations so deeply until, like his overwhelming pains and traumas, they stopped tormenting him.
He thought that, like his flawless and cunning plans, it would have the same effect. That his nerves could get back to normal and he wouldn't have to deal with the feeling that feel hiself whit cold and hot at the same time whenever he laid eyes on you.
But, if it was true that the practice makes perfect, this rule has not been applied in this situation.
The deeper he buried those beginnings of thats sensations, more of them began to flourish, roaring harder, as a constant reminder that he was not that rock of stoicity and absence of feelings that he liked to think he was. It seemed that, just as light existed to exorcise the darkness, you existed to show that he still had a beating heart. Hot blood still coursing through the veins.
It has not helped anything in his cause that, over time, Inej and Jesper have become attache to you. Jesper even more. But if Kaz put aside his frustration and irritation for a second, he would know that he couldn't to blame them. In fact, there was no way to blame every person who approached you, delighted.
Jesper once described you as "the soul of the party", and Inej said that you had fire in your soul. Kaz would not have been able to think of better definitions to put into words what you were. There was thing about the way you laughed, the way you talked, the way your tilting your head and your so easy smile. There was a thing about you. That transformed you into the solar system and people orbited in your gravity like planets.
You had a way with people, Kaz really thought it was a gift, a talent. You were always laughing, smiling, playing with people and making them so comfortable in your presence that, once, Kaz saw a trader, who are in a the middle of a refused to close a contract with Kaz, just melt and give up because of the smile you gave to him.
Nothing from you has been forced, malicious, shrewd or cunning. You really smiled, you really laughed, as if you were...happy. Purely happy. And, in a second of insanity, Kaz wondered if that happiness was possible. If it was possible for him to feel something like this.
But, just as Brekker took his soul close from you as much as he could to avoid any emotion, Jesper did the exact opposite. Very quickly, just like Kaz and Inej are, the two of you became a pair of inseparable friends. Were always together.
Perhaps it was because you two were overwhelmingly alike: Always in the eye of danger, addicted to adrenaline, purely outgoing and liked a good fun. Or maybe it was because, like everyone around you, Jesper felt drawn closer to your warm, joyful and comforting aura.
But whatever it was, the timbre of your laughter followed by Jesper's became a sound as natural as the whistling of the wind. And it didn't take long for you two to become partners in thefts and plans.
However, it didn't take long too for the reactions Kaz had about the influence of your presence to become...louder.
If Kaz Brekker closed his eyes and concentrated for a moment, he could still remember and feel that night perfectly as if it were yesterday:
The plan was succinct: They would have to go through guards, high walls and locks to enter a merchant's residence, open the safe, pick up the jewels and leave. Twenty minutes was the time limit to complete that sequence.
Everyone was assigned to one thing: Kaz would turn off a fabricated security system from a Grisha, Inej would sneak into the shadows to the safe and pick up the jewels, and Jesper and you would be responsible for dealing with the various guards. Everyone would have to meet in the corridor that led to the back exit.
Kaz did not think that that so ridiculous and simple plan it could go wrong. Or that someone could make a slip. To him, it seemed as easy as sneaking into a yacht boat. However, there he was, next to Inej who carried the jewelery bag in her hand, both of them standing in that dimly lit corridor, waiting for you and Jesper to appear.
"It's been three minutes!" Inej pointed, as if Kaz didn't already know that.
Her intonation was concerned, apprehensive, with a certain fear. Kaz thought about saying something, but as soon as his mouth opened to say anything, he heard...
Steps. Hurried steps of two people. No, actually, the two people were running.
Suddenly, you and Jesper burst into the corridor, running as if their lives depended on it. Inej and Kaz would have been worried if it weren't for the bastard and peraltas smiles that stretched across faces of you two, stretching their cheeks.
Then Kaz noticed the reason for the delay. You two carried a giant picture under your left arms. Jesper carried the front end and you the back end, like two children who made a mischief and was running from their mother. True accomplices.
Kaz's jaw opened, his eyes widened slightly and roamed the frame with agitated iris, while Inej was totally baffled.
"C'mon, C'mon!" You exclaimed with laughter in your voice, Jesper and you never stopped running.
As soon all left and took shelter in the safety and peace of the Crow Club closed in that night, Jesper and you fell on the couch, laughing and panting.
"What was that?!” But Kaz was exasperated "Do you both know how much risked the plan?!"
"It was only three minutes, Boss." Jesper defended himself.
"It..." That's when Kaz looked at the painting responsible for all the commotion and fuss.
It was a painting, a landscape by Ravka. The fold. In oil on parchment. A DeKappel. That was worth at least ten thousand Kruges.
“You commented that you needed a new painting for your office.” Your voice took Kaz out of the admiration on the painting, and Jesper and Inej looked at you as if they had discovered that now too.
Jesper and Inej thought it was just for the money...
Kaz looked up into your eyes, and the cold, warm shiver spreading across his chest and snaking to his bones. As it always did the moment yours eyes meeting.
He remembered commenting in passing, in a very vague and obtuse way, that he wanted a new painting in the office. Until that moment, Brekker didn't think you paying attention to what he had to say. Not when it wasn't about a job or plan.
But there you were, proving that you had heard. And that you cared.
His breath caught for a second, the icy chill turned to something warmer, like the first sparks of fire in a fireplace. The first flames that precede the fire.
After that, Kaz began to pay more attention, unconsciously, to what you said. And, consequently, he started paying more attention to you. It had been gradual, sneaky as a snake, imperceptible so he wouldn't be able to root it out. As if the universe, destiny or divines, introduced, grain by grain, a small summer in a landscape frozen by winter.
It all started with your comment about liking it sweeter than salty, that dry wine left you with a headache and that you preferred rum. He evolved to notice how your tone of voice got sweeter when you talked to children or animals, and more serious when it came to the safety of the three crows. And suddenly, as if Kaz already knew this as he knew the sky was blue, he knew how to say how your eyes sparkled when you felt the warmth of the sun on your skin.
In that second, looking at you from the other side of the agitated club that turned into a celebration with dance and music, the world became suspended for a moment. The music became just an echoing, blurry noise, the images turned to slow motion and the air seemed to change in pitch. You, who laughed and speen round in Jesper's arms amid so many people who did the same thing, were the only one who starred as the main attraction.
In that minute, when the breath was slow and lyrical, and the air had a beauty tone, Kaz's eyes caught the exact moment when a beam of sunlight hit your face, shining on your skin as if you were one pirate tropical treasure. In a burst, a second of insanity, like a violin string that burst at the apice of the song, he felt that there was nothing else in the world worth seeing that was not you.
It was a scary, terrifying discovery. Something that made him freeze from head to toe, and all the speed in the world came back so fast that Kaz felt dizzy. He pressed his covered hand to the crow's beak of his cane, as if he needed a reminder of reality. Something that would wake him up from those hellish sensations.
The months passed after that fateful afternoon. Kaz avoided staying close to you any longer than necessary and would strongly and vigorously scold every change of tone within himself whenever he saw you.
He didn't know what those sensations meant, but he also didn't want to find out. He liked challenges and responsibilities, but being around you was proving to be more than he could take. Your presence ignited him in a cold and warm fire, promising a future full of unfulfilled infinite wills. From pain, impotence and doomed to failure. Any feeling for you would be more of a punishment than anything else. The only solution was to get it out of your head.
Of course, he had been trying to do just that since he met you.
But again, the universe did not seem to want to give up from he. Not so easily.
Kaz had to take you along to make a deal with a merchant who was more impassable than a rock. Kaz had tried to negotiate with him before (since he couldn't take the strength or rob what he wanted) and all his efforts were in vain. So, he appealed for the last weapon. The person who always had a natural gift whit other people and always had a real smile that made anybody feel like... as if happiness really existed.
"I'm glad it's hot" You commented, while walking next to Kaz "I don’t like the cold."
How did he know that you would say just that? That was so you. Warm, sweet and cozy things were the embodiment of what you were. It was logical that you preferred the heat. So different from him that, instead of you, enjoyed the cold. Liked the rains and storms, relaxed with the moonlight and felt less tense with the midnight winter breeze.
Kaz understood your personality as he understood the very lines of his hands. You were wild, bordering on reckless, you acted before thinking and you always loved anything that aroused adrenaline. You ran like no one else, jumped from one horse's cell to another, decided to catch the largest number of targets just because you wanted the thrill of fighting five against one. Anything calm, serene and peaceful stirred your restless personality. And Kaz knew exactly your level of restlessness from the way your leg was constantly jumping when you had to sit still for more than a few minutes.
You were a free spirit, forged in the heart of the sun and in the heat of summer. While he was limited by his own body and built in the heart of winter and frozen by the cold of the sea. Anything between you was doomed to fail even before you two met. Kaz Brekker knew this very well.
“He is late.” You grunted, your leg was already starting to jumping when you two spent a measly ten minutes waiting for the man.
You looked back and seemed to find it interesting, because Kaz saw your eyes shine.
"Let's go there?" You pointed, and Kaz had to turn around to see that you were referring to a coffee shop.
Crowded with sweets in the window for a change. Why was he not surprised?
“No.” He turned forward again, both hands on the cane.
"So I go over there and come back quickly."
“Y/n" he just said in a warning tone, giving you a scolding look.
You mumbled something he didn't identify, turned around again and did your best to be quiet. Five minutes passed before that merchant arrived, and Kaz can perfectly follow the change in his posture, change in the man eyes when you greeted him with that summer voice and sunny smile.
It was so vibrant, so vivid that, for a second, Kaz found himself slightly swayed by all the brilliance you emanated. Pulled towards your like an animal needing the warmth of the sun.
It didn't take much for the man to sign and agree with everything Kaz said and imposed. In fact, he suspected that if he had asked him to give him his bank password, the man would have been happy to do so.
"Can we go in the coffee shop now?” You commented as soon as the man left, still turning around to look at you as much as possible.
Kaz restrained the glaring urge to roll his eyes, but he had just landed a very lucrative business just and exclusively because you agreed to help. Even though you didn't gain anything from it. So, if he had to go with you to a goddamn coffee shop so he wouldn't feel like a petty profiteer, he would go to the goddamn coffee shop.
Kaz just walked towards the place, and the wide, summery smile you gave may have he missed a few heartbeats.
Once inside the damn store, you scanned the menu that hung on the wall.
“I never took this one.” You commented, pointing to what appeared to be a very sweet mix of drink. Something that involved ice cream and chocolate with something else.
It was not the kind of comment that had an answer, and Kaz was still engaged in the mission to stay away from you. But he thought that statement was just the reason why you wouldn't order that drink. But, just as you always threw any worldview Kaz had in the latrine, you asked for just that. His eyes were bloodshot with astonishment.
“Why are you going to order something you don't know if you like it?” He asked as soon as you got the drink and paid for it.
"How am I supposed to know if something is good if I never try it?” You said casually, both of you going out of the store. “Wanna try out?”
You held out for he the plastic cup that was covered by a lid that had a hole in the middle, where a fat, transparent straw came out. Kaz looked at you as if you had created a second head.
“Come on, you'll never know if you like it if you don't taste it.” The two of you stopped, you still holding the glass gently towards his mouth.
“No.” Kaz shook his head.
“Come ooon.” You insisted, a petulant and amusing smile plastered on your face.
You shook the glass, holding it out once more. This time, Kaz gave you a slightly annoyed look.
"You're not going to stop insisting until I take this thing, are you?"
You laughed, with a triumphant and friendly smile “I'm glad you know me so well”
Kaz rolled his eyes, snatching the glass from your hand and bringing the hellish straw to his mouth. Hell, he felt so stupid pulling that stupid drink through that straw. As soon as the sweet liquid invaded his tongue, an explosion of flavors flooded his palate, causing him to remain unresponsive for a moment.
"You liked it!" But just as he unveiled all of your lookes, you knew how to unveil all of his.
Kaz handed you the glass. “Absurdly sweet."
"You liked that I know."
You joked and, for a second, you had aroused he a desire to smile. A succinct curve in lips. With your sunny smiles and summer expressions, you looked like you were out of an enchanted forest inhabited by mystical creatures. Sun nymphs. Maybe Kaz would even have let himself go lightly if, when you took the glass back, your lips had not wrapped around the tip of the straw.
Exactly where his mouth was a second ago.
He pulse quickened so fast that it made the blood burn in his veins. It was impossible not to look down at delicate mouth, the subtle but destabilizing curvature in the center of your lower lip. Suddenly, he was out of breath, his body numb and his heart stopped beating for a second before accelerating to an alarming level.
Everything became hot, stuffy. The world spun away, out of focus, out of existence, leading he on a waltz unlike anything Kaz had ever felt before.
Kaz Brekker was the Bastard of the Barrel. Dirty hands and scammer. Someone trapped by his own body and traumas, unable to allow himself to enjoy human contact. But, hell, he was still a man. And in that moment, in that insane moment, he wanted to pretend, even for a few seconds, that what he wanted was within his reach.
Kaz thought he understood the desire: an attraction. He thought he knew what lust was: a wish that people felt. He had seen countless examples on his bar counter, drunk and chattering about what it was like to want a woman, to long for her. He thought he understood.
And he found that he didn't understand anything.
The desire was a hot and feverish whirlwind that shivered he from head to toe, with dizzying speed, and dragged everything towards perdition, below any intellect, any rationality. Rationally, he shouldn't have thought you were even more beautiful. But he did. He shouldn't feel his breath catch, but he did.
He felt as if he were walking on a narrow suspended board. One misstep and it would be the end of it. Hiding his disturbing thoughts, Kaz looked away from you.
He was ruined for the rest of his life.
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31 and team RWBY?
“How do we keep getting into these situations?” Blake asks groggily.
“Eleven years of friendship, and I still don’t know.” Weiss replies flatly, rolling her eyes skyward. Or rather, towards the ground.
She's got blood rushing to her head, the ropes tying her to Blake's body digging into the tops of her shoulders. They're swaying upside down in a cavern echoing with water droplets. Lichen crawls over the slick walls, sunlight streaking through a gap in the rock.
A group of mercenaries prowl around beneath them, twenty feet from their heads. Not the White Fang - the Fang are long gone. Either scattered or absorbed under the command of Blake's father. No, Weiss has no idea who these clowns are, and she's certain they don't know who they've captured. If they did, maybe they'd be less inclined to leave them unsupervised.
Blake's ears flick against the back of Weiss' head as she wakes, a low groan filtering under her breath.
"Fuck, I feel like I headbutted a boarbatusk," Blake grunts, shifting her shoulders.
Weiss snorts, commenting quietly, "A boarbatusk would've been softer."
"We were shopping in Mistral's marketplace and someone thought we looked expensive, is my best guess. My memory is, admittedly, a little fuzzy."
"Points to them for being right I suppose."
Weiss knocks the back of her head into Blake's head, growling, "You always choose the worst times for your jokes, you know that?"
Blake huffs a laugh that ripples through the ropes holding them. "Consequences of association."
"Yang is a plague of horrible jokes and timing. I'm ashamed you've fallen into her ilk."
Blake's reply is all butter and satisfaction. "I'm not."
Weiss fakes a gag, wiggling in their binds on a suffering groan. "Spare me. Please."
"You always run away when I try to talk to you about this shit. I might as well take the opportunity to torture you, since we're just hanging."
Weiss' struggling intensifies.
"Blake Belladonna I will personally shove wet moss into your 'fun' drawer if you speak another word!"
Blake's laughter grows loud enough to echo. "Priss. You'd have a 'fun' drawer too if you ever decided to live a little."
"You shut your mouth!" Weiss says in a strangled shriek. She angles her chin up, calling down to the mercenaries stopped beneath them and staring. "Guard, I need a separate rope to dangle from. She's driving me insane."
The mercenaries give her a flat look that rapidly changes into alarm as an explosion rocks the entire cave. Weiss and Blake swing precariously close to a wall with a collective yelp.
"WHERE THE FUCK IS MY GIRLFRIEND!" Comes a dark roar cracking off the cavern walls.
Weiss tilts her head back to stare at a corner of the cave with mercenaries bolting from it as if their lives were at stake. Weiss can only think of how heavy her forehead feels with the weight of the blood in her body.
Blake hums behind her, a smile in her voice. "Oh, I love it when she's protective."
"Is that why you haven't gotten out of these toddler knots yet?" Weiss snarks with a huff.
She yelps, flinching away as much as she can from a playful prod in her ribs. She attempts to shoot a sour glare over her shoulder but her neck doesn't bend that far, hissing, "You are a menace!"
Blake just laughs, and the cave rocks again. They sway to the left this time, their auras fluctuating as Blake takes the brunt of their swing into the wall. Weiss spots a tornado of red and petals bursting through the mercenaries, followed by a streak of gold fire.
Within moments the entire cavern is filled with groaning bodies. Ruby appears right below them, her silver eyes turned skyward to them. She sets the knife of Crescent Rose into the rock, tilting her head in a way that shifts her entire windswept fauxhawk to one side.
"Are you guys okay?" She calls, her other hand set on her hip.
The ropes go slack from Weiss' side before she can respond. She shrieks as her body slips through the ropes, plummeting only a few feet before she throws a glyph out to catch herself. She lands on the platform of runes with a whump, Blake’s laughter coming from above her.
Weiss sits up, raking her shoulder length locks out of her face with indignation. She points to Blake dangling from the rope they were tied with, her eyes narrowed. “I’m going to put salt in your tea for the next year.”
“You would never, you love our tea times too much,” Blake grins. Black ribbons of her hair come loose from the small bun between her ears. A large scar sits across her flat nose, crinkling in the free smile she gives.
There’s a flutter of cloth by Weiss’ ear and her body shifts to the right automatically. Ruby flops down onto the glyph beside Weiss, red petals shedding from her hair and clothes. She bumps Weiss’ shoulder with a bright grin, only slightly breathless. “Did you let yourselves get caught again?”
Weiss huffs, crossing her arms as she watches Yang make her way over to them. “Hardly. They took us by surprise.”
Yang calls to them, the last of the flames evaporating from her hair. “What were you two doing? Must’ve been important.”
Weiss stiffens, her eyes widening. She starts patting her clothes frantically. “Wait -”
Blake drops down to them, landing on the crowded glyph just between Weiss’ legs.
“Yang, catch.” She clasps her hand to Weiss’ and winks, abruptly falling backwards off the edge.
Ruby gives out a delighted laugh at the same time as her sister, Yang’s hair erupting in flames once more as she leaps. Blake is caught up in Yang’s arms halfway down, the pair landing and nearly stumbling on an unconscious mercenary. Weiss watches them laugh at each other and kiss between the gaps of her semblance, her heartbeat settling at the familiar weight in her hand.
Until she feels a bump at her shoulder. Curious silver eyes peer at her hand, her lips pursed in a pout. “So what’d you get?”
Weiss bites at her lip, feeling the metal in her palm as it scrapes over her callouses.
She pockets it, smiling at her best friend and partner disarmingly. “Maybe later.”
Ruby’s eyes widen at the playful glint in her eyes, heartbeats before the glyph disappears beneath them. They both dissolve into pink and white petals, an echo of Weiss’ laugh left to clatter off the walls.
Some things take time to decide, Weiss knows. But at least there is longevity in friendships like theirs.
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Hear me out... Roceit beauty and the beast
What a shame, they cluck over Janus. He was so handsome.
And he was, for a time, at least. Janus Épine, the most handsome man in the village.
A liar, sure, and a thief, not that anyone could ever pin their missing coins on him. Even if his stunning looks couldn’t have gotten him out of trouble, that silver tongue could, crooning sweet reassurances and accidentally! oh, I’m so sorry, mon cheri prodding at weaknesses.
He never was caught for anything. After a while, they stopped accusing him. Everyone knew he was doing... favors, for the constables, no matter how much he protested, voice unusually rough and face enflamed. It was just his nature.
What a shame, they mourn over Janus. He was so happy.
And he was, sometimes, at least – when he was buried in another book, of dashing rogues and high-stakes adventure, and the sort of love that didn’t exist, expect for between aged-yellow pages. Not in this tiny village, where girls put their hands on his arms possessively, and men watched him far too closely when he walked away, hands clenched but head held high.
It was a fleeting sort of happiness, when he took from them – coins and gold and silver. Payment, he thought. Payment for each voice that jeered after him, asking about the dowry, payment for each step that took them too close, payment for gazes that took in his dark skin and golden eyes and purred words like exotic, like he was to be just another pet in a rich man’s menagerie.
What a shame, they shake their heads. He was too greedy.
And that is the way they like to tell it, in the village Janus once lived. How the most handsome man in their village, lovable scoundrel that he was, charmed each and every person in his path out of their senses and money, then moved onto the next one, tossing his old lovers away like used tissue. They like to talk about how he ran out. About how he tossed his head and rode off on a fine steed into the woods, in search of more hearts to break, only to come across an enchanted castle. Only to become a prisoner.
If you asked him, which no one bothered to do, he was running into the woods, thorns whipping at his skin and rain matting his hair. The village’s most beloved son was darkening Janus’ door again. Remy didn’t like being told no.
He collapsed in front of a fire that lit itself and asked, quietly, for sanctuary.
What a shame, they mutter, he was understood.
The prince of the castle is a large, furred beast, with great gleaming horns and claws the length of Janus’ fingers. When he sees Janus for the first time, he’s so startled he trips over his cape and goes tumbling down a flight of stairs.
He sulks in his room for a day after that, mourning his one chance in almost three decades to make a dramatic entrance.
Janus finds him at what was once a piano, scuffed and gouged with marks. The beast is hunched over it, claws slowly and painfully tapping out a melody he half-recognizes.
I used to play, the beast says. I miss music.
Cautiously, Janus sits on the bench next to him. The beast takes up over half of it, but the castle is cold, and his fur is soft and warm. Well then, he says. I suppose you’ll have to teach me.
After months of tutelage, Roman watches, something like reverence in his eyes, as Janus plucks melodies out of the air, hangs them there, shimmering, and he begins to sing.
What a shame, they berate, he was trusted.
The beast shows him the enchanted rose almost half a year in. There’s no preamble, no show, just a quiet request for Janus to stop as the human is reading aloud one of the scripts Roman is so fond of.
It’s a beautiful thing, red as blood, with thirty something petals scattered around the base. Janus watches as another delicately falls.
I was an arrogant child, Roman says.
I can’t imagine, Janus drawls, and the beast laughs his strange growling joy.
I insulted a passing witch. I refused her plea for sanctuary, because her appearance frightened me, and I...
His voice grows thick, and Janus leans into his side.
What happens, Janus asks, when the curse is broken?
Freedom, she told me, Roman recounts. Freedom.
What a shame, they huff, he was treasured.
Do you not think, Janus asks, once, curled into the warmth of his beast’s side, that I am beautiful?
The beast laughs, and touches his face with one gentle claw.
In face of your clever tongue and biting wit and silver voice, Roman says, what need have I for beauty?
Janus expects him to say it, in times like this. Waits with baited breath for that confirmation that this fantasy growing like so many roses in his mind is shared, but it never comes.
Roman knows that a beast doesn’t deserve a love like Janus.
What a shame, they grouse, he was wanted.
The hunting dog finds Janus tending to his garden – squash and celery for soup, roses to braid into fur and hair – and its owner is not far behind.
Janus? Remy strides forward, squeezing through the gates. Where have you been?
Roman, Janus calls, voice hoarse and desperate, Beast!
Roman roars out of the mansion, teeth long and claws bared. Remy runs.
The dog stays, and Janus names her Tige.
Roman laughs and congratulates himself on his beastly performance. Janus rolls his eyes fondly, smile wry, and can’t help but giggle over Remy’s expression.
You were magnificent, he says, indulgently, absolutely beastly.
Too magnificent, as it turns out. Too beastly.
When the rosy-fingered sunset loses its grip on the sky the next day, a small armada, with torches and pitchforks and knives, breaks down their front door.
They are screaming, mouths flecked with spittle, about a beast who stole away the most handsome man in their village, who took what was theirs.
Run, Janus begs him, Roman, please, hide.
But the beast stands firm. I won’t let them take you.
Roman manages to hold them off with claws and teeth and roars, until Remy slips behind him silently and slides a knife between his ribs.
Janus screams, and Remy takes him into his arms.
Shh, shh it’s alright. He can’t have you any more.
Janus claws away from the other man and staggers to Roman’s side, dropping to his knees. The beast’s breaths come shallowly.
Don’t cry, mon coeur, Roman rasps, gentle claw rising to his face, I love you too much to see you cry.
What a shame, they bemoan, he was loved.
Janus kisses his beast.
What a shame, they sob, he was human.
Janus staggers back as a wave of brilliant magic engulfs them. He makes to cry out for Roman, but stops as something his body shifts.
Scales slither over half his face. His nails elongate, teeth sharpen. His legs thicken and coil into a tail.
Behind him, the villagers cry out in fear.
What’s happening!? Roman cries, rushing to hold him. His fur hasn’t disappeared, but his hands soften, fingers nimble, and the skin of his face is bare. His wound is gone.
But Janus laughs, and marvels at his new talons.
No one who saw him would dare call him beautiful.
You said it yourself, he smiles, sharp. Freedom.
What a shame, they shudder, he was a monster.
He killed at least thirty men, the way they tell it, driven mad by captivity and twisted to the wicked bidding of his beastly lord. He was a force of nature, a lightning strike with venomous teeth and ripping, clawing talons.
In reality, of the twenty men that attacked Janus’ home, the worst injury suffered was a broken ankle from tripping over his tail, but Janus has never minded the lies that benefit him.
Remy has five pin-point scars on his cheeks, now, from when Janus took him by the jaw and showed him just how helpless someone could feel. He’s quieter, since then, taciturn. As time goes on, he finds he minds it less.
They never see Janus, or the beast he has become again.
What a shame, the villagers sigh. What a shame.
What a shame, Janus says, warm with amusement as he curls up with his husband. They don’t know a happy ending when they see one.
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bnha » a kick in the balls drabbles
warnings. cussing, crack, mentions of balls
companion piece. drabble version of the hcs
a/n. a lot of this was based on my own family 😭 anyways enjoy..
You mindlessly scrolled through Instagram as you waited for your glass to fill up with water, lifting your head to take it to the fridge as it dispensed some ice in.
You scoffed at this one woman’s post; it was so fake. Caught up in your Instagram feed, you didn’t look up as you walked down the hallway to your bedroom. As you rounded the corner to get into the bedroom, a scrunched face met your own and a loud snarling snort left the creature.
You shrieked, dropping your phone and your glass of water, your hands flying up to shield your face as your feet acted on their own, slamming themselves into the thing’s crotch. Did it even have a crotch??
Another loud sound could be heard as the creature dropped to its knees, now revealed as your boyfriend Katsuki as you turned on the light.
“What— what the fuck was that for?” He choked out, his voice barely above a pained whisper.
“You scared me, dumbass!” You scoffed again, walking into the bathroom to grab a towel, using your foot to wipe up the spill as you picked up the surprisingly unbroken glass.
You went into your bedroom, laughing at Instagram videos and whatnot until Katsuki burst into the room, demanding cuddles for his suffering.
“Keigo! Stop!” You screamed, your voice pained but still happy as his fingers attacked your sides ruthlessly. Your breathing was messed up, your limbs flailing about as he dug his fingers into your ribs. He recently added his feathers into the action, the long plumes tickling other parts of your body he couldn’t focus on.
“I – I can’t fucking—” Your voice was stuttered as you laugh-shrieked, your chest heaving as you tried to scramble away.
“I’m gonna pee myself, Keigo! Stop it—” Your boyfriend cut off your words with more tickles, his half smirk - half smile growing.
“Never!” His wings were fluttering as he watched you, the cerise feathers glossy in the light.
You were floundering uselessly under him, your legs and feet thrashing about in different directions. He was laughing too, your expressions and sounds hilariously cute.
“Keigo—” He laughed maniacally, his fingers pressing into that one secret spot on your side, the sensation driving you over your limit. You squirmed even more, your foot now colliding with his crotch.
Keigo’s fluttering wings had stiffened as he groaned in pain, dropping onto you, his fingers forgetting his mission at your sides, his feathers settling on the bed. He was on top of you, his body on your own, pretty much crushing you under his weight.
Well, at least he’d stopped tickling you.
“Those fuckin’ bills and receipts can kiss my ass,” You declared, your voice raspy from sleep. You were alone in the dark kitchen, no light at all. You had just woken up from a restless slumber to drink some milk to relax your body.
It was a known practice to drink warm milk to sleep. Would it really work?
You poured the white liquid into your glass, opening the microwave and setting it to thirty seconds as you placed the glass inside, closing the door. You capped the milk jug, placing it back into the fridge as you slumped against the counter, waiting.
The microwave beeped in no time, letting you take out the warmed glass. You took a sip, sighing as the warmth loosened your tight muscles. With the colored glass in hand, you began to walk out of the kitchen to slip into bed beside your boyfriend Tamaki.
Just when your blood pressure was slowing, a figure appeared right in front of you in the darkness. It let out a surprised sound, something like a gasp and a squeak. You on the other hand, mind groggy from sleep, immediately thought of the sticker on the blue car you saw today.
Not today, Satan!
Determination and fear fueled you as you screamed, gripping the glass tightly as you swung your foot into the demon’s groin, landing a perfect and square hit. The demon squawked and yelped at the same time, sounding a lot like a cat that got its tail closed in a door.
The sound echoed throughout the apartment, your eyes checking over your glass to make sure you didn’t spill it; not a drop had left the cup.
You were about to get Tamaki until you realized: demons don’t squawk.
The thing completely crumpled to the ground, falling onto its knees. It was practically doubled over, panting as pained sobs left its lips.
Shit. You had attacked the wrong demon. You hastily placed the glass back onto the counter, sliding down beside the now identified creature. “Tamaki?” Your voice was soft and had completely changed since the attack.
He winced in response, shying away from your touch as he clamped down on his lip, trying his best to stop the cries leaving his lips. “Are you okay? I’m so sorry, bunny. That was a complete accident.”
“I – I was just going to ask what you were doing up.” He stated, looking down at his hands as he spoke, the area between his legs throbbing now.
“Oh. I was drinking some warm milk, they say it helps you sleep. I was just a bit stressed and worried. You startled me.” You kept your voice calm and neutral, not intending to blame him at all.
“Are you okay?”
Tamaki exhaled, wiping the tears from his eyes, slowly getting up. “I guess.” You hugged him, slowly walking him over to the couch. “Do you wanna watch a movie or something?”
He nodded silently, sitting close beside you as he crossed his legs, watching you turn on the television.
“—Yeah, I was talking to Marcus, the guy who runs the coffee shop near my office. He said he’s only been there a few years, can you believe that? There are so many locals that go there.”
Shoto hummed, sitting cross legged. He looked towards you, a soft grin tugging at his lips. “That’s interesting, Y/N. Coffee places are really popular, as well as tea shops.”
“We should go to the tea place downtown,” You suggested, “It’d be so much—”
Your words were halted when you saw a large, brown thingy skitter across the floor. Your jaw dropped, your thoughts immediately leaving your lips.
“Holy shit. Is that a fucking cockroach?” You didn’t swear much, so when you did, Shoto knew something was going on.
“What? Where?” He leaned down a bit, looking at the grey wooden floor. Your feet were touching the floor, making you shriek.
The wind blew outside and seemed to startle the roach, prompting it to move closer to the couch. You jumped up immediately, shrieking as you scrambled to get behind Shoto so he could kill it. You stepped on some bones and soft flesh in your panic to get away. You clung to Shoto, sitting on the top of the back couch cushion, your eyes wide with fear.
He let out a guttural groan and yell, pulling you off of him; your balance wasn’t quite correct at the moment, since you ended up on the ground, beside the cockroach.
You screamed, Shoto screamed, and the wind screamed outside. (You were sure you heard the cockroach wail as well, but maybe that was in your head.)
It was a complete shitshow. There was screaming, yelling, cursing, and groans from Shoto. You noticed something off about the cockroach; why didn’t it have antennae or eyes??
You took a closer look, inspecting it closely – then you realized that it was just a ball of fluff and lint from one of your many sweaters. You picked it up and showed it to a glaring Shoto, who was massaging his ankle as his lips turned up in a frown.
“I’m so sorry,” You apologized deeply, placing a cool hand on his warming ankle. “I kinda just... got scared for a minute.” You hugged him, scooting closer to him, confused when he closed up his legs.
“Fuck! Someone help me!” You shouted loudly, your chest burning as your feet pounded against the dirt ground. “Anyone! Help me!” Your breathing was unsteady, the sounds of the rampaging beast behind you getting closer.
Denki yawned, opening his eyes as he slowly smacked his chapped lips. He stretched, the sun shining down on his face. Ah, how he loved waking up in the sun with you.
“Shit! Where are the tranquilizer darts?!” You dug through your bag, now currently perched on a wobbly tree branch while the large beast clawed at the trunk below you, roaring loudly.
“Good morning,” He turned to you with a soft smile which immediately faded when he caught sight of your clenched and slightly moving fists, your furrowed expression. “—Babe? Wait, is everything okay?” He placed a hand on you, gently shaking your shoulders.
“No, no, FUCK!” Branches and leaves whipped your face as you fell twenty feet from your now broken tree branch, awaiting the beast below. You landed hard on your back, scrambling to your feet when the beast approached you. It had the head of a chicken, teeth of a bear, and body of a bear. The arms were feathered, the back feet chicken feet. Suddenly it dawned on you – you were facing the Bearicken.
“Baby? Please wake up.” He continued to shake your shoulders, worry shooting through his mind at your sweating forehead and balled fists.
“Get away from me!” You yelled, backing away in fear as it came closer to you. There were no weapons; you had nothing to defend yourself. Your fists clenched, anger surging through you as you raced forward towards the Bearicken.
Now your legs were moving as if you were running, the speed picking up gradually as your fists clenched and unclenched. Denki just laid there, unable to do anything else.
You slammed your fists into the beast’s meaty chest, your feet coming up as you kicked it in the lower stomach, legs and arms. You heaved for breath, not even bothering to address your bloody nose as you kept on, pressing forwards with the attacks.
Denki was watching curiously now, still worried but mostly intrigued. Why were you ‘running’? When he saw you punching the air and kicking your feet he stayed silent, confused as ever. He placed a hand on your shoulder, shaking you a bit harder. “Wake up, babe. It’s okay; I’m here.”
In your dream the Bearicken clawed at you and swiped your shoulder, leading you to deliver a hard kick to your left; where Denki lay. Your heel slammed into his balls, eliciting a scream of surprise and pain from the blonde.
He clutched his shorts, groaning as he buried his face in one of the many pillows on your bed. His scream startled you; your eyes snapped open and you screeched, still absorbed in your nightmare.
This startled Denki, who started yelling in pain about his nuts while you started yelling that you’d never order Chick Fil A again. More screaming and chaos; in your panic you fell right off the bed, as did Denki.
“Crap!” Eijirou jumped forward, internally shrieking at the subsequent back pain that followed the sudden movement. He gritted his teeth as he began groping his right thigh in the dark, his fingers stopping at the sudden pain.
His muscle had completely tensed up and was aching so badly that he couldn’t help the yell that slipped past his lips. Curse words left his mouth as he fumbled to get into a comfortable position, the stiffened muscle making his movements much harder.
“Fuck!” His loud cursing which he hadn’t bothered to muffle woke you up, confusion etched into your face as you sat up quickly. Your red haired boyfriend was doubled over, clutching his right thigh as he spewed profanities from his lips.
“What the hell?” You hair was wild and you were tangled in the mess of sheets and blankets as you rubbed your head, looking towards the clock. 2:48 am.
“M-my thigh!” He shouted, bewildering you even more. He continued going on about his leg while you tried to ask him what was wrong in between his moaning and groaning.
You placed a hand on his shoulder, calling his name to try and get him focused on you so he could speak normally. “Babe?” No answer. “Eijirou?”
Another curse word left the male’s lips, as if you weren’t even there. The hell was going on?? “Eijirou!” Worry was bubbling up inside of you - what was happening?
“Eijirou, take a deep breath.”
He barely exhaled before another wave of pain hit him and his entire body jerked in response, his grip around your wrist tightening. So, like any rational sleep deprived person, you delivered a hard smack to his right thigh to get it to loosen up.
Except your hand hit something much softer and you didn’t hear the loud smack that should’ve accompanied the hit. “Fuck, Y/N!!” His thigh had loosened and now he was... holding onto his crotch???
You screamed, Eijirou’s anxiety riling you up further. After a few minutes of shrieking and yelling and cursing, you two finally settled down enough to sit down and talk.
“The hell happened earlier, Ei?”
“Charley horse.” He rasped, “I could be asking you the same thing. What was with that slap to the balls earlier??”
“That was your crotch?”
“Oh shit, sorry. I was trying to get your attention or at least loosen your thigh up. Sorry.”
“Please don’t slap any places where I have a spasm.”
“I’m sorry, baby.” You moved closer to him, hugging him as you gently stroked his face.
a/n. yeah so kiri’s was inspired by my dad’s 2 am screams over his muscle spasms, the car sticker in tamaki’s was something i saw today, katsuki’s was inspired by my dad’s constant jumpscares tf.
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𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐞 — 𝐬.𝐡
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes x fem!reader (requested)
Warnings: a little bit angsty, fluff, mentions of violence and blood
Summary: The reader is Sherlock's soulmate and has the ability to take her soulmate's pain and heal his wounds. She's been taking Sherlock's pain since the day she found out he was her soulmate, but there's one problem: He doesn't know. Until the day she gets hurt.
A/N: I'm so sorry it took me so long to write, but I truly hope you like it! I may have changed some small details while writing this fic, nothing major though. And I hope I didn't misunderstand anything in your request. If so, I sincerely apologize, love! @tom-hlover
I'm currently trying to finish every fanfic I keep in my drafts before opening my requests again! If anyone wants to be tagged in any of the oncoming fics, let me know 💕
Word count: 2.631 words
Dark clouds paint the abandoned streets of London with an eerie bleakness when she crosses the road with the collar of her coat folded up to protect her face from the pouring rain. A biting cold creeps underneath her skin as Y/N runs up the few stairs, almost tripping over her own feet in a rush of panic. Her trembling hands fiddle with the keys until she finally opens the black wooden door of 221B Baker Street, door hinges groaning heavily with age.
Hastily, she slips inside the dimly lit hallway and only takes a few seconds to enjoy the warmth coming from the old heater, numb fingers opening the buttons of her coat to hang it on one of the coat racks on the wall before she runs up the creaking stairs. Wet strands of hair stick to her forehead and a few raindrops managed to soak her shirt on the back of her neck, but she couldn’t care less. Not now.
Y/N received the message only 18 minutes ago, a simple beep of her phone and five little words written by one of her best friends.
You have to come. Now. - John
It took her exactly 1.080 seconds to drop everything she was doing, just to sprint through darkened alleys and a roaring thunderstorm to reach their flat. The urgency in John’s message was enough to make her heart pound heavily against her ribcage because they’ve been investigating a strange case for the past days now and Y/N knows how fucking reckless Sherlock gets in situations like these — high on adrenaline and blinded by the excitement of a new mystery to solve.
And now, as Y/N stumbles into their living room, gasping for air after her long run, she knows exactly why John needed her. Sherlock is weakly limping around the room, blood trickling from a deep cut on his left brow and bruises already forming on his split bottom lip. But what scares Y/N the most, what makes her head spin and punches every breath of air out of her chest is the shaking hand he presses to the side of his stomach, the fabric of his shirt stained a dangerous red.
“He won’t listen to me”, John mutters next to her, concern written across his face. “You’re the only one who can reach him when he gets like that. Please, Y/N.”
And although fear settles in the pit of her stomach at the sight of him, beaten and broken, she nods her head and steps forward until she’s within reach of the pacing detective.
“Sherlock?” Her voice is soothing and her trembling fingers stretch out to brush against the back of his hand when he slinks past her — the faint touch is enough to make him stop right in front of her, blue eyes piercing through her with some kind of desperation. Hesitantly, Y/N lifts her other hand to caress Sherlock’s jaw, the side that isn’t bruised and swollen. “You’re hurt, Sherlock. We need you to sit down.”
It comes easy to her, the familiar warmth prickling at the tips of her fingers when she concentrates on taking his burden — like she’s sucking venom out of an open wound. Soon enough, Sherlock’s pain washes over her.
It always comes gradually, blooming in the pit of her stomach with a burning pulsation that only seems to grow with each passing second Y/N spends near him. Yet, she’s willing to make that sacrifice if it means that Sherlock doesn’t feel any pain, if it eases the weight he’s carrying on his shoulders.
Slowly, Y/N guides him to the sofa; the one she’s slept on many times before when Sherlock was high on drugs or hurt. Even when the boys were out on a case she’d sleep there and wait for them to come home safely.
“John messaged you, didn’t he?” Sherlock rasps into her ear while she gently pushes him down to sit. Sherlock's vision goes blurry with each breath he takes, but he strictly refuses to give in to the pulling darkness now. Not until he’s solved the case. Y/N takes care of him, anyway.“Why doesn’t he patch me up? You weren’t even in the neighborhood.”
“Because you won’t listen to him, you idiot. Now, hold still.” Y/N unbuttons his shirt with clever fingers, touch always lingering a little longer than necessary on every inch of his exposed body. After a moment of inspecting the wound on his lower abdomen, she meets his gaze with a worried glint in her eyes. “It’s deeper than I thought, Sherlock."
Her hands glide over his chest and another wave of pain hits her, more destructive than the last. Y/N winces at the sting in her lower abdomen, the burn that shoots right through her chest and seems to set every inch of her being ablaze. But Y/N keeps her hands where they are, right on his exposed skin, even when her vision becomes blurry and seems to darken around the edges.
Sherlock doesn’t notice. Maybe, he’s too dazed to think clearly, or perhaps, he’s just too caught with the case he’s working on. For one of the most intelligent men she knows, he surely takes his time to figure out that his soulmate is sitting right in front of him, kneeling between his spread thighs to take care of his wounds and ease the pain, transferring it onto herself with every little touch.
"Of course...The mother did it." It’s all Sherlock manages to mumble, before he loses consciousness and falls into a dreamless sleep, leaving her and John behind to stitch him back together.
Approximately twenty bloodied tissues later, Y/N finds herself perched on a kitchen chair wearing John’s cozy sweater and a pair of Sherlock's pajama pants while her own clothes are left to dry on the heater in the hallway. Cold sweat glistens on her forehead as the stinging pain comes and goes in crashing waves. And still, Y/N doesn’t even dare to bat an eyelash, too afraid that John will notice and ask questions. Explaining everything would cost her too much energy.
“Y/N, are you feeling alright?”
It’s John’s hushed voice that brings her back into reality, a steaming cup of tea now sitting right in front of her with a small plate of delicious biscuits. Her best friend shoots her a concerned glance, eyes glinting with a certain kind of worry as he puts a soothing hand on her shoulder. “You seem a little pale around the nose.”
“I’m fine, John. Just a little headache.” She gives him a faint smile, shaking hands clutching the teacup in a knuckle-whitening grip when a new kind of pain burns through every fiber of her being. And it doesn’t stop. It never truly does, only eases with time until there’s just a familiar ache drumming in the back of her head.
Over time, Y/N got used to it until the constant hurting became bearable and while everyone else’s pain disappears after a while, hers just...stays. After all, Sherlock lives a dangerous life and he will do what it takes to solve a case, doesn’t care about the harm he has to suffer to reach his goal, but Y/N? Oh, she takes his pain. After every hunt, every reckless game, she takes his injuries, even the smallest one.
Sometimes, she wonders why she stays, when all he does is throw himself into danger. Because you love him, whispers a voice in the back of her mind, and one day, he will see what you do for him.
"It's you." John breaks the suffocating silence. He's staring at Y/N with widened eyes as the realization hits him.
“It’s you. You’re his soulmate”, John repeats slowly and throws her an incredulous look. Then, a grin tugs at the corners of his mouth, only to falter mere seconds after. “Bloody hell, you’re Sherlock’s soulmate. Of course, you aren’t alright.”
There’s no use in lying now. So, Y/N only sighs and snuggles deeper into his sweater. “It’s okay, John. I got used to it."
“I just thought, Sherlock would be more careful when he meets his soulmate...”, John mumbles, more to himself than to her. The steady ticking of the clock hanging above the fridge fills the room until John decides to break the silence once again. “He doesn’t know, does he?” He snickers quietly, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s obvious. And the infamous Sherlock Holmes still hasn’t discovered that you’re his soulmate.”
Y/n only shrugs nonchalantly. “He doesn’t seem to like the idea of having a soulmate anyways.”
It’s too much. The pain becomes overwhelming, feels like daggers pierce through her weakened body when she drags herself to the front door of 221B Baker Street in the darkest hour of the night. Y/n raises a trembling hand to knock, legs almost giving out underneath the weight of her, but she manages to lean against the solid wall for some kind of support. She’s tired. Her eyelids feel heavy, the constant throbbing in her leg seems to subside and is replaced by a lethal numbness instead. It’s only a matter of time, Y/N knows, but it happened so fast and the small apartment with the bullet holes in the wall and the skull above the fireplace just feels safer than anywhere else.
After what felt like an eternity, the door opens with a heavy groan and Y/N almost falls to the ground, startled by the sudden movement. Luckily, her hands reach the door frame just in time to catch herself, but the fire that shoots through her leg when she accidentally puts too much weight on it is fatal.
“Y/N? It’s the middle of the night...” Mrs. Hudson’s voice sounds distant like she’s standing at the other and of a long tunnel. “My goodness, what is that? You’re bleeding!” A tender hand comes up to rest against Y/N’s forehead and cheek, perhaps checking her temperature or trying to keep her conscious while the older lady calls for Sherlock and John. Seconds later, a burning sensation courses through the left side of her face, not enough to distract her from the bleeding wound on her upper thigh, but enough to startle her and keep her awake just a little longer. And just as Y/N’s hands seem to slip from the door frame and she already prepares for the harsh impact when her body collides with the ground, a pair of strong arms catch her.
“Y/N? Y/N, look at me, what happened?” John sounds calm and collected, murmuring her name and short questions to keep her with him as he carries her upstairs and carefully lays her on the couch, the one where’s she’s patched up Sherlock only a few weeks ago. His fingers search for her wrist, checking her pulse before he pats her cheek. "Hey, stay with me!"
"But I'm so tired..." The words come out slurred and almost inaudible. "I just wanna sleep for a bit." And Y/N knows, she shouldn't, knows it's perhaps more than sleep — her face has grown pale and the bleeding won't stop, but it's getting harder and harder to stay awake. But even in her state, she can hear Sherlock's calming voice talking to John, already deducing what happened to her with one look at her wounded body on the couch.
"Sherlock, this isn't helping", John seethes at him as pulls a bandage out of a red bag. "Listen, she could pass put any second from the pain she’s feeling and you're the only one who can do something!"
Sherlock furrows his brows and stares at him as if he’s lost his mind. “What am I supposed to do, John? I can’t just take her pain away!”
“That’s my bloody point! Are you really that blind or do you just not want to see it?”, John curses and nervously glances at Y/N.
“See what?” And then it hits him. Sherlock turns around, shock and some kind of confusion written over his face. “I’m her soulmate.”
“Oh, the great Sherlock Holmes finally solved it! She’s been taking your pain for bloody years and now she needs you, Sherlock. She needs you, do you understand?" He does. So, Sherlock sinks onto the couch and gently places her head in his lap. His fingers card through her hair, carefully tugging a few strands out of her face. Now, how do you take someone's pain? It sounds easy, but doing it... actually doing it? Sherlock isn't even sure he's doing anything at all until the hurting begins.
"John, I figured it out."
That's all John needs to hear. With a quick movement, he takes some gauze and presses it down onto Y/N's thigh to stop the bleeding. The newly inflicted pain makes her jolt up in Sherlock's lap and cry out in pain, but she grows quiet the second Sherlock takes her hand and takes every ounce of fire that blazes through her body. A groan leaves his lips when he transfers her wounds but something inside of him tells him to keep going.
After a while, Y/N relaxes in his arms. And gradually, exhaustion settles in his limbs as he strokes her temples and swallows the burning sting until there's nothing left to take from her.
"Sherlock?" It’s broken and quiet, but it gets his attention nevertheless. He glances down at her with a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. The tips of his fingers dance across her cheekbones and the bridge of her nose as if he’s trying to memorize every curve of her face.
“I’m here. Are you alright?”, Sherlock asks softly, barely noticing how John leaves the room to wash his hands and give them some space. “Y/N?” She doesn’t answer. Tremors run through her weakened body and he notices the distant look in her eyes, the single tear that clings to her lashes. It’s only natural to get into shock after getting shot, an experience as bad as her last one. Sherlock puts his hands on her shoulders and sits her up, leaning her back against his chest so she can sense the steady beating of his heart.
“You’re alright and you’re safe. It’s okay”, he murmurs into her hair. Gently, he strokes over her arms until his hands cup hers, warming her cold fingers. “I need you to do something for me. It’s easy, I promise.”
Hesitantly, Y/N nods in his arms and swallows hard in an attempt to ignore the anxiety that threatens to bury her in a flood. It’s hard to focus on his face, but the warmth that radiates from his hands covering hers calms her enough to concentrate on the instructions Sherlock is giving her.
“Name three things you can see. Can you do that for me, Y/N?”
“The blanket, John’s sweater, and...”, Y/N exhales sharply and lets her gaze wander through the room in search of a third item. “Your hat. The one they gave you as a gift and you wear it sometimes when you think, no one can see you.”
Behind her, Sherlock chuckles slightly at her comment. “Obviously, you saw me. Brilliant, darling... Now, can you name two things you can feel?”
It takes only mere seconds to reply to his question. “I can feel you and your body warmth.” Y/N smiles in embarrassment, cheeks flushing at her own words. But Sherlock only nods in approval and squeezes her hands in reassurance and she’s sure she felt how he pulled her a little closer to his chest.
“There you go. Now, we wait for the ambulance to arrive.” And while Sherlocks hold her in his arms, this fragile woman who decided to take the burden from his shoulders without him even knowing, he swears to himself that he’ll never let her feel so much pain again.
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It's B from @bang-tan-bitches and I would like to request a yandere fic. It can be BTS OT7 x reader or BTS member of your choice x reader. Similar to your amazing isekai story i would like something similar(a long one shot or a multi-chapter, your choice). Whether YN transmigrates to a game or a novel (not as a villain but maybe as a cannon fodder side character that has little importance to the story and just wants to lay low) but YN captures the attention of the love interest(s) and shit starts getting weird, intense, uncomfortable. Maybe it causes the supposed female lead to turn into the villain, maybe it causes the love interest(s) to turn into the villain(s). Maybe YN realizes that something is wrong with the story/game but can't figure it out. Idk. Time period doesn't matter. Modern. Ancient. Fairytale. Fantasy. Whatever.
If you can do this great! If you can't or don't want to, that's okay too. You're an amazing writer with so much talent and I'm really appreciative of all your work. Thank you for taking requests from your fans, I'm sure you've received a lot.
Take care! 😘💜💜💜
at the start of the pandemic, I was getting back into manga and manhwa and then after a few months, I dawdled off but recently, I’ve been getting back into it again haha so this request came at a pretty good time. Hopefully you won’t mind that I’ve taken some creative liberties with this request lol I think it’s more fun if I keep readers on their toes, including the requester.
On another note, I really shouldn’t be writing all my isekai’s with Taehyung as the main lead but he’s just so fitting asdfghjkl
↳ The Fox Bride
2.6k || 99% Light Fluff, 1% Angst || Kim Taehyung || Isekai!AU, Slight Yandere!AU, Nine-Tailed Fox!Taehyung
You are a tutorial character.
But you weren’t always. You still remember being a career woman in the twenty-first century, struggling with overtime and paying bills while trying to keep yourself fed. The success of that ranged from month to month. But more importantly, you still remember that night too.
It was rainy. Your car blew a flat tire. You pulled to the side of the highway and got out.
The last thing that registered was the deafening honk of the semi-truck.
Then you felt yourself flying upwards.
But when you landed, instead of colliding with the concrete and dying upon impact, you fell back onto your ass in the middle of a market on a dirt road. Transported back a thousand years ago.
Your purpose was fulfilled in the next two minutes.
“Are you alright?”
The male protagonist had stretched out his hand and helped you up. The hero. The main character. It was obvious with his bright red hair, shining eyes and bronze armour. He was so starkly different from the rest who were gray and drab, including you who was suddenly in a brown shapeless dress. He was practically a neon billboard in the middle of a graveyard.
“Are you Y/N?”
You looked at him, befuddled that he knew your name. But before you could even respond or provide a line of dialogue, he said, “This is a delivery from Baker Jeon. He gives you his thanks.”
The protagonists handed you a loaf of bread. Undoubtedly his first ever quest.
You looked down, not sure what to do with it.
“Do you know where the blacksmith is?”
You had absolutely no clue. But there was the deafening noise of hammering steel literally ten steps away. You would have to be blind not to see the gruff man shaping a sword at an anvil right on the road and deaf not to hear it. As if that wasn’t enough, the literal sign of the shop read: ‘the blacksmith’.
So you pointed.
“Thanks.” And he trudged off.
You were utterly confused until a background character who said they knew you waved you over. You shared your bread with her, brushed aside when she asked you what was wrong, and you followed her as she walked up to your supposed cottage.
All the while, you saw yourself in the background of the hero’s main quest as he ran through the town.
And that was that.
It wasn’t so hard to figure out where you were or what the hell this was when you put your mind to it. Without much of a job or a family, and no technology but the candle that you had to conserve when night fell, there was ample time.
So you spent it thinking and you eventually solved the mystery.
You were in Beast Boys Harem: A Forbidden Embrace. AKA. a dumb yaoi otome game app that you downloaded on your phone when you were sixteen and bored. You remember because you were too cheap to buy the routes, so you played the tutorial, prologue and read the summaries of the routes online. Now you regret that you didn’t just fork over the goddamn five dollars.
Even more than that, you regret that you even downloaded the game in the first place.
But at least you’re just a tutorial character. You’re free from the storyline and the plot—
That’s what you thought.
Turns out living a thousand years in the past in a fantasy realm as a woman didn’t bode well. It was probably no different from how it would’ve been like in the medieval ages. You had no trade skills. No one was willing to accept you as an apprentice when you were a woman. You found that you were essentially illiterate with a reading level of a preschooler, no one was willing to teach you, and you had no power or wealth when you were without a father or a husband.
And you’re certain what the landlord and tax-collectors are doing is illegal.
But in this world, in this unjust realm, there is no such thing as the law.
“We know you’re in there!”
You jolt from the heavy pounding on the frail wooden door.
“It’s time to pay up!”
Your hands tremble as you set the candle down that’s still billowing of smoke, the flame smothered out mere seconds ago. As much as you want to hide and pull the blanket over your head, you know that door won’t last. They’ll find you if you’re trapped in here.
“If you can’t, spread those legs of yours!” a low voice spits and there’s chortling from the men.
Someone adds, “Sell your body already!”
“Open up! Damn whore!”
Without a single possession but the white nightgown clad on your body, you open the latch of the back window. You cringe at the squeak, trying to keep your movements quiet before the door gives way.
You hoist yourself up onto the window ledge. The door bends with the strength of multiple clenched fists against it. Your feet touch the soft grass outside your cottage. The men shout.
And the door finally slams against the wall, hinges broken.
But by then, you’ve slipped into the shadows.
“Where is she?!”
The blanket is ripped off the bed, curtains are whipped back, every drawer dumped onto the ground and cupboards yanked open. The floor shakes with the weight of their boots and you press your palm to your mouth to silence your panting breaths, slowly stepping away.
“That damn whore slipped through us—!”
But as your shitty luck would have it, a sudden crack has the whole world coming to a standstill.
Shit. You look down at your feet, realizing that the snapping noise came from you stepping on a twig. And it’s exposed your hiding place.
“There she is!” — “Out the back window!”
You grab fistfuls of your dress and bolt.
With your cottage on the edge of town, there’s nowhere to run but through the dense woods. It’s shrouded in the darkness, no doubt filled with wild beasts creeping through the thicket. The rustling canopy of the trees doesn’t allow the dim, waning moonlight to illuminate your path.
So you’re left blind. Struggling up the high incline of the forest, feet slipping on dirt and mud. But you keep sprinting with all your might, even when the pointed, coiling branches scrape at your calves until blood sheds and the hem of your dress tears in the underbrush.
“Run, little rabbit!” one of them mocks, “Run!”
The four men continue to give chase, gripping onto their roaring torches, shrieking and howling after you. One of them is manically laughing as if your efforts to flee only adds to the thrill. Their greased hands reach out to snatch you, but the tips of their fingers graze the ends of your hair.
Your teeth are sunk into the bottom of your lip, sobs breaking through your aching chest. Your lungs burn, dying for a break or moment of relief. But you don’t relent and luckily, you manage to build distance between you and the men. Only, that luck comes crashing down by a fucking hole.
A hole in the forest floor that you don’t see. That has your footing all wrong. That makes you scream and fall.
You twist your ankle in a direction it’s definitely not supposed to be in and cry from pain.
A second later, you force yourself to get up and keep running with tears flooding your eyes and dripping down your cheeks. But it’s more like limping than running, akin to hobbling on one leg and every movement has pain shooting from your swelling ankle.
The effort becomes futile. They surround you within minutes.
“All finished?” The tax-collector’s head cocks with a spreading grin. “You’re not going to keep running?”
Why couldn’t you just fucking die the first time?! Even if it was an awful death where you didn’t have time to prepare yourself or say goodbye to anyone, at least it would’ve been the end. At least you wouldn’t have to suffer.
But there’s no time to grieve. Or hate the new life you’ve been given. This is it. You have to keep going. You have to survive. By any means. You’re about to pick up a branch and uselessly wave it around at them, shout at them to stand back. Anything that you could do to save yourself—
“Who dares come onto my mountain?!”
There’s a deep timbre behind you. A husky voice that quivers the very core of the forest.
As if the wind has swept through, the trees and thicket rustle and it goes silent.
The men fall back onto their asses, some torches clattering to the ground. Their eyes have grown double in size, nearly falling from their sockets and their jaws have dropped to the dirt.
“I-It’s the nine-tailed fox!”
The man scrambles back.
Another barely manages to get onto his feet. He turns around and lurches away while shrieking.
They all run. Scattering away as frantically as cockroaches when the light is flickered on.
From your spot on the ground, you turn around with wide eyes.
Amber irises meet your gawking and they practically glow in the darkness of the forest. He is dressed in a loose, white robe that’s draped over his frame, open to the middle of his chest. And over his honey hair, on the top of his head, his pointed golden ears twitch. By the torch fire still yet to die out, he is illuminated and his shadow is casted on the ground. The blazing flame warms his cold, sharp features.
He is the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen. In both worlds you’ve lived in.
And you know who he is.
Taehyung. One of the love interests of the hero. A seductive, sly creature that eventually coaxes the hero into selling him his soul to grant one of his wishes. But Taehyung grows to become an obsessed character that wants to do nothing but monopolize and possess the hero for himself.
That same Taehyung approaches you with his lip curled as you teeter to your feet.
“Run away, girl.” He leans close. “Before I eat you.”
On sheer instinct and adrenaline, you push him back. Your palm shoves against his firm chest.
Taehyung stumbles back with his eyes becoming rounded. He looks down to where you had made contact against his body. “Did...you just touch me?”
Taehyung’s head darts upwards and he captures your wrist in his hand, squeezing tightly. He tugs you in and on your swollen ankle, you stumble into him. Bodies flush against one another. Your face pressed to his warm chest. His arm coming around your waist to break your fall.
He is aghast.
“You’re not from this world.” Taehyung’s yellow eyes swirl as they gaze into you. “Where did you come from?”
It’s been three days.
“Wed me,” he begs for the seventy sixth time.
You don’t know why you’re keeping a count.
You’re hugging your knees for warmth. The rice paper-paneled doors are slid open and letting in the chilly air. He doesn’t seem to be affected by the cold, but you don’t look at him for long.
You turn into the corner of his home while sitting on the tatami floors as if you’re putting yourself into time out. But you’d like to say it’s your privacy corner. It’s as private as this abode, which was basically one room, could get.
Taehyung sighs in frustration, placing his hand on his forehead. His teeth grit. “You’re only making this harder for yourself.” Your silence angers him more. “You can never leave.”
You turn over your shoulder to glare. “Even if I married you, you’d never let me leave anyway.”
Taehyung narrows his eyes on you and then smirks. “You’re right. Wed or unwed, I won’t let you out of my sight. You should feel grateful, girl. You’re the best human I’ve ever treated.”
You quietly scoff.
Maybe you should feel scared. Maybe you should tread more lightly. After all, he’s not a character to be trifled with.
But you know he needs you. That alone gives you power.
As a beast, Taehyung’s been trapped on this mountain by priests for centuries. The only way he can be free is by feeding off of sexual energy and breaking the barrier. But of course, they also cursed him to be unable to touch any woman in this universe.
You aren’t from this universe.
You jolt when you realize that while you were lost in thought, Taehyung’s crawled closer. He has a foxy smile, amber eyes searching your expression. “Maybe….maybe I’ll grant you a bit of freedom if you would just give into the temptation and let me have a taste of you.”
As cold as he looks, he is beautiful. He is mischievous when he smirks and sly when he speaks. You are utterly spellbound as you look into his irises. And the temptation he speaks of flickers in the warmth of your belly.
But you turn away.
“I already said we only do that kind of thing after marriage. And I will only marry someone I love.”
Taehyung draws back with an unamused scoff. “What a prudish world you’re from.”
He wanted you the moment you were brought to this house. With the intensity of his stare and your captivated state, you had let him pin you to his floor and you liked it. But then clarity came and you blurted that such an act only happens after marriage. A lie just to buy time.
You didn’t expect for the hero to arrive at Taehyung’s house the next day. With his red hair and bronze armour, he had gotten lost in the forest and knocked on the door. Before you could limp over and answer it, Taehyung jumped off the roof and confronted him.
The guy was thrown off the mountain within five minutes.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. They were supposed to have a steamy rendezvous. Taehyung was supposed to get the sexual energy from him!
The story was going off the rails. And you’re not sure what you’re even buying time for anymore.
The both of you know it’s only a matter of time before you break and succumb to his mesmerizing seduction.
Taehyung is cruel, ruthless, obsessive.
But what’s the most bewitching thing about him is the jarring contrast of when he’s clumsy and nurturing. It’s what he regards as his own weakness. What he hides from others. But you felt your heart waver two nights ago when you were shaken awake in the middle of twilight. When you peeked open your eye to see him gingerly wrapping your swollen ankle with bandages.
He looked beautiful in the pale moonlight, ears, tails, sharp features softened—
“Ow!” You wince as he squeezes your ankle, right on your injury.
“You think too much in your head,” he says and looks at you. “What’s wrong?”
A sadistic smile tugs on Taehyung’s lips. He lets go, but only to lift your chin with his fingers. His plush lips are inches away, his breath warm on your skin and he gazes deep into you. “I won’t let you return to your world. I won’t let you run away. I won’t let anyone harm you.”
“You’re mine now.” Taehyung swears, “You’ll fall in love with me eventually.”
You gulp and he smirks.
The two of you know it’s only a matter of time.
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hi I have something for y’all called a disaster.
I wrote an Inimitable!Spiderman/Modern Star Wars AU because no one can stop me, not even myself. it is like 47 pages long. I am handing it tenderly to y’all.
Title: impossible scenario
Summary: Peter runs into some drunk assholes arguing, calling each other Han and Luke. He lets it roll off him until he can’t anymore and eventually finds himself for the first time on the other side of someone more chaotic than himself.
There was an argument happening under a fire escape. Peter knew about it because a concerned dude wearing a fuckin’ Yankees cap had flagged him down with waving arms and told him that someone needed saving, Spiderman. Some tall asshole was kidnapping a young blond dude, the guy and his too-cool-for-him girlfriend explained. They’d heard the two scuffling.
Peter maybe stared for a beat too long at them because the gal pointed two blocks behind him and said, “That way. I think the blond guy might be drugged. He’s slurrin’ something strong.”
Peter liked her shoes. They looked like Miles’s, but blue.
Miles told Peter all the time that he wasn’t cool enough to wear Jordans. MJ and Johnny had agreed. Such sad times.
“I got it,” Peter sighed.
The gal tsked.
“Man, you’re too young to be this jaded,” she said.
“You’re the third person to say that this week,” he said. “You think I should go back to therapy?”
There was a pause.
“You know that answer, dude,” cool-gal said. “Go save the twink.”
Twink. Got it. Thank you, citizen.
“There are websites for that shit, Spidey.”
“BetterHelp or Headspace or somethin’—”
“Two blocks, you said?” Peter asked.
Two blocks away, there was indeed a man with dark hair trying to lift a violently intoxicated twink up onto the first steps of a fire escape. Peter examined his options. There were many ways to ruin a potential kidnapper’s day. His favorite involved coke and mentos, although he’d received feedback that that was a waste of perfectly good food. Down the list was also the option to walk over and scream bloody murder so that the kidnapper shat themselves and dropped their target.
That was good, but Peter was tired and the thought of mustering up the energy to scream at a noticeable volume made his thighs turn to Jell-o.
That left snark and violence.
Today, he would not choose violence. Only for today.
He strode out of his dark temporary residence between two dumpsters directly towards the tall dude and his mark. The mark was a messy one. Bless his heart, he was unwittingly making himself the most noncompliant victim to have ever victim-ed. Every time the tall guy got him almost vertical, he gave up his corporeal form to become drunk slime and ooze back to the ground with various moaning sound effects.
It would have been funny if not for the kidnapping context.
The fact that Peter had been standing there under the beams of two separate side-building security lights and neither of those two had noticed yet was also objectively funny—or would have been, if Peter had the capacity for processing humor at the moment.
Alas. This was what he got for telling Tony that he’d evolved beyond the need for sleep. He got caffeine-pilled. And there would be no true rest until that shit wore off, exhausted as Peter’s body yearned to be.
“Kid, work with me here,” the tall guy said.
“I can’t, I’ll die,” the shorter one moaned.
“I’ve done my time—thirty years in AZKA—”
“Keep your voice down, oh my god.”
Peter was just standing here, fellas.
“Why’s it always me? Why’s it always gotta be me? The hell did I do to piss off the whole galax-galaxy? HA. My bad, my bad. The whole universe?”
God, what a mood.
The tall guy dropped his grip on the smaller one and loomed over his puddle of ooze with poison in his gaze.
“People are going to die, Luke,” he said.
“So what? They’re always dyin’. Everywhere I go, people’re dyin’ and when it’s not them dyin’, you know who is?”
“So you’re just gonna wallow there, feelin’ sorry for yourself?” the tall dude snapped.
“Sure am,” the puddle of ooze hummed.
This was not a kidnapping. This was a come-to-Jesus in the back alley of a bar. Peter was not needed here. He turned around on his heel and stopped when he heard a sharp intake of breath.
“Is that?” someone whispered.
“Don’t mind me, pal, just your friendly neighborhood—” he started.
“Look what you did,” Tall and Handsome hissed at Ooze-Man. “Someone went and called Spiderman on us.”
Peter lifted a brow as Ooze-man ripped its chest up from the asphalt and composed itself back into a human shape with fluffy blonde hair and huge wide eyes.
“Omigod, it’s Spiderman,” the guy said. “Wait, no. Gimme a hand. No, not that one, fuck off, nevermind, I don’t need you.”
He drew himself up to standing, only leaning slightly on his buddy there and gave Peter as lopsided smile.
“Hi, there,” he said with a twang that Peter couldn’t place. “Were you lookin’ for someone, handsome?”
Ah, they had reached the time of night when all the drunks needed to tell Peter things he already knew about his ass. He loved this time.
Not to mention that this dude looked eerily like Johnny. Scarily like Johnny. So much like Johnny that Peter almost wanted to take a picture of him to send to Sue so that she could print up some lost and found posters.
“Just lookin’ at you, babe,” he said. “This guy botherin’ you?”
The tall guy blanched and then grabbed at his face in horror. Peter swallowed his laugh.
“He sure is, hon. You got time to rescue me?” Blondie crooned.
“Luke, please. Please.”
“Because I’m in real distress,” ‘Luke’ said with a pout mighty enough to fell Thor.
“You sure seem like it,” Peter said. “C’mere. I’ll walk you home. Leave that tool, he ain’t worth your breath.”
He held out an elbow like proper gentleman and was pleased at the hand that Luke laid over his heart in response.
Peter could imagine Johnny’s face in six different expression of jealous horror at a selfie taken with this look-alike. Each was beautiful in its own special way. As payment for being referred to counseling by the public, he at least deserved to receive at least two of those faces.
“You mean that?” Luke asked him.
“He doesn’t,” his tall companion said.
“I sure do, where do you live? I’ll walk you,” Peter said.
“Oh my god, I’m gonna cry, he’s gonna escort me,” Luke said, all choked up and fanning his eyes lightly.
This tall friend grabbed him before he could escape, though, and pulled him back behind his own body.
“Listen, Spidey, this is a misunderstanding,” he drawled. “I know this idiot—he is technically my idiot— and I’m the one escorting his ass home. Thanks, though. You’re a real menace. Beat it.”
And here Peter had been planning on being jaded and miserable this fine night. How could he now when this dude was ticking every box that made him feel alive?
“What’s your name, dollface?” Peter asked across the short distance.
“None of your business,” Tall Guy answered abruptly.
“Luke,” Luke said around him. “Are you gonna save me?”
“In just a minute,” Peter said, striding forward with a hard roll in his shoulder and deep drop in his knees.
It was amazing how Tall Guy wanted to take some steps back all of the sudden. Peter couldn’t help but let a smirk widen his face as he advanced.
“Okay, hang on now,” Tall Guy said with both palms out in front of him. “You don’t know what this is about, Spidey. You don’t want to get involved with this, trust me. He’s just bein’ dramatic. No need to get testy.”
“You sure do a lot of talkin’ for your friend there,” Peter noted through his grin.
“Yeah, Han,” Luke said.
Han. Han and Luke. Ned was gonna be enraptured when Peter told him about this later.
“Luke. Back me up.”
“Why should I?”
“Because,” ‘Han’ finally snapped. “I’m not doin’ this because I want you to suffer, alright? I don’t want nothin’ to do with it either, okay? No one does. But it’s this or—”
“Or everyone else,” Luke finished for him in a strangely toneless voice.
“It’s always everyone else,” Luke said.
“Why’s it always everyone el—No, no, here. Why not? We’ve got fucking Spiderman in our midst, how much more surreal can this moment get? No. You listen to me, Han—”
“I’ve been listening to you all damn evening and you know what I’m hearing?”
“—I lost my life for this. I lost my home, my aunt, my uncle, my hand—”
“I’m hearing you making this about you.”
“—everything I ever knew, and I tried to make it right, didn’t I? I made the school. I gathered the kids—”
“And it’s not just about you this time, kid. It’s not about you, it’s not about me, or Leia, or Chewie or—”
“—I lost my kid and the love of my life, and I finally get a second chance at finding them and giving them the goddamn happy ending they deserve, and the next thing I know—”
“Luke, you’re the only one,” Han said.
“I WAS NEVER. THE ONLY. ONE, HAN,” Luke roared out of absolutely nowhere, sober as a saint. “I was never the only one. EVER. Ahsoka. Go find her. She’s everything that I’m not and more. She’s the real—”
“Stop saying that name. I HATE that name. I would do anything for twenty goddamn seconds where I didn’t have to be him.”
“You don’t mean that,” Han said quietly. His shoulders had rounded out and become black and heavy under the weight of their shadow. Luke’s eyes, however, looked like topaz.
“I mean it,” Luke said.
So shit had gotten real tense, real fast, so Peter about to make a decision that was gonna make Shelley so proud of him she would weep when he finally slunk back in through her office door.
He was leaving. He was turning around and taking a wee jog. Maybe turning a corner, having a little jump over a fence, up a wall, to a place as far away from this one as superhumanly possible.
“This galaxy needs you, Luke.”
Peter stopped five paces away.
“They need you,” Han repeated. “And I need you.”
Peter slowly looked back to see that Luke’s face had twisted sharply out of the light, towards the alley wall.
“I’m sorry that we met again like this,” Han said quietly. “I’m sorry it’s always you. You don’t deserve this. No one deserves this.”
“Shut up,” Luke said.
“But if you don’t do something, then it won’t be just me and you and all these random others sliding back into that cesspit we all barely crawled out of.”
“You’ll never find him if things go back the way they were.”
“You—you don’t know that. There—maybe—”
“Luke. Listen to me. Please.”
“Maybe there’s a chance—”
“Luke,” Han said reaching out and putting a hand on Luke’s shoulder and clenching it hard enough that Peter should see the bunched fabric, “Do you want Din to live through this shitshow a second time? Hasn’t he suffered enough?”
Peter shivered. The pressure at the base of his neck was building. The Spidey Sense wanted to hiss in his ears like white noise. It pinned him where he was, staring over his shoulder at those two solid shapes, one digging a hand into the flesh of the other.
His stomach turned.
Luke said something that Peter couldn’t hear. Han pulled him toward his own body by the grip he had on his shoulder. At first, Luke seemed to stagger, like he was walking on black ice. He stopped a single step away from Han’s body, still with his face angled severely away. Han said something to him.
There was a long pause, then Luke seemed to fall forward. Han caught him and crushed his head into his shoulder, lowering his own until it was almost touching Luke’s ear. They clung to each other.
Luke was crying.
The Spidey Sense started to crackle and pop in Peter’s ears.
“I gotchu, kid,” Han said in a rasp. “I gotchu. We’re gonna get through it.”
Peter blinked once and finally unlocked the muscles in his neck. He wasn’t meant to witness this. He held out a wrist and fired a line.
It was weird.
It was just weird.
Something wasn’t right. And Peter couldn’t make his stomach not writhe about it.
An offhand mention of like, characters. Character names. They were character names. Leia, Chewie.
Peter had heard of people who lived their lives honestly believing that they had been other people—fake people—in past lives, but like, damn man. Why would you put yourself in a position like that were you were moved to actual tears for some elaborate street-drama?
Maybe it had been a joke? That was the only thing he could think it could be. Maybe the universe had gazed upon his hubris at work and gone ‘ah yes, I know what this young man needs: emotional confusion at midnight on a Thursday. That’ll fix him.’
If that was the case, then yeah. Good job, universe. Good job, larpers. Y’all are equally sick.
But if not—and Peter no longer lived in a world where he could rule out any possibilities—then he had just witnessed—Dude, he’d just witnessed—
He couldn’t even think it. It was beyond him. It was so far beyond him that like he might have a real stroke taking the thought seriously.
There was only one person who could hold that kind of information unscathed.
PP: Ned. I need you to listen to me and tell me I’m not crazy.
NL: no promises but go on
PP: I think? I just saw? Luke Skywalker? And Han Solo? In an alley behind Kitty’s?????
JS: Say more
PP: who let you in here?
NL: Peter say more
PP: I can’t there’s a nerd in here and it’s vibrating at the wrong decibel. SECURITY???
PP: I’m trying to have a breakdown. Can you remove Matchstick please?
MJ: what kind of breakdown
JS: he thinks he met Luke Skywalker
PP: Security has failed me. God?
NL: Peter can you name three things you can see.
PP: I am not manic. I am in touch with reality. I’m just having anxiety because I just fucking saw two people calling each other Luke and Han fighting behind Kitty’s. Like real fighting.
PP: oh my god nicknames
PP: Johnny I’m so sorry I ever doubted you. never leave my side
MJ: wow that’s cringe. Imagine naming yourself after SW characters
NL: does kitty do a cosplay night now????
PP: idk it was wild. People thought that ‘Han’ was trying to kidnap ‘Luke’ but when I got over there, Luke started flirting with me and then shit got real and they started arguing over like him hating his name and not wanting to do something and losing everything or some shit
NL: that’s a lot. I’m sure it was nothing, though, peter.
PP: yeah it was. My SS has been going nuts ever since I left. You think they bugged me?
JS: yes I will come search your body imminently
MJ: my job storm, back off
JS: after MJ has finished prelim checks, I will then search your body for you out of the kindness of my heart ❤
NL: that’s weird, the SS doesn’t usually freak out about cosplayers
NL: lol imagine if they were serious
MJ: don’t say that
JS: well now we have to lean in. thanks ned
JS: they were definitely real. God they were so real. You hear that Fate? You got us. They’re definitely real.
PP: BUT WHAT IF THEY WERE?
MJ: cue breakdown
NL: that would be so fucking funny. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo trying to save the world from the hellscape of nyc. The rats alone would thwart them.
PP: ned I’m freaking out
NL: oh you mean you’re actually freaking out?
NL: oh shit sorry. I’ll be over, have you slept yet?
MJ: on it
JS: can I join?
NL: no johnny
MJ: no johnny
JS: one day our love will build a bridge, peter. In the meantime I am stroking your ear comfortingly from midtown
Need and MJ’s weight pinning him to a mattress brought sleep but not necessarily comfort. They both thought that this was a sick joke someone had played on him that was now destroying his psyche. They thought that the couple pointing him back towards the cosplayers had been in on the joke.
Peter would have agreed with them if it wasn’t for the Spidey Sense. Everything else lined up perfectly.
Ned sighed in the morning and told Peter to go talk to Wade.
Wade’s hallucinations were, by far, more auditory than visual, but he stayed quiet while Peter talked his ear off over the phone in his locked office. He waited until Peter had run out of words to describe the feeling of impending doom and then huffed a bit of a laugh into the receiver.
“Them Star Wars people are unreal, Pete, you know this,” he said. “Look at Ned.”
Ned was perfect.
“Take off those rosy shades, hon. Now, look again.”
Ned had perhaps memorized the entire scripts of the first three movie and 90% of the spaceship names and the jedi lineages.
“Uh-huh. Keep going.”
Peter didn’t want to.
“We all gotta do shit we don’t want do.”
Ned’s goal in life was to go to his wedding in a stormtrooper suit.
Every Lego project they’d built together since 13 years-old had been a Star Wars-related one. When Ned had decided to move out of his parents’ place, he’d shed actual tears over MJ and Peter mutually suggesting that he sell some of his memorabilia.
“Will this delightful buffet before our very eyes, what is the likelihood of your two pals being drunk larpers in too deep to quit?” Wade asked.
“No problem. Although, now I gotta see this. You said they were behind Kitty’s? You think I can get a stormtrooper costume in 8 hours?”
“They’re not still gonna be there, Wade,” Peter huffed. “It’s 10 am.”
“You ain’t know that. What if Luke Skywalker’s a useless drunk, huh? You ever think of that?”
“What’d he look like?”
“He looked like Luke Skywalker,” he said. “Blond hair, blue eyes—sort of like a chipmunk that forgot its stripes.”
“I’m onto you, Skywalker.”
Peter hung up to Wade’s cackle. He slouched low and tapped his pen against his desk. Then against his fingers.
He stared at the edge of his keyboard.
“What’s the weirdest thing you could imagine, Pete?” he asked himself.
PP: do you like star wars?
PP: you’re perfect
PP: do you believe in past lives?
SC: like spiritually or culturally? I know I was a cult-kid for a min there but before that we were Buddhists and like, past lives are part of the package
PP: that’s cool. What do you think of people being reborn as themselves again like, 500000000 years later? From a galaxy far far away?
SC: I don’t think about those people
PP: okay well, hypothetically. Let’s say that you were going to imagine someone who embodied that whole spirit. Who would it be?
PP: not buddha
SC: is this a riddle? Is it Jesus?
PP: THOR. Thank you this has been helpful ily bye
Mr. Stark asked him over a cup of viciously black coffee why Peter was seeking out the demigod of his present nightmares.
That usually meant that he and Thor had disagreed on basic physics principles again. Peter took that also to mean that the demigod was still in the building. Possibly loose.
“He’s with Banner,” Mr. Stark said scathingly.
“Thanks, you’re amazing,” Peter said as he sailed out of the room.
Thor was sitting on Dr. Banner’s lab table, despite Dr. Banner telling him to get off no fewer than two times in the five minutes that Peter was in there, schmoozing and making pleasantries. He warmed Thor up to the home-run hit by asking him all about past lives and present lives and what the soul was on Asgard. Thor was only too happy to explain a load of nonsense that made Banner roll his eyes and poke at his muscles with a thermometer.
“So, hypothetically speaking,” Peter drawled in a very casual lean, “With the infinite galaxies and universes, etcetera, there could be one where Star Wars people exist. And so hypothetically, they could get reborn into a universe like ours.”
Thor blinked at him.
“You remember the laser swords?” Dr. Banner deadpanned.
Thor lit up.
“I suppose it’s possible,” he told Peter indulgently. “But if that was the case then it would be a long tragedy, no?”
Say more, Thor-man.
“Well,” Thor said with a big, happy smile, “The series of events that unfolded in that story seemed to me to be one of triumph and tragedy. With one would come the other—that’s how these stories work, yes?”
“So if Master Luke Skywalker and his companions arrived into our space here, then they must experience the same in order to be themselves,” Thor said, bobbing his head in pity. “Perhaps what would look like a new start for such people would result only in terror and disappointment until the same conclusion was reached.”
Peter felt his own grin twitch.
“So it’s not impossible?” he asked.
Both Thor and Banner looked at him quizzically at the same time.
“Peter?” Dr. Banner asked. “Is this coming from somewhere?”
Peter’s grin twitched so violently, it turned into a grimace that even superstrength would not let him maintain.
“Can I borrow one of you?” he asked.
Wade was not happy to be met outside of Kitty’s in the middle of the day, especially because his stormtrooper outfit, in his words, ‘did no justice for the size of his balls.’
Peter was ignoring that. He dragged Thor past Wade’s righteous anger until he was standing on the place where the other two had stood the night before. Thor stood there gamely.
“There,” Peter said. “Any like, energy signatures?”
Thor glanced around and shrugged.
Wade scowled at him and hounded him off the spot so that he could stand there instead.
“I feel nothing,” he said, devoid of emotion.
“Same,” Thor said.
“Perhaps you are—”
The Spidey Sense smashed through all of Peter’s sense and screamed at him to get to the street.
Get to the street. Get to the street. Get to the—
Across the way. Chipmunk, no stripes.
That was the guy from the day before. He was on the opposite sidewalk smashed in with the crowd, dragging a hand through his hair and laden with a backpack and two separate totes. He was wearing a strange set of clothes—a mash of casual and formal—and seemed to be in a hurry, the type of hurry that involved pushing past folks at a half-jog and not stopping at streetlights.
“Got ‘im,” Peter hissed.
“No shit?” Wade asked over his shoulder.
Thor made a sound of interest.
“I see him, too,” he said. “What incredible energy, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Peter whirled on him.
“Don’t you fucking say that,” he warned. “I’m gonna go distract. You two, on my six.”
Peter broke four traffic laws on his way around the block. He swung himself around a corner and fucked up the collar on his labcoat and counted to four before stepping out right into ‘Luke’s path.
They collided. Luke stumbled back and dropped one of his totes.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” Peter blustered. “Are you okay?”
Luke swore and dropped down without answering, collecting the odd ends of metal that had clattered out from his bag and now rolled loose over the pavement. Peter stooped to join, gathering rings and pipes of all sorts of sizes in his hands. Oncoming folks gave them a wide berth.
It took a moment for Luke to realize what Peter was doing, but when he did, his shoulders went stiff as a board.
“DON’T TOUCH THOSE,” he snapped, just as Peter made to pick up a little plastic bag with a wad of tissue inside it.
“Oh. Sorry,” he said.
This time, Luke finally met his eye.
“Oh, Jesus. No. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that,” Luke blustered, “Thank you. I’ll—I’ve got them. Thank you, though. It’s okay.”
He took the metal out of Peter’s hands and stuffed them back into his bag. He snatched the plastic bag before Peter could touch it and put that on top.
“Excuse me,” he said as he stood. “Thanks again.”
And just like that, he hurried off past Peter down the pavement.
Peter watched him go.
“Catch?” Wade asked softly from the corner.
“Negative,” Peter said, reaching into his sleeve and holding up the thin aluminum tube he’d hidden up there by the edge of his shirt-sleeve.
It was shiny and longer than he’d expect for any plumbing project. The inside appeared to be coated with some sort of heavy, non-reactive material, and half of the outside had grooved bands carved into it.
“Someone’s building something,” he said.
“Mid-century sink?” Wade asked, taking the tube.
“Nope,” Peter said.
NL: That is a lightsaber hilt
NL: where did you get that? It’s like mega accurate. Was it etsy?
PP: I stole it
NL: give it back
PP: I can’t I stole it from Luke Skywalker.
NL: we talked about this.
PP: He’s Luke Skywalker. I swear on the grave of my mother
MJ: this is a problem. This is now an intervention.
PP: I will prove it. If he’s Luke Skywalker, then he will do ANYTHING to get this thing back.
NL: and if not?
PP: then I will wait two days before politely tracking down his home address and then I will return it via wall crawling
JS: PETER CAN YOU CALL ME?
JS: are you sure??? Because there’s a guy in Reed’s lab right now talking to him and Sue, asking SUPER politely for access to—I shit you not—the crystals we picked up from that space trip the other day???
NL: no way
PP: WHAT’S HIS NAME, JOHNNY BOY????
JS: I can’t
PP: nope you gotta
JS: I can’t I’m gonna cry I didn’t ask for this
MJ: out with it
NL: please say it’s obi-wan
JS: just a guy named Ben 🙃
PP: I told you motherfuckers
JS: right. So like. Awkward. But you uh, know that hilt thing you have?
PP: …is Obi-Wan Kenobi about to beat my ass, Johnny?
There was something about putting the hilt into the palm of someone more famous than Captain America that made Peter’s knees weak.
It did not help that Luke Skywalker had flirted with him the other night.
It did not help that Luke Skywalker didn’t recognize him as Spiderman.
Nothing helped, really, especially when those big topaz eyes lifted and Peter could see that their rims were red and raw.
“Thanks,” Luke Skywalker—the embodiment of hope itself—said in a soft, defeated rasp.
Every alarm in Peter’s head said to save him. Save him from what? How? Who knew.
Ned and MJ seemed to feel the same way, if the pressure on each of his arms was anything to go by.
“Well, that’s all cleared up, then. Thank you so much for your help; it is deeply appreciated,” a stupidly pleasant gentleman with a perfectly combed beard and lovingly coifed light hair said to the room at large.
Obi-Wan Kenobi—pardon, Ben Kennedi—was far more handsome than any movie could ever dream to make him. What they’d done to him in the 1970s, Peter saw now, was a fucking crime. He watched as this beautiful human being set a warm hand on Luke Skywalker’s—pardon, Luke Naberry’s—shoulder and used it to steer him towards the Baxter Building’s front entrance.
He watched as the two of them, like true Master and Padawan, stepped out onto the landing and opted for the stairs. For one fleeting, unbelievable second, Luke looked back over his shoulder at all of them before taking the next step after his Master.
He was right the other night.
He wasn’t the only jedi. Not anymore.
“So that just happened,” Sue acknowledged for everyone after the door had clicked closed and the sound of footsteps had faded off to nothing.
“I’m going to cry,” Reed announced.
“This is single-handedly the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Ned said.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi walked into our kitchen,” Reed told Sue like she hadn’t been there right next to him.
“The empire is trying to establish itself under our very feet,” Sue said back a little viciously.
“The real empire,” Reed whimpered.
No, go back.
“For real?” Peter asked.
Sue and Reed looked back at the rest of them and then exchanged a look.
Peter was sad now. Depressed and laid out on his side staring back at Valeria’s huge eyes on the floor while Ned and MJ and Johnny asked Reed and Sue two hundred clarifying questions.
Peter didn’t need the specifics. He was thinking back on the conversation that he’d witnessed between Luke and Han Solo—Han Solo who was tall with dark hair and dark eyes and an accent straight out of New Jersey. Solo who had probably been charged with forcing Luke to face the facts in front of all of them because he was the one who Luke trusted most.
But it had shattered them—both of them.
The New Hope had given up everything. He was tired. His heart was torn. He was jaded just like Peter had been that same night. He’d been avoiding the tightrope that Peter had already started crossing, though, probably looking for every possible way to not have to set the first foot on that wobbly line.
He’d walked it before.
Valeria reached out with a chubby, round hand and touched the side of Peter’s face.
“Spiderman,” she said with terrifying understanding, “Someone needs help.”
He wriggled in close enough to bonk heads with her.
“Baby Storm,” he whispered, “I think you’re right.”
MJ thought that Peter needed to leave things alone. She pointed out that he had plenty of problems without getting involved in universe-saving. She gestured to Johnny and volunteered him for the job.
Johnny refused on account of needing to be the prettiest blond in any room. He claimed that if he wasn’t, he had to fight for dominance.
Ned was on the other end of the spectrum. He had 43 reasons why Peter should get involved with things, and 40 of them ended up in the same place which was ‘it would be cool.’
One of Ned’s better reasons, however, involved pointing out that Peter had already stolen half of a lightsaber. He was good and involved now, whether he wanted to be or not. And that was enough for Peter to decide to go on a hunt to give a formal apology.
He recruited Ned to help him locate Luke Skywalker.
That didn’t work.
They tried Luke Naberry.
That didn’t work either.
They ended up going through every possible iteration of every Star Wars name they knew and then filtered out the people who’d been named by exuberant parents and then filtered out anyone who didn’t live in New York and they ended up with fat lot of still nothing.
It was like Luke Skywalker didn’t truly exist in this world.
Until MJ found his Instagram by typing in ‘guys who look weirdly like Luke Skywalker.’
She held the phone aloft in triumph and they all gathered round to gape in awe at her intelligence and research skills.
Luke’s Instagram was nothing but pictures of coffee.
He had one selfie and this selfie was enough to have gotten him onto a BuzzFeed article. In it he was holding—you guessed it—coffee. Iced coffee. One in each hand.
He was shaking them, and one had been labeled with his name—hence the public connection made.
“Someone needs to tell him that coffee is not a food group,” Johnny observed.
“Maybe he works nights,” MJ said.
Ned lifted an eyebrow.
“Maybe this is his job,” he said.
There was a pause.
Some snooping revealed that Luke was an honest to god food website editor. He was a cameraman.
Repeat. Luke Skywalker, cameraman. He filmed all the food hosts for his company’s Youtube channel. He edited videos. He more or less blended into the background of everything, while having his finger prints on damn near everything.
This was a man after Peter’s own soul. They were kindred spirits in hidden identities, content creation, and suffering under a boulder of responsibility too great to cope with.
He had to find him now.
And after they had his Instagram it wasn’t too hard. He seemed to hang out in various parts of the Bronx and Peter just so happened to know some folks out that way.
Louis told Peter that he would never speak to him again if he found, befriended, and then didn’t share Luke Skywalker (the man, the real man, I’m not fucking with you, Louis). But he also recognized a place on Luke’s instagram that he seemed to be working his way through the menu of. He sent along an address and told Peter not to forget his promises.
Angel asked why he was looking for Johnny Storm in the Bronx.
Peter left Louis to rattle sense into her.
He took a walk on Saturday morning. A long walk. A long train ride, then a walk, then a half hour of squinting, and then, lo and behold, he found a blond guy banging his head into the center of an out door metal table across from a woman with heavy braids trailing down the sides of her neck. She was much older than him and drummed white-painted fingernails across her cheek as she thought.
Peter hid and called Ned and MJ for an ID. He peeked the phone’s camera out enough for them to see the other two and then snatched it back.
Ned was about to flip a table.
“That’s clearly Ahsoka Tano,” he said. “She—the braids, dude. Dead give-away. And she put ribbons in them, like what even is discretion?”
Peter didn’t know that person. He continued not to know this person, even as Ned dragged him through a trainwreck of Star Wars lore.
“So she’s a friend,” he said.
“She’s like a jedi, but not like a jedi, she was a jedi, but then she said ‘fuck the order’ and—”
Great. Peter was approaching.
Ned held his face in his hands. MJ told Peter to report back on his findings. Peter ended the call and inched closer, weaving through the crowd and slipping into the coffee joint to see what nonsense they were selling.
It was nonsense with lots of syrup. He could never say no to syrup.
He watched the two outside while waiting for his order. Luke gesticulated to his friend and she spoke, giving reasonable gestures back. He stopped her and dug out his phone and that little plastic baggy full of fluffy material. He answered his phone. His friend took the little bag and held it up to the light.
She frowned at it.
Luke pushed away from the table and walked away to take his call. Peter’s order was called. He grabbed it and swerved out towards the patio.
“Hello,” he said at the edge of Luke and his friend’s table. “Is this seat taken?”
Luke’s friend stared at him.
“It is,” she said. “Move along, hon, you’re ten years too young.”
“For your friend?” Peter tried. “Could I leave my number?”
He had this lady’s attention now. She was looking him up and down, appraising. Peter tried not to flex. He stayed cool. Matt-levels of cool. He smiled winningly.
“Alright, why not?” she said, digging through her bag for a receipt and a pen. Peter beamed as he leaned down to scrawl his number down on the back. He got halfway through before he heard a step stop nearby.
“Look alive, kid,” Luke’s friend said. “Hey, Luke, this guy was just—”
“You again?” Luke said.
Peter lifted his head and brows.
“Hi,” he said. “I just wanted to apologize.”
There was a long silence.
Luke’s friend looked between them and then gave Luke a long, judgmental stare.
“You don’t have to,” Luke said. “Thanks, though. How did you find me here?”
Mmm. Beginner’s luck.
“Here,” Peter said, offering his number on the receipt. “If you ever need someone to talk to who gets it.”
Luke’s friend bit her lip and looked away in secondhand embarrassment. Peter ignored her for now.
“Thanks,” Luke said. “You don’t and you won’t. But you’re very pretty.”
“You’d be surprised,” Peter told him. “Gimme a text. I’ll leave y’all alone now. Enjoy your coffee.”
He left. But not before hearing, “but that ass, Luke.”
Ned told him that there was no way that Luke was ever going to text him and he was disappointed in Peter’s hostage-taking skills.
But he was proved wrong two hours later and, for his crimes, had to admit Peter’s brilliance publicly.
LS: hi sorry. This is Luke. This morning when you stopped by our table, did you happen to see a little plastic bag on it?
Why yes. The one in Peter’s pocket right now? That bag?
PP: hi!! I did, actually. You guys aren’t very subtle 😏
LS: it’s not coke
PP: I’m not judging
LS: no, it’s not coke, I swear. It’s something INFINITELY more important. Did you happen to see if it had fallen on the ground?
PP: ah, no, sorry. I didn’t see it
PP: OH NO
PP: oh my god I’m so sorry, I think I took it with me when I accidentally took your friend’s pen.
LS: what’s your name?
PP: Peter ❤
LS: Peter, you have a fucking problem
LS: I’m starting to think that you want something from me. And listen, you’re a handsome guy, but I’m not available and my type isn’t kleptomaniac. What do you want for it?
PP: well you got me
PP: to talk
LS: about what?
PP: mostly about why you look like you’re a wet phonebook in a bad gutter
LS: a phonebook???? What era are you even from????
PP: I could say the same to you, sir.
LS: alright touche. The point is that I’m not going to talk to you. I just need that bag back. It’s a life and death situation.
PP: what are they? They aren’t coke crystals.
LS: how would you know?
PP: what are you, a cop?
LS: NO. This is going nowhere. What. Do. You. Want?
PP: To. Talk.
LS: I’m not going to talk to you.
PP: then why did you ask me to rescue you?
He held his breath.
LS: I didn’t
PP: you did
LS: I didn’t ask you for shit. This is it. What’s your last name.
PP: Man 😊
LS: Man what
PP: That’s my last name.
LS: Peter Man.
PP: oop, nope, sorry. That’s someone else.
LS: …so I’m calling the police, now. That’s what we’re saying?
PP: depends. Do you still need to be rescued?
Come on, Skywalker. Come on, remember.
LS: I never asked you to rescue me.
PP: You did. Think back.
LS: I didn’t
LS: I just made a joke to
LS: WHAT AFAJSDFA DTTH E FUCK
Peter cackled and let himself fall onto his back.
PP: Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii ❤
PP: Just your friendly neighborhood guy ❤
LS: THAT’s how the storms knew you
PP: yep 💋
LS: I don’t even know what to say
PP: it’s okay, you don’t have to say shit. The main thing I wanted you to know was that I hear you. And if you need it, I’ve got you.
LS: You’re literally trying to rescue me??
PP: it’s my job
LS: IT ISN’T. How have you never been arrested? how did you find me? Did you track my phone? Is it some kind of spider thing???
LS: I am legally obligated to kill you with the force now
PP: harder daddy
LS: oh my god Han is going to lose his gourd
LS: I’m sorry I just I can’t believe you of all people stole my damn hilt
PP: I’ve got……………………..sticky fingers
LS: go die
LS: no I didn’t mean that sorry that’s a thing with me and my sister. I mean, okay. You got me. Hero of NYC.
Peter’s cheeks were starting to hurt.
PP: I’ll bring them back to you.
LS: Please do, Ben’s about to have a stroke.
PP: you mean obi-wan?
LS: he’s convinced his cat ate them. There’s a staring contest happening. No one has blinked in two minutes and I don’t want to be here for the internal investigation.
PP: where do you live?
Luke sent an address. Peter held his phone high and walked it into the living room where Ned was bitchily composing an Instagram post. He and MJ looked up at the same time.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Peter said. “Luke Skywalker and Co. live in a cemetery.”
It wasn’t a cemetery. It was a funeral home, but close enough.
Luke was waiting outside on the stoop in a cardigan about four sizes too big for him. It was there probably to protect him from the equally large ragdoll cat in his arms.
Peter smiled. Luke stared at him and then shook his head and went through the screen door. Ned gave Peter a biting look.
“Made friends, I see,” he said.
“We’re doin’ great,” Peter told him, hopping up the stairs. “Look at us, totally—”
Peter stopped and turned nervously to see through the screen door where Obi-Wan Kenobi had seized both of the cat’s cheeks. Luke continued to hold it with maximum doneness levels.
“Where have you been?” Obi-Wan asked the cat seriously.
“We have guests,” Luke said. “Take your beast.”
Obi-Wan snatched the cat out of Luke’s arms with contempt all over his face.
“You are a villain of the highest order,” he told it.
“Ben. Guests. Please evacuate. I am hosting negotiations,” Luke said.
“We should have named you ‘Sith.’”
Peter was not going to laugh at Obi-Wan Kenobi. That was too surreal.
“Come in,” Luke said, returning to hold open the screen. “I hope you’re not allergic. There are two of them.”
“The other one is Junior.”
Peter stepped over the threshold and found himself in a room that looked like a human birdhouse. It was full of surfaces that were almost completely empty, as though an enrichment object had once lived there but had been removed as punishment. Luke waved Ned and MJ in and accepted their apologies on Peter’s behalf.
Peter ignored them to lock eyes with a creature more stunning than any he had ever encountered. It sat on the kitchen counter by a single clear jar labelled ‘Not Spice.’ It blinked grumpy green eyes.
“Oh, it’s these people again?”
They all looked behind them to see Obi-Wan peering around a doorframe with the first cat draped over his shoulders.
“Kleptomaniac,” Luke said, pointing at Peter. Peter waved.
“Huh,” Obi-Wan said simply. “I will distract Ahsoka.”
He vanished. Luke grimaced after him.
“Let’s go talk in the back,” he said. “There are no bodies, I promise.”
The funeral home had a little deck and a yard small even for this far out in Queens. It was crammed full of plants that appeared to be in a competition to bloom. Luke invited them to sit and then left to make coffee.
Coffee, yes, how had Peter forgotten.
He peeked over the side of the deck down where there was a large stone set in the center of the garden.
“A seeing stone,” Ned whispered to him.
“Oh, how did you know?”
They all jumped.
Peter swore that Obi-Wan hadn’t opened that sliding door. How had—what—
Ned was at a loss for words in the face of one of his greatest heroes.
“I—uh. M-movie? I mean, sorry. It was in The Mandalorian, second season, with the—”
“Yet more television,” Obi-Wan said derisively.
They all stared.
“Can you teleport?” MJ asked him.
“I thought you were bothering Ahsoka?” Luke asked, from inside. He squeezed past the man and his cat with three glass mugs in hand. He set them down on the little square table off to the side of the desk railing.
“I was, but then I got curious,” Obi-Wan said. “And I lost Junior.”
Luke stared at him.
“I’m going to lock you in the basement,” he said.
“Try, try, and try again,” Obi-Wan told him, petting his beloved cat’s head.
“Do you even know who Spiderman is, old man?”
“That’s what I thought.”
Peter had to keep a conscious watch on his jaw, lest it fall open in the face of the most handsome, clueless man on the planet. He watched as Obi-Wan, disgusted with all this ‘television’ nonsense skulked back off into the guts of the home. Luke shut the door behind him.
“So,” he said, holding out his hand. “We’re talking. Fork ‘em.”
Fair was fair.
Peter produced the plastic bag from his pocket and handed it over. There was a shout somewhere inside followed by someone going ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’
“Ben keeps our home ghost free. He terrifies all the wannabee haunters,” Luke said simply. “Thank you for these. I imagine it’s somewhat of a shock to learn that it’s all real.”
It was, but it wasn’t the weirdest thing Peter had encountered by far.
“How long have you lived in New York?” he asked conversationally.
Luke gave him a weird brow.
He seemed smaller than before in that enormous cardigan. Certainly smaller than the movies made him seem. His face was a little thinner too, and his lips seemed to slope into an almost permanent pout.
“About twenty years,” he said. “We were born in California, but Anakin moved us here when we were eight.”
Anakin? Like, Darth Vader, Anakin?
“’Luke, I am your father’—yeah, that guy,” Luke said with a scoff. “Except, you know, he ain’t dead. And he’s the only one who can make Ben remember that tea isn’t a meal, so we keep him around for that and to scream back at Leia.”
Peter was already completely lost to the dynamics of this household. It wasn’t like the books and movies—Ned’s twitching for his phone to take notes was proof enough of that.
“That’s awkward,” MJ said. “So did y’all do like, collective counselling for the past life shit?”
Luke deflated and moaned into his hands.
“It’s not past life shit if your damn name is the same,” he said. “It’s complicated.”
It sounded like it.
Imagine growing up with your apparently-Star War-obsessed father and uncle who’d built a home and a business (presumably) around that shit, only to find out later that they’d done it because it was literally their religion.
What a trip.
“When did you find out?” Peter asked gently.
“Oh, you know. Last week,” Luke said with a bitter grin. “Quit my fulltime job. Dumped my ex. Broke my lease and now here I am. Once again. Back at this place.”
“Do you want a hug?” Ned asked into the awkward silence.
“You’re very sweet,” Luke said. “If I touch another human, I will start crying and never stop.”
Barely holdin’ on by a thread there, buddy? How’s the hyperawareness going?
“Why does it matter, is my question. For you, I mean,” Luke said with a suspicious squint. “You fought a goblin guy, didn’t you? With a hover board?”
Yeah, Peter sure had done that.
“And like, the bird dude? Didn’t you down a plane?”
But Luke had blown up the Deathstar, no?
“These things are not equivalent,” Luke said flatly. “I joined a rebel alliance. There were loads of us.”
Mmm. Perhaps so.
“God, how old are you even? You look 22.”
“I’m 27,” he said.
Luke did a double-take.
“That’s a lie,” he accused. “Tell the truth or be compelled.”
“By the Force?” Ned asked hopefully.
Luke blinked at him. He pointed at the glass sliding door which revealed Obi-Wan holding Junior the cat above his head by the kitchen sink.
“The Force,” he said.
Ned’s face fell.
“Do we not have the Force, here?” he asked.
“Listen,” he said abruptly, “We’re workin’ on it. This isn’t our original galaxy. The rules are all different. The only one who’s managed to make even a spark happen is Obi-Wan so far, but as soon as we find Master Yoda, it’s over. We’ll already have won.”
“You lost Yoda,” MJ mused.
Luke stammered and caught himself.
“We lost a lot of people,” he snapped. “It happens when you shift galaxies. Anyways, that’s what the stone is for.”
MJ glanced back at the stone and then leaned her forearms onto the small table.
“So, let me get this straight,” she said. “You jedi folks all popped up over here by some cosmic accident. You don’t have the Force. Most of you don’t even remember who you are. You lost your most experienced Master, and you’re going to fight the Sith?”
Peter stirred his coffee nervously.
Luke’s eye twitched.
“We don’t need the others,” he said. “We only need the Force. To fight the Sith. Yes.”
MJ frowned deep and held her chin with both hands.
“So you need the thing you for sure don’t have the most,” she said.
Luke opened his mouth, but not before the window by the door snapped open and Obi-Wan leaned out to say, “We always have the Force.”
Luke covered his face in despair.
“I was listening from the kitchen window,” Obi-Wan told him lovingly.
“GO FIND CODY ALREADY,” Luke roared at him.
“I did, he’s right here,” Obi-Wan said soothingly, stroking his angry cat.
“The other Cody.”
“Oh, I am trying, don’t you worry.”
“Ben, so help me God—”
“SO HELP ME FORCE—”
Star Wars had really left out the part about Luke’s explosive temper. Peter winced, but Ned laughed and the sound seemed to have a calming effect on Jedi-on-Jedi crime about to take place in the kitchen. Obi-Wan appeared pleased with this development and emboldened. He wove past Luke out onto the desk and came over, cat and all, to point down to the seeing stone in the middle of the garden.
“Others who feel the Force’s energy will be drawn to it,” he told Ned fondly. “It’s how we got Luke back home.”
“It’s not,” Luke said. “You called me.”
“And so others will also come,” Obi-Wan said with confidence. “The most important thing is that we believe in the Force. And from that, we will find guidance and power and—”
“He means Yoda,” Luke translated. “He’s been putting frogs on it as an offering, even though me, Ahsoka, and Anakin told him that this is a human’s world. A human’s world, Ben. Even if he did eat them, he’s not eating them raw.”
“Don’t be discouraged by Luke’s attitude, he is very stressed,” Obi-Wan told Ned and Ned only affectionately. “I told him not to be, you see there are four of us here already, and the Chosen One is among us.”
“Anakin told you to stop calling him that,” Luke moaned, massaging his temples.
“He was the first to be aware of our present situation,” Obi-Wan said.
“He took a hallucinogen and had a paranoid breakdown,” Luke pleaded. “Ben, please. Go inside. Think of your blood pressure.”
“Perhaps, but it was a useful breakdown, was it not?”
“I am so sorry for him, he’s getting senile,” Luke said to the rest of them.
“Your energy is different,” Obi-Wan informed Peter out of absolutely nowhere. “Are you also Force-sensitive? Were you drawn to the stone?”
“He’s Spiderman,” Luke said, gesturing pointedly. “Remember Spiderman?”
Obi-Wan did not. Peter suspected, actually, that Obi-Wan still used phonebooks, if he used phones at all, that was.
Luke took a deep breath and let it out.
“Okay, let me just lay it out,” he said. “We’re doing the best we can with what we have. You don’t have to get involved with this. We appreciate your help, but what would help us even more is if you stay out of it, alright?”
Yeah, okay. Sure. Peter could respect that.
“Amazing. And don’t tell other people.”
“Unless they’re Force-sensitive,” Obi-Wan said. “In which case, ask them how they feel about rocks.”
Luke just stared at him coldly this time.
“You didn’t used to be like this,” he said dangerously.
“No, I used to be stressed,” Obi-Wan told him. “But you and Ani are doing that for me, so I have resolved to be a free spirit. Nice to meet all of you. Have more coffee. I don’t like this one; I will have it out of the house by sundown.”
He left, and possibly for good this time. No one knew what to say in his absence.
“So,” Peter tried, desperate for something to break up the tension. “You said a few days ago that you were looking for someone?”
Luke finally stopped making growling faces towards the sliding door. He lit up like a bulb.
“I am, actually,” he said.
Luke was looking for a very particular person named ‘Din.’ He described him as ‘six feet tall and covered in armor.’ He asked if they knew of such a person.
Peter had to shove a hand against his mouth in case he made an unwanted connection between this description and Obi-Wan behavior.
“Haven’t,” MJ said. “Who is he?”
“My husband,” Luke said.
MJ tilted her head.
“You have a husband?” she asked. “I would have remembered a husband in that series.”
Luke leaned his chin on his palm and gazed sideways over the city. He seemed to sigh.
“I don’t know why he isn’t connected to me in the media created here,” he said. “It’s probably because he’s always been very shy.”
Oh, aw. Peter loved that. The contrast between them was heart-warming.
“We had a son together,” Luke said. “His child. He brought him to me. One of my students, at first.”
Hang on a minute here.
Peter exchanged a glance with Ned. Ned tried very hard to pick a way to approach this sensitively. He landed on asking, “What was his name again?”
“Din,” Luke said. “Din Djarin.”
“He was a Mandalorian,” Luke explained. “Very, very, very shy. Like, he would rather chew off his own leg than make small talk with a stranger. I think, before I knew all this, I was still subconsciously looking for him. All my exes are the same type.”
Okay, so like.
Did these people own a TV?
“Do we look like we own a TV?” Luke deadpanned. “No. If Ben senses anything bigger than a datapad happening in this place, he’s driven to madness and breaks it.”
“He doesn’t actually break it,” Luke sighed. “He just finds a way to make it unusable—putting clothes on it, disconnecting the monitor, that kind of thing. He thinks they waste electricity.”
What a guy. Peter wanted to put him and May in a room and see what conspiracies they could spin together.
“Why do you ask?” Luke asked.
Ned cleared his throat.
“Do you have a, uh, datapad, then?” he asked.
“DIN. That’s DIN. He’s got his own show. Oh my god, that’s—stay right there. Don’t move.”
Bless this man. Peter wanted to hug him so bad. They’d lost him to the staircase leading up from the second floor to the attic. Peter wondered who he was showing the tablet to.
“I told you this already,” a voice up there said.
“LOOK AT HIM.”
“You’re killin’ me, smalls. We had this exact conversation last week. Did you forget?”
“You knew where he was.”
“Alright, alright. Downward march.”
Anakin fucking Skywalker came down the stairs with a handful of Luke’s shirt in one hand and the tablet shoved under his other arm. He paused and frowned at the three of them in the kitchen frozen in shock, and then apparently decided that that didn’t matter. He carried on dragging Luke with him towards the kitchen counter. He dropped the tablet onto it and Peter realized that the lower half of his sleeve on that side was empty.
He watched as the guy let go of Luke and chased the not-angry cat off the counter, cursing.
“Alright, this?” he said, tapping on the tablet. “Is the link I put here.” He rapped the same finger on what Peter now saw was a whiteboard covered in rows upon rows of symbols that he’d never seen before.
“Din here? Din here. You see?” Vader told Luke with untold patience.
“I can’t read that,” Luke moaned. “You lied to me.”
“It’s up in the kitchen, Luke.”
“You’re a liar and a cad. Do it in Basic.”
“This is Basic.”
Oh, dear. All that fanfic about Luke meeting Darth Vader and having a breakdown was looking real embarrassed now, wasn’t it?
“If it’s Basic, why can’t I read it?” Luke demanded.
“Because, like I told you last night, the night before, and the night before that,” Vader said painstakingly, “It doesn’t all come back at once. It’s going to take time.”
“We don’t have time,” Luke snapped.
Vader leaned his head back with half-lidded eyes. Luke didn’t look even remotely like his kid, even with him looking all pre-quels-like now.
“We talked about this, too, remember?” Vader asked.
Obviously not. Luke was distressed. He had eyes only for the tablet now.
“No, of course not, silly me,” Vader said. “Why are humans here?”
“Ahsoka went home,” Luke said.
“Thank you, that was not my question.”
“What was your question?”
“Why are non-order humans here?”
“I told you, Ahsoka went—”
“Son, I will kill you if you continue to act like Obi-Wan,” Vader said without missing a beat.
“You can try,” Luke said offhandedly. “But only one of us has two handed grip.”
There was a long stare.
“It’s Obi-Wan,” Vader told him. “Why do we have living guests?”
He gestured back to Peter, Ned, and MJ like they were flies on a set of blinds.
“Oh, because that’s Spiderman and he stole your kyber crystals,” Luke said.
Vader rounded on Peter, and Peter actually felt fear.
Vader blinked once.
“This may as well happen,” he decided somehow placidly. “I’m going back upstairs. Where did your grand-master go?”
“Into the mist,” Luke said. “Can you feel Din?”
“When the Force chooses you first out of favoritism, can you feel for Din?”
“Ah yes, can I feel for your Force-repellant life partner with all of the Force energy that I do not have? Yes, I sure can.”
“Anytime, primary monstrosity of my loins.”
This felt a little hostile for Peter’s tastes. Not that it wasn’t earned. Clearly it was earned. It was just horrifying.
“Guests, you are dismissed,” Vader said in their direction. “Unless you’re drawn to the rock outside, in which case, you may stay. Otherwise, do not darken this doorstep again, or else we will leave you with the other dead in the morgue.”
“Thanks for bringing the crystals,” Luke said from behind him. “And for talking. I do feel better, actually.”
They left the funeral home. Obi-Wan was outside by the mailbox as though waiting for them. Peter wasn’t sure he had any emotional energy left to approach him with.
“Thank you for speaking to Luke,” he said as the three of them attempted to pass unnoticed. “It’s good for him to talk to others his own age.”
Uh-huh. Good night, sir?
“Good night, Peter, Ned, and Michelle.”
They hadn’t given their names.
They definitely hadn’t given their names.
Ned wasn’t sleeping for two years. He made this clear with a lot of clapping gestures and then rolled around on the floor, talking about all kinds of shit that Peter couldn’t decipher. MJ watched him and flicked her eyes up to Peter with concern on her forehead.
“That family is cinematically dysfunctional,” she said.
“They’re barely their own characters.”
Peter wasn’t sure. The best he could think of was to just keep an eye on the situation. Maybe check in every couple of weeks?
“If you say so,” MJ said. “I think you made Ned’s life, by the way. Good job.”
Peter tried checking in every two weeks. It started because he happened to hear of a tunnel collapsing in Queens nearby the funeral home. He texted Luke to ask if he needed a save and all he got back was a ‘well, not anymore.’
After that, Peter kept a close eye on happenstances occurring around the city. There were more than he bargained for. And when he glanced at Luke’s Instagram after the first week after the tunnel collapse, he noted that two of the nails on the hand Luke held his coffee to the camera with had gone completely black.
That was worrying.
Peter was used to be the danger-prone asshole in his friendgroup. He did not like this role-reversal. MJ asked him sarcastically what the problem was.
He texted Luke again.
PP: how many nails do you have left bro?
LS: we put a hole in one to release the pressure
PP: that don’t sound great bro.
LS: it’s fine. Oh, but good news
LS: the most predictable thing ever has happened. The Vader has regained force power
PP: that’s worrying
LS: ? why?
PP: won’t he go dark?
LS: ah, no. He fucked up and raised me and Leia with Ben this time after our mom died. He had his chance to go dark and traded it for 8 consecutive hours of sleep instead.
PP: I truly don’t know what to say
LS: It’s fine we did 12 years of family therapy after the accident so we are no longer on the DSS watchlist
PP: I know less what to say
LS: he won’t find din :/
PP: is that your priority right now?
LS: aren’t you supposed to be spiderman or something? Don’t you have chaotic things to say?
PP: you know normally I do, this is literally out of character for me. but I think you also might be absorbing my chaos.
LS: that’s fair. I have that effect on people. Hey, is your buddy Ned available to chat? He knows more than I can remember about my old life. Can I borrow him?
That sounded like a horrendous decision.
PP: yeah let me get you his number.
Ned reported a few days later that his services were needed at the funeral home. He was leaving them all now to befriend Luke Skywalker as was his true destiny.
He came back a few hours later and reported that his services had been helpful and he was pleased to say that Darth Vader was now the official herder of ‘wans’ in the house. This included all Obi-Wans and padawans.
He seemed to be the only guy there who could like, retain information given to him for some reason. He accepted this as his lot in life and went around repeating the same things to the others ad nauseum until they finally stuck for them.
Peter wondered if that was his personal hell.
Ned didn’t think so. He thought the guy was pretty chill about it and had probably been doing it for a while now. He did it more for Ahsoka Tano and Luke than he did for Obi-Wan. Although that was probably because Obi-Wan appeared to be on a hunt that made all non-relevant information given to him slip off his back like water.
Another two weeks. Another text.
PP: hey luke, I saw you drowning on the news. You okay?
LS: GOD my ex-workplace keeps calling welfare checks on our house. We’ve had more cops here then flies these last few days.
PP: ex-workplace is one way to refer to your old job. Sounds like they cared about you. What did you do?
LS: preschool teacher.
Peter was going to lose his shit right here on this bed.
PP: was that your calling?
LS: that was Luke Naberry’s calling. Luke Skywalker’s calling is to make the lightsaber go vrrrrrrm
PP: you honestly terrify me
LS: thanks han says the same thing. OH. HE FOUND CHEWIE.
PP: no shit??
LS: yeah I told Ned, not you. But yeah. He found him lugging boxes for a bodega. And now they both work at the same bodega. Which like, objectively, is a bad thing because Han was a UN translator.
LS: I know he was all respectable and shit. It was awful. I can look at him again without feeling like I’ve failed in every part of my life.
PP: dare I ask what your sister does?
PP: not senator?
LS: we’re not old enough to be senators.
PP: every moment becomes more concerning than the next. You fascinate me. This is why they put you in like, all the films.
LS: because I’m sexy yeah
PP: that too
LS: not to you. I’m off-limits bub. I’m married.
PP: how’s that going for you?
PP: I see. So no Din yet?
LS: I will find him if it kills me
PP: that’s so romantic. Hey you should watch that series. They gave him a little green yoda in it. Really cute.
LS: that’s my son you piece of shit
There was no winning here.
MJ asked him a few weeks later if he was still keeping up with the Jedi drama since the whole city had recently decided that Peter was a snack.
Obviously he hadn’t.
She told him not to worry, Ned had. She told him to talk to Ned, so he went and talked to Ned with a heatpad in one hand and a coldpack in the other.
Ned patted at him sympathetically and informed him that Luke had reunited with the Force. It was going poorly for him, mostly because the Force wasn’t used to people being in touch with it in these parts of the universe. It kept telling each of the jedi that there was a disturbance and then luring them to each other to fight to the death.
Luke described it as the Force-equivalent of an auto-immune disease.
They’d taken to gathering in the living room of the funeral home to meditate in a circle, as though to calm the Force’s anxiety while scenting each other for protection.
It had a 40% success rate. Everyone was sleeping in locked rooms for the time being, just in case someone got compelled to do something rash.
Peter asked Ned if he’d finally lost his crown as King Chaos of NYC.
Ned patted him on the knee more firmly than before and said that he could regain his crown by introducing a calming element into the jedi household.
Peter had his pride to defend, so he asked what that element ought to be.
Din Djarin, the Mandalorian, the leader of all Mandalorians, was bound to have a name that looked nothing like the one they had for him. Luke nearly exploded when Peter approached him to asked him (and his taped fingers) more about who Din Djarin was outside the name.
They proceeded with caution, however. So far, Peter and Ned had discovered only dissonance between Luke’s account of his life partner (his ‘heart, stars, sun, and sand’) and the guy on the screen for the tv show. That was to be expected, given that they had met Luke now and learned of his somewhat explosive personality.
But even still, Luke’s description of Din Djarin as ‘kind, compassionate, tender, shy, emotionally stable, dependable, sweet, caring, and hunky’ seemed slightly biased.
Peter just wanted to know how tall this guy was. Hair color. Eye color. Skin color. Blood type. That kind of shit.
Luke said that Din had brown hair, brown eyes, Type Who Knows What blood, and was about six feet tall. He had no idea how much he weighed. He’d never had need for that information. He knew that Din was human, which was probably helpful in a galaxy far, far away. He knew that he spoke Mando’a as his first language, then Basic, then a whopping fifteen others. And he knew that Din was probably looking after their son.
Vader asked Peter over a mug of coffee (also labeled in the funeral home’s cabinet as ‘not spice.’) if Spidersenses could overcome a dearth of information. It took Peter a few moments to realize that he was sympathizing with him.
“You’re not going to find Din,” Vader told Luke. “You need to look for the kid. You’ll find the kid first, you always have.”
Luke took his coffee and poured it down the drain.
Peter decided that he didn’t want to get in between that burgeoning battle. He told Luke to text him if he remembered anything else.
Wade was pissed that Peter had been meeting and ‘cavorting’ with Luke Skywalker without him. He claimed ownership of the Din Djarin mystery in order to cram himself into Luke’s good graces. But quickly, he ran into the same stumbling blocks as Peter.
Din Djarin was six feet tall with brown eyes and brown hair.
That was what they currently had to go on.
Wade would have torn out his hair if he had any, but he stopped himself and accepted the challenge. Peter watched over his shoulder as he chicken-pecked his way into a list of social security numbers held by the NYC State ID issuing department and started methodically filtering names that did not sound like ‘Din.’
He started broad with all ‘D’s and then narrowed it down further and further and further until he was left with a shitload of Daniels.
He stared at the screen before him and vibrated.
Peter massaged his shoulders before he cracked.
It helped. Wade started filtering by height, then by eye color. Then by hair, and only ended up with several hundred people.
He vibrated again, but this time, Peter couldn’t help him.
He sighed. Wade said that there had to be a better way to do this. He got up.
Wade made about four thousand missing posters with the name Din Djarin on them which he recruited the whole team to plaster up around NYC. This was not a request.
Miles asked him why they were doing this for a tv character and had to be let in on the gig.
He lost his shit.
Louis tried to retain his shit.
Angel still didn’t know how the whole jedi thing worked.
Dave hummed and haw’ed and took his time in calling bullshit. Wade asked him to look deep into his eyes and ask if he was entertaining bullshit that fine evening.
Dave changed his opinion and took a stack.
There was no way that shit was supposed to work. There was just no way. A) because Wade had the worst ideas of all mankind and B) because Peter had the worst luck of all mankind. So the two of them together should have destroyed all the prospects of success for that job.
But instead, while they were hatching a new plot involving setting up a sham sociological study for people who responded to Star Wars names, Wade’s phone went off.
He grabbed it and opened the message and lo and behold right there was a note that read,
“I hope you are not a reporting body because this is going to sound certifiably insane, but I think I might be the guy you’re looking for?”
Peter scolded him not to get too excited too soon. They had to see the man first.
Wade texted furiously, asking for a picture and got a message back that said, “please do not dox me.”
They got no answer until Wade promised not to dox the guy.
And then they got an image of a man with brown hair and brown eyes with olive skin. His face was remarkably square. The picture wasn’t just him, though, he had in his arms a little boy with a head covered in tight ringlets. His eyes were so dark they were nearly black and he was maybe two years old.
The caption said, “apologies, my son needed to be in the picture.”
Wade cooed and entered Dad Mode to ask how old the baby was and what he liked to do and Peter lost the fathers to that small talk for a while before Wade oh-so-casually asked, “So you feel like you’re from outer space?”
“It sounds strange,” the guy on the other said wrote back, “But I do. Like every day I wake up and look in the mirror and something is wrong. I feel like I’m always forgetting something when I leave the house. I watched the tv show of the guy who’s name was on your fliers and the kid in it reminds me so much of my son. It’s eerie. They make the same sounds. He made the same sounds before we even watched that show.”
“I think this is him, Pete,” he said. “He called Baby Yoda a ‘kid’ not a yoda.”
Peter stared. He hadn’t even caught that. That was smart as hell.
“So what now?” he asked.
“Get Skywalker to send you a selfie,” he said.
PP: Luke are you pretty right now?
LS: My face is intact
PP: take a selfie and send it to me
LS: cannot do that. Face is intact is a baseline situation. Let me find an old one. Oh, they all have my ex in them. This is awkward.
PP: it doesn’t matter I can crop it.
LS: no I have to be cute or I’ll perish hold on
PP: are you sure you’re not Johnny Storm?
LS: yes, he’s got loads of muscles. Sent.
Luke looked very smiley in it. His eyes were blown out from the lighting, but it showed his sloping smile and his low, back-set dimples. Peter sent it to Wade. Wade sent it to his new friend.
They waited five minutes.
Then half an hour.
Then nearly two.
And finally, Wade’s phone rang. He picked it up and set it on speaker so that Peter could hear.
“Hello?” Wade said.
There was a long pause.
“Where did you get that picture?” a low, almost smoky voice demanded on the other side.
“A friend,” Wade said sleazily. “You know him? He’s a cute little thing, ain’t he?”
It took the dude on the other side of the line worryingly long to respond.
“What do you want?” he finally asked.
Wade brought his head down in interest.
“What’re you willing do to?” he asked.
They waited. Peter didn’t know what was taking this guy so long to—
That sounded about right.
“You know his name?” he asked.
“I do,” the man said.
“What’s his name then, pal?” Wade asked.
“It’s none of your fucking business.”
Holy shit. Holy shit. Peter clutched the back of the couch. Wade was grinning so hard, Peter could see it through his mask.
“You want him, you need to show me that you know who he is,” Wade said. “I ain’t got ‘im here, but I know where he is. Come on, big boy. Who is he?”
Peter could hear the man take in a deep, shaky breath.
“His name is Luke,” Din fucking Djarin, the Mandalorian himself, said.
Din fucking Djarin’s name at the moment was Danny Jabaran. He stood six feet tall with a medium build and that baby of his in his arms.
He was not afraid of Wade.
He was not afraid of Peter.
The suits didn’t scare him; this man was a space warrior. The leader of the space warriors. Peter was humbled to stand in his presence, old jeans and tattoos and all.
“Vigilantes,” he acknowledged.
“Deadpool,” Wade said, offering a hand. “And this is?”
“Grogu,” Djarin said.
Baby Yoda lifted his big liquid eyes up to Wade and blinked twice. Then he wriggled around and hid in Djarin’s neck. Djarin put a hand on his back and didn’t drop eye contact.
“Tell me everything,” Djarin said.
Ned screamed. Michelle screamed. Peter reminded them that he had neighbors and invited Mr. Mand’alor to sit on the couch for a bit while he called Luke.
Michelle claimed the spot next to Djarin and asked Baby Yoda Grogu for his little hand. He studied her and hid again, making a prolonged sound of distress that Djarin cut off by saying, “Hey. Manners.”
This somehow made baby Grogu turn back to Michelle to stare at her offered hand.
He took it. She shook with him and then took hers away.
Grogu perked up and reached for it again.
“You’re the Mandalorian,” Ned said.
Djarin looked right at him.
“A Mandalorian,” he corrected.
Ned blinked back tears.
“You’re so cool,” he creaked.
“You...are too?” he tried.
Ned wept into a fist.
Peter left them to call Luke in his bedroom. Luke picked up on the third ring with the start of an ingrained greeting that sounded a whole lot like a customer service recording. He caught himself, though.
“I have someone I’d like you to talk to,” Peter said. “I think you might want to sit down.”
Luke’s unusual quiet on the other side made Peter grin.
“Are you sitting?” he asked.
“Alright, one moment,” Peter said, walking out into the living room. Djarin had edged far, far away from Ned, as far as he possibly could without being rude. He looked up when Peter came over and sat down on the arm next to him.
“Say hi,” Peter said.
Djarin frowned at him and then the phone.
“Who’s that?” he asked.
Peter waited. Djarin lifted his head over to see the phone’s screen.
“Hello?” he tried.
The Spidey Sense crashed through Peter like a tidal wave.
Djarin had gone completely still.
“Din? Is that you? Can you hear me?”
“Shit,” Djarin said, lifting a hand to cover his eyes. “Goddamnit. Jesus.”
“Dank Fucking Farrik.”
“Oh my god.”
Baby Grogu’s face snapped toward the phone with huge eyes. He grabbed at Djarin’s collar, then his jaw and started bouncing a little in his arms.
“Bu?” he asked.
Djarin couldn’t make himself move.
“Grogu?” Luke asked. “Hey, baby, is that you, bubba?”
Grogu grabbed Djarin’s face urgently, so that he couldn’t hide his raw eyes anymore.
He pointed at the phone.
“Yeah, I hear ‘im, kid,” Djarin said.
“Ah. That’s not ours. We don’t grab. We ask,” Djarin reminded as Grogu pleaded for the phone. Peter snickered and gave it to him. He just held it, staring.
“Do you wanna see him?” Peter asked. “Luke, can we maybe video chat?”
“Y-yeah,” Luke said. “Hold on. Oh god, my face. Uh, hey Din are you still near-sighted, hon?”
Djarin huffed a laugh that turned into a whole-body tremor.
“I got contacts,” he said a little hysterically.
“You got WHAT?” Luke yipped, “Okay, no. No, I gotta. Be still, this heart. Okay let me just take off the butterflies. On moment, Grogu, Daddy’s just gotta dunk his face in the damn sink.”
MJ bounced her eyebrows at Peter as he gently took the phone back from Grogu and tapped on the camera. He offered it back the kid and received a deep gaze of wonder in return. Djarin turned the screen right-side up in his hands.
Luke finally turned his camera on and revealed himself to be very swollen in the jaw with damp hair and a cut very close to the rim of his left eye.
“Look at you,” he said, “I’m gonna cry. Oh my god. Where’re your ears, pal?”
Grogu analyzed this reaction for 2 full seconds and then shoved the camera right into his dad’s forehead. Djarin took it from him and liberated himself so that he could see Luke who was clutching at his face, absolutely already sobbing, bless him.
He looked up to see Grogu and instead got Djarin and finally just broke right in half.
Peter swallowed back the growing lump in his throat. His eyes were starting to warm a little.
Djarin found a watery smile in himself.
“I know you’re not cryin’ because of me,” he said gently.
“Where’s your helmet?” Luke sobbed, wiping viciously at his eyes. “People are watching, you harlot.”
“I know,” Djarin said. “I lost it.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“This is all my fault. I should’ve—I should’ve—”
“Luke,” Djarin said again, full of warmth, “You died for us.”
Luke shook harder than ever.
“There is no greater sacrifice a warrior can make,” Djarin told him. “I was honored for you to have made it for me and our son. This has always been the Way.”
“This is the Way,” Luke stammered.
“I missed you,” Djarin said. “Where in God’s name have you been?”
“I was a preschool teacher in the Bronx, man, I dunno what happened,” Luke said tipping his face up to force the tears back in.
“In the Bronx? Where?”
“Uh, off Allerton and Lurting?”
Djarin started shaking with laugher.
“I work off Laconia and Mace,” he said.
“We’ve been blocks apart this whole time.”
“I’m going to stab myself,” Luke moaned. “I’m going to stab myself in the arm. I was right there and I sold out for my part-time gig barely weeks ago. Oh my god. I’m going to—move, old man, I’m suffering—Wait. Din, did you find your parents?”
Djarin stood up and held the phone out straight.
“Where are you right now?” he asked.
Look at all these people hugging each other.
Look at them crying all over. There was a baby in there, wailing because he was so happy to be back in the arms of his other dad.
Aww. AWWWW. Peter was getting emotional again, he was going to see himself out.
He looked up to find Luke holding a hand to him.
“Thank you,” he said. “You really are a superhero, you know that?”
Sometimes, he did.
The city had plenty of problems as it was, yeah, more now with a bunch of jedi running around, linking up with each other and spreading memory like mushroom spores. But it didn’t feel that much different.
What it felt like now was Ned showing Grogu how to hold his hand at the seeing stone in the funeral home’s back yard to make the Force happen while Obi-Wan reported cheerfully that the cat perched on it was still not levitating.
It also felt like watching Luke freak out over text to Ned and Michelle about his ex losing their mind at him dumping them after two years to marry this random mechanic within a week of getting together.
Peter got to see this from new angles, too, one of which was the bottom of the funeral home’s attic stairs, which Anakin Skywalker liked to sit on while his grandkids—both Grogu and Han Solo and Leia Organa (pardon, Leia Naberry)’s son—came over to show him things that he was very well aware of. These were stolen from him by Auntie Ahsoka and her friends who Ned knew and Peter did not.
And there was something warming about how even these folks—people from a galaxy far, far away, occasionally needed a Spiderman.
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Blinded By His Light [Corpse Husband]
Summary: Things weren’t supposed to end this way, but Mama always said not to look into the Sun too long ‘cause your eyes would burn.
Pairing: Corpse Husband/Reader
Word Count: 1,459
Warnings: Cursing, Shouting, Domestic Argument, Unmentioned Break Up
Your mama always told you to be wary of staring at the Sun for too long because it would hurt your eyes and you’d go blind.
You only went against her warning once, and after your eyes stung from the constant harsh light, you listened - at least, until you found the new Sun of your life.
Corpse wasn’t the most usual lover. He was always busy, always working, constantly recording, and when he wasn’t hard at work he was sick - and God, were you patient with him when he was. Admittedly you did always coddle him when he was too weak to move much and slept a whole day away (leaving you to edit the videos he later panicked about not doing until you reassured him that you’d handled them) to regain all the strength he’d lost from the mixture of a nonexistent sleep schedule and the sickness he was currently suffering from.
What you wouldn’t admit was that you pitied him - mainly because you didn’t. Never in your life had you pitied the tall (compared to you, at least), mask-wearing man you’d met at the grocery store when you both were eighteen, struggling for money, and he was twenty dollars short for groceries.
All you’d seen was someone you desperately wanted to feed, but all you could do was put your groceries back while the other teenager frantically begged someone on his phone for money, hand a fifty dollar bill to the cashier (which happened to be all the money you had), and tell them to give the man the change before leaving hungry. You remembered getting in your car as he swept outside and looked around for you in the parking lot before he went back inside, and then driving away. You’d always wished that you’d at least gotten his name before you left, but you hadn’t - at least, not for a few years. Not until you came across a video on the internet of a man named ‘Corpse Husband’ playing a video game about murderous jellybeans with legs and commented beneath it that you’d given him money years before and were happy he’d come so far and had been so successful in life. A day later you’d woken up to said man in your direct messages thanking you profusely for what you’d done, and your relationship with him had skyrocketed from there. Texting turned to audio calls, audio calls turned to blank FaceTime videos (because neither of you had honestly ever seen the others’ face as you’d only ever seen the back of his head full of dark, curly hair), and finally blank FaceTime videos turned to quiet, quick visits to one another’s’ apartments. After that, everything had transformed into a quiet sort of romantic relationship that neither of you ever actually acknowledged but just accepted to be a new reality for both of you.
Time had passed, as it does, and people had swiftly noticed him become more outgoing and happy thanks to the way you’d started tending to him. You’d weaned him off constant take out and had slowly but surely fattened him up just a little. Weeks had passed and you, still in the shadows where you liked to be, continued taking care of the man you had very quickly and very easily grown to adore - because why wouldn’t you? He made you happy in ways no one else had ever managed, he kept you warm at night while holding you in ways you’d never allowed and would never really allow anyone else, because you’d never, ever trusted anyone as much as you did him, and seeing him grow happier by the minute made you absolutely ecstatic, even if he did have his bad days sometimes. There were always the days when the lights hurt his eyes way to much for him to work, or where his body ached so much that he couldn’t do anything but lay down in a soft heap of pain, and when those days came you were there. You stayed constantly by his side and never left, even when he said you should’ve, because he’d made your empty life mean something and you weren’t about to lose your meaning... and that brought you to the fight you were having with him now, where your usually soft spoken... whatever the pair of you were was shouting and snarling.
You were too controlling, you never really let him make his own decisions. You worked too much around the house, cleaning things that didn’t need to be and putting them places where he couldn’t find them. You cooked to much and stank up the house every time you burned something (which wasn’t much, but anger tends to push people to find and use any information they think will hurt the opposition) that he’d never eat anyway because your food wasn’t top notch anyway (which you knew; you were definitely no Gordon Ramsay). You edited his videos wrong whenever you took over and people were noticing it and disliking the way they were done. You were way too touchy and he always felt like jumping out of his skin to be away from you.
“When are you going to fucking wake up? I’m not your husband going off to work every morning after breakfast and a kiss and you aren’t my pretty little housewife that’s destined to clean the home, do laundry, and have dinner on the table before I’m home,” he’d practically roared, “We aren’t married - hell, we aren’t even dating. We just fuck. Get it through your head.”
“Don’t talk to me like that,” you’d whispered, because Mama had also told you to never let a man act as though you were beneath them or to let one ever make you feel that way. Still, you’d never been yelled at by Corpse before and you’d never actually been scared of the man - yet here the two of you were, I caged in a one-sided shouting match with him yelling, you cowering, and him not noticing in the slightest that he was scaring you.
“I am absolutely done with you treating me like a child, because I’m not one. I am an adult man who can feed himself, who can do his own laundry, who can clean his own apartment, who can take care of himself when he’s sick, and who can do his own fucking work without help from some woman who seems to think she can waltz her way into my life without asking and change everything to fit her, because she can’t. You can’t,” he snaps, “So grow the fuck up and get your shit together, because I’m done. I don’t need you.”
You’d be lying if you said that his last few words to you before storming off to his recording room absolutely broke you. You were so shaken that you just stood there for what felt like hours (but in reality was only minutes), just thinking over everything that had just happened and what you had just lost.
After several moments pass, you begin to quietly gather your things, trying not to interrupt the live stream that you’d heard him start through the doorway of his recording room. First your clothes, then your small blanket that you’d brought with you when you came. You never actually had much worth bringing, so you’d not brought it. Your makeup, toiletries, and soaps also were haphazardly thrown in the duffle bag with all of your clothes, and within twenty or so minutes aside from you and your bag, there wasn’t a single clue showing that you’d ever been there.
You grabbed your purse and dug through it, fishing out your keys and taking the one that perfectly fit the lock to this apartment that Corpse had given you three months ago, placing it near-silently down on the white kitchen island where he’d see it. You hesitated to fully put it down at first, knowing that once you did, you wouldn’t pick it back up… but eventually you let go. You let go, let it clink quietly against the island top, and then choked back a cry as you turned and quietly marched to the door, opened it, exited, and then left the life and the man that had made you happier than you’d ever been behind forever.
You should have known that this wouldn’t end well, and you should have listened to your mama - after all, in your eyes he was the Sun, and you?
You‘d gone blind.
Youtube - @bad268
Corpse Husband - @thanossexual @ourheavenlyemotions
Forevers - @deanmonandnegansbitch @twdeadlysins
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Wire (Bit 2)
Again, quickly before work ::hugs::
John was ever so glad he had made the decision to attend the danger zone in person.
“What do you mean it’s our fault?!” Scott was covered in dust; his uniform was torn and he had lost his cool about an hour ago. John grabbed at him from behind as his brother launched himself at the weasel of a politician.
John’s gravity support hummed as it compensated for the effort of fighting against his older brother. “Scott!”
The fact the suited asshole didn’t seem to care, beyond taking a step back, did not help John in the slightest. “Scott! This is not helping Virgil!”
The mention of his missing brother’s name was enough to blow the wind out of his big brother’s sails and they both staggered as he wilted.
Weasel shifted his stance, straightening almost as if with pride, looking down his nose at them. “You can’t expect thousands to suffer just for the life of one? Your operative had the chance to do his job. He failed and has to face the consequences.”
John staggered as Scott reared up and leapt for the man again. “Scott, goddamnit! Leave him to Eos.”
John’s heels dragged in the dirt.
“Who is Eos?”
Your funeral, asshole. John thought it, but didn’t say it.
There were far more important things to pay attention to. “Scott, Virgil needs us. We will attend to him later.”
There was a vibration of sound deep in his brother’s chest, but he straightened, shook off John’s arms, and turned back to the equipment behind them. His voice only shook a little. “Do we have anything further? Have you been able to locate him?”
John swallowed. “No. The whole site is electrified. Grandma still has his suit metrics, but they are fragmented and he is not responding coherently to comms.”
Their brother was one of two victims of the final collapse of a twenty storey apartment building. All signs were pointing to shoddy construction.
Virgil had been called in due to a partial collapse earlier in the day. It hadn’t taken the engineer long to realise the whole building was coming down. It had been evacuated, but there had been a handful of lifesigns trapped by the initial collapse. Virgil, like the hero he was, had donned his exo-suit and rescued them one by one, gambling each time he entered the structure that it was going to hold those few moments longer.
He had lost the gamble on the eighteenth floor trying to save the last of that handful.
John had yelled into comms as the line was overcome with a deafening roar.
They hadn’t heard from Virgil since.
At least part of the reason was that the building had collapsed on top of the electrical distribution centre next door, electrifying anything that could conduct power. International Rescue had been trying to kill the electrical input since, but this asshole of a politician was doing everything in his power to hinder that.
Apparently, the local hospital didn’t have a functional back up generator.
By the looks of this leading weasel, John was pretty sure he knew why.
Another sticking point was that the politician wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for the fact that Virgil had hauled his brother out of the rubble an hour ago. The man had minor injuries and was being attended to at that local hospital, but the weasel had not followed him to the hospital, obviously attracted by the photo opportunity to be seen speaking to International Rescue.
Once John had a chance those photos and possibly a few tactical recordings might find their way to the press with appropriate reality attached.
But in the meantime, he had a distressed commander who was one more comment away from decking the guy.
“Alan, how close are we to securing that hospital’s power supply?”
His little brother’s voice was tinny on comms. “Working on it. They’re certainly happy to have Two’s spare generator, but this place is seriously short staffed. I’m thinking I’m the most mechanically adept person here. I’m liaising with Brains. Doing our best.” A pause. “Any word?” On Virgil.
“Working on it.” A sigh. “Do your best.”
Comms flicked over to an emergency override from Tracy Island and John’s heart sank. “Boys, please hurry. I’m getting irregularities in Virgil’s heart beat. I suspect there is some ongoing blood loss. You need to get him out of there.”
“Working on it, Grandma.” He dragged his eldest brother as far away from the politician as he could. “Working on it.”
“You need to work faster.”
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Pretty Girl - Four
Summary: In which a call for help leads to Flip and Pretty Girl facing their feelings.
Warnings: Smut. 18+, NSFW, Swearing, PIV. WC- 5,506
A/N: Admittedly very excited to write the chapter. Suffered a few days of migraines this week, which now has me questioning every word I’ve written, but I hope you enjoy. To those who comment and follow regularly, you guys truly bring me joy and I appreciate you ❤️
Flip was dreaming in flashes. The events of the week prior, in the file room with (Y/N), replaying themselves over and over. Flash, her wide eyes. Flash, the way she wet her lips. Flash, the brief look of disappointment when they were interrupted. He’d been ruminating on that look, however neither of them brought it back up again-not after the meeting, where she’d sat next to him with her foot shaking uncharacteristically, nor on the silent drive home. It just...sat in the air between them, a balloon neither of them wanted to pop.
Already suffering from poor sleep quality, Flip was now sinking into a permanently exhausted state with the addition of nightly dreams that kept him on the edge of consciousness. His brain seemed determined to keep thoughts of (Y/N) at the forefront regardless of the time of day. He had been in love a few times in his life; with women who were kind, eager to become the housewife of a detective. But he never felt for anyone like he did for (Y/N). The protectiveness, the desire to know everything about her, to know what she was thinking...it was overwhelming. And so the dreams kept him tossing each night. And while he might have stayed like this, fighting them until he slipped into a deeper sleep, he was instead abruptly awoken when the phone next to his bed began a shrill ringing.
“Christ,” He mumbled, jerking up and rolling over. The clock on his bed stand read two-thirty in the morning. He grumbled in displeasure, intending on ignoring it. When the ringing didn’t cease, he groaned and reached for the receiver, his voice gruff with sleep when he barked, “Zimmerman.”
“Um, hi Flip.”
Flip immediately tensed, sitting up as the sound of (Y/N)‘s voice came down the line. His mind was already running ahead making the worst assumptions about why she would be calling so late on the weekend. It wasn’t a surprise when his voice came out slightly choked, “Pretty girl, are you alright? Are you safe?”
Her voice sounded somewhat strained with regret, “I’m safe, really. I’m so sorry to bother you so late-“
“Just tell me what you need, darling.” He interrupted, twisting to drop his feet to the floor and casting his eyes around the dark bedroom for his sweatpants.
She sighed, “The power went out here a few hours ago, and I’m not sure why. But with the weather tonight it’s absolutely freezing in here now. And my brother in law is away for work,” She took another breath, which Flip recognized was her attempt at hiding how cold she was, “I feel silly calling you.” He smiled, pleasure blooming in his chest at the realization that after her brother in law, Flip was the next person she trusted to call in the middle of the night.
Flip hummed slightly at her words, “No reason to feel silly-I’ll be over there in ten, take a look for you.” A voice in the back of his mind questioned whether this was a wise choice, but he pushed it back, ignoring it. She needed him.
“You don’t have to do that. If you could maybe just tell me what to look for on my, uh, breaker? Electric panel?”
Now he couldn’t help the laugh that slipped out, “I’m coming over, darling. I’ll see you soon.”
A quiet thank you met his ears as he put the phone down. Flip switched on the light and stood, making his way around his room to put on his sweatpants and sweater before stopping in the bathroom to freshen up and splash his face with water to wake up. The combination of cold water and mint from his toothpaste helped accomplish this. Excitement flooded within him at the realization he would get to see her so soon.
Pulling his shoes on, he considered if there was anything he should bring. He knew she probably had a toolkit but wondered if she would have a high powered flashlight. Deciding to lean on the side of caution, he grabbed his own from the kitchen drawer before sliding on his rain jacket, grabbing his keys and heading out into the cold night. It was rainy, a combination that meant the roads were especially tricky to drive on. His ten-minute drive was closer to twenty, tension building in his stomach the closer he got.
He was worried about being alone with her, of the risk of crossing a line. Worrying she would ask him what she had in the file room.
“Are you sure you aren’t keeping anything from me?”
How did you confess to loving your best friend, when they were the only good thing in your life?
When Flip pulled his truck onto her street, he noticed straight away that it was darker in her neighbourhood than on the main road. Glancing around at the houses, he saw no lights on, not even on porches. Parked in the driveway, Flip looked at (Y/N)‘s dark house as he stepped from his truck, then around the street. It was eerily dark, even the streetlights were out. So it had to be a power outage from the weather and not an issue with her breaker.
Hopping up her front steps, Flip rapped on the door softly. After a moment, the door opened to reveal his friend smiling shyly, a flashlight in her hand. “Hi Flip, come on in. Thanks for coming.”
She stepped back and secured the door while he removed his jacket and shoes, shaking some rain from his hair. “Hi, darling.” He looked around at her then, drinking in her casual appearance.
Her hair was falling in soft waves over her shoulders, her face clear of makeup. She wore a pair of plaid pyjama bottoms with an oversized CSPD sweatshirt. Flip felt his stomach fill with heat at the sight of her looking so...radiant. Innocent. Soft.
“Got some good news, and some bad, darling.” He said after a pause.
She gestured for him to follow her into the living room. Glancing around the cozy space, he saw she had lit a few candles along her fireplace mantle to bring some light to the room. Even in the dim light, he could tell the space was decorated entirely by her. Her personality shone through even in the choice of wallpaper.
(Y/N) leaned against the back of her couch, hands gripping it as she gazed up at Flip, “Always bad news first.” He wanted to reach out and smooth the little pucker between her brows.
“Well, looks like the whole neighbourhood is experiencing an outage, no lights-not even the street lights.”
She sighed heavily, “Great, so not something that can be fixed right now-meaning I woke you up for nothing.” Dropping her head into her hands, he heard her give a little grunt of despair.
Flip smiled down at her, amused. If only she knew he couldn’t sleep anyway. “The good news is nothing is wrong with your breaker. And now that I’m here we can get you set up for the night so you don’t freeze. It’ll probably be out for a while.”
She peered up at Flip through her fingers, eyes assessing his grin. “You’re not annoyed with me?”
Flip forced himself not to step closer to her, “No, darling. Now, let’s get a fire going.”
They worked in silence, the only sound the distant rain and occasional blasts of wind. Flip stacked the firewood, thankful her fireplace was large, while (Y/N) laid out the newspaper strips and kindling for him. Once he had the fire roaring, Flip assessed the room.
The comfortable looking couch was set back from the fireplace, a coffee table in the centre. Standing, he dragged the table out of the way before coming to the couch and pulling it toward the fire. It took a minute, as it was a heavy son of a bitch, but after some finessing he was satisfied it was close enough without being unsafe for her to sleep on and keep warm. He’d wanted to avoid having her sleep on the floor.
While he’d been moving the furniture, (Y/N) had disappeared. He took a moment to survey the setup, then bent over the fire and took the poker to adjust the logs. She returned several minutes later, pillows and blankets in her arms. She dropped them over the back of the couch, then glanced up and met Flip‘s eyes. She paused, standing nervously, hands twisting together absentmindedly. “Um. Can I get you anything? Milk? Water?”
Flip probably should just thank her and make his way home, he’d done what he could for her. He could easily leave now. Instead, he nodded, “Milk would be nice, thanks.” Spinning around, she hurried away to her kitchen, leaving Flip alone again. He considered his next moves. He could just drink the milk in one gulp and then go home. Only...he wanted to stay. Even if just for a short while. The thought of spending time with (Y/N) that wasn’t during their drives to and from work thrilled him. It couldn't hurt to stay a little longer.
He settled himself on the ground, leaning his back against the couch and crossing his legs comfortably. The warmth from the fire was welcome; it was chilly inside her place.
(Y/N) reappeared, padding across the carpeting, “Here you go,” Handing him his glass, Flip took it and watched as she joined him on the floor, copying his pose so that her knee touched his leg. His heart rate increased.
He grabbed one of the larger blankets and carefully settled it over their laps. They sat in silence for several minutes, each watching the fire dance before them as they sipped their drinks. Flip heaved a sigh of content. “Always loved a good fire.” He admitted, smiling down at her.
“Mmm, me too. Listen, Flip,” Turning to face him, he saw her mouth pressed into a thin line. She tucked her legs back and propped one arm onto the couch. Flip met her gaze steadily, prepared for her to apologize. “I’m really sorr-“
Flip shook his head, cutting her off, “I’m glad you called. I don’t mind, and I can tell you’re more upset than you’re saying.”
Her eyes dropped, looking down into her drink before taking a sip. “I-I’m not a fan of the dark. Silly, I know.” She gave a little laugh that didn’t suit her. Flip could sense she was uncomfortable, tired and still cold. He hated to see her looking so self-conscious, unhappy. It lit something within him that was almost animalistic in its intensity.
“It’s not silly, (Y/N). I don’t like it much myself.” He replied, taking another drink of his milk, finishing it off. “You need to stop apologizing to me all the time, haven’t I told you I could never be upset with you?” When would she start to believe him? He gave her a reassuring smile while his hands gripped the empty glass, attempting to keep himself from reaching out to tuck her hair back or stroke her cheek.
The light of the fire revealed the way her cheeks flushed deliciously at his words, and suddenly she was looking everywhere but at Flip.
“I want you to know, Flip,” (Y/N) shifted, mirroring his position by gripping the glass she held, “You mean the world to me, and I’m thankful every day to...to call you my best friend. You take such good care of me, never make me feel bad...always know what I need,” Her words were rushing out, soft and breathless as she stared down into her drink, “Most men would have probably just told me to start a fire and go back to bed, but you just come straight over and-“ She gestured around to make her point. Slowly, her eyes moved up and met his gaze.
Flip turned her words over in his head, his heart thumping wildly in his chest. To stall for time, he reached over and took her glass from her hands. Setting both on the floor behind him, he came to a decision. Conceding to the desire to touch her, he took her small hands into his own. He ran his thumbs across the soft skin of her wrists, relishing in the contact.
“I like taking care of you, darling. You do so much for me and give yourself no credit. You worry every time you need something yourself,” He searched her eyes as he spoke, wanting to catch any expression that passed through them, “I like spending time with you. Making sure you’re safe, and I-well, you’re my best friend, I’d do anything for you.” He broke off when a hot tear slipped down her cheek and onto the back of his hand.
Her eyes were a storm of emotions as she looked at Flip, tears leaking out, her lips quivering. His whole chest tightened as he watched her. He automatically released her hands, raising his to cup her face. He brushed his thumbs under her eyes, wiping away the tears gently, before meeting her gaze again.
The air in the room seemed to evaporate around them. Electricity shot through Flip’s entire body, and he couldn’t have said who moved first, just that one moment he was looking from her (y/e/c) eyes to her lips, and then their lips pressed together. Flip felt like he’d burst into flames, and he gasped at the sensation.
(Y/N)’s hands had moved up from her lap, now holding the collar of Flip’s sweater and pulling him closer as they kissed. He gripped her face, fingers in her hair, nearly moaned at how soft her lips were against his. Instinctively, his tongue swiped across them, and she responded by parting them, allowing him to slip inside her mouth. He groaned loudly at the overwhelming taste of her, of the heat of her mouth. He'd never tasted anything so fucking perfect.
When she whimpered loudly, it caught Flip entirely off guard. Though heat pulsed straight to his core at the sound, it brought him back into his mind and he jerked back suddenly, breaking the kiss.
(Y/N) hadn’t been expecting his sudden movement, so when Flip had pulled back and her grip on his shirt didn’t loosen, she only ended up falling into him. Her eyes peered up at him, pupils blown and cheeks flushed as she leaned into his chest. She panted, “Wha-?”
Flip was trying to catch his breath, to clear his head. He’d just kissed his best friend. They were alone in her house and they had kissed, and the entire situation was terrifying to him.
He didn’t think he could stop if they kept going.
“I’m sorry, I-fuck, pretty girl, do you know what you do to me?” He growled, his hands still holding her face. Her eyes widened further as he spoke. “Do you realize how much I love you? How fucking perfect you are?”
She was trembling uncontrollably, “Flip, fuck I-did you say you love me?” Shock crossed her face, her mouth falling open into an ‘o’ shape as she processed what he’d said.
Damn it all, he thought. It’s out now. “Are you kidding me? Sweetest, most beautiful woman I ever met.” He huffed, never looking away, “(Y/N), I think I’ve been in love with you ever since you came out of that bathroom, afraid of that damn spider. Keep falling harder every day. You drive me crazy, pretty girl.”
His heart was in his stomach and his mouth had gone dry, but it felt good to admit it out loud, to tell her about the feelings he’d been holding back for so long. She was silent for a long moment, just staring at Flip in complete disbelief. He braced for whatever she was going to say, promising himself that he wouldn’t regret ever telling her the truth, even though his heart might burst right out of his chest.
He hadn’t expected her reaction; when her mind seemed to catch up with itself and the surprise disappeared from her face, replaced by something that had Flip catch his breath. And then her lips were on his again. She was released his collar to push her hands into his hair, whimpering as she pressed her body against his in a frantic flurry of motion.
Flip, though caught off guard, wasted no time in returning the fervour of her kiss, deepening it by sliding one hand further into her hair and pressing her face into his. He licked into her hot mouth eagerly, enjoying the little moans and whimpers that slipped out of her as she kissed him back. After a moment, he dropped the hand that wasn’t woven into her soft locks and gripped her waist, tugging her closer. (Y/N) moved, swinging a leg over his lap and straddling him fully.
“Fuck,” He growled when her hips, settled right where he wanted her, ground into him, desperately seeking friction. “Pretty girl.”
Another whimper, “Love it when you call me that, Flip.” She tugged his hair and Flip groaned again, his entire body on fucking fire for this woman. Did she truly not realize the effect she had on him?
He released his hold on her and slid both hands under her sweater, ghosting across her soft stomach as he continued to pepper kisses onto her cheeks, her jaw, down her neck. His hands climbed higher, brushing the undersides of her breasts, his dick twitching as he realized she wore no bra beneath the bulky sweater. He wanted to kiss every inch of her body, to suck and bite marks into her skin as she moaned for more, but he needed to make sure, absolutely sure, she wanted this.
With a great effort, he pulled away, his hands stilling on her bare waist, and said her name. Before he could say more, she was cutting him off, eyes bright.
“You big, grumpy man. My rough, tough detective. I love you too,” She ground her hips down again, pulling a growl from deep within Flip. Combined with her words, the effects had Flip slowly coming undone, his clear mind fogging up with thoughts of her, her body, her pleasure. “I wanted to tell you, but I was so afraid of losing you. I think about you all the time, did you know that, Flip? Do you know I lay in my bed every night and picture you? Touch myself and it only takes a minute to-“
“Fuck,” He thundered, interrupting her and kissing her again, “Just tell me what you want-I’ll give you anything, everything. Tell me it’s okay-“
“I need you, Flip. I’m yours and I need you,” She accented the words with another swirl of her hips, Flip’s cock now straining against his sweatpants painfully, “Fuck me all night and stay in the morning, Flip.”
His heart filling with joy, Flip had heard what he needed. The next moments were spent frantically undressing one another-first her sweater; Flip’s eyes on her delicious tits as they bounced around while she stood and shimmied her pyjamas and underwear off. He drank in her beautiful, perfect body, all soft curves and flushed skin, as he kicked off his pants.
“Come here, pretty girl,” He rasped, pulling her back into his lap and groaning when her heat skimmed across his cock as she settled. Flip smoothed a hand up her back, bracing her carefully, and then lifted himself, rolling them so that her body lay on the blanket beneath them, her hair fanned out around her. “Fuck, you are so beautiful. Gonna taste you, okay?”
She whimpered her permission as he began his journey downward, taking his time to suck marks into her skin that he would lave over with his tongue to soothe. His hands found their way to her breasts and began to pinch and squeeze, rolling the peaks between a thumb and finger and groaning against her skin when she cried out in pleasure at the sensation.
“Oh god, Flip!” She moaned loudly when he took a nipple into his mouth, his tongue moving over it before he switched to her other breast. His hands slid to her hips, stilling their attempts to seek out the friction he was thus denying her. He trailed his tongue down her stomach, lowered himself to the ground between her legs and kissed the sensitive skin of her thighs, leaving more marks. He felt his cock protesting between his body and the floor but ignored it when he came face to face with her slick centre, already glistening for him. Framed with trimmed, soft curls, it was the prettiest pussy he’d ever seen.
“So fucking wet already, barely even touched you,” Massaging her thighs, he tilted his head up and met her eyes over the swell of her breasts. “Such a good girl for me, aren’t you? Now put your hands in my hair while I taste this perfect fucking cunt.”
Her hands had barely threaded through his locks before his tongue was licking a long strip from the bottom up. Flip watched in delight as her entire body jerked in response, her head dropping to the floor, back arching. A long, low moan escaped her, and then he dove in.
Flip hummed at her taste, perfectly sweet and entirely her, turning him on even more. He licked everything, sucked on her sensitive clit until her legs began to shake, and then repeated it all over again. Occasionally breaking away to sink his teeth into the soft flesh of her inner thigh and revelling in the way she cried out his name each time. He never wanted to stop.
More of her juices flowed for him as time passed, as he edged her closer to her peak and then eased her back, teasing her without remorse. He wanted to hear her beg for more. He wasn’t disappointed when, after pulling away the third time, her head popped up, “Flip, please, please let me cum. I fucking need to cum, you’re so perfect, I’m so close I can’t,” She broke off with a desperate whine.
Flip grinned, “Love hearing you beg for me, pretty girl,” He slid two fingers inside of her dripping heat at the same moment he wrapped his lips around her clit. He heard her head hit the floor as she screamed out, obscenities, his name, incomprehensible whines. He only had to thrust his fingers three times, curling them up each time they sunk into her before she came undone.
He was enraptured by the sight of her orgasm, the way her body jerked and tightened, her hands pulling his hair viciously as his name spilled from her lips. He worked her through the crest of her pleasure, humming against her to draw it out and drinking down everything she gave him. He thought he could die a happy man right there, drowning in her.
“Flip, fucking hell!” She cried out one final time, her cunt clenching around him when she became over sensitive to his ministrations. He eased back, kissing her thighs and licking gently at her folds as she came down, her hands dropping from his hair. He could have stayed there for hours, but his cock was protesting. Carefully moving, he brought his body up and lay over top of her, bracing himself on his elbows to keep his weight off of her as she caught her breath.
Flip growled at the sight of her blissed-out expression and kissed her hungrily, sloppily. She moaned, tasting herself on his lips. He leaned back up after a moment, “You still with me, pretty girl?” He gazed at her in concern, hoping he hadn't gone too hard.
A goofy smile split her face, “I’ve never cum that hard in my entire life, Flip Zimmerman. I’m pretty sure I’m on another plain right now.” He laughed, nuzzled her neck and ground his hips down, pressing his cock onto her thigh.
“You feel what you do to me?” His voice was low, “Been thinking about you for fucking months. Every day, all day, it’s just you. ”
“Flip,” (Y/N)‘s voice was breathless beneath him, her hands back in his hair, “Please, need you inside me right now, need to feel you stre-oh FUCK!”
He had slammed into her at her words, unable to hold back a moment longer. Splitting her open until he bottomed out, and then he stilled, panting, and checked in on her again. She was deliciously, dangerously tight around him, her walls already fluttering. She was crying out but nodding, seemingly unable to form words but wanted to convey to him that he could move.
“Good girl, just tell me if it’s too much. If this,” He slammed down again, earning another yelp, “is too much.” And then he began to pump, one arm braced on the ground while the other gripped her hip. He thrust into her wet cunt mercilessly, his eyes always on her face, watching for any change, any indication that she was in pain, but he saw only pleasure. Her screams only drove him on, encouraging him to move harder, to take what she so wanted him to and make her his. It was the best sex of his life, and Flip never wanted it to end.
When he felt himself getting close, he slowed his pace, kissed her once again, and then pulled back. Her heavy eyes watched as Flip, still deep inside of her, came to kneel and then he lifted her hips, adjusting her legs to one side, arms hooking under them. The new angle already had her whimpering before he began to move. She was so tight around him; he could see himself buried to the hilt inside of her and groaned at the perfect, obscene sight.
“Just,” He could barely speak, he was so turned on, “Tap my hand, if it’s too much, darling.” He knew she would tell him if she needed him to go easier, but he needed her to know she was safe with him, that her pleasure was the most important thing to him.
“Fuck me, fuckmefuckmefuck-“
With a roar, he was moving, his hips beginning a brutal pace now that he had the leverage of being on his knees. Her hands twisted into the blanket, tits bouncing as Flip hugged her legs and fucked into her as deep as he could. He repeated her name over and over, the only other sounds in the house that of skin hitting skin, the hot, wet noises her cunt made as she took his length, and her cries for more, harder, for him.
He felt her tightening around him after a short time, walls fluttering and getting wetter as he drove his hips into that spot over and over, unrelenting. “Going to cum for me, pretty girl?”
“I, fuck, Flip, I’m so close-you’re fucking filling me up oh god...”
“Cum, it’s okay, cum for me, please.”
As if waiting for him to ask, she instantly seized up at his words, and Flip almost went over the edge right there when her pussy clamped hard, her body jerking as the wave broke, and her pleasure peaked. He focused, holding off his own orgasm to chase her through hers, to drag it out until tears were in her eyes. His movements became sloppy, only slowing when he felt her begin to relax.
He had briefly wondered if he could keep himself on the edge, try to get another orgasm out of her. But then her voice cut through the air, firmer than it had been all night, and derailed his train of thought.
“Flip, please cum inside me, please, need your cum, please.”
“Fuck, fuck!” He cried out, slamming himself one, two, three more times, her words pulling him over, over, right off of the cliff and into oblivion. He kept his hips moving as he emptied himself inside of her, “Sweet girl, take it, fucking take it all.” Flip moaned, pumping every last drop of his seed with lazy thrusts, (Y/N) whimpering at the sensation of being filled. He had never cum like that in his entire life.
Though tempted to collapse, Flip was cautious as he lowered himself, kissing her stomach, breasts, neck, and then meeting her lips again. His tongue licked her mouth once more before he gripped her waist and rolled them. Now he lay on the floor with (Y/N) on top of him, head on his chest. Her walls still clenched around his cock. They both panted, catching their breath in comfortable silence.
Flip was clutching (Y/N), one hand rubbing gently into her lower back. His thoughts were thundering back, though they were happy. The realization of what had changed in the last two hours was making his heart swell in his chest. With their more primal needs satiated, his mind wandered. Because while that had been the best sex of his life, it was far outshone by the fact that his best friend had told him she was in love with him, too.
Flip grinned, and (Y/N) lifted her head to meet his eyes when she felt his movements.
“Happy with yourself, detective?” She panted, returning his grin with her best smile. Flip grabbed her waist and gently pulled her up, a little groan escaping each of them when his cock slipped out of her. Now level, Flip was able to lean up and kiss her, a chaste peck.
“Pretty girl, you’re the hottest fucking woman on this planet,” His voice was gruff from overexertion, “I feel like the luckiest man.” He continued, earning a happy little giggle.
“You say that like you didn’t just make me cum twice like it was easy.”
“Darling, I can make you cum all night if I want to. Just say the words.” He kissed her forehead softly.
A little whimper escaped before she could catch it. “Not saying I’m against the idea, but I need to use the ladies' room.” She made to get up but Flip held her tighter, stopping her. He wasn’t ready to be apart from her. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be ready, not anymore.
“I’ve got you,” He whispered. He repositioned her as he sat up, leading her legs to wrap around him and her arms to circle his neck. (Y/N) bit her lip as she let Flip raise them both from the floor, his hands sliding down to sink into the flesh of her bottom, holding her up. He carried her to the bathroom, kissing her between following her directions to the blue-tiled room.
He set her down on the toilet, then turned to the sink, squinting in the dark. One candle lit the room, and once his eyes adjusted he saw the neatly folded wash clothes on the vanity. He turned on the water and, knowing it would be cold, wet the cloth quickly before taking it to briefly wipe himself. He rinsed it and turned to (Y/N), who was still sitting on the toilet, her eyes following his every move.
“Did you pee?” Smiling at her comfortingly when she shied away from the question, “Pretty girl, let me take care of you.” He brushed his hand across her cheek affectionately.
“I did, yes.” She murmured. Flip nodded, then pushed her legs apart. Taking great care to be gentle, he ran the cool cloth along her folds. Ensuring to only move in one direction. She sighed in content as he cleaned her up.
Tossing the cloth into the sink, Flip picked her up again and moved them back to the living room. “You ever going to let me walk again?” She joked, clutching him close as he settled them down onto the couch. (Y/N) curled against him, one hand threaded in his hair. He reached down and pulled the blanket from the floor, covering their bodies, and kissed the top of her head.
“Meant what I said, darling.” He spoke into the night, his hand trailing up and down her back in soothing motions as the fire continued to warm the room, bathing it in a gentle glow.
The fire illuminated her eyes when she looked up, “I did too, Flip. And I-I don’t want to be just friends anymore.”
Flip nodded, one hand on her cheek, thumb brushing across the soft skin, “No, pretty girl, neither do I,” He agreed. They exchanged a look then that Flip would remember over everything else that happened during this utterly perfect night.
It sealed the love they’d been expressing that night, a look that told the other, I love you. I’m never leaving. You are everything to me.
“Get some sleep, beautiful. I’ll still be here in the morning.”
She snuggled in at his soothing words, a low moan of content rushing out before she closed her eyes.
For the first time in a long while, (Y/N) and Flip each fell asleep within minutes. Wrapped in one another’s arms, they would stay there until the sun came up.
Flip didn’t even need to dream that night.
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Passed Down Trauma
The War Has Begun | Next
“Why are you attempting to assassinate Eito L/N?”
“You’re lying, L/N. We found the notes in your home, we found the gun hidden in your car, and all of Japan has seen the video of you slandering your own father. Why did you do it?” Officer Yuikmara slammed his hands on the table in attempts to strike fear in you.
Without faltering, you said with a smile, “I can’t tell you what I didn’t do. . . but I can tell you that you have twenty four hours to let me go before it all gets fully released, Mr. Yuikmara.”
Katsuki and Kirishima stood in the living room of Katsuki’s apartment on what felt like pounds of questions and anxiety. Everything was going smoothly in the operation to protect Y/N and Ryu — now one was missing and the other was in police custody. The tension in the room was thick and despite Eijirou’s tendency to lighten situations, he made no move to ease his friend’s mind. In fact, deep down he wanted Katsuki to suffer for reasons that he knew were selfish and out of line. The unspoken feelings he had for a woman that he shouldn’t want were not hidden, and could not stay silent forever. Especially when that woman’s life was in danger and he couldn’t help but blame Bakugou.
“I’m going to burn that bastard’s house down, and Icy-Hot can put out the damn flames when I’m done.” Katsuki fumed as he paced the floor to try and calm down to think clearly. It was taking everything in him to follow the law and try to take Eito down the legal way, but with every minute he spent working on the case, he realized just how inbedded that man was in hero companies and the police force.
“That won’t get Y/N home, and you know it. What we need to do is wait for her to post bail and find Ryu, she’s probably worried about him.” Eijirou said, trying to find a way to solve all of this and think of what would help Ryu and Y/N.
Katsuki glared at Eiji, “you think you know everything? Y/N wasn’t even phased when we found out he was missing, you idiot!” Katsuki seethed at him.
“I know that Y/N loves her kid more than anything else, so maybe you were too busy being emotional to understand what she was feeling!” Kirishima bit back, not wavering under Katsuki’s harsh gaze.
“You’re just some sad, lovesick moron,” Katsuki taunted. “Why don’t you just admit the reason you don’t believe that she knows where Ryu is, is because you don’t want to believe that she’s hiding things? You think she trusts you so much that she’d tell you more than me? I can guarantee you that, like always, you’ll never be better than me.” Katsuki finished, both of them standing face to face with clenched fists and locked jaws.
The silence was loud like roaring beasts threatening the other to make the first move; two men who fell for the one they couldn’t fully get their arms around. Their friendship was equally as important to both of them, but how could one swallow their feelings for Y/N, simply for the sake of the other? Neither of them thought the other was worthy enough for such a beautiful tragedy you had written in your very bones. There was no personality, no smile, no heart that could compare to you. Even if they fought, the loser wouldn’t dare accept defeat.
A ringing phone broke through the silence, Katsuki’s pocket suddenly vibrating and taking his attention as he pulled it out. An unknown number was displayed across the screen, and in normal circumstances, he would have immediately sent it to voicemail with no hesitation or concern for who was on the other line. Today was anything but a normal circumstance.
“Hello,” he answered in a clipped tone.
“Mr. Bakugou, it’s Nanami. . I have important information I need to discuss with you.”
Rotting in a holding cell wasn’t how you wanted to spend your weekend, but it was better than being dead — you weren’t sure you wouldn’t be dead soon anyway, so you’re savoring just being in jail. You couldn’t even post bail, so you had to sit on the brick like bed and wait for everything to go through. Everything you built was currently being destroyed while you sat here calmly, waiting for the fire that is your father to be put out so you can remove the remains of his hold on your life and be free. . .
. . .Free to do what?
“L/N, you have a visitor, let’s go.” An officer interrupted your peace and opened the door of your cell, and you followed him without a word.
When you entered the small, dimly lit room, a woman sat there with such a crestfallen expression that you could barely recognize her. Her skin that was always flawless with minimal makeup was bare and her color suggested sickness. The gorgeous and bouncy hair that she did her best to maintain everyday was dull and clearly untouched. She looked like a mess, even in her bright flower patterned spring dress.
“Mom?” You said quietly, feeling a twinge of fear towards her when she was in such an unhinged state.
She looked up at you open hearing that word spill from your lips, and her expression brightened ever so slightly. It settled the fear and allowed you to fully fall into worry as you slipped into the chair in front of her — for the first time in years you offered her your hand for comfort. When her cold hand touched yours, you squeezed tightly in hopes of bringing her some warmth even in the cold room.
“I always knew you were secretly a momma’s girl,” were the first words out of her mouth along with an airy laugh. The joke was strange when it came from her, but for her sake you cracked a small smile. “I have a lot to tell you, Y/N.” She said in the softest tone you’d ever heard, grabbing every bit of your attention.
“You don’t have much time, so just say what you have to say.” You urged her, unsure of when you’d be able to speak to her again once she left this room. She had fallen off the Earth after that phone call, and you didn’t want her to leave you with questions.
Your mother began with a deep breath, “I’ve been married to your father for twenty five years. I did it for the money, never once thinking or caring about what he did and how he acted. . . until you were gone. I realized that he was. . different from other people. One day he was kind and compassionate, the next he was ruthless and cold, like a ticking time bomb that kept going off and shortening the time until it’s next reaction. It was easy to ignore at first, I just left him alone as I always did and made sure our interactions were kept completely secret. . Then he saw you on the news with that Bakugou boy-“
“You have five minuets left,” a man called on a speaker into the roo and you gestured for her to get to the point.
“What I’m trying to say is that there’s something wrong with him, Y/N. If you take him down by just destroying all his business and credibility I’m scared he’ll do something drastic that will hurt a lot of people.” Your mother said shakily, and the fear in her face was chilling you to the core, along with the fact that if you looked back you could tell that she was right.
‘What do I know about my grandparents on his side? I’ve never seen a baby picture from him, or even any picture of when he was young! What happened to him that drove him to become the controlling business man that would step on anyone in his way?’ You thought at a rapid speed, finding too many similarities between your reaction to trauma with how he always had acted. If not then more extreme.
“What am I supposed to do?” You whispered, your eyes falling to the cold metal table between you two.
“You have to talk to him,”’ your mother said. “I know you have a way of getting out of here, and when you do, go straight to him and tell no one. . You are his biggest failure in his eyes, and I know you’re the only one who can get through to him.” She squeezed your hand this time, assuring you that what she was saying was true.
“And what about you?” You asked. “Whether I destroy his business or get him the help he needs, you’re still going to lose everything.”
She smiled, “no. I just got everything I needed.”
A/N: We’re getting somewhere :P
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Fulminating (The Mandalorian)
(Din suffers a complication after nearly drowning on Trask. He and the Child recover together. Maybe it's enough. 5000 words, canon-compliant, angst, medical whump, hurt/comfort, sign language. Set during Chapter 11: The Heiress. Don't say I didn't warn you about the whump - but the comfort's there, too.)
Thank you to @lastwordbeforetheend, @art3mys and @honestlyhufflepuff for helping talk me through this! You can also find this story on AO3 if you prefer.
The air streams past him, tugging at the free edge of his cloak as he descends. He tilts his head upward, watching Bo-Katan and her cruiser climb to the edge of the atmosphere. They’ll take the ship, and he’ll take the Jedi’s name.
It’s not the deal he wanted -- hell, they aren’t the Mandalorians he wanted -- but she gave him what he needed in the end, and he’ll respect that.
He coughs, chest feeling heavy, and lowers his head as the air rushes past. That’s better.
He aches as the rush of the fight leaves him. He’s not getting any younger, and while firefights are what he’s built himself for, taking an entire cruiser hadn’t been on his agenda. Especially coming off the disastrous crash landing on the ice planet with the kid and the passenger; he’d hit his head pretty badly in the landing, beskar helmet or no, and he still feels a nagging headache now that the action’s over. He scowls under the helmet.
The Rising Phoenix burns clean as the docks rise up before him, and he lands clumsily, staggering. He’s got to work on that. In all the traveling lately, his training has slipped. Koska in particular has given him some ideas for how to better utilize the Phoenix in combat, and he’ll have to consider incorporating the techniques into his own fighting style.
Din pulls a deep breath as he straightens up, slightly winded by the landing. Time to collect the kid and get going.
Leaving would be a good idea, if not for the fact half the port is still quiet. He glances around, realizing it’s still early in the morning and the Mon Calamari he paid to tend to the Crest is nowhere in sight. Fine. Maybe he and the kid will grab some sleep in the inn. How long has it been since they got any rest?
His feet fall heavy on the wooden docks, his boots scuffing. Yeah. A room might do them good.
It takes him a good twenty minutes to make his way through the narrow alleys to the Frogs’ home. He’s a little slower than usual, though he’s got good reason to be weary. The door slides open at his knock and the happy couple greets him, gesturing to a water-filled dish on their table. A tadpole splashes back and forth, and Din’s foundling stares at it with wide eyes and half-opened mouth, barely noticing that Din has come for him.
Din almost hates to pull the kid away. He’s downright enchanted by the tadpole (the kid better have minded his manners!), curious and fascinated and protesting as Din scoops him up. He congratulates the couple on their child and heads out into the alley, the kid chattering away unintelligibly. He’s been using that little voice of his much more lately, and though Din hasn’t picked out any words he understands, it’s a comforting sound. He chuckles a bit at the kid’s chatter, the laugh slipping into a brief cough that he swallows down. He wishes, not for the first time, that he could understand what the kid has to say.
The kid’s voice burbles cheerfully in his ears. Probably telling him all about his exciting night, staying with the Frog family. Maybe he’s asking where Din has been, or wondering where they’re going next. Din hasn’t a clue. He tries to pay attention, but finds it strangely difficult to concentrate and walk at the same time.
It’s not far to the inn. Half a klick at most. He’s walking at a normal pace, not running, not sprinting.
So why, then, is he breathing so hard?
He pauses against the wall of a small fishery shop, leaning against it slightly in a way that would look casual to a passing observer. He takes a deep breath, then coughs wetly, chest rattling.
You’re fine, he tells himself firmly, but his chest rises and falls like he’s been running.
His helmet swivels left, right. Quarren, Mon Calamari, humans, they scurry past Din and the child, but more than a few turn to stare at the two of them. This is too open. He needs to get back under cover until he can figure out what’s going on. You are both predator and prey, intones the Armorer, and oh, he knows it. His gut clenches a warning.
The Phoenix roars on his back, carrying them the rest of the way. He holds on to the kid with both arms and the kid giggles, enjoying the ride, but Din just focuses on breathing.
The innkeeper stares at him. “One night, then?” he grunts.
Din reaches into his hip pouch, pulls a stack of credits out, more than what’s needed. He forces himself to slow his breathing, though his chest hurts with the effort. He swallows. Modulates his voice to sound gruff and intimidating. “One night. And no questions.”
The innkeeper nods, holding his hands out in an appeasing gesture. “Whatever you say, Mando.” He tosses Din a fob to unlock the room. “Up the stairs, third door on the left. Food sent up to the room’s extra.”
Din merely nods. The kid, nestled in the crook of his arm, looks up at him, frowning. His ears sag down to his collar, and he wraps one hand over Din’s wrist.
Din makes his way to the stairs, shoving past a few Quarren there for their breakfast. They grumble, but they get out of his way; news travels fast about what a Mandalorian can do when pressed. They clear a path for him as he approaches the narrow stairs. With his back to the barroom, no one able to see him directly, he allows himself the luxury of a few deep breaths before he begins. He needs every one.
The flight of stairs isn’t long. Fifteen steps, maybe. But he has to grab the handrail with his free hand, gripping it tightly. His head swims, and the inside of his chest sears, burns, aches. He sucks air through an open mouth, shivering.
“Dank farrik,” he hisses, and regrets the extra breath expended on the curse. He has to rest halfway up the stairs, slumping against the wall with his head spinning.
He makes it up the rest of the flight, through the hallway, to the third door on the left. It slides open and he stumbles through the doorway, barely noticing the door sliding closed behind him as he staggers to the lumpy four-poster bed. He sets the kid down carefully before he sinks onto the bed with a thump. He struggles to remove the Rising Phoenix. He manages to rest it on the floor at his feet, and stays leaning forward, curled up over himself.
What’s wrong with me?
He desperately tries to run the possibilities. Poison? No, no, nothing’s broken his skin, he hasn’t eaten since he left the ship.… He shivers again. Is he sick? This doesn’t feel like any sickness he’s ever known before, coming on so fast like this, hitting so hard…
He sits huddled on the edge of the bed, panting. His helmet’s sensors chime at him. Normally vital signs are measured in the background, but he forces himself to focus on the corner of the display through his visor, where it flashes a warning: Blood oxygen level below 90%.
Oxygen… lungs… going under the water after the kid, struggling as the seal on his helmet slipped, as the seawater rushed up over his face, into his mouth and nose --
But I was fine, he tries to tell himself. He tries to remember if he inhaled the water or if he spat it back out, but all he remembers is frantic choking, flailing, a confusing jumble of cold and weight and struggle. I was fine --
He coughs again, the action bowing him over himself, and he gags on fluid in the back of his throat. He retches, gulps, tastes something metallic. Blood.
His mind races. Battlefield first aid is taught to all Mandalorians, but he doesn’t remember what he’s supposed to do here. What here even is. His mind blanks for a second, or an eternity.
He suddenly remembers a function of his helmet he’s rarely used. He toggles it on with a jerky swipe over his vambrace. He can’t carry an entire tank of oxygen with him, since it’d be a clear explosion hazard in his line of work, but the helmet does have emergency oxygen concentrator ability. Enough to double the atmospheric content for low-O2 planets. He breathes deeply of the fortified air, and for a moment he feels a little calmer. This’ll fix things. Just need a little more air, a little rest, I’ll be fine --
It’s not enough.
The display in his helmet says it’s concentrating the oxygen at maximal levels, but damn it, it’s not enough. He wheezes, straining.
The display says a lot of things now. It’s going fucking haywire, streaming readings for his heart rate, his oxygen, spiking or crashing in ways he’s never seen. He forces himself to focus on the room beyond him instead of the screeching vitals, tries to focus on fishnets lining the dingy walls, a cramped closet refresher, a little wooden table to sit at, a round window letting in muted daylight.
It’s not working. Din drags in breath after frantic breath, coughs again, feels something frothy in the back of this throat. He tastes metal. He’s -- he’s suffocating --
No. No. This is just a sickness, I just have to get through the worst of it, just breathe -- just breathe --
But he wants to tear his helmet off, he’s so hungry for air, he wants -- he needs --
Firm pressure on his lap, movement, something besides the flail of his chest. It’s the kid. He’s almost forgotten about him in his struggle, and seeing the kid calms him slightly. Just slightly.
He manages to lower his head, though it makes him dizzy. The kid’s dark eyes stare up at him, his little face scrunched up and worried.
“I’m fine,” Din gasps, though clammy sweat clings to him inside his suit, though his heart still races. Does the kid understand him? He coughs, the sound harsh and wracking. “I just need to -- rest --”
Rest. Yeah. Yeah, that should help. Maybe he’ll be better off laying down in a different position. Holding the kid against him, he tries to ease himself down on the rumpled bedding. But as soon he’s down, he realizes it’s wrong -- on his back, he feels his armor crushing him -- smothering him --
He jerks upright, clawing at his chest, undoing the catches of his armor. His cuirass loosens and falls to the bed beside him. He leaves it. The pressure eases, barely.
The kid in his lap lets out a wail, and Din realizes that the kid knows.
What if I don’t -- what if he’s alone -- if this gets worse -- His heart rate jumps at the unfinished thought, pounding until he can feel the veins in his neck throbbing, the pulse thready. He slumps against the post at the end of the bed, wrapping a hand protectively around the kid. No. I’ll be fine.
He has to be fine. For both of them. He wishes he could tell the kid --
Grogu feels, sees, senses ripples in the Force, just as he senses ripples in the water where a frog might be near. Most of the time, it comforts him, feeling its swirls and eddies.
It isn’t comforting now. It’s scary. The Force is disturbed, the ripples churning waves. His protector, his person clings to him, and Grogu feels fear panic wrong.
Grogu flinches, his stomach hurting. He doesn’t know what’s happened to the man, but there’s something in the man’s chest that isn’t right, something that shouldn’t be there, something that makes it not work the way it’s supposed to. Grogu tilts his head up and rests one hand against the man’s armor, whimpering.
The man is shaking. His voice catches. “It’s -- it’s all right,” he chokes, but Grogu can feel how hard he’s working to breathe, how his voice sounds different. It sounds wet.
Grogu whimpers again, tries to reach out in the Force. He has to help him! The man flickers in the Force in a way Grogu remembers once from a misty dream, the day he sent the fire back; he was so sleepy after the flames ran away. But the man feels like he did then, faint and far away, and this time, Grogu understands what it means. Faint and far away and fading.
Grogu tries to talk to the man. Tries to tell him that he can help. He makes his voice loud, but the man’s breathing is louder. It’s not working.
He gets to his feet in the man’s lap, hurriedly bracing his hands against the man’s laboring chest. This close he can hear the wrongness inside him even without the Force, his ears catching terrible crackles over the man’s pounding heart. It shouldn’t sound like that. He knows it in a way he doesn't have the words for.
The man is soft without the armor, but the cloth and leather he wears are still thick and hard to get through, under Grogu’s hands. Grogu tries to reach, tries to make the Force inside the man move and change. He’s done it before, he has to try now, has to try to help him --
But it’s hard to shift the Force inside the man. He’s still wrapped in most of his armor, no skin to touch. Maybe one of the Masters from long ago could fix the man without touching him, without pressing skin to skin, but Grogu doesn’t know how. He wraps his claws around the heavy vest the man wears under the armor, and he cries at him, trying to make him understand.
“Please --” the man rasps. “It’s -- don’t be afraid --” He coughs again, thin reddish fluid beading at the bottom of his helmet. Flickering -- far away --
Grogu sinks into the man’s lap, breathing hard himself. The man’s fear is overwhelming, making it hard for Grogu to think. He’s felt it before from him when things got scary, but always the man’s bravery was bigger, more powerful, so much brighter in the Force than his fear.
But it’s all that Grogu can feel from him now.
He has to do something. The man still flickers. He looks around wildly, sees the man’s hand, limply resting against the bottom of Grogu’s robe.
“Hey, buddy,” the man wheezes. “You’ll be -- okay --”
Grogu is already pulling at the man’s wrist. He’s seen a little flash of skin here before, where the glove meets the armor. He fumbles with it, but it’s on too tight for him to budge.
Grogu pulls hard at the glove, and the man helps weakly with his other hand, his fingers clumsy. The glove slips down at the wrist, exposing light brown skin, a thumb. The man crumples against the post at the end of the bed, the line of him all wrong, head rolled to his shoulder. He’s so faint.
Grogu curls one hand around the man’s thumb, presses the other hand against his palm. The man’s skin is cool and sweaty and calloused. Grogu holds his hand as hard as he can, and he closes his eyes, and he reaches.
He can't make sense of what he feels through the Force. Water, but there shouldn’t be water here. Breathing, but the air doesn’t help. Grogu concentrates, but it’s hard. It’s not like when that other man’s arm was hurt in the dark by the creatures, when Grogu could reach out and feel the way the poison wasn’t supposed to be there, the way the arm wanted to be normal again. The Force flowed to the hurt part, and it made it like it was before.
But now he’s confused, the fear so loud and painful, making it harder for Grogu to understand the problem with the water and the air and the lungs. He clutches the man’s skin, claws digging into his strong hand. He tries to do what he can, tries to tell the man’s chest to be normal, to work, to help.
The Force shimmers. It flows, and something goes out of him, into the man.
But it’s not like before. The other man’s arm got better so quickly, the poison disappearing, the flesh coming back to itself. It doesn’t feel that way now; he’s not sure what it feels like. It feels… like something slow, like something calm and quiet, like something gentle.
Grogu lets go of the man’s hand, his mouth twisting. He knows he didn’t understand enough, didn’t get it quite right. He lets out a soft wail, sinking down into the man’s lap and staring dejectedly at his hands.
He hears a quiet, tired voice. Feels the man shift, feels his hand with the rolled-up glove brush against his cheek. Grogu looks up through sleepy eyes and sees the man’s helmet upright again, looking steadily at him.
“Kid?” A long, ragged breath. A hoarse voice. His shoulders rise and fall with big breaths, but not as fast as before.
The man pulls him closer, and Grogu’s ears swivel. The crackles are getting softer. Going away.
“Thanks, kid,” the man whispers.
Grogu gazes up at the man, and he manages a tired little smile. The man is getting brighter in the Force. No more flickering. And underneath the man’s fear, Grogu senses brave again.
Din isn’t sure how long he’s been sitting there, leaning against the post at the end of the bed, holding the sleeping kid in his lap. He only knows he’s been working, and it is work, at breathing.
In, and out.
In, and out.
His helmet display flashes numbers at him. They aren’t normal. Oxygen, heart rate, respirations. But hell, they’re so much better than they were.
He doesn’t know what the kid did. The bare skin of his hand tingles in the cool air, and he’s almost afraid to cover it up again, in case it reverses what the child did to him.
All he really remembers -- things are hazy, even though it was at most only a few hours back -- is the panic, darkness at the edges of his sight, a terrible, unending hunger for air.
And then something quiet and soft, gently washing over him. It was enough.
He coughs again, but it’s easier than before. The rattle’s faint, thin, clearing. He’s not a medical droid, but he’s sure of it anyway: he’s going to make it.
The kid yawns beside him, half-wrapped in Din’s ragged cloak. He squints up at Din, his expression wary. Worried.
“Hey, buddy,” he says, his throat raw. “Are you okay?”
The kid whines a little, his ears swinging low at the way Din’s voice sounds so rough. Din feels an ache that has nothing to do with his lungs and everything to do with the kid’s anxious face.
“Don’t worry. I’m gonna be fine,” Din manages. “You helped me. Saved me.” The words are hard to force out, but he knows they’re important. Hell. What the kid must have seen -- what he must have thought was going to happen -- He freezes, remembering a dark cellar, explosions, a day of red robes in the smoke.
No. That’s not gonna happen. Not to him.
Din cradles the kid into a hug, his ears brushing against Din’s chest and shoulder. The kid hugs him back as hard as he can with his small arms, and he can feel the child trembling.
“Hey, hey,” Din murmurs, though he’s getting winded with all the talking. “I’m sorry I --” He huffs, keeps going even though it’s difficult. “I’m sorry I scared you.”
The kid reaches up to rest one clawed hand against the cheek of the helmet. Din blinks, startled at the closeness, but the kid keeps his hand against the beskar. Din mirrors the gesture, resting the knuckles of one hand against the child’s soft cheek.
“We’ll be okay. You and me, pal. Understand?” he asks gently.
The kid blinks those large, dark eyes, and Din wonders if he’s failed to reach him. Then the child lowers his hands, letting out a cheerful babble with a tilt of his head, and the tension in Din’s chest and gut falls away.
Yeah. He’ll be okay.
The kid chirrups again, voice rising in a question. Din thinks he recognizes what the kid is asking. “You hungry?”
Food. He dimly remembers a few ration bars, tucked in at the back of his belt, swiped from the Crest before they’d left. He sets the kid down beside him, then pulls out two bars and unwraps them both for the kid. Din’s thirsty, after everything, but the idea of food holds no interest yet.
“Here,” Din rasps. “Eat.” He carefully straightens up, taking a moment to slowly swing his legs over the edge of the bed. What normally takes a second leaves him breathless.
He gets to his feet, using the bedpost for support. He’s still wearing boots, his armor aside from the cuirass. It’s all so much heavier than it should be. He lets out a hiss between his teeth and crosses the room to the refresher, one step at a time. Water.
Once inside the refresher he sinks down onto the seat, removing his helmet and setting it into his lap. He glances up and sees his face in the cracked, streaky mirror, the skin blotchy and pale, hair a matted tangle, eyes swollen. There’s residue on his face, dried pinkish red around his mouth and nose. The sight makes him run cold.
It had been so close.
He flicks the water on, strips off his gloves and sets them into his upturned helmet. He cups his hands together beneath the faucet, the cold water spilling over the edges of his palms.
He drinks, and it’s enough.
The ship awaits them. Unfortunately, it's barely better off than it was when they left it. The Razor Crest drips with Mon Calamari detritus, rope rigging and tangles of seaweed crisscrossing the ship's hold. Din shakes his head, stepping aboard with the kid in his arms. It’s not great. It’ll do to limp along to something better.
He allows himself a faint chuckle, putting himself in the same category.
He’s mostly recovered. He can still feel it, the way his lungs don’t fully expand the way they should, the way he gets a little winded when he’s up and walking around. But he’s so much better than he was, and getting better every day. Thanks to the kid, and his powers.
He glances down at him; he seems fascinated by the Crest’s new decorations. Din brushes a hand over the back of the kid’s head and the little one coos, reaching out to bat at a clump of seaweed.
“You like this, huh?” he asks. “Don’t get used to it.” Soon as I’m up to it, this stuff’s getting spaced.
The kid giggles at the slimy seaweed in his hands, and Din softens. Maybe he’ll leave it up for a little bit, anyway.
He carefully takes the ladder up into the cockpit, only huffing a little. He’s grateful for the way he takes oxygen in, the way it sustains. He finally turned off the oxygen concentration function of his helmet this morning, and he hasn’t missed it. It’s a good feeling, one that’s been growing as he’s gotten closer to recovery.
He doesn’t remember much of the past few days. He remembers the Quarren innkeeper hollering outside about their time being up, until Din lurched to his feet and shoved a pile of credits at him through the crack in the door. He remembers the innkeeper, mollified, bringing up bowls of steaming soup and leaving them out in the hall for Din to slowly bring inside, one at a time. He remembers how good it tasted, rich and briny and hot, hot, hot. He remembers sighing so loudly the kid’s ears twitched, and the kid let out the longest, tiniest, happiest sigh Din had ever heard.
He remembers a realization.
He had found it hard to talk on the second day, between the lingering heaviness in his chest and the bone-deep exhaustion. The kid, though, had seemed to bounce right back after using his powers, and had taken to relentlessly exploring the room for things to do.
Din watched him roam, crawling under the bed, playing with the empty drawers of the dinged-up dresser, trying to climb up the wall to see out the window. The kid was gonna hurt himself if he wasn’t careful, and Din couldn’t afford another scare. He reached out and planted the kid on his lap the next time his circuit around the room brought him close.
Inspiration struck. So it was hard to speak. So what? He had options.
He held up a finger. The kid watched keenly.
Look here, he signed in Tusken, fingers splitting and then rising up to his visor. The kid tilted his head, focusing.
We can talk like this. A wide sweep, a hand raised up near the mouth, palms spreading wide. Din waited. The kid had seen him use Tusken before, but for some reason, Din had never tried it with the kid. He’d always seemed to understand Basic well enough for how young he seemed to be, but he’d never spoken a word of it that Din could make out. He wondered why he hadn’t tried this earlier.
Do you understand? Din asked, hands flattening, circling, ending with a soft point of the index finger. He asked it a few times, varying the speed and size of the question, trying to see if the child understood.
The kid’s ears quivered, as if trying to catch something far in the distance. He held out his small three-fingered hands, and tried a clumsy sign for you.
Din leaned forward, hitching a sharp breath at the effort. Do you understand me?
The kid signed you again. Tried it a few times, the word smoothing out the more he tried, getting clearer.
Good job. It was hard to say if the kid really got it, or if he thought it was just a game. But it was promising to see his ears perking up, his dark eyes wide and interested, his mouth in a toothy, tiny grin.
Din smiled beneath his helmet. If this worked, they might be able to understand each other a lot better. The kid could ask him for help. Din could make it clear what was off limits and not to be bothered with. It was heartening as hell, a bright spot glimmering in the midst of some of the shittiest days he’d had in years.
And then a name swam into his head, causing his hands to drop, slowly, back into his lap.
It wasn’t going to matter soon if the kid learned Tusken or Basic. He’d be back with the Jedi.
And Din would be alone, again.
His hands, trembling, spoke for him. Fingers flashed much too quickly for a beginner to learn; phrases scaffolded in front of him, words in motion, hands unfolding with meaning he knew the kid couldn’t hope to guess. The little one gazed up at him.
Thank you for saving my life --
I promise I’ll help you, no matter what --
I’m really going to miss you, kid --
Din’s eyes stung. He blinked once, twice, and stilled his hands. He’d said too much. The kid reached out and held onto his palms, his hands weighing almost nothing at all against Din’s own.
Din swallowed, looking into those trusting eyes. “Okay, kid,” he said hoarsely. “Come on. Let’s try again.”
Din shakes the memory off. He knows what he has been quested to do, that Mandalorians keep their word. He’s promised to find the place the kid belongs, and he would rather die -- nearly did -- than leave that promise unfulfilled.
The door to the cockpit slides open, and Din groans. The Mon Calamari’s handiwork is even more ridiculous here than in the rest of the ship. A dangling fishnet slaps him in the helmet, and he shoves it aside irritably as he buckles the kid into his favorite seat. Even through the helmet, the whole place stinks of brine.
“Mon Calarami,” he grumbles. “Unbelievable.”
He powers up the ship, starts easing it into the atmosphere. The ship shakes beneath him, clearly wounded. He can tell by the feel and the instrumentation that the ship should hold together for travel… barely.
A strange noise catches his attention, and he reaches out, grabbing some kind of sea creature that looks like it was about to pounce on the kid. The child burbles with delight and Din shakes his head. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. He squeezes until he’s sure the creature’s dead, then hands it to the kid for a snack. It’s not as hideous as some of the things he’s seen him eat, anyway.
“I finally know where I’m taking you,” Din tells him. “But it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.”
The starfield opens up before them. He takes a deep breath -- hold together, now -- and punches it to hyperspace. The stars ribbon past them, and Din leans back in his seat, relieved. It’ll be enough to get somewhere safe. Before they find the Jedi.
The ship vibrates around them, and Din makes a running list in his head of things he needs to check, wiring that needs to be redone, processes to recalibrate, repairs that need to be made, Mon Calamari detritus that needs to be jettisoned. He could start work on it now. Get it done. It'd be the efficient thing to do.
Instead, Din turns to the kid. “Hey. You wanna practice what we learned?” His hands flash before him as he speaks, tracing out the sentence structure in Tusken. “You can do it.”
He knows he doesn’t need to bother. He can speak again without losing his breath, and what’s more, he knows the kid will leave him soon. He knows it’s not enough time to teach proficiency, that it probably won’t make a difference for the kid in the long run.
But the kid likes it, and Din does, too. Maybe that’s enough.
The kid stares at him intently, moves his small hands in little circles, makes a fist. He grins, clearly pleased with himself.
Din laughs, hands shifting in affirmation, echoing the kid’s words. “That’s right, kid.”
The kid’s hands sign again, repeating the phrase Din had gone on to teach him, the signs clumsy but clear.
You. And me.
89 notes · View notes
under the same roof
part two: an old friend
a harry styles rpf
part two of six
ratings/warnings: the stalking comes to an alarming head via chase, suggestion of violent intent, aggressive emotions, fuck the patriarchy
notes: things get serious, intimacy occurs, we all suffer. moments were edited or cut to reinforce the utter lack of actual romance in a real stalking situation, but I promise we’ve made up for it in later parts!
fun fact: on a lighter note, this series should probably just be titled: sweet things that have actually occurred to annie that she forgot she wrote in and so suffers in every edit session.
masterlist | part one | part three (14.12.2020)
• friday, 4th january 8:34 pm •
Blood roars in your ears as you sprint through the parking garage, but the sound isn’t loud enough to drown out the pounding footfalls that aren’t your own. Every gulp of air burns your throat but you can’t stop, you can’t even slow down. The hum of industrial ceiling lights overhead is the only other sound. No one would hear you scream.
You’d heard the second car door after yours, and the initial footsteps. A quick turn of your head was your worst fear realized: the blue-eyed man beelining towards you, so quickly you’d barely had a chance to try and outpace him. A heavy hand landed on your shoulder as the man grabbed a fistful of your cardigan before yanking back on the fabric. Twisting desperately against his hold, you’d heard a faint pop-pop-pop as the stitching around your collar snapped and gave. You’d practically fallen away from him before scrambling upright, sliding with little traction on the dusty concrete beneath your feet, and bolting towards the open center of the lot. Your breath pours out into the air.
There are no security cameras. Why are there no security cameras?
A white, hot panic inside your head makes it hard to think, but you must. You can’t take the lift as it leads to a dead end, so it’ll have to be the stairs. The torn neck of your sweater leaves one of your shoulders naked to the cold. You came so close to draping a scarf around your shoulders before you left your apartment this morning. Had you kept it on, you could have been dead by now.
You tear through the door to the stairwell at the other end of the garage and take the steps by two. At any moment an obstacle could arise—a locked door, a dead phone battery, a hard fall on the stairs—and that would be it for you. You’d be a gruesome headline or a face on a milk carton. You would never see your siblings, or India, or Chowder, or your parents ever again. Hot tears sting the corners of your eyes. On the last flight of stairs before the lobby, the sound of the stairwell door slamming echoes up the passageway. You look instinctively. A black, gloved hand is making its way up the railing.
You almost lose your balance bursting through to the lobby, and even though your legs are screaming, you do what all the brochures have ever told you to do and break into another full-fledged run to the lift around the corner. You wish you’d chosen a building with a doorman or security desk—some kind of human checkpoint.
“No, no, no,” you beg under your breath, launching an arm between the closing doors. You stumble, half expecting it to be empty, and find yourself face to face with Harry.
His eyes skim you over, widening from behind his glasses. You’re still clinging to the doors of the lift. Down the hall and around the bend, the door to the stairwell bangs open again; you wince. Harry’s eyebrows knit together.
Thinking on your feet, you lurch inside and drag your hand along the keypad, illuminating just about every random floor up to the penthouses in the twenties, but not eight, and nothing before it. Harry’s eyes dart between yours and the doors. The footsteps in the hall behind you grow louder. You smash the close door button a dozen times, but something in you knows it’s a lost effort.
You rush forward and tuck yourself into Harry’s side, tearing his name tag off and stuffing it in your bag. He startles, twisting to look at you, but you stick to your guns and slip your arm around his back. A moment later your eyes meet in the vaguely distorted metallic reflection above the keypad. Harry’s eyes are full of questions; a plea is in yours. For a second time, the doors of the lift begin to close but are stopped by an interjecting hand. A third body enters.
It is him. That yellow-grey hair, the wrinkles and the scar on his lip, the worn, leathery skin… Immediately, the man turns to stare at you, and scoffs. You jump, your hand instinctively grasping the back of Harry’s jacket. You will your knees to be still.
The lift doors close. It is silent until the car lurches upward.
Suddenly you feel a warm, heavy pressure across your shoulders. In the reflection of the doors, you watch Harry’s arm wrap around you. He squeezes once. Your frantic gaze is pinned down by his much more fixed one. He feels so solid pressed into your side, and his eyes are solemn behind his glasses. More serious, maybe, than you’ve ever seen in the last year.
Harry’s lips quirk—the suggestion of a smile—before he looks down at his feet: a ruse of casual nonchalance. Your stomach twists.
The blue-eyed man sighs impatiently. Harry moves his hand to your waist and pulls you even tighter into his side. The car bounces to a stop on the sixth floor with a ding. As the doors glide open, it dawns on you that you had not thought this all the way through to the end.
Do you go with Harry? What if you put Sylvia in danger? What if the man follows you?
Harry’s arm drops from your shoulders.
The same white hot panic from the garage sears behind your eyes. Is this it? Is Harry about to leave you alone to your fate?
You almost miss his hand reaching back for you, like it’s something he does all the time. Harry squeezes, hard enough to nearly be painful. It starts you into motion. Your legs feel stiff and inflexible like they can’t remember how to walk as he pulls you along, keeping himself between you and the blue-eyed man.
The doors close.
Harry glances over his shoulder, your hand still tight in his. He gently guides you to walk in front of him, and you shudder at the thought of the man still watching. You do not hear a third pair of footsteps trailing you, and you do not dare turn around to check. There’s something eerie in walking down a hall identical to your own but knowing that none of these doors are yours.
“This is me.” Harry’s voice is low around the jingle of his keys as he nods to the only door in the hallway hung with a wreath. You say nothing as he steps aside to let you through.
He peers into the hall one last time once you’re both inside before locking the door, deadbolt, and chain guard. You lean your back against the wall with your arms across your chest, clutching your sides. He looks over at you slowly, hesitates, and takes a step toward you. His Adam's apple bobs. Suddenly the air leaves your lungs entirely and you begin to heave.
You feel as though you’d been sprinting on a treadmill for an hour and then stopped immediately, which keeps you from realizing that Harry has been saying your name. Tears gather in your eyes again; if you allowed yourself to blink, they would spill over. You begin to sink against the wall. Harry catches your elbows in his hands, but you keep sinking anyway. He follows you all the way down to the floor.
“Sorry,” you gasp.
“You’re safe.” Harry just shakes his head. “I’ve got you.” You nod and try to send a few deep breaths to the pit of your stomach, then clear your throat.
“Call the police.”
Harry doesn’t need to be told twice. He’s on his feet, flicking on light switches and digging his phone from out of his bag. You hear, “Yes, hello. I’d like to report… following my neighbor.” Your mind reels.
Harry’s voice sounds almost distorted, like you’re underwater. “In my apartment with me.” You catch, “...followed her into the lift,” as well as “Yes,” and “No,” to a series of questions before he reappears with a concentrated frown, watching you. “She’s safe.”
You pick yourself up off the floor and Harry gestures to the small two-person dining table. He angles his cellphone down to his chest as he’s pulling the chair out for you.
“Do you want to speak with them?” he whispers.
You take a deep breath and nod, holding out your hand. Your fingers tremble, so you place it face up on the table instead and turn on the speaker. He may as well find out now; you can’t imagine having to explain all this a second time.
“Hello, my name’s Officer Warren. We hear you’ve had quite a scare tonight. I know it’s hard, but try to stay as calm as possible and just answer a few questions for me as best you can.”
The fact that the dispatcher is a woman comforts you. “Okay.”
“Are you injured?”
“Can you just confirm your full name for me? And your address?”
You rattle off your details, noting with strange detachment that you and Harry live precisely two floors apart. His flat is 6F; yours is 8F.
“How long have you lived there?”
“Almost a year.”
“And how long have you been in the UK?”
“About two and a half years. I’m a student at UCL.”
“I understand you’re with a neighbor. Do you feel as though you’re in immediate danger?”
You look up at Harry before your eyes dart to his front door, hesitating for longer than you want to. “No.”
“Can you tell me what’s happened?”
You close your eyes. “A man tried to grab me in the parking garage.”
“Was this a man you’ve met before?”
“He’s been following me since June. I see him everywhere I go. It happened the first few times in public places like on my walk home or when I go jogging, but then I started seeing him everywhere.” Your eyes open again. “Like, I’ve seen him on campus and in restaurants where I was eating. He was walking behind me the first time I ever went to Ilford for work, which is completely out of my way. He took the same tube as me once and tried to grab my hand.” You hear Harry’s knuckles crack across the table from you.
“And how long ago was that?”
“Have you ever come to the police with this information?”
“Yes. I filed a report at the Lavender Hill station on the first of October and we went through some headshots but none of them were him.”
You hear a series of keystrokes. “Yes, I see your file here. And can you describe what happened today?”
“I was picking up some archives at the Ilford Historical Society–”
“Yes. I’m a research assistant. They have a postbox under my advisor’s name. I usually pick up the archives for the week on Thursdays, but I didn’t get around to it until a few hours ago. It’s usually just three or four storage boxes but today there was a sealed yellow envelope—”
Your voice runs higher, choked. You turn away from Harry as you swallow another wave of emotion, but your voice is hardly any different when you begin speaking again. When you turn back, Harry’s hand is a little closer to yours on the table.
“Today there was this big yellow envelope with my name handwritten on it and I figured it was just something from my advisor, so after I carried everything to the car, I opened it, and it… there were all these pictures of me.”
“Are you able to tell where these photos were taken? What you were doing in them?”
Your bag sits half open on the table beside you; you can tell without looking that Harry’s followed your eyes to the mustard yellow envelope poking out the top.
You don’t want to open it again. You don’t have to. The images are burned behind your eyelids.
“There’s one of me on the tube looking at my phone. Another one of me leaving the shops. There’s a few at the gym.” You sniffle. “Most of them are taken through the window of my flat. They must’ve been across the street because you can see me through the blinds and I’m—when I don’t…” You stare at the edge of the table. “When I’m undressing.”
You lean your forehead into your hand. Harry is stock still across from you. The pause before the officer speaks again feels like it stretches forever.
“Can you tell when the most recent photo was taken?”
It takes a beat to admit, “It’s from two nights ago,” and the words taste bitter in your mouth. The clack of a keyboard is audible again through the phone.
“You said you’ve been to the Lavender Hill station before? Have you reported these photos yet?”
You gather your thoughts. “I was going to go straight there, but I wrote these long descriptions of all the past times I’d seen him. The officer I spoke to the first time I went in, she told me to write down absolutely everything I remembered, so I did—the times of day I’d seen him, where I was, what I was wearing… She said having my own record would help my chances of opening an investigation. I keep all of that at home in my flat, so I decided to go home and grab my notes to bring with me to the station, along with the pictures. I borrow my best friend’s car to commute to Ilford, so I drove straight home.”
“And what happened when you got home? In the car park?”
You take a deep breath. And then another. Your eyes squeeze shut again.
“Take all the time you need.”
“I turned into the car park… I pulled into my usual spot. I took off my jacket and left it in the passenger seat, thinking I would come back to it in a minute. I got out of the car and locked it… ” You swallow dryly. “I heard a car door shut behind me. I turned around and saw the man—I recognized him.”
“Do you remember what he was wearing?”
“He was wearing, um, black gloves, a grey sweater, black jeans, and I think his shoes were black too.” You frown at your hands. “I could hear how quickly he was walking up behind me. I tried to get away, and he—” You swallow. “He grabbed me. Or at least, he tried. He tore the seam of my sweater and I managed to like, pull away. And then I just ran. I was too scared to try the lift so I just took the stairs all the way up to the lobby. But he followed me.”
Your eyes flicker up to Harry absently before you go on. “Harry was in the lift—the—my neighbor, so I ran over and put my arm around him to make it seem like I wasn’t alone.” Harry nods at you from across the table.
“And the man was able to follow you into the lift?”
The tips of your fingers ache at the memory of slamming desperately into the close door button. “Yes.”
“Did he try to communicate with you in any way?”
You shake your head and then remember she can’t see you. “No. He was just staring at me.”
“Has he ever approached you or tried to make contact before?”
“Just the one time on the tube and the pictures.”
“Were you followed out of the lift?”
“And you’re in your neighbor’s flat now, is that right?”
“Yeah.” You run your sleeve beneath your nose with a sniffle.
“And the man knows which floor you got off at?”
“Do the windows in both of your flats face out on the same street?”
Your stomach drops. “Yes… They do.”
“I want you to remain calm and stay on the line, can you do that for me?”
It’s deadly quiet as you and Harry look at each other. You feel eerily as though you’ve wound up in a Hitchcock film. “Yes.”
“Move away from the windows and find a place in the flat that’s not visible from the street—”
The legs of Harry’s chair are scraping the floor before you get the chance to react.
“...and do not turn out any lights or change the way any of the blinds are positioned.”
“C’mere.” Harry’s voice is gravely urgent. He leads you to the kitchen with a hand between your shoulder blades, and brushes past you to lower the blinds of a small window above the sink. Your eyes widen as your hand reaches toward him.
He glances back, too late.
“Don’t… ” You stumble. “Don’t fix any more of those.”
He nods once.
“Yes, don’t touch the blinds. Don’t change anything that would make it look out of the ordinary. If someone has been staking out your building from the same place across the street every night, you could give yourself away and put you both at risk.”
“Okay.” Harry leans against the sink with his arms crossed, and you mirror him.
“Since you already have a file on record and the whereabouts of this man are still uncertain, it might do more harm than good to have you come in again for questioning at this hour. But we’ll need you to come by first thing in the morning. You absolutely cannot go back to your flat tonight. He knows very well which unit is yours, and he’s clearly found access into the building somehow. Do not turn on the lights, do not fuss with the blinds, do not go to retrieve any belongings. If it’s something dire, an officer can escort you.”
“And don’t leave the building, either. If you need a place to stay, there’s a section of the precinct that can hold you till morning. An officer will have to drive you there, too.”
“Okay,” you parrot.
“Listen carefully. It’s not forever, but right now we need you to keep yourself absolutely out of sight. Anything that could result in your being followed… Well, we would strongly advise against your taking unnecessary risks. We obviously want to keep you and anyone else involved as safe as possible.”
“A patrol officer is en route to your address. He’ll stay posted outside the building for a few hours. If something happens, don’t hesitate to call. Is this a number we can redial if need be?”
You look up to Harry; he nods fiercely. “Yes.”
“Try to get some rest. You’re safe now, and we’ll see you first thing in the morning.”
“Thank you, officer.”
You pass Harry’s phone back to him before digging through your bag to retrieve your own. The dial tone rings in your ear as you turn to face the living room. You’re sent to voicemail.
“Uh… hi, Mom. It’s me. Just give me a call back when you get this, okay? I—um… Everything’s fine I should just… give you an update, so. Anyways. Talk soon. Love you.” You set your phone down on the counter, but can’t manage to meet his eyes.
Some part of you had been worried that he would judge you—or worse, pity you. He doesn’t speak, nor does he try to touch you. Your eyes are pulled towards two sets of rainbow-painted handprints stuck to Harry’s fridge—one large, one tiny. A wave of nausea washes over you at the imposition you’ve entitled yourself to, the risk involved, the implications.
“Thank you.” Harry jumps at the sound of your voice. “For everything. I should—” you loop an arm through the strap of your bag— “I should go.”
“Woah, woah, woah… ” Harry catches your arm before you can take three steps. You freeze. He releases you immediately. “And go where? You heard the officer, yeah?” He’s shaking his head slowly. “You can’t go back to your flat.”
“I did hear her,” you counter. It comes out more curt than you had meant it. “There’s a safe place for me to sleep at the precinct… Thank you again, I can show myself out.”
“That’s ridiculous—” You turn away and he says your name, once, imploring. It’s more of a plea than a demand, keeping you still. You still have your eyes on the door, but since you’re no longer moving, Harry goes on.
“You can stay here, it’s fine. I’ve got a spare bed n’ all. You can sleep in Vi’s room.” Your resolve wavers. His voice is a pitch softer as he asks, “What is it?”
Your mouth hangs open a moment before you can find the right words.
“I don’t—we don’t…” We don’t know each other seems far too accusatory with everything that’s transpired between you, especially after tonight. You grind your teeth, reeling the words back. Harry’s fingers touch your elbow, hesitating, and when you don’t pull away he wraps his hand gently around your arm.
Tears well up in your eyes and you can’t blame them on the guilt, fear, or relief alone… all of it at once leaves you itching to escape.
“We’re practically strangers,” you settle on finally. “I put you in danger, and I put your family in danger—”
Harry’s thumb rotates in tiny circles in the crook of your arm, a touch so light you can barely feel it. You think unbidden of the lift on New Year’s Eve, and the brush of his lips over yours. You want to fall headlong back into that memory—to abate what is shaping up to be one of the worst nights of your life.
You blink. “What?”
He smiles at you—a quick, sanguine flicker of a thing.
“I’m Harry… Styles. I’m twenty-six. I graduated from Kings with a Bachelors in Art History and Psychology. I’m an Administrative Assistant to the Director of the National Gallery—” his smile is real now, wider— “But sometimes I pick up shifts keepin’ an eye on the gallery for the extra few quid… I have a daughter named Sylvia. She’s almost five. I get her every other week. I grew up in Cheshire. I have a sister named Gemma and my mum’s name is Anne.”
You sniffle. “Why are you telling me all this?”
“So you and I aren’t strangers anymore.”
You have no idea how to respond.
“You’ve never been here before,” Harry continues. “If someone’s been keeping close tabs on our building, then maybe this is the safest place for you right now. If I felt you were putting my daughter in harm’s way—” you open your mouth to speak and he raises a finger— “I would ask you to leave… As it is, if you go now, I feel that I would be putting you in harm’s way… And I don’t want to.” The two of you stand at a stalemate. “Please don’t make me.”
Harry lets go of your arm and eventually backs up to lean against the sink again. You could leave if you wanted to. Eventually you sigh and drop your bag down to the kitchen floor with a thud.
“Are you hungry?” Harry asks. “I was gonna fix something for myself anyway.”
You shake your head. “I don’t think I could eat anything right now.”
The more powerful urge is to erase this night from memory, to scrub away the feeling of a rough hand on your shoulder. You absently rub your thumb into the sleeve of your shirt where the grime from the door to the stairwell had smeared. Your shoulder is still bare from the gaping hole.
Harry tilts his head, as if he’s going to say something more, but you blurt, “Could I use your shower actually?”
“Of course.” He leads you to the end of a brief hallway with three adjacent doors, only one of which is open.
“Be back in a sec.” Harry emerges moments later with two folded towels, then flicks on the light as you trail behind him. Your eyes are immediately drawn to Harry in the broad mirror that covers the entire wall above the sink. His bathroom is virtually identical to yours, but it’s striking to see his familiar reflection somewhere outside of the lift.
Harry pushes aside the curtain to the shower. “Fuck.”
He sets the towels down on the toilet seat and hastily gathers up the army of rainbow rubber ducks lined along the rim of the tub, before yanking off a plastic water wheel suction cupped to the faucet. Clear synthetic stickers in the shape of cartoon rocket ships and planets cling to the shower wall which Harry peels off in a stack before scooping out a myriad of other colorful knick-knacks from the bottom of the tub.
“Harry, you don’t have to do that.”
“I’m just now realizing how mad this must look to someone who isn’t the parent of a four-year-old—”
“Harry, please. You’re already doing so much for me. You don’t need to remodel your bathroom.”
“Alright, well… ” Harry rises, brushing his hands down the front of his suit trousers with flushed cheeks and glasses halfway down his nose. He cards his fingers through his hair. “Just be careful not to step on those little sparkly buggers. They’re the most painful by far.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” You have to suppress an laugh at the image of him having stepped on every last toy in the tub enough to compare.
“So, like, the red is hot and obviously the blue is cold but it’s very sensitive so I find it’s best to just leave it at about three o’clock—wait you…” Harry shakes his head with a frown. “You probably have the same one, don’t you?”
You nod, wringing your hands. “Do you have a shirt or something I could borrow for after?”
“Of course,” he almost cuts you off, disappearing into the hallway. You perch on the edge of the tub and run the faucet to adjust the temperature. There’s three raps on the door.
“Come in!” you call. Harry squeezes through the door and you catch his eyes in the mirror.
“Let me know if these fit.” You watch his reflection lift the clean towels, put down the bundle of clothes, and restack the linens on top with the ease of someone who’s clearly used to taking care of someone else.
“Thank you, I’m sure they’ll be fine.”
He nods and closes the door firmly behind him. Sylvia’s bath wrap, bright yellow and embroidered with her initials, hangs by its duck shaped hood on a hook next to the door. Steam is starting to rise from the shower. You take a deep lungful and step in carefully.
Although childrens’ soaps and clutter are unfamiliar, the water pressure is the same as the shower in your apartment, if not better. It pounds down against your back and shoulders, and for a minute you let yourself just stand in the hot spray. It takes several seconds of inner coaxing before you can close your eyes and tilt your head back beneath the water. A hardened blue stare flashes in your mind’s eye, but you push it back determinedly. You think of Harry’s clear, level gaze. You think of the way he’d looked as he pinned a poppy to your chest—as he’d drank from that half-empty bottle of Prosecco.
So you turn your attention to the soap instead. It’s strange to see the source of several of the mingling scents you’ve picked up from him in the lift over so many months, and even more strange to pick the bottles up and use them on yourself. But there’s something cathartic in the act of scrubbing yourself raw, especially the spot on your shoulder where you had to wrench yourself away from that painful grip. By the time the last of the shampoo and soap are swirling down the drain, buoying a tiny rubber duck that Harry had missed, you finally feel a bit more like yourself again.
The towels are in easy reach. You wrap your hair in one, wind the other around your body, and tiptoe across the bathmat, wading through a junkyard of toys. A hotel toothbrush packaged in plastic lays atop the pile of clothes Harry had left, so you quickly brush your teeth before giving the bathroom a cursory tidy. You have to roll up the cuffs of his sweatpants to your ankles. You can barely see your own reflection, so you crack open the door to air out the steam a bit. Somewhere a kettle shrieks.
You creep into the hall, clutching a neat bundle of your clothes and set your things down on the chest table in the entryway before joining him in the kitchen. Harry has changed out of his work suit and into a plain white tee shirt and grey sweatpants. Sundry, mismatched tattoos are scattered all along his left arm and it catches you by surprise. No rings. You have no idea what to do with yourself, faced with the reality that you’re standing in Harry’s flat, wearing his clothes, smelling like him.
You lean gingerly against the counter, sort of surprising yourself as you blurt out, “I thought you said you were hungry?”
Harry freezes, like he is both realizing you’re there, and also that he contradicted himself. “Lost my appetite I guess. Tea?”
“I’d love some, yeah. If there’s enough water. Thanks.”
You watch as Harry pulls down a veritable armada of teabags. “Gotta be prepared,” he says with a vaguely self-deprecating smile. “We take our tea seriously over here. These—” Harry gestures— “haven’t got caffeine.”
Something tells you that an entire bottle of cold medicine couldn’t knock you out tonight. “Whatever you’re having is fine.”
Your phone vibrates against your hip and you pull it out to skim the text from your mom.
Hi honey. Sorry I missed your call, hope everything is alright… It’s late for you now so I’ll try back in the morning. Hugs.
You pull your bottom lip between your teeth as guilt taps you on the shoulder. You’re drained and it would be lovely not to rehash tonight’s events for a second time when you know it would do nothing but worry her. Since you’re in reasonably good hands, you lock your phone and shove it back into the pocket of Harry’s sweats.
“How do you take it?” Harry murmurs.
“With a little bit of milk, if you don’t mind.” He places your tea on the counter beside you before adding the milk.
“I don’t mind,” he mocks your accent gently, and it bothers you how good he is at it. Harry passes you the mug.
You raise it to your nose and inhale the steam. “Thank you, Harry, for being so… okay with all of this, and for just like, making me feel… ” You trail off, shaking your head. “I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to have, like, an ounce of normalcy tonight after all that.”
You tuck a strand of wet hair behind your ear. Harry pushes his glasses up his nose with his thumb and idly plays with the tag hanging by a string over the side of his mug.
“I’ve heard you take responsibility a dozen times tonight for the danger that someone else put you in,” he says after a minute. His eyes are vaguely unfocused, and trained on the blinds. “Tonight was not your fault. Like, you were smart, brave and all that, but you shouldn’t have had to be.” He takes a sip. “I’m glad I was there.”
Harry doesn’t say anything else.
It’s cathartic in a way you wouldn’t have expected, to hear him state it back to you so plainly and without nuance. There’s not a thing you could say to that in defense of the argument that you are indeed to blame. But there were other choices I could have made. I shouldn’t have gone running that morning. I should have known to be more vigilant, buying those groceries. It was reckless of me to choose sheer curtains. I should have apparated to class instead of taking the tube. The logic sounds absurd to you in a new way when held up to the light.
You absently stir your tea; there’s an orange tabby painted on the ceramic.
Harry’s eyebrows fly up. “Sorry?”
“My cat! He’s all on his own in my apartment.”
“Does he have water?”
“Yeah, and food. And he's a few years old so he’ll be fine. I just feel awful, he’s never spent the night alone.” You shake your head. “Sorry for making you jump, it just crossed my mind.”
“No, it’s okay… Do you want—should I go up and check on him for you?”
“No, no. That’s not necessary. I’m just, you know, a terrible cat mom.”
“Ha!” Harry barks. It’s the loudest sound you’ve ever heard him make. “You don’t even want to… Oh Christ,” he shakes his head, creasing with laughter, “You have no idea.”
“What?” You ask after a minute, unable to help yourself from joining in his laughter. His face is turning pink.
“Do you have any idea how many nappies I’ve put on backwards? How many haircuts I’ve botched? I mean with my real, human child. I assembled both of Sylvia’s cribs upside down because the instructions were in Japanese. One after the other. It was the same fucking crib.” He deadpans your name at you. “Sylvia’s first word was fuck because Daddy couldn’t shake the habit of saying it all the fucking time.”
“Oh my god.”
“Yeah. We thought she was just a quiet kid, but then we were getting concerned that she wasn’t speaking by her second birthday. We took her to a speech therapist. So imagine you’re me, watching your daughter in her little highchair with her mum right up in her face, going, “Vi can you say ma-ma? And the child throws her binkie… and yells, Fuck!”
You’re laughing so hard it’s completely silent.
“Didn’t say it.” He swipes a tear from the corner of his eye, and it bumps up his glasses a little. “Yelled it. Not a thing wrong with her… Oh,” Harry sighs. “Annie wouldn't speak to me for a week.” He shakes his head.
“So, like, newsflash… ” He takes a sip of his tea. “Nobody has any idea what they’re doing. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent or, um—cat mum as you said.”
“So…” you venture after a pause. “Annie?”
Harry laughs once through his nose, rolling his eyes. “Alright, alright. Fair.” He sets his tea down on the counter. “Thought maybe we’d get to have this conversation over Prosecco,” he says, chuckling dryly.
“Sylvia was definitely… unexpected… ” Harry begins delicately. “But she’s, like the funniest person I know and also my favorite person on the planet. So… I dunno. It worked out.” He clears his throat. “She was conceived on the night I met her mum at a pub in Essex and that was that. Haven’t really looked back. Annie—Vi’s mum—is an amazing person. We were never in love or anythin’ even close, but she’s the best co-parent I could ever dream of.”
“Vi’s a cute nickname.”
“S’her first name, actually.” Harry smiles over the rim of his mug. “Lanh Vi.” His voice dips low and elongates the first syllable. “Lanh means gentle, happy. Vi is a family name. Annie wanted to give that to her parents, a proper Vietnamese name on her birth certificate. Sylvia’s sort of a good compromise for when she goes to school.”
Harry stares at some middle distance, smiling like he isn’t even aware he’s doing it. “Annie’s parents took a little convincing that any of this was going to work out—mine too—but I love our unconventional little family, and I’m really looking forward to her wedding. Sylvia’s in store for two really incredible mums.” He looks back at you and shrugs. “It’s not such a bad life. Sometimes I wish there was a more exciting answer.”
“That doesn’t seem like a bad life at all.”
The corners of Harry’s lips drop a little the moment you open your mouth. His head is tilted slightly as though he’s trying to gauge your reaction. You try to mirror the same, reassuring smile he’d given you earlier, then cover a yawn with your hand.
“What time is it?” you ask. Harry checks his phone.
“Half ten—or just gone.”
“No it’s not,” you frown, but he holds up his phone to show you. “Oh god…”
“Time flies when you’re talking about parenthood.” He takes your empty mugs, setting them carefully in the sink.
Without turning around Harry announces, “I think I’m gonna have you sleep in my bed and I’ll take the air mattress in Sylvia’s room.”
“No.” You shake your head. “Harry I swear if you insist on that, I’m calling a taxi to the police station.”
“No, honestly… They’re the only two rooms in the flat with the blinds consistently drawn, and her room’s empty most nights anyway since I’m such a pushover.” It takes a moment for that comment to sink in and when it does you feel your heart melt a little. “You’ll sleep much better in my bed than on my inherited air mattress from the nineties.”
“I won’t,” you lie seamlessly. “I don’t sleep well in new places anyway, so at least one of us should get a good night’s rest.”
“Whatever makes you most comfortable,” he relents.
You’re glad you don’t have to argue about it. “Thank you.”
Harry leads you to the linen cabinet in the hallway and removes a cardboard box from the very top shelf. An enormous dust cloud falls like an avalanche down his shirt and he coughs hysterically, scrunching his nose.
“Last chance to change your mind,” Harry croaks, wiping his glasses on the front of his shirt. You shake your head and he turns to the door across from his, where his bed is half visible in shadow. The two of you shuffle into a cubby of a room, and Harry drops the box onto the plush pile rug with a thud.
Your neck cranes as you look around the tiny space, about as roomy as the lift. The walls are painted navy blue with silver and gold stars exploding in a galaxy across the walls, and your hand floats to your chest in memory of when Sylvia had pointed at you with a tiny finger, recognizing the shape at the end of the chain hung around your neck.
Her bed frame is painted a deep, forest green and the two small pillows upon it are shaped like rain clouds. Plastic dinosaurs of all different sizes and colors line her windowsill. A small, homemade bookshelf is aligned by the bed.
“You mind helping me spread it?” Harry’s voice brings you back down to earth, and you grab two corners of the plastic to lay out the mattress like a picnic blanket on the floor.
It’s a tight squeeze, but at least it’s a queen. You look down at it with your hands on your hips, and Harry tilts his head, running a hand over his stubble. Harry steps back out into the hallway, ducking into his bedroom. You hear the creak of a closet door and shifting fabric as the beam of light from his room slants across the hall into Sylvia’s, illuminating a diagonal path right up through the wooden slats of her toybox. There’s a small, familiar shadow outline on top.
You crouch down to pick up Jojo and his mother in one hand, running your fingers over the soft velvet of their floppy ears. It feels a little odd, to be so comforted by a child’s toy that doesn't even belong to you, but here you are.
“I see you’ve found an old friend.”
Harry leans against the doorframe, watching you. His arms are full with a clean sheet, spare pillow, and quilt. The fondness in his voice is hard to miss, but you wonder if it’s for his daughter, for the toy, or for you.
“I would’ve thought Sylvia brought him to her mom’s, too.” Harry’s lips twitch with amusement before he puts the pillow and quilt on top of Sylvia’s dresser.
“She used to take him everywhere.” He visits every corner of the mattress to tuck the sheet around.
“Here, let me help you with—”
“No, no, it’s always easier like this before you blow it up.”
Harry steps into the corners of the room that aren’t completely swallowed up by the giant, deflated bed. He removes a paper lantern night light with constellation cutouts from its outlet, replacing it with the motor to the air mattress.
“This part always takes a bit.” The small plastic box sputters into a whine and the mattress begins to inflate. “Just give it a few minutes… S’ old.” Soft whirring fills the room before he speaks over it. “We almost lost him on a trip to Brighton once—” he nods at Jojo, still in your hands— “Vi was inconsolable until we found him wedged between the bed and the wall in the hotel. Managed to convince her that leaving him at home—or at least only to Bridget’s on the first floor while I’m at work—was the best way to keep him safe.”
He steals a glance at you and unfolds the massive quilt on top of the bed as it rises, before fluffing the pillow and tossing it to one of the long ends. “Then she started insisting on leaving him here on the weeks she spends at her mum’s.”
Harry’s smile is somewhere between pointedly self-deprecating and unbelievably loving. “Says she doesn’t want me to be lonely while she’s gone.”
Before you can fully process all the ways your heart is both warmed and a little broken, Harry is disappearing into the hall again, returning with a throw blanket and fanning it out over the quilt.
“Okay.” He pushes his glasses up his nose. “That should do it. Do you want another pillow?” He turns to you suddenly, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder. “I have a couple more on my—”
“No, no. This is more than enough… Thank you again, Harry,” You reassure him with the understanding that this is goodnight. Harry runs a hand through his hair and a little puff of dust is drawn out.
“If you, um—If you need anything, I’ll be… my bedroom’s just there.” He twists around to point. “Don’t hesitate to like… yeah, wake me up if you need—if you feel… ” He laughs once at himself, exasperated. “Sorry, I’m tired.” You shake your head and smile sympathetically.
“So am I.”
“Goodnight, then.” Harry backs out into the hallway. He pauses in Sylvia’s doorway, his hand still on the doorknob. At that exact moment, the motor clicks off and the sudden silence feels unbearably loud.
“I want you to feel safe here.” The room is so still that you see the shadow against Harry’s neck bob as he swallows in the yellow light of the hall. His eyes are steady and clear. You take a breath in, and nod.
“I do,” you say, steadfast. “I promise… Goodnight, Harry.”
He shuts the door behind him.
• saturday, 5th january 12:46 am •
There had been a knock, of that much you are sure.
One solitary rap jolts you from sleep, followed by the raucous succession of a dozen more as you sit up on the air mattress. It stops for a moment. Then starts up again.
“Harry?” you whisper into the blackness, your heart suddenly pounding. In your groggy trance, you weren’t sure the first time you heard it if someone was knocking on the door to Sylvia’s room, but by the time your eyes adjust, you’re sure it’s coming from farther away. It stops.
You’re still for a minute, careful not to rustle the quilt. There is no sound apart from a faint siren in the distance. You unplug your phone from where it charges beneath the nightlight, squinting at its bright little face.
Perhaps it’s a police officer? Surely they would have announced themselves, wouldn’t they? You slide down the mattress and creep up to the door, pressing an ear against the wood. There is nothing but the echo of your own blood rushing in your ear.
You have to close your eyes and count to three before turning the doorknob. Harry is already in the hall, the door to his bedroom left gaping. He turns to you and immediately brings a finger to his lips. The sound of an open hand smacking against the front door is unmistakable.
Harry inches towards the noise. He freezes suddenly, then twists to look at you, reaching his hand back with fingers outspread.
Harry rounds the corner out of sight until it becomes unbearable to stand there a moment longer. You tiptoe in his wake, and move at the same time he does. The only light in the flat spills from his open bedroom. Here in hall, the shadows are long and dark and Harry’s expression is harder to make out until he glances over his shoulder. He nods at you once before training his eyes on the door again.
Your feet move of their own accord, as though they have unilaterally decided that the safest place for you is as close to Harry as possible. It seems jarring to you, that this man in a tee shirt and boxers is the same man who, not a week ago, seemed like a piece of art with his burgundy suit and damp curls; the memory of loose limbs and laughter clashes against the image of him fraught before you.
Harry peers through the peephole. Your eyes are cemented to the back of his head and you begin to feel dizzy, only just realizing you’ve been holding your breath. He tenses.
In a freezing rush of dread, you suddenly know exactly who is on the other side of that door.
You know you shouldn’t panic. Harry raises a finger to his lips again in another soundless imperative and you know—from a place that feels somewhere outside your body—that the last thing you should be doing is opening your mouth. But this is a terror hurtling beyond fight or flight. Your primary functions are in a deadlock with a searing hysteria clamoring for you to scream, and something desperately carnal that believes you could only survive this moment if you were silent enough.
Harry is still gesturing at you to keep quiet. He turns his back to the door and approaches you, the weight of his gaze keeping you motionless. He reaches forward and presses his palm firmly against your parted lips. All of a sudden you’re just as close as you were in the lift four nights ago when he tasted like brandy and the beginning of something new. The look he had given you on New Year’s was playful and wanting. In this moment, however, a pair of hard and urgent eyes bore into yours, igniting the pit of your stomach with a different kind of fear.
Harry wraps his free hand around your wrist. You blink and blink. Beneath the steel resolve in his face, a desperate question forms: Do you trust me? You want to answer but you don’t know how. So you just keep staring. He pushes you backwards, gently, leading you around the corner and down the hall, his hand cupped to your mouth all the while. Even if you’d wanted to glance at the front door, Harry’s gaze is a magnet to your eyes.
He walks you all the way into his bedroom, until you feel the mattress on the backs of your knees. You’d fall if not for Harry letting go of your wrist to guide you down with a hand on your waist. His lips move soundlessly around the words, stay here, and you manage to nod. Only then does he release your mouth.
Your eyes can only focus on the closet door directly in front of you. It takes every ounce of your concentration to just keep breathing so you don’t pass out as Harry doubles back out into the hall, leaving you on the edge of his bed. You can feel an outbreak of sweat around your temple and on the back of your neck. You know you’re shaking but that feels distant, too.
You have no idea how long Harry is gone, you just know he closes the door upon his return. You’re still trying to pace your breathing as he crouches down in front of you. He has his phone to his ear. You can only catch a few of his words at a time.
“My name is Harry Styles… previously reported an, um, incident involving… yes… no… returned… knocked on the door. No, he’s gone now… I waited, to be sure. But I—” There’s a pause. “I think he’s knocking on every door on this floor.” You hear something like a choked gasp. Only when Harry’s eyes dart to yours do you realize it was you.
You have put the entire building in danger.
“Yes, she’s still here.” His free hand reaches up to your knee as he listens to the dispatcher, but he seems to think better of it at the last moment, worrying the edge of the duvet between his fingers instead. “Right, yes. I understand. I will. Thank you.”
Faint ringing replaces the feeling of water in your ears.
“They’re sending someone,” he murmurs after hanging up. “He’s gone.” You hear that broken gasp again. “He’s gone, I promise.” Your shoulders cave inward when you feel the full, painful heave of your sob. Tears stream down your cheeks as you cover your face.
Harry’s hand lifts again. You shrink away and he immediately moves from you to stand. “I’ll be—”
You seize at the first part of him you can reach, grasping a weak fistful of his soft cotton tee. Harry is completely still beneath your trembling fingers. He doesn’t pull away or move closer. He just hovers there, steady.
You want to ask him to stay. You want to ask for help. You want him to touch you so you know that you’re real—that you’re not in fact still trapped alone in the most terrifying part of a nightmare, but the words are unbearable.
The sound of your name in Harry’s mouth undoes something inside you. Through your tears you finally lift your head to find his eyes. His expression seems torn, like he wants to comfort you but doesn’t know how. You’re not sure which one of you bridges the gap, but your forehead lands in the warm slope between his neck and shoulder and that seems to be all the confirmation Harry needs.
His hands slide up your back to hold you as you all but collapse into him, crying with enough force that Harry draws you off the bed and onto the floor with him. He smooths one hand up and down the length of your spine as the other wraps so far around your back that you can feel his fingertips hooked over your hip.
“S’ok,” he murmurs, his lips pressing into your temple like he intends to seal the words to your skin. Harry doesn’t try to shush you. “S’gonna be alright. ‘M here… I’ve got you. You’re safe… I’ve got you.”
When your wracking sobs give way to hiccups and finally to something halfway controllable, he stops talking and just holds you, rocking ever so slightly in a sort of motion that only a parent can do. You have no idea how long you sit like that, a tangle of limbs and soaked collars and cheeks, until you’re finally able to speak.
“I’m sorry,” you choke out. “You—”
“None of that,” Harry says immediately. You feel his nose dig into your hair, his breath warm as he sighs. “I mean it, alright? No more apologizing for any of this. Might have to make you a jar like the one Annie has for me in her flat.”
The thought is strange enough to pull you, however briefly, out of your current misery. “You have an apology jar?”
He exhales sharply. “Swear jar, actually.”
Your laugh bursts out unexpectedly, sort of wet and weak, but there nonetheless. You feel the soft stroke of his thumb on the back of your head. “That’s more like it.”
You draw back and Harry’s grip tightens, just for a moment, before he releases you. He brushes your damp cheeks with the side of his palm before you can do it yourself. You see the same concentration he wore when he’d pinned that Remembrance Day poppy to your jacket. It takes effort to silence the instinct to be ashamed and keep his eyes.
“They said it might be a bit before an officer can get up here,” he says, searching your face. “They’re puttin’ together a couple patrol teams to canvas the building and stay outside the rest of the night.” All you can think to do is nod. “Can I get you anything? Water?”
“Please,” you reply, grateful. “I should—” you make a vague gesture at yourself— “clean myself up a bit.”
Harry opens his mouth like he wants to comment, but just nods instead. You use his shoulder to push yourself to your feet; his hand covers yours and you feel his thumb running across your knuckles.
You say, “Thank you,” but it’s not nearly enough. He squeezes gently, staring up at you and saying nothing. You walk on unsteady legs to the bathroom. You can feel his eyes on you even when you close the door.
Lacing your fingers atop your head, you sigh at the tearstained, swollen-eyed version of yourself staring back at you in the mirror. After blowing your nose and splashing a few handfuls of water across your face, you join him on his side of the bed.
His phone is in his hands. He finishes sending off a long, blue bubble of text before looking up and passing you a water from the nightstand. He runs the tip of his index finger around the rim of his own glass.
You bring the drink to your lips, then lower it immediately; the glass clacks against your teeth with the tremor of your hand. You can feel Harry’s eyes on you even though he doesn’t turn his head. Again, you try taking a sip with the same result and sigh.
“I think I’m gonna try my parents again.”
You set your water on the nightstand and head to Sylvia’s room, shutting the door behind you. You take a deep breath before collapsing back on the mattress.
The stars rotating on the ceiling like a merry-go-round make you nauseous so you unplug the nightlight before dialing. Your mom answers after the first ring, emphasizing your name like a scolding.
“What are you doing up? It’s the middle of the night in England. Is everything alright?”
“That’s actually what I need to talk to you about.”
You hardly get a sentence in before you hear her rushing to get your dad and the three of you have an hour-long, emotional crash-course on the last five hours of your life. There isn’t too much to fill in as you’ve kept them more or less updated on the blue-eyed man and your previous trips to the police department. You assure them that you’re in one piece and that you couldn’t have wound up with a more generous host, but that doesn’t assuage your mom from insisting on speaking with the police herself. She makes you promise to stay on the line until the authorities arrive.
Before long, you hear a light rap on your door. “Yes?”
Harry cracks it open without peeking his head inside. “Police are here—take your time. I’ll go out and speak with them.”
“Thanks, Harry… Mom, some officers just arrived I think.” You pinch your phone between your cheek and shoulder, softly close the door behind you. “I’ll call you back once we’re done with everything.” You rush through a quick goodbye and meet Harry in the entryway. He’s thrown on some gym pants and a sweater and his arms are folded across his chest.
The fully-uniformed men seem bulky and out of place in the sixth-floor hallway, as though they couldn’t squeeze in Harry’s modest apartment. It’s not like you’re the one in trouble, but your heart skips a little anyway.
“… every floor of the building and searched the surrounding perimeter with no sign of anyone matching the description, and from the security footage we seized, we can see that he pulled out of the car park about forty-five minutes ago.”
“Okay.” Harry nods, pushing his glasses up his nose. “Alright. Great.”
The officer who had been speaking turns to you. “And you must be the young woman who—”
“Yes.” You jerk your head quickly. It’s more like an anxious spasm than a nod. “That’s me.”
“We were just filling your neighbor in that we were unable to find the culprit, but the building and surrounding area seem to be clear. If at all possible, we think it would be best for you to stay here just for the night, then come straight to the station in the morning to make a plan.”
You simply nod again. “I will.”
“You’re flat 8F, is that right?”
“Were any of these marks on your door before this evening?” The officer pulls a cell phone out of his pocket, unlocking it to reveal the last few pictures in the camera roll.
Your stomach drops.
He flips through several photos of a long, black streak above the handle of your front door, and a sizable ding in the wood by the door jam. The impact was hard enough to scratch the paint.
“No,” you manage. “I don’t recognize those. Did he, um…”
“The door didn’t give,” the officer says. It’s just reassuring enough to keep your knees from buckling. He turns to face Harry again. “And you’re certain that the man showed no signs of knowledge that she—that the two of you were in this particular flat?”
“Yeah. I watched him make his way down, knocking on a couple more doors.”
“Was he stopping by every door?”
Harry takes a moment to think. “No,” he replies. “It seemed a bit random if I’m honest.”
“Right. Well, keep an eye out for any unusual activity in the next few days, especially on this floor. Don’t hesitate to let us know if anything changes.” The officer looks to you again. “In the meantime, we’ll see you at the station tomorrow?”
“Yes, um… ” You clear your throat as your cheeks warm. “I’m sorry. Would one of you be willing to speak with my parents on the phone? They’re a bit worried and want to talk to a professional.” You hold up your cell.
“Of course.” After dialing for him, you hand the officer your phone and he begins to engage your mom in what sounds like a very animated, reassuring dialogue.
You and Harry are leaned against opposite walls in the hallway, spaced out in exhaustion. You cover a yawn with your hand and catch him doing the same. Do you dare check the time? Your hands absently pat your front and back pockets, and you frown in trying to recall where you’d last set your phone. You roll your eyes in glancing up at the officer pacing in the entryway on the phone with your mother.
“S’ just gone two,” Harry mumbles.
You make a light noise in the back of your throat. “I’m sorry, Harry.”
“That’s a tenner in the apology jar.” You breathe a laugh without humor, shaking your head back and forth against the wall.
“I just can’t wait for this day to be over,” you whisper.
“Would you like to speak with her again?” The officer’s voice clips into your half-conscious conversation. You hold out your hand and tuck the phone between your cheek and shoulder again as Harry thanks the officers one last time before showing them out.
Apparently satisfied with the conversation she’d had with the police, your mother circles back to the matter of your current state of limbo. “You’re sure you’re comfortable staying with this neighbor? Where are you sleeping?” You can practically hear the alarm bells from across the Atlantic.
“It’s fine, Mom. We’re friends… sort of.” Friends that drunkenly make out in the lift. “He has a spare mattress. I’m staying in his guest room.” She digests this information in silence. “I’m alright, I promise. It’s just for tonight.”
There’s a long pause on the other end of the line. “I want you to call us, alright? No matter what time it is here or there, I want you to check in with us every day until we know for sure you’re absolutely safe.”
“I will,” you vow. “I’ll call you in the morning, okay? I’m exhausted.”
“Right yes, go get some rest. We love you.”
You swallow with a little difficulty. “Love you too.”
Harry’s idling by the sink with your empty glasses.
“Sorry about that,” you say, and then wince when he gives you a sidelong look. “They can be a bit protective.”
He shakes his head, his expression somehow more grave than you were expecting. “I know exactly how they feel.”
Harry rubs his eyes under his glasses. “I’m sorry,” he says into his palms. “I’m knackered.”
“Yeah, of course… Get some sleep.” You hesitate.
“You sure there’s not anything else I can get you?”
He pinches softly just above your elbow. “See you in the morning.”
Harry disappears into the hall. You listen to the sound of his bedroom door click shut before tilting your head to the ceiling and letting your eyelids close, literally twenty feet below your own apartment. You could probably throw a basketball higher than that. You sigh and look back down at your phone on the counter, quickly drafting a text to India and then deleting it.
For a minute you stay like that, a statue in the pale light of Harry’s kitchen—the relic of a girl who woke up this morning unscathed. It’s probably for the best that you get some sleep tonight, but standing in front of the nursery with your hand on the doorknob, you can’t bring yourself to face the pitiful air mattress again. You turn to Harry’s bedroom door in defeat.
Who on earth are you trying to fool?
Heart hammering, you swallow your pride and crack open the door to Harry’s bedroom, stepping gingerly inside. It shuts behind you with a delayed click-click, impossibly loud.
Nothing apart from blackness is visible before you, but suddenly comes the sound of a long breath in from somewhere in the room. Blankets rustle. Your fingers tighten on the doorknob behind you. With a tink, soft, yellow light spills over every surface in Harry’s bedroom. His nose scrunches and eyes squint.
His hand flounders once against the nightstand before he locates his glasses, pushing them swiftly onto his face. Harry’s expression relaxes as he props himself up on one elbow to get a better look at you. Your face stings with heat, but you hold your ground. His eyes are soft, careful, yet strangely unaffected.
Without a word, or the slightest suggestion of ambivalence, Harry reaches out an arm to the opposite side of the mattress, and tosses the corner of the duvet halfway down the bed before meeting your gaze from across the room.
It feels like a weakness, to cave and accept his offer. You want to explain yourself, suddenly, but there are no words for this time of night and the chasm you’re hanging over by your fingertips. So you approach the bed in silence and slide beneath his covers.
Backs turned to each other, you curl up so far from Harry that your knees hang over the edge of the bed. You hear the cool sliding of blankets once more before absolute stillness. The last image of your day is the dim, golden glow of Harry’s lamp vanishing on the ceiling.
• saturday, 5th january 4:07 am •
It’s disorienting, adjusting to a room you can immediately tell isn’t your own, momentarily teetering between asleep and awake. It’s even more disorienting when you realize that you are not alone. There’s a knee between yours and a heavy arm slung over your waist. You’ve migrated to the center of the bed somehow during the night, flipped on your back. But what draws your attention the most is the warm breath in the curve of your neck.
It was the asleep-half of your brain that had thought to croak his name. You don’t know what kind of reply you’re expecting to receive in this blue, small morning hour. Perhaps you won’t get one at all. Perhaps you’re dreaming. You stare up at the ceiling.
If you close your eyes now, would you even remember this come dawn? But the grip around your waist tightens, just for a moment, before you feel his body slide up against yours, a sigh fanning over your cheek.
“Yeah.” Harry’s voice is low and gravelly, but unmistakable. You can feel the rise and fall of his chest through the fine cotton of the shirt he’d loaned you, and he sounds surprisingly alert. A small silence lingers. “Alright?” Your eyes stay trained on the ceiling.
Part of you wants him to clarify the question: are you alright after everything that happened tonight? Are you alright… with this?
“Yeah,” you breathe.
Harry doesn’t say anything else. For a moment you think he’s fallen back asleep but then he shifts closer to you. You watch as the shadow of his arm reaches over your body for your hand—you had left it open and maybe a little vulnerable beside your head on the pillow. You can feel the calluses on Harry’s fingertips as they slide up your palm and find the space between yours. You don’t dare turn your head because there is a question in your eyes that you realize you can no longer ignore, and you are afraid of his answer.
So you close your fingers around his and do not speak. Harry exhales. You’re hyper aware of the way his body relaxes as he squeezes your hand. You take a deep breath. You know it’s no use wondering whether or not Harry is going to remember this in the morning. Even if this is a dream, you cannot deny that you’re warm and you’re safe and that you will remember, possibly forever, regardless of whatever happens or doesn’t happen between you. It’s a vaguely scary thought.
You close your eyes.
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A/N: Inspired by the post about what Mrs Shelby’s name is. It’s also inspired by my first ever fic on here, The Letters, since it’s almost been a year since I posted it.
Her name had become a taboo. No one dared to mention the same of Mrs Shelby - the woman who’d thrown herself into the Cut because she went out of her mind. It was always “Mrs Shelby” or “the Shelby’s mother”.
Her name had died with her. She didn’t even have her name on the grave. Just mother.
Y/N Shelby didn’t even know her mother’s name. It was nowhere to be seen within the walls of the house and there was no record of it in any photo album or bundle of letters.
She was a ghost - a nameless whisper on the wind.
Y/N never asked about her mother’s name. Her brothers had told her she’d died from an illness - slowly wasted away before their eyes until she was no more. It was the truth, in a way. Her mind had give up and her body had followed not long after.
She’d thrown herself into the Cut and had sunk to the bottom - like Ophelia when her lover had murdered her father. Left behind was an already broken and bruised family who’s eldest members were about to go to war.
Y/N didn’t remember her mother. She didn’t remember the screaming, the crying, Tommy trying to shield her, Finn and Ada from their mother as she went out of her mind.
Committing suicide was no way to go. A mother committing suicide was another thing entirely. How could she be so selfish and abandon her children?
That was were the fear and suspicion of the Shelby’s had begun. All because of their mother. And they used it to their advantage, quickly becoming the most feared and respected family in Birmingham.
But no child should have had to grow up hearing whispered secrets about their mother and how it wouldn’t be long before the children followed her into the cold, icy depths of the Cut.
Y/N Shelby had no mother. Polly tried her best but she was never a maternal person - the loss of her children had damaged her beyond repair - and Y/N missed the nurturing nature mother’s apparently had.
She didn’t remember her mother. There were pictures of her in Tommy’s house - of her with John, Arthur, Tommy and Ada. She looked beautiful - like a Hollywood movie superstar. She was picture perfect, smiling at the camera with a loving hand on John’s shoulder and her arm around Arthur’s waist.
It was a snapshot of a forgotten time - before the demons invaded her mind and ripped her soul from her mind. And it wasn’t a true snapshot, not really. She’d suffered with the demons for years before that image, but it only got worse.
But Y/N took that image of her mother - looking perfect and like a porcelain doll. And she wrote her a letter. She introduced herself, told her what she looked liked and what her favourite things were and put it in her desk draw.
For the next twelve months, Y/N wrote a letter to her mother every day. She poured her heart and soul out to this invisible woman who’s name no longer existed and who’s image was frozen in a dusty photo on her brother’s desk.
8th April, 1923
I turned nineteen today, Nothing spectacular happened - I had a nice meal out with Ada and went riding with John and Arthur. Tommy vanished off to London - again - and I didn’t see him all day. Not quite sure what I’ve done to piss him off but, alas.
Polly gave me your necklace today The string of pearls you bought with the first bit of money Arthur made. I’m wearing them, and your engagement ring, as I write this. I look like a proper lady with my new dress on...
It’s been sixteen years since I last saw you. I’m doing alright without you but it’s hard. I see Ada with Karl and Polly with Michael and my heart aches for that. But i know I can never have it and will never have it.
I hope you’re alright, wherever you are, mother.
All my love,
Your ever loving daughter, Y/N x
As the days and the weeks went by, the bundle of letters got bigger and more tattered. She told no one about her little ritual - she knew they wouldn’t approve. Her family never dared mention their mother for fear of bringing about a curse.
Y/N was never that superstitious. No curses existed - it was just poor luck and death threats.
1st August, 1923
I feel like I’ve almost caught you up on the past sixteen years. The Great War, Tommy’s wedding, both of John’s weddings and his gaggle of small humans he calls children. There’s almost nothing else to say to you.
Not that you’re actually here, that is. I doubt you were ever really here.
I wrote my brothers letter when they were in France. That was different, though, because they wrote back and sent me little things. I still have the violet John sent me from the Somme.
I have all your things. No one else wanted them - they say they’re cursed or some shit like that. I was never that superstitious, it’s just life attempting to play God. No one has a say on who gets to be a survivor and who gets to be a martyr.
I like to think of you as Ophelia. She sang to herself as she drowned, oblivious to her death. I hope you were like that, finally at peace with yourself as you floated down the Cut with the fallen flowers and leaves around you like a halo.
There’s me trying to romanticise your death. No one even mentions you by name so forgive me for trying to make you seem more alive than apparently you are.
Well, you’re not alive are you. You’re dead.
You have a grave. It’s up on the hill by the old tree that was used for hangings back in the day. Near Tom’s house. It’s an alright spot, I suppose. Nothing special. No one ever visits you, however. Your name isn’t even on the pebble someone put there as a marker.
We couldn’t afford a headstone. We can now but Tommy would murder me if he knew I did that. He hates talking about you.
No one ever tells me about you. All I have are a few photos that are practically falling apart and your clothes and jewellery.
Anyway, I need to go. Family meeting and all that shit.
Your ever loving daughter,
By the time Christmas came, Y/N’s desk drawer was full of letters to her non-existent mother. Each letter was bundled together by month with colour coordinated ribbons for each month. February was purple, September orange and so on.
She’d told her mother everything she’d ever wanted to. Her first kiss, her first love, her first break up, the time she got shot, the numerous times she almost died.
She had no need to tell her anything anymore. Her mother felt so much more real to her now than she ever had before.
She made her decision on Christmas Day evening. Everyone else was inside Arrow House watching the children open their last few presents and drink the remaining of the wine and whiskey.
Y/N slipped outside, grabbed her horse, and rode up to the hill were the old hanging tree had once been. Her mother’s grave sat to the left of the tree - a tiny mound of earth with a pebble as its only marker. Y/N dismounted from her horse and approached the grave, clenching the letters tightly.
Twelve bundles. Almost 365 letters.
Y/N found some twigs and branches and made a small fire at the foot of the grave. A moment later it roared into life and crackled away, casting an orange glow over her face.
She spread Tommy’s coat out on the ground and sat down, cross-legged, in front of the fire, clutching the letters. For once, she wasn’t wearing a dress belonging to her mother. Instead it was a mismatch of her brother’s old trousers, shirts and waistcoats.
She started with the first of January.
Y/N untied the ribbon and pulled out the first letter, the date neatly scrawled on the top left of the envelope. She read it through once, flipped it over to look at the address and then put it on the fire.
The paper curled as it burnt away, the writing fading into nothing but ash and sparks.
The second of January followed suit before the first of January had even finished burning.
Each letter curled and burned in the fire, the words and the sentiments becoming nothing more than ash.
Fifteenth of February quickly followed the fourteenth.
Twenty-eighth of April was followed by the twenty-ninth.
Each and every letter was add to the fire until she was only left with one.
25th December, 1923
I’ve told you everything.
There’s nothing left to say, now. I’ve spilled my darkest secrets and untold stories to you.
I’ve moved on, now. I still wish I had you around but I’m coping with it. I wish you were more than just words and pictures and jewellery. But nothing is fair.
I’ve burnt all the letters and I hope the words reach you. I hope their spirit and their meaning reach you and reassure you that your daughter is doing fine.
You used to be mine but now you belong to the world.
I only wish I’d learnt your name.
All my love
Your ever grateful and loving daughter,
Y/N Miriam Shelby
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Hiiii! I saw you asked for fluffy requests!! I love your writing so i got excited hehe
I just went through a ROUGH breakup, could you write where Levi comforts one of his scouts (or members of his squad) who he likes after she gets dumped?
Thank you!!! Xoxo ❤️❤️❤️
Hey I hope you're feeling better I'm sorry you have to go through this but I'm here if you need anything sweet anon, this really made me write hurt/comfort once again, so I hope you like it.
Tags: eventual fluff, hurt/comfort, takes an unexpected turn that I hope you like
Levi, ever since he could remember himself, was lonely, neglected by life and stripped of anyone he ever cared about. The cruel unfairness of life was something he was forced to accept from the moment he came out of the womb; whilst other children had a last name to claim themselves with he was just Levi, Kuchel's bastard son.
Thinking back, life was the most unfair for his mother as well. The way he would hear men would treat her, hidden underneath her bed, or sticking his head to her door while supposedly playing with other little bastard children. Children of his fate that he couldn't remember the face of. Did anyone remember his own face? Deemed ugly, unbelievably short, dirty and incapable of being bright, that's what life had set for him from his very first breath.
Everytime he had refused to accept his fate another tragedy would curve it's way on his body and soul, staining him with little reminders of how he should sit back and crawl his way through what was simple meant to be. Indescribable gory deaths had happened before his eyes, taking any blue hue he had noticed and liked away from them. Insufferable agonies in the form of nightmares haunted him during the night, his mind didn't want to let him rest.
His heart had to become cold and hard as stone, but the humane of his nature only managed to plaster this longing of his on his face. Perhaps being human was a punishment everyone endured, whether they were born noble, loved by everyone or in a brothel, with almost no one to want them in this world.
Only two years after he had set foot and is remaining days in the Survey Corps were never certain. He was aware that it was a given profanity at his agreement to join, and egoistically he would have chose this any other day over counting down days in the underground. In that rat hole, he was expected to fall ill and possibly dead at any given time in his late twenties.
He still looked like a phantom in the mirror. Whatever concluded his being was set and done unfairly, from the way his skin was as pale as snow and so sheer that made his purple veins show practically everywhere to his lacking height caused by malnutrition and lack of sunlight. Was it the veins around his lips or the ones under his eyes that perfectly blended with his sacked under eyebags? Was it that his nose was small if looked individually but looked elongated in the context of his face? Maybe it was that he was filled with scars.
Oh, and that he looked atrocious with those dark locks in combination with light eyes.
Despite never doubting his abilities, or letting insecurities get the better of him it was in moments like this that he felt broken.
By setting his clippers down on the sink, after making sure there was no single coarse hair on them, he slipped in his usual light gray button down shirt. He didn't bother to secure any strap of his gear on him yet; it was this early in the morning that no one was probably awake yet, only him and his throbbing head, so strapping himself with the gear could easily be avoided for the time being.
The flames flickered inside his cobblestone fireplace demanding to be fed with fresh logs in exchange for his warmth. His hands worked mechanically, throwing logs I the crevice delicately careful not to fill the room in ashes. With a maneuver stir the flames roared with rage, engulfing the wood almost too pleasantly to eye. He didn't hesitate to plouch down on the wooden floor, legs crossed and hands stretched towards the newfound warmth in an attempt to ease the lingering cold of his fingers.
Usually this was the time for the first tea of the day. Under any other occasion his brain would munch on him for the lack of the hot copper liquid in his stomach, but today was different. He contemplated on weather this mere fire could ever warm up anything other than tea but he refused to seek the therapeutic feeling of hot water entering his body. If he couldn't warm up on the outside why would he put any effort to do so in the inside.
The throbbing in his head ravaged the insides of his skull with striking rushes of pain at random places. When he went to rub on his forehead his ear would screech in ache, testing to see if his patience could handle such tag game.
Refusing to soothe any part of his aching body meant that he'd have to physically suffer throughout the upcoming day. Had he been any more grumpier he would be thinking about assigning everyone with another cleaning task, nontheless it didn't fit the nature of his mood. He felt like locking himself in his office to avoid as much human interaction as possible, he wasn't social to begin with so why shouldn't he be granted some days to recharge his ability to utter anything else than a grunt.
He sighed, head falling to face the floor as his eyes were framed by his ebony locks. He seemed to despise them, today more than ever. Was it because of you? It was a question that puzzled his mind for a couple of days, eating away any spare piece of logic he was ever left with. The only thing he knew, or supposed was that this feelings were probably meant to feel like that, at least for him.
Him, who shall never enjoy a simple pleasure of life such as experiencing the feeling of falling in love and having a lover to tend to his soul's wound. Of course he had to be dense enough to let such opportunity go as only a question arose days after day he'd spent with you. Did he deserve to be loved?
Yet those days with you, those days that he cut absurdly were fidgeting with his mind in the worst way possible, trying to torment him over the memory of your face.
It had started off as a simple admiration of your combat skills. The intimidating brushes oh your skin on his everytime he chose to spare with you out of all member in his squad, the sweat that dripped off of your forehead as your eyes gleamed with the enthusiastic power gathered in your fists.
Then, it was the way your hair flipped off of your shoulder when you would wrap your camel colored jacket on your form under the lingering tingerine lights of the sun setting behind the walls. The way it bounced on your back as you gripped the reins of your horse, leaving small encouraging sounds of victory as it seceeded its training tasks. He had taken notice of how well kept your hair was, always fresh and squeaky clean as it framed your face loosely.
Levi was smitten, wrap around your little finger in the blink of an eye, his nights agonising, his days filled with you mellowy blendind in any scenery and he couldn't get you out of his head. Your affections towards him were meticulously counted at first but he had sat back down and watched as you let yourself go around him, sparring smiles and watery glances to him during meals.
Before he knew it he had found himself longing to be in your arms every single moment of the day, much like a lovestruck teenager. As much as it seemed embarrassing for a man his age to swoon and melt like a candle at the sight of such youthful and sweet woman, he couldn't help it. His loner's manners had started to abandon him in your presence, the persuasion of your soft eyes had him giving in. The sweet touches of your hand on his cheek, allowing his head to rest on your palm as he talked about the enormous work Erwin had assigned him with, curved in his head forever, replaying every time he seeked some form of comfort.
Had it not been for Mike and Hange entering his office unexpectedly that one day he had forgotten to lock, he wouldn't have been forced to leave it all behind to avoid spoiling both his and yours reputation. It haunted him; they way he longed for you as his heart clung into his chest like a prisoner, but his words to you as you cried your eyes out that sunset kept reminding him he was not deserving of anything.
When news spread like a plague in the higher ranks everyone had turned on him and seldomly to you, whispering heart rotting comments. Among them that you were no good for eachother be it due to appearances or the context of your backgrounds. Levi knew the oxymoron of those dynamics, yet why did anyone have to point them out, to make him feel smaller than he was whether it was for teasing or not, he couldn't phantom.
Not only life was unfair to him, he had to strip his own self of the only thing he had a positive effect in his life just to go back to being a what the Scouting Region wanted him to be. Humanity's Strongest. The man with no weaknesses who slaughtered the gigantic beasts with skill and determination. His heart was supposed to belong to humanity, not you, not anyone else.
It hurt. To watch you give out your beautiful giggles to someone else through his office window ached him restlessly. The imagery of your sweet affectionate movements was right before his eyes, directed to someone else this time, during those beautiful November sunsets felt like gunshots aimed anywhere in his vital organs.
You had fallen for someone else, those were the news going around the squad lately. Petra bubbled enthusiastically about Gunther's encounters with you in the small alleyways of Trost on your day offs. Eld would scold you for dressing up appropriately for your dates and Oluo would miserably immitate him, giving you playful comments about reeking shit while biting his tongue. As Petra had informed him, his affiliations with you unbeknownst to her or any other cadet in the picture, Gunther was treating you perfectly, almost too good to be true. Something that made his heart fall into pits of darkness, all masked safely by his humane flesh and skeleton combines.
Would anyone ever treat you like he did? With such serenity? He knew, despite how short lived your fling had ever been, there would never be anyone like him in your life. And for that he had to be the one to punish himself. His fate would be pleased if he turned on himself wouldn't it?
Upon hearing the knock on his door, his mouth automatically spat the familiar inquiry on the knocker's intentions. It felt deaf to his ears; his mind was working on its own while he forced it to torment him with more what ifs. As his fingers brushed brushed underneath his nostril to scratch away any awkwardness that had gathered in the spot with a buzzing feeling.
"It's cadet (L/n) sir" he heard you yelp as you paused, unsure of what to say next. "Personal business if you don't mind!"
When you entered at his command, his eyes didn't dare to spend a second fixated on your bouncing locks. Instead they blinked into your (e/c) ones, staring at the melancholic expression that was plastered on them. Lower on your face, your lip trembled, teeth biting hard not to allow it to show but your efforts had already fell into vain as he quickly noticed it.
He hadn't realised you weren't sitting on the chair before his desk until he got up from his position on the ground, eyes immediately noticing you in his usual spot. You were curled up in a ball with your knees fitted to your eye sockets, silently suppressing what seemed to be the start of a brawling session as he sat there and watched, not daring to touch your back with his hand.
What had happened so early in the morning that had sent you in his office? The two of you weren't much on talking terms nowadays, a restriction he had forced on you from the day that he ended your shared endearments. As potential scenarios chewed on his thoughts your whimpers only grew louder and harsher.
"Don't you dare ask why I'm crying!" You spoke, small hiccups leaving the back of your throat as each time it roared with another wave of sorrow.
"It could be helpful to know."
His steel eyes never met yours as he spoke with his typical steady voice, although this time he had tried to take any nasal sound away from it.
"You're the reason I can't have anything work for me. Gunther said so himself." Another crashing wave of sobs overcame you and he watched frozen, unable to do anything just yet. Confirmation on your status had to be spoken, he wouldn't love to be touchy with another man's woman even if ever cell in his body ached for her.
"You're achingly beautiful, my heart will forever be yours and you knew it. Gunther' isn't fit to be a replacement for you. You get to be the one who comforts me for this breakup, for our breakup up, I can't talk about that shit with anyone else. You're all I ever had and you left me to pretend to be that weapom they want you to be." He had expected you to winch, to flinch or have any negative reaction to his touch on the back of your head, he had prepared himself for it, he had planned the words he'd say but such a reaction never came. You only have in to his lingering touch, hand reaching out for his in an attempt to pull him close.
He didn't feel the pain of his knees hitting the wooden floor as he coarsed you to his neck in full might, he ignored the heart that beat fast at the sound of you admitting you weren't over him, he chewed back at the thoughts that mocked you for calling him achingly beautiful.
The fidgeting of your fingers on the button of his shirt served as an action of your nervousness but all he could care about was that he could feel your heart beating at the right side of his chest almost in synch with his.
"I'm here." He soothed, one hand running through your soft locks as the other one pressed you to his chest. "I'm sorry" he admitted. Whether it was too late was up to your heart's desire to decide.
"You better be." You sniffled the goo that threatened to fall on his shirt.
"You should know by now. I can't bear to watch you thrive with anyone. Tch, I'm a smug runt myself for that."
He fell in silence as you tried to give into his caring comfort. It all felt too familiar, too rushed and too bitterweet to be real. He blinked at the thought and slightly bit his tongue to confirm he wasn't sleeping.
"I thought we belonged together, I thought... I thought I found something in you that was mine."
As your eyes brawled with hit tears once again your fists came to clench onto his shirt. There were distinguishable pauses in your crying; rashes of unspoken pain inside your chest that burned you to think about. It was all too familiar of a feeling to him and it only ever made him press you impossibly closer to his form.
"If it helps, I did so too."
It's only when your face lifts up for your wide eyes to look into his that he realises how much you've cried. Despite the practical darkness of the room your eyes are obviously bloodshot, painted with agony as they burn holes onto his skin, making him shut his in defense of his soul.
"I miss you so much and I can't sleep at night. I can't look at anyone and pretend they are you, they all see through this. I still love you and it hurts. I don't want it to hurt, Levi." Your confessions striked that particular nerve in him that made him numb, frozen on the spot, dumfounded over your words. Had he knew he'd be the reason that love pains you he would have never lead you on, he would have never looked at you with small looks of adoration as you ride your horse's together and most importantly he would have never let his filthy lips touch your angelic ones.
But he didn't find it in him to regret any of his actions.
Not now, not when his lips were begging him to be interlocked with the only pair then had declaired a match.
"I know I came here all of a sudden but it's been nights I haven't slept and I can't do this anymore. J-just hold me and once the sun is out I won't bother you anymore." Even if you tried to speak that nonsense with him you should have known better that it wouldn't work. He could already see the faint purples in the horizon, glazing over the glass of his windows as they lightened by every passing moment.
He knew why you were in his arms, he knew that pushing you away was never an option either. Thus, his hands came to rest under your face your face to tenderly direct it to his. His mouth opened but the words that he spoke took hours, years, eons to come out.
"What if I told you that I still love you, what would you say? Would you press your lips on mine and want to start over?" He inquired as he swallowed the hard lamp that had gathered in his Adams apple. "Would you speak your words in actions?"
The first light of the sky protruded behind the mountains, spreading a yellow light evenly around the sky. As you nodded and tugged your head close enough that your nose touched, your lips faintly brushed against each other's and his heart sped in unimaginable paces.
In the moment he wasn't a doomed underground ugly thug, his nose wasn't misplaced on the context of his head. He wasn't just Kuchel's bastard son that everyone wanted dead. He was that part that you had claimed as yours.
Small victories against his fate didn't always leave him hollow with unbearable loss after all.
My requests are always open, if you want to drop anything I'd be more than happy to write what you want ❤️
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Swipe Right [Corpse Husband]
Summary: They both hate card swipe.
Pairing: Corpse Husband/Reader, Corpse Husband/Youtuber!Reader
Warnings: Cursing, Mildly Suggestive
“Alright, Crewmate yet again,” Cherry says quietly, not even acknowledging chat. She takes another sip of her cherry coke then sets the styrofoam cup back down, carefully navigating her red bean around the map before finally entering admin. She raises an eyebrow.
“What’s this task?” Cherry mumbles to herself, smiling once she sees what it is and not looking at the endless chat messages of them actually talking to each other rather than her, “Aw, this is so cute! I love this little bean game.”
user: NOBODY TELL HER
user: oooooh i cant wait for the rageeee of cherryyyyyy
user: LET HER SUFFER GUYS
user: this is gonna be good!
user: maybe you should ask corpse husband for tips on card swipe?
user: u mean simp husband
user: wdym @user
user: corpse has the hots for cherry, i can tell
user: nahhhhh, they’re just simpworthy voice bros
While Cherry begins to snarl over her failed card swipe (much to the amusement of her chat), Corpse’s avatar walks in. “Ugh, I don’t want to do this!” he whines, walking into admin and seeing Cherry at card swipe. “I hate card swipe!”
Nevertheless he sidles up to Cherry’s red cherry topped avatar and pressed the button to interact, unaware of what was currently going down on Cherry’s stream.
“I FUCKING HATE CARD SWIPE!” Cherry screams, and chat goes wild with laughter. She fails six more times. “FUUUUUUUUCK!!!”
BODY REPORTED flashes across everyone’s screen and she’s yanked from her mini game right after one last swipe that she never got to see through. “Just fuck me deeper up the ass, universe.”
“I found a body in Electrical!” Seán cries. He proceeds to ask everyone where they’ve been, ending with Cherry. “Cherry, where have you been-“
“I’VE BEEN SWIPING THIS FUCKING SHITTY ASS MOTHERFUCKING CARD FOR TWENTY MINUTES AND IT WON’T FUCKING GO!” She roars, and the entire lobby practically collapse back into their chairs as they fill said lobby with the sound of unanimous laughter.
“A-And Corpse?” Felix wheezes out.
“I can’t remember, that was funny as hell,” Corpse laughs, breathing hard.
“My sides hurt!” Seán whines through his own laughter, and the entire lobby listens as Cherry grumbles to herself silently.
“Fuck all of you, I’m out,” she hisses, and Jack snorts.
“Yeah, to do card swipe again!” He laughs. Cherry narrows her eyes at him.
“I know where you live, Seán.”
“I’M STILL HERE!” Corpse laughs pathetically, desperate for the task that haunted him to be over. “Why-?!”
The previous round had ended with Cherry viciously destroying the impostor duo composed of Seán and Sykkuno with no hesitation.
“This is karma. This is what I get for making fun of someone else’s misfortunes,” Corpse mumbles softly, laughing quietly. He swipes his card three more times before a death animation pups up on his screen, Cherry’s red bean whipping out a gun and shooting his black bean in the head.
“Yeah... I deserved that,” he mumbles softly. There’s a sound from discord as she unmutes herself.
“Fuck you too.”
“Cherry, mute yourself!” Corpse says quickly, unmuting himself even after death so he can warn her. She scoffs as he tempted himself.
“Then stop fucking chasing me!” She lies through her teeth before hopping directly down a vent. Corpse’s eyes widen.
“I wasn’t - I’M DEAD!”
Cherry🍒 - @twdeadlysins @wrathofcats @yoyoanaria @helloitsmeamie203 @imtiredaffff @donttelltheelf @kissmeimwitchy @lilysdaydreams @agustdpeach @fleurmoon @chrysanthykios @crapimahuman @farihafangirls @jeffsbarbershop @jules-and-gems @caramellecake @captainwanderlust78 @letsloveimagines @kodzumemi @pastelpuffbar @eyelash-curler @softboiicorpse @faded-blue @emilyshurley @just-here-to-stan-my-otps
Youtube - @bad268
Corpse Husband - @ourheavenlyemotions @insanedeathwish @xaestheticalien @easygoingtheatre @fivedicksinatrenchcoat @udontneedtokno
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Marinette: Stone Cold
Ok so i love this prompt but it took forever to get to. And as soon as I did its like suddenly I was swamped with everything. So frustrating. But I finally finished it. And I love it. @vixen-uchiha
Marinette was six-years-old when her parents died in a car crash. She had been at school when the vice principle, Mrs. Valmontes, stopped by and pulled her out of class. The little black haired girl had known something was wrong instantly as Valmontes had smiled just a little hard at her and much more gently than what she was known for.
Still, she had been really surprised to see Office Raincomprix, her classmate Sabrina’s dad, waiting for her in the principle. Marinette always thought he was really nice; always jolly and quick to lend a hand to the teacher at the end of the day if he got to class early to pick up Sabrina. However, he too, seemed rather despondent when Marinette entered the room. His partner, a rookie named Lorna, looked really sad too.
They took her down to the station where she was led to one of the back offices. Sabrina’s dad waited with her there. And then woman name Susanna LeFlont, who Marinette would later learn was a grief counselor. Then they told her.
Susanna held her as she cried and begged and called them liars, until she couldn’t cry anymore. And then they gave her a stuffed animal, and said they would try calling her relatives to pick her up.
They came back an hour later, saying they got ahold of her parents’ emergency contact…
Marinette’s Uncle Jareth Dupain.
She had frowned when they said his name because to her he had never been Jareth Dupain. No, he was always her cool Uncle Jagged. So it took her a second to remember that his real name was Jareth Dupain-Stone, her father’s younger half-brother. Marinette even briefly remember her dad mentioning having to change their emergency contact after his mom, Gina, passed away a few ago.
He was only 20 when Marinette born and he was always a budding Rockstar so he wasn’t around too much. And 6 years later he was the biggest rockstar in the world. Still, that didn’t stop him from rushing to the police station, Penny hot on his trail, and pulled his sweet niece into the biggest hug he could.
Jagged took his niece to the hotel room to get her settled and had Penny go back to the bakery to get some of her things. He didn’t think it was a smart idea to take her there yet; not when the wounds were still so fresh.
Still as the twenty-six year old Rockstar stared at the small form cuddled up to Fang, he realized for the first time that he was all Marinette had in the world; the only family she had left. The only family he had left.
So he knew, despite the lawyers taking days to contact him regarding who Marinette’s guardian would be, that it was him. Jagged was the person Tom had entrusted to protect and watch the most precious thing he had the entire world; his daughter. And he wouldn’t let his brother down.
Tom had always been the best big brother anyone could have. And when Jagged’s own father, Tom’s Stepfather (as tom’s own father had suffered a heartache when Tom was a teen), had walked out, Tom had stepped up. He showed Jagged, who was still called Jareth at the time, how to be a man. He believed in Jagged’s rockstar dream when Jagged didn’t even believe in them himself.
Jagged would do right Tom, by Sabine; he would do what they would do if the situation was reversed and they were given Jagged’s kid to care for.
He would raise Marinette as he own. And though he knew would never come close to being the father that Tom Dupain had been…
Jagged would damn well try to be.
Jagged Stone, Shattered Roses, Nightmare’s Hail Mary, Unmasked Dragon, True Born Rejects, and Emancipated Mirrors were some of the biggest rock band in the world. Whenever, they went on tour together, they were the epitome of what people thought Rock Stars were. They were loud. They partied all night. Groupies hung around everywhere. To them, it was paradise. When all the bands were invited to go on the Kings of Neverland tour, with Jagged Stone headlining, they expected very much the same as they were used to. Jagged always had the most Rockin tour bus. His parties were legendary. They came to expect it.
However, when Neon Savage (front man of the Shattered Roses), Austin Knight (Leader of Unmasked dragon and lead Guitarist), and Niklaus Bane (Lead vocalist of True Born Rejects) showed up with beers and all other sorts of alcohol the day before their opening concert for the tour, they came across something very unexpected.
Or rather someone.
A little Asian girl with pigtails in her Blue hair, a tiara on her head, in a rainbow tutu paired with a black too large Guns N Roses shirt, her hand on her hips, no shoes, and a rather large crocodile next to her.
“What’s with the ballerina?” Austin asked. He had dyed silver hair done in a stereotypical emo style, grey eyes, and too many piercings. He was slim and tall.
Niklaus sighed in relief, “Oh good, you see her too!” He had curly blond hair, dark brown eyes, and wore mostly black. He had ripped jeans and a red tie. The tie was as red as the whites of his looked. “Why is your hair blue?”
“Because Uncle said I could,” She answered and pointed a figure at them, “You’re not supposed to be here.”
Savage scoffed, “You got that twisted, kid.” He was a bulk guy, with long dark hair, and a severe expression on his face. His arms were covered in tattoos. He played in a metal band, and it was obvious. “Where’s your mommy?”
“Dead,” The little girl said bluntly. “I live with my Uncle Jagged now. This his tour bus, and you’re not supposed to be here.” She glared at them. “Fang, Stranger Danger!”
What happened next was a bit of a blur. One minute they were fine, the next they were being chased around Jagged’s tour bus by a rather vicious crocodile while pint-sized twerp laughed.
Lucky for them, their yells for help were overheard by Penny and Jagged who had been working in back, “What’s going on?” Penny asked as she ran in.
“Mates, what the h. e. double hockey sticks is going on?” Jagged asked right on his assistant’s tail.
Austin, who had jumped on top one of the shelves, gave Jagged a confused look, “Better question; what the hell did you just say?”
“Ooohhhh! There’s five bucks for the swear jar!” The little girl taunted.
Jagged glared at rockstar, “Watch it! A Kid’s in the room!”
Savage glared at his longtime friend, “Who the fuck do you think set Fang on us?!” He cast a dark look at the crocodile. “Stranger danger my ass! I’ve known you sent you hatched, you overgrown cheap pair of boots.”
“That’s ten buck for the swear jar!” The girl said.
“Ten bucks?” Austin frowned. “Kinda of steep for just two swear words.”
“I swear to God-” Savage growled but was cut off.
“Chill, mate,” Jagged said. “This is my niece Marinette.” He gave her a loving smile. She beamed up at him brightly. He had been taking care of her for a year now. “I told ya about her.”
“You didn’t say she was Satan!” Austin whined. Fang had bitten him, the slowest of the three, quite a lot, and he had a giant hole in his jacket.
“I’m not Satan,” Marinette huffed. “I’m a ballerina, princess, Rockstar on my way to a tea party with Duchess Rosy Sparkles, of the Unicorn Fairies. And guess what, you’re not invited!”
“Oh that’s just mean,” Niklaus complained.
“She sicked a mini dinosaur on us,” Savaged hissed.
“Yeah, well, now she hurt my feelings.”
Jagged sighed. The guys were some of his closest friends, and by the look up the “entertainment” they brought, they were ready to raze it up like always. But things had changed. Jagged couldn’t be that guy anymore. “Marinette’s staying with me from now on,” He reminded them. “No parties on the tour. She has a bedtime. And doesn’t need to see “us” at our finest, no matter how Rockin we are.” Jagged shrugged. “Spread the world, my bus is off limits.”
The rock stars grumbled a bit but didn’t leave. They could hang with Jagged without presence of booze, weed, loud music, and groupies. It would be a little weird but they’d managed. Jagged was their friend; they’d known him before any of them became famous and stayed close well after. They hadn’t been there for him as much as they wanted to after Tom died; too many commitments, too many required appearances in different countries that had taken them away. But they were there now. And if being there for one of their best friends meant regularly chilling with a six-year-old, then they’d deal.
Savage grunted, “Austin, get rid of the booze.”
“By ‘get rid of’, I assume you meant put back in my tour bus,” The silver haired guitarist corrected.
Niklaus raised his hand like he was a student in class, “I get the whole no alcohol thing; that stuff will kill ya. But what your feelings on pot?”
Jagged just sighed. It was going to be a long summer.
The three musician, and even the other Rockers on tour, slowly but surely got used to the seemingly near constant presence of a six-year-old around Jagged or running around backstage. And the swear jar was a serious thing. It didn’t count when they were singing on stage but off it and anywhere near Marinette and they found themselves forking over five dollars for ever swear word. It added up a lot. And quickly.
Jagged’s tour bus, instead of being the Party palace it used to be, now was the chill zone. It was also the cleanest of all the tour buses. No empty beer bottles everywhere. No one random passed out anywhere. No having to watch out for throw up. No rabid fans, as Jagged had increased his security to Tony Stark worthy levels.
All they had to do was mind their manners and remember that Marinette was very impressionable at her age.
“OH screw you!!!!!!” Savage roared as he jumped up and frantically mashed buttons on his controller. “I’m not losing!”
They had been babysitting Marinette all day while Jagged did an interview Buzzfeed.
Austin snickered, “Says you.” His character raced past Savage’s. Only for something to hit him and send poor little Yoshi spinning out of control. “Did you- did you just blue shell me, bitch?” He hissed at Niklaus.
“Nooo!” Niklaus said sarcastically. “Hey!!! Not nice, brat!” He told Marinette after a banana caused him to slip off the ice.
Marinette smiled easily, but there was a determined look in her eyes. Her hair was jelled into a faux-hawk courtesy of Ashley Crimson, from lead singer for Emancipated Mirrors, an all-girl punk rock band.
“Die, scumbag!” Ashley roared as her racer zoomed by. She was a vivacious redhead. Her and her bandmates got used to being some of the only girls around that weren’t either working for one of the rock stars or were scantily clad fangirls who do “anything” to get backstage.
“You’re going down, twerp!” Savage told Marinette.
“Bite me!” She snapped back just as Jagged and Penny walked into the tour bus.
Jagged crossed his arms, “What did you morons do to my sweet little niece?”
“Nothing!” Niklaus, Ashley, Savage, and Austin chimed together.
“Savage taught me to throw a punch, and or kill a man.” Marinette smiled happily. “I helped Austin set up a glitter bomb in Nightmare’s Hail Mary tour bus. Niklaus and I are banned from Chuckie Cheese. Ashley and I spray painted her ex boyfriend’s car. Cleo and I got arrested. We disturbed the peace!!” Cleo was a pink haired girl who played drummer from Nightmare’s Hail Mary. She had to rush off for her own interview. “Oh and we’ve only been Playing Mario kart for an hour but they each owe like a hundred bucks to the swear jar.”
There was silence as the words were processed.
“And not one of us taught her how to keep a freaking secret?” Ashley face palmed.
Jagged just sighed.
For the next few years that was Marinette’s life. Austin, Niklaus, Savage and Ashley became pseudo Uncles and Aunt to Marinette.
She spent most of her childhood on tour with her Uncle; going from to place, concert after concert. Marinette was homeschooled and didn’t mind it. Jagged went on tour with a bunch of different people over the years and she got to meet all sorts musicians; Clara Nightingale, Ed Sheeran, Adam Levine, Brendon Urie from Panic! At the Disco, Taylor Swift. Her favorite were the award shows though. Through them, she got to meet all her favorite actors. And was inspired to start designing on her own clothes after seeing so many fabulous looks. She got to model and do some acting. In her free time, she ran a very popular fashion blog/youtube channel.
The press had always loved her. To them, she was Marinette Stone (Jagged didn’t want her real name released to the media). She was always on the best dressed list, frequently seen with various celebrities, and could be found on the cover of various magazine.
However, when Marinette was eleven, she begged her Uncle to let her go to school with other kids. She was getting older and she wanted to have some type of normal childhood. It took him a year to agree. Her uncle Jagged had become quite protective over the years.
So Marinette went back to Paris. She cut her hair, used her given name of Marinette Dupain-Cheng. Her Uncle bought a grand penthouse not too far away from her new school, and whenever he was gone her bodyguard, a sweet woman named Harlow who was former CIA, was in charge of her. She started at her new school with a smile on her face.
Not long after, she became the hero Ladybug.
Everything was great. She had friends, a normal social life, went to school with other kids her age. She wasn’t constantly being followed around by paparazzi. She still ran her fashion blog and had frequently updates. It was perfect.
It took two years for it to go bust.
The reason’s name was Lila Rossi.
And she was the biggest liar Marinette had ever met. And Marinette had grown up in the entertainment industry.
Lila made wild claims that the other kids just ate up. A simple google search could refute all of them. The ones Marinette could stand was always about Jagged. Like her Uncle, or an airline, would be reckless enough to let a kid race on to an airport to save a cat; not that Jagged had ever own one. Fang was territorial.
Lila made her out to be a bully, and slowly Marinette lost all her friends. Her only one left was Adrien, her partner Chat Noir. The blond and Marinette had modeled together a few times and he had recognized Marinette despite her new looked but he kept it a secret. Because of their history, Marinette developed a crush on the other and Adrien was quick to lose his crush on Ladybug once he found out it was his dear friend behind the mask.
When Marinette was exiled to the back, Adrien was quick to join her (much to Lila’s fury) and nothing could change his mind. Mostly because he was sick of Lila always touching him despite his vocal protests, and Bustier not doing anything about it.
Soon Marinette things started being messed up or destroyed; her homework, her sketchbooks and pencils, her jacket. She was tripped and called rude names. Her cellphone, (Well one of her phones. She had two; one she used as Marinette Stone. One for Marinette Dupain-Cheng; a number only her classmates had.) was filled with mean texts.
Bustier caved to demands and had her excluded from class trips and events due to being a negative influence; again Adrien decided not to go either, and Lila was Akumatized once he said this. Marinette hadn’t been surprised. Bustier always ignored the bullying and harassment clearly happening in front of her. Still, Marinette decided to start recording her classes a hidden camera on her desk, on the corner of the celling and even on top of the whiteboard behind Bustier. It was just in case anything took a serious turn.
Still losing all her friends because of a few promises and dreams of glitz and glamour had been a wakeup call. Her Uncle had warned her. Her Aunt Penny, who Jagged had married with Marinette was ten, had warned her. So did Savage, Ashley, Cleo, Austin, Clara, and Niklaus. They told Marinette to watch out for fake friends and gold diggers, coattail clingers and desperate wannabes; people who would sell out every secret she had to the paparazzi behind her back just for five minutes in the spot light. So called friends who would do anything to get ahead, to get famous.
And it was clear that’s who most of her ex-friends were. Even Lila learned the hard way. When she told Alya about her mom meeting with some important celebrity about their Go Green initiative, this wasn’t a lie as it would turn out. However, the glasses-wearing girl posted it online, despite Lila legitimately asking her to keep it a secret. Lila got in big trouble with her mom apparently.
The teacher, Bustier, was awful but she always had been. Marinette ignored it in the past because at least she had her friends. But if that witch told Marinette to be a better example one more time, it was over.
Everything came to a head after Marinette got expelled, granted she was brought back after evidence that it was impossible for her to have cheated surfaced, and the bluenette decided enough was enough. She finally gave in and told her Uncle everything.
Jagged was pissed. He cursed up a storm; enough to fill the swear jar ten times over and buy Marinette a car.
It took a while to get him to calm down. And to convince him that Marinette could handle it. She had a plan.
Still, she remembered that Uncle was a wild card.
Friday, during lunch, Marinette was eating in the cafeteria, when suddenly the lunchroom doors burst open, “Marinette,” Jagged called as he entered, trailed by a happy Penny and bodyguards “Where’s my favorite little fashion designer?”
Marinette just sighed.
Adrien smirked at her; looking way too amused. The jerk must’ve known. She had thought it was strange that he wanted to eat in the cafeteria. The two rarely ate on the school grounds, opting and preferring to go to local restaurants rather than deal with terrible food and pesky classmates. Still Marinette didn’t mind as long as they away from her classmates. And they did.
Kagami, Aurore, and Claude gave her perplexed looks.
The students in the cafeteria went wild. Girls and guys screamed, and tried to get pictures. Jagged ignored them and went straight to Marinette’s table, walking passed where Bustier’s student at lunch. Alya shook Lila’s shoulder and pointed at Jagged, and loudly asked if Lila could get her an interview. Lila looked horrified.
Jagged beamed when he reached Marinette, “There you are, you’ve been ignoring my texts,” He accused. Which to be fair, Marinette had been. Her Uncle had been coming up with way too many revenge plots to be healthy. “I decided I need a new look for the VMAs; something rockin, something tasteful, something to show remind the world the amazingness that the Rock Gods have blessed them with.”
“I’m at school,” Marinette told him.
He smirked, “Then Learn to answer a text,” The Rock star shrugged. “But fine; we can talk later. How about at my concert, yeah. You and your friends” he motioned to the kids at Marinette’s table, “Can have backstage passes. We’ll talk then. But I really want you to wow me. Maybe get a matching hat for Fang too.”
“Fang?” Adrien asked innocently. Still Marinette could practically hear see the script he was reading off of. “Is that your cat?”
Jagged gasped as if insulted, “Cat? Do you think I’d ever own anything as ordinary as a cat? Me? Jagged Stone?! I should be insulted, mate. I hate cats, always have. Never owned one, never will. Fang’s a crocodile. Marinette’s knows. Fang loves her.”
“That is strange,” Kagami shot Marinette a smirk which caused Marinette to nearly hiss at the betrayal. Kagami knew too?! “Lila said you did.”
“Lila?” Jagged asked. “Who’s Lila? I don’t know a Lila.”
“Lila Rossi?” Aurore offered. “The Ladyblog practically swears in an interview that Lila Rossi saved your cat from being hit by a plane or something.”
Jagged scoffed, “What a loud of bull! Any journalist that believes that is not worth the pen they write with.” Gasps were heard. “But I heard that rumor. Didn’t know where it was from. Thanks for letting me know who I should sue. This Ladyblog and Lila Rossi will be hearing from my lawyers.”
It was a photo finish as to who fainted first; Alya or Lila.
Lila went home right after that. This caused the reactions of the class to be split. Half the class still defended Lila; refusing to believe their golden ticket was lying. The other half was ready to burn her at the stake; they had carried her books, done her homework, wrote her notes, nearly everything for her.
Marinette just sat back and watched with amused eyes. If they thought this was bad, they hadn’t seen anything yet.
That weekend Marinette Stone released a video on her blog about bullying. She had been mentioning her own trouble with bullying for months and people had asked her for more information.
The title of the video was:
Bullying Stone: The Expose
In it Marinette revealed that at her school she went by Marinette Dupain-Cheng, her real name, and had a new look. She told about how much she liked school at first. And they what changed; that it all started when a new girl arrived and started telling lies about celebrities about Marinette. She told the story of how she was expelled; and just how many procedures were broken when it happened.
Marinette used the recordings she had of class, and even showed up the horrible texts she got.
“As you can see the teacher does nothing,” Marinette frowned. “It’s all happening right in front of her and she does nothing. In the next video, you’ll see someone being sexually harassed, in front of the teacher and she doing nothing about it. And then what victim blaming looks like. Again, as a reminder, all these videos and pictures are unedited.” She had offered to blur Adrien’s face but he declined, and even appeared in the video too and talked about his own experience.
At the end of the video, Marinette looked straight at the camera, “Anyone can be bullied; famous or otherwise. If you’re being bullied; speak up. Tell your parents, your Aunts, your Uncles, your siblings, your cousins, teachers who you know will actually do something about it. I waited too long to tell someone. I regret that. They thought what they were doing was hurting me. They thought I’d be miserable without them. They thought I’d cry and break and come crawling back to them. They thought wrong. You can bully Stone but it takes a hell of a lot more than that to break it.”
The video went viral in an hour. And people were angry. The people who knew Marinette and loved her were beyond furious. Jagged, even more so, as he hadn’t seen the videos before, read the texts.
Marinette Stone’s phone blew up with texts and calls. She was tweeted and retweeted thousands of times. And she got far too many, ‘You want me to kick their asses for you. I can kick their asses for you,” texts. But she had known she’d get them.
The Ladyblog was ripped for lies by celebrities who been lied about on site and fans.
Gabriel Agreste, Adrien told her, was pissed about what had been happening to Adrien, in front of a teacher no less. Lila Rossi fired. And if Lila ever had dreams about working in the fashion industry, they were over.
Savage, after berating her for not kicking Lila’s ass, told her he and the gang (Austin, Cleo, Ashley, and And Niklaus) was coming over for some Mario Kart and artery clogging fast food.
When the call disconnect, Marinette got a text from him.
Why did you sic Fang on them?
And that’s a five for the swear jar!
Marinette couldn’t stop laughing.
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Do Not Say ‘Always After My Lucky Charms’ Or I Will Stab You
A “Holidays from Hel” Avengers Tale...
In which Loki and Mina once again find themselves in the middle of a colossal Avengers holiday fuckup. And who knew the Fey Folk were such assholes?
Dedicated with love to @nildespirandum, my Irish Goddess who consistently Figures My Shit Out. Especially here.
Chapter One: An Unmitigated Disaster Awaits
If there was blame to be assigned for the night that destroyed any charm and mystery left in St. Patrick’s Day, it should really go to The Paddy O’Hoolihans, an Irish folk band with a painfully cheesy name. But their music- it was frenzied and delightful, which was why Mina, Wanda, Jane, Pepper, Darcy, and even Natasha were swirling madly in some sort of a jig between each other like a flutter of butterflies, colorful spring dresses flaring out in a pleasing way that exposed a toned thigh or two. They were so fascinating to watch that the rest of the Avengers agreed right then that a Night Out On The Town would be necessary in the hopes of seeing more.
“A flutter of butterflies?” Tony blustered. “That can’t be right.”
Loki was seated elegantly on a comfortable chair in the middle of Central Park while most of the other male Avengers were seated in the grass, soaking the seat of their jeans. “A flutter,” he confirmed, watching closely as Mina sent him a saucy little wink. “Known also as a kaleidoscope or a swarm.”
“Swarm isn’t the right word,” mused Steve, still brushing at the green streaks on his pressed chinos. “That sounds like bugs. The girls are definitely butterflies.”
“Butterflies are bugs,” grunted Bucky, eyes closed and soaking in the weak spring sunlight.
“You romantic bastard,” chortled Sam, who was watching Thor capering with the women and getting the dance steps wrong. “I’m gonna go save those ladies from his bigass feet.”
“That slick son of a bitch,” Tony observed morosely, watching Sam gracefully sweep Pepper under one arm and Natasha with the other.
It was a rare day, a blissful day where nothing was exploding, no one was invading anyone else’s borders, no one was getting kidnapped, and even HYDRA appeared to be taking a long afternoon nap. The Avengers were all lazing in Central Park on an almost unnaturally warm day for March 17th and enjoying a holiday where they were, for once, not urgently needed. Anywhere.
“To St. Patrick’s Day!” toasted Bucky, raising his bottle of Guinness to clink with Steve’s. “So what’s the plan for tonight?”
Tony pulled another bottle from the specialty vibranium cooler that floated next to him, its propulsion jets hissing softly. “Watch the parade from Stark Tower, say a prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and hit The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog. The Dropkick Murphys are headlining.”
Loki sniffed, still watching keenly as Mina took the hands of an elderly gentleman so wizened and stooped that he could legally be classified as a leprechaun. “My lady and I will be spending the evening safely at the Tower. I do not understand this keen desire for holiday-based mayhem and disaster, but I assure you we shall not participate.”
“Brother!” Thor’s voice was unfortunately right next to Loki’s ear, and God or no, the roar from the oaf seared through his ear canal and scrambled his ganglia. “You must bring the Lady Mina, she will be terribly disappointed! Darcy has been telling her of the majesty of the Celtic celebrations here. She must pay homage to her ancestors.”
Loki frowned. Mina had Irish blood? He would rather crush his own skull with Thor’s hammer than admit that his brother knew something about his Mina that he did not, so he settled for a haughty sniff. “Why must I be the sole sentinel during every holiday on this benighted excuse for a realm to remind you all that it will always, always invariably result in death and destruction? That there will be some unnatural force that will target the Avengers and endanger all those we love? Why must I be the-”
“Hey, did you hear that?” Tony interrupted happily, “Loki looooves Mina!”
And then the tiresome chorus rose from this pack of imbeciles. Loki rolled his eyes, wondering if he sent a hailstorm of toads down upon this crowd if it would immediately be traced back to him. But then his Mina returned and sat down in his lap. Kissing him on the tip of his aquiline nose, she sighed, “And Mina loves Loki, so all of you hush.”
“Darling, are you indeed of Irish descent?”
Mina looked up from the 3D chemical strain she was modeling for one of Jane’s experiments. “Yes, and Scottish. How did this come up?”
Loki sniffed haughtily. “My oaf of a brother attempted to claim that I must indulge you in a night of drunken excess with the rest of the team as some sort of homage to your heritage. Is this night one that must be dedicated to your ancestors? Is it a sacred rite?”
Giving a very unladylike snort, Mina said, “Nothing sacred about gulping down too much green beer and singing Irish folk songs. But…” Loki groaned internally. His sweet girl had a look of longing as she continued. “But it’s always such a fun night! I get to dance and sing, and the saying is that ‘On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish.’” She smiled up at him sweetly. “Even you, Loki.”
Lip curled, he snarled, “Do not assign me a heritage from this insignificant rock!” Traditionally, this sort of elegant sneer would quail Mina, but this time, she gave him a sneer of her own.
“Oh, you do not disrespect my people, Loki!” She quailed slightly before seeing his curled lip stretch into a smile.
“My, my. Look at my fierce little banshee! I would not think of it.” Mina gave him the sort of shameless, hopeful grin that crumbled the God of Lies and Mischief’s will more often than he’d care to admit.
Sliding her hands over his broad shoulders, admiring the hard muscle beneath, she asked, “Does that mean you might be willing to join the group tonight at the Dead Rabbit?”
His elegant head pulled back from hers, “What a truly bizarre name. Does the proprietor wish to drive people away from his tavern?”
Mina cackled a bit. “We Irish are tough. We like it rough and difficult.” She instantly realized her mistake as Loki’s pupils flared.
“Really…” he purred, his deep tone more like a rumble against her spine. “You like it, ‘rough,’ do you, darling?”
It was a desperate scramble to get away from her God’s ruthless grasp, but Mina found herself pulling on her old plaid kilt and cream Irish fisherman’s sweater after a promise to show Loki later the bit of “rough” a good girl from the Emerald Isle could handle. “My lovely Mina,” he approved, stepping behind her in the dressing room mirror to straighten his cuffs. She’d just pulled on some warm black tights and her knee-high riding boots. “You have a very delectable ‘upper-crust schoolgirl’ sort of look here. I find myself quite interested in knowing what good Irish schoolgirls wear under their kilts.”
“Well, I imagine a big, strong man like you can find out for yourself,” Mina answered primly, then leaped over the bench with a yelp when Loki made a sudden move at her. Chuckling, he straightened his tie and strolled sedately after her.
It was, of course, vile. Loki sighed in a long-suffering way as he surveyed the crowded bar, one hand securely on Mina’s back. “The sun barely set and here are your countrymen, already intoxicated,” he said, leaning in close so she could hear him over the drunken chorus of “Whiskey You’re the Devil.”
“Oh, look!” Mina shouted back, “There they are! In the Snug.”
“I beg your pardon?” Loki raised a brow.
“The Snug,” Mina was the one carving a path through the partygoers, heading for their friends. “There’s one in every proper Irish bar. It’s the room right off of the bar where the ladies used to go to have a pint or a sherry and not have to worry about being considered loose. Now the bars just rent them out as a VIP space.”
In his usual fashion, Tony had not only bought out the Snug, which had an excellent view of the rest of the pub, but he also had the management re-create the magnificent, shining walnut bar that ran nearly the length of the main room into a private version for the Avengers. When they drew closer, they found Thor in a handstand with one end of a tube in his mouth and the other in a cask of aged whiskey.
Sam, Clint, Darcy, and the usually shy Bucky were circling the spectacle, shouting “Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!” Thor finished the cask and flipped upright with a flourish, raising his huge arms and roaring in triumph.
“What are you wearing?” Loki frowned, all the men were sporting hideous green plaid patterned neckties, and the drunker amongst them - namely Clint and Tony - had little green bowler hats perched atop their messy hair.
“It was Tony’s idea, where’s your tie?” asked Bruce, who looked distinctly put out that he’d been forced to wear this itchy novelty neckwear while Loki looked as smooth and perfectly put together as always in an onyx Tom Ford suit.
Loki sniffed, “Ideally, at the bottom of the Hudson River.”
Tony stumbled up behind Loki and Mina, sunglasses askew as he looped an arm around each of them. “Your brother knows how to party, Severus Snape! Let’s tap another cask for you!”
“It is a crime to treat a good whiskey so,” admonished Loki, “and Thor must consume twenty or so of those casks for him to find something even approaching intoxication.” Nonetheless, he found himself relaxing and even amused as his Mina dragged Natasha up on to the bar for a round of Irish Ceili dancing, the Russian gracefully moving along as if she’d performed Irish jigs all her life.
“Man, is there anything Natasha can’t do perfectly?” groused Darcy, watching the footwork until it made her dizzy.
Bucky put his arm around her. “She can’t make that cute little noise you make when I…” She dissolved into a round of giggles and Loki rolled his eyes, looking around the pub. There was a thicket of drunk college students, singing along and off-key with the Dropkick Murphys, who’d moved on to “Rose Tattoo.” The main bar was claimed by the regulars, who held court and toasted something new at least every sixty seconds, based on the cheers and clinking of glasses. Small islands of tourists floated through the crowd, gripping a beer mug in one hand and a souvenir Dead Rabbit t-shirt in the other. Irish flags were draped in every corner and the light glowed off the massive selection of alcohol behind the bar, bathing everything in a pleasingly golden glow. And… Loki raised one elegant brow. There was a small group of… small people?
“Little people,” Steve said, leaning in. “The correct phrase is little people.”
“Descendants of a visit long past from a group of lustful and irresponsible Nidavellir,” mused Loki, “the dwarves always eager to spread their seed.”
Steve looked alarmed, “I don’t think you want to be floating that theory, Loki. Especially not here, and not tonight.”
Before the God of Mischief could further discuss Nidavellir sex tourism, he heard a loud “Hellooo, Monty!” from his sweet girl, still tip-tapping away atop the bar.
One of the men broke away from the group and waved eagerly. “Éire go Brách, Mina!”
Leaping rather gracefully from the bar, she took his small hand, greeting him warmly. “Éire go Brách, Monty! I’m so glad you came.”
The gentlemen had a face like a withered crabapple, all wrinkles and slightly sunken, but when he glanced at Loki, there was a spark of something in his eye. One trickster always knew another, and he recognized the elderly gentleman she’d favored with a dance that afternoon at the park. “Well, when you promised me another dance, my dear, how could I not?” Monty turned to Loki and bent his head in a courtly gesture, “If your date for the evening has no objection, of course.”
Oddly, Loki did have an objection. The gleam in the small man’s eye was growing brighter, and his own emerald ones narrowed. “And what brings you to New York, Monty? Your accent has all the slurs and ellipses of a Dubliner, born and bred.”
Mina’s new friend threw back his head and laughed grandly, “Ach, you’ve caught me. I am, indeed. But I find that here in America, the Irish celebrate this day with greater enthusiasm.”
Just then the Dropkick Murphys launched into “The Boys are Back” and Mina squealed. “Monty! This is my song, let’s go!” And with a final smirk at Loki, her diminutive beau allowed her to pull him into the crowd.
He stared after them disapprovingly. The Dead Rabbit was even louder - if possible - than it had been when they arrived and the discordant screech of electric guitar and the accompaniment of the Uilleann pipes rose over the crowd.
The boys are back
The boys are back
The boys are back
And they're looking for trouble
Standing on the highway ???
I'm missing my home, and it's killing me
Down the ramp past the jail, I'm feeling alright
Bought roses for my ladies from a corner delight
It's time to get ready for that song and dance
Let's go my friends, it's time to take a chance
We're back in town, we're gonna get it done
We got nowhere to hide, we got nowhere to run
It's been a long time coming,
It's been a long time coming,
The boys are back
The boys are back
The boys are back
And they're looking for trouble
And in the blink of an eye, Mina and her questionable dancer partner were swallowed up into the crowd. “Did he seem… odd to you?” Loki asked Tony, who was leaning heavily on his shoulder and wrinkling the perfect cut of his jacket.
Tony stumbled back, “Woah, Lokes, prejudiced much? What’s next, snide comments about the little people always being after your Lucky Charms?” He said the last in a deplorably bad Irish accent, and Loki’s brow furrowed. Tony (partially sober) was just barely endurable. Completely intoxicated Tony was a punishment that could make the strongest Asgardian choose Odin’s dungeons over Stark Tower.
Bucky gently elbowed Tony into a seat, where his head tipped back and a gentle snore rose from his slack mouth. “Ignore him, Loki. What’s the problem?”
“Most pressing,” he said, “is that my dear Mina seems to have disappeared into this drunken throng with a most untrustworthy creature.”
“Takes one to know one,” Bucky agreed, but he refused to take offense, still searching the crowd. Looking around, he frowned. “And where’s Darcy and Jane? And Pepper? And Natasha?” By now the others were closing in. Thor shouldered his way into the knot of drunken, flailing New Yorkers and Clint hopped up on the table.
Pale hands shooting out, Loki sent a silver stream of energy that coiled and ripped around the pub, curling and snaking along, but there was no sign of the women. “By the NORNIR!” he shouted. “Why? Why must it always be the holidays? You Avengers are a curse, I swear it!”
“Huh?” Tony woke up, standing and rubbing his face. “What?”
Loki turned on him. “You will never heed my warning, will you? All our women- they are gone. Gone!”
"Aw, damn,” sighed Steve. “AGAIN?”
Yeah... sorry. All the smut is in Chapter Two, but I’ll make it worth your while.
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