#literally was checking the window all day for the mail truck
Got my copy of Dreams of Peace today and couldn’t be more excited! Thank you for letting me be a part of such a gorgeous collection of works by so many kind, talented, and hilarious people 🍃💝
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Jaan-e Maryam (My Sweet Flower)
Pairing: Agent Whiskey x fem!Violinist!Reader
Summary: Agent Whiskey is a lonely man, but when a quiet violinist moves next door, he starts to think that maybe this is the beginning of the end of his solitude
About this piece: This was written as a request from the wonderful @cynic-spirit! I was very inspired by a Persian song "Jaan-e Maryam” by the artist Mohammad Nouri. The title literally translates to “My Sweet Maryam,” where “Maryam” is both the name of a woman and a kind of flower. If you want to hear a fantastic rendition of this song, please find Monika Jalili’s version here.
I also was heavily inspired by a piano rendition of this piece by the pianist Evgeny Grinko, which I made my personal mission to learn before posting this piece. If you’d like to listen to a recording of me actually playing this, please go here. Forgive the terrible recording quality...I was of course playing on an electric piano and recording on my phone.
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling. Please enjoy.
Jack Daniels was a lonely man. There was really no denying it, and he certainly wasn’t denying it to himself. Ever since his wife and unborn child died in such a horrible accident, he had resigned himself to an existence of loneliness.
At least his job at Statesman provided him something to do than just sit and stare at the abyss that was his life. His lifestyle may seem glamorous to some, but in reality, it was anything but. He would not wish his life on his worst enemy.
Jack wasn’t usually prone to such dark thoughts. Normally, he was too busy fighting people, shooting guns, and waving his whip around to let himself be too introspective. And frankly, that was probably a good thing for him. If he got too far into his dark spirals, there would be no way for him to climb back out of them again. Or at the very least, it would be incredibly difficult for him to do so. The last time he had spiraled so low was right after his wife and child died. He had never thought he would recover from that, and to be frank, he hadn’t completely.
But he was trying.
Which was more than he could say he did before he joined Statesman.
When Jack got home, to his secluded ranch house, from work he couldn’t help but notice how dark and cold the house was. The winter had settled in in Kentucky, and the old ranch house was started to accumulate the chill. He had been on assignment somewhere in the Caribbean for a few months, and so coming home to the chill and seclusion was like greeting an old friend. It was not exactly the best thing to cure Jack of the mood he was in, but it made him happy enough—at least for now.
Later in the evening, Jack sat out on the porch, sipping a glass of his namesake beverage and just took the time to observe his surroundings. His neighbors, the Wilsons, owned a small farm that bordered Jack’s ranch. They were an elderly couple that reminded him of his dearly departed grandparents. He ought to pay them a visit sometime and see if they were well. Last he heard. their kids were too busy to come see them.
But as Jack’s eyes scanned the border between his and the Wilsons’ property, he noticed something rather strange. The light was on in the Wilson’s guesthouse, which happened to sit right next to the border fence. And there was a small U-Haul truck hitched to a beat-up old Honda. Jack frowned and got up to walk towards the border fence.
Surely the Wilson’s hadn’t moved, had they? Mrs. Wilson would have said something, he was sure of it.
As he approached the fence, he noticed that someone he didn’t recognize was moving back and forth from the U-Haul to the guesthouse. Jack stopped just shy of the fence, not wanting to spook the person (woman, he soon realized). It was dark after all, and she wasn’t expecting him. He waited a few moments for the woman to exit the guesthouse and return to her car, which she did after a few moments. Jack tried to move in a patch of grass illuminated by the streetlamp so as not to freak the poor woman out, but his movement caused her to look up and gaze over the fence, looking at his property.
“Who’s there?” she called, turning her head to find the source of the noise.
Jack figured now was as good of a time as any to introduce himself to his new neighbor. He cleared his throat, figuring that talking might scare her, and she swung her gaze over to where he was standing, staring at his figure which was illuminated by the streetlight.
“Uh, hey there,” he said, softly, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to sneak up on ya. I live just next door and noticed that there was something going on over here. Just thought I’d come over and see what it was.”
Jack internally cringed at that greeting. Way to sound like a creeper. And for her part, the strange woman was not impressed. She frowned, keeping her distance.
“Oh,” she replied, not really knowing what to say. Jack didn’t blame her. If he were approached by a random stranger, at night, claiming to be a neighbor, especially on a property that was so isolated from everyone else—yeah, he’d be suspicious as hell too. Jack shook his head and decided to end this awkward encounter with who-ever-the-fuck this was.
“Sorry to disturb you, ma’am. I’ll leave you to finish moving your stuff,” he mumbled, raising his whiskey glass in a mock salutation, “Have a good night now.”
“Sure,” she replied, “You too.”
And with that, she locked her car and strode back into the house, shutting the door, no doubt securing the lock behind her. Jack sighed and shook his head again.
That could have gone so much better. And if this woman was going to be his new neighbor, he just made a shit first impression. He really wasn’t sure what possessed him to wander over here in the dark, but it wasn’t one of his better decisions.
He did have to say one thing about the encounter. Although he could have introduced himself a little bit better, he didn’t regret it.
You were really quite pretty.
The next day, Jack got home from work to find your car still parked in front of the Wilson’s guesthouse. He was about to turn up ahead to park on his driveway when he noticed you were checking the mail by the road. You noticed his car and waved at him, in an attempt to flag him down. Jack raised his eyebrows, but obliged, pulling over and rolling down the window.
“Well, hello again, darlin,’” he said taking off his sunglasses so he could observe you properly, “How are you this evenin’?”
You gave him a small smile and replied.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself,” you said, “Truth be told, I wasn’t sure who you were, but Mrs. Wilson did tell me that you are indeed our neighbor.”
Jack raised his eyebrows at that.
“No harm done,” he said, “I did surprise you after all. I would have been suspicious too. Does this mean that you’re living with the Wilson’s then?”
“Yes, I’m renting their guesthouse. I was recently hired as a music teacher at the high school. It was a last-minute transfer, and I had a hard time finding a place to stay, so they were kind enough to offer this place.”
Jack grinned at that.
“A music teacher huh? You must be very talented,” he observed.
“I suppose so,” you said, softly, “Well, I won’t keep you any longer. I’ll see you around, Mr—?”
Jack kicked himself at forgetting to tell you his name.
“Jack Daniels, ma’am. Please, call me Jack. And may I have the pleasure of knowing your name?”
You nodded and gave it to him, and Jack repeated it, rolling the name over his tongue a few times. His Southern accent made it sound slightly different than how you pronounced it, but it was beautiful name, nonetheless. Fitting. You couldn’t help but feel a little flustered at the way he said it.
“Well then, I suppose I’ll be seeing you around a lot more?” he asked, internally preening at the opportunity to get to know you a bit more.
“So, it would seem,” you replied, “Have a good evening, Jack. I’m sure I’ll see you around later.”
And with that, you walked back into your house, leaving Jack sitting in his car on the side of the road. He was a little puzzled by you. You were clearly a cautious individual, not one to talk too much about yourself unless you absolutely had to. You were also quite guarded, as though hesitant to say what was on your mind. Jack was intrigued. Most of the women that he flirted with, or hell, just said hello to, would immediately fall for his charms. But not you, it seemed. Jack wasn’t even trying to flirt with you (when Jack Daniels flirts, he flirts, and the person of his affections knows it), and you seemed very unreceptive to whatever he had to say. Well, if you didn’t want to talk with him, of course, he wasn’t going to force you to. He would be disappointed, sure, but he would leave you alone.
Later that night, Jack found that he couldn’t sleep and decided to take a walk around his property, being careful to keep his distance from the Wilson’s guesthouse. Unfortunately, the one place he enjoyed laying down and stargazing was under a tree next to that damn border fence. Jack sighed, but figured that so long as he kept himself out of sight, it would be fine. He sat down underneath the tree and slowly leaned back onto the soft grass, gazing up at the night sky, current devoid of stars thanks to the brightness of the full moon. Jack closed his eyes and tried to even his breathing, attempting to block everything from his mind and just live in the moment. The cicadas chirped loudly—a common sound for any Southern summer evening. The noise calmed him. He’d get anxious whenever it was too quiet.
Jack didn’t know for how long he was laying on the ground when he heard something quite strange. A strained sound of a bow sliding across a string.
And then he heard it.
Violin music, specifically.
Jack lifted his head and strained his ears to hear it. Whoever was playing lived close to him. He could hear it quite clearly.
The song the violinist had chosen was melancholy, but outstandingly beautiful. Jack had never heard a melody quite like that in his lifetime. The warbled vibrato from the instrument rang across the night air, making its way towards Jack, wrapping him in its warmth. Because while the melody was mournful, there was a hint of hope. The musician clearly poured all of their feeling and emotion into the piece. It was not simply a piece of music to them—it meant everything to them. Whoever it was.
As he listened to the piece, Jack felt tears gather in his eyes. He couldn’t for the life of him understand why, but all he knew is that the song was making him feel things he had not felt in a long time. In many ways, the piece reminded him of how he felt after he lost his wife—the despair he felt at her passing, and how he thought he would never love again. That he was consigned to a life of solitude and loneliness.
But the ending of the piece was not like the beginning. As the crescendos faded to diminuendos, the notes became higher but softer, finally ending on the highest pitch of the piece. The violinist let the last note ring in the air, giving Jack time to contemplate. The song remained melancholy, yes, but it ended on a—dare he say it—hopeful note. Almost as though it was reassuring Jack that there was a light at the end of tunnel.
For what was darkness, without light?
Jack blinked and sat up, swiveling his head, trying his hardest to spot the elusive musician who played so beautifully. He turned to face the Wilsons’ guesthouse, squinting when he could make out a figure on the porch. He blinked again, and leaned forward, before he finally recognized your silhouette on the steps, holding a violin under your chin.
Jack’s eyes widened. So, it was you. You who had played so beautifully and made his heart skip several beats.
You looked up on your spot from the porch, to see Jack sitting in the distance. You stood up and gazed out beyond the fence bordering the two properties, seeing him give you a small wave in greeting. You lowered your violin and bow, making eye contact with Jack for a minute before a small smile creeped onto the corners of your mouth.
Jack’s breath hitched when he saw it.
He was fucked.
Your neighbor Jack Daniels was a strange one, you had to admit. He never seemed to go to work or come home on a set schedule, and it made you wonder what exactly the man did for a living. It obviously paid well because he could afford to buy such a beautiful ranch property. On the days that you did see him drive by on his way to work or home, he would always roll down the window of his car and greet you, taking the time to exchange a few pleasantries before continuing about his day.
But it was the evenings, when you decided to step outside the onto your porch and play your violin for whoever wanted to listen, that you began to understand Jack the best. Music had a way of bringing out sides of people that even they themselves did not realize existed. It was part of the reason you decided to become a musician in the first place. You wanted to explore the sides of humanity that were normally considered taboo—you wanted to understand what made people tick, what made people cry, and what made them want to tear down everything they had built.
Music had a peculiar way of managing to push everyone’s buttons simultaneously, and Jack Daniels was no exception.
It had been about a month since the first time he had heard you play the violin. You were playing your own arrangement of a popular Persian song. When you had stepped onto the porch that night, you weren’t expecting anyone to be listening, let alone earning a repeat audience member. The following day, Jack had left a note in your mailbox telling you how much he had enjoyed your music and how he longed to hear you play again. You had smiled reading the note. Normally most people would get annoyed when they heard you trying to practice—some of your neighbors had outright demanded you find a new place to play your instrument despite your attempts to keep everything quiet.
Whatever music spilled from your strings was way better than the drivel that your old neighbors played at their Friday night ragers, in any case.
However, Jack Daniels was unlike anyone you had ever met. He didn’t care what you played—he just wanted you to play. And that attitude made him one of the most refreshing individuals to be around. A few times a week, you would sit on your porch and play for him. It didn’t matter to him if you hadn’t perfected the piece or had only just started to learn it. He just wanted to hear whatever you were willing to share with him.
At first you were hesitant. Music was an incredibly personal thing and sharing it with others was not always your forte (no pun intended). However, there was something about Jack that set you at ease. Not only were you happy to play for him you actively enjoyed it and wanted to perform. You weren’t necessarily keen on other people listening to your music, but if it was Jack, then you were more than happy to oblige.
Over the ensuing weeks, you and Jack got closer. Your nightly concerts were the perfect venue for him to be vulnerable with you. After a few months, you soon learned about his horrific past, and what happened to his wife and unborn child. He had had tears in his eyes as he recalled the very first piece you had played for him—the Persian one—and how it reminded him of the tragedy he had gone through. But it had also given him a lot of hope for the future. He spoke of how your performance that night had affected him deeply, and you couldn’t help but climb over the fence and give him a hug.
It was then you knew that you had fallen completely hard for him.
Jack Daniels wasn’t the only one up shit creek regarding his feelings.
You were too.
It was a dark, Tuesday night, and you were about to settle into bed after a long day of teaching high school students. Your students were, by and large, great to work with, but occasionally you would get a few of them who were complete troublemakers. While you were normally able to get a handle on your classroom, this time, you had had to give a few of them detention. You didn’t like to do it, but you didn’t have a choice.
Now that you were home, all you wanted to do was take your beloved violin and play for Jack, but from what you could gather, he was out of town. He had been gone for about two days, and you were starting to miss him very much. You still weren’t sure what Jack did for a living and he was very tight-lipped about it, so you hadn’t asked. You had a feeling that whatever it was, it was dangerous. Several times you had noticed that Jack had returned from one of his business trips with a busted lip or a black eye. It made you nervous…not of him but for him. You just hoped that wherever he was, and whatever he was doing, he was safe.
You weren’t sure what you would do if anything happened to him.
You had just turned off the light on your nightstand when you heard a knock at the door. You stiffened. It was late, and you weren’t expecting anyone. While this was a generally safe neighborhood, and you knew all of your neighbors, it was still probably not a good idea to be answering the door late at night. Especially given the fact that you were a single woman living by yourself. You waited another few moments, hoping that whoever it was would go away, but the knocking continued, and you decided that you might as well try to see who it was.
You padded your way to the door and looked through the peephole to find none other than Jack Daniels himself standing outside the door. He looked terrible—he was incredibly battered, and he had a rather nasty looking cut on his forehead. Immediately, you opened the door for him.
“Jack!” you exclaimed, “What are you doing here? Is everything all right?”
Everything was clearly not all right.
“Hey darlin,’” he mumbled, “I hate to show up this late, but I really needed to see you. Do you think I could come inside for a moment?”
You blinked at his question. Jack had never once asked to come inside your private space before.
“Um, yes of course,” you replied, stepping back to let him in. Jack gave you a smile and entered the house, removing his signature Stetson before sinking into your couch, groaning as he did so. Now that you could see him better in the light, he looked even worse than before.
“You’re badly hurt,” you stated, “Do you need first aid? I may have some bandages somewhere. I can go find them.”
Jack shook his head and waved his hand dismissively.
“No, no don’t worry about me. It’s not as bad as it looks,” he assured, but you weren’t convinced.
“What happened to you, Jack?” you asked, softly. Jack just shook his head in reply.
“I can’t tell you, sweetheart,” he lamented, “I really want to, but I just…I can’t. Let’s just say that my job is rough.”
“I think that is the understatement of the year,” you jested, coaxing a laugh out of Jack. You smiled at that. You would love to hear him laugh more.
“You’re damn right about that, hon,” Jack chuckled, “It’s not easy, but…knowing that you’re here at the end makes it all worth it.”
Your breath hitched at this.
“What do you mean, Jack?” you asked, although you knew exactly what he was trying to say. You just needed to hear him vocalize it, to make it real.
Jack sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face.
“Sweetheart,” he started, “My trip was hard. In more ways than one, and there were a few times where…where…I wasn’t sure if I was gonna make it back.”
Your heart clenched at the implication, but you said nothing, silently urging him to continue.
“And when I was sitting there, wondering whether it was worth continuing, I thought about you, and your beautiful music. And that kept me going. I just had to finish the mission…so I could come back to you. So, I could see you and listen to you play again. That was the only thing keepin’ me going,” he confessed.
The air was heavy in the wake of Jack’s words. You weren’t sure what to say. You had never been the best at expressing yourself with words—you preferred for your music to do the talking. But you needed to say something fast, lest Jack think that his…thoughts were unwelcome.
“I know it’s late, and I dropped a lot on ya,” he continued, shaking his head, “But I just…I just had to saying somethin’. I know that I would regret it if I didn’t. You don’t have to say anythin’, I just want you to know.”
You shook your head and reached over to squeeze Jack’s hand.
“No, no, I’m not upset,” you murmured, “I am just…not good at saying what I feel.”
Jack’s eyebrows raised at that, his eyes wide with hope.
“And what do you feel, sweetheart?”
You gulped and searched around the room for your instrument. Spotting the case, you walked over and extracted the violin and the bow. You plucked at the A-string for a moment, contemplating what to do next before turning back to Jack and meeting his gaze.
“Let me show you.”
And just like that, you closed your eyes, brought the bow to the strings, and began to play. The same song you had first played for Jack all those months ago. Although this time, it was different. The melody was no longer melancholic. Instead, you poured everything you could, everything you felt, into the piece. There was no point in hiding how you felt. If Jack was willing to take this risk, and take a leap, then you needed to meet him halfway. So, you did. But not with words.
You let the music speak for yourself.
When you were finished, you slowly dragged the bow from the string, letting the last note ring in the air, before opening your eyes to meet Jack’s soulful brown ones. And what you saw, written plainly on his face, was enough to make your eyes begin to water. Jack was lonely person, just like you, and finally, just finally, this might be the beginning of the end of that loneliness.
Wordlessly, Jack strode over to you as you set your instrument down gently on the table, and softly took your face in his hands. His eyes studied yours for a moment before he spoke.
“Can I kiss you, darlin’?” he asked, and you nodded fervently, which was all the permission he needed.
When his lips met yours, you knew that this was it.
There was nowhere else you would rather be.
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Undercover - Chapter 23
I was in my office glancing at the doors every few minutes. I was expecting y/n to walk in and go to her desk; she never did. She was still at the house when I left... where the hell is she.
I looked at the clock she was an hour late, I took out my phone and tapped on her contact. The phone started ringing... and kept ringing. Eventually it went to voicemail. Maybe she was still driving and didn't want to answer the phone.
I called again and again and still no answer. I was getting anxious; I stood for my chair and walked into the bullpen, "Have you guys heard from y/n today." They said no and asked what was wrong, I ignored them.
I went down to Garcia's office, typing in the code and going in. I shut the door and stood behind her putting a hand on her chair, "Sir you scared me." I hummed.
"Can you track y/n's phone, I haven't heard from her."
"Ok... it says she is on 5, she's not moving. Hold on- there was an accident that just happened this morning", she said turning to me. "Do you think it's her?"
"I don't know, don't tell the team where I'm going. I need to make sure." Garcia nodded turning to her computers. Going into the elevator I waited for seemed like forever to get to the parking lot. I started driving to 5...
It couldn't be her she would never be reckless. When I arrived at her last location there were cop cars and a fire truck. I approached one of the officers. "Do you know what happened here?"
"Truck rear ended that car. There was one person injured... that's all we know." I tried to ask him what hospital they took the person too but he didn't know. I called Garcia.
"I think it was y/n... from what I can tell it's her car. Where are they taking her."
"Oh my god... uh yeah- they're going to... the General Memorial." I hung up the phone immediately getting into my car and driving. I didn't pay any attention to the speed limit or really any other cars, I just wanted-- needed to get to her.
When I got to the parking lot I ran in going to the front desk, "I'm here for a y/n y/l/n.”
The lady was going to give me a bullshit excuse so I pulled out my credentials and she told me what room to find her in. I went to the 2nd floor room 225, I walked in and there she was.
I saw her chart on the wall, she had a concussion and some miner internal damage but ultimately she was going to be okay. I took a seat next to her bed letting Garcia know she was fine. The car was on fire... if she was in there.
I didn't open my eyes yet but I could feel another presence in the room. I could smell their cologne and in an instant I knew who it was Aaron. I started moving around; I winced in pain, "You're awake." I sensed him move closer and grab my hand.
I opened my eyes and the lights burned my eyes for a moment before they adjusted. He had a sad smile on his face, "How are you?" My lips tugged upwards, "Good for someone who just got hit by a car..." The realization set in and I remembered the whole event.
I snapped my head towards Aaron, "How's Jack." he furrowed his brows in confusion. "What do you mean? You dropped him off didn't you?" I shook my head. "H- he was in... the car", I let out a small yeah and closed my eyes tight.
"Do you kno- know where he is."
"When I woke up in the car Jack was gone... I didn't see anything." I watched as anger washed over Aaron, his son was missing and I was my fault.
He didn't blame me but himself for not driving with me or taking Jack himself. "We got to tell the team. This is a case till I say otherwise." He walked out the room and made some calls. A few minutes later he walked back in and sat down with me.
Aaron was about to speak when the nurse entered the room, "You're up, how are you feeling on a scale of 1 - 10."
"Maybe 5", She jotted down on my chart and checked my vitals. "You seem to be ok, we'll check up another hour then we can get you the discharge papers and get you out of here." I gave her a smile and resumed the conversation with Aaron.
"Do you know how long it's been since the accident", he sat down in the chair next to me.
"Maybe a few hours, I'm not sure... give me a cognitive."
"Who do you think might've done this." I racked my brain trying to find the answers that were hidden away. My concussion made it harder to remember little details. I sat up in the bed while Aaron turned the lights down.
I held my head in my hands, rubbing my temple like somehow it was going to give me my memory back. I was focusing, running the moments in my mind, going through frame by frame like it was a movie.
"I unbuckled my seatbelt and looked for Jack- he wasn't in the car so I crawled out the broken window. I stumbled my way to the road and I saw a car pass by... shit." I forgot who was driving it but they looked familiar, I couldn't figure out if it was a male or female.
"I'm going to get some sleep... it'll come back to me", Aaron looked down at his hands; a tear falling from his eye onto the floor. I noticed. "Aaron, it’ll be okay. We'll find him." He glanced at me, wiping his eyes.
"Yeah I know", I grabbed his hand and held it reassuringly. I laid back down and closed my eyes.
"Watch out!" I didn't understand what Jack was talking about until it was too late. There was a truck headed towards the car, slamming into the rear end.
Before I knew it the car was tumbling; I got knocked out and when I came too I was upside-down. My vision was fading in and out and my ears were ringing, I made out trees and wet grass.
I was able to unbuckle my seatbelt and turn around- Jack was gone and I didn't see a trace of him anywhere. No blood, clothes... just nothing. I stumbled out of the car and made my way to the road. Seeing a car drive passed, what I did get was a clear view of the driver... Mark.
I jerked up, tugging on Aaron's hand and waking him up as well, "Mark took Jack." When the words fell from my lips Aarons anger returned. He kept calm but I could tell he was fuming underneath. The nurse walked back in, "Here you go."
She dropped off the discharge papers; Aaron signed them in an instant and we left. He took me home, out of habit I checked the mail, oh fucking course. I followed Aaron inside and set the note that he left on the island. We read it together.
You took my child away from me... something special. I can't have you y/n I cared about you. You fucking killed my kid. So I took something from you.
When we were done the letter I got a call from Morgan; I put him on speaker. "Guy's you might want to get back here, this is something I can't say to you over the phone."
I ended the call and hopped back into the car, my head was pounding from all the movement but I didn't care. Aaron rushed back to the office entering the doors and elevator. We reached the bullpen and we saw the team gathered in the round table room.
Rossi nodded to Garcia and she turned on the tv, and it was a live feed.
Jack was in a blacked out room, there were toys on the floor and a flat broken bed. The wallpaper was dingy and peeling. A single window allowed light into the room with crust and dirt almost completely covering it.
Aaron was fuming, I could feel it radiating off of him. I hesitantly reached up to his arm and guided him out to his office away from everyone. "What the fuck!", he yelled out.
"Baby, I'm pissed off too but you need to calm down." He turned, going behind his desk and leaning his hands on it.
"And how exactly am I supposed to fucking do that! Please tell me!", he shouted and I felt small. I backed away from him going into the corner; I felt tears brimming my eyes. I get he was beyond pissed and I was too, Jack was basically a son to me. I let him express the anger.
He slowly calmed down and realized what he did. His face dropped and he hesitantly made his way over to me, "Y/n I'm sorry." He said softly.
"It's fine", my voice was strained trying to keep it together, him yelling... reminded me of- him.
I took my time then I stood in front of him. "I get it, not completely but I do. One time... that's it, we all lose it sometimes-", I went closer to him gripping his jaw and making him look at me in my eyes.
"But if you ever. yell at me like that again, I'm not going to be so understanding", I saw tears in his eyes, the rage melted away and now he was just- missing his son. He nodded and he hugged me, resting his head on mine.
"Trust me, I'm not gonna yell at you again."
2 days later
"Where is he!?", I heard from coming from the bullpen. I glanced at Aaron asleep on the couch and decided to leave him. I opened the door and saw an angry Hayley coming through.
"You can't be here", I stared at her as she came closer to Aarons office. "Fuck the restraining order, where the hell is my son", I knew if she found out that I was with him when he was kidnapped she would quite literally shoot me right here.
I didn't answer but the commotion attracted the attention of everyone in the office. I felt a hand on my lower back and I turned; the yelling woke Aaron up. "What do you want?", she looked at him dumbfounded.
"Is anyone gonna tell me where my goddamn son is?"
"He's not here", Hayley scoffed clearly. "You would think his father would know." I wanted to punch her, I could just imagine my hand hitting her in the jaw.
No one on the team liked Hayley but they thought she should at least know. Rossi walked out of the round table room and called her over. She made her way through the door and was met with the live feed of Jack; he was sleeping in the thin bed.
I watched her as she fell on the floor and was crying. Nobody bothered to pick her up or console her. Eventually she collected herself and stood against the table. Tears still flooding her face she turned to me, "This is your fault, you and your fucking ex husband."
Aaron was quick to cover me and standing in front, "This isn't anyone's fault." Fully standing up she took a step towards him, "Of course you'd say that. You're the one that lost him."
"If you weren't deemed unfit for a time then you would've had him with you. Then you can blame yourself. Like I said this isn't anyone's fault." He spat the words out and I was thinking what she said. In a way this was my fault, it was just Mark. He was behind everything although we already knew that.
If I had never been with Aaron he wouldn't be in this situation, Jack wouldn't be. I pushed the thoughts back in my mind, I didn't notice but Hayley was gone and Garcia had cut the feed.
I walked up to her, "Are you sure you can't track it?" Pen shook her head.
"It's bouncing off of so many proxy servers- I'm sorry." I sighed and went back to Aaron. He had walked back into his office when Hayley left. I softly knocked on the door, "Not right now." Not listening I opened the door, He was laying on the couch with his arm resting on his head.
"I said not right no- oh", he saw me and sat up. I went to the couch and sat down, Aaron laid his head in my lap. I ran my fingers through his hair, "Get some sleep." He closed his eyes; I knew he was sleeping when I felt his breathing steady and he was taking deep breaths.
I moved and got up, careful to not wake him after some time. I turned off the lights and walked out to the briefing room. I was thinking about Jack, just missing his face. I saw the remote in the middle of the table and picked it up.
When I the tv turned on there he was, Jack was awake. It was getting dark out but the camera had night vision. He was scared and cold; I could see his breath in the video. His birthday was coming up and we might not be there for it.
I had the video muted because I couldn't bring myself to turn it on. To hear his voice calling out for his dad... me. It broke my heart.
I was driving him to school and within seconds I was flipped over and he was gone. I made silent promises to myself that we were going to get him back. I heard steps behind me and a hand on my shoulder.
"How are you doing?", Reid sat down next to me. "Right now... not great. I miss that kid so fucking much, he was like a son to me." Reid reached his hand out.
"It'll be okay, we're going to find him." I knew he was right but I can't help the thought if we never did. How would Aaron and I move on? Would he blame me for it?
"What if we don't." He took a deep breath, trying to find the right words to comfort me.
"We can't start thinking like that, we will", he was right. The negative mindset was going to set us off course. I needed to think of Mark; what was his end game.
He wanted a child and that's why he thought I was a safe bet, he thought I'd keep it. All I could think of was that he wanted a child. Not a random child but one that had a connection to me. He wanted to feel like I was around him all the time.
Jack was young and impressionable, he picked up some habit that I did. He wasn't going to hurt Jack but raise him as his own. Even though he was young he wasn't going to forget his parents. Which makes sense considering he was in a locked room.
"Do yourself a favor, go home the rest of the team and I will keep working." I give him a sad smile and pat his back and walk to get Aaron. When I walked in Aaron was at his desk on the computer.
I didn't say anything, I went over to him and sat on his lap wrapping my arms around his neck. His hands traveled to my waist and back holding me close. "Spencer said we should go home", he hummed in agreement.
I pulled back and looked at him in his eyes, "He's not wrong, we need sleep." I got off him and pulled him up by his hand. He closed the laptop and grabbed his stuff; walking out towards the elevator we were getting eyes from the team.
Getting pity looks, It’s what I didn't want. The unwanted attention followed us through the building as we walked through to the parking lot. Word traveled and we had people feeling bad for us everywhere.
When we sat in the car we didn't speak. Silence coated the both of us, we just needed time. The darkness from outside made the both of us feel alone.
Going into the empty house, no laughter, no cartoons in the background. I glanced at the coffee table seeing the drawing he made while he was waiting for me to take him to school.
Aaron and I looked into his bedroom seeing his toys neatly stored away like he taught him. The made bed that I showed him how to do because he never listened to Aaron. I thought back to that moment and it made me smile.
I tugged on Aaron's arm bringing him to bed. We laid down and I pulled him close to me. I was hopping any second I would hear the patter on the floor as Jack ran into the room but... nothing.
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Wildest Notes Chapter 3
We’re getting a little into Cora’s backstory in this chapter and it’s gonna be dark. I know this is supposed to be a cute story. But we’re here for back stories and this one I’ve been working on for a few days instead of writing a final paper.
Genius I know!
Also if you got access to a piano or a piano app. It’s gonna make sense soon.
Also also. We gotta move this story along because I know y’all want some adorable fluff for them.
C’mon you stupid weed! JUST! GET! OUT! OF! THE! GROUND! Yanking the weed out of the ground as I tossed it across the yard! Got you ya beast! My goodness that was a big weed that did not want to get out! My eyes drifted down to my left ankle to where the scar was almost gone all these years later. Should probably go check on Angus and make sure he isn’t going through the pantry.
I stood up as I checked on Angus who was passed out underneath the branches of the white weeping cherry tree. The best thing about getting a big dog? It just loves to sleep around and be lazy which is absolutely perfect.
When I was about to sit back down in the dirt to try to get back to gardening. But the phone began ringing as I got up from my crouching stance to walk inside my home. Angus popped up from the ground to trot his way inside the house with me, over to the fluffy rug in the living room and plop on the floor. Join him as I sat down against the wall then picked up the phone.
“I’m assuming you adored the Elvis Presley China?” Mama Seymour!
“They look fantastic on the shelf Mama. So I’m assuming you sent them that this is the end?”
“Yup. One more kid was about to be sent off to their new home, and I’m off to Hawaii!!” She’s been waiting for this trip about...her entire life? She had this trip planned since I can remember, some big plan to visit all the hot spots Elvis lived in and went to.
“About time you went because if I had to sit through another Hawaiian/Elvis themed party I think I would’ve gone crazy.”
“You enjoyed those parties and you know it!”
“YOU PLAYED BEACH BOY BLUES FOR HOURS! YOU WORE DOWN YOUR BLUE HAWAII RECORD SO BADLY IT WOULDN’T PLAY!” She knows I’m joking. Partially. I kid you not that freakin’ record was destroyed after that party she threw for all of us.
“Ya know you could just send me back those beautiful pieces of China.” Funny real funny. The bottom of my overalls began showing again as I tried to fix my pants again.
“You’re a lot more quiet than usual.” She pointed out as I began staring at the windows in front of me.
“Sorry you caught me right in the middle of my gardening.”
“You sure? Ya know if you ever need a break please call me from my cell and I’ll drag you to Hawaii. Listen I gotta run because the parents are here for the last one! Goodbye Cora!”
“Bye..” Before I could finish saying bye she hung up her phone. Placing the phone back on the box as Angus was sitting right in front of me with his rope in his mouth. Guess that’s the cue for his walk, and the seed pods are being put on hold.
He let go the rope leash from his mouth as I clipped it to his collar. Grabbing my keys from the small end table to open the front door. Is this a coincidence or just the universe being nice for once? Gard was literally placing the ads in my mailbox as I was looking through the screen door.
“Hiya Gard!” He looked from the box as I shot him a smile.
“Mind if I walk with ya? Need a break from the soil and Angus obviously needs the exercise. Lazy bum.” I opened the screen door as he took a step back.
“I kind of a certain way of doing things..”
“Yeah yeah yeah. And the moon is made out of cheese Gard. You gotta spice it up a little in your life and me walking with you for a few blocks won’t kill you.” I opened the screen door to walk past him with Angus sticking right by my side. I heard him sigh as he walked past me to open the gate.
“Thank you!” I smiled as we walked through the gate down the sidewalk. He kept his vision right on the sidewalk as we were in an awkward silence.
“So Gard. How long have you been living here?” I asked him as he kept looking down at the sidewalk.
“My entire life. I live with my brother Calvin.” So a brother...cool.
“The folks? Retired to Florida?”
“My parents are a few hours away.” Probably down in San Francisco.
“East. Cool. Lotta cool places out East.” East where? Wait who am I pry?
“What about you?”
“Ummm my father passed away a few months ago in San Diego. Moved here for the job obviously.” Angus went to pop a squat as Gard went up to the next house to drop off the mail. When he came back Angus was done as we continued on our walk.
His eyes were memorized by the pavement underneath his own two feet. My eyes went from Angus as I tried to figure out what about the sidewalk made it so interesting to stare at it. He noticed as I was tilting my head back and forth with my eyes squinting or wide open.
“What are you doing Cora?”
“Trying to figure out why you’ve been staring at this pavement the entire time we’ve been walking. Am I just not getting it?” I asked him as he stopped to face me.
“Are you making fun of me?”
“No. No honestly I’m not.” I crossed my heart as I formed a tiny little smile in the corner of his mouth.
“AH! I saw that Gard! So tell me what exactly do you think about while walking around the neighborhood? Sports? Kind of surprised that I’m not seeing headphones in.”
“Usually I’m so hypnotized by the mail or the sidewalk I don’t really think about it much. I’m not a big sports person and listening to music is definitely not allowed. So..I look at the sidewalk. It becomes..like a kaleidoscope. You turn and look at it differently, it can be anything you want.” I stopped walking as he reached into his bag and stuffed one of the mail boxes.
“Like what?” He closed the mailbox and went onto the next one.
“Just a different world.” More short answers. Ya know. Mama Seymour always told us that no matter how hard and long a man tries to become an island. He will never become one.
“Can I do one?”
“Do one what?”
“Deliver the mail? C’mon just one! The world isn’t going to blow up if I put a few pieces of paper into a mailbox.” He looked so damn annoyed at me. Gard looked up and down the street then reached into his bag and gave me a tiny stack of envelopes. Gard pointed to the box as I handed him the leash to Angus. Opening the mailbox to place the envelopes inside then closing the box.
“Gard I feel so changed. I can feel the rush!” Turning around as he approached me with Angus’ leash held up.
“My job is important, you know. People communicate because of me.” If this was about eighty years ago sure.
“Used to. Well unless you’re an old lady or nostalgic young adults who like getting fun things in the mail because they’re bored.” I laughed as he began walking away.
“Oh c’mon Gard it’s a joke! You should get yourself loose every once in a while. It’s good for the soul.” I caught up with him as he looked down at the pavement.
“If anyone asks, you’re my supervisor!”
“Well then as your supervisor your stance sometimes when delivering the mail is unhealthy for your back. Not to mention your hat isn’t straight.” Gard stopped dead in his tracks and was beginning to panic.
“Gard I’m just messin’. Wait hold on.” I tossed the lead down (I know Angus ain’t goin anywhere. He’s too old for that.) I reached up to fix his hat to make sure it was even. Gard was turning into a nervous mess as I finished fixing his hat. Once finished we looked at each other for a minute as he was a complete nervous wreck. Turning back towards the pavement with his head hung down again.
“Hey hey hey! You gotta be showing me the neighborhood! Who lives in that house?” I pointed at the house that had the really big red ford that had elevated tires. Ya know. A small penis kind of guy truck.
“Mr. Stotch. Owns the deli store in town and is a big American activist.” Now that I’m noticing it is the amount of American flags around the house and so much military propaganda!
“And that house?” Pointing to the house with the overgrown grass in the yard.
“Mrs. Sancton. Works as a night guard at a prison.” My eyes widened as I looked over at him.
“Wow. Thought this was your average neighborhood. You’ve got some dude who worships guns and just across the street is someone who guards cons. What a strange world.” I could tell Gardner was completely out of his comfort zone. Oh my god I can tell he’s just wanting to make a run for the hills with no looking back. So far he’s the only person that is relatively my age group so if this is how I have to make friends then I’m fine with it. But I do have to get back soon and take a nap then get ready for work.
“I can tell that you’re completely comfortable around me. I’m gonna get going’ and take a nap before work. Say bye Angus.” We stopped walking as Angus jumped up on Gard and over towered him. Angus licked his face to then stand back on his four legs.
“See ya tomorrow Mr. Mailman!” I waved as Angus and I began walking off.
A clash of thunder roared through the cave causing it to shake a little due to the fact that it was an unsturdy cave. The only place I could hide when he would drag me there was the outside of the hole.
It was either freezing or melting all the time, the cave with nothing comfortable in between. There’s always metal buckets in the cave catching all the water..each drop in the bucket played a different tone. It turned into the only comfort as father would be in the hole for hours to even some days.
He came out of the hole to drag me out of the cave to drag me to some sort of cheap food place for him to recover. I was always told he was making us money so that one day he would be able to move away..
But even I could see through his false promise..
One day we went to the cave and I was told to sit in the hole with my father. Said me being out in the hallway would be dangerous as if someone would kidnap me. But I wasn’t near my buckets to create the wave of peace over the sounds of horror coming from the different holes.
Some sounded like they were wrestling, screaming, the sound of glass breaking, and then it ended with a loud bang. The bang would sometimes ring out
“Come here you little sack of shit.” He came out screaming as I looked up from the ground. He yanked me into the room with a fistful of my hair.
“Please daddy no! No!”
“You piece of garbage!” Being dragged through the cave and into the hole...the dark pit..no. no no no..
My body felt like it dropped out of the sky as I felt my hand smack against the bed stand which woke me up. I gripped the bed sheets as tight as I could, bringing it up close to me for me to start trying to calm down. My right hand gripped my shoulder as I took a deep breath. It’s okay..it’s okay..it was a long time ago..it’s just fine Cora.
I crawled out of bed to see that it was pretty late in the morning and I have to get started on pulling the weeds and getting the front of the house put together before it supposedly rains tomorrow. Trying to make sure the plants get some good fresh rain so their roots can grow into the soil.
Changing into my overalls and tossing my hair up in an extremely lazy braid. Walking into the kitchen as I grabbed an apple to quickly chow down on it before starting the lawn work. Stopping in front of the piano as I looked down at the keys..I think..I think I need to play a little before doing some manual labor.
Opening the window of the music room as I could see the sun was hidden from the amount of clouds that were beginning to approach. Guess no manual labor today for me. AS soon as I walked away from the window the rain began to pour down. Yup. No manual labor.
Kneeling down in front of the shelving where a I had peach crates filled with all my piano music and sheets. it's been awhile since I’ve played some Nocturnes. No actually we need something a little more jolly this morning to help me get the right push to start the morning.
Well forget the nocturne because I’ve found the winner! Pulling out one old one I haven’t played in a while as I sat down on the bunch then cracked my fingers and warmed up my wrist. Today is a little Chopin and it’s Raindrop Prelude. Taking in a deep breath to then slowly release it as I started to play.
Mama Seymour taught me everything I needed to know on the piano. The chords, keys, which pedal went with each type of song. She always talked about how playing the piano is the only true form of expression because it can never be misinterpreted like paintings. Though I know that people try to take apart songs all the time because we always wanna know the truth behind the notes. She might have a few wires loose but I owe that woman almost everything in my life.
The world seemed to always just kind of fly off whenever I sit in front of the keys. My body now fully relaxed as I was reaching over halfway of the song when I heard the gate opening. I got the feeling I really made him uncomfortable and out of his mind yesterday, So me staying inside today may be in his best interest.
I kept going with my foot pushing down on the far right pedal to allow the song to echo throughout the entire house. Angus came walking into the room and laid down right next to the piano as he fell right back asleep.
The last chord echoed through the house as I turned myself around on the bench to step over Angus. Should probably see what bills or junk mail I got from Gard. When I opened the door Gard was standing under the porch from the rain.
“Gard? What are you doing?” I asked him as it was pouring.
“I’m sorry. I heard you playing and I wanted to stay till the end.” He was completely soaked from head to toe as I opened the door for him to come in.
“I should get back to work.” He was about to walk off but I cleared my throat.
“If you keep walking nonstop you’re gonna get sick.”
“You actually don’t get sick from walking in the rain, Cora. Besides..rain or shine...” He stopped talking due to the face I had my eyebrow raised at him. I moved out of the way as he came inside of the house.
“Let me get you a towel Gard.” I walked into the bathroom as I came back out with a fluffy towel. Gard dropped his bag and wrapped the towel around himself.
“Take off your shoes and socks so they can dry. Nothing is worse than wet feet in wet shoes.” I pointed over to the floor. He placed his mail bag next to the door then sat down to take off his shoes.
Gard finished taking off his shoes and I reached out for his wet socks. Relax when you live with about ten to twenty kids in your life you kind of get used to the smell of socks and other pieces of clothing.
“I’ll throw them in the dryer. Feel free to go into the pantry.”
Why is she so nice? What person is this nice to their mail carrier? Does she like me? I think I’m starting to like her. She’s this sweet fun woman who's now drying my socks off from the rain. Should probably go thank her for being so nice to me.
Angus walked over to be then sat between my legs as he was waiting for me to scratch behind his ears. As I got started he had his tongue sticking out and his eyes shut tight enjoying the scratches. Till he got tired and fell asleep right in the hall.
I got up from the floor as I walked into the room where she was playing the piano to look around a little. It was a piano that was sort of red and had music sheets all over the place. There were little cubbies that had music books, sheets, and folders strung all over the place. On the other side of the wall was piles of peach crates filled with records. We're talking Elton John, Puccini, Queen, Bowie, Glenn Miller, The Drifters, and all kinds of different records. Like there was no specific pattern or anything in them.
“You can look at them. They’re not going to bite.” She told me as she sat down in front of one of the crates. Sitting back down next to her as I was looking into one of the crates.
“Do you have a favorite artist?” I asked Cora as she watched me going through her records.
“Not say I have a select favorite. For rock I’d say Queen. For Disco obviously Earth, Wind and Fire. Dean Martin is always good and of course Benny Goodman also is fantastic. But of course The Temptations are amazing. I could go on for hours about it Gard. It’s just depending on my mood.” I nodded as I placed the peach crate back into the cubby as she got up towards the piano.
“But I’d rather play in all honesty.” Cora ran her light and ran across the piano keys as I got up to stand next to her.
“What was the one you were playing when I delivered your mail?”
“Raindrop Prelude by Chopin. But it’s not my favorite to be honest with you Gard. If you’d like I can play something for ya.” She masked me as I sat down on the bench. I’m not a huge music person in any form of way. But I find listening to her playing the piano relaxing and something I would enjoy listening to time and time again. Even taking a few minutes out of the route to listen to every other day or so.
“It’s Nocturno No2 op 62. It was my first piece I did for a solo concert in college but it’s just so beautiful. Scootch.” She sat down next to me as she was going through her folders of music.
“You’re gonna have to show me your hobbies and house eventually. Doesn’t make much sense if you’re constantly coming over and I know almost nothing about your hobbies.” She stated as my eyes widened a little bit. She placed the music on her stand as I tried to get a sense of what was written on it.
Would she be interested in my stamps? What person would enjoy someone talking about their stamps? Any normal person would be bored out of their minds with someone's stamp. But..if she’s inviting me into her room, offering food to me and drying my own socks from the rain. This isn’t a normal situation...and I have no idea what I’m doing.
Her playing was more beautiful than when she was sitting before me. She looked at the keys and how I looked at the sidewalk. Completely hypnotized in playing and in her own world. It was beautiful and so peaceful. My eyes went from her fingers to watch how lightly she played the keys to her body sort of swaying with her own beat to the music. She stopped playing as she looked over to the window where two birds were sitting on the window chirping to one another.
“Guess I’m freakin Cinderella now Gard.” Laughing a little as we looked at each other for a brief moment. I should get going anyhow. I know I’m already late and being here for a few minutes is now putting me way behind.
“I should umm..get going and finish my route.” I told Cora for her smile to sort of wither away till she nodded.
“Yeah totally. You’re at work and I shouldn’t have basically thrown myself at you. Give me a second to grab your socks.” Cora popped off the bench to speed walk down the stairs. I placed the towel on the ground as she came back up with my somewhat dryer socks.
Slipping on my socks and shoes to then grab my mailbag from the floor. Opening the door and standing on her porch as the rain was beginning to slow down a little. When I was about to take a step off the porch, Angus was whimpering behind me.
“You don’t have to say bye to me. But you know Angus needs a goodbye.” The slobbering dog was standing right next to her as I opened the screen to scratch the top of Angus head. Her hand had an apple for her to wait for me to take it.
“Thank you Cora. I’ll see you tomorrow?” I asked her as she smiled again..it’s..it’s such a pretty smile. I turned around to start walking.
“Your place?” Halting as I turned around.
“Ummm. I would...umm.”
“It’s alright. My door is always open Gard. See ya later Mr. Mailman!” She waved as her and Angus shut the door.
I wanna see her again tomorrow...maybe the next day?
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Summary: Somehow, Phil always knows when Dan's feeling down, and he always knows what to say to make Dan feel better.
Taglist: I don’t currently have one for this fandom, this is my first Phanfic ^^ I hope you enjoy
Somehow, he always knew.
Whenever Dan was having a bad day—maybe he’d dropped his ice cream, or maybe he was having his fifth existential crisis this month—Phil sent a text. It was never anything elaborate or too long-winded, it was something simple like, “I miss you <3,” or, “I heard a song that made me think of you and I smiled.” Whatever it ended up being, it always managed to turn Dan’s day around.
But Phil had taken a trip to the next city over, without Dan. It had only been two days so far, but Dan was already starting to feel the effects.
Dan had been lying on his bed, face buried in his pillow, for about 20 minutes now. Every three or so minutes, he’d check his phone, perking up hopefully, only to see that he hadn’t gotten a text from Phil, at which point he’d deflate again.
Phil had always been there when Dan needed him, he thought, unable to fight off a hint of bitterness. Part of him still resented Phil for leaving him and Dan hated that part of himself. It wasn’t Phil’s job to make Dan feel better; what was he, a child? Dan had never properly learned how to cheer himself up. Whatever he tried never worked.
Dan groaned, the sound muffled by his pillow, and rolled over onto his back with a sigh. His eyes sightlessly traced the little bumps on the ceiling, mind somewhere else. He pondered calling Phil for a moment, but no. That would be far too disruptive; what if Phil was doing something important that required concentration and Dan distracted him?
Instead, he dragged himself out of bed, trudging into the bathroom. He blinked blearily at himself in the mirror, running a hand through his hobbit hair, which was still messy from last night’s sleep, trying to force his hair into a little more order.
The bags under his eyes were dark today, and Dan thought absentmindedly that if Phil had been there, he probably would’ve slept better last night. As it was, last night he’d tossed and turned for hours.
On the bright side, Phil couldn’t eat cereal that wasn’t for him to eat, Dan thought dully as he poured himself a bowl. Maybe he should be enjoying having the place to himself, but somehow he isn’t having fun as he eats his slightly mushy cereal for brunch.
Dan left the bowl in the sink, plopping himself lazily down on the sofa. Fumbling for the remote, he turned on the TV, resigning himself to watching whatever was on. After a few minutes, his eyes glazed over as he stopped listening.
An engine stopped outside. Pausing the TV, Dan peeked out the blinds as the mailman—in this case, a woman, so maybe mailperson?—dropped an envelope into the mailbox. He waited the normal minute-and-a-half duration for the truck to drive away before bolting to the mailbox.
Dan hadn’t been corresponding with anyone via letters recently, so it was probably just the standard spam from the corporate entities that seemed to target him and Phil, but he never liked staying outside for very long. It wasn’t a very sunny day—in fact, it was gray today, clouds obscuring the sun—but the sentiment still stood, so as soon as he’d unlocked the mailbox and grabbed the envelope, he hurried back inside.
Dan slammed the wooden front door shut, standing with his back to said door as he faced his living room. Panting slightly, he stared down at the envelope in his hand as though he thought it would come to life and start trying to bite him. He shook his head—that was as unlikely to happen as it was for Phil’s potted plants to uproot themselves and do a little dance—forcing his other hand to move the distance necessary to rip open the envelope.
The way Dan unfolded the piece of paper inside the envelope was a sharp contrast with the way he’d opened the letter. Dan always opened envelopes with force, not bothering with any sort of neatness; unlike Phil, who was one of those people who needed to painstakingly peel open the flap. His hands seemed to be shaking as he read the first words printed on the page in front of him in a handwriting that was very, very familiar to him.
My darling Dan, the letter began in a slightly loopy, messy font that Dan instantly recognized as Phil’s. How are you? I’m sure you must be worrying about me. While the thought is very flattering, we are not conjoined, despite the baking video we made for Halloween in 2017, and Dan Howell should get himself a life that doesn’t involve spending ALL of his time with me. (I know, I know, hypocritical, right?)
Dan scoffed, migrating over to the sofa to read the rest of the letter.
(To be honest, he was relieved to hear from Phil. It wasn’t as though it had been very long since Phil had left, and Phil wasn’t bad at remembering to contact Dan, per se, but a part of Dan always carried the irrational fear that something bad had, or would, happen to Phil.)
Now you’re wondering why I sent you a letter, which is perfectly reasonable, as I don’t send many these days. I don’t really have a reason to. But, truth be told, I’ve always wanted to send one like this. I romanticize letters in my head, and, well, who better to be romantic with than you?
So I wrote this letter, assuming that you’d start pacing and/or passive-aggressively trying to suffocate yourself with a pillow if I left for longer than one day. While we’ve always been satisfied with texting, I feel like letters hold a bigger part of a person than a text. They’re more personal. Like, I held this letter and I wrote on it in my own handwriting, and I like you enough to write more than a paragraph. I wanted to let you know I was thinking about you. And letters are sort of a place for you to ramble about things you think the other person would want to hear about.
Letters are also a physical thing. There’s something cool about the way you can hold them in your hand. Sure, you could always send an email, and the other person could print it out, but then you wouldn’t have their handwriting, would you?
Handwriting tells a lot about a person. If it’s neat, then they’re methodical and think things through. If it’s big, then they have a lot of self-confidence, or at least want to make it look like they do.
Dan supposed that was true. Phil’s handwriting tended to be large, which represented the pure amount of energy he always had (at least around Dan).
Your handwriting is always small and messy, the opposite of the two examples I gave. I think you rush because you’re a procrastinator, and in your avoidance of doing things, it gives you less time to actually do the things you want to do because you waited so long.
Sometimes Dan wasn’t sure how beneficial it was for him and Phil to know literally everything about one another, but he had to admit that what Phil had said in the letter was true.
Dan scanned the letter. It seemed like the rest of the letter was just Phil rambling about a dog he’d seen from the window of the room where he was staying, and Dan smiled, imagining Phil with his face pressed to the window to stare out at the dog.
At the bottom, it was signed, Missing you too, Phil, but contrary to the signature, in smaller text it then read, P.S. Dan, I want a dog :/ I would name it Meatball, and then, P.P.S. Is having a great name for a dog enough justification to get a dog?
Dan sighed, though not unhappily, stretching as he stood. As usual, Phil had improved his day significantly, although that didn't stop Dan from missing him, just a little bit.
Dan had thought the letter would be a one-time occurrence, but the next day, another envelope was in his mailbox. In this letter, Phil attempted some poetry (it went very badly, but Dan still appreciated it) and scribbled in the margin the lyrics to a song he'd had stuck in his head while writing (Toxic by Britney Spears, of course).
Every day, Phil sent Dan a letter in the mail, and after a week, Dan now had a small pile accumulating on the table next to their bed. Each one contained words of reassurance and confidence that Dan could seize the day, and each time Dan opened an envelope, his heart swelled. He really didn't deserve someone like Phil, who, while not having his life together much more than Dan, seemed happier in his decisions and in himself than Dan felt.
He couldn't remember how long Phil had said the little trip was going to be, and so couldn't estimate the number of letters he'd be receiving, but on the eighth day, no letter came. Despite how much Phil had reminded him not to jump to the worst possible conclusion, Dan assumed Phil had stopped sending letters and that he'd gotten too busy for Dan anymore.
Dan had been lying in bed for an hour when he heard someone fumbling with the doorknob on the front door. Heart pounding, he glanced at the time (9:02). He crept to the end of the hallway, watching the door with a mix of trepidation and adrenaline.
Dan could hear the jingle of keys as the person on the other side of the door failed to unlock it several times. He realized that his palms were sweaty as he peered around the corner at the door. Anyone who failed to open the door that many times was either breaking in, or…
A muffled yet triumphant “Aha!” came from the other side of the door, becoming clearer as the door actually opened. Dan blinked what must’ve been ten times, so it couldn’t have been a hallucination conjured by his sleep-deprived brain. It was really Phil.
Phil glanced up, catching sight of Dan watching and breaking into a grin. Dan barreled into Phil’s arms, very nearly knocking Phil over as he caught Dan in an embrace.
Dan buried his face in Phil’s hair, inhaling the familiar scent, that pleasant smell of Phil’s shampoo currently mixed with the smell of wherever he’d been staying. “I missed you,” he said softly.
“You got my letters, right?” asked Phil, arms wrapped almost as tightly around Dan as Dan’s were wrapped around him.
“Yeah.” Dan pulled back after a moment to gaze into Phil’s “blue-green-yellow” eyes, one hand on Phil’s cheek. Phil’s eyes were filled with warmth, and his smile, that beautiful smile, was almost too much for Dan to handle in his tired state, but he narrowly prevented himself from crying.
“Why don’t we get out of the doorway?” Phil suggested, gently removing Dan’s hand from his face.
“Oh, yeah.” Dan stepped back to allow Phil room to enter with the luggage, closing the door behind him like a gentleman.
“How are you?” Phil asked. “Your eye bags look dark.” He raised an eyebrow at Dan, who felt sheepish and rushed to explain himself.
“I know you said to get to bed early because you know that I don’t sleep much unless I’m forced to, and I did!” justified Dan. “But… I couldn’t sleep much without you. It gets cold at night.” He pouted slightly, arms crossed, avoiding Phil’s eyes.
Phil looked at Dan, the look in his eyes soft. “You get off the hook this time,” he sighed, but he still had a small smile. “Come here.” He swept Dan into his arms again. While Phil had been the one away from home, and Dan had never left, Dan hadn’t felt as at home without Phil as he did now, enveloped in Phil’s embrace.
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Hiya! As part of my 20th Anniversary Year, I’ll be choosing a “Marc With a C Song Of The Week” and telling you way, way too much about it. Pretty much all of them appear on the Maybe It’ll Be Good: The Best Of Marc With a C 3-LP box set (available here: https://marcwithac.bandcamp.com/album/maybe-itll-be-good-the-best-of-marc-with-a-c). This one does not appear on it!
Today, we’ll talk about "The Right To Bear Arms"!
In a catalog full of stuff that's controversial/touchy to *someone*, I don't think I'm out of line to say this is practically the most controversial song on any of my records overall - barring some very early exceptions. I thought it was very clearly/obviously part of the "Bootwater Suite", and as that is more of an impressionistic five-song stretch about small town secrets, I (incorrectly) assumed that after the 20 minutes of similar material that precedes it on side two of Exactly Where I Am, it'd be BEYOND obvious that I was not the narrator.
You know how in recent years I have straight up stopped shows mid-song to remind you "hey, this isn't from my perspective, this is a character study, this is fiction, this is not projection, etc"? The amount of angry/confused mail I got about this song, the amount of people who gave me the stink-eye when I'd play it live without explanation... I started "cracking" the veneer/lifting the veil between the persona of Marc With a C (a creation) from the actual feelings, wants, past, present, and intended actions of Marc Sirdoreus: Private Citizen... mostly because of the reaction to this song. I didn't intend to start doing that until my book came out, until The Obscurity Show happened, and until this 2020 method of telling you everything (everything that I'm *gonna* tell you, at least).
This song changed all that. One or two people not getting it is okay. Five or six people being unsettled is... well, it isn't comfortable subject matter, so that's expected. Nearly everyone who has ever spoken to me about the song had a very strong reaction against it. I even tried it out at a full-on country show (since I felt that this song was in the decades-long tradition of country murder ballads) as an opening act, and if you can believe it, THIS is the song where THAT crowd (who didn't know me at all) turned.
I only completely dropped it from shows after I pulled *all* songs referencing gun violence from shows after an obvious incident in Florida. It's one of the few songs that I have little intention of ever playing live again... that I also happen to like/love, and I wish it weren't misunderstood, but I get how it comes off. You come to a Marc With a C show expecting fun things, and nine times out of ten, you've met my wife at the merch booth. You saw that she is bubbly and kind and sweet, and then you heard me sing an eight minute song with the hookline of "I'm gonna shoot that girl of mine right between the eyes", and it was in a club, and you probably couldn't make out all of the words... I don't blame every last one of you that walked up to Nicole and mouthed "ARE YOU OKAY? DO YOU NEED HELP?". I'd hope that if she did something similar in one of her aerial acts, you'd do the same for me, I guess! (Now, I don't know that this actually ever happened, but with the amount of pictures I've received of Nicole from fans who were watching her watch *me* from the merch booth, I cannot imagine that it didn't go down at least once.)
But I'm gonna put this story in writing forever and ever, so that if it is ever misunderstood again, I've done my due diligence in making sure the origin of the song and my intentions with it are always available. I've even done this in my book, and I'll put in an excerpt here, to save myself a bit of typing, to give you a preview of the book for no money at all, and to maybe show just how long I've been trying to set the record straight on this. It'll never change that I apparently got into the attitude/psyche of the protagonist/antagonist *very believably* in the song, and that'll always probably make it unsettling to someone.
I've never run from unsettling endings on my records. Because... you'll know more about this later, but some of these things *were cliffhangers on purpose*. Something to make you crave the next installment, to guess where I could possibly take things next. And for another reason that I simply refuse to tell you right now. I've held onto the secret for well over a decade, and I'm not about to spoil it early. I'm writing this on 9/13/20, I told *the first person ever* about the aforementioned secret I'm referring to nearly the full extent of said secret and all of the circumstances two days ago, and... this person is close enough that if *anyone* was gonna figure it out, it was them, and they hadn't the foggiest clue. You could practically hear their jaw shatter like glass when it metaphorically hit the floor. And that's just the first reaction. When there is a different angle for you to see this song from, you may feel differently about it. Today will probably not be that day.
Here's what I wrote about the origin of the song in my book, "Maybe It'll Be Good: My Life As Marc With a C", and it's from the unedited manuscript because that's what I have handy:
"One night, back in Lake County, Florida, sometime around the beginning of the new millennium, I was working the graveyard shift in a convenience store just around the corner from my house. I didn't like the job at all, but as it was basically a small truck stop, there were a lot of transient folks making their way in and out at all hours, so you never really had the chance to get bored.
On this particular evening, a pickup truck was in the parking lot and hasn't budged for a number of hours. Now, this wasn't too out of the ordinary, as OTR truckers slept in our parking lot all of the time. The odd part was that there was a man in the driver's seat who was wide awake and intently staring at the highway in front of him. While I was outside, sweeping and smoking, I pushed my broom up towards his open window, as the following exchange took place:
ME: Hi there. Everything okay?
HIM: Oh, it's gonna be okay. When she gets off work.
He then reached over the passengers seat, lifted a towel and exposed a gun to me. He followed it up with one the most chilling grins I've ever seen. The sort of smile that says "the world will see my actions as wrong, but my God will reward me for doing the right thing". It's still hard to explain years later, because I was so terrified that all of my memories go a little bit fuzzy at this point.
I do remember sweeping my way back to the front door and trying to covertly call the police. It wasn't hard to do because the city hall was literally next door - one of the positive aspects of small town life. Cops filled the parking lot, and he sped off into the night.
These police officers came into the store all of the time on the overnights, partially to check on our safety, partially for the free coffee. (Remember, this was a store in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by very few residences. If something had happened to me, there was a good chance I wouldn't be found for hours.)
Usually, these folks of the badge-wearing persuasion would chew the fat with me about their adventures as long as it was a case that they could speak about. But for some reason, they would always change the subject when I'd bring this event up. No one spoke of it again, and I never saw the man with the gun again.
Years later, I'd try to make sense of the situation in a sort of therapeutic "make a song out of what you know" way, trying to connect the dots to try and reach peace with what seemed to be a brush with the ugliest aspects of humanity. The truth is that I still don't know the outcome, and that it still chills every cell in my body to recall those events."
And there you have it. I still think of this situation almost daily, and I eventually wrote this song to try to invent a possible outcome for my own mental closure. You have the open-ended conclusion of noises of a car speeding off into the night, insinuating that one of the three parties in the song managed to escape - but who?
There's gonna be way more on this on an upcoming episode of The Evolution Of Marc With a C: including the story of someone who covers the song regularly, gets requested to play it constantly, what area of the world *liked* it, and the demographics that seem to request it from them the most. I haven't heard that episode yet because I do not run the podcast, I just show up to talk, but I'm sure that I was audibly surprised by this information. Sometimes it's the singer and not the song? And sometimes it's not the time or place? Or maybe the song is so out of character that it never, ever should have been released under the name Marc With a C to begin with?
I don't know. Because I think it is effective, has a nice melody, is believable, the chorus has a "hey hey hey" singalong part, it's fun to play (The Marc With a C Trio especially liked playing it, but we were soon pretty nervous to put it on setlists after a few side-eye reactions at shows about it. Even recorded a version for the CARK cassette, and I think I remember the performance being good, but my distortion pedal wasn't set right, so the powerful parts don't ever really "kick", and I think I never even bothered to mix that version for this reason. Maybe someday?) - I think it's a cool song, and songs don't have to be true, plus I think that if you really sat down and dissected the lyrics of most everyday songs one hears over the loudspeakers when shopping? You'd probably be just as disturbed. Steely Dan is a good example.
This is the rare song I (almost have nearly) sworn off because it bothers some people. Any other I've ever done this with was because something in it bothered *me* - maybe I knew the situation was so dated that it'd never make sense to be in a live show again, or maybe we changed our attitudes about language and I'd now sound terribly unenlightened/simply crummy if I sang it, or maybe I just plain don't like it. Oh, and then there's a few that are such voice-shredders for me that I try to avoid them when I can. You'd be surprised how many of your favorites fit into the latter category. The only other that really comes to mind that I like to do, but don't for similar reasons anymore is "A Shot At Love" - but that's not really the same thing. That one was penned by Guy Larmay and Jim Myers on the whole, and my contribution was mostly tonal and arrangement-based, with the only actual "hummable" part I wrote was the middle break, and I think I might've had something to do with the responding harmonized "woah-oh" in the hook. (Time dulls the specifics for me, sometimes.)
Intriguingly, this song was also a big hangup on getting the album Exactly Where I Am pressed on vinyl. I've hinted at that before. This song ended up being shortened for the vinyl edition to please the pressing plant (long story). I've never really forgiven them for making me compromise the album so far along into the process, but I'm also pretty sure that very few people noticed the changes. It also had to be completely remastered for vinyl at the last possible second - making Exactly Where I Am pretty much the sole canonical record of mine where I actually prefer the digital version to the one on vinyl. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't think I'll allow another vinyl pressing of Exactly Where I Am until the originally intended master can be used, and as it'll likely be a (technically based) fight with any pressing plant to get them to do it (mostly because they want to spread it over two LPs, which... ugh, it just isn't necessary, and no one will take me seriously when I explain that I completely understand their reservations, but the album will function properly, and I was thinking about that wayyyy ahead of time with sequencing - the outro of side two may be "overlong", but the only place where it'd impact the record is... the outro, the rainstorm part, and that's all. I really wasn't concerned about that part playing a bit off center or noisily) , I don't have the patience for that stuff anymore, so I'd probably just need to hand it all to a label and let them handle it for me. It's been out of print/sold out on vinyl since around 2017, and I don't anticipate that changing in the near future, but I'm open to being surprised.
Anyways, here's a whole lot of words about a long song (for me) that a lot of my listeners really don't seem to like. I thought I might talk about my feelings about guns in general here, but I have decided that I've not only personally said all that I feel the need to about them by now, and I also don't want to detract from the above points, how the song came to be, and that while I'm not crazy about the most common reaction to the song? I totally get it. I'm not very apologetic about it, but I can see it from most angles. Doesn't thrill me that it could've bothered some folks, of course.
Proof positive that I write fearlessly, most times, but your reception of whatever I choose to put out *does* matter to me on an intense level. <3
What do you think? Is it one of your faves? Are you firmly in the "dude, this song? just... no" category? Anything else you’d like to know about it? (I'd ask if there's a song you'd like me to write about, but now I know what the remaining ones will be!)
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you’re back // sp
requested by anonymous: can i request one where you are Fangs’ childhood best friend but moved away in middle school. and when you can back you realized that Fangs was now part of the South side serpents. so, to hang with him, you would have to hang with all of them which fangs didn’t particularly like because he doesn’t want you to get wrapped up in their serpent business. however, you don’t listen and end up falling for sweet pea. (but in the end fangs supports you two being together)
You and Fangs met while you walked to Pop’s, which was right down the street from your house, to get you a milkshake. Your mother had given you some money to get one as a reward for your good grades that year. As you walked, you noticed the boy walking with his head down. Child you always hated seeing other kids upset so you walked over to him to make sure he was okay. You ended up using the money to buy him a milkshake instead of yourself. When you came home empty handed your mom asked what happened and you told her you bought one for someone who needed to be cheered up. He was your best friend ever since. And moving away from him was probably the most traumatic thing that had ever happened to you, or so your dramatic twelve year old mind thought.
“We’re what?” you asked not believing a word that just came out of your dad’s mouth.
“We’re moving back to Riverdale, sweetheart. I thought you would be happy about that considering you made sure to tell us everyday how much you hated it here.” your dad joked.
“Well, i didn’t think it would get me anywhere.” you said surprised.
“We’re not moving until the end of summer. It gives your mother and i time to close a deal on a house. We’ll be moved in right before school starts.” you dad explained. You nodded trying to contain your excitement to move back to Riverdale as you walked upstairs to your room.
About a month and a half later, you were packing up everything in your room to put into a moving truck that would be sent to your new house in Riverdale. As you packed everything away, you wondered if anyone was going to recognize you. You wondered if the same people you were friends with would jump at the chance to befriend you again. All of these scenarios and questions played through your head the entire time, building up the anxious feeling you didn’t think you’d ever have going back to such a familiar place. You hoped everything went well. Transferring in the middle of High School was hard considering everyone already had their friend groups all sorted out. You were diving in as the new girl despite having lived there before.
“Good luck, dear. I’m sure once everyone realizes who you are it’ll be fine.” your mom assured.
‘I hope they remember me.” you sighed. You grabbed your bag and headed out of the house to your car, heading straight for Riverdale High.
When you arrived, you went to the office to get your schedule and locker assignments. Everyone else got theirs in the mail and kept their old locker assignments from Freshman year, so thankfully it wasn’t a long wait. The secretary smiled at you and handed you everything you’d need and you set out to wander through the hallways by yourself, trying to keep your head down as to not gain attention from everyone.
You managed to get to your locker without anyone saying anything to you. You decided to put your bag away and head to the lounge, hoping to god you’d see a familiar face when you walked in and that the encounter wouldn’t be awkward.
You took a deep breath before you walked in, spotting literally everyone you used to be friends with, including Fangs, sitting around the lounge. You stood awkwardly in the doorway taking in how much everyone has changed over the last four years.
“Hi, stranger. You must be new. I’m Veronica Lodge.” a dark haired girl introduced as she got up from her spot and walked up to you. You heard a small giggle from behind the girl as Betty Cooper stepped around her and smiled widely at you.
“Betty Cooper. Still keeping up with the ponytail, i see.” you said as she pulled you in for a hug.
“It’s my brand.” she joked.
“Hi, i’m Y/n. Nice to meet you, Veronica.” you introduced when you finally pulled away from Betty. Everyone in the lounge had noticed now and were all slightly shocked to see you standing in the doorway. Fangs was actually in shock and not able to move from his seat until you locked eyes with him.
“You’re back.” he whispered pinching his arm dramatically to make sure he wasn’t dreaming, making you laugh.
You opened your arms wide, “you gonna come hug me or what?” you raised an eyebrow at him. A second later he was rushing over to you, wrapping his arms tightly around your waist and spinning you around like he always did.
Throughout the day, you caught up with quite a few people and of course, rekindled quite a few friendships. By the time school was finally over, you were exhausted. You trudged out the door and to your car when you spotted Fangs straddling a motorcycle in a leather jacket. That’s new. You thought. He turned his head as a taller guy he was talking to nodded your way. You smiled softly and waved at Fangs which he returned only he was waving you over.
“Never pegged you as a leather guy,” you said when you reached him, “or a motorcycle guy, though i guess things change over the span of four years.” you joked. You met eyes with the tall one who pointed you out ot Fangs and smiled at him and whispered a quick hi.
“I guess i should tell you before it gets blown out of proportion.” Fangs said, letting out a sigh and brushing a hand through his hair, “i’m a Serpent.”
“Okay.” you shrugged.
“That’s it?” he asked.
“That’s it,” you chuckled, “you know FP used to babysit me a lot when i was younger and he’s a Serpent. The leader if i remember correctly. I don’t care.”
“Well that was easy. You were shitting bricks trying to figure out how you were going to tell her.” the tall one laughed, “I’m Sweet Pea, Fangs’ best friend.”
“So you’re my replacement.” you raised and eyebrow.
“I wouldn’t say replacement, he’s a filler.” Fangs joked.
“Ouch.” Sweet Pea clutched his chest jokingly while you and Fangs laughed, “We’re having a bonfire in Tent City friday night. You should come.” Sweet Pea offered.
“Mmm i don’t think so.” Fangs answered before you could get a word out, “look, i’m glad you’re cool with me being a Serpent, but i don’t really want you to get tied up in anything.” he explained.
“I get it, Fangs. I won’t come if you don’t want me to.” you answered. You grabbed your phone out of your bag and checked the time, “i gotta get going. Mom and i are going shopping for things for the house so i’ll catch you guys later.” you waved as you walked away heading for your car.
You didn’t want to admit this to Fangs, but him not wanting you around his Serpent friend kind of hurt a little. You did understand where he was coming from with not wanting to get you involved in any of that, but in that moment you knew your friendship with Fangs was going to be limited and conditional and that’s what hurt you the most.
As you sat in the passenger seat listening to your mom talk about what she wanted to do with the house, you tried your best to not let the situation with Fangs put a damper on your mood.
“You should invite Fangs for dinner soon. We miss him almost as much as you did, you know.” your mom said. Fangs was like the son they never had and he looked to them as his parents too. You were so happy that your parents loved your best friend as much as you did.
“Sure mom. I’ll ask him at school tomorrow.”
She pulled into the driveway and you got out, helping her carry everything you guys bought, into the house. Dropping the last bag onto the counter you told her you were going to go for a walk.
As you walked, you found yourself walking down you old street, past Pop’s and right to the house you used to live in. It looked run down and covered in graffiti which made you a little sad to see. You walked up the stairs of the porch and through the front door, looking at everything that was left behind. You wondered if anyone ever bought it after you guys moved away, but judging by the furniture you guys left, you’d guess not.
“y/n, is it?” you jumped when you heard a deep voice behind you. You turned around and saw Sweet Pea standing in the doorway.
“Jesus, how can someone so large sneak up that easily on people!” you exclaimed.
“With lots of practice.” he chuckled, “what’re you doing here?” he asked.
“I was walking and found myself here.” you said looking around the living room, “i used to live here actually.”
“Sorry it looks like a dump now. During the riot, the Ghoulies either trashed or torched everything we had.” Sweet Pea apologized.
“Judging by the snake tattoo on your neck, you’re not a Ghoulie. Don’t apologize for things you didn’t do or had no control over.” you turned and walked up the stairs, wanting to see your old room. You heard Sweet Pea following behind you but didn’t say anything. When you walked through the doorway, you noticed that right by your old bed was the words Serpent Slut in black spray paint. You let out a scoffed laughed as you walked over to the bay window and sat down.
“Serpent Slut, huh? Is that common terminology nowadays?” you asked Sweet Pea who stood leaning against the door frame.
“Up until the Ghoulies disappeared it was, but it's not really a thing anymore.”
“Who are the Ghoulies?” you asked. You have never heard of them before, even when you were living in Riverdale years ago.
“Our rivals. They were behind all of the drugs floating around through the Southside. They got arrested about a year ago because of us and when they got out, they wanted blood. Things got bad around here for a while. You moved back at the right time. Everything’s calmed down a bit.”
“How long have you known Fangs?” you asked.
“Our whole lives.” he answered nonchalantly.
“Why haven’t i met you before then?”
“Fangs never wanted you around us. He wanted nothing more than to protect you from the dark shit that happened in the Southside. Trust me, we knew all about you, but he didn’t want you to get caught up in our shit so he kept everything a secret.”
“Damn, sorry i called you my replacement.” you laughed.
“No worries.” you and Sweet Pea sat in silence in your old room for a bit watching as the sun set slowly. Before it got really dark you told Sweet Pea you better start walking home before you find yourself lost.
“I’ll walk you home.” he offered.
“That’s alright. Thank you though.”
“I wasn’t asking.” he said as he walked ahead of you and out of the house. You rolled your eyes but found a smile creeping on your face as you followed him out. The walk back to your house was filled with more of you and Sweet Pea trying to get to know each other. The two of you clicked instantly, and conversation just kind of came easy with you two. It felt nice to talk to Sweet Pea. he’d answer any questions about the Southside and the Serpents that you knew Fangs would completely ignore or blow over. You could see a lovely friendship blossoming between you and Sweet Pea, maybe even more.
After Sweet Pea had walked you home and made sure you were through the door, he turned around and headed back to Tent City where he was of course bombarded with questions from Fangs who had saw the two of you walking past Pop’s together.
“What did i tell you, Sweet Pea. i don’t want her getting into any of this. Things may be chill now but who the hell knows what’s going to happen next. Why were you even with her?” Fangs ranted.
“I saw her walk into that abandoned house down the street from Pop’s while i was on the way to meet you and Topaz. I followed her in to make sure she wasn’t gonna fall through or some homeless person didn’t attack her. You’re welcome, by the way.”
“That used to be her house.” Fangs informed
“Yeah, i know. She told me.”
“Are you guys friends now or something?” Fangs asked.
“I’d fucking like to be,” Sweet Pea exclaimed, “look i get you want to keep her away from all the bad things that could possibly happen, but you forbidding her and us from even talking to each other or being friends is only going to push her away from you and quite frankly, i don’t want to see either of you hurt like that. She’s kind of upset with you anyway and feels like things with you two are conditional. She just wants her best friend back, Fangs.”
“You like her, don’t you.” Fangs said.
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The Promises I Made (2019 Edition)
For the past thirteen years, I’ve spent every New Year’s Eve compiling a list of fifty promises I intend to keep or fulfill over the next twelve months. The results have been truly amazing, and I have kept some promises I never thought I could. 2019 was… a nightmare that I can barely believe I survived, but I still kept some promises that I honestly did not expect I ever could.
This year, for New Year’s, there will be a new set of promises for to me keep, but here are the old ones, for review!
The Promises I Made (2019 Edition)
1) Be more proactive about tracking and following up with struggling students to decrease the number of students who drop from my class when they realize they cannot pass.
Status: Somewhat broken? I tried really hard to be proactive with my students; however, there were some massive issues outside the classroom this year that made it extremely difficult to keep the focus on the students. When administration drags your attention away from the class, there is not a lot you can do…
2) Find a place to put in volunteer hours because uhhhh like this is actually important to my work evaluation and I definitely need something to write in that section… Yikes, this spring is my last chance to do this!! @_@
Status: Kept. I volunteered with the Utah Shakespeare Festival and it was super fun!
3) Install the fire escape window in the Utah house, no matter how much it might cost, because I can’t get a totally unrelated tenant in that basement without said window…
Status: Somewhat kept. Okay. This one is a LONG story, but to be fair to me, I worked my ASS off to try and make this happen; just every single thing in the world prevented me from completing this promise, up to and including the city telling me I needed a permit AFTER I had already dug a massive hole in the ground for the window…
4) Buy sod to add grass to the front portion of the lawn so that it no longer looks like garbage.
Status: Broken, but I did buy grass seed and put that out there. Unfortunately only some of it sprouted, but there is indeed SOME grass now growing there…
5) Fix the bricks near the windowsills on the Utah house to prevent long-term damage.
Status: Broken. After dealing with the stupid window disaster, I had no time for this at all.
6) Get a watering system for my roses at the Utah house because I think my bro is probably killing them and that’s just not cool.
Status: Broken, see above.
7) Work on the patio at the Utah house before it just flat out falls down.
Status: Somewhat broken. Again, I tried to make progress on this—I called a patio guy to come out and assess how much it would cost to fix the patio—but the price I was quoted was so high that there was nothing I could do at the time.
8) Paint the stairwell so that there’s no chance of anything like lead paint or asbestos being exposed.
Status: Broken. The leftover wallpaper glue continues to confound me…
9) Trim the backyard bushes so the neighbors don’t hate us anymore…
Status: Broken. We trimmed a few bushes and at least got to the trees out front, but definitely a majority were left uncared for.
10) Move into a new house in Texas where I can get real internet, please for the love of god…
Status: Kept. I moved into a very nice house with no scorpions!
11) Save money for my upcoming trip to Japan! 2020 baby!
Status: Uhhh, broken. I’m not sure how I thought I’d be able to move into a new house AND save money for an international trip at the same time…
12) Get my wisdom tooth removed because it’s still there and still killing me, yikessss.
Status: Broken. AUGH. I’m an idiot.
13) Make an appointment with an eye doctor for like the first time in years. Good job, Yehn, good job.
Status: Kept. I got my glasses fixed and even got a new pair of glasses too!
14) Get my prescriptions refilled because I’m dwindling on asthma medicine and like… I could die from this… I should never have been left to care for myself; I’m not mature enough for this responsibility…
Status: Kept, surprisingly. But I still need a new doctor because the last one I was going to wouldn’t give me any refills…
15) FINISH THE GIVEAWAY PRIZES I PROMISED LAST YEAR because holy shit I am incompetent and the worst and everyone has permission to hate me for starting things and never finishing them, fuck.
Status: Broken. So broken. I am the worst.
16) Go dolphin watching in the Gulf for real this time. Seriously, it’s $10 Yehn, you can do this.
Status: Kept, amazingly. It wasn’t as impressed as hoped; however, there was a lovely sunset.
17) Return to the Channel Islands to take better pictures. D;
Status: Broken. T_T
18) Level all my classes to 70 in FFXIV before next expansion, please.
Status: Somewhat broken. I didn’t have everything to 70 before the expansion, but I kind of feel like I should get credit for this one, because HEY, look at me now:
19) Organize and properly label all the photos on my computer so that I’m no longer desperately combing through folder and folder in blank confusion, looking for a single picture in a sea of thousands…
Status: Kept. It took me like eight hours of work, but I actually did this.
20) Update Home and a Half more than once? PLEASE??? The guilt I feel over this currently is crushing.
Status: Broken. And the guilt grows…
21) Complete the online American Literature class I am designing on time and with no corrections needed.
Status: Kept. I’m counting this as kept even though TECHNICALLY there was one thing I forgot to finish and it came back and bit me in the ass; however, I was approved with no corrections needed.
22) Earn 100% completion for Kingdom Hearts III. So excited!
Status: Broken. Um… This just didn’t happen.
23) Update my calendar with important dates—holidays, birthdays, etc.—and be productive about sending cards and well-wishes.
Status: Somewhat kept. I wasn’t any better about sending cards really, but I did at least save all the birthdays in my phone so I remember them.
24) Get the garbage disposal in the Texas house fixed ASAP so I don’t have to wash the dishes by hand anymore because I absolutely hate that particular chore.
Status: Kept. Then I moved, so it didn’t even matter.
25) Finish all the books my coworkers and friends bought for me recently so I can thank them for their recommendations!
Status: Broken. So broken.
26) Actually move into my new place instead of leaving it completely undecorated and lifeless.
Status: Remarkably, kept. Nothing has plastic on it, unlike at my old house where the nightstand didn’t get unwrapped even after two years of living there lol.
27) Try hard to get Creative Writing into a different area of the general ed. core so that more people will enroll in it.
Status: Kept. I’m counting this because I did my darn best, but we are still waiting on the state to tell us whether or not the class will be accepted.
28) Get caught up on my Ebird reports, even the old, old, old ones I never put in because I was slacking.
Status: Kept, actually. Whoo.
29) Throw away/return/sort all the stacks of old mail in the house (OMGGGG they’ve made me look like paper hoarder and I’m nootttt).
Status: Broken. There’s just… a lot of papers to go through…
30) Clean up the garage before moving so that I don’t have to fight spiders to move when the time comes.
Status: Broken, in that I did not clean up the garage in advance and did, in fact, have to fight spiders when it came time to move.
31) Find a way to boost grading productivity so that each class takes only two days to grade, maximum.
Status: Somewhat kept. I was definitely better this year than last year; however, I really think the “two days per class” thing was too optimistic, so for the future semester, I allotted myself three days per class and I think it will work better.
32) Go to a totally new restaurant and try their food.
Status: Kept. We went to a Mexican restaurant and I had trompo tacos (al pastor) which is probably not anything special to anyone else but it was my first time so lol.
33) Cancel old credit cards to make sure my credit is good before trying to buy a house (although I just checked my credit score and I’m in the great range already, so this is mostly for posterity’s sake).
Status: Broken. But it didn’t affect my loan, so I guess it was okay. And it ended up being good I didn’t cancel my Best Buy card because I was able to get good financing on the new appliances I needed for my house.
34) Get official contracts from my tenants so I can use my rental income in my next loan calculation.
Status: Broken, but I ended up not using that as part of the loan calculation anyway >_> so…
35) Talk to an HR rep about my retirement savings so that I can consolidate all my retirement accounts into one. (Man, look at all these ADULTING promises.)
Status: Broken. Look at me failing all these adulting promises.
36) Really finish decorating my office so it looks super cute and all my students want to visit me.
Status: Broken, but I think it sucks that I have to write this because it was really not my fault I couldn’t finish decorating my office. Our offices were all moved and disrupted by building remodels so I spent the entire year basically working out of a couple cardboard boxes.
37) Not sign up for ANY more new responsibilities at work in the spring semester. This is the biggest challenge. D;
Status: Kept, by technicality. I was able to avoid signing up for anything new in SPRING… But fall… was a whole other story. XD
38) Migrate all the rest of my books to the new Texas house instead of leaving them in Utah… SOMEHOW.
Status: Kept. I’m going to count this as kept. The only books left at the Utah house are my manga—I managed to bring literally every other book, which is very impressive considering I had only my small Camaro with its tiny truck space.
39) Use my twitter account more often to make it worth following. I will try!!
Status: Kept… sorta? I mean, since I didn’t use the account AT ALL before, making even one Twitter post kind of counts as using it more, right? >_>
40) Keep my hair cut nicely so I look less like a mess (than I really am).
Status: Somewhat broken. Although I think I got my hair cut more often this year than before, I don’t think I looked any less like a mess. XD
41) Successfully find a bridesmaid dress for my friend’s wedding that matches the rest of the wedding party.
Status: Actually kept! It was incredible. The wedding I was in was even featured in a magazine because of how pretty it was!
42) Make sure my skin is in good condition for the wedding so I don’t look like a disturbing ghost…
Status: Kept? I mean, in the end, looking like a ghost ended up being the whole point since it was a Halloween themed wedding so I kind of won either way.
43) Complete my BNHA manga collection. Since my bro bought me a bunch of the volumes for Christmas, I might as well.
Status: Broken… I bought like… one volume. XD
44) See a groove-billed ani. (It’s another type of bird.)
Status: Broken. Very illusive bird. T_T
45) Respond to messages, asks, and comments more quickly. I promise I’m not ignoring people… D;
Status: Um, broken. I left many people on read this year, sorry.
46) Lose ten pounds so that I feel more fit and comfy.
Status: Broken. I didn’t exercise at all this year, uff.
47) Pay down credit card debt by at least 1/3. Yikesssss, I really need to do this quick.
Status: Broken. It’s hard to pay down a credit card when you pour all your money into buying a new house…
48) I will finally fucking finish that chapter 73 analysis of Noragami… I swear to god…
Status: Broken. Uh yeah. This didn’t happen. V_V
49) Reach 1700 followers on Tumblr. You should follow me—I’m only marginally a waste of time and space!
Status: Kept. Over 2500 followers now!
50) I will keep these promises. LOLLLLL.
Status: Somewhat kept/somewhat broken. One year I really will keep them all…
Kept promises: 18
Broken promises: 24
Somewhat kept/broken promises: 8
Well, there are more kept promises than last year at least… It was another really hard year, what with moving in the middle of the year, over-working, dealing with so much drama with the reaccreditation on our campus, and just EVERYTHING all at once this last year… I keep thinking things are going to calm down and then they never do. Please 2020… just let me rest…
My new set of promises will be up on the 1st!
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EXO as dumb shit I’ve done, EXPLAINED:
See this picture here? This is me before the moving team. I was so fucking proud of myself for strapping the base of the chair to my roof (it wouldn’t fit through the trunk of me smol hatchback). I thought it was funny that it kinda looked like a kip-pah and asked my friend to take a pic for me here (see my lil peace sign next to my face? im v happy of my jew car). Little did I know that after driving to my new apartment with the whole moving team from IKEA unloading shit from the truck, I would be stuck in the fucking car. I didn't have a knife or scissors to cut the strings and I didn't want to make my dumb assery to be noticed; so instead of asking for help... I climbed out the front window and almost fell flat on my ass. When I stood up and turned around, the whole moving team was just standing there looking at me. The assholes knew I was stuck and let me suffer.
Kris & Kai:
so these moments both happened in the same night. I went to a house warming party for my friend and I didn't know what to bring as a gift, so I just bought two big bags of Hawaiian bread. Now throughout the night, the more I drink, the more impulsive I get.
I started putting the bread on people's shoulders, slowly piling them up until they noticed. Everyone was pretty wasted so there was no surprise when I had a stack of 4 1/2 buns (I ate half) on my friends shoulder. Anyways- fast forward into the night, I'm craving sweets, so I walk into my friends kitchen and find a jar of cookies. At the time I thought it was a brilliant idea to just put the Hawaiian bread in there so the kitchen looked full; a fair exchange, if you will. At least that's what I thought... I found pictures from the party and it turns out I just ended up putting in a half eaten bun sjzjsj
Fast forward into the morning of the next day, I’m hungover and I wake up wearing mismatching socks (one is mine, the other I have no idea).
I needed to get home because I had work later that day, so I hop into my car and start driving home. The whole time there was this annoying beeping sound that I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I had such a bad headache that I pulled over to see what the fuck was wrong. I got out of my car, checked the wheels, checked the under the hood, then hopped back inside. I was so frustrated that I banged my head on the steering wheel and just rested my eyes for a sec. When I opened them to look straight ahead at my dashboard, the brake light was glowing bright red. I cried.
One summer evening, I was hanging with my sister and her friends around a campfire. We were roasting marshmallows, drinking, having a good time etc. Eventually later into the night we started getting bored and one of my sister’s friends suggested playing hot potato with the coals from the fire. We’re all game like FUCK YEAH LETS DO THIS. Then we start tossing it around and realize that it’s way too fucking hot, so instead of tossing it’s just everyone spiking the coal to the next person. FYI, I have terrible hand eye coordination and I wasn’t wearing my glasses that night. Every single time the coal was spiked my way it would miss my hand and fly straight into my hair. The next day I woke up, looked in the mirror, skipped breakfast and headed straight to the salon. still looked cute or w/e so I ain’t mad
Ahhhh, this one is actually pretty personal and happened not too long ago! My mom finally left this dirt bag she’d been married to for the past 16 years. When I say dirt bag, I mean a manipulative, abusive piece of shit. My mom was so tired during her session with the mediator for when they were deciding who was getting what; she took 30-45 minutes to talk alone with them and he took 3 fucking hours putting on this sick sob story. The mediator was so done with him too that they just let him do whatever he wanted. That meant he had the “right” to pick and choose what belonged to him in our apartment. The fucker took EVERYTHING. He took the furniture, the bedroom sets, all the electronics, the spices- HE DOESN’T EVEN COOK. However, a week before then, I bought a huge bottle of vanilla. I needed it to make edible cookie dough, which I was doing everyday out of stress. The day before he finally moved out, I came home from work to see everything wrapped/packed up. I started to get worked up and went to the kitchen to make my cookie dough. When I opened the cabinet to get my vanilla and saw it completely empty, I lost it. I literally screamed and started tearing up all the boxes, finding more shit that belonged to me and stopped when I finally found my vanilla. I went back to the kitchen, happily made my cookie dough and kicked back on "his” couch with my dirty shoes on. Later that night, the asshole came home and screamed at me. I shut him up tho when I told him I’d suffocate him with a pillow in his sleep if he dared to touch me or any of my things ever again. He didn’t stay in the apartment that night lol
I think this one might be my favorite story. It all started when a package from my mom in the mail never showed up even though the UPS tracking said it had already arrived on my doorstep. I assumed in meant the package was stolen and got really bummed about it since it had some essential items in there. My roommates felt bad and decided to cheer me up by throwing a house party (woohoo! cue the alcohol!). It started at like 3pm and went on all the way until 4 am the next day. Somewhere within that time frame while it was still light outside, slightly tipsy, I found a ladder on the side of the house and had a strong urge to follow it up to the top; and who am I to deny every desire that comes across my pea sized brain. I was half-way up to the roof when one of my roommates spotted me (let’s call him Big Ned; there were two guys named Ned in our house so we just called them Big Ned and Little Ned; Big Ned is like 6′3″ and Little Ned is like 5′4″). Big Ned started yelling at me to get down and I told him I couldn’t because it was my destiny to reach the top. He decided that there was no use arguing with me and ended up following me to the roof (even though he’s afraid of heights; bless his BFG heart). He’s kinda hard to miss, so when he started making his way up to the roof with me, it grabbed a lot of attention. Some joined us. Meanwhile, I decided to walk around and look into my neighbors yards. I saw a mess of papers in one of the alleys between our houses and joked “lmao that’d be funny if that was my package”. We laughed for a bit then looked a little closer until we realized oh fuck that’s my package. My body moved on it’s own and just kinda scrambled across the roof trying to figure out the fastest and least painful way to get off the roof. Thank the stars for Big Ben holding me back by the collar of my shirt and preventing me from jumping down onto the neighbors fence. Little Ben ended up running over and jumping the fence to get it for me. We still don’t know how it got there.
In middle school, I had to go on this field trip to some ranch out in the countryside of Texas. I remember we were all huddled into a barn with a big stage in the back. The teachers grabbed a mic and got on stage to talk about who knows what. Idk I wasn’t paying attention, talking to my friend, in my own world. When the mics go off, everyone starts chattering. At that moment in time, I was extremely preoccupied with my shoelaces when I got a tap on my shoulder from my homeroom teacher. I think she was mad at me for not listening and told me to head up to the stage along with a few other students making their way over. Being in front of others makes me nervous, but when the teachers put a bib around my neck before I got on stage, I was too confused to think of anything else. When another teacher started handing out baby bottles filled with Gatorade to each student on stage, I had to stop them to ask what was going on. And what do ya know, I’m in a baby bottle drinking contest. Before I had time to ask any more questions, they were already counting down to start. Now listen, I’m not the type of person to back down from a challenge so ofc you know I’m gonna suck the soul out of this bich. The reason I can say this confidently is because up until I was 11 years old, I always drank out of baby bottles when I got home from school. I just really liked the feeling?? For me, nothing beat chilling on the couch, watching Teen Titans and drinking fresh cold orange juice from a baby bottle on a hot summer day. Idk but I guess it came in handy since I finished a 24oz bottle under 35 seconds. The rest of the kids weren’t even close to half way through. There’s a picture of me at the back of my school year book holding up the baby bottle like a trophy.
Remember my sisters friends from the campfire? Well I spent a good long summer hanging with her friend group and ended up getting kinda close to this one of the guys (let’s call him Jake). I have a really broad range of music taste and I guess he digged that so we talked a lot about music together. By the end of the summer, Jake threw a party at his house and invited me over. Ngl I wanted some dick so ofc I’m gonna go all out and break out my hot leather Madonna outfit. I head out with my sis and the house is packed by the time we get there. The whole time we’re pretty much just hanging out, drinking and dancing the night away. Some time passed 1 am (I think), I’m sorta outside making out with Jake on the side of his house. It’s getting really hot and heavy. When we finally broke apart for air, he told me he though he was in love with me. I’m screaming internally, panicking and I don’t know what to do. I could tell from way before that he really liked me, but I didn’t think it was to that extent. It doesn’t help exactly that I don’t feel the same way for him. Don’t get me wrong! He was really hot and sweet, but I just couldn’t see myself with him. So what did I tell him? Nothing. My dumb ass was in such a panic that all I could think of was that I needed to run. I did. I ran back into the house, out the front porch, spotted his skateboard and took off. I didn’t really know where I was or where I was going but somehow I ended up at the train station and eventually found my way back home.
On my 21st birthday, my roommates took me out to a really nice, 5 star restaurant in the city we lived. They're buying me all the drinks I want cause heck I'm finally legal! Now, I think y'all can see a pattern of what happens when I drink. So when Big Ned got a glass of scotch and I had just finished off my last sip of wine, I wanted some too. I asked him to share, using "it's my birthday" to get my way. Ever the gentleman, Big Ben pours half his glass into my wine glass and keeps his raised for a cheers. The whole group joins in and with a shout of Mozeltov, I slam the wine glass down on the table and toss it back. It wasn't until I finished the last drop and tried to set my glass back on the table that I realized I snapped the stem in half. No one spoke, except for Little Ned, softly, "did you... did that really just happen?" Yeah. Yeah it did. Thankfully the restaurant agreed to keep the broken glass off the bill as long as I left the restaurant immediately.
On a Saturday night, I met up with a good friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in months. We bought some snacks and drinks then drove to a marina near my apartment (new place in California). The whole night we spent catching up and throwing rocks in the water. I was still a little tipsy when it was time to go home and my friend ended up driving me back. On the way back, I opened a bag and snacked on some pizza flavored goldfish. I was about a fourth of the way through the bag when I decided I didn’t like it anymore and started tossing them out the window. We pull up to a stop light and my friend is trying to make me stop by rolling up the window, but I stick my leg out before he could close it. Next he tries to compromise and said if I wasn’t going to eat the goldfish, I should just put the bag down and remove my leg from the window. My tipsy ass told him no, I was handing out free food. I turned to look at the car next to me, asked (yelled) if they wanted any goldfish and held out the bag to them. I guess the dude thought it was funny and was just like “yeah sure why not, lifes too short to not eat goldfish from a stranger at a stoplight” alksdjflskdj
When I was about 6 years old, I lived out in the suburbs of Fulshear, Texas. The community is really tiny and everyone knew each other. One time, I was playing hide and seek with my siblings, and decided to hide under my moms bed. While I was waiting for my brother to come find me, I fell asleep. A couple hours later I wake up and it’s dark out. The house is empty. I’m calling out to see if anyone is home, checking all the rooms. I thought maybe everyone decided to tag me “it” since I passed out. After a while of not finding anyone, the phone rings and I pick up. It’s my mom sounding out of breath calling to see if anyone found me and took me back to my house. Turns out I had actually been knocked out for 6 hours. Not being able to find me during hide and seek for 2 hrs, my siblings went to get my mom who also started looking for me. After another hour and no luck, she called our neighbors across the street to see if I went over to play with their kids. Ofc they said no and said they would call some other people in the neighborhood to find out if they'd seen me. A few hours later, the whole neighborhood was out looking for me. Meanwhile I'm at home chilling on the couch watching Teletubbies and eating goldfish (the original babey).
My dad took me and my siblings to the beach almost every summer in elementary school. We would always stay at this Holiday Inn right across the street from the sands. At night, we would go “hunting” for crabs with a flashlight and a fishnet. But on some nights when my dad was too tired to go out, my siblings and I would hang in the kids room at the hotel. We were fooling around and just being kids. Then we found a big case filled with tubes of paint. I was excited to do some finger painting but before I could reach for a tube, my brother stopped me to say he had an idea. He dared us lay down our sheets of paper and paint them by jumping on the tubes. Being the youngest of four, I thought this was a brilliant idea and immediately got to work. Set my paper down and lined up the colors I wanted to use. I jumped.... Only a spec of paint made it onto the paper... The rest beautifully decorated the off-white walls of the kids room. We all just froze because oh my stars we’re gonna be in so much trouble. Turning to each other, we made a very strong pinky promise to not tell a soul what happened. The next day when we returned to the kids room, the case was gone, faded splotches of green and purple remained on the walls, and a big paper taped above reading “NO PAINTING ALLOWED”.
Fun fact: my eldest sister used to write about my adventures for her creative essay homework’s in middle school.
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Dead Ivy | Chapter Two
CHECK IT OUT FROM THE START | AO3 LINK
The room was taken over with a brutal heat. The type of Georgia heat that would cling to every inch of her skin and worm past her clothes. When Beca was younger she would sleep with the window propped open, spread out over the quilt that her grandmother had sewn before she was born. That was folded up in the closet now, and a busted window unit struggled to pull outside warmth into cooler currents. It smelled like gas.
She felt the sticky brine of sweat on every inch of her skin, almost like a casing that she needed to shed. Her whole body was sore with the whispers of a hangover, though she had only downed two drinks before cautiously walking the side streets and leaving her fathers pickup truck in the parking lot of the Red Sun.
Beca didn’t’ bother reaching for her phone, scrolling through the multitude of emails that she could just mute, justifying it with an excuse. Her bosses could wait, hell, she could wait. Nothing was more important than sitting in her old room staring at the walled posters of boy bands that were shrouded in repression of sexuality. She squinted her eyes at Justin Timberlake and let out a soft groan. She was back where she started.
The scent of coffee tickled at her nose as birds chirped outside. In any other situation, this would be a picturesque moment. But instead, she was thrust into her home town for a funeral. Her brother’s funeral. It left a strange ache in the pit of her chest that she frowned at as she pulled herself from the quilt that her grandmother passed down to her mom- and now it lay here, spread across her twin bed.
Her father was sitting at the kitchen table when she wandered onto the cooling tile. She shivered as the surface bit at her bare feet. He wordlessly nodded at her as she fished for a mug and filled it with steaming liquid. The heat warmed her cheeks as she leaned against the counter.
“You don’t want any milk or sugar?”
“No, I’m okay. Thank you.”
He had run out of things to say after they walked back into the funeral yesterday. They both smiled sadly and accepted the handshakes, cleaning up in silence. The fridge was wracked with different Tupperware they weren’t expected to give back. Most of the dishes were covered in cheese, something about comfort, she supposed. Now there was an uncomfortable silence between them. Beca decided to read over the label stitched into his button-down instead. Mitchell Transmission.
“What are your plans for today?”
She lifted her eyes over the rim of her mug, mumbling into it. “I was going to go to the house.”
He sat back in his chair and let it groan, drumming his fingers on the table. None of this felt real. Was she actually going to use the key that was under the front mat and open into the place that sat desolate now? There was probably mail stacked in the box, no one aware that there wasn’t anyone to open them. But that was why she was staying so long, wasn’t it? To tie up loose ends. To get the old ranch ready to sell.
“Fine, that’s fine. Are you going to get rid of any of his stuff?”
“I’m not sure.” She set the mug down on the counter and let out a small breath.
Part of Beca knew she said it to ease his mind. What about his baseball card collecting? He would murder her if she even thought about touching that as a kid. They were encased in plastic, some of them marked with signatures. But now they were nothing. She would have to get rid of nearly everything, not willing to take it back to her apartment out west, and her father had no reason for it either.
“Well, I’m off.” He stood from the table and pushed in the chair with a shattering screech. It drowned out the birds that chirped outside. She nodded and he told her to drive safely. Something he had never done before.
Beca went to the only general store in town to get trash bags. She had internally groaned when she peeled open the bottom cabinet in the kitchen to find that the only cleaning supplies her father kept was a dried-out pack of Clorox wipes that didn’t smell like lemon anymore. If it were up to her, and really, it wasn’t, she would avoid all public places like this. Especially with lighting so harsh.
She shoved her hands in the pockets of her jacket and struggled to keep her head down as she walked through the sliding doors closest to the produce. An instant smell crossed her senses: A mix between freshly baked bread and cut fruit. There was a slight chill to the air as she grasped a small basket and balanced it in her fingertips. She hoped it was early enough that the only people in here would be moms with nothing better to do, and maybe a drunk college student that hadn’t had a chance to sleep off a hangover.
Beca rounded the aisle to the cleaning supplies and welcomed the bout of heat as she got further away from the freezer section. Maybe Los Angeles had made her soft to the cold. She threw some off-brand trash bags into the basket, some wipes that were also generic, but had some moisture to them. Paper towels, a pack of plastic gloves, though she doubted that she would need them. That’s when she noticed movement out of the corner of her eye.
The woman straightened up and flicked her stare to the base of the aisle. And that’s where she stood: her focus on a pack of detergent that she was glaring at under the fluorescents. She was impossible to miss, her fire-filled hair was done up in a messy bun, a t-shirt hugging every inch of her curves. She had tied a flannel around her waist, taking it off due to heat, Beca guessed.
Chloe Beale. Restaurant owner. Single mother- and oh god, staring right at her.
Beca’s cheeks flushed instantly at the blue flash of light she saw before staring down at the product that was in her hand. She read the directions on how to put on gloves like she had never done it before. It was the most interesting thing in the world right now. She got all the way down to the warning label about ingesting the powder before she felt the warmth of another, always silent on her feet.
“Beca? I heard you were back in town.”
Fuck, that voice. It made her knees want to buckle. She was thankful they didn’t- instead, she calmly breathed in and looked up. She was so close, and her eyes, damn, her eyes were a breath-taking blue like they had always been. Her smile was strong, encouraging. She had missed it.
“Yeah, I… how are you?”
She mentally cursed herself. How are you? Yeah, I’m sorry that I bolted right after high school. That I broke up with you the second I had a chance to get out of the little town. Literally anything but ‘how are you’ would work. But instead, she stared and rocked back on the heels of her boots. Chloe had a cloying, yet graceful, smile on her lips. Obliged.
“I’m well, Beca. How are you?”
Beca blinked: Chloe either hadn’t heard or hadn’t the heart to mention it. Even the greeter at the front of the store had given her a sad look and that awful head tilt. This place was too small for no one to forbid pitying her. She hated it- but Chloe hadn’t done any of that stuff. Instead, she treated her like an old friend.
“I’m uh, I’m okay.” She cupped the back of her neck and peered up at the woman. She had a few things in her hands. A large pack of iodized salt with a little woman in a raincoat stood out to her. It was raining and a spinning sunny umbrella rested upon her shoulder. “Listen, I’m sorry that I’ve been MIA.”
Chloe lifted a brow at that. MIA would be a casual phrase one would use when it came to dodging texts for a few days, not moving across the country and successfully producing records for the past twelve years without so much as a friendly acknowledgment.
“It’s alright.” She finally worked out. “I know how much you wanted to escape this sleepy little town. And you did quite well for yourself.”
Chloe smiled at her again and ducked around her as Beca let her shoulders drop. There was hurt in her stance, eyes following the red-headed woman for a few moments before she vanished, walking up to a cashier who beamed right back at her.
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Where is your favourite place to get fries?
I don't really have a favorite.
What is the most recent article of clothing you’ve purchased?
A gray blazer.
Have you ever paid for anything with a cheque (check)?
Countless times. I used to pay most of my bills with checks via mail, but I've gradually switched most things over to online payments over the past few years.
Do you know anyone who was raised by their grandparents?
I don't think so.
Have you ever made your own pie from scratch?
Yes. This reminds me, I've been planning on baking a pumpkin pie recently. Maybe I'll do it sometime next week.
Who was the last person you had an in-depth conversation with?
Are there any waterfalls nearby?
Not that I know of. I grew up in an area with a lot of waterfalls, though. There was one in the woods near my childhood home.
What was the last fast food item you ate?
A veggie dog.
What are your earliest memories of going to see a doctor?
I have a very hazy memory of being at a doctor's office when I was around 2 or 3, and feeling absolutely miserable. I think it was for something relating to my kidney defect and all the medical problems it caused when I was a kid.
How many hours do you typically work in a week?
I'm not working now.
Can you hear traffic right now?
No, it's nighttime, and I don't live near a busy road anyways.
Have you ever pulled a muscle?
Ughhh yes, when I was doing upper-level swimming courses when I was like 11-12, and I had this exercise where I had to retrieve weights off of the bottom of a 16-foot-deep diving well. I got the weight, pushed off the bottom of the pool with my legs, and pulled a muscle in one of my legs.
What did you do last weekend?
Just went about life as usual. My life isn't at all affected by what day of the week it is, not since I was just out of college and still working at my very first airport operations job.
What is your favourite gaming console?
Nintendo Switch, or Nintendo 64.
Are you talking to anyone via instant messaging right now?
No, I haven't used instant messaging in about 8-9 years.
Have you kissed someone today?
What is your favourite condiment?
It depends on what food it's going on.
Do you have a strong opinion for or against Justin Bieber?
No, I'm very uninterested and indifferent when it comes to celebrities.
Have you used a telephone today?
Have you ever seen any foreign films?
What was the last major city you visited?
London! I already want to go back.
Do you prefer coffee or tea?
Have you taken a painkiller today?
Yes. I was starting to get a headache after my husband and I finished our birdwatching hike. I think it was from my baseball hat being on a bit too tight. Or maybe the weight of the binocular strap around my neck. Hard to tell, since literally ANYTHING can give me a headache.
How many theatres does the closest cinema from your house have?
I'm not sure. I've never been to that theater since there's a much nicer theater that's only 10-ish further minutes away - one of the ones that serves a full dinner during the movie.
Do you always have a stock of alcohol in your house?
Usually, but not very much. Right now we have a bottle of zinfandel and a bottle of gin.
Have you ever had a pumpkin latte and if so, did you like it?
Yes. They're ok. Most places that make them tend to make them too sweet for my liking.
Have you had a nap today?
Is there an antique store in your town or city?
There's a bunch of them.
Have you ever been to a baby shower?
Yes, I was at the one for my sister-in-law two weekends ago.
Are you currently in a relationship? If so, do you think it will last?
Yes, and definitely yes.
Do you have a hyphenate name or know anyone with one? (eg. Carter-Brown)
I know a few people who have a hyphenated name.
What would you wear if you were being taken out to dinner tonight?
Depends on what sort of restaurant we were going to.
What were the last shoes you wore?
My Terrain boots.
Who cooks most of the meals in your household?
Do you know anyone who has been to rehab?
I know someone who has had to go to an in-patient post-stroke rehabilitation facility. I don't know anyone who has had to go to the drug addiction type of rehab, though.
Have you ever had a mojito?
I don't think I have, actually.
Do you take your Christmas decorations down before or after New Years?
Usually right after New Years.
What is the first thing you do when you get online?
How many romantic relationships have you been in so far?
Just this one, with my husband. I wasn't interested in being in a relationship before he came along.
Have you ever been camping in the wilderness?
Do you have any money on your person right now?
Would you consider yourself to be a picky eater?
Have you made a large purchase today?
What was the last candy you ate?
I had a few squares of raspberry dark chocolate a few days ago.
How often do you eat Subway?
Almost never. Pretty much only while traveling and that's the best option for food at a rest area.
Have you ever lived in a house with a pool in the yard?
No. I've spent all but a few years of my life living in climates where pools would only be able to be used for like 3-4 months out of the year. The neighborhood I currently live in has a community pool, but it's only open from late May til mid September.
What colour is your toothbrush?
Black and white.
Do you have gluten intolerance or know anyone who does?
I don't. And I can't think of anyone I know who does.
Have you ever cried while watching a movie?
I've probably gotten misty-eyed from a few movies, but I've never like bawled my eyes out or anything, haha.
First thing that catches your eye when you look out the nearest window?
I can't see out the nearest window. The blinds are closed for the night.
Did your parents go to college? If so, what did they study?
Yes. My dad got his degree in chemical engineering, and my mom got her degree in piano performance with a minor in pipe organ performance.
Have you ever had a migraine?
Countless times. I've been getting migraines for about 17 years now. :-( Thankfully I don't get them nearly as often as I did when I was in my teens and early 20's, though.
Do you have a gym membership?
Not anymore. I recently cancelled it now that we have a pretty well-equipped home gym.
Have you locked your front door today?
Have you ever slept in a car overnight?
I've slept in my truck a few times, when I was working in charter jet operations and I'd sometimes have to be at the airport til 9-10 p.m., then again for a late departure/arrival at like 1-2 a.m., then again for the next day's shift at 5-6 a.m. I lived about 50 minutes away from work so I didn't have enough time to go home and sleep, and sometimes the pilot lounge would be already claimed by a coworker, so I'd just park my truck on the flight line and try to sleep as best I could. That was a fun job but the schedule was absolute hell.
Have you washed the dishes today?
Have you ever fainted?
I've come close, but not quite.
Have you been awake before sunrise today?
When was the last time you went to the bank?
Around 2 months ago to get my passport out of the safe deposit box. I need to go again soon to put it back since we don't have any more international trips planned til next year.
Do you avoid conflict as much as possible?
I usually do, but I'll still stand up for myself and others if needed. I'm not a doormat.
Have you ever used a leaf blower?
Yep. That was sometimes one of my yard work chores when I was a teenager.
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Trevor was shafted by shift.com
2021 Apr 12 (Mon) – We ran a bunch of errands today. We had to get fuel for the truck and pet food. PetCo did not have Sheba’s food so we stopped at The Fresh Market to get her food and some food items for us. The store turned out to be small and didn’t have everything we wanted. So, we had to stop at Kroger to get cat food and the rest of the food we wanted. Lunch was at the Blue Plate Café. I thought the pot roast was chewy but Paul enjoyed the meal. When we returned to the campground, Paul finished up the wallpaper in the bedroom. It looks very good. Now I need a different covering on the window treatment. And, so, it starts. Lol.
2021 Apr 11 (Sun) – We watched church services on Facebook. Afterward, we drove to Camping World to return a part Paul was not able to use in setting up the cell phone booster. We drove around trying to find a place to have lunch but we couldn’t find any place open and wound up just returning to the campground. Paul got to work tearing off the old wallpaper in the bedroom and putting up the new paper. It’s looking good.
2021 Apr 10 (Sat) – Bonnie is doing better. The galliprant seems to be working for her. She is still weak on her right side but she’s hardly limping. We just have to be careful not to get her off balance and make sure she goes slowly up and down the stairs. Old age sucks – for dogs as well as humans.
A fierce thunderstorm rolled through early this morning. We had storms last night from about 8 to 11 p.m. accompanied by the usual tornado warnings. The storm this morning was so strong that one lightning boom literally lifted me out of the bed. When the lightning flashed, you could see it through your closed lids. Sheba must have been going crazy!
My sister, Susan, is having surgery on her knee and asked if I could come stay for a week or two to help her out. So I called my cancer doctor to reschedule my PET scan. I was going to go home May 1 to May 12. Now it looks like I’ll be flying back on May 16 and staying through Memorial Day. Susan’s surgery is set for May 17.
We got aggravated with not being able to get online to check out campsites. We decided to buy a cell booster and drove to Camping World in Olive Branch in Mississippi (just across the border) to buy a King cell phone booster antenna. It was $499! Ugh. We also picked up two camp chairs since ours are starting to fall apart.
Lunch was going to be at the Brass Door Irish Pub in Memphis. After paying for 3 hours parking in Memphis, we walked a couple of blocks to the restaurant only to find it has been closed for the last year. We then walked back toward the truck and stopped to eat at the Blue Plate Café Downtown. That was closed indefinitely. Next door was the River Time Café. It was a tiny deli but had a robust menu. We both got sandwiches with potato salad. We had to sit outside at one of two tables. The proprietor said she was not allowed to have people in her shop. While sitting outside waiting for her to bring out our meal (it’s down south and the wait was very long), an older man came stumbling by and started talking to us. He was very difficult to understand but we understood that he was drunk and had come to get something to eat to soak the booze up. At first, I thought he was going to panhandle but he just wanted to talk. Then he went into the café and picked up his pre-ordered meal. Finally, our sandwiches came out. They were delicious. The owner also gave us a free banana nut muffin because we waited patiently for so long. That was nice.
2021 Apr 9 (Fri) – We drove to the vet this morning to drop Bonnie off. She is getting a test today to see if she has Cushings Disease. She has had increased thirst, difficulty walking with a weakness on her right side (especially the back leg), and it seems like she has to pee more often. Could be age related. It might not. They will give her a shot of cortisol and check her blood at 8 a.m., noon, and 4 p.m. If she makes more cortisol then she’s got the disease. If she doesn’t make more cortisol, then she doesn’t have Cushings. We have our fingers crossed.
After dropping her off (we had to wait outside for someone to come get her – they’re not letting anyone inside), we went to the Blue Plate Café for breakfast. It was a cute little place, bright and inviting. The food was very good, too.
Next stop was at Lowe’s. Paul peeled the wall covering off in the bedroom. It’s been coming off almost from the day we bought the camper. Now we are looking for a new wallpaper. We found a pattern we like. We’ll see how it looks.
We made a quick stop at the Fresh Market. I am out of Vitamin C and looking for more. We thought it was a health food type store but it was just a regular supermarket. I picked up a few items but no vitamins.
When we got back to the campground, we drove over to the Chucalissa Village in the park. It is an area where Choctaw tribes lived there hundreds of years ago. There is a mound and a replica house built on the site. A small museum tells the story of the area, both of the park itself and of the inhabitants who lived here. The old site was actually discovered by CCC workers who were building a pool for the first all Negro park in the state. It is now run by the University of Memphis.
At 4:45 p.m. we drove back into town to get Bonnie. The vet came out to talk to us. She said the test was negative. Bonnie does not have Cushings Disease. She couldn’t see any reason for her leg problems and surmised that it is arthritis. She told us to continue with the Galliprant and bring her back if things get worse.
We found something very fascinating. It is a Smart Mart. It’s like a new version of the automat. You pull up, touch a screen, shop for different grocery items, pay and your items are given to you in a big drawer. There was a delivery truck there filling up the mart when we stopped.
2021 Apr 8 (Thu) – We wanted to go to the Cotton Museum but it was closed due to the pandemic. We then drove to the National Ornamental Metal Museum. Although their website said they opened at 10 a.m., they were closed with a sign out front saying they open at 11 a.m. So we drove around Memphis for an hour. Saw Beale Street (Home of the Blues) in its quiet state; i.e. with no partymakers at night. Paul says they are trying to be like New Orleans. I don’t think so. New Orleans is different. It is the place for jazz music. Memphis is blues music. The city is confusing with lots of closed off streets for renovations or construction. As you get further outside the city, the buildings are old, dilapidated, spray painted with graffiti. Many homes have bars on the windows and doors.
We tried to go to the Mississippi River Museum but it wasn’t where Trip Advisor said it should be. We stopped at the Visitors Center and were told they moved the museum to Mud Island and it has been closed for the past year and a half. We went back to the Metal Museum and they were open. The most delightful part of the tour was the exhibit by international artists. They took a 155mm steel bar and made all kinds of things from it. It was fascinating to see how imaginative people can be.
After the Metal Museum, we drove to the post office and dropped off all the envelopes we prepared. Then we went to the Bass Pro Shops Giant Pyramid for lunch at Uncle Bucks Restaurant. They have rooms up on the second and third level. So the store is also a hotel. Paul bought a flannel shirt. We looked for new camp chairs but couldn’t find what we wanted.
On the way back to the campground, we stopped at Kroger Supermarket and picked up some groceries. The camp host told us that the campground will be full this weekend. Although many RVs have come in, it is not full. Either he can’t count or some of the campsites are not usable. Whatever.
2021 Apr 7 (Wed) – We spent the day working on the mass mailing for SMART. There were 32 duplicate addresses and 32 companies that did not have envelopes. I typed labels for the missing companies and stuck them over the duplicate addresses. Saved a lot of work (Paul’s suggestion). We finished folding the letters, inserting them in the envelopes, and putting the return address labels and stamps on all the envelopes. We just have to deliver them to the post office.
The vet called this morning. Bonnie’s liver enzymes are high. She thinks Bonnie might have Cushings Disease. We will drop her off at the vet on Friday so they can do some tests. In the meantime, Bonnie is having a very difficult time walking. She fights getting up if she doesn’t have to. We have resorted to using the special stairs we bought for our last dog to help her get in and out of the trailer easier. It seems to be helping Bonnie.
We packed up the trailer today and Paul drove over to the dump station to empty the tanks. I sat at the campsite with Bonnie because she was in too bad shape. It took him 20 minutes then he was back and we got all hooked up again. Good for another week.
2021 Apr 6 (Tue) – We took Bonnie to the vet this morning. We had to sit outside while they took her inside. The vet called on the phone and we talked about Bonnie’s history and issues. She didn’t find anything obvious wrong with her foot. Thinks it might be arthritis. She took blood and will call us tomorrow.
We left the vet and went looking for a fast food place for lunch. We stopped at a Burger King. There were six cars on line in front of us but were still on line for over half an hour. It was the slowest fast food joint I’ve ever been to! The junior whoppers were small and the fries were not even warm. At least Bonnie enjoyed her burger.
We went back to Office Depot to pick up the copies. The service – again! – was so damn slow. When the clerk finally waited on me, she asked if I had gotten an email saying the project was ready. I replied that it was agreed upon yesterday that I would be back today. With a sigh, she went to search on the shelves. After about 5 minutes, she found my print job.
When we got back to the campground, Bonnie’s back leg was giving out on her. She could barely walk and kept sitting down and refusing to move any further. I called the vet to ask if she had examined Bonnie’s other legs or just her hurt foot. After some discussion, the vet said we’d wait to see what the bloodwork shows. The results should be back tomorrow.
I took the mailing list I got from the Muster Master (who got it from the Chamber of Commerce in Shawnee, Oklahoma) and struggled through printing 360 envelopes. Our printer is not a high capacity printer. It took me hours to get them all printed. The program kept shutting down and I would have to restart it. In the meantime, Paul started folding the letters to insert in the envelopes.
2021 Apr 5 (Mon) – The cell service at this campground is sooooo bad! Even my phone isn’t working right and often drops to 3G with one bar. It drops calls like crazy. Getting on anything beyond standard email with the laptop is almost impossible. Twelve days of this will be maddening.
We drove to CVS to get Paul’s first COVID-19 shot. On the way, we got an email saying his appointment had been cancelled. We decided to just go in anyway and play dumb. It worked. Old people and technology is a recognized disability. Lol.
After the drugstore, we drove to Olive Garden to get lunch. It appeared that they were repairing fire damage. Nothing to eat there. We then tried another restaurant but it looked too high class. We stopped at Seasons 52 Grill, which looked moderate from the outside but once we got inside – va, va, va, voom! Very expensive. We spent over $100. Oh, well, what’s money for except to spend? The lunch was excellent.
We drove over to the Agricenter to look at the campground. We will be going there after the rally in Arkansas and wanted to check out the best entry point. It has a large campground but the spaces are a little too close. Oh, well. It will be home for Paul when I fly back to New York next month.
We stopped at Office Depot to drop of letters for copying. I volunteered to be the Administrative Chairperson for the SMART 2021 National Muster. One of my jobs is soliciting donations. So I drafted a letter and attachment, got approval, then brought it to Office Depot to make 365 copies of each one. I also gave them copies of return address labels to make up. I don’t if it’s a “down south” thing, but the service was so frickin’ slow. We were there almost an hour just to drop off the originals. I said I’d be back tomorrow to pick up the copies.
Bonnie has been favoring her front, right paw. She started limping on it yesterday so I called a vet today and made an appointment to bring her in tomorrow. The paw got worse over the day and now you can see her paw is swollen. Hope they can figure out what’s wrong and fix it.
2021 Apr 4 (Sun - Easter) – We managed to dial into the church service this morning. It’s nice to be able to share the service with our congregation back home.
I walked around the campground today. Most the campsites are empty. A lot of campers left today. I would have thought they’d stay for the weekend. Guess I was wrong. We stayed in today. Paul repaired the AC and we did the laundry. It was a very nice day. The trees are a brilliant green and the buds are in full bloom. The sky was an incredible blue and the temperature reached the high 60s. It was a beautiful Easter day. We got to skype with both Travis and Miranda. That make the day perfect!
2021 Apr 3 (Sat) – We wasted 20 minutes this morning trying to get the Sunday service streaming on the iPad before we realized it was Saturday. Lol. There are not nearly as many RVs in the campground as I thought there would be. Over half left today. I have never seen so many tiny trailers in the campground at a time. There’s a teardrop trailer, an A-Line pyramid shaped camper, a Scottie, a couple of tiny trailers, and several tents.
The day was pleasant. It started out cold in the 40s but warmed to the mid-60s. The sky was clear and a brilliant blue and there was hardly any wind. There was a terrible odor in the air. At first, we thought it was the smell of campers dumping their tanks but it lingered too long. There must be a waste plant somewhere nearby.
2021 Apr 2 (Fri) – Sure was glad we had that electric blanket on last night! We are under a freeze warning for a few days. We drove back down to Southaven, MS to get dog food at Petco and cat food at Kroger. Picked up some people food, too, while we were at it. Stopped at Southaven RV Super Center where Paul was able to buy a replacement for a broken part in the AC. Not that we need AC right now, but (hopefully) soon. It also operates the heat pump, which we DO need right now. We have been keeping warm enough with the fireplace, the furnace, and a small electric heater. On the way back, we spotted a pup up on the side of the highway. We stopped and shooed it away. Down the embankment, the mama dog and two other pups were skittering around. They were clearly unowned canines. We were glad we could chase the pup off the roadway and keep it from getting run over.
We stopped at Memphis BBQ for lunch. The meal was not that good. Paul’s pulled pork was bland and my burnt tips were dry. The restaurant was very busy and service was understandably slow.
The day turned out to be nice although the temperature never got out of the 50s. The skies were clear and deep blue. We’ve been watching RVs come in all day. This is a holiday weekend and the campground is going to be full.
2021 Apr 1 (Thu) – We packed up and left Fulton, MS at 10 a.m. It was 135 miles to Memphis, TN. We are staying in the T.O. Fuller State Park Campground. There are lots of woods around and plenty to see in Memphis. The sites have a good amount of space between them. The roads and campsites are asphalt. We have electric and water hookups. We will have to go dump after a week because there is no sewer hookup and we won’t be able to last 12 days without filling the tanks.
It got real cold last night and we pulled out the electric blanket. Imagine! Needing the electric blanket down south in April. We watched the Holy Thursday service from our church streaming on Facebook. We also facetimed with Paul’s sister, Joan, about our cruise to Australia in January.
Literally Just A List Of Things That I Love
cheese, of all kinds
the way workshops and some garages smell
the fact that you can have restaurant-quality food delivered to your home so that you never have to get out of your dog-themed jimjams
the word “jimjams”
every dog that has ever been and will ever be born
usaa’s a+ customer service
the smell of books when you fan their pages right onto your nose
when you’re underlining something and the line is perfectly straight under the text
colorful highlighters, in general but also i’m thinking kind of specifically of this 15-pack a sixth grader gave me once when i was in the 8th grade, and looking back i obviously shouldn’t have accepted it because i think he was just trying to impress me, but whatever, those highlighters were the bomb
3 musketeers bars, the best candy bar do NOT @ me about this
dave, the nice man who runs the candy store below where i work, who always calls me mollyboss or smiley-girl
my xxl ovechkin ugly christmas sweater that goes down to my knees and like four inches past the tips of my fingers in the sleeves
actually i could probably just say xxl sweatshirts and sweaters in general, my jimjam of choice
soup!!!!!! oh man i love soup. clam chowder is maybe my favorite? it’s hard to say, there’s lots of amazing soups in the world, you guys gotta get in on this soup thing
a clean apartment
setting my ac to freezing temperatures and then going to sleep under a pile of warm blankets
babysitting children between the ages of 5 and 12 and then returning them to their parents who are not me, that part is very important
stretching in the morning and making those weird dinosaur sounds when you do it to deepen the stretch you know what i mean like the t-rex sounds??? but like baby cartoon t-rex sounds. not real t-rexes because i feel like ... probably real t-rexes were very loud
running outside when it’s like ... 40-ish degrees so you don’t get hot and the air tastes like water
the ocean, as long as i am not in the ocean
midi rings, even though they definitely always fall off, like, immediately thanks to my tiny troll hands
when your checked bag is the first one on the carousel at baggage claim
interior design--i’m not actually any good at it, i don’t really have an eye for furniture, but i love looking at other people’s beautiful interiors, some people are so gifted!!!!!
looking outside the plane window and seeing clouds
panang curry that’s so hot it makes your nose runny
my nearly-lifesize papier-mache cow, whose name is queen beez
my sister’s couch
coffee with real, fresh, heavy cream
coffee with that terrible french vanilla flavored creamer you can buy in like, 7/11s
brunch in all forms, at all times, in all restaurants
snow!!! on christmas especially but also just whenever
the first week of warm weather after winter
the way it feels when you land in your home airport and step off the plane and all the tourists don’t know where to go but this is your turf and you already know where baggage claim is
getting into the writing zone where everything comes easily and you keep surprising yourself with on point turns of phrase
receiving messages from people who were having a bad day and read my stories and laughed
when my podiatrist told me i was his toughest first-timer for epat which was either good or worrying about my pain tolerance
having my teeth cleaned, i mean not the process but the way your mouth feels shiny after
listening to music, always, at all times, in all situations, but especially when i’m running and a song has exactly the right beat and it gets in like, your bloodstream you know what i mean? like you can feel it? and suddenly running isn’t hard anymore, you’re just like, moving with the music and it’s as easy as breathing
waking up early and not being tired
murder, she wrote
those people that you’ve never been particularly close to, but who are kind of just simpatico--like you’ll never be great friends but you’ll always be great at being friends
workout gear, god, i’m such a sucker for workout gear
amazon prime can deliver to you in under an hour!!!!! and i know it’s bad, i know amazon is bad, but we are truly living in the future
realizing that you’re not angry about something anymore
papa john’s garlic breadsticks that will definitely, definitely give me heart problems but are so worth it
a really satisfying zit pop
the billy gilman christmas album
massages when the masseuse just turns on like enya or whatever and makes all your problems disappear
the way the world looks when the sun sets and when it rises
money!!!!! i love money. i want more money all the time. anyone who tells you they don’t care about money is either lying to you or already has enough that their hunger is sated.
rain on the weekend, when you can stay in and drink hot drinks and read and light scented candles and never get out of your slippers
someone playing with my hair
finally getting to pee after holding it for way too long
the smell of cigarettes a few hours after someone has put their cigarette out, so the smell has gone soft and gentle
an exclamation point drawn next to something i’ve written because somebody has loved it and wanted me to know
climbing on big rocks next to water, i feel like there’s a word for those but i don’t know it
“ain’t no mountain high enough” (the marvin gaye and tammi terrell version but of course also all versions)
airplane wifi!!! how cool is that!!! how does it work that high up!!!!
remember that internet post of the guy who wanted to buy a size 14 slipper but they accidentally sent him a 14-foot slipper?
country songs about women murdering their abusers
we don’t have to turn our phones off on planes anymore
the whistle of a text from someone i didn’t think still thought about me
when the ice cream truck gives out free choco tacos
quick-dry nail polish that doesn’t chip
when people sitting in chairs are trying not to fall asleep so their head keeps falling and startling them awake
perfectly popped popcorn so there is only like 2 or 3 unpopped kernels
drinking a bottle of red wine with people who can make me laugh
stepping off a plane on a place i’ve never been
dancing in my apartment, which is the only place i can truly unleash my dance talent
playing music with my brother at my mom’s house
jumping a gymnastics line, which is a horse thing i don’t know how to explain to people who don’t already know what it is
watching the penguins win in pittsburgh
actually, watching the penguins win anywhere, including from the comfort of my own home
remember how we won the stanley cup 2 years in a row???? me too, it was great
videos of soldiers coming home and surprising their families, which i know are designed to make me cry as part of the military-industrial complex, but whatever, it works every time
nailing my eyeliner
finishing a crossword, especially the nyt sunday crossword, which is almost impossible to finish so when you do everyone in your life must bow down to you and call you queen of crosswords for the rest of the day
getting surprise packages in the mail, usually books, usually from my aunt
warm laundry piles
that show on netflix about unlikely animal friends
hot sauce, in general but specifically on a salmon and dill quiche
laughing so hard my stomach hurts
this one specific salad from my favorite restaurant in buenos aires, called felicidad (the restaurant not the salad, though it would have been an appropriate name for the salad, too), which was grilled vegetables and goat cheese and this special homemade dressing they refused to give me the recipe for even though i promised i wouldn’t tell anybody
cityscapes at night
the countryside at night, when you’re far enough away from everything that you can see what feels like the whole universe
mountains! mountains! mountains!
magic mike xxl
a good cry, the kind where like, something not that bad happens but your brain just decides that it’s time for you to totally lose it and loudly wail on your couch for a little while until you’re sleepy enough to curl up and fall asleep under the faux snow leopard blanket your friend you call egg made
the faux snow leopard blanket my friend i call egg made
whole pints of ice cream, especially freddo, especially freddo that has been delivered fresh to my door, which is a thing that can happen for you in argentina
having the perfect return zinger in a battle of wit
when you hug somebody and they pick you up and swing you around
big parties with music and dancing and long dresses
biking to work when the wind is going my way and there aren’t too many other commuters
everything bagels with just the right amount of cream cheese
chicago’s lincoln park nature walk
making friends with cashiers and waiters and tsa agents and taxi drivers and the other people it takes no effort to talk to but are always so sweet and kind
when someone comes through for you that you didn’t expect would care enough to come through
the smell of a tack room
vintage travel trunks
1010, even though it’s just low-stakes tetris, a game that is already very low stakes
taking a bath in my mom’s jacuzzi
doing a good job on a project at work and seeing it all come together
bullet points, just like, as a concept
words that can’t be neatly translated from one language to another
a really good novel, but also
a really good nonfiction book about basically anything though right now i’m really into art theft
oh!!!! art museums!!!!
writing papers about books and their subtexts
northerly island in the summer when the geese are on the water and it’s quiet and i’m the only one there and you can’t see the city
creating an elaborate self-insert fantasy about my character in zombies, run
floating in a pool on a sunny day while there’s music playing and someone keeps refilling my drinks and feeding me spicy shrimp appetizers
that sushi place in chicago where all the sushi is $2.50
the subscription economy
when politicians surprise you, pleasantly
good hair days
driving over a hill just a little too fast so your stomach drops
driving on the back roads in virginia, which are all winding and tree-covered and beautiful and don’t have speed limits
going to the movies
you know when you walk through the front door and a dog is excited to see you?
dresses of all styles, but especially the ones that make you look like a literal hourglass
my pittsburgh penguins toaster that burns the logo into my bread
taking a long walk and talking on the phone
racerback tank tops (END THE HEGEMONY OF T-SHIRTS)
the feeling you get when you’re riding on a bus or in a car or on a train at night and you’re going home and the day has been busy and good and your playlist is slow but not sad and your heart feels so so so full
days of the week underwear, especially the stella mccartney ones that i can’t afford and wouldn’t buy even if i could because who needs to spend $250 on an underwear set?! that’s insane. i’m against it. but!!! i like that they exist. they’re very pretty.
the view of chicago you get when you ride the pink line to pilsen
when my form is perfect doing a roundhouse kick in krav maga and i get that really satisfying bam sound when i hit the mat
perfume that smells like orchids
coming through for somebody you weren’t sure you’d be able to come through for
when i tell a story at a party and all the surrounding groups fall quiet to listen even though i was only talking to a few people
late night with seth meyers
drawn-out fantasies of winning arguments while i’m taking a shower
having my back scratched
meeting someone very briefly, like on a bus or in a bookstore, and flirting with them, and weaving an entire fantasy relationship and life with them that you have no plans to pursue it’s just like, a nice thing to think about
that this blog exists
that you read it
that you clicked on it at all
i love you,
stay good, moonbirds.
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A tale written with fangs and claws || Chapter 2
Fandom: Teen Wolf (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Liam Dunbar/Theo Raeken
Characters: Liam Dunbar, Theo Raeken
Additional Tags: Alpha Liam Dunbar, Slow Build, Friends to Lovers, Dunbar Pack, Bisexual Liam Dunbar, Werewolf Theo Raeken, Alpha Theo Raeken
Series: Part 1 of Morning Dew Pack
Theo and Liam go on a weekend trip to relax and just recharge their batteries after a stressful year at Seattle. And that's how it all started in the end.
Liam leaned back in the passenger seat and watched the street in front of them. It was a bright sunny day without a cloud in the blue sky and incredibly warm. Perfect weather for a weekend trip, they were really lucky.
After settling into their apartment and making themselves a home in Seattle, life had been busy. University was demanding and even though Liam and Theo liked it, it was different than high school and took more time to get used to. And then they both got jobs aside from college to have some money for themselves and not have Liam’s parents pay literally everything. Liam also became part of the lacrosse team, only to realize how bad they were. They didn’t have a coach, to begin with, and most members could be good at the sports but since they lost every match they clearly lacked motivation. Shortly after starting lacrosse, they voted Liam as captain since he clearly had the most passion for it, and now it was Liam’s task to coordinate his team members and manage training and games. Plus they also kept in touch with the other pack members and even managed to visit Corey and Mason once. Liam missed his pack but after almost a year of living in Seattle, the pain had dulled and he became better at coping with it.
Now he and Theo were on their way to a small cabin near a lake. It wasn’t far from Seattle but they both needed some time to just relax and catch their breath. Both of their classes were only starting on Wednesday next week, giving them four full days off.
“What’s the first you’re going to do when we’re there?” Liam asked and Theo shrugged, eyes never leaving the road.
“I don’t know yet. Settle in a bit and see what goes from there. Why? Do you have a plan? That would be a first.” He teased Liam and Liam swatted his leg. “Don’t hit the driver!” Theo scolded playfully, making Liam laugh.
“Instead of complaining, you should make sure you don’t miss the road to the park, Mr. Driver.” He mocked and Theo simply snorted.
“I know what I’m doing, little Beta!”
“Keep telling yourself that!”
Liam grinned and looked out of the window again, enjoying to see the trees flew by. They reached their goal after a while and Theo pulled from the main road into a smaller one leading right towards the lake you could already see in the distance. The cabin they were heading to belonged to a small park with various cabins scattered around the lake.
“First step?” Theo asked and Liam pulled out his phone to check his mails. Theo usually was the planner out of the two of them but he had been swamped with assignments and work and so Liam decided to plan their trip after Theo had suggested it.
“We have to gather the keys from the park manager at the reception. The office should be right at the beginning of the park.” Liam looked up from his phone and pointed ahead. “Over there!”
Theo followed his direction and soon parked in front of the cabin. A sign claiming this was indeed the office was affixed right next to the entrance door. The door was open to get in some fresh air and you could see a reception desk inside. Liam unbuckled and open the passenger door. “I’ll go and get the keys.”
With that, he got out of the car and walked into the office. Behind the reception desk were two desks littered with papers and various other office items as well as a computer on each desk. On the right side of the wall behind the reception was a board with various hooks, some with keys on them, some without and each hook with its own number above. Behind the desks were two offices Liam could also see desks in.
“Hello?” He called out and soon a woman emerged from one of the offices in the back.
“Welcome.” She said with a warm smile. She had her black hair tied back with a bandana and wore beige jeans as well as a red shirt and white sneakers. It matched perfectly with her tanned skin. Her brown eyes were awake and sharp but also very warm and welcoming.
“Mrs. Fairclay? I’m Liam Dunbar, my friend and I rented a cabin for the long weekend.” Liam politely introduced himself and her smile turned even warmer. Now that she was close Liam could see she was an elderly woman with a few wrinkles on her face and some gray strands in her hair but at the same time she was full of energy and gave off the impression that she seriously could kick your ass. She was like Mrs. McCall, just older.
“Ah right, I remember. You rented cabin number seven.” She chirped and then grabbed a folder from underneath the reception desk before grabbing a key from the board. “I just need you to sig here. You already paid in advance, so just sign to confirm you read and accept the park rules.”
She put some documents in front of Liam and he grabbed a pen, eyes fitting over the pages and then signed it. The rules were simple and common. No wildfires, no disturbing other guests, respecting the nature and keep an eye on your things. There were some wild animals around, Liam knew, but he doubted they would come close to the cabins.
After handing the documents over again he received the keys and Mrs. Fairclay told him how to get to their cabin. “If you need anything, the number of the reception is right next to the phone in your cabin. Don’t hesitate to call.” She smiled once more and Liam felt himself returning the smile. “I wish you and your friend a nice stay, Mr. Dunbar.”
“Please, call me Liam. I’m only nineteen-years-old, I’m too young to be Mr. Dunbar.”
She laughed and then held out her hand for him to shake. “Okay, Liam, in that case, I’m Lana.” She replied and Liam laughed before shaking her hand. “Nice to meet you.”
He looked around after that. “So, any tips for being around? Things we need to check off our list?” He inquired and Lana shrugged.
“Just relax, find some peace, do whatever your heart desires. It’s a very calm surrounding and yet so full of life and possibilities. You will find more than enough to enjoy your time here. Especially our kind enjoys being here.”
Liam frowned. “Our kind?” He asked and narrowed his eyes slightly. All the things he had been through made him suspicious if someone said something like that.
But Lana kept her comforting smile and then her eyes flashed gold. “I know who you are. Liam Dunbar, first bitten beta of the True Alpha Scott McCall. The story of your pack traveled far and even reached us here. Besides, I smell you being a wolf.”
Liam’s shoulders relaxed, he had instantly moved into some kind of defensive stance when she started talking but when she explained she didn’t seem hostile. And he knew many had heard about Scott McCall and to the extent, they also heard about Liam. “So you’re part of the pack living around here?” He inquired, curious about the other werewolf.
Lana smiled with a fond look on her face. “I am. My husband’s the Alpha. Though our pack is very different from yours, that much I admit. You surely will meet some members of the pack during your stay here. Don’t worry, they are all peaceful and open.”
“Amazing.” Liam liked meeting other werewolves and as long as they were nice towards him and his pack, he had no problem with exchanging stories. It would be nice to meet a whole new pack, he had to admit.
“I should better get going, Theo’s waiting. See you around. And thank you.” He then said and Lana nodded. Liam left the office and walked back to Theo’s truck. Theo was playing on his phone and merely glanced up when Liam opened the door and got into the car again.
“The receptionist is a werewolf and her husband is the Alpha.” Liam announced cheerfully and dangled the keys. “We have cabin number seven, this way.”
Theo stared at him. “You just wanted to get the keys. How do you go from getting them to realizing she’s a werewolf and her husband’s the Alpha?”
Liam shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. “She told me. We talked. Her name is Lana. She’s nice.”
Theo laughed and started the car engine. “You make friends everywhere, huh? You’re like a puppy, everybody just loves you.”
“I’m not a puppy!” Liam protested, causing Theo to scoff.
“You are, trust me. A little human puppy.”
Liam growled playfully and Theo laughed again. “if you do that, you sound even more like a puppy.”
“I hate you.”
“No, you don’t.” Theo said cheerfully. “Now, show me the way, puppy.”
Liam pointed him into the directions and soon they arrived at their designated cabin. It was a nice building with light wood and a red roof. Liam instantly liked it. He could see the lake behind the cabin and when he climbed out of the car, he took a sniff off the fresh air. Traces of pine and cedar mingled with the sweet smell of flowers and well...summer. Those were going to be four amazing days.
“Unpack and then walk to the lake? Maybe go for a swim?” He suggested while Theo grabbed their bags from the truck bed and handed Liam his own. Liam took it and since he had the keys he was the first to walk to the front door and unlock it.
Upon entering the cabin, the young Beta whistled, impressed by what he saw. The whole interior was kept in bright and warm colors and the sun was shining through the big windows. There were two floors, the ground floor completely covered by the open kitchen and living room with a big table to sit and eat or play some board games or whatever and three couches arranged so they were pointing at the tv. A door led to a small porch with a barbecue area and some chairs as well a rounded table. The lake was even closer now and you had a perfect view over the lake and the surrounding woods. Across the entrance, stairs were leading up to what Liam assumed were the bedrooms and bathroom.
“That was the best idea you ever had, T.” Liam breathed out and beamed at his friend. Theo had looked around as well and now faced Liam, also smiling brightly. The open and honest smile Liam loved so much. It made Theo’s eyes sparkle and Liam had to suppress a sigh. Theo smiling like that made him look even more gorgeous than usually and it always made Liam’s heart skip a beat. Theo had never noticed which Liam was really grateful about.
Theo now stepped closer to one of the big windows and looked outside. “Love the view.” He muttered and Liam had to agree. It was spectacular. Making his way up the stairs, the younger of the two of them already felt himself relaxing. Being surrounded by this beautiful and calm place and the sun shining brightly made him feel happy and carefree. Exactly what he needed after the last few months.
Upstairs were two bedrooms and bathrooms, just like Liam had expected. One master bedroom with a kingsize bed and another one with two separate smaller beds. Liam raised a challenging eyebrow at Theo who had followed him upstairs and Theo rolled his eyes but smirked and threw his bag on one of the two beds.
“Liam tsked. “Always so chaotic.” He teased.
Theo gave him a once over. “I live with you, sweetheart. You’re worse than me.”
“Aw, the pet names are coming again. Love you too, sweetie.”
They both needed this banter, it was an essential part of their friendship. Bicker all the time like an old married couple (according to Corey) but during a fight, they were completely in sync and lethal. They trusted each other completely and blindly, because they both knew, despite them both claiming otherwise once, they would die for each other.
Theo now sighed. “Why do I keep you around?”
“Because you love me!” Liam stated and winked at the chimera before throwing his bag on the second bed. “Come on, I want to go to the lake.”
“What happened to unpack?” Theo asked but Liam was already halfway down the stairs. Theo soon followed suit.
They took the small path over the porch and then towards the lake and soon reached a small jetty reaching into the water. The lake had looked smaller from the distance but now that they were there, Liam noticed it was quite large. He could see some other cabins around, heard some children play in the distance and he inhaled the fresh air deeply.
“I love Seattle but this fresh air is amazing.”
Theo next to him made an agreeing sound and then kneeled down to dip his hand in the water.
“Nice temperature, not too hot or too cold.” he stated and glanced up at Liam. The young Beta also kneeled down next to him.
“Perfect to swim, huh?” He inquired, eyes fixed on the water and only when he glanced at Theo he noticed how close him and Theo really were. It made his heart jump in his chest. Theo didn’t make any attempt to pull away and they just looked into each other’s eyed for a while. How did a simple walk to the lake turn into sparks flying all of sudden?
A howl coming from the woods startled them and their heads snapped into the direction of the sound. “Was that...?” Liam started.
“A wolf? Yeah. It was a happy howl though.” Theo confirmed. Curiously Liam looked at the older man.
“How do you know that?”
“It has something with the sound colors. A happy howl is higher than a pained or angry growl. I learned it during my time with the Dread Doctors.” Theo explained and Liam remembered Theo could shift. He probably learned more from actual wolves than Liam had known.
“It’s cool you know such things.” He admired Theo’s wide range of knowledge. Mason was eager to learn and he did know a lot already but Theo was also incredibly smart and Liam really, really liked that about his friend. Knowledge was kind of sexy and Liam knew how that sounded but it was true. Theo now smiled at him, a happy smile again. Hearing Liam liking what he had to say and adored his knowledge was always making him happy and proud.
“Was it a real wolf? Can you hear that too?”
But Theo shook his head. “Sometimes. Not right now. If a werewolf has experience with howling and shifting, doesn’ even has to be a full shift, it’s hard to tell.”
Liam nodded, he understood that. It was still pretty cool.
Theo let his hand still glide through the water and Liam decided to take off his shoes and dip his feet into the water. It was really refreshing; Theo soon followed his example and the two friends sat next to each other on the jetty, watching their surroundings.
“I always liked the woods. They were mysterious and cool and as a child, I thought this was where the fairies lived. Then I grew older and liked to run in them but then I got bitten and suddenly the woods became scary and full of danger.” Liam suddenly said while surveying the woods around them. He saw Theo turning his head towards Liam from the corner of his eyes but he kept looking ahead. “But this here? I really like it. This is peaceful.”
“Because you get older, And suddenly the monsters you see everywhere turn out to be just trees. Don’t get me wrong, there are still enough monsters lurking in the shadows, but as you get older you diversify between real danger and what your mind makes up. It’s still amazing that you can see the beauty. That’s what makes you Liam. You always have this optimistic streak.”
“And you can’t see the beauty?” Liam asked and barked out a laugh. “I certainly do not have an optimistic streak, not always at least.”
“I can see the beauty too, yeah.” Theo said and Liam was too focused on the woods in front of him to notice that Theo was looking at him instead at the woods. Then he gave Liam a look that clearly said he wasn’t buying it. “Uh uh, but you have...puppy!”
“Theodore!” Liam yelled in fake anger but then started laughing. Goofing and joking around with Theo was what he loved.
“Don’t call me that, puppy!” Theo teased back with a laugh on his own. Liam grinned. “But I like calling you that” He mocked the older and instantly regretted it when Theo lunged at him and and started to tickle him. Liam yelped and then struggled to free himself from this vicious attack.
“Theo, no! Theo, stop! Stop! Stop it! Please!” He begged while laughing so hard tears were streaming down his face. He was ticklish and Theo the fucker knew it.
Theo let go of him after a while and Liam scrambled away from him. “I hate you so much.” He panted and Theo just smirked, proudly at that. Liam rolled his eyes and then shoved Theo’s shoulder. The chimera had obviously not expected that, lost his balance and toppled over the jetty and into the water. Liam was shocked for all of five seconds, then he burst out laughing, rolling on the jitty and held his stomach. It took him some time to actually move to the edge and check on his friend. Theo had surfaced again and was sputtering right now, apparently needing a moment to overcome the shock of being pushed into the water.
When he finally did, however, he glared at Liam. “You are aware that means war, right?” He asked, eyes narrowing, but Liam could not help and chuckle. The threat held a lot less venom when it was uttered by someone who looked like a drowned rat. Theo growled and then splashed water at Liam, effectively hitting him in the face and laughing at this. Liam squeaked in surprise and thus the water fight started.
They were lounging on the porch of their cabin, watching the sun slowly setting over the lake. After their childish and entertaining water fight that ended with Theo pulling Liam into the water as well, they had returned to the cabin, soaking wet but laughing all the time, and had taken a shower and changed into dry clothes before finally unpacking and then checking the kitchen, finding it fully stocked. They really cared about their guests here.
They had just fixed themselves two sandwiches and ate on the porch, sitting at the round table and enjoying the view. The sky was tinting pink and Liam had never felt more eat peace than now. He could have stayed here forever if he was being honest.
“I really like it here.” Theo muttered in this very moment, toying with the strings of his hoodie and Liam smiled.
“Me too.” He agreed with his friend. And there was no one else he would rather be there with than Theo. His presence did a lot to Liam feeling so calm and collected. Just like an anchor should.
A knock on the front door made the friends turn their heads and Theo frowned before Liam shrugged. The chimera got up from his seat and shuffled into the cabin to answer the door. When he opened it, he was greeted with Lana smiling at him. She had shed her bandana and now her hair was in a loose side ponytail. She was still wearing her clothes from earlier but now she had added a black jeans jacket.
“You must be Theo. Hello, I’m Lana.” She introduced herself to him and held out her hand for him to shake. Theo took the hand and shook it. “Nice to meet you, Lana.”
Liam had gotten up too and closed the door to the porch behind him when he walked into the cabin and over to them. “Are you checking on us to see if the cabin is still standing?” He joked and Lana laughed.
“No, we trust you with that. My husband would have already shown up otherwise.”
“Liam said he’s the Alpha of the local pack.” Theo remembered and again Lana got a fond look on her face when she nodded.
“He is. Speaking of, we would like you to invite you over to our cabin for a small BBQ. I tend to prepare way too much food for just two people and we thought it would be nice to chat with you. Don’t feel pressured to say yes, it’s just an invitation.”
Liam and Theo looked at each other when she ended. They had eaten just a few sandwiches and Liam would lie if he said the thought of a BBQ didn’t make his mouth water. Theo seemed to think the same way because he nodded softly. “We would love to, Lana. Thank you so much.” Liam accepted on behalf of both of them and smiled gratefully at Lana. She rejoiced.
“Perfect. Just follow me.”
Liam grabbed the keys and then the followed Lana, locking the door in the progress.
Their way to the cabin of Lana and her husband was quick and Liam realized it was the first one he had noticed upon arriving. It was bigger than theirs but looked just as cozy from the outside, lamps illuminating the path to the front door but Lana led them around the cabin.
Behind the cabin was a bigger barbecue area illuminated by Chinese lanterns in between the trees. A big table was right in the middle of the area, near a big grill which was already fired up but sans food. Right when they arrived a tall man with dark hair and broad shoulders stepped out of the cabin and when he saw Lana, his face lit up with a loving smile. Liam could not help but smile too when he saw the couple embracing and him nuzzling his wife’s cheek. When he looked over at Theo he also saw the small smile playing around the corner of his mouth. Even after all those years, the chimera was open about his feeling to Liam but when it came to other people, he still was distant.
Lana’s husband now stepped closer to the two young men and extended his hand. “Welcome, I’m very happy you decided to accept our invitation. My name is Byron.” His voice was soft and there were laughter lines in the corner of his eyes. His dark hair had some gray streaks too Liam noticed now and his grey eyes were watching their every move without making it look hostile. Even without him greeting Lana like that, Liam would have known he was the Alpha. There was something about the way he held himself and despite his words being spoken softly, Liam was sure the guy, just like his wife, could kick ass. he just had this quiet authority that told you, you were a fool if going against him. He shook Byron’s calloused hand. The man must be working a lot with his hands and Liam figured working at the park brought that with it. It was probably also the reason Byron was so tanned.
“Sit down, sit down, want something to drink? I would offer you a beer but I know Liam’s nineteen. How old are you?” Lana asked Theo. “I’m twenty-one.” He replied and then shrugged. “A coke is fine, right, Lee?”
Liam nodded. “Totally fine.” He agreed wand moved towards the table to sit down next to Theo when Byron indicated for them to do so. Byron was putting some meat on the grill, then he joined them. Lana came out of the house, carrying their drinks and then finally settled next to her husband. Instantly his hand moved to hers and they laced their fingers together. Liam had to smile, he loved small gestures like that.
“Thank you for inviting us.” Theo now said and Liam nodded along. “Yeah, it’s really nice.”
“You’re welcome. Lana told me how nice you were when you picked up the keys and so I wanted to meet you too.” Byron chuckled. “I was also curious to meet two members of the McCall Pack.”
Theo moved a bit in his seat. “Liam’s a member of the pack, I’m just an ally.” He stated softly and Liam’s head snapped around to look at him. “What?” Theo said with a shrug. “That’s a fact. I’m always an ally but not an actual member of Scott’s pack.”
“Yeah, but...” Liam bit his lip and thought about it. “You’re part of my pack, the puppy pack.”
“Yeah, okay.” Theo agreed and sipped his coke. “We’ll discuss the name later.” He then added and winked at Liam who huffed.
“That’s what I put up with every day!” He acted like it was the biggest chore to do so when he now complained to Lana and Byron. He and Theo were so used to their banter, they often involved others as well because they saw no problem with joking and teasing around. Lana and Byron laughed, hinting they got the joke.
“You have your own pack?” Lana now asked Liam and he actually blushed.
“No. I mean yeah...kind of...not really. I took over when Scott graduated and left town for a while. Basically as Substitute Alpha if you want to call it that. Me and my friends, we’re the younger members and so we had to stay and graduate.”
“Fight off hunters and the Anuk-ite.” Theo added and Liam had to agree with that.
Byron scratched his chin. “We heard what your pack did, all of it. We heard about the whole town hunting you for what you are. It’s astonishing you all made it out alive.” He told them and Liam and Theo hunched their shoulders.
“Would have been even better if a few more people survived.” Theo finally muttered. Brett, Lori, the deputy, even Gabe. Liam looked over to Theo and offered a soft compassionate smile. Theo returned it and reached over to squeeze Liam’s arm. They were so focused on each other, they missed the knowing look Lana and Byron shared.
“The sad truth is, loss is an essential part of life. The question is what you learn from it.” Byron shared his insight, making Theo and Liam snap out of their little bubble and look at him again. “And sometimes loss creates something better, something that wouldn’t have been possible before.”
Liam smiled and glanced at Theo again. Without Gabe dying the rest of the pack would have never seen how much Theo had changed. They would have never realized he wasn’t the bad guy anymore.
“Yeah, sometimes it creates something even better. A friendship, for example.” Liam agreed and Theo looked at him with a soft smile. A smile that was only reserved for Liam, that much Liam knew.
Byron chuckled. “That’s what I’m talking about. Loss, even though it always hurts, isn’t always just bad. It just takes time for someone to realize that.”
Liam knew he was right. It was part of growing up, he had learned this very early in his life. Hurt and pain and loss belonged to life, especially to their life. But he tried to focus more on the positive aspects and look ahead instead of dwelling on what they have lost.
Taking a sip from his drink, Liam leaned back in his chair. “Anyway, after it got quieter and calmer, we were able to finish school and be somewhat normal teenagers while the older pack members were trying to live their life outside of Beacon Hills. My best friend Mason started to refer to us as pack and me as Alpha. But I’m not. An Alpha I mean.”
“Because you don’t have red eyes?” Lana guessed and Liam shrugged. Byron got up to tend to the meat on the grill and made a doubtful sound.
“There is so much more to an Alpha than just the color of his eyes, Liam. The way they act, the way they talk, the way they treat their Betas. The way they treat others.” He summed it up. “And just like every pack, every Alpha is different. Our pack, for example, is so different than yours too.” He said thoughtfully and flipped the burgers and the steaks.
“Yeah, you said that too earlier, Lana.” Liam remembered. “What do you mean by that? Isn’t every pack determined by hierarchy?”
Lana shook her head. “You are right and you are wrong. Right because yes, there are Alphas and Betas. But even an Alpha can be a beta to some extent.” She started to explain.
“See the Alpha pack.” Theo supplied helpfully and Lana nodded her head and pointed at him. “Exactly. They all were Alphas and yet Deucalion was their Alpha. So, you see, even the hierarchy can change and be not as outlined as it is in theory. And like Byron said, it all depends on the Alpha. How they treat their pack is how the pack acts and how they treat them in the end.”
”And what kind of Alpha are you?“ Theo asked Byron and the Alpha chuckled while sitting down at the table again.
“A respectful one, at least I hope so.” He said amusedly and Lana looked at her husband with a look full of love.
“You are.” She confirmed and leaned in to kiss him softly. Byron smiled at that and Liam admitted it was cute how in love they still were.
“See, I believe that even though I’m the Alpha, my Betas have their own lives and I have no right to just interfere, not completely at least. I protect them, I give them advice, but in the end, I let them do whatever feels right for them. I don’t barge into their houses like it’s my right to do so. I saw other Alphas do it and I never liked it. I respect their boundaries and it’s my opinion that an Alpha needs to do just that in order to be a good Alpha. I try to give my Betas the feeling we see eye to eye and it’s rare I use my Alpha authority to reign them in. Sometimes it’s needed but I intend not to do it if I have a choice. Other Alphas choose a more rough approach to make their Betas know who calls the shots. That’s up to every Alpha to decide. In some ways, it’s like being a parent. There are many ways to raise your children and you need to figure out what’s the best way for you.”
When Byron ended, Lana spoke up. “I can only say this much: I’ve never been an Alpha myself but I’m an Alpha’s mate and so I know a thing or two. And I learned that if an Alpha respects their Betas, the Betas are loyal, no matter what. I’m not saying they don’t speak their mind and cower but I’m saying that even if another Alpha demands their obedience, they will stay true to their Alpha. And that’s one of the strongest bonds an Alpha and a Beta can have.”
Liam considered that. What they said was true and he especially liked the image of the Alpha being a parent. He always had considered Scott more like a big brother and he had tried to be like the older one. The thing was, Scott was a True Alpha, and no matter what he did Liam never felt like he was righteous and as ethical as Scott. It had put a bummer on Liam’s mood whenever something happened.
Registering what Lana had said in the beginning, Liam now scrunched his nose in confusion. “What’s an Alpha’s mate?” He asked. The term was unfamiliar to him; he couldn’t remember ever hearing Scott mention those words.
Byron and Lana shared a look. “They’re probably too young.” She said to her husband and Byron shrugged. “Too young to be mated probably but not to know about mates.”
He turned his attention back to Liam and Theo. “Mates are an actual thing for werewolves. It’s a connection between a couple far deeper than anything you ever felt or saw. It runs deep into your bones and it ties you to another person forever. You belong to this person and they belong to you. You claim them and if you do, they become a part of your soul.”
“I remember coming across this one.” Theo suddenly said. “I thought it was just a lore.”
“It’s not, it’s real and the most powerful bond ever.” Lana squeezed Byron’s hand and he raised it to his lips and kissed her hand. “The decision to become mates was huge for us but I never regretted it. He’s mine as much as I am his and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am proud to carry his mating bite.”
“And I am proud to call this beautiful and strong woman my mate.”
Liam could not help but adore this. Seeing something like this really made his heart melt. He never experienced a love that deep and pure and devoted. They were basically glowing and it was obvious these two would tear the world apart for each other if needed to. Peaceful or not, this love was stronger than anything.
He glanced at Theo and this time Theo’s smile wasn’t faint but real as he watched the mated couple. Maybe he wished for the same thing as Liam, to find a love that strong and pure for himself. Liam really hoped one day Theo would find the person to see how amazing he really was and loved him like he deserved it.
“Being mated sounds like a very deep and meaningful thing.” The chimera now stated and Byron nodded.
“It’s a big responsibility because if your mate dies, a part of your soul dies too. So you protect them at all cost. It’s definitively worth it.”
He got up again and finally served the meat to his guests. Soon they all had a plate in front of them with either burgers or steaks.
Liam tasted the steak and moaned. “God, this is delicious, Lana.” He muttered and she beamed at him. Theo next to him made a sound of agreement. “It’s really delicious.” And Lana beamed at him too. Byron looked exceptional proud of his mate and ate happily. They all fell into an easy conversation while eating; it was nice to talk with two other werewolves. Liam knew their pack was unusual, they were still so young, so talking with two born werewolves with lots of experience gave him the possibility to learn from them.
“Mind telling us something about your pack?” He asked after a while and grabbed his coke to drink from it while waiting for an answer from Lana or Byron.
“Well, I don’t know if you ever heard the name before, but we are referred as the Morning Dew Pack, because of the way nature around looks every morning. You will see tomorrow. We are very involved with nature around, part of our strength comes from being in the woods and our strong ties with nature. We are peaceful, never actively searching out the fight but defending ourselves if we have to. We believe that everyone can be part of the pack if they want to and we believe in protecting and cherishing. It served us well all this time. Our young wolves are being taught the harmony between the inner wolf and the human side. Only if you find the balance you can reach your full potential. I don’t know if that makes us different than any other pack. What makes us different for sure is how we choose our Alphas.”
“You choose your Alphas? How does that work?” Theo asked surprised, voicing Liam’s exact thoughts.
Byron rumbled out an amused chuckle. “You heard about the different way to become an Alpha, right? One by birthright when the Alpha dies and you are next in line. Then you can become an Alpha by killing one. Alpha by conquest is another way. The pack treats you like an Alpha, you act like an Alpha, so one day the Alpha spark lights up inside you. And then there’s our way. See, we are peaceful, we don’t believe you should become a leader by simply being stronger than the current Alpha or just being born into the right family. We believe that an Alpha needs certain traits and values to be a suitable leader. And that’s why the Alpha pays close attention to every member of the pack. They watch how the pack develops, how each member develops. And when it’s finally time the Alpha gets too old and too weak, they decide on a successor. It doesn't matter if the successor is the Alpha’s child or somebody else, maybe the successor wasn’t even part of the pack from the beginning but the Alpha sees the values in them. If the Alpha deems them worthy, they ask the successor to accept the Alpha power and if they do accept, a ritual is held and the Alpha spark gets transferred from the old Alpha to the new one.”
“I distinctly remember Stiles saying something about Derek giving up his Alpha spark to save his sister. That’s basically the same thing, right?” Liam asked and Byron nodded.
“Transferring power, yeah. It’s just a different ritual.”
That made sense and Liam sipped his coke, pending on what he had learned. There were still so many things he didn’t know about being a werewolf. Next to being a True Alpha, this seemed like one of the most honorable ways to gain Alpha status.
“Is there a special time when the successor gets chosen?” Theo inquired after a few moments of silence. He was obviously just as eager as Liam to learn about this uncommon way to become an Alpha.
“Whenever the current Alpha feels like they are too old or don’t do the pack justice anymore. I, for example, am looking for a successor right now.”
“What? You’re not that old!” Leave it to Liam to blurt out such a statement. Theo looked highly amused when he looked at Liam and couldn’t suppress his chuckle before drinking from his coke. Liam hunched his shoulder in embarrassment.
But Byron threw his head back and laughed loudly. “You say what’s on your mind, I like that.” He said after a while of just laughing. “It’s a good trait to have. But I am too old to be the best Alpha this pack deserves.” He sighed. “It’s just not really easy finding somebody to take my place.”
“But if it’s common in your pack to chose the next Alpha, shouldn’t the successors lining up and trying to give off their best impressions?” Theo questioned and it was Lana who took over from her husband when she replied.
“Yes, that was the case for many years. But nowadays the younger wolves moved away to find work in the cities. They mostly leave forever. Jobs around here are rare and I understand young people want to see the world. They start their own packs or join others and so the ones we have here are either too old themselves or just children. The few pack members in the right age don’t want to take over and we accept that. We never force anybody; we ask and if they say No, that’s okay. But since we don’t have children ourselves finding a successor is difficult.”
“As long as I don’t find anybody, I’ll stay the Alpha, but I would like to retreat and live the rest of my life as Beta if I have the choice.” Byron confessed and Liam understood that. Being a Beta was far less demanding than being an Alpha. He was aware Scott had a lot on his shoulders too. Being an Alpha wasn’t something Liam pictured as easy. He had struggled as well when Scott had been out of town so he could relate on some level.
“I hope you find the right successor to keep your legacy.” He said with an honest smile.
Byron returned the smile. “Thank you, Liam.”
Liam softly pulled the front door shut behind him to not wake Theo up. He had woken up really early, still in his rhythm from college, and had not been able to sleep again. Theo still slept peacefully in the bed across the room and Liam had gotten up after a while, changed into basketball shorts and a tank top, put on his running shoes and decided to go for a run before preparing breakfast them.
Now outside he inhaled the fresh air again, closing his eyes for a second, and then opening them again to start jogging towards the lake. He had just passed the cabin of Byron and Lana, when Byron appeared next to him, also in running gear.
“A morning jog is always a good way to start the day. Good thing you young people see it like that too.” He greeted Liam with a smile and Liam returned it.
“Best running course?” He inquired and Byron made a motion with his hand before jogging into a direction, so Liam followed him.
They jogged away from the lake and up a hill, leading directly into the woods. Liam was fit, he had a good condition, but it was commonly known Alphas had the better stamina. So after a while of keeping up with Byron, he felt himself falling back and finally he came to a halt.
“You’re really good at keeping up.” Byron praised when he had stopped too and walked back to Liam.
Liam grimaced. “I still fell back.”
“Because you don’t use your full potential. You are strong, stronger than most Betas, and yet you still hold yourself back.” Byron said matter-of-factly.
Liam sighed deeply. “I have to hold myself back. I have anger issues. If I let my IED run freely, my wolf would probably kill someone.” There was something about Byron that made it impossible for Liam to lie. He trusted the elderly Alpha.
“Now you’re focusing on one aspect of the wolf. The force, the strength. But there is so much more.”
He made a few steps until he reached a small clearing and then waved Liam over. Liam followed, even though he had o idea what was going to happen next.
“Kneel and put the palm of your hand on the ground.” Byron instructed and kneeled down himself. Liam did the same and extended his hand, putting it on the ground,
“Good. Now close your eyes and tell me what you hear.”
Scott had tried to make Liam do exercises like this often but Liam always grew impatient after a while and failed them. “I’m not good at this, Byron. I’m too impatient for this.” He warned in advance.
“Just do it, Liam. And stop selling yourself short. You can do more than you may know.”
Liam sighed again but then he decided to go with it for once. So he closed his eyes.
“I hear birds. The wind in the tree crowns.” He announced after a while.
“That’s what you know you hear but it’s not what you hear.” Byron replied cryptically and Liam frowned, opening his blue eyes again. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
The Alpha chuckled and took a small rock from the ground. “This rock for example. You know rocks are grey so you will tell me the rock is grey. And you are right but if you take a closer look and just really go for what you see, you will realize the rock’s not just grey. See? It’s green where the moss is growing on the side. And those little brown dots here? They even appear yellow in the direct sunlight.” He turned the rock in his hands to show Liam what he was talking about. “You see the way the sun falls on the rock and creates patterns of shadow and light. How it looks slightly blue in the right light.” Liam had to agree, there was far more than just grey.
“It’s the same with the hearing. What your brain knows you hear and what you really hear are two different things. So I want you to try again and tell me what you really hear.”
Liam took a deep breath. He still wasn’t convinced it would work but he would try once more. Closing his eyes again, he tried to just listen. Really just listening and not let his brain tell him what he was listening to.
“I hear the wind playing in the tree crowns. And I hear birds.” He took a breath again and tried to focus harder. Something inside him urged him on to hear more.
And suddenly it felt like someone had removed headphones from his ears and he could hear what he had not heard before. “I hear the heartbeat of a smaller animal. Their tiny paws on the ground.”
“Which direction?” Byron guided him and Liam tilted his head, trying to figure it out.
“From the left...I think. Don’t know full well but I’d say left.”
“Correct.” Byron confirmed. “What else, Liam?”
He tried to listen to more sounds but aside from their two heartbeats, he could not hear more. “That’s all.” He muttered, somewhat disappointed in himself. When he was about to open his eyes, Byron stopped him.
“No, keep your eyes closed. And now tell me what you feel. Start with your hand on the ground.” He instructed and Liam tried to follow his words. He inhaled again, loving the smell of the woods around them, and just focused on what he felt.
“The ground’s warming up. It’s soft underneath my palm. I can almost squeeze it with my fingers.” His fingers twitched when he said that, feeling the soft ground.
“Amazing, Liam, keep going. What else?”
“Uhm, I feel the sun on my skin. It’s also getting warmer and I feel the breeze.” Again he tried to sense more. He felt how the breeze ghosted over his naked arms and legs and the sun getting warmer by the minute. Today was going to be another warm summer day. He uttered his impression to Byron and the Alpha squeezed his shoulder.
“Okay, Liam, focus on all the impressions you currently get. The sounds and the feelings.”
Liam had to admit that he never took his time to experience things like this before. It was unfamiliar but he also felt his inner wolf liking the new way of taking things in, realizing how surrounded by nature he really was.
“And now I want you to run. Run until you reach the boulder on top of the hill, okay? Go!”
Liam’s eyes snapped open, glowing bright gold, and he leaped to his feet, immediately starting to run up the hill. His wolf howled happily inside him, happy to just run and enjoy the little exercise. He was so caught up it took a while to notice he was running faster than usual and due to that reached the boulder faster than expected. Stopping right there he put his hand against the boulder, trying to grasp what just happened.
“I was never that fast. Fast yes, but never like that.” He told Byron when the Alpha followed him. “How did I do that?”
“That’s what I was talking about when I referred to the harmony between wolf and human. We all, real wolves and werewolves, have the animal side and the animal is part of nature. If you manage to channel your wolf’s powers through nature, you will be faster, stronger, in some regards. It’s like paying tribute to the animal side of your soul and you get the full power of the wolf in exchange. It takes some time to learn how to really use the power to its full extent but you did well for your first try.”
Liam beamed at Byron, happy and proud that he managed to tap into that part of his power as a werewolf. He was still figuring his way out, the older he got, the more he learned, the more options he had to stay in control and using his werewolf abilities like he wanted to. He still had never thought about nature as a positive trigger. He could not wait to tell Theo about what he just learned and so he happily jogged along with Byron when the Alpha continued his run, leading them back to the cabin Liam shared with Theo.
The chimera was in the kitchen when Liam stormed in, sipping on a mug of steaming coffee, and glanced at Liam, one eyebrow raised.
“You won’t believe what just happened. Byron and I went for a run and there was this rock and then he told me to listen to everything...because you see more than you know and then I ran and I was faster and....” Liam blurted out, words spilling out in one single breath and Theo put his mug down before stepping closer to Liam and putting his hands on Liam’s shoulders.
“Breathe, Liam! I don’t understand a single thing.” He said with an amused smile. “Take a deep breath and then tell me again what happened. Because what you just said made no sense at all.”
His fingers squeezed Liam’s shoulders slightly and Liam followed Theo’s suggestion to take a few breaths, calming himself down enough so he could talk in a more calmer manner. And then he told Theo everything that happened on his morning run.
The first chapter, I am excited. I know not that much happened but stuff is about to happen very soon. Hope you liked the philosophy of the new pack. Share your thoughts with me, guys. I'm curious what you have to say.
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All My Sons Moving - My Full Experience
I have put this everywhere else, so why not here. This is the entire story (I had to shorten it a lot of places).
Where were all the bad reviews when I was moving? All I saw were great reviews about how good this company is. Until a week or so after my move, when all the bad ones started popping up. Here’s another one for the pile.
Selling my house and the process of moving has been one of the most stressful times of my life. With all the logistics and the fact that I ended up with only two days to move before closing, I decided to hire movers. I was hopeful from the high ratings and positive reviews online that All My Sons would save me some of the moving stress. As it turns out, however, it was one of the more stressful parts of all of this, and I had to pay a hefty sum for that privilege.
I’d would like to say that the sales team is great. That is where the 1-star comes from. The representative I spoke with was helpful and very nice, and I was perfectly happy with the rate and schedule for the move. They even called the day before to confirm the window for the next day like they were supposed to, and everything seemed fine, until moving day.
I got up early and took a small load to the apartment in my car. Around 9:15AM, I got a call from the office. I didn’t hear my phone ring, so when I got the voicemail, I called right back, less than ten minutes later. They wanted to reschedule and do my move in the morning. When I called back, however, the person who answered the phone said that everyone had just gone in for a meeting in the boss’ office, and they would call me back within fifteen minutes.
I gave them an hour. In that time, I went back to the house so that I’d be there when they dispatched the drivers. When I called back, someone else answered the phone and said that they were getting ready to dispatch the movers, and they would call me in a few minutes to let me know their travel time. I waited another hour. Nothing. I called the office again. They apologized and said that the drivers would call me within five to ten minutes. Thirty minutes later, I called the office again. Apparently, the truck had broken down, and the movers were stranded on the side of the road. Things were up and running, however, and they’d be on their way shortly.
About ten minutes later, the movers called and said they were 35 minutes out, not enough time to do anything but continue to sit and wait in a completely packed house with no internet. By this point, I had already been waiting for two and a half hours, calling the office every 30 minutes to an hour to find out what was going on.
Now, I get that things happen. The movers couldn’t help that their truck broke down. What frustrated me, however, is not only did the office not call me back, several times, but they didn’t try to find out the problem the the three times I called to follow up, or you know, actually call me back when they said they would. They only found out about the issue after it was resolved and when the movers were on their way.
So, at this point, they are three hours late. I could have taken two full loads of stuff to the apartment in that time. Instead, I sat around, waiting. When they finally got there, the gentlemen were very nice, but in no hurry to get started. I guess not; they charge by the hour. It took a solid half hour before they even began to pack or move anything. I’d like to point out that it wasn’t like they needed a plan to pack up the house. I had already packed up everything in the house except for the bed, an exercise bike, and my dresser. Literally everything else (enough stuff for a one bedroom apartment) was packed and ready to haul and in the living room on the first floor.
They took their time packing the furniture, which, that’s fine. Take your time with the furniture. However, they didn’t take any care when actually moving the furniture. One man was moving pieces that really should have been tag teamed.
I specifically asked them to not take my bed apart. It’s cheap and old, and it won’t really survive that. I explained that two men their size moved it upstairs in one piece with no problems. Well, they tried anyway. They spent over an hour trying to take it apart even after I repeated that it was probably a better idea to move it as one piece, but you know, I’m just a young(ish) woman. What do I know? An hour into the disassembly, they realized I was right and had to put the few pieces they had already taken apart back together, but they’d done a bit of damage to the bed while taking it apart and it was more difficult to get back together. But, it’s old and cheap, and that’s fine, whatever, just let this process be over.
During this, I had to monitor my cats who were all too eager to explore. I only left three pieces of furniture upstairs so that I could also leave the cats up there, but for the hour they were trying to take the bed apart, they kept leaving doors open and coming and going, and the cats kept getting out, which that’s not really their fault, but those three pieces of furniture should have taken about fifteen minutes, not an hour and a half.
Then, they spent nearly 20 minutes trying to take my tv stand apart, lost some pieces, realized that it was better to not take it apart, halfway put it back together and then just moved it in two big pieces. They left some pieces behind and ended up losing a couple of crucial pieces for reassembly, and since I can’t put it back together, I can’t use the stand anymore (I submitted that as part of my claim).
Then, when we finally set off for the apartment, it had already been a solid hour and a half longer than necessary. I figured we’d be done by the time we even left the house. When we got to the apartment, they started unloading things, again, each person carrying furniture that should have been carried by both men. I was flabbergasted and just wanted it to be over, so I tried to be flexible with where they put things, but specifically asked about a few pieces and where they should go. They didn’t listen, and when the few things I asked about weren’t where I requested them to be, they said they were “going to do that,” but couldn’t because “xyz” was in the way. Okay. But. You’re movers. Literally, that is your job.
Before they left, I checked the TV to make sure it was okay and working; it’s the major reason I hired movers. It’s a 60 in. smart TV, and is basically the most important thing I own, also the only tv I own. Completely totaled. The red light turned on, but a huge crack along the entire bottom of the screen with a few spider cracks at various spots meant it wouldn’t display a thing. I was devastated. I had already been worried about my grandma’s antique furniture the whole way (because one man was moving it when two should have gotten a side and taken more care), I did a big portion of the lifting myself (they did the furniture but I did at least 60% of the boxes because they were moving so slowly), and they broke the most important piece of the move.
They half-heartedly apologized but assured me it was covered and I didn’t have anything to worry about. Yeah, that’s right. Nothing to worry about. TV is totaled. Stand is in pieces, no telling how long I’ll have to live without it, or how long it will take going back and forth filing a claim. Piece of cake.
Again, they promised me it was covered and the company would replace it, hassle free. Very nonchalant they were as I was standing there, trying desperately to get them out of the apartment before I burst into tears. So, they finally left. At 6pm. I had been dealing with them for almost nine hours for a move that should not have taken more than 3. I am one person with enough stuff for a one-bedroom apartment. I didn’t even have any couches to move. I was exhausted. My apartment was in shambles, and my only TV was broken. $500 and some change later, and I regretted having to move in the middle of the week. I would have just asked friends and family if I hadn’t had to move on a Tuesday. None of my friends or family ever broke anything in past moves.
So, I called the customer service line the next morning (the mover had already begun my claim for me as soon as we found the TV was broken). In the meantime, I realized I couldn’t put the tv stand back together, because they lost some pieces. I managed to recover a few of the pieces when I went back to the house for more three more loads (because after all that, I’d left some things because they said those things would probably get damaged during transit), but not enough to fully put the stand back together. I claimed the TV and the Stand, and they said they would mail me paperwork. That’s right. Good ole USPS, because it is 2017 and that’s how we do things in the information age. Not with PDFs but through snail mail.
They said it would take 7-10 days. I waited two weeks before calling to find out what happened. It turns out, they mailed the paperwork to the wrong address, so I waited another 7 days for the paperwork to even reach me.
Three weeks and counting without a TV, I filled everything out, provided pictures and an exact dollar amount of what it would cost to replace the items. Unfortunately, the TV is literally irreplaceable. The movers broke a TV that they don’t make anymore, so I cannot actually replace it. I had to find a comparable model and claim that amount. I was very detailed. I found a comparable TV for exactly what I paid for mine, a comparable stand also priced at what I paid. I calculated cost, taxes, delivery, setup, and haul away.
I shipped all requested paperwork back the next day via Priority Mail even though it took over three weeks to get it, and when I tracked the shipment two days later, it was undeliverable to the address listed on the paperwork. So, on Friday morning, I had to troubleshoot with the post office, only to find out there was nothing wrong with the package, it was just flat out, “Undeliverable.” So, I requested a redelivery and called All My Sons customer service to follow up.
When I explained the situation, the only response was, “hmm that’s weird.” Yes. I know. This whole situation is weird an infuriating. Because I trust absolutely no one in this situation, I made digital copies of everything I sent in the mail and asked if I could send that over so they could begin processing my claim. She said that was no problem as assured me that they would follow up as soon as they received all the information in the email, and keep me posted on the progress. I reassured her that there were hard copies of all the paperwork, and that USPS would try to deliver it again on Monday.
I waited until Monday afternoon before calling back. I explained that they should have delivered the paperwork this morning (they actually did redeliver it on Friday afternoon according to tracking info), and that I was just following up to make sure they actually received it this time. The lady on the other end of the phone was quite short, which whatever, I don’t want to talk to you either, but at least be helpful. She was not. Didn’t check anything, just said that if it was delivered this morning, they haven’t gotten to it yet. I also told her that I forwarded everything digitally early Friday morning and was told that it would be received and I should have heard back before now. She found the email but said she hadn’t gotten to it yet, and once she got to it, she would respond to me and send it along to claims.
I waited twenty-four hours before calling again. They asked me to hold on just a moment, kept me on hold for about eight minutes and then hung up on me. I called back, and said I was following up on a claim, explained my situation (again, for the third time in three business days at least twice to the same person). I explained that the physical paperwork should have been delivered Friday. She said that the mail wasn’t delivered to them until last night, and to wait until the end of the day before calling back. I also explained (again) that I sent over digital copies when the post office couldn’t deliver the package the first time). She said that my claim wasn’t far down the line now, and that I should hear something soon. I asked if I needed to wait to hear from them about the next steps, and she said yes. I said ok, thank you, and got no response before she hung up.
Each time I talked to them, they seemed quite put out that they had to talk to me. I can understand that. I do not want to talk to you, either but I have no TV and it is the company’s fault. I am an introvert who hates talking on the phone. I didn’t want to have to follow up five or six times on something that should have been emailed to me in a PDF and then received back within a few hours, or even if not, should have just been taken care of as promised. It took four weeks to even start the claim officially. It took thirty days after they finally started the claim on September 27 before I could follow up again, and when I called back on October 27, they said they mailed follow up paperwork two weeks before, yet I never got it.
After eight weeks with no TV, they offered me 9% of what it would cost to replace the items, $157 and said that was four times more than they were contractually obligated to offer. I claimed over $1600, and if I want to replace my items, that is what it is going to cost me, and I’ll have to get the broken items hauled away as well.
I understand that I signed an agreement, but the drivers should not be allowed to make promises in regard to coverage if the company isn’t going to back what their employee are telling customers. It’s confusing (and frustrating, and really expensive, apparently) when you’re told two completely different things by people at the same company.
When I asked who I needed to speak to or what needed to be done so that misinformation was not given to customers, I was told management knows this and they tell the drivers not to do it, but they do it anyway and that the company is not responsible for what the drivers say. But, it’s your company and your employees telling these things to your customers. How is that not in any way your responsibility? If I told patrons at my job that they didn't have to pay their fines, and then they got upset and complained when they had to pay their fines, I would get in trouble and a policy would be enforced to ensure patrons didn't get incorrect information.
I have encouraged all friends and family to never use this company. What was supposed to be the least stressful part of my move turned into eight weeks of incredible amounts of stress, frustration, and anger. Oh, and I still don't’ have a TV.
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The Journey - Part Six
Thanks @jia911 for the fast proofreading. Previous chapters can be found HERE.
Honorable mention to @hurricane-jenn who was able to spot the reference between part 5 of The Journey and Part 2 of My Boys: Back to the Start. The similarity was Owen waking up with no memory of marrying Amelia and having the same impression he did on TJ: That she was crazy, impulsive and completely unbalanced.
Anyways, here we go!
Timeline for Part 6:
This one sets around 11x05 and 11x06. Owen and Amelia didn’t really have any relevant developments inside the hospital so I took a lot of liberties with this one. This is what I imagined happened between them offscreen!
The Journey – Part Six
Owen had just finished his morning coffee when he heard loud thuds coming from outside. Sneakily moving inside the small trailer, he bent over and gazed outside the window, looking for the source of all that noise. It shouldn’t have surprised him that the person who was cussing while repeatedly knocking metal against metal was Amelia Shepherd.
“What are you doing?” He frowned heavily at her, wondering why she was being so loud when it wasn’t even seven in the morning on a Monday. “You’re going to break the car.” He added with incredulity.
The neurosurgeon had the hood of a silver car open, while a nearly transparent smoke came from somewhere inside the engine. It was obvious something was wrong. Owen noticed an object in her hand, much similar to a wrench, and he wondered what she’d been trying to do with it.
“Are you beating up the car?” He tried to hide his amusement. “Trying to see if you hurt it bad enough it will decide to work?” Owen added, openly teasing the logic behind the idea.
Amelia seemed to hesitate for a second and he noticed how she slightly blushed. It wasn’t at all common to see her embarrassed so Owen rejoiced in it. It was good to see that sometimes she could get affected by the things he said or did as well.
“Pretty much,” Amelia confessed with an apologetic smile.
Owen went around her and pulled the hood of the car up higher, carefully inspecting it. Amelia noticed the way he easily went through some of the devices. It became obvious Owen Hunt was very familiar with mechanics.
Was there anything the man couldn’t do?
Amelia sighed in frustration. She always felt like she was a mess and that her feelings often got the best of her. It was annoying how sometimes, her mood could change due to any reason, be it a pathetic one or not. And yet, the tall surgeon standing beside her seemed so calm, controlled and unaffected that often she wondered how could someone be so levelheaded. Even when she’d seen him angry, Owen had been in control of himself. At the same time Amelia was attracted by it, she also felt a childish desire to test him just to see how far his self-control would go. The chief of surgery was very intimidating and instead of being scared, Amelia felt strangely drawn. She had no idea why, but her instincts told her that even when pushed to his limit, the enigma that was Owen Hunt would dissolve a little, but he’d probably still be as fascinating.
“When was the last time you checked the radiator coolant?” Owen asked after a few seconds, noticing the levels inside the storage system seemed extremely low.
Amelia looked at him as if the guy was speaking a foreign language.
“What makes you think I even know what that is?”
Owen processed her reaction and chuckled at the same time he nodded his head in disapproval.
“Look, the level of fluid is extremely low,” He carefully opened a round recipient and Amelia saw he now had grease all over his hands. His forearms were amazingly masculine… how come she had never noticed that before? And his hands too… Owen had large, manly hands and Amelia didn’t realize the amount of time she spent with her eyes fixated on them. The way his fingers easily moved in between the car pieces, as roughly and skillfully as if he was performing trauma surgery, made Amelia wonder what else that man was capable of performing with his very talented hands. “Look, go over there to my car and get the bottle with green coolant that’s in the trunk,” He instructed her, pointing towards the blue truck parked a few yards from them.
Amelia quickly did as told, feeling better to have something she could actually do to help instead of distracting herself with amusing ideas. It was very early in the morning and she wanted to be at the hospital in time to do rounds and get plenty of time with two young patients who were scheduled to see her today. The donation money she had received was helping other kids with the same condition as the two year old patient Amelia had performed surgery on, and she was immensely happy to be able to help more children.
The neurosurgeon opened the door to Owen’s truck and couldn’t help taking a moment longer than necessary to observe everything. Unlike her own car, that had coats, an empty water bottle and an overnight bag for shits scattered on the back seat, the inside of the blue truck was perfectly neat and clean. There were no crumbles or forgotten clothes on the inside and Amelia smiled mischievously, thinking that made justice to the image she had of man who owned it.
She followed his instructions and brought back the liquid he’d asked for. Without saying a word, Owen added it to a recipient and closed it. Afterwards, he bent a little further and scraped something inside the panel.
“You also need to replace the engine filter,” Owen informed her.
“Okay, I will,” She replied automatically, grateful for his help, but also feeling a little guilty he had literally gotten his hands dirty just to help her while she was still perfectly clean.
“No, you won’t,” Owen replied matter-of-factly. He didn’t know the woman that well or for that long but somehow he was sure of what he was saying.
“Yeah, I probably won’t,” Amelia confessed with an embarrassed grin. After noticing the way he was judgingly looking at her, obviously condemning her decision, she got defensive. “What? I don’t have the first clue on how to…” She rolled her eyes, impatiently giving in. “Alright, fine. I know I have to, otherwise the car will fry.” The neurosurgeon admitted, against her will. “Should I just walk into a car shop and order an engine filter? Oh, wait, can I buy it online?”
She noticed the silly smile on the corner of his lips, as if in her complete ignorance about mechanics, Amelia had said something so absurd that he was having fun at her expense. She felt like knocking him down for it.
“Just leave the car here over the weekend and I’ll replace it for you.”
With a gentle nod he went inside the cabin, turned the key and like magic, the car worked. Without saying another word, Owen gave Amelia the keys and walked back to his trailer, presumably to wash off all the dirt that had stained his arms and clothes.
Amelia wasn’t surprised by how bossy and economic with words he was. The man was so frustrating, ordering her around. It was her own car, damn it! But at the same time, she couldn’t quite control a warm feeling that slowly started to consume her.
Owen had no obligations with the Shepherds whatsoever but he did things like fix Zola’s bike and now, repair her car. She hadn’t asked for his help, he hadn’t exactly offered it. Instead, he’d simply gone on and fixed what needed to be fixed. His practicality and the way he was always there in a time of need alarmed Amelia at the same time it attracted her. She was afraid it could easily become highly addictive to have him around. Even when Owen was reprimanding her, he was always kind and respectful. Amelia felt strangely looked after. She was used to being on her own and not counting on someone to have her back like that. That made staying mad at him exponentially more difficult.
Trying not to think about those insane notions, she got into the car and drove to work, telling herself it was going to be a great week.
At work, Amelia did have one of the finest weeks she ever remembered having. After performing seven surgeries and following up with post ops in the PICU and the ICU, the neurosurgeon took a cab home on Thursday afternoon, after being at the hospital since the previous Tuesday.
All Amelia wanted was to take a hot, relaxing shower and sleep until the following morning. Her brother was responsible for covering the night shift and she was supposed to come home with Meredith, but her sister-in-law had been notified about a donor’s liver for her patient and would spend the entire night performing a transplant. In usual conditions, Amelia would pick up her niece and nephew but she was in no shape to even drive home, let alone look after two kids. Settling for a cab, Amelia took pleasure in the idea of having the house to herself.
As she left the hospital to go home, a thin rain started to fall. The neurosurgeon wasn’t surprised. After years of living in LA, where it was mostly warm all year long, adapting to Seattle wasn’t hard. Amelia had grown up in New York and she actually preferred the colder, rainier days.
Invariably, she had to step on the grass to walk up to the house and much to Amelia’s dismay, her brand new boots got covered in mud. She was still sighing at the realization when she went to pick up the mail.
To her delighted surprised, Amelia found a postcard from Sheldon Wallace. It had been dated two weeks before and she smiled widely while reading about her friend’s adventures in a paradise landscape in the middle of the Caribbean. Amelia was happy for Sheldon that he had quit his job and was now traveling the world.
She was tired and it demanded so much energy to focus on reading a simple card that Amelia completely forgot to clean her boots before entering the house. As result, she stained the floor with several mud steps. Cursing heavens for the sloppiness of her actions, the neurosurgeon went to the back of the house in search of a clean mop when she inadvertently slipped.
Amelia tried to hold her balance on the kitchen isle but all it did was crash two half filled water glasses on floor, adding to the mess before she ended up landing on her bottom. If the situation weren’t so ridiculous, it would be hilarious. Trying her hardest to keep her composure, Amelia promptly cleaned up after her mess, worried about not leaving any tiny glass splinters considering there were two small children living in the house.
One hour later, Amelia had already showered as she looked for something to eat inside the fridge. It was becoming increasingly harder to ignore the sharp pain that was coming from her bottom. Initially, the surgeon had assumed it’d been from her clumsy landing, but as the minutes progressed, she realized there was probably more to it.
Dropping the waffle mix she was about to prepare on the counter, Amelia went to the bathroom and took off her pants. After minutes of careful inspection and thorough search, she realized there was a tiny piece of glass deeply lodged under her skin. She’d had jeans on when her accident happened but somehow the sharp object had made it through. Amelia had no idea how she was unlucky enough that, of all her body parts, she ended up with a splinter stuck in such a horrible place. Not only it was absolutely painful, it was also very hard to reach.
Amelia knew that for any experienced doctor, getting out that tiny glass piece was probably an easy procedure. She was also aware that if she didn’t do anything about it, her body would keep reacting to the foreign object with more inflammation and perhaps even get infected. The skin was already reddish and swollen around the area, probably due to her failed attempts at removing it with a pair of tweezers.
She was still trying to get the glass piece out when the doorbell rang, suddenly startling her. It was a few minutes after 8 and Amelia was alarmed, wondering whom it might be. After pulling her striped pajama pants up, Amelia went to the living room. Feeling stupid for not guessing sooner, she spotted the blonde tall man outside through the peephole and opened the door.
“Hey,” She greeted him, seeing the look of surprise on Owen’s face when he saw who had opened the door.
“Oh, hi,” He replied a bit awkwardly. Owen noticed none of the cars were at home but Derek’s, so he simply assumed his friend was home alone. “Is Derek around?”
“Uh, no, he’s actually on call tonight,” Amelia explained, wondering what Owen could be doing there. He looked very casually dressed with a V-neck green jumper and a pair of dark fleece pants.
“Sorry to bother, I saw his car and thought he was here,” The trauma surgeon explained, ready to turn around and go home.
“No, actually he carpooled with Meredith today because he has the night shift,” Amelia explained. “She is spending the night there too.”
“The liver transplant,” Owen shyly smiled. “Do you have the kids?” He asked, worried. Amelia looked tired and it was obvious both Meredith and Derek wouldn’t be back anytime soon.
“Uh, no, actually they are at the hospital in overnight care because I pulled a double shift so I am in no condition to babysit,” She casually leaned against the door, somehow hoping they could extend that conversation. Just minutes before, she’d been eager to spend some time alone but now that she had company, Amelia really didn’t want him to go.
It was rare seeing Owen outside the hospital in that easy, relaxed manner and she grew curious. Her eyes scanned him quickly and not for the first time, Amelia noticed how broad his shoulders were. He looked so solid that sometimes she felt like touching him just to see if his body was as hard and virile as his personality.
“Well, I’ll leave you to rest, then,” Owen said after a few seconds of silence. He had already broken eye contact with her, ready to turn around and leave when he heard her voice.
“No, wait,” Amelia called out and unconsciously bit her bottom lip, trying to think of what to say. “I am not Derek, but maybe I can help too?” She suggested with a contagious smile.
Owen couldn’t help loosening up at that very inviting offer and put his hand inside his pockets.
“I was actually going to ask Derek if he’s watching the game tonight,” Owen explained. “Ever since it started to rain my TV signal has been running low and because I know Derek has cable here, I supposed he might be a little luckier than me.”
Amelia had no idea what game it was or even why exactly Owen had been having problems to watch it inside his trailer. But she quickly caught up on the fact that he was obviously spending the night alone, with a TV that didn’t work and craving for some company.
“You can watch it here,” She hurried to say and realized she had been standing at the door like a fool the entire time. “Sorry, come in,” Amelia gracefully invited him, taking a step back so he could enter the house.
Owen hesitated, unsure of what to do next. At the same time he wasn’t sure it was a good idea, something inside him made him desperately want to stay. The idea of going back to his trailer and spending the evening alone didn’t look appealing. Not nearly as much as staying in the company of a woman who could invoke all different types of feelings in him without even trying.
“Are you sure?” He asked, looking from her eyes to her figure, figuring by her outfit that she was probably dressed for bed.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Amelia smiled wider. “I was just going to prepare some waffles. I’d be happy to share them with you.”
Owen walked into the house and kept his hands inside his pockets as he slowly followed her to the kitchen.
“How are you not freezing?” Amelia asked, shrugging her shoulders to control a wave of shivering. Just to open the door and stay exposed to the weather outside for a couple of minutes had already taken its toll on her. And yet Owen had walked all the way from his trailer in light clothes, stood outside in the chilly wind for a while and seemed perfectly comfortable.
“It’s not that cold,” He replied with a shy smile.
Amelia made eye contact with him and grinned widely before returning to the waffles she’d been preparing earlier that evening.
“How can you even say that?” She teased, preparing the mix under his attentive eyes. “It’s like, fifty five outside,” Amelia argued.
“Well,” Owen pointed out, “when you spend months in the hot desert in combat clothes you start to really appreciate lower temperatures.”
Amelia stopped what she was doing and processed his words. She’d heard that Owen Hunt had served in the army a couple of times as a surgeon. The military stereotype really did fit him and the thought amused her. With a friendly smile in his direction, she watched as Owen stepped up to help her with the mix.
“So, breakfast food at eight in the evening?” He finally asked, intrigued by it since the moment she’d first mentioned what she was cooking. “Is there a particular reason why you’re making waffles?”
“Do you really need one?” Amelia smiled mischievously, licking the mix that had been left on the spoon after she was done sorting out the waffles. “I mean, who decided that waffles could only be eaten for breakfast?” She questioned, intriguing Owen. He had never really thought about it. “I don’t see why it’s a rule. It’s a very stupid one if you ask me.”
“I can’t say that surprises me,” He added, returning her teasing remarks. “You obviously don’t care much about rules in general.”
The idea that Owen Hunt was actually capable of joking made Amelia laugh. It wasn’t the first time she realized how drawn to him she felt. The neurosurgeon had enjoyed his company from the start but she hadn’t seen him outside of work that much. Since Owen was her boss and Amelia was nearly always unintentionally causing problems, most of their interactions had been about work related issues but she had to admit she actually enjoyed spending time with him and getting to know more about the very reserved trauma surgeon when they were outside the walls of the hospital.
“So,” Amelia tried to engage him in conversation. Even though she wasn’t uncomfortable when they were in silence, she knew he wasn’t very chatty, meaning it would be mostly up to her to keep any kind of talk going. “What’s the game about again?” The neurosurgeon asked while carrying two plates with warm waffles to the living room, closely followed by Owen who brought steamy mugs with hot chocolate.
“Football,” He explained, accepting the remote Amelia was offering and setting the TV to the right channel. “Seattle is playing New York.”
“Oh, awesome,” She got more excited about the prospect of watching a sports game. Amelia had never particularly cared for sports but she had always been highly competitive. “Go, New York!” She cheered, without a clue of whom she was cheering for.
“No, go Seattle,” Owen looked at her with a smile and intensified his gaze, as if silently trying to convince her.
“New York all the way,” Amelia replied, more interested in pestering him than in the actual game.
“One day, after you’ve been in the city long enough to realize this is the best place to live in, you’ll become a Hawks fan and I will live to see it.” Owen predicted.
Amelia laughed in disbelief but little did she know that in a few years, when she and Owen had already started to build their family, she would indeed realize that Seattle was the only place in the world she would ever consider home. And being a Seahawks fan after him would come with the package.
As the game was starting, she took a seat on the couch next to him. Her bottom was still very sore and Amelia was reminded of that in the worst way. As she sat down for the first time, the annoying piece of glass throbbed against her skin, making the neurosurgeon swiftly put one of her legs folded under her body, preventing the sore area from getting any pressure against the couch.
“This tastes really good,” Owen complimented her a few minutes into the game, pointing to the waffles.
“Thanks,” Amelia replied with gratitude. Being complimented on her cooking skills wasn’t something she was used to. The neurosurgeon was well aware that her talents in the kitchen were very limited. “So, I am having a real hard time figuring out what’s happening…” She confessed, frowning at the screen. Owen turned his attention from the TV and gazed at her profile, finding the way she was squinting at the TV trying hard to understand adorable. “Isn’t the whole point of this game to carry the ball to the other side?”
“Pretty much,” Owen replied, curious to see where she was going.
“Well, why doesn’t the guy just run with the ball while his friends knock down the other team?” She asked like it was obvious.
Owen chuckled heartily.
“For starters, the other team has eleven guys the size of tree trunks fully trained to knock down anyone who tries to pass by them,” He explained. “That’s why the team changes players according to ball possession. Some guys specialize in offense while others are the defense line.” Owen added. “And the friends of the guy who has the ball,” he used her own words on purpose, having fun with her adorable thinking, “are offensive players, their main strength isn’t to knock down the other team but rather to try to run through them.”
“That doesn’t sound very smart”, Amelia argued.
“It is actually a very strategic game,” Owen explained.
“Someone is definitely getting hurt.”
“That’s half the fun.”
Amelia’s eyebrows rose at his comment and when she looked sideways to meet his gaze, she realized he was kidding and they both laughed together.
For the next couple of hours, she kept asking questions as Owen patiently answered them, carefully explaining the common rules of football. Amelia didn’t seem that excited about the sport but while it was obvious she didn’t share his passion, at least she was rationally trying to understand it.
During each of the four quarters, Owen had noticed how, despite her charismatic smile and adorable serene façade, Amelia seemed somewhat physically uncomfortable. After paying closer attention, he figured something was bothering her because her body went stiff whenever she moved beside him.
“Are you okay?” Owen asked after a few minutes of silence. The question caught Amelia off guard and she studied his expression, trying to figure out why he was asking it at the same time she made an effort to pretend she was fine. “I’m only asking because you grimace every time you move on the couch.”
“It’s nothing, really,” Amelia replied, but it was obvious she was lying.
Owen wasn’t going to ask any further questions because he didn’t want to sound pushy or make her feel uncomfortable. The trauma surgeon had already diverted his eyes back to the last few minutes of the game when he heard her voice.
“Actually…” She started, feeling embarrassed. “Maybe you could help me out with something.”
Amelia was mortified at the idea of sharing what’d happened but at the same time, the neurosurgeon knew she couldn’t keep that piece of glass inside her skin much longer. It was starting to hurt for real and since she couldn’t get it removed by herself, it was likely she would have to ask for help. Her brother and sister-in-law wouldn’t be back until the following day and the idea of going to the hospital sucked all her energy. Not only was Amelia exhausted from the long hours at work, she also didn’t want to show up in the ER to have an intern or young resident examining her butt. The idea of how quickly the embarrassing news could spread made her completely drop the idea.
Luckily for her, the best emergency surgeon at the hospital was sitting on the couch of her home and there was no one around to witness Amelia’s humiliation. Not to mention she was pretty sure Owen wasn’t the kind of guy who would tell others about the embarrassing situation. Having him remove the piece of glass was the wisest idea she could think of, and the quickest way to solve her problem.
As she mentioned maybe he could be of help, Owen simply sustained her look, kindly inviting her to resume her explanation.
“As I got home earlier today I dropped a glass on the floor,” She explained. “It was messy and there were small pieces all over the place.”
“Did you hurt yourself?” He asked considerately.
“Not really,” Amelia bit her bottom lip, hesitant about sharing the embarrassing part. “The thing is, some splinters got scattered around and one of them got wedged in my skin. I tried, but couldn’t get it out.”
“Oh,” Owen quickly realized what the problem was. “It’s alright, I can try to get it out for you,” He proposed with his usual practicality. “Do you have a needle we can sterilize?”
“Yeah,” Amelia had fun with the idea of imagining if he’d still be as willing to help as he seemed to be when she shared more details about the incident. “The thing is, the glass is on my butt.”
Amelia thought she’d feel embarrassed but after seeing his mortified expression, what she really wanted to do was laugh.
“I forgot to mention that after I broke the glass, I landed on it.”
Even though Owen was perplexed, he couldn’t help laughing.
“Okay, then,” He furrowed his eyebrows, wondering how he’d ended up in that situation in the first place. “Well, let’s try to get it out.”
After a quick trip to her bathroom, Amelia came back with cotton balls, a small bottle of alcohol and a sterilized needle. It was hard to believe the mess she got herself in sometimes. The neurosurgeon didn’t realize she’d taken a deep breath and was holding it until she met Owen’s gaze. He’d clearly been staring at her, waiting for her to make the first move.
“Oh, yeah, right,” Amelia shook her head trying to focus. “Well, you’ll know where it is when you see it.” She walked over to where he was sitting on the couch and stood in front of him. Her tone of voice changed from playful to threating when she added. “I swear to God if I ever hear a joke about this I am going to spread a rumor about you.”
Owen laughed, amused at her reaction. Amelia was often confident and very sassy. To see her in a situation like that was actually really entertaining.
He was still carefully thinking about that when the neurosurgeon turned around. Owen took a deep breath once he actually realized what was about to unfold and suddenly, the atmosphere around them felt dense.
He couldn’t see the look on her face, but Owen imagined she wasn’t exactly comfortable. Aside from a quick accidental bump as they passed each other occasionally, he had never really touched her, even though he’d had countless thoughts about it.
Thoughts that were so dirty and downright inappropriate that Owen immediately rejected them.
“You have to show me where it hurts,” He broke the silence, noticing Amelia was standing in front of him without doing much.
“Oh, of course,” She took a deep breath and slowly let it out, taking her hands to the hem of her pants.
Amelia wasn’t embarrassed of her body, she had always been confident about it. But suddenly, the image of Owen’s masculine hands assaulted her memory and she felt her face blush. It took a lot of effort to slide down pajama pants and expose the upper part of her butt cheek to him, especially when she had no idea what to expect.
But Amelia quickly found out.
As Owen’s hands splayed on the sides of her hips, gently pulling her one step closer to him, she felt an electrical wave assaulting her body with full force. His touch felt warm and powerful as his hands easily grabbed the curves of her body, bringing her to a position where he could actually reach her wound.
“It doesn’t look like it’s in too deep,” Owen swallowed hard. He had imagined many times over what it would be like to touch her, but he hadn’t been prepared for the overwhelming reality. “Alright, I’ll start. Don’t move.”
Amelia closed her eyes and tried to focus on the fact that Owen was a doctor. What he was doing was purely professional. Or at least that’s what it should feel like.
But instead, Amelia was having a hard time getting over the fact that his hand had a firm grab on her body. She couldn’t see him, but it felt like his presence was engulfing her. The neurosurgeon knew she was vulnerable and exposed but instead of feeling uncomfortable, she was completely at ease with being touched by him. In fact, it was nearly impossible to ignore the rush of blood to her lower abdomen that only increased as she became more aware of his presence and his touch.
Owen picked up the cotton ball soaked in alcohol and gently brushed it against her skin a few times. He had done the same with patients many times over in his life but it had never made him as agitated as it did that moment. The trauma surgeon knew his restlessness had nothing to do with the procedure, but rather with the patient. Amelia Shepherd and her delicate, feminine body had a few times before charged him. Until the day Owen had laid eyes on her, he had not been aware of the intense sexual energy that had been hiding somewhere deep inside him. And yet, the sight and touch of her smooth silky skin seemed to bring that to surface with full force.
Very gently, Owen used the needle to get to the splinter of glass. It wasn’t a small fragment but it was wedged deep inside her skin. He knew there was the risk the piece would break, causing more damage. Amelia was silent and Owen could feel her entire body stiff, but he supposed she was nervous about the procedure when in fact, Amelia was trying to control the wave of desire that assaulted her every time she felt Owen’s experienced movements as he brushed and grabbed her butt cheek with his fingertips.
“You’re moving,” Owen tightened the grasp of his free hand on the side of her naked hip, trying not to sound too impatient. He was desperate to get that over with and Amelia’s jerky movements weren’t helping. Truth was, his body wanted to prolong contact for as long as possible but his censoring mind was so alarmed with his own reactions that Owen wanted to be done with the procedure as soon as possible.
“Sorry,” She closed her eyes with more force and looked up, trying to focus. But her brain was invaded with images of Owen wearing the green jumper he had on tonight. Was it her imagination or did the clothing piece outline his manly biceps in a scandalous way? Amelia couldn’t be sure. He was all strength, possession and control and his intoxicating masculinity was stealing her breath in a very escalating manner.
When had it been exactly that Amelia had started looking at him that way? She wasn’t sure. In her mind, Owen had always been an attractive guy but that had never been on focus. He had confused her, irritating the neurosurgeon with his bossy, stubborn manners at the same time he amazed her with his loyalty, impeccable sense of justice and addicting reliability. Up until now, Amelia had been trying to figure out whether she liked him or not and the raw reality alarmed her.
Not only did she figure out that she actually enjoyed his company and admired Owen, apparently her body also liked him very much.
“Jesus, will you just stand still!” Owen grunted, losing his patience. He was not doing very well. At the same time the woman was unknowingly enticing him and seducing him with the amazing smell of her hair and the delicious texture of her skin, she was driving him crazy with her incapability of remaining motionless. Owen really didn’t want to hurt her, but she just wouldn’t stop moving as he was piercing her body with a needle, driving him crazy with anxiety. But what was really adding to his bad mood was the fact that no matter how much he tried, the trauma surgeon couldn’t deny he was insanely attracted to that stubborn, gorgeous woman.
“Well, you’re taking too long!” Amelia complained, suffering from the same symptoms as she tried to blame the tension on him.
Owen didn’t bother replying. She had the insane ability of making him lose control, in every sense. Without notice, Owen’s hand traveled from her hip to her lower stomach, under her shirt. He pulled her towards him with fierce determination. Amelia felt her body shivering when his palm splayed below her bellybutton, keeping her from moving forward like she’d been doing. That man’s hand was so large that it nearly covered the entire area of her lower belly. She found that thought and the possessive way he had pulled her nearer extremely sexy.
“I am trying not to hurt you, but you’re not making it easy,” Owen said between his teeth. Touching her like that was making his body have responses he hadn’t originally planned or considered, but the worst part was that he didn’t regret it one bit. He’d wanted more than anything to feel her skin under his touch and now that he could attest, it was as deliciously smooth as he’d imagined.
It also didn’t help him at all to unwillingly become aware of her gracious figure. Amelia’s body was very feminine and it was becoming increasingly hard to ignore her curves. She was so small and yet so adorably shaped. Her round bottom was literally under the touch of his hands and even though Owen was performing a medical procedure, his thoughts were far from professional. What he really wanted to do was too scandalous to be described in their surgery textbooks.
Amelia could swear his voice sound contained. She was just wondering if the brush of his thumb on the hem of her panties had been accidental when Owen suddenly pulled apart.
“There,” he said, sounding relieved. “I got it out.”
Amelia anxiously turned her neck around at the same time Owen’s hand grabbed the waistband of her pajama pants and carefully pulled it up.
It was then that Amelia finally realized it: She wasn’t the only one who was painfully aware of the intense sexual tension that had established between them. He felt it too and that made it even very harder to ignore the physical attraction they were sharing.
“Look,” Owen noticed her eyes studying him and tried to distract her, flashing the glass splinter on the palm of his hand.
“Wow, it was bigger than I thought,” Amelia said with genuine surprise.
The moment Owen noticed he had just imagined her saying the same sentence in a total different context, he realized it was time to go. The game on TV wasn’t yet over, but for the first time he didn’t care one bit about football.
“It’s getting pretty late, I should go,” He blurted out, noticing Amelia was standing so close that if he moved two feet forward their bodies would collide.
“Thank you for helping me,” The neurosurgeon instantly replied, looking just as affected.
Owen was so distracted examining her features that he forgot to reply or move to finally go home. Amelia noticed the way his eyes were on her face. He was admiring her, she realized with girly silliness, feeling herself embarrassingly blush.
What was wrong with her?! Amelia had always been confident and extremely good at flirting games. Why couldn’t she help acting so awkwardly around him?
But then Owen’s eyes broke contact with hers and slowly traveled to her lips, making Amelia unconsciously hold her breath. Oh God, was he going to kiss her? Amelia was startled to realize she very much hoped he would. When had that happened? She couldn’t remember looking at Owen that way but suddenly, all she could think about was feeling the solidness of his arms around her and finding out if the stern, controlled chief of surgery was as much affected by the magnetic wave of attraction that seemed to connect their bodies as she seemed to be. When Amelia realized he was slowly moving forward, she closed her eyes, ready to embark on the experience of exploring his lips. But then his words assaulted her, like a shower of cold water breaking the magical moment.
“Good night, Shepherd.”
When Amelia opened her eyes, she had to blink repeatedly to be brought back to reality. Owen was already a few steps away from her, moving towards the door. Oh God, had he realized she’d expected to be kissed? Amelia felt like a fool. Gathering her strength to be back in control again, she smiled when she remembered the unmistakable spark of desire she’d identified in his eyes just moments before. There was no way Owen Hunt wasn’t as affected as she was. And if he had held the urge to kiss her, the least Amelia would do was to torture him in return.
“Amelia,” She caught up with him, standing by the door after he’d already crossed it.
Owen turned around in confusion, exactly like she’d anticipated, and the neurosurgeon explained.
“Well, since you’ve already grabbed my butt and felt me up… You might as well call me by my name.” Amelia wickedly added, controlling her smile of satisfaction. Now, every time Owen Hunt had to speak to her, he would undoubtedly be assaulted by memories of what had happened between them that night.
And what could potentially have happened but never did.
The neurosurgeon realized she had reached her goal when his entire face reddened with embarrassment. Without another word, Owen turned around again and went straight to his trailer. Amelia watched him disappear from a distance and smiled with pride, knowing that at least now she wouldn’t be the only one lying awake in bed, wondering what the other one was thinking while reminiscing every minute of the explosive physical discoveries they had just made that night.
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