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#people are nicer to him on twitter
ainomica · 7 days ago
Sometimes I wish I didn't have a Twitter so I wouldn't see these takes 🤢 : "daily reminder that poe dameron was the son leia deserved"
Why in the hell do poe and sequel trilogy trio stans want leia to be Poe's mom, when he ALREADY has an amazing mother who even got her own comic with his dad??!?!?!
Also its so disgusting to say parents "deserve" better children when that said parent neglected their own child 😬
Hello Nonny
I saw some of those , My moot screenshotted me some response and honestly i have to laugh how antis think rylos or anyone cares about infantalizing someone as boring as Poo Dameroo that we would invent nicknames as “parent stealer” for him! 
Pray Tell, how many parents is Poo sucking up to in canon? I couldn’t find any! Antis are so out of content they just invent strawman to create discourse now. Pathetic doesn’t even begin to cover their actions LMAO
To be serious I think Leia being a horrendous mother to her own son combined with their pathological need to keep OT characters in pedestal means they think her being nicer to her bootlicker constitutes for maternal actions ( lets ignore the sexism for the second here of assuming any women in power being nice to their subordinate is “mothering” ...) . They would think Leia being nice to Rose in EU is also her mothering Rose too if they didn’t hate Rose. The only character who is explicitly written to be “mothered” by Leia is Rey because JJ Abrams loves the fantasy of him being so special snowflake that his heroes would adore him sorry her aka Rey as their fantasy child while neglecting their own. The ultimate powertrip.
People usually fantasize of other people leaving their partners for them but JJ is a creepy idiot with daddy/mommy issues I guess so he fixates on parents. And gives his self inserts sorry protagonist same issues. 
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corysmiles · 8 days ago
tiny streamer au angst: tubbo, tommy, wilbur, and phil get recognized on their own a fair amount, but the four of them all together has lead to a lot of fans. tommy gets a bit overwhelmed with so many big people
omg yes I didn’t even think about how fan interactions would go but it gives so much angst opportunities :]
Little Streamer AU hurt/comfort
cw// language, (cut for length purposes)
————————————————
It wasn’t uncommon for the sleepy bois to be recognized on their own but now that they had talked about their meetup on Twitter some people were going out of their way to try to meet them.
They all loved seeing fans of course, but Tommy hadn’t really realized just how few of his fans were actually tiny.
He thought people knew about his size and that people who watched him were the same, but when people approached them looking for him specifically and they were 100x taller than he was, he started to feel a little queezy.
Tommy usually didn’t mind human’s but as more and more people showed up to see him he started to feel weird under their studying gaze.
With his friends it was fine but when people tried to grab him out of Wilbur’s hand or touch him for photos he got overwhelmed.
However, his bigger friends didn’t even seem to notice or care, they just posed for pictures with their fans and let Tommy be manhandled by people he didn’t even know. Tommy tried to be okay with it he really did, but sometimes they squeezed just a bit too hard or moved too fast and it made him want to curse them out until they dropped him.
It was when they were at the beach that Tommy finally broke down. They were hanging out and talking when a somewhat small group of fans came up out of nowhere.
They were pretty young and looked kind enough, but as soon as Phil greeted them one of them squeaked at Tommy and pulled him out of Wilbur’s hands.
“Awe Tommy you’re popular,” Phil chuckled as Tommy was cooed at by the young girl.
He vaguely heard his friends laugh at him but Tommy could barely breathe as he was touched. Her prodding fingers and bright smile filled him with overwhelming fear.
His mind was cycling through panicked thoughts while trying to push the hands away. His whole body yelling at him that he wasn’t safe.
He felt the fingers squeeze around him and he let out a weak cry as his friends continued to pose for pictures.
His breathing became forced while the laughter around him got louder and louder and he felt himself being not so gently shoved into another one of the fan’s hands.
“Hey I think he’s crying,” he heard a soft voice warn and immediately the laughter came to halt. He felt his body be shifted into another pair of hands and pulled his legs close to himself with a sob.
“Toms are you alright?”
It was Wilbur.
He knew his friend wouldn’t hurt him and that he was safe in his gentle hold, but the warm feeling of skin underneath him did nothing to soothe his fear.
“Please...put me down Wil,” Tommy whispered.
Wilbur raised in his eyebrows in shock at the teen and whispered out a small “huh?”
Tommy tried to push Wilbur’s hands away from him and cried, “Put me down...please put me down.”
Vaguely he heard Tubbo shoo away the fans before he was gently placed down onto the beach chair Phil had brought with them. The thin colorful fabric felt so much nicer than the hot skin of human hands.
“What’s wrong Tommy are you okay?” Phil asked cautiously as he knelt down in front of the shaking boy.
“It’s too much...,” Tommy whispered quietly, “I- they were touching me and I- I just...”
“Oh mate,” Phil sighed as he stood up from the sand.
Tommy saw blurs of movement through his watery vision until something stilled in front of him. When his eyes were finally clear enough he saw that Wilbur was sitting on the sand in front of the chair, staring at Tommy nervously.
“...I’m sorry Toms,” Wilbur sighed, “we should’ve noticed that you didn’t like that shit.”
Tommy nodded slowly but still sat stiff on the chair.
“We shouldn’t have let them touch you, I know I wouldn’t have liked that,” Wilbur muttered, “I’ll make sure no one else does that...I promise.”
Wilbur was met by a sad smile from the tiny before he held his hand out tentatively.
The teen eyed him cautiously but reached his hands forward to pull the large hand into a hug. Wilbur just let him lean against it, not closing his fingers over the boy like he usually would.
“I’m sorry for being so sensitive big man,” Tommy whispered.
Wilbur shook his head with a tight frown, “No don’t apologize for that shit. You’re allowed to have boundaries, you know.”
Tommy nodded absentmindedly before reaching out a hand towards Wilbur’s thumb, pulling it towards him so the human’s fingers were covering his body.
Instead of the overwhelming heat from before, the hand felt calming and safe.
“Is this okay Toms?” Wilbur asked softly.
The only response he received was Tommy snuggling into the side of his hand, which he took as a sign to wrap his other hand around him. Like this he could keep Tommy safe from the world, anyone who wished to hurt his brother, intentionally or not, would have to get through Wil first.
“I’ll keep you safe Toms,” he comforted, “I promise.”
He pulled Tommy close to himself while the teen curled up in his hands. A small hand patted Wilbur’s palm appreciatively.
“Thank you,” Tommy whispered with a warm smile, “...Dickhead.”
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sunflower-nonny · 9 days ago
A bit of ed truthing but tubbo said around the end of the stream (I'll send a timestamp of you want as another asks) that he doenst want to eat the American food and asked if they can just make food themselves because, and I quote "I already feel fat" :((( some of the people on twitter caught it too, im honestly rlly concerned
i’m glad people are seeming to understand now, but i hope this doesn’t push him to hiding it. i don’t want him to see people freaking out and get worse without anybody knowing or being aware hes struggling because if he gets too bad things can go to shit so fucking quickly with this stuff. hopefully instead people are just a lot nicer and more aware of what they say/do and how it can affect him. maybe it’ll even make the other streamers around him aware, i know phil doesn’t have a good track record with being empathetic to tubbo and other streamers like quackity have made insensitive jokes regarding his body
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mimiplaysgames · 28 days ago
Text
Terra Week Day 2 (Youth/Fashion)
Summary: All Terra wants to do is be calm before the storm. Then  Lea plays a joke on him. And Isa talks to him about the past. Life is full of lemons and lemonade. | Word Count: 3,306
Read on AO3
A/N:  For Terra Week 2021! You can find that account on Twitter!
~*~*~*~*~
The Tenets of a Master, Ch. 2
Our hearts live free in our Youth Children shine Light with their truth
“Let me tell you something—don’t get offended, okay?”
Terra’s answer is a nervous chuckle. 
“Cross your heart,” Lea insists.
“I don’t know what that means.”
It’s a sunny afternoon at the eastern shore of Destiny Islands. Lea props his elbow on their shared beach table, ignoring his empty plate (he’s planning on being last for the barbecue, all for the extra saturation of flavor on the scraps). Terra is enjoying a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, pulp included. Lea narrows his eyes as if scanning Terra’s face, who is slurping another gulp. 
“Are you bothered by the way I’m drinking?” 
“I’m trying to decide if you’re the type to kick me under the table or punch me in the face.”
“That sounds more like Aqua.”
“She’d really—?”
“If you’re rude. Yeah.”
Lea smirks. “How rude, exactly?”
Terra was going to say that he’s seen her curse twice in the lifetime he’s known her, but something about that embarrasses him. Something about the way Lea studies him, about the way the other Keybearers address him so formally when they’re much more relaxed with each other. It makes him feel targeted. He’s never considered that he was weird until he’s surrounded by other people.
“Why don’t you spit out what you want to say.” 
“What’s with the uniform?” Lea asks, pointing vaguely at his chest and arm. “The crossed suspenders, the armor… You could break bones with those fancy shoes.”
“They’re… proper attire for a wielder? This is the crest of Mastery.” Terra points to his belt buckle. “To remind you of your goals. The armor to protect you from Darkness.” He holds his forearm, rubbing the metal like a friend in need of comfort. “The cross is a label, the Mark of Duty, so that anyone in need can find you.”
Lea snorts and immediately pulls out his Gummiphone, typing a quick message with a grin that knows an inside joke. Holding his chin, he opens his mouth as if to say something, then shakes his head and all the words out of it. “Exactly my point.”
“Your point?”
“You three kind of carry yourselves like you have sticks up your asses.”
Terra chokes on his drink. “What?”
Lea puffs out his chest and broadens his shoulders—he’s trying to imitate someone stiff and intimidating, but it doesn’t work. Not with a lanky body like that. “Have you seen the way you walk?” He wiggles his shoulders robotically. “Like there’s a five-foot pole shoved right up the asshole, all the way to the forehead.” 
Yeah, that would earn him a kick under the table if Aqua’s the one to hear it. At least, if anything, Lea makes it easy to smile.
“Admit it. You think the armor is cool.” Terra sure did when he forged it for the first time, telling Aqua that his first beta mold was not big enough.
Lea is quick to shut up, choosing his words too carefully. “A jacket would be nice. The peacoat types with the elbow padding.” 
“Or a cloak.” Terra chugs the last of his juice.
“Not a bad idea. Would look good with the hair.” Lea points up to Terra’s spiky crown. “You should talk to Isa. He likes to dress nice.” Standing up and crossing to the other side, he shoves Terra in the shoulder. “But seriously. You scare the other kids. We should address that.”
Terra swallows, his juice thick and gooey. 
It’s not really their fault, is it?
Maybe Terra is paranoid, but it seems like Roxas is avoiding him. Not that he deserves any blame—Roxas must have lots of stories to tell about Terra’s face. After all, it’s strange for Terra to look at someone with Ven’s face but with all the misplaced expressions. Right now, Roxas is the furthest away from Terra in the group, choosing to stand near the water with hands in his pockets. Riku is next to him, carrying two plates. They’re listening to Ven talk. 
Xion keeps to herself, but she also has a hard time looking Terra in the eyes. Terra’s been tempted to ask about her story, how she’s gotten here and whether Terra’s face has hurt her, but he’s afraid to ask. She’s with Kairi and Aqua, sharing fruity drinks with pineapple wedges on the rims.
“I scare them?”
“You are like a robot about to punch anyone who looks at you wrong. You need some sway. You know, like you’re a buddy. A teddy bear. Give me a hug, you know, that kind of vibe?” 
Terra’s never thought about it before. Master Eraqus emphasized the pride, the strength, the confidence. Walk it and you shall embody it. To be professional is to be trusted. But times have changed, and Terra needs to catch up. “Will you show me?”
The way Lea walks is the type you see among scheming minions guarding a castle atop grassless mountains (at least from the picture books Terra used to read as a kid). The sort of bravado that promises some and lies even more. Everyone thinks Lea is fun to hang around with, though (and truthfully, he is). He’d know better, and if this helps to melt the ice and make everyone comfortable with Terra, so be it.
“More weight to your step,” Lea says, ending his sentence with a pop and snapping his fingers. He straightens up to imitate Terra’s posture, almost on his toes. “You’re up here, like you’re trying not to shit yourself.”
That sounds easy enough. Terra swings his arms more, bending his knees every time he plants his foot so that he bobs up and down. It earns finger-points, whoops and snickers from the others. Lea brags about what a good job he’s done, signaling to Roxas specifically who shakes his head in disapproval (Ven looks toward the horizon out of embarrassment). 
Aqua has a tight smile and pretends to sip when Terra approaches. She leans close and whispers, “What have you been drinking?” 
“A crappy sense of humor.”
As much as Aqua wants to fight it, she snorts, and hands him her drink, speaking even lower so no one hears. “I bet ten munny this is better.”
It’s too sweet.
“Lea is so mean. He thinks you’re such an easy target,” Xion says, staring at the sand. That smile though is bingo, an improvement above the rest, so Lea’s done his job. She pulls out her Gummiphone and starts to type. Glancing at Terra, she corrects herself, “Sir.”
There’s no need for Sir but should Terra tell her that to make it more casual or would that be disrespectful to her wishes? 
A mock-laugh echoes through the beach when Lea checks his phone and lets everyone know that he still is very proud of himself. Xion sticks her tongue out at him. 
“I think it’s good for him, having this much fun,” Kairi says, swirling her straw. “Sometimes Lea can get too serious.” 
That doesn’t sound like Lea but Terra notices how engrossed he is in typing on his phone without a smile, totally not engaged in the conversation Roxas is having with Riku. Maybe Terra doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does. Maybe first impressions are fallacies. 
Smiles can be painted.
Like Kairi’s, her small grin a mask that doesn’t suit her. Terra would act the same, too, if one of his best friends, his family really, went missing.
“Naminé and the others are on their way,” Kairi says after she checks her phone. “We should go to her.”
“They’re not meeting us here?” Aqua asks.
“The sunset is much nicer on the other side of the island.” There goes Kairi’s painted smile. “But the water is bluer here. Good photo ops no matter where you are.”
“It’s a simple walk over, right?”
“Yes, ma’am. You’ll recognize the spot.”
The island is small, connected by caves and overcrowded with palm trees that hide how far the beach stretches. For some reason there’s a lingering ache somewhere in Terra’s stomach. He’s been at this beach before, but he is skeptical of that, as if the last and only time he was here was some sort of déja vu but he can’t picture what he’s supposed to remember. 
Maybe this is coming from Xehanort. That thought alone is both worrisome and exciting. 
“You ok?”
Riku lags behind with him as the rest of the group hikes through the sand. Aqua turns her back over and motions to do the same. It makes sense why she’s concerned—Terra is making it look like he’s isolating himself.
“I’m fine, just…” This world is so small. How crazy it is that it was that long ago when Terra sensed how Riku felt the same way. So much truth spoken in this small cluster of sand and water. 
Riku knowingly places his hands on his waist. Terra’s living protegé, successor, superior, all humility wrapped in pride with something that looks similar to guilty written on his face.
“I think I need some alone time. Tell Aqua five minutes,” Terra says. 
Riku smiles like he’s been there, done that millions of times before. “Will do.” He steps off, giving Aqua a wave of his hand that stops her in her tracks. 
When the voices fade and the water laps and crashes, Terra listens for something foreign but familiar. He follows the trail of shoe marks in the sand slowly, stepping stones to a moment he hopes might set off a little spark. Setting aside the vague fear of connecting hearts with someone dead and dangerous, he’s hoping for a lightning bolt, a sudden flash and then boom, he knows Rainfell is safe and sound.
But what he feels is as vacant as the ocean sprawled before him, like he’s stared at it for years. It’s making him anxious, how he wants to walk the surface and see what’s on the other side of the horizon. If the water drops off the edge of a cliff, if he falls all the way down to hell. 
And then, nothing. His heart sinks.
But why, though? Being spared from connecting to Xehanort means he gets to keep some sanity—
—but it also means that he’ll never reconnect with Master Eraqus ever again. Death is death, a door that goes one way. 
Maybe Terra is a terrible person for being so disappointed. 
A buzz in his pocket snaps him back to a reality where the sun is on its way to setting, and just like that, Terra feels lighter. 
He’s expecting a text from Aqua or Ven, but what he gets is:
kairi
at waterfall icymi
icymi?
Terra looks around for a sign. Shouts and laughter whisper from somewhere far away, followed by a splash of water. 
“Lost?”
Behind him is none other than Isa, put together in a tracksuit so impeccable it’d be a shame to sweat in. 
“I’m looking for Iseemee Waterfall.”
“Excuse me?”
“I think that’s where everyone else is.” Terra shows him the screen. 
Isa purses his lips as though he has found something amusing. “This island only marches in two directions. We’ll pass by it eventually.” He gestures to invite Terra to accompany him—come to think of it, Isa tends to keep to himself, his visits sparse and quick, usually speaking only when spoken to. “Ventus has offered a game of frisbee with me,” he says like it’s a blessing. “I found it to be very respectable.”
“He’s a good kid.” Terra can’t think of anything else to say except to repay the compliment. “Roxas is pretty cool.”
Isa flashes him a set of wide eyes before giving him a smile that’s equal parts unsettling and clairvoyant. “Roxas has his ways. You understand.”
“Of course.” Terra crosses his arms. The sand here sinks deep. “I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
“Nothing.” Deadpan and matter-of-fact are words Terra would use to describe the way Isa speaks, with a touch of softness that is too vulnerable to let itself be transparent. “Roxas will need some time to adjust to your face.”
Terra sighs.
“You can bribe him with a game.” Isa’s smiles are controlled but sincere, a ghost given life again but not sure how to use it. “He likes to win.”
That seems so simple yet why has Terra never thought of it? “Thanks for the pointers.”
Silence settles with them alongside the seabirds gawking over them, not awkward but not comfortable either, bringing with it a loss for words and a question hanging in the air that doesn’t get asked. They finally arrive at the spot: the same place Terra’s been before, at the same pier with lazy trees that bend near-parallel to the ground and grow star-shaped fruit. Everyone else is already here, Naminé a beaming pillar of light in her white dress, shy and nervous to dip her toes in the water. 
Isa takes a seat on a rockface next to the lowest-hanging tree. 
“May I admit,” Isa says, his hands splayed on his lap as he watches the ocean turn purple, “it is also strange for me to look upon your face.” There’s no waver to his voice, no hesitation. Isa is brave.
“I don’t blame you.” Seems like a common theme: leave a trail of suffering, and everyone’s going to remember you for it. “Actually, I wanted to ask you something.”
“You may go ahead.”
“I want to help Aqua find her Keyblade.”
Even Isa’s chuckles have restraint and poise. “I wouldn’t know of such a thing.”
“I was the last one to have it.”
“You mean Xehanort.”
“Well…”
“A matter of a different person. I must insist so.”
“You knew him.”
“I did not. You overestimate the time he lived in your body. The majority of those years were under Xemnas’s control.”
“Xemnas.”
“His Nobody. Or rather, yours.”
Terra can’t help it. He has to chuckle. “I appreciate your straightforwardness.”
Isa turns to face him. “Lea tells me you consider the X crossed over your chest as a mark to bear with pride.”
It slaps Terra in the face. Isa has scars jutting across his nose, too deep to be self-inflicted. “Um… yeah.” He clears his throat. “We call it a Mark of Duty.”
Isa does not seem offended, but whether that is out of authenticity or politeness, Terra can’t read him. 
“We’ve called it the Recusant’s Sigil,” Isa says slowly, eyes far away. “It bore us new names. Defined us so we refused to submit to our old identities, leaving us free to forge a united purpose.” He mimics the shape of the X with a finger across his chest. Cross my heart. “To the very end. That cross spelled an ending. We were all heretics to the person we once lived.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Terra whispers. The Master wore it proudly to the day of his own demise. 
Isa touches his face. “Xemnas marked me deeper than the others.”
“I’m so sorry.” Terra gasps. “I don’t… I don’t have memory of that.” 
“Ah.” A painted smile. If Isa hoped for some sort of validation or acknowledgment, Terra has failed spectacularly. “All the same, A Nobody’s path is a means to an end. We were all watched, weeded out for traitors.” Suddenly he does not look like Isa, but someone else with Isa’s face. “How Xemnas lacked the scope to understand us.”
“What do you mean?”
“We were perhaps experiments doomed to fail. The piece of Xehanort’s heart installed into us was supposed to swallow us whole. But the foundation of this concept was flawed. We kept memories of our human selves. That was supposed to make us superior to lesser Nobodies, but it was also our weak link. The goal was to keep us numb to them, so when we inevitably remembered, we’d have little care and wouldn’t dare stray from our duties.
“For me, the more I remembered the images, the more I remembered what I had sought out to do in my life.” Isa nods to himself. “Being a Nobody was supposed to give me strength to follow through, but it felt like shrinking. Until there came a point where I grew back. By then, I couldn’t fit myself anymore.”
“What were you trying to do before you became a Nobody?”
Isa passes him that knowing smile, a secret. “Finding a proper ending to my own story.” He exhales, content. “Do you have any memory from being Xemnas at all?”
“None.”
“What about from Xehanort?”
“No.”
Isa frowns. “Nothing in these past twelve years? Where were you?”
Thickness clogs Terra’s throat like a cork, painful to take down. He shrunk for twelve years, too, shoved into a corner of a room with no walls, black on black on black, as if light never existed. He’d move as if he had arms when he had none, flail and try to wake himself up when he had none. He wasn’t anyone or anything but a name. 
He shouldn’t have lived for twelve years. But he did. He lived when he knew Eraqus was near, never seen except once (a bushy smile hidden under the mustache), never heard, never touched. When Terra tried to speak, tried to listen, tried to move and ask for help, he couldn’t. He just knew Eraqus was there to give him hope that the nightmare would stop. Thus he lived. 
The part with Eraqus, Terra keeps to himself. 
“I was Nowhere.”
“I can’t begin to comprehend what that is supposed to be like.”
“A loop,” Terra briskly answers, leaning onto the palm tree and breathing in the parched aroma of bark. The air is crisp with salt and it’s fanning out the heat of the sun from earlier that day. There is laughter and the relaxing crunch of waves and a humid layer on his skin—everything he couldn’t get in Nowhere. “I played the same memory of my nineteenth birthday for one hundred times. I don’t know why I chose that memory so much, I guess I thought that was as good as it was going to get. The same conversations, the same jokes, over and over again. I made sure to get everyone’s voices right so I wouldn’t forget. 
“But after the fiftieth time, I’d beg Aqua to say something different, but she never did. I’d try to ask Ven a new question but it never escaped my mouth. I could only act the part I was supposed to. Over and over again. When I was tired of it, I went back to Nowhere and waited. 
“I only kept going because… I think I wanted to live. On a loop. I wanted to, then I didn’t. Then I did.
“You never know what kind of thoughts will hit you when you think you’ve decided to let go. At random times, it—” He sounds like a stranger to himself. “I convinced myself that this will never end. That I’ll be punished forever. I needed to burn out once and for all. 
“And when I’d get to that point, I’d realize some things. I’d realize that I never made things right with my friends, so I told myself that I had to get through this, and get myself out.
“Then I remember I’ll never be free. I’m so tired. But I’ve never had my first kiss, so I have to get out of this if I’m ever going to experience it.
“Then you decide to play your most humiliating memory to find out exactly what you did wrong, when you’ve made your best friend cry. It makes you want to forget everything and rest. But—and this is going to sound weird—I’ve never ordered food at a restaurant before. So, if I ever will, I must get out of this.”
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mstacobelle · a month ago
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Inspired by Wehavesuchfun whom I don’t know but who’s thoughts I enjoy. Fat shaming. My own personal perspective is that it’s not so much the Trump administration as it is he made everyone more aware of it. I feel like I’ve been dealing with this culture since birth. Also, the anonymous nature of both social media and masks seems to give people free license to be terrible to fellow humans. I’m 47 years old, 5ft tall and at least 50lbs heavier than any medical guidelines say I should be.
As a child I certainly was not fat. I have round cheeks and was probably what was described as “sturdy”. My mother was 4’10” and weighed less than 100 pounds most of her life. I was born at 40 and she probably weighted 125 most of my childhood years. Never wore above a size 10. My most common memory is her obsession with her weight. Diets and discussions about diets, fad diets etc. I never realized it until adulthood, but the driver there was probably my father. After my divorce he actually said to me you’re never going to find a new man if you don’t lose weight. He was in his late 70s and had dementia, but I’d say that was probably my life’s message and I didn’t realize it till adulthood and that comment. My ex husband’s treatment of me was directly related to my weight and habits around weight. (Those who know me know these stories) He literally treated me nicer and more lovingly at lower weights and if I was actively dieting and exercising. The programming was so thorough that post divorce I thought I’d never be in a relationship if I couldn’t be thinner. I still struggle with this. Fast Forward to Chad. No issues with weight. Clearly and consistently indicated he thought I was beautiful. His two previous girl friends were both heavier girls. He really had a thing for big butts. Absolutely attracted to a curvier figure. One of the biggest fights we ever had was on the subject of weight. He said something obnoxiously rude about a girls weight on Twitter during an argument with her. I’m not particularly a fan of this girl and she’s full of drama, but it was a shitty comment. She’s not thin, but attractive and certainly not heavier than me. I said to him it’s awful that you insulted her weight. He was completely flabbergasted that I was mad about it. He said you’re taking this personally and it’s not about you. I expressed that he’s basically attaching her looks to her weight. Her value to her weight. How could I not be offended by this. If you think her weight makes her unattractive then how could you find me attractive? Eventually once he stopped being a jerk and we discussed it, it really wasn’t that he thought she was fat or unattractive. It was that he knew that it’s an effective insult. It’s something that he knew would strike a chord. I was disgusted and pissed and didn’t speak to him for several days. I never heard anything like it again from him, so hopefully he learned something from me.
Ultimately, I think that it’s a weapon people know is effective as an insult. I’m philosophical that sometimes it’s not what someone finds attractive. I don’t really find shorter blonde guys attractive. We are attracted to what we are attracted to. Hurling fat shaming insults at people is not ok. If you do it because you’re purposely hitting where it hurts, stop it. Those are scars people carry for life and impact every relationship they have including the one with themselves.
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angelsxbelle · a month ago
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hq boys when they cheat on you.
this is so angsty i’m sorry buy- i was in desperate need of haikyuu cheating angst and i couldn’t find any so i wrote some:’)
characters: atsumu, tendou, semi, bokuto
i hope this is okay, i might do more of this as a series with different characters- also for whatever reason my bokuto tags weren’t working??
warnings: mentions of sex but nothing explicit, angst, unresolved angst in some, general sadness
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ATSUMU  ♡  you had noticed a change in the man you had once called your boyfriend, the late nights, the lipstick on his shirt that didn’t look familiar. the feeling that he didn’t want you anymore. and yet to the untrained eye he was the same loving and caring boyfriend he had always been. you could have sworn he was exactly the same as when you first started dating, when he was in love with you and only you. he claimed to have just been tired, he was affectionate but somewhat hesitant, as if there was something he was looking for somewhere else but couldn’t find it. so when you came home early from work one night, remembering he would still be at the practice he said he had, you finally saw what he was looking for, the bags of groceries crashing and breaking on the floor as you clutched your hand to your chest in disbelief, fingers clawing at the fabric of your shirt. atsumu’s eyes shot up to you in a millisecond, you could see the cold fear in them as he realized that you had just walked in on him on top of another girl in your bed. “b-babe! It’s not what it looks like i promise! ya just walked in at the wrong time!” you hesitated, “h-how could you do this to me tsumu? you said i was good enough, that you love me, was it nothing this entire time? you said at the beginning no other girl could compare to me, am i just nothing to you? nothing?” “just please stay i promise i can fix it! please don’t go ya can’t-” “don’t do this to me tsumu”, you say as tears spill down your cheeks. you force yourself to walk away, taking small steps as you feel like you’re about to throw up. he was right, you thought. those other girls could never compare to how worthless you were.
TENDOU  ♡  being with tendou was amazing at first, he was the best boyfriend you could ever have asked for, he always knew what to do to make you fall in love with him even more, the little things that you would always notice he did for you. and as you settled into your relationship things were still just as good, you were closer to him than before. as you had known tendou in high school and after graduating you knew him better than anyone else did, about his past, his insecurities, his fears. he was a cheerful and playful person normally, it was part of his personality but it was also his way of hiding the things he didn’t want anyone else to see. you noticed lately he was getting clingier, more anxious, the smile on his face had started to slip away as the days past and he seemed less and less like himself. all you could do was comfort him, while you laid in bed with him and held his face to your chest as you whispered all the things you loved about him into his ears as tears streamed down his face. and then one afternoon while he was at work, you got a text from your best friend. you read what she had said, but you just couldn’t understand. so you waited for him to come home. it was silent. you stood in front of him, while he sat at your kitchen table. “satori, i know you cheated on me.” his eyes got wide and you could see the panic etched in his face. “before you freak out, i’m not leaving, i hate that you did this to me, but i’m going to forgive you.” he broke down in tears in front of you, his sobs echoing off the walls of your shared apartment. you walked up to him and wrapped him up in a tight hug. “i’m s-sorry”, he cried while clutching on to your shirt, “i’ll never do it again.” you said, “i love you, and i know you need me right, now, and if you ever do i’ll leave but for right now, i can’t lose you. we can figure this out, i promise.”
SEMI  ♡  he had always told you he got shy seeing people he knew come to his shows, that it would make him nervous and that he’d mess up and freeze on the spot. and you believed him, and kept your distance since you knew you were the one he came home to, and you trusted him. and so you were content with just laying on his bare chest at home, listening to him pluck away at his guitar as he sung softly for you, it was moments like these that made up for it all. things had been going well for you, but when you had a night off of work the same day as one of his shows, you figured it couldn’t hurt to try and see him if you hid in the shadows where he couldn’t see you, and just listen to him play. and so you snuck away that night, butterflies in your stomach from nerves and hopefulness. just as you had imagined, he was amazing, every word he sang came out of his heart alive, and after it was all over you made your way backstage, hoping he wouldn’t be too upset with you. so there you stood, in the doorway of the backstage entrance, feeling your heart drop the ground and shatter as you watched your boyfriend kissing another girl against the wall, grabbing handfuls of her ass and her hair, like you had never even existed at all. his eyes opened, and grew wide as he saw you standing in the doorway. “b-babe! what are you doing here?” “i came to see you, i guess you were right, i shouldn’t have come here at all”, you said, voice cracking as you fought back tears. “w-we can still make this right though, she didn’t mean anything to me!” you could see in his eyes that he knew he was fighting a losing battle, and as you saw tears prick at the corner of his eyes, you turned around and muttered, “goodbye eita.”
BOKUTO  ♡  from the day that he asked you out with a boyish grin on his face and a blush painting his round cheeks, bokuto koutarou had been the best person to be by your side, always the right choice for you and the only man you could ever imagine being with your entire life. even after years he never changed, every day with him was just as interesting as the last and he always showered you with love, never letting you forget how much he loved you. sometimes he had to reassure you since you would get insecure occasionally, reminded of the twitter comments saying the bokuto koutarou deserved someone better looking. he would kiss you all over, saying he loved every part of you and that you were all his, forever. one night you were watching one of your favorite movies together, cuddled up on the couch together wrapped up in layers of blankets with his big arms wrapped around you. he got up to go use the bathroom, and you sat alone on the couch waiting for him to come back when you heard his phone buzz, and decided to stop and look at it to make sure it wasn’t for work. 1 image attachment. 2 image attachments. you opened up instagram to check and your heart rate skyrocketed once you saw what it was. pictures of a girl with what you could barely call lingerie on showed up on the screen, a girl with a much nicer body than yours and perfect features. “babyyy i’m baaack!!!” you looked up and held up the phone, whispering, “kou, what is this?” his face completely distorted into an expression of pure horror, all the color washing away from his cheeks. “i- i didn’t ask for those, i promise! she must be one of my fans that tried to send me pictures, i’ll block her right now!” “how am i supposed to believe you kou, you can do so much better and you know it”, you almost shouted. his heart broke when he realized what you really thought of yourself. tears started to stream down your face at the same time they leaked from your boyfriend’s eyes, he pulled you in close, whispering in your ear, “i would never hurt you baby, i love you too much.” you held onto him tighter, you knew he was telling the truth and you also knew he’d never hurt you either, never in his whole life.
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so um- yeah bokuto’s originally wasn’t supposed to have a wholesome ending but he was too much of a cinnamon roll i couldn’t do it :’)
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crashdevlin · a month ago
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Another Second Chance 16- Born This Way
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Another Second Chance Masterlist, Happily Ever Eventually Masterlist
Author’s Note: The final (hopefully) installment of the Happily Ever Eventually RPF series.
Summary: Y/n shows Nate that she's done playing. Jensen and Nova bond over Out Youth.
Pairing: Jensen x Reader
Word count: 3844
Story Warnings: past cheating, mentions of terfs and anti-trans bullshit, use of the word 'queer' (which is our word and not the slur some people think it is)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Are you out of your mind? You put in for child support?”
“Hello to you too, Nate.” I’ve been expecting this call.
“You’re a fucking movie star! You’re a millionaire! Why are you trying to fleece me with support payments?”
“I’m a D-lister, not a star, and not surprisingly my net worth doesn’t mean much here. I’m not putting in for spousal support, I’m putting in for child support for the daughter we created that you are not currently in care of. My lawyer advised me that it was the best thing for Nova if you continued to support her schooling, clothing, part of her food and board, her healthcare, that sort of thing. You know, all the things I’ve been supporting for years.”
“I don’t have the money to-”
“You don’t have the money to fight me on this, Nate,” I snap. “See, you really shouldn’t have come to our daughter with your ‘I shouldn’t have to miss you and I’m gonna file full custody so I don’t have to miss you ever again’ bullshit because she doesn’t want to live with you anymore and you allowed her to come here. You drove her to the airport. You know what my lawyer can do with that?”
He lets out an anguished sound. “Look, Nova must’ve just misunderstood. I-”
“And here’s the gaslighting bull about how you’re not a manipulative asshole that she legitimately called a fucking sociopath a few days ago. You really think she’s gonna fall for the same shit manipulation techniques I did? She’s a thousand times smarter than I am, smarter than Jenny is. You have no shot here. She knows what she heard. She knows what you intended. You have no leg to stand on.”
I bite my bottom lip and shake my head as I stand from my chair and walk away from the set. “You know, our daughter told me that I’ve been too fuckin’ nice to you over the years and I’m pretty sure she’s right. I’ve been well-off for years now and I never hired a lawyer who could really take you for everything you had. I’ve never been that bitch but if you wanna invite it, I’ll do it. You want me to act like a celebrity and a millionaire, I’ll be that. Nova and I will give my new shark lawyer every little piece of information he needs to destroy you in Family Court...and I’ll call in Jenny and all your girlfriends to be character witnesses.”
“Y/n, you can’t-”
“I can.” I press the phone to my ear harder. “I am done, Nathan. I am done letting people get away with stuff because I’m too tired to fight about it. This is my daughter we are talkin’ about and I’m not tired anymore. I let you hold sway over her, use her as a weapon against me, try to pull her under your wave of oppression for far too fucking long. I think I felt like I deserved to be without my girl, because I was so fucked in the head, but I’m past that now and I want what’s best for her and that has never been you. You have no self-control, no self-respect, and the fact that our daughter has managed to be the amazing young woman she is despite your influence is a goddamn miracle. You have two options here, Nate. Back off and let this happen and I won’t come at you for everything you’ve done in the past...or fight and I drag up every secret you think is still hidden. I’m a millionaire. How many P.I.s do you think it would take to find all your affairs and one-night stands?”
There’s silence on the other side of the phone for a very long minute.
“How bad would that fuck up the divorce you’re going through? If I paraded every single woman you’ve fucked over the last ten years through a courtroom, put their names on record...Jenny would take that info and run wouldn’t she?”
“Don’t,” he says and it’s like...this croaky, beautiful, amazingly broken sound. Well, that’s a power trip. “She would ruin me.”
“Yeah. She would. Like I should have.” I look back toward the stage. “I am far too nice though, Nate, so back down and I won’t provide her with that ammunition...and I’ll let you pay a fair amount of child support, much less than I’ve been paying to you.”
He sighs loudly. "Fine. Not like I could afford another fucking lawyer anyway."
"Very true. There should be a paper in that packet to sign...that way my lawyer can just go to a judge and get it approved and then we can move on with our lives." I start back toward the sound stage and smile. “Don’t worry. I’m certain I’m the nicer of your ex-wives. Dealing with me to avoid dealing with her is the best approach here. I gotta get back to work. Talk to you later, Nate.”
“Ex-husband?” Matt asks when I get back to the set and I nod. “Douchebag.”
I laugh. The frat-bro-y guy I know...wearing fur pants just called Nate a douchebag. I love it. “Let’s get back to work. We’ve got Shakespeare to steal.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Wait, so we don’t even have to go to court?” Nova asks, setting the table with a plastic plate and three large porcelain ones as I stir alfredo sauce. “He just signed it?”
“Yup. Marcus called half an hour ago, said your dad walked into his office, signed it in front of the notary and demanded Marcus call to let me know I could 'call off the dogs'." I chuckle as I imagine the scenario. “So, you’re mine full-time as soon as the judge stamps it.”
“That’s awesome! So, I won’t have to worry about going back ever again?”
“Not unless you want to go back.” I shrug and grab the colander of fettuccine from the sink.
“Why would I want to go back?” she says, all snark and sarcasm. I’m about to respond that her feelings toward her father might change after a few months without him, but the doorbell rings and she rushes out of the kitchen. “I’ll get it!”
“Nova!” Maverick shouts as soon as the door opens.
“Hey, little dude! Mum’s in the kitchen.”
“Hey, Nova.”
“Jensen.” The coldness of that one word. Wow. “She’s already got garlic bread.”
“These are rolls from Mrs. Bea’s Bakery.”
I smile. Jay remembers my favorite bakery. "I'm almost done with the food. Are they fresh?" I call out.
"Stopped in on the way over. She pulled a new batch just for us."
"For you, you mean. Beatrice has always had a crush on you. She tells me every time I go in." Jensen walks in and sets the box of rolls in the middle of the table. God, he looks good. He always does. Kinda bullshit, if you ask me. Always camera-ready.
“Don’t feel threatened. She’s old enough to be my mother.” He walks over and leans down to kiss my cheek. “Need any help?”
“Nope. Sit down and get comfortable.”
“Mom!” Mav yells, running in and wrapping himself around my legs.
“Hey, baby! Why don’t you go climb up into your chair while Mommy finishes putting the white sauce on the noodles?”
He lets out an ‘Okie!’ and turns to run toward the table.
“You know, they aren’t actually noodles. Noodles are Asian and usually made from wheat, whereas pasta is usually durum semolina,” Nova corrects as she sits at the table and opens the box of rolls. “Wow, those are garlicky.”
“Anybody ever tell you that you’re a know-it-all?” Jensen sounds amused as he sits across from her.
“All the time. It’s a compliment.”
“Yes, it is,” he agrees. I pour sauce over the pasta and mix it together, getting a good coating over the not-noodles, before taking the pot to the table. “So, I was asking Mad Max about his birthday and he was telling me-”
“HARRY POTTER!” Maverick screams and we all flinch.
Jensen scoffs out a laugh as I start scooping fettuccine onto the plates. “The twins started reading to him, moved on to the first three movies a couple days ago. He’s a bit crazy for it. So I was thinking...ya know, Universal does Potterverse Christmas stuff and that should still be going on his birthday so-”
“Sorry, but if you go to Harry Potter World, I’m staying home,” Nova says, grabbing a roll.
“Why?” Jay asks.
Nova rolls her eyes. “Because even though I know JK Rowling doesn’t get the money directly from Universal Studios, I can’t even begin to support her when she’s still a freakin’ TERF. Gives radfems a bad name.” Yeah. That’s valid, No. She looks across the table and catches Jay’s eyes. “TERF means ‘Trans-Exclus-”
“Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. Yeah. I know.” Nova’s eyes go wide at Jay’s response. “I forgot that Rowling’s that special kind of misogynist. So, okay…” Jensen looks over at Maverick. “We can’t do Harry Potter World, buddy.”
“No!” Maverick screeches. “I wanna ride the Hogwars Espress!”
“Hey, you stop that right now,” Jay demands and Mav clams up. “Your big sister is right. We can’t show support for somebody filled with that kind of hate. We’ll do something else.”
“I...how do you know about-” Nova starts.
“I had a nice long conversation with a drag queen named Tony, I think their drag name is Sweet Tea, at the Out Youth Austin Gala a few years ago.” Jensen grabs a roll and places it on the plate as I start spooning meatballs in red sauce over the fettuccine drenched in white sauce. “We spent most of an hour talking about Rowling’s transformation from her vaguely antisemitic brand of horrible to her blatantly anti-queer brand of horrible. Sweet Tea said it was Twitter’s fault for giving her easy access to other people’s bullshit ideas, but I think if you were paying attention to her before Twitter, you’d see she’s never really been a good person. Bad people can create lovable characters.”
Nova blinks at him a few times and I can see wheels turning in her head. She’s so shocked.
“You...went to an Out Youth Gala?”
“Yeah. They invite me and some folks from the brewery to the Gala every year. We donate...well, the amount isn’t important. The work they do is. Kids your age need a place-”
“I know!” she exclaims, a rare smile suddenly on her face. She looks almost...enamored? “I have friends at school that get counseled at Out Youth! They literally save lives there. I can’t believe you’re...you’re not queer, though.”
“Do I have to be in order to be an ally?”
Her jaw actually drops for a second. “Well...no, but...most people who say they’re allies don’t actually do anything, they just say they’re allies, but you...you actually-”
“Nova, honey, my aunt is gay. Her and her wife are two of my favorite people in the world. I’m an ally because I’d love there to be a time when queer folks don’t need allies...and the only way we get to that level of acceptance is if cishet white men use our privilege to make acceptance the norm.”
“What’s that mean?” Mav asks.
“Means people are more likely to listen to him and follow his lead because he’s a pretty, white man.”
“And rich and famous,” Nova fills in.
“Actually, to some people, the fact that we’re famous actors means we aren’t supposed to have opinions on things,” I say, finishing prepping plates and taking my seat at the table.
“Yeah. We’re not human beings or American citizens with rights to our own opinions. We’re actors so...shut up and act, you liberal Hollywood elites.”
I laugh. “Can you imagine? I worked retail until I was in my late twenties! Hollywood elite. What a joke.”
“I want meatballs!” Mav has apparently lost interest in the conversation.
“You’ve got meatballs,” I say.
“I don’t want the ‘ccine!”
“Mav, pasta is yummy. You like macaroni, right? Fettuccine is the same stuff, just long and flat.” Reasoning with a five year old. Always so much fun.
“I don’t like the white stuff!”
“You like it just fine when it’s on spaghetti.”
“I don’t like it!”
“Yes, you do.”
“No!”
“Maverick, don’t-”
“NO!”
I cringe for a second as his voice takes on that squeaky, high-pitched sound. I go to reprimand him but Jay just turns his head to the left and sets his jaw.
“Maverick Maxwell Ackles, you stop right now.” He doesn’t even raise his voice...but Mav stops screaming. “You apologize to your mother. She made you a yummy dinner and you’re not being very nice to her.”
Mav swallows, tears forming along his long eyelashes as he nods. “I’m sorry, Mommy.”
“It’s okay, buddy. Just eat your food. It’s good, I promise.”
He nods and starts swirling pasta around the tines of his fork. Jay clears his throat and smiles across the table at Nova. “Anyway, back to the point...Out Youth is a really good organization and I support them fully. No other organization I’ve gotten on a stationary bike for.”
I remember that. He and Danneel did Soulcycle for charity. “You’re kinda known for that kinda stuff, though...since you started hanging with Misha and got into Random Acts and stuff. Like...Bad Idea Tour?”
“Misha always talking us into stuff." He shakes his head and spears a meatball on his fork. "But damn if the result isn't great."
"Generally," I agree.
"Hey, why don't you come with me to the next gala, Chevy? December 19th."
"What? Really?" Nova hasn’t even picked up her fork and the look on her face says she's far more interested in the conversation than my Red and White pasta and meatballs.
Jay nods. "Yeah. Can't think of anybody better to go with me."
"Wh-what about my mom?"
"There’s only one LGBT person sitting at this table. I kinda think she should get to rub elbows with the high-profile LGBT Austinites."
"I...I would love to go. I don’t have anything to wear though."
"It's a couple weeks out. I can take you shopping if you want...get you some pride apparel...or just something cute. I noticed you don't have anything in bi pride colors...and your rainbows aren't too prominent. Is that by choice or circumstance?" Jensen’s so conversational and she seems so blown away. He's working his magic again and she's not even trying to defend herself anymore.
"Um...well, the only place I could buy that stuff back in Florida was at Hot Topic and the only time they really carry it is during Pride and even then it was just a half of a small pod shelf and I wasn't really interested in tie-dye in purples and pinks and blues, ya know?" She picks up her fork finally.
"Well, you live in Austin now, Nova. We can find you something you'll treasure." And there's the wink. Cue shy look from Nova, she has no clue what to do with herself if she's not pushing him away...I'm happy he's getting through though. Jay is a part of my life, hopefully for the rest of it...I need him to fix this with her.
"You are a sneaky, super-smart man, you know that?"
"What?" he responds innocently.
“I know for a fact that you were planning to take me to that gala. It’s why you were snooping around in my dress size the other day.”
He smirks and pulls me from the couch beside him to sit in his lap. “Nova needs it more. Didn’t think you’d mind.”
“I don’t.” I smile softly and reach up to caress his cheek. “I want you to break down her walls. I want you guys to love each other as much as I love you both. So, if showing her that you care about her and her people does that...if showing her the respectful, wonderful, great man you are extends to everyone, not just your friends and family is the way to do that, then I have absolutely no problem with you taking my girl to a gala.”
“Good.” He looks into my eyes and smiles that smile that gives me butterflies...all those crinkles at the corners of his eyes. “She’s gonna come around. ‘Cause I’m not goin’ anywhere this time.”
I lean forward and up, smirking as I kiss him. “I might send you packing again. You don’t know.”
“I know you’d only do that if I fucked up again and I am doing my best to keep that from happening again.”
“I know,” I whisper. “But it’s fun to fuck with you about it.”
“Yeah, go ahead and use my immeasurable guilt as a joke.”
“Not that I really needed your permission.” I kiss him again. "Don't put my daughter in any of your 'fashion-forward' clothes. We want her to look good."
He looks offended. "What, are you saying I don't look good?"
"I'm saying sometimes you look like Chef Boyardee if he had more money than sense and that isn't a look I want for my daughter's first gala that she's very excited about."
His eyebrows are stuck in the 'shock' position for a minute before he starts laughing. "I did not look like Chef Boyardee!"
I laugh and roll off of his lap. "You did! All you were missing was the Hundred-fold Hat and the mustache!" I stand in front of him and reach out to run my hands through his hair. "Maybe I should take her shopping. I'm afraid of what you might buy her."
"Fine. But I'm taking her to some of the LGBT owned and operated shops downtown. The girl deserves a pride flag."
“I think she’d really like that. There’s a spot on her wall that would be perfect.” He licks his lips and nods. He’s got that look like he’s got something on his mind. “What? What’s going on in that brain of yours?”
“I was just...nothin’. It’s nothin’.”
That won’t do. “No, come on. Commitment to honesty, remember?”
He sighs and rubs at the back of his neck. “I was just thinking that...this is a small house. You got Mav in a bedroom that’s doubling as your office on the days when he’s with me and Nova needs a bigger bedroom than the one you’ve got her in and-”
“I’m not buying a new house, Jay. This is my place! This has been my place for-”
“Okay, but things are changing, babe.” He stands and steps up in front of me, looking down into my eyes. “Things have changed a lot in the last, what, three months? You bought this house when you were barely getting to see your kids. One of ‘em lives with you full-time now, the other is over here several times a week. You need more space. You gotta go bigger. You need three bedrooms and an office.”
Fuck, he’s right.
“Maybe we find a real big place. Six bedrooms...one with room for all the kids,” he suggests.
“You wanna move back in together?” Now I know why he hesitated.
“Well, yeah. I mean...that way...we’d be together. You’d get to be with Maverick all the time. Birdie would get to be around Nova. We’d get to...wake up next to each other again.”
Too much. Too fast. Too big.
"No." I can see the hurt in his eyes at my rejection so I reach out and grab his hand. "We're in love and I know, Jay, I know how much you want to get to the sweet parts and the living together and the happy stuff we left behind in the ash, but it's too much. It's too much and it's too fast. We're supposed to be going slow. We can't just sign a mortgage together when I couldn’t even be in a room with you six months ago. Please understand, I-"
"I do. I understand." He smiles, a bit sadly, and kisses my forehead. "But you still need a bigger place. You should get a realtor looking for something at least a thousand feet bigger."
I nod and hug him.
“I’m not changing schools,” Nova’s voice says from behind me. “So...stay in this district.” I turn to her and she leans against the railing at the bottom of the stairs, crossing her arms over her chest. “And it’s not eavesdropping. I was just walking down the stairs and overheard you. You’re loud. I’m gonna need a Southern exposure window and a walk-in closet. Also, I’m proud of you! You set boundaries and stuck to them! You’re doing the best for yourself!”
“Thank you, Supernova. We will look around for a house for sale in the neighborhood, okay?” There’s something weird about getting praise from my daughter...and how warm that makes me feel.
Jensen checks his watch and sighs. “Should probably get the boy home. It’s pretty late.”
“Right. Okay.” I hug him again and he kisses the top of my head before heading up the stairs to get Maverick. I maintained my boundaries. Why does this feel so fucking...big? Why does everything seem so fucking big lately? “We’ll pull up a few real estate websites before bed, okay?”
“Yeah, okay.” Nova comes over and pats my shoulder. “You should share your progress with your doctor. You haven’t talked to her in a long while.”
That’s true. “Yeah. I’ll have to get an appointment with her.” I smile when Jay walks down the stairs with Maverick asleep in his arms. “Text me when you get home?”
“Of course. I love you, Y/n. Let me know if you need help house-hunting.”
“Definitely. Love you.” He leans down to kiss me before walking out of the house.
“You two are disgusting,” Nova says before walking out of the living room.
God, I love her.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I take Nova to a shockingly pink building on the corner of Burnett and 51st. Spring Frost is one of my favorite boutiques that Gen introduced me to years ago. Everything should be expensive. It all looks expensive, but it’s not. It’s really good for the ‘Likes nice things but remembers what it was like to not have money so doesn’t want to waste it’ actor.
I walk around the shop with Nova, holding up dresses to her body and looking for that flash of excitement in her eyes for one of them. We find a few and she heads off to the dressing room with the employee and I look around. The bell over the door dings as someone walks in. I turn enough to catch auburn curls and bright red lips...and now I have half a second to decide whether I'm going to acknowledge her or hide.
I take a deep breath and release the dress on the rack I'm holding, turning to her with a smile. "Hello, Danneel."
~~~~~~~~~~~~
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pies-writes-and-more · a month ago
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you broke me first
Word Count: 3,325
Warnings: angsty breakup, some sad shit happening, and some swear words lol
Pairing: Tsukishima Kei x GN!Reader (pls let me know if something is gendered so I can fix it!) -> characters are like University age :) 
A/N: here is Pies trying to write angst because I felt like crying today lol. Huge thank you to @satan-ruler-of-hells​ and @thisnoodlewritesao3​ for pre-reading this for me and making me feel like it was somewhat decent enough to post LOL. Anyways! Inspired by the song ‘you broke me first” by Tate McRae! Feel free to listen to it while reading, or not haha. Enjoy! (And I’m sorry in advance lol)
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(not my gif, creds to the original creator!)
The truth was always best. And somewhere deep down, you knew this. But through all the tears and scrunched up tissues discarded on the floor, you wished he had just lied to you.
He could’ve told you that things just weren’t working. That long distance was difficult and that he was struggling with it. He could’ve told you he had fallen out of love with you, or that you two were better off as friends.
But no. He had to tell you the truth. Because he was Tsukishima Kei, the one whose sharp and painfully honest words haunted your thoughts.
He had stood there in front of you, barely looking you in the eyes because he had never been able to look at you while you teared up.
“Why?” You had whispered softly, your whole chest feeling like it might split open.
He barely hesitated. He had wanted to tell you the truth after all, figured you deserved to know. Or at least, he didn’t want you to find out from someone else. His exact words were lost somewhere in the universe but you knew exactly what he had meant. There was someone else. No longer were you the one on Tsukishima’s mind. Gone were the days where you filled every available space in his heart. There was someone better, someone stronger, someone who was probably everything you had ever wanted to be.
Good for him, you thought to yourself bitterly afterwards. After all, someone like Tsukishima deserved to be with someone better. Someone that was on his level. You weren’t sure how many days you had spent in your room, all you knew is that people kept coming to your door and offering a few words to try and cheer you up.
As much as you wanted to thank them for coming, you never replied. You let them sit out there and talk, some telling you that they never thought Tsukishima was a good fit for you anyways. Others told you that this was really for the best and you could move on with your life.
Why didn’t anyone understand? Tears prickled the corners of your eyes the more you listened to the same crap over and over again. Why couldn’t they get it? He was the only one who ever saw you for exactly who you were. And for a while, you thought all your walls were down for a reason. He could see right through them and still chose to be with you. Who the hell would do that now? Who would look at how broken you were and still want to be with you? He had seen you and wanted you still, even if it was just for a while. Now you were sure, there would be no one else after him.
Yamaguchi stopped by and you knew it was him ever before he spoke. The way he shuffled in front of your door, nervously like he was expecting to be thrown out already. You knew your roommates were shooting him dirty looks because Yamaguchi had always just been Tsukishima’s friend to them, never yours. But he had been your friend. And he had been the one that you were going to miss most, aside from Tsukishima, because there was no way you could ever look him in the eye after this.
As soon as he started speaking, Yamaguchi was apologizing. You wanted to cover your ears with your pillow, crying into your mattress until he was gone. But your heart was breaking more just hearing him.
He was apologizing and for what? For something he didn’t even do.
“-tried to tell him what he was losing,” he was saying, his voice a bit clearer. He was probably sitting against your door, staring up at the ceiling with his own tears in his eyes because Yamaguchi had a heart like yours. “I’m so sorry, Y/N… I never expected things to end like this.”
I didn’t either, you thought to yourself. So how did it end like this?
When you were finally ready to leave your room, a gust of gossip made you feel like you shouldn’t have. Whispers of Tsukishima already being with someone else, sad looks of pity shot towards your direction as you walked across campus, your friends suddenly trying to keep you off of social media as much as possible.
You stayed in denial for a while - telling yourself there was no way that Tsukishima threw away your relationship for someone new so quickly. That he moved on faster than you even had to dry your tears. It wasn’t possible.
But it didn’t take long for you to see the photos. Plastered all over Tsukishima’s instagram stories and Twitter posts, and his new partner’s as well, bigger smiles than you’ve ever seen on his face before covering his timeline. You wanted to block him, to shut it all out and pretend like you hadn’t seen it. But you couldn’t bring yourself to it. Instead, you stared at the pictures every day, wondering what it would be like to be the one in the photos next to him. His captions for them were so much nicer than the ones he used to write for you. His eyes were so much gentler looking at them.
You weren’t even sure you recognized him anymore.
Your friend suggested that you block his number, delete the history of your text messages, throw away your photos, and burn his sweater. She told you that it would be good to move on. How were you going to tell her that you stared at your phone all night long, just to see his name in your messages? How were you supposed to tell her that you jumped at the sound of your phone vibrating, in hopes that it was him.
You weren’t even sure what you’d want him to say. But if he asked you to take him back, you knew you would.
Bokuto and Akaashi started visiting you more and you knew it was because they were worried about you. They would tug you out of your apartment, asking you to come get groceries with them or do some other sort of random chore.
“Bokuto is useless with the cart,” Akaashi shrugged, acting like this had nothing to do with your recent heartbreak. “If you leave me with him, he’ll start trying to race people around the market.”
Bokuto just grinned and patted your head, “Besides, we miss hanging out with you! How about we get some popcorn and snacks for a movie night tonight?” He asked, so nonchalantly you were sure the two of them had planned this.
You wanted to open your mouth and say no. You wanted to just spend another evening curled up in your room and waiting for Tsukishima to tell you this was just a really long drawn out prank.
But Akaashi watched as you shot over to your phone at its vibration, saw the downcast look on your face when you saw it wasn’t from who you wanted it from. “Please?” He asked you finally, slipping your phone from your hands and tucking it into his pocket. “For me?”
You looked up at his eyes and could see genuine concern in them, and so you agreed with a slow nod. Bokuto whooped in celebration, asking if he could dress you for fun (though you knew it was because they wanted you to get out of your pjs) and threw on some cute clothes for you to wear.
You wanted to insist that comfy clothes felt better right now, but he pushed you in front of the mirror and just for a moment, you actually felt good. Bokuto knew what kinds of clothes you liked, knew what outfits were your favourite, and you had to give him credit for doing well. So you complied and the three of you went to the grocery store.
For maybe an hour, you forgot what that hollow feeling in your chest was. You laughed as Bokuto kept throwing things into the cart that Akaashi scolded him for (“What do you mean you need 75 packets of ramen, Bokuto?” “What if I get hungry? Exams are coming up!”), and even managed to pick up some things for yourself.
You knew this was Akaashi’s plan all along - to bring you towards some food and pick up some snacks for yourself. Because your roommates had definitely ratted you out to him and told him that you had barely been eating. You knew it had been all their scheme, asking you out and all, but for that hour, you didn’t really care.
Then, that little voice in your head started to nag you. What if Tsukishima had texted and you didn’t realize? What if he had called and you missed it? You frantically pulled your phone out of Akaashi’s pocket, immediately disappointed to find nothing.
He looked at you, not with pity, but just sadness in his eyes. His hand patted your head softly, moving to your cheek and brushing away the tears that were quickly forming in your eyes, “You are worth more,” he told you quietly before turning away.
Those words echoed in your head, immediately having conflicting feelings. How could he say that? Tsukishima was your everything, he was your whole heart and soul - how could Akaashi say that you were worth more than that?
But there was something in his tone. Something different hearing those words from him than from all those people who had sat in front of your bedroom door.
He wasn’t trying to convince you. He wasn’t trying to make you stop crying. He told you it because he meant it. He actually believed it.
You followed the boys to their home, Bokuto going on about the possibility of having a sleepover after this movie night that they were planning but you weren’t even fully listening. You still couldn’t grasp your mind around Akaashi’s words. How could he believe that so wholeheartedly?
You watched as Akaashi started to put away the groceries, Bokuto in the other room setting up Netflix and an aggressive amount of blankets and pillows. You wanted to ask him what he meant- no, you knew what he meant. You wanted to ask him why he thought that. You wanted to know why he believed it. You wanted to know if he knew about the new perfect human that Tsukishima had on his arm right now because if he did, then he definitely had no reason to think you were worth more.
“I saw the pictures,” Akaashi stated simply, without even looking in your direction. You blinked in surprise, staring at him - were you that easy to read? “They’re not all that,” he told you with a shrug. “Tsukishima’s just being a little dick and you know it. If I acted like that to anyone you’d probably smack my brains out with a broom.”
You felt your lips tug into a smile - as if Akaashi was ever capable of treating someone like this, “He found someone better. Good for him,” your voice was barely louder than a whisper as your eyes dropped to the floor.
Bokuto laughing behind you made you jump, whirling around to see him smirking at you with his hands on his hips, “If you think Tsukishima Kei could ever find someone better than you, we clearly haven’t been doing our jobs as your best friends. We’re supposed to make you realize just how badass you are.” He came over and wrapped you into a tight hug, pressing a gentle kiss to the top of your head. “Don’t you ever talk about my best friend like that ever again, okay?” He told you playfully.
You tried to smile, knowing your stupid friends were just trying to help you the best way they could. But even when Bokuto dragged Akashi into this smush pile of a hug, you were still wishing it was Tsukishima’s arms around you.
You couldn’t say you were healing well because you weren’t. Everyone told you time heals and you wanted to shove those words back into their throats because time wasn’t going to heal shit, but talking to Tsukishima might. You caught yourself almost texting him sometimes. You managed to get a pretty good grade without his help and you wanted to brag it in his face, show him you didn’t need him even though it felt like your whole world was crumbling without him. You finally made yourself a proper dinner without burning something or setting the fire alarm off, and you wanted to send him a photo to show him that you were fully capable of living your life without him, even though you really wanted to tell him to come back.
But Akaashi and Bokuto pointed it out to you with smiles on their faces - you got that grade and you made that food. It had nothing to do with Tsukishima and his shitty attitude. It was you.
Hearing them point this out to you made you feel a bit better. Your smile felt bigger, your limbs didn’t feel as heavy. Every day you actually got out of bed, even if it took longer some days. You started going on morning jogs with Bokuto and Akaashi, even if it meant riding a bike next to them because their stamina was unrivalled. You started dressing the way you wanted to, not just the way you thought Tsukishima would like. You wore your hair the way you wanted, started doing bits of makeup that made you happy.
Soon, the hollowness in your chest was starting to feel less and less evident and you were forever thankful for the boys for bringing you out of that dark place you were in. And soon you were content with your life. Sure, you still had days you cried, found yourself back in that spiralling void of thoughts after finding a gift he gave you, or thought about how his birthday was coming up and you had already planned out what to give him. But it was getting easier to think about other things, and was nicer to start finding ways to fill your time.
It was another movie/sleepover night at Akaashi’s and Bokuto’s - something that had become a regular practice for you three. It had started off as a way for them to gauge where you were mentally, but now they just really wanted to keep finding dumb shows to watch with you.
It was halfway through some old cartoon movie the three of you remembered watching as kids and your eyelids were starting to feel heavier the more the plot continued. A buzzing beside your lap jerked you awake, squinting slightly to see your phone light up with a phone call.
“Y/N-” Akaashi started, reaching for your phone. But you answered before you could pinpoint what was in his tone. He was warning you. And maybe if you had been more awake, you would’ve heard it.
“Mm? Hello?” You answered lazily, rubbing your eyes.
“Y/N?”
Your breath hitched, eyes shooting open as your felt your heart start to thump against your chest. Why? Why now? Why after so many months? Why had Tsukishima Kei decided to call you just as you were starting to heal?
You glanced at your phone screen, double checking that it was indeed him and you weren’t just hearing things. “Yes?” you squeaked out, less confidently than you would’ve liked.
“Where are you?” He stated simply, as if your broken heart wasn’t lying in his hands, torn to shreds by the last conversation you two had had.
You could feel words forming in your throat, questions you had wanted to ask him all this time, comebacks to little insults he had made to you throughout the years, snide remarks to make him hurt. You wanted to make him hurt like he had made you hurt.
But now that the time was here, your mind went blank. You hated that some small part of you craved to hear him, that a part of your heart wanted that romance movie moment where you ran to his arms and accepted some lame ass apology.
“It’s none of your business where they are, Asshole,” Bokuto yelped, sitting up and glaring at the phone as if Tsukishima could see him.
You could practically feel Tsukishima roll his eyes from the way he sighed in response, “So Bokuto and Akaashi’s house then. Got it. I’ll be over in 5-”
Akaashi looked like he was ready to find the metal bat he kept in the storage closet (you didn’t realize he literally bought it for this moment) but you held your hand up as the boys started to get riled up.
“No.”
You weren’t sure where you found the confidence, or where your voice had been hiding. But you were going to use it now.
“Y/N, listen, I’m sorry-” Tsukishima’s voice was softer now and you could hear it in his voice that he was hurting but it didn’t matter. You knew how he was. You knew that before, when shit was going south, he always expected you to fix it. And you always did. But not this time.
“For what? For breaking my heart? For deciding that I wasn’t good enough anymore?” You asked him, your voice laced with seething resentment. Your eyes were starting to tear up but you refused to let your voice waver. “For showing up one day and saying ‘hey Y/N I actually love someone else so goodbye’ and proceeding to not even mourn our years together? You broke my fucking heart, Kei! You did everything you promised you would never do. You thought I wasn’t good enough. Well guess what, I’m worth more than the way you treated me.”
The words felt so foreign in your mouth and you refused to look at Akaashi’s proud face because you knew the moment you did, you’d probably burst into tears. You could hear your heart pounding in your eardrums and wondered if Tsukishima could hear it too. Your hands were shaking and your chest was tightening but you weren’t going to back down.
“I know,” Tsukishima whimpered. Why did he have to sound so sad? Why did you want to cave? Why did you want to go save him from the tears you knew he was probably fighting? Why was that your first instinct? “I know I was an ass, I know I left literally the best thing I ever could’ve had. Trust me I know. I didn’t know it would hurt this bad to not have you with you. I miss you, I miss everything we used to be. I miss you, Y/N. I swear I’ll be better, I’ll be everything you deserve I-”
“Where the hell did you get the nerve?” Your voice was shaking now, but not from the tears. Anger was boiling up inside of you, all that hurt you had kept inside, all the tears you had cried into your pillow, all the screams and nightmares. It was all coming up now. “You can say that you miss me, miss all that we had, but I don’t care how bad it hurts. You broke me first, Tsukishima Kei. You broke me first and you have the nerve to tell me how it hurts? You know what, Tsukishima? Fuck. You.”
You hadn’t noticed how much you were crying until you tried to hang up on him, your finger pressing that blurry red button before you threw your phone away into some discarded corner. The three of you sat there for a moment, you desperately trying to get air into your lungs. Akaashi and Bokuto wrapped their arms around you, letting you cry into their chests, ugly sobs drawing themselves from your lips.
Tsukishima had finally done what you wanted. He had called and asked for you back… but this time you refused to let yourself take him back.
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photolover82 · a month ago
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The Masked Singer Season 5 Episode 1 Recap: The “Game Changing” Premiere, Let’s Meet Group A (Commentary & Guesses)
Hello my fellow Masked Singer friends! Welcome (or welcome back) to Ana’s Masked Singer recap, where I, Ana, recap every episode of the Masked Singer! Woohoo, the first one of Season 5 and I am so excited wow! Season 5 was off to an amazing start, with Group A performing for the first time. I really enjoyed this one, so let’s get into the recap:
Ok, so to start, we have a new host aka Neicy Nash, and I really liked her, she was like the female version of Nick Cannon. I enjoyed her banter with Ken too so it was great I liked it a lot.
Also, let’s talk about the infamous cluedadoo or how I am gonna call him the freaking “Rooster” 🐓🐔 who is not really an actual contestant competing but he is feeding us the clues (hehe see what I did there?) ...
He was kind of mysterious and I am intrigued honestly, but I still have so many questions, will he have clues? He did say that we have to guess who he is as well so how will this work? Anyways having said that, let’s get into the main 5 of Group A which are Snail 🐌, Seashell 🐚, Russian Dolls 🪆, Raccoon 🦝, and Robopine 🦔.
Let’s start with the eliminated contestant who was
*DRUMROLL PLEASE*
The Snail 🐌
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Commentary: He sang You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oats and it was good, nothing amazing or mind blowing (we’ll get to those performances later), but I didn’t expect him to go home first (I’ll explain who I expected later too). I really enjoyed it personally, the song is well known and catchy, I was bopping my head. It was a solid performance. I would give it a rating of a 7/10. I kind of felt the same way about Baby Alien last season that I felt about Snail going home.
Anyways, having said that, he was revealed to be (to my surprise)...
*DRUMROLL PLEASE*
Kermit the Frog 🐸
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Omg ok, I didn’t expect that, when I tell you my jaw dropped, I am not kidding. My first impression guess was Ted Danson for God’s sake.... like I didn’t get this and I am so mad I didn’t because when I rewatched it, I totally heard the Kermit in there, and I saw people say it on Twitter, but I was like nah they wouldn’t do that, these people are trolling... and wow yeah I was wrong, I felt like a 🤡. BUT OMG IT WAS KERMIT, WHAT AN ICON. The most famous contestant on the show ever... how dope! Now, we need Miss Piggy on the show, because she’s another icon lol. I wonder what she said about this hehe 😜
Anyways, now that that’s done with, let’s go over the remaining 4 and give you my subpar guesses, the first ones of season 5:
1. Raccoon 🦝
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Commentary: Ok like yikes my eardrums... this one’s one of the worst performances I have seen on the show, like it was so screechy oml. He honestly should have gone home instead of Snail, Snail was done dirty. I really don’t understand how he is still in the competition... Sorry I wish I had something nicer to say but he was just yikes, I’m sorry it kinda seems like he isn’t singing on purpose, it seems like a joke.
My guess for Raccoon is (I am 💯 on this):
Danny Trejo
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Reasoning/Clues: So like this sounds stupid, but when the guy sang, Danny Trejo’s face popped into my head for some reason... idk my logic sometimes isn’t logical... but anyways the clues align:
Been in Prison for a long time= he was in prison in California when he was young because he got into a lot of trouble with drugs
Read Hunchback of Notre Dame= he said that during his time in prison acting kind of helped him survive and he would recite Wizard of Oz and... you guessed it... the Hunchback of Notre Dame
2. Russian Dolls 🪆
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Commentary: ok, so I already knew how they were gonna sound but I am still super impressed. I feel like there are more than 2 people, maybe 3, I feel like I heard 3 voices in there. They sang Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson and it was impeccable, their harmonies are really great, and their voices blend together amazingly.
They are (again I am positive about this one):
Hanson
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Reasoning/Clues: I know like everybody on the internet says this, but when I did the voice matching, it really does sound like them (even tho idk much about them personally)... but anyways here are clues that match:
Used to be the world’s hottest toy but then got replaced by shiner toys= they were popping off with their song MMMBOP in the 90s until they were replaced by other boy bands like *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys
Bus Stop= reference to a lyric from their song Man From Milwaukee
Sign that says Mitzfitz Toyz Store= Abbreviation of the guys’ first names, which are Issac, Taylor, and Zac aka ITZ
3. Seashell 🐚
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Commentary: I am so happy that her voice is just as good as her costume, costume wise she is my favorite, and I am happy to report that her voice is also one of my faves. She sang Listen to Your Heart by Roxette and honestly she reminds me so much of Jellyfish, someone who is amazing vocally but has a bit of nerves at first. She does ease into it as it goes on and I really enjoyed it, she was great! However, at first, I thought she was someone else but then I heard her voice a second time and it sounded familiar....
My guess is (I feel good about this one):
Tamera Mowry
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Reasoning/Clues: Besides her voice that made me think it was one of the twins, but the clues made me specifically think Tamera:
Hot Dog= the twins were born in Germany and Hot Dogs are German
Witch Broom= References to the Disney movie her and Tia Mowry did, Twitches, which btw is the reason I know them (that and Sister, Sister), that movie was my childhood I loved it
Chameleon= in an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Tia gets bitten by a chameleon and turns into the evil twin aka Tamera
Rooster clue: “No 2 Shells are the same”= she’s a twin lol, and she isn’t the same as her sister kinda thing
4. Robopine 🦔
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Commentary: BRO I WAS SHOOK WHEN I HEARD THIS ONE SING. If you saw my costume rating, I was like meh I am not a huge fan of this costume, it’s kinda scary looking, and I just wrote it off, but BOY I WAS WRONG. My jaw was on the floor when I heard this man’s voice on the TV for the first time. He is absolutely my favorite of the night with his rendition of Never Too Much by Luther Vandross. His voice is BUTTER 🧈, so freaking smooth and wonderful. I just want him to sing me to sleep or for my birthday, like man I love him so much.
This one is so hard omg but I am gonna guess for now (it’s not a good guess, subject to change):
Eddie Murphy?
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Reasoning/Clues: Ok, so I am not even gonna give reasoning, bc I don’t really know who he could be, I just threw Eddie Murphy because the man can sing and he is the age that was told... what really tripped me up was that he said he was in his 60s and has GRANDCHILDREN.... like he could be lying but it was so nonchalant that it was too good to be a lie, I was so confident at first thinking Chris Jackson but that what he said to the judges about grandchildren tripped me up, but also the judges thought he was lying but I am gonna act like he wasn’t and the only person I thought who could fit that profile is Eddie Murphy (or someone else said Terry Crews but idk I don’t think the man can sing like that)... however a lot of people say that it is Tyrese Gibson but that’s if the whole age thing is a lie but it is a good guess. Here are the clues tho:
Can of Soda Men in Black Drinking from
Spaceship Flying into Strands of DNA 🧬
He “used 411 day and night just to make a connection... until a certain angel said hello and a random call changed everything”
George Washington Figure
Now on his next mission
Anyway, that is it! I hope you guys enjoyed this recap! Don’t forget to follow, like, comment, and do all the social media-y things people do. Tell me whose your favorite performance/do you agree with my guesses? Lemme know! See you in the next recap! Bye guys 👋🏼😄
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dressagehub · a month ago
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Helen Langehanenberg, Susanne Meyer and Louise Leatherdale announced the retirement from sport of their 19-year old Hanoverian stallion Damsey.  Surprisingly Doha, Qatar was chosen as retirement show, far away from the actual dressage world. However, the door has been left open for Helen and Damsey to compete in one or two more shows in Europe this season.  "We had talked about retiring Damsey in Frankfurt originally with all the people who love him there but Covid changed that," Louise Leatherdale told Eurodressage.  "Susanne and Helen talked with me just 4 days ago and we all agreed we need him to retire when he can still show his ability at its highest and not allow him to go down in scores simply for being old!  This horse behaves and competes like he is 12 not 19! He deserves all!" In an interview with Dressursport Deutschland, Langehanenberg describes her time with Damsey as "breathtaking, challenging and just beautiful. I learned a lot of acceptance from him. I can have everything from him, but he would also like to demand something in return and you had to take him the way he was." Helen also stated, "“Even though we've been considering when and where to retire Damsey, the decision for it to take place in Doha was quite spontaneous. It would have been nicer and certainly preferred to do this in Germany in front of ′′his′′ audience, but in times of coronavirus, his owner Louise Leatherdale, his co-owner Susanne Meyer and I agreed that it simply cannot be planned." Helen leaves the door open for a few more shows this year. "This feels like a retirement through the back door. Damsey is still incredibly fit and happy. I will not rule out that he may do one or two more shows this year." Damsey is a Hanoverian stallion by Dressage Royal out of Ria Grande (by Ritual x Grande). He is bred by  Dorit and Hermann Kothe. Dutchman Hans Miedema purchased the 2.5-year old youngster at the Verden Stallion Market in 2004 as a non-licensed stallion. He was licensed one year later at the April saddle licensing, where he became the only premium stallion after winning the 30-day stallion performance test in Adelheidsdorf. Damsey briefly moved to Ferienhof Stucker in Weeze, where Wilbers introduced the stallion to Jens Meyer, who then alerted Doug and Louise Leatherdale. Right before Christmas 2015 the American couple acquired Damsey and moved him to Jens Meyer's stallion station.  There Inga von Helldorff first received the ride on Damsey and first competed him. They were sixth at the 2006 Hanoverian Young horse Championships in Verden and third at the 2007 Bundeschampionate.  In 2008 Steffen Frahm took over the ride. He placed 7th at the 2008 World Young Horse Championships in Verden and 8th at the 2008 Bundeschampionate. In 2011 they were 11th in the Nurnberger Burgpokal Finals in Frankfurt and 12th in the 2012 Louisdor Cup Finals. The pair made their international Grand Prix debut at the 2013 CDI Wiesbaden. They did not compete at CDI's in 2014 and only did one international in 2015 at the CDIO Rotterdam. When Frahm left stallion station Meyer for Hof Kasselmann, he lost the ride on the stallion.  In 2016, Damsey was allocated to Helen Langehanenberg. A year later they were members of the gold medal winning team at the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg. In 2019 they were third in the World Cup Finals in Gothenburg. Twenty times, the pair scored over 80% in a freestyle.  In 2020 Damsey lost his German A-squad spot despite still being fit to compete, most likely being ruled out for team selection due to his age.  At the 2021 CDI 5* Doha, Damsey closed out his career with an impressive score of 82.05% and second place in the Grand Prix Freestyle. "Plans will continue going forward for his future life .  The important thing we feel as he owes us nothing and we owe him everything," Louise told Eurodressage. "He is a remarkable stallion and his offspring are proving to be sensational too!  Helen is training his daughter Daniela (by Damsey FRH out of Helena (by His Highness)) and I have a sister here in MInnesota, Duchess (by Damsey FRH out of EM De La Rosa (by De Niro)) that are mini me’s of Damsey. I have other Damsey offspring at Hengststation Meyer as well  that will start there." Damsey has sired 8 licensed sons so far. For access to more awesome videos, subscribe to Dressage Hub on Patreon https://ift.tt/2fKjRQH Check out our Amazon store for awesome things for equestrians! https://ift.tt/2xvQWfp For more great videos on keeping your horse safe, happy and healthy, subscribe to Dressage Hub. http://www.youtube.com/dressagehub Connect with us: https://ift.tt/1MUkCnc TikTok https://ift.tt/38vQVJh Twitter @dressagehub Instagram @dressagehub Tumblr Dressage hub by DressageHub
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barbasbodaciousbeard · a month ago
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Accidental Feminist Icon
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Between my own headcanon Barba becomes a very niche viral celebrity for being a mix of feminist icon giving one liners on the news and handsome/well dressed and the DJ Khaled post, this happened. 
“Counsellor, are you listening?” Olivia asked as Rafael Barba looked at his phone again. It had been months now since he started trying Manhattan SVU’s cases, and she hadn’t seen him this distracted before. 
“I just- why do I have rapid fire Twitter notifications? Over one hundred and fifty?”
“You have Twitter?” He rolled his eyes, not proud of the admission. But he liked to follow politics and music and satire. His colleagues would have discourse on legal proceedings and theory. But when he opened his notifications, the sea of professional headshots making up the icons in his notifications window were replaced by cartoon avatars and selfies. Handles like @Bradley_GreedADA were replaced with @feministkilljxy. 
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What was happening?
Why were there GIFs of him now?
“Rafael?” He was snapped back to attention by Olivia’s hand passing over his phone screen, and he shook his head, holding the screen out to her. “What am I looking at?”
“Why have a couple hundred- are these all teenagers?”
“Are they following you? Or tagging you?”
“Both?” He scrolled through the mentions.
“Both.” A questioning look.
“Have I gone viral?” he asked herr, eyes wide and his tone disgusted. Twitter was where he posted law books, nice dinners out, homemade dinners in, and the nicer scotch he drank. Sometimes even pictures of himself; some of his friends enjoyed fashion as well, and their twitters all had a heavy thread of their suspenders and ties. Suddenly, he was having photos he’d posted to flaunt his ability to mix patterns retweeted in appreciation of something more than the color scheme.
“I think you have. What have you said now?”
“The girl whose tweet I keep getting tagged in mentioned Jocelyn Paley and the Adam Caine case.”
“That was seven months ago.”
“I’m very aware. I have to get to the office. I’ll get you that warrant.”
He continued to scroll as he walked, alarmed by the number of followers he was gaining and going to open a direct message from a friend to see a wall of messages from names he didn’t know. Once he was able to find Bradley’s message, he saw it was series of tweets with videos and GIFs of him on the courthouse steps. They were all from the same case, he assumed the Adam Caine case. He clicked the video of he and Rita Calhoun.
All I can say, today's Grand Jury indictment is the first step towards achieving justice for Jocelyn Paley. 
The DA's office is desperately trying to distract from their recent scandal with a high-profile case. 
Don't give me that--whether you're a john in the South Bronx or a $3-million-a-year talk show host, no means no. 
 He could remember the exchange now, and it had apparently been retweeted thousands of times. Cameras always made him determined to distract, determined to drive home a point. And now, he was seeing some group of teenagers had clung on to his words, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about becoming recognized enough by that demographic to warrant this rapidly increasing follower count. 
“Carmen, can I ask you something?”
“Of course, Mr. Barba. Need coffee?”
“No,” he said plainly, shaking his head and showing her his feed. “Is this normal?”
“They found you?”
“Excuse me?”
“Haven’t you seen the posts?”
“I don’t branch out on Twitter often.”
“I see it mostly, like, on Instagram with captions and people post clips of you on vine.”
“What’s vine?”
“A six second video app. Teenagers and young women post you. Vine is normally comedy. But people are obsessed with you. Niche, but sizable number. I think it’s mostly New York girls who see you on the news. But that means the vines went viral a couple months ago.”
“So now they’re all following me on Twitter?”
“You’re viral for being attractive, dressing well, and prosecuting rapists. Embrace it.”
“I can’t post my clothes anymore.”
“Just continue like usual. Don’t respond to DMs.”
He spent a few weeks terrified of this new following, but after three days, things calmed down. The number of followers he gained was weird and confusing to him, and he decided to listen to Carmen ultimately, keeping the profile the same and pretending nothing had happened. She did stop him one day, showing him that there had been people making fake accounts, yet another thing that was insane to him. She primarily told him because these accounts were attempting to take advantage of the fact young girls were the ones following him. He awkwardly slid the handles to Olivia, and Carmen filled out an application for Twitter verification that left him mortified. Even worse, it was approved. 
He was swept away in a case soon enough. Lindsay was assaulted by a whole fraternity at Hudson. They uncovered a previous victim in a hospital, a fraternity known for being a rape factory, and a dean helping create a culture that buried these attacks. It was becoming higher profile than he expected, and it wasn’t easy to try. He’d had to shut off his notifications on his phone during these cases. When Lindsay committed suicide, he accompanied Rollins when she went to arrest the dean. What he didn’t expect was for two of the women they saw to approach him, asking if they were here about Lindsay and thanking them when he said he couldn’t mention it. Then they asked for a selfie. Rafael was mortified but obliged. 
“We recognize you from Twitter.”
Well, now he knew he needn’t accompany the squad out anymore.
When he got tweets from the kind of scum that supported the fraternity, it took a concerted effort not to respond. That could jeopardized the case. He’d already had to tell the two girls they couldn’t post about him being there. He tweeted a disclaimer for if people saw him out, feeling like an asshole. Twitter was now becoming a liability, but he could balance it and refused to give up the feed. Slowly, the GIFs and stills of him on the news were collected, and he only got embarrassed again when mami’s students had discovered him and realized he was the guy in their principal’s pictures. Now Mami had a Twitter, and she followed people who praised him joyfully, though he’d managed to convince her not to interact in private messages or respond to people insulting him. 
The Jenna Miller case caused another leap in his follower count, and he had developed a little sense of pride instead of embarrassment when his followers jumped from people who mattered in New York to people who mattered elsewhere. A congresswoman from Ohio. Artists. Activists. He’d texted Olivia when Lady Gaga followed him. Plus that woman from True Blood. God, she was beautiful. Plus the hot boybander that had probably made him realize he was bisexual. It was weird, and he was unwilling to publicly acknowledge any of it. Unless they were on twitter, he certainly didn’t tell anyone he knew other than Olivia. Soon enough, someone had made a t-shirt on Etsy of the moment he’d turned on his heel. The media had called after Jenna, the olympian, and he’d told them no questions. Then the had the gall to bring up her sex work. He’d stopped on the steps, turning on his heel and announcing “Except for that one. Paid or not paid, no means no. Consent can be revoked at any time.” And now, Etsy users were profiting on it. This group was niche, but it ran deep. Luckily, he noticed the shop only had a few dozen sales.
Everything was fine until Rafael Barba lost his ability to maintain his composure. Up until now, he’d monitored his name, mentions, and a few hashtags people used with him. It was usually just the GIFs and stills and soundbites. He participated in some banter after the first couple of years, boundaries firm enough he felt he could. But he still didn’t bicker. Carmen said he got a following for being a good guy, and he thought it was gross openly condemning rape seemed to be all it took to be a good guy. But then through his lurking, Rafael Barba saw a tweet about DJ Khaled. He’d had to google who the hell that was, unsure who all of Twitter was piling onto, but he found the tweet objectionable enough to respond.
“Mr. Barba,” Carmen said, eyes sparkling with amusement as she came in to see her boss still scrolling through his phone. “You really decided this is the time to get involved on Twitter? You only ever respond to what people say to your stuff or your friends.”
He should’ve known she’d be on top of it. He’d given her access when notifications went through the roof the second time, and Carmen helped filter through DMs he didn’t want to see. But now, that meant her phone was vibrating like his in response to his first tweet in response to a stranger or someone who wasn’t in a thread under his own post.
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“What? I’m supposed to endorse consent but not enjoyment?”
“You’re going to end up in a Buzzfeed article, sir.”
“If this is my legacy, so be it.”
“Your legacy? Taking it seriously now?”
“This is serious.”
Carmen’s phone buzzed in her hand, and she knew he’d sent another tweet. Her own account got notifications so she could monitor him. She sighed heavily, unlocking the phone and looking at it. 
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“Mr. Barba, does your mom know you’re bi?”
“No, why?”
“She follows you, idiot.”
“Shit. Well, I suppose it’s time.”
“If you tweet Smash Mouth, I’m quitting. These kids are already thirst tweeting you. They must have tweet notifications on for you.”
“Who’s Smash Mouth?”
“How the hell are you culturally relevant?”
“According to Liv, I’m a feminist icon.”
“Don’t get arrogant sir. I help run this twitter.”
“I’ll change the password. I do all the posting.”
“I won’t tell you if Evan Rachel Wood slides in your DMs.”
“Why would I care?”
“I know why you watched True Blood.”
“Touche.” He paused. “Do you think she will?”
“Give me the phone. I’ll bring it when Liv calls.”
“Why would she call?”
“She made a Twitter, sir. Followed you last week.”
“Shit,” he said, eyes wide. “I posted pictures of my food. She saw me acting like a Twitter guy.”
“You are a Twitter guy.”
He rolled his eyes, ending with a retweet of his new favorite addition to the conversation. 
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@mia-liz @chasingeverybreakingwave @thegirlwiththemaleficient-tattoo​ @teachingpanda​
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turnupswritessometimes · a month ago
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SoRiku Big Bang 2020 - No Strings Attached
My fic for the SoRiku Big Bang 2020! Also available on A03: https://archiveofourown.org/works/29919732/chapters/73640139
Title: No Strings Attached
Word Count: 22,766
Summary:  At first, he thought it was a marionette in the other window, but as he stepped closer, he saw that it was a puppet too. One that would come up to his chest if they stood on even ground. A boy – well, not a boy, a teenager, like him, Riku supposed. With shoes that looked too large for the rest of him, and a strange shape to his shorts. But it wasn’t the clothes he was looking at. It was the face. A cupid’s bow mouth – smiling – a turned up nose – and bright blue eyes. Riku had never seen eyes so blue. *** Riku lives with his Godmother far away from the village. A woodworker and his opens up shop there and he's persuaded to wish upon a star. Instead of his wish, he finds himself having to guide a puppet to becoming a real boy.
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Also with amazing art by @RedBearUniverse on Twitter!
Wish
Fairy Godmothers were shared.
Riku found that out quite shortly after coming to live with his. He had been dropped off for the night in a little cottage in the woods, whilst his Godmother transformed pumpkins into carriages and rags into riches. From then, she was always attending Christenings and gift-giving ceremonies – which Riku was never invited to. It was alright when he was old enough that he didn’t need to be watched by the half-mad wizard and his talking owl. Riku was already used to his own company.
But there was something annoying about being raised by that Fairy Godmother, and not having been present for any of her well-known feats. (He supposed the talking owl was impressive, but more animals could talk than people generally realised.)
Yet, it wasn’t as though he had anyone to disappoint with his lack of stories. They were strictly not to discuss magic with anyone other than wizards and witches. No wands, no pixie dust, no abracadabras. (Fairy Godmothers were Godmothers, first and foremost, and that meant Riku had been raised with magic as an every day occurrence.)
Maybe that was why he stopped outside the shop. Because he sensed that there was – something – there. It was a new one – new to the last time that he had been into town. A woodcarving place, with elaborate bordering around the door and windows, but especially on the little balcony at the top window.
Riku stepped closer, his satchel swinging at his side. The lower windows, the ones of the shop, were piled high. Statues, instruments and clocks were pressed and piled against each other with no room to breathe. Above them were string puppets, dangling in precarious positions.
At first, he thought it was a marionette in the other window, but as he stepped closer, he saw that it was a puppet too. One that would come up to his chest if they stood on even ground. A boy – well, not a boy, a teenager, like him, Riku supposed. With shoes that looked too large for the rest of him, and a strange shape to his shorts. But it wasn’t the clothes he was looking at. It was the face. A cupid’s bow mouth – smiling – a turned up nose – and bright blue eyes. Riku had never seen eyes so blue.
They seemed to be smiling too, as though the puppet really was happy to be staring out the window all day, hands on his hips.
It seemed to be more alive, the more he looked at it. He could imagine the chest breathing, the face lighting up and smiling at him. Those eyes seeing him.
His heart was racing. When had that happened?
He shook his head. Lonely – he spent too much time alone and know he getting overly attached to a puppet. Godmother would tell him to start making more of an effort in the village. She was close to tracking down frog or swan royalty to make sure that Riku found some kind of friend.
The door to the shop opened, a bell tinkling against the familiar sounds of the blacksmith’s hammer and the marketplace chatter, and Riku jumped. As though he had been caught.
It was a small boy coming out of the shop, with a mop of dark hair and an apple in one hand. He called out to someone inside, not watching where he was going.
Riku didn’t step out of the way in time. The boy crashed into him.
“Sorry,” he managed to say. Stepped back, sharply.
The boy had stumbled, but now he caught himself, bouncing back like a rubber ball.
“That’s alright, Mister,” he chirped. Then turned to the window, and back, smiling ear to ear. “Oh, you’re looking at Sora?”
Riku blinked. “Sora?”
The boy pointed to the puppet. “My father made him.”
“Oh.” He couldn’t think of a single thing to say to this child.
And the boy’s smile widened, as though he was laughing at Riku.
“Father made everything in the shop,” he explained.
Riku didn’t have a lot of experience with talking to children – to people in general, but the little ones were a particular enigma. Some people seemed to have the knack of getting on with them, and becoming best friends in minutes. He fumbled for words.
“That's nice.”
The little boy pointed to himself. “He made me too.”
Again, Riku blinked. It wasn’t incorrect, but it wasn’t the conversation he wanted to have and, again, he was left trying to think of an adequate reply.
This time, however, he was saved by a new voice.
“Pinocchio!” It was a man, calling out as he stepped out of the woodwork shop. Elderly, to have such a young child, with snow white hair and a round, red nose. “You forgot your bag.”
He was carrying a small, leather knapsack that he slipped onto the boy’s shoulders.
“There we go,” he said, and his accent was more obvious now. European – German. He wagged a finger. “Don't go getting lost, now.”
“It was one time.” The little boy, Pinocchio, pouted, then turned to Riku. “I didn’t get lost – I wanted to be an actor.”
His father looked at Riku for the first time from behind rimless glasses, but there was a dazed look in his eye. He frowned down at Pinocchio at the reminder, then shook his head.
“Maybe I should walk with you,” he said.
“No.” Pinocchio shook his head, vigorously, then grabbed Riku’s hand in both of his. They were so small in comparison. “He'll walk me.”
The woodworker peered at Riku properly now. He felt self-conscious – of his silver hair, the fact that the embroidery on his waistcoat was coming undone, and that one of his boots was peeling away from the sole. He stared back, hoping that he could convey with his eyes that this was not his idea.
“But we don't know him,” the woodworker said.
“We don't know anyone.” Pinocchio swung Riku’s hand, then turned and chatted up to him with abandon. “We got here last week. You'll walk me to school, won't you?”
Riku hesitated. Pinocchio’s eyes were big – puppy-like as they looked up at him. And bright blue. The same bright blue as the marionette in the window’s. There was something about him that was objectively cute. His dark hair contrasted with his pale skin – bringing out the pink in his round cheeks.
And he wanted Riku to walk him.
“I don’t – mind.” He said, surprising himself. “I know the way.”
“Please let him, Father?” Pinocchio kept swinging his hand.
The woodworker was still peering at Riku, his brow furrowed. Even his moustache seemed to twitch, as though it had a life of its own.
“I haven't seen you in town before,” he said.
“No, I live out in the fields.”  
“Do you live in that little cottage?” Pinocchio asked, jumping up and down with Riku’s hand so that he found himself leaning forward. Found himself smiling. “We saw it as the carriage drove us into town.”
“That's right.”
It was a little cottage, with a thatched roof and latticed windows, tucked into the rolling meadows around it. His Fairy Godmother decorated the trellises outside according to the season – wisteria now, for Spring.
“Wow!” Pinocchio stared at Riku, in awe, which only made him feel more awkward.
“Ah.” An unreadable expression came over the woodworker’s face. “I've heard of that cottage. You're –”
“Riku.” He held out his hand.
The man shook it. “Geppetto.”
They both nodded. There was a strange twinkle in the old man’s eyes that made Riku feel as though he was being signalled to, in some way.
“So can Mister Riku walk me?” Pinocchio asked again into the pause.
There was the feeling of having passed a test, as Geppetto smiled at him, then down to Pinocchio. “Very well.”
Pinocchio didn’t move immediately. He looked up at Riku and said, loudly enough that the few people passing by could hear, “He likes Sora.”
Riku’s cheeks warmed. He glanced to the marionette in the window, which seemed to be smiling right at him. “I –”
“Come on, l’ll be late.” Pinocchio was tugging on Riku’s hand, turning him round and heading down the street before he could object. His cloth sack knocked into his legs as he fought to keep pace.
When he glanced back, Geppetto was watching them, rubbing his chin with furrowed brows.
Something was starting. There was something about the woodwork shop. It was like the air before a storm – he knew that these newcomers had brought something with them. Something other than clocks and toys and beautiful marionettes – because the marionette was beautiful. Anyone could see that it was finely carved – that it was meant to be pretty. Yet Riku’s heart thudded at the image of its face.
Yes, something was starting, but it didn’t matter if that was good or bad. He wasn’t to get involved. They were supposed to stay out of things as much as possible. Fairy Godmothers only sent people off on their way, or appeared at the most dire moment.
And Riku wasn’t even a Fairy Godmother, so he shouldn’t be involved at all.
“Do you hate the village?” Pinocchio asked, pulling him out of his thoughts. He was swinging their joined hands, almost skipping as they walked. This child was so happy – he’d never seen such a happy child. It was almost suspicious.
“No.”
“Then why don’t you live here?”
“Because.” Riku found himself smiling, probably at the boy’s pout.
“Is it nicer in the meadows?”
“Yes.” He loved it there. The grass and the wildflowers and the fact that he could take an aimless walk and come across little things in nature – a chalk patch or fallen tree or blackberry bush. There was a magic in discovering things.
“If you lived out there, then did you go to my school?” Pinocchio said.
Riku shook his head. “I learnt at home.”
Well, sometimes at home. Sometimes at the Wizard’s hut – and then it was the owl who did most of the teaching there.
It was like the boy had a sixth sense, because his next question was, “Who taught you?”
Well, he couldn’t say that he learnt letters from a grumpy owl.
“My Godmother,” he said instead.
“What’s a Godmother?”
Riku took a breath. His chest ached, even after all these years.
“A Godmother is someone who looks after you, if your parents can’t.”
“Oh.” Pinocchio hung his head, and the feather on his hat seemed to droop sadly with him. He squeezed Riku’s fingers. “I don’t know who would look after me if anything happened to Father.”
Riku didn’t know what to say to that. He squeezed Pinocchio’s tiny hand, and felt relieved that the school was just around the corner.
“I should be the one asking you all of the questions.” He managed to scrape together, to try and change the subject. Those puppy eyes looked up at him. “Why did you move here?”
Pinocchio smiled. Even his button nose had that rosy glow.
“You wouldn’t believe me,” he said, the twinkle in his eye identical to Geppetto’s.
Riku raised an eyebrow. Try me, he wanted to say, but the school bell was ringing, and Pinocchio was looking at it eagerly. He squeezed Riku’s hand again, giving it an approximate shake as he said, “Thank you very much for walking me, Mister Riku.”
And then he was tugging on the straps of his knapsack and taking off to the small crowd of children going in for lessons.
Riku felt stunned. He stared after the little boy.
And hoped that would be the end of it. That he wouldn’t get involved in anything.
*
Godmother was baking when he got in – kneading pastry together whilst a fresh batch of rhubarb sat on the side. Riku was sure that she only baked so much to keep up the idea of a kindly, elderly woman. She looked the part – plump, round face, white, wavy hair.
But Riku also loved rhubarb, so he wasn’t about to complain.
She glanced round at him when he came in, using his heel to nudge the thick, wooden door closed.
“You're late,” she said. Not cross, more curious. At least she was smiling.
Riku put the satchel down on the table, letting the cheese and wrapped up deer haunch he’d brought flop out.
“I got stuck walking a child to school,” he said. “New in town.”
“How terrible for you.” She was not sympathetic.
Riku flicked the cheese. “He’s very loud. And lively.”
“Truly awful.” Godmother was actually sarcastic now.
“He lives at a wood workers.” Riku pulled out one of the chairs and sat down, slumping forward. He rested his head on his arms. “They got here last week.”
She paused in her baking. “Hm.”
“What?”
“A little boy and a word worker,” Godmother said, slowly and thoughtfully. “We should invite them for tea.”
“Ugh.” Riku turned to see her smiling. “Why?”
“Because it's good to be nice to neighbours.” And yet, there was a twinkle in her eye. “And you could do with a friend.”
“Not one more than half my age.” Riku was not about to admit that he didn’t mind Pinocchio, even if he had no idea what to say to him. He frowned. “I have Arthur.”
“You haven't seen him in years.” Godmother patted his hair, before she went down the shopping.
“We don’t go to Camelot anymore.”
“Someone insisted that they were too big for a babysitter.”
“I was.”
She paused. “You can go to Camelot if you want.”
Arthur was king now. For a little while, that hadn’t made a difference. They had still slipped away from everyone, exploring the castle or playing down by the moat. But then he had started to be followed more and more – started to grow into being a king more and more. No more stories of being turned into a fish or a squirrel.
Riku was where he was before. A little cottage outside of a little village. But he liked it. Liked the routine – bake bread, tend the garden, eat lunch, try a couple of drawings, then wander aimlessly until tea. He had Godmother and that was enough company for him, thank you very much. Why fix what wasn’t broken?
“Hm,” he said. The idea of Camelot again was not a pleasant one.
“We'll invite the new wood worker to tea,” Godmother decided. There was a spark in her dark eyes, a smirk to the corner of her mouth that made Riku click it all together.
“You know him, don’t you?”
“Heard of him from a friend.” Which meant magic. They had some kind of magic. “Run into town and invite them – for tomorrow? Please”
Riku rolled his eyes. But he couldn’t say no – not to her. She had done so much for him – for so many children – purely because she was good and kind. And he didn’t deserve her.
So he went back into town, and relayed the message. After he had stopped, and taken another long look at the marionette in the window.
The next day was full of cleaning the cottage and baking – dinner and another dessert. (Although anyone who did not love his Godmother’s rhubarb pie was a monster, in Riku’s opinion.) But that was fine. It was work with a rhythm, work where he could see that he had made a difference.
It was just a shame that it was all because of socialising.
He heard Pinocchio before he saw him.
“Whillikers – a donkey!” the boy cried.
Riku huffed. Godmother nudged him with her elbow, then opened the door. Pinocchio was there, in the next instant.
“What’s your donkey’s name?” he asked. “Is this your Godmother? Would she look after me too, if anything happens to Father?”
Riku blinked. Godmother laughed.
“That’s Lampwick.” She pointed to where the brown donkey was tied, nibbling at the buttercups. “And I am Riku’s Godmother – you can call me that too, if you like.” She smiled down at him, and Pinocchio smiled up at her, and Riku did not feel a pang of jealousy. He did not wish that he was still small enough to hide behind her skirts.
If he was, he wouldn’t have seen the knowing nod that passed between her and Geppetto.
But then, he wouldn’t be asked to put the kettle on the stove, and lay the food out, and smile, either.
The downstairs of the cottage was one, open room – the kitchen, with its stone stove on one side, the round, wooden table and chairs on the other, and the sofa with its patchwork quilt under the window on the other end. The walls were hung with cross-stitch and a few of Riku’s watercolours. After a month, he always found them to be awfully childish, and replaced them with new ones.
It was roast deer for dinner – the deer that he had brought in town, with golden roast potatoes and buttered green beans with broccoli. They ate, and Godmother had a perfectly normal conversation with Geppetto. She asked him how town was, how the business was, how Pinocchio was doing at school. And he said that town was friendly enough, business was doing well, and Pinocchio seemed to be settling in fine.
Riku watched, and wondered how Godmother would have heard of him. There must be something.
“They say that this cottage is full of fairies,” Geppetto said. “That is why the food you grow is so good.”
They sold the fruit and vegetables from the patch in town. That was Riku’s job, on the weekends. And he hated the busy market.
“Oh, is it?” Pinocchio asked Riku. “Do fairies live here?”
“No.”
It wasn’t a lie. Fairies – especially the kind Pinocchio was thinking of, did not live with them – it was just one.
Who shook her head at his blunt tone. “You'll have to forgive him. Riku’s still coming out of a moody phase.”
He felt his cheeks colour. “I am not.”
“It wasn’t that long ago he walked around all the time in a black cape all the time,” she continued.
Riku had. That had been around the time that he had stopped going to Camelot.
“Why would you do that?” Pinocchio asked him, a potato speared on the end of his fork.
“Godmother.” It was half a plead.
But she just raised her hands, as though in despair. “Why indeed?”
He’d never told her why. She’d assumed it was teenage angst. That he was trying to reclaim some of his edge whilst he lived with Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. It wasn’t that at all, but he couldn’t explain that it was symbolic.
“But a fairy does live here,” Godmother continued, smiling at Pinocchio. It was the special kind of smile she always used with children – that made them feel like they were one of a kind.
Riku paused, staring at her. She was the one who’d always said no one could know what they were. That if people knew, they would be desperate to take advantage of her powers, and magic was not a thing to be used selfishly.
Pinocchio gaped up at her, blue eyes wide.
Geppetto was quicker on the uptake. He smiled too. “A fairy Godmother.”
She nodded. Riku’s heart hammered. She had given them away, so easily –
“I don’t have a Fairy Godmother,” Pinocchio said. And spoke around the potato as he ate, so Riku couldn’t be entirely sure he was hearing what he thought he was hearing. “But I do have the Blue Fairy. She’s very nice too – she made me a real boy.”
Riku stared. His mind had ground to a halt.
“So I hear,” Godmother said.
“It is meant to be a secret.” Geppetto seemed somewhat apologetic.
Godmother laughed, again, as Pinocchio rolled his eyes and said, “But she’s a fairy. And I cannot tell a lie.”
“Why can’t you lie?” Riku asked.
“A lie will grow and grow until its as plain as the nose on your face,” Pinocchio said, tapping his. “And real boys are always truthful.”
Riku’s stomach flooded with a familiar warmth. Guilt and shame. He swallowed another mouthful.
“Why weren’t you real before?” he asked, to change the subject.
“I made Pinocchio. He was just a little puppet, for company, but the Blue Fairy gave him life and he had the change to become a real boy.”
“It was hard,” Pinocchio added.
That meant – Sora –
“The marionette in the window –”
“Father made him to keep me company.” Pinocchio pointed to himself, proud. “As my big brother. But he’s not come to life yet. Maybe you could do that, Mister Riku.”
Riku hesitated. Didn’t dare look at Godmother. “But I don’t have magic.”
His nose, at least, did not grow.
Pinocchio shook his head. “All you need is a wish. It’ll come true for you, because you like Sora.”
No he really couldn’t look at Godmother. He was sure that she would be smiling at him. All twinkly eyes that Riku had found a friend- two - a puppet and an eight year old.
His cheeks were burning. He thought of those bright blue eyes - the smile on the cupid's bow mouth.
"I – no, I don’t.”
“You sure were looking at him like you did.”
He had an idea, and leant forward, peering at Pinocchio' face.
"I think your nose is getting bigger.”
“It’s not!” But Pinocchio's hands still went to it. Rubbed it just to check that it was the same size. Then he looked imploring up at Riku. "Please – the first star you see tonight – please wish on it, Mister Riku. Wish for Sora to be alive, like me.”
His voice cracked with the want of it. A friend and older brother. Lonely – the look in his eyes was one of loneliness. And it must have been lonely, to have such a big secret, but not be able to share it with anyone.
Which sounded familiar, now that Riku thought about it.
And if he thought about the marionette, tapped in the shop window by itself, he felt an ache in his chest.
Pinocchio was still staring at him with those huge blue eyes, and Geppetto was trying not to look hopeful – after all, he was the one who’d made it, of course he’d want to see it brought to life like Pinocchio – and of course Godmother would want it. It was a friend, and a very Fairy Godmother-like thing to do.
“I’ll try,” Riku muttered. He stood, collecting the plates because Pinocchio had leapt up in such an eager way that he was scared that he’d be hugged. He retreated to the little kitchen, feeling Godmother’s smile on his back – saw it behind him in the reflection off the window.
He thought he’d escaped, but Pinocchio followed him over – must have seen the alarm on Riku’s face, because instead of wrapping his arms around him, he took his hand again.
“I’m sure you’ll like Sora,” he said.
Riku forced his mouth to twitch upwards. He was trying for a smile, but it felt as though it was more of a grimace.
“Yeah,” was all he could think of to say.
They ate the rhubarb pie and apple crumble and talked – swapping stories of magic that couldn’t be told to anyone else – until Pinocchio’s eyelids began to droop. Geppetto lifted him onto his shoulders, and made his way home.
Godmother used a sprinkle of magic to tidy up – a rare treat. She’d always said it was “Good to put your own hard work into something – it was much more rewarding that way.” He found out why she was so lenient this evening when he was boiling a last cup of tea.
“Have you given it any more thought?”
Riku’s stomach cramped. He watched the kettle, though it was nowhere near done. It was a few weeks ago that this had first come up – that Riku really should be thinking about the future. What he wanted to do with himself, because he couldn’t live with his Fairy Godmother forever.
And now he could guess what she was hinting at. “I don’t think woodworking’s for me.”
“Well, you’re creative.”
“Someone has to stay here and help you.”
Her hand touched his arm, found its way around his shoulders and pressed them together.
“You don’t want to stay here with me, forever,” Godmother said. “And it would help me if I knew you had your own life. If you were happy.”
“I’m happy now.”
She didn’t look like she believed him, though she still smiled and patted him and poured the tea. Maybe he didn’t believe himself either, he thought, as he took it to his room. Because he wasn’t sure he wanted his own life. His life now revolved around her – who she was, what she did and keeping the cottage in order. Keeping everything plodding along like a fairy story, happily ever after.
Without her, he didn’t have a story. Didn’t have anything remarkable about him. Would just be an ordinary young adult. Like anyone else.
If he found his own life, he might become someone who did not believe in magic. Who would chalk his childhood down to a normal Godmother who was very good at telling stories. To make-belief. That couldn’t happen. He couldn’t leave magic behind.
Riku sighed. He left the tea on his bed side table, stepping over to the window instead, and unlatching it. The air was cool, and the world had been transformed into shadows. Turned into something mysterious and magical – the enchanted woods of fables.
Magic – like Godmother’s, like the Blue Fairy’s – was the good kind. Simple and uncomplicated. To delight and nothing else. He loved that – loved seeing the expression on parents’ faces as she gave babies gifts. The moment where items transformed and maidens saw their dreams come true.
It was a gift he didn’t have, but that he could stay close to.
Thinking about the future made him feel panicked. Made his stomach squeeze into several knots, and his cheeks feel hot. Overwhelming – it was completely overwhelming to consider The Future. He pushed the window further open, leaning out to try and catch as much of the cool night air as possible.
As he did, he looked up. It was a new moon, so the sky was completely black, interrupted in scatters by stars. The first star he saw was not the biggest. Was so close to the others around it that he seemed to see five or so first.
He’d told Pinocchio that he would try to bring Sora to life with a wish.
And he did wish, just not for that.
Riku wished that everything would simply stay the same.
*
His wish did not come true.
But it wasn’t completely ruined either. For a week or so, things weren’t that different. Only that he found himself stopping by the woodcarvers more. (if he didn’t, then Pinocchio would inevitably show up at his door. It was easer to go into town, than risk Godmother telling any embarrassing stories.) It ended up that he started to walk Pinocchio to school, then find his way back at the shop, watching Geppetto whittle away.
He asked Riku if he wanted to learn. He replied that he’d only hurt himself he was armed with a knife, and that made the man laugh. But, he added, he was good at painting.
So he found himself adding colour to the intricate inventions. To clocks and instruments and little string puppets.
Sora remained in the window. Still wood. And still, Riku thought, mesmerising. He couldn’t help staring at the marionette. Imagining it as alive as Pinocchio. Smiling at him. Taking his hand and swinging it, the way Pinocchio did. But where Pinocchio did it like a child, there was something different about Sora doing the same. Something that made Riku’s cheeks feel warm and his stomach flutter. Fanciful, he told himself.
After about a week though, the wish was truly broken.
He’d stayed later than usual at Geppetto’s – late enough to walk Pinocchio back from school, and then found himself helping with tea. Found himself staying past dark. Being tugged to the window to make a wish and still not fulfilling his promise.
Which he regretted, when he saw Pinocchio screw his eyes up tight and count to ten. Waiting to see if Sora was now alive or not. Nothing happened, and Riku went home, feeling his chest ache when he saw the disappointment on Geppetto’s face too.
It was just as he left the shop that he heard it. A rapping of knuckles on glass.
Riku stopped. Half-turned and as he did, heard his name called out, “Riku!”
There. In the shop window – illuminated by the light above – he could see a familiar figure. A figure that was, always, stationary. Only now, the marionette was waving. And smiling. The same smile that Riku could always imagine so clearly.
He stepped back towards the shop. Opened the door just as the marionette was hopping down from the window ledge. Those huge shoes made him stumble and Riku instinctively caught the marionette’s arms.
“Sora.” His throat was dry and his voice felt raw.
He’d seen miracles many times. Magic was an everyday occurrence to him. But seeing the marionette come to life made him feel awestruck.
Those blue eyes he’d stared at so many times over the last week were looking back at him. And Sora was smiling.
“Riku, I can move,” Sora said. And Riku couldn’t believe that he’d never imagined how the marionette would sound. He didn’t think he would be able to do it justice. It was a happy voice – a voice like Summer – like the crashing of waves against the shore.
He swallowed. Aware of the wooden arms under his fingers. Aware that he hadn’t let go.
“I can see that,” he managed to say.
“I can talk!”
“I can hear that.”
Sora laughed, and Riku thought of sunny afternoons. His fingers, smooth and cool, found Riku’s arms.
“The Blue Fairy came.” Sora’s voice was softer now. “And she said that it was your wish that I be a real boy.”
That was not Riku’s wish. Not at all. And yet, there was no way he could say that. Not when Sora was grinning up at him with pink cheeks.
“That’s –” He couldn’t find the word. Focused on setting Sora solidly on his own two feet and that was when he realised he small he was. Big, for a marionette, but small for a person. The top of his head came up to Riku’s chest, though his woollen hair stuck up like a star so that he looked taller.
“But I have to be truthful – and brave – and – and –”
“Unselfish!” That was Pinocchio – on the stairs. He must have come down at the sound of voices. Now he stood halfway down, smiling from ear to ear, his own blue eyes sparkling.
“And unselfish,” Sora repeated. He turned, one hand trailing down Riku’s forearm and linking their fingers together as he stepped towards the little boy. “You’re Pinocchio!”
Pinocchio nodded, taking Sora’s other hand. “You’re my big brother! Come and meet father.”
So Sora nodded too – because everything was simple for them, and Pinocchio helped him up the stairs. He stumbled, his legs still getting used to walking. Riku found himself stepping up beside him, other hand on his back to steady him.
“What was all the commotion downstairs, Pinocchio?” Geppetto called to them, as they neared the top.
“Sora’s alive!”
“I’m alive!”
Geppetto glanced towards them, and nodded. “Yes, very good, Sora’s alive.”
Pinocchio shook his head, glancing at Sora. “Give him a moment.”
“Sora’s alive!” Geppetto cried, turning to them. He was laughing. Pinocchio was laughing. Sora was laughing.
Geppetto took both of Sora’s hands, pulling him into the candle light and declaring, “my boy – my boy – alive!”
Riku stayed by the stairs. Watching Pinocchio grab Geppetto’s hand and say “I’m your boy too!”
“You’re both my boys – my beautiful boys!” They were a family, stood there, and Riku was not part of it. “And now – we must celebrate!”
He moved more lithely than Riku had ever seen, winding up the horde of clocks and music boxes around the room. Pinocchio did too, stretching on tip toes to turn the keys, leading Sora around so that he could try it too. Within moments the little apartment over the woodwork shop was full of the sound of cuckoo chimes, of tinny music – fast, slow, happy, sad – all over the top of each other.
Riku thought it unbearable.
But it charmed the three of them – all rosy cheeks and shiny eyes as Geppetto took Pinocchio’s hands and danced. An awkward, odd-looking jig, but Pinocchio seemed to know it. Offered a hand to Sora, and he jumped up and down with them, whilst the tiny wooden figures all around them jerked, dipped and rose.
Riku leant against the doorframe, his chest warm. This was a familiar feeling – the feeling of home, and family, though it was nothing like his quiet evenings with Godmother. And, for a marionette, Sora’s movements were as clumsy as a puppy’s. Maybe he should sneak away, and leave them to it, but he found himself transfixed.
Besides, Sora turned to him. Smiling.
Riku smiled back.
It wasn’t enough, apparently. Sora stepped towards him, hands outstretched.
“Come on,” he said, taking Riku’s hands.
“No.” Riku couldn’t dance. But he still let himself be tugged forward – let Sora pull them both round – twirl himself under Riku’s arm. Still laughing, cheeks glowing and eyes shining. Shoes knocking loudly on the floor.
This wasn’t Riku – wasn’t what he did at all – but he was laughing too.
And he let Sora lead him, until the music boxes and clocks fell silent.
Truthful
Marionettes could come to life.
But the village couldn’t know that. It would either end in selling Sora as a commodity show – regardless of what he felt – or they would attack him.
Riku knew, because it had happened to Godmother in the last village. A few children had found out she could do magic tricks, and everyone had kept coming back for more. More wishes. Until the whole town was asking for it.
In the town before, Riku had only been small, but he remembered being lifted out of his bed in the dead of night. Remembered being told to stay quiet, and remembered hearing angry voices as he sat in the back of the wagon, swaddled in blankets.
Sora, of course, didn’t quite understand this. Was so new to life and loved being alive that Geppetto was struggling to keep him safely out of sight. Pinocchio told Riku about his first day going to school – that he was side tracked by a man, followed him to a theatre and was locked up by a puppet master, because he was a puppet who could dance with no strings.
Geppetto didn’t want that to happen to Sora.
That was why Riku found himself driving the cart and Lampwick out of town, with Sora hidden under a tarp in the back. It was a much longer baby-sitting duty than with Pinocchio, but he didn’t mind it.
“Town’s so pretty,” he heard him say, and turned to see Sora’s blue eyes peeking out of the tarp.
“Keep down.” Riku tugged on the tarp, and heard Sora chuckling. He tried to bite back a smile at the sound.
“But it’s like a fairy tale.”
Riku supposed it was. The houses all had timber framing and were painted white, yellow and blue. Almost everyone had flowers in their windows or around their carved doorways. Everything was little paths and twists up or down hills.
Still, it was better to be out in the fields. The further away from people, the more comfortable Riku felt.
Once they were clear, Sora pulled back the tarp without asking. He sat up, falling with the rhythm of the cart and staring at the rolling meadows around him. The spring flowers had dotted the green with purples and yellows, and the trees were back to being full. It was beautiful.
Riku leant back and offered his hand to Sora without thinking. Wooden fingers slipped into his own and Sora clambered over the edge of the cart to sit on the front next to him. He landed heavily, his legs swinging. A metal pin shone in his knee.
“Pinocchio’s right,” Sora said, swinging both his legs. “You don’t say much.”
“I don’t have a lot to say.”
“Why?”
Lampwick snorted, as though he was laughing at Riku. He gave the reins a tug, then shrugged.
Sora was quiet for another moment, looking around them. Their shoulders were pressed together, and Riku felt so soft – so warm – compared to the marionette boy.
“Wouldn’t it be a brave thing to show the village what I am?” he asked, after a moment.
“We’ll find something else that’s brave for you to do.”
“Like what?”
Riku didn’t know. He shrugged again, and saw Sora smiling. Riku wasn’t saying much.
“Wouldn’t it be unselfish to dance for other people?”
“You don’t want to do that.” Riku’s jaw clenched.
“But that’s why it’s unselfish.”
“You’d be a toy to them. They wouldn’t see you as a thing with feelings – you’d just be – a puppet.”
Sora’s legs stilled. Out of the corner of his eye, Riku could see those two blue eyes staring at him.
Sora’s voice was quiet when he asked, “how do you know?”
Riku paused. It was enough to make him second guess, just for a second. But he remembered the people lining up, pushing each other to catch a glimpse of any magic.
“I know what people are like,” he said.
“If they’re that bad, then maybe I don’t want to be a real boy.” Sora was distracted, following a butterfly with a finger tracing the air.
“That’s up to you.”
The butterfly fluttered past them, down to the poppies at the side of the road.
“Wasn’t it your wish?”
Riku didn’t look at him, his stomach heavy and turning itself over. How could he admit to this boy that wasn’t it at all? Especially when he was blinking at him – wanting to become completely real for him.
“Sure,” he lied. “But I can’t control what you do.”
Sora seemed to think about that. Put his head to one side and frowned, twisting his feet one way or another. He clicked his heels together. Then again. Then again. Creating a rhythm to go along with the donkey’s hooves.
Riku felt the urge to push him off the cart.
*
They sat on the hill behind the cottage, which gave them the perfect view of the town. From there, it looked like a child’s toy, or a made-up painting, against the bright blue sky and white clouds.
Sora sat with his legs stretched out, clicking his shoes together at the top every now and then. Just, Riku realised, to make him frown. He was like Pinocchio – he asked questions. Lots of questions.
“Why don’t you live in the town?”
“It’s safer to stay outside.”
“Do you like living out here?”
“Yes.”
“It’s pretty.” Sora leant back on his hands, looking around him. Eyes like the sky, Riku thought. The way he moved – the fact he was entirely smooth, shining wood – was mesmerising.
He picked at the grass to occupy his fingers, because he felt the urge to run them over Sora’s cheek.
“It is,” he said.
“But you must be lonely.”
“I don’t like people.” He picked at the daisies, searching for one that was untouched, that still had all its petals.
Sora was quiet for a moment. Then he pressed his shoulder against Riku’s, like a child wanting to get attention. “Do I count as people?”
“Yes.” Riku didn’t – couldn’t – hesitate. “But you’re different.”
“Because I’m…?” Sora trailed off, fingers trailing up his arm.
“No – not that.” He wasn’t a marionette. He was, but he wasn’t. Riku just knew that it wasn’t the wood that made Sora different. “You don’t annoy me.”
“Why?” He leant closer to Riku.
His eyebrow twitched, and Sora laughed.
“I do annoy you.” He leant back.
Riku could not say that it was his fault that Sora had been brought to life, so he felt responsible for looking after him. He definitely couldn’t say Sora was pretty so it wasn’t so bad. But he also simply couldn’t explain why Sora annoying him made him smile. He didn’t understand it himself.
“It’s your first week of being alive,” he managed instead, plucking more daisies. “You’re allowed to be annoying for that.”
“What about the second week?”
“Don’t push your luck.”
Sora laughed, leaning back again. Heaving his shoulders up and down as though he was sighing.
There was only a moment of silence before he said, “Pinocchio told me you live with your fairy godmother.”
“That’s right.”
“And she grants wishes for people.”
“Not really.” Riku focused on the flowers in his hands. Stringing them along together for something to do. “She gives blessings to children – good fortune, beauty, things like that. Sometimes she’ll step in and – give a helping hand, but that’s only when someone loses hope.”
“She makes everything right again.” Sora’s voice was quiet, almost distant.
“Just a push.” Riku explained about Cinderella, about how the push was a new dress and transport to the ball, and even then, it was only for a certain amount of time. Magic had rules. And it was because Cinderella had worked so hard that she had been granted that.
Sora listened, gasping at all the right points and Riku had to bite his cheek to stop himself from chuckling. It was, really, endearing.
“But what do you do?” He tilted his head to one side, like a puppy. “Whilst your Godmother is giving helping hands?”
“I take care of the garden, and the cottage.” Riku kept threading flowers. Daisies, buttercups and purple anemones.
Sora brought his knees to his chest, resting his cheek on them. He was watching Riku, intently now.
“And that makes you happy?”
It caught him off-guard. The sudden seriousness. The way Sora’s eyebrows came together in concern.
“Yes.”
There was a breeze as he said it, unusually cold. Sora continued staring – examining Riku’s face. He felt his cheeks growing warm under the scrutiny, and hurriedly continued, “I love the cottage, and the garden. I don’t have any magic, so how would I be of any help?”
“You brought me to life.”
Riku kept his eyes on the flowers. The heat was in his neck now. “That was the Blue Fairy.”
“It was your wish.”
“So I should just wish things and hope that she sorts everything out for me?” He broke a stem too far, splitting the flower completely.
Sora hummed a ‘hm,’ before he came to the conclusion of “Maybe not,” and Riku found himself chuckling.
“You don’t have magic?” Sora asked. With that intense stare.
Riku stared back. Made sure that he was looking him in the eye. “No.”
Sora sat up, sat on one leg so they were eye to eye. Riku looked back. Tried not to flinch. They were so close that he realised there was no wood grain to Sora. That he had eyelids – the edge painted black so that his eyes stood out all the more.
The moments passed on.
Then Sora’s gaze dipped down, and he asked, “what are you making?”
Riku looked down, feeling his chest relax.
“Daisy chain,” he replied.
“They’re all daisies?” Sora was reached for it now, running the chain of white, yellow and purple through his fingers. They all seemed to stand out against the brown wood.
“Well, no – but it works with any flower.”
Sora tilted his head to the side. “How?”
“Here –” Riku picked one that sat between them, showing Sora how he split the stem with his nail, then slid another one through the gap. For a moment, he was delighted – but then he looked at his own fingers.
Wood. No nails.
Riku wanted a hole to swallow him up completely. How completely insensitive.
“Maybe – you could use my penknife.” He tried to recover.
Sora turned away, covering his mouth with his hand, but not before Riku saw him smiling. Laughing. At him. And he could only stare, his mind melting into sparks.
“That’s alright.” Sora swung the flower chain from his fingers, and they landed in Riku’s lap. “You’ll just have to make enough for the both of us.”
Riku chuckled. And got to work.
Sora leant back on his hands again, tipping his chin back to watch the clouds. Clicking his toes again, but it didn’t seem so annoying now. Riku thought the conversation was forgotten, that they could continue with a nice, quiet afternoon.
But then came the question, “Why did you lie?”
There were so many little lies he’d told recently that Riku wasn’t sure which one was in question. Admitting that was worse.
“What do you mean?” He tried to sound innocent.
“About having magic.”
His heart stuttered. “What makes you think that?”
Sora’s voice was soft. “You're so insistent. Defensive.”
Riku’s fingers trembled on the flowers in his hands. So much for setting a good example.
“Well, alright.” He took a breath. “Everyone – no matter who – has the magic of wishes, dreams and love.”
It was what Godmother always said, and it wasn’t a lie. But Sora sighed, and shook his head.
“I can see it in your eyes.”
He took Sora’s arm then. Jostled him just enough to get his attention – to make those blue eyes look at him.
“Sora. I'm not lying.”
Sora frowned at him. More of a pout, and it made Riku’s heart stutter.
“So, if I say that –” Sora’s finger waved in the air, as though it was a conductor’s wand and he was trying to figure out a beat. “If I repeat that, my nose won’t grow?”
“I don’t think that's how it works. You’re not a lie detector.”
Sora considered that, and Riku saw an opportunity.
“Say that I had porridge for breakfast,” he said.
Sora did, and they waited a moment. Riku stared determinedly at Sora’s nose, and Sora went cross-eyed trying to watch it.
It didn’t move.
“Did you?”
Riku shook his head. “Toast.”
Sora stared at him for another moment. Then folded his arms, tilting his chin upwards.
"Then I will tell a lie for every one you tell."
Riku's heart stuttered. "Don't do that."
Sora didn't look at him. "You have magic."
"I don't."
"I believe you."
And he didn't believe it when Sora's nose did grow. Straight out. For a moment, they both stared at it, shocked. Pinocchio had said it, but seeing it was altogether different.
Then Riku grabbed his shoulder. Shook him, even though he held firm.
"Sora! I'm telling the truth."
Sora glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. Them closed them, and took a breath. "I think you are."
The wood of his nose grew again, so that it was about two foot long.
Riku shook his shoulder. "You're meant to be truthful."
Sora didn't budge. "So are you. Um -" He thought for a moment. "I don’t like Pinocchio."
His nose grew again, and this time tiny branches came from the end. Like a miniature shrub. Riku stared at it, shaking Sora again.
He opened his eyes and gasped at it. He pressed at it gingerly.
Riku's voice softened, though his heart was beating so fast he could feel it in his fingertips. "Don't be silly."
Sora's hand dropped to his lap, and he became stubborn again. "You don't." He paused. "I don't like it here."
Again, it grew, more branches off the sides, sprouting tiny, green buds. They seemed on the verge of opening.
"Please stop!" Riku was desperate.
"I don’t like flowers -"
A bundle of leaves appeared at the end and the wood was so heavy that Sora's chin was tilted downwards.
"Sora!"
"I don't like Riku!"
"Fine!" He snapped. "Fine - I have – I can –" Riku's voice dropped to a whisper. "I can do magic."
Sora didn’t say anything this time. But he didn’t move. If he did, he probably would have knocked Riku over. He closed his eyes, because It was terrifying to see the tiny tree that Sora’s nose had become.
“I – used to stay with a wizard when Godmother was busy. He left one of his books open once, when he was with – when he was busy. And his owl – helped me read it. He could see that I had the gift, and I guess – well, I do. It wasn’t anything much at first. Just a couple of sparks.”
Riku remembered it. Remembered orange sparks coming from his fingertips like a firework. His heart had swelled and he had been amazed. Done it again. And again. Because magic was beautiful. Magic was incredible, and it was his.
“Why didn’t you tell Godmother?” Sora asked, his voice muffled.
Riku smiled, pushed his hair away from his face. “Because we weren’t supposed to read it. And I thought – I thought Godmother would be more impressed if I could do something more than that. So I kept practising.”
Only when Merlin wasn’t around. That added to it. Brought a feverish excitement along with the sparks – or snowflakes – that turned into a candleflame or snow flurry. It had been slow progress at the start. But then Arthur needed more help, and Merlin was away more often, and the magic grew to a flame in the palm of his hand – or a burst of snow. And that swelling feeling only grew and grew.
“It was just a few tricks,” Riku continued. “Magic tricks. And I shouldn’t have thought about it like that. It’s dangerous.”
Sora waited for a moment. His voice was soft when he asked, “What happened?”
“I got – overconfident.” He let his hair fall back into place, and sighed. “Archimedes and I kept trying to do more – bigger and more complicated – and I lost control. I had – fire in my hand.” He held it out, and felt like he could feel the flames there again. It had been like holding a small animal. Warm and eager. “And I tried let it float, but it – went out the window. Caught in some trees. And the houses nearby were too close.”
They had lit as quickly as paper, charring and turning black within moments. Thick smoke filled the air from the trees, made it hard to see, but he could hear screaming.
“I tried to put it out, but whenever I cast blizzard I – it wasn’t strong enough. It just seemed to make things worse.”
Riku had stood there, helpless as people ran out of their houses. Watched their homes and treasured possessions be destroyed.
And it had been his fault.
“Archimedes got Merlin, and he put the fire out easily.”
“But people were hurt.”
Riku took a breath that stabbed his lungs. “Yes.”
That was when he wore the cape. As a symbol of his mistake and regret, even if no one knew. Riku had never admitted to it, but Merlin must have suspected.
There was another pause. He felt wood over his hand. He opened his eyes, to see Sora staring at him, his eyes soft. His nose was nowhere near as long, though it was still not its normal length.
“But it was an accident,” Sora murmured. “It wasn’t –”
“It was.” Riku’s voice was hoarse. “If I hadn’t kept tried doing it by myself – if I hadn’t kept it secret –”
“Why did you? Once you knew more?”
He took another breath. His hands were shaking now – he only realised that when both of Sora’s hands held his. Tightly.
“Because – because if Merlin knew that I had magic, he’d want to take me as an apprentice.” He shook his head. “I didn’t want that. I don’t want that. Now that I’ve seen what it does –” He shook his head again, fingers tightening on Sora’s. “It destroys.”
Sora tilted his head, and it seemed like the sun was behind him. “Only some.”
“The kind I have isn’t the wish-granting kind,” Riku muttered. “And just because I have it – that shouldn’t mean that I have to use it. I want to be able to choose.”
Sora was silent. He turned Riku’s hand over, tracing a finger over his palm.
"What do you want to choose?"
Riku knew his answer.
"I want to stay here." He wanted everything to stay the same.
But Sora wasn't the same. And he wanted to keep seeing him, because he had a bright smile and soft eyes and cradled Riku's hand as though it was something special. That was a change.
"Is that a lie?" Sora's finger traced down his, as though it was following a road.
There it was. That horrible overwhelming panic that seized his gut and made him feel - restless. Made him bite his lip so hard that it hurt.
He didn't reply. Gently pulled his hand away. His fingers found the stem of an crocus instead, and twisted it round.
"What would you choose?" he asked.
"I don’t know,” Sora replied. “There’s so much.”
That was the problem. The thing that made Riku’s gut squirm. There was so much and it all felt so final.
“I know who I would ask,” Sora continued. His fingers tapped the flowers on the chain again, as though he was counting them.
The sickening feeling got worse. “Godmother can’t know.”
“Why not?”
Because he didn’t want her to know that Riku had hurt people. That he’d been responsible for destruction because he had been reckless and cocky. He pulled his knees to his chest, and didn’t answer.
“Wouldn’t she understand?” Sora asked. And when he stayed quiet – because he could not admit that she would – he continued, “She’s meant to help you, isn’t she?”
Riku shrugged. Staring at the town in the distance.
“And if you keep lying to her, then my nose will keep growing. And you don’t want that.” Sora grinned.
Riku scowled. And pushed Sora’s shoulder.
He laughed, catching himself in the grass. The flower chain was spread over his lap. The sun seemed to be behind him, bathed him in gold just as the wind caught his hair.
For a moment, Riku couldn’t catch his breath.
He leant forward, taking the flower chain, aware that Sora had just done the same. Aware that he hadn’t left warmth on the stems. He fiddled with the end of it.
“And how did you get so clever?” he asked.
Sora laughed again. “I guess things are simple when you haven’t been alive long.”
Maybe that was true.
Riku smiled, joining the flower chain together. He held it for a moment.
Then knelt up, not letting himself think as he placed the chain over Sora’s head. It hung around his neck, the purples, reds and yellows  bright against his white shirt. He looked down at it, tracing it with his finger, still smiling.
Beautiful.
Blue eyes looked up at him and Riku’s face felt warm. Very warm. He opened his mouth to explain, but couldn’t find the words.
Sora didn’t say anything either. They sat in the meadow with the sun on their faces.
And Sora’s fingers found Riku’s in the grass. Not quite holding. But still touching.
He didn’t pull away.
“I don’t know what I want to do,” Sora murmured. “But, when I’m a real boy, I’ll stay with you.”
That thought made the panic in Riku’s stomach die down.
So he replied, barely hearing the words himself, “I’d like that.”
*
It was easy enough to make the decision to tell Godmother, but actually doing so was a lot harder.
Riku just didn’t know how to start. The only thing that filled his mind was the image of Sora with the flower chain around his neck, grinning. Geppetto must have known he’d been such a beautiful marionette – so what would he look like when he was real?
Would he really stay with Riku, once he wasn’t the only person he could talk to outside his house?
“Riku, that’s the fifth sigh in five minutes.” Godmother was unpicking her stitching.
“Sorry.” Riku tapped the windowsill. The words were in his mouth. He just couldn’t get them further. Once they were out, he had to go through with the whole conversation. He wasn’t sure he could.
She guessed half of what he was thinking about. “How’s Sora?”
He kept his eyes on the window, but that wasn’t helpful. It was dark out, and his reflection stared back at him.
“He – learnt about being truthful.”
“And he had a good teacher.” She pulled at the loose thread and Riku had to smile, despite the lurch in his stomach. Without her wand, she struggled with ‘normal’ things.
“I’m not,” Riku murmured. He saw her reflection put down the stitching, but she didn’t reply. “I’m not a good teacher.”
“What do you mean?”
He had started it. So he had to find the words. Riku told her - in bursts and drips because it was harder to admit it to her than to Sora. With Sora, he'd just been hoping that his nose wouldn't grow anymore - didn't feel such deep rooted shame because he hadn't been lying to him for so long. Didn't have to worry so much about what he would say when he found out.
He didn't look at Godmother. He kept his eyes on the floor.
When he was done, there was a lump in his throat that made it hard to talk. Godmother sat next to him. She stroked his hair, like she used to when he was little, tilting his head down so that it rested against her shoulder, and it made him feel worse. He wished he was little, and didn’t have to worry about anything.
"If only you had told me," she said.
Riku shook his head, just a little. His voice was thick, now. "I don't want to hurt anyone. Not anymore."
She took his face in her hands. Gently turned him so that he had to look into kind dark eyes. She was smiling. She shouldn't be smiling. She should be angry - betrayed by him - disappointed and hurt and not smiling.
"Magic doesn’t have to hurt,” she said, softly. “It can heal too.”
"That's yours."
"Your kind too."
And when Riku blinked at her, she shook her head. Smoothed his fringe out of his eyes, smiling, like he had made a silly, simple mistake. He definitely didn’t deserve her.
"Merlin’s magic can cure too. Fire can bring comfort and warmth to those who need it, and blizzard relief to those with a fever. And more. He doesn't use it lightly but I've seen him heal wounds, cure illnesses - all manner of ailments."
Riku wondered how he didn't know that. He felt winded. "Really?"
"Of course." She took his hands, turning them over. It was so similar to what Sora had done, but her hands were warm and worn. "He'll teach you, if that's what you want."
"If?" Riku repeated. "If I have magic, shouldn't I use it?"
"Maybe. But I won't force you into doing something you don't want to." She squeezed his fingers, and he tried to squeeze back, but he felt weak. "You have to choose what you want to do."
Which was just what he'd always wanted. But now that she said it - released the pressure that was always hanging over him, Riku felt - overwhelmed. Choice was so broad. There was so much. Being able to choose - was just as terrifying as being forced into it.
"What if I don't know?" he whispered.
"Then you can change your mind.” Godmother sat back. “Do you think I always wanted to be a fairy godmother?”
“Well – I –”
She shook her head. “I wanted to be normal. Have a little normal life with children of my own.”
“But you grant wishes.”
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to.” She shook her head. “Then, I found that not many people are normal – not when you know everything. And the few that are – wish they were. So…it was better to embrace that. And I ended up getting half of what I wanted.”
Godmother squeezed his hands.
Riku’s chest still felt heavy. He still felt confused – trying to take everything in at once.
“Lots of children,” he said.
“But only one I raised.” Her eyes glistened as she looked at him. “And you know my advice.”
“Follow your heart,” Riku said it automatically. “But what if I don’t know what my heart wants?”
Godmother raised an eyebrow. “Then you’d better start listening.”
She patted his hands. And that seemed to be the end of it.
There was a weight that he’d forgotten he was carrying off his shoulders that left a heavy, satisfied feeling in his chest. But there was also that familiar gnawing feeling in his gut.
The future was a wide, vast thing, and it felt like he was in an ocean without a paddle.
Unselfish
Sora kept making Riku gifts. Little wooden statues - which all looked a lot like fish - or tug along wooden toys. (All looking something like a dog, but it was hard to tell the exact animal.)
Riku put each one on his windowsill, because Sora had been proud of them. Had hidden them behind his back and grinned when he presented them. And he couldn't say no.
But he was running out of room on his windowsill.
And he knew what Sora was up to.
 “You know, giving gifts isn't being unselfish,” he said. They sat at the table in the cottage – Riku having just received another wooden toy. It sat by his hand – apparently a panda, though looking like a misshapen rock.
Sora didn’t deny his plan. He blinked at Riku. “It doesn't?”
Riku couldn’t help smiling. There was something cute about his wide eyes and open mouth. “That's just being nice.”
“Well, I want to be nice too.” Sora grinned, and Riku felt warmth burst through his chest. “And you give me gifts.”
He had worn Riku's flower chain until it had wilted and fallen apart, and then mourned it for a further two days. He’d made another.
“That's what friends do.” Riku shrugged.
Sora considered that. He rested his arms on the table, leaning forward. “Are we friends?”
“It’s not like I have a choice.” The Blue Fairy had evidently decided that Riku needed a friend. Although, he couldn’t bring himself to be resentful. It was like being around a ball of sunshine. Sora’s smile and laughs – his constant happiness – made Riku look forward to seeing him.
“Good,” Sora said. His eyes sparkled. But then he frowned. Poked the wooden toy. “Then, what's unselfish?”
“Being unselfish is –” Riku broke off, trying to think of a way to explain it. “Well, it’s…”
“It’s putting aside yourself for someone else,” Godmother said, from where she chopped carrots for the stew.
“Like taking someone where they want to go when you want to stay at home,” Riku said.
Sora leapt up. “Then I'll take you somewhere.”
Riku almost laughed. He shook his head. “But you don’t want to stay home. I do.”
“Should I clean for you? Or do the washing?”
Godmother did laugh then.
“You can’t rush these things.” She turned, knife in hand to wave it at them. “The right thing to do will come to you if you wait.”
“But I don’t want to wait,” Sora cried out.
“You want to be a real boy that badly?” Riku asked.
“Wouldn't you? It's so hard to wood carve with -" He held up his fingers, then turned to Godmother, his eyes wide. "Does that count as brave? I could have chopped my finger off.”
It was exactly the thing he would do, if he was distracted. It was a miracle that his hands weren’t chipped to pieces.
Riku stood. “Maybe you shouldn't wood carve.”
“But it's what Geppetto and Pinocchio do,” Sora said, as though that meant he should do it too. “I like it - I like creating things.”
“There are other things you can do to be creative.” Safer things, Riku added.
“Riku draws.” Godmother turned back to the carrots, unable to hide her smile. “And paints. Very well, if I do say so myself.”
“Godmother!” Riku’s cheeks felt warm.
Sora had hold of his hand in the next moment. Squeezing it between both of his and looking up at him with amazed eyes. “Show me, Riku!”
“No.” Absolutely not.
“That's selfish.” Sora swung their hands.
Godmother was laughing. Riku glared at her back.
“I'm not trying to be a real boy,” he said. Not looking at Sora, because he knew that he would give in if he did.
“Please?” Sora stepped around him. Standing on tip toe and blinking innocently. “I'll do something for you.”
“That wouldn’t be unselfish.” He fought a smile – turning his head away.
Sora followed him. “That wouldn’t be why I want to see.”
He brushed a strand of silver hair from Riku’s face, his expression soft, and it made his breath catch in his throat. They really were too close – way too close considering Godmother was right there.
Riku shook his head again – trying to detach their fingers, but Sora clung on. Kept following Riku as he tried to get away from him. He got dizzy quickly and their feet clashed against each other. Sora stumbled and cried out as he started falling headlong.
The next moment, Riku had caught his waist. He pulled him up, and as he did, Sora put a hand on his shoulder. They were practically chest to chest. Sora blinked at him, the corners of his mouth curling upwards.
Riku’s face burned. He was holding Sora. Who wasn’t going to give this up until he got what he wanted.
“Just a few sketches,” he muttered, pulling away.
Sora laughed. He followed him up, wooden shoes clanking on each stair. He added appreciatively around the room, tracing the embroidery on his comforter and peering out of his window.
"You have such a pretty view," he said, leaning on the desk to see better.
Riku glanced out. The town sat in the distance, nestled by the wildflower fields and the summer sky. Woods stretched out to the side – a wall of brown trunks and green leaves.
"It's prettier in the winter," Riku replied. "When it snows."
"I can't wait to see snow." Sora's wooden fingers nudged the glass, his eyes distant. Then he blinked, turning to Riku. "So, is winter your favourite time of year?"
Riku leant against the desk. Choosing to look at the marionette instead of out the window.
"I like winter," he admitted. "Snow is great –”
“Pinocchio told me about making snowmen and snowball fights.”
Well - yeah." He was not about to admit that he had only done those things a couple of times. Mainly when he was little – mainly with Arthur. Godmother had helped him with a snowman a few times, but he’d decided he was too old for it. That they were silly, childish things to do. "But there’s nothing like stepping in the front door when your socks are soaked – and you can’t feel your fingers – and sitting by the fire to dry off. To get warm, when it’s getting dark outside, but it’s not quite time for dinner.” And dinner in the winter was always a stew or a thick soup. “With a cup of hot chocolate and a mince pie - or fruitcake. Winter food is always - it doesn't just fill your stomach, it's like it feels your heart too.”
Riku hadn’t realised that he leant forward. They were either side of the desk chair – and Sora had leant closer to him too. Listening to every word as he continued – remembering it so vividly that he could see it in front of him.
Now it faded away, replaced by Sora looking at him in delight. The afternoon light turned his skin to gold – brought out the pink on his cheeks and lips. Riku stared, feeling the urge to touch him. Cup the swell of Sora’s cheek in his palm.
“That sounds nice,” Sora said. Looking as though he trying to memorise Riku’s face, completely.
Riku blinked. Remembered what they had been talking about. Turned away from Sora to address the fields.
“But my favourite time of year is the Spring,” he continued. “Everything just – starts again. Just like before. The eggs hatch and the fox cubs come out from the den. The plants all need to be pruned and cut back before they grew flowers and fruit again. There’s the most work to do in Spring - and there’s nothing like work after a long winter of doing nothing.”
Work kept his mind off things. It was productive. Useful. Chased away strange sense of dread that hung over the ending of the year.
He hadn’t noticed that his hand was on the desk until he felt Sora’s fingers brush against his own. There was no way that he could glance at him.
“But every year isn’t the same,” Sora said. His little finger pressed against Riku's. "Not really. It's the birds from the year before that are laying eggs and a different number of cubs are born. The cubs are different - they all have their own personality. The plants grow back in a different way. They make new flowers. Everything is new." Riku chanced a glance at him, then, and Sora's eyes twinkled at him. "I'm new."
So new to everything and yet he was so clever. He noticed things, saw things in a different way and that was - amazing.
"You are." Riku looked at their hands on the desk. "It would be a disaster to have a you come to life every year."
"Hey!" Sora pushed Riku's shoulder, frowning. It only made him laugh.
"Because you're right," he said. "You're different."
"So are you." Sora's hand was still on his shoulder, just lightly.
"You don’t know many people to compare me to." It felt mean to say. But he had to - had to make it clear that Riku was - just Riku. And he didn't want to be anything else.
Sora frowned, folding his arms over his chest. His joints clicked.
"I hear people in the shop. And I watch them going by," he said. "And no one's like you."
Riku pulled himself up to sit on the edge of the desk, rolling his eyes.
"No one has white hair?" he asked. It had always been that way - a fascination of the town's when he was little. He supposed that it was a mark of his magic.
"I like your hair." And Sora reached out a hand to touch the strands at Riku's jaw. "It's like snow."
"Hm." He swallowed.
"But no one’s kind on the inside like you," Sora continued, looking at him with an unreadable expression. “You're prickly and grumpy on the outside, but on the inside you care. You enjoy your own company but you're lonely, really.”
“Why does everyone think that?” Riku’s heart pounded at the words. He scowled to hide it.
Sora raised an eyebrow. “Your friends are a puppet and a child.”
“I don’t need friends.”
“You do. You like the company. When you started walking Pinocchio to school you looked happier. Here." Sora tapped Riku’s cheek – just underneath his eye.
That wasn’t fair. Sora was meant to be a marionette when that happened. He wasn’t meant to see. Wasn’t meant to see how he’d started to enjoy Pinocchio jumping up and down at his side.
He wished that Sora wasn’t so observant.
“You saw that,” he muttered. Ducked his head so that his hair covered his face.
“Mm.” Sora nodded. “And I –“
“What?”
“Nothing.”
He peered through his hair in time to see Sora’s nose twitch. Riku leant over and tapped it.
Sora covered it with his hands. He paused for a moment, shuffling.
“You looked at me – a lot –” He said, slowly pulling his hands away. Riku’s cheeks flooded with warmth. He did stare at Sora a lot, but so had a lot of people, he was sure. He was an impressive mannequin when he wasn’t alive. “But your eyes looked so lonely, that I wanted you to have a friend. I wanted – to be that friend.”
Sora looked up. And it seemed to Riku that the paint of his cheeks was pinker than usual. He had noticed Riku. Out of everyone. Was that because he had magic? Would that have made Sora notice him?
Did he want him to?
Maybe. Maybe he had wanted the company of someone like Sora – definitely had wanted to see that smile and that wish came true in tenfold.
He hadn’t realised that he’d trailed into silence, until Sora pushed his shoulder – just lightly. Enough to make him realise that he was staring.
“And I wanted to see your sketches, Riku!” he said.
It made Riku laugh. And maybe he wanted that too – someone to make him laugh, because that had become a rare thing.  There wasn’t much to laugh at when you wandered the woods alone.
He thought he liked it.
“Alright.” He hopped off of the desk to open one of the drawers. It wasn’t quite a sketchbook. More a scrap of leather with sheaves of folded paper shoved inside. They stuck out like crooked teeth. “Here.”
Sora all but pounced on it. He put it on the desk, opening it with surprising care. They were mostly of trees – trees and the town. Sometimes squirrels or rabbits – occasionally a hedgehog. In messy pencils or charcoal, but Sora traced his fingers over the lines anyway, as though he was trying to find his way through a maze.
The pages were too thin for him to flip over easily, so Riku took charge of it.
"You could become an artist," Sora said.
Riku looked down at the pages. "No."
"Why not?"
Riku turned it for Sora. Looking at the chalk and charcoal of a cabbage from the garden.
"Artists don't make enough to eat," he said.
Sora chuckled. "I'll make us both enough money."
"Doing what?" He was genuinely curious. Wondered if Sora had dreams yet.
Because Riku didn't. Not really. Just knew that he liked the way things were. Right now. Sora included.
"I'll get good at woodworking." Sora paused, tracing the shape of autumn leaves on one sketch. "When I become a real boy, it'll be easier."
"But is that what you want?"
"What do you want, Riku?" Sora met his gaze.
He fumbled. "I - talked to Godmother - about - magic. She said...that I could learn to heal instead."
"Maybe you'd like that. It's helping people – and you're helping me, already." Sora's face seemed very close to his, and it made Riku feel warm, because he didn't think he was doing much of anything.
"Maybe," he said. But he was sure mistakes would come with that, and that was the bad bit. That he might make things worse.
Sora turned back, though he was still so close. Riku’s arms were practically around him, but he seemed to fit perfectly.
"I don't know what else I'm good at," Sora murmured.
"I'll help you find it." It happened so often around Sora - Riku speaking without thinking.
"Oh, Riku!" Sora turned again, and threw his arms around his neck. They were awkward, only moving at the joints and his body was awkward against Riku's. Not built for hugging.
But maybe Riku wasn't either. His own arms felt awkward as he returned it.
Well, maybe that was something they both weren't good at. But he’d be willing to try and get better.
*
Sora had eaten more strawberries than he had picked.
And Riku was trying to be angry about that. He glanced away as Sora bit into another, turning his head as though he was looking at the woods.
"There'll be none left for jam, if you continue like that." He plucked off another two with a practised hand, dropping them into the basket at his feet.
"Maybe I don't want jam," Sora replied. Stretched and grinned, like a cat in the sun.
"What about tart?" Riku replied. "Or cake with fresh cream and strawberries on top?"
"It depends." Sora picked another, turning it over and peering at it. "Are you the one cooking them?"
Riku wasn't sure if he was created that way, or had picked the teasing up from him. Either way, he let out a sound of outrage.
"I'll have you know-" He stepped around the strawberry patch. "That I am a fine cook."
He started forwards. Sora laughed, and tried to dart out of his way.
Riku's hands caught his waist, lifting him from the dirt path. He may be wood, but he was not heavy. He laughed, only half-attempting to loosen Riku's grip.
"Take it back, strawberry thief." It was the kind of game he'd play with Arthur, before he got serious.
Sora folded his arms. “Never. And I'm no thief.”
“You have strawberry stains on your shorts.”
A pause. Sora’s legs squeaked as he bent them. “They were always red.”
“Nonsense.” Riku shook his head. Laughing, even though he shouldn’t be. Let Sora to his feet, but caught his wrist. “Your fingers too.”
There were pink stains on the end of the brown wood. Sora blinked down at them. His eyes widened. They both realised the problem at the same time.
“Do you think it’ll come off?” he asked, quietly.
Riku didn’t know. He hoped so. Hoped that he was not the one responsible for staining Geppetto’s masterpiece forever. Stained Sora forever.
“My, my, its lovely out here.” It was Godmother, appearing at the back door. She smiled at them, but there was more behind it. Something in the twinkle of her eye that made Riku feel suspicious. “How are things coming along?”
Riku’s cheeks felt warm, for some reason. He realised the puppet, folding his arms instead. Tried to look like he was exasperated, and definitely not having fun.
“Sora has too much of an appetite to be a gardener,” he said.
“That’s not true.” For a moment, he went cross-eyed, trying to check the status of his nose. Riku smiled at the sight, without realising, as Sora continued. “Let me try something else. Something less tastier.”
“The vegetables then.”
“To the vegetables.” Sora took his hand. As though it was nothing. Tugged him away.
He glanced at Godmother over his shoulder. She raised her eyebrows, and he thought he could guess her meaning. Shook his head to show she was wrong.
Sora had a way of bouncing along, past the rows. As though he had springs on his feet. Untroubled, Riku thought, like a child. And he supposed he was. Only worried about becoming a real boy and didn't seem to wonder what came after that.
Didn't seem to look where he was going, either. He tripped on the corner of the low trellis for the green peas. Riku jerked forward - caught his waist and hauled him up. Because wood could snap - and then what?
"Please, be careful," he said.
Sora tilted his head to the side, smiling like he knew something Riku didn't. "But you've always caught me so far."
There was something - something in the warmth of his voice and the glimmer in his eye that made Riku's cheeks warm. He tried to busy himself with the peas, checking they were still growing with the rods.
"What if I'm not around?"
Sora leant down on the other side of the flower bed. Touched one of the tiny pods. "Then I'll find you."
Riku's chest felt tight at that. That someone cared enough to find him. Tried to remind himself that Sora did not know many people, anyway, but -
He forced himself to focus on the garden. To water the plants and stay out of the splash Sora's watering can made when he tried to help. To dead head the flowers, even though he kept glancing across to make sure no wooden fingers found their way to the ground. Sora’s hands were clumsy, and he cut too much of the stems off. To plant the new seeds - carrots in their patch. Riku’s hands got dirty, but Sora was covered soil to his elbow joints. His clothes were covered.
Riku could take a bath, though. He was not sure what would happen if Sora did. He pulled him to the water bucket by the door. Found a rag and started scrubbing at Sora’s arm. Hoped that the dirt wouldn’t get into the grain and stay there. He could not return Gepetto’s masterpiece as a mess.
"Is it true that you enchant the food here?" Sora asked.
"No. We're just good at it," Riku replied. "Selling it fresh helps. It doesn't have far to travel."
"Hm." Sora watched him work, seemingly unbothered. "But today's strawberries tasted better than last time."
"I'm sure they didn't."
“Pinocchio says he’s never tasted food like yours.”
“Well, he exaggerates.” The boy was excited about everything.
Sora shook his head. Let Riku take his other hand and try splicing it down. “His nose didn't grow at all. I'm sure there’s magic involved.”
It didn’t look as though Sora would give that up, so he relented, “maybe.”
Maybe there was magic involved. But he knew it wasn’t Godmother. Knew that magic could sometimes be used subconsciously. Shuffled at the thought that it was him. It took what he loved about the garden – about this life – and tangled it up in what he didn’t want.
He still had not decided whether to go to Merlin or not.
“Riku?”
Sora’s voice saved him from his thoughts. He glanced up to those bright blue eyes.
“Mm?”
You have -" Sora gently teased the rag from his fingers. Rubbed it against Riku’s cheek. It was cold, but he couldn’t bring himself to flinch away when they were sat this close to each other.
“Oh,” he murmured. “Thank you.”
Sora smiled, softly. Gave the rag back, and examined the dirt on him. Looked at the butchered plants around them, the puddles from his watering, and the overturned earth of his planting.
“I don’t think I’m a gardener.”
Riku agreed. And found himself chuckling at Sora’s attempt. The marionette laughed too. Leaning back. He knocked over the water pail as he did, creating a flood over the dirt pathways. Riku tugged him out of harm’s way, but it only made him laugh more.
Why had he expected this to be simple and easy? And why didn’t he mind that it wasn’t?
*
They tried baking. Sora curdled his eggs, ended up covered in flour, and nearly set himself on fire putting his cake into the oven. It did not taste awful, but he had noticed Godmother twitch her wand once or twice.
So they tried fishing, but neither were patient enough for it. Sora started telling Riku Pinnocchio’s stories, gesturing wildly, and nearly capsized them both. They turned to painting and milling with similar disastrous results.
After nearly being thrown from the carriage, due to Sora’s enthusiastic driving, Riku was starting to feel as though they’d never find what he wanted to do, that didn’t endanger himself or anyone else.
They supped at Gepetto’s at his insistence, since he had made too much soup for the three of them. It was sweet potato, combined with a mixture of herbs to give it a burst of flavour. Pinocchio and Sora talked quickly, exchanging misadventures (Pinocchio’s school life seemed much more exciting than Riku’s homeschooling), or musing over strange questions. Why were ladybird’s spotted? Why were foxes sneaks? Who arranged the alphabet?
Riku was content to watch them giggling and smiling. It was like having a little brother in Pinocchio, but Sora –
His bubbly laugh and wide grin made his heart beat just as forcefully as when he had remained lifeless. More so, now that he knew he really was like sunshine.
And Riku’s life had certainly been grey before now. He just hadn’t realised how long the storm clouds had been there.
He spoke amiably with Geppetto, about Godmother and her health. (Fit as a fiddle, like always), and explained it was no trouble at all for keeping Sora occupied. Ventured as far to admit he enjoyed the company. There were not many people his age in the village, and none that were keen to associate with the boy who’s garden was enchanted.
Pinocchio offered to show them what he had learnt on his panpipes as desert was brought out. A simple, jaunty tune, but he played it well. The second time he looped it, Sora stood, and began to dance. It was more of a jig, tapping his feet as an accompaniment.
But for someone who was usually so clumsy, he was good. Graceful. Riku was - entranced as he circled Pinocchio, adding turns to the jig at the third time round of the tune.
Geppetto clapped and congratulated them.
Sora caught Riku’s gaze. Stared back at him. And maybe it was only the lighting, but his cheeks seemed flushed. There was an extra sparkle in his eye.
“You’re – good.” It was hard to force his words out.
“It’d be great if you could sing as well,” Pinocchio exclaimed. “Here, I know something!”
It was also a simple enough song. He went through the steps with Sora, and even though it was getting late, Riku could not find it in himself to go home. He stayed, watching the two dance, and listening to Sora’s bright voice sing about how he had no strings.
He didn’t seem to be held down by anything, that much was true. And he looked – at home – as he performed. More comfortable with his body. A joyful look on his face.
After all, Riku supposed, this was what a marionette was made for.
“We’re good, right?” Pinocchio asked Riku eagerly, not a moment after they had bowed. “Aren’t we good, Riku?”
He tried to smile, but he felt dazed. “Very.”
“That was what I sung for the man who tried to lock me in a cage to perform forever.”
“Oh.” He glanced at Geppetto, to see if this was true, but he was taking the dishes to the kitchen.
Sora sat, looking out of breath. But grinning. “If you say that I’m good Riku, then that means we’ve found it.”
“Found what?”
“What I’m good at!” He was practically glowing with excitement. “And this is what I want to do – I’m sure of it.”
“I know.” And Riku tried to sound soft, and understanding, but his mind was full of panic. “But it’s dangerous – look what happened to Pinocchio.”
Pinocchio sat too. Swung his legs and helped himself to the bread and butter pudding. “Mr Stromboli didn’t believe that I could feel anything – he would have made me dance every day and then – when I couldn’t – he said he would –”
Pinocchio’s lip trembled. He looked at Sora with wide, fearful eyes.
Riku could guess at the fate a broken wooden puppet would have, and knew that it would still be a terrifying thought even to a real boy. He patted Pinocchio’s shoulder in an attempt to show his sympathy.
Pinocchio took his hand in both his small ones, and swung it between them, frowning down at the table. He squeezed their fingers together, and wished that he knew the right thing to say.
“It’s probably safer for the not-alive puppets to perform,” he said.
Sora sighed, eyebrows knitting together. But then he met Pinocchio’s eye. And they both began to smile.
“Unless they thought I was just a puppet,” Sora said.
Pinocchio jumped up – still had hold of Riku’s hand, so he was jerked too. “We can tie strings to him and I can pretend to be the one controlling him!”
“Yes!”
Riku wasn’t sure. Still thought that it would be dangerous. It would only take one slip.
Sora saw his hesitation. Reached over and took his other hand, pulling him to his feet.
“We’ll practice,” he said. “And we’ll be careful. But we have to try, Riku.”
They had to try because it made Sora so happy. It was what he wanted to do. And if Riku knew what that was for him, then he would take risks too.
“I know,” was all that he could say.
“Will you come and see our first performance?” Pinocchio had Sora’s other hand, joining them in a circle, and that made Riku’s chest feel tight.
“Of course.” He caught Sora’s eye. Wanted to wink but did not have the confidence. “I’ll bring flowers.”
Sora beamed at him, cheeks seemingly rosier than ever. He was the one who walked Riku to the door, whilst Geppetto attempted to put an excited Pinocchio to bed. Somehow, he’d gotten hold of Riku’s hand again, and swung it as they walked. He didn’t mind that. Wondered how it would feel if that hand was warm, and soft.
“Thank you,” Sora murmured, as he unlocked the shop door. The moonlight made him a creature of silver and black, and that was just as mesmerizing.
“The two of you came up with the idea.”
Sora shook his head, shadows dancing across the wood of his face. “You helped me figure out what I wanted.”
Riku had only risked breaking Sora. “You already wanted to perform.”
“I suspected.” Sora leant closer, peering at up at him, as though he was a constellation, or a meteor. Something – fascinating. “But now I know. And I know – something else.”
His fingers hovered over Riku’s cheek. He could feel the very edge of the wood against his cheek bone. Just brushing his hair out of the way.
His own hand was hovering over Sora’s waist – when had that happened? When had his heart began to race?
“What else?” he whispered. Felt trapped in that gaze, because Sora had always looked at him fondly, but now –
He smiled. Ghosted his fingers down Riku’s cheek, just brushing the corner of his mouth with his thumb.
“That’s my secret. For now.” His hand hovered over Riku’s chest a moment more, before he stepped away. Glanced back towards the stairs to show that he needed to get going.
Riku struggled to breathe. Felt his cheeks burn. Managed to mumble a goodnight – get himself to the door and back to where Lampwick was waiting to take him home.
His mind felt as though it was full of sparks as he rode the donkey. Knew that his own life would have been so different without Sora.
No. It would have been exactly the same. And he was, actually, glad that it had changed. Glad that he did not only admire a marionette in a shop anymore. Glad that he had – a friend. Someone like him.
Someone he liked. And who seemed to like him.
*
He was happy. Happy with this new normal, until it was ruined, two days later, when he came in from the garden to find him sat in their cottage.
Merlin had not changed in the few years since Riku last saw him. Still tall, thin and sporting a tremendously long beard. Still wearing the same dark blue robe. He had a cup of tea, and was chatting amicably to Godmother, though they both fell silent as he stepped through the door.
“We were just waiting for you, dear.”
He was not one to forget his manners, so Riku said, "Hello," but it sounded unsure, even to his own ears.
"Riku, my boy." Merlin slapped his knee as he stood. Held out a hand that he shook with a certain wariness. "I was happy to let you avoid me, until a little bird told me that you'd be interested in studying healing."
He turned sharply to Godmother, but she shook her head.
"A rather - enthusiastic bird," Merlin added, and the way that he raised his eyebrows made it click into place for Riku.
He was not sure whether to laugh or cry. Could only wonder at the conversation, and hoped that Sora had left out the details of Riku's admission.
"But - why would he -?" he stammered.
"It seems." Godmother put a hand on Merlin's elbow, to encourage him back onto the sofa. Nodded at the armchair - which Riku fell into heavily, mind whirling. "That Sora felt guilty you spent so much time helping him find what he wanted to do, that he wanted to help you find your way as well."
Of course he did. Because Sora wanted to be a real boy and yet never thought of himself. Always worried about Riku's lies, about Riku doing what any good friend would do, because it was -
"Unselfish," he muttered. "That was very - unselfish of him."
Godmother's eyes twinkled at him.
"Yes, well." Merlin looked lost. "This is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Camelot, really, so it would be no hassle to tutor you once or twice a week - providing Arthur does not break anything in my absence."
"I don't -" Riku' elation broke to that familiar knot in the bottom of his stomach. "I'm still not sure that I want to study magic. Of any kind."
He received a stare from over small, round glasses. An analytical, yet, sympathetic stare.
"It scares you," he concluded.
"Did – didn’t Sora – or Godmother – explain?" It was bad enough admitting to it twice, he did not think that he could bear doing so again.
Merlin smiled, just slightly. "I always suspected who started the fire. And always knew it was an accident. Curiosity killed the cat."
Riku's could have done so. Literally. He opened his mouth to say so.
"But satisfaction brought it back," Merlin finished. "You see, it is because you are reluctant, that you are the right fit for a healer. You understand the dangers of magic, the responsibility of wielding it. That means you care.”
Riku did care. And that was why he found himself warming to the idea of healing. He supposed that being so aware of the consequences of magic would help.
“But –” He frowned. “You knew?”
“Suspected.” Merlin held up a finger to show the difference. “Someone had been at the spell books. I rather hoped to train you, but I was so busy with the once and future king, that I must have forgotten to bring it up.”
Forgotten. As though it was something small, like Riku leaving his bag behind. He mulled the proposition over. Knew that he would be in good hands, that what happened once would not happen again, if he was taught properly. Images of healing wounds crossed his mind, and he didn’t think that would be an unpleasant future.
But where would it leave Godmother? Where would it leave the cottage and the garden? And Sora?
Sora – who had done this secretly. Because he wanted Riku to find what he wanted to do. What he was good at. When he thought of that – of Sora explaining to Merlin, sneaking around, grinning at the thought that he was being of help, he didn’t think he could refuse.
“Alright,” Riku said. “I'll try. I can't promise –”
“Trying is more than enough.” Merlin nodded. Held out his hand again, and Riku shook it. More confidently this time. “I look forward to teaching you.”
Riku nodded too. Forced himself to smile. “I look forward to learning.”
And hoped that this wouldn’t end in disaster.
Brave
“Merlin noticed something interesting whilst he was here.” Godmother kept stirring the porridge, whilst Riku nursed a cup of tea, and tried to wake himself up. “He noticed an enchantment on the garden.”
Riku looked up at her. “But you never put an enchantment there.”
“I know.” She took it off the heat. Ladled some into a bowl, and gave him a pointed look. “I didn’t.”
“I wouldn’t know how,” he replied.
Godmother sat opposite him. Took a spoonful. “Many people who are untrained in magic use it without realising. Particularly if they are feeling a strong emotion.”
Riku thought of Sora. Of him insisting that the strawberries tasted better the last time around. Since he had arrived. His cheeks grew warm.
“I don’t know what you mean,” he muttered.
Godmother chuckled, and said no more. After all, her point had been made.
Riku had been using magic. Perhaps all this time. At least, it seemed, for the last few months. Which seemed to mean that he could not escape it. This time, at least, he did not feel so trapped.
He travelled to Camelot that afternoon. Met Arthur again, and it struck him that he was a serious sort now. Looked at Riku vaguely, as though he was thinking of five other things at the same time. He could not see the boy he used to laugh with.
But then, up until recently, Riku had not smiled very much either.
They did not stay long before retreating to Merlin’s small house. It seemed unchanged, even with the passing years. Still a mess. But still homey. Still with Archimedes sleeping in one corner. He opened one eye as Riku came in, then ‘hmped’ lightly, settling better on his branch. So much for his first teacher.
His hands shook with nervous energy. Mouth was dry as he looked at the spell book. It would be so simple for it all to go wrong.
Merlin sat opposite. Flicked through it. Riku glimpsed the spell he'd used to make a flame. Make snowflakes. Make a tiny lightning bolt shoot from his finger.
"We won't be casting anything today," Merlin said. "Merely - reading through and understanding."
That eased the knot in the base of his stomach. He nodded.
"And, of course, we will start with the basics."
He nodded again. Clenched his fists to stop the shaking. It was worth a try. Sora had tried everything that he had asked him, even when he was not good at it. The least Riku could do was try this again.
Merlin began the magic lesson.
*
 Riku had fallen into the habit of stopping by the woodwork shop after the market. Of being invited upstairs for tea and cake. Geppetto was normally busy, which left Riku in charge of watching Pinocchio. Or – watching Sora watch Pinocchio, since he was not so sensible, either.
But he enjoyed it. Enjoyed seeing Pinocchio in the morning and walking him to school. Of seeing Sora in an upstairs window and shooing him out of sight – even though he was grinning back at him. It didn’t feel like a chore.
It was nice. Good. Better, he supposed, than how things used to be.
Both of them were excited for their show. They seemed to be training constantly, but insisted on keeping it a secret from Riku. They paused for a break, when he arrived, and he herded them to sit at the table. They were still talking excitedly about that.
"Performing in front of people is brave," Pinocchio said. "Don't you think, Riku?"
He smiled. Wondered if that had been the motive all along, for just a moment. But, no – Sora genuinely enjoyed it.
"Yes," he said. Glanced at Sora. "It is."
Sora smiled back. He tapped his fingers on the table, as though he was thinking of something else.
"Wouldn't that be a great finale?" Pinocchio gave a small hop. "If Sora turned into a real boy? Then no one would know he was ever a puppet!"
"And you -" Sora pressed his finger against Riku's shoulder. "Can't tell us it's dangerous then."
No. So why was Riku still smiling? "I can't."
"I think -" Sora paused. Flipped Riku's hand over and traced the line of his palm. His were different - just part of the wood grain. Another thing to look forward to when he was a real boy. "That going back to something that scares you is brave."
There was still a painful knot in his stomach when thought of Camelot.
“We're not doing much right now,” he admitted.
Sora tilted his head to the side. His hair was ruffled, falling into his eyes. Not so perfect, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It made him look more – real. Riku tried to imagine him that way. Light brown skin instead of wood, dark eyelashes – would his face be similar to Pinocchio’s?  
“What do you mean?” The boy tugged at Riku’s sleeve, and he tried to return to the conversation. But his train of thought was completely lost.
“Riku’s going to be a healer,” Sora said. Smiled, and he had to look away before he was distracted again.
Yes. That. “Maybe.”
“Wow!” Pinocchio’s eyes widened to the size of teacups. “That's amazing, Riku.”
“Maybe,” he repeated. Because even though the idea of it was not so awful, anymore, there was more to it. He pulled his hand away from Sora’s. Held it in his lap. “It could mean - moving away.”
“Oh.” Pinocchio let go off his sleeve, and picked at a loose thread on his own. “You’d have to leave your Fairy Godmother.”
“Yes.”
“And the cottage.”
“Yes.”
“And Lampwick.” Pinocchio looked up at him, face full of worry.
Riku felt a smile at the corner of his mouth. “Lampwick might come with me.”
Pinocchio seemed relieved at that. But then his face fell once more. “And us.”
It would. And the thought of that made Riku’s heart ache. He couldn’t imagine not seeing them both smiling at him every day. There would be no more carriage rides, or warm dinners, or evenings spent by the hearth. No more teasing Sora and watching him get more wound up. No more Sora seeming to do his best to wind Riku up with his complete disregard for personal space.
“But I don’t need to think about that yet.” Riku tried to smile, but his mouth felt stiff. Like it used to, before they lived here. He fought to change the subject. “When will your show be ready?”
“Soon,” Pinocchio said. “We can show you some of it. As a special treat.”
“No.” Riku’s attention was on Sora again. “I’ll wait until the grand opening.”
Sora ducked his head. And Riku wondered, if he was a real boy, if he would be blushing.
Performing was brave. Which was the last thing that Sora needed to be – though he insisted to Riku that he had not been unselfish at all. That would mean – Riku’s heart fluttered at the thought –
Their first show could not come soon enough.
*
Just when RIku had settled, everything changed again. He suddenly spent more time at Camelot, more time studying and accompanying Merlin to patients. More time practising spells, concentrating on getting them perfect. Until his hands had stopped shaking so much. Until he felt confident that he would not set off an explosion when he was trying to heal a papercut.
It left him with a sense of pride – of accomplishment – and he was starting to think that he would enjoy this. Enjoy helping people and making a difference. But it also left him with pressing headaches. Left him exhausted and so relieved that he could not do anything else.
Godmother told him that she was proud of him, and that kept him going. Made him feel like this was the right thing. And yet –
There was much less time to see Sora and Pinocchio. There was less laughing and dancing with Merlin. He could feel himself becoming serious – becoming like Arthur. Like how he used to be.
He missed his friends. Missed his garden. Missed sitting with Godmother in the evenings. Would miss all of that so much more if he did leave.
Which left him simply confused.
The day of the show came around. On a warm, midsummer day that Riku insisted to have away from Camelot. He told Merlin that it was a special occasion.
Gepetto had built Sora and Pinocchio a stage, and must have spent the early hours of the morning putting it together. Or, judging by Godmother’s presence, he had a little help.
Riku slipped behind the curtains to find the two playing a clapping game with their hands, jittery with excitement. Sora did have strings tied to him – the handle lying a little way away. It made him look –
Like a puppet.
It was, of course, the point. But he was so full of life that it was unsettling. Made him look like a toy, when he wasn’t.
“Riku!” Pinocchio got to him first, hugging his waist. He’d dressed up like a circus ringmaster and tidied his hair back. The effect, Riku had to admit, was cute.
“Hello.” He knelt to pat his shoulder, and accepted Sora’s hand up. He was smiling. They’d painted his cheeks over to make the pink stand out – make him look fake. “I came to say good luck.”
Sora kept hold of Riku’s hand. “Thank you.”
They hadn’t seen each other for a while. And maybe that was why there was something in the air. Something different about the way Sora was looking at him. A glimmer in his eye and a smile at the edges of his lips.
Riku’s heart was racing. It wasn’t because Sora was an impressive marionette. It was because he had missed him – so much. Missed being with him.
Pinocchio pushed at his leg without warning, so that he stumbled forward a step.
“Sora’s really glad you’re here,” he said, giving the marionette a pointed look.
“Because Riku is my friend.” Sora spoke just as pointedly.
“He’s missed you a lot.” Pinocchio nudged Riku’s leg again. They were close now. Almost chest to chest, and Riku's cheeks felt very warm.
"I've missed Sora too." He held Sora's hand with both of his. Squeezed it. "Very much."
"How is -" Sora looked at their joint hands. "How is your magic going?"
"Alright." It was. Riku had successfully casted a few minor spells. Cured a few flus, sealed a few cuts. Every time had made him feel like he was floating. Like he was making a difference. "But I still miss my garden."
"The strawberries haven't tasted as good lately."
"They won't have been enchanted." He said it without thinking, not remembering that he hadn't told anyone that secret - and Sora's shoes flunked on the ground when he gave a small hop.
"So they were magic!"
"Only a little."
"I told you." Sora pushed Riku's chest, playfully, but his hand stayed there. Looking up at him.
The thought came to Riku that he could tilt his head down, and kiss him. It wouldn't take much. He hadn't thought about kissing Sora before, but now that he had -
He thought he wanted to. Would like to. Because if being this close made him feel like there was a fireworks display inside of him, then kissing would be even better. Would be like magic.
Geppetto stuck his head around the side of the stage, “are you two ready? There’s a crowd gathering.”
“Fa-ther!” Pinocchio cried.
Riku had forgotten that he was there. Stepped back, and remembered the world around him.
“Well –” he said. “Good luck.”
“You too,” Sora replied. Blinked when he realised what he said.
Riku laughed, patted Pinocchio’s shoulder again, then stepped back to the audience with Geppetto. He’d been right, there was a small crowd gathered curiously around the stage. He felt as nervous as if he were performing himself.
Geppetto must have been backstage, winding up the music for them. Pinocchio appeared in the window at the top, welcoming everyone with a clear voice. Said he'd tried acting, but it wasn't for him, so he made someone else to do the performing instead. That made the crowd chuckle.
The curtains opened.
Sora was there. Onstage. And he began dancing as Pinocchio sung. It was good - he saw the people around him smiling or nodding their heads to the tune. And he knew that it was Sora in charge.
But there was something about seeing him with strings that was unsettling.
Riku tried to smile, though, in case Sora saw him. Tried to look supportive. Counted down the seconds until the song finished.
Everyone clapped. Quite a few of them tossed coins onstage. A lot remarked on Pinocchio's skill for someone so young.
Sora remained a marionette.
Riku's heart sunk more than he thought it would. He wanted a word with the Blue Fairy. To ask just what she thought was brave.
To ask why she had granted him he opposite of his wish.
At least Sora did not seem disappointed. Quite the opposite. That evening, after a successful afternoon of performances, he all but had wings. The three woodworkers wound up the toys and boxes again, laughing and -
Dancing. Of course Sora caught Riku's hands. Riku spun him under an arm, feeling just as dazzled as the first time. Just as fascinated by their joined hands, Sora's grin, as he ever had.
Maybe that was why he kissed Sora's knuckles when the cacophony of sounds stopped, and they were left fighting for breath.
Sora looked stunned. The candlelight created sparks in his eyes. It was that look which stuck in Riku's mind as he rode Lampwick home.
And maybe it showed on his face, because when he stepped inside, Godmother looked up from her daring and raised her eyebrows.
"You're in an awfully good mood."
Riku's cheeks felt hot. He tried to give a nonchalant smile and shrug. "The show went well."
"Mm." She looked to the clock, raising her eyebrows, though not in a stern way. "What a late show."
"Well - I –” Riku put his bag by the door. Slipped out of his jacket and hung it on the hook. “I stayed for tea. They had a celebration.”
“I see.”
Godmother smiled, still with those raised eyebrows. It was as though she knew something that he didn’t.
“What?” he asked, heading to warm himself by the fire.
“You're very fond of Sora.”
“He’s my friend.” He sounded defensive.
And he knew why at the probe in Godmother’s voice when she asked, “is that all?”
He thought of Sora staring at him. The two of them standing inches away from each other. The eager way Pinocchio explained how much Sora had missed Riku.
“I care about him, if that's what you mean.” It was as much to himself as it was to Godmother.
She hummed in agreement, and left it a moment. He glanced across to see her continue her darning.
“My dear,” she said, still working. “You know in Spring, animals become twitterpatered? Birds and squirrels and the like? You've watched it happen many times.”
Squirrels chasing each other through the woods and pigeons scuffling in trees. Riku had been convinced that he was saving two butterflies once, since they weren’t flying, and had been embarrassingly mistaken.
“Yes,” he said, stomach turning as he realised where she was going.
“So, you can’t recognise that now?”
She had a sweet smile, but –
“I'm not - that's not –” No. He could only stammer. Only think of Sora’s face close to his. “You've got it wrong.”
“I'm sure I have.” But Godmother did not sound as though she believed him.
“Yes.” Again, it seemed more to himself. “I'm not – it’s not like that.”
“Alright.” But still with raised eyebrows. That glimmer in her eye that suggested otherwise.
“He’s a friend,” Riku managed.
“Yes.”
It couldn’t work – he couldn’t even think of it. Not when he might be leaving and Sora wasn’t – real. He felt awful thinking it, but today had reminded him of that. Sora was a marionette.
And neither of them were squirrels or pigeons.
*
"My assistant, Riku, will deal with this one."
Riku stared at Merlin, heart thudding. No, he wanted to say. No, he could not. This girl was very sick, and he was not good enough with magic for this.
But Merlin put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a firm nod. He looked back at the girl, her blonde hair spread out in a halo around her, face flushed from fever.
He had to.
He knew how. Had been studying for this. So, he concentrated, closed his eyes, and thought about the spell. Was careful of his words, his hands – was trembling. But he could do it.
There were gasps from the girls’ parents. He knew there would be a soft, pale green light of healing coming from his hands. That would distract him.
Riku only opened his eyes once he knew, without a doubt, he was done.
The girl was asleep. But her breathing was no longer laboured, and her cheeks were pink instead of crimson. Even as they stood there, the colour faded to peach.
One of her parents put their hand on her forehead. “Her fever’s gone.”
Riku’s heart pounded. He felt as though he was the one burning up, instead.
“Yes.” Merlin peered at her from over his spectacles. “A tip-top job, I would say.”
Riku was hugged. His hands shaken. Thanked over and over for helping her. They didn’t have much money, but would this do?
He couldn’t reply from the shock. Merlin curled the few coins back into their palms, telling them to keep hold of them.
They were back on the street, heading home, and Riku didn’t really know how he had gotten there.
“I did it,” he murmured.
“You did,” Merlin replied. “Now – the trick is – to do it again.”
Riku did. Handled their whole set of house calls. Because he could do it. And it helped. He got children to stop crying, and smile instead. Saw pain disappear and waited for it to feel right. Like this was what he was meant to do.
It didn’t. But he did think that he could keep doing this. That he would be happy. Maybe with less hugging and general fanfare. Maybe if he did not have to give up his family.
He rode Lampwick into town on the way home, on the off-chance Sora and Pinocchio were still there. Godmother was busy tonight, and Geppetto’s cooking was more of an appealing idea than his own. Especially, he thought, if Sora was there too.
The stage was still up, but then, sometimes the show went on late, and it was easier to leave it there. They wanted to perform so often, it was almost always there. There was a small shape by it – Pinocchio. But usually he dangled his legs, and today, they were still. Usually another shape sat on stage next to him.
Riku’s heart fell.
He ran forwards – no – no.
Pinocchio looked up at the sound. His hair hung in his eyes, and his skin was white.
“Where’s Sora?” Riku asked.
First, Pinocchio hopped off the stage, closing the gap between them, throwing his arms around Riku’s waist.
Then he started sobbing. “There was a man – after the show – he wanted to see Sora – close up – I said no – I tried to stop him – but he was stronger than me – and – oh, Riku!”
Riku could barely breathe, but his heart was hammering as though he ran a mile. He patted Pinocchio’s shoulders, as they wracked with cries. Pried him away as gently as he could, so that he could kneel to his level.
“It’s alright – it’s not your fault.” It was Riku’s. If he’d been here, he would have been able to stop it. “Can you tell me anything about the man?”
"He - he had a cape on, but he wore an eyepatch."
Riku knew the man in question. He’d always regarded him with a suspicious eye, always asked pointed questions about the cottage and what they did there. Had a pendant round his neck that proclaimed to all he was a fan of the mysterious. Lately, hse'd lurked at the back of most shows, and he felt a fool for not confronting him. Making sure that he stayed away.
"You'll be able to get Sora back, right Riku?"
"Yes." He hoped it wasn't a lie. Now he was afraid, his heart racing as he thought of the man's plans with his friend.
No, Sora was more than that.
He sent Pinocchio home - told him not to dally or talk to anyone. Then turned on his heel, and started through town. There was no time to lose. He remembered taking deliveries around in winter, when it was cold, and some of their regulars were sick. That man - Xigbar, Riku thought - had watched them from his window. In a way that sent chills up his spine, and made him press more closely to Godmother.
Of course he remembered the house. Remembered the wrought iron gate and crooked chimney. Dark against the setting sky.
Riku took a breath. And stepped up to the house. There was no porch light lit, which made it all the darker.
He knocked. What else could he do?
There was the sound of scuffling and a muttered curse. His stomach clenched.
The door opened a crack. The inside seemed dim too, the man's face in shadow. He was not old, but there had always been something haggard and weary about him that made him seem so.
"Ah." Xigbar shouldn't have been smiling. It wasn’t a pleasant smile either. "You're that boy. From the cottage."
"You have something that belongs to a friend of mine.” He sounded more confident than he felt.
One thin eyebrow raised. "Friend?"
"Pinocchio." When Riku didn't recieve a reply, he found himself resorting to, "The boy with the puppet."
That smile widened. His eye looked amber in the evening light, and it glinted like a cat. A cat toying with a mouse.
"I thought you’d come for him, sooner or later," Xigbar said, and Riku's stomach turned over. He did open the door another crack, to reveal a narrow hallway. "I was just taking a look, poppet. There's no need to look so angry."
So Sora was in there. The thought of him - alone, and unable to move in case he gave himself away, spurred Riku to step inside.
"He wasn’t yours to borrow," he said, stopping in front of the man.
The eyebrow inched higher, and the smile inched wider. "Is it yours?"
"He's Pinocchio’s father's."
"Hm." Xigbar stepped down the hallway, pushing the first door open, with his back to it. "Interesting that you call it, him."
Riku hadn't even noticed. He would have been angry at himself for giving that hint away, but he barely heard the man's voice. Because there was a high-backed wooden chair in that room and he recognised the figure sat on it, head lolling to one side. Sora. He’d stayed limp, and that must have been hard.
Again, he moved forward without thinking, managing to say, "I've come to return him."
Xigbar's hand found his chest. Halted him in his tracks, with just the slightest push. Enough to show Riku how strong he was.
"The thing is, I'm not quite done with it." He was watching Riku closely, for the wince he had when Sora was called an 'it.'
Riku stared at him. His chest was hot - as though there was smoke inside him, and yet he could not move. Could not find the words to get by.
At least Xigbar did step aside. The room was full of other trinkets, sat on the mantle, and a large wooden chest in one corner. The curtains were drawn to a slit, but the fireplace was lit. The amber light danced over Sora's skin.
Not skin. Wood.
His heart lurched as he realised just how flammable Sora really was. He wasn't sat like he'd been displayed in the shop, upright, slightly smiling. He was slumped, limbs dangling, face hidden. Like something broken.
"You see," Xigbar continued, crossing to where Sora was sat, just to the side of the fire. "These strings aren't tied to the joints. Not in the right place that would make it dance like it did onstage."
He took one of the strings, trailing on the floor much too close to the grate, and jerked it. Sora's arm flew up with it.
Riku tasted blood. It made him realise that he'd been biting his cheek.
"On that note, there really aren't enough strings to make all of the movements it did." Xigbar played with another, so that Sora's leg was jerked forward too. It made him lean back, revealing his face. Not smiling - not in the way he used to.
Blue eyes glanced at him. Just briefly.
It was enough for Riku to find his tongue again, "stop that!"
Xigbar almost chuckled. He dropped the strings, though, and Sora's arm and leg fell back into place. He slumped sideways - doing a perfect job of appearing like a thing - and Xigbar caught his shoulder, to steady him.
"We both know this is not an ordinary puppet, don't we, poppet?"
Riku's heart raced. "I don’t know what you mean.”
He. Again. And that made the smirk widen into a grin.
"They call you the fairy boy in town. You must know. That everyone suspects you and that woman have some kind of magic." Xigbar looked over him. Riku's cheeks flamed. "It stands to reason that when two more peculiar people move in, and you become close to them, that they must have some link to magic too. This - is my proof." He shook Sora slightly, and it made his head nod.
"What are you going to do?" Riku's throat was dry.
A shrug. "I suspect set up a show of my own. Or perhaps I'll keep it a secret - wouldn't that be something - to have my own living puppet to watch whenever I like?"
"I won't let you." Riku shook his head. No - there was no way he could let that happen. Sora shouldn't be kept by anyone. He should be free to see the world - find what he wanted to do.
"Oh?” Xigbar laughed. Waited just a moment. “Won’t you?”
He had to do this. Riku forced himself to step forward.
Xigbar's fingers found the string on Sora's shoulder, and dangled it close to the fire. He'd only have to lower it in enough for it to catch. Riku could already see the flames spread, like the string of a stick of dynamite, before they reached Sora.
"Don't."
"I don't particularly want to." And yet, Xigbar sounded uncaring. "But perhaps that is the only way of seeing my new toy work."
Sora's shoe twitched. Of course, he could still see and hear. Knew danger was coming.
Riku shook his head again, but felt just as helpless.
"And maybe -" It truly was a cruel grin and a predatory glint in that one amber eye. "It will be more fun."
Riku stepped forward once more - at the exact moment the string slipped through Xigbar's fingers. It fell towards the crackling flames.
Within seconds, it was eaten. Orange and yellow crawled up the string greedily - getting closer and closer to -
Riku's hand shot out. And, without knowing he still remembered how, a flurry of frost came from the end of his fingers. 
The flame was halted in its tracks. What was left of the string hung, frayed and swinging.
For the first time since he’d seen Riku, Xigbar looked shocked. It was clear this had not been part of his plan.
Riku spoke without one, “I'll stay. In his place. I can - I'm a wizard." It was the first time he'd said that. Admitted what he was. "I'll do what you say - go with you - if you give the puppet back to Geppetto."
He did not let himself look at Sora. Only Xigbar's amber eye. He regarded Riku, interested now.
“Why don’t you show me that trick again?” Voice soft.
Bad things could happen if they revealed their magic. Bad things had happened in the past, Godmother had told him. That was why they always had to hide it. But bad things were happening now.
And his magic could stop it.
So he sent another flurry of snowflakes into the air, because Xigbar was still close enough to the fireplace to send an arm or leg into the flames.
He recognised the expression on Xigbar’s face. Greed. He decided to appeal to it – “I can do more than that. I can make flames, and thunder, and –”
“And you’ll do what I say?”
Riku nodded.
“No.”
It was not either of them. But it was a voice Riku knew well.
Sora had straightened on the chair, piercing blue eyes fixed on Riku. Not scared – angry. He said it again, “No, you can’t.”
Xigbar reeled back, skin turning white. “It’s – it really is alive.”
Riku shook his head at Sora, heart stuttering, ready to explain it was better if he went. He did not have a father and little brother who would miss him.
But Sora hopped off the chair, speaking to Xigbar before Riku could begin, “I am alive, and I’ll go with you, as long as you leave Riku and his Godmother be.”
The amber eye glanced between them, as though it could scarce believe its luck. Two instances of magic, offering themselves up.
“Sora.” Riku finally crossed the room, taking the puppet’s hand in his own.
“Please.” Sora looked up at him. If he could cry, Riku was sure there would have been tears in his eyes.
“Let me help you.”
They said it at the same time. And when they did, a sudden silver light burst from the middle of the room. It was blinding – Riku pulled Sora close to him, heard his shoes clack on the floor – Xigbar cried out in shock.
When it dimmed, they found a woman standing in front of the fireplace. She was ethereal – her hair golden, skin porcelain, and eyes bluer than even Sora’s. Riku would have guessed what she was just from that – he didn’t need the shimmering wings on her back.
Sora squeezed Riku’s hand. “The Blue Fairy!”
The one who’d brought Sora to life. Even when Riku had wished for –
“Fairy?” It was with a mixture of fear and greed that Xigbar looked at the woman.
She turned to him, with a kind smile. Her voice sweet, even as she said, “now I think you’ve caused these two dear boys enough trouble.”
The Blue Fairy’s wand tapped the air, sending sapphire sparks showering over the man. Once they landed on him, even as he tried to back away, Xigbar crumbled to the floor, like a folding chair.
Sora twitched in Riku’s arms. His heart was racing on the tip of his tongue.
She gave a merry laugh at the look on their faces. “He is only sleeping. And when he awakes, boys who have magic,” She looked at Riku, and he blushed. “And puppets who talk,” she turned the gaze to Sora, who grinned at her. “Will just be a strange dream. One he won’t be interested in pursuing.”
“Thank you, Blue Fairy,” Sora said.
Riku’s throat was dry, but he nodded to show he was grateful.
“Oh, but that’s not why I came here, Sora,” the Blue Fairy said. “I came here because someone has been truthful, unselfish and brave. And you know what that means, don’t you?”
Sora’s eyes shone. “That means – I can be a real boy?”
Riku froze. Just the possibility left him unable to say anything.
The Blue Fairy nodded, cheeks rosy, and gave another laugh at Sora’s excitement. “Now, hold still.”
She tapped her wand again – on the end of Sora’s nose – and the light returned. Bright and blue around the puppet, so that Riku had to close his eyes. Even then, his lids were lit with white.
He could feel Sora’s hand still – felt the wood soften, and grow warm.
“I’m a real boy!” Sora gasped. “Riku – I’m a real boy!”
He looked. And yes, there was a boy in front of him. His age. Sora. But different. A good different – because he had eyelashes, dimples, and freckles over sun kissed skin. Because he was even more breath taking now.
Not that his look was long. Sora enveloped him in a tight hug, almost knocking him off his feet. He still smelt of wood – the same wood and wax smell as Pinocchio. That was comforting. A way of letting Riku knew that it really was still Sora.
The Blue Fairy was looking at him, and he met her gaze over the puppet – the real boy’s – shoulder.
“My wish –” He tried to say.
“I did not give you what you wished for, Riku,” she explained. “I gave you what you needed.”
What he needed? His heart stuttered, and his mind whirred. Still whirred when the Blue Fairy’s image disappeared, and he took Sora’s hand once more. To lead him home.
*
“Father?” Sora asked, in the doorway. He put a finger to his lips to hush Pinocchio, who’d leapt up at the sight of them. Now, he covered his mouth with his hands, muffling giggles. “Why are you crying?”
“Because, you’ve been kidnapped, Sora.” Geppetto lifted his head from his hands to say it.
Sora raised his eyebrows – he had eyebrows – at Riku, and Pinocchio at his side, hiding smiles. They both failed to contain their chuckles.
Geppetto looked up then, looked again, and finally gave a shout of delight.  He ran over, taking Sora’s shoulders, and bringing him into the light, just as he said, “and look – I’m real!”
Pinocchio’s hand tightened on Riku’s so much that it hurt, but he could understand the excitement. He felt it himself, as Geppetto took Sora’s face in his hands, crying with delight, “my boy – my boy! Both my boys are real!”
Of course it caused for a celebration. Of course, Riku leant against the doorframe, as the three rushed around the room to wind everything up. Thinking back to that first night – the first night Sora was alive. He’d been confused, and guilty then, because he had not wished for that. Now, he was fizzing with happiness too. And now he understood.
Geppetto danced with Sora first – until Pinocchio ran up and clamoured for the next one. Sora spun, still light on his feet as a real boy.
His hands landed in Riku’s. His eyes glittered, with a life of their own, not reflecting the candlelight.
He paused, breathless – he had breath – twisting his fingers into Riku’s. “Your hands are cold.”
“No,” Riku said. “You’re warm.”
He was warm – Sora grinned at him, cheeks bright pink of their own accord. Riku pulled him closer, away from Pinocchio and Geppetto.
“I have to tell you something,” he said.
Sora looked up at him, squeezing their fingers together. “What?”
“I –” His heart thudded in his fingertips. Brave – he’d been brave once before that day, so he could be brave again. “I care about you. Very much.”
Sora’s mouth was a perfect ‘oh,’ shape. But then he smiled, again, and pushed himself close to Riku. Eyelashes casting dark shadows over his cheeks.
"But I already knew that," he said.
He was smiling – teasing Riku – because that was what he had always been like, even as he tried to stammer out, "You know that I mean -"
It was such a quick movement. Sora bounced onto his tiptoes, pressing his lips against Riku's for a moment. "I do."
He blinked at him. Then took hold of Sora's waist, and pulled him close. Leant down and kissed him, properly. Like magic. This was like magic – sparks and flames and snow flurrying through him – coming from where his skin met Sora’s. From his hands on Riku’s shoulders.
There was another cry of delight from the room. Pinocchio. Hopping up and down and saying, “I knew it! I knew you loved each other!”
Riku blushed, about to say that love was a very strong word, and he wasn’t sure that – but then Sora laughed. Carefree. And he realised he loved that sound.
Maybe it wasn’t such a strong word, after all.
*
Of course Geppetto gave him The Talk. And it was hard to look sincere and honest, when Sora was pulling faces behind him, and Pinocchio was giggling in the corner. It was easier with Godmother. She hugged him and told him that she was happy for him – so happy. She hugged Sora too, and marvelled over him, now that he was real. He basked in the attention.
They decided to move. Just Sora and Riku. To find what it was they really wanted to do, together. Godmother gifted them her travelling book, so that they could get to Camelot and home easily, because Riku was going to continue his training with Merlin, and Sora still wanted to see his little brother and father. Because Godmother had assured Riku that she could manage with the cottage and gardens, and if she couldn’t, she said with a wink, she would find help.
So they took Lampwick and the carriage, and travelled along the winding road through the hills. The wildflowers had turned to crimson and violets now, as Autumn crept up on them. Their things were loaded in the back, and Sora’s head rested on Riku’s shoulder. His hair tickled his cheek – completely and utterly untameable now. (Yet, Riku wouldn’t have it any other way.) He still tapped his heels together, but they did not make the same hollow ‘thonk’ that they used to.
“I do miss that,” Sora said. “I was quite good at percussion.”
Riku made a noncommittal sound, remembering that there had never been a moment of quiet.
Sora chuckled. He nuzzled his head against Riku’s shoulder, “You found me annoying, didn’t you? Don’t lie, or your nose will grow.”
Riku found himself smiling.
“You were annoying,” he said. And spoke over Sora’s ‘a-ha!’ “Sometimes. Other times you could be – you are – kind and compassionate and – a good friend.”
Sora looked over him, as though it was a joke. When he saw that Riku was in earnest, unable to meet his eye, he kissed his cheek.
“Well, I thought you were much too serious,” Sora said. Leant back, swinging his legs.
Riku nudged him with his shoulder, but he couldn’t deny it.
“But – I’d also seen you smile,” Sora continued. “From the window. And it was a nice smile. I thought if I could get you to smile more, it would make you less serious.”
“And am I?”
“You had reason to be.”
There had been a lot on his shoulders. Secrets and responsibilities.  The carriage continued to trundle on, and Riku snaked an arm around Sora’s shoulders.
“You used to come to the shop a lot,” Sora continued. His voice was soft, like someone humming. “Before I came to life.”
“You know why that was.” Riku smiled into brown hair, only keeping one eye on the road.
“I forget.”
“Because –” Riku’s cheeks warmed. “You’re beautiful.”
Sora turned his head, to kiss the back of Riku’s hand. “So are you.”
A thrill of warmth went through Riku. He pressed his mouth to the top of Sora’s head, just for a moment. He couldn’t quite believe they were leaving – that he had found something he was good at, something he might be meant to do, and that he had someone like Sora at his side whilst he did.
“You didn’t wish me alive.” Sora still said it conversationally, but it almost made Riku swerve off the road and into the bracken.
When they’d first met, be probably would have lied.
“No,” he said, now. “But I’m glad I didn’t what I wished for.”
There was no one on the path – they hadn’t seen another carriage in the last hour – so he figured it was safe enough to kiss Sora. To linger, savouring the sigh Sora gave him. The cold of the air on his cheeks compared to the warmth of Sora’s mouth.
His wish truly had been awful. If it had come true, then he still would have been trapped. Trapped with guilt and secrets, and the crushing fear of the future.
Now that was not so scary. He had ideas, and he was excited about being able to help people. Sora had ideas, and would find even more now that he wasn’t a puppet. They would manage. It was the finding, and exploring, that was worth it.
And even if things went wrong, they could always go home. To where family waited.
If his wish had come true, then he would never have met Sora. Would never have fallen in love with him. And that was the worst part – because he wouldn’t even know what he was missing.
Riku had to admit, he was glad that things had changed so very much.  
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No One Lives Forever Not Even God
Peter Parker x bisexual!reader
Peter Parker x fem!reader
Peter Parker x black!reader
Peter Parker x villain!reader 
Warnings: Language, Insomnia, mentions of antidepressants, mentions of drugs, drug use, mentions of addiction, mentions of nazis, parental neglect, mentions of the dead, cemeteries, mentions of meltdowns,  corrupt government, mentions of cancer, low self esteem, self destructive behavior, medical testing, thoughts of murder, mentions of injury, and mentions of knives, 
Word Count: 6.1k
Songs: Mother- Pink Floyd, He Can Only Hold Her- Amy Whinehouse, A Pearl- Mitski, Me and My Husband- Mitski, Saint Bernard- Lincon, Why Didn't You Stop Me?- Mistki, Nuestro Planeta- Kali Uchis, You Know I'm No Good-Amy Whinehouse, and Love Is a Losing Game- Amy Whinehouse.
 "I’ve been in a very poetic mood lately. I think it’s funny how anything could be considered poetry and something you relate too. Like Twitter or any other social media and the ongoing gag of people feeling the need to announce the fact that they’re making moves in silence. But that’s what I’m doing, making moves in silence. If anyone is in my business now I’m politely asking you to remove yourself from it before I make you.”
A/N: I only did one proofread so sorry if there are typos and this is just more of an infodump to set up other chapters so enjoy ig. I almost gonna start another series a social media AU let me know if you'd want to be tagged in either of these series.
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Nightmares come while I’m asleep but, when I’m awake the nightmares of the day just come for me then, so really I’m just stuck. I would like to say the antidepressants are working, it's just the insomnia that comes with them isn't working for me. I’m honestly starting to think mood stabilizers would do me better.
Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?
I’m not sure I could blame this all on the pills though. I’d have to give some of the credit to the massive bombshell that a certain ex Avenger had dropped on me. 
It's almost like every five seconds a new giant secret about my mom is unveiled to me. Like sure I saw from the video that she’d left me that she had associations with some bad people like Kingpin but nazis? 
SHIELD had apparently collapsed because it was infiltrated by Hydra but it was prevalent while my mom was still alive. Seems like she had worked for or with everyone who was anyone. I’m just gonna give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she didn’t know because up until two weeks ago I didn’t either. 
Her and Natasha had been recruited at the same time and worked together but for someone who claims to have been so close to her you’d think she’d know that she was dead. “She went off the grid and that was the last I heard from her,” is all she gave me with a smile that even I could tell was fake and I’d just met the woman. 
You know when grown folks come up to you and expect you to remember them because they met you once while you were like in the womb that’s kinda my relationship with Natasha. She knows so much about me and I know absolutely nothing about her save for the fact she's a spy meaning she’d be a great liar. 
She used to babysit me sometimes if I could trust what she says that is. Apparently I called her “Auntie Nat”. For some reason no one ever thought it was a good idea to inform me that I had a godmother. Maybe they did and I just forgot. 
I thought they were supposed to take care of you when something happened to your parents. And the one who’s alive is about as useless as the other. It might be fun to have another person that was considered family. Just maybe not a spy at least I’d know she’d walk out of my life so I won’t get attached. 
Mother, do you think they'll like the song?
“Hey mom,” I sighed sitting down in the light dusting in front of her tombstone. “I know it’s been a while and I’ve got a lot to catch you up on,” 
It took a bit of digging before I found what I was looking for in my bag. I ran my fingers along the cold surface of the small jewelry box. There was puffy white glue holding the larger pieces together. 
I placed the box in the grass sitting next to the tombstone. I removed a purple coiled bracelet and sat it next to the box. 
I tucked my legs under my body admiring the piece of jewelry. 
“I brought you a bracelet,” I spoke. “It’s kinda like a friendship bracelet cause I have the other. I don’t know if I should leave it here in case someone steals it,” I laughed. “You’d have to be a real shitty person to steal from a cemetery though,”
I curse so often I didn’t realize I did it until I had already done it. 
“Ah sorry! Excuse my French,” I chuckled.
“I met Natasha Romanoff and she said she knew you. She said she knew me too. I don’t remember her though…” I trailed off. 
For someone who claimed to have a lot to say I sure was at a loss for words. I just didn’t know how to get any of them out. 
“Oh! You’re not gonna believe me if I tell you but I got to meet some of the Avengers. Most of them were new though. You’d know some of them. Like Captain America I wanted his help but he couldn’t provide it,” 
I had a bit of an episode when I was told no one knew where Thor was. I think it was justified though.
 How the fuck do you lose two Avengers let alone the ones that can’t possibly be hidden. One is green and huge and the other leaves lightning bolts everywhere they go.  
Mother, do you think they'll try to break my balls?
“The other is Natasha but I don’t think I really knew that yet. She went by Black Widow. I’m sure you knew that though. You probably know a lot,” 
I wonder how many secrets she never told me about. I mean I could only imagine all the secrets working for the government would let you in on. Like she probably knew about big stuff like the Tesseract and aliens maybe she could’ve known about that. 
“Okay I have a question. I have a lot actually but I think if you answer them I’m gonna get up and run out of here,” I joked. 
“Number one is my middle name Natalia because of your SHIELD buddy? Like it might just be a coincidence but it could also be a godmother typa situation or something,”
It was a running theory. She would’ve known my mom before I was born. And if what I was told is true they’d be pretty close too and Natasha translates back to Natalia and I know she’s Russian. It makes sense. 
Ooh
Mother, should I build the wall? 
“Uh… there’s this boy,” 
When was there not? It seems like there was always someone in my life. Carmen in therapist mode said it’s because I put my self worth into my relationship status.
 “He’s really nice. Like really really nice. Nicer than anybody I’ve ever been associated with. It’s just he’s like…” I didn't know how to put the next part into words. “He’s just too nice. Too nice for me at least. Like he’s such a good person and I’m just me,” 
“And it’s I feel bad,” I sighed. I was getting myself too worked up over this. “Like I keep playing like a game of tug a war with him where I let him in and kick him out again it’s tiring. I don’t even do it on purpose. I feel like we could be something maybe. But I can’t let that happen. I won’t let that happen. It’s a self defense mechanism. At least I think.” 
I do it with everyone. I shut them out before they can get it. The less people you let into your life the less people that can walk out. 
It’s a bulletproof tactic. At least I used to think it was. Never realized people could get hurt including myself. 
“I saw dad,” I informed myself? I guess I’m not sure how healthy it is to have a conversation with someone you know can’t respond and isn't listening. “Like two days ago actually I didn’t say anything I freaked out and ran away. It made me think though,”
Mother, should I run for president?
Made me think about how I’d done so well on my own. Well I’m not gonna take all the credit, most of it was Carmen keeping my ass in line. I haven’t talked to her in a while. I haven’t talked to anyone in a while. 
”I found a small studio apartment in Queens. It was the cheapest one I could find. I’m just renting it like an Airbnb right now. I need to find a permanent place and a job,”
 I couldn’t find a permanent place at my age unless I had full autonomy which leads me to my next topic. 
“So I was thinking about getting emancipated which everything would’ve been a lot easier if you were here then we could just go to court for custody cause you’d win for sure.” 
Mother, should I trust the government?
“I know you never got to know how corrupt SHIELD was but do they like keep tabs on everyone who does anything to them or related to them? Because like I did a little snooping and I know they had files for all the Avengers and other people like Kingpin.” 
I knew I was going to have to do more than sit here and ask a dead person what to do but ranting to someone who couldn’t spill my secrets was a start.
 “I was just wondering how deep it went or if they had hidden stuff on me,” 
Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
It’s probably common knowledge that if you mess with the government they’ll mess back. I’d like to think they were like bees. You leave them alone they’ll leave you alone. Only stinging when provoked. 
But every branch of the government is like a wasp. They don’t die if they sting and they’ll sting you for no reason at all. They just like to see people in pain.
And I’m sure the energy research branch of SHIELD would probably be more than interested in a walking fire bomb that can move things without touching them. 
I mean I’m not going to stop poking things around until I figure out what’s wrong with me. So might as well not complain. 
“So I don’t have many things figured out right now and the whole you and SHIELD thing only confused me more so if you could just like come tell me what to do just this once that’d be great,” I laughed.
 At first I was contemplating if this was weird or not but hearing me say that I now know this is pathetic. It always has been.
Ooh
Is it just a waste of time?
But I didn’t know if I should keep searching. Maybe I should just pretend like I’d never gotten introduced to the world of powers or mutations at all. For all I know Peter, Carmen, Felicia, Wade and I are just normal people who do normal people stuff. 
Sure I wanted answers but I didn’t want to end up like those people who spend their whole life searching for an answer they won’t find any and end up never living at all. 
Like a quote my mom used to say all the time “The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all,” 
She really just used it so she didn’t have to listen to being put on bed rest but it obviously had a deeper meaning and she knew that. 
I keep finding myself stuck on that phrase. That and the whole when the dust settles poem. 
I’ve been in a very poetic mood lately. I think it’s funny how anything could be considered poetry and something you relate too.
 Like Twitter or any other social media and the ongoing gag of people feeling the need to announce the fact that they’re making moves in silence. 
But that’s what I’m doing, making moves in silence. If anyone is in my business now I’m politely asking you to remove yourself from it before I make you. 
“Uh I don’t know if I should even tell you this cause you died before it was even a problem in the first place but…” I blew out a breath digging my feet deeper into the ground.
 “I’ve been clean for like two weeks now. Which is actually a thing I’m pretty proud of right now.” 
I’d stopped using everything except weed, nicotine because those weren’t drugs and even then I used it way less than before. Oh, and my antidepressants too but that’s obviously okay they’re prescribed. 
I hated the word clean made me seem like an addict which I wasn’t. I’m many things but I wasn’t an addict. I just didn’t know of any other words to use. 
I wasn’t an addict but I’d say the lines between recreational use and dependency were blurring just a bit. I had gotten it straight though. I’m good now. The antidepressants are helping. 
Hush now baby, baby, don't you cry
“You have a superpower of just making people feel better immediately. I don’t know if it was the fact you were my mom or what but if you even just put a bandaid on a stab wound it’d probably stop hurting and disappear,” 
I wasn’t even exaggerating there was this one time I got hurt at the zoo and she just kissed it and I forgot about the fact that I even fell. 
I’m not sure how true that is though because I couldn’t actually recall the memory I was just told about it by my mom a few years after it happened. So I guess I remember not remembering then being reminded. Weird. 
“I wanna see the giraffes!” Aaliyah cried, stomping her feet down on the concrete.
This was one of the only times mom didn’t have to work on the weekends and Liyah had to have her way like always. 
“Mom!” I screamed “Tell her you said we could see the lions first,” 
She just sighed. “Well since she’s the youngest do you think you could be nice and let her go first please?” 
“Fine,” I huffed. I wasn’t doing it for Liyah, I was doing it for mom. Even a blind person could see how tired she’d been lately. 
Liyah laughed at me sticking her tongue out. She’s such a brat.
“You’re so dumb.” I rolled my eyes at her.
“I know you are but what am I ?” She teased hitting my shoulder before running away.  
I took off after her. She may have been fast but I knew I could catch up to her. 
I almost had her when my foot got caught on something. It launched me towards the ground and I put my hands down to catch myself but I still hit my knee.
I slid on the concrete scuffing my leg. I didn’t scream because that would make me weak and it didn't hurt that bad. I just bit my lip and stood up. 
I didn’t want to limp but it hurt too much to put pressure on my leg. 
Liyah had beat me back to mom and when I reached them she was already apologizing. 
Fake.
 She was just scared to get in trouble. I wasn’t gonna snitch on her anyways. 
“Let me see it,” Mom asked, grabbing my arm, pulling me to sit down on a stonehenge. 
She reached into her purse and pulled out a first aid kit. She always had everything in her purse. It was kinda like a super power. The black Marry Poppins. 
She wiped the scrape with an alcohol wipe and I just barely hissed. It didn’t even really hurt anymore. 
She placed a bandaid on it, smoothing her hands on top of it before placing a kiss there. 
“There,” She wiped her hands on her thighs before standing up “All better?” 
I nodded my head and we went off to see the giraffes because I’m nice like that.
“In case you were wondering, Aaliyah still always gets her way even now. I’d say she’s got me beat on the manipulation game honestly,” 
It’s fine though I taught her everything she knows not everything I know. I could still get one over on her if needed. 
Mama's gonna make all of your nightmares come true
“I found your pendant, the SHIELD one. Which I guess makes all of this real no matter how much I want it to be fake. I just want this to be a poorly written book where I wake up and the past five years were all a dream,” 
God knows how much I meant that. Well maybe I didn’t mean it too much because some people I’ve met in the past five years are people I don’t think I could survive very long without. Even though I kinda exploded on everyone so maybe I’m gonna have to test my theory on how long I can really survive. 
“Hey Doc,” I greeted pushing up the door of the restaurant. 
“Hey sweetheart, how ya been?” He queried.
“I’ve been better,” 
“I hear ya,” He nodded. 
Once we were in the back of the restaurant aka his office. I pulled out the diamond. Doc knew everything about everyone and anything. He could also make a duplicate of anything you gave him. 
“Whatcha got for me?” He asked, rubbing his hands together. 
“This, I’m not sure what it is,” 
I placed the bird pendant on the desk. I found it in a shoe box filled with my mom's stuff. 
“I was wondering if you knew,” 
He lifted it up to his eye to get a better view, His eyesight so bad that his glasses were practically a magnifying glass. 
“It’s a crest, I don’t think I’ve seen this before it’s most likely from a government branch,” He placed it back down on his messy desk. “I can do some more extensive research for you if you’d like,” 
“Yes, that’d be great,” 
“Stop by again tomorrow and I’ll fill you
I wish I never went back to Doc’s place or found out about flash drive, Vulture, SHIELD, any of it. Just when I thought my life couldn’t get anymore fucked up the devil came out the woodworks and spit in my face. 
Mama's gonna put all of her fears into you
“I remember all that testing they did after I agreed to do whatever Stark needed me to do sooo badly. I still don’t really know what he did- or he’s doing with all that DNA and other stuff he’d gotten from me,” 
Aren’t the Avengers and by default Tony Stark products of SHIELD so wouldn't that mean whoever’s behind all of that could’ve been the one to tell Tony about the fire thing in the first place. 
That had been the main thing about the whole Stark situation that I still couldn’t figure out. Someone needs to tell me how he found out and they better tell me now. 
“There are multiple lacerations 1-2 inches lining the upper and lower abdomen,” The doctor lady announced to her assistant. Before moving her cold hand away from my side pushing my shirt back down. 
Okay that’s chill nothing I haven’t had before. 
“We’re gonna have to do another X-ray is that okay?” Her assistant asked. I wasn’t going to bother to learn their names. I was planning to stay that long anyways. 
What’s the point? They’re just going to come back and say the machine is broken and then do another blood test. 
“Yeah sure,” 
I was led into a much bigger room than the last. There was much more machinery too. 
I was strapped down to a cold blue cushioned table by leather straps. Straps weren’t really necessary, not like I was planning on lashing out and mauling anyone. 
I closed my eyes when the flashes of the machine went off. Apparently I had fractured three of my ribs and bruised my sternum. 
You’d think they’d let me go now but noooo they need more blood and then when they were done drawing blood. 
They had to hook me up to a machine to monitor- I don’t even fucking know what they were monitoring. 
I just know I had all the pads with wires on my temples and chest and everywhere else. It reminded me of that one time I had to do a sleep study. 
Except they didn’t have holographs to read off and fancy probably government funded tech then. They sure as hell didn’t have all this whispering either. Or maybe they did and I was just unconscious.
Still I didn’t even want to actually be here and I was cold for once. 
“How much long do we have here?” I groaned.
“Not much longer. We just have and MRI left,” 
Yeah right. I was gonna be in here for the rest of my life
“I could probably go back there if I wanted answers,” I spoke quietly. 
“But I don’t want the government in my business like that well at least just not more than they probably are already at least and the tests are so invasive,” 
Mama's gonna keep you right here under her wing
That’s not the only invasive thing in my life. Or should I say was in my life? I don’t fucking care really.
 My dad was somehow the strictest and the most lenient person ever. I think he just wanted control.
 I used to blame his alcoholism for everything he did but no really he’s just a shitty person. A shitty person who likes to beat on women and take doors off the hinges. 
“You are so pathetic!” My mom screamed at my dad. 
 They had been at this all night. For so long that I’m seriously contemplating jumping out of this small window right now. 
Sapphire had no qualms sleeping on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor. Aaliyah and I however were still wide awake. 
I’m not sure exactly what was going on in her head but I’m assuming we're still up for the same reason. To kill our dad if he even touches our mom. 
I had a kitchen knife in hand as I sat on the bathroom sink. I always had a knife every time my dad started yelling a little too aggressively just in case but this time felt different. Like I was really prepared to stab him this time. 
I didn’t know what it was but something felt off. 
“Are they done?” Aaliyah asked, rubbing her eyes. The apartment had fallen silent. 
“I don’t know. Stay here,” I hopped down off the sink. 
I should’ve known she wasn’t gonna listen to me. The kitchen was empty which means they must’ve moved to their room.  
The next moment was the sort straight out of a family sitcom except the family was falling apart and the kids were going crazy but otherwise it could’ve very well been an “oopsie” misunderstanding moment. Where the younger child asks “Are mommy and daddy getting a divorce?” 
Then the oldest child pulls them into their body and whispers “I dunno kiddo,” or “No they’re just going through a rough patch,” anything like that.
 Except it wasn’t that. That wasn’t what she said and that wasn’t what Aaliyah asked me. 
God how I wish that was what she asked me. 
I have a bad habit of acting before I think. I opened the door opening my mouth to let out the words in my brain. 
“You’re dying? How are you dying?” 
They both turned to look at me like they were just noticing they weren’t alone. 
My mom sighed moving closer to me grabbing my arm. 
“I’m- Im not no ones dying,” 
The door creaked as Aaliyah pushed her way into the room. 
“But you said ‘I need you to step up you need to know how to handle it when I’m dead’,” She paraphrased cleaning out the cuss words. 
“It didn’t mean literally dying right now,” 
Now I could see how this could be us just jumping to conclusions from like two sentences but she had been weird lately. Like she’s always traveled a lot and been secretive but lately she’s been extra secretive. 
And I could tell the secret wasn’t to protect herself so whos to say it wasn’t the fact she was currently dying. It actually makes perfect sense. 
I’m starting to wish I wasn’t always right. Stage 4 Lymphoma. Basically we should go coffin shopping pretty soon. 
If only she wasn’t so selfish and would get treatment for it. She couldn’t leave me here by myself. Who’s gonna take care of us if she dies.
 I’d thought about it before and I decided I’d take on the role of caregiver for my sisters but then it was only a what if situation. 
Wade has cancer and he’s not dead but that’s only because he got pumped with like super drugs shit. 
Now I just needed to find some super drugs and figure out how to get her to take them. 
Fuck Cancer and fuck my dad. Why couldn’t he have gotten the diagnosis instead of my mom. A life for a life type beat. 
I guess that wouldn’t have made for a good tragic backstory would it. And what fun is life without a tragic backstory.
 My only question is when does the backstory end and when does the actual plot begin because clearly I’m not there yet. It’s only tragedy after tragedy.
 Maybe that is my story, just pain and suffering. Someone has to be the butt of the joke. 
She won't let you fly but she might let you sing
“You always told me to surround myself with people who you could block out the rest of the world with. Peter’s like that so was Olivia she was one of those people for me. When we weren’t yelling at each other or crying, I mean. Still wish you could’ve met her though,” 
“AH YES!” I exclaimed, pumping my fist. “I found it,” I waved the joint in the air. 
“Alright come sit down then,” Olivia laughed, patting the seat on the couch next to her. 
“Shit,” I muttered. “Where’s the lighter?” 
She just laughed at me again. Before reaching into my pocket and slipping it out. I couldn’t help but smile at how intimate that action felt for no reason at all. 
I quickly and lightly pressed my lips to hers muttering a quick “thank you,” 
About three minutes had passed and I could feel the weed taking course through my system. 
My head was in her lap until I abruptly shot up gasping at the beginning of Super Rich Kids by Frank Ocean. 
“Dance with me,” I pleaded it didn’t take much convincing because here we were twirling around. Although it was much more giggling than dancing. 
I bumped my leg on the glass coffee table and immediately apologized making Liv and I laugh so hard I almost peed my pants.
I was laid out on the soft white fur rug with Olivia laying her chin on my chest. I ran my hands through her hair. 
It was actually very easy there were no knots my fingers just glided smoothly through. 
“I mean shit,” I breathed “I know I can’t run from the rest of the world forever but until then? Bitch you can call me Flash cause I’m zoomin’.” 
She giggled at that before speaking up.
“You don’t have to run you can just stay here with me forever,” 
Her words were so genuine it made me want to cry. She basically just said “I love you” in more or less words. 
“You know what? I think I might,” 
She gave me a tired smile, turning her head to place a kiss on the top of my breast. 
I smiled back at her and how adorable she looked right now. I just want to kiss her for the rest of forever. 
When I glanced back down at her I could hear her breathing slow and her eyes had fluttered shut. She was asleep. 
I felt all warm and fuzzy and at peace and I couldn’t tell if it was the weed or if it was just being in Olivia’s presence. 
I wasn’t ready to say these words to her when she was conscious yet maybe I’d never be ready but I’d say them now. Just to get them off my chest. 
“I love you,” I whispered. 
I never really felt comfortable saying that to anyone. Probably a result of not hearing it enough as a child or something. My family’s never been affectionate anyway. That’s fine because I wasn’t my family, I was my own person. 
Stroking her hair gently before drifting off to the land of dreams myself.
So much for forever huh? 
It’s funny to think how I took times like that for granted if only I knew those were some of the only moments of normalcy I’d get for a while. I’d spent too much time thinking about what could’ve been with almost everything. 
So much so that I didn’t take much time to actually be. Now I feel like I’ve made it to the point of no return. Not mentally but like with everyone else around me. I think I pushed people too far away this time. Not so sure I could get them back. 
“Uh I can't really remember what I’ve already told you so I’ll run through it all. This vigilante or superhero Spiderman started doing his thing then I got caught up in his mess.” That was most definitely an oversimplification but what do I look like telling my mom I was a well known thief. “Then his relation to Tony Stark got extended to me so now I kinda do stuff for him but I don’t work for him.” 
I don't work for him he might think I do, but in reality he works for me. I had almost everyone at the compound wrapped around my finger. 
“I don’t think I really wanna work for anyone. I was offered to be an Avenger in training but that isn’t really my style. I will use his gym though.” I rambled on. 
It was kinda weird how easy it was to rant to my mom like this because not like she could voice her opinions about anything. I guess I hadn’t visited in so long that I forgot what it was like. 
Mama's gonna keep baby cosy and warm
“Oh!” I exclaimed remembering a very important factor that I left out. “Then we have the whole Staten Island fiasco that I told you about. I remember telling you that. I’m still searching for answers on how I did that too,” 
Like some real answers not that radiation BS.
“Your phone’s broken,” I pointed out the cracked screen sitting on the wood. 
“Oh shit!” Peter cried “May’s gonna kill me this is the second phone I’ve broken this month,” 
I came off way calmer than I was feeling. I’m surprised I wasn’t running around screaming right about now. I was probably just paralyzed in fear. 
How do you react in a situation like this in the first place. 
“Okay how long are we going to be sitting here? What are we waiting on?” We’d be up here looking down at the fire crackling underneath the pier for like 15 minutes now. 
“I don’t know actually,” He sighed. 
“Uh…” 
How was I supposed to respond to that? That was the driest response to anything in the history of the world.
 “Well since I’ve already pinky promised I won’t spill your secret can I ask some questions while we wait for you to figure it out?” 
“Sure, go ahead,” He nodded, shaking his arms. 
“Okay number one did you think I had died or something because if someone burst into flames in front of me I’d probably think Satan was coming for me. I’d cry too,” I laughed but had to stop myself as the stabbing in my ribs ran through me. 
“No, I didn’t think you were dead, you had a pulse,” He pointed out “Maybe I could’ve thought you were dying though. And I wasn’t crying,” 
Liar. He so was crying. 
“Aw you don’t have to lie I think it’s cute,” I teased if I didn’t feel like my body was falling apart I might’ve poked his side.
“Alright, second question: do the webs like come out of you? Cause that’s kinda disgusting,” 
“No, I make them with chemicals ‘n stuff. I’d explain the science to you but I’m not sure how much you’d care.” 
I let out a small laugh knowing what feeling would come if I laughed too hard. 
“I mean you could explain it ‘m just not sure how much of it I’d understand,” 
We both laughed at that. 
“On the topic of the webs what’s there integrity like how well do they hold up or like how long,” 
“Uh…” He blew out a breath running his hands over his face “As far as I know they last up to two hours. That is unless someone cuts them or something,” 
I couldn’t help but wonder if Thorn was one of those someone’s to cut the webs maybe I was the only someone. I didn’t really need to ask the question. Aaron had already answered the question for me when he told me about the deal at the ferry. I just wanted to see what Peter would tell me honestly. 
I spent the rest of the night asking questions and cracking jokes. I was talking for so long I didn’t realize how late it’s gotten. 
It should be a world record how fast I managed to fuck up 5 friendships. Well it’s my personal best at least. Only took like 4 minutes. 
I feel like that’s all I do is just fuck up everything. I used to believe there was a difference between being fucked up and being a fuckup but the older I get the more I realize that there isn’t. 
It’s like someone built a self destruct button in my head and every time something good happens to me I feel the need to run away. 
Like Peter he’s literally perfect he's smart, respectful,  adorable, and selfless. He’s literally a fucking superhero for godsake. 
I was trying so hard not to fall asleep. I really was but all the Trigonometry chapter was doing was mixing with the sound of rain outside and triggering the urge to fall into a deep sleep. 
“Okay,” Peter tapped his textbook with his pen. I wish I could be confident enough to do math with a pen. 
“So sin is equal to the opposite of whatever angle you’re trying to find so first you have too…” 
He droned on, I knew he was talking about the math problem lying on the bed in front of me but I wasn’t listening. Maybe if I sat at the desk I could actually be paying attention right now. 
“Y/N?” 
“Hmm?” I sat up on my elbows yawning.
“Are you tired?” 
I just hummed again. Until I realized what the question was. I reached for my phone and it was already 9:03 that woke me up for sure.
“Oh shit! I gotta get back,” 
Not like I’d get in trouble or anything but Carmen would get on my ass about the fact I didn’t come back when I said I would then she’d make something out of nothing. 
I scrambled around trying to find all my things to put them back in my bag.
“Wait it’s raining though,” Peter pointed out.
“Yeah,” I chuckled “It’s New York it’s always raining,” 
“Yeah but it’s cold and wet and dark so if you tried to skate you’d probably get hurt,” 
I knew what he was doing and it was working because frankly all his excuses were shit because one I don’t get cold and two I could just walk and there are lights everywhere but I was gonna stay anyway. I was too tired to argue right now. 
“May!” Peter shouted.
“Yes?” She called back. 
“Can Y/N stay for the night?” 
“Yeah if her parents are okay with it,” 
That’s how I ended up wearing some shirt with some dumb science pun sitting on the couch watching Aladdin for like the millionth time ever. I was singing along to One jump ahead  when I felt eyes on me. 
I turned my head but before I could make eye contact with Peter he acted as if he was watching the movie the whole time.
“What?” I giggled. Fuck, I hadn’t like genuinely giggled in the longest time.
“Nothing,” He replied, turning back towards the TV again. 
This time I was the one to stare at him wondering what was going on in his head. Not even the fourth song in and I was already yawning struggling to keep my head up.
 This goes to show how much willpower I had because I couldn’t even stop my eyelids from falling shut. I deserved to sleep though I’d been exhausted lately. 
There’s only like 6 people on this planet that I trust enough to fall asleep around and surprisingly Peter had become one with like 5 months of knowing me.
 I would still trust him if given the chance I’m just not sure how much he trusts me right now. I understand though. I don’t deserve anyone’s trust. 
Taglist: 
@tomdiddlyumptious​
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caramelcal · a month ago
Text
Fool for you
a/n: eye- y’all wanting a part 2? cause i have it planned lol x
it gets much more interesting i promise oml...the enemies arc really do be one of my faves tho
word count: 3.15k
warning: swearing
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She couldn’t believe how much shit that stupid kiss had landed her in. Her head was clouded, arms crossed over her chest as she stared down at her lap, trying not to grumble. Not only her own manager was sat in the room, but 5 seconds of summer’s too, along with their bassist, one of the people she hated most, Calum Hood.
“We have seen how everyone reacted to the speculation,” The woman in front of her started, legs pressed together with a large binder sitting on her lap, hands folded gently on top. Normally Y/N got on quite well with her manager, Caroline, but right now she wanted to scream due to the words coming out of the woman’s mouth, “You’ve been gaining popularity from it, Y/N. This could be a great way for you to gain more of a following.”
Y/N had dreamed of the day she started to trend on Twitter, but this was not what she wanted to be trending for. She wasn’t trending for her music, not even her newest single. No, she was trending because everyone thought she was Calum Hood’s girlfriend.
Speaking of the boy, he sat beside her, keeping quietly to himself. This had to have been the first time that he had ever been in her presence where he hadn’t been annoying the shit out of her. Must be because his manager is in here. He had already been approached about it and seemed sold on the idea.
An idea of them being in a fake relationship.
Her, with Calum Hood. She wanted to scoff at the thought. He was unbearable at best, constantly annoying her to the point where she wanted to rip her hair out. When she had first been asked to be the opening act for 5 Seconds of Summer’s tour she had been ecstatic. The boys were nice, welcoming her onto their tour with open arms. Honestly, Y/N got on with all of them, apart from Calum. From the moment he set eyes on her he seemed determined to do anything and everything in his power to piss her off, slowly waiting until she finally lost her cool and lashed out. It was frustrating, especially considering Y/N knew she couldn’t do much about it.
Now, not only did she have to put up with Calum normally, but they wanted her to get close with him. To be in a fake relationship, which, obviously, meant spending more time with him.
“So, of course, you guys will have to be seen out in public with one another every so often so we were thinking you guys get ‘caught’ kissing my paps again, then we’re thinking dropping hints,” Ink began to get scribbled across a piece of paper, writing out a messy and brief plan which Y/N didn’t even want to look at, “Possibly y/n being caught wearing Calum’s shirt...We aren’t entirely sure yet but we will make sure to keep you updated. Do either of you have any questions?”
Despite the question seeming like it was for both of them, it was directed at Y/N, and she knew that. PR stunts and fake dating amongst celebrities were never unheard of, but she never thought she would be getting into one herself, not now and definitely not with Calum, “I do, actually. What’s in it for him exactly?”
The question was asked towards the two managers, y/n honestly didn’t want to even look at Calum right now. He probably wanted to do this simply to annoy her because he knew that he was the bane of her existence, but y/n just hoped that he wouldn’t get even more annoying, despite knowing he definitely would take advantage of the situation.
“Publicity,” His manager stated simply, nodding his head slightly in her direction. Y/n didn’t know what else to say, and they all were enveloped in a very uncomfortable silence before Caroline let out a sigh, snapping her folder shut.
“Well if that’s all,” She stood up, making y/n’s eyes travel up to her as she began to walk away, “We will leave you two be.”
With that, the two managers left without another word, shutting the door behind them. Y/n and Calum sat in awkward silence for a few moments, y/n’s eyes set firmly in the door before she stood up, going towards the door before Calum caught onto her hand.
“Where are you going?”
“Away,” Y/n huffed, tugging her hand away from the boy’s grip as she glared down at his hand. He awkwardly pulled his hand back, putting his hands down in his lap, “Going to get my last few hours of peace before we have to start this PR stunt.”
“Aw y/n/n, not wanna spend time with me, huh?” Calum teased, making her roll her eyes. He was already annoying her and he had barely spoken three sentences to her; something he had a special gift for.
“No, not really,” He gave her a fake pout before a smirk rose to his lips, making her roll her eyes.
Calum was acting as if she would actually enjoy his company. The same Calum Hood that woke her up by pouring a bucket of water on her that morning. Freezing cold water. Dickhead.
“Why are you doing this? Like why are you actually doing this?” She asked suddenly, making Calum meet her gaze with those brown eyes of his.
He shrugged, averting his gaze for a moment before speaking, “Publicity. It might not get us any more listeners but it’ll get people talkin’.”
They fell into an uncomfortable silence before y/n nodded her head, “Fair enough. I’m gonna get going. Bye.”
And with that, y/n left the room.
  Both y/n and Calum were walking together, hand in hand after a lovely ‘date’ together. It, honestly, was nothing short of awkward. Honestly, they didn’t know what to talk about with one another when they weren’t fighting; something that they became painfully aware of on their trip out that evening.
Calum, despite normally being reserved and quiet in public, actually took the lead in the conversation. Mostly because y/n didn’t know what to say and they knew that they couldn’t sit in silence, especially if someone noticed them and noticed that they didn’t even talk to one another.
It was the first PR date that had been set up, only three days after their meeting discussing the start of their fake relationship. Y/n couldn’t lie, she was incredibly nervous and uncomfortable, her white dress doing nothing to protect her from the cold air nipping at her skin.
As instructed, she was holding onto Calum’s arm, one wrapped around and intertwined with his bicep and the other one clasping their hands together. It’s a strange and awkward movement to uphold, especially when walking but they do it nonetheless.
“Calum, stop going so fast, I can’t keep up properly,” Y/n muttered to him quietly, almost tripping over her own feet when she felt herself getting tugged yet again due to her hold on Calum.
His eyes briefly flicked back to her, “I can’t really help it, y/n. I’m already going as slow as I can.”
“Well sorry I don’t have legs like the BFG like you, I’m trying not to fall ‘cause you keep tugging at me. This dress was not a good move for this,” She grumbled quietly again and Calum doesn’t even reply. Instead, he started walking even faster, “Calum! Slow down!”
She was pulled into a lane by Calum by the time she had finished that sentence, his hands on either side of her arms holding her in place. His broad shoulders are obstructing her from being able to see out of the small alleyway but before she could ask why he did that, he’s shushing her quietly and whispering, “Saw the paps. They saw me, too. It’s time.”
God, he made it sound so dramatic. It wasn’t like they were fighting off any evil spirit or villain, all they had to do was get caught kissing by the paps. It didn’t seem like it was going to be a particularly difficult job, just one they had to execute properly, and right now everything was going pretty smoothly. They just had to make sure that it looked authentic and like they actually wanted to do it.  
He let out a breath he was holding as he looked down at her, asking her silently for permission to start as his fingers went around the back of her neck, thumb resting on her cheek. She nodded her head and he began to lean in, y/n standing on her tip-toes with her arms splayed over Calum’s shoulders woth him bending down and pressing his lips on hers.
They kissed for several moments, taking little breaks in between. No tongue was a rule they had decided on so instead they stuck to closed mouth. On the last peck shared between the two of them, Calum gently pulled away, y/n’s bottom lip trapped between his lips before her feet hit the ground, their lips now completely disconnected.
She, discretely, tried to peek around Calum to see the paps, but couldn’t, so instead, they stayed in that position for a little while longer. Her eyes glanced up at Calum, seeing him still staring down at her, she whispered, “What?”
“Nothing,” He dismissed, shaking his head hesitantly before he took a small step back before putting his hand out for y/n to grab onto. She shot him a smile as she laced their fingers together, tugging him along and out of the alley.
The games had begun.
  It’s only about a week later when y/n was doing her washing as normal in some hotel’s launderette. She had been off of social media for the past few days, paying no mind to the several thousand people talking about her and Calum's 'relationship’. It surely had blown up, and some might say more than they had expected it to. Y/n had accumulated thousands of more followers after the whole fiasco and although she wouldn’t admit it, she enjoyed seeing the fan theories.
Calum had actually been a lot nicer to her recently, something she hadn’t expected, but enjoyed very much. A smile is on her face as she thought about the lack of pranks that he had been playing on her, and sure, he was still irritating her but it was simply with his words. He walked her down to the launderette, before turning to get his own load of dark clothes.
Surprisingly, despite having rather heavy music, y/n owned quite a lot of white clothes. Sure, she mostly wore black, but right now she was washing her white clothes. Well, what were her white clothes...
Now? They’re pink.
She took the wet fabric out of the washer, noticing one of her favorite white dresses is now dyed an ugly pink, one that she knows she won’t pull off. Her eyebrows are furrowed, a frown settling on her face as she tried to pull the clothes out, trying to find the root cause of the problem.
That’s when she found it. A red sock; Calum’s red sock.
Suddenly everything seemed to make sense as to why he was being so nice to her; so he could pull another prank on her when she least expected it. That’s why he had waited behind once she left the launderette, that’s why he seemed so interested in her white, now pink, clothes that she apparently ‘hadn’t washed in a while and should definitely wash’. 
“Calum!” She screamed out in anger, glad for the lack of other people in the small room, clenching her fists around the wet, pink clothes in her hand. They’re all ruined, inconsistent blotches of different shades of pinks coating the fabrics.
It was only seconds later when Calum popped his head up in confusion, “Yeah?”
Except, Y/n didn’t reply, and instead trained her e/c eyes onto his brown ones with a firm glare, one filled with frustration and anger. He, however, hadn’t seen her glare just yet as he surveyed the room before he catches onto her crouched-down figure. She watched as they trailed down to the pink clothes in her hand and he struggles to fight a grin off of his face.
“Thought you were doin’ a white load, y/n/n?” His voice had snide amusement in it and it only made y/n even madder.
However, before she replied, she grabbed onto the red sock of his and threw it at his head, letting out a complaint that sounds more like a whine, “You’ve ruined my favorite dress, asshole!”
“Woah calm down sweetheart, don’t be rude to your boyfriend,” Calum teased, walking around to where y/n was sat, reaching down to ruffle her hair. She quickly swatted his hand away with a grumble.
“Fake. Fake boyfriend, Hood.”
Calum simply rolled his eyes in reply, waving her off, “Yeah, yeah whatever. Enjoy your pink clothes.”
     It was only a week later when management is rushing them to take nice pictures together and becoming Instagram official. Theories are still burning in the air, especially after they were ‘caught’ by paps, kissing, for a second time. Everyone knew something was going on, that much was obvious, but they wanted to hear it from them.
They snapped pictures off stage, the last one being of Calum’s arm over y/n’s shoulder, holding her close to his body with her lips placed on his cheek. Her eyes are closed upon instruction, and he has a bright smile on his face, looking straight at the camera. The photos they snapped were quickly looked over before they’re approved to post on Instagram.
Y/n doesn’t know what to say, and in fact, she’s finding it hard to breathe. It was only fifteen minutes before she had to go on stage for their next concert, and this was the most nervous she had felt in ages. What if she gets hate? What if the whole fandom hated her? She knew that most likely some fangirls would be jealous, that was perfectly understandable, she just hoped no one went far enough to send her tons of hate; especially considering it was fake.
Y/n didn’t like this situation any more than they did but there was nothing she could do about it. Watching over Calum’s shoulder, she saw him press post, and she felt like she couldn’t even breathe. She felt like the air was being restricted from her lungs, and she can’t even bring herself to opening her phone to see people freaking out over the announcement of their ‘relationship’.
“Well, that’s that.” Calum looked at her over his shoulder, letting out a soft sigh as his brown eyes wrack over her face. She’s pale, and she didn’t even seem to hear his as he talked, making his eyebrows furrow in confusion, “Y/n? You good there?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” She dismissed quickly, taking a step away from him, wringing her hands awkwardly. She’s nodding her head, but her eyes are firmly set on the ground now and Calum knows that she’s nervous. Sure, the two weren’t close and Calum took enjoyment in annoying her, but he was surprisingly good at telling how she was feeling simply from her body movements.
He hesitated, lips parting as he thought of what to say as he stared at the smaller girl who looked like she wanted the ground to swallow her whole, but after a few moments, his lips snapped shut. He wasn’t good at consoling, especially not her. And even if he did want to try, what could he possibly say?
This situation wasn’t ideal for her. Sure, it got her publicity, but he knew it wasn’t the type that she wanted. She hadn’t been fully introduced to the famous lifestyle yet, articles written about her, fan accounts, everything so he knew this was going to be hard for her. It took him a while to adjust to the lifestyle, and sure things like paps were still uncomfortable but they weren’t scary anymore.
As he stared at her, a frown prominent on his lips, he studied her. He noticed how awkward and uncomfortable she had become from the moment that he had posted the photo, almost as if she was awaiting an attack. He knew it was scary, the paps, the fangirls, and he also knew that this abrupt change in lifestyle from this moment on was going to be difficult for her; so he would make it easier.
He would answer the questions, take the heat about the relationship. He would protect her from all of the nasty comments as best as he could because no one deserved to be flung into the lifestyle like she was being right now, despite wanting publicity. This was a whole new life starting for her from the moment he posted the picture and as he nodded his head discretely, it was like a deal had been sealed with himself.
He was going to help her through this, even if she still hated him.
      It was three hours after the show had taken place and she still hadn’t turned her phone back on yet. She felt sick to her stomach, staring at her phone almost as if it was taunting her; itching for her to open Instagram but at the same time, wanting her to stay far, far away from the app.
Yet, soon enough she found herself booting up her phone and going onto Instagram, almost immediately finding Calum’s photo. She clicked on the comments and was pleasantly surprised. People were actually being supportive.
“omg look at them!!!”
“THEY LOOK SO GOOD TOGETHER WTF”
“I want someone to look at me the way Cal looks at Y/n”
That last one made her smile. She knew exactly what picture they were referencing. The one where y/n has her back to the camera in Calum’s embrace, and he’s staring down at her with a smile, arms wrapped around her, pulling her flush against his chest. She remembered her face buried deep into Calum’s shirt, surprised that the makeup she was wearing didn’t rub off on the material.
She was subconsciously shaking her head as she pulled her knees to her chest, resting her chin on top of them. She flicked back up to the pictures, almost analyzing the way Calum stared down at her. The fan was right, Calum looked at her with so much “love” in his eyes, a look that y/n had never seen on Calum before.
It was crazy. If y/n didn’t know any better she would think that Calum actually was in love with her but the only thing he loved about her, was how annoyed he could get her. Calum was certainly a good actor, looking at her like she was the sun and he was the revolving planets; like the only girl in the entire universe. Well, at least if Calum got bored of music he could go into acting.
They already had everyone fooled, and they were just getting started...
117 notes · View notes
andypantsx3 · a month ago
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lay low (take it slow) | 2
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pairing: Takami Keigo (Hawks) / Reader
length: TBD, est. ~20,000 words / 7 chapters
summary: What even was the right google search for this situation? How do I sew someone back together without passing out? How do I not barf on the pro hero I’m stitching up?
(Or, Hawks’ game of double agent lands him in the shaky hands of one (1) very unequipped English major.)
tags: romance, hurt/comfort, canon divergence, give Hawks a fuckin break pls
warnings: canon typical violence, blood, medical stuff, eventual smut, manga spoilers
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The rest of the morning passed slowly.
For hours, you cycled between watching Hawks so anxiously you thought you might be giving yourself an ulcer and fitfully scrolling through medical forums on your phone. At one point, a WebMD article scared you enough that you rolled Hawks onto his side and ducked down to listen for crackling in his breathing, covering him with a thick pile of blankets and watching his mouth for hints of blueness.
But Hawks kept breathing--ragged but normal enough--and eventually you realized that he might, given a couple of weeks, actually recover.
Might.
The thought gave you some amount of relief, enough that you could relax just a little and focus on something else other than Hawks’s imminent demise under your care. Instead, you wondered what had put him in the situation to begin with.
What the fuck had to have happened for the number two hero to end up crumpled in an alleyway, slashed across the chest, and refusing medical treatment from anyone with an actual certification? What could possibly be so bad that Hawks would rather suffer under your clumsy care than risk entering a hospital?
You pulled up a new tab on your phone, determined to find out.
Only to find there was nothing.
Your eyebrows knit together. You tried a different search, but the results page spat out nothing additional. In the last twenty-four hours, the only new results on his activities was a twitter thread covering his lightning fast takedown of a jewelry store robber the day before, and a youtube fan compilation entitled Hawks’s most insane dives (242 mph)!!! You couldn’t help but blink, impressed with the number, but you avoided being sucked into the youtube wormhole by the sheer force of your bewilderment.
How was there nothing on what had happened to Hawks last night?
Surely a fight in which the number two hero was almost fatally wounded would have caught the attention of someone, if not thousands of people. Where had Hawks been, and what had he been doing exactly that no one was aware of his injury? You looked back up to the sofa--and just who had managed to get the jump on the number two hero like that?
You watched his face, stuck in that thought. Crumpled on your couch, he looked very little like the dashing hero who tore up the pages of newspapers everywhere. With his features slack, he seemed hardly any older than you were--all fluffy blonde hair and long eyelashes, topped off with a pouty mouth, and a pert nose. The inner lids of his eyes darkened to a precise point, the outer edges lifted into sharp tilt, giving him a slightly mischievous look, even in sleep. Coupled with his ear studs and tiny bit of facial scruff, he looked kind of like he belonged in a boyband, rather than openly brawling with the country’s criminal underclass.
How he had come to lay bleeding in that alley, you almost didn’t want to know.
The thought of the alley raised little alarm bells in your mind, however, and it occurred to you that the pavement around him had been stained with blood, completely carpeted with his signature red feathers. Even as he lay bleeding out, he’d told you to leave him there, that it wasn’t safe--almost like someone, or something, was going to come looking for him.
Trepidation began to creep into the hollows between your bones.
What exactly had he meant by not safe? Had someone been coming for him in that alleyway, looking to finish him off? Would someone even now be trying to follow him?
The thought disturbed you too much to let it be. Almost before you knew what you were doing, you found yourself digging under your sink for your spare sponges, a pair of gloves, and a small pile of cleaning supplies. You went to your room and fetched your laptop, setting up a video call from your phone to your laptop so you could keep an eye on Hawks even while you were out.
Then you shrugged on a jacket, casting Hawks one more nervous look. He didn’t move, still breathing steadily, so you let yourself out.
You followed the street back to the alley, armed with your cleaning supplies and a trash bag. The alley looked even worse in the late morning sunshine, evidence of Hawks everywhere. His blood still pooled where he’d been laying, crusting ruddy brown as it dried, and an alarming amount of it was smeared all down one wall, scraped over the side of a dumpster like he’d hit it as he fell. His feathers were strewn everywhere, peeking out from under dirty pieces of moldering cardboard, caught in between slats of the dumpster, and carpeting the floor like a particularly horrendous shag rug.
You suppressed a wave of nausea and set to work, scrubbing his blood off the dumpster and the parts of the wall that you could reach. You stowed any cardboard with his blood at the back of the dumpster so it wasn’t visible from the street, and soaked up as much of his blood as you could with a fat roll of paper towels, kicking dirt and other debris back over the patches you’d cleaned so it wasn’t obvious they’d been touched.
Then you set about stuffing heaping handfuls of red feathers into the trash bag. The feathers were stiff and crumpled, some of them crusty and matted with Hawks’s blood--you felt your mouth pull taut in distaste--but the doing needed done. Several anxious glances at your phone and an impressively large number of feathers later, you tied off the top of the trash bag and dumped your ruined sponge and gloves into the bottom of the dumpster.
Then you went around the corner to the nearby pharmacy, pulling up a list of supplies you’d need on your phone.
Inside, you piled your basket high with rolled gauze, bandages, a large bottle of hydrogen peroxide, several antibiotic treatments, and enough painkillers to incapacitate a horse.
The cashier gave you a wary look as you forked over the cash, which only deepened to overt suspicion when you added a small mound of snacks from the display next to the register.
Could a girl not be prepared for a combination medical-snack emergency in this town?
You mused on the cashier as you retrieved the trash bag full of Hawks’s feathers and made your way back to your apartment, wondering if you should go to the nicer pharmacy a couple blocks down the next time you needed supplies for Hawks.
Which also left you to wonder if he would even be here long enough for you to need them. You hoped he’d be well enough soon, and able to use the feathers you’d collected when he awoke again, and maybe make his way to somewhere more suited to his care.
While you weren’t the biggest hero fan out there, Hawks was still high in the rankings, visible enough that you knew the basics of his quirk. He was able to telekinetically manipulate his feathers, and after he used them, they seemed able to return to him and form the body of his wings again. You’d seen the sad, ragged stumps of his wings as you’d bandaged him over last night, however, and you had doubts whether he’d be able to fit the ones you’d salvaged back into something resembling his previous wingspan.
You were still musing on Hawks as you shouldered open the door to your apartment--only to discover the object of your musings was apparently attempting to escape out your window.
He looked up in surprise as the door swung open. His face was half-twisted into a grimace, and there was already a disturbingly large dark stain seeping across his bandages where he had his torso angled under your window. His chest rose and fell in tiny, pained little huffs, and he looked like he might hurl any second, so it was almost a good thing he’d already gotten his upper half outside.
Almost.
You instantly dropped your bags, racing over to the window, and seized a fistful of his arm. It was a testament to how injured he was, probably, that he made barely any move to stop you, fingers clutching weakly at the frame of the window pane, a bare foot sliding forward on your floor.
“Holy shit, what the fuck are you doing?” you demanded, tugging him insistently back through the window. “You’re going to kill yourself.”
Hawks blinked, his gaze unfocused for a second, but his pupils finally fixed themselves on you just confidently enough that you could tell he was seeing you. “You’re--alley girl.”
You nodded vigorously, helping him angle his head back under your window frame, noting that he hadn’t even attempted to gather his feathers from where you’d dropped them at the door. Either they were unusable or he was still super fucked up.
“You have a shirt,” he said in surprise, the edges of his words slightly slurred.
Okay so, super fucked up.
Your face caught fire, lighting up like a beacon. Sweet christ, he’d been dying. Why the fuck did he remember that?
“Uh, yeah--I thought I’d change it up this time,” you said, gripping his arm more firmly. The muscle flexed under your grip as he pulled himself back inside.
Once back through your window, Hawks looked decidedly more intimidating than when he’d be hanging out of it like a limp fish. He straightened to something approximating his full height, somewhat taller and broader than you had realized, and with his eyes open, he looked more than ever like a bird of prey. Though still slightly unfocused, they had an incredibly sharp look, inhumanly golden, like he really might be part hawk.
But as cool as that was, that wouldn’t save him from bleeding out all over your floors.
“Back on the couch, dude, you’re losing a lot of blood,” you demanded, ushering him over to the stained and towel-covered furniture in question. You could see dark spots of blood patterning the floor underneath it where he must have first re-aggravated his wound. You said a small prayer for your security deposit.
Hawks looked a little unwilling, but you wrestled him back down to your couch. Then you raced back over to your door to grab the medical supplies you’d dropped.
“Who do you work for?” he managed to garble out as you made your way back over to him.
You glanced at him, wondering why that was his top concern, or really why he thought that was any of his business at the moment. “Uh, the university? I help edit papers through student resources.”
For just a minute, he stared down at you, looking surprised. His gaze was disturbingly intense, even bleary as it was, as he regarded you silently. You shifted nervously, disconcerted by his scrutiny.
It occurred to you that he didn’t seem very much like the Hawks you knew from TV. That Hawks was intense in fights, sure, taking down villains with ruthless efficiency, almost faster than the eye could see. But he was always friendly and personable with the media outlets, smiley and reassuring and a little bit showboaty. He never seemed edgy or tense. Not--not like this.
You wondered if it was his discomfort at waking up in the living room of someone he didn’t know, almost completely defenseless in a manner that would trouble any pro worth his salt.
You gave him a considering look, then knelt at the side of the couch, pulling open the trash bag of his feathers. You pulled a long, thin feather off the top, longer than your forearm, and held it out to him.
“I, uh, I don’t know if you can still use these,” you said, feeling strangely squirmish. “But you know. Just in case you think I could get too handsy or something, it’s probably good for you to have. I went back to the alley and got all of your feathers, even the tiny ones,” you babbled.
Strong, calloused fingers took the feather from you. You looked up into his face to see that he was still staring straight at you, something unreadable passing over his pretty features. After a long moment, he seemed to decide something.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” he finally managed.
“Uh, sure.” Your face went a little warm at the term of address, and you turned to rustle around in the plastic bags to avoid looking at him, unearthing hydrogen peroxide and additional bandages from underneath a small mountain of snacks.
He was a public figure, obviously he had a warm, compelling way of speaking to people. You’d seen it on TV, even. You didn’t need to get all flustered just because it was being directed at you.
When you turned back to him, Hawks’s focus seemed to be wavering again. Some of his edge had disappeared and he looked exhausted, pale and kind of peaky. You passed him a box of raisins and an orange juice carton from your pile of snacks, pressing them into calloused hands.
“Here,” you said, feeling kind of stupid. “I’ll figure out something better after we get your bandages changed again, but can you eat those for me? That’s what they hand out at the student center after you donate blood, so I figure it has to be at least a little good for this kind of thing.”
You watched as he examined the items, definitely struggling to focus on the packaging. You didn’t know if he was so fuzzy that he was trying to figure out what they were, or if he maybe thought you were attempting to poison him in the middle of your own living room. You sighed, grabbing the juice box from him, and adamantly poked a hole in the top with the little plastic straw.
“If you don’t drink that, I’m gonna have to bring you to a hospital,” you said. “I’m not letting you stay here if you’re actively trying to die on me.”
He blinked, then fastened his mouth around the straw, the threat seeming to motivate him.
Which reaffirmed what he’d said last night. You wondered again why the number two hero might be so afraid of being carted to a hospital, especially when he really did need more professional medical attention than some rando fucking English major could provide.
“Are you sure there isn’t someone I can call for you?” you tried again as you unwrapped the bandages, the plastic crinkling loudly under your fingers.
He managed a small head shake, eyes flicking back up to you. “Afraid not, sweetheart.”
You wanted to ask him exactly what had happened to him, thought better of it. Judging by the sloppy manner of his speech, the pallid color of his skin, and the way he’d just let you pull him back through the window without a fight, he was in no fit state to answer questions. Even sucking on the juice box looked to be a lot of effort for him.
“Is it cool if I help change your bandages?” you asked instead. “Much as I love the color you’re turning my couch, it doesn’t really go with the rest of my decor.”
Hawks glanced down at his abdomen, golden eyes sweeping over the drying tracks of blood down his own hip. “Crusty’s not your aesthetic, then?”
You let out a surprised laugh, pleased he was coherent enough to make jokes. This was the Hawks you were more familiar with from the media. “Not even a little.”
Hawks let you move closer. You peeled off his bandages, grimacing when you felt him flinch under your fingers.
The wound looked almost grosser now that it wasn’t openly streaming rivulets of blood down his skin. Your stitching job was suspect at best, definitely messy, and old blood had dried around the edges of the wound, dark and flaking.
“This is gonna sting a little,” you said, just for something to say. Obviously he knew--the man was a pro hero. And a little sting was going to feel like nothing, probably, to a man who had had his chest slashed open the evening before. You poured the hydrogen peroxide over a cotton round, delicately dabbing at the flaked over blood.
Hawks sat very still, staring down at you, saying nothing.
You urged him to eat his raisins to get that intense focus off of you while you finished cleaning him up, dabbing some of the antibiotic ointment over the wound. His muscles tightened at the cool touch of the cotton round, and he let a slow breath as you finished up. You tried very hard not to pay attention to the warm of his skin or the definition in his sleek muscles, or think about how much you’d liked him calling you sweetheart.
As you were taping off the edges of the bandages you felt a heavy weight sink against your shoulder. You flailed to keep yourself from tipping backwards, pulling back to look at Hawks in alarm. But his eyes were closed, his breathing heavy and regular and even, and you realized with some shock that he’d fallen asleep right on you.
You sat there for a moment, stunned at what had just happened. He’d been exhausted, sure, but he’d seemed awake enough, watching you with those sharp eyes. And he’s seemed so tense before that, you didn’t think he’d have let himself fall back asleep, no matter how horrible he felt.
Your eyes trailed down to the long red feather, clutched in his fingers, realizing it must have made him feel safer to have it, even if you didn’t know for sure that he could still use it.
You gently eased him back down to the couch, pulling the ugly floral blanket back over him. Then you cleaned up the juice box and his half-eaten box of raisins, washed your hands, and went to your bedroom to grab your pillow and blanket.
Then you settled back on the floor at his side, and, comforted by the even sound of his breaths, you let yourself be tugged gently down into sleep.
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amjustagirl · 2 months ago
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Hogwarts AU (Haikyuu!!)
feat. Bokuto Koutaro
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Previously:  Miya Atsumu. Miya Osamu. Kita Shinsuke. Kuroo Tetsuro. Tsukkishima Kei
Masterlist link here
Warnings: Tooth-rotting fluff
Wordcount: 4.1k
Genre / Pairings: Fluff, Angst, Hogwarts AU, Bokuto / Reader
Summary: Tutoring Bokuto Kotaro in Charms seems like a waste of your time. But then you get to know the Hufflepuff seeker, and start looking forward to your tutoring sessions with him.  
A/N: Comments as always, are much welcomed. Feel free to shout at me anytime!
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“I’m Bokuto!”
You stare coldly at the large hand shoved into your face. “Yes, I know. And so?” You arch an eyebrow and let your question linger awkwardly in the air. Surprisingly, even that fails to  dampen the brightness of the grin on his face, despite the fact that any other student would have turned tail and run at being on the receiving end of the resident Ice Queen of Slytherin’s glares. 
Your Charms professor coughs into his hand. “Ah. Yes. Bokuto requires some tutoring assistance, and I thought you’d be the right person to help out.”
You open your mouth in protest, but clamps it shut at the look of warning the professor shoots at you. It’s your bad luck you got caught sneaking books out of the restricted section of the library, it wasn’t as if the books you had your eye on contained dark magic in any case, they  just contained spells deemed too dangerous for idiots like the one standing before you to even attempt. And instead of detention for a month, your Charms Professor who’s always had a soft spot for you suggested you divert your free time to tutoring struggling students instead. 
“Fine”, you snap before turning to the boy. “You better not be as bad as Ushijima - Merlin only knows he was as dumb as a bag of bricks”. 
Bokuto agrees to meet you every Tuesday in an unused classroom for Charms tutoring. You do not care that he seems to wilt ever so slightly at the insults you lob at his Hufflepuff teammate - you have no time to suffer fools, after all. 
-----------------------------------------------
Unfortunately, while Bokuto doesn’t take everything as literally as Ushijima (it was a problem you faced when you tutored the stone faced boy, especially for a subject requiring as much personal flair as Charms), he struggles with the precise motions and pronunciation needed for Charm incantations, and you’re losing your patience with him after he messes up Aguamenti for the tenth time today. 
“You need to move your wand like a wave of water before pointing it sharply - like you’re shooting a jet of water into a glass”, you repeat yourself in exasperation. 
He tries his best, waving his wand exaggeratedly but forgets the emphasis on the second syllable, so his wand remains completely dry. 
You pinch the bridge of your nose and close your eyes. “Look - it’s really not that hard. If you remembered all the notes I gave you about this charm, you’d have gotten it by now. Merlin - what’s wrong with you dumb Quidditch Players?” 
“It’s not that easy to remember everything when you keep calling me dumb all the time”, Bokuto mutters, resentment colouring his tone. 
Your shock that Bokuto - the human embodiment of a sunbeam, seems to have abandoned his usual cheerfulness for an uncharacteristically stormy expression, quickly morphs into annoyance that he has the temerity to get short with you considering you’re the one that’s been forced to give up her Tuesday evenings in an attempt to get him to pass his Charms exams. 
“That’s because you ARE dumb”, you retort coolly. “Try casting the charm again”. 
He shocks you again by gathering his things and walking out of the classroom. 
“Where are you going?”, you call after him, confused. Even Ushijima put up with your insults and snide remarks for an entire term, but Bokuto doesn’t even look back.  
-----------------------------------------------
Bokuto doesn’t turn up next week either despite struggling in class with the very charm you spent hours trying to hammer into his head. Nor the week after that. Midterms come and go, and you overhear from a group of his twittering fangirls in the bathroom that his spot on the Quidditch team is on the line after failing his Charms exam as expected. 
Guilt gnaws at you. Strange, since you assumed your heart is practically a block of ice by now. 
You spend days trying to corner him to no avail. You always knew he had plenty of friends, but you didn’t realise how popular he actually was. He’s constantly surrounded by his teammates - or even other Quidditch players like Kuroo from Slytherin, or Hinata from Gryffindor, and his childhood best friend Akaashi follows him like a shadow despite being from Ravenclaw, not Hufflepuff. 
So you bide your time and wait until he finishes Quidditch practice, whispering from the shadows “Diffindo” to sever the straps of his bag. Your plan works - Bokuto cheerfully waves his teammates to go on without him, and the horde of hungry Hufflepuff Quidditch players head off to the Great Hall for dinner. 
“Why haven’t you come back for tutoring sessions?” You try to sharpen your question into an accusation, but your guilt makes you falter midway and you just sound bewildered instead. 
Your bewilderment is mirrored in Bokuto’s eyes. “Huh?” he frowns. “I thought you didn’t want to tutor me in the first place, so I asked my friends to help me out instead.”
You snort, tapping your foot. “Akaashi’s a year below, so I doubt he’s much help, and Kuroo’s much better at potions than at charms. And I hear you’re going to get kicked off the team if you don’t pull up your Charms grades in the remedial exams before Christmas.” 
The furrow between his brows deepens. “Why do you care if I’m failing my exams?” 
You’re not accustomed to dealing with someone so straightforward and genuine and innocent. You’re used to conniving serpents like Oikawa and Daishou who would have no hesitation hiding daggers in their sleeves just to get ahead, so the fact that his question is honest floods your belly with guilt.
“Because I feel bad for calling you dumb.” You decide to honour his honesty with a straight answer. “Do you still want me to tutor you if I promise to be nice?” 
Any shadow of lingering guilt is chased away by the sheer sunniness of his smile. 
-----------------------------------------------
The ice in your heart starts to thaw in the face of his exuberance and friendliness. 
“You’re much nicer than people say you are”, he tells you one day with blunt honesty. “Why don’t you have more friends?”
You shrug, accustomed to the title that your peers have chosen to label you with. The Ice Queen of Slytherin, your housemates whisper behind your back after you slash Miya Atsumu’s robes in your second year, leaving him standing in nothing but his underwear after he pulled your bra strap on a dare. 
Your mother and older sisters taught you self-defense charms even before you entered Hogwarts, and you have no qualms about using them, even against one of the most popular boys in your house. But it proves to be a miscalculation - one that leaves you with few friends other than those who’ve known you since your childhood. 
“I don’t need friends”, you say, words frigid. 
He grins at you, undeterred. “I’ll be your friend!” He declares, leaning forward, balancing his chair precariously on two legs. 
“I’d be happier if you pass your exam”, you tell him dismissively, though there’s an amused curl at the corner of your lips. 
True to his word, Bokuto drags Akaashi over to the Slytherin table during dinner the very next day. You startle as he plops into the empty seat across you, Akaashi giving you a slight nod of acknowledgement that’s also tinged with an unspoken ‘sorry you have to put up with my overly excitable best friend these days’ that you snort at. 
Kuroo rounds up the trio, and between his and Bokuto’s bickering over who’s getting the best pickings from the meat dishes on the table, and Akaashi’s admonishments not to cause a ruckus that fall on deaf ears, you’re so entertained that you laugh aloud, though you wince internally when half the Slytherin table snaps their heads around to stare at you, dumbfounded. 
Miya Osamu actually looks up from his katsudon to elbow his brother. Miya Atsumu chokes on his food. 
You assume it was just a one-off event, Bokuto just trying to repay you with his kindness, but to your surprise, he’s back at least twice a week, and soon your lonely corner at the Slytherin table turns into the most boisterous ones. His very presence draws the most random assortment of people into his sphere - soon you’re joined by Tsukkishima, the quiet, stone faced Ravenclaw, Hinata, Bokuto’s self appointed protege and burgeoning sun in his own right, Sawamura, the stoic, steady Hufflepuff Keeper, on top of the usual suspects like Kuroo and Akaashi. 
Not everyone is as amused by this turn of events. 
“What’s he doing at our table?” 
“I heard he’s being tutored by the Ice Queen herself - maybe that’s why he’s here.” 
“That makes sense. Heard he’s really dumb.” 
You stiffen as you hear your classmates snigger. Bokuto wilts, even the ridiculous mop of hair on his head starts to droop. Kuroo and Akaashi wear twin expressions of murderous intent on their face and both start to rise, insults on their tongues when you whip out your wand, freezing your offending classmate’s lips to his glass. 
“Call him dumb one more time and I’ll freeze your balls to the bench”, you smile sweetly, poison in your words. 
Kuroo guffaws as you turn back to your conversation with them with a saccharine “now, where were we before we were so rudely interrupted?” Akaashi snorts into his hands. 
Bokuto looks at you as if you’ve handed him the latest firebolt model on a gilded plate. You refuse to meet his eyes for the rest of the night. 
-----------------------------------------------
You find that he responds far better to praise than negative reinforcement, bouncing around the classroom with such childlike enthusiasm whenever he succeeds in casting another new charm that it makes your lips tilt upwards. The combination of his Hufflepuff diligence and your renewed patience makes his performance in charms skyrocket, and soon, he’s improved enough for you to teach him the more fiddly, advanced charms. 
‘You have to flick your wrist lightly’, you tell him for the fifth time this evening. Ascendio is a difficult charm to master, even by your own standards, your own wrist already sore from the various rounds of demonstration. 
He tries to mirror your action. It doesn’t work. 
‘Um.’ You rack your brains, thinking of something, anything that might help. 
Ah.
‘You’ve got to move your whole arm like it’s the wing of a snitch. You know – keep the arm and wrist action light, like the flutter of wings.’
He furls his brow, trying to mirror your action again. It doesn’t work. This time, he pouts. 
Impatient, you grab his hand. ‘Look!’ You slap at his arm to get him to loosen up – seriously, what do they feed these quidditch players, taut muscles tensing beneath your fingers as you try to puppet his arm into an approximation of the wrist movement. He gazes down at you with wide eyes as you press your form against him. 
‘I’ll show it to you again. Ascendio’, you call, and with a sharp flick of your wrist, your feet lift off the ground, your skirt fluttering in the air. Then with a smooth swish of your wand, you descend to the ground, cocking your head to your student. ‘Come on, Bokuto, you’ve got to master it by the end of the night.’
He tries again and again to no avail. Charms is a far more creative branch of magic than transfiguration or even potions – and what works for one might not work for another. You recalibrate, trying to relate what you’re teaching to his true love - Quidditch. 
‘Maybe you could imitate the movement of a snitch about to take off once the whistle blows?’ 
 ‘A snitch?’ he laughs boisterously at your suggestion. ‘I could do that.’ 
He screws up his eyes tightly, his entire body falling still before he raises his arm. With a flick and swish, a hooted “Ascendio”, Bokuto floats up into the air.
“I did it!” He pumps his fists in the air, grinning down at you. Then with a smooth finite incantatem, he descends back to the grimy classroom floor. 
“Well done!” You laugh aloud, clapping your hands, so drunk with elation at his success that you don’t notice the sudden softness in his golden eyes. 
-----------------------------------------------
“Waiting for Bokuto-san?” Akaashi asks. 
You hesitate for a beat, a pink tint to the apples of your cheeks before you nod without a word. 
“I’ll leave you two be then”, the Ravenclaw boy says, walking off with his hands tucked in his robes, a small smile flickering on his face. 
You exhale slowly through your nose. Maybe you should have left Akaashi to wait for Bokuto instead - they’re best friends, practically platonic soulmates you gather from Bokuto’s chatter as he walks you back to the Slytherin dungeons every Tuesday night, something he insists on despite your protests. You’re just his tutor - but here you are, hanging around outside the classroom where his remedial exam is being held, palms clammy in nervous anticipation. 
You tell yourself that you’re waiting for him because you can’t wait to know whether the tutoring sessions that take up your precious Tuesday evenings will end. You wonder if that means that he’ll stop coming over to hang out over dinner with you, the thought making your heart feel as if it’s frosted over again. 
“Hey, hey, hey!” His booming voice interrupts your reverie, and you glance up to see him burst out of the classroom, the joy on his face outshining even the sun. 
“You passed, I assume”, you snark, hands on hips, but he doesn’t even register your badly disguised coldness, grabbing by the waist to lift you easily into the air, spinning you in circles until you’re both giddy with delight. 
“I did, I did, thanks to you!” He crows, still clinging on to you like a lifeline. “They were so impressed when I cast Ascendio, and I was like swish, and they were like aughhh wahhhhh - and it was so awesome!” 
“I’m glad my effort paid off then, dummy”, you tease - seriously, it would make your housemates’ jaws drop if they caught you giggling, let alone being held aloft in Bokuto’s arms, but you’re just so happy for him that you don’t order him to put you down. 
He stills suddenly, and you’re worried that he’s taken offense at the affectionate nickname until you notice his eyes are trained at the arch above you and oh - 
Mistletoe. 
It’s Christmas, and the house elves have hung enchanted sprigs of mistletoe around the castle on the orders of the mischievous headmaster to prank unsuspecting students. Any student trapped under enchanted mistletoe may only be released upon giving or receiving a kiss, and you’re about to press a chaste kiss to Bokuto’s nose when you glance back at him and notice his eyes are molten gold, laden with desire. 
“Bokuto - “ you begin, but you’re promptly cut off by the searing brand of his lips against yours, gasping as he backs you against the wall, his mouth plundering yours. You should protest, but any sentient thought you might have is lost in your newly awakened hunger for him, this beautiful, sweet boy with golden eyes and silver hair who’s kissing you. 
“I like you,” he says breathlessly when you finally push him away in an effort to pull air into your deprived lungs. “Go out with me - please?” he adds, almost as an afterthought, brushing his thumb against your cheek with a gentleness that belies his large frame crowding you against the wall. 
You want to, oh Merlin - you want to indulge in the warmth that’s starting to sprout in the previously frozen tundra of your heart but you have to recognise that he’s Bokuto Koutaro, Quidditch player extraordinaire bound for the professional leagues, so popular that he already has a fanclub in school. 
And you - you were a social pariah before you met him, you would ruin his reputation if anyone finds out that you’re in a relationship with him, not to mention you’ve been accused of being cold and distant and harsh - all characteristics that disqualify you from being a good match for him. 
“I can’t.” You shake your head, keeping him an arm’s length distance from you, because if he comes any closer, you might lose your resolve. “We wouldn’t work out at all”.
The golden light dims in his eyes, and his arms fall limply to his side.  “Is it because I’m dumb?” He asks, his voice heartbreakingly quiet. 
“No!” You cry, taking a step towards him. “That’s not it at all!” 
He frowns, confused. “Then why don’t you wanna go out with me? Don’t you like me?” 
“I do”, you admit, hating yourself for having to extinguish the spark of hope in his eyes. “But we won’t work out -” 
“Why’re you so sure of that?” He takes a step forward, reaching towards you. You knock his hands away and he stumbles back, stung. 
“Because I’m not good enough for you!” You shout, your words echoing against the castle walls. “Because I’m snarky and frigid and cold and rotten to the core - and you’re wonderful and funny and sweet and you deserve so much better than me”. 
Your words stun him into silence, and before he can work out a response, before your resolve starts to crumble, you take a large step away from him. With trembling hands, you reinforce the frozen fort in your heart, forcing yourself to beat a hasty retreat. 
“Besides”, you add, voice shaking. “What could I possibly offer you?” 
You disappear around the corner, coldly ignoring him even as he calls your name. 
-----------------------------------------------
“He’s wandering around the castle like a lovelorn ghost”, Akaashi says, dropping into the library seat across yours. 
“Explain why that makes it my business”, you hiss with the indignation of a cornered boggart with no means of escape. 
He just gives you a knowing look and you glance at the skulking librarian, wondering if you should risk a detention to drive your sharpest quill into the back of the Ravenclaw boy’s hand. 
“You know, it’s sad you think so little of Bokuto-san that you refuse to allow him to make choices for himself.” 
“What are you - “ 
“It’s true, isn’t it?” His gaze remains resolute, even as you snarl. “Why don’t you prove me wrong?” 
-----------------------------------------------
But you’re stubborn, so you avert your eyes whenever Bokuto comes into your line of sight, changing seats so you don’t sit anywhere near him in Charms, escaping whenever he tries to call your name. Your Tuesday tutoring sessions with him are a thing of the past. You even hear from Miya Osamu that Bokuto’s been trying and failing to bribe first years into letting him into the Slytherin Dungeons, though they’re all far too frightened of your reputation to even dream of crossing you, not even for the bait of a ride on his rare firebolt.
You’re lonely, but you refuse to admit it to yourself.   
You even refuse to watch the match between Hufflepuff and Slytherin despite it being touted as the social event of the year. Both team’s lineups are exceedingly impressive. Representing Hufflepuff there are powerful players like Bokuto, Ushijma, Azumane, even surly Kyoutani. Slytherin’s certainly no slouch either, with Oikawa, Suna, Daishou, Kuroo and the Miya twins. 
But you huddle in the library and ignore the screams and cheers of the whole school spectating the match until Akaashi skids into the library, distress clear on his face. 
“He’s injured”, he manages to spit out between heaving breaths, and you don’t even need to ask who he is, panic turning your ribs into kindling, burning a blaze through your chest as you sprint full speed towards the hospital wing. 
Quidditch is a horrendously dangerous sport - the Daily Prophet Sports Section is full of horrendous injuries like long lasting concussions and smashed bones that you’re already imagining the worst by the time you cross the threshold of the hospital wing. But Bokuto’s not even lying on the cot - he’s sitting upright, a confused yet hopeful expression on his face as you stare at him, dumbfounded. 
“A-Akaashi said you were injured”, you manage to stutter. 
Bokuto waves a bandaged finger at you. “Yep”, he says, taking wary steps one at a time towards you. “Suna got me good when I was about to catch the snitch”. 
“Oh”, you say lamely. “I see.” You’re thankful no one else is in the hospital wing to see your disgrace. “I’ll be going, then”. 
“Wait! Please don’t run away again”, he begs, taking advantage of your distracted state to catch your hand, his fingers circling your wrist easily. You tug against his grip, but it’s futile - you’ve left your wand in the library in your mad rush, and years of Quidditch training have sculpted Bokuto into the human embodiment of a brick wall.
“Let go of me!” You order him in the coldest tone you can muster. It’s not even icy - in fact, it’s probably lukewarm.  
He shakes his head, as stubborn as you. “Not until you hear me out”, he replies, pulling you out of the hospital wing into the nearest unused classroom. 
“Fine.” You cross your arms. “What do you want to say to me then?”
“Well for starters, you’re the most amazing, scary girl I know”, he says, grinning boyishly at you. “You’re so much smarter than me I don’t know how your head doesn’t go pfft cos it sure isn’t large enough to hold all your brains. And you’re nice - I don’t know why you pretend you’re not - Yachi said you cursed the boys who teased her ‘cos you found her in the bathroom crying, even though you literally met her for the first time - “ 
“Why are you telling me this?” You cut in, confused. 
“Cos you asked me what you could offer me” He answers simply, his fingers slotting in between yours. “The answer is you. I want you. I like you.” His grin softens into a bashful, goofy, adorable smile. “And I know I’m not smart like you or Akaashi, but I know enough to think you like me too.”  
Your mind is entreating you not to give in, reminding you that you’ll only drag him down with you but your selfish heart wins out. The weeks you’ve voluntarily isolated yourself from Bokuto have been cold and lonely, and the truth is you miss him - you miss the silly jokes he makes, the playful banter, his boundless confidence and kindness and friendliness. Maybe that makes you selfish, but you can’t deny it any longer, you want him for yourself.
So you reply with a shy smile of your own. “Maybe I do - like you, I mean”, you say, with an earnestness you must have learnt from him, tilting your face up towards him like a flower seeking the sun. 
His eyes grow wide with delight as you step into the circle of his arms, allowing him to draw you against his broad chest. 
“And to be honest, maybe I’m the fool for not letting myself admit that I’ve always liked you”. 
“Don’t call yourself tha - mmmph!” 
This time it’s your turn to interrupt him with a kiss, tipping his head down to slide your lips against his, the heat in his eyes and the sunshine in his smile that finally melting the last vestiges of ice in your heart and transforming you from a snow maiden into a girl made of flesh and bone. 
-----------------------------------------------
Akaashi convinces you to sneak into the holding area before the next match between Slytherin and Hufflepuff. 
You’re self conscious, constantly adjusting the scarf in Hufflepuff yellow and black looped around your throat, but that immediately dissolves when Bokuto whoops the minute he spots you, bounding over to sweep you into an embrace, demanding at least twenty kisses before he lets you go. 
You oblige, because when faced with Bokuto’s pleading eyes, you’re weak, soft.  
Then you realise why Akaashi was so insistent on you surprising Bokuto just before his big match. 
Miya Atsumu falls off his broom, slack jawed. Miya Osamu trips over him. Even Suna Rintarou looks at you and Bokuto with a modicum of fear and respect. 
“Get it together!” Kuroo snaps at his team, hands on hips. 
None of that registers with Bokuto, of course. The minute the whistle blows, he speeds off, leaving even Oikawa in the dust, and before a dazed Miya Atsumu even scores once against Daichi, the Hufflepuff keeper, Bokuto is already holding the golden snitch aloft in his hand. He proceeds to do laps of aerial cartwheels around the pitch before hovering in front of the stands where you sit, shamelessly blowing kisses towards you. 
You hide your burning face in your hands. Akaashi just sits beside you, intolerably smug. Bokuto, oblivious as ever, just whoops.
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chrollos-girl · 2 months ago
Honestly I feel so bad for bothering you all the time.. but I have no one else to come to when I feel these emotions.. if it’s annoying pls let me know. ): but I wanted to ask, how do you deal with people who love Chrollo? This is gonna sound petty but I CANT STAND when I see others talk about how much they love the character I’m in love with. I literally block everyone because it makes me so sad and jealous, than I feel like I’m not worth it and stuff 😞
Hmm? You’re not bothering me nor do I think I receive these kinds of messages very often. I get that feeling- I get all those feelings, and it’s okay you come to me for these- Thank you for entrusting me with it. You ask a very good question that many haven’t asked before (I think maybe fear of me blocking them? lol).
My journey with that is something that has drastically evolved over the years. At first (4 years ago) I would like and save art of Chrollo- even if it was of him in a ship. I did it to try and cope with the fact that I can’t take actual pictures with Chrollo. This ended after about a year and I would still like art of him (normal art) but now, I only check his tag like 5x a day at the most. HxH is really popular and has grown even more recently. As much as I hate it, I know there are people who self ship with him, make NSFW art, smut, headcannons, collect his merch, have his photos, etc. I know that. And it still makes me tear up- but not from jealousy. I just don’t understand why the world thinks it’s okay to completely dehumanize the love of my life, say he’s not real and call me a crazy bitch for being upset. But at the end of the day?..It is just that and nothing more: They are just thoughts. Their wants, drawings and mental fantasies do not impact our relationship. 
Sometimes I do get up when I see people have merch of him that I don’t have (shocking, ik) and he tells me this: “Are you okay?... Adrii, you do realize it is just an object? They do not treasure it the way you do, and they could collect everything of me but they can not have me. It is just a wish of theirs. Do you see how there is art and lewd posts made of me each day and yet I am still here? That is because they can not impact reality. I am just a mere character for their own selfish consumption.. They do not know me. They may really enjoy my character but, you can not love someone that you do not know..It is all just superficial interests. Even if some of them love me, they will not change reality. Don’t let them have any power.” And the painful rage I have starts to melt away. And then I look around my room and see that I have 515 Chrollos- a massive, unrivaled collection that I can say with confidence is probably the world’s biggest Chrollo collection. I have one of a kind things that most don’t even know about. Even when I only had 1 piece of merch (omfg,throw back!), it still didn’t matter because people had more than me and it had no impact on our relationship. 
You are completely entitled to block anyone that upsets you. Anon, I literally have THOUSANDS of people blocked on here and 2,500 on Twitter. Don’t feel sad or jealous! Of course, these feelings are natural and I’m not trying to invalidate them but, you shouldn’t feel that way. I don’t know how your relationship is with that character (ex. if you’re a self shipper or they’re real) but just know that those people can’t impact your relationship :) Don’t allow them to have any power on you, as much as it hurts. Block those bitches and don’t look back! Your love for them is the best in the world! Wouldn’t it be nicer to be spending time with them instead of worrying about the outside world? Do something fun instead :)
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niallynwa · 2 months ago
I know we dont know anything about Amelia, and I dont want to know anything that she and niall dont publicly share but I do really love how she handled this situation with the comment. her response was perfect and sarcastic in a way that reminded me of niall lol. the twitter Stans are screwed - they are never gunna be able to catch on
agreed!! alyssa and i were saying exactly this. same with the depop message reply. she was so calm and poised and classy. way calmer and nicer than these people deserve lol. but very similar to niall with the sarcasm and good for her!! and him!!
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paranaturalpop · 2 months ago
Text
I rate your pnat ships by how well they work as foils
I’m Professor Pops, welcome to Literature 405: comparing and contrasting in pnat ships. Love is in the air but all that really matters is narrative symmetry!
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Mina and Agent Day (submitted by @anxanhh)
two women on missions who need a confidante. 
Mina is a calculating woman of science with a tender, vulnerable heart deep down that she guards. Day is a fun, giggly love goddess but beneath the surface she is just as calculating.  
They are both focused on their prospective goals to the point of subterfuge. 
They have similar missions, to solve the many mysteries of Mayview, but they’re at odds instead of working together. Will these lone wolves learn to let their walls down and work towards a common goal? 
Their spectral energies are complementary colors!!!!!!!!!!!! 
9/10 so different yet so alike. They should kiss and also develop as people.
Spendcia
Where's that post about paranatural having what my hero academia wants?
These two had interacted in cannon only once before we found out they were dating, power move on Zack’s part
The cousinhood and the consortium seem to have bad blood…. Enemies to lovers????
As teachers, Garcia is tired and phoning it in while spender is energetic and committed. But when it comes to mystery solving Spender is burning himself out while Garcia keeps him grounded.
Garcia does things like pack spender lunches with little hearts drawn on the bag but was surprised to be called his boyfriend. He acts chill but inside he is deeply invested in spender but also knows about spender’s isolating tendencies. 
8/10 there's a reason these two have been off and on again for 6ish years, they’re walking a tightrope of vulnerability.
Imaax (submitted by Rubyya)
The Destiel of Paranatural. No I will not elaborate.
Here’s a pnat history lesson, the original ship name was Maxaac, but Zack weighed in on twitter with a much better alternative: Imaax. Also sometimes called Team Lightning Rod. 
Black and blue colors, just like the emotional bruises they leave on the people around them. 
Isaac wants to be seen as heroic and Max wants to be seen as aloof. It presents in different ways but deep down they both really care what other people think.
They both fear sincerity. Isaac protects himself with theatrics and Max with sarcasm. 
Isaac puts on a big show of having strong ethics but he’s a little mean on instinct. Max puts on a big show of cutting people down with his snark and devil-may-care attitude, but when push comes to shove he’s kind and cares how other people feel. 
Max immediately insults every person he meets and they still want to be best friends with him, while Issac tries so hard to be cool and nice but people just can’t stand him. 
The meta tension between Isaac, who wants so badly to be the protagonist, and Max “magnetic personally” Puckett who is exhausted with being the protagonist, is delicious. 
There’s a reason official art tends to portray them together. They bring out the best in each other. Isaac brakes through Max’s performative pessimism and Max brings Isaac down to earth. 
10/10 these two were written as a pair and it shows.
Suzabel (submitted by Rubyya)
One of my fav tropes is ‘enemies to friends’ where the enemy part is completely one-sided. Isabel probably thinks she and Suzy get along great. 
Both the heads of their respective clubs, but with very different leadership styles. 
Isabel only studies her grandfather's spectral style to please him and is a near master of it, while Suzy is incredibly self-motivated even though her actual skills are lacking. 
Isabel is at a crucial time in her life where she’s learning to distance herself from adult authority figures in order to take on more personal responsibility. Suzy is already blazing with independence and could help her adjust. 
Inversely, Isabel could teach Suzy a thing or two about treating your club members with respect and doing the emotional labor necessary to prevent future conflict. 
Red and pink! Valentines colors! 
Isabel could kill you but would never, Suzy would actually try to kill you. 
Investigative reporter/person living mysterious double life is a great dynamic.
Back when Izzy had Eightfold they had the ship name ‘Paper Girls’ which is awesome
7/10 Don’t ask me how I know this but they would kill at karaoke together. And they’re ok foils.
Bullymagnet
Max ‘too cool for clubs’ vs a boy who defines himself by his tight knit group. 
Max is learning to be less passive aggressive and johnny is learning to be less aggressive aggressive. 
Max’s entry to spectral life was when he injured Johnny and saw a shade of a doctopi on him, and Johnny's first shade was Max's doctopi after the hit ball game. 
Johnny refuses to commit to not bullying max anymore even though he really likes him, and max is working on being nicer but he’s still gonna be snarky with people even though they’re his friends. Old habits die hard. 
If he hadn't seen that shade, Max might have joined Johnny's gang. He has the style, the stunts, the snark. 
8/10 Just two bros whose lives are changing forever.
Isaac and Dimitri (submitted by Rubyya)
Here’s my pitch for a ship name: Brainstorm
Orange and blue are complementary colors. 
Isaac hurt Dimitri accidentally somehow. Hurting others accidentally is the central theme of chapter 5. 
Idealist/pragmatist is a classic dynamic
They both have relationships with their spirit partners that are rooted in fear. 
Dimitri’s self concept is overly dependent on his sense of intellectual superiority, and Isaac’s on ethical superiority. 
7/10 have not directly interacted in the comic yet but the narrative symmetry is there
Johnny and Isabel (submitted by Rubyya)
Burnhound Vs Shockadile
These two are natural leaders who know how to treat their friends with respect.
These jocks are both lethal weapons, but while Isabel is a master martial artist, Johnny is a passionate but blunt instrument.
They’re both going through similar identity crises.
Isabel is struggling to reconcile her violent and disciplined upbringing with a good, gentle heart and Johnny is trying to reconcile his violent and self-centered lifestyle with a developing respect and empathy for other people.
Johnny dies his hair red, so he would think it’s cool how Izzy emits a fiery red aura when excited.
8/10 there's a reason these two were the team leaders in the hit ball arch.
Violet and Lisa (submitted by Rubyya)
People have been theorizing about what kind of cryptid Lisa is since day one meanwhile Violet gives off big normie energy.
Lisa is very plugged into all the Mayview weirdness as the queen of the school underground, while Violet was the only person who thought to go get a teacher during the hit ball arch. Lisa was also the only one who really spoke openly about how something was clearly very wrong with Jeff, everyone else talked around it and played by the so called ‘rules’. Lisa’s secret brokering Vs. Violet’s ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’ attitude presents two different approaches to trying to survive in a school run by a mysterious shadow organization within a town that contains several other mysterious shadow organizations.
“If you were, I’d have to be jealous too.” just two middle schoolers pinning over their crushes.
7/10 two girls against the world.
Isaac and Johnny
ship name: Firestorm?
Just 2 fiery redheaded mediums with anger management issues that command primal forces and wanna be best friends with max
Johnny chooses to have red spiky hair, Issac has had red spiky hair thrust upon him.
Both met Maxwell Pucket and decided they needed to change for the better.
I’ve said this before but Johnny and Issac have equal and opposite philosophies. Johnny doesn't care about the greater good, he just cares about a small group of people who he loves. Issac cares about the greater good, but can’t connect with individuals and ends up hurting them. Together they form one GoodTM boy.
Both their spirit partners want revenge on Spender. This spells trouble.
If there’s anyone to teach Isaac about unconditional friendship, it’s Johnny
Isaac has sworn off violence and Johnny worships at the altar of it.
9/10 they’ve only interacted in canon once so far but I’ve think we’ve got a big storm coming.
Suzy and Collin (submitted by Rubyya)
The Bakudeku of pnat. I will continue to not elaborate.
Suzy once stole Collin's phone which prompted Collin to try to cut her hair which prompted Suzy to stab Collin and at no point did either of them think to move to a different bus seat. As different as they are they are also very much the same.
Collin is the definition of mouth service (constantly disapproving of suzy’s antics but going along with it anyway.) while suzy is all action.
Despite their different attitudes they both seem genuinely passionate about the journalism club.
Fashion icons. Suzy’s sunglasses and legwarmers, Collins sweater vests and wrist bands, this duo could walk for Paris fashion week: middle school edition.
We’ve gotten an indication that Collin cares a lot about what Suzy thinks of him (taking off his wrist bands when she made fun of Max's) but we haven't gotten any sign yet that the feelings are mutual.
5/10 I think their story is yet to be told and we’ll get to know more about how they compare/contrast to each other in the future. Maybe brought on by Dimitri's betrayal?????
Cody and Isabel (Submitted by @a-bitchtm)
Cody is gay by WOG but that doesn't matter here since we are evaluating thematic compatibility, not romantic compatibility.
Red Vs. Blue
Izzy’s arch about stepping into her role as leader through communication and honesty contrasts Cody’s role as the secret class president. Izzy finally told Isaac the truth about the consortium, while Cody blatantly lied to max about being president.
Both seem to have generally good motivations and the skills/talent to back those motivations up.
Isabel is in the process of unlearning the ‘firm hand’ philosophy that she learned from her grandpa and Cody’s dad straight up tried to mind control him into murdering a toddler.
They were both taught to fall back on their capacity for violence and intimidation but those teachings conflict with the people they really want to be.
6/10 just two kids who are being led astray by authority figures trying to learn to be themselves.
Cody and Collin (Submitted by @gatortavern)
They both like vests.
Both beholden to blood thirsty predators
Collin is a journalist, Cody is a vampire/leader of the shadow government. It’s a huge power move on Cody’s part to hang out with Collin.
Cody’s support of his friends is enthusiastic while Collin would have you believe Suzy has kidnapped him.
4/10 they hang out for a reason but those reasons have yet to be fully developed
Isabel and Max (submitted by @Paranatural-goofiness)
They’re both people who have learned to put up walls to keep people out. Isabel through violence and intimidation, max through sarcasm and mockery. T
he other side of this is their mutual journey to let their walls down and connect with other people more genuinely, starting with each other.
Their search for acceptance and identity has led them both to become incredible athletes. Spectral fist martial arts = shred eagle stunts
As we saw in the hit ball game, Izzy faces things head on while Max is all about evasion. However we’ve seen how Izzy has actually learned to be evasive and guarded about her feelings while Max is a little more forthcoming.
8/10  Never has there been faster friends.
Isaac and Cody (submitted by Rubyya)
Drama kings
Isaac wants the likability Cody has.
Parallels of power: Isaac with power he didn't choose and cant control vs. Cody who also didn’t choose to have his power (elected), but wields it like an instrument.
Involuntary anime hair and involuntary glowing monster eyes
These two definitely both fall under the category of “lawful”.
I can see these two ending up on opposite sides of a conflict because they both have such rigid personal codes and an intense sense of duty.
I know I’ve been approaching almost all of these platonically but Isaac probably really wants a cool vampire boyfriend deep down
 7/10 Unstoppable force, meet immovable object. You two should watch anime together.
Hijack and PJ (submitted by @gatortavern)
They both wanna join the activity club so bad
Both have immature ideas about heroism and villainy. 
Both aspire to heroism while at the same time understanding that they aren't that yet and maybe never will be. 
They both, like many people in this comic, wanna be friends with max.  
5/10 Two supernatural babies who should play wii sports together
Stephen and Isaac (@Gatortavern)
Two boys who are easily overwhelmed
Lawful vs. chaotic
Isaac has enough secrets to give Stephen his conspiracy fix for a long time. 
In their own ways they both just want everything out in the open. 
Isaac is Stephen's dream, someone actually living a secret double life, and Stephen is Issac's dream, someone with a cool scar who would think he’s actually very interesting. 
5/10 these two are both very intense in their own way.
Johnny and Ed (Submitted by @theevilbrainman)
Two souls lost in the wind
Two people for whom friendship and loyalty is central to their character, and they’re both struggling with personal growth because of it. Johnny is afraid to change because his friends have always liked the person he already is, and Ed is struggling to even define himself outside of Isabel, the person he cares about the most. 
Both impulsive and uninhibited. 
They both live lives free from expectation. Johnny’s wild bully persona means no one is surprised by his antics or cruelty, while Grandpa Guerra doesn't really care if Ed takes up phantom fist like Isabel. He actually calls him a freeloader. Not having much expected of you can feel free but it’s also lonely and can warp your self-perception. 
6/10 these two crossed paths at exactly the right time.
I didn't cover every submission because even though only 9 people submitted you sent in 34 ships between you. Pnat’s fanbase is small but very dedicated. 
Honorable mentions: 
Johnny and clear sinuses, submitted by @gaul-the-unmitigated
Isaac and therapy, submitted by both @squidgeons and @somethingfishysgoingon
PJ and Johnny, submitted by @gatortavern, who seems to be under the impression that Johnny Would protect PJ and not destroy him just by breathing near him.
Day and Scabs, submitted by @gatortavern, because funny.
Special thanks to everyone who sent in ship between people who have never interacted in cannon, which was a lot of you. My eyes are opened now, so many possibilities.
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3dnygma · 2 months ago
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it’s Grouch time baby!!
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So, people on twitter have been talking about international productions of Sesame Street - and I am all here for it! Big Bird even shared a thread on his “bird cousins” that has received many likes and retweets since.
However, Big Bird isn’t the only one with relatives all around so world!! So let’s take a proper look at some of Oscar’s Grouch relatives!!
(Sidenote: I grew up with the German production of Sesame Street, so we’re going to start with the German Grouches. My main source is the English Muppets Wiki!)
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1. Rumpel! My favourite Grouch of all time. His Sesamstraße (ger. Sesame Street) debut was in 1989. In order to appease German parents, it was decided that he would be living in a rain barrel instead of a trash can. He also became progressively nicer over time, which I think works quite well with his cute character design. His pet caterpillar is called Gustav!
(more Grouches can be found under the cut)
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2. Super-Grautsch! A rare visitor of Sesamstraße with only a handful of appearances. Some neighbourhoods have Super Grovers, some have Super “Grautsches”...to be honest, I don’t know which one’s better. Another German Grouch with little appearances is Grouchella. And Wolf may not be a Grouch, but he very much has the personality of one.
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3. Moishe Oofnik (”Oofnik” = hebrew for Grouch)! This fella resides on Rechov Sumsum (Israeli Sesame Street) and has been around ever since 1982. While other Israeli Muppets have been retired over time, this Grouch is sure to stay around, thus making him the oldest Israeli Muppet to endure ever since his creation. I absolutely admire the little details of his fur!! His home is, in fact, not a trashcan but a recycling bin. Before that, he used to live in a broken car.
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4. Uncle Yuska! Not much is known about this Grouch, since he only appeared in one episode of the Israeli co-production. However, we do know that he is Oofnik’s unlce. AND that I love his design with all of my heart.
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5. Mordicus! This musical legend and his saxophone used to reside in a trashcan on 1, Rue Sésame (French Sesame Street) from 1978 until 1982.  Another production called 5, Rue Sésame aired from 2005 until 2007 - but it did not feature Mordicus.
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6. Khepu! This handsome fella lives in a claypot and has been featured on Sisimpur (Bangladeshi Sesame Street) for about a decade. He was recycled from a purple Grouch Muppet that was previously used in the US production.
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7. Gugu! His debut was on Vila Sésamo (Brazilian Sesame Street) in 1972. One very notable feature of the (now cancelled) Vila Sésamo is that all of its puppets were built by Brazilian puppet builder Naum Alves de Sousa and not the Sesame Street Workshop, thus resulting in their unique appearance. Nevertheless, Gugu is labelled as a Grouch and Oscar has been renamed to “Gugu” in contemporary Brazilian dubs of the US-American version of Sesame Street.
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8. Bodoque! This Mexican Grouch used to live on a pile of boxes in Plaza Sésamo, starting with the show’s creation and ending with his personal retirement in 1995. The show has since featured other, newer characters. 
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9. Ferrão! Although similar in appearance, this Grouch is not to be confused with Bodoque. Ferrão resides in a crate of wood on Rua Sésamo (Portugese Sesame Street) and, despite being quite a know-it-all, can also be very pleasant to be around with.
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10. Khadoosa! I almost forgot about this fella, since his design didn’t seem particularly interesting to me at first. HOWEVER, what does set him apart from most Grouches is his personality! He actually hates getting dirty and would much rather be surrounded by pretty flowers. Khadoosa can be seen on Galli Galli Sim Sim (Indian Sesame Street).
These are, in my opinion, the most notable Grouches around the world. However, you are welcome to check out some more international Grouches here or add more comments/trivia under this post. Thx for giving this post a read!
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