Not your first time hurling yourself off a precipitous perch, that much is evident.
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"Can I ask a question and not have you judge me for it?"
Hen is generally ambivalent to probies until they do something absurd or impressive. The glaring exception to that had been Buck, who had shown up and wiggled into her heart within a day. Also Eddie, who had shown up with an impressive background but better yet made Buck nearly incoherent with jealousy.
Ravi is still on her shit list from the jinx.
"Counter offer," she says, not looking away from checking Ravi's work in restocking the ambulance. "I will be judging you, but I will answer honestly if I can."
There's a few beats of silence where Hen closes one of the compartments and opens the next, then-
"Are Eddie and Buck divorced?"
Hen finds herself turning at the waist to face Ravi, who looks like he wants to take the words back but knows he can't.
The absolute worst part of the question is that she can see where he got that. The way they co-parent Chris, their nearly pathological need to be near eachother, the awkwardness around both their (now-ex) girlfriends. Buck moving in to take care of Eddie after the shooting. That both of them are more comfortable in eachother's space than out, yet always pull away if it's pointed out.
Letting out a sigh, Hen positions herself where she can see out the back of the ambulance for people coming. "Okay, probie, you've been here long enough that I guess its fair you're wondering." She levels him with a serious look. "No, they aren't divorced." When he furrows his brows and looks ready to interrupt, she cuts him off. "No, you asked and I said I'd be honest." He nods, still confused. "If those two ever let themselves have it, they would the kind of couple who would never walk away."
Ravi chews on his lip. "What do you mean "let themselves have it"?"
Up on the balcony, Hen can see Eddie leaning against the railing, frowning at his phone. "Those two have something incredible, something most people only dream of making in their lives." As she watches, Buck appears and folds himself into Eddie's space, arms pressed together all the way down, saying something that makes the frown twitch into a grin. "But there's also alot of fear that comes with something like that."
Ravi is still looking at her with confusion clear. "Buck literally rappelled down a cliff in the rain three days ago and Eddie jumped out a 3rd story window last week."
Hen raises an eyebrow at him. "And who was on the other end of Buck's rope?" It's a rethorical question. "Who talked Eddie through the best alternate exits?"
"Yep." Shes had alot of time to think about this over the years. The only thing about whatever happens with those two will be if it's calm and collected. "Now, I know you didn't pack this but you still have to check because C shift usually leaves it a disaster."
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Pairing: Ransom Drysdale x fem!Reader (OTP)
Summary: an alternate ending to Sacrilege where reader loses the bet! You remember the premise, you bet Ransom he can’t go for all of Lent with no sexual gratification and the loser has to wear a sex toy to Easter service.
Warnings: explicit language, explicit sexual content (unprotected vaginal sex, sex toys, butt plugs, sexual activity in a church), dirty talk in French (!), glasses kink, cocky Ransom, SMUT!!!! 18+ ONLY!!!!
A/N: I had zero plans to do this but then I got an ask about it and the anon hate about the original fic in the same day and my petty ass decided to write this as a special little fuck you to the anon who really didn’t like that I wrote about church sex 😉 (Also need to give a shout out to @ozarkthedog who posted a little thot about CE rolling a blunt and shotgunning her all night and that has been living rent free in my brain so I had to put it in here)
Credit to @nix-akimbo for the slobber inducing Ransom in glasses edits and to @firefly-graphics for the dividers!
Check out my masterlist and join my taglist if you want!!
Three weeks, three fucking weeks with no gratification and you were climbing the walls.
You cursed yourself every day for coming up with this stupid bet. In your defense, you were sure Ransom would have caved by now, he was such a needy little baby. And he had been the first one to try anything, waking you up in the middle of week one by grinding his cock against your bare thigh and whining into your hair. But you’d managed to put him off.
He still hadn’t fucking cracked though.
Nothing you tried was working. Not trying on that tiny fucking bikini you’d gotten on your trip to Brazil and asking him if he thought it still fit you. Not sending him photos of your bare legs while you were wearing his favorite heels. Not even climbing into the shower with him in nothing but a white t-shirt, because you knew his frat boy ass had a thing for wet t-shirt contests. It was all pointless and making you so goddamn frustrated you were ready to cry.
Plus, he’d been doing his best to wear you down too. He’d pull you against his chest and rub your shoulders after you’d had a long day, brushing his lips over your neck softly until you were just about to give in then pulling away and leaving you hanging. Sometimes he’d shove you up against the wall and kiss you until you couldn’t breathe then walk away with a smirk when you started screaming obscenities at him. Now he’d taken to rolling a beautiful looking joint right before bed and just shotgunning you until you were ready to do whatever the fuck he wanted, then kissing you on the forehead and going to sleep.
It was ending today. You’d put on his favorite deep purple lingerie set, shaved everywhere, and dabbed on some of that perfume he’d bought you that you pretty much never wore and were going to spread yourself over the couch in an obscene pose until he fucked you like you deserved. Work had been fucking long, and you needed him to blow your back out.
“Baby? I’m home!” You called when you walked in the front door, wrenching off your coat and starting to peel yourself out of your clothes as you began mumbling under your breath. “Where the fuck are you, you little bastard?”
“I’m on a call!” His voice was coming from the dining room and you made your way there, giving the dog a brief pat when he came to greet you before tossing his toy down the hall and closing the door so he didn’t ruin your plans.
Your victorious smile froze on your face when you found him, a frustrated groan leaving your lips as you took in the sight in front of you.
First off, he was wearing one of your favorite sweaters, the thick fabric stretched across his broad chest and shoulders in a way that always made you ache. Then, the way he was sitting in those tailored slacks had the fabric straining over his thick thighs to the point of bursting and basically begging you to ride them.
And to top it all off...
“Since when do you wear glasses?” You hated how squeaky your voice was, and cursed yourself for ever telling him how you maybe had a big fucking kink for men in glasses. He looked so damn good it was killing you.
“What these?” Fuck that cocky grin he gave you as he tucked his phone into his shoulder, a low chuckle escaping from his chest and making you growl. “I just need them for reading sometimes and Harlan asked me to look over a manuscript for him and talk to his rep in Montreal while his usual girl is out. Now, excuse me. Tu es toujours là ?”
Oh, goddamn him. Glasses and French and that fucking outfit?! All your concentration was going into controlling yourself, every fiber of your touch starved body urging you to crawl into his lap and fuck yourself on his cock until you couldn’t walk. You could not lose this bet, he would never let you hear the end of it. Even the thought of Walt’s flat, pasty ass wasn’t doing it though, a dull achy throb between your legs as you thought of everything you’d been missing for the past three weeks.
“On dirait que ça pourrait marcher.” He was ignoring you, chatting with whoever was on the line as he looked over the manuscript on the table. “Devrions-nous mettre en place quelque chose pour la semaine prochaine?”
Ransom rolled his hips as he adjusted his seated position and you lost it, climbing on top of him and spreading yourself over his thighs while you buried your face in his neck.
“Hang up, now.” You purred in his ear, gripping his hair and wrenching his head back so you could scrape your teeth over his jaw.
“Je vais devoir vous rappeler.” He murmured into the receiver before tossing the phone on the table and wrapping his arms around you. “Bonjour mon ange.”
“Salut toi.” You purred, pressing your chest to his and grinding into his crotch. “Putain de salaud.”
His laugh was rich with mirth as he brought his hands to cup your breasts, tilting his head back to let you suck a bruise against his throat.
“Tu parles français?” He cooed, unhooking your bra and drawing it down your shoulders so he could roll your nipples through his fingers.
“Juste assez.” You dipped your hands between the two of you and worked frantically to undo his fly. “Maintenant donne-le moi.”
“Jesus fuck!” He hissed when you finally freed his cock and immediately sank down on him, your pussy fluttering wildly as you stretched around his girth.
“Ah, en français.” You scolded, starting to bounce on on his dick as pleasure gathered in your core.
“Tu es tellement belle.” He bent forward and buried his face in your tits, mouthing gently at the slopes of your breasts as he murmured soft praises against your skin. “J'ai tellement manqué cette chatte, chérie.”
“Besoin de votre putain de bite si mauvais.” You were so fucking close, grinding against him desperately as his tongue laved over your nipple. “Merde, je viens.”
“Fais-le.” Ransom scraped his teeth up your throat and nipped at your jaw. “Faire un gâchis partout sur ma bite.”
You screamed as every muscle in your body seized before you fluttered around him, a wave of pleasure radiating from your core until you were sobbing into his neck.
“Fais chier.” He hissed into your hair and pressed you into his lap as his cock throbbed, his hips stuttering until he was filling you up and painting your walls in white heat.
The two of you sagged against each other in exhaustion, panting into the other’s shoulder and groaning as you came down.
“God, I fucking needed that.” You sighed, turning your head to tuck into his neck and nipping at him softly.
“Yeah.” His hands came to rest on your hips as he leaned back in his chair. “Wait, did I just win?”
You moaned when his chest started rumbling in disbelieving laughter, his lips pressing to your hair while he wound his arms around your waist.
“Oh, shit! Baby, this must be killing you.” He was grinning like an idiot as you tilted your head up to glare at him. “I know you fucking hate losing.”
“Je te nique ta race sale fils de chien.” You snarled at him, hissing when he just started laughing harder.
“Language, sweetheart!” He nuzzled against your cheek and you grumbled in annoyance. “What a sore loser.”
Your thighs were coated in slick as you sat down in the pew next to Ransom, the vibrator rubbing right against your clit and g-spot as you tried to find a good position to sit in.
He was a little annoyed. When he’d shoved the vibrator and butt plug inside you this morning, he was really looking forward to watching you squirm while he edged you for the whole service. But you apparently had the fucking self control of a zen master, only giving him a couple of deep breaths when he would up the intensity.
You bit your lip when he did it again, crossing your legs slowly as you leaned back in the pew and opened your hymnal. Ransom scowled when he saw Richard staring at your bare legs, wishing he had been able to come up with an excuse when his father had insisted on sitting next to you. He wrapped his arm around you and pulled you closer to him, tucking your head into his shoulder as you gave him a happy sigh.
“C’mon honey, don’t you want to let go?” He murmured under the sound of the rest of the congregation singing along with the choir, turning up the vibration again and grinning when you finally gave him a small wriggle. “Bet that pussy is so fucking wet right now. You gonna stain your pretty dress, gorgeous?”
“God, Ran.” You whined when he copped a quick feel of your breast, uncrossing your legs and slowly grinding your hips into the pew as you felt a warm coil gathering in your stomach. “It feels so good.”
“Yeah? You just love having both your holes filled, don’t you?” He nuzzled into your hair and purred when you gave him a soft moan of agreement. “Fuck, I hate not being able to touch you. It’s killing me.”
“Really?” The grin you gave him was wicked, and he groaned when you arched your back so your tits almost popped out of your dress. “You wanna feel my tits in those big hands of yours while I come all over this pew?”
“Don’t you start with that shit, honey, or I’m gonna lose it.” His voice was low and laced with warning, his cock starting to harden as he watched your breath hitch. “So goddamn filthy. You close?”
“I’m so close.” You whispered, burying your face in his chest with a whine when he turned the intensity up one more time. “Jesus, Ransom.”
He grunted softly when you dug your fingers into his thigh and swallowed a scream, your body going board stiff as your tried to cover the fact that you were overtaken with ecstasy. Your pussy started fluttering and you felt your release soak your thighs, a shudder traveling up your spine.
“Shit! Ransom!” He blinked himself out of his daze when you slapped his chest, your eyes bugging out of your head as you hissed at him. “It fell out.”
“What fell out?” It was taking him a little bit to come back to himself after watching you fall apart, but when he realized what you were saying he sat up with a jolt. “What?!”
The people sitting around you gave you questioning stares at his small outburst, thankfully able to put them off with a couple of murmured apologies. Except Linda, who stared daggers at you for a couple of seconds before turning back to watch the sermon.
“Be quiet, Hugh.” You growled, squeezing your thighs together and shifting your seat as you did your best to keep the vibrator from rolling off the pew. “And fucking turn it off! It just slipped out when I came.”
“Oh my god, I told you to wear panties.” He scolded you, trying to hold in his laughter at the absurdity of the situation. “You get so fucking wet, this was bound to happen.”
“Shut up!” You were never going to hear the end of this. “Hand me my damn purse.”
He did his best to slide it to you subtly, biting his lip to hold back the hysteria that was threatening to bubble from his chest. You just shot him a look of pure poison when you took it from him, holding it on your lap and waiting for a good moment to make your move.
The preacher instructed the congregation to bow their heads in prayer and you sighed in relief, shoving your hand under your skirt and grabbing the vibrator to toss it into your purse. Ransom just sat back in the pew and grinned at you, rubbing his nose over your cheek when you leaned into his shoulder with a relaxed hum.
“If I hear anything about this on the ride home, I’m going to kill you, Hugh.”
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@drabblewithfrannybarnes @stargazingfangirl18@jack-skellingtons-stuff@chrissquares@msmarvelwrites@sweeterthanthis@gotnofucks@ozarkthedog@thefallenbibliophilequote@a-little-counter-esperanto @cockslut-padalecki @afriendlyblackhottie
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Eren x Reader (WoC) 18+
Summary: The ocean sends you a man stuck to a piece of driftwood, and he knows you in a way you don’t know yourself.
Chapter 6 Content: Smut, romance, bitterly soft Eren, lots and lots and lots of angst, mentions of pregnancy, violence, blood, death (not main character). This chapter goes hard so be warned.
Masterlist here // Poem in this Chapter: Recreation by Audre Lord
At first you didn't know what to expect. It was only two weeks, only 14 days you could cling to. Would you go back to that quiet, aching tension of an elongated mourning? You were terrified of it being nothing but an long goodbye, that your last days would be laden with grey and tears.
But then the first morning, Eren laughed.
It broke the silence of the cabin like shattering glass, making you start from your cocoon of blankets. You sprung to your feet, spurred by the bewilderment coursing through your veins. The sound was fleeting, foreign. But sweet enough to make your stomach flip.
"You have a dumb cat." He gestured to Pekoe, who was glaring grumpily from a mess of ribbon she had snatched from your vanity.
She spent more time in the cabin now, seeming to like his presence as much as you did. Eren knelt down to help her free, and as you listened quietly, you could hear him tease her, soft and playful under his breath. A lock of hair escaped his messy bun, falling to stroke along his cheek bone. Pekoe chittered a thank you before darting out the door, off to find a more interesting meal. Eren pushed the hair back as he straightened, watching the cat leave with a small smile.
Was it even possible to love him anymore than you already did? He turned to you, and his smile widened when he noticed the adoration in your eyes.
It was. It truly was.
He showed you more, he showed you softer. Unfamiliar songs hummed deep in his chest as you lay upon it, body bruised with his love. Playful swats and pushes, snatching away a book to make you chase him through the yard. Though it was an unwilling time, it was one that he threw himself into.
Because even if it hurt him to admit, he wanted this. This soft domestic life, you. He wanted it with every fiber in his tortured being, perhaps even worse than you did.
It came at a cost, as everything did.
The nightmares swarmed, tenfold, twentyfold. They snuck through the cracks in the door, slid in through the window and rappelled down moonbeams to alight upon his brow and make him cry out in pain as he attempted to sleep. His back would arch unnaturally from the bed, mouth open into a silent scream of unimaginable pain. Other nights he would lay as still as a corpse, tears streaming down his pale cheeks. He would awaken with a single gasp of, "no," before turning over and burying his face in whatever part of you was closest. Those nights hurt the most.
But worst was the night you reached across the bed to a cavernous absence. You would have rathered the thrashing, the tears, the soft pleading of, "You need to, 'kasa," that woke you from slumber, opposed to this. For a breathless moment he had never disembarked the ship. That moment took hold of you, sent you plummeting into a void that you hadn't noticed your feet dangling over.
And then you saw the fire, low but living. And the shadowed figure leaned heavily in the armchair. You swallowed the memories of waking up to your father, brow beaten and sullen, in the same position. At least he was still there.
Eren shifted, head lolling on his shoulder to look back at you. His eyes were bloodshot, but still glinted like pine trees after the rain. You were out of bed, drawn to him.
"Did I wake you?" He murmured as you drew closer, standing between him and the fire. You casted him in your shadow, hiding him away.
There were things out there that sought him, you could feel it.
You let him draw you into his lap, straddling his lean thighs as you cradled his head against your chest.
"No." You answered, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. "Can't sleep?" It was your turn to ask obvious questions, and his to attempt mendacious nothings for comfort.
"’Lot on my mind." He whispered against your breasts, fingers pressing themselves down into your brown thighs. He smoothed his hands up and down your legs, reaching from the crevice under your knees to the rise of your ass. It was soothing for both of you. You rocked back against him slightly, letting the swell of your ass meet his palms. He gave a slow squeeze of appreciation, but when you lifted his chin, his eyes were still far away. He wore this look more and more often. You had seen it before as he deduced the best way to fix the coop or scale a tree. But never this intense, never this somber.
He was planning. Something complex, something that hurt to think of.
"Stop that." You whispered, squeezing his cheeks together with your palms. His brows knit as he stared up at you.
"Thinking." You were upon him like the tide, lips gentle but determined tongue searching for a way to make him a blank slate, ready for your etchings. Your fingers found where his muscles knotted around his fear, buried deep in his broad back. You kneaded them, eliciting soft grunts of pleasure that rose into your mouth like freshly baked bread. He rose with them, his large hands pressing down on you to greet his growing member with the warmth between your legs. His fingers made similar kneading patterns, pressing deep into your ass.
There, you thought with a sick sense of pride. You could pull him back from the abyss with just your body and your lips.
When you withdrew, a single spiderweb of saliva connecting your lips, his face was alive with need. It skipped across the blush growing in his cheeks, it made his eyes glint like vermillion. When he exhaled it was your name glancing off his lower lip, coming to rest in your core like a burning ember.
He thrust up against you once, movements languid. He held himself there as you sighed happily into his open mouth. Then he dragged his hard bulge across the linen crotch that had become damp with your desire. The slick only grew as you met his desperate bucks with your gliding hips.
You teased him until he was panting, fingers almost a part of your ass with the depths they squeezed to. But the playful strokes became torturous for you as well, making you soak him completely through both layers of clothes. With an annoyed grunt at being kept waiting, Eren yanked down his pants, his thick cock springing out to smack against the crotch of your panties once more.
Before you could breathe you were exposed to the air, the tear of fabric fading into the dark of the cabin. He tossed aside the now ruined garment, his kisses taking a triumphant lilt. His hand slid from the plush of your thigh downwards, following the curve until the pads of his fingers found where you dripped from.
He slid a long finger in, making you hiss with pleasure and grip his shoulders. Another finger, and he pulled you closer with just that hand. They weren't in you for long, enough for a few deep pumps before you angled your hips away, hand coming between your bodies to find where he throbbed.
With a jut and a moan he was inside you, and you sunk down upon him like a setting sun. Eren's head was thrown back in pleasure, pressing against the stiff material of the chair. His dark lashes twitched with pleasure as he bottomed out in you, the confines of the armchair making your walls tight as they were supple. You took him into the dark of you, over and over again.
“Hide here.” You whispered against his jaw as it tightened, holding back moans. Lose yourself here, think of nowhere but here.
He held your hair like a lifeline, fingers pulling at the strands each time you'd lift to the tip of his cock. When you'd slide back down, letting gravity aid you in working his shaft, he would meet you with a groan and yank.
Some sounds were softer than the crackle of the fire, others loud, tearing from his throat. Entwining with yours in the shadows, bringing a different kind of light upon the room. Your bodies created feelings that would haunt your dreams for lifetimes, euphoria so thick you could drink it. And it rose with every thrust, with every shiver of your hips.
"You're... A fucking goddess..." He panted, brows upturned and teeth almost tearing open his lower lip. One hand was pushing back his dark hair, slick with sweat, so he could stare up at your face unhindered, while the other was seizing your ass, absorbing the vibrations of every time you bounced.
"The way your skin looks right now..." he dragged his hand down your arm, moving it up again once more to cup your cheek. The fire kissed you gold where it could, making the rich brown of your skin look even more precious. "God, I could live in you."
Your lips crashed against his as the movements became sloppier, the sloshing filling the room. The fabric underneath you was soaked through, your body creating rivers for him. The shadows you casted danced about, violent upon the still wood of the walls. A show of your desperation, your devotion to him, like the animals you used to create with your hands. Now you use your body, head thrown back in ecstasy and fingers holding him together by his shoulder blades.
Your love for him grew, and grew, the fire inside you grew and grew. Your hands were moving erratically, grasping at the head rest behind him or his arms, digging into his chest and dragging down. Your mouth was wild upon him too, suckling intently on his collarbone as the bruise grew large, like a jewel lake swollen with rain.
But while you all but flailed on top of him, body past the point of elegance and poise and now animalistic in its desperation, he watched you. His eyes were attached to you as he grasped at your body, trying to pull you even closer.
If you opened your eyes, you would have seen the adoration in his gaze, the unadulterated longing and love. He looked at you as one looks at the first bud heralding spring. He treasured you, with his lips and hands and cock. But he never tore his eyes away from your face. His green gaze became heavy lidded when he began to fill you, defined hips thrusting through the air to plug you shut as he shot rope after rope of his thick white cum into your willing hole. His eyes finally closed when in response you came, your walls clenching upon him as you collapsed in his arms.
When you looked back to him now, a veneer of contentment made his eyes dark. You barely had enough strength to pull him to bed, thighs trembling with exertion.
He laid back heavily, arms immediately coming up to ask for you in his silent way. You laid your head over the marks you had just made, feeling the burn of skin. Your legs twisted with him and the discarded covers, too warm to cover skin.
You expected him to fall asleep immediately, a trait you had picked up on after the plethora of times you had finished him. But he remained on the edge of alert, clinging to consciousness as he lazily kissed along your head.
"Do you have a poem?" He asked softly, voice as thick as the down in your pillow. He asked every night, even if you forgot.
Your bookshelf was too far away, and you wracked your brain for something you had committed to heart. Your eyes traced back to your intertwined legs. They reminded you of roots, twisted and furled. Interwoven so tight that they only way to separate would mean a break.
it is easier to work
after our bodies
paper and pen."
Your voice was husky when you began it, and you took a moment to cough.
Eren had gone still, listening intently. He was enraptured, arms hanging loose about you as if to not hinder your words.
" neither care nor profit
whether we write or not
but as your body moves
under my hands
charged and waiting
we cut the leash"
You lifted yourself slightly as you spoke, hands trailing up his broad chest to stroke along the strong neck that held up his beautiful head. You traced a line across it, and felt him rise against you once more. This made you dip your head, speaking the next words to his Adam's apple.
"You create me against your thighs." His twitched in response, the musculature shivering from just your voice. You spared a glance upward to see a slack jaw, a tongue stroking across his lower lip followed by teeth.
" hilly with images
moving through our word countries
writes into your flesh
you make of me."
He was listless under you now, shifting and repositioning. You knew what would come after the last verse and you savoured each word as it dropped from your mouth. You knew he would make you pay for the wait, but you didn't mind that.
"Touching you I catch midnight
as moon fires set in my throat "
You reached down to touch the soft skin, blessed by the moon’s kiss. He illustrated beauty, he became every poem you have ever heard.
"I love you flesh into blossom
I made you
and take you made
And you did take him, finding him inside of you before you could even realise.
After that, he slept soundly.
He was still sleeping when you awoke, and you savoured the rare experience. After admiring the kaleidoscope that the window frame burst across his skin, you began to prepare for a quick trip into town. Though it pained you to be away from him, your supplies were running dangerously low.
You tried to dull the clinking of the jars as you lowered them into your basket. Your hand faltered on a jar of ground fenugreek you had prepared for Jessamine. It would aid with milk production, allowing the chubby little thing to grow even more. But the thought of breasts made you think of the soreness that had been growing in your own.
You glanced back at the sleeping figure. His hair had twisted on his forehead, and his lips slightly parted as a breath whistled past them. That you could probably attribute to his obsession with your breasts. You glanced down to the cleavage that showed, the soft landscape deepened by the bite marks he had left just that night.
But another thing that worried you was the lack of blood stains on your bedsheets.
You tried to count back your cycle, distress making the numbers cloudy in your head.
You used your fingers, but no matter how many times you repeated it, the results were the same.
You were late.
You had been late before, even as an untouched virgin. But something about this time made your heart sink.
"What are you packing for?" Came a half asleep husk of a voice from the mess of your bed. You looked over to see Eren's bleary gaze fighting through his heavy eyelids. He threw an arm out towards you, and immediately you were by his side, sitting on the edge of the bed so he could capture your waist in a tight embrace.
"Running away from you." You said, a playful upswing to your voice as you stroked his bed head.
"Not funny." Came the growl, as he bit the flesh of your hip in response. You yelped, making him hold you tighter and grin devilishly against you.
"You're incorrigible. I'm going to town for a quick bit, and you should be heading to the chicken coop. You're missing all your chores." He groaned good naturedly and you stood before he could nip you again. He was out the door soon, after an extended good morning kiss that wiped your mind blank.
You felt warm again, and stupid. You were just overthinking, over worrying as was your nature. You packed the rest of the jars and turned to grab your coat, catching yourself in the mirror. You paused for a moment, placing a hand on your stomach and feeling for something. There would be a change, wouldn't there?
Overworrying. That's it.
The sun flickered a greeting at you as the door opened. But you could not return it, instead focusing on Eren who knelt in the middle of the yard, an unreadable expression on his face. He looked up at you, jaw set but eyes perturbed.
"It broke its wing."
You tore your eyes away from his and looked to his hands. He had a small cardinal cupped, and it tweeted indignantly, broken wing twitching in a way that made you wince.
"Can I use that crate for it? I'll try to splint it, and it can have some of the chicken feed." He rose quickly, but careful. "It's young, it'll heal. Won't you?" His thumb smoothed back the red above the bird's midnight mask, and it tittered nervously. He looked sheepish when you caught the movement, straightening his face back into the stoic mask. "I did this once before, with one I found as a child... With Mikasa. I can help it."
You kissed him as best as you could without crushing the small thing. It caught him off guard and he leaned into it, steadying himself.
He loved so earnestly, what had made him hide it so?
"Of course. Use the crate, anything. I'll help when I come back?" You whispered against his jaw, fingers tight on the fabric of his shirt to hold him in place.
"Be quick. Dunno if I'll make it if you're not." He was smirking when you kissed him once more, noticing the soft sigh that his banter brought. You felt love sick as you turned away, knowing that his eyes followed your hips like ivy across exposed brick.
You did your rounds with a soft smile. The spirits were high in the village, the bright sunshine reflecting in crinkled eyes and tipped hats. The Baker slipped an extra loaf with a laugh, and you even treated yourself to new fabric that a woman had been hawking from her worn down stall. She had been hiding it away for years she promised, but look! It calls to you. You grasped the silken green, letting it slide through your fingers. It looked as though someone had pressed pine trees into silk.
You bought enough yards for a simple dress, shrugging off the extra purchase. Treating yourself was a rare occurrence, but for some reason you didn't mind. If you worked fast you could have it done soon, and Eren could peel off your hard work after he admired it.
You felt brave enough to even brave Elias' open aired store. You approached with a careful smile, and a low nod of your head. Usually this demure greeting was enough to garner a grunt and paper wrapped salmon, but this time your dark eyes met nothing but cold.
He was stone behind the stall, arms crossed in front of him. You could see the grey hair that crosshatched his skin, the plethora of scars from fish hooks gone awry or fast running ropes. They seemed foreboding.
"I'm sorry for troubling you-" you began, unsure as to why you even cared about appeasing this man and his hardset mouth. To Hell with him and all, but still. It hurt.
For a moment you almost pleaded. It caught in your throat like a belt loop upon a drawer, making you jerk back and your face turn hot.
For what, you scolded yourself. Begrudging fish that would taste like shame?
He regarded you coldly, chewing upon his cheek. You hoped he would bite through.
"Nothing but trouble, in fact." He whispered, the voice fighting its way through wiry grey beard hair. It dropped on your skin like snowflakes, and you wished you had worn your coat. "Bring nothing but trouble."
You bit back a retort when you noticed the tremor in his hand. Whether it was anger or fragility, it was enough to remind you of how pathetic he was. To be so overcome by nothing, nothing at all.
With a slow breath you turned away, finding your steps measured and firm. You didn't spare a glance back, but knew he would be following you like a bullet seeking flesh.
Perhaps you wouldn't make salmon tonight. Maybe a roast was on the menu.
You were at the butcher's before you knew it, your feet taking you to the hopes of a kind face. Maybe you'd be lucky and Jessamine would be there, baby tucked upon her back. But instead you were greeted by Mathias's wide eyes, and his face paling like the skin of the carcasses around him. It was his usual greeting now.
"Morning!" You greeted, fixing a bright smile on your face. "Your mother not in?"
"No, took sister out across town." He replied, and you noticed he moved to the bacon, grabbing your usual amount. It was a small gesture, that he had memorized your order. It wasn't as though he had many to commit, but you tried to hold onto the moment of kindness.
"I'll actually take a bit extra, if that's okay." You chewed your lower lip for a moment, but still the words slipped past. "Elias. He refused to sell to me today. So I'm going to be needing to stock up on things to replace the fish.”
Mathias paused for a moment, his eyes slowly rising to meet yours despite his body remaining completely still. He looked stricken. But he added the extra bacon, and silently began to slice it. You tried not to wince at the uneven thickness. He was clumsier than usual.
You watched him prepare the order, adding more when you asked him. You found yourself watching his face more than his hands, drawn to the agitation. He was pale, eyes darting about to snatch glances at your expression before guiltily jumping away. He looked tired, darkened circles under his cheeks and despite his nervousness you could tell his movements as lethargic.
"Long nights?" You asked, making him start and almost slice his finger with the large blade. "I know the baby hasn't been sleeping well." You clutched at your basket suddenly. "Oh yes, I brought this for your mom. She mentioned the baby not eating well." You pulled out the fenugreek. "She should add these to whatever she eats or drinks, if she can stomach it."
He took it from you silently, staring at the powder.
"And..." You rooted around for a moment longer before pulling out a small jar of infused honey. It glinted like gold as you passed it over the counter top.
"Chamomile infused. Have some in milk before bed. I was supposed to sell it to Mrs. Halstead but..." You shrugged. "I have lots of honey now that I have someone who can climb trees for me." Your finger pressed against the wicker basket, letting the fibers cut into your skin. It felt like a sin, speaking of him out loud. "I was always afraid of heights." You bit back the soft smile that crossed your face. You'd be fine with the devil taking you, if that was the case.
The crash of the jar breaking startled you from your soft reverie. Within a moment Mathias had lunged across the counter, his face mottled with a violent red flush and eyes brimming. It made the blue of his iris swim to look at you through an ocean of regret.
"Take him and hide. Run. Steal the Aleckson's boat, I don't know." His grip was already calloused despite his age, and it bruised your forearms.
You focused into the feel of his scars, trying to find a path back to reality because his words made you feel as though you were drifting far, far away. But his desperation was a tether, making you shake so hard you thought your teeth would shatter and lodge themselves in the meat.
You ran so fast you felt like you were flying. The fabric you had bought earlier whipped from your basket, streaming out behind you like the tail of some great beast.
The sand was a cloud behind you as your heels kicked it towards the sky, any faster and you would have blocked out the sun. Your foot stomped down upon a piece of driftwood, the heel of your boot catching between two branches and snapping. You let out a sob of exasperation, throwing yourself to the ground to kick off the offending shoes. They remained in the surf as you continued your full pelt run.
By the time you made it to the door your feet were bruised and bleeding. They were the first thing he looked at when the door flew open, as though he could feel where your pain radiated from.
"Y/n-" He pushed himself back from the table where he had been watching the cardinal, now nestled in a small box. Before he could continue, you had thrown yourself into his arms, finally finding a safe space to crumble.
"He told them Eren, he told. I don't know who but they're coming." Eren's arms were loose around you, his body stilled with shock. "Tonight." He tightened his grip, and you could hear a grunt of pain low in his throat.
"I'm sorry, y/n." He whispered hoarsely. "I should have just gone."
"Shut up." You hissed, pressing his chest with the flat of your hand. "You're not allowed to- not right now. Right now pack." You pulled away, worried that if you spent any longer in his arms you'd meld together. "Pack and hide in the forest. I'll get the Aleckson's boat and bring it to the beach."
You wiped the tears away, flicking them to the floor. He caught your wrist and kissed the wetted tips of your finger.
"Didn't you say that one wouldn't make it to shore?"
You released your hand from his grasp moving to gather whatever precious things you could spare. An old gold watch, some money that you could bear to take away from Eren, ruby earrings that you could never have the chance to wear. "I don't think we will. But we'll have to try."
Before he could object to your use of "we" you were out the door. Your once familiar and comforting island felt like a cage, and you beat your wings against it as you ran through the forest. Your lungs burned in protest, overworked and tired, but you didn't care. You'd use up every last molecule of oxygen in the crisp air, let the plants wither and people gasp.
As long as he was far, far away.
You threw yourself over the bare bones fence that marked their property line and could hear the hum of the ocean once more, and the creak of their dock. For a moment you thought of a blue unhindered by a rocking boat, a rope lain unused upon the wood of the dock.
Perhaps they loaned it to one of the dozens of others who friended for the use of a boat. There would be no escape, no-
You sobbed with relief when you broke through the treeline and saw the pathetic thing bobbing like a child's toy. It was smaller than you remembered, the quilt of its patched wood making you feel sick.
You glanced towards the house, and your heart loosened a bit to see their curtains drawn. Though you wished you could have done this properly, begged at their feet and offered them ten times its weight in gold, there was no time. Instead, you placed your offerings beside the dock, writing a sorry in the sand. You hoped they would see it before the tide came in.
You thought grimly to yourself as you jumped heavily into the boat, grabbing onto the thin, splintering oars, that you most likely overpaid. It creaked despairingly, raising complaint at every wave. But, you commanded it through the water, your muscles screaming with exertion as you rowed as fast as you could. You felt as though nothing could be quick enough, but the ocean seemed to move with you.
Maybe those offerings did help.
Soon you were on a familiar beach, water logged as you dragged the boat onto shore. The last thing you wanted was it to drift away. You took a moment to stare out to sea, your chest heaving and body trembling.
You were still barefoot, and with a whispered prayer you dragged your cut foot through the water, letting it taste your blood.
Please. You begged, only to the sea. Please.
You were careful through the forest, searching for his figure concealed somewhere. But there was no sight of him even as you walked into the clearing, only the sound of his saved bird chirping delicately from its box, now resting on the porch step.
You opened the door to him standing by the window, staring out towards the sky. The coat hung open about him, bag loose on his shoulder. He turned to you wordlessly when you arrived, hair shifting with the wind from the door.
"Is it bad?" He asked, searching your expression for hope.
"We'd be better off in the tub."
His face twitched with annoyance and he took a moment to inhale.
"There's no "we" in this." He said finally, and you could see him steel his jaw for the rebuttal.
"Keep thinking that, gorgeous." You sneered, stalking over to the wardrobe angrily. You began to tear clothes down, appraising them for their durability. This dress would work, and these pants. You threw them onto the bed, planning to find a rucksack of your own. The other garments you let fall unceremoniously to the floor. This wasn't the goodbye you intended for your home, but it had to be.
"Y/n, stop." He was behind you, arm coming forward to stop your hand. "I'm not letting you." You snatched your hand away from his grasp, continuing to grab for sensible trousers. He tried once more, muscular forearm attempting to pin your hand to your side. But you fought still, squirming and evading his grasp until he was forced to turn you around, absorbing as you slapped uselessly against his chest. He held your face in his hands, thumbing away tears that you didn't realise you had been crying.
"Listen. You're going to run back to the village and find Jessamine. Come up with whatever story with her. I forced you to help, threatened you, her son lied, something. She's well liked, right?" He spoke quickly, but firmly. He pressed his lips to your forehead, and you searched for a tremble behind them but he was nothing but the fortitude of stone. "Renounce me. You'll be okay."
"Are you CRAZY?" You spat, your voice quivering. "There's no way, never. I can't ever..." You choked back a wail. "Even if you leave me, I won't. I can't. Go now, I'll just find another way to you."
"No." He clutched your head against his neck. "Stop it, you can't. Y/n I'm not putting you in shackles. Do you know how much more I'd hate myself?" He smoothed your hair back slowly. "To have found you so free, only to cage you?"
"Life with you wouldn't be. You're not a cage." You insisted through your tears, pressing your every inch to him. Couldn't he feel? Couldn't he see it on your lips? You needed him.
He smiled like a bough breaking, you could practically hear as his heart fell to the ground.
"My existence is. And I'm not subjecting you to that." He pulled you towards the door, your heels digging into the wood planks. "Now go. I've made things worse as is, this is your last chance to be able to stay here. I should have left the first time, but we can salvage this."
"I told you. I'm coming with. If I need to, I'll swim." You tried to pull his fingers from your wrist and could see his agitation grow with every word. He whipped around, soft demeanour lost to the growing anger.
"You don't understand." He finally spat out, wheeling around to face you again. His hands clenched and unclenched. "I can keep you safe here, from what's going to happen. But only on this island, only here." He gestured wildly to the ground, more animated than you had ever seen him. You couldn't follow his thoughts.
What was going to happen?
You were nothing but a mess of fear, but even through that, you couldn't handle the regret in his voice. You pulled him by his collar, almost strong enough to rip it, and smashed your lips into his. He kissed you back, fingers curling on the back of your head to cradle you, leaning over you in his desperation to put his whole heart into the kiss.
"No." You whispered, and kissed him harder. He pulled at your hair slightly and you shook your head, biting his lower lip. "I'm going with you, Eren. You're my home now."
A hand went to your stomach, and you swallowed the acknowledgement of what you had been fearing. You needed to tell him, even if it hurt you to know that might be the only reason he took you along. But he needed to know that in your garden grew a piece of him and you needed him to help you tend to it.
"You're not leaving us behind." You whispered.
You could feel him smile against your lips ruefully.
"We can't take the cat, y/n-" He began and you shook your head, frustration mounting as your words seemed to get caught behind your teeth.
"I don't mean the cat." Your heart was a stray bullet in your throat, ricocheting wildy.
Eren stiffened, pulling away slowly. His eyes were narrowed, face paled.
"Then what do you mean?" His eyes flicked to the hand on your stomach, confusion making his eyes narrow. "Y/n-"
Outside the door, in your once peaceful and untouched garden, a gunshot broke the serenity.
Eren leapt towards you, throwing you to the ground to shield your body with his.
Your ears rang with the echo of it, that brutal violence of it. You had never heard something so loud. It faded away, to be replaced by Eren's slow and measured breathing. Your face was pressed against his chest, and you struggled to find his heartbeat, needing the comfort of its tempo. But before you could, a voice called out, making your stomach sink.
"You'd be better to come out now. The next shots will be through the door."
And another voice. Your stomach twisted as you recognized Odo and a younger, wavering tone.
Eren breathed out slowly, and you could feel the air leave his chest. You wanted to push it back in. Instead you pushed him off.
"Wait. Okay. Just wait. I can reason with them." He began to protest but you kissed him silent, quickly moving to the door. You flung it open, making the gathered men jump. There were only five, the leftovers of the military scoop.
Your heart fell when your eyes met Mathias'. He flinched away from your gaze, nervously tucking his old gun further back under his arm. Odo stood beside him, his eyes searching the room behind you. You didn't recognize the two men flanking Elias, but you didn't need to.
Though your body begged with its every fiber to run away, you planted your feet steady. This was your doorstep, your home. Your land, even more so than theirs. You raised your chin before you spoke, watching as they stared at you. What an image you made, with leaves in your dark hair. Your skirt had ripped, revealing the bronze of your thighs bloodied with scratches gifted from the forest. And you dripped ocean water, like some drowned spirit who had wandered from the watery grave.
But fierce, above all, fierce.
"I'm going to ask you to leave once." You were surprised at how firmly your voice rang out, as were the men. "You'd be better to listen to me."
Elias sneered, mouth twisting to spit a yellowed glob at your porch step. Your eyes followed it's arch, but ended on the buckshot ridden top step. It was splattered with cardinal red blood, the young bird Eren had been so careful with laying glassy eyed and mangled. Your stomach lurched into your throat and you swallowed back vomit.
You raised your head once more, looking past Elias and to Odo. He hung back slightly, expression grim. He had no gun of his own, only Mathias did, his arms crossed tightly in front of him and making the fabric of his sleeves strain. You searched his face for some opening, some kindness. For that man who laughed so merrily on that same path he now trespassed. But he offered only a quiet look of disappointment.
"You don't want this." You promised, closing your eyes for a moment to breathe the scent of the forest. It seemed to inhale with you. "You need to leave."
"We will, once you have that scum in a bag." Came the response of one of the men. You had seen him around the village, nodded good day to him. Your mouth turned down at the crassness.
"He's leaving, we both are. Let us go and you'll never be bothered again."
"You had your chance. You think I haven't known what you've been up to?" He leaned forward as he spoke, eyes as sharp as a wolf's. He must have been the one that followed you. "Mathias waited for you to do the right thing, to send him back on that rustbucket of Paolo's." Your eyes shot to Mathias, who seemed to stumble slightly, eyes wide. His father's gun was too big in his hands. "But you didn't. Too in love with that Eldian rutting, bitch?" Odo winced at Elias's jeering. But you remained composed.
Elias didn't like that.
"You're a witch, and you summoned a devil. Now, will he stay hiding behind your skirts or will he face us like the man he pretends to be?"
"You don't understand." You hissed between gritted teeth. Your pleas had failed, and now you could feel Eren's presence behind you like an encroaching cloud bank, heralding an oncoming storm.The tendrils of his being, of the darkness he brought seemed to reach out like physical things. "I'm holding him back."
He stepped from behind you, carefully brushing you to the side. You could see the men tense, Odo quickly pulling Mathias' arm to level the gun at your lover's head.
Eren paid them no mind, his attention turned to the bird's corpse. You could see his mourning in the glint of his eyes, how his mouth twitched sorrowfully.
"Let us pass." Eren said finally, breaking the pregnant pause. He met each man's gaze one by one, finally ending with the boy who shirked under it.
"You're in no position to be making demands, devil. Now move away from her, or we'll shoot you both." Mathias's eyes darted to Elias as the man spat the words, and then back to you. You could see the hesitancy. But before you could say anything Eren was walking down the steps. You stumbled after him, but a look that chilled your blood made your feet stop moving. He gave an aura of midnight black streaked with the neon of warning. He was the hourglass on a black widow's body, the rattle on a snake's tail.
He was the embodiment of danger, and yet they closed around him.
You expected him to halt at the bottom of the porch, or in front of the men, or just to stop at all. But he continued walking, a slow and measured pace. He finally halted inches before Mathias and his gun.
Eren regarded him carefully, head leaned slightly to the side. You couldn't see his face, couldn't see the expression that was making Odo draw tight with fear and regret.
"Well, shoot him!" Odo yelled, making the men start with its sudden noise,but Mathias hesitated.
That was all Eren needed. The shotgun was sent into the sky, and the image of it flying against the sun seared itself into your retina. You knew you would remember it's shape for decades to come.
The gathered broke into sharp yells, the men attempting to throw themselves on Eren as Mathias stumbled back in horror, his childish face twisted in fear. He watched as your Eren weaved between the men, his movements skillful. Here, a thrown punch that connected with a temple, there, a sharp kick that made jaws crack upon impact. Every moment measured, every throw well practiced.
A detached part of yourself whispered that these weren’t the moves trained into eldian grunts. But you didn't have time to dwell, throwing yourself at the nearest man to grab onto his arm and halt a punch.
It was Odo's arm you held, you realised as his head whipped to glare at you.
"Please." You whispered, and his arm fell. It was still for a moment before he grabbed you, pulling you away from the fray. You watched as Eren slammed an elbow into Elias' nose, and heard the bone break like cracks of thunder. You struggled against Odo, beating your hands ruthlessly against his arms, your nails making shreds of his exposed neck and cheek. Mathias watched in horror over his shoulder as he scrambled to collect his gun.
Odo gritted his teeth, pulling you down the path and further away from Eren. The brunette whipped around to see you, letting out a cry of anger and lunging in your direction before being blindsided by a kick to the head. You screamed at the sight, at the way his neck snapped back.
"Stop, y/n!!!" Odo seethed, backing into a tree as his arms encircled your upper torso. His mouth was hot on your ear, and you could feel his adrenaline like it was your own. "Let this happen. Let this happen and you can stay. We can forgive you." He softened slightly, his blonde hair tickling your neck as he seemed to deflate slightly. "I can forgive you. We can salvage something."
"We?" You said incredulously, twisting your neck to stare up into his broad face. It was the wrong tone to take with him, his prideful nostrils flaring as his grip tightened.
"Why? You'll lay with an eldian and not me?" His grip became more threatening, and against your struggle an arm dropped to tighten around your waist, trying to prevent your aid to Eren who despite his superior skills was becoming overwhelmed. He squeezed you, as though popping a pea from a pod.
"Don't touch me!!" The screech tore from your throat as you wrenched yourself away, the renewed vigor and scream making all eyes turn to you. You slid to the ground, indignant sobs making your chest shake as you placed your hands over your stomach. Odo's eyes narrowed, rage mottling blush across his skin. You looked over to Eren, your Eren. With his lip split open and his eyes wide, looking at how you curled around your stomach. His chest seemed to heave in tandem with yours, and you wanted to cry. This shouldn't have been how he found out.
Suddenly you were on your back, staring up at the mockingly blue sky. There was keening, high and sickly, coming from some hurt being. It took you a moment to realise it was you.
He had kicked you. The sharp pain in your abdomen told you as much. And Odo stood over you now, blocking the cerulean sky from view. You couldn't hear what he was saying, but you could feel it. His mouth shaping vitriol that would have turned even Elias' stomach.
The only thing you could hear was Eren, his guttural scream of your name. It came from the pits of his loss, from a place only those left behind could call from.
You craned your neck to look at him, realising he was further away than you remembered. But still he tore into your soul, the madness and grief that had overtaken his face. His jaw almost seemed to unhinge as a roar ripped from his throat. A man clung to his arm, another pulled at his hair so hard you swore you could feel each individual strand tear. Elias laid at his feet, arm twisted disgustingly. There was a movement of wind, and when you looked back to Odo his leg was cocked back.
You didn't know what was going to happen. All you could do was look for the boy, Mathias. He was standing dumbly in the middle of the garden, stepping on your roses. The gun was pointed, but not at Eren or you. At Odo.
You locked eyes with him and mouthed a single "run". He looked confused but you repeated it, louder this time. It startled him, making him drop the shotgun. There was enough time for him to turn, to make it behind the shed.
And then the sky tore open.
A hot bitter wind sent Odo reeling, stumbling to catch his footing, and you could hear the symphony of your windows breaking, of trees cracking, of bones shattering and flesh rending. You closed your eyes against the bite of it, and opened them to a devil standing in the clearing.
His maw was as large as the heavens, filled with sickly sharp teeth and a tongue that lashed against its confines. The monster's long hair twisted in the wind, flying about its shoulders in a way that was wickedly beautiful.
And his eyes. Those were his eyes still. Twisted into something serpentine and predatory, but those were the eyes that opened to yours every morning.
"Eren." You breathed. So that's what he had meant by a devil.
In response he roared, lunging across the now minute distance to grab at a stunned Odo. You watched in horror as muscular fingers encircled the man's body, hearing the crunch of his legs cracking in the tight space. Odo screamed with fear and pain, beating uselessly at Eren's hands as the giant raised him to his mouth. Eren paused, green eyes sliding down to look at you. He leaned forward suddenly, arm outstretched. You didn't flinch as it raced towards you, simply staring back at him. It stopped mere inches away, moving to curl around you in a dome.
He was hiding you.
You sat in the darkness of his hand as the screams ripped through the air. Odo went silent, and then the two other men. Then finally Elias, who cursed to his very last breath.
"I TOLD THEM YOU'D BRING DEATH, I TOLD THEM." He shrieked, before the sound of tearing viscera replaced his screams.
Then there was only silence that began to be slowly spaced by bird song. But Eren's hand did not move.
You reached up to touch the hot calloused skin, pushing slightly. He shifted but did not relent.
"Eren, please." You called, feeling his fingers twitch. "Let me see you."
He grunted in response, the reverberations of his tenor making the ground shake.
But you stayed steady as you stood. Your palms pressed against him, and he raised with you until your arms were outstretched, his hand hovering.
You didn't know if devils could cry. But he was. Fat droplets the size of saplings, trailing down his hollow cheek. You wondered glumly if the salt would ruin what was left of your garden. You couldn't dare look to the side, to the dark of your cabin and the bright of the blood that splattered across it.
His shoulders were trembling, muscular body akin to a leaf in the wind. It was like watching a mountain come undone, and you found yourself reaching for his oversized thumb. He watched you take it, watched as you pulled it against yourself and hugged it tightly.
It wasn't meant to be like this.
He scooped you up carefully, in a manner that reminded you of how you used to collect bugs for examination. Your hair lifted as he began to raise you. This was higher than you had ever been, higher than you had ever dared to dream. He stopped once you were eye level, as though daring you to gaze upon him. And you rose to the dare, searching his face. He smelled like steam. Like something disappearing.
"A titan." You said simply, and he closed his eyes. You had heard of them before, of Eldia's accursed weapons. How could one have ended up on your island? You thought, reaching forward to touch the tip of his nose.
He twitched, features scrunching slightly. You recognized that expression. You pushed back the locks of hair that overcame your face. Moving instead to grab one of his tendrils.
"I love you still." You said finally, twisting the hair around your arm. He opened his eyes, glowing gaze focused on your gentle hands, almost lost in the forest of his oaken locks. You wondered if you could weave a tapestry of him, from him. Or a blanket, to keep you warm in his absence.
But you had a feeling it would always carry the scent of blood. Blood that he shed, for you. Because of you. Your grip tightened.
"I love you still." You repeated, looking into his eyes. "So will you come out now?"
He lowered you carefully, and it took the firmness of the earth to make you realise you didn't truly mind the height of the heavens that much.
There was a loud hiss, like a tea kettle unattended, and then he was there. Standing at the nape of the titan neck, steaming like the day you found him. His hair twisted around him, wild and undone, and his mouth hung open. He panted like a wild man.
He looked like his titan. Or did the titan look like him?
He made his way down carefully, tracing paths he must have taken a million times.
When he stopped before you, you could see the toll that the transformation had taken. Ripped clothes, raw skin on his fingers and hands.
And marks, like serrated fields you'd sow your hope into, tracing the bags under his eyes and up towards his temples. Those were the first things you touched, those tracks that his ancestors had trodden upon his face. He caught your wrist when you were mere centimeters away, mouth pulled into a hard line. But after a breath, he pressed his cheek into your hand, mouth parting for a shaky sigh.
"Is it true?" He whispered, pulling you against him by your waist. His hands slid forward, resting on your lower stomach. You swallowed, nodding slightly.
The dam of his face broke, and he fell to his knees in front of you, clutching at your wet skirt. His face was buried in you, entire body shuddering. It took you a moment to realise he was kissing your stomach, over and over, pushing up your blouse to find your skin.
"I didn't think... I didn't see- I couldn't. A baby." He looked up at you, and for a moment you saw what he would have looked like in another life where joy was more than just a silken thread that threatened to snap. "Our baby." His green eyes danced with a bitter joy. "I'll be a father." His eyes fluttered closed now, and he pressed his lips to your stomach once more. There the silent tears dropped, and you held him as mourning mixed with his celebration.
You combed your fingers through his unruly hair, unable to form a smile of your own.
This wasn't how it was supposed to be.
"We have to go, y/n. I'm going to get our bag. Please don't turn around."
You could do nothing but stand still holding his face against your growing stomach and trying to ignore the scent of death. You remained a statue as he stood, worried a single movement would send you crashing to the ground like an ill formed block tower.
He was gone for a moment, cottage door banging twice to signal his entry and exit.
He returned to your eyeline, touching your cheeks gently. He seemed to understand, kissing your forehead before he picked you up, an arm under your legs and another supporting your back. You curled against him, his broken little bride. But now he carried you further and further away from the home you once shared.
You thought about looking over his shoulder, a last glance at the garden you had cultivated and the doorstep where you had grown. You had clung so tightly to that small house, afraid that if you left the last place your father knew you to be, he would never find you again. But now it didn't seem to matter. So instead you looked to him, your Eren.
You could hear his heartbeat, the steady drum of it as he picked his way through the forest and down to the beach. It was calm, barely faster than when he rested. As if what had happened was routine, as normal as chopping wood.
How could Marley have let one of their weapons get away? It turned your heart to think of him like that. You didn't hear about any warriors being on the ship that was demolished, though. You wracked your brain for the names of the current Warriors, but you had never paid them much mind, finding the thought of them darkening your already troubled days. You looked up at Eren's sharp jaw, tracing the hollow of his throat with your eyes.
Unless he wasn't Marley's weapon.
Your hand tightened on his shirt and he looked down at you, eyes somber. He knew you were thinking, putting together the puzzle pieces he had slowly uncovered. And now it was as though the table had been thrown, scattering the pieces to the ground to spell out his shape.
But you couldn't form it with your lips, you couldn't call to his true nature.
He crossed the beach with long strides, the ocean spray kissing his skin till it was dewy. It made the blood run, and highlighted how he steamed. His wounds were almost entirely healed now, the split in his lip nothing but a fast fading scar.
Now even that made sense. He never really needed your nursing, did he? You felt almost embarrassed, how he must have laid there while you tended to him, knowing he would heal faster without your interference. But then you remembered the looks he gaveyou as you passed him medicine or replaced a wrap.
No, it meant the world to a man who was fast losing his own.
He placed you in the boat, giving you a kiss that was gentle as a tear, before beginning to push it into the waves. You knew he saw the state of it, saw the edges of his mouth curl down even more. When he saw the expression on your face he reached a hand out, stroking your cheek. His touch left your cheek wet, and the salt stung at a small cut that marred your beautiful brown skin.
"I'll transform when we're out to sea. The boat can go on my stomach, and if it gets too bad I'll carry you somehow." He paused to touch you again, as though making sure you were real.
Then he continued his pushing, climbing aboard once the ocean took over. He stood at the bow of the small boat, facing out towards the sea. The wind whipped the coat, and tousled his already véritable nest of hair. He breathed deeply before dropping the backpack and turning to you. "I can swim now, we'll be okay." He tried to smile at you, and you felt as though you were watching a puppet being contorted. For a second you saw the strings falter, and one of his knees gave out. He fell to the floor of the boat, catching himself on the side as it lurched wildly. You crawled towards him, and he watched as you touched his calf, then his cheek, and then drew him into your arms.
"You don't hesitate." He whispered. "You saw what I did, what I am. And still." He sounded awed.
"I'd do the same." You whispered fiercely into his ear. "And I wouldn't hesitate then either. If that makes you a monster," you drew back to kiss him. "Then I am too."
"You're not." He responded, but returned the kiss with the same fervor. "I know you could never be."
"I still feel as though I know nothing about you." You admitted, and he nodded despite the downturn of his mouth taking a forlorn hue. "Like every time I learn something new, you add another layer." You poked his chest half heartedly. "Dunno if I'm ever gonna get in there."
He clutched your hand to him, shaking his head frantically. "You're here. You're here, already. I promise." He seemed to search your face for a way to prove it. But you didn't ask for it, for him. You never could.
Eren sat back on the creaky seat, a sigh escaping his soft pink lips. He grabbed the oars, and after a bit of orienting began to row at a brisk pace. You simply turned, watching the receding beach disappear upon the horizon.
You hoped Pekoe would be okay. You hoped Jessamine would forgive you, and Mathias would heal. You wondered if you would ever be back. If you'd ever want to come back. Your hands moved to your stomach. It would have been a nice place to raise a child, all things considered.
You'd have the baby within the year, raise it alongside Jessamine's child. They would have the most beautiful dark skin, and bright joyful eyes. You'd teach them to swim together with Eren, who would be the father you had dreamed of having.
You looked up at him now, Eren. who was regarding you tiredly.
You couldn't speak much as he rowed on, simply watching as his face changed colours with the sun. You could see where he turned red, where the skin wanted to peel but healed immediately.
Once you were a safe distance into the ocean, he dove off the side. You followed his figure with your eyes as you rowed away, far out of the reach of the storm he called with his transformation. It felt wrong to see him so small amongst the waves. You felt the urge to pull him back in.
But then he raised a hand to his mouth and bit, and it was as though heaven struck him. The water exploded, sending the boat rocking dangerously. You clung to it as the lightning faded from the sky.
And then the being, once more.
His serpentine eyes glowering over the waves as he flipped onto his back. He lifted the boat with ease, settling it onto his well defined abdomen.
And then he swam, like you had seen him so many times before. You thought back to the way his chestnut hair floated, how his chin jutted insolently from the water. So much like the scene in front of you now, but darker in so many ways.
He swam for what felt like hours, moving through the water with conviction. You'd make it to shore faster than you originally thought, perhaps even by morning. But the sun was setting, and his movements became lethargic.
As you began to worry about how he would maneuver out of the titan, a rocky outcropping came into view. It was small for his gargantuan body, but he climbed onto it adeptly, looking like something from a tale of warning you whisper to children about sea beasts. The sun silhouetted the scene, the crouched monster and the man bursting from his nape.
You rowed over to him as he climbed down the steaming body, hopping into the boat. The boat made its way from the now disingretating titan as Eren settled into the boat, gaze contemplative. He opened the threadbare bag, pulling apart some bread for a meager meal. Despite all your insistence on you coming with him, you never packed enough for two.
You ate till the sun went down, looking out over the endless sea. It was calm, calmer than you had ever seen it. The multitudes of stars were only expanded upon, reflected in the glittering sea. You reached down to offer it a bit of your bread, thanking for the easy journey and entreating for its grace just a bit longer.
He sat across from you, on the floor of the boat, with his back resting against the bow. When he caught you looking, he opened his arms.
You obliged, sliding into his lap and resting your back against his chest. You looked out over the water and the world, feeling as though you were the only beings alive.
How you wished you were.
It had always felt like that, even a little bit. From the moment you pulled him into your cabin, the only way it worked was if nothing else existed. Only him and you.
A sick part of you wished for the world to burn.
His arms encircled you, resting on your stomach.
"I don't have a poem for tonight." You began, but he cut you off with a gentle kiss on the shoulder.
"It's my turn."
You tried to look at him but he held you tighter. His thumb stroked across your stomach slowly as he took a breath.
"I don't have any poems, but I can tell you a story."
The moon seemed to lean in to listen, the world stilling even further.
"My name is Eren Jaeger." He began. It stole your breath, that alone.
Jaeger. He never really was a stranger, not really. You had known him in the deepest part of yourself, but now you'd know. Know truly.
But why now, you wanted to ask. It almost scared you. You looked down to your stomach. Was that the name your baby would bear? Jaeger.
Eren pressed his chin against your shoulder, head leaned forward. When he spoke, it was as though he was weaving the past as it came to the tongue, as though he had been afraid to dwell on it until now.
"My mother was named Carla, she was eaten by a Titan when I was 10. My father's name was Grisha. I killed him when I was 12." He took a deep breath to steady himself.
"I was born on an island you know as Paradis."
And then he unwound himself for you.
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All the Trashy Novels Part 27
It’s more smut.
Part 1...Part 26
Zelda did not answer the door for Link's quiet knock. She did not answer the door when a steward came to deliver her lunch or when a currier came to invite her for dinner. At that point, Link knocked again, and Zelda decided that the best course of action was to use a rope in her office to rappel down the side of the tower, slip into a tunnel, and plop herself under the bridge to Castle Town, where she could stare down into the water with her head in her hands.
It made sense that the Goddess hated her. She'd been actively disrespectful lately. Pretending to pray. Reading smutty novels aloud at her feet. She apparently even convinced Link to stop praying. And then there was the sword. She'd been openly derisive of the sword and everything it stood for. Because if she were to believe the Sheikah when they comforted her, saying that clearly her sealing power was not yet needed and that was why she didn't have it, then how did they explain that Link needed the Master Sword? And then there was Link. She'd been absolutely awful to him. Trying to embarrass him. Getting him flustered and then abandoning him to deal with it, because she thought it would be funny. He liked her and she'd treated him like garbage. Why on earth did he like her? He was either masochistic or deluded, because she was in no way worth it.
She curled over her knees, wrapping her arms around her legs.
The sun set, and she didn't move. The fireflies came out, and she didn't move. The noise from the taverns right across the moat grew rowdy, and she didn't move.
She had to strategize. She needed a way to repent. Maybe she should give up her research. Maybe she should make a pilgrimage to one of the sacred springs or cloister herself away in the Temple of Time. She planned the trip in her mind: first the Royal Tech Lab to hand over the Sheikah Slate and all her notes to Purah. Then to the Spring of Power, then the Spring of Courage, then to the Great Plateau, where she would take a vow of silence so she no longer said cruel things. She would request a Sheikah guard. Maybe Impa, and release Link to more important duties.
Yes. It was what needed to be done.
She uncurled from her stiff position, and stood, not even bothering to brush the dirt from her dress. When she turned to head back to the castle, she startled.
Because Link was standing at the mouth of the tunnel. As if he'd been standing there a while.
She was too tired to glare at him.
He took two steps forward, unsheathing his sword. Then he took her hand and wrapped it around the hilt, holding her hand fast in both of his.
"What are you doing?" she asked. Her voice was hollow.
"Most people," he said, "can't get their hand within a few inches of it. It pushes them back. Those who can touch it are thrown back by a shock. They say the sword has teeth. That only its master can wield it." His eyes bored into hers. "But she allows you to touch her."
Zelda frowned at him.
One of his hands slipped from the hilt to the small of he back, easing her close, trapping the sword between them, and it was almost as if he were pressing her hand to his heart. "She likes you. I don't know if she can sense your blood or if she knows you're blessed by the Goddess, or if she just likes you: Zelda. With your research and your trashy novels and your muddy boots and your experiments and your fruit cake and the way you smile at me when you forget not to. She likes you. And she has been apoplectic since I let you walk out of the library."
She didn't believe him.
"She's been screaming in my head for fifteen hours. I need it to stop."
"I can't help you with that."
He winced, his eye twitching. The sword really was screaming at him. Screaming so loud it hurt him, and yet she couldn't hear it.
He pulled her closer and lowered his mouth to her ear, pressing a kiss and then whispering, "Can I apologize?"
She shouldn't let him. She should push him away. It was for his own good.
Then he kissed under her ear again, and she was so tired that she melted.
And then her back pressed to the cliff, and his mouth covered hers, and the sword was back in its sheath, and her arms wrapped tight around his shoulders. His kiss was needy and desperate, begging her forgiveness, and maybe she was begging for the same, hungry to have someone care about her when she thought she'd burned that bridge to the ground. His hand worked at the back of her neck, brushing her hair aside and popping buttons one after another, his other hand grabbing at her skirt to ruck it up and pull her thigh over his hip.
He pulled back abruptly with an annoyed frown--which of course would happen. Heart breaking, but not surprising.
He shook his head and winced, and then pulled his scabbard over his head, fumbling out of it, then setting it down against the wall with a glare. Then he was back in her arms, cupping her face and teasing open her mouth with his tongue.
She pulled back to ask, "What was that?"
He looked confused for a moment. "She's...I think she's giving advice?"
"She's been reading too many trashy novels lately, and flashing all these ideas to me." He shook his head. "Hard to tell which thoughts are mine."
"The sword wants you to do unseemly things?"
"Unseemly is...a nice way to put it."
"How would you put it?"
"Filthy," he said. "I...think the sword is bored?"
"The sword is...bored?"
She stared at him.
She should ask if he really feels for her or if it's just the sword egging him on. Instead she asks, "What kind of things does it want you to do?"
His eyes darkened, and a warmth built in her belly.
His hands framed her sides, his thumbs tracing the grooves on either side of her stomach. "Touch you here." As his hands dragged up, she dragged in a breath, as if he was pulling her taller, pulling upward towards her chest, until his thumbs hooked beneath her breasts, his fingertips still touching her sides. "Touch you here." He kissed beneath her ear again, and she rested her head back against the wall to close her eyes and tremble as he shifted to cup her breast, to rub circles with his thumb. She had one arm hooked around his neck and one hand gripping his wrist tight, and she ought to let go, but couldn't. His free hand dragged back down, his thumb tracing the groove on the inside of her hipbone, and again, she felt draw upward, tighter against him. "Touch you here."
"This doesn't sound so filthy," she said, her voice only shaking a little.
He dropped to one knee, bunching her dress in a fist. And maybe she was a bit breathy and whimpering when his mouth met the grove inside her hipbone that he'd traced with a thumb. She was a raw nerve of anticipation as he moved lower, lower, shifting his shoulders between her legs, his hands on her hips for balance as she tried to hold her dress out of his way and somehow keep her balance. There was no way she was going to keep her balance. He sucked another mark into her thigh, and she nearly screamed, then gasped as he licked her through her panties. He hummed and she panted and he worked her as if she were delicious, as if it were his duty to please her. Her hands scrambled on the wall behind her, and she didn't know what kind of sounds she was making as he pushed aside her panties and thrust his tongue in such a way that he had to shift his hold on her hips to catch her. Her heart beat too fast and she couldn't breathe and she was so close to something, so very, very--Hi fingers dug into her thighs and a cord pulled too tight inside her snapped. Popped. Like glass shattering.
She was lost, flying, and the only way through it was to cling for dear life to Link's hair.
When her vision cleared, she had sunk to her knees, into Link's lap to pant into his neck while he held her.
There was something odd about his voice. Maybe she'd hurt him and it was awkward for him to admit it. Maybe it had been bad and he was regretting it. Maybe he was regretting it for other reasons.
"...Did you know that you light up when you orgasm?"
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Whumptober Day 6
bruises | touch starved | hunger
911 - buddie - 1.1k
Link to AO3
It’s a routine call out… well, as routine as a car hanging off a cliff can be.
The call comes in over the station PA system in the last few hours of their shift and Buck knows they won’t be going home on time. Calls like this can be tricky. You never know what you’re going to find when you get there. The condition of the car and its occupants is a complete mystery until you’re able to reach it.
They make good time to the incident site and get straight to work setting up the winches and cables to secure the car. It’s perched about a third of the way down the cliff, the undercarriage caught on some unseen snag.
“Buck, Eddie, harness up,” Bobby orders. “We don’t know what the car’s caught on, so we need to move quickly but carefully.”
“Copy that, Cap,” Buck replies, stepping into his harness and fastening the straps. “You ready to go Eddie?”
With a nod, Eddie falls into step beside him and they move in sync, backing over the lip of the cliff together to rappel down to the car.
“Car’s secure,” Buck radios up to the team, once it’s hooked up to the trucks above. “Checking on the occupants now.”
He descends down to the front passenger window and reaches inside. The woman is unconscious, her pulse thready beneath his fingers.
“Hey Eddie, how’s the driver?” he asks, planting his feet against the cliff face to peer across the roof of the car.
“Unconscious, but stable,” Eddie calls back. “The passenger?”
Buck sucks his lip between his teeth while he thinks. “We need to get her up to the paramedics,” he says. “Give me a hand here?”
He makes some room for Eddie to join him and radios for a basket. Working together, they get the passenger loaded and Eddie heads back up the cliff with her.
Once they’re on their way, Buck moves around to the driver’s side. She’s starting to stir, shifting in her seat as she wakes.
“Hey, you need to stay still,” Buck tells her, reaching in through the window. “You were in an accident but I’m going to get you out, okay?” He places a hand on her shoulder, partly to reassure her and partly to keep her still. “I’m Buck, what’s your name?”
“Okay Julie, are you in any pain? Don’t move, just say yes or no for me.”
“My head hurts,” her voice shakes. “But nothing else.”
“Okay. Great, that’s good.” Buck keeps talking as he reaches for the door handle. “What about your arms and legs? Any pain, or—” the car rocks “—or numbness or tingling?”
“That’s good news,” Buck assures her, getting the car door open. “Okay, we’re going to take it nice and slow—”
The car shifts and drops, the inside of the door catching Buck in the side. He grunts from the force that knocks the air from his lungs. He doesn’t have time to register the pain though. The car is still slipping, inch by inch as the rock crumbles beneath them.
He grits his teeth and digs his teeth into the dirt beneath his feet before reaching for the utility blade on his belt.
“I’m going to cut your seatbelt,” he tells Julie, keeping his voice steady. “I want you to wrap your arms around me.”
“No, I’m going to fall,” Julie sobs, her fingers white-knuckled against the steering wheel.
“I’m not going to let you fall,” Buck promises, slicing through the seatbelt. “Just hold on to me, tight as you can. I’ve got you.”
Julie reaches out with shaking arms, wrapping them around his shoulders and Buck drops an extra strap around her, keeping Julie from falling.
He pushes away from the car right as it shudders and drops another foot with a metallic screech. It isn’t going to hold for much longer.
“We’re clear, pull us up,” Buck shouts, unable to reach his radio with his arms around Julie. She wraps her legs around his hips and clings, pressing in painfully close to his tender ribs.
There’s another ear splitting screech as something under the car snaps, and then it’s gone, tumbling down the side of the hill to the rocky flat below.
Buck climbs the last few feet to reach the top of the cliff and sets Julie down. From the looks of it, Hen and Chimney have already taken her friend to the hospital, but there is another paramedic team ready and waiting to help.
Leaving them to work, he joins Eddie at the truck and begins unclipping his harness.
“Hey are you okay?” Eddie asks, packing away his things. “That looked like it was close.”
“Yeah, fine.” Buck waves off his concern. The steady ache of his ribs throbs along in time with his heartbeat, but it doesn’t feel too bad. He’s definitely had worse.
Still, he has to force himself to keep his movements smooth when he pulls himself up into the truck. He’s already stiffening up and is looking forward to a hot shower when he gets home.
Back at the station, he disappears into the changing room to get away from prying eyes. Pulling off his shirt he surveys the damage.
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
Buck jumps. He hadn’t heard the door open behind him.
Eddie’s hands ghost over Buck’s skin, tracing the dark purple bruise that spills across his chest.
Buck shrugs, wincing as the movement pulls at his tender ribs. “We were in the middle of a rescue. There wasn’t time to switch with anyone.” He shivers at the feather-light touch and reaches for his spare shirt. "I'm fine, Eddie. Really."
Eddie gently presses along his ribs, testing for any give and finds none. “It doesn’t feel like anything’s broken.” He steps back and Buck shrugs on his shirt. “But you’re really going to feel it tomorrow.”
“I’m feeling it now,” Buck groans. He reaches for his bag, hefting it up onto his shoulder on his non-injured side. He doesn’t miss Eddie’s concerned glance. “They’re just bruises,” he says, voice steady and reassuring. “I’ll ice them when we get home.”
“You’re coming back to mine,” Eddie says, his tone leaving no room for argument. Not that Buck would. Eddie’s house is one of his favourite places, surrounded by his two favourite people.
“For pizza and movies?” Buck coaxes, dragging Eddie from the changing room and out to the Jeep. “Come on, I’m injured,” he tacks on, sensing Eddie’s hesitation. “I deserve pizza after that daring rescue.”
Eddie rolls his eyes, amused, and climbs into the passenger seat.
“Just try not to make a habit of it.”
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Totally Worth It
I guess it could also be a meet-cute. But anyway, here’s some more Jasonette, because I love them. Sorry, it’s fairly lengthy.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!”
The sound of heavy footfalls followed her as she sprinted down the busy sidewalk. Shouts of pain and surprised echoed as she passed, not registering any faces around her, focused solely on escape. Leave it to her to get separated from her friends on their first day in Gotham. If she survived, Chloe would kill her. Adrien would help. But she had to survive first.
Marinette’s eyes darted around, searching for a low-hanging fire escape, an open window—hell, she’d take a pile of boxes next to a dumpster to hide in at this point. If it meant she wasn’t about to get abducted she would gladly accept help in whatever form the universe saw fit to present it. There was an opening between two buildings ahead, and she swore she’d turn their and figure it out from there. What kind of apathetic place was this that no-one she’d passed had stepped in to help? Why had they come here again?
Oh, yeah. She was the Guardian, and Gotham was teeming with misery and misfortune and it was her stupid fucking duty to try and restore balance to the derelict City of Crime. But they’d just moved in last night, she was exhausted, and she was already being chased by criminals. She didn’t even know why they were chasing her. But the group of burly men had approached her from both sides, trying to corral her, and the alarms in her head had screamed at her to dive out into traffic to avoid them—perhaps not her brightest idea to date, but it had worked—and then run for freedom. For such large men, they were surprisingly fast, if not light on their feet. The alleyway was so much closer now, she could almost taste her escape. And then the sound of another person sprinting reached her ears. He or she was much faster than the group that had first pursued her, and much lighter on their feet. Marinette panicked and put on a burst of speed, desperate to reach the alley and at the very least get out of sight.
But her new pursuer had other plans. She reached the alley, but as she made the sudden, sharp right turn, an arm wrapped tightly around her waist and she was yanked off the ground. The Earth seemed to just fall away from her feet. She would have been terrified if her Ladybug yoyo didn’t operate the same way. As it was, she performed some incredible mental gymnastics and reached the very helpful conclusion that she was being pulled to momentary safety by a grappling hook, attached to one of the local vigilantes. The knowledge stopped her from fighting her potential rescuer, but it didn’t stop her from shrieking in surprise. She stared into the mouth of the alley below her as the group who had been chasing her entered and stared around, gaping in dimwitted confusion.
“Fast and strong, but not very intelligent.”
The person who’d pulled her out of immediate danger snorted and she realized, Oh god, I said that out loud.
“Most low-level criminals are pretty stupid, Pixie Pop,” a deep voice murmured from somewhere above her head.
He still hadn’t let go of her waist. Taking in her new surroundings, she supposed that was just as well. They were pressed together on a narrow ledge between the windows of a multi-story apartment complex. She didn’t dare continue to look down after her would-be attackers moved on from the alley below. She was a civilian at the moment, with no magic yoyo to pull her to safety and no magic suit to protect her if she fell. And now, she was hyper aware of the large hand holding her snugly by the hip and the broad chest rising and falling behind her head. The vigilante was a giant compared to her. She knew she was small, of course. She’d inherited many of her mother’s traits—and Sabine Cheng was also a very petite woman. She was even smaller than Marinette, and that was saying something.
“You all right, there, Pix?” the deep voice sounded again.
She still hadn’t responded to his first comment, not that there had been much to say about the fact he’d offered. She was still too breathless to speak, so she simply nodded.
“I’m gonna get us up to a roof, okay? It’ll just take a second.”
She nodded again, and the sound of the zip line retracting signaled their retreat into the air. It was much slower than when she’d first left the ground, and she wondered what would happen when the line ran out. They’d still be hanging over the alley. Was he just planning on throwing her up to the rooftop?
She tipped her head back to ask what the plan was, but was distracted by the sight that met her eyes. The sun glinted off a rounded reflective surface, threatening to blind her. The red helmet was framed by the collar of a dark brown, leather jacket.
Red Hood, her brain supplied. The wild vigilante. The one who didn’t hide in the shadows; the one people said was dangerous, who didn’t seem to have the same moral objection to killing that Batman had. But all she felt at the moment was the overwhelming sense of safety as he held her against his chest while they were pulled skyward. Just as she suspected, the line ran out after a few minutes, and the pair of them were dangling over the street.
“So, did you have a plan for this, or…?”
His chest thrust out as he huffed a laugh.
“I could toss you up there, Pixie, but I don’t think you’d enjoy that. Gimme a second and I’ll swing us up.”
Absolutely not. Under no circumstances was he going to try to swing both of them over the edge of the roof. Not a chance in Hell was that going to happen.
“Oh, no. Uh-uh. I’ll climb up first, and you can swing up after that if you want. Otherwise I can pull you up.”
The next laugh was more genuine.
“I like you, Pixie. You’ve got spunk. I’ve never seen a civvie scale a building, but go off, I guess.”
Marinette scowled. It wasn’t his fault he thought she was just another civilian. But his tone was still insulting.
He did as asked, and she considered her options. She had a feeling he wasn’t going to like this.
“Okay, how strong are you? Like, if you put your arm straight out to the side, would you still be able to hold my bodyweight?”
“What?! What the fuck is your game, Pixie Pop?”
“Just answer the question, I don’t feel like hanging up here all day, and your arm’s going to get tired, and I really don’t feel like falling to my death in an alley in the City of Crime.”
He laughed long and loud this time, and Marinette had to admit it was a pleasant sound.
“All right, I’ll play along. Hang on tight, Pixie.”
She wrapped her arms around his forearm, and he extended his arm to the side, leaving her back exposed and her front facing the wall of the building. When she was satisfied that he was as steady as he would ever be, she tightened her core and pulled her legs up until she was perched on her toes on his forearm.
“Don’t say a word,” she warned him. “I need to concentrate on not dying.”
She was exceptionally pleased when he didn’t respond. Refusing to look toward the ground, now several stories below, Marinette tensed to spring. The roof was only two feet above her head, she had an impressive vertical—even as a civilian—and she was confident she could lift herself over the ledge once she’d gotten her hands up there.
Okay, she was mostly confident. It was really her only option at this point.
“Connard,” she hissed, then jumped.
Red Hood shouted something, but she wasn’t paying attention. She didn’t have the capacity to worry about what he thought or said. The only thing her brain had room for right now was directing her arms to swing upward, her hands to latch onto the ledge and to hang on for dear life until her lower body stopped swinging. It took less time than she thought, and she was grateful. She refused to acknowledge that her arms were shaking as she lifted her body over the ledge. Once she was settled on the gravel rooftop, she leaned back over the ledge, only to see that Red Hood had rappelled a little way down the side of the building and was working on gaining enough momentum to swing himself over the ledge to join her. She backed away. She hoped he’d done this before, but she wasn’t confident.
She was right to be skeptical. The muscled body came flying up, but wasn’t angled properly, and he was going to miss his landing. Marinette leapt forward on instinct, grabbing a fistful of the leather jacket and yanking him backward. Sweet Jeanne de Arc, he was heavy! And—shit—now he was landing on top of her. He seemed to realize it, too, as he wrapped his burly arms around her and twisted as he landed so that she was on top of him.
There was nothing she could do but laugh hysterically in relief that they’d both made it somewhat safely to the rooftop. He joined her, his booming laugh rumbling through his chest and into her own. She rested her head against his chest as she calmed, and he never unwound his arms from her waist and back. She couldn’t find it in herself to care, the adrenaline high from the last half hour clouding any sense of rationality.
“You absolute moron,” she whined into the red bat splashed across his chest. He just continued to laugh, sitting up and bringing her with him as he took off his helmet—probably so he could breathe easier.
Being confronted with a sharp and scarred jawline immediately erased any compulsion she felt to laugh. He seemed to notice her utter and complete mental shutdown.
“You okay, Pixie Pop?” His voice was genuinely concerned and damn her right to hell, it made her want to melt.
“Um…You’re very close,” she managed to murmur, staring at his chest as she tried not to spontaneously combust. By the heat she felt flushing over her cheeks, it was a wasted effort.
Red Hood laughed again—it was a truly joyful sound, something that had become foreign to her in recent years—and she found herself reveling in it.
“You’re the one who put me here, Pixie,” he reminded her, squeezing her lightly. She scowled up at him.
“Only because you decided not to wait for me and thought it would be a good idea to try to swing up here like fucking Tarzan. You’re lucky I decided to save your dumb ass.”
“You know, for someone with such a sweet face, you cuss like a sailor. What’s your name?”
“Marinette. Marinette Dupain-Cheng. I suppose I should thank you for getting me out of the way of those idiots who were after me. I don’t even know what they wanted with me.”
He nodded seriously.
“Well, where are you staying? I’ll get you back there before you know it.”
“Yeah? You planning on swinging there with that contraption?” She quirked an eyebrow.
“Hey, now, this contraption saved your life. But no. I do actually drive. If you’re up for it, we can take my bike back to your hotel.”
“Oh, no. I just moved here with some friends. I mean, I’m all for the motorcycle. I’m just not staying at a hotel.”
“Oh god, you moved here? On purpose?”
“Yeah. Rent’s cheap and we can all three take the train in to Manhattan for work. Win-win for me.”
“Well at least you’re not here alone. Any chance you know your address by memory yet?”
She rattled it off for him, and felt a smug pleasure at the impressed grin he gave her. He popped his helmet back on and they broke apart to stand. He made to fire the grappling hook again, but hesitated to reach for her.
“May I?” he asked, gesturing to her body.
“You may, thank you for asking.” She understood why he hadn’t asked the first time, and it somehow made this interaction sweeter. Despite his cocky attitude, he was respectful.
Red Hood dropped her at her front door, where she grinned at him from the top step, hair windswept and eyes bright as he removed his helmet once more. Before she turned to go inside, she stood on tip toe and kissed his cheek.
“Thanks for the rescue, Hood. If I need help again, I hope it comes from you,” she whispered with a wink.
She grinned at his slackened jaw, and skipped inside, where she was greeted by Chloe’s shrill voice.
“MARINETTE DUPAIN-CHENG, WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN?! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH PANIC YOU PUT ADRIKINS AND ME THROUGH?! RIDICULOUS, UTTERLY RIDICULOUS!”
The sound of a motorcycle roaring to life brought a smile to her lips once more.
Totally worth it.
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When Magic Died
Once upon a time, in a land far beyond the western horizon, there was an apprentice who was very bored. She lived in a fine palace, and was studying magic, her greatest passion, but her master was an inept and bumbling old man who couldn't tell one end of a wand from the other, and so she grew terribly disinterested with her daily duties, which included tending to the last bit of live magic in the kingdom and arguing with her greatest enemy, the young and pompous palace academic.
On one such day, shut up in the magician's tower and feeding the magic, the academic came knocking, thoroughly spoiling an otherwise pleasant morning. The two engaged in particularly feisty banter, this time about whether or not the academic should pursue a courtship with a maiden of the town, as his parents had suggested. This was, unfortunately, an ongoing discussion—the apprentice always asked about the progress of the courtship in order to poke holes in his unfaltering ego, and his retort tended to be that at least he had prospects—but on this day the argument went too far. Upon his suggestion that her general prickliness would subject her to a long and lonely life of her own doing, the apprentice quickly stood, furious, accidentally knocking over the cage in which the magic resided, and when the cage door flung open, the magic within was extinguished.
The apprentice and the academic looked at each other, horrified. Then the academic said, "Not it," and disappeared down the spiral staircase. Coward that he was.
The general uproar in the court over the matter lasted several days and nights, in which the apprentice bit her fingernails and hoped for a swift and painless death. However, the truth eventually came out: that it had been an accident, and that the apprentice and academic were to blame—much to the chagrin of the academic, who claimed innocence.
Punishment, it was determined, was only fair, and so the apprentice and the academic were turned away from the castle and sent on a quest to discover a new source of magic. (After all, a kingdom without magic is sure to crumble to ruin.) They were given provisions for two fortnights, and a protector to ensure their safety on the journey, who, incidentally, was a total stud, though he refused to speak at all, and so the two enemies set out on their journey in smouldering silence. Neither the apprentice or the academic had ever set foot outside the borders of the kingdom, and so both were begrudgingly impressed by the beauty the land had to offer, and they travelled through the day and well into the evening before coming to a stop.
On the first night, the apprentice was troubled by a dream where she stood in a gulley with powerful waterfalls crashing down around her, coloured hazy purples and dreamy blues. She was certain she had been there before, and it was upon waking that she realized the substance of the falls was not water, but magic.
"You know everything, don't you?" She asked of the academic once they were on the road for the day.
"Well," replied the academic, "no, not really. My specialties are in the history of the land, in strategy, and in speculative sciences."
"Cool," said she. "So you know everything."
"Do you know of a place with many waterfalls?" she asked. "Preferably close by."
The academic thought for a moment, then pulled out a book—as he was wont to do—and rifled through the pages until he found an illustration of the very same gulley the apprentice had dreamed of, located, according to the book, two weeks travel to the south.
She explained her dream, and though the academic was skeptical, it seemed as good of a lead as any, and so they set off to the south, the academic muttering about dreams and psychic premonitions the whole way.
"I used to be a psychic," said the protector, speaking for the first time, and then, when the apprentice and academic looked up in surprise, refused to say anything more.
The journey went without a hitch for three days and three nights, until the three travellers came to a deep valley carved into the countryside, with steep walls impossible to climb down.
"You're a magician," said the academic to the apprentice, "magic us over."
"I'm not a magician," said the apprentice, "I'm an apprentice. And there's no magic, anyway. We killed it."
"You killed it."
"We killed it together."
And so the two engaged in one of their usual squabbles, until the protector grew weary of their bickering and held up a hand. "We'll rappel."
They looked up at him.
"I used to be a rope maker," he explained.
"I thought you used to be a psychic," the academic retorted.
The protector refused to say anything more.
And so, using the fibers of nearby crops, the protector instructed the academic and apprentice on how to make rope, and by nightfall, they had length enough to rappel down into the ravine, where they found a twisty river.
They walked south along the bank of the river, and after a day of their presence, naiads emerged in the water, startling the apprentice.
They grinned their watery grins, and when she had recovered her composure, she said, "We're looking for magic. Do you know where the magic is?"
The naiads grinned, said nothing, and disappeared.
"Bold of you to assume they speak the language." said the academic.
"I didn't hear you coming up with any clever solutions."
The academic launched into a lengthy speech about the history of naiads, which only the protector listened to.
After another day and night, the ravine twisted to the west, and so the group was able to climb up the side of the gulley without much difficulty, emerging into a barren wasteland.
"Oh my," said the apprentice.
"This looks homey." said the academic.
The protector bent over and rubbed dirt between his fingers. "There was a drought."
The academic raised an eyebrow.
"What?" the protector straightened. "I used to work in agriculture."
As they picked their way across the desolate arena, the academic needled the protector with a thousand questions about his elusive past, and the protector refused to say anything at all.
Eventually, the foothills rose up in front of them, and as they turned the corner, their first hint of danger leapt out from behind a rock, snarling and spitting, fur black as night, eyes red as blood.
The apprentice yanked the academic out of the way, and the protector knocked the beast with his staff, and when it came back, yowling and furious, he threw a dart at it, and it collapsed.
There was a moment of silence.
"Well," said the academic to the apprentice, shaken, "you've saved my life."
"Yes," replied the apprentice. "I imagine you would have done the same thing."
So they shook hands and decided to be friends moving forward, and the protector rolled his eyes and set to work hacking the beast to bits. An hour later, he'd built a fire and was roasting the animal, much to the surprise of the others.
"What?" said the protector. "I used to be a butcher."
The academic and the apprentice exchanged a bemused smile.
The meat was good, and the three went to bed that night sated for the first time in many days.
That night, the apprentice dreamt again of the waterfalls and woke with a burning against her ribs, and they pressed onwards into the hills, encountering more beasts, who mostly left them alone, keening from the shadows.
The further they got from the kingdom, the more jumpy the protector became, much to the amusement of the apprentice and alarm of the academic.
“What is magic, anyway?” the academic asked, “and how will we know we’ve found it?”
The apprentice considered. She said, “we’ll know when we’ve found it. Magic feels like being alive.”
The academic wrinkled his nose. “That makes no sense.”
She turned, one eyebrow raised. “Is it supposed to make sense?”
The academic opened his mouth as if to argue, but then remembered their newfound friendship, and closed it promptly.
The protector noticed this. “Why,” he asked, “did you both fight so passionately? Is it due to some secret love?”
The apprentice wrinkled her nose. “Gross. No. I would rather spend my days locked in a tower alone.” Then, at the stunned expression from the academic, hastily added, “No offence, but I do not think I was built for romantic love.”
“None taken,” he said, then added, “aren’t you technically studying to be locked in a tower alone?”
“By choice.” she said primly.
“The chemical formula for love is very complicated, anyway.” said the protector. “I would think one would be better off without it, as it does tend to interfere with many things.”
“How do you know about the chemical formula for love?” asked the apprentice, as her studies in magic had covered the concept and she knew it to be difficult.
"I used to be an alchemist," said the protector, to which the apprentice and academic said nothing, because at this point, what even.
The apprentice lagged behind the two, mulling over her recent confession. It was not one she had ever spoken aloud, but now that she had, she was quite pleased with it.
Ahead, as they walked, the protector glanced over at the academic.
"Wanna see my darts?" he asked.
The academic stared.
"They're my most deadly weapons."
The academic said, "Sure."
And so the protector unrolled a leather scroll, which nested thirteen beautiful poisoned darts.
"Thirteen is a strange number," said the academic, to which the protector replied, "There used to be fourteen."
"Fourteen is a strange number," said the academic, to which the protector replied, "harrumph."
On their tenth day of travel, they encountered a toll bridge, but whatever had once haunted it had long since absconded and taken the water with it, the ground left cracked and dusty.
The apprentice began to worry that an area so barren could not possibly host such a collection of waterfalls as she had dreamed of.
Creatures circled their campsite at night, eyes in the dark, but the protector kept them away with the glint of his blade clearly visible, which made the academic avert his eyes.
On their eleventh day, they encountered the remains of an abandoned village, and they were able to enclose themselves in what had once been a tavern to shelter from the wind and discuss their plans around a handmade fire.
“What happens if we never find the magic?” The apprentice asked.
The academic glanced at the protector and then away. “I think the instructions were clear. We stay away until we find it.”
“Tough deal for you.” The apprentice said to the protector. “You did nothing wrong and you still had to leave everything behind when there’s no guarantee of return.”
The protector made eye contact with the crackling flames and cleared his throat. “I had nothing to leave behind.”
“I would argue that I also did nothing wrong.” said the academic, without much conviction.
The apprentice raised her eyebrows. “You provoked me.”
“Why was there so little magic left, anyway?” asked the protector.
“Magicians used to be able to conjure magic themselves.” the academic replied. “But that’s a lost art.”
“I wish it wasn’t.” The apprentice looked glumly down at her shoes. “That way I wouldn’t be training to be a hired recluse.”
“I’ve heard the king would have been happy to announce the death of magic.” The academic sighed. “It was the council that suggested this quest.”
The protector’s expression shifted slightly.
“Really?” The apprentice, who did not notice this, straightened. “What sort of king wouldn’t want magic?”
The protector continued to stare into the fire and said nothing at all. The academic watched him very carefully.
“Well,” said the apprentice, “at least we have each other, so we won’t be lonely.”
So on they travelled, the apprentice ever plagued by the same dream of rushing waterfalls. She was troubled by an increasingly sharp pain in her chest, just behind her sternum, and grew worried that they would never find the magic they were in search of.
On their fifteenth day of travel, their water supply began to run short. The academic consulted his book and consulted the maps, and declared that they would arrive at the waterfalls the very next day.
The apprentice looked at the dust on the ground, and worried.
That night, the academic could not sleep, and so he stood under a large tree that spread out wide towards the stars and thought about death.
The protector woke, too, and joined him.
“I am worried,” said the academic, after some minutes of companionable silence, “that we will not find what we are looking for.”
“I swear on my sword that I will help you find it.” Said the protector, watching the academic carefully. “Your success will be my greatest joy.”
“That’s very interesting,” said the academic, “considering you’re planning on killing us both.”
There was a moment of stunned silence in which the protector looked far up into the night sky. Then he said, “you really do know everything.”
“No,” said the academic, “it just wasn’t that hard to figure out. Why would someone with such a wide range of skills and backgrounds be sent on an impossible quest with two nobodies? I mean, fourteen darts? The standard number for anything is a dozen.”
The protector said, “I liked thinking that you know everything better.”
The academic said, “Why haven’t you done it yet?”
“It would seem,” said the protector, drawing a dagger—the academic did not flinch—“that my orders do not align with my heart.”
Then he knelt and set the dagger at the academic’s feet.
“Though,” he said, his expression unreadable, “you have probably figured that out, too.”
The academic looked at the protector for a very long time. Then he said, “I had hoped.”
Then he knelt too, picked up the dagger, and held it back towards the protector, who was really the assassin.
The assassin said, “I do not want to.”
The academic said, “I know.”
The assassin took the dagger and sheathed it.
“When you do it,” said the academic, “because we both know you have to, use the darts. They seem a little more dignified.”
Then he kissed the assassin, turned, and went back to the campsite to sleep.
The assassin stood under the large tree that spread out wide towards the stars and thought about death.
The next morning, he took up the role of protector again, and neither he nor the academic said a word about it.
The ride through the mountain pass was tense for other reasons, as the apprentice grew more and more fearful that there would be no magic.
They arrived at the gulley, but the apprentice knew that something was wrong before they even turned the corner, because there was no sound of rushing water. No sound of rushing water, nor the familiar hum of the magic she had spent so long tending to and had killed. The sound in the gulley was the same as the sound in the cage in the moment after the magic had been snuffed out: eerie, silent, empty.
They rounded the corner.
Sure enough, the gulley was empty, and though the apprentice recognized the space from her dreams, the magic was nowhere to be found.
“Well,” said the academic, holding his arms out, voice echoing in the vast cavern, “now seems as good a time as any.”
The protector shook his head. “I will not do it.”
“Then you will die,” the academic said, “and since we will die out here anyway, one of us might as well live.”
“Hang on,” said the apprentice, catching on, “who’s dying?”
The protector shook his head again. “No one.”
“You were sent by the king to kill us.” The academic said. “So that there was no chance we’d bring magic back to the kingdom.”
The protector, who was really the assassin, said nothing.
“Wow,” said the apprentice, “that’s unfortunate.”
“I won’t do it.” The assassin said. “I have been a lot of things in my life, but a killer of friends is not one of them.”
The three stood watching each other warily for several long minutes, and when it became clear that no solution was going to present itself, the apprentice sighed. “What are our options?”
“We can’t go back without magic,” said the academic, “so we can’t go back at all. I suppose you could go back without us and pretend you’ve done the job.”
The assassin and the academic made very pointed eye contact, and the assassin said, “You don’t usually say foolish things. I will not leave you.”
It did seem rather grim, all things considered. If only, thought the apprentice, if only magic was anywhere to be found.
The pain in the apprentice’s chest worsened quite suddenly, and she staggered forward, clutching her heart.
The academic and the assassin rushed to her aide. The academic pressed a hand to her shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
Bones, she thought, aren’t supposed to feel so alive. Her heart beat, the pain itself a presence large and unyielding and begging to be released, and a bubble of laughter trapped itself in her throat. She gasped, “there is no source of magic.”
The academic said, “I thought we’d already come to that conclusion.”
“No,” she said, and she stood, leaning against them both. “There never was. Magic isn’t something to be found.”
All around them, the air shimmered, the very ground beneath them buzzing a distinctly familiar hum. The apprentice staggered back, shut her eyes, and released the burden in her chest.
“What are you doing?” asked the academic, with an air of extreme skepticism.
The apprentice let her arms rise from her sides. “Magic, I think.”
And magic it was.
The academic knew it, and the assassin knew it, and the apprentice, who really wasn’t an apprentice any longer, threw her head back and laughed in delight. The sound echoed through the gulley, bright and high and beautiful, and once it reached the top, the water that was really magic burst forth, falling from the very highest point in torrential currents of dizzying blues and purples, just like her dreams.
“Well,” said the academic, once he had recovered his tongue, “I suppose you’re a magician now.”
“Yes,” the magician replied. “I think that suits me.”
On the way back, transformation was already underway. The barren wasteland was coming to life all around them bit by bit, and rains tore through the hardened earth, and the magician knew in her heart that magic had never really died, just been forgotten.
Their arrival back in the kingdom was only momentarily hindered by fear. The king was not thrilled to see the three of them back in his court, but after all, he was just a very grumpy figurehead, and besides that, the damage was already done. All around them, the colours were brighter, the air crisper, and the whole kingdom seemed to sing with an energy that none of them remembered having ever felt before. The assassin was not killed, because to do so would have been to reveal that the king had intended that two of his own die at his hand, and so they remained safe, if wary, at first, and as time passed, they relaxed, and the flow of magic never let up.
They didn’t live happily ever after, because happily-ever-afters are highly improbable, but they did lead happy lives, and the kingdom flourished under the influence of the first real magician in centuries, and the king died of gout, and the ex-assassin-turned-palace-fencing-instructor-slash-baker-slash-jack-of-all-trades never got tired of listening to the academic ramble about niche topics, particularly late at night when he had to be dragged away from his books to their shared living quarters in the west wing of the castle. And none of them ever forgot their journey, or the bond of friendship that had brought them back together in one piece.
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His Biggest Fan
Summary: A little rewrite of the vending machine scene from OH1 Ch1. This was inspired by the replay for the Open Heart Book Club.
Pairing: Ethan Ramsey x MC (Jillian Valentine).
Word Count: 2216 words.
A/N: I followed a lot of the game script but also added a little. I merged a few choices because I'm an indecisive little shit that loved both options 😂 And I also hated that Landrat kept Ethan's autograph, so I fixed it. As always, feedback is much appreciated! (please, I crave it)
“Wait! It’s you, isn’t it?”
“What?” Jillian furrowed his eyebrows at the other intern’s exclamation, deeply confused. On the outside, her face was a perfect mask of calm, but on the inside, she started to feel a wave of anxiousness threatening to suffocate her by the thought of being recognized.
“You’re the intern who did the thoracotomy with him this morning?”
“Yeah.” she shook her head, letting out the breath she had been holding, “And he ripped me a new one in front of everyone. It was so unbelievably-”
“Lucky!” Landry exclaimed, earning a puzzled look from her, “Ethan Ramsey actually talked to you! Ugh, this is what I get for getting to work an hour early. If I saw him in person, I’d probably just…”
As much as Jillian admired the man, she really couldn’t understand how Landry could describe her humiliation as a moment of luck. She was many things, proud being one of them, so she only felt indignant about what had happened that morning, nowhere near as happy as Landry.
“It was intimidating.” she shrugged, but raised an eyebrow when Landry froze up, staring wide-eyed in panic, “Landry? You okay?” he pointed past her, and as she turned around, she saw him there, talking to a nurse down the hall, the one and only Doctor Ethan Ramsey, “Crap, he’s coming this way. Hide me.”
“Hide you?! Hide me!” Landry squeaked.
“Jillian, stop.” she ordered herself, gathering her pride and dignity, “What am I doing? I can’t let my first day go like this. Okay, I’m… I’m gonna go talk to him.”
“The man once tore apart the research of the A.M.A.’s president… during the president’s keynote address! Are you sure about this?” Landry gasped.
“Landry, sometimes you just gotta… risk it.” Jillian grinned, “I’m always sure about what I do. It might not be the brightest idea, but at least I’m sure. I’m doing this. Would you let me borrow your copy of his book?”
Landry only nodded, still shocked in place. After taking Landry’s copy of Diagnostic Principles, Jillian marched down the hall toward Doctor Ramsey, who had stopped by an elderly patient’s room. Even from the hall, she could hear the patient hollering.
“I’m not going to ask you again, Barb.” Ramsey said tiredly.
“Forget about it, Doctor Ramsey. I’m busting outta this joint. I’ll tie the bedsheets together and rappel out of the window.” the older woman threatened.
“Don’t wait up on my account. In fact, I might break out of here with you.” for the first time, Jillian saw Ethan smiling, which surprised her and dazzled her in equal parts.
“I mean it! I don’t have my favorite armchair, and I’m bored without my puzzles.”
“And I’m bored of your excuses, Barb. Whine all you want, I’m not going anywhere until you take your medication.”
Ethan muttered to himself as he walked away from the entrance of the room and headed to a vending machine in the hall. He slid a dollar bill into the machine, but just stood there with his arms folded, not selecting anything.
“Hi, Doctor Ramsey.” Jillian approached with the most charming smile she could muster.
He glanced up at her for a split second with bemusement, before looking back at the machine, “Rookie. Back there, were you… hiding from me?”
“No, I don’t hide.” she stated confidently, showing the book, “I was actually hoping you might sign this book.”
“Autographs? Don’t you have work to be doing? Or at least other attendings to irritate?”
“Nope, just you.” she grinned, knowing it would only push his buttons.
“Interns.” he sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose, “I should have guessed. Well, if you have something else to say, then say it.”
“I just wanted to tell you I’m your biggest fan.”
Jillian hated to admit that; after all, it irritated her immensely when people said that about her parents or older siblings. She knew idolatry was pointless and frankly annoying, but for some reason, she wanted, needed, Ethan to know just how much she admired him and how much he had played part in the decision of becoming a doctor. She shared the same love, intrigue and aptitude for medicine as her family, but after much research, she knew becoming a doctor, a human one, was her calling. And the formidable Ethan Ramsey had inspired her enough to stand up to her family and choose her own path.
He still didn’t look away from the vending machine, half-listening, “My biggest fan? Is that right?”
“I’ve read all your papers: systemic amyloidosis, Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome, spinocerebellar ataxia…” at that, he turned to look at her directly, and Jillian straightened her posture slightly, refusing to back down, and instead held his sharp blue gaze, “You inspired me to go to medical school.”
“That ataxia paper was my undergrad thesis. That medical journal isn’t even published anymore. You tracked that down?” he seemed impressed.
“I can give you my copy… if you’d like.”
The way her voice had dropped to a sultry tone made it seem like she was offering something far less innocent and far more appealing than a simple copy of one of his papers. He tilted his head, intrigued for a moment, and then turned back to the machine.
“That won’t be necessary.” Ethan cleared his throat, and glanced back at the snacks display, “But I don’t think that’s what you came here to tell me.”
It was Jillian’s time to look intrigued. Over the years, she had perfected the art of hiding her thoughts and concealing her emotions with polite smiles and bored looks. She knew how to play the manipulation game with closed eyes, even if she didn’t do it frequently. But what had thrown her off base was that, somehow, Ethan could see right through her. The way he read her wasn’t something she was used to, and she still wasn’t sure if she liked it or not.
“Okay, I also came to assure you that I won’t let you down again.” she conceded.
He didn't even bother to look at her this time, “You can see the future? If so, you’ll make a remarkable physician.”
“Of course not. I just meant–”
“You will let me down again, Rookie. What’s more, you’ll let yourself down. Over and over.” he interrupted her and Jillian looked away, starting to regret even trying to talk to the man, but at last, Doctor Ramsey turned to stare directly at her, his blue eyes connecting with her honey-colored ones, “But what matters is that you get back on your feet each and every time, and push yourself to be better.”
Jillian was rendered speechless. She hadn’t expected him to give motivational and helpful advice, but here he was, proving her he wasn’t just another heartless, arrogant, know-it-all doctor as she had first gathered. Though she took his advice to heart and imprinted it in her brain, she didn’t dare say anything in return. After a few seconds in silence, she noticed how his eyes kept flicking to the chocolate bar in the top corner of the vending machine.
“I was always a salty snacks kind of girl myself, you know, popcorn, chips, that stuff.”
“That’s truly fascinating, but I’m not-”
“I know you’re not getting something for yourself.” Jill interrupted him, “You’re trying to pick something to cheer up Barbara in there, right?”
“How’d you figure that?”
“Just paying attention.” she mused with a soft smile, “You know, I bet I could pick out just the thing.”
“I doubt it. Barbara’s even more stubborn than you. She’s refused to take her pills for two days. But be my guest, it’s a hopeless endeavor.”
He didn’t think she could do it. In fact, he was looking at her like he was expecting her to fail, and not specifically in Barbara’s case. Jillian straightened her back at the challenge and scanned the contents of the vending machine. Her honey-colored eyes glinted in delight as soon as she spotted the hot cocoa. It was, after all, a comforting classic, and one of her personal favorites. Without a second to waste, she pressed the numbers for the chocolate. The machine whirred and the cocoa powder pack plunked out into the tray.
“Hot chocolate?” Doctor Ramsey looked down at her with condescendence, wanting to scoff at her cliché choice.
Jillian filled up a mug with hot water from the machine at the nurses’ station, and stirred in the cocoa. Once she made sure the drink was ready, she handed it to Ethan.
“How exactly is this supposed to-?”
“Come on, Doctor Ramsey, it’s hot chocolate. It’s bound to work, especially if she’s feeling restless and homesick.”
“That’s a big guess you’re taking there.”
“Don’t be so stubborn.” Jillian chastised him, “Look, just give it to her, okay? Trust me.”
“I don’t trust you.” he muttered.
“Well, you could always keep trying your way, but you don’t seem to be too successful at that either.”
He narrowed his eyes at her, but still took the mug and headed back into Barbara’s room. Jillian rested against the wall for a few minutes while she waited for him to be back. He soon returned with a perplexed look on his face.
“That got her to take the pills. I can’t believe it.” his mouth fell open in shock and he blinked a few times, “So, are you gonna tell me how you worked that one out?”
“A girl’s gotta have some secrets.”
Because if she had read him right, and she definitely thought she had, Ethan Ramsey was the kind of man who liked being in control of the situation and having answers to everything, down to the minimum detail. Why make it easier for him? She could keep him as frustrated as he made her feel. It was only fair.
“You’re really going to hold out on me?”
“I’m going for an air of mystery.” she flirted, “Is it working?”
Despite his best efforts, Ethan couldn’t help the smile that broke out into his face. It was hard not to respond in some way to the joyful expression on her face that made her eyes sparkle and turned her cheeks a lovely shade of soft pink. He caught himself after a few seconds, and looked away to compose the direction of his thoughts.
Jillian hadn’t noticed any of this, too occupied staring at the machine to avoid focusing on the handsome attending in front of her. It was then that she saw there were still 50 cents left over from Ethan’s dollar. She turned and pressed the numbers in the machine, and took the chocolate bar he was previously eyeing from the tray.
“And who is that for?”
“You.” Jillian tossed him the chocolate bar. He grabbed it with ease, but with raised eyebrows and a confused expression on his face, “I saw you kept staring at it earlier. You know, it’s okay to treat yourself sometimes.” He looked down at the chocolate in his hands with surprise, not having expected her to be that considerate with him.
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Jill turned to walk away, “See you around, Doctor Ramsey.”
“Wait.” he stopped her and motioned for the book, “Give it here.”
He took Landry’s copy of Diagnostic Principles and turned to the nurses’ station to look for a pen to sign it. However, Jillian wasn’t the only observant person in the room. With just one look at the condition of the book, Ethan knew it wasn’t hers. He didn’t know her personally, but Jillian looked like the kind of perfectionist who would never highlight or write in a book, the kind of person who would take care of a book as if it was the most valuable possession and have it in perfect condition. That book in his hands had a lot of markers and scribbles, some pages were folded, and part of the cover was peeled off. It definitely didn’t look like her book. So, he signed the first page of the book, but additionally took a post-it from the nurses’ station and scrawled a quick message on it for her, before he returned and tossed the book back to her.
“Now get back to work, Valentine.”
That made her stop in her tracks, her honey-colored eyes wide in shock, “You remembered my name?”
“Just paying attention.” he threw back at her with a smirk before walking off.
Jillian opened the book in curiosity and read Ethan’s inscription on the post-it.
‘For my biggest fan. Don’t let me down. ~Dr. Ethan Ramsey.’
A bright smile lit up her whole face, and she quickly took the post-it and put it in her pocket, before returning to Landry and showing him the book.
“You’re still alive!” he shrieked in surprise, “And… I can’t believe it, you got my copy signed! I absolutely love it.”
Landry charged forward and squeezed Jillian in an awkward hug, causing her to flinch in discomfort and pat his back a couple of times before pulling away.
“Okay, yeah, you’re welcome…” she tried to smile politely and make up an excuse, “Come on. I’m getting paged and, I don’t know about you, but I’m still completely lost…”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Tags: @jamespotterthefirst, @missflashgeek, @openheart12, @takeharryandgo, @aestheticartsx, @choicesfanaf, @fireycookie, @the-pale-goddess, @drariellevalentine, @trappedinfanfiction, @tsrookie, @perriewinklenerdie, @genevievemd, @drethanramslay, @openheartthot, @lucy-268, @writinghereandthere, @rookie-ramsey, @missmiimiie, @ramseyandrys, @ruinedbypixels, @queencarb, @lovingramsey, @gryffindordaughterofathena, @ohchoices, @anntoldst0ries, @bluebellot, @schnitzelbutterfingers, @mysticaurathings, @iemcpbchoices, @itsjustamesshonestly, @shanzay44, @lsdw-blog, @liaromancewriter, @heauxplesslydevoted
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The Signs and Ash:
Aries: A tiny spit of warmth in the cavernous dark. Creatures, pale and many-legged, cling to the embrace of a copper pipe. Miles deep.
Taurus: The garden of glowing whats, dangling from their holes on the underside of the world, illuminating a strange and stagnant mire.
Gemini: The acid-born highways of the great worms. Eternal larvae of some titanic winged thing, chewing blind through the vaults of the world searching for a sun that no longer exists.
Cancer: The rivers of filth dripping from wounds in the world above, meeting shores of ash from rampant smithless kilns. Strange new growths from an estuary of rot.
Leo: The path of some doomed expedition. Waysigns and rappelling cables left where they were pressed into the steel. Helmets and greaves now home to hermit crabs.
Virgo: Ash-packed vaults eroded over untold years. Lakes of oil and hydraulic fluid where things neither beast or machine now water.
Libra: The work quarter. Untouched. Long-rampant sanitation protocols keep every room and passage at a low boil.
Scorpio: Low and rhythmic humming in what passes for night. The scavengers retreat to their warrens in rusted holes and forgotten stockrooms as the swarm passes through.
Ophiuchus: The garbage chute to an incinerator long gone cold. A mountain of packed compacted waste choking an unmoving maw. Shapes in cloth and stils probe the uppermost layers.
Sagittarius: The basement level. The shining black pools the new things crawl from.
Capricorn: Where the light comes in waves. The hunting grounds. Bodies found riveted in place, stripped of their precious toxic meat.
Aquarius: The rivers that stray to the outer districts, too far from the warm embrace of the rampant forges. Frostbitten fingers reaching from their sepulcher to a cold dead earth.
Pisces: The lost ones, caught in the flow and dragged down to this place. Victims of circumstance, strangers to the places beneath them.
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Congrats on 300! ❤️
How about... Elorcan?
Definitely longer than 300 words, oops. Haha but with my bars elorcan I'm not sorry.
Send a ship and I'll give you 300 words, thanks for 300 followers!!
She tastes like strawberries.
Light and sweet. Warm and deep.
She tastes like summer days--carefree and you. A hint of freedom and joy.
"Lorcan," she whispers against his mouth. Her fingers curl into his hair drawing him close, close, and closer still.
She presses her forehead to his as she makes sure there is no opportunity for escape. Not that Lorcan would want to leave her not at all.
But they both know their time is limited.
It's already past midnight and her uncle will come along to her rooms to make sure she's not up to anything she shouldn't be.
And he is supposed to be outside the manor gates keeping watch with the other guards of Parrenth Manor. If Gavriel notices he's gone, Lorcan will be sent to the outskirts of the city for patrols.
"I need to go," he says. Of course he makes no motion to move away.
"No," Elide says immediately. She smiles in that secretive way she has as she nips at his lower lip. "Stay with me, please?"
Lorcan groans against her, his hands running down her arms, her waist. The fabric of her dress is soft against the rough callouses of his skin.
With a triumphant giggle, Elide kisses him again and Lorcan decides that her mouth on his is better than anything he could imagine.
It takes every ounce of self control to pull away.
"Your uncle will have my hide if he finds me here," Lorcan murmurs. He runs a hand through her hair so he can see her face clearly. But she's looking down at their feet avoiding his gaze.
"Okay," Elide says. She runs her hands from his neck down to his chest, resting her palm right above where his heart is.
Lorcan isn't blind. He knows there is pain in her eyes and that she's trying to hold it together.
"I know," she adds before looking up and meeting his eyes. Silver tears line her bright brown eyes. "I know."
Lorcan can't help leaning in to capture her lips again. And he pours everything he can't say into the kiss.
In the hall outside of Elide's private quarters there is the distinct sound of someone coming toward them.
Vernon Lochan's voice echoes in the high ceilings and there is no mistaking where he is headed.
"I promise," Lorcan says, lips brushing with Elide's. She sighs into him again. "I promise we will have time."
Elide nods once as Lorcan pulls away and runs to the window where there's a grappling hook and rope to help him rappel down
"Be safe," she says as he disappears into the dark.
And it's not for the first time that Lorcan wishes for a miracle that they might remain together.
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Vendredi dernier, un jeune couple est agressé place des Terreaux, soit le premier arrondissement de Lyon, sous les fenêtres du grand hôtel de Ville, quartier historique, passant et touristique. Emma, 26 ans, rentre chez elle avec son compagnon et un couple d'amis. Les filles papotent entre elles un peu en arrière des garçons lorsqu'elles sont accostées par une petite frappe qui commencent à les draguer lourdement, « zêtes bonnes » et le tout à l'avenant — Emma se permet de leur rappeler que le harcèlement de rue est puni par la loi. La chance-pour-la-France n'est pas exactement impressionnée, Emma veut partir, l'autre la traite de salope histoire de ne pas risquer l'originalité, les jeunes hommes du groupe, ayant entendu crier, reviennent sur leurs pas. Le petit-ami d'Emma s'interpose entre les filles et les deux hommes qui les suivent, quelques coups, le groupe repart, les harceleurs suivent. Le poète se met à hurler « Nique-lui bien sa mère à ce fils de p… de blanc ! » C'est pour rameuter des copains : bientôt, les pisteurs sont huit. Un peu plus loin, la bande attaque Emma et ses amis, s'en prennent à son petit-ami, roué de coups. La petite meute se disperse. Pendant ce temps-là, les amis ont appelé la police, mais les agents vont mettre vingt minutes à arriver. Puis ils refusent de laisser Emma monter dans la voiture de patrouille pour une reconnaissance du quartier. Les pompiers sont venus trois fois plus vite. Eux expliquent à Emma que ce type d'agression de produit tous les soirs. Les policiers ne prendront pas la plainte en direct, il faudra leur rendre visite. Emma raconte à la presse qu'ils avaient l'air terriblement blasés. En la quittant, ils lui lancent : « comme ça, vous savez pour qui voter l'an prochain ! » Emma n'est pas frontiste. Elle fait simplement remarquer que le maire de Lyon a déclaré ne pas vouloir de policiers dans les rues. Elle ne comprend pas. Elle ne peut plus sortir à pied autour de chez elle en soirée. On lui a dit qu'elle aurait mieux fait de ne pas répondre à ses harceleurs, que son petit-ami n'avait pas à réagir. Elle est en colère.
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L’asile pour Julian Assange !
Avec Cédric Vilani, nous avons rédigé une proposition de résolution pour que la France accorde le droit d’asile à Julian Assange. Nous avons rapidement obtenu des signatures venant de tous les groupes parlementaires.
Parce que les motifs pour défendre Julian Assange sont pluriels, divers. J’en vois au moins trois :
D’abord, les droits de l’Homme, les droits d’un homme, jamais jugé, jamais condamné, et pourtant enfermé depuis près de dix ans maintenant, pour aucun crime. Le rapporteur spécial de l’ONU sur la torture, Nils Melzer, écrit – je le cite – « Julian Assange doit à présent être libéré immédiatement, réhabilité et indemnisé pour les abus et l'arbitraire auxquels il a été exposé. »
Ensuite, les droits de la presse – et comme reporter, j’y suis attaché. Quel est le seul crime que Julian Assange ait commis ? C’est d’avoir divulgué des vérités, notamment sur les guerres américaines, en Irak, en Afghanistan. C’est comme journaliste, qu’il a suscité la colère de Washington, c’est comme lanceur d’alerte qu’il risque toujours une extradition, avec à la clé 175 années de prison.
Enfin, je vois un troisième motif, et qui me tient à cœur : patriotique. Qu’a révélé Julian Assange ? Que l’Etat français, jusqu’à son chef, était espionné par ses alliés américains. Comme le soulignait Eric Dupont-Moretti lui-même, avec force et justesse, avant de devenir ministre de la Justice – je cite : « On va tout de même rappeler ce qu’il a permis de révéler. Il a permis de révéler en France que Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy et François Hollande avaient été espionnés par les Américains, ça n'est pas rien. Il a permis de révéler également que Pierre Moscovici et François Baroin, deux ministres français de l'économie, avaient fait l'objet d'une opération d'espionnage économique conduite par les États-Unis. »
Ne serait-ce que par orgueil, pour services rendus à la Nation, nous devons accueillir Julian Assange.
« Il faut protéger toutes les libertés, déclarait le président Emmanuel Macron, en 2019. La liberté de la presse mais la liberté des individus aussi. » Julian Assange incarne à la fois la liberté de la presse et la liberté des individus.
Et j’ajouterais que, en l’accueillant, nous marquerions aussi la liberté de notre pays.
Voilà pourquoi, pour ces trois raisons, qui se cumulent, qui se mêlent, les signataires de cette résolution, issus – je le rappelle – de tous les groupes parlementaires, voilà pourquoi nous réclamons que la France accorde le droit d’asile à Julian Assange.
J’ajouterai un mot, plus personnel.
Dans un entretien paru hier, j’ai vu que John Shifton comparé son fils, Julian Assange, à Prométhée. Et c’est bizarre parce que, en début d’année, j’ai publié un ouvrage qui tournait autour de Prométhée, autour de cette figure mythologique, et je m’interrogeais :
Qui serait Prométhée, aujourd’hui ?
Comme figures dignes de lui, qui lui ressemblent, je songe aux lanceurs d’alerte. Depuis l’Olympe des multinationales, des sièges sociaux, eux assistent à l’injustice, et ils se font passeurs, à leur tour, ils volent des connaissances qu’ils livrent aux humains. Eux sont des passeurs de lumières, c’est le feu du savoir qu’ils ramènent aux hommes, pour les éclairer. Mais ils sont brûlés en retour, leur vie tourne à la tragédie : les Zeus du Pouvoir et de l’Argent s’acharnent contre eux, les voilà accusés, gardés à vue, persécutés, condamnés, emprisonnés… Comment ne pas voir en Manning et son « isolement carcéral maximum », oubliée sept années durant dans sa prison de Quantico (Virginie), dans des « conditions cruelles, inhumaines, dégradantes » d’après le rapporteur de l’Onu, comment ne pas voir en elle Prométhée, envoyée dans le Caucase, au bout du monde, à sa marge, exclu ? Et Assange dans son ambassade équatorienne, avec sa barbe blanchie, ses traits tirés, vieilli prématurément, n’est-ce pas Prométhée attaché à son rocher ?
Qu’on écoute leur histoire, alors, qu’on se la raconte, qu’on se la passe, qu’on donne un sens à ces existences sacrifiées, voilà qui peut participer du soulagement…
A vous, John Shifton, à vous, Stella Morris, et à Julian Assange, si nos propos trouvent un écho dans sa prison, je veux dire que, modestement, mais nous sommes à vos côtés. Nous vous souhaitons, dans cette épreuve, dans cette longue épreuve, nous vous souhaitons de ne pas perdre courage. Et nous espérons que, à la fin, c’est la liberté, c’est la justice, c’est la vérité qui vont gagner.
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I know its impossible for it to have happened but I would like to see some Alpha vs Darth Maul. Like Maul would be like 'oh your one of kenobi's' and Alpha would be like 'i just work for the man but i will absolutely fight you'
I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it one last time here: anon, you were so very patient and I can’t thank you enough for waiting all these months for me to finish this.
I can safely say the funniest part of writing this was trying to figure out how to put together Maul’s Drama™ and... Alpha’s penchant for avoiding drama by any means necessary. It made writing the dialogue VERY fun XD
Taglist (lmk if you want to be added!): @dudewhynotthis @merspots @the-mandalorian-clone-lover @delta-the-mando @or-te-ka-ra @huitzilinthebudgie3 @a-lil-perspective
By all accounts, the Sith isn’t supposed to be here.
Just my luck, Alpha thinks, and sighs when he remembers Fordo offered to take this one off his hands. It wasn’t worth committing the full strength of Fordo’s squad to this assignment - or so he initially thought. They hadn’t gotten word of hostile Force-users until Alpha reported his findings.
He’d been unpleasantly surprised, to say the least.
Maul and Kenobi have history, if he remembers correctly. Kenobi hasn’t told him the half of it and Alpha really doesn’t care one way or another. He wouldn’t, if he had already devised his own method for killing someone who can very likely predict his every movement.
Really, the only way to get one over on Maul would be to cut off his connection to the Force. There’s no way of doing that, as far as Alpha knows, so this op will require a fair share of ingenuity and a healthy disregard for conventional means of warfare. Some more time wouldn’t go amiss either, but Alpha will have to work with what he has.
So he lets Maul find him. Draws him out now rather than exert energy that could very well be the deciding factor later. He can’t say for sure that Maul is surprised, exactly, but whatever flickers across his face doesn’t look like anger just yet.
“I wasn’t expecting you,” the Sith says slowly, all acid sibilants.
“I suppose you were hoping for Kenobi,” Alpha dismisses. “Tough luck.”
Alpha can put up just as much of a fight as any Jetii, but letting Maul underestimate him could work to his advantage if he plays his cards right. If Kenobi’s teachings are true, the Sith use their anger to guide them. Alpha intends to use that against him.
“So he sent you in his place, is that it?”
“The general couldn’t be bothered with the likes of you,” Alpha is more than happy to inform him. “He’s beaten you once already. Why waste energy proving it again?”
That strikes a nerve. The Force might not be part of Alpha’s arsenal, but he can read the rage in Maul’s expression all the same. Better to tread cautiously now; provoke Maul too soon, and the force of his anger will be too much for Alpha to redirect.
The Sith is examining him closely. “You must be one of Kenobi’s, then.”
Alpha shrugs. “Not exactly, but for our purposes - you could say so.”
“You feel no loyalty to him?” Maul asks slyly like that will get under Alpha’s skin.
“Depends on the day.” Alpha lets his hand drift casually to his blaster. “If you’re looking for a fight, I’d be happy to fill in. Like I said, Kenobi couldn’t care less about - ”
True to his intuition, Maul’s first attack isn’t based in the Force. He’s faster than Alpha anticipated, but he manages to dodge the headlong strike. Maul pivots, and a double-bladed lightsaber appears in his hands.
Maul is fast - Alpha just has to be faster.
Evasion isn’t Alpha’s usual style, but he recognizes the necessity given the threat he’s facing. It’s no use trying to get a round past Maul’s saber; it would likely be deflected back at him anyways.
And there’s no way Alpha can pull this off if he and the Sith are on equal footing. But if he can make the environment work to his advantage - if he can force Maul onto the wrong foot and seize that opportunity when it arises - he just might have a chance.
Still, Maul isn’t sloppy enough that an opening will appear without some coaxing on Alpha’s end. It’ll mean sacrificing discipline for whatever works in the moment, but he decides it’s justifiable given the payoff.
Even as he stays in motion he’s careful not to expend more energy than is strictly necessary. It’s just as well Jango was never one for fancy footwork; Alpha doesn’t get caught up in anything of the sort now. Eventually, however, Maul catches on and pulls back, eyeing him.
“Kenobi’s lessons weren’t lost on you, I see.”
Alpha lets him talk, mind racing all the while. The compound’s labyrinthine layout could give him an edge - he’ll just have to do what he can to avoid getting crossed up along the way. But there’ll be risks no matter what; it’s just a matter of choosing the approach that will leave him the most room to adapt.
Just as Maul begins another pass with his saber, Alpha sends a few well-placed shots towards the Sith's feet and makes a break for a doorway just off Maul’s left shoulder.
Something collides with the wall dangerously close to his head, aided by the Force. Alpha ducks away instinctively but doesn’t look back. The first corridor is narrow; the second opens up to a catwalk that overlooks a wide hangar several meters below.
He doesn’t have time to plant charges around the doorframe. It’s a shame, really - even the Force wouldn’t reveal detonators. But no use lamenting what he can’t have; Maul isn’t far behind.
Alpha doesn’t much like the thought of getting caught on the catwalk, either, but there’s no other route out of this section of the compound. At least it’s stable; he doesn’t like to think what could happen if he didn’t have secure footing.
He’s nearly halfway across, just starting to think he might’ve pulled this off when something slams into him from behind and he’s plunging towards the hangar floor in an uncontrolled fall, fighting blind panic.
It’s sheer dumb luck that his rappel line catches something solid. He clutches at the taut line, muscles shaking with exertion and a fresh wave of adrenaline. Regaining a clearheaded state of mind is a conscious effort made all the more difficult by the realization that for all the Sith underestimated him, it’s painfully clear that Alpha badly underestimated Maul.
With the catwalk no longer an option - he’ll only be walking straight into the onslaught - Alpha draws a steadying breath and lets himself fall. The breath is knocked from his lungs when he hits the ground, but he manages to roll with the impact.
One glance towards the catwalk confirms Maul intends to follow him. Before the Sith’s feet hit the floor, Alpha fires. Maul is nowhere near defenseless, but splitting his concentration between fending off Alpha’s attack and manipulating the Force is the closest he’ll get.
The first shot clips Maul’s shoulder; the second hits home center mass. Knocked back by the force of impact, Maul’s landing is graceless and uncoordinated. Alpha presses his advantage, aiming for vulnerable joints.
Another round sears Maul’s arm. He snarls and switches his blade to his other hand. Despite Alpha’s best efforts, a few more steps and he’ll be too close for comfort.
Alpha risks a glance at the catwalk. After Maul’s attack, it’s unlikely it’ll hold up under additional strain. He still has a few detonators on hand, and given their positioning…
The explosion rocks the hangar. Shards of metal pepper the hangar floor, and the catwalk begins to buckle. Sheets of metal tear away and plummet to the ground.
Alpha throws himself aside, narrowly avoiding being crushed. Maul isn’t so lucky. Another section of the catwalk crashes down, and the Sith disappears beneath the metal.
The hangar is oddly silent now; the ragged gasps seizing Alpha’s chest are suddenly deafening. He half expects Maul to explode out of the wreckage, enraged, but there’s no sign of movement.
Time to pull out.
Traveling to the nearest Republic outpost will take the better part of a day, but they’ve got reinforcements and his ride out of here. And if the rumors are to be believed, Fordo and his squad are just a star system away. Navigating through Separatist-infested territory will no doubt be slow going, but if he has to he can hold out until -
And suddenly a vice tightens around his throat and he claws at his neck instinctively, his free hand scrabbling for a hold on his knife, lungs aching as he struggles to breathe, and Maul proves to be very much alive, looming over Alpha, lightsaber in hand once again.
Even as Alpha’s vision threatens to fade - he can’t breathe - it registers distantly that Maul is within arm’s length. There’s a knife sheathed on Alpha’s belt - there’s a slim chance he can - if he could just -
Maul steps closer.
Alpha drives his knife up and in and doesn’t let go until it sinks to the hilt. Maul is howling, the hangar echoing with the animalistic scream, and the blur of red at the edge of Alpha’s vision streaks closer -
And then the pressure on his neck abruptly loosens. He curls into himself instinctively, coughing as he struggles to draw air into his lungs. The telltale hum of lightsabers drowns out Maul’s snarling; Alpha can’t help thinking that at least if he dies here, he’ll die on his feet. Not the death he’d have preferred, but -
“Easy, Captain.” A gentle pressure on his shoulder accompanies the familiar voice, and Kenobi’s face comes into view. He’s smiling, somehow, as though he couldn’t be bothered with the ongoing duel behind him. Of course Skywalker is here too; where his Master goes, he goes.
There’s a story behind that, no doubt, but Alpha has a feeling everything will be divulged in due time.
“Well, you certainly took your time, General,” Alpha grumbles with a halfhearted attempt at exasperation after Kenobi is done detailing exactly how he and his Padawan ended up here when they were expected at the Temple.
“We made a few detours along the way,” Kenobi answers, flashing his Padawan a wry look that suggests those detours were likely not by their design.
Skywalker decidedly ignores his Master’s remark and instead says, “So now what?”
Alpha sighs. “Maul escaped, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
“And you’re not going after him,” Kenobi declares, correctly interpreting the look on Skywalker’s face and the set of his shoulders.
“We don’t know what kind of reinforcements he might have,” Alpha points out. “Or where he is now, for that matter.”
“And some of us need medical attention,” Kenobi adds with a pointed look at Alpha.
“It’s nothing serious,” Alpha says, more out of habit than anything as he knows full well his protests fall on deaf ears.
“I’ve had worse,” he insists. “Sir.”
“Humor me,” Kenobi says with enough of an edge to his voice that Alpha understands the words are not open for interpretation. “I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of him.”
“Do me a favor, then, General.”
“Next time you run into him, knock his shebs to haran and back.”
Kenobi smiles. “I’ll see what I can do, Captain.”
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sleep now, little bird
summary: ezra + back massage = happy reader
a/n: long time lurker, first time writer. that’s pretty much all there is to it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
you drop your pack by the pod door and schlump to your cot, collapsing to your stomach on the thin mattress with an unceremonial huff.
prospecting on treval fucks.
that the atmosphere is breathable is its only redeemable quality. being able to harvest without restrictive outerwear is a welcome reprieve, but everything else absolutely eats shit.
your quarry—the illusive weeping yaquetta, sought after for its combined medicinal and sexual aide properties—has thus far proven to be a little bitch. apparently, it likes to grow on the side of precariously tall rock faces; and dexterous as you are, ezra insists you be the one to climb up the mountains and root around between loose rocks for the damn sprig of blue grass. he, of course, is lucky bastard who gets to remain on solid ground and man the rappel system as you climb.
the last two days have been hell, but you’re nearly done the job. just one day more, one more good harvest, and then you can be off this god-forsaken planet and never return.
you hear him enter and shed his jacket before you see him. you really don’t want to open your eyes, not with sleep lying just beyond your grasp.
but ezra’s footfalls are heavy and his patterns are undeviating. if you don’t ask for a moment of peace before he has the chance to descend into his long monologues about god-knows-what, you will be up until well after you’ve eaten, nodding along in exhausted dedication to hear him out this one last tale.
you sit up, but keep your eyes shut. with a heavy sigh, you fist your hands against your legs. “ezra, i am so tired i could cry, so i would really appreciate it if we had just... a few hours of quiet... so i can rest.”
ezra doesn’t say anything for a long time, and you can feel his eyes on your face.
you open your eyelids slowly. you’re prepared to meet a stern-faced ezra, expression nonplussed or offended. however, he simply stares at you from across the room with a mixture of amusement and sympathy.
“you have been quite the assiduous worker the last few days, little bird,” he says, his voice a rumble in his chest. “not to mention, placed in moments of great peril and remained unwavering in spite of it.”
you shake your head. “you were never going to let me fall.”
he slides the worn leather gloves from his hands and tosses them to the side. “no, i would never intentionally.” he tilts his head, lifting his brows. “but had a brisk wind relaxed my hold on the slack-lines? or a sudden hoop-and-holler from the woods distracted me?”
“stop,” you warn, returning to your stomach on the cot. “i don’t want to think about that.”
“of course not.”
you close your eyes, effectively blocking him from view. “i just want to sleep a little bit.”
when he hums in approval, he sounds close—closer than he had been before. you push the thought from your sleep-cloudy mind. “of course.”
minutes pass, and you easily slip beneath a thin veil of sleep. it’s hard to sleep deeply on a planet like treval (yet another reason why prospecting here sucks). the jungle is always alive with activity—a combination of unseen animals calling to one another and long tree branches whacking against the pod’s frame. the rest you do find is enough, though. especially now, with your bones as weary as they are and your muscles as sore as they’ve ever been.
a pair of firm, warm hands come to rest on your shoulders, and you startle.
“oh!” you gasp, somewhere between reality and a dream world.
ezra’s voice is soft as he works to calm your fears. “hush, dear heart,” he whispers. his breath fans the side of your face, and you relax, falling back to the pillow, eyes still shut.
he moves his palm across the expanse of your back before turning to your shoulder. “it is on my account that you find yourself so plagued with fatigue. i made you scale those mountains, and for that, i offer you my most profound apologies.”
he squeezes his fingertips along your tense muscles. “it is merely that i am larger than you, both in height and relative muscle bulk. i fear that you would not be able to hold me steady from fifty feet below.”
he continues to massage your shoulders, his thumbs digging beneath a knot in your shoulder blades. you bite your lip to keep from groaning.
“it is easier for me to keep an eye on you as you ascend the mountains.”
something in your back pops and floods your body with relief. it’s getting harder and harder to listen to ezra and the dulcet sound of his voice with his hands working on you this way. he feels far away but so close at the same time. you swallow hard.
“and, if i am to be a gentleman and confess my sins, i must admit that the view is a mite more pleasant from below.”
if you didn’t feel so close to bliss, the knots and pinched muscles soothed under ezra’s touch, you would whack his arm. as it is, you can feel yourself drifting toward sleep again—no matter how much you want to stay awake now.
“tomorrow, we will scavenge the jungle floor. i am sure the object of our mission grows within the earth, not simply the highlands.”
you manage to respond to this with a muffled oof when he kneads against a particularly tight bundle of nerves.
suddenly, his hands stop. you want to protest, to beg him for more, but then he presses his palm to the back of your head. you can feel his thumb work along the pattern of your hair, and you feel all the more at ease.
“sleep now, little bird.” he kisses the top of your head and remains by your side until you fall into your first restful sleep in days.
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I know it's not on any bingo cards or anything, but i just saw the prompt 'unable to get to injured teammate' and i was wondering if you could write it for Marjan
“Fuck!” Marjan yells as her feet begin to slip on the edge of the cliff. It was supposed to be stable enough for a rescue but it’s crumbling. “Fuck, everyone get back! Get away from the edge!”
Unfortunately, it’s too late to heed her own warning, and the ground goes out from beneath her feet before she can run. She goes down, falling past the trapped hikers they were attempting to rescue, hitting several rocks and a tree on her fall until she’s finally caught on a ledge some 500 feet down. She hit her head somewhere on the fall, but luckily it’s just her body that takes the brunt of the final impact. Lucky, however, is a relative term.
“Marwani, come in,” her radio crackles. It sounds staticky from the distance. She’s amazed it isn’t broken. “Are you okay?”
“I’m alive,” she manages to say back.
Her legs are both definitely broken. She can tell from the pain and the awkward angles they’ve taken on. The wind has been knocked out of her, and the pain in her torso suggests she may have broken some ribs, maybe her pelvis. Her head is bleeding into her eyes. One arm has a compound fracture- her dominant arm- and the other has three probably broken fingers.
“I’m in bad shape, Cap,” she tells the radio.
“What hurts?” That sounds like TK now.
“Both my legs and one of my arms are definitely broken. I think I cracked some ribs and my pelvis and some fingers too. I’ve definitely taken some blunt force trauma from the fall. And I hit my head on the way down, it’s bleeding pretty bad.”
“Try to stay still,” Captain Strand says. “We can’t reach you from here, it’s too unstable. We have to go down to the bottom of the cliff and climb up to you. Should take us maybe half an hour, do you think you can make it?”
Marjan wants to say yes.
“I don’t know.”
There’s silence for long enough that Marjan wonders if her radio is broken before it crackles back to life.
“TK is going to rappel down the cliff with a medical bag to stabilize you until we can get you to safety, okay, Marjan? Just stay where you are and stay awake.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Marjan?” It’s Nancy now, speaking into the radio. “I want you to talk to us, to help you stay awake.”
She wipes the blood out of her eyes and finds her hand to be dripping.
“I’m losing a lot of blood,” she says. “I’m getting dizzy.”
“Just stay with us, Marj. Tell us about your roller derby team, how’s that going?”
Before Marjan can answer, she’s hit with a bout of nausea, turning her head to the side to throw up. There’s dark splotches in it like coffee grounds. Blood.
“Bad news. I just threw up, and there’s blood in it.”
“TK is almost there,” Nancy promises. “Then we’re gonna meet him at the bottom. Help is coming, Marj, stay with us.”
When Marjan looks up, she can see TK only about a hundred feet above her, slowly making his way down. In moments, TK touches down on the ledge beside her and unclips his harness.
“I’m with Marjan,” he radios, and kneels beside her with the medical bag.’
She can hear the sirens going above them, rushing to get to the bottom of the cliff and back up to them. He whistles through his teeth at the sight of her and kneels next to her body. The first thing he does is secure a C-Collar over her neck. The second is to press a wad of clean gauze to her forehead.
“You’re gonna be okay,” he promises her. “I’m right here. Our team is coming for us. Just keep your eyes open, Marjan.”
His face softens. “I know. But you’re gonna make it, okay?”
His big duffel bag appears to contain splints, which he manages to affix on her arm and legs. He tells her they’re sending a backboard when they get up to them, and Tommy and Nancy will have blood ready in the ambulance. As he speaks, he readies a needle and flicks the air out of it.
“5 of morphine.”
He injects it into her and moves down to her lower body.
“Can you move your feet for me?”
She struggles, but manages to press down against his palm with both feet, proving she’s not paralyzed. That in of itself is a relief, until she has to throw up again.
“I think I’m dying.”
“No, no no no no,” TK assures immediately. “You’re not dying. No one’s dying. You’re gonna be okay.”
He changes her soaked gauze. “No, Marjan, stay awake for me.”
He starts to raise his voice, trying to get her to stay with him, but the blood loss, morphine, and adrenaline crash have her drifting off.
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Obligations (The INKED Collection)
THE INKED COLLECTION: A series of full-length one-shots detailing the stories of various Haikyuu boys, soulmate marks, and tattoo cover-ups.
Tw: knife-play, mentions of blood, mentions of death, mentions of prostitution, use of guns, implicit sex, mentions of alcohol/drinking, minor character dies
Word count: 5.3k
Pairing: Mafia-boss!Oikawa x fem!rival reader
Genre: Mafia soulmate AU
Summary: A debt to repay, family obligations, and a quest for revenge leads you down an interesting path. Fate really has a way of messing with you, doesn’t it?
AN: Thank you so much to @samuthots for beta-reading this!!
I said the next few one-shots would be fluffier but...I lied, I’m sorry. Next time! 🤞
“(Name). Thank you for gracing us with your presence.” You nod at Ushijima as you stand at attention in front of his desk.
In the shadows, a familiar red-head appeared. He took a seat at the corner of Ushijima’s desk, his leg dangling close to yours. “Take a seat, dove.”
You wait for Ushijima, who nods his head at the leather chair beside you. “Thank you, sir.” Sitting down, you watch Ushijima impassively.
He lights the cigarette between his lips, taking a deep inhale. “Do you know why I have called you here today?” Ushijima looks at you, letting the smoke billow out.
“Not particularly, sir.”
“It’s about your favourite group,” Tendou teased, fiddling with his custom knife. The silver notches in the deep maroon blade the only sign of its use.
“Funny, I didn’t know Nekoma was on the move in Miyagi.”
Tendou scowled, his finger pausing on the tip. “Don’t be foolish, birdie.” In earlier years, the sharp bite of his voice would have frightened you. Nowadays, you hide your chuckle.
“Now, now, you were asking for that,” Ushijima chuckled, his lip twitching. He leaned back in his seat as a cloud of grey smoke left his lips. Olive eyes freeze you in place with a hard stare as the smoke curls around the desk. “It involves Aoba Johsai.” Ushijima extinguished the cigar in the matte black tray underneath the golden eagle that sat on his desk, one final cloud puffing towards you.
You ducked as the bullet richoted over your head, peeking back over the desk as you examined your quarry. “There’s nowhere else to go, Iwaizumi,” you sang, popping another magazine in.
“Like you can take me alone, sweetcheeks.”
You giggle, pulling your dress up to grab the knife strapped to your thigh. You could almost smell the panic that was rising in the underboss. Peeking back up, you threw your knife in the direction of his voice before immediately rolling the opposite direction as bullets buried themselves in the wall where you’d just been. In one clean movement, you grabbed the chair and threw it at him, causing him to stumble out of his hiding place and drop his gun.
Your eyes met as you stalked towards him. “All alone, nobody here to save you. How does it feel, Iwaizumi?”
He cracked a smile. “I wouldn’t know. Care to share?”
The sound of a window shattering behind you caused you to duck, cursing as three bodies rappelled in. You eyed the reinforcements before sneering at your prey. “Until next time, dear.”
The corner of your lip twitches, revealing the deep-seated emotions. “What of them?”
“Boss, there have been some reports about Seijoh.”
Ushijima cast his gaze around the room, eyeing the people gathered. Next to him was Reon, his consigliere. On the opposite end of the table was Tendou, who was fiddling with his knife like always. You sat beside Tendou, polishing your gun as you clicked your tongue. “When is Ushijima ever pleased with news about Seijoh?” You mutter beside Tendou who let out a breathy chuckle, nearly indiscernible to everyone but you. He continued to toss his knife up, not looking as he caught it over and over again as his sleepy gaze slid onto the faces of those present.
“What is it?” Ushijima asked, olive eyes fixing onto Goshiki who was trembling in his seat. Poor kid. It was his first cabinet meeting.
Immediately, the room tensed. Your grip on the microfiber cloth tightened as icy claws squeezed your heart. Beside you, Tendou slammed the knife into the table, the knife sticking up and quivering at the sheer force he used. The boss remained silent, taking the time to place a cigarette between his lips and lighting it. You could see the whites of his knuckles as he did so. Everyone else was waiting anxiously. Goshiki looked like he was about to vomit due to his nerves.
“I see.” Ushijima blew out the smoke, lightly tapping the ash away. He stood up, puffing the cigarette once more as he started to pace back and forth behind his desk. You watched his calculated movements, waiting. It was so silent you could hear a pin drop. “How disrespectful,” Ushijima murmured, finally extinguishing his cigarette into the tray. He turned his back to the cabinet, staring at the map of Miyagi behind his desk. “Do you know why this family doesn’t deal, Goshiki?”
Goshiki jumped, paling. He gulped, casting his eyes to the rest of the cabinet before looking at Ushijima’s back once more. “Because it’s improper.”
Ushijima let out a chuckle, turning back to face them and clapping his hands. “Improper is one way to put it.” His expression darkened. “It’s disgraceful. Distasteful. When this family begins dealing with human lives, kidnapping them and subjecting them to prostitution,” his entire face contorts at the word, “will be the day that I die and no sooner.” Ushijima sat down, adjusting his suit jacket. “Tendou.(Name).”
The underboss straightened, eyes narrowing. “Yes?”
“See to it that their channels, and Seijoh, are destroyed.”
Tendou leans forward, glancing at you as he smirked. “With pleasure.”
Ushijima leaned forward, linking his fingers as he rested his elbows onto the mahogany desk. “They put out the mark on Washijo.” Your eyes widened.
“Where will you go, little one?”
You shrug, small pudgy hands bunching up the bottom of the black dress you were wearing. “I dunno.” You watch as the coffins are lowered into the ground, ignoring the gentle and kind words of random faces that have blurred together. What could a six year old do by themselves anyways?
“Come with me. You’ll never be alone again, I promise.” Looking up, you were greeted to a kind face, his hand outstretched to you. “Call me Washijo. Or Godfather.”
Your fingers hesitantly curled around his. “Ok...Godfather.”
Your fingers twitch, a darkness seeping into your eyes. “Is that so?”
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you for your continued support.”
The cycle repeated, on and on. You stood beside Ushijima, watching critically as each person approached the coffin to pay their respects before they moved towards Ushijima and Tendou to offer their loyalty.
You glanced up at the family head, forcing your hands to still. “How much longer?”
He shook hands with another associate. “Impatient, (Name)?”
You shake your head lightly - almost unnoticeable except to the two men beside you. “Just eager.”
Tendou glanced at you, smirking slightly. “That’s my girl.”
Tendou’s eyes glinted as he eyes you carefully. “You know what you need to do now, don’t you, dovey?”
You glance up at the underboss, smirking slightly. “Of course, sir.”
“Come at me, little bird,” Tendou smirked, spreading his arms open for you as he tossed a knife up. You make no move, just eyeing the underboss. His smirk widens into a grin before he throws himself at you. Ducking under his arm, you elbow his shoulder causing him to stumble.
Tendou is quick to right himself, whirling around and swiping forward. Another side-step. You circle each other, examining each other’s steps. “Stop running away and fight me, pretty one. Or are you scared?”
Your face darkens but you swallow back any comebacks. Tendou loved to coax out your attitude. He tosses his knife once more, drawing your attention. Unfortunately, that distraction led to you missing the diagonal kick that he threw. It took all of your reflexes to direct the kick away, but that only brought Tendou closer.
Cool metal brushed against your flesh as your shirt tore. Springing back, your hand moved towards it. Your nose wrinkled. “This was my favorite shirt.”
Tendou shrugged, “get better reflexes then, dove.” His vermillion eyes narrow on the patchwork of black ink that poked out through the slivers of fabric, chuckling. “I almost always forget about that.” His gaze traveled to his forearm where his own tattoo was peeking out from under his rolled up sleeve.
You glance at your own, remembering the first contract that you’d taken after getting it.
“That’s some interestin’ ink there darlin’.” The heady scent of booze filled the air as his thumb brushed against the sliver of black that was revealed as you slipped down your dress. The male grinded his crotch into yours as one of his meaty hands groped your exposed breast.
“You like it?” You purr, pushing the dress down completely as you reach for something behind you. “It’s a Shiratorizawa eagle.” His eyes widened as he made a move to scramble back. “Say goodnight, darlin’.” You smile, eyes flashing dangerously. Silver reflected in the dim lights of the sleazy motel as a soft phut! echoed in the room.
You had taken immense pleasure in that kill. He had been particularly revolting. One of the major investors in the prostitution ring that Seijoh ran. He’d taken many...liberties with his purchases. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the child bride that he had purchased abroad.
Tendou chuckled, swiping his own thumb onto the ink. “What pretty ink for my pretty birdie.” The tip of his knife traces along your jaw, trailing up until the point lightly pressed into your lip. “You never fail me, do you, dove?”
“If I had, you would have tried to clip my wings.” You tease, seemingly innocent eyes meeting his as you licked the side of the blade. “Isn’t that right?”
“That’s right.” He pressed down harder. Red droplets enveloped the maroon blade, gliding along the edge as he pulled it away. Tendou’s tongue darted out, swiping along the blade. He let out a groan at the metallic taste before he threw the knife away, grabbing your exposed hip and pulling you towards him to capture your lips in a violent clash of teeth. “You may be my pretty little bird, but I would never hesitate to kill you if you betray us.”
“What a pain in the ass,” you grumble, kicking your heels off as you re-entered the hotel suite.
“Dressing up so pretty, it’s a shame nobody will be helping you out of it.” You glance up, seeing the red-head leaning against the door frame of your shared room. You and Tendou had been assigned as Semi’s body-guards. Tendou walks towards the window, leaning his arms against the frame as he stares out. One arm was at eye-level, the other placed onto the bottom frame. He glances at you. “Come here, dove.”
Sighing, you concede, scanning the room as you did so. There was only one bed. You stand beside Tendou, watching silently as people bustled out on the streets below you. It was clear that Paris was still lively even at night. “A view like any other, Tendou.”
Tendou throws his head back in laughter, placing the bottom hand on your hip to guide you to stand in front of him. “Perhaps. But a view shared with someone else? In an intimate setting?” He lowers his voice, the heat of his breath warming your bare-skin. “The city of love and we’re here together - all alone.”
“We aren’t alone. Semi’s in the other room.”
He ignores your words, placing feathery kisses along the column of your neck. A ghost of a smile on his face as he hums. A breathy moan leaves you as you lean forward, resting your hands beside Tendou’s. He slides his hands on top of yours. “Won’t you entertain me, pretty bird?”
Your grip tightens on him, bringing him crashing back into your lips for you to devour. Pulling away, you rasp against his lips, “I’ll be yours for as long as you are mine.”
The knife quivered in its place - dead-center of the photo that was plastered on the dart board. On it was the boss of Seijoh who stared out into the room with empty brown eyes that sparkled at nothing.
The named boy snapped to attention, his back straightening. “Y-yes!”
Ushijima lifted the files. “Give these to Tendou.”
“Yes sir.” Goshiki took the folders, carefully carrying them to Tendou.
“More contracts. Tendou. Get them out and assigned.”
Ushijima puffed on his cigarette. “Semi received approval for his latest venture. Reon, see to it that the rest of our associates are invited to the launch party.”
“Also see to it that our rounds are increased. It seems that Karasuno is trying to cause a racket in our jurisdiction.” Ushijima tapped his fingers thoughtfully, taking another long draw. “(Name).”
“Any updates on your mark?”
“Do you know who I am?”
He shook his head, swallowing. “Why am I here?”
“Let me give you a hint.” You tear down the collar of his shirt, tapping on the small plant that was under his collarbone.
“Who are you?”
You smirk, pulling up the bottom of your shirt, letting your ink reach the lights. His eyes widened. You loved seeing the fear in their eyes. “What do you want from me?”
Stepping back, you turn a chair around and straddle it, facing him as you twirled a pistol. “Information. Tell me what you want to know, and I’ll let you go. Simple as that.”
Your victim eyes the door, sweat beading his forehead before he glances back at you. “What do you want to know?”
You smirk. “Tell me about Seijoh’s plans for the prostitution rings and what your beloved boss will be doing for the next week or so.”
He gulps. “If I do, you’ll let me go?”
“Assassin’s honour.” You hold your hand up, leaning forward. “Do we have a deal?”
He nods, opening his mouth to tell you everything. As soon as he finishes, you stand up. “Thank you for your cooperation.” You walk past his chair, throwing a knife and cutting through the rope. “Feel free to leave.”
He scurries towards the door, barely righting himself up as he slips on the rope. A gunshot echoes around the room. He falls face-forward. “You-you lied,” he rasped, crawling towards the door as you walked towards him.
“I didn’t lie. I let you go.” You bent down, clicking your tongue as you rolled him over. “Shame. Family doesn’t betray one another.”
“He’ll be at the casino on Friday.”
A flicker of triumph dances in Ushijima’s eyes as he leaned forward and folded his hands on the table. “Excellent.”
“They’ve killed Kumini.”
“Did he talk?”
Iwaizumi grunted, folding his arms. “You’re their next mark.”
“Is that right?” Oikawa chuckled, fingers drumming on the wooden desk. “Makes sense. I did kill their oh so honourable godfather.” He rolled his eyes, raising his eyes to stare at his underboss. “So? Who have they got after me?”
Oikawa’s eyes twinkle with recognition. “I suppose we will finally meet, pretty bird.”
Iwaizumi rolled his eyes. “Don’t get yourself killed, Shittykawa. We still need you here to run things.”
“Don’t say things like that, Iwa-chan. Otherwise, I’ll think you care.”
“If you weren’t the boss, I would kill you now.” Oikawa’s laughter filled his office as he spun in his chair, hands behind his head. Iwaizumi narrows his eyes, unimpressed. “Well?”
“Well, what Iwa-chan?”
He grabbed the arm of Oikawa’s chair, stopping it from spinning further. “What do you plan on doing about her?”
Oikawa shrugged. “Well, I can’t very well let her kill me.” He leans forward in his chair, reaching for his own gun. A long slender finger stroked the engraving on the barrel of his pistol. “If she won’t accept me as a soulmate, then she’ll just have to die. Simple as that.”
Ushijima took particular care wrapping his knuckles as he stood in the ring, flexing his fingers here and there. You’d just finished bench-pressing, sitting up and waiting for the boss to finish. “How are you feeling, (Name)?” You’d both been in the gym working out for over an hour now, slightly sweaty from the weight-training.
You rolled your shoulders, sipping from your bottle. “Ready like always, Toshi.”
Ushijima hummed, watching as you lift the bottom of your shirt to wipe the sweat from your face. His olive eyes narrowed on the wings of your tattoo. “Washijo was always proud of you. You were the finest he’s ever trained.”
Your expression softens. You and Ushijima had both been taken in by Washijo at a young age, trained to fill the line of succession as the Shiratorizawa boss - a.k.a your father - had just been assassinated. When Ushijima was of age, Washijo fully stepped back and took his place as Godfather and let Ushijima become the boss. You, however, had never desired power. Not upfront anyways. By title, you were Tendou’s bodyguard. Between you, Ushijima, and Tendou, you were the true underboss of Shiratorizawa.
Standing up, you tap your knuckles into your palm. “Are we sparring or what, Toshi?”
Ushijima rolled his eyes, beckoning you to join him in the ring. You hopped over the rope, landing softly in the ring. “Don’t go easy on me,” he teased.
You roll your eyes. “When have I ever, Toshi?” Your eyes harden as you raise your arms in an upright stance, weaving and keeping your feet light. Ushijima was a Southpaw, using his dominant left hand to throw people off-balance. In addition to that, his fighting style was one of a boxer-puncher. You ducked as he led with a jab. Guiding his jab away, you swooped in with your own uppercut only for him covered up to block you. You slid your feet back, letting the force push you away from Ushijima as you brought your arms back. Switching from an orthodox stance to a southpaw stance in order to put him off-balance, you feinted with a jab and went in with a cross. Ushijima grunted, head reeling slightly as you made contact with his chin.
“You were always tricky,” he muttered, rubbing his chin with his forearm. As his arm raised, his white shirt tightened and you were greeted with the sight of the black ink that swirled on his left pectoral. Your arms quickly raised as Ushijima threw a hook at you. Distracted as you moved back, Ushijima looped his arms around your shoulders and scooped you up under the forearms to hold you against him. Your forehead slammed into his cheek as he smashed his shoulder up into your chin.
“Asshole.” You growled as he released you, stumbling backwards.
“Thought you weren’t going easy on me, (Name)?” Ushijima said, amusement flickering in his gaze.
“Don’t damage the merchandise, ‘Toshi. How else am I going to get the mark?” You rub your chin with your palm.
“You’d find a way. You always do.” Ushijima approached you, sliding your shirt up slightly to examine your tattoo. His thumb swiped against the kanji in the eagle’s claws, his expression unreadable. “Make us proud, (Name).”
“Thank you to everyone who has joined me here today to celebrate the opening of my new casino.” Semi’s voice reverberated around the ballroom as you entered, hips swaying. “It is truly a momentous occasion, and I am honoured to have so many familiar faces here tonight. After all, without your support, I would not be here today.”
His brown eyes met yours before gliding over to olive and vermillion. Ushijima and Tendou were at the baccarat table. Ushijima’s olive eyes met yours momentarily as he sipped his whiskey on the rocks, face impassive. Tendou’s focus was on the table as he scanned the cards before placing his wager down. It was easier to launder money when they too participated in the games. Unfortunately, due to Tendou’s impressive guessing-nature, it was all too easy for him to win and led to him being barred at many other casinos.
Semi’s speech continued as you picked your way through the crowds, walking past Ushijima and Tendou as you made your way to the bar. “Is he here yet?” you murmured as you passed Ushijima. The male took two sips. No. Your fingers twitched, anticipation filling you. Soon. Soon, you’ll get revenge for your guardian’s death.
“Now! Please enjoy yourselves tonight, I know I will,” Semi winked to the audience, raising his glass of champagne. The drunks cheered, helping themselves to the complimentary glasses around the room.
“Heyyy there pretty lady,” a random male slurred. “Lemme buy you a drink.”
A fake smile slid onto your face as you turned towards him. He leaned a majority of his weight against the bar, his cologne almost as strong as the smell of alcohol. “Well aren’t you just a sweetheart?” You fiddled with his tie, placating the male.
He grinned, nodding. His face was completely flushed. “What’ll you have, doll?”
“An old-fashioned please. With Buffalo Trace Bourbon.” You glanced at the bartender, winking as your eyes met Taichi’s.
“Right away Miss.”
“Pricy lady, aren’t you?” Your benefactor muttered, blanching at the price of the bourbon.
“Classy,” you corrected, taking the glass. “Thank you, doll.” Sipping it, you made your way towards the V.I.P. tables were. If your sources were correct, you’d find Oikawa at the craps table. The family head was apparently extremely social. Unfortunately, you were stopped.
“My, my. Isn’t my soulmate a pretty one?”
Your breath hitched - the only sign of your shock that had filled you. “Aren’t you forward, Oikawa-san?”
He chuckled into your ear. “Come with me.” He casts a wary glance around. “Act like you’ve seduced me into following you.”
You stepped forward, fiddling with his tie as you leaned up to whisper into his ear. “How did you find me?”
“Isn’t hard, sweetheart. You stand out in every room you step in.” His hand tilted your chin up, his thumb sweeping against your bottom lip. “Not the best trait for an assassin.” He plucks your drink from your hand, finishing it for you. “Not bad.”
You slip your fingers up, slotting your fingers into his. “Come with me, sweetheart.”
Vermillion eyes turned into slits as they watched you both slink towards the elevator.
“You’re my soulmate?” you ask as soon as you enter the room, whirling onto Oikawa.
He tilts his head, eyes scanning you. “You didn’t know?”
“How could I?” you hiss, a hand settling over the kanji on your hip. “I’ve been the right-hand for too many years. My Godfather always told me that soulmates were irrelevant.”
He scoffs, folding his arms. “And now you’re about to kill yours.”
You shake your head, hands stiff. “I can’t.”
“Why not?” He took a step closer to you. “Isn’t that your job?” Another step. He was between your legs now. “The Talons of Shiratorizawa, isn’t that your nickname?” He cupped your cheek once more.
“I can’t kill my soulmate,” you whisper, guilt overwhelming you.
“What is it you’re reading there, little one?”
You look up to your godfather, giving him a toothy grin. “Cinderella!”
“Oh? What’s that about?” Washijo sat in the child’s seat beside you, looking down at the book in your arms.
“A maid gets bullied by her stepmother and a handsome prince rescues her!”
Washijo’s brows furrowed. “Why are you reading that?”
You shrug, grinning still. “I wanna meet a prince!”
“My precious little bird, the only one who can save you is yourself. The only one who can control your fate is you. Don’t rely on others.” He stands, dusting off his pants. “Come along. Let’s start today’s training, shall we?”
The door opened, revealing an all-too familiar male as he sauntered into the room. “There you are, pretty one. Was worried my dove got caged up somewhere.” He eyed Oikawa, irritation in his eyes. “You haven’t finished the job yet?”
“You knew, didn’t you.”
Tendou shrugged, brandishing the knife he so often played with. “Does it matter if I did? You know the rules.”
“What happened to your soulmate Satori?” You asked, sitting up slightly and scanning his nude body.
He pulled out his phone, showing you a photo of his bare forearm. The kanji was smeared. “Dead.”
“What’s the story there?” Your fingers traced the folded wings of the eagle over the spot where the kanji had been.
Tendou hummed, rolling over to pin you under him once more. “Do you remember the story of how I came to Shiratorizawa?’
“I think I was in the states when you joined,” you replied, gazing up into his eyes.
He stroked your cheek with the back of his index finger, dragging it down to your chin. “She was killed in a freak accident. Or, that’s what the police said.” He scoffed. “What really happened was a shoot-out at an Eagle’s club.” He gripped your chin, tilting your head up. Leaning down, he nosed along the column of your neck, nibbling along it. “Seijoh shot up the club that she was at in order to get back at Shiratorizawa. They managed to cover it up and blamed Shiratorizawa’s poor security for not detecting the ‘terrorist’.”
“I think I remember that.” He bite down onto a pre-existing love-bite, drawing out a groan from the back of your throat. His tongue lathed over the spot.
“Came straight to Wakatoshi and promised my life to him if he helped me get revenge on them.” His lips traveled down your chest, traveling to your hip. He bit down on top of the kanji that stared up at him, covering it with his own mark. “I had nothing left anyways.”
“I remember that meeting. He announced that we weren’t allowed to be in contact with our soulmates. That having them put them at risk and put us at risk.” Your throat constricted as Tendou slid further down, settling himself between your legs.
“And that’s why you’re mine, birdie,” he teased, leaving a kitten-lick onto the swollen, sensitive nub. “Aren’t you?”
“Satori,” you hissed, swallowing a moan. “We just finished.”
“Promise me. And I’ll make you cum all-night long, dove.” He sucked on your clit, flicking it with his tongue.
“Fuck,” you moaned. “I’m yours, ‘Tori. I’m yours.”
“That’s my pretty little songbird,” Tendou purred.
“Soulmates were never in the cards. Not when your life, your soul belongs to us, dove.” He reached into his pocket, pulling out the matte black pistol. “You are mine, birdie. Don’t you remember?”
Oikawa flinched from beside you. “Oikawa. Leave. Out the window, now.” He scoffed, grabbing onto your arm. “I said leave.” You cast a warning glance to him, yanking your arm out of his grip.
“I’m not leaving you here with him.” Brown eyes surveyed Tendou warily. Tendou’s reputation preceded him. Not only as an assassin that climbed the ranks of Shiratorizawa, but as the supposed underboss to Ushijima.
“You can and you will.” You shove the leader towards the window, stepping forward in between him and Tendou. “We have a score to settle, don’t we?”
Tendou smirks. “One last final fight to the death. Fitting for us, isn’t it?”
In the background, you could hear Oikawa climbing onto the fire escape. He casts one final look to you before he disappears into the night.
“You know the rules. If you can’t finish your mission, you become mine.”
“Do you think she could do it?” Reon inquired, looking between the two leaders.
Ushijima chuckles, taking another deep pull of his cigarette. The smoke blurred their vision temporarily as the boss slowly exhaled. “I have faith that she will remember her place. Soulmates don’t matter, not here. Out of all of us, she should know that the best.” He turns in his chair, olive eyes boring into vermillion. “But you know what to do if not.”
His lip twitched. “Of course, Wakatoshi.”
You lunge at him, grabbing his wrists in an attempt to wrestle the gun out of his grip. Maroon nicked your cheek as you dodged back, ducking under his deadly swipes. He spun the handle in his palm, readjusting to use it in a stabbing motion. You kneeled his gut, elbowing the blade away. Stars filled your vision as metal crashed on top of your skull, causing you to reel back. You stumble back, barely able to shake the stars in your vision as you tackle Tendou once more. Glass shattered as you guys fell out of the window, grappling with one another. He locked your fingers in his as he wrestled you underneath him. Your eyes widened before you met concrete. A soft whimper escaped you as your skull exploded into pain, glass shards stabbing into you.
Tendou straightened, his own landing softened by yours. As he stood over you, he watched as crimson pooled around you, leaking from the jagged cuts. Glass had stabbed you through the back, slicing through your dress and digging into your hip. A shaky hand reached up, feeling the back of your skull and pulling back to reveal red-stained fingers.
“Good night, little bird.” Tendou’s expression faltered slightly before his eyes hardened. He stood over you, leaning down to press one last, sweet kiss to your forehead. “May you soar in better skies, dove.” Crimson flows steadily down your stomach, coating the black ink as it pooled down.
“Sa-Satori,” you rasped, panic filling your nerves. Causing death was one thing. Succumbing to it? That was a whole other story entirely. The sound of footsteps was the last thing you heard before you succumbed to the darkness. The drumming bass of the casino - the last sensation your body felt.
“And that’s how I met your mother.” Oikawa bounced the toddler on his knee, holding her close. His daughter cooed as fireflies danced in front of her nose. “Aren’t they pretty? These are fireflies.” He lifted a hand, letting a firefly land on it. She babbled, making grabby hands at them.
The door behind him slid open. “I’ve got the lemonade and watermelon.”
“Perfect.” He looked up, meeting your sweet gaze.
“How is she?” you asked, surveying your daughter as a firefly landed on her palm.
“Hurry!” Arms scooped you up, causing you to let out a wheeze of pain. Your body collapsed into a cloud as the support from the arms disappeared.
Beep. Beep. The lights blurred in and out as you struggled to surface from the darkness that threatened to smother you. Beep. Beep.
“Iwaizumi, help us load the cart!”
You felt your body lurch forward.
“She’s losing pressure!”
“Elevate the wound, apply pressure!”
“Don’t worry, (Name). I’ll get you to Shittykawa.”
Darkness overwhelmed you once more.
You sat in the chair beside him, looking out over the porch. No matter how many years you’ve been here, you couldn’t get over the immense heat of the states.
“We need to get out of here.”
“What?! But what about the family?”
Heavy eye-lids pried open, the loud baritone of two males arguing with one another rousing you from sleep.
“She’s my soulmate, Iwa-chan. And they think she’s dead.” Oikawa replied harshly. “They won’t stop until I’m dead too.”
Iwaizumi scoffed. “You’re just going to throw away everything we’ve built? For her?”
“Hey! That’s the love of my life,” Oikawa defended. A moment of silence between the two. “We’ll go to the States. From there, I can still help.”
“It won’t be the same and you know it.” You could almost hear Iwaizumi shaking his head. The underboss sighed. “Go. Fake your death and find your happiness, Tooru. You deserve it, after all the years we’ve spent together.”
“You’ll always be my partner, no matter what happens and where you are.”
“Love you too, Iwa-chan.”
A loud booming noise echoed above you. Both eyes flicker towards it, reminiscent of the gunshots that filled your checkered pasts. A hand settled on top of yours, squeezing. “Happy Independence Day, my love.”
“Happy Independence Day, Tooru.”
How fortunate were you to have escaped that life and earned your independence with your soulmate.
Random facts from my research:
💟 (Name), Tendou, and Ushijima utilise a mix of boxing, Muay Thai, and Dirty Boxing (Filipino Boxing or Suntukan / Panatukan (depending on the area) in their combat-style
💟 A single shot of Buffalo Trace Bourbon can cost $750
💟 The old-fashioned drink was arguably created as early as 1806, but there are several arguments about where it originally started and about what the actual recipe is. Nowadays, it is just sugar, water, Bourbon or Rye whiskey, and a few dashes of Angostura bitters
💟 Eagles mate with their talons interlocked as they free-fall in the air. Also known as “cartwheeling” or a “death spiral”. In Tendou’s and (Name)’s final battle, they were essentially in a death spiral.
💟 In the U.S., they celebrate the 4th of July as liberation from Britain and was the day that the U.S. officially adopted the Declaration of Independence
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