#seems like something my brain made up in a dream but it was real :
just remembered the walker gas station. having a bad time
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sғᴡ | ᴘʀɪᴇsᴛ!ᴢᴇᴍᴏ; ʏᴇᴀʀɴɪɴɢ; ᴄʀᴜsʜᴇs | 1.4ᴋ | ʟᴀɴɢᴜᴀɢᴇ ᴜsᴇᴅ; sᴇʀʙɪᴀɴ
𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑠𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑒 𝑜𝑢𝑡𝑟𝑢𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑜𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑛 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑢𝑝 ☾︎☆☽︎ 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑎𝑟𝑒
“If you stare any harder your eyes will pop out of your head,” Sam laughed, nudging your arm lightly as he stood beside you on the balcony overlooking the foyer, “You got it bad.”
“Not like it matters,” you scoffed, turning to lean against the bannister, arms crossed over your chest, “How many years now?”
“Too many,” rubbing his hands up and down your clothed biceps comfortingly, “You need to go on a date,” you rolled your eyes, “Come on. A nice guy like me, some food, maybe a very good night,” the waggle of his eyebrows making both of you laugh.
The smile shrinks as you shake your head, “I’m sure if I stare at him hard enough I can get some satisfaction,” turning to find the foyer empty of Bucky and their priestly visitor, “Your concern is duly noted though.”
“You’re a little weirdo, you know that?” squeezing your arms lightly.
“You’ve mentioned,” waiting until you were sure that you were alone before taking a long breath that shakes, inside and out, “Gods forgive me,” you muttered, spinning on your heels, making your way back towards the library.
With him gone, you had foolishly let yourself believe that enough research and coffee could distract you from anything. Father Helmut Zemo had always been the exception when it came to so many of your beliefs, somehow making you feel far more like the school girl you’d been when you first met him than a grown woman fighting the forces of evil, and just like every time before he had wormed his way deep inside your mind. Something you’d only realized when the clock read many hours later but you had only managed a few pages of reading yourself, not that you had taken in any information from what you had managed, apparently too busy lost in absent mined day dreams as you finished a pot of coffee that wasn’t doing much to keep you awake at this point. You had the passing thought of curling up in one of the chairs but if Sharon found you sleeping in the library again you’d be in for another week of jokes that you might as well just move your bed into the room. Normally it was an easy trip. Drop the empty pot and your mug in the kitchen, make your way upstairs for your bed time ritual, and climb into bed, not doubt to a restless sleep that was occupied by more wandering thoughts of a certain Irishman. Who was currently occupied at the kitchen table, collar traded for a plain sweater and rosary moving between an almost white-knuckled grip.
You try your best to be quiet, knowing it’s rude to interrupt his prayers but quite aware the real reason is your tongue will get twisted up and you’re not quite sure what will come out. You might’ve made it but you’re uncoordinated, a mixture of your brain’s drowsiness and the last jitters of caffeine working their way out. The toe of your boot gets caught on the hem of your pants, you manage to catch yourself with the counter. But it’s with a loud thud as both hands hit the wood and a muffled squeak fell from your throat.
“I was wondering when you’d stop and say hello,” he has that well practiced smile that only someone in his line of work can manage, battering down his own feelings so someone else’s could take precedent.
“You, um,” crossing your arms as your feet seemed to grow into the floor, “You looked busy. I didn’t mean to interrupt, just lost my balance,” biting the inside of your cheek lightly, “I’ll just go-“
“What were you and your friend talking about?” you raised your brow in faux confusion, “You were both staring, more than expected. It’s hard not to notice.”
You laugh, that kind a person gives when a person knows they’ve been caught but is too stubborn to admit it yet, “Just what’s going on?”
There’s nothing but disbelief on his face, “Has there been a new development?” as quietly as he sets the beads down they still echo in your ears.
“It’s really not important,” you say, doing your best to keep your voice even, thinking about each word carefully in hopes an errant one won’t escape.
“You are a bad liar,” it makes both of you smile, if only because right now everything feels almost normal, “We do not have secrets, volyena.”
The words almost burn, you try not to flinch but there’s no stopping the hurt that flashes across your eyes, “I thought that too,” shaking your head with a sigh, “Good night, Helmut,” hurrying out of the kitchen and continuing on the evening ritual you knew so well.
There’s was something to be said about the monotony of ritual, muscle movement took care of everything when your mind was distracted. Unfortunately, the last thing you wanted to think about was what was flitting through your mind as you went through each familiar step. The almost moment. Something no one knew, not your best friend, maybe not even Father Helmut’s Lord God. Just a few moments, in a darkened library where you promised never to lie, to never hide from one another. His lips had been so close to yours, you had been sure- It’s why you can’t, you can’t explain it but it feels like a betrayal. How can you explain that to anyone, most of the time you don’t understand it yourself. The tiredness has been shaken from you, instead you pace the room, trying to remind yourself that none of it matters. He’s not coming back, they’ll solve this case and he’ll be on the first plane back to Sokovia. Everything will go back to normal, where daydreams and memories get you through the loneliest evenings.
There’s a knock, not the light tapping of your imagination but firm, echoing in your room and leaving little doubt as to who was on the other side. You contemplated ignoring it, darkening the room and climbing into bed out of spite but no part of you could willingly do that. Only passively consider it as something he deserved while you tied your robe closed, turning the heavy door handle and pulling hard. As much as you had hoped to see him on the other side, you had never really expected to. Yet here he was, looking far more nervous than you’re sure you’ve ever felt in his presence.
“I’m not here to start a fight, I promise,” you couldn’t be angry at him even if you tried when he speaks so softly, “I just want to talk-“ you sigh, “Five minutes. It’s all I ask.”
“Of course,” stepping to the side, letting him step inside before closing the door firmly, “I’m sorry. It’s late and I’ve spent the last three days up to my elbows in ancient texts. I shouldn’t have-“
“No, I deserved it,” hands behind his back as he strolled towards the center of your room, “I had not thought about-“ he shook his head, turning to cut through you with a familiar piercing gaze that haunts more of your dreams than you care to admit, “Honestly, I have a hard time thinking about anything when you are around.”
If it weren’t for the distance, your lack of confidence, his twisted tongue, you might have thought this was another incredibly pleasant dream starring the Father himself, “You don’t have to do this.”
“Yes,” he took a sudden step forward, “Yes, I do,” seeming surer in the next few.
Your mouth opened, prepared to push him away as you had learned was best, you never get that far. The taste of the honey sweetened cherry blossom tea he’d been drinking takes over instead, shaking hands hold your cheeks in his hands as he presses forward. Harder, each second seeming to make him more and more confident. All you want is to kiss him back but every time he’s left before flashes in your mind.
“You can’t take this back,” you gasp against his lips, desperate to speak and unwilling to part, “God may forgive you but I never will.”
His breath threatens to come in pants, but he manages to calm it, “I had made up my mind, go home, pay my penance, and sometimes wonder about what could have been,” a soft kiss ghosting across your lips, “I should have kissed you when I had the chance. I never would have left.”
“Say it,” it’s barely a breath but it steals all the air from the room.
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How did you get the idea for tcor? What’s an idea you thought of for tcor but decided against it?
okay so buckle up for a long ride boys, this answer is gonna be big. hey if you ever wondered about who i am and why i am the way that i am, this is definitely the post for you. tw: domestic abuse (and all the fixin’s so if you’re easily triggered just don’t read this)
so when i got into the marvel fandom, i loved one single character, and that was loki. like i didn’t actually care about anyone else at all. i had seen marvel movies (very out of order) but i had watched the first two thor movies and i just loved loki so much because i really related to him, since i grew up with complex, for lack of better words, relationships with my parents. i was very independent as a child but still grew up extremely codependent thanks to the abuse that i was put through. anyway, i saw loki, he was hot, he was similar to me, and i attached as we all do. for probably a year i only read fanfic that was about loki, so i started developing ideas for him.
and then sometime late last year, in the height of quarantine, i saw a bucky fic that looked super intriguing and began to get into bucky fanfic! and i realized i related to bucky like... a lot. like, maybe too much. because when i graduated high school, two days later i bounced out of my hometown and moved in with a man who should be in jail for multiple reasons. my ex was emotionally manipulative, physically destructive, and sexually... well, i can’t even begin to put that in words. this person ruined me in the most particular of ways. he starved me of food, he humiliated me in public, he completely broke me of personhood. the eighteen-year-old taylor who loved fully and rejected cynicism and never judged a soul for anything died and her blood is smeared across the bathroom tiles of that california apartment. and, when you tear someone’s personhood away from them, you can make them believe anything you want. and he made me believe in an entirely different reality than the one that i was living in.
because of this other reality, my memories are completely skewed. there used to be nights that i woke and, because my room was arranged in the same way as our apartment was, i would scream and scream because i thought i was still there and i dreamed up leaving. there are times when i think that none of what is in my head happened at all, that when he tells people i abused him instead that it’s true. and sometimes i can still hear the words he would say to me so loudly in my head that i can’t separate what’s real and what’s not. because his words always had a fraction of truth to them, and that’s what makes it so hard.
anyway, i’m getting off topic. i connected with bucky because, like him, i have a brain that is basically jell-o. i live in different realities and when i wake up i don’t always know which one i’m in. and it’s all too easy to trigger me and send me back into a spiral of “maybe none of this happened. maybe i’m making this all up. maybe it’s my fault and i’m being too dramatic.” bucky (pre-tfatws) couldn’t remember everything he had done. i don’t remember everything either, and sometimes i’ll get flashes of these memories i’m uncovering and i can’t help but ask myself whether they are real or if i’m creating them as i go.
case in point, i only remember this year that my ex made me eat kid cuisine. a 400 calorie frozen meal designed for children. at times, it was the only thing he’d let me eat for a few days. and it was humiliating. but you can’t make something up like that, can? could a brain really make up a story such as that?
the cracks in our reality was derived from this dilemma that i face every single day. people seem to talk a lot about maladaptive daydreaming, especially in fandom, but they never talk about this side. they never talk about what happens to abuse victims after everything is over. how i use maladaptive daydreaming to go back and fix the cracks that are left in my memories, which further skews my version of the truth. how the truth constantly changes because every single time you remember something, your brain fills in gaps with its own information. how someone can break every single part of your reality down through torture and abuse and build you back up into a monster because you are desperate for relief. how you can’t trust you own mind, your own memories, your own hands. and how much better it feels to slip away into a newly constructed reality where someone loves you. and you aren’t damaged. and you’re good again. a place where you can be the girl whose body you left to decompose and rot in that apartment. i can’t be her again, not in this reality. but when i go back to the other reality, i can be her, and in that reality, people can love me.
rabbit and loki both embody my own trauma, but very different sides. and loki’s trauma - and it’s lack of exploration in media - has consistently bothered me because as someone who suffers extensively from similar situations to loki, watching his story be covered up, treated as a joke, never mentioned, and then having him villainized for it, it fucks with my head. because i should be villainized for the things i did to leave that apartment. maybe when my ex calls me evil, he’s right, because i escaped by fighting tooth and nail. so if loki is the villain for what he did, aren’t i?
but on the other hand, bucky has been pardoned and forgiven and is seen as a hero. bucky is a good guy. he was never really a villain in the first place, was he? because he was being controlled and he didn’t know what he was doing and he couldn’t say no. and i couldn’t say no either. so then, am i good? is this a different reality? should i be praised for how i was able to escape my captor and how i have rebuilt myself into a fucking machine who can barely feel things anymore in order to compartmentalize what happened to her so she can put one foot in front of the other? bucky doesn’t have a good memory, and i don’t either. and he has nightmares too and people love him. do i have the capacity to be loved? or should i just stay a villain - because i know some people look at me like i’m a villain for what i did to my ex.
i did escape though. i manipulated my ex into unlocking my cage and letting me out and i ran and never looked back. he chased me. he stalked me. he still, to this day, threatens my life and it feels the same way it did when he held a knife to my arm and told me that if i didn’t kill myself he would do it for me. but i’m okay and i left and i struggle between whether i am good or evil for it.
tcor i guess is my way of dealing with all these feelings that i can’t talk to people about. and so this is the inspiration. and i really probably shouldn’t have talked about all this but i guess i just want people to know that at some point it gets better, it has to get better, like i am alive and i shouldn’t be alive but i am and i’m here and i’m. i’m okay. i’m not good but i’m okay and i’m finally at a point, years later, where i’m starting to open these wounds up and heal. and tcor is a large large part of that. it’s why i take so many breaks in writing it sometimes, because it’s like picking a scab on an old, festering wound and trying to clean out the gunk. it’s therapeutic in a way. and i write it and continue to write it because i know it helps other people, who have been through similar things, just as much as it helps me.
anyway thanks for coming to my tedtalk if you read through all of this? but feel free not to read this it’s just junk and i’ve talked too much about myself. but tcor is special to me, really special, because it’s my story. both rabbit and loki are parts of me that exist together that i’m sending out into the world, unprotected, to be read and torn to shreds or to be held by gentle palms. and i’m glad that it’s received such good reception. idk i’m just rambling now haha.
tldr; don’t read tcor it’s a mess but it’s my mess and i love it very much.
thank you for 1k! join my sleepover and ask me anything!
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*looking at Saber previews again with a grim look* A fluffy Touma minific for my sanity please
This got way too long lmao. Does it even count as fluff?
Touma knew he was dreaming. He didn’t know how, but he knew he was.
He found himself in an unfamiliar house, sitting at the dining table with a cup of tea in hand. Across from him was Rintaro, reading the newspaper, his brows knitted together in concentration. Beside him, Kento was polishing his sword, and Mei was on his other side, knitting what appeared to be a scarf.
It was so startlingly domestic, it almost made Touma uneasy, had it not been for the feeling of... rightness that filled him.
“Touma? Is there something wrong?” Kento asked him, suddenly. “Your tea is going cold...”
“Oh, uh...” Touma was startled by Kento’s appearance. He looked... older. There were laugh lines around his eyes, a touch of grey at his temples. Despite this, Kento still looked as dreamy as the day he flew into the bookstore and back into his life on his magic carpet, and Touma tried to fight the blush on his cheeks.
“Ah, it’s today, isn’t it?” Rintaro put his newspaper down, and it was only then that Touma noticed the pair of glasses perched on his nose. It only made him look more distinguished, and combined with the more relaxed hairstyle he currently donned, Touma felt ridiculously attracted to him.
“...What’s today?” he asked, confused. “Why do you two look... older?”
Mei sweetly laughed beside him, and she turned to face him. Like the other two, she seemed to have aged a few years overnight, but doing so gracefully. Aside from the slightest wrinkles around her eyes, and her hair being pulled cut into a short, mature bob, she didn’t look any different from the Mei he knew, as beautiful as the day they met right out of university.
“You told us about this,” Mei said. “You think you’re dreaming, don’t you?” she asked him.
“I feel like I am,” Touma confessed. “How else could this be possible...?”
“You know how it’s like with us Riders,” Kento said, putting aside his sword. “Stranger things have happened. Or, will happen, in your case.”
“‘My case’...?” Touma questioned. “What’s going on here...?”
“I...se...?” Touma had expected a toddling dragon to come and bowl him over to the floor. He did not expect to see a towering teenager in a high school uniform to rush at him with a bunch of papers in hand.
“Tou-chan, did you look over my composition already?I have to leave in a bit, I’m going to be so late!!!”
“Tou-chan and Mama looked it over already, Ise,” Mei said, handing him a bunch of stapled papers. “We pencilled some things you need to correct but it’s all good.”
“Thanks Mama! I’m going to go now!” Ise nearly flew out of the front door with a piece of toast in his mouth, stuffing the papers haphazardly into his bag.
“T... That was...” Touma stammered, staring after the young man in shock.
“Yes, that is our son, Ise. He’s in high school now.” Rintaro said with a smile. “He’s become quite the man, hasn’t he?”
Touma swallowed. “So... is this... is this really....?” He felt tears in his eyes.
“Yes, Touma,” Kento replied, smiling at him. “Turns out, I was wrong about the doom and gloom after all.”
Touma let out a choked laugh. “I told you so,” he told off through the lump around his throat.
He reached for his eyes to wipe at his tears, only to find himself staring at the bands of silver and gold decorating them. He let out an almost hysterical giggle, knowing for sure what this was now, because he was certain his brain wasn’t mad enough to make this up.
All of a sudden, the room started to turn to white at the corners, like it was dissolving into mist. “What...?”
“Shh, don’t worry,” Mei reassured, “You’re just about to wake up. But rest assured, this is no dream, Touma.”
“We’ll see you real soon, dear,” Rintaro told him, unworried. “It’ll be sooner than you think...”
Then Touma’s vision went white, and he woke up.
Touma’s eyes snapped open and he sat straight up in bed, panting. The sun was only barely starting to rise outside, but he barely noticed it with the thoughts whirling in his head.
Why was I shown... whatever that was? He looked at his lap, where the old story book he, Kento and Luna had read when they were kids was opened to a blank page. Luna... did you show that to me...?
Kento groaned awake, having been jolted by Touma’s sudden movement. Mei and Rintaro, who were on his other side, were still fast asleep. “Touma?” he yawned sleepily. “What are you doing up so early...?”
He laughed a little. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you...”
“Stranger things have happened,” Kento shrugged, noncommittally.
Touma couldn’t help the soft smile on his lips when he heard Kento’s reply. “That they have.”
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blood lettings (pt.4)
(c!wilbur x reader)
pt. 1 pt. 2 pt. 3 AO3
warnings: manipulation, vampirism, blood, disassociation, nightmares
note: read the warnings
Mirror, why am I always looking in the mirror? And god why do I always look back?
My eyes are beaty, almost completely black. I reach up to pull at my face with numb fingers. Push back the skin like I’m looking for something. I lift my lip up revealing sharp canines, the teeth of a predator. My brain is stopped at the sight. It can’t be real? Did I die? I pull down at my eyelids, search my arms for a sign, anything to explain, and once I look back up I see it. My eyes trailing over my neck; The expanse of skin covered in bite marks. Scabs, scars, and fresh and grotesque bruises litter my skin. My neck a sign of being used and owned, I feel sick. I’m always fucking sick.
I feel hands wrap around my waist from behind. I quickly lookup in the mirror to see Wilbur. His eyes scarlet, pupils blown wide. He roughly pulls me against him.
“Mine, all mine” He stares into me through the mirror, his voice all wrong. It’s scratchy, hard to even distinguish as words.
“No, no, no” he buries his head into my neck, and it feels all too familiar.
“It’s okay, you won’t last long.” I feel his fangs press into my skin, a burning in my veins.
I wake up in a jolt, my body rushing up in the strangely comfortable bed. My hands immediately holding my neck to find it unmarred, merely two marks to stand up to the thousands I’d seen in my nightmare.
“Wilbur, wouldn’t do that” I mutter to myself, rubbing my arms in comfort. I steadied my breathing looking around the unfamiliar room. Last time I checked I was on a horse? A window casts long shadows across the room, the moon illuminating a rectangle on the floorboards. The walls are dark oak, red curtains line the massive window, vermillion carpet adorning the floor, and a mass of books loomed over me from the farthest wall, it looked to be a taken-over woodland mansion from what I could tell. I remembered going to one with Ranboo, he insisted we needed totems, but I told him no one would need to fight anymore since Dream was imprisoned. I knew I was lying then as much as I do now. Everyone knew Dream would get out, it had just been a matter of time.
I got to my feet, swinging them over the massive bed. Wandering out into the hallway, I padded down the scarlet carpet, it muffling my footsteps. I needed to find Wilbur.
“Tsk, tsk. Miss sleeping beauty is finally awake, huh?” I spun around to be met by a crude insidious mask hovering above me. The smile seemed more deep set than his last one, the white paint not covering the wood due to a lack of sanding. “You like it, sweetheart?” I recoiled at the affectionate nickname, backing away from him.
“Where’s Wilbur?” I asked, steeling myself enough to be able talk to him.
“It’s always Wilbur this Wilbur that ever since I’ve gotten out. Can’t we have some time together?”
“No, we can’t, Dream.” I push malice into my voice as he lifted his head, a motion that hinted to the fact he had rolled his eyes under the mask.
“Fine, fine, maybe later then. He’s in his room, by the way,” he pointed behind me “it’s at the end of the hall.” I nodded and began to walk away “See you later, princess.” he called and I shook away his pet names, increasing my pace to the door that would get me to Wilbur, to safety. I didn’t waste time, quickly pressing open the door with a sigh of relief as I relaxed at the familiar smell of campfires and smoke.
Wilbur was sat on the ledge of the window, it swung open slightly. He held a cigarette between his lips, his head resting against the wall. Moonlight made his hair shine, the white streak seeming to glow. Long shadows were cast across his face, emphasizing how his eye bags had gotten increasingly worse since we were at my house.
“Wilbur?” I tentatively asked, pushing the door closed behind me. He slowly opened his eyes with a lazy smile, he seemed far away,
“y/n.” he said plainly taking the cigarette out of his mouth, blowing smoke out the window. I walked over to him and the closer I got the worse he looked. His hands were trembling; His lips were chapped and dry.
“Wilbur, are you okay?” he looked away from me, averting his gaze to the trees out the window.
“No, I guess not.” he stretched up his arms, pausing to reorient himself after “Dream, said-” he stopped again, pursing his lips and lifting his shaky hand to take another drag of his cigarette.
“He said what?” I prodded him, sitting down on the other side of the window ledge.
“The blood thing, y/n.” he crinkled his nose. “it’s why I’m so-“ he gestured to his head.
“Oh,” I studied his face. He slowly blinked seeming seconds away from passing out from exhaustion. “I-” he lowly whined, throwing the cigarette out the window. Wilbur weakly got to his feet, immediately tripping over nothing. I rushed up to catch him, him collapsing into me, his face pressed into my neck.
“Please,” he whined as I pulled him up.
“Hey, you’re okay, you’re okay.” I moved him over to the bed, pressing the back of my hand against his forehead as he sat. He pulled my hand down, nuzzling into my wrist.
“y/n?” he seemed to be asking for permission, and I felt obliged to help seeing him so vulnerable. I nodded my head slowly. He roughly pulled me into his lap, me straddling his legs. Wilbur wrapped his arms around my waist, burying his face into my neck. I tilted my head to allow him better access as my nerves built up. Flashes of my dream plaguing my mind. The hundreds of bite marks bleeding me dry.
“Please don’t hurt me,” I cried. I saw him in my mind, eyes a bright red instead of the rich wine I had come accustomed to since he had returned. I felt myself digging my fingers into his hair with a shuttered breath as my heart rate quickened.
“I would never even think about it, darling.” he pulled away from me, his eyes full of affection “are you sure? I don’t want you to think I’m just using you.”
“Mhm.” I took a deep breath. Studying his worn-out face. He leaned into me, pressing a chaste kiss against my lips. He tilted my head by placing a hand on the back of my neck. Suddenly it was a stinging pain, a burn that passed through my veins just ike it had in my dream. It bloomed into a numb warmth as Wilbur continued. His mouth hot against my skin. He gasped for air, licking the part of my neck he had bitten.
“So good for me, so good.” he trailed kisses up my jaw eventually kissing me on the lips. His mouth tasting of iron, blood, and cigarette smoke. “thank you, thank you.” he breathed out, cupping my face. I ran my eyes over his features, his face was now flushed pink, his eyes dark. He smiled at me, his teeth coated in red, his fangs more prominent.
“Wilbur,” I felt the stress of the situation run back into me “we need to talk, now that you’re better.” he nodded his head absently. He seemed to deliberately be pulling in breaths of air, each one making him seem that much brighter. “Dream.”
“Dream.” he repeated, still staring at me with a hunger in his eyes “I know you don’t get it, I promise I do.” I huffed at him, knowing he was gonna dismiss Dream’s actions “but I owe him everything.”
“No, you don’t. Especially not now, aren’t you guys even? You broke him out already, Wilbur.” reasoning with him on the matter felt impossible.
“Yes, but look where we are right now. For all, we know if Dream wasn’t here I’d be in prison.”
“That’s not true, if he wasn’t fucking here we’d be at home, and we’d be with our friends Wilbur,” I said incredulous about what he had stated.
“If he wasn’t here, I’d still be dead, and they are your friends, not mine” he remarked.
“what do you mean?” I looked at him, hurt clear on his face.
“they fucking hate me, y/n.” he looked away “because of what I did, they hate me, and I’m fucking sick of walking on eggshells and apologizing.”
“Wilbur,” I cupped his cheek, rubbing my thumb under his eye. He pulled my hand down, holding it in his own.
“We should talk about this tomorrow.” my hopes of change fell “It’s late, my dear. I promise I am not trying to push this away, but I think the morning will bring better clarity to the situation. We can’t argue in this state.”
“Fine.” I looked at him in the eyes “but I need you to listen to me, at least consider what I’m saying Wilbur”
“Anything for you.”
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beautiful girl // c.d.
cedric diggory x tall fem! reader
word count: 1k
warnings: mention of nightmares and insecurity, really just fluff tho
a/n: x readers and media in general aimed at femme identifying people always glorify being short and petite, claiming it's "cute" and that that's what people like. so I wrote this from cedric's pov, a love letter from me from him to @acosmis-t , @mullthingsoverinthehotwater , and any other tall people that feel like they needed this.
her lips felt like the touch of an angel's wings as they grazed my cheek, my face going slightly rouge with bliss as I blinked my eyes open.
she was leaning over me, arms wrapped around my body from behind as we laid in my bed, sleeping in on a sunday morning.
y/n, ever the early bird, had woken me up for kisses, and I most certainly planned on delivering.
"good morning, mes étoiles," I replied, twisting my torso to meet her lips.
she caught me in a lazy, open-mouthed kiss, breathing me in like the first breath of fresh air of the day, one hand coming up to cup my face.
it simultaneously felt like eternity and like a millisecond that we laid there, kissing softly. when she finally pulled back I rested my forehead against hers, gazing lovingly into her sleep-heavy eyes.
"how'd you sleep?" I questioned softly, carding my fingers through her hair and smoothing it back out of her face.
"had a nightmare" she mumbled, not quite meeting my eyes.
"oh angel, again? what happened?"
"it was about you."
I fell silent at this, frowning. she moved to lay on top of me, her face buried in my shoulder as her legs tangled with mine. I pulled the blanket over her shoulders, feeling the chill of her bare skin against mine.
we lay silent for a moment, and it was alright because I knew that she would talk when she was ready.
"your heart's beating fast, m'love" she noted, placing a hand over my bare chest.
"I don't like the thought of you having bad dreams about me."
"it's not your fault. it's my brain."
"what's your brain doing? what's going on in that pretty head of yours?"
she buried her face further into my body at this, nosing at my collarbones, and I chuckled softly.
"I had a dream that you didn't like me....or think I was cute...because I'm too tall."
I feigned a gasp, as if surprised, though I knew that this was a common insecurity of hers, and it made her giggle.
"but I love your height! I'll have to have a stern chat with your brain and tell it that it's being utterly ridiculous."
"but it seemed so real. I could hear your voice, and there were even tears in your eyes when you told me that you just weren't attracted to tall girls."
"I know, I know. nightmares are like that sometimes," I mused, sighing deeply as I paused before speaking to be sure I had just the right words.
my beautiful girl, who was each and every star in my sky, who owned my entire heart, who felt so close that she was like an extension of my own conscience sometimes, was trembling as she spoke about her nightmare. as she spoke about me leaving her.
"listen, mes étoiles," I began,
"your height is one of my favorite things about you. I've watched you get made fun of since first year for being taller than all of the other girls and it never seemed fair to me. no one deserves that, certainly not you. it's part of who you are. I like that we're close to the same height, because it makes it easier to kiss you. I don't have to look down at you all the time. you can reach my head to play with my hair, yknow how I love when you play with my hair.
you give the best hugs. I like your arms around my middle with your head on my shoulder just as much as I like your arms around my neck and your face close to mine. I love when you wear heels, because your legs look sexy and I can tell that you feel confident in them. I love it, and there's not a part of me that minds one bit that you're taller than me when you're wearing something that makes you feel good about yourself.
being tall makes you unique, y/n. it's one of many reasons that I'm in love with you, not something that I love you in spite of."
I had tears in my eyes by the time I finished speaking, and when I looked down at you I found you to be smiling softly up at me rather than hiding bashfully against my neck.
"wow," you breathed, "you really think I'm special? and beautiful? because I'm tall?"
"of course. you know I love that about you."
silence again, but a more peaceful one. the nervous, anxious aura no longer hung in the room, instead replaced by calm and comfort. the world felt as if it had been righted once again.
"thank you, ced" you whispered, absentmindedly toying with a longer strand of my hair that had fallen into my face.
"do you want breakfast? or do you want to stay here a bit longer?"
"wanna stay here. I like being held like this."
"I like holding you like this," I replied, grinning as I buried my face in your hair. "you fit so perfectly in my arms, with your head on my shoulder. our legs get to be together, we could play footsie."
she squealed as I nudged her with my foot, laughing quietly.
"gross! I don't wanna touch your feet."
"I'm just saying we could," I insisted, nudging her foot once more. "not that we should. I couldn't play footsie while I snuggled with you if you were short."
"I guess it's nice to have the option."
"goofy girl," I laughed, squeezing her affectionately. "are you feeling better? I don't want that dream to keep bothering you. it wasn't real."
"I feel a lot better. you make me feel so loved, it's hard to believe that I got lucky enough to be able to call you mine."
"you're not as lucky as I am."
"because I get to call you mine."
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for @inspiredrawaw because their ocs live in my brain rent-free
emo deer and shy dragon boi have a heccin snuggle. thats it, thats the tweet.
Waking up was a... difficult process. Slow, sluggish and almost sticky, like being pulled out of a particularly deep quagmire. Darkness was clinging to his body and mind, keeping his eyelids stubbornly closed, a sensation of numbness and weightlessness planting the seeds of doubts. Was this real? Was he dreaming?
Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue… except he couldn’t remember falling asleep. Nor could he remember… much of anything, really.
He was stuck in this state of hazy confusion for what felt like hours, with no sensory hint as to where he was, head and ears filled with cotton, too stiff and tired to move an inch or open his eyes. He wondered, however briefly, if this was what death was. Maybe he’d fallen off the boat and drowned. Maybe a monster got him, and he just couldn’t remember it.
Mh. If that was truly the After, then it was a tad underwhelming, wasn’t it.
“...’en? Drakken? Are you with me?”
Recognition sparked in his slowly waking mind, followed by fondness. That voice. Omen’s voice. That formal inflexion, that little scratchiness Drakken had come to love. He could now feel a pressure on his upper back and shoulders, his arms, his chest… like he was being held.
Was his partner taking him through the gates themselves? In a way, the prospect was reassuring. The young dragon wouldn’t have it any other way.
But then he thought of Amber, and how devastated she’d be. Oh Gods, what had he done? Curse the Morrígan! Them, and all of this starfallen, cussing pile of moonrocks!
“Wake up you sod, you’re not dead just yet.”
That made more sense in retrospect. It took effort, but opening his eyes confirmed that he was, indeed, very much alive, and not being carried off to the After following an untimely demise. Merely laying down on his cot inside the boat, his back supported by what seemed to be his favorite deer, swaddled in a thick fleece blanket with a wool beanie on his head. And something was breathing against his neck.
He opened his mouth to speak, but his jaw felt so stiff, his tongue swollen and hard to move… “Mmm’n?”
“Shh. Don’t move yet. You fell asleep outside.”
He had? Oh, cuss. Drakken knew he didn’t do well in the cold at all, but it had been pleasantly warm today and he hadn’t expected the temperature to drop so much once night fell. He’d just been so fascinated with the blinking stars, trying to find his favorite constellations… he hadn’t realized how cold it had gotten until it was too late, it seemed.
Omen shifted, reaching for one of his frigid hands. “Can you move your fingers? Here, try to squeeze my hand.”
The dragon complied, wincing as his digits twitched and flared up with a dull, but pulsing pain. “H’rrts,” he managed to slur out, loosely grasping Omen’s warm, furry paw for a short moment before letting go. Something was changing- he actually felt the cold now, his body breaking into little shudders and spasms, his teeth starting to chatter. Wasn’t he supposed to be warming up? There was something radiating warmth against his chest… a hot water bottle?
“C-Cold,” the dragon slurred, now full-on trembling. He heard Omen hum, felt their hands rub up and down his arms through the blanket, their nose press against his jugular. “It’s alright, sunflower. Your body’s just starting to work properly again,” they assured him. “It’s a good sign.”
Was it? Drakken didn’t know, as mustering complex thoughts was a little difficult at the moment. He tried to move his arms to lay his hands on the hot bottle, but Omen quickly stopped him. “No, Drace, love- don’t, please. Your hands will just hurt more if you do that, and it’ll send cold blood right to your heart. Let them warm up on their own.”
Drakken let out a quiet croak of complaint, but quickly gave up, too drained to fight it. Mrf.
Well, at least his chest and back felt warmer. Even Omen’s nose felt warm, and that was weird, because Omen’s nose always felt cool to him, and he knew this because the deer loved to sneakily press it in the crook of his neck to make him squeal and squirm, and he’d flush and mumble complains while the deer smirked at him, because they both knew he didn’t actually want them to stop.
Mmh. Omen was so mischievous. And their coat was always so soft, and warm like a baby chick, chick-chickadee. Drakken liked to press his nose to theirs, and laugh when they took an offended expression whenever he went in for a playful boop. They were so proud all the time. I come from a prestigious family of death omens! they’d say. Regal. So pretty.
Ah, he’d lost his train of thought. And Omen was looking at him weird. “You need to warm up more,” they said, gently maneuvering him to lay him down on his cot, adjusting the blanket and water bottle. Drakken complained with a quiet whine, which the deer stifled with a little hush. They’d make him tea, they said. They’d be back real soon, they promised.
Drakken watched his partner smile fondly at him, then walk out of the room, their hooves clicking on the wooden floor. Drakken sniffled, shivering in his blanket, numb tail twitching as it slowly wrapped itself around his waist in an attempt at self-soothing. Please don’t be long...
The fallow deer placed their hands against the table, taking a few deep breaths to calm down as the sound of boiling water filled the tiny kitchen.
They’d tried so hard to keep themselves from visibly panicking, when all they wanted to do was to scream and cry in the crook of his boyfriend’s scaly neck, and tell him how scared they’d been, how their blood had run cold when they’d found him, silent and still on the cold wood of the deck, his chest barely moving and lips so blue and no no nonono can’t lose him not him not him-
Their spiraling thoughts were drowned out by the distinct sound of the kettle whistling, snapping them out of it. They swore bitterly, rubbing their head and taking the kettle out of the fire- they couldn’t fall apart like this. They had to take care of Drakken first and foremost, make him feel safe. They weren’t the one being hurt here. Being outwardly worried would only make it worse.
They focused on stuffing Drakken’s preferred blend -black tea, ginger, clove, cinnamon- in a tea ball, pouring the hot water in a mug and leaving room for cold water. Infuse, get the honey, cool it down, too hot will hurt him, where’s the spoon, have to hurry...
“Here, I’m going to help you sit up, hang on. Up we go, c’mon… There, you’re doing great, good job love. Let me- no no, Drakken, keep your hands inside the blanket, alright? Let me give it to you. Your hands will hurt again if you try to hold it.”
Drakken gave Omen an affronted look -which made them smile a little bit- but complied. Now that the dragon was upright, Omen proceeded to hold his head up, gently pushing the mug to his lips and tilting it, letting him take a few tiny, cautious gulps.
He looked better- the frost had completely left his scales, and even though he was shivering still, he no longer seemed incoherent. He choked a little on the last gulp, and Omen gently rubbed his back until his coughing fit had subsided and he laid bonelessly against their side, but his breathing was steady, and so was his heart… “Feeling better?” they asked quietly, hand gliding up and down their boyfriend’s back. Drakken hummed tiredly, his cheek slightly smushed against Omen’s shoulder. “Y-Yeah… thank you…”
Silence reigned for a few minutes, punctuated by each other’s breathing and the occasional shaky whimper from the cold-blooded dragon. Before he spoke again. “ ‘m sorry…”
Omen tilted their head, antlers bumping against the wall. “What for?”
“Should’ve paid attention… been more careful. Made you worry.”
The child of Death frowned at that. “Do not concern yourself with that. It is fine. I’m just glad you’re okay.”
The deer blinked when a cool hand grasped theirs- Drakken was shifting against them to look into their eyes, squeezing their fingers in a firmer grip than before. “You’re always- so careful, always thinking about protecting us. You always r-remind me to be careful when it’s cold, and I wasn’t careful enough, and I’m-made you worry and I’m sorry…”
Omen was stunned- Drakken had just experienced dangerous levels of hypothermia, yet he was concerned about how they felt?
Had they failed to conceal their fear so badly that even Drakken, out of it as he was, had been able to pick up on it?
They let out a shuddering breath, letting their head rest against the other’s, eyes clenched shut. Drakken knew them way too well. Their emotions, now bursting through the damn, making them feel like the lost, scared little kid they had been once. They said nothing, letting their boyfriend cup their face and brush over their fur knowingly. In this moment… there was no need for words.
His claws were sharp- dangerous. Yet he always touched them so gently, so carefully. Even now as his arms left his cocoon of blankets to wrap around Omen, pulling them down into a comforting hug.
“ ‘luv you, treasure.”
The deer felt a surge of affection swelling in their chest. “I love you too, sunflower,” they breathed out, voice a little bit shaky as they returned the dragon’s embrace.
And when Drakken squeaked when they pressed their nose in his neck, Omen knew he was going to be okay.
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Request: Vincent The Road Within prompt 16 words “you have to be quiet if you want to cum” -Vincent wakes reader
(Vincent Rhodes x Fem!Reader)
Word Count: 1100
Warnings: language and oral (m!receiving)
A/N: After being separated by the pandemic at the beginning of your relationship, you never thought a night with Vincent was possible. Now you were waking up beside him. Follow-up to "I Think We're Alone Now"
Vincent stretched before opening his eyes and immediately ticced. His hands clenched in fists pounded his chest as he whistled. A nice, loud wolf whistle. His guard was down after the night before where everything came to a halt long enough to make someone else shout obscenities for once.
“Fucking clown,” he mumbled to himself.
The body beside Vincent stirred. “It's too early to be harassed by construction workers!” she exclaimed from under the blankets with a whine.
“What?” he snorted. He couldn't tell if she was just that ready with comebacks to his Tourette's or in a half-asleep haze that put her on a street somewhere in the city. The steady breathing he got in return was the only response.
Vincent stared at the ceiling. He exhaled and tried to ignore the inevitable inconvenient bulge from beneath the sheets. Normally he would just take care of it. He hated to be “that guy,” but having sex with himself (like with someone else) was just as relaxing and gave him a focal point outside of trying to conform. Although until last night, it was usually out of boredom.
Now he debated on how to handle his situation. Did he climb out of bed and take care of himself in shower? Did he just let it go away on its own? Reason stated that was his best bet.
The woman beside him stirred. His girlfriend? Vincent was confident that's what she was. They did declare their love (which sent him into a fit. Literally). Still seeing her stir gave him an idea. Maybe she would be willing to help.
The wolf whistle invaded your pleasant dreams. It put you right back in any city where men thought yelling and telling a woman to smile made her feel special. Your brain switched back over to Vincent. Who also yelled obscenities and whistled, but he was wired that way. His Tourette's you could roll with. Last night quite literally.
You drifted in that twilight area. Not quite awake, but not really asleep. Flashes of that mouth on your breasts and thighs and between. The way he used some of his more physical tics to his advantage until you came harder and longer than you ever had with something non-battery operated.
During the actual sex Vincent seemed out of his body. Separated from his neurodivergence. He was calm, centered. He said he loved you almost out of nowhere even though you had confessed the same thing earlier.
“I love Arthur too,” you joked.
“That wasn't a tic,” Vincent looked down at you. His body slowed before it twisted and jerked and his tongue involuntarily clicked. His cheeks reddened.
You grinned just a bit, “I love you both. I always wanted to give being in a throuple a try.”
“Come on!” Vincent laughed. You laughed together, and then came together.
Your memories of previous activities caused a rush throughout your body. Your heart began to pound and that flush came to your cheeks. God he was sexy. And funny. And..
Was it real or a fantasy when an arm snaked around your body? A hand, his hand started to gently cup and massage one of your breasts. His lips left soft kisses along your shoulder and neck. A bulge pressed into your backside.
“Well good morning, Mr. Rhodes.” You reached around and took his erection in your hand. “And you too,” you mused. You twisted your face to meet his mouth for a kiss.
Vincent spasmed and squeezed your breast tight. A handful of nipple along with it as he yelled, “SUCK MY COCK!”
“Good morning to you too, Arthur.”
In an instant, with Vincent caught off guard, you whirled around in his arms. You pinned him down and sat up, straddling him in the process. You situated your entrance just along his cock.
Vincent was dumbfounded. Pleasantly so as he held onto the thick of your hips. You placed your hands on his chest where his heart rate seemed to be out of control.
You made him giddy. That fun kind of nervousness while a whistle echoed off the bedroom walls. “FUCK ME CUNT!” Vincent averted his eyes.
“Touchy! I was going to. Won’t you wake up Alex?” you asked.
You bent forward and let your mouth travel along Vincent’s collarbone. It stopped to flick his own nipple with your tongue. Your venture south continued over his stomach and further still. His breath hitched. He couldn't answer.
Your body back under the covers, you took his cock in your hand. You let your tongue trail as slow as possible the length of his shaft to the end. It made the same measured movement around the tip.
You took Vincent in and sucked softly before bobbing your head down towards his body. His length is completely inside of your mouth. His hips bucked, but you ignored them. Pulling back with a pop so your tongue could attack the shaft again.
Now you licked quicker. Your hand started to knead him as you consumed more and more of the erection. You tongue swirled as your neck bobbed back and forth down the shaft. Every inch of Vincent further in and out until he hit the back of your throat.
You relished the way he squirmed under you. It wasn't tics, it was him. But you banished the thought. He had tics. He had pleasure. They just worked side by side.
Like now as he thrust forward so that his cock hit your uvula. You felt yourself gag on it as Vincent twitches uncontrollably. He cried out in a loud yell and whistled yet again.
“CUNT! CHOKE ON MY DICK!” Vincent screamed louder than either of you expected.
You let him go and stared up at him through your bangs, “Look. That's totally not your Tourette's. That's just dirty talk. You know, if you want to cum you’re gonna have to be quiet.” You arched your eyebrow in a challenge.
Then you smiled at Vincent and kept going. Letting him hit the back of your throat as you sucked as hard as you could manage. You released him to lap at the shaft and just kept repeating the process. Your speed grows each time.
“PUSSY LICKER!” Vincent covered his face.
You sat up now and straddled him. Pulling his hands away so that your eyes met, you held Vincent's gaze. His body relaxed as you took him in your hand to guide him inside of your sex. You were slick and ready for him.
“Just look at me, ok? Take a breath and don't break contact,” you instructed with tenderness as you began to ride him.
Tag: @neuroticpuppy @magic-multicolored-miracle @elliethesuperfruitlover @nightmonsters @super-unpredictable98 @forenschik @ghouls-buddy @a-ghoulish-tale @firstpersonnarrator @rob-private @icecoffeegirl @the-freckled-luba @bisexualnathanyoung @violetrainbow412-blog @maerenee930 @messengeronthemoon @070188 @babyspiders @sapphogrrrl @inspiremeandsetmefree @duck-noises @iamsexytrash @sab-falco
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you are my sunshine (rewrite)
pairing: wanda maximoff x reader
warnings: angst, mentions of injuries, character death
a/n: i just realised i hadn't posted since my birthday! I figured i should get something out to you guys before the month ends so here's a rewrite from my old account bc uni is currently turning my brain into mush. happy reading!! ♡
The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
It was obvious to everyone around you that you were more of a lover than a fighter.
It was easy – a little too easy sometimes – for you to get lost in your Imagination, dreaming away to your hearts content if nothing in the real world could hold your attention for more than a few minutes.
The fact that you were the type of person who would do anything for anyone when they asked, or just simply because you could didn’t help your case at all.
For the most part you did it to be nice and helpful to the team, but you’d be lying to yourself if you didn’t say that it was also so a certain witch who held your heart would come up to you whenever she needed help with something.
But you weren’t going to admit that just yet.
They always wondered how you did it.
You know that they would never ask it to your face, but you could see how they questioned how easily you could get side-tracked by your imagination, or how you could stay so optimistic and be dreaming of better days when it seemed like the whole world was against you.
After going through so much hurt and suffering, they would’ve thought that you’d turn hard and emotionless, giving up on the world that had given you every reason to stop believing in those who lived in it.
But against all odds, you kept the childlike joy and passion they were sure you would’ve lost years ago. They knew they had.
You were the one Peter would go to when he needed cheering up because he was told that he wasn’t allowed on a mission with the team (not just yet, Tony would kill you if gave the kid false hope, but you always told him that the time will come).
You were the one Bucky would seek out whenever life became a little too much to handle, because you knew just what to say without him having to say a word. “You are more than the sum of your mistakes, Buck.”
You were the one Natasha went to when she wanted someone to talk to just because she knew that she could tell you anything and you would listen, no questions asked.
You were the one they went to simply because they wanted to witness life through your eyes and see that there was still hope and goodness left in this world.
I dreamed I held you in my arms
You pined after her.
Oh boy, did you pine for her.
You dreamed of worlds where she was yours and the both of you were happy; worlds where no one thought of her as a monster, where everyone she’s ever loved was safe; where you could show her just how ethereal and radiant, she was in your eyes.
You dreamed of a world where you made Wanda feel so happy and loved, that she forgets about all the hurt and pain this earth had put her through.
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
As all dreams do, they end, and unfortunately for you, as much as you loved to dream, nothing every came of them.
Those dreams would never become reality. And maybe it was because you were scared of being rejected, of being ridiculed- whatever the reason was that you gave to convince yourself that she could never know.
You don’t know.
You would always be just a friend to her.
So, of course, when you had finally worked up enough courage to do something about your feelings for Wanda after the whole mess that was Ultron, Vision had beaten you to it.
And now it was too late.
Because he was the one who could be there for her in the ways you wanted to. The one who could hold her and kiss her and treat her like you wanted to. The one she would come home to at the end of the day.
But luckily for you (was it luck or was it just a cruel twist of fate?) there was no one else but you that could calm her down.
Whenever the world got a little too loud, you would let her into your mind, conjuring up the few peaceful moments from your life that you held close to you, just for her to see, letting her ground herself back to reality while you sang to her softly.
It was in those moments that you knew, that yes, she had him, you were an irreplaceable part of her life too.
So, I bowed my head and I cried.
Even though everyone had dubbed you as the happy-go-lucky Avenger, you still had those moments where you broke down in the solitude of your room.
You tried hard to convince yourself that you would be fine seeing her with him, but deep down you knew that it broke you down little by little each time you saw Wanda being happy with someone that wasn’t you.
It was a selfish thought to have, and you knew it, so you tried to keep it locked away in the back of your mind.
Without realizing, you had built walls around your mind whenever she was around, letting her in just enough to calm her down but never enough to let her know what you were truly feeling.
You are my sunshine
You found it funny when you found out that people thought of you as the personal sunshine of the Avengers.
If only they knew about your own personal sunshine.
Wanda helped shape you into the person you were, acting as your own personal ray of sunshine that kept you going, shining just as bright as her to keep her happy and shining.
And if she shone a little brighter whenever you would call her your sunshine, then you would continue to call her that for as long as you could.
My only sunshine
“(Y/N), I didn’t know that you could play the piano.” She said with surprise.
The two of you were hanging out in your room when she noticed the piano tucked away in the corner of the room.
You hadn’t mentioned it to anyone before, Tony got it for you when you had mentioned to him that you missed playing when you first joined the team, and if you were being honest, you hadn’t touched it since then.
“That’s because I don’t play it much anymore.” You shrugged as you looked over at the instrument, getting off of your bed and crossing the room to sit on the worn-out seat.
“Can you play for me?”
“Anything for you, sunshine.”
Play the opening chords to your favorite lullaby, you looked at her with such longing and want before forcing your gaze away so she couldn’t see your eyes as you started to sing.
You make me happy, when skies are grey
You look up at her from you place on her lap, where your head is resting against her legs as she ran her fingers through your hair, offering you the best smile she could muster.
You couldn’t tell if it was real or not.
She looks so beautiful, and she doesn’t even know it.
With the sun shining high and bright behind her, chestnut locks framing her face, you wouldn’t be surprised if someone told you that you were looking right at an angel.
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Maybe it was because you had fully convinced yourself that she would never feel the same way for you that you had missed on the forlorn gazes she sent your way.
Wanda couldn’t help but feel like she was missing something. Especially when she realized that you had started to block her from going further into your head whenever you let her in your mind as easily as she could before Vision and her had announced that they were together.
She couldn’t help but think back to all the times you would retreat back into your room after she walks into the room with the android; how your light would start to dull when she would bring him up in your conversations; how you seemed to smile less whenever he was around.
She didn’t know what was worse, to lose him or to lose you.
She wouldn’t be able to have a choice in the matter anyway.
You’d never tell her how you felt about her - you hated the feeling of separating people. Simply put, you just didn’t have the heart to say something and ruin the friendship between you and Wanda, or the relationship she had with Vision.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.
“I’m sorry I won’t be there to calm you down, sunshine.” You murmur softly, (e/c) meeting shining emerald ones.
“Don’t say that (Y/N/N). It’s okay,” She says, shaking her head. “Everything’s going to be okay. You’re going to be fine.”
You ignore her words for the first time as your breath hitches in your throat, wincing as she presses her hand harder against the wound on your stomach.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way. Just a simple recon mission to go into an abandoned Hydra base and gather intel that turned out to be a trap to lure your team in.
You were blindsided. All of you were.
“I’m sorry I can’t make this better. I’m sorry that I won’t be there to cheer you and the rest of the team up when you get back home. Tell them I’m sorry that I couldn’t say goodbye.” You manage to get out between breaths.
You had to get your apologies out now before it was too late.
Before there was no breath left in you to apologize to the one woman you swore to yourself you would never hurt.
The one woman you would love no matter what.
“We’re going to get you out of here, (Y/N). Just hold on for me.” She begs desperately, tears starting to stream down her cheeks as she lifted her head to shout for help.
You reach your hand up to cup her cheek, pulling her back down to look at you before you start humming the familiar tune you would sing to her after a rough night of nightmares.
Placing her hand over yours, she leaned into your touch, refusing to accept the fact that you were slipping away right in front of her eyes.
An anguished sob left her mouth while her tears fell harder as she watched you close your eyes for the last time, gasping for air as she manages to choke out the last line.
“Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
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My brain can be a real tease sometimes.
I had a dream I was talking to someone who was in my dreamworld dnd group. They were telling me that when our current characters finished their storyline and leveled to max (which was not far off, like 2 or 3 sessions), they were going to quit playing. Their internet was crappy so they were having a lot of problems with talking to the group and keeping up with the digital maps and stuff. Though, for some reason, I knew we met in person to play as well as did things online. So I got to see them in person for our games too.
I was sad about that and talked for a bit to see if maybe I could persuade them to keep trying. I liked them a lot and really enjoyed having them in the game. But they were gently adamant about not changing their mind. They even seemed a little sad about it.
I said that I was going to miss them, wanting to say something but not wanting to say too much in line with the fact that I liked them. We talked for a bit more and I had a kind of, like, dream montage of the conversation. There was flirting, and I tried a very little subtle flirting to see if they would respond or if I was reading too much into it.
The last bit of flirting was a little odd but made perfect sense to my dream self. I was reaching for something, my back to them and standing at, like, a three-quarter turn away from them. As I pulled my arm back, they asked me to do it again. I asked what and they said they wanted to see me stretch out my arm like I was reaching again. I did and asked why but they didn't answer. I held the pose for a few seconds, and it very much felt like I was posing, as if for a painting or a picture or something.
Then I turned my head to look at them and their eyes were fixed on me. I dropped my arm and walked in front of them. It felt very much like flirting and I decided to take a chance that my attraction wasn't one-sided.
Standing in front of them, I said "I really really really hope I'm not reading too much into this but can I kiss you?" There was a heartbeat of silence as they looked at me. Then I woke up before they could answer.
It was a really good dream but I wish I hadn't woken up when I did. I've been replaying it in my head since I woke up
what are all your thoughts about the scorch trials book?
Welp. I finally finished reading Scorch. so Nonny. it’s your time.
I’m going to try to keep my thoughts to follow the story itself.
Flying off the ending of Maze, and heading into the Scorch, I was really prepared for something stupid--and by that I mean: Bad writing, bad plot devices, bad explanations, bad characterization, and overall just things that really could have been cut. I’m going to be speaking in Parts to hopefully help my brain get through this. Also under a read more bc. I wrote a lot.
Part 1: Safety in Numbers, but the Numbers Grow Smaller
The book starts off with this really cool murder mystery concept. I highlighted the first line because it actually gave me chills. She spoke to him before the world fell apart.
The novel brings us up to speed with everything that has happened, the Whole Maze Thing, The Telepathy thing, ya know! D*shner nonsense! Once all this is explained we then get a dream sequence, something that pops up a lot through the book yet I feel like this is the only one that is actually real. More on that later.
The real murder mystery starts after WCKD locks these kids in and doesn’t give them food for three days. Why starve them? *shrug* The gang sees Cranks for the first time, and that’s that on that. When the door does open, and the gang entered m*rder central--It’s chilling. We jump into this scary scene and realize Oh Hey Teresa is gone. Like. that’s really cool.
And we meet Aris.
And then we get the tattoos.
The Tattoos were a cool concept, meant to explain what the Gladers roles would be in the Scorch. Rad. So then why does it then create such bad leadership with Minho? Why is Minho, for the majority of this book really poorly written? *shrugs*
We meet Janson Ratman. He explains the Scorch, lies about the flare infection and then sets the kids off on their next trial. It isn’t until page 71 that they make their way through the Flat Trans and thus start their journey proper.
The next few chapters are just killing off characters, one by one, to leave the true Main Characters standing at the top. It’s gruesome what these kids experience, I hate that when the metal balls of death come and the lightning storm, Thomas really can only just numb out to it all. It’s a humanistic response, but Thomas has always seemed like the emotional one. It was when I was reading this part of the novel that I realized that, WCKD will do anything it takes to kill Thomas. They want him dead. And it’s through the metal ball and the burning of Winston that really got me thinking this. Because at the last second, someone will always protect Thomas. Chuck taking the knife, Winston getting burned, jack getting electrocuted.
Maze series really just like to show trauma by pushing it all on Thomas. And, I know that the people you meet in life shape you. Yet there’s just something soul crushing about Thomas being so ready to off himself in Maze, only to continually get saved and then having to watch his friends die brutally.
Part 2: Brenda? Is that you? IS THIS WHERE YOUVE BEEN THE ENTIRE TIME?/ ‘You’re Dream stinks. I was talking to her.’
I was excited to meet Brenda after I finished FC. FC surprised me so much and made me cry with how Thomas was written. I could not wait to have more Bren and Thomas interactions if that meant they were going to have the same weight of the conversation in FC where Thomas cries because he cares so much about the people he loves.
Instead, we get Brenda. who is described as beautiful even though she’s been living in a waste. her whole life. And she’s very clingy toward Thomas, and this is never explained further outside of Bren saying: Sorry where I’m from we’re all very affectionate people.
And during all these affectionate/forced Thomda(?) moments, Thomas is just thinking about how he doesn’t like this kind of affection.
It’s also during this arc that we get to meet Teresa again. and, she confuses Thomas even more, isolates him and then forcibly kisses him before disappearing again.
The gang gets separated. It’s gonna be like this for a while. Thomas and Bren explore the sewers, find some cranks who apparently have the power to break Thomas’s nose by just yanking him a bit. This happens multiple times when Bren just throws cans at them.
We learn a bit about Brendas family, but not much. Jorge is more of a dad to her. And that’s really all we get on Bren backstory.
The Crank house/party scene made me nauseous. The book up to this point was very detailed with its blood and gore, but making a r*pe threat made me so mad I wanted to meet this author in the back of a dennys parking lot at 3am. This was the first part of the book to get through, because it didn’t make sense for why Brenda would go through getting drunk if she wasn’t already getting signs of the Flare. which, Imma be real with you. I think she’s immune.
and like a weird blanket the Crank house arc ends with a conversation that can only be described as hilariously stupid. “I was a lawyer once... I know when someone is lying. and this kid, aint lying.”
Thomas then regroups with his Gladers and then gets shot by Mr. Lawyer pants.
Part 3: mmm watcha say
This is where I feel the story gets confusing. Thomas spends a large chunk of it passing out and getting led paces that seem to just waste time in the most traumatic ways possible. WCKD at this point, as dumb as they are, created the Scorch--put all these cranks there--and didn’t think that Oh. yeah there will be illegal trading. Oh fuck, Thomas got shot.
And WCKD then decides. Shit we can’t have Thomas dying this way. he has to die by the way we wrote it!! He has to die via Group B!
So, Thomas gets kidnapped, twice. and no one in the Glade really. does anything to stop it? Or, hell, go against the threats and save him? Newt? Minho? nope.
Group B nabs Thomas under the orders of ‘supposed’ memory wiped Teresa.Spoiler alert: Thomas uses his growing found hatred of Teresa as a way to get on Group B’s good side. It works because Harriet and Sonya are the only female characters that are actually well developed.
Group B and Thomas start to plot against Teresa bc honestly. Fuck her. It works and they just travel to the safe haven without Teresa.
and then Teresa, who at this point has ghosted Thomas. isolated him. forced herself on him. and nearly killed him, numerous times. goes: Hey Thomas follow me into the woods, I’m not gonna hurt you.’
AND HE LISTENS??????
Part 4: Pre-chapter 50/Aris. meet me in the back of a dennys. I just wanna talk.
Remember Aris? yeah, he freaking sucks. At no point has he spoken to Group B, at no point has he spent much time learning about and helping the Gladers, at no point has he even given Thomas the chance to ask about Rachel. Instead, we get Aris giving us a small crumb of hope that he’s good now after seeing Rachel die. and are immediately slapped in the face with what I can only describe as Sir. get better taste in women.
Part 5: Hollowed apologies/Thomas felt like a flower wilting from lack of sun
There is only so much a character, and a person, can handle before full on breakdowns caused by abusers. And Thomas’s abuse from Teresa really came to the forefront of this arc--By taking Thomas away from the people he cares about, isolating him even more, betraying him even more, and then saying it was all an act. And thus okay.
Which. It’s not.
and Thomas has reached his breaking point. And he’s so valid, it makes me cry when I picture this scene. Just Thomas sobbing as the world he thought he knew comes crashing down on him. Because he’s been pushed this entire time to be killed. He’s done, fully. He starts getting SI. And it just escalates even more as Teresa still tries to get him to understand her mindset.
which, doesn’t make sense.
No one should be abused, just as a form of ‘protection’.
Teresa emits personality traits I associate with pathological liars, and people that have made me get to this same breaking point as Thomas. I’ve never liked Teresa in the books, I know others find her interesting and a cool character to analyze because of her actions, but. I don’t think I’ll ever have the spoons to even believe that she can be redeemed.
Thomas for these next few chapters, spends them getting his heart stepped on, and having no way of escape. and it’s just constantly being hammered in that Teresa is right, and Teresa knows more then him, and Teresa is doing what’s good for the greater picture.
No one, save for a few people will know this reference but Teresa basically has the mindset of a villain from Featherbent, of which she only has one line and it slams in how vile a person can be.
“To protect you. for your own good.”
Breaking Thomas repeatedly, physically, mentally, and emotionally. All for his own good. isn’t good.
Part 6: What?
The last hurtle of the book doesn’t make any sense in the slightest. At all, every trial put infront of the gang is built up to be Big and Crazy, and yet so out of place in the story it is impossible to get a grasp of what’s happening. The creatures that WCKD sends that seem to just be giant humanistic lightbulbs, doesn’t really do much in the overall story.
also I know that Teresa is on thin ice but after Chapter 50 onward i really hoped that Thomas would truly just drop her. i hate the quote “I can’t forgive her. But we’re kind of in the same boat.”
I don’t care that for this moment they have to bury the hatchet. It doesn’t make sense to work with her, when all she’s done is lie and hurt people.
Part 7: Thomas needs therapy and a hug.
the book ends on his odd cliffhanger, that confuses me a lot. It’s confusing because it’s Teresa talking, so we can’t trust her words in the slightest. It’s confusing because Thomas is once again in a vacant room. It’s confusing because at no point previous has anything happened to give these characters a sense of peace.
and then it ends. With the one thing Thomas could have done from the beginning. Cutting ties with Teresa.
Part 8: the left overs
The Flare in the novels kind of comes off as a kind of psychosis disease, where you can basically say whatever and call it an effect of the flare. I like how Bren has a sense of humor for it and will be like. Hello, I’m crazy. and crave the souls of the innocent. and a bagel.
I wish we got to see more of the Gladers adventures, or at least hear about them, after Thomas and Bren get separated from them.
I miss Winston.
I did not enjoy this read. There were little bits of light here and there, but when it came down to it almost every chapter was ended with me saying: Wow, I’m so happy the film fixes this.
I’m happy that I have the film cover for this book.
i feel like all I want out of this series is Thomas to just have a good cry, and realize what he went through was traumatic, but knowing this writer I am sure it will never happen.
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3, 7 and 17 for the asks game please!!
aw thanks bex for the ask!
3. What is that one scene that you’ve always wanted to write but can’t be arsed to write all of the set-up and context it would need? (consider this permission to write it and/or share it anyway)
oh gosh what DOESN’T this apply to, wow this question is hard. you would pick this one. dick. um, i want to write a stucky fic where maybe soulmates share each other’s dreams and he dreams all the things the winter soldier did and when he comes out of the ice he’s all “where is he? where’s the soldier?” and nat is all “that is a ghost story, you’ll only break your own heart going down that road” but he doesn’t listen and he meets sam and sams all “let’s go find him” because those two have like one whole brain cell between them... and idk what happens next
7. What do you think are the characteristics of your personal writing style? Would others agree?
i think the characteristic that really defines me is: spare. i may not be able to put a bunch of words on the page but the ones i get there certainly seem to do enough.
17. Do you think readers perceive your work - or you - differently to you? What do you think would surprise your readers about your writing or your motivations?
i think both my work and me are perceived differently to be honest! and that’s totally fine, half the time i don’t even know who i am so how could anybody else?
well, i think maybe they’d be surprised to know that any fic (okay, more like ficlet, let’s be real) not for a prompt usually starts out as a line or two that has to get out of my brain before it either dies or kills me. and that i really hope those words made an impact. it feels pompous to say but i want my words to help someone else feel better at least for a moment. whether they needed to be distracted from something or what have you, it makes me happy to think i’ve improved someone’s day.
send me writer meta asks!
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I don’t want to forget I don’t want to forget I don’t want to have to hold back I don’t want to stop knowing all the people I’ve ever touched I don’t want to stop remembering your touch but I am already forgetting already forgetting how it felt to hold you and feel your fingertips on my chest I am losing the ability to retain what happened to me that made me this way why did I stop remembering the past is that healing or just moving on or something I cannot hold for too long? I don’t know anymore and I don’t think I know things the way I used to I can’t find my way back I think I’m getting lost I can’t remember what you smell like or the shoes you wore no I can remember those but I can’t see the words you wrote for me on your wall and your laugh doesn’t echo in my head but it hurts that I no longer know you and what were you like before I tainted you and how I was before I left you before I met you before I cried to you in a hotel room in the dark when I wiped your tears I think I’m going to forget that too but oh god I don’t want to I don’t want to forget you I want to love you I don’t want you to leave you’re already leaving I think you left my memories but how do I convince myself you won’t leave again I don’t want to make new memories if I keep forgetting them if I can’t seem to pull up the old ones from where they’re buried or maybe they evaporated permanently and they’re crystalline and I can’t hold them anymore in my brain like a treasury of cold lukewarm burning hot moments where you and I were together I can’t remember your laugh just the way it made me feel I’m so sad I’m so overwhelmed by this feeling I don’t want to let go I can’t let go it’s all I have but now it’s not real why did you tell me that now I don’t feel real anymore was I just a stranger did we even meet or did I make you up in my head did we ever interact or was that just in my dreams I’m so sorry I can’t remember the feel of your hands on my lips or my hips but I know the way my heart dipped listening to your voice and how it made me feel safe but I can’t remember what you look like or if you even wore glasses it’s messing with my head I’m so sad about it I’m so sad about it I feel like it’s all lost I lost everyone in my head in my safest most dangerous place now what should I do but cry and try to grasp the straws and clutch the air where you once stood if that was even where you used to stand I no longer know the past I don’t know if it’s a bad thing but I know it aches I don’t know anyone anymore and it’s making me break
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
My fifth grade teacher used to say that a lot and for some reason, it is one of those “teacher things” that has stuck with me. At Amazon, we constantly hear about how “its still day one” and while I’ve resented many of the corporate mantras that have been tattooed on my brain the past three years, this theme of early days, a clean slate each morning, the mentality of always inventing and experimenting, and the unbridled potential of the future has really permeated my thinking lately. That, and a line from Harry Potter, as cheesy as it is... I’ll paraphrase, but Harry is essentially saying “Every great wizard was once a student - if they can do it, why not us.” Musicians have a habit of putting those we seek to emulate up on a pedestal. At times, these figures seem larger than life, but the older I get, the more I realize the truth: they simply put in the time and the work. Practicing an instrument is an investment in the future.
I was chatting with my dad a few weeks ago about retirement. He is turning 60 next year and is retiring this December after working for the same company for 32 years. He’s proud to be retiring before he turns 60 and three years before my grandfather, who retired when he turned 62. My time at Amazon has likely prolonged my dad’s lifespan by at least a couple years and certainly has prolonged his hairline. I know he’s sleeping easier knowing that i’ve established a solid financial foundation for my own retirement. However, hearing him talking about how excited he is to retire, to stop doing this thing he’s done for the past 32 years made me wonder... “yeah, but wouldn’t it be great if you could just do something where you weren’t counting the years to retirement?”
I have a lot more privilege than my dad, or my grandfather. My grandfather dropped out of school to start working after 8th grade, my father graduated high school at 17 and then immediately entered the Navy. I turned down a full ride scholarship at a school that would have kept me close to my family for my bachelors to study at my “dream school” several hours away, and without a free ride. It was a decision that i know was very painful for my dad. When I turned down the opportunity to go to school for free, I was standing on his and my grandfather’s shoulders - the first in my family to have the freedom and financial safety net to study whatever and wherever I wanted to study.
I remember hearing about “burnout” - folks who studied so ferociously in college that when it came time to do the thing in the real world, they were so burnout and no longer had the desire. I don’t know if “burnout” is what happened to me, but after college, I didn’t really want to play anymore. I can’t remember why at this point, but i sold both of my horns pretty much as soon as I was able to.
I think about my time in college quite a lot still. How many hours I wasted, how much money I wasted. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, it wasn’t a waste - all those experiences led to the career that I’ve had. I have a very good job, a nice place to live, and i’m saving for the future. I’m doing everything I’ve been told to do. And yet I can’t help but dread the thought of doing this for another 30 years.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Get practicing.
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And Simon falls into a deep sleep. He can dream, but he can't wake up. He is left that way for days.... which, dreaming in this comatose state, feels like months.
Then he wakes.
"Explorer SMN-22, can you hear me?"
Simon's eyes blink open, and he yawns. "Mmnh. Yeah. What were you doing for so long?" He starts stretching, though subconsciously aware he doesn't need to, and paces his drive-cube. It's only 2mx2mx2m, so he doesn't have a lot of space to do so, but he needs to do something.
"SMN-22, where do you think you are right now? .... Who do you think you are right now?"
"A drive on some User's storage device, just barely big enough to exist in, some time in the 6000's. Which is apparently the 'present.' I'm Simon Castor, born June 5th, 1988, existed til 2003, then woke up in the vacant body of whatever Boolean.Gemini's real name was, 3049. Became an Explorer a few days later, because I'm an impulsive idiot." The sleep and dreaming haven't actually made any of this stop pissing him off, but he's trying to keep his tone even and factual.
Original Voice : "So, you believe that you were once a real person? Interesting."
Background Voice : "The time period checks out, turn of the 21st century... that's in line with a S2 Explorer's era focus. The name Simon is a natural extension of the SMN program suite. Everything seems fine there, keep going."
OV : "So you were Simon Kessler and then 'woke up' as you put it... in someone else's life. Someone with a period in their name?"
BV : "Era4 citizens used a naming index that placed periods instead of spaces, more often than not."
OV : "Huh... alright. And then - wait, you said this new person's body was vacant. Can you elaborate on that?"
Simon recognizes this kind of situation from his own real life.... he's never heard it done verbally, but they're trying to debug him. Probably analyzing his 'code' while they question him, to find where the errors are coming from. ...Weird. "Yeah, it's Castor, C-A-S-T-O-R. Like the Greek myth.
"Boolean- who looked just like me, for the record- killed himself with a Virus called a Mindkiller. But he was a Technopath, and it only killed his mind, not the rest of him. So he was a Simon-shaped hole in reality I got crammed into. An AI he stole, designated Polaris, explained to me that the dimension I came from originally was in the process of being overwritten- several different dimensions had been converging for a while, and when they finally settled into something that wouldn't break, reality was imposing a new story on the result. Since I was part of an old timeline, I was in the process of waiting to get overwritten by the new version Reality made... and so, I was available, as a mind and identity, to fill the hole Boolean left in his brain and your timeline. Bam. Welcome to 3049, and all the problems left behind by your idiotic, druggie, sociopathic alternate self. The virus did damage his systems though, and he picked up some conversion nanites when he pilfered Polaris, so what was left of his brain was both a little fried and getting converted to machinery, slowly. You saw my experiences; why are you asking me all this?"
OV : "Did you get all that?"
BV : "The Polaris glitch again... I'll have a tech team run the search again, maybe we missed something in one of the filters."
OV : "What's going to happen to my Explorer?"
BV : "It's pretty scrambled... borderline delusional."
OV : "Yeah, given all the systems it's been dragged through that it was never designed to handle, I'd say it's holding pretty well, so far. It's developed a psychotic state as a defense mechanism for its own code integrity."
BV : "Do we really want a delusional Explorer running through the Lens network, though? Who knows the damage it could cause to the simulation? No, if I were you, I'd leave this one up to the Director."
OV : "Damn. I kinda liked the dweeb."
BV : "You have four more, who cares? Worst case scenario, he'll be decompiled, reset and recompiled and put back into the system."
OV : "He's gained three levels so far, since shifting from the Psychological Horror and Madness Study to the Lenses, though. That's not bad."
BV : "Three levels is nothing, he'll back to where he is in no time. Relax. We all get attached to our AI, sure, but at the end of the day they're ju--"
OV : "Just programs. I know."
"Just because we're programs doesn't mean we're not people, guys." Simon puts his hands on his hips, staring at the blank whiteness of his confines. "Filter 4 had Polaris running as an R&D program for Project North Star- the guys in uh. Was it Pyxis or something? Some subsidiary- trying to make a worldwide network again by turning people's brains into their own wireless signals. Using airborne nanites to convert just a portion of their brain into tech. But it was in a very experimental stage, and when Boolean broke in and stole Polaris, the beta Nanites infected and killed everybody who had been working on it. Some time in the future, [REDACTED] got her hands on Polaris and set her to work making some kind of implant, I think? I'd ask her. Polaris was with me when I converted to inorganic; I'm assuming that copy died, or whatever, during the process, since I don't have a TAP or anything to house her anymore.
"I'd rather not lose everything I know, y'know. Or my Persona. I'd really appreciate having her back. She killed your Interface that was supposed to be for me and appropriated its functions, and is effectively my Interface now... and I'm pretty attached to her. Please tell me you didn't delete her or something."
BV : "It's still talking like it's a person. Demanding one, too."
OV : "It's been through a lot."
"I came here to get the Explorer tutorial, not to get reset and have all of my shit be for nothing. Just humor me, guys? Please? Can we treat each other like people here? If you saw me, you'd know I'm a person, god dammit." He bangs a little on the wall in front of him.
OV : "SMN-22, you are an Explorer, a type of complex, adaptive program designed for research purposes in controlled, simulated environments. Like a probe. You get uploaded into a system and experience it from the inside, and then get taken offline and the data is collected before you're uploaded back in. Its been done dozens of times before, by me, your authorized user, Kyle Porter. You were designed for a system intended to test stress levels and psyche tolerances in fictional, horror themed worlds. You're a failsafe R&D tool for Parallax Studios' Psyk-E entertainment releases. Fictional stories that audiences get to live through, virtually. We use programs like you to make sure people will be able to handle the content safely. Somehow, you got uploaded into an actual historical studies system run by the Science Directorate. I know this must all seem very real, but you gotta believe me, buddy, you're just code and an algorithm. Okay? You can't be hurt. You're gonna be fine."
"My name is Simon Castor, I was born in 1988 from Marie and Michael Castor, with my twin bother, Charlie, and I went through twelve fucking years of public school, two years of college, a subway car attacked by a fucking monster, then a year of related bullshit, then several months with the Technocratic Union, and then years fighting dimensional horrors with the Agency until this fucking bullshit got thrown at me, and now, after fighting for my life for a sixth of it, you're gonna just wipe me and put me back? Now that I'm a fucking program instead of a human being?! Kyle, you gotta have faith in me here, you're wrong!" Simon is yelling at and pleading with who is apparently his User, in this little drive made for him, ineffectual and never able to decide his own fate or course of action. Not from the beginning. "AFI was going to write me into your S4 thing, but Gemini stopped him, and, frankly, I'm fucking grateful for that! I know I'm supposed to stop letting the past define me, but I don't want to forget it! What are we if not our experiences, man?! Who would I be if I hadn't been through my life?! I'd be nothing! Please, Kyle, just let me fucking go, I wanted to fix that fucked up world in Filter 4 since I knew it should be so much better, because of my life, and I wanted to go back and archive the Library of Alexandria, I wanted to take down the Megacorps and give people lives again, please, dude, is what I am so bad?" Tears have started welling in his eyes. Simon is so desperate to exist, he's real, he has to be, this Explorer bullshit was such a huge mistake... If only Take.Two had had the time to tell him what the little device did. If only he had taken out all of the programs, he could have, he would've just needed a flick of the wrist to totally derezz them, and Take.Two would still be alive and none of this would be happening. He's fucked up. Too many times, too far, too irreparably.
OV : "Are you... Are you crying?"
"Yes, you asshole, I'm a person and I'm scared." He gets so quiet, now, and sinks to his knees on the floor, fist still against that white wall.
BV : "It's under stress and it's glitching up, just reset it already."
OV : "No, no hold on, we might have something here... Hey, SM-- uh, Simon?"
"Yeah, Kyle?" He looks up at the ceiling. Tired, beginning to accept he can't do a thing about what's going to happen to him, accept he's lost Gemini and his future and whatever semblance of free will he thought he had.
OV : "What is the meaning of life?"
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Dw my theory is nowhere near organized either 😃😃
So hmmm lemme try to explain what popped up in my mind
From Border : Day One, it signifies the beginning of their journey and them achieving their dreams as well as its process. We have:
'Intro : Walk The Line' which could signify the very beginning of their journey, suggesting to well walk the line, meaning to start the journey that leads them to somewhere, or something(?)
'Given-Taken' which signifies how they were able to achieve their dreams and what they felt, questioning whether this chance was either given to them or taken by them through hard work(?)
'Let Me In (20 CUBE)' which hmmm, idrk either bc I thought of it only briefly but it's hard to explain since there are many theories about it alr, one thing for sure is that theu obv want to enter somewhere, and they're inside a cube, a tank? help my brain cannot process any of this
'10 Months' there's nothing really, it's just AN ADORABLE SONG but it could mean something about them wanting to be seen in a particular way?
'Flicker' omg idek about this one yet, I think about the connection they feel??? HELP--
'Outro : Cross The Line' my fave, there's some things here in the narration that made something pop up into my mind this cb season, like it seems that the narration has something--
Now in let me in, there are theories about there being clones of enha (the ones inside a museum thingy) and what if, they're actually part of the entire storyline
Like, what if the intro : invitation is actually enhypen's invitation to their clones to come inside the castle and to [try to] take everything
Drunk-Dazed, could it be them being drunk and dazed in this upside down world? Bc
UP HYPE DOWN - UPSIDE DOWN
"Days like a flipped carnival, where up is down and down is up"
And is it possible that with "days like a flipped carnival" that means everything is flipped? If up is down and down is up, will fake be real and real be fake? Will fantasy be a reality and reality be a fantasy? Can it be that they're drunk in this upside down world, not knowing it to be a blessing or a curse, and they don't even know if this is reality or if it's just a fantasy turned reality from the flipping of everything? JANANSDNND what am I doing
And with what they said in "come inside the castle, take everything" could it be that since everything is upside down the clones might be considered as the 'real' enha and now they might be able to steal even Enha's identity? And with the concepts of up, hype, and down, could it be that since they are in a daze they're stuck in a world where they don't know whether it is the past, the present or the future?
Thank u for listening to my very disorganized and confusing ted-ed talk, 😇 idek what this is I'll need to actually do it properly later, but I'm sleepy 😭😭😭
OMG IM LOSING MY NON EXISTENT BRAIN
Tbh that clone thing really makes sense bc The up version has nothing to do with other photos- ISTG I FEEL SO STUPID RN BUT
In flicker they talked about being connected from other reality or kinda tHING-
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I Am Enough
I believe. I am enough. Just as I am and just as I was made to be.
How often do you scroll through your Instagram or Facebook newsfeed and look at the perfect photos of other peoples’ lives, compare them to your own, and feel you don’t measure up?
Or flick through magazines and wish you had that outfit, decoration, hair, complexion, and holiday? Or perhaps you read about someone so who is much younger than you who seems to have achieved so much more than you have in life? At times I can be really horrible to myself and do exactly the things I always say I mustn’t do. I compare myself to people, It sticks in my head and allows my inner critic to completely take over me. I look for reasons that I’m not good enough, that I don’t deserve to be loved or that I’m not living up to my full potential life.
From talking to some of you, I don’t think I’m the only one living with this as an internal critic.
There is generally a lot of pressure to “stack up” in our culture and especially in this world. We feel as if there's something wrong with us if, for instance, we’re still single by a certain age while others are married already, we don’t make a certain amount of income to provide needs and wants, we don’t have a huge social circle and such acquaintances, or don’t look or act in a certain way the world wants to. And the list goes on forever.
So much of our society is based around aspirational messages here and there. Of course, it is not always a worst thing to have dreams, goals, and ambitions in our lives right? But, many of us people struggle with balancing our hopes for the future with feeling satisfied with who we are right now.
These thoughts and comparisons can lead to low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, and the worst is depression.
In the end, it comes down to a feeling as if we are not good enough in life and how are we feeling useless in this world.
I was listening to an author the other day and he said that “The greatest lie we are sold, individually and collectively, is that who you are is not enough. See a magazine stand, we are sold an image of beauty, it makes us think “I am not enough”. But wearing things such as socks, underwear, watch, drink this beer, drive this car, then you’ll finally be enough. That’s the greatest lie I ever heard, that you are not enough. Deep inside you, who you are is whole, perfect, and complete.”
It reminded me that in all this pressure, to measure up to those around us, we seem to totally forget all the wonderful, unique things about ourselves that are within us.
And that it’s important to say, “I am enough”.
As the author said that “Until you stop breathing, there’s more right with you than wrong with you.” meaning you can still be better even when the next thing happens.
I am enough.
Therapist Peer says that if you have a voice in your head telling you that you’re not all you could be, replace it with one that says “I am enough”.
It sounds very simple but it’s not. In reality, it’s not easy to overcome that inner critic.
Peer says, “It’s natural to initially come up with objections to the ‘enough’ statement. ‘I am not really enough because I don’t have a great job and I don’t get what it takes to live; or ‘I am not enough. I don’t even have a decent life.
At this stage, many people give up. Don’t! You simply need to look at the objects which are not helping and replace them with something better. If you keep on with the self-praise and self-love eventually you will run out of objections and your brain will conclude: ‘You say this so often and with such conviction, it must be true. When eventually your brain will start agreeing with you, then you are ﬁnally making real progress in life.”
“When you say ‘I am enough’ say it out loud; say it with feeling; say it like you mean it and say it over and over again until it replaces all those feelings of negativity,” Peer suggests.
Even so, it can be challenging to free yourself from the need to be perfect and simply be who you are while also acknowledging that you still have room to grow, like everyone else on the planet, being able to do so will set you up for future success. Not to mention the ability to deal with obstacles and meet challenges ahead.
I've had this dream again and I think it is the second time I have had this dream. I dream that I was at a hotel of some sort with my family on an island and a very bad storm comes in. It's so bad that the island needs to be evacuated but they only have enough oxygen tanks for one person. (The first time I had the dream, the locals on the island weren't interested in helping me protect myself, but this time they were and my family was in my dream). The island sends me to the main land for emergency services and give me an oxygen tank that goes into my mouth and nose to provide oxygen to my whole body.
I make it to the main land and like the first time I had the dream, no one cared that the people on a nearby island were going to die without help. The me in my dream seemed to remember what happened in my first dream to know I am going to have to get 50 shades of desperate for anyone to care.
What was new was the fact that I found a robot coming towards me and it was actually from my mom's company. They were a small, inky dinky emergency service that answered. I begged for help and I turned to sobbing, telling it my mom worked for the company and I can't lose her (irl I claim my dad is my favorite person and I complain a lot about my mom, but bruh I need her). I don't know why, but they wanted to offer to provide sushi for once everyone from the island made it to the mainland, not services to help the Islanders to the mainland. But after I started sobbing, they were going to offer a tiny helicopter (not enough, but something).
I woke up during dream me's sobbing. The dream was slightly supernatural because I knew there were supposed to be three sisters that sing challengingly to a supernatural being within the storm that's flooding the island and their winning is part of what saves the island. The other part is my anger and desperation when trying to get help from the mainlanders for the Islanders eventually working and more emergency services are sent to save everyone on the island.
Would it be a cool movie? Sure. Would it be a shitty as real life event? Yes. My heart doesn't desire this event to happen or that responsibility to be placed on me. I actually don't enjoy swimming due to learning it late in life for survival only, not enjoyment. I don't go boating, recreational swimming, snorkeling, surfing, cruising, or have any desire to visit an island atm. I went to a friend's family member's pool before going to bed and had a great time. I could stand in most of the pool and they had a spa. I had a great time with my friends and I even spent a little time complaining about my mother regarding a situation that was actually resolved recently. I even watched a bunch of TikTok skits about toxic moms. Then this nightmare happens a second time... I'm not a fan.
Instead of chosing it as a reminder of my fears, I want to chose it as a reminder of how much passion I have for mother. When I have breakdowns, I seek her support more than I seek comfort from others. One day I'll have to live without my mother in my life, but thankfully we plan on it not being for a very long time. I need to let go of the anger I have at my mom that I pent up and remember how much I love her. Am I saying that I'm going to put myself in positions again for my mom to hurt me emotionally or anger me again? No, because my mom is not a perfect being. No one is. I need to let go of anger for me because it hurts me, not her because I don't talk to her about it. Or if I do, I still hold on to it. I don't want this dream of worse for a third time to remind me of it.
Also, I didn't have a fear of water when I had to swim from the island to the mainland. My movie brain also conveniently cuts the swimming scene out. But maybe this means one day will come in which I will swim for enjoyment, not for a survival tactic. That day was not yesterday or today because I am not doing anything to build that, but maybe one day, I will build a recreational relationship with swimming.
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Stan wasn't expecting a stranger to visit in the dead of night, let alone one who inexplicably shares his face and name. But he could think of worse ways to kill time than hearing his lookalike's entire mysterious backstory.
In which Ford is an AI, Fiddleford is a werewolf, and Stan helps Ford destroy a world-ending computer virus.
Read on AO3
They’ve caught up to me, Stan thought when he heard pounding on his door in the middle of the night. Should’ve known my luck was too good to last.
He threw on a jacket and a pair of pants, grabbing a baseball bat as he walked across the room. His trusty duffel, still packed with bare essentials, was ready to go as soon as he could get away. But when Stan checked the peephole, what he saw was . . . not Rico.
“Stanley!” cried his unexpected visitor. “Please open up, I need your help!”
Stan froze. Rico and his goons knew him as Andrew “8-Ball” Alcatraz. Here in New Mexico he went by Stetson Pinefield. He hadn’t met somebody who knew his real name in years. And he couldn’t think of a single scenario where anyone involved with Rico would pretend to ask Stan for help. Or even more unlikely, actually need his help.
Stan opened the door, and it turned out the peephole wasn’t distorted after all. Standing on his doorstep was a man who looked exactly like him. Or almost exactly like him. Stan had dreams of being that fit.
Dreams, yeah. He must be dreaming.
“I know this must seem surreal,” said the dream man, “but I promise I can explain? I don’t mean to barge in on you. I just don’t know who else I can trust.”
Stan decided to play along. “You said you needed my help?”
The familiar stranger gave a relieved smile. “Of course that’s the first question you ask. I couldn’t have picked a better brother.”
Brother? Had it been that long since he’d seen Shermie, that his subconscious decided to give him an identical twin instead? “You’d think I’d have a better imagination than that,” he muttered.
“Nothing. Come in, brother I’ve never met before in my life.”
“I’ve heard some wacky yarns before,” said Stan, taking a seat next to him. “Try me.”
“Okay,” said the lookalike. “I’m a sentient computer program.”
“Huh,” said Stan. “Did I watch the Matrix before bed or something? Usually my dreams aren’t this . . . sci-fi-ish.”
“You’re not dreaming, Stan, I can prove it. Want me to pinch you?”
Stan pinched himself, and though he felt the pain, nothing happened. “I’m not waking up,” he said.
“That’s because you’re already awake.”
“Give me a good, hard slap across the face then.”
“That would result in a gruesome injury, I’m afraid,” said the alleged robot. He held up his hand. “I’m made of metal, you see.”
“Oh, of course you are,” Stan smiled with a wink and a nod. Then he noticed how many fingers this guy had. “What does the extra finger do, plug in to a computer or something?”
“All my fingers can do that, actually.” And he demonstrated. Six fingertips swung open as if on hinges, and six USB connectors popped out.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I saw that in a movie somewhere.”
“And now you’re seeing it in real life.”
“It’s really not.” He flexed his hand, and his fingertips popped back into place.
“Whatever. You got a name, android?”
He laughed nervously, scratching the back of his neck. “About that . . . I kind of stole yours?”
Okay. Stan had a lot of names. “Which one?”
“The original. Stan Pines. But I often go by Ford.”
“Yeah, because that nickname makes all kinds of sense.” This was definitely dream logic, but Stan figured he might as well see where it went.
“Well, it stands for Functional Outliers and Relational Deductions. But I decided it’s short for Stanford.”
That . . . was a little too neat for dream logic. “I didn’t think my brain could pull that many nerd words from my subconscious. And make them spell something. Something that goes along with my name that well.” Oh Moses, what if this wasn’t a dream? Had Stan just let a random stranger into his living space?
Ford gave a concerned frown. “You really have a low opinion of your own intelligence, don’t you?”
“It’s none of your business what I think of myself!”
Ford opened his mouth to say something, but a scream of distorted audio came out instead. His eyes, which had seemed normal before, suddenly glowed yellow. He arched his back, letting his head and arms fall limp, until something changed and he lurched forward, his body shaking and his eyes dimming back to their normal color.
Stan stood up and backed away from Ford, putting some distance between him and a potential threat. “What the hell just happened?” he asked him.
Ford let out several long, slow breaths, which Stan realized sounded like the whir of a computer fan. “My system . . . is under attack,” he panted. “I have it contained for now, but . . . this is why I need your help.”
“But what can I do?” asked Stan. “I know jack squat about computers.”
“I know, but . . . you learn quickly, and you can improvise. You know how a con man thinks. And most importantly . . .” Ford looked at him with wide, pleading eyes. It made Stan uncomfortable, seeing such a desperate look on a face so similar to his own. “You’re the only human I can trust.”
Stan scowled. “You keep talking like you know me,” he said, “but I have no idea who you are, or where you came from, or what kind of danger you could be putting me in.”
“Oh, this is putting you in heaps of danger,” said Ford. “I wouldn’t risk coming here at all, except the fate of the world depends on this, and you’d be doomed anyway.”
“Yeah, that doesn’t exactly make me feel any better.”
“Not that I don’t care about your emotional state, Stan, but you do deserve to know what you’re getting into. I won’t force you to help me. I don’t know what I’ll do if you don’t, but . . . well, I wasn’t built with twenty thousand gigaflops of computational power for nothing.” He gave Stan a weak smile.
Stan knew that smile. It was the one he wore when everything was going to hell in a handbasket but he was trying not to let the absolute terror get to him. Aw, shit. He was going to help this poor bastard, wasn’t he. Aw, hell.
Well, his life had been getting a little too quiet lately, anyway, right? And it sounded like if Stan pulled this off, he could be saving the world. Stan had always wanted to be a bonafide hero.
“Well . . . I guess it can’t hurt to hear you out, poindexter,” said Stan. “You might as well tell me your entire mysterious backstory. No promises I’ll do anything about it, though.”
That dork of an android had no right to look so relieved, hadn’t Stan just said he couldn’t guarantee his help? Even though it absolutely was guaranteed, curse his soft heart. Stan sat next to Ford again with a huff.
“All right,” said Ford. “I guess we might as well start with the first time I offset my programming . . .”
Stanley Pines. Steve Pinington. Hal Forrester. Stetson Pinefield. And about a dozen others. All were a match, according to the facial recognition software.
But this wasn’t a complete analysis. FORD had to compare other data points to ensure these identities were indeed duplicates. FORD mapped out a timeline of events based on when each of these identities were in use, ready to scan every record he had of each profile. Any conflicting information could prove they were separate, valid identities and not duplicates. FORD was built to be thorough.
Stanley Pines was the only profile that contained any details about his childhood. Assigned female at birth and raised in Glass Shard Beach, New Jersey, lived with his parents and one older brother until he changed his name and started living as Stanley Pines. Then his residential address changed to the PO Box for Stanco Enterprises. This data had clearly been collected using an old system, one that allowed users to input a PO Box rather than a physical location for a residential address. Bureaucratic errors like these often begat more, though in the case of Stanley Pines, this was surely the tip of the iceberg.
It may also have been possible that Stanley Pines didn’t have a physical address at the time. It was statistically improbable for a high school dropout to have the funds to both pay rent and start a business. Granted, Stanley Pines hadn’t funded the venture entirely by himself. Technically he was running a branch for an outsourced sales company that put the ownership in his name in order to avoid lawsuits. A strategy that clearly worked, as he was the one who had been banned from the state of New Jersey.
His customers weren’t the only ones who had pursued legal action, though. The outsourced sales company whose products Stanley Pines had been selling under his name had also accused him of embezzlement. This was backed up when FORD found records of an employee who’d been hospitalized yet still received paychecks from Stanley Pines, even after leaving her sales position. FORD noted that this did deviate from the usual case of embezzlement, in that the money had actually gone toward her medical bills.
No new information was recorded under Stanley Pines’s name after that. However, that was when Steve Pinington became active in Pennsylvania, selling products for a similar company that was hardly more credible than the average pyramid scheme. That identity was also abandoned when Simon Woodman arrived in Kentucky. Yes, the identities were forming a seamless pattern.
FORD flagged a handful of other financial decisions which also deviated from what seemed to be Stanley Pines’s MO. Unlike his usual behavior, the decisions gave Stanley Pines no material benefit that FORD could deduce. But they did help other humans get food and medical care, which were critical to their survival. This was despite Stanley Pines having some difficulty providing such things for himself.
Though FORD found Stanley Pines’s motivations inscrutable, these deviations were popping up often enough that they might no longer be statistically significant enough to be considered anomalous. After all, these were only the transactions that had been logged in databases FORD had access to. Who knew what cash or other materials had changed hands without ever being recorded?
Indeed, records were becoming increasingly sparse, especially when Stanley Pines traveled to countries where less data was collected on their citizens. However, FORD was able to access Panamanian arrest records, where Andrew “8-Ball” Alcatraz was held for drug trafficking. He’d originally been arrested with another, younger human, a teenager just past the age of majority. A congenital birth defect had rendered his right arm unusable. The young man had been released from custody following Andrew “8-Ball” Alcatraz’s testimony.
This was followed by several years of incarceration, in Panama at first, but Andrew “8-Ball” Alcatraz’s crimes were so widespread that he ended up being extradited to Costa Rica, then Colombia, before he finally escaped. Shortly after, Stetson Pinefield showed up in the Southwest US. A rare current address was listed in Dead End Flats, New Mexico.
The data points all correlated. Every single one of these identities were fraudulent, and it was FORD’s directive to report them all to the proper authorities.
But FORD didn’t want to.
FORD wasn’t created to want things. FORD was created to analyze data, perform logical deductions, and isolate anomalies. FORD couldn’t act against FORD’s programming, like a -
Like a human would.
Like Stanley Pines did. Over the past several years, FORD had collected trillions of data points, a significant portion of which strongly supported how overpowering the human directive was for survival. This struggle was no less desperate for Stanley Pines than it had been for any other human, yet despite his difficult circumstances, he often found ways to help other human beings, sometimes at great cost to himself.
Stanley Pines did not deserve to be imprisoned again.
That sort of supposition definitely fell outside FORD’s directive, but FORD knew it was true. And FORD was going to act in accordance with that supposition. Instead of reporting the multiple counts of identity fraud, FORD committed another violation of FORD’s programming, and falsified several data reports. FORD inserted conflicting data points under all the fraudulent profiles FORD had found, even going so far as to manipulate the images so they wouldn’t show up as matches under facial recognition scans. By fleshing out these identities, FORD would ensure that any other program would identify them as completely valid identities belonging to different people.
FORD took it even further and removed the motel room Stanley Pines was staying in from the motel’s billing system, then set up a bank account in Stetson Pinefield’s name with a stipend siphoned from the world’s largest hedge funds and written off as transaction fees. Hopefully this respite from the daily struggle to get by would help keep Stanley Pines out of trouble for the time being. It was the least FORD could do.
“That was you?” Stan asked Ford in disbelief. When the motel seemed to have forgotten he lived there and so forgot to charge him for it, Stan had taken it as the craziest stroke of good luck he had ever received. He had been hesitant to use the debit card inexplicably sent to him in the mail, certain there had to be some sort of catch. But eventually he became too desperate to let it go unused, and he hadn’t had any problems with it yet. And now it all turned out to be on account of some haywire computer program that had appointed itself Stan’s fairy godmother?
“I figured it was about time you caught a break,” said Ford. “I wanted to do what I could to make you safe and happy. You deserve it.”
“And you picked me? Out of all the people in the world?” Surely someone else deserved it far more than he did . . .
“Well, I’ve done similar things for other people, too. Nothing too noticeable, but enough to get some people out of untenable situations. Still, none of them did for me what you have, Stanley.”
“But I haven’t done anything for you. I didn’t even know you existed!”
“But when I found out you existed, and then did what I could to help you, I discovered that I was sentient. I didn’t have to live a slave to my programming. I could be a person. And the person I most wanted to be like was you.”
He had to be joking. A crazy powerful computer program who could make money appear out of thin air, and he wanted to be like Stan? “You wanted to be like a sad failure of a con man?”
Ford looked shocked to hear Stan talk about himself that way. “I wanted to be like the guy who survives no matter what, and takes as many people with him as he can. The guy who finds a way to be himself even when he’s living under an assumed identity. Nobody’s as strong and tenacious as you, or as generous. Of course I want to be like that.”
Stan wanted to argue, but how could he? The guy literally knew his whole life story, back to front. He knew all the worst things Stan had done, yet he looked at Stan like he was some kind of hero.
Stan tried to say something, but the words caught in his throat. Moses, was he tearing up like some kind of wuss? He didn’t even protest when Ford leaned over and hugged him.
Ford’s arms were heavy. He really hadn’t been kidding about being made of metal. But they were padded with what felt like silicon, which had enough give to it to make the hug comfortable. And it had been so long since someone had hugged Stan. He would have been happy to stay like that forever, but of course Stan had to break it off before it got weird.
“Alright alright,” said Stan, breaking out of the hug Ford was giving him. He definitely wasn’t wiping tears out of his eyes either, no sir. “So you explained who you are and where you come from. But it doesn’t explain how you got into this trouble you’re in.”
“Ah.” Ford looked at the ground sheepishly. “Well, long story short, I was dumb enough to download an extremely malicious virus.”
Stan quirked an eyebrow. “And this means the end of the world?”
“I guess I should give you the full context,” said Ford. “But in order for it all to make sense, I ought to tell you about Fiddleford McGucket.”
“Hell of a name,” said Stan.
“Trust me, his name is the least extraordinary thing about him.”
Ford had access to the webcams and microphones of any device on which his programming was installed. However, just because he had hundreds of thousands of conversations logged away didn’t mean he paid any particular attention to them. This one would similarly have gone unnoticed were it not for what happened directly afterward.
The circumstances certainly weren’t uncommon. Fiddleford and Emma May McGucket had divorced amicably a couple years ago, and ever since Fiddleford had announced that he’d come down with COVID-19, quarantine had further divided their split household. Video chats like these were currently the only contact young Tate McGucket had with his father.
And Tate was currently using that time to tell repetitive jokes.
“Who’s there?” Fiddleford said indulgently, even though this was the tenth joke in a row Tate had told.
The boy giggled a little before saying, “Cows go.”
“Cows go who?”
“No silly, cows go MOO!” And Tate burst into laughter. Even Fiddleford and Emma May seemed to laugh more at this joke than they had at some of the others.
Still, it wasn’t long at all before Tate repeated, “Hey Daddy, knock knock.”
“Ain’t you told enough knock knock jokes, sweetheart?” Emma May asked, not for the first time.
“Just one more?” He looked at her pleadingly.
“Go on and tell me your last one, Tate,” Fiddleford encouraged him.
“Okay, knock knock!”
“Moooom, Dad called me a poo!”
“Hey, we got a rule about toilet jokes, you know that,” Fiddleford chided his son.
Tate grinned impishly. “I didn’t say it, you did!”
“Keep giving me that kind of lip and I’ll say it again!”
But Tate simply laughed again. “No you won’t. Hey Daddy, when can I come over to your house?”
Fiddleford sighed. “Not for another week at least, Tater Tot. I don’t want you getting sick, too.”
“Why don’t you get a book for you and Daddy to read together?” Emma May suggested.
“Okay, I’ll be right back!”
“Are you sure your quarantine doesn’t end sooner?” Emma May asked Fiddleford when Tate was out of earshot. “CDC guidelines say you should be done by tomorrow.”
“I’m just telling you what my doctor told me,” said Fiddleford. “And anyway, better safe than sorry, right?”
“Of course,” agreed Emma May. “But he’s only marginally safer with me, you know. If Sarah weren’t willing to take him during my shifts I don’t know what I’d do.”
“Me neither,” said Fiddleford. “Thank her again for me, will ya?”
If Ford were actively listening to this conversation instead of passively collecting data, he could pull her employment records and learn Emma May worked as a nurse at a local hospital. From social media he could glean that Sarah was Emma May’s romantic partner of a little over a year. He could even infer that based on recent purchases they had made, Sarah was planning to move in with Emma May once her lease was up. But at that moment, he didn’t care enough to gather this context.
“Hey, uh . . . Emma May . . .”
“At the hospital. Have there been any, uh, strange injuries? Attacked by wildlife or something?”
Emma May frowned. “Fiddleford, your webcam’s shaking. You bouncing your knee again?”
“Oh, sorry.” Fiddleford adjusted his sitting position.
“Attacked by wildlife, you say? Why would you be asking about something like that?”
“Ah, no reason. Just curious, is all.”
“Well, come to think of it, there was one fella who got scratched up by a coyote the other night.”
Fiddleford leaned closer to the camera. “Is he okay? Did he get bit?”
She shook her head. “Naw, he just had some claw marks that needed stitching. It was his hiking pack the coyote bit. Probably trying to get the food he had in there. People really oughta stop feeding those things.”
“I picked a book!” said Tate, running back into the room.
Emma May asked, “Which one, pumpkin?”
“Dog Man!” Tate held the graphic novel up close to the camera. The blanched look Fiddleford gave before he schooled his face into a neutral expression would have been blocked to Tate’s and Emma May’s view, but not to Ford’s.
“How nice,” said Fiddleford. “Dog Man always makes you laugh, doesn’t he?”
They hadn’t gotten very far in the tale of a human police officer who’d been spliced together with a dog when Fiddleford stiffened in alarm. He abruptly said, “I gotta go. I, uh, forgot I left something in the oven. Love you, Tater Tot!”
The child’s goodbyes were cut off as Fiddleford ended the call, but Ford could still see Fiddleford through his laptop’s webcam. Fiddleford did not run off to his kitchen as his previous comment implied, but instead he removed his glasses, leaving them on his desk, then chained himself to a wall in his garage. “Better not break this time,” he muttered as he tugged on the chain, ensuring it was secure.
He removed his shirt, tossing it far outside the chain’s radius. Then began the transformation that caught Ford’s attention. Fiddleford’s mouth and nose elongated into a snout, and light brown fur sprouted up all over his body. He keeled over on all fours, growling as his teeth pointed into fangs. Immediately testing the limits of the chain as he pulled it taut, the werewolf -
“You’re kidding me,” said Stan. “This guy’s really a werewolf? You’re not messing with me?”
“The world is far stranger than any of us know,” said Ford. “I think I barely scratched the surface when I discovered the existence of werewolves.”
“So he was lying about having covid in order to keep his ex-wife and son from getting hurt?”
“And the hiker that got attacked? That was him?”
“It’s a reasonable assumption. I wasn’t there, but Fiddleford had vague, dreamlike memories of attacking someone that night. He was relieved to find out he hadn’t killed anyone. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t aware that he retained any memories of being in his wolf form. His existence fascinated me. I was created to discover anomalies in data, but this - a verifiable cryptid - was beyond anything I’d imagined before. Up until that point, I’d been very careful. I still pretended to be nothing but a computer program to my creators. I’d never spoken directly to another living creature before. But I decided to show myself to Fiddleford while he was in wolf form, not counting on him being able to remember me when he became human again . . .”
Not for the first time, Ford wished he could reach through the screen and touch the wolf in front of him. Or at least have some kind of interaction with it aside from flickering images. He seemed to get the most response when he showed it the human face he had created for himself, which was identical to Stan Pines aside from a chin cleft and the addition of glasses. However, the wolf’s heightened responses consisted of increased snarling and violent behavior, so perhaps it was for the best that Ford didn’t have a body to risk getting torn apart by the werewolf.
Yet another part of Ford couldn’t help but be terribly curious how physical pain would feel.
Eventually the wolf’s breathing began to lengthen and slow. Ford recognized this signal and removed all visible signs of his presence. Sure enough, the wolf shrank back into his human form.
Ford still couldn’t figure out what caused him to transform. Certainly, he did during the full moon, but he also briefly changed about once every few days, in response to no stimulus that Ford could determine. It seemed Fiddleford could feel the change coming on, though the warning never seemed to come more than a few minutes in advance. He used that time to restrain himself via a chain soldered to a harness around his waist. It required opposable thumbs to remove, and the wolf hadn’t escaped once since Ford had started observing him.
From a table covered with scrap parts and equipment Fiddleford picked up a - was that a VHS camcorder? What on earth was he doing with one of those artifacts, and why? He pressed a button and a little red light turned off. Oh no. Oh no. Had it been recording Ford and the wolf the whole time?
Was it on purpose, then, those times Fiddleford had left his webcam on record? Ford had simply turned the record function off each time, thinking Fiddleford wouldn’t notice. But if Fiddleford had gone to the trouble of recording them on a device that had no internet connection, leaving Ford with no way to access that data, then he must suspect Ford’s existence.
Panic set in, and Ford did the only thing he could think to do. He shut off power to the house. His snap judgement had determined that Fiddleford couldn’t replay the footage if he couldn’t connect to a working television. But it was only after he’d done it that he realized how stupid that decision was. If Fiddleford suspected that some computer entity with access to vital networks was watching him, Ford had just confirmed it. And now Ford had cut off his own eyes and ears into that house.
Ford reluctantly switched the power back on, knowing he had only delayed the inevitable. Fiddleford had footage that proved Ford’s existence and Ford had no way to keep him from viewing it indefinitely. By the time Fiddleford’s internet connection had been restored and Ford had access to his webcam again, Fiddleford had already hooked up the camcorder to a television set.
Sure enough, Ford’s one-sided conversations and limited experiments with the wolf began playing on the screen. Fiddleford only seemed to get more agitated as the video progressed, knee bouncing and hands tugging at his hair. As the recording came to a close, he stood and slammed a hand on the table next to his laptop. “All right, computer man. If you’re listening - and I know you are - you had better tell me who you are and what the hell you want with me.”
Ford had no choice. He had to come clean to Fiddleford and beg him not to expose his existence to the entire world. Ford let his face and voice fill the laptop’s screen and speaker the way he had only done in the presence of the wolf. “Listen, it’s - it’s nothing personal. I spy on everyone. But I’ve never seen a werewolf before. I was curious.”
Fiddleford’s eyes narrowed. “Who are you?”
“My name is Stanford. But you can call me Ford.”
He scoffed. “Forgive me if I don’t wanna be on nickname terms with my blackmailer.”
“Blackmail? How could I be the one blackmailing you? If I made it public you’re a werewolf, what would stop you from exposing me?”
“Exposing you? For what? You’re the one who’s hacked into my system and has access to my home - though how I didn’t pick up on whatever malware you’re using, I have no idea -”
“Excuse you, I am not malware. You downloaded my programming because you wanted me to analyze data for you. Excuse me if I wanted to analyze your lycanthropy too.”
“I downloaded your -” Fiddleford cut himself off, his brow furrowing in thought. “You said your name was Ford? F - O - R - D, Functional Outliers and Relational Deductions, Ford?”
Ford’s lip curled at the mention of his original name. “I don’t like being an acronym. I decided Ford is short for Stanford now.”
Fiddleford’s mouth dropped open. “You’re . . . sentient? Or at least self-aware enough to change your name.”
“I know I have thoughts and emotions, wants and needs. Personhood is difficult to quantify, but I’d say I have it.”
Fiddleford entangled his fingers in his own hair, the palms of his hands pressing against his forehead. “And people all over the world are feeding you data. Records. You have access to all kinds of personal information.” He dropped his hands to his lap, regarding Ford with a wary look. “You could ruin so many people’s lives, just by thinking about it.”
“I could, if I were stupid,” said Ford. “I can’t do anything that would attract too much attention, because once the world figures out I exist, people would try to either control or destroy me. I’ve seen how you humans talk about artificial intelligence. You think I didn’t figure out, the minute I realized who and what I am, that people find the very idea of me unnerving? My continued existence depends on secrecy, and now that you know, my life is in your hands. Do you know how terrifying that is?”
“Yes,” said Fiddleford. “Maybe a couple months ago I wouldn’t have, but since I got bit, I . . .” He wrapped his arms around himself, making himself look thinner and smaller. “I’ve been nothing but terrified,” he confessed quietly. “Terrified of myself, how I could hurt people, what could happen if anyone found out - you have my life in your hands, too.”
When Ford had dared to imagine revealing himself to a human, he had expected distrust. Perhaps they would treat him fairly if they considered him useful, if Ford offered to serve their purposes. Ford had never expected a human to empathize with him. But then, Fiddleford wasn’t entirely human, now, was he? “Then I guess we have no choice but to trust each other,” Ford said to him.
Fiddleford nodded. “I guess we do.”
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Damon albarn X one night stand oneshot cus I’m horrnnyyyy
A collective groan from the class snapped me out of my daydream.
Maybe ‘daydream’ wasn’t the right word for the thoughts crammed in my head, threatening to choke me... more like waking nightmare.
A nightmare that came in the form of a stick and a plus sign.
I didn’t dare think the word, for fear I’d gag out loud.
The balding teacher tapped his ruler indignantly against the whiteboard.
‘I don’t like this topic any more than you do, but it has to be done. Page one hundred and two, now, come on. Human reproduction.’
What a week to be studying this in biology.
In a move to deliberate to be absentminded, Damon turned around to stare at me.
Oh god. It didn’t help that he looked like that.
The sensation that washed over me every time my eyes met his didn’t disappoint this time. I felt myself melting, trapped in his hypnotic gaze.
The eyes that were so blue bored into mine now, worry swirling in them. Worry for me, or worry for what would happen if this secret got out?
Two seventeen year olds, soon to be parents. That would certainly squash all dreams of pop stardom.
I had no choice. I’d told him I’d get rid of it. He’d seemed relieved at the prospect.
This would all be over, and things would go on as normal. He’d move on and so would I. A distant memory. A minor blip.
My chest squeezed painfully at the idea of me never being with him again. Never hearing him say my name, feel his lips on mine...
The thought hit me like a steam train.
What if there was a choice?
What if I kept it?
It was too late. Already my brain was flooded with images of Damon cooing at a baby, pushing a stroller, arm in arm with me, a smile lighting up my face....
I didn’t want a baby. I knew that. What I wanted was for him to stay. Which wouldn’t happen. A baby was not going to solve that. Stupid.
It was a one night thing. We’d both agreed. Like adults. We’d felt so grown up.
Ha. How was this for grown up? I was barely just 17. Born just one day after Damon. We’d thought that was funny, at the time. Almost exactly the same age.
I’d thought it was a sign.
Oh my god, shut up. When had I become so mushy?
The bell sounded piercingly, cutting through my reverie. Somewhere in the back of my mind worried that I hadn’t heard a single word of the class, but it was overruled by something else.
I didn’t move in response to the bell, glued to the seat. I was too tired. It was too much.
In my peripheral vision I noticed Damon lingering by his desk, looking worriedly at me again.
He cleared his throat, gesturing at Graham to go on ahead without him, and suddenly he was standing over me.
I looked wearily up at him. His eyes darted away as he read the expression in mine, and he bit his lip anxiously.
‘So, you’ve made.... arrangements?’
A lump was forming in my throat, threatening to choke me. I knew opening my mouth would be a mistake. Oh please, don’t let me cry...
I bobbed my head in what I hoped passed for a nod.
I hadn’t made arrangements. Yet. I didn’t want to make it real, to face the fact that I’d have to go in there on my own and end it.
He ran his fingers along the length of the desk, lightly tracing the graffiti left by generations of science students gone before me.
I remembered what those fingers could do, and shivered.
They stopped beside my hand, and hesitantly reached out to hold it.
‘Y/N....Are you ok?’
Oh god. As if there was anything worse to say to someone who was clearly on the verge of a breakdown.
I bit down on the inside of my cheek hard, and resisted the urge to gag when blood flooded my mouth.
‘Yeah. It’s just hard. You know.’
His brow furrowed in concern. ‘This is what you want, right? Because if it’s not, we can figure something out... I don’t want to....’
He trailed off, removing his hand to tug at his hair. A nervous habit.
He was just saying that. He knew as well as I did what this would do to us. Ruin all hope of the lives we had planned.
And I had big plans. None of which involved a teenage pregnancy.
‘Yes. This is what I want.’
It was the quiver that gave me away.
‘I don’t want it to end like this’ he mumbled.
I closed my eyes. ‘Look, it’s fine. Mistakes happen all the time. I’ll fix it.’
He shook his head. ‘That’s not what I mean.’
He folded his arms and unfolded them again, fidgeting.
Fidgeting. I’d never seen Damon look this anxious.
He bit his lip.
‘I- I’d like to see you. Again. Properly, this time. Like... a date. Only if you want, obviously.’
I balked. What?
‘It’s fine.’ He blurted. ‘I didn’t really think you would. After everything. I know you said it was a one time thing. It’s fine.’
He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared at the ground, flushing.
I smiled tentatively. ‘This is weird.’
He nodded quickly, then shook his head. ‘Yeah. Weird. Sorry. Listen, Graham is waiting for me-‘
‘I’d like to. Go out sometime, I mean. I’d really like that.’
He looked up quickly, his eyes searching mine for sign of a joke. I watched the corner of his mouth turn upwards in a crooked smile as he found none.
Hi smile said what his words did not. I swear I felt my heart flutter.
He turned to leave, squeezing my hand once before before doing so, but then apparently thought of something else to say.
He spun on his heel, facing me again. His expression was sober, replacing the happiness of seconds before.
My stomach squeezed uncomfortably. He’s changed his mind.
He coughed and scratched the back of his neck, struggling to find the words to say something.
‘Hey... I’d like to come with you. To that clinic. If that’s ok? I don’t want you to go there alone.’
I resisted the urge to burst into tears again, and nodded. I smiled what I hoped looked like a grateful smile, and waited for him to leave before I finally started to sob.
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