When someone asks me how bad my headache is at its worse, I tell them that if someone offered me $1,000,000 to have this headache, even just for a few hours, I wouldn't take the money. That's how bad it is.
And they'll reply, "Oh, you're exaggerating. It can't be that bad."
Yes it can, and it is.
Believe people's pain.
PAIRING: Thomas Shelby x female!reader
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I wrote this for @sophieshelby 1k followers celebration with 8. “You like the pain. You like it because you believe you deserve it” promt. Congratulations! Oh, and this is my first attempt at writing something, so... be careful.
WARNINGS: English is my second language; my bad writing.
WORD COUNT: 843
"Are you... are you an angel?”
Thomas was lying on the ground in a lane after he ran into a rival gang. Believing that they beat him enough that he couldn't take care of himself, and deciding that no one would find him in this deserted area, nor at such a late hour, they left, dooming him to a slow death. But now, just a few moments later, he felt someone's presence. He could have sworn he didn't hear the approaching footsteps, and yet someone was already looming over him. His eyes are drenched with his own blood, and he can’t even move a finger. Thomas tenses, because he could neither see the approacher nor defend himself from them. The silence is interrupted by a quiet rustling and he suddenly feels a soft cloth gently dabbing at his eyes, wiping away the blood, giving him the opportunity to see a blurry female silhouette.
"What if I am?"
You whisper softly, crouching next to him. He often gets into similar situations.
One day, as a child, falling into the canal, he somehow found himself on the shore, safe and sound. That was the day you met him. Then Aunt Polly said that a guardian angel was looking after him and that it was the one who saved him. Tommy believed it for a long time. He boasted to his brothers that the angel itself was protecting him. And, although over time, faith in God didn't strengthen in little Shelby, he didn't stop believing in this even now. After all, he often "comes out of the water dry."
"Then am I dead?"
He asks hoarsely, and you only shudder. The last word he uttered cuts without a knife.
"What are you talking about, silly, I won't let that happen."
You answer with bitterness in your voice, but with much more warmth, running your fingers through his hair.
"But you need to stop looking for a meeting with me."
You notice coldly, running your fingers along his forehead, cheekbones, and stopping on his lips. His lips were broken, however, like himself. You would like to heal his soul, but such a miracle is beyond your power. Not after everything he's been through.
"Do I know you?"
He asks quietly, and you pull your fingers away from his lips. You remember every day you spent with him. The way he learned to ride a horse with his father (he didn't immediately manage to get along with them and his falls were far from easy, but his perseverance can only be envied); the way he helped his mother with cooking ("children shouldn't play with knives", and yet Tommy learned to handle them pretty well); the way he lay in bed with a severe flu (but he is a strong boy, he endured everything); the way he defended his younger sister from impudent boys who offended her (attacking a little girl with the whole "gang" is not very nice); the way he took the first bullet for his brother. Also you remember the war. Those long four years, where every minute of his life was hanging by a thread and the lives of other soldiers were being cut off one by one. And you went through all this with him, and also through much more.
You don't answer. With a smooth movement, you put your hand on his chest. Take some of his pain upon yourself, not let him die — that's your aim. But his pain is too much. Pinching, pulling, aching, cutting, sharp. There’s so much pain in him.
"You like the pain."
You claim. He raising his eyebrows. This is complete nonsense. How can someone, and especially him, a man who tries to solve everything with his sharp mind, and not with his fists, like something like that?
"You like it because you believe you deserve it."
He was about to object, but suddenly he realizes that he will only lie not just to you, but also to himself. He accumulates pain inside himself, like he used to save coins in a piggy bank when he was a kid.
“But you are not. No one deserves to feel the pain you carry inside you, Thomas. You need to try to let it go."
With one hand you take his palm in yours and squeeze it lightly, and with the other you wrap your palm around his cheek, gently stroking it with your thumb. Your touch is cold, but he clings to them, like a drowning man, seeing a life ring. But what is it..? His eyes fill with tears. Does she knows how he feels? Knows what lies behind his impenetrable mask?
Looking at the root of problem you feel that, as in childhood, in the case of a piggy bank and small savings, he wasn't ready to part with his pain. Not yet.
"Take your time, my dearest. Until then, I will protect you as I always have."
She was his guardian angel. And he was Thomas Shelby. The man who was loved by Death itself.
could make NSFW Headcanons | Gojo Satotu please (or if you already did, I couldn't find it)
NSFW Headcanons | Gojo Satoru
Characters: Thot boy Gojo x F!Reader
Filters: Notsfw, Adelssmut
This man is an expert kisser. He always knows just the right pressure to use for the moment.
He can place soft, airy kisses on your forehead one second then be leaving hickeys on your thighs the next.
He’s never too wet or dry either, which means he isn’t usually one for sloppy kisses. He can be rough and passionate, but he isn’t the type to suck your face and have his tongue halfway down your throat like he’s an alien trying to jump into your skin.
He lays kisses on you when you’re mad at him. You can be mid-rant, and he’ll suddenly have his lips on yours to drown out your complaints. “Satoru-“ Kiss. “I swear” Kiss. “That’s no-not gonna-” cue moaning.
➺ His Dick
One word: long. Like reaching all the way back and pounding your cervix with his cock no matter what position long. His head is a little bigger and rounder so it’s not as targeted feeling, which eases up on the pain some.
His girth is pretty normal as he’s mostly just long; but after a few rounds, he knows exactly how to position and angle himself to hit just about any spot with you.
He’s mostly smooth too, with about two veins running on opposite sides, one running about halfway down.
Overall, sex with Gojo will almost get you there even on penetration alone, but that’s not to say he won’t work you up beforehand. He’s not hypersensitive either, so his erections last a pretty long time, which is excellent when you can ride him for minutes on end but awful when he’s thrusting into your mouth because your knees start to hurt and your mouth gets sore. Since this man’s a menace, he’ll only tease you about being unable to keep up with him as you whimper.
At the end of the day, Satoru doesn’t really care which role he’s in as long as the sex is really good, but he’s highly biased towards being the dom. So, I’d say he’s probably 50% dom, 30% power bottom, 20% sub.
And by sub, I mean he’d be sub for a really kinky woman. Like sex dungeon, pushing him onto his back with her heel to his chest while smacking a riding crop in her hand type of woman. Oh, he is a sucker for leather dommy mommies.
The only other he’s subbing is if you completely surprise him and outdo his endurance. You’ll have to ride him through several rounds, overstimulate him to the point of exhaustion to wear him down. Basically, death by snu snu him or you really got to be as eccentric as he is to the point that he's totally curious about what you'll do next and decides to just go along for your ride.
If he’s domming, you better bet that blindfold is going on you ASAP.
(I had a link to an example, but Tumblr really doesn't like it)
His favorites are the ones where he can bend and grab onto you, twisting you around like a pretzel. Ones where he can have full access to thrust into you at maximum speed. Though, he’ll want to try nearly anything he sees online at least once. (I didn’t tell you this, but he gave himself a thigh cramp while he was inside you because he was trying to do Kamasutra gymnastics type shit).
Since he’s tall, he also likes positions where you have to cling to him, like having sex while standing. He’ll even sit you on top of the washing machine and go at it while you’re fucking. (He tried the dryer the first time but it got hot and you ended up with a little burn on your butt ): he teases you about it every time he's thrusting into your from behind even though it’s his fault)
If you’re around his height, he’s going to end up putting you in a mating press or bending you over the arm of a couch.
I said it once, and I’ll say it again: This man is a menace.
He’s down to try nearly anything at least once (don't knock it 'til you try it); if it’s something he hasn’t even heard of, it’s even better! And I mean anything from anal beads to omorashi. He has no problem wrapping his hands around your neck and spitting in your mouth if that’s what it takes to get you off.
He highly focuses on whatever will get his partner off, because he has a reputation to maintain when it comes to bedding women. If you need soft, he can be soft. He can praise and body worship you until the sunrise if need be.
That being said. He does have a few personal favorites.
Satoru is such a tease. He’ll say anything to get under your skin and make you clam up under him. He’s going to bully and degrade you in a soft cooing voice while also roundabout praising himself. “Aw, am I too big for you, baby?” he’s quick to flip it on you as well when you do good. “That’s a good girl. I knew you could take it.”
Everyone knows Gojo loves women especially ones with nice asses. But he is extremely weak for a mouthy Tsundere. He loves cracking them and making them shy up. It’s all about the chase, edging you until you’re a crying mess on his cock, because he loves to prove wrong anyone who thinks they can resist the Satoru Gojo.
Ah-hahaha, oh, you're serious
I guess I don’t see him as using toys that often unless it’s to secretly tease you in public like having a mini vibe inside you during the day. He much prefers to do things himself and get his own hands dirty.
➺ Pet Names
Most of his pet names are given to tease you. Sweetcheeks, babycakes, anything that could possibly make you flustered. He also has a nasty habit of sticking “my” in front of things to claim you. My little darling, my cute slut, my girl.
He doesn't really care about what you call him as long as it isn't too degrading, but he does find cutesy nicknames pretty amusing like "honey badger" or "cutie pie".
deancas fic rec list!
hello everyone! happy christmas to those who celebrate it, my gift to you is my fic rec list that i said i would make like a month ago. the only thing it is organized by is canonverse vs alternate universe. tried to cover a variety of subjects but there are in particular many fics of the genre “postcanon where cas is human and he and dean live together and slowly finally get their shit together” because i know what i’m about, son. HOPE U ENJOY. and if you wanna talk about any of them or rec me other fics please do. :)
where the weeds take root by deathbanjo, 30k, explicit
“Are you happy? Y’know. Just—being here,” Dean says, gesturing to the yard with his beer bottle. “Being with—I mean, you used to fight in celestial wars and—and save the world. Now you’re growing vegetables and talking about chickens.”
There are many fics set in a post-canon universe where Cas is human and he and Dean live together and slowly fall into a relationship. Imo this one is the best of the best of that genre. This was one of the first fics I read back in July when I was getting Back Into Supernatural where I was like oh fuck I’m like in this. Dean builds Cas planters and bookshelves and a chicken coop and they fight and work through it.
Cuckoo And Nest by komodobits, 10k, explicit
For a long time, Castiel thought that every earthly possession other than the immediately necessary was excess to requirement. But Dean – Dean who named his car, who keeps a photograph of his mother in his wallet, some thirty-plus years after her death, who still has the crumpled ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign with a sleeping pelican emblazoned on it from the Microtel outside of Roanoke where he first kissed Castiel, clumsy and unsure, under the unsteady fluorescence of an exhausted bathroom bulb – is sentimental. It puzzles Castiel, where Dean draws the line between what is meaningful and what it is worthless.
Really Gets the dynamic of Cas doesn’t think Dean wants him to stay/Dean thinks Cas will leave the first chance he gets. Also a nice example of Cas thinking he’s not wanted if he’s not useful/powerful and being told otherwise. Another all-time fave!
lonely hearts by outphastthemoat, 4.5k, gen
He thinks he might give up having his own anything just to be able to step foot inside the room next door and sit on the edge of Dean’s bed instead.
This one is for the CAS GIRLS who know what LONELINESS feels like.
Helionneiros by aeli_kindara, 24.2k, mature
In which Dean visits his mother, and Claire takes Cas on a hunt.
I’m always on the lookout for more fic with Claire and Jack. Jack doesn’t show up until the end here but the relationship between Cas and Claire is really nice.
Crawl by aeriallon, 11k, explicit
It’s been almost four years since Castiel left Kansas; he'd eventually settled in an island town where he has a job, a house, and a life without the Winchesters. Every winter, Dean drives down to the coast to see him.
Another fic where Cas is human but in this one he took some time for himself and got some distance from the Winchesters! He gets to be competent and weird as a human and we love that for him. I must warn you all that this fic contains one use of the phrase “making love” which would normally put me right off but it’s still worth reading. The first of a three-part series.
home where you hold me by microcomets, 1.6k, gen
Cas and Dean, in the moments between their battles, ache for quiet spaces.
Technically this is a coda to 10x20 but you don’t need the episode for context. Short and very sweet.
Build a Home by domesticadventures, 20.1k, teen
After they save the world, Dean expects Cas to come back to the bunker with them. He doesn’t.
This one is so cute it’s like what if once they were done saving the world Sam and Dean actually invited other hunters to move into the bunker with them. Obviously Dean wants that to include Cas but doesn’t know how to use his words.
the taste of gravel in the mouth by deathbanjo, 22.4k, explicit
This is what Cas gave up Heaven for: greasy diner food, shitty motel rooms with even shittier cable, long car rides spent in complete silence except for the same six tapes playing over and over again, and a burnt-out husk of a man who can barely hold a conversation anymore.
Angst fic! They go on a road trip and Dean is severely fucked up post-Mark of Cain.
Unknown Quantities by xylodemon, 8.6k, explicit
No one ever tells Dean anything.
Another nice getting-together fic.
Creature of Habit by trinityofone, 5.2k, teen
The more you love someone, the more you want to kill them. Or: How Cas developed some bad habits, and Dean coped surprisingly well.
This one is ancient by destiel standards (written during season 5) but it manages to nail the married couple vibes they give off in later seasons. Cas is a bitch and Dean likes him so much. <3
The (Mostly Accidental) Courtship of Dean Winchester by Tuesday, 11.2k, mature
Angelic marriage rites were never intended to go quite like this.
Another old one that is a lot of fun! They get Accidental Angel Married and if you don’t enjoy dumb fanfiction tropes like that I don’t know what to say to you.
Vena Amoris and Other Old-Fashioned Bullshit by pyrebi, 4k, teen
In which angelic marriage bonds are apparently stupidly easy to trigger, Cas wages multidimensional war in Heaven, Dean can't catch a break like ever, Sam rather enjoys being a dick, love saves the day, and nobody consummates anything.
The OTHER accidental angel marriage fic written in 2010.
Crazy Diamonds by pantheon_of_discord, 24.8k, explicit
A week ago, Dean was pulled out of Hell. Now, he’s apparently woken up in 2018, and the angel that a mere twenty-four hours beforehand had threatened to chuck him back into the pit is sleepily pouring himself coffee and wearing Dean’s second-favourite Zeppelin shirt. It all seems like a perfect happy ending, but with Hell’s scars still so fresh, Dean can’t imagine how he could have possibly gotten there. At the same time, the Dean who went to sleep in the bunker, right next to Cas, wakes up on Bobby’s couch in 2008. He’s instantly bombarded with questions by a Lilith-obsessed brother and a man who’s been dead for years, and must decide between keeping his finally-perfect life intact, and the lives he could save by re-writing history. Regardless of these choices, both Deans are trapped in the wrong decade, and their only way back lies with a Castiel still very much under Heaven’s thumb – one who might find the future Dean describes difficult to believe.
Time travel is FUN. There’s an excellent part where (minor spoilers) future!Dean is like, “Guess what, asshole? You like me so much you marry me!!!!!!!!!!!” to 2008!Castiel that made me laugh out loud the first time I read it. Also just a good reminder of how most problems in life are temporary and if you could go back in time to talk to your younger self you’d be like, “Hey man. Chill out. You get through it.”
The Path of Fireflies by museaway, 63.7k, mature
After his humanity is restored, Dean wakes up in bed with Castiel, a wedding ring, and no memory of the past twelve years.
There’s a lot of amnesia fic and djinn fic out there were Dean wakes up ~suddenly together with Cas~ but I like this one in particular because he’s initially very confused and kind of a dick about it until he acknowledges that being with Cas makes him happy.
take the long way home by dothraki_shieldmaiden, 95k, explicit
Three months ago, when Dean decided to retire, he thought his life was going to end up differently. He'd thought that he might get to have it all, Sam, Cas, Jack, and nice little place to live. Instead he gets Sam and Jack off on their Summer of Love Tour, radio silence from Cas, and a never-ending road trip consisting of himself. Still reeling from the loss of his grace, Castiel travels the country in search of hunts. Driven by a need to prove his usefulness, he pushes himself beyond all limits of endurance. Together, with the help of a few friends, a crumbling Victorian house, and a stray cat, Dean and Castiel patch themselves back together and create a home together.
Do you wanna read almost one hundred thousand words of Dean and Cas having extremely intense feelings but refusing to voice them aloud? Haha of course you do that’s why you’re here. There’s also a lot about Cas adjusting to being human and being depressed about it which might resonate if you’ve ever felt weird about having a body. To be honest the author could stand to use a few more commas but there were also half a dozen moments that made me put my phone down and drag my hand slowly over my face and whisper “oh my god” to myself which is like, the ultimate measure of a good fanfiction so it gets to be on the list.
like moses and batman and james dean by saltyfeathers, 31.6k, explicit
dean used to turn tricks. over a decade later, he met cas.
Have you seen the fanon (apparently pioneered by Mr. Jackles “Original Deankin” Ackles himself) that Dean used to prostitute himself to feed himself and Sam when they were younger? Are you interested in exploring that concept in fanfiction? Well, this is the only fic you need. Mind the tags on this one! It’s not what I’d call happy but it’s good.
Some Assembly Required by narrow_staircases, 47k, mature
It’s September of 2005, and Dean Winchester, in an attempt to outrun old mistakes and painful memories, finds himself in southern Kentucky on a wild goose chase. He’s completely certain this weird religious movement he’s “investigating” is a hoax, despite the miraculous healings people report, and he’ll be back on the road in a day or two. Things are looking up when he meets Cas, an awkward (and gorgeous) graduate student who’s actually doing honest-to-god research into the local tent revival meetings. When that research takes a weird and personal turn, Dean’s left to face two very serious realities: one, this may be a real case after all, and two, he’s fallen way harder for Cas than he should ever have let himself.
Stanford-era AU of Dean trying to avoid his father and getting in over his head on a case.
And This, Your Living Kiss by opal_bullets, 57k, mature
Only a very few people in the world know that the celebrated and reclusive poet Jack Allen is just Kansas mechanic Dean Winchester, a high school dropout with a few bucks to his name. Not that it matters anymore; life has left him so wrung out he never wants to pick up another pen. Until, that is, a string of coincidences leads Dean to auditing a poetry course with one Dr. Castiel Novak. The professor is wildly intelligent, devastatingly handsome...and just so happens to be academia's foremost expert on the poetry of Jack Allen.
Mundane AUs in this fandom have to be really, really good to catch my attention and this one is! It’s exactly what it says in the summary and the characterization is spot-on.
Out to Drift by deathbanjo, 20.9k, mature
Dean drives a black car with a loud engine. He lies too easily. He keeps a gun in the back of his jeans, and Castiel isn’t sure, but he wouldn’t be surprised if Dean has killed someone before.
Two people in fucked-up unstable situations meeting and forming a connection. Honestly guys I really just love deathbanjo.
Hey I was wondering if you knew the article that Justine spoke about suzi in?!
It was in The Guardian in 2000. Here you go:
In the mid 90s, Justine Frischmann and Damon Albarn were the First Couple of Britpop. Then he used a Blur album to rake over their break-up, while she languished in obscurity amid rumours of heroin addiction. Now she's back with a new album, and it's her turn to exorcise her demons.
Friday March 24, 2000
As Alison Moyet once said, it's hard to write a decent song when you're happy. Rock bands thrive on romantic turmoil in their private lives, without which they would be reduced to padding out lyrics with football scores and the weather.
Thus it was for Blur's Damon Albarn in mid-1998 when he sat down to write what would become the 13 album. His eight-year relationship with Justine Frischmann of the chart-topping Elastica, whom he once described as **"the only person who's ever been completely necessary to me" **had just ended, at her instigation. Pained and humiliated, he decided to exact revenge by exposing their most intimate details to public scrutiny.
The outcome? Embarrassment for Frischmann, a number one album for Blur and a bit of a result for Albarn.
Break-up albums are by definition both embittered and yearning - in the case of Marvin Gaye's vindictive Here, My Dear, they're just plain nasty - but 13 got more up-close and personal than could be considered gentlemanly. Albarn portrayed his former partner as neurotic, even slipping apparent drug references into the single Tender: "Tender is the ghost, the ghost I love the most/Hiding from the sun, waiting for the night to come". Frischmann was the ghost, supposedly, who was on the verge of being consumed by what one music paper euphemistically called "the darkness at the heart of Elastica".
Frischmann's response can be found on a song called The Way I Like It, which appears on Elastica's first album in five years, The Menace (out next month): "Well, I'm living all right and I'm doing okay/Had a lover who was made of sand, and the wind blew him away".
This is unlikely to be her last word on the subject. As she ambivalently begins her first round of interviews since 1996, she's finding that everyone has the same three questions. Why did Elastica nearly sabotage a promising career by taking so long to follow up their million-selling debut? Had Frischmann taken leave of her senses when she walked out on Mr Britpop? And what about the drug rumours?
"One journalist said to me, 'Dahling, I heard you were on heroin - Mahvelous!' " she says with some amusement. "Drugs are around, but I'm not that interested and never have been, although there have been elements of party animal in my band. The rumours are a lot to do with rock'n'roll mythology, where people want to believe you're having a more exciting time than you are."
The only drugs on her person today, as she perches on the edge of an armchair in her publicist's north London living room, are Marlboro Lights. Her other indulgences are two cups of herbal tea and a Cadbury's Flake cupcake, which she nibbles with well-bred pleasure. Her dark eyes are clear, and her long, tanned body is a testament to the virtues of a daily swim in a pool near her Notting Hill home. Only Elastica know whether they really succumbed to heroin and hedonism after their self-titled debut made them more famous than they'd ever expected to be, but if they did, Frischmann, 30, seems little the worse for it.
Given the current predominance of damnable boy bands, the Britpop mid-90s are beginning to seem like a halcyon period for English music. It was a time when the underground went overground, and a self-described "little punk band" like Elastica could sell 80,000 albums in a week.
More than a few loser guitar groups saw Britpop as a licence to print money, but Elastica, led with cool elan by the androgynous Frischmann, were one of its gems. The Blur connection was a marketing godsend (Frischmann and Albarn met on the London indie circuit, she as guitarist in an early line-up of Suede and girlfriend of frontman Brett Anderson, he as a cherubic baggy hopeful), yet the spiky-haired Elastica LP embodied that euphoric time like nothing else.
Frischmann, guitarist Donna Matthews, drummer Justin Welch and bassist Annie Holland were unprepared for the album soaring to number one in its first week. When they signed their record deal, Frischmann, whose great-grandfather was a conductor of the Tsar's orchestra at the Summer Palace in Byelorussia, was five years into an architecture degree at London University. A liberal north London Jewish upbringing - her engineer father built the Oxford Street landmark Centrepoint - had instilled expectations of success, but the reality of being photographed in the supermarket and having her rubbish stolen was a shock. Fiercely independent, she also resented her unsought role as half of Britpop's First Couple.
There was more. Two of Frischmann's musical heroes, The Stranglers and Wire, decided that two Elastica songs were suspiciously similar to two of their own tracks, and won royalties. Meanwhile, there were malicious rumours that Albarn had done much of the work on the record. He hadn't, but he did find Justine's success in America, where she was substantially out-selling Blur, hard to endure.
"It was very hard for him to deal with and he's very confrontational," she says, with the flattering openness of someone who prefers interviews to be more like conversations. She admits she often says too much, but in an era of image control and spin, her honesty makes her a one-off. Not that she's likely to land herself in it too badly - she possesses the intellectual ammunition to look after herself, which must have been instrumental in attracting two of rock's more articulate stars, Albarn and Anderson.
She's been accused of being a professional rock girlfriend, though it was probably they who were lucky to get her. She spent the cab ride over reading the Sylvia Plath letters in Monday's Guardian, and muses on the irony of the poet's subjugating herself to Ted Hughes when she was the more gifted. (Her new boyfriend, by the way, is an unknown photographer, "though that'll probably change, because men seem to get famous when I go out with them".)
"I reacted the way a lot of women do, by being passive," she continues. "He put a lot of pressure on me to give up Elastica. He said, 'You don't want to be in a band, you want to settle down and have kids.' " In so many words? "In so many words. He kept putting on pressure till I started to believe him." She adds bemusedly: "I've met his new girlfriend, and one of the first things she said was that he wanted her to give up travelling with her work to stay home with the baby [Missy, born last autumn]. I'm surprised he's got away with being thought of as a nice person for so long."
After 18 months, during which they did seven American and three Japanese tours, Elastica came off the road to record company demands for an immediate second album. Annie Holland's response was to quit the group, while Donna Matthews became renowned for hard partying on the nocturnal west London scene. They lethargically recorded some demos, but their heart wasn't in it. By 1997, when a second album should have been ready to go, Frischmann and Matthews were barely speaking, and there was nothing useable down on tape.
Holland's replacement, Sheila Chipperfield (of the circus Chipperfields), was deemed not good enough and left by mutual consent. By 1998, their continued lack of productivity was being likened to the Stone Roses' lengthy and ultimately self-destructive holiday between their first and second LPs.
"I didn't think Elastica were going to continue at that point, and we did kinda split up," she says, absently stroking her publicist's cat. Frischmann is a cat person; she's owned a tabby called Benjamin since she was 10. "Unconditional love," she coos. The pet's place in her life is so assured that prospective boyfriends are subjected to his feline scrutiny before she'll go out with them.
On top of everything else, in early 1998 her relationship with Albarn was in trouble. Frischmann retains enough of the indie ethic to detest the phenomenon of celebrity couples, and was dismayed when they became one. "I really hated the tabloid interest, and I went out of my way not to be photographed with him. Only about three pictures of us together exist, I think. In many ways, I think the media interest broke us up, because it made me feel the relationship was quite ugly, and I had to get away from it. There were other factors, too, obviously, because we were together for eight years, and I finally felt it was better the devil you didn't know, really."
Albarn's ego seems to have been severely undermined by having a girlfriend who was nearly as successful as he was, and something of a sex symbol to boot. Despite adopting a resolutely boyish T-shirt-and-jeans uniform, she's thoroughly feminine, a mix that got her voted fifth most fanciable woman in a lesbian magazine.
"I'm completely heterosexual, so I didn't know how to take that. It scares the shit out of me, the idea of being with a girl. I'm glad I've narrowed it down to half the people in the world."
She seems to view Albarn with indulgent exasperation these days, simultaneously praising his intelligence ("The Gallaghers just couldn't compete") and ticking off his flaws. "Damon adores being in the press, and sees all press as good press. He orchestrated that rivalry thing with Oasis. He really wanted kids, and I didn't feel our relationship was stable enough. He was a naughty boy, and he wasn't the right person to have kids with. I had this cathartic moment..."
At which point they split up. Albarn wrote 13 and then met Suzi Winstanley, an artist. "She was pregnant within three months," Justine observes wickedly.
Of the acclaimed 13, she's tactful, describing several songs as "really lovely". She studies her cigarette for a while before adding, "but I'm cynical about selling a record on the back of our relationship". But you're doing the same now. "It's true, but at the time I had no right of reply."
Elastica finally pulled themselves together last year, just as the music industry was about to write them off (their American label had already "very kindly let us go", as she puts it). Holland rejoined, Matthews went to Wales to sort out her life and the band banged out an EP and played the Reading Festival. Things came together quickly after that. They spent the last £10,000 of the recording budget on re-recording a dozen tracks, finishing the album, after years of procrastinating, in six weeks. They've called it The Menace "because that's what it was like to make".
It's dark and resolutely uncommercial - all wrong for 2000's pop-oriented climate. It's unlikely to match the success of the first one, which is fine with them. Call it (though Justine doesn't) their White Album. Its 70s punk aesthetic brings to mind angry girls such as the Slits and the Au Pairs, although the defining mood isn't anger so much as catharsis. None of the songs is specifically about Albarn, she claims. "The dark feeling is due to the sense of isolation, tasting success and getting frightened by it. I was questioning whether I wanted to be in a band any more, and there was no one I could ask for advice. Getting success and everything you ever dreamed about is hard to handle, and makes you question everything."
She's better prepared for success, if it comes again, this time. Already the privacy-preserving barriers are in place. The next interview of the day is with Time Out magazine, which wants a list of her favourite restaurants. "I'm not telling them where I eat," she says reflexively. "I'm gonna lie."
Moment In Time
Pairing: Natasha Romanoff x Reader
Summary: Just when you've gotten out, you’re given a reason to come back.
Warnings: Mild Language
* * * * * * *
There’s a small, skin toned bump under her eye. Another small, almost unnoticeable mark just above her lip.
Her eyes crinkle in the corners when she laughs and her cheeks pull up into perfect plum shapes.
Though the skin on her hands is soft and smooth, her palms are calloused a little. It leaves you wondering if it’s from all the times she’s held the cold metal of a gun in her hand, or wielded a knife that’s handle was too rough against her skin.
Still you notice, despite the initial roughness you pick up on when you see the scars on her skin or feel the callouses on her hands, that she’s utterly breathtaking.
Your favorite sight of her being when she smiles.
“Are you even paying attention to me?”
Refocusing on the words she’s saying instead of her looks, you raise your eyebrows.“ I’m sorry, I just-” you shake your head, glancing down at your cup of tea.“ I can’t get over how gorgeous you are.” You look back up, raising the cup to your lips and sipping.
Her mouth opens, ready for a reply, but closes immediately as she realizes she doesn’t have one. Unusually, she isn’t sure what to say.
Unlike every other person who’d complimented her, yours was truly genuine. You meant it when you said it and expected nothing from her in return.
She reaches across the table and takes your hand, squeezing it gently as a blush rises on here cheeks.“ Thank you.”
You smile sweetly at her, then lean forward a little, elbows and forearms pressing against the table.“ Okay I’m listening again, what’s up?”
“I don’t want the team to know.” She quickly says, eyes dropping from yours, a worried look on her face.“ About, whatever we are. I’m not embarrassed or-”
The way her smile drops instantly makes you frown. She rambles on and on, trying to explain her words to you.
Shaking your head, you reach forward and lift her head to meet her eyes.“ Nat, I appreciate it but I don’t need an explanation. Really, I want you to be completely comfortable with whatever this is.” She smiles at your words, her shoulders visibly sagging afterwards. Only for her body to tense as you utter a low ‘but’.
Brows furrowing, the redhead leans forward, her hand gripping yours.“ But what?”
“Does keeping things under wraps mean I can’t take you out on a date?” This time you smile brightly at her.
Natasha rolls her eyes, shoulders once again dropping as the corner of her lips tug up. Slowly, those green eyes look up into yours, a growingly familiar look in her eyes.“ That has nothing to do with keeping things secret and everything to do with where and when.”
Chuckling softly, you run your thumb along the back of her hand, keeping your gaze on her eyes.“ I’d like to take you to dinner Romanoff. It’s nothing fancy but retired SHIELD agents don’t get paid all that well.”
“Dinner sounds lovely.” She says, her smile maintained. Her lips part as she goes to say something else but her phone cuts her off. Glancing down at it for a moment then back up at you.“ A lot lovelier than training Pietro with Sam and Steve.”
“Oh Bird Boy got promoted to training people huh?” You joke, eliciting a laugh from her like you hoped it would.“ Well, I want to check in with Wanda anyway so I can take you to the compound.”
She playfully smirks, standing up as you do,“ got a sweet ride you’re gonna let me in?”
Rolling your eyes, you drop the money for your drinks and muffins on the table along with a tip. You then walk with her out of the cafe.
The two of you walk over to your car and you open the door for Natasha. She lowers herself into the passenger seat of the classic mustang you’d come here in, and you shut the door after her. Going around, you get into the driver's seat after the cars pass.
You can’t help but find it adorable how Natasha waits for you to put your seatbelt on and pull off before she reaches across the console to grab your hand.
She raises your hand and presses a soft kiss on the back of it, squeezing gently as she relaxes in her seat and looks out the window. A look of contentment washes over her face and you can’t help but be a little proud that you seem to be the cause of it, or have been for the last few days.
Your first kiss had taken place around a week or two ago. Over that course of time you’d shared more kisses than you were able to keep track of.
It seems as though that moment opened the floodgates to all the physical touch you and Natasha had been starving for. Along with every kiss came a number of touches. Nothing had gone beyond PG-13 and you were more than okay with that.
You were completely happy with the way Natasha would drape herself over your lap like it was nothing in the comfort of your apartment. The light ghosting of her fingers against your neck before they curl into the hairs at your nape. Or the shiver that runs down your body when her fingers brush across your leg. And of course, how her fingers would lace with yours when she nonchalantly grabs your hand.
Her affection warms your heart in the purest and most perfect way possible. Especially having known how she felt, and partly still feels, about that.
While she hadn’t gone into great detail about her past she told you enough plus what you already knew about the Black Widow and Red Room organization. You knew of the horrible things that happened to the young girls in the Red Room and had had more than one encounter with the women who trained there.
Knowing that and what she told you, shined an even brighter light on Natasha in your eyes. She’s strong, there’s no way you could ever say otherwise, but you severely underestimated how strong. Everything she’s been through that you’re aware of required the utmost of endurance and strength.
“Stop looking at me like that Y/ln. Your eyes need to stay on the road.” She says, voice slightly teasing.
Yeah, you’d subconsciously been looking over at the woman but you can’t really blame yourself. She’s beautiful in every conceivable way.
“Oh forgive me. My eyes are just attracted to a particularly beautiful redhead.” You say, a small smile thrown her way afterwards.
Her eyes roll, an action you notice she does a lot when receiving genuine compliments, and a snort falls from her lips as she chuckles. You aren’t sure how others would react to that but you kind of love it. Especially since it’s always followed by a blush.
The drive upstate continues with you being slightly less distracted by Natasha and her clicking through the radio stations. Which you find amusing since her musical tastes vary greatly.
Funnily enough, she can’t seem to find a station before you get to the compound. Right when she does though, you’re pulling up to the door.
An adorable pout forms on her face and her sad eyes look from the compound, to the radio, then to you. The radio host gets quieter and the song gets louder, the intro playing through. You know what she wants.
Sighing softly, you shake your head and shift gears. A look over at Natasha reveals her pleased face, as well as the image of Steve at the compound windows. His brows furrow as you pull off.
Quickly looking away from him, your eyes focus on the road. You don’t stay gone long, the song only lasts four minutes, enough time for you to head a little ways down the road from the compound security gate before it goes off.
The next song that plays isn’t Nat’s cup of tea so you turn around and head back. The agent at the gate gives you a slightly annoyed and curious look when you come back for the second time but you can’t say you care, not when your little drive put that smile on Nat’s face.
“You two here to stay this time?” Steve asks, arms crossing over his chest as blue eyes shift from you to Natasha.
Locking your doors, you pocket your keys and smile at him.“ Not sure Stevie, might steal her away in the middle of your training session and go for another drive.” You tease, cocking your eyebrow at him.
“Y/ln-” His voice is a warning that makes you want to laugh.
“Can’t say I’d be opposed to that.” Natasha says with a small smile, walking past Steve no doubt in route to one of the training rooms, she glances back at you with a small wink before she disappears around the corner.
It takes a bit of effort to fight a smile, but you manage. Then averting your eyes to Steve’s blue ones.“ Don’t worry, I won’t steal your partner. I hear Speedy is a handful.”
“Thank you.” His shoulders drop as he sighs softly. You can’t stop yourself from laughing at his response.
You both turn to head down the hallway.“ He can’t be that bad.” You say, almost as if challenging his reaction.
Steve gives you a look.“ He’s a good kid but a pain in the ass. And stubborn.” Shaking his head, he looks over again to see Pietro’s blue blur shoot by and disappear through the doors.“ Doesn’t listen for the most part.”
“I believe that.” You have to admit,“ Wanda was pretty stubborn when we started. Still is sometimes.” You shake your head and stop at the end of the hall.“ Her powers are incredible so she doesn’t believe she needs hand to hand combat.”
He nods along, sucking his teeth and sighing.“ They’re kids. We keep teaching them and eventually they’ll get it.”
“Yeah. They’ll get it. Gotta have patience.” With that said, you leave a final pat on Steve’s shoulder before you turn away and go in search of Wanda.
Surprisingly it’s pretty quiet. You assume Tony is out or down in the lab tinkering. With everyone else in the training room, you head to Wanda’s room, knowing it’s likely that’s where she is.
Once you’re there you raise your hand and knock, calling out,“ room service.” When her door swings open, you smile at her, matching the one on her face.“ Good afternoon little witch. How are you?”
“Hi,” she greets back, leaving the door open as she goes to pull a sweater on.“ I’m good, how're you?”
“Just dandy,” she laughs a little and steps out.“ Figured I’d stop by and see how you're settling in. If my guidance is working or if you’re just keeping an old gal like me entertained.”
“Oh please. You act younger than me sometimes.”
Your jaw drops, eyebrows pinching together.“ I do not. I’m a mature adult.”
The two of you make it to the common room, detouring to the kitchen. Wanda quirks an eyebrow at you as you sit at the island, the younger woman moving around to fix a cup of tea.
“Sure you are.” She drags the first word out sarcastically and you roll your eyes.“ You’ve got your childish moments Y/n.”
A disagreement is on the tip of your tongue, until you realize she’s right. Natasha tells you quite often how childish you can be, usually after you’d just thrown a pillow at her or shot the wrapper of a straw at her from across the island.
“Okay I’m a little childish sometimes.” You admit in defeat.
Wanda chuckles and nods.
The two of you chat as she finishes making her tea and once she’s done you move to the common room. Falling onto the couch, you flick through tv stations and continue to talk.
You’re more than happy to hear that she was no longer on the “I hate Tony Stark” train. She admits that there’s still strong dislike, but both she and Pietro had been learning more about Tony, seeing him for the man he truly is and not what the media portray.
With the young woman becoming a closer friend the more time goes on you feel better knowing she doesn’t hate the man who is family to you.
“Ooo I love this show.” She stops her statement to say, stopping on a sitcom about a family.
You quirk a brow,“ Malcolm in the Middle?” You ask and she nods.
That provokes the woman to explain why she loves the show.
Starting off, you listened to every word, adding words of agreement and a show that you’re attentive. Until Natasha comes in.
Attention instantly divided.
Eyes drawn to the way her eyes land on you the second she steps in, then down to the purposeful swish of her hips. She smirks, cocky that she so easily grabbed your attention, then turns into the kitchen with Steve and Sam.
Your heart, that started beating a little faster when she smirked, doesn’t calm down. Even after she’s no longer in sight. Instead it picks up a little more at the thought that pops up in your head, lingering front and center.
“Well if you love her so much you should tell her.”
Eyes wide, your head snaps over to Wanda. She gives you a nonchalant expression in return, only to quickly realize that you didn’t say that out loud.
“Oh. Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,” the young woman sits up, eyes suddenly pleading.“ I wasn’t trying to but it was so loud I- I thought you actually said it.”
With a shake of your head, you chuckle. It’s a light, almost unbelieving sound.“ It’s fine Wan. Truly.” You gently pat her knee. A moment of silence passes.“ Was it really that loud?” You ask.
“Very.” Wanda says, laughing a little.“ Did you mean it in the way it sounded?” Her voice holds curiosity, making you look over at her.
“I-” Words cut short by a loud melodic laugh. Your gaze once again finds Natasha as you follow the sound. She leaves the kitchen, smiling at something Sam said.“ Yeah. I meant it. In that way.”
Yes, you love Natasha.
Admitting it makes it feel like it was obvious as hell. Everything you’d been feeling points to it. From the way her smile sent butterflies rumbling in your stomach to the way her touch seemed to light you on fire.
You won’t lie and say you aren’t scared by that. The two of you have just started exploring this aspect of your relationship and you’ve already started falling for her. And you already love her.
The surprise isn’t that you love her, with how strongly you’d felt about her already and the progression of things, you knew you were bound to fall for her. The surprise is that it happened so fast.
Part of you is worried, fearing that this revelation so soon could mess things up for you. However the other part of you, the bigger part, is telling you to just relax. Whatever is supposed to happen will happen. Natasha likes you and that’s more than enough.
* * * * * * *
Taglist: @owloftheshadows @natasha-danvers @blackxwidowsxwife @yumusak-yastik @b-5by5 @fayhar @lostandsearching @iliketozoneout @ecruzsalaz
One day, some day
Summary : How much heart ache and pain can one person endure and if so how? Loving someone never hurt this bad.
Warnings! : Story contains mentioning of stillbirth and stillborn child. Read with caution! If this topic makes you uncomfortable or triggers you in any way, then I suggest you not to continue reading this. Please be aware of the warning given.
Word count : 1,966
Chris is taken back, puzzled even when he sees you at his niece's soccer game. Your back is turned facing him but there's no way that he could ever mistake you for someone else. He knows you.
You're talking to his sister Carly whilst laughing and joking around. The two of you seem oblivious to his presence. Before Chris can greet his sister, she runs off towards a cry that is heard across the field. One of the other girls has tackled Stella. Your face shines with concern as you watch your former 'sister in law' comfort her child.
There's a brief moment where you don't know whether or not to go for the hug or the awkward handshake. You go for the halfway-sided hug. Your heart clenches as he lets go of you. Your scent fills his nostrils. That sweet smell of home that now no longer was his home.
"Not to sound rude but what are you doing here?"
"Oh, well Carly invited me to come and see Miss Ronaldo over there. You know how much I loved coming to these sorts of things. "
"Ohh... That's nice."
Chris was a bit surprised to say the least.
"I didn't know that you two still hung out"
"Well, she texts me whenever I'm in town ish. It's nice."
As you stand watching the girls running around the field, you both share a laugh when Carly the Soccer mom-Evans hops around screaming in joy when her daughter scores a goal. Chris follows quickly yelling out his cheer for the sweetheart on the field.
"Yeah, that she is."
There’s a comfortable silence between the two of you as you watch the game.
Your eyes dart over to a mom on the sideline with a stroller. On her body was a tiny human strapped tightly in a wrap. You would make out the tiny little head. Once again, your heart clenches uncomfortably in your chest. It’s almost too much.
Chris' eyes follow yours watching the mom on the sideline. Chris wants nothing more than to reach out for you and hold you. How he wishes that you suddenly would scream at him 'hold me, love me' alas you don’t. You haven’t for years. The two of you share a common thought at that exact same moment.
Your eyes are still focused on the baby.
'That could've been us.’
Chris' eyes darted to yours.
‘That should've been us.’
A loud voice break you both out of your thoughts.
"Aunt Y/N, Aunt Y/N! Did you see me? I made my first ever goal!"
Stella barely waits for you to prepare yourself before she launches herself into your somehow waiting arms. You manage to hoist the girl up in your arms beaming down at her.
"Of course, I saw! You were amazing, sweetie. You're going to do well."
Stella giggles loudly as you tickle her sides before setting her down on the ground. Her hand is still holding onto yours. Chris soaring seeing the interaction between the two. You had always been great with his niece and nephews. It was seeing you with them that convinced him that you would make an amazing mother one day. Some day.
Once Stella notices her uncle, she immediately jumps on him explaining how she trained for the game. Chris grins as she enthusiastically and animatedly tells him everything that has happened during the time he was away.
"Y/N, I hope you're coming back home with us. We're gonna get the grill going. Everyone is back home waiting."
"Sure. I'd love to if it's okay with Chris?"
Before Chris could say anything, Stella interrupts the grown-ups.
"Of course! Uncle Chris talks about you all the time and we all love you so. You can come too and-..."
"That's enough, young lady."
You’re still waiting for Chris’ acceptance and sighs a bit in relief when he softly nods his head to you.
"Okay, great then! We'll see you at home then. And Stella maybe you and I can talk about when it's best to say nothing."
The girl grabbed her mother's hand as they walked off the field.
"Mooom, you've said it too that you think they should get their heads outta their but-..."
"And we're walking this way, little miss."
Chris lets out a small yet nervous chuckle as you get eye contact.
“She still calls you aunt, huh?”
“I guess it kind of stuck...I can’t bring myself to tell her otherwise.”
“It would be a shame.”
You and Chris look at one another for a few moments before he looks around.
"You want to ride with me or did you drive yourself?"
"I got my own wheels but thanks. I'll just meet you there."
Chris nods his head and begins to walk off. Just as he gets into his car, his phone goes off. It's Carly calling him.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Chris, are you still at the school?"
"Yeah, just about to take off."
"Stella thinks she forgot her backpack at the gym hall. Would you please go and grab it? It's a Frozen bag with Anna and Elsa on it."
"Well that narrows it down for sure… Don't all girls have a backpack like that?”
“Okay, sure. I'll get right on it."
The backpack was nowhere to be found. He ends up spending 10-15 minutes searching for that damn bag. Until a woman he had seen earlier at the game, calls him out asking if he were looking for a backpack. Chris sighs in relief. Things would not have gone down that well had he not been able to track down that bag.
On his way back to the car, he walks across the field. Out of the corner of his eye, he spots someone sitting down by the bleachers. When squinting his eyes, he realizes that it’s you. He walks over quietly and sits down next to you.
"I thought you were gonna join us back at Carly's?"
"I am. I just needed to sit down for a while."
Chris let out a small hum as you both watch the skies turning another shade. Some time passes and Chris isn’t even sure how long it’s been since you guys had sat down together like this. Chris' hands feel sweaty and he releases a shaky breath.
"What do you think he would've been like?"
You close your eyes for a moment before a sad smile appears on your face. Tears fall from your eyes now.
"He would've been.... Amazing."
Chris looks down at his hands. They're shaking a little bit. He tries to blink the tears away. Before he can say or do anything, a small hand grips one of his tightly. As if afraid to let go. Chris' heart is pounding in his chest. He looks down at your now intertwined hands. A sob leaves his body as he lets go for once in so long. His teary eyes meet yours.
"Yeah?... You think so?"
"I can't imagine it any differently."
It's like a faucet had been turned on and left running. Chris can't get a hold of himself as he lets go of his feelings. Several sobs echo across the field. Chris hides his face in his and your hands trying to quiet down with no luck. You let him cry. No one knows the pain you feel other than Chris. Only the two of you know what it's like having to say goodbye to your newborn baby boy. Watching that tiny little casket being lowered into the ground.
Time passes as you both sit there on the bleachers finding a somewhat comfort in each other for the first time in a long time. Chris raises up and wipes his face before facing away from you trying to regain some control. As he breathes out heavily, he looks back at you. You take his face in your hands and ever so gentle, you trace his jaw, cheekbones and small wrinkles by his forehead and eyes. You caused some of those frowns.
Several of those frowns began forming when the doctors had rushed off with you fearing that there were some complications regarding the birth of Theodore Y/L/N- Evans. Chris remembers hearing certain words like pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, placental abruption and problems with the placenta. He recalls watching your scared face as they rolled you out of your room as Chris helplessly watched them take off with the two most important people in the world. The world shattered once your doctor came back with the news that Theodore Y/L/N - Evans was stillborn. Chris had never felt such pain in his life when the doctors induced your labor. The nurses and doctors were wonderful to you and Chris. As you'd delivered your baby. Both you and Chris are crying. There was only one cry, you both wanted to hear but never would be able to hear. His. Little baby Theo’s cry.
Chris' breathing has slowed down and he seems more controlled as he feels your soft hands on his face. You still have that effect on him.
“He turns 3 this year...Would have.”
Chris’ breathing is still shaky as you trace the smile wrinkles.
He leans into your touch as you caress his soft cheek. You let out a sad sigh and can only offer an equally sad but soft smile.
"He would've looked just like you. This nose, that's just too much and your cheeks, very squeeze-able... These soft features that would’ve made it hard for anyone to stay mad at him for long."
Chris' lips start quivering as you softly speak while caressing his skin.
"He would've grown up to be a spitting image of his father."
Chris relishes in feeling your hands. Hands, he hasn’t felt in years. The two of you sit like that for a while. Chris’ heart starts to clench as he feels you pulling back knowing what it means.
“I should go… Would you mind talking to Carly for me?”
You raise to stand up with every intention of leaving. However, before you can, you reach down cupping his chin in your hand before you slowly lean in and press a kiss to his lips. Chris kisses you back with all the passion in the world wanting to show you how much he still loved and loves you.
Tears are flowing from both your eyes. As you finally part, you look one last time into those blue eyes.
“I have to go.”
You wipe your tears away as you turn to leave, Chris’ hand stops you when grabbing your wrist. Your eyes fill up with tears as you find the last bit of strength inside you to say one last thing to him.
“I love you.”
Your voice cracks at the end and you blink away the tears.
His own voice unsteady and shaky as he finds the words. Chris lets go of your hand eventually as he watches you walk away from him again. His heart breaking once more but knowing you, he knows your heart is breaking too. He knows that you love him, which makes it all the more painful. He watches you walking across the field arms wrapped tightly around yourself probably trying to withhold yourself from turning back around.
You gasp as you hurriedly walk off. As much as you love him, you can’t stay. Being around him only makes you think of what you have both lost. No matter how much you love him, staying seems impossible for the time being. A glimmer of hope is somewhere in you. Hope that there could still be a time for you and Chris. A hope that maybe… one day. Some day.
If you're still doing prompts... Maybe Geraskier 9 and 21? ;u; I'm a sucker for hurt/comfort.
9. “You really thought I was dead?”
21. “I…I can’t do this without you.”
Geralt is in Temeria when the news first reaches him: Julian Alfred Pankratz, Viscount De Lettenhove, has died.
It happened several months ago - news doesn’t travel south as fast as it used to, now that everyone is fleeing north, away from Nilfgaard. Geralt doesn’t believe it at first, refuses to believe it for even a second, as a matter of fact. After all, Jaskier is young and healthy and perfectly safe in Lettenhove, last Geralt heard, so why would he die so soon, so unexpected?
But, he figures as he travels north, towards Lettenhove, it’s been ages since he’s last seen Jaskier, since they parted ways on the mountain. Maybe he fell ill, maybe he got hurt someway, somehow. Maybe his death wasn’t as unexpected as Geralt would like to think it was.
The closer he gets to Kerack, the more he learns about Jaskier’s supposed death. And the more he starts to believe it.
Jaskier apparently fell sick several weeks ago - no one’s sure what it was that took him down, even now - and he fought a long and hard battle against his illness, before eventually succumbing to it in the middle of the night. His funeral was held several days later, his body laid on a pyre under a blue and gold shroud, every precaution taken to make sure his illness couldn’t possibly spread to anyone else. His ashes were scattered in the forest behind the Lettenhove estate, a gravestone placed under his favourite tree.
They say that in his final hours, he begged to see an old friend one last time.
The silence weighs heavy on Geralt, now, as he makes his way to the north, to Kerack. More so than even during the first few weeks after the mountain, he misses Jaskier’s voice, the idle strumming of his lute, the constant chatter and too-fast heartbeat following Geralt wherever he goes. Wherever he used to go.
More than ever, he regrets what he said on the mountain. Wishes he could’ve taken it all back before the end, or could’ve at least told Jaskier how much he regrets his words.
He wishes he could’ve told Jaskier how much he loves him.
When he rides into Lettenhove, the town is clad in black, still, even after all these months, and he can tell how much these people loved Jaskier, too. Dozens of eyes follow him as he rides through the strangely quiet streets, towards the estate, whispers rising in the silence, of the Witcher, master Julian’s Witcher is here.
He pays no mind to them. Instead, he keeps his eyes ahead. He leaves Roach behind at the edge of the forest, setting out on foot to find the tree with Jaskier’s headstone.
He finds it soon enough. It’s under an old willow tree, next to a small stream cutting through the tall grass. It’s truly beautiful here, a final resting place fitting for the the bard.
He falls to his knees in front of the large stone, trails his fingers over the letters carved into it, as tears slowly fill his eyes. He can’t help but curl in on himself, the pain in his chest worse than any wound he’s ever endured, every muscle in his body quivering with the effort not to scream out his agony for the entire world to hear.
“Jaskier, I- I...” He doesn’t know why he’s talking, now. Twenty years Jaskier’s spent by his side, and never once has Geralt been able to truly talk to the man, but now that Jaskier’s gone, Geralt suddenly can find the words? He nearly laughs at the bitter irony of it.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers, voice raw, tears unshed at the back of his throat. “I’m sorry for everything. For yelling at you, for abandoning you, for not coming here sooner, for everything I’ve ever done to you. I’m so sorry, Jaskier. I... I can’t do this without you.” His voice breaks on a quiet sob, bitter tears spilling down his face as he clutches his stomach with one hand, the other clenching around the stone.
His eyes fly open, and he turns his head so fast he hears a few neck bones pop. There, behind him, not ten feet away, is Jaskier, alive and well. Geralt nearly slips in the tall grass in his hurry to get up, but in the blink of an eye, he’s holding the bard against his chest, drinking in the familiar scent of lavender and sandalwood like a man dying of thirst.
Jaskier protests softly, hands coming up to tug at Geralt’s arms around him. “Alright, alright.” His voice is muffled by Geralt’s shirt. “Good to see you too, but can you give me some room to breathe?”
With an effort that leaves Geralt’s head spinning, he slowly loosens his grip on the bard, letting him pull back to look at him. “Jaskier,” he whispers.
Jaskier rolls his eyes, a playful smile dancing across his lips as his arms settle around the Witcher. “Geralt,” he whispers back in the same tone. He grins, and the sight leaves Geralt breathless with relief and joy. “Not that I don’t appreciate your enthusiasm and that little speech you gave just now at...” he frowns “my father’s headstone for some reason. But I have to ask. Why?”
Geralt frowns, turning his head to look at the stone. “Your... your father has the same name as you?”
“Yes, he does. Wait- you thought that was me? You really thought I was dead?”
Geralt doesn’t respond, merely burying his nose into the side of Jaskier’s neck, letting lavender and sandalwood calm him down as the bard quietly laughs.
“Sweet Melitele, Geralt, if I’d known you cared enough to cry over my grave, I would’ve...” He’s suddenly quiet, and Geralt can smell the faint heat of embarrassment mixing in with Jaskier’s familiar scent.
He pulls back, frowning at Jaskier, who’s now blushing a bit. “You would’ve what?”
Jaskier swallows thickly, blue eyes searching Geralt’s face intently, as if he’s looking for something. “I would’ve kissed you sooner.”
Geralt blinks, not sure how to respond. But, he figures, sometimes the best response is no response at all. He pulls Jaskier closer, crashing their lips together unelegantly, and the bard lets out a surprised sound, before melting into the kiss.
Eventually, Geralt pulls away, gasping in lungfuls of sweet summer air, his head filled with lavender and sandalwood and bright blue eyes. The last golden rays of sunlight illuminate Jaskier, casting a halo around his head, the first chill of autumn creeping into the air.
“Come to Kaer Morhen with me this winter,” he says before he can think twice about it. “Please.”
Jaskier huffs out an incredulous laugh. “Gods, I’d thought you’d never ask, Geralt.”
He frowns. “So... is that a yes?”
Jaskier laughs, bright and crisp and sweet, the sound of it washing over Geralt like a gentle breeze. “Yes! Of course that’s a yes, you absolute idiot.” He pulls Geralt closer, and Geralt lets himself be held, the weight of the last few weeks falling off his shoulders, finally, Jaskier alive and well in his arms.
Pairing- Bucky Barnes x F! Reader
Warnings- slight mentions of pain (not descriptive). Really just more fluff before things start to get a little more exciting next chapter
Word count- 2084
Summary- Bucky and Sam are working together with S.H.I.E.L.D. to help make the world a better place. One night they discover a woman with abilities and a history with Hydra.
Note- The events of this story happen post Endgame. POV of story will switch between Bucky and reader and is noted at the start of each chapter. This will be at least a 20 part series.
A/N- Bucky starts to give in to his feelings towards Y/N while they all prepare for a mission.
❤️ Let me know if you’d like to be added to the tag list. ❤️
Part 7 Part 9
Part 8- Bucky POV
After a week away on what ended up being an uneventful mission, Bucky was very happy to be returning home. The team spent eight days scouring a remote area of Bangladesh in hopes of breaking up a potential Hydra related operation. Unfortunately, their intel turned out to be wrong and they only found empty warehouses and dead end leads.
Impatiently, he sat at the back of the quinjet for the ride home and couldn’t get Y/N out of his mind. When the team arrived back at HQ late Monday night, he blew past the rest of the people disembarking and started for the exit of the building until Sam called him back for their meeting. He stayed for the initial debriefing then Bucky fled the hanger and went directly to the gym in hopes of catching Y/N before she went to bed.
Inside the gym, he made his way through the various workout equipment towards the treadmills, but found them completely empty. Cursing under his breath as he stood there, he suddenly heard someone in the open area where they usually trained. Bucky peeked around from behind a pillar and saw her there.
Y/N had her back to him, but he watched as she threw jab after jab and bounced on her feet in a fluid and powerful form. Bucky smiled to himself admiring her newfound ability that he had helped shape. After a moment of him watching, she suddenly stopped her attack on the bag to turn around and look in his direction before she grinned. “You going to tell me that I need to hold my left hand higher or are you just gonna stand there like a creeper?” She called loudly as he was still a fair distance away.
Grinning at her comment, he came out from behind the pillar and walked towards her. “How did you know I was here?” He asked, genuinely curious as to how she detected him when she had her back to him.
She gave a lopsided smirk as she answered, “You know how I can sense people’s hearts and bodies and all that? Well, sometimes, certain people have a body that is louder than others, or have some sort of identifying rhythm or feel. And yours is one of the more unique ones.”
“How so?” He inquired trying to calm his racing heart which he now had confirmation she could feel.
“It’s hard to explain, but. . . it’s like your heart beat stands out from others when you're in the room. Like I can pick it out in a crowd. I couldn’t really tell you why,” she shrugged.
“Remind me to never play hide and seek with you,” he joked.
Laughing gently at his jest, she then asked “So, how was the mission? You stop the bad guys and save the world? Again?”
“Nah, it was a total bust. Bad intel and poor leads got us a whole lot of nothing,” he answered.
Sighing, she suddenly looked him over to realize he was still wearing his tactical suit and carrying his bag. “You haven’t gone back to your room yet?”
Tilting his head slightly and licking his lips, Bucky told her a partial truth, “No, not yet. Thought I’d catch you here first. Wanted to make sure you were ok while we were gone.”
“I know this might come as a surprise, but I can do most things on my own. I can even punch now” she chuckled. “But I appreciate the concern.”
“Well, now that I know you didn’t burn down the place, I am going to go to my room and get a decent shower and some sleep,” he told her.
“I’m done here, so I’ll walk with you?” Y/N suggested as she started removing the tape from her hands then grabbed her water bottle.
They walked back to their rooms in comfortable conversation. He told her about the small aspects of the mission that were unclassified. Y/N told him that she had invited Peter over and officially started his dream of movie night while he was gone. It was apparently now a standing date for every Thursday, assuming no one was out on assignment.
When they arrived at the North Wing’s third floor, Bucky reluctantly bid Y/N good night before ducking into his room to take a shower and get settled. He fell asleep easyily.
The ghostly memory of hands brought comfort from all the pain. His body writing and his mind screaming, he immediately felt the soothing touch bring him back to normal. To peace. Coming down from the anguish, he turned his eyes towards his personal Angel, but they eluded him. No matter how hard he tried, his eyes couldn’t focus on the figure, wouldn’t allow him to see any features. But this time he could at least make out a silhouette as the source of calm didn’t disappear as they typically did. They were real. And they helped him.
Bucky was woken from the dream by the sound of Y/N’s bedroom door opening and closing softly across the hall. He sat up and listened as she padded down the hall towards the elevator. It wasn’t even 3:00am yet, much too early for her to be heading out for the sunrise. He got out of bed, put on a shirt, then followed her. He tracked her scent to the common room on the second floor where he found her curled up on one of the overstuffed couches staring out the window.
“Hey,” she turned and greeted him as he entered the room. “Did I wake you? I was trying to be as quiet as I could.”
“Yeah, it’s not your fault,” he explained and as he pointed at his ears, “Super hearing. Comes with the whole super soldier thing.”
“Remind me to never play hide and seek with you,” she echoed his earlier jest. “I forget sometimes; the superstrength, sight, hearing.”
“Don’t forget smell and accelerated healing,” he clarified.
Scrunching her face, “Smell too? I apologize. I haven’t showered recently.”
Bucky laughed in earnest at her self deprecating comment. Catching his breath, he addressed her again while he remained in the doorway. “You know the sun isn’t going to be up for at least another three hours.”
Giving a small huff, she turned her face back to the window and responded, “I just have nightmares sometimes. They’re never specific but they’re awful. And I wake up a mess and usually can’t go back to sleep.”
“What do you remember of your nightmares?” He probed as he stepped into the room and sat in the recliner next to her. Elbows on his knees, he faced his body towards her curled form.
“Mostly just feelings, not actual moments or images. I can’t remember where it is or why it’s happening, but there’s always screaming. Hundreds of people screaming all at once. They’re in pain. So much pain. And I always feel this sense of guilt, like I should be helping them or something? But I’m trapped and I can’t help them. Like someone is stopping me from using my powers” She squeaked as a tear rolled down her face. “I’m not even sure if it’s a dream or memory. It’s all so frustrating.”
“I know the feeling. Like a word that one the tip of your tongue except it’s some critical moment of your life. And the harder you try to bring it into focus and remember it, the worse it becomes, likes it’s purposely avoiding you,” he sympathized with her.
“Yes. That’s it exactly,” she smiled at him through glassy eyes.
“Y/N, I know you still meet with Helen once a week, but I hope you know you can always talk to me also. I don’t have her degrees and I’m probably not as finesse as her. But. . . I know what you’re going through. Hell, I’m still going through it,” he looked at her and gave his warmest smile.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Bucky realized that he probably wasn’t going back to sleep either at this point, so he attempted to steer the conversation back to something more light hearted. “I still can’t believe you caved and had a movie night with Parker.”
“Two movie nights,” she corrected. “And they were fun.”
“You do realize that Peter is barely old enough to drive a car,” he mocked.
“Ewww Bucky. I’m not robbing a cradle or anything like that, thank you very much. Just feel bad for the kid. He’s lost a lot in his life, but he’s still so. . . hopeful. And spirited,” Y/N commented.
“He also talks non-stop,” Bucky added.
“Oh my god, does he. I swear, I think he only took two breaths while we were setting up and just kept going on and on about CGI and other movie technology,” she sighed. “The bright side of movie night is he stays quiet while the film is on. Mostly.”
With only a few hours sleep, the remainder of the day was a struggle that Bucky unfortunately had to endure with several debriefing meetings and new recruit assessments. He and Y/N had agreed over coffee that morning to skip their nightly training session in hopes they could catch up on some sleep.
At Y/N’s request, Bucky made them grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner that night as she claimed she was craving it while he was gone. They were in the middle of washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen after their meal when Sam came in.
“Good, you’re both here. We’ve got that mission I told you about in two days. You ready to join us Y/N?” he asked.
“Ok, yeah. Is it . . .a longer mission? Like, will we be gone for several days?” She inquired.
“Nah, this one should only be a few hours. In and out. And before you pop a blood vessel Buck, I want you there too. We are going to run a blitz attack and need all hands on deck,” Sam expanded staring back at Bucky. “There is a quick briefing tomorrow morning that I need you to attend at 8 and. . . did you make her one of your grilled cheese?” Sam asked, taking note of the leftover ingredients and sounding offended.
“Yeah, that’s what happens when you don’t annoy the shit out of me,” Bucky responded as Sam rolled his eyes.
“Have you two considered counseling?” Y/N asked.
“No!” Both men responded to her suggestion at the same time while continuing to glare at each other.
After a full night's sleep, Bucky joined Sam, Bruce, Peter, and several other personnel in the conference room for the details on their latest assignment. Although it looked easy enough, Bucky was still on edge having Y/N go that close to danger.
The day of preparation passed quickly and Bucky barely saw Y/N at all. They had her busy being fitted for her own tactical suit, familiarized with the comm system, and introduced to various agents from other departments.
That night while Bucky was in the kitchen cleaning his dishes, Y/N ambled off the elevator.
“You look spent,” he said sympathetically.
“I actually feel my age today. I haven’t had that much activity or information in. . .I don’t even know how long,” she sighed as she opened up the freezer and grabbed a quart of ice cream.
“Did you eat?” Bucky inquired.
Opening a drawer and grabbing a spoon, she looked up at him as she spoke, “That’s what I’m about to do.”
“I don’t think Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked qualifies as a meal,” he lectured.
“Have you ever tried this stuff?” She questioned him.
“I’m serious,” he countered.
Rolling her eyes, she walked over to an overhead cabinet and pulled out some sort of granola bar before looking back at him, “Is this better Dad?”
“I’m just. . .tomorrow will be an even longer day so you might want the energy with better food,” he explained as he leaned his hip against the counter to face her.
“I know, I’m. . . just nervous I guess,” she pouted and she ate a scoop of the ice cream.
Taking a step closer to her and catching her eye he spoke, “You can still back out. No one will fault you.”
“I’ll be fine Buck. Just gotta get the jitters out. Take that first leap,” she forced a small smile then added, “Plus you’ll have my back right?”
“Yeah, I’ll always have your back darlin’,” he drawled.
Tags- @justanotherblonde23 @just-me-and-my-obsessions00 @vicmc624 @spacial-universe @chasingdreamer @purplekitten30 @vishousmate @foxlace @fangirl-swagg @breadqueen95 @shy-panda02 @austynparksandpizza @oloreaa @tanyaherondale @daddysfavoritesexkitten @friedpaperbagelghost @kittengirl998 @themaddies-obx @nickangel13 @keliza153 @dude-whatawave @flightsandfantasy @nervousdonutdragon @competitive-dust @red-head011 @sweetserendipity65 @supernaturalcat7 @thinkingaboutmymadness @sunfouler
info: wen junhui/reader, teen+, soulmate au
genre: angst, romance | word ct: 2k
warnings: descriptions of injuries, scars, blood, hospitals
summary: forever was a powerful word, and it was the only word he could think of when he imagined his soulmate. someone who was just as powerful as she was terrifying. because forever was a powerful word, and it scared him to no end.
author's note: please read! this soulmate au deals with soulmarks in the form of injuries. once someone turns 18 their body will be marked with their soulmates scars and they will acquire all of their future injuries (i know it's a little confusing, story explains it better). if talks of scars and blood make you uncomfortable, respectfully, this fic will not be your cup of tea. thank you all!
Forever. Never, in all of Junhui’s life, had he heard a more terrifying word. He hated the permanency of it, the idea of being stuck doing one thing, being with one person. The thought of it alone made his skin itch. He loved being able to get on a train and go absolutely anywhere, loved never being tied down, loved being free. Sometimes he didn’t even know where home was, where he’d be sleeping, and that’s when he was most happy. He couldn’t explain it, nor did he want to.
What scared him most, was what he was destined for, what forever truly meant for him. For years he was told how his life would change, how it would never be the same once he became an adult. And he believed them. No matter how much he hated it, he’d have to be delusional not to. Because he’d been watching it play out on his skin since he turned 18. He’d been watching his body pucker with scars, little nicks here and there, for the better part of four years. A thin line across the back of his hand, a surgical scar on his stomach, it was so nerve-wracking. Because he hadn’t been injured.
His soulmate had, and he was a first-hand witness.
That was the sad existence he was left with, the one he’d been running from for years. He lived in a world where everyone was covered in the injuries and scars of their soulmate. Your body wasn’t a canvas of your own life, it was the story of someone else’s. And God Junhui hated that more than anything. That his life wasn’t his own anymore and there was nothing he could do about it.
It all became real for him when he came home from school on his 18th birthday. He shouldered off his bag and was getting ready to shower when he saw the bright pink mark on his stomach. A little thing, only two inches in length, half an inch wide, almost completely negligible. At first, he was confused, then scared, and finally—mortified.
No. He said to himself as he inspected the scar. Please tell me this is a lie.
For years he stared at his own body, repulsed and confused by the injuries that kept cropping up. His friends would laugh at the little marks, claiming that his soulmate was a complete klutz. Still, he refused to acknowledge it. He didn’t care what sort of scar showed up on his body, he refused to care. He refused to think about the one person who was tied to his entire existence. No matter what they were going through. He didn’t care when the eight inch gash appeared on his arm, nor did he care when he saw the surgical scar sprawled across his knee. It was just skin, scar tissue and skin. It didn’t mean anything.
Or that’s what he tried to convince himself.
Sometimes, if the injury was bad enough, he would even feel the pain from it. One day he was walking to work, and suddenly he was struck by an intense migraine. The throbbing alone was enough to make him want to puke. The world was spinning, he could barely feel the ground underneath his feet when he caught his reflection in a store window. His eyebrow had split open, a single trickle of blood streaking his face.
What happened? He found himself wondering despite himself. Are they—are they okay?
Before that moment, he had never actually bled from one of his soulmate’s wounds. And it terrified him. He had only seen the injuries once they’d healed, meaning that the danger, and pain, was over. That little bead of blood meant—meant that this was real. That on the other side of his scars was a real person. He hated forever, he hated the word, hated the meaning, hated what he was forced to endure because fate had better plans for him.
But still, he couldn’t help but wonder. And that was harmless, right?
Going to the doctor after that was interesting, because he had to get a full body X-Ray to see what sort of damage his new body had endured. Standard protocol when you turned 18, he’d just been putting it off for as long as he could. Injuries from his soulmate's childhood were clear against the backlight, several broken bones from when they were young, or reckless, or both. Without realizing it, Junhui found himself smiling at the sight. It was sort of comforting, knowing that he’ll always have this part of someone else. That it’ll never leave him.
He gingerly touched each wound and tried to imagine the story behind them. There was this one right up his shin, very old, very faded, it reminded him of the one time he fell off his bike as a kid. Maybe he had something in common with his soulmate. Maybe they had a similar past. He had no idea, but it was fun to wonder.
For periods of time, Junhui wouldn’t accumulate any new marks, and he felt lonely. He pretended like he didn’t, he continued on as he usually did. A string of flings and drunken escapades kept him busy, but they just—they weren’t as fun anymore. Car rides with no destination, late nights underneath the stars, the things he loved most no longer held the same weight. He felt stupid, selfish, wishing for some sign of his soulmate. Because that meant that they’d have to get hurt for it to happen.
And then, he thought he lost them.
He was getting set up for a gig, plugging in his mic and laughing with the stagehands, when he felt his life flash before his eyes. Like he’d been crushed by a car. The pain was so excruciating, he was finding it hard to breathe. Collapsing to the floor, he could’ve sworn that he saw a bright light above him. Tears streaked his face, his stomach churned like the red sea—he thought he was dying. He had no idea what was going on, until—until he realized that he was fine. That his soulmate—that his soulmate might’ve—
Pulling up his shirt, he watched a deep gash form on his stomach and a deep bruise color his whole abdomen. Propping himself up onto his elbows, he instantly fell back to the ground. Looking at his arm, he noticed the swelling. He was being covered in bruises, several of his bones were broken, and he only had one thought on his mind.
I have to find them.
He managed to get to his feet, finding his right leg weaker than he remembered, and he practically sprinted out of the bar. Pulling out his phone, he started searching every news site he could think of, looking for any news of any sort of car crash. Of any sort of accident.
Every few minutes or so, he’d check to make sure that his scars were still there. That his soulmate hadn’t left him. Because that’s what everyone truly fears, and the one thing Junhui has grown to fear more than forever. When you slowly see your soulmate's scars clear up, when your skin is your own once more, it means one of two things.
Either you’ve found your soulmate, or your soulmate is dead.
Please stay alive. He found himself begging, finally catching word of a couple car accidents in the past day. He scrolled through them, scrolled through the pictures of victims, desperately trying to find them. Dozens of faces blurred past his vision, and he finally stopped at a picture of a young woman. A woman with a small scar on her chin, just like the cut Junhui got when he was a kid and banged his chin on a coffee table.
After years of denying her existence, he had finally found his soulmate. For a brief moment, he was caught in some sort of trance, completely awestruck by the person who was a permanent part of his life. She was beautiful, perfect, everything he had ever dreamed of and feared all at once. It broke his heart, knowing that it took her getting hit by a car for him to find her.
When he figured out which hospital she was taken to, he hailed a cab and paid him extra to get him there as fast as he could. As he rode, he read the article more thoroughly, reading about how she was hit by a drunk driver, how she was in critical condition, and how she was in a medically induced coma. He had to fight back tears, knowing that she might not make it.
Arriving at the hospital, he showed the front desk her picture, desperate to find her any way that he could. They confirmed that she was there, that she had just got out of surgery. They kept telling him that only family could see her, that he’d have to wait until she was out of the ICU, and a million other things that he didn’t give a damn about. He had to see her.
“She’s my soulmate.” He whispered, trying not to lose it. “Please, please, let me see her.”
Even though the nurses were conflicted, they eventually let him in. Thanking them quickly, he sprinted down the hall to her room, tears stinging the corners of his eyes. He couldn’t lose her. Not before she was even a part of his life. Not before he could even tell her how important she was to him. He hadn’t even met her yet, and yet if she died – then his life would be over.
He slowed down as he got closer, his heart beating in his ears. She was just a few doors down, she was so close, he could feel it deep down inside. As he stood outside her door, he tried to calm himself down, he inhaled and exhaled, attempting to stabilize the raging storm inside of him.
Mentally preparing for the worst he reached for the door handle, his entire arm shaking. He was fully aware that she wouldn’t even realize he was there, that she’d be lying catatonic in a hospital bed with tubes and wires hooked up to her. He didn’t care. It was still an important moment in his life. He was about to meet his soulmate for the first time.
Turning the handle, he felt his heart stop when he saw her. Even though the actual sight of her broke his heart, something he couldn’t explain started to stir inside of him. Like—like his entire existence led him to this point. And while that thought alone would’ve terrified him not too long ago, it now gave him a purpose to strive towards. He wouldn’t run from this.
He approached her carefully, pulling up a chair and sitting beside her. As he sat there, he watched as the little scars across his knuckles started to disappear, and saw them reappear on her. Unconsciously, he started to check on every single scar on his body, finding himself frowning as they vanished from his skin. He would’ve preferred to bare them, knowing that they wouldn’t mar her beautiful body. And he’d miss the proof that she was meant to be with him. Fate determined that they were meant to be together, and for the first time—he accepted that. Because he finally learned that alone was a far more terrifying word than forever.
“I don’t care how long it takes.” He whispered, taking her hand in his. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Michael Riedel vs Bernadette Peters – the Broadway Battle of 2003 and beyond
My previous piece gives a fairly comprehensive look at Bernadette and Gypsy through the ages; though there is at least one aspect of the 2003 revival that warrants further discussion:
Namely, Michael Riedel.
Today’s essay question then: “Riedel – gossip columnist extraordinaire, the “Butcher of Broadway”, spited male vindictive over not getting a lunch date with Bernadette Peters, or puppet-like mouthpiece of theatre’s shadowed elite? Discuss.”
It’s matter retrievable in print, or even kept alive in apocryphal memory throughout the theatre community to this day that Riedel was responsible for a campaign of unrelenting and caustic defamation against Bernadette as Rose in Gypsy around the 2003 season.
While “tabloids may [have been] sniping and the Internet chat rooms chirping”, when looking back at the minutiae, none were more vocal, prolific or influential in colouring early judgment than the “chief vulture [of] Mr. Riedel, who had written a string of vitriolic columns in which he said from the start that Ms. Peters was miscast”.
He continued to find other complaints and regularly attack her in print over an extended period of time.
Why? We’ll get there. There are a few theories to suggest. Firstly, how and what.
Primary to establish is that it perhaps would be foolish to expect anything else of Riedel.
Also an author and radio and TV show host, Riedel is best known as the “vituperative and compulsively readable” theatre columnist at The New York Post.
He’s a man who thrives on controversy, decrying: “Gossip is life!”
The man who says, “I’m a wimp when it comes to physical violence, but give me a keyboard and I’ll kill ya.”
“Inflicting pain, for him, is a jokey thing. ‘Michael has this cruel streak and a lack of empathy,’ says Susan Haskins, his close friend and co-host.”
And inflicting pain is what he did with Bernadette, in a saga that has become one of the most talked about and enduring moments of his career.
From the beginning, then.
Riedel started work at The Post in 1998.
His first words on Bernadette? “Oddly miscast in the Ethel Merman role,” in August of that year on Annie Get Your Gun. It was a sentiment he would carry across to his second mention six months later (“a seemingly odd choice to play the robust Annie Oakley”), and also across to the heart of his vitriolic coverage on her next Merman role in Gypsy.
Negative coverage on Bernadette in Gypsy started in August 2002 when Riedel discussed the search for trying to find a new American producer for the show. It had initially been reported in late 2000 that a Gypsy revival with Bernadette was planned for London, before it was to transfer to Broadway. To begin with, Arthur Laurents was “eager to do Gypsy in London because it hadn't been seen in the West End since 1973”, and he “wanted to repeat [the] dreamlike triumph” he said Angela Lansbury’s production had been. But economic matters prevented this original plan, leaving the team looking for new producers in the US. Riedel suggested that Fran and Barry Wiessler step up as, “after all, they managed to sell the hell out of "Annie Get Your Gun," in which Peters…was also woefully miscast.”
He also quipped: “Industry joke: "Bernadette Peters in 'Gypsy'? Isn't she a little old to be playing Baby June?”, calling her “cutesy Peters” and again a “kewpie doll”.
Bernadette here seen side by side with the actual Baby June of the 2003 production – Kate Reinders.
Other publications to this point had discussed her “unusual” casting. Which was fairly self-evident. In contrast to being a surprising revelation that Bernadette Peters was not, in fact, Ethel Merman, this had been the intention from the start. Librettist Arthur “Laurents – whose idea it was to hire her – [said] going against type is exactly the point,” and Sam Mendes, as director, qualified “the tradition of battle axes in that role has been explored”.
It was Riedel who was the first to shift the focus from the obvious point that she was ‘differently cast’, to instead attach the negative prefix and intone that she was actually ‘MIS’ cast. According to him then, she was unsuitable, and would be unable to “carry the show, dramatically or vocally”. All before she had so much as sung a note or donned a stitch of her costume.
So no, it wasn’t then “the perception, widely held within the theater industry,” as he presented it, “that Peters is woefully miscast as Mama Rose”.
It was Riedel’s perception. And he took it, and ran with it, along with whatever else he could throw into the mix to drag both her and the show down for the next two years.
As to another indication of how one single columnist can influence opinion and warp wider perception, just look to Riedel’s assessment of the show’s first preview. It is typically known as Riedel’s forte to “[break] with Broadway convention, [where] he attends the first night of previews, and reports on the problems…before the critics have their say”. This gives him “clout” by way of mining “terrain that goes relatively uncovered elsewhere”, and it means subsequent journals are frequently looking to him from whom to take their lead – and quotes.
At Gypsy’s opening preview then, he reported visions of “Arthur Laurents [charging] up the aisle…on fire”, loudly and vocally expressing his dissatisfaction with the show as he then “read Fox [a producer] the riot act”. Despite the fact that this was “not true, according to Laurents,” the damage was already done, with the sentiment of trouble and tension being subsequently reprinted and distributed out to the public across many a regional paper.
News travels fast, bad news travels faster.
And news can be created at an ample rate, when in possession of one’s own regular periodical column. This recurring domain allowed plentiful opportunity for attack on Bernadette and Gypsy, and Riedel “began devoting nearly every column to the subject,” which amounted to weekly or even more frequent references.
As the show progressed beyond its first preview, Riedel brought in the next aspects of his smear-campaign – assailing Bernadette for missing performances through illness and accusing Ben Brantley, who reviewed the show positively in The New York Times, of unfair favouritism and “hyperbolic spin”.
The issue is not that Bernadette was not in fact ill or missing performances. She was. She had a diagnosis at first of “a cold and vocal strain”, that then progressed more seriously to a “respiratory infection” the following week, and was “told by her doctors that she needs to rest”. So rest she did.
The issue is the way in which Riedel depicted the situation and her absences via hyperbole and “insinuating she was shirking” responsibility. He went further than continual, repeated mentions and cruel article titles like “wilted Rose”, or “sick Rose losing bloom”, or “beloved but - ahem-cough-cough-ahem - vocally challenged and miscast star”. He went as far as the sensationalist and degrading action of putting “Peters' face on the side of a milk carton, the kind of advertisement typically used to recover lost children,” and asking readers to look out for “bee-stung lips, [a] high-pitched voice, [and a] kewpie doll figure”, who “may be clutching a box of tissues and a love letter from Ben Brantley”.
It was quantified in May of 2003 after the show had officially opened, that “out of the 39 performances "Gypsy" has played so far, [Bernadette] has missed six – an absence rate of 15 percent.”
As an interesting comparison, it was reported in The Times in February 2002 that “‘The Producers' stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick have performed together only eight times in last 43 performances due to scheduling problems and health concerns,” – an absence rate of 81%.
Did Riedel have anything nearly as ardent to say about the main male stars of the previous season’s hit missing such a rate of performances? Of course not.
Riedel arguably has a disproportionate rate for criticising female divas.
One need only heed his recommendations that certain women check into his illuminatingly named “Rosie's Rest Home for Broadway Divas.” Divos need not apply.
Not that he was unaware of this.
In 2004, Riedel would jovially lay out that “Liz Smith and I have developed a nice tag-team act: I bash fragile Broadway leading ladies who miss performances, and she rides to their rescue.”
Donna Murphy was the recipient of what he that year dubbed his “BERNADETTE PETERS ATTENDANCE AWARD”, when she began missing performances in “Wonderful Town”, due to “severe back and neck injuries and a series of colds and sinus infections”.
This speaks to his remarkably cavalier and joyful attitude with which he tears down shows and performers. “The more Mr. Riedel's work upsets people, the more he enjoys it.”
He knows he yields influence – it was recognised he had “eclipsed Ben Brantley as the single most discussed element in marketing meetings for Broadway shows” – and he delights in his capacity to lead shows to premature demises through his poison-tipped quill yielding.
When it was reported Gypsy would be closing earlier than had been planned, he made mention of “hop[ping] around on [its] grave” and debonairly applauding himself, “I suppose I can take some credit for bringing it down”.
His premonition from the previous year’s Tony’s ceremony was both ominous and prescient, when he predicted the show’s failure to win any awards “could spell trouble at the box office”. He was right. It did. The 8.5 million dollar revival closed months before anticipated and failed to return a profit.
Multiple factors can be attributed to Gypsy’s poor success at the Tony’s, but it’s clear to say Riedel’s continual bashing leading up to the fated night throughout the voting period certainly didn’t help matters.
His suggestions to do with Bernadette’s performances were not helpful either.
After alleging Laurents as the director of the 1991 revival “practically beat a performance out of” Tyne Daly when she was struggling with the role, he proffers that to improve Bernadette’s success, “it may be time for [Laurents] to take up the switch and thrash one out of Peters”.
It was irresponsible and unrelenting commentary that did not go unnoticed.
His “ruthless heckling of beloved Broadway star Ms. Peters” was deemed in print “his most egregious stunt so far”.
Vividly, in person, Riedel was accosted at a party one night by Floria Lasky, the venerable showbiz lawyer, who “grab[bed] Riedel’s tie and jerk[ed] it, nooselike, scolding, ‘It was unfair, what you did to Bernadette’”.
Moreover, the wide-reaching influential hold Riedel occupied over the environment surrounding Gypsy was tangible in the fact his words spread beyond just average readers, and even unusually “started seeping into the reviews of New York's top critics”. Riedel himself, as the “chief vulture”, was indeed what Ben Brantley was referring to in his own New York Times review by stating how the production was “shadowed by vultures predicting disaster”.
Even more substantially, the “whole Peters-Riedel-Brantley episode” became its own enduring cultural reference – being converted into its very own “satiric cabaret piece, ‘Bernadette and the Butcher of Broadway’”. All three parties were featured, with Riedel characterised as the butcher, and it played Off-Broadway later in 2003 “to positive notices”.
But penitent for his sins and begging for absolution Riedel was not. “Riedel saw nothing but a great story and a great time,” and for many years after, he would continue to hark back to the matter in self-referential (almost reverential) and flippant ways.
In 2008 as Patti LuPone won her Tony for her turn as Rose in the subsequent revival, Riedel couldn’t help but jibe, “Not to rip open an old wound, but I'd love to know if Bernadette Peters was watching”. (He neglects also to mention that “Mendes’s Gypsy was seen by 100,000 more people than saw Laurents’s and grossed $6 million more”.)
More jibes are to be found in 2012 as he reported on the auction after Arthur Laurents’ funeral, or even as recently in 2019, as he asked, “Remember the outcry that greeted Sam Mendes’ Brechtian “Gypsy,” with Bernadette Peters, in 2003?”
As with in 2004 where he points to the “pack of jackals who have been snarling” about Bernadette’s failures, this brings up the canny knack Riedel has of offloading his views to bigger and detached third party sources – thus absolving himself of personal centrality, and thus culpability.
If there was an outcry, HE was its loudest contributor. If there were snarling jackals, HE was their leader.
Maybe Riedel’s third person detached approach to referencing matters was intended to be a humorous stylistic quirk for those in the know. Or maybe it was his way of expressing some inner turmoil over the event.
In some rare display of morality and emotional authenticity, Riedel would at one point admit “I find it kind of sad and pathetic that the high point of my life supposedly has been about beating up on Bernadette Peters”.
Fortunately for him then, a degree of absolution was eventually achieved in 2018, where Riedel visited Bernadette at her opening night in Hello Dolly in 2018, with the intention of ending their “15-year feud”. He “got down on one knee at Sardi’s and extended his hand,” with Bernadette reportedly yelling “Take a picture!” while he held his deferential and obsequious position on the floor.
So if eventually this “feud” has some kind of circular resolution and Riedel was glad it was over, why on earth did it begin in the first place?
One notion is that it was simply another day on the job. Riedel is a man who sees Broadway as “a game for rich people”. Positioned as an “an industry that brought in $720.9 million in the 2002-2003 season”, it is “not a fragile business”, he remarked. As such, he “[could not] fathom the point of donning kid gloves” in covering it, and reasoned the business as a whole was robust enough to weather a few hard knocks. “Thus, Riedel can coolly view Bernadette Peters as fair game, as opposed to, say, a national treasure”.
More to the point, he was a man in search of words. During the season in question, Riedel was “one of just three New York newspaper columnists covering the stage” – a “throwback to a bygone era when…Broadway gossipmeisters…such as Walter Winchell and Dorothy Kilgallen ruled”. Now at the time, as the “last of a great tabloid tradition”, Riedel presided over not just one but two columns a week at The Post. As a result, he was in need of content. “One of the reasons I've become more opinionated is I just have more space to fill,” he admitted. Robert Simonson hypothesises in his book ‘On Broadway Men, Still Wear Hats’ that Riedel may have consequently picked “the thrashing of Bernadette” as his main target simply because “it was a slow news cycle”. Options for ‘titillating’ and durable content were scarce elsewhere that season.
And after all, if Riedel would later cite Bernadette in an article concerning the Top 10 Powerhouses of Broadway in 2004, saying even despite a few knocks or bad shows, “she’ll bounce back” – surely there was no real damage done.
If her career wouldn’t be toppled by his continual public defamation and haranguing, what was the harm?
Feelings? Who cares about feelings or Bernadette’s extremely complex and personal history with the show stretching back to when she was a teenager.
It was just part of the territory, there was nothing personal in it.
Or was there?
Maybe there was something personal in Riedel’s campaign after all.
He makes a curious comment while discussing ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ in 2004. The then incoming star of the show, rapper P. Diddy, had invited Riedel to dinner, and he makes judgement that this was “a smart p.r. move”. Then he ponders, “you do have to wonder: If Bernadette Peters had broken bread with me this time last year, would her chorus boys have to be out there now working the TKTS line to keep "Gypsy" afloat?”
Might he be going as far to suggest that if Bernadette had indulged him in a meal, her show might not have suffered so, by way of him being more inclined to cover it with greater lenience?
It may seem that way, at least in considering how Riedel reviewed P. Diddy’s performance thus after their dinner: “Riedel pronounced himself impressed. ‘He could have forgotten his lines or had to be carried offstage. He didn’t do anything terrible, he didn’t do anything astonishing.’”
Seemingly all the rapper had to do was remember some words and remain physically onstage, and he sails through scot-free. That’s a rather different outcome, one could say, to being absolutely eviscerated for what became a Tony nominated effort at one of the appreciably hardest and most demanding musical theatre roles in existence.
Though perhaps it’s hard to tell if that was really his insinuation from just one isolated comment pertaining to lunch.
This argument might be fine, if it WAS the only isolated comment pertaining to wanting Bernadette to have lunch with him. But it isn’t. Riedel continues to make a further two references over protracted periods of time to the fact Bernadette hasn’t dined with him.
One begins to get the sense of him feeling desiring of or somewhat entitled to such a private lunch with the lady he’s verbally decimated for years, and a sense of bitter rejection that he hasn’t been granted one.
“If Tonya Pinkins doesn't win the Tony Award this year, I'll buy Bernadette Peters lunch,” he simpered, and later, “I invite Bernadette to be my guest for lunch at a restaurant of her choosing. She can reach me at The Post anytime she's hungry”.
The embittered columnist in this light takes on now the marred tinge of a small boy in the playground who doesn’t get to hold the hand of the girl he wants in front of his friends, so spends the next three years pushing her over in the sandpit in revenge.
Moreover, the last statement makes undeniable comment on Bernadette’s troubled relationship with food, body image and public eating.
So now not only so far has he insulted and mocked her physical appearance and played into all the usual trite shots calling her a “kewpie doll”; suggested Arthur Laurents violently hit her in order to elicit a better performance; continually publicly harassed her regarding a show that strikes close to the nerve with deep personal and psychological resonances due to her mother and childhood; but now he’s going for the low-blows of ridiculing her over her eating habits.
Maybe it’s far-fetched to suggest a man would have such a fragile ego to run a multi-year public defamation campaign after so little as not getting his hypothesised fantasy of a personal lunch date. But then again, this was the man who “left Johns Hopkins University after his first year because of a broken heart.”
(“I was in love with her; she wasn't in love with me,” he said.)
And also the man described as “an insomniac who pops the occasional Ambien,” living in a “small one-bedroom” that is “single-guy sloppy”, who has “been living alone since a four-year romance ended in 1996”.
The man whose own best friend called “cruel” and with a “lack of empathy”.
The man whose own sister answered that “well, yes,” he’s always been mean; and after being picked on as a kid for “being the small guy and the intellectual”, he grew dependent on using “his verbal ability to beat someone” and put himself in positions of defensive impenetrability.
See, writing Riedel-esque, vindictive and provocative conjecture is no especially challenging or cerebral task.
Riedel may well see his approach to ‘journalism’ or reporting as “all fun and games”.
But I for one am not laughing.
One final aspect to address when considering Riedel’s reasoning for the depth of his coverage on Bernadette demands attention of how he gets his information. His own personal opinions and motivations aside, crucially he depends on insider providers for insider details. Perhaps somewhat alarmingly then, “leading Broadway producers themselves are among his sources”.
“Half of Broadway hates him. The other half leaks to him”, John Heilpern titled his 2012 Vanity Fair profile on Riedel.
As such, in frequently taking his lead from “theater folk, usually with an ax to grind”, Riedel acts as the mouthpiece to bring secretive backstage reports out front. High-up, influential characters are thus able to funnel their agendas into public view, while keeping their identities hidden.
Notably, it was raised in the above article that Riedel’s “merciless running story” regarding Bernadette in Gypsy “was fed by none other than its renowned librettist, Arthur Laurents—or, more precisely, by Laurents's lover”.
Contrary to the smiley picture below between members of the show’s creative team and it’s beloved star, it was no secret that Laurents did not like Mendes’ 2003 revival. Laurents told Riedel that “Sam did a terrible disservice to Bernadette and the play, and I wanted a Gypsy seen in New York that was good… You have to have musical theater in your bones, and Sam doesn't”. In fact, Laurents admitted the only reason his 2009 book ‘Mainly on Directing’ came into existence was because of how much he had to criticise about the show – it grew out of the extensive set of notes he gave Mendes.
Additionally, it was no secret that Laurents’ lover, Tom Hatcher, demonstrated both a desire and capacity to influence Arthur’s productions. As well as being the driving force for the 2009 Spanish-speaking reworking of West Side Story, Hatcher had intense investment in Gypsy specifically. Patti LuPone writes in her memoir, “From his deathbed, Tom had told Arthur, ‘You have to do Gypsy, and you have to do it with Patti’. It was one of his dying wishes”. Laurents himself, in corroboration of this, explained Tom’s reasoning – “he didn't want the Sam Mendes production to be New York's last memory of Gypsy”.
The allegation in Heilpern’s profile might be hard to prove from an outsider perspective. But given that neither were happy with Mendes’ production and both actively took steps to ensuring it would be superseded in memory, it is not completely implausible.
Overarchingly, as much as Riedel’s writing may benefit FROM insider sources, it is said he does not write in benefit OF them. For instance, although friends with Scott Rudin in 2004, an animated (nay threatening) warning from Mr Rudin asking Riedel to “back off” from “slamming” his show, Caroline or Change, seemingly “had no impact”.
That’s not to cite total impartiality or exemption from personal connections and higher up influences colouring his reports of shows. Theatre publicist John Barlow would describe that sometimes “if you ask Michael to kill [one of his pieces], he will, if it’s someone with whom he does business”.
But it would be remiss not to mention that his influences and sources stretch beyond just the big wigs. Amongst his other informants too are the more lowly, overlooked folk like “the stagehands, the ushers, chorus kids, house managers, and press agents… the guys who build sets in the Bronx”. Basically, for anyone who’ll talk, Riedel will listen.
“Michael Riedel doesn't work for the producers or the publicists; he works for the reader,” one publicist said. “Sometimes we're glad of that, sometimes we're not-but at the end of the day, that's the reality.”
Sometimes he’s nice, sometimes he’s not – but the world goes round.
Through all that’s been explored, it should be stated how painful and injurious it must be for individual performers or shows to fall upon the unmitigated, maiming force of being on the wrong side of Riedel’s favour. The way he approached coverage on Bernadette is deplorable from an emotional and personal standpoint. Some would argue that it was too far and crossed a line and was most definitely unfair. Others would say it was justified.
It’s hard not to sound petulant as the former, or heartless as the latter.
While his actions may indeed be abrasively wounding in isolated (often plentiful) cases, it’s unreasonable to say Riedel’s intentions would be to cripple the Broadway industry as a whole. There are those who purport that Riedel in fact “keeps Broadway alive with his controversies”. His words may not always be ‘nice’ but it’s difficult to argue they're not engaging.
Many are quick to criticize or react impassionedly to him and his columns; but few are quick to stop reading them. And Riedel “knows that the most important thing is being well read”.
Hence it is understandable why Riedel is appraised as “the columnist Broadway loves to hate”. Through his enthralling and stimulating bag of linguistic and dramatic tricks, Riedel knows how to keep the readers coming back. “He’s lively, and he makes the theater seem like an interesting place,” one producer did reason.
“There are times when no one's going to care about Broadway if you don't have a gossip angle that focuses on the backstage drama,” opined George Rush, the Daily News gossip columnist who was once Riedel's boss.
Perhaps it is logically and principally then, if somewhat cynically, a matter of believing “it's just business” and knowing how to “play the game”.
As Riedel himself would rationalise, “It’s all an act. You gotta have a gimmick, as they say in Gypsy.”
It may not be pleasant, but in a world increasingly dependent on sensationalistic and clickbait-driven engagement, it’s probably not going to change any time soon.
Well then, if he can live with the toll of the position of moral tumult his column puts him in, so be it.
That he described his mind as being “constantly on the next deadline”, saying “I always think about the column”, and likening writing it to “standing under a windmill”, where “you dodge one blade, but there's always another one coming right behind it”, may be some indication that he can't. At least not wholly easily.
I’ll leave that to him to figure out. Off the record.
Managing the Cat’s Den
Ever wondered what it’d be like to be the manager of the Nekoma High’s Volleyball Club?
18 - in which your hard work finally starts to pay off
word count: 6,8k+ words
Short version: I was on an impromptu hiatus, because multi-chaptered fic burnout syndrome is a real thing and now I'm back, but I'm also not, so please don't have any expectations and just enjoy this ride while it lasts together with me!
Long version: Check out the Author’s Note of my Ao3 update!
With the preliminaries successfully behind them and their spot as Tokyo’s representative secured, one would think that the Nekoma boys’ volleyball team would sit back and relax. Bask in the outpour of serotonin a bit more. Buy some cake and celebrate.
(They had learnt their lesson last time you had baked one for them. Never again.)
But one would then not properly know the Nekoma volleyball team. Because these young men were anything but relaxed. If the preliminaries taught them anything, it was that they still had a lot of room left to grow.
That was exactly why they were in their school’s gymnasium right now, on a Sunday afternoon, sweating buckets from every pore of their skin. The familiar sounds of volleyballs slamming the ground accompanied their breathless panting, followed by the rhythmic whistling of coach Naoi in between each drill.
However, there was one thing that was amiss.
The spot you usually occupied was empty, the dozens of notebooks that would litter the bench coach Nekomata sat on was devoid of said items and there was no one to calm Yaku whenever he shouted at Lev.
Your lack of presence was glaringly obvious for the group of boys who had gotten used to the high timbre of your voice. At first, no one said anything, only glanced over their shoulders at where you should be standing. After fifteen minutes and you still not showing up, the first few began to grow antsy.
They exchanged confused looks, some even voicing out their concern that something could have happened to you. After all, you weren’t someone to miss practice, especially not when the national tournament was right around the corner.
Perhaps you were sick, your body finally having reached its limits after you continuously pushed yourself for the sake of the preliminaries?
Or worse – what if you were involved in an accident and had no way of contacting someone to come for your help?
Hence why when their first break commenced, they huddled around coach Nekomata and shot one question after another at him.
Except for one of them.
Fukunaga was smiling smugly, almost triumphantly, and refused to say anything until their coach cleared his throat to get the attention back on him.
“Alright, alright, I can already tell you lot won’t be fully present in today’s practice if I don’t tell you where she’s been whisked off to.” He smiled shrewdly.
They looked at him with anticipation.
His lips moved.
The boys listened.
And then… chaos.
Earlier that day
“(Name), are you in there?”
You lifted your head from your notebook when your mother knocked against your door and used this as an opportunity to reach for the ceiling to stretch your spine. A groan slipped from your lips and she stepped inside, a knowing smile on her face.
“Your dad wants to talk to you for a second. Can you come out?”
“What’s up?” You wheeled around and tilted your head.
“Just come with me for a second, will you?”
This sounded ominously like you were in trouble.
You bit your lip and thought back to every instance in your life in which you might have done something unpleasant for them. Several small moments showed up in your mind’s eye, but surely if your father was angry with you, he wouldn’t send your mother to fetch you? And surely she wouldn’t have that smile on her face… right?
“Ah, there you are.” Your father said and pulled you out of your very engrossing internal debate, “I need to talk to you about something. Sit down.”
So it was something serious.
Your eyes widened slightly when he gestured towards the couch. With a silent gulp, you lowered yourself and took a seat next to him. Your mother remained by your father’s side, her gaze expectant and focused on you.
Was this supposed to imitate the atmosphere of a confession booth?
Because right now, it certainly made you feel like they were expecting you to bare your soul to them. You fiddled with your fingers and watched him meekly.
“Something happened.“ He said. “And I have some news to share.”
“Okay…” You stretched the word as if trying to delay the revelation of this supposed news, not yet ready to be faced with whatever seriousness he wanted to confront you with.
Was he finally fed up with all the bad grades you had been bringing home? Had his tolerance to all your supplementary classes and make up tests run out? Was he going to make you choose between volleyball and school now?
“You’re going to the all Japan boy’s youth training camp.”
Actually, scratch that.
“What?” You gaped like a fish, looking from your father to your mother and then back to your father.
The cogs in your mind came to an abrupt stop, your eyes blinking as if trying to process the information you had just been given. But the only words going through your mind right now were System failure! System failure! and you shook your head as if the action would help get rid of the confusion.
“You’re going to the national volleyball training camp for young adults.”
A few seconds of silence passed and they looked as if they expected the world of you right now.
You still gaped.
And then you frowned.
“Yeah, no, I still don’t get it. Come again?”
Your mother scoffed in a loving way and leant forward to place her chin in her palm. Your father’s lips quirked in a victorious grin as well and he repeated, with the patience of a saint, “You are going to the national all boy’s youth training camp.”
Miniature mountains rose from every surface of your skin, the goosebumps making you shiver in your seat when the wires in your brain finally connected. You exhaled shakily, trying to understand, really understand what your father meant by that.
Your eyes filled with a salty sting.
“I don’t get it- H- How? Why?”
He looked at your mother, who beamed brighter than the sun itself when she said, “An old acquaintance of your father saw you at the preliminaries and contacted him to ask what his little girl was doing in a volleyball club rather than a swimming or basketball club.”
“That old geezer felt too much satisfaction that you ended up pursuing his sport rather than mine.“ He laughed in that old fatherly way that never failed to fill your stomach with warmth, “And to rub one in on me, he asked me to let you participate in his training camp.”
You were still trying to fully come to terms with what he was saying, but he was already rambling on, a silly grin stuck on his face, “Life works in funny ways, huh? You ended up in a volleyball team and his son ended up being the ace and captain of his high school’s basketball team. We scouted him to take part in my training camp as well.”
Suguru’s words rushed back into your fried mind and you steeled yourself for whatever answer might come next. You had to know.
“So he wants me there because I’m your daughter?”
“No.” He said patiently, already aware where your mind was wondering. It was one of his ‘dad skills’ as he liked to call it. He leaned closer to really look into your eyes to make sure you listened carefully to him, “He wants to teach you because you fascinate him.”
Heat rose to your cheeks and you straightened your spine in a flustered manner, “F-Fascinate?”
His smile did not falter once. “It’s not every day that a manager gets involved in their team like you do, let alone get praised by coaches from other schools. You’ve made quite a name for yourself, huh?”
Everything came spiraling back to you. Like a truck slipping on a rain-sodden road, it hit you smack dab in the face until you fell forward with a crushing dent in your chest. And then the truck reversed and barreled over you once more. Just for good measure.
All of the all nighters on your desk with books open left and right, the dozens of bunched up papers overflowing from your garbage bin. All of the documentaries and interviews you had watched, the words of advice from both your mother and your father, your coaches, the coaches from the other schools. Every single trip to said schools; all the missed study sessions and make up tests; all of the wrist pain you had endured from writing all of the info sheets and strategies-
It had all been worth it.
It was only when your mother couldn’t hold it in anymore and squeezed you in her arms to suffocate you with her love and pride that you felt the first few drops rolling down your cheeks.
The empty basketball court with only you in the center, lights out and abandoned by your own team.
The now full volleyball court with ten overly eager boys fighting and laughing with each other, the two coaches who held nothing but warm adoration for you.
And when your father reached to wipe the tears away, he kept his palms cradled against your cheeks, his thumbs ready to catch them as they fell, and fell, and fell.
Your hard work finally began to pay off.
You were shaking.
You were so nervous, your entire body was trembling with fear and trepidation. Was it getting hotter in this gymnasium that seemed to shrink or were you just sweating profusely in the face of a dozen curious eyes peering straight at you?
You felt like one of those mannequins at the mall, displayed out in the open for everyone to look at you from every single corner and scrutinize. It was not a very pleasant feeling.
You tried not to let it show, tried to think of your father’s words, of how you needed to appear confident to be confident and how if you didn’t learn to swim among sharks, you would be devoured in an instant.
So fast, you wouldn’t even know you were being digested already.
Unaware of the constipated expression on your face as you pondered your very questionable thoughts, a deep and low voice pulled you out of your reverie. Coach Hibarida placed an encouraging hand on your shoulder and faced forward. The slight jerk of your shoulder didn’t go unnoticed and you were met with a few amused snickers from the boys who stood before you.
“And this is (Surname) (Name), manager and coach-in-training of the Nekoma High volleyball club. Some of you might be familiar with her.“ Komori beamed at you, Kageyama gave you a small smile with a nod and Sakusa… just stared at you, like your very existence was a grim reminder to that very unpleasant run-in at the sports store, “And some of you might be seeing her for the first time.”
The others, whose faces and names were familiar to you (thanks to your arduous study session the night before when the coaches had sent you the list of attendants via mail), switched their gazes from you to the coach, listening to his every single word as if he was a god.
To be fair, he probably was a god in their eyes.
There wasn’t a single person in this group who didn’t have high potential and even higher goals - being part of the national team one day was somewhere in there for all of them.
(And to be frank, you were idolizing him a little bit yourself.)
“Regardless of whether you know each other or not, I would ask you to view her as one of us,” he gestured to himself and coach Hitaki, “So if she asks you to do something or interrupts your drills for whatever reason she deems fit - I want you to trust her and go along with it.”
“But remember, she too is here to learn. So if you have any questions or concerns that you can’t figure out together,“ coach Hitaki said, “Us old geezers are here as well.”
A friendly round of laughter reverberated across the walls and you felt the ants in your stomach come to a slow halt. When it got quiet again and no one talked, no one moved, just looked at you, you realized they were waiting for you to say something.
Your throat dried right back up and you hoped to god or whatever deity was watching over you that you didn’t appear as stupid and awkward as you feared you did.
As if sensing your unease, Komori locked eyes with you and gave you a toothy grin, his thumbs pointing up encouragingly. Confronted with his limitless positivity, it was impossible to not be infected by it. Wings fluttered in your chest and breathing became easier again. You managed a half-stiff bow and raised your voice so even the ones in the back could hear you loud and clear,
“Thank you for having me! I’m looking forward to working with all of you, please take care of me!”
Coach Hibarida glanced at you from the corner of his vision, his dark eyes surrounded by wrinkles as his lips lifted into a fond smile. He was thrown back in time.
You were just like your dad.
The first few hours passed uneventfully. The boys began to warm up not long after you introduced yourself and you were stationed right beside the coaches, in between coach Hibarida and coach Hitaki.
You were dutifully taking your notes as you observed them do several drills and then periodically changed your position when it was time to play three-on-three matches. Your hand did not stop scribbling once, even when you were moving to observe from another spot.
It was kind of comical, really.
Your face buried in your clipboard and the liberos (mostly Komori) jumping in front of you frantically every now and then to save you from a stray ball.
Whenever the coaches clipped in to give their comments to a specific rally, you flipped a few pages and jotted down what they were saying, although your eyes never really left the boys. A few of them had already gotten used to the burning sensation in their necks as you stared at them, but some of them just couldn’t rub the feeling of being watched away.
Miya Atsumu, famous setter from the Hyogo prefecture, was one of those cases.
He huffed when one of his sets got blocked again and grumbled under his breath, almost too quiet for anyone to hear, “Yanno, usually I don’t mind cute girls lookin’ at me. But this one’s just really makin’ me uncomfortable.”
However his words had still reached the ears of someone, who was very much not having his temper tantrum, “And you want to play in front of national tv? It’s just one girl. Get your head out of the gutter.”
A vein popped on Atsumu’s temple and he gave Sakusa a ticked off look with a strained smile as he said, “Omi-kun, ya still got that sharp tongue, I see.”
“It’s Sakusa-san for you.”
“Ya little- “
Atsumu froze upon hearing your voice and they both turned to see you jogging up to them. He half-expected you to look at him with glimmering eyes like the girls in his school did, but you only smiled at him curtly, politely, before you turned back to Sakusa, who very much looked like he wanted to be anywhere but here.
‘Just one girl, my ass.’ Atsumu smirked upon noticing how uncomfortable the other appeared.
Sakusa chose not to respond, but he did the mistake to meet your eyes and that was enough consent for you to continue, “Do you mind if I pull you aside for a bit? I wanted to see that drill of yours.”
You nodded, “Yeah. The one where you do that thing with your wrist and the ball just goes whoosh! and then bam! and then thunk!”
They both stood there dumbfounded, watching you try (and fail) to recreate the ball’s movement with your clipboard. Atsumu snorted. Sakusa frowned. ‘Another one…’
As if summoned by his cousin, Komori skidded over blissfully, putting even angels to shame, and clapped Sakusa on his back, “She’s talking about the Sakusa drill!”
“The Sakusa drill?” Atsumu asked with furrowed brows.
You, on the other hand, appeared to be delighted, “You even got a name for it? That’s so cool! Now I have to see it! Please? I promise I won’t keep you from practice for too long!”
Your conversation garnered more attention than the outside hitter would want to have, and when several more people (namely Kageyama and Hoshiumi) joined your group, his frown deepened even more.
“I don’t know, but it sounds cool. I wanna see it. Bet I can do it too! Watch me turn it into the Hoshi- ”
“Uh, guys,” they stopped talking and turned to you, “I don’t recall the coaches calling for a break right now?”
Cue another round of a bunch of dumbfounded looks.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were speaking in ancient Latin right now, that was how confused they appeared at your words.
“I’m talking to Sakusa-san right now, but that doesn’t mean that you get to kick back and relax. We still have ten more minutes until lunch break. That’s ten minutes of three-on-three matches.”
Atsumu openly gaped. Hoshiumi blushed in embarrassment. Komori was rubbing the back of his neck apologetically whereas Kageyama nodded in determination and set off to the court before you even finished speaking.
Sakusa… well, he still looked slightly uncomfortable, but there was a hint of a tiny smile on his face. And when the boys left with hanging heads to join an overly eager Kageyama for their next match, no one even thinking of a retort to you basically reprimanding them, he had to admit, you were quite impressive.
The coaches were standing farther back, observing this interaction with interested eyes. A reluctant Sakusa led you to a far corner of the gymnasium, a volleyball in his hand and a clipboard in yours. And then they watched you make him show his drill again, and again, and again, and again, and again until finally they blew the whistle to announce that it was time to eat something.
And even then, you gripped your board tighter, your pencil trembling in your hand and your teeth nipping at your lower lip - you hadn’t gotten enough.
The realization struck Sakusa like thunder, his palm stinging from the repeated impact and for a second, he feared you would ask him to do the same after lunch, or worse, ask him to stay a bit longer.
But when his stomach started growling like an angry animal demanding food, you let him go with a sheepish smile and turned away from him.
He left the gymnasium without a single glance back.
Later that night at dinner
“I didn’t know (Name)-chan would be here as well. What a nice coincidence!”
“I’m not surprised. (Surname)-san is really hard-working. It was only a matter of time until she was scouted.”
“Right? I said so too when I first saw her at one of our practice matches! She’s so dedicated, I can’t help but want to work that much harder when I see her give her best like that!”
“Yes. I understand what you- “
“Would you two shut it and eat your food in silence? You’re making me lose my appetite.” Sakusa glared at the two unsuspecting boys, who were eating with their mouths filled.
Kageyama and Komori gave him baffled looks, rice corns decorating their cheeks like freckles. Sakusa had to glance away, lest he released whatever he just swallowed down his throat.
Why did no one around him practice basic table manners?
As if to answer his question, their attention was caught when a tray was smacked harshly on the table, the water inside the glass swishing and threatening to almost spill over the rim. A mop of furious snow-white hair invaded their sight and Hoshiumi dropped himself next to Komori unceremoniously.
His eyes shone like molten gold and his lips quirked into a smirk. “‘sup?”
“‘sup indeed?” Atsumu echoed, plonking down right next to him.
“What’cha guys talking about?”
With the addition of Hoshiumi and Atsumu, they resumed their conservations and filled the table with cheerful chatter again. They were going over today’s practice matches, exchanging tips and tricks on how to improve their form and techniques.
You crept up so quietly that none of them noticed until after you were seated next to Sakusa and right in front of Kageyama. The former scowled, the latter nodded acknowledgingly.
“So, how come Shōyo and Tsukishima-kun aren’t present?” You asked as you began to eat your meal.
The others stopped and listened, their interests now piqued.
Having all of the attention on him clearly made him uncomfortable, but he still managed to answer your question without stuttering over his own words, “Tsukishima was invited to a different training camp for first years back in Miyagi and Hinata…”
You lifted your brows expectantly, your chopsticks hovering mid-air as if they too were waiting with stiff anticipation for him to finish his sentence.
“... he didn’t get invited anywhere.”
The ball of rice slipped through your chopsticks and fell back into the bowl with a plop. You blinked. Everyone else blinked.
They looked from you to Kageyama, blinked again, and then back to you, as if to say why is she so perplexed, who is this Hinata, why isn’t she talking, hey is she going to eat that piece of salmon or can I get-
Sakusa shot them a glare and effectively silenced them. It was around then that you managed to regain your composure. You picked up a piece of salmon and dropped it into Hoshiumi’s bowl, your eyes still focused on Kageyama.
“Are you serious?”
“No, I don’t believe you.”
“Wha- Why would I lie?” He scowled, his expression looking a lot more grim than he intended it to.
But you knew Kageyama well enough by now to know that this stemmed from confusion as to why you wouldn’t believe him. You waved your chopsticks in the air and said, “Come on, you know I don’t mean it like that. It’s just surprising to not see him hopping around here.”
He snorted at the mental image of Hinata jumping from one player to another, asking billions of questions and demanding everyone to give him one more toss. He drank his miso soup and then moved on to the pickled radish with a mouthful of rice.
You were still playing around with the salmon, occasionally dropping some in Hoshiumi’s bowl, who looked at you like you were his hero. He wolfed down each bite you took, an imaginary pale tail slipping out of his lower back to wag harshly until you graced him with another piece.
Komoya and Atsumu had to stifle their laughter at the image, whereas Sakusa gave them all a look of disgust. Or maybe he was just watching their interaction. Truth be told, you had difficulty discerning between the two.
“But then again, “ you started after sipping a few spoonfuls of the spicy broth, “He did suck at everything else aside from jumping really high and spiking really fast. So… I guess I kinda should’ve seen this coming.”
At the words jumping really high, Hoshiumi snapped his head to you, his tail no longer wagging. His eyes were boring right through your skull and into your brain, his interest now fully unlocked.
At the words spiked really fast, the demon setter came out of Atsumu and he too tried to unravel your string of thoughts to look into them with a single stare.
But before they were able to bombard you with a million questions, Sakusa had already spoken up, “How come none of your teammates are here?”
Your voice grew tenfold and you squared your shoulders like you were ready to fight whoever dared to oppose you, “I know! It’s crazy! I was convinced they would scout Mori-kun! It’s unbelievable! There’s no better libero than him! No offense.” You quickly shot Komori an apologetic smile, to which he just beamed brighter.
“But it’s such a shame.“ You deflated again, your last piece of salmon now between Hoshiumi’s lips, “I know he would’ve never agreed, but I was secretly hoping they’d call Ken-chan too…”
“Ken-chan? Who’sh dat?” Hoshiumi asked with his mouth full.
Sakusa glowered at him and then turned back to you, “Your setter truly isn’t half-bad.”
When Atsumu was about to chime in with what was going to be no doubt a comment gloating about his own skill, Sakusa’s lips curled into a snide smirk and he added, “It makes the world of a difference in a team when you have a setter with a brain.”
What was supposed to be a “harmless” comment turned into a war declaration. Atsumu sputtered and choked on his water, a thousand and one profanities swimming on the tip of his tongue, ready to drown whoever was willing to listen. Kageyama, who for some reason also felt addressed, lowered his head in shame and muttered an almost inaudible, “I can’t help but move on pure instinct…”
Komori and Hoshiumi exchanged confused looks and you were too busy sulking into your half-eaten rice bowl to really register what was going on. You merely sighed, completely oblivious to the little fight going on over your head.
You faintly registered the hysteric voice of a riled up Atsumu and the calm as a deep sea voice of a provocative Sakusa and shoved a slice of seasoned tofu in your mouth.
Later that night when Atsumu left their sleeping quarters to empty his bladder in the toilet, he saw that the lights in the cafeteria were still on. Too tired to really care, he brushed it off and trudged back to bed with one hand scratching his head and the other resting in the fold of his sweatpants.
You felt something burning through your back, so you turned around to be met with a glowering Hoshiumi. His hands were balled into fists at his side and he was frowning so hard, you would think he was trying to eradicate your very existence from this universe.
“Hoshiumi-san?” You asked meekly.
His eyes seemed even more explosive than before when he narrowed them into two tiny slits, “Why are you like this?”
You stood there, your hand frozen mid-motion as you were about to write something down. The sounds of the volleyballs and the whistle of coach Hitaki faded to white noise.
Your heartbeat picked up a notch when Hoshiumi hmphed and stalked closer to you, his every step thundering through the gymnasium. There was no trace of the playful, carefree puppy whom you had shared your dinner with last night. He was a predator now with zero care for personal space and you tensed, feeling his breath ghosting over your nose.
“Why are you not surprised?”
“You’re supposed to go all ‘Wah!!! Hoshiumi-san! You’re so cool! How can you jump so high like that?’”
(Cue crickets chirping.)
Atsumu and Komori, who had been practicing together a few meters away, turned their heads with disbelieving looks to the two of you. Hoshiumi stood in front of you, expecting, no, demanding an answer.
“Excuse me?” You stammered.
How does one even respond to a statement like that?
Your answer wasn’t satisfactory for him and his voice grew even louder (where in that body did he hide this volume?), gaining even more attention from the other students. The words that left his lips flew over your head and thrust themselves into your ear, poking around every corner in your brain before they shot out of your other ear.
Faintly, very very faintly, you thought of Yamamoto and how he too threw a tantrum when he didn’t receive the kind of reaction for his plays that he expected of you (or of anyone else for that matter).
You decided to just go with your gut and treat him the same way you did with Yamamoto - punch him in the metaphorical gut to get him back down to earth. Sweet-talking or pretending to be blown away would only worsen the situation; and thus you prayed that this following approach would work.
“With all due respect, Hoshiumi-san, you got scouted for the national training camp for Japan’s most promising volleyball players. It goes without saying that you’re a monster.”
His mouth snapped shut immediately, but you weren’t done yet. “Please take a look around. We are surrounded by incredibly good people here. If I lost my footing anytime someone showed some extraordinary talent in this camp, I would never get to actually assess and analyze your skill.”
A bright red bud sprouted from his nose and spread throughout his entire face, rendering him speechless. The predator had retreated. You smiled.
Apparently he and Yamamoto were indeed quite similar. He turned away, flustered from having you call him a monster so naturally as if you hadn’t given it second thought - like you genuinely took is as the truth.
Before you even had a chance to see his boiling head and the crimson bleed into the white of his hair, he had already sprinted off, a volleyball in one hand and his shirt clutched in the other.
The rest of the day passed by in a breeze.
You continued to observe the different playstyles, writing everything down until you felt your wrist go numb. It was vastly different having two high-calibre coaches around. With the speed and the amount you were writing, you were sure you were about to break some kind of record.
The boys were shy and hesitant to talk to you in the beginning, but quickly opened up when they noticed how involved you got. They were eager to try out your strategies and quick to reassure you when your predictions turned out to be wrong.
Every fear that they would deem you useless and unnecessary was wiped clean whenever one of your predictions did turn out to be accurate. And the more time you spent around them, the more rallies they played around you, the easier it became for you to anticipate their next move.
The coaches in particular were interested in you and how you took your notes. When coach Hibarida asked you for your notebook, you squealed and jumped back with a bright blush on your face.
“Not yet,” you had said to him. “I’m not ready yet.”
And by the time everyone went to bed to give their muscles some well-deserved rest, the lights in the cafeteria were still on.
You were late.
With your heart pounding against your ribcage and a jam-packed toast shoved into your throat, you raced to the gymnasium. You felt the all too familiar stitch in your side, as if a little asshole was sitting in the fold of your stomach to remind you of your non-existent stamina.
You half-choked on the bread once you arrived and came to a sudden halt just as you were about to crash into another body. Sakusa leapt away before he could relive a certain traumatic incident and stared at your hair.
A tiny, amused smile graced his lips at your state. “Good morning.”
You looked up to see the strands disheveled, stretching up to the ceiling and struggling to reach every corner of the wall. Flustered, you rushed to pat your hair back down, “Good morning…”
“Dreams too sweet to wake up?”
His mocking tone flipped a switch in you and you took a step closer to him, glowering like a flickering flame from below him. The ambers grew and exploded into a fit of wildfire, “I’ll show you what I was up to last night.”
Before he had a chance to respond, you had already turned around and with a loud voice called, “Tobio-kun! Motoya-kun! Hoshiumi-san! Do you have a minute?”
After a quick ten minutes of you talking to them, and then to the coaches, it was decided that they would play a three-on-three match. And you would get to play coach with one of the teams.
Atsumu, Sakusa and another incredibly talented libero from a small school in Osaka on one side of the court.
Kageyama, Hoshiumi and Komori on the other side of the court, with you next to them.
One round. Fifteen points.
The coaches had been curious what you were up to and decided to watch while the others had their own matches. The first few points were uneventful, one team scored and then the other, and your eyes flicked from left to right, untiring from all the stimulation. Once they reached a tie at five points, you called for a time-out and crouched on the ground.
You placed your notebook where the boys could see and turned it upside down for them to read. Your pen was used to gesture to the points of the court you had drawn on and you rattled down the numbers as you talked.
Hoshiumi looked at you like you had grown a second head when you began to talk about the probability of each scenario taking place. It was as if the words and numbers floated numbly around his head, each accompanied by a question mark.
Kageyama nodded vividly, his eyes fixed on the paper as he memorized your strategy within a nanosecond. “Understood. I can do it.” He said.
Komori, on the other hand, patted your shoulder with a grin, “Man, you’re really cool, (Name)-chan. How did you come up with this on the spot?”
You lifted your head, looking surprised, “I didn’t.”
The whistle interrupted your conversation, leaving you unable to further explain. You gave him an encouraging smile and sent them back to the court. While their backs were turned to you, you made sure to give a lift of your brow full of mirth to Sakusa, who was eyeing you warily from the other side of the net.
Today, you felt like proving yourself.
The rally started off simple.
Kageyama served. The opposing libero received it effortlessly and sent it to Atsumu, who was waiting for the delicious pull of his muscles. His eyes roamed the court before the ball even met his hands and from the corner of your vision you saw Komori’s fingers twitch. He was doing as you said.
He remained motionless in the far right corner of the back of the court, his tongue sneaking out in a show of focus.
“Remain on one side of the court and stick there.”
“But wouldn’t that be too obvious? Sakusa wouldn’t fall for a trap like that.”
He resisted the urge to follow the trail Atsumu’s eyes left and rooted his feet deeper into the ground, his thick brows squeezing in a line of resolution. The rhythmic beating of his heart thundered through his skull and he closed his eyes for a brief second and inhaled.
“That’s exactly what he’ll think too. He’ll be thinking about whether I set him up on purpose.”
“Do you think he’ll be able to see through that?”
“That’s what I’m hoping for.”
“Sakusa-san is smart. He’s going to be suspicious and think I’m trying to fool him into thinking I’ve set up a trap for him. If everything goes according to plan, he should spike to exactly where you’re standing, in the very last second after pretending to spike to the empty spot.”
“So you’re saying he’s going to act like he’s walking right into the trap?”
“I’m saying once he’s tangled in our webs, there’ll be no escape for him.”
Komori risked a peek at the empty spot in front of him, a motion that didn’t go unnoticed by Sakusa. Just like you said, he waited until after his palm already kissed the ball and flicked his wrist in the last possible moment to send the ball flying.
But instead of diving forward like he pretended to, Komori remained rooted to the ground and voilâ - the ball fell right into his lap like it was called by its owner. He easily received it and sent it to Kageyama in a high arch, who then dumped the ball without a second thought to the other side of the net.
Sakusa stood with his mouth gaping, only now realizing that he had been thoroughly played with. Atsumu snarled, infuriated, and smiled dangerously in your direction.
“I don’t know what miss coach over there just said to them, but keep yer eyes on the ball, Omi-kun. I feel like this is just the beginning.”
And boy, was he right.
The last two days had proven to be good resource material because almost all of your predictions came out true. Hoshiumi and Kageyama scored one point after another, keeping the rallies short and sweet. Komori caught every single serve and spike thrown his way and there was literally nothing that could stop their momentum now.
The short match was over before it even properly began, and you stood there, at the edge of the court, with your clipboard pressed against your chest and your lips pursed into a shit-eating smirk. Your brow was raised and you lifted your chin haughtily when your eyes met those of Sakusa and Atsumu.
You glanced at your notes, the sting in your wrist fading to a dull ache. You felt feather light when Hoshiumi and Komori sprinted your way, giddy on your feet when Kageyama looked at you with awe in his blue eyes.
Your heart soared.
All of your hard work was beginning to pay off.
“Please tell me you finished for the night?”
You chuckled into your phone and cast your eyes on the ground. “You’re beginning to sound a lot like my dad, Mori-kun.”
“That’s because I care!” His low laugh filled the line and even from all these miles away, it still gripped you and tugged you along with it.
“Don’t worry, I’m not. I’m actually outside right now. Thought I would go for a walk.”
“What? At this hour? On your own? (Name)-chan, don’t you know- “
“Mori-kun!” You groaned and kicked a pebble, “You’re doing it again.”
“Right, right. You’re a big girl now. Sorry.” He didn’t need to stand in front of you for you to see the sheepish smile on his face.
“How’s your ankle doing?”
“Much better. I should be able to play again soon. Thankfully, it was just a minor sprain.”
It was silent for a while. No words were exchanged. Just the whistle of the wind shifting through your hair and the rustling of his sheets whenever he moved. There was something on the tip of your tongue, waiting to be let out. Right there, itching and kicking against the roof to see the light of the day itself.
The two of you spoke at the same time.
Silence once more.
Your voices met again.
“You go first!”
You were the first to dissolve into snorkeling laughter. It filled the humid air and joined the singing mosquitoes - the only two sounds in the otherwise quiet park.
“I’m sorry, you were saying?” You asked once you eventually managed to calm down again.
He seemed hesitant at first, as if he was trying to search for the right words. His voice came out more hushed and unsure than you had ever heard from him.
“We’re all very proud of you. Keep it up and let’s win nationals together!”
Warmth raced through your heart and suddenly the image of all of you together on the court - on the national court of Japan - flashed in front of your eyes. The boys huddled together in the center, sweaty and exhausted, but with the widest grins they could possibly wear.
In the middle of them, you were hoisted up by Yaku and Kai, seated on their shoulders with the trophy in your hands.
Let’s win nationals together.
“Yeah, let’s win this together.”
Later that night while you were working on the notes you had gathered that day, your phone lit up from the corner of your vision. You were too lost in the numbers in front of you to really register the light, so you continued to scribble and rack your brain.
A tiny bubble popped in the center of your screen. It read as follows.
‘Go to sleep, little one. That tiny thing called your brain needs its rest too. 👊’
A Hendery fic that’s part of our Halloween Series!
Summary: Hendery is sweet, charming, and kind, but he possesses a dark secret. Unfortunately, Mr. Hyde won’t stay quiet for much longer.
Pairing: Chemical Engineer!Hendery x female reader (college student)
Genre: angst, smut, fluff, violence, murder, horror
Word Count: 10.5k
Warnings: mental illness mention, blood mention, knife mention, murder described, death of side character, possessiveness, cursing, smut: semi-public sex, protected sex, thigh riding, nipple sucking, slapping, choking, rough sex, car sex mention, daddy kink, size kink, slight degradation, dirty talk.
(A/N: WELLL Halloween is here you guys!! Thank you for the support we have gotten for this series, I hope you enjoy this fic inspired by the iconic Jekyll&Hyde story!❤️🥺)
“Oh, hello Hendery..”
“Hello, Mr. Hyde..”
“And how did it go today..with the Mayor?”
“That’s none of your concern, Hyde. Leave it to me.”
The dark voice lets out a haunting chuckle. “Hendery..what would you like me to do?”
“Nothing! I said, it’s none of your concern!” Hendery slams his hand down onto the counter.
“But it’s our lab, isn’t it?”
Hendery cups his face as he breaks down to tears. “Why?! Why won’t you leave me alone?!”
“Oh..Hendery, you can’t get rid of me, no matter what crazy toxins you concoct. I’ll be here, I’ll always be here.”
“I don’t see what my difference my presence here makes..” You roll your eyes and step out of your father’s black SUV.
The driver closes the door behind you while your father takes your hand in his and waves to the crowd with the other.
Today, you’ve joined him for a fundraising event in City Hall. The program is designed to bring awareness to a Missing Persons Search Team Fund. Lately, people have been going missing at an alarming rate and your father, the Mayor, is unsure of what to do about it. The police and volunteering citizens had done the best they could to conduct thorough search parties but no one was ever found. These people varied in age and description so there was no way to formulate a possible killer’s profile.
Your father initiated a curfew for everyone to abide by until they found the missing people and the kidnapper..dead or alive.
You were a college student and your institution was about two hours away, but your father didn’t feel safe and insisted on you staying at home while taking classes online. You did as he said, for you knew that this must’ve been difficult for him, considering your own dealings with the death of your mother. She was found murdered in an alleyway a few years ago, prompting a change in your father’s life. He was determined to become a leading figure in society that would bring down the city’s crime rate. And it worked...until now.
“The more people we have on board, the faster we find these people and the better I look, the better OUR family looks.” He whispered into your ear while displaying a wide smile to his “fans.”
You smiled as well and nodded.
And so, you found yourself seated at a round table by yourself as your father spoke with other leaders, sergeants, politicians, and the fund creators.
And what difference did your presence make? Nothing.
You scrolled through your phone and huffed. You saw pictures of your friends back at college. There had been a Halloween party the night before and they all posted pictures of themselves in their costumes looking drunk and happy.
You were jealous to say the least. You just wanted a normal life, but now even Halloween was canceled because of the curfew your father put in place.
You didn’t notice that a slender man with brown hair sat down beside you as you pouted.
“You must be so bored..” His low voice spoke.
You looked up at him and smiled. “Hi..yeah, I am very bored.”
The man in a nice dress shirt and tie laughed and then you realized you may have insulted one of the organizers.
“Oh!” You sat up straight in your chair and put your phone down. “I’m so sorry..I didn’t mean to offend—“
“Oh..of course not, sweetheart. I’m quite bored myself.”
Sweetheart. The way that word left his lips made your heart tremble.
You nodded and stared at his heart-shaped lips, maybe a little too long. “I see..” You looked away. “My name is y/n..the mayor is..”
“Your father..yes, is that the only reason for you being here?” He tilted his head while smirking.
You looked to the side and hesitated. You looked up to him with wide eyes.
“Y-yes, I’m sorry but—“
“Don’t be sorry, my name is Dr. Wong, but you can call me Hendery.”
Your mouth fell open. He looked like he was your age, but he already had a doctoral degree? You were stunned.
“I know..I’m kinda young, but I skipped a few grades.”
Your eyes widened. “Wow! That’s so cool, what do you do?”
Hendery smiled when you looked shocked by his title and complimented him. “I’m the leading chemical engineer at the WCT Lab..”
You gasped, WCT lab was responsible for breakthrough advancements in technology as well as medical advancements. That was what your city was primarily known for. And for this young man to be the leading engineer was amazing. Why was he sitting with you, a college student? Surely, you were only insulting his intelligence.
Hendery was pleased by your surprised look once again, he felt a sense of pride.
“Dr. Wong, I mean, Hendery..that’s amazing! You guys have done some wonderful things at that lab. Well..of course, you already know that.”
You closed your eyes. Oh how dumb you must’ve sounded to him.
But Hendery only adored you even more when you got flustered.
“It’s okay, y/n..It happens all the time. People don’t expect that from me, someone that’s just 21 years old, to be the head of all projects.”
You nodded, then looked to your father who was still speaking with several men and women of importance surrounding him.
“Why aren’t you up there with him?” You turned back to Hendery. “You’re just as important as them.”
Hendery glanced up at your father then back at you. Something about his gaze felt..good. His eyes were intense but made you feel like it was just the two of you in the room. You felt warm as you saw his shirt hug his biceps as he leaned forward.
“My presence doesn’t make a difference either, but it does make me look good.” He gave a wink as his smile widened.
Your face became warm.
“I’ll tell you what..come with me for a moment, I’m going to show you a cool trick.”
He stood up and held his hand out for you to take. You held it and smoothed your dress down as you stood up.
Hendery thought you were beautiful, unlike anyone else. You were like a butterfly with a unique pattern of vibrant colors on its wings. Your touch was delicate like one too.
He took you to the kitchen in the hall. No one was there but the two of you.
You stood by the island in the center.
“What are we doing here?”
“Are you nervous?” Hendery shuffled through the freezer.
“No..” You lied as you looked around for the closest knife to pick up just in case he tried anything.
“The knives are to your right.” He called out, as if hearing your thoughts.
You chuckled and leaned against the counter while feeling embarrassed.
“Okay, so I’ve got some ice..” He placed a few ice cubes onto the countertop and then reached over for the salt dispenser.
“And some salt..”
You nodded, unsure of where he was going with this. “Okay.”
“Now, hold your hand out.” He smiled at you again.
Your brows furrowed but you did as he said.
He placed his hand over yours. Your skin was smooth and warm, his touch was gentle as he slowly traced his fingertips over your knuckles.
He stood so close to you, you could feel his breath on your forehead.
Your eyes grew as a silent moment rested between the two of you, you looked up at him as if no one had ever held your hand before.
He cleared his throat and looked away from your eyes and to your hand. “I’m going to put some salt in your palm, then I’m going to place ice on it, simple right?”
Hendery smiled again and glanced down at your lips.
He poured the salt out then put about three ice cubes into your hand.
“Now, close your hand.”
You do as he says and after a few seconds you wince in pain.
A burning feeling shoots through your hand, you open your palm out and shake the ice to the floor.
“Oh my God, Hendery! What the hell was that?” You look up in pain.
“You see, salt lowers the melting point of ice..hence why you briefly experienced the burning sensation.”
“I could’ve gotten frostbite!”
Hendery only laughed harder. “Y/n...you wouldn’t be so stupid as to let it stay long enough for that...but I am.”
You looked up at him questioningly.
He poured salt out into his own hand and placed ice onto it.
He shut his hand and smiled. You watched him intensely. How could he endure this type of pain for so long?
“Hendery..that’s enough, you should stop now.”
You go to grab his hand, but he turns.
“No, no, I’m fine, I promise.”
“Surely, that must be painful, Hendery!”
“Does it impress you?” He turns when you try to open his hand again. He smirks while he watches you freak out.
“No..no! It doesn’t, it’s freaking me out actually!”
Hendery pouts with his hand still closed. “Oh no..I wanted to impress the pretty girl.”
You shook your head. “Let me see your hand.”
He turns again.
“I’ll let you see it, if you let me take you out some time.”
You tilted your head. “Oh my God, that’s why you did this? Hendery..why didn’t you just ask?” You peel his hand open and see red, burnt skin. Several lesions have been created.
Your eyes widened but Hendery only adores your face while you hold his hand.
“So is that a yes?” He pays no attention to the burns on his palm, knowing that they’d go away soon enough if he just drank the right thing for it.
“You’re crazy, but yes, you can take me out.”
[Two Days Later]
You and Hendery swapped phone numbers later that night. You agreed to go to the street art fair where you would walk around and learn more about each other.
Hendery waved to you as he walked over to the entrance.
He looked cooler now, in a flannel and jeans while aviator sunglasses covered his eyes.
His hair had a slight wave to it and hung more loosely than it did the first time you met.
“Hey Doc, how’s your hand?”
Hendery held his palm out to you and to your surprise, you saw nothing that would indicate he had burned himself just two days prior. His palm looked normal.
“All healed up, I told you I’d be fine.”
He smirked then took your hand and led you through the gate.
The fair was calm, you got to talk about your major in college and why you were home this year.
Hendery told you that he got his degree overseas and came back here to help your town. He said that he always felt drawn to it for it needed so much assistance, he felt he was the one to help.
You liked his dedication to his craft, but even more, you liked watching him talk about it. His eyes were shielded from you, but even then you could tell that he was passionate and in love with his work.
“Well..I guess it’s time to go home..gotta get back before curfew.”
You stared up at him. “You’re right. I had a—“
“Y/n! What are you doing here? I thought you were home.”
It was none other than your father. He hustled towards you. Hendery’s smile fell as he watched him walk over.
“I’ll go mad if I spend any more time in the house, dad.” You sighed and crossed your arms.
His focus shifts from you and to Hendery. “And young man, it’s nice to see you again, but what has my daughter done to warrant your presence?”
You rolled your eyes, your finger rubbed your temple.
Hendery chuckled softly. “Your daughter and I had a wonderful time today, we were just saying goodbye.”
Your father frowned and looked back at you.
“Well...goodbye then.” He stepped towards you.
You turned to leave with your father before you could be embarrassed any more. Your father was always like this since your mother died, overprotective and on guard.
“Y/n…” Hendery’s soft voice called out.
You turned back to look at him. Your face looked gorgeous in the sunset, the sun made your eyes glitter and your lips were shaped perfectly. Of all the art he had seen today, you, in this moment, were the prettiest sight he’d ever seen.
“I’ll..see you later.”
You smiled and nodded. “Of course.”
When you got to your father’s car, he scolded you on how you shouldn't be interested in speaking with anyone right now, for everyone was a suspect.
“You have to be careful, no one is safe!”
You leaned your head against the window.
“I understand, father, but all of my friends are at college right now, would it really hurt if I go out every now and then?”
“Yes! Yeah it would hurt, why? Because you could go missing or lose your life!”
“Why are you so strict? He’s a nerd, what harm could he possibly do to me. I thought you’d like him, I know mom would’ve--”
You stopped when you realized what you had said. Your mom's death was something that you were both still grappling with. You tried not to speak of her, for it only made both of you more upset.
Your dad sighed, he held back tears. “Y/n..I’m sorry..I’m sorry I’m this way..Sometimes I can’t help it, but..I’m just worried, I-“
“I know, dad..let’s just go home.”
When you got inside he spoke to you again before you headed to your room. “That boy..If you want to see him again..He’ll be at the soup kitchen on Thursday, he’s always helping out there.”
You turned and smiled. “Thanks, dad.”
You had volunteered at the soup kitchen a few times during high school, it was a rewarding experience, for you got to help out while hearing from members of the community that you wouldn’t usually meet or speak to. They varied in age and overall life experiences, each one had a story to tell.
You stood in the utilities closet of the kitchen alone and put your apron on, but struggled to tie it in the back.
“Damn it..” You whispered, you just couldn’t find the other strap.
Then you felt a presence behind you.
“Do you need help?” You heard a familiar voice say.
But before you could spin around to face him, his fingers tapped along your waist on both sides and grabbed the straps. He stepped closer, leaning down to breathe against the back of your neck.
A chill ran through your body as the apron tightened around your body perfectly.
You finally spun around to face him.
He watches his name fall from your lips.
He smirks and licks his lips. “How’d you know?”
You laughed, but his intense and low gaze on your face made you weak.
“Your voice..I’d recognize it anywhere.”
Hendery blushed and laughed.
“Do you like my voice, sweetheart?”
Another chill vibrates through your body and you find yourself pressing your legs together.
You breathe heavily and nod. “I do..and I’d like it if you’d call me at night...when you leave work of course.”
“Understood.” He licks his lips again and turns to leave. You follow behind him and out to the main dining area where you both serve food together.
During your break, you watched him go to each table to talk to all of the families eating. He grinned as they asked him how he’d been doing since the last time they saw him the week before.
He even sat down next to any elderly attendees that needed assistance with eating their food.
Your heart fluttered. He was so kind, caring and handsome on top of it all.
“How long have you two been seeing each other?” A man said. His voice broke you out of the trance Hendery had you in.
“Oh..” You turned to him as you leaned against a wall.
“We aren’t dating.”
The man that spoke to you was none other than Yuta, the head chef and owner of Osaka Moon, the best restaurant in the city. He was in charge of providing food for the soup kitchen every Thursday and did a wonderful job each time from what you had heard. Everyone loved his five star meals.
He smiled softly. “Well..if you continue to look at him like that..it won’t be long til you do.”
“Like what?” Your brows knitted.
Yuta only chuckled and shrugged his shoulders before walking away.
But he was right, you started dating. You found yourself FaceTiming Hendery every night until you fell asleep. You spoke about everything, never running out of topics to talk about and never getting bored. His personality, like Cinderella’s slipper, fit yours incredibly well.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the only thing that fit perfectly.
[1 Month Later]
One day at the soup kitchen, the two of you found yourselves knocking over cans of fruit in the kitchen closet.
Your legs wrapped around his waist as he slid in and out of you for the first time. You just couldn’t hold back anymore. You wanted him badly and a kiss just wasn’t enough.
He covered your mouth with his hand, for your moans were beautiful but grew increasingly louder as he rubbed your clit.
He breathed heavily into your neck. “Sweetheart, I’m going to ruin you later for being so loud.”
You let out a mewl while the wetness between your legs increased at his words.
Your nails scratched his back as he pinned you against a cabinet.
And later that day, he did ruin you in his car before he let you out to go home. He parked just a few blocks away, luckily his windows were tinted so no one could see him bringing you to paradise in the back seat with your hands tied behind your back with his belt.
You laid down together when you finished.
His fingers played in your scalp as your back rested against his chest. He kissed your neck and listened to you breathe.
“How’s school?” He said in between kisses.
You took his other hand in yours and intertwined your fingers. “It’s okay, finals are stressful.”
“Well, you know I’m here to help.” He kisses you again.
You smiled. “Of course, but I know you have your own issues to deal with. How are things at the lab?”
You knew he had been frustrated lately because some of his appeals for certain projects had been denied by the national organizations. You failed to remember the very specific details he told you the night before, but he was overjoyed that you remembered him even mentioning it.
He smiled to himself, tucking your hair behind your ear as you yawned.
“Things are okay, it'll all work out, I’m sure.”
“How can you be so sure?”
Hendery chuckled. “Because they all give in to me sooner or later.” His voice sounded a bit different then, it was deeper, rougher.
Deep into the night after Hendery drops you off home, he drives down an empty street.
“When will you tell her?”
“Tell her what?”
“About me! About us..”
“She will never know about you because you don’t matter!” Hendery says sternly.
“Fuck you! I’m the reason why you got this far, you fool!”
He grips the steering wheel and winces. “I like her..a lot. I can’t hurt her. I won’t hurt her.’
“And how many times have you said that before? Hmm?”
Hendery blinks slowly and looks to his rear view mirror.
“The clock strikes 8 and the world goes empty, which poor, wandering soul will be our next victim?”
“‘Our?’ You’re on your own..”
“And when the blood is on my hands, don’t forget to look down at yours too..now shut up, and stop here..this girl looks lonely.”
“No..I won’t do that.”
“I wasn’t asking! Pull over!”
“No!” Hendery struggles, but pulls over and stops right beside a girl waiting at a bus stop.
“Hello..need a lift?”
[1 Week Later]
You hadn’t seen Hendery since that night, you knew that he was busy with work, but you didn’t think he’d be this busy.
“Hey.” You say once he answers the FaceTime call.
He looks disheveled and has bags under his eyes. His eyes look intense as he props the phone up beside his computer screen and continues to type.
“Are you still at the lab?”
Hendery feels soft when he hears your sweet voice, it calms him down. He stops typing and looks at you, all cuddled up in your blanket on the bed.
“Yeah..” he pouts, “I wish I could be there with you right now..”
“Oh? And what would you do if you were here?”
You raise an eyebrow.
“Ahhh you naughty girl, well..just for that, I’d only cuddle you..”
“Henderyyyy don’t be so cruel, what if I need you?”
“Then I’d hug you tightly and make you wait until the morning.” He winked and started typing again.
“What if I call you “daddy?” You whisper into the phone, knowing that it would drive him crazy.
His typing fingers stuttered for a moment but he exhaled and furrowed his brows as he continued his work.
“Baby? I haven’t seen you in so long, play with me..please.” You begged.
“No..not tonight, sweetheart.” He wasn’t even looking at the screen anymore.
“I said no!” He said angrily. You never heard him like this before. His voice was rough again and different, like it had doubled.
He looked at you then back at his computer screen.
He fidgeted and had trouble breathing for a moment, but you stayed silent.
“I’m—I’m sorry, I should go now, goodnight.”
He hung up before you could say goodnight.
That was the first of many moments that were strange to you. Hendery wasn’t as sweet sometimes. He’d be short with you even at the soup kitchen. When you tugged his shirt to pull him to the back he ignored you and fixed his hair.
He looked tired and you tried to pin it on him acting on the stress he was recently experiencing, but the truth was that it was much more complicated.
Late at night, Hendery would find himself fighting someone else. Someone that had been more intent on doing their own thing.
“Let’s take a walk in the park tonight.”
“No, Mr. Hyde..”
“Really? I think it would help you to relieve some stress.”
“I need to sleep..I feel terrible, I don’t even know what you’re doing anymore..why don’t you stop this? Why don’t you leave me alone so I can function like a normal person?” Hendery holds his head as he lays down on his couch.
“You can rest while I take care of the imbeciles out there, the more we kill, the happier we’ll be.”
“No!!” Hendery shouts. “How many more?! How many more must die at your hand? I will control you! You will not overrule me!”
He grabs a glass of green liquid from the coffee table and brings to his lips. He chugs it down as tears stream down his face, but soon he is thrown to the floor on his knees. He feels fingers in his throat, his eyes roll in the back of his head as veins protrude from his forehead. Then, out comes the liquid that he just struggled to swallow.
He balls his fists up and cries. “NOOOO!! That was the last of it!”
“It’s okay, Hendery, it’s time to go to sleep anyway. You’ll make more tomorrow, but you’ll be just as defenseless against me.”
“No, no, please don’t! Please don’t kill anyone else!”
“And what would you rather me do to gain satisfaction? Torture them until they BEG to be killed?” Mr. Hyde laughs sinisterly as Hendery drifts into unconsciousness.
The next morning, Hendery wakes to find himself covered in blood, he can’t remember how he got to his bed or whose blood is on him, but he sees the knife at the end of the bed covered in blood as well. He breaks down in tears and yells out for mercy as he realizes that he can no longer control Mr. Hyde.
[Two Days Later]
You meet up with Hendery for a Starbucks date.
“I’m sorry about the other night..the stress got to me.” Hendery smiles softly when he watches you burn your mouth with hot coffee.
The truth was that you like iced caramel macchiato but you wanted to be more “serious” around Hendery so you only drank black coffee like a “regular” adult.
You hissed as the hot liquid burned your tongue.
“How many times do I have to tell you?..just order what you want.” He giggled and sipped his own coffee.
“Eh, I know, but..isn't it a bit childish?” You asked with wide eyes.
Hendery chuckled and ran his hand down the side of your face. He adored you.
“No..nothing is childish if you enjoy it.”
You smiled. “Okay.”
You sat in silence most of the time as you both worked on your projects separately. Hendery still looked handsome, but strange. You’d glance up at him every now and then and see that his brows were always knitted and his lips moved like he was talking to himself.
He spoke quickly, so you could never make out what he actually said.
The bags around his eyes were red and his cheeks looked more sunken in like he hadn’t been eating well. His shirt was crushed, but when you first met him his shirts were always pressed and tucked in neatly. And his hair had grown out, like he hadn’t bothered to visit a stylist recently.
“Hendery..is everything alright?” You put your hand on his.
He quickly withdrew his hand and held it while glaring at you.
“I’m fine!” He said loudly, the few customers sitting nearby turned to the two of you when they heard his roar.
He realized he was loud and relaxed into his seat. “I’m sorry, again. I-I was just frightened.”
You nod slowly and put your hand back under the table.
Before the two of you departed each other, you gave him a hug and a kiss.
You walked towards your house as Hendery watched.
He felt pain in his heart when he watched you walk away with a defeated look. You were sad because of him, and he hated that. He just wanted to make you happy, he just wanted everything to be under control.
“Y/n..There’s a new art museum opening up on Friday, your father extended curfew just for it..would you like to go with me?”
You turned to him and smiled widely. “Is that a date?”
“Of course..we can spend some time in my car afterwards..if you want. Would that make you happy?” He gave you a wink.
You nodded. “As long as I’m with you, Hendery. I’m happy.”
[Two Days Later]
Hendery decides to have dinner with your father at his penthouse. He pretends to prepare a meal for him that was actually provided by Osaka Moon’s Catering company.
He had a maid make everything spotless and made sure to spend a little more time on his hair and outfit. He had to ensure that your father took him seriously, for he would plan to ask him once more for a donation from the city for his lab. They would be able to do more research this way.
He had posited the question once before, but gained a disappointing ‘no,’ as your father focused more on the missing people’s fund, however, Hendery believed it imperative for the lab to gain new resources and make new developments that would positively affect the city’s environment.
So tonight, he hoped that with some food and humor, he could convince the mayor.
“What are your intentions with my daughter? I see you have been seeing each other quite frequently lately..” your father took a bite of his steak and chewed while looking down at his plate.
Hendery smiled. “Your daughter and I have a wonderful relationship, I would say. She is very supportive and kind, the world could be better with more people like her.”
“Well, I certainly agree. Do you feel that you can protect her from this cruel world?” He looks up from his plate and looks sternly on Hendery.
Hendery swallows hard, but nods quickly. “Of course, I’d do anything to protect her.”
Cut the bullshit, get to the question.
A few more minutes pass. The two speak about wonderful changes that have occurred in the past year. Hendery even cracks a few jokes to get a chuckle from your father.
As things whine down and your father prepares to leave, Hendery leans forward and intertwines his fingers on the dining table.
“Mr. Y/l/n, I believe that you are a man of great intelligence, therefore, I believe that you will make the right call by supporting my lab.”
Your father raises his eyebrows and crosses his arms as Hendery continues.
“I believe that you will see the importance of funding our research at the lab. We will be able to make even more groundbreaking developments like we have in the past year. We need the resources should we continue.”
Your father thinks for a moment then shakes his head. “I am so sorry, son, but I cannot issue the funds to your lab at this time.”
Hendery sighs but the mayor continues.
“We are dealing with a huge crisis in our city right now, I have to help our citizens find their loved ones. Furthermore, with the holidays approaching, we must provide food and assistance to families in need. The budget for your lab is not there.”
“Yes, sir, I understand the importance of these things, but I have been asking for your assistance for these past few months now, we simply cannot go any further without it..” Hendery taps his finger against the table while trying to hold back. He swallows the grumbling in his chest.
His eyes stare intensely at the mayor, but the mayor is unfazed.
“I will not provide tax payers money to some boy that wants to do his little experiments..at the end of the day, your work being done is not a matter of life or death.”
Hendery twitches when he hears the mayor’s insult.
“Please..don’t make me do something I’ll regret.” He whispers lowly.
Your father leans forward in his chair.
“Is that a threat, boy?”
Hendery smirks and loosens his tie.
“I don’t know who the hell you think you are, but just because you gave me some food, doesn’t mean I will bend over and let you do what you will.”
Hendery laughs under his breath. “Your daughter did.”
Your father shoots up from the table.
“What did you say?!”
Hendery’s eyes narrow, his mouth grows into a creepy smile as he laughs. “You heard me!”
Your father walks around the table and grabs Hendery up by the collar, but Hendery grabs the steak knife and presses the sharp tip into his neck just deep enough to draw blood.
Your father freezes, his eyes widen in fear.
“Hendery, what in God’s name are you doing?!”
“Hendery isn’t here anymore, you fucking fool. You should’ve just listened to him the first time, now I have to take over because he was too weak!” Hendery’s voice comes out in a deep tone your father had never heard before. Venom practically leaves his tone as he speaks.
Your father stares in confusion as the knife presses in deeper.
“Listen, you worthless piece of shit. We thought you were smart but it turns out you’re just as dumb as any other bimbo in this shitty city. So let’s spell it out for you, give us the money or we will kill your daughter…”
His head snaps to the right. “We won’t kill her!” Hendery’s usual voice cries out.
“Shut up!” He snaps his head back to the left.
“You’re-you’re insane.” Your father stares into his red eyes and pale skin.
He looks strange and scary, like someone that was already dead.
This couldn’t possibly have been the same person he spoke to just a few minutes ago.
“Aren’t we all, mayor?” He chuckles and twists the knife, your father cries out in pain.
“Okay! Okay! I’ll give you the money!” Your father couldn’t lose you like he lost his wife. He wouldn’t mess up this time, he had to give Hendery whatever he wanted if he wanted you to stay alive and well.
Hendery nods. “Good.”
He lets the mayor go and laughs loudly while still wielding the knife in his hand and watching the Mayor run out.
Hendery wakes up at 9 P.M. He looks down at his hands and sees bruises across his knuckles.
He sits up straight on the bed and rubs his head.
“Shit..what did you do?”
But there’s no answer.
He missed the entire day because of Mr. Hyde. He was taking his life over, it seemed the potion was no longer having an affect on him, for he couldn’t remember where he was on most nights. But even worse, more recently it seemed he’d blackout during the days as well.
He looks at his phone and sees that he has 13 missed calls and several text messages from you.
“Damn it!” He curses and jumps up from the bed. He runs to the shower to see if he can go to the art museum before you left.
He called you several times as he drove to the museum but you didn’t answer, you ignored his calls because you were pissed he didn’t show.
You were busy speaking with Ten, a writer for the city’s newspaper. He was observing an artwork when he came across you staring at your phone with tears in your eyes.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
You looked up at him with a somber expression then broke down even more. He took you outside where you talked about what happened. He then told you a joke to make you laugh and about his job.
“I focus on stories that deal with art and culture, so of course I had to be here.”
“Oh, that’s very nice. The pieces in there are really interesting..well, at least from what I saw before I started crying like an idiot.” You shrugged your shoulders.
“Don’t say that..you’re not an idiot. I’m sure he has a reason..you just need to talk about it.”
You nod. “But Ten, it’s not just that. He’s been...different lately. I can’t speak with him very often because he gets upset..this was supposed to be our first date together in a long time. It was supposed to be a “first” for us.”
Ten nodded as he watched you sniffle. “Have you thought about leaving him?”
You shook your head. “I really like him...I just think we need more time, maybe we just have to work on communication.”
Ten gave you a smile. “I agree, if you think he’s worth it, then you’ll both find a way to work it out. Now, it’s 9:30..would you like me to drop you home before you lose a slipper, Princess?”
You felt your face become warm as you smiled.
Ten walked you home as the two of you continued to talk about painters and the artistic styles you enjoyed.
You never noticed Hendery watching the two of you from across the street.
He felt his heart race, an animalistic side was creeping out as he watched you laugh and smile with another man. Sure, he didn’t show up for your date, but did that mean that you should move on so quickly?
Hendery grows angry, he sticks his hands into the pocket of his hoodie and watches Ten give you a hug at your doorstep.
“I should just text her back and apologize.”
“And what will that do? She’ll just ignore you then go on a date with this guy tomorrow.”
“Thats nonsense, she wouldn’t do that to me.”
“Oh, Hendery, he wants her, she wants him, it’s clear to see. But you won’t believe it until she trips and conveniently falls on his dick, will you?”
Hendery shakes his head. “Shut up!”
“Why don’t we just get rid of him so you don’t have to worry about that happening?”
“No! No more murders.”
“But Hendery, what about the elderly man from this morning? Or the middle aged homeless person from the afternoon? Or how about the young girl from the bus stop?”
“Stop it, Hyde!”
“Hendery...it’s time for you to go to sleep.”
“No! No!! Don’t do this again!”
But Hyde takes over once more, following Ten as he walks back to the museum.
[The Next Day]
You wake up late in the afternoon and turn the TV on for the news. Your dad already left for work so it’s just you in the house.
“Breaking News, it was discovered this morning, a writer from The Chronicles has gone missing. He goes by the name Ten and his vehicle was found with the key in its ignition and the front door open. Ten was last seen at the opening for the new art museum on 45th street.. If you have any information on Ten’s whereabouts, please contact the police at 555-5127.”
Your mouth fell open. The friendly gentleman that you met the night before had gone missing. You instantly felt guilty as you realized that he dropped you home and put his life in danger for it.
Then, your doorbell rang.
You looked through the peephole and saw Hendery.
You bit your bottom lip and sighed. You had been avoiding him since he ditched you, but you should’ve known he would visit you sooner or later when he knew your dad wasn’t home.
You opened the door.
“Hi.” You said with tight lips.
Hendery looked at you with pleading eyes that almost broke your hard exterior. His hair was wavy and hung in his forehead. His eyes looked tired and his face looked drained, but he still looked handsome to you.
“Baby..I’m so sorry, can I come in?”
You widened the door. “Yeah..I guess..”
Hendery brought in a large bouquet of flowers in one hand and a large gift bag in the other hand.
You sat down on the couch and turned off the TV.
“Okay, baby, listen, I’ve been at the lab a lot lately, I haven’t had enough sleep and I..I decided to take a nap like an idiot. I overslept and missed our date, I’m so so sorry, please baby, I didn’t do it on purpose.” He says in one breath as he drops the bag down and gets on his knees in front of you.
Your eyes widen. “Okay! Okay, you don’t have to do that..”
“Do you forgive me?” Hendery’s eyes are round and watery.
You caress the side of his face with your hand while he looks up at you like you’re the messiah. “Hendery..we should talk, maybe you should take a break from the lab..you look tired.”
Hendery melts in your hand as he closes his eyes. “Sweetheart..I love your touch..”
“You’re stressing yourself out, maybe it’s time for a vacation.” You continue.
He places his hand over yours and brings it to his lips. He kisses it softly.
“I’m fine, baby. I promise.” His voice is gravelly and makes you weak.
You sigh. “Sit beside me…”
Hendery smirks, he’s able to change the topic so effortlessly once he hypnotizes you with his eyes and touch. “Why?”
You lick your lips. “Are you really teasing me right now? After what you did last night?”
Hendery chuckles and gets up onto the couch beside you. You take his face in between your hands and kiss him deeply. You both grow hot and kiss each other with more passion as you struggle to breathe steadily, your tongue brushing over his and his teeth nipping onto your bottom lip.
He pulls away abruptly. “Wait..there’s something I have to show you.”
You watch him reach into the gift bag and pull out a large box. He hands it to you and grins. “Open it, sweetheart.”
“What’s this?” You lift the sides carefully and open the top. You then see that it’s a beautiful dress, but not just any dress. As you hold it above your head to let it fall loose from the box, you see that it’s the black Gucci dress that you told him you loved. It was long sleeve but slit down the center with a plunging neckline.
You gasped. “For me?”
Hendery nodded when he saw your face light up.
“Oh my god! Hendery!” You turned to him with your mouth still agape.
He nodded. “You’re gonna look great in it, baby, but there’s something else..” he reaches into the bag and pulls out a small ring box.
He opens the box and shows you a dazzling emerald cut sapphire colored ring.
Your eyes widen even more. “Oh—oh my god!”
You fling your arms around him and hug him tightly.
He laughs as you freak out over your gifts and holds you to his chest. The two of you fall onto the couch and continue to make out.
“I love it, baby, thank you.” You say before kissing his neck.
He feels a chill run through his body as you lay on top of him. “It’s a promise ring, I promise to protect you and love you for as long as I live.”
You felt your legs weaken by his words.
“Hendery..I love you..” you kiss his collarbone.
Neither of you felt that it was early, for there was an undeniable connection that you had to each other. You couldn’t imagine yourselves with anyone else.
You sucked his skin in between your teeth and listened to him moan, the purplish marks you gave him standing bright and clear as the sunny day outside.
You then pulled the band of his sweatpants down to reveal his hard member and licked the tip leaking with pre cum already.
You forgot about everything as the two of you made love. You only felt him, his love, his embrace, his caring nature. You loved it all and yearned for him to be with you forever.
[New Year’s Eve]
Things had calmed down a bit since that day. Hendery started looking and feeling better as his lab received more than enough money to continue research and development projects.
You also noticed that the rate of people going missing each week had gone down significantly, as if the culprit was taking a break for the holidays.
You felt happier now that Hendery and your father were both happier. Things felt right when you had Hendery by your side for Thanksgiving dinner and for the entire day of Christmas. And now, you could ring in the new year together. You hoped that your future would remain as bright as these past few days had been.
Hendery bought you so many gifts for Christmas, you had to leave some of them in his place. But you didn’t mind it, as it gave you an excuse to stay over some nights. Surprisingly, your dad was okay with that.
Your dad lifted curfew for the holidays, meaning you and Hendery could go to the movies or ice skating whenever you had the chance. You also got to make out by the giant Christmas tree by city hall and snap a few pictures together.
And when the nights were cold, Hendery wrapped you in his arms and kept you warm. He’d whisper sweet words into your ear and wait for you to drift into sleep.
He was taking double the amount of his “medication” to hold Mr. Hyde back. He was able to create more of it with your father’s generous donation that allowed him to buy the chemicals necessary. But he couldn’t ignore the fact that a part of him missed Mr. Hyde, for he felt more..confident with him around.
Nonetheless, Hendery spun you around on the ballroom floor as you danced.
The city was having a countdown special at a mansion owned by Johnny, the owner of the popular greenhouse conservatory on the outskirts.
His place was beautiful and you found yourself in awe at all of the art on the walls.
“I didn’t know you could dance.” You looked impressed by his dancing skills.
Hendery blushed. “I didn’t know I could either, but I may have watched a YouTube video or two to prepare for this..” he gave you a wink.
“Ohh..I see.” You laughed out as Hendery watched your beautiful smile. You looked stunning in the dress he bought you. Your neck and cleavage looked wonderful and oh so tempting. Your makeup was also done well, even though he thought you were gorgeous without it.
Hendery looked dapper in his suit and smoothed back hair. His hand on your waist and the way he looked into your eyes as you danced close made you tremble.
Hendery couldn’t keep his eyes from drifting down to your chest. He breathed heavily and the beast inside him dared to crawl out at any moment.
He was struggling to hold him back, but your silky, revealing dress has their thoughts running wild. He’s growing impatient. Sooner or later, Mr. Hyde will take over if Hendery doesn’t hold him back.
Hendery clears his throat and lets go of your hand. “Excuse me, I have to go to the restroom..”
A look of concern crosses your face but you nod and watch him scurry to the bathroom.
In the meantime, you watch your father speak to the elites a few feet away. You take a sip of your drink and look to the other direction.
A lady walks over to you suddenly.
“Hello! You must be the mayor’s beautiful daughter! How are you?” The woman asked enthusiastically.
You gave a smile that your dad would’ve been proud of and shook her hand.
“Yes! I am his daughter and thank you so much, I’m flattered.” You chuckled.
She nods. “You look amazing, but I couldn’t help but notice the ring on your finger.”
She points to the ring on your hand that is holding the glass.
“Oh.. what about it?”
“It’s just...I could’ve sworn I saw it on TV or something..” she puts a finger to her chin.
You shrugged your shoulders.
“Ahh! Yes! That’s where I saw it, on the news I think, it was missing from a jewelry store! I think it’s worth about 50 grand!”
“What are you talking about?” Hendery pops up behind her.
He walks beside you and takes your hand in his. “Are you really trying to harass the Mayor’s daughter by accusing her of stealing a ring?”
The woman shook her head. “I am so sorry, you guys have a good night.” She walks away.
You turn to Hendery. “What was that?”
Hendery’s face relaxes when he looks back at you.
“I don’t know, but let’s dance.”
You dance for a few more minutes. Hendery starts to sweat and pull your body closer to his, he licks his lips as he watches your eyes fall low.
“Baby, I’m so sorry but I can’t take it anymore.” He takes your hand and leads you to the bathroom upstairs where things are a little quieter.
You stumble into the bathroom while kissing. Hendery fidgets his hand behind him and eventually finds the lock. He also flips the light switch.
He wraps an arm around you, picking you up and placing you to sit on the counter.
You continue to kiss him but Hendery is impatient.
He lifts his mouth from yours and yanks down the fabric of your dress to reveal your hard nipples.
“Fuck..this is what I’ve been dying to see all night.” He latches his mouth onto your nipple, sucking hard as you hold your body up with your hands behind your back.
Your head falls back as his tongue lays flat against the hard nub then circles around it.
“Ahh..Hendery, that feels so good.”
He looks up at you through dark eyes then bites you.
You yelp and look down.
“It’s ‘daddy’ to you.” His voice is grumbly and deep.
You nod. “Daddy, give me more please.” You look up, dewy-eyed.
Hendery sucks and pumps harder. His touch is aggressive, but you don’t want him to stop. Just as long as he was touching you.
“You’re so fucking beautiful, I could just watch you all night.” He whispers into your chest then flicks his tongue over your breast again.
He pulls the other side down now, your breast popping out like it was begging to be released from its restrictive cloth covering.
You sat there on the counter, choking back moans and tightening your legs together as he continued to suck your breasts dry.
“Daddy..please..I need you..need you in me.”
Hendery squeezes your breast harder as you squeal.
“Stand up.” He demands while walking back to a stool in the bathroom and taking his jacket off.
He sits down onto it and pats his thigh. “Show me how you’ll ride my cock.”
You walk over to him and part your legs before sitting down and facing him.
He glared at you sternly, no trace of love rests in his gaze as he watches you like a hungry animal.
“No underwear.” He clicks his tongue when he feels your bare pussy resting on his clothed thigh.
You shake your head.
“What a whore you are, I can’t wait to do whatever I want with you.”
You bite your lip and start to move back and forth, you feel your clit begin to gain satisfaction.
You press down harder and hold onto his shoulder while grinding onto his thigh.
Your chest feels weak. You feel so good as friction comforts that one spot.
“Does it feel good?” He whispers with a straight face.
“Y-yes, daddy, so good.”
“Then stand up.”
Your face contorts in confusion.
“Be a good girl and stand up.”
You reluctantly leave his thigh and stand up.
He grabs your hip with one hand and looks up at you through his lashes. He reaches under your dress with his other hand and delivers a short, sharp slap to your dripping folds.
“Ah!” You cry out, but you don’t dare move.
He runs his hand over it now, caressing it to soothe the pain.
Your breath hitches in your throat.
“Mmmm so wet, sweetheart.” He licks his lips and delivers another blow.
You would’ve fallen forward had he not been holding you with his other hand.
“You’ve been tempting me all night with this slutty dress, did you think you would escape punishment?” He growls.
And slap after slap you felt your skin getting warm, but your wetness never failing to coat his fingers.
“Please..fuck me.” You exhale after he slaps you.
“Get on your knees.”
You get on your knees and move to a position where you can suck his cock, but he shakes his head.
“No no no..on all fours.”
The cold tile aggravates your knees but you ignore it and focus more on the aching in between your legs.
Hendery gets on the floor behind you and flips up the bottom half of your dress so it bunches up by your waist.
He places his hands onto your breasts while grinding his bulge against your ass.
He watches you fidget below him, your essence coating his dress pants as you lay there and take him just like that.
Your pussy quivers each time his bulge just barely presses onto it.
You breathe heavily and moan.
“Do you think you can take me, sweetheart?” You hear him zip his pants down. A sense of relief floods your body.
“Without taking my fingers first?”
You can feel his tip hit your thigh. You move backwards and closer to him, just to feel him closer to you, anything to feel him.
“No, no stay still.”
He slides a condom on and watches your ass perk up in the air in anticipation. Your beautiful folds drip before him.
You gasp as he runs his tip in between them to coat it with your slick.
He smirks and grabs your waist while burying into hard and deep.
Your body falls onto the tile, you cry out loudly from the pain of him suddenly stretching you out but he wraps an arm under you and picks you up.
“I said, stay still!” He grumbles out again but his tone is harsher, darker.
Your arms shake as you hold your body up and attempt to adjust to his length.
He was both wide and long, tears escaped your eyes as he slid into your tight opening.
“So..fucking tight..especially for a whore like you.”
You bite your lips to hold back an embarrassingly loud moan.
He slides in and out quicker and pulls your head back by grabbing your hair. “Why are you crying? Is it too big for you?”
He thrusts hard, making your ass cheeks shake against his hips and your mouth fall open. He was never this rough with you, you wondered why he sounded different.
He was also bigger than usual, you thought.
He thrusts hard again, nestling himself deep within your walls and pushing against your insides.
He then pulls out completely before giving your ass a harsh slap. You fall onto the floor and cry out.
He flips you over onto your back just so he can see your teary face and lips swollen from you biting them.
He licks his lips and goes back to sucking your breasts like he did before, only this time, his cock is passing against your silky walls.
You feel every ridge, every vein, every twitch.
Curse words leave your mouth as you are brought closer and closer to the edge.
He placed his hands on either side of your head and fucks into you from above while watching your breasts move with each thrust. His nails dig into your knees as he pushes them further apart, watching his long cock glide into your small opening like magic. The way you open up for him drives him crazy.
You’re so wet, he slips in and out with ease.
“Should I let you cum?”
“Yes, daddy, please.” You licked your lips and watched the handsome man above you. He had loosened a few buttons but his hair, now free and wavy, dangled over your face.
He takes your hard nipples in between his fingers and pinches them. You arch your back and moan.
This all felt so wrong but so right. Him fucking you hard and into the new year on the bathroom floor while your father was just down stairs a few feet away.
You came instantly, your body trembling as it clenched around him. Your eyes shut tightly, Hendery watched your jaw clenched and grabbed your chin.
“I didn’t tell you to cum, now I’ll have to go harder.” He growled out.
He fucked you hard, your back rubbing against the tile as he didn’t let up on his unforgiving thrusts.
“Too-too much, daddy.” You cried out as tears escaped your eyes again.
“That’s too fucking bad, you came without permission, so now you’re gonna take it,” he thrusted particularly hard with an emphasis on “take it.”
You moaned loudly and squirmed under him, but he held you still, his fingertips digging into your waist. You panted and cried as a burning feeling shot through your skin..
Hendery fucked you like some kind of animal with a crazy sex drive, placing your legs onto his shoulders and ripping some fabric from your expensive dress.
“Hendery! What the-“
“Shhh!! I want to see my cock fill you up, sweetheart. Want to see my little whore take all of me in.”
A smile creeped across his face.
You got up on your elbows and saw that his girthy penis really was poking through your stomach slightly.
“Fuck..so fucking good, daddy.”
Your hips started to hurt from your legs being open and spread out for so long, but Hendery didn’t care, you were all his tonight, and he was going to make sure you remembered that.
“Who were you walking home with after you left the art museum?”
Your brows furrowed. “What are you talking about?”
Why would he bring up something from a few months ago?
“The guy..I saw him take you home..what’s his name?”
He rubs your clit, making you disoriented.
“I don't know Hendery, I went home by myself that night.”
“Oh, don’t fucking lie to me, whore.” He places his hand around your throat and squeezes it.
You clench uncontrollably as your clit feels amazing with his thumb on it.
Hendery cums as you tighten around him unexpectedly. You release as well, his hand tightens even more around your throat. You see stars and shake. Your body feels weak, but Hendery doesn’t pull out or let your throat go.
He leans downward and kisses your lips.
He looks wild and different, his eyes are more intense with a red glow around them that you hadn’t seen before. He has purple and green veins bursting out from his forehead and neck also.
He chokes you while staring into your eyes and as you come down from your high, you notice that something is wrong.
He pulls his limp member out but lets it lay on your stomach.
“Tell me his fucking name!”
Your eyes grow. “Who are you talking about?!” You manage to utter out while slowly losing breath.
He lays a sloppy kiss onto your lips again then pulls away. “Do you want to know what Ten’s last words were?”
You grasped his shoulders. “Hendery, this isn’t funny.”
“Oh, but it is, sweetheart..you should’ve seen the look of terror on his face when I held the knife above his head.”
Your mouth fell open, greeting Hendery’s as he laid another kiss. You struggled to push him off of you, so you bit his lip and crawled away from him.
Hendery kneeled on the ground and held his lip. A low chuckle escapes and it’s one that is horrifying.
“But baby, we were having so much fun, why did you do that?”
“Because you’re not funny! I’m leaving!” You stumble to your feet and fix your dress over your breasts.
You rush to the door but Hendery blocks it. You cower in fear. He doesn’t look like himself at all, he looks like some kind of monster with a wild look.
“Hendery? What’s wrong with you?”
“Hendery’s not here anymore.” The deep voice laughs out.
“Let me go.” You begin to tremble.
“Hendery had his fun, I think I deserve to have fun too.”
You were so confused as this monster takes Hendery over, but you quickly devise a plan.
You grab the soap dispenser behind you and quickly hit him in the head. He snarls out in pain but you have just enough time to push past him and out of the door.
You rush down the stairs and call out for help, but then you notice that the fireworks are going off. People are laughing and sharing drinks on the rooftop together.
You turn to head back up the stairs and to the rooftop to get help, but Hendery is already making his way down with an angry look on his face.
No one is in the mansion but you..and him.
You run out of the mansion as fast as you can, hoping that you can find anyone that could help you.
You felt pain in your hips from being stretched out but you ignored it. You were terrified as you heard him bolting after you with superhuman speed.
“Help!! Help me!!” You cried out but the streets were empty, everyone was celebrating the new year as beautiful and loud fireworks lit up the sky.
You continue to run and breathe heavily, you finally create a safe distance between yourself and him so you lean against the back of a wall and wait for him to pass.
He slows down when he no longer sees you..
“Sweetheart..it’s just me and you, now. Don’t worry about him!” Hendery’s normal voice calls out.
You tremble and cry in fear, but cover your mouth as he gets closer.
“What are you talking about? I’m still here, where is the little whore?” A darker voice says.
“She’s smart, we won’t find her.” The first voice says.
You’re confused, it’s as if two people are talking to each other, but it’s just Hendery.
“I can smell her..” the darker voice says.
“No!! No!! Leave her alone!” Hendery fights himself in the street alone, he goes crazy while yelling and throwing himself around.
“But she’s mine!”
“Mr. Hyde..please just leave me alone..” Hendery falls to his knees and sobs in the middle of the street.
“I live inside you forever, Hendery, with Satan himself by my side.”
And then you only hear silence.
You peak out to see if he has left but to your surprise. He’s right there beside you, his crazy eyes glaring as he smiles.
You scream and run away and into the yard of a random house, you stumble into the shed and look around for anything you can use to protect yourself.
You take the bat and walk around the yard.
You see Hendery walking around the house. You take in a sharp breath then run up to him fast and swing as hard as you can.
His body falls to floor limply.
You drop the bat and cover your mouth, screaming once more as you look on the body of your strange lover.
[1 Month Later]
You’re starting the spring semester at college, physically. You and your father both agreed that after what happened, it would be best for you to spend some time away.
You told your father about what had happened that night the next day. He told you that Hendery had threatened him and you both came to the conclusion that Hendery was suffering from some sort of psychological disorder. One that would allow him to kidnap and murder people.
Some missing people were found in the lab’s crematory room, but evidence showed that most victims were cremated. This amount of cremation filled the air with harmful toxins, the very same toxins that Hendery’s lab was responsible for getting rid of.
It was ironic, but now your father was happy that the killer was identified.
People no longer went missing.
All cases were closed.
Except for one, however.
Hendery’s body was never found.
I have no explanation. Horny brain took over. not proof read
NSFT a/b/o knotting with Gladio and some Ignis.
female reader, multiple orgasms and uh some minor cumflation and possessive behaviour.
Gladio is horny. It's obvious in his scent and in the way he hasn't been able to keep his hands off you all day. Sitting in the Regalia with his arm around your waist or hand on your thigh, constantly nuzzling into your neck, the ride to the Hunter Outpost for Noctis’ fishing break had felt way too long.
Ignis is too, their moods always seem to bounce off each other, but he is a lot more subtle about it. When you had stopped to refuel he had been right by your side as soon as you had stepped out the car. Hand at the small of your back, guiding you towards the store when you had said you wanted snacks, not leaving your side, fingers constantly touching or brushing over you as you shopped. You had learnt Ignis was a lot more lenient when he was feeling affectionate, not batting an eye when you picked out the most unhealthy looking junk food, much to Prompto’s delight. Even giving you a deep lingering kiss before you got back into the car.
You’d be lying if you said it didn’t have an effect on you, you were pretty sure your panties were soaked through. Something you were trying not to think too hard about as you knew if you could tell how turned on they were by their scent, they definitely could tell from yours.
You could feel the exasperation from Noct and Prompto from the constant flirtatious behaviour, but they didn’t seem to be genuinely annoyed by it. After a few teasing comments and obligatory insults they had left you and Gladio to your own devices.
Although you could practically hear their eyes roll when Gladio got too handsy, arm around your waist and his fingers dipping far below the waistband of your jeans and under your panties to trace circles low on the skin of your bare hip.
The hunter who had approached you with a smile when you had finally arrived at the outpost had probably not helped their possessive moods. The pair of them instantly appearing at your side to steer you away when she had got too close for their liking. Which thinking about it had been almost immediately, not having time to say much beyond ‘Hello’ before they had intervened. Whatever Ignis had said to her afterwards you weren’t sure but she hadn’t even glanced in your direction since.
Prompto and Noctis had, not surprisingly after the pheromone ridden car ride, wandered off pretty sharpish as soon as you had arrived. Stating that right now was the perfect time to catch whatever fish Noctis was excited for.
Not really wanting to sit watch Noct fish for several hours, and feeling pretty certain either Gladio or Ignis would say you couldn’t even if you did want to, you were instead attempting to play darts. The teasing you had endured from the two younger Alphas over your poor dart skills the first time you had stopped at a hunter outpost had you practicing every time you had the opportunity. Not a game you were interested in at all back home, but the desire to beat them at it was a hell of a motivator.
You could hear Ignis talking to the remaining hunters, you had caught them in the middle of leaving for a hunt and they were more than happy to let you stay in the caravans for a couple of days.
Just as you were definitely about to hit the dart board this time, Gladio appeared behind you with a hard smack to your ass making you jump and your dart go askew wildly, hitting the stony wall of the hut.
You see Ignis glance in your direction at your yelp but Gladio just chuckles at your reaction before his large hands curl around your ribs and settle on your hips.
“Can't wait to set up camp tonight” The immediate pulse of arousal between your legs at his words was sharp and fast, shooting up your spine and making your nipples harden into tight little points.
“Why?” You know you’re stoking the fire, but you can’t resist. The constant flirting and physical attention all day had left you incredibly wound up and turned on. “What’s happening tonight?”
“Gonna fuck you” his words are blunt and they surprise a small moan out of you as he grips your hips tighter, pulling you back into him.
He's hard and you can't stop yourself from immediately grinding back on to him. He grunts in approval, hands gripping your waist encouraging you to keep your movement going.
“I don't think the others will appreciate that” your words are breathless and you feel a tinge of embarrassment at how quickly he can rile you up.
“They'll be fishing all night” he groans as you grind against his cock a little harder, fingers digging firmly into your hips.
“And Iggy?” you’re panting hard now, the two of you practically dry humping each other as you try to clench your thighs together at the same time to relieve the growing ache in your core, and you hope to the Gods that the hunters had finally left.
The hands on your waist slide up to squeeze your breasts before he wraps both arms around your waist, cuddling you flush against him.
“Oh sweet omega” he nuzzles into your neck nipping sharply he leans down to whisper into your ear “Iggy will be right there with me,” your pussy clenches hard around nothing at his words and you can’t stop the loud moan that escapes your throat “We are going to ruin you”
One large hand slips under the waist band of your jeans and into your panties, and he groans when he feels how wet you are. “You're soaked baby,” he swirls his fingers around your wetness, pushing one thick finger inside you with ease.
“I could fuck you right here” he moans as you rock against his palm “Right here against this wall, would you like that?”
“Yes” you feel embarrassingly close to orgasm already and you rock your hips harder on to his hand.
“Yes what?” He presses another finger into you, his movements blunt and rough, focused on stretching you out rather than bringing you pleasure.
“Yes Alpha” it’s a sigh, a needy plea and Gladio growls in response.
The abrupt withdrawal of his fingers makes you squeak and the force at which he pushes you forward to brace yourself against the wall of the shack makes you dizzy.
His lack of patience is obvious as he yanks your pants and underwear just far enough down your legs to slide his cock between your thighs, his hand curling around your throat tugging you up and backwards, spine arching into his hold.
He holds you like that against him, not quite squeezing, but his fingers flexing and twitching against your throat like he wants to.
“Gonna knot you right here in the open” letting his cock rub against your pussy, nudging your clit and teasing you as he glides through your wet folds “fill you so full of cum you're going to be dripping for days”
Your moan is loud, and you try to shift your hips to force him inside you but all it does is earn you another sharp smack to the ass
“We're going to take our time tonight, have you screaming for us but right now…”
He grunts and with one sharp brutal thrust he’s inside you, his hand leaving your throat to clap across your mouth at your pained cry.
He doesn’t give you time to adjust to the stretch before he starts a hard, fast rhythm, pushing you forward to bend at the waist, your hands scrabbling against the stone wall as you desperately try to steady yourself.
Your orgasm rises fast, and it’s not long before it hits you suddenly and sharply, drawing a strangled cry from you as he fucks you through it.
He slows, letting you ride out your aftershocks with slow deep glides of his cock.
“Good girl, getting so good at taking it,” his hands slides across your ass, soothing the redden mark left by his palm and lets his thumb slide between your cheeks to circle your asshole. “Gonna be able to take both of us soon”
His thumb presses firmer against your ass and he slowly presses the tip in past the first tight ring of muscle and holds it there.
You moan and your walls flutter and tighten around him, your orgasm had hit you too fast and too quickly to satisfy the lust burning through you, and you were desperate for him to start moving quicker.
“Oh you like that idea? Two knots? Greedy girl” He groans as you push back against his hips, deliberately squeezing your pussy hard around him. “Greedy dirty girl”.
He starts to speed up again, his thrusts are quick and rough, his groans loud and he lets his thumb sink deeper into your ass. “So fucking wet for me”, He leans forward and his teeth press lightly into the skin of your shoulder and you instantly tilt your head to the side to give him more access to your neck. “Touch yourself for me”
Steadying yourself with one hand against the wall, your fingers barely flutter across your clit before you cum again as he bites down hard. This time not slowing as he fucks you through it, instead pressing his thumb deeper into your ass as you cry out, garbled pleas and moans as you gush round his cock.
“Good girl, he pants “one more,” he removes his thumb from your ass and loops one arm around your hips, “One more, baby”
“I can’t” You can hardly catch your breath, your legs are trembling, Gladio pretty much holding you up as he ruts into you, the wet lurid shlick sounds between your sounds filthy and you can tell he loves it from the deep inhale he takes, scenting you.
“Yes you can, you were made for this, made for me” His thrusts are erratic and you can feel his knot beginning to swell, he tugs your hips up slightly until you are practically on tiptoes as his knot finally slides in, locking himself inside you, a dull ache as his cockhead presses firmly against your cervix.
He grinds his hips against you a couple of times before he cums hard and loud, fingers leaving your hip to pinch hard against your clit, that hurts in just the right way to bring you over the edge again with him. You sob as you cum, pussy clenching and rippling around his knot milking him for all he’s worth as his cock throbs deep inside you.
The flow of cum feels endless and you wriggle in discomfort at the pressure. He growls low in warning at your movement, teeth biting deep into your shoulder. He pushes forward, pulling you up, hand curling round your throat again and pinning you firmly against the wall so you can’t move. You do your best to still, and once he is happy with your submission, he loosens his bite to press gentle kisses along the teeth marks. “Gonna do this every day when we get back to the Citadel,” he places kisses along your skin between his words. “knot you, breed you,” He sounds drunk, words slurred with pleasure, “have you full of my cum all th–“ his words trail off into a long groan and you feel his cock twitch, another weak spurt of cum hitting your sore walls.
The late afternoon breeze feels cool against your flushed skin and the only sound is your heavy breathing as you try to catch your breath and Gladio’s occasional grunt as he rides out his orgasm. The occasional twitch of his cock inside making you whimper with over stimulation.
“You really couldn't wait” at Ignis voice Gladio takes a reluctant half a step back, uncaging you from his arms and pulling you back slightly from the wall with him, letting you look to the side to see Ignis standing leaning against the wall.
He has a slight flush to his cheeks and you wonder briefly how long he has been watching.
“Got carried away” to your surprise Gladio sounds a little guilty.
You open your mouth to say something, you’re not sure what, but before your brain can engage Ignis steps forward and kisses you.
It’s a gentle kiss, a complete contrast to what you just endured and you melt into him with a sigh.
“How many times did you cum for him darling?” Ignis cups your cheek with a gloved hand as he pulls back, pressing a quick kiss to the tip of your nose.
You can’t seem to make sense of his question, your brain feeling sluggish and a little off kilter. It feels an odd mix of perverted and intimate, standing there locked on Gladio’s knot as Ignis peppers little kisses across your face.
Ignis’ leather clad fingers sliding down your bare stomach to your clit makes you jolt, breaking away from his kisses with a pitiful whine you lean forward to bury your face in his shoulder, “please Iggy, no more”
“How many times?” his index finger rests on your clit, perfectly still but making you twitch in anticipation.
“Thr –“ you gasp as he lets his fingers swirl down along your soaking folds, stroking the area where you and Gladio are joined, earning a surprised grunt and rock of hips from Gladio before returning to rest on your clit.
“How many?” he repeats.
“Three” your voice breaks as you answer him “Three times”
“Good girl” he starts to stroke your clit softly and you cry out, both hands grasping on to his wrist in a futile attempt to stop him
Ignis shushes you, pressing soft kisses against your lips between his words “One for me?” He coos “You can cum for me too can’t you darling?” You find yourself nodding, losing yourself to the slow rise of pleasure.
A low hiss from Gladio as your pussy clenches hard around his knot again has you moaning loud in response. He grinds his hips against your ass as much as he can, still thick and hard inside you, encouraging your rapid rise towards another orgasm. One hand sliding up from your waist to your breast he tugs sharply at your nipple. “Cum for him omega”
It only takes a few touches of Ignis’ fingers, gentle circles over your swollen, oversensitive clit, to have you coming again, your knees buckling beneath you as you cry out.
Ignis kisses you hard, swallowing your cry as you cum, and the low strained fuck from Gladio in your ear sends a shiver down your spine as you feel him cum again. He presses a large warm hand against your abdomen, and you wonder if he can feel himself inside you. You feel so bloated. So full, a discomforted whine escaping you as Gladio presses firmly against your abdomen to hold you still and upright.
You feel exhausted. Legs feeling completely boneless as you rest your head against Ignis chest, Gladio’s arms still around your waist. Both of them content to stand and hold you as you try to gather yourself. The constant possessive flutter of Gladio’s fingers across your bloated abdomen and Ignis stroking your hair soothing you so much that you feel like you could easily doze off in this position. You can hear and feel the low rumble as they talk quietly above you but you’re too out of it to focus on their words.
The first rush of fluids down your inner thigh has you wincing as Gladio’s knot slips free. You stumble as Ignis is quick to turn you round, the manhandling from him a surprise, but Gladio is just as quick to catch you, guiding your hands to his chest to steady you. He looks flushed and sweaty, but nowhere near as wrecked as you feel. Your indignation melts away quickly though, licking your lips as your let your eyes trail over the sheen of sweat across his chest. The urge to trail your tongue over the lines of his tattoos is strong and must show on your face as he winks. “I’m all yours baby”
The clink of a belt buckle behind you draws your attention away from him and back to Ignis, although your attempt to turn your head towards him is stopped by Gladio gripping your jaw.
“You don’t get to rest yet darling” Ignis words are spoken in a low, dark seductive tone that makes you shiver in anticipation as he presses against your back “You gave Gladio three,” You whimper as you feel his cock press against your entrance, your nails digging into Gladio’s chest, “You owe me two more”
On Friday, Abba had one of the most important rides of her life, and, being Abba, passed it with flying colours.
After our ride on Wednesday and the subsequent soul-searching, I decided not to withdraw from our upcoming endurance ride, but to go ahead with it and see what Abba made of it. It was different from our previous rides, as we were not camping and riding at sun-up on Saturday, but instead, going up on Friday morning, vetting in and riding straight away. Things went astray at the very start of Friday, with heavier traffic meaning that we arrived at the venue with half an hour to spare - but as it turned out, that meant neither Abba nor I had enough time to get nervous.
I grabbed my rider pack and my chip from the timekeeper and vetted Abba in quickly, while Jane found us a paddock and sorted out our tack. Then I handed Abba over to Jane to groom and tack up while I filled the Camelbak and the treat pouch, tried to get half a smoothie down, failed at that, and then remembered Abba’s calming paste, recommended to us by a national team rider. The cap was stubborn and didn’t want to come off, so I removed it with my teeth and got a squirt of paste myself, before dosing Abba with it.
We were all tacked up and ready to go with less than five minutes to spare, and for once I started the ride at the same time as the other 40s - because this time, Abba was relaxed and happy and not keyed-up. We headed out at a pleasant walk, and while she was interested in everything around us, she was not jigging and pulling. Riders for the 80 and the 120 kept flying past us from behind, and Abba just kept walking, though she gradually became more excited as we went, and I had to start turning her to face the oncoming horses. However, it wasn’t until we were over two kilometres into the ride before her neck hardened and I had to hop off, to let another rider go by, and even then, Abba did not pull hard on the reins to follow. I turned her as though heading her back home, and she gave a decided little jerk of her head back down the track, which made me laugh, but she walked pleasantly in hand a couple of hundred metres to the end of the field, and, after a few minutes, relaxed enough to allow me to mount without immediately trying to hurry after the horses ahead.
I could see the ride photographers ahead, and they had clearly seen us, as they were driving down to meet us. Abba found this very suspicious behaviour, and was even more wary when the car stopped and they got out, so I rode her up to them and let her say hello, so that she could see they were nice and friendly and had cameras. They were both very obliging - Abba and her history are well-known at the rides now - and we hobnobbed for a bit before I went on with Abba.
She thought that walking was rather dull, and she really wanted to have a good gallop up to the koppie ahead, but when I looked back to make sure nobody else was coming up from behind, I saw a group of riders, travelling quite quickly, and so we kept walking, until they were closer, and then I dismounted again. Abba remained pretty good, and as several more small groups and solitary riders came by, I kept walking her in hand. She stopped to watch them, ears pricked, and then, to my immense pleasure, put her head down and started to nibble the grass. I could not have asked for a better indication of her mood than that.
At the next gate, she allowed me to remount again, and, while she made it plain she wanted to go on, following the route of the 80s and 120s, she was so calm that I could slip the reins right to the buckle. The 40s doubled back through the ride camp at this point, and Jane came jogging alongside with food for me, as I hadn’t eaten all day from sheer nerves. We were both so thrilled with Abba and how easy she was being, and I told Jane then that I had decided to option at the tenth kilometre, precisely because Abba was being so good.
As we headed out of camp, we met riders coming home from their most recent loop. This was apparently worse than having them fly past from behind, as far as Abba was concerned, as she stopped multiple times to stare, and became very stiff all over. I had to hop off repeatedly, to just hold her; I suspect the proximity to ride camp made her question why she was going in the opposite direction from everyone else.
After the last group of riders came by, I led Abba over to the verge to get back on, and after a few test hops, to remind her to stay put, I started to swing on, Abba spun up onto the verge, and somehow I missed my jump, and landed up with my left foot stuck in the stirrup, and the stirrup pressed into my sternum. There were a few panicky moments as I tightened my hold on the reins, trying to halt Abba before I fell off the verge with one foot still up in a stirrup, and to get the pressure of the stirrup off my chest, and then we were untangled and I could breathe again. However, the mishap had wrenched my collar bone, and by the time we were at the end of the long farm drive and turning onto the road, I was trying not to cry from the pain.
Fortunately, Abba gave me a very smooth and gentle ride down the road, now restricted to a walk because I simply could not use my right arm effectively, and the worst of the spasms subsided to a dull ache. Abba was very bright-eyed and happy on the ride, pausing every so often to survey her surroundings, delighted to be on the trail in one of her favourite parts of the world. At the tenth kilometre, I guided her to the water barrels, she stuck her nose in one like a good girl and then, like her usual self, splashed the water instead of drinking, and turned us briskly to head further out on the ride. She was not best pleased when I told her we were headed home, but she did not argue about it.
I sent the timekeeper a message on the way back, to let him know we had optioned, and then tried to send one to Jane, which I think failed to go through. Abba was having a good time, nibbling at the grass, stepping through puddles, eyeing the koppie in the distance and suggesting that we could totally go for a gallop up to it. We managed to get in a short trot in one of the fields, though she did not like coming back to a walk, as another horse was coming up behind us, and she swung herself in multiple directions across the trail before consenting to move off to one side. She also wanted to keep on towards the koppie again, instead of turning for home, but was rather more pleasant about that disagreement.
On the way back, though, she did discover a terrifying sight, known as a small pump, or some other piece of farm machinery, which was very quiet, and unobtrusive, just like an ambush predator. She boggled so badly at it, I had to jump off and lead her over to it to get a better look at it, which she did braced back on her front feet, with her head and neck straining towards it, torn between her curiosity and her desire to flee. She stared and stared, and then, quite abruptly, spooked on the spot, and stared some more, while I started to giggle. When I led her on, she arched her neck and flagged her tail and took a few prancing sideways steps, before settling down again.
I walked beside her a little way longer, shaking out some of the aches in the leg that Sahara had kicked, and then mounted up one last time, and trotted Abba down the road to the ride camp and over the line. It was a far more successful ride than our last attempt, back in March last year, just before lockdown began, and Abba proved to me that she is a good horse, and that it isn’t yet time to give up on her. We’ll keep on keeping on, and I will continue to remind myself that everything she gives me is a gift, not something to expect from her.
Choosing to option was very much the right decision, even though Abba was in a mental space where we could easily have continued. It was her first endurance ride in over a year, and her first trip off the farm since September last year. She coped incredibly well with so many of her usual stressors, and it is better for her to end while she is keen to go on, but relaxed. This ride was a training exercise, a building block to lay a better foundation for the future. She has emotional control at home, for the most part: now we see if we can develop it away from home, at endurance rides. But, oh, the best bit had to be knowing that she loves the sport, that she is every bit the little mare who came to Darling in 2019 and told me that she had found her niche. And she reminded me that I don’t ride endurance with her to compete, or even to complete. I ride it with her, because it makes her happy, and it is something I can do for her that brings her joy.
As always, she passed the vet check at the end of the ride with a lower pulse than she vetted in with, and back in her paddock, she was cheerful enough to eat and drink. People at the ride were talking about her and her story, and some of them asked Jane and me for more information; she is definitely making a name for herself, if not as a successful endurance horse, at least as a resilient little mare who has overcome a huge amount in her life.
After an hour long wait, she vetted out clear for her trip home, we loaded her up, and headed back to the farm. Dusk was coming on by the time we arrived; Jane and I said goodbye at the yard, and I followed the horsebox down to the field to unload Abba and turn her back out. She came off the box all jaunty, while Sahara and Shakira called to her, and when I left, she was happily bossing them around in the deepening blue atmosphere of twilight. It was a good day for Abba, a road trip, endurance, and then home again by nightfall.
Photographs © Ingrid Owen Photography.
Knowledge is Only Half the Battle
Possessive AU by Emily aka @urlocalllama
We check in on the Sun Family in their separated state - Macaque and his parents along with Zane were making their way to PingHua city still, and Wukong had just gotten the logistical side of what had happened to his husband so many years ago. But he's still weakened and can't do much. However, there just so happens to be a large vat of his essence nearby...
Wukong hadn't slept at all last night despite quite literally being asleep.
Macaque was distressed - he knew he was, he could feel it. The whole night he had glimpses of the memories that had been hidden under his amnesia, and they weren't good. His heart strained to leap out the window and fly to where he is and hold him. To comfort him, to ease his pain, and keep him protected.
He sat in the back, quietly feeding Zhihao as his arms gripped the body with the rage of a thousand suns, as they all surrounded the comms station for an update.
Instead of just relaying the information, Jay just played the recording: "We've gained more information on our new allies and insight into our enemy's goals - Zhang Tuqiang and Xinghou are confirmed to be Macaque's adoptive parents, having found him as a baby and raised him until the time he lost his memory and was seperated from them, which was around the age of seventeen. They have not exhibited abusive or damaging behaviors, and have instead proven to be allies.
"Our enemy is confirmed to be the current monarch of Blackmire Forest: Hei Wangzi, also known as the Black Prince. His reasons relate to his history with Macaque and it's... intense. To be as plain as possible to avoid confusion, Macaque had been kidnapped by Hei Wangzi's father at sixteen, and after the death of said father Macaque was forcefully betrothed into an arranged marriage with Hei Wangzi. Due to the Prince's abusive nature, the trauma left behind from enduring such had triggered a memory loss. Part of that was a failed attempt from Macaque to kill him - he seeks revenge against him. We do not know why he wanted Mk, however we suspect that it was due to how young Mk seems and he assumed him to be a teenager - according to Xinghou, the Prince has a long history of child abuse and pedophilia."
The shock and horror others feel at learning those things would be overwhelming.
The love of his life having his mind and body so broken from abuse that he lost all of his memories, the terror of being a kidnapped child bride... it was truly horrifying.
However, he knew that song and dance.
He's lived that song and dance.
There was a deep sorrow within him that he had to endure those things, but nothing about this shocked him.
His fear was instead centered around that monster finding him again.
The recorded message continued: "We're two days away from the village at the time of recording - we're moving on horseback, which may not be the quickest but it is the least trackable and certainly the most environmentally friendly. We have had no other encounters with hostiles. Reporting complete, ending message, stay safe."
"Oh no..." Wukong heard Mei whisper over the comms, "That's... that's...!"
"Yeah," Jay said stiffly, his cheery demeanor having been put out, "Pretty intense. I'd lose my memory if that happened to me. Hell, I'd probably WANT to lose my memory."
"However, it sounds like he's reunited with two very important people," Lloyd responded, "What's the status on the Brotherhood reaching the village?"
"It's going," Ao Lie responded, "We've had some hiccups, but nothing major. We're about a day and a half out from the village, so we should reach it about the same time Macaque and Zane do."
"I'll go ahead and send it down the communication chain to dismantle it one by one without attracting attention," Jay said, "Original plan was to meet up back at the house. Confirm?"
"No," Sanzang cut in, "Head down to the village as well - there's a larger chance we'll need you here instead of there."
"Is Wukong there?" Sanzang asked.
"Present," Wukong spoke up as he allowed Zhihao to violently kick the empty bottle away and dig his little fingers into his shirt to press his whole body against his chest, "What's up?"
"How are you doing?"
"It's been difficult."
"I understand. Have you found anything that's helped?"
Wukong shook his head, and then realized it was audio only, so he choked out, "No. Wh-why do you ask?"
"I'll be honest with you," Sanzang sighed, "Last night, I got a little bit of service on my phone and checked on things. I noticed that Mk was online and scrolling through social media, and knowing he was sick and injured I shot him a text to see what was up. Well, the conversation didn't start off about you, but eventually he mentioned that he noticed you've been particularly pale and still exhausted after full nights of sleep. I'm checking in, y'know?"
"Mk noticed?" He said, his jaw hanging slack, "How?! What?!"
"I'm unsure, but taking care of yourself should be of upmost importance. I have that feeling again, you know the one, that you'll need to be as prepared as possible."
"We need to get going again," Mei said, "Over and out?"
"Over and out." "Over and out."
There was a crackle of static, and communications cut off.
Wukong needs to be as prepared as possible...
The others broke out into hushed whispering at what they heard, leaving the room and Wukong alone with his twin sons. Wujing in particular announced he was going to check on Yueming in the garden and Garmadon deciding to peek at Mk as he slept in his room. Lloyd had shot him one last look before closing the door.
He was glad they were starting to slowly give his room back to him, now that the worries of someone harming him were lowered.
Because if he was going to be prepared?
He was going to need some privacy.
Macaque had forgotten how easily they were able to pack everything away and onto a small cart behind the third horse. It was hard to believe that only thirty minutes ago he was woken up, changed out of his sleepwear and into a much more sensible set of robes, and eaten breakfast right underneath the very cloth roof that was now covering all their luggage like a tarp. He remembered some of the packing strategies his parents taught him as a child, but when he tried to help he was gently shooed away and told to sit on a tree stump and rest.
"Baba, it's alright," He tried, "I'm doing much better, I-"
"Nope, not happening," Tuqiang shook his head, "I'm not even risking it. You're incredibly vulnerable both physically and emotionally, and we don't know what level of stress you can take right now. I'd rather keep you awake and alert, especially as you've shown frequent signs of someone about to pass out."
"Besides, let us care for you," Xinghou said, stopping to wrap a blanket around his shoulders, "Not only have you been injured, but we haven't had the blessing of caring for you in thousands of years. Let us have this, okay?"
Choking up a little, he mumbled, "O-okay."
As soon as they were done packing things up, Tuqiang strode over to Macaque and double-checked on his physical well-being. Checked for a fever, any new injuries or infections, straightened up his clothes so they were comfortable, and then carefully picked him up.
"You'll be riding with me on the cart-horse. Quite frankly, despite all these years I still view you as my little boy, so I am begging for you to put up with how I'll be constantly holding you."
"Don't worry, I'm severely touch-starved," Macaque smiled slightly, "It was getting better after marriage, but oh boy did all *that* make it so much worse."
"Ah, so extra physical affection is warranted. I'm still going to intimidate your husband."
"For the love of Buddha, please do not," Macaque said half-jokingly, knowing perfectly well that all attempts at intimidating Wukong would end with the 'and I fucked your son' argument.
Xinghou held him for a few moments while Tuqiang swung up onto the horse, making sure to give him a good squeeze before handing him back.
He was sitting side-saddle, his back against the arm Tuqiang held the reigns with while the other arm wrapped around his torso protectively. His head instinctively fell against his chest,his familiar heartbeat soothing him as if he was an infant again.
"You know how to ride, right kid?" Xinghou asked Zane.
"While I am no expert, I am aware of the basics," Zane said, a mounting the horse a little too perfectly.
"Let's go, then."
With a whip of the reigns, the horses starte trotting. They were exceptionally strong, and were practically galloping along despite the heavy cart behind them. At first, the horses were trotting through the undergrowth, stamping out a path for the cart to roll. He wasn't sure when the motion rocked him to sleep, but when he opened his eyes next he was nested in Tuqiang's chest and arms, the blanket wrapped around him a little more firm and his eyes rubbing against the cloth of his shirt.
Five more minutes.
And he curled up closer and fell back asleep.
That was when he had... an odd dream.
Thankfully, it was no nightmare. Nor was it one where he had to 'interact' with anything. He just watched blissfully as the scenario played out in front of him, although that wasn't quite accurate. It was better described as series of images, splashes of visions, swirled together in an almost hypnotizing mass.
The more he studied it, the less he understood it.
He internally squinted to try and get a better look, and he realized he was looking down a dark tunnel. Said swirling mass of imagery was something moving.
The thought pattern was familiar, but it was clearly not his own.
He last saw a faded image of golden liquid being poured into something, and a figure stepping into it, before he woke up.
Macaque's stomach growled loudly, his eyes snapping open wide.
"Well! I think that's a good sign that we ought to stop and eat something," Tuqiang said, patting Macaque's stomach.
"He eats and sleeps and that's just about it," Xinghou laughed, "Just like the good old days, y'know?"
"I wish all I needed to do in life was eat and sleep," Macaque muttered, "Maybe throw on the bonus of making sure my husband and children do the same, but I mean really..."
"Reject adulthood, go back to shoving things in our mouths," Tuqiang laughed as well, "Oh, what a wonderful world that would be. Let's pretend for a moment, then, and do just that."
"Here looks good," Zane helpfully pointed out a small clearing in the trees, "I personally wouldn't mind sitting on some of that soft grass..."
"I like it. Dismounting..."
They had a quiet picnic together, cooking up some cured sausages over the fire and eating them with cheeses and rice.
"We're still technically in Blackmire Forest," Tuqiang said, "So we best not linger."
"...Do you guys do this all day?" Zane asked, "I'm already going bow-legged from being on a horse for that long..."
"You can sit sidesaddle if you want," Xinghou grunted, "Eases up the pressure on your groin."
"In exchange for less than optimal control of the steed," Zane frowned.
"These are good horses, they already know what to do. They've been riding with us for the past five hundred years. Y'know, after a demon ate all our old ones."
"Don't look at me like that! They were old and about to die, anyways, and sometimes things happen! We can only control so much, y'know?"
"I prefer to think that I can keep a firm grasp on my future with proper understanding of probability."
"Yeah sure, you can guess what's gonna happen. But that doesn't mean you KNOW what's going to happen."
"I forgot to ask," Macaque spoke up, 'What're their names?"
"This one here," Xinghou motioned to the horse he had been riding, which was a serious bluish-black steed with a distinctive white patch on his snout and a thick white mane, "Is Yin. Y'know, because he looks like the yin from the Yinyang symbol. The one Zane's using," he motioned to the brown cow-spotted horse with a brown mane that looked like it's head was in the clouds as it nibbled on dandelions, "Is Nainiu."
"You literally just named them 'Cow'?"
"I mean, what else would you name a horse that looked like that?" Xinghou said.
"He was the one who chose the name," Tuqiang sighed, earning him an affronted look from Xinghou.
"Now that I've had my superior naming skills scathingly criticised," He said jokingly, earning him a laugh from the group, "The last one that you've been riding on is Xuehua."
"As in... snow? Literally, 'snow flower'?"
The horse was completely jet black. If it was nighttime, Xuehua would look like a shadow. Even their eyes were black, and their mane was so long it nearly brushed against the ground.
"You see, Xuehua was... well..." Tuqiang stumbled, "Well... just after you were nearly killed, before we had rescued you the first time... the fire had spread all throughout the city. And it reached a little white colt, who was caught up int he flames. It had... it had run off, into the snowy mountains, and only barely managed to extinguish the flames with the cold."
"We found it on our way," Xinghou grunted, starting to stifle the flames of the fire, "It was so scared and alone... we put it with our other horses and took it back with us. I'm not surprised you don't remember Xuehua, you were... not well. And couldn't see. But she had taken a strong liking to you while you recovered, and while she finished growing she would go out to look for you every day. Hoping you'd come back."
"When our other horses died, we had gone up to the stables where she was being kept to pick out new steeds," Tuqiang continued, "And she would not leave us alone. We didn't want to bring her, she had been through too much already in her life, but we weren't allowed to walk out without her. So she's here."
And that's when Macaque felt Xuehua's snout descend next to his cheek, and Xuehua started affectionately nibbling on his fur.
He didn't remember her, but he did remember her smell. He didn't doubt what his parents said was true regardless, but it was nice to know his mind had at least something of it's own about this.
"I like them," Macaque said, "I'm glad they've been doing well, and that they've been wanting to be out here."
"Fire's now out," Xinghou announced, "Let's get back to it."
Macaque nodded, and started trying to stand up. Xuehua noticed, and stuck her snout under his arm and used her neck to support him.
Looks like he wasn't the only burnt thing around here, was he?
Wukong had poured water into a kitchen bowl, deep enough that he could submerge his entire hand in it but not full enough that it was a significant spill hazard.
He had waited until everyone was asleep to do this for practical reasons - it was easier to focus when no one else was around, the children were asleep, and he could see anything glowing much easier in the dark.
He had taken out a quarter cup of his power essence from the tank, and it glowed softly next to him while he worked.
Sure, he could just drink it and gain it's benefits. He felt better almost immediately when he did that, pulling the limit of how much power his body was willing to maintain at once a little higher, but that wasn't enough. Even as an immortal, he couldn't drink all of that as fast as he needed to.
Not this time.
Immortal Zhenyuan had understood why Wukong wanted just the dried peel of one of the Ginsengfruit - it's incredible properties to help absorb nutrients could could make any substance be processed by the body by any organ at bare minimum twice as fast.
He had just an eighth of a teaspoon of the peel currently, the rest being stored in his desk drawer, and he carefully added it to the water.
The water bubbled apprehensively, and he placed a single leaf from one of the sacred peach trees into the bowl as well. The water absorbed it into the mixture as quickly as ice evaporating on a sweltering summers day.
Lastly, the essence.
It was absorbed as well, but instead of just disappearing it made the substance in the bowl look like crystal clear and watery honey. It bubbled happily, relaxing into soft waves created by the power inside of it.
Moment of truth...
Wukong plunged his hand into the mixture, and it absorbed through his skin almost immediately. He gasped as it was absorbed by his skin and ran through his bloodstream so quickly he was surprised his heart rate didn't jump.
And the power settled into his body as if it had always been there.
Now, to draw himself a bath.
Jin x f. reader [in smut scene. relatively g/n for the rest ( 'butterfly' could be considered a more feminine nickname)]
Synopsis: Life has left you scarred and unwilling to get too involved with anyone else.
Kim Seokjin is stubborn. Kind. Capable of soothing your wounded spirit.
Warnings: chronic illness, hints of IBD throughout for Y/N and Jungkook, one very in-your-face implication that Y/N has IBD in the beginning, internalized ableism, swearing, unprotected sex, little bit of dom!Jin / sub!Y/N, oral (F receiving), fingering (F receiving)
Word Count: 6k
repost, I had to fix some issues.
The waiting room was hushed, with the tapping of keys from the receptionist’s desk as background noise. You glanced expectantly at the clock, disappointed when only two minutes had passed. It was 6:17 PM, and you doubted your roommate would arrive before 6:40. Lisa was a graduate teaching assistant at the local college. She’d left a message explaining that she had to print off a paper before she could drive your car back.
This late in the day, there was one other person waiting. You studied him, more out of boredom than anything else.
Black hair fell in waves to frame his forehead and eyes. He was dressed casually in a soft pink hoodie and jeans, his rings reflecting the overhead light as he skimmed through a magazine.
He abandoned it briefly, lifting his head to lock eyes with you. His lips twitched. A frown? A smile? You couldn’t tell.
He flipped the magazine around and held it up, so that you could see the pages he’d been on. It was a painting of a cherry tree in full bloom, with hints of a cerulean sky between the branches.
The next spread was for Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month. His brow furrowed as he witnessed you retreat into your shell, looking anywhere but at him.
Realization dawned when he saw the contents. “I’m sorry. I didn’t-”
The door to the E.R. clicked open, interrupting him, and a younger man crossed the threshold. Magazine Man shot to his feet and hurried over to him. “How are you feeling, Kook?”
“Tired.” ‘Kook’ shrugged into the coat he was handed, almost trodding on the other man’s heels as they exited the waiting room.
Stupid. You slumped forward, squeezing your eyes shut and rubbing your forehead. Get a grip.
He sat a few seats away. You kept your head down, not eager to embarrass yourself further.
You’d heard his voice before, but for the first time, you realized how melodious it was. “I didn’t look before I turned the page that day. I’m sorry.”
You looked up. “I know. I’m sorry too, for how I acted.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He relaxed into the seat. “I’m Seokjin, by the way.”
“I was calling you Magazine Man in my head. Just so you know.”
He had a nice laugh. “There are worse names, I suppose. What’s yours?”
“Panda? Is that your favorite animal?”
You blinked, taken aback at his interest. “Uh, no. That's not why. It’s for the dark circles under my eyes...it’s hard for me to get enough sleep.”
“...I see wings.” His voice was hesitant. Gentle.
You couldn’t understand why he’d been trying to boost your morale. “Oh...well. My actual name is Y/N.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Y/N.”
The next time you saw Seokjin, he was worried when he learned you didn’t have an immediate ride home. Lisa had left on an urgent errand for her mother, and you hadn’t driven in the first place. It was kind of impossible to do that when you were incapacitated by pain and nausea.
He offered to drop you off after he took his brother home.
You couldn’t reply right away. You had some idea of who he was. You knew his name, and that he loved his brother dearly. But you didn’t know him well enough to feel completely comfortable.
But pain had always been your strongest motivator. The easiest fix for the agony snaking along your guts was a heating pad at home.
And here Seokjin was, with the tempting words that made you imagine how sweet the relief would be.
You said yes.
Seokjin stopped next to you while you were browsing through the earrings at the local Walmart, almost giving you a heart attack before you recognized him.
He was with his brothers. You hadn’t known that there were others, besides Jungkook. But then again, you had only met in the hospital.
Thankfully, Jungkook appeared to be fine. But you knew all too well that didn't necessarily mean he felt that way. Still, his smile almost rivaled Seokjin’s.
Seokjin gave the jewelry a cursory scan before he snatched a pair left over from Christmas, stamped with Santa Claus’ image. “These would be perfect for you.”
You rolled your eyes, swatting his hand away. “More like for you.”
He didn't laugh. You were surprised to see him scrutinizing your features. “You’re feeling better.”
“Yeah.” You swallowed. He didn’t intend to, but his words reminded you of the fact that every meeting up to that point had happened with you rendered helpless in one way or another. You despised the idea that people thought of you as frail, vulnerable...weak.
But it was undeniable. You were weaker than the average person. Good days where you could cope had been reduced, and there weren't many days at all that you didn’t feel some symptom.
Seokjin had a window to Jungkook’s experiences. But even then, there was a disconnect between them. What then, did you hope that he could do for you, that you couldn’t do for yourself?
“I found something for you.” He took your hand in his. Cool metal pressed into your skin.
You uncurled your fingers to see midnight blue stones glinting up at you, set as the leaves of an earring climber. “It’s beautiful.”
He sent you a wink. “Of course it is. What would you choose for me, Y/N?”
They stood out almost immediately. You retrieved the pair of silver chain drop earrings and deposited it in his hand. They were rather plain, save for the metal stars at the ends of both.
He rolled the fine metal links across his thumb.
You hadn’t spoken, but his head lifted. He refused to look away from your eyes. His own had softened, resulting in the tension rippling across your shoulders. You didn't like it when people looked at you like that.
Seokjin had never seen one of your days, only glimpses. He had no idea of what you endured.
He had no right to meet your gaze with that familiarity.
“Butterfly.” His voice was hushed, stopping you in your tracks.
“Can I call you that?”
“I didn’t think we were on a nickname basis. If we were friends, I’d allow it.”
“Friends…” he mused. “That’s fair.”
The image of rain, threatening to break through a wall of clouds, rolled across your mind.
He didn’t relent, daring to reach out. He folded your fingers around the piece of paper. “If you need a ride. Or if you want to talk.”
“Do you just carry your number around?”
He glanced downwards. “I wrote it after I saw you here.”
You nodded stiffly. You couldn’t see yourself turning to him for further help, but you weren’t about to tell him that. Besides, there was no harm in keeping the paper, just for a while.
He had lovely handwriting. You left his note on your desk after entering his contact, though you debated for several weeks on what to text.
If you decided to text at all.
Red lights cutting through the midnight darkness and echoes of his voice in the enclosed space lingered. The memory of his presence paired with the absence of pain.
You were unable to forget that you owed him, and you wouldn’t be able to let the memory fade until you’d done something in return.
He replied with an invitation to a homemade dinner. It didn’t make sense. Honestly, it was frustrating. You just wanted to pay him back and be done with it.
But again, he insisted. The little voice in your head whispered that it’d be easier to explain yourself in person, rather than over text.
While Seokjin had dug in right away, you set your fork down. “I have to be clear about this. I said yes because I owe you for the ride home before. There’s no other reason.”
He gazed at you from across the table. “I did that because I wanted to. You don’t owe me anything.”
He sighed. “That’s what friends do. Can we be friends, Y/N? Not...whatever this is?”
You traced the rim of your glass, collecting condensation on your fingertip. “...I guess we can try.”
You glanced at him. His gentle smile and warm brown eyes caused an ache to bloom in your chest. Feeling your body temperature spike, you broke eye contact with him.
The clock on the wall read 6:32. The muted ticking of its hands and the clinking of silverware were the only noises in the room.
For a house with six other occupants, especially in the evening, you would’ve expected to overhear conversations and movement. “Where are your brothers?”
“Jungkook went to watch a movie with Jimin and Tae. Yoongi’s at his studio. Namjoon and Hoseok went back to campus to study.”
“Does that happen often? You getting the house to yourself?”
He smiled. “I may have...provided incentive to the youngest ones.”
You stumbled upon a new author and earned a couple more pieces of literature to proofread. Since you hadn’t gone to college, you were grateful each time you found a new client.
When Seokjin refused monetary payment, you came up with a plan B.
While you couldn't be exactly sure of what Jungkook’s trigger foods were, you were reasonably sure that they included the worst ones for you. Red sauce (and everything that entailed) was pure evil on the most basic list of what foods to avoid. You had no clue what his other brothers liked, so you packed a variety of food.
He answered on the second ring. “Y/N?”
“Hey, you’re at home, right? Is everyone else there too?”
“Just a sec. ...Yoongi’s on the way. Everyone’s here beside him. Why?”
“I bought food, so we can all have dinner together.”
“Alright. You’re at home?”
“Wait there. I’ll come get you.”
“I can drive, Seokjin. But thank you.”
“See you soon, butterfly. Drive safely.”
Seokjin swung the door open. Surprise flickered across his expression. “You look beautiful.”
“Thank you.” You lifted the basket, as if he hadn’t already seen it. “I brought food.” As if you hadn’t told him that earlier. You cringed, wondering why his compliment had thrown you off so badly.
If you were trying to distract him, it hadn’t worked. His thumb grazed your earlobe and the jewelry adorning it. “It matches you.”
Seokjin’s presence in your life was like the moon. You’d walked for so long through the night that at first, even his light had been blinding. But it hadn’t taken too long to become accustomed to his honest, kind nature.
A few months went by. Though Seokjin hadn’t exactly hesitated to talk to you before, sending you cute animal pictures or memes, he became thoughtful when you saw him in person.
“I feel like you’re hiding something from me.” You sat across the table from him. His brothers had already finished eating and scattered throughout the house and yard. You’d declined his invitation for food, but accepted for the company.
He finished chewing, his hand over his mouth. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh yeah?” You looked - very deliberately - at his ears.
He bolted out of his seat. “Hey!”
You waited a long moment before rising. His hands pressed into your shoulders, holding you firmly in place. “Y/N, don’t turn around and I’ll talk.”
“You’re special to me.”
“Special...in what way?”
“As my friend. As someone I like.” He claimed the chair next to you.
“Can we give it a try? It doesn’t need to be official. I just want to know you better.”
“Seokjin, I haven’t been in a relationship for a long time. I’m not...suited for one.”
“If you don’t want to, that’s fine. But why do you think you’re not suitable?”
You drew patterns on the table. “Um, I’ve just never wanted another person there…”
His hand settled over yours. He squeezed your fingers. “Sure. But why, Y/N?”
Your throat grew tight. You choked out, “I didn’t want to be a burden.”
He drew you to him, tucking your head against his shoulder. You blinked tears away.
“You’ve had to be strong for so long.” He murmured, melancholy infusing his tone. “You’re not alone anymore, butterfly.”
It took a few hours to surface from the dark ocean.
You were in Seokjin’s room, watching him explore Hyrule. He had a Nintendo Switch hooked up to his TV, with a Breath of the Wild cartridge inserted. “Seokjin?”
“Hmm?” He frowned as he furiously mashed buttons. “Just a minute.” On the screen, Link was fighting a masked man in red. The enemy teleported around the battlefield, annoying Seokjin. “Stand still and let me kill you!”
He breathed a sigh of relief when his attacks connected. You kept an eye on the enemy’s HP bar, cheering inwardly each time it went down. After vanquishing the masked enemy, he set the Switch on his bedside table and turned his attention to you. “What is it, Y/N?”
“I’m ready to talk about why I’ve been afraid of relationships.”
He inclined his head, a silent ‘continue.’
“The fear of being a burden is constantly in the back of my mind, because of my health. I always thought...why would someone choose that? Why choose me, when so much of my life is this disease?”
“Because you’re a lovely person.”
“There are so many lovely people out there who are actually healthy.”
“But they’re not you.”
“I’m not any other person either, does that make them any less valuable?”
“No, of course not. That’s not-” He groaned. “Y/N, you’re making this impossible. Everyone is special. But you are in my life, and you’re important to me. I don’t give a damn about your health.”
You wanted to believe it.
If it had been anyone else, you wouldn’t have. Even so, doubts haunted you.
Seokjin was a good person to the core. You’d seen that when he took care of Jungkook, in his cooking for his brothers, and how he’d bolstered your spirits when it was all too much.
You could trust him.
But you didn’t want to drag him down. He deserved better.
He took your hand, thawing the ice in your bloodstream. “Look at me.”
You did. He intertwined his fingers with yours, his rings warm against your skin. “I know my own mind. And I like you. Your health doesn’t scare me.”
“It’s easy to say that.”
“If we were in a relationship, I could prove it. Remember Jungkook, too. I’ve seen his side of it.”
“..Okay. I’ll do my best.”
He chuckled softly. “You don’t need to do that. Butterfly, just be yourself.”
Euphoria was unfamiliar. You poked at the dreamlike haze, searching for shadows. You relaxed when the sunlight faded. A full day had passed, and it hadn’t been a fantasy.
Grains of sand shifted under your shoes. Waves rolled against the shore, and he was at your side. “Jin, why did you start talking to me? In the hospital, I mean.”
“You looked sad. And I thought...maybe you could help Jungkook. He struggles with it a lot. If anyone can help, it’d be you, right?”
Moonlight spilled a silver path across the water. “I don’t know that I’d be able to help another person when I’m not in the best mindset. He should talk to a professional, I think.”
Jin parked next to the curb. You unbuckled the seat belt when he spoke, rushing through his words. “Y/N, there's something...I have to be honest. I didn’t ask you out purely for my sake. The next relationship I had, I wanted to meet someone similar to Jungkook.”
The euphoric bubble disintegrated. “What?”
“I’m sorry. But please believe me, I care about you.”
“Me or my disease?”
His face was veiled in shadow. “Y/N, it’s you.”
“I need time to think, Jin. You were using that part of me...and I just..”
His confession was a new experience. You’d struggled with self-esteem for years, only exacerbated by the crushing diagnosis. To fight with a resistant body and know that you would never, ever be freed from that for as long as you lived...it was hard.
There was always the hope of remission. But the risk of a flare-up was there too, in every period of peace.
Seokjin had deliberately sought you out because of your burden.
You knew that his intention was admirable and came from love for his brother. But the thought that not all of your interactions had been for the sake of, well, interacting...hurt.
Were you not enough?
Jungkook called after a few days, asking to talk in person. You agreed after he promised everyone else would be out of the house.
“How are you feeling?” You asked, looking him over. He didn’t appear pale, tired, or otherwise sick. What you were really concerned about were the possible symptoms you couldn't see.
“I’m okay. I managed to finish a painting.” His lopsided smile vanished. “I heard what happened.”
“Yeah...I assume you’re going to explain.”
“I’d like to. But I won’t if you don’t want to hear it.”
You couldn’t say no to his earnest request. “I’m listening.”
“He didn’t mean it like that. His exes were nice enough people, but they couldn’t understand how protective Jin-hyung and everyone else was of me. They wanted more from him than he was willing to give. He was just hoping that someone like me would be more sympathetic.”
You nodded slowly. “I can see that.”
Light glimmered in his eyes. “Can I pass on a message?”
“It’s alright, I’ll call him later. Jungkook, your brother said he was worried about you. Can I help you at all?”
He blinked at you, confusion clouding his face. “Help me..? On what?”
“Your health. If I can help, I mean. I only have my life to go off of, but I’ve been talking through it with a therapist.”
“Oh. Um...I want to ask you some questions.”
You dialed his number with shaking fingers.
“Y/N?” The concern in his voice made tears spring to your eyes.
“..yeah. It’s me. Um, listen, Jin. I talked to Jungkook earlier...and I thought a lot.” You opened the door, stepping onto the deck. When you tilted your head back, you could see the stars.
“Are you okay?”
“I will be. I just..needed to ask you something. It was real, right?”
“Yes, butterfly. I wouldn’t have gone this far if I didn’t care about you.”
“Okay.” You wiped at your eyes. “I still love you, Jin. Can we start over?”
“I’d like that.”
Your heart warmed when he blew you a kiss over the phone.
“Get some sleep, Y/N. I’ll text you tomorrow.”
“Yeah. Good night, Jin.”
“What do you want to do in the future, Jin?”
“I’m supposed to take over the family business. After all, I got a degree for it.”
“Do you want that?” You asked, hearing wistfulness and regret entwined in his voice.
“I...no, not exactly. But I’m the eldest.” He nudged his plate of fried chicken.
“That doesn’t matter. What do you want to do, Jin?”
He dragged his plate closer to him, avoiding eye contact.
“You’re so good to everyone. What about yourself?”
“I’d like to work in a hospital...not a doctor, but maybe a nurse? I want to help people.”
“You can do that and still be there for your family.”
Although he didn’t look completely convinced, he resumed eating. You were glad for that, at least.
Lisa wasn’t home when Jin pulled in, so he parked behind your car. He caught a glimpse of a bike, sheltered safely under the deck. “Is that yours?”
You followed his finger. “Yeah. It’s been a while, though.”
“Why? The weather's nice.”
Resignation dyed your tone a muted gray. “I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting tired most of the time. I don’t have the stamina for biking.”
He was holding an extra helmet and standing next to a light blue bike. Your heart leaped when you noticed it was a two-seater bicycle.
Jin clasped the strap under your chin. He sat in front and kicked off.
You didn’t look at the scenery very much.
Jin was still seated when you clambered off his bike and removed your helmet. You attempted to do the same to his, but nervousness hampered your movements. He reached up and unclasped the strap. Carefully lifting his helmet, you set it on the ground.
You could swear he had a halo. He was cast in an azure glow.
Of course, you knew it was all in your mind. He couldn’t claim to be of angelic status any more than he could emit light. Physically, anyway.
You cradled his face in your hands and kissed him. “I want to spend more time with you today, doing something you like.”
His eyes lit up. He wheeled the bike back to his car. “How about playing some games?”
You laughed. “You bet.”
Jin was a master at Mario Kart. You tried to keep up with him (and Jungkook, who’d entered the living room before Jin started the game.)
But it was over for you when you looked over at Jin. It was too easy to get lost in his shining eyes and victorious laughter when he edged ahead in the race.
At the end of the round, you leaned against his shoulder. “‘M tired.”
He paused the game and plucked a pillow from the couch. “Lay down. I like to think I'm more comfy than the floor.”
You hugged the pillow to your chest, laying your head on his lap. You craned your neck to look up at him, smirking at the adorable tinge of red on his face and ears. The satisfaction transformed into a softer, rosy-hued emotion as you admired the intensity in his eyes.
Beautiful. He was in his element, playing a game he loved.
Your eyes fluttered shut. Even the grumbles of frustration when his cart fell behind didn’t tug you farther away from the realm of slumber.
The living room was gone, replaced by the dining room. Jin was standing in front of you. You were holding several forget-me-not flowers out to him. In his hands, the blue darkened to purple before fading into pink.
“What flower is that?”
He tucked it behind your ear. “It's saxifrage, butterfly.”
The stem was poking your cheek. You swiped at the sensation. It didn’t depart - if anything, the prodding intensified.
You blinked to see Jin, his index finger hovering above your face. Jungkook was splayed out on the couch behind him, fast asleep.
He broke into a grin. “You were out for an hour, sleepyhead.”
You stretched. “Well, I guess it’s time to go then.”
“Actually…” he pursed his lips. “If you want to, we could have dinner. I don’t really have time to make anything, but we could do takeout.”
You poked his cheek in retaliation, then swiped your thumb across his lips. They parted under your touch. “I’d love that.”
Lisa landed a job as a journalist and moved out of the apartment.
Jin responded to the news with apprehension. “I don’t want you to be alone. You could try living with us.”
“That’s...I still have five months left on the lease. Besides, I can’t live with seven people, Jin, even if they’re your family. I need a separate bathroom.”
“Oh. Right.” He sighed over the phone.
“Did you hear back from the college yet?”
“Not yet. But I think I’ll be accepted...at least, I hope so.”
“They’d be crazy not to. You already have a good record with them.”
You could tell he was smiling. “Thanks, butterfly.”
“How’s Jungkook doing right now?”
Relief saturated his voice. “He got a good report from his doctor. They said he’s in remission.”
“That’s great! Tell him I said ‘Good job! Don’t overdo it.’”
He chuckled. “I will.”
The door to Jin’s house opened before you could even knock. He leaned against the doorframe, with his forearm bearing most of his weight and his ankles crossed.
And his outfit...You raised an eyebrow. He was stunning, but you didn’t understand why he’d donned a fitted black suit when you were just coming over to hang out. At least, you’d thought it was a casual invitation. Then again, he had mentioned that he’d kicked his brothers out for a few hours.
His ears were turning a condemning shade of red the longer you stared at him.
“Jin…? Did you have ulterior motives, perhaps?”
“...Maybe a few..?”
You took a step closer. “I don’t mind them, Jin. Not from you, not like this.”
“Oh…” A small tremor ran through him as you grasped his tie.
“Although you didn’t need to dress up. If you could see yourself...well, besides through a mirror. You’re breathtaking, Jin.”
“Ah...okay.” Jin looked down at himself, a seed of doubt flickering in his expression. As if you could possibly be talking about anyone else.
You laughed softly. “Come here, you ridiculous man.” Tugging on his tie, you connected lips. His tongue swiped along your bottom lip, asking for entrance that you eagerly granted.
Jin’s hands settled on the small of your back, pulling you flush against him. He lifted you into the air as you flung your arms around his neck. Your legs wrapped around his middle before he supported your thighs.
You nibbled on his pierced earlobe, blowing a soft breath out and watching the silver drop earring sway. His grip tightened on you.
Glimmers of moonlight reflected in his eyes.
You have the most beautiful heart.
How was I lucky enough to have these moments with you?
“I’m really happy we met, you know.” As he entered his room, you nudged the door shut with your foot.
“Me too.” Everything about Jin seemed impossibly tender. His voice, his eyes, his smile. He lowered you onto the bed with the same amount of care.
You shimmied out of your jeans, using his shoulder for balance. Your shirt landed on the floor next as you knelt. You undid his belt and started sliding his dress pants down his toned thighs, palming his bulge as you went. Above you, Jin let out a quiet groan, his fingers momentarily frozen in their descent of his shirt buttons.
Heat pooled in your core as he took time to fold his clothes and hang them over the back of a chair. He was playing with you now, you were sure. There was no way he didn’t know how much you yearned for his touch.
When he was within reach, you tangled a hand in his hair and slotted your mouth against his.
His hands slid up your bare back, lingering at the bra band. The fabric pressed into your skin before falling.
Jin pulled away. The lunar glow of his irises had been swallowed by a starless night. “I want to see all of you.”
A shiver raced down your spine. Breathless, you let the garment drop to the floor, followed by your underwear.
“Sit back properly, Y/N.”
You didn’t look away from him as you scooted backwards, into a nest of pillows. He sank to his knees. “Can I go down on you, butterfly?”
You trembled at that, how he could call you so innocently, yet resemble nothing but temptation. His pupils were blown out in lust, his honey skin gleaming with a light sheen of sweat, and his lips swollen with your kisses.
“Yes.” You managed. “But you still have boxers on.”
He smiled at that. “I’m taking care of you right now. Lay back and relax.”
A yelp escaped when he gripped your thighs, lifting your lower body in order to place a pillow there. He propped himself up on his elbows.
Jin’s hair was silky, brushing against your skin as he pressed a kiss to your inner thigh. His thumb glided along your folds, paying attention to your clit. His tongue circled the bundle of nerves, switching between broad swipes and targeted licks.
Your body jolted when he inserted a finger past your entrance, curling it inside you. He lapped up the juices, his gaze flicking to yours.
A fresh wave of arousal hit you.
The casual way Jin had held you captive with just a look...he’d taken root in your life, to the point that you’d suffer without him. You’d recover, eventually.
You always did.
But not at full health. Your body couldn’t even remember what that was like, and your mind struggled to process the distance between who you were ‘before,’ and who you were ‘after.’
“Butterfly?” Jin called you back. He’d sat up.
You blinked. “Yeah?”
You rested your forehead against his. “It’s not much. I’m just grateful to have you in my life.”
His hands cupped your face. Searching your eyes, he asked, “Do you still want to continue?”
He saw the confirmation as you spoke, “Yes.”
Jin removed his boxers, tossing them on the floor. He positioned his cock at your folds and eased into you, watching your reactions. You bit your lip at the beginning of each movement, and let out a little sigh as pleasure overwhelmed any fading discomfort.
When he bottomed out, Jin touched your cheek. “Can I move, baby?” At your nod, he rolled his hips, delivering controlled, powerful strokes.
“Perfect for me.” He rasped. “My beautiful butterfly.” Jin intertwined his fingers with yours, gazing down at you. Locks of hair curled against his forehead, his earrings catching light with every thrust.
You dragged your nails across his back. His shoulders were incredibly broad, tapering to his more delicate waist. Despite all the power he possessed, he was one of the most gentle people you knew.
He bent his head. You felt a slight sting above your collarbone, but he soothed the love bite with his tongue. He latched onto a breast, teasing the sensitive bud and stoking the fire in your core. It raced along your nerves, leaving them alight and craving more.
Perhaps Jin was the best (non-medicinal) cure for you.
You traced his jaw, lightly hooking a finger under his chin and urging him further over you. You nosed at the hollow of his throat, and a moan tumbled from his lips. When you nipped at his skin and laved the mark, his hips stuttered.
“Y/N,” his voice had deepened, “I don’t wanna hold back anymore.”
You looked into his eyes. “Then don’t.”
“On your knees.” Ji-...Seokjin growled.
You scrambled to obey. His palms pressed into your shoulder blades, guiding your hands flat against the bed. You melted inside at the dual caress on either side of your spine, and swallowed a whimper when his hands became rough, kneading your ass.
“Let me hear your pretty voice.” He sank into your warmth.
Seokjin set a brutal pace, pounding into you. His panting, the slap of skin against skin, and your ragged breathing intermingled. You were hurtling towards the edge of release, but a wave of bone-deep weariness was licking at your heels.
His rhythm slowed. You had time to wonder if Seokjin or Jin was in charge, before his hand pushed your legs apart. He rubbed circles on your clit, varying the pressure of his touch.
You were falling apart under Seokjin’s skilled fingers, but the oncoming orgasm sapped your strength. Your arms shook, threatening to give out. Unable to fight the fatigue creeping in around your joints and limbs any longer, you gasped, “I can’t..Jin, I’m exhausted.”
He pulled out. In equal, warring measure, your body ached for rest and to have him inside you again.
You curled into a ball, listening to his steps fade. He was back within a minute, his touch and voice soft when he placed a hand on your shoulder. “Y/N?”
You made a muffled noise, hidden by the pillow. His weight sank into the bed. You lifted your head reluctantly when he stayed silent. “Jin...I'm so sorry.”
He shook his head. “You did your best, baby.”
Your lip quivered as you cast your gaze down. “-...do better for you.”
“I know.” He started to dab at your neck with a damp cloth. “You’re more important, Y/N. There are other ways to get off.”
You sat up slowly. Jin’s hand moved to your shoulder.
A strangled noise left your throat when you glanced downwards. You should’ve known, since he hadn’t climaxed earlier.
Actually seeing his erection made it sink in.
“How can I help you?”
“You don’t need to do anything.”
You were begging now, tears welling in your eyes. “Jin, baby, please. Let me help you.”
He wrenched his gaze away from your pleading, heartsick expression. “I’m sorry.”
You threw the duvet over your head, but it didn’t dampen the sound of running water in the next room.
He was taking a shower.
The tears overflowed.
You wanted to be his equal. He’d focused so much on your own pleasure, forgoing his own.
The shower stopped not long after. You burrowed closer to the wall, bunching the duvet in your fists to hold it down.
His steady footsteps halted at the edge of the bed. “Can you let me in, butterfly?”
Your resolve wavered, and you released the fabric. Cool air brushed against your back as you heard him get into bed. The duvet fell again, covering you up to the shoulder.
Jin embraced you from behind. His palm radiated warmth against your stomach, and he hooked his leg over yours.
You tried to wriggle out of his arms. “How can you want to touch me now?”
His voice was unsteady. “Because you’re my miracle, Y/N.”
“But I didn’t...you wouldn’t….I didn’t help you.”
“I didn’t want you to because you’re exhausted, butterfly. When you feel up to it, you can.”
You clamped a hand over your mouth, trying to stifle your sobs.
“Shh, baby. It’s okay.” Jin whispered into your ear. He didn’t loosen his hold, and you placed your other hand on his forearm.
Not to push him away, but to reassure him you understood. That you were grateful...for everything. And that you’d try your hardest to have him finish with you.
He listened to your breathing even out and felt your body go lax as sleep claimed you. A small twinge of regret flashed through him when he remembered the letter he’d received.
He’d tell you later, he decided. You needed rest, not excitement (even if you had been awake.)
“This is amazing, Jin!” You were beaming by the time you reached the end of his letter. “When does the program start?”
“September 5th.” He was smiling too, his dream glowing in his eyes.
Pride fluttered in your chest. “You’ll be great, baby. Wait-” A slight frown marred your forehead. “Is that why you had a suit on before? To celebrate?”
“Well...yes. It was the first reason, anyway.”
You covered your face with your hands. “Oh god. I just assumed...fuck. I’m sorry, Jin.”
He almost laughed, but guessed that would not have been the kindest reaction. “No, there was that too. I posed in the doorway like that to seduce you.”
You snorted, but it was betrayed by the warm curve of your lips. “Of course.”
His reason for wanting to be a nurse was simple. Two of the most important people in his life depended heavily on the hospital and its staff. He knew how important it was to have well-functioning hospitals, not just for you and Jungkook, but for everyone.
You were just happy to see him working towards his dream. You had no doubt that he'd be able to play a part in other people’s lives.
Jin had a healing presence, after all.
copyright : 2021, berryjam17
Hi!!! I'm so happy to meet another hq sickfic blog! If requests are still open, could you potentially write a stubborn Tanaka showing up sick? I've seen next to no sickfic content for him so it's really exciting to see you write him! Thanks :)
(This is Blobby from Blobbyfics - that's just a side blog and idk how to send asks directly from there lol)
hi love! i'm excited to meet you too! i would love love love to write for him, he's one of my comfort characters haha.
i'm so sorry if this is bad -- this is only like the fourth fanfiction ive ever written and i am not the most experienced writer ever.
i hope you enjoy this! i'm writing him with a fever, sore throat, vomiting, etc -- i hope that is ok with you since you didn't specifically request it.
hope you like it!
NOTE: ok wait this kinda turned into angst kinda a lil bit so uh
Tanaka's immune system, to say the least, was not quite as strong as his personality -- or, for that matter, as strong as he liked to say it was. He got sick often, colds or stomach flus, but he almost never got sick-sick, as in unable to move. When he caught bugs like this, it was bad. It only happened once or twice a year, and it was usually a particularly bad stomach bug or a virus.
So that's why he was so confused as to why he felt like shit when he woke up. He had just gotten really sick, only two weeks ago, and it seemed to have gone away on its own. He wasn't supposed to get sick again for at least a couple of months.
But it felt like something had clawed at the back of his throat, it felt like it was bleeding. His head felt like it was filled with cotton, and his bedroom felt agonizingly hot. As he stood up, he almost passed out -- the room was spinning with every step he took.
The clock on his wall read 4:14pm. He had gotten home from school and taken a nap, so that he could have energy for volleyball practice. He had been feeling off when he went to sleep, a bit of a sore throat, but nothing like this.
Practice started at 4pm, so he just had to get his uniform on and bike there -- crap, he was late!
Tanaka realized that practice had already started, and he nearly cried. He did not want to get yelled at by Daichi, especially not feeling as sick as he was. But, being sick could wait. The team had a big game coming up, against Aoba Johsai, and Tanaka had to prepare for it.
He ignored the churning that was beginning to take place in his stomach and put on his uniform. He went to the mirror and ran a hand over his shaved head. He barely had any hair, but it felt hot on his skin. His cheeks were flushed from whatever heat he was feeling, and his eyes were tired. He splashed cool water on his face and drank a bit of water, but he grimaced as he swallowed. It was just water, but it hurt going down. His throat felt raw when he swallowed, and his stomach gurgled as the water hit it.
But, he decided, he was fine. Volleyball practice was the most important thing right now, and he couldn't disappoint Daichi.
He got on his bike and rode to the gym. The fresh air almost made him feel better, though it was getting harder and harder to swallow with the scraping pain in his throat. Additionally, his stomach was upset and getting bloated; it was making noise and he could feel it sloshing as he pedaled.
After five minutes or so, he pulled up to the Karasuno gym. He sighed, and opened the door. The team was scrimmaging; there was one open spot on the court where Tanaka usually was. As he walked in, the game stopped for a second.
"Tanaka. It's 5:22." Daichi said firmly.
"I'm sorry," Tanaka muttered. He wanted to give a more sincere apology, but his stomach was churning and the room felt so hot that he was scared that if he spoke, he'd throw up.
Daichi sighed. He was definitely going to chew Tanaka out later.
"Get in the game. Ten more minutes till water break. I'll talk to you in the locker room then," he said, and Tanaka just nodded.
He joined the game, and it felt like the longest ten minutes of his life. Every movement he made sent aching pain through his joints and a sick gurgle up his throat as his belly sloshed. Every deep inhale he took seemed to scrape the back of his throat like a knife. His head still felt stuffed, and it was beginning to ache. He could barely push through, and he endured several stares from his underclassmen as they noticed his pale coloring and sluggishness.
Finally, at the end of the scrimmage, Tanaka made his way to the locker room. He didn't respond to any of the things Noya said to him, and told him he was tired. Nishinoya may not have been a very observant person, but he could tell something was up. From Tanaka's don't-talk-to-me demeanor, Noya decided he'd just leave his friend alone.
Tanaka sat on the bench of the locker room and put his head in his hands. His head was pounding, and waves of nausea and chills were starting to hit him. He tried to breathe slowly -- maybe he just felt sick from anxiety -- but it didn't seem to help. The room still felt disgustingly hot, and every small sound made Tanaka's stomach jump.
"Tanaka, stand up." Tanaka looked up. Daichi was suddenly in front of him, and he looked positively terrifying. Tanaka stood up.
"You know you can't be late. We've been over this too many times. I understand that you're tired, but we all our. You're one of our most reliable players and you cannot be missing practice right before one of the biggest tournaments of our lives." Daichi was mad.
Tanaka swallowed. "I know."
"Well, then start doing something! You've been late far too many times and this is just the last straw. You were put on the starting lineup and you need to be responsible." Daichi wasn't shouting, but his voice was firm. "Why the hell were you late after missing practice for two whole weeks?"
Tanaka was holding back tears. "Daichi, I don't know. I-I feel really sick, and I was sleeping --"
"Do not give me this bullshit Tanaka. You were just sick. That excuse doesn't work. Listen, I'm not that mad at you, I just need the truth."
"Daichi, I swear it's the truth--"
"Do not lie to me!" Daichi suddenly shouted, and it made Tanaka feel even sicker.
"I'm disappointed in you, Tanaka."
Those words made tears fall from Tanaka's eyes.
Daichi left the locker room.
Tanaka put his head back in his hands and sobbed quietly. He felt like shit. His head pounded. His stomach suddenly clenched, his sob catching in his throat as a warm liquid rose from his stomach. He knew he couldn't make it to the toilet. The only thing near him was an empty cooler, and he leaned his head over it before vomiting. His vomit was warm, and his skin suddenly felt freezing cold. He really had eaten almost nothing all day, so all that came out of him was bile and spit. But his stomach kept clenching, and he kept being sick. Every retch scraped the back of his throat, and it hurt so badly he wanted to cry. He was done being sick after a couple rounds, and he leaned back against the wall. He wrapped his arms around his stomach and groaned; everything hurt and the room felt like an icebox. Shudders came over his body, and he shivered from the cold feeling he had. He closed his eyes, and he wasn't sure how much time passed until a loud noise forced his eyes open.
It was Tsukishima. He was refilling his water bottle when he smelled something sour. He walked into the room where Tanaka was sitting. His stomach looked bloated, and his skin was pale. Tsukishima's brow furrowed.
"Tanaka, are you sick?" He asked.
Tanaka groaned in response.
Tsukishima looked at the cooler by his feet, and immediately wished he hadn't. It was half-filled with clear vomit, bile, and something bright red. He looked up at Tanaka and saw blood on his lips. Tsukishima's eyes widened.
"Tanaka, you threw up blood. We need to get you to a doctor. Can you stand?"
The older boy let out a half-assed grunt. Tsukishima walked over and put a hand on his forehead. "And you're burning up....and chills, too. Are you still sick?"
Tanaka hiccuped. "God, this is so lame...I'm the worst upperclassman ever....this is the least cool thing that's ever happened to me..."
Tsukishima sighed. As much as he wanted to be annoyed, he was concerned. "Stay here."
Tsukishima got Daichi and Suga to come into the bathroom, and they nearly panicked when they saw the blood. Daichi's face had gone pale, and he had a look of guilt on his face. Suga was calling an ambulance. The noise attracted the rest of the team, and they came to the locker room a few minutes later. Most of them sat silently on the bench near Tanaka, exchanging worried glances. Ennoshita began tending to said boy, rubbing his back and asking him questions gently. Daichi and Asahi just stood together, silent, terrified.
About ten minutes later, and ambulance arrived, and thank God it did, because Tanaka had already passed out twice before it got there.
The only one to ride the ambulance with Tanaka was Daichi, as he had insisted on it. He just sat next to Tanaka's stretcher, rubbing his underclassman's shoulder and reassuring him. When they arrived, Tanaka was taken away to a room, and Daichi could only stand in the waiting room due to the fear that his presence would stress out Tanaka. He was terrified for his friend, and the only real thing he could do was text Suga for reassurance.
After almost an hour, a doctor came into the waiting room.
"Is there someone with Tanaka Ryusonuke here?"
Daichi stood up.
"Come on back," said the doctor. He led Daichi to a curtained-off room where Tanaka was sleeping.
"Is he ok? Is he dying?" Daichi asked anxiously.
The doctor chuckled. "No, no, don't worry about that. He just has a nasty case of strep throat. And the blood in his vomit -- that's just from his tonsils bleeding. That can happen sometimes."
Daichi tensed at the mention of a tonsil issue. "Does he have to get them removed?"
"Nope. It's not too concerning if this has only happened once. We think he passed out from exertion, and he's not dangerously ill. We do want to keep him here overnight though, his temperature is nearly 106 degrees. He got hit hard; I assume he just has a bad immune system."
Daichi nodded. "He does. Have you contacted his sister? His parents are away on business."
The doctor nodded. "We have, he handed him his phone to call us. She's on her way actually."
Suddenly, the curtain opened, and Saeko walked in. She immediately rushed over to Tanaka, and rubbed his head which woke him up. He groaned, and she kissed his cheek. "Ryuu, you scared the shit out of me! Glad you're feeling better!"
"I'm not..." he groaned, and she giggled.
Daichi turned back to the doctor. "I think I'm gonna go," he said.
The doctor nodded. "Of course. See you later."
As Daichi walked away, he could hear Saeko talking to Tanaka, and Tanaka groaning and telling her to be quiet. The captain smiled to himself; it hadn't been nearly as bad as he thought it would.
wildest dreams [ikevamp jean x f!MC]
♡ summary: in which jean brings the former princess—now his lover—to his hometown. there, he reconnects with his childhood friend, finds a home for him and his lover to settle down in, and starts to find closure from their pasts.
♡ word count: 4.7k words
♡ additional tags/warnings: royalty AU / plenty of fluff to make up for the previous angst / mild references to past sexual trauma / non-explicit references to sexy times / mozart makes a guest appearance
♡ notes: this one’s a belated piece for fluff day of the jean route countdown party. it has been approved as “SO SOFT AND WHOLESOME AND CALMING TO READ” by my beta, so pls take my humble offering of fluff to make up for the pain and darkness of the previous parts ❤ oh, and MC finally gets a name lmao
♡ part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5
♡ tag list: @juminly @nafeary @iridescent-hana @blu-tigerr @judgemental-seal @loverofmanyrandomthings @sweettangy
♡ AO3 link
Several months pass before they decide to embark on their journey eastward. Thankfully, Napoleon didn’t draw out their farewell any longer than necessary, other than a few jokes about being invited to the wedding. But under the humorous front, Jean can see that Napoleon’s soul is lighter now, having finally ‘atoned’ for his perceived sin. Good. That’s one less thing Jean has to worry about now.
Now they’re back on the road. No more trekking on foot this time—they have both saved up money from doing odd jobs around the village, sufficient to buy a horse. It took her a few days of slow, easy riding before she became accustomed to horse-riding; and now that she has, they’re making good time on their journey.
“Yes, Princess?” he responds automatically.
That earns him a light, playful swat on the arm. “Silly, you don’t have to call me that anymore! I’m your lover now, remember? So you can drop all the formalities.”
“Sorry, Arielle,” he corrects himself and presses an apologetic kiss to her forehead. “Force of habit. That aside, you wanted to say something?”
“Oh yeah, that.” She adjusts himself in his arms, so she can comfortably look up at him from her position in front. “I just wanted to say I’m really excited to see your hometown. And more than that, I’m looking forward to making a home with you, and to our future together.”
That smile of hers is incredibly dangerous, for it could put the sun shining above them to shame. Dangerous for Jean in particular, because he has not a clue how to handle her cuteness that only seems to grow day by day. Her happiness is his pride and joy, of course, but the things she does to his heart—Lord, have mercy.
“I’m… yes,” he mutters. Unable to meet her gaze any longer, he stares determinedly at the road ahead of them. Focus on the dirt on the path, Jean. Focus on the trees around and the chirping of the birds, Jean. Do not think about stopping the horse to make love to her right there on the grass. While he doubts she would mind, they are rather close to their destination. And after weeks of near-nonstop travelling, he would rather reach there before sundown so she can have a proper rest.
With a soft giggle, Arielle coaxes his face back down for a kiss. He obliges, slipping his tongue into her mouth to elicit gasps and moans from her, holding her firmly against him with one arm while his other hand trails down to idly rub her thighs through her skirt. Being able to do this—take her into his arms to rain a deluge of kisses on her as and when they want—is something that would have never once crossed his mind, not even in his wildest dreams. He had spent months forcing his true feelings under suffocatingly tight shackles, putting his duty before all else. And now that he’s no longer holding himself back, he can’t help but throw all of himself into each time he touches her, kisses her, makes love to her. Hm, perhaps that is why she manages to get his passions roaring with just a smile.
“Let me guess,” she says, pressing a finger to her chin. “You were trying to say you’re really happy and excited too?”
A small smile forms on his lips before he realises it. “I’m always happy and excited when I’m with you, mon amour. I apologise for my inadequacies in expressing my feelings, but I assure you that being with you has made me the happiest and luckiest man in the world.”
“It’s fine, I’m already used to the way you are. Besides, your awkwardness is part of your charm.”
His smile tugs downwards into a puzzled frown. “Is it really? I would have thought being better at expressing my feelings would be a more desirable trait in a partner.”
“Well, everyone likes different things. As for me, I like you. In fact, I love you, just so we’re clear about that.” The beam she sends his way, blindingly ethereal, renders him unable to breathe for a moment. “And personally, I’ve never cared much for guys who are so oh-so slick with their words. So yes, I find your awkwardness very endearing.”
The thing is, it has been a good few months since they went from guard-and-princess to lovers, yet he still has no idea how to react when she compliments him. And so openly too, at that. Not sure what else to do, he gently nudges her head to look straight ahead, then enfolds her tighter in his arms and buries his face in her hair.
“That’s enough from you,” he mumbles into her silky tresses. “Hush. Rest. We still have a long journey ahead of us.”
“Fine, fine, you’re the boss now.”
She settles back against his chest, lacing her fingers through his splayed over her stomach. Her eyes gradually flit shut, and the muscles in her face relax as sleep takes her from the present moment. A fresh warmth courses through him, and he realises, Ah. This is the emotion those artists keep trying to put into words. Into art. Into music. This is love.
Content, he watches his beloved rest as they continue on their journey.
They have decided on his hometown as the place they will settle down in. It’s the safest option, given that it’s so far from the capital that it’s highly unlikely that anyone would recognise Arielle as the former princess.
However, that means they have his family to deal with. Jean’s relationship with them is… odd, to say the least. He does care about them—the whole reason he left his hometown to join the army was to financially support them—but it isn’t easy to forget the years of taunting and teasing he had endured from his brothers for being too ‘feminine’ (as if there was anything wrong with being ‘feminine’ to begin with). The joke is on them now, though, as he is confident he can throw them across the room if he wanted to, while they have only gotten sedentary over the years. Hence, he makes the obligatory visit to his family quick. There is still one very important person he needs to visit—and ask a favour from.
“So you show up out of the blue—and with a lover now, apparently—after months of rumours that you had vanished or died going around, and ask to stay under my roof?”
“It won’t be for long,” Jean reassures his oldest friend. “It will only be until we find a place for ourselves.”
Wolf clicks his tongue as he turns his critical gaze to Arielle, who curtsies to him.
“We would appreciate the kindness, Herr Mozart,” she adds sweetly. Not that such things normally work on him, but Jean appreciates the effort.
And true enough, Wolf stands there in the doorway with a not-so subtle scowl on his face, before heaving a sigh. “I don’t do kindness, but since Jean is an old friend I suppose I can let you both stay for a few nights. And drop the formalities while you’re at it—it’s stiff and annoying.”
“Um, sure… Wolf?”
Wolf rolls his eyes, but Jean can see the deeply-buried warmth in them. “Now, quit dawdling and come in already.”
Arielle blinks, as if surprised by his response. Jean can’t blame her. This is already considered incredibly friendly by Wolf’s standards. Perhaps Jean ought to have a talk with him about being more openly kind to people—it’s a conversation that has been going on for years that still has yet to reach its conclusion.
Wolf’s tour of his home is brisker than the one Napoleon had given them of his own—if it can even be called that, since he merely points them to the room they’ll be staying in before locking himself back inside his music room. He said it’s because they had interrupted him while he had been in the midst of composing a new song, but Jean knows that Wolf really just wants to give them some privacy to settle in.
“So, your childhood friend,” Arielle begins once he’s shut their room door. She folds her arms and stares almost accusingly at him. “Real nice guy, isn’t he? If Napoleon is daytime then he must be nighttime.”
“He just doesn’t know how to express his kindness,” Jean explains placidly. Honestly, he would have been surprised if she hadn’t taken offense to Wolf’s caustic attitude. “If he truly wasn’t a kind man, he would not have agreed to give us shelter in the first place.”
“I suppose that’s true.” After placing her belongings on the dresser, she drops herself down onto the bed. “I never asked—how did you two become friends? I mean, considering that—no offense—you are you and he is who he is…”
“We make a particularly peculiar pair, non?” He settles on the bed beside her, turning over onto his side so he can keep her in his vision. “It’s not a long or interesting story. We became friends because we found the company of most other people distasteful.”
More specifically, Jean had run away from home after a bout of particularly cruel teasing from his older brothers. Wolf found him trying to stifle his pathetic sniffling in the Mozarts’ backyard, heard him out, and let him stay at his house until Jean felt brave enough to return home. During their time together, they discovered they shared a common interest in despising people. From that point onwards, a lasting bond was forged, which has not weakened one bit despite years of not having seen each other.
“Ah, I see.” She can most likely tell there are more details he’s too embarrassed to divulge—if the smile she’s fighting back is anything to go by—but thankfully she doesn’t press him for them. “It’s like you were each other’s safe place, then! That’s really sweet. I’m glad you had a friend like that growing up, Jean.”
Indeed, he does owe Wolf a great debt. If it weren’t for his encouragement, Jean likely wouldn’t have found the courage and confidence to enlist in the army despite being the runt of the litter.
“Now I have you too.” Overcome with affection, he takes her into his embrace and kisses her, pouring all his love and devotion into this one simple action. “You are my comfort and solace.”
A lovely pink flush fills her cheeks, and her eyes dart away from his. “O—oh stop it, you big romantic.”
Now she’s just being confusing. He thought women liked this sort of thing?
“Do you really wish for me to stop?” he questions, puzzled.
“Well… No, not really. It’s super sweet; I love it. It’s just that—aargh!” Flustered, she burrows her face in his chest. “It’s just that I get all squirmy and embarrassed when you say such romantic things. I enjoy it, but I don’t know how to react without feeling silly!”
Ah, so it appears she is in the same boat as he is. That’s reassuring to know—very reassuring, truth be told.
Plus, this means their playing field is level now, since it’s clear they are both equally bad at taking compliments.
With a smirk on his face, Jean leans down such that his lips are right beside her ear. His hands rove down her back, and he delights in each shiver running through her body when he touches a spot he knows is particularly sensitive.
“You have no idea how adorable you’re being, mon petit ange,” he murmurs into her ear. He catches the lobe between his teeth and tugs lightly, eliciting a gasp of pleasure from her. “You’re so beautiful, I have no reason to look at the night sky anymore when all the stars are in your eyes.”
That was, admittedly, cheesy, but it succeeds in making her burn a deeper shade of red. Taking that as encouragement, he continues.
“You are a delight to my eyes, a blessing to my heart, and fulfillment for my soul. All that occupies my mind is you, every minute of every hour of every day. Previously as your guard, my duty was to protect your body. Now, as your lover, my duty is to protect not just your body but your heart and happiness too. And it’s one I do with joy. That is to say… Je t’aime, Arielle.”
He ends his speech with several kisses trailing down from her ear to her neck. However, when he tilts her face up to claim her lips, her small yet impossibly strong hands push him down. He lets her guide him, until he’s on his back against the sheets and she’s straddling his lap, holding him down. Normally he doesn’t favour being pinned down—given certain traumatic events of the past—but she’s the one exception. The one safe haven he has in this tainted world. Only she’s allowed to touch him and take control of his body like this.
“You were doing that on purpose, weren’t you?” she whispers, her chest heaving slightly and her face bright red. “Trying to get a rise out of me, hm?”
He shoots her a knowing smile. “Did it work?”
“How about you tell me?”
Then she’s kissing him with a ferocious passion. Her fingers hastily work on his shirt buttons, and he helps her shrug it off all the way. There’s no more need for words as they let their bodies do the talking—shedding clothes, mapping out each other’s skin like it’s their first time together again, desperately seeking out each other’s heat each time they part even the slightest bit.
After several rounds of blissful love-making, Jean gets up and dresses himself. He pauses for a moment, watching the subtle rise and fall of the blankets tucked around her bare form. She’s lovely all the time, but there is something about her beauty in the afterglow of sex that has him enchanted. Honestly, he could go another round or two, but he should let her rest, so he departs and heads downstairs instead.
“Had fun with your woman?” Wolf questions, raising an eyebrow. He’s seated at the dining table, hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate. “I could hear you two from my room. While I was composing.”
“Pardonne-moi. We’ll try to keep it down in the future.” Jean takes the seat opposite him, then notices the purple box between them on the table. “Dessert?”
In response, Wolf pushes it towards him. “Macarons. For you. And her too, I guess, whenever she wakes up.”
“Merci.” Jean takes one and pops it into his mouth. Immediately, he recognises the taste—it must be from the dearly beloved bakery in the town square. He didn’t have the time to show Arielle around town earlier, so it’s heartening to know they are still in business even after all these years. “Did you just purchase these?”
“Yes. I needed an escape from the noises coming from your room, so I thought I might as well buy some macarons while I’m out.”
In other words, he wanted to welcome Jean home with the dessert Jean enjoys the occasional indulgence of, and he can’t just come out and say it. It’s nice to know that there are a number of things that don’t change and likely never will.
It’s at this point that Jean figures that most old friends would take the time to catch each other up on what has been going on in their lives, exchange stories, talk about mutual friends.
They’re not like that, though. Just from taking a quick look around the neat minimalistic style of Wolf’s home, hearing the gossip during his travels, and observing Wolf’s behaviour, Jean has already more or less figured out what life has been like for Wolf. His career as a musician has been successful, but he’s choosing a quiet and modest lifestyle despite his fame. If there are any gifts he has received from the nobility he performed for, they’re most likely kept away somewhere if not tossed out, as there isn’t much of anything decorating the hallways or common rooms.
Although there isn’t much to look at, Jean pretends to be interested in the off-white paints of the walls polishing off his third macaron. Wolf is most likely busy gathering his thoughts, finding the most appropriate way to express them, and so Jean lets him.
“So,” Wolf says, proving Jean’s hunch right. “That woman—she didn’t come out of nowhere, did she? It’s not like you to suddenly go around seducing women, so you and her must have met somewhere.”
Jean figured it would be something like this. He places his fourth macaron down, choosing his words carefully before speaking. “It’s a long story that no one else is supposed to know. In short, she’s the Princess, the one I was guarding. Or, to be exact, the former Princess.”
“Oh. When you introduced her as ‘Ari’ earlier, I knew that had to be short for something,” Wolf mutters. He pauses to take a sip of his hot chocolate, sighing against the rim of his mug. “You said it’s a long story, so I won’t bother asking you for the details as to ‘how’ or ‘why’. More importantly, and I know it’s unlike me to ask this… But, Jean, are you happy?”
Jean examines Wolf’s expression intently. Though his normal face may be a constant cross between a scowl and a glare, Jean knows his oldest friend well enough to notice the glimmer of concern in those cool amethyst eyes.
“… I don’t think I deserve it, sometimes,” he says quietly, afraid his voice would carry up to the bedroom. “When I look at how beautiful she is both inside and out, and think about all the deaths my hands have caused, I wonder how she could love a wretched creature like me. Some nights, I fear this happiness I have found is a mere dream.”
And it must be a true testament to their friendship that instead of immediately jumping to shove reassurances down Jean’s throat, Wolf merely inclines his head with curiosity. “But?” he prompts.
A flurry of images flit through Jean’s mind. In each and every one of them, there is one central feature—her eyes, clear like crystals, blazing with a warmth that heals and protects. He recalls the feeling of her sweet lips touching his scar, her soft hands pulling his body into hers, her starlit smile that sends demons of the dark running in the opposite direction with their tails between their legs. Never on his own could he have come up with such pure, irreplaceable happiness—not even in his wildest dreams—which means it must be real.
“I know it’s not a dream,” he finally replies. A smile curls on his lips as he does so—he has been doing a lot of that lately. “This happiness, this love, is real because it’s something she and I have created together. Every day she gives me her love to replenish my soul, and likewise I do my best to return that love to her. That’s what being in a relationship means, non?”
Wolf eyes him over his mug for a moment, skepticism clear in his fine features. However, a rare, fond smile soon breaks across his own face. “You’ve changed a lot in the time we were apart. I never would’ve guessed you’d become such a hopeless romantic. I suppose I have Arielle to thank for that.”
Jean nods. Indeed, being with her makes him a better man each day. Which is to be expected—one would naturally want to be the best version of themselves to prove themselves worthy of their beloved’s love.
Without a word, Wolf gets up. Curiously, Jean watches as he tinkers around at the small kitchen table before returning with a steaming mug of hot chocolate, which he places on the table before Jean.
Jean raises an eyebrow. “Merci, but water would suffice—”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not toasting to your relationship with water.” Wolf rolls his eyes, like it’s supposed to be obvious. “Most people would do it with alcohol, but I’d rather not deal with you when you’re drunk, and Arielle needs to rest.”
That last part sounds reasonable, though Jean doesn’t know why—he has been categorically banned from alcohol, for reasons no one seems willing to tell him. Not that it matters; hot chocolate is good enough for him.
He lifts his mug to Wolf’s, quiet happiness and contentment coursing through him as they both murmur a quiet “Santé”.
“Wow, this place is lovely!”
“Careful.” Jean catches Arielle before she can trip over herself in her excitement. Not that he can blame her for being ecstatic. To their pleasant surprise, they managed to find an available cottage near the outskirts of town about a week ago. After making the purchase and dealing with other paperwork with Wolf’s (grudging) assistance, they’re finally moving in.
It’s a modest place, and quiet too since it’s away from the hustle and bustle of town. This works for them, since neither of them needs a particularly large or fancy place to live in. In fact, he thinks she’s glad to leave all the frilly stuff behind in the past. All they require is a functional space and a backyard large enough for Chérie to run around in. He can only hope she won’t be too chaotic, though, as Arielle has expressed an interest in starting a vegetable garden there.
They spend the next few hours cleaning the place up, unpacking their belongings (not that they have much to begin with), making dinner (or more specifically, she makes dinner while he helps to clean up the rest of the cottage), and testing out the sturdiness of their new bed frame before calling it a night.
Jean is starting to wonder if their time with Napoleon made some of his lazier habits rub off on them, because the sun is high up in the sky the next morning by the time they crack open their eyelids. They have a quick breakfast of toast and eggs—that Arielle insists she prepares on her own, so Jean contents himself with brushing Chérie’s fur in the meanwhile—before heading out to the garden hand-in-hand.
“Before I get started on my vegetable garden, there’s something very important I need to do first,” she announces. Draped over one arm is the dirty and bloodied nightgown she wore the night they fled the castle. In her other hand, she’s gripping a shovel. “I still have yet to pay respects to my father. Now that we’re no longer travelling and we have a place to call ours, I’d like to finally lay his soul to rest.”
Jean nods solemnly and murmurs a low “I understand”, because that’s all he can really say right now.
“I don’t have anything of his to bury, so I suppose this will have to do. With this, I hope to finally get some closure from his death, and from my past as a whole.”
Ah, now it makes sense why she’s carrying the nightgown. The king is dead, and the princess has been presumed dead too since no one has been able to find her even after months of searching. It’s only fitting that she says farewell not just to her father but to her old self by burying the last thing tying her to her former status as the princess.
Perhaps Jean could also try seeking some closure of his own. He believes he has the strength to do so now, with her by his side.
Deftly, he removes his eyepatch from around his head and takes a good, long look at it. While it served its usefulness in preventing unwanted questions about his scar and shielding it from his sight whenever he has to look in the mirror, he doesn’t want to hide it anymore. And there is no need to keep it on around her anymore. Whether his scar is on display or not, she always looks at him the same way, like he’s personally brought Heaven down to Earth for her.
“Would you mind if I buried this too?” he asks, holding out his eyepatch for her to see.
She glances at it, and her expression softens. “No, go ahead. I think it’s a good step for the both of us to take together.”
They get to work, digging up a hole in the ground just big and deep enough to fit her folded nightgown and his eyepatch in companionable silence. Once they’ve placed them inside and repacked the earth, Arielle looks up at him.
“Um,” she begins, fidgeting slightly. “I suppose at this point a prayer should be said? I mean, I think it could help my father’s soul find rest, and all that… If you don’t mind, of course.”
If he’s being honest, he does have some mixed feelings about praying for that man. The former king was an old fool—the repercussions of the decisions he had made decades ago still affect people today. And it’s because of some of those decisions that Jean bears the scar he has.
But Arielle’s father was a man who—with all his flaws and foolishness—had done his best to love her. And it is for that reason that Jean decides to pray for rest for his departed soul.
Kneeling down on the dirt, he closes his eyes and does the sign of the cross.
In Your hands, O Lord, we humbly entrust the soul of Arielle’s father, the departed king. In this life, You embraced him with Your tender love; deliver him now from every evil and bid him eternal rest. The old order has passed away; welcome him into paradise, where there will be no sorrow, no weeping nor pain, but the fullness of peace and joy with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.
Done with his prayer, he bows once to the makeshift burial site, then turns to her. On her face is a small smile—somewhat sad and wistful, yet also at peace, like the weight of her grief has been somewhat lifted. Just seeing that leaves him with the curious sensation of lightness in his chest; of relief he has always craved for but never felt like he deserved. It’s more than the weight of the eyepatch that has been taken off him; it’s like out there someone—Jesus, God, or maybe just himself—has started forgiving each one of his numerous sins, exonerating him of the regret and guilt he has been carrying around for nearly a year now.
As if feeling his eyes on her, she looks up at him, and her smile brightens a little. “I feel… lighter,” she says softly. “Like I’ve finally let go of that horrible night and left it behind in the past where it belongs. Thank you, Jean. Truly.”
He pats off the dirt on his hands, so he can take her into his arms and kiss her forehead. “I didn’t do much. All I did was pray—you were the one who made this decision to find closure and move forward.”
“Just accept the thanks, will you?” She kisses him before he can respond, which he wholeheartedly accepts. In the quiet peacefulness of the place they can finally call their home, bathed in the soft warm rays of sunshine, holding and kissing the one love and truth in his life—this must be what the scriptures have described as Heaven.
“Hey, Jean?” she murmurs, her breath fanning across his lips. “I think I’d like to stay out here a little longer. Will you stay with me?”
Really, she doesn’t ever have to ask. It’s the vow he made as her lover to grant her every wish, ensure and protect her happiness, make even the wildest of her dreams a tangible reality. And when she gazes up at him with such a sweet, tender expression… only the most heartless monster would dare refuse her.
“Of course. I will stay for as long as you need.”
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the finale (just smut really)
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Chapter 2 Inukag angst
The surgery lasted for five nerve wracking hours, all the while the distress in the group building. They were kept semi-up-to-date by a nurse that the surgeons were struggling to control the bleeding in Kagome’s brain. When it was finally over, the primary surgeon brought the family into a separate room where he showed them scans to help in explaining the situation. It was the first time they learned the air bags had not deployed, and even though Kagome was wearing her seat belt, her head is believed to have struck the steering wheel, and the driver’s side window as she was jostled.
“We went in and repaired as many of the damaged blood vessels as we could, but as you can see here in this CT scan, there was some anoxia, erm, loss of oxygen to the cells, and the damage had reached the hippocampus. If you picture being shaken with a lot of force, the brain was essentially whiplashed. The good news is, the internal injuries are not as severe as it could have been and are localized to only one side, but the bad news is where the injured areas are.”
“Why is that?” Inuyasha questioned.
“The hippocampus is an important part of the brain for regulating the limbic system... when Ms. Higurashi wakes up, chances are high that she’ll develop what’s called retrograde amnesia. If her body heals well enough, it will only be temporary, which I believe will be the case. However, there is also the small chance her memory loss could become permanent.”
“Wait, so Kagome won’t remember anything?!” Panic-laced with Inuyasha's tone.
“Not exactly, and again, the memory system is very complex. We don’t know all the answers. But generally, people will remember long term memories, such as their childhood. She just may not remember the last few years of her life.”
“And if it’s temporary? When would her memories come back?” Mrs. Higurashi questioned.
“Generally, if her healing goes well, most recover in about 6-9 months with therapy.”
“Oh... no...” Inuyasha crumpled and fell to his knees, hands flying up to cradle his head in the realization— Kagome may not remember him, and along with her last words of hatred and tears as the only thing he had to hold on to... “No, no, no, t-this can’t be happening.” His heart started beating wildly in his chest and a sharp imagined pain dug into his temple as tears poured down his cheeks. “Kagome...” he whimpered. Inuyasha would do anything in to change what had happened. She didn’t deserve any of this!
Mrs. Higurashi too, kneeled beside the inconsolable man and hugged him. “We just have to hold out hope, Inuyasha, this is just temporary. I’m sure it’ll all work out, Kagome’s strong, so have faith in her.”
“I’m very sorry I don’t have better news,” the doctor apologized and gestured to the nurse who’d just arrived. “They’re moving her to intensive care now. The nurse will take you to the room.”
“Thank you, doctor.” Mrs. higurashi then turned her attention to Inuyasha. “Can you stand up dear? We should follow the nurse.”
He nodded quietly and staggered to his feet despite all the strength having left his body. Inuyasha always had an appreciation for Mrs. Higurashi, but it was in this moment he understood just how strong she truly was. Kagome’s mother survived losing her husband to an accident when the kids were little and now her own daughter was unconscious in a hospital. Yet here she was holding it together and comforting the man who’d played a role in it. Inuyasha allowed her to guide him by the hand like the scared child he’d become. She was for all purposes like a second mother to him, and he was grateful to have her in his life.
But the second they crossed the threshold of the sterile room, what little strength Inuyasha didn’t have left, dissolved at the sight of Kagome surrounded by the machines keeping her alive. He stared silently as the nurse explained further. A medically induced coma... breathing and feeding tube, catheter, blood transfusions... left distal wrist fracture, broken rib, punctured lung and chest contusions, cracked left eye socket... his mind zoned away from the woman’s static words, instead affixed to the visual’s confronting the group. The love of his life as if asleep, but with all those wires, and tubes, beeping machines, and face bandaged showing only a small portion of her right side was a real life horror movie scene. His eyes tracked the peaks and valleys of the heart monitor or piston-motion of the breathing apparatus beside the bed as of it tracked not Kagome’s vitals but his own life and the one, he had with her. Yes, there’s always the hope she’ll heal and bounce right back. Her mom was right, Kagome was strong, and Inuyasha loved that about her, but... humans are still such fragile creatures.
Inuyasha walked over to the side of the bed and gazed down through glassy eyes. “I already bought a ring...” he mumbled through the tears, “was just waiting for the perfect time to pop the question. I should’ve just... listened to her...” Inuyasha collapsed beside the bed with his head hung low and ears so flattened they were barely visible through his white hair. “I can’t even imagine not having her at my side.”
Miroku stepped forward and placed a hand on his friends shoulder. “Why don’t you let us take you home for now? There’s nothing you can do, and I’m sure Kagome would say you should get some rest.”
“I’ll stay tonight,” Mrs Higurashi added. “You should listen to your friend and get some rest.”
Inuyasha was just too exhausted to argue. He hugged Mrs. Higurashi and told her he’d be back the next day. Then he handed Miroku his car keys, while Sango would follow in their car. Frankly, he didn’t think he would be getting any sleep, but they were right. It wouldn’t do Kagome any good if he didn’t take care of himself too. The car ride was silent for the first half of the journey, but eventually Miroku started asking him more about what really triggered the fight. Inuyasha had already explained the reason earlier, so it was annoying to be grilled all over it again.
“But do you understand now?” Miroku pushed his friend. “Do you truly, and I mean truly understand why she was angry? Even I’ve seen your ex being rude to Kagome and you didn’t say anything about it.”
“Yeah,” Inuyasha growled back. “I get it. I was being a dick this whole time. But I can’t go back and change it now, so what’s the point of torturing me about it?!”
“Because you can still fix this moving forward. Look, I’m just trying to help you here, so cut the attitude. None of us are perfect—.”
“I’ll say, you womanizer,” Inuyasha rumbled under his breath.
“Exactly, but I changed once I met Sango, did I not, because that’s what you do when you love them. So, do you know what you need to do?”
“Yeah...” the hanyo sighed and slumped in the seat. “I gotta cut Kikyo off, just tell her we can’t be friends anymore.”
Miroku quirked an eyebrow based on the lackluster tone in Inuyasha’s voice. “Do you really mean it, cause it sure as hell don’t sound like it.”
“Look, man I’m fucking tired! I’ve got a lot on my mind! But I fucking mean it, okay?! If I have to choose between Kagome and Kikyo, I pick Kagome!”
Miroku parked the car and turned to his friend. “I’m glad to hear that. Now just follow through and don’t let Kikyo pull you back in.”
“You make her sound like a sorcerer or something.”
“The way she’s had you wrapped around her finger, it wouldn’t surprise me.”
The three friends bid each other good night leaving Inuyasha alone again in the empty house, and as he expected, he didn’t really sleep at all that night at home. He couldn’t even bear to sleep in the empty bed because it was a constant reminder of Kagome’s absence. How was he supposed to endure months of this, and that’s if the doctors predictions are correct? So, as he curled up on the couch, just staring out into the dark room, Inuyasha did the only thing he could do. Think. Without Kagome to elaborate, it fell onto his shoulders to fully come to grips with what triggered this event. Inuyasha meant what he’d said to Miroku about his choice, but it was a small lie about understanding her anger. He could grasp her frustration, but not the degree to which she’d snapped. Was it really that bad, and if so, how did he not realize it sooner? Needless to say, his haunted dreams that night left him stricken and tired come morning.
The house just felt so much colder without Kagome there, as if all the warmth and vitality left with her on that stormy, dreary night. Even after the first night, Inuyasha couldn’t bear to sleep in their bed all alone and stuck with the couch instead. Nothing made him feel better, despite the efforts of his friends and family who supported him as much as they could. Each day that passed by became a hollow routine. Go to work during the day, spend his evening at Kagome’s side, and home again to an empty house. He would sit there holding her hand, praying for just the smallest change that never came all the while nothing but his thoughts and the beeping machines to remind him he was alive. Because the longer this went on for, each time he’d look at her, it brought the opposite feeling of life. It was all in his head, but that’s what he felt like, dead inside, with the source of his soul lying in the bed in front of him.
Inuyasha never believed in the gods, but he prayed with all his heart they’ll hear his pleas. He squeezed Kagome’s lifeless hand. “She deserves to live, please, I’ll do anything,” his voice cracked, “anything to bring her back to us...”