dead men tell no tales reimagined as horror-action
thinking again about how dead men tell no tales had so much wasted potential to be a fantastic horror-action film. instead of focusing on j*hnny d*pp and his stale, washed-out-drunk “comedy” or trying to shoehorn in yet another love story to replace will and elizabeth, the writers/producers/directors should have taken a look at the absolutely phenomenal make-up, costuming, digital effects, and actors’ performances that they had on their hands for the crew of the Silent Mary, and at how the original script written by Ted and Terry heavily played up the horror element.
a horror-focused film would have been a breath of fresh air for the series and could have even made several other elements of the film (lieutenant scarfield, shansa, etc) work better. it would have made the idea of a “final adventure” ring much more true, and most of all, it would have harkened back to the horror elements prevalent in curse of the black pearl and ESPECIALLY dead man’s chest, which worked very strongly in those films’ favour.
just think about the possibilities (quite long, so i’ll put it under a cut):
ghostly hands coming out of the walls of the Monarch like in the trailer, but the viewer never sees what happens next. all we get are flashes of the massacre and Henry’s perspective, trapped in the brig with no light as he struggles to see and hears screams of terror and demonic shrieks of glee.
we don’t see the ghosts coming into the brig due to the darkness; all we see are golden pinpricks in the dark, noises of shuffling and agonized breaths and the sense that something is terribly wrong. they only appear to the audience as one of them brings a torch down into the brig for Henry’s benefit, and suddenly the Mary’s crew is revealed in all their terrifying glory to both Henry and us.
they stare and leer at him, and crewmembers in the background have red blood around their mouths. the audience gets the sense that they very much don’t want to let Henry go.
when we next see Henry in Saint Martin, he’s raving. he still meets Carina, still speaks with her, still agrees to help her, but he is terrified by what he has seen. he tells her about the corpses and the pools of blood he had to walk through to get to the Monarch’s longboat. he tells her how the demons watched him go with hungry eyes. he tells her that he can still hear the screams.
Scarfield does not seek to kill Henry just because he is a traitor - Scarfield sees him with Carina, whom he lusts after. Henry might help her off the island, might protect her. Scarfield wants him out of the way so that he might possess. he has heard plenty of the ghostly crew and cares not that they are attacking british ships - every officer not himself that dies is a greater chance Scarfield will be promoted in the seniority-obsessed ranking system.
Jack is doing well when we first see him, the cunning fast-talker we’ve always known him to be. it is only after the rumours of a ghostly crew with a captain calling himself Salazar spread like wildfire around Saint Martin that he starts trying to drown himself in liquor to assuage the bone-deep terror.
when Salazar and his crew are freed, they don’t have a mild little cheer. no, they tear their hair and howl like madmen. they have been storing all their pain and hate against pirates and empires for decades - they are going to bathe the oceans in blood.
when we first see Shansa, she is hooded and cloaked, somehow able to track the movements of the dead. she takes her robe off and we see why: she is covered in scars from blades and fingernails and teeth, wounds left her when she was the “one man left alive” from a voyage into the Triangle many years ago, back when the Mary’s crew could not control their bloodlust as well as they can now. and that is terrifying to us - what they did on the Monarch was their version of being restrained.
we see the news of the dead crew spreading as they attack pirates and british ships alike. churches are overflowing with terrified citizens; people bar their doors and hold fast their rosaries and guns at night.
Jack’s crew were loyal to him up until they heard of the dead - now they must be paid off by Henry to rescue Jack, because every pirate in the Caribbean knows who Salazar is; and now that he is the undead, they daren’t let him find them. the rumours are coming back from men left alive that the crew of the Mary sing and laugh as they butcher without remorse, that the evil curse they lay under forces them to feast on human flesh just to keep going, just to feel anything. Jack’s crew do not mutiny later because he suggests it - they mutiny out of sheer terror.
the scene with Salazar and Barbossa’s first encounter is one of the few in the film where the horror element is quite prominent (the other being Salazar’s intro, and it isn’t a coincidence that these are two of the film’s strongest and most compelling scenes). very little about this would need to be changed to work, save for one thing: Salazar does not tap his sword five times at the end. instead he simply says, “you can take what’s left of them,” and nods to his lieutenant and his men, who all begin to smile as they turn to the crew. when we see them next, Barbossa’s crew are down to less than half. we never find out what happens to them.
when Salazar tells his story and we see the past, we are stunned. here is the crew of the Mary, working together, smiling, laughing at their victory. we see and hear them talking about how finally civilians will be safe; about how they can retire, go back to their wives and children and parents and siblings. we see them as normal men with a noble goal.
we see them awake and scream in pain and terror, and it is on their agonized screaming at the start of their decades-long imprisonment that we cut back to the present. now we can understand, at least a little, how once-good men became monsters.
Carina, Henry, and Jack would have far more dramatic reactions to the Mary’s crew on the beach. for Henry, these are the demons that slaughtered an entire crew as he sat in the brig, trapped and helpless and terrified that his horrific end was imminent. for Jack, these are men whom he’s seen before as humans, and whose hatred and bloodlust is directed at him. for Carina, who has never seen ghosts before, she is struck dumb. these men have horrific injuries, and they are looking at her with detached curiosity and bloodlust that seems a thousand times more horrifying than the looks Scarfield gave her. she can almost see what they would have done to her had they caught her.
there is no ridiculous wedding scene on at hangman’s bay. instead, the locals saw the giant ghost ship sailing into their waters. they know who it is the demons want, but are not aware that the Mary’s crew cannot set foot on land. they intend to give Jack up to the ghosts in exchange for their own lives.
Salazar still executes Barbossa’s men in the name of the king. he is completely mad, but some part of him still thinks himself a righteous naval officer.
Scarfield wants the trident, but more than that, he wants to use it and Shansa’s knowledge to control these dead men. he remembers the reign of terror Beckett wrought with the Dutchman. he would see it repeated for his own personal gain.
in the ship-to-ship battle, Henry initially tries to defend Carina until he realizes that the ghosts aren’t attacking her. they want her to lead them to the trident so that they can seize it for themselves. our heroes do not yet know that they want to end their curse. in fact, the crew of the Mary don’t really know that themselves - they’d much rather have the pirates surrounding them dead to rights, and then free themselves.
every time one of the Mary’s crew is dissipated due to contact with land, the others react. they scream and howl and gnash their teeth and their eyes flare gold. the viewer can feel how much they would like to crush the heroes’ bones into pulp.
when Henry is captured, the officers of the Mary cannot take their eyes off of him. he is terrified for his life, shaking the whole time. when Lesaro mentions that they have tried possession before, the other officers mourn their comrades who became trapped in human bodies and slowly died of thirst, still unable to leave the Triangle, all because they wanted to see the sun again. the viewer is conflicted - are we supposed to pity these monsters? there are flashes beneath the madness that suggests that deep down, they just want to be human again.
when the crew’s curse is broken, we see more of it. we see limbs regrow, bodies knit together again. we see the bloodthirsty monsters we have come to fear laughing and weeping with joy, embracing each other. we hear their terrified screams for help as Salazar finally demonstrates that his own bloodlust was decidedly not the byproduct of a curse as was the case for his crew and pursues Jack.
Barbossa climbs down the chain to kill Salazar, but the former spanish officer deals a mortal blow. just as he is about to kill Barbossa, Jack himself decides to muster up his courage and sacrifice to save those dear to him, which throughout the films, he has always done. he falls from the anchor, and together with his rival-turned-best-friend, he plummets to his death with one last jaunty sweep of his tricorne hat.
there are many dead from the battle. Barbossa’s pirate empire is in ruins, and british power in the caribbean has taken a massive hit. people everywhere are terrified. Henry, however, finds that his terror has stopped and resolves to be a braver man after witnessing what Barbossa and Jack have done. Carina pledges to honour her father and never again to disbelieve in ghost stories. she decides to become a pirate.
in this bittersweet ending, a glimmer of hope: the Dutchman surfaces, with two new crewmembers. Will hangs up his hat to Jack, with Barbossa as his first mate, and Jack is finally reunited with Bill, who has made amends with Barbossa. the old captain-versus-captain dynamic is back - and destined to play out forever. with uncharacteristic solemnity, Jack vows to ferry Salazar’s crew to the other side so that they can finally rest.
Will climbs aboard the Black Pearl, where the crew has elected Carina Barbossa captain. he asks if she might sail him to Singapore - his wife is the pirate king and lord of the south china sea, and that is where she holds court. Henry and Carina, true pirates, share a kiss as the sun rises and our heroes head off to find new adventure. the nightmare is finally over.
The Caffeine Heresy - Part 1
(click here for Part 2)
Dark Magic to Heal the Pain.
"I have heard whispers that the Emperor will be paying us his visit soon," Fulgrim said, a delicately painted porcelain cup lifted to his mouth. He took a sip of the dark black coffee, and eyed his friend's reaction to the news.
Ferrus coughed in surprise, quickly setting down a silver mug of his own. He anxiously wiped his face, pale hands contrasting sharply with his dark skin - years of vitiligo at work. With eyes wide he examined Fulgrim's beautiful features for any hint of humor. "Well, I suppose you'd know wouldn't you?" Ferrus said, and reclaimed his mug of bitter black. He took a sip, his craggy face warming from the steam.
The pair sat opposite, in the second floor of Ferrus's esteemed café - Iron Hands. Weapon racks adorned the warm wooden walls, gleaming silver in the firelight. Fulgrim took his gaze from his cup to the crackling fire, and sighed. He set his cup on its saucer and placed it neatly on the iron side table.
Fulgrim, the Phoenician, the most beautiful face in the coffee industry, looked to his dear friend Ferrus with a knowing eye. "Perhaps you'll win this year, my dear?"
"I'll win alright, I'll show the critic a real cuppa joe," Ferrus downed the rest of his fresh cup, caring not for the temperature. He pointed the mug at Fulgrim, "I'll even beat you at your own game, I will."
Fulgrim folded and unfolded his hands, "There's nearly infinite competition in this city, who's to say which cafes he will even visit?"
"My shop was in the bloody papers this year, if he don't come here it's proof of his favoritism. He came here once, damn once, and didn't even care to make comment 'cept that there's 'room for improvement,' I'll show him a damn fine cup of coffee, I will, you'll see Phoenician." Ferrus leaned forward in his chair and took a poker for the fire. As he stoked it, he continued, "You shouldn't even be in the running, everybody knows the stories, how before he started traveling the world, when he was just a young man, he owned the first shop, which," he rolled his pale eyes to Fulgrim, "is now yours. Emperor's Children, he called it, and you'd not a thought to change it."
"I think the name is funny," Fulgrim sat back in his chair, trying not to take insult at his dear friend's lashing. "And has a sort of pretty ring to it."
"Pretty's right," Ferrus set the stoker back in its holder with an iron clang. He sat back and looked to Fulgrim, realizing when he saw the look on his friend's face the compliment he'd paid. He huffed and scratched at his short hair, looking away from the elegantly painted face which gazed on him without a care for how Ferrus saw himself.
Fulgrim took a steadying breath, trying to will away the pounding of his heart. Fulgrim had trouble when with his stubborn friend, he wanted him to know how much he cared for him, how highly he thought of him, but Ferrus was blind to his affection. The owner of the Iron Hands was thick, and Fulgrim loved him for it. He loved him for his iron will, for the quiet care he put into everything he did. He looked to his friend, whose scarred face was twisted in thought, yellows and oranges from the fire caressing his skin with light. "You don't have anything to prove to the Emperor, dear," Fulgrim sighed. "Your café is perfect, if he can't see it he's a fool."
Ferrus kept his gaze to the fire and said quietly, "Fool or not he's got the industry wrapped around his little finger. A bad review again might do me in."
The moon pierced through the black sky above Union Station. He was on the last bus in from the States, with little more than a suitcase at his side. He didn't need much, he'd everything in himself, from the muscle memory of his fingers, to the endless well of know-how he'd learned. He was certified by the American Specialty Coffee Association, but he didn't need the certificate to prove that he was the best in the game.
Lucius breathed in the cool night air, and began his hunt for the finest cup of coffee in Toronto.
He came across a Circle K, a patch of yellow Illumination at the corner of the dark city streets. He stepped inside, smoothing a hand over his long white braid to catch any loose hairs. The man at the counter glowered at him, and Lucius met the gaze and held it.
"Sign on the door said you have coffee here," Lucius said, "or did that just mean you've got Starbucks in the fridge."
The man behind the counter looked at him through long, oily black hair. Lucius thought he looked like a wraith, some undead ghoul, and it didn't help the image when the man replied only by raising a boney finger and pointing to the back wall. Lucius followed the point, and saw behind shelves of candy and snacks, that in the back there was a small cafe. Lucius didn't expect much, and he didn't bother to thank the ghoul behind the counter. He wove past the isles gracefully until he found himself at the half-counter. The barista, if you could call him that, was just as dour and goth as the cashier.
"You have espresso?" Lucius asked, one brow raised.
The guy jerked his thumb to a little menu sign, and leaned back in his stool until he was on the two hind legs of it.
Lucius put a hand on his hip, seeing that the menu read as follows:
Night Lords Coffee
Dark roast $2
Light roast $2
Coffee moka $3
Hot chocolate $2
Hot Apple Cider $2
"So you do have espresso?" Lucius looked back to the... barista.
He shrugged and slammed his stool back down, "No, machines broken, so no mocha's either," the guy reached behind him and took a piece of chalk to cross out espresso and coffee moka.
Lucius's mouth gaped a moment, "Then just a cup of your light will serve," he said finally, appalled. This could well have just been a stand, a K-Cup machine, better yet, Lucius thought, just have a line of self-serve roasts, same as the soda.
The guy took one of the glass pots and a styrofoam cup, and poured a too-hot cup before giving it to Lucius over the half counter. Lucius handed him a five, and the guy opened the drawer and handed him back two coins. Lucius took the coins curiously, "No tax?"
"Tax is for plastic," he leaned forward, putting his elbows on the counter, "Anyway, mister. Lottery'll be drawn in the morning so if you want your tickets you'd better get them tonight." The barista nodded his head towards the front, where Lucius saw a woman standing, brightly colored papers in her hand, waiting expectantly as the wraith-cashier began to work at a machine. A tinny sang out a cheer, winner! would you like to play again?
Lucius pocketed the coins and muttered, "I think I'm alright," before he pulled his suitcase out of the odd little 24 hour convenience.
The coffee was fine, surprisingly so, and it warmed him in the chill night air. It was late summer, but Lucius found himself cold in the dark with not much more than his long, thin leather jacket for warmth. It was a favorite of his, cut neatly and embellished with golden thread which stood out against the dark purple hide. It didn't provide much protection from the cold, however, he knew he'd need a new one before winter fell in Toronto.
He caught a night bus through the city to his AirB&B. He'd find a place to live soon, he'd get it all sorted out. For now, his savings and funding would get him where he needed to go, and once he found an appropriate job he'd be set. On the bus, he saw the city pass, even saw a couple of darkened café windows. None looked too impressive to him. Particularly the repetitive Roubute Guilliman's, which appeared to be on nearly every street, blue cups littered on the sidewalk, and to Lucius's dismay, slurped loudly by the fellow on the bus seat adjacent to him. Lucius slumped in his seat, downed the rest of the styrofoam coffee, and waited for his stop to be called.
The golden sun was peeking through the red curtains, and Khârn knew he was going to be late for work, but he couldn't bring himself to move from the couch. The migraine was too much this morning. So he laid still, hands on his forehead, willing away the tears forming at the corners of his eyes.
The footsteps coming from the bedroom were like gunshots to his skull, and Khârn groaned, distracting from the pain only momentarily.
The footstep-gunshots stopped suddenly, before they became quick tip toes accompanied by a worried voice. "Oh no, love, is it very bad this morning?" Argel Tal asked, his deep voice husky with sleep. He gingerly placed his hands on Khârn's thick biceps, but pulled them away when Khârn jerked beneath him.
Khârn peeked at his partner through his fingers, and nodded. Argel Tal was annoyingly there for him, his partner's worry only making the migraine worse.
Argel Tal spoke softly, needing to clear his throat but not wanting to make any loud noises, "Waiting for the medicine to kick in?"
Khârn nodded again, and closed his fingers, aching for darkness. His partner's presence didn't go away, and he could hear him muttering quietly. He was praying, Khârn knew, which annoyed him even more, though he didn't have the strength to protest. Especially so, since the damn prayers usually seemed to work. After a few quiet minutes together, the migraine began to recede into the back of Khârn's mind, and he could open his eyes again. He met Argel Tal's gaze, and his partner unclasped his hands with a bright smile, and put them down on Khârn's hand. Khârn threaded his fingers through his partner's, and leaned up to close the gap between them. They kissed briefly, lips warm against each other, before a wave of nausea passed through Khârn and he needed to lay back down. He groaned and put a hand over his ear.
Argel Tal put his hand over Khârn's a moment, before he pushed his hand back and gently threaded his fingers through the long dreadlocks trailing from Khârn's fevered skull.
"I'll make us breakfast," Argel Tal said, and unlaced his fingers from his partner to make way for the kitchen.
Khârn protested, "You'll be late too."
"Lorgar won't mind," Argel Tal ran the faucet for water, and drank deeply. "The Word Bearers will go on without me."
Khârn grumbled, but was thankful for his partner. He watched him work from the couch, strong, inked muscles rippling as he went through the simple tasks of breakfast. Khârn liked Argel Tal's tattoos, the delicate black lines so beautifully etched onto the toned stretches of skin. Goat horns, skulls, runes, insect wings, and other things decorated his once-God-fearing partner. Though, Khârn had not known Argel Tal when he worshiped the morning sun, that was before his time. Khârn suspected he wouldn't have liked Argel very much back then, and he grinned a bit from the couch, thinking that black magic suited the man much better.
"You're smiling," Argel Tal sang, knowing, and glanced over his shoulder. "You must be feeling much better."
"I love you," Khârn mumbled, and turned on the couch to clutch a pillow to his chest.
Argel Tal grinned to himself, and lifted and poured coffee from their French press. It steamed and bubbled, and he gave a silent prayer for health over the black liquid. He set the press down gently and took the coffee mug to his partner, who sat up to accept the mug. Argel Tal leaned down and kissed Khârn's forehead, and said, "I love you too."
He straightened up and said, "Now, let's get some food in you and get you to World Eaters. I fear for the boxing ring without you there."
"It's time to open," Marius Variosean called from the back of the flag store, The Pride. The first and finest café belonging to the Emperor's Children was manned usually by Fulgrim's select few. When Marius heard no call back from his partner in the front, he called again, louder, "It's 6:30, turn on the sign, Jules."
"Hold on," Julius Kaesoron called back. He was on a ladder, adjusting the label of the newly purchased painting.
"What, and open at 6:31? My hands are in dough right now, you're right there," Marius yelled. "Fulgrim wouldn't have it!"
Julius pursed his lips and left the placard as it was, "No one's even here," he sang, and climbed down from the ladder to go turn on their vibrant purple neon sign. The letters sprung to life, illuminating the entire window in cursive script. Emperor's Children Café, it sang with electricity. Julius looked upon it with a swell of pride, before he stepped back to observe the store front.
If he was to describe the café in one word, it would be regal. The walls were lined with ornate paintings, landscapes, portraits, abstracts, local modern art and historical art higher up, each piece decorated with the most detailed, hand carved frame that money - or favors - could buy. The ceiling was painted as well, commissioned by a somewhat infamous Torontonian, Serena D'Angelus. Snakes, bodies, clouds, and angels swirled above, supported by gilded crown molding along the walls.
And yet through all the refinery, there was an underlying neon glow of the modern era. Purple lighting illuminated the multi-leveled café at just the right places to offset the overall warm glow of the hanging yellow orbs of light. White, curving stairs led to the second floor where there were more sleek, white tables and chairs. A red rope hung over the stairs now, as they only opened the second floor for rush times - the stairs were hell for carrying drinks, for new and tenured employees alike, so they only opened it when more seating was required.
Julius moved with a quiet grace to the espresso machines, they had a twin set, and only expert hands were allowed to touch. He polished them carefully, before he checked the fridges and syrup stocks. He concentrated until a rich, warm smell emanated from the back, and Julius let his eyes roll in pleasure at the scent. A small groan escaped his lips as he imagined the delights his husband was making in the back, and he let his feet carry him to the kitchen.
Marius was at the sinks, washing up the baker's tools. He let a smile crack at the sight of Julius, his lip rings clicking gently against his teeth. "What are you doing back here, get out there and get some music going for God's sake, Fulgrim hates a silent café."
Julius approached Marius carefully, poised with hands raised so he could wrap his hands around Marius's thick waist, "Fulgrim this, Fulgrim that," Julius complained, "you'd think you were his husband, not mine." He trailed kisses from Marius's neck to his heavily pierced ear.
Marius squirmed in Julius's arms, "Do you want dish water on you?" He asked, "Because you're going to get sprayed if you don't go take out the biscotti." There was a humor to his voice, despite his protests.
With a final squeeze of his soft, perfect husband, Julius turned to the industrial sized ovens and went to work on the biscotti.
There was a chiming of bells, and Julius quickly finished plating the biscotti before he brought it up front to join with the other morning-baked treats. Julius raised his eyebrows as standing in the door was no customer nor employee, but Fulgrim himself.
Tall as he was, he stood with an easy grace, and filled the entryway with his presence. Julius sighed wistfully, enjoying the beautiful sight of the man. Today he wore a long silk wrap of shimmering lavender, edged with white feathers at the neck and sleeves, which bounced and breathed as he stepped. His long white hair was piled up in bound plaits, and held together with a golden hair pin. He wore a thin white shirt, which flaunted his pale collarbones, and black leather pants. His shoes were black velvet, and heeled, adding to his near godly presence. Julius blushed at himself for thinking this simple man as godly, and set down the biscotti so as to tear away his eyes.
"Pheonician," he called, "my dear, good to see you so early. Looking splendid today if I may say," Julius looked over the counter, making sure everything was in place.
"Julius," Fulgrim said, and moved to the counter. "Goodmorning darling, sorry to surprise you. It smells delicious today," he called louder, leaning over the counter, "is that Marius in the back?"
There was a quick clatter as Marius dropped the wet pan in the sink, "Fulgrim?" His pierced face peered out from the kitchen, "Good morning sir," he waved before going back to his chores.
Fulgrim smiled towards the kitchen, before he took a seat on the barstool, and waved his ringed fingers at Julius, "It's so quiet in here, why don't we get something playing."
"Of course, sir, any preferences today?" Julius asked, moving to the sound system.
Fulgrim had a faraway look in his eyes, "Anything will do."
The look, in addition to his early presence, began to worry Julius. He set about making some music before he went to work at the espresso machine. With nimble, expert fingers, he crafted a beautiful latte, and passed the cup to Fulgrim.
Fulgrim had busied himself with his phone, and looked to Julius with a humble gaze of thanks when he was offered the latte. A beautifully intricate design of trees was patterned on top, each swirl of milk in its perfect place. He took the cup to his mouth and graciously sipped the warm drink. A perfect balance of milk and bean, the flavors washed over his tongue and through his senses. Earthy in his nose, bright in the mouth, and warm in his hands. It was the perfect latte, and Fulgrim was eternally grateful for the love and care that Julius put into his work.
"You look troubled my friend," Julius said quietly, once Fulgrim had set down the cup.
Fulgrim looked up, painted eyes shining in the illumination of the café. "It's the Emperor, he's coming to Toronto."
"Already? Are his visits becoming more frequent?" Julius asked quietly.
Fulgrim shook his head, "I don't know. All I know is Horus sent me word that he would be coming soon, and we all ought to get prepared for the visit. He said this time would be different, but wouldn't elaborate. Ferrus Manus has already twisted himself in knots over it."
Julius sighed, "No doubt he's whipping the Iron Hands into some frenzy, trying to craft a new recipe for the man. What do you want us to do?"
Fulgrim twirled his fingers, "Nothing, really. I don't care what the man says about our café anymore. I know we are operating within the parameters of perfection, and I don't need him to tell me how to run my shop. This doesn't belong to him anymore." Fulgrim gestured to the building, "I've taken what he started and made it better. He only gave me such glowing reviews the first few times because I kept the café the same as he ran it. As soon as we displayed an ounce of creativity he turned his nose towards Dorn, hell, he's even gone and given it to Guill's for fuck's sake. We," Fulgrim gestured between himself and Julius, "are not in the same league as Guilliman's."
Julius nodded, and caught Fulgrim's ringed hand in his own, "Well, we'll be here for you. We'll keep the ship sailing."
Fulgrim kissed Julius's fingers, leaving a slight pink stain, "Of course you will." He unlaced his hand and leaned back, "Though I fear we may need a war council of the stores to prepare for this visit. And worse yet, we've lost Demeter, so we are down a man. Though I care not for the Emperor's review, I'd still like to be operating as normal, so I'm going to have to seek a replacement."
"I don't envy that," Julius sneered, "having to wade through the muck for a barista of our standards? Luck be with you, captain."
Fulgrim took the mug to his lips once more, "Luck indeed."
Saul Tarvitz was not enjoying the rush this morning. As a proud assistant manager of one of the Emperor's Children Coffee shops, he indeed liked to run a tight ship. He didn't fancy himself an expert barista, and knew he didn't excell with his customer service skills, but he could keep a tight, clean, orderly ship moving forward. If he had the proper tools that is. But Saul Tarvitz was down a barista, a damn fine barista at that, and so this rush hour he had to do twice what was normally expected of him and then some.
Saul managed The Fall, the second cafe bearing the name of Emperor’s Children. This one was smaller than the flag store, located in a neat row of shops with apartments overhead. The walls were lined with art just the same as the other cafe’s bearing the name, but overall this store was a touch more modern and minimalist.
He concentrated, on mug after mug of steaming black and freezing brown coffee. It was a blur of sensation that day, overlapping voices, laughter, music, the grinding of beans, the tamping of the grounds, the click and drag of the cash box. Beads of sweat formed at his shaved temples, and he kept a rag in his violet apron to wipe away the damp periodically.
To make matters worse, Eidolon, senior manager, was in a right sour mood. Saul hardly understood why Fulgrim tolerated the bastard.
"If I see you with that filthy rag against your face again, you'll be on dishes," Eidolon hissed at Saul.
"And leave all the fun of the front to yourself? I think not," Saul spat back.
"I could manage," Eidolon turned to smile at a customer.
The clock ticked away, song after song passed on the speakers, and eventually the crowd thinned to tolerable levels.
Saul took the opportunity of quiet to scroll through applications on their work computer. There were a handful of neat applications that displayed some level of coffee competency, and some even a level of creativity, but nothing stood out to him as overwhelmingly promising. He examined resume after resume until a customer came to the counter, and Saul stood from the computer to help them. Glancing back, he saw Eidolon was thankfully occupied in the office, and their floor team was busy in the kitchen.
This customer just wanted an Americano, and to be on their way, thankfully.
As Saul stood to clean the espresso machine, movement caught his eye by the front door. As the customer left with their Americano, a man brushed past them through the still open door. Saul was at first surprised to see Fulgrim, but the light shifted, and Saul realized this was a stranger who approached. His mouth went dry, and he quickly finished his cleaning of the machine and replaced the heavy portafilter.
Saul stepped to the front of the counter, "Good afternoon, need a moment on the menu?"
The man's pale eyes scanned the overhead menu quickly, Saul had only a moment to take in his presence before the stranger said, "I'll have a latte. Pull the espresso a little long."
Saul felt a challenge in his tone. "Here or to go?" His hand hovered near the cups.
The man met his eyes, and Saul realized he must be wearing contacts, for they blazed a vivid and unnatural purple. "For here,” he said, and swayed his shoulders to look around before glancing at Saul, “what designs can you do?" He raised a slender hand to pull his terribly long braid over his shoulder.
Taking a heavy white mug, glazed with their logo, Saul said, "I could make you something special. What's the name?"
He smiled easily, "Lucius," he said.
“Lucius,” Saul echoed, tasting the name in his mouth. He smiled, then went to work at the espresso machine. Lucius followed his movements along the counter. He maintained a casual air, but Saul saw the curious, examining eyes of a food critic. Saul attempted conversation, "Very fine jacket. Where did you get threads like that?"
"New York," Lucius supplied.
"Oh, you travel much?"
"I've just arrived in fact."
"Well," Saul pinched the handle of the white mug of espresso, pulled a little long, and swirled the frothy brown liquid. "Picked a fine café to visit," he caught Lucius's eye and braved a wink before he went to work frothing the milk. He knew this was an important step, one he'd done a hundred times over, and the challenge still lingered thick in the air. The metal of the milk cup became warm in his hand - the signal to turn off the steam. In a place Lucius could watch, Saul carefully took the curved white mug of espresso, and without hesitation, produced the signature aquilla, the double headed eagle, in the froth of milk. He breathed only when he was done, and glanced up to see a moment of genuine emotion pass across Lucius's face. The handsome traveler was impressed, and Saul felt immense satisfaction in that knowledge.
They stepped to the cash register, Lucius pulled the mug towards him, examining the design as he pulled out his wallet. Saul rang him up on the Square, and Lucius quickly taped away on the device for tip and interac.
"Staying in Toronto long?" Saul asked, trying not to sound too hopeful.
There was a playful look in Lucius's eyes as he replied, "Yes, I am." He continued, "I hear this isn't the only Emperor's Children Café?"
"Right," Saul nodded, eyes trailing along Lucius's frame. He clearly worked out, his waist was tight, his shoulders broad, and the way he dressed spoke volumes that he knew he was attractive. Saul lifted his eyes, "We have three shops in the GTA. If you're interested, you should visit our original store." Saul leaned forward over the marble counter, and plucked a card from the basket, "Address is here," he handed the card to Lucius. The traveller took it, and for the briefest moment their fingertips met, and their eyes flickered to meet each other's. Saul pulled away quickly, while Lucius held the card aloft a moment, examining it before he eventually pocketed it.
Saul chastised himself. Lucius gave his thanks and stepped away with his latte, and Saul was left thinking, you see a hundred handsome men come through here every week, you're not here to fall in love with them. They're just here for coffee. Forget him, you'll never see him again. Saul hoped he was right, for as much as a part of him longed for this mysterious stranger, another part of him sensed some darkness about him, some cockiness in his smile and step. Saul cleaned the espresso machine, tapping out the used grounds, and watched the stranger a moment, only long enough to see his reaction to the taste of the latte. Lucius closed his eyes, sipped the cup - he was really tasting it - Saul knew from his expression, from the pause in his movement. He opened his eyes, looked deeply into the cup, and drank again without further pause. So he liked it, Saul knew, and finished wiping out the grounds. He replaced the machine, and ignored the next customer that stepped in. Saul moved to the back, spent from the rush, and sent the floor lead out front.
ok wait i’m a SUCKER for hurt/comfort fics so maybe one day u n minho are fucking and he’s denying you ur orgasm which is normal you like being edged but ur day has absolutely SUCKED so it’s doing more harm then good and u say the safe word and minho is like internally panicking and becomes incredibly soft and just really gentle
ughhhh omg anon how'd you know i'm also a sucker for hurt/ comfort (just any kind if angst rlly) HERE WE GO (hope you like it <3)
[ 21:16 ] Lee Minho / nsfw
— gn!reader, use of safe word!
This is what you wanted. Minho's fingers deep inside you, his tongue swirling around your clit deliciously as you felt the, by now, second orgasm creeping up on you. You didn't get to experience the previous one, Minho retreating his hands, his mouth from you when you whined that you were close.
If you thought about it, it is not quite what you wanted. What you needed, in fact. You did want to feel good, you did want to relieve stress after the most exhausting day you've had for a while now. Just not necessarily like this.
But you didn't tell Minho about it, you have only attacked him with your lips, already undressing him in the living room where he has innocently been watching a movie before you pulled him with you to the bedroom. So Minho, without a thought about your motives, did what he always did; edged you, made you beg, nearly cry for him. Because he knew you loved it. You loved pleading him, you loved this feeling of him having such power over you. And Minho loved it as well, just as much, if not even more than you did.
But today was different, which your boyfriend didn't know of. Especially today you didn't want to beg for him, wanted him to just please you without playing his usual games. But once again, after you’ve said you were close, after begging him to finally let you cum, he pulled away from you, kissing your inner thighs, caressing your hips, your waist, anything he laid his hands on.
“Can you take just a little more kitten, hmm?”
Minho’s words were sweet, easing you a bit before he teased you again, running his delicate fingers over your most sensitive parts, elliciting a desperate reaction out of you. His mouth found your clit once again and you were so close so fast due to your hypersensitivity Minho has created that it was almost pathetic. But once again Minho denied you to relieve your stress, denied you to cum for the third time now. And this was the point where you decided you couldn’t take it anymore. You felt tears building up in your eyes, your mind running wild and even though you hated using your safe word on Minho - because he didn’t know about your day, didn’t know he was doing something wrong - you did say it, almost screamed it out, clear and loud for your boyfriend to hear it.
Minho stopped in his tracks, immediately, his eyes widening in fear, his heart sinking into his stomach. He hurried to quickly wipe away the tears that now spilled over, running down your cheeks silently. He cursed himself internally for not noticing them beforehand, for not realizing that you weren’t alright with what he was doing tonight. God, he hated it deeply to be the reason for your tears and he could only hope, could only pray that he hasn’t hurt you in any way, that you’d still be comfortable around him after this. Because he heard this word for the first time out of your mouth like this and he swore right this moment he would never do anything to make you say it ever again. He would make sure of it.
Minho caressed your shoulders, slightly, ever so slowly pulling you closer to his own body. He didn’t want to scare you away, didn’t want you to be fearful in any way of him, so he moved carefully, didn’t move at all without thinking first. When he saw that you leaned your body towards him, when he sensed that you wanted to be in his arms, in his embrace, he hugged you tightly, caressing your arms, stroking your hair in an attempt to calm you down. He didn’t say anything until he felt your breathing becoming regular again, until he didn’t hear any sobs anymore, and only then he pulled away from you, just a bit to look at you in worry.
“Tell me what happened, baby. I don’t ever want to make you feel like this, so please tell me what I did wrong, alright?”
His voice was dripping with regret, which hurt you deeply, which made you shake your head strongly at his words.
“Practically nothing. Usually I love it when you’re like this, but- I-”,
you stuttered, Minho’s hands lingering on your arms, caressing every part of your body to reassure you, and it calmed you down, finally finding the courage to looked at him straight in the eyes before continuing,
“Today was such a stressfull day and all the edging was too overwhelming. You know that I normally love it, just- today was too exhausting.”
Minho looked at you, relieved that he finally understood, angry, furious at himself for not asking you twice since he noticed your unusual behavior, noticed the way you attacked him so desperately the moment you came home.
“I’m sorry, I should have told you, you didn’t know.”
It broke Minho’s heart into pieces, you apologizing for a mistake he has done. His lips quickly found yours, giving you a small peck before he interwined his hands with yours, looking deeply into your eyes.
“Hey, listen. It’s not your fault. This is fully on me, alright? Yes, I didn’t know about it but I should’ve made sure I did, I should’ve simply asked you. You have nothing to do with my mistakes, okay?”
It felt like a stone fell from your heart after his words. You felt at ease with Minho reassuring you in that way, with him not making you feel bad for stopping him like this or worrying him, with him understanding where you were coming from. You felt safe around him and you decided to let him know by capturing his lips in yours, kissing him lovingly, kissing him as if you mean it. Because you did, truly. Minho kissed you back, the same exact way, feeling, somehow sensing your emotions and meeting them. Your hands found their way to his messy hair, entangling in the strands, while his were roaming around your back, endearing every so little part of your body. You sighed against his lips, moving even closer to him until you straddled his lap, your bare chest pressed tightly against his own one, and you kissed him with a passion, with a heat he didn’t expect you to find after such an eventful day. But you were needy, needy for what Minho has been denying you for way too long now, so you pulled away, giving the male time to breathe before saying;
“Please make me feel good.”
Minho looked at you for a moment, reading your face, your expression before flipping you over gently, kissing your lips once again the moment he was hovered above you. His lips found your neck, sucking on your sweet spot while you felt his tip brush against your entrance already. You whined at just that, sensitivity and previous emotions being the cause of your reactions. Minho looked up at you, his eyes still filled with worry, sweat glistening on his forehead.
“You’re a hundred percent sure? You really want this, right?”
You smiled at at his words, impossibly greatful for a boyfriend like him, and you nodded your head yes, reassuring him.
“Yes, Minho, I do.”
With that he had his lips on yours again and you felt him stretching you suddenly, the pain almost harmless due to plenty preparation before. Minho didn’t convert his eyes from you even once, watching your every movement closely until he bottomed out, making the both of you moan quietly. He didn’t move just yet, waiting for your assurance to start moving and it quickly came with you patting his shoulder two times, just like how he knows it. He looked at you while he rolled his lips once, slowly, very slowly so, eyeing you carefully, still. The last thing he wanted now was to be too fast, was to scare you away. After you scrunched your face in pleasure, wanting more of the feeling Minho has only given you a taste of now, he started moving faster, rolling his hips against yours, angleing his thrusts the way he knew would make you scream in seconds. You started digging your nails into the males back, his shoulders, anything you could get ahold on. And, god, Minho had to fight so hard to keep his composure, to not tremble at the way you felt so dangerously good around him, so warm and deep that it got him weak in the knees. The sounds you were making, your moans, especially of his name didn’t make anything easier and he swore he almost lost it when he felt you clench around him, signaling how close you were already. Minho aimed to make you feel as good as possible, as fast possible so he fastened the movements of his hips just an ounce, reaching the speed he knew you loved the most and angled himself just perfectly. With one loud, drawn out moan you came undone beneath him, body shaking, eyes closed shut, chest heaving fast. Minho pulled out and pumped himself just a few more times before releasing on your stomach, panting just as heavily. No matter how much he liked seeing his cum on you, anywhere on you he got his priorities straight, hurried to grab some tissues to wipe you clean and watched how you slowly came down again, breathing becoming regular, eyes opening to look at him. Minho gave you a loving smile, caressing your cheek with his thumb.
“Thank you. I love you.”
Minho’s heart nothing but melted at your words, already picking you up to run you a bath, to clean you up. To take care of you just a little bit more.